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L’art de la Guerre Angle Grinder

It was just like any other Friday night until Mr. Jackson produced a stained plastic box from within his floor length leather jacket. Not content to fight fairly, Chris had sought the dark corners of the black web and tried to buy himself onto the top rung of competition gaming. Under a soiled cardboard covering was an army painted by none other than Mr. T Porter, Mr. Madaxeman himself. Selling out his children’s future for the promise of toy soldier glory, Chris looked smug.

Two whole corps of impact horse were ready to lead my Spaniards a merry dance. The black flags of the Abbassids would attempt to lure my own impetuous horse to their doom. What followed was two hours when the ruleset was tested to breaking point by Mr. Jackson’s ambitious interpretations/ variants/ unpublished FAQs that had “just been published!”

Notice the A ( sic “hay” in the field ( A for ambush of course!) After a few issues with trying to cram all Andalusia’s arable land into one sector, Chris was less than happy. Apparently you can’t put fields in seawater and ambushes aren’t allowed in the Spanish deployment area.

I deployed my archers and javelinmen in the fields opposite the Arab foot. I was expecting an attack on my camp. Unfortunately Chris had miscalculated his number of command points and in one move, crossed two fields and a plantation to the other side of the table. Lester Picket eat your heart out! He was off to the other side of the field.

Thankfully though the unit that didn’t have a general figure, or indeed any flag, was in fact the general so the skirmishers could still be commanded from four foot away. Chris explained how the general was the figure with the raised fore leg😳. El Jackson had seen that my caballeros might stand a chance against one corps of lancers , but not two. I needed to wipe out his right wing horse before reinforcements arrived.

My slow moving spearmen would have to pin the super fast Arab horsemen. Unfortunately Chris had misread the stats for heavy cavalry. He also then forgot that light horse did not have to evade. We just had time to argue over whether impetuous Spanish cavalry got an impact bonus. After half an hour, we found that the answers were all written in the rules. Unfortunately we delved back into the rules to see if cavalry could charge at an angle. Apparently horses and their miniature replicas can actually wheel.

The rash charge of my heavy horse was held, even after discomforting the Abbasid general. I’d lost half the cavalry corps and my spearmen looked like their line would be flanked in the following turns. The Abbasid infantry were not leaving their fields and there was just enough time to grouse about a dice that threw too many sixes before Chris’ mum rang to say that if he didn’t come home soon, she’d be locking the door.

Not the most fast flowing game but memorable for the fact that we both agreed never ever, ever to play with impetuous troops ever again! English Civil Wargame on the 26th at Firestorm maybe anything but civil! Thanks for reading!

Ps on the painting front I picked up these rather nice basing materials from a Polish trader last week- Alien laboratories. Great service and a quality product. These will go nicely on my Fall of Rome bases.

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Games workshop to the rescue!

Verb: Doing a Meghan……..definition: ignoring or dropping past friendships after becoming famous

Verb: Doing a Richard……..definition: forgetting tabletop gaming and going all online 

Well one of the above should now be a thing of the past! Over a year ago I was extolling the virtues of the new range of Games Workshop paints. Add a light undercoat, paint in ” base” colours that really do cover well. Use GW washes to add depth, followed by “highlights”  – again pre-mixed and all ready for detailing. Well now GW it would appear has gone still further in the battle against shiny unpainted miniatures  upsetting those with a concern for presentation.

The base coat is either bone or light grey. There is a large range of ” contrast” paints that are added to the miniature and , wait for it, no other layer is needed! The “paint” is rather a mix of pigment and wash that covers the base coat but, is also oily enogh to define depth and raised areas. Clever heh?

The most widely circulated advert is above. The older triad of paints is on the top row. Although three stages are on the lower row, the technical paint would appear to be the basing terrain. I’ve got to admit I’m excited. Huns and steppe nomads would appear to be an obvious choice but the new paints will also include metallics so I may finally get around to that Wars of the Roses army.

I have some Arab camel riders to finish this week using washes but my next army will definately be to test this exciting development. The miniature below ( historical gamers look away now) would certainly not embarrass any collection. Great days may lie ahead, despair not, the lead pile may disappear as fast as a Conservative votes in an election.

More news as soon as I can get my hands on some paints. Now miniatures were hurt in this article. Thoughts and comments always welcome…

Michelangelo de Wash

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L’art de la Guerre- The cost of a Tower

Baldwyn Mawr of Crickhowell resented the new edifice in the south of his kingdom. In Chepstow, the Norman invaders had constructed the biggest stone structure that the South Welsh had ever seen. William fitz Osbern would not be satisfied with just taunting the Welsh with the Great Tower, he would be eyeing up the rich lands of Glamorgan. The cancer had to be stopped and Baldwyn was ready to move on the source of the disease.

William’s trusty warhorse, Michael de Lane advised against standing a siege. The construction workers had stirred up resentment in the locality and so the forces of the Normans sought out a defensive position to the North of the Wye.

The Welsh comprised two large battles of longbowmen and smaller numbers of lightly armoured spearmen. The third command under Llewellyn Dim comprised only spearmen and sought sanctuary in the fields to the East. Only Llewellyn Dim’s skirmishers dared to venture out.

The Welsh war council had thought that the Normans would lead with their heavy Knights but De Lane advanced his Saxon bowmen to a low rise in the centre of the field.

Baldwyn Mawr saw an opportunity and brought his whole line forward. The longbow would cut through armour but the extra piercing qualities of the Welsh bows was lost on the Saxon lackeys.

For the moment the Norman horse were only trotting forward, it was in the centre that the archers clashed, where both generals stoked the combat.

The Welsh had the powerful bows and they had numbers, they didn’t have time to win the exchange of arrows before the mounted Normans would flank them. It was time for the Welsh archers to resort to hand strokes and the clash was bloody. Baldwyn’s hothead lead to the commital of his second son, Llewellyn Bola, soon to be commemorated as Llewellyn the Last.

Above- the last resting place of a Welsh prince!

A Pyrric victory in the centre meant two wings that had been neglected. De Lane had carefully marshalled his mounted wing and these had only the very nervous mountain men of the Mynnydd Ddu ( Black Mountain).

On the Welsh left Baldwyn had his mounted hearth troops but they couldn’t stop the wall of Norman spearmen. A devious flank charge wasn’t enough to turn the tide but the wily Welsh wizard had another plan, and another son…….

A rear attack on a Norman knight conroi, what could go wrong? The loss of one son to see the tower fall may have been just about acceptable, but Llewellyn Dim’s pony riding heroes would be no match for the knightly bully boys!

The fighting continued in the outlying fields but the Welsh had lost heart. The lightly armed Welsh could give a good account of themselves in the muddy fields but in the open , it was no contest.

It had been an excellent, closely fought game. One more Norman unit would have equal led the score but that was against the flow of the battle. It’s always a pleasure to fight Mr. Lane and even if I lost my army of freedom fighters, and both my sons, and my reputation, there’s always next time. More photos of the superlative Chepstow castle in the “pages” section- well worth a visit.

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War-gods of Slimbridge

Three months have passed since my last tournament, so it was with some trepidation that we entered the lair of the Beast, the Tudor Arms, Slimbridge, for a three round L’art de la Guerre competition. 120 points  gives you a decent sized game that can generally be completed in about an hour and a half. The variant is available from the L’art de la Guerre site. All the usual heroes were in attendance so after some preliminary insults, we were once again playing our favourite competition ruleset as the sun rose above the canal bank.

First shock of the day, the Don with his Early Arabs. This would be painful. He knows the rules inside out and is one of the few on the circuit who can talk more than me. I positioned my Franks in the centre, with skirmishers in the central plantation. Big mistake! Don had a secondary command of medium foot and the undergrowth would soon resonate to the soft tread of Arab sandals.

Second problem, my Sarmatian allies were unreliable. They wouldn’t budge as the Don split his corps and lined up his camels against my armoured horsemen.

It was time to  draw breath  before the inevitable. Chris was manfully pitting his Vikings against Mr. Glew’s Early Germans. Martin was meanwhile busy trying to prise the coins out of the little invalid statue in the carpark.

The overall standard of painting is so good now, and this combined with quality sculpts, makes for great looking games. Paul had the new Ostrogoth cavalry which are superlative but Adrian stole the prizes for best army painting with his Huns.

Back to my game and the Sarmatians remained unreliable and therefore uncommitted until Don’s desert dwellers smashed into them. Only my single skirmisher held the plantation as the Sarmatians folded. I made a half hearted attack in the centre but it was too little, too late.

Game two was against Adrian’s Hunnic host. This army is one of the best I have ever seen! Muted colours but such an eye for detail. From the moment he put down his camp, I knew it would be a delight to look at. While we recounted tales of football hooliganism from the Eighties, Adrian lay out a strong line of bow and lance armed nomads, but who was lurking in the woods?

This time my Sarmatians were feeling more warlike and sprang the ambush. It wasn’t Ron Davies lurking in the woods, but a large number of Slavic foot. My Black Sea Knights were up to the challenge and dived in. Working in conjunction with their light horse, the Hun right was faltering.

Adrian wasn’t trying to shoot me to death anymore. He ordered his horsemen into my waiting warbands and heavy horse.

Alaric and my Franks held the charge and countered magnificently. The dice gods were indeed kind but it also helped that my foot could take four losses to the Hun three. It was that close. The Hun lost heart and routed.

A short lunch break was nearly ruined when Steve was intent on parading around the tables, nipples to the fore, recounting the uncommon occurrence of occupying his opponent’s half of the table at the close of play. Viewers of a nervous disposition may need to look away now.

Early Germans were my last opponent and thank God, he’d chosen medium foot. My Sarmations were once again unreliable but that just made the Germans even more aggressive. Medium foot in the open, against my heavy lancers were doomed. Medium cavalry against heavy horse were similarly impeded, despite being elite.

Andy stole first place of course, with Steve “nipples” Price coming second. Tears were shed as I stumbled to the rostrum to be handed the champagne and trophy for Third place! I’d faced three great opponents and full marks to Keith and Andy for putting on such a great event. We look forward to the next West Country 120 competition at Thornbury in August. Get your entries to Keith McGlynn ASAP ( Facebook or snailmail- Master K McGlynn, 69 Furze Cutters Lane, Badger’s Tarp, Berk-ley. Please note that postal orders are not acceptable pre- Brexit.

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Flames of War- Oil Wars Firestorm

I refuse to believe that anything that happened in my life time can be classed as History! And yet, major events that happened in the 1970s and 1980s are indeed the stuff of history books. Thankfully the Cold War didn’t turn hot in Europe at least but the latest offering from Battlefront takes the Iran Iraq war as the theatre for operations between the Free World and the East. Our campaign starts with mostly local forces to begin with but the Superpowers are busying themselves with arming their proxies. (Below) Iraqi forces with US allies lose their outpost to the Syrians.

My army had no need of allies. I chose Israelis to fend off the Revolutionary Iranians. Two tank companies gave me a mix of Merkava 1s and M60s. I dug my mechanised infantry in along the highway and trusted in quality over quantity. My M60 company was off table, waiting to flank the Iranian horde. I also had the shadowy Pereh platoon- an anti-tank missile system built on to the chassis of an M48. The Pereh does not require line of sight so this too would hopefully help slow the Iranians.

Pete went for two platoons of Basij, fanatical revolutionary guards to seek martyrdom and close with the dug in Israeli infantry. They are easy to hit but what came behind was worse!

The malignly inspired revolutionaries ploughed forward, their commander forgetting that this would obscure the tanks from giving covering fire. The Israeli defenders forgot to leave clear lines of fire also- the version four rules has the units moving around the battlefield in what can only be described as “orb” formation.

The machine guns of the M113s saved the day. The revolutionary guard was stopped by a hail of bullets and mortar fire.

The hand of the (Israeli ) God removes the heretics! The infantry would have to dig in and await the tanks to duke it out.

The problem was that the Merkavas and Iranian Chieftains have the same gun! M60s from both sides were the target of choice. I did switch to take out the Iranian triple A but the air power didn’t amount to much. As the Pereh missile strike arrived, the students and scholars of the Basij rose up and swept the Israeli  infantry off the objective. It had been a close run thing and the battle had been no walk over for Iran.

I can’t say I knew much about this period but the Flames of War ruleset appears to handle the modern period well. The addition of helicopters and jets did not seem to totally dominate the battlefield on the other two tables either. Track to track tank armadas do dominate but the play is fast and furious! Round two is on Friday at Firestorm Games.

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Kings of War Historical- Outrageous slings and arrows!

The omens didn’t look good for Rome. Massed spear regiments formed the centre of the Greek line but it would be a more mundane troop type that would be my undoing. Read on as Patrician Rome bites off more than it can chew!

We are definately in the honeymoon period with the Kings of War Historical ruleset. Other sets are more “gritty” in their depiction of ancient warfare but this set is really good fun, with an emphasis on the fun! Previous sets have had some difficulty in replicating hoplites warfare or at least making an exciting game of it, without a slogging match situation. Measurement push backs and book keeping are out with KoW, it’s Hollywood historiacal but in a good way. Think 300 without the war rhinos ( although you can actually have monsters us beasts!) and who doesn’t want fire pigs and war dogs!?

Basing is more similar to Warhammer ancient battle than the DBX style but our ADLG 60mm squares work just fine. Two bases gives one a “troop” in game terms, four units constitute a “regiment”. I however went for hordes and that means eight! Search for the fantasy version and see what can be done with such a footprint…….

My plan was to hold the hoplites up with two hordes of barbarian heavy foot and roll up his flank with my heavy horse. Flank attacks are deadly in this game, getting double the already generous number of attack dice.

My cataphracts were to lead the assault, followed by two units of heavy horse to exploit the breakthrough. I was thinking opening scenes of Gladiator but it didn’t quite turn out like that. I got drawn into a missile fight between our mounted skirmishers and that drew me closer to Steve’s prepared killing ground.

What’s lurking in those bushes?

In the centre my skirmishers were tasked with holding up the Greek foot. After on volley, they were pounced on by the Hellenistic vanguard, with no evade move!

Not content with dispersing my skirmish screen, the hoplites burst through and assaulted my Germanic federatii ! Through the temple ruins on my right, medium foot were darting from tree to tree. 

On my left, the Greek light horse were gone but a storm of slingshots started to land. First a few and then a whole storm of slingshots. I rashly stayed in position to finish off his skirmishers but the shots from the bushes were costing me dear. It also meant that I could not complete my movement across the table to roll up the hoplites. They even had the audacity to unhorse one of my cataphracts!

The full weight of the Greek army was now pushing against my barbarian allies. Surely these ferocious Teutons could hold against the effette attack!? My plan for two massive hosts meant Steve could concentrate two units against one and in amongst his front line were Spartan veterans and the palace guard.

It was a much reduced force that hit the Greek flank. My cataphracts were worried about a Greek spear unit on their flank and my German federatii horse went in piecemeal. A chance for my legion to attack through the undergrowth was mistimed and Steve was able to see off the horsemen and then rout the remnant Legion.

But my Richard the Third moment was upon me. Nevermind routing troops all around, it was time to cease the game by taking out the Greek general. Roman virtus against Greek perfidity, Mano a Mano ( but with a regiment of charging cataphracts close at hand😡😫)

Never mind the divine light shinning down on the battle, the Greek Logos held his ground and brought down  a flank charge that severely discomfited my Armoured kettlemen. It was over…..

Despite ( yet another) defeat, I am a great fan of these rules. We finished the game in about two and a half hours, and that includes the inevitable catcalls and hoots of derision from the small crowd that had gathered to witness the debacle. We meet again a week Tuesday for a titanic Republc versus Celtic clash- all welcome as per usual. Thank very much for reading.

Miguel Sanchez de Bolivar

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Rebels and Patriots- Time changes everything, and nothing!

Saturday mornings forty years ago, off to the cinema with the boys from the flats. More fun was to be had throwing coins at the safety curtain that preceded the film, and hearing all the new swear words that the commissioner directed toward the missile throwers. Before heading off to the park in order to look for dead budgies in the open air aviaries , there was the newsagent. And in the front window of the newsagent were row upon row of toy soldiers, thousands of them……

Pocket money ran to one or two figures a week but if only you could clamber into that window space. And what a calamity if my grandparents bought one that I already had. Looking back now, the figures still have the capacity to catch my imagination. The colours may not be as accurate as purists may now demand but the excitement of these early battles was palpable….

The nco was my favourite from the above line up. The paper flag always had a short life expectancy and this resulted in a whole parade of pistol firing flagless standard bearers after a few weeks active service in my Nan’s flowerbeds. She never left a man behind in those beds too. Many was the evening that one of my soldiers was awol and we would go on a torch lit search. I didn’t know much about history then. I’m not too sure the manufacturers did either- I vaguely remember having some Timpo Confederates with arrows in their sides? A rare death for confederates, even in the West, I would have thought. What all these figures have, is of course, character…..

I’ve finally got my first force ready for the much admired Rebels and Patriots wargames rules. Circles may not be everyone’s first choice for horse and musket wargames figures but I am hooked. The rules are great fun and the “armies” are cheap and easy to collect. I liked the circle basing so much, I made them another centimetre wider in diameter than was actually stipulated in the rules.

Two units of Federal cavalry are now ready to crush the rebellion. They are supported by twenty four elite infantrymen. The Easter holidays should see the whole transformation of my American Civil War collection.

And what about the supporters of the Second War of Independence I hear you yee-haw?! Fighting Big Government, protectionism and standing up for States’ Rights are the first of my Confederate forces. 

Thanks very much for reading- the plan is to get a ACW game together before the end of May. But this holiday it’s time to get the Total War/ Kings of War/ Impetvs hybrid back on the table. Have a great Easter break!