Friday, 30 January 2015

In the dark woods - FIW convoy duty

DaveB was kind enough to come over for a game and rather than subject him to another game of Napoleonics and seeing that I just played out Waterloo the day before and have yet to clean up and organize the brigades, I set out a small game of French and Indian War with the scenario to simply the escort of a wagon of barrels into the fort through the woods down the simple road. Easy enough.
The New Jersey Regiment of 1759 in column with it's light companies in flank duty. Front Rank figures painted by me a few ago.  The bases I think make 'the look' with lots of shrubbery, fallen trees and such to indicate the nature of the terrain of this war within the depths of virgin forests of Upper New York State some 260 years ago

 I thought a nice change would be using my 28mm, mostly Front Rank minis, French and Indian Wars collection.  Simple DBA style home-brew rules on a small table obtaining a quick result but with interesting tactical choices.
Hey, two on one. No fair!  The Indian miniatures are Conquest (now Warlord ).  
Natives in the forest
my home-built fort with some provincials within on parade.  
Built specifically to fit into the corner of the table.  The effect without the 'footprint' as it were

We played two games with the same scenario, each of us taking the other side but with our own pick of troop types.  In the first game he took the British and the escort.  In the second, I had that privilege to protect it from the French or their Indian friends.
DaveB making a face at his tactical situation holding up my "five minute background board"  While I am not much of an artist, I probably could do better.....

A native war band caught in the open by the British.

Umm, guys, you might just look to your left..... a native war band bursts forth from the depths of the woods.  I play this game with lots of blinds and random command rolls.  Makes for unpredictable action.

Other than the task to remember the tactical modifiers, the game flows well enough and can be played on a very small table even with 28mm and to good effect I think.

Game Note:   DaveB had his Natives try to capture the wagon but I did put in a small combat factor for baggage defence accounting for wagoneers, women with pistols, accompanying troops etc.  Well these fought off DaveB's Red Boys (the dice really...). With a wonderful accent he gave the excuse that "Shee wasth a big wohman witsh a pan, eh!"

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Waterloo Battle #1

It is 2015 and you know what that means to any Napoleonic wargamer….yes, its Waterloo Season!

Seth made the long drive up here and we had a day of pushing around lead/plastic French and the Allies based on the original historical deployments.
My newly painted Netherlander commander to finally (whew!) complete my 100 Days Campaign collection. Perponcher will hold the very left of the Allied line.  Based on his decision in the historical campaign to hold Quatre Bras, I have him pointing and seemingly exclaim to the rider, "Go like the devil himself is chasing you and tell the Duke that I am holding the crossroads!"

The stalemate on the right of the Allied line - the western portion of the battlefield. Hougomont is the building in the upper corners, the French on the top with Kellerman's Heavies moving through a wheat field. The blocks in front of D'Aubreme's and Detmer's brigades are indicating that they are in square formation - good defence against cavalry who are loath to attack them.
With that, however, Seth taking the French, did not want to get into the Hougomont commitment as Reille did in 1815, so just took the woods and left the troops to mask those buildings, bringing the majority of that corps around the west flank, with Kellerman’s Heavy cavalry in support.  As it was, the Netherlanders of Chasse’ division placed themselves in square thereby thwarting any further moves in that quarter. Clinton’s British helped secure the flank.

Seth then had d’Erlon attack the Allied left flank in a pinning action supported by the Guard Horse and the “Grand Battery” while Lobau moved to mask LaHayeSainte ( LHS) and move to soften up the Allied centre.
Maitland's Foot Guards and C. Halkett's 69th Foot holding off Lobau's advances.  In our rules the artillery CAN fire through your own troops.  Very stylized our rules, but they are now working well.

Game Note: we did not have the Prussians arrive. Only the two of us and I wanted to see if the Wellington could have withstood the French without help so I did not bring out the Prussians. Yes, yes, not historical but an important what-if scenario for this extremely well-documented battle.
Seth's arms of Napoleon

As we were moving things along, discussing the rules finer points and such, I did not really concentrate upon the individual moves of the formations on the table.  A few of the photos will show the general action until Seth needed to depart.
Our Waterloo deployments on a 8 x 5 foot table...
Looking south east from over the Allied right flank with Hougomont on the right, La Haye Sainte in the middle and Papalotte at the left.

I then proceeded to document a bit better if only to give Seth an understanding of what occurred later and to see if his battle plans would have made ol’ Napoleon proud.

The turn after his departure Reille pushed forward to break the stalemate against Picton. Lobau is staled on the crest line against the Hanoverians and British lining it between LHS and Hougomont with half his attached light horse destroyed by concentrated canister fire that depleted much of the ammuntion of the KGL batteries. [ we have a sort-of claw back rule so that effective guns could wear themselves down which has been nick-named “breaking the gun” ]
Milhaud on the far French right successfully beat off Vandeleur’s counterattack while Uxbridge still waited with the Allied heavy horse in the centre.
The Allies Heavy Horse grouped in the centre of the battlefield
The Allies are ready to meet d'Erlon's advance

Side note about the Allied command structure:  In my readings, while it would seem straight forward , Wellington’s corps structure was not employed and the divisional and indeed brigade commanders took much of the incentive of command within their small area with Wellington wandering around plugging gaps.  For the large scope of these rules, I was troubled as how to legitimately group the brigades into our “corps” that allow a good number of elements to be played yet stay true to the Wellingtonian organization.  In the end I had Perponcher command the Nassauers of Pr. Bernard and Bylandt’s Belgians with their artillery on the Allied left.  Picton in his position east of LHS, Prince of Orange with a reduced command but important elements in the centre and of Chasse’s Netherlanders on the extreme right.  “Clinton” in the area of Hougomont is a conglomeration of Cooke, Colville and Clinton’s Divisions from various corps but nicely grouped together.  In the rules command radius is very important.  With that however, Uxbridge historically commanding the entire Allied cavalry has the hardest task of getting much movement from any widely placed brigades.

Uxbridge’s cavalry once in action usually did good work.  Vivian’s light brigade ( represented by the 18th Hussars ) eliminated Milhauds’ 8th Cuirassier but their fellow cuirassiers ran over poor Bylandt’s Belgians.
It was nice to have my Dutch heavy horse flank and eliminate an element of French cuirassier as, for once, a fresh-to-the-tabletop units performs wonderfully especially as it took some time to model it!
The French cuirassiers are flanked by the Belgian Carabiniers Heavy Horse. (see: for their construction: link )

Part of Seth’s plan was not to follow the historical plan but to merely mask both LHS and Hougomont and so placed elements, in cases, very weak ones, in front of each. My elite defenders could not attack out of those complexes and retiring to be employed elsewhere would only give them up. So “Wellington” was forced to continue to man these with strong troops. On the left, Perponcher had the weak 28th Orange-Nassau defend “Papalotte”  representing that and “Fischermont” etc in that area.  Because of the nature of the ground, historically the French did little, but in the game, d’Erlon felt it was finally necessary to force the issue if only to free up the troops caught immobile behind this area. The hedges and sunken roads and rough terrain of the area is represented on the table by hedges which disorder those elements crossing affecting their combat effectiveness.  While the Orange-Nassau bravely defended against double their number, “attrition” very much weaken them and Perponcher was forced to abandon Papelotte or have them destroyed needlessly in the next French attack and thereby negatively affecting his corps’ morale.

Now every one loves the French Guard Grenadiers a Cheval , “The Gods”  <  grin  >  .   Well, Uxbridge finally found the opportunity to launch Somerset’s British Household Guards against them.  Guard against Guard.  While the French were up 1 (experienced) vs the Household (well mounted but inexperienced ) the British rolled a 2….but in true √©lan style, the GaC rolls the 3 to be victorious!
Guard Horse against Guard Horse!

( our combat dice are unique in that three of the sides are zeros so meaning no pluses, one side is a 1, one side a 2 and the final side a 3.  The effect of the dice is thus usually none but you could get some dramatic changes in fortunes as can happen in battle and history.  )
Over the French left flank.  Hougomont on the right
French centre action with Lobau advancing between Hougomont (left) and LHS (right)
The mass of the French Imperial Guard dominating the battlefield (centre)
over the French right flank with Milhaud's cuirassiers on the right and d'Erlon's corps moving slowly forward

representing Marshal Ney 

With a formation’s morale affected by both it’s own casualties and any of the army’s corps collapses, events late in the battle tend to have dynamic results and a snowball effect.  Our “Corps Morale” chart dictates what the player must do with his elements. For my view, this is a good thing as it takes the “ Oh, well, I lost almost 3/4 of my division but I can afford one more loss before I have to test again” silliness away from the player and so in our Corps Morale Chart with even good die rolls, he cannot advance and with poor, he is in rout.  It gives the battle more of a wind-down feel than the often heard “Boys, it’s 11pm and I have to get up in the morning, let’s call it a game…” ending to most war-game battles I have known.
I just LOVE the cuirassier uniform!
and black is nice too... Brunswick Hussars and Horse Artillery destined to be ultimately destroyed.
It is thus, that Picton’s and Clinton’s formations on the Allied side and with Lobau’s and Reille’s corps with the French now collapsing just as Napoleon and his important command points are roused (by the dice) from his sickbed and heard to exclaim “ Do I have to do everything myself?!!”  I promptly roll sixes for his command!
But as the solo player I was left with a dilemma.  Should Napoleon stay, with only the Guard in the centre and Kellerman’s cavalry stuck on the far left,  to continue this desperate combat or have him withdraw to continue the campaign with the Guard intact?
While I rolled for the result - the retreat.   I later decided, for game development, to continue to the VERY end.

The Prince of Orange  - "he" did better I believe than his historical counterpart in this game

Napoleon again arose from his sick bed - he really was having medical issues this day apparently-  to roll double sixes for command and pushed the Guard up the ridge!  While Kellerman’s Cavalry Corps broke while still generally intact - but far away from the rest of the army which was in full retreat who could blame them - the Guard artillery generally did the trick and Uxbridge’s, Clinton’s British and eventually the Brunswickers after a rearguard holding action, all broke.  Only Perponcher’s Nassauers remained (ironically the first Allied unit I painted as they are a favourite of mine!).  The road to Brussels was open and Wellington in full rout. Vive le Empereur!!
Seth’s plan worked.
Yes, yes, no Prussians but the French could have won except for their intervention…..
The 2nd Foot Guards representing Byng's Brigade which retired with the rest of Clinton's command near the end of the affair without being seriously engaged.  Such are the fates of battle.

my forgotten HYW artillery

I find it funny that with any new rule set, wargamers will immediately set about creating variations for different eras than that intended.  "Lion Rampant" is no exception.  Already there is the setting about for rules for artillery, gunpowder weapons "handgonnes" and the like.

The author has created his own forum site ( forum link ) and has indicated that he dropped the artillery from the rules as not really in the scope of the action he envisioned.  However a suggestion for its addition was added.

Why I mention this is I had overlooked my one artillery small gun and crew of my HYW collection as I also did not really consider its addition.  Already thinking about the next game scenario, I could see it as a "target" for a besieged minor lord while it slowly fires balls to destroy his tower.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it has the required 6 crew members which for LR can be a full unit of dubious fighting ability in its defence should the opposing retinue get past my retainers.
I suppose a stand of spears might be required to suggest they could fight rather than merely run away.....

early artillery of the HYW 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Me Lord's Retinue for Lion Rampant

While usually playing only one game is not the stepping stone for a whole new direction,  Andrew's introduction of Lion Rampant [ LR ] did get me thinking about my dormant medieval 28mm collection.  While I do like the collection, thinking the painting fine and still interested in the period,  I could not make it 'work' for any of the common rule sets played around here.  The army lists of those rules either had me needing to buy - and paint - many more, or had me abandon large amounts.  I was willing to do neither, nor did the thought of rebasing excite me.....

Years ago, some club members came to the conclusion that nearly everyone had medieval figures of one type or another in 28mm individually mounted and wouldn't it be fun to have a huge game with everyone coming with whatever contingent they could create!   Well I was in as I had just traded for a large and now older GW plastic Bretonnian army - very historically Hundred Years Wars that.  Lots of archers of course and so completed the lot all in one livery.
The whole concept fell off the rails of course, as those things usually do, and so I have been left with this one-side-only collection too big and not finding the right opposition in terms of nice miniatures and or indeed willing to do the opposition.
There it lay in the box for years until this week.

After Andrew's game I searched the web and came up with the pointing system and set to task computing my retinue numbers and indeed can produce a three retinue army of 72 points !  And legally at that!  So all the various amounts of men-at-arms, archers, spearmen all are nicely grouped into proper units.  Wonderful!  With the 72 points I could field a 14 unit army if I so choose and all in the same livery.   These are all foot, Early HYW (c. Battle of Crecy)

I was struck by the simple fact that my collection fit almost perfectly with the army list values of LR
With that
a) I will not have to purchase any more
b) It uses all my figures in total*
c) I will not need to rebase!
d) no other known rules set I can use my force without need to add to or subtract

makes the choice fairly easy.  I do hope I will like the rules….

*with the exception of only 3 additonal Bidowers which I completed in short order as I had a few unpainted plastic spares. (see below)

The collection is the mentioned GW plastics, with a smaller amounts of Black Tree medievals, and perhaps ? Front Rank. They were long in the box and traded for or purchased in dribs and dabs so I can't rightly recall.

The livery is dark red/dark blue simply because I liked the colour combination.

One of the elite archer units of my retinue. Mostly plastics with a few metal ones for variation. 
The "Bidowers" 
Before and after slight modifications to give my Bidowers and bit of different look.  Originally GW plastics
the big bushy plastic bared head really alters the look of this figure. I added a small purse to the modified figure to enhance the change.  The bidowers would be mercenaries for hire I be thinking.
The final added figure to the bidower unit.  Again a new plastic head (from a donated Perry plastic left over sprue) provides the greatest difference between the original figure (in the back).  The added large bag again enhances the difference along with the clothing colors used. The other three figures of the unit are, were I believe called "scouts" or some such and are metal.

Now to play a game or two with this lot!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

X-Wing game

A Monday Night Game at Francis's hosted by Sean who brought along his X-Wing game.  Star Wars driven, of course, the models are pre-painted of a very good quality and the rules are extremely well thought out.  All issues which came up were quickly dealt with by the rules and for Francis's group of ADD lads, that is saying much!
A Rebel "Freighter" with a heck of a lot of firepower!

While Francis and Dave to a large extent are more LotR fans, I and Sean like Star Wars and so perhaps are more into making the sounds of a TieFighter screeching to the attack.  Heck, I am old enough to have seen the original first run of the movie on the screen when I was young(er).

The scenario was a mutual recovery of important capsules of techie stuff left floating in space was the objective and, of course, to blow each other into atoms....

I played the Imperium once this game I will ALWAYS play the Imperium.  Luke is a reactionist young bleeping trouble maker really; and is the bad guy regardless how Lucas makes us believe.

Anyway I was gunning for the pup but in the last turn of the game, he (played by Dave) got lucky and was a mere 1/8" within range of my Tie-Fighter with the third capsule in tow after finally chasing it all game , destroyed it leaving this capsule in space. With one captured capsule each, the battle was declared a tie.

For reporting accuracy, yes, Darth Vader was also flying, under the command of Sean, who managed through some "interesting " maneuvers to do very little in the game.  Apparently he does not know his right from his left.  Oops, note to self :  use inner voice as I am now choking for breath against a bulkhead with my feet above the floor....

Yes, Darth, in my usual "anything to do with flying" games I will always get shot down, in my defence I ONLY lost one fighter!
Luke Skywalker's X-Wing with a "8" pilot and a whole lot of bonuses which Dave had fun with.
Ol' Darthie flying in the wrong direction! :-))
very nice pre-painted models
Thanks to SeanR for hosting.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

a game of "Lion Rampant" rules

Andrew came over to introduce the newish rules of "Lion Rampant" by Osprey Publishing.

This is a skirmish-y level rules for the 'whack-and-slash' military periods.  Lacking any historical match ups between us, he brought over his Chinese with bows and pointy sticks to clash against my English early Hundred Years War force with bows and pointy sticks.  As the rules are very broad in nature, it really does not matter the type at all.
The rules are very general indeed with only real hint to their intended target era with the description of the unit type as "Foot Sergeants" "Men at Arms" etc.

Because of the game being a small affair and Andrew having to explain it all with but one game under his belt himself, I really should withhold comments until I have played it more to get more of the feel and subtleties of the system.  As a very visual learner, I saw, with the 'movement trays' Andrew suggested we use to speed play, each unit as a block without necessarily any skirmish feel.  With all units at 12 or 6 strong, that feeling of a block is maintained.  I saw no need for individual movement of figures or even that they be place individually on a stand for ease of movement.    At the end of the game I was already expressing that a 'unit' be only a stand in a vignette arrangement of, say 6 or 8 figures with all the Attacker 6+, Move 3+ etc etc information laid out on the stand itself with only perhaps a changeable marker showing the 'casualties'.

But like I said, I should reserve judgement.  However I would like to like these rules as they have seemed to attract a bit of attention from the local gamers and I have a huge army with 85 archers alone ( ! ) waiting to be used one day.....  (sigh)

It was good of Andrew to show me the rules and gives me a better idea of the interest in them.

Not a real good look to this game but it was kinda spur of the moment and quickly arranged.

my HYW boys all in livery

my pointy stick boys a bit worn down but still in the fight
Andrew's Chinese purchased painted from eBay

Overview of the small action with my archers to each flank of the spear and his horse at half strength from a couple failed charges at my centre. 

One of my "need a 5+" attempts!  OK to be honest the next six throws had much better results......