Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Formigny: 15 April 1450

Our latest Hail Caesar battle was to be a late medieval re-fight to allow Richard to field his new acquisitions for a fledgling War of the Roses army.  To this end I dipped in to my history of the Hundred Years War and went straight to the end, y'know - the bit we English tend to forget about as it doesn't shower us in all that much glory.

Formigny was the response to the French recapture of Normandy in 1449.  Thomas Kyriell Assembled a dismally small force even by English standards, and landed at Cherbourg with scarcely half a plan.  By the time he started heading inland toward Bayeux a month after landing his force had swelled a little to 4,000 men, comprising 800 men at arms and the remainder of his force being archers.

On route, the Constable of Richemont and the Count of Cleremont planned to intercept the English.  They had a force of roughly similar numbers but had the advantage of being able to attack at their leisure, being well provisioned, and having access to both mounted knights and artillery.

Thus the grounds for the battle were set, and in keeping with the historical scenario I set the forces and battlefield up:

The English deployed along a ridge with their right flank covered by a brook, and their rear by enclosed gardens.  On the day they had time to dig small pits and place some stakes to their front, but these were not considered significant, so in game terms they would nullify the clash value of attackers and would be lost if an English unit chose to move.  Richard as the English had 2 units of Men at Arms, 4 of Veteran Bowmen and 4 of Shire levy bows.  He placed the latter in the front line whilst the rest formed a solid line on the hill behind stakes, with the men at arms in the centre.

By contrast the French were initially only the troops of Claremont; 2 small units of mounted knights, 2 full sized groups on foot, 2 units of Pavisiers, one of Brigans and one of crossbowmen, and finally a detachment of Culverins.  The French had reserves in the shape of Richemont, but these could not be expected to arrive for four or five turns at the very least.

In an attempt to emulate history I threw forward a general attack, but only getting an order off to the infantry, meant Claremont unintentionally left his cavalry and artillery in reserve.

Some of the English bowmen came forward to meet the attack and were able to hold the French at bay, driving several units back every time they advanced.  In fact at this stage the battle seemed to be going so well for the English, that Kyiell considered a full fledged counter attack.  He knew there were other French in the area, but not where or when they might arrive.

In the end he erred on the side of caution perhaps a little too long.  For just as he released half his regular troops from the defensive lines, the men of Richemont arrived:

Richemont had a full unit of mounted Knights, alongside a unit of Pavisiers backed up by yet more Brigans.  And as soon as they arrived, the French chivalry were up for the less than chivalrous action of charging the distant English archers in the rear.

This began a frenzied phase for the French in which four English archer units were destroyed, three by the Knights and one by the men at arms of Claremont, supported by brigans. In amongst this a rash personal charge by Kyriell had resulted in his death, and he was to be replaced by a less able, but sterner commander.

However, when Richmont tried to order his horse onto the now exposed flank of the English, their exhaustion and confusion over orders led rather to their retiring pell mell toward their own lines

For a little time the attempt to lead the attack reverted to Claremont, who finally was able to bring up his artillery and cavalry, having withdrawn him most demoralised troops.  The artillery finally began to fire, at extreme range, on the English; who themselves took time to reform their defensive cordon.

Richemont rallied his knights and they eagerly charged back up the hill for another attack.  At the same time Claremont tried to get his smaller squadrons of cavalry to act in the same way, but in general they were having nothing of it and constantly were deflected from the English line by a hail of arrows.

A hard battle atop the hill saw the French knights retire a spent force, but the English too by now were all but a broken force.  I n a last desperate throw of the dice Kyriell's junior led his men at arms against Richemonts pavisiers; but even here they failed to win a victory, and the English commander was lucky to escape alive this time.

Whilst his back was turned the infantry of Claremont had climbed the hill and engaged the archers in irresistible force.  By now it was a lost cause for the English and they sought only to escape in what numbers they could.

Despite an oft lacklustre attack from Claremont, the coordination of two separate attacks on the English line had proved their undoing.  And in that the re-fight was almost an exact replica of the original battle, should historical accounts be believed.

Kyriell too had little difficulty containing one enemy, even managing to capture the French guns, but was lost when Richemont's fresh troops arrived on his exposed flank.  In the event little more than 250 English escaped alive.  For once French losses did not seem significant.

For this game we played the rules fairly straight, using generally the higher stats for given heavy and missilery troop types.  I translated every 400 men in real life to a unit of 16 infantry, with the French also having one unit of 200 or so knights represented as 12 figures, and two groups of a hundred or so under Claremont in sixes.  Overall the battle seemed balanced by the reserves rule - that the number of French turns, plus the result of a 2d6 roll must equal or beat 15 for the reserves to arrive - and both sides had every chance of winning.  In the end it was a repeat of history, and a rare victory for my normally beleaguered French.


Pike and Shotte

This morning I was tipped off that Pike and Shotte; the third set of rules from Warlord Games are now on pre-order on Amazon:

Pike & Shotte: Battles with Model Soldiers in the 16th and 17th Centuries (Main Rule Book)

Now personally, I've found myself perfectly able to tweak Black Powder to suit my needs for the English Civil War, but I'm sure for the lazy gamer these may fit the bill instead.  My only concern being how they treat unit composition; my first game of Black Powder was Warlord's own ECW Demonstration game, in which they rather peculiarly chose to divide regiments into three sub-units.

I personally think I'll wait to flick through a copy, and doubtless Warlord will announce more details soon, which may clarify matters.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lost in Translation

I don't know if it was the fact the game was originally written in German, the fact that only the game's owner had ever played it before, or the fact that he attempted to explain every rule in minutiae before beginning play; but either way by the time we began playing Goa, I hadn't a clue what the point of the game was any more, let alone what I had to do.

It's one of those Eurogames, that is to say it's obsessed with trading and building rather than conflict, and there are several legitimate routes to victory.  This plus a limited translation and far too many things to remember  made it frustratingly difficult to play at first, and for at least three or four turns I had no clue what I was doing.

Towards the end of the game I had grasped the basics though, and even formulated a strategy, I was able to generate a large population more readily than the other players and so concentrated on founding new colonies, indeed I was the only player to establish the maximum four colonies.  Others, including not surprisingly the game owner, had tighter plans from the start, and so I was unsurprised to find I only came third out of four players.

The game had merits, but is unlikely to be a favourite for me, and like Settlers of Catan, it's one I wouldn't recommend to casual gamers.

And not one I'd choose to play again; I might prefer to stick my fingers in the light sockets for the evening.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Barabolya Horde

Infrequently, Ogres have made an appearance in my Dogs of War army; one of the reasons they didn't appear more often has been that, I only had a unit of four, which was far from optimum.  Threes are fine as little flank Pseudo-cavalry units, but under the present version of Warhammer at least blocks of 6 or 9 are favoured.

Over the last couple of years I had accumulated enough 'new' Ogre models to form such a sized unit, and finally I've got round to painting them up:

The hardest part was to match the new models to the old ones, which were originally painted for my Orc army back when you were allowed them as mercenaries.  Matching the skintone proved easy enough, but getting the level of glaze right was a harder task.  Rather, The old models were too dark, and the new one's too light.

Still it's a big angry unit of nine now or, for Kings of War, three units of three.

And less in the painting pile.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sound General Quarters - 1943

Having gamely taken a thumping at Force on Force, Jez took the reins and organised a Naval encounter using a classic old set of Naval rules; General Quarters.

I took on the role of the Japanese Admiral, with a fleet of a heavy cruiser, two light cruisers and two groups of three destroyers.

Against these, Rich had two heavy cruisers and two pairs of destroyers.  Generally the American ships had more firepower, and were better at range, thanks to their radar.  Aside the numerical advantage, the Japanese could at least rely on more Torpedoes.

The game began with the two fleets at an already effective range, at which stage the Americans started laying smoke whilst I charged the Japanese forward to get in close.

At range the American cruisers pounded the light Japanese ships, but their sacrifice allowed the Japanese destroyers to close and start to swarn the American escorts, and permitted the Japanese heavy cruiser to bide its time in cover.

This stage of the engagement was dominated by torpedo fire causing the loss of one American cruiser and one Japanese destroyer.  Despite losing two of my cruisers, it was now apparent the Americans were on the back foot, with their destroyers starting to look worse for wear too.

At this stage I released the heavy cruiser from behind its veil of smoke, at which point the American fleet scattered.  Whilst all of the other ships were heavily battle scarred, the Japanese heavy was untouched, and any fire it laid down was now brutally effective.

Rich's fleet saw this as the perfect moment to disengage.

For a very old set of rules, they seemed to work well enough, and we were just about able to run through the shooting and damage tables autonomously by the end of the game.  As a period and size of engagement this cruiser & destroyer engagement was nice and simple, but I did find the smoke overly effective.

Still, as my first naval game in a couple of years, it was good fun.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Marshal Murat of France

Joachim-Napoléon Murat (born Joachim Murat; Italian: Gioacchino Napoleone Murat; 25 March 1767 – 13 October 1815), Marshal of France and Grand Admiral or Admiral of France, 1st Prince Murat, was Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808 and then King of Naples from 1808 to 1815. He received his titles in part by being the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte, through marriage to Napoleon's youngest sister, Caroline Bonaparte. He was noted as a daring and charismatic cavalry officer as well as a flamboyant dresser and was known as 'the Dandy King'.

So, although I've a couple of commanders in my French army, I have no overall CinC, and no match for my Wellesley.  A rummage in the figure boxes and a look for some suitable references, and I was in a position to change that:

My version of the flamboyant dresser and commander features a Wargames Foundry model for Murat himself, accompanied by a Minifigs one-piece casting of a mounted Grenadier Colonel:

And yes, I have spotted I've made him more of a redhead than a brunette, I could argue aesthetics, but it's more honestly a cockup due to finishing the models in a rush.

I doubt it'll affect his performance on the table.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Hoplites of the Messines

Until the Victrix Spartans are available, I've made space for them in the painting queue by completing the last of my current models for my Spartans; in this case a mixed batch of leftovers painted as an allied phalanx from Messinia:

The models are a mixture of Black Tree, Wargames Foundry and Immortal/Warlord Games; I had just enough for a unit.  The equipment as a result was too irregular to convincingly represent a true Spartiate unit, so it made sense to dress these as allies, nee Helots given new status in times of dire need.  With that new status comes captured and leftover equipment and shields given no more than a simple city state device, to identify them as members of the Lacedaemonian Empire.

Well it all makes for a justifiable back story, doesn't it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Koprivina - August 1991

Another go at Force on Force was had last week, and with totally different results, rather more one sided.

The scenario and forces were exactly the same as last time, but the players, Richard and Jez, different.  The battlefield was a little adjusted too:

The Serbs under Jez opted to attack from the right in the image above, so Richard focused his defence in the centre of the village.  The attack from Jez developed rather directly with the bulk of his forces driving into the field behind the shop.

This however made it all too easy for the crossfire of Richard Croats to pin down the entire attack.  After two turns the Serbs declared they would disengage, Jez feeling he had walked into a trap and been out-gunned as much by the rules as anything.

I wouldn't entirely disagree, but there was certainly some blame to be laid at his tactics as well.  Nevertheless, the game gave me concerns and I think it will need more finessing to  feel realistic; ammunition was still too plentiful for the Croats and neither side really deserves to operate as well as professional infantry, but neither are they irregulars.  A first step may be making troops mostly D6 quality, it remains to be seen.

There will be another game soon however.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Huns have Nothing on Me...

If it has seemed quiet at here of late it is simply because Too Much Lead towers once again finds itself on the move and once again I find myself doing it as a one man operation.  I am not looking forward to this weekend.

Normal service will be resumed soon folks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jasenovac - August 1991

In an effort to find a set of rules suitable for Yugoslavia, myself and Mark tried Force on Force out at the club last Thursday.  Now I've several games of these lined up for the next week or two, so for now I'll be focusing solely on the game and the scenario rather than a review of the rules.

Part of the reason for this is simple, the rules are rather complex in execution and I don't think either of us really understood them at the start of the game.  This naturally improved as we went along, but I wouldn't pretend after my first game that I'm in any way an expert on them yet.

As to the game I set up a very simple scenario with small forces, firstly there were the Serbians with elements of both regular and militia forces:

Their mission was to burn out as many of the buildings in the village of Jasenovac as possible.  To defend against them, the Croatian regular army fielded the following:

It was their intention to protect the village, but also to try and capture enemy equipment which could be of value.

The village itself was a small and well dispersed one with significant woodlands to it's rear, and I playing the Croats deployed behind the crossroads, hoping to produce deadly crossfire rather than trying to stop the Serbs at the very edge of the village.

The Serbs would enter from the right in the shot above.  Their initial forces advanced onto the field near the green house and were out of sight to us, but a militia team on the Serbian right were exposed to fire from Croats and soon found themselves pinned.

The same fate befell another militia gang on the main road.  This began a long exchange of fire between the Croatian anti tank team in the white chalet and several Serbian units, including regulars advancing with covering fire from the M60p APC.

But at this stage the Croat crossfire was to prove highly effective, and the men in the Chalet proved extremely fortunate not to become casualties during a failed assault by the Serbians; which tried simply to run in through the front door, to no success.

The Croat M18 risked coming out of cover at this stage and put the Serbian APC to flame; but by this stage the militia had managed to set fire to two of the Croatian buildings.

The Serbs despite their losses were feeling bold now and their anti tank fire forced the M18 to pull back, despite never really endangering it.  Meanwhile the Serbian regulars were able to push in to the centre of the village.  The Croat regulars had to counter by throwing their own reserve in to the street fighting.  But the badly bloodied Serbs were able at the end of the game to put a third building to the torch.

In terms of mission points the game was  a very close run thing, ending up 16-14 to the Serbs.  It was a useful learning experience, but I know we got a few things wrong, and there is much more practice needed.

Still at this stage it seems to have potential, though with some limits to be set on the weaponry and balance.  On the evening I commented that firpawer from man portable rockets was simply excessive; you can theoretically fire them several times in a turn, so a section of four or five men might effectively be carrying enough RPG or LAW rounds for 24 or more shots in an 8 turn game?  To many for me.

But that gripe (and the somewhat impenetrable structure of the rule) aside it was a good start; there are more games to follow however and I shall report in more depth wen ready to call a final judgement.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Les Jaeger on the Hunt

My most recent game was an Anima Tactics rematch with Paul.  I swapped from Black sun to the Azur Alliance, thinking this may give him more of a chance in a hand to hand battle; and as I had only had one or two chances to use the team so far it seemed like a good opportunity to get them out again.

Left to right above I used Kirsten with Piercing Weapons, The Colonel, Kyler, Reinhold and Tsubasa Kurokami with Supernatural Armour.  With plots and equipment a 250 level force.

Paul by Contrast used the same 250 levels as last time, barring some minor changes to their equipment.

The field of battle was mostly ruins, with a small wood into which Kirsten deployed well forward of my main lines thanks to one of my special abilities.  This at least encouraged Paul's Church team to stay together and stay away from her at first at least.

In fact Paul played defensively from the start. using his powers to make characters invulnerable to all normal damage on a couple of occasions, in the hope that they could deal it out while the going was easy.

Tsubasa got tangled in one such combat with Romeo, supported by Damien - who made it impossible for my team to lock multiple charges on to Romeo.  The fight would leave them both wounded, but Tsubasa, as seems his perennial role, was cut down early.

But it was a fight that Romeo was now trapped in, and it proved easy for the rump of my force to deal with the female support troops in the Church force; one by one Kirsten, Reinhold and Kyler picked them off.

Still Romeo was close to defeating the Colonel, but in a fiendish manoeuvre the Colonel used one of his sinister powers to drain the life of Reinhold, revivifying himself; whilst Kyler used a healing potion to bring himself back to fighting fit, having previously been shot a couple of times.

Surrounded and almost alone, the gig was up for Romeo, again.

In deference to Paul, it'll need to be a 300 Level game next time, so that he can get another big combat hetter into the frame, which his force needs I think.  Personally it'll give me incentive to get my High Arbiter painted too.

Elsewhere in the club it was a busy evening; for some reason the Headingley club has also come back to life in the last few weeks, with well over twenty attendees.  The game of interest to me was Mark and Andy's micro armour game, using the GHQ rules:

Mark fielded a scale Brigade of Soviets swarming across the German countryside against a USMC battalion.

It looked a pretty game despite being too tiny a scale for my usual tastes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

What's on TV?

Buried away in the graveyard slot, but saved for some of you by the BBC I-Player, a fascinating little series looking at the wider aspects of conducting a military campaign:

Episode image for Staying Alive

Bullets, Boots and Bandages - How to Really win a War; began by looking at logistics and supply, and was quite intriguing.  I only managed to make it half way live, but will be catching up with the rest of it tonight.  I was fascinating to hear about the logistical chain behind Wellington's army in Spain, and the massive logistical cock-ups of the Crimea.

In fact last night was good tv in the UK for the military minded, Thanks to digital channels I was able to watch a documentary on the Zulu's on BBC Four, before Channel 5 +1 offered up the Royal Marines in Afghanistan.  More or less all of these available for catchup via the net too.

I'm not an inveterate tv watcher, but last night was a good selection, for a Monday.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Puerto Rico

T'other week was another board game night for me; which translates as I wasn't able to arrange a game.

It was one of the regular club favourites on this occasion for me, Puerto Rico; a classic Eurogame:

It is a relatively simple building and trading game, where you develop your little colony into a successful trading port and it's attendant estates.

As with many of these games, there is no recourse to dice, and the truly random factors are minimised.  Rather there are limited resources available and many things can only be constructed a set number of times; it is all about having a clear strategy from the start and not being confused by the actions of others.

It's not the most interactive of this sort of game, as players don't trade with one another, but it is for that perhaps a little easier to pick up first time.  I made a respectable third out of five players on a strategy of growing and trading high value goods, Coffee and Sugar, through my own markets and shipping.  This is not one I'd recommend for all the family, but will entertain the older members who like to be intellectually taxed a little.

Real figure games have been thin on the ground, with my being out of town rather a lot, but I hope to get some toy soldiers in action again soon.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Victrix Greeks on the way, at Last

When Immortal got the drop on Victrix, it seemed to put paid to their touted plans to do ancient Greek Hoplites; but finally they are on the release schedule.  And pretty good they are looking too:

Athenians above; Spartans below:

I suspect these are shots of the three-ups, but still they look really nice and more varied than the Immortal models too.

Looks like a good excuse to buy some more models for my Spartans.  These are to be released in time for Salute, with a new box coming out every three or four weeks.