Friday, 18 May 2018

The Battle of Yeah But

Kevin came up yesterday for our Thursday afternoon bash, back to War and Conquest after Bolt Action last week. I was looking forward to this battle and had decided to completely change my tactics, this time I was going to attack the enemy centre not go for the flanks. To do this I took two veteran phalanxes, two elephants and some light units to watch my flanks, I also went overboard with four skirmish units when I normally use at most three. The enemy, Carthaginians, had the usual solid line of hoplite style infantry, a warband and more skirmishers than me but in smaller units, as they deployed I had not altered my thoughts about going for the centre. The terrain suited me as well as it closed the field of battle down and was more friendly to me than Kevin, my flanks should be fine.

Seleucids on the left, Carthaginians on the right.
 

I advanced my left and centre while moving my right back towards the phalanxes to better protect them, I threw my skirmishers forward and although they took heavy casualties on the left they stood their ground and eventually drove off the enemy. No one shot at the elephants so again job done. On the right the enemy fell back from my large skirmish unit which effectively took up the attention of three Carthaginians skirmish units, thus keeping them from my battle line.

My left in real danger.

I had planned to smash the two elephants into the Gallic warband but it sidestepped them and I mucked up my attack so only the Thracians went in minus pachyderm support, this unit looked smart in their black tunics and white shields armed with the dangerous rhomphaia, this was their first test, and it was disastrous, they fled back to Thrace with me cursing them all the way, but this now took the warband away from the clash in the centre and I could turn an elephant on them.

Nellie saves the day as the struggle in the centre intensifies.

Meanwhile my phalanxes had hit the Carthaginian centre and I lost my momentum, the African infantry are incredibly hard to budge and although the Purple phalanx kept winning their opponents would not break, my top phalanx the Whites had an even tougher fight and it swung both for and against them, I even managed to throw my mercenary peltasts into the fight but still got nowhere and eventually Italian spearmen joined in so a real slaughter ensued with no one giving in.


The elephants rule.

 My elephants had dispersed the Carthaginian cavalry and had now hit the warband and a unit of Numidians and knocked them both back, the Purple phalanx had vanquished their foes and my Thorakitai were about to be charged by Italian Hoplites, the Whites and Mercenaries held on by the skin of their teeth, and ................ that was it, we had to stop.


We are left with an interesting what if.......
 This is usually the part where each player gives his account "Yeah but" of how the battle would have ended, but at the point we had reached it was balanced on a knife edge too close to call. Neither of us seemed to be as concentrated as we usually are, several rules were missed which could have swung combats one way or the other, my head particularly had turned to jelly, and time had run away from us. Kevin had to call it a day in the end and return to HQ, so a frustrating end to a vicious struggle.

I do wonder if the author of the Carthaginian list had a touch of 'Hannibal Fever' which causes you to forget that the army won because it was led by one of the most successful of Ancient generals not because it was simply unbeatable which leads to coming up with an army which is damn hard to beat on the tabletop, even when not led by Hannibal or his alter ego. I have found this akin to "Rommel Fever" and even the more general "German Fever" or dare I say it "Roman Fever" although obviously it is correct in this form (tongue is in cheek), I am sure there are others. I have only a cursory knowledge of the Carthaginians but their fighting capabilities in WAC seem a tad overpowered. Maybe chariots and elephants will do it next time.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Ripping Yarn

We arrived at the club to find Rob with case on case of 'stuff', the table was set up as the village of Nateby, Lancashire, 1938 when the Civil War broke and turned the country on its head. It transpired that the Bishop of London had 'acquired' the Crown Jewels and split them up for safety. Some were carried North by Anglican League members who were cornered in Nateby by the British Union of Fascists, during the firefight the crown jewels were secreted about the village as it was known friendly forces were on the way. All but one of the Anglican guards were killed.

I took on my role as Colonel, the Honourable, Lord George Black VC with three platoons of regular royalist troops, helped by the dastardly Gestapo agent Herr Flick and a platoon of the Volunteer German Legion. We were to regain the royal regalia for the King. Also heading for the village were all sorts of adventurers, rebels and downright scum all intent on gaining loot. I was unsure who was who so shot at anyone who came close while scrabbling in the walls and hedgerows to uncover the jewels. The Germans began by gunning down some Lefty mercenaries and Soviet advisers led by the traitor Lady Felicity Lymehurst last seen jumping from a train in distant parts to escape from the clutches of Lord Black and a date in the Tower. Felicity was not her old self and she and her acolytes retreated to a nearby barn and stayed there for the whole game, terrified to come out.

The heroic Lord Black VC and his trusty batman.





The German Legion alongside the Cameronians


My regulars I posted in a couple of buildings in the path of Simon's Rebel troops and managed to hold them off with accurate machinegun fire. The Germans had found several of the crown jewels but had lost quite a few men so Herr Flick ordered a withdrawal, this left a platoon of Cameronians to hold my left flank, which they did manfully scything down a hardened, if mentally challenged, commissar and his men, however these men were just too stupid to run and merely went to ground. All the communists were now basically out of the picture but being still in the area meant I could not risk pulling back the Jocks.

Soviet advisers and Lady Felicity, booo.


More Commies. They only found cheap paste imitation jewels.

I now got some handy reinforcements of Kenyan Rifles and as I spotted Lord and Lady Strickland and their estate workers carrying what was obviously a wounded man I set after them with the intention of interrogating the unfortunate as to exactly where the jewels were hidden. The workers dropped the body and ran for the nearest building, Simon got to him first only to find he was dead, so I now set the Kenyans on the nearest Rebel troops, I won the fight but did not deal out enough damage to force the enemy to run.

Blue Shirts and Police along with Inspector Foyle.

Boss, boss the plane, the plane.

It was now that the drone of an aircraft engine was heard and down hurtled an Me108, managing to miss decapitating the Kenyans and landing near Herr Flick and his survivors loaded with loot. I ordered all my troops to follow me as we ran for the plane, this of course was against the grain for a VC but the mission came first. Simon tried several times to hit the plane but even with holes appearing nothing serious was damaged as Black, Flick and the accumulated wealth were pressed into the tiny cockpit and the plane lunged forward. As Nateby disappeared below a shadow fell over the cockpit, a Gloster Gladiator had turned up, so close, but wait, it was an escort, we sped off into the sunset.

A great little game and in keeping with the turmoil of a Very British Civil War tied in with characters used by Rob in other games in the back of beyond. I have always wanted to give this a go. There were some really nice figures amongst the many factions and the added flavour of an armoured car, armoured train and the aircraft really set the scene. Oh, and did I mention that in the Me108 was a vast haul of crown jewels which gave Lord Black the win.




Kickstarters

How do you feel about Kickstarters, I don't like them. Once again I will probably find myself in a minority, I am not a patient man when it comes to my wargaming and I have fallen foul of this trait a few times. Look at the fifty odd aircraft, all repainted, I have sitting around for Wings of Glory (aka Wings of War) or the numerous star-ships for X-Wing when you can only 'field' at most half a dozen in a dogfight. Not to mention, which is daft because I will, the complete cowboy town of Carefree when a small street was enough. I want my stuff now, not drip fed over several years.

It seems you cannot escape them nowadays, I was under the mistaken impression that the excellent Galloping Major FIW range was complete, but I was wrong, on asking where I could find the French regulars I was told they would be out shortly, as a Kickstarter, as will other additions to the range. I may therefore have to look elsewhere for these figures mean time but will use them when I get around to the SYW project. The Jacobite range which set me on the path to 18C warfare from Flags of War will not be out until October (if on time), and then further Kickstarters will kick in for the rest of the range, which will be very comprehensive, so a very long wait to get everything you want.

A friend pointed me towards a project involving hard plastic figures for the SYW, they want £40,000, I have no idea what it costs to produce a range of figures so have no idea whether that is realistic or not. Like many or all(?)  Kickstarters if the money is not produced neither is the product.

I also wonder at the effect it has on suppliers who do bring out a range of figures for a given period and then find themselves losing out as people buy the bulk from a Kickstarter and the additional odds and ends which are not required in large numbers, but give character and life to an army from a traditional manufacturer, who of course loses out on bulk sales.

Am I wrong but is the thinking, I want to produce something but don't want to take any risk, so I will get the money from other people, if it works then good news for everyone, if not then nothing lost, apart from the people who put money where there mouths are to get something they wanted.

Anyway, I joined two Kickstarters and neither is on time, one may well run over by a year or more.

This is a personal view and no punters egos were harmed in the writing (I hope), all the ideas are copyright to me, were sourced organically and ethically, are allergen free, non-gender specific, blah, blah, blah..............

Monday, 14 May 2018

A Convoluted Process

The original plan as you know was to finish my Seleucids this year and call it a day apart from the odd tidy up until at least next year, money, commonsense and the missus dictating that I did not need any more wee sojers. Well as of this weekend that is out the window. I'll find the cash, I have never been known for commonsense and, well we will leave that one alone.

As I wait patiently for the last of my cavalry to turn up I have had a bad week with nothing to paint after years of having something on the tray, I even dredged up five figures from my lead molehill, I am unlike other wargamers in this. I saw the Flags of War Kickstarter with beautiful figures for the Jacobite Rebellion and suddenly thought what a great idea what with me being a Jock and also enjoying rank on rank of red uniforms and fluttering Union flags, two birds with one stone. I then got cold feet as the figures will not be out until October and only if the Kickstarter is successful, a very comprehensive range is to follow if it is, but now we are looking at years away, so that's been put on the back burner.

I managed to get maybe one of the last copies of Muskets and Tomahawks for the French and Indian Wars along with the cards and have kept them in a drawer for a rainy day, this interest was mainly fired up at the club by Rob Martin and his excellent scenarios along with some beautiful figures brought by Rob and some of the other lads. I decided after some soul searching and research to put this game to the top of the pile.


However as I looked into the FIW period I couldn't ignore the Seven Years War of which it was part. Big battles, lovely figures, lots of army choices what more could I ask for, one last, big wargaming hurrah which could last years and possibly never end. As you know I got the 'Black Powder' rules in order to join Kevin with his Wars of the Spanish Succession, I also downloaded the 'Last Argument of Kings' to go with them, this has oodles of eye candy (and not much else for a tenner) for the SYW and attendant periods, so perhaps even the rule question had been sorted. In case it was not I have 'Honours of War' on the way and know but have never seen 'Beneath the Lily Banners' from the League of Augsburg.


So, that puts me on this course, finish the Seleucids, build forces for Muskets & Tomahawks, then jump into the SYW (28mm) for the foreseeable future, while restructuring my Cowboys and adding a couple more vehicles to Bolt Action. But don't put money on this yet.

I have also started buying used books from Amazon and have a few Osprey titles for the FIW on the way, most at half price, I can see me using this option more for the SYW.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

George's Marvellous Day Out

Possibly over egging it a bit there. I have decided to get out and about a bit more at weekends during the summer, or if we are lucky to get a good weekend. Last week during the beautiful bank holiday weather we went to a food festival in Lancaster, a nice day out, some excellent 'street' food and a Bubblegum mocktail, delicious. Anyway we have been blessed with another lovely weekend, so into Lancaster again yesterday to pick up some olives and cheese at the market and today it was off to Carlisle Castle.

There has been a fortress or castle at Carlisle since Roman times, the remains of which are underneath the present structure, it was easy to get to and there is a big car park where you can sit for the whole day for a mere £2.50. It is also close to the town should you wish to visit, I don't recommend that.



As you would expect the site has seen many sieges by the Scots through the centuries, usually unsuccessful and been visited by many important personages, David I King of Scots died there, Mary Queen of Scots stayed for a couple of months and the famous Border Reiver Kinmont Willie made a daring escape from the place. Edward I used Carlisle as a base for his forays into Scotland. It is perhaps best remembered as an outpost of the Jacobite's during the '45 Rebellion, the 'old hen coop' as the Duke of Cumberland described it surrendered after only a week of bombardment, its occupants shackled and imprisoned in extremely harsh conditions, soon to be joined by further Jacobite's captured after the Battle of Culloden. At least 31 of these unfortunates were hung, drawn and beheaded on Carlisle's Gallows Hill the rest sent to the colonies.



The castle is also home to the Border Regiment which has gone through many changes and amalgamations from the 34th and 55th Foot in 1881 to end up as the 3rd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's Lancashire and Border), now there's a mouthful and a sad end. Nonetheless the museum is crammed full for such a small building and if you are in the area I recommend a visit, in fact militarily it was better than my visit to the politically correct Army Museum in London.

28mm Napoleonics, beautiful exhibit.
But, and there is always a but, on entering the museum we were hit by a large board proclaiming the role of women in the regiment, from camp followers of old to modern day soldiers, and there was a lovely lass with two stripes smiling from the poster to make sure you got the message. "Hurry up and look at the exhibition" we were told as it was about to get crowded enthused the doorkeep, we duly made our way upstairs. The small room was almost empty apart from some photographs of families, wives and children of officers enjoying foreign climes I suspect in the '50's and '60's. Nothing of course from the camp followers etc. of which the poster boasted, we were invited to pretend about the importance of women to the regiment despite the exhibition being completely bankrupt of any proof.


"You there, the man in the blue T-shirt.................

We were fortunate to witness an inspection of veterans and young cadets accompanied by a very smart band on the parade ground during our visit. Despite everything you cannot stop your heartbeat quicken as boots crunch gravel and standards are borne aloft while stirring tunes are played, good on the young ones and the old grognards.

A wee present to myself.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Did You Remember the AP?

Put the final touch to a few priority maps this morning with plenty of time to set up a game of Bolt Action, not enough time however to give a lot of thought to the game so a simple BA scenario with three objectives to fight over. Four infantry squads with three transports for both sides and I decided to have some armour involved, so the British got an M10 and a Cromwell, the Germans a PzIV and a Marder III, as these shoot outs can be deadly I decided that if one side lost both vehicles then another would turn up from a reserve. I needn't have worried as things turned out.

The infantry rush forward.
 I decided to go all out on my left flank while holding off on the right, I had a hope that the left could eventually turn and contest the centre position. things started off well and I got into a good position on the left hand objective and got within striking distance of the right. I had one M3 with a squad which for a wee while I had thought could make a run for the centre. The German armour came on very quickly and took up station opposite my right, I countered with the M10 and Cromwell, my wish with the tanks was to knock out the enemy and move against any troops in the centre.

The strong British left.

Shells screamed across the battlefield but apart from knocking out one halftrack all I managed was to set two fires, which were snuffed out very quickly, and damage some paintwork, the Germans only managed hits on the paintwork, even my PIAT which was almost under the PzIV's tracks managed to bounce off.

This move didn't work out, but the Hanomag escaped.
 Kevin pushed his men forward very quickly but I countered and scored many more kills than he did, his men also failed several morale test which meant they went to ground instead of following orders. I pulled back from going for the centre as it looked like the tanks would be unable to provide support but I did not do it fast enough and lost an M3. The Germans had built up a nice little Festung around the centre objective so there was no way I could get it. In move 5 I suffered a bit but the German squads suffered far worse, it was a British win with two objectives held.

The centre.
 A good little game and it is always nice to get the troops on the table, it was just a shame that we had left our armour piercing ammo behind but lucky this also afflicted the Germans as well.

The end is nigh.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Frustration II: Talavera

Rob had deserted us again for Club Night and selfishly taken himself off to enjoy the delights of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Stuart stepped into the breach and brought an 'epic' Napoleonic boardgame which could supposedly keep eight players in play.

We could only muster four, Ryan and I versus Stuart and Julian, I would be the French CinC. The game is a block game and the rules the same as the American War of Independence series, albeit they are done by a different manufacturer. The battlefield, Talavera, is divided up into three sectors for each side, Left, Centre and Right, you have several cards in your hand which allow you to move troops in these sectors, 2, 3 or more units. These are complimented by what I would call Tactical Cards which can enhance your movement or combat stats or again increase the amount of units you can activate in a turn.

The main problem with this system is that the cards dictate the battle not you, if you do not get Centre cards then your whole centre simply does nothing even if you realise it is now time to put pressure on the enemy. What usually happens is you play towards your initial hand, so if this is attack/probe/move on the Left that is what you do and to try and change this in any meaningful way once the action has started is well nigh impossible, and even should you manage this your cards for the new sector may once again dry up and you are left hanging, having achieved very little.

So how did the battle go, well Ryan commanded my left and we put most of our effort there as we all knew from history that the Spanish on the Allied right should fold under a sustained attack. Our first assault piled up French dead in front of the Spanish line and two redoubts containing artillery, we had to move to get into range and then found ourselves under severe fire before we could build up our attack. I managed to shift two cavalry units left hoping to help while the rest of my army remained supine in their start positions. We threw desperate attacks in on the Redoubts and for a moment drove the enemy out, but only for a moment, we could not get troops up fast enough to take advantage of the gap between the Spaniards and the British. After a while we completely ran out of steam as it was impossible to get reserves up.


As the witching hour approached we managed to get a hand of cards which allowed, at last, my centre and left to go hell for leather at the enemy, we missed out on gaining at least three victory points as the enemy managed to slip away and survive the onslaught, but we had shot our bolt or rather played the last card.

The experience was good and we had a laugh as we traded insults in Spanish or French accents and whistled 'God Save the King' or the 'Marseillaise' as appropriate. Although Stuart and Julian managed to almost get the 15 victory points required for a win and had at least five or so more than we did, I shrugged my shoulders, held up my hands and pointed to the 15 part of the wording with as much sympathy as I could muster. As that old French general said, it may be magnificent but it is not war.

I scrounged about my bits box the other night and found five figures I decided to paint, two Greeks, a Roman woman and two German officers. I also almost spent £50 on some Mexicans I really didn't need, they were from Black Scorpion's Tombstone Kickstarter but instead of the half dozen I wanted I would have had to buy the whole bundle, about eighteen guys, I drew back just in time. I still want to add a few more figures to my Dead Man's Hand stuff so maybe that is how I will fill my time up for now. I have ordered up some MDF sheets as I have decided to base my DMH houses and their boardwalks rather than have them all loose, Alan at Hoka Hey is cutting them for me, I actually have far more buildings than you need for the game.

Right, onwards and upwards, coffee and back to maps, a few city maps of Posen to do today for 'Panzers in the defence of Festung Posen 1945' this involves some city blocks but also having to draw up some plan views for a Tiger, StuG III and JS2, those will be interesting.

Ongoing, North Korea military.
Ongoing, Franco-Prussian War

Friday, 4 May 2018

Combat Fatigue

After the high drama of our last game I suggested a Dark Ages set to with no giant beasts, wheeled blades or large pointy sticks, to this end we went with Romano-British (Kevin) and Saxons (me). These two armies are similar in that they are 'shieldwall' forces however the Romano-British have a slight edge as they have access to better equipment i.e. large shields.

We deployed unit for unit and as the lines built up I decided to go for the British right flank and hold back my right, the enemy had most of their heavy infantry in the centre and right with cavalry, massed archers and low grade troops on their left.


Saxons on the left, Romano-British on the right.

Saxons

Romano-British


As the battle started I advanced aggressively with my extreme left and although I drove away the skirmishers they did not rout and disappear which upset my timetable of swinging my cavalry in against the British line. This left things to my mercenary Franks, you know the ones, so I was a bit unsure as I charged them in against some Milites, however they had come through for me in their last game and sure enough they did so again. Meanwhile the unit to their right had been hit by the Saxon mercenaries in the hire of the British and to my surprise crumbled just as quick as the Franks' opponents, I lost my Atheling with this unit, so I was one leader and two Initiative points down. I was not unduly worried however as this tit for tat meant the Saxons could not turn against my line and leave the Franks and cavalry in their rear.


The Saxons burst through and the Franks are about to vanquish their enemy.
On the right flank I had now decided to advance and hopefully sweep away the polyglot forces to my front, I had to move my skirmish screen from in front of the unarmoured Duguth to give them space to charge the archers but they took horrendous casualties as they approached, enough to make me wonder if they could beat the archers in close combat. The Ceorls I set off to meet the Pedyts with missile support, confident I could win the fight, if not it was on the extreme edge of the battlefield and would have no effect on the overall result.


My right advances.


Things had slowed down on my left as we both reorganised, I had had to commit my King's bodyguard Gedriht against the British Dux and his Comitatus, the unit had been ground down by javelins and I was asking a lot, I would have retired them but it was just too dangerous. The lads fought well but were routed, however they surprised both Kevin and myself by rallying and fighting back once again, over the body of their dead king, before eventually dispersing, both my main leaders and all my initiative points were now gone. This tough stance again stopped the British from turning in on my line. I now threatened the Saxons with the cavalry while keeping them from actual harm and brought the Franks back into the fray. The enemy reserve cavalry had turned up and got too close to the victorious warriors and the Franks hurled themselves at the cavalry and broke them. My options were running out in the centre and I set my second Gedriht unit towards some Milites on a nearby hill hoping for a quick victory.



Back on my right the British Comitatus cavalry had crashed into my young Geoguth, but the boys had held, however the fight turned into a very hard slog as it was difficult to kill the well armoured horsemen, but eventually they were wiped out, though much too slowly and expensively for my liking. The Pedyts now charged my Ceorls otherwise they would fall to missile fire, again I cursed the gods as my Ceorls ran for the hills despite everything being in their favour. My Duguth had now managed to close with the massed archers and took their revenge, the archers who survived ran for home.


The end.

In the centre the British came off their hill into the Gedriht, an easy victory seemed to loom, but no, it was a stand off. It was time to call a halt, it had been a long, exhausting battle, a real slogfest, Kevin was willing to give me a win but I called a draw, with my Gedriht settling down for what looked like a long struggle on the hill, the units I had left were in poor shape, apart from the Franks and cavalry, to inflict harm on the remaining British, I was not confident of eventual victory.

I sorely missed the power of my Ancient armies where combats do not tend to last long, but here in the Dark Ages the melee can last many turns with the result that the victors are left in no fit state to take on fresh troops. The lack of armour is also a shock to the system, especially for the Saxons, if I had had experience of War and Conquest this is not an army I would have chosen to build, it turned up by default as I played Dux Britanniarum and simply enlarged both sides. I do have a sneaking admiration for them but they are certainly the underdogs of my forces.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Nervous Energy

I have nothing to paint and am reduced to trawling Netflix for entertainment not just background noise, I am fumbling about at the bottom of the barrel. In my game against Matt last month I put my Roman cohorts into testudo formation and had no markers to show this, so I delved into my lead molehill and found some scutum's, so took an hour or so to make some up, two short, sods law. I also decided to go back and weather up the shields on my Thorakitai. I don't normally give my spears etc. a wash but I put that little dark patch between the wood and the point which always looks good, I noticed I had not done that with quite a few units in the new army so sat last night and put it on them all.


Despite my resolution not to start a new period this year I am getting a hankering for the Jacobite Rebellions but cannot find a rule set which is popular for this period, my initial thought is for enough units to fight a decent battle, not twenty men a side but not huge 30-40 men regiments either, anyway it is only an idea. I still have Muskets and Tomahawks to fall back on.

There is a Kickstarter trying to get off the ground on the above period, some beautiful figures but not exactly huge savings if you join in, albeit you do get the odd specialist figure. I have signed up to two Kickstarters, one for a graphic novel on Hannibal and the other the paint palette I mentioned a few posts back. The novel is now five months behind although the author has admitted he went in blind and didn't realise how much effort was involved and the artist had medical problems which prevented him drawing, I am quite satisfied to wait if I get a first class product and sneak peeks show it will be. The palette I am a tad miffed at, seemingly the small palette which most figure painters want is all ready to go but they are not sending them out as they have problems with the XL palette paper, I don't want XL so why not send me my palette?

I have the X-Wing game and it is a very clever space dogfighting game, I stopped buying ships some time ago and have a small force for both the Empire and Rebels which can give excellent games. Fantasy Flight Games have now brought out Second Edition which makes all your previous stuff redundant and binable. The cynic in me says it is a marketing ploy, I could be wrong, I could also pick up a ton of stuff cheap on eBay.

I have a Dark Ages game set up for this afternoon, no fancy tactics, beasts, chariots, long pointy stuff, just mano a mano as the Spanish say.