Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The Great Game, Waterloo Revisited.

 Surprisingly I am a modest person, not prone to crowing, but the sense of relief with the completion of my command for next year's THE GREAT GAME, WATERLOO REPLAYED in Glasgow made we want to post the event. Considering I was starting from scratch in July this year I do feel like I have earned a little pat on the back. All I am waiting for now is two large limber bases for the Garde artillery and my command is complete.With commanders and sundry little attachments it comes to a total of 377 figures.
 I do have one concern and that's the wargame rule; newly painted figures ALWAYS perform badly. It would be terrible to see my Grade brigade leg it on the first day of battle, perhaps I should obtain so SPECIAL dice for the day.
 Its a shame that they will be only used once by me, but hopefully they will find a good home after the Waterloo weekend which is shaping up to be quite an event with decent media interest already. Perhaps I should go on a diet, I understand television puts a few pounds on you. So hopefully I can get back to my ECW project, after I have painted up some new ACW union figures.


Sunday, 11 November 2018

The Great Model Railway Challenge.

                    The Great Model Railway Challenge. [crap name for a decent watch]

  Watching anything hobby related on the television usually ends up as a toe curling spectacle with the presenters taking great pleasure in highlighting the eccentricity of the hobbyists and generally letting them talk themselves into confirming just how weird some people are who like unusual hobbies.Like nutters on the last bus home.
 When I saw that there was to be a series called The Great Model Railway Challenge I suspected it would follow the pattern used for re-enacters, computer gamers and sadly wargamers.
 The first episode tended to confirm my cynical suspicions as the producers wheeled out a group of serious geeks resplendent in the obligatory black and far away stares.
 But I stuck at the series and as each leg of the challenge took place and I have become more impressed in the way the whole series has been conducted.
 Yes there was the obligatory, 'lets take the piss out of these geeks' by introducing a superfluous craft something useful from this rubbish I've found leg.
  To the credit of the railway modelers they took it in their stride with some clubs actually refusing to take part in the attempt to dumb down their hobby. It didnt help them, they still got knocked out.
 Each week three teams of railway modelers are challenged to create a fully working display in three days using a theme set by the programmers.
  I have been impressed by the ingenuity and abilities of the club members although I was distracted by other items on show when a 'Steam Punk??? modelling club brought along two women dressed in basques. The ploy didnt work and they didnt get through, mind there display was unfinished. Must have been the feathers they wore.
 What really impressed me was the actual layouts they produced and the speed they were able to make great looking realistic terrain.Sadly as usual the actual figures were up to their usual standard of naff figures badly painted.
One team displayed the French Imperial Garde Grenadiers tramping over some beautiful fields [ don't ask] that looked like they had been painted by a drunken chimpanzee. How does that happen? These modelers make wonderful working models with great looking backdrops and models and then stick crap figures all over the place. A bit like the old Subutteo fan figures.
 So how is this wargame related? Well these clubs were in the main very good and I now want a railway layout. It wont happen, but the clubs got me interested in their hobby which was a good thing. Give it a go, the terrain was inspiring.
Could there ever be a wargame programme using a similar challenge? I doubt it. But wargames clubs refighting battles from history in some sort of knockout competition could be entertaining. Imagine a Blackpowder challenge fighting the main battles of the Napoleonic Wars?
 Somehow I know that certain wargamers would shoot the hobby in the foot by insisting on turning up decked out bizarrely or storming off after a hissy fit. Still it would make good television. Now if I can only find some scantily dressed basque wearing women to be on my team.

















Thursday, 1 November 2018

Battle of Kernstown, Blackpowder Two Scenario Refight.

 Yesterday John and I tackled Blackpowder Two again in an attempt to totally digest the amendments from the original rule set. I chose to use another one of the scenarios provided in the new book, The Battle of Kernstown 1862. Luckily I have both ACW armies to tackle the game.
 The actual scenario is a well written piece but for those who havent bought the new rulebook yet I will give a quick synopsis that led to Jackson's only defeat.
 General Jackson had been withdrawing down the Shenandoah valley to cover the flank of General Johnnston's army which was protecting Richmond when Jackson discovered that the Union army facing him, led by Banks had split in two, with two divisions intent on marching back to Washington DC where it was to be attached to McCellan's army. The remaining union troops were covering the march but Banks also intended to march his remaining troops back to Washington to also reinforce McCellan. Jackson was ordered to stop this occurring and forced marched his way North to make Banks change his mind.
 Jackson caught up with remnants of the Union army, which he had been informed had scattered in various directions.The intelligence was wrong and Jackson was to find he was facing 6000 Union troops with a mere 3000 tired rebels. General Banks had been wounded in a minor skirmish and he handed the command of the remaining division to General Kimball who decided to scatter the Union brigades across the area around Kernstown whilst remaining with one brigade on a large hill that dominated the area.
                                     
 The scene was set for a confused battle with opposing generals unaware of what they were facing.The actual scenario captures the union confusion really well,the three brigades that start on the table are commanded by three brigadiers who are classed as HESITANT for 7 moves. Unfortunately the Union cavalry commander Brodhead is also classed as TIMID as well. The hesitant rule makes all command rolls that would have allowed three moves to be re rolled. The timid rule gives a -1 to any charge order and a +1 to any retreat order. Just what you need in a cavalry commander.

Brodhead! Timid, hesitant and an abject failure.

The TINY rebel infantry regiments were to play havoc with my artillery throughout the game.
 All the Union regiments were large which gave the majority a higher stamina capability and extra dice when firing and in melee.Also the Union had no Commander in Chief and one brigade off table until move 8. So quite a tall order for the Union side. Naturally I lost the dice roll and received the Union troops. But they did gain a victory on the day.
 John meanwhile was in command of a much smaller force led by Jackson who had a rating of 9! and with four brigadiers whom he could rely upon. The confederates also were classed as ELITE +5, most with a rebel yell capability and a morale save of +3. This was to prove very important. So a much smaller attacking force but with better potential to hit hard.
 The only Rebel troops on the table was Ashby's cavalry command which to be fair was made up of two TINY units and a horse artillery battery. It shouldnt have caused too much trouble to the much larger Union cavalry command, except of course they were led by that military genius Brodhead who managed to fail his opening two moves thus allowing Ashby to shoot and disorder three of the five Union cavalry regiments with no loss. Thanks God for the new rule that allowed a disordered unit to use its initiative to move away from an enemy, except of course John kept following up making certain these units couldnt rally. 

 My other two brigades fared no better as Kimball and then Burk also failed to give an order.After five moves my Union command was in complete disarray as the confederates began to advance towards the confused enemy. Luckily fate changed as the Union swung into action and deployed into a meaningful defensive line. I threw some uncharacteristic decent firing dice only to watch as the Stonewall brigade saved hit after hit.
 One rule that causes argument is the BLUNDER rule, where a player when he is throwing his command dice throws a double six.The troops affected by this have to throw again to see what they do in the confusion. I managed to throw FOUR! blunders in the battle courtesy of the HESITANT re roll rule. Two were to cause uncontrolled advances towards the enemy. One unfortunately caused one of my artillery batteries to advance unsupported which allowed John to hit it in the flank and destroy it with ease. The second allowed the flank of one of my infantry brigades to be left in the open.
 Step in Ashby with one of his infernal TINY cavalry units who simply rode down the flank, destroying another artillery battery, courtesy of a FOLLOW ME order.
 Ashby was to repeat this feat later in the battle and hit a disordered infantry regiment in the flank [again] and rout it.
By move seven the union were hanging on [just] the rebels seemed to be slowing down and I was now allowed to dispense with the HESITANT rule. Brodhead finally was able to issue a charge order which hit an over exuberant advance by a confederate regiment in the flank. A great success by my military genius! Unfortunately he got a tad carried away and attempted to repeat the feat by ordering a second charge, except this was a frontal charge against a fresh unit. That caused the end of Brodheads command which became SHAKEN and was forced to retire from the table. Move 8 should have seen my reinforcements march onto the table, except Brigadier Tyler failed his command order. Move 8 saw Burk's command become SHAKEN and also begin to retire.
So all that was left holding the enemy back was Kimball who had two disordered regiments and two SHAKEN regiments. Luckily John was having to re organise his brigades which gave me a small breathing space. Surely Tyler would march to the sound of the guns on move nine?  True to form he threw high and I called an immediate halt to proceedings giving John a great victory. 

Man of the Match, Brigadier General Ashby, two great charges and some fine skirmishing!


So how did the game play out, apart from another defeat for me. I really enjoyed the battle. The scenario is a toughie especially for Jackson, IF the Union are able to react to the advance of the rebels. It is a smallish battle of 12 regiments a side and is meant to last 12 moves. The game felt bigger than that and we used all of the 10 feet table as we careered around the terrain.
   The amendments add to the game although some of the rules are still scattered throughout the new book which causes you to thumb through the pages looking for the relevant section. John and I are not certain about the idea of an Aide de Camp, but as we play more games I will decide then. I do think the fact that a C in C cannot issue their own orders separate from the brigadiers is an improvement.I also like the support rules which are clearer and make for sensible planning 
[ something I dont do]
As for the actual game. Yes I got a whupping, but it was an enjoyable experience and although frustrating I still enjoyed the game although I would have liked a sharpshooter to blow Ashby from his horse. Now if I can just get some people interested in refighting the Antietam scenario.                


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