Monday 27 June 2022

Kettle Run, run, run

 I am still busy having taken on too much map wise recently, however I hope to finish several projects this week or in the next few days so that the pressure is off and I am back to normal, it's my own fault as I like to get things finished sooner rather than later and funnily enough, like to help people out.

Last Tuesday at the club was an ACW game with the Warlord Epic scale figures and Black Powder rules organised by Fran from one of my scenarios, Kettle Run. Fran has worked on the rules to give more of an ACW feel to the basics and has been play testing them for some time but I have not been able to join in until now. The Confederates hold a wood quite far forward from their main line and the Union objective is to throw them out of it and force the Rebs to withdraw, I had the Union left along with the part of the centre and Alex held the right. A small conflab was held and we decided to try and weaken the Reb units holding the wood then attack and throw them out, a mistake as it turned out, but a well thought out one, going hell for leather for formed troops with clean muskets and at close range does not usually bode well, and at that point we were not prepared to throw our men's lives away.

The musket duel in the woods fell the Confederates way, my own fire was ineffective while my regiments began to take casualties making charges all the more doubtful. Union reserves now turned up and I pushed a brigade forward on the extreme left, these guys were really keen until they saw grey jackets in front of them when it then took heaven and earth to move them. Alex slowly advanced to contact over on the right, by now the Rebs had brought more men forward and their line had solidified and the troops in the objective now had reserves behind them.

The Wood.

Nicely painted Zouaves.

Full house at the club.

Just before the end.

 A bit late I now asked my boys to charge, which they refused to do twice as more and more Rebs turned up, when one regiment did gather enough courage to surge forward it was beaten and ran for the rear taking a supporting regiment with it, a hole had appeared in the Union line, as I tried to fill it I lost another two regiments and the hole got bigger,  you could sit an entire brigade in it, if you had one spare. As we neared the final turns it was obvious we were not even going to squeeze a minor win from the debacle, thankfully Stewart and Fran did not break into a Rebel Yell.

A good game but my timidity and disastrous morale rolls at the end finished it for the Federals. How did the rules play, better than vanilla Black Powder and with more of an ACW flavour I suspect than the ACW supplemental rules, I cannot fault my own choice of Johnny Reb 2 but I would happily play these again at the club.

Nothing new on the Italian Wars front at the moment, I have finished the horses for the gendarmes along with two standards and the riders are 60% done but I have not been able to concentrate on them for a week or so. Not so sure I will get much done this week either as I have the club on Tuesday and a refight of Kettle Run (using JR2) with Fran here on Friday and then Matt Crump coming on Saturday for a War and Conquest Dark Ages clash on Saturday.

I went to the National Royal Navy museum in Hartlepool yesterday as I had noticed it some time before and thought it would be worth a visit and bring back some memories for an old Jack Tar. I hate to be downbeat about things like this but the museum was really about the frigate HMS Trincomalee which is now 204 years old and the oldest floating warship in Europe, second in the world I think, and my own experience does not extend to the early 19th C. So much for the 'National' part of the title. There was a walk through of life on a ship of the line back in the day and it was pretty good although one part of the voice over was impossible to hear, the exhibition on the building of the ship, it was built in Bombay, was ruined by the lighting being off for some reason so it was difficult to read large parts. There was a large play area for kids on one side of the dock and a couple 19th C. rooms on the other. The ship looked kind of 'dumpy' to me for a frigate which I had always considered the 'greyhounds of the fleet', what do I know though as 47 of the same class were built and she was very well armed. There was a lack of real information on the ship with only a token notice here and there, I knew what many of the rooms and equipment were but to a landlubber it would have been a mystery, you could buy a £5 guide to keep the ship afloat but this I thought would have been better done like many museums with a large, see-through box at the exit in which to drop donations, not many people bought the book that I saw. If you were in the area and had a couple of hours to spare it is worth the visit to see the old girl and help preserve her. I will give them kudos for not shoe horning in 'the message' which ruins so many other exhibits, although the midshipman's voice did sound suspiciously female.........

No, not original crew.

So there we go, late but better than never, fifteen minutes to go before I open the door to the great unwashed, although it is torrential rain at the moment.

Monday 20 June 2022

Gin Time

 Rob and Stuart took over the Gin Pit again this Sunday for another Black Powder Napoleonic game with added British battalions. There were two games this time for the eight of us who turned up, both were based on Waterloo, one involved the defence of Hougoumont and the other the defence of Plancenoit and Frischermont.

I was with Stuart at Hougoumont and opposite us was Julian and Ed, the French got a free opening barrage which did not trouble us much at all, as now seems the norm for these games the Frenchies put all their eggs in one basket and sent the Guard in against the left flank of the farm complex, just where I was, while a couple of battalions watched the French left opposite Stuart with his unreliable Hanoverians. As I looked at the mass ranks of the Guard bearing down on me I decided to commit our reserves at once, a brigade of Brunswickers and one of British.

French grand battery.

Usual suspects and George 2 (behind red shirt)


 Stuart's Hanoverians proved unreliable and he was taking a long time to get them to move forward. My thin ranks took some punishment from the French massed batteries (eight) before their own troops masked their targets, which was just as well as my casualties were steadily climbing. Then a well prepared assault hit my line, desperate fighting occurred and I lost one battalion which fled the field, another fell back out of harms way, things looked dicey. As the smoke cleared my line had held albeit it just, the reserves now plugged the gaps and the dying continued. Meanwhile around the chateau Ed's French had cleared the woods to the front of the buildings and had managed to rout the foot guards behind the main wall, this suprised me as I expected more from the Guards, the French were now in the courtyard.

French Guard hit my line.

Massed French columns again way out to the left.

My troops ready to contest the courtyard.

 A quick look to my left and I could make out another huge French assault going in on Frischermont against Rob's defenders, while the Allied troops around Plancenoit watched and waited.

Back on my table a see saw struggle for the courtyard was going on and the French managed to assault the main chateau until one of my reserve battalions also entered the courtyard to give succour to the defenders. Stuart had now called on our reserve cavalry to enter the fray, the French did the same and charge and countercharges now covered the right flank, from where I was standing I think both sides fought themselves to a standstill with the French not having any further reserves to give that final push to break through.

Plancenoit is all quiet.

Allied cavalry near Plancenoit.

Frischermont and it is all over.

 Meanwhile I had sent the Guard packing and they fell back, I reorganised my line and decided to stay where I was rather than advance. A fluke of the rules caused a blunder which saw the French guns advance and take up a position in front of the shaken Guard, the rain of shot and shell now began to take its toll on the morale of my brigades and several battalions fell back, the rest I moved back to try and open the range. It was accepted by the guys on the left flank table that after some very desperate fighting Frischermont might indeed fall but Plancenoit would be safe. With the French at Hougoumont fought out and with only a tenuous hold on the courtyard we too decided it was all over.

Again a great day from Rob and Stuart and a great effort to turn the Gin Pit into two different parts of Waterloo. Thanks to all who made it a good day. I seemed to get more photos from the opposite table.

Fran who has the Warlord 'Epic' 12 mm ACW is putting on a game tomorrow night using one of my scenarios as a base for his game. I am a committed Johnny Reb man and have been for thirty years but I know Fran has tweaked Black Powder quite a bit for his games, this will be my first time to take part.

I have not done a lot of painting over the last week, my arm has now got a lot better but I have still not overdone it although I have finished the horses, I will move on the riders and a two man LMG team this week but again, slowly. I also have two French flags to draw up for the unit, nothing fancy just two bog standard French banners.

I am going to be closing a bit sooner now as the PO have declared I will be wound up on 6th September and not my preferred date of 30th. No argument here.

Friday 17 June 2022


 This week found me in Vietnam in command of an M48 and two squads of Grunts in M113's on the left flank of an operation to sweep towards a river and bridge. Andy had the table ready when I got there, I was impressed, even more when he started laying out the figures, lovely little 20mm vehicles and troops, along with civilians, water buffalo's and various hooches. 

 The game used Force on Force rules and again I was quite impressed by them, I think if the game had been any larger there might have been issues but the set up was perfect, Simon and I had never played before so relied a lot on Andy keeping the game running, which he did. I had a quick look at the books and I think we skimmed over a lot of the deep stuff but it suited us for a quick dabble in a new type of warfare.


As I said above I took the left and as I drove through some paddy fields a bunch of VC popped up and took out one of my M113's, I had already dismounted my squads near the edge of the wood and took 'Charlie' under fire, I was determined to be aggressive. Simon on the right got into a firefight with some NVA regulars in a dense wooded area, he too quickly lost his transports and one of his tanks was none too keen to get any closer to the enemy. It proved very tough to capture the wood and casualties were high on both sides, the NVA fought like fanatics until the last man fell.

 I was luckier and as the VC to my front proved less than competent I closed and shot them down, along with three poor civilians, capturing several wounded Cong who died shortly after. Simon's tank raced for the bridge to beat me to it but hit a mine and threw a track. At this point we called a halt and gave the Yanks the victory, there was still one NVA squad in the area but it was getting ready to pull out by using the tunnel system.

I really enjoyed the game being a Nam vet myself, does a holiday count? Although I like my 28mm WWII I am always glad to see Andy's 20mm pieces on the table, and he has a lot. I could really be tempted by this period, down boy.

And so back to the Italian Wars, my latest pike blocks are Black Band Landsknechts fighting for the French I still have one more to complete but decided to take a break and paint the gun and crossbowmen before moving on more sharp sticks. When I first received the crossbows from The Assault Group I thought they looked a bit bland and quickly put them in the drawer. Once I had cleaned them up and added the crossbow I changed my mind, and once primed they really stood out, smaller than the chunky Foundry figures and more anatomically correct they really are nice additions, I have in fact now ordered up another eight to shield the second pike block when I get around to it. The gun and crew are simply lovely. I now have six gendarmes on the tray but have not had the time to do more than prime them at the moment, probably next week before I can get started on them.

 It looks like the sun has finally ventured north from that little corner of the south east, but of course no one is happy as it is very hot, we will probably roast for five days or so now. In expectation of nice weather the LMF has treated Mrs A. to a summer house for the garden, my star is in the ascendant for now. I didn't build it of course but I did help paint it, twenty two years we have been here and still the damn garden doesn't seem to meet the Memsahibs requirements, although she does do a lovely job keeping it.

 Maps continue to keep me busy, I have now had commissions from South Africa and the US alongside my normal Helion work, hence no painting this week or probably next.


We have another large Napoleonic game in Grange this Sunday at the Gin Pig, more British this time as several of the guys have been painting like mad to add the redcoats to the collections. Black Powder continues to conquer the club, I will be taking part in Fran's ACW game on Tuesday with his 'Epic' range from Warlord Games. Right that is it for now, the sun is up and the great British public will be hammering at the door in fifteen minutes disturbing me from my real job of drawing maps.

Oh, my resignation is in and posted in the PO window, I was expecting a lynch mob "coming down here, taking our women, taking our jobs..." but I have had nothing but good wishes from villagers on the website, on reflection as only 5% of the population actually use the place most will not care two jots. Everyone received a timely piece of PO info today, in essence it was telling people not to bother taking their parcels to the local PO but instead get the postage online (it's cheaper!) and the postie will pick it up and even bring the label, why bother about your friendly, neighbourhood Subpostmaster's business going down the tubes. Mine is already in the pipes so no sweat there.

Wednesday 8 June 2022


 Tempus Fugit as the Romans say, another week gone and still no sign of a real summer north of the Watford Gap.

It was Chain of Command for Simon and I, we chose the Flank Attack scenario and I was the attacker, originally I got 8 support points and Simon had 4, with the difference in our platoon strengths Simon got another 3 giving him 7, so I was expected to attack on a 1 to 1 basis. We had a talk about the points and in the end we agreed I would get 10 and Simon 7. I had a Heer platoon and spent nearly all my points on a StuH 42 and with my extra two took a second Senior Leader. Simon changed tack and brought a T-70 along with a MMG team.

The Russians defend the far left corner.

 I put two squads on my left flank and one on the right, this I decided to supplement with the tank, the Russians were all in one quarter of the table and everything except one squad was brought on to defend the area, I also quickly had all my men on the table ensconced in buildings. The defenders could have done with some fieldworks but nevertheless put up a brave fight until my tank turned up, this proved the king of the battlefield and Soviet casualties began to mount, the T-70 preferred to keep out of sight of the StuH. Simon did take advantage of a double move to surprise me by advancing on one of my Jump Off Points, a good move, but I had defenders right next to it and they eventually wiped out the brave Russians.

Battle winner.

I had to use this as a JOP.

Simon's lovely Russians.

 My tank was causing havoc and as the clock ticked down I brought my infantry out from cover and began to advance on the Soviet position. I was doing nicely until Simon killed one of my Senior Leaders and my morale took a -3 hit, however it was only a minor setback and as my tank continued to advance with impunity Simon called a halt. A German win.

Schnell, schnell.

A reluctant T-70.


 We discussed that the Soviet list in the original rule book was not up to scratch and we needed to look more closely at the armies for the year we were playing, the Germans are not so bad but the Soviets need work. The support lists are not great either in that there are loads of options you will simply never be able to get your hands on, especially as a defender because you will never have the points available. I think the trick is to ditch the scenarios in the book and sort something out for yourself. The same problems do not rise so much in the mini-campaigns. Anyway that is work for another day.

I have completed my third pike block, Landsknechts of the 'Black Bands' in French Service led by the Duke of Suffolk killed at Pavia in 1525, I will be doing a second such pike block to either join these guys or fight on its own. Although I have the figures I am taking a 'rest' and painting up a gun and crossbownmen, these I cleaned up and primed today. I am becoming more comfortable painting these figures, my first pikes were Swiss and apart from the odd slash on the clothing I kept them plain albeit it coloured, these guys are real Landsknechts so I have made more of an effort with some of the clothing, I am keeping the real colourful stuff for Imperial Landsknechts. I have looked at many illustrations online and re-enactors along with tapestries from the period, and I don't buy into the more bizarre representations shown.


Rear ranks.

Full block.

I think next week I am off to Vietnam at the club, Andy is running the game and it will be a nice change. It makes me remember sitting at a quiz on the rig and the question was what was the real name of the VC in the Vietnam war, the table next to us in a loud hush said "Charlie".

Much as I tried to hide from the Jubilee I was snookered as my granddaughter was here and I was to be on my best behaviour. We went to Morecambe on the Friday night for the beacon lighting only to find out I had a bigger gas ring on my cooker as the real beacon had not turned up, then the heavens opened and we got soaked, a hasty retreat was beat. Friday it was the local school grounds and maybe less than 10% of the village turned up for the festivities, yes the weather was not great but it was dry and some people had put a lot of effort in. Saturday and Carnforth had the same problem, again a fraction of the population turned up, we decided to head for Lancaster only to find out nothing at all was going on and the funfair had not turned up. A very poor show oop North hereabouts. I did manage to stay out of the way of the concert and pageant and only saw enough to confirm my innate miserableness as I retreated to my study.