Saturday, 26 July 2014

new Napoleonic Saxons created

For some unaccountable reason I have always been interested in the Saxon Army of the Napoleonic era.  Whether the enemy to ally to enemy of Napoleon or just the uniforms I don't know but I just had to do them. 

Saxon conversion notes

OK, take a box of Victrix plastic French Guard Chasseurs.  
They are all in greatcoats which, while covering all those nice, but kinda hard to paint effectively, white tunics, has the advantage of all having cross belts which all the Saxon infantry wore - just not only the flank/elite companies.

So with that we need to remove all the fringed epaulettes worn by the Chasseurs. While this, one might assume as I did, that it would be difficult, it proved surprisingly to be one of the least onerous of the chores. 

The various French canteens were scraped down and cut to be the square tin ones of the Saxons.  Note: these are often portrayed as being worn on the backpack and I was thinking of making a mould of one to make out of green stuff, but the Chasseur’s versions were easily converted and I am of the option the back placement would be only on the parade ground [it looking more regular and as not to interfere with the view of the pretty uniforms and all] while in the field, soldiers would place them around the shoulders and at the hips to have them at hand.  Nevertheless, all the illustrations have them of a regular design so I modified each canteen on the plastic Chasseurs. 

The Saxons fusiliers which will be for all my formations, did wear the cross belts having hangers [swords] which had a straight single handed hilt and not the “D” shaped ones of the Chasseurs.  This was the most difficult of the scrapings especially with some of the lack of undercuts of the sculpts and touch to reach areas.  The long scabbards were also trimmed.  While most of this could have been ignored and only noticed by the most obsessed ‘button-counter’ I decided that I would be one this time and get it right. Unfortunately it took the most time.

Headgear is usually the most obvious visual part of any uniform. The bearskins of the Chasseurs were stored away as the Saxons wore a version of a French style shako.  Unfortunately I had very few appropriate ones on hand.  However, to suit the greatcoat, I went with the Prussian covered version with the caveat that I had to remove the distinctive crown bulge of the covered cockade. This proved easy and gave a great “Saxon” oilskin covering with the ties in the back - looks different from the typical French look.  You will have to trust me on this.

A few uncovered shakos were added for the boys carrying the standards which would will be in the front rank of the formations .  These were 1809 Russian ‘un-Kiwer’ shakos with the badge removed but with the cords retained. I wanted the white cockade to say “we ain’t French" 

With the shakos done, I also wanted some of the whiteness of the Saxons to be shown and their forage caps were white of a later Prussian design (which was copied from the Napoleonic Russian version incidentally) To my great “luck” I did indeed buy the Perry Russian Infantry which have plenty of these caps! I love plastics for this.  So I placed on a few to add a bit of colour to what will be a sea of grey and black.  

With some flags, these formations will scream ‘Saxon’  for any of the 1813 battles…. I hope.
Showing the trimmed ex-Prussian shako and scraped canteen
Perry Russian forge cap head glued on 
Russian shako with cords. Saxon shako was very similar. 
My scrapings on the back for the hilt and scabbard modifications  Looks very rough but hopefully my thick paint application will cover most of this. Hopefully.

Now some might say why the heck not just buy the wonderful available miniatures of “Westphalia” or others.  Why the time and effort?  Well, I still want the light weight of plastics, the drab look of the greatcoats which is my image of the fighting during 1813-1815 (yeah not very Napoleonic of me is it?) but all this conversion was done on the weekend my sister-in-law was over to visit and with me nearby in the other room to be ready for lunches and some chatting, was ‘out of the way’ so they could have some “sister bonding time” 
Good for everyone!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

some artillery "reinforcements"

With the somewhat 'dramatic' change, not necessarily in the conduct of artillery fire within the rules but the number of firings/rolls allowed, the number of models required has bumped up slightly.  For the French I already had the models, for the Allies I required but two more, one for the Netherlanders and one more British horse artillery which we shall see shortly.  The Prussians needed four more, one of which I had already painted, one foot which I need to buy, and two horse artillery gun which, again, will be shown below.
The newly created artillery ratios are a result of integrating the number of rolls each gun model may conduct per turn with the actual historical number of guns within each formation for which the gun represents the artillery component. This is a great idea which a play test with David in our last game he suggested as an off the cuff remark but which I seized upon.  Simply, the MP (our little black dice) of each gun now represents 8 historical guns - a usual battery strength historically for many nations - per pip.  So a corps with 64 guns has 8 pips worth of fire and can roll the die up to 8 times to try to damage the enemy.  Obviously range and number of targets will influence the ultimate number but now we don't have the everything-in-range-can-be-fired-upon havoc we had in our convention games.  It was a little too much of a good thing.
So, back to the example, the corps has 8 pips of rolls but, our little black dice are but six-sided so 2 gun models are needed.  It is up to the player how to distribute the pips but the usual is probably have 4 MP/pips on each.  As "attrition" and enemy damage reduce this number, obviously the efficiency of the artillery will be reduced as it can fire/roll less times.

The one interesting aspect of this new approach is we do not have a need for close range fire rules as there is nothing to suggest a player cannot concentrate all his fire (roll all the dice) against only one target; that target either charging him or at near enough as to have all other target, if available not worthy of the effort.  Read: 'grand battery'

Previously with our Order of Battle we fudged much of the deployments as we struggled to keep the overall gun to foot to horse ratios intact. Now we can accurately establish the exact number of MPs needed and thus the number of gun models for each formation and indeed the type - foot or horse - which is the reason of my slight increase in artillery models.

Indeed, if a collector is so inclined, he could now represent that one battery attached to the lone cavalry brigade as a 1 MP gun model.  However, should he sustain but one hit, the model must be removed from the table as so that might be a somewhat 'expensive' endeavour.  However, even if chosen, the number of rolls does not change regardless of the number of models on the table and is based on historical allocation alone.  Very good that and eliminates the guess work for scenario design.

I have been fortunate that these new numbers are not many and so the costs have not been large especially as I have kinda cheated a bit.  With a trade with Mike B., and his generosity in giving me some loose figures he had lying about, I cobbled together some of the more unique models.

For the British I needed one more RHA.  Mike in our trading, provided 3 previously painted figures but no gun of course.  However I do have a love for the delightfully silly Congreve rockets and Winyates' RHA battery of Waterloo fame provided me the excuse to use him as an example for my new model.
I firmly believe that the gigantic 'ladder' models of Old Glory and Foundry for example were for the very heavy 24 or 32 pound shells for use in siege warfare and not on the battlefield.  The reference books all have the well-know illustration showing, in scale, the various rocket sizes down to the 6 pounder shell no doubt fired by Winyates at Waterloo, firing them as he did, on the ground.  Thus I portrayed the same.  Yes, yes, probably should be a trough but I decided to forego it.

The rocket part of each was a cast from unknown origins to which I glued a piece of wire. It really was that small.   I repainted the Foundry RHA figures but did no modifications as their poses work and the mere three don't look out of place with the other more populous artillery stands and were free  <grin>

The Prussian army of 1815 was an amalgam of the numerous previous states which were under French control or influence many as late as several months before the start of the 100 Days Campaign.  The Duchy of Berg merged into the Prussian army with many of their old French style uniforms still worn (the white tunics of the infantry) and the blue and red of the artillery.  I had some French style artillery gun models about so I went about heavily modifying some other crew figures I got from Mike B.

The result is the Prussian Horse Battery Nr.20 (ex-Berg) of 1815.
From the poses you might have deduced these were from Old Glory.  Actually British 1809 crew from which I chopped off their heads and replaced with British hussar heads [for the large cockade which is similar to those of the Prussian] reducing the plume and removing part of the shako flounders/cords.  The horse artillery, thinking themselves cavalry, I needed to add some Perry dismounted dragoon scabbards.  A change of tunic and pant colour - I left one in his old blue trousers and painted the new Prussian grey ones for the rest.  They look both Prussian-ish and their previous Frenchie-ness, which is the whole point.

The second Prussian horse battery [Nr 18] is also unique as it is the ex-Russo-German Legion artillery which integrated into the Prussian army in February of 1815 but continued to wear it's Russian/Prussian uniform.
For this unit, I used Old Glory Russian horse artillery figures (surprising that, really...) but need to remove the heads as the RGL used Kivers and not the combed helmets of the Russians.  So I used Warlord heads for these.  The weird OG poses were bent to show the crew hauling up the gun manually.  It works well I think.

Again, the cheap bugger that I am*, the figures were inexpensive (read: free) and the gun, while somewhat inappropriate should some rivet counter come along, is of the Napoleonic era, painted in Prussian blue and so close enough!

*edit:  Oh I can afford wargaming. It is, cost to time engaged, an extremely inexpensive hobby but I am trying for low expenditures merely to control my obsessiveness! See, my dear, it is in print....


Monday, 30 June 2014

420 miles/ 672 km.... to play wargames

and then back home again....

Mike and I have known each other for many years, meeting a couple times a year for a wargame or two.  But the last time I was at his home, in the small town of some 5,600 souls in northern British Columbia, Canada, was 24 years ago!
So, with air flight ticket paid for with loyalty points.  And he a weekend off work, we had two and half days of fun pushing around some miniatures.

Mike in his own bit of heaven;  his wargame loft.





His [partial] army collection!  Needless to say we used only his figures.
The no chips (British translation: crisps) zone!




"the entrance to heaven"  His 'ladder' to the loft is a bit steep. He is so devoted to the hobby, he removed his roof to build this loft on top of his house!
After I snooped around the loft like a dog in a new house, going this way and that, poking my nose into every box and shelf, we got "down to business" and began the weekend with a Muskets and Tomahawks game.  I wanted to try this newish rule set as I need a good skirmish one for myself.   While it does have some gaps, and does involve a bit of dice rolling, the whole effect is fairly good.  We did not get into the role-playing as suggested in the rules but played it straight up with Mike commanding the British and I, the French.


It can be played on a small table.  The white round counters are my Indians blinds.





I have secured the village as Mike's British cross the bridges.



Mike had previously purchased my AWI collection and a few were used in this game. Good to see them again.




Ah, yes, my usual dice rolling.  Only three hits out of the 12 die thrown...




Entertaining game which seemed to ebb back and forth depending on how poorly we each rolled that turn.  Mike's dice were not hot either.
massed French vs Rangers behind a stone wall...oh, dear. It did not work out well for me.

We played and talked well into the wee hours.  We could say we were lulled by the continued sunlight as, at this high latitude, darkness does not really occur until 23:00 (11 pm), however, to be honest, we were enjoying the conversation and game.
Next day arose fairly early to watch the World Cup Football match.  After which, Mike's usual gaming buddies, Stede and Scott, arrived to play a Fire and Fury ACW scenario of the Battle of Spring Hill.  I took command of the Confederate cavalry which, for this scenario, did not have ammo so no use dismounting,eh. And they are directly across a stream from ready Union brigades but the terrain did not suggest a flanking move.  But once Mike, as GM, said moving across the stream was not disordering but a mere 3" move penalty I knew I would be a grey-clad 'Custer'; Reb's +1 for charging and all....

my Rebel cavalry has already pushed back the Union boys and occupy the town on the way to capture their supply train (upper right) the victory condition (other than eliminate the enemy)
a photo of one of my wild-ass but generally successful charges


The game was good as the friends agreed the scenario was interesting and no doubt they will have another go at it.  The Fire and Fury rules always give a good result. 

With the friends departure and after dinner, we had a go at a Russian (me) vs Prussian (Mike) Seven Years War affair with a home brew ruleset which I had started but failed to continue to playtest.  However previous games excited Mike enough for him to base this large collection to my style of basing!  So we spent another long evening ( 0330 hours in this case!) playing and revising.  Fun stuff. And no, not even close to being cohesive.

Mike's Russian infantry in the large stand basing style.




I massed the Russian artillery (yes, they were in red during the SYW)




My painted Bosniaks unit of the Prussian army now in Mike's collection.



Ability to move elements is based on the number of pips the player rolls.  We had large commands and only one d6 per so without group moves, you tend to fight with limited troops, so much of your army is not being committed.  In my case, my masses of Russian infantry were stationary on the flanks while the cavalry fought on the left flank and Mike's Prussians slowly crushed my center.  I managed to kinda plug the gap but I was already starting to call the retreat.

The 'Yellow Hussars' on my left flank stayed locked in combat for five turns! thereby thwarting the Prussian advance



The Prussian masses in the center.  The horse on the left is my Russian heavies to which I had to attach my CinC to move them which will see them turn left and break the Prussian green clad Freikorps in the caps and with really no option but to continue this 'death ride' around the Prussian army in its rear!  I lost his extra command pips which hurt my battle plans.




a 'gamer's view' of the SYW battle from the Prussian perspective
 On Sunday again breakfast watching the World Cup football and then upstairs to have a go at his home brew AWI rules which is an interest mix of parts of all the other rules he uses. 
The first game was a small scenario which a British regular force was attacked by a much larger but mostly militia army.  While the British did have reinforcements coming to the rescue, they were not needed as the poor militia had a tough time of it as they usual do with disorganization, routing, and poor fire.  Many times, Mike's poor rolls did not help :-)


a good example of the basing for both this AWI unit and of his (and mine) SYW formations


the game in action with the British confidently holding their positions




a couple of my former painted units shooting at each other

from the second game.  The cotton puffs indicate that the unit has not moved and cannot but has a +1 for "volley fire"

However all good things must end, and so on Monday morning I was at the airport for the hour and half flight home.  The day was nice and sunny all the way.  A good weekend.

From inside the Smither's terminal building looking at the mountains (no, not zoomed) The local skyhill is a bit to the left off camera.




The view of the coast of BC from 15,000 feet. 




Usually the mountains are obscured by rain clouds.  But are pretty on days like this

The Dash 8 in which I flew.






Sunday, 22 June 2014

Battle of Souffel game

The game was based on the Age of Eagles scenario for the historical Battle of La Souffel  28 June, 1815 after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo as French General Rapp tried to hold off the advance of the overwhelming Allied advance from the Rhine in central France at the Souffel River.  This was a holding action during his retreat to Strasbourg.
     
As I do not yet have all the Allies ready for Waterloo, but to celebrate the eve of Waterloo 199 last Tuesday (June 17th) I wanted a Waterloo related battle.  While not much is known of this engagement, the AoE scenario was used a basis for at least the ratios of combatants and a rough scenario design.  I didn't really think of the limited crossings however! Oops. What is it with me and river crossings??!

I substituted the Allies with others I have in my collection thus far, so the Austrians were poorer graded Prussians (Austrians not all that enthusiastic) better grade Prussians for the Wurttemburgers which seemed to be at the forefront of many of the Austrian advances in 1814-15 ; and the highly rated Hessians I used my newly painted Hanoverians/KGL/British elements to get them on the table!  I had enough French <grin>

David was kind enough to come over and stay late to give the rules a going over.

The photo above does highlight that due in large part to the restriction of crossings  --- I will just have to get that Genie/pontoon group from the Perrys! -- it did allow the concentration of artillery which we could playtest their rules and comment.  What David and I discussed and came up with is really good IMHO and his almost offhand comment about the MP dice, had the light bulb go off and I quickly linked this to historical OOBs for future scenarios.*

French cavalry come across the "incredibly wide bridge" for a "sniff" and.....


...retire quickly finding the Prussians coming at them.

David does an excellent job at remembering the battle and giving a blow by blow description of the action.  You can find the first installment at: link to narrative


French Chasseurs in forage caps to give a hint at the poorer quality of cavalry the French had at their disposal in the later years.  Converted plastics.
my "British" for Waterloo contingent standing in for Hessians during the battle

*late into that night I studied my order of battle references for Waterloo and a few other battles and found a close correlation between the number of gun models I currently have to the 'new' ratio established.  It is good that not many more guns will be needed!  The new method will really help in keeping the scenario distribution of artillery much more fair and much easier to do than before for our big scale game.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Wide bridge

Now how to have my huge element stands look nice upon the table while crossing a river without them precariously sitting upon a thin resin bridge structure or such?

Inspired by what I saw as an inventive solution, I did a quick cut out from hardboard to match the latex river sections {these are from "Wizardcraft" }

Using a section of wall to represent "the bridge" I covered it with the usual wood putty and flocking.  On the outside edges and under the wall I copied the water color and edging grit to try to give a bit of an "under the stone arch" effect.     This is basically a very wide space [~ 5 inches or 12 cm]  for the elements to pass over the river and hopefully will keep any rule 'discussions' over location and unit direction short.


photo taken from a recent game
Led by an infantry brigade, followed by dragoons, the Prussian army crosses the river

The inspiration.  The crossing created by Francis.