Sunday, 18 November 2018

Secure the Bridge

I managed to get in a small game with all of my painted Spanish Succession units today. Just two infantry and two cavalry units a side, I figured a race to secure a bridge might be a good scenario to play out.
Height of the battle
 The background to games is always important to me, and I like to have a narrative behind the fighting. In this case the Allies are racing north to secure a bridge over the river. The crossing is guarded by a unit of Dragoons, and the Bourbon forces are a step behind the Allies, who snuck out of camp at night.

Bourbon (all Spanish)
Mahoney Dragoons
Granada Nuevo Cavalry
Seville 'Old Purples'
Burgos 'Old Blues'

Zinzendorf Dragoons (Spanish)
Killigrew's Dragoons (English)
Rivers' Foot (English)
St. Amant (Dutch)
Spanish Mahoney Dragoons deploy next to the bridge, while the Allied Zinzendorf arrive on the left of the picture.
 The Spanish decided to cross the bridge and delay the enemy on the far side of the river. (the option was a 50/50 call on a % dice throw). It proved to be an inspired choice.
The Mahoney Dragoons cross the bridge.
 The Allies got reserves on a roll of 3+ in the first turn. The Spanish on a 6. Every turn the number decreased, but if the road was blocked, then the reserves would have to wait until the following turn. Friction would not be the Allied friend in this game.
The British Dragoons arrive, but at the same time as the Granada Nuevo Regiment, just visible in the top left corner.

As the Mahoney dragoons leave the bridge in march column the Zinzendorf dragoons form up, prepared to charge.

But the Spanish get the first move in the next turn, and the dragoons form up just in time to repulse the Allied charge.

Granada Nuevo start to cross the bridge, with the infantry bringing up the rear.

Rivers' regiment of foot starts coming through the woods as the Granada Nuevo arrive. The Mahoney dragoons reform to lose their disordered status.

The Old Purples are crossing the bridge as the Bourbon horse form up. The Zinzendorf dragoons repulse a charge from the Mahoney Dragoons.

Between them the Spanish cavalry units force back the Allied cavalry - the Zinzendorf dragoons breaking and routing.

But the Allies move forward, Killigrew's Dragoons charging into the Mahoney boys and sending them reeling back. Rivers' regiment gets a volley away into the Granada Horse.

The Old Blues make it over the bridge as the Old Purples let loose a volley at the British infantry. Killigrew keeps the pressure up on his opposites.

And the final charge proves too much. The Mahoney dragoons break.

Meanwhile The Granada horse chances its arm and exposes its rear to the St Amant regiment in preparation to flank Rivers' regiment. It is a gamble that pays off.

The Old Blues deploy as Killigrew reforms to face them. The Old Purples and English infantry exchange volleys.

Forced back, Rivers' Regiment is on the verge of breaking.

The Granada horse have taken some flak from the Dutch but are still strong enough to charge the disordered English infantry and deliver the coup de grace.

At the end of the battle Killigrew was lining up a charge against the rear of the Old Purples, but with 2 units lost to 1, the Allies are broken.

The end of the battle from another angle showing all of the remaining combatants.
The game was turned by the actions of the Mahoney dragoons crossing the bridge and taking the battle to Allied side. The woods created a bottleneck that made it incredibly difficult for the Allies to deploy. The Allies also struggled with some poor early command rolls that meant that they could only move half their units at a time. Although they were the only Spanish unit routed, the dragoons did the business, and on a day when O'Mahony paid a blinder for Ireland against the All-Blacks, it is fitting that his namesake lead the most important of the Spanish units in this victory.

The rules held up surprisingly well, There are a couple of little tweaks I need to add - it wasn't written anywhere that march columns count as in 'disorder' and as 'enfiladed' if charged or shot at, so I'll change that, as it was always the intention. The use of percentage dice mean that very unit has a chance to do the business, as when the Zinzendorf dragoons managed one last rally to beat off their opposites before the inevitable.

Oddly, throughout the battle I suffered from 'Raglan syndrome'. I kept referring in my head to the Bourbon troops as the French! The reason, in my case, is probably because there were Spaniards on both sides, and not flashbacks to a past life when I lost an arm fighting the Frenchies... probably...


Friday, 2 November 2018

Playing the game

The rest of the figures for the Great War turned up today, and I quickly put them into units and started playing a game.
A British unit advancing on the German line
 The rules aren't written down. I'm making them up as I go. I start with a 10"move for infantry, firing is 24"long range and 12"short range. A 6 on a d6 will hit at long range, a 5 or 6 at short range. Firing at troops in cover is -1 to the die roll.

The table laid out. 4 units of British troops assault lines held by 2 and a half units of Germans 
 Troops can either move or fire. LMGs fire with 3d6.
Preparing to advance on the left flank.
 First problem - how much does difficult terrain reduce movement by? I figure a good way to deal with this is to randomise the movement. I choose to roll 2 average dice to determine movement through terrain. This means a result of between 4"and 10".
The centre units are taking casualties. The closest unit is protected by the terrain.
 After a couple of turns I come to the conclusion that all movement should be randomised. From now on every unit that moves will move 2dAv".

Units leaving dead behind.
 Units are starting to take casualties. Now I need to think about how they will react. I decide that every time a unit takes a casualty it must test to continue. If it fails it is pinned. As it has gone to ground it is -1 to hit, but it can't advance. It also treats all targets as long range and can only hit on 6s at both short range and in hand to hand. The test is rolled on a d10. The required score must equal or be lower than the number of men left in the unit. An officer adds an extra +1 to the unit total.
The test is taken immediately after the firing phase of the enemy. At the beginning of the unit's own turn it may test again to try to unpin.
Less than 50% of the unit makes it past the barbed wire. Time for an assault?

The assault on the right is making some headway.
 Now time to think about assaults. I decide that a d6 is rolled for every figure involved, including officers (they can't shoot). The attacker rolls first. Any hits remove an enemy. Once the attacker's have had their turn and enemy casualties are removed, the opponent can fight back with whatever they have left. The side with the fewest men left must test morale. If they fail, they break and run.
The centre has turned into a bloodbath - too many German troops in defence is the prognosis!
 Running is 2dAv, like movement.
On the right the Allies break into the German trenches after their successful assault.
 On the British left a unit is pinned, unable to rally and then fails a second test from being shot again. The result is to run away.
British left in retreat
 Troops will be able to rally if they can pass a morale test, otherwise they will keep going 2dAv every turn until off the table.
The pity of war...
And that is it. The core of the rules work well. Barbed wire will get some special rules. I'll look  at preliminary bombardments that may pin the enemy and remove entanglements. The other thought I had was to allow troops to fire at long range at troops in cover, but they can only force a morale test on the enemy with a 6, not cause casualties. Then there will be some point in fire and movement tactics.

Time to start thinking about writing these up.


Thursday, 1 November 2018

Something shiny this way comes

A few months back I mentioned my fondness for glossy toy soldiers, and my plan to gloss varnish the French-Indian Wars project to try and scratch that particular itch. But the problem with modern figures like those from North Star and Crusader is that the detail screams out for at least some shading, and as such, they do not give a 'true' toy soldier aesthetic, where solid colours abound. I've been following Howard Whitehouse's A Gentlemen's War facebook page, which is dedicated to his AGW rules, but a big part of what happens there is playing with toy soldiers painted to look like such - many of the being from the Irregular Miniatures 42mm ranges.

The thought of investing heavily in 42mm armies is tempting, but beyond my means. And then I thought about it. Which period of history do I love, but have no armies for? Why, the Great War of course! And it just so happens that there are 54mm toy soldiers available for this conflict in the form of the Armies in Plastic range. I have had 10 of these figures floating around for about 13 years now, picked up at the Waiouru Army Museum. So I got out the paintbrush.
First up, the Germans in Stahlhelm.
And from the rear

British infantry led by a plucky officer with a whistle and revolver!
The armies clash!
I'm quite taken with the finished product, and have ordered a couple of boxes from the nice chaps at Regal Toy Soldiers, which will give me another 40 figures for each side. I was tempted to go early war with pickelhauben and soft caps, but then thought that later down the line I might look at a late 19th century imagi-nation version of 54mm fun, and then the picklehauben will indeed be prolific!

Now of course these chaps will need rules to play with, and I'm thinking the simpler the better. I have some ideas in mind, and we'll see where they lead.

In terms of expansion, Emhar make 1/35 artillery and tanks for the Great War. But the conundrum lies with Heavy Machine Guns. Aside from some Britains or King and Country models, most of which are out of production and worth a fortune to buy, I've been unable to find anything for the British. For the Germans the best I could find is to get some second hand Del Prado figures and do some head swaps, but even then, with postage I'll be looking at $50 NZD.
I'm just going to have to make do without HMGs in the meantime, keeping an eye out for second hand deals.


Monday, 22 October 2018

Some progress

Since the last post my paint brush has been busily working through a few things. First and foremost is another 2 regiments for the Spanish War of Succession project.

The Viejos Murados - the Old Purples. the Sevilla Tercio.

From the other angle with a closer shot of the grenadiers.

The Dutch Regiment St.Amant - a marine regiment that served in Spain for the duration of the war.

And another angle.
Rivers' regiment is not too far off finished so I'll put that up when it's all done.

I completed the Ultramarine Kill Team. Painted up in mid-90s style - ain't no school like the old school! Adam's been keen to get a game in but the weekend has been far too busy, as we've taken advantage of the weather to do some tidying up in the yard.
A bit bunched
A better view of some of the hidden chaps from above.
I also finished off Geoff's last figures.

I felt a little sad as I painted these kids. It just reminded me of how desperate things must have felt in Germany in 1945, and the price that was paid. Some of those kids might have been distant relatives.

Which leads nicely into my updated DNA Ancestry results. The previous results had 40% English, 20% Irish, and no German. The latest update (the more people that take the test, the more markers are available and the more accurate the test becomes) sees my ancestry shift a little to match what I know of my family tree. The Scandanavian probably comes in with my Eastern English ancestry - lots of Vikings hanging out in those parts, and the Eastern European probably adds to the German as part of my Prussian heritage. but I am quite surprised at the degree of Irish in there.  20% seemed to tally with my knowledge of the family tree, so further research is needed. Gone are the small Spanish, Jewish and Caucasus percentages. Just lots more Irish. I look forward to seeing how it shifts again in the future.

Right, time to go and grab some Guinness I guess. Will it improve my painting?


Monday, 8 October 2018

I'm still around, just thinking about going Old School

But not posting much, obviously. Things were fairly hectic in the past month, and if the hobby time is a choice between painting and blogging, painting wins I'm afraid.

In the meantime, I've been looking at the cabinets and making decisions about what I really want to do from here on in. The result is a decision to try and concentrate on just a couple of key projects. The first is Ancients, and in particular, the Roman Civil Wars. This is to be in 28mm, using Warlord plastics and the Clash of Empires rules. I've looked at Warhammer Ancient Battles and War and Conquest as well, but CoE is the ruleset that appeals the most. I've already got 2 armies worth of Romans, although there needs to be much gluing of the plastic before they get anywhere.

The second, more immediate, decision is to expand the Spanish War of Succession project from a skirmish game using Pikeman's Lament into a full blown army game. I've been inspired by Old School Gaming and reading through some of Charles Grant's Tabletop Teasers using his imagi-nations. Now I'll never end up building 48 figure battalions, but I am going bigger than I normally would with 20 figures to a battalion. 8 figures to a cavalry unit, which follows the organisations laid down in the ruleset Honours of War. I'm not necessarily going to use those rules, I have a plan to write my own Featherstone style set, but I do like the visual result of battles that use them.

I tossed up whether to go completely Imagi-Nation, naming fictional regiments etc., but when it comes down to it, I really enjoy the research that goes on around historical armies. And given the paucity of info on the Spanish campaign in the War of Succession, there is a quite a bit of imagination needed anyway. So I've set a plan in place to build two sides reflective of forces in the Peninsular 1706-8. I've kept the Spanish in Tercios with their coats of many colours before the big chnage to white in 1707, but the Allies have some Imperial troops in their OOB that didn't show up until 1708. Both forces will have imaginary commanders in an imaginary campaign in an imaginary province which borders the Pyrenees. I've finished the first unit, the Spanish Valencia Tercio already.
The full 20 figure regiment

Close up of the command with hand painted flags. Information on the standards is quite sparse, and often conjectural, so I just did one 'King's Colour' in white and a Colonel's Colour' in the colour of the coats.

Green stuff was used to put the fur on the grenadier caps.
The planned armies are:
The Two Crowns
Spanish - Tercios Sevilla, Valencia, Murcia and Spanish Guard. Mahony Dragoons, Poco Blaco Horse and Granaderos a Cabello.
French - Orleans, Royal des Vaisseux, La Couronne and Berwick Regiments. Tessé Dragoons, La Reine and Berry Horse.
The Grand Alliance
British - Foot Guards, Rivers' Foot, Royal Dragoons and Killigrew's Dragoons.
Dutch - St Amant Regiment, Drimborn's Horse
Palatine - Leibregiment zu Fuss and Frankenberg's Horse
Imperial - Stahremberg and Osnabruck regiments, Jorger Dragoons
Spanish - Catalonian Guard and Zinzendorf Dragoons

Yes, there are Spanish on both sides. The result will be some extremely multicoloured armies.

I've also been doing some painting for others, in particular Geoff. Here's the latest:
Border Reivers
And he can't get enough zombies!
I've played a DBA game where the Athenians defeated the Spartans, although I haven't had time to write it up. I also had a game of Songs of Broken Legions with Adam, where he took the Romans and crushed the Celtic warband. I need to go back and rework the stats for the poor old barbarians...

And finally, something I thought you'd never see on this blog.
Pure yellow trimmings - we don't do any of that brass rubbish around here!

I've tried to add some battle damage, so he isn't too shiny
I gave up on Games Workshop a long time ago as their prices went ridiculous and the rules alienated me. Kill-team has got me interested, and Dan made me a Kill Team and sent it to me all the way from Australia. It's going to be 90s style Ultramarines (the last time a played the game and enjoyed it). Adam is very keen on playing, so why not?

Next up I have some Hitler Youth for Geoff to do tonight, a British 6 pounder and crew for Craig, and a bit more work on my Ultras. Tomorrow my first Army Box of Warlord Marlborough's Army should show up, so assembly will be the priority.