Thursday, 25 December 2014

Layout for Waterloo refight

With the Highlanders completed [ see previous post ], this (almost) completes what I need to do a tabletop game of Waterloo.  Woohoo.  Let's consider it a Christmas present to myself.

With the 200th anniversary coming up next year, there will be a flurry of games by individuals, bloggers and clubs.  It should be interesting to tally the results and see if Napoleon indeed had a chance.  I don't think the manner of the rules will have much bearing.  I would hope that most will start with the historical set up and play out the game from the actual deployments; but as I plan to do, will also try the 'the French can do whatever they want' game.  Both added together should give a good idea whether Welly was good, lucky, really needed the Prussians, or Napoleon played it all wrong.

For the 8 x 5 foot table space available at the conventions I will only use simple green mats.  The buildings are paper models and the rye fields are cut up straw feet mats and are just to fill in some empty space.  A modelled ridge line is not used as it was certainly not considerable and did not impede or slow movement and does not form any defensive importance but rather only as a slight rise for line of sight. Thus the road forms that feature.

I took a few overhead shots to help with future set-ups

Historical deployment.  Looking north from behind French lines - above Rosomme like in some fictional balloon.  Hougomont is the brick complex on the left, LaHayeSainte upper middle, LaBelleAlliance building with the red roof, lower centre, Papalotte/Fischermont upper right and finally Planceoit lower right.
The French deployments:
Reilly's Corps facing Hougomont, with Kellerman's heavy cavalry to their rear.  Barely visible within Hougomont's woods, are the Nassau defenders  
The centre of the French deployment showing Lobau/Mouton's Corps across the road from LaBelleAlliance, and the Guard infantry and cavalry to their rear, along the road to Brussels. 

Continuing east-bound, we have D'Erlon's Corps in column masse ready to attack and with the "Grand Battery" made up of his and a Guard artillery model.  While perhaps not visually massive, it does have a lot of firepower, but with only Bylandt's brigade and the Netherland artillery exposed on the ridge, one can understand that they would be hit hard.
* the green stick indicates a move distance.  
 The Allies positions:

We view the Allied left flank from the French point of view.  The road runs along the "crest" of the ridge and thus, all those units north of the road cannot be seen from the French positions.  While sketched deployments can be used or better yet dummy markers for more accurate placement, I will chose, at least for the historical version, to have everything on the table.  Looks prettier!  French artillery can hit units over the crest but with a harsh modifier and only try once per unit per turn to replicate the indirect thus random fire to these hidden units to the French. Should still help a bit as it still did on that day. 
The Allied right, again from the French point of view. Hougomont on the left and LHS on the right, does not allow much room for attack.  Historically the French cavalry attacked through this area.

Now looking south from the ridge:
From above the Allied centre, we can see Picton's infantry of Highlanders and Hanoverians deployment just behind the ridge line and the British heavy horse of the Scots Greys and Households with the Dutch and Belgian Carabineers behind.
Note that I have added the lone "Wellington's Tree" to keep up with the mythology of this battle! 
From above the Allied right flank showing the brigades deployed behind Hougomont
The camera seems to find lots of open green space while the human eye does not. Why is that? The tabletop appears much closer and better I must say, as I admit spending more than a few minutes gazing upon the whole scene, seeing the results of about a few years effort, made among other projects and painting.....

....Right, enough of that.  Where are my primered Russians.....

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My Waterloo Highland Units

"Don't do it!  Think of your life! Think about what it will do to your eyes!"

Those were my thoughts to myself but there wasn't anything but to pick up the 000 paint brush and get to it. So after much deliberate delay, I finally got to the tartans...and all the British regimental lace...and the bleeping bagpipes.....

For the element's strength ratios of the rules, one can often pick and choose which individual regiments one will want to use to represent the entire brigade.  Well, for the brigades of Picton's Division I picked the Highland Regiments.  How could I not, actually.  They are THE units of Waterloo.

The 79th Camerons

the 92nd Gordons

While I only really needed the 79th and 92nd to represent the brigades, I also painted up the famous 42nd (the Black Watch) at the same time as they are well known and can be used in the Quatre-Bras scenario as they were chewed up by French cavalry. To that end, I used at the kneeling figures - from a Victrix box of flank company types and ignored the overuse of the shoulder wings - to create a "square-like" vignette of tense action amidst the rye.
the Black Watch at The Battle of Quatre-Bras.  My version anyway.
I decided to do all the regiments together with the idea, like peeling a bandage off the hairy part of you leg all at once rather than doing it slowly.

Old eyes and impatience. But these still took a long time to paint. That is all I have to say about that.

 As a final note, I added "Colonel Gordon" to the Duke of Wellington's command stand for, in the movie "Waterloo" he seemed to have the most interaction with the Allied commander.  "Some of the lads can call me more than colonel"
"The lads are down to three rounds a man......Och aye, they'll stand" 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

the Waagh Wagon

Those of you who are serious historical wargamers might want to look away now as I am about to show my excursion into the "silly-side" of the miniature gaming. 

The other day I pulled out an long buried box
which jolted the memory to recall over a decade ago when I was drawn into gathering at Lisa's place (a dramatic leader of alternative gaming at the local club) for a building session of her new game of 'shoot-em' up' car racing.  Obviously inspired by GW's Waagh, she gathered a bunch of toy 1:35 scale Humvee models which we all proceeded to dismantle, or add to, or modify to our hearts content.  Frankly, a bunch of strangers all together with the task to build with similar models with a big box 'o bits was, I remember, a hoot. 

I chopped the roof off my Hummer thinking it would be easier to place the necessary driver and crew within, having some Orks lying about  -- and why did I have these??? However they provided the inspiration for the haphazardly armored, quite rusted but heavily weaponed, bucket of a wagon. 

my rust-bucket of a vehicle with the pit stall behind

The construction was mainly of plastic found in household goods packaging!  The result was then painted to simulate rust.

The game was to create your own vehicle based upon a point system.  Up-armor = 2 pts, +1 on driver reaction = 1 pt, extra nitro =3 pts;  that sort of thing.  So every one starts the race with the same points expended but the attributes of the vehicle could be very different.  I went with armor and fire-power.  Very Orkish I thought.   I remember in my first game I started last (rolled the lowest....once again <sigh>) but ended up finishing first as I destroyed every vehicle I came up to with my flamer up front or the heavy bolter to the rear should any fool come up to try to lap me!  The game was kinda NASCAR with guns and nasty obstacles (oil slicks, barricades etc. ...and land mines - if memory serves me ....  and probably doesn't) 

Great fun.  Haven't played it many years but will hold onto the model.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pavlovski Grenadiers

The famous Pavlovski grenadiers form my first element of Russian infantry painted.

Could not help myself but to buy the lone pack sitting in the store's new bargain bin.  It is ex-Victrix metal selection.  Discovered upon getting home and, more importantly getting the reading glasses on - getting old just sucks - that they are of the earlier 1805 uniform with waist belt and round backpack.  With the simple thought that the basic uniform is the same -  a Russian is a Russian  - I painted them up nonetheless, adding a Perry officer who, with swinging sword, also serves to fill in the extra gap in the line with the lack of numbers.

The regiment is famous for the continued wearing of the old-fashioned mitre headdress and was an elite unit and in 1813 was elevated to the Russian Imperial Guard.   Officers wore shakos apparently allowing me to use the additional officer figure.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Russian field fortifications at Borodino

I still remember two great influences of my wargaming interest as a kid.  A book on Waterloo which I still own and a relative's novel "War and Peace" with very moody painting of battle scenes which I still have in my memory.  No, I have not read the novel, well except those chapters about the battle itself, of course! But those illustrations still stay with me thus, I guess, my obsession to game this battle.

Of course one of the most important focal points was the main Redoubt the Russians built. The other, the Fleches, I think would make good victory points in recreating the battle.  Russians have them, the French need them for the points.  While historically the battle became pointless, for wargamers it is pride in that of the taking, just as it was in real life.

So without further ado, my Raevski's "Grand Redoubt" ......

Raevski's Redoubt .... 

Yeah, not all that grand, eh?
Well, in size, it really wasn't.  While I have seen very large renditions with 8 or more model cannons, those were for battalion scaled games and might well have been even overlarge for that.  Indeed the redoubt was only less than 200 meters (~200 yards) in length and having only 18 guns or 1.5 Russian batteries within.

I viewed several maps and have made the tabletop scale approximately 1 foot of table to 1 kilometer (0.62 miles). The table will be only 8 by 5 feet.    So at 200 meters the redoubt is about 1/5 of a foot which, if all my math is correct - never a sure bet - is about 2.5 inches or under 6 cm.   So my redoubt at 4 inches is oversized!!  Yes, the vertical and horizontal scale problem of wargaming rears annoyingly again.
Add caption
Obviously I did not plan all this out while starting the building.  I simply just took an available piece of hardboard for the base and started cutting hard insulation foam to shape.  With such a small footprint I decided on a more abstract creation knowing I could not possibly get all the correct details within. I did elevate it a bit as to give it more imposing character.  In the game,  as historically, it may well become an important focal point.
The French attack in masse.  The Pavlovski Grenadiers help defend.

The Fleches are similar in their small footprint.  Rather than have the proper three separate earthworks in the correct configuration - resulting in a model more suited to 6mm than our 28mm - I went for only one earthwork, not particularly tall,  to portray the rather inadequate protection it offered.  Due to its open nature, in the game it will offer no combat protection at all and only to forward fired cannon shot.
The Fleches

Again, as historically, it becomes a focal point, a marker almost, to be fought over.

The models have the necessary dice frame holder for the rules however the crew are detached to allow placement on other stands should they be required. The figures are Foundry and were acquired from MikeB who got them, poorly painted, in an ebay lot but he did not require.  So with a quick repaint, their small bases are ideal for these field fortification models.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Battle of Wavre 1815 refought

As Dave B. is an excellent sounding board ideas for developing the ongoing Napoleonic rules, a foisted upon him another Napoleonic game.

The Battle of Wavre was fought at the same time as Waterloo so gets little of the same treatment as it was considered a side show to Waterloo's main event.  Even the Prussians themselves knew this to be true and so left General Thielemann with less than his full corps to delay Marshal Grouchy ('Grew-she') while the rest of the Prussian army left to beat up on the Wellington's forces.
My "Marshal Grouchy"stand.  He is eating his strawberries as Gerard berates him to march to Napoleon's aid.

The Prussian defensive line was the difficult to cross Dyle River, so once again we are dealing with Napoleonic town fighting across the bridges at those points.
Looking from the south-east toward the direction of Waterloo, this photo shows the Dyle River.  Dave's initial French forces of Vandamme's infantry are assaulting both Bierge(center) and Wavre on the right while Exelmann's Dragoons look toward Limale on the left. Only the Prussian artillery are showing themselves on the far bank of the river near the villages.
I took the Prussians as they were pretty well stationary giving Dave the more decision making French command.  Historically, Grouchy followed what he believed to be the proper course of action from Napoleon's rather cloudy directives.  After the Battle of Ligny Napoleon gave Crouchy who previously led only a corps of cavalry, command over the infantry corps of General Gerard and Vandamme both of whom were heavily engaged at Ligny, along with the cavalry of Exelmann and Pajol.  Napoleon seemed to want to have Grouchy keep his sword in the back of the retreating Prussians while Gerard pressed for him to march to Napoleon's aid once the cannon fire from the direction of Waterloo was heard.  These two different actions formed the options - by secret die roll - which the French under Dave B. could take unknown to me, as the Prussians.  Thus I could not commit my reserves accordingly.
Dave moving an element between Limale(right) and Bierge(center) .  Note the large blank bases which form my potential hidden reserves.  These bases I kept from their previous use as our artillery bases, which are now considerably smaller.

Now to be honest I did not have much choice in my reserves deployment, nor did Thielemann,  as he was seriously outnumbered and most of his forces were already committed to the defence of each of the towns forming the crossing points and so placed them historically.  Again, historically, the French had little idea of the forces ranged against them, so I felt justified in the scenario to have many potential hidden forces for the Prussians keeping their numbers unknown to the French.

As it was only a medium sized game, we ended up playing one and half-ish games rewinding the clock several times as we came to grip with different ways of handling the town fighting rules.  In the past we had town fighting a function of the normal open field element combat with an addition of overwhelming modifier for the defenders. Lucky dice aside, the only way to defeat any defender was to attrition them and so a "conga-line" would enviably form with a long line of attacking elements cycling through until the defender was worn down enough to evict. While simple, I felt it did not feel right nor was it satisfying play for the commanders.

So the scenario was kinda set aside as Dave B and I myself tried various options.  In the end, while it still needs to be tested, we came up with combat much in the same vein as cavalry combat with squares as in the defenders stay put until voluntarily removed or eliminated (not literally but as a cohesive body of troops).  Combat itself is simply a die roll-off without modifiers.  Elites only have more staying power.  A bit more to it of course but it follows the rules approach we continue to strive for in simple "convention game" procedures. The effect works however.
The French of Vandamme's Corps assault the town led by the 2nd Foreign Regiment ("the Swiss") representing Habert's brigade

With much of the game in intellectual discussion, the scenario was not played out to any extent. I was worried about reinforcement timing as for the rules now more streamlined, can cause historical timing of forces entering the table to be difficult to establish.  This proved again to be the case and is but another item to be looked at, but the new town fighting rules might work now. Hopefully.

Hmm, I think I will have to re-roll that one!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

WW2 - "Battle of Smolensk"

Based on a real battle in Russia, this scenario designed by Brandon and played over two nights, had the Russians attacking a strong German defensive position including a town (always 'fun').  The two victory points being the town and the extreme German left flank of the table point.

The following is not really a narrative of the whole battle but merely observation from my point of view.

Gives a flutter to any Stalinist heart

Evening One:
The usual "what do you want to command?" allocation of forces with myself taking a Russian all-tank force as I don't often play their favourite "Battlefront" rules and so tried to keep it simple.
I was told to go attack 'over there' to the German left flank and so proceeded to move along the curvy roads gaining road bonus.  Now in the far, far distance the German Tiger tank fired and took out the tank on the crossroads so blocking that for all other use. THAT is the range?!  Oh dear.
My tank conga line.  The markers placed on the tanks are suppression and disorder markers.   And yes, for you tread heads out there, it is a German truck following.  Let's pretend it is Russian as Dave's growing Russian collection doesn't quite have enough Russian trucks yet.  (all Russian troops in the battle are his) 
Forced by terrain to limited attack avenues the Russians were forced "up the gut" and so I pushed my strung out tankers into immediate attack against the STuG and PaK 37 in the wood line.  Well they HAD been rolling poorly.....
A STuG and PaK in the woods support by SS infantry and a MkIV and Tiger in the background.  Yup, let's charge them!

.........with the usual results
With Kev's forces reaching the dragon's teeth, our casualties mount.
Of course at this point Comrade Dave who had initially stated " yeah, yeah, move everything that way.  I've got the town", now started to despair about his chances of taking the town faced with determined German resistance ( read: good dice rolls)
German infantry in the rubble.

At this point four hours and 6 turns gone by with the battle still in the balance.

Evening Two:
With the expected non-arrival of Sean, and the depletion of my force, I switched sides and took command of the German right flank holding the town.  I immediately went on the offensive to help what little infantry were left holding the corner of the town.  Ultimately while slowly losing hold on the town [ my first turn saw me roll three successive 9's to beat off a overwhelming infantry assault on my remaining town sector ], my panzers did some good shooting ( again, read: lucky dice )  to hold off any moves from within the town.
my situation as German commander.  The Russian trucks are disgorging lots of infantry as they are blocked by the burning Russian assault guns.  I have a couple of infantry stands in the pale house and good armour support.
Traffic jam in the town
a wider shot including Dave's T-34 in the upper right corner of the town at the precarious angle trying to get himself out of the rumble and failing for several turns his 'bog check' roll with the curses of " FOR THE LOVE OF...!!!!"
The overall battle was interesting as the Russian fire was so poor (rolling six successive 2's at one point of the game) that the German armour was seldom hit.  Brandon commanding the German left stated that his lone PzMkIV sustained 14 shots without harm. On the flip side, the Russian morale rolls were outstanding rolling 9 or 10 every turn!  The result was that the battle lasted much long than it have should as the Germans were still alive and the Russians tenuously holding on with meager resources.

After 8 turns and 8 hours of play the battle was declared a draw due to the location of forces at each victory point.

Highlight of the night:  Dave tends to be very demonstrative when rolling his dice.  Often he rolls the dice for firing with a loud "BANG!!" and with the usual result of a 1 or 2 ...rather than the expected 10.  Rather finding this silly, I suggested that he scares the dice with his loud scream and suggested he talk softly to them.  Sooo.. the very next roll he smooches them with kisses and soft purring of "I love you"  { yes he actually does these things. I lie not. }  And so rolls his one and I believe only 10 of the entire game.  Does he continue this sedate practice?  Heck, no.  Actually started using other, than the Soviet red dice, to make his rolls, to no greater effect.     Mind you, the group tends to blame you and you personally for any poor "shooting" i.e. random and unlucky low rolls, than the fates of the dice.  They like Armati and THAT is all dice so I should not expect less.  My bad....

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Napoleonic Saxon,Wurttemburg infantry completed

Ah, you say, there were no Saxon infantry in the Waterloo campaign buckaroo.  If you are trying [ed: wholly unsuccessfully]  to finish this one project before starting another,  why are you doing them?

Well, in a word: tartans.
I have but two more required elements to complete my Waterloo OOB. Yes, they are both Highland units.  Tartans are a pain in the... to do.  Rather have a tooth pulled.

So I am looking for diversions.  Being in grey overcoats and for the most part covered shakos, they proved fairly quick to do and, well, I will be needing them. Eventually.

I previously posted their construction
see: construction of the Saxon infantry

The painted result is thus:

The flags are cut out of an old edition of Wargamer Illustrated article on the topic.

I have also worked the 1813 version of Wurttemburg infantry with them having abandoned the crested helmet for a version of the twin-peaked Austrian style shako.  The figures are Perry Austrians having the correct belting.  The shako was modified by removing all the cockade and oakleaves adding a plastic piece cut for the badge and painting on the other details.
The roll on the pack was removed as it looked too Austrian [they folded the greatcoat/blanket over rather than rolling it].  In 15mm, maybe not an issue. In 28mm, noticeable. Also the distinctive Austrian canteen was removed. Oh and the tunic was modified by removing the top buttons from under the cross belts to allow for the half-lapel worn represented by again, painted-on details. Not  much work really.  yeah.....
Wurttemburg infantry.  Love the pink! With the lighter blue used, very charming lads!

With the massive losses of Russia, I will need only the two elements of Wurttemburg infantry for any of the 1813 campaign battles.

 OK, yes I should really finish the Highlanders, but with all the boys starting on their Russian corps, and to added to the Russian artillery I have done,  I thought I would do some of the Generals to get me going on this new emphasis. Terrain work to be done yet. [Old Glory riders on old Front Rank horses]

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

new units for Waterloo

Painting being steadily done to complete Wellington's army for Waterloo.
The Hanoverians made up a large contingent both with their Field and Militia contingents but also with the old veterans from Hanover who had formed the King's German Legion.
While the red caps are quintessential look of the Hanoverian infantry, there is debate about their use.  I tend to go with the look than the authentic.  If that was not the case, the uniforms would be much, much dirtier.  The yellow of the officer's sash and the white rolls has them identifiable on the table as, well, not British. 
The Hanoverian contingent in the field with the KGL line and lights in the fore forming the first of the "brigades"
The KGL artillery and Light Dragoons in the rear
the British 69th Regiment of Foot showing the effects of the combat at Quatre Bras with sliced shakos and bandaged heads from French cuirassier blades and only the one -the Regimental- flag; the King's Colour was captured in that battle.
The 2nd (North British) Dragoons or better known as the "Scots Greys"   I really do not like painting horses and especially light coloured , grey and white, horses as they are very hard to do realistically.  Reasonably pleased with how these appear. Equestrians please overlook! 
The Scots Greys off on the charge.
[ The blank area on the base is for attachment of their command label ]