Monday, November 16, 2015

Hohenfriedberg - the Grimsby Way

Every year Tony of the Grimsby Wargames Society organises a large multi-player Seven Years War game.  This years event was based on the Battle of Hohenfriedberg.
Fifteen players from a variety of backgrounds were duly assembled, some having travelled almost the length of the country to attend, and battle commenced.
 Each player was given approximately fifteen battalions or the equivalent weight in cavalry to command.  This was probably the largest game we've ever held for the period with more and more members creating forces - all in 15mm.  Somehow I managed to end up overseeing the fortunes of a brigade composed almost entirely of my own figures.
An overview of the table giving an impression of just how many figures were involved.  
The Prussian plan was to have the massed cavalry on the left sweep away the Austrian cavalry and support the infantry attack in the center.  This infantry attack was to be lead by me with Andrew on my right a move later, then Shaun a move after that.  Meanwhile Tim & Chris would refuse the left and prevent any incursions from the enemy.
 Needless to say that the plan failed from the start.  The Austrians cunningly did not deploy any cavalry opposite our massed horse.  Just lines of infantry.  Instead their horse was in the center facing me and on our right opposite Chris.
Further issues were raised when the cavalry brigade immediately failed to get orders through and instead began to drift behind my lines.  This meant that any ambitious advance of my infantry risked exposing their left flank to the waiting enemy cavalry.
Fortunately for me the enemy decided on a headlong charge into my lines.  Repulsed with difficulty the enemy horse did manage to delay the advance and allow their infantry to begin a slow turning of our left.
 Sensing the delay on the left, Chris and Tim instead turned onto the offense and began to push the enemy back to their own start line.  So effective was this advance that the enemy reserve was committed to prevent a collapse here.
 The Prussian lines did manage to get into a firefight with the enemy eventually.  A long and tiring engagement ensued with fresh units being committed as the first lines were worn down.  Ultimately it was the sheer number of fresh battalions that the Prussians were able to use that turned the day.  The Austrian Grenadier brigade facing me proved particularly difficult to remove but it seemed to collapse in just in two turns.  One turn saw all the musketeer battalions break and the next all of his grenadier battalions followed.
It was at this point that the Austrians conceded the field.  Unbeknownst to me three other Austrian brigades had also collapsed and large gaps were appearing in their lines with nothing to plug them, the reserves committed to holding up a rampant Chris & Tim.
My massed cavalry support commanded by Andy & Ashley had spent most of the game looking at the enemy and were prevented from being used in anger by a determined line of Austrian infantry.
Similarly a large number of Austrian horse had spent the game riding up and down the enemy base line looking for an opportunity to be used.
But this was a Prussian victory won by the infantry.  And a darned hard job it was too.
All the figures were from the collections of Tony, Steve (who didn't play but kindly let us use his toys), Andy, Malcolm & myself.  Terrain from the collections of the Grimsby Wargames Society apart from two delightful scratch built buildings from Tony (that I Forgot to photograph - sorry Tony).
Rules used were Black Powder Last Argument of Kings with a couple of house rules regarding movement (everyone could make at least one move to prevent any player from having nothing to do all day) and deployment (Austrians forming line are disorganised for a move).  Despite my worries/fears/dislike of the rules the game was played in a good spirit.
The cast, left to right - John hiding behind Rob (not Ross as I called him for most of the game - sorry), Mike, Andy, Steve obscured by Andy, Malcolm, Chris, Tim, Shaun, Andrew & Ashley.  Missing from the picture is our game organiser Tony and the victorious Prussian commander Andy H.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Cock Up....But do you notice?

I've been inspired lately to get another stalled project finished.  My 40mm French Indian Wars figures have sat in a box gathering dust for too long and it's time they were brought to the fore.
So having just twenty four figures to complete I've set to with a will to get them on to the table. This last batch will represent the 28th Foot and go along side the Iroquois, Provincials and French Colonials already done.
Partly inspired after watching the "Sons of Liberty" TV series (and evidence that it's not just Mad Mel Gibson that dislikes the English) I think that is one of the reasons I've made the errors that I have.
center companies part finished
 Now a question I posed to another forum was "do I confess to the error?".
center company and officer part finished
 I now wonder if I should go back and correct the errors or just leave it and concoct some back story as to why they are as they are.
drummer complete
Can you spot the four errors in the figures - and I'm not talking lace detail here, they're much more obvious than that? (If you have to Google the answers then it doesn't count...I'm looking for whether it's obvious to my reader)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Monday Night is Victory Night

With the big November game looming and a need to refresh myself on the rules I organised a Black Powder game with Tony.  The first time the newly completed Hesse Kassel 15mm Seven Years war force have been on the tabletop in one go.
Grenadiers & Fusiliers
 Three brigades of foot.  One of two composite grenadiers and two fusilier battalions.  Two line brigades each of four battalions.  One Kuirassier brigade of five squadrons and one brigade of six squadrons of Dragoons.  Six field pieces and assorted command to finish.
1st Brigade
Several comments were made about why are the units so small.  The answer is that I've created them at a figure to man ratio of 1:20.  Throw in some research about organisation and that's why.  Unlike others I do like to keep the balance of history versus playability.  Not adding units because "they're nice" or effective or oversize because the rules allow them to be.
We may play games but we do so with games based on historical records and facts not historical fiction (Black Powder rules excepted).
2nd Brigade
 Tony brought along his very nice Austrians.  Two brigades of infantry each a mixed formation of line and grenadier battalions and two brigades of horse, mixed formations of dragoons and kuirassiers.
 Having a superiority in artillery I elected to use that and wait for the Austrians to attack.
 However, that meant the Hessian horse would have to keep the enemy horse occupied and prevent my flanks from being exposed.
A task that was easier said then done.
 Dragoons on my left flank were disposed of in short order.  Five small units of dragoons were no match for two units of the enemy.  The Austrian Kuirassier regiment carved through three small squadrons of Hessian Dragoons like a knife through hot butter.  Quickly reducing the brigade to broken status as the Austrian dragons inflicted sufficient casualties to reduce two Hessian squadrons to shaken status without actually breaking them.
Line infantry
 On my right flank things weren't much better.  A bold advance from the Hessian Kuirassier followed by a blunder enforced retirement surrendered the ground to the enemy.  In the subsequent melees the Hessians found they had been issued rubber swords whilst the Prussian commander had inspired his men.  The enemy seemed to roll nothing under 3 whilst I struggled to roll anything above a 3.
Needless to say that the Hessian Kuirassier were soon another shaken brigade.

Cavalry melee
 In the center things were better.  A significant amount of uncertainty in the Austrian lines allowed my artillery to take a toll before one brigade of the enemy closed to musketry range.
Austrian Brigade closes
 The following exchange of fire was brief.  Once again a substandard issue of powder from the Hessian quartermaster was almost disastrous - twenty one dice without a single unsaved hit.  TWENTY ONE!
The end
 Fortunately by the time the second brigade arrived the slow accumulation of casualties on the Austrians took their toll and the first enemy brigade retired in their entirety.
At that point and with half the Hessians still unengaged the enemy gave the field to the Hessian commander.

My thanks to Tony & Don for providing me with a game.  All the Austrians were from Tony's magnificent collection.  Scenery from the shelves of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

Black Powder, as has been recorded in my blog before, is not my rule set of choice.  A number of players in the club last night were giving advice about how best to achieve a better performance.  All the advice seemed geared to adapting the historical tactics to the rules rather than the other way around.
Infantry advancing to the enemy in column of march doesn't feel right.
Designing brigades so that the loss of units cannot cause a brigade to become shaken.
Increasing unit sizes to make better use of the rules despite the actual size of their historical counterparts.
All things I do not like and whilst not specifically stated as permitted in the rules also not specifically prohibited either.  And before anyone writes in - I know the players are just as much to blame when they take advantage of poorly written and designed rules.

I like simple rules but only where the rules reward the employment of what we believe to be historical tactics.  My belief is that we start with the history and design the rules around it, not create a set of rules where history has to be adapted to them - which is the problem where, as with Black Powder, the core rules cover several hundred years of ever evolving technology which needs subsequent (expensive) rule books to accommodate them.

Whilst last night was a win it left a sour taste and me wondering whether to sell the 15mm collection and concentrate on those periods that I joy.

I was inspired to paint the Hessians after seeing the fantastic work that Tony put in to his figures.  I leave with a close up of one of his Austrian units (it could have been any - they are all equally superb).  My work doesn't even get close to his standard.  Just stunning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Great Northern War Rules Run Through

Having spent some time away from the Grimsby Wargames Society it was nice to get back there last night for a game.
It also seemed to be a good opportunity to put the figures that I've been working on recently out on the table and to play test the first draft of the rule amendments for the Great Northern War.  Mark graciously agreed to help in this.
The game was as large as I could make it given the limited numbers of figures available.  So we had;
Swedes - five battalions of 32 figures, five half squadrons of dragoons (six figures) and two light guns.
Russians - eight battalions of 24 figures, five squadrons of horse including two of grenadiers, two light guns.
The Swedes formed up between two low ridges with the horse massed on their left.
 The Russians had the majority of their foot out in the open with just two battalions out to the left behind a low ridge.  Horse massed on the right.
The two sides quickly sent out their horse to match off with the aim of exposing the enemy flank once the opposing horse had been cleared.  The rules that I've amended from our normal War of the Spanish Succession set gave a first round advantage to the Swedes.  Unfortunately for my opponent this had little impact and the Russians drove off the Swedes in reasonably quick time.
Equally in order to simulate the aggressive tactics of the Swedes their were similar advantages applied to their foot.  The ability to advance when disordered helped those battalions under Russian artillery fire.  A first round melee bonus gave the Swedes a decided edge when matching off one to one against a Russian battalion.
 Where the Swedes were faced by two or three battalions it wasn't quite so straightforward.  The advantage still lay with the Swedes and the result was the same but it was a much harder affair and more balanced.
Eventually though the constant pressure from the Swedes told and the Russian center broke.
 Out on the left two Russian battalion in line were able to hold off the advancing Swedes.  The higher proportion of muskets in the battalions proved to be more than the Swedes could handle.  By the time the Swedes had got into contact they were depleted sufficiently to be bounced off the Russians.

Overall I was happy with most of the rule adjustments for the GNW.  I've made provision for the aggression of the Swedes and this seemed to work okay.  The fighting value of the Russian foot in the open was downgraded (no field works on this time but Russian foot in a defensive position have better melee values).
The only thing I will change for now is the morale of the Russians.  I had initially reduced it if the foot were in the open facing the Swedes.  But, whilst it may reflect the reluctance of the Russian infantry to face the Swedes - thinking Friedburg where they reversed their coats in the hope of passing themselves off as Saxons - it is a bit of a double whammy.  In the next draft I think I'll leave it as is and see how that goes.
One last shot of the Swedes.  The rear battalion is based in the old style whilst the lead is in the new "three" rank format.  Both 32 figure units.  I like the new style even more now and am enthused to get back to the paint table and get more completed.

My thanks to mark for being such a good sport and trying out the rules with me.
All figures are from my own collection and scenery from the bulging shelves of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Disguised Scenario

Having a number of days annual leave accumulated and a need to use, my good friend Mark agreed to take part in a large game yesterday.  Wanting lots of figures on the tabletop but not wanting to carry heavy weights it made sense to use our considerable 15mm Napoleonic collections - my Austrians against Marks French.
The scenario used was based around the Battle of  Hochkirk 1758 where Fredrick was surprised by the Austrians under General Daun.
Mark took the role of Fredrick and deployed his men along the valley floor almost as per the 1758 map below.
The French order of battle:
1st brigade 4 battalions of guard around Rodewitz
2nd brigade 4 battalions of line south of Rodewitz
3rd brigade 4 battalions of line north of Hochkirk
4th brigade 4 battalions of line south of Hochkirk
1st cavalry brigade 2 regiments of Cuirassiers, 1 regiment dragoons & 1 hussar regt. between Rodewitz & Hochkirk
2nd cavalry brigade 2 regts dragoons & 1 curassier north of Rodewitz
3rd cavalry brigade 1 regt curassier & 1 dragoon in reserve to arrive turn 2 + 1D3 opposite Rodewitz on the French side of the table
The table at the start of the game with the Austrian advance guard approaching the village of Kurpritz.
Austrian order of battle:
Advance Guard 1st brigade 4 battalions of Grenadiers & 2 battalions of Grenz (on table)
Advance Guard 2nd brigade 4line infantry (on table)
3rd brigade 4 btns line arriving turn 2 + 1D3 SE corner
4th brigade 6 btns line arriving turn 3 + 1D3 NE corner
5th brigade 4 btns line arriving turn 5 + 1D3 W side opposite Hochkirk
6th brigade 4 btns line arriving turn 3 + 1D3 E side behind Advance Guard
1st cavalry brigade 2 regts cuirassiers, 1 regt dragoons, 1 regt Hussars arriving turn 2 +1D3 SW corner
2nd cavalry brigade 1 regt curiassier, 2 regts dragoons, 1 regt hussar arriving turn 3 +1D3 NE corner
 The French were allowed to activate if they rolled 1D6 and scored less than the turn number or if they were within 350mm of any enemy. As it turned out the northern most french cavalry started off quite quickly and moved around Rodewitz and then headed south for the Austrian advance guard.
Then the first of the Austrian arrivals began to appear and some panic set in in the French lines.
 The Austrian Advance Guard turned north and tried to pin the French Guard between the approaching arrivals from the NE corner and themselves.
At the same time the French dragoons were now holding the Austrian 6th brigade with a series of charges against the columns.  No casualties to either side but effectively stopping the Austrian advance.
 The Austrian 4th brigade secured Rodewitz with some ease due to their superior numbers but crucially failed to break the Guard infantry holding the village.
french reserve cavalry arrived on cue and despite being outnumbered two to one held the Austrians in check for almost the entire game.
In true Austrian style the line brigade of the Advance guard then became bogged down in the center of the table.  Fearful of crossing the stream to face the waiting French cavalry they were subjected to some intense artillery bombardment and eventually broke without firing a shot.
 To the south of Hochkirk the Austrian cavalry pinned the French infantry allowing the Austrian infantry to advance to within close range.  But here again the remorseless french artillery firing resulted in the lead two battalions being destroyed.
it was only the charge of the Austrian Cuirassiers that saved this sector.  Breaking through the French lines caused the two brigades of French in the area to rout.
The Austrian advance guard had also had enough.  French guard infantry and artillery were sufficient to see the Austrians rout under relentless artillery fire and an inability to break the resolve of the French.
At the end of the game the French had lost Hochkirk and Rodewitz, were being pressed hard in the Northern sector.  The austrians though had lost three brigade of infantry in doing so and blown nearly all of their cavalry.
Not quite the success that Daun had in 1758 but it was an Austrian victory.  Just.

A really good game and my thanks to Mark for putting up such a sterling defence and for making it a cracking day.

I think I got it just about right with the French activation although I could have wished for the Austrians to stop rolling high numbers for their arrivals and delaying the impact.  as it turned out though it was a good game and the outcome in doubt until the very end.

Rules used were the Grimsby Wargames Society own and the game played at the club with their scenery.  Figures all from the collections of mark and myself with a little over 2,500 toys on the table.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sad News

I have learnt today of the passing of the highly talented illustrator Bob Marrion.

I understand he had been ill for some time and my sympathies now lie with his family.

Like many of us there are numerous titles on my shelves that are evidence of the talent that Bob had and he will be missed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Busy Workbench

A tidy desk shows a tidy mind.

No it doesn't.  A tidy desk shows someone with not enough to do.
On the workbench right now we have:
Top right  corner the third Swedish battalion in the process of being rebased.  Twenty three figures have been placed on their new bases and the nine new figures to be added are in black undercoat along side them.
Immediately in front of them is the second battalion now with filler and sand applied to the groundwork of the bases.
Bottom right of the photograph is the last of the Hessian 15mm Dragoons.  Twenty four dragoons and a few staff.  All glued to card strips ready for undercoating.
Top left is the other squadron of the dragoons in the white primer ready for painting this week.

I've promised to have all the 15mm Hessians completed by the end of October because they have been committed to a large SYW game in November.

Once the dragoons are complete I've just two guns and crews to do and we're done.  So fifty pieces and we're finished.