Bulking Out The Ancient British Panzer Division

Updating all my Vis Bellica-based armies for To The Strongest means doubling the size of all my forces, or at least it does the way that I’m doing it. Vis Bellica has element bases that are (for 15mm figures) 6cm wide, so when I switched systems, it seemed obvious to use two VB elements to represent one TTS unit using the recommended 15cm TTS grid. That also means that I can show disorder in TTS merely by moving the two elements apart at an angle i.e. no need for additional markers.

That’s fine for standard units, but we’ve already seen how TTS deep units (such as Hoplites, Pikes, some Warriors) need four VB bases per TTS unit…and the same is unfortunately true for light chariots as well. In VB, they are based on a 3cm frontage: so four VB light chariot units are needed to make one TTS light chariot unit.

That was fine for the Egyptians, as I already had loads of light chariots in a double-size VB army. It is not so fine, however, for my Ancient British. The VB version has six light chariot bases - just about the right number - but that only makes 1½ TTS light chariot bases. Time to paint lots of chariots!

Reading the TTS army lists, however, the Ancient British have light chariots up to AD211 and light cavalry after that, so the author recommends mixing light cavalry and light chariots in a TTS Ancient British light unit that can count as both. Good idea: time, then, to paint loads of light cavalry rather than light chariots!

Xyston have some very nice Ancient British Unarmoured Cavalry, so that’s what I went for: painting up six four-horse bases’ worth and, controversially, mounting them to match the chariots rather than the more normal four-across-6cm for light cavalry.

This means that the ABPD currently looks like this:

Which looks really good.

So all I need now is another two chariots and another eight cavalry to hit the minimum number of light chariot units required.

Oh, and if I wanted to keep my chariots together, here’s what a light cavalry unit would look like too:

5th Game of To The Strongest

Wargaming buddy Neil told me that he had a couple of large 10mm Samurai armies in his attic somewhere. They were based for Warmaster Ancients but, with a bit of jiggery-pokery, translated nicely into two Sengoku Samurai armies for To The Strongest.

The sides, largely homogeneous, were as follows:

The Soft-top Box Samurai

  • Senior General

    • 3 x Mounted Samurai

  • General 1

    • 3 x Foot Samurai

  • General 2

    • 3 x Foot Samurai

  • General 3

    • 2 x Ashigaru Spearmen

    • 2 x Ashigaru Teppo

  • General 4

    • 2 x Ashigaru Spearmen

    • 2 x Ashigaru Teppo

The Hard-top Box Samurai

  • Senior General

    • 4 x Mounted Samurai

  • General 1

    • 6 x Foot Samurai

  • General 2

    • 1 x Foot Samurai

    • 3 x Mobs

  • General 3

    • 4 x Ashigaru Spearmen

    • 3 x Ashigaru Teppo

Mounted Samurai from the Soft-top Box Clan (the red markers are Heroes)

The Game

Neil and I each deployed one command at a time. I was playing the Soft-top Box Clan (i.e. the figures from the box with the soft top!) and deployed my mounted Samurai on my right, opposite Neil’s mounted Samurai; one of my Ashigaru commands in the middle, opposite Neil’s large Ashigaru command; and both units of Foot Samurai on the left, opposite Neil’s mob unit and unit of Foot Samurai. I kept one Ashigaru command in reserve behind my centre.

My plan was to hold the right and centre whilst my superior numbers on the left beat his right, and then swept on into the rest of his line from the flank.

The centre of my line (the teppo are behind pavises)

The left of my line

The key difference between our two set-ups were that, without a reserve, Neil’s line was stacked two deep in places. This would have a significant effect on the forthcoming action, as where he had a numerical advantage, he would have difficulty bringing these superior numbers to bear.

The action began on my right, where my three units of Mounted Samurai faced off against his four units of the same. I took advantage of some rocky terrain and tried to lure him into attacking me, but Neil was too canny to fall into that trap. I therefore bit the bullet and charged forward: his double-stacking meaning that I could fight two-vs-two rather than four-vs-three.

 The action on the right unfolds

The action on the right unfolds

My initial charge met with mixed success. One unit of his cavalry were destroyed, but one of mine became disordered and was forced to retreat and rally. I renewed my attack, this time supported by a unit of Ashigaru spearmen and, eventually and largely due to the cards very much falling my way, his cavalry crumbled and were removed from the field. This would then leave the way clear for the CinC’s Mounted Samurai to get past his line and capture Neil’s left hand camp.

Meanwhile, on my left, I had pushed my Foot Samurai forward, intending to being superior numbers to bear on that end of Neil’s line. Unfortunately, the Yellow command got a bit tangled in the terrain, and I ended up with one unit destroyed, leaving two more units facing four units of his Foot samurai. This would usually spell disaster, but some how these two units refused to be beaten. Despite being disordered again and again, the brave Yellow Samurai rallied each time and, at the end of the game, were still very much in the battle.

This left me with four Ashigaru units facing Neil’s six Ashigaru units in the centre. Again, however, Neil’s stacked line meant that we each had four units in play and, again, the cards fell in my favour, and I quickly destroyed two of his units. I was then able to bring in my reserve force of four more Ashigaru units, guns fully loaded, and win the resultant eight-vs-four combat. Neil should have been able to support his Ashigaru with his command of peasant Mobs, but the fact that by this time my cavalry had broken through and was threatening his camps meant that he had had to withdraw them in order to defend his baseline.

Ashigaru action in the centre

Once Neil had started haemorrhaging victory coins, it was hard to stop, and eventually he ran out and was forced to retreat. Somehow I had managed to inflict a pretty hefty defeat on him: I had lost only four coins by the end of the game, Neil had lost twenty!

Post-Game Analysis

Although we both agreed that the cards had very much fallen my way, we also agreed that Neil had perhaps stacked his units too deeply to begin with: my rapid advances never giving him the chance to properly deploy. Significantly, I had run into difficulty on my left, where I had also stacked units deep, so it seems as if that is something to avoid.

Although I did seem to win by a lot, it never seemed to me as if I were winning, except right at the end. A good game, made interesting by the homogeneous forces involved.

New Ancient Britons!

I need to take a break from painting Hoplites, so thought I’d also start bringing my Ancient Britons up to scratch.

I’ve had Ancient Brits for as long as I have been wargaming: starting with an army for WRG 6th mostly made up with Airfix plastics but with a smattering of metal command figures; and then another, 15mm, force for Vis Bellica, which I had painted for me for the Society of Ancients “Battle of the Sambre” Day, for which we won best game of the day.

It’s only meet and right, therefore, that I adapt the 15mm troops for To The Strongest: which means painting chariots, light cavalry and warriors. And heroes, which is what I’ve started with.

This is a pack of Gaeseti Nobles from Xyston. Nice crisp, animated figures that paint up well. Which is lucky, as I’ve got a load of light cavalry to paint as well.

TFL Painting Challenge: Biggest Update Ever!

Well that will teach me to remind everyone that the Painting Challenge is entering its final phase!

A vast number of entries crashing into my Inbox, even including a first entry or two.

Excellent work, keep it up: still three weeks to go.

So, in no particular order, we have:

  • Lloyd with more 6mm goodies

  • Mark Luther has started a new F&I project based in the Sugar Islands (the project, not mark)

  • A fantastic Russian house and a mass of figures from Chris Cornwell

  • After taking a year off, Fred Bloggs returns with a vast number of very colourful 6mm Eldar

  • Carole sends in some rather nice ruined buildings and a couple more tanks

  • More Mr C from Ralph (I don’t know what they are either. Best not to ask: I don’t want to have to take a San. Check!)

  • Sapper fills out his SYW collection

  • Ed Bowen submits some bunnies, doggies and duckies…and some other things too

  • Mervyn is marching with the, er, Riders of Rohan

  • The most vastest, hugest entry from Steve Lampon: 28mm Gates of Antares, 28mm Gangs of Rome, lots of 6mm Yom Kippur figures, and some 28mm Byzantines I would sell my grandmother for

  • Jason Ralls returns with some French and German early war kit

  • And last, but by no means least, Joe McGinn slips in some US 15’s

As always, clicking on the name of the person will take you directly to their gallery (opens in a new window). I would highly recommend taking a look: there is some fantastic work on display.

Here’s a taster: today’s pictures…

CDS Arab-Israeli: Israeli AA Half-Tracks

A break from painting Hoplites to carve into the Arab-Israeli section of my lead mountain.

Those who pay attention will remember that I bought a whole load of kit in anticipation of playing a few games based on the 1973 Yom Kippur War rather than the 1967 Six Day War. The lists have been produced (available free in the CDS section of this website…although keep your eyes peeled as I’m about to update them with some extra info received from fellow Lardy Richard Naylor) and all that was needed was some of the new equipment available in 1973.

For the Israelis, this starts with a couple of units almost guaranteed never to get onto the table!

The first is a platoon of M3 TCM-20 Anti-Aircraft half-tracks:

These are very nice models: really easy to put together and paint. I sprayed them with GW Death Forest Green, washed in GW Agrax Earthshade, then highlighted and painted the crews and equipment. Only half of them have the aerial recognition “T” on the bonnet: I ran out of decals and will have to do the other two at a later date.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh about the AA half-tracks never getting onto the table…but I’m almost certain that this next lot are fated to spend their lives “in the box”: jeeps with TOW launchers.

As their minimum range in CDS terms is about 6½’, they will either have to lurk right at the back of the table (I can manage 8’ at a push) or be some kind of table decoration. Perhaps I’ll play a Space Invaders scenario i.e. a mass of Egyptian tanks charging one or two Israeli TOW-mounting jeeps. Might be fun.

IABSM AAR: Lille

Time for another game of I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! with John and Dave…but what to play? Dave has requested an early war encounter, so a quick look back through my library of scenarios and I settle on one of Richard Clarke’s games: Lille.

The premise is simple: Rommel’s Germans are advancing rapidly on Lille, aiming for the village of Lomme, whose capture will seal off the escape route of all English and French forces in the area. The Allies have realised what the Germans are up to, and have dispatched a small force to hold Lomme for as long as possible. The scene is set for an epic clash!

Click on the picture below to see all:

More new Hoplites

I’m continuing to build up my Hoplite Greek force for To The Strongest. My target is six units of Hoplites, with each unit being 48 figures strong. That’s 288 Hoplites in all!

I started with 96 Hoplites, added another 48 two weeks ago, and am now adding another 48 making 192 in all. So 96, or two more units to go.

zhoplites.jpg

This time, I chose to use Hoplites from Forged in Battle’s 15mm range. They come with shields and spears attached, and although the spears don’t look quite as good as the wire spears used with the Xyston lot, it did save an awful lot of time to have them ready-fitted.

So how do these compare with Xyston?

  • There’s less variety of pose in the FiB pack, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as Hoplites are supposed to be in formation , so even-Stevens on that one.

  • As mentioned, the spears and shields are integral, so don’t look as good, but save an awful lot of work, so even-Stevens on that one too.

  • Details is comparable, although the hoplons themselves (the shields, darling, the shields) are a little small.

  • The FiB Hoplites are a shade easier to paint: the relief on the panoply is just slightly deeper

So, all-in-all, Xyston edge FiB in terms of quality of sculpt and final look, but the ease of integral spears and shields, and the fact that FiB are slightly easier to paint, more than makes up for it. I shall use both evenly from now on.

zhoplitesrear.jpg

Right: time to start on the next 48 of the little blighters!

TFL Painting Challenge: Start of the Final Stretch

How can it be December already? It seems only yesterday that this year’s TooFatLardies Painting Challenge began! But December it is, so we enter the final stretch of this year’s affair.

Today we have entries from:

As usual, clicking on the name of the person above will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window).

Here are today’s pictures:

There’s still plenty of time to join the thirty-three Lardies who are active in this year’s challenge, particularly if you signed up but haven’t had a chance to submit anything yet.

Get your entries in now!

IABSM AAR: An Affair at Gazala

The regular TooFatLardies specials are a fantastic source of scenarios for all the TFL products, including that hardy perennial, I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum!

With John coming round for a game, I needed a quick bit of inspiration (sometimes you need a change from playing your own scenarios all the time) so quickly flicked through Derek’s excellent index to the Specials’ content, available for free in the files section of the TFL Yahoo Group. It had been a long time since the Italians had graced the tabletop, so I decided to play the An Affair at Gazala scenario written by fellow Lardy Klaus-Dieter Fritsch from the Christmas 2017 special.

The scenario takes place in June 1942 during the Gazala battles, but is entirely fictitious apart from the general setting.

The British are occupying a position atop a ridge. On the ridge are three hills and a few ruined buildings. Each hill represents an Italian objective: their aim being to either take at least two of the objectives or force the Brits to retreat through breaking their Force Morale (a rule “borrowed” from Chain of Command).

The situation is complicated by the conditions. The whole table is considered rough terrain, with wheeled vehicles limited to the track running up the centre. Even tracked vehicles have a chance of bogging down if traversing the rough ground, and both sides had a Vehicle Breakdown card in their deck. On top of that, the remains of a khamsin sandstorm were still around: visibility was limited to 36”, all fire at Effective and Long range was reduced, and the dust kicked up by moving vehicles a factor as well. In other words, just another day up in the Blue!

A lot of Italians!

The Italians

John would play the Italians. His choice, I hasten to add!

At his disposal, he had a three-platoon company of infantry consisting of a total of fourteen truck-mounted infantry squads and three AT rifle teams. These were supported by two platoons of tanks, with each platoon consisting of three M14/41 tanks, one Semovente 75/18 assault gun, and one L6/40 light tank. The Italians also had no particular shortage of Big Men or radios.

The British (or rather Scots!)

The Scots Guards holding the hills consisted of a three-platoon company of top class, stubborn, aggressive infantry (I shall refrain from commenting any further - the mother-in-law is from the Granite City - but there was no way the Italians were having our hills!) with plenty of Big Men, light mortars and anti-tank rifles.

Supporting them was a single Vickers MMG and a single 2pdr anti-tank gun (I think I was supposed to have two of these, but settled for one gun with a Bonus Fire card) plus an attached tank platoon of two M3 Grants, two A15 Crusaders and an M3 Stuart “Honey”. We’ll dispense with this last: the Honey spent just about the entire game Bogged Down, never getting to fire a shot and barely even catching sight of the enemy!

I decided to keep my armour in reserve, positioning them on the track, out of sight just behind the ridge.

It’s quiet…too quiet!

The Game Begins

As the sun rose over the British position, Italian Blinds began snaking their way onto the battlefield along the narrow track. Despite their elevated position, the khamsin prevented the Scots from spotting anything until the Italian column had passed a rocky outcrop near the track.

 The Italian Armour Leads the Way

The Italian Armour Leads the Way

The lead Blind proved to be a platoon of tanks, so I deployed my single anti-tank gun (in a sangar) and opened fire. I also summoned my armour up onto the ridge: if the Italian tanks headed for the infantry platoon holding the hill on the right of my line, I wanted to have more than one 2lb and a Boys AT Rifle to face them!

 Preparing for the Advance of the Italian Armour

Preparing for the Advance of the Italian Armour

The combined fire of the Grants, Crusaders and anti-tank gun proved effective: with the crews of the two lead Italian M14/41 tanks quickly bailing out as a fusillade of shells knocked holes in their vehicles.

Unfortunately, the abandoned vehicles then provided a neat shield for the other three Italian tanks, who would spend the next portion of the game shelling the Scots infantry in front of them with, fortunately, little effect.

The two tanks at the back are bailed!

“Keep your heids down, lads!”

Stymied on that axis of attack, the Italians now switched their entire effort to their right flank, advancing two platoons of infantry, their HQ platoon, and their other platoon of armour towards the left of the Scottish position as fast as they could go.

With so many units going forward together, there was a bit of confusion as the advance began, but the Italians soon sorted themselves out and began to threaten the Scottish line.

The Italian infantry advance by rushes, protected by a screen of tanks and the Khamsin

Although fire from the Scottish infantry proved ineffective due to the effects of the khamsin, the British tanks again enjoyed an initial success: knocking out the three Italian AT Rifle teams and taking a few chunks out of the advancing infantry.

All was looking good: with the Italian Force Morale reduced down to [4] in exchange for only a few casualties. Then, suddenly, the British tanks lost their mojo. All their shots at the advancing Italian tanks missed or bounced off armour, and return fire caused the crews of both Grants to bail: running for home chased by the jeers of their Scottish comrades!

I looked at my Force Morale: the loss of the tanks and a Big Man had dropped me down to [5], enough that if the Italians, despite their precarious hold on their own morale, managed to knock out a couple more tanks or infantry squads, then I was Gone (with a capital G), the Scots being ordered to retreat.

Correction: it was a Grant and a Crusader that bailed, not the two Grants

All now depended on who managed to land the first decent blow. Incredibly (in my opinion) it was the Italians who took the initiative: their tanks storming forward to burst through the British line and threaten to shoot everything up from behind!

Two Italian tanks burst through the line. Note the Bogged Down Honey!

A close up of the same situation

Both of the Italian tanks now turned their fire onto the Crusader: one shooting it from the flank, one from behind.

Not good!

Much to my surprise, the Crusader survived this onslaught, its gunner returning fire, but with no effect, and the first of the Italian infantry was now getting ominously close to the Scottish sangars.

Things were desperate, but the crew of the Crusader kept their nerve, reversing up onto the hill to keep their front armour towards the Italian tanks. The gunner calmly targeted one of the Italian tanks…BOOM!

At this point, the Italian Force Morale hit [0] and I had won!

Aftermath

Well that was a bit close!

If the Italian tanks had managed to dispatch the Crusader that they had got the drop on (more than possible given the situation) they would have been in the perfect position to start taking out my infantry from behind, with their own infantry poised to attack simultaneously from the front. A narrow escape for the Scots: who had just not been able to do enough damage to the khamsin-covered Italian advance.

An amazing game that all came down to the last few minutes of the action. Thanks, Klaus-Dieter, for a great scenario.

Robert Avery

Two More Games of 'To The Strongest'

Regular wargame buddy Neil came round earlier this week for another game of TTS. We’re still limited to using just the Egyptians and Assyrians (until I get a move on painting more Hoplites!) so went into battle again with just about the same forces as last time.

That meant that I had the Egyptians: a large command of light chariots, an Egyptian infantry command, and a command of raw Canaanite ally infantry.

Neil played the Assyrians again: fielding a command of heavy cavalry, a command of heavier chariots, a command of decent infantry, and a command of light infantry.

The Egyptian infantry in their new camps

Ancient Greeks masquerading as Canaanites!

Game One

Our first game was a bit abortive. I advanced the Egyptians infantry forward strongly in the centre, with the light troops of the Canaanites and chariots sweeping round on each wing. Neil kept his infantry back, but advanced his heavy chariots and cavalry forward intending to screen his chariots’ advance with his cavalry.

The Egyptian centre advances

Unfortunately there were a couple of rocky outcrops on the edge of the centre area of the battlefield, and his chariots and cavalry ran up against them, and got all jammed up together.

At this point, Neil realised that heavy cavalry weren’t really the sort of troops to use as a screen - you need light cavalry for that - and with his chariots and cavalry isolated from his main line and hopelessly entangled, and with my troops moving in to take advantage, conceded the game and ordered a general retreat.

Game Two

We reset the table. As I had an army full of light troops, Neil was setting up first all the time, with me able to position my commands to take best advantage of his deployment. This time, he again placed his infantry in the centre, but split his chariots and cavalry: placing one on either wing. In response, I faced his cavalry with the Canaanites, his chariots with mine, hoping to win the infantry battle in the centre whilst stalemating his best troops on the wings.

Now on my fourth game, I was starting to learn how to use my light chariots. In my first couple of games, I had used them individually as fast-moving infantry types, but in this game I went for his heavy chariots with two units to each of his. This allowed me to occupy them to the front ans shoot/charge them from the flank, especially as there was plenty of room on my left wing.

This worked for one unit of his heavies, and failed for the other…and failed in such a way that his chariots dispersed one of my chariot units, broke through the other and took a camp! All this, however, took time, and things were happening elsewhere on the field.

 Right!

Right!

Wrong!

The Canaanites, meanwhile, had the bit between their teeth and were heading for the Assyrian cavalry at a rate of knots. There were five Canaanite units versus three enemy units, and my plan was just to keep them occupied…even if it meant they were occupied in massacring my somewhat hapless allies! Incredibly, the Canaanites, whilst not exactly winning the resultant clash, certainly didn’t lose: so at least I had achieved my objective of forcing a stalemate on that wing.

So it was all down to the centre.

Here I had six units of infantry versus his four and, for once, everything went as planned. The bowmen shot their arrows from behind the line of spearmen and disordered his front line, the spearmen and axemen charged in to finish the job. Half his infantry force evaporated, with the other half badly threatened.

Meanwhile, I had got my left wing back under control, and was threatening to overwhelm the heavy chariots that had captured my camp (the others had already been nobbled by my chariots) and take it back.

It was all over for the Assyrians!

Postscript

Another couple of great games of TTS. We shall definitely be playing again: Neil has a couple of samurai armies in 12mm that will be facing each other in a week’s time or so.

Meanwhile he is spending his time working out how the Assyrians can counter the threat of the hordes of Egyptian light chariots. Answers on a postcard to…

 The Ancient Egyptian Panzer Division

The Ancient Egyptian Panzer Division


Scenery for To The Strongest

Now that the camps are sorted out, time to get a bit of scenery to dress the table and provide me with more of the sort of “traffic jam” problems that I encountered in my first game of To The Strongest.

I’ve got some desert style bits, but need to prepare for when my Hoplites eventually take the field. They are based in a sort of rocky outcrop style, so I need some sort of rocky outcrops to match.

A quick wander round Warfare and I came across The Scene. They had four rocky outcrop style bases about 120mm in diameter which I purchased immediately. Sorted!

As you can see, each fits neatly in one of the boxes on my mat.

TFL Painting Challenge: Big Update

Lots of people sending their entries in now as we come up to the final few weeks of this year’s challenge.

There’s still plenty of time to send your entries in, even if you haven’t submitted anything for ages.

Today’s Heroes of Painting are:

  • Sapper sends in some lovely 14th century Englishmen, some with bows, some without

  • Carole is back with the distaff Vikings

  • It’s tank destroyers in 20mm for the Hat

  • And more Soviets from Ralph, along with a trio of female footballers

  • It’s midnight at the oases for Mervyn (and, yes, I did have to look up how to spell the plural of oasis)

  • Steve Burt takes to the skies

  • More AWI from Travis

  • And finally, last but not least and better late than never, David Scott sends in his first entry of the year: some Roumanians

As always, clicking on the name of the person in the list above will take you straight to their gallery, which will open in a new window. A great set of entries this week, so come the rest of you: brushes and cameras at the ready please!

Here are today’s pics:

Camps for To The Strongest

In addition to the extra figures I need for To The Strongest, my current war game of choice, I also need some camps: about six i.e. three a side. They need to be big enough to take a guardian unit (so at least 120mm wide) and deep enough to carry a bit of “dressing”.

The components for these I picked up at Warfare on Sunday, still one of my favourite shows, and quickly painted up as follows:

I’m not sure where the bases came from, but the pyramids, huts and Sphinx all came from The Square, an excellent place to find all sorts of useful bits of resin. I always make my way there at the end of the day and spend whatever I have left in my pockets!

They paint up easily as well. The huts are undercoated in light brown, then very heavily dry-brushed white with the roofs dry-brushed in a variety of yellowy-brown colours. What makes the difference is that I have filled in the doorways and windows with a bit of woven hemp: giving a bit of depth and texture.

The Sphink and pyramids are simply painted sand yellow, washed with GW Agrax Earthshade, and then dry-brushed with GW Screaming Skull. Whole lot took me about half an hour.

First of the New Hoplites

To cut a long story short, I am increasing the size of my 15mm Vis Bellica armies in order to play To The Strongest using two VB elements per TTS element.

My Vis Bellica Hoplite Greek army is very powerful: four bases (elements) of Hoplites, four bases of Spartan Hoplites, and loads of light infantry in support.

Unfortunately, however, To The Strongest classifies Hoplite units as “deep”, meaning that I need to field four VB bases to represent one TTS unit…and as most Hoplite armies have a minimum of five Hoplite units, that means I need a minimum of another twelve VB bases of Hoplite infantry, which at 12 figures per base is another 144 figures to paint and base!

It’s also been some time since I’ve bought any ancients, so I thought I’d try a “new” manufacturer: Xyston Miniatures.

They have a wide selection of Hoplite figures, so I chose to get my first unit as Later Hoplites in Linen Cuirass:

These are lovely figures: crisp and largely flash free. The only pain is that the shields and spears come separately: which means sticking 48 shields onto 48 arms, and then remembering to buy a pack of wire spears, cutting them down to size (from a pike-sized 5cm to a Hoplite-spear sized 3.5cm), and then sticking them in place as well. Just adds another session to the process.

The Xyston figures are easy to paint. First undercoat in black, base coat the flesh and tunics, and then carefully paint the cuirass white using the black undercoat to get the detail. Then paint the shield strap in leather; and. the spear and back of the shield in a wood brown. Tip the spears in dull silver, and leave to dry. Then highlight the tunic, and brass the helmet. Front of the shields in white all over (for the moment), highlight the flesh, paint the crest. Done!

Why paint the shields white? To take the decals of course. I used the Little Big Man Studios transfers designed specifically for Xyston shields. They are easy to use, have a wide variety of designs and, as you will hopefully agree, look really good. Again another fiddly bit: after you put the transfers onto the (white) shields, you’ll need to paint the shield rim to get a nice finish. If you don’t get the transfer dead centre, then you’ll have to paint around the design by hand.

So all in all highly recommended. Only another two units to go!

Second Game of To The Strongest

Now that I’d built the Assyrians up to a decent level, it was time to get them onto the tabletop again. As the Beardless King was unavailable (school!), I persuaded long time wargaming buddy Neil to give the rules a try for game two of my To The Strongest journey.

The Forces Involved

I would play the New Kingdom Egyptians again. My troops consisted of three commands:

Pharoah

  • Two units of guard two-horse light chariots

  • Two units of regular two-horse light chariots

  • One unit of bowmen to guard the Camp

The Blue General

  • Two units of shieldwall spearmen

  • Two units of bowmen archers

  • One unit each of marines, axemen, spearmen and Nubian bowmen (this last guarding a Camp)

The Canaanite Ally General

  • Two units of raw spearmen

  • Four units of raw lights with javelins (one guarding a camp)

Pharoah and his army (well, most of it: there are more chariots out of shot to Pharoah’s right)

Neil would command the following Assyrian troops:

The King

  • Two units of regular four-horse heavy chariots

The Cavalry General

  • One unit of guard cavalry

  • Two units of regular cavalry

The Infantry General

  • One unit of veteran infantry

  • One unit of regular infantry

  • Two units of raw infantry

  • A camp

The General of Light Troops

  • One unit of Assyrian light bowmen

  • Two units of raw Javelinmen

  • A camp

The Game

As I had loads of light troops, King Neil (“Kneel before King Neil!”) deployed first. He placed his lights on his right, his infantry in the centre, the heavy chariots just to the left of centre, and his cavalry out on the left.

This allowed me to choose where to deploy my troops. I decided to follow the same tactics as last time: placing my infantry in the centre flanked by the Canaanites on the left and my chariots on my right. The plan was for the chariots to keep his cavalry busy with missile fire and evasion, hold and perhaps chew up some of his infantry units in the centre, whilst the Canaanites used their superior numbers to overwhelm his light troops and then took all his camps.

Unfortunately, things did not go entirely to plan!

On my right, the chariots steamed forward and began pelting the Assyrian cavalry with arrows, evading them when they charged in reply. So far so good, but my chariots rapidly began to run out of room, as the Assyrians followed up every charge with another one.

This became a particular problem when King Neil threw in his heavy chariots as well: one unit of which drove some chariots right back towards one of my camps, much to the amusement of the Egyptian archers therein: everybody likes to see the nobles get nobbled!

Meanwhile, in the centre, my Egyptian infantry had advanced into bow range and then into contact. Unfortunately, they failed to make much headway, and the centre soon developed into a stalemate, with each side able to disorder the other, but not quite manage to break and force any to rout.

Particularly annoying were my axemen (veteran troops with two-handed cutting weapons). I had high hopes for them, but their first advance saw their attack repelled, and the enemy counter-attack disorder them. Methinks the royal crocodiles won’t be going hungry tonight!

The axemen are out of shot, but are about to hit the Assyrian blue unit top right.

So it was all up to the Canaanites.

They were raw troops, but there were a lot of them: in fact they outnumbered the troops in front of them two-to-one.

Unfortunately (I seem to be using that word a lot in this report!) their numbers actually told against them. I tried to cram them into the space in between the left flank of the Egyptian infantry and a patch of rough ground, and got completely jammed up. It took several turns to get everything sorted, and to drive back the infantry in front of me, opening up a way through to the Assyrian camps.

Canaanites (anachronistically dressed as Spartan Hoplites to scare the opposition) finally force the gap, although the High King’s chariot has to mount the curb to get by

All well and good, but all this delay had allowed the Assyrians to disperse my chariots and get their heavy chariots back into the fray. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so have a look at the below…

Yes: that is a unit of Assyrian four-horse heavy chariots crashing into the flank of my main battle line!

Suffice to say that a general rolling up of my line occurred, and I began haemorrhaging victory coins right, left and centre. To add insult to injury, the other unit of heavy chariots looted one of my camps, and that, as they say, was that!

Aftermath

Another great game of TTS. The activation system is quite fun, but brutal if the cards start to go against you.

The battle was won in a satisfyingly traditional way: Neil’s mounted troops drove off my mounted troops, and then returned to hit the flank of my main battle line as they attempted to push forward over his.

It could all have already been over if the Canaanites had got their skates on, but I mishandled them badly and they didn’t!

The Egyptians are now officially sacked, and I’m now busy painting Hoplites to bring my early Greeks up to scratch for TTS!

Robert Avery

Building up the Assyrians Part 2

As mentioned before, converting my Vis Bellica Ancients armies for To The Strongest means making them bigger, especially where chariots and deep units are concerned.

My Assyrians were already a large VB army, so didn’t need a huge amount of augmenting to bring them up to TTS strength. I’ve already posted about the chariots, now here is the extra cavalry I need: a VB unit of Guard cavalry and a unit of Regular cavalry, allowing me (with what I have already) to field three TTS cavalry units, one Guard and two Regular.

That’s the Assyrians finished, now on to either the Egyptians (need more chariots!) or the Hoplite Greeks (need more Hoplites for those TTS deep units).

IABSM AAR: Stopping the Gap

Another excellent battle report from Carojon of the Devon Wargames Group.

This game was a small fictitious battle from a free scenario designed by Richard Clarke using IABSM. The scenario recreates what must have been one of many similar struggles going on in the closing days of the Normandy campaign in late summer of 1944 as the allies fought hard to close what became known to history as the 'Falaise Pocket'.

Click on the picture below to see all:

Building up the Assyrians

As mentioned in a previous post, using my 15mm Ancients armies originally designed for Vis Bellica for To The Strongest has proved easy: two VB bases (or four for deep units) neatly equals one TTS unit, and allows for disorder to be easily shown.

The only problem is that that means that each of my existing armies is now half the size that it was before (or a quarter for those with deep units e.g. hoplites, pikes and some warbands). Fortunately, I always went big for my VB armies, but there is definitely a need for some topping up to take place. This is a good thing, as I haven’t painted any Ancients for ages, and a change is as good as a rest, as they say!

Here, then, is the first of the topping up: two heavy chariots (i.e. one unit) and three foot figures to represent heroes. All Essex, apart from a couple of the chariot crews, which are Museum.