Sunday, 28 November 2021

Winter Blues

 I am looking out the window on a bitterly cold day at the snow which is getting heavier and heavier and covering the cars and now beginning to gather on the ground, I cannot see into the distance at all as it is just a light grey murk. 

 I had a weekend of wargaming planned with friend Matt who was coming up from Wells in cider country, Covid put a stop to that as he had been told to isolate, I have no clue at all as to the rules these days. I do know that the number of people whom I know to have had Covid has risen sharply in the past few months, however most have either suffered little or in one case had very bad flue symptoms, so I can only presume the vaccines help, I have now had three.

Perhaps with the snow and the storm on Friday night Matt dodged a bullet, my wife got caught in the storm due to being at a show in Kendal and twice trees across the road caused them to detour, a twenty minute journey turned into an hour and a half.

Cowboys at the club this week, I was stuck for a game and Jimi and Ed could not play theirs so asked if I could bring along Dead Man's Hand, which was fine as Duncan made up a fourth. It was a simple 'throw down' affair so Duncan's Lawmen in alliance with my Mexicans fought over the town against Jimi's Desperado's and Ed's Cowboys. I continue to take the Mexicans despite their terrible win or rather loss ratio under their less than fearful leader 'El Arana' (the Spider). In typical western style we came at each other from opposite ends of the town, there was no subtlety here, Ed took a more defensive posture while Jimi came straight at me flinging lead while I did the same, Duncan moved along the back alleys to engage Ed. For once my caballeros did what it said on the tin, Jimi's gang were whittled down and forced to retreat, slowly on the other side of Main Street the same was happening to Ed, as the clock struck Jimi and Ed surrendered. A nice way to pass a few hours.

 I have bit the bullet and ordered up more SYW troops and decided to stop at 12 infantry battalions for each side (French and British) and once Front Rank are back a couple of cavalry squadrons. In 28mm this is enough for my 9x5 table and Honours of War. I have finished my Byzantine Thematic/Tagmatic army list for War and Conquest but have still not put the seal of approval on the project.

I got an early Christmas present from the Memsahib the other day, a splendid carry bag for my Blood Bowl stuff, I also got two lap top cases for some of my other rules which I normally have sorted in carrier bags so that I can just grab them on the way out of the door and everything I need, well almost everything, is in the one place. For some unknown reason this caused great merriment with my significant other "You are going to have a bag for every rule set, you are mad, and daft" was the gist of the argument.

 As I sit watching the snow destroy the infrastructure of Main Street and contemplate having a look at a map project I was keeping until tomorrow I wondered how many maps I have actually drawn this year. The number comes in at almost 400 in 45 publications with one more month to go. This year the 'man of the match' is the period of warfare covering 1600-1800 mainly in Europe, although I have once again covered nearly all the big wargame periods in most corners of the world.

This coming week Ed asked me to bring along my Dark Age forces, so an introduction game on Tuesday.

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.