Wednesday 28 November 2018

The Cretan War

A tremendous book. I've recently been painting up some spare 1670s units as Venetians, Savoyards and Papal troops (I already have some from Luneberg-Celle) in readiness for this book. TBH what I knew about the war was pretty much limited to what I had seen on holiday in Crete walking the ruins of Candia and off one of my favourite films, the 1948 "Saraband for Dead Lovers" staring Stewart Grainger and Joan Greenwood. The book in question is a goldmine of information, covering as it does the complete period in great detail, including naval and land-based operations. Of particular interest to me was the later period where the involvement of the western powers, i.e. France, Savoy, the Papacy and the Empire (mainly Luneberg-Celle - see above re Saraband....). So much information is contained in the book that I shall no doubt have to trawl though it again to pick up the bits I am especially interested in. Lord Byron called the siege "Troy's Rival" or something like that, and it feels right as Candia was under siege for a very long time indeed, and the casualties sustained by both sides are unbelievably high. The book is well written, well referenced, with good maps, lavishly illustrated with b&w pictures as well as a good spread of colour plates. The army compositions, actions during the siege both on land and on sea are covered well. An absolute mine of information.

Vas Victis French Revolutionary War

I picked these up recently. I was tempted as they each have what turned out to be excellent articles on battles from the French Revolution. Maps, orders of battle, good accounts of the action. Ok, they’re in French but I can muddle through ok and I’ve got my daughter (a French Graduate) who can help out if I get stuck.

Sunday 25 November 2018

Battleground Show 2018 and The Battle of Zurich

Yesterday it was the excellent Battleground Show in Stockton, organised by Pendraken Miniatures. In one sentence, the show was GREAT. We put a game on again this year, the 2nd battle of Zurich 25 September 1799, set during the French Revolutionary Wars. Russians versus French in Switzerland seemed an obscure enough reason for the game. I already had the vast majority of the figures required for the game, so apart (?) from maybe half a dozen infantry battalions, a few batteries of guns and three or four regiments of cavalry, the biggest effort was sorting out the terrain. I commissioned a bespoke cloth off Tiny Wargames which was a little extravagant but it looked good and is certainly versatile enough to be used for other scenarios as well.  The biggest challenge was 'building' the city of Zurich. I decided against including the Vaubanesque walls that surrounded the city because (a) they didn't feature in the battle and (b) although I have a Vauban fortress it didn't look right (too big). The city was surrounded by gardens and vineyards which were easy enough to replicate, and by chance I've been trawling eBay for almost a year looking for 2nd hand Faller and Volmer HO/OO scale continental railway buildings. Yes, they're under scale but en masse you couldn't really tell and they looked great, especially after I had 'distressed' them a little.

The game was BIG, 18' long and 6' wide. I have to say I was very happy with the overall look of the tabletop as a representation of the battle. The game and the show are a bit of a blur but I will try my best to explain the photos that follow. (Most were taken using my phone hence their dodgy quality).

The players. (l to r) James and his dad Paul from Grimsby, my regular opponent John the Red,  Me, and my old mate Douglas from Falkirk. Big thanks for taking part.
A repeat of one of Friday's photos to put the size of the table etc into perspective.
The city of Zurich the Russian army stretching out into the distance.
This is probably my favourite photo as the clouds on the backdrop have an almost 3D effect. 
Lake Zurich and my model representing the flotilla of 19 gunboats commanded by a certain Colonel Williams in Austrian service. They had little influence in the real battle and none in the game either!
The Toblerone factory is being dismantled and its components and produce taken to safety proving that Stalin wasn't the first Russian to move entire factories away from the fighting! 
The only Russian reinforcements were a brigade of cavalry. They weren't present in the real battle but  I felt that as they  were close by it'd balance the sides out a little if they made an albeit late appearance.
The 'Boss' relaxing with a coffee before leaving me with the boys.

Battle commences with a slow advance by the French in the centre. Paul possibly negotiating the purchase of a new army off Nick or Ebor Miniatures.
On the French right the Russians are keen to get into contact as they have a significant local superiority in numbers.
The French in the centre were finding it hard to make any progress. Their artillery was being picked off by the usually ineffective Russian jager and poor command rolls stalled any advance for several turns, but the arrival of their cavalry brigade would hopefully improve the situation.
Both sides were constrained by the fact that the river Limmat was impassable other than by the bridges within the city.  In effect there were two separate battles being fought.
A chancy charge by a small regiment of French Chasseurs saw off a Russian battalion that failed to form square. The cavalry were unable to exploit their success due to casualties so withdrew shaken to reform. 
The French cavalry in the centre advance, supported by two batteries of horse artillery.
On the French left Gazan's appearance added a bit of fire into the French attack.  His cavalry charged the Russian line, catching them in line. Sadly although the Russians were shaken the French hussars were forced to withdraw. I think.
The Russian right reeling after loosing two battalions of infantry.
The French were aided by the Lombard Legion's very own Dario Bottibelli.
I just had to include a cuckoo clock, which for reasons best known to itself rang the chimes and cuckoo'd  at quarter past every hour!
The table was littered with a few little amusing (?) items. Here we have a St Bernard dog.
....and here we have THE Saint Bernard. Elsewhere we had The Laughing Cow, the Milka Cow, and Heidi to name but a few.
More French arrive on the left and are immediately pushed forward.
Stoic Russian infantry taking a pounding. 
Even more French reinforcements arrive in the centre, giving them an overwhelming numerical advantage if they were able to use it (which they struggled to do).
In the centre French and Russian cavalry clash.
Back over on the Russian right their cavalry has made an appearance and is now threatening the  French advance on the left. The Russian infantry have swung round to try and envelope the French attack.
Things are hotting up on the Russian right.  French infantry successfully charge two battalions of Russians  and break them.
The Russian right about to collapse.

John the Red pondering what to do about the Russian cavalry thundering towards him. Luckily for him they were stopped before they could do any damage.

I think at this point the Russians conceded. Their right was about to be broken and numbers in the centre were about to start making a difference for the French. As it stood at the end of the game it was a minor French victory, but certainly not an overwhelming one. Of course, the Russian lines of communication were about to be severed but they had enough units in play, including their superb grenadier battalions that had been immobile the entire game, to be able to extricate themselves somehow, perhaps? I thought it was a great game and a fair result given the dreadful dice throwing and general hubbub of a show. The punters certainly seemed to show their appreciation for the game so mission accomplished. Of course without the guys it would have not been possible. 
Oooops! Sorry! 

The usual Gypsey encampment on the rear slopes of the Zurichberg.
She without which none of this would have been possible. The wonderful and wholely supportive Mrs A.

And now a few photos of the other games, or some at least. Apologies if any were missed but Katherine did the rounds at about 2.30 and some games were already in the process of being packed away. Bad in my view especially as the show closed at 3.00! 
Durham's Russian colonial set in 19thC Bokhara.


I liked this. The Battle of the Standard.


Galleons, aaaaar!

Westerhope's WW2 game.

Tyneside's ancient naval.

Sorry if any were missed or have been pictured but not named but it was late. There were some great games this year, as indeed there were in previous years. I managed to wear myself out talking to dozens of people, including several who I hadn't seen for upwards of 30 years (e.g. Mick from Kendo in the 80's and Taffy from the ECWS in the late 70's). Obviously I also caught up with loads of other friends and acquaintances, so what wasn't there to like? I also took delivery of a large heavy box of figures from Nick Wragg of Ebor Miniatures so watch this space.......