Sunday, November 5, 2017

Shout Out for Fast Delivery and Good Service

Further adventures with Canada Post and figure orders from the United (sic) Kingdom.  This fall I ordered a bunch of SYW figures in preparation for the upcoming Painting Challenge, two orders from Front Rank and two from Crusader (North Star).  I previously compliments North Star and their good service, so this time the plug goes to Front Rank.

It's a tale of two orders, one on September 5th the second on October 5th.  On October 24th the second parcel arrived, three weeks turn around which is good for UK-Canada mail, but the first was no where in sight.  Accordingly I contacted Front Rank and asked if they had any way of tracking it.  The next morning I got a note back saying that they had refilled the order and dispatched with tracking, no charge to me.  It arrived on November 2nd, a one week turn around.

So well done to the folks at Front Rank.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Shout Out for Fast Delivery

I thought I should give a shout out to NorthStar Figures based on a recent order that I placed with them.  This was the second order I've placed with NorthStar since the end of August and both arrived PDQ, the most recent one week after order.

For someone in the wilds of Saskatchewan that's extremely fast turnaround.  Postal delivery on war-games materials is always an issue for Canadians, as we are almost always ordering from overseas and typically from Britain.  Perry Miniatures have always been excellent on trans-Atlantic orders but it looks like North Star are equally strong.

Many of my blog readers are from the UK, so are used to fast and easy delivery, and I suspect that the American readers will also expect this.  Canadian manufacturers are few and far between and don't really offer what I want which means the perils of ordering from abroad.  There are a few basic rules of thumb in this regard.

  • It is not worth considering ordering figures from the US.  Americans just don't get the rest of the world in posting or in anything else.  Shipping charges are astronomical, delivery is so slow that is must be routed via camel train through the Silk Road.  Moreover, they typical pack things in a box that this about 12 sizes larger than what's required (must be overcompensating for something, like their President) meaning the box won't fit my letter box but also that it invariably attracts the revenue man meaning that I get his with duty and sales tax.
  • Among British Manufacturers there are two types - those that deduct VAT for overseas orders and those that don't.  Perry, NorthStar and Front Rank fall into the first category, most others the second.  There is a middle ground of companies that keep the VAT but don't charge shipping over a reasonable level (like Dixon at the 25 quid level).  Basically deducting the VAT  nets out most of the shipping charges. 
  • Regardless of how good the company is on quick turnaround, the shipping time is essentially a crap shoot - or a multi-layered stochastic probability exercise to use the technical term.  It's very much a matter of when it hits the dock vs when the ship leaves the dock vs when and where the ship docks in Canada.
  • Brits have figured out that small is good - I typically get a small box or bubble envelope that fits easily in my mail box.  Getting hit with duty and sales tax is rare, almost unheard of.
  • Ordering books from overseas is just not worth it.  The cost and time involved are huge - much better to get the PDF or E-book.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

We Are Not Worthy - Gaze On in Wonder

There are certain wargamer blogs that do this that leave me speechless, and one is Stuart Milligan's Army Royal.  Stuart has been working on Henry VIII's campaign in Northern France in 1513.  He uses many of the same figures as I use for my Italian Wars figures but painted, converted and sculpted to an extremely high level.

The link leads to a recent battle report using Stuart's collection, Simon's collection from Je Lay Empires, the Perrys and other major league painters.  Just go and get lost for a while.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

More Shameless Pimping In Hopes of Free Swag

Jonathon over at Palouse Wargaming Journal had been entertaining the blogosphere for 5 years and is having a prize draw.  Go checkout his blog, lots of good stuff.  Plus he games a lot of periods that I am interested in, including some I've just never got around to.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

AAR Teaser - Early Photos from Italian Wars Game

This Friday Curt and I ran an Italian Wars game.  Rumour ha it that a full AAR will appear over at Curt's blog.  Curt is like Matthew Brady and likes to reposition the dead to get the best post battle photographs, and kept my units hostage to achieve this aim after the action was over.

The action featured a sally during a siege.  The besiegers had finished an artillery position and had a Great gonne ready to start shooting.  The defenders undertook a night march destroy the position before the attacker's reinforcements could show up.

I took some photos during the action and I figured I get these posted before the Ministry of Truth erases them from public memory.  Curt and I provided all the figures.  His are the ones that look like they should be in the Uffizi, mine are the ones that look they have been given a DIY restoration by a well intentioned old lady.

Defenders advance on Curt's artillery emplacement.

Getting closer....

From ground level (and apparently on a slant)

Pikemen approach while the artillery men sleep.  Gun is a repurposed WFB plastic kit.

Defenders field French pike (in the works) and Italian mounted crossbows behind.  The besiegers arrive with Spanish swordsmen and dinettes.

Both sides had units arrive in drips and drabs but more are coming on table.  Gendarmes front and centre here, while the infantry face off in the works.

The crossbows have dismounted and work on deconstruction begins.

Some of the units making the sally got lost, being delayed and/or showing up at the wrong entry point.  In the background, Italian swordsmen showed up in the corner instead of  next to the field as intended.  Fortunately they rolled a good activation roll and advanced three moves.

The infantry slog was epic and went on several turns.  In the end both units were exhausted and eliminated simultaneously.

Cavalry melee upcoming.  Papal gendarmes in the foreground face French "archers" (medium cavalry) and Italian men-at -arms.  

Curt brings forth Swiss and Landschneckt pike from the besiegers' camp.

The juggernauts on the march!

End of the cavalry melee.  The Papal gendarmes forced the Archers back but were hit hard by the Italians and become shaken.  Curt's vintage first gen WFB castle in the background.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Action at the Schnellenbach Bridge

Drumpff gets his work detail going.

A quick recap on our story so far.

  • An allied British-German column has orders to blow the key bridge over the Schnellenbach.  A Hanoverian engineer and a group of  pontooniers have been beavering away but there is still work required to finish prepping the bridge.
  • Relations between the engineer Drumpff and the British CinC Campbell are very poor.  Drumpff's plan is to let part of the French column cross before blowing the bridge, but Campbell's having none of that.
  • Campbell's men have erected some barricades around the bridge.
  • The French have managed to get some light infantry across the river, but their main force will arrive on their own side of the river.
Terrain wise, we have the Schnellenbach running across the table and uncrossable on table except at the bridge.  There is a stone Inn, some walls and a few houses at the bridge, all on the eastern (allied) bank of the river.  The allied right flank is quite wooded on their side of the river.  There is a long low ridge on the western (french) board edge and a small hill on the allied left flank.  East of the river are a small farm and a patch of rough ground which lies along the river bank.

I gave each side two fixed deployment points following normal SP rules - both chose an exploring officer as supports hence the second DP.  The French could place one anywhere on their own board edge and the second along their left hand board edge on the far side of the river.   Only their two groups of light infantry plus an officer could use the second DP.  The Allies put one DP in the village by the bridge and the second halfway between the village and the woods on their right.

When you use the DP, no units appear on table until they get the right chit drawn enabling them to deploy.  Curt was originally against using the DPs and wanted just to deploy his units where he wanted to from the start.  I figured it fit the scenario well with the French possibly spread out from their approach marches and the allies needing time to form up.  Plus he's a bit of a control freak so I figured it does him good to get out of his hermetically sealed comfort zone from time to time.  As GM I quite liked the effect of using the DPs, and the fall of the chits seemed to favour the allies.

 Figures are mine as are the buildings and bridge.  All other terrain is Curt's.  Photos are also mine, and I managed to not get a single shot of the main French force.
An overhead view of the bridge.

Keith's Highlanders man their barricades.  Behind the line are Campbell, his drummer and the physic Dr. Schubert.  One group of infantry are Royal Scots masquerading as highlanders - Curt insisted on a fourth group of them but I only have three.

Fischer's chasseurs appear in the woods on the right flank and the wrong side of the river, from the Allied perspective.

A mad padre rouses the local women to take up arms over the deprivations of Drumpff.

Phillips tried a charge with one squadron of his Light Dragoons against the Chassuers.  They were repulsed quite handily.    Micro dice track shock and the round marker indicates the Allied DP on their right.  This was unfortunately the highlight of the day for the French.
A badly lit photo of the Allied line to the right of the bridge.  Highlanders, a Hessian gun crew and two groups of Jaegers.  Jaeger fire was very effective, especially against the French leaders.

A view from the French position.  Note the Inn keeper and staff taking shelter behind the Jaegers.

The French deploy a group of Voluntaries de L'Armee in the woods.  Note the strategic chip bowl in the background.  Having failed with the sword, Phillipson resorts to skirmishing with mounted carbine fire with much better results.  I don't what to think about the impact on British cavalry doctrine.

The denouement of the action.  Work complete, the work crew and Drumpff scurry over the barricades.  Drumpff is shot by Campbell but only wounded.  He therefore takes out his claymore to finish the job while everyone else turns their back so as to not see what happens.  

This leaves us with the main French force - five line infantry groups, a gun and a group of Hussards.  I have a grand total of no shots of their fate, an epic fail.  I suspect that this is due to their line infantry being made up of my old Rafm figures painted 15 years ago for Louisbourg and I wanted to focus on the newer troops painted last winter in the Painting Challenge.  I'll get some new French line infantry and work on these for the next challenge so that there are shiny toys on both sides.

And what became of the French assault on the bridge?

  • The formation of line troops came on pretty earlier and advanced on the Allies.   The gun crew and Hussards followed in good order, but then the play of the chits ran against the French.
  • I did Stacy a number of disservices rules wise, and should have caught a problem with his deployment of the line troops.  These came on three groups wide and two groups deep.  Historically they should have come on in a line, which would have also put more muskets in the firing line.
  • Good firing from the Jaegers and Hessian gun racked up shock on the groups and Stacy had a hard time removing it.  A large part of the problem came from accurate Jaeger fire who wounded two of the three leaders with the group, putting them out of action for a turn and then dropping his total command points from five to three.  
  • Stacy returned fire with both the line and the gun crew and got some results, but the skirmish formation and walls made it an unequal battle.  The French gun did manage to force their opposite number to retire - we may need to review the effectiveness of counter battery fire.
  • We realized afterwards that Stacy misread the impact of shock on movement, and he thought that the amount of shock on the formation prevented forward movement.  At worst he would have been down 2" off a d6 or 2d6 roll, which meant he could have moved forward.
  • I completely forgot to remind Stacy that he had a holyman who could remove up to a d6 shock once per game.  My bad!
By the time that Drumpff (finally) had the bridge set to blow, the French force morale had been whittled down considerably largely due to seeing several leaders get wounded.  He retired and with Drumpff out of the way, Campbell lit the fuse to blow the bridge.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Schnellenbach Campaign Movements Pt II

When Campbell trudges into the Inn at the Schnellenbach, he finds that Drumpff has made good use of his fine horse and preceded him by several hours.  Drumpff took the best room at the Inn and the company of a couple of local working girls.  He has left instructions (and a lot of gold) with the Innkeeper that his is not to be disturbed unless "the Inn is on fire and the gunpowder is likely to blow".  Fred the Innkeeper has had a lean war and Drumpff has lots of coin so he was not likely to give up this potential goldmine.  Dr.  Schubert noted that there were worse ways for him to interact with the locals and suggested Campbell let him be.

Fred also has a note from Drumpff.

Great day laddie!  I had a look at the bridge and it’s a well-made structure but I can rig it to come down.  Best case is that I have it ready for noon tomorrow but end the day is more likely.  Please keep those Froggies off my back until sundown tomorrow then we can play out the great scheme on the day after.

Over in the French camp things were progressing more sedately.  FitzJames had become quite smitten with Mlle Marbot, but it looked to be a long siege.  First parallels had been dug and probing attacks made of the revetments.  However the defence showed their mettle through accurate counter battery fire and the occasional sortie.   
Situation at the end of the first day.

Situation at midday on the second day of the campaign
In the French camp, it was decided that they would use their pontoons as canoes and trip and ferry some light troops across the Schnellenbach.  The  exploring officer "Pathfinder" Fremont would lead the force off road, hopefully reducing the likelihood of delay.  The allies kept their cavalry close at hand and sent their exploring officer ("Pathfinder" Freiburg) off to keep an eye on the French.  Freiburg had a swing and a miss, so the French had much better intel from their cavalry scouts.  Meanwhile he had his highlanders grumbling as they assembled barricades at the bridge and Drumpff had his pontooniers had at work getting the bridge ready to blow.  Drumpff reports Campbell this is one heck of a solidly made bridge I can tell you that for sure!   But don’t you worry laddie we’ll get her ready to blow by the end of the day.

Campbell had also worked on getting friendly with Drumpff's hard worked pontooniers with a plan in mind once the bridge was set to go....

Situation at the end of the second day.  Fremont was winning the battle of the pathfinders having first found a crossing point and then guided the French force to it without delay - consistently rolling Vegas.  In fact his rolls were so good I ruled that the French could get their two groups of light infantry across the river by nightfall.  Meanwhile the Allies Freiburg had another swing and a miss looking for the French although cavalry patrols (not marked on the map because I initially missed Curt's instructions for this - my bad!) found Frenchmen on both banks of the Schnellenbach.

At the bridge, Drumpff had worked hard but the bridge was not quite set to go - the job was legitimately much tougher that he originally indicated .  Campbell had also worked hard getting into the pontooniers' good books and building more barricades.

So for the morning of July 23rd, we had the following situation.

  • Work on rigging the bridge to blow was almost finished but not quite.
  • Campbell had built barricades on the east (Allied) bank of the river.
  • The French were moving to attack the bridge with most of their force on the west (French) bank but some light infantry on the east (Allied) bank.

So we ended up with an assault on a defended bridge with equal numbers, a situation I was hoping to avoid.  Curt felt that letting the French get across the river was a bit gamey, but so be it.   I couldn't see the French having a chance in hell without the flanking force.  Plus the campaign balance was dependent on Drumpff causing problems, but that balance went as I had to take Drumpff out of the mix to keep him alive to blow the bridge!  I figure if players game the scenario then the scenario gets to game the players  back.