So the year draws to an end and the last blog post of the year is prepared. I’ve rather enjoyed the discipline of at least one post a month so I think I’ll continue the process into 2023. The idea of entering the world of YouTube posts has been discussed but I’m not sure if I’ve got the patience for it. Anyway….
First up was an ‘away game’ set vaguely on the North West Frontier, featuring, British, Russians and local Afghan tribesmen. The rules were Fistfull of Lead Bigger Battles so any relation to historical reality was purely coincidental but a fine time was had by all.
In brief, the British sorted out the Russian armoured cars, the Cossacks kept well out of the way, the Afghan tribes sneaked about and then launched a savage attack on the British and cut them down, dispatches were sent to the Queen covering up the disaster 😄
Back at base we had another run at the Indochina game, mainly because the table was still set up from November.
This time the Foreign Legion managed to deliver to both camps and see off the Viet Minh attacks with some losses but not anywhere near as heavy as those the VM suffered.
Next up was our Successors game previously reported on so nothing else to say really.
Next was a return to one of our neglected periods, the French Indian Wars.
What started out as a single evening game turned into a double header; the original scenario of Indians and Coureur de Bois raiding settlements and making an attempt on the British outpost generated another scenario of Rogers Rangers raiding the Indian village to rescue captives taken in the first game.
We had a ton of fun with both games; both featured some early sneaking about and then fast and furious action where those with woodland skills came off far better than those without.
Next up was the valiant defence at a local ruined temple by the fine individuals of the French Foreign Legion in another re visit of a neglected period.
This is a period for which we have never quite found the rules which give us what we want and this game was played with yet another set that one of the guys had found at the back of a drawer, or something like that 😅
Great fun was had, well only if you were the Legion shooting down tribesmen 🤣, but the quest for THE set of rules continues. I am firmly resisting hints that I should write another set.
In the spirit of utilising existing terrain layouts a quick shuffle of the Foreign Legion game gave us a modern middle east game for our vaguely connected scenarios featuring elusive insurgent groups, contractors, special forces and MENA elements.
For this one our elusive insurgent commander, Mehan Asnik, was meeting an arms dealer near a ruined temple to exchange gold for technology. Asnik bought along a single squad of militia and the arms dealer had his own contractors for close protection, little did they know that two troops of SAS had been dispatched to break up the party.
The SAS spent the early turns getting into position as an unknown (to them) clock wound down for the deal to be completed. By pure chance a militiaman spotted one of the SAS fire teams and opened up – big mistake!
The ensuing gunfight over the next few turns massively favoured the SAS, they were in cover, they were better shots and the enemy were generally in the open reacting to fire.
To be honest we had seriously forgotten how powerful Elite troops can be under the Spectre Operations V2 rules; two troops was way too much fire power, a better game would have been one troop split into two sections and those sections breaking down into fire teams as the game progressed. We had a lot of fun but it was very one sided.
Asnik however, did survive the fight and so our storyline can continue……
Our final game of the year was another Successors game, this time using armies from a little later in the time frame; Antigonid Macedonian v Imperial Seleucid.
In theory the game favoured the Seleucids, better class pike and cavalry but the more numerous (albeit varied) Antigonids more than held their own in a tough battle.
So, the year has closed and we have retired to our camps to contemplate another year of military recreation using miniatures. No major projects are on the horizon; Dave is tinkering with an El Cid set up and I’m going to get back on the Iran Iraq 10mm project while a group of us are kicking of a joint Mexican Revolution project for a series of linked semi skirmish games. All that remains to be said then is Happy New Year and keep on rolling.
Wow, September has been and gone! Holidays and building work reduced our meeting schedule so only three games this month and precious little done on the painting/modelling front.
The month kicked off with a Carlist Wars game at the Bunker and for the first time in 3 years we had everyone present 😁
The game was fictional and involved a surprise attack by the Carlists on the Liberals camp unaware that more Liberal troops were on their way.
The encamped troops were the ‘good’ troops being the Foreign Legion and the British Legion. Light companies were deployed forward of the position and visibility was restricted in the opening moves to simulate the dawn breaking. Once the first shots were fired (basically the Carlists running into the light troops) each battalion would dice for how many turns until it marched out from the camps. The Liberal reinforcements were pre programmed to arrive on the road emerging from the woods on the right flank but nobody knew when.
The Carlists duly bumped into the lights and the game was on! The lights fell back and the Carlists pushed on as quick as they could but some good dice rolls saw the Government troops spilling out of their tents and forming up on the left flank and behind the blockhouse.
In short, the Carlist attack on their right faltered in the face of the speedy deployment and eventually ground to a halt facing the tents. In the centre the Carlists did much better, sweeping away the opposition, isolating the blockhouse (which did prove to be a nuisance) and cutting the road. The left made hard work of the terrain and light opposition which meant it wasn’t in quite the best position when the reinforcements arrived.
When the reinforcements arrived (which was essentially the main army) the game took on a new dimension as they struggled to get off the road as it exited the woods quick enough to be in the right shape to fight. Both sides used spoiler cavalry attacks to prevent troops deploying and the cavalry even got to fight each other! The really bloody fighting was when the attack columns of both sides got stuck in around the ever expanding Government bridgehead.
Ultimately the Government were able to push out from the woods, despite some serious losses – the Guards cavalry regiments were practically destroyed and move across the back of their lines.
By late afternoon (our time) we decided to call it through sheer exhaustion 🤣 and declared a Government victory – this was not without some debate, the Carlists rightly claimed they had split the Government forces in half by occupying the centre but as the game organiser pointed out the objective was to overrun the camps before the reinforcements properly deployed and, because of the failure on the right, they hadn’t, so victory to the Government.
Our next game was another from the Successor project, this time the Imperial army of Perdiccas (so all the good stuff 😀) against one of the western satraps, Attalus.
The Imperials deployed four blocks of pike split evenly by an elephant centre with each pair combining a veteran block with a levy block; the left of the line was anchored on the Hypaspists and the right wing comprised all the companion cavalry.
The Satrapal forces were more numerous so overlapped their opponents but were not of the same class; they deployed with their cavalry on the right with a very clear plan of riding round the slow enemy infantry and striking the rear and/or looting the camp while the infantry, comprising two pike blocks and two hoplite blocks alternating with units of peltasts screened by psiloi, advanced to pin the opposition.
Once the armies were deployed Perdiccas realised the enemy plan and set about sending his elite cavalry galloping across the rear lines in a race against time 🙄. Other than that both sides commenced their advance.
The early action all took place on the Satrapal right where their cunning plan came unstuck because the Hypaspists got out in front of the pikes and basically got in the way 😏. A couple of javelin volleys pinned the lead cavalry which road blocked the others and once that was sorted out the only way forward was through the Hypapists and that didn’t work out so well 😢.
Ultimately the action resolved itself with the Satrapal cavalry either destroyed or fleeing and Attalus dying leading his companions in an all or nothing charge against the lately arriving Imperial companions.
On the other flank of the Satrapal army events were more in their favour, the clash of pikes saw one of the Imperial levied pikes flee the field with their opponent in pursuit and while the Imperial veteran pikes crushed a peltast unit they soon found themselves being circled by the hoplites and remaining pike.
The centre was a bit of a non event with the other two Imperial pike units being harassed by Satrap light cavalry for most of the game and the elephants facing off to the peltasts. Ultimately the light horse retired, which did leave the Satrap camp vulnerable but at least the peltasts killed an elephant.
The death of Attalus rather sealed it for the Satrap forces and so we called it.
Our final game was a sweeping cavalry encounter featuring the C14th forces of Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh an encounter facilitated by the slow repurposing of some really old figures from our Mongol, Russian and Mamluk armies of yesteryear and slogging away at a stupid metal mountain that accumulated when we had more money than sense.
The field was mainly open with 2 low hills with a wooded valley between on one flank and a lone hill skirted by trees on the other. Both commanders occupied the hills in their deployment area with their guards. The numerically inferior but qualitifly superior Timurids deployed their allied White Sheep Turks on the right with orders to infiltrate through the wooded valley, unfortunately the Horde allied Cumans had the same order and so the battle for these commands was a disorganised exchange of arrows that finally saw the Cumans retreat.
The centre of the Timurid line was 2 commands of heavy cavalry screened by lights and supported by elephants, the left was a similarly formed command behind the stream. The Horde had 4 commands in the centre, one was purely skirmish horse , one was allied Russian cavalry and two were Mongol heavy cavalry – everyone except the Russians were bow armed and the Timurids were generally better armoured than the Horde.
Tamerlane realised as soon as deployment was complete that his centre was in danger of being overwhelmed so he committed the Guard early and that diverted the Russian Boyars in his direction. The bow fire dissuaded the lead Boyar unit and then the hand to hand favoured the Guard – better armoured and better morale, end result was the termination of the Russian command (with extreme prejudice 😂)
The more even centre fight then saw both sides shooting bows for all they were worth and then exchanging blows. The Horde did manage a break through and one unit galloped off in pursuit of it’s opponent but overall the fight favoured the Timurids and the arrival of the force from over the stream tipped the balance; victory to the Timurids.
In terms of stuff done, one of the guys painted up some striking pieces for the Successors project with a kind of Ptolemaic/Egyptian Pharaoh vibe. Could also be used in a fantasy setting?
Also another Italian Wars condottierre unit got done along with a couple of command stands, all from existing stuff that just hadn’t been got round to.
A few more random desert terrain clutter items got completed, suitable for any of our middle east modern skirmishes, or the Foreign Legion, desert WWII or even the Successors.
Well another month over and, given the amount of time we have, fairly lean pickings in terms of games done. We had a chat about it and can’t really put our finger on the why; age, lack of enthusiasm, other stuff getting in the way, too many periods; it could be any, all or none of these, certainly we have collections that are perhaps seeing the light of day once a year – the Timurids, the GNW, Dark Age, Sikh Wars, and some that haven’t been out all year – most of the modern skirmish, the ACW, the Byzantines, 3 Musketeers. Slimming down the collections has started but then the Successors is brand new so….
Anyway, that’s it for the month. Next month is Partizan so maybe we’ll see folks there.
And so a refight of Bicocca was born, narrowly missing the 500 year anniversary. This is the battle that is anecdotally used as an illustration of what a liability Swiss mercenaries were, for it is here that they demanded a battle be fought or they would go home!
The history is as follows. In the campaign season of 1521 the French under Odet de Foix, the Marshal Lautrec, were expelled from the Duchy of Milan by the Imperialists under Prosper Colonna. In the spring of 1522 Lautrec was reinforced by 16,000 Swiss and resumed the offensive, taking Novarra and besieging Pavia; Colonna took up a strong position at Certosa which Lautrec decided against attacking, opting instead to starve Colonna out. Great strategy but then the Swiss went and spoilt it by demanding their back pay (there was none😮) or battle the next day, the reasoning being that loot would be to hand after a victory. Lautrec had no choice but to agree and march on the Imperialists who had now moved to the fortified park of Bicocca where they was joined by Francesco Sforza of Milan with reinforcements.
The French deployed with 8,000 Swiss front and centre screened by some 3,000 Italian foot arquebusiers & 300 mounted arquebusiers under Giovanni del Medici (the ‘Black Bands’), the Duke of Montmorency notionally commanded the Swiss. Behind this were the French guns being dragged forward and behind them some 6,000 crossbowmen under Pedro Navarro flanked by companies of Gendarmes & Archers under such luminaries as, the Chevalier Bayard, the Duke of Lescun, and the Duke of Ponteformy. Out on the right flank was a mercenary condottiere force under the Duke of Urbino representing Venice.
Inside the park the Imperialists sat and waited. The park was bounded by high walls with an entrance over a bridge in the eastern wall which was covered by Sforza’s contingent from the outside of the park and the west nestled against a marsh, but the most daunting aspect of the position was the sunken road that ran in front of the park directly opposite the French line of advance. The Imperialists lined the wall overlooking the sunken road with Spanish arquebusiers and artillery and behind them some 2,000 Spanish pike and around 8,000 Landsknechts under Georg von Frundsberg; the back of the park had several hundred Spanish & Italian men at arms under Antonio de Leyva in case there were any break throughs. Out in front of the road were around 1,000 Spanish Genitors detailed to be a nuisance.
The original French plan called for Medici to clear away the Genitors which would allow the artillery to move close enough to deploy and batter down the ramparts, engineers under Navarro would then fill the ditches and the Swiss would attack. Out on the flanks, Urbino would turn the Spanish left (they obviously didn’t know about the marsh or had no time to scout forward) and Lescun would lead the Gendarme companies in an attack that would drive off Sforza and break into the camp via the gate. None of this went well at all 😧; as soon as the Genitors were driven off the Swiss ignored Monmorency’s order to halt and continued on to the Imperialist position where they came under artillery fire and then sustained harquebus fire which caused heavy casualties but being Swiss they just shrugged it off. At the sunken road the impossibility of the task became apparent, once they had jumped down into the road the Swiss found that the height to the Imperialists above them was as tall as their pikes! So with all formation lost (the famous Swiss column was no use here) the Swiss floundered around at the mercy of the enemy arquebusiers and the few that did gain a foothold were soon thrown back. After about an hour of this the Swiss gave up and marched back leaving half their number behind, dead or wounded. Elsewhere, Urbino made a half hearted attempt at the marsh and then gave up but Lescun did actually managed to get over the bridge and into the camp but de Leyva showed him the exit.
How to refight a battle that shouldn’t actually have been fought? Firstly did we have the numbers? This is a big battle and even at the 1:50 ratio we use in our rules it was still going to be a stretch, so rather than beat ourselves up about it we went for representation by block. We had 4 Swiss pike columns so that was our base line; the Spanish colunellas we easily matched and our 4 Landsknecht blocks matched the Swiss, the Gendarmes/Archers were an exact match to the numbers along with Medici’s Black Band and the Italian and Spanish cavalry, the various supporting cast crossbowmen and pikemen (French and Italian) were slightly under represented but they did nothing in the real battle and did nothing in the game! The big task was the park of Bicocca; the size we just built around the deployment of the Imperialist force which in itself was based on the contemporary maps that are available but a sunken road on a 2D table is a challenge; after a bit of thought we opted for sections of Last Valley road with a wall running along one side (the Imperialist) and a hedge the other thus guaranteeing cover and advantage of ground for the Imperialist arquebusiers and ‘double disorder’ for the advancing Swiss. Our next problem was the Swiss; no self respecting wargamer is going to do what they did (well we would because its history so why wouldn’t we?) so we amended the command rules slightly so that the Swiss would be forced to advance unless the general used command points to actively stop them – in the rules each commander has command points reflecting his historical performance (or at least our interpretation of such) and uses these to move his troops but Gendarmes need points to NOT move (reflecting their lack of discipline) so we just widened this category to include the Swiss – Monmorency was a 2 so even if he did spend his points at least 2 Swiss would be on the move and then co-ordination would really be lost!
So how went the refight? The early moves were much like the real thing, just a bit less well co-ordinated. In the centre the Swiss trundled forward as Medici took on the Genitors which took a while longer than history, this wasn’t due to the Genitors being particularly effective (they weren’t) but due to the fire coming from the park which at one point halted the foot arquebusiers who the Swiss just marched right through 😂. Eventually the Genitors were cleared out and Medici headed his force towards the left side of the park (seen from the French side) to try and keep the defenders occupied while the Swiss attacked on the right.
On the French right, Urbino decided to use his points to get his crossbowmen forward to maybe shoot the Swiss attack in by clearing the Imperial skirmishers out from where they had jumped into the sunken road which they were using as a trench (sneaky!) – in the long run this kind of worked in that the skirmishers in front of the manor house were eliminated but it didn’t do much to help the Swiss. On the French left, Lescun duly advanced but Sforza decided to come and meet him and use his crossbowmen to wear down the Gendarmes – it took a while for Sforza to convince his mercenaries to get moving and their firepower wasn’t that effective but they did managed to kill Ponteformy which stopped his company (rules note, no Captain, no move).
But it was the centre that mattered. The Swiss skirmishers soaked up most of the Imperialist fire and frankly it wasn’t that good (sometimes the dice gods just don’t smile on you) but one Swiss column lost its captain and so was stood waiting for Montmorency to come over and appoint a new captain (rules note, replacement captains have to be appointed by a command figure joining the unit). Eventually however the Imperial skirmishers were cleared out of the road and the Swiss started to climb in.
Despite their disorder two of the Swiss ‘charged’ their opponents at the wall. One column overran the guns it was facing and ploughed on into the park, the other was stopped briefly by one of the Spanish harquebus colunellas but then they routed with heavy losses. The problem for the Imperial player in this was when and how to commit his pike although in these two examples it didn’t matter too much, the Swiss who overran the guns then ran straight into Frundsberg’s veteran Landsknechts who held and then inexorably pushed the Swiss back into the road and the other ran into von Sickingen’s Landsknechts who scattered with the loss of their captain after a couple of rounds of melee.
The other two Swiss were a little tardy, one was the one that had to wait for Montmorency but once it had it’s new captain it too was over the wall and into Frundsbergs block – normally this would have finished the Landsknechts but the lack of ranks the Swiss could count plus their disorder and the fact that they hit Frundsberg as he was pushing back the other column meant that his momentum trumped their ‘charge’ and they were stopped. The 4th block had taken the more serious losses from fire and so as it assaulted the walls it had already lost supporting ranks and was held at the wall for two embarrassing turns of melee by a harquebus colunella; once they had seen off the the arquebusiers they were then charged by one of the Spanish pike colunellas and held.
The pike blocks were now locked in combat; both sides tried to use their forlorn hopes to turn the tide but they largely cancelled each other out (the rules allow bases of halberdiers/sword & buckler men to issue out from the blocks). The deciding moment was when the 2nd Spanish colunella managed to align itself on the flank of the Swiss that had seen off von Sickingen, there was no need to fight that out, those Swiss were done and knew it and so fell back. It was over for the Swiss, so near but so far.
We could have played it on for several more turns but the result was always going to be the same, the Swiss, disordered and lacking effective supporting ranks, had just not been able to punch an immediate hole and follow on.
On the flanks it was all a bit of a non event; Urbino performed much as history and was defeated by the terrain, Lescun actually did worse than history, being held by Sforza long enough for him to be unable to make any difference.
The performance of the Swiss in actually getting into the park was pleasing given the historical impossibility of it happening and we had some tense moments as we rolled for the pike melee’s. All in all a good scrap and a lesson in what not to do either historically or in recreation 😊
Family holidays and house moves derailed hobby time a bit but still managed to get some games in.
First up was another Successors game in the steadily expanding project. The game went well, which means the rules played out with no major glitches, and we enjoyed the day. High points were the much vaunted Galatians failing to charge – oh how I laughed 😅, elephants dying and the Silver Shields ploughing through their opponents.
Next was our day game of re-fighting Lobositz using our SYW collections. I’ve already posted a blog on the actual game so wont bore people with another battle report, suffice to say we had a hell of a game and history was reversed.
As a change of pace, and because we were unable to do day games due to Dave’s shift pattern, we opted for a dark age skirmish game with one group of Vikings raiding another.
Just having a couple of bands apiece was a nice change and a bit of a challenge. The rules were our own and we added in a couple of ‘add ons’ like guard dogs scenting the invaders and whether they barked or attacked to spice the game up.
Overall it played well and lots of fun was had. Despite the surprise of the early dawn attack the dogs did bark (a lot!) and the attackers were sent packing with heavy losses although the settlement was going to need a new sub leader.
Another skirmish game was next, this time a return to Afghanistan, which we hadn’t gamed for a while.
Our basic scenario was a US marines column called in to escort a pair of Taliban prisoners who had been snatched by a special forces team. The idea was that the prisoners had important intel but bad weather had grounded the helicopters so the SF team were waiting at a deserted wadi for transport. The Taliban were about (otherwise it wouldn’t be a game!) and their 3 groups were given several start point options on the board before knowing what direction the convoy would come from.
The Taliban chose a dry river bed that led to the wadi from the south, a set of ancient ruins on a hill to the south east, a clump of rocky scrub to the north east and a medieval tower to the north of the scrub where they deployed their mortar. The convoy came on from the east which put it between two enemy groups.
As the convoy roared on the Taliban opened up with the mortar and missed the lead Humvee but this revealed their position and the Cougar opened up with the auto grenade launcher and took out the mortar and it’s team.
General firing then erupted as the two eastern Taliban groups tried to stop the Humvees and the lead Humvee crashed off the road – we realised afterwards we had made the Humvees too vulnerable, classing them as the soft skins of the earlier part of the invasion rather than the later better armoured versions.
The game then developed into a running firefight as the marines exited the vehicles to return fire and got the remaining Humvee to the extraction point. The SF operator watching the wadi spotted the Taliban there and shot them up enough to suppress them but the Cougar was disabled by RPG fire. However the bad weather lifted and the marine lieutenant managed to get an Apache on line which made mincemeat of the south eastern Taliban as they crossed the open ground from the ruins. The americans might just pull this off.
At the wadi the prisoners were bundled into the Humvee and headed out but as the SF operators waved it off and faded into the country the one remaining Taliban group zeroed in and blew up the Humvee killing the prisoners and crew. Total disaster!
We had a bit of a post game review after as the game had seemed a bit one sided. The rules are Spectre Operations V2 which we’ve grown to like and feel familiar with but sometimes (like the Humvees) we do make rookie errors; the problem we agreed was in the scenario, a dozen marines against around thirty Taliban was always going to be a stretch especially as the marines were confined to the moving metal boxes, I think we just got excited about getting this collection back on the table after a long absence 😃
Our final game of the month was an exercise in expediency; I had just come back off holiday so no time to organise something, but the desert mat from the last game was still out so Dave was detailed to bring round his Western Desert WWII Italians & LRDG.
The game was simple enough, an Italian supply convoy comprising a fuel truck and two lorries of supplies guarded by two Ethiopian squads escorted by a couple of tankettes and two armoured lorries carrying an Italian squad, had to enter by the eastern road and exit by the north western road. Three troops of LRDG started the game in ambush positions, objective; don’t let the supplies get through.
The game played well and was quite exciting. As the column entered the table, 3rd troop opened fire and disabled one truck but the return fire from the Italians in the armoured lorries downed the British Bren gunner. The Ethiopians also debussed and engaged in a lively small arms fight with 3rd troop.
The column quickly became a confused ants nest as 1st troop charged out from concealment in their Bren gun carriers and the Italians and Ethiopians got out of their vehicles to return fire to their north and south.
The charge of the Bren gun carriers wasn’t quite the success the British player had been hoping for; helped by the sustained smg fire of the two Italian officers who sprang from their kubelwagen, the Italians stopped the carriers and 1st troop ended up ‘circling the wagons’ 😅
As the two firefights raged on the tankettes finally arrived (better late than never) and were directed towards the positions of 3rd troop who quickly succumbed to the weight of heavy machine gun fire and with most of the troop down wounded, surrendered.
Where were 2nd troop in all this mayhem I hear you ask? Well they were dicking around in the wadi or “finding a suitable firing position” as the British player asserted 😂 although this was of no use to the beleaguered 1st & 3rd troops.
Back at the main fight the Italian Captain came up with a cunning plan to escort the fuel truck out of the firefight in his kubelwagen and leaving the troops to cover him thus saving the fuel and his reputation! Unfortunately 2nd troop had finally found their “suitable firing position” and in a fusillade of fire knocked out the truck.
Unfortunately for the LRDG platoon as a whole though things weren’t going too well; 3rd troop were being escorted back to the trucks by one of the Ethiopian squads, thus freeing the tankettes for further duties, while the other Ethiopian squad climbed the high ground that overlooked 1st troop and began to fire down into the already reduced troop. Added to this the Italian lieutenant, who had stayed behind with his men while the captain bravely tried to fulfil the mission (well that’s what the official report said 🙄), had rallied the squad and were advancing on 1st troop.
At that point we called it. Yes the fuel truck was stopped (but not destroyed) and so was one of the supply trucks but all the Italians were still in the game and two of the LRDG were not so we rationalised that 2nd troop would fall back while the Italians repaired the vehicles and carried on. So nearly a success.
In other news, I went to Games Expo early in the month. This was my 4th visit after a pause in 2020 & 2021 and was great fun. By no stretch of the imagination can this be called a wargames show, yes people like, Bad Squiddo, Black Scorpion, Iron Gate, Rubicon, Second Thunder and Crooked Dice are there and obviously Games Workshop, but that is a drop in an ocean of around 400 exhibitors and you can almost taste the enthusiasm . The main offerings are in the realms of board gaming, collectable card gaming and the myriad of versions of ‘role playing games’, but that doesn’t make it unattractive to the wargamer with a broad view of the hobby. Every year I’ve been I’ve played a wide variety of sample games and enjoyed every one of them but except for one have never played them again but this is a big part of the event, many of the exhibitors have games running to market their product which you can just rock up to and take part or in some cases wait to take part, and it’s such fun. There are also a significant number of stands selling ‘clutter’ mainly for the RPG/fantasy skirmish market but every time I’ve been I’ve picked up stuff that I can use in ‘proper’ wargaming and if the the fantasy end of wargaming is your thing (Frostgrave and the suchlike) then there is a whole load of 3D printed figures out there for fledgling games that can easily be utilised as well as barbarian types for Viking skirmish games. What did strike me this year was the shear volume of 3D printed models in all scales and how that is going to revolutionise our small corner of the gaming hobby, the days of metal casts is nearing its end.
On the painting/modelling front it’s been a lean month; various items of clutter that have been sitting in boxes for years have got done, so more stuff to hide behind.
A little bit of extra was added to the gunfight collection
And some 10mm terrain was done for the Iran Iraq project which is now involving me in trying to understand the difference between a tank battalion and a tank regiment (or a company, or a troop, or a squadron 🤯) and how many tanks there are in each and how that scales down using Cold War Commander.
That’s it for now, July should see an Iraqi tank battalion done and some more Successors based up, oh and the Devizes Show – first time ever!
A busy month, we got 7 games in and attended Partizan so pretty pleased with ourselves 😀
First up was two games set in Indochina; the first was using the new Mourir Pour L’Indochine rules, which didn’t prove to be too successful (see previous blog) and the second using adaptations of our own WWII rules. It was a shame the commercial rules didn’t work for us as it would have saved a whole lot of work but on the upside it has spurred me on to write a ‘proper’ set rather than notes tucked into various pages of the WWII rules 😂
Next we had another playthrough of our, in progress, ancients rules for the Successors project; the game was an enjoyable clash between a Eumenid army and an Antigonid featuring rampaging elephants, dying elephants and pushes of pike and the rules are playing well, which is pleasing.
Mid way through the month we had a dry run of our Carlist game for Partizan which made us rethink a couple of our assumptions about the game; the biggest assumption of course was that we’d have time to play the game through on the day 😂🤣
Post Partizan we ‘relaxed’ into a WWII skirmish, Americans in France advancing on an ‘undefended’ bridge by a small hamlet. Needless to say the hamlet was defended (1 squad plus an augmented HQ squad) and the platoon of GI’s (3 squads + HQ + weapons) struggled to make progress.
In fact the game was a classic example of not concentrating and could have been used as a training video 😃 The American player roared up the road with his column not taking any time to reconnoitre the bocage or probe the hamlet buildings their side of the bridge. Result? A Panzerschreck took out the lead half track and it remained a burning wreck for the rest of the game, effectively blocking the road; the squad inside it rendered useless – by game end half had succumbed to their wounds and the other half were grateful for the fall of night.
After that wake up call the rest of the platoon got their other vehicles off the road where they could and debussed trying to get around both flanks of the hamlet. The Panzerschreck team were disposed of (a bit late!) and the American player skilfully used the command Dodge as mobile cover for the HQ squad while the 2nd half track used it’s .50 cal to give support fire for its squad.
However, the Germans had utilised their meagre resources well; a machine gun team hidden in a wrecked Sd.Kfz. 251 cut down a number of the HQ squad until it was itself silenced and a Panzerfaust brewed up the Dodge. An emplaced heavy machine swept the main road and forced the GI’s off into a mine field – where none of the mines exploded!😞 and a sniper took down the .50 cal gunner.
By nightfall the GI’s were up to the hamlet buildings but the defenders were still securely in place so we judged the Americans would fall back and call for armour support. We did have a vague plan to play out that scenario but reckoned a game with a Sherman pounding various buildings wouldn’t be much fun.
The upside to the game was that we got to use the two new Grand Manner resins we bought and painted up.
Our next foray was a French Indian Wars adventure which we haven’t done for well over a year. This particular game was a raid by a couple of bands of Indian tribesmen on a settlement just as the local trader turns up and a trio of frontiersmen (and their dog) stop by to exchange news.
The Indian bands did a good job of getting close to the settlement but good old Blue, the faithful hound, sniffs a change in the wind and alerts his masters – lots of barking (actually a random die roll set against distance). Now we had a game 😮
The first casualty was poor old Blue with an arrow in the throat 😢 and then the action kicked off. The Indians took some early losses to fire from the frontiersmen as the settlers scattered for their cabins but three frontiersmen against around eight braves was a tall order.
The fight then became increasingly desperate; Trader John was dropped by the cooking fire and was quickly followed by Ma & Pa Adams as the Indians moved into the settlement, hatchets ready.
A couple of more losses to the settlers saw them fail their morale and lock themselves away in their cabins saving the last musket ball for themselves. The frontiersmen got stuck in with musket butts and hatchets and gave a good account of themselves but it was going to be a close run thing.
With the death of their leader one of the Indian bands broke for the trees but the frontiersmen were now down to two and the other Indian band was unhurt so with a heavy heart they faded away, the cries of the victorious Indians ringing in their ears and over that the single musket shots telling them the fate of the remaining settlers 😧
Our final game of the month was a 6mm Arab Israeli game. One of our occasional players blew the dust off his long buried away collection and bought it over to trial the recently released Cold War Commander V2 which I picked up at Partizan. We have no plan to do 6mm or Arab Israeli but we have been toying with the idea of doing the 80’s Iran Iraq war in 10mm, hence the buying of the rules.
We played a very basic game to get a handle on the rules and that worked well with no problems being experienced. I did learn that Centurions completely out class T54’s!
With all this gaming going on did any project work get done? Well yes. The main distraction was the proposed 10mm Iran Iraq project; a lot of reading of the Helion books and the Cold War Commander rules, then some actual models purchased from Red3 and painted up – my first go at this scale. Once we’ve made a bit of progress I’ll do a separate blog post on it.
In other news, another unit of Timurids were completed along with some civilian additions to the western gunfight and the stagecoach was finished. Some more vehicles for the Syrian moderns adventure were also finished off.
Generally a pretty successful month, let’s hope June is as productive 😁
A bit of a disappointing month gaming wise and in terms of projects done – I blame the distraction of helping decorate my sons new flat and Dave being a bit shook up after a car accident (all good now).
Next up was an away game of Vietnam using the BOHICA rules; dear oh dear what a disappointment 😒, the rules were really rather bad, confused incoherent and definitely nothing to do with Vietnam. The day was fine, seeing guys we haven’t seen for a month, beer, food and a laugh, so not a complete write off.
Next home game was another gunfight game where we had another episode from our Dardenell County campaign and made a final decision on the rules we’ll use. After years away from the ‘western gunfight’ genre it’s been really nice to back into it and fun has been had painting figures and collecting buildings. What we need now is general clutter, wagons, civilians, horses, all the accoutrements of your average film set 😃.
Final game of the month was one from our, oh so slow, Successors project 🤨. Still bereft of pikes we put together an Achaean League v Middle Imperial Seleucid (pretty sure the Seleucids didn’t refer to themselves as that 🤣), mainly because the hoplites we do have could make up the bulk of the League while the many Xystophoroi cavalry we have plus the freshly painted Galatians could justifiably bulk out a Seleucid army.
In terms of getting things done it’s all been a bit miserable; there are some more Timurids in progress but the only things that got done were a stage coach and building for the gunfight game – need to give myself a good talking to!
Well March didn’t start off too well as we were forced to cancel our attendance at Hammerhead due to my date for investigative surgery being scheduled for the Friday before the show and Dave wasn’t up to running a participation game on his lonesome. A shame but given the pressure the NHS is under currently I didn’t feel like messing them about just because of toy soldiers 🙂
From a gaming perspective, we managed to get quite a few in, starting the month of with an Italian theatre War of the Austrian Succession game featuring a GalloSpan army taking on Austro Piedmontese. A hard fought game resulted in an Austro Piedmontese victory due in part to an outstanding performance by the Austrian cavalry.
Next up was a dark age game using our Arthurian rules tweaked ever so slightly to accommodate a Late Roman v Goths encounter. It was the first outing for the Goths and was quite a bloody affair resulting in the death of two of the Goth leaders and a narrow victory for the Romans.
We played two separate western gunfight games during the month as part of our rejuvenated interest in the period, trialling two more sets of rules and kicking off a loose campaign to knit games together.
Probably our best game was a refight of St Denys, the second in our project to refight all the battles of the French Wars of Religion. This is historically a very lop sided battle which the Huguenots simply should not win but did and so it was in our refight even down to killing the right commander!
Our final game was a Carlist War battle done in the style of a ‘table top teaser’ scenario whereby a retreating government column has to get from one end of the table to the other while random Carlist brigades are generated to either side of them. At the time of going to press the government has seen off three Carlist brigades but another two bar their way – to be finished in April 😀
Projects wise a couple of small gunfight buildings were completed, some modern vehicles for our Cartel and Syrian games were finished, a couple of Timurid bodyguard cavalry units were finished after lingering around for over a year, some random desert terrain items completed and a unit of Galatians was added to the Successors project.
In other news the 10mm Franco Prussian armies were sold off to a new (and probably more appreciative) owner and some of the money from that sale went toward the purchase of a 4Ground western town from a gaming acquaintance who was done with the period – now we really have got to get into it!
Well, we’ve managed to keep to a fairly regular schedule, managing to get 5 games in and complete some terrain items.
The month started with a multi player WWII skirmish set amongst our four foot square city scape, built for us quite a few years back by Dave Marshall of TM Terrain. Designed as a generic eastern Prussia/western Russia look, this game was set in the Caucasus a favourite theatre of operations for us.
The sides were a full platoon each of Soviets and Germans plus limited support, each side approached from the east and west of the town with different deployment options and variables on heavy support/transport.
The game split into the two halves of the board; on the main boulevard a bloody gunfight saw heavy casualties on both sides (mainly from deployed mmg’s & lmg’s) but by nightfall more real estate was in Soviet hands than Germans, in the suburbs both sides proceeded cautiously inflicting low level casualties and by nightfall neither had made significant progress.
Next up was another skirmish but this time just two of us trialling the Dead Mans Hand western gunfight rules. This was a project that had notionally started way back in 2020 when we got the buildings and a few figures but then sat dormant for the first year of Covid. A few more figures were added in 2021 and I got bought the rules as a birthday present so finally we got round to it!
Anyone who has gamed with me knows I’m not a huge fan of card driven games and excessive randomness which is exactly what the rules serve up but they are well produced and Dave and I recognised that for the occasional game we were going to need something fairly short, sharp and effective.
The plus side of being simple and effective was that we got through two games in the evening so that was a plus.
Next up was a ‘proper battle’ featuring Florentines and Venetians from our Italian wars collection and using our home grown rules.
It wasn’t our greatest outing, both sides were overly cautious and where they did get bold it was in isolated efforts. The challenge when using Italian states is the generally low morale of the troops and poor command ability of the generals and so the effort for the players is more demanding than commanding French or Spanish.
Ultimately it was a score draw but both sets of players enjoyed the game and swore to be a bit more aggressive next time!
The last game on home turf was another western gunfight, same rules, different terrain, less figures.
As a game this played better, maybe due to us knowing a bit more about the flow of the rules, maybe because we limited ourselves in terms of numbers, don’t know really.
Again we got through two games and for a knock about kind of game (what some would call “fun”) it was perfectly fine but the random element gives some really ridiculous results which did start to grate by the end of play. The upshot was that Dave and I are going to have a go with the rules we grew up on, the ‘Old West Skirmish Rules’, far more complex but certainly more realistic and have a another go with ‘Fistful of Lead’ which we gamed with a while back. Stay tuned 😁
Final game of the month was an ‘away game’ with some long standing wargames buddies, near to us but not of us 🙂.
The game was one of those glorious British colonial expeditions in the face of unruly Afghan depredations using a new set of rules ‘Beyond the Empire’ another set in the draw a card, roll a random dice to see if you do what you wanted to and then roll some more random dice to see if you are any good at shooting/fighting this turn.
Now we had great fun; the sun was out, the beer was flowing and much hilarity was had at each players expense but colonial warfare it most definitely wasn’t.
If the very luck driven, completely random course of events and frankly unbelievable combat outcomes are for you (and I know that for many players this is indeed what it’s all about) then these are as good a set as the many other of it’s type out there. For me, no thanks.
Earlier in the year I’d got myself a couple of the Grand manner buildings in their sale – couldn’t afford them full price 😂 and so got them painted up. Although they are ‘Spanish’ I painted them in a more generic northern European style so we could use them for WWII skirmish.
Also got hold of a Blotz minaret to add to our individual middle east buildings.
That’s about it really. The Successors project trundles along, pikemen are being painted as we speak and Dave’s decision to do some Galatians has a unit nearly done – hopefully some photo’s in the March roundup, some vehicles to add to the modern middle east games are about to get started and more Carlists are underway.
So, until next time, be safe and get in as many games as you can 😁
With the start of 2022 and our emergence from 2 years of grabbing a game when we could I thought I’d record each month’s activities for what looks like (fingers crossed) is going to be a more stable gaming year.
Gathering the group up to start gaming again at the beginning of the month was an emotional time and gave us cause to pause and reflect. We have been very fortunate, given our senior age span, not to have lost anyone permanently from this life as so many across the country have; that said we have slimmed down a bit, of the hard core group one of our number is still not comfortable about socialising so we have left it with him to choose his time, of the occasional players, none of them are coming back having essentially given the hobby up. That all said we did manage to get 4 games in and make some progress on some of the projects.
Our first game was a French Wars of Religion game, refighting the battle of Dreux.
Historically a Catholic victory we managed a reversal of history with a stunning Protestant victory that saw most of the Catholic army either dead or running away. It was good to start with a historical refight and we agreed we should try and do more, although that has not been the case so far 😏.
Our next effort was a classic Prussian v Austrian Seven Years War bash with a considerable number of figures on the table – always good to see. Looking back we could easily have done one of the earlier historical battles but I got carried away with creating a challenging scenario for the game 😀.
The game was a points for objectives game, so high ground, bridges, villages. Some of the terrain units were already in Prussian/Austrian hands, a couple of which could be easily lost if players didn’t concentrate, the rest were there for the taking but most would involve fighting for them.
This was a hard fought game with several brigades being fought to exhaustion. The battle will be remembered however not for any great tactical insight but for the hilarity of the poor old Austrian cavalry commander receiving three sets of orders during the game that saw him canter from one part of the battlefield to another and not fight anyone 🤣😂. In the end the Prussians just edged it on points.
Our third game was an eastern renaissance game featuring Ottomans invading southern Muscovy.
This was great fun, as both armies were principally cavalry, we had units attacking, retreating, returning and the air thick with arrows. Ultimately it was a narrow Ottoman victory and at the end of it we were knackered, lots of cavalry is fun but it can get to be a bit of a slog when trying to work out the stats for numerous units all shooting and fighting at the same time.
Last up was an inaugural game of our Successors project.
The project is still ongoing but I reckoned we had enough done to be able to put together a passable semblance of a Eumenid and an Antigonid army which indeed was the case.
The game played well and we were pleased with where we’ve got to with the rules; some tweaks still need to be made but overall a good run out of the figures and the rules.
As well as the games we’ve been slowly working through additions to the armies; some more Streltsy have been completed for the Muscovites – too late for the game though 🙁, the Carlists have been expanded in preparation for Partizan, a whole load of gunfighters have been finished for the Wild West games we still haven’t played yet 🙄 and the Successor cavalry were finished in time for the game.
In terms of frequency of games we are well down on pre pandemic times, prior to the pandemic we were usually gaming twice a week, every week and occasionally squeezing in a third. Chatting the other day we recognised we’re never going to get back to that, the Covid years sapped our energy and drive and we are all two years older which for a couple of the guys is quite significant. So going forward we’re thinking once a week would be good, maybe the occasional second game, and seriously look at the joint collection and see if it can be slimmed down – but that’s probably a bit of a pipe dream 😂🤣
Some time ago Dave made up and painted a squad of Polish paratroopers which have never seen the light of day so with the gang back together again we decided to do a multi player skirmish set in post Market Garden, Holland.
The basic scenario was, the para’s and a cell from the Dutch resistance have captured a fortified house guarding a crossroads on the route of XXX Corps, unfortunately the defending Germans managed to get a message out prior to being overpowered and a young resistance fighter has just cycled in to say German reinforcements are on their way!
The para’s were allowed to position themselves anywhere around the house and the Dutch anywhere around the windmill and ruined barn, so essentially covering the north south and east west road approaches. The Germans had 4 squads and 10 potential entry points so each squad diced for where they would randomly come on and if it was a road they had the option of using a truck. As it turned out 1 squad came from the north down the road by truck, 1 from the south by truck and 2 squads from the south east, emerging from the wooded terrain. The allies were outnumbered 2:1 but did have the advantage of extensive cover and in the case of the paras better training.
Because the Germans entered at different points and were commanded by different players there wasn’t too much co-ordination (no radios = no player chit chat) so probably best to describe each squad’s ‘journey’ as a whole.
The squad on the northern road (3rd squad) drove as far as the wrecked lorry blocking the way and then de-bussed to head for the windmill (no Dutch were visible at this point) with the aim of using it as the fire base to pin down the defenders of the house. This plan deteriorated quite early on when the para sniper picked off the lmg gunner as the squad crossed the hedge 😕
The squad were then involved in a race for cover as the para Bren also opened up and by the time they reached the windmill area they had several men down. At the windmill the Dutch started to open fire but their poorer training meant they weren’t so deadly (by now the para’s had other Germans to worry about) so they were soon dispatched. Once at the windmill the Germans were able to outflank the resistance fighters who were outflanking the Germans advancing from the south and gunned them down. By game end this squad was settled in the windmill but nursing 50% losses. The Dutch had ceased to exist as an effective fighting force and the survivors slipped away.
The Germans on the southern road (1st squad) drove about half way to the crossroads then debussed and crossed the hedge to their left to advance on the house, reckoning that to drive any closer would invite a Piat shot (actually the paras didn’t have a Piat but the Germans didn’t know that 😀). The corporal and one other stayed by the truck to engage in long range distraction of the paras now visible on the bunker roof- they eventually downed one para who was bandaged up by his mates.
It was a long slog up to the crossroads and at the corner they took an unexpected casualty from the firing slit in the bunker door which covered the break in the hedge – this was a pure accident of the terrain placement and despite a bit of debate we agreed it was a legal shot. Alerted now, most of the the squad scrambled over the hedge and advanced on the house using the burning Hanomag as a screen, things were looking good as 2nd & 4th squads were converging on the house.
Now out of angle of the bunker door the squad prepared for an assault…….
Boom! Unfortunately one of the resistance team hiding out in the barn was positioned at the window, hidden by the other burning wreck, and let fly with a panzerfaust which exploded against the Hanomag taking out 3 of the squad in the blast 😮 – the funny bit was that the Dutch player thought that the guy he had placed there was armed with a rifle 🤣😂
The result of this debacle was that the sergeant died of his wounds and the resultant morale test saw that group ‘pinned’ and then ‘gone to ground’ which meant they crawled away from the action until rallied – they didn’t.
The remainder of the squad, a couple of guys the other side of the burning vehicles and the corporal and his mate, belatedly advancing up the road, pulled themselves together enough to kill off the Dutch in the barn (I wonder if it was a ‘Dutch barn’?) but that was them essentially done. A noteworthy postscript was that in the dying light of the day the corporal managed to place a charge against the bunker door and blow it in – the figure was equipped with a bunch of grenades bundled together for tank busting so we agreed that was a feasible outcome.
The German 4th squad emerged from the eastern woods into the sunlight and started out across the open field toward the house only to take rifle fire from the upper windows that downed the corporal, but the sergeant urged the men on, leaving behind a man to dress the corporal’s wound. They flung themselves into cover at some shell holes and returned fire supported by the lmg of 2nd squad behind them, after a couple of turns of no firing from the house (the para had been hit and was being treated by another) they rushed to the hedge in front of them and vaulted over and into the street.
Once in the street there was a ‘lobbing grenades into the house competition’ which saw grenades get through the window but land nowhere near those inside (as the Germans couldn’t mark their target the impact point was randomised) but the concussion from grenades going off in a small room were deemed to have concussed those inside. The main plan however was to rush to the rear of the house, storm into the yard and up the stairs.
However, as soon as the first soldier entered the yard a shot rang out from the bunker (this bloody bunker!) and down he went. This completely stuffed the plan and the squad was now stuck exchanging useless shots at a bunker slit knowing full well only a lucky hit would be enough – they never got lucky. One bright spot was a single soldier who had been sent crawling into the under house garage space, but more of him later.
The German 2nd squad emerged from the south east slightly behind 4th squad so when the 4th took fire the lmg team quickly deployed and opened up on the house – it was actually their fire that inflicted the casualty. While the lmg team remained deployed, the rest of the squad advanced, using the eastern hedge line as cover, arriving at the hedge to the south of the house just as 4th got set to advance round the corner.
Vaulting the hedge like their predecessors, the 2nd also went for the grenade lobbing trick but what a disaster 🙄, the grenade hit the windowsill, bounced back and exploded amongst the squad, killing the sergeant and one other! Despite the shock the corporal rallied the squad and led them up the road away from dangerous grenade throwing and into the hell that was the crossroads fighting.
The corporal firing his smg at the bunker firing slit this provided enough of a distraction for the lone private from 4th squad who’d crawled through the garage space to get to the side of the slit and post a grenade – boom!
In the fading light the rest of 2nd squad got round the side of the bunker but there was still no way of launching an effective assault. In desperation surrender terms were offered but the paras said they hadn’t got room for so many prisoners 🤣😂 (if you’re going to steal, steal from the best), even the blowing in of the bunker door failed to convince them!
At that point we decided the Germans would fall back far enough to keep the paras bottled up and hope to starve them out before XXX Corps arrived, which was probably a vain hope.
Overall we had a great time, plenty of tactical decisions to be made; when do you run across open ground, how many men are you prepared to lose in a suicidal assault, remembering to fire and move, etc. We also got a sense of the frustration of close assault against prepared positions, especially when those positions are held by good quality troops, although the fortified house was a lot harder nut to crack than we envisaged,
Anyway, we played, we bantered, we had a good game, all you can ask for really.