Friday 30 January 2009

The fighting Franks. Painting finished. Roll Call!

My Frankish fighting units for the Crusades are finished. I still have three units of baggage to do - but these are last on my to do list. So the 'fighting' army is made up of 97 mounted and 298 foot figures - here they are.

Six command stands (18 mounted and 3 foot figures) including the King of Jerusalem, the True Cross, Hospitaller command and three other command stands.

The Cavalry. My knights usually deploy as small two stand units; as such there are six including one of Hospitallers (54 mounted figures). They are deployed below as two full and two small units. There are also two units of Turcopoles (24 mounted figures)

The Infantry. The bulk of the fighting men is made up of five units of foot sergeants (150 foot figures). Two are 'mixed' spear and simple bow units; three are 'mixed' spear and crossbow units.

There are two units of sailors (41 foot figures). One represents 'Italians' with crossbows; the other Norse and English with plenty of two handed axes! Both of these units can represent foot sergeants in loose order for 'special missions'.

Finally we come to the dross (104 foot and 1 mounted figures). Two units of levy - one with missile weapons (simple bows and slings) and one with spears. Both of these units can be broken up and mixed with the three units of pilgrims. When I do my baggage elements I now intend to base them on 60mm x 120mm bases. As I only allow my pilgrims to form up in mass or march column this will allow me to mix them in with the pilgrim stands and double my pilgrim units for the first Crusade or whenever the need arises.

I now only have five fighting units to do to complete my Saracen army and Armenian contingent. Then five units of baggage. Deadline 4th April 09 - Triples Sheffield. See you there.

Thursday 22 January 2009

World War II comes to town

Last night the Ilkley Lads started to sort out their game for Vapnartak 09 in York on Sunday 2nd February.

The game will be loosely based on the Mancheti scenario in Benghazi Handicap; but it will be shifted to East Africa and called Femmecheti. Next week I'll outline the scenario with deployment map and force composition for Piquet's Field of Battle WWII rules. Until then, here are some shot of Mark D's 28mm figures and armour. I'm unsure of manufacturer for any of these troops; but most of the lorries are various die cast baker's vans ('collectors' toys) painted up for the desert - they are Mark's favourites; because he only paid about £1 each for them.

Saturday 17 January 2009

Perry Armenian Spearmen Conversions

It is not often these days that I feel the need to get my hacksaw out, especially when dealing with the figures produced by companies such as Perry Miniatures. But when I looked at their Armenians I had the sneaking suspicion they had been added to the range as something of an afterthought. Granted, each figure in each pack of six is equipped or dressed slightly differently, but they are all in the same pose - spear held overarm and somewhat 'level'; the nearest figure on each stand in the following two shot shows this pose.

So out came the hacksaw and several arms were removed at the shoulder, repositioned and super glued into a new position, gently filed, the wound dressed with Araldite, drilled and pinned with Araldite coated wire, and any remaining holes and gaps finished off with Milliput. Some figures only needed the arm bent to a new position, several were also drilled for a second spear to be held in the 'shield hand', and out came the bag of weapons (swords) for an even greater mix. The results can be seen below.

I think the results give a much more 'active' looking unit - something a bit different. All in all I converted half of the 40 figures in an afternoon - and breathed a sigh of relief when they were completed. You never quite know what you'll get when the hacksaw comes out!

Friday 16 January 2009

Battle of the River. Battle Report - part 2

(The above photos are just eye candy and bear no relation to the battle: My pilgrims and Hospitallers and my Arab / Kurdish heavy cavalry - amongst 20 virgin units on the table for The Battle of the River)

The Battle of the River was fought to a conclusion on Wednesday night. Tim was unable to make it so command of the Muslim forces fell to Peter. The battle developed into three distinct and separate fights; so I will deal with each in turn.

The Christian Right
Here, the Christians, in some disarray after the loss of one of their divisional commanders held a line protecting the right flank of the army. Their infantry kept the horse archers at bay whilst falling back at right angles to the main push of the central divisions. The Muslim horse archers, who had dwindled in numbers, were unable to bring any pressure to bear and the action petered out until the Hospitallers charged what remained of the enemy Ghulams; pushing them back onto the river, where they eventually lost heart and departed the field - but they maintained a discipline that honoured their elite status within the army.

The Christian Left
After a sluggish advance the Muslim infantry launched their attack on the hill defended by the Armenian and Maronites. The knights, fearing their infantry would not hold, charged out to do battle and fought a gallant fight against the Turkish Ghazis. These fanatics pushed the knights back from the hill and onto the plain, before, having regained a semblance of order in terrain more to their liking repelled the attack. Their allied infantry did not fare so well, the best of them were pushed back into the village in disorder - the others ran for their lives in the face of the Turkish horde, which for the first time, employed naptha throwers to dislodge the defenders from their wall. But now their advance was halted by fresh westerners, including pilgrims. The result of this battle was to remain unknown - a decision in the centre was about to be achieved.

The Christian Centre
The Christian centre was looking in a precarious position when we left it last week, and in the first part of the evening this position gradually got worse. First the Ghulams shot and charged themselves into a one sided fight with the English sailors, forcing them to withdraw. Now only an Italian contingent stood in their way - but these gallant fellows managed a miraculous stand at the river bank, halting the breakthrough attempt. But the fight was not over. In vain, both sides tried to force a river crossing but each was repulsed. The Christians were about to crack - but the Muslims will was broken first - the Christian infantry had devastated the serried ranks of their enemy with arrow and quarrel volleys.

The game was up! The Muslims, having brought the Christians down to 8 morale points, were now at zero and handing them over to the Christians faster than they could be taken away. Two Army Morale cards back to back did for them. Their left fell back in disorder and their central divisions broke en-masse. Their right was still fighting on, but their position was now hopeless; relieved, the Christians allowed them to withdraw without pursuit.They had won with 15 morale points remaining.

Yet again the rules worked extremely well. A battle involving 50 units and involving two novice (one virgin) players had been fought to decision in five hours. The game was very tight in the centre. Had the Muslims managed to punch a hole through the Christian line here, they had so much cavalry massed up ready to exploit it that, with the localised victory on their right in their grasp, the tide would certainly have turned.
Next week - The pre-run of the Ilkley Lads WWII game for Vapnartak in York; with visiting figures and armour from Mark D.

Friday 9 January 2009

The Battle of the River. Battle report 1st night.

Due to a flu bug that is going round at the moment the first game of 09 involved only two Ilkley Lads (Mark and Tim) plus myself. Both Mark and Tim are Ager Sanguinis (and Crusades in general for that matter) novices so I undertook the role of umpire / advisor. Even so, the Lads managed three full turns and initial 'command' die set ups in two and a half hours - not bad going considering that there were 50 or so units on the table.

Mark, in command of the Christians chose to open the battle with a all out advance across the central plain whilst maintaining his position on the hill and village (his left). It was not long before his troops, led by the Hospitaller's contingent, were coming to grips with the Muslims who contented themselves with launching barrage after barrage of arrows into their ranks and evading close contact- but to little effect. The Turcomans (Muslim far left), unruly as usual, chose to charge the Christian Turcopoles instead of shooting and a running melee ensued between them for the duration of the evenening with the Turcopoles coming out slightly ahead.

Then, with the Muslims running out of room to manoeuvre, came the clash of heavy cavalry. The Muslims came off worst, the commanders bodyguard Ghulams (left centre) was routed and their leader fled the field only to return after the initial clashes were over (on the last card of the Muslim deck and end of first nights play) But the Christians were not lucky either, in winning the fight they lost one of their leaders and this threw his division into some confusion.
In the centre, the King ordered his 'sailors' across the river, but as they paddled across the Muslims concentrated their cavalry to meet them. This move led to the Christian division on the sailors left to become a little seperated. A chance for the Muslims to punch a whole in the Christian centre was presenting itself.

Meanwhile, on the Christian far left, the Christian's Armenian and Maronite troops watched as thousands of Muslim foot soldiers issued from the hill on the far bank of the river and massed for an imment assault.

So ended the first nights play. The following shots are of the battlefield at that point - the game continues next week.