Thursday 30 September 2021

The start of a new campaign (Part 1)

Its about time I ran another campaign here at The Burrow, and with my recent rekindled interest in the Ancients period and especially Late Romans, Goths and all I thought I'd set the 2021 campaign in a fictitious province on the edge of the Roman Empire sometime around the end of the fourth and start of the fifth centuries A.D. 

When I first set about building my Late Roman forces I'd always planned on producing enough figures for two sides so I could  represent some of the fighting that went on between various factions during that era; indeed the Goths were initially intended only as a small auxiliary corps for one or other of the armies, and see how that went off plan in a big way!

So here is the Province of Asienus, split into Asienus Superior to the north and Asienus Inferior in the south. The provincial capital is Praesidim Gehenae, and the two other main cities are Humidum Bracas and Aquilonisopidum.  

I drew this map using an app called 'inkarnate' which is easy to use and produces some pretty good results if I say so myself. When I get the hang of it I'm sure I'll do even better.

Two players are the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, located within the borders of the province at Tabularasa and Barborum Castra, and another player is in charge of the Huns who start the campaign off the top of the map, poised to render death and destruction on all in their path. Everyone else (with one as yet undisclosed exception) are Romans. One of these is the Magister Militum Asienus with overall responsibility for the province and two others are in theory responsible for Asienus’s Superior and Inferior respectively. The others are unaligned yet presumably loyal (to whom except to themselves?) generals dotted around the province in one or other of the remaining settlements.

Objectives are simple. The barbarians have to drive the Romans out of the province and subjugate the other barbarian players' commands, seizing settlements, looting and pillaging and all sorts of barbarian stereotypical behaviour. 

Meanwhile the Romans must battle for control of the province and although alliances are permitted, be 'the last man standing' not unlike in Kingmaker. They are free to proclaim themselves Emperor, or if they're too successful, their army will do it for them whether they want the purple or not, but they must also rid the province of barbarian invaders, either by defeat or diplomacy.

More to follow but I thought this little taste might pique some interest.

No game this weekend but I have lots of basing to finish off from various projects.

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Risorgimento 1859, well sort of….

This Saturday I offered yet another different period for us to game. I decided I’d do something never done before here at the Burrow, so decided I would put my Franco-Prussian War French against my Austrians-Prussian War Austrian and set up a fictional encounter between the French and Austrians somewhere in Northern Italy. I do have the figures for some Piedmontese troops but they’re way down the painting queue at present. Now before any button counters step in, I am perfectly aware that the uniforms for the Austrians are wrong as they should not be wearing their greatcoats, but that really doesn’t matter. If anyone thinks it does I’m sorry for you.

I worked out the Black Powder stats and characteristics for each army, allowing for ponderous Austrians with mainly rifled muskets but smoothbore artillery, and ensuring the French elan and superior artillery was reflected somehow. The French infantry mostly have rifled muskets again with some smoothbore muskets. Some of the Austrians were less than enthusiastic battalions of Italian-raised troops.

Both armies will be entering battlefield divided into two or three commands, the objective being for the French to secure the ground to anchor their main army’s flank while it manoeuvres around the Austrians. The Austrians need to deny the French their objective and by doing so will be able to strike the main French army in the flank.
Nigel, Shaun and Dave were the Austrians and Conrad, Paul and Neil the French.

Nigel's Austrian division on their right flank advances onto the table, eight infantry battalions, a cavalry regiment and a battery of guns. 

Facing Nigel across the table was Neil with a 'corps' of French - eight battalions (including some Zouaves and Turcos) and two batteries
Shaun's command on the Austrian left marched up the road towards the monastery. 
After a slight delay the Austrian  cavalry division and reserve artillery under Dave arrived, in the worst possible place in the centre of the table. Dave's cavalry advanced, nimbly avoiding a French horse artillery battery that devastated the leading cuirassier regiment as it cantered past!

The other end of the table. Paul's French kept failing their command rolls and Shaun was able to occupy the monastery and form a line to wait for the French to throw some better dice!

An Austrian eye view of the French attack opposite their right flank.

Nigel's Austrians deployed into line to wait for the expected French assault.

Meanwhile Paul's French on the opposite flank were still unable to move. He was a '9' commander so you can guess how hard it was to not move!
The French right was making painfully slow progress.

Conrad launched his cavalry at the shattered Austrian cuirassiers but  was  unable to destroy them. Both sides withdrew shaken.

On the French right Paul got some of his troops moving and tried to intercept the long column of Austrians marching along the road in support of their men in the monastery.
Paul's  infantry closed with Shaun's Austrians who had plenty of time to reply to meet them.
The French assault ground to a halt, but I'm getting ahead of myself....

The only 'Italian' troops on the table were two battalions of Piedmontese Bersaglieri, who were content to trade fire with the Austrians in the monastery.

Back on the French left Austrian firing was ineffective as can be seen with the above dice scores!

The French columns made it into contact and had mixed fortunes.  Only the Turcos were able to push the enemy back, and eventually, despite having several shaken battalions, the Austrians drove the equally shaken French back! 

The Austrian cavalry finally decided not to ignore them and overran the troublesome French artillery.

Dave then switched his cavalry over to the other side of the village and  attacked Conrad's French cavalry. His cuirassiers defeated the French hussars.

Austrian hussars locked in combat with Chasseurs d'Afrique.

The Austrian hussars were forced to retreat and the French carried out a sweeping advance (I didn't give them the choice) right in front of a battery of Austrian artillery. No surprise that the Chasseurs were hit hard by canister and destroyed.

The Turcos pushed deeper into the Austrian line.

Neil's attack was floundering.
Ultimately the Turcos were shaken and completely isolated, yet they were able to  withdraw in the face of the Austrian counter attack

Nigel's counter attack finally broke Neil's French 'corps' the survivors of which were forced to withdraw.

The French reserve mad an appearance in the shape of a brigade of cuirassiers and one of the Imperial Guard. The latter never got into action but the cuirassiers destroyed the remaining Austrian cavalry, culminating with a glorious charge deep into the enemy lines. They even made it back safely.


The Imperial Guard did what they did best and sat it out behind a wood.

So ended the game, with the bloody French repulse on one flank, the slow advance on the other and the loss of most of their cavalry signalling an Austrian victory. It was actually quite a close run thing, and it was good to see everyone playing the period rather than the rules. It was an enjoyable game with some very colourful troops, and if nothing else it'll be an incentive to paint up my Piedmontese division. I've only had them in a box for a dozen or so years!

More Seventeenth Century Ottomans

If one accepts the premiss that you can never have enough ......... [insert as applicable] then some time ago I purchased a few more seventeenth century Ottoman Turks to swell the army as I was a little short of infantry (honest dear!). They were nearly all painted for me by friend Barry last year, or probably even the year before, and then bunged into the abyss that is the space under my table and, while not quite forgotten about, were pushed to the back of my mind as I had newer projects on the go. Well, having got a little tired of Late Romans and Goths of late I decided to base up these errant Ottomans up so I can use them in a forthcoming game I have planned, and here they are.

This and the following five pictures are the four new Janissary units. The deeper bases denote 'large' units if I'm using Pike and Shot or another set that has such a distinction.

The last two photos are of the three units of Balkan irregulars.


The Janissaries are from Warfare Miniatures and are in campaign dress rather than the fancy dress we normally see them attired in (not that I don't have and won't use the ones I have dressed that way of course). The irregular Balkan infantry are all from Steve Barber's fantastic but-needs-to-be-bigger Greek Wars of Independence range, being a mixture of various wild and savage Ottoman, Balkan and Greek figures. unsolicited plug here.

All the flags are from Warfare Miniatures - another unsolicited plug here

I expect great things of the Janissaries when they take the field, rather less great of the Balkan irregulars. We shall see.

Monday 20 September 2021

This weekend we played a Thirty Years’ War game, but no cute puppies or kittens.....

Yes, for the first time since 2017 my Thirty Years’ War collection was dusted off and sent into action. They’re not large armies compared to some I own, but they’re still very colourful and appealing to the eye if I say so myself. Well over half of the figures are Warlord plastics, the remainder being TAG (the best), Foundry, 1st Corps and Bicorne I think. This whole collection was on my 'to sell if I don't use 'em' list for a while, but not any more. 

Part of the Swedish Blue Brigade prior to the battle.

I decided to use Warlord’s Pike and Shotte rules and the TYW supplement The Devil‘s Playground, exactly as they were written, the only exception being that troops could only shoot if they moved once rather than up to three times. P&S split a battalia down into three separate units, two shot and one pike. Much debate has been had about whether this is ‘right’ or not, but I suspect that wings of shot did operate separately of their parent pike block when required to do so. My Swedish regiments have three bases of shot to give them a slight advantage in firepower, in theory. Readers please note that this week there are no cute puppy or kitten photographs. 

Conrad and Nigel were Swedes on the right, while Paul and John took command of the Catholic League army. I didn’t play but umpired and gave occasional ‘advice’ as well as being in charge of the commissariat, and calling the shots regarding any queries or rules queries/challenges, of which there were barely any. The objective wa for the Swedes to capture the hill and the roads leading off the Catholic table edge. The Catholic League not only had to prevent this but also had to defeat the Swedes. Just hanging on to the high ground wasn’t likely to work in the face of aggressive Swedish tactics, so some aggression of their own was going to be required. The Swedish infantry were superior to most of the the enemy foot, but the Catholics had much more cavalry, especially cuirassiers, and had superiority in artillery…..not that it was to matter in the end. As usual, I hope the photos and captions will tell how the battle unfolded.

The Swedish army as seen from their right wing, with Finnish horse leading the way..
The League centre anchored on the village with more infantry deployed out beyond it to the right. Catholic League dragoons are in the village.

The Catholic League right flank, with cuirassiers and harquebusiers in their rear. A lone gun  is firing at a Swedish piece across the table.

The Swedish centre. Led by the Blue Brigade with the Yellow  regiment in  their rear.

On the Swedish left were five squadrons of Swedish horse (not all visible) and four of  Hessian harquebusiers.

The Catholic League plan appeared to be to hold the centre and refuse both flanks. They had deployed Croat cavalry as speed bumps on their left with their heavy horse held back. On the other flank were 11 squadrons of horse. Their seven infantry regiments formed up in the centre, with one brigade on the hill and the other slightly offset covering the open right flank. The Swedes’ plan was to punch through the centre while pinning the enemy cavalry on each wing. Subtle it was not.
The artillery in the Catholic centre bombards the enemy from their hilltop vantage point.

The Catholic bombardment continued as the Swedish infantry marched closer.
Swedish cavalry weave their way forwards between the village and the woods while the infantry advance.

The Swedes continued their advance. One body of shot has fallen behind victim of the Catholic artillery fire.
Swedish horse on their right.

The Croat speed bumps. Nigel's over-rated Finns charged them and they failed to evade, one squadron being destroyed at once, and another was shaken. The rest fell back.
John's League infantry holding the centre.
The Swedish regimental artillery foolishly moved through the bee hive area and on throwing a '6' became disordered!

A surviving squadron of Croats on the League left.

John pushed a regiment up into this enclosure to anchor his left flank. There were dragoons in the woods to the left, beyond which were their left-wing cavalry.
The Swedish moved two regiments up towards the extreme left of the League centre against the troops in the enclosure.

Meanwhile, the Yellow Regiment veered off to the right and attacked the League troops in the enclosure.
The Yellow Regiment piling in over the he3dges into the enclosure. The League musketeers you can see were being distracted by the Green and White regiments seen earlier.
Conrad held his Hessian harquebusiers back, not wishing to  risk them agains the  more powerful League cavalry.
League and Swedish cuirassiers clash on the Swedish right in what was to become a see-saw battle of attrition.
More fighting on the Swedish right. It wasn't going all their way.
Fighting in the centre.

And still the fighting on the Swedish right went on!

The yellow Regiment forced the League infantry back, isolating the musketeers who were by now facing the Swedes to their front in melee.

Paul had been incredibly unfortunate with his command rolls and had barely been able to move his cavalry or infantry on the right wing. In desperation he carried out a 'follow me!" order and hit this unit of Swedish shot in the flank. Miraculously, thanks to extreme dice scores, the infantry stood!

Paul finally managed some movement with his wing and the infantry advanced.

Conrad ordered his left wing Swedish horse to charge and they got the worst in a bitter and brief melee. Three squadrons were destroyed and the entire brigade was forced to pull back spent.

In the centre the Swedes charged the League infantry and artillery. The latter were swiftly overrun without causing much damage but the infantry combat was to last several turns before the League were beaten.

....and  STILL the combat on the right went on!
At this point we agreed to call time. The Swedish left was effectively destroyed and their right wing cavalry wasn't making much progress against the League apart from seeing off the rest of the Croats. However, several squadrons of horse damaged earlier (including the dreaded Finns) had recovered and were now ready to rejoin the fight.

In the centre though the League had disintegrated under pressure. It was not however a Swedish victory as despite everything there were still maybe ten squadrons of League cuirassiers and harquebusiers plus three untouched regiments of foot swinging slowly round from the right. The only Swedish reserves would take time to come up and cover their exposed left, but based on Paul's dreadful command dice scores they'd probably get there with time to spare! We all agreed that all things considered the battle was a somewhat costly draw.

Everyone enjoyed the game. However, the supplement suggests Swedish foot should be stubborn. Thats too much of an advantage, so next time I will use another way to reflect their determination, probably by adding one to their stamina. I think we were all more or less ok with the rule mechanics, but agreed that overall the stats and characteristics in the rule book and supplement need some informed tweaking, which we shall do for next time.

It was good to get this lot out on the table again after such a long break. I do have a couple more Imperial and Saxon units but couldn't find them, but they'll be somewhere under the table. Thanks to everyone for taking part. Next time I am determined to play. 

Next Saturday, another game and an other period......