Friday, June 25, 2010

Off topic, off colour

Check out this Kevin Rudd parody on YouTube using Bruno Ganz's performance as Hitler form the movie 'Downfall'.

Be warned; the language is fairly blue, so don't view it if you're easily offended, or if there are children present!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Ides of March

My head has just stopped spinning! In the best traditions of the Roman Senate, or (more appropriately for this blog) the Terror of the French Revolution, the ruling Australian Labor Party has fallen on it's leader of less than 3 years and torn him down in less than 24 hours to replace him with Australia's first female PM. This is also the first time a leader has been brought down by his own party before the end of his first term in office.

Not only that, Australia has been sent packing from the World Cup even though it won its last game against Serbia.

So far not a great day in the field of Australian politics or sport!

Back to the really important stuff; I'm in the middle of reading 'Salamanca 1812' by Rory Muir (which I'll review in due course) and realised that if I'm making a British Peninsula brigade, at least 2 battalions should be of Portuguese line and/or cacadores. So, I've put in for an order with SHQ for a couple of battalions' worth of geezers, as Quinny calls them. That'll make a change in painting red coats, white cross-belts, red coats, white crossbelts....

That said, I've nearly finished my last line battalion for the moment and am about to start on my rifles. I also have dead Brits to do as well. As you can see, I'm spoiled for choice!

A friend once said he was told by a wise old man (well, a trader at a convention) "If you've finished collecting and you don't have a pile of unpainted figures, then you're probably dead" By that standard, I'm going to live forever!

Almost completed 50th Foot. The light-bob to go, then dipping and basing left.

My next project; Revell's rifles, 95th and 5/60th

Lancier Bleu dead British (post 1812 uniforms, but who cares?)

The campaign continues this week with our new subject, Pete, continuing his effort to repulse the invasion from the west, while elsewhere other nations come to blows. Meanwhile the culprit who has been conducting piratical operations in disguise still has not been exposed!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I missed my calling!

Today my fellow campaigners and I received a missive from an ally (well, we have a loose non-aggression pact) explaining why trade between our two principalities may be interrupted; He's suffering from an attack of Pirate-itis. His trading fleet was hijacked and then used in an attack on a third nation.

I volunteered to draft the reply. It has been described by my comrades on my team as a masterful display of style over substance;

'You express such fine and noble sentiments at absolutely no cost to us' - Tim

'Says all but says nothing, should have been a politician' - Pete

Click the image below, then expand it, to read my reply!

(The image has been carefully censored so as prying eyes will not gain any advantages!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gentlemen, Start your Engines!!

I played another game last Friday at the club, but again, I neglected to bring my camera. Doh! John R took a few shots and is going to forward them to me, so when I get them I will embellish this post with them. (Pictures added; Thanks, John!)

The campaign has started in earnest with the first battle and the first takeover occuring. My partner, Tim, and I offered Pete an offer he couldn't refuse and in the best mafia tradition, we've taken over his territory and added his armies to ours. Rather than take him out of the competition, we've made him a partner, in the same terms that Napoleon made the smaller German states his partners ;-). Pete's other army was engaged on his Western border in a battle with his other neighbour that ended more or less in a stand-off. It was a case of quality vs. quantity with stalemate the result.

Pete in the midst of decisive action, while Geoff rues what could have been!

I played a non-campaign game with Garry and Jim, with Garry and I sharing the French side against Jim's Russians. Garry took a blocking role and came out the worst in an artillery duel against General Jimski's 16 gun 12 lber batteries. I advanced my troops around his left flank with 2 battalions of light infantry covering the advance in skirmish order. Although the the skirmish combat was fairly inconclusive, it distracted him from paying attention to his centre 6lber batteries, which I charged with 2 line battalions. I hadn't quite got in on his flank and the left hand column took some casualties as they came in, but it was a more or less foregone conclusion and the batteries were taken! Hurrah!

That split his 2 wings in half as he'd withdrawn his covering dragoons from the centre to counter my Hussars on his left. His right wing decided to go on a death or glory charge which negated the power of his big 12's and put him in the path of Garry's Cuirassiers who forced the Russians into square or closed column at the mercy of his Garry's infantry. On my flank I had the all arms attack bottling up his infantry which had all gone into square or closed column to counter my cavalry, but that let him at a disadvantage to my artillery. Once his dragoons appeared there was a brief inconclusive cavalry stoush, and my infantry went into l'ordre mixte to still threaten his infantry while giving myself some cover from his cavalry. We ended it a couple of turns later as it was obvious the Russians were on a hiding to nothing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as it was a victory without too much bloodshed; it was the first game I've won more through maneuver rather than frontal bludgeoning.

Your humble correspondent (the devilishly handsome one on the right with more hair on his face than on his head) getting sage advice from Tim on the benefits of l'ordre mixte. If you expand the view, you'll see the 2 battalions ready to launch their charge at the artillery through the skirmish screen. You can also see the developing cavalry standoff to the left of Tim's elbow. Garry's cuirassiers can be seen at the bottom centre of the picture. In the crowds of people in this shot, I'm the only one involved in this game; both Garry and Jim didn't make it, somehow. The other 2 clowns in the background managed to get their mugs in anyhow!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I've cracked 200 visits to my little blog! Hoorah!

I know others are celebrating tens of thousands of visits, but I've only been in existence for a couple of months, so I'm quite proud. After advertising it's existence on a couple of web forums the visitation numbers spiked, but have fallen back to regular, but steady levels, so thank you all for visiting and I hope you find enough of interest here to keep returning.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Somewhere in the Peninsula....

Finally got a game in AND brought the camera too! It was supposed to be a 4-hander game of 1500 points each, but only 2 of us turned up. Luckily, we had opposing forces; It has been known for opponents not turning up and two allies then turning on each other in counter-factual civil-war! As I've only got 4 battalions of infantry painted up so far, I supplemented them with figures from the club's British and Allied Minifig army; that is 1 line battalion, 1 rifle battalion, 2 horse gun batteries, 1 squadron of Hussars and 1 of Dragoons plus 2 Spanish line and 1 Spanish light battalion. I was expecting to be controlling only half the table, and was planning to keep my cavalry together, but was forced by circumstances to divide my cavalry to protect both flanks.

My opponent was also stood up and was expecting his partner to bring a force heavy in cavalry and superior quality infantry, so he'd made his army light on cavalry and heavy on average to mediocre quality troops. The discrepancy in numbers that 1500 points will get you was pretty marked; I had better quality troops, but a lot less of them, and I was playing one of the better tacticians in the club. I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me from the start, but how to manage the situation? I decided to go on the offensive straight away pushing my rifles up to his columns and peppering them with disorders while my lines advanced. I put my Spanish line troops into the built up area on the right and anchored my right flank against the village. However, weight of numbers began to tell early with my skirmishers being whittled down by his artillery and his infantry in line. Even after I bolstered the rifles with the light companies from my lines, once he decided to bring his light troops into play, I was on the back foot. Realising I'd brought my lines too far forward with dangerous gaps in between, I moved them back to be closer to each other. My Hussars were being held by advancing infantry in closed column, which gave him the opportunity to charge my guns which had had their flank exposed by the cavalry's attention being distracted elsewhere. The crew chose discretion as the better part of valour and fled the guns.

Meanwhile on the right flank, an indecisive cavalry charge had led nowhere, which was followed by an attempt to break an infantry battalion that managed to form square in the nick of time. Luckily it did not prove fatal to the dragoons. My light infantry tried harrassing the columns in front while the Spanish light moved up in support. My guns were pounded by expert French counter-battery fire and were forced back over the ridgeline for shelter. I then moved the Spanish light into line slightly forward of the crest and the British line on their left without conforming them to the new line. This, of course was an open invitation to be charged, which they duly were and smashed to smithereens.

From there, things started to go badly wrong. My centre battalion started to feel the full effect of the French artillery and then failed to stand a charge by 3 French battalions. That's where the camera's batteries failed, so I could tell you that I made a brilliant recovery and sent the frogs packing, but I was raised to tell the truth, so unfortunately I must admit defeat! I panicked and pulled one Spanish battalion out of the village to bolster the line. As nature abhors a vacuum, so does a battlefield; the French snuck in and seized the buildings I'd just vacated and then fired down my flanks. The Spaniards stood, but the British line on the right flank broke as they were under too much pressure.

Further on the left, I'd echeloned my cavalry back, but all that did was expose their flank to the advancing closed columns, so after a volley my Hussars were driven back. Looking back on it now, I'm not sure that echeloned cavalry do present a flank; I should have been able to charge his closed column with the figures facing his flank. The triumphant French infantry were pouring through the gap made in the middle of my line and proceeded to roll it up. I failed my divisional morale test and the game ended.

It was a bit like the Dutch boy sticking his finger in the dike, with leaks appearing all the time and not enough digits to fill them! I didn't help my own cause by advancing too far forward in the first place and then mishandling my Spaniards when I was under pressure. It was a good game nonetheless, and good practice for the upcoming campaign, the first moves of which will happen this week

The thin red line on the rear slope of the ridge

Light infantry dispersing into skirmish order on the right flank

The Spaniards on their way to seize the buildings

The situation on the right flank

The centre of the line. Rifles already thinned by guns and French line.

The view from the British left flank

The skirmish line pulling back about to be confronted by the French skirmishers.

The village and the right flank.

Weight of numbers telling against my skirmish line

The abandoned guns on the left flank. Note the large gap to the right of the Gordons

The French skirmish line is through! Time to consolidate that line.

Come any nearer and I'll blow!
The lonely survivor of the advanced skirmish line on the right flank. Really, you only notice the difference between 20mm & 28mm close up.

The centre battalion is suffering from the artillery fire. Desperately trying to reestablish contact in the line. Note the Spaniards deployed in line on the right after being removed from the buildings.

The Hussars about to be given a nasty surprise

The Spanish light deployed in advance of the line about to be crushed.

The floodgates open; my flank about to get whacked!

The following day I dipped my British battalions in the Army Painter and they came up really well. I also got through the most painting I have in a long time; 3 figures in one sitting! Whoo-hoo!

I'm now half way through the 50th Foot and have my sights on my Rifles. Still not sure how I'll go about them as they were distributed in company strength throughout the army. I was thinking of painting 5 figures as the 95th and 5 as the 5/60th and deploying them more or less together, so that I'll still have their firepower undiluted, but still have a pseudo-historical look.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Queen's birthday and WIP

Today the run into work was a dream as people started their long weekend early and the weather was kind. Thank you Your Majesty! So, let's celebrate the birthday of the head of state, who also happens to be the head of state of a bunch of other countries, some of whom happen to belong to trade groups that are economic rivals of ours; no conflict of interest there, of course.

What will happen when Australia inevitably, sooner or later, becomes a republic? Knowing our perverse affection for celebrating the underdog and heroic failure, it'll probably be some lame event like Burke & Wills day, celebrating a couple of mad Victorian era explorers who, woefully unprepared and after a comedy of errors, perished in the desert of central Australia. Hurrah!

Our national day, Australia Day, celebrates the first settlers arriving in Botany Bay in 1788; a bunch of convicts expelled from the mother country and marooned on the other side of the world. Hurrah!

Our unofficial national day which is gaining in popularity and growing national mythology is ANZAC day, which celebrates the 1915 landing of Australian and New Zealand (but also British, Indian and French) troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. That campaign was a balls-up from the start, with no detailed maps and therefore no idea of the terrain they were landing on which turned out to be sheer cliffs or steep bluffs riddled with narrow gullies, while further up the peninsula there was wide open spaces. Not only that, but with a bit of drive amongst the higher command the troops could have been off the beach and up the cliffs before the Turks could reinforce the high ground. But no; they spent the whole campaign more or less stuck on the beaches. When the inevitable was admitted, all troops were withdrawn with nothing to show, but a lot of useless deaths. Hurrah!

We could celebrate more successful, but less glamorous campaigns like General Monash's brilliant 1918 Battle of Hamel, in which he was one of the first generals anywhere to pioneer combined arms attacks utilizing infantry, artillery, tanks and airpower to achieve a breakthrough in the trench stalemate. Another interesting aside was the fact that it was the first time Americans fought in an offensive action on the Western Front and the first time (and probably last) they fought under foreign command. The 4th of July was selected as the start date for the battle in honour of the new allies.

We could also (and should, what's more) celebrate the New Guinea campaign of 1942/43 which showed how we could defend ourselves and not just fight in other countries' wars.

We also should find some way of commemorating other conflicts since 1918 without being dominated by the mythology of ANZAC day, especially as the death toll steadily mounts among Australians serving in Afghanistan, whatever one thinks of the validity of our being involved in that conflict. We can't make the same mistakes as we did during the Vietnam war.

Enough ranting; Below are some pictures of what's on the workbench at the moment. Too much, it seems! I'm steadily getting through my latest British Line battalion, painted up as the 50th Foot. I'll most likely then go onto my Revell rifles, painting them as the 95th and the 5/60th, then the Call to Arms foot artillery, Italeri horse artillery, light dragoons and hussars. In between, for a change of scenery, I might start my Spanish line troops, or keep converting my remaining French line infantry in greatcoats and paint my dead for morale markers

HaT line as 50th Foot. Kennington/SHQ officer

French head conversions; Metal bonnet de police and bare, bandaged head from Lancier Bleu and shako from Italeri line troops (naff poses and inaccurate uniforms, but great heads for conversions)

Dead Frenchies from Lancier Bleu. Also have British line, Highlanders, and Spanish. They also come with a few separate metal muskets, which may be useful for future conversions

Metal Kennington/SHQ early Spanish line troops

Later Spanish line. HaT production, a bit more lumpen, but should paint up OK

As you can see, my work space is not as neat as some of the others I've seen on blogs. A few of them resemble the USS Enterprise flight deck! I'm not that organised yet and probably never will be, which is probably why it's taking so long to complete my British project (that and the fact I work full time and have a family!)

Monday, June 7, 2010


June spells the official start of winter here in Australia and right on cue, the weather gods have brought miserable cold southerly winds and rain up from the Southern Ocean. After a few relatively mild and dry winters, this is something of a shock, but there's nothing like sitting by the fire nice and warm while the rain pelts down outside. I know the northern hemisphereans reading this are saying 'That's not winter!', but this is about as bad as it gets here.

The reason for this digression to things meteorological is that my latest batch of photos were taken indoors because of the foul weather outside. I've used my new Spanish farm buildings as a backdrop, plus a couple of my scratch built trees. The first unit are not Austrians, but a French battalion in white, depicting the short lived 1807 uniform. I've based this unit on the 15e Ligne which participated in the original 1808 campaigns in Spain in their black-faced white uniform. The Army Painter certainly worked a treat with these chaps. Also pictured are my horse and foot batteries and my command figures.

15e Ligne

Command figures

In column of attack

Horse gun battery

Horse guns again

My Divisional command figures

'Monsieur, your horse's arse makes more sense than you!'

Foot gun battery

La belle filles

Converted command figure.
Pointing finger of original has been replaced by Hussar sabre and hilt removed from scabbard.

My first command figure and one of my first mounted figures, too. Horse equipment painted brown, not black. Oops!

I had my first Napoleonic battle since beginning this blog last Friday, but forgot my camera! My Highlanders had their first taste of battle and true to form did not let me down. I had them in line alongside one of my line battalions and was charged by 3 French battalions in column. If my opponent had concentrated all three on one of my lines, instead of sending 2 against my line and 1 against my Highlanders, or spread out so that the remaining 3 battalions could also join the charge, he may have had a chance, but he didn't, and my massed volley ripped his attack to shreds!

Previous to that, our cavalry had been involved in a stoush that left my Hussars reeling, but in following my retreating horse, his Hussars placed their flank point blank against my guns. POW! bye-bye French Hussars!

My rifles and detatched light companies had the better of the initial skirmish combat between the main forces, although in the woods on my right flank, weight of numbers were telling against my highland light infantry. He survived a divisional morale check and withdrew his battered forces to regroup and came up with a clever ploy to discomfort my pursuit; instead of offering a solid line of infantry against my line, he opened a gap just wide enough for his surviving cavalry to gallop through in column, if I was stupid enough to offer him a target (which I almost was!). As it was, I had to put my line infantry into closed column to counter this threat which complicated matters somewhat.

By this stage the game was more or less over, with a moral victory to the British, while on the other half of the table, my partner was having a devil of a time against his French opponent who had stopped the British advance cold and took, lost and retook the village that was central to any advance by either army. In effect the centre of the table was one big pivot point, with one wing of both armies advancing while the other retreated.

This night was a warm up for new members and old ones who hadn't played for a while to familiarise themselves with the rules before we embark on a grand campaign in the next week. Already there is skulduggery afoot with diplomatic shenanigans and disinformation being spread! This'll be a first for me, so stay tuned for more.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wolf Hunt

I recently finished the second installment of Armand Cabasson's Grande Armee murder-mystery trilogy, Wolf Hunt (ISBN 13: 9781906040086). While I enjoyed it, I found that it didn't grab me as much as the first book reviewed earlier in this blog. I'm not sure if it's because the novelty of the setting is no longer new, or if I had more problems with the plot in this one, or a bit of both.

This story is a prequel to the first as it's set during the 1809 Danube campaign and opens during the battle of Aspern-Essling. Our hero Captain Margont and his friends survive the battle, although Margont is wounded. While convalescing on the Isle of Lobau, he meets an Austrian woman looking for a missing orphan boy, who turns out to have been murdered. Margont is compelled to help her due to an instant attraction that has to do with issues from his past as well as the usual boy meets girl stuff. An earlier near-victim of the murderer, now a French hussar and expert swordsman, sworn to fight against the society that so cruelly abandoned justice for him and his murdered friend, joins Margont in the investigation, til Wagram intervenes.

I found the ease with which Margont abandons his duties as company commander not that convincing. In the first book at least he was authorised by Eugene de Beauharnais to investigate the crimes and therefore had a legitimate excuse; In this book he's just fulfilling a personal obligation.

Also, whereas in the first book the descriptions of the characters' psychological states were compelling, in this book it seemed too forced. Why would a mere captain of infantry be so perceptive to other characters' mental states in a period well before psychology had even been thought of?

The unmasking of the murderer was almost perfunctory and for a book that focuses so heavily on characters' internal workings, the motive was hardly touched on, leaving him a fairly two dimensional character.

On the other hand, the macho, bragging, devil-may-care world of the hussar was well covered with the hussar character's skill with the blade becoming a flame that the moths couldn't resist. He had to fight several duels with other hussars who had heard of his skills and needed to test their own skills against his. Any hesitation on his part would have been interpreted as cowardice, and even though all his energy was focussed on the unmasking of his tormentor, he was compelled to accept each challenge as it was issued.

Not as satisfactory as the first book, but still enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Napoleonic Music

I'm getting very technical with my blog after seeing what could be done on other sites. I've found a couple of stirring musical numbers from both sides of the Peninsula War for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

(Appropriately, the first one is titled Roast Beef of Old England!)

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