Saturday 31 January 2015

Where did January go?

I can't believe we are almost in the second month of the year! I went back to work 2 and a half weeks ago, but took the last Thursday and Friday of the holidays off to head back to the beach. This week saw the students back in at school and next week we'll be back into it like the holidays had never happened.
Despite January's unreasonable swiftness, progress has been made on a number of wargames fronts. For a start, I now have all the figures for my Great Northern War and Samurai projects, and the majority of the figures for the Great Paraguayan War. I thought I'd do a review of some of these figures.
Mounted Samurai from Outpost Wargames Services. Very nicely detailed with separate swords to be glued on.
Foot Samurai from the same range. I think that the raised detail will make the otherwise daunting Samurai armour much easier to paint.
Overall, I'm really impressed with the Outpost Wargame Services figures. Nicely detailed but not overly so. The plan is that the DBA Samurai will be next on the painting tray.

Russian dragoon in kartuz hat for the Great Northern War. The Irregular figures are good solid wargames figures with a minimum of detail but clear areas to paint. 
A Swedish Dragoon officer in karpus.
A Swedish infantryman. There is very little definition to the face - this will have to be hinted at with the brushwork. Given that I plan to paint these with black line as I did the Crimean War project, it should be simple enough to create an impressionistic face.
Swedish infantry officer. Again, everything is there that needs to be there.
A Swedish pikeman.
I'm quite pleased with the Irregular Miniatures figures for the Great Northern War. After painting up the Crimean War figures that I had which were minimal in detail but were clearly defined, I quite enjoyed the effect of the massed armies using the black-lining technique. I am looking at doing the same with this project, although as there is a variation of quite bright colours I may use two tones here and there. The figures were generally quite easy to clean up, but every now and then there was a howler which was more flash than figure. To my relief I found it very easy to clean, and once removed the figure was fine - none of that problem where the two halves of the mold haven't aligned and your figure looks like Two Face from Batman.

I sold off my Napoleonics - yes that is now 8 times I have bought a Napoleonic army/armies and sold them without painting them, but who is counting - and reinvested the money into Paraguayan figures from QRF's Freikorps 15 range. Having done that I was left contemplating the $200 dollars I'd have to find to put together the Brazilians. Then I remembered that Paul at our club had a whole pile of unpainted Freikorps ACW figures. I went around to visit him, prepared to exchange some 28mm WWII for some 15mm figures if they were suitable. Well, they most certainly were. Amongst the figures he had a pile of infantry in gum blanket:
ACW08 Hat, Gum blanket, marching
A photo of the infantry in gum blanket from the QRF website.
I took one look and shouted 'ponchos'! I mixed them in with other figures in slouch hats for 5 battalions worth of Brazilians and also constructed 3 battalions of kepi-wearing infantry, 4 regiments of cavalry and 4 guns. Now all I need are command figures, artillery crew and a unit of gauchos - about $40, which will be much easier to find. To top it all off Paul said that I didn't need to swap - I could have them! Best priced project ever! Are they perfectly accurate? No, but at 15mm the inaccuracies will pretty much disappear beneath the brightly coloured ponchos!

I finished my fortified camp and today added a chevaux de frise from Irregular miniatures. Hopefully I'll finish that off this weekend.
I'll be using this in just about every period.
On other fronts, I have joined the Continental Wars Society and ordered the CD of back issues of the Foreign Correspondent newsletter from 1 through to 69. As I make my way through them I am consistently inspired to want to try new periods - like the Portuguese Civil War or Garibaldi in Naples, or the Hungarian uprising. The price is incredibly cheap - it cost me the princely sum of 25 NZ pesos to join for a year and order the CD. The expensive part is the constant 'ohhh shiny' moments I am now having. If you have an interest in the area I thoroughly recommend you email Ralph Weaver and join!

Marvel have the rights to the Star Wars universe again, and a new Star Wars series is available. The first issue was really good, and I feel it is worth continuing with. In order to subscribe I had to find the monthly money from somewhere, so I have sacrificed my subscription to Miniature Wargames with Battlegames. I've been contemplating this for sometime as I haven't been finding this magazine of much interest. There is maybe one, or in a good month two articles that I am eager to read, but all too often I find myself skipping through to the end and thinking 'is that it?' I used to love Miniature Wargames because it was the kind of magazine that seemed aimed at the ordinary wargamer (and I always enjoyed Gary Mitchell's columns), and I loved Battlegames because it had some very thoughtful articles (Dan Mersey's DBA campaign system from issue 2 is still a real highlight). But since the merger it feels like it has lost what was special about both.  I'm a bit sad about this, because Henry is a genuinely nice bloke (not that I've met him, apart from on a few forums) and because I would like to support the wargames press. In the end though, choices have to be made with the cash available, so MWwBG has joined Wargames Illustrated in the group of discarded subscriptions. This just leaves Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy which is, without doubt, my favourite magazine and delivers just what I want. The only downside being that it only delivers every two months!

Speaking of hard choices, I've been faced with the decision of whether or not to put my hand up to help out with Peter Jackson's Gallipoli diorama. My first impression on hearing the news was one of excitement, but then I thought about it realistically. How could I commit to paint forty 54mm figures in two months? And the painting guides use GW or Tamiya - but I'm strictly Vallejo. I have painting commission work for Geoff and I have my endless array of projects to work through. Oh yes, and I work and have a family. So in the end I haven't volunteered. I'm sure they will get plenty of other people willing to help out, but for me it just isn't practicable.

Maybe February will be a bit slower...


Sunday 25 January 2015

The Ford on the Bugaroff Part Two

Continuing our exciting tale

Looking at the table midway through the battle. The British have formed a line to protect the camp ridge.
The cavalry complete their crossing of the Bugaroff, led by the impetuous but not particularly competent Feodor Dunnovich.
The famous meeting between Verdlunchko and Onegin-Offagin.
V: 'Join with me general! We must attack now. The British flank is weakened and will not survive any more blows. We must not give them time to consolidate.'
O-O: 'Do as you wish, Sir, but my men have done their duty. They have taken the redoubts, and we must now hold them. I cannot waste them on some fool's errand.'
V: 'If this battle is lost, General, then it will be lost here.'
O-O: 'I'm afraid you may be all too right,Sir.'

Verdlunchko presses forward, as do the cavalry.

The rifles fall back into the vineyards where they can continue to snipe at the flanks of the advancing infantry but are out of danger of being charged again.

The Russian attack prepares to go in.
The Norfolks unleash a volley.
The guards pour fire into the lone battalion on the right. The job of this unit is to pin the left of the British line in place while the main attack breaks the other flank.
The Russian cavalry deploy to support the infantry, while the artillery prepares the way..
From their flanking position, the Rifles continue to exact a toll on the advancing Russian wing.
Paddington-Beere leads his men from the front, and is wounded.
The Norfolks repulse Verdluncko's first assault, but the Dragoons charge into the weakened Suffolks, pushing them back. If the Russians can break the Norfolks with another attack then the whole mad charge might succeed. However, the 92nd have deployed into line to try to cover the gap made by the Suffolks.

While the battle rages the last of the Russian column crosses the Bugaroff.
The Russian Dragoons are seen off by the Scots, who at first are driven back, but then unleash a hellish volley. Dunnovich is caught up in the rout.
The Uhlans, in the meantime, true to their orders, form up. Their job is to break the centre.
Gotanich gets his first glimpse of the battle since crossing the river: 'Good God - what is happening?!'
Meanwhile the Coldstream guards have advanced on the British left flank and annihilate the hapless jagers.
In the distance the Uhlans can be seen riding towards the Gordon Highlanders, through a curtain of fire. The British line is thin, but it is holding as the last Russian reserves arrive on the battlefield..
The death ride of the Uhlans.
'That is quite enough of that thank you very much.' Half a unit will be lost for no gain whatsoever.
The newly arrived reserves look to break the British right again.
The Coldstream guards wheel into line and with the Grenadier guards proceed to wipe out the last infantry unit on their flank.
Gotanich himself leads the assault and drives the Norfolks back.
The battlefield at this crucial juncture. The Russians pour everything into breaking the right of the British line, while the Coldstream guards begin a turning movement of their own to recapture the redoubt.
In one of the greatest feats of arms in the whole war, the Coldstream Guards recapture the redoubt. Onegin-Offagin and the first battalion of the Caucasus regiment are expelled.
Now the Suffolks are charged, while Stark-Raven manages to rally the Norfolks. Verdluchko spurs his horse to catch up to the St Petersburg regiment on the far left of the Russian line in order to lead it into combat once more.
The Suffolks are reduced to a handful of men, but are kept in the battle by General Colin Dour-Haggis, the Divisional commander.
Onegin-Offagin gathers the second battalion of the Caucasus regiment for an attempt to retake the redoubt.
The Norfolks are pushed back in hard fighting, but the St.Petersburg regiment is staggered and unable to rally, due to their commander General Verdlunchko, being captured! 
The day can still be won. The Russians roll the last die with an attack on the centre of the British line.
Onegin-Offagin recaptures the redoubt. The dice throws for this particular event have to be seen to be believed.  The Russians reclaim their objective.
The Scots are pushed back in the centre. Is the battle turning the way of the Russians finally?
The hard-pressed Suffolks see off the last Russian attack by Gotanich.
Trumpets sound. The cavalry has arrived to help the hard pressed British!
A final view of the Battlefield reveals that neither army has much left intact. The arrival of the cavalry is the signal for Gotanich to withdraw his battered forces. 
What an epic! I wanted to get all of my toys on the table, and I did that, although it was late and I couldn't be bothered playing out the final few turns with the cavalry and Russian withdrawal. The game was declared a tie. The Russians took one objective (and then retook it) and the British held one objective.
British unit of the match would have to go to the Coldstream Guards for their assault on the redoubt, but to be honest any of the units could have claimed the prize. The Anglian regiments in particular suffered heavily but refused to give in. Had they broken earlier the Russians would undoubtedly have taken both objectives.
Russian unit of the match has to be the Caucasus Brigade. The jagers performed expertly, and the taking of the redoubts was legendary.
General of the match was Onegin-Offagin who did his duty and held his position without any rushes of blood to the head.
At the end of the game yet another guards commander was out of action (Paddington-Beere wounded), but Verdlunchko was captured. One must now debate - was Verdlunchko right to press the assault, or should he have waited for Gotanich to arrive with the rest of the Russian force and co-ordinate it?
I've decided that in the grand scheme of the Bugaroff front, the Russians have held the ford. The British will have to fortify Camp Ridge and remain vigilant.


Saturday 17 January 2015

The Ford on the Bugaroff Part One

Sir Hew Fotheringay-Buttpimple had been dispatched to destroy the bridge over the Bugaroff river and seal off the possibility of a flank attack by Russian forces designed to cut off the Allied lines from Balaklava. Unfortunately his dithering had led to a hard fought skirmish against the Russians before the bridge was able to be destroyed (battle report here). In the end the Russians were repulsed and Sir Hew died heroically at the moment of victory. Of course this did not stop the rumours circulating of how close the whole enterprise had come to disaster.
Although the bridge was destroyed, a ford further up the Bugaroff valley offered another possible avenue for a Russian turning movement. Lord Raglan took the possibility of a Russian push in this area very seriously, and sent General Sir Lancelot Stark-Raven to secure the crossing. Sir Lancelot took control of the 9th and 63rd and was given a battalion of the Rifle Brigade and an artillery battery to reinforce him. He quickly built two redoubts covering the ford, and established his camp on the next ridge back from the crossing. Not far away the camp of the Guards Brigade was set up, and beyond that the Light Brigade and the main British lines.
A month passed and Stark-Raven's Brigade kept a dedicated watch on the crossing, skirmishing with Russian jagers on a relatively regular basis.
Then, one Tuesday morning while the Rifle Brigade was on picket duty, something more than a few jagers was on the far bank of the Bugaroff. It was General Pavel Onegin-Offagin and his Caucasus Brigade, supported by 2 batteries of artillery.
The Russians were coming!

A bird's eye view of the battlefield, showing the position of the two redoubts and the camp of the Anglian Regiments
The British artillery in their redoubt
Another shot showing the objective flag
The Rifles moved to the bank of the river in order to skirmish with the Russians as they crossed.
The Caucasian Jagers begin to skirmish forward, supported by artillery
The view from the redoubt occupied by the Rifle Brigade's supports
Commander of the Russian attack General Ivan Gotanich oversees the operation.
Aleksander Verdlunchko leads his reserve brigade up in support of the attack.
Onegin-Offagin supervises the jagers as the Caucasus regiment marches along the road.
The rifles begin to take casualties from long range fire.
The Russians move forward.
The jagers skirmish across the Bugaroff ford.
Screening the Russian column comes at a cost. Luckily the stubborn rule keeps them in the fight.
Stark-Raven gets his Brigade moving.
A long range perspective on the battle.
The jagers continue to suffer as the main body of the Russians cross the ford. They are sensible enough to focus on the Rifles and stay away from the canister firing artillery in the redoubt!
'Help is coming boys - Hold On!'
The first battalion of Russian infantry is across.
It's a race - will the Brtish get there in time?
Onegin-Offagin leads his 1st battalion towards the assault.
Rolling a 6 for morale and the jagers are still in the fight!
Bottleneck at the ford as the reserve brigade catches up to the advance guard.
In a brave and daring charge the Russians charge the redoubt and destroy the artillery. Too late the 9th reaches the ridge crest.
The Russians continue to cross the river.
Now occupying the redoubt the Russians are subjected to a volley by the 9th.
The 63rd unleashes a volley and the Rifles stand their ground. Now is the time for the British counter-attack.
The Russian cavalry begins to arrive.
Shock! Horror! The Norfolks are repulsed! The 1st Caucasus hold the redoubt, despite heavy casualties and being staggered.
The brave jagers withdraw from the battle to allow Verdlunchko's battalions to deploy. The Rifle Brigade's fire is disappointing to say the least. They should have withdrawn, but stay to fight it out.
The Dniestr and St Petersburg regiments charge the rifles who are savagely beaten and forced to withdraw. The 2nd Caucasus battalion charges and defeats the 63rd, staggering them. Things are not looking good for the British.
The British continue to withdraw towards the camp ridge. They don't have the strength to retake the redoubts - they need to hold on until reinforcements arrive.
And here they come! The Guards Brigade under Sir George Paddington-Beere begin to arrive.
The cavalry continue to advance
The British line begins to form.
The Russians begin to reorganise for the next push. The Caucasus Brigade will hold the redoubt ridge line while Verdlunchko's troops lead the next assault.
The cavalry reach the Bugaroff.
And that is where we leave part one of the battle, with the Russians firmly in control of their first objective. The timidity of the two Anglian regiments was represented by some shocking dice in combat and in morale. Despite two attempts to rally the staggered 63rd, they remain in their shaken state. This must represent the effects of the mauling that they got in the battle at the bridge. On the other hand the Russians have benefited from being stubborn and from rolling 6s for their morale.
It would be tempting for Gotanich to send forward Verdlunchko's Brigade now, but the British reinforcements make that a dubious move. I'd say that he will wait for the cavalry at least before making an assault on the next ridge-line. But he is well back at the moment in the middle of the reserve column. Will the impetuous Verdlunchko take things into his own hands? We will find out in part two.