Monday, 28 March 2022

Showdown in the Gin Pit

 Big day yesterday, Napoleonic game in Grange-over-Sands in the Gin Pit under the Keg and Kitchen pub, the weather was gorgeous as it usually is this time of year when you are hiding away in the depths playing with toy soldiers. There were eight of us around the table, me, Fran, Stuart and Rob for the Allies and Stewart, Julian, Paul and Ed for the French, the scenario was built around the fictional aftermath of Waterloo as the French army retreated and found an Allied force blocking the roads to Paris, they had to capture at least one road to continue the withdrawal.

The Allied army was already in position with their cavalry on the right flank where the ground suited them, next along around the Chateau Dobson was the Dutch/Belgian troops under Stuart who had a certain Richard Sharpe ensconced within the walls of the chateau. On the Allied centre left was Fran and then way out on the end of the line were my own Nassau troops with a couple of cavalry squadrons. From our positions we could see French troops opposite Fran and more opposite Rob leaving a rather large gap in the centre covered by a grand battery, it was obvious more French were on the way but where would they strike. Picking up whispers from across the table we deduced that our left flank was where the main effort would come, meanwhile a very large French cavalry and infantry force was opposite the Allied cavalry and from where I stood I could not see Rob lasting very long.

The French under starter's orders.

Scots Greys.

Sharpe (with coat).

Ed's less than enthusiastic troops.

 As the game started the Allied army except those around the chateau moved forward, I moved for a small hamlet to my front to contest the ground when the expected French reserves turned up, Fran made for a hedge line on which to anchor his defence. Wait, what's this, the crunch of boots and beating of drums heralded the arrival of the Imperial Guard (remnants of course), not on our left but on our right putting huge pressure on Rob and Stuart and determined to capture the road near the chateau. ADC's rushed about and Fran and I urged our troops forward intending to defeat Stewart's small French force to our front and then wheel to support our right and perhaps hit the Guard in the flank.

Ooops, the Guard arrive.

My brigade advances.

The defenders around the chateau.

 It took quite a bit of time to get our men into position and Stewart was putting up a spirited defence, over on the right Rob had thrown his cavalry forward against the tidal wave of blue bearing down on him and was surprisingly holding his own, the Allied troops around the chateau could do nothing but await the onslaught. The Brunswicker's in reserve were ordered to make ready to move, this order we later found out was somehow lost as the black uniformed Germans twiddled their thumbs. Fran was loathe to attack the enemy centre covered by the grand battery and concentrated on dispersing Stewart and could catch the guns on the hop, this took a lot of time. Due to command difficulties our main attack was late in coming but when it did it was a stunning success, I managed to get my light cavalry behind the French defences and in a position to frighten the guns, Fran's men made a superhuman effort and swept all before them, except one unit which just refused to budge and gained more time for the French main attack.

The Guard advance.

More Guard.

Julian beautiful brushwork.

 On the right the Allied cavalry had suffered but some still managed to survive and withdraw to reorganise, the French cavalry had been fought to a standstill and made way for the Guard to assault the thin line of defenders on the road. In between the gunfire slurs were heard thrown at Ed as his brigade halted on the river line seemingly held up by one unit of Allied dragoons on the opposite bank, protestations of having completed his orders held no truck with the French commanders. With the Allied reserve still refusing to bolster the weak line of defenders and at one point actually moving away from the fighting it looked like it was all over for the Allies. But no, time and time again the Guard was foiled and thrown back as the outnumbered Dutch and Belgians stood like stone walls in the face of the French tsunami. Rob's remaining cavalry also caused problems with the French not being able to ignore them and pile on even more pressure on Stuart's men. Now even Ed's men moved to join the desperate fighting.
Who wants to be on my side?

Fran and I having at last cleared away the enemy to our front now took on and routed the grand battery and surged forward, tantalising close to the French flank. At last the Brunswickers had deemed it proper to support their fellows on the front line, but it was too late, after hours of desperate combat Stuart's thin line broke and the way to Paris was open, albeit the door was only slightly ajar. With the full weight of Fran and I bearing down on the rear of the French army but still just out of reach several French units made it off the table to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat, the exhausted and wounded debris of the Guard fumed as those men turned out in the main to be Ed's!

What a marathon, my own legs were about to go after just over six hours of gaming, but a great spectacle and a nail biting finish played with a great bunch of guys, all enjoying the sheer brilliance of this hobby. And a big thanks to the organisers for all their efforts.

The first thing I saw apart from the large table on entering the Gin Pit were two units of lovely Italian Wars cavalry, Julian had brought them for my perusal, he is well in front of me as I still only have fifteen pikemen complete. Julian is the Del Boy of our club and has just got a great deal on a plastic Landsknecht starter army which will put him way ahead of me. For £66 he will have artillery, two large pike blocks and some crossbowmen while my troops were £106 for one block with some extras, gluing figures is just not for me no matter how nice they are and I am just set in my ways with metal. 

The Borgia's and Milanese.

 I am having a break from the club for the next few weeks as I will not have the time to turn up, so things will be a bit quiet until normal service resumes I suspect. The Oscars have just finished, not that they have any relevance for me or normal people for that matter but I do urge you to have a look at a great spoof of the show from a wargaming perspective and look in on The Caesars, by Little Wars TV.

Despite myself I bought three more Series 7 brushes and two are crap, they lose the point very quickly and as soon as I used them that single annoying hair stuck out, you know the one where you delicately cut it off and its mate turns up. So Winsor and Newton are dead to me now, I have started using my ABC brushes and they have been great, so much so that knowing the size of my new project I ordered up another couple of sets, I got 14 brushes for the price of one Series 7 and at that price even if I have to throw away a brush after completing a unit, who cares.

That's it for now, be back in a few weeks.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Busy Man Again

 Last week I finished my three Grand Manner buildings which are for the Seven Years War, I have one BUA (built up area) with a small farm but decided I needed a few more and GM had a very good sale on just before Christmas. I wasn't looking forward to painting them as I wanted to get on with other stuff, however they turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, this process was helped by using mainly contrast paints on them, I am really sold on these, not all of them for historical projects, but a lot of them.


I got my first Italian Wars figures in the post last week, all Wargame Foundry, I was told that they would possibly take ages to get ready for painting but to my surprise I found there was very little work involved, hardly any flash at all. I had messed up as usual and not got enough figures to give me the 48 man unit I wanted, I couldn't let it sit so ordered up them up, Foundry put them in along with my large free order and did not charge the postage, I was also very happy to see that the men came with pikes, not a lot of people do that, so well done Foundry. I do not really want to rush this army however I started painting sixteen of the figures on Sunday, they are very easy to paint and I have decided in the main to use Contrast paints, some of these are more like coloured washes but others are just perfect and you can also mix the weaker ones or give them a second coat.

 I am suffering from a bit of Italian Wars overload at the moment, I found a few blogs which have information on wargaming this period and have added them to my list. In reading them I find the period is quite diverse and the choices a wargamer has to make to get an army on the table are many. Of course what does it matter in the long run as my forces will most likely only ever grace my own table and no one else I know does Italian Wars, although Julian is painting up some cavalry at the moment. But here is the rub, I will know that those Swiss are more suited to 1494 rather than 1525 or that captain in charge of the victorious gendarmes at my attempt at the battle of Pavia actually died at Fornovo 25 years before or they are fighting for the Swiss Confederation in 1513 but have French flags. I have decided on a compromise, the first troops will be roughly based on Pavia and then I shall expand backwards to 1494 bringing in different factions and troop types. See, that wasn't hard was it.

Most of the guys I normally game with were not at the club this week so I was teetering on having a break when Ryan asked if anything was going. I offered him a game of Blood Bowl Sevens, it was about time my investment in this game got an outing against someone other than my son. 

Jim: Lanark Lemmings v Carluke Crunchers Bob?

Bob: This game is all or nothing for the Lemmings Jim, unless it's a draw.

 The first half found the Lemmings struggling to get the ball and then clear it from their own half, the Lemmings dealt out some pain but not enough to halt the Crunchers and push them back or get an opening, all their time was spent defending and desperately trying to keep the Orks from making a touchdown.

Jim: Bob, the Lemmings have a lot going forward and a lot coming back to go forward.

Bob: It'll make people sit and stand up Jim.

The second half and the Lemmings are on the attack, the forwards bulldoze a path for the ball carrier and he can almost touch the scoring line, just one more push and the Crunchers will be unable to stop him. Egged on by the crowd the player leaps forward and crashes face down on the grass and the ball bounces away to be picked up by the Crunchers, the home crowd are furious. The Crunchers now play a blinding pass to an unmarked catcher in the Lemmings half, a leap and the ball is caught, the Lemmings are not in a position to intercept and desperately try and run back the length of the pitch. It is too late and touchdown for the Crunchers! The Lemmings receive and have virtually no chance of getting an equaliser in the dying minutes, sure enough the whistle blows and it is 1-0 for the Carluke Crunchers.

Jim: The Crunchers created seven chances last season Bob, 49 of them were from open play.

Bob: Today was a good stroke of bad luck for the Lemmings Jim.

Spectacular fail in the closing minutes

A nice bit of fun and we had a few laughs although I am beginning to get the sense that I need new D6's for the Lemmings, too many 1's.

I was supposed to be playing War and Conquest last Sunday but Mark sadly could not make it. I have a large Napoleonic game this Sunday in Grange-over-Sands organised once again by Rob and Julian, I missed the last one so I am looking forward to this one. I have also had an invite to travel up the M6 to Penrith next month for an Operation Sealion game with Matt Crump of Wargames in the Dungeon, I also have Partizan in May and a possible trip to Bristol in June for a games day organised by Rob Broom and hopefully some Chain of Command with mate Matt Smith. So fingers crossed.

The floodgates have now opened and last week I received three map projects (WWI, Falklands and the Quiberon Expedition of 1795) along with a request for some organisation diagrams. So I am once again a busy man.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

More SYW and a Victory

 Nights are getting lighter, not quite dark when I turned up at the club, Seven Years War again, I had planned a two vs two game but it became one vs two as I could not entice a fourth into the game. The forces were the same as the previous week each side having two four battalion brigades and two artillery pieces each, there are no cavalry or more infantry due to the limits of my back, the table size and the time element. These figures look very impressive when deployed and I was continually asked what size they were, they are in fact 28mm from foot to eye level, but then the top of the head and the large hats, especially the mitre's, add several more millimeters to make them look very tall indeed. 

So, a simple meeting engagement, we diced for which section of the table the brigades would deploy on and we ended up with both sides opposite each other, no gaps. I took the French and Stewart and Stuart took the British. I had two Dependable commanders while the British suffered from two Ditherers, this played havoc with the British advance or non advance as it turned out, even the British CinC's urgings having no significant effect on his officers.

My right flank moves forward.

I play cautious with my left.

Wild Geese

 I advanced with my right flank brigade and gun against Stewart, hoping the artillery would tip the scales in my favour, the British had kept both of their guns together on a hill in the centre, my left merely advanced and held the forward slope of a small ridge, I threw the Normandie battalion out on my left toward a wood which Stuart had sent a Highland battalion to in order to possibly outflank my line. The gun supporting this brigade barked and first blood to me, the British artillery seemed unsure whether to advance or remain on their own hill, in the end both guns stayed on the hill, from which they fired ineffectively all game, much like they did last week. Stewart formed up a decent firing line on my right and this caused the Garde Lorraine to eventually break and retire, things looked desperate for a moment until I trundled my gun up into the line along with the Royal Bavaire which stabilised the brigade and began to deal out casualties against the red line. The 87th and then the combined Grenadiers 51/24th both routed and left a huge hole in the British line, flushed with success I moved my remaining battalions forward as Stewart tried to retire to safety.

More Wild Geese

Scots and Grenadiers

The artillery lends a hand

 On my left Stuart had a dreadful time trying to get his men to advance while my gun played on them with excellent accuracy, I saw an opportunity to pour overwhelming musketry into his left hand battalions but this time my own men refused to move and the moment was lost. The Irish battalion of Clare took the brunt of the British fire and ran for the rear, a British battalion then followed, then another, the British teetered on the brink of having to withdraw. In a last desperate effort Stuart advanced the Scots Guards against another Irish battalion hoping to deliver a devastating close range volley, I now had the opportunity of flanking this move but it meant turning the flank of my grenadier battalion to the British artillery, having managed a double move I decided instead to charge the guns, I needed one more enemy unit to break for victory. As the smoke cleared on the last turn I managed, after a struggle, to cut down the artillerymen and gain victory.

The hopeless Royal Artillery

The End

 Another excellent game which really went all my way, the Ditherers had a dreadful effect on British plans as getting them to go forward turned into a chore, on the plus side they did win every fire initiative only one of which might have moved my victory closer quicker. 

I have now finished the first of my SYW buildings from Grand Manner, I was not looking forward to painting these as they looked quite complex, however in the end it turned out alright, I used contrast paints for most of it and then gave the building an overall wash, this gave it a bit of a shine so I will be giving it a spray of anti-shine as soon as the weather improves. Doing these feels like a chore because I have a bunch of new figures coming for the Italian Wars and that's what I really want to start on.

 I am continuing to add to my Italian Wars flag collection, I am choosing standards in use from Ravenna 1512 to Pavia 1525 and as illustrated or described in Helion's Italian Wars volumes. As I mentioned above I have my first figures for the new project ordered up, my first unit will be a Swiss pike block in French service, according to the books the Swiss did not use their cantonal banners while in the pay of France. I have ordered up all the figures for this unit along with some skirmishing arquebusiers as a shield from Wargames Foundry, I saw these at York and really liked them. At the same time I got some tubs of my favourite 4Ground Late Summer Grass as they are closing down, 80mm wire spears for quite a lot of guys and a large number of bases for both infantry and cavalry, all in I am short of nearly £200, this actually had me thinking of plastic, but I got over it.

 I finished my last map projects in early February and used the spare time, sorry, wasted the spare time mostly on YouTube and reading while in the PO, apart from starting the flags a week or so ago. I got two emails this morning for new map projects, so having plenty of time I am now going to fight to find time to paint the last of the SYW buildings, the new figures and map as well. Careful what you wish for.

Are wargaming blogs done for, a question raised by 'Big Lee' on his YouTube channel, which I can recommend passing some time having a look at while enjoying a coffee for ten minutes. I do not follow a great many blogs and of the ones I do follow I 'know' most of the writers and have actually met some, and find their interests and views of wargaming more or less mirror my own and I find them entertaining. I blog myself quite selfishly for my own sanity, I wrote for wargaming magazines for decades and enjoyed it, when this ended partly by my life changing decision to buy a Post Office I found the blog scratched an itch for me, I am no Shakespeare but like to think I can string two words together better than most of today's yoof. I do not do it for recognition but I do enjoy it when people appreciate my ramblings and leave a comment, I do not always comment either but it is nice. So from my perspective I hope to enjoy it for a while yet.

 Right, that is it for now, I have friend Mark Walker coming on Sunday for some serious War and Conquest battles, EIR vs EIR and Normans vs Saxons, I am happy enough leading the Twelfth out for a fight but am using my Heptarchy Saxons as 1066 Saxons for the other game, this is out of my comfort zone, all is in the lap of the Gods, Roman or Anglo-Saxon.

Friday, 11 March 2022

SYW showdown

 Bitterly cold on Club day but it didn't seem so bad after dark, even managed to park without a problem this time. I had looked online for a small scenario but had no luck, most were either too small or too big or the table was six feet across, you might hear my back groan from there. I had downloaded some Tabletop Teasers but for the life of me cannot find them, job for later. I therefore looked to my maps for the American War of Independence Atlas (I am assured it will be published this year, but I have my doubts as we are half way through March) and settled on White Plains. I only took the basics for the game from the map.

 So, we have the French in position on a long ridge with the British in the valley attempting to drive them off, the only significant terrain is a large orchard between the lines in the centre, there should have been a small creek but it was not important. I took the right flank with five battalions and two guns while Simon had the left with four battalions including the Scots Guards. Stuart had the French right with four battalions and one gun while Rob was opposite me again with four battalions (one grenadiers) and one gun.

I decided to simply march forward and bring overwhelming fire to bear on the French line as it would be four battalions versus three, my guns hopefully would weaken the enemy so that I could cause them to retire and then mount the ridge to help Simon. As my men boldly marched to the sound of the drums and fifes they began to take casualties, these began to mount alarmingly and my line began to break up. My artillery barked and pathetically caused one casualty on the Grenadiers de France, this was to be the high point of their entire action. Simon on the left also advanced with vigour but Stuart moved to counter him and also pushed the Garde Lorraine into the orchard on the British flank, this caused a commotion as the British tried to counter this. Troops do not manoeuver well in the SYW.

The British left.

The French right.

My Jocks.

 As my attack stalled I threw caution to the wind and charged in the 87th Highlanders against the Garde Ecossaise whom they caused to flee the ridge but due to no support left themselves vulnerable to a French counter. The grueling French musketry along with their artillery fire had done for my brave boys, and they pulled back to reorganise, as I licked my wounds and had stern words with the Royal Artillery commander I realised I had lost two battalions and doubted whether my men were up to another attack. 

My reserve and useless guns.

Simon advances.

The 88th about to suffer.

 On the left Simon had managed to hold off the Garde Lorraine and push the French back from their position causing them to lose two battalions, but he had also suffered and lost men. Stuart managed at the last moment to stop his brigade from disintegrating. As we looked over the battlefield both sides were one point away from their army break point and neither was going to manage it before the clock struck 2200 hrs. We declared a draw, with time perhaps Simon could have forced Stuart to withdraw but I could not have continued with an assault with my depleted brigade, so the result was fair.

My high water line.

Simon about to push forward.

It is a hard job to attack defenders in HoW, even more so when your opponent (Rob) failed to throw under a 4 on average dice for firing and your own artillery simply missed every shot bar one. Despite this it was a good game and the SYW does look good on a table, both Rob and Stuart now have the rules which was also a big help as it takes the pressure off running the game and trying to keep it right. I learned a few important points of the rules and have come to like them even more.

The 8th Foot and the Royal Baviere have now joined the forces of both sides and that is them complete for the foreseeable future, three infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade for both sides is more than enough for games here or at the club

With the last of the SYW project complete I turned back to the vehicles I built a wee while ago, I had already primed them so set about weathering them, the German stuff was lightly done as I see them trundling into France fairly new. I have no idea what use the little Dingo will be in a game but as it was a present I thought why not, the markings are for 15th (Scottish) Division recce, again lightly weathered for summer in Normandy. I still have the crews to do and they are almost done on the tray, stowage is also on the cards but that can wait, I have six men for the 8.8cm gun and a driver for the Dingo, I don't normally bother with drivers but decided to pop him in this one. I am not keen on Rubicon crew figures for WWII I cannot get the impression of Ken (Barbie) dolls in uniform out of my mind.

 As you know I should be starting the Italian Wars in a few weeks, I had plans to use the lovely Pete's Flags for the troops, still do for some, but as I looked through the Helion books I found some characters who are not covered by Pete but that I wanted in my forces. Robert Stewart, Seigneur de Aubigny captain of the Scots Guard and John Stewart, Duke of Albany, I have had to use the latter's arms as a banner. Interestingly I also found out that Edmund de la Pole, the last Yorkist heir to the throne of England was killed at the battle of Pavia, and as a confirmed Yorkist supporter I found his arms and made a banner from them. I intend to spend some more time on my own banners.

Aubigny, De la Pole, Albany

Duke of Bourbon


 At last, a film I thoroughly enjoyed and with a twist in the tail which was a complete surprise to me at least, you might work it out quicker, 'Old Henry' on NOW. Not a woman or woke message in sight, just a good story, well told and acted.

Not a lot of joy on the book front, I started James Holland's 'Brothers in Arms' after his superb 'Battle of Britain' and found once I had put it down I could not pick it up again. I just had to give up, I don't know what it was but it was not for me. On the other hand I got two books on the Fall of France in 1940, I have begun Alistair Horne's book 'To Lose a Battle' and was immediately drawn in, it is an old book now but I know I am in for a good read.