Monday, 26 September 2022


 The big day has arrived, my first game of Furioso Italian Wars rules. Mate Julian was bringing his forces which comprises large numbers of Landsknechts and cavalry, my growing French army has slightly more choices in that I have arquebus and crossbow armed troops, Julian has them but they remain unpainted for now.



I am drawing maps for the latest volume in Helion's Italian Wars series and it deals with the battle of Ceresole, and on looking at the map I thought I could base our game on it. The only thing we lacked were decent amounts of shot troops but I thinned out what I had and we would just have to compromise. I of course was the French with three pike blocks of French Old Band pike, Italian pike and Swiss professionals along with cavalry and artillery, Julian, playing the Spanish had three Landsknecht blocks (one should have been Italians) and one Spanish along with his cavalry and artillery. The set up was as near as I could get it to the battle map.

French position.

Spanish position.

Before we deployed my army suffered the affects of a recent plague and I lost a stand from a mounted crossbow unit and a group of skirmishers suffered one hit. This could have been a lot worse but Julian was being a gentleman and it was our first game after all, he could have chosen a gendarme stand.

I thought Lady Luck was showing her displeasure, as we rolled our initiative dice about a third of my army went Impetuous and raced for the nearest enemy, I rolled my eyes. This was evened out by the Italians on my left flank along with a nearby skirmish unit refusing to move, until the last turn of the game as it transpired. The Spanish did not show any inclination to rush my line. As the first of my cavalry units hit the enemy every one suffered and were pushed back, I glowered at my Scots in the centre, what was Albany playing at. My infantry continued as fast as they could towards the now advancing Landsknecht infantry, my guns barked and played on the Spaniards, but my cavalry had caused me to fret.

French leap forward.

Spanish left.

The troops had listened and all my cavalry rallied and pushed their tormentors back in the second round, things now looked a lot better as the Swiss smashed into their hated enemies the Landsknechts, my money had been well spent on these mercenaries and the Germans were broken and dispersed. A unit of Gendarmes picked on a poor skirmish unit and rode it down at the same time, things suddenly looked better.

French centre hits the Spanish line.

French right.

Quite quickly all my remaining troops also threw themselves at the enemy, apart from the Italians of course. More Landsknechts charged into the recovering Swiss but then again wished they hadn't as the burghers rallied and set about destroying a second German pike block. On my right my Old Band pike managed to stop being pushed back and then held their opponents to draw several melees despite being outclassed.

The Spanish were now on the back foot as the Swiss cut up another Landsknecht unit and my Italians now at last moved forward, although the Spanish held their own on my extreme right I now had some very angry Gendarmes flushed with riding down the arquebusiers approaching their rear. Julian offered his sword.

Swiss pikes, more bang for your buck.

Nice of the Italians to turn up.

Landsknechts vs Swiss for the game.

Now what of the rules. A bit of a faff with rolling initiative dice for each unit at the beginning but it works, you certainly do not have a great deal of control over your troops, especially if they go Impetuous as most of mine did, none of the Spanish were this keen. We covered pretty much most of the table with what we had so there also was not a lot of maneuver room and the battle was pretty much a stand up fight. The combat is interesting as you get to hit, then save then both sides carry out a Combat Morale test to see how they feel, you can actually lose more men than the enemy but beat them because you feel so much superior. This was especially the case in both combats involving the Swiss above, although they also dealt out a lot of casualties. There is also an Army Morale number which as you lose units your side deteriorates until it breaks, they can be Fragile, Weakened then Broken, in our game it was obvious who was winning so we didn't use this, but it seems like a good idea. You will notice that I mention the Plague above, you can throw on an Events table at the beginning of the battle and this was why I suffered a hefty penalty before we started, I also like this idea. We have some questions which need answering before we make our own rules on these if we have to.

So, I enjoyed it and so did Julian, thankfully no need to look at Pike and Shotte at the moment, how would they fare with bigger games, not so sure but we will get to that some time in the future. It only remains for me to thank Julian for an entertaining afternoon's wargaming and I am ready for more.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

East of Chancellorsville

 With my retirment coming up a couple of weeks ago I organised a Johnny Reb II game for today with Rob, Fran and Stewart who had intimated he would like to join in the next game. I chose a fairly large scenario with five Union brigades and seven Confederate, the deployment and arrival times were dealt from a pack of cards so anything could happen and it would be unlikely if you got the same game twice.

I got lucky and as General Brooks I got to deploy two of my three brigades, Stewart, as General Howe already had his two brigades on the table. For the Rebs General Anderson (Fran) got one brigade on the table with another arriving on turn two, the third would arrive on turn three, Rob as General Early did not get any brigades on table and had to march on, his brigades arrived one behind the other over four turns. A delay the Confederates could have done without.

Fran was to pin my division while Rob was to assault the Union left, outnumbering Howe but taking time to deploy. Fran opted to keep his brigades together and stay away from a Union battery and regiment covering his right most deployment option. This turned out to be a mistake but it did not seem like one at the beginning. I decided to move several regiments forward to take advantage of the woods and a vicious firefight began, I had high hopes for this but they went up in smoke while the Reb replies began to cause heavy losses as Fran moved his regiments slowly forward taking advantage of his numbers and bringing fresh troops to the fore each move. Although my losses were severe my morale was unshakeable and my regiments at times were left with only the standard bearers and a few stragglers who refused to break.

Howe deploys on the Union left.

Early arrives.

Early's numbers increase.

Anderson in a tight corner.

Federal right.

Being hard pressed on my front I only managed the odd look across at the left flank, Rob took some time to bring his forces to bear on Stewart but eventually musketry could be heard in the woods, Stewart was pinned while Rob sent a brigade on a wide march to turn the Federal flank. My third brigade turned up just in time as the gap between Howe and Brooks was now in danger as the Confederate commanders saw an opening. But at the same time so did I, despite being hard pressed to my front and my losses I saw the opportunity to move against Anderson's right as the Rebs were finding it hard to break out from their crush. Although I suffered again from accurate Reb fire I held my nerve with the help of a battery of Napoleons and gave as good as I got, I also managed to peel off a couple of regiments from my late arriving brigade just in case things turned bad. Stewart had also seen the danger and expanded his line towards the gap, at the same time I brought up three fresh regiments to plug the hole, not a moment too soon.

Early advances.

Vicious firefight on Brooks' front.

Somewhere on the Union left.

Things now went badly for the Confederates, General Gordon leading the flanking brigade was wounded and his men slowed to a halt as the new commander was confirmed, although the Union lost a complete battery on this flank they had a few regiments which could be used as a fire brigade to help shore up the danger point. At the same time Gordon's front line was thrown into disarray by a rout on the front line. On my front I now felt secure as the Rebs had to leave the protection of the woods in order to push my right back and my waiting guns and infantry began a slaughter as they tried. Reb morale now broke all through Anderson's division and several regiments now fled to the rear taking others with them leaving a very thin grey line now facing Brooks.

Gordon's brigade about to be held up.

A marksman takes aim on General Gordon.

It was now close to 1600 hrs and we had started at 1000 hrs. As we looked over the debris of battle it was clear that the Confederates could not gain their objective and although there was still fight in Early's troops they were not causing the same problems for Howe as Anderson had for Brooks. We agreed that Early's delay and Anderson not taking the chance on attacking my extreme left with the gun battery had had a detrimental effect on the Confederate attack. The exceptionally high morale of Brooks' men allowed me to hang on until help turned up, but it was touch and go.

So there you have it, a great days wargaming and my thanks to Rob, Fran and Stewart for their company, I can now relax after such a nail biting combat.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Lion Crouching

 Busy week for the retiree this week, as people have said how did I find the time to work (term used loosely). 

I once opined that Lion Rampant was a set of rules which had not made an appearance at the club, and this week Stuart brought the second edition and Norman and Saxon 'armies' to try them out, a new experience for both of us. I had the Saxons and we lined up opposite with no real idea of what was going to happen, I had a loose plan of using my archers to support my heavy infantry while my cavalry would wait and see what the Normans would do.

You have to initiate each unit and if you fail the whole army fails and it is over to your opponent, not conducive to an overall battle plan. My archers advanced into the wood in front of them and then refused to come out for at least around a dozen turns putting an end to Plan A and stopping most of my forces dead. The Normans were slightly better but also had their moments. My elite cavalry smashed forward and took out their opponents then spent several turns trying to avoid the Norman crossbows, which would have eliminated them with a couple of decent volleys as they were only six figures. Stewart sent his elite cavalry over to his left to counter my General and his men.

The heavy infantry clash in the centre was a non event as we both lost these troops to combat and missile fire, my archers had at last moved. My light cavalry took out the enemy skirmishers and as the sun began to set the Normans had their elite cavalry and the crossbowmen against my light cavalry, skirmishers and archers, I won on points.

This is not my kind of game, it is a game to me and not a wargame, it could have been jelly babies moving on the table rather than Stuart's lovely figures due to the lack of historical flavour (see what I did there). I found it difficult to understand why a unit only just over 50% strength fought and shot with a full hand of dice despite the losses it had incurred. It also seemed very difficult to rally a unit once it had taken a few casualties, and if it did and got another one off it went again reaching the point of no return very quickly. I know the rules are popular and there are many variants of them, I opined to my mate Matt that we can expect Lion Rampant Napoleonic's soon. You heard it here first.

The very next day I was off to Penrith and a game at Matt Crump's dungeon, no relative to the above Matt. Matt plays online with another blogging friend Jonathan Frietag and his AWI games always looked good so I asked him to set one up on this visit. It was a meeting engagement played with Rebels and Patriots rules, yes I was surprised that my prediction had come true, they are a Lion Rampant variant! Matt took me through the motions in a little pre game action and you can easily see the link between the two sets of rules, one big change was that if you fail an initiative roll only that unit fails not your whole army, a huge improvement to the game. I did wonder that the regiments were 'blobs' much like the medieval versions and this was the main way to move around the table, yes you can form up into a line but it takes time and can easily be disrupted. I just did not get this at all for the period.

Anyway on with the game, I set up with the intention of advancing my right, holding in the centre and sending my superior light infantry out on the left to give Matt something to think about. Things started well and I got rid of two American skirmish units quite quickly and got a third down to under 50%, then it happened. My attacking troops lost faith in my attack and either refused to move or could not hit a barn door, I must have used a full magazine of black powder trying to take down one skirmisher behind a headstone, and as for my elite Grenadiers, aargh!

British set up on the right, Americans on the left.

Matt's Dungeon.

The main American position.

The British deploy.

Matt advanced some Militia to keep an eye on my light troops and this gave my elite Guards an opportunity to open up on them, but once again my elites could not hit a barn door, but the light troops fought magnificently eventually beating the Militia. Matt now tried to advance his centre and although he had pushed mine back my artillery caused havoc with every shot. It was now my turn to have an annoying skirmisher, two of them had somehow got very close to the American line and loosed a devastating volley which caused the Yanks lining a nearby fence to withdraw. Slowly losses rose in the American ranks and a revitalised British force took the victory as the Rebel general left the field taking most of his remaining troops with him. The British artillery played a decisive part in this action, the Americans had two smaller caliber guns but they missed out on firing quite a few times while the Royal Artillery did not.

My hopeless right flank.

...and almost hopeless centre.

My hero skirmishers.

The most annoying figure ever.

The excellent light troops.

American general tries his best.

Now this was more of a wargame, I still have reservations on the game mechanics but I felt I could put a plan together and attempt to carry it out. I also enjoyed very much playing over an excellent table with beautifully painted troops. I would certainly play this again, but I would not rush to play Lion Rampant.

What else is going on, well I finished the first piece of terrain for my Italian Wars, a nice building from Colin at Charlie Foxtrot Models. As usual I had no patience and made a couple of mistakes which I managed to rectify or cover up, when will I learn. I textured the building then painted it with an ochre shade in a test pot, this I then darkened with GW Seraphim Sepia wash and finally dry brushed with white. The tiles were again a test pot of a terracotta colour with a GW Agrax Earthshade wash, watered down but with patches of full colour, I was going to drybrush this but I like how it has turned out, so it is done. Buildings don't do much on the battlefield but are needed I think for local colour.

I am still plugging away at the Gendarmes but they are now 90% done and will be attached to their horses at some point today. I have 18 more cavalry and 8 arquebusiers in the drawer next, I think the infantry are next up as they are very easy to paint. The rest of the terrain I might get to along the way. Andy at The Last Valley should have my poplar trees ready in the next week or so so I am hoping they will be here for the game with Julian.

Sunday is a large ACW game with Fran, Rob and Stewart here at Casa Anderson, the first game in my empty Post Office, the first of many I hope, the place will possibly be refurbished next year but I don't want to think of that yet.

I am off to Ulverston this afternoon to get the car serviced, this will be my last Mercedes, the service costs are astronomical and disingenuous for a vehicle which is supposed to be at the pinnacle of German engineering. If this is so why does it need servicing every year whether you do 5,000 miles or 35,000 miles, you could keep it in your garage and never take it out and they still want you to have an eye wateringly expensive service every year, greedy swine. I might also have to get a Timex as well as my watch is about due for a service and I shudder to think what that will be. 

Maps are coming in regularly at the moment and on the shelf waiting are Confronting Napoleon, Belgian Forces in the Congo, Chinese Railways and Polish battles in 17thC.

Polish SOE operations.

Omdurman campaign.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Fin de Siecle

 Well that is almost that, I closed the doors last week but still had some admin chores to do, and chores they turned out. The PO did not turn up on Tuesday to take away the remaining cash and stock, a guy on Wednesday went away with all the equipment and the scales, which were not his to take. Today the alarm engineer, and I use the term loosely, did not fill me with confidence, he could not get the Post Office signage down, hardly tried, so said he would cover up the name, he did, he put tape over the small barely seen wording and left the huge 12" high letters 'POST OFFICE' for all to see. And yes I had to call up as it went off hours after him leaving. How did we beat Hitler?


George remembered why he had not retired before.

Anyway, I was the Hitlerites on Tuesday at the club as Simon and I settled down for a few hours while pretending to be somewhere in the Ukraine in 1941. It was Bolt Action and a simple meeting engagement, I had three squads, a sniper, an infantry gun, an anti-tank rifle (a first), two MMG's and a Pz38(t), Simon took a T26, a light howitzer, three squads, an MMG and an artillery observer.

Busy club night.


I put my sniper, tank and infantry gun supported by a squad on my left, with another squad and MMG on my right, in the centre hidden behind a wood I put the rest of my troops as a reserve. Simon brought on his land battleship very quickly along a road and it put fire down on my infantry gun, basically silencing it for the rest of the game as it kept going down in order to survive. The light howitzer and a squad were on his left, another squad in the centre and a further squad on the right along with the MMG. These last guys got hit first and the squad took casualties, the light howitzer spotter who was with them was quickly despatched by the 38(t), I comfortably held this flank for the rest of the game. My sniper was on form and the NCO's of two squads hit the dirt, as the bullets flew and casualties mounted most of the Russian squads kept failing their orders so did not manage to have much of an effect on the game.

My cowering reserves.

Panzer Marche!

I managed to get a shot off on the T26 with my anti-tank rifle and it stunned the crew, it rumbled on however and took a shot at my tank, I now moved my panzer up to close the range and took a shot at the monster, the beast blew up spectacularly. Russian morale failed and we called it a night. I did not play well on my right, I let the light howitzer and waiting barrage scare me into hiding my troops, I have seen what HE can do to squads now, in the event the barrage was a damp squib, I should have been more aggressive, it was a lacklustre game for my guys and a bad luck game for Simon.

A few weeks ago I visited Leven's Hall which is nearby, it was a nice day and the missus wanted to see the gardens and I got lunch. As we entered we were given a quick history and told not to take photographs, Napoleons saddle captured at Waterloo was pointed out and I promptly took a photograph, I was admonished but after explaining I was a 'military historian' (wargamer to you) the lady let me off. Later on in the house was a clasp ripped from the great man's cloak found on the ground during the pursuit and looting that took place, it was two brass bee's, about the size of the palm of your hand, quite lovely, but the old guide in the corner was watching so the camera had to stay off. So you never know what is around the next corner.

I have not completed my Steel Fist gendarmes as I had a priority map project to do and being retired I can now take it easy, I have almost finished the horses so they should be based etc. some time next week. I also received my Charlie Foxtrot buildings and I have built and textured one of them, it now awaits painting. I have one more along with two bags of walls. Julian and I are going to have a small battle in a couple of weeks to try out the rules, I really do not have enough cavalry yet so I am ordering more in a few minutes so that I can get at least one more unit before the big day. After that French pikes for October then on to the Imperialists.

Despite all the doom and gloom and toys raining from the prams of Tolkien fanatics I sat and watched 'The Rings of Power' waiting to have all my prejudices confirmed, but after the hour was up I felt lost, I had actually quite enjoyed it. Okay the women are too numerous, there is diversity present in all races, the Harfoots and Dwarves mangle Irish and Scottish accents but I let it slide, I even ignored the pretentious Lenny Henry and am looking forward to the next episode. I still however have not worked up the courage to watch 'House of the Dragon'.

I can also recommend 'We Own this City' a gritty police drama from the writers of 'The Wire'.


Oh, a large ACW game is being organised here for the 18th, really looking forward to that, I also have a game with Matt Crump of Wargaming in the Dungeon during next week in Penrith and a try at the new Lion Rampant 2 on Tuesday at the club.

Somewhere east of Chancellorsville.