Monday, 7 January 2019

The Battle of Antietam, a Volley and Bayonet bloodfest.

 For our first game of 2019, John had furiously been painting additional units and rebasing his 10mm ACW armies to re fight the Battle of Antietam using the Volley and Bayonet rules and their scenario for the encounter. For the battle it was fair to say both commanders were under the weather and snuffling like old men due to heavy colds. Did it affect our conduct of the battle? I dont think so.
In the forty plus years of wargaming there are only certain battles that one comes away from and thinks what a brilliant affair, if only I'd done so and so. Antietam was just such a battle.
 My only real regret is that I didnt take any photographs of the game because it deserved recording for wargaming posterity. It was like a Rocky film as opponents traded blows but refused to go down.      I opted to be the union and was intent on being a lot more aggressive than the real pocket Napoleon who really missed an opportunity to crush the rebellion.
In the real battle the union army consisted of 87,000 men vastly outnumbered the confederates 45,000. In order to create a balanced scenario the rebels were of better quality, and possessed a 'desperation' factor which allowed them to continue when exhausted. Additionally the Union corps arrived piecemeal onto the battlefield and were in the main of lower exhaustion levels. One mistake we made which to be honest didnt spoil the fun was to allow me to pick which Union corps was to be activated first as opposed to the initial attack by the First Corps as per history.
Initially things appeared to be going my way as I threw Sumner's 2nd Corps across the river, driving back the small rebel holding force and virtually destroying them in quick time.
 Im afraid after that things began to unravel as each time I was allowed to introduce an additional corps John was able to riposte with devastating firepower and damned rebel grit.
I was determined to use Burnside's very large 9th Corps and by move six had pushed them across the river and into the waiting rebels who chewed up the command spectacularly.The corps literally disappeared in record time due to the low strengths of the brigades. It was quite a shock to take them off the battlefield.
 After a full five hours of play, I had pushed the rebels back to the Bloody Lane where John had scraped together the remnants of the rebel army and was intent on making a final stand.
 But I had nothing left to inflict the coup de grace and so activated the reserve corps which in the scenario signaled that the rebels had 'won' simply because they had damaged the Union so much that they couldn't inflict the crushing defeat that was demanded in the scenario. Yes the Confederates were sorely damaged as in reality but then the Union army was also in dire condition and unfit to carry on. It was a wonderful but exhausting game. It could have been the cold, but I felt like Id actually fought in the battle.
  We had recovered by the Sunday and John and I took the short journey to Gateshead to Ardhammer, which was an interesting way to begin the new wargaming season. Ardhammer as I have mentioned before is a meeting of gamers who come to sell their spare armies, games, and sundry other wargaming ephemera. Yes it may focus on Games Workshop and the like but I noticed there was a lot more historical stuff on offer. We were both still under the weather but somehow managed to spend some cash on items that appeared of use in the future. I know nothing about Games Workshop armies but I do like their paint and was able to pick up a couple of odd items for my grandson who enjoys playing with the few 40K figures I had painted for him. I do have a problem though and that is how do I top our first game of the new year. It is going to be very difficult.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

The IWG Annual of Fun 2018.

 Well its that time of the year again. The Independent Wargames Group Annual of Fun 2018. For the young and uninformed from around the World the image above is the cartoon character Andy Capp who embodied the years when I was growing up in the North East of the 1960's and 1970's. Andy was a hard drinking, work shy, rascal who often fought with his wife Flo or any other person for that matter. He had a good heart and loved his life and football.


As a child I used to love to read his exploits and his view on life in and around Hartlepool, a place that sadly still suffers from deprivation and lack of investment.But Andy was always impulsive and hopeful of winning big on the horses. God forbid that he should need to get a job.


What has this to do with wargaming?
Very little really, but like all good annuals they should contain humorous and the like.
Anyway onto some more nostalgia, [do you see what I did there]   It has been a very busy Christmas Period and wargaming has taken a back seat but now I'm back so managed to complete another Hinchliffe unit for my English Civil War project, the aim? To re create the armies that my long standing opponent John Reidy sold way back in the 1980's which I was always impressed by and wanted to own but never had the cash to buy.
I can never replicate the way John painted that wonderful couple of armies, by God I would love to have them even now. Unusually for me I have drawn up a list of what I still need to buy and paint to complete the two armies, it is quite a long list. I say unusual because I try not to buy large amounts of metal now, because I find piles of unpainted figures very de-motivating. The list however is necessary as I know Ian Hinds intends to hold a Spring sale of Hinchliffe figures which it would make sense to use to buy what I need.
Anyway back to 2018. Show wise I didn't attend as many as usual, this was simply because of other commitments ie. holidays and family commitments. Of the shows I did attend the best for me was the first Partizan which had a great number of quality games to look at and gain inspiration. The worst...York and that was simply because of the success of the event which made attending quite an unpleasant experience. Hopefully next year's will be a more pleasant event with new games that will again inspire me.
One is overwhelmed by the number of brave individuals prepared to put their money where their mouths are and produce small ranges of figures, this year has been no different with some unusual subjects released. This is in 28mm by the way. I think there are several wargamers who deserve recognition for their courage. They will never make a fortune but still release figures. This years favourites for me are Graham Cummings of Crann Tara fame for releasing his wonderful SYW French mounted musketeers and Saxon figures sculpted by the son? of Charles Stadden. Brilliant. The second person who deserves a thank you is Barry Hilton for beginning to release a lovely Turkish range.Great sculpts.
On to rules. What a year yet again as wargames rules were released covering every period, scale and genre from skirmish to army sized games, it was never ending. John and I played several sets of these rules and frankly I enjoyed them all for different reasons. My overall favourite was Simon Miller's,  For King and Parliament which captured the period beautifully.
 John and I however have also looked back into our wargaming past and re discovered the excellence of the original Volley and Bayonet rules that give a subtle but quick playing game.Frank Chadwick is a very good writer of subtle rules.

Of course 2018 saw the release of Black Powder 2 which I naturally bought. One either loves or simply hates these rules. I actually have grown to appreciate their simplicity and lightness of touch, yes the new book has issues ie. poor proof reading, but as a set of fun rules they work and work very well. 
So what for the future? Well 2019 sees me travel over the border into the land of the Scots for The Great Game 2019, the re enactment of The Battle of Waterloo in 28mm. It should be quite a weekend and all for a very good cause. Apart from that I hope to fight more games and complete my ECW project which will then allow me to return to the renaissance and the small metal mountain calling me.I intend to get to more wargames shows next year, and visit ones I have never attended jut to see what they are about. So to all wargamers who visit this modest site, a Happy New Year and a very prosperous one.






Sunday, 16 December 2018

Christmas is nearly upon us.

With Christmas nearly upon us, my painting will be severely curtailed. I have however been able to complete some dismounted Union chaps for my cavalry.
Sadly the images dont show how bright the blue is on their jackets. I think I must have painted them whilst enjoying a sherry or two. Perry sculpts bought at Stockton a couple of weeks ago.
Hopefully I will be able to sneak into my room between games and food to slap some undercoat on some figures.



Germany 1813.

 Following the sucess of John's Volley and Bayonet game, I thought we should test the rules again, but this time with my old 6mm Napoleonic armies. They havent seen the light of day for several years now and a lot of the French and Austrian armies were rebased for Blucher.
 I still have very large Russian, Prussian, Swedish, and Britsih armies based for Volley and Bayonet so I thought it would be nice to fight a battle from the 1813 campaign on the plains of Germany using what French allies I still had based for the rules.
                                     
 I discovered I had more than I expected and 'found' that various French allied corps were still intact so much so that the original set up I did for our game contained far to many troops. I think there was something like 8 corps facing 9 allied corps with many still in their boxes. Yikes!!!
 After John pointed this out, we cut the numbers so that I commanded several French and allied corps against 3 Russian, 2 Prussian and 1 Swedish corps. Unfortunately one of my corps was the poor Neapolitans! backed up by the Army of Italy and Groucy's Dragoon corps.I also had a bit of the French Young Garde for which I had high hopes.
 To make things more interesting I put two rivers into the terrain and some difficult terrain hoping to cause the allies some issues. Sadly it didnt work out that way as the Russian juggernaut plowed across the river after throwing decent scouting throws to find various fords. I had expected that they wouldnt move so quickly towards my small Bavarian corps.The rapid movement caused me to commit the Young Garde cavalry in order to slow the allied progress down.
 Another error, as they took on a disordered and static Russian dragoon division who literally decimated them in one melee! Now that is quite unusual in Volley and Bayonet because normally one can expect your brigades to at least only retire, not be wiped out. I have touched on wargamers personal morale and me losing my beautiful Young Garde cavalry was just such a moment. I was gutted.
 In the centre I had attempted to fool John by digging in what appeared to be a sizeable and well equipped French allied Corps unfortunately made up of poorly trained Neapolitan's strengthened? by their Garde units. Unusually the Swedes sent against them, who are very large brigades simply minced in every sense of the word their way through these reluctant chaps. Again I had to send in the Grade, this time my Italian Garde who did steady the ship but denied me a large part of my reserve.
 My personal morale now hanging by a thread I had a rush of blood and sent in a corps of heavy cavalry led by the Westphalian cuirassier brigades. These managed to burst through John's lines and cause him to rush across his Prussian reserves to stop me attacking the rear of the Russian infantry. A stalemate!
Foolishly believing I had a chance of a victory I committed the Young Garde infantry to apply the coup de grace to his Russian infantry who unfortunately were Russian Grenadier divisions and the match of my troops, if not even better. By the end of the game I had little in the way of reserves left. My infantry in the centre were struggling to hold on, and my Garde were in the wrong place. John very kindly decided it was a bloody draw which I grudgingly accepted [ well I pretended to grudgingly accept]
 My Young Garde cavalry on review with the Emperor, I think it was fair to describe them as all fur coat and no knickers types of troops.
It was nice to get my 6mm armies out for a game even though the battle was a tad too large for two players.I hope we can squeeze in another battle before the end of the year and one where I actually manage to behave in a sensible way and not throw cavalry forward unsupported and not worthy of the title of Garde.


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Kings Lifeguard.

Now that I have virtually completed my small project for next years Waterloo game I am able to resume my 'old school' English Civil War project. I have just finished the Kings Lifeguard in all their red splendour. As I have stated before my armies are Hollywood ECW, which means bright uniformed regiments. None of the dull miss matched clothing that the regiments probably wore, no doubt some wargaming purists will dislike them but I wanted to recreate the armies John and I used in the very early 1980's..

I also thought I should 'do' another Union regiment to balance the forces somewhat. Perry plastics naturally, great figures for generic units.

The Perry twins decided to sculpt a few more dismounted confederate cavalry which I 'had' to have, I blame the consumer society for this craving.


And finally I wanted to have a few little mementos to give away at the Waterloo weekend next year. I thought the gifts should be a little different and was lucky enough to lay my hands on some Barry Minot figures from the early 1980's. Now considering they are well over 30 years old they are still lovely sculpts, well in my eyes they are. Naturally they are of the Guard and the final collapse at Waterloo.The figures are 30mm.






These little beauties are Stadden 20mm figures and are again lovely little sculpts. Yes I know Bessieres was dead by 1815 but they are just a little gift for the weekend.


Sunday, 9 December 2018

On Personal Morale.

A few posts ago I touched on the actual physical morale of the wargamer after I had lost badly in one of our games. Basically I attributed the defeat to my 'personal' state of mind.
'Morale' has been a feature of wargaming rules for many years now, probably since the early 1980's when the original morale charts started to appear.
I have no problem with morale in wargames rules and I am very happy [ish] to use whatever mechanism portrays the units state of mind.
 However as light reading at bedtime I am re-reading the excellent, Knights Battles for Wargamers introduced by the late great Brigadier Peter Young.
 The actual series of books was a lovely series of battles from history that could be utilised by wargamers.I am lucky enough to have the series and I tend to return to the excellent First Bull Run book for inspiration. But I digress.

                                       The Brigadier playing mind games with the Don.

Anyway in the actual introduction Peter Young wrote the following;....

' Readers of this series will find that almost every wargamer has his own set of rules. I do not think this matters very much so long as the range of weapons and the distance covered in a move is realistically worked out. I only have one bee in my bonnet, which is that elaborate Morale rules are a waste of time.

 Morale is in the mind of the wargamer himself, for ultimately a war game is a duel between two opposing generals themselves. Do not let them hide their deficiencies behind the alleged failings of their metal or plastic followers.'

It got me thinking about what modern wargames rules would be like should one actually remove the morale section of the said rules and instead plough on until ones opponent has realised they are beaten and concede. It might work and certainly John and I are able to recognise when one is beaten and would begin a rearguard action and get off the battlefield.
But would a lot of younger gamers accept the reality of a situation?
The Brigadier knew firsthand about morale and a general's state of mind so understood thoroughly when to press on or when to retire to fight another day. He also based his wargames rules firmly in the fun but historically correct camp so there would have been none of the to the last man scenarios.
But nowadays?
A lot of younger gamers have progressed via Warhammer and the like where to the last man is common because they can still win whatever scenario they are fighting. So heavy losses aren't relevant.
And my point?
 I think morale lists etc were introduced because a lot of wargamers didnt know when they are beaten and were happy to plough on and refuse to accept that a situation was hopeless. A morale result forced the wargamer to accept that their army was struggling and near collapse.It also allowed a wargame to be completed within a set amount of time and not allowed to drag on ad-infinitum.

It is of course entirely subjective as everyone is different.

I have faced wargamers who were beaten before they had thrown a dice, such was their outlook on life in general. [A bit like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh]
 But I have also faced wargamers who were so pigheaded that they would battle and argue to their last casting simply because it wasnt in their nature to accept defeat.
So maybe we dont need artificial morale and perhaps the Brigadier was right.
But then he usually was............




Monday, 3 December 2018

A Cornucopia of Various Painted Items.

Well this weeks painting desk is a cornucopia of various items. Several years ago? my daughter bought me a 120 mm Napoleon figure from Tradition which I simply stored away. [ingrate] Anyway whilst searching through a couple of boxes I came across him and decided to paint the figure.
 I did enjoy putting the figure together although being a veteran model he is a little cruder than more modern figures, but I still like him. I'm no Shep Paine but I can manage to paint the figures to at least look presentable. Sadly I never mastered the art of blending wet paint shades etc and can only look on with awe at the wonderful effects that master painters can achieve. Still he is completed and stands proudly on my bookcase.
 John was able to collect my pre orders from Warbases at Battleground which has allowed me to complete my Garde contingent for the Great Game next year. Perry do make some lovely sculpts albeit with annoying and well hidden bits of metal hanging off them. The two limbers have come up pretty well, and to help towards the final figure total for next year I added a couple of extra figures to add interest.



While scratting through my boxes I 'found' a unit of unpainted Crusader ACW figures and decided to paint them as early Confederate militia. These are meant to be from South Carolina. I like them although they dont have the movement of other makes.


 I always loved the Salute figure that was a freebie several years ago of an ACW cavalryman.They are quite hard to come by now and are usually quite expensive. I was lucky enough to bag one on E Bay a couple of weeks ago for a more modest price and I painted him up immediately.

 Unusually for a Union commander I have given him an 8 rating. Must be Custer!
 Finally I painted up the horse holder for my dismounted union cavalry. I like the way they have turned out and look actually like a unit.
 Finally another couple of images of Napoleon, just to gratify my ego a bit. Thanks for the indulgence.


My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating