Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Chassuer pics and update


 At the beginning of the month I made the trip up to the WHC for Gerry's birthday game, as I said before, a bit sad, as everything is going to close there and move to Basingstoke for next year. The event itself was however as much fun as it always is, thanks to all the players and of course Gerry for putting it on and Anne for putting up with 10 hungry gamers all week.
We played 3 games, an Eylau scenario which saw me playing Davout with a flank attack being faced off by Gerry who led me a merry dance fending off my infantry with repeated cavalry charges and lots of his pesky light infantry units ....I wasn't a huge fan of his new light infantry rules before and I'm less of one now!...to be honest, I don't mind the rules themselves but its the quantity of the units he is employing that I feel is colouring the game. The odd btn here and there would be fine, but with some formations having 3 or 4 of these each they can dominate. I don't think the staggered bases add much to the visuals either.
That said, we had a great time, so who cares?
 Game 2, Friedland, saw me battering away at Herbert, quite a relaxed game. He wasn't coming forwards into my massed Russian gunline and I wasn't going to far forwards into the minefield defence he'd set up around a village. He had to wait until my flank was threatened and the position unhinged by (wait for it) copius quantities of Light btns romping through a wood on my right. Then I had to fall back slowly but he didn't have the strength to press his attack. The French weight was elsewhere on the other side of the river.
The final game was an 1813 "what if" - Spremberg, a normal game without the light btn rules etc, to be honest I enjoyed this the most despite the fact that we cocked up our deployment and had too much cavalry in the wrong place (in front of a redoubt, - although we didn't know it was there). Nonetheless we had a fine game.
 A biggish project prior to Christmas was going down to the new WHC at Basingstoke to see Mark Freeth's new set-up..well, at the moment its a big, airy, empty unit! Not strictly true after me visit as I dropped of a very full van load of timber in order to help mark build the all important tables. I've volunteered my rudimentary carpentry skills to help him and we are going to start building in the new year. Should be pretty straightforwards but blimey, do you need a lot of wood!
He finally has his website up and running so I said I'd pass it on here to any of you avid readers who hadn't seen it  
All sorts of stuff in there, lots of pics (some taken by me!) and info on the fairly packed programme he has prepared for 2011.
So, if any of you fancy a big game weekend he deserves your support, I shall certainly be able to get over there more often in future. I timed the drive, door to door is less than an hour from West London! Big difference to the five hours each way to Scarborough.

Last, but not least a quick word about the photos, I realised I have no pics of Napoleon on this site....Now I thought that was a bit remiss considering the majority of stuff here is "Napoleonic". So a pic of him and his staff and naturally the accompanying regt of Chassuers to go with him. Mostly Connoissuer figures with a few Surens I think- all painted by Doug Mason and now all about to move from Yorkshire down South.
Anyway, Happy New Year to you all.

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Friday, 26 November 2010

Austrian Dragoons by Doug Mason, and a bit of news


I can't help but notice its been 7 weeks since I last posted here, I wish I could say that a lots happened wargames-wise in that time, but I'm afraid thats not the case. I've had little time for games or painting. My output has been insignificant; I've STILL got 4 lancers to finish for that regt, although all the horses are done and the rest are based and finished. On a positive note I am coming up to my annual quiet period in terms of work which is normally  a productive painting period, so lets hope so. 
One thing I did manage was to get Mike Ingham to part with these dragoon figures painted by Doug Mason. I did nothing to them other than touch up the bases, they are the Elite figures. This gives me 2 regts of Dragoons now, plus the 2 hussar regts, and 1 lancer. I have one regt of 36 Chevaux legere (why give Austrian cavalry a French name?) still to paint- this will give 6 regts and a total of 240 cavalry.
There are stiil the Cuiraissiers to consider,but they can wait.
In 2 weeks time I will be heading up to Scarborough for Gerry's birthday bash which he has kindly invited me to. While I'm obviously looking forwards to this, it's also a bit sad as it will be the last time I will get to play 25mm napoleonics up there. Its not been any great secret that ill-health is forcing Mike to shut down the holdiday centre. Gerry is now well underway embarking on his own enormous - and I mean enormous!-10mm project (He already has erected a brand new, purpose-built "bunker" with about the same amount of table space as the current centre!). He is looking to replicate what they had in 25mm in 10mm in a couple of years- should be fascinating, and is going to be upping the figure scale so what was a 36 man btn now has a mental 108 figures. The man is nuts.
Although some figures have been sold, the rest of the collection (which is still massive), including all the buildings and terrain is moving down to the Basingstoke area under the stewardship of Mark Freeth. I spoke to him this morning and he has new premises sorted, and is hoping to put his first game on in February! He said he should have a website up next week. He is going to be doing Napoleonics, plus ACW and Malburian, and has already rebased all the WWII stuff (!) for Flames of War. He has some new ideas and will hopefully breathe a bit of new life into the WHC. I wish him all the best, and am looking forwards to playing there (and its only an hour up the road!).




Sunday, 26 September 2010

WIP: Lancers

September has been a fairly hopeless month in terms of gaming, painting, and blogging I'm afraid. So, just in case you thought I'd jacked it all in I'll put up some pics of the Austrian lancers I don't seem to be able to finish. 
Elite figures and horses with a few mounts from elsewhere (Connoisseur, Alban, Firing Line). 
Bases obviously not done yet, still awaiting painting, brushing and grass bits. So far I've just done 32 out of what will be a massive 48 man regt - 8 squadrons of 6 figures. I picked the the third regt as I liked the red Czapka, plus the trumpeters apparently wore white ( though I've had trouble confirming this). Plenty of conversions and head twists, plus a few replacement heads from Firing Line. Lance pennons by GMB. There will be a standard bearer, although I'm not sure if Austrian light cavalry actually carried them in action. All the lances were soldered, and the officers sabres replaced. I also played about with some of the horses, teasing out manes and tails with the soldering iron to give them more movement. In the end, however, I decided life was too short. I might do this again for officers and the odd special, but otherwise.No. 
I hope to get these finished this week, I guess I've had a bit of mid-project blues with the old Austrians. It will pass.
I have also decided to give these chaps their own staff officer - seeing as they are such a big unit. I found a lovely Bicorne Uhlan officer, and I've tweaked him a bit- changed his sword arm, added a steel sabre and soldered a "flying" scabard onto him, again to impart a little movement. I'll post him when he is done. 
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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Duff-up in John's shed: The Austrian's first outing


Things start to go wrong on the Austrian right- the line is in the process of being shot to bits
I slipped up to Cambridge to John's shed for the day in order to get the Austrians actually on a table for the first time. There wasn't a massive amount of thought put into the game, it was just a bit of an excuse for a duff-up. John is easing his way back into Napoleonics after a lengthy lay-off so we wanted just a quick, low intensity game that wasn't going to tax the brain an awful lot.
Close up of the attack columns on the left. Everything fine at present (sausage roll in support)
It was a pretty straightforwards set-up, a village complex on the (Austrian) right, some skirmish buildings and walls on the left,  a few woods in the centre. No big artillery platforms anywhere, French defending. We didn't have a huge amount of time so the French deployed quite far forwards,which didn't help the Austrian cause much. In retrospect we probably could have been a bit cleverer with the terrain, 
Panorama of the early stages
The only decent area for cavalry was in the centre which unbalanced things somewhat. I concentrated the Austrian's new shiny hussar brigade there and the French had a regt each of Chassuers, dragoons and cuirraisier plus a horse btty.  Each flank had an infantry division to take the respective village areas. The one on the right had a dragoon regt attached.
We used a variable morale system for the infantry, all btns were treated as 1st class line until they took their first morale test,where-upon they rolled to discover their true class: Austrians: 1 to 3- 2nd class line. 4 to 10 1st class line.
French: 1 to 4 -2nd class line 5 to 7 1st class line, 8 to 10, veteran.
French young guard: 1 to 5, veteran. 6 to 10 Elite.
All cavalry was line and all artillery was 1st class.  
The Austrians fielded 1 infantry division of 2 Grenzer, 5 line btns with a 6lb btty and 18 skirmishers, these took the left flank. In the centre was a hussar brigade with 14 squadrons of hussars each of 6 figures.
On the right was an infantry division of 6 line btns with a dragroon rgt of 6 x 6 man squadrons plus a 6lb btty and 12 skirmishers. All btns were 48 man strong. 
5 battalions: should be enough to take a village, surely?

Connoissuer French attempt to outflank the Austrian left
The French had a 2 infantry divisions each of 6 x 36 supported by a 6lb btty, 24 chassuers and 18 skirmishers. One of each occupied each flank.
In addition they had a young guard division of 4 x32's plus a heavy cavalry outfit with 1 x 32 of dragoons and 32 cuirraisier with a 3 gun horse btty.
All in all, I think the French were too tough for the poor old milkshakes.
The Austrian right develops
The Austrians trundled forwards, because of the speed of our set-up it meant the Austrians couldn't really get any artillery preparation, however they manfully pitched into the attack against each village. They actually did ok, they got forwards,got the guns into position and started to work  towards their objectives.
In the centre the massed hussars nullified the french cavalry, a typical ding-dong Grand Manner cavalry scrap continued through the whole game.  A lot of folk can't cope with the cavalry system in ITGM but the more I read of historical accounts the more they turn out like ITGM battles. Units go forwards, battle it out, retire, new ones go in, the original ones rally, go back. Its all about having local reserves. Both sides (typicaly) won the combats they should have lost, and lost the ones they "were certain" to win. The rest of the cavalry was squeezed on the extreme Austrian right, and this went a bit more to the script, with the Austrian dragoons making short work of a chassuer regt, which forced a couple of French btns into square and took them out of the fight for the village. 
A recent new acquisition: Classic Connoissuer infantry painted by Doug Mason, skulking in square.
On the left a grenzer btn waddled in line through a wood on the the extreme flank, it never got anywhere for the whole game but it did tie down 2 French btns (a bit) so it wasn't a total waste of time.
Meanwhile the asault against the skirmisher buildings and the walled compound went in. John concentrated a lot of fire on one unit (always a mistake in my book) but the size of the Austrian units allowed it to be shrugged off. I had some success at first and things were looking rosy.
6lb battery supporting the Austrian right
The French artillery btty retreated when charged and the lead 2 Austrian units crunched into a lone French btn manning the wall. In fact I had a bit too much success. The French btn routed after the first round of combat, with relatively light casualties. I would have much preferred for it to have stuck around for at least a second round of combat as I had 2 more btns to re-inforce with and the French had one. This would have allowed me to ruin 2 French units, as it was it meant the French just pulled back a bit, I couldn't exploit, and the 2 units I had in the front line were badly shot up. They took more and more fire from the flanks and that was about it for my attack on the left village.
Hussars and Grenzer demonstrate in the centre
The right hand flank told a similar story, despite the dragoon's success I couldn't get sufficient  force to bear on the village, I was reasonably successful at clearing the walls but couldn't find room to deploy those big Austrian firing lines. When I finally did, it being Austrian, it took so long to deploy that it was shot down before it could do much damage. Again, the Austrians after initial successes just couldn't finish off those Frenchies.
High point for the left. The Austrians couldn't get over that wall.
Things were coming to close, dinnertime was approaching, and the Austrians had run out of steam. We called it a day.
So in the end it was a suitably inauspicious start for the Austrian army, but then, as we all know, all troops get beat the first time out!
(Good Lord!! I've just noticed...60,000 hits!!- does that mean I can have drink?)

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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Hussar problem solved

I mentioned that while I was up at the Wargames Holiday Centre I was hoping to make a few purchases. Well,I did indeed, and here are a few pics of some of them. Mike has been selling off quite a few units this year in order to "slim down" the collection (for example, having nearly 180 x 36 man French btns seemed a bit OTT), and I hoped to buy a few units I'd always really liked. High on the list were these 2 regts of Austrian Hussars, 1 of 36 men and another of 48 (Wish they were both 48's).
One of the problems I've always had with the Austrian army is the hussar uniform. Now I know they invented the things, but I've always thought the Austrian hussar uniform looked more at home in Billy Smart's Circus than on a battlefield. All that purulent bright green, stupid red trousers, and yellow plumes...Give them some long, floppy shoes rather than hussar boots and they would have looked better.
Subsequently I've never had any great desire to paint any. So from years ago when I first saw these rather more subdued paint jobs they always appealed. They are all wearing overalls and the green is (a more realistic) darker shade.  Despite this they are still suitably gaudy enough for hussars, with their red shabraques with yellow piping and either bright or dark blue dolmans.
They are (naturally) the Elite miniatures castings, painted and converted by Doug Mason. All the sabres are pins soldered into the hand and are very tough. Even after many years of service up in Scarborough I only had to replace 3 swords out of 84. Doug has done plenty of bends and twists to these figures. There are only 4 basic figures here, officer, trumpeter and 2 trooper figures, and he really has imparted an incredible sense of movement to the models which really look the part of hussars at full tilt

I just did a minimal amount of work on the bases to blend them with my standard basing. Just an oilwash and highlight then some grass clumps added. I also gave them a quick new coat of gloss. I had contemplated giving them a matt coat, but they look infinitely better in their original gloss glory. I'm developing a bit of a theory about gloss V matt: Gloss varnish isn't terribly fashionable these days which is actually a bit wierd. There is no debate about it bringing out the colour and establishing a visual contrast between the figure and its base, this is simply optical fact. Nonetheless, a lot of folk "prefer" matt these days. Anyway, my theory is, that gloss varnish makes well painted figures look even better and badly painted figures look even worse, while matt varnish just dulls everything down to a more median uniformity (no pun inteneded). So for Mr Average painter (like me, and most of you) we think our stuff looks better when we matt varnish it, because gloss just shows up all the cock-ups, while matt is more....forgiving.
Anyway, thats my theory.

These figures were painted by someone who really knew what he was doing, and it shows up even better in the flesh than through the lens of my rather inadequate camera.

These weren't the only figures I bought from Mike, there are more (I just kept peeling off the tenners until he said stop) but the rest will have to wait for another time.



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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Long WHC weekend (part II)


The Allied right early in the game. Looks reasonably secure at this point.
So to continue the narrative of last weekend, we carried on with the made-up (before you all go Google-crazy) battle of Goerlitz. This is what I call a "Mike reinforcing" battle. (at least, I assume it is one of Ingham's). Mike does like to design scenarios where one or often both sides receive their reinforcements gradually throughout the battle, usually on a simple die-roll (turn number + 3 average die), and coming on to the table at pre-designated entry points. This means (horror of horrors!) that wargamers actually have to come up with a plan in advance, and then pretty much stick to it. It's one of the strengths of the vastness of the holiday centres' table. Its no use deciding to bring on a formation in one area of the battle and then attempt to march it (even with tactical moves) from one end of the table to the other. It will rarely get there. 
Decide where it's going, decide what it's job is, decide what happens after that (amazing how many wargamers are utterly incapable of this).
Anyway, down below are the respective OB's - many apologies but I don't have a map.
Allied OB

French OB
The French therefore had a mountain of cavalry (15 regts!) and hardly any infantry (a paltry 16 btns) on the table to begin with. The allies could muster a 2 to 1 advantage in infantry and almost parity in numbers of cavalry figures(though not in regts/sqdns). The French did have the advantage of a reasonable defensive line. A large sector of their front was covered by hedges and woods which would prevent the Allies from pushing forwards quickly, and they controlled 3 key villages. The central one was on a hill and dominated proceedings, particularly the road net in the sector where the Russian Guard infantry would eventually appear. So this had to be cleared in good time to allow some of the key re-inforcements to move up.
It was garrisoned by the Polish infantry division, just 8 btns, a hussar regt and a battery. The infantry were a bit good though, for although they moved and fired as line (+3), they tested morale as if they were all elite (+5). Tough little critters.
I was up against this with 14 ropey old Russian btns, a light cavalry regt and a big old Russian 6 pdr battery. 
In the event it was a really tough fight. 4 Russian btns went right with half the skirmishers to clear a wood with just a single Polish btn in it, the outcome of this was rarely in doubt but it slowed me down a little which I'm sure was the general idea.
Around the village the Russian battery engaged the French in counter-battery fire and the French quickly realised they were on a loser and retired out of sight of the Russian battery which then switched it's fire to the village and the units around it in support. It did sterling work! and inflicted hefty losses on the Poles. Not that they seemed to care. Even with the infantry testing as Elite, Nick blithly rolled high roll after high roll for their morale tests. After about 8 or 9 turns I got the Russian attack against the village set up. It should have been a walkover, and in some ways it was. I had 8 btns going in against just 4 Polish, and I won all 3 melee phases, the Poles were well and truly stuffed. Naturaly they just passed morale meaning I bounced ...

My first attack against the Polish held village, after a massive morale roll, the Poles held, but the losses they had taken in the process meant they couldn't stand for long.
This was the begining of the end for the Polish division, as the 4 units which has defende the village were thoroughly exhausted, being almost at 50% strength. I had 2 units badly damaged, and 3 more with minor losses. A few more turns saw the rest of the Polish division eliminated as they made a series of brave but piece-meal attacks.
Elsewhere the Prussians were arriving and were embroiled in fighting over the hedgerows, on the extreme left the other Russian corps was pushing forwards supported by the Russian cavalry corps which was destroying any French cavalry in it's path.
Prussian columns move up in the Allied centre, the wood in the top of the picture finally having been cleared of pesky Poles
 Then the French started arriving in numbers. However, they all turned up on the flanks! division after division. I had pushed my cossacks forwards in a smart-ass move to sit on the roads I just KNEW the French reinforcements would arrive on in order to strengthen their (now destroyed)
centre. They never appeared, just more and more on the western and eastern edges. They were inexorably pushing back on the eastern flank, despite the Prussian's best efforts, having beaten off the French to their front. The Russians on the western flank told a similar story, with the French guard now lined up against them.
The "Polish" village in the top left, Prussians advancing in the centre, relieving the Austrian advanced guard in the foreground. French infantry move up to (temporarily) occupy the hedgerows 
In the centre the Russian guard infantry had streamed into the gap left by the Poles, and lined up alongside Pahlen's victorious cavalry. There was a brisk, one-sided fight as the Russians mopped up 4 btns who were  still in their sector. They settled down (supported by 3 batteries) to await the French Guard.
The Russian reserve cavalry appeared on the left but never really got going while it's front was covered in routers from Eugen's corps. That was the situation at turn 26 (not bad going) when the game ended. As for the result?
I'm not sure..drawish erring on the side of the French, but at a massive cost.
. Although the French were in a slightly better position they had incurred enormous casualties, both in infantry and cavalry. All in all a fine game and a great week-end.
There is one more thing I need to tell you about the weekend, avid readers here will recall I was intending to purchase a few figures from Mike..this I did,  but that will have wait for a few days, when I will have pictures aplenty.

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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Long WHC weekend (part1)

The view back over the French centre and right flank. Dom looks thoughtful, Gerry, errr...doesn't.
Last thursday saw me making the familar trip up to Scarborough to the WHC, this was to be a long weekend with 2 games on offer. The plan was to get there for about 2.00pm for a Corunna(ish) scenario which was to play until Friday afternoon, then once a few more people had arrived,  change over for a fictitious 1813 bash which could accomodate more players. As it was, the Peninsular game still had 10 players, so the players each had relatively small commands and the game played quite quickly and smoothly.  
I played on the French left and was tasked with taking one of 2 villages which dominated the road network which the British needed in order to get to the waiting arms of the RN.
This probably proved easier than it should have done, my opponent had racked up 8 or 9 battalions behind the village, including some fairly choice kit, a couple of guards batallions and 2 big Scots units. As it was he would have been better off spreading out a bit more. What transpired was that both myself and Eric on my right flanked the village rather than assault it directly. Due to the lack of troops on the flanks we were able to easily penetrate the defences which on my flank consisted mainly of a solitary highland btn. A punchy unit, and if it had had a couple of mates quite capable of putting up a stiff fight. On its own however, it was easily brushed aside. The end result was that the British behind the village were caught in a crossfire from myself and Eric, with units being continually pinned by retreating units in front of them.
Rule number 1 in ITGM:
Space Management!
Part of my division attempts to outflank "my" village, which is out of shot to the right of the picture 
In the end, it was a fairly comfortable and total French Victory (contrary to Noel's verdict  here:  http://garagegamer.blogspot.com/ ) Although his perspective might be coloured because he was on the extreme flank of the British with the Light Division, which he handled with considerable expertise. Unfortunately I think his troops would have been the only part of the British army to get away. The rest were cut off.
"My" village in the background, successfully outflanked. The British driven out, and are now being pushed back to the left of the picture. 
None-the less, it was great start to the weekend (I don't recall talking to my dice AT ALL...I think I am being horribly misrepresented!), and got everyone in the mood for the main event which was a larger 1813 game; Goerlitz. We started the game on friday afternoon and got a few turns in without getting into serious contact before packing up for the day. After a couple of extra arrivals (and a night in the casino), and we were ready to go on saturday morning....to be continued   

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