Sunday, October 7, 2018

River Stour (54 BC)

This is the second scenario that we have played with the Romans vs the Ancient British. We will use our simple campaign rules to link these scenarios. It was planned to use the three scenarios in Expansion 2 but it is beginning to look like we will add a fourth. We are "cheating" by combining both of Caesar's campaign in Britain in order to do so.

Previously we have been playing Commands & Colors Ancients with Baccus 6mm models. However we didn't have enough Ancient British models so we played these scenarios with paper cut-out flats by Peter Dennis and Helion Publishing.

Historical Background

In 54 BC, Julius Caesar launched a second invasion of Britain which was better planned and far more formidable than the first one. The invasion force consisted of five legions, auxiliaries, and 2000 cavalry, transported on 800 vessels. The Britons, awed by the size of the fleet, retired inland. This time the landing (near Sandwich) was unopposed. As Caesar moved inland, he encountered a delaying force of Briton charioteers and cavalry in front of the River Stour. The Romans found it difficult to come to grips with the elusive Britons at first, but in time they drove them back. The Roman cavalry played a key role in bringing the British chariots to battle. Post Battle: After retreating across the Stour, the tribal forces joined the rest of the Britons at an oppidum near Bigbury. Caesar promptly crossed the Stour, stormed, and captured, this fortified position.

The Setup

The British lined up with their chariots in the centre and cavalry on each wing; they had brought no infantry. The Romans lined up with their Legions in the centre and their Auxilia, light infantry and cavalry on each wing.

The British Left Flank




The British Right Flank




The Roman Left Flank
The Roman Right Flank




The Action

The British examined the Roman line advancing towards them, there didn't really appear to be any weak spots except perhaps the flanks.


So the British decided to charge with the chariots on their right flank at the Roman left. Perhaps those Roman light troops could be routed before the supporting legionary cohorts could intervene.


The Roman light infantry and half of the Auxilia were lost, but the British chariots lost heavily thanks to the intervention of the Roman general.


The Romans rallied their Auxillia and then counterattacked but the nimble British chariots evaded the slow infantry without loss.


Seeing no other option than the flanks, the British decided to attack with their remaining strong chariot unit supported by the right wing's cavalry. While at the same time attempting to withdraw their under-strength chariots to safety.


The chariots charged into the Auxillia; the Auxillia took losses but destroyed the chariots. The British cavalry then charged in and wiped out the Auxillia and then continued their charge into the Roman cavalry who also took casualties. However the British cavalry were now seriously reduced in numbers.


The Roman legionary cohort advanced on the British cavalry which immediately charged the Romans causing casualties before themselves being wiped out. Upon being charged by the Roman light cavalry, the British light horse evaded with few losses.


The British withdrew the remains of their right wing into safety, hoping still to be able to protect their army's flank.


The Romans then advanced their battle line, slowly towards the awaiting British.


The British light horse skirmished with the flank of the advancing Romans, but without great success.


Deciding that the battle on their right flank was now hopeless, the British attacked with their left flank against the Roman right.


While the British light horse skirmished with the Roman light infantry in the woods, the British cavalry and chariots attacked the Roman Auxillia cohort. Half the cohort was destroyed, but not without losses to the British.


For the second time in the battle, a Roman general rallied an Auxillia cohort and sent it back into the fray.


The Auxillia took losses but forced the British chariots and cavalry to retreat. The skirmish in the woods continued with both sides taking casualties.


The Romans advanced their main battle line again, throwing their pila at the remaining British chariots causing casualties and some of the British to retreat into the River Stour which luckily was fordable at this time of the year.


Seeing his chariots being destroyed around him, the British general decided on a desperate last attempt to swing the battle in his favour. He charged into the Roman centre with most of his remaining chariots and light horse.


He nearly got away with it. The Romans lost heavily, but not enough for their army to break.


The British were now exhausted and seriously depleted; they withdrew from the field. On foot, the Romans could not pursue. Caesar claimed a victory because he held the field of battle and because he had caused slightly more casualties on the enemy than his troops had lost.

Realizing that their makeshift army was no match for the Romans, the British had only left behind the charioteers to harass the Romans. This was never intended as major battle, merely to slow the Roman advance while the British moved the inhabitants from the invaders path along with the cattle. This prevented Britons being captured and used as slaves and denied the Romans food in the form of British livestock. It worked!

Julius Caesar was worried, he was in trouble, his army was running out of rations and the retreating British had left no food behind. What was he to do; the campaign would need to pause while the food problem was resolved.

Result

Roman marginal victory (Rome: 6 victory banners - British: 5 victory banners)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Battle for Malta - Scenario 7 - Sink Rommel's supplies

This is the seventh scenario in a Battle for Malta campaign, it turned out to be one of the quickest games we ever played. The campaign follows the exploits of the Country of Dampshire 369 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force fighting against the Regia Aeronautica squadriglia d'aquila - two fictitious squadrons. We use the Wings of Glory WW2 rules, slightly modified to give faster play. We use the Wings of Glory planes where the right model is available, other manufactures are used to fill in the gaps.

We use our own set of campaign rules "Wings Over Malta". These contain 6 basic missions which will be played with alternate sides as the attacker. They will be played first with "early war" planes and then repeated with "late war planes". This differs from our previous Battle of Britain campaign which was a ladder campaign that followed more exactly the historical battle.

The Background

Malta was situated on the increasingly important sea supply route for the North African campaign. It would be a major help to the Allied war effort if the supplies from Italy to the Axis troops in North Africa could be reduced. Rommel was desperate for more supplies, especially fuel for his panzers. Malta was like an unsinkable aircraft carrier that could be used as the base for many Allied strikes against Italian shipping.


The Action

An Italian supply convoy had been spotted trying to sneak past Malta and 369 squadron was contacted. Flying Officer Cholmondeley Featherstonehaugh and Pilot Officers Sir Price and Emmett Hollingberry were sitting in deck chairs outside the dispersal hut when the telephone call came.

"Those sneaky Italians are trying to sneak past Malta without letting us torpedo them!" said Featherstonehaugh, sound somewhat enraged, "That's just not cricket you know!".

Hollingberry had made a bad landing with his fighter and it was still being repaired. Luckily for Hollingberry a Swordfish torpedo bomber and landed the day before with a wounded pilot. So Hollingberry decided to take up the Swordfish while Featherstonehaugh and Sir Price escorted him in their Gladiators.

They flew in formation towards the expected position of the convoy with Hollingberry's Swordfish in the middle and a Gladiator on each wing.


Two CR.42 fighters were spotted on an intercept course; one was the yellow-nosed plane used by the Italian ace Capitano Vitello Tonnato.

Cholmondeley shouted "Tally Ho" and immediately throttled back his Gladiator. Sir Price on the other hand pushed his Gladiator up to full speed - even though full speed isn't very fast in a Gladiator.

Hollingberry continued on a straight course towards the Italian shipping.


The two CR.42 fighters headed straight for the Swordfish. One opened fire at long range.

Sir Price flew his Gladiator so as to intercept, and exchanged fire with a CR.42. Cholmondeley was still protecting the wrong wing of the Swordfish.

Hollingberry continued on a straight course towards the Italian shipping.


The Italians swept past Sir Price, heading straight for the slow old Swodfish. Both Italians got a good shot at the Stringbag.

Cholmondeley finally decided to turn in towards the Falcons.

Hollingberry continued on a straight course towards the Italian shipping.


Cholmondeley turned and opened fire on a CR.42. Ignoring Cholmondeley, both Italians turned in behind the Swordfish and opened fire at close range.

Sir Price flew straight, he appeared to be having some trouble with his rudder and couldn't return to the fight.

Hollingberry continued on a straight course towards the Italian shipping.


Some good and lucky shooting from the Italians; Hollingberry in his Swordfish was done for. He'd flown straight and level the whole time, making his plane an easy target for the Falcons.


The Italians continued straight, still surprised by that fact that the Swordfish crashed so easily. Cholmondeley turned away and missed his chance at the Italians.

Sir Price flew straight, he appeared to still be having some trouble with his rudder and couldn't return to the fight.


Having saved their ships from the torpedo-armed Swordfish, the Italians turned for home. They saw no need to dogfight with the Gladiators, especially after having taken damage from the Swordfish's rear-gunner.


Sir Price and Cholmondeley gave chase and could just open fire at maximum range on the rearward CR.42.


The rearward CR.42 side-slipped and increased the distance from the pursuing Brits. There was now no way that he could be caught and the fight ended with both sides returning home before their fuel ran out.


Hollingberry and his disgruntled crew were picked up but a British submarine; the sub had run out of torpedoes and was shadowing the convoy and radioing its position.

Hollingberry's observer and rear-gunner both explained to him that had "the skipper" been flying the Swordfish he would have dodged and evaded the fighters, flying straight and level when there are enemy fighters around is never a good idea, and next time they will wait for "the skipper" to recover from his wound rather than fly with an RAF pilot that didn't know how to fly a Stringbag!

Result

Italian Victory

  • Capitano Vitello Tonnato: ½ Kill
  • Tenente Luigi Macaroni: ½ Kill

Notes

ARES has no Fairey Swordfish models so we used metal kits from the Skytrex Action 200 1:200 Scale WW2 range. When I added a peg to the underside of the plane to fit into a Wings of Glory stand, there was no room to add the torpedo which came with the kit; luckily I could use these spare torpedoes as dropped torpedo markers.

The ships were 1:1200 Hallmark models sold by Magister Militum.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Caesar's Invasion of Britain (55 BC)

Previously we have been playing Commands & Colors Ancients with Baccus 6mm models. However we didn't have enough Ancient British models so we played this scenario with paper cut-out flats by Peter Dennis and Helion Publishing.

This is planned to be the first scenario of three games played in Caesar's campaign in Britain. We will be testing our house rules and our campaign ideas.

Historical Background

With most of Gaul under his control, Julius 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 only two legions. The intended landing sight, above the cliffs of Dover, was lined with warriors, which forced Caesar to sail further north. The British cavalry and chariots kept pace with the fleet, however, and when the ships landed between Walmer and Deal, the Britons were waiting. The heavily laden Roman troops could only land by jumping into the sea and wading ashore. Wild melees ensued all along the beach and only after a number of cohorts gained dry land, following the lead of the Tenth Legion, did they form up and charge. This attack finally drove the Britons from the beach. Without cavalry, because his cavalry transports never arrived, Caesar was not able to turn the retreat into a rout. News spread of the Roman victory and tribal chiefs appeared before Caesar to offer submission. Unfortunately, a violent storm shattered the unprotected Roman fleet, and Caesar was forced to return to Gaul before he could exploit the fruits of this first invasion.

The Setup

The Roman left flank

The Roman right flank


The Romans have just landed and are struggling ashore. They are led by the elite 10th Legion and Julius Caesar is in command.

The prima cohors of Legio X Equestris leading the invasion forces.

The British have been watching the landing and now attack. They move first in this scenario.

The Action

The British decided it was best to attack before the Roman's while they had nowhere to retreat to. The alternative of withdrawing to the hills and forming a defensive line did not seem attractive. So their leader ordered all units within range to charge the leading Roman unit: the prima cohors of Legio X Equestris.


The prima cohors of Legio X Equestris was wiped out, but the British took heavy casualties and all their remaining units retreated except for the light cavalry. It was a young British rider that stabbed the aquilifer carrying the legion's standard and then rode back to the safety waving the eagle above his head.


Caesar was intent on revenging the 10th and charged forward with the supporting legionaries from the Legio VII.


Caesar's other units moved up from the shore onto firm land.


Caesar wiped out the offending infantry and killed its leader. Realizing he was too far in advanced of the rest of his army, Caesar refrained from following up his victory. While this was happening, the legionaries in the rear attacked the audacious British cavalry, a small portion of which managed to flee.


The chariots and light cavalry protecting the British left wing now charged the Roman light infantry which was still struggling to get onto dry land.


The tenacious Roman light infantry lost half their strength but successfully protected the army's right flank, causing the British chariots to retreat and inflicting losses on the supporting light cavalry.


In the centre, Caesar advanced with two units of legionaries, planning to mop up the lone British infantry.


On the Roman right flank, the legionaries advanced to protect the retiring light infantry.


Caesar wiped out the opposing infantry. The British cavalry on the flank evaded the legionaries and retreated back onto the supporting chariots but lost half its strength in doing so.


The British leader brought forward his chariots on his right wing and the Roman left wing advanced to meet them.


However the British chariots swept past the first legionaries in order to attacked a legionary unit still struggling to reach dry land.


The attacking chariots caused some losses to the legionaries but took many more casualties themselves.


The British formed a new defensive line on the ridge, and Caesar then advanced to attack.


Caesar first attacked the British in the valley and having destroyed them, proceeded to attack the troops on the ridge. These he decimated; only a few survivors managed to retreat off the ridge. The supporting legionaries then attacked the other end of the ridge, wiping out half the British there.


The battle was now won and the remaining British troops retreated from the coast and took up positions behind the River Stour.

The Aftermath

Caesar was so pleased with his leading legionary unit, that he awarded them a laurel wreath to carry on their standard. They will now count as heroic for the next battle in the campaign.

Julius Caesar awarding a laurel wreath to the aquilifer to be carried on the eagle of the prima cohors of Legio VII.

Although the British had lost heavily and retreated from the field of battle, there was great celebration that night when the young British cavalryman presented the captured eagle standard to the tribal leaders and their druid. The light cavalry that captured the eagle will now count as heroic for the next battle in the campaign.


Result

Roman major victory (Rome: 7 victory banners - British: 3 victory banners)