Sunday, 21 November 2021

Cutler Saves the Day

 An icy start to the day as I had to scrape the car to see where I was going in order to park it at the rear of the drive to accommodate Fran's transport as he was turning up for a game, parking space in the village at the weekend is virtually non existent. 

I had set up an ACW game very loosely based on the first day at Gettysburg, Union cavalry had been swept from a forward ridge and the remnants had retired to meet the oncoming Union infantry while the Rebs reorganised for a further push to cement victory. I had to protect a crossroads which could be used to funnel Federal reinforcements to the area while the Rebs had to capture it. I deployed the Iron Brigade on my right and Cutler's brigade in the centre while the cavalry held the far left, the plan was to advance my right and hold with the centre and left. Fran had three brigades and deployed with one opposite the Iron Brigade while Anderson's brigade held a long front line with the Texan's in reserve behind them, it became apparent that the Reb plan was to punch a hole through the Federal centre and on to the crossroads, the Georgians would weaken the Yankee line and the Texans would administer the coup de grace.

I quickly advanced the Iron Brigade in order to take a small wood to my front, I thought the Rebs would contest this move but in the end they did not. I pushed skirmishers out to cover Cutler's men and cautiously advanced the rest of the brigade and took up a holding position with the small 95th Pa. in reserve. The cavalry dismounted and moved forward to take Church Ridge which I thought might have been a target of one of the Confederate brigades, but I was wrong again and the troopers hunkered down behind the stone walls supported by a battery of rifles close by.

The opening volleys.

The Iron Brigade advances.

Union cavalry make a mistake.

A mass of Grey heads for Cutler's brigade.

 The enemy centre moved forward fairly quickly and I wondered if Cutler could hold long enough for my right flank to win. As the smoke from the first volleys cleared I saw my skirmish line standing rooted to the spot trading shots with the Rebs, more and more of the enemy joined the firefight but nothing seemed to phase the 95th NY and 7th Indiana in harms way. General Hood himself moved to the front and shouted encouragement to his troops but to no avail, a battery of Union Napoleons behind the blue line kept up a steady fire on the mass of Rebs and added to their casualties.

I now got carried away as the Iron Brigade got into position to open up on the Georgians to their front and looked like winning the firefight, with most of the Rebs in action in the centre of the battlefield I gingerly advanced the cavalry from behind their stonewall to pressure the Confederate right. Not a good idea as it turned out and they retired again as soon as they could. Still the Union centre held with the skirmishers out front and taking everything which was thrown at them, a Reb battery which could have been a problem ran out of ammunition and retired to replenish. Just as Fran tried to continue his advance General Anderson was shot from his horse and his brigade ground to a halt while his replacement was notified, this was to happen three more times during the course of the fight as each successor lasted only a very short time in the front line. The Texans were also to lose their commander later just as they needed to push forward, only the presence of General Hood managed to stave off disaster. The Union did lose Meredith of the Iron Brigade but the effect was only temporary as the Federal right plunged forward and the Georgians broke.

The Iron Brigade attacks.

The Rebs flounder.

Cutler under pressure.

 With his left shattered Fran made an all out effort to at last break the Union centre, the crossroads was so close, the annoying skirmishers, well one of them, had been sent to the rear in rout and a Union regiment which had broken through the Reb right had been surrounded and despatched, so things looked good. The boys in blue however were not done, Cutler lost a couple of regiments but the 95th Pennsylvania refused to break and held up the Reb thrust, behind them a new Union line was forming supported by the Napoleon battery. Fran looked over his shattered regiments and brigades and called a halt to the needless slaughter.

Confederate High Water Mark.

Confederate left disappears.

Since we started playing Johnny Reb we have had some excellent games but this one was a roller coaster, the Union skirmish line just refused until the last minute to give way, then as the Rebs reorganised to follow up their regiments took frightful casualties which in the end wore them down. The loss of four commanders for Anderson's brigade also slowed the attack and made it almost impossible to keep up momentum. We both had our share of luck at the right and wrong moments but I think the Union just pipped the post on that score, I certainly seemed to punch the air more times than Fran.

Friday, 19 November 2021

All quiet etc.

 Its been a fortnight since I put fingers to keys, no reason other than I just could not find the enthusiasm. I haven't really been busy either but most of what I have been doing is just pottering around finding stuff to do.

I finished my second Blood Bowl team using mainly contrast paints and I am impressed with them, I already use a red, white and blue for my SYW uniforms but delved into some others for the fantasy figures. I have been passing away my empty evenings now with the odd game online and the other day I traveled to darkest Darlington for a couple of games with my son, surprisingly I won both, a bit of fun for a few hours and I enjoyed it.

I have had other games, a couple of weeks ago before the lethargy struck I played an early war game of Chain of Command on the Eastern Front against Simon's Russians. It was the first day of Barbarossa and I had to fight through a village and capture a bridge. My platoon was backed up by a Panzerjager I while the Russians brought a T-26, I laid down a preliminary barrage and the Russians suffered under it not managing to bring many defenders to the dance. I laid out some decent fields of fire and Russian casualties mounted while their morale fell. At the bell it was obvious the Germans would take the objective, Simon has not played a lot of Chain of Command and we forgot/misunderstood a couple of rules as it has been a while. I am not sure CoC is suited to a club night where you get three hours, unless both sides know what they are doing and some of the donkey work, choosing supports etc. is done before hand otherwise the faffing about and terrain building takes away 30-45 minutes.

 This weeks game was Seven Years War, a large French vs Prussian bash, Dan had added several more battalions and it was quite a large game, it looked really nice. I was in charge of the French left and ploughed forward as I outnumbered the Prussians opposite, the pressure was certainly on but they just kept hanging on, I did not manage the breakthrough I was looking for. Elsewhere our centre for a time looked in danger of collapsing but in the end it too held while a large slugfest was happening on the far right of the line. A real shame we ran out of time to get a definitive result, living with a draw.

 I have a game this Sunday, American Civil War, a meeting engagement somewhere in Virginia, Hood's Division against the First Division, First Corps. I also have plans for the weekend after that when Matt Smith visits, Dead Man's Hand on the Friday night, Operation Chariot on the Saturday and an Ancient game on Sunday where I will get the opportunity to take the Seleucids against the Twelfth under their new, temporary legate.

 On the painting side I finished off the four most expensive figures I have ever bought and now wish to forget the pain. I also put the finishing touches to my iron girder bridge, I decided to give it a wooden plank floor and I think it looks the better for it, I might add the odd tuft of grass on the sides, weeds get everywhere after all but that's it.

 I am looking at Byzantine forces of 900-1000AD, my guide is the old GW book 'Beyond the Golden Gate' which is an excellent source for wargamers. I am also of course looking at other sources but by god it is confusing so many Greek terms for basically the same units and they seem to change over time as well. As usual, nothing concrete which we wargamers require otherwise it plays on our mind and it only takes one person to say "yes, but......." Well, I am past all that now, the army will be as historically correct as I can make it and get it to fit into the War and Conquest universe and damn the nay sayers.

Before launching this army, and I could still be persuaded to jump to Italian Wars or the Thirty Years War I want to add more to my SYW collection, Front Rank stuff is still not available at the moment and Crusader figures which I have heard good things about do unit deals with only one standard bearer, note the fact most battalions carried two, duh. Having been stung by the French Connection I don't want to spend an extra £6 just to get a standard bearer. I await an email from them. Now that I know I am adding to this small collection I will also get some suitable buildings at last.

Right that is it, no mapping for now as waiting on authors to get back to me to finalise four projects, i do have one on the American War of Independence but again, cannot proceed until the author makes his mind up on how many maps he wants. Kind of hoping for a bit of peace until after the festive season but I know there are at least two more projects in the pipeline going to land at some point.

Now, what on earth are Menaulatoi and how do I represent them............

Thursday, 4 November 2021

An interesting week

 Last shall be first. My second outing of the Seven Years War set of rules 'Honours of War', it has been a long time coming, Covid didn't help of course. Rob wanted another shot at the game and I set up a small action based very loosely on Eutaw Springs from the American War of Independence only this time the Americans had morphed into the French. The British held a long single line while the French had two lines deployed and slightly outnumbered the British, each side was organised into three brigades, although the French had cavalry on both flanks the British right was anchored on Eutaw Springs and was therefore safe from outflanking, the left was not so safe but had the only British cavalry on the field.

 On rolling for the character of our brigadiers Rob got Inspiring and two Dependables, I got two Ditherers and one Dependable, not a good start. I was happy to anchor my right flank on the creek and test the French with my Highland Brigade on my left which I advanced to cut down the room available to the French cavalry, Rob came on aggressively from the start while my right flank commander decided to have a cup of tea, thankfully I had no great plans for him. Before long volleys rang out along the whole line and the French line wavered as some Grenadiers retired from the fray, however their left flank cavalry threw themselves with elan against my right and knocked back the 33rd Foot, in their haste to follow up they took heavy casualties ran and retired from the field. This move caused me to have concern for my flank but against the odds the small brigade held throughout despite mounting French pressure. On my left my cavalry charged and was countercharged, no one won this melee and both sides retired to reorganise, it did however allow me to follow up with the Scots as the French on this flank were in a mess as their attack dissolved into disarray as two brigades became enmeshed. Sadly the Scots halted and failed to take advantage of this meyhem.  

 Suddenly the battle took a turn for the worse for the French, a spectacular round of British volleys sent several battalions to the rear while their brigadiers suffered wounds and their command characteristics plummeted, the British commanders also received wounds and were left with very cautious men in charge of all their brigades. Nonetheless the British recovered better than the French and pushed their advantage as the French force fell apart, one brave grenadier battalion threw themselves at the British in a last hurrah and although beating back their foe, found themselves like the Guard at Waterloo surrounded by British guns and muskets. It was all over.

 An excellent game with a very good set of rules, simple but effective. My highlanders had won back their reputation after their dismal performance in the last game while the 33rd and 23rd/55th combined grenadiers had held my flank against all the odds, the French Grenadiers de France had not lived up to their reputation nor had their Irish and Scots mercenaries. The British had lost one unit while the French had lost five and been very close to their army breaking. 

Previously at the club it had been Muskets and Tomahawks, I had command of a Scottish force on the British right and my job was to prevent the Colonials burning a nearby bridge. I advanced against the provincials with all the disdain of regular troops for civvies with guns and pitchforks and paid the price, I lost my skirmishers and my two regular units were cut to pieces and only just remained on the field of battle. Rob on my left was taking his time to get his irregulars through some woods while staying out of the field of fire of the American musketry. The Yanks meanwhile managed to get to the bridge and set the damn thing on fire before my artillery and at last my musketry drove them back, I could not however get near the bridge to attempt to put the fire out.

 The game took a comical turn as it started to rain, but not heavy enough and too late to put the fire out, more rain did fall but again it did not help,but it was the harbinger of a storm which caused the creek to flood and effectively cut Rob's men off from their objective on the opposite bank. Soaked to the skin and with half my men dead or wounded I could only watch as the damn rebels gathered their wounded and disappeared into the woods job done.

Two days before my defeat in the woods I attended FIASCO in Leeds, it rained cats and dogs and I almost turned back just outside Lancaster, however although the rain did not stop until I got to Leeds it did let up a bit. I had also asked Andy at Last Valley to bring me a tree order so really had to turn up to collect it along with some extra tree's I had asked him to bring. On arrival there seemed to be a bit of a kerfuffle at the car park entrance, when I eventually got to the barrier it merely shouted 'Free Passage' at me, so in I drove.

The show was fine, I had made the decision to wear my mask but on entry I threw caution to the wind and went with the vast majority and went maskless, I have had my two jabs or jags as we Jocks say. The hall was large and airy and not overcrowded which helped my decision. Some of the bigger traders which I expected to see were not there so I was only tempted to get some brushes from ABC Brushes and the tree's from Andy, I only looked around to see if anything else took my fancy but nothing did. There was a good selection of actual wargames this time, some of which I had seen pictures of from Partizan, the Durham club Viking raid was excellent and Yarkshire Gamers Italian Wars spectacular. Oh, and Lancaster Wargames Club's participation Victory at Sea game with the beautiful 3D printed models from our very own Magpie Designer.

Victory at Sea.

Oh yes, the 'free' car park. Well the barrier wanted my ticket to get out, not only mine but the other twenty cars stuffed into the exit behind the unmovable barriers all without tickets. Pandemonium reigned and tempers were fraught as the voice from the control cubicle somewhere above or under us ensured us we must have a ticket to leave, "I didn't get a (&^%£%^ ticket". At least forty-five minutes later I managed to get out, yes after managing to get a ticket and pay up, which I would have been more than happy to have done if the machine hadn't waved me in with 'Free Passage!'.

So, happy with my game of SYW I have decided to add two more infantry battalions and one cavalry squadron to my forces before moving on to my new project for 2022, I am almost 90% sure of what it will be but will it still be that early next year, who knows.

Friday, 29 October 2021

Lady Luck makes an appearance

 Club night was Bolt Action, a game which I had promised Jimi but had not got around to, he has completed his British Para platoon so was keen to use them, I offered some support weapons from my own troops and he opted for a 6 pdr anti-tank gun. I decided as they were Paras I would use a Waffen-SS platoon to get two LMG's per squad being as they would be panzergrenadiers from the 9th or 10th divisions at Arnhem, tenuous link but hey. I also gave them some heavy support with an infantry gun, two medium machine guns and a PzII Luchs, for a change I also splashed out on a sniper. I kept the game simple as this was only Jimi's second game as far as I know so we went head to head in a meeting engagement.

 I only had a Plan A and that was to use my superior firepower to cut down the Paras before they could get close and simply rack up the points as they hit the dust, even with my luck recently I should have enough dice to offset the gremlins. It became very apparent however that Lady Luck was back with me or at least had decided to dump Jimi. I got off lightly from the preparatory bombardment but Jimi suffered under the shellfire and a direct hit took out his HQ before an enemy had been seen, he also got most of his dice out first therefore I knew exactly where most of his army were and set up accordingly when German dice eventually turned up.

Sure enough the amount of firepower started to cut down the British units as they seemed to flounder forwards, some even refused to move, the British mortar missed with its first shot on my infantry gun only to have the spotter shot by my sniper rendering it basically worthless. As the game continued Jimi's luck worsened, he failed nearly every order test apart from two and he had to take a fair few. I had a few hiccups but nothing out of the ordinary. As we reached the conclusion of the game the horrendous casualties the British suffered offered no hope for Jimi and we called a halt to the slaughter as the Germans now moved forward to mop up.

So, Plan A had worked after all, I had managed to get the drop on the Paras and they never managed to counter the sheer weight of firepower coming their way or the bad luck which dogged them during the game, we all have games like that but this was particularly bad. I tried at the end to give some advice but my own Para platoon has only fought with Chain of Command so I may have been short on that, I did concur that a more rounded British Army platoon with perhaps Para back up and a lot more support choices might work better.

Fast forward to yesterday and a War and Conquest game against Charlie and his Normans, now I have no love for Normans but they are a tough army to meet with these rules. Charlie likes his cavalry and brought seven units mostly hard hitting Milites supported by some good foot, archers, skirmishers and a couple of not so good infantry. I had some household troops (Gedriht), some mounted and foot Duguth, some young warriors and Ceorls supported by skirmish archers, I also brought, yes, the Franks.

Saxons on the left, Normans on the right.



 The battlefield was fairly open with two villages on each of the flanks, I decided therefore to refuse my left and lead with the right while the centre would wait and see, I also thought my light cavalry would easily take out the enemy light cavalry as there were more of mine. The Normans put most of their cavalry on their left and some on the extreme right, between the two was marshaled the infantry. I thought the shock cavalry could be a problem while the host opposite my left could be a real threat to my weak flank.  

The Normas advance.

The cavalry charge.

The Saxons beat off the initial charges.

The battle started and the Norman cavalry all advanced very quickly, I also threw my own cavalry against the flanks while my infantry edged slowly forward on the right, I was getting ready for some charges when they wheeled towards my flank, I took advantage of this and closed to close range with the Duguth and Franks, javelins flew. I managed to get the drop on Charlie and threw in several charges, my right flank light cavalry destroyed their opposition while the left flank horsemen made a hash of things. My Duguth routed their opponents while the Franks made a meal of their melee, however although it turned into a slogging match the numbers favoured the mercenaries, but they took their time.

The Saxons get the upper hand.

Charlie now withdrew his cavalry and I followed up with the Gedriht hoping to catch some Liberi and send them packing, I did not manage this as I had to watch my flank and wait for the victorious Duguth to come up and protect the companions. I lost my left flank cavalry but the Normans did not push behind my lines, perhaps it was the waiting archers which put them off, so instead they joined the mass of troops heading for my Geoguth and Ceorls.

As the pressure mounted the Norman cavalry swept forward in several charges, none of which were successful, and they were beaten off, the Norman infantry were now charged in return while the Ceorls went into shieldwall and put themselves in harms way of the last Norman horsemen still unengaged or routing. As the enemy infantry were pushed back all along the line the Saxon light cavalry now appeared behind the Norman line sealing their fate. Charlie offered his sword.

The last of the Norman cavalry in trouble.

A good game and at the beginning I was a bit worried about my left as there were a lot of Normans opposite it, however I had a good feeling that my large infantry units could fend off the mounted shock charges although I would not bet the house on it. The wheel the enemy made was a mistake and allowed me to take the initiative and the cavalry never recovered despite putting up a tremendous fight. Cavalry armies in real life did well, however in wargames they seem to struggle, we played some amendments to try and make them more dangerous and it works to an extent but you can never count on Lady Luck.

Next week at Chez Anderson it is Seven Years War against Rob and I am looking forward to getting these guys back on the table. I have decided to go to FIASCO in Leeds on Sunday as I have some Last Valley tree's to pick up and perhaps have a look at some nice games. I don't really need anything and will just be looking for something interesting, maybe terrain or scatter wise.