Friday, February 27, 2015

Wagons from Airfix Waterloo Assault Set

This post from Life In The Past Lane inspired me to dig out the two useful wagons that came with the Airfix Waterloo Assault Set.

Not sure I've ever used them on the table top, but I plan to one day.

They were assembled and painted a long time ago.

There was other stuff that came with the wagons.  I've got the wood pile somewhere and the log barricade.  Some sacks and barrels are around and in use as well.  There was a funny wheelbarrow thing as well, mines half painted or rather half the paint might have peeled off.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Along the Danube - First Play of Blucher

Last night, with just one read of a redacted set of the rules I attempted to umpire my first game of Blucher. Mark B took my French against Stephen N's Austrians in the introductory scenario for the new Blucher rules - Along the Danube.

I had made up some movement trays and labels to use with our miniatures that are based for Napoleon's Battles (mine) and Empire (Stephen).  The plan is to invest in some metal 3x2 inch bases which my troops at least will adhere to due to the wonders of magnetism and can also double as movement trays for Napoleon's Battles.

But this post is about Blucher.

Apart from the determination to play with miniatures I also researched names for each brigade and created my own labels/roster.  The resultant document can be found here and one of its two pages can be seen in the following picture.

The Austrians have deployed in a very linear fashion and are not yet revealed.  The French have deployed very compact.  There are more Austrians to the right and left of their line.  There are also more French to their rear.  The shining round things are coins denoting objectives.

The French advanced in the centre and came under fire from the Austrians who held their position.  One mistake we initially made was in not applying the penalty for infantry skirmish/long range fire.

The Austrians attacked with their Reserve Corps on the French right.  I used cotton wool balls to mark fire combats and close combats - for visual appeal and as an aide memoir.

On the third turn the French start to return fire in the centre and on their right.  They had repulsed one of the Austrian Grenadier brigades, but the other one was proving more resilient.  I have to double check, but don't recall any restriction on firing into a melee.

The centre fire fight continues, while the Austrians try again on the French right.  The Austrian's own right flank is advancing through the wood.  

The French start to break into the Austrian centre and have repulsed the Austrian attack on their right.

We played ten turns all up before calling it a night (approximately four hours casual play including set up and packing away).  We were close to a result.  The Austrians had four broken units while the French had two (and had retired two more).  However the French Reserve Corps was getting ready to exploit the break in the Austrian centre.

The movement system using momentum (MO) rolls worked well and was fun.  Most of the time each side got to move three corps, although the French lucked out badly on one occasion (although they were in a position to fire so it turned out to their advantage anyway). 

We didn't use reserve movement - something we are yet to learn.  I think it would have aided the Austrian right wing advance, provided they skirted the wood.

Also we might not have done the correct thing when units were engaged (I need to read that part again).

We did have a few units fatigued, but I couldn't find out what the penalty for that was (only reference I have found so far is on page 12, but it might be something in the advanced game that I am yet to study).

I need to do some more thinking on the aesthetics.  I find the labels detract from the visual appeal, but there are a lot of options and ideas to consider for alternatives (and two good ones are mentioned in the rules - put them underneath or use a roster).

I like the big bases and in fact, the basic mechanics of the game.  It is the kind of thing I would like to think I would have come up with if I had Mr Mustafa's talent for writing wargame rules.  Definitely simpler than what I am used to, but still with lots of command challenges and tension to make for an engaging game.

The rules are well written and laid out.  I was working from a PDF copy that hadn't printed well in black and white (most of the coloured headings and diagrams were just black rectangles), so it is a tribute to the rules that they survived that challenge.  (Aside: my hard copy rules and 100 Days Campaign arrived today - thanks Nic Robson of Eureka for such prompt service and Australia Post too).

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hannibal in Italy versus Fatimid Egyptians

Today I had an 800 point Field of Glory game with Mark W.  He decided to run his Fatimid Egyptians and, without really thinking, I decided to run his Carthaginians.  All figures, terrain etc are Mark W's.

Agricultural landscape somewhere in Italy...

Hannibal with his veteran spearmen.

I realised I was going to have a challenge with my medium foot and lack of cover, not to mention my light spear armed cavalry versus the Fatimid lancers, but I chose to advance.  Maybe my light troops could break up the enemy formation a bit.

I had a lot of light troops and both wings advanced fast with little opposition.

My left wing has pinned the enemy and I've decided to advance my medium foot as well as my centre, which is comprised of two units of offensive spearmen and one unit of supporting cavalry.  My main cavalry force was facing off three units of enemy lancers on my right.  The light infantry on my extreme flanks had started to sweep round the enemy flanks.  It felt good, but I knew it was a somewhat forlorn hope.

The cavalry has come to grips.  I held my own but annoyingly both units lost a base when I threw a 1 for each casualty test.

The action in the centre.  Supporting cavalry get shot up while the spearmen have almost closed.  Spanish medium foot are coming up, but the Gallic companions have been pinned by a unit of enemy lancers (it was a +2 advantage to them if I charged, but only a +1 advantage if I stood).

My right wing cavalry has been annihilated and their general killed.  Centre is now fully engaged.  The adjacent medium foot is coming up.  The Punic foot is putting up an excellent fight after the Fatimid elite infantry caught and broke some javelinmen.

The victorious Fatimid cavalry.

A partial victory in the centre and the rest of the troops seem to be doing okay.  Can I grab victory before the Fatimid cavalry spoil the fun?

The Gauls, a massive ten base unit collapses in one go.  The Fatimid elite infantry steady against the Punic foot and the other unit of Carthaginian spearmen is destroyed.  Things are not looking so good now.

Still the Punic foot fight on, but it is looking bad.  The Fatimid camp is about to fall.  My centre has effectively pushed through to the enemy's side.

The Punic foot fight bravely on.

End of game.  The Fatimid camp has been sacked, but the Carthaginian force has been defeated.

Hannibal turns round and sees just how far he has come.  Maybe it's time to go home.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Preparing for Blucher

When I saw the post on the Mad Padre's blog about Blucher availability, I found it wasn't on sale in Australia and so ordered it from  J&M Miniatures.  Excellent service and saved me a heap (the Canadian maple leaf being close to the gum leaf in value), but postage via moose was the killer and even a second mortgage couldn't cover it so sadly I took James' suggestion and cancelled.

But I had to have the rules!

I got the PDF download from Sam Mustafa's site.  Hmmm, 170 plus pages in colour.  Cost me $14 or more just for a black and white copy to be printed.  But at least I had them.  I also now found they are available from Eureka here in Australia.

First impressions very positive, but playing with cards ain't going to work for me.

For my 15mm figures based for Napoleon's Battles, there is a very good fit to a 3 by 2 inch base.

My first idea was to make some movement trays from old CD cases (the soft plastic kind).

They worked okay, but it was a slow process, so I tried making some out of card.  Just cheap card left over from cereal boxes etc.  I recall making myself stuff when I was a kid this way, but then it was sellotape, now I have PVA glue.

I got a bit carried away painting the bases (they needed it to cover up the packaging artwork).

Then I thought, why not use coloured card.  It was cheap enough and this green, while bright in the photo, I believe will be a good match for the table top.  For artillery I will use two guns, I only just had one handy for this picture.

The other thing I've done in preparation for my first game using the Along the Danube scenario, was to give the formations names which I picked up from the Wagram OOB.  I've remade labels to this effect.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The prize has arrived

Last year I participated in a play by email game of diplomacy run by Michael from the Mad Padre's blogspot.  Not only did Michael host the game, but he also provided prizes.  Today, after a long journey via Moose, Bertie, to his friends, arrived and promptly went on a tour of inspection of his new premises.

"Some dust here, eh what?"

"Ah, here's the help."

"Gee, big lasses these colonial girls, I better mind how I go."

"This is better, I can almost see my reflection."

"I wonder what it is?"

"Whatever it is, it's big, by Jove."

"Ah, the family silver, a bit more my size."

"Ink wells, now I'm starting to feel at home."

"I think I'll get on just fine."
Thanks Michael, he's a fabulous prize and full of character.

Blitz Street - movie

I watched Blitz Street on DVD recently, it was interesting, but fairly repetitive.  The interviews were good and the historical footage excellent.

The bombs just kept getting bigger and I had no real appreciation of just how powerful the V1 and V2 were in terms of explosive power.  Information on the manufacture and total tonnage dropped would have been interesting, particularly in comparison to other conflicts.  Might have been a bit dry, but also, perhaps, a bit too relevant to the potential futility of recent bombing actions.

In the DVD there is a speech from Hitler saying "...if the British Air Force drops two, three or four thousand kilos of bombs, then we will now drop 150,000, 180,000, 230,000, 300,000 or 400,000, yes, one million kilograms in a single night."  I don't know what the final totals were, but I know he lost.

The anniversary of the bombing of Dresden occurred around the time I was watching this program. I must admit my level of care factor was pretty low after watching Blitz Street (and this from someone who rates Slaughterhouse 5 as one of his favourite books).

Such waste.

Makes me wonder why I like wargaming so much.  Perhaps its the quest for understanding.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Close Encounter

Last night we had another game in our Wings of Glory league.  A Bristol Fighter on a photographic mission escorted by a Sopwith Camel fought off the fabled white Fokker to complete their task.

The Fokker has intercepted the Bristol Fighter.
Simon C has the Fokker and is closing in on the Bristol Fighter piloted by Stephen N.  I am hurrying to to the photo recon's rescue.

The Sopwith Camel is closing fast.
The Fokker and Bristol Fighter have exchanged fire and also dropped down an altitude level.

The Camel engages the Fokker.
Diving down I get a shot in.  At this stage the Bristol Fighter has inflicted significant damage on the Fokker which is now slowed due to engine damage.

And the Fokker is chased off.
And then I'm tailing, but my aim is not good and my guns jam and worse, I miss judge the direction the Fokker is going and end up breaking off.

The Fokker ended up escaping with 13 damage (out of a maximum of 16).  A close encounter.

Continuing with my unofficial leader board:


Friday, February 13, 2015

Napoleon's Battles Practice Session

Last Wednesday at the club I attempted a couple of things with Napoleon's Battles as part of the preparation for doing Waterloo with these rules.

The first was using troops with different basing.  The Austrians are Stephen N's and based for Empire.  They are just resting on thin card templates, however I am in the process of perfecting some better looking movement trays and a prototype can be seen in the lower right hand corner.

The French are all mine, however I took command of the Austrians after the challenge of trying to distribute labels and organise commands.   The OOB was from Marengo.  

Apart from trying out the Austrians and their basing the aim was to get some practice with the rules before the big event.  Here we see part of Stephen trying to master the unit roster aided by a tape measure and some amber fluid.  Stephen was Napoleon and Mark B was Desaix (on the French left).
On the Austrian side I had Greg assisting me in the role of Ott (on the Austrian left).  

Desaix advanced well and was soon in combat.  The French cavalry had advanced against the Austrian centre and found itself decimated by their artillery.  Actually it was a lot worse than decimated, losing a quarter of its strength.  It took Murat the rest of the game to get them back.

On the Austrian left things were a little slower, but as the night came to a close the French had started to slowly turn around a difficult situation.

Running a game tends to diminish the photo opportunities.  The game played well with the French just getting the better of the Austrian grenadiers before we decided to call it quits.

As Marengo is scheduled for the next game day I need to perfect movement trays and labels for the Austrians.  The skills and observations from this will aid in how to better facilitate the Waterloo game (I hope).

One challenge with players new to the rules is reminding them that the units that look like battalions are actually representing brigades.  Now, if I was doing 6mm...