Thursday, September 22, 2016

When Fantasy & History Collide

I am a landlubber.  I am a "gut puking stench worm" as sailors named the Pilgrims on their voyage to the new world.  And yet I still find the allure of naval wargaming attractive.  Apparently I am not alone as those chaps at Dark Ops have just launched a huge mult-part ship.

https://darkops.myshopify.com/products/dark-seas-ship-of-the-line-pre-order

Designed for their fantasy series but I can see no reason why it wouldn't host a Pirates v the Royal Navy game.  The ship come apart so that you can fight in the lower gun deck, officers cabins, captain quarters and of course on the main deck.  Terrific.

Even better when they say it is the first of a series of such models.


Now why did I sell those pirates?  Damn I might have to get some more.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Grimsby Wargames Society Fun Day 2016

 The Society Fun Day is now in its second year.  The idea is that genre within the Society presents a game that is quick, simple and fun to play and offers the other members an insight into that aspect of the hobby.
Last year was terrific fun and this years event was no less a s success.
Andrew moves his British foot against Andy & Steve in the first of the four games
The historical gamers were represented by a French Indian war game grandly titled "Winners of the Wilderness" and led by me.  40mm figures skirmished through dense forests to collect various bounty.  
George explains the game to Steve, Andy & Steve
 The card players had an excellent demonstration of "Magic the Gathering" led by George.  a very good introduction to this highly popular game.
Steve & Chris lead the fun that is "Worms" with Kyle, Rob, Mark & Mike
 Tuesday night is an eclectic mix of games and genres and Steve & Chris never let us down with a fun game.  This year was no exception and they presented "Worms", a game based on the addictive video game.  Great fun to be had and merriment throughout the day.
Mike explains the game to Steve & Andy
 Wednesday and Sunday see the board gamers take over the club and this year they were ably represented by mike with "Kingdom Builder".  A short and deceptively simple game that provided distractions for all comers.
The winners - Andrew, Kyle & Andy hold their trophies with Steve and the china mug.
Of course it might be a fun day but we are all gamers and their has to be a competitive edge to the day.  for us the people who play all four of the games and comes away with the best overall score gets a prize.  This year the trophy went to Andrew with Kyle as runner up and Andy in third.  Steve took away the highly prized "stragglers award".

A great event and a great day as always.  My thanks to Malcolm for organising the whole thing and my appreciation to all those who came along and enjoyed the fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

War of the Spanish Succession "The Action at Wittersheim"

Last nights game was based on a scenario from Barry Hilton in issue 298 of Wargames Illustrated.

A Franco-Bavarian force has to take the road through the pass in order to attack siege positions around a nearby town.  In addition they should aim to capture the church, on a small rise, to use as an observation post for the forthcoming attack.  They have a strong force of ten French infantry battalions, including four guard unit, six Bavarian foot and twenty three squadrons of horse (fourteen French & nine Bavarian).

The Imperial forces attempting to stop them consist of six Imperial foot (only five actually arrived on the day but one of the units arriving was a composite grenadier battalion classed as elite), six large Dutch battalions, fifteen squadrons of horse and six of dragoons.  they also have four field pieces. 
Action on the French left as the Dutch press their advantage
The game turned out to be a real examination of the rules and a steep learning curve for the Franco-Bavarian commanders.
The Bavarians on the French right soon gained the high ground and captured the church with the Imperial troops being unusually slow to advance as they wanted to keep a unified line with their Dutch allies.  This allowed the Bavarian horse to engage the Imperial horse and after one brief and inconclusive melee to have both sides withdraw,  this withdrawal effectively gave the Bavarians control of the ridge as they narrowed down the operating space for the horse by lining the ridge with foot.
Bavarians capture the ridge and control the church
 When the Imperial foot did get into action it was obvious that their commander must have been suffering from some sort of malady.  Their firing was poor and the morale of the individual units proved to be very brittle with some retiring from the fight after a single round of musketry.  The fight went out of the imperial foot and their lines withdrew from the assault.

View down the lines from the Bavarian flank
On the French left the allies were having more success.   The French commander was sending small units of infantry to try and stop the waves of Dutch.  Having sent all of his horse on a wide encircling move, the French commander soon found himself exposed to a long line of infantry that began to envelop his left flank.  The French also found out that individually the deeper formations of the french were outmatched by the platoon firing Dutch in a wider, shallower formation.
This was one of those games where you wonder if the rules are right.  so uneven was the firing that the French first line was pushed back very quickly.  However, the second line of the French proved more steadfast and forced the dutch first line back.  
In the end though it was the reluctance of the Imperial wing to advance that forced the allies to concede.

The rules do make it difficult for the deeper formations to go one on one with a platoon firing battalion.  What normally happens is that casualties are in favour of the platoon firing unit and a small morale adjustment for suffering the continuous fire results in the deeper formation being thrown into disorder and then retired first.  However, if they can get a two to one advantage the results are far more even with the platoon firing unit suffering more casualties and withdrawing first.  When they do, it is the second line that then stops the deeper formations and causes them to withdraw.
It's been a long time getting this to the stage where both sides are happy.  The smaller frontage units are more maneuverable and should be able to gain a numerical advantage.  The wider units are more steadfast and take longer to wear down.

The other change last night was to experiment with an idea I've been playing with for a while and brought to the fore by a recent article on the Warfare Miniatures website by Barry Hilton.  the idea is that, in this period at least, guard units were not the elite reserve that they became later.  The guard units of all nations were thrown into the fight and often in the first line.  There is no record of them performing any better or any worse than the line units that they were alongside so why do we elevate all their characteristics?
In this game the guard, and grenadier, units all retained their morale roll bonuses but were firing and fighting with the same benefits as the line troops.  
The outcome was quite pleasing.  They were no longer able to sweep away all opposition with a few volleys of musketry.  However, they proved to be very resilient and able to withstand the enemy fire.

My thanks to Mark, Andy, James & Ashley for the game.  Imperial troops from Andy, Bavarians from Ashley, dutch from Mark & myself, french from my collection.  All scenery from the Grimsby Wargames Society.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

New Editor announced

We are pleased to announce that established contributor and well-known wargaming veteran John Treadaway will be taking over command of Miniature Wargames.
John will continue to offer the same popular mix of hobby articles and wargaming news, along with looking at new and exciting features with a view to making the magazine even better than before.
From the November Issue (on sale 21st October) we will also be redesigning the magazine with a fresh and exciting new look, which will also include a brand new 16-page section covering all things fantasy and sci-fi.
This is an additional section and will not detract/impact on your regular historical content. Even more content and all for the same price!

I wish John every success.  He acknowledges he has big boots to fill and the fantastic job Henry did in turning the ship around.  He now has to take it on to new heights and in a different direction from the course previously steered.
There have been a few comments already about the magazine and this direction.  I'm prepared to wait and see what comes.  After all an editor can only publish what he is sent so if you don't like the content write something you do like.
What I do find disappointing is that no where in the announcement is there any acknowledgement of what Henry achieved.  No thank you.  No appreciation of his hard work and efforts in righting the sinking ship.  
For me that says a lot about how the owners of the magazine view their editorial staff.
So, from one long term reader...Henry, many thanks for all the hard work and effort put in during your tenure as editor.  A job well done and much appreciated.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Painting Progress from the Weekend

No games played this weekend and so in between some chores I could settle down to some painting for the first time in some weeks.  I have been managing a half hour here and there but with real life getting in the way along with some (self inflicted) problems with my knees, access to the paint room hasn't been all too easy.
Right now I have the last two Dutch battalions sat on my desk.  I tend to paint in batches of 6-9 figures at a time which means that I used to frequently forget what figures go where on the bases.  Sometimes that meant having to prise them off the bases to realign them as the unit progressed.  I like to have them stuck down because it looks like progress and gives encouragement to getting more done.
So now I place all the figures on their bases and attach them as I move along.  Doing two similar battalions at a time also gives me a guide as to who goes where.  Also, since I do them in batches I can vary the hair colour with each batch and then randomise that as they get stuck to their final bases.
Both battalions are from the Ebor WSS( http://www.eborminiatures.com/) range and represent their Dutch infantry.  I've written enough about the Ebor figures in the past so I won't repeat myself.
Ebor do battalion packs and that is how I tend to buy mine - in bulk in one go.  The problem with battalion packs (from any manufacturer) is that they never match my requirements.  frequently they come in 18 or 24 figure bundles which means I have to order the other 12-18 figures needed separately because my battalions are so much bigger than the "norm".  Somewhere in that ordering process I appear to have come up short and over the purchase of the four battalions I've done found myself two figures short.
Fortunately I had two figures from the Crann Tara (http://www.cranntaraminiatures.co.uk/) that Graham sent me a while ago (after I kept saying how nice these looked).  Two sergeants in overcoats now stand in for the missing figures.  I've painted them as though the overcoats are naval issue since the Dutch were a naval power.  In style and size they are a good match for the Ebor figures being slim and proportional in design.  They are also a joy to paint with definition being clear and crisp and no flash.  If i wasn't so heavily involved with the WSS Graham's War of the Austrian Succession range would be a temptation too difficult to resist based on these sculpts. 
All in all a reasonable amount of painting done.  Eighteen figures completed and attached to their bases, nine varnished and drying and, the last nine block painted and waiting for highlights.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames

How do you write an announcement without it sounding like an obituary?

Henry Hyde has announced that the next issue of MW, issue 402, will be his last as editor of the magazine.  See the link below for more details.

https://www.facebook.com/MiniatureWargames/?fref=ts

Henry has been someone I have respected for a long time now.  He first entered my wargaming life through the "Old School Wargaming" group.  Then more significantly as the editor of Battlegames.  More recently as the editor of miniature Wargames.
Now he has determined that the position of editor is not something he can continue with and it's on to pastures new.  I have no doubt that he will succeed in his new ventures and career.
Whatever happens from here he will have my support because I have come to know Henry as a friend and a darned good one at that.

Good luck Sir!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Ramillies Restaged

Saturday 27th August saw the culmination of a project I have been planning for a considerable time.  The Grimsby Wargames society has several players who have an interest in the War of the Spanish Succession.  That interest has led us to collect a large number of figures, for a wide variety of manufacturers, for the period.  Saturday was one of the few occasions when we can get most of these on to a tabletop and fight a large battle.
As the title of the post says, the battle for this occasion was Ramillies.  Arguably Marlborough's greatest victory.  The battle pits almost evenly matched numbers of troops against each other in a confrontational engagement in almost a classic style.
The view an hour before start as the final figures are put in place.  Ramillies is in the centre left of the photograph.
Together we combined nearly 5,000 figures.  All in 28mm in battalions of an average figure strength at 32 but varying from 30 to 54.   Squadrons of horse we kept to approximately 6 figures no matter the nationality.  Overall we had seventy battalions of foot and one hundred and fifty squadrons of horse.  Eighteen field pieces completed the on table deployment.  The table was twenty two feet in length and six feet deep (extending to eight feet deep along one edge).
The first wave of the French horse with the Maison du Roi in the front.
 Six players turned up for the event, a reduction from the original estimate and a little cause for concern since each would have a large number of figures to command.  But the rules are quick and very brutal so the numbers would be reduced very quickly as the game played.
Bavarian foot from the paintbrush of Ashley.  Very nice they looked and they performed admirably on the day.
 The Allied and French commanders were given individual briefings and a range of additional victory conditions.  These were chosen to try and reflect some of the key events of the actual battle without removing the players desire to fight the battle their way.
English horse and dragoons from Mark.
 With plans set and decisions made the game started with a fairly tentative advance from the Allies.  A short move forward to allow more of their reserves to appear.  The French watching without committing anything.  The Allies had decided to move most of their second line over to their left before the game started.  These duly began appearing and series of large cavalry melees commenced on the flat ground around the village of Taviers on the banks of the Mehaigne.
with Tilly on the allied left conducting marching exercises to try and confuse the French.  The French saw a large gap opening and began a descent from the slope between Offus and Autre-Eglise.
This did rather denude the right flank of the Allies and despite the best efforts of Tilly to disguise this (he marched his troops left and right for a large portion of the morning to cover the gap) the French took advantage and began an advance.
Just one of a series of large sprawling cavalry melees that were fought over the course of the morning.
Neither side could gain an advantage initially with their horse.  The first melee sucked in almost half of the French forces.  Unfortunately the Allies kept delivering more and more reserves and overwhelmed the French in the end.
Bavarian foot deploying into lines.
 Time had been gained though to have the Bavarians deploy and close off some of the open ground.
 The confused fighting on the ground between Ramillies and Taviers continued all day and only cleared as the Dutch guard slowly marched forward clearing everything in its path.

Robbie, James & Ashley wondering how they lost to Mark & Mike
By the end of the day the Allied right had been defeated but the victorious french were not in a position to exploit that.  The Allied centre and been pushed back across the Petite Geet.  but most telling was the French right which was on the point of collapse and a hoard of reasonably fresh Allied cavalry poised to exploit the advantage that would have been presented.
A close run thing and a marginal victory to the allies based on the number of victory conditions fulfilled.

The rules were our own "Corporal John & the Sun King" set.  Quick, simple and brutal which reward historical play and punish unhistorical tactics.  Easy to understand and with three players unfamiliar with the rules there was little need to discuss them after a few moves.
Figures from the collections of Mark, Andy H, Ashley and Andy S.
Scenery & layout from the extensive resources of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

A terrific day and a great looking game played in a friendly and well mannered way, despite the lack of spots on Robbie's dice.