Sunday, 12 August 2018

Hold the Pass - Augustus to Aurelian

So for those watching the progress of my new collection of figures on JJ's Wargames Dacian Wars based around Emperor Trajan's war in Dacia, the long awaited first game was played at the club yesterday with the units, less a few, created so far.

The game also gave a chance to get reacquainted with Augustus to Aurelian (AtoA), Phil Hendry's rules, together with a scenario entitled 'Hold the Pass' from the Warlord Games, 'Rome's Dacian Wars' scenario book.

The scenario depicts a likely small battle between a Roman supply column trying to make its way forward through one of the many Dacian mountain passes and running up against a Dacian blocking force intent on preventing the supplies reaching the front.

The Dacian force consisted of four warbands, one capwearer, one falx and two others randomised between lowlanders and regulars.

Alongside the heavy infantry, were two units of javelin and archer skirmishers and two 'scorpio' bolt shooters.

The Dacian stats table above shows the factors the players work with during the game referring to each column as required, starting with unit Size (L) large (M) medium, (S) small and (T) tiny, Movement in inches, Combat Dice showing the number of d10 to roll in hand to hand, Combat Attack factor indicating the column to be used on the combat/shooting table, similarly the same for Shooting and Shooting Attack factors for use in missile attacks, the Outlook factor indicating the number of hits the unit can take before becoming shaken and finally the Rating used to indicate the units likelihood of passing a reaction test, with the number needed to be rolled equal to or less than with 2d6 before additional factors.

Note from the above that Scorpio crews aren't exactly designed to engage in hand to hand combat!

The Combat and Shooting table on which the relevant factor is used to find the column
against the armour class for the target. This generates a number to hit scored with a d10 roll equal to
 or less than the number. Additional factors can shift the column used either right or left

For comparison you can see the Roman force stats sheet for a force consisting of two cohorts of legionaries, one hardened veteran, two cohorts of auxiliaries randomly rolled for quality but with one turning up as hardened veteran.

This infantry core was accompanied by one archer and one slinger skirmish unit, one ala each of auxiliary cavalry, Praetorian cavalry and Numidian light cavalry, escorting two supply wagons.

The Romans were randomly tested for their experience levels with all the units testing as regular, except the auxiliary cavalry which were rated as 'Untried' and the Praetorian's who rated as 'Pseudo' awarded to guard units better suited to parade duties in Rome rather than being on the field of battle as an elite fighting force.

Also worth noting that the Numidian's only ever rate as regular or hardened veterans.

As you can see from the pictures of the table, the Dacian force is arrayed at one end of it, holding higher ground either side of the road pass and have built a barricade across the road.

The Romans are approaching from the other end escorting their wagons, intent on breaking through the block.

The armies organised into their respective divisions the game commences

Both sides organised themselves around two divisions under a commander with a senior commander in charge. The commanders were diced for to randomly determine their abilities.

The scenario has a time limit of about seven to eight turns for the Romans to get or be deemed to having got their wagons off the table for a major victory or to have broken the Dacian force but with their wagons on the table for a minor victory, and this definitely puts some pressure on the Romans to get on with it. Any other result would be a Dacian major victory.

One of the aspects I most like about AtoA is that unit activation is by chit/card draw and thus variable with commanders able to have a limited influence over that process with the use of 'Carpe Diem' chits used to grab the initiative when required.

However the turn phase is also governed by the revealing of the Meridiatio chits of which their are two and with the second drawn indicating the end of the turn. This means game turns can be long or short with all or some units getting to activate.

To add yet more uncertainty I randomised when the game would end so putting plenty of pressure into the scenario for both sides to either look to hang on or press as hard and as rapidly as possible to get a favourable result.

The Romans advance with bright red order markers next to command bases and darker red pilum markers next to the legionary cohorts

Throwing a certain amount of caution to the winds given the time constraints, the Roman force barrelled on down the road using march movement to close on the Dacian position within about two complete turns.

The pilum marker is used to indicate when the legionaries have used their specialist javelins

With one Roman division on their left composed of the cavalry plus a unit of skirmish archers, the Praetorian cavalry, led the way and closed on the Dacian right division ahead of the supporting legionaries and auxiliary infantry.

The Dacian warbands sport yellow counters to record their 'brave warrior' count, two each, allowing the unit to get an extra combat dice by deploying a berserker into the Roman ranks - In time I will replace the counters with more suitable individual figures.

Meanwhile as the Romans methodically approached, the Dacians contented themselves to plying their ranks with scorpio bolts and greeting their arrival at their line with additional arrows and javelins.

The Dacian line was well supplied with missile troops

The Praetorian cavalry were a little annoyed with the greeting they received from the Dacian skirmish screen and quickly drove it in with a charge, only to be met my two yelling bands of Dacian warriors crashing into their line from the ridge above.

En mass, the Dacian infantry appear very intimidating

However, palace guards they may have been, but they still bore the title Praetorian and were determined to live up to it, taking enough hits to cause them to go shaken but surviving the reaction test that followed the melee to remain in the fight for another turn.

With their skirmish screen forward, the Dacians cause early casualties with long range bolt shooting scorpios

As the Praetorian's held their ground the Numidians and auxiliary archers cleared the skirmishers from the Dacian extreme right flank whilst the auxiliary cavalry moved up in support.

Fortunately for the guard, the infantry were only a move away from supporting them on the other side of the road, and sure enough, in the next turn the cohort of veteran auxiliary infantry charged forward with a volley of javelins to hit one of the warbands fighting the guard and thus relieve the pressure on them.

In the next round of combat both Dacian warbands were shaken and pushed back but the Praetorian resolve gave way as they fell back through the auxiliary cavalry.

The Roman cavalry on the left of the road lead the Roman assault on the pass

Both opposing divisions were now teetering on morale failure with halve of their units close to being shaken or driven from the field thus forcing the remainder to retire.

Another round of melee saw that situation arise and both divisions were forced to break off leaving the weaker of the two Dacian forces to face off against the Roman infantry desperately trying to engage before the game time expired.

The Roman supply train follow in the wake of the troops

The first cohort of legionaries lived up to their billing hitting with both their pila and gladius strikes to leave the opposing Dacian warband reeling with four hits but not before returning the compliment with three hits of their own on the much smaller Roman unit causing both to go shaken, but seeing the Roman unit win the combat and push the Dacians back.

The Dacian field warbands of around a thousand men in each

With the game time allowed closing in on just one turn remaining and with all the 'Carpe Diem' chits thrown into the draw bag, both sides went at it for one more desperate round with the Roman infantry looking to break the opposing Dacians and grab a minor victory whilst their opponents grimly looked to hang on.

The Praetorian Guard cavalry are counter-charged by two Dacian warbands

Their simply wasn't enough time for the Roman infantry to bring their full force to bear which would probably have seen them victorious in another turn or two, time they did not get.

The Roman infantry, under heavy bolt shooting, press on towards the Dacian ridge line

So victory to the Dacians with the pass held and Trajan no doubt cursing over his delayed resupplies likely forcing the campaign to a close and his army into a winter quarters to await the spring.

Thanks to Steve L, Mr Steve, Mike and Nathan for a fun game using the new collection and to Nick for a resupply of tufts and flowers to garnish yet more bases and indeed the newest unit to join the collection, the Praetorian Guard cavalry, finished off that morning.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Sharply Buffed - Eighty Years War

At the July meeting Colin dug out his very pretty Dutch Revolt 28 mm collection and ran a Dutch v
Spanish game. "Sharply Buffed" rules were used in this 80 Years War clash.

The rules adaptation was published in the Lardy Summer Special 2017 and go by the name Sharply Buffed, written by Nick Worthington.
Too Fat Lardies - Summer Special 2017

Colin's report and more pictures can be found here on his blog - The Leadpile

Chas & I took the Spanish, out to capture and re-dedicate a church the Dutch had defiled with their
heinous religion. A little visit from the "Inquisition" was on the cards.

Standing against this foreign interference were the very protestant Dutch, in the person of Bob &

The game opened with some long range musketry from both sides. The Spanish "loose shot" rushed
to take positions in an orchard on our right and settled down to give the good news to the
approaching Dutch pike block.

On our left our musketeers were caught by a very aggressive move by gendarmes and remembered
an important appointment elsewhere. The supporting pike block turned left and mullered the
gendarmes. Honours even.

Meanwhile mounted arquebusiers and our loose shot were making life uncomfortable for a Dutch
pike unit and our left exchanged fire with the Dutch shot on our left.

Fired up, our victorious pike moved up to charge the Dutch line. A face full of shot hurt and then the
hand to hand made things worse and back they came. As Chas cheerfully observed, "that went

By now the centre Dutch pike were shot to pieces and went home, whilst their other pike unit on
their left, was struggling through the streets of the town.

A fresh tercio moved up and engaged the Dutch halberds on our left. A short fight later and the
Dutch fell back.

With skirmishers and swordsmen waiting for the Dutch pike to offer their flank and the Dutch right
in trouble, Ian and Bob conceded.

A good game, which could have gone either way. The rules worked well and were picked up quickly
by all the players.

Many thanks to Bob, Ian and Chas for playing to the spirit of the rules.


Saturday, 28 July 2018

Battle of Reams Station 1864 : Brigade Fire & Fury v2

ACW is a popular era to play at the DWG so when a new version of Brigade Fire & Fury came out, we all looked around to see which person in the club would be the first to weaken.

Steve Land was that person and so we agreed to put on a game in 15mm to see what had changed and if was for the better.

There are three scenarios included in the book and we chose the smallest one to make sure that we actually finished it during club hours. Steve has also done a rough précis of the differences between the three sets, BFF, RFF and BFF2 which I will include at the end.

The table was set out as per the book as best as we could make it and the scenario set a twelve turn limit with the last two turns being twilight, we also made sure to play all the special rules. I have included a map which outlines the actual battle and can be used to follow our game.

Map of Reams Station 1864: Civil Wars Trust

Onto our Game:
Wilcox’s division was the only Confederate formation on the table and it headed straight towards the Union entrenchments, Smyth’s Union Brigade coming on table, marched quickly up the road towards the rest of its division.

In their first assault Wilcox’s four brigades had varying degrees of success, McGowan and Anderson faltered due to losses and disruptions on the approach, Scales managed to charge in but bounced back however Connor’s Brigade carried the defensive position forcing the Consolidated Brigade back and overrunning a battery but seeing the blue hordes waiting for them they sensibly decided to withdraw back over the defences to rejoin the rest of the division.

By turn 3 Heth had arrived and his Division started to take up position on the right of the Confederate line with the artillery forming up in the centre. Smyth’s Brigade seeing these developments stopped their march and turned to defend woods on the Union left, two cavalry units in the rear mounted up to assist.

Turn 4 saw Hampton's dismounted cavalry arrive down the road from the extreme right which drew the attention of Smyth and the two cavalry brigades on that flank. These units fought it out until the end of the game with the Union cavalry repeaters making a telling difference.

By turn 6 the Confederates were ready to try again with Heth assaulting from the right and Wilcox again attacking head on. With so many targets the Union forces couldn’t stop them all especially Heth’s fresh division who smashed over the walls breaking through Murphy’s Brigade, Wilcox’s battered division with help from Weisiger's on loan Brigade finished off Broady’s stout defence and had a breakthrough charge into Rugg’s fresh unit. Despite being Green against Crack they stopped the weakened Confederates and pushed them back.

Steadman’s cavalry who had been held on picket duty out on the Union right had been released by Wilcox’s first assault crossing the railway line and quickly moved around to join the action, their repeaters could crumble the Confederate left and combined with Lynch’s fresh brigade which was advancing alongside them, looked like they could be a serious threat. Fortunately the only repeating they did was repeatedly missing everything in sight.

By now both sides had lost sufficient stands to reach the Heavy Casualties condition (Union 13 stands 20%, Rebs 19 stands 30%) and the Union having lost slightly more became the side with Greater Losses, both of these events had an effect on all future manoeuvre dice rolls (-1 for Heavy and -2 for Greater).

Smyth’s Brigade still fighting out in the woods got caught between Hampton’s cavalry and one of Heth’s brigades and were broken as well.

With the Confederates over the walls in strength, Greater losses and only two fresh brigades, the Union forces retreated as per real life.

The scenario is quite well done and I would recommend it to be played.

As for the rules, I think when I briefly flicked through them on an earlier visit I labelled them Regimental Brigade and Fury, now after playing them I think that’s unfair. I am not a fan of Regimental (i.e. will play them but never buying a set) and v2 Brigade has improved on the original by taking the best out of Regimental and weaving them into Brigade, the rules are noticeably still very much Brigade Fire and Fury and have been improved sufficiently to make buying a set worth while (if you can find any).

As I mentioned above, Steve did a rough outline of the differences for the players and which I have copied below:

From my memory only, the charge /shooting table is different in that it follows Regimental more than the old set as it depends on the target troop types for the effects (Green, Vets etc), which is OK, and I did like the more visible ability to adjust your brigade effectiveness when setting up so that not all similar sized Veterans automatically get the same three scores, This can be used to reflect tiredness or temporary poor morale/dissatisfaction etc.

Overall, my impression was positive and will try and get a set once they become available again.

This has been a Mr Steve production.