Friday 27 December 2013

Miniature Wargames No 369

I am getting quite, er... very, p*****d off with this magazine. I have a subscription, ensuring that I always get a copy, and that it's on times not even on my doormat a bit before it hits the shops. Issue number 369 arrived in the mat today. That's over a week since I first saw it in the shops! This is now the norm in my experience, as for at least six months or so my magazine has been late, so late in one case that I rang up after a week and asked where it was. I received a replacement copy the next day, followed a few days later by the original copy!

Now, for me, the whole point of having a subscription is that I am guaranteed to get my magazine what with living in a very rural area and regardless of a busy work schedule that used to often keep me away from the likes of WH Smiths at the end of the month. This month I could have bought this issue several times over, what with various Xmas shopping trips, but never thought to look as I assumed each time that it would have been delivered when if got home.

My friend John asked if I'd received this issue as he'd not bothered as its content was poor. Oh dear, I thought, not exactly something to look forward to over the Xmas break. Anyway, to get back to my original point before digressing too much, I wonder if any other subscribers have experienced similar problems? It seems to have started to get worse ever since the magazine became "with Battlegames" although this may be entirely my imagination or an unfortunate piece of serendipity.

As it turns out issue 369 was a very disappointing read and didn't float my boat at all. There is usually at least one article that makes the magazine worth buying but not on this occasion sadly and it's already in the recycling bin. Such a shame.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

1866 Austrians

Here are the promised photos of my first units to be completed (although the gunners have not yet been varnished as I ran out). The hussars are ex-Helion now North Star and the guns and crews are from Irregular Miniatures.

Monday 23 December 2013

More mid-19th Century stuff......

Ever since the run of Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian games at the Club in the summer my interest in the former (since selling off my huge 6mm armies) been rekindled, albeit as a side project. Not sure the amendments made to Black Powder were quite right but they were fun and challenging games. I've been steadily finishing the figures I purchased many years ago and have even added to them slightly. There won't be enough for a game for a few months yet but I am getting there, allowing for any distractions of course.

So far I have a nice regiment of Austrian Hussars completed and based up, together with 4 batteries of Austrian artillery, which is probably more than I will ever need for the scale of game I (originally) had in mind, based around the campaign in western Germany waged by the Prussians against the Hanoverians and then the Federal VIII (Bavarian) and VIII Corps (mixed including Austrian, Nassau, Hessen-Darmstadt, Baden and Wurtemburg troops). However, it does leave room for expansion, as I recently discovered a range of 28mm Saxons for the 1866 campaign; Battle Honours, available from the USA. I could also go completely off piste and just field a sort of Ruritanian pair of armies, using the nice stuff from the smaller states in 1866.

 I am in the process of basing up 6 battalions of Austrians and another 6 of Bavarians. For the latter I am using Irregular Miniatures Wurtemburgers. Why? Well, in 1866 the Bavarians went to war in peaked field caps not too dissimilar to those worn by Wurtemburg troops (near enough anyway) and not the traditional crested Raupenhelm. Otherwise it'd have been easy to use Foundry Bavarians...... I need another Austrian battalion to complete the brigade though, plus commanders and casualty markers for all contingents.

I'm currently working on some more Austrian cavalry and loads of Prussians and their allies from Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Lippe Detmold and ( only because they are still in black uniforms and despite the fact that they arrived too late for any action) Brunswick.

Photos to follow.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Charge of the Heavy Brigade

Finally based up, the five regiments that make up the British heavy cavalry brigade for my Crimean War army.  V nice Foundry figures although the brigadier (see below) is a Great War Miniatures head swap. The brigade was made up of the 4th (Royal Irish) and 5th Dragoon Guards, the 1st (Royal) and 6th (Inneskilling) Dragoons and the Royal Scots Greys and was commanded by General Sir James Yorke Scarlett. The second photo shows the cavalry division commander, Lord Lucan (Or "Look on" as he was dubbed) together with an intrepid aide de camp closely resembling David Hemmings and the redoubtable and short-sighted Scarlett himself.

Apparently, in the 1968 Tony Richardson movie "Charge of the Light Brigade" the charge of the Heavies was filmed but was edited out of the final cut, as was the actor Lawrence Hervey who was playing a Russian Aristocrat/general but who fell out with the production team and ended up on the cutting room floor! I remember seeing a still of the Heavies in an article by one of the Mollo's in a wargames mag hundreds of years ago but sadly it never made it to the silver screen. The version of the movie available on DVD is also severely cut, for example, it doesn't have the scene where Nolan and Morris of the 17th Lancers are on an early morning ride and meet up with a piquet frying eggs for their breakfast. The piquet includes the actor Norman Rossington who played the Sgt Major of the 13th Hussars whom Cardigan had flogged and dismissed for not snitching on Nolan. He rejoins the 17th Lancers as a Private (no Troopers pre 1920s, except the horses of course). Nolan and Morris eat  their breakfast as if it is their right to do so! Cracking movie! If my troop commander had eaten my egg banjo back in the day there would have been hell on! I had a copy on DVD but lost it so it is on my Santa list.

Monday 9 December 2013

Thirty Years War: Battle of Breitenfeld 1631 refought

Rob, John and Paul ventured up for a game on Sunday. Waiting for them I had organised and set up a 28mm refight of Gustavus' first great victory in the TYW, namely the Battle of Breitenfeld. We threw for sides and Rob and I took the Imperial and Catholic League forces. John and Paul had the combined Swedish and Saxon armies.

In order to reflect their generally rubbish performance on the day, the Saxons were all classed as militia and their commanders were rated as 6. Anyone familiar with The Pike and Shotte rules will know how bad that made them!

The Swedes were much better, with the yellow brigade being classed as Elite and stubborn while the blue brigade were elite. Swedish generals of foot were graded 9while those of horse were 8's. Gustavus was a whopping great 10!

The Imperial commanders were graded 8 for those leading foot and 9 for the horse commanders. Tilly   was a 9. Anyone with 12" of Tilly taking a break test would be allowed to re roll if they failed it. Had we remembered that rule it would have come in very handy for the Imperial left flank but hey ho!

 (Above: the Swedes and Saxons. Below: The Imperialists)

I deployed the troops as closely as I could to their historical dispositions and also prettied the table up a bit with a few hedges, fields etc. The Saxons were deployed on a hill on the allied left flank, their foot flanked by brigades of horse. The Swedes deployed a small brigade of horse next  to the Saxon right, then came the mass of Swedish infantry, 7 regiments grouped into 4 brigades, supported by regimental artillery. On the Swedish right were 10 squadrons of horse (including 2 each of Cuirassiers and Finns) supported by 2 units of commanded shot.

To counter this the Imperial army were deployed with 5 squadrons of Cuirassiers, 1 of Harquebusiers and a unit of commanded shot on the left flank. There should have been another infantry tercio attached to this wing but I forgot to put it on the table!) In the centre were 8 regiments/tercios, grouped into 3 battalia, and supported by 2 batteries of heavy guns. The right flank comprised 2 squadrons of Cuirassiers, 3 of harquebusiers and 2 of Croats. A lone Imperial tercio was also deployed amidst the cavalry. There was also a small reserve of 3 squadrons of Harquebusiers.
 (Above: the Imperial left flank. Below: the Swedish centre advances)

 Above: The Imperialist right flank. Below: 'Father' Tilly the Imperial commander immediately after he rolled a double 6 and blundered!!!!)

 (Above: close up of the Swedish attack in the centre just before it faltered. Below: Rob's right wing clash with the Saxon horse)

 (Above: John's 'Blue Brigade' of elite Swedish infantry closing in on the Imperial left flank. Below: Imperial Harquebusiers)

 (Above: Close up of the Swedish 'Blue Brigade'. Below: Imperial Harquesbusiers from the right flank plug the gap in the Imperial centre) 

 (Above: Close up of Imperial Harquebusiers in the centre: Below: The Imperial centre and left flank seen from the Swedish side)

 (Above: The 'gallant' Saxons holding their ground. Below: The fight for the centre as the Swedish attack falters and is thrown back)

Above: Close up of the fighting in the centre. Below: A birds eye view at the end of the battle)
On the Imperial right Rob's troops took about three moves to start moving forward. Indeed one of his battalia blundered on move 1 and turned about and left the table for two turns! His Croats steadfastly refused to move as well which meant that our 'master plan' to screen and largely ignore the Saxons and press home an attack on the Swedes alone went up in smoke. Imperial and Saxon horse did clash and the latter were predictably driven off and their brigade shattered.  The Saxon foot less one unit of shot did survive the battle but their other cavalry brigade failed to join the battle.
In the centre Paul's Swedes advanced pretty rapidly and a protracted combat and exchange of fire took place along the battlefront. The Swedish attack in the centre was halted and forced back but elsewhere on the right-hand half of the table the armies were unable to close.
In my half of the table on the left, my 6 squadrons of horse held off more than twice their number of Swedes, destroying one brigade before themselves being shattered and forced from the field. My infantry were successful in slowing down John's attack (helped by a few blunders) although it has to be said that at the critical time my CinC (Tilly) blundered when attempting to restore the strength of one of my shaken cuirassier squadrons.
My heavy guns were quite effective for much of the game but I threw the 'wrong' dice and they were deemed to have exhausted their ammunition. This left a nasty whole in the centre, thankfully plugged by 3 squadrons of Harquesbusiers which had been withdrawn from the right flank. 
When we had to call it a day, after over 4 hours of game time, the positions were as seen in the last photograph. Both sides had lost a cavalry brigade (ok, the Saxons had lost one as well but I had decreed at the start of the game that any Saxon losses would not be counted). Some of the Swedish infantry was pretty badly mauled as were a couple of Imperial regiments. Had we gone on the Imperialists would have been hard pressed to hold the Swedes off on their left flank, although in the centre and right it may have been possible to make some head way. We declared it a draw and so ended the refight of Breitenfeld. Not quite the stunning victory of Gustavus' real battle. Most important of all though, the game was challenging and enjoyable, and great fun was had by all.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Breitenfeld tomorrow

The guys are coming up tomorrow, weather permitting. I was unsure what game to set up but have decided to leave the Crimea until I have the British Heavy Cavalry Bde finished together with someTurks  and other bits and bobs. If I don't the poor British will have a significant advantage in quality, but would it be enough against the quantity of the Russians? That's one for another day....

So, I know Rob was keen to have another go at TYW using Pike and Shotte rules, so I have scaled down the armies for Breitenfeld, fought in 1631, to two thirds (ish) and set the game up ready to go in the morning. Overall the Swedish/Saxon forces outnumber the Imperial/Catholic League army,  but the Saxons are a liability as they are all newly raised regiments, and have been formed bodies for no more than a month or so even if they were draw from the militia. Some of the Imperial troops are not much better but the Catholic League regiments are good, but not as good as the best of the Swedes.

The terrain is fairly boring. Just flat fields. The Swedes have a marshy river to their rear but as they are on the offensive that shouldn't be a problem. Anyway, we shall see and hopefully I will be able to post the outcome tomorrow.

Friday 29 November 2013

Games Workshop clear out ......and about time too!

Two weeks ago I put all my Empire GW Fantasy stuff on eBay, and 90% sold. I remember buying them when I almost ripped my leg off 7 years ago and they have only been on the table a few times, and never in the past 6 years. I have never played the new version of Warhammer but have heard they are very different, and as I have little enough gaming opportunities as it is and would rather play historical stuff I decided to sell. They are no use to me in a box under the games table and I have no real desire to have anything to do with the GW world any more for many possibly unprintable reasons. Even the paints and general hobby supplies are ridiculously expensive when compared to similar products, and the quality isn't there either, especially the paint. I'm now in the process of putting my treasured Vampire Counts army up for sale on eBay. No regrets as lovely as they are ( if indeed undead can ever be described as lovely), they've not been on the table for 5 or 6 years or so either. Recycle the money is my view. Hopefully they will sell as well as the Empire army did. And no rush really. What's a shame is that the figures are generally very good, but GW prices are madness compared to other figures of the same scale.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Smoggycon 2013

As promised I allowed myself an airing yesterday, thanks to Kathy who acted as my chauffeur, and paid a visit to Smoggycon in Middlesbrough. I'd been invited to take part in the Independent Wargames Group display game, set during the Italian Wars. I joined Rob on the Papal (Borgia) side, facing the Florentines under John and his son Neil. I have to say that the figures looked absolutely outstanding, as one would expect from Rob's painting.

The show itself appeared to be quite well attended, at least until after lunch when the punters seemed to melt away. Nonetheless, there was plenty of hustle and bustle in the both halls, loads of trade and a good range of demo and participation games. The Durham Pony Wars games looked good, as did the Battle of Trafalgar Square and the Gettysburg game.  I completed my purchases within about 15 minutes (mdf bases, static grass, some brushes and army painter dip but no figures!) so was able to devote most of the remaining time to playing the game or standing in the queue for something to eat. I had prepared some sandwiches the night before but they were still in the fridge at home, doh! It was also good to catch up with quite a few friends, some not seen for a very long time.

Back to the game, it was very enjoyable and incredibly frustrating thanks to the large number of failed command rolls, blunders and malfunctioning cannon batteries. The Papal forces eventually won, crippling then turning the Florentine right flank, making a dent in their right centre and holding off their left until it was time to call it a day. Thanks to Rob for the opportunity to participate in a cracking game.

I'm sure Rob will be putting some more pictures up on his blog soon.

Wednesday 20 November 2013


Well, there was an opportunity for a game the week, to put my new and (almost) completed Crimean War Russians and British on the table. Sadly, and rather ironically given the period, the game was postponed due to........rubbish weather and the promise of snow. You've got to laugh. Actually it does mean that when the armies do clash (hopefully next week) I will have completed the last regiment of the Light Brigade and the Russian 6th Rifle Btn, together with some additional commanders. I am looking forward to Smoggycom on Saturday, especially as I have a very short shopping list, e.g. Tufts, static grass and not much else. Looking forward to taking part in Robs Italian Wars game as well as just being able to get out after so long confined to barracks!

Monday 4 November 2013

Crimean War Russian Artillery

Fresh from the painting, flocking and tufting table are the artillery for my Russian Crimean army. There do seem to be rather a lot compared to the British but as far as I can ascertain, each Russian infantry division had an attached artillery brigade of four batteries, each of 12 guns. I've decided to depict Russian batteries with two gun models to reflect this significant difference from the British and French six-gun batteries.

The front row are two 'heavy' batteries. The middle row represents two 'light' batteries, while the last row are two eight-gun Cossack light horse artillery batteries, one of each being attached to my Hussar and Cossack cavalry brigades.

I have finished adding static grass to my Russian hussars and Cossacks and am in the process of doing the same to the (16) Russian infantry battalions. I have just found (although they were never lost as I'd forgotten I had them) a unit of Russian skirmishers to represent the 6th Rifle Btn together with two regiments of Uhlans. I really must get the last unit of the British Light Brigade done. Also the Heavy Brigade, as at the moment their commander General Scarlett has nothing to command.

Friday 1 November 2013

Great Northern War kickstarter from Ebor miniatures

I am seriously tempted by this new project. In fact, I have made a modest contribution already. It's doing really well with plenty of time to go. I have had an interest in the GNW for many many years and used to have quite a large collection in 6mm, but I sold it several years ago when I decided to revert back to 28mm for many what are probably totally illogical reasons, like, I can't see them to paint them, or why double up on terrain for 6 and 28 mm figures.....and so forth. Hope this link works....

Looks like my 2014 project is sorted already as well.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Crimean War Russians

I made a start basing up my Crimean Russians this weekend. I still need to put sand send static grass onto the bases but thought I would post a couple photos anyway. Shown are two regiments of hussars, two of Cossacks (all Foundry) and eight battalions, i.e. two regiments, of infantry (Ebor miniatures).

Wednesday 23 October 2013

More Crimean War British

Well, I might not have been able to do any painting over the last two weeks but I have managed to do some basing and tufting! Shown here is the so called Light Division (less one battalion, the 23rd Foot), with supporting artillery. The figures are a mixture of Foundry, Great War Miniatures and Warlord Games, and they all appear to fit in well together. This brings my British infantry to completion, as I now have these six battalions, plus three each of Highlanders and Guards for the 1st Division, with supporting field and horse artillery. The cavalry, in the shape of the Light Brigade, are almost done; just got one last unit of light dragoons to do. I also need to finish my commanders and casualty markers then the army is complete.

I had made good progress with the Russians but I am stalled at present post operation. Nevertheless, there are 16 battalions painted and waiting patiently to be based up, plus lots of artillery and cavalry in various stages of completion. I will put some photos up once they're done.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Normal service not quite resumed........

Well, I was ejected, er, discharged, from hospital on Tuesday afternoon and am now enjoying the delights of daytime tv, and I am home being very well looked after. Far too early to know if the operation was a success although my left leg and foot are quite numb in parts thanks to the battering my nervous system has taken, making walking difficult. All perfectly normal apparently and my back doesn't hurt much, even the bit that makes me look like a Borg with lots of metal staples in it!

Itching to get up to the games room to get on with some painting, and get the Crimean Russians fully based up, but as I'm not allowed to sit for too long or at all if hunched up, and the stairs are a bit tricky to negotiate at the moment I may have to wait a little while yet. Hopefully next week, as I keep forgetting that I had what amounts to major surgery on Monday.

Thursday 3 October 2013

American Civil War battle report

This summer in a moment of madness and opportunism I bought two ACW armies off Paul Stevenson. He was shifting the Redoubt Miniatures part of his collection. Painted, based, lots of them and a bargain too! John came up this week for a game and as it'll be my last at home for a few weeks subject to the after effects of my operation next week, we decided to givethe ACW troops a baptism of fire in their new home.

The scenario was a simple one. Both sides had a brigade of cavalry and three of infantry. The Confederates had 3 regiments of cavalry and ten of infantry with  4 guns while the Federals had 2 units of cavalry and 12 of infantry. Four of the Federal infantry units were classed as 'large', but they were also 'newly raised' which in Black Powder means that you don't quite know how they will perform when first in contact with the enemy. The Federals were supported by 5 batteries. Both armies' objective was the vital crossroads in the centre of the table, and they entered from opposite corners. Both sides forces would be preceded by their cavalry followed by at least one brigade of infantry in turn 1.
I got to go first and threw low for my cavalry so we made it right up to the crossroads with one regiment while a second, supported by their artillery, occupied the building and surrounding area. The third regiment moved up in support. My first infantry brigade headed off through the woods on my right to try and get to the road before the Federals. John started by throwing a blunder! His cavalry belted off straight ahead up the road and almost crashed into mine. His next command roll for the infantry following them up was also a blunder! They headed off in more or less the right direction, through the woods. His next brigade managed to get on the table but there was one hell of a traffic jam developing!
My cavalry shook out into line and shot up the Federal horsemen, disordering them in the process. The Confederates then occupied the cherry orchard and moved their supporting cavalry up, to catch the Federals from the front and in the flank and disorder them again. The other Federal cavalry advanced and dismounted in the cornfields, and were trading fire with the Rebs in the buildings. Federal infantry were advancing in long columns, and the remaining Confederates were also on the table and making steady progress towards the enemy. My brigade on the right made slow work of occupying the fence line on the road but managed to eventually without much hindrance from the Federals as John was throwing some miserable command dice which stopped him deploying fast and take advantage of his superior numbers.
The Federal cavalry brigade was eventually driven off as both units were shaken, leaving a nice hole for Johns infantry to plug. On the left my infantry made slow progress but did manage to form some sort of rather exposed line along the fence line. The dismounted cavalry in the orchard were driven off and broken by Federal infantry.

One of John's regiments on my left was exposed and not well supported so I threw common sense to the wind and charged it with one of my units. Another managed to throw a low command score and moved around its flank and deployed into line. I survived the closing fire. But in the melee, although I killed 3 of the Federals, I missed ALL my saves and lost 5 in return, thereby loosing the melee. I failed my break test and ran. Both supporting units had to take break tests, and both also failed and broke. So in less a few minutes my whole left flank was up in the air! Thankfully, John's brigade facing them was badly cut up with half it's units shaken.
On the right we spent most of the game exchanging long range fire and neither side was able to close as we were being very efficient at disordering each other. I lost a gun which was left exposed when I tried to withdraw my dismounted cavalry and replace them with an infantry regiment who failed to move up into the line. John's two brigades on my right were getting badly shot up, disordered and one unit in each was shaken. I was winning the fire fight (just!) but the Federal reserves pushed through and renewed the fight with fresh troops.

At this point we had to call it a day. We were both within one brigade of our respective army break points, although I felt that my position would be untenable if we'd played another couple of moves. As it was it was agreed we had fought each other to a draw, although the Confederates would in truth have struggled to hold the superior Federal numbers at bay if we'd gone on much longer, although there was a reasonable chance that the Federals may have had more troops shaken in the process. We will never know.
It was a good game and we got a lot done in about 3 hours with quite large forces. I think the ACW chapter in BP is a bit of a space filler (as indeed is the Crimean one imho) as it doesn't really suggest much more than a basic knowledge of the period, troop types, etc. No matter, the joy of BP is that you can tinker with them to make them 'feel' right to your heart's content. John made an interesting comment as well, that whatever period you play using BP it never feels like just another game using the same set of rules, e.g. ACW feel like ACW, SYW feel like SYW. Having played a whole range of games and periods using BP (and P&S) over the past few months I would happily agree.