Friday 1 December 2023

"Sheer ******* Hubris"

 Some of you might recognise the title as a quote from one of the myriad Star Trek franchises this time starring Patrick Stewart, I only caught it because The Critical Drinker, my goto cinema/TV critic, uses it along with some other clips to show his displeasure at modern cinema. You will remember my crowing last post about my victories, what I had forgotten on my online Triumph was the slave at my back continually whispering "remember you are mortal, and don’t forget my reparations”.

I had vanquished the mighty Normans you might recall and chose to get another game of War and Conquest in at the club with Simon. I normally let 'newbies' take the Romano-British as they have a small advantage over the Saxons but this time Simon chose Saxons, so I was quite pleased to be in command once again of my first ever War and Conquest army and one of my favourites, it had been ages since I led them onto the field of battle.

I chose a balanced army with four infantry blocks and a cavalry unit supported by massed archers and skirmishers, once I had done this I checked Simon's list for the evening as I would have to bring his troops, it was a good list but lacked variety with no cavalry or skirmishers, just five large infantry blocks. It would be fair to say I was not unduly worried. On the night I deployed with my cavalry and skirmishers on the left and the other skirmishers and massed archers on my right, stretching between were my infantry, opposite the Saxons were simply lined up in a battle line.

 As we began I moved my cavalry out to threaten the Saxon right, this took care of one of the enemy blocks, so now it was four versus four, I raced two of my Milites to grab a nearby hill before Simon's mercenary Franks could get it. Showers of missiles darkened the sky but as the dust settled no Saxons were lying in the grass, again the light was blotted out as the enemy advanced and again nothing happened. My boys sat on their hill and awaited the Frankish onslaught, it was going to be touch and go but I had faith, wait, two men with headaches and the Milites run for the rear being cut down in the pursuit, their nearby friends deciding to run with them! OK not headaches but I had lost maybe three casualties overall in the two units, this doesn't happen to me, only my enemies. I thought perhaps I could advance and do the same to the Saxons opposite my non routing units, if I did this quickly I could be back in the game.

 My elites failed miserably to go into shield wall and move, my remaining Milites were now attacked and again ran for the rear, what was going on. The Franks were now moving on my hearthguard and Dux, these stalwart men were now surrounded by Saxons and prepared to sell their lives dearly, no, wait, that is not what happened, they were crushed and wiped out. I didn't need to hand over my sword as it was picked up on the field amongst the wreckage of my army.

I think the fight lasted one and a half hours, I was slaughtered, no that's not true as no one had actually fought, I was gutted, a good army with their good dice (a set for everyone) and they had let me down. Were they taking their revenge on me for not being fielded, had the dice lost their edge, who knows. I have had one battle before like this where it took me longer to place the terrain than fight before being whipped. Well done to Simon.

I did not take photographs of this action, not because I did not want it recorded but I plan to leave my larger write ups for games here at home now, I was also expecting to be back to gaming the Smolensk Campaign and have a report for that but I got the dates mixed up so it has now been delayed for a week.

I am watching yet another excellent Korean series, I can recommend 'Vagabond', a thriller with constant action and myriad plots. I have been following the reviews of 'Napoleon' on YouTube and the overwhelming consensus seems to be Merde!


Friday 24 November 2023

A Week of Victories

 On Tuesday I managed my second Gazala Campaign game, this time against James and his New Zealanders as my DAK surged forward leaving my compatriots behind, is that Rommel I see with me? I had a lot more support points so as well as my normal four squads I again had an extra mortar, an extra command die, an adjutant so that I could bring my Senior Leader in quickly and a lovely little PzIIC as I was expecting an armoured car or Portee anti-tank gun from James. I had not really looked at the make up of my platoon when choosing but am now grateful it has four squads rather than three, a big advantage so far although I do give the enemy the difference in support points, you can't have everything. As it turned out James had had a bit of a mauling the turn before and all his squads were understrength while I had lost one man.

James hunkered down a la Tobruk with a minefield and some wire defences, I soon surrounded these and poured fire into one unlucky squad sheltering in a crop field, the Kiwi's began to get nervous. On came a sniper who had apparently bluffed his exams at sniper school as he hit nothing and a Forward Observer for a mortar battery, this kind of frightened me this time, I think these barrages unhinge the game and never take one,but as thing turned out I was always able to move out of the danger zone and the first ranging shell landed miles away from its target. I now played my ace in the hole, the PzII rumbled on and added its automatic cannon to the hail of lead heading toward the enemy, as it turned out it was almost invulnerable to anything the Kiwis had, James had an anti-tank rifle but it never made the table

.As his casualties mounted and his morale fell with the Germans heading towards his rear James conceded defeat, he had lost 15 men to my 7, I look forward to the next game.

The main event of the week for me was another War and Conquest clash against Stuart Smith's revitalised Normans, I have just finished a biography of my hero Harold Godwinson and now have even less time for the Normans. I used to have a Norman army believe it or not, they didn't like me and I didn't like them despite the lovely sculpts (Greenwood and Ball), so they were the first army I ever sold, I never got around to an Anglo-Saxon army, but I digress.

Stewart was happy to play against my Patrician Romans this time and it was good to get them back on the table. I decided against going for the elite troops apart from some Germanic Noble cavalry, the rest of the army was average, two warbands and four Legions two of which were Psuedo Comitatenses so were given officers to keep them in line. Support troops also consisted of skirmish archers and some Alan cavalry. My commander was also second tier as I could not afford Aetius and his bodyguard cavalry despite their fighting capability, I therefore had two Initiative(SIP) tokens to Stuart's five, perhaps I was taking a big chance with this force but the die was cast. The Normans had three units of cavalry with a fourth a tad lighter, a good mix of infantry, mercenaries, dismounted Milites, spearmen, archers and light crossbows and some skirmishers.

The choice of terrain closed down one side of the table and luckily we both deployed on the opposite side, I put my cavalry on my right and was going to use the Alans to soften up the Norman cavalry while holding the Germans back until the time was right, all the Foederati units were on the right while the Legions held the centre and left, I would slowly advance the infantry hoping the right would strike first. Stuart put most of his cavalry on his left with one unit in reserve and his infantry in a battle line stretching to his right.

Patricians on the left, Normans on the right.

I won the initiative for most of the first part of the game and allowed Stuart to go first twice, which is unusual for me, but I wanted him to come into range of my missiles, this worked fairly well and his light cavalry began to suffer, I lost a unit of skirmishers very quickly due to some excellent fire from the enemy, and although my other unit on that side held on they took far too long to kill off the opposing skirmishers on that side. Quite quickly the Normans lost all their light cavalry and were stung into charging the Alans, as it was long range the Alans shot and retreated behind the German cavalry, more Normans fell, meanwhile I had got a large warband up close to the other Milites unit and it decided to flee rather than take on the Germans. A move later my right was a shambles, the retiring Milites had come back and charged into the Foederati routing them in a surprise to both Stuart and I, I knew I would not likely win the first round but the subsequent rounds should have been a walkover, but no. The other Milites unit smashed into my German cavalry and they too routed, along with the skirmishing archers and the Alans who ran in support, my Tribune looked on aghast. Thankfully the Germans despite my howls of abuse outran their pursuers but had caused quite a few casualties which along with the arrows of the Alans would come back to haunt the victorious Milites.

Norman cavalry.

Legions arrayed for battle.

My centre now assaulted the Norman infantry line, this quickly succumbed to the attacks and the Liberi and Stipendarii fled, sadly out running their pursuers but ruining the Norman defence. The German cavalry were now attacked again in an effort to destroy them but the Milites were now short of numbers and the Germans fought back so successfully the Miltes were routed and dispersed, this action saved my right flank. I now got to within charge reach of the crossbows and my men took their revenge and more Normans began to run, I was desperate to hit the archers as well but had to spend time manoeuvring so I did not hit the dismounted Milites, that would come later as my archers had now flanked them and were pouring fire into them from behind their shieldwall. The Quinta Macedonica had now taken on the Norman reserve cavalry and as they began to win Stuart handed over his sword as most of this army were running for the hills.

My right about to take a beating.

Getting revenge on the Liberi.

My German Nobles run.

Just about to hit the Norman right.

A great game and at one moment it looked quite bad for the Romans, but the German Nobles' nerve held and they came good in the end despite or because of my curses and took a load of my shoulders, I am still unhappy about the warband running with nothing more than a headache. The Alan horse archers were a great boon to me in this battle, an expensive unit but more than worth the points. On reflection perhaps I should have sent my infantry in quicker but I wanted to use my missile troops to hit the enemy cavalry and drive away their skirmishers, it worked to a point, but it takes time, two of my Legions suffered casualties from the close order archers and crossbows, perhaps I should just have suffered the slings and arrows etc. and just mown them down in combat.

Dan at the club brought in a very large box of Wars of the Roses figures he has had in his loft to see if I could recover any for my Italian Wars, I have perused them and think I can get a couple of cavalry units and another half dozen artillery pieces from them. I still have no new figures to paint and finish the Imperials, my order from TAG has now been amiss for almost a month but I am expecting them today, I have been assured they are in the post.

I have turned my attention to streams, I am going to need a large amount of sections for the new 12' table I am planning to have built, I got in touch with Andy at The Last Valley and priced up some of his beautiful Trout Streams but a) I really cannot spend that amount on something which is only used now and again on a wargame table and b) the added expense of a divorce lawyer would cripple me. I am therefore going to go with his bog standard streams and maybe tart them up a bit more myself.

The roof has been fixed although I still want to check it when the rain comes back, the builders have also been in touch and will be starting mid January to turn the Post Office back into a big room with a shower and toilet and a wargame table, I will then leave my small, comfortable study for a large open space, not sure I am looking forward to being evicted.

Saturday 18 November 2023

From Flouncy Shirts to Lace

 What a miserable month so far, and we have a leak in the roof, that is going to cost. Just as well I have my final Imperial troops on order, this along with the cutting down of the rottern cherry tree, the painting of the downstairs and hall along with modifications to the two outhouses leaves this old pensioner skint and despondent, what's it all about Alfie?

Oh, and that order is now almost three weeks late and no reply to two emails so far apart from the old 'your message is important to us......' guff.

I played Bolt Action at the club on Tuesday, it was against Joel who came along for the first time, he has only played Bolt Action at tournaments and travels quite a lot to fulfill his urge to play the game. It was American paratroopers vs Germans, I was the bad guys and took four squads along with a Marder III, a panzerschreck and a MMG, Joel had two jeeps, a Chaffee, mortar and four squads.

I was put on the back foot right away as Joel ran two jeeps straight up the centre of the table at me, something which has never happened in all my years at the club, the first jeep had a machine gun and was annoying to kill, the second had a flamethrower team, agh! I quickly lost most of a squad with one man remaining before I could kill the flamethrower. Joel calmed down after this and I took the lead having taken out three of his command dice. Near the end it was me who got carried away and I made some mistakes so the game ended in a draw. Joel was a pleasure to play against but his comments on his tournament games just confirmed I could never play in one. With the new Case Blue campaign book the Hungarians can have Tiger I's and, wait for it, their tanks can have Recce, which allows a 54 ton tank to back up out of danger, no, I don't get it either.

I have managed to set up a few home games of late and this week it was Seven Years War with another new wargamer, Erik has been out of the loop for a while and wanted to get back in and found me through the blog and Charles at Helion. I set up a small scenario from an article on the Honours of War website, the British rearguard was facing a French force and had to retreat their baggage train and a couple of their battalions off the table. Once I had the table and deployment set up it seemed like a very hard job for the French to win, their flanking force was up against the British main body and there was simply no way it could threaten them, apart from possibly being a nuisance. The main French force was shoehorned into one corner and had to make its way through a wood and past its own vanguard to get at the British defenders on a hill, meanwhile there was nothing to stop the wagons making a leisurely exit once across a nearby ford. A river flowed through the battlefield and the only way across was three fords.

British rearguard.

View from behind the British left.

British cavalry and baggage train.

View from behind the British right.

I ended up with two dithering commanders while Erik had one in charge of his cavalry. I got my flanking force, one cavalry regiment and one battalion of infantry, across before Erik moved on them. I had no option but to charge the cavalry in and hope for the best, they were wiped out, however the Bretagne battalion stood their ground magnificently and twice forced the British back, but numbers told in the end and they too dispersed.
French flanking force crosses the river.

French main force arrives.

British cavalry get brave.

French in position to advance.

On the other flank I spent a lot of time getting my infantry brigade up and into a position to make a move on the two enemy battalions blocking my way into the British rear, the British also had two cavalry regiments but as they neared my troops the musket volleys scared them away and they retired. My vanguard infantry traded shots with the British on the hill while I decided to send my seemingly useless cavalry to the left to possible help my flanking force, but it took all day and by the time it approached the ford there was no friendly troops left.

More fragile cavalry.

The French breakthrough.

The pressure began to mount on the enemy defenders and they retired from the crest of the hill only to be followed up by my infantry as their casualties built up, the French main body now seemed unstoppable and one Battalion routed while the other was left facing hordes of French infantry. The baggage train as we suspected trotted along unharmed with the French having no chance of catching them, so I would have had to break the British force to win, and this was not going to happen with a weak flanking force and the rest of the army hugging trees.

A stirring sight.

My own useless cavalry on a forlorn journey.

Still, it was a good game but needs some tweaks, it was also good to get these visually impressive troops back on the table, so more SYW in the future I hope.

Next week it is War and Conquest against Stuart Smith's Normans with reinforcements, I have to make my mind up which army to use, Romano-British or Patrician Roman, the latter army would be a real challenge against Normans, do I feel lucky?

I have been very lax painting wise recently while waiting for my order to turn up, so I turned my attention to four tents given to me by Dan along with the three guns I recently painted up, nothing fancy but more than good enough for scatter terrain or to add depth to the camp I already have.

I have belatedly decided to get a bus pass as I get almost nothing else for my taxes, I found I had to alter the form, I am expecting it not to be approved or get a visit from the Old Bill to check my thinking.

Thursday 9 November 2023

WWII and more flouncy shirts.

 Very miserable weather now, as I look across at the newly cleaned up Washington House it is dark and wet, although I wake early I am not usually up early but am today as we are having the house painted and Steve arrives early, 8 am, probably have to do the same tomorrow, but far better than me doing it.

Our Chain of Command Gazala campaign kicked off last week at the club, three games and everything to play for. I have a DAK Schuzen platoon which is four squads although only one LMG per squad and not two like the other two German players, but I do have the numbers.

I was up against a British platoon commanded by Stuart and we had both taken an extra light mortar for support as we had very little points to get anything really useful for this first game. It was the Probe scenario on a table with many small hills and ridges with a village almost in the centre, I had not got off to a good start with my Jump Off Points (JOP) being nearly all on the edge of my deployment. Stuart got off to a good start and managed to get to the village and take the largest house in it to set up a fire base. I got a couple of squads on and started to snipe at the troops on the roof of the building, this caused the British to retreat inside. It also spooked them as down came the first of many smoke bombs.

The smoke now protects my guys.

Getting into position to give the British a surprise.

The terrain, quite nice as it turned out.

I then managed to deploy all my troops but kept getting command dice which were of no use to me, this and Stuart managing to get a double turn on a regular basis cramped my style. I did however maintain line of sight to the large building and started to plaster it with my mortars, Stuart now made a mistake and tried to run a team out towards another building close by, I hit them and his casualties began to climb. More smoke landed but I still managed to fire on the confused British, in return I lost a leader but now managed to catch a squad between two of mine, I now had all my squads in action or close to it. Time was running out and we gave the Germans a minor win as the writing was on the wall, the British had lost about a squads worth of troops while I had suffered three, having held the ground I suspect I actually lost 1 man dead. Sadly the other two German players were defeated and my men are alone as they head towards the British rear area.

I didn't get to the club last night as I did not push for a game and had a night off, besides I had a home game ready to go the next day. I chose the Battle of Ceresole 1544, a tad later than my armies but I would make it work. I had fought this action last year very loosely based on the battle as both Julian and I had only got half way through building our forces, I had to check and I think that might be the last time I actually won an Italian Wars game.

 No matter, this time the battle was more accurate re the numbers and I also tweaked the lists to reflect this, I had some misgivings about the terrain and decided not to put the shallow hill around the main building as it is comparitively flat, I also did not put the higher ground on behind the Imperial lines instead I decided those troops would be legitimate targets until they moved off the lower slopes. Why else would an eight gun battery be put behind its own troops and a hill if they couldn't see the enemy.

The Imperials.

The French.

I controlled the French left flank and Rob the right, we decided to wait a few moves before advancing, Julian and Stuart opposite had the same idea. Julian was opposite me and although his infantry stayed put he threw his light cavalry forward very quickly, too quickly as my useless artillery and arquebusiers could not hit a barn door. Once again my Plan A to shoot the enemy to pieces before I hit him went south, I have lost count of the times this has happened. Although Rob managed to get off some shots the war of missiles went against the French the effect of which was to goad us into advancing, Rob got off to a good start as did my cavalry, but my infantry dragged their feet despite my screaming at them.


The French center advances.

My movement challenged Swiss/Italians.

The cavalry battles at first went against me and I thought here we go again. However my Gendarmes managed in the end to defeat the Imperial Men-at-Arms and my light cavalry managed to hold on until the sun went down, a complete surprise to Julian and I. The focus of the battle now switched to the centre as the Swiss and French took on the Landsknechts, this should have almost been a foregone conclusion but the Swiss made a dogs dinner of marching through the fish pond while the Landsknechts kept their feet, a huge sigh came from the French commanders.

French left flank.

Still undecided in the center.

A few rounds of desperate fighting followed but eventually the Swiss and French were cut to pieces and as my own troops had been foiled by Julian's reluctance to fight and the slowness of my advance there was nothing left for the French but to admit defeat.


The Imperial left.

The Swiss make a hash of it.

The French commander tries to bolster his troops.

I had had high hopes for the French in this fight, yes they were outnumbered by the enemy foot but they were ahead in quality and their cavalry were superior, against this the deployment was a mess for a wargamer to make sense of. My command rolls for my pikes were dire and stopped them from getting to grips with Julian's men before the curtain came down. Also I could not win a die roll against the Posh Chef, he beat me with casualties and saves at every turn, only my winning the combat morale most of the time kept my cavalry in the fight. I now think of course that keeping our men back was a mistake, certainly on my flank I should have had that large pike block bounding across the fields and into the reluctant Spanish opposite from the get go. But them's the breaks, a good day of fun and laughter with some friends.

Rob, Julian and Stuart.

Oh, and I have now finished all the Imperial pike blocks, really pleased with this last one and love the flags. I now have two more units to finish the army completely, these are ordered and I just await their arrival. There is no rush as I have games here at the War Room for the next two weeks, one Seven Year War and one War and Conquest, I might manage to sneak one more in before the end of the year but December is filling up very quickly. Hopefully the building work will start in January so with this and getting the room and table set up afterwards it might be Easter before the grand opening.

You have probably seen this picture but I got a chuckle out of it.

I am still lost for something decent to watch on TV apart from some excellent Korean crime dramas. I watched that latest drama on the Yorkshire Ripper and found it to be quite dull despite having many fine actors in it. I have also came late to Top Boy and am unsure, it shows a side of the UK (London) which is completely alien to me and my upbringing, I also at times would have been pleased to have seen subtitles "innit fam, yo bro" whatever that means. I did find that grizzled old detective Harry Bosch is back but having seen the first two episodes in Bosch Legacy, where he is now a private detective, I fear his daughter is now going to take the spotlight and poor Harry will be relegated to a bit part in his own show.