Thursday, 27 October 2022

Pass the Chianti

 I notice it is actually quite warm out today, very unusual for the end of October, especially as it started with the usual grey sky and rain. Be that as it may I had a game organised with Julian and he duly turned up at 1000 hrs. It was our second Italian Wars bash, he has not had the time to increase his troops but I have managed a French pike block, some cavalry and more shooters.

The battle was a simple engagement so Julian based his army on a joint Spanish/Imperialist force having two Landsknecht and two Spanish pike blocks, two guns and six cavalry units one of which were mounted crossbows, he used his skirmishers to screen the pike blocks. I had a right old mix, Swiss, Landsknechts, Italian and French pikes, Italian formed shot, two guns, three Gendarme and three Archer cavalry units So, the enemy infantry were superior in mass to mine but my cavalry were slightly better. My troops were led by Giovanni de Medici.

We used the rules deployment where you put down cards representing the units then later turn them over to reveal the unit and set out your troops, a quick and easy system. I put four cavalry on my left and then Landsknechts, Italians, Swiss and French infantry in a line with two more cavalry units behind my right flank. Julian also had four cavalry units on his right but only one facing mine, then came his infantry close together with two more cavalry units on his left. From my point of view I thought my left flank cavalry could advance and quickly crush the enemy before they could get organised while I decided to bring my right flank cavalry to the front and also immediately attack. What to do with my infantry was taken from my capable hands as the Swiss once again threw themselves forward.

My left charged but didn't have a great deal of success and Julian countered well and at one point as I looked across I could see disaster looming, so much for my left hook. I took some time to get into a good position on my right but did eventually manage to get my heavy cavalry to the front only for them to be set upon and pushed back by the Spanish cavalry. The Swiss were now well across the battlefield followed by the Landsknechts and much more slowly but enthusiastically by the Italians and French. Julian seemed to be playing a waiting game.

Spanish/Imperials on the left, French on the right

Spanish right flank

After some bitter fighting my cavalry on the left began to make headway, but so did one of the enemy units as it punched through my line, but my up till then useless gunners, played on an easy target. With my left stabilised and cavalry now moving to the rear of the Spanish line the infantry clashed. The Swiss once again proved worth their pay and destroyed the Landsknechts to their front. My own Landsknechts also proved superior to the Spanish foot opposite them and in a surprise move my French who had been pushed back now turned the tables on their tormentors and joined the rest of my infantry in sweeping forward. In the final throws of the battle the Spanish lost several more units and Julian called a halt to the slaughter.

My cavalry make heavy weather of the attack


French left

Scots cavalry having a tough fight.

In this game we came up against quite a few new 'problems' not covered in the rules, we settled these with what I hoped passed for commonsense but I intend to drop an email to the author, no one can hide anymore. We had a couple of instances where it looked like a quick flip would take a unit on to the flank of someone nearby, but of course the rules don't allow this as you are talking about huge, unwieldy pike blocks of several thousand men which simply cannot turn on a sixpence, no matter how easy it looks on a table. This game has also inspired me once again to look at the actual battles of the period but time is lacking, I will get there eventually. We both feel that gunnery, both arquebus and artillery seem to be quite ineffective, but again I think the answer may be in the detail, when these were effective, at Bicocca and Pavia the shot units consisted of thousands of men, not the small numbers we have on our table at the moment.

Swiss way ahead and my right flank cavalry surge forward

Suffolk and his Landsknechts charge in

Dodgy fighting on the right.

Swiss triumphant

I rush painted an artillery piece and some arquebusiers for the game. I now have Stradioti ready for the painting tray, these are from The Assault Group and look very nice, in vain I have looked for examples of their clothing colours, I know some prefer dull colours but my thinking is that these guys are from the Balkans and the Balkans were under Turkish dominance at this time and those guys are usually pretty colourful, so would it have rubbed off on the Albanians?

I also took a small break and built the SdKfz 250/1 Alte that I got at Partizan, a very easy build and a lovely little model, it has been primed in Panzer Grey and awaits transfers, detailing and weathering.

The other night at the club Simon and I again played Johnny Reb, Simon is still keen on learning the game and I introduced command limits this time, this played a big part in the game as we both had brigades of between five and six regiments with only three orders to use for each. A simple meeting engagement again in which I advanced to the centre and held along a fence line, Simon was more aggressive and tried to push his men forward. Like the last time he did well until his die rolling threw his morale into chaos, he also suffered from several regiments running out of ammunition. So another Confederate victory but he is getting closer with each game to that elusive win.

Lost for a decent series of late I started 'Tehran' on Apple+, it is like the eyes of a snake, you want to look away but somehow can't. The Israeli agent is so incompetent she leaves a trail of dead innocents in here wake as she tries to carry out her, yes, it is a woman and most of the people in charge are women, in Moslem Tehran that should fit right in. I digress, I stayed the course and am now on Series 2, I am hoping against hope the Iranian protagonist catches her, how crazy is that. I also started 'The Old Man' on Disney, first episode, great, second episode, not so great, why would you go to dinner with someone then bore the life out of them with your desperate life story before you even order a drink, where was the waiters, where was the remote. It has one more chance.


As for our political chaos, Rishi Sunak, the defence rests and goes home m'lud.

Thursday, 20 October 2022

The West has fallen

 Club night and I managed to get a decent parking space, what a boon it is when your car parks itself, perfect for an old codger like me.

I had organised with Ed some time ago a War and Conquest Dark Ages game so I took the opportunity to bring along my lovely Western Patrician Roman army which does not get out very much these days while Ed was happy to stay with the Romano-British. Ed has turned out to be a very decent opponent with WAC and he has two notches on his belt already leading the Seleucids against my favoured 12th Legion.

I took three Legions, a German Foederati warband, some Alan cavalry and some archers, Ed also had four battle formations, three Romano-British and one Welsh along with cavalry, skirmishers and a large unit of archers. He had missed out a unit of Pedyts which are a must, it was no big deal and I said it was a ready excuse should I lose, this would come back to haunt me, what made it worse is that I was lazy and instead of using my actual Welsh troops I substituted, yes, the damn Pedyts.

As we deployed I had the idea of advancing my Alans and archers on the left, killing off the enemy cavalry and turning in on the Romano-British line, I would wait and see what happened elsewhere before committing the Legions. Ed had put his cavalry opposite mine along with his skirmishers then at the end of his infantry he placed the large archer unit. The Romano-British cavalry were superior to my horse archers and could have ridden them down without a problem, but for some reason Ed formed them into skirmish and I smiled inside. My first volleys were good and and the cavalry ran and took the skirmishing foot with them, things were looking good, I had also advanced the Celtae Seniores to attack what in my mind were the Pedyts but had Welsh accents. 

Legions are ready

British on the left, Romans on the right


Things now turned sour, the British cavalry rallied and returned and no matter how many arrows I threw at them for the rest of the game they just brushed them off, the Celtae had smashed into the Welsh and were making heavy work of beating them, I threw Quinta Macedonica in against a unit alongside the Taff's and despite having all the advantages the Macedonians threw them all away. On the right I had pulled back my Germans as they were suffering heavy casualties from the massed archers, my elite Lanciarii Gallicani Honoriani were also under fire from javelins to their front so before I lost my combat edge I was forced to charge the Gauls and the Germans into the British line. I was taking a chance with both these assaults as the Gauls were up against a formation in shield wall, but they were elite, the German attack was a bit of a forlorn hope which I needed to tie up the British hearthguard.

Romano British milites

Quinta Macedonica advances

British left flank

Things got worse, my Alans and skirmishers were held up trying in vain to kill off the British cavalry, the Macedonians, Gauls and the Germans all began to suffer heavily and before too long were running for the rear. The Celtae did at last manage to rout the Welsh but it had taken so long they, like my left flank, could not interfere in the disaster taking place elsewhere. I handed over my sword.

Casualties rise in the Roman ranks

The invulnerable British cavalry

Macedonians throw away their advantage and possibly the game.

From my point of view the battle was simply a slaughter, although I managed in most turns to cause a decent amount of casualties Ed's saving throws brought these to naught time and time again, especially that bloody cavalry. On the other hand his men dealt out punishment which I failed to brush off. Whatever he had offered the dice gods it had worked a treat, I was undone once again with no excuse.

I was hoping to try Italian Wars at the club but despite having enough pikemen and cavalry for a small game I really do need more shooters before doing this. Thankfully they are now on their way from TAG and I expect them tomorrow. I am very close to finishing my French pike block and it should be ready next week which will allow me to get started on those gunners.

Complete, nearly complete, and about to start

Wars of the Roses rules always put Treachery or the threat of it high on their list of priorities, despite it only being proven on one occasion (Northampton) and arguably on another (Bosworth). Furioso for the Italian Wars has Impetuous, and I got to thinking why, the only battlefield example I can bring to mind is the Swiss at Bicocca, the rule can cause your whole army to merrily waltz off leaving you, as the commander, merely a bystander. I do have some tweaks to the rules which others have added or play tested which may mitigate this happening but I don't think they are enough. There is also a Furioso rule when traditional enemies (Swiss v Swiss, Swiss v Landsknechts or Landsknechts v Landsknechts) will ignore what is happening around them to engage said enemies. I find this a tad more realistic than Impetuous so I intend to look a bit closer at both these rule mechanisms, something for the long winter evenings perhaps. Julian and I have our second game next Wednesday.

 I ordered some poplar trees from The Last Valley a while back and they arrived today, I am very pleased but wondered where the trunk had gone, either Andy knows his trees or he was just lucky. Lombardy poplars are overgrown all the way to the ground, who would have thought, when you can see the trunk they are 'cultivated'.

I am having a niggling problem with my drawing tablet, which is something I need to get sorted so of course I got into a chat with someone at Wacom Support who felt it more important to wish me a happy day than get to the nub of my problem which was ensuring my day was far from happy. Yes, I have reinstalled the drivers, yes I have rebooted the PC, yes I reinstalled the programme, and why should I take a survey when I still have the problem no matter what kind of day you wish on me and were so delighted to have talked it over with me. Also just once in a decade I would like to be the first person in the call queue, why do we never catch these people when they are not busy, not once in years.

 I have a sore back from picking up my troop boxes yesterday the wrong way, so for now I am Mr. Grumpy.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Full steam ahead

 The beauty of retirement on such a wet and miserable day, a wargame in the morning and a blog post in the afternoon as the rain plays on the window.

But first the disaster of club night, Matt our leader had warned that the school was having an open night and parking might be a problem, when is it not. I had an ACW game organised with Fran and set off early in the false hope I might beat the crowd, no, it was like the dodgems in the street at the back of the school and I had to park several streets away and hoof it to the club. I then got a text from Fran saying he could not get parked and had went home, he offered to walk in with a board game but I had an idea of only staying and passing some stuff on to Rob before heading home. Simon and Jimi were having a Bolt Action game (British vs Russians) and kindly let myself and Rob join in, I was British with Jimi, we had to take a Soviet officer prisoner who was settled in a house right in the centre of the battlefield.

The terrain was fairly heavy and LOS was difficult to get, both sides brought monster tanks, the British a Churchill AVRE and the Ivan's a KV2, so the infantry kept hidden for the first part of the game as one hit from either of these tanks would kill a whole squad. As the KV moved around the British dashed for the objective while the Russian infantry also gingerly advanced. Casualties mounted on both sides, as most of the enemy were situated around the objectives house I dropped artillery into the area. I was spectacularly successful and everything in the area was hit, two British squads along with the Russians, oops.

I managed to get some PIAT shots in at the beast but I may as well have thrown eggs. As it became obvious we would not get the objective Jimi turned his giant mortar on the house and blew it and its occupants to smithereens, only two, shell shocked survivors were left in the rubble. Rob declared a draw but only because there was no objective left for either side to rescue. A good end to what was looking like a barren evening.

This morning Matt Crump turned up from sunny Penrith for a War and Conquest game, he brought a Persian army so I faced it with my Seleucids, the game was 2,500 points. I took a fairly typical army with a good mix of all troop types along with an elephant, something I don't normally choose but what is a Seleucid army without one. Matt's Persians were quite numerous but lacked good melee infantry apart from some mercenary hoplites, but nearly everything carried a bow.

Seleucids left, Persians right.



 Matt forced me to go first and I decided not to faff about and sent the whole army forward, the arrows came thick and fast and my men began to fall, my little band of casualties far outweighed the Persian one, I hesitated, but continued to advance my flanks and at last my shooting had an effect as the enemy cavalry began to die and the elephant chased off some horse archers. The pendulum swung again and the Persians made some aggressive moves, I had to try and hide my hoplites behind the hill to take them out of the arrow storm.With Matt's forward movement I once again pushed the army forward and there were several clashes, the White phalanx hardly gave me a shock with a pathetic effort but the Mercenary hoplites of the enemy made an even worse effort and they broke and ran. Things began to go south for the Persians, their chariots were shot and destroyed, a couple of cavalry units ran and the Seleucids were once more on the advance in the centre. The Greek heavy infantry slammed into the poorly protected Persians and before too long the whole army had collapsed. There were troops off table hoping to come back but they would be returning on their own.

So, a good game from my perspective but a bit one sided once my infantry got into action, Matt's desperate morale throws did not help. We had a chat and might look at doing a Chain of Command mini campaign in the future. I hope to get up to Penrith for a visit next month.

After all these years wargaming I now have a lead pile, my TAG stuff came last week, more on the way, and my Steel Fist order arrived today, so the winter months will just fly by. I am now spent up and will need to give the LMF a rest in the present financial climate for now.

I have finished more heavy cavalry for the French army and added another general figure in the shape of Giovanni de' Medici, this famous mercenary commanded a large company of arquebusiers and light cavalry and at times what would amount to a complete army, he died of a wound received from a falconet gun which turned gangrenous. After this his troops and he were referred to as 'the Black Bands.'

I also finished off the small number of buildings I had left for my Italian terrain, my idea is they will come together as a couple of farms and outbuildings with or without walls. I plan to add the usual scatter of carts, boxes, civilians etc. but that's for another day. I really need to get on and get another game of Furioso in to scratch an itch.

Monday, 10 October 2022


 At quarter past seven yesterday I was reluctant to get out of bed and cursed having decided to go to Partizan, 160 miles away, but then again, what else would I be doing on an Autumn Sunday promising dodgy weather. The drive south was uneventful which is always a surprise when heading that way and I got to Newark Showground in about two and a quarter hours, the weather there was nice as it usually is at this show.

I had taken a fiver and on entering was left with three quid, I had to break out the plastic although my shopping list was rather small and was really to top up on things which I didn't necessarily want but 'needed'. I always do the shopping first, and on my way round I got most of what I had come for apart from some Tamiya paint, their excellent 'Smoke' which is a great wash for armour. There is no point in going all that way and not getting a treat, so I stopped off at Foundry and got a pack of three mounted officers as spares for the Italian Wars, as Rubicon was there in force I went all out and got another halftrack, a 250/1 which I will paint grey for 1940/42.

On the way in I ran into Michael and Simon Curtis of 1st Corps who I first ran into back in 2014 and after at several War and Conquest weekends, after that it was bloggers who meet at shows, David Bickley (Tales from GHQ), Phil Robinson (News from the Front), Matt Crump (Wargames in the Dungeon, I am playing Matt on Wednesday) and southern boy Ray Rousell (Don't Throw a 1), links in the sidebar. As usual I stopped by the Helion and Co. stand as I work closely with editor Andrew Bamford who runs it, Andy and Charles were not there this time, however owner Duncan Rogers was paying a flying visit so we chatted for a good 20 minutes or so. One other mention was the chap who surprised me at the Rubicon stand who told me he read the blog and had recognised me from the pictures, quite made my day, thanks.

Now, the bit you have all been waiting for, the show. Partizan is quite simply the best historical wargame show in the country, the main focus is on wargaming, like me you will manage to shop but it does not have the number of traders for instance which frequent York, the emphasis is on games. Granted many of the games you could not throw together for an evening at the club and you would have to have a very large house and an understanding wife if you managed them at home. However the inspiration to aspire to the level of terrain, organisation and sheer spectacle hits you from the first table to the last.

There is a participation section which is well served then the main area with nothing but eye candy, there is a cafe which is always busy, take a lunch, all in a large well lit, open hall, albeit it busy, it was busier this time than in May I thought. They also have a writers corner where there is usually a couple of historical novel authors are sat. 

Here are examples of some of the games on show:

Thirty Years War 3D printed 6mm I think.

Imaginations game, Eastern Europe?

Tewkesbury, Wars of the Roses.

Imaginations again.

Arnhem, Lardy game.

Ray with my dad, oops, no it's me.

Battle of the Bulge.

The Bulge again.

Renaissance Eastern Europe.

War of the Worlds.



Most people at the tables made an effort to talk to interested onlookers, I had several good conversations. I did want to have a talk with the Bosworth guys for their thoughts on the new interpretation of the battle, however the guys at the time were discussing the movement of one unit and its possible effect on the future of England so I sauntered off.

There you have it, a good day out and a great showcase for our hobby. I shall have to save my pennies up for May as the petrol stung me on topping up before the Memsahib dipped the tank.