Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hail Caeser in 10mm

A number of the guys at the club last year started to get involved in the ancient period but in 10mm.  Principally Imperial Roman legions taking on a variety of barbarian hordes.  Having always had a desire to own a Roman legion I took the opportunity over the festive period (well actually a bit longer but not overly) to put one together.
Inspired by the Roman and Dacian Wars book I reviewed in an earlier post I bought Trajanic legionaries from Magister militum and boosted them with some Old Glory auxiliaries.  The end result is a full legion of ten cohorts, with six supporting auxiliary cohorts and four mounted auxiliary units plus sundry light troops.

Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix
 Last night these took the field for the first time against John and his Britons (with some Gaulish refugees). 
First cohort - oversized and counting as a large unit under the rules.  screened by Moorish javelinmen
Mounted auxiliaries.  Old Glory with Magister Militum command figures
 The Romans made full use of their artillery as the enemy continually struggled to get their orders through and made hard work of advancing towards the Romans.  Only in the centre did the Britons put together a concerted attack.
The lines are drawn.  Roman to the left.
 It seems that in previous engagements the barbarians had learnt to use a massed attack against the Legion and were quite successful in doing so.  Having learnt from this the Cohorts this time closed ranks and comprehensively defeated the warbands.
The Roman centre division engages the enemy
 The centre of the field was soon in Roman hands.  The Auxiliary cohorts holding the Roman left were less impressed. Half of one division was overwhelmed and the remnants forced to retreat.  It was only the covering fire from the second auxiliary division that prevented the entire flank from being broken.
As the Roman centre continues to advance the massed hordes begin to sweep around their left flank.
If the Britons had more command ability then the game would have been very different.  Whilst the Romans showed that they can more than hold their own in the melee they also demonstrated their weakness - the sheer numbers of barbarians allow them to envelope the flanks.  So for me the Romans need to either find a position where the flanks are secure or to attack quickly and throw the enemy back before the flanks collapse.  Both options are difficult when the enemy keep slinging stones at you in great numbers.

An interesting game overall.  In one night I managed to change the perception that the Romans were an easy target for the warband.  Quite why no other Roman player had chosen to the Close Rank option in melee is a puzzle (obviously commanded by nobility and professional soldiers).  The enemy went from an all out massed assault to "I'm never charging Legionaries again" in a matter of minutes.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Workbench

I've agreed to participate in a large multi-player game at Partizan in May.  Organised through the "A Military Gentleman of the Eighteenth Century" this game will involve a number of players bringing along a selection of units from their collections, which for me means my French War of the Spanish Succession.
To complete my commitment I need to furnish a new unit.  Having painted enough white, grey & blue figures last year I've plumped for a red coat unit.  Regiment Clare one of the Wild Geese units (and the only one to appear at the battle of Ramillies).

Red coats, yellow cuffs, yellow waistcoats & breeches with white stockings should make for a good looking unit. 
So on Saturday I prepped twenty four figures of the thirty six figures.  Twelve of those have now been completed to about the half way point.
 Clothing has reached the point where I need to apply the final highlights.  Lacing has been base coated and washed with a non-oil based wash.  Hats & musket stocks blocked in.
  The drummer will be in the royal livery for a bit of contrast.
I want the unit to have a deeper shade of red than my British counter parts, but not as deep as those given to my Swiss.  So I used Plum Red (from Miniature Paints) gave it a wash with Vallejo Strong tone wash.  Back over it with Plum Red and then thinned down Vallejo Scarlet for the main body highlights.  I'm now debating whether to give then another highlight or just the officer coat to be brightened up.  Yellow is a base of Mustard Yellow (Miniature Paints) with Vallejo Dark tone wash and then Mustard followed by a small amount of Canary Yellow for highlights. 
Lacing is a base of washed mustard which will have a highlight of mustard only.
All the figures are from Front Rank.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Moving Forward into 2015

It won't take much for 2015 to be a better year than last, for me at least.
So what to do with all that potential?

Current commitments are actually quite small.  I am going to be participating in a large multiplayer game at Partizan in May.  Organised through the "A Military Gentleman of the Eighteenth Century" forum and related to the fabulous book of the same name by John Ray, it promises to be quite a day.  I am to bring along a few brigades of my WSS French foot and horse (I won't reveal the exact numbers in case the opposition is reading this).
In order to fulfil my obligation I now need to complete one more infantry battalion.  Having painted enough grey, white and blue last year I'm going to plump for a red coated unit - Regiment Clare.  Additionally I need to create a command figure to represent me.  Not a bad thing because all my current command bases need to be revamped in line with the new basing style I'm using for Project Ramillies.
And that leads me to the next item on the agenda.
Following on from the success of Blenheim last year I will be planning a refight of Ramillies for later this year (and yes Robbie you will get an invite).  Date to be confirmed but even more figures than last time will be on the table.

I've also set my mind to creating a small Seven Years War force.  Hesse-Kassel who fought on the Prussian side are my army of choice.  The figures are on the way hopefully. 
Why start a new project?  Well, after the last game I was inspired by the quality of painting for a start and what to try and emulate the skill displayed.  Also I think it unfair to try and influence the rules and style of play if you don't actually participate in the period.

Other than that? 

Well we have the Great Northern War to contend with.  Last year I rebased some battalions but I'm still not happy so will revisit that later.  Hopefully.
I will continue to paint figures for the WSS.  To that end I've purchased a Dutch brigade to boost the Allied armies which are in danger of being outnumbered and in short supply of Dutch infantry.  These will complement my Danes who will be rebased this year in line with my French.

I do have a plan to try and reduce the figure collection by selling off some of the figures that are not being used.  So some dramatic choices may have to be made in the coming months.  At the same time my book collection is over spilling and making it difficult and at times dangerous to access parts of the painting room.  Some of them will have to go too.

Lastly, I am committing myself to play more games.  High hopes indeed.   

Monday, January 05, 2015

Last Game of 2014

Having managed to get some time off over the festive period, Mark & I decided to have a small game.  A division of my 15mm Austrians faced off against the veteran brigades of France.
I fielded three brigades of foot (each six large 48man battalions) and a division of cavalry formed from a brigade of dragoons and a brigade of hussars.  All supported by three batteries.
Mark opposed me with four brigades of foot in two divisions and a division of horse including a brigade each of cuirassiers & dragoons. 
A view down the Austrian lines
 The battle was for the control of a small pass in a line of hills.  Woods covered the approach to one side of the hills for one player and two hamlets lined the pass.
I elected to refuse the right flank where the woods and hamlets on my side of the table looked to make progress difficult.  My thinking being that if it looked awkward to me it was not going to be any easier if the enemy tried to advance through it either.  Thus one brigade of foot with a position battery was to hold the right.
The remaining two brigades would attack across the ridge to their forefront and be supported by all the horse.
Interestingly my opponent also chose to use this point as the focus of his attack.
Austrian foot capture the ridge
 It all went according to plan.  Both sides advanced into view of each other and launched a series of assaults on the lines.
In every melee the Austrians either forced their opponents back or caused both sides to fall back.  Things were looking good.  Even better the Austrian horse, despite being outclassed and facing heavier troops were holding their own.
Austrian foot repel all attacks
Repeated assaults from the French were repelled and with every move the Austrians were gaining ground.  By the middle of the afternoon one of the French brigades had been routed and the other two facing the main attack were close to collapse.  It just needed one of the brigades to fail their morale and it would be a certain victory.
The French needed to score 17 on four average dice to pass.  And they got it.
It was at this point that the Austrians displayed the disadvantage of large formations.  They can absorb a lot of punishment without seeming to be affected.  However, when the French passed their morale the Austrians were down to half strength and missing a couple of battalions.  The accumulation of casualties and lost battalions proved too much and despite rolling an average score the morale failed and the two attacking brigades broke.
Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory indeed.
Even my opponent had just about conceded the game before the start of the last move.  And he thinks himself unable to roll a decent dice score when needed!

The rules used were the clubs internal set and have proved an exceedingly good set for divisional level games.  The aim of the rules is to have the brigade as the functional unit rather than, as with other sets, getting too involved with the mechanics of handling individual battalions.  During the game a number of battalions were involved in multiple attacks - something that doesn't normally happen with other rules sets where formations are almost a one shot weapon.  What they do allow for is the attrition over a game to being to have an effect without compromising the integrity of the formation too much.

Despite the outcome I really enjoyed the game and can only thank Mark for making it such a good day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

A few more hours and it'll be Bourbon o'clock.  
So I wish my reader a Very Merry Christmas and hope that they get what they want under the tree.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stops and Starts Marks 2014

This year has been identified with some wonderful wargaming highs and some personal lows.  If 2013 was disappointing then 2014 should rightfully be, by me at least, dismal. 
However, the year was saved by the Battle of Blenheim.  A personal high that stills burns bright in my memory.
Staged in August we managed to get a number of individuals from all over the country to come along and play with our toys.  Ramillies last year was good.  Blenheim was even better.  A big task then to go up another gear for 2015 then (and yes Robbie you will get an invite).  Over 4,000 figures on two tables it was quite the spectacle and played with terrific humour and enjoyment from all.
The unforeseen benefit of the Blenheim game was an incentive to paint figures.  I entered the year in a painting funk and I'm leaving it the same way.  However, in the year I did manage to paint just over 400 28mm figures, most of them for the Blenheim game.  I also found a style of painting for the Ebor figures that was so hard for me last year.  Painting figure rate has declined significantly since then.
Spending was up but then again so were sales.  Over the year I think I broke even with figures bought against figures sold.  The rash purchase of the Ronin figures and additional Samurai was rectified by painting them ll and then selling them at a substantial profit.  Other sales saw all my Old Glory French cavalry go over to the other side of the pond.  These were replaced by an equal number of Ebor and Front Rank figures and a fair few infantry as well (just over half of which got painted).

One of the good things to happen this year was the joining of the "A Military Gentleman of the 18th Cent." forum.  Open exclusively to owners of the book of the same title and the brain child of John Ray it is now one of only two forums that I visit.  It helps keep my spirits up and maintain my interest in the hobby when not at the Grimsby Club.

The club too has seen some changes.  A new and improved constitution which should hold us in good stead for the need to comply with increasing bureaucracy.  Improvements to the facilities have made what was already a good place to play into a very comfortable environment to enjoy the hobby.

The lows, at least in wargaming terms, was an even smaller number of games played this year than last.  There has been a continuing trend to play fewer and fewer games over the years and this is something I need to address because it is one of the few things that I really enjoy at the moment.
Disappointingly I've also failed to deliver several of the planned projects from last year.  The Great Northern war in particular has hardly moved on at all.  Even worse, I'm looking at the project with a view to reorganising it again following the improvements and amendments with the War of the Spanish succession rules we've made this year.  The morale here must be to think twice and spend once.
Add to that some problems that prevented me, and continue to hamper, from painting.  Access restrictions aside and deteriorating eyesight not withstanding, painting figures is a problem I must overcome because I really like this aspect of the hobby (apart from painting horses which I don't like).  It is an opportunity to help me relax and focus on something other than issues outside of the hobby - therapy a darn site cheaper than what my trick cyclist charges.


And on that cheery note - I'll save my thoughts of the future for a later post.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recent reading

Not my usual line of factual historical reading I'll grant you but Trajan has always been something of a hero figure for me.  Combine that with actually seeing the magnificent column erected in memory of this campaign and I'm even more interested.
The Dacian campaign is one that has intrigued me for a long time.  From the Roman viewpoint it involved some very creative engineering involving simple pontoon bridges (if spanning the Danube can be called simple) to building a wooden road on a sheer cliff along the Danube - evidence of which still survives.  Add in sieges of strongholds on unbelievably steep mountainsides and pitched battles with cataphracts and warbands and you have the making of some interesting games.
For the Dacians you have warbands and cataphracts, a most interesting combination.  Never mind the questions around the use of the two handed sword so feared by the Romans that they adapted their armour to counter it.
This book is just packed with information about the campaign.  It claims not to be a scholarly reference work but I believe that is not doing it justice.  Full of colour photographs and pictures of the wars, photographs of the incredible amount of remains from the area and a very well thought out narrative and you have an exceedingly good book.
I'm not saying you'll see me bring along any Dacians any time soon but this book makes it difficult to resist the temptation.
If you have any interest in theses wars then this is a must for your collection.  Available through Kawanasary Publications.