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Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Pikeman’s Lament (TPL) for Monongahela

I’m taken by the idea of using TPL for various French and Indian Wars encounters and where better to start than Monongahela. The first thing to do is to slot the combatants into TPL categories.  Both sides will have 24 points worth of troops.

For the French, we have two units of Forlorn Hope, each of 6 figures, representing the Compagnies de Franches or colonial marines as they are often called in English.  Tough and very able.

Then we have 3 units of Indians or Canadians each costing 4 points and represented as six figures each of veteran Commanded Shot.

For the Anglo-Americans, we have one unit of 6 Grenadiers rated as Forlorn Hope and costing 6 points. Deadly lads, they initially drove off their opponents with crushing volley fire.

Then we have a unit of 12 British regulars who as veteran Shot also cost 6 points.  That's the valiant and intelligent young Lord Howe in the red coat, who was killed in a pre - battle skirmish.

Two units of American Provincial infantry each of 12 figures and rated as inferior Shot add another 6 points.  I'm rating then inferior because they were newly raised on an annual basis and only embodied for part of the year.  I also wanted lots of them on the table.

The remaining 6 points pay for 3 units of Commanded Shot representing the Ranger companies.  As yet they lack the skills of their Canadians and Indian equivalents.

The terrain will be mostly woods, hills and trails. Selecting a suitable scenario may lead me to borrow from Dan Mersey's other rule sets.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Fast Work and Mohawks

The Iroquois League had recently taken on the Seneca nation as probationary members.  This meant the Seneca lost their political autonomy,  worse the League was now divided with a minority of tribes inclined to Onontio.  Indian politics was as complex as politics anywhere but fear of the densely populated and land hungry British colonies now dominated decision taking.

A group of Virginia land speculators, including the soon to be famous George Washington, were in a cabal with Mohawks to establish a claim Seneca territory and then sell it to settlers at a huge profit.

While this was unfolding Washington and The Half King, a prominent Mohawk, were involved in the killing of a French emissary.  The Seneca whose territory this occurred in were appalled.  Ontontio would surely wreak vengeance.

Washington, despite fearing his career was over, found his luck held. The royal and colonial authorities decided that attack was the best form of defence. The part time colonial militia was ordered to concentrate, Ranger companies were gathered and British regulars and artillery committed to the offensive.

Some effort was made by the British to adapt to wilderness warfare by lightening the load carried by regular troops and adapting their clothing.  The Anglo-American forces had a huge advantage in numbers, and were not lacking in skill or morale, but in terms of wilderness fighting they were at the beginning of a very steep learning curve. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Some incremental SYW Prussian Progress

I thought I’d better get my SYW skates on what with the Blue Moon Hungarian infantry command being on its way.

So, the first of three units of Prussian cuirassiers is now done.  These fellows are the Markgraf Friedrich von Brandenburg cuirassiers with a nice flag from Kronoscaf.  Some generals too. 

More Onontio tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Onontio and Friends-Part 1

Onontio was what the native American tribes called the Governor General of New France.  

Onontio and his fellows were OK, they brought trade goods, especially guns of good quality.  His young men came to stay, they could speak the language and sometimes they married local girls.  Best of all they would join you on the war path where reputations were made.

Nor did Onontio want your land, he understood who and what you were and how things were supposed to work.  It was true Onontio was sometimes crazy, if you took captives you could sell them to him, the white ones anyhow, and then he would send them home!

If Indian politics worked on reputation Onontio could rest assured he had a good one.  Unless you weren’t his friend, then things were different and woe betide Onontio’s enemies.  

When Onontio went to war, his young men came and gave good presents and good reasons why you might like to take up the hatchet too.

I want to see how Onontio and pals get on in a game of The Pikeman’s Lament.  Before we do that let's review the forces involved and do a bit of scene setting.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Problem with Hatti

Hatti was the capital of the Hittites, a powerful civilisation that left us the usual sculpture, some fantastic cuneiform tablets including a manual on chariot training and the odd literary mention elsewhere.  Biblical Uriah was a Hittite for example and you cannot have a battle of Kadesh without Hittites.

Scholars though seem to have struggled to identify any particular Hittite evidence as opposed to evidence of the peoples of Hatti.  Some decided there were no Hittites in the sense that there were Mycenaeans or Sardana.  It seems Hatti arose from the existing pre - Hittite peoples of the region and established its dominion over others.  A home - grown imperium if you like.  So that’s the Hittites unless scholarship has moved on.

My Hittite retinue for Mycenaean Lion Rampant is going to have two squadrons of chariots, one unit of foot sergeants for the regular troops and the rest as conscript bow or spear.  

I’m interested to see how it copes with the Sea Peoples.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Sea Peoples

The Sea Peoples almost seem to have been the Huns of their day.  Great and once invincible empires fell or declined and a dominant military technology was rendered redundant.  The old palace culture was destroyed because the charioteers who benefited by it and protected it, could no longer do so.

Drews, a scholar well worth reading, thinks that the Sea People infantry could match the chariots because they were equally well armed and armoured, swift moving and quite prepared to take the fight to the enemy. There were also relatively speaking lots of them.

In his view their armour reduced the effectiveness of the composite bow, forcing the charioteers to come to close range, the infantrymen then surged forward seeking to kill the chariot horses with javelins, and then despatching any stranded charioteers by virtue of equality of skill and equipment and advantage of numbers. It’s a compelling vision.

Against the old order’s infantry, the Sea Peoples were invincible, only the Heroes could match them in skill and arms and there simply were not enough of them. 

Interesting stuff for the table I think, anyhow here are my Sea People.  These ones are Black Hat and Chariot.

Friday, 12 May 2017

That’s Them!

These lads are my Austrian General Staff for the Army of Maria Teresa as you can see they have spotted something.

“Thank God” Says Daun to Von Browne “it’s the Hungarian foot command”

“Yes” Replies Von Browne “We can finally field our Hungarian Battalions.”

"Oh" says young Maguire "There's the Hungarian Grenadier command too!  Ah no..false alarm."

Most of my SYW collection are Blue Moon 15mm who have just released their Hungarian infantry command pack.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Chariots

So, the chariots, what do we know?  Firstly, chariots were an innovative military technology that enabled the Aryans* and their imitators to dominate the battlefield wherever they went.  Making and maintaining chariots was complex and expensive.  Providing, training and feeding the horses was equally so.  Each chariot had a long tail of technicians and specialists behind it, all of whom needed reward and bed and board and that’s before we get to the specialist crew.

Chariots were fast moving and durable, the horses and crew were trained to have high stamina.  Some protection was provided to the crew by the vehicle itself although as it was of light construction more was needed.  Various armours were provided to the fighting crewman, thin bronze plate for the Mycenaeans and full length bronze scale coats further east.  The expensive investment of time and resources was being protected.  The horses were more vulnerable and couldn’t be up armoured in the same way without compromising speed and stamina.  

The consensus is that chariots fought by shooting down their opponents from outside the effective range of return fire of most opponents.  This was enabled by using the more effective and very expensive composite bow.  Against other chariots they dueled until one side prevailed.  There may, or may not, have been a convention among charioteers not to harm each other’s valuable horses which could then be taken as prizes by the winners. This all seems to work for middle eastern armies.

To model this on the table, what we need is a fast - moving missile platform whose crew can out range all opponents not similarly equipped.  Invulnerable except to equals unless they get caught in melee or stray into enemy effective missile range.  Not too hard to achieve within the Lion Rampant framework.  First, as a special rule, use the existing skirmish rule shoot/move/move /shoot as an ordered action. Second, and trickier, the charioteers bows should out range all others and be more effective.  We could just do away with the long range shooting penalty for chariot troops using composite bows.  Otherwise, its increasing the range for composite bow fire or reducing the range of non composite bows. 

If, and it’s just an if, Mycenaean chariots were intended for close combat we need a different model.  Missilery is now a javelin much shorter ranged than the composite or indeed any other bow or sling. 

The chariot is just as swift but now the charioteer must bring his warrior into prime position to spear their chariot borne opponent. There is absolutely no requirement to envisage such combat as a ‘joust’.  An Arial ‘dog fight’ might be a better comparative image. 

Against spear armed foot this model of chariot squadron could simple pass along the opposing frontage hurling javelins or swiftly dismount a band of heavily protected heroes who would make mincemeat of anyone in front of them.

Some of this is straight forward, an ordered 'dismount' move to taxi the heroes in and another 'remount' to pick them up.  This gives us two newly dismounted Mycenaean heroes in Dendra armour who will each throw 6 attack dice, heroic indeed.   Likewise javelin throwing, an ordered skirmish move and shoot at a range of ''3 works for me. 

I'm going to use two chariots per unit, since they can take 6 hits I'm adding 4 non fighting chariot runners who can be removed as casualties mount.  A nicer aesthetic than my usual markers I think.

To try this out using Lion Rampant I'm going to use Mycenaeans versus a Sea People and Libyan alliance in a Hammer and Anvil scenario.  All I'm waiting for is a delivery from Warbases.

*Not to be confused with any 20th century politically ideologized concept of Aryans.

Monday, 8 May 2017


Here are all the troop types for my Libyan Retinue for Mycenaean Lion Rampant.  I’m going to rate most of the warriors as Foot Yeoman with javelins to model throwing sticks and such like.  No one seems to have said they were particularly fierce but there do seem to have been lots of them so that seems to work.

There were also archers who seem to have been of fairly average quality, not bad but not exceptional.

Moving up the military food chain we have The Mighty Mesh Wesh who are a cut above their fellows.  Foot Sergeants for them, one unit only and they will be getting some shields.

Last but not least-Chariots!  These ones will have composite bows to make things interesting.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Mycenaean Lion Rampant

I wrote a blog about how Lion Rampant might work for the Bronze Age and then discovered it was redundant as people had been doing it for years.  So, let’s get on to the meat.  I have embryonic Mycenaean, Sea Peoples, Libyan and Hittite armies.  They never got finished, although most of them are painted.  They are now being transformed into LR retinues and hopefully much fun will ensue.

The big debate here is about chariots, what type, what tactics, how does it all work?  If you’re up on this sort of thing you will know Drews argues that chariots are almost always mobile missile platforms.  The battle winning combination being the swift chariot and the more powerful and longer ranged composite bow. Well maybe, but the Mycenaean evidence is not conclusive.

If you are a Society of Ancients member you will be informed by Ian Russell Lowell.  He sees the minimal chariot unit as a pair and likens them to fighter pilots.  They duel with their opponents, prevail and then despatch their lesser pedestrian enemies at leisure.  I find this very credible.  

Anyhow, rating chariots correctly is key to reflecting Bronze Age warfare.
I’m going to try a couple of approaches which you can read about here as I progress.  They will either work on the table or not. I’m going to try out spear armed chariots and the battle taxi theory too. You can judge how I get on.

Meantime this page shows my Mycenaean Retinue so far.

All Museum Miniatures 15mm should you fancy getting some.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Pikeman’s Lament (TPL) for The ‘15

Encouraged by my experience with TMWWBK I thought I might have a go with TPL from the same stable.  Questions arose like mist off a lake, which armies to choose?  Can I avoid rebasing?  Will I have to buy more stuff?  The last two were particularly important.  I hate rebasing and I have too much stuff. Time for a big intake of breath and a look in the Bits Box.  

Opening the Bits Box is a TARDIS like experience, its small but there’s loads in there.
First out were some British dragoons (Roundway 15mm Marlburian) already painted! Then some Highlanders ditto on all counts.  Next came some Lowland horse still in the packets. Then from the Cupboard of Lost Projects a full Spanish battalion in yellow coats and two British ones, in red naturally enough.  

Things were looking good for the 1715 Jacobite Rising.  Albeit with the Spanish four years premature  and in the wrong uniform.  A bit more poking about and I had enough figures for both sides. With a little painting I had enough for options too. Mainly, for initial forces it was just a bit of basing and rebasing required.

I rather fancy an Anglo-Scots  border based campaign. Perhaps accompanied by a wistful hum of Derwent Water Lament.  You can see some of the units on this page.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The End Is Near

Reno now needs to conduct a fighting retreat.  He intends to hold off the hostiles with fire power with each troop covering the retreat in turn.  The Crows down two of the Crow Owners and retire and Benteen’s boys shoot another. So far so good, those Indians won’t be doing much now.  Then disaster strikes, Reno’s troop refuses to move.  They think it safer to hold their ground and blaze away.

The Kit Foxes replace the Crow Owners killing two of Benteen’s men.  Worse the Badgers now appear of Reno’s flank killing another four troopers. Now, Sinjté demonstrates his worth and leads his badly armed Lakota out of cover and into bow range, more troopers fall. It’s over for Reno.

I enjoyed these rules and thought they delivered a fun and believable game. Had Reno not got caught in a confined space he would have done better.  He was unlucky too when his men refused to move by doing so they gave the Lakota their chance.

Sinjté made good use of cover and bide'd his time well.  Toka ‘La’s dream served the Kit Foxes well and in real life would have earned him great respect.  The Badger Society would also have been very pleased with themselves.  Not so the Crow Owners who took heavy casualties.  The Lakota also enjoyed excellent dice while those for the Cavalry and Crow were mostly average at best.

I’ll probably introduce dismounted and consequently more effective fire power for the cavalry at a cost of two horse holders a unit and a move action.  Simple enough.  It will also provide the opportunity for the Lakota to try and run off the horses.  A favourite tactic.

For the Lakota, the characterisation part of the game lends itself to introducing some Plains flavour.  A thumbs up for TMWWBK then,  I'll certainly play more Plains War games with it. 

Get Off My Land

Reno gets everyone across the river while the Crow patrol the open flank.  Keogh’s troop reached the first objective but before samples can be secured are engaged by Ino ‘Ka and the Badgers who kill a trooper and pin the unit. Sinjté moves his warriors into cover and waits.  The Kit Foxes shoot up the Crow downing a warrior and pinning the rest.

The Cavalry open up causing three casualties. Reno rallies Keogh’s troop and the Crows. 
Sinjté signals to Kangi 'Yuha and the Crow Owners society who in a close skirmish kill two of Benteen’s troopers.  The Kit Foxes inflict another two casualties on the Crows pinning them

Reno needs to do something to avoid disaster-the Crows are singing their death songs.  He orders fire at will, the Crows down a warrior while Benteen’s boys kill another two.  His own troop open up on Keogh’s attackers but its long range and they miss.

Ino ‘Ka’s Badgers are now among Keogh’s troop and doing serious damage.  Keogh and a single survivor reach Reno’s line.

Emboldened Kangi 'Yuha’s warriors close to skirmish with Benteen’s men but fail to inflict casualties.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Keogh’s Got the Fever!

Bad news for the 7th.  Captain Keogh’s weak with fever and the brutal Major Reno has huffed the Crow.  Still everyone is excited to be looking for gold, except the Crow who know finding it would be bad news.

Meantime dispute rages among the Lakota. Toka ‘La dreamt that the next fight would be won by rifles while Kangi Yuha knows it’s getting up close that counts.  Wider opinion is mixed but everyone agrees Sinje Gleska is still the finest warrior.  Ino ‘Ka and the Badger Society have been drinking Gin all morning but no one has fallen off his horse yet.

Yes, it the first stage of a game of TMWWBK.  

Custer, who has gone hunting, has given detailed instructions on where to scout and what to look for.  Let’s see how everyone gets on.

Reno orders Keogh to advance.  Keogh is delirious, he seems to think he has been short changed in a shebeen and is going nowhere.  Benteen’s boys don’t move either and Reno’s own troop stay with the majority. It’s not going well.  The Crow do move out.

The Crow advance has kicked up dust and the Lakota, apart from the Badger Society who are heatedly discussing beetles, decide to investigate.

Reno gives it another go and all but Benteen’s troop move up.  The Crow can see a large cloud of dust heading their way.

The Lakota roll forward including the Badger Society who have decided something's up.