Friday, 16 August 2019

Decisions, decisions, decisions


Almost all my existing projects are nearing their end. The British Peninsular army only needs some artillery and that will be ordered at the end of this month. The Spanish and Russian Napoleonic limbers are under way. There are a few units of Cossacks that need to be back filled and the Crimean cavalry is in the queue. The only project of any substance left on the plan is the Revolutionary War armies, of which I have completed three French battalions, but that is intended as an occasional project...adding a few units here and there. Since we are sadly lacking in British troops for the American Revolution I have started a foray into this period with the first of what will be six British battalions to face off against the vast American collection in our group ordered. The British might also be followed by a spattering of French just to provide some spice to our AWI games.

I have some ideas about expanding existing collections, such as the British Crimean army that could do with another half dozen battalions so that it can go toe to toe with the more extensive Russians, or the Russo-Japanese War cavalry and machine guns, or another couple of units of Wars of the Roses cavalry. An expansion to the early WWI is also a possibility. I will also add some supply vehicles to my various Napoleonic armies in the near future. While that list of additions could go on a bit longer, these are really just bits and pieces, but when it comes to a cohesive project I am not sure what I want to collect next. 

Whatever I do collect you can be certain it will have a heavy 19th Century focus. I have already decided that the criteria for all future collections is that they must have some connection to an existing collection which, given my broad 19th Century collections, opens up a number of options. In the Napoleonic period I can pretty much justify buying any nation because I can make a direct connection with another army. I have always been keen on the Bavarian army, but have shied away because another member in the group already has a collection, but his is an 1809 army and I would be interested in the 1813-1814 period when there was a higher weighting of National militia. So The Bavarians are option one. 

Option two is the Danes. There are logical connections here to existing collections like the British in 1807 and to the Russians and Prussians in 1813 – although the uniforms differ between those two periods and this would require two Danish armies. There is also a connection to the Swedes, both in 1807 and 1813, and that makes the Swedes option three. The Swedes in turn can be used against the Russians in the Finnish War...and there is option number four, but I would need buy another Russian army since the early Russians are substantially different to the 1812-13 Russians I have and this breaks the criteria of having an opponent in place, although the early Russians could fight the Ottoman Turks. Option five is the French 1805-1812 for use in Spain against the British and the Spanish, and a host of others, including the Austrians and they could be option six. 

Outside of the Napoleonic period the options become significantly less, well at least in areas I have any real interest in. The Danes for 1864, put on hold a couple of years ago, are still an option since I already have the Austrians and Prussians to face them, as are the Turks for the Crimea. If I could find a manufacturer that I like for the Austrians for the Franco-Austrian War of 1859 they would be a certainty. Likewise if a manufacturer was to introduce a nice range for the Austro-Prussian War (specifically the Saxons, Bavarian, Hanoverians and Wurtembergers) I’d be in like Flynn, but I think that very unlikely. 

So what is to be done? I need a focus or else I will risk becoming more of a wargaming butterfly than I already am. Thinking rationally – yes I know that is a strange concept in our hobby – the Napoleonic armies are most likely. The French are out for now because the new Perry plastics for that period are not yet released, but they will be a future "must do". I really like the Perry Swedish range,  but it is incomplete so that knocks out the Swedes and then the early Russians as a result. I am not sure about the Austrians – all that white worries me and there so many tempting troop types that could get out of hand. 

That leaves the Danes and the Bavarians. Both have tantalising uniforms and both can be allied to the French, and the Bavarians can change sides too.  Both forces are also relatively small and can probably be built in their entirety for 1813. The likelihood is that both will be done, but which one first? 

In the end my decision came down the availability of support equipment – the Perry Bavarians have limbers, caissons and wurst wagons that are just too tempting. The Danes do not have any equipment yet. The Bavarians will be done first. I have bought the reference book from The History Book Man, so watch these pages in the coming months for battalions of infantry in cornflower blue with their distinctive flags marching off the painting table.   

Speaking of the painting table, it is beginning to groan under the weight of items painted but waiting to be based. With a busy weekend planned they probably won’t be based for an other week, by then there will be much to present at show and tell.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Finishing off a few items

This week’s activity has been about finishing off a few units that have been on the table for a while.

First up is the 60th Rifles for the Peninsular British army. The rank and file for this unit were completed weeks ago, but the command for the unit were only received this week. So here is the whole battalion...


...and then in the smaller groups as they will most likely appear on the games table.




Also worked on during the week is another batch of figures from the ACW refurbishment.  One infantry unit and a couple of gun models.




Sunday, 4 August 2019

American Generals and a Bit of Rebasing

With our fabulous week of gaming over and rapidly receding into distant memory it has been a long week, made seemingly longer by five days of software vendor presentations at work.

All these distractions have played havoc with my painting schedule, made worse by the fact that the lead pile is flat and orders placed to replenish it are still at least seven days away from delivery. Those same distractions caused me to overlook an event that would once have excited me - slipping past 200,000 visits to my blog. But as all bloggers know today such statistics mean very little since the Viagra advertisers and the bots from other dubious locations started worming their way through the blogger sphere.

Nonetheless I have had some items to paint. These were the Wargames Foundry American War of 1812 generals required for the recently played War of 1812 game that arrived too late (and with two horses missing I might add). So here they are, two mounted and four dismounted commanders. Two more mounted figures will join this set when the missing horses arrive.




Thanks to some miserable weekend weather I spent a bit of time rebasing some figures. These are the Crimean War British cavalry that I had painted back in 2016. So why rebase them? Well first of all I have committed to put on a Crimean War game at next year’s Tarawera gaming week and while that is still a long way off it has prompted me to look at completing the Heavy Brigade, the figures for which are back in production. Second, these regiments were originally organized in units of six figures and based two to a stand whereas my preference is to have three to a stand. So for the sake of consistency there was a need for change. Then I had the rather alarming thought that two stands of three made pretty small units and did I need to expand the size of these units?

Fortunately the answer to that question is no because the British only took two of squadrons of each regiment on the expedition and by the time they landed in the Crimea they had been ravaged by disease (which is why at Balaclava all five regiment of the Light Brigade counted only 668 officers and men), so two stands is not an unreasonably sized unit. It does mean, however,  that the Russian units, that were historically larger, will need expanding and the figures for that expansion have been ordered along with the Heavy Brigade troopers.

So here is rebased the Light Brigade.






Monday, 29 July 2019

Wargames Week - The Final Day

Sunday was our last day of gaming, really half a day because we leave at 2:30 after a bit of lunch and after packing up.

The day dawned with a heavy mist over the lake which kept the temperature down.


We were really lucky with the weather since July and August are traditionally our wettest months in this part of the world.

The game for the morning was set in 21st century Afghanistan, with a British infantry platoon attempting to clear the village of Taliban insurgents. Each of us commanded a squad of four figures. We had a single support vehicle and could call on air support.

The insurgents popped up randomly in various buildings supported by Toyota utility wagons in the streets.







In our three or four hours of play we managed to clear half the village, although we took a reasonable number of hits doing so, but the need to travel back home called an end the the game. We packed up, had some lunch and suddenly our wonderful week was ended.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Russian Civil War Game

Today’s last full day’s game of our great gaming week away was a Back or Beyond game, set during the Russian Civil War.

The day dawned cold but fine...



...and developed into a stunning winter’s day.

The scenario was based around the famous story of the escape of the Czech Legion. In our version of the story the legion had taken an armored train and was heading for Vladivostok complete with a store of captured gold. But the train ran out of fuel at a small town and a stock of wood was sought from local forests. However, many other groups, Reds, Whites, Cossacks and Anarchists, sought to secure the gold.

The object of the game was to fight off the other factions and secure as much gold as possible. It would be difficult to describe the chaos that followed, with deals, counter-deals, twists and turns during six hours of play. At one point a significant force led by the Emir of Bukhara appeared and observed the fighting.

In the end the Chechs held on to most of the gold, while my command of Red Army regulars and the Anarchists made off with a couple of boxes each.

Here are a series of images from the game.






























A wonderful dinner of a fillet of beef, washed down by a couple of fine red wind followed. Tomorrow is our last day.


Friday, 26 July 2019

New Zealand Wars Game

Today’s third game in our wargames week was a New Zealand Wars game based around the Flagstaff War of 1845. For historical information of this action details can be found here.

I commanded the British military and naval forces at Korerareka predating to defend against an expected attack. Rather than describe the action, here are a series of images.




















The game ended early and while the next game was being set up we sat on the deck in the sun with a scotch or two (or three) and admired the view over the lake.


War of 1812

A Wargames Scenario

Today’s game, as the leading graphic indicates, was a War of 1812 game set in the Niagara front. I have played a little loose with the historical background, as those familiar with the campaign will note, and the tabletop terrain stretches reality even further. That said, here is the background and technical limitations of the game.


Background (with apologies to historical accuracy)

On 19 December 1813 Fort Niagara fell to the British and its recovery became a focus for the US military on the Eastern Great Lakes for the next year. All attempts to take it from the south and east were foiled, but in the late summer of 1814 a new plan was conceived. 

This plan involved gaining control of the Western, or Canadian, bank of the Niagara River. Success here would make the capture of Forts George and Erie at the northern and southern ends, respectively, of the Niagara River an easier task. Not only would this isolate Fort Niagara, but it would give the Americans complete control of Lake Erie and would open up the possibility of operations in Lake Ontario against the key Canadian settlements of Hamilton, York (modern day Toronto) and Kingston, effectively closing the Great Lakes to the British.

Major-General Jacob Brown’s American Division was charged with the operation. Major-General Phineas Riall commands the British forces in the area.




The Briefings

United States Forces

What you know of the British positions:
  • The main British forces are in camp south at Queenston
  • The British have a small force a the blockhouse at the bridge over the Chippewa River
  • Fort Erie is occupied by a militia force and is in a poor state of supply
  • There is a British allied Indian village somewhere on the woods to the west.

Troops Available

West Division: Major General Jacob Brown
Scott’s Brigade – 9th, 15th, 22nd & 25th US Infantry, 1 battery
Ripley’s Brigade – 1st, 8th & 18th US Infantry, 4th Regiment Maryland Volunteer Infantry and 1st Rifles, 1 battery
Porter’s Brigade – 5th, 14th &16th US Infantry, 5th Regiment Maryland Volunteer Infantry, two units of Indians 1 battery
Unassigned – 23rd US Infantry, 1 battery, 2 squadrons of light dragoons

Objective

In order of importance the US forces need to:
  1. Capture Ft Erie
  2. Establish a position north of the Chippewa by securing the blockhouse and bridge
  3. Contain the Indian threat.

Game Details

  • No British troops are deployed on the table at the start of the game.
  • The American forces have the initiative. 
  • Indians in the open move normally. In woods they move from woodlot to woodlot, but if they cannot be seen ei­ther they can move up to an additional two woodlots, ceasing movement as soon as they can be observed.
  • Brigade and Army Morale rules do not apply. 
  • In addition to normal rally rules all units with a “Rally” activation result can remove all losses at the beginning of their next player turn but:
    • Must not be engaged in any activity
    • Will lose one full stand

Table plan and arrival options. 

British Forces

You know:

A US force consisting of up to 12 infantry regiments (mixed regulars and militia), 4 guns, some cavalry and some Indians is on the eastern bank of the Niagara River ready cross. The crossing point is unknown.

Your Forces

At Fort Erie
An understrength militia battalion plus 1 gun
At the blockhouse across the Chippewa River Colonel Scott
1 battalion 103rd Foot, 1 battalion Upper Canada militia, 1 gun
At the Camp south of Queenston
1st Brigade 
1 battalion 13th Foot
1 battalion 44th Foot
Battalions West India Regiment
Battalions Canadian Voltiguers
2 batteries
2nd (Light Brigade)
2 squadrons 19th Light Dragoon Regiment
1 battalion 1st Foot
1 battalion 5th Foot
2 Battalions Glengary Light Infantry
1 battalion Royal Marines
2 batteries
Indians – Any point within 600mm of their village 
2 units (increases to 4 if the US forces attack the village)

Objectives 

  • Destroy the American forces, or contain them south of the Chippewa

Special rules that differ from those for the US forces

  • Troops in the blockhouse are not detectable until the Americans come within 600mm or when they fire the first time
  • Fort Erie garrison and the Indians are controlled by the umpire.
  • No British troops can move until an alarm is raised – and can only be raised if US troops are sighted by ANY British unit, except the troops at Fort Erie.

Table plan and possible US arrival options. 


Game Details unknown to both sides

The Fort Erie militia will surrender if no British troops are visible and the Americans troops advance to within 500mm of the fort or fire on it. 

Also unknown is that a unit of Canadian militia cavalry is in the fort and will ride out of the fort as soon as any American troops are visible to the fort and will ride north to join the British main force, but will not attempt to fight unless attacked. Once the have arrived at the British position they must rally for one full turn and are then available to the British commander.

If the game is stalling because of a lack of troops the umpire can make up to two more battalions available as reinforcements to either side.

General Details

Rules

The rules used in the game can be found here

Terrain

  • The terrain is gently rolling. 
  • One southern end of the table is the outer works of the British Fort Erie.
  • At the northern end is a British camp.
  • The eastern side of the table, near the Niagara, is largely open with a couple of small farms. A road runs the full length of this side.
  • The rest of the terrain is largely wooded.
  • Two thirds of the way up the table on the eastern side is a blockhouse defending a bridge over the Chippewa River that flows into the Niagara.
  • The Chippewa is fordable to infantry and cavalry at any point 500mm west of the bridge. To cross river non-Indian troops must halt at the river edge spend the next turn in the river and are disordered and on the beginning of the next turn may will be on the opposite edge and are free to move normally but disordered for the rest of the turn (unless they stand still on the edge). British indians can cross at any point simply deducting 100mm from their move.
  • Half way up the table on the western side is an Indian village, located on a stream that flows into the Chippewa.

So how did the game run?

Well not at all like I expected it to.

The day dawned a bit overcast, maybe 6 degrees C. After a good breakfast we were at the table at 9:15.



The Americans chose not to exercise the option to come on across the Chippewa and brought all three brigades on the table on the middle deployment zone.



The British then placed all their troops in camp and we started play. The Americans chose to press Scott’s brigade towards the fort while Porter and Ripley were charged with pressing towards the blockhouse.





On turn two the gun in the blockhouse opened fire and the British at Queenston assembled. They moved with alacrity and quickly began to form a strong position. When their guns opened the Americans quickly realised that they were not going to get across the bridge easily and withdrew to reassess, forming around the farm. The British then established a line to the west of the bridge, fearing a flanking movement.





Meanwhile Scott approached the fort and the Canadian militia cavalry, not wanting to be a part of the surrender, rode north. Soon after the militia garrison sighted the Americans and surrendered.



Scott then turned back towards the bridge and encouraged by his success the Americans turned back towards the river. Ripley formed ready to storm across the bridge, it was going to be costly, but he should have been able to establish a position on the other bank, but the British 103rd stole a march and formed a line that would prevent their crossing. The Americans withdrew again and Scott moved back towards the fort intent on marching down the narrow valley towards the indian village. An extended fight then erupted between the two indian forces in the woods.





In time this advance was a success. Scott cleared the valley, even though an attack on the village brought out another two Indian units.

The British, realizing that the best success was gained by forming in front to Queenston and fell back, abandoning the blockhouse.











Sensing victory the Americans pushed forward across the bridge, but the British cavalry charged, and despite being at a disadvantage, routed the  American infantry and denied them the key victory condition of establishing a position on on the north bank, by occupying the blockhouse.

The game ended as a draw with a slight advantage to the Americans.