Monday, 21 November 2016

Better Late Than Never

About 7 years ago there was a flurry of excitement among C19th Wargamers as the Carlist War hove into view in the form of some excellent figures from the Perry Brothers and a first class supporting book from Conrad Cairns.

In my time, I’ve thrilled at the sight of the Rias of Galicia, poured Cider libations in Asturias and delighted in the Basque country but it was all 28mm and so it passed me by.  Until now that is.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed QRF had produced some 15mm figures for the First Carlist War.  I enquired about the new range and Chas told me

 “We intend to have the Cristino command – and flank Companies, in production within a fortnight.  These will be followed by Carlist infantry.  The intention is to have a range similar to the old 28mm rang that we used to make some years ago, so we will be doing French and British Legions, plus cavalry and artillery and possibly the Portuguese too.”

As a 15mm gamer you could not ask for more and I know from experience QRF always deliver so no fear of half completed armies. I ordered some figures and you can see some of them here.

I also bought the Cairns book from the Perry’s-great service and a fair price. The book is just what’s needed for anyone coming new to the period.

I also had a poke about the Bits Box and assembled enough figures (Black Hat) to make up three Cristino battalions.  You can see one of Cazadores here.

Finally, I ordered some British from ERM for the Irish Brigade of the British Auxiliary Legion. You can see one unit of them here.

The flags shown are all from Steve at who kindly makes them freely available.

All in all, a good start I think.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Next Play Test

As you know I was happy with the last play test of At the Ends of Empire but I feel the need to try the mechanisms further before I’m fully satisfied.

The next play test will be another away game for the Romans this time against Sasanian Persia.  Getting a grip on how Persian armies worked is a bit tricky as academic opinion varies and changes.  Some things seem clear enough we are certainly talking about major missilery and lots of armour, more in fact than the Romans, nor were the Persians afraid of close fighting.  They also had elephants which the Romans loathed. 

To this we can add large numbers of very agile horse archers recruited from the nomad population of the Persian Empire.

The Persian cavalry had the edge on their Roman counterparts until the latter adopted the Hunnic bow and up armoured.

The Roman infantry was good and seems to have thought nothing of attacking the Persian cavalry.  The Persians had some good infantry but mostly they were not fit to stand up to the Legions in a close fight.

I’m inclined to think this should be a big battle with lots of troops on the table.  More soon.

Monday, 7 November 2016


The purpose of a play test is to see how things work or don’t, as the case might be.  So how did it go?

Most pleasing for me was that the Drungus and Chariot rules worked, the latter less spectacularly than I might have wished, but it seamlessly delivered both a missile platform and battle taxi.  

The Drungus showed its strength, and the reasons for its longevity, when an unarmoured unit of Roman cavalry sent twice its number of Pict spear men reeling back at no loss to itself.  It showed its weakness when the same cavalry got emmeshed in a second group of Pict spearmen and lost half its fighting strength.

The Legions did what they were supposed to do and routed everyone in front of them-but they were trained and armoured and fighting unarmoured part timers.

Unarmoured Roman close fighters didn’t do as well but could still take on greater numbers and if not prevail at least hold their own.  The artillery wasn't ready but it will be there next time.

Archery worked but unarmoured archers were vulnerable to both Missilery and Melee.
Armour and luck allowed the Roman cavalry survive against twice their number of equally well motivated and skilled but unarmoured, and in dice terms unlucky, Drungus using Pict noble cavalry. I’m comfortable with that level of combat uncertainty.

The Picts won in terms of holding the field and achieving their own pre-declared battle objectives but they lost two units and had the Romans not ran out of steam (Army Morale Points) would have lost more.  

The terrain fought for the Picts as it should for any competent defending force.

Leaders had to work to keep their troops fighting and surprisingly none of them were killed.

The Romans did not lose a single unit but might have lost the Army had they continued beyond their last Army Morale Point.  As it was, a despatch home might have said something like “I Remain in the field having inflicted losses on the enemy”.

I’m happy with At the Ends of Empire so far, but the true test will be a much bigger expedition into Persia against a very different enemy.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

End Moves

To continue with the Picts where we left off.

Card 3 Lull- no action. Card 4 Melee- Casno’s spear men wreak havoc among the embattled Roman cavalry causing shock and heavy losses before they can get out of contact. Fighting continues in Pict Centre with no clear advantage.
Card 5 Missilery- the Pict archers shoot at the retiring cavalry to no effect but the Roman archers receive sufficient casualties to drive them out of the line of battle leaving them in shock. The charioteers hurl javelins at the agile Roman cavalry who escape harm. The Pict cavalry have more success driving their opponents back with loss.
Card 5 Army Morale- no action. Card 6 Group Move- The Pict cavalry renew their assault the charioteers dismounting to fight at close quarters but the Romans grimly hang on.

Army Dice: Rome 2 v Pict 4. Two cards in play.
PictsCard 1 Command- an attempt to rally the routing Pict war band fails. Card 2 MissileryPict shooting causes the retiring Roman archers to move out of bow shot.

RomeCard 1 Melee- the Romans play their last Tactical Advantage Card and their cavalry drive back the Pict cavalry and turn on the charioteers, in the centre the melee continues. Card 2 Artillery- no action as it is not with the army.  

Army DiceRome 12 v Picts 4. 

Eight cards in play. RomeCard 1 Group Move- the Legions roll high and even and hit the flank of the Pict Centre inflicting losses and driving their opponents out of position.  

Card 2 Command- The Romans have half of their units near to breaking point and need to rally and recover unit integrityFalco begins and rallies his cavalry losses at the cost of 2 Army Morale Points. Another Roman cavalry unit is rallied at a cost of 2 Army Morale Points.  Card 3 Army Morale- no action. Card 4 Missilery- no targets. The Romans have no cards left unturned so both sides reshuffle their decks and a new turn begins.

Army DiceRome 9 v Picts 8.  Rome: One card in play. Card 1 Group Move. The Roman Centre advances, the archers shoot to no avail, one unit slaughters the Pict archers but the other is badly beaten by the High King’s warriors losing the last 2 remaining Roman Army Morale Points.  The Army must now disengage.