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Friday, 30 September 2011

Orkneyinga Saga

Broch of Gurness, Orkney Islands

Another view of the Broch




Entrance to the Broch

Orkneyinga Saga covers the lives of the Viking Earls of the Orkney Islands from the ninth to the thirteenth century, and like many Norse sagas, it is a cracking and blood thirsty read. Part myth, legend and history the saga inspires many gaming scenarios ideally suited to Saga, the new dark age skirmish rules published by Gripping Beast. We recently visited the Orkney Islands and seeing the sites there, really seems to bring the events in Orkneyinga Saga to life. If you're interested in reading the Orkneyinga Saga there's an online version here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/ice/is3/is302.htm

I’m still waiting for my pre-ordered copy of Saga, unfortunately postage down under takes forever sometimes. I thought I’d post some photos of sites in the Orkneys (Viking and Pict) we visited, together with photos of my six point Viking and Anglo-Danish warbands. I also have Normans that I’ll use for these rules. I’m currently painting a Pict warband and I’m sorely tempted by the GB Welsh and Irish ranges! The great thing about Saga is you don’t need large forces (30-40 figures) and the game is apparently fast, fun and quick to play. The Saga forum has lots of information about the rules, downloads, inspiring photos of warbands and is definitely worth checking out: http://studiotomahawk.freeforums.org/index.php.


Vikings with Jarl (Warlord), Beserkers, Hirdmen and Jomsvikings (Hearthguard) - figures Gripping Beast, Artizan & Foundry

Viking Bondi (Warriors)
Viking Warband with all six units
Anglo-Danish Eorl (Warlord) with Huscarls (Hearthguard) - figures Gripping Beast, Artizan and Crusader.
Anglo-Danish Ceorls (Warriors) - figures Gripping Beast, Artizan & Foundry
Anglo-Danish Warband with all six units

Replica Pictish stone, Brough of Birsay, Orkney Islands - original is in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh
Brough of Birsay - the buildings here are all Viking era

























Another view of the Brough of Birsay

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Second battle of Tapae –Trajan’s Dacian Wars

Roman Adamklissi Metope, Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Last night Craig, Bern, Garry, Justin and I had another Hail Caesar refight, the second battle of Tapae (101 AD), in our series of games fighting Trajan’s Dacian Wars. Justin, new to the rules, watched the game and one of the Roman players (myself) was pretty rusty having been on an extended tour of the Northern and Western provinces for some time.

Tapae was the decisive battle (a victory for Trajan) in the first Dacian War which didn’t end until 102 AD. Trajan built a monument - Tropaeum Traiani (modern Adamklissi in Romania) to commemorate this victory in 109 AD. It’s worth scrolling down this link as all 49 of the remaining metopes from the monument are clickable and expand.

We had five divisions a side and used the following special rules. As the battle took place during a fierce thunderstorm, no bow or torsion artillery may be used. All missile fire is at an additional -1 to hit, and all orders given at more than 12” suffer an additional -1 penalty (even for units with Marauders special rule).

View of the table
The game quickly developed into a cavalry engagement on the left flank and the infantry slogging it out in the centre and on the right. In previous games the Sarmatian lancers have been all but unstoppable and one unit quickly rolled the Roman guard cavalry off the table and followed in pursuit. At the same time the Roman Foederati cavalry heavily supported managed to destroy the other unit of Sarmatian lancers and then subsequently charged a Dacian warband.

Dacian warbands advancing





Sarmatian lancers charge forward

The infantry on the right close


Light cavalry come to blows
Sarmatian lancers and Roman cavalry get stuck in
The infantry slog it out

In the centre and on the right the infantry struggle favoured the Dacians initially, forcing the Romans to give ground but then the Romans’ superior armour, sustained values and ‘disciplina’ eventually reversed this situation. Back on the left the Foederati cavalry destroyed one Dacian warband but were then forced to give ground. The victorious Sarmatian lancers now returned to the field. At this point the Praetorian Guards, with Trajan leading from the front, swung around and advanced towards the threatening Sarmatians but did not charge them. 

It was time to call it quits with heavy losses on both sides making the game seem a draw but in the last turn the Sarmatians charged Trajan and the Praetorians. Trajan and the Praetorians lost by one and were forced to give ground but a small cavalry unit of Sarmatian skirmishers to their rear blocked their retreat and they were destroyed! This seemed a bit DBX and caused a bit of discussion whether skirmishers or only formed troops should have this effect on other formed troops - especially Trajan with his Praetorians. ‘Them is the rules’ (p.77) was agreed to be the case and the Dacians had snatched victory in the dying stages of game. Thanks to Craig, Bern, Garry and Justin for another fun game which had plenty of interest right until the end.
 
Another view of the infantry melee

Trajan and 'Praetorians' shortly before their demise


Monday, 19 September 2011

Companion Cavalry



Here are a few photos of a Strategos and some Companion Cavalry. All the figures except a single standard bearer (Newline) are Foundry. I had a bit of trouble when varnishing one of the units and there are little white flecks visible on some figures from my spray box which is really annoying. I'm going to make another box and just use it exclusively for varnishing. I've tried to make this unit resemble the illustrations (p.15.) in Nick Sekunda's recent article Cavalry about the court: The Ptolemaic horse guard in Ancient Warfare Magazine Volume V, Issue 2.





Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Alexander Sarcophagus

This is my first post in two months as we’ve been overseas on holidays in the UK and Turkey. I thought I’d post some photos (holiday snaps) of some of the great sites and museums we visited. First up are some photos of the famous Alexander Sarcophagus of Sidon (325-311 BC), in the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

The Alexander Sarcophagus is one of four carved sarcophagi, discovered during the excavations conducted by Osman Hamdi Bey at a necropolis near Sidon, Lebanon in 1887. It was originally thought to have been the sarcophagus of Abdalonymus (died 311 BC), the king of Sidon appointed by Alexander immediately following the Battle of Issus (333). More recently it is thought it was made for Mazaeus, a Persian noble and governor of Babylon.

The carvings on one long side depict Alexander fighting the Persians at the Battle of Issus, while the opposite side shows Alexander and the Macedonians hunting lions together with Abdalonymus and the Persians. One short side shows a hunting scene and the other a battle, possibly the Battle of Gaza 312 BC, fought between Ptolemy I of Egypt and Demetrius I of Macedon. The above reference is from Wikipedia.

Alexander fighting the Persians at the Battle of Issus
Lion hunting scene



Battle scene



Panther hunting scene
The reliefs were all painted and the original colours are still clearly visible. Experts have been able to reconstruct how these actually looked.
 

Reconstruction of Alexander fighting

Reconstruction of Battle scene

In the museum there are these two really well preserved steles/stelai below, also from Sidon. Nick Sekunda’s excellent Montvert book, The Ptolemaic Army, has quite a bit of information on these.


Detail of Sidon Stele (3) – Stele of Salmas


Detail of Sidon Stele (7) – Stele of Dioskourides