Sunday 20 December 2009


Austrian infantry pile into Zokolnitz while Bernadotte moves up in the background
Had an odd month, went up to Scarborough for Gerry's and Herbert's week of Napoleonics. We had a great time, fought Austerlitz (twice) Wagram and Dresden. I've put up a couple of pics from this and have plenty more to follow, but time has been precious since I got back, plus I've had really bad flu which has been totally debilitating. You'd have thought that writing a blog was one of the few things you could do while feeling ill but I've had absolutely no energy. What little I have had has had to go on working, and I haven't even picked up a paintbrush. Its left me feeling extremely frustrated. A tough work schedule for this week and I'm even going in between Christmas and New Year (can't remember ever doing that before). However, I will get some more stuff up, I promise. Plus, I'm desperate to get some Austrians finished. They are sitting on the table looking at me accusingly.
Neil Sheardown (some of his cracking painting below) has asked me to do a piece on fast painting horses in oils which I will do in the New Year. Should be fun to do.

Massed Russian Heavy cavalry
Above is a quick bit of action from Dresden, a massive Russian cavalry attack towards the end of the game which was an Allied victory. The French army including 4 divisions of Young Guard (48 battalions of them!!!)  couldn't hold against the hammer blows of  the Allies.
Socially it was a great week, lots of dinners and Herbert got some good presents including a version of his favourite unit  "the fighting 57eme" painted by Neil; These were the old Connoissuer Greatcoated French figures. Really manky campaign dress types, which is why Herbie likes them I guess. Here they are in a presentation case:  

The Fighting 57th (mark II)
More of Neil's work below, some Elite French line. I really like these newer French march attack Elite figures. I did a few a while ago as Westphalians - I think about 2 or 3 months later they released the proper Westphalian range!- They are very straightforward to paint from what I recall 

Nice new Elite infantry painted by Neil Sheardown, in the background Badeners move up in support.
Anyhow, its 9.30 and I'm knackered again so I'll try and get something more out later in the week.

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Saturday 28 November 2009

Off to Scarborough

Zastrow Cuirraisiers: Connoisseur Figures from the WHC collection
 A busy week at work, and a pathetic showing in the painting stakes, I'm afraid. However, my bit of a spurt at the beginning of November means a handsome total for the month so I'm not complaining at all.
I'm off tomorrow up north for a week of hardcore Napoleonics. I'm really looking forwards to it. It bodes for being a cracking week, its a birthday celebration for my old friend Herbert who has invited about 10 of us up to Scarborough for the week. it's also Gerry's birthday this week so he will be playing too.
The plan is to fight 3, two day games, spanning the heart of the period. The first game is Austerlitz, then Wagram, and finally Dresden.
I've played all of these scenarios before at the centre, however, Gerry says he has re-jiggered all three of these games so they will actually all be completely fresh and most of the players won't have played any of them previously, so there may be a few surprises.

Saxon Garde Du Corps: Lots of conversions
In the absence of any new painted units I've put up these pictures of Saxon Heavy Cavalry, which I took recently at the WHC. Lovely units, as ever lots of conversions with all the swords replaced including some quite mad figures tumbling from their horses. I think originally they were only half regiments painted by Doug Mason but Gerry wanted them expanded to full 32 man units. So Neil Sheardown did a pretty amazing job of matching his painting to Doug's original work and re-touching them.
With a little luck I'll be able to get my greasy hands on these during the course of the week.
A lot of time has also been taken up sorting out planning for the forth-coming game in Falmouth in January, been a lot of e-mailing and plotting going on but the ideas are forming. My initial rather doom-laden appraisal has been replaced with a somewhat more optimistic view (it has helped that I have since read the briefing correctly). The Umps are putting some interesting options available for the poor old creaky French Army.

More massed Saxons
So, I have a pleasant 4 hours or so in the company of Noel, who is doing the driving, I can also deliver to him his Wurtemburg cavalry.
Going to be a fine week.

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Saturday 21 November 2009

Prussian Fusileers and Austrian samples, plus a bit of a whinge

Calpe Fusileers form a firing line
Been a little busy, firstly, last week-end saw me going down to Newquay for a 1/285th WWII game, which was a great few days. No pictures I'm afraid, partly because it wasn't that photogenic (not that it didn't look good), partly because I was so busy playing I forgot. It was a Normandy scenario playing a 2 day game from midday on 6th June which then influenced a second 2 day game based around Goodwood. We were using the Newquay lads take on the Mega-game rules and on the whole they worked really well. Not perfect, but well-tailored to the games we were playing. Importantly, they seemed well tested and the OB's and scenarios were quite well thought out with clear, achievable objectives for both teams. One of those games where both sides could have gone away saying they won.
Just when one has memorised one set of WWII rules along comes another. The rule set for the Falmouth Mega-game in the New Year has just been put out. These are based on the same set as the ones used for the game I just played. Despite being largely similar I wish I had the same confidence in them that I had in the set I just used. I can't help feeling that they haven't been tested enough, and that based on previous experience the scenarios COULD become wildly imbalanced because of the marked disparities within the rules (and scenario specific rules) between the opposing sides (France 1940). There is always enormous ingenuity on the part of players in these situations to maximise their advantage and I fear the "new" rules and doctrine guidlines do virtually nothing to restrict this. I have a horrible feeling the only purpose the French team will serve is to serve as spectators while the Germans just roll forwards. There is nothing I can see in them which leads me to think otherwise, and that the experience for the French players will be distinctly mediocre. Lets hope I'm wrong.
This year the game has gone back to a standard sort of hex/map campaign format. Probably a mistake. Last year they used a more abstract system for the 41 desert campaign. This worked up to a point and if there was one game where it would have worked well and allowed the umpires to adequately control the games played it was the 1940 Campaign. As it is I have little doubt it quickly degenerate into a series of very dull walk-overs for the Germans, with a series of compensation final games based on fudges. They are still looking for a couple of players for the Germs so if you fancy winning for a week with no thought or ability required then sign up.

Back to more picturesque things, I've finished the Calpe Fusileer btn. A firing line pose, with of course, no standard. These were finished the same as the previous btns the only real difference being the black belts rather than white, strangely less satisfying to paint. Perhaps I'm just a white belts man. However the results are nice and the firing figures made a nice change.

So, although I still have another unit of Prussians to do I have made a start on the Austrians. I did these samples just to make sure I was happy with the technique and the results are ok. It's a little difficult to imagine what these will look like en-masse so I'll just have to persevere and produce a full 48 before making a final decision but I think I'm happy with the process.
I went for Spraying white (what else?) then washing the whole figure in a thinned wash of Vallejo green ochre. Then block paint and highlight as normal with the white being done in white grey with white on top.
In the above picture the figure on the left is one of the new "Collectors' range" Austrians. I like the figure at trail. It has a seperate musket arm and there are 4 variants, I'll probably only use about 4 or 5 of these in a btn but with all the other variants available the unit should look really mixed. Not sure how much painting time I'll have in the next 2 or 3 weeks. I'm busy at work plus in just over a week its back up to the WHC for Herbert's birthday bash. Can't wait.
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Wednesday 11 November 2009

Austrians Arrive!!

I knew this would happen, a MASSIVE box arrived this afternoon from Elite Miniatures, typical, tomorrow I head off down to Newquay for a 4 day WWII fest, so I have a happy evening ahead packing, boning up on the rules for the game ahead, printing OB's, digging out my dice etc plus the small matter of sorting through 1300 Austrian figures....oh, and I think I'm supposed to spend a bit of quality time with the significant other prior to my departure. How is a man supposed to concentrate on his nearest and dearest when his head is full of Grenzers and whether the mix of variants will work?
To be honest, one obviously has to prioritise one's time here, and I've already spent a couple of hours going through the infantry and working out how to mix the figures. Having bought all these different units they need a bit of mixing up. I bought 4 x 48 of the new "Collector's Series" Austrians which are chock-full of variants to mix in with the old style adv/chrg mix. plus Mr Moreby bunged in about 90 of the other variants within the btns...all told I think each of the helmeted btns (of which there are 13) will get about 14 different infantryman plus different officers/stds drummers etc. They should look pretty whacky. The big strength of the Elite figures is the energy they can display. If you want seried ranks of identical march attack figures (nothing wrong with that- it can look great) then don't buy Elite, Front Rank will do a better job, and if you are short-sighted..Foundry. However, I really liked the idea of trying to replicate the feel of all those drawings of Austrians in action during the 1809 campaign, no orderly ranks but swarming mobs of infantryman rushing forwards....we shall see.
Anyway, a bit more sorting out then its time to get my head into WWII mode.
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Sunday 8 November 2009

Prussian Musketeers

Calpe Musketer btn
Google seem to have a new pic uploader, seems to be a little more punter-friendly than the old one. You also get these BIG pics. Jolly good.
Just got round to basing up these Musketeers (apologies about the blobs of white glue under the grass tufts. they will dry and be invisible pretty quickly. These Calpe figures are possibly the most painter friendly figures I've ever encountered. For someone who has been brought up on Connoisseur they are so simple to paint. In fact, you would have to be a REALLY bad painter not to get a decent result with these. Even a cack-handed twat like me can make them look ok.

The usual massive mix of poses, which I like, I know its not everyone's cup of tea, but this is my blog, so tough. I used the same method as the Landwher, and these took about the same amount of time, so November is looking highly productive so far: 64 figures in 8 days. I won't be able to keep this up for the rest of the month but its a bloody good start.
Checked my bank account yesterday and there was a very significant difference all of a sudden which I hope means that Mr Moreby has posted the Austrians. Excellent. Trouble is I'm quite busy this week and then on thursday head to down to Newquay for a long weekend of WWII gaming (1/285th, so not very photogenic). I'm looking forwards to this, should be a good laugh, good crowd and it will be a good game. (D-Day, and a bit of Goodwood in 2 games). However, it is bound to mean a delay in getting stuck in to the Austrians.

I've got another march attack musketeer btn  like this to do, plus a Fusileer btn in a firing line pose, going to be difficult to do before starting the Austrians. Discipline will be required which has never been my strongpoint.

Managed to remember to do the flag correctly this time, 5 coats of brushed on artist's gloss then a brushed matt coat. Came out as flat as a pancake (?)...ok, thats a mixed metaphor but you know what I mean.
I do prefer to brush on varnish these days, seems a bit more controllable plus I'm a lazy sod and in order to spray I need to go down 3 stories to the garden. The artists gloss is not smelly.
So, no hair-spray or other "magic" solutions....just brush it on. Not rocket surgery.
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Tuesday 3 November 2009

Tying up loose Prussian ends

Calpe Landwher battalion
I'm still waiting for these pesky Austrians, 5 minutes ago there was a knock at the door, I lept up, raced downstairs (almost breaking my neck). What was it? Some geezer flogging home deleivered organic meat. Not much use to a vegetarian household, certainly a lot less useful than a big box of toy soldiers.
Anyway, the excitement engendered by my waiting for these figures has given me a shot in the arm as far as painting goes. The last couple of weeks have been incredibly fruitful. I've banged out some Connoisseur Austrians in readiness to be joined by their Elite comrades (60 artillerists and Grenzers). So, this weekend saw the paint table empty.
What to start on? Now it would be Sod's Law that if I started something major like a couple of btns then these flaming Austrians would turn up half way through. In the end I bit the bullet and decided to try and finish the 4 remaining btns of Calpe Prussians I have, which have been sat in bags for about 4 years.
First off was the last Landwher btn, now with half an eye towards the impending Austrians I decided that speed was something of an issue. Not to the extent of compromising too much, but I wanted to try techniques which might cut a little time. To be honest, in the end I didn't really change much at all.

Casualties: not something I normally do
I also did something I've not really done before and kept an eye on how much time this was taking.
I did these in batches of 16, 8 to a stick, trying to keep each stick with figures vaguely similar in pose, I find this makes things a little quicker as you can develop a "rhythm" of sort.
I decided to use the prime/undercoat as a basis for a major colour. Once upon a time I would undercoat say, grey, and then spend more time painting the grey....well, grey...A lot of painters will be throwing their hands up in horror at the idea of using a prime coat as a "finish" coat, but by the time you have washed, highlighted and varnished, there isn't a lot of prime coat left.
I read someones painting tips the other day and they said they undercoated black, and then painted the whole figure grey...(????) and then painted the figure...well, it's their life..Personally, these days if a figure is predomitably grey I just spray it grey, likewise if there is a lot of black. I'd do it black and then wash and highlight. (You can guess what colour the Austrians are going to be undercoated in).
I think unless you are superdetail whizzo expert, and are just a decentish wargaming standard painter like me then you are really wasting your time. the differences are imperceptable.
Anyway, they were blocked in with a very thin Dark Prussian Blue wash on the coats and caps, Green ochre on the packs and belts, Sunny skin tone, Black on the boots, musket and cartridge box, highlight the musket barrel etc in gunmetal, Burnt Sienna as a base for the red on collar, cuffs etc. Block in the musket wood with German cammo black brown. All the extant grey bits were just washed with a thinned black (breeches, blanket rolls).

Big old flag
After that its plain sailing: wash over the Green Ochre with a Burnt umber oil wash, the flesh with an Indian red oil wash, musket strap is painted Burnt Sienna, and the musket highlighted with Leather Brown. Black bits are highlighted in German Grey. Red bits highlighted in...Red. When the oil washes are dry highlight the Burnt Umber washed Green Ochre with more Green Ochre, on the flesh more Sunny Skin tone. Grey areas are now highlighted with Neutral grey and then Neutral Grey+ white on top. Taches and hair are done with any old brown and/or grey. Brass is picked out in Brass and some Silver applied to pick out the musket lock and the musket bands.
The officers needed a few different touches, sashes were grey base coat washed black and then picked out in silver, white belts and buttons picked out in Grey White.
As I said, these figures were just washed over with a thin blue basecoat, so the pigment gathered in the folds which Calpe figures are good for. Some of them needed a second wash and I put a few highlights which were Dark prussian Blue mixed with grey, all in all the coats didn't need a lot of work to get a decent effect.
Matt Artists Varnish was slapped on.

About 12 hours total time over 3 days from start to finish

One peculiar thing happened; The flag is a GMB one which I've had for a long time (at least 4 years) Normally with these I varnish them with 3 or 4 coats of GLOSS varnish to stiffen them up, and then matt them. For some reason I didn't do this, and applied the water-based Matt straight on. This has resulted in some of the original ink running on the flag, only very slightly, and its not serious. I don't know if this was a one-off, a result of using water-based Varnish, or because the flag was old...I won't be doing it again.
Figures were based up using my normal method . Calpe figures are BIG as well as lovely, and were a bit of a squeeze on the base.
Anyway, total time was 12 hours. Not bad.

16 figures: about 6 hours
Next, I moved on to the 3 infantry btns, 2 musketeer and 1 Fusileer, I've completed the first 16 musketeers which I show here: These were painted with the same method and took about 6 hours. I was reasonably pleased.
The interesting thing here was that I was much more careful with the blue wash, subsequently these figures have just had a single washcoat over the grey undercoat. Thats it. No highlighting, nothing. Looks as if I've spent weeks blending it, but actually I haven't. Saves A LOT of time.

Musketeers: The blue is just a wash, no highlighting

Thursday 29 October 2009

While we are waiting...

Mameluks: From Mike Ingham's collection at the WHC...Amazing conversion work by Doug Mason
Nothing much happening on the Austrian front. Everytime I go downstairs I glance at the door in case there's a delivery note and I didn't hear the guy knock, but no big parcel from Elite as yet. Despite my impatience the reality is that it probably won't turn up until next week, all things considered. I'm just itching to get started on the white chaps.
I don't have many pics of Austrians, so, I'll put a few pics in here which have NOTHING to do with them.
I just love this unit. I've always coveted it, The figures are Mike's, converted and painted by Doug Mason when he was in his prime. My photos don't do the figures justice at all. They are extra-ordinary conversions. Every figure is different, arms and bodies built up with solder, weapons re-made. I think they were originaly Connoisseur, but I can't tell which figures were used as the basis

All the horses have been re-modeled, reins replaced by brass wire, the horses themselves have in some cases been taken from two different castings and then "cut and shut"..seamlessly. The manes and tails have been teased with a soldering iron to give them more movement

These pictures also don't show up Doug's painting to it's full advantage, the detail on the weapons and horse furniture is painstaking.

Amazing work...
Hey- ho, while I wait for these Austrians to turn up you'll just have to make do with more pics like this.
I have not been idle though, I'm painting up the Connoisseur Grenzers at a fair rate, and have been using them to experiment on techniques to use on this Austrian project, to be honest I don't think I'll change much, I'll paint them the same as I would most things, they look quite good and I'm happy with the speed I can do them. They won't get based up though until I can mix them in with the Elite kit, so you'll have to wait.

Monday 26 October 2009

What's next? ....LOTS of milkshakes

Wurtemburg Jaeger: Connoisseur figures
So while all this Vittoria stuf has been going on I've not been idle.
Got a bit of painting done, finished the second battalion of Victrix Italians which was good, then polished off a dozen skirmishers for Noel, someof whom can be seen above. I also wanted to do some conversions to create a Wurtemburg Horse artillery battery. No-one to my knowledge makes figures for these, but I thought some Russian Guard Horse artillery gunners with Firing Line cavalry Rapenhelm stuck on them would work. The results are below: Quite a cute little battery.

Wurtemburg Horse Artillery. Connoisseur Russians with Firing Line heads
However, the major development of the past couple of weeks has been the decision to build a big old Austrian army. I've been thinking of what to do for my next painting project for a while, and hadn't come up with much. I had contemplated Austrians a while ago, along with maybe a Big French Guard project...but French Guard? I've got tons already...then I saw that Pete Moreby at Elite was doing his "Christmas Special" offer. I did a few sums and worked out that purchasing 6 of his Brigade packs meant an overall saving of about 30%. Pretty good. SOOOO... I got together an initial (initial....blimey) order for about about 1200 figures. This will form the core of an Austrian army. 16 x 48 man infantry btns, 4 x 36 grenadiers, 3 regts of light cavalry and 84 skirmishers. The skirmies I've ordered are mostly Grenzer so I should be able to make up 2 x 36 man btns out of these. I just happen to have a load of Connoisseur Austrians lying around in a dark corner; Enough cuirraissier for 3 regts (!!) about 100 Grenzers, about 30 gunners and more artillery pieces than I will ever need ( about 20 guns) So I've ordered a few extra Elite gunners to be going on with and can pad out the Elite Grenzers (which are lovely figures) with some of the Connoisseur stuff.
I've asked for the units to have as much variation as possible, including all the "variation packs" plus 4 of the 48's in helmet are the new collectors series which look really good. So by the time I've mixed them all up they should look extremely varied.
I reckon this little lot will keep me busy for 2 years, I might be able to speed things up. Austrians are actually pretty easy to paint, no piping, simple uniforms. I've laid in vast quantities of varying shades of white paint.
Now, the trouble is this week I'm "working from home" (cough), so I'm already in a state of nervous anxiety everytime I hear a noise which is vaguely like a postman/delivery man...I do feel a bit sorry for the poor old postie who has to deliver this- as at a rough estimate it should weigh over 20 kilos!
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Sunday 18 October 2009

Vittoria, the (inevitable) outcome

The man without whom all this wouldn't have been possible: Gerry pondering on how to inflict further carnage.
Having examined the terrain and OB's, before going any further I should take this opportunity to thank Gerry (and Anne) for inviting me up to their's to play this game in the first place. Gerry and I had a great time on the table but an equally fine experience was to be had off it; some excellent dinners, and a lot of tea...and beer,.... and wine...I had a splendid time, all due to their unstinting hospitality, so many thanks, it was much appreciated.

9lber's from Alten's division pound Cassagne's infantry. KGL move up in support. (Connoisseur figures from the WHC)
The opening few turns of the game were fairly cagey, the only Allied troops deployed at the begining of the battle were the Potuguese and Spainish units and Dalhousie's division on the west side of the Zadorra. The 3 British cavalry brigades made an aggressive move to quickly cross the river in the south-western corner of the field While the infantry steadily moved up to the river line. There was desultory counter battery fire from both sides.
Having gained some inteligence by examining the troops on the allied side it was quickly obvious that the British would be one's delivering the flank attacks. I threw a couple of battalions out from Arinez plus the divisional cavalry to spoil and slow down the British cavalry. On the north western flank I extended the French line by moving half a dozen battalions to meet the Spainish threat there. The other moves meanwhile were to move the French cavalry ( Tilly and Soult) down to the Arinez area to counter the British cavalry. Meantime the 12 pdrs moved off to support the northern flank, planning to take up position between Maransin and Cassagene and form a hefty gun line in that sector.
D'Armagnac and Boyer remained in reserve.
This situation continued for 3 or 4 turns while the British cavalry attempted to ford the river and the French Divisional cavalry extended the French lines to the south, they were in for a shock however when two and a half divisions (Stewart, Cole, Ponsonby and Longa) emerged from the hills on their flank.
I started to shift further forces south from the Tres Puentes area, this looked pretty solid against the Spainish and I didn't need all of Laval to hold it. The attack against the Spainish was going moderately well.
The French were holding their own in the artillery battle and both sides skirmishers were popping away over the river. The Portuguese were taking a long time to cross.
Meanwhile the roads were clogged with fleeing baggage moving east.
"SPLAT" The Speedbump hussars meet the Horseguards
This situation continued as the British cavalry formed up, there were a couple of minor skirmishes as Soult's hussars moved up, which the French lost, meanwhile the British infantry poured onto the southern flank.
The firefight against Morillo's Spainiards was going well, a couple of dodgy morale rolls and soon most of the division was in retreat. The French were having trouble chasing them.
None of this however could do anything to impede the British cavalry. Tilly's Dragoons couldn't get into the sector in time and took up position east of Arinez. It was down to Soult's Lights to do the chance. They were ridden down in short order by the British Heavies, a couple of fleeing squadrons pinned a French line firefighting Dalhousies' infantry as it crossed the river...this wasn't good, The line and a another supporting unit were charged and broken through by the rallied British cavalry. Suddenly there was a minor crisis developing west of Arinez.

Cassagne's infantry occupy a farm. Figures are the fantastic original Dave Allsop Old Glory French....Never bettered
Still the Portuguese made no headway, but that wasn't really their job, they were just there to pin. The artillery and skirmish battle continued unabated while Laval's infantry struggled through the baggage to get to Arinez.
Then, around turn 7 came the next British blow. Another two and a half divisions appeared on the northern flank. D'armagnac moved up to counter this and the French formed a solid, (but thin) line supported by 4 batteries of artillery along the river line.
This was then followed by ANOTHER two and half divisions including the Light Division pouring out of the mountains north of Vittoria, The French were seriously outnumbered here.

British cavalry mass before the 12 pdrs on the northern flank. They were cannistered down in droves
This was the situation as the game reached turn 10 to 11.
On the southern flank, the British were building up a solid line to assault Arinez with the French heavily re-inforcing the area east of the town,cramping the British deployment with Sarrut and the dragoons. Lamartinerre was slowing moving up to support this,hampered by roads full of baggage.
Arinez itself was under shrapnel fire with a number of Daricou's btns massed behind the village. To the west and north of Arinez was a sorry tale. The charges of the British cavalry had cut down 2 btns plus a lot of cavalry, 3 (untouched) btns were routing back and had carried off a battery. Daricou's units were huddling in square waiting for these to clear and then rally.
Fortunately the British had nothing to immediately exploit this, but the situation wasn't good.
On the western Zadorra it was business as usual with the Portuguese doing the hokey-cokey back and forth across the river.
To the north-west the Spainish were hard pressed but this was really a side-show.
Further along the Zadorra to the east D'Armagnac was wheeling into the left of the line to face off Bradford. This was a stalemate for ther rest of the battle.

Maransin's infantry deploy, my small contribution: Perry and Victrix
Maransin with my little Perry fellahs was firefighting across the river and doing ok-ish, but even by rotating the btns as they were worn down, it was obvious the French would run out of units before the British.
The same situation was developing (but faster) in Cassagne's sector. Here btn after btn was fed into an uneven firefight with riflemen, the Footguards and a cannistering RHA btty. Both of the latter were eventually seen off but at a high price. The French were simply going to run out of units.
On the eastern end of the battlefield the strategic axe for the British was falling in the shape of the Alten and the Light Division. Alten was gunning down the Spainish Guard infantry while the LD raced towards the exit road supported by the KGL cavalry. I don't think they actually fired a shot all game apart from the odd skirmisher, but they were descending onto the exit road at a rapid rate and there was nothing to stop them apart from a few squadrons of Spainish Guard cavalry.
The writing was very much on the wall for the French at this point.

French Dragoons get on the flank of the highlanders. It was about to get messy for the Black Watch
There were isolated areas of success for the French; Against the Spainish things were going well, and the btns facing the Portuguese were dishing out casualties. Around Arinez a few British btns were getting worn by fire, and pinned by repeated dragoon charges. Eventually one of the highlander btns was caught in the flank and ridden down along its length, while the other 40 man was shot to bits, as were a couple of British squares. However, the occasional British rout never evolved into a whole-sale series of routs although it easily could have done.
The damage was done to the French on the Northern flank. By the end of the game the French were wavering, they simply couldn't cope with the fire combination that the British could bring down on them.

Picton Volleys his way to the river, and takes up the slack for the British. In the background the battered Footguards retreat
All in all it was a highly enjoyable couple of days. Its not often that one gets the opportunity to play a one on one game on such a large table, and with that many figures (It was being replayed last week as a 3 a side game) and going it alone in such a scenario, is a bit different. You need to remember A LOT of stuff, the challenges are slightly different, and the simple physical side of moving around a large table (or series of tables) is a bit tiring. A straight-fowards line 'em up scenario would probably be easier as a 2 player game, but its a small point.
As a scenario...hmmmm ... Apart from Bautzen I don't think I've played in such a one-sided game at the centre. The Brits really do hold all the cards. Not helped by playing against Gerry who is not exactly a bad player....In terms of player pyschology Gerry as an opponent is hard to beat at the best of times. His only "weakness" (if it can be called that) is that he likes to generate a plan, then get "all his ducks in a row", and then execute it, so sometimes it's possible to throw him off balance (except he has usually taken your moves into account). The trouble in this game was that there were few (no) opportunities for this.
Anyway, anyone reading who has managed to get this far, and has enjoyed this lengthy account even a 10th of how much I enjoyed playing it, should be happy!
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Tuesday 13 October 2009

Vittoria: Part II: The French

Swiss, French and Berg infantry move off the heights of Tres Puentes (all figs from the WHC collection)
Ok, so in the previous dispatch we saw the British OB. Without further ado lets have a look at what the French have to defend angainst this onslaught:

Army of the South:

1st Division: Laval.
1 x veteran line
4 x 1st class line
2 x 2nd class line
18 skirmishers
2 x 6 light cavalry
1 x 8lb foot btty

3rd Division: Villatte.
2 x veteran line
4 x 1st class line
2 x 2nd class line
18 skirmishers
2 x 6 light cavalry
1 x 8lb foot btty

4th Division: Conroux
4 x 1st class line
4 x 2nd class line
18 skirmishers
2 x 6 light cavalry
1 x 8lb foot btty

5th Division (part): Maransin
4 x 1st class
12 x skirmishers

Maransin's Division deploys: My boys get an outing. Perry and Victrix from my own collection get a day out at "Wembley"
6th Division: Daricou.
1 x veteran line
3 x 1st class line
3 x 2nd class line
18 skirmishers
2 x 6 light cavalry
1 x 8lb btty

Dragoon Brigade: Tilly (staff officer)
4 x 8 dragoon
4 x 8 dragoon
6pdr horse btty

Light cavalry Brigade: P. Soult (staff officer)
4 x 6 light cavalry
4 x 6 light cavalry
6pdr horse btty

Army of the Centre:

1st Division: D'Armagnac.
3 x 1st class line
2 x 2nd class line
12 skirmishers
3 x 6 light cavalry
8lb foot btty

2nd Division: Cassagne
2 x veteran line
5 x 1st class line
18 skirmishers
4 x 6 light cavalry
8lb foot btty

4th Division: Sarrut.
2 x veteran line
3 x 1st class line
1 x 2nd class line
18 skirmishers
4 x 6 light cavalry
8lb foot btty

6th Division: Lamartinerre
4 x 1st class line
2 x 2nd class line
18 x skirmishers
4 x 6 light cavalry

Boyer's dragoon brigade (staff officer)
4 x 8 dragoons
6lb horse btty

Spainish Guard (King Joeseph)
3 x 32 2nd class line
3 x32 militia
6 x skirmishers
2 x 8 light cavalry (militia)
2 x 6 dragoon (militia)
8lb foot btty (3 guns, militia)

Reserve artillery:
2 x 12pdr foot btty.

All btns are 36 man except where stated.
All French foot artillery is 3 guns and a howitzer
All French horse artillery is 3 guns

The French can deploy anywhere South and east of the river Zadorra.
The Spainish Guard and the Reserve artillery must deploy in the environs of Vittoria.

Fleeing baggage clogs the French lines
So, thats it for the French....not great.
A quick look after the battle shows they are outnumbered by some 20 odd infantry btns. (8oo figures all told)
Plus the British have over a thousand veteran or higher classed infantry to the French 360. (plus all Brits fire as vets, in a game of firefight rather than melee)
The Brits have more skirmishers, plenty of which are rifle armed.
The French have slightly more artillery, but the British beinng all elite more than compensates for this (and they can fire shrapnel)
The French have slightly less light cavalry and it's penny packeted all over the place
The French have a bit more heavy cavalry.
The French have some 50' to defend and the Brits can pick their spots to attack.

The Deployment
The only inteligence the French possessed was that the British were attacking from the west, and that they could expect strong flank attacks from the south and north.
Faced with this, frankly, I was at a bt of a loss. Defend too strongly tothe west and risk the army being cut-off, defend the flanks and give the british a free ride over the river and still get taken in the flanks.
In the end I went for a rather predictable defence. A crust everywhere, with a central reserve as a reaction force.
One area where I thought I might do some good was in the North western corner where I thought I might be able to flatten out the line and remove an "apex" at Tres Puentes" subsequently I placed a strong division there (Laval) in the hope of mounting some sort of counter-attack. This sort of worked.
The other major problem was the village of Arinez.
I felt I had 3 choices here.
1:Sit and defend this "Apex" (slow suicide, the village was vulnerable to 2 sides and would be shrapneled to bits)
2:Mount a "picket defence" of a few btns plus cavalry slung out to impede the british advance.
3: Use a "minefield" tactic and not actually defend the village but mass troops behind it utilising it as an obstacle and making it untenable for the British to occupy.
In the end I chose the second when the the "minefield" was probably the sensible option.

Westfalian and Baden troops counter attack north of the Zadorra
The British Plan seemed pretty simple (and as it turned out, effective):
Pin the French on the western Zadorra using the Portuguese and Spainish, then administer the flank attacks using the quality British forces, cutting the retreat route safe in the knowledge that the French simply couldn't be strong everywhere (or was that anywhere?)
Part 3 will reveal the outcome!