Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Naval Landing Party - painted

I have just completed my British landing party of sailors I have previously reviewed (see:  http://dotsofpaint.blogspot.com/2012/01/miniatures-review-brigade-games-british.html  ) I rushed to complete and hit them with a coat of protective spray outside while the weather was good.  The city [Vancouver, Canada] does not get very many days of sun, dry, and windless days; and even less likely all together, during the winter and one must take advantage of the conditions should they occur!
And excited about getting this unit done, I spend time into the early hours basing them.  Rather than placing them into a beach-like sand terrain, I decided to continue with my normal way of terraining the bases with pre-colored wood putty and use of flocking to match the table mat.  The 'shurubbery ' is naturally growing moss found on many rocks and trees of the area which surprisingly does not dry out when plucked and looks, well, natural.

The painting went OK, but I had a tough time doing my usual highlighting as the 'folds' of the clothing is quite subtle in the sculpts.  Now this is not to say it is bad.  Quite realistic in fact.  Rather than the exaggerated folds and undercuts of other sculptures this would very much serve the "block" painter who uses either a simple one color effect or washes. 
And I would admit that I am not spending as much time on painting as I have in the past; doing with less (perhaps because of less time and older eyes?) but OK still for the tabletop.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sedentary Militia of The War of 1812

Sedentary Militia of Lower Canada during the War of 1812

Lower Canada (modern day Province of Quebec) was the heartland of New France before its fall to the British during the 'French and Indian War' (the continuation of the Seven Years War in North America) some 50 years before. 
By the time of the War of 1812, the French-Canadians felt (and still do) that they would do better under the British (Canadians) than the Americans.  Faced with invasion during Hampton's advance in the fall of 1813, the Sedentary militia were called to arms.  During the Battle of Chateauguay, a company fired upon the American flanking force and caused it to retire.  [ the French-Canadian then buggered off, but so did the American regulars!  A particularly 'interesting' battle - a skirmish really- with only a few casualties  and having a very uninspiring leadership and poorly motivated American regulars vastly outnumbering a small but well led Canadian force.] It is interesting to game.

from the Osprey title showing the Sedentary militia on the left
The Sedentary militia wore their traditional capot (jacket) and toque (wool cap).  As noted by a British officer, apparently they were quite 'uniform' in appearance and so I painted them as such.

 My wargame version are Front Rank figures from the FIW range with a minor modification of covering up the 18th Century use of feather trim to their cartridge bag with modeling putty and painting the belts white rather than the earlier natural leather belts.  However any FIW French-Canadian militia in capot or winter dress (a description applicable for most ranges I would assume) would certainly play the part.
My Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia (Front Rank figures with British officer in the usual red coat - to make the unit more War of 1812-ish!)

Monday, 13 February 2012

"Battle of Hannah's Cattle Yards"

I am having an internal debate whether to call this a fictional or historical battle.  It is certainly based upon a real battle of the AWI (the title may have already given away the particulars) however I have decided to play it to a War of 1812 tune - with the forces 'reversed' as it were.

My Seventeen US Infantry representing the AWI British Legion in this game

The potted historical account:The American invasion of Lower Canada made rapid advance chasing the British forces and threatening to catch them as they crossed the Broad River.  Rather than retreating the British commander placed his troops in defensive positions to meet the American advance in a series of defensive lines with the hope that each would weaken the American units until they hit the third and best trained units who would defeat the American forces.  Thus the first line was composed of the Canadian Voltigeurs (a well trained French-Canadian light infantry formation) along with the light companies of the Select Embodied Militia(seasoned fighters).  A full musket range away to the rear was the main body of the poorly trained Sedentary Militia of Lower Canada who were asked only to fire two or three volleys before they could retire to the rear.  Hopefully then after moving through these lines the Americans would be so disordered by casualties that the final line of British regulars would rout them.

By now it would be apparent that the battle is Cowpens.  The American (nee AWI British) deployment can be seen in the following photo.  The American Light Dragoons took the spot of the British Legion Horse, the US Twenty-Eighth Infantry for the poor 7th F, the US Seventeenth Infantry for the British Legion Foot, the US Sixteenth for the veteran 71st Highlanders and the New York Light Dragoons for the British 17th Dragoons on the right flank.
From the American position showing the 28th Inf on the left with the 17th Inf on the right and the artillery placed in the center.  The three lines of awaiting British forces can be seen in the background with the British 19th Light Dragoons on the hill in the far distance. Because of the historical deployment of the British (AWI American) lines some 150 yards from each other, I placed each the furtherest musket range by the rules.  It makes for a very long battlefield!
  The challenge was to see if the rules could recreate the battle or at least if the battle could be played out near what happened historically.
Surprisingly I had to fudge only a little :-) to have things move along.  I might add at this point that the home rules are NOT ready nor will be for public use. I use them as a frame work only. Besides, the dice always dictate the outcome of the game, not the rules, and certainly not the players!

 **I will now only use the  War of 1812 designations for all units**

  I tried to move units as they did historically and as much as the rules would allow them. I placed the American units at extreme musket fire range and allowed them first shot before the American move; again to simulate the effective fire by the Americans in the actual battle.  Apparently 39% of the casualties were officers and NCOs!!  Thus the disruption on the units must have been very significant.  And this was apparent in my scenario as the small contingent of Light Dragoons were stopped in their tracks and routed by the Voltigeurs.  On the American right wing the Light Infantry advanced well and with the New York Dragoon threat saw off the SEM skirmishers with the red-coated New York horsemen in pursuit.  However the 19th Light Dragoons, just like their cavalry representatives of the actual battle, came to the rescue - and rolled the '6' for combat! - and defeated the New Yorkers and saved the militiamen. 
The New York 5th Light Dragoons are a well illustrated unit in the War of 1812 uniform reference books.  Red was apparently a popular color for the militia cavalry of eastern New York.  These boys made an appearance at Plattsburgh in 1814.

My western American frontier militia of the War of 1812 are conversions from the Old Glory Tennesseans of the Texas War of Independence range.  Before I made more extensive research I figured the militia to be, well more 'Napoleonic' with shakos and all.  So I chopped off heads and replaced with extras I had.  While the long huntingshirts are accurate, in reality, most of the boys would be wearing slouch hats or 'top hats' [do check out Kuckleduster Miniatures for some very nice examples]

The American artillery only got off a shot before being masked by the American advance. It played no further part in the battle until it finally and unwisely unlimbered to help the final American push only to be captured by the rapid British attack after the Americans quickly routed
My really big gun artillery. Perhaps the whole gun including wheel size is over scale but I like the look of the mass.  In the battle I was recreating the artillery was only tiny 3 pounders!

With lots of disorder, the American units surprisingly continued to advance (always just enough on the dice roll with modifiers and some help from the General adding his effect to keep the shot up units moving)  Some of the Sedentary militia put in at least one shot into the Americans before being force to retire.
Mid-game overview showing the American advance from the left and the Sedentary militia falling back (center) and the British regulars awaiting the American advance on the hills (upper right) As the game was a historic battle reenactment, it was duly spaced out and devoid of much terrain; I usually keep it much tighter.  One certainly notices the vast stretches of green cloth in photos than in the game in person for some reason. I do not try very hard with my photography; trust me the mat is green (old GeoHex/GameWorkshop ones which are the same flocking as Woodland Scenics Blended Green flocking)in the lighting it seems very brownish.

Now the Americans staggered up to the main line of British veteran regulars (the unit on their right was Virginia Militia but said to be made up of ex-regulars and its actions in the real battle suggest an above class ranking) The Twenty-Eighth was so shot up at 50% casualties that the 16th in reserve moved passed them to meet the British regulars.

My American early war Sixteenth US Infantry pretending to be the 71st British Highland Foot of the American War of Independence
Thus the final act of the battle commenced.  The British veterans after firing a couple of volleys and assessing the American units to be with much disorder, came off the hill. The Seventeenth could not regain order and continued to fall back with the 100th Foot advancing. The 1st Foot in the center swung right to confront the weak Twenty-Eighth. While on the British right, the Canadian militia held firm supported by the reformed Voltigeurs and the 19th Dragoons who had made their way from the far right [this was the historic actions of the Revolutionary troopers but I needed to have them move at maximum distance rather than the usual random movement dice and command rolls] 

The USLD (playing at being the AWI British Legion Cavalry) played the part very well as they took casualties from the same skirmishers who emptied many of their companions saddles in the early stages of the battle and so promptly fled from the field.  This left the Sixteenth Infantry without cavalry support.  Their right flank was threatened by the advancing 1st Foot , they would get no help from the badly shot up Twenty-Eighth and the General was no where to be seen.  Their predicament must have been felt by the dice as it rolled a '1' and had them rout taking the Twenty-Eighth with them.

All the Americans were now in rout or would be captured.  So the game did mimic for the most part, the actions of the historic battle.  The Americans (the British in the actual battle) went right up the middle and paid the price in excessive disorder and casualties.  I played it as Tarleton did.  That it ended the same was fun.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Blitzkreig "end-around"

Yesterday was another Monday night game and back to WW2 for a 1941 scenario of the Germans needing to get off the table with vehicles to gain VPs and both sides gaining VPs for every enemy infantry eliminated.  As the Germans "had excellent intelligence on Russians" the Russian deployed first into a rather open and random light field defences; while the Germans could see where they could best attack.  This, and that the Germans are all veterans, while the Russians were only trained; had the two Russian commanders already complaining (not that it takes all that much to get Dave hanking on about how the rules, scenario, dice, troops, tanks etc etc etc all suck....) 
The Russian "open area" defence concept
I proposed the German attack as an "end around" with me taking the three heavy StuGs and half the infantry to move along the far left of the Russian line, much like an American football lineman moving to block while Francis taking the lighter equipment would move in behind me to move fast down the table to reach the far end and the "end-zone" for more points.  As good as the plan was (and to my surprise even Dave suggested we should had done the same) Francis,..ahh..., 'misinterpreted' the orders and pushed his forces either into the woods for firefights with the Russians or putting his amoured cars into range of the Russian tanks and thereby masking my line of sight with my StuGs. Argh.

At the start of the game the Russians Dave and Brandon were beaking about the scenario but with the Germans getting mixed up and thus slowing up allowing more Russians into the fray, they were happier - better dice also - of course.  The Stuka which Francis had brought into the game as the next addition to learn how air attacks operated, failed to show up after only the first strikes so as not to have the Russian get MORE into a tizzy. (I guess it developed "mechanical trouble"....sigh)

Realizing there is no way we, the Germans, could reach the end of the table, and tired of getting poor numbers in the trying , I changed tactics and went right at the Russians.  I had some 10s on the dice come my way and quickly the Russians were back complaining again about the scenario, numbers equipment they should have ...blaa, blaa, blaa...
The German final assault on the Russian left flank hill position.  The photo shows the two armored cars destroyed or abandoned earlier (right) and the lead StuG hit by the T-34 lurking around the corner of the hill (left).  The Germans fortunately did not lose any infantry stands and took out a fair number of Russians to win the battle.  Rules are Battlefront.  Figures 15mm from Francis' collection.

Poland defended!

Another Monday Night game of Napoleonic 15mm at Francis' using Shako II rules.  This was a play test of the new set of scenarios which will be published; this the "Battle of Jedlinsk"
"A pre-battle beverage sir?"
Basically, the second rate Poles are defending against mostly second rate Austrians.   Shako scenarios dictate where deployment zones are restricted.  I am always amazed how quickly the OTHER side moves.  I guess I should always be rated 'Plodding'?  
My Poles advancing (Old Glory 15mm painted by me) The base sizes are unique to Francis and which I copied.

As usual my die rolling was not hot and I was not on my 'A' game that night.  I was getting frustrated I was getting caught out and having units getting destroyed.
Austrians in the distance, my Poles defending in the foreground. The markers (my God! Austrian markers on Polish troops! Heaven forbid.  And that's why I almost lost!) indicate staggers and hits
With the game in the balance a remarkable occurrence would make the history books.  Kev had kept his only two trained regular battalions in reserve and moved them up to bolster his weak front line.  In desperation I hurled one of my second-rate battalions at them.  Finally, some good dice on my part and poor ones by Kev (the appeals to the dice-gods finally coming through!) and it broke not one but both of the Austrian 'good' units.  "Oh for #$@* sakes!" was the cry from the red-pant General.
The "white killers" Polish column (bottom of photo) seen in the process of destroying the Austrians while their General looks on.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Poor Cousin: the War of 1812

I went over to Barry's place yesterday and enjoyed his "museum". He is the "ultimate wargamer" of the region.  His gaming room has a 6" by 18" (?) (Very BIG anyway) table - currently completely covered in figures needing basing.  He has a very large militaria collection of actual and recreated helmets, shakos, weapons, flags etc. I mean who else would have a panzerfaust leaning against the wall and an authentic Russian cuirassier helmet c1808 nearby?! It is extremely fun to fondle such items.

Now the point!
He also has an extensive wargame/military library from which I borrowed several uniform reference books which I have yet to see.  I picked these particular books as I am currently on this War of 1812 kick and thought these books would add to my knowledge base.  Apparently I was mistaken. 

The first books were part of the famous Funcken series.  These were the originals written in French "L'UNIFORME ET LES ARMES DES SOLDATS DES ETATS-UNIS"  I suppose I should not have been shocked at the only brief examination of the uniforms for the War of 1812 as it is not mentioned in the sub-title (in English: the Wars of Independence, Succession, of Mexico and in the Far-West). Yup, no mention of poor old 1812.  While plate after color plate shows for example the dress outfits of the cavalry c1880, only one poor plate shows only a few examples from the war and three are of the same artillery outfit.  Argh.  Very little space is committed to the descriptions.  So any purchasers out there are duly warned.

I also borrowed The West Point Military History Series on the" Early American Wars and Military Institutions".   This series is noted for its large maps.  This book is 76 pages of text but only has less than 5 devoted to the entire history of this long war. Of the maps only four are of the conflict, the first three covering the first three years of the war showing the eastern part of North America and the major offensive thrusts as only small arrows. Only the Battle of New Orleans gets a full page (the only battle the Americans can rightly claim as victors. coincidence? I think not) Oh, by the way, the map is not worth the effort, I have seen maps on the internet just as useful.

Yes, I stayed up late, prepared my hot-toddy, and was disappointed.
The War of 1812 is the poor cousin to all the other, "more glorious" wars Americans have engaged in, it would seem. (grin)