Wednesday, June 30, 2010

San Istaban - June 1810

Another in the ongoing engagements between myself and Neil in our Peninsular War games; and another attempt to play a game of Napoleon to a conclusion in a single session. We at least gave ourselves the advantage of a Sunday afternoon to try this time, and stuck to modest forces of 200 points each. This meant Neil's usual force of 6 regiments of foot and 2 of heavy cavalry.

For me, I was able to introduce my newly painted artillery, at the cost of several regiments of foot. I had to hope that the farm ahead of my position could serve as a defensive strong point; knowing he would come on hard and fast, I intended to retire on my guns and allow his attack to wither.
And so the French came on in their usual way, what else could one expect, in fact a couple of his regiments held at the rear initially, whilst his cavalry manoeuvred on the flanks. My artillery had play with his troops, whilst my infantry addressed their lines to the defences.

The French began to unleash their attacks, a handful of Riflemen luring their cavalry into an abortive attack on the farm - believing my troops to be outside the farm, when in fact the bulk of the troops retired inside when advanced upon. The highlanders formed a square in case the French persisted. But it seemed the cavalry were more inclined to let the infantry undertake the work of the day.

British musketry and artillery sought to disorder the approaching French ranks but at this stage their resolve remained firm.

The French threw out skirmishers and tried to approach the heavy guns, on my far right their cavalry were drawn away in a delaying action by my own light Dragoons - who knew eventually they would have to face the cuirassed foe. The French centre now attempted to cross a well defended field border; but it was to be a prolonged action.

Generals Cameron and Picton took personal charge of the front lines for the British.

The British continued to retire, and the French centre pushed them hard. But finally it began to crumble. Now however the British had not unreasonable concerns for the perilous position of it's cavalry.

Two French regiments broke and fled in the face of the thin red line and associated guns firing at point blank. The French general released one of his other regiments from the attack at the farm to fill the gap, but at the same time hos cavalry chased off the British light dragoons and turned on the flank of the now terribly exposed British artillery battery.

As the British retired from the farm the French cavalry looked to secure the day, destroying the Artillery and approaching the infantry; the British were able to establish a deadly enfilade for on regiment at least but the other remained a threat on their flanks.

As evening fell neither side had the definitive upper hand, on paper the British tactics of delay and diminish the enemy had worked. But the French could have turned the battle with a little more time. Had they concentrated their cavalry on the British right they may well have took the field swiftly.

Again, a good tactical game, however Napoleon again proved itself rather too slow to play to achieve a satisfactory result in the time available. We had a total of five hours and were playing the smallest possible game we could justify, and still were some way from achieving a victory by the definitions of the rules. This more than any other aspect of the rules disappoints me; I've spoken before on how they are at times vaguely written, but it is the sheer length of time they take to run that spoils them.

By comparison our next Napoleonics game will use Black Powder; we shall see how that goes...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lumpin Crook's Figthing Cocks

My take on a classic Dogs of War Regiment of Renown.

I don't have a lot to say about these chaps, they are done in the usual fashion, though the basing is not a perfect match for the rest of my army, as the second hand models were based already.

A handy little unit of about a 150 points. With 8th edition on the way soon, it looks like my Dogs will need some more big units of decent troopers and possibly some new character options. It all remains to be seen though...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

RIP Paddy Griffiths

Sad to say I found out through wargamery channels that Paddy Griffiths, author of many intelligent revisionist military history and tactical books, has died.

He wasn't especially old, but it was apparently related to an operation; damn shame.

Paddy produced any number of books which commend themselves to the wargamer for reading, not least as he does a very convincing job of shooting down a variety of well loved myths about tactics and weapons technology. His books are readily available via Amazon of course but also by his own website:

Paddy Griffith Website

I particularly enjoyed and recommend the following; though I'm sure others will be of interest:

Forward into Battle was his classic on military tactical development since the Napoleonics; and goes a long way to destroying the myth of the superiority of the weapon. Not everyone will agree but Paddy's argument that leadership is far more important than technology is strongly argued and for me convincing.

Also known as Rally Once Again in the USA; this concentrates on the American Civil War; dispelling the notion that it was fought at distance and dominated by rifle fire. He gives fascinating grounds for it turning into the static - almost trench like - warfare of the later years of the war.
Paddy made technical information readable, and always found a good argument for his case. His insight will be missed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bonchuang - June 1944

British infantry supported by a Matilda II tank advanced on the shallow crossing of the river at Bonchuang in central Burma. Knowing that the Japanese had a limited disposition of infantry on the opposite bank.
Nonetheless amongst the Japanese defenses were anti-tank guns and as it would turn out a few cards up their sleeves.

The initial British advances were able to move freely, although a squad accompanying the Matilda was caught unawares by a well concealed Japanese machine gun; to some losses.

The surprise to the British however was the grumbling of distant engines, revealed to be an entire squadron of Japanese light tanks. They used terrain cannily to ovoid the British armour and began to play merry hell with the advancing British infantry.

At about the same time an aerial skirmish broke out, where a novice Zero pilot was downed by a skillful Hurricane. In classic form however the Zero pilot dived his burning and crippled fighter into a British six-pounder position, destroying it utterly in a kamikaze attack.

As the day closed, the surviving British called on their armour and air power to attempt to stall the Japanese counter thrust, but ultimately destroyed only one Ha-Go tank, for the virtual decimation of their infantry attack.

At the conclusion of the day the British and Japanese were both exhausted, with substantial infantry losses, however the Japanese were sweeping around the British flank with their remaining tanks and held an anti-tank gun and light artillery detachment in reserve. The British armour was left with only a handful of infantry to support it and the one British attempt on the river had been repulsed with the loss of a Bren Gun carrier and it's troops.

Another closely contested Battlefield Evolution game. In future I will be adding some form of antiaircraft defence to the Japanese, perhaps in preference to the fighter cover which again failed to impress, despite having the good luck to crash on top of an enemy position! The Japanese armour performed admirably as a group and at a mere 330 points represents and excellent battlefield choice.

Another good game, but next time we should try it with a fully jungleified table, for something really challenging...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Guns of Farsumagru

So there is no point hanging around with this, as these models were a really quick job; finished in parallel with my British Artillery.

The aim with the model cannon was to emulate the appearance of Renaissance artillery, whilst also trying to mask the (to me) obvious provenance of the various parts to a much later period. In the raw the model looked very disjointed. But I'm more than happy with the painted result.

The crew are Dogs of War originals, and were a simple job, though close scrutiny of them suggests that another base coat of yellow would have made them look tidier. I only added a few details, and tried to unify the look of the miniatures as much as possible.

Hopefully, after the usual first-game jinx, these chaps will out perform the generally uninspiring Dwarven mercenaries...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dogs of war expansion in progress

A little teaser of some work begun on adding to the Dogs of War, for too long they have had to call on Dwarven artillery, that bore all the hallmarks of being made for export (i.e. it performed terribly!)

A combination of spare parts from several sources and some plasticard scraps saw me build this little beast. Thanks to a gift from Jason (I can’t call it a purchase after what he charged me!) I have crew for this and several other guns, Including a galloper gun I intend to build soon.

There are also the Norse to be prepped, and another new race to add to the army, stay tuned to find out which in the coming weeks…

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Victrix Artillery Ready

I got hold of the Victrix British Foot Artillery a few weeks ago, a little after their official release; and was able to assemble and paint them pretty quickly.

The figures themselves are typical of the Victrix fare to date. They hold the usual detail and have caricatured faces bristling with expression.

The cannons are by contrast simply excellent, with in-scale wheels cambered outwards, drag-chains and all the fiddly detailing carried out finely. As you can see there are options to build howitzers as well as 6 and 9 pounder cannon.

Unlike metals, the plastic allows you to build a great variety of crew activities. Within my battery, each gun is a vignette of it's own with differing actions going on. You get 15 crew in total, but I found that with the size of the guns, four to a base was the only practical option, when basing for Napoleon.

On top of this there are three limbers and a variety of other options available on the sprues.

All in all an excellent value set allowing a plastic artillery battery to be assembled for around half to two thirds the price of a metal one.

However I also find myself with three spare Napoleonic field guns in metal. So what to do with them to make any use of 'em? Well As it happens, the guns were suitable for most nations, but not the British themselves. A quick trawl of the net and the Front Rank website provided a cheap enough solution. The clue is in the picture...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hillindon 1643 - a Black Powder battle...

Having umm'd and ahh'd over the merits of different periods and models, I plumped at the last minute to try Black Powder with my large ECW collections the other week for a Sunday game against regular Napoleonics opponent, Neil.

The scenario was essentially a working of two of the CS Grant scenario's together. Off table reserves and hidden deployments. The Parliamentary army under sir William Waller was given the simple task of seizing and holding the high ground above the town of Hillingdon, thus dominating the enemy lines of communication.

To undertake this task Waller could call on 6 regiments of foote, with a pair of cannon in direct support; along with four regiments of horse. Waller was aware that the enemy had stronger horse on it's way to the field and so was intent upon taking a strong position as swiftly as possible.

By contrast the Royalists under Sir Ralph Hopton could present only a thin line [or a single brigade in BP parlance] to face the Roundheads; though one equipped with two cannon already well placed on the high ground.

The Parliamentarians deployed in traditional order and began to advance upon the hill.

Their progress was slow and at times disorderly, with units not always taking their orders; but nevertheless a general advance was made upon the ridge line. The Royalists were prepared to wait however.

When push of pike finally began the Royalist regiments were able to hold the Parliament front line, thanks to their high ground and steely determination. Roundhead cavalry was however able to charge down some of the king's artillery whilst their Forlorn hope outflanked it.

On the opposite flank, Wallers cavalry began to turn the flank of the Royalists; but in doing so also caught sight of further Royalists deployed behind the hill.

As it transpired another brigade of Royalists stood ready in the valley east of Hillingdon. The brigade on the hill had by now broken and was making a orderly but concerted withdrawal in the face of the Roundhead advance; but with a fresh enemy sighted and their infantry somewhat tired, Waller tried to give his cavalry encouragement to attack.

Alas, his cavalry was unreceptive to such orders [standing fast on failed orders in the valley for three crucial turns]. Elsewhere a reserve regiment followed its own law and set off back down the slope to return to the Parliament lines [two blunders in succession!].

Shortly thereafter the Royalist Cavaliers appeared and raced to the scene of battle, covering the withdrawal of the exhausted heroes of the hill top delaying action. They crashed into the Roundhead lines carrying unprepared infantry before them.

It wasn't until the Parliament horse intervened that the battle line stabilised; but by this stage the sun was setting on the field, and the worn troops of Waller could only stare at the reorganising troops of Hopton in the valley; guarding the road out of Hillingdon and so holding the upper hand.

With Neil as Waller and myself as Hopton, I admit I had the advantage of knowing the situation of the scenario; however I was powerless over the precise arrival time of my horse [in fact on turn 6 out of 10]. Also, my foot reserve felt no urge to advance on his troops, having orders to lure the enemy to them. So it was essentially for Neil to make and take the initiative.

As it was, his troops failed to advance with real drive [setting brigade commanders at a rating of 7 made it realistic, but too easy to fail command rolls!] and so the delays cost him the chance to really exploit my piecemeal defence.

Overall the rules worked fine for the period. I allotted a typical infantry unit a firepower of 2 and a close combat value of 6, but gave them the option of forming pike stand in a manner akin to the normal rules for a square. In the pikestand formation the unit can reroll to hit against a charging enemy and does not count as having flanks (though it does have a rear, due to the positioning of the musketeers behind the pikes). Pikestands however cannot shoot, and can only move forwards a maximum of one move at a time.

Cavalry were treated essentially as normal, but the use of special rules from the book allowed for the differing tactics of the two armies to be presented. The Parliament cavalry had pistols and an unenthusiastic charge, whilst the royalists were hasty and eager and had to order a charge if any enemy were potentially in range.

All in all a good balanced game and a sign that the Black Powder rules will cover the 17th century as well as the 18th and 19th, with very little modification.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gripping Beast plastic Vikings

Only recently released in the UK, I picked up a box of these the other week.

Gripping Beast's early metal Viking miniatures are a large feature of my old Viking army, and I was surprised and excited to see their first plastic miniatures released.

£18 gets you 40 rank and file models and 4 command models, plastic bases, printed banners, a brief painting guide, even a nice print of the cover art work.

The models themselves are produced to the very highest standards. The separate command frame allows for some personality, whilst the rank and file frames contain 10 poses and a good variety of equipment allowing for spearmen, swordsmen and double handed axemen.

Obviously at this stage I've not assembled any of the models, but on the sprue they appear more animated and natural than the Wargames Factory Vikings released a month or so ago. Also in price terms these are much better value (for the UK purchaser, at least).

In terms of accuracy, an initial scan gives me no concerns. GB advertise these specifically as Hirdmen, the well armed and armoured 'professional' soldiery of the Northmen; and that they are, most if not all wearing mail armour and with plentiful helmets, shields and spare weaponry.

Overall, I'm really impressed. One box will provide me with a new unit for my Viking army, and a unit of 20 Norse to add to my Dogs of War army. A great deal, and models that I am looking forward to painting.

And I'm sure they'll be a huge success for Gripping Beast.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Imperial Reinforcements

Nothing to do with 40K! Instead my Japanese get some valuable reinforcement in the form of a supply of tanks from the ever reasonable Frontline Wargames. These are not the most detailed resin models by any stretch of the imagination, but Frontline have a wide range and at about £4-5 each they represent great value.

I added two more Type 95 Ha-go’s and a Type 1 Ho-Ni tank destroyer to my forces. The biggest challenge was to attempt to match the New Ha-go’s to the old one, which I painted with enamels some years ago. I managed to get most of the colours more or less right, though the base green has a slightly darker, bluish note to it than the original. Still a layer of dust and dirt does a lot to even out the effect, and the new models blend in well in the end.

Crazily, the Japanese could easily field all five of the tanks I now have within a 1500 point Battlefield Evolution army! This partly reflects the new squadron rules for tanks in the Pacific War supplement, but also the fact that light tanks like the Ha-go are very cheap and brittle units (sustained machine gun fire could take them out!). I don’t know if I could bring myself to do that to Steve’s Brits, but swarming his Matilda with a squadron of Ha-go’s is definitely on the cards.

Alternatively I can throw a Ho-Ni tank destroyer at him instead; with it's (ahem) 'massive' 75mm cannon.

Should be interesting...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Massive May Pledge Total!

OK, so May, for whatever else it bore, was a good month on the painting front. Lots of part finished jobs from April kicked it off well, and these were accompanied by some easy little projects which scored high.

The first Items I'll report are a couple of Hat Sherman tanks I knocked off; one for me and one for eBay (with a supporting section or two of men). They are the later M4A3 models Hat produces IIRC and the detailing, including machine guns is far better than the original kits that form my old US armoured company.

This one above is based loosely on a vehicle that served on Iwo Jima in 1945. I particularly like the little Elephant painting. One of the Joys of US armour is that the crews frequently added little touches like this and the names of sweethearts to the tanks. As you can see this one also sports the packs of it's support troops hanging off the back; a common sight in photo's of the period.

This model is more generic, and a slightly different shade of green; it feels a bit too blue, but looked OK with a pasting of dust. It's destined for eBay and so has no specific Theatre in mind. Notice however lots of dirt.

After highlighting the basic paint scheme, I then drybrush metallics where the paint would suffer wear, then the lower part of the model get a partially dried out splattering of reddish brown for fresh dirt. The whole model then gets a couple of progressively lighter dustings of sand yellow, lightened with beige, to give a good dirty summer finish.

The two together; showing extra details on the rears.
Other than these, I also managed in the course of the month:

8th Ligne - 24 points of 28mm figs
13th Light company, Generals and Artillery - 27 points of 15mm
48 points of 20mm eBay Germans
2/10th Regiment - 24 points of 28mm figs
FW190 - 10 points of German aircraft (images later)
30 points of 20mm Japanese armour (images later)
20 points of 20mm US armour (see above)

So a massive total of 183 points, making a running total of 460 versus a target of 250. Also only 58 points of those weren't for my own collection. So that is well up too!

June looks like getting off to a good start too; but more on that later, and as ever progress can stop at any point...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sunday Diversions

An entertaining game of Warhammer saw my Dogs of War face Jason’s Vampire Counts. Jason was apparently playing a soft Vampire army, and for most of the game I was indeed having the better of it. My usual magic and cavalry heavy force limiting Jason’s options.

Jason wasn’t getting much of his own way with the magic phase, most notably when one of his vampires was sucked into a pit of shades on turn two. However it all turned around for him when his Dire wolves, led by another Vampire managed to get a flank charge in on my headquarters. The collapse of that unit sent the rest of the army scattering to the four winds and left the field firmly in the hands of the Vampires.

One thing that is apparent is that I didn’t get enough photo’s to produce a worthwhile narrative to the game. Elsewhere I was struck by the simple delights of five inch tall cardstock Napoleonics; they have a simple charm and may become part of a future club display game.