ROMANES EUNT DOMUS: A game of Basic Impetus

Stephen gets impetuous…

I downloaded Basic Impetus yonks ago, when it was available as a free download.

Unfortunately it’s no longer available as a freebie because the publishers subsequently brought out a separate edition because it proved so popular as a game in its own right and not just as a stepping stone on to the full Impetus rules. After my recent game I think I may buy the bells-and-whistles published version because Basic Impetus is a great game.

I went with Romans, invading the Germans. The battlefield was set up with a river going across the middle, some woods either side of the river on one flank and an area of rocky ground on the other. The Romans lined up with their auxiliaries facing the wood, the cavalry and legionaries in the middle, and the artillery and archers on the left. Similarly, the Germans also lined up with their warbands in the middle. On their left they put their cavalry and some of their skirmisher archers, and on their right they had the rest of their skirmishers. The Roman tactic was to use their archers and artillery to engage the Germans.

The risk was the Germans would take up position along the river, meaning it would cause disruption to the Romans as they crossed. So the Romans chose to use the archers and artillery to draw the Germans across the river rather than just sit there taking all the hits. The Germans put most of their skirmishers on their left flank, to make their way through the woods and outflank the Romans. Both sides initially held their cavalry back to act as a reserve unit to exploit gaps.

The Germans did indeed move up to the river and take position along it. This was an understandable and obvious tactic. The Roman auxiliaries moved up using the woods as cover, trying to shield themselves from the German skirmishers. This was fine, but as soon as they cleared the woods and moved up to the river they would be exposed, and the German archers opened fire. The Romans were trying a similar tactic on the other flank – their archers moved up and engaged the German archers that had taken up position in some rocks, and the artillery fired at long range in an attempt to disrupt the German battle line. Neither had any effect (something that would continue throughout the game).

The Germans did indeed move up to the river and take position along it. This was an understandable and obvious tactic. The Roman auxiliaries moved up using the woods as cover, trying to shield themselves from the German skirmishers. This was fine, but as soon as they cleared the woods and moved up to the river they would be exposed, and the German archers opened fire.

The Romans were trying a similar tactic on the other flank – their archers moved up and engaged the German archers that had taken up position in some rocks, and the artillery fired at long range in an attempt to disrupt the German battle line. Neither had any effect (something that would continue throughout the game). The Roman artillery and archers continued their firing but were having little effect. Fortunately, neither were the German archers.

The auxiliaries had made good progress against the Germans – having advanced across the river and pushed their opposition back. It had come at a price, though, and the auxiliaries had taken damage in securing this bridgehead. Now it was up to the legionaries. With initiative finally going the Roman way, the legions splashed across the river and charged against the Germans! A shoving match ensued, with the Germans counter-attacking. But the Romans were winning and steadily pushing the Germans back.

There now came the chance for the auxiliaries to show their worth once more. Although they had taken damage and were no longer fresh, all that stood in front of them were the German cavalry, commanded by their general. If the auxiliaires could eliminate the cavalry and general then victory would go to the Romans. Fortunately, the cavalry had also taken some damage, but it had rallied and was no longer disrupted. Nevertheless, the auxiliaries formed up and they charged against them.

This would prove to be the decisive melee. In went the auxiliaries and they managed to destroy the German cavalry and with it the German general. Final victory went to the Romans who, though many of their units had taken damage, had not lost a single unit.

Mounted Legionnaires

Andy takes his brushes south of the border again.

One of the last units to be painted for my Maximilian Adventure collection is a unit of mounted French Foreign Legion. Mine came from Wargames Foundry, most are actually cavalry and have carbines rather than rifles, which gave me a thought.

In “The Men Who Would Be Kings”, a mounted Regular Infantry unit needs 12 figures, whilst a Regular Cavalry unit needs only 8. As I only had three with rifles, I decided to give most of them white trousers so they could be used as either Cavalry or Mounted Infantry, with 4 of the 12 with the red trousers used bythe Foreign Legion.

After cleaning up the models by removing any vents and lines, and washing in soapy water, the horses were stuck to 50mm x 25mm pill bases from Warbases, then built up with 4Ground base render and undercoated matt black.

The horse’s coats were painted a variety of browns, or black, apart from one which I decided to try painting as a grey, so this one had a coat of white paint followed by Light Grey applied with a stippling brush.

Horse furniture was black, saddle and saddle bags Saddle Brown, horse blanket Black Grey dry brushed Basalt Grey and cape London Grey dry brushed Light Grey. Bases were painted AP Banshee Brown and patches of flock applied with PVA glue.

The riders were also undercoated matt black, face and hands were base coated Brown Sand and top coated Medium Flesh. Tunics and lower Kepi Dark Blue with AP Blue wash, trousers either white or Flat Red, the latter with an AP Red wash. The upper part of the kepi was also Flat Red. Some of the riders had sombreros, painted various shades of brown or grey; others white kepi covers. Carbines and rifles have Beige Brown woodwork, Gun Metal Grey metalwork and German Camouflage Beige straps. Belts and scabbard were black.

I originally based my mounted figures for this period on 50mm round bases. These proved to be a bit of a bugger to store in the KR Multicase boxes I use. I also started using some rules where it would be useful to have multiple figures on a base. I looked around and found that Warbases do both mdf bases and movement trays to take them. They will also make custom movement trays to your own specification (they kindly made some for me for some Vikings for Dux Bellorum). So, I decided to change my basing strategy. I’ve mounted these (and a few others) on 50mm x 25mm pill bases. Here’s the old and new styles:

I’ve also bought some compatible movement trays, 120mm x 60mm, with four slots:

So all I’ve got to do now is rebase around 25 older models once Warbases reopen and I can get some more bases. ☹.
I think I’ll be using the same bases for my Dark Ages mounted so I can use the same figures for SAGA, Lion Rampant and Dux Bellorum, but I’ll need to get some customised bases the same size but with only three slots.

Answers to the MWS Quiz 13th May 2020

Fregatten Jylland

Here are the answers to our quiz from 13th May 2020, with some trivia associated with the answers:

1.  Stalingrad – Vasily (Grigoryevich) Zaytsev

Prior to 10 November 1942, Zaytsev killed 32 Axis soldiers with a standard-issue rifle. Between 10 November 1942 and 17 December 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, he killed 225 enemy soldiers, including 11 snipers

2.  Any of T-65B or X-wing or Starfighter – TIE Advanced (x1)

3.  Alexander III or Alexander the Great – Darius (III)

4.  1956 – MiG 15, but Gloster Meteor and MiG 17 also acceptable

5.  Denmark – Heligoland or Helgoland

Steam frigates Niels Juel and Jylland and the corvette Hejmdal defeated Austrian steam frigates, SMS Schwarzenberg and Radetzky, Prussian Aviso Preussischer Adler, Gunboats Blitz, Basilisk – the victorious HDMS Jylland is preserved as a museum ship at Ebeltoft and is pictured above.

6.  Yorktown – Comte de Rochambeau

7.  (Gaius) Julius Caesar – Pharnaces II or Pontus

Caesar’s letter was to the Senate according to Appian; Caesar was on a roll as Dictator for the year and having his second term as a Consul at the time.

8.  Marston Moor – Prince Rupert of the Rhine

9.  Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty – HMS Caroline is the light cruiser (4th Light Cruiser Squadron in the action), HMS Indefatigable, HMS Queen Mary, HMS Invincible are the sunken Battlecruisers

Caroline fired two torpedoes at the close of the day action, which narrowly missed the Battleship Nassau.  She also narrowly avoided torpedoes fired by the German 6th and 9th Flotillas earlier in the action when 4th LCS counter-attacked them with gunfire.  She survived for many years as a drill ship before being renovated as a museum ship.

10.  1969 – Vought (or F4U) Corsair

11.  Charlton Heston – the Reconquista or Valencia

Rodrigo’s wife Jimena Díaz = Sophia Loren, almost certainly didn’t tie his corpse to a horse  to lead the army in battle when he died in 1099– a legend grew around this as she rode alongside his coffin on the journey to Burgos, where he was buried in the cathedral in 1102 – you can see what might well have been his sword, the Tizona, in the museum there.

12.  1974 – Henry William Paget, Earl or Lord Uxbridge, later 1st Marquess of Anglesey or Willem Frederik George Lodewijk, William, Prince of Orange – all variations are acceptable!

In a famous piece of understatement Uxbridge remarked “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” — to which Wellington is reputed to have replied; “By God, sir, so you have!”

OUTREMER: Upon Yon Crossroads

I decided to have another game of Outremer, having really enjoyed the first one.

The game was set during the Baron’s War of Simon de Montfort. Rebels loyal to de Montfort were scouting ahead, unaware that men loyal to King Henry were doing the same. Ahead was a road junction – the winner would be the side that could control the junction after 8 turns (this was scenario #3 from the book).

The rebels were led by Sir Maddox Melior. Amongst his retinue he had two skilled crossbowmen – Beric Morris and ‘Big’ Eddie. This duo would prove invaluable.

Sir Maddox, Tankard, Beric, and Eddie

In charge of the king’s men was Sir Guy de Ferris. With him were a trio of archers and a motley selection of men-at-arms.

Sir Guy with Louis and Guy Cartwright

Sir Maddox, being a bit of a loner, sent his crossbowmen rushing forward along the edge of a wheat field. The two took up position behind a hedge overlooking the junction. Sir Maddox sent his spearmen down a lane, with a French sellsword (Roul Allaire) and a young archer (Gamal) making their way through the wheat.

Meanwhile, Sir Guy had ordered his archers forward, to skirt around the edge of a pond. Sir Guy led two of his men through the woods whilst the others made for the lane that ran alongside a travellers inn and down to the junction.

It was the two archers, Rowan Windrush and Derek the Eel, who opened hostilities. Seeing Sir Maddox’s spearmen coming down the lane they let fly. But no one was hit. Beric and Eddie saw the two archers and so loaded up their crossbows and shot back. Down went Rowan! This left Derek with a dilemma – whether to shoot back at Beric and Eddie or try to stop the spearmen.

Rowan goes down and Derek draws his bow

Quite unexpectedly it was Tankard Jenkins, a Welsh spearman and bondsman of Sir Maddox, who clambered over a hedge and plonked himself defiantly in the middle of the junction – more of a fingers-up at Sir Guy and his men than anything else.

Tankard Jenkins stands defiant

Sir Guy and the rest of his men met up on the road beside the inn. They couldn’t let the rebels hold on to the junction, but Beric and Eddie were in a strong position, and both were skilled with their crossbows. If they tried to rush the junction they may get cut down. So Jean Paul, a young and impressionable Frenchmen, climbed over a wall and made his way around the back of the inn to outflank the rebels. Guy Cartwright, with his whooping great two-handed sword, did similar, but made for the gate that led on to the junction.

Sir Guy’s men surround Sir Maddox at the junction

Sir Maddox’s spearmen had now come down to the junction. Hallet Adkin decided to distract Big Eddie by charging him. But Eddie was quick with his bow and as Hallet came across the field he was felled by an arrow.

Hallet Adkin foolishly runs forward

If the royalists were to win the day then they had to act quickly. Guy Cartwright climbed over the stone wall and waved his massive sword menacingly at Sir Maddox. But it was just bravado, since he lacked the courage to actually charge.

So it was down to Sir Guy to draw his sword and lunge forward for Sir Maddox!

Sir Maddox managed to fend the English knight off and with a flurry of blows Sir Guy was beaten. Just in time, Roul Allaire came to Sir Maddox’s defence to engage Guy Cartwright before he could attack Sir Maddox from behind.

Sir Maddox wounds Sir Guy

And down went Guy Cartwright as well and with it, the end of the game.

The rebels had won.

In Outremer, just because a figure is taken out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are dead. An end of game roll is made to see what happened. Fortunately, Hallet Adkin only sustained a flesh wound and would live to fight again. The same could be said for Rowan and Will (another of Sir Guy’s men).Sir Guy himself had taken a bad wound to his leg which would mean that in future games he’d be at a disadvantage. Some of Sir Guy’s other men had also taken bad wounds and would also be hampered. Guy Cartwright, however, had been killed in the melee.

Down goes Sir Guy and Roul lays into Guy Cartwright

BLACK OPS – Battle Report

Stephen goes dark…

Black Ops is another Osprey game I bought when it came out but didn’t have a chance to play.

Once I had my copy and read it, I felt as if it had been mis-sold to me. The pre-launch blurb was all about futuristic stealth missions. And the cover art of the rules enforces that feeling.

However, once read, you can see the author is more aiming at contemporary special forces missions – SAS and Delta Force style anti-terrorist actions. Oh yes, there’s a brief bit on near future tech at the end, but you feel that’s been added solely as a bit of lip-service.

Maybe that’s why it stayed on the shelf for ages, unplayed.

However, I have now played it and I must say I thought it was a great game! I always wanted it to be more sci-fi, if I’m honest, but I didn’t let that stop me. How I rationalised it is that at this level of combat it will always come down to frightened men desperately trying to stay alive and eliminate the person trying to kill them. The battlefield tech is for the…well, battlefield.

So I decided the weapons were all relative. Whether you call it an assault rifle or a gauss carbine, or a LMG or an autolaser, who cares? Well, I don’t.

I decided the game board should be loaded with terrain. This creates a more tactical game, enhances the stealth nature of the rules, and cuts down firing lines. The scenario was simple, the humans had to break into a communications station, download some data, and get out.

What I liked the most about Black Ops is how the rules were geared to the setting. This, as you may have read in a previous review, was the main failing of Zona Alfa for me. Since Black Ops is about stealth missions then the rules must reflect that. And they do. You can either play against an opponent or you can play solo and you make rolls to see if the guards spot your troops and what they do. It worked really well.

My sci fi humans are all named after French philosophers and writers. Leading them was Foucault with Voltaire offering heavy support and Camus, Balzac, and Flaubert as back up. The cyborgs are all named after 70s and 80s computers. The venerable Dragon 32 was control with the ZX81 equipped with a heavy bolt gun and the Spectrum, C64, TI99, MSX, and CPC 464 also on patrol.

Turns are done by card activation (I like card activation, as any club member will tell you). Foucault with Camus and Flaubert made their way around the north of the compound with Balzac and Voltaire sneaking through the breaker’s yard.

Standing guard outside the comms bunker were the Sinclair duo – ZX81 and Spectrum. The rest of the ‘borgs wandered around. How the stealth and observation rules work is that if a model moves into a position where they could be seen a roll is made. This could be modified if there’s any gun fire, running, fighting, etc. If heard, the observer has a choice – they can either raise the alarm or take a shot. Once a guard has heard the enemy then they are under player control and no longer roll for their actions.

The humans moved up part of the way. To the north, Foucault, Flaubert, and Camus were held down as Dragon 32 and MSX kept pacing back and forth. They could have made a dash for it, but they might have been seen, so decided to be cautious and stay hidden.

Most of the cyborg guards seemed to be drifting toward the south, where Voltaire and Balzac were. It was proving hard for them to move up. It reached that point where any more movement may compromise the mission and so, deciding to take the fight to the borgs rather than the other way around, Balzac opened fire! Voltaire took his lead, and also let rip.

This fire drew the attention of the cyborgs. On their turn, they got to roll for observation and they were alerted by the firing. This drew the guards toward Voltaire and Balzac, allowing Foucault and co the chance to move up!

Amongst the trash the firefight hotted up. ZX81 went down (not for the first time) but TI99 returned fire. Dragon 32 dithered a bit, unsure whether to stay where he was or cross over to where the shooting was taking place. MSX was in position around some junk, and he was making it difficult for Foucault and the boys to sneak up to the comms bunker.

Meanwhile, the firefight with Voltaire and Balzac took a turn for the worse. Balzac went down under fire from TI99 and C64. Voltaire moved up, firing from the hip with his rail gun. C64 went down, with CPC464 close behind him. Foucault sneaked around behind some tires but was seen by MSX, who promptly started firing at the French linguist. He missed, and Foucault returned the gesture. Down went MSX.

The two sides now got stuck in to a fire fight. But due to cover no one was scoring any more hits. Foucault saw his chance, albeit a risky one. He moved around the side of the comms bunker and had to take the risk – a dash for the bunker doorway where he could deconstruct the cyborg data. Dragon 32 also took a risk and made a rush for Foulcault and the two became locked in close combat. Dragon 32 had the advantage on the first round by attacking Foucault from behind, but he failed to exploit this. Foucault turned to face his attacker and managed to take down the 8 bit monstrosity.

Success went to the humans.

I thought Black Ops was a great game. Loved it. The stealth rules work well, and so do the guard reaction rolls, without being too stodgy. The other mechanics are nice and simple and there are also lots of equipment options for specialists. I will definitely be playing this again.

MWS Quiz 13th May 2020

Who is this British Admiral?  See Question 9! © Imperial War Museum Q 19570

The Society has been having some virtual quiz nights while we have been unable to meet.

We thought we would share this if you want to give it a try – answers will be published next week.

  1. The story of which famous WW2 battle is featured in the 1973 film Enemy at the Gates? For a bonus point name the real life Red Army sniper who is the hero of the film.
  2. Which fighter type, now the name of a popular set of wargames rules, was the mainstay of the rebel forces in the original battles to restore the Republic in Star Wars? For a bonus point name the fighter type used by Darth Vader during the same period.
  3. Which King of Macedon brought an end to the Persian Empire in the 4th Century BC? For a bonus point name the Persian King he defeated.
  4. In what year did war break out between Israel and her neighbours, in co-ordination with an Anglo-French assault on the Suez Canal? For a bonus point name the main jet fighter aircraft flown by the Egyptian Air Force during the war.
  5. Which country picked a fight with Prussia, Austria-Hungary and the North German Confederation in 1864? For a bonus point name the island, at that time owned by Britain, off which a naval action was fought during this war.
  6. At which Battle in 1781 did the British Army suffer its decisive defeat in the American Revolutionary War? For a bonus point name the commander of the French forces in the battle.
  7. Who famously wrote “Veni, Vedi, Vici” about his army’s victory in 47BC? For a bonus point name the king or the country of the army he was referring to.
  8. What battle, fought on 2nd July 1644 made Oliver Cromwell’s reputation as a cavalry commander? For a bonus point name the senior commander of the defeated Royalist Army.
  9. Who commanded the British Battlecruisers at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, later that year succeeding Admiral Jellicoe as Grand Fleet commander? He is pictured above.  For a bonus point name the light cruiser which fought at the battle and is preserved as an IWM museum ship in Belfast, or one of the British Battlecruisers that was sunk.
  10. Last year’s show game featured the 100 hours war between Honduras and El Salvador. In what year was the war fought?  For a bonus point name the manufacturer (or 3 letter designation) and the name of the main fighter flown by the Honduran Air Force.
  11. Which well-known wargamer played the role of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, known as ‘El Cid’, in the Hollywood blockbuster of 1961? For a bonus point give the Spanish name of the long conflict in which El Cid fought, or the city he was defending when he died.
  12. In what year did Abba win the Eurovision Song contest with the song ‘Waterloo’? For a bonus point name the commander of the British Cavalry who had his leg shot off by a cannonball at the end of this battle, or the wounded Dutch commander of I Corps.

The Russian Baltic Fleet in 1914 – Organisation, Modelling and Painting Guide – Part 1

2nd Cruiser Brigade

Our Treasurer recently decided to expand his WW1 naval campaign into the Baltic – a theatre that saw a lot of interesting naval actions and a major amphibious assault.

That meant acquiring the Russian Baltic Fleet.  Fortunately Russian naval enthusiasts have unearthed a lot of good material from their naval archives in the last few years and made it available on-line.  After brushing up on the Russian alphabet and with liberal use of Google translate, this information is just a click or two away as long as you use Cyrillic text for your searches!  I’ll give the correct 1914 Cyrillic names of the units, commanders and ships below with their western script equivalents.

1/3000 is the scale of my German Fleet, so off went my order to get started to Navwar – who still have an unrivaled range and reasonably priced models for this period.

First up on the painting table are 6 cruisers from the 1st and 2nd Бригада Крейсеровъ (Cruiser Brigades).

The flagships were the big old armoured cruisers Громобой (Gromoboy, meaning Thunderer), and Россия (Rossiya, meaning Russia)  respectively.  These are oldish Navwar sculpts and needed some work, but also needed quite a bit of conversion work to bring them up to 1914.  Both had been considerably upgunned from the 1904 era Navwar model with prominent new casemates on the top decks  – Gromoboy had also had a complete new set of boilers, but you can’t see them!  Bring on the modelling knife, plasticard sheet and rod, bits of old national trust membership cards and superglue and voila:

Original models of Gromoboy (top) and Rossiya (bottom)
Gromoboy (top) and Rossiya (bottom) after conversion – casemates and guns moved/added, boats re-positioned, funnels and bridges tidied up/added and for Gromoboy stern shape and ship length corrected with a new stern casemate and conning towers also added

Next were two other much newer, smaller armoured cruisers of 1st Brigade, the sisters Адмиралъ Макаровъ (Admiral Makarov, a celebrated admiral lost in the war against Japan) and Баянъ (Bayan, a celebrated 11th century bard).  These needed very little work – not much more than just filing away the 11pdr gun in the bow and moving a couple of boats.

Last in this first batch were two 2nd class cruisers of 2nd Brigade, the sisters Богаты́ръ (Bogatýr, a Russian medieval warrior/knight) and Олегъ (Oleg – the name of several celebrated historical figures).  These veterans of the Japanese war also needed some tidy ups and removal of some of the small guns from Oleg:

Oleg (top) and Bogatýr (bottom) with funnels tidied, turret shape/size corrected, aft superstructure enhanced/corrected, boats added and 4x11pdr guns removed from Oleg

Finally painting and basing.  The Baltic Fleet introduced a two tone paint scheme for all large warships in an order of March 7th 1912, with light grey upperworks and a darker grey hull side.  All of these warships had unpainted wooden decks.  Finally the Baltic Fleet continued to use 1m wide funnel bands throughout the war (painted out in most other navies).  1st Brigade used red and 2nd Brigade blue in 1914.  First ship had a band at top of 2nd funnel, 2nd ship a band half way down 2nd funnel, 3rd ship a band at the top of 2nd and 3rd funnels and fourth ship a band half way down 2nd and 3rd funnels:

1st Cruiser Brigade
2nd Cruiser Brigade
1st Cruiser Brigade
2nd Cruiser Brigade
1st Cruiser Brigade
2nd Cruiser Brigade

These ships underwent a bewildering number of changes in their armament during their lives, but contemporary records, photos and plans confirm their armament in 1914 as:

1st Brigade

Контръ Адмиралъ Коломейцевъ – Rear-Admiral Kolomeytsev

Gromoboy (flag) – 4×8″, 22×6″, 4x75mm(11 pdr), 4x47mm (3pdr), 2 TT

Admiral Makarov (2nd ship)- 2×8″, 8×6″, 20x75mm(11pdr), 2 TT

Bayan (4th ship) – 2×8″, 8×6″, 22x75mm(11pdr), 2 TT

2nd Brigade (initially titled Бригадой крейсеровъ 1-й резерва, 1st Reserve Cruiser Brigade)

Контръ Адмиралъ Лесковъ – Rear-Admiral Leskov, promoted on 10.8.14, having been appointed to command a couple of days before war broke out

Rossiya (flag) – 4×8″, 22×6″, 15x75mm(11 pdr), TTs all removed

Bogatýr (2nd ship) – 12×6″, 12x75mm(11pdr), 4x47mm (3pdr), 2 TT

Oleg (3rd ship) – 12×6″, 8x75mm(11pdr), 8x47mm (3pdr), 2 TT

Most 3pdr guns and all 6pdr and 1pdr guns had been removed from the ships as they were found to be ineffective deck clutter in the war against Japan.

The next batch will add the remaining cruisers in these Brigades and begin adding the destroyer and torpedo boat flotillas…….