Clotted Lard

Clotted Lard

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Samnites v Romans - Hail Caesar

Our third game at club last month was a 15mm Hail Caesar game put on by Nick and Steve L and involved a strong Roman force reinforced by Campanian allies taking on a Samnite army supported by Gauls.

Both armies were split into four roughly equal infantry divisions with sufficient cavalry to make another two if the players wished to break them off.

The Romans set up with most of their heavier cavalry on the far left of the table with the Campanian allies off to their right, two bodies of Romans held the middle with the intention of taking the central position containing a ruined temple and a small village.

Out on the right facing the Gallic wing of the enemy army was the last of the Roman infantry along with what remained of the cavalry.

The Samnites held the centre with their heavier infantry and placed the rest of their infantry either side, the Samnite cavalry faced off the Roman cavalry out on the wing. The Gaul’s were given the left hand side for their mixed force of warbands, chariots and cavalry.

The Roman cavalry and Campanians had a bit of a problem, they were facing two Samnite infantry blocks and a strong force of cavalry so whilst the Romans held back their cavalry south of the nearby woods and guarded the edge of the table, the Campanian long spear phalanxes along with supporting infantry slowly advanced whilst trying to maintain contact with the forces either side.

In the ensuing combat the phalanxes held the initial Samnite rush with their heavier armour helping to slightly nullify the pilum coming their way but casualties quickly mounted on both sides for those who were not so well equipped.

Over time both sides were tiring with most units seeing red dice indicating shaken status replacing the normal white ones however only the larger Campanian units could absorb so many hits and their weaker supports started to leave the table along with some of the Samnites.

To their left with the enemy coming around and over the wooded hill and threatening their allies flanks the Roman cavalry had to now get engaged and try and hold them for as long as they could.

Overall they had the upper hand and the Samnite cavalry was pushed back all along the line however the supporting infantry ignored all this and closed in on the open Campanian flank. With no help available it wasn’t looking good if you weren’t a Roman with access to a horse.

In the centre the heavy Samnite foot had occupied the buildings and ruined temple, here they faced two divisions of Romans advancing in their traditional three lines of Hastati, Principes and Triarii. Try as they might the Romans couldn’t dislodge the defending Samnites and sluggish movement through the village and dogged resistance from the rest of the Samnite infantry prevented them from turning in on the Temple from the flanks.

The two sides slugged it out without conclusion so let’s move on to something more interesting.

On the Roman right a solitary Roman infantry division had the problem of hordes of ‘hairy Gaul’s racing towards them along with a substantial mounted force.

The supporting Roman cavalry consisted mostly of lighter troops and using the traditional tactics of darting in and then evading as necessary managed to slow up the Gallic chariots and cavalry for some time, eventually of course they had to commit and after a valiant struggle they and their single unit of mediums were broken but not before causing their enemy to take significant damage and putting them out of the game for several turns whilst they reorganised.

As the cavalry melee was reaching its dénouement, the Gallic warbands and the Roman infantry finally met each other on the top of a nearby hill.

The Romans lost, badly. Their smaller units could support each other whilst the large warbands got in each others way and generally had to fight singularly but when you only take four hits to be shaken and the enemy have nine attack rolls then it isn’t going to be easy especially at this time only the Hastati have Pilum and the Triari are the only ones with Heavy armour.

The Romans hung around for two or three turns but there were just too many Gaul’s and all of them were in much larger units and so after lopping off sufficient heads to take back as presents for the wife and kids they went looking for more action. This happened to be the Romans still trying to clear the village and temple.

The Romans now with both flanks collapsed and the Samnites showing no sign of being forced out of the Temple ordered a general retreat, which wasn’t going to be easy but as no one plays retreats it was therefore deemed to be pub time.

This period of Roman history is quite interesting as they do not have the overwhelming advantages found later on; there is only limited use of the Pilum and only gradual improvements in armour. You also have a large variety of different opponents to take on and who, when they are not fighting the Romans, fight amongst themselves and this expansion of Rome into central and southern Italy would make an excellent campaign.

We followed the Hail Caesar rules more or less as written with only minor changes, we allowed a single direct move ahead after failing a movement order for the unit or group concerned so as to speed things up, for the same reason we allowed the Gaul’s to move through the woods without penalty otherwise it’s a long way to come for the day and not do any actual fighting for the player concerned.

Figures are mainly Xyston with some Forged in Battle
Buildings: Forged in Battle
Terrain Mat: Tiny Wargames
Rules: Hail Caesar by Warlord games

This has been a Mr Steve Production

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Congo Crisis - Force on Force

In preparation for our usual summer game weekend, Chas ran a warm up Congo Crisis scenario, to
"Force on Force" rules and the "Bush Wars" supplement.

Steve M and myself took charge of "Mad Mike Hoare", his mercenaries and Armee Nationale
Congolaise troops (ANC) approaching one side of Stanleyville, whilst Belgian paratroopers under
Andy and Chris advanced on the airport at the opposite end of town. The objective was to rescue
Belgian civilians being held hostage by the rebels

Chas, Nathan. Everett and Jason took the part of the Simba rebels and their ANC deserters, holding
the airport, town and environs.

On seeing a group of locals fording the river, "Mad Mike" barked the order and an M8 armoured car
and 50 cal armed jeep gave them the good news. Scratch one Simba unit (frankly they could have
been fishermen, but as mercenaries we didn't care).

Steve similarly roughly handled some Simba crouching in the jungle and things settled into a firefight
on that side of town.

Meanwhile the Belgian paras, with more stringent "hard target" rules of engagement, sent a point
man onto the runway. "It is OK, Valentin, we have your back" said Major Andy. At that moment a
hidden mob of Simba popped up to fire, Valentin dived for cover and the two para squads on
"Overwatch" brassed up the rebels something chronic.

The going was starting to get tough for the mercenaries, with a lot of fire coming from buildings over
the river. As mercenary infantry moving back into cover, the vehicles did the heavy lifting and
chewed up a lot of Simba, but a jeep was suppressed and all the crew hit. Seeing three men down, "Mad Mike", ordered a team of ANC into the open to patch up his guys. Which they did a treat, with the jeep and the lightly wounded crew, pulling back at speed. Nothing to see here.

By now anyone on this side of town was receiving a severe dose of "Overwatch" if they stuck their
heads out, but driving into the built up area was still not looking healthy.

Meanwhile the Belgians had taken the airport and were into the outskirts of Stanleyville. They were
ably hosing down any Simba or ANC deserters that showed their heads. Still, a couple of Simba units
charged into hand to hand combat. Several Belgians fell, before supporting fire cut the rebels down.

By now the writing was on the wall for Simba. They had lost a lot of men, for four mercenaries and four Belgians hit and we called it a day.

A good game, with the Belgians and "Mad Mike's" men having some good dice rolling to thank for
keeping casualties down. The magic water of the Simba rebels was clearly not working today. That
said, when it got up close and personal, it could easily have been a bad day in Brussels.

Many thanks to Chas for running the scenario and to the other players for taking it all in good part.
Note to self: Keep soft skin vehicles well back next time.


Sunday, 14 April 2019

Battle in the Congo - Chain of Command

Just over a month ago, Bob brought to club his excellent WWI African collection of figures to host a WWI Chain of Command battle which caught mine and others eyes when we posted about the game here on the club blog.

Needless to say with my recent extracurricular activities centered around taking a 'deep-dive' into Chain of Command and the series of games we have been playing as part of the '29 Lets Go' WWII campaign I was really eager, and jumped at the chance, of seeing the rules used for a completely different campaign and era.

Belgian troops in WWI Africa

WWI land warfare is not a period or genre that generally excites my interest but the colour and lower level tactical options the war fought on the continent of Africa during that time has to offer, makes it a peculiarly different prospect and definitely more appealing for me.

That and getting to play with Bob's lovely collection of figures and terrain that captures the look as illustrated above only adds to that attraction.

The club has been expanding quite dramatically in recent months and the picture above gives an image of the happy hubble-bubble of conversation around our three games yesterday and we are now looking to run four games at our monthly meet ups to cater for our extra membership and so it was that we had Ken joining us yesterday, as a new member to the club for our game.

Our table with the Belgian advance guard making rapid progress on to the table

The game set up saw us dispensing with the WWII use of the patrol phase and jump of points and simply had the two forces coming on from opposite sides of the table through typical broken African scrub-land terrain that limited firing ranges to eighteen inches.

The Belgian column was on the march escorting a supply troop of African bearers but wary of reports of a likely attempt by German forces to try and ambush them en route. The mission was to escort the supplies off the opposite table edge whilst the Germans were attempting to prevent that happening.

A mixture of regular and irregular Belgian sections covered the approach march of the following bearer column

As the Belgian commanders, both John and I got some early luck on the dice with my force of Belgian Askaris, in their field drab, arriving on table with maximum force morale and with John's blue clad irregulars similarly high up the morale scores and with a series of three double sixes soon saw the Belgian column making early headway on pushing across the table.

We couldn't be sure exactly where the enemy was so overwatch was used to cover the advance of friends

First contact as German sections advance from either flank as the supply column bearers move up 

Of course with the Belgian command making such rapid progress towards the opposite table edge it meant that at least one of the German pincer groups had less further to travel before being able to open fire on the lead Belgian units, but the Belgian sections were well grouped and able to deliver multiple rounds of support fire that saw the Germans unable to assert any superiority.

The Belgian commander's eye view of the situation

Lead elements of the German Askaris, strung out from their rapid advance through the bush

While the battle was well under way on one flank the other German pincer was struggling to find a way through the bush towards the sound of gunfire and poor old Bob was finding it hard to string a good series of die rolls together to get everyone moving at the rapid pace required.

A strong Belgian fire line awaited the first German sections to come into sight

This inevitably meant that the first German sections arriving on the Belgian right flank turned up strung out and were met by some well laid rapid Belgian rifle fire that left the lead German unit hugging the dirt with halve its number dead or wounded and with a lot of shock to add to the casualties.

The Belgian supply column moves up in preparation for making a rapid advance for the base line

In addition to making good headway both John and I had managed to build a cushion of Chain of Command dice that allowed John to interrupt the German move twice in succession to launch our supply column on a run to the opposite board edge and potential victory.

The German regulars attempted to hold the Belgian advance up as their askaris closed in from the other flank

To make a game of it, or was it simply we didn't roll high enough to get the column off the table in two moves, I forget exactly which it was; the attempt to exit fell short and both Bob and Ken swung two sections, one from each side in the direction of the Belgian bearers managing to capture some of the supplies.

Immediately in the following turn both John and myself launched the nearest Belgian sections forward closing on the German troops and forcing them into a hand to hand combat on either side of the supply column.

The solid Belgian line allowed them to dominate the firing

The game had reached its perfect climax with a winner takes all situation generated as bayonets crossed and multiple dice were rolled.

The hand to hand battle to ensure the supply bearers pushed through

When the dust had settled and the shooting died down, both German sections had routed off the table, taking the senior German commander with them and leaving a dead junior German leader among the dead and wounded and the Belgian bearers back among Belgian troops with a clear route off table. The following series of 'bad things happen' die rolls simply confirmed the tabletop situation and the Belgian column had forced its way through.

The sudden rush by the Belgian supply column left many German troops out in the bush fighting their own individual battles

Game end with the Belgians finishing off the last German section attempting to bar the way as other supports move up

A really fun game with lots of drama and action right to the last dice throws and leaving me even more enthused about this very clever game system..

Thank you to Bob, John and Ken for a very fun and interesting game played with plenty of laughs, banter and chat.