EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Roman is a Groanin'

Ron and I had another go at a Portable Ancient Wargame today.

The Scenario was Broken Ground from Programmed Scenarios. Ron with 30 SP of Gauls was defending a hill line. I was attacking with 45 SP of Romans.  I suggested that we use a turn limit for the game and suggested my usual  15 card initiative deck with Black indicating that the Gauls go first that turn, Red indicating Romans go first. If a Joker turned up the turn was over. When the deck was done, the game was over.

This gave the Romans 15 turns to have undisputed control of ALL of the hills behind the Gallic start line.

1/2 way through the game. The Romans, whom the omens (die roll) advised not to bother scouting since the Gauls would obviously be sitting on the hill line, were somewhat taken aback to be attacked by the Gauls before they had even  marched on and deployed!

Seeing that I had flubbed the die roll to be allowed to deploy on table and given the Gauls low value in defence, Ron decided to launch a preemptive strike. Thank goodness that his combat dice weren't better and that once my cohorts started arriving to reinforce my light troops, they had above average dice! 

A lengthy seesaw battle began which ended with the Gauls being exhausted but the Romans still being stalled. However gaps were appearing and finally I managed to coax some of my light units to roll a double move and exploit an involuntary gap just as I finally drove Ron to his Exhaustion Point. He was pretty much forced to retreat posthaste with me hot on his heels, hoping for an initiative flip to let me catch him. Didn't happen and the clock was quickly running out.

Once back near the hills, Ron was forced to turn and face first my cavalry and light troops and then my panting Legionaires. At last on turn 15 I had at least 1 unit on each hill but Ron still had 3 units defending as well as one with General attached blocking one of the passes.

I managed to eliminate 2 units but only pushed back the 3rd. So there I was, on the brink of exhaustion and not in undisputed control of the high ground.  A Gallic victory.

3 hours went by in the blink of an eye as the turns seemed to fly by while the advantage slipped back and forth with me trying to break through or go around Ron's line and the terrain while he kept shifting to keep his line and zones of control (ie adjacent hexes) intact and block me while whittling me down. Victory hung in the balance right up to the very last die roll!
(Sorry for the lack of pictures, I was too engrossed in the action to remmber.)

Sometimes the obvious, cautious tactical choice isn't  the most effective one! His plan was risky but paid off.

Another great game!


  1. Aggressive defending by the Gauls - I like it. Is your initiative card deck simply 7 red and 7 black cards and a joker, or more complicated than that?

    1. Less complicated. 15 random cards drawn from a deck of 53. No guarntee of equality or fairness.

      It would be contrary to the purpose to knowingly include a Joker since it merely shortens the game should 1 appear.

    2. So it's much more random; thanks, I'll give this a try.

  2. Well, I guess attack really is the best form of defence!

  3. Looks like an excellent game - I am always fascinated by battles with palm trees. Maybe something to do with ancient b&w photos in ancient How To books about wargaming. I am so fascinated that occasionally I have thought about doing some Colonial stuff, just for the palm trees...

    Very good. When in Rome, do as the Romanians do, as they say.

  4. That action sounds just like a campaign battle - it is so easy to imagine a back story and a sequel. It goes to show, too, the value of surprise, even on a tabletop.

    1. The CS Grant & and the Asquith & Grant scenarios are good that way.

      The effectiveness of the surprise attack was partly due to my flubbing a 50% dieroll and thus having to march on in a single column rather than deploying off table, partly because the rules gave Ron a fair chance of doing enough damage (SP loss) to prevent me from taking offensive action and partly because the turn limit meant that he might at least stall me long enough for night or reinforcements or whatever depending on the unknown bigger picture. It all worked well together with the random appearance of the Joker meaning the loss of a turn being the final fatal touch. None of it was inevitable, all possible so player decisions and tactics ruled.