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.