Thursday, December 28, 2017

A minor setback for Sommerville

There was a renewed sense of confidence in the camp. The wine had flowed freely in the mess as the officers of the Eastern Task Force relived the glorious moments of the day's battle.

"Winstanley, old chap. Glorious, glorious, glorious" and Lord Chelting pumped his hand repeatedly. "So disappointed I wasn't there to be a part of the whole thing. Technical hitches, you know."

"Yes, my boy, truly splendiferous" from Sommerville. "The General will be overjoyed with the news, and so proud" and he raised his glass again. "To our hero of the day"

"To our hero of the day" voices chanted in unison.

"Smithers, a refill, quickly, man" and Corporal Smithers leant over the Brigadier's left shoulder as he poured more claret into the Brigadier's glass. "And the others, man, keep up, for goodness sake."
"As you please, sir. It's hard to keep up with such appetites fuelled by victory" and he turned away to refill other glasses, muttering between his breath "goodness knows such appetites are rarely found in this 'ere camp."

"Yes indeed, and well done again, everyone. Dumnorix, you say? By goodness, what a great day this is. And what say you to his actions tomorrow?"

"Ah, he'll not be seen again Sir, mark my words, he'll not be seen again. A damned fine thrashing."

But return he did, and in force once again. Such was Sommerville's concern, he ordered the mechanical dragon to be mobilised to support the battle.

The commander managed to get the dragon fired up and ready for battle, able to make an early appearance on the battlefield.

The dragon commander made a quick attack across the barbarian lines, looking to strike early.

Smarting from the previous day's defeat, Dumnorix opted to try to attack the mechanical daemon before it could attack the remainder of his troops.

Action was joined

Gah, the commander of the dragon opted to withdraw.. defeated in combat
 Dumnorix pushed forward, knowing that he had little choice but to take the battle to the enemy.

The British left was however a tougher nut to tackle, shooters using the bad terrain to good effect.

Action was joined in the centre

And Winstanley and the Doctor recoiled under the shock of the impact of the barbarian war band, but the line held
But Sommerville rushed forward with his valiant riflemen, bayonets fixed, to support the line.

The centre looks secure, supported by shooters in the woods

The Doctor tried his magic on Dumnorix, while shooters on the British left forced the mammoth behemoth back

There's a tussle on the British left

Sommerville works hard to defeat Dumnorix' centre

The Barbarian behemoth mammoth is destroyed in the centre

The tussle on the British left continues, but a unit of lancers succumbs to the mammoth

They battle it out in the centre ...

And half of the assaulting war band are destroyed as Sommerville makes cunning use of his shooters to support him in his own attack

With nothing left to lose, the last Barbarian war band push forward against the Doctor.

A last combat, and the Doctor is forced from the field

The classic 1:6 die result meant the loss of the magician


"Forces of the Eastern Task Force today engaged the barbarian horde in a battle most vicious. We destroyed much of the barbarian force in an action that cost us dearly in life and machine.
We were forced to yield the field for the day, knowing that we will be in a better position on the morrow to secure the eastern boundaries of our conquered lands, and so the ultimate security and prosperity of the empire.

"God Save The Queen
"I remain your humble servant
"Brigadier Sommerville"

So the game ended. It had hung in the balance for several turns, both sides having lost 10 AP. The outcome was bad luck for Nick, in command of the British; any other result and it would still have been game on. Overall his position was much stronger than the Barbarians. The war band in the centre were exposed, and I pushed them forward aggressively, knowing that it was all or nothing.

The armies were:
4 x warband
2 x riders
1 x hero general
2 x behemoth mammoth

For the British:
1 x hero
1 x dragon
1 x magician
2 x knights
2 x blade
2 x shooters

Sommerville's redemption

Brigadier Sommerville drew a red sleeve across his brow, catching several droplets of sweat as they were about to fall. Twice in 5 days he had suffered at the hands of the Turkomen, all thankfully now withdrawn back across their borders awaiting, well awaiting who knew what.

As if that weren't enough, now this, from the General. This!! A more stinging slap across the face, a sharper rebuke, could not have been delivered had General Caruthers been here in person. He picked up the dispatch once more, the edge sodden and crinkled from his grip.

"To Brigadier Sommerville, Officer Commanding, Eastern Task Force

"Blah blah blah ...
"Blah blah blah ...
"Either come back with news of a victory, news that might affirm my confidence in your abilities, or don't come back at all.
"Yours.. blah blah
"Major General Caruthers"

The cheek of the man, the gall, pomposity personified .... but action was required.

"Mason" he called. "Mason, where the hell are you man? Mason" he yelled, and he jumped to his feet sending camp table and tea pot flying.


"Ah Mason, summon the officers. We have work to do" and Sommerville disappeared inside his tent.

A swift advance to the south eastern fringes of the known lands, to the boundary that marked off the heathen barbarian tribes, the 'dark lands', and the opportunity for quick conquest.

"Major General Sir Chelmswood Reginald Augustus Piers Caruthers


I have the pleasure of reporting to you the outcome of the opening engagement between the Eastern Task Force under my command, and the forces of the eastern barbarian tribes under the command, as I understand it, of the Chieftain named Dumnorix.

Advancing in the early morning, we had the good fortune to catch the enemy barely out of their encampment. The direction of my advance upon his stronghold caused the enemy to have to navigate some disruptive terrain if he were to come at us and halt our advance. In doing so he split his forces.

"I ordered my troops to advance. The young hero Lieutenant Winstanley was eager to seek redress from his unfortunate battlefield incident of some days ago and asked to be released from the main battle line (where he was accompanying the wonderful Doctor and his magical contraptions), in order to join the Lancers. I granted his said request.

"In the meantime the enemy threatened our left flank with such wondrous mammoth beasts as you are ever likely to see - magnificent animals, but particularly nasty to behold when they have taken fright of those around them. The animals were urged forward in support of a large group of the barbarians clumped together to navigate the awkward terrain to their front.

"The enemy commander Dumnorix meanwhile lead a group of riders forward to answer the obvious challenge laid down by our advancing lancers.

"Dumnorix deployed his riders facing Lieutenant Winstanley and the gallant men of the 21st.

"Dumnorix seemed to think that fancy manoeuvring might keep him and his men safe from the merciless steel of British lances.

"Your gallant nephew Lieutenant Winstanley charged forward directly at the barbarian hero general, and they had it at each other in a most frenetic to-do the like of which one rarely sees. Sir, you would have been most proud.

"The barbarian hero was vanquished in a most extraordinary stoush. Such sudden loss of their leader left the barbarian horde most extraordinarily flummoxed, and they left the field with all speed.

"I believe this, Sir, is the victory that you most earnestly requested.

"I remain, Sir, your most obedient servant

"Brigadier Francis Mulholland Sommerville"

So ended the next battle in the annals and adventures of the pioneering British army lead by Major General Caruthers.

Where to next? What perils would Sommerville and Caruthers face?

This was the third game that Nick and I played taking advantage of his all too brief stay with us over the Christmas break.

The barbarian army consisted of:
2 x Behemoths (Mammoths)
1 x Hero general
2 x Riders
4 x warband

Sommerfield's force consisted of:
1 x Hero
1 x Magician
1 x Mechanical Dragon
2 x Knights (Lancers)
2 x Shooters
1 x Blade
1 x Blade General

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

More bad news - it's not Caruthers' day, really

For Brigadier Sommerville life had been one case of bad luck after another. Thank goodness for the inheritance, otherwise he'd have been the oldest Captain in the regiment. Still, with family money, and the sponsorship of the highly esteemed Major General Caruthers, life had looked up with recent opportunities. A shame about those levantine swine spoiling the party though. The cheek of it, bringing flyers to the show; a little like taking a gun to a knife fight.

Breaking the news to the General about his favourite Winstanley had been hard, and to have seen the wonderful Doctor go down beneath a tumult of Turks was no fun either. However things were looking up with the late arrival of Lord Chelting and his wonderful flying machine. He now felt an air of confidence as reports came in of a Turkish horde approaching the encampment.

So his first order had been to Lord Chelting - push forward on the right. "Take the fight to those damned Turks" he'd said. Lord Chelting had raised the corner of his right eyebrow, sucked in a breath through his teeth, and gone to object, but clearly thought better of it in front of subordinates.

Sommerville had struggled to hide his surprise when the Turkish hero had come right out and attacked Lord Chelting. Damnednably unsporting.

The Turkish hero general attacks Lord Chelting, supported by the Turkish airboat

This certainly looked like it could all go horribly wrong.
The Turkish hero bounced off, and Chelting ordered the airboat around to support him.

This looked like it should go well for Chelting - his tactical manoeuvring had always been without peer.

Alas, Chelting's well planned attack was in its turn thwarted.

The Turkish general called in additional support from his other flyer, and a unit of cyclist riders, and ...

Ouch, Chelting was forced out of the fight

Sommerville now ordered his lancers forward against the Turkish blade, while his airboat attacked the Turkish artillery from the rear

The blade were forced back, and the artillery was destroyed

However the Turkish airboat, and riders came to their aid
The other Turkish flyer attacked the British airboat.. an optimistic attack in the spirit of self sacrifice, trying to keep the airboat off the blade.

The Turkish flyer is eliminated.. the y don't make those flying carpets the way they used to

The advancing British blade, lead by Sommerville, come under fire form Turkish shooters

But the British lancers are eliminated .. this isn't looking good

Finally the Turkish airboat attacked the British artillery left unsupported.

The victorious airboat gliding across where the British artillery had momentarily made its stand

Caruthers lay the second despatch down on the table next to the now empty coffee cup and lowered his head into his left hand. He squeezed his thumb and forefinger across his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. The brandy hadn't helped. He looked up into the faces of his waiting officers, their looks expectant and as yet unknowing.

"This looks grim, gentlemen" he whispered, his hand instinctively reaching for the brandy glass. "We have another fight on our hands."

Forcing the Uvarova

The vastness and the difficulty of the terrain through the Caucasus meant that by 1915 there were still avenues to be explored if victory wa...