Sunday, August 6, 2017

Those men .. always fighting .. sigh....

Having been collecting armies sine the early 1970s, I like to be able to repurpose armies rather than dispose of figures often lovingly collected and painstakingly painted. I have a reasonable sized Early Imperial Roman army collected for DBM. It has sat unused since the late 90's. So, I thought, why not repurpose it as a Kingdoms of Men army for Kings of War? No rebasing required (although regiments would be slightly wider than the prescribed base width, it still tends to work out.

Andy brought along his own almost completed Kingdoms of Men army (in the style of Medieval - or old school GW Brettonian), and my EIRs came out of their boxes for the first time in a very long time .. the figures were walking clutching white canes, so long has it been since they saw daylight!!! Adrian and I commanded the Romans.. this was as much about good fellowship as it was about the game.

Medieval on the left, EIR on the right

Regiments of EIR legionaries made up the Roman centre

A horde of warriors on the Roman left made for the weaker archer based Medieval centre, hoping that their own cavalry could hold up the knights on the Medieval right

Meanwhile the legionary regiments advanced against Andy's solid pike centre

The Roman centre was supported by two ballistae
The Roman cavalry on the left were despatched very promptly by the medieval knights .. ouch

The knights threaten the flank of the Horde of legionaries. The centres are about to clash

Lots of pushing and shoving in the centre... those pike are tough

The centres continue to push, and the legionary horde closes in on some archers

Ouch.... it's all good fun until someone gets a stick (pike) in the eye, eh!!

Legionaries take it to an opposing warrior regiment

Roman cavalry attack medieval knights... and the knights disappear

The misguided legionary horde gets hit in the rear by knights.. yep, my own incompetence put them there. It didn't end well for the legionaries

The Romans make headway in the centre

Those medieval knights turn to take on some archers, having just removed the legionary horde

Archers and warriors are hit by Roman legionaries, and two units of Roman knights... ouch ouch ouch

There is almost nothing left of the medieval army.... 
But what a thoroughly enjoyable evening of gaming... great to get those Romans out on the table again. There were Minifigs Legionaries from the 1980s, Airfix Roman eastern archers from the 1970s and Foundry legionaries for the 90s.. a very eclectic mix of figures...

First 'Armies of Dust' regiments.. finally .. whew!!!

In December last year I bought the Mantic 'Armies of Dust' army set. I've always liked skeleton armies in the fantasy genre, especially the 'Egyptian' style armies. There was huge anticipation, and in February I started on the first figures - the spear. Why so long? The box set hadn't been packed properly and was lacking quite a few key packs of parts. I found the project hard going from the beginning..  the new metal torsos didn't fit the plastic lower bodies, and most had to be individually fitted. The superglue I was using wouldn't seem to hold the body parts together (that may have been an environmental issue.. too hot, or too cold, .. or ..) so I had to use a contact adhesive to hold them.

I also decides to use a white (well, ivory) undercoat instead of my more usual black, and was surprised how it has taken me a while to get my head around the difference this made to painting demands and style. The figures were block painted over the white, and then given a black wash.

In Kings of War, regiments are normally composed of 20 figures, and I based the first 20 spear on that basis, but the figures looked far too dense. I took a closer look at the multi basing that has taken off within the KoW community. It reduces the number of figures on a base. I opted for 10 per base, which meant that instead of two regiments I had enough figures for four. I took the first 20 off their base, and rebased back to 10. I prefer the 'multi base' look.

It's been hard to keep the motivation going. Finally today the fruits of nearly 6 months of work.

The four spear regiments

The forces of Chaos dive into the realms of the Lost Worlds

I've actually managed a few games this past few weeks, but back into work mode have struggled to find the time to post anything. Three weeks ago we got to Dunedin (for a conference) but I managed to fit in a couple of HotT games with Nick. We used the Lost Worlds and Chaos armies.  In this first game I commanded Chaos, and Nick commanded the Lost Worlds. An array of photos form the first game in which Chaos won. We then swapped armies for a second game.. Chaos won again. So for Nick and I honour was satisfied.

Propoganda efforts fail in the face of British pluck and courage

In the face of the deleterious output of the Nazi propaganda machine, and the flights of fancy of Herr Goebbels following the steadfast actions of our troops in France, actions that saw the Nazi war machine stopped in its literal and metaphorical tracks, the Prime Minister today said this in parliament:

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

And even as he spoke, British industry stepped forth to deliver it's own speech in the best of British traditions where actions speak louder than words:

"We shall never surrender".

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Somewhere north of Arras, May 1940

We'd already been on the move for too many days without rest. The toll had been significant. The men were tired, marching with shoulders hunched and eyes down, and the path behind us was littered with broken down vehicles unable sustain such distances without more sophisticated mechanical servicing arrangements. Division reports had warned me that aerial reconnaissance indicated significant German armoured forces approaching and we'd had first contact with their advanced reconnaissance forces the evening before. A number of firefights during the evening had given away much of our dispositions, and so I determined that I'd shift my dispositions during the night. Tales of French forces being outmaneuvered as they adopted static defensive positions left me with a determination to take it to Jerry before he could take it to us.

Somewhere north of Arras
I deployed with both motorised infantry battalions up (Durhams on my left and Gloucesters on my right), keeping 5th RTR in reserve. My intention was to push ahead with my left flanking battalion (the Durhams), aiming to seize high ground ahead of us, ground we'd been unable to reach the evening before. Recognising that my left would be vulnerable I positioned 5th RTR so that it could advance in support of the Durhams.

The Durhams on my left 
The terrain on my right was much closer, featuring several high features and significant forested areas. I deployed my other motorised battalion, the Gloucesters, in this area, well equipped with two batteries of AT guns, two platoons of MMGs and our AA battery. These men would need to hold at all costs. There was no other support available to them.

The Gloucesters on the right flank

Infantry of the Gloucesters deployed on the right

At 1.37pm we spotted the initial Jerry advances with what appeared to be an infantry battalion advancing against our centre right, and armour advancing against our left. I was determined to keep my nerve. I knew I could count on the men.

The initial German armoured thrust against the Durhams, whom I'd set to advance to take the high ground. They managed to reach the feature and take up position before Jerry arrived.

Seeing the Durhams facing what I took to be a major armoured thrust, I committed the 5th RTR almost immediately in their support. Engines roared into life and platoons of A13s and MkVIs moved out.

A13s and MkVIs advance on the extreme left of our position

It look very little time before we heard the drone of aircraft engines, and what we came to recognise as the howling scream of Stuka sirens over the heads of the Gloucesters. The bang bang of the Bofors deployed to provide AA cover was easily drowned out by the screaming sirens. The sound chilled the nerves.

The Bofors battery in the foreground.
 The sound of explosions rent the air.

The air attack took out a significant left flank position with a platoon of infantry and an AT battery destroyed in quick succession.
The Jerry commander had simultaneously deployed his own armoured reserve on his right. The armoured forces were destined for a head on clash.

The German reserve seen at the top left, the 5th RTR at the bottom left of the photo
I resolved that I would not sit idly waiting for the battle to develop. I had to take the initiative from Jerry, so I ordered the Gloucesters on the right to advance and sweep around onto the flank of the German infantry.

The Gloucesters on the right advance towards the river in preparation for their attack on the German flank.

Carrier platoons were proving their value this day

Initial contact between the Durhams and the German armour

Contact with the Durhams - two German tank platoons close assault a platoon of the Durhams

The close assault goes in

The German reserve advances on their extreme right
 The Gloucesters continued to push ahead, moving through a small village as they headed for the small copse on the German flank.

Meanwhile things had hotted up for the Durhams. Boyes AT rifles seemed to be proving their worth as German tank casualties mounted.

Crossing the river on the right

Gaps in the German formations, with both Byes, and 2pdr AT batteries protecting the Durhams. Their infantry was struggling to support the armour
German artillery fire was intensifying. Our own 25pdr batteries were struggling to meet all of the calls for fire support, so intense was the action. Repeated failed efforts to contact the heavy gun battalion we'd been allocated for counter battery work meant the German gunners had free range.

Both forces were feeling the impact of the intense struggle
I was advancing in company with the 5th RTR. We came under heavy fire from the German armour, losing vehicles almost immediately.

Early casualties on the 5th RTR
The Gloucesters had managed to swing around and take the woods on the German left flank. They were now able to bring fire down on the German infantry with relative immunity.

The Gloucesters in the woods

The struggle reaches a crescendo on the right.
Casualties on 5th RTR meant that I had my work cut out holding the unit and maintaining contact with the German armour. The lads came through, and we continued to exchange shots. The Gloucesters began to force the German infantry back, but this meant they fell back on the heavy weapons support. This would be a tough nut to crack.

News came through from Division: Jerry had broken through elsewhere. We'd need to break off the action and fall back south of Arras.

This was a game that Keith and I played using our favourite Spearhead rules. The game was set in France in May 1940. We set the game using Keith's Scenario Generation System. At the end of play, points slightly favoured the BEF, but another turn of play would have swung the balance - the Durhams, and the armoured battalion attacking them, were on the verge of a morale check.

A great game which has lead to a fascinating discussion on orders options for the defender.