Sunday, 30 April 2017

Two boats in one....

How to inadvertantly create two boats from one....

Having set about destroying/providing a waterline for a new plastic ship of the line,  I was left with the bottom of the hull.  I stared at this item which was relatively intact. Looks like a ‘long boat’ or ship’s tender does it not, I think to myself.
I tend to get distracted by these little projects, fun that they are.

With strips of styrene to make the rowing benches and rods for the oars glued on and a quick paint job, it looks the part.
Here can be seen the original model and the resultant efforts with some of my 19th Century 15mm Marines for scale comparison.

While it appears to be an optical illusion, the row boat was formerly the keel of the sail ship 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Battle of Armoury Hill - a Tercey Campaign game

The continuing story of the Second Campaign in the Valley of the Tercey …

Rockforth having arrived at his ancestoral home, immediately ordered Hastings to take the units of Urry and Nerne to the Shire Armoury and gain possession of the artillery stored within. Wingate’s Horse joined Hastings shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, word of Rockforth’s return gave new vigour to the Shire for armed conflict. An unlikely pair decided that the Armoury would be a likely target of the “Imposer”.  Ballard was the officer in charge of its defence. His church preacher and dominate citizen was a zealous and forceful man, Artemus Twill. He cajoled the local citizens and indeed Ballard’s men to haul the large cannon, oddly named “ Sister Margaret”,  to the nearby hill.  Ballard placed his pikemen at the bottom of the hill to protect the gun while his musketeers were hidden in ambush within the nearby woods across the road down which Rockforth’s troops were expected to travel.
Artemus Twill berates inspires Ballard's pikemen

for the “Tawny”
a large gun (6 points)
Ballard’s Shotte and his Pike units (4 points each with a +1 officer or “agitator” with each )

 for the “Red” (Rockforth’s forces)
Urry’s Horse, Wingate’s Horse, Nerne’s dragoons (all 4 points each), Hasting’s Cuirassiers (half strength)(3 pts)

(Ed. note: while nominally Parliamentarian and Royalist respectively, personal and familial connection within the shire had the local participants go by the tawny (an orange shade) and red designations based on the colour of the officer’s sashes)

“Oh for God’s sake!” Hastings swore out loud. Urry in the lead troop seemed determined to reach the Armoury without delay and did not seem to consider any opposition along the way! Hastings was about to have an aide sent, when a cloud of smoke and shortly thereafter a report of a cannon shot had him look up in alarm.
“The gun is no longer IN the Armoury” was his muttered response.
"Sister Margaret" is being readied to fire. My activation for 'her' was quite successful this battle.


The cannon fire fired at long range did but few casualties on Urry’s lead unit which seemed unaffected at this (passed morale) and continued their trot up the road.  Obviously Wingate’s troopers following saw the few mangled bodies in the wake of the cannonball as they balked at further advance (failed activation)
Wingate's horse move against the gun
Some of Ballard’s shotte in ambush too excited by the cannon fire, let off their arquebuses too early exposing their position ( I deemed a failed activation to fire to have revealed their ambush.  A successful activation would demand a morale check on the target regardless of casualties…a good idea I think for any games which might have hidden units)
Ballard's shotte in ambush
On the ‘Red’ side, Wingate now advanced but chided away from the shotte in the woods and allowed the dragoons of Nerne to move from the fields to the left to deal with Ballard’s shotte in the woods on the right side of the road. Urry continued his advance on the hill and cannon.  Hastings, wary of committing his small troop (at half casualties from the previous battle), held back.

Ballard’s shotte once again failed activation ( ordering a reload?) However Nerne’s Dragoons spent time kicking off the mud from the fields as they too failed a move activation.

While it could have been a tactical mistake as it was not ordered, but Ballard’s pike had indeed gained a semblance of close order as they crowded around to hear preacher Twill’s words. They now moved into contact with Urry’s troopers.  The pike won the clash and Urry fell back in good morale until “Sister Margaret” boomed once again, with the remaining lone trooper losing heart and falling back out of the action.
Urry pushing aside Ballard's pike to continue up the hill to the gun.
Under Nerne’s dubious leadership (indeed this unit has very much under-performed!) the dragoons don’t advance, don’t shoot, nor even return fire from their exposed position. (4 times they failed to activate to do anything!)

Meanwhile near the hill, Wingate following Urry, charged the Pike pushing them away and opening up the way to the gun when that beast shot again (surprisingly owing to the high activation factor of the artillery) and killing many of the horsemen with “the greatest of slaughter” (all but one of the dice were hits ! ) and the few remaining willingly gave up the attempt to capture the ordinance and rode off.
This ended the battle and Twill and Ballard gave praise for their victory.  Rockforth was denied his gun. What will his next move be?

A popular local tune, sung to an ancient drinking song, contains the battle’s history:

Urry came up, all in a hurry

Wingate came up, in a short gait

Hastings wasn’t hasty, at all

Ballard’s men fired

b’ they want to retire

Twill chided and preached

t’ pike couldn’t be breached

But when hence Sister Margaret doth fire

Rockforth men did hastily retire

to ask ‘im “what now sire?”!

Apparently it sounds much better accompanied with local county music and many a good beer.......

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Katana Rampant reprise

Katana Rampant - Lion Rampant with hand gun addition

Whoa, after three days of a wargaming convention I host another game with FrancisM’s boys the next day on Monday to make it four games in four days.

The scenario is a simple one with the Takeda having captured the personal standard of Okudaira Sadamasa who wants it back. (I didn't want to repack so simply used the same as I did on Friday!)

I use the stand of musicians and the standard bearer which I painted but which have no real use within the rules, into the scenario along with the new raw bamboo mantles which gave the protectors of the captured flag some defences.

The game was an introduction of Lion Rampant to the group who were ‘amused’ by the activation - or lack thereof - of the many units and the dice luck - or not - by others.

In particular was the continual activation of his teppo by FrancisM - usually a difficult proposition by the slow firing hand-gunners - yet his total inability to hit with them!  In five straight rolls with six dice each,  he was unable to roll a 6 and thus unable to gain a single hit with 30 dice!  His target was another arquebus unit but in this case ChrisO was unable to actually activate his unit to fire at all!

But, yes, some fighting did occur.  Including when I bravely (foolishly) ran out some peasants out of a house where they were hiding. This was to give them the idea how bad troops play against good troops within the rules.
 The Takeda commander of the nearest unit assumed they were hostile and immediately ordered bowshot into them.  I asked if he knew if the peasants were hostile or friendly as indeed I did not say one way or another as I simply moved it from the building. Somewhat taken aback “CokeDave” fired nevertheless.  The peasants charged in, and then ran away…..
the Japanese peasants "come out to play"

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Hosted games at Trumpeter Salute 2017

Chided into hosting 4 games during the convention, I decided on three completely different eras so that I may organize the transport into separate “shipments”  thus without much need to remember to move items from one pile into another each bleary-eyed morning…

With that in mind, I hosted a semi-skirmish Japanese samurai game on Friday, two distinct sessions of grand-tactical Napoleonic battle on Saturday, and a low key French and Indian War game on Sunday.  Surprisingly it all went well.

Trumpeter Salute Convention My games: Friday afternoon

Sengoku Era Japan - Samurai Game using “Katana Rampant” (Lion Rampant rules with addition for handguns)
Okudaira tempo ready to fire upon the walls 

The scenario has a surprise attack by the Takeda upon the Okudaira besiegers of their castle.  To keep it a surprise, I told all the players of the procedures to take the wall of the castle.  This included activation to climb the walls, and defensive fire from them.  While I kept the defensive fire rules for the game, the intent was not to have a siege game but a straight up fight with a surprise flank attack.  To that, I was successful.

 (besides…. the walls were built only to give a backdrop for photos!)

I gave the flank attack player the option of either using his normal troops to lead the attack but through the muddy fields (rough ground) or if he leads with the peasants they know a drier faster way.  But of course, then,  you are leading your attack with peasants who are not the exactly the best choice as a military unit to lead any attack!
The Takeda (with black back-flags) emerge in the muddy fields for their flank attack!

In any event, he lead with his samurai who while fighting well in the muck (‘ferocious’ rule) still are slow to get through it and impossible with his poor activation rolls! The (were) attacking the walls (now) defending from the flank attack players managed to recover from the surprise and a good game was the result.
the Okudaira reinforcements rush into the fight

 Game Two!

With a small game and fast action we had the time to have a second action. The scenario was a simple one with the Takeda having captured the personal standard of Okudaira Sadamasa who wants it back.

Trumpeter Salute Convention My games: Saturday afternoon

I would do two games of the historical Napoleonic Battle of Vyazma, each in a separate session.
a view from the east showing the French and Allies strung out along the road, with the town of Vyazma, represented by the church in the distance their goal to survival.  The villages of Gorontka (near centre) and Fedorskoie (near right) are represented with the French rearguard under Davout holding Fedorskoie.  The Russians of Ostermann-Tolstoy and Eugene of Wurttemburg (left) under Miloradovich are attacking from the south to cut off the retreat.

  This first one had six players participating with three French and three Russian players.
The Battle of Vyazma occurred during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow and only days before the snows began.  Miloradovich, the Russian commander, pressed his attacks on the French rearguard of Davout’s corps centred around the villages of Fedorskoie and Gorontka, with Eugene’s (with some Italians), Poniatowski’s Poles , and Ney’s corps strung out along the road of retreat towards the town of Vyazma.
Wurttemburg's Russian Corp attacking the French and take Gorontka

For the French, their objective was to get as many units, including supply wagons, safely off the table and continue the retreat through Vyazma.  If they did so with more than those destroyed or captured (any left on the table should the Russians take that town), they win the game.  Thus, the French had the task of moving AND fighting to survive.
Davout must simultaneously transfer troops along the road and support the defence against the Russian attack. He does a good job

The Russian objective was simpler.  They were to destroy the French.  Casualties were not a concern.
The height of the Russian attack. The near marsh deemed impassible, as indeed it was historically, restricted direct Russian moves against Vyazma (off camera to the left) and served to constrict the Russian reserves.
We can see Platov's cossacks and Paskevich's small infantry division in the far distance trying to move against the French in a flanking move.

For this task, I placed the Russian commands in their historical locations allowing each player to deploy as they wished.  From east to west, Platov’s cossacks, combined with the small infantry division of Paskevich,  attacked from the end of the long table against Davout’s rearguard.  Wurttemburg’s corps with Korff’s cavalry came from the south, while Tolstoy’s corps with Siever’s cavalry moved toward Vyazma itself to potentially cut of the French/Allies retreat.
The Russians were historically estimated at 22,000 to 24,000 in strength.  The French total is unknown but would be at comparable numbers.
With a very large strength ratio and using 28mm figures, a village can only be represented by one building.   

The French players had the unenviable task of choosing when to run and when to fight all the while moving toward their goal of the exit point.  To be honest, seeing the deployments in full, I did not think the French had much of a chance, but to their credit, they managed to get more than 50% off the table successfully for the victory.  Notably on the French side was the decision by “Ney” who was closest to Vyazma, to quickly file his units off the table leaving only his artillery to hold off the Russians and keep the road open for the others;  and the unfortunate die roll by “Tolstoy” failing his corps morale roll and having to fall back thus losing the opportunity to close the door on the French.  It turned out to be a good scenario.

The Russian advance continues!

Trumpeter Salute Convention My games: Saturday evening

In this second game of the Battle of Vyazma, I reset the scenario to the original starting points.  I did move the road on which the French moved from the centre of the table slightly further away from the Russian southern attack which gave everyone a bit more maneuver space and the French a tad more time to have units retreat toward the town.
Deployment of the French (centre) along the road.  The Russians (left bottom) attacking from the south. 

In this game, we only had one player commanding each side.  It had the usual effect of having a much more ‘ordered’ game in action and in the even look of the elements on the table!
With only one player per side controlling all elements, the game tends to have a more "ordered" appearance!

Surprisingly the result again was a French “victory” with very slightly more elements having got off the table than were destroyed or captured.

Uvarov's Cuirassiers, historically sent into action very late in the day,  finally make an appearance. But as in the first battle, make little impact as they are late and too far in the rear to make an effect.  They are pretty however!

Trumpeter Salute Convention My games: Sunday

French and Indian Wars action - 'Manage-a-troi'

A good group of wargamers who are there to gleefully move around pieces on the table in good humour certainly make for delightfully entertaining game and none more so than the group who signed up for my French and Indian War game on Sunday.
Without knowledge of how many players I would have ( Sunday gaming is always less populous but numbers can be unpredictable) I needed to very much come up with a scenario on the fly.  In this case, the whiskey wagon (it would seem ALL my FIW games involve the whiskey wagon as everyone, natives included, would love to capture it!) .  The British were tasked to escorting it to the fort.  They could take the longer, but more open route, or the shorter but forest choked shorter route.  They chose the latter after the French and Native players had deployed.
The respective Native players (both the English and French having native allies) were given blanks but did not know if they were real or mere shadows in the darkness of the woods.  As the terrified Europeans could fire at perceived shadows and the chieftains having no control of the actions of their war bands, the unknown nature of the blanks to all players seemed to work to good effect.  Well, OK, a bit frustrating for the Native player to carefully move his blanks into an excellent firing position only to find not one but three of his elements were false but then again the European player halting only to find himself once again firing at shadows is an equally disappointing yet realistic event.  And it does add to the suspense.  I do assure the players that half of the blanks are real (even numbered are there, odds are not) so as more are revealed more is known of the remaining.  — although I might want to mess with that ratio in a future game! ;)

Again I will let the pictures tell the story but the game ended with most of the French elements eliminated and the wagon free to deliver the fire-water to the fort.
view of the action
the infamous 'Whiskey Wagon"
British regulars in campaign lead the British lights also in campaign dress. The British commander suggested to himself that he should have, in hindsight, reversed that deployment! ;)
Natives cross a stream.  I heavily 'terrain' my bases.  A very inexpensive by simply looking outside and nearby parks for the natural items. 
'the Fort' is designed to fit into a small corner of the table