Saturday, July 31, 2010

Legardelle Sur Leze 1813

Another dip into C S Grant's scenario book provided the background for another run through of the Black Powder rules between me and Neil. This time a slightly down scaled version of the Breakout scenario from said book.

The French assembled around a Bridge over the Leze river, south of Toulouse; with orders to execute a fighting withdrawal against a pursuing British force believed to be closing on the bridge. Their initial deployment was within a tight box around the Bridge, into which they squeezed a Brigade of Infantry (4 Battalions) a Brigade of Heavy Cavalry (2 Regiments) and a half Battery of Guns.

Unknown to the French was the fact that the British had found crossings either side of their position in the night, and had thrown a mixture of troops across the river already in an attempt to trap the French. First among these was a regiment of Light Dragoons who appeared in the hills to the North.

The French moved their infantry into squares On the open ground north of the road to block the Dragoons, whilst their own Cavalry divided to face expected enemies. Sadly the deployment of the French troops was cumbersome, and the British infantry Brigade arrived in close proximity to them mid-deployment.

However the threat of French heavy cavalry was enough to slow down the British, who naturally formed square in the face of the enemy. For the French though, the Cavalry was locking their Infantry from making any useful activity.

The French artillery proved equally confused, getting stuck in reed beds on the river bank. At this stage a further surprise greeted the French, as a regiment of Spanish Hussars appeared on their southern Flank!

However the Light Dragoons were mauled by French Musketry and held at arms length. But attempt to reform the French infantry failed miserably when one of the Battalions of foot blundered and marched off in the wrong direction; somehow becoming disordered in the process and allowing itself to be harried by the cavalry. Whilst blocking the French forces trying to drive off the British! Neil does like to roll double sixes!

Eventually the French were able to clear the lines a little, and the Curiassiers were able to push the Dragoons back. The Spanish Hussars made slow progress forwards, but were contained by a hail of shot from the now extricated French Guns.

On the opposite bank the French infantry engaged the left flank of the British with some success, though the other Battalion of French was forced to withdraw by British musketry.

However, the final British reserves had arrived at this stage, closing off the escape routes for the French. Two Battalions of Militia and a light gun blocked the road to the East after a long night march.

To the North the Curiassiers finally put the Light Dragoons to rout, but the French infantry were still in a confused state. West of the river the other Curiassier regiment attempted to charge the British lines, but once again they formed square and held the French at bay.

A tired French regiment also found itself flanked by two fresh line Battalions. The British cannon began to engage the French on the bridge.

At first the militia were able only to pause and offer harassment with their cannon; but soon they would begin an advance that would close the trap on the French.

As the window of opportunity for the French to escape passed they found themselves in grave trouble. The French infantry still west of the Bridge were destroyed by British musketry, and the Cavalry found themselves cut off and in sore danger.

The French infantry on the Bridge, and to the north east rushed to block off the advancing militia; but were not in time to save their artillery from being overrun. The Curiassiers proved unwilling to charge the militia, thus missing the opportunity to released their infantry from the British trap.

And so when the game ended, after eight turns, the French had failed to escape. Poor coordination had meant that too many of their troops had been embroiled in fighting the British main thrust, whilst opportunities to withdraw in order had been lost.

Another excellent game; and in response to some of the results, I'll also throw out some conclusions on Black Powder as a set of rules.

As has been said elsewhere BP is a good toolkit for games in the period loosely 1650 to 1900. It really revolves on which special rules you apply to units. For example, Neil was a little disappointed that his Columns were not the steamrollers they are in 'Napoleon'. I feel they are too powerful in 'N' but reckon that in BP French Columns of attack probably deserve the Bloodthirsty rule (reroll misses in first round of melee) to reflect their determination to get stuck in and psychological effect on most enemies.

The Light Dragoons and Hussars were Marauders - No command radius restrictions, and the Dragoons being British were obliged to charge at any opportunity. Curiassiers were heavy with +3 to melee resolution, but it didn't really help, the militia were unreliable, but I don't feel this was quite enough and in future I will reduce the combat prowess of militia units.

Overall, and there are still aspects of the rules we either forget or don't use yet, I think that Black Powder are ideal for this sort of fast moving relatively simple game. I love the fact they don't operate on a points system (though you can use one if you must), and for scenario's and historical matches they are just great. From this point on for me 'Napoleon' will serve mainly as a source book for background and uniforms.

Black Powder may have some weaknesses, but they are pretty inconsequential. It is a simple and comprehensive set of rules. And it allows good fast play with fun, believable results.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chaotic Inspiration

One of the members of our club, Dan is an avid modeller and gamer whose incredible work has featured on the blog before. The other week I got the chance to catch a few snaps of his latest project. A Ray Harryhausen inspired Chaos army...
This Medusa is a mixture of a resin Chaos demon, and a plastic Tyranid beastie. It shows off well his level of invention.

A nicely finished Cylcops; though I have my doubts about two eyebrows for one eye; I think the blame lies with GW not Dan.

Lastly, one of his rank and file, a Greek detailed demon, with heavy use of scenic basing as is standard for Dan's work.

I hope to get a chance to see this lot when they are finished; though knowing how competition tuned Dan's armies are; I'll probably not risk fighting them!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

North Palakata - July 1944

For this game of Battlefield Evolution we (well, I) decided to try a game of real jungle warfare. rather than the usual option of spreading a few clumps of forest around the board, we declared the whole table to be jungle except areas covered or reasonably connected by terrain templates (hills excepted)

The Japanese (me of course) opted to defend whilst Steve's Brits went on the attack. Our defense was organised around the small Burmese village, with less than half my army on the table at the beginning (including my Zero fighter - which wasn't allowed to arrive for two turns) I was to have my work cut out containing the Brits.

Initially Steve was able to throw his full weight against me. This did have certain problems for him, not least that we agreed that armour could not go in to the forests. As a result Steve deployed a column advance, figuring his tank could shield his troops from my machine gun.

And so it proved at first; I was able to destroy his Machine Gun team without loss. but few other casualties were initially caused. Steve advanced through the forest, safe in the knowledge that he couldn't be seen. We were to find this made combat interesting, shooting was restricted to one inch except over open ground, and so most ranged shooting served as only a presage to close combat.

The British advanced unreservedly. To their ultimate cost...
Part of my defence was an Assault team, with a flamethrower and, more importantly, a lunge mine - the stupidest of anti tank weapons ever! In they charged, at a point that the tanks supporting infantry had already reacted and so were unable to defend their tank. The suicide mine struck, and blew the tank, and virtually everyone around it, sky high.

Except for the chap with the lunge mine; who somehow survived!

When we recovered from laughing the game continued. Shortly after that my air cover arrived and where it could see the enemy it tore into them. Even more remarkably, it didn't get shot down by Steve's Hurricane.

Additionally My infantry were making a better fist of a fighting withdrawal through the jungle. Although we would suffer losses on closing with the British, we generally had the best of them with sword and bayonet. The British were able to gain ground in my deployment zone (their victory condition). But my reserves were, upon final arrival able to form an effective second line of defense around a larger area of marshland.

Japanese armour reached the village and relieved the machine gun team, which had grimly held on under artillery and air attack. It then began to fire on those British careless enough to be seen in the fringes of the jungle.

And so at the end of the game it turned out to be a fairly resounding victory to the Japanese, as we had contained the British with only about half our force engaged. The loss of the Matilda tank was a particular shock to the Brits, but far from the only mauling they received.

Incidentally, my current beside reading is an excellent account of the war in Burma. Anyone wanting more on the period could do worse than start with this book:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plastic WW2 Germans in 28mm

Warlord Games' Bolt Action Miniatures imprint are about to release something many gamers will drool over:

Five body poses and plenty of heads and arms. A separate sprue with all the weapons you may wish for:

More details and sample assemblies of the 3-ups are on their website

The only thing for me is the price is a little high; £20 for 25 models. Now I could probably get Black Tree Miniatures figures for that price. Obviously there are other advantages to plastic models, but to my mind price is still a fundamental one. And in this case I can't see myself being tempted...

Monday, July 19, 2010

The mercenaries of Don Cocido Montañés

Don Cocido Montanes has been hired to bring both firepower and striking force to my Dogs of War; the mercenary prince arrived with thirty men at his hand.

Don Cocido himself wears fine armour typical of the Border Princes, and sports a full length cloak as a sign of authority. The figure itself is from the Front Rank Wars of the Roses series, and was tagged on to my recent artillery crew purchase!

Don Cocido's Personal retinue of crossbowmen also wear the family colour of deep green. Deadly shots, they are otherwise poorly armed. (Models are GW Militia gifted to me by a fellow DOW player).

However it is Don Cocido's Norse bodyguard who are his real bargaining chip in seeking employ. The Kjøttkaker clan are a band of fearsome warrior fanatics, and as well equipped for battle as any Empire soldier.

(These are the first of my Gripping Beast plastic vikings; and having assembled and painted them, I can say they are some of the very finest plastic minatures yet! the mail armour and general details are finely realised indeed.)

And so with the recent Hiring of Lumpin Crook, Don Cocido Montanes and further artillery; the state of Focaccia can rest more easily in light of new threats to its' borders.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spanish Artillery from the vaults

Ordinarily it might look a little wrong, and I admit it does grate me a touch, but given the state of Spanish artillery, and the army in general, during the early 1800's it seemed acceptable for me to cobble together a Spanish battery for my Anglo-Iberian army from some guns gifted to me and some new crew.

I went with Front Rank as ever, but as there are only five poses in their Bi-corned Spanish artillery crew, I didn't want to use too many models per stand to allow for some variety. This also meant that they were a cheaper job to put together. About £15 for the battery with guns! [btw; can anyone identify the make of either gun? The big one's I like, the little one is pretty awful!]

They represent the Ceurpo del Artillery Real as shown in a previous post. Who appear to have a fairly typical blue uniform with a distinctly orange tinge to their facings and plumes. It was harder to judge the guns, but I opted for a darker blue than the British blue-grey. They are based on limited research and so purists may scoff, but at least now I can cover both flanks of my army with the queens of battle!

So what's up next; well after a little research and a question posted on TMP, I was able to find justification to get some of the amazing Perry Hussars. These chaps will soon be joining the British as more Spanish allies. It'll help balance out the quality of the thin red line, by fattening out the hopeless allied blues and greens!

Monday, July 12, 2010

More terrain

Something of a back burner of a job, but I finally got it out the way. I found a pile of the GW walls and fences in a box at the club, and so took them home for some work.

Unfortunately, there turned out to be more of them than I thought and the resultant field system is well over 12 by 8 inches. Painting the thing took ages!

Still I tried to give it a good finish, the plastic walls warrant some effort as they are quite nicely done; I dread to think what they cost, but I didn't need to worry about that. The only amendment I made was to remove a hanging ball and chain which would've restricted the use of the model in historical rather than just fantasy games.

I had a go at a Moss effect on the walls, which I'm pretty pleased wit too. The Halflings give an impression of the scale of the piece. I understand terrain is more important in the new 8th edition of Warhammer so hopefully this piece will see plenty of use...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

June Pledge

No new photo's to show for this months update, as I think they've all been on screen already.

The details are as follows:

42nd Foot Artillery Battery: 27 points
DOW Cannon and Crew: 8
Lumpin Crooks bows: 12
Japanese Reinforcements: 31

A monthly total of 78, and all for me! This results in a running total of 538 points painted, versus a target to date of 300 points.

So far July has progressed well on the painting front, though I need to knuckle down to a money spinner rather than all these bits for myself. Still more on actual output is for other posts...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

La Toulonge - Withdrawing the Guns 1813

Using fairly small forces myself an Neil gave Black Powder a try with the Napoleonics. As befits the rules I cooked up a little scenario rather than attempting to play a straight up fight as would in Napoleon.

The scenario in fact was inspired by one from an old issue of Wargames Illustrated, and revolved around the withdrawing of guns in the face of a superior enemy. The British forces were a Single mixed infantry brigade Of one Guard Battalion, Two Line and a Portuguese Militia regiment, with a detachment of rifles; and a battery of two guns under a separate command.

The British had to deploy in the middle of the table, with position of the Guns being fixed. Victory for the British would be dependant on the safe withdrawal of the guns.

The French on the other hand had two Brigades of infantry totalling 5 Line Regiments and one militia; and a regiment of Curiassiers. Their orders were above all else to capture the guns.

The only major addition to the rules was the allowance of "withdrawal by Prolong Fire"; i.e. the British guns were allowed to move back a base depth when the fired, directly back from the enemy; reflecting the guns being repositioned to the rear rather than to their initial deployment after the recoil from fire. None the less the guns would not be able to fire every turn if they were to have any hope of escaping.

The French advanced their infantry with a sense of urgency. The game allowed only six turns for them to take their objective. I had deployed the British expecting the French Cavalry to charge down our throats, but oddly Neil held them as a reserve instead, so I had to quickly redeploy the line regiments out of square; fortunately they responded to my orders.

The French columns marched forward a triple move immediately and closed the gap swiftly (we played this game with all measurements halved to make a 6 by 4 table usable)., but this left many of them a little short of range to pour fire on the British.

The British second turn delivered some fire across the French, but of not great debilitating effect. The French charged , causing the Rifles to withdraw, leaving them facing the Red line of British regiments. Another Regiment tried to reach the British Guns and payed savagely for it's optimism.

The 27th Ligne was wiped out be canister at close range, a spectacularly failed morale test (a three) saw the remains of the unit scatter back through the French lines. The Guards in the field on the British right were able to hold the remains of the French brigade facing them, But the other French Brigade was able to break a Line Battalion and as the British guns withdrew, the French looked to try and catch them.

Only now did it appear the Curiassiers were to enter the fray.

And so they might, but the Riflemen were able to disorder their formation and stop their crucial attack.

Seeing off another French Regiment the Guards advanced on the Flank of the French Militia. The Guns hurriedly forsook firing for moving at all speed, whilst the British Brigadier pleaded with the Portuguese to delay the French infantry; something they were only prepared to do by standing exactly where they had for the entire battle (a succession of failed command tests for them!).

The French deployed one regiment in line to engage the Portuguese, whilst the other made a last gasp dash to catch the guns.

And failed, although moving with some speed the Guns had executed a textbook withdrawal, and at the end of the last turn were still out of the grasp of the French.

So victory again the the British. An excellent game; that rattled along in less than two hours. Actually these armies were only a tiny bit smaller than the ones we failed to finish a game with the last time, and so on this basis we could use Black Powder to carry out larger games in an evening. With halved movements a standard club sized table is more than adequate for small to medium sized battles; though for larger games we will have to get two together or some other solution.

Tactically it seemed odd that Neil didn't lead with his cavalry, but perhaps he was afraid of it suffering at the hands of the guns. It did attack a disordered British square, but without much success.

I think myself and Neil game out of the game with a very positive impression of Black Powder for Napoleonics, it may lack some of the subtleties of Napoleon, but approached correctly, it produces a satisfying result in a reasonable amount of time, and without excessive micro management.

Great stuff!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

More Japanese Reinforcements

It actually seems a little to odd to be painting 20mm WW2 models that aren't going on eBay, but these chaps are for my own collection for once, gasp!

I became conscious in my first game that the Pacific supplement of Battlefield Evolution made larger demands of infantry numbers than the basic European lists. In my first two games I've had to run super elite Naval Landing Parties to make my 45 or so old models adequate.

To resolve this I picked up a pack of the Waterloo 1815 set of Japanese infantry - clearly manufactured by the people who make Caesar miniatures in China, same level of sculpting and everything - to make up the numbers.

From these I could add command elements and additional riflemen to each section, as well as adding a combat engineer squad (with flamethrower) and another Heavy machine gun team.

The models themselves are a mixed bunch, most are very nice and the Caesar sliding block moulding technique allows for some nice poses. However I do have gripes too.

The machine gun is over-scale and aiming very high, it's a nice pose spoiled, in general about 50% of the poses have over sized or poorly realised weapons. The worst pose is undoubtedly the 'Knee Mortar' so badly executed (he'd be lucky if any bomb he launched didn't land on the ground five feet from him, so high is he aiming) that I didn't even bother with it.

They is the mandatory figure with the rising sun banner too, but this is atrocious and really, who needs four of them? Fortunately it could be salvaged as a lunge mine, by chopping the flag off and adding some plastic tube to make the shaped charge.

Now I'm ready to undertake a proper Banzai charge, with well over 70 Japanese.

Only need to add some anti-aircraft fire and I'm sorted now...