Monday, 6 February 2023

The Lieb Grenadier Regiment

Presented here is the latest in the Russian Napoleonic grenadiers, the First Battalion, Lieb Grenadier Regiment.

The second battalion is almost formed, but the battalion command are not available due to a purchasing error - only one command set was ordered instead of two. The battalion command will not be joining the battalion now until early-March.

Also completed are a batch of mounted officers (left to right), a mounted divisional officer (in the cap, whose missing horse arrived with the last order) with a dragoon escort, a mounted brigadier for the grenadiers, and a single dragoon trooper who will serve as a courier.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

First Battalion, Regiment Froon, Number 54

This is the first of my Austrian Napoleonic infantry. 

From what I can gather Regiment Froon was established in 1769 as Regiment Graf Callenberg. Renamed Froon in 1805 after Joseph Froon von Kirchrath, who served in the Seven Years War, the War against the Turks and in the Revolutionary campaigns in the Netherlands, the Rhine and in Italy. The regiment was engaged in the campaign in Bavaria in 1805, at Aspren-Essling and Wagram in 1809. In 1813 it fought at Klum, Dresden and Leipzig, and rounded out its Napoleonic service in the 1814 campaign. When Froon von Kirchrath died in 1821 his name was removed from the regimental title, but I cannot find what its title became after that.

The regiment was engaged in Italy and Hungary in 1848 and formed a part of South Army in 1866, fighting at Custozza. In The Great War the regiment was deployed to the Northern Front.

I plan to do four battalions for this regiment, three line and one landwehr battalions.

Monday, 30 January 2023

A Group Tour to Paraguay

As the ‘atmospheric river’ that dumped 240mm of rain on us on Friday continued to ruin our summer, on Sunday I organised a trip to Paraguay for seven of our group. We paid a visit to this nondescript location in the middle of South America to play a wargame. 

I stole the basic idea from the Perrys. The table design, in its very rough form, was as follows:

It was a game of objectives. There were three of them and to win the game one side needed to control two or more to win, otherwise the game was a draw. Two objectives are shown in the sketch as a solid black boxes and are relatively easily secured by the side nearest to them. One was a Brazilian hospital based around a church across the river the Alliance left, the other another camp around a small village on the opposite end of the table.

The third objective was a bit more difficult because it was a floating one. It was a Brazilian observation balloon carrying a Brazilian general that has broken loose from its tether and was drifting across the table on variable winds. At the beginning of every turn I rolled two dice (1xD6 and a GW hit dice) and the balloon would move in the direction indicated by the hit dice (a roll of ‘hit’ will force a roll again) the distance indicated on the D6 in increments of 100mm. The balloon could not leave the table and if it got to the table edge there would be an immediate re-roll to get it moving back across the table. The balloon began at an altitude of 300mm but was descending at the  rate of 50mm per turn. The first unit to make contact with the balloon base once it touches the ground could claim the objective. Shooting at the balloon risked killing the general and negating the objective.

The forces were:

  • Ten standard infantry battalions
  • Five standard cavalry units
  • Three field guns
  • Nine large Brazilian infantry battalions, two standard cavalry regiments and four guns
  • Eight small Argentine infantry battalions, two small cavalry regiments and one gun
  • Three standard Uruguayan infantry battalions and one gun.
Each side could deploy anywhere along their table edge and could hold up to half their force off table and bring it on at the beginning of any turn..

The Paraguayans had four advantages to represent to their historical aggressiveness:
  • They added ‘1’ to any activation score if they are in good order
  • The Alliance would deduct ‘1’ to any activation score if they were in good order
  • In any close combat the Paraguayans could  count as higher grade troops and
  • They would always count as shock troops if charging.
So how did it go?

The balloon started in the centre of the table 

The Paraguayans chose to put the bulk of their force, three cavalry regiments, eight battalions and on their right, opposite the church. They sent a much smaller force of two cavalry regiments, two battalions and a battery to their left.

The Alliance chose to put the Uruguayans on their left, with the Argentine division to their right, while the Brazilians took the far right. The latter were to make the main effort, to take the village then cross the river and swing left. The Uruguayans and Argentinians were to hold as many of the the Paraguayans in place as possible until the turning force was in position, at that point they would cross the river and enter the fight.

The Brazilians deploy 

With the Argentine and Uruguayan troops to their left.

The Paraguayans prepare to cross the river near the village 

While the main Paraguayan force deploys opposite the church

The Paraguayans quickly secured the to on table objectives, now they had to hold them.

The balloon shifts awkwardly in the variable winds, moving right, then back towards the Brazilian lines, then towards the Paraguayan side.

The Paraguayans take the church

Paraguayan cavalry

On the Alliance right the Paraguayan cavalry attacked the Brazilian troopers. The Paraguayans pushed the enemy back but fail to break them. The next turn the Brazilian guns came into action and mauled the Paraguayan cavalry.

On the Allied left the fighting was restricted to an artillery exchange while the Alliance troops waited for the Brazilians to secure the right.

The Paraguayan cavalry await the Alliance crossing  of the river 

Their infantry takes shelter from Allied gunfire amongst the vegetation along the river bank
A general view of the field from the Allied left.

On the Alliance right, the Paraguayan cavalry, under relentless Brazilian gunfire, had had enough and quit the field. The Brazilians then split their force, leaving a brigade of five battalions to capture the village, while four battalions and the cavalry moved to cross the river to turn the left of the Paraguayans in front of the church.

As the Brazilians approached the ford the balloon lurched toward the river at the rate of 600mm and landed mid-stream, but right on the ford. The Brazilian cavalry easily secured and repatriated their general, but at a cost as the Paraguayan artillery bit into them. Within two turns the Brazilian cavalry had had enough and quit the field. 

Meanwhile the Brazilian infantry brigade crossed the river and advanced steadily along the opposite bank while their artillery raked the Paraguayan infantry.

The Brazilian guns in action

The Paraguayan infantry feel the pain of Brazilian gunfire

The balloon lands

Finally the two Paraguyan battalions in the village on the Brazilian right were overwhelmed by Brazilian fire (armed with rifled muskets against the Paraguayan muskets the Brazilians could took advantage of their greater range and simply stood back and fired).

On the Allied left the Uruguayan and Argentine troops finally began to move and made an attempt to cross the river in front of the church. The first attempt was thrown back, but with the Brazilians now closing on the rear of the Church, the Paraguayans called “enough” and victory fell to the Alliance.

The Brazilians shoot it out with the Paraguayans in the village 

The game didn’t quite go as expected. I thought the Uruguayan and Argentine troops would contest the ground around of the church more.  But then wargames scenarios rarely go as expected.

Friday, 27 January 2023

You Wouldn’t Think it was Summer

Auckland Rain Radar at 5:20 PM

Now we get a lot of rain in Auckland - with an average of 1119mm across 132 days a year. Hardly surprising since we are in a temperate part of the world and no part of the country is further than 120km of the sea. Tropical winds pick up the water and dump it on the nearest land mass - us. Which is why tourists often remark his green the countryside is.

January is usually our warmest and driest month. The countryside and city lawns turn brown, there are cries of drought, constant warnings of the fire risk and how we must all conserve water. But not this year. It was wet before Christmas (that isn’t that unusual actually) then we had a nice warm spell. But since New Year we have had only a few sunny days. 

But today someone wrung a sponge out over us. Torrential doesn’t really describe it adequately with 109.5mm falling between 6:00AM and 5:00pm (40mm falling between 3:00 and 4:00PM) and it is still falling heavily at 6:00PM. In the 25 years we have been in this house I have never seen so much loose water around the house. 

I am certainly glad of five things today:

  • I worked from home today and didn’t have drive anywhere - even though we get those 132 days of rain a year, for many Auckland drivers rain seems to be an unusual phenomenon that cause them to be either drive with excessive caution or like raving lunatics
  • That we chose not to go away for the long holiday weekend
  • I didn’t spend $400+ on tickets see Elton John tonight in an outdoor show (or tomorrow night for that matter since it is supposed to rain tomorrow too)
  • That on those few fine days over Christmas that I re-concreted some of my drains in the backyard because water was literally swirling around one of them
  • That my parcels from Nottingham arrived yesterday otherwise they might have floated away.
Now it is time for a nice bit of lamb washed down with a glass or two of Grenache.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

I Wasn’t Planning to Start a New Napoleonic Army…

…but I’d run out of figures to paint…and I had thus $5:00 loyalty discount voucher from a local retailer that was burning a hole in my digital wallet…and they had two boxes of Perry Austrian infantry at the right price…and I’d been thinking about a small force of Austrians for some time…I probably should have looked at Prussians instead of Austrians, but there you are.

This will not be a big force as I intend it to be a supplement to Austrian forces owned by other  players. I thought perhaps a light brigade, consisting two jäger battalions a light cavalry regiment (probably a hussar regiment because I have a well documented hussar addiction - this would be the 20th hussar regiment across my collections - and Austrian Napoleonic hussars surely are THE hussars of all hussars) and a horse battery, plus a line brigade of six line battalions and a foot battery.

As always there has been a bit of post purchase regret. The decision was the result of a sudden rush of blood to the head and Prussians would have been a more sensible choice. The recent expansion of the Prussian cavalry has seen the infantry to cavalry ratio shift from 14:3 to 14:8 so another six Prussian battalions would have gone a long way to rectifying that imbalance…and then there is the problem of the Austrian white uniform. But the die is cast, or more correctly the purchase is made and the figures have arrived.

I knew this parcel was coming and knew it had been delivered because I got a notification on the phone, yet following on from many of the comments after my last post I still had that tingle of excitement when I turned into the driveway and caught a glimpse of the parcel at the front door.

So here is the first of what will be the first of the line battalions.

The lead/plastic pile is partly restored.

Saturday, 21 January 2023

They say your getting old when you say “do you remember when…?”

No I am not feeling old…although parts of my body dispute that at times, but we were talking during our game on Sunday about the excitement and enthusiasm we had for our hobby back in the 1970s and 1980s when there wasn’t the choice of figures and information that we take for granted today. We had to make do with the figures that were available even if they were only a passing resemblance of the unit you were trying to build and if you couldn’t find the details of the facings of the 3rd Wierdistan Uhlans you simply made it up because no one knew any better anyway.

This sent me spiralling down memory lane.

Like many others my wargaming experience started with Airfix. They were cheap (although an old boss of mine would have scolded me “we don’t say they are cheap,” he would say, “they are effectively priced”) and as a schoolboy I could buy a box of 48 figures for 50c. For many years they were the only figures readily available to us in the Antipodes. And I bought many boxes. I had vast American Civil War armies. 

Magazines like Military Modelling were readily available and filled with advertisements for companies like Greenwood & Ball, Hinton Hunt, Edward Suren, Charles Stadden, Hinchliffe and Minifigs, all promoting that Holy Grail of wargames - metal figures. But I have to admit that I wasn’t overly taken by metals at first because I didn’t think the detail was  quite as good as the plastic figures. That said, I do recall attending meetings of the Auckland Wargames Society back around 1974 and there were two guys who had beautifully painted metal Napoleonic armies that we all drooled over. And we were all jealous since these guys, because they had metal armies, got to use the big, heavy green mat that belonged to the indoor bowls club that shared the premises with us…mind you the bowls club would probably have had a fit if they had known what their very expensive mat was being used for. The big difference with metals, of course, was that you could buy the figures you wanted in useful poses and not have to find a use for the five crawling figures that were in every Airfix box. 

I left school at the end of 1976 and got my first job that I saw advertised in the newspaper one morning, phoned the employer at 8:30, was asked to go in for a 10:30 interview at the end of which I was asked “can you start now” - compare that to my recent experience of an almost 90 day process to onboard a new staff member. My pay was $70 a week, $60 after tax (sure wish I had that tax rate now) and although it seems a small amount of money now it was good for the times (as a comparative measure a one quart jug of beer cost  45c whereas the cost is around $28 today - if only my salary had risen at the same pace with the price of beer). Finally I had the funds to invest in metal figures. 

My first metal figures were for a Hinchliffe 25mm Russian Napoleonic army for use under the WRG 1685-1845 rules. I am sure that Lawrence remembers this army and is probably still in therapy from the damage that bloody big Russian battery did to his Scot’s Greys (I suspect that the unfortunate chap who faced that battery in the first game at the 1983 Nationals when in the first round of the game I rolled six sixes and literally wiped out his elite cuirassier regiment, that he had foolishly deployed directly in front of the guns, with that one salvo would have similar issues). 

Buying figures from overseas in those days was a complex process. Without the internet printed catalogues without photographs were all that was available - although if you were really lucky you might get a pen and ink sketch of the figure. Credit cards were rare and not readily accepted by wargames retailers anyway, so payment had to be made by buying British Postal Orders that you had to purchase at the Post Office. Under New Zealand’s draconian foreign exchange rules of the time they could only sell you one £2.00 postal order at a time. Figures only cost 7p, but unless you wanted to wait twelve weeks for them to arrive by sea post (which was far beyond my level of patience), you had to pay 50% for airmail postage, so the true cost was a little more than10p a figure. Thus, for your £2:00 postal order you could only get 19 figures, or just over one WRG infantry battalion. If you wanted to place any sort of decent sized order you either needed to make several trips to the post office in a week during your lunch hour, waiting in the queue every time, or, as I did, made a wide circuit on the way home past as many post offices as possible, buying one in each location. My best effort was five post offices in one day.

I’m sure this will bring back memories (or nightmares) for NZ wargamers of a certain age

As much of a hassle as all this was the arrival of the parcel is where the excitement and enthusiasm that I mentioned at the start of this post came into play. Those new figures would be taken excitedly taken along to “show and tell” sessions at our Friday night games or on club days, whether painted or as raw castings, and this would stir the enthusiasm for projects new and old. 

But here is the thought that brought me to this point. In the late 70s I could type my order, on my manual typewriter, and post it off by airmail to England, with my postal orders. That letter would  take a week to get to Huddersfield, but pretty much exactly three weeks after dropping that letter in the post box a little grey/brown box would arrive in my mail box filled with shiny soldiers. Forty-five years later, with vast improvements to communications, logistics and transport systems,  I fill in an online form and submit it with an electronic payment that is instantly received by the seller, but it takes anywhere from three to six weeks (longer in some instances) to appear on my doorstep.

My lead pile is still flat and I am bored with nothing to paint… can you tell?

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

2nd Hanoverian Uhlans, No 16

The 2nd Hanoverian Uhlans, No 16, was a new regiment, formed after Hanover was annexed by Prussia in 1866. It completes von Barby’s 11th Cavalry Brigade and flattens the lead pile at the same time (apart for a few odds and ends from old projects, for which I cannot summon any enthusiasm at present).

And the brigade…. 

Figures for the three hussar regiments that make up von Redern’s 13th Cavalry Brigade and two horse artillery batteries, the last units to complete the 5th Cavalry Division, are on their way from Nottingham now…industrial action permitting. With their arrival a fresh, although somewhat small, lead pile will be recreated.