Sunday 31 January 2021

Under the Lily Banners Game

On Friday two of us played a game using the Under the Lily Banners rules sort of set in the 1690s. Eight battalions and French infantry, fourteen squadrons of horse, two squadrons of dragoons and two field guns took on eleven Bavarian infantry battalions ten squadrons of cavalry, two squadrons of dragoons and two field guns. I commanded the Bavarians and Nick the French.

The terrain featured a village on the French edge of the table that was the objective for the Bavarian attack. To the left (from the French perspective) of that was a river that was only able to be crossed at a ford. To the right and forward of the village was a large walled church on the edge of a large dense wood.

We both planned our deployment. I had to deploy one of my brigdaes on the banks of the river and then dice to see which bank they arrived on. Just my luck they arrived on the far bank, so figuring that the best they could do was hold up some of the French, I chose to place the brigade with three raw battalions and one drilled (plus a gun). If they were lost, they probably would not cause me too much grief.

I then chose to deploy a brigade of cavalry on the extreme left, then the guard infantry brigade, then the dragoons. Next was a gun, then the second cavalry brigade and then closing out the line near the river was the other infantry brigade.

Opposite me Nick placed a cavalry brigade facing my cavalry on my left (his right). Then to their left was an infantry brigade then a cavalry brigade. In front of them were the dragoons. In the village and the fields beside it was the second infantry brigade. Finally he posted a cavalry brigade across the river facing my infantry.

The initial deployment, from the French side

Initial deployment from the Bavarian side

Action  started  on the flanks. First, on the Bavarian left, the Maison du Roi charged the Bavarian cuirassiers, who countercharged. 

 But the French got the better of the action and the Cuirassiers routed.

The Maison du Roi squadron then pursued and scattered the cuirassiers. Squadron after squadron of cuirassiers then became victims of this attack until the second Maison squadron drove off the last of all four Bavarian squadrons.

The infantry on the left also engaged, opening a heavy musketry.

On the Bavarian right a squadron of French cavalry advanced threateningly, but a burst of roundshot quickly changed their minds.

A second squadron attempted to charge the only drilled battalion on this flank, but a close range volley held them at bay.

Things on the Bavarian left got progressively worse as the Maison du Roi piled into the flank of the Bavarian guard infantry. Luckily for me the Guard battalions fought back well and were able to fall back while the Maison squadrons exhausted themselves and eventually dissolved. But that didn’t stop a second French regiment from pitching in.

But help was at hand for the Bavarians as five squadrons from the center of the line approached. Soon the area was a mass of swirling horse flesh, but the left began to stabilise.

The French cavalry attack had been repulsed, but the Bavarian left was in tatters.

Here the game ended. A draw, with a French favour, since the Bavarians were not going to achieve their objective.

To finish out the post, here are a bunch of additional images, in no particular order, from the day.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

They just keep coming...

 ...Paraguayans that is.

A second battalion in this batch rolls off the production line.

Again these are in the newer marching/advancing poses, with a higher proportion of the boys wearing the chiripa.

On the painting table  now is a battalion of some Brazilian infantry in white tropical kit.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Fresh Paraguayan Recruits

just realised that I hadn’t posted for a few days…well a couple of weeks actually. 

It’s not that I haven’t been working on anything, its just that I have been fluttering about on a number of projects and there hasn’t been much to show because everything is in various stages of completion.

What I have completed though is this unit of Paraguayan infantry. These are from the new codes in the marching and advancing poses that the Perrys released towards the end of 2020, and very nice sets they are too, with even more character and variety than the firing posed sets.

In order to get a truly random mix in the units I put all of the rank and file figures in a box and pulled out 15 figures. Then adding a similarly randomised selection of command figures I created the battalions.

This is number one of four battalions in this batch and number seven of the collection. 

Next up, some more Paraguayans then back to the boys from Brazil.

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Back to Brazil

Arriving just before Christmas this unit had to wait until all the festivities were over and the painting table was properly re-established.

This is the third battalion of the Boys from Brazil this time in broad brimmed hat and in khaki fatigues, which makes it the third battalion and a third uniform variant.

I have another broad brimmed hat battalion waiting in their boxes, which will probably be done in more of a regulation uniform – maybe with a few trouser variants. 

Still more Brazilian troops are waiting to be done, but they need some reinforcements to bring the battalions up to their full establishment and that may be delayed by the increased COVID-19 restrictions now imposed in the UK.

Sunday 3 January 2021

First Game for 2021

 On New Year’s Day Nick and I played a game to try out “Under the Lily Banners” rules.

We played a scenario “A Knock at the Door” one of three from the 4Play wargaming scenarios booklet “The Baby Wore Red” the  Battle of Walcourt August 27th 1689. The scenario sees four Anglo/Dutch battalions and a field gun formed outside the walled town of Walcourt, while three small German units deployed within the town. The walls of the town were in poor repair and not rated as fortifications, merely hard cover. Opposing the Anglo/Dutch was a French force of eight battalions.

Both commanders were rated as plodders that made activation of our units difficult.

The initial deployment, French on the left, the English in the distance
The French deployment 
Walcourt and its defenders

Both of us rolled badly to activate our units (a situation that would plague me for the whole game), but after a couple of turns our lead units managed to shuffle into range of each other. The first fire did minor damage to both our units.

But next move the French plodder plodded slightly better than the English plodder and the French managed to bring the fire of two battalions to bear against one. The English suffered heavy losses and became shaken.

The English battalion was able to recover and I was able to bring more units into the line and the fire fight continued.

Meanwhile the French right wing advanced against the town.

The positions at the height of the action, about the time we broke for lunch

Soon the French numbers began to tell (assisted by my inability to roll well enough for activation to move more that one unit a turn) and the extreme right English battalion routed.

Then the French had their turn of running away, with two units routing and one retreating (sadly I have no pictures of that) but it didn’t take long for the rot set in and a second English unit took to its heals, then a third was destroyed on a combat.

Around the same time the French broke into the town.

Entry to the town was the key victory condition fir the French...not that it really mattered since three-quarters of my army was in rout or destroyed. 

The table at the conclusion of the game

So how did the rules work out? Pretty good. We made a few errors, but they worked really well and captured the feel of the age. All in all a good way to spend a few hours on a hot summer’s day.

Friday 1 January 2021

Happy New Year!

If a picture paints a thousand words, I reckon that graphic says it all. I am sure most of the globe is glad to see the back of 2020. The outlook for the start of the New Year may look grim, but the one thing we can be sure of is that the sun will rise again.

It is certainly not a year I want to repeat in a hurry. Here in New Zealand we plunged into a hard lockdown early in the pandemic and we shut the thing down, but tourism, one of our major sources of income, is in tatters. My work is in aviation an industry that has been utterly hammered. My employer reduced flying at one point by 95% of the schedule and 40% of the staff - many of whom I counted as colleagues and friends of twenty years - were laid off. We had a long overdue visit family in  Canada planned for August and that was quickly kicked to the curb as borders closed.

In late July we heard the sad news that a friend of ours had taken his life - we still don’t know why and never will. Days later, after more than 100 days without community spread, the virus reared its head again and we had a regional lockdown imposed that limited attendance at funerals to ten and we were denied the opportunity to celebrate his life. Then in October her indoors suffered a medical event that caused serious concern - thankfully she is well on the way to recovery now.

All that said, there have been moments of brightness in this dark year. Having eliminated community spread we are enjoying a level of freedom not seen in many other countries, including the ability for face-to-face gaming, open restaurants, theatres and bars, sports events and othe large gatherings and unrestricted domestic travel - something we have taken full advantage of with three wonderful short trips in the latter half of the year to parts of the country not previously visited. Thus far the economic damage has been less than forecast and the only two restrictions imposed on us now are the closure of our borders and mandatory mask wearing on public transport. But we can ill-afford to be complacent since a single slip up at the border could undo all our collective effort - fingers crossed that we can continue to keep this insidious thing at bay.

For me the highlight of the year was our highly anticipated annual wargames week away. This is perhaps the only time in the year that I get to totally relax and while it was a truncated event for me it still provided a few days of peace in these turbulent and stressful times.

Looking back at my gaming year, as I do at this time every year, it shows a downturn across all areas of activity. 

In terms of numbers of games I played a total of nineteen, down five on last year, but there was a good range across thirteen eras: 5x Napoleonic games, 2x American Civil War, 2x Dark Ages and 1 each of 100 Years War, War of Spanish Succession, Spanish Civil War, Modern Afghanistan, English Civil War, First Carlist War, WWI 1918, Crimean War, Western Gunfighters and War of 1812.

My scratch building efforts have been dramatically reduced, with just four small buildings for the Paraguayan War and, of course, my woods bases and swamps. Could it be that I am reaching the point where I have buildings and terrain items to cover all my gaming periods? I think not...more exciting scratch building activities are waiting in the wings and will develop next year.

On the painting front although the item count is still a respectable 1,100 plus items activity has been the lowest since 2015 and down 34% over last year. In part this is because of the strain that COVID-19 has put on international mail services, but largely because I have reduced the number of projects I am working on. While our economy has not crashed as predicted I think I have just subconsciously cut back expenditure. So what did come off the painting table this year?

There have only been two major projects: the American Civil War and Great Paraguayan War. I managed to add another demi-brigade to the French Revolutionary army and painted up half a dozen American War of Independence British figures that had been laying around. The remainder of the painting work this year was accounted for in the Crimean War expansions that were required for the game played at the Tarawera game in late-November. In detail the statistics are:

By item count there were 920 foot figures, 140 mounted figures, 7 guns and 80 scratch built items. 

As a comparison the following table shows progress for the last seven years.

So as the new year starts here’s hope for a brighter year, new projects with shiny new toys and great games. HAPPY NEW YEAR and stay safe.