Monday 27 March 2017

Fontenoy postponed

Sadly for anyone sat on the edge of their seats eagerly awaiting the report of the game scheduled for tomorrow I've had to postpone it as I underestimated how much impact my operation was still having on me and overestimated my ability to get through a whole day yet without knackering myself. I am back at the hospital on Wednesday to (fingers crossed) have the wires cut in preparation for the insertion of the abdominal battery pack, so while at the moment with all the wires and stuff dangling from my side I feel a bit like a steampunk version of the $6m man, I will be glad to get the next phase over soonest.

Fontenoy tomorrow

What with one thing and another it's been a while since my last game (it'll be well over a fortnight by the next one). Actually, its actually working out better for me not having a game every week, and planning for one or two a month does appear more sustainable health wise. I also have more time to do painting and other 'stuff' without it impinging on our weekly domestic schedule.

So, on Tuesday we shall be refighting Fontenoy using Paul's 15mm figures and Honours of War. Paul and I played this battle a year or two ago using Black Powder and although it was an enjoyable game (especially as the Allies- me - scraped a narrow victory) it was missing a certain 'something'. (We also played it back in the 1980's or maybe early '90s with his long gone 25mm armies oblivious to the fact  that we would be looked back on in time as Old School!).

It won't surprise anyone to be told that I do like Black Powder as a rules system, with certain caveats,  but one does need to avoid playing the rules rather than the period. Honours of War are not perfect either but have served us very well for our last few refights so we shall see what develops. Fontenoy is certainly a bit of a toughie for the Allies (nothing different there then) but victory is not outside of their grasp.

On other matters, arrangements are in place for attending Salute in April and Carronade in May, all subject to my health of course.

Saturday 25 March 2017

French Revolutionary War Lombard Legion

The latest recruits to the collection are five units of the Lombard Legion. I have two battalions of infantry, a third battalion deployed as skirmishers, a battalion gun and a squadron of hussars. The figures are all from Trent Miniatures and were painted for me by Northumbria Painting Services. As usual I did the basing to ensure it ties in with the rest of the army. I'm just about to start on a command base for the Legion once I've dug deep into my bits box for some suitable, er, bits to include on it. I also need to find a 4pdr cannon to issue to the gunners.

 I think the whole lot look great and I'm very happy with them. Whether their performance on the battlefield will make me happy is another matter of course.......

Wednesday 22 March 2017

The Elephant in the Garage

A little gem of a find in the Mother in Law's garage this weekend. She has no idea why it would be there except that her late husband liked to make models and presumably acquired it for that purpose. I recognised it straight away. I never had one myself but it's an original 20mm Hinchliffe kit, complete with instructions, from around 1972/73 that retailed for about £2(this one has a price on it of £2.90). The elephants and the gun are great but the gunners are rather crude but have a certain charm. A recast model can be bought these days from John Cunningham for £18 but I wonder how much this little gem is worth? (Not that I have any plans to sell it!).

Saturday 18 March 2017

A bionic wargamer but don't get the tv remotes mixed up!

On Sunday morning (tomorrow) at 7:30 a.m. I have to report to James Cook Hospital in Smoggyland (Middlesbrough) for an interesting little procedure to attach an electronic stimulator to my spinal cord (at L5/L6 or thereabouts, and I hope they know exactly) with the aim of significantly reducing my leg and back nerve pain. It won't cure me but it will hopefully help manage the symptoms.

I'm quite relaxed about the procedure (as I write this anyway) and have had to go through all sorts of physical and psychological assessments to judge my suitability for what is still an experimental trial. Its on the NHS but at around £20k a pop just for the hardware they have to sure I can cope with the implant in body and mind.

They normally only use a local anaesthetic for this procedure, with a generous dose of sedation, as its best if the patient is conscious throughout. I'm fascinated in a ghoulish kind of way. Shall I take a book to read I wonder......?

Wednesday 15 March 2017

The Russian army in Switzerland update.

This neat little book was one of the things that got me to turning the idea of recreating Suvorov's Swiss campaigns into reality. I've read Duffy's excellent Eagles over the Alps cover to cover many times as well, and together with a few other sources and the availability of some lovely figures from Eureka, Trent and Elite, the die was cast and less than a year later I've been able to refight some of the engagements in the Alps between the retreating (ok, strategically withdrawing) Russian army and the encircling French.

Although I've collected a rather large collection of Russians (14 battalions plus assorted stuff),  I probably (I.e. Definitely) need at least another Demi-brigade of French (and two of the existing ones need rounding out to full strength....). Even more scary are the Austrians, required for a couple of battles in Switzerland as well as North Italy if, er, when I decide to go that way. Plus, the Battle of Zurich is begging to be fought. Finally, I am dead keen to do the very obscure Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland. Amphibious landings and so forth.....(I've mentioned this before for sure, several times, and I am probably bonkers).

Assuming a I'm not carted off to the madhouse there will be more to come.

A great find on t'internet: French Revolutionary War campaign books

I've reposted this and deleted the original as the formatting had gone mad.

I was surfing the 'net a week or two ago and came across a reference to these books on another blog. A quick search and I was directed a bookstore in France.  A week later and the books arrived. Yes, they're in French but the orders of battle and maps are easy to follow as is much of the text even for my wobbly French, but with a daughter who is an aspiring French teacher and a wife who is pretty fluent I don't have to look far if need any difficult bits translating.

They're a little like the Osprey campaign series.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Altdorf, 26 September 1799: Holding the French at bay

As mentioned in the previous post, John the Red was here yesteday for another Suvarov in the Alps battle, the action at Altdorf. It was vital that the Russians contained and then drove the French off the table as their supply train was due to arrive at the village of Altdorf in the rear of the French forces. John chose to be the Russians which was fine as I'd not played as the French in the previous games. I deployed the French in their historical positions to the north of the stream. The Russian and Austrian forces would arrive over the first three turns. The French were outnumbered slightly but not by much (tell that to the French left!). We used Black Powder with suitable period-specific tweaks of my own added. For more about the scenario please see the previous post.

Map of the battlefield and tabletop (almost), taken from the excellent 'Suvorov in the Alps' by Tom Garnett, a set of six scenarios adapted for Regimental Fire and Fury. 
 The main French line deployed behind the stream.
 The extreme right of the French line with the Reuss River beyond the trees in the background.
 The French centre.
 Horse artillery 'wurst wagon' and battery commander.
 The first Russian brigade supported by some dismounted Cossacks entered the table close to the bridge over the Reuss, which they intended to cross.
 The following turn the Austrian brigade arrived. As they (slowly) advanced their leading units were badly shot up and disordered by the French covering the left flank. Indeed the Grenz battalion never really recovered and refused to move for the remainder of the game.
 Meanwhile in the centre John launched an assault across the stream by two battalions supported by his ex-Piedmontese mule-borne pop guns... er....1pdr artillery. My French fought valiantly but were beaten and forced to retreat shaken.
 Before the Russians could exploit gap in my centre, I managed to realign two battalions and pour musketry into the victorious Russians who were shaken and halted in their tracks.
 Meanwhile on the left the Austrians were starting to cross the stream. French musketry and artillery fire was deadly but the Austrians marched on. I'd made them large units of 32 figures, not just for the visual impact but also because it would cause them more than a few problems manoeuvring in line, or so I thought.
 Back on the right I had deliberately pushed my troops up into close range to try and goad the Russians to attack. One Russian battalion was shaken and forced to retire but another charged my cannon, quickly overrunning it, but not without taking significant casualties. My supporting infantry charged the Russian column but were unfortunately forced to retire, but not without shaking the Russians.
 Meanwhile the Russian commander executed a 'follow me' order and led one battalion of Russians over the bridge.
 The Russian assault in the centre resumed but was driven off with significant losses to both sides. Indeed, my French brigade was so badly battered that they were deemed broken unable to take any further offensive part in the game. The surviving units were forced to withdraw in front of the advancing Russians, but were still able to shoot them down as they came forward.
 The last Russian brigade advanced in the centre. Well, they would have had they had passed their command rolls. They were to take a bit of a pasting before they could get to grips with the French.
 Abandoned by the C in C the lone Russian battalion on the western side of the river marches on towards Altdorf.
 John's Austrians saved their first volley until they were in close range. IR 4 Hoch und Deutschmeister fired. Five dice and five sixes! The French battalion facing them saved most of the hits but was still shattered.
Nasty Austrians.
 The Russians charged over the bridge and against all the odds were held by a single French battalion for three turns.
 The French right is disarray, with most of the brigade shaken. Their commander proved to be positively useless in trying to rally his men.
The French reserve, a battalion of converged grenadiers under the direct control of the CinC, ploughed into the flank of the  Russians led by their gallant commander, General Lecourbe. Not surprisingly the Russians were broken and the entire brigade collapsed. The French right and Russian left were now both broken and in disarray.
The Austrians edged forward and after another exchange of musketry the French line dissolved, with the exception of a single battalion of 'legere'. Sadly the battalion holding the bridge finally broke, signalling the French defeat. With most of my army shaken or routed I threw in the towel.

So, chaos reigned along the entire battlefront. The French were able to make an ordered  withdrawal with their remaining forces and the Russian were able to seize Altdorf and rendezvous with the supply train.

All in all another great game. John said he'd doubted whether the Russians could break through the French. Sadly for me he was wrong, but it was a tough edge of the seat game for all that. I'm still not 100% sure about Black Powder for this project. However, I've mucked about with the rules and unit statistics a fair bit and they do seem to work and give a good, if not better, game.

Friday 10 March 2017

In preparation for tomorrow's game....

As the title says, I have a game tomorrow with John the Red. Before continuing on that theme, while tidying up my paint station ( yes, honest!) I came across a little item that was begging to be used immediately so I retrieved the French Revolutionary War "Mon General" piece from the box and ripped all the figures off, added the newly found item and then put the figures back and added the usual Pva, sand, flock, tufts and so forth and there it was, and here it is.

I think it's now a much improved vignette, and the representative from the Committee of Public Safety can still be used lurking just within earshot, only this time with his crony scribbling down the recipe!

So, the game. I'm thinking of doing the action at Altdorf during Suvarov's Swiss campaign. There are no cavalry in this one so my new Russians and French won't get a look in (even the Cossacks are dismounted) but I do get to field a brigade of Austrians in support of the Russian army. The Russians need to push the French back to the western bank of the Reuss Rover while the main body pushes on towards to Muotal valley and also prevent them from interfering with the supply train which had taken a different route through the mountains and was due to rendezvous at Altdorf, currently held by the French. The toughest half of the Russian army under Bagration (the grenadiers, jäger and more Cossacks) is not available in this action as they're part of the main body.

It's a fairly balanced game, as although the French are outnumbered they have the advantage of the terrain as well as slightly heavier artillery.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

A quiet week or two

Nothing much has happened up the Dale these past couple of weeks. The planned game Saturday last didn't go ahead as I wasn't well, but I have recovered (or am recovering) from some nasty bug at last.....? I have nevertheless despite my malaise managed to get some more figures finished and based up, all of which will add to my growing French Revolutionary Wars project, in the shape of a few more Austrians and Russians. No photos of those just yet, but I also finished a couple of French vignette pieces. These are off my phone as I am still sans camera!

 'Mon General' considering his options with his staff.....
 .....while a representative from the Directory of Public Safety eavesdrops in case the general displays any pro-aristo or counter revolutionary tendencies, and his assistant makes copious notes, which can always be altered later of course.

John the Red is coming up on Saturday for a game. Not sure what yet but I fancy rolling out the FRW collection again, with the new Austrians joining the Russians to face the French.

I seem to have developed two different strands for my FRW project. The original one was the Swiss campaign, and the possibility of refighting some of the battles in Northern Italy that immediately preceded it. The second is the 1799 Anglo-Russian invasion of the Netherlands. I picked up half a dozen English battalions at York and have farmed them out to be painted while I get on with finishing everything else off on the painting table, e.g. some more Cossacks and a battalion of Grenzers. I quite fancy doing the successful English amphibious assault at Calantsoog, and the engagements leading up to the Anglo-Russian defeat at Castricum. I've managed to find a fair bit of information about the campaign so we shall see. First of all I want to refight the Swiss campaign properly and do the Battle of Zurich as well.