Saturday, December 22, 2012

4eme Dragoons

Present at Vittoria, the 4eme Dragoons were just one of the many regiments Napoleon committed to Spain.  My Box of Perry Dragoons was able to furnish not only the unit mount and on foot, but also a little bonus in the form of a new commander.

Complicated, but a delight to paint.  More details below.  Here's the command group in close-up:

The mounted troops are based in threes for speed of movement, but the foot troops are based singly, to suit skirmish games as well as massed battle.

Much like my 60th Rifles, I decided to convert an officer and a bugler from spare parts.  This meant using a mounted torso for the bugler, so some careful cutting was required.

With the aid of a spare infantry man, a spare Victrix head and a drum, I was able to turn the thirteenth Dragoon into a General.

This model representing Maximilien Sébastien Foy, who served in Portugal and Spain from 1808 until the conclusion of the campaign.

A handy hint for painting the Perry cavalry.  Soft drinks tops filled with a popular brand of reusable modelling clay proved ideal for pushing carefully clipped sprues in to.  Onto these the figures were entirely assembled in groups of four, whilst he muskets and horses were dealt with separately.

This much simplified the process of painting the models.

Overall, it was a large undertaking to paint all these models at once, next time I would do the foot troops separately.  But the models are the sort which could tempt me to do another box.

But that's Perry Mini's for you!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Normandy Diorama

I had an abortive attempt to run a game of Normandy Firefight at the club a couple of weekends back. As it turned out there were simply no players to try it, all the usual commitments and life issues interfering!  I did have my Germans and all of Gazza's Brits and Terrain to hand, so for no other reason than I already set the table up, I placed the models in context for some pictures.

The overall layout for a 54mm game is a 4 foot square board.  Gazza's terrain fills the space nicely.  The buildings have excellent details to suit this style of game.

Gazza's Brits move through the terrain.  Airfix British looking really rather nice when painted properly.

A German sniper team spots the Lance Corporal in charge of the attack, and takes him down...

Surviving Brits rush the house, with a Bren and a Tommy gun to give ample covering fire.

Keeping the enemy's heads down the rush across the road.  Unaware of the MG42 team in the field up the road...

The pictures look great at least.  Next time hopefully some dice can be involved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cravant 1423 Refought

"For three hours the forces watched each other, neither willing to attempt an opposed river crossing. Eventually, the Scots archers began shooting into the allied ranks. The allied artillery replied, supported by their own archers and crossbowmen. Seeing the Dauphinists were suffering casualties and becoming disordered, Salisbury took the initiative and his army began to cross the waist-high river..."

The battle of Cravant was fought on the 31 July, 1423 south of Auxerre between an Anglo-Burgundian force under Sir Thomas Montacute, numbering around 4000 men, and a largely Scottish French army under Sir John Stewart of around twice its size.

Although details of the battle are brief, the location can actually be reasonably well identified, and enough was recorded of the forces on the day to make reasonable estimations as to their numbers and disposition.

And so, a couple of Sundays ago, myself, Phil, Martin and Richard got together for a refight of the battle.

The terrain above reflects the battlefield as best it could be identified.  At the small town of Cravant to the south of Auxerre, there remains one Medieval bridge, at a point just outside the town where the rive is around 50m wide.  This seemed to fit the bill entirely, and so I modelled the course of the river and disposition of some woodland on the plain, on present satellite maps of the spot.

The English were comprised as follows.  The Burgundians under Lord Willoughby had one unit of Mounted Men At Arms, one unit on foot, one unit of crossbowmen and a group of 'pioneers' manning the English Cannon.  The English under CinC Montacute had four units of longbowmen and a unit of foot men at arms.  Each unit represented approximately 500 men.  The Mounted troops may have been on foot in fact, but as Richard had recently finished some of the Perry mounted knights I was loath not to let him field them:

For the Franco-Scottish force, Sir John Stewart led a vanguard of foot men at arms, 3 large units of pike and two units of Scottish bowmen.  The Comte De Vendome  brought two units of mounted knights, 2 of crossbowmen, 2 of spearmen and one unit of local light troops.

The Scots were rated as slightly poorer troops than the English and Burgundians, but were brave, stubborn fighters, as befit the historical accounts.  The French were, aside from their knights, rubbish troops.

Nevertheless, the French, under my command, began the advance to the river, as to meet the history.

The English line on the other hand held its position, and was prepared to use its artillery and bowmen to thin out the French lines.

With Martin controlling the Burgundians and Richard the English, the first few turns were mainly just an exchange of fire.

One that the French were loath to maintain.  Some of their crossbowmen quickly quit the field, whilst the rest retired and the French light troops ran into the forest on their left.

Fortunately the English didn't yet realise how vulnerable the French were, and were hoping to grind down the Scots around the Bridge.  For our part, we recognised we needed to draw the Burgundians into an attack, as we would lose the grinding match of a shooting exchange.  So Phil began a slow advance of the Scots on the right of the field, whilst the French tried to redress their lines.

This worked, and once the Burgundians and English were drawn into advancing, I got daring with the incompetant commander of the French forces, and once his line was in order, he led his knights on a long flank march to encircle the English:

Poo-poohing the idea that this represented a realistic threat, Richard crossed the river in force to engage the french light infantry who had being bedevilling him with harassing fire from amongst the trees.  It was a short sharp battle, but one the English were only capable of winning at swordpoint.

The French soon routed, but finding the trees too dense for their formations, the English decided instead to return back across the river!

At the other end of the field Martin and Phil clashed.

The Scots came off much the worse, losing both units beyond the bridge.  It would now fall to their pikemen to try to save the situation.

However fortune smiled on the French, for the Comte arrived at the rear of the English lines with his cavalry, and managed to charge into their lines.

Initial French success was enough to worry the English, and so they recalled their Burgundian cavalry to deal with the threat.  Which gave Phil the opportunity to bring pike units over the bridge.

The French cavalry in the event were smashed by a counter attack from the English men at arms, and the Comte slunk beck to his lines in shame.  Relieved of pressure the Burgundians turned on the Scots en masse, whilst the English returned to line the river bank and pepper the French lines with arrows.

The sheer size of the Scottish pike units, and their determination meant that the Burgundians were unexpectedly knocked back.  The Comte had by now returned to his lines, and led the second unit of knights into the fray, doing what French nobility apparently does best; shafting their enemies from the rear!

Now a huge gap opened up in the English army, as the Burgundian horse fell or quit the field.  The Scottish pike resumed their advance and Richard could only look on and ponder how he could save the situation.

The Pike cleared the rest of the Burgundian infantry from the field, and their remaining pioneers began to withdraw the guns.  The arrows of the English bowmen ground down the French spearmen, and thy began to withdraw.  But the Comte's knights were able to deliver one further charge, and broke a unit of bowmen, sealing the fate of the English.

And thus history was rewritten, what had been a slaughter of the French and Scottish instead became a  slaughter of Burgundians; forcing the English into an unseemly retreat.

All agreed it was a great, and close game.  The forces were quite unbalanced in terms of size, as they were historically, the French were some 8000 strong on the day.  But the quality gap meant that the English were closer to the French and Scottish than it may seem.  I think for the English their initial plan to out shoot the French was sound, but we responded in the only sensible way we could by throwing our best forces at him to force an attack.  What the English did not seem to realise was just how weak some of our forces really were, the French crossbows and spearmen and the Scottish bows were very weak indeed, but largely unengaged.

I think if Richard's infantry attack had crossed the river rather than retiring the battle would've been theirs.  But that is why I play these games, the chance to rewrite history.

As it was, glory once again, went to the French.  Not forgetting the flower of Scotland!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Saga: What value a Warlord?

Gav, whose cricketing duties kept him away from the club(s) for much of the year, has been around again in the last few weeks, and we finally arranged a game, after a few near misses.

I picked Saga for relative simplicity and the lack of preparation.  We used two six point forces and ran the Warlord scenario.  The battlefield featured a small shack and some fields in the centre of the table with a couple of wooded areas either side.  I took the Normans whilst Gav led out the Vikings:

The Vikings were my older models, which allowed for the deployment of Levies with bows, and Berserkers.

My Normans favoured infantry over cavalry, with two units of Spearmen, some Crossbows, Levy Bowmen and some Cavalry because; well just because.

The Viking Warriors moved to tangle with the Normans in the centre, whilst the two Warlords kept their distance at either side of the battlefield.  Sadly for Gav, his warriors invariably came of the worst in these engagements.

 By the end of the game There was only a handful of Vikings left, after they had foolishly charged the Crossbowmen and allowed my warriors to get behind his lines, carving up his Levy.  Seeing the time to strike, my Warlord charged in to finish off the last of Gav's men.

At which point, with only his Warlord left, Gav decided he might as well try a death or glory charge.  I had reason to feel confident, trading off his fatigue to make me harder to hit.  But Gav was able to use skills from his battle board to up his number of attacks, and trade my fatigue to even the combat balance.  In the end he was luckier than I, scoring several hits to a couple from me, and where he saved one, I saved, none.

And so my Crossbowmen looked on in shock as our warlord fell, and Gav won the game!

Saga is the ideal figures game for the Thursday club, being fast to play, needing little space or time - both premiums at the club, and being easy to learn.  It was good to get another, slightly bigger game done - in an hour and a half including a run down of the rules - and it was great to play against Gav again.  I don't mind losing in those circumstances at all!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Recon 2012

Friday night was a late one, by late I mean I got to bed at half seven in the morning.  And so I was pleased not to be running a game at Recon this year, and was quite happy to roll along at noon after a brief snooze.

The games on show were typical of Recon fare, it generally isn't home to the major players at gaming shows, rather the local grass roots clubs, school associations and the like tend to be more apparent.  A lot of the games were one's I'd already seen, and actually photographed for previous blog posts, so it's a relatively light load today.

Leeds Nightowls had our games from Fiasco there again, The Zulu War in 28mm:

And Warhammer Fantasy Battle

Both of these were stand out games at the show, not maybe the best, but well up there in a small field.

Nearby were plenty of examples of the more homespun gaming; Kirklees rusaders - Salamanca:

The KB Club brought two games, their homespun Sci-fi game - Accelerate and Attack, and a WW2 game using paper and acetate terrain:

Cheating using plastic trees surely!

The Yorkshire Coast Gamers presented Borodino played with DBN, which allowed the game to fit on a 4x3 foot board.

Critical mass games had what was essentially an advertisement for their game system and models.  Their fine if you want that sort of thing, but I was mainly inspired by the ingenious use of plastic flowers as alien trees:

It made for a great looking table.

Curteys Miniatures similarly advertise their range of resin tanks with this WW2 game that has done the rounds of all the shows this year.  I admit it though, I really like the look of this table and the models.

I had a chat with Will of Fire-at-will at the Society of Ancients stand.  the game they'd brought was a simplified DBM Conquistadores game.  His 20mm collection is enormous and universally very nice.  I just wish the SOC would spend a few quid on a more attractive sheet to go under their terrain.

It did look to be stripped from te bed of a tramp shortly before the show, letting the game down.

There were many more games on, and participation as ever was a major feature of the show, even I usually most reticent to get involved was happy to play along and join a game of 7 Wonders (coming second out of five seasoned players).

The rest of the games were repeats or, I'll be honest didn't catch my eye enough to take pictures of - sorry folks but I still like a pretty game, and that doesn't mean one with amazing scenery and figures necessarily; but it should have that indefinable something,,,

Or just be a period/game I dig.

For a small show it seemed lively enough, not heaving but ok, certainly to me it seemed to have picked up a little from the weather blighted previous years.  For me it was looking like a very cheap shopping day, a Saga pamphlet and 16 blank dice (for same, at one tenth the cost of Gripping Beast's dice I considered them bargain of the year and am quite happy to mark the sides up myself) had set me back a total of thirteen quid.

But then I came across this:

A version of Command and Colours, highly regarded - I've played the Fantasy and WW2 variants, and a copy of the Art of Tactic rules, plus high quality colour hex boards and terrain features and over 120 plastic 1/72nd scale miniatures.  All for £50.  I rapidly caved!  After all those who've looked at the very earliest post in this blog will know I planned a samurai collection some six years ago, getting only as far as buying 800 or so plastic samurai.  Now I have a spur to make some use of them, plus a pair of rules to use with them.

So overall a good little show as ever, I hope it continues, but next year I also hope that the games are a bit more impressive, originality is always at this show, but the aesthetics are somewhat lacking for me.