Monday, 16 July 2018

American Civil War Game

On Sunday, on a miserably wet and windy Auckland day, four of us played an American Civil War game.


Each of us had command of two brigades, each of five regiments with a battery attached. The terrain and initial arrival points were as follow. Union units are in blue, Confederate in grey.


I commanded the Confederate right and decided early on that the terrain to my right, with all those woods was not a good position to be in. I decided instead to shift left leaving one brigade in the open field to guard the right, while my other brigade could assist my Confederate colleague against the Union right. 

The fight on the woods to my left developed quickly and the Union troops occupied the farm to my left front. The initial Confederate attempt to storm the farm was repulsed and the fighting in the woods seesawed, but eventually we evicted the Union from the woods and the farm.

The passage of the other two Union brigades through the woods on my right forced me to break back to face them.

The Union troops on my right deployed effectively and drove back one of my brigades which quickly disintegrated while my second brigade fell back into the woods to my left.

Above the before shot with my brigade in position, and below the after shot with the brigade gone and a lone battery in the nmiddle of nowhere!

At around that same time the two Union brigades on their right dispersed and we Confederates consolidated. The Union left retired towards the woods begin them and we Confederates attacked.


Both armies were in pretty poor shape now and while I drove back the Union on my front, my last brigade decided it had had enough and dispersed. Fortunately for us Confederates one of the Union brigades also gave up the ghost and dispersed.

This left one fairly intact Union brigade facing two weakened Confederate brigades and the two forces faced off for the final showdown. The Union troops advanced and after a sharp contest won the day.


The game lasted from 10:00AM until 3:30PM and kept us out of mischief on a horrible winter’s day.


Saturday, 14 July 2018

On the Buffet Today...

A fair mix has passed through the uniform store in the last week or so.

First up is the Second Batallion, 48e Régiment de ligne from the French 1812-13 project.

Second, and also a part of the French 1812-13 project is the Third Batallion, Joseph Napoleon Regiment.

Third is two gun sets, again for 1812-13, to represent the half batteries of 4lb guns that were attached to the infantry brigades.

Fourth, on a similar theme, is two half batteries of 4lb guns attached to the Demi-brigades for the French in Egypt project.

Fifth and final, two regiments of dismounted dragoons for the French 1812-13 project, the 30th regiment first, followed by the 28th.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A Visit to the Great War Expositions in Wellington

Yesterday we flew down to Wellington for the day with the goal of visiting the Great War exhibitions at both the National War Memorial Museum and at the National Museum at Te Papa. The forecast for Wellington was for strong north westerly winds and rain so we were ready for a bumpy arrival (actually I have been in much worse), but what we were not prepare for was the first day of the school holidays (why did I think this was next week) and we were on standby tickets. However, we got seats and got there pretty much on time.

Apart from a bit of an issue where the taxi driver was heading for the wrong museum, we got to the National War Museum by about 9:45 and went through the main exhibition. Created by Peter Jackson it begins with a walk through a Belgian village in 1914 and then traces its way through the war with a strong New Zealand focus. The displays are astonishing with stunning features such as the omnibus, the Mk1 tank, the elevated gun and limber team (below).

For a wargamer the key part of this visit had to be the huge diorama of the attack at Chunuk Bair on 8 August 1915, featuring more than 5,000 54mm figures. Now famous amongst wargames and model soldier collectors for its sheer size I took a few quick snaps, but most will have seen better shots posted on various blogs over the last few years.

Perhaps the most striking thing for me was the colourised photographs. It is astonishing to me how black and white strips life from imagery. Some of these scenes of every day life, often behind the lines, look grim and deathly. But add the colour and there is life, hope and even humour.

The second part of the time at the exhibition was a walk through the trench and tunnel system of Quinn's Post. This section has taken a bit of a bashing in the local press recently, but it is superbly done. Jackson has applied his film making skills here and made use of holographic imagery. The sights, sounds and smells are all represented, applied with a bit of that dark almost ghoulish humour that exists amongst a group of men in this sort of situation portrayed by different actors to demonstrate life in what was a hellish place.

After this we met up with long time Wellington based gaming friends Terry ( and von Peter himself ( who kindly drove us down to Te Papa where we went through the exhibition there. This was a very different exhibition. Much more touchy feely with a darker social view of the horrors of war. Again it was brilliantly done. The key for me was the three times life sized mannequins created by Weta Workshops of soldiers and medics that capture in their oversize that blood, sweat and raw emotion of what it must have been like at times.

Any Kiwis who have not been to see this shoud do so soon before it closes.

We then had coffee with Terry and Peter before we headed back to the airport for our trip home. And there was quite a different story. We were a couple of hours early so we thought we would be able to move our standby tickets to an earlier flight, but with the worsening weather a couple of flights had been cancelled and we were unable to transfer, but there were still seats on our existing flight so that was OK. We went to the lounge and had something to eat and drink. Then our flight was cancelled. Luckily we could transfer to another one, but that was delayed. So we waited. As we waited there was an announcement that we had just a experienced an earthquake (I didn't feel it) and all flights were suspended. The collective groan around the terminal was quite audible. Then a minute or two later another announcement apologising that  there was no earthquake and that the announcement was an automatic one and was the result of a system error - there is huge relieve that we are still going, but another short delay. Our standby seats come through and to my delight are a flight deck seats so it is an exciting view fir us, especially taking off in a 20 knot wind gusting 60 knots. It is a good flight home and we pick up a Chinese takeaway on the way home. It has been a long and tiring day. I slept well last night.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ottoman Janissaries

The second unit in the Ottoman force to oppose the French in Egypt, an Orta of Janissaries was completed over the weekend, but only based last night.

Again these are Brigade Games figures.

The next batch of Ottomans will be a little way off, probably as far off as September or October, after the French in Egypt expansion and a few more French 1812 units are completed.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

American War of Independence Game

On Sunday 1 July we pre-empted the US Independence Day celebrations by playing an American War of Independence game.


The scenario set up was that a British frontier fort, supported by an outer line of earthworks, came under attack from a significant American force.


On the British side there were six battalions of regulars, one of rangers and four field guns and a cavalry unit in garrison with another ten battalions of Hessians outside the fort. The Americans had four separate commands, two largely militia and two of Continentals.


All description of the battle are given from my (British) view so that my end of the table is the near end,  The battlefield was laid out so that we were playing along the length of the table. The fort stood left hand near end with a town in front of it. To the right of the town was a large flat and relatively open hill. About a third of the way down on the right, beyond the hill, was a farm. A stream divided the table in two across which ran the main road.


Two brigades of American militia were on the table, on the fort side of the stream, but beyond the town. A third militia brigade was advancing on a road running in from the right edge between the farm and the hill. The Continentals had to march pretty much the full length of the table to get into the fight.


We were told that loyalists had advised high command of the American attack and we were to take the fight to the Americans and drive them back across the stream. Following orders I marched out of the fort with the Hessians on night right. Immediately I struck problems with terrain. The town seriously constricted my ability to manoeuvre. If I wanted to get at the enemy I needed to move to the right of the town and the wood that stood beyond it, but if I ignored the town the Americans would be free to occupy the place and have access not only to my left flank and rear, but also access to the almost undefended fort. I decided instead to let the Americans come to me, while the Hessians took control of the hill and drive off the other, weaker, American force.

The Hessians advanced boldly up the hill and secured its far slope with some ease. There they formed and no sooner had they done so than the Americans attacked. While the Hessians should have driven them off easily the Americans put up a good fight. One of their units broke and was destroyed, but two other fought on in an extended fight. The Hessian line began to look a bit ragged. When the Americans were reinforced on the hill things began to look grim for the Hessians.


On my front I occupied the two with three battalions of line infantry and pushed the rangers forward to engage the militia on the left. The remaining three battalions formed in the clearer space to the right, with the guns to their right where they had free reign.


The Americans on my front pushed three battalions towards the town while and other five made for the open ground in the centre. Four of these battalions formed one great column of battalions and made straight for the guns. The guns should have blown them away, and while they scored nine hits but for the American player rolling saving throws for eight! The gunners were driven from their guns but were not dispersed.


Next turn a British battalion charged the Americans, routed them and broke through onto the unit behind, breaking them too. The gunners rallied and, covered by that single battalion, recovered their guns.


Meanwhile on my left the rangers were shot to pieces by the militia, but the Americans were unwilling to push against the British in the town.


It was becoming increasingly evident that the British and Hessians could not push forward, even with some reinforcement, and they close to fall back on the fort…well the British fell back on the fort and the Hessians were told there was no room at the inn and they would need to make camp in the woods. As the game drew to an end the last of the British fell back into the works around the fort. The officers retired to the mess where a goodly portion of beef and potatoes had been roasting most of the day, and a few bottle of fine claret were broken out and one, that had been opened the previous evening was sent over to the Hessians.