Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Action at Orángeville and Rougebourg

This past week my dad and I were both up in Michigan for my brother's thesis defense. (Congratulations again, William!) Figuring we would probably have some time on our hands, I brought along a few miniatures, including the Proxian armies I've been working on on-and-off for the last several years. With some terrain from my dad's travel kit, and a few pieces from a "Vacationland" playset hauled up from the basement, we set up a little game on my grandmother's kitchen table.

The last time I had out these figures (was it really almost five years ago?) we used Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames. Those worked OK, but I thought they lacked a bit of period flavor, and so this time we tried his 19th-century rules instead. I liked these better overall, so we may give them another try the next time.

The scenario we came up with involved an Elabrüner attack on an Occiterran position - the Occiterrans set up in two small towns and a hill in-between, and the Elabrüners had to capture two of the three objectives within a time limit. Both sides had additional forces coming on over the first few turns. Dad decided he would prefer the role of defender, so I took the attacking force.

The situation a few turns in - most of the Elabrüner forces have arrived and started deploying.

As it turned out, my forces all arrived mostly on time and in a coherent manner - infantry behind the hill and woods opposite Rougebourg, and artillery and cavalry along the road to Orángeville. Dad's forces started off to relieve the more distant town, but I sent my cavalry out ahead to get in the way, which seemed to be well within their capabilities. One regiment managed to ride down some skirmishers before running headlong into canister fire; the other got involved in a melee with Dad's cavalry coming up from behind the town.

The Elabrüner guns have unlimbered and started to bombard the Occiterrans in Orángeville from beyond rifle range.

Most of the Elabrüner infantry has been committed to the attack on Rougebourg, while the cavalry attempts to delay Occiterran reinforcements.

A cavalry melee ensues as Elabrüner Blue Hussars clash with Occiterran cuirassiers. In the background, the last few of the Gray Uhlans throw themselves into the teeth of the Occiterran cannons.

Elabrüner and allied Nordalener infantry press on towards Rougeborg, stoutly defended by the Seridian Legion.

Since only infantry can assault towns, and they need a numerical advantage to be allowed to assault at all, I had to soften up the defenders before I could try to take either objective. Orángeville was conveniently in reach of my two artillery units, which gradually wore down the defenders, but with Rougebourg I had to push my troops forward quickly in column to cover the ground, then shake out into line to be able to shoot at the defenders, then re-form into column for the assault. This took a while, and I was fortunate that the Occiterran reinforcements had been delayed or distracted so that I had a significant numerical advantage.

With the defending Seridians driven off, Elabrüner troops occupy the town.

Artillery continues to fire on Orángeville as columns of Elabrüner infantry advance on the town. To the right, another Elabrüner unit arrives on the road from captured Rougebourg.

With one objective taken, I could now concentrate on the other, though we were about two-thirds of the way through our allotted time. Weakened by several turns of bombardment, the initial group of Occiterran defenders was wiped out by our assault, but we had taken enough casualties to be driven out in turn by an attack from fresh Occiterran troops. Fortunately I also still had one relatively fresh unit to throw into the fray, and with both towns in Elabrüner hands, the Occiterrans decided to cut their losses and pull back.

The Occiterran counterassault against Orángeville.

Final positions of the battle: with both towns occupied by Elabrün, the Occiterrans retreat back down the road.

All in all, it was a fun and satisfying little battle, and I hope to get these figures on the table again soon! 

(We also slipped in a couple of games of DBA - the long-suffering Maya finally won a battle against the Tlaxcalans)

And Cortez didn't fare too well against the Aztecs either...

Monday, March 14, 2022

Mesoamerican DBA Part 3 - Tlaxcalans

Even as I was wrapping up my Aztec army last year, I found myself wondering if I could pull together one more Mesoamerican DBA army - preferably one that could be an opponent for either the Aztecs or the Maya. As it happens, there was one plausible candidate - army list IV/19a. This list covers a whole swath of Mesoamerican groups, among them the Tlaxcalans. The DBA version of the army is heavy on bowmen, and as it happened I had quite a few archers left over from the Aztec project. I decided to see what I could piece together - and for those who are interested in the process, I wrote about it in a thread over on Benno's Figure Forum

(In brief: I took a great deal of inspiration from the Lienzo de Tlaxcala, a record put together post-Conquest by the Tlaxcalans themselves to document their role as Spanish allies. It's made up of about a hundred illustrated panels which run together in a narrative almost like a comic strip. As far as the figures go, they are mostly a mix of the Revell and Caesar Aztec sets, with a lot of conversions.)

Now, at last, the army is complete!

First up, our Tlaxcalan generals, as suit-wearing warriors who can be either solid Bows or fast or solid Blades:

The IV/19a list includes two additional units of fast or solid Blades. Unlike their Aztec counterparts, the Lienzo depicts most of the Tlaxcalan warriors without animal headdresses - the exceptions tend to be either feline or canine rather than avian. (One thing I learned while working on this project: the "crocodile" headdress that shows up in both the Aztec sets is probably supposed to be a stylized coyote and not a crocodile at all!)

The IV/19a list also calls for three stands of solid Bow. Per the description in the DBA army list, I depicted these units with two archers and two warriors with shield and maquahuitl - partly to help distinguish them from the fast Bows, and partly because I didn't have quite enough archers and wanted to avoid having to buy more!

The fast Bows, of which there may be up to five. There are a few converted Robin Hood figures mixed in among here...

In the IV/19a list, one of the fast Bows may be replaced with a fast Warband unit of Otomi allies. Unfortunately I was not able to find any good pictorial sources on the pre-contact Otomi, so they are a little fanciful.

Finally, one unit of psiloi - these are actually Atlantic Egyptians, as I had used up my stocks of Aztec bowmen. 

A couple of views of the whole army together:

But wait, there's more! Although my primary goal was to build the IV/19a list for the pre-contact era, in the end I also put together the four Spanish units needed for the IV/19c list variant, which covers the Tlaxcalan/Spanish allied forces. 

Here we have the Spanish general, as a unit of knights. The rider on the left is from the old Revell set of conquistadors; the other two are from the more recent Caesar set - though the man with the raised spear has a substitute horse for size compatibility.

One unit of Spanish sword-and-buckler men, as solid Blades. While I kept mostly the same overall color palette for the Spanish as for the Tlaxcalans, it was quite a change to go from the intricate designs on the Tlaxcalan shields to the plain metal of the Spanish...

One unit of Spanish crossbowmen and arquebusiers as solid Crossbows.

Finally, the Spanish get to deploy a falconet or similar small cannon as a stand of Artillery. The crew, the gun barrel, and the carriage are from one of RedBox's sets of Spanish sailors; the wheels are taken from another set. (There are a few panels of the Lienzo that depict Spanish cannons; they are shown there as having spoked wheels.)

Here's a shot of the Spanish contingent all together, and one more of the combined Spanish-Tlaxcalan army:

And with that, I am just about done with my adventure into Mesoamerica! I do owe all three armies some camp followers, but I think I am about due for a break - hopefully both to work on some other projects and to actually play some games!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Bronze Age DBA Part 8 - Mountain Men

Happy New Year, everyone!

I closed out 2021 with the last (really!) of my planned Bronze Age DBA armies - the Kaska. These perennial foes of the Hittites (whose name also gets transliterated as Gasgans or Kashkans) lived in the mountainous north of Anatolia, and are covered in DBA under the I/4 Zagros & Anatolian Highland list. Unfortunately, information on them is pretty scant - there are few, if any, Kaskan archeological sites, and they don't seem to have left written records of their own, so we have to rely on Hittite sources. These don't include any visual depictions that I was able to find, so I was left largely to my own devices in deciding what the Kaska should look like. The result is a mélange of scraps and leftover figures from a number of sets:

In many cases, the figures themselves are little Frankenstein's Monsters, with heads, torsos, arms, or even feet swapped around to create an appearance that was relatively consistent and distinct from my other seven armies. I also tried to tie them together with a color scheme that was heavy on reds and greens and eschewed blues and bright whites. (The Christmas colors are entirely coincidental - I had plotted them out quite a while ago!) There are also quite a lot of checks, stripes, and even tartans worked in.

So without further ado, here is the army:

LCh or 3Wb general

First up, we have a general, either in a light chariot or as a fast Warband.

3x 3Wb

The army includes three more stands of fast Warband as "elite warriors." The DBA book suggests that they might be armed with both bows and axes, so I've done something I would not ordinarily do and mixed some archers in with the melee troops here. To help keep the "elites" distinct from the next set of units, I have also depicted them with armor, generally a shirt of bronze scales.

2x 3Ax or 3Wb

Next up, we have two units of "common warriors" as either fast Auxilia or more fast Warband. Ironically, they may prove more useful than the elites as Warbands in DBA 3.0 are quite vulnerable to cavalry.

6x Ps

Finally, half the army is psiloi skirmishers - mostly with bows, but I did put together one stand of javelineers.

I will admit, I am a little skeptical how well this army will play out in DBA, as they seem pretty vulnerable unless they can take advantage of rough terrain. For a change of pace, I may also deploy them as the I/4c Hurrian/Early Kassite/Nairi list instead (treating all the warriors as fast Auxilia instead of Warband) - the I/4c list also has a more extensive selection of historical opponents, including the Mitanni, Assyrians, and Syro-Canaanites.

Speaking of historical opponents, the completion of my eighth army lets me put together a nice little bracket:

Maybe in 2022 I will get a chance to play it through and see who comes out on top! If I do, it will help fulfill my New Year's resolution of taking all the figures I've painted over the last couple of years and getting them on the table for a game. 2021 was another good year for painting, with 368 figures finished: