Monday, 29 June 2015

Like a house on fire

Napoleonic warfare had more than its share of town fighting and many of the major battles these were a focal point in the action.  The vivid descriptions of fire, smoke and carnage are abound in battle histories with the phrase"charred remains" somewhere in the final chapter.

Up to this point, we have not dealt with fire and its effects in the rules.  For fun, however, I quickly and without very much effort into them, made a few "the roof on fire" markers using thin black card - from product packaging -  and dyed wool probably designed for burning tank wrecks, and creasing the card in half, these can be placed on the roofs and look OK I think.

When showing these to the boys, immediately the discussion moved to how the rules could be changed/ added to employ these new markers.  Again I kinda put the cart before the horse.  However none of the proposed ideas grabbed me and so I will not complicate the rules with the addition of fire to the combat.  Might still place these on the buildings for fun!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Battle of Ligny 200

Well of course I will have to host Ligny 200 being June 16th, 2015 and all!

Yes, the game could have been it's counterpart of Quatre Bras as I placed that battlefield on the other half of my 12 foot long table and if enough players we could have done both at the same time!  But alas, only four could attend; with BobS and his side kick Ian rolling (even vs odds...) to take the Prussians (Ziethen and Pirch respectively) and new players to the rules Peter and Morgan taking (Vandamme and the Guard; Gerard and Milhaud respectively).

The battle historically was vicious town fighting and lots of artillery fire and this game was no exception with the Prussian's defensive position a cauldron for French artillery fire.  It is a also a very tight battlefield of only 2 and a half miles (4 km) or so where the main fighting occurred.  This translated very well to the tabletop and while the Prussian players complained that there was no maneuver room, and I agreed showing them several maps of the deployment corresponding to the tabletop. Our brigade big bases always translate well proportionally to the deployment maps.
The Prussian "caldron" with Ziethen's corps deployed and Pirch's Corps aligned behind the row of trees. The troops in the upper right (north-east)  of the photo shows elements of Thielemann's corps which I did chose to represent as little was fought due to the terrain and deployments in this area of the battle 

 Ziethen in the fore and Pirch in reserve well behind him and Ian rolling rather poorly for his movement initiative, the French artillery started to do execution on Ziethen's corps.  Peter's slowly developing attack by Vandamme, and Morgan's assault by Gerard on the village of Ligny, whittled Ziethen down until an unfortunate '1' roll on the Corps had him break.  Luckily Blucher suddenly aroused from his slumber extorted Ziethen's men to greater dedication "No retreat, no surrender!!" and provided that commander enough morale to at least hold on.....  or in other words I stepped in as umpire I used nearby Blucher as the excuse to arbitrary give him a few more pips on the Corps Morale so to give him hold orders to continue the game!!
Ex-Berg troops still uniformed in white with officers and some of the troops in regulation Prussian uniforms.
Gerard's corps march upon Ligny

Ironically, BobS would continue on until the French now worn down from their attacks and effective counter-battery fire from both BobS and Ian's Pirch artillery which managed to more up, had them on the brink of loss. Morgan's Gerard's 4th Corps had taken Ligny but destroyed itself doing so and could not get any more infantry to open up the town for Milhaud's cuirassiers to pass.  The Young Guard took St Amand but were weakened in the effort.  Vandamme had some losses but many of remaining elements were dangerous low combat effectiveness.

 On the Prussian side, Ziethen will collapse soon (again...) and Pirch could not defend most of the towns and so allow the fresh French Imperial Guard to move at will.

Napoleon did not get his great victory as he wanted in 1815 and nor did he in this game of 2015 but the Prussians were pounded as well. Hard fought indeed.

Thanks for boys arriving and giving a good game.

Prussian artillery 'moving up' (the large wheel marker representing it's limbered state)  Nicely dramatic gun crew by Perry Miniatures.  

Monday, 15 June 2015

The "African Queen" - ish

Once again a sale item gets me into trouble.  Well "wargamer trouble" I should say.  This trouble is generally not bad but perhaps troublesome is a better word.  Troublesome because phrases are uttered such as  "Hmm, I could do a campaign if I get another 200 figures", or "Perhaps if I just....."

This is what I was thinking as I bought this "African Queen" style boat at the Bring and Buy for a very small amount.  Can't help myself.  But what to use it for??

So it lingered in one of the boxes for a couple of years until the other day I found it and had a look.  It is made of a simple MDF bottom and styrene sides cut not particularly straight, a thick wood canopy and steering rudder with a wooden stir stick roof.  The open engine is of wooden thread dowels and a plastic straw!

I had a separate group of sailors (Foundry for Crimea era, I think) painted but not based.  Reason?  Unknown.  They are mine but when painted?  Apparently years ago.  Anyway,  I just used small bits of card for their bases painting and giving those a wash to match the existing the wood decking.  The boat got a bit of a clean up adding a couple of barrels and the boilers were given a bit of rust for effect.

The actual interest into the boat was the discovery of primered Foundry Napoleonic sailors.  These were in fighting mode holding swords and pistols.  I have done sailors already with Brigade Games types but the two do not match well.  With the thought to crew my "African Queen" , I cut off hands holding swords and replaced with plastic ones, trimming remaining hands holding belaying pins which cannot be cutoff into tool-like shapes.   One of them I cut off the head as the hat seemed a little too Napoleonic and replaced by a French fusilier forage cap appropriately trimmed of the piping lace but now nondescript!  Hopefully all are looking mid-19th C. to go along with the rather crude steam engine.

Now I have the crew and armed sailors ready for action up a river.  Which river and against whom is unknown.  I am happy with my little endevour but have no plans for a campaign with them....yet....

Thursday, 11 June 2015

My own Saxon Zastrow cuirassiers

While I could have just purchased Eureka's nice version(s) of this famous Napoleonic era heavy horse regiment,  I did not for several reasons.  Foremost that only need three. Hardly worth the expensive shipping them half way across the world.  Also they are metal; thus heavy. I like light. And most importantly I still had three left over French cuirassier horses which just ached to be employed in such a fashion.  I thought I would enjoy the challenge to create my own.

Inspiration came from a plate in the Blandford's  "Uniforms of 1812" by Philip Haythornewaite

I started with the horses, cutting down excessive rolls and protruding saddle accoutrements.  I took some of the numerous extra hussar legs the Perrys provide, glued those to the horses and added other extra torsos I had - usually trumpeters - cutting off the right arm and adding an extra heavy cavalry arm to provide the necessary straight sword.  The left arm holds the reins and I added an enlarged cuff to the hussar arm hiding the lace work and giving the illusion of the heavy gloves worn.  As the torsos were to be covered with green stuff (GS) for the cloak these did not need be accurate and all the lace and belts of these hussar bodies were not worried about.  I used the torso to get the bulk of the figure done and proportional.

The helmets were French dragoon types, one the Perry types had the horsehair just at the very end, so easy to cut off.  With the peak modified by a scraping, I could add the GS comb. Really happy about the sameness of these.  I waited a bit then used an old toothbrush to impress upon the putty to provide that 'woollen' texture. In the following photo, the middle figure shows this to good effect.

The roughly trimmed sheepskin of the French saddle was covered by a "roll" bundle.

With the glue and plastic basis of the figures set, I started with the main use of the GS.  I did start with a template for the cloak after several design tries, but these turned out to be very rough as the GS can be sticky and stretchy ruining any true consistency.  I admire the pros for that.

The main part of the cloak was first and so wrapped it around the figure trying to hide most of the bits of the French saddle which are incorrect for the Saxons and way down the hussar leg as not to show anything but the bottom of the boot.

After that had cured the next day (I am trying to learn patience....probably most sculptors will tell you that is the main trick!)  I added the cape, again with a template in mind and try to get the shape, sort of, but pinching and trimming with the differing shape of the sword arms to get around.

After the adding the lower cloak step
same figure with addition of the upper cape
I will glue on the plumes and probably add a scabbard under the cloak to finish them.  With my usual heavy,  very heavy,  coats of paint,  hopefully the imperfections will be reduced and they will look OK.  I will ignore the fact that all the other cavalry are not in THEIR cloaks.  But while I 'needed' this regiment for the accuracy of deployment for the Borodino game,  the Saxon Zastrow regiment, albeit in a lesser amount, did contribute in the very wet and cold 1813 campaign, which is really the focus of this collection.

.......Fast forward to the finished product

I wanted to explain the use of the capes, but I think I may have gone a bit too heavy with the rain soddened ground!
Leading the French Cuirassiers into battle
   Certainly after this, I am in awe of the talent with the likes of the Perrys, Hicks, Murch, Owen and all the others we know to supply us with very nicely done miniatures.  I don't sculpt all that often so I claim lack of experience but perhaps I will finally get through painting the lead pile and start doing some sculpts for fun.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

First of the Russians

First of my Russian infantry

Having finally got my fill of Waterloo battles played , I am looking ahead to getting the historical battle of Borodino on the table.  I have already planned out the deployments (see my post: deployment  ) and have painted the artillery units and field fortifications but only recently completed a couple of my planned Russian infantry units.

The Perry plastics are easily to build and good to paint so should go relatively quickly.  I also have the Life Guard Corps of Warlord types to paint for 'variety'.  With the others helping and creating their own corps to command, we should be able to recreate the battle in a short rather than long time from now.
The Kiev Grenadiers  (in "square" formation as indicated by the cube on the stand)
The Little Russia Grenadiers

as the Russian line infantry have the same uniform (with the grenadiers in addition having a tall plume) I have tried to have all my representative regiments carry one of the regimental flags to make each element distinctive.  However, I could also certainly do without and thus make them very generic for any of the scenarios I would wish to do.  Flags will be from various sources such as the Perrys box,  magazine articles and available web printouts. I am not that picky to be honest.

Many more to go, however.....

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Napoleonic Prussian Cuirassiers

I know how many of my collections grow.  And I can't help myself.  When faced with a sale of figures which you might need, and which are being sold at an extremely good price, what's a wargamer to do?  Buy them, of course!

During the last local convention the bring and buy had me rooting around packages like a starving weasel.  Luckily a fellow wargamer I know was just labelling his sale bags when I interrupted to examine the figures.  For a very good low price I now had 12 Prussian Connoisseur riders on Front Rank horses.  For our rules ratios, that is well more the entire Prussian cuirassier contingent for 1813-15 !

Oh sure they are but in one pose and the horses many in the same pose also, but the similarities make them easier to paint and look quite imposing all with a straight backs and swords at the ready!
While I could not use them for the Waterloo campaign but thinking perhaps as Russians for Borodino.  Similar helmet and all.  But after purchasing  --- and putting on my reading glasses! -- these had the dark blue litwa coat worn by the Prussians, and not the white dress tunic as like the Russians ( the Germans being much more practical about these matters... )

However I still can use them for the 1813 and 1814 campaigns where they show up in the large battles once and a while.

Monday, 1 June 2015

New "combat dice"

Only the most devoted OCD type wargamer might be pressed to:  a) need to buy and create a new dice model for his game and b) make a blog post about it.  Actually I have CDO.  It is exactly like OCD but letters are in the correct *bleeping* order!  -grin-

Anyway, I have had many kind comments about good looking game(s) I put on last weekend.  I did notice, to my eye anyway, the glaring red of the dice we use for combat adjudication on the tabletop.  We use special d6s with three sides having '0's.  Never gave much thought to them but the red quite shows in photos. So.....
The old red dice along with the new blacks

I decided that I must work on that.  Therefore I went to the local hobby store, bought a box of Chessex brand black d6 and proceeded to fill in the 4, 5 and 6 sides with black paint and then some gloss for durability.  Black was chosen to match with the thick black sides of our bases and markers.
black to match
OCD alert: while I would have filled in the pip divots with perhaps putty or such to make the '0' sides smooth, I felt this would compromise the weigh issue of the dice and well be too much effort to do correctly.  so I must live with seeing the old pips.
with the old reds
and now only with the blacks with the upper most die showing a nil effect

From the usual wargamer vantage point however I think they look OK and show well enough if the player will gain any advantage from the dice.