Saturday, 21 March 2015

New Kingdom Egyptians vs Hittites - Hail Caesar

The Battle of Kadesh - circa 127 BC by Brian Palmer
Time again for another run out with my first ever proper wargaming army, the New Kingdom Egyptians 
and after their recent fortuitous success against the Sea Peoples their opponents this time would be another 
army that has, shall we say, taken me a little time to get onto the wargaming table since its first initial
purchase 15 years ago (I’m a slow painter.)

New Kingdom Egyptians vs Sea People

The Hittites.  The Rules used were as usual Hail Caesar by Warlord Games and with the standard adaption’s for 
playing with 15mm.

Point’s value: 500 per side.

The Egyptians set up with all their chariots plus associated runners on their right, a centre consisting of 
medium spearmen and medium archers and with their left being made up of Light archers, Marines and 

The Hittites split their chariots equally onto both wings supported by some Long Spear infantry and 
Light archers; the centre consisted of the Hittite Guard, more Long Spears and the Canaanite allies. 
More Light archers screened the front along with the usual mix of skirmishers.

As is usual with our HC games everyone announced three moves straight ahead for their first move and 
equally as usual no one achieved this, the Egyptian right even managed a blunder first turn and then 
threw a 1 resulting in head long flight. Sensibly we let them stay on the table but Nathan playing his 
first game of HC didn't seam to realise that double 6 command rolls was not a sound tactic as he 
managed to throw another 2 during his time in charge, all be it not with such dramatic results as his 
first; in fact we had a total of five blunders thrown in the game, a new record. (I have to admit that the 
other two were done by me however a forced three moves headlong charge came just at the right time 
for an other wise reluctant division and the other roll only affected one unit).     

For this report it is easier for me to cover the game by describing each division’s action so first up is what happened on the Hittite left.

The Hittite chariots headed straight for their Egyptian counterparts who reciprocated but noticeably 
hung back a little to try and utilise their archery, tension mounted across the table as both sides careful 
jockeyed so as to time their charges along with the optimum positioning of supporting units. Strangely 
it was during this time that a well aimed Hittite javelin hit one of the Egyptian unit leaders and the rest 
of his men fled immediately causing a gap in the front line. (Nathan being a newboy to HC was given 
only one instruction prior to the game. Don’t throw double 1 and you will be OK. He obviously wasn’t 

Seeing an opportunity the Hittites charged and their more powerful chariots pushed the 
Egyptians back, who quickly reforming (i.e. running away) onto the second line of Egyptian chariots 
charged back in to the fight and it was they this time that made the Hittite Maryannu unit flee by 
getting the infamous double 1 shooting morale roll. (see my opinion of shooting at the end). Desperate 
fighting continued for several turns with both sides soon teetering on division collapse however the 
imminent arrival of the Sherden Guard split off from the Egyptian centre looked like it would soon 
swing it the wrong way (for us that is)

Nick had one final chance to break the Egyptians and threw everyone that could fight into one last 
charge knowing that his flanks would be hanging but it was not enough, the Egyptians held and the 
Sherdens smashed their way in breaking the Hittite left.

Finishing off the story for this side, the Egyptians though victorious were badly wrecked and although 
valiantly trying to get across into the Hittite rear never made it in time, the Sherdens meanwhile rapidly 
counter marched back to try and shore up a now collapsing centre.

The Centre; by my cunning use of what appeared to be incompetent manoeuvring I had lured the 
Egyptians into an area bordering rough ground, I quickly occupied this with slingers and Habiru light 
infantry pinning several of their units, whilst in the centre my mixed spear/archers disrupted various 
Egyptians units and at a critical time saw one unit marooned out in front on its own. I smashed my line 
into it, having suffered six more casualties than inflicted, it had little chance of passing morale and broke 
immediately, this started a domino effect all along the front, the Egyptians were never able to get their 
whole line into battle at the same time and although my initial thrust was now weakening (medium 
infantry get quickly used up) I had the upper hand despite losing the odd unit.

Diverting a unit of Long Spears and a convenient but very confused (read: hopelessly lost) right wing 
chariot unit to guard against the possible intervention of the Egyptian right wing chariots , I consolidated
what usable units remained into a new battle line whilst waiting for the Hittite right to swing in.

The Hittite Right: There’s always one division that continually fails its movement dice and I suffered 
all day with poor control on this wing, after a while this division was horrible split up (remember that 
headlong blunder from earlier?)  and I was having to roll unit by unit every move , its surprising how 
often a 9 comes up on two dice and I must admit I forgot about the "follow me" command which might 
have helped to get things back into some sort of order . However the two Egyptian Light infantry 
archers holding the flank weren't going to stop my chariots for ever, who it appeared were otherwise 
engaged on an arrow collection mission, but eventually after a lot of cursing I finally got them going 
and proceeded to break both of those annoying Kushite units, victorious at last I pushed on into the 
Egyptian rear. Elsewhere the extra unit of Spears on this wing now helped by beating off the Marines 
and with that result we broke this division.

The Egyptian centre tried to re deploy away from the broken ground and form a new flank but the dice 
had decided enough was enough and wanted to go home so refused to give the Pharaoh sufficient 
moves to do so despite his repeated re-roll attempts. One unit of spears was also shaken so immediately 
became the target for anyone that could throw or shoot something pointy and if it broke, then so would 
the Egyptian centre .Oddly enough for two turns I either failed to hit it or if I did manage something 
then Steve saved everything and therefore avoid having to take a tricky morale roll but eventually after 
only getting a single move for his remaining infantry for the third turn running the Pharaoh decided to 
concede the game.

Thoughts on Hail Caesar:

I guess I must be in double figures now for games using these rules and having switched all my 
Ancient armies across to it and with more on the way it’s obviously my set of choice.

So far every game has been a bit of a blood bath with heavy casualties on both sides and I don’t expect 
that to change, also we are still getting some rules wrong or haven’t understood them correctly, this 
game for example we actually remembered that supporting units must also take a morale roll if its main 
unit breaks and that it should use the same difference in dice when doing so. Also we have finally got 
our head around the shooting morale rules; we have played around with it a lot as its felt that the effects 
are too significant. Only requiring a single 6 to cause a morale roll seemed overly harsh but it must be 
remembered that at long range you are usually hitting on 6 or worse (which therefore will require two 
6’s for a morale roll to be made) and if you are daft enough to be sitting in javelin range then you 
deserve all you get! Plus to get any really bad results for a normal unit then it’s only a double 1 (odd 
that we managed to get this twice), and that it’s also the best way to get rid of those pesky skirmishers 
who are treated more harshly on the shooting table.  

Finally, the rulebook which has been commentated on by several forums leaves, shall we say, some 
lack of clarity regarding various aspects. I spent the best part of two hours over the weekend trying to 
understand the rules on shattering units (it did come up in our game). To shatter a unit you need to 
inflict double its stamina value in one turn, so that’s 8 for small units and 12 for standard, not very 
likely. It appears that what we should have been playing is that once your unit reaches its stamina 
level (of 4 or 6) it can be shattered if you then score a further four or six hits in one turn on top of its 
carried balance. (Remember unless the unit had reached its maximum stamina level already then you 
will have to discard/reallocate surplus hits). I can see this changing our next game a bit.

Thanks to Nathan, Nick and Steve H for taking part.
The 15mm Figures are my venerable Egyptians from before the internet era and the Hittites are from 
the earlier Chariot Miniatures days finished off with the newer Magister Militum versions.

This has been a Mr Steve production.
Pictures by JJ

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Battle of Barossa 5th March 1811

The charge of the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment against the 2nd Battalion, 54th Ligne
 David Rowlands.

Every now and then, it's fun to recreate a battle close to the centenary of the actual engagement, and so it was that we had the chance to fight out a very famous battle fought two hundred and four years ago this month, the Battle of Barossa or sometimes referred to as the Battle of Chiclana; fought between General Graham, leading the British contingent of an Anglo-Spanish army marching along the coast road to raise the siege of Cadiz, and Marshal Victor at the the head of his Corps who was conducting the siege.

David Rowland’s great picture that heads the post, brilliantly captures the close up, sometimes desperate nature of the fighting, where the first French Eagle was captured by British troops in the Peninsular War.

The Map of Barossa, shows the British counterattack against French forces on and around Barossa Hill

General Sir Thomas Graham
Marshal Claude Victor Perrin - Marshal Victor
Recent photos of the battlefield today show it dominated by a golf course stretching down to the azure blue Mediterranean Sea, so I don't feel so bad having my game fought out on my unrelenting green Games Workshop mat, with Barossa Hill looking like the 18th hole.

General Graham, using the hand of God, makes his first moves towards Leval's division
I am a confirmed C&GII Napoleonic player, but am in search of a paper based set of rules that allow me to quickly put a game together for a club meeting and are easily mastered to allow for gaps in playing them due to my preference to C&G. Thus I inflicted the first play test of James Purky's one sheet "Der Alte Fritz Rules for 18th Century Warfare".

There are aspects of the d10 stats for firing, melee and morale that are attractive and easily adaptable, but I needed to see how they play under "combat conditions". There are aspects that don't fit with Napoleonics  that needed changing, such as the troop classifactions, lack of tests to charge and respond to charges, no additions for Generals being with a unit. Things I tagged on.

Duncan's ten gun British artillery brigade dominated precedings
The final thing was an army morale system to cause a natural break point, so I simply tacked on the Army Morale from Sam Mustafa's Maurice, that ended up giving us a nail bitter of a finish.

The last piece of the jigsaw was to grab a ready to go scenario set up for the battle, as I haven't researched this battle and it's orbats for my own scenario, so I grabbed a copy of Dave Brown General de Brigade Scenarios with Barrosa.

General Graham (centre) oversees the deployment of Wheatley's brigade, with Dilke's and the Guards behind
Our game pretty much followed the historical battle with the two British brigades preceded by their light battalions, tackling the respective divisions of Laval and Ruffin.

General Wheatley leads the 87th, 67th and 28th foot forward as Browne leads the Light battalion into the woods
The British artillery under Dilkes is listed in the scenario as being ten 9lbr guns which when firing counter battery at the French 6lbr foot battery on Barossa Hill, quickly shot up one of the French gun teams, causing an army morale loss from fifteen to thirteen points, with the British starting on twelve.

Barnard's Light battalion attacks the French under Ruffin on Barossa Hill
The light troops of both armies were soon facing off, with the 95th Rifles and Guards light companies soon driving in the voltigeur screen on the hill, but Brown'e light battalion getting the worst of the battle in the woods and being driven back behind the supports of Wheatley's brigade.

95th Rifles start to bring the French under fire

The skirmish battle is taken up in the woods
The two formed bodies of troops closed on each other and with both sides artillery in support, bases of troops were starting to be removed from the table, with both side's army morale into single figures.

Wheatley deploys his brigade to contest the advance of Leval's Division
The Guards on Barossa Hill met furious resistance from the combined grenadiers and 9me Legere, with the 95th Rifles dealing with the 24me and 96me Ligne as they tried to flank the Guard line.

The Guards under Dilke's attack Barossa Hill
In the open ground near to the woods, Wheatly's brigade were locked in a battle of attrition with Leval's division and his leading battalions, and although able to inflict damaging losses on the first units, were suffering from attritional hits from the follow up units supported by their dominant voltigeurs.

An overview of the battlefield from behind Leval's Division
With army morale at six points each, the British grabbed the initiative and brought Duncan's artillery to face Leval's troops delivering a telling bombardment, taking out a battalion of the 54me Ligne and severely battering its sister battalion. The resultant army morale loss left the French teetering on three points and the British on six points.

The 2/87th deployed in line with the 67th and 28th guarding their right flank

The French on Barossa Hill used the cover of the ridge line to avoid the attentions of the 95th Rifles
The game was finely balanced as the fates chose to swing events in a different direction and the French grabbed the initiative on the next two turns. This enabled the voltigeurs of Leval's division to close in on and decimate Duncan's gun crews and dropping two points off British army morale.

The battle for Barossa Hill at its height
The 95th Rifles and Guards were desperately clinging on to the slopes of Barossa Hill, with neither side able to get a decisive hold, and thus it was that in turn 10 with the KGL Hussars and French 1st Dragoons appearing on their respective table edges; Wheatly's brigade collapsed taking the British morale to zero and ending our game with Barossa Hill still contested but with a minor victory to the French forcing the remaining British troops to fall back on the Spanish at Cadiz.

The British guns dominated their French counterparts reducing them to the single team replying to their fire
The rule set certainly has possibilities for use with Napoleonics. We didn't like the initiative system of opting to fire or move first in given phases and I will change that together with the troop gradings and use of Generals. The Maurice addition worked very well and with a few additional special events could add to that component.

I am looking forward to playing this battle using Carnage & Glory, but with action focused on the Talavera campaign, and Massena's invasion of Portugal to do, Barossa is away away yet, so yesterdays game made a nice little test run.