Thursday 28 May 2020

Wargames Atlantic Plastic 28mm Afghan Tribesmen

When this package arrived today my usual comment of "I have absolutely no idea what it could be " was entirely true. I'd completely forgotten that way back whenever I'd pre-ordered a box as I thought I could use them to expand my Sikh Wars collection into Afghanistan proper as well as for the 2nd Sikh War.

First impressions based on the box art were good. The option to make 40 figures was and is a big attraction even if I have moved on from 1840s India, for the present.......

Once inside the box, there are eight identical hard plastic sprues, each with five legs and torsos cast as a single piece. Each sprue  also has 13 different heads and enough pairs of arms and weapons to arm each tribesman with either a jezail, a Martini Henry or sword and shield. So, 40 men with jezail, 40 with Martini Henry, 40 swordsmen, or any combination thereof. Unless I’ve missed them, the only absentees I would comment on is an option for command figures, but that’s not a weakness of the set at all in my opinion as it suits my needs. It is providing a cheap way of bulking up my existing forces and I probably have some spare chieftains and flag bearers in my bits box to recruit.

I’ve not had the chance to stick any of the figures together yet due to commitments in other periods at the moment but I’m sure I shall see a return to to the Indian sub-continent by the end of the summer.

Overall then, although I’m not a fan of hard plastic figures that require assembling if only because I normally have better things to do with my time than sticking my fingers together, I do think these are an excellent set. Now, I wonder what the Perry set will be like?

Tuesday 26 May 2020

French Revolutionary Wars Campaign battle technology update

Some of the participants in the game, as seen through Skype. General Pichegru has even set the background to show a portrait of the man himself.
Yet another player, and the view from the pan-cam showing the entire battlefield. There’s another pan-cam looking down the table from left to right and the iPad on the table is the roving camera for close ups. I am getting to like the idea of limiting players to a restricted view of the tabletop. It makes it more of a challenge for them but it does mean that the minutae of tactics etc at battalion level or taken care of by the facilitator.

Monday 25 May 2020

French Revolutionary Wars Campaign. The Battle of Courtrai

Following on from the previous post the Burrow reopened for business on Saturday, albeit through the use of technology, in order to play out a campaign battle that needed to be resolved so we could move on. The French (and for the benefit of the Emigre player,  I mean the Armies of the French Republic and not the French Emigres, who, although French as well, will be referred to as Emigres).  What follows is a suitably sanitised/censored account of the scenario and the battle, as I don’t wish to let slip too many, or even any, secrets relating to the campaign in general. That I leave up to the players. You know who you are.

Austrian positions in blue, French under Souham in red. The french will also arrive from the south under Pichegru while Colberg will enter from the north.
Several days have passed since the battles at Hondschoote on 4 September (here) and Bissinghem/Menin on 5 September (here) as well as the lifting of the siege of Dunkirk by the Anglo-Hanoverians. In campaign time it is now 9 September 1793. The armies of both sides have been blooded and so far, despite their successes on the battlefield and the capture of Menin and Ypres, strategically the well thought out and boldly executed French plans have fallen just short of their objective of destroying the Coalition forces in the Austrian Netherlands. This is due largely to Coalition players really getting into character, some very fortunate troop movements that so far have just managed to foil the French 'grand plan', and some even more fortunate extreme random event dice scores rolled by me (which I can’t share just yet).

So. The Austrians and Emigres are in and around Courtrai. The Emigres are out of it for the time being after their crushing defeat on 5 September. Austrian losses on that day were also heavy when considering the few numbers of troops engaged. An isolated Corps under Kinsky is entrenched four miles south of Courtrai on the east of the River Lys. Houchard ordered the division of General Souham to attack Kinsky from the East while Pichegru  attacked from the South. Souham’s light cavalry were to cut the line of communication between Kinsky and Courtrai thus preventing a retreat and/or reinforcements from arriving.

That was the plan. It worked to a point insofar that the French light cavalry did indeed try to slow the advance of the Austrian reinforcements which fortuitously Colberg had standing to ready to move on either bank of the river. However the French were attacked by a brigade of cuirassiers and uhlans that had been detached from Kinsky’s command specifically to keep the route open. The French hussars gamely tried to put up a fight but were outclassed and routed. Two regiments fled and the remaining two wisely pulled back. Job done, the Austrian cavalry returned to Kinsky's beleaguered division, followed up by the reinforcements led by Colberg.

Souham's heavy cavalry brigade. The only decent cavalry in the entire Armée du Nord. The 8th Cavalry suffered heavily from Austrian artillery fire until it decided to withdraw out of range while it had the choice.
Souham's 2nd infantry brigade were advancing very slowly towards the Austrians, and barely made it past the hedgerow just visible on the right. The Representative of the People may well be having words.
Souham's 1st brigade advanced much more briskly towards the Austrians lining the road.
Colberg arrived with the heavy cavalry and the Army Reserve Brigade of grenadiers just in time to to take the pressure off Kinsky's worn troops.
The I/KundK IR No. 2 holding the entrenchments facing south supported by a battery in a redoubt. The II btn. of the  IR No 2 is out of shot to the right. The French cavalry seen in the background took heavy losses from this battery, and another off to the right, while the infantry battalion shown here was under fire from a battery of French 12pdrs.

Pichegru's infantry charged the wood on the left of the village, driving out the Austrian jager holding it who took refuge in the village. Then another French battalion charged and drove the jager out of the eastern half of the town. The other half was held by battalion of Austrians.

The French broke through the Austrian defence when the battalion referred to  earlier  failed to stand when facing a charge. The Austrians lost a casualty in the retreat which took them to their dispersal point so they were removed from play. Pichegru order his victorious infantry to follow up, but they fell short of their next target and themselves became a target for a battery of Austrian 12pdrs and then a charge by the Austrian cuirassier. The French were unable to form square but in the charge response phase threw very high while the Austrians threw very low. The result was that the cuirassiers failed to make contact and withdrew. Not good.
Souham's 1st brigade was made up of several battalions of 'les blancs', regiments from the Ancien Regime  now fighting for the Republic in the defence of France. The leading battalion broke through the Austrians holding the road who were forced to retreat. The big puff of smoke marks where as a result of one of several 'destiny' rolls from Souham the nearest enemy brigadier was hit by a stray shell and killed. That the brigade then passed its faltering test must have been a blessing to the Austrians and annoying to the French. One of Pichegru's brigade commanders met a similar fate, but again his troops were unaffected.
Seen from behind the Austrian positions, the grenadier brigade is slowly shaking out into a line to block the two gaps in their line. Behind is a scratch brigade, newly formed from damaged battalions from the battlefield on 5 September.

By this time we'd been at it for nearly six hours and not quite got to a definite conclusion. There was still everything to play for as the French and Austrians still had large numbers of uncommitted troops. Everyone's keen to carry on next Saturday. I was very happy with that idea as (a) I was becoming knackered and my damaged back was really starting to hurt, (b) its quite an effort to move all the troops for everybody and follow their instructions and also umpire/facilitate the game and (c) the technology was starting to fail due to a weak internet signal from around 3pm.

I'm going to send all the players photos of the battle as seen from their perspective as well as (more importantly) casualty returns for each of their units as some were getting pretty close to the wire.

If anyone is interested, aided by my techno-wizard wife, we created a pretty good setup. One webcam provided a panoramic view of the table from the North side. Another (an iPad connecting via WiFi) did the same looking down the table from the East. Finally I had another iPad operating as a roving camera for close ups and so forth. I hadn't thought of using iPads as cameras, especially as this method meant there were no cables for me to fall over, but with the right software it all worked out pretty well until we 'lost' the roving camera.

Saturday 23 May 2020

A game in the Burrow at last....sort of.

The western end of the Austrian position
Later today (Saturday) I am hosting a game via Skype for the first time. My wife sorted out the technology, configuring our two tablets and a webcam to give the players a view of the proceedings.

The game is what might prove to be a pivotal confrontation in my French Revolutionary Wars campaign. It’s actually the fifth battle in just nine campaign days, so there’s been plenty of action so far. The Austrians have a division entrenched a few miles south of Courtrai on the east bank of the Lys. A little exposed, it is about to come under attack from a much larger force of revolting Revolutionary French. The Austrian Commander in Chief in Courtrai is aware of this and may well be trying to send reinforcements as it’s only a few miles quick marching away. Of course the French have planned for this and have a strong force of cavalry on the road between Courtrai and the isolated Austrians ready to interfere. Will the Austrian reinforcements get through, and will they get through in time?
The Austrian camp. Yes, everyone needs a pink Teddy keeping their bed warm.
The game will start with me having the answers to those questions as I’ve already played out that phase of the battle but have yet to share the outcome with the participants as there won’t have been chance for any communication between the off table commanders and the on table commanders before the start of the main battle.

The centre of the L-shaped Austrian position. Plenty of entrenched artillery but only six battalions and no obvious sign of any cavalry. This was the division that failed to cross the river during the battle a few campaign days ago, suffering heavy losses among a couple of battalions.

The eastern end of the table. This is where the initial French advance is expected to begin. The troops are not yet on the table but that is where they will be assuming they pass their orders. The southern edge is the way to Menin and probably where more French could appear. The northern edge is the route to Courtrai, where reinforcements could arrive if they’ve fought their way through any French blocking force, or not.......

Barring any technical hiccups kick off is at 10am. I’m looking forward to it, especially as I get to do my evil laugh at a few points during the game. I’m using Gen d’Armee so it'll also be an interesting experiment. With all such games there is an unquestioned assumption of honesty and integrity among the players as they will be rolling the dice and revealing the scores while I move their figures for them. I’ll also be in charge of the cameras. 

I will of course give a full account of the game later today or tomorrow.

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Italian Wars Gendarmes

I finished basing these today. The squadron with the flags are in the service of Venice while the others may well find themselves as French once I get some lovely flags off Pete's Flags.

A useful addition to the Italian Wars collection

I picked these off eBay in around 2013. I always thought they’d come in handy sometime so I only had to tidy them up and rebase them, with new flags by Pete’s Flags and hey presto.  I plan to field this as a single 48 figure pike block. They’re based on just four large MDF bases, two each of 80mm x 120mm and 80mm X 60mm thus enabling a little flexibility. The castings are from Old Glory. 

Sunday 17 May 2020

Corona madness

It seems like ages since my previous post on 7 May. I’ve hardly been inactive as I’ve played, via Skype, three games, all of which were good fun and welcome distractions to the current situation. I didn’t feel much like blogging about the games as the quality of the photos I took of the images on my computer screen were pretty average and I was far too engrossed in the games to remember much of what was happening. Good old fog of war. It’s actually quite good (not) having a drone’s-eye view of the tabletop. Is there anyone hiding behind that forest? Better send some men to find out the old fashioned way.

In terms of painting, after so many weeks of being housebound I suppose something had to happen. I’ve been very active dabbing and daubing away for half an hour or so two or three, even four times a day, and some of the fruits of this far from frenzied activity have been seen on this blog recently. Well, here is something totally different. With help from my mate Barry I’ve finally got stuck in to my long-stalled Italian Wars project, and it’s already shown signs of growing into an uncontrolled beast! It helps that I already have a fair few painted from around eight years ago when I became inspired by my mates’ Robbie Rodiss and Jim Sweeny’s collections which I played with in the flesh, and that of Jim Roach that I admired from afar.

My attempt at an early Spanish colonella, behind which there are two units of Gendarmes, the front being  generic Condotta and the rear one being Venetian. Spanish painted by Barry, the Gendarmes by me.
Venetians. Archers in the front and a pike block behind. Yes I know, I need to get some new movement trays for the larger units. Painted baby Barry, finished off by me. 
Light cavalry. In the forefront the ubiquitous Stradiotti (I need some more) in to the rear some  Florentine mounted hand gunners. 
The crossbows are Florentine. Arquebusiers are Venetian. 
The majority of the figures are from The Assault Group, with a fair number from the Perry twins. I have more of both these manufacturers figures to do, plus some venerable Hinchliffe and Old Glory castings. All the flags are from Pete’s Flags. A big thanks to Barry for helping me kick start this project. The PLAN is to have modest (ish) forces from Venice, the Papacy, Spain/Naples and French. And anything else that takes my fancy. Another good reason to be pleased today is that I’ve found enough space to store some more boxes in my man cave so they’ll all have a home.

Thursday 7 May 2020

The Guides de l’Armee d’Allemagne

I found some ‘spare’ early Napoleonic Hussars in the box of doom so thought I would knock off a quick half dozen figure squadron of the Guides de l’Armee d’Allemagne from the French Revolutionary Wars as depicted in a Knotel print I’ve seen. This was a short lived (they were subsumed into one of the regular hussar regiments ) and small unit but one with a good bit of dress sense when it came to their uniforms. Very bright. These are actually Eagle Figures Spanish Hussars but mirletons and breaches and a paint job and hey presto. I reckoned General Houchard in my FRW Flanders campaign needed a squadron of Guides so What better motivation than that. I’ve been struggling with painting these past few days but they’ll do.

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Wittstock and Skype

Last Saturday Steve kindly hosted another Thirty Years War game via Skype, this time the Battle of Wittstock on 4 October 1636.  The Swedes, commanded by a Scotsman and most of the army 'British' or German faced a roughly equal force of Imperialists. Both sides had only a portion of their troops on the table, but the difference was that the Swedes would be bringing troops on both short edges of the table on T2 and T4, exactly where dictated by rolling command dice each turn.

I only took a couple of photos of the game sadly as I was far too engrossed in the proceedings, especially when my flanking force of cavalry rolled up the Imperialist line from their right, and just in time too as our right and centre were beginning to crumble. 

It was a really good game and well done again Steve for organising it and doing all the hard work. We all agreed that Pike and Shot as a rule set for the TYW are pretty rubbish, for a list of reasons far to long to bother anyone with here. That said, it was still as I said a great game and a most excellent way to spend time with fellow wargaming friends in this time of crisis.

We are convening again next Saturday for another TYW battle, which I am looking forwards to very much.