Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Battle of Paraitakene 317BC refight. Part One: Planning

I was asked to organize one of the games to be played at the August club meeting and the request was for it to be an Ancients game using Hail Caesar and if possible for it to be between two Seleucid type armies. Fortunately I have a couple of suitable armies that could go some way towards this and with the addition of Steve Huntsman’s collection as well then I reckoned that between us it was doable.

I thought that rather than just doing the usual equal point’s battle which would look very "samey" with two identical forces, I would try instead to find an actual battle which we could refight. So the first thing I did when I got back home was to call up Wikipedia and go though all the Successor battles and try and find something suitable. I decided on the Battle of Paraitakene between Eumenes and Antigonos in 317BC because it was one I hadn't previously played, also the two sides were relatively even and there was a reasonable amount of information regarding the forces involved.

Obviously the next step was to then search the web for someone else’s re-fight of this battle, rip off their work and then organize my figures accordingly for our particular game and rule set. Unfortunately I couldn't find a re-fight that showed me anything useful on how to convert this battle onto the tabletop and instead of doing the normal thing of giving up immediately and trying to find another battle that did have the forces broken down for wargaming , I thought that I would actually try and work it out for myself.

First step then was to tie down a source for the numbers involved, fortunately I have a reasonable library built up over the years of suitable books for this period and combined with another trawl through the Net I ended up with two sources that had good enough details to allow me to have the confidence that I had the forces involved reasonably right rather than just copy off whatever was on the Wiki page.

I used the excellent book by Richard A. Billows “ Antigonus the One-Eyed”

from my collection and combined it with some on-line pages from Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World  by Philip Sabin.

Between these two sources I settled on the following armies:



Heavy Infantry
Light infantry

These then had to be split down into their relevant troop types which using the above sources came out as:



Silver Shields 6000

Macedonians 8000

Mercenaries 6000

Mercenaries 9000

Levy Asiatic Pikes 5000

Lycians/Pamphilians 3000

Levy Asiatic Pikes 8000

Companions 900

Light Horse 1500

Companions 1000

Agema 900

Agema 600

Other Cavalry 2700

Light Horse 4500

Other Cavalry 4400

Persian archers 10000

Assorted other types 8000

Bowmen, Slingers ,Javelins 10000

Next was to convert everything into wargame figures and into also HC units. After several beers I decided that the best way to do this was to work with ratios/percentages and as long as I kept them as close to the actual battle then I could work around units straight away rather than the normal one man = 500 etc. method . This would then allow me to draw up two armies out of the units.
It’s probably easier if I show you.

The result of that calculating made real
In the actual battle the percentage ratio in heavy infantry was 38:62 in Antigonus favour so for the game I had 15 units of HI, 6 v 9 which works out as 40:60 , close enough.
The rest worked out as:







Infantry ratio



Cavalry ratio






Light Infantry


At the same time I did still have to come up with some rough split of troops–to-units ratio and rather than impress you with my genius I have to admit I just guessed on what looked about right and fitted them into the game and rules.

HI were therefore 3000 men per unit
Cavalry were 1000 per unit
Light Infantry were 2000 per unit.
Skirmishers as small units 500 per

Don’t go looking for any rationality behind these figures as there isn't one.

I still had additional unused information from the above mentioned two sources on the actual make up of both armies so I allocated them all as best I could into the various sub groups and then with a bit of subtle rounding up/down to the nearest figure plus combining a few similar units together, it all worked out very nicely in the end.
The one thing I didn't do was work out the ratio between all the various types to each other but that’s frankly taking thinks too far plus my curry was getting cold.

After that it was a matter of getting out the HC Army lists and making up two armies from the Alexander’s Successors List to match my deductions . I don’t plan at the moment to include the HC armies but they are available if requested however as there isn't going to be much I can write for the re-fight that puts me in a good light then I might find myself with a bit of unexpected space in part two that needs filling .

Terrain was easy in that it was fought on a plain and had some hills on two sides that didn't come into play.

Next up: part two, which will cover the re-fight, how I lost and the creation of a new club phrase.

This has been a Mr Steve presentation.

Monday, 10 August 2015

The Sweeney - Geezers SHUT IT!

Last Saturday saw Chas & I run a "Sweeney" scenario to "Geezers SHUT IT !" rules.

The game was loosely based on the "Midgate Wages Snatch" scenario from the rules.

The scene opened with the wages van coming onto the table, as two blaggers (Johnny & Reggie) slipped over the wall into Matrolls Factory yard. The villains getaway Jag, driven by "Soft Eddie", was parked up down a side road and the second getaway car, with Arthur at the wheel, was waiting down another alley. The remaining three blaggers, including "Mad Harry" Bevan, were hovering around the shopping precinct, trying to blend in with the Thursday morning shoppers.

The Sweeney had been tipped off and their Cortina 2.0 GXL was waiting for the word to race to the factory, whilst a covert transit full of uniformed woodentops was hidden down a dirt track, awaiting the call to action. Due to a breakdown in communication, two uniformed constables were off their beat and on route to the shops for a cup of tea and a doughnut. "Rita the Meter", the local traffic warden, spotted the Jag parked on double yellow lines and crossed the street to 'ave a word. Soft Eddy gave her some old chat about "only being there for loading" and a nouse roll showed she suspected nothing.

The security van drove up to the factory gate and Stan Tuttle, the firm's security man waved it into the yard, as Derek Bevan and his crew sauntered towards the gate. As the wages van guards got out of the vehicle, Bevan struck up a conversation with Stan, asking him about vacancies in the factory, before sticking a pump action shotgun under his nose.

At this point Johnny and Reggie moved in on the wages van guards, waved their guns, and told them to "open the back, if you know what's good for you". Regan and Carter now dropped the pretence of being guards, as Regan shouted "Sweeney ! drop the shooters, you're surrounded by armed b*stards". Reggie dropped his pistol and put his hands up, but Johnny let fly with his shotgun at Regan, winging him. In the confusion Stan let blagger Derek have a sharp right hander (six on a D6 to become a "'ave a Go 'ero").

Regan ducked behind the van, whilst Carter fired, missing by a country mile. Derek pistol whipped Stan with his sawn off and down the old boy went. A quick "assistance required" radio call from Carter and the Sweeney Cortina was screaming to the scene, followed by the transit full of uniforms and the area Marina. The two uniforms in the precinct were already running towards the sounds of gunfire.

The getaway Jag and Cortina screamed into the precinct and the Jag did a handbrake turn in front of the factory gate (he might be thick, but he can drive that Soft Eddie).

"Leg it" shouted Derek, as he ran for the Jag, only to stop a bullet from Regan and drop dead on the spot. Johnny jumped into the Jag and one other crook into the Cortina, as the Sweeney GXL lost it into the wall of a house (that ain't gonna polish out) The police transit lost it into a telephone box, killing the punter inside (bad business that). The remaining villain ran down the alley by the shops.

The Jag was off, dodging the stalled transit, with the area car screaming onto the scene in pursuit. The getaway Cortina drove across the pedestrian precinct and young PC JJ wrenched the passenger door open, as he tried to smash the screen with his truncheon. The Cortina swerved, slammed on the anchors and the PC slid off the bonnet and under wheels, dying instantly ("he didn't suffer love").

Meanwhile the Jag showed the Marina a clean pair of heels and was away. The Cortina was rammed by the police transit and one of the villains was thrown through the windscreen (should 'ave listened to that nice chap "Clunk Click Jimmy"). The remaining blagger was still on foot, but he threatened a chap working on his van with a beating, stole his VW camper and got clean away.

Three villains in custody, one "brown bread" and three away on their toes, with a one dead copper and one dead punter to add to the mayhem. The GPO won't be happy about their phone box neither.

On the way back to the station the villains made some "significant statements", which all the cops noted down. All three blaggers managed to fall down the steps at the cop shop (pretty slippy those steps) and despite them shouting for their briefs, two had confessed before their lawyers could be contacted (shame that).

At court Arthur got 10 years, Soft Eddie got off on a technicality (off course all our notebooks were identical, we were all there weren't we) and Denny was found not guilty (are these jurors thick, or what ?).

Net result Police minus two points, blaggers eleven points (Chas got two points added for his gigolo moustache and mutton chops). The "News of the World" had a field day and I am up before a C11 enquiry next Monday. Makes you wonder why we bother really. Still we raised £97.18 in the whip round for JJ's widow and I chucked in a "wonna" from the evidence cupboard, so she won't be on her uppers.

The rules played well, with a little creative umpiring to cover the gaps and a good time was had by all.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Probe at La Cambe - "29 Let's Go", Chain of Command

Yesterday was my first go at running a game of Chain of Command using my 15mm collection of figures built around another Lardies rule set "I Aint Been Shot Mum".

The Chain of Command rules takes WWII combat down to the level of sections and platoons at a man to model level and is perfectly scaled for using with 15mm figures where the range of the weapons comes to life on a 6 x 4 foot table such as the one we played on yesterday.

The scenario we chose to play is the opening game from the "29 Let's Go Pint Sized Campaign" which recreates the fierce battle between the US 29th Infantry Division and the German 352nd Division along the lateral road between Omaha beach, Isigny and Carantan as the US forces in this area drove to link up with their comrades at Utah beach at the base of the Cherbourg peninsula.

I have driven along this road when we visited the large German cemetery at La Cambe and am very familiar with the terrain consisting of open pasture land enclosed with light hedges, low walls and strong stone built Normandy houses.

This scenario beautifully captures the initial probes to contact that were probably happening all along the allied front on the days following the D-Day landing as both sides felt each other positions out and tried to get a feel for the strength of the opposition. The mission in this game is fairly straightforward with the Americans looking to get a team off the German table edge and thus penetrate their forward outpost line, whilst the Germans are simply trying to frustrate the US probe. The open ground either side of the road between the two lines makes this a challenging fight.

The map for "Probe at La Cambe"
With the patrol markers set up the patrol phase commenced as the two groups of markers moved forward and outwards and both sides attempted to claim the best forward positions whilst restricting the options for the enemy.

Our interpretation of the map above with US and German Patrol markers set up ready to start the Patrol Phase
In no time the first infantry sections appeared on the table with the first US infantry groups deployed on the US right flank around and in the walled house.

The patrol phase in play as the opposing markers move out into no-man's land
On the opposite side the Germans deployed two sections along the hedge row later supported with a mortar FOO and a tripod mounted MG42 in the farm house window overlooking the road.

Two German infantry section deploy on the hedgerow
The German troops soon located the US infantry and poured in massed machine-gun and rifle fire on the walled house causing shock and casualties within and forcing a rethink in the American command team.

German MG42 tripod team set up in the window of the farm house covering the road
US infantry deploy tactically among the orchard trees
Another US squad deploys in the walled house and soon gets "brassed up" by the German machine gun team and rifle sections
With the heavy German fire, zipping across from the opposite hedge row and buildings by the road, the US commander called for support from his tankers to get the advance moving. The two Shermans edged on to the road like two nervous debutantes at their first seasons ball.

Once the two US tanks had sized the situation up, retribution was swift and punishing as 75mm shells smashed into the farm window directly ahead, down the road, silencing the MG42 team, and driving the surviving crew downstairs and out the back of the building to recover from the shock.

US armour deploys on the road to support the hard pressed GI's
Well directed 75mm Sherman fire soon silences the MG 42
With smoke pouring from the window of the farm and German attention drawn to the arrival of the two US tanks an American sniper team took advantage of the newcomers opening salvo to climb to the top of a nearby shattered house and scan the opposite hedgerow for inviting targets.

The first shot killed a German soldier as he peered over the hedge to spot the American tanks. The next shot killed a German NCO with field glasses around his neck who seeing his man fall back inadvisedly broke cover himself to direct his soldiers attention to the possible threat.

A US sniper team deploy into a house on the high ground and pick off one of the German section leaders among the hedge row
With the first casualties inflicted both sides paused to draw breath and consider their options and to rally their shocked troops.

US Infantry pull back to regroup, with the empty battle field ahead
The American tanks and sniper had made things rather uncomfortable in the German lines, whilst the volume of fire from the German troops had forced the US infantry to hug the available cover.

The response from the two forces reflected the opposition presented, with the German FOO calling in a barrage from the 81mm mortar platoon supporting the forward lines, that landed full square amid the US position causing some shock and indirectly leading to the walled house catching fire, which had a much larger impact on the game.

The Americans meanwhile started to move their infantry across the back of the hill and in towards the road to link more closely with their tanks and take advantage of the cover presented by the smoke from the burning house.

Like wise the German MG 42 team rally in the cover of the farm buildings
The German mortar support was short lived as the the FOO lost contact with his platoon as it shifted support elsewhere along the front. The American commander attempted to call for mortar support himself but the US FOO team were quickly identified by the forward German troops and knocked out by mass small arms fire.

As the US infantry massed near the road in support of their tanks, the two Shermans continued to cause havoc with their 75mm guns and machine-guns as they sprayed their fire on the closest hedgerow.

The wounded are gathered in the cover of the farm yard
US armour edges forward bringing their heavy fire to bear on the German positions ahead
German infantry hug the ground under intense fire from the Shermans and the US sniper team
With a wall of smoke billowing across the table the two forces began to make their moves to end the battle.

With the area around the walled house devoid of US infantry, a German infantry section set off across the field aimed at capturing the nearby US jump off point and knock down the US moral count.

Meanwhile the US infantry hopped across the road as their tanks provided covering fire on German troops attempting to reposition to cover the US flanking attack.

The German force replies to the US fire with a barrage of 81mm off table mortar support which lands in the centre of the American line
The mortar fire sets fire to the walled house creating a smoke screen across the front of the American line
With both sides flanking manoeuvres forcing the issue, chances were being taken and the American tanks, being the fastest units on the table, made their move to seal the deal before the Germans could break their declining force morale.

Under cover of the burning building and a self made smoke screen the US armour attempts to flank the German line and make a dash for their rear area
With its supporting tank providing covering fire and drawing MG42 fire from the now rallied German team, that caused it to pull back at one stage. the second US tank drove out into the open field on the US left flank.

Suddenly there was a crack and loud explosion as the move drew fire from an off table 88mm German flak gun. Incredibly the gun missed and directing its turret towards the threat, the Sherman fired off a smoke screen of its own.

German 88mm guns in the area attempt to knock out the US tanks, but miss amid the hedges and smoke
With the threat of a US win if the lone Sherman managed to get off the the German table edge, German infantry threw caution to the wind as they quickly rushed men over to their threatened right flank. Although the 88mm FlaK had missed, the German commander looked confident at being able to stop this desperate US gamble.

German Panzerschreck team deploy from the farm buildings to thwart the US tankers "home run"
The US jump off point on their right flank fell to German infantry and deducted two points of their force morale as their own attack on the German right flank threatened to snatch victory. A German Panzerschreck team sprinted across the farm yard and knelt to take aim at the approaching tank. The pressure was too much and the rocket streaked over the rear deck of the Sherman. Other German infantry could be seen moving out of the buildings and with his objective in reach the US tankie put the metal to the floor requiring just a score of 7 on three d6 and that was then it rolled 4!

The Sherman crew didn't have to wait long to realise that they had just snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The German squad that had debouched from the farm showed the Panzerschreck boys how to do it as their own Panzerfaust bomb smacked into the side of the American tank and ended the game.

Chain of Command is a brilliantly crafted set of rules that produced a nail bitter of a finish and left Tom bemoaning his luck despite the charmed life his Sherman led up to its final demise. Great fun.

Thanks to Jason and Nathan, two long standing aficionados of all things Lardy, who led us through the rules with great aplomb, also to Tom, Ollie and Jack for adding to the fun of the day.