Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Going to need a bigger cat

 Last night was a War and Conquest clash with convert Ed, Ed has a penchant for the Greeks so took my Seleucids while I brought the Thunderbolts. I sent him all the info beforehand and he sent me an army list so that I did not need to haul seven boxes of metal sojers to the club with my old bones. I had already sorted out who was marching with me and Ed's list looked a bit weak, the Seleucids being a bitty army, a bit of this and a bit of that, all expensive points wise. I mentioned that he did not have an elephant in his army and they were usually a staple of Macedonian Successor armies, so he revised his list, dropped a phalanx and put in an elephant, this was to come back and haunt me.

I deployed with most of my forces on my left, my right had most of my auxiliary troops and all my shooters, I hoped to quickly advance, take out the Seleucid skirmishers and threaten their line thereby pinning one of the phalanxes. Ed didn't seem bothered by the small wood and had skirmishers backed up by Thorakitai to take it, his right had cataphracts, the elephant and a regular phalanx, his left was protected by a guard phalanx and some skirmishers.

Seleucids on the left, Twelfth on the right.

  I advanced quickly on my right but could not get enough casualties on the enemy skirmishers to force a morale test, my archers throughout this battle managed to miss with almost every shot. I was eventually forced to charge with the horse archers who rode down the bowmen and continued into the Seleucid rear eventually taking out the routing javelinmen as well. The Lanciarii took the wood and routed the said javelinmen sending them to the rear but stopped short of the Thorakatai and they now threw their rubber javelins at this unit.

Meanwhile being a decent chap I notified Ed that he should keep his cavalry away from the elephant or they might take fright, I also decided to use the new cavalry amendments from author Rob Broom which are intended to make cavalry fare better on the table, in this case his and not mine. Can you see the halo?

Anyway I set up my two Roman cohorts for an attack as I put my light cavalry into skirmish on the flank of the cataphracts. My boys made their morale check and stood as the armoured horse bore down on them, then over them, Ed then moved the elephant close enough to my cavalry for it to collapse and bolt from the table never to be seen again. Two units down and the game just started. I was now forced to charge the first cohort into the White pike block while holding Auxiliary II back to watch the victorious cataphracts, the pike block was smashed and dispersed, things still looked good for Fulminata.

The fight for the wood.

 The guard phalanx now hit Auxiliary I and routed them but could not catch them, my boys rallied and turned to face their tormentors, javelins and archery now began to cut down some of the phalangites, hope was once again beating in my breast. Then, as darkness closed, the cataphracts smashed into Auxiliary II on top of a hill, once again my boys fled and were ridden over, Auxiliary I now suffered the same fate as their morale failed and they too ran from the field for a second time. With nothing left to lose Cohors I along with the Legate vented their spleen on Nellie, causing the beast to panic and run amok, thankfully nowhere near the remnants of my army.

First cohort advances.,

The beast panics.

Auxiliary Cohort I about to run.

 That was it, once again I had entered a fight thinking I was going to win and once again I was proved wrong. It was a curious game in that all the units that failed and ran did so in the first round of combat with minimal casualties, most had suffered only one or two, morale was very brittle in the Twelfth. Most of my army were Auxiliaries with lower morale than Roman troops and at 2,000 points I could not afford an Auxiliary Tribune to stiffen their resolve. So well done to Ed for a good win and of course my legionaries heaped curses on their auxiliaries, it is ever thus.

New off the painting tray is the Regiment Bigorre, no it is not an Irish unit, I still have finials and cravats to add to the flags which are on order. On the subject of orders I now have the penultimate British battalion on the tray and dithered whether to actually get another two to make up the magic twelve battalions a side, in the end I bit the bullet and ordered them up, again I have went for Crusader. I also ordered up some characters, another limber and two cavalry squadrons (16 figures) from Front Rank which I hope to pick up at Vapnartak in York, despite hating to paint cavalry I don't think three squadrons is enough support for my infantry force so have jumped for four. I also have some buildings coming from Grand Manner so the SYW will hold my interest I suspect until Easter, then it will be off to Renaissance Italy, I am going for the French and Imperialists with contingents from the Italian states. I also see that the price of figures is rising so the LMF will be taking a big hit in the near future.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Note: buy cat

 Club night again and another fight for a parking space since a kids sports thing opened up opposite the school, damn. Anyway, it was Bolt Action as Duncan wanted to get his new Germans on the table, so a quick intro game at 800 points. I took the British and had three squads supported by a MMG, Bren carrier, Humber armoured car and an M10, I wanted to move the MMG in the Bren carrier but forgot to. Duncan had quite a few five man squads which I intimated were not a good idea, a halftrack, panzerschreck and a StuGIII.

Pretty much expecting to shoot Duncan's little squads up with one volley I deployed two infantry squads on my left, the MMG and Humber in the centre then the M10 and my last squad and the carrier on the right. As we deployed I found I had to put all my stuff down first as British die after die came out, this continued for the first few rounds which put me on the back foot and stopped me getting the drop on the small squads. To my chagrin Duncan put a lot of hurt on my boys, one squad was dropped from nine men to two almost immediately, it only just stayed on the table but dug in and useless. My own replies when they came were pathetic and only dinted a few German helmets.

My dodgy Humber.

Oblivious to the hut which is coming.

Dastardly Huns.

 The StuG and M10 settled down to a duel in which neither could knock out the other, my carrier and armoured car were worse than useless when returning fire, no, the Humber got one good shot in all game then nada. I was being forced to hit the ground as I could not dent the small squads due to my losses, even Duncan professed I was 'unlucky'.

German support.

This says it all as the clock ticked down.

 As the clock ticked down I was one point up but during the last turn I just could not hold things together with my survivors, the M10 went up in smoke, I lost the MMG and a squad, or maybe two, I was in shock as Duncan leapt to 4-1. So much for experience, the fact that the German dice came out first nearly every turn along with my pathetic shooting tilted the game in Duncan's favour, he also played well with his new troops and did not make any mistakes I could have jumped on, although on balance I would have fell over had I done so. I am bringing the Thunderbolts to the table next week, so the pressure is on not to fail again, not with my boys.

As for the cat, my 'hero' Rigsby from 'Rising Damp' always kicked his cat Vienna when things did not go his way, and I don't have a cat.

 I suppose I should have done this in my 2021 review, but as I am sitting with nothing to do and thankfully hardly any customers I decided to see just how many wargames I played in the last year. The grand total was 53, a few of which were remote games, at least a dozen perhaps at the beginning of the year. The overall winner was WWII with 19, followed quite surprisingly by the ACW with 11, War and Conquest 8, Seven Years War 6, Cowboys 3, French and Indian Wars along with Sci-Fi 4 and bringing up the rear with one each of Wings of War and Napoleonic Naval. There would usually be a few more different periods in the one to two range as club member Rob organises all sorts but Covid had a sobering effect early in the year. This year will probably be a re-run of the same as I really want to try and capture a willing player for some WWII mini campaigns, my pushing the ACW was a success last year as the boys have hardly been seen in the past twenty years since scaling the Wall.

Phase 1 of my plan for the year is going well, the Crusader SYW figures look really good once painted and I have used Contrast paints on the main red and white uniforms, so a wee bit of speed painting there. Once you get past that and the facing though you have all sorts of bits and pieces, buttons, musket, metal fittings, lace, scabbards, hats, all of which seem to take a lot of time. I was tempted to call a halt after the first battalions, but then ordered up the second lot and now they are here and on the paint tray, in order to complete the third lot, which I have not ordered yet, I have sent away for their flags and finials so I have to get them now.

Regiment Nice

 I am still only scratching the surface with my fixation on the Italian Wars, I am reading up on battles and looking at possible figure ranges, at the moment it seems to be Steel Fist and Foundry, I know both are not cheap ranges but they do look good. I am also keen to use speed paints on this new project, the basic Army Painter range is out in February and as I have quite a few GW Contrast paints this should be more than enough.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Fortuna seems to have deserted me

 The dust had hardly settled from the excellent Johnny Reb II game when I pitched up at the club with my War and Conquest troops, Simon had Romano-British and I had Saxon Heptarchy, I will have to experiment a bit with the Saxons as there are several lists for these early guys and I will also have to bring in my Patrician Romans for a bit of 'diversity' before the Woke crowd turn on me.

It was a small game of 2,000 points and the deployment was typical Dark Ages with a line of warriors facing each other, no cavalry this time on either side. I had Gedriht and Duguth supported by Pict and Frankish warbands along with the usual skirmishers, Simon had Comitatus, Milites and a Saxon warband with skirmishers. I got the first shots in the skirmish dual and out of 32 I got two kills, then the return fire routed one of my archer units which fled off table, it was going to return but was basically useless to me, the other one did stand against two British units but in the end it too fled, it too would return but too late in the game, not a great start.

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

The Franks, gah!

The lines clash.

 I got a bit distracted and failed to declare my charges not judging the distance correctly, should have went to Specsavers. I suffered for this as the British assaulted my line in the next phase and I narrowly held them back, with one of my three units actually winning. Those damn Franks could not turn hits into kills and only the size of their unit and the urging from the King kept them in the fray. As the combat continued I routed one of the Milites and turned the tables on the Comitatus while the Franks managed to keep fighting although losing. With things looking good my Gedriht threw away their advantage and routed, to be followed shortly after by the useless Franks, I blame Brexit, that was my right flank gone. No matter I looked like and was winning on the left, although the Picts had charged and lost the melee I had got a Duguth unit on the Saxon mercenaries flank which should turn the tide when they charged in, nearby a second Duguth force slaughtered their opponents and with only the chance of throwing snake eyes saving the enemy...... yep, snake eyes, the British survivors would stand for one more round.

Although I manged to get my Gedriht with the King to run for safety I could not stop the survivors receiving just enough missile hits to kill the King and disperse the hearthguard, snake eyes for me was not as good as the roll for Simon. And there endeth the tale as the clock struck 10, points wise the British had snuck a victory, tactically if we had managed one more turn I think the shoe would have been on the other foot, but that's wargaming.

Back to WWII next week, Duncan has been collecting and painting some mid-war Germans so we will do an 800 point Bolt Action game and I will bring my British who don't get on to the table very often. The week after Ed has offered to take my Seleucids against the mighty Twelfth, the lads are looking forward to it.

I have went a bit mad on books recently what with Amazon and Waterstone's gift certificates. The last volume of the brilliant sci-fi series The Expanse has now been published so I could not resist, I am also watching the final TV series of the books and am wondering how on earth they can tie up all the loose ends and leave the book readers happy. I think I am just going to admit although similar they are different and so far both are terrific.

Like a Brazen Wall has been getting a lot of grand reviews and as I am on a bit of a SYW bent at the moment until my last units are done I thought it time to get something on the British involvement in Europe. I also rendered the maps for the author, a very British Major General as it happens, a nice guy and a Scot. I also spotted Operation Jubilee while surfing and I couldn't help myself but buy it, I  read a book on Dieppe years ago and visited once, having seen the ground I could only shake my head on the stupidity of the raid.


Almost forgot, this one as well.

I put off picking this book up for a while as it is a beast at over 850 pages and I had just read a couple  by James Holland, also I have read a lot about the Battle of Britain over the years. Imagine my surprise to find it covers the first five months of the War and the Battle of Britain as I know it doesn't kick in until page 589. And this does not detract from the book at all, I can thoroughly recommend this as a great introduction to brave Blighty standing alone against a great evil.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Something wrong with the boys today

 Another Sunday of fun yesterday on a bleak January day. I had set up a Johnny Reb II game with three friends based, again loosely, on a battle from one of my scenario books. Loosely as I wanted it to be slightly more even than in the book as Rob had only had a few games and Ed was completely new to the game and period but what he lacks in knowledge he more than makes up with enthusiasm.

The battle was Chester Station in Virginia in 1864, in reality it was one Confederate brigade against two Federal as the second Reb brigade turned up late, too late to take part. This time I took the opportunity to put some of my larger regiments on the table,Yankee strengths were large at this action, and allowed the second Reb brigade to arrive on turn one, I also added some regiments to the OOB for both sides so that we got a decent fight out of the game, so 'loosely' based. For this game the Rebs had to capture the crossroads on Winfrey Ridge.

Rob took Hanson's Brigade on the right opposite the ridge and Harrow (Fran) defending while I took Gordon's on the left against Webb (Ed), names changed to suit the figures if you look it up. My plan was to sweep Webb away and turn and put pressure on Harrow, I wasn't sure what Rob's plan was apart from taking the ridge, we missed an opportunity to put a plan together while giving the Union players time to chatter, duh.

My boys arrive and are split by the farmhouses.

Rob's position with the ridge in the background.

 On arrival I duly advanced in force against Ed, he had some skirmishers out front at a farm and I planned to take them under fire with my skirmishers then advance two regiments and blow them away with concentrated firepower, my other troops would advance towards the edge of a wood to await my victorious left and then together assault the Yankees to win the woods. I pulled off the movement on the skirmishers only to have both my main assault troops fail miserably to cause any casualties on the enemy, as the smoke cleared to my horror the skirmishers were still there and my opening volley wasted. I couldn't just charge them as there were Union reserves behind the far fence which would have stopped any chargers who pursued the, hopefully, fleeing skirmishers dead. I fatally hesitated. Ed meanwhile advanced more of his men into the woods and took up defensive positions.

Rob's line advances, 6th Tex. already receiving fire.

Winfrey Ridge

The annoying skirmishers and Ed holds the woods.

 As I looked to the right Rob had moved into a small wood to his front held by Union skirmishers and began a desperate fight for the position, he was also moving the 6th Texas up against the Federal flank but it was being badly hit by Federal artillery. Rob won the wood and our artillery had forced Fran to pull his line back from the edge of the ridge, it looked like a stalemate was building up, Rob would take heavy casualties cresting the ridge while Fran would take punishment holding a forward position. The next time I looked over things seemed to be getting worse for the Union, some of their gun crews had been shot down while the dangerous Napoleon battery had had to retire to re-ammunition.

The woods battle on Robs flank.

Desperate struggle in the trees.

I move forward and fail to move the 52nd.

 Back on my flank I had to push a skirmish unit out to my right to stop Ed's battery taking potshots at my Savannah Guard, I really could have used it to move into the woods instead. Time was running out for us so I pushed two regiments towards the woods again hoping the weight of musketry would avail me something, but again my boys failed and I lost the firefight. Looking to the right I noticed Fran had rallied and was now pressing forward down the slope putting pressure on Rob, I decided to throw caution to the wind and charged the annoying skirmishers to my front, sure enough the 4th Va. managed it but got shot to bits by the 54th Mass and had to disengage, I followed this up however with another charge by the 1st Tennessee and the 54th instead of dealing out a lot of hurt fled for the rear in rout, maybe things were going to be alright after all. 

Rob wins the woods but slows down and Fran retires.

A juicy target which I missed.

 Fran had now seen an opening and a chance to wreck the Confederate centre which consisted only of skirmish lines, a successful charge would leave a huge hole in the line. Recognising this, albeit late, every gun and musket was turned on the 5th Minn. and the charge was stopped dead, another by Ed however did knock one of my regiments back but he disengaged to the shelter of the woods just in time. I now threw in my last chance at breaking the Yanks in the wood, the plucky Savannah Guard went in again and despite losing over 50% of its strength came so close to winning I looked to the heavens and asked "why?" My second charge with the 17th Tenn. failed miserably and was thrown back, and this regiment without so much as a bullet hole in its flag. I did manage eventually to get the 1st Tenn. in the wood and capture the 20th NY but it was too little too late, I had run out of steam, in fact the whole Confederate force had lost its offensive power.

That damned 52nd.

Stand off on the ridge.

 What went wrong, well although overall the dice Gods had been equally favourable to both sides success evaded me on several occasions by the narrowest of margins, my own men seemed to have given up in the latter part of the battle. I was also hampered by the terrain and having farms split my brigade but having said that I think I put too much effort on the left of my brigade rather than making a larger effort on my right against the woods. Ed fought well in his first game and the 52nd NY earned his respect for being immovable in those damn trees, this regiment was my undoing. The Savannah Guard on my side despite failing deserve an honourable mention. I cannot speak for the battle on the other side as I was heavily engaged running my own attack, but it looked just as desperate as my own and could have gone either way, a brave assault by Rob and an equally efficient defense by Fran.

I have finished the first of the last SYW battalions, the 25th Foot, the Regiment Nice is nearly there and I have two more on order.

 We had our annual Club dinner on Friday night at a Curry House in Lancaster, we almost had a full house and a great time was had by all. The restaurant did not have any 0% alcohol so I was forced to consume real drink, my intention was to make one pint last all night, however I got caught up in the excitement and managed three with another later as we moved on to a pub down the road. Even in the old days four pints would have been my limit, I have now consumed my entire allowance for 2022!

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Gembloux Gap 4: Villeroux

 Between Covid and the return of the annual cold the whole Festive Season has been a mixed bag for the Anderson family this year, me feeling lousy, one house in lockdown and No.1 son in limbo in Sicily after being arrested in Belgium and sent back to good old Blighty a few weeks earlier, having breached their rule change which didn't make it to the internet. It gave me a good excuse to wax lyrical and jingoistic about not sending us back in 1914 or 1940.

Enough sabre rattling, friend Matt whose family has also been hit hard by Covid over Christmas mooted that we should get on with our Gembloux Gap campaign, something I thought had been sunk by the hammer blows of fate, but no, the date was now written in code.

 I put the terrain together yesterday and we were ready to go by 1000 hrs this morning, Zoom on the iPad and the roving camera on Messenger on my phone, this setup has worked fine for all my remote games and being Scottish doesn't cost me anything. The French have been reeling back from 3rd Panzer Division's relentless advance and are now attempting to stop the Blitzkrieg at the small village of Villeroux, sadly for them some of the divisions armour has joined in this attack.

French 75mm infantry gun.

Firefight which the Poilu's lost.

Scenting victory the Germans advance.

 The Germans get a hefty eighteen points of support for this attack, so I chose an Adjutant, an extra Command die, a Shabby Nazi Trick, a pre-game Barrage, an infantry gun, Panzer II and a 232 armoured car along with a partridge, no, made up the last bit. I do have an SdKfz 222 armoured car but it is in mid-war colours so substituted the 232 which has the same armament, it's on my list for early war. Matt got a measly nine points and took an infantry gun and an extra squad. 

One abandoned tank and the armoured car.


 Now you have heard me going on, like many of us, about bad luck, whether mine or my opponents and this game was no exception for poor Matt. My first roll ended the turn so my pre-game Barrage went south as did Plan A, however I then proceeded to get the initiative for the next four phases. My troops leapt along both flanks while my vehicles took up position for when the Frenchies eventually showed up, it was a stroll in the park. Matt only managed to pop down his VB rifle grenadiers as the Boche closed in, these suffered for ruining the stroll in the park, their Junior Leader hit the dust as did half his team while the remaining troops broke for the rear. My men, especially on the left flank continued towards the empty French lines. Matt now brought on a squad to ruin my day but as I had garnered a Command die I interrupted and managed kills and shock putting them on the back foot against my own squad.
German 75mm infantry gun.

Stand off in the woods.

Another French squad arrived on my right but stayed put in the wood as I had a squad ready and waiting for them to advance while I concentrated on the left. Matt got a double turn and proudly explained his 75mm gun was turning up, sadly for him they listened to local Jean 'The Rat' Claude and decided instead to wait a turn. Eventually he did get the gun down and it commenced a dual with the Panzer II, although unable to knock out the little tank he caused enough shock to eventually make the crew abandon the vehicle. Now everyone else in the German force turned on the gun crew and soon they or rather the survivor was running for the rear. Elsewhere meanwhile The French had been losing Junior Leaders and an LMG team so when the gun crew ran their morale hit 1. The Germans also now began to send infantry along the road heading for the undefended centre of the village, Matt called it a day.

So, a welcome game and the first of 2022, a good victory for the Germans helped along by atrocious luck on the French side, the heap of consecutive phases, the loss of leaders and the delay in arriving all went against Matt. There are still three more tables to fight across, the next should prove more problematic for 3rd Panzer as it is quite open and the last is a fight in a large village, so still time for the French to slow the Blitzkrieg.

I have used the LMF over the festive season and got a couple of volumes for my upcoming project of the Italian Wars and took advantage of a sale at The Grand Manner to get several buildings to use on SYW battlefields, they are not painted and are on special offer I think until February, so I spent money to save money. I also have my new kits to build and paint, although these are on the back burner for now, the 8.8cm will be in grey along with the transport and the Dingo in drab for my Late War British. I have managed to get the 25th Foot to the point where they are ready for varnish and then flocking, the French Regiment de Nice is up next. So it is time really to make up my mind on whether to continue with Crusader or wait until Front Rank turn up at Gripping Beast for the next four battalions.

 The club is open on Tuesday but I have no plans yet to turn up until the 11th as the 4th will be my first day back at work so I might not feel like going out and the airwaves have been quiet so perhaps everyone else feels the same. Club dinner on Friday, looking forward to that.