Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Bavaria: 1st Dragoons

So, these were completed thanks to insomnia on Christmas Eve, before setting out to do the Xmas festiveness; still you make the use of the time as and when you can.

roughly half of the Bavarian cavalry regiments were Dragoons, the others being Chevaux Leger, who visually at least are basically different coloured coats and little more, Nevertheless Warrior do make distinct miniatures for each...

I also finished an infantry commander at the same time.  He'll pass for a Brigadier, but not much higher a rank.  Curiously, Warrior do not make Bavarian generals, as I suspect they think French commanders would normally be in charge!

Here he's accompanied by a Grenadier captain of the fifth regiment.
That's not bad progress for this year, hopefully we can get another foot regiment or two done in January, but I'll be away some of it so one can't count ones' chickens.


Monday, December 24, 2018

T'was the Fight Before Xmas...

...And all thru the house, all the creatures were fighting, to the death or the rout!

 For Santa was lingering in his magical village,
But five armies of evil arrived, it to pillage!

Frost giants, and Kobolds, and Orcs with their kin,
And hordes of the Undead; all hearts full of sin,

 And lo, did the greenskin send gigantic Trolls,
to sit on poor Santa, to keep him controlled,

 Whilst Santa was trapped the Skeletons fought,
Both undead commanders keen not to get caught,
But each also maneuvered to fend off  more rivals
Slaying Dogmen and Goblins by stabbing their vitals!

 Lo, Giants so frosty, tho towering and tall,
Could hardly fight anyone properly at all,
And several fell to the claws of the Wocky
Whose acid and claws stopped them being too cocky!

 For though the village let them sneak up on kidnappers,
A blast from the Kobolds sent them off like the clappers!

 And whilst Santa by Trolls, was slowly deflated,
The Dogmen beat the Giants and so were elated,
Five giants arrived via their magic portal,
And four swiftly returned with wounds proving mortal,

Lo, Santa remained a captive of Greenskins,
Yet glory still beckoned, and undead would seek him,
The chariots rumbled and charged into battle,
But the Trolls that received them defended their chattel,

And soon the undead crumbled into the snow,
And the threats from their peer group force them to go,
Defeated and weakened once force thus retired,
And the other undead troop to glory aspired,

But time was a wasting and their roll of the dice,
Was too late a gamble, so the victors in vice,
Were the feindish Hobgoblins and Orcs, large and small,
Who looted poor Santa of toys for one and all!

So if you see Santa on this Christmas eve,
And he's covered in bandages and look ill at ease,
Consider that maybe he just had a fight,
And hope that he has more fortune tonight!


Monday, December 17, 2018

Pedroche 1811 - a Small Matter

Well, it's a modest game, but we got another 28mm Napoleonics bash in this year.  Not the one we had in mind, but a pleasant diversion nonetheless.  James S had purchased a basically (but acceptably) painted British force online for a decent price and wanted to get them on to the table, I felt sure we could oblige, so myself and Gav took control of some of my French to face them.  I loaned James some Artillery and Riflemen for the night to fill out his ranks, but it turns out he had enough infantry for 8 regiments at my normal 24 figure unit size!  Too much for my French, the table size or one evening to handle.

The deployed arrays

The battlefield is split by the Arroyo da Santa Maria river, a fairly insubstantial water course, fordable with difficulty at any point, but obviously easier at the bridge on the West-East main road.  A small farmstead lies to the northwest on the British side of the field, whilst, open woodland covers the eastern side.

This was James' firs game of Black Powder in several years, so it was to be largely a rules refresher, plus an introduction to mine and Gav's fast'n'loose style of gentlemanly play.  Nonetheless, to ease James' comprehension of the rules, I stuck to the actual Albion Triumphant (Vol.1) army lists for the forces; developing small matched forces without our usual tweaks to the system, and slapdash "that feels right" army composition.

Broadly the forces were:

British left

British right
 James had two brigades, one with a Guard and two line regiments, supported by a Battery of 6lb guns and a company of riflemen; the other of a Highland regiment and two line Regiments, with an attached regiment of light dragoons.

French left

French right
 We had slightly more infantry on account of the sheer quality of British troops in the rules (lordy, they are ridiculous!), our first brigade being two French and two German line regiments, with an 8lb Battery attached; our second having three French line regiments and a regiment of Heavy Dragoons.

Opening moves
 The British led the attack marching a unit in line up to the eastern road, but James Guards blundered off to the rear of their own guns.  Progress around the farm was slow by comparison, but reliable.  The French opened up a steady artillery fire in response, alongside a more effective general advance.

Early hits on Brits
 Jmes revised his lines to allow for the confused Guards, and his realisation that the British in line may have more firepower, but took up so much more battlefield real estate, reducing his tactical options.  He aimed to cover the river and make the farm a fortification.  For our part we covered our left with a Square to trap his cavalry, whilst aiming to use our more mobile units to attack his troops with greater force.

 Attacks develop on the French Right
 Tied up fighting the square (British cavalry can't help but charge), we were able to charge our heavy horse into the British flank and drive his cavalry off.  Meanwhile Gave aimed to outmatch the British in the farm with fire.  Optimistic, but the British shooting proved cautious as James tried to save his 'First Fire' for the opportune moment.
The Light Dragoons run,  The Heavies line up a new target
In the centre a French line regiment caught the Highlanders in Square and slowly pushed them back.  Meanwhile on the far right the German regiments hit the British line and only their 'Steadiness' saved them from flight.

But at the river crossing the French did suffer a reverse as a line unit broke from vicious fire from the British before them.

Late on
But alas, with the extensive clarifications of the rules and the limited time available to us of a Thursday night (further curtailed by our club AGM being the same night)  we had to call it quits at this stage.  With only one unit each lost I felt it fair to call it a draw, although I naturally felt the advantage at the stage we reached lay with the French.

Still it was mainly the intention to get James back up to speed on the game, and to consider options for the future.  James has at least as many French as Brits somewhere, so it could allow us to much enlarge our games if we so wish in future.

And to be honest, it is another good reason not the switch to BP 2.0; as I feel no urge to relearn or reteach another version of the rules!


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Terrain updates.

A few weeks ago I was able to retrieve some of my remaining collection from storage with family, this resulted in my finding myself with four new armies, lots of figures to add to a fifth project and a bunch of scenery; the vast majority of all in dire need of updating.

Some of these jobs were going to be easier than others; I've quickly turned around some of the easiest.

FIrst off I decided to tackle a couple of my old Viking/Medieval buildings.  Here's a very old photo of them from the blog; in fact the only one I could the distance:

Not great resolution
You can make out the thin, curling, card covered with green flock.  Top notch.  The bases went swiftly, and were replaced with thick MDF and texture:

 It's also clear here that the model's had variable paint jobs, the stone hut is kinda okay, but the wattle and daub hut needed a fairly complete revision.  None of which took too long though:

A bit better
Layering and dry-brushing sorted the buildings, whilst the usual terrain base formula was used.  These will find a new home on any number of battlefields.

I also had some trees, good for 15mm scales and above.  But their basing was in need of a rework; here again we use the wayback machine to see how they looked in 2006:


Nice models though.  Better bases were all that was needed:

 Also some Merit fir trees, Zvezda and others have subsequently produced these; I think they are pretty good actually:

There are a few more bits to tackle, but they can wait.  These will all come in handy however.


Monday, December 10, 2018

And here's another game I didn't get on with

Command and Colours, this is going to be mild heresy, especially for many historical boardgamers; but I don't like it.

And I say this despite owning a copy (admittedly unplayed, as part of the Art of Tactic/CnC Samurai dual system set from Zvezda).

I've played, the Richard Borg engine to the game in several forms in the past, but clearly hadn't recalled details of the experience, so when Paul at the club suggested a game of CnC: Napoleonics, I was happy to give it a go.  So we set up the Battle of Corunna for an evenings' diversion.

Starting deployments
Which raises issue one, a minor aesthetic one that may not concern all I admit, but, as a board game on hex based terrain at a very large effective scale; it doesn't look much like the battlefield from what I can recall of it.  It doesn't look much like the battle.  It feels overly simplified even.

A legitimate complaint for any representation you say, and that might be fair, but personally I wouldn't try to refight a battle where I couldn't do a fair representation of the ground, and units at a key level of engagement.  For me that is Regimental as a minimum, Battalion preferred for Napoleonics (which means I'm doing the smaller battles mainly); in this game I couldn't readily say what things represented, but at a guess, each block would be a Battalion?  Without 100% recall, I wouldn't know anyway, but if smaller than that, companies say, there's no way this represented the whole battlefield....
Opening advances
The next issue for me is, here is a system that tries to shoehorn an awful lot into an unmodified dice roll.  Well, how it gets round that is by modifying the number of dice you roll, but given you will usually roll between two and five dice, and almost always only be removing dice from the pool, this gets punitive very quickly.  An infantry advance onto troops in cover quickly finds itself incapable of doing any harm.  But elites soon become disproportionately strong too, as adding a dice in combat of shooting is a huge advantage.  Then the British at least had some implausibly large units (Guards of 5, rifle companies of 3 bases) leading one to wonder whether this was the only way to reflect quality in game, or a laboured belief that paper unit sizes ever existed in the field....

I digress, perhaps.

French high-water mark
The dice themselves, you have a one in three chance of scoring an effect in infantry engagements, but only 1 in 6 of a kill; in short causing losses is hard, but equally rogue rolls of several hits at once feel terribly unfair.  But these are only comparatively minor gripes.

The Brits win mainly by staying still.
The main problem, and it's a biggie, a game breaker, is the card system.  I just, HATE it.  The battlefield is divided into two flanks and a centre, and you can only move units in those sectors when you draw the appropriate cards to play such an order.  Now there are a few for each sector, and a few that play across multiple areas, but never enough.

Oh but isn't that just replicating the fog of war you say; I like that, you say.  Well, if it worked I might agree, but it doesn't.  Having no control over the composition of the deck, you can't lean into simple tactics in preference over complex but deadly strategies - as one might in a deckbuilder - you are stuck with what you get.  Moreover, you really are stuck with what you are dealt.  You can't discard and replace a duff hand, in the hope of getting what you need, you must just play them out one card at a time and hope for better.  You will almost certainly go several turns where the perfect move presents itself, and you can't do it, because NONE OF YOUR F******G CARDS LET YOU!  It's not representing a battle where one of your subordinate commanders is poor, it represents an engagement where all of your commanders are recalcitrant halfwits.  It's like playing Black Powder by ignoring the Orders system and relying on the Blunder table instead.

It's bollocks.

Clearly the reader will have gathered two things from this.  That I didn't win, and that I don't like the game system.  So, yeah, maybe the two are connected, but personally I don't see why winning would've changed my mind.  In many cases my opponent won simply because I was unable to make the right attack at the right time, not because they struck me in any devastating way; you can't seriously feel you won a game in that circumstance can you?  The system makes punch and counter-punch virtually a lottery.

The third point however, is simply that the game was not fun, and finally, it didn't feel much like a historical simulation either.

Really not for me.

I'll stick to miniatures on this one.


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

A Grand, a General and a (tiny) Rant

Well I say!  It happens that this is my One Thousandth post; and it only took 12 and a half years to reach that stage.  It would appear I've done quite a lot of blathering on however.

Blogging is not always something I enjoy, but I've persisted.  Presently I'm not doing much in the way of think pieces, mainly as the internet is full of this:

which means you're wrong...
And I guess after 12 years, you get sick of people thinking their opinion is welcome in your diary!

Instead, lets just be safe and look at some painting wot I done to celebrate.  Here for your delectation is General Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole:

Over there... 
Cole Served in India, Italy (at Maida) and in the Peninsular, commanding Wellington's 4th Division.  In this role he fought at Albuhera, Salamanca and Vittoria amongst others.

Sorry, no.  Over there.
With him here I added a Colonel for the 2nd Guards, using a spare command figure from a mass of oddments I was gifted years ago, and an overcoat from the Victrix French set.  The combination looks really satisfying.

Unlike the combination of anonymity and strong WiFi connections....


Don't hold your breath for post number 2,000, it'll still be a while!


Monday, December 03, 2018

Recon 2018

So, I wasn't involved in putting on a display game this year, it was quickly made apparent that the show didn't have room for us, and a scan of the packed rooms showed this to be the case.  On that basis alone the show looked busier than in years past - given it is relatively speaking, tiny - but I'm not in with the traders so couldn't tell you how well they felt it was going.

For my part, myself and oppo Gav met up for a browse of the show and a game afterwards at my place.  I spent the princely sum of £26, on a pack of Spanish Light infantry in 28mm from Eagle Figures, an old Blandford Uniforms guide (always a personal favourite) and some 15mm artillery limbers from the Bring and Buy, suitably cheap and generic for my eye!  Gav picked up a copy of Dragon Rampant for a fiver, which was a huge win in both our opinions.

As to the games, Recon is as I've said before a very local event, and it is not where prize winning, double-page spread in WI (or even MW), games are ever likely to appear.  It is more your club fare, with handcrafted games, charity shop rescues and cardboard armies all making an appearance.  With that in mind, hear are some of the photos I took...

Harrogate's WW2 game possibly the nicest, certainly the biggest of the day

Some sort of 15mm Near future Sci-fi

ACW Skirmish

Decent figures and terrain

Someone ha rescued a complete set of Battlemasters from a charity shop!

Beautiful 15mm WW2 on a fairly basic table


Desert Rats(?)

15mm Ancients from one of the Game companies...

Nice figs, but do those neoprene gaming mats cut the mustard up close?
For me, it's a last chance to pick up some bits in the year, and it's right on my doorstep, so I'll always go along, but Recon really is a 'local show for local people' and so not really worth more than thirty minutes in the car to visit, as it was, myself and Gav were there scant more than an hour.

More on that another time.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Fire and Steel - cutting edge 20 years ago?

Andy, in my Thursday club, looked to me to try a set of skirmish rules, suitable for the Napoleonics erase.   Always looking for a decent set myself I was willing to give them a try.

The ruleset is called Fire and Steel, they are not particularly new.  Long out of print would be more truthful.

Circa 1996
We set up a simple encounter scenario from the rules, with two basically identical forces of troops, representing two dawn patrols.

Opening Dispositions - Imagine it's foggy
The rules are from Wargames Research Group, and so are familiar fare....   Tables and modifiers.
Both sides advance unaware the enemy is out there
In fairness there are a few neat mechanics, but they are hardly ground breaking.  soldiers activate randomly by drawing lots, and can carry out any three of a variety of actions in a turn.

Fog lifts; contact!
But it does come down to the combat table, and fistfuls of modifiers.  Compared to say, DBMM its farly simple stuff, but WRG can't let a dice fall unmodified.

The British begin to withdraw with heavy losses
There are other problems too.  The rules are staggeringly vague - lacking the legal clausing of Barkerese, that sees each rule in DBMM run for several paragraphs of 'ifs', 'ands' and 'unless''.  Several items were seemingly key mechanics, but barely referenced or explained.  Also the Morale system seemed to lack any ability to resolve a game, troops would keep running back and forth into or out of combat, as long as they lived.  Finally, it was apparent it was going to be token heavy, and from an aesthetic standpoint that didn't appeal.

So long as you are happy to concede when it is clear you have been beaten, and can come to some sensible conclusions about the intention of the rules as written, these are not a bad system, as good as Drums and Shako anyway.  But they would struggle with more than a dozen or so models each, and I don't see them as my solution yet.

The search therefore must continue...