Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Up Guards, and At 'Em

Lesson 1: Don't f*&k with the Household Guard

Lesson 2: Don't forget Lesson 1.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

...Snatched from the Jaws of Victory!

verb: flub; 3rd person present: flubs; past tense: flubbed; past participle: flubbed; gerund or present participle: flubbing
  1. 1.
    botch or bungle (something).
    "she glanced at her notes and flubbed her lines"
noun: flub; plural noun: flubs
  1. 1.
    a thing badly or clumsily done; a blunder.
    "the textbooks are littered with flubs"

Like the dog in the picture above, I had the plan (and, boy, was it a good one!) but in the excitement of the moment something turned a sure fire victory into an embarrassing draw. That something was a failure to sequence my attack properly. I had it all worked out, but when it came to my turn I got a rush of blood to the head and failed to carry out the attack in the proper sequence, resulting in the tabletop equivalent of biting air and getting hit in the ear by a tennis ball.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Robin and I took on Andrew B. and Garry in an 1815 French vs. Prussian game of 1500 points a side. I faced Garry with 2 infantry divisions of 2 brigades each, and part of a light cavalry division. I don't play against Prussians very often and have only gradually got to know Andrew's OB; for instance, I know that the chaps in blue coats with the iron cross flags are easy pickings and that his little cavalry units can be a pain in the ar$e.

Garry faced me with a similar amount of Andrew's troops and cavalry, though he had a foot battery and a horse battery whereas I had two foot batteries (not that they really did anything for me!).I decided that my main thrust would either come from my centre or right, with my left carrying out a blocking role, while my 4th brigade would be the reserve, ready to exploit any breakthrough. My cavalry were there purely to keep an eye on their Prussian counterparts. The battle was going to be won or lost by the infantry.

My leading units

Closely followed by the rest

Robin's divisions

The enemy!

My central brigade moves forward, while the right hand brigade peels off to the right

The reserve follows behind

My left hand blocking force moves up in the middle

The cavalry fans out to the right flank (Lots of direct sunlight on that part of the board, sorry)

Robin moves ahead

My line firms up in the centre.

The right flank brigade approaches the broken ground. The light infantry battalion approaches the BUA in preparation to occupy it, while the reserve makes up its mind which direction it will go.

The cavalry fan out, with the hussars sheltering behind the crest of the hill, away from Garry's guns. The lancers were on the edge of extreme range, anyway, and survived a ranging shot.

En avant, mes enfants!

Aerial view: blocking force on the left, central attacking force has just passed the ploughed field, the BUA is occupied, the broken ground is being traversed on the right, and the reserve is set to follow

Robin gears up for a successful brigade charge on the Prussian-occupied BUA to his front.

An aerial view of Robin's line to my left, just before his charge.

My blocking brigade doing its work well. As each battalion approached, the Prussian guns fired on them. While it inflicted casualties, the plan was to absorb them but tire out the gunners, so that their fire class dropped. Note the 2 battalions on the right in square and closed column, respectively, due to the pesky little landwehr cavalry unit lurking between  the infantry.

This is where I decided to bring the hammer down. My best units are in the brigade of 4 battalions on the right of the picture. The battalion in closeded column with the red disorder dice behind it was supposed to be the unit which moved ahead prior to the charge in order to block an opportunity charge by the cavalry.

The artillery on their flank was positioned to keep the Prussians in the woods on their toes...

...while the reserves changed direction in order to exploit the upcoming charge.

Meanwhile, the light infantry have exited the BUA and the rest of the brigade has advanced, formed into an anchored line, or l'ordre mixte, to provide firepower while remaining in an anti-cavalry formation.

All set for the big charge next turn!

Robin's artillery suffer a setback after being attacked from the woods, threatening a split in his line!

In what could have been a game-winning move, Robin's dragoons launched a charge at the nearest Prussian column. They formed square with practiced ease. The follow-up infantry charge was flubbed with the square surviving and Robin's infantry being counter-attacked! 

Winding up for the big charge

The charge is declared!
I moved a blocking force into the woods to prevent interference from the Prussian line, but forgot to move the all-important anti-cavalry closed column on the far side!

This is as far as the brigade got before the cavalry declared its counter-charge.

And the cavalry contact the left hand column. It wasn't much of a combat, seeing as they were only landwehr rated cavalry vs. veteran rated infantry, but it stopped the whole charge in its tracks, forcing the infantry back to its starting point with extra disorders. Note the closed column on the left, standing still with their thumbs up their ar$es!

To make up far their failure, the closed column charges the landwehr column directly in front. The Prussians counter-charge and they meet in the middle.

The French win a Pyrrhic victory, but are now stuck out in no-mans'-land.

On the left, my flank column charge the guns, hoping to force the counter-charge from Garry's infantry, or spook the gunners into fleeing. Garry did neither, electing to stand and fire with the column adding its own fire to the defense.

The result? Run away!

That was the signal for the Prussians to attack. One column charges down off the hill to force the battalion in square to break. 

Another column charges into the flank of the negligent closed column, causing it to retreat.

The victorious Prussians then go battle-mad, carrying on into the left-most column of the brigade that failed its charge...

...and smash it!
Luckily Garry had a fog-of-war moment, too, and forgot to ask for a divisional morale test, as I now had 30% of one division in bad morale.

The victorious Prussians finish their berserk rush just short of the flank of the next column in line! Things look crook in Tallarook!

Garry follows up his success with another charge by the 2 columns dead ahead. I meet his charge with a volley, which queers his pitch. The resulting melee is a draw with both sides withdrawing with disorders. Probably the best outcome for me!

Next I consolidate the line, bringing the reserves up to take the front line, while the units for the unsuccessful charge withdraw to the ploughed field to regroup.
The focus then shifts to the right flank. 

Garry started slipping his cavalry sideways to my right.

That gives room for me to advance my anchored line. I planned to march up and blast his cavalry if he didn't move them, but now I have an inviting flank to exploit!

Garry's cavalry move further around my flank, but I move my cavalry in a dance, matching his moves.

His plan was to send a cavalry column down my flank to roll up my line. If he'd tried, I think my cavalry would have left a strawberry jam squish mark where his column was, as his cavalry were all landwehr rated!

While the cavalry dance around each other, I wheel my line out of formation to fire on the flank of the nearest Prussian line. The Prussians survive the ensuing morale check, so the lines in front declare a firefight, which end inconclusively. My attempt at cracking his flank failed!

That signaled the end of the game, as Robin had had his flank turned by Andrew's cavalry and one of his divisions were giving way. While I'd rescued my position after my earlier ineptitude, I was in a fairly commanding position on Garry's flank by the end. However, I should have been exploiting a nice big hole in Garry's centre by this stage, not faffing around his flank. Thanks to my earlier flub (see above for definition!) the game lasted longer and Garry had an extra life. He certainly punished my mistake good and proper, though could have been in a commanding position if he'd remembered to ask for divisional morale, so I dodged a bullet there.

Another entertaining Saturday afternoon, I think all would agree!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Waterloo 200th Anniversary

I didn't know it was 200 years old!

I thought it was the Eurovision winner for 1974. Maybe it's a traditional folksong that ABBA re-intepreted. Who knows?


But seriously, folks, I just found out today that there was an Australian on the Duke of Wellington's staff at the Great Battle. How about that?

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Lesser Bonapartes - Podcast review

I'm having a lot of fun listening to the back catalogue of a relatively new history podcast, The Lesser Bonapartes. While I listen to a lot of history podcasts, some of them are a fairly good cure for insomnia. This one is not. It's a free-wheeling, slightly shambolic, very funny look at history with the occasional use of naughty words.

Dan and Glen are history enthusiasts and it really tells. Their delivery belies the research they must have done prior to each episode as they fanboy their way through the narrative, or dump on the sources for giving us only a tantalising half-glimpse at the real story (I'm looking at you, Herodotus!). The despairing delivery of the tale of the Hellenic Successor States is hilarious as our hosts almost admit defeat in trying to work out what the f*ck was going on!

They seem to run the gamut from ancient through to early modern history. At the moment I'm listening to their take on the Siege of Vienna in 1683.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Napoleon's Neapolitans (Say that 3 times fast!)

Here's the first line battalion in my Neapolitan project. I initially intended for them to be the 1st battalion of the 1st Regiment, but realised I'd used too dark a shade of blue on their facings. So instead of the 1st, they are the 10th Regiment, which was part of the 4th Division at Tolentino. 

I seem to have made a couple of mistakes; that is the poms-poms should follow the French pattern, ie. green, blue, orange and violet, and the elites' epaulets should have white or yellow crescents respectively. The drummers uniform and the voltiguer's pokalem are entirely speculative. I don't think these faults are going to make me go back and start again and will probably continue them on in subsequent battalions just for consistency's sake.

The prancing horse finial caused a bit of a headache. My sculpting skills aren't up to it; the results look more like a sitting bear than a prancing horse!

These are, of course, from Italeri set 6066. I have a love/hate feeling towards this set. I don't like their lack of chins, the way the backpacks, greatcoats and some cartridge cases seem to grow out of their backs and the drunken sway the NCO displays. However, I do love the details like the creases of the fabric especially around the knees and elbows. The buttons and piping details are rather exaggerated and therefore easy to pick out with the brush. I gave one of the voltiguers a head swap using the Lancier Bleu pokalem-wearing heads I still have in the pile, just for a bit of variety.

These figures turned out better in these photos than the Velites did, as I took them during the daytime. The light is a lot softer than the harsh flash-light on the Velites and therefore the contrast is not as pronounced. I also tried dry-brushing the lower legs with the terrain base gel to make them look even more campaign-grimy. I quite like the result!

So it's on with the other 2 battalions of the 10th and then the rest of the army. Francesco of Franznap has some Chevau-leger on the drawing board, so I'm waiting with bated breath for those to reach the production stage. I may even suggest that he produce the Neapolitan finial and cravat as a separate conversion piece. It would certainly be preferable to my lumpy attempt!

Franznap's Neapolitan Chevau-Leger in pre-production phase.
Image from Franznap Miniature Shop

Speaking of Franznap, Francesco got in touch with me recently with another extremely generous proposition; he's willing to send me whatever I want for the cost of postage in return for painting his figures and giving an honest review! He's also featured my work on the Facebook page, which is jolly nice of him. Anyway, this is by way of a declaration that although I'll be receiving the odd package from Franznap, I am in no way receiving payment for positive reviews. The quality speaks for itself!

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