Thursday 27 June 2019

More Bits and Bobs.

 Well where has the time gone since the Glasgow weekend. Sadly I had to attend another funeral of another school friend. That's four in a year! Who said we were living longer? Anyway to escape reality I dashed of a few bits and bobs. I find painting a great escape from things I don't particularly want to dwell on.
 This lovely figure was given to me by Colin at the Durham show. Wargamers are very generous souls. So I had to paint him up, naturally he is a sniper for the rebs. He was a joy to paint.Thanks again Colin, he's a belter.

I am becoming increasingly drawn towards the Mini Fig ranges and yes their horses are strange,[backsides like Kim Kardashian] but they have a real charm.
                                     This chap will command some Royalists.
                                       Whilst this one will lead some Parliamentarians.

   I seem to have acquired more dragoons than I probably have need of, but I do like these Hinchliffe chaps which are a combination of old painted Hinds figures and some new scuplts. These will fight for Parliament. A further batch, this time Mini Figs will be Royalists.
 I discovered that I have completed 12 Royalist regiments of foot whilst I only have completed 8 regiments of Parliamentarian foot regiments. I'm not certain how that happened so I will have to pull my finger out and balance up the forces. Strangely I have more Parliamentarian horse than Royalist horse, so something definitely went wrong somewhere. This ECW project seems to have taken an age to reach completion although in reality its less than a year. Unfortunately July will not be the month to crack on as I seem to be busy enjoying myself, so perhaps August will be more fruitful.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

The Great Game, a Refight of the Battle of Waterloo. Part Two.

 This wonderful gentleman commanded the troops around Placenoit and had traveled from France with his delightful daughter who was kicking Prussian ass on the centre table. The night of the ball he was resplendent in his French naval uniform. By the way, its my hat [ well actually I had half inched it from the Chancellor who had acted as Napoleon.]
After a wonderful night of alcohol, mature discussion [sic] and a kebab of very dubious origins I didnt get much sleep. Even after all these years of wargaming one still gets excited by the prospects of another crack at a large tactical problem, so between a dodgy kebab, an unseasonable hot night and numerous trips to the bathroom I wasnt feeling my most diplomatic.
The French had had some successes but we had the prospect of increasing pressure from the Prussian players and the certainty of an allied counter attack as more and more troops were being sucked into the Hougemont debacle.
 During the Ball I had met  a fellow wargamer from New Zealand, [Rob Bruce] who had made the journey to simply watch the game as he couldnt get a place. We had discussed the days battle and what we should do differently.We also had an interesting talk about wargaming in both countries, the differences and the similarities. These events are a great way to meet wargamers from across the world.
   Anyway the next morning the organisers agreed with me and allowed Rob to take over a command, and he was given a small part of the Old Garde as we were short of a player.
 The Garde commanders then had a scrum down and I was delegated to speak to the commanders around Hougemont in order to get them to release some of the 36+ battalions clustered against the walls of that damned fortress.
 I wont go into details but the three brigadiers had come up with a 'cunning plan' and after a heart to heart they decided to carry it through.

                                                           The 'cunning plan'

  The French were stretched very thinly on the left flank and our cavalry was slowly being forced back due to allied infantry pressure. To the right of Placenoit what remained of our infantry was on the point of being 'shaken' and there were no reserves covering their rear. Drastic events sometimes make for drastic decisions so the Old Garde, my half of the Young Garde and the Garde artillery moved towards La Haye Sainte to replace the badly damaged units who were to attempt to rally off their losses.
 On the French right which had done so well they were asked to peel off some of their reserve troops to face the threat of a Prussian attack to their rear. Meanwhile the remainder of the Young Garde, Middle Garde and VI corps were to go on the offensive and embroil those damn Prussians.

             The VI corps and Garde start moving against the Prussians near Placenoit. The players were excellent and tied up twice their strength all day.

 The French left flank where Kellerman and the remaining light cavalry tied up the allied forces against all odds.

 The Prussians marching towards Placenoit were struggling with failed command rolls and were coming on piecemeal which suited the French fine.

So we threw the Garde into the centre. Manhandling the artillery forward every move as the Garde advanced we started to make real inroads into the allies who took the desperate decision to replace their infantry with a series of cavalry charges.

              Meanwhile I led the Young Garde down the road past La Haye Sainte, again using some artillery at close range I started to make inroads..

For once co operation really paid off as I charged the veteran British foot whilst the cuirassiers attacked their flank and a poor British square isolated from their colleagues. We managed to remove three quality regiments. I would love to say it was down to my tactical skill but the cuirassiers deserve all the credit for their great dice rolling.

Meanwhile as lunch was called the French had probably reached their nadir. Our right wing was now on the final allied table and after pushing back the Prussians was turning left towards Mont Saint Jean. We were holding on the right around Placenoit and had blunted their attempts. The left was also holding and of course in the centre the Garde were slowly making progress even though some gallant cavalry charges had cause one old garde battalion to retire [not rout]
 Around Placenoit things were taking a huge turn for the worse as Jerome's command was rapidly disappearing and large gaps were appearing either side of the buildings as the remaining French infantry were dragged into the battle.

It was only a matter of time and after lunch a motley collection of Brunswickers, Hanoverians and other riff raff piled through the right of Placenoit and onto the clear fields behind the French centre.
All that was left to stop them marching towards the Emperor was a few exhausted cavalry units who were quickly routed. We then had to suffer the embarrassment of Napoleon being chased from La Belle Alliance by some scummy allied cavalry.  This couldn't go on and we had to send the final part of the Garde back towards the Emperor to save him.
         The game was up and the gamble had failed. The monster was to be caged again.
 A disgusted Young Garde commander looks away as those awful Perry chaps gloat at their lucky victory.

So how did my Tirailleurs actually do. Well in order to make units last the organisers had split each historical unit into three. So the four regiments of my Young Garde equated to 12 battalions of 24 figures. I added an extra company of skirmishers to bring each unit up to 30 figures. So in Black Powder one regiment was now three separate units and in order to become shaken two out of three needed to reach that status. I had one such regiment who had been used to screen La Haye Sainte which contained three units of rifle bearing Kings German Legion. These were very effective until I had the reserve artillery man handle up to close range and literally canister them into submission. As for the remainder of my units they caught the Iniskillings in square and simply rolled over them before being halted by the thick red line of Clinton's command.  I was so close to reaching Mont Saint Jean but it was increasingly obvious that the allies were rolling up the French left flank and the game was up.
 So the Great Game was completed on time and probably as was to be expected with an allied victory. There were a lot of what if's but to be honest it wasnt about winning it was about the game, the charity and just enjoying other wargamers company. Would I do it again? Definitely.
 This was how wargaming should be and was a wonderful example of what can be done with the correct amount of enthusiasts and a lot of organisation. So thank you again Tony Pollard and all your team.

                                             And finally some 'clear' images to admire.
                                   That's me [raised hand ]  still demanding a re fight

Monday 17 June 2019

The Great Game. A refight of the Battle of Waterloo. Part One.

 Well I survived the weekend in Glasgow and can now reflect on what happened and what one can repeat from the experience [what happened in Glasgow stays etc etc]
  Because it was a intensive weekend I will post in two parts.
 The event certainly deserved the title of The Great Game and I would argue there could never be a better advertisement for wargaming and wargamers in general.
 What wargamer wouldn't want to take part in a refight of the most famous battle of the Napoleonic Wars.I will admit it isn't my favourite battle but then being a bit of a Napoleon fan it wasn't the best advertisement for his undoubted genius. So piles apart I took a command at the biggest re fight of Waterloo.
Anyway back to the event. I have nothing but admiration for the organisers led by Professor Tony Pollard for what they achieved.
Backed up by a host of volunteers and students who ran everything from the purpose built lighting with spotlights etc for dramatic events, war correspondents announcing what was happening every 30 minutes, umpiring, first aid and anything else you could want, it was impressive to say the least.

 80 brigadiers, 40 generals, 22,600 figures, 4 tables stretching 36 feet by 6 feet covered by cloths copied from the original Siborne plans. Wonderful buildings of all the key features sponsored by Sarissa Enterprises.
Television cameras, national press, wargaming press, you tube whatevers etc it was basically a cornucopia of wargaming goodness.
 I would also like to thank the companies that sponsored and assisted in making the game possible, especially Warlord and Perry for generous discounts and not forgetting Martin at Warbases. The weekend was also graced by the Perry twins, Guy Bowers and several painting gods who had provided units and commanders.
 On top of that, wargamers traveled from every part of the globe, including New Zealand [hi Rob] who only came to watch by the way, from Australia, the USA, Canada, Italy, Holland, France, Germany [hi Johannes] Canada and Singapore and of course County Durham.

 On top of that there were lectures organised to cover the campaign with knowledgeable guest speakers and a 'Ball' hosted by actors quoting anecdotes from the campaign. Oh and there was a free bar handing over strong drinks and beer from the period. I must admit its the first time I've been 'asked' to leave a university because they were closing for the night and everyone else had gone!
But the drink was free!!  I cried as they ushered me out forcing me to go looking for a dubious kebab.

             Hougoumont. What a beast especially when stuffed with elite and veteran infantry.
 The most important thing it was to raise funds for charity and a practical one at that. To help veterans of our forces return to what we class as normal life. In order to build a closer bond 40 veterans took part in the game even though many had never wargamed before, I think they 'got' what wargaming was about and if not I think they had a good laugh at us.
So on to the game. In order to make the event work, Blackpowder 2 rules were used. Now love them or hate them, they were perfect for such an event. Yes they can be simplistic at times but they certainly worked under the stress of this epic game.
 It helped that there were plenty of umpires, but to be honest they didnt have too much to rule on because the game was played in a great spirit devoid of the potential pedants, cheats and rule judges.
 The armies were set up as per the original battle but after that the players could chose whatever they thought would work best.
 Sadly the French [ me included] didnt have a designated wargaming Napoleon or Marshal Ney so started the game without a plan! We had an honoury Napoleon in the Chancellor of Glasgow University but he was only there for the initial move and after that we struggled with a lack of command structure. Wargamers have very different ideas about tactics etc.

 After a couple of moves it became very obvious that we would need to quickly put one together, but I digress. The umpires had also allowed Lobau's VI to be positioned near to Placenoit simply because of the huge table distances involved, their loss from the centre became very apparent as the battle progressed.

                                  La Haye Sainte. Rammed full of rifle toting Germans. [roll one miss!]

 As for the Prussians, well there were thousands of them naturally. Their commanders were only allowed to be activated following designated dice rolls. They to could change their dispositions once they were activated.
 These were led by a nasty group of Dutch wargamers with a smattering of those dastardly German types. We needed to keep an eye on them later in proceedings.
  I had purposely chosen the Tirailleurs of the Young Garde for my command knowing they would be used fairly quickly if we followed history. The Garde were positioned on the fourth table naturally and our original orders were to prepare to advance towards La Haye Sainte when required whilst acting as the main reserve.
Unfortunately after the initial orders it was down to the Garde players to decide what we should do with the reserve.
 After three moves the correspondents announced that there was troop movement on the extreme of the French right flank. The Prussians had apparently thrown successfully to begin moving! Personally I thought those nasty Euros chaps had been doing a bit of fiddling.
 Because the Garde was the reserve, the players were able to watch proceedings on the main table and as we stood it became very apparent that the French commanders needed to have a scrum down to agree a plan. Being a pushy so and so, I took it on myself to ask the chief umpire Bill Gilchrist if he would make a decision whether we could do this and then announce that at the first break we were going to have a meeting.
                                            The Young Garde and part of the Middle Garde.
                                                    [Apologies about this image.]

 Bill agreed that we could have a ten minute discussion! [thanks Bill!] So the Garde commanders got together to decide our plan prior to the meeting.
 To be honest the vast majority of the French players had clearly had the same idea simply because they recognised that otherwise we would fall into making the same mistakes as the original French generals had done at the battle.
 The plan put together was simple and any wargamer who has re fought Waterloo will have decided in doing what we suggested which was namely a right hook against Papelotte and Frischmont whilst D'erlons First Corps engaged the allies near La Haye Sainte.
  There was to be no attack on the monster that was Hougemont and instead it was to be merely contained whilst Jerome's veteran command were to swing left with support from Kellerman etc. Meanwhile the Young Garde and Middle Garde would march towards Placenoit whilst part of the VI corps would advance towards the Prussians and form a line where the woods narrowed the battle field. These would be supported on the middle table by Simmer who were under the command of a lovely French lady who was a very aggressive bugger. God help the Prussians there.
  Her father a retired French Naval officer was leading the VI corps, they were quite a team.The Old Garde would march to La Belle Alliance to stand ready to pounce when ready.
 Ah yes, best laid plans, etc etc. 

After the lunch break the simple plan seemed accepted except the commanders of Jerome's command saw fit to do the following..... Lads, what about the plan????

 Meanwhile on the Allied left the Dutch units decided to advance forcing poor Kellerman to attempt to slow down their inexorable advance with cavalry and no infantry. Oh and their allotted horse artillery had somehow ended up with... yes you guessed it, Jerome!
  On a more positive note I was moving and felt the French could do some damage.

  As the first day of battle came to a close it was very clear we would have to rethink the plan. We had made great progress against the three villages on the French extreme right. We were causing damage in the centre as the grand battery slowly formed. The extreme French left was holding their own and miraculously and against all wargaming sense Hougemont was ablaze and the British Guards pushed back.
 The Prussian players had however been very sneaky and had marched Northwards towards the villages of Papelotte etc.and didnt seem to want to march towards Placenoit.
They had also appeared in strength and were beginning to link up with the light cavalry of Vivian. I told you they were crafty so and so's.
 The day ended with a quick shower and back for the free drink and ball.
 In the next post I will recount how a brilliant young garde commander struggled to save the day for the Emperor........

Sunday 9 June 2019

Its official. I was bad in a former life.

Well this last week has confirmed what I had suspected for a while now. I am definitely cursed. John and I played our inaugural 'Sharp Practice' game using his new figures for the War of Independence. I know I'm a bit sniffy about what I see as card table games but I must admit the rules were excellent and the game would have been really enjoyable if it wasn't for this curse. Need a one, throw a six. Dont throw a six, throw two sixes instead.  Wargamers who use these rules will know that a six is bad when one is throwing to save hits. My consistency at getting figures killed was impressive in a perverse sort of way, and dont get me started on the cards. At one stage I demanded that I be allowed to draw the cards and managed to draw only one rebel card for John's SEVEN British cards!
I purposely took the rebels because I thought the riflemen would be great to use in a small game. I was correct except they were wiped out in three moves. In fact it was fair to say that my force was literally wiped out due to my consistently bad dice rolling. I simply couldn't win an argument never mind throw a decent die. Screw the tactics I was simply a blight on my units.
So this next weekend is becoming a tad stressful as I prepare to take part in what is hoped to be the biggest wargame in the World. Waterloo, aka the Great Game at Glasgow University.
   My Young Garde are ready, my general is painted but in the back of my mind is this nagging feeling that I have a dice curse which will see me fall flat on my face.
 Worse is the fact that I will be using new figures AND newly purchased dice bought especially for the weekend. Everyone knows that new units never fight well and being Garde units the pressure is even more intense. What if they rout the first time they face some Prussian Landwher? The humiliation!
The actual event is shaping up to be brilliant, Professor Tony Pollard and his team appear to have done a sterling job regarding organisation. The weekend is packed with lectures, living history actors, a ball? and 23,000 28mm figures on a massive terrain using the Siborne research and sketches. What can go Wrong? Yep my curse. 
Anyway to take my mind of the dice I have completed a couple of cavalry units for my ECW project. They use a small number of second hand figures from the York purchase with new swords to replace the broken ones. [ Thanks Shaun] and new castings.

 I was also sent some old artillery crews by fellow blogger, Iain White so decided to paint up some more guns. They were a mix of old Mini Figs, Hinchliffe and a couple of very old Warrior castings. Wargamers can be very very generous people, so thanks again Iain. I love them.

I came across this fellow in an old box of scrap, so decided to paint  him up as a Parliamentarian general. Yes he is a bit basic, but I like the simplicity of the figure, it suits the real life general.

Talking of very generous wargamers, I received these six Spanish knights from Jason Williams who found these surplus to requirements. They originally were part of Mike Ingham's Wargames Holiday Centre collection although Jason reckoned they were older than that and had been part of the Gilder collection. Certainly some of the horses exhibited the beautiful oil, wipe off painting system.
So I did a little bit of touching up, added a few Spanish standards and rebased them. They now are part of my Spanish army for the Italian Wars. Thanks again Jason.

Yesterday was the Durham Wargames Club Open Day. The weather was biblical and travelling a bit problematical at times. The Durham club has been in existence since the late 1960's? and has a long history of hosting a wargames show. In the 1970's and 1980's they staged some big weekend events, most very successful some commercially disastrous. Now the open day is modest.
Its easy to criticise an event and I hold to the view that there is nothing better than a wargames show and appreciate they can be fraught with issues for the organisers so wont say anymore than that. Im certain the Durham members will have a debrief re yesterdays event which was very quiet and lacking in games to capture ones imagination etc.
Still they do organise a bring and buy which is a rarity nowadays and for some reason I ended up with a lot of painted Turkish renaissance Mini Figs and Hinchliffe figures which I hope to re paint and re base for my own Turkish forces. Funny thing being a wargamer!

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