Thursday, 21 December 2017

The "last" 6mm


Not properly based yet but these are the last of my 5-7 yrs worth of 6mm painting so I though they deserved their moment in the sun - six understrength troops of ECW horse, including some Scots.


I did a very rough count and I think I've painted about 10,000 individual soldiers, mostly Napoleonic, but a good number of ECW, some Medieval and a few Ancients.

I won't be leaving Peter at Baccus totally devoid of revenue since I'll do one batch (~ 1 month, ~ 4-5 bags) a year to fill in gaps or just do some fun figures - like the Spanish with their long bearskin banners!

I'll post up a photo of the latest ECW batch (9 Inf, 6 Scots, 3 horse) as soon as they are based up.


Otherwise it's on (back) to 20mm!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

2017 - Year in Review



Don't think I've blogged a formal year in review before, but here goes.

First the summary:

Jan: 🎨20mmNap(2)*, 🔪ECW*
Feb: 🎲ww3*
Mar: 💤
Apr: 💤
May: 🎨100YW*, 🔪Auerstedt*
Jun: 🎨20mmNap(2)*,🔪Agincourt *
Jul: 🎨RusNap*, 2mmNap*
Aug: 🐝
Sep: 🎨20mmNap(2)*
Oct: 🎨ECW1!, 🔪JenaBde*
Nov: 🎨ECW2!, 🔪Eylau/2mm/Div*
Dec: 🎨20mmNap(3)@, 🎲ECWcmp

No idea what happened in Mar and Apr, lots of real work I think, but hardly did anything, which resulted in a bit of scaling back from the original plan (one battle slipped to 2018, 2 ECW batches became 1.5, but not too many other major casualties!

Now thematically:

PAINTING






The big aim of the year was to "finish" my 6mm and I did that, with batches of Medieval, ECW (2.5) and Napoleonic Russians. I'll post more on the outcome and forward plan for this in probably the next blog post.

I'll just about hit my target of nine 20mm French Napoleonic, the minimum I need to do to fulfil my part  of the Waterloo refight planned (Nicks doing about the same number and Adrian 3-4 times that!). This years troops included Middle Guard, more Cuirassiers, Guard Lancers and I'm just doing some Light.

NAMED BATTLES





With the Medievals done I did Agincourt using Hordes & Heroes. For ECW I did 1642 so Edgehill was the big one, but didn't get the time to do any others (3 more planned, a major Mar/Apr casualty). For Napoleonic I did the left overs from 1806/2016 (Auerstedt, Jena) and Eylau from 1807/2017, with Friedland slipping into 2018 (and Rivoli abandoned). I find doing these games, even solo, a great way for focus reading (and book buying) around specific battles, and then use the medium of the game to understand the terrain, issues and tactics better.


WARGAMING


I did get my 1984/Cold War vehicles and troops rebased on to 4cm hexes for use on Hexon and played out a couple of games, one a trial to learn CWC and then the Mohner Gap game.  So that moved forward nicely and will continue in 12018 hopefully with a campaign, but still after the ultimate set of rules.

I did also manage to revisit and rebase my 2mm Napoleonics, with a D6 BOD based set of rules inspired by my experiences with Blucher and H&H. Definitely to be continued.

I didn't manage to get the ECW Campaign underway, but that is tops for 2018.

I did manage the start a 100 Days Blucher campaign with Nick and Alan, 1 battle down, 1 or 2 more to go I expect.

A number of other games with Nick and Alan including a Blucher test game, a Blucher Scharnhorst generated game, a small war in Africa skirmish game, and even some D&D!.


BATTLEFIELD WALKS




Nick and Alan and I got to stay at Hougoumont and re-explore Waterloo (without the re-enactors). We even played a Hougoumont SPI type game in Hougoumont!

The new dog is likely to encourage more walks, and we managed to do both Towton and "new" Bosworth.

I managed to combine a conference trip with a visit to Busaco - and a stay at the Busaco Palace Hotel!


BOARDGAMES




I bought Kingmaker and had a great game of it with Jo and Tom on a long weekend in Barmouth. Played a few other games that Jo bought. And Hougoumont in Hougoumont as mentioned!


CLUBS and SHOWS



My attendance at Dragoon's Den faded away after things became busy after my father-in-law died, and the dog arrived. Will try and restart next year. Still no time to visit a weekend club. Good weekend of Borodino at Liphook. Only made it to Salute show-wise.


SOFTWARE




No progress on the Campaign or tactical versions of Combat60, or on the Virtual Osprey idea. However I did make a nice prototype for a BattlefieldAR app which I'll try and progress next year.

ODDS and SODS



These were the other things on my to-do list:

ECW Campaign Start - failed
Next Nick Campaign - yes, in the guise of the Blucher 100 Days one, but not a "big" one
Cloth - Green - failed to buy a cloth!
Try Cold War Commander - done! Then a new edition came out! 
Base 6mm Modern Warpac & NATO  - done!
Brigade sabots - done! (for 6mm, to turn 2 x Bn into 1 x Bde)
20mm Sabots - started, ready for Waterloo60. Just about go the size right.
Rebase 6mm Nap @ - ongoing, lots are based on 20mm plastic card and warped badly
More 6/15/20mm Rivers - failed
More 6/15/20mm Hedges - failed
2mm nap again? - done! Lovely blend of wargame and boardgame
Articles (0/3) - failed. ECW Campaign one in hand though for early 2018.
Medieval/ECW/Modern/WW2Des 6mm bldgs. - bought a few medieval, less at Salute than I'd hoped
CWO Bde?? - no, CWC*

And I added to that starting writing BOD versions of Medieval, ECW and Napoleonic rules.


OVERALL

Not a bad year given what else was going on. And a good outlook for 2018 particularly since the move from 6mm to 20mm should ease the painting load a bit!






Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Battle of Eylau - ENDEX

The Russians retreat past Anklappen
Well the refight of Eylau came to an end on Turn 10/1700. I'd thought it was going to be all over at Turn 7 as Davout was on the the table (if taking a beating), Lestocq was yet to show up, the Russians were pushing in the French left, and fighting was going on all around the front of Eylau. I did a quick check of Army/Corps morale at that point and found that both Davout and Soult needed to withdraw (>1/2 units lost or spent), as did Osten-Sacken, and Tuchkov (Russain right, but small) was already gone. Both only had 5 formations, so one more loss and the army would have to withdraw.

Russians trying to turn the French left flank


Turn 7 saw Murat's cavalry fall on Osterman-Tolstoy division, but it held firm against two successive Cavalry Divisions. Milhaud went against it in Turn 8 and still it hung on. The Guard made a demonstration against the Russian right and stopped them from hooking round behind Eylau. The fighting continued in front of Eylau, but no-one lost a unit!

The central melee. Eylau just out of shot to the left.


On Turn 8 (1500)  Ney turned up - he must have given Lestocq the slip, and hurried to fall on the Russian left, but the hussars and Cossacks from Galitzen's Cavalry Corps frustrated a rapid advance, and on Turn 9 (1600) Lestocq finally turned up at Althof in Ney's rear - so giving him something else to worry about.

Russian right flank holding firm

Come turn 9 Bennigsen realised that it was all over and decided to see if he could break contact before having a formal defeat inflicted - excepting Lestocq he actually only had one combat capable division left. The break was quickly executed, with the shattered infantry units and surprisingly fresh gunner pulling back past Anklappen screened by Galitzen's cavalry and with Lestocq shadowing Ney's fresh troops on the flank. A hasty pursuit by Heudelet who had been in reserve for much of the battle caught Semov's Brigade as it pulled back on Turn 10 and delivered such an impressive set of volleys that Semov took enough damage to cause him to retreat and be spent, so triggering the withdrawal of Dokhtruu'v Corps - making it 3 Russian formations down - except that not Lestocq was on the table their trigger point was 4 formations!


The French keep the pressure on the Russian retreat

At that point I decided it was game over. The Russians were past Anklappen and their cavalry screen was strong. At 1700 in February in Poland it must be getting pretty dark, so I allowed Bennigsen to slip away under the cover of night, without the ignominy of a formal defeat.

Positions at nightfall - Anklappen in the upper centre

Overall I think that SLS-BOD played out very well, and the BOD mechanism and reduced DMs avoided almost all of the "have I counted that DM or not" element of basic SLS. There is some loss of granularity, but I think I can live with that. I'll next play Friedland with at Bde level with the rules more or less unchanged (but now 1D per 500 me/250 cav/5 guns, and 250m hexes), and then look at a Battalion level version - I can see that they may be what we use for Waterloo60.





Friday, 8 December 2017

Battle of Eylau - STARTEX


Eylau starting positions, Div sized units (apart from largest Russian units split into 2 Bdes). New SLS-BOD rules which effectively give units 1 dice/strength(health) point for each 1000 inf, 500 cav or 10 guns. 500m hexes, 1 hour game turns. French at left, Russians at right. Slight valley between the two with Eylau in the middle of it. No snow available!

View from French lines looking over Eylau to Russian lines beyond
The first two goes were the artillery dual. No crashing damage but two French divisions too disorder and fell back a kilometre to regroup (changing the fall back rule!).


On turn 3 the fight for Eylau started, with the French charging the Russian guns beyond the village, taking them, but then being forced back by a Russian counter-attack, which was then checked in turn by the French. Smoke markers show damage points (and sit on the hexes so you don't lose them!). The French also pushed forward on their right and the Russians pushed forward on the French left.

The Russians trying to take Eylau and St Hilaire goes in to stop them!
On Turn 4 it was time to unleash the cavalry to try and force the push on the French right flank - particularly as Davout had not yet appeared. Two of Murat's gallant divisions went changing in against a Russian Grand Battery, which they took, but then charged on to a Russian Grenadier Div which held firm, and the cavalry fled back to its own lines with very little glory, but also not too much damage.

The battle continues around Eylau - red markers show disorder

Turn 5 (midday) and Davout finally turns up. The Russians turn their cavalry to face him. Stalemate in the centre and left with he fight ongoing around Eylau but neither side committing towards Altdorf. No sign of Lescoq.

The left flank and windmill - French cavalry taking artillery damage
End of Turn 5- Davout arrives!

Overall all playing out pretty well. Still not as fast as I'd like, but that may be in part to the card-by-card activation which adds a certain base amount per unit anyway. May try some other methods out (although this is probably the best solo mode). The actual BOD mechanics are working out really well though.




Monday, 4 December 2017

Battle of Eylau - Planning and 2mm!



When I got back into wargaming about 15 yrs ago I soon realised that I didn't have the time or space for big 20mm battles. So I bought some 2mm figures to try out micro-wargaming. It was the experience of trying to do Borodino on a corner of our dining table that convinced me that hexes were the way to go, as any measuring error/disagreement at that scale is huge! However I'd also bought a few test 6mm figs, and all through the battle I kept looking at them and think I'd like to be working at a scale where I could actually see the figures, and so I abandoned 2mm and went to 6mm. Thousands of 6mm figures later I've decided its time to revisit 2mm, as even a 6mm game is still taking a lot of time and space to set up! And I have a preference for doing the big battles, as this blog attests.

Originally my 2mm figures were based as Div/Bde units on ~2-4cm squares, on 4cm hexes. Far too fiddly, and Hexon is now my preferred grid of choice. So I decided to rebased on 8cm hexes, which sit nicely in the Hexon 10cm hexes and allow for a nice layout of troops that actually give the sense of a Div or Bde drawn up in a couple of lines. There's also plenty of space for a unit label. At this scale it means that each ground hex is about 500m (for Div) or 250/300m  (for Bde), so certainly at Div I can accommodate big battlefields (my table gives me about 10 x 20 hexes, so 5km x 10km).



As ever though there's then the issue of scenery. I originally bought some 2mm scenery to go with the figures (all Irregular Miniatures I think), but whilst the little village models are nice, they actually look far too small on my relatively large table, and the mini trees/forests just look silly. So as the top picture shows I've used my 6mm trees, and they look spot on. For the buildings I've got some 1/1000th models (Brigade Miniatures) which I originally bought for my 6mm modern gaming, but they ended up looking too small again (!) for that, but seem just about right as in the above image for 2mm! So come the New Year I'll put in an order for some Horse & Musket suitable 1/1000th buildings from Brigade, and make up some nice 10cm hex dioramas. One ide I'm playing with is to have the outer edge of the hex separate from the inner, so that when a unit is in a town you remove the central portion and replace it with the unit!

Rules wise I'm going through this gradual bucket-of-dice conversion. So whereas that first Borodino 2mm game gave birth to Steady Lads Steady (my main in-house rules), I'm now doing a bucket-of-dice version of SLS drawing on some of the things I've done with the Medieval rules I'm growing out of Hordes and Heroes, and with a bit of Blucher influence. We'll see how they run.


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Battle of Jena - ENDEX




Finally got to the end of Jena - not that it took a long time to play but just not had the time. I used to really like (the idea of) Jena, probably from being there for the 200th Anniversary, but having wargamed it twice now (Liphook and here) it really is a bit of a bore as the Prussians are vastly outnumbered and out-skilled, and the French are struggling up slopes and through woods with no room to manoeuvre, and by the time they are out on the plain its all over.

Lannes V Corps made most of the running, although Lutzeroda managed to hold out for quite a long time (about Turn 8/1030). Augeraeu's VII Corps haked its way up the ravine on the L flank to emerge outside of Isserstedt but couldn't get its order resorted in time to make a decent attack. Soult and Ney were very late to the party, although Soult's 1st Div did manage to take out the Prussians by Alten Gonna. In the end it was Nansouty and his Heavy Cavalry Corps that help delivered the killer blows, mopping up the Prussian cavalry, putting weak units to flight and opening up the way for Lannes to finish things off, with the Guard spectating from the Dornberg.

ENDEX was called at the end of Turn 12 (1230) as the Prussian fell below 50% in formations and units and their line between Vierzehnheilgen  and Isserstedt was about to collapse. Interestingly they did manage to roll for Ruchel's Detached Corps to come on at that point, but it was effectively all over.

Overall the French were running just behind the real timeline, but interestingly Prince Hohenlohe ordered the retreat at 1pm in real life, so the French actually ended up just ahead of it!

Overall the rules worked pretty well, certainly felt better, if more complex/slower, than the recent Blucher game, but will be interesting how the BOD-SLS-GT version I'm working on will compare.

Photos are a bit dim as I finished about 2330 on a winter's evening!

French (R) emerge from the woods under Isserstedt (Austrians standing in!)

Vierzehnheilgen church under attack

Another view of the church - like the perspective - just need more light

Balloon (!) shot of the final placings, Prussians in arc Left to Top

Balloon view from behind Soult's IV Corps



Monday, 27 November 2017

Battle of Sombreffe


We finally managed to find the time to play the first big battle of our Blucher 100 Days Campaign.  Alan's French had crossed the border on the 15th and  moved en-masse against my Prussians, resulting in a big battle just N of Sombreffe featuring all of the French bar II Corps, and all of the Prussians bar IV Corps. In a mirror image of Waterloo Nick's Brits were racing to the scene and expected to get a  couple of Corps onto the field sometime during the day, coming in on the Prussian R flank. here's the campaign map:


Sombreffe is buried under column C&F.

The battlefield generated by the map and some terrain choices, with column start areas was:


Which when put out on the table, looking E to W, looked something like this:


The broken terrain was not idea, but interesting, and showed that nice aspect of campaign play that you don't get "simple" battlefields. The Prussians started in control of 2 objectives/map squares, and the French 4! Unfortunately Alan was well enough to play, but after a quick game of Sun Tzu (nice game), Nick changed sides and received Alan's briefing.

The key question was (in true Waterloo style) could the Prussian hold on long enough for the Brits to arrive.

The French pushed quickly forward making good progress on the Prussian left, but being rebuffed on the Prussian right. In the centre 3 Imperial Guard artillery units pushed boldly forwards, to be met by some courageous Prussians, who whilst they didn't inflict any serious damage kept the "beautiful daughters" out of the rets of the game.

Prussians taking on the Beautiful Daughters!


The French advance!

Another French gun at risk, but otherwise pushing forward

At the end of Turn 4 (Allied 2nd turn) I rolled a 1 and so the first British reinforcements arrived behind me, far earlier than I'd dared hope. The immediately blocked a gap on my R flank, and interestingly hardly played an part in the rest of the game!

Highlanders stabilise the R flank.
British and French (well Confed of Rhine) come face to face!

Worse was to come for the French as on my next Turn I again rolled a 1 and the whole of the British Cavalry Corps arrived on my R flank, almost into the rear of the French! The rest of the game on that flank was a series of melees between the Cavalry, including Grenadiers a Cheval and Royal Horse Guards - all a bit of stalemate by the end but stopped any serious French threat from my right.

Light Dragoons mixing it with Cuirassiers!
Scots Greys and Cuirassiers on a collision course!
The nail truly went in French coffin when the Prussian III Corps finally turned up to not only secure my crumbing L flank, but trigger a general push forward on that flank.

Prussian L flank, looking towards the thin French lines!
With night rapidly falling (i.e. we'd run out of time after 15 turns) the French made one last fling against the central hill, aiming to inflict maximum damage before the attrition calculations, and the game was over.

The French still trying to push forward!

At the end the Prussians held 3 squares, the French 2, and the 6th only had a solitary Prussian Hussar unit  who was desperate to seize the glory of the 6th objective in Sombreffe itself, but never quite made it!

Trying to seize Sombreffe - and a vacant objective


As the Prussian commander I certainly feel that the French were saved by the night - Nick and Alan might have other views. In the very last turn the 2nd Corps of British infantry arrived, so I had almost 3 fresh Corps to throw against the Guard and one French reserve Corps - would have been fun!

Rules-wise there was quite a bit that concerned us about Blucher this time round (my first game had left me with a poor view, but the 2nd seemed to go OK). Key issues appear to be:

  • Guns fade very fast, and even with canister aren't anything to be afraid off
  • Cavalry are just mobile infantry who've lost their muskets as they get no bonus against infantry not in square/prepared, and even if they are prepared the infantry advantage is not massive
  • My valiant cavalry unit tasked with seizing Sombreffe couldn't make it since I could never afford the activation points, whereas in practice it would just be a simple "gallop there" command and not need me to do anything else
  • We just ended up ignoring the Commander cards - but perhaps partly since we were rushing it
  • The 50% damage threshold for campaign attrition means we started "gaming" it in the last turn, just going after the hits that would tip a unit over
It does play nice and fast though, and the activation system is nice if a little gamey. I had already started on a "bucket-of-dice" version of my own SLS rules, so perhaps that may be the way to go!

We'll play out the campaign with the standard rules, but then reassess I think. Also keen to give Over the Hills a try as they seem closer to SLS.

For this game the Blucher rules were hexified (as are all my rules!), and figures were 20mm plastics and Newline metal. We also realised that we really need some nice sabot bases if we're going to do this again!

I've now got to do the attrition sums to find out the campaign impact - my suspicion is that it will actually be worse for the Prussian as we have a lot of Conscript and Understrength units who won't recover, whereas every single one of the French will in some shape or form :-(

10th Hussars about to enter the fray!