venerdì 3 maggio 2024

Siege of Fushimi Castel - Clash of Katanas Jan, 20 2024

Thanks to the Age of Katanas supplement written by the Erize brothers, in association, the Japanese Middle Ages is widely played. So, we decided to reconstruct a historic battle: the siege of Fushimi castle. It was fought at the end of the Sengoku period (i.e. "Warring States period"), it is the final part of the Japanese Middle Ages which ends in 1603.
During this era, due to the weakening of central power, various revolts took place. Many daimyō founded real states. If, at the end of 1500 there were around 300 kingdoms, a century later, the power struggles were so bloody that the daimyō were reduced to less than 20.
There are many famous characters that could worthy of being mentioned. Among these, Oda Nobunaga, whose actions almost managed to lead to a first attempt at reunification of the country. After his assassination in 1582, a trusted collaborator becomes leader of his clan: Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Once he came to power he named himself Kanpaku, or "regent of the Emperor". Upon his death (1598) his son was too young to succeed him, so he decided to appoint a council of five Regents made up of five daimyō. Hideyoshi chooses the nobles of the council following two rules: they are the most powerful and they hate each other. In this way he hopes to be able to balance their powers. Unfortunately, he is wrong.

Tokugawa is the most important of the various regents and is in a struggle for power with another daimyō: Ishida Mitsunari.
The siege of Fushimi was fought between the end of August and September 1600, and it is one of those battles that is not very famous but which, if they had had different outcomes, perhaps would have changed history. The castle was controlled by Torii Mototada, a loyal follower of Tokugawa.
It is the dawn of August 27, 1600 when Ishida Mitsunari and his ally Kobayakawa Hideaki appear in front of the castle gates with around 40,000 men. Ishida and Kobayakawa are probably hoping for a change of alliance from Mototada or, at worst, a quick conquest. Mototada, now sixty-two years old, can count on less than 2,000 men. Unfortunately for them, the castellan has no intention to surrender.

Set up of the scenario
The table is 6 x 8 feet (180 x 240 cm) in size. The scenario was entirely written by our club member Antonio Dell'Erba. Although in historical reality the balance of power was approximately 20 to 1. In our simulation the ratio is 2 to 1.
The defender has a free three-server cannon at his disposal while the attacker can deploy a free Tsukaiban. 

The attacking clan's forces are chosen from the Toyotomi-Uesugi lists with a point ratio of 75-25 (excluding leaders). The game lasts 6 rounds. At the end of which the sides roll a die, if the sum is even they continue for a final seventh round.
Before the match the two sides will have to proceed with the tea ceremony. Ishida can add 1 to his die roll.

The Tokugawa clan is under the orders of Torii Mototada and can put its forces inside the castle at a minimum distance of 8 inches from the walls. The cannon is placed on the north side of the fortification but cannot move, only rotate, during the game. The cannon uses the skirmish specialist rule. The defenders will be controlled by two leaders: Mototada will be a Taisho (5CP) (1,000 pts or 1,500 pts) and a Kogashira (3CP) (1,000 pts) or Kumigashira (4CP) (1,500 pts).
The defender places two targets at least 40 inches apart and 8 inches from the walls. Each objective represents information needed by the attacker for the subsequent battle of Sekigahara.
Ishida and Kobayakawa's forces are organized in two waves and deploy outside the walls. The first wave is 2/3 of the initial strength. From the second round, the attackers' forces in reserve will enter from one of the four cardinal points. How reinforcements enter is decided by a die roll. Once they arrive on the table they will place under the control of the closest leader.
The army will be commanded by 4 Leaders, two of these (Ishida Mitsunari and Kobayakawa Hideaki) will be Kumigashira (4CP) (2,000 pts) or Taisho (5CP) (3,000 pts), the other two will be (one will be the Leader of the Uesugi units) Kogashira (3CP) (2,000 pts) or Kumigashira (4CP) (3,000 pts).
The Toyotomi and Uesugi clans will be "Close Allies" (p. 119 Clash of Spears) so the various commanders will be able to give orders to allied troops without need additional CP.
All leaders fight on foot. For each objective achieved, the morale of the Togukawa will virtually decrease by one point. The side that reaches 3 break points first is forced to take a test.

Army list

Victory conditions
The Attacker wins if he manages to make his opponent fail the Break Test.
The Attacker wins if, at the end of the game, he has conquered 2 Objectives.
The Attacker wins if, at the end of the game, he has conquered at least 1 Objective and has a unit, with at least 3 figures, in contact with the main entrance of the Castle (captures Torii Mototada's family).
The Defender wins if he manages to make his opponent fail the Break Test.
The Defender wins if, at the end of the game, he manages to avoid any other victory conditions of the Attacker.

Special rules
To speed up actions and make the game more fluid we have included some special rules. During the game, a player can activate up to 4 units, one per leader if attacking, two per leader if defender. The other player can react with a maximum of 4 units but each unit will take only one action. No unit can be the target of two enemies except in the case of cannon.

Battle report
The match was played in my club, "La Piccola Armata", with 7 players: 2 in defense and 5 in attack with the help of an eighth person as referee.
The attackers act first. The scenario is a table where a Japanese castle is in the center surrounded by walls. On the four cardinal points the besiegers have opened breaches, and from these points, they can enter.

The attacker is the first to act. The defenders deploy their troops to the north and south of the castle. To the north, the Torii line up with arquebusiers, samurai and pikemen. To the south, a similar force is commanded by Torii's ally along with some knights. Given the numerical inferiority, the besieged are vulnerable on the flanks. For this reason the Torii places the cannon to cover the breach to the East. To the West the defender takes shelter behind some low walls making the approach difficult.
The first three rounds are an attempt to test the defenders by the attacker. The forces of the first wave proceeding from the North but they are moving slowly. On the contrary, the forces attacking from the south try to conquer the first objective but are pushed back by the arquebuses fire. To the east the cannon prevents attackers from entering the castle. Although the defenders were numerically inferior, at mid-game they keep their positions and the objectives.

In the fourth round the attacker changes strategy. He decides to concentrate attacks on Torii's position by launching units from three sides: North, East and West. The besiegers in the West are repelled but the Torii samurai, after a strenuous defense, are forced to give up ground and grant the attacker an objective.

In the fifth turn the cannon destroys the few units that the besiegers had left in the West and, in this way, Torii moves what remains of his forces to defend the entrance to the castle. To the south, enemy attacks were repelled by the defenders thanks to the charges of the cavalry. The second objective remains in the hands of the besieged. Everything will be decided in the last rounds.

The sixth round. The only cavalry unit of the defenders, now exhausted, is attacked by samurai and eliminated. The attackers concentrate their efforts on two directions: from the South-West and from the North. The combined forces of two leaders attack Torii's ally who holds the secret information. Only with the sacrifice of all the arquebusiers and an exhausted unit of archers (4 efforts) is he able to compete with the enemies for control of the last objective the defenders have left.
The last chance for the attackers to win the game is to capture the entrance to the castle. Torii and his last unit of samurai are defending castle gates. The narrow passage is an advantage for the defenders but the enemy troops are overwhelming. After two cavalry charges and a heroic counter-charge by the Togukawa samurai the doors are open. Torii takes refuge inside.
The players' roll denies Torii a seventh turn.

The end
In historical reality, the defense was concentrated in the central keep much earlier than what is reported in our battle.
After ten days of continuous attacks Ishida has not yet taken control of the castle. On 8 September a fire, started from inside, set one of the towers on fire. Thanks to the confusion, the besiegers break in. While the central keep goes up in flames and fighting continues, Torii and his family barricade themselves in one of the rooms. Rather than give in to the enemy Torii Mototada sacrifices his family and himself with ritual suicide: seppuku.
On September 8, Ishida can say he took control of a smoking ruin but the time required in the siege allowed Tokugawa Ieyasu to find new strength.
In the battle of Sekigahara Ishida will be beaten by Tokugawa.
Appointed by Emperor Go-Yezei: Shōgun in 1603 will give rise to the Tokugawa Shogunate, concluding the Sengoku period.
Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi are still considered the three founders of modern Japan today.

Scale 28 mm. Manufacturers Steel Fist, Perry, Warlord Games
Dipinte da Antonio Dell’Erba (Samurai and ashigaru Tokugawa), Alessandro Crisafulli (Samurai, monks and ashigaru Uesugi), Riccardo Marchesi e Rodolfo Simonetto (Samurai and ashigaru Toyotomi)

venerdì 26 gennaio 2024

Garibaldi and his song

Garibaldi is one of the Italian Independence wars heroe. I think it's normal that some of my club friends have decided to paint miniatures of Garibaldini to play a skirmish game. Garibaldino (or Garibaldini if you use plurals) refers to every volunteer soldier who served in the numerous formations established and led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, or inspired by his ideals.

In the last months Ivano painted a lot of Garibaldini and Bourbonic troops. Last week end my mates played a game using Rebels and Patriots by Osprey games. The idea it is to create a campaign that could illustrated some of the battles between Italians and Borbonics troops.

Miniatures are all 28mm by Shakò64 miniatures

In this scenario Garibaldi and his name had to catch a strategic village controlled by Bourbonic soldiers.

Considering that I'm Italian ... I love Garibaldini. In the common usage the term was used in reference to all those who fought with Garibaldi during his 1,000 expedition (1860-61). We have to consider that Garibaldi and his volunteers fought during the invasion of Trentino (1866), in the battle of Mentana and Dijon (1867-1871). After Garibaldi's death, new expeditions were mounted under the leadership of his son Ricciotti in 1897 and 1912 in favor of Greece's independence from Turkey. In 1914, Garibaldi's expedition intervened in favor of Serbia against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

Few people know that Garibaldi and his troops fought against the "new" Italian army. In 1862 only Rome was not part of the new Kingdom of Italy. In the August 1862  Garibaldi took possession of the steamships Abbattucci and Dispaccio in the port of Catania and set sail during the night. After a short night navigation, at four in the morning on 25 August 1862, he landed at the head of three thousand men in Calabria. Garibaldi's idea was to take the control of Rome ... to defeat the Papal army. The Italian government did not agree with this new initiative. The King of Italy decided to send his troops against Garibaldi. 

Reached Aspromonte (to be correct a little village called Sant'Eufemia in Aspromonte), the Italian troops took contact with the volunteers on 29 August. Well disposed, the Garibaldini observed the fast approaching march of the Bersaglieri, led by General Pallavicini. Once within rifle range, Pallavicini arranged the troops in a chain, the Bersaglieri in front of him, and resolutely advanced on the volunteers "advancing fire".

At that point Garibaldi ran in front of his line and started shouting for a cease fire: “No, stop. Don't fire. They are our brothers." He was obeyed by the bulk of the volunteers, until part of Garibaldini center began to respond, or rather charged the Bersaglieri and pushed them back.  During the battle Garibaldini was wounded. Once the General fell the Garibaldini retreated into a near forest while their officers ran around their leader wounded.

Garibaldi was still leaning against a pine tree with half a cigar in his mouth when Lieutenant Rotondo (of the Italian army), without salute, ordered Garibaldi to surrender. The lieutenant was disarmed and arrested but, when the commander of the Bersaglieri arrived, Garibaldi decided to accept the capitulation. Among the Bersaglieri Garibaldi recognized soldiers and officers who had been with him in previous campaigns: he saw them saddened and contrite so he decided to surrender

King Vittorio Emanuele, to celebrate the wedding of his daughter Maria Pia in 1862, amnestied the rebels on 5 October of the same year. Garibaldi lead another Italian force (I corpi volontari) during the 3rd Italian Independence war and he was elected as member of the Italian parliament.

"Garibaldi was wounded, he was wounded in the leg, Garibaldi who commands, who commands the battalion" /"Garibaldi fu ferito, fu ferito ad una gamba, Garibaldi che comanda, che comand il battaglion"/ are the opening lines of a song that was very famous in the Bersaglieri units 

venerdì 22 settembre 2023

The army of Carthage painted by Aurelian Leclerc

The army of Carthage was one of the most important and largest one of the ancient world. At the maximum of their expansion Carthage controlled part of the North Africa, the southern Iberian Peninsula, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands.

Below the army painted by my mate Aurelian that he use to win SAGA tournaments

Thanks to this expansion the army was transformed from a body of citizen-soldiers to a multinational force composed of a combination of allies, citizens and foreign mercenary units.

The army was composed by a lot of foreign troops ... Libyans, Numidians, Iberian, Gauls and Greeks. 

Numidian light cavalry was one of the most known unit used by Punic generals ... 

Infantry was formed by native carthaginian hoplite largely replaced by mercenary by the time of the First Punic war. 

Iberian warriors serving Carthage and were divided between scutarii (heavy infantry) and caetratii (light infantry)

In 247 BC the Punic Senate appointed Hamilcar Barca as commander in chief of his army.  He led the Carthaginian forces in Sicily during the latter stages of the First Punic War. He led a kind of guerrilia war against Romans. After the war he came back to home where he fought during the Mercenary war ... even if is masterpeace was the expedition in Spain to expand Carthage territories.

Hamilcar was the leader of Barcid family  and father of Hannibal, Hasdrubal and Mago.
Below his son Hannibal painted by Aurelian ...

Carthage army used a mix of chariots during first stage of his history ...

... and elephants during Hannibal age 

venerdì 15 settembre 2023

Battle of Cape Spartivento or Battle of Cape Teulada – Nimitz Sept 2023

Last week end my friends decided to play a naval battle using Nimitz. Nimitz is a Ww2 tabletop game of naval battles simulation written by Sam Mustafa. The rule system is perfect to lead entire fleets. It can be used for single battles at tactical level or for mini campaigns that could simulate more days of fight.

Cape Teulada battle is a typical Ww2 naval battle between English an Italian forces. 
On the night of November 17, 1940, an Italian force including two battleships (Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare) and a number of supporting unis decided to intercept two British convoys en route to Malta. 

The Italian decision was born after the British attack to Taranto port. British forces destroyed some of Italian fleet battleships during a daring aerial assault. The Italian idea to keep the fleet and to adopt the “fleet in being” strategy is abandoned, and so Italian naval squadrons left the ports.

On November 17, the British were warned of Italian approach and immediately turned and returned to Gibraltar, launching their aircraft (two Blackburn Skuas and 12 Hawker Hurricanes) prematurely. One Skua and eight Hurricanes were lost at sea, as they ran out of fuel well before arriving at their destination, with the loss of seven airmen.
The British decided to organize a new convoy. It was organized with and increased support including ships from Gibraltar and Alexandria.

At 9,45 on November 27, an Italian airplane from the heavy cruiser Bolzano discovered the British forces. The British admiral, James Somerville, received the report of Italian squadron approach. Reinforces from Alexandria were not arrived, so he decided to go back but at 10,10 some men on HMS Ark Royal spot the reinforces. Somerville decided to keep the position. British organized their fleet in two forces while the Italian one in three groups. 

At 12:22, the lead groups of both forces came into range and the Italian ship, Fiume, opened fire at 23,500 metres (25,700 yd). Rapid fire between the two forces continued as the distance between them closed, but as the range shortened Italian firepower began to put pressure on the outgunned British. The arrival of the battleship HMS Ramillies on the British side helped to even the odds, but she was too slow to maintain formation and dropped out of battle after a few salvoes at 12:26. Four minutes later, Vice Admiral Angelo Iachino, commander of the Italian cruiser group, received orders to disengage, although the battle had swung slightly in their favour. Iachino ordered an increase in speed to 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph), laid smoke and started to withdraw.

At this time the Italian destroyer Lanciere was hit and seriously damaged by HMS Manchester. Italian forces try to cover the Italian ship. At 12,22 a single 203 mm shell knocked out the Y turret fo HMS Berwick while at 12,35 a second shell destroyed the after breaker room and cut power to part of ship’s sections. The Italian ship Ascari caught the Lanciere and bring it in a safe position.  
At around 12:40, eleven Swordfish from Ark Royal attacked Vittorio Veneto with torpedoes, but did not score any hits.

At 13:00, Vittorio Veneto opened fire from 27,000 metres (30,000 yd). Vittorio Veneto fired 19 rounds in seven salvoes from long range and that was enough for the now outgunned British cruisers, which turned back. In fact, as giant water-spouts erupted around Berwick and Manchester, the British commadner ordered smoke, and his ships fled southeast to close with Renown. Both forces withdrew, the battle lasting a total of 54 minutes and causing little damage to either side.

In our game the Italian fleet demaged some English unit and intercepted the convoys. At the end it was an Italian victory 57 points vs 47.

venerdì 21 luglio 2023

Studio Tomahawk'Jugula review

In the last weeks my club mates played some matches using Jugula ... a Studio Tomahawk rule system set in Roman Empire. Jugula is a bit different respect other "classical" wargame because you will be a "Lanista" in stead of a commarders, generals and so on.

The lanista was, essentially, an entrepreneur who traded in gladiators and rented them to the organizer (editor or munerarius) of the gladiatorial show (munera) drawing his own profit which did not diminish even if the gladiator died during the fight. 

Normally the lanista was an ex gladiator assisted in his activity by the doctores (or magistri). Skilled veterans freed from the status of gladiator who, having concluded thier activity, had been awarded the rudis (a wooden sword).

The lanista is the focus of the game ... this is the reason for which, in this game, the rules managing combat in the arena are all about decisions, rather than hit, move and blade types. Jugula allows the players to manage the development of their own gladiators. Combat area in a square grid ... not very different respect a chess board. 

Jugula uses a card system that, during the arena fights, allows the lanista to control and manage his gladiators. During the game the player has to choose the correct cards but also the correct way to use them. A card can uses: for movement, for increase your popularity (called Vox Populi that can give some bonus combat and increase the size of your card hand), for combat, for draw other cards, for use card's ability or for a kind of upgrade (Prima Jugula card).

The player has a team of 4 gladiators (famila). Every gladiator has his stat (movement, combat, skills and so on) and card. The player can choose from: Murmillo, Scissor, Hoplomachus, Provocator, Secutor, Crupellarius (heavy) and Veles, Tharaex, Retiarius, Sagittarius, Dimachaerius, Laquearius (light).

Generally you cannot attack and move in the same. You get bonuses for attacking the flank or the rear but you must choose your movement carrefully because you can attack only the three squares immediately to miniature's front

The combat is easy: your gladiator's attack factors (plus modifiers) against opponent's defence. Modifiers could be: the drawing card value you and your opponent must put on the table or Vox Populi for example.

Four points win the game. An enemy's gladiator wounded: 1 point. An enemy's gladiator killed: 2 points.

You can play it in a campaign version. Every players (Lanisti) spent money to train gladiators, to hire mercanaries, to sell or to buy new minis and so on. The lanista goal is to gain glory and to win the game.

The game is easy to play and funny. In our club we started a campaign that is rich of interesting and amusing combats 

venerdì 23 giugno 2023

Maxi Napoleonic scenario - Black Powder June 17, 2023

Last week end my mates organized a Black Powder game using a “maxi” table. Around 3,000 miniatures … table 480 x 150 cm … 16 Army Corps … 12 players.

It was not an historical scenario but it is inspired a post Lipsia battle ... around 1813. The idea was to create an event in which players could play a Napoleonic battle for fun with a great number of minis. The French are retreating and the Emperor is ill. 

All minis are 15mm. The Obj of the battle is easy: the Emperor, aboard his carriage, must cross the whole camp using the road on the edge of the French side. The Allies want to take him alive

For the first two turns of game the Emperor and the Guard has significant problems to move even if they can count on a 9 of discipline.

On the French right, two Corps face a Bavarian and Austrian one. The French launch their cavalry against Austrian units but they are not able to create an hole. 

A detail of a Barian unit approaching to the field and ...

... a French cavalry unit

On the French left, the Poles keep the Prussian troops at a distance. The Prussians continue to hammer the French line with rifle and cannon but the Poles hold the line.

The Old and the Young Guard are on the way

On the center Russian Corp try to create an hole and capture Emperor’s carriage but a fresh Napoletan force block them avoiding a catastrophic event.

A detail of a Cossack unit ... 

After 5 turns the French on the right break … Swiss troops try to support this battle side but they arrive too late.

At the 11th turn the Guard arrives laun
ching the cavalry against the first Austrian unit that try to block the Emperor. 

The match end with an Allies victory. 

Unfortunately, Guard's sacrifice is not able to avoid French army break. The Emperor is captured and sent to his exile to Elba island.