Friday, September 21, 2018

Volontaires de l'armée Completed

It continues to be a bit of a slow slog on the painting desk, but there is progress and I finally got these guys finished this week.  Hopefully, life will return to the normal level of chaos and I can get some more painting time in over the next month.

In my earlier post I described how Volontaires de l'Armee were ad hoc units formed on campaign from regular infantry regiments and used as light infantry.  More details on these units can be at Kronoskaf.  I've used Front Rank French Regulars from their FIW range, as I think the stripped down uniform works well for these units, plus it gives them a distinctive look compared to formed battalions.  These guys have taken off their coats, showing their sleeved waistcoats.  Some hats have been replaced with forage caps or bandages, and they have added a hatchet to their kit. 

I quite like these FR figures, and there's a lot more variety of poses in their FIW range compared to the SYW range.  They painted up nicely and I'm pretty happy with the results. They will do well for Kliene Krieg actions with Sharp Pracice or larger actions using BP/HoW.  Now I just need to find those skirmish sabots I got from Warbases earlier this year...I know I put them away carefully.

Friday, September 7, 2018

On the Workbench Volontaires de l'armée

Having let the blog go dormant for waaaaay too long earlier this year I will be trying to keep up with it better this fall.  It's been two weeks since my last post, so figured I'd better get back with it.

I had hoped to go with these lads once they were finished, but real life kind of got in my way.  There fore I'll go with what's currently on the workbench.  This is a mostly finished unit of Volontaires de l'armée, French Light Infantry for my Seven Years War project.

The French army of the period formed a lot of irregular light infantry units, like the Chasseurs de Fischer, some being very god and others not so much.  They also formed ad-hoc groups of Voluntaires to perform similar tasks, the units being formed by detachments of soldiers "volontaired" from parent regiments.  The officers certainly did volunteer for these units as they gave ambitious young men lacking social standing a chance to shine, I suspect they just hand picked the men from their own companies.  Typically the ad hoc units were named after the commanding officer.  later in the SYW, several regiments formed more permanent chasseur companies to perform similar roles, which would eventually lead to the Voltigeur companies familiar to Napoleonic gamers.

I've painted this lot of 18 as members of the Orleans regiment, although they could be from any one of several regiments with the identical regimentals.  The figures are Front Rank from their FIW range, and are depicted in campaign dress.  They have removed their coats and operated in sleeved red waistcoats and have modified their kit to suit an independent role.  I figure that they will do very well as a unit of light infantry on table.

Still to be finished are touch ups and details on the face and hands, adding brass buttons and basework.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Pooltime Ponderings on Recent Italian Wars Game

It being summer I get my my regular exercise swimming laps in my local outdoor public pool.  I show up when it opens at 8am with a bunch of older and grumpier old farts and then head off to what ever office I'm haunting for the rest of the day.  This morning while getting my cardio in under clear blue Prairie skies I did some pondering about the recent game that I GM'd.  There were two problems encountered - slow deployment times and too much disruption - under the Pike and Shotte/Black Powder/Hail Caesar system.  Here's what my oxygen starved brain came up with.

Slow Deployment From Column of March
The issue here is that for the scenario I wanted to have the attacked deal with the issue of entering on in column of match and deploying on the go.  But with basic P&S movement rates this becomes a slow process, especially when the columns have to deploy. 

In this particular scenario had I let the attackers come on deployed they likely would have rolled over the defenders.  I also have issues with too perfect deployments when historically sub commands showed up early, late or in the wrong place on occasion. So incorporating some ideas filched from Sam Mustafa's Blucher rules, here's how I would approach this scenario next time under P&S/BP/HC.

I'll use this map as a reference.

  1. The attacker puts his units into divisions and gives an order of march for  the units within divisions and for the divisions themselves.
  2.  The defender plots his deployment up to line X on the map, keeping units in cover or dead ground (including everything behind line Z)  off board.
  3. The attacker then gives orders to each of his divisions subject to the restrictions of his deployment move below.  So given Curt's order of march we might have something like.  "The cavalry division advances and deploys on the front slope of the hill facing X on the map.  The main body deploys and advances to a position just north of the woods in the pass.  The rear division advances onto the northern hill and then deploys."
  4. The attacker then moves his divisions on one by one according to his order of march.  They get a special deployment move equal to X plus the number of moves indicated by a command roll.  So for this action I might make X=2 and then each division would have between 2-5 moves to make based on their command roll.  To avoid getting too cheesy I'd restrict these so that they couldn't close to withing musket range (16") of the enemy, so that the defender has a bit of a chance to react as they come on.
  5. Each deployment move would be a regular infantry move (8" for our P&S games).  Each column would enter in column of march and need to deploy, this taking one move to deploy a whole division.  Cavalry would be moving at a walk, but an all cavalry division could make a free deployment.
  6. The orders should note when deployment takes place.  Given the sample orders above a bad roll (i.e. 2 moves) would see the centre division deploy then move 8" on table.  On the same result the rear division would move two moves (16") without deploying.
  7. Blunders on a deployment could see a division be delayed, too far left or right or too far ahead depending on the result.
  8. The defender gets to go next and for each division can elect to either have one move without a command roll, or take their chances on a command roll.  This allows them to reposition as the enemy advances and possibly get some shooting in.
The same thing could be used with reinforcements arriving from off table, where the entry point is some distance away from the enemy.-

Too Many Disorders
Under the P&S/BP/HC any natural 6s on shooting cause a disorder, preventing the target unit from doing anything in their next move.  This seems to cause the attacker's a undue hardship in the recent game - Stacey rolled many 6s leaving the attackers effectively pinned in a fire zone at times.  I am thinking of letting the target unit taking an immediate save roll against disorder once all the shooting on the unit is completed.  This lets better troops more likely to shrug off disorder while inferior troops will be more likely to be disordered.  I think that there may be two exceptions when no save roll is permitted.  First, any units charging into contact are auto-disorder by fire.  Second, any unit taking two or more disorder results in shooting are also auto disordered.

Any that's what my brain came up to this morning, we'll see what a night's sleep does with these ideas.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Pike and Shotte Game - Pass Clearance

This Friday I GM'd an Italian Wars game at Curt's using Pike and Shotte.  Curt's Imperialists were tasked with clearing a pass defended by my Italian forces.  The Scenario was "Pass Clearance" from CS Grant's "Programmed War-games Scenarios".  Followers of Curt's AHPC blog will recognize many of the units from the past 3 challenges.  Curt and Jeremy took the attackers and Stacy the defenders, although he offered me the command of his reserve which I gladly took.

The defender's map - 16th century mapping skills being what they were, the actually terrain was somewhat different.  The attackers enter on the left, the defenders deploy on the centre and right sections.  The right hand section is dead ground until the attackers enter the middle section.

In the end the game was a bit of a disappointment, due to a combination of bad dice rolling and poor GMing on my part.   However it made good eye candy.

Defenders in the middle of the pass.  We used all of Curt's hills but could have used more. 

Defenders from the other flank.  The units placed in front of the village are occupying the buildings.

Curt's lead battalia of Cavalry enters.

Close up of Curt's superbly painted and based Gendarmes complete with mutts!

Stradiots make a charge of Italian men at arms.

And get repulsed.  Worth a gamble as it would have saved time.

The man in deep thought.  Cavalry splitting off to the flanks while the first pike block enters.

The hosts move forward.  Curt's pike block's are particularly impressive.  The red exclamation marks disorder caused by shooting, more on this later!

I'll own up to the first game issue.  I like the Table Top Teaser games especially when they include pre contact manoeuvre and wanted to get this on table so had the attackers enter in column of units from the board edge.  With the P&S command rolls movement is variable.  Curt and Jeremy managed a lot of "one move only rolls" which meant the pike columns plodded forward 6" per turn making for a loooong approach march.  Given the inflexible nature of these armies it would have been better to let them deploy on table or at least enter deployed.  But a couple of good rolls would have had the pike behemoths on top of the defenders and a very quick attacker victory.  In the end I'll chalk this up to a mix of rules quirks, bad dice and GM incompetence.

The lead Swiss pike block approaches the Italian MAAs, while the Italian reserve hustles up from the rear (I did get a 3 move roll!).  Note the blood chits marking shooting casualties which mounted quickly.
Shooting and especially disorder caused by shooting was another source of table top friction.  My Italian army is very shot heavy and their close fighting infantry is easy pickings for Swiss pikes.  Stacey had very,very good dice rolls consistently getting one or more hits plus disorder on two dice (in P&S 4+ causes a hit, 6 causes disorder).  With the slow approach slog and good shooting rolls, the casualties mounted quickly.  Worse still the disorder results stopped units in their tracks and prevent movement for a whole turn making the approach march even slower and giving the defenders more shots!  This was particularly a problem when the head of the column took the disorder.

It's finally coming up to a decision point.  The Swiss are about to steamroller the MAA while the other pikes deploy.  Note the disorder on the Gendarmes in front - this was rallied off at the end of every attacker turn only to come back when the defender's shot again!

Game end.  The Swiss vaporized the pole armed MAAs but took enough casualties to become shaken and then were charged by pikes.  The Swiss broke and Curt declared the game over!

Once the Swiss were gone, Curt had enough and called it a night.   It had been frustrating for him given the slow approach and the shooting results, but I think he quit too early.  He had several large pike blocks in excellent shape and the defenders were looking thin on the ground,  Their pole arms were gone, their pikes were worn down and they had nothing to stand up to Swiss and Lanschenkt pike blocks.

Scenario design wise there is an imbalance between our two armies that I'm struggling with.  Curt's is very strong in melee infantry - as it should be.  Mine is weak in melee infantry and strong in missile troops - as it should be.  When we fight a set piece, Curt rolls over my infantry line PDQ.  When we fight a manoeuvre battle, the shooting does Curt in before he gets to grips with my army.

For this scenario I should have let Curt deploy his first battalia on table and have the remaining battalias deployed behind them.   And if he ever let's me run a smilier Grant scenario again that's what I'll do.   Otherwise we'll do a set piece battle next time.  He'll steamroller me in 3 turns and then we can hit the Chianti big time!  It'll be great.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Travel Reading Pt 2

I picked this up in Waterstone's in Chichester.  It's a mark of how busy our trip was that we were in the UK for 18 days before setting foot in a bookshop!  Excellent stuff and tons of source material for gaming.  Grab your cup of mead and get ready for an adventure.

The cast of characters is truly epic.  Saints galore - Columba, Wilfrid, Cuthbert and plus Oswald himself.  Panda of Mercia and Sutton Hoo man himself also appear on the pages, and the Venerable Bede is a key source.  We're talking wild and wooly stories in the gray area between history and myth, the ear that inspired Tolkien.

There's source material for a fantasy series, an epic RPG campaign,  or wargaming on multiple scale -  Dux Brittarium, SAGA, Hail Caesar or old school WRG.  Speaking of WRG, if your recall Phil Barker's throw away comments in many of the dark age army lists - many of these occur in this story.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Travel Reading Pt 1

I picked this up at the Canterbury Cathedral shop.  Excellent read and food for thought with lots of gaming possibilities.  Ok knights hacking down un armed clergy doesn't make a great war-game, but the back story sure has possibilities!

The cast of characters is larger than life St Thomas, Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine.  It really calls out for Hollywood epics staring Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn (oh wait, they did that).  The author gives really good coverage of the 12th century - the reign of Henry I, the tragedy of the White Ship, the civil wars of Stephen and Matilda and then the Angevin empire.  The Cliff Notes histories focus on Becket the Archbishop and Martyr but he was much more before that.  Plus there's lots of potential for medieval warfare on both small and large scales.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Back From the UK and Back on The Blog

Gallo The Chicken Headed Man mosaic from Brading Villa

I hadn't realized until this morning but I'd been silent on the blogosphere since the end of April.  It's been a busy summer but in a good way.  Ive been traveling a lot - Halifax NS, Portland OR, Toronto and then the UK- and am looking forward to a few weeks at home before the start of the fall semester.

Our most recent travels were to the UK for three weeks.  We joke about this trip being the world's most expensive cheap beach vacation.  Every year my dad, step mother and step siblings plus kids and hangers on spend a week in caravans at the Isle of Wight in August - an inexpensive week away for a Briton.  But throw in three transatlantic flights at high season, a stay in London (because if we're going to the UK...), meals out and a rental car - ouch!  My wife, daughter and I used to go every second year but it had been 8 years since the last trip - looking at the credit card statements and I know why!

The trip was family centred so little of gaming note to report.  I think about trying to link up with British blogging/gaming contacts but didn't get my act in gear this year.  Highlights of the trip include.

  • Surviving the Trump protests in London.  We didn't see the Baby Blimp 😂but crossed Regent Street just in front of the crowds.  This was a particularly hot day in the City and the crowds plus Trump 'copter made it hotter.  Fortunately we found a friendly pub for lunch and a very nice Italian place before the theatre that night.
  • The Monet exhibit at the National Gallery - plus other cool stuff like Canalettos and the like.
  • Really, really good theatre.  The Book of Mormon in the West End - very funny, very off colour, done by the Southwark creators.  A play about English Quakers in the Georgian age at the Chichester Festival.  
  • Best theatre of all - Sir Ian (Gandalf) McKellan in King Lear in the West End.  Amazing stuff!  This was our last night in the UK before flying out - really nice dinner, great play then back to the restaurant for desert.  Best way to end off a trip.
  • A trip to Margate to visit my sister in law.  The train trip was really interesting taking us past the Medway, Chatham and Rochester Castle (which fell to the French in King John's day - stuff you don't often read in British history books).  Plus an ex-Soviet submarine in the Medway - yes I googled it it's ex-Soviet!  WTF?
  • Really really good food (yes in the UK!).  Best of all was the allergy knowledge and labelling.  I am coeliac and my wife has a dairy allergy so this was key.  We went three weeks without a food reaction and ate damn well the whole time.  Well done to the EU for proper food awareness.
  • Swimming in the ocean.  Three swims in the North Sea in Margate's retro tidal pool and three on the beaches on the Isle of Wight.  I did think about swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park - the facilities looked really good, but it opened late and there were too may waterfowl sharing the waters for my tastes.
  • A visit to Canterbury Cathedral - a first for both Lynne and I.  We didn't get to see the alter where Beckett was hacked down because they were using it for Convocations that week.  But the sound of the brass quartet and choir echoing through the Cathedral was wonderful.  Plus Dad had warned us not to be too disappointed that Beckett's blood had been washed up since the 12th century!
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road!  This was the first time I'd rented a car east of the pond in nearly 30 years and the last time was to drive around Ireland.  No damage done to vehicle of family mental states!
  • A visit to Brading Roman Villa on the Isle.  Out of the way unless your on the Isle but well worth a visit.  Had me think about Dux Brittanarium, the Barbarian Conspiracy and ogling the MDF Roman villas available via Sarissa, War Wases etc.

Monday, April 30, 2018

AHPC Wrap Up

As part of the Challenge wrap up Curt asks us to post a group shot of everything completed.  Here's mine.

Ok I am very, very late in posting this.  I don't even have a good excuse like Paul, although many claim that I am at sea most of the time.  However, all my Uni exams are marked and recorded and it's all over but the crying so I finally got round to posting these photos that were taken a month ago.

Here's the group shot of most of what I did this winter - all of my SYW figures.  Touraine and Diesbach regiments on the left, Royal Welsh Fusiliers behind the musicians in the middle and Fischer's chasseurs to the right.  Missing are my 1;1200 planes which wouldn't show up well in this wide a shot (ok I forgot about them), and my Curtgeld which has been delivered in tribute.

I'd been in the modelling doldrums since mid-March as end of semester came on me.  However, lately I've been picking up the brush and glue.  Here I am with three pieces of terrain I put together last week - three very enjoyable evenings spent in from of the TV building Sarissa Productions kits.  There are two bridges (with three additional spans) and a windmill.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

WW2 Naval Game

A few weeks ago I ran a WW2 Naval Game at Curt's house for our local group.  It had been nearly 3 years since I did a naval game and 3 1/2 since my last WW2 Naval, so it was good to get the ships out.  It was a night encounter off the coast of Libya with 4 players and no-one knowing who the other parties were.

The Italians had a convoy with a close escort of 3 destroyers who entered at the northwest corner (between A and B) and had to exit via the southeast corner (between H and G).  They were slow and zig-zagging so took a long time to get anywhere.  There was also a long range escort of 3 cruisers plus 3 more destroyers who would enter later on the western board edge and who had lost touch with the convoy, but had the mission to provide escort.  There was also Fort Corleone near point A with shore batteries (battery Sonny and battery Fredo).

Stacy had HMS Manxman, a fast minelayer plus an escort of 2 destroyers would enter from the North East (H:I) with a mission to lay mines between B and D.  They also had a covering force of 2 cruisers and 2 destroyers.  The cover had not contacted the Manxman as yet but would enter between H and I and bombard the shore between E and F to provide a distraction.

Each side pre-plotted their moves in advance and sat in another room while I maneuvered the ships and provided sighting and/or radar info as needed.  It all worked well with the Minelaying force getting a radar fix on the convoy but ignoring it to get onto their own business.  The two british groups also correctly identified themselves early on.  The Italians also correctly ID'd themselves but it took longer.
Early on in the action, minelayer plus escort close in plus Curt's cover steaming for the snack bowl

As is common with night games things got hot and confusing once firing started.  Curt's british cover group opened up on the shore and took return fire from the shore batteries.  Sylvain's Italian escort met the British minelaying group, but shooting honours were even and Manxman laid a lot of eggs.  Once the firing got going, Curt ran west and opened up on Sylvain sinking two cruisers while taking damage on his flagship.  Meanwhile Jeremy's convoy tried to avoid the whole mess and was on the whole successful at this.

Same time, from the other end of the board.  The Italian convoy inches across table while Sylvain's cover enters.
Manxman plus escort meet Sylvain's cruisers.

Curt steams west to help Stacy out

Sylvain's lead ship and Jeremy's convoy with escorts steaming to provide cover
The Italians had more and bigger guns but the Brits had better shooting and radar - an Italian cruiser blows up.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Arygle Gargoyles

i am over a month late posting this, which appear on the AHPCVIII blog back when even my calendar said it was winter (before the Spring Equinox)

Well I had a gigantic challenge fade at the end and so there are several projects in various states of completion that will be finished afterwards.  Included in the mix is my Curtgeld, all done but the bases.  However IIRC, the Challenge rules state that I can leave the bases unfinished for Curt so that's where we'll leave things.

I am a historical gamer so I don't do monsters as a rule, but I picked up theses 28mm D&D plastic gargoyles from the local game shop and I reckon they'll do as Curtgeld.  I tried to do them to match the greyscale effects that Curt gets, which I figured would suit the gargoyles.

The challenge fade mostly had to do with the final 8 Royal Welsh Fusiliers which include two standard bearers and two musicians.  These gave me many headaches - false starts, dropped paint sticks, do overs the whole shooting match.  I've finally broken the back on them but they'll have to wait till after the challenge.  Also in the background is the start of a Hessian unit, which I began after much frustration on the Fusiliers.

As for the title, I know Curt is a fan of the Muppets and this is one of my favourite Muppet Shticks - Angus McGonagle the Argyle Gargoyle Gargling Gershwin!  With the Snowlord being a traitorous, murdering, scheming bastard who sold his country out for Dutch and German kings Campbell, it seemed appropriate.   Plus it includes Mark Hamill in an argyle sweater.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Diesbach Regiment Completed

Ok this will be my second take on this post.  I had a post all ready to go on Tuesday the 6th, but it disappeared into the ether while under final edit from my Minion.  Murphy's law of backups applied.  I typically copy the draft post over to my own blog before it goes live, but schedule it to appear 2 days later than my Challenge day.  But, oh course this week I figured that I could catch that up in the evening after Ray made it go live.....

 So I've got the remaining 16 members of the Diesbach Regiment from the Seven Years War, one of several Swiss regiments in the French army.  I didn't split out the new figures from the 8 I did earlier, so I've got the full battalion of 24.  Figures are mostly Crusader with some Front Rank thrown in.

The sergeant pointing is Front Rank figure.  His unpinned coat is more WAS than SYW, but he was too nice not to include.

The officer is another Front Rank figure, the rest Crusader.  One of the standard bearers was an NCO with half pike  but I trimmed off the pike and added a standard pole.  Flags were downloaded from the web and printed at home.  There was contradictory info on drummers, but I liked this livery and tried to add an impression of the Diesbach family crest on the drum barrel.

The grenadiers and their officer are Front Rank.  More contradictory info on the bags for the grenadier caps, which blue in a contemporary image and descriptions of red.  I tried both but liked the red better, not that you can see in this shot.

From the left flank.  I've added unit labels on the back of the bases complete with an image of a flag.  Once again the flags are a major attraction of this army.

Now you can see the red bags on the Grenadier caps.

I really like the Front Rank officer with his hat off.  He looks like he'd invite Messrs. les Anglais to tirez le premier.

Like the UK, Regina had a major dump of snow this week - 35-40cms from Sunday to Tuesday.  I took advantage of the heavy snow to ski to work on Tuesday.  I only get to do this rarely since it requires a heavy snow fall without the deep freeze. Most importantly I need to get out before people shovel the selves out as I skiing on the streets and sidewalks.

Finally, I thought I would share this rare footage of Ray following a hard days work at the Minion keyboard and totalling up terrain scores.

To make it easy on Ray's brain I'll do the heavy lifting for him.  That's 16 newly painted 28mm figures for a total of 80 points.

Friday, March 2, 2018

AHPC Royal Welsh Fuisliers for the SYW

Royal Welsh advance!

A slight change in direction from French SYW to their Anglo-Allied opponents.  I had planned to submit the last members of the Diesbach regiment, but these guys were closer to being ready so decided to focus on them to keep the ball rolling.  So we have 16 members of HM 23rd Foot, better known as the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  These are all Front Rank figures and mighty fine figures they are indeed, I just wish they did more variation in poses like the Perry's variations on a common theme.

The term Fusilier was used differently by various nations in the Black Powder era.  In the French army, a fusilier is a regular GI Jean while in the Prussian army and minor German states a fusilier regiment was a second rate infantry regiment later converted to a light infantry role.  But it the British Army it was used as a mark of distinction, originally used to denote the three regiments used to guard the artillery train.  Back in the matchlock era they were armed with flintlocks or fusils as waving lit slow match around loose powder was unsafe even by 17th century OHS standards.  The also got to wear spiffy fusilier caps instead of the bog standard tricorn.

The quality of British Infantry was iffy during the WAS and '45, with some good regiments and some poor freshly raised units.  But during the SYW, most of the units that saw action were first rate (except a couple sent off to New England early in the FIW).  And they made a mark for them selves in their first big battle on the Continent - Minden in 1759.  

To me Minden is the start of the thin red line.  Six British battalions (including the 23rd) and the Hanoverian foot guards plus some supporting artillery ended up advancing on the main French cavalry formation due to a misunderstanding.  It was a classic case of an "Unauthorised advance" or blunder roll.  A few battalions of redcoats facing the mass of the French cavalry - who charged them in 3 waves (kind of like Agincourt) and got shot down by close ranged musketry for their pains.  None of this namby pamby hide behind a ridge in square like their grand kids at Waterloo either.  This was advance in line with drums beating and flags flying proudly.  Stirring stuff.

I quite the officer with the fusil on the left and the sergeant on the right.

Oh yes and they did it with roses in their hair - the tradition has it that the redcoats picked wild roses from the hedgerows and put them in their hair before battle.  This is still commemorated in regimental Minden Days by the successor units to the regiments involved.  I tried to add autumn foliage to represent the roses but this turned into an epic fail.

Painting wise this was pretty much a standard 18th C paint by numbers job- scarlet coat, blue facings, white lace etc.  The Front Rank figures were very nice to paint, with the lace and belts standing out well.  The fusilier caps had a the Welsh trio of Ostrich feathers surrounded by golden branches - I applied a two foot standard to get a reasonable on table facsimile of this.  There are another 8 fusiliers to come but these include command figures which are a little more involved.

  So that is 16 28mm figures for a total of 80 points this week.