Friday, 12 February 2016

Cid for AMW

When Jim (Hi Jim!) gave me the Hat El-Cid boxes back in August 2014 he expressed the view that there enough for an AMW army or two. At the time I didn't really think about the numbers required, and as regular readers will know what I actually did was paint DBA 3.0 armies as a starting point.

Since then it has become apparent that actually there aren't enough figures, mainly because the Feudal Spanish army should be about half cavalry. Hence my quest last year to track down some more Spanish Heavy Cavalry boxes. I'm short in a number of other areas too, so I've added a box or two elsewhere and relieved a colleague at work of a carrier bag's worth of his throw away spares from the range.

However, although I know I didn't have enough, I have never bothered to work out exactly how many more I need. The reason for this is that AMW doesn't actually have a Feudal Spanish army list in it. What Neil gives us is a "Frankish Armies 700 - 1100" list in the Dark Ages section (it's worse for the Andalusians and Almoravids, - they get "Arab Army 620-970").

The Frankish Army list isn't a bad starting point. It has Noble Heavy Cavalry, Retainer Light Cavalry, Heavy Infantry Spears and Light Infantry bowmen. There are rule modifiers that give Normans a charge bonus, enables crossbows instead of bows and upgrades Retainers to Heavy Cavalry.

So all the elements are there, just not necessarily in the right proportions.

One thing that does concern me a bit is that Neil doesn't seem to differentiate between Dark Ages/Medieval cavalry with horse armour and without. He rates all of them as Heavy Armour. The only "Extra Heavy" cavalry are Cataphracts. This is an issue for the Feudal Spanish as it was noted that their horses were vulnerable compared to their more northerly neighbours. On the other hand if I never fight them against northern European troops it isn't an issue, it's just a matter of getting the relative strengths right.

So, I give you:

Feudal Spanish 1000 - 1200

Caballeros/Military Orders (Heavy Cavalry, Heavy Armour, Elite) 2 - 4
Caballeros villanos (Heavy Cavalry, Heavy Armour, Average 1 - 2
Jinetes (Light Cavalry, (javelin) Light Armour, Average) 0 - 1
Militia Spearmen (Dark Age/Medieval Infantry, Light Armour, Average) 2 - 4
Skirmishers (Light Infantry, (javelins), Light Armour, Levy) 0 - 2
Arqueros (Light Infantry (bows), Light Armour, Levy) 0 - 2
Ballesteros (Light Infantry (crossbows), Light Armour, Average) 0 - 2

Special Rules
1) Mounted Troops: At least half the army must be made up of mounted troops
2) Knights Charging: Caballeros/Military orders roll an extra D6 per base in first round of combat
3) Better quality foot: Half of the Militia Spearmen can be upgraded to either dismounted knights or better equipped town militia. Increase armour to Heavy, but keep morale as Average*
4) Skirmishers can be armed with slings instead of javelins.
5) Massed Archers: If desired the Ballesteros/Arqueros may be replaced by a maximum of 1 unit each of Heavy Archers, Light Armour, Average, instead of the 2 in the list.

I may be being too generous to them, but then it'll depend on how the Moors turn out.

Still, it gives me a painting target.

As ever, thoughts and comments welcome.

*Yes, even for dismounted knights as they really didn't like getting off their horses.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

"It's getting a bit Chile" playtest 2.

The weekend gave me the chance to make sufficient rule amendments following the first playtest to warrant having another go.

I made changes to the effectiveness of artillery by halving the number of dice per base and doubling the number of bases in a battery. I also did minor surgery to the hand to hand combat rules, the rally/disorder rules and also the way troops in buildings are dealt with. There were numerous other minor changes and clarifications as well. Alas I still haven't got the command and control rules sorted.

For this game I had a new player - Chris K - as long as with Chris A and Phil who were at playtest number 1.

Strangely enough I don't seem to have taken a whole table set up photo. Briefly there's a railway running across the middle of the table, a small stream in one corner on the Peruvian left flank, a town on the Chilean right, some trackside buildings in the middle and a few hills mostly in the corners. For this game we're in the littoral area, not the altiplano. The scenario was that the Chileans had landed and were pushing inland with two divisions to seize the railway. The Peruvians were rushing up a similar sized force to stop them and liberate the town.

On their left flank one of the Peruvian divisions had to cross a small range of hills.

The other Peruvian division was more centrally placed. It has one artillery battery and a Gatling gun unit. For this game limbers were supplied by my British Sudanese baggage train.

This is the left hand Chilean division....

...and this is the right hand division.

The first move saw a rapid advance by the Chileans commanded by Chris A, making the most of the move bonus for being in march column.

Chris K, however, had the drop on him and got his troops to the railway buildings first. This proved crucial. In the bottom left corner you can see his Gatling guns heading for the hill top to provide covering fire.

On the left the other Peruvian division was taking its time crossing the stream.

The first firing of the game badly mauled the Peruvian cavalry in the centre, giving me a chance to show off my new blue Disorder markers, taken from my SvP set. You can see that Chris K has sheltered his infantry behind the buildings so he can stay in the faster, more vulnerable march column.

Next turn the Peruvians have seized the station, and pulled back their cavalry, deploying their artillery to cover the troops in the buildings. The Chileans have got their guns on the heights, ready to give the Peruvians sheltering in the centre a hot time.

Chris K is very thoughtful at this point. He's trying to work out how he can stop his troops in the buildings being surrounded and overwhelmed. It looks like he may have trapped himself. Shows what I know.

Chris A with the Chileans presses forward. His right centre is badly threatened however as the Peruvians have got into a firing line along the railway.

The Chileans' other problem is that I have over compensated for the strength of buildings and the effectiveness of artillery. Some rifle fire Disorders their large cavalry unit, centre top of the picture, so Chris pulls it back out of the way, and launches a charge with his other smaller unit. This is evenly matched with the Peruvians and so, barring an extreme dice rolling event,  will provide a holding action that will slow down the Peruvians until the other cavalry can reform.

So the 8:1 outcome wasn't what he was looking for. The Peruvian cavalry routs their opponents and emerges unscathed.

There's a messy fire fight going on in the centre now, and the Chileans are unable to break into the station....

...whose defenders are dishing out some serious damage.

In the centre the Peruvian infantry are having a good evening of it too, clearing away some of the opposing infantry.

Phil had arrived by this point and had taken over the Peruvian left wing. This was starting to encircle the Chilean centre line. Chris A by now was unable to buy a decent die roll, and was collapsing all over the place.

As a last ditch effort he launched an open order charge on the end of the Peruvian line who in sheer surprise were thrown back a square.

The Chileans were in a bad way by this stage and we were about ready for everyone to pack up and go home.

Another successful game from a designer's point of view. The core mechanisms have shown no need for major surgery. Some of the factors aren't quite right and as I said I have over done the adjustments on the artillery rules. All things considered, however, a satisfactory outcome. Compared with my normal development curve I'm well advanced for CoW in July.

Just need to get some llamas.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Update on my Cid-e project

Whilst it is the case that the Pacific War is the main event in the Trebian Wargaming World at the moment, I'm still finding time to move my Medieval Spanish along. Here's what I've painted since I last posted on the subject.

No real evidence that the Almoravids actually fought on camels, but you gotta have a unit of these, surely? The flag is probably a bit big, and the chequer  pattern should be smaller, but I'm pleased with the effect. These flags are done on tomato paste tube metal, not printed on paper, so the final look is down to my steady or not hand, not my ninja-like skills with Drawplus.

Next up Almoravid heavy cavalry. Probably need some banners of pennants to brighten them up. Nothing distracts from a dowdy paint job like colourful, fluttering loveliness.

These are Andalusian Heavy Cavalry. I like these figures, and the picture doesn't really do them justice. An abundance of nice flags help out a lot.

I've made a lot of progress on beefing up the Christian Heavy Cavalry. Adding in figures from the El Cid Spanish command box has bulked out the units, and I've also had time to paint up some of the sprues I got direct from Hat.

As you can see I now have two AMW sized Christian Heavy Cavalry/Knight units (must spend some time thinking about what an AMW medieval Spanish army looks like). Most of the lance pennons are home made. Some are cut off the plastic lances moulded onto the figures then re attached to metal weapons.

Now on to the Knights' less well endowed colleagues in the heavy cavalry area. These are some Caballeros Villanos, following behind their local church's Holy Banner.

I put two units of Almoravid heavy infantry together for this shot. As with their mounted colleagues I think I'm a bit lacking in the flag area. I should be able to do something about that.

This unit of Spanish heavy infantry has no basis in fact, as far as I can tell. They're based on the infantry in the movie "El Cid". Well, sometimes you just have to, don't you?

Massed heavy crossbows. I convinced myself I needed a unit of these, then when I'd finished them I wasn't so sure. Hmmm.

Spanish light infantry bows. I have a lot of bow-armed figures, and what I think I need is crossbowmen (the sources I've read always refer to cross bows when they write about military equipment, never just bows).

So...I found some metal 25mm light cross bows I bought about 25 or 30 years ago to give to some border horse but then changed my mind. The conversions aren't brilliant, but I'm still working on how to best adjust the arm positions, so a work in progress really.

There are some more Andalusian heavy foot on the painting desk at the moment, then I need to go back to Christian heavy cavalry. I may even think about rules at some point.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Osprey Armies of the Pacific War 1879-83

I've finally got my copy of, and read, the Osprey on the War of the Pacific.

Any new Osprey on a subject you are interested in is always greeted by a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Some Ospreys are really good and some aren't. Having said that when I start a new period I always try to hunt down the relevant Ospreys first to try to get a quick start into the subject.

As there were no Ospreys on the 18979-1883 war when I started I had to go out and find other books as a starting point. I've blogged about them elsewhere and the wargamer is surprisingly well served, given the obscure nature of the war. Alan Curtis' excellent two volume publication from Nafziger is a must buy (get it direct, - it's cheaper) as it is written by a wargamer for wargamers, and the Partizan Press uniforms book is excellent.

The Osprey is a good little book. It's cheaper than the stuff I've already mentioned, for a start. The outline history of the war and the campaigns/battles is well done and very clear, - something not always the case with other accounts I have read. Of course as you've got less than 50 pages it is a very sparse outline. However despite claims to the contrary in the chapter headings there's little in this book to help you understand the tactics of the war and how it was fought.

Of course you mainly go to an Osprey for the illustrations. They're really good and the colour ones are supplemented by a fair few line drawings in b&w but with full descriptions of the relevant uniform colours. However it doesn't really add anything to the Partizan Press book. In fact the line drawings are clearly taken from the same source as the Partizan Press book, often down to the same poses.If you have the latter you don't need the former.

The area that is completely lacking is anything to do with unit flags and standards, which is a major disappointment. However the maps are good.

So, in summary, not a bad primer on the subject, but not a lot there for anyone who has moved on from base camp. It isn't a bad book, - there are no errors in it that I could see on my first read through, which is always reassuring, but it hasn't moved my thinking any further forward. I'd say it makes an acceptable substitute for the Partizan Press book if you don't want to shell out the extra £35 to get your hands on it.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

"It's getting a bit Chile" - first trial game

Thursday evening saw the first play test of the Pacific War rules. I was ably assisted by Chris A and Phil. For this early war battle I had the combined Peruvian & Bolivian forces attacking the Chileans holding a crest line. I played the Chileans as the defence is fairly passive in this type of scenario.

Here's the massed forces of the Alliance. Bolivians to the right as we look at them.

Here's one of my new haciendas from Irregular Miniatures, guarded by some Chilean infantry.

And out for their first airing the 1st Cuirassiers of the Bolivian Army.

An opening salvo from the Peruvian guns inflicts a Disorder marker on the unit opposite. You should be able to make out the smoke from the gun and the white disorder marker.

The Chilean artillery returned fire and caused a lot of damage. First indication I may have got this bit of the rules slightly wrong.

This was evidenced also by the Peruvians pounding one of the haciendas, which seemed to provide little shelter.

Yup. Artillery probably too powerful. Notes were made on my print out of the rules. That's why the photo record is incomplete. I spent a lot of time making notes.

See, there's a gap where the Cuirassiers are duffed up by some scruffy Chilean dragoons, and Phil had to deploy the Colorados (the guys in red) to protect his flank.

Elsewhere Chris had one brigade that had adopted modern Open Order tactics and was so making better progress.

However, being in Open Order makes for a tempting target for a cavalry charge. The cavalry got thoroughly trashed. Mostly because the units are half the size of the infantry. Time for a rethink there as well.

Out on the left we had a cavalry clash too. I won this one, which created a problem later.

With the cavalry driven off the firing into the hacienda caused a small conflagration.

With the cavalry in retreat the Peruvians closed the distance and drove the defenders out with heavy, close range fire.

I followed up after winning the cavalry melee on the left and then was caught by a fresh unit and broken. This rather exposed my left flank. Shouldn't have been greedy.

In the middle the Peruvians continued their advance, and started to bring up their artillery. I had withdrawn my guns at this point as they were causing too much damage and I wasn't going to be able to play test some of the other rules.

We had another cavalry tussle on the right...

...which I won, having shot off the Colorados from the ridge line.

The Peruvians drove on in the middle and captured the well.

On the left I got completely flanked and was charged in the rear by the Peruvian cavalry. Not sure about this. I think I might restrict cavalry to flat ground only.

Of course this is sour grapes as my unit was broken immediately.

In the centre the Peruvians were held off from the hills I was occupying by sustained rifle fire. This bit looked fine

Alas my left had collapsed completely, so we called it a night.

The core mechanisms being tested held up well enough. I need to run through the numbers to make sure I've got the values spot on but the D8>D6>D4 mechanism discussed previously worked well, and the disorder process tied well with the formations. The players followed this really quickly, which is good, as I've sometimes had problems here.

As I said before there are lots of rules still to add in, but the central engine looks good. Very pleased with progress so far.

As a footnote I should say something else about the formations. In conversations with the late Paddy Griffith he, and others, were of the view that if we are playing army commanders we shouldn't trouble ourselves with giving orders for formations at battalion level as that's the job of battalion commanders. Generally I think that's right, but in this case there's sufficient evidence of formations being decreed from on high and people possibly getting it wrong that I think this is an important part of the rules.