Sunday 29 November 2020

Meanwhile somewhere in the USA in the 1860s...

Today we fought a large American Civil War game involving eight player (plus an umpire), 40 Union and 36 Confederate infantry regiments, a handful of cavalry regiments and eight batteries of artillery (all up about 1600 figures and 22 model guns). 

I was far too heavily involved in the game at my end of the table to describe the action elsewhere in any detail other than to say that the Union forces were victorious and that my small division succeeded in turning the Confederate right after an extended fight in the large wooded area in front of me. So after the first couple if shots that show the initial deployments, the rest of the shots below just capture the acrion as it unfolded.

This kept us busy for a good six hours on a showery spring day.

Friday 27 November 2020

The Last of the Paraguayan Cavalry

I have been a little slower at finishing this last Paraguayan unit, another militia regiment, because we went away for a long to Nelson, at the top of the South Island. We had been there a few months ago at the start of our West Coast adventure and decided to head there again to see some of the things that we didn't get to see last time. In the warm and sunny weather we had a couple of superb dinners at local restaurant, visited the Saturday market in the city centre, lay in late reading  books, had lunch at a great little café by the sea in Mapua and picniced on the pebbles at Cable Bay with its stunning blue/green waters (below).

It was only two nights away, but it felt much longer and was just what was needed.

And now for the Paraguayan militia cavalry.

This completes five units of Paraguayan cavalry and probably the last for this collection, so here they are in review...

Five Paraguayan units, the militia on the left and the regulars on the right...

Two Brazilian units...

And two Argentine units.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Argentine Lancers

Today the conveyer belt delivers a freshly uniformed unit of Argentine lancers. This is the second and possibly the final Argentine cavalry unit...that is unless Alan Perry makes some of the more exotic cavalry types.

Following the Argentinians on the conveyer belt are some more Paraguayan militia cavalry, but they are for next week.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Paraguayan Militia Cavalry and a Game

 Fresh out of the uniform store is the first of two Paraguayan militia cavalry units. 

The unit is made up from three different codes: two specific militia packs and the cavalry command pack. This gives a nice variety of figures - nine different figures in a unit of nine. The horses are smaller animals than the regular cavalry and have much simpler furniture. I have deliberately only given a few troopers pennons to increase the variety.

What’s next through the uniform store? A unit of Argentine lancers.

And the game...Today we played a Napoleonic game set in the Peninsula, with an Anglo-Spanish force taking on the French. It was a pretty much scratch game - the original plan was to play a War of 1812 game, but things conspired against us, so I quickly set this one up with three players on each side. Rather than describe the game in detail, I will just report that the French won, but only because two British brigades quit the field at a crucial time and include this bunch of photos.

Saturday 14 November 2020

I have been thinking about woods again...Part 2

After a miserably depressing week at work I was getting to my car to leave on Thursday afternoon when I noted that two of the Pohutukawa trees in front of where was parked had come into bloom. For anyone who lives in New Zealand the appearance of the Pohutukawa blossom is the sign that summer in just around the corner. That flash of red is always an uplifting sight for me.

Since I an happy with the first couple of wood bases discussed in an earlier post I have added a few more.

Some end pieces...

Some angle pieces...

And the first of what will be four more standard blocks...

Then it occurred to me that this is all dreadfully limiting because with this standard sized block woods would always need to either be on the table edge or if placed back to back would be 240mm deep and would assume this basic squareness. So I made some narrower strips that can just back onto a standard block. 

I will makes some shorter pieces like this for the ends and perhaps a couple of odd shapes, just to mix things up a little. The narrow pieces may also be useful along roads and rivers.

I also changed the way the trees will be fastened to the bases by adding a small piece of steel in the hollow of the block and then mounting an 8mm x 3mm Neodymium magnet in the base of the tree.

Because I want to use these blocks universally across a number of theatres I have made some tree stands with palm trees on them. I am thinking particularly of Paraguayan War here.

As I mentioned in Part 1 the original concept of the wood blocks, 30+ years ago, as defensive zones morphed unsatisfactorily into fortresses. I wanted to avoid that this time around so I looked in depth at a number of mid-19th century battles that involved heavy fighting in woods (Skalitz, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, The Wilderness, Spicheren and Froeschwiler being the main ones on which I have good refernces - not an exhaustive sample I know, but representative I think all the same) and it soon became clear that the woods did not make particularly good defensive positions because they do not create significant barriers.

In most cases an attacking force could carry the edge of the wood relatively easily because managing a defensive fighting line along the edge was no easy task - communicating along the line and exerting fire control were the greatest problems. Once fighting was established within woods action became a series of disconnected skirmishes of varying intensity and neither attacker or defender is able gain any real advantage from the cover. Fighting in woods could drag on for hours and the introduction of even small contingents could tip the scale in any fighting. In the words of the British author Colonel Henderson in his book on Spichern, and I am paraphrasing here, that woods are like a filter paper - much goes in but not much of substance comes out. My own analogy is that they are like a sponge and will absorb every that goes near.

So I plan to fight in woods using these guidelines:

Occupying a wood - blocks are broken into two sizes:

  • Small – up to 120mm x 120mm and can be occupied by two tiny units or one larger unit
  • Large – up to 240mm x 120mm and can be occupied by three tiny units or two small units or one larger unit

Concealmenttroops can claim to be on the edge of the wood or back from the edge:

  • If on the edge, they can see out under normal line of sight rules and can fire at any valid target outside the wood
  • If on the edge, they can be identified and fired on by any enemy unit within 300mm
  • If back from the edge they cannot cannot be seen from outside the wood  and cannot fire out
  • If a wood consists of multiple blocks units can see into and fire into adjacent blocks
  • Units entering a wood from the outside will deduct 50mm to enter and are then ruled to be within the block
  • Units moving within a wood move from block to block without restriction

Firing - Woods provide cover from fire for any unit within its boundary but fire is limited to:
  • Two firing dice for every 120mm of wood frontage up to the maximum permitted for the unit(s) size
  • Units must measure the range and arc of fire from the centre of the wood block
  • If a target is not able to be engaged because it is out of  the arc of fire,  fire by a single firing die is permitted 
Close Combat - All troops fight on equal terms unless:
  • Veteran vs Raw
  • Specialist light infantry vs line infantry
  • Woodsmen and natives against other troops.

I want to make it so that there is a high threshold for victory in any combat within the wood so that once you commit to woods fighting, you had better be prepared to stay there all day.