Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Malburians on a Monday

This gaming lark is getting addictive.  Another Monday and another game at the Grimsby Wargames Society.  Back to the War of the Spanish succession this time to test the new rule amends again.  It was also a chance to review the figures that I will be taking to Partizan in a couple of weeks for a game I am involved in.  More of that later.
 Slightly increased size for the French with a traditional deployment.  Ten battalions in the center and two on the left to help support the out numbered French horse there.  Some more French horse placed on the extreme right.
 This has to be one of my favourite photographs of the year.  Massed ranks of figures on good looking terrain as the French lines close with the first line of the English.  I hadn't realised until it was too late that Mark had placed his Foot Guards in the first rank.  The musketry duel was decidedly one sided.
The more numerous French did cause the English first line to fall back with the, now depleted, French then engaging the second line.  Whilst the French volley fire was comparatively ineffective their morale was resolute.  Twelve consecutive morale checks passed of eight or more needed allowed the French to continue advancing.  
 Even the French horse on the right were holding their own against the foot.  This was never about the French horse winning but trying to hold a battalion in place whilst the infantry in the center did their work.  Unlike other rule sets t is not easy to et horse to engage steady foot and once they the advantage only lies in the first round.  To pin the foot the horse had to be sacrificed.
 On the left it was never a real threat and the French held off the Dutch despite losing all of their horse in the process.
 In the center the lack of effect from the French muskets began to tell.  No matter how steadfast the French were the fact that they couldn't reduce the English told in the end and one by one the French battalions began to fall back causing disruption and a lack of cohesion that in turn allowed the English to reform and return to the fray.
As the right flank crumbled and the center wasn't going to be won the French had to withdraw and cede the field to the English.

Another good game against my long term opponent Mark and his Anglo Dutch forces.  Whereas in previous games Mark had always felt that the three rank units had the advantage, this is the second testing of the rule amends and the second time that we've had a much more balanced game.  The French with their smaller frontage can still get two to one but the effect is not so devastating and the morale not so easy to pass (despite my good rolls in the middle of the game).

Very pleased that the club rules are working again for a balanced game and now I can start to concentrate on making them a more public friendly copy.  My thanks to Mark for bringing his figures along and giving my French a work out.

The vast majority of the French will be at Partizan on Sunday 31st May.  They will be taking part in a large multi-player game organised by Graham through the "A Military Gentleman of the Eighteenth Century" forum and group.  There they will be joined by other contingents from the many and various collections of the members including some very well known and respected gentlemen of the hobby.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Monday Night Action - the Battle of Hope

Probably better subtitled as "Bob Hope and No Hope".

Another week and another game at the Grimsby Wargames Society.  This time a 15mm Seven Years War game with all of my completed Hessian and Tony's terrific collection of Prussians and Austrians.  The rules of choice - Black Powder Last Argument of Kings.  Yippeee.
So my two brigades, one Hessian and one Prussian deploy either side of the small hamlet of Hope.  All my horse: two regiments of Kuirassier, one Hessian heavy horse, two dragoons and one Hussar are massed on my right flank.  The plan being to push the Austrians back on my right and hold the left using the wood on my extreme left and the village to protect the Prussian infantry flanks.  Simple. 
 Until that is that the Prussian commander rolls for a blunder and immediately decides to advance as quickly as possible towards the enemy.  Exposing his left flank to the Austrian cavalry moving, out of sight, around the rising ground to the Prussian front.
 Meanwhile on the Prussian right things aren't going that well either.  The cavalry are refusing to move towards the Austrian lines and the Hessians are extremely slow.
 The Prussian foot are now being ridden down by the ever increasing numbers of Austrian cavalry pouring over and around the rising ground.
 Finally the Hessian foot get into action but it is all a little too late as their Prussian counterparts are destroyed.

 A couple of photographs of my Hessians.  Old Glory figures with flags from Maverick Models.  They don't look too bad considering that half an hour before the game I had decided to throw them down the stairs as I was leaving the house.  Apart from a few bent bayonets and one cavalry standard snapped off I got away lightly.
However, my painting pales in comparison to the truly lovely work of Tony.  I only got a couple of close ups of some of his horse but they are magnificent.
 I really like the way that everything is black lined and the manner that this technique sets off all of his colours.
The good thing about the game, and one that is really apparent from the first photograph above, is how difficult it is when playing on a big table.  With no table edge to protect the flanks, that extra width makes a difference in the way that you have to think about your flanks and protection.  As a result of not table edge half of my Prussians were left with no choice but to turn and face the enemy.

And this brings me to the bad.

Solid lines of infantry should be able to hold off any enemy cavalry to there fore.  Where the infantry have secure flanks there should be only a very slight risk of the enemy horse breaking the foot.  Except that we're using Black Powder and the horse have all the advantages.
Unless you roll a six during the closing fire to cause a disorder it is more than likely that the horse will hit home.  Once they engaged the foot the melee advantage to the horse is huge and almost invariably results in the foot retiring only for the horse to charge in again.  With the same result.
It should not be the first thought of a cavalry brigade commander to charge headlong against the enemy infantry lines.  But unfortunately with Black Powder this seems to be the best choice.

Funnily enough my opponent has other concerns.  He really dislikes the fact that if you fail an order the units do nothing.  For me that is a counter balance to the ability of units to leap forward and undertake three moves in a single turn.  Oddly something I quite like about the rules.

For me it is the firing and fighting mechanisms that need attention.

But all this may be a moot point.  The original decision to use Black Powder was down to a number of players who were familiar with the rules (albeit with very different interpretations).  Several of those members are now looking to adapt our War of the Spanish Succession rules for the SYW.  Huzzah.

My thanks to Tony for giving me such a drubbing last night, but also for providing much food for thought.  Good games are not about the winning or losing but the fun to be had and that was the case last night.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Love it....Hate it?

There's an interesting and thought provoking thing going on with at least a couple of other blogs (http://gloriouslittlesoldiers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/love-hate-relationship.html & http://steve-the-wargamer.blogspot.co.uk/) which has prompted me giving some thought about me and my  five likes and dislikes in the hobby.

So let's get the bad out of the way first, and in no particular order;

1. I dislike the current vogue of having the same rules thinly disguised as new rules for other periods.  Let's not be shy about it but "Black Powder", "Hail Caesar" & "Pike and Shotte" are the same rules, albeit with minor amends, to make Warlord loads of dosh.  Worse the actual rule content of each is about a quarter of the (expensive) book.

2. Players who either; use the rules to their advantage without giving their opponent the same courtesy or, players who take great delight in taking advantage of their opponents failings and, who then get upset if it happens to them (usually accompanied with an increase in volume).  It's a game so let's play nicely please.

3. Unpainted figures on the tabletop.  Those bare metal figures are not the 88th Foot or the Old Guard - until they look like the unit they are just lumps of metal (or plastic if that's your bag).  Give your opponent some respect by at least making an effort to paint your figures - a badly painted figure is better than bare metal/plastic one.

4. The proliferation of non-historical periods.  I'm not talking about Sci-Fi & Fantasy here as provided by GW and their like.  It's things like "A Very British Civil War" a period that has generated a whole host of historical figures, books and rules.  It's not a period - the mid twentieth Century is a period.  AVBCW belongs in the period of fantasy.  Play it, enjoy it but don't give it the honour of being an historical period.

5. Small periods in small size.  I am a big battalions man.  Dyed in the wool and T shirt to boot.  I don't understand why you would downsize your figure in height but keep the same figure ratio for a period that is relatively small in size.  If you want to go smaller then decrease the figure ratio to improve the spectacle.  For periods where there are relatively few combatants increase the size of the figure.  To quote the Irregular "It's all about the figures".

So what about the good?

1. The help and encouragement that gamers give freely to others.  I've got friends all over the globe and they all help in developing my understanding, creativity and ability in the hobby and for my chosen periods.  I wouldn't be the wargamer I am today if friends and other wargamers hadn't helped along the way (should that be under the bad things above some may wonder?).

2. The ever expanding range of things that I used to have to make for myself.  I no longer need to spend hours cutting bases (badly).  I can now purchase MDF bases cut to the same size and in proportions I've requested.  I no longer need to make flags that look as though a five year old has drawn the heraldry on it.  Spears are no longer just pieces of brass rod cut to length - they now have shaped spear heads.  Fantastic.

3. The rise of the plastic figure.  Whilst they are not always my cup of tea personally, I am grateful that they are there because it now means other wargamers can collect those armies in large battalions with a reduced expenditure.  My desire for big battalions and large games is within the budget of newer arrivals to the period and thus not so off putting to join in.

4. Painting figures.  Okay it can be a chore and hard work at times.  But the reward for spending that time is a unit of figures that looks good on the tabletop.  A unit that looks like it's historical counterpart.  I'm not a great painter but I'm getting better with every figure I paint - and that's what I like.

5. Putting together large multi-player games.  I really enjoy the umpiring and organising of large games where players who have different periods of interest come together and have a good day of playing a wargame.  Emphasis on the game part.  If I think hard about it, some of the best games I've been involved with are those that I've not played in but organised and umpired.  There's a buzz you get when others have fun doing something that you've created.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Monday Night Action at the Grimsby Wargames Society

I actually managed to get a game this week and all that despite it being a Bank Holiday (or should that be Public Holiday now that Banks are open?) along with a full day at work.
French to the left
 The game was a War of the Spanish Succession outing meant to play test a couple of rule amendments that hopefully negate the steam roller that the three ranked units have unintentionally become.
Royal Italien and Picardie face the English
 What we have been finding is that two three rank units are frequently facing a single two rank unit and winning decisively.  Principally because, although the casualties are reasonably even (because a three rank unit is a prime target), the accumulation of those casualties isn't.  The two rank unit suffering catastrophic losses in a single turn - i.e. a quarter of their strength in a single phase of firing.
French officers boldly lead their men forward
 So the first amend was to include the battalion gun crew into the strength of the unit they were attached to.  Adding three to a unit may not seem a lot but it does help to reduce the chance of that catastrophic loss - something that used to happen even when the regiment was at full strength in the first round.  we expect to see it happen later in a firefight and that proved to be the case last night.
And now the Dutch, on the left of the photograph, get into the action
 The second amendment was to impose a morale penalty on units facing two rank units.  For the sake of simplicity we decreed that units in three ranks would be using salvo or volley firing, whilst their opposition in two ranks were using the platoon system of firing.  Over simple perhaps but easy to use.
The effect being that, whilst the number of casualties suffered by each side was fairly even, the morale effect of facing a continual wall of fire wasn't.  So a simple -1 to the morale for those facing a unit using platoon firing has been added.

French cavalry showing their usual martial spirit and routing after fighting a melee
 Last night the French, who used to roll over the first line and then pummel the second line, were forced to use their staff officer to motivate the units that were becoming disorganised as their morale failed.  I liked that and it kept the game interesting.
Royal Italien spent most of the night in a farm house waiting for their chance
 The French last night had eleven battalions facing eight Anglo Dutch regiments.  Front lines were four French to two English.  The expectation would have been for the English to be forced to retire disorganised in the second phase of firing.  the French would then advance to the face the second line and then retire themselves after two rounds of musketry.
You'd have thought that the French had enough men - should have sharpened their swords though.
 The revised rules changed that.  The English did retire after two rounds but only because they were reduced in numbers.  Increasing their numbers slightly meant that they were not disorganised.  Additionally the French couldn't advance since the effect of the platoon firing meant that one of the battalions was disorganised and thus an advance would have disrupted their lines.
English lines are being reduced but retaining their integrity
The game was another defeat for the French but this time the English deserved it and were able to keep the pressure on the French lines - something that has not been the case in previous games.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Progress & Projects

March & April are a bit of a silly season for me at work.  Factory audits are frequent and time consuming (averaging one a week at the moment).  Every body wants fish at Easter so the factory is at its very busiest which means a need for increased attention to detail.  Throw in unwell relatives who demand attention and taking my son back to University (why does he leave packing until the morning he departs?) and it's just not going to lead to getting to the club for a game.

 But I am on occasion allowed to escape to the painting table for some peace.  And it's a bit of an assortment at the moment.  I've decided to take a break from the WSS for a while apart from getting some command stands completed.  Instead I'm spending my time in the Seven Years War.  40mm French Indian Wars & 15mm Hesse-Kassel.
 These are the last three Indians which I've got to the metals stage.  Figures are Sash & Sabre.
 Another command stand which will be used for my WSS collection and is required for the "A Military Gentleman" forum game at Partizan in May.  The idea for the game is to bring together some of the wargamers who have bought a copy of John Rays fabulous book of the same name, each gamer providing a number of battalions and squadrons.  This stand is the one I'm choosing to represent me - overweight and needs to be shouted at since he's a trifle hard of hearing.
Behind him are the first of the figures for the British infantry contingent for the 40mm project.  All have the flesh and hair complete. 
Just to the left are the next lot of cavalry for the 15mm project.  At the back the second squadron of Prinz Wilhelm have been based and, to the fore, the squadron of Militz have been basecoated.
 The Hessians are based on the troops deployed at Hastenbeck 1757.  However, I have decided to use the 1760 uniform so I can take advantage of the presence of fusiliers (regiments No1 & No2 were converted into fusilier along Prussian lines).
So far I've completed the first four battalions and one squadron of cavalry.  The infantry are all Old Glory and the horse a mix of Old glory & Blue Moon.
 The Lieb Regiment lead the way.  Flags are from Maverick Models (excellent service and quality from Stuart).
 Hessian horse didn't wear the cuirass so I've used the dragoon figure for the heavy horse. 
I do quite like painting these figures.  Enough detail to make them presentable without being a chore.
The entire project will consist of twelve battalions, eleven squadrons and six guns.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Monday Night Game

Last night my long term opponent Mark graciously took the field against my French at the Grimsby Wargames Society.
This was the first opportunity I've had to use the newly created Regiment Clare and two of the recently revamped battalions of Alsaace (see earlier posts).  Fielding eleven battalions of French (and Germans, Italians & Irish) I had a serious advantage in numbers of foot over Marks seven English & Dutch.  But what you gain with one hand you lose with the other and Mark provided five regiments of horse and dragoons to my three regiments.  Those dragoons were to be a source of annoyance all night.

Revamped Alsaace in the front line.  Those new bases look okay.
 Having the advantage in foot I decided that the best course of action was to try and overwhelm the enemy centre.  so deploying a couple of battalions to protect my right flank the majority of the foot lined up across the field from the English.

Three lines of three ranks

The extra base does not make a deal of difference when placed against other units in terms of height at least.
 The front line of the French advanced boldly forward and met the English across some undulating folds in the middle of the field.  First volley fire went decidedly in favour of the English (as did the second and third).  Whilst the number of hits wasn't significant on the French their return fire was desultory to say the least. 
The Irish go into action
 The issue with large bases of multiple figures is that it gives a deceptive appearance to both sides.  Units can be on the brink of losing a third of their strength before it is realised they are starting to look shaky.  In the photograph below both battalions of Alsaace are actually almost a third below strength compared to the English battalion which is at two thirds strength.
This deceptive appearance was to prove critical at the end of the game.
Alsaace in action
 Mark decided to retain his first line in the action despite being at two thirds of their original strength.  The fourth volley from the French saw both of the English battalions retire in disarray, although the French weren't in much better shape.  Numerous disorders prevented the line from advancing and allowed the English second line to come forward with aggression.
 Meanwhile of the right flank the Dutch and French just looked at each other.
 Now those damned dragoons began to make their presence felt.  Having dismounted and occupied the large wood in the middle of the table they began to pepper away at the French.  This distraction saw one battalion of Alsaace flee and brought another French battalion to less than three quarters strength in a few short rounds.
 Having little choice the French were forced to fall back on their second lines.  The dragoons following them up and applying more pressure on the right hand battalions.
 My son had taken the entire left flank command (three regiments of horse and three battalions of foot).  All night he had been battling across the table against the English horse, eventually clearing all the opposition but just a little too late.
At the end of the game the English were reluctant to advance against the French line which appeared quite strong.  The reality was that most of the French were depleted in numbers and disordered.  A final moral test saw the French bravado crumble and the army retire from the field.

Another good game and whilst the outcome was more of the same for the French - defeat - a highly enjoyable night at the Grimsby Wargames Society.  so my thanks to Mark for bringing long his English & Dutch and to my son for taking part.
Club rules used as always.  We may need to revisit the morale tests to prevent the three rank units being quite so dominant but more on that in another post.
Apologies for the blurry photographs - hand shake due to a cold I'm afraid.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Base and Figure Design part 2

Once the Burnt Umber had dried the bases get a very wet quick brush over with a chocolate colour.  Then a damp brush over with a coffee colour (make mine a mocha).  Finally they get dry brushed with stone.  I use cheap craft paints or test pots for these stages.
 The bases are now almost blended in to the original stands although there is a ridge where old meets new.  To help combat that I added static grass in patches to the new bases.  This included pushing the grass into and over the ridge to blend the two together in some cases.

To apply the static grass I dilute PVA 2:1 with water and then scatter the flock over the top. Press down with finger and thumb and leave for a couple of hours.  Tap off the excess and, if you're feeling brae, blow over the base to lift the grass - I didn't.
Finally I placed all the different flora on to the bases.  Small clumps of green and dried sedge like material to lift the grass.  Some red, white and purple flowers and heater like clumps.  A couple of pieces of gorse and some shrubs with autumn leaves to bind all the bases together.

 Antenociti's workshop provide my static grass, red and white flowers and the leaves.  Everything else from Tajima One.

A couple of these battalions will be on the tabletop on Monday night for a game against my long term opponent Mark.