Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Roman Invasion of Britain - Scenario 1

Invasion of Britain (55 BC) 

This is the first scenario in our campaign representing the Roman Invasion of Britain based on my own campaign rules.

The scenario was played using the Commands & Colors Ancients rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra and using paper figures from Peter Dennis instead of blocks.

With most of Gaul under his control, Caesar saw a need to pacify the nearby British coast, lest this island serve as a sanctuary and base for anti-Roman Gauls. Caesar sailed to Britain late in the campaign season with two legions (Legio VII and Legio X) in a fleet of eighty transport ships. 

The intended landing sight, above the cliffs of Dover, was lined with Britons, which forced Caesar to sail further north-east following the coast to an open beach. 

Having been followed all the way by the Britons, the landing was opposed. To make matters worse, the loaded Roman ships were too low in the water to go close inshore and the heavily laden Roman troops had to disembark in deep water and wading ashore, all the while attacked by the enemy from the shallows. 

The troops were reluctant, but  were led by the aquilifer of the Legio X who jumped in first as an example, shouting: "Leap, fellow soldiers, unless you wish to betray your eagle to the enemy. I, for my part, will perform my duty to the republic and to my general."

The Scenario Set-up

Note: This is scenario 217 from Commands & Colors Ancients - Expansion 2. Statistics show that the Romans have a 73% chance of winning this scenario, therefore the number of Roman command cards is reduced from their "normal" 6 to 5, this due to difficult nature of an opposed amphibious operation.

The battle started with the 10th Legion ashore, leading the charge.

View from the Roman side of the battle.

The view from the British ranks was worrying, the Romans were ashore with 5 units of legionaries and even more troops were jumping out of their ships into the water.

View from the British side of the battle.

Tinpotarus, the British chieftain, decided to attack the Romans before they could get any more troops ashore. He ordered his line to advance and the infantry moved forward leaving the cavalry and chariots behind.

With a band of seasoned warriors in the middle, flanked on both sides by younger less experienced troops, he charged straight at the 10th Legion.

The British started the combat by throwing javelins and followed this up with a charge from their younger troops which caused some casualties among the Romans but caused more casualties among the Britons, forcing them to break off and retreat. This was followed up by a charge of the seasoned warriors which wiped out the Roman unit. The Britons charged forward in an attempt to capture the Roman eagle but without success.

Continuing the charge, the warriors attacked the second line of legionaries, this time under the command of Julius Caesar himself, causing serious casualties with no loss to themselves.

Julius Caesar ordered the two legionary units in the centre to attack the British warriors. The powerful Roman legions wiped out the lone British warrior unit causing their leader, Tinpotarus, to retreat back to his other troops in the rear. The Romans had a chance to capture the British boar standard, but Caesar ordered his troops to hold their ground and not to advance after the retreating Britons.

Seeing that the sacrifice of his warriors had weakened the Roman centre, the British chieftain ordered a mounted charge.

The chariots and cavalry from the left flank, supported by the cavalry from the right flank charged into Caesar's legionaries. 

On the left flank, the chariots supported by some light cavalry charged at the light infantry unit on Caesar's flank, hoping to push them back into the sea.

The charge wiped out both units of Roman legionaries and Julius Caesar had to take refuge in a unit of Auxilia to his rear in order to evade capture by the British charioteers. One unit of British cavalry fled far to their rear.

Julius Caesar now ordered a coordinated attack. On his right flank, the light infantry moved forward to skirmish with the British light cavalry. In the centre, the legionaries advanced and attacked the chariots. On the left flank, the legionaries attacked the light cavalry.

The chariots retreated without loss, the light horse evaded (four hexes instead of two!) loosing half their remaining strength.

The British chieftain then sent orders to his light troops. The light chariots on his right flank tried yet again to push the Roman light infantry back into the sea but without effect. Those light troops in range, threw their javelins at the Romans and other light troops moved forward in an attempt to build a defensive line. 

Julius Caesar now inspired his troops and three units of legionaries and one of Auxilia followed, advancing onto firm land and causing the British cavalry to evade.

Unsure how to handle these advancing Romans, the British commander sent orders to his troops to darken the skies with their javelins and kill the advancing Romans. Fortunately for the Romans, this did not have the expected success.

The Roman leaders then ordered their infantry to double-time and hit the British defensive line.

Gnaeus Hostilius, the Roman legate on their right flank, knowing he was attacking under the watchful eye of Julius Caesar himself, hit the British hard, destroying first one infantry unit and then a second.

As the second British unit was destroyed, their chieftain, Tinpotarus, fled over the hill leaving behind the Boar Standard to be captured by the exuberant Romans. The Boar standard was presented there and then on the battlefield to the legate, Gnaeus Hostilius, by the unit's Primus pilus

Note: Capturing a Boar Standard or Roman Eagle is an addition in our campaign rules. The unit capturing a Boar Standard will, unless at full strength, immediately rally one block. For the rest of the scenario the capturing unit may make a bonus close combat attack after a momentum advance even if not normally permitted to do so.

Somewhat shocked by the Roman attack, the British chieftain ordered three units from his centre to attack an understrength unit of legionaries on the Roman right. This unit had earlier taken casualties from javelins being thrown.

The legionaries killed and their commander retreated to the safety of another Roman unit to their rear. The British decided to hold their line rather than follow up.

The Roman commander decided to counterattack. He sent one unit of legionaries to attack the British chariots in the flank and another two units, one legionary and one Auxilia to attack frontally.

The chariots evaded the attack but lost half their number when doing so. The frontal attack caused many casualties to the British infantry but also to the attacking Romans. The British cavalry were unscathed.

The British chieftain decided to try a coordinated attack and moved to join the cavalry which he ordered to attack the understrength Roman legionaries to their front.

Having overrun the understrength legionaries, the cavalry bypassed the full strength legionaries and attacked the Roman light infantry which had been skirmishing with the British chariots. They were successfully pushed back into the sea.

Ignoring the battle on his left flank, Caesar ordered his four units in the to advance. These were ignored by the British commander who instead ordered one unit of infantry to double-time towards the battle on his right, where they attacked the under-strength Roman Auxilia.

The Auxilia lost half their strength and retreated towards the beach.

Caesar then ordered his light troops to move towards the enemy unless in range, open fire and then for the Auxilia to move away. The fire had little effect.

Tinpotarus, then ordered his medium units and the cavalry charged the fleeing Auxilia wiping them out and thus winning the scenario.

The British cavalry rejoiced their victory! 

Julius Caesar's first expedition to Britain in 55 BC was un-historically pushed back into the sea by the British chieftain Tinpotarus. But Caesar will return in 54 BC and the Roman Invasion of Britain will continue!

Having left Britain, and now on the "friendly" shores of Gaul, Julius Caesar honoured the bravery of legate Gnaeus Hostilius by now naming him Gnaeus Hostilius Aper; who paraded the captured Boar Standard in front of the legions.

Gnaeus Hostilius Aper was heard to utter the now immortal phrase,
"I came, I saw, I got a very nice souvenir" - by MW

Scenario Result 

British Victory: Britons 7 - Romans 5

Romans 5 victory banners and 2 glory points

Britons 7 victory banners and 2 glory points

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  Romans       0     5
  Britons       1     7

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

RFC scout vs Hun two-seater

This is an attempt to use Wings of Glory on a hex mat. We use hexes in order to simplify play over the Internet while staying isolated at home. Each aircraft has a number of different manoeuvres it can perform, but instead of being represented by arrows they are represented by hexes traversed.

This scenario was designed to test the effectiveness of a Sopwith Snipe single-seater scout against an LFG Roland C.II twin-seater. The Snipe has two machine guns firing fixed forward compared to the Roland with one machine gun fixed-forward and a second machine gun on a ring mounting in rear cockpit with an almost all-round field of fire.

Lieutenant William Algernon "Billy the Bishop" Tempest was patrolling behind the allied lines when he spotted a Hun LFG Roland C.II Walfisch reconnaissance aircraft flying towards him. The Roland was flown by Leutnant Florian Meier with Leutnant Jörg Fritzl-Falconi as his observer, having orders to photograph a railway marshalling yard.

Billy the Bishop side slipped his Sopwith Snipe to his left, in order to get the Roland C,II on his right hand side, forgetting that he was no longer flying his trusty Sopwith Camel.

The adversaries continued to close in on each other.

Both aircraft turned to starboard to meet each other face-on. 

The twin Vickers machine guns in Billy the Bishop's Sopwith Snipe shot large holes in the Roland. Florian Meier in the Roland C.II left enough room so that his observer, Jörg Fritzl-Falconi, could shoot his rear machine gun over the starboard wing, Fritzl-Falconi's single Spandau machine gun did some damage to the Snipe, while Meier's Parabellum machine gun did almost no damage before jamming. 

Meier immediately hit the gun with a hammer that he had placed strategically in the cockpit, and it immediately unjammed, probably because his mechanic had carefully checked all the bullets prior to loading for this mission. 

Note: The was a special single-use "skill" obtained in a previous scenario.

Presuming that the Hun would head for the railway marshalling yard, Billy the Bishop turned his Snipe towards the presumed target.

But Meier in the Roland had decided it was no longer a good idea to photograph his target, until he had first removed the troublesome Snipe. Taking photographs while being tailed by a Snipe was not a desired state to be in.

So Meier didn't turn for the railway marshalling yard, instead he turned behind the Snipe, giving Fritzl-Falconi's single Spandau machine gun a good shot at the Snipe. Flames started shooting from the Snipe's engine cowling.

Note: As a house rule, we only allow Aimed Fire for fixed machine guns, not for observers.

The aircraft we performing an areal ballet, with the Snipe side slipping to starboard and the Roland side slipping to port. 

The flames shooting from the Snipe's engine cowling seemed to be having no effect on the aircraft.

Fritzl-Falconi's single Spandau machine gun got a good shot at the Snipe. However Billy the Bishop was lucky and despite all the bullets hitting his Snipe, little real damage was done.

Note: Billy used his "Luck of the Devil" skill and chose to replace one damage card with a zero.

The Snipe turned to port, hoping to get a shot at the Roland, but the slower moving Roland stayed behind the Snipe.

The flames shooting from the Snipe's engine now started to slowly eat through the fuselage.

The Roland's observer/gunner, Fritzl-Falconi, continued to fire with his Spandau machine gun. 

The slower moving Roland, had no problem staying out of the Snipe's field of fire.

The flames shooting from the Snipe's engine now started to slowly eat through the fuselage.

The Roland's observer/gunner, Fritzl-Falconi, continued to fire with his Spandau machine gun. 

This was too much for the Snipe to take, and it plummeted flaming earthwards!

Leutnant Florian Meier lined up the Roland C.II with the railway marshalling yard while Leutnant Jörg Fritzl-Falconi readied his camera to take a photograph.

Having taken a photograph, Meier slowly circled the Roland while Fritzl-Falconi prepared the camera for a second photograph. They then flew over the railway marshalling yard for a second time to get another photograph.

Meier and Fritzl-Falconi returned to their aerodrome to a hero's welcome and celebrated with a few bottles of looted French champagne.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Dogfight 1918

This is an attempt to use Wings of Glory on a hex mat. We use hexes in order to simplify play over the Internet while staying isolated at home. Each aircraft has a number of different manoeuvres it can perform, but instead of being represented by arrows they are represented by hexes traversed.

Lieutenants William Algernon "Billy the Bishop" Tempest and Terence “the Rook” Turner were flying a dawn patrol over the front in their brand spanking new Sopwith Snipe scouts when they spotted two rather colourful Fokker D.VII scouts coming straight towards them.

The RFC pilots held formation and slipped to starboard with The Rook flying on The Bishop's port wingtip. The Huns tightened up their formation. The enemies closed the distance separating them.

The RFC pilots side slipped to port. The Huns turned gently to port.

The Blue Fokker opened fire at close range on Terence “the Rook” Turner. The Spandaus tore up the Snipe and flames started to pour out of its engine.

The Rook opened fire on the Red Fokker at close range, doing a little damage before his twin Vickers machine guns jammed.

The Red Fokker opened fire on William Algernon "Billy the Bishop" Tempest at long range but totally missed the Snipe, perhaps he was distracted by The Rook's bullets. 

The Bishop turned his Snipe towards the Huns who were now moving slowly towards him.

The Rook turned his Snipe to port, dodging the incoming Fokkers as the flames shooting out from his engine started to damage his airframe.

The Bishop opened fire on the Red Fokker and both Fokkers returned his fire. A bullet from the Red Fokker, fired a close range, hit Billy the Bishop half-an-inch below his heart. But luckily he had a pewter hip flask in his breast pocket and he we only slightly bruised rather than being seriously wounded. 

The Bishop stalled his Snipe as the Fokkers slowly closed the distance. He continued all the time to fire at the Red Fokker, tearing up large holes in its fuselage and wounding the pilot. 

The combined fire from both Fokkers was surprisingly inaccurate.

The Rook circled round behind the Fokkers, trying both to put out the flames coming from his engine and unjamming his machine guns at the same time.

Billy the Bishop and the Red Fokker flew past each other with inched to spare. The Blue Fokker stalled while The Rook flew in front of it, being too busy unjamming the machine guns to notice.

Having unjammed his machine guns in the nick of time, The Rook opened fire at the Red Fokker, but his Snipe took heavy damage from a combination of flames from its engine and machine gun fire from the Blue Fokker.

Both The Rook's Snipe and the Red Fokker were kills.

The dogfight continued with both pilots wanting to avenge their fallen comrades. The Blue Fokker got in a rather nasty close range shot at Billy the Bishop, but before it could do too much damage, both machine guns jammed.

Neither pilot was now particularly interested in continuing the fight. The Snipe was badly shot up and the Fokker was in pristine condition but with its Spandaus jammed. The Hun waved at Billy, who waved back with a strange two-fingered gesture, and both planed turned for home.

Lieutenant William Algernon "Billy the Bishop" Tempest returned safely to his aerodrome. Much to the amusement of his ground crew, when he hopped out of the Snipe's cockpit, everyone could see that his trousers were wet. The ground crew spread the rumour that the Billy had wet himself during the action. Actually it was cognac from his damaged hip flask that had leaked, Billy offered up his trousers asking everyone to smell the crotch, waving them under the nose of quite a few airmen, but nobody wanted to take him up on his offer! 

Lieutenant Terence “the Rook” Turner managed somehow quench the flames coming from his engine and glide the Snipe back towards his own trenches where he managed what was either a hard landing or a surprisingly gentle crash. Luckily he was stopped from plummeting into a trench by its protecting barbed-wire. Even he returned to the aerodrome, although somewhat the worse for wear. He was however greeted with less mirth than his comrade in arms.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Successful Spy Pick-up

This is an attempt to use Wings of Glory on a hex mat. We use hexes in order to simplify play over the Internet while staying isolated at home. Each aircraft has a number of different manoeuvres it can perform, but instead of being represented by arrows they are represented by hexes traversed.

Army HQ had tasked the squadron to pick up a spy with critical information from behind enemy lines. The spy was hiding out in a Belgium farm to escape the German troops that are out hunting.  Lieutenant William Algernon "Billy the Bishop" Tempest bravely volunteered to fly the pick-up in the Brisfit with his friend Lieutenant Terence “the Rook” Turner escorting in his Sopwith Camel.

However they were attacked by two Fokker D.VII scouts and the Brisfit was shot down, crash-landing in a meadow near the farm. In his shot-up Camel, Terence “the Rook” Turner saw the fate of his friend. Not wanting to face the two Fokkers, Terrence turned for home vowing to return to pick up both his friend and the spy. There is a report of this action.

On returning to his airfield, Terence “the Rook” Turner commandeered another Brisfit. Captain Jack "Casanova" Yates had just returned from another mission, and offered to escort the Brisfit.

As the two RFC planes approached the pick-up point, they spotted a lone Hun Fokker D.VII patrolling.

The sly Hun slipped his Fokker D.VII to the right, planning to get on the port side of the Sopwith Camel, knowing that the Camel turned poorly to port. Even Turner chose to slip the Brisfit to starboard, opening the distance to the Fokker.

The Camel turned slowly to its left, while the sly Hun reversed the direction of his slip, and opened fire at close range.

Distracted by the tempting target that the Brisfit made, the Fokker turned towards it. Without a crewman in the rear seat, the Brisfit couldn't return fire. However the Camel turned sharply right and got a close range shot at the Fokker.

Yates in the Camel turned onto the tail of the Fokker which was still concentrating on the Brisfit. The Camel got a lucky shot which damaged the Fokkers rudder. But the Fokker opened fire on the Brisfit, but both Spandau machine guns jammed.

With its rudder damaged, the Fokker turned sharp right in an attempt to avoid the Camel. The Brisfit turned in towards the farm where Billy the Bishop was hiding together with the spy.

The Camel turned behind the Fokker, opened fire, but his machine guns jammed immediately. The Fokker, now unjammed, performed an Immelmann turn and now opened fire on the jammed Camel, but the Fokker's machine guns jammed yet again!

The Camel got onto the tail of the Fokker, but Yates was still trying hard to unjam. The Brisfit was slowing down getting ready to land as it approached the meadow next to the farm.

Yates had finally unjammed his machine guns, and opened up from a close range tailing position on the Fokker. The Fokker opened fire on the Brisfit, determined to destroy it before it could land, but for a third time this mission the Fokker's machine guns jammed.

The Fokker could take no more, and crashed into a field.

Upon returning to their aerodrome, "Billy the Bishop" Tempest bought both Terence “the Rook” Turner and Jack "Casanova" Yates double whiskies in the Officers' Mess to celebrate being plucked from the jaws of the Huns. 

The Fokker pilot limped away from his wrecked aircraft. He hitched a lift back to the airfield on a horse-drawn supply wagon. Once back, he tore a strip off his mechanic, how was it possible that the Spandaus could jam three times in a single mission. The mechanic promised to check all the bullets thoroughly before future mission. Special Effect: the Hun pilot may ignore the next jam result he gets.