Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Forlorn Hope is a Forlorn Hope

 A fairly good week, I received all the cavalry figures which I had sent for while ordering some buildings and a small mat. I have wanted to completely cover my 9x5 foot table with a gaming mat for some time, I don't want cloth so was stuck with two 6x4's to give me 8x5, you still with me? So I bit the bullet and got a 3x3 which I will cut to cover the last foot, yes, overkill, but it has been an itch I needed to scratch, it was either that or buy another table tennis table and I have now gone off that idea, at least until I see how much space I need for my pike blocks.

I have managed to finish the mounted crossbows in a couple of days and have now primed the 'light' cavalry in order to start tonight, maybe. The whole idea of the medieval 'Lance' has always confused me as I thought it a rather unwieldy way to organise troops, also its configuration depended on which country you were in, the use of mounted archer to describe someone who was not an archer didn't help either. What you have is a mounted gendarme full of himself and armed to the teeth with a slightly less armoured guy to back him up, and then a lighter follower behind him, bringing up the rear would be a couple of servants, one of whose job was to follow the fighters and help them out should they need it with maybe a new mount, a lance or maybe a cool refreshing drink. That's the gist of it at least. 

I mention this as my two light cavalry units are quite different, the Foundry (Casting Room Miniatures) are proper light cavalry, with a light lance and minimum armour, the second from Steel Fist are more of the back up kind, well armoured, fashionably dressed and carrying heavy lances. As wargame figures I find the former a bit bland but useful, the latter are very nice but pain me with having to stick on the sword and scabbard along with the head, the horses are quite large and at first I thought a bit too elongated, but they look fine once primed. I  have a unit of gendarmes but will give my thoughts on these later once I get around to painting them. I wouldn't mix the two in the same unit.

Steel Fist on the left, Foundry on the right.

Steel Fist left, Foundry right.

I will be ready to take to the field once these are finished and Julian is ready.

As you will have read I was not overly enthused with my ECW game using Pike and Shotte, so last night Stewart once again brought his lovely armies to the club in order to try Forlorn Hope, an old set of rules which we both just happened to have lying about. We kept things simple with three foot regiments and three cavalry squadrons a side, with each having one veteran unit and the rest trained.

I gave all my units an advance to fire combat order apart from the cavalry on the extreme flanks which I asked to advance to close combat being convinced that my cause was just and that it was politicians leading the other side. The infantry and guns of both sides advanced into flintlock range and started pounding away at each other, although pounding is rather grand a word for what was going on. I pushed my cavalry on and they thundered into their opponents on the wings, for a moment things were looking good, I had won one melee and my veteran gallopers although sadly drawing their combat were confident of turning things around in the second phase. But of course it was not to be, my winning troops were in turn pushed back and my veterans were charged in the flank by more lobster pots, they held but at that point with the infantry failing to make any headway we called it a day.

Royalist cavalry.

The infantry meet up.

Lord Newcastle I believe, but could be wrong.

 Forlorn Hope was described as 'old school' and as an old wargamer the mass of tests did not phase me, but the mish mash way the rules were written did. I suspect back in the day many of the questions which came up between Stewart and I would have been answered but I doubt we could tap into this well now in the 21st Century. The combat results table was something which was incredibly daft and far more complicated than anything I have ever seen before. So we will not be seeing these rules again, Stewart professed he was happy with Pike and Shotte for a club game where time is limited and he agreed to sort out the evade rule which had been the cause of my breakdown. I will bite my tongue as his armies, once again, are a joy to play with. The game was further enhanced with a walk down memory lane in between the musket balls and the joys of the early days when wargaming was in its infancy.
Royalist infantry.

My gallopers having a rough time.

A very nice gun with excellent wood effect.

I have been a bit remiss in my reading of late but eventually got through Alan Clark's Blitzkrieg: Myth and Reality, it was fine, but no myth busting as far as I could see, Alistair Horne's To Lose a Battle was far better and gave more of an insight into the thinking of both sides. I popped into an old fashioned book shop on Morecambe front which is bursting with titles, I should go more often, anyway I picked up Saul David's Operation Thunderbolt about the raid on Entebbe, and The First Anglo-Sikh War, I am halfway through the former and it is enthralling. I saw a YouTube piece about the Comanche and it intrigued me so I picked up Empire of the Summer Moon, it would seem that the old adage about keeping the last bullet for yourself is more of a health warning than you would think. It has also been a while since I picked up a graphic novel (comic to me), as it is difficult these days not to run into a new, ethinic, safe, diverse and eco friendly superhero, who I hope are bombing as much as their cinema counterparts, but I digress. I have a new Batman to read and am keeping it as a guilty pleasure for a dark night on my own (see what I did there, dark knight...)

Mapping has been busy, Tibet, Namibia, the Balkans in WWI and now the fourth volume of the Italian Wars, Simon Millar of To The Strongest fame is involved in that one, up next is the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Jimi "The Dice"

 Another beautiful night for a drive out and sitting in a stuffy classroom playing with toy soldiers. I decided to take my Seven Years War collection for a spin and spent an hour in between customers and mapping to find a scenario. Steve the Wargamer has a number of the old Tabletop Teasers on his blog and I found something which I could amend for the game.

I really needed a five foot wide table but we cannot do that at the club so I made do, at one end of the battlefield was a village, at the other a bridge, the vanguards of two larger forces had been sent to occupy both of these objectives, each had a cavalry brigade and an infantry brigade supported by a light gun, one objective was within easy reach of both forces so the commanders had to decided whether to take this first or strike out for the riskier one and pick up the easy one later. I also gave each the opportunity to call for reinforcements, which if they did would minus one victory point at the end.

I led the British cavalry and went on a wide flanking move to come in on the French right, the British infantry (Ian) would follow and move on the enemy/village. I got off to a good start until I got near the hill and then my Dithering general decided getting into harms way was not for him. The French cavalry (Rob) was being very aggressive and moved towards me tout suite, partly to give the French infantry (Jimi) all foreigners, Scots, Irish and Germans, room to deploy. I did manage to push my cavalry forward again only to be met by charging French troopers who succesfully routed a troop of horse, more charges followed always with the British cavalry on the back foot. Although I stopped the French my own cavalry had suffered greatly and only one troop emerged from the fray, Rob had been pushed back to reorganise, not the best of outcomes as by now the British infantry were up and ready to shoot. 

British cavalry.

French cavalry.

British infantry arrive.

 Rob's gallant cavalry were in a bind as the French infantry were still in place behind him and there was no room to manouvre, Jimi also had a Dithering general and could not roll above a 2 to motivate him, it got to the point where we let him do a second roll just to get moving, he failed that as well, then I gave him some of my dice, nope this didn't work either, nine times he failed. Now the British infantry closed on the French position, Rob had no choice but to launch charges at them, these failed and like me he ended up with one badly damaged troop of horse to the rear of his position, to all intents and purposes able to support but useless for anything else.

French cavalry move forward.

French infantry rooted to the ground.

 At the very last moment the French infantry began to move, but again the lack of space prevented them forming a decent line and the British musketry supported by their light gun began to slowly tip the scales in the British favour. As night closed the French line was crumbling, the village contested, the bridge safe behind British lines so a British victory was recorded.

British cavalry attempt to advance.

My cavalry pushed back and reforming.

Another cavalry clash.

British infantry's relentless advance.

The last stand of Jimi's men.

A great little game and perfect for a club night, incompetent as my general was poor Jimi's was even worse, his troops being unable to even march to the village within stone throwing distance, no one got that objective as it would have required a few more moves for the British to invest it, but the ending was never in doubt. The British infantry fought extremely well helped by the fact the French could not deploy into a proper firing line. The rules were the excellent Honours of War.

I now have quite a list of things coming for the Italian Wars project, Andy at The Last Valley is doing me poplar trees, Steel Fist and Casting Room Miniatures are (or should) be on the way and yesterday I ordered up the first of my buildings from mate Colin at Charlie Foxtrot, I got two grand houses and enough walls to give a decent courtyard, more will come but these will get me started. Meanwhile I have added the middle command ranks to my Italian pike block, I am on a mission to finish this unit by the end of the weekend so that I have the decks clear for the new stuff. Julian is looking to try out the rules so we are hoping to have our first small clash next month.

 Next week I should be playing with Stewart Simon's lovely ECW figures as we are going to try Forlorn Hope after my disastrous clash with Pike and Shotte.

Unless you have missed all the hints I am retiring and closing the Post Office on 31st August, the Save Our Post Office campaign has not yet materialised thank god, although my wishes in that department are well known.

 The guy across the road in Washington House has a Vote Green poster up, it reminds me of the guy who had had enough of the modern world, drove into his garage, taped up the car windows, the garage door, turned on the engine and sat back. A neighbour called the police a day later and after breaking in and giving the driver a sip of water found out he was fine. He drove a Tesla. Oh I do hope the Green candidate comes in here, any of them for that matter, pleeeeease.

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Good Moaning

 Club night been and gone, now sweltering and hiding from the sun, must look out those melon, pineapple and pau pau seeds I bought forty years ago when warned about the climate getting warmer.

Chain of Command, 13th May, 1940, ten past one, close to the river Meuse, a French force tries to delay the tsumani of field grey heading west, for a few hours at least. I had a normal infantry platoon supported by a Renault R35, 25mm anti-tank gun, an adjutant and some Francs Tireurs to throw a spanner into the German plan. Stuart brought infantry with a SdKfz 222 armoured car, an extra squad and an infantry gun.

The house of contention.

 I deployed quickly enough and took possession of a house on my left and the cornfield on my right, planning to build up a base of fire to which I added my little tank and grenade launcher squad. I had wanted my last squad also on the left but a Shabby Nazi Trick befuddled them and they refused to come on. Stuart also took over a house near the front line on my right and the rest of his men deployed in a wood some distance from their objective. I played my Francs Tireurs who proved utterly useless and whom the Boche simply ignored, I also threw a vast amount of firepower at the squad in the nearby house and again this proved utterly useless, my little tank joining in the farce.

 As we both very slowly collected shock and the odd casualty I tried to withdraw my lead squad in the cornfield but they broke anyway and my morale fell to 8 from 10. Stuart meanwhile with the clock counting down threw caution to the wind and tried to send a squad towards the centre of the small hamlet. The French gleefully cut these men down with no mercy, German morale started to plummet.

The Germans in the wood also began to suffer and another team bolted for the rear, in the dying moments Stuart brought on his armoured car but it hid from the anti-tank gun and sadly achieved nothing. As the Boche morale hit 5 it was obvious the objective was never going to fall into their hands so we called a halt.

 Although I did eventually get my third squad on the table I made a mistake putting it on the left when it would have been far more effective on the right, I made the same mistake with my Senior Leader compounded by the fact I could have sent his mate across to the right instead of simply relying on getting the right command dice. I also committed the cardinal sin of getting fixated on the Germans in the house close to my right. Once again CoC showed the way to play is in the context of a small campaign, one off games are fine for learning the ropes but can at times give a less than exciting game.

Its been nine days now since I ordered up some cavalry and bits and pieces from Casting Room Miniatures and no sign yet of anything on the way, which is unusual in my dealings with Foundry. Anyway not having a reserve of patience last night I ordered up some Steel Fist cavalry, only to notice after paying that they are on holiday and not back until the 14th, aaargh!

No big deal, I have an Italian pike block to finish before looking at cavalry and I still have my granddaughter here until Sunday so allied with the mini heatwave I cannot see me painting much until Monday. I have managed the front ranks of the Italians and have the middle ranks and command on the tray, these are TAG models and nice in their own way, very easy to paint but these seem to be overburdened with armour to me for bog standard infantry. Steel Fist are working on Swiss, they would probably do for the start of the wars but not for the later period, they do look good however and I am sure some placed here and there would not look amiss for the mid period. Although I have Swiss in French service I do intend to do an actual Swiss unit at some point.

 I have nothing to say about entertainment for now, I have had to sit through Spy Kids 2 and 3 with my granddaughter, and yes, the movie was not made for me, but will these kids look back in their dotage and laugh and go all misty eyed when remembering such rubbish. I have just had an attack of this with "The Buccaneers" starring Robert Shaw as reformed pirate Dan Tempest, I loved this and apart from Bill and Ben and Four Feather Falls etc. it was one of my first TV memories. I have just bought the whole series on DVD (well I think so, it may be a 3" floppy) for £4.90 in a moment of weakness and nostalgia. More anon.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Onwards, ever onwards

 I am unsure which mystical land I live in as no heatwaves and no drought, despite the dire warnings of the weather wizards, no sun either as my foray into growing my own food looks increasingly desperate as my tomatoes remain green.

I went out of my comfort zone last week at the club, I sat in on Simon's Battlemech game, at least it was not a Black Powder variant. Stuart and I were to ambush a convoy of supplies on their way to the front, the game revolves around giant mechanical walkers tearing lumps out of each other, think naval warfare but on land. The game can also use ground and air forces but Simon was keeping it simple for Stuart and I. As the game kicked off I thought we were going to be beaten in fairly quick time as we seemed to be weaker than the enemy. I used cover and picked on the nearest mech and concentrated fire on it, Stuart was in the open trading shots with the rest of the escort.

 The game turned half way through and although we were taking casualties I had taken out three of the enemy machines, alright Stuart had weakened them but a kill is a kill. With our two surviving mechs down to their last defensive points it was a nail biting finish, however luck was not with us and the enemy bruised and very battered managed to get their convoy through with Simon and his son the victors. A decent little game for a club night with some nicely painted models.

I have now finished my fourth pike block, Black Band Landsknechts in French service, as you can see I build these blocks two by two so that they can work as one very large pike block if required. Massed pikes do look good. Next up was some crossbows and arquebusiers, the plan for the former was to use them as a shield for the Landsknechts while the handgunners were to be used as an independent shot unit, although this reminds me they need another base.


I took a small detour and decided to paint up a general, I settled on Guillaume Gouffier, seigneur de Bonnivet, Admiral of France, a wit and a womaniser but a failure as a general and diplomat, he died at Pavia in 1525 where he was blamed for the French defeat. His device was an anchor and a dolphin, although there is a plate showing this in the Helion book on the battle I managed to find the device on his tomb and used this for my interpretation of his banner. The figure is from TAG (Duke of Ferrara) and I think the knight rubbing his chin is from Steel Fist.

 I have been waiting for a new order from Casting Room Miniatures (Foundry) which includes some much needed light cavalry, I am hoping to add these to my forces in order to give the rules (Furioso) a try out in September. Sadly they have not yet arrived so I have started on my fifth pike unit, Italians, TAG figures, generally these are nice, there is one figure with a mix of plate and chainmail which doesn't seem to fit in, but what do I know. I shall still be ordering their French and Spanish at some point.

The flags for my Pavia Italians.

 I hope to have a Chain of Command game on Tuesday set in 1940 with the French defending against the German blitzkrieg.