Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Battle of Bocacara 1812

Huzzah!  More Black Powder action, and my first Napoleonics game in, well, years!

My opponent was to be Gav, taking his traditional role as the British.  It's always good to see Gav, and alongside the game we caught up and chatted amiably.

The game itself, I lifted from the Charles Grant Battlegames book 'Tabletop Teasers volume 1', the battle for the pass.  This I translated to a steep sided river valley somewhere in Spain, where a broad river offers one vital crossing at a decent road suitable for moving artillery.  Each side would be tasked with gaining control of the ford in the village.

We were trying a new venue, the Aireborough Community Gamers; a venue that doesn't generally do miniatures games, but has an advantage of space and generous opening hours.  We were able to set up a 9 x 5 foot table with my modest scenery collection and a stash of magazines and the like making the hillsides a bit more significant.  With all the time we could need to play we drew up map deployments and then set up our troops

 I of course had to take on the French, appearing on the table for the first time without need of German allies or Spanish regime troops.  Two Infantry Brigades supported by a Cavalry Brigade:

Gav's British, however, had to rely on the aid of Spanish allies.  All three of his Brigades were ostensibly infantry with small cavalry contingents.  Gav decided to deploy his Spanish on the opposite side of the river
 With our orders clear, we rolled for initiative and I was to open battle.  The French quickly seized the initiative, making rapid infantry brigade orders (a successions of five's rolled for orders) to advance to the west of the village, before the British had made any decisions!

 The British countered aggressively, but were unable to make as good going across the valley.  Their Light Dragoons became part of a confusing advance up the road to Bocacara.

 After a fast start though, the French became tied up in deciding how to take control of the village; I tried to spread my cavalry strength to occupy the village, but nobody appeared to wish to advance further.
 Meanwhile the British cavalry could not resist charging, giving the French Cuirassiers a bad mauling and falling upon some of my skirmishers in succession.  Fortunately I had no shortage of reserves, but this was an upset and a general would have to be dispatched to save the situation.

 On the opposite flank the Spanish made generally slow progress towards the ford, with the exception of their artillery.  The Spanish gunners were easily the most valiant troops they had, and their guns were unlimbered on the east bank of the river where they could sweep the opposite side with fire.

I response I was able to throw my Chasseurs over the ford in an effort to threaten their flank or rear.

 Gav was able to command forward his token Portuguese unit - the Loyal Lusitanian Legion, who took up a square formation on the right of the Spanish guns, blocking my cavalry.  Meanwhile in the village I was able to occupy the Church, and march several regiments to the river.

However, I was making no progress to the west, where the firepower of British infantry was stalling my progress.  Even as the Spanish cavalry received confusing orders and blundered to the rear.

 The British began to concentrate fire on the Church and the field to the west of it.

 The Spanish attempted to advance their infantry, whilst their guns consistently stopped my infantry from crossing the river, their fire was simply too withering.  I withdrew my cavalry to allow my own artillery to fire, though to little effect, on the Portuguese square.  By now I'd restored control in the rest of my cavalry, but the central infantry brigade was now appearing under threat.

 A brisk cavalry action between the French and British Dragoons finally saw Gavs cavalry off, and allowed my foot dragoons the chance to attack his artillery.  But at the same time my cavalry were also expended, and the West became largely static.

 The centre, and the village battle was becoming more important now, and the British made a move with a concerted attack on the church and the walled fields beside it.  Under a pressure of fire and with a lack of confidence, the French infantry at the church broke; whilst only the personal intervention of one of my generals was holding the troops at the river bank in the firing line.  But their sacrifice had at least permitted other troops the time (two full turns) to wade the deeper river and make landfall on the eastern bank.

Skirmishers tried to take the Spanish guns, but a round of canister at point blank range put paid to the attempt.  The Portuguese reformed to line and tried to hold off the French in column of attack.   In the west, my cavalry recovered, but only to place themselves dangerously in the firing line.  In the village my first brigade was now irretrievably broken and began to withdraw.

 By this stage, each side had a broken brigade, and both had a second within a hairs breadth of breaking.  The final blows would be in the desperate battle for the ford itself.  The Portuguese were broken, and the Spanish cavalry, badly outmatched by the French Chasseurs, soon followed.  Part of the British line had collapsed due to sheer weight of losses, and this allowed the last of the useful French troops to line the river and pepper the hapless Spanish infantry with fire.

Their artillery stood firm to the last but Spanish infantry could not bear the pressure and soon fled.  With two broken brigades, Gav had to concede the field, even though I too was hanging on only by the personal courage of my generals in rallying wavering troops all over the field of battle.

Glory went therefore to the French; but it was undoubtedly a bloody victory.  Both sides were exhausted, it was simply that the allies blinked first.  Certainly not everything went my way, most of my artillery sat out of range for the entire battle, and my reserve Grenadiers were never even committed, their Brigade breaking before they had even made it to the front.  

Another excellent scenario, and another good outing for Black Powder.  I used the special rules - almost without modification - from the Albion Triumphant supplement for this game, though I still feel their version of the Pas de la Charge rule is too weak, so I tweaked that up a bit.  It's good to know that I have enough models on my own to put together a decent game, and it is also gratifying to find a usable venue for longer games; I think we spent five hours on this little affair.

The next one hopefully won't be too long away now either.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Orc War Wyvern

Here's one I had sat around for a couple of years.  I picked up a Schleich dragon with a view to creating a Wyvern.  The original model cost a mighty £15, having been bought new, in an actual toy shop!

It was an appealing model, but the original paint job was not to my tastes, at least for the classic Orcish beast of war.  The model sat unused on a shelf for a long, long time however; it seeme like too much to do.

Eventually the muse and excuse to get on with it came.  I cobbled together a rider from a spare model and built a saddle from plasticard and green stuff.

 Basing was possibly the hardest choice
Then it was onto the painting; nothing special, but I wanted a decent job.  The Wyvern itself had to be green, and I was pretty happy with the colour.  Less satisfied with the bluish tinge to the wings, which just doesn't compliment the way I hoped, but it looks ok.

The Orc had a animal cloak added from the bits box, and was a swift paint job himself; not fixing him to the beast certainly helped.

I decided to try adding some blood effects to the monster; it certainly looked like it had just ripped through some poor victims, and I wanted to reflect that.

 I like the look, even if it makes the model look messy.  It is a fighting creature after all.

Another long idle project finished, and another couple of hundred points into my Kings of War Orc and Goblin army.

Hopefully it won't take another two years to get to the table.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Battle of Brampton 1643

I've managed to get a couple of Black Powder games in of late; nice to put some historical miniatures on the table again for the first time in a while.  Myself and James agreed to an English Civil War game based on my usual light modifications of the BP rules; for a scenario I took the very first from the venerable Charles Grant Scenario book.  Seriously, if you don't have a copy of it, track one down!

The scenario called for one force to defend a number of redoubts around the some critical villages at the head of a river crossing, and ideal situation for my West Country forces to face one another in.

I took command of the Parliamentarians tasked with attacking the redoubts, whilst James led the Royalists in defending them.  The scenario demanded he deploy three of his four guns to the redoubts, from which they could not move or redirect their fire.  Nevertheless , the position of these was such that the key approaches were well covered, on top of this he could deploy his final gun and selection of troops as he saw fit along a limited position.

For my part I had more infantry and cavalry, but less artillery, and would need to bring the latter to positions of deployable fire; not an easy task for 17th century guns.  I deployed my cavalry to the open right, expecting to face his Horse in return, whilst my infantry brigades deployed to storm the village defences.

My initial intent was to try to rush the artillery on the Parliament right, their flank covered by dense woodland, and then to turn on the rear of the village.  But alas my cavalry proved unwilling to the task and slow to rouse.  This allowed James to counter their advances and initially hold the advantage.  I was obliged therefore to advance on the village.


The initial attempt proved to be against the common ground on my left;  James had maintained a range of reserve regiments and began to redeploy one of these in anticipation of the attack.  However the position of his regiment in the hedged field proved unassailable; stymieing my assault.

Things progressed better elsewhere though, as my cavalry managed to force the open ground from the hands of the enemy; but effectively cross-fired by artillery as it was, were unwilling to push across it to the rear of the Royalists.  Additionally James had moved to occupy the village inn and its' grounds, obliging me to a heavy attack on the village; two regiments of foot attacking the inn whilst my forlorn hope attacked one of the enemy redoubts.


The pressure was mounting.

Having manged to cross the ground without loss to the largely ineffectual gunnery of the village artillery placements, the forlorn hope attempted to carry the day in a desperate fight.

On the other side of the village a cavalry charge against one gun was fought off with rammers and linstocks.  it took an infantry assault to take the gun, but this piece was not deployed to a redoubt.  The inn was wrested from the control of the royalists, but not without loss.  Likewise the forlorn hope overran the gun in the centre of the village; but by this time my left flank had collapsed and retired.

My chances of victory now depended on the original plan of overrunning the forest edge redoubt and threatening the royalist lines from behind.  But luck was against me.  Again James' canny use of reserves and the difficulty of attacking the dug in defences made such attempts lead only to failure. 


Eventually my cavalry broke, and with that all hope of taking control of the field drained away.  The Royalists held Brampton and its' critical ford, whilst the Parliamentarians had to withdraw and lick their wounds.

As ever, another scenario by Mr. Grant proves its' worth, avoiding the cliches of a simple line-'em-up-and-knock-'em-down game.

Personally, it's another defeat though.  I haven't won a battle in a while now!


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Scorax the Dragon - a Reaper Bones Quickie

I was able to knock out one of the new Reaper models really quickly, largely as my intention was to paint it basically black.  In the end I went with simple dry-brushed layers of purple, blue and deep red.



The basing is simple, to match my dungeon-crawl/Kobold army miniatures.  However, I am now thinking I'd like to add something to their bases, a tunnel specific scatter, coins, bones maybe...



Monday, October 02, 2017

Old War Reports 3

Still catching up, here is a brief tale of a Dragon Rampant game where Matt was able to reap some revenge for his previous defeat.

Pygmies and Ogres...

And a Cockatrice support the kingdoms of men

Meanwhile, Goblins joined the Kobold alliance

The two sides gamely approach one another (36 point game)

The Cockatrice quickly gave the men the upper hand

Proving a real challenge to fend off,
until it became stuck in a crystal forest

Big boys face off

It began to look more even as the Kobolds made a valiant stand

Outmatching human pikemen, ill-equipped to deal
with their close combat ways

Nevertheless, only the Kobold rangers survived

To endure a long chase and withering retreat
It was not as one-sided a battle as it felt at first, but out of a rare stubbornness, it went on far longer than it should.  My rangers had the only shooting left and were theoretically capable of pulling a draw.  Realistically it was a one in a thousand shot.

An enjoyable game nevertheless, as Dragon Rampant generally is.


Friday, September 29, 2017

An Iberian Interlude

TML Towers was empty for a few days, whilst the author took some 'me time' in Lisbon; thus ticking another country of the list of places in Europe to visit.

Lisbon is a gorgeous city with plenty to see and do, not to mention great weather at this time of year; which when you are British, means any circumstance in which it isn't raining and the temperature is in double figures of any denomination.

The view over the city towards the Castelo de S.Jorge
 Plenty of my time was taken up with seeing some of the local culture, arts, and nightlife.

Roman and Muslim ruins at the Se de Lisboa
 But I also found the time for some gamer activities.  I mean quite by chance I found two gaming stores.

This one open at 9pm on a Sunday night!  Civilisation!
Board games were about 10% cheaper than the UK , and many came in English or with multilingual instructions.  However, for Miniatures games, 40k, Flames of War, and so on, prices seemed to be 10-20% higher than the UK.  So at least there's one thing we have on the continent*.

I managed to visit a couple of museums with a heavy slant on my wargaming/history interests.  Firstly the Museu de Marinha, which covered the maritime history of Portugal, both exploration and military

There's an enormous number of fine model ships

Plenty of artillery to tinker with

And a hall full of preserved vessels

Including naval aircraft
 Secondly the Museu Militar, is a much smaller affair, and has the less polished feel of the sort of museum school trips seemed to go to in the 1970's.  It has several small displays relating to the Peninsular War, World War One, and the Portuguese colonial conflicts; as well as medieval armour and war art.

One of several Napoleonic War mannequins 

and some of the Portuguese equipment of the period
 But the most impressive thing in the museum would be the enormous collection of artillery, surely over a hundred pieces ranging from regimental guns to enormous siege weapons.

Part of the collection
 This gun was particularly interesting for the clear evidence of it having seen combat.  It had obviously been a victim to counter-battery fire.

Look at those dents and gouges
 There are also a range of French pieces captured at Vittoria, though I suspect the main museum for the Peninsular War is elsewhere.

See below

See above
 There was also a range of guns from the Great War, where most of the Portuguese equipment was either British or French.

A British 6 inch howitzer IIRC
Prior to the war much of the Portuguese weaponry was German, so their expeditionary divisions were equipped with allied equipment at short notice.

It's not a big or especially great museum, but the artillery collection is great, and you can get up close and personal with much of it.  For the price of 3 euros, it was good value.  I could also have took in the Museu Confletto, for the more recent military history and apparently a huge collection of classic toy soldiers; but I only had so much time to indulge.  Maybe another time.

The rest of Lisbon; well worth a visit; and for historians, there's lots of interest.

*I mean, if that's enough to justify Brexit, then good luck to you in your misguided interpretation of economics and the future.