Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Coming Out

 I don't like Black Powder, there, said it. With the triumphant march of the rules and its variants at the club over the past six months or so this might smack of a touch of nose and face, but first some reports.

Two weeks ago I played in a Very British Civil War scenario when I sadly forgot to bring my phone so no pictures I'm afraid. There were Socialists, Government forces, Loyalists (me) and some aristocracy out for themselves, the Commies had taken possession of an antique armoured car with no engine from a local museum and were taking it somewhere by horse power to fix up. Everyone else were determined to stop them and take the metal beast for themselves. A very mixed up fight ensued which basically left only the Socialists standing with an empty road for their escape, the game looked very good with some lovely figures supplied by Rob and was simply a killing spree with the huge amount of casualties on all sides attesting to the bitter fighting.

And then came last night, Stewart Simon offered an ECW game with Pike and Shotte rules, we ended up with three of us playing and Stewart umpiring. It was a small battle from the rule supplement for the ECW, Stuart (2) and I were the Royalists attempting to get to Shrewsbury while Simon and his Parliamentarians blocked the road. Although we had the numbers the enemy were in a good defensive position and we had to navigate several fields surrounded by hedges, it was a small table and there was no room for maneuver so we decided just to go straight forward and trust in God and our righteous cause, big mistake in a wargame.

We got off to a shaky start but I managed to get my men closer to the enemy and behind a hedge, my idea being to unload a storm of lead into the defenders on my flank, after some time behind the hedge and several volleys later I had killed one unlucky fellow and scared off all the birds in the area. Stuart didn't have much better luck on my left and his cavalry were thrown back twice in lacklustre charges against enemy dragoons. It was now my turn to grasp the bull and in went some musketeers against an annoying gun and my cavalry swept forward with aplomb with infantry behind them in support. Their target, dragoons, evaded, so my boys put the anchors on and stopped half in and half out of a hedge, this caused a bottleneck as the dragoons came back and and again evaded the charge with my guys picking pieces of greenery out of their mouths, a shout went up for someone at the rear to pass a rule book forward.

At the same time all along the line our troops began to disappear or stand rooted to the ground disordered, Stuart had one success but it was not enough, we ran out of steam and we retired to Ludlow with its Michelin starred restaurants, who needs Shrewsbury.

Before I go on I have to say what a beautiful collection of troops we had the pleasure to play with, Stewart (1) had started collecting them when he was about 13 or 14 and he won't mind me saying but he is no spring chicken now, however he was an excellent painter at such a young age as these troops showed. A real wargame army of the old school and a joy to see and play with.

What about Black Powder you say, well, the combat with my cavalry and the dragoons started me, the dragoons made the command throw to evade, they can then shoot with no penalty as my horse thunders in (I use the term loosely as you will see), bring up their horses, mount and retire unharmed, my boys seemingly then have to stop on the original position. In the next turn, yep, the dragoons can then move back to where they started, dismount and volley my guys at close range. My turn, and the whole cycle repeats, they evade and I can't pursue, no, not on my watch. Yes, I get that they are 'big game' rules and abstract but that now sounds more like an excuse than a reason for such nonsense as I have just described. I will still take part in Rob's excellent Napoleonic days in Grange as much for the company as the game but otherwise, I am done with them.

I am still forging ahead with the Renaissance, an artillery piece this time with an Italian crew, I have also just about finished my first general figure, Guillaume Gouffier de Bonnivet, Admiral of France, but you will have to wait for him although he is 90% complete. Next up is another crossbow unit, then some arquebusiers, all from The Assault Group before I get a look at their pikemen.

That's it for now, some sci-fi adventure with Simon next week.

Monday, 18 July 2022


 I didn't go to the club last week so no report from there, I just felt like a night off, which is strange really as it is the only night during the week I make an effort and venture abroad, a bit like saying I am retiring when I only serve at most a dozen people a day. The PO have brought forward my date so I am free from the 31st August.

Mark from Grantham arrived this morning for a game of War and Conquest, Mark was bringing Normans, you know I have no love for Normans, whom I usually fight with my Patrician Romans as they too have good cavalry. This time however I thought I would use my Saxons and fit them into the Anglo-Saxon list, firstly it made for an historical match and secondly early Saxons would simple be a speed bump for a Norman army. I am not keen on either of these armies under WAC lists and believe they are far too top heavy and there is no compunction to take cannon fodder, anyway enough whinging.

I chose to take one complete unit of Thegns and then four combined units with Thegns in the front two ranks and the rear rank made up of said cannon fodder, two further units of Ceorls completed my battle line, some cavalry and skirmishers were in support. The Normans had two units of cavalry and three elite infantry units along with a unit of massed archers, two heavy crossbow units and two large skirmish units. Looking across the battlefield it was obvious the Saxons had more men however the Normans had upgraded everything as far as I could see and these enhancements were not cheap, the Saxons had brought some javelins for the Ceorls.

Saxons on the left, Normans on the right.

Saxon lines.

Norman lines.

The terrain gods were on my side and my right flank was a mass of underbrush, woods and heavy going thus cutting down the chances of the enemy cavalry getting around my flanks, Mark deployed with an infantry centre lined with crossbows and missile troops and cavalry on the flanks. I put my cavalry and slingers on my left and then a solid line of infantry with archers on my extreme right, I hoped to force the flanks and hold my centre until this happened before moving it forward. Mark seemed quite happy to see me advance onto his missile troops while pushing against my right, only I did not move my centre and instead went into shieldwall to help nullify the effect of the crossbows. I also saw that my skirmish cavalry were going to be of no use on the left so sent them to the right.

Saxon right advances.

Saxon left advances.

Saxon king and bodyguard.

The Saxon wings close in.


My plan was working and I soon had a powerful right flank which overwhelmed his skirmishers and sent them packing, my cavalry also managed to eventually work their way into the Norman rear and threaten the crossbows. This forced Mark to advance his cavalry and an infantry unit, the cavalry were beat and although his infantry won my men managed to out run the pursuit and survive the fight, they did this twice. A mistake led the second Norman cavalry unit to advance and suffer from javelins which hit them as they ran along the front of the main Saxon battle line to their doom. I had by now began to push my left flank towards the massed archers, these decided to charge and sadly for Mark they failed to move the Thegns to their front, Ceorls now attacked into the melee from the hill and the archers fled.

Norman right about to break.

Doomed Norman cavalry.

Hold, hold......

The end is nigh.


Both Norman flanks were now in trouble, I had got enough missile troops into position to start hitting the crossbows and both these units crumbled, my centre slowly advanced, the Normans were in disarray now and one unit ran forward and smashed into my centre while another tried to halt the Saxon tide hitting their right. As the dust settled one unit held while the other was losing, both now had Saxons on their flanks and Mark called it a day.

I was cautious as we fought on an 8x5 foot table therefore it added another 12 inches for my guys to walk through the withering fire of the large number of Norman missile troops, however the hill on my left and my aggressive moves on the right reduced the problem. I had no intention of moving before I had cleared the crossbows and my success on the flanks managed this. Mark did have some terrible melee throws several times causing no casualties as he charged in and my guys fought very well throughout and for once Plan A worked. Big thanks to Mark for traveling all the way from Grantham for a days wargaming.

I have now finished the mid ranks of my fourth pike block, under the command of the Duke of Lorraine, these are Black Band Landsknechts in French service, I have cleaned and primed the rear ranks so the whole pike block, 72 men, should be ready soon. I now have a small lead mountain to work through having received an order from TAG, these are to be actual French troops this time, I also have crossbowmen, arquebusiers, artillery and a general in waiting.


I have not managed to see any film worth its salt recently and have just about given up. I was looking forward to the third Season of The Umbrella Academy but it hit a snag in that one of the actresses between seasons turned into an actor and therefore two whole episodes of the series had to be devoted to explain this change, nope, don't care. I have also cooled down on The Boys and the next episode might just cross the line. But wait, there is good news, Stranger Things is still quirky enough to enjoy and Harry Bosch has been resurrected as a private investigator in Bosch Legacy and even though his 'daughter' is a plank of wood, Harry is pure gold. I have caught up with Terminal List which has started well but it is an old plot, have I seen too many of these at my age.

That's it then, back to the club Tuesday for some VBCW with Rob and back to maps tomorrow, a wargame project on the Battle of Leipzig for Helion, looking forward to this one, and it's in colour.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

A damp squib

 Last night I introduced Jimi to Chain of Command, he has a mainly British airborne force built for Bolt Action so there really was no problem using them for 'the other game'. I cannot remember now where I found it but there was a scenario in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy 107 which involved an historical event where some Paras were involved in a fight with a kampfgruppe from SS-Unterfuhrerschule 'Arnheim'. The author gives the Germans a couple of old French Char B1 tanks, one of which was converted to a flammpanzer, I have a model for this hoping to use it in some Arnhem games but up until now, like many of my models, it has been parked in its box. I thought this would work better and have more flavour than the bog standard set ups in the rule book.

So, Jimi had two squads, a 6pdr anti-tank gun a 2" mortar and two lots of entrenchments, I am not sure whether he also had a sniper but as one did not turn up perhaps not. I had three squads and two tanks, one the flammpanzer, my supports were a tripod MMG, an adjutant and a medic, I had to push through the British defence and exit the table or cause the British to withdraw.



Char B pretending to be German.

 I spent some time explaining the preliminary phases before the game started along with the command dice rules. The area had a lot of woods and Jimi decided to set his line up along a road where his trenches and the hedgeline gave him two levels of cover, one squad and the AT gun near the crossroads and the second squad over on his far left. I brought a squad each on my far left and right and slowly advanced them through the woods, I decided to quickly bring on a tank and despite having my lovely flammpanzer ready to go went with the gun tank, I also simply brought it straight on so that Jimi could see how the anti-tank rules worked. Not as crazy as it sounds as his AP value was 7 and my armour was 6, so I had a decent chance of survival. The first round bounced off but the second shot knocked the tank out, no big deal, I had another one.

More Jerries.

Stoic defenders.

 The infantry of both sides now entered into a prolonged fire fight which unlike previous games seemed to be in the main futile, I fired about 100 shots into the Paras on my right and managed over time to kill only 2! I got plenty of hits but could not convert them into kills or shock, I was most dischuffed. Despite this I still pushed my men forward on my right, surely the small Para squads would begin to suffer, but no, not before the bell tolled. With the fire fight raging I also could not spare a command die to bring on the flammpanzer.

The real flammpanzer.

 So, a victory for Jimi and thankfully the scenario had turned out to be worth the effort, I would fight this again and hope for even average dice luck.

As I said I am back to painting, pikemen. I decided to see just how far I have gotten since starting out on the project back in late March, the army 'parade' contains 138 infantry, 12 cavalry and one gun so at this rate I should have enough to test the rules by the end of the year in a decent sized battle. I now have a small lead pile to work through so next up I have to get another order prepared.

 I have managed to get the map projects down to an acceptable level as well over the past week or so, of course this is usually the time I receive new ones. After this week there will be one large project involving Charles X of Sweden.


I am sitting here at the beginning of June with my fleece on as it is dull and cold in Warton with a cold wind and the promise of rain. And yet I read or hear every day that the planet is on track for Armageddon, actually I have been hearing it for over 30 years and still I cannot grow melons, pineapples or pau pau fruit in my supposedly by now scorched earth, even my tomatoes in the garden crave sunshine.

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Second game in two days

Plenty of wargaming for me lately, ACW last Friday and War and Conquest yesterday. Matt Crump of Wargames in the Dungeon had hosted a game a couple of months ago in Penrith so I reciprocated with a Dark Age bash at Casa Anderson as he had an interest in trying out the WAC rules.

Saxons on the left, Romano British on the right.


 I kept the points down as it was an introductory game and kept both armies fairly even in strength, I took my default Saxon Heptarchy and Matt commanded the Romano British, I kept the deployment simple as well and we went for a Pitched Battle. I had weighted my left flank while leaving a couple of units to watch my right, I thought I could push forward my cavalry and archers to brush away the enemy skirmishers and then turn in on the British flank. My Franks I set against the Pedyts while I would hold my other two units around the hill, on the right I would also hold back and see what happened, despite facing three units with my two I had an elite household unit there which I hoped would outclass the opposition. 

The Franks advance.

....and crash into the Pedyts


Although my skirmishers took heavy casualties, especially the slingers on my right my plan was working, the Franks crashed into the Pedyts and soon sent them running for the rear while the rest of the army went into shieldwall as the British bore down on them. Matt wasted no time and his Welsh hit my Gedriht on the right and his Comitatus slammed into my Ceorls and my bodyguard unit on the hill.


In the distance the Comitatus units in combat while the Franks reorganise.

The slaughter around the hill.

My Ceorls held for a turn before fleeing and being dispersed, my household troops beat the Welsh and the King's men held the hill. The Franks, now with my cavalry and archers in support, got ready to move on the British rear, Matt turned a unit of Milites towards them. At this critical juncture the Comitatus and Dux in combat on the hill fled and were dispersed as the Gedriht followed up in pursuit. It was all over, Matt handed over his sword.

I think Matt enjoyed the game albeit I forgot several rules not having played for a while, I gave him a loan of a rulebook and I am sure he learned some lessons from the game, as a veteran wargamer I am sure I will not get off so lightly next time. So, there you go, no real winner or loser as it was an introductory game and we all know what an uphill struggle it is playing a game from scratch the first time. It just remains to say thanks to Matt for taking the time to drive down.

With the end of several map projects last week I at last managed to get some time to paint my second unit of gendarmes, there are no significant commanders amongst these horsemen so I only added two French standards to them. Black Band pikemen are next and the figures have been cleaned and primed, this will in the end be 36 men and can either fight alone or be added to the 36 which are already complete. I also took delivery of another eight crossbows from The Assault Group. I now have to think what will be next and which standards I will have to draw, certainly another cavalry unit but not gendarmes this time, perhaps I will turn my sights towards some Imperial landsknechts and a change of manufacturer, TAG or Steel Fist.

Still busy with maps but the pressure is now off so I can relax slightly. Another introductory game on Tuesday at the club, Jimi wants to try Chain of Command, he has British Airborne so I am going to use a scenario from WSS107 from Lardy Nick which I am sure will be in the Arnhem supplement when it eventually turns up.