Monday 30 September 2013


Well, as a treat to myself I went to the Derby show on Saturday. My partner Kathy and I drove down on Friday evening and stayed in a lovely old coaching inn in Castle Donnington. It was pet friendly too, as although big dog (choc Lab) was put in kennels, little dog (Shi'tsu) came with us. Actually I did very little of the driving as my back was playing up with a vengeance.

On Sat morning we arrived at the venue and were told by a security jobs worth that dogs were not allowed on site. Not even a small dog that we will keep in the car we asked? No was the answer. He let us in anyway as long as I was dropped off and collected later, but we just parked up and nobody said anything. Now, the venue is in the middle of the countryside, the dog in question is very small and makes less 'mess' than the average smoker dropping their tabs on the grass! At least we had poo bags!

Kathy had never been to a wargames show and was genuinely interested by it all and amazed at the number of people in attendance, the variety and number of traders and the quality of some of the games. I had my shopping list and in very short order had spent all my money at Irregular, Foundry, Warlord, Warbases and Eagle minis. I was very disciplined, maybe as  I was not alone! Met up with some of the guys from the Durham Club and also John and his son Neil. We made a couple of circuits of the hall and thought that by and large the games were pretty good, although to be honest apart from Flodden and a big WW2 western desert fight none really stuck in my memory. I didn't take the camera and my phone was being stupid so no photos.

We left at lunchtime and were home by five so a good day out and a fair introduction to the hobby beyond my games room for Kathy.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Nothing to report

No game this week as I'm getting my daughter ready to take off to university on Saturday. News from the 'front' has been very limited, obviously messengers are having trouble getting through the encirciling Prussian armies. So, other than a brief message to say that loads of reinforcements had arrived and that the French were still fighting I have no idea what went on last week after I left hors de combat. Who's reinforcements? Prussian? French? Did we hold off the Badeners? Do we still hold the village over the river? Did the French cavalry blunder again? Did the mitrailleuse actually hit anyone? All these questions and no answers! I will find out eventually I guess......

I've not done a great deal of painting recently. All I've managed is to finish another Swedish TYW regiment, some TYW and ACW casualty markers and a performing bear for my Poles, as well as some more cossacks and Pancerni that need basing. I've also made good progress basing my Crimean British and have made a start on some Russian artillery. The Crimean stuff is moving on pretty well probably prompted by the current interest in 19th century European wargames at the club. I've even dug out my 1866 Austrians and Bavarians!

Next week, back to normal, and hopefully two games. I've decided to make an attempt to get to Derby on 27/28 September assuming my health holds up. With the exception of one, or if I am lucky and up to it, two games the week after it will be just about my last 'airing' before I go in for spinal surgery on 7 October to sort out my lower back problems so I thought I would treat myself. Then I will be out of action for six to eight weeks, although I may still be able to get some painting done in short bursts.

Monday 16 September 2013

Moltke's revenge........or was it more like une position not so magnifique?

(Initial French deployment)
We played yet another Franco-Prussian game at the club last Thursday, again using Black Powder. The French were deployed defending a river crossing, with a division deployed along the ridge running parallel to the river and in a wooded area. A regiment of Turcos were holding the village on the opposite side of the river, while another regiment of Turcos and a brigade of light cavalry formed a reserve. I wasn't planning on staying all evening as my back was not up to it, but agreed to play on the French side. We were pretty certain that the Prussians would be entering the table from ANY of the roads leading to our position, even the ones to our flanks and rear, but didn't have enough men to cover every option. (I had an idea that this game was loosely based on Froschweiller but I may be wrong).

 (Above: Turcos holding the village across the river. Below: Holding off the attack by the Bavarian brigade)

The Bavarians were the first to enter the table, well their gun was as the rest failed their command role and as they weren't in march column were stuck off table. Our artillery and the Turcos in the village didn't manage to do much damage other than to disorder them. Next move the rest of he Bavarians and Saxons, together with an Uhlan regiment entered the table and pressed home an attack against the village. They were brought up short by close range fire from the Turcos and the French lining the ridge across the river. The mitrailleuse missed.
(The Saxons by-pass the village while the Badeners emerge in the French rear!)
Next move the Prussians brought on more troops (Badeners) behind the French right flank. They tried to charge my exposed flank (my regiments were lying down and therefore very vulnerable to close combat). Luckily the Badeners didn't get a very good command role and only made one move onto the table. The rest of the brigade failed to appear. In response to this the French tried to get up and change face, which they did but failed to do much damage on the exposed Baden regiment. Elsewhere the Bavarians were held up at the village and the Saxons were bypassing it to engage the French line defending the river to the right of the village. The mitrailleuse missed again.

The Badeners then managed to get their entire brigade with accompanying artillery onto the table and  were now in a position to envelop the French right and threaten their rear. The French cavalry tried to redeploy but blundered! They were forced to make a move directly towards the Baden infantry! Aargh! Miraculously they survived their break test after taking horrendous casualties and becoming disordered and were able to withdraw back over the ridge. V sensible.
(The French cavalry blundered, and this is where they ended up!!!)
(Crumbling French infantry facing the Baden attack)
The Badeners poured a massive amount of musketry and cannon fire against the exposed French right, disordering and shaking all units and breaking one. The French did manage to create some mayhem in the Baden brigade by shaking one of the regiments, and thankfully the Baden brigade was  unable to move very quickly round the French rear as they were unable to throw decent command roles. The French cavalry blundered again and the mitrailleuse missed and malfunctioned as the gunners presumably had started hitting it with hammers and empty wine bottles!
(Such a juicy target for the French mitrailleuse which failed to score a hit the entire battle)
At this point the French got some reinforcements on their left flank (a whole division plus cavalry), not really where they were needed but hey, at least they could avoid being hammered by Prussian artillery by hiding behind the ridge. They were well placed to bring their guns into action to interfere with the Bavarians though. However, I believe more Prussians were due to arrive the following move linking the Saxons and Badeners. Sadly, I have no idea what happened next (but a very shrewd idea) as I had to go as my back was giving me serious bother and I was struggling to carry on. Hopefully someone from the club will fill me in on what happened next, or I could have a "what happened next" competition.....?

Friday 6 September 2013

Une position magnifique, fin

Last week we left the French grimly hanging on in the face of Prussian assaults on both of their flanks. The Turcos in the wood on the left were stopping the Prussians (and Badeners) in their tracks, supported by long range rifle, artillery and mitrailleuse fire through the gap in the woods. On the right the French were also holding on although the Prussians were able to move their infantry out onto the flank and did manage to destroy three French regiments. Sadly, their supports were Bavarians and Saxons who were far less effective and the advantage could not be pressed home.
(The French right flank)
(Prussian and Baden regiments loosing the firefight with the French in the woods)

(Above: From behind the Prussian line facing the Turcos in the woods. Below: The French providing support to the Turcos)

The battle was decided on the French left as the Baden brigade was unable to dislodge the Turcos and was soon stopped in disorder. One then another and then a third regiment became shaken and failed their break tests. The supporting Prussian brigade had already been bloodied last week and was in no position to replace their Baden comrades in the firing line. It would have been suicidal unless the reserve artillery was able to do some damage. They were deployed right on the table edge and were taking ling range fire from a Mitrailleuse but did manage to destroy one exposed French regiment in a single concentrated round of firing.

A very quick conclusion to the game, as we were all done by half 8. The rules do work quite well for the period although the battles are incredibly bloody. Next week we are having another go, but with more Prussian artillery.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Thirty Years War: Imperialists almost triumphant this time!

Well, this turned out to be a real slogging match and the Swedes were on the verge of being beaten. Rob had asked if we could do a Swedes v Imperial game so he and John came up last night for the battle. After throwing for sides and who would be teamed with who, I ended up on my own with the Swedes. One day I'll get to play with my Imperial forces; maybe next time.
(Above: the Imperial right wing. Below: Swedish army deployed)
The Imperial army deployed with two strong brigades of cavalry on their right flank (4 x cuirassiers and 6 x harquebusiers squadrons plus a squadron of Croats). They deployed their six infantry regiments in the centre with a battery of 3 medium guns on the hill. They also had a unit of dragoons. On their left flank were  a squadron of Croats and 2 squadrons each of cuirassiers and harquebusiers. The Swedes deployed 4 squadrons of horse and 2 of cuirassiers on their left, with some attached commanded shot. In the centre was the 'Yellow' regiment, a brigade of two regiments of Swedish foot and a brigade of Saxon foot. On the right were a further 4 squadrons of horse, including 2 of Finns, again with some commanded shot. The Swedes were led by Gustavus, the Imperial army by Wallenstein.
(Two shots of the cavalry battle on the Swedish left)
The Swedes got to go first but made slow progress in the centre. They made even slower progress on the left as I failed my command rolls. I decided to hold the right flank back for the meantime. John and Rob clearly had a plan, and the Imperial army advanced as quickly as their sometimes mediocre command rolls would allow.

As the game progressed my left flank resolutely refused to move, and the only combats were as a result of counter charges. My commanded shot on both flanks caused a few casualties and, more importantly, disorder among the Imperial horse. In a long and protracted series of charges, occasional melees and some poor command roles all round, one of Rob's cavalry brigades was broken while mine very nearly was but was hanging on. I kept throwing rubbish command dice anyway so there was no danger of them getting to grips with the enemy. Even Gustavus couldn't get them to move, although my cuirassiers did defeat an Imperial harquebusier unit and were swinging round to threaten the rear of Wallenstein's rampaging cuirassiers.
(The Imperial left flank)
On the opposite flank I must admit to making the best use I could of the commanded shot to try and disorder the Imperial cavalry, and held my horse back. We did get into contact a couple of times and my Finns were victorious against some Imperial harquebusiers but I was loath to chance my arm against John's Cuirassiers without softening them up a bit first. John's Croats charged the Saxon light guns at the end of their line but were blown away by closing fire (thank goodness!). By the end of the game John's brigade was I think broken as more than half of its units were shaken or broken, so was no longer a threat.
(Furious fighting in the centre and Wallenstein and his cuirassiers rolling up the flank of the Yellow regiment)
Both armies were deployed facing each other in the centre. My foot had a significant advantage due to the firepower a Swedish army benefits from, and were holding their own. I perhaps foolishly exposed the flank of the 'Yellow' regiment by advancing beyond the woods and were promptly charged in the flank by Wallenstein himself, leading a unit of cuirassiers, having successfully thrown a 'follow me' order. This masterly move took me by surprise but hey, it happens. My regimental artillery was overrun and the cuirassiers crashed into the flank of a unit of shot. They too were defeated but at that point I managed to successfully get most of the 'Yellow' regiment into a hedgehog. Sadly, the Swedish 'Household Company' attached to the regiment were not so lucky and they were hit in the flank. They did manage to hang on for a couple of rounds of combat but were eventually to fail a break test. This left the Swedish centre dangerously exposed as they were struggling to hold off repeated assaults by John and Rob's pike blocks. My Swedish brigade was approaching break point as were the Saxons but thankfully John's brigade of foot facing the Saxons was already broken by this point.
(My newest Imperial regiment goes into action)
(To the rescue, almost. Swedish cuirassiers attempting to threaten the rear of the Imperial cuirassiers rolling up my centre)
At that point we had to call it a day. As it stood, the Imperialists had 2 spent brigades to my none, but I was unlikely to enjoy that for much longer, especially with my centre in danger of being rolled up by Wallenstein's cuirassiers. I was happy to have managed a draw but had it gone on I think the Swedes would have probably been beaten unless I was able to break a third Imperial brigade..

We did wonder about the power of Swedish commanded shot. They can do serious damage to enemy horse, which is usually superior and is why they were put there in the first place. The temptation is to use them to soften up the enemy before releasing your own horse. However, they can tie down a brigade of horse and are vulnerable to attack themselves.
(Imperial artillery battery. What a waste!)
A great and very challenging game I think and we all enjoyed the evening. Oh, and yet again the award for most ineffective unit in the game must go to.........its a tie for first place between my dragoons and the Imperial artillery. My dragoons did nothing all battle as they were either disordered and unable to move or failed their command rolls, while the Imperial artillery only hit my troops 2 or 3 times the entire game. Man of the Match goes to Wallenstein.

(The end of the game. Confusion reigns)