Monday, August 18, 2014

Blenheim the Refight

So the big game is over and the ten players, five travelling guests and five members of the Grimsby Wargames Society, had a great day.  Or so they told me.  Certainly it is a relief that the day went well and the players found the rules easy to pick up and were thus able to concentrate on playing the game rather than looking at the rules.
I'm not going to provide a step by step action report, which needs a better write up than a blog post and, a more productive format.  Instead I have posted a number of photographs from the day that hopefully give some insight in to the time we spent on the figures and the fun that the players had.
 
 The large table showing the battlefield between Blindheim (far top right) and Oberglau (lower middle right).  This is a 16 x 6 foot table and was the scene of some of the most intense action.  The gaggle of officers in the foreground were latter dispersed around the various commands as the numbers of players assembled.

The second smaller table (only 10x5) depicted the field between Oberglau and Lutzingen.  This was table was a continuation from the larger one and proved equally as challenging to the players.  Troops were able to move from one to another and it came as quite a shock to some when they did.
The Bavarians defending Lutzingen on the extreme left of the French lines.

The defenders of Oberglau in the middle of the French lines.
Blindheim on the French right.  We decided to use the Danube as the table edge and moved the town slightly to give more table space in the centre where the action was going to be.


"Salamander" Cutts sent wave after wave of infantry against Blindheim.  The charge being led by the English.
The Danes were unable to breach the defences of Lutzingen despite several valiant attempts.  The initial attack was spearheaded by the Danish guard in their straw coloured coats.  Supported by Germans in Imperial service in blue.
A perplexed Anhault-Dessau ponders the situation around Lutzingen as a rather more relaxed Elector of Bavaria looks over to the action around Oberglau.
Oberglau was never threatened by the Allies who preferred to try and pin the defenders in place.  Contemptuous of this the French sallied forth and saw off repeated cavalry charges from the Allies.
Marlborough crossed the Nebel using several fascine bridges and it was the same in the game.  Five fascine crossing points were provided to the Allies to be placed where they desired in order to allow the horse and artillery to cross.  Infantry were allowed to wade through the stream.

This allowed the Allies to push their superior numbers of horse across but only in small groups.  These in turn were countered by the French.  For me it was one of the better aspects of the day in that we had a continual see-saw action across the battlefield as the Allied army struggled to get a unified effort together.
The French used their reserve to bolster the centre as Charles Churchill began to apply the pressure and cause some gaps to appear in the French lines.
Everyone smiling which is a good thing.  On the left  - Robbie (as Marlborough), Andy (as Charles Churchill) and Tim (as Cutts),  little John was a great help to all.  On the right Graham (as Tallard), Mark (field judge for the day) and David (as Clerambault).
One of the other great things about a multiplayer game is that, whilst you give the players all the tools you are unable to predict how they are going to be used.  Robbie was to be seen frequently holding his head in his hands as Marlborough was unable to roll more than 5 on two dice a number of times.  Marlborough may have been the victor on the day but he had earned the sobriquet "not enough".
Near the end the English First Foot Guards began to make their presence felt.  Here they are seen in the centre of the picture clearing a path towards the French camp (which is actually where the dark wooden panels are on the rear wall).


The Allies won but it was a close run thing and in the end only determined by the fact that the French were running out of time to draw troops across from Marsins (ably portrayed by Julian who whilst not able to get troops to go forward was able to stop troops retiring) command to fill the gaps.
Other players not named - Tony as Eugen, Mike as Anhault-Dessau, Chris playing the Elector of Bavaria and, James with a split personality as St. Pierre in the centre and also assisting Marsin on the left.  Andy H was the sideline judge.
The troops were provided from the collections of Mark, Andy H, Chris, Ashley (unable to attend but provided some magnificent Spanish troops for the French side) and myself.  Thank you all.
Thanks also to Andy H & Malcolm (was prevented from playing due to a double booking with a holiday in Florida) for building the fascine bridges specially for the game. 
I must also thank Tony for helping with the ancillary equipment of dice, rulers and signage. 

I can have no better reward for the day than to read that one of the players left with renewed vigour and enjoyment of the hobby.  Wargaming should be a fun hobby and for me the most important part of the whole thing is that all involved had a great day.

So coming in 2015  - Ramillies.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Reliability of Source Material

It's no secret that my favourite period is the War of the Spanish Succession.  It is a period that defined Britain's role in European politics and cemented the reputation of the British soldier.  And yet it is a period about which we know so much and at the same time so little.
The reason for this post springs from a question I posed on a forum recently regarding the uniform colours for drummers in the Regiment Royal Italien.  I am working from two, secondary sources, Funcken "Lace Wars" & Grants "Armies & Uniforms of the Malburian" (titles are close enough).  Neither of which states categorically the uniform for the drummers but both concur on the standard uniform of brown (maron) coat, red cuffs, red waistcoat & breeches, white stockings and yellow lace.  However, over the weekend I saw a blog that I admire depict the regiment with black lace, yellow waistcoat & white breeches.  I don't believe he states his source or reference for the uniform though.
The same blog also stated that Regiment Provence wore a brown coat.  A quick check showed that depiction also didn't correspond to my references (which is good because I'm not going to repaint my unit).
This is one of the reasons I like the hobby.  The ability to chase down information and do a little research into something that most people wouldn't have noticed or bothered about.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Fortnight to go

So what does all the frantic painting of cavalry over the last few weeks mean?

It means that the new additions for the big game look like this.  One large (and now quite heavy) Useful box full of cavalry.  Twenty new squadrons of Spanish (in white) and French horse ready to take to the table. 
Whilst they have been created to go towards Project Ramillies they will be first blooded in two weeks time.

So what's next on the paint table?
Well a busy Saturday afternoon listening to the thunder and the rain saw me prep and paint a third of the figures for Regiment Royal Italian.  The only unit I shall be producing for Project Ramillies in brown coats.  Front Rank figures this time.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Home from Vacation

It's been rather quiet on here recently but I do have an excuse.  I've been away in the States on vacation for the last couple of weeks.  One week in New York & one in Las Vegas.
New York was terrific.  Vibrant, busy, buzzing and never a dull moment.  Loved it.  Always something to do but we were in no rush to do it which was great (especially as everyone else seemed in such a hurry).  Weather was superb albeit a lot more humid than expected (and unseasonably so according to the weather reports. 
Las Vegas was overall okay.  Yes it's bright, trashy, exciting and busy.  But once you've been to the Grand canyon, seen all the casinos, done the shopping, gone to the shows the only thing left to do is gamble away your money.  After a while we found the repetitive gambling tedious and playing cards at the tables wasn't always enjoyable and certainly not sociable (people take it soooo seriously!).
 
But that's all behind us.  All that is left are the memories and the fading tan.
 
 
In front of us is the Blenheim game.  Just two weeks away now and I'm still able to offer commands if needed since a couple of players have had to be placed on injured reserve to use football parlance.
 
Saturday 16th 9am a the Grimsby Wargames Society if you want to drop in.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Away Last Week

I was always conscious that time was going to be an issue for the Blenheim game, especially since I have a number of figures I want to paint before the big day to boost the number further.  One of the causes of that was the need for me to spend a large part of last week in France visiting a couple of food companies for some new projects we are advancing.
There are many issues with the French food industry but one of them I have encountered regularly is that I'm never sure if they are trying to make you look like an idiot or whether it is actually part of their routine procedure.  The photograph below is a case in point.

 
The gentleman in the centre is the owner.  Dressed in a standard three quarter length food coat as per the norm.  To either side are myself and my account manager dressed in the garb given to visitors.  Now you tell me that they aren't taking the piss.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Blenheim Progress

So with just over seven weeks to go things are looking good.

I have the completed orders of battle and there are eight commands although we can split a couple if more people turn up on the day.  So far I have five confirmed, one on the bench and two interested parties but more are still welcome.

Along with the orders of battle I have also completed the rules for the day, all those little additions for the scenario that impact on the core set we use.  Add to that the individual player briefings are finished as well.  People who have played in my games before know that, in addition to the objectives for each side, each of the players get three or four personal objectives so that we can have a winning team and an MVP.

My thanks to the support I have received from my fellow gamers at the Grimsby club so far. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blenheim Painting Progress

Painting for the Blenheim game certainly although the figures rightly belong to the order of battle for Ramillies.  But let's not confuse matters too much.
I've recently completed another squadron of Ebor Spanish figures along with a command stand and some re based Front Rank French horse.

 
 There have been a few issues with the Ebor figures, sorted now but not at the time of painting.  One of the horse poses was very brittle at the point where hoof met base.  So brittle in fact that several of the figures supplied could not be used.  Nick very graciously sent me replacements (and the pose has been remodelled with an improved joint).  However, in order to keep on pace for the game in august I had to substitute another horse into the mix.
Close up it stands out but it is not that noticeable en masse. 
 The photograph above shows the difference that ten years of painting makes.  On the left the new Spanish and on the right ten year old Front Rank French.  In the intervening time I seemed to have learned a lot about painting faces although my approach to shading coats doesn't appear to have changed much.
 The new command base is meant to represent a Spanish staff officer with aide.  Instead I plumped for a kettle drummer for a point of difference.  All my brigade staff will be two figures to a base. 
The Spanish staff wore a blue coat with red lining and cuffs all trimmed with gold - the more gold the higher up the nobility you were.
 Figures are from Eagle Miniatures and are okay in their own way.  The faces are less defined (the generals face is almost void of features) that Ebor and Front Rank.  The hands on the drummer mere blobs.  But they still have an appeal and I may well go back and improve their appearance when time permits.
The painting desk gives some idea on the scale of the needs for the August game.  In the left middle ground are six squadrons of French horse waiting for bases to be completed.  To their right are two squadron of Ebor Spanish undercoated and waiting for shading.  On the far right are two more squadrons of Spanish horse recently prepped and mounted ready for priming.

The only problem now is that I'm going to miss three weeks of painting due to travelling for work and a vacation.