Thursday, March 23, 2017

All Quiet on the Hobby Front

"Heeeeeeere's JOHNNY!"
There has been a distinct lack of hobby action of late, and like Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining", cabin fever is setting in...

A combination of family commitments and it just being too damn hot (or humid, or both) have meant I haven't been to the club for weeks and painting has been a write-off. Why try painting when the paint on your brush dries up before it touches a figure? A slight exaggeration, but it's been consistently hotter and muggier since summer officially finished at the end of February, and that kind of weather is not conducive to painting, as you probably know all too well.

Anyway, things are looking up; I'll be going to the club this weekend and will probably play French this time. Several new players have been investing in British armies, so I'll give them some target practice. The Italians I painted up late last year will probably get their maiden run on the battlefield (queue routing markers!).

Because there's been a flurry of British regiments being created, there have been quite a few questions being asked on numbers and basing, and I realise my regiments are undermanned. My focus for when I get my mojo back will be to upgrade my British line regiments from 10 to 12 figures and Highlanders from 12 to 15 figures. I'm also planning to retire some of my older units and replace them with Hagen metal figures (marching and action) and the new Strelets Highlander range. The problem is, though, both ranges have problems: the Hagen figures don't have elite company figures, while the Strelets figures don't have centre company figures! I had ordered some Hagen marching light infantry to use as elite company figures, but when I got the parcel in the mail I found that they'd been replaced with extra centre company marching figures, instead. Consequently, I've used Milliput to make shoulder wings on a few figures. I'll see how they look once I start painting them. I've also laboriously carved off the shoulder wings from the majority of the Highlander figures, too.

Also, I will need to re-base my Spanish infantry, which I mistakenly based on the larger 2-rank base, instead of the standard 3-rank continental infantry. Plus, I plan to boost the numbers of Spanish infantry so that I can field a complete 1500 point Spanish army! "Why?", I hear you ask; well, I have a soft spot for the hapless Spaniards who kept getting up after being knocked down again and again! They embody the image of the plucky underdog, which appeals to my sense of justice. Plus, I have an ambition to win a game with them one day; if I can do that, then I know I'll have made it as a player! That's the same reason I'm still plugging away with the Neapolitan project, too.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Crash or Crash Through!

"Did we hit anything?"

I finally made it back to the club this weekend past after a run of real-world priorities got in the way of hobby-time. I ran a scenario with my figures, so this post features only 1/72nd scale goodness with none of these over-fed 28mm figures hogging the limelight! Apologies in advance for the photos; I forgot my camera and was reduced to using my phone, so some are rather blurry while others have a lot of foreground/background which I couldn't be ar*ed cropping.

The scenario I came up with was based on a generic scenario from the book Wargamer’s Scenarios: The Peninsular War 1808 - 1814 where the Anglo-Iberian forces are strung out across the table, screening a French occupied town (off-table). The French player is in command of a concentrated force, and needs to open the road to the town. The French forces start the game with ~500 points less than the allies, but that's tempered by the fact that at least half the allied force is made up of a Spanish division. The rest of the allied force consists of an Anglo-Portuguese division. Each brigade of each division starts off in an isolated position, so each allied commander has to decide whether to concentrate, or to earn individual glory by attacking a French flank.

I took the Portuguese brigade of 2 line and 1 Cacadore battalion, and my new artillery battery. Garry took the British brigade of 1 highlander battalion, 1 light battalion and 1 line battalion (and a couple of riflemen), and John S. took the 2 Spanish infantry brigades as well as commanding the only allied cavalry.

Quinny went French for the 2nd week in a row. After vowing never to play French when a British force was on the table (proud ex-Pom that he is!), he broke his vow last week and won. Now it seems patriotism is trumped by winning, no matter which force he commands! He decided that the only way to win was to go on the offensive right from the start, and the Spanish were the obvious candidates for attack.

The Spanish began by concentrating around the village on the road, while the cavalry lurked in the background, probably the best place for Spanish cavalry actually! John occupied the building closest to the French and strung out a battalion in line from the occupied building to another battalion in closed column, creating an anchored line. A determined 3 battalion charge on the building soon cleared the Spanish from the town, allowing the cavalry to then charge the dislocated anchored line. In short order, the line and closed column were all running. The French then turned their attention to the rest of the Spanish infantry and sent them packing. John then had to roll for divisional morale, but failed of course. He then attempted to issue a recall order in the next turn. The order was successfully issued, but in the following morale check, the division chose to ignore the order and bug out for the hills! John was left with the cavalry and one lonely unit of angry townspeople, or guerrillas. Quinny casually neutralised the Spanish cavalry, except for the Extramadura Lancers, who danced around the French rear to no great effect!

Quinny was then able to turn his attention to the British and Portuguese. I managed to put a line battalion in the nearest building which had been vacated by the French, just to make life difficult for them. I planned on using the artillery to make life difficult for the enemy, while my cacadores were to take on the nearest enemy infantry. The main flaw to this plan was the fact that the Portuguese artillery couldn't hit the  broad side of a barn, and, after a minor success against enemy infantry, the small French chasseur unit kept the cacadores in closed column. While I was kept focussed to the front, Quinny sent a couple of battalions around the rear of my position. The only bright spot was the fact that his attempt to dislodge my battalion from the built up area failed, after my dice finally decided to cooperate at the same time Quinny's decided to give up.

However, that was only a temporary setback. Quinny eventually chucked the Portuguese out of the village and got around the flank of the British line. Having sent both Portuguese line units running, the way was clear through the village. The British and the lone cacadore battalion were not up to halting them, so the game ended with a consensus agreement of a French victory.

It seemed to be a successful game (maybe not so much for the Spanish, sorry John!) with everyone enjoying themselves. The French player had to be aggressive to win, which suited Quinny's style to a T, while the allies have their work cut out for them despite having overall superior numbers. 

I'd like to run it again with a re-jigging of the forces; maybe a small British cavalry unit to give the Anglo-Portuguese a more offensive capability, and boosting overall numbers so the French player doesn't have to fight single-handedly against multiple allied players.

The Portuguese deploy on the ridge

The Spanish lancers bravely take the field

Spanish heavy cavalry guard the flank

Spanish infantry manage to just fall short of occupying the buildings

The French manage to beat them to the punch, occupying the barn under their noses!

The French infantry advance in closed column, screened by hussars in echelon.

More French infantry advance in column screened by light infantry skirmish screen. Note the British advancing through the woods in their flank!

Two French battalions deploy in line to face the threat, while the skirmishers advance to take on their British counterparts.

The French infantry charge against the Spanish occupied village goes in, despite supporting fire from the anchored line.
John is checking distances and angles to see if the cavalry had an opportunity charge (they didn't).

After successfully taking the building, the chasseurs charge the remaining formations of the anchored line. The guerrillas look on helplessly!

The French reserve moves up.

Spanish infantry columns huddle together before the onslaught!

Spanish reserves move up. The converged grenadiers and Walloon Guards are the best units in the Spanish formation.

Unfortunately, John kept them in column to meet the French attack, negating their firepower in an attempt to meet mass with mass.

With too many units running, the inevitable result was a failed divisional morale test!

In an attempt to retrieve some honour, the Spanish dragoons managed to manoeuvre into the hussars' flank. The French horse artillery channel Dirty Harry: "Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

After their successful charge, the French chasseurs' flank is covered by a lone infantry column. The cacadores then wheel and fire in their flank. The ensuing morale check causes the column to retire with casualties. Huzzah!

That's as far as the cacadores' luck goes, as they are forced into closed column after the chasseurs manoeuvre to threaten them. 

John's lancers appear in the rear of the French infantry, who studiously ignore them.

While the cacadores are still in closed column due to the cavalry threat, negating their firepower, they are charged by two battered French infantry columns. 

The roll for pre-melee...

...and for melee!
Luckily, the result was only a retreat and not a break.

The lancers make a nuisance of themselves, forcing the French light infantry into square. They square repulses them, but makes a lovely target for the British line.

After the artillery dealt with the Spanish dragoons on their flank, the French hussars attack the Spanish heavy cavalry on the ridge.

They are also sent packing to the rear!

The Portuguese occupy the empty building, under the guerrillas' supervision.

The die comes good in the combat for the village!

The French find they've bit off more than they can chew...

They are repulsed with disorders! Huzzah!

However, the celebrating is premature, with their supports caught in the flank by a column of French legere!

Now isolated with 5 disorders, the future of the Portuguese in the village looks bleak!
Note the French hussars angling for the centre.

The chasseurs charge the guns, but are fought off by the combined fire of the cacadores and gunners.

The Spanish lancers are finally put to flight by the French hussars, who'd charged out of the village to catch them in the rear.

Despite being battered, the French are able to hold off the remnants of the allied force and open up the road to relieve the French held town off-table.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Portuguese Artillery and Spanish Command

"Pronto!... Fogo!"

I am terrible at resisting the "ooh, shiny!" impulse, especially when it's for a unique set in my chosen scale and can add to my already existing collection. With that declaration made, let me introduce you to my new Portuguese artillery battery!

These are from the expanding range of metal Napoleonic figures offered by Hagen Miniatures. The figures are great, the gun very detailed, and there's quite a range of paraphernalia that comes with the set. In fact, I found that I could only use 4 of the 6 figures provided, otherwise the base would have been very crowded!

I've added my patent tuft of cotton wool to the portfire and blackened the muzzle to show that it's been in heavy use.


"Yo espio con mi ojo pequeño...."

This is the second of my recent Spanish command figures. He'll act as an infantry brigadier or cavalry divisional general. Again, he's from the Italeri French command set with a head modification using a Lancier Bleu head. He's had his epaulets removed and his collar built up with Milliput after decapitation of his original head took off more than I intended!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Austerlitz 2017 Part 2 - or, The Revenge of Dr. Love!

Austerlitz battlefield viewed north from Sokolnitz in the foreground

Following on from the previous Austerlitz post, poor old Philip's 3rd Column were in all sorts of bother, my 2nd Column was getting ideas above its station, Advance Guard and 1st Column were systematically taking Sokolnitz from the French and then ordered to halt on the eastern bank of the Goldbach. Further north, the French were holding the northern flank while preparing for an all-out attack in the centre.

Lannes and Bernadotte form refused flank on Bellowitz.

Soult puts paid to 3rd Column in an all-out brigade charge.

3rd Column disintegrates as it flees across the farmland adjacent to the pheasantry. Mixed-up brigades negated attempts at rallying the command, so off the board it fled!

My commanders of 2nd Column look at the unfolding disaster on their right flank with some concern!

With the collapse of 3rd Column and aggressive movement in the centre, orders came down the chain of command for the Advanced Guard, 1st and 2nd Columns to start transferring their forces towards the centre.

Advanced Guard cavalry move towards the centre.

Having just occupied Sokolnitz, 2nd Column leaves to take up new positions to the north.

The rest of 2nd Column pulls back from the Goldbach to face Soult's troops on the other side of the pheasantry.

3rd Column continue their rout, impervious to their commander's pleas!

The Austrians of 4th Column face French to the front...

...and to the right... well as across the creek further to the right in a big zig-zag.

Russians of 4th Column kept busy with advancing French, including the Guard!

While the Allies in the centre await the moment of crisis, Paul (Dr. Love!) of 1st Column takes the Alfred E. Neuman attitude:
"What, me worry?

The problems with a refused flank: with a gap opening between the two units of the angle, the line facing forwards receives a flank charge, while the unit supposedly protecting its flank is heavily engaged.

Then the whole line gets rolled up, as the triumphal French attack runs amok down the Austrian front line!

Austrian battalions routing to the rear past the Emperors and their retinues on the Pratzen Heights!

Further north, the Russian cavalry tries to put a stop to the rot, but the French manage to from square in time to meet the charge! Note the French Guard infantry at the top of the picture.

Even further north, the Russian Guard goes into action, pushing into a gap in the French line.

Confused cavalry action on the flank of the Russian Guard infantry.

The Guard's target; the French refused line, which has given up Bellowitz to the Russians

Back in the centre, the Russian cavalry fall back after rough handling by the infantry square, and the Imperial Guard advance through the vineyards. 

The Cossacks sheltering behind the vineyard from the Guard Chasseurs get a nasty surprise as the Italian Guard marches up on their flank. Amazingly, the Cossacks survive the morale check caused by the flank fire!

Chasseurs of the Guard advance on the southern flank of the vineyard.

Things are getting serious, now!
Gaming into the night.

La Garde charges the Russian line, pushing back, but not breaking the opposition

In a fog of war moment, the rest of the French infantry neglected to accompany the Guard in its charge, leaving them high and dry! 

With Russian cavalry in their left flank, the Guard were out on a limb without any reserve support to speak of.

Back at the pheasantry, French and Russian skirmishers advance into the farmland, while the rest of 2nd Column forms up on the edge of the field and move around the edge.

Davout's penny-packages of cavalry head north to confront the shifting Russian dispositions

Grim looking French commanders

Fanagoria  grenadiers of 2nd Column move around the ploughed fields behind the cossacks of the Advanced Guard.

Austrian Hussars from the Advanced Guard threaten Soult's troops near the Pratzen Heights...

...before launching a devastating charge into the French flank!

The charge goes into the flank of a Light Infantry column which failed to form square.

The charge continues deep into the next few columns.


The hussars finish their charge with four battalions on the run, deep in the heart of the French formation.

"RUN AWAY!!!!!"

Meanwhile, 1st Column under Dokhtorov (better known as Dr. Love) moves up behind the Fanagoria Regiment of 2nd Column and Advanced Guard cavalry.

Fanagoria in mixed order screening 1st Column.

Austrian and French columns meet in a mutual charge. Only heads of columns have been moved up.

Inconclusive combat forces both sides to their starting points.

James (Soult) and John S. (Buxhowden) duke it out in the centre, while Andrew B. looks on. 1st Column moves up  in the foreground.

As the small French dragoon units moved up in support of the French infantry in front of the Fanagoria regiment, 2nd Column's cavalry detachment took the opportunity charge, forcing the dragoons to flee!
The Russian dragoons continue on into the infantry, but as they are in closed column...

...the cavalry bounces back to their starting point. Job done!

However, two batteries of Guard artillery unlimber in front of Fanagoria ready to play havoc.

The rest of 2nd Column starts to move across the ploughed fields, picking up disorders. I was planning to cross the field in force in order to threaten the artillery, but with French skirmishers active, my troops would not be able to cross the field without picking up maximum disorders. They would be in no condition to confront enemy forces.

The Fanagoria regiment should have backed off, or attacked, but remaining where they were was probably the worst option.

The remaining Austrians finally succumb after grimly holding on.

While the Austrians were being pummelled, further north the Guard cavalry was holding the line against a confused mob of Russian cavalry and infantry remnants.

The space around the Guard cavalry shows how open the battlefield was campared to some of our other big games, like Waterloo and Borodino.  

Looking further north from the Guard cavalry's position, the action becomes even more confused with the Russian Guard in action left, right and centre!

Right at the northern end of the battlefield, Bagration continues to pressure Lannes.

Back in the centre, Austrian cavalry clash with their French counterparts. With such a large overlap, their success was always likely, but note the approaching Guard infantry in the background!

After 1st Column passes through...'s time to recall the Austrian cavalry out of harm's way!

Note the 3 blown markers representing the 3 full turns needed to regroup recalled cavalry (Another one of funny-man Paul's creations!)

Advanced Guard Cossacks get ideas above their station and attempt a charge at the advancing French infantry. As the charge started outside the flank of the target infantry formation, they didn't get the all important flank charge bonus.

In they went, surviving the flank fire from adjacent infantry columns, but weren't able to push the attack home, stopping 2" short of the target.

Not to worry; Dr. Love is in the house!
His charge catches the nearest infantry in the flank.

They flee for the hills past the oncoming grognards of the Guard!

After dithering for several turns, being chewed up by the Guard Horse Artillery to my front, I launched all three Fanagoria battalions at the batteries.

Bad mistake!
My best regiment turns tail and runs after suffering heavy losses.

Next, the St. Petersburg Dragoons, who did so splendidly against their French opposites, take one too many casualties from artillery fire and also bolt!

The last regiment of the 2nd Column leaves the line of the Goldbach to plug the gap made by the collapse of the Fanagorias.

Dr. Love's 1st Column re-occupies the Pratzen heights, while the French begin organising a defensive line.

The French defensive line takes shape.

The rest of 2nd Column try to traverse the ploughed fields, racking up disorders. Fanagoria attempt to rally behind the Jaegers who'd been expelled from the field by the French skirmishers.

The French line from east to west, while the 1st Column and Advanced Guard occupy the Pratzen Heights.

While the fighting to the south and the north had defined lines, the are to the south of  Bellowitz was a confused mish-mash of combats between isolated units with an incredibly high body count, but no advantage to either side. It was in this sector that Grand Duke Constantine was mortally wounded, but his men shrugged off the tragedy and fought on! URRAAH!

French forces attempting to support the occupied BUA getting pounded by Russian artillery.

Guard Chasseurs move up under fire from the battery in the previous picture off to the left

Russian commanders directing fire.

Battered Russian Guard infantry still in the field despite heavy losses.

Isolated Russian Guard battalion and accompanying infantry support battery in all sorts of bother!

At the very north of the battlefield, Bagration had attempted to maneuver around the French flank, but Lannes kept the line... 

....anchored on Bellowitz.

Bagation's cavalry confront the French infantry, while French cavalry reserves approach in the background.

Back in the centre, the French form mixed order to defend against a combined arms advance by the Allies.

With the Allies holding the Pratzen Heights and the rallied Austrian infantry of 4th Column appearing on their extreme left flank, the French forces were under pressure.

Especially as Allied cavalry were dispatched to assist from the northern parts of the battlefield.

Russian dragoons attack the nearest French infantry formation as the Austrians look on.

Note the 3 blown markers representing the 3 full turns needed to regroup recalled cavalry (Another one of funny-man Paul's creations!)

The charge goes in! The Austrians extract a little revenge for their previous mauling.

Success was short-lived, though. Without fresh reserves, the Austrians were ripe for counter-attack.

First, the weak supporting battalions were screened by a powerful line of light infantry...

...who then bent around to envelop the Austrian flank, while the larger battalion which had previously launched the successful charge is charged in turn by 3 French battalions.

A week Russian battalion  from 1st Column deploys in line to protect the flank vacated by the Austrians.
Quinny looks on in disgust: "Oh for some British Guard infantry!"

1st Column still occupies the Pratzen Heights daring the French to continue their advance.

1st Column on the right and the Advanced Guard on the left ponder their options

The French force the issue and charge the artillery and Hungarian infantry of the Advanced Guard.

After clearing the artillery and infantry to their front, the French infantry are now confronted by lots of cavalry.

With both sides having committed their reserves, neither force could land a knock out blow on the other. It was generally agreed that the French won the day on a points decision, with the Allies able to retire from the battlefield in good order.

Not sure whose side this Huntsman was on!
Despite having a leg-span to fit in the palm of your hand, these critters are generally no threat to humans. They just give you a bloody fright when they appear in your peripheral vision! 

After all the fun, the tidying-up process!
These are all the table legs...

...and the table-tops stored in the 2nd shed

Tim and Jill now have somewhere to park their cars!

Again, big thanks to Tim and Jill for hosting these semi-annual events. They really are a highlight of the wargaming calendar.

Thanks to Darren for doing the heavy lifting with the organising; the Orders of Battle, the battlefield planning (including fog rules) and providing a substantial number of troops for both sides. Andrew S. also assisted greatly in these background tasks, but as previously stated, ended up not being able to attend.

Finally, a big thanks to everyone who played, new and old members all (as well as the odd interstate interloper!). It really makes it a great 3 days when everyone plays in the same spirit of friendly competition, before chewing over the day's action over a glass of red (or several!) after one of Jill's superb meals.

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