Thursday, 30 March 2023

And in reverse order .....

 Just got back from sunny Penrith to gloomy Lancashire, I was at Matt's place for a change as he has been here for the last four Chain of Command games. He set up a Russian Civil War game which is apt as I am almost finished Antony Beevor's book on the War, the inhumane brutality during the Civil War, by both sides but especially the Reds, is hard to stomach. Moving quickly on to wee sojers Matt had a beautiful table set up, he took the Reds and I had the Whites, I was the attacker and had to take two of three objectives to win, these were a crossroads and two bridges.

Beautiful lay out.

Middle bridge in the background.

The crossroads.

A welcome addition to the White OOB.

Typical for the period I had normal infantry plus some Polish Legion, Tsarist Officers, cavalry and a captured British Whippet tank along with an Austin armoured car and a Nieuport 17 Scout. The Reds were also a mixed bunch with infantry, irregular townsfolk a light howitzer and a detachment of Red sailors, the bad guys. I admit I had no idea what to do with the cavalry but the aeroplane was a nice touch.

As the dice started to come out the bag I made my mind up to put my main effort on my left to get the crossroads and sent four squads at it, two I put in the middle to pressure the middle objective and I sent my tank towards the bridge on my right, I kept the cavalry in reserve for the first couple of turns, I had a cunning plan. My main attack drew in the same number of Reds along with their HQ and a Commissar to add some backbone, another two and an MMG along with the howitzer defended the middle position while a further MMG and an infantry squad looked after the right hand bridge.

Polish Legion advance.

Anastasia at the bridge.

Things started well for me and the White flood moved confidently on the crossroads, the Austin took the middle bridge under fire but soon moved towards the village to support the attack on the left. I also managed to get into a good position in the middle and Red casualties soon mounted up at the barricade, also a lot of Red NCO's were falling to White bullets. My slow but impervious Whippet kept moving towards its target and dealing out hurt and pins on the defenders. The White air force was playing a blinder and after a couple of straffing runs I turned him towards my right flank and concentrated on the forces around the bridge, which he did magnificently.

The Reds and the fearsome sailors.

White cavalry.

The crossroad defenders under pressure.

The amount of firepower I threw at the units around the crossroads paid off and following an assault by my Officers two Red units were dispersed while the others were whittled down, I did suffer one squad running just as I planned my main assault (a blunder) but despite this I edged closer and got a hold on the crossroads. The Red sailors seemed to be hesitant but decided eventually to move closer to the middle bridge, they ran a gauntlet of fire and as their casualties mounted they were broken by a very determined assault, this now put me on the flank of the defenders at the middle bridge.

Sailors wiped out.

The old and the new.

The end approaches.

Over on the right it was time to launch my cunning plan, I had brought the cavalry on while the tank and aeroplane had managed to wipe out the MMG defending the bridge and cause a large number of pins on the infantry squad which meant they were likely to ignore orders. It was now with two moves to go that I ran the mounted troopers straight up the road and captured the bridge, their firepower also sent the last of the defenders running. It was game over and a victory for the Whites.

An excellent game on beautiful terrain with inspiring figures, I could almost collect these having seen Matt's, down boy. The use of the plane was a great idea and it worked really well, thankfully most of the Reds were too busy firing at my troops to try and target the flimsy bi-plane as it really helped pin the enemy on my right. Matt is a gentleman to play against and I spent a great morning. Next up when I get the time will be a return to the Eastern Front.

A few days ago at the club it was Bolt Action again, this time I offered Michael a choice for an early war game, he took the Germans, I chose French, you get two 'free' units with the French for some reason but I did not take them as I do not like this rule. The game was 800 points so I brought three squads, a P16 armoured halftrack, a Somau 35 and an infantry gun along with an MMG, Michael had four squads, a mortar, MMG, anti-tank rifle and a Panzer IV.

We diced for the scenario and got Secret thingys, the briefcase was placed on the table and off we went. I thought I would set up a firebase with my armour etc. and then advance in the centre and pick up the documents. My tanks sadly failed miserably to cause much hurt on the enemy, and the strange P16 kept getting stunned and heavily pinned so basically was worthless, I had also put my infantry gun in such a position that it too could have gone on holiday. The Jerries seemed happy to sit back and cover the objective, I pushed my luck, which had not been great so far, and sent a squad over to the briefcase, I only needed my dice to come out first in the few turns left and I could leg it with the survivors and the prize. Not once did that happen and even when I did eventually manage to get the chance the remaining Poilus refused to move. The game ended as a draw as neither of us managed to grab and remove the secret despatches.

Useless Schnieder P16.

Misplaced gun.

Annoying panzer.

Less than annoying Somua.

Not a bad little game but a big ask for both sides to march to the centre and pick up the objective in six turns, it can take almost six turns to reach it if there is half decent terrain on the table, maybe it is a job for a halftrack or a carrier to rush the thing and hope the passengers will survive to pick it up and return. No matter, it got my French on the table after blowing the cobwebs off them.

Historical gamers look away now.

Last but not least, the week before I had taken part in Rob's participation game which he takes to shows, it is a tongue in cheek romp where basically the French Foreign Legion attempt to stop some evil people from ending the world or something like that. Scattered throughout are characters from Literature and the Silver Screen who turn up at odd moments to help one side or the other, for example Alan Quartermain, Indiana Jones, Flashman and a film crew along with many others. The younger elements (20 somethings) thoroughly enjoyed this game and it was well umpired by Rob but it is just not my thing.

Archeologists and friends.

La Legion.

The bad guys.

I have done well with my Imperials and now have two full pike blocks and a field gun, the idea being that eventually those two blocks will form one, really pleased with these figures, all Steel Fist, yes sticking the heads and swords on is a pain for me but worth it. I have a game next Friday with Julian so looking forward to that.

Imperial field gun.

Imperial landsknechts.

I have undercoated both my Flakpanzer 38(t) and StuiG33 3D prints so am going to get them done this weekend as well as getting six Imperial cavalry ready for next week. Six more cavalry to go then I will have to buy a small pile of lead for the next part of the Imperial army, I am tempted to go with Spaniards or maybe one of the Italian states, we will see.


One parting shot, Amso Useless is running Scotland, words fail me.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Busy Week

 I got my Tuesday's mixed up and thought I had a game with Rob, but I didn't and Matt was looking for a game so I jumped in, it was GW's Kill Team, a lot of talk about this game recently at the club and several have it. Why not, better than a night in front of the ever diminishing lure of the magic lantern in the corner.

It is small, ten men or monsters a side on what looked like a 2'x2' board, the terrain was well painted as were the teams, I was Imperial Guard and Matt took Orcs. There were four objective markers, one in each corner for this scenario and each garnered the owner points, I halved my squad and was going to advance my left while defending my right. I quickly lost a man to a sniper but then killed a bomb thing which blew up and injured the figure next to it, a good start. My advance was slow, too slow and although I killed another guy Matt was getting victory points.

Guard sniper.

Terrible photo but these were gorgeous.

In a crazy move Matt put his leader next to my Demolition guy, I took the chance to kill this greenskin and damn the torpedoes, the mine went off. The Orc wiped away the debris of my Demolition man from his face, which was the only effect on him, my guy was toast. My assault on the other side of the map also came to naught as my dice failed me yet again and a certain kill became more than uncertain. Despite me wounding many of the enemy they got the points, and of course points make prizes, I conceded gracefully.

Sneaky Orcs.


The game, yes it was OK and Matt took me through the rules without bias and helped a couple of times with 'you sure you want to do that?' But it is not my thing, despite the lovely terrain and the well painted and inspiring figures. I can see the appeal for a club night and if you were brought up on Warhammer 40K but it is not the grand sweep of regiments and brigades or pike blocks and massed armoured cavalry which warm my blood but need a forklift to bring to the club.

Wednesday and it was a return to our Smolensk Chain of Command campaign and also a return to the village of Mikheykovo for the boys of 7th Panzer after having to abandon it earlier on 29th July. I managed to get seven support points and added one of my Resource Points to get a Panzer 38(t) and a MMG team, I also brought the Second Platoon who were nice and fresh. Matt (Crump) turned up with a BT7, HMG, 76mm Infantry Gun and entrenchments using quite a few of his remaining Resource Points. I started off with my now usual double phase and brought on my MMG, tank and one squad lining a wood on my left, the former two dominated a large empty area up to the rivulet, my tank rumbled on slowly as the wooden bridge would not bear its weight so it had to ford the stream and I did not want it to get bogged down. The Reds set up a defensive position in the scrub on the far side of the small river protected by defensive works and set about reducing the crew on my MMG and taking pot shots at the squad in the trees, although the MMG suffered the guys in the woods got off very lightly.

The first Germans turn up.

My little tank, for all the good it did.

Soviet power.

 More Russians turned up near my right flank and caused me some worry as I just couldn't get any more troops on, eventually I did and this platoon took the Soviets in the green Dacha under fire and dropped their Junior Leader, Red morale began to fail. Meanwhile I was throwing everything at the infantry gun but then turned on the mortar team who did not have entrenchments, these were wiped out and Russian morale fell again. Return fire on me was indecisive and that is putting it mildly. I turned back to the infantry gun and it slowly lost crew until a last effort wiped them out, along with the Junior Leader and attached Senior Leader. This was the end for the Russians as their morale plummeted to zero.

Russian fire base.

A second squad for the Jerries.

Reds attempt a flank move.

A good result for me but not a great game, neither of us had taken overwhelming casualties but the combination of officer hits and two teams being wiped out ensured the Russians would lose. Not very satisfying as I as the attacker had not really made an effort at an assault and did not need to as my fire wore down the enemy. The defenders could just as easily have shot me down as I attempted to move forward into the teeth of a waiting line should this have been forced. I know a mortar barrage could have helped but I find this a 'nuclear option' and avoid it if possible. There are still six turns to go and still all to play for.

With the game taking just under two hours we have decided that should it happen again we will be prepared to move to the next table to make a visit worthwhile, this should work with a little planning. I also offered to go to Matt's for our next game and let him sort something out in the Dungeon. You can read Matt's report here.

Friday and the big bash, hundreds of figures on a large table and eager to get stuck in, you cannot beat it. I had my French ready once again and Julian made up a mirror image on the opposite side, he has yet to organise a specific army, I just concentrated on Pavia and the French came first. The battlefield was fairly open with a small farm in the centre, I put a heavy cavalry presence on my right then the pike blocks extending to the centre, this wing was under the command of de Montmorency, then came the artillery and more cavalry of which half were skirmishers Giovanni de Medici led these troops. Opposite Julian had most of his cavalry on his right and less on the left, the infantry held his centre with an Italian pike block out on his left. As I looked across at the splendid array I thought I could win on the right, hold the centre and hope my left would slow up the enemy until victory was assured. As we consulted the pre-game event it transpired that my right wing cavalry were late to the field and started from the table edge rather than twelve inches in!

French on the left, Julian on the right.

The backbone of Julian's line.

The French line.

I did attack on the right but the skirmishers to my front kept evading my charges, nonetheless I quickly destroyed a heavy cavalry unit and as the victors now turned their attention on an enemy Gendarme unit I positioned the rest of my cavalry to hit the Italian pikes in the flank as one of my Landsknecht blocks advanced on them. Things looked good. On the left however my boys were making heavy weather of holding off the enemy, my artillery failed to open up and my skirmishing arquebusiers couldn't hit a barn door, then my cavalry were sent packing after a good start, I toyed with sending over one of my right flank heavy cavalry troops but decided against it. Luckily for Julian the first hazard of the day pertained to striking mercenary cavalry, he had none, the second was a fall back by his skirmishing crossbow troopers, this ended up getting them out of trouble, my eyes rolled.

Both sides advance.

My left about to be crushed.

By now the pike blocks had engaged, first the Swiss of both armies then two Landsknecht pike blocks, I began to lose bases and despite at times dealing out more or equal casualties my boys simply lost heart when it came to Combat Morale, now a third Hazard caused my Old Band pike to retire. I still thought if I could engage the Italians with my remaining Landsknechts surely I could claw something back, however the long march to contact left me suffering from skirmishers and a deadly artillery piece, I was losing bases. My own artillery eventually managed one shot from all the game turns, it meant nothing and the crews were staring at heavily armoured Gendarmes within spitting distance. My Landsknechts in combat with the enemy Landsknechts now ran, the army was shattered, looking over the debacle there was no way I could recover, I handed over my sword as I joined the race to the rear.

I still have a hope of winning here.

I conceded just as my Landsknechts prepare to run.

My French have not yet managed to build up a fearsome reputation, unlike Legio XII or my Patrician Romans, my foes do not yet fear them, and don't mention the Scots in French service, my artillery seem to be of no use whatsoever and even less effective than my skirmishers. I even changed dice during the game but it was too late. We picked up on a couple of rules and have asked for help, others we forgot and remembered too late to do anything but despite this we are getting a better understanding of how they play, the period feel with the pre-game events and Hazards are a real boon for setting the scene. Well done Julian but we will be back.

I now need to do some research for the troop types I am going to use in my Imperial/Spanish army as I think the army lists in the rules might be a bit limiting in splitting them into two separate armies. I also have my middle command ranks on the painting tray for the second Imperial pike block so I need to look again at Landsknecht flags. I was thinking of getting movement trays but hit a problem in that this would bring the pikes into contact with the RUB tops as I also have a thickish non slip mat in there, time to engage the grey matter. Off the painting tray this week is the first full Imperial pike block and I am now on to the mid ranks of the second.

The first of many.


The commander of the second unit, he might need a base of his own.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Italian Wars Edition

 Diving back into the Italian Wars although I had to cancel today's game with Julian as something came up, missus still cannot drive so I am a chauffeur as well as dogsbody for now. We were on the plains of Northern Italy last night at the club, I had volunteered to put on a game so that Stuart could try out the period and the rules (Furioso).

I can split my French forces roughly down the middle to give both sides enough troops for a decent little club game. I took some time to explain the mechanics to Stuart and then we kicked off, I made a mental note to be gentle. This was upset by my Swiss going Furioso after the pre-battle events, you can easily do without these but it is hard as they give an excellent bit of flavour to the game and who knows, you might benefit in the end, I didn't as my Swiss trundled off across my battleline upsetting my carefully laid plan as my Landsknechts looked on in disgust.

The 'Rebels' led by the Admiral.
My troops advance.

Although this held up the rest of my infantry I swept forward with my cavalry expecting to win on the flanks, at least on my right. The left flank got in first and right away things went wrong, my die rolling was dire and although we both lost a heavy cavalry unit I also quickly lost my Gendarmes. My gunners and arquebusiers stood by while all this was happening and did not fire a shot. I managed to roll two Hazards during the game (four ones in one throw), the first did not matter but the second had my Shot troops withdraw, they obviously saw the way things were unfolding and didn't like it, I just screamed at them.

My Swiss in the distance, ignoring my shouts.


Captain of the King's guard less than enthusiastic.

On the right my mounted crossbows started to hit the enemy Gendarmes in the hope this would weaken them when they clashed with my guys. Despite this my Gendarmes were pushed back and lost a base inflicting nothing on the enemy, even when I charged in my heavy cavalry to help Stuart managed to send them packing. I was not chuffed with the troops. I did manage to stabilise this fight but I did not get the quick victory I was looking for as the Gendarmes made a meal of the melee and the heavy cavalry recovered from their failed attack.

My Landsknechts about to be pulverised.

Just as things were looking at their worst my Swiss hit the enemy Landsknechts, a stunning victory for them as they destroyed their traditional foes, nearby my Landsknechts hit Stuart's Swiss and won the first round, maybe I could grab a draw from this debacle. It was not to be, in the second round of melee I lost my Landsknechts to those ferocious Swiss and that was it as the clock was against me.

So my winning streak is well and truly over, I was badly cut up as I introduced the game, just like the last time against the other Stewart. No matter it was a good night and I took my pathetic die rolls on the chin, only twice did I roll above one hit I think, despite however many dice went into the tray. 

I promised a while ago that I would do a photoshoot of the whole French army once I had got it finished, so here it is, although I still have to add the French king. I really want Francis in armour and to look impressive, TAG do a figure but not in armour, so I am sitting on the fence for the moment having three generals already. As you know I have already started the Imperials and it will eventually be the same size as the French so a long way to go yet but I am not in a hurry.

I have finished the maps for Helion's German Peasants War and they are with the author for final approval. Even with the little I do know I cannot help but feel I wouldn't like to be a Peasant commander against the Swabian League aristocracy. Looking back with hindsight they don't seem to have much of a chance of success, they do manage to take several cities but are completely outclassed in open battle. Nonetheless I shall get the book as I am intrigued now, also the author Douglas Miller kindly sent me his Battle of Frankenhausen book for the price of the postage. Steel Fist of course are now doing a Peasants War range of figures.

Despite my attempts not to spend any money I have had to buy some Steel Fist figures I missed off the last order to complete my Landsknecht pike block, and to make it worthwhile I also ordered a couple of artillery pieces. I decided not to hold on any longer to my Foundry vouchers and got two units of Gendarmes from them (12 figures), so all in all a good start to the new army and a small lead pile to work through.

The middle ranks added to the new pike block.