Friday, 6 October 2017

6mm Napoleonic Russians - Batch 2

The table is currently being set up for Jena so I'm afraid these guys will only get the mantle-shelf treatment.

My first batch (about 1/2 a Corps) were some of the first Napoleonic 6mm I painted and were some donated Heroics & Ros (thanks Alan again!). So it was nice to round off my c.4 yrs of bulk 6mm painting with another 1/2 Corps of Russians, but this time from Baccus.

Six battalions of mitre'd Grenadiers - Pavlovsk and LiebGrenadier. Blame Peter for only selling them in packs of 96!

Normally I have 12 cavalry in close order on a base. For the Cossacks I decided to go with 1/2 sized bases and only 3 per base - so I think that gave me 8 regiments worth! Painted one as Guard Cossacks and another as Bashirs.

Four regiments of heavy cavalry, two as Dragoons and two as Kuirassiers.

The LiebGrenadiers again (its the red disc at the top of the mitre to tell the difference!)

The other end of the heavy cavalry line-up.

There were also 6 battalions of Musketeers (2 each of Tobolsk, Volhynie, Kremenchoug facings) and 3 of Guard (2x Preobrazhensk, 1 x Semenovsk) and 3x Grenadiers with Kiver (Kiev, Moscow, Astrakhan facings I think).

As mentioned that bring to the end my "bulk" painting of 6mm Napoleonic so I now have about 2-3 Corps of French (+Guard), 2 of Prussians and one each of British, British Allies, Russian and Austrian.

The aim now is to paint a "batch" (~30 units) every year of "fun" stuff or to fill in gaps - but that will be shared with ECW and Medieval. Some more Spanish seem to top the list at the moment (esp the guys with the long tails on their hats!)

Monday, 2 October 2017

Battle of Towton 1461 - Battlefield Walk

Heading back from dropping elder daughter off at Durham, and seeing as the dog needed a walk I decided to go and take a look at Towton as it's only about 10 mins off the M1/A1(M)/M18. We left it a bit late, and a huge rain storm had just been through, so every thing was wet, muddy, and eventually dark!

An official walk was set up a few years ago with 10 information points. Unfortunately its really around the rear of the Lancastrian position, so apart from the spur out to Point #2 in the middle of the Yorkist lines you cant really walk over the big field in the middle of the road fork, so the Towton Dale/North Acres area where most of the fight would have been.

Looking S from the cross to the Lancastrian R/York L
The walk is on a reasonably well kept wide path between fields and is about 3km. It takes you from the cross along the edge of the Cock Beck, and then into Towton. We turned round at #9 as I didn't want to bring Paddy back along the road in the dark (the roadside path was more or less impassable).

From cross to the centre of the battlefield

In the image above the lone tree is just behind the York centre. Not really evident in the photo is that there are 4 (4!) major power stations visible on the horizon - including Ferrybridge (the sight of the skirmish the day before). It probably just highlights how empty this area is!

The real take-way from the walk is how deep a gorge/valley the Cock Beck is in. This image shows the start of the drop - and you can easily see how routing troops in moderate armour would soon be toast as they slipped and slid down a steep muddy bank. "Bloody Meadow" is more or less in the middle of the photo.

Paddy learning about medieval weaponry!

It was getting dark by the end! This is from #2, looking from the Yorkist centre to the Lancastrian lines. Towton dale which cuts across from L to R is quite pronounced, and this was only just up the S (York) slope, so the view N towards the Lancastrian lines was very limited - my guess is that the main York position would be further S up the slope so as to get a better view - which matches the battle diagram above rather than the board description. Again the slope being quite pronounced would have readily facilitated a field of carnage in the dale with muddy ground and lots of armour.

Overall whilst a quite minimalist site its really is an atmospheric place, and when we visited it probably as bleak as it was on the day!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Battle of Agincourt II - My Medieval Rules WIP - Pt 2

Rules playing going well, even if  not a lot of time to do it (I blame the Cossacks I'm painting!).

The French Main battle is now approaching, but the front rank of crossbowmen is coming off worst in the firefight with the English archers, and routing French are causing morale damage even on the rear Battle.

Added in some rules for General vs General individual combat, so they should get a good test as we enter the main melee phase.

Really ought to make some "arrow" damage markers to replace the smoke-puffs from my gunpowder era games!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Battle of Agincourt II - My Medieval Rules WIP - Pt 1

A lot better game, rules proving a lot more straight forward, and the card activation a lot easier to keep track off.

Both the MMAA units were routed again by bow fire, and this time there was a mechanism for them to cause some morale damage as they went back. The main French battle sent DMAA into the ends of the English bow line, but the archers are managing to not crumble instantly (in fact I abandoned the "dagger" weapon as they got no hits in the first round, so upgraded them to sword, now doing too well, so now introducing a "secondary weapon" between the two.

Archers vs DMAA on the French right flank - 2 all!
The main body of the main Battle came on, taking damage from the archers. Surprised at even with a 9+ (longbow vs plate) all four D10 could fail to hit (which of course is reasonable). The "stalled" result on a double has also worked well, no triples yet!

The lead DMAA makes contact. It had taken 2 damage out of 4 to get alongside the English archers, but Orlean's then finally managed to roll a bonus command point and used it to drive the DMAA home before the English could get another shot in. Already weakened they lost another damage.

Weakend French DMAA crash into the English bow line

Not 100% sure about the melee system. Currently each side rolls for damage on opposition, but only the DIFFERENCE is applied to the loser. Putting the markers out as I roll so I don't forget works well. It does reduce the amount of damage, but despite an extra rule does mean that the winner of each round is unlikely to take damage.  I used the difference approach so say two lots of heavy knights don't decimate each other in one go - but that may be liveable with for faster degradation of both sides. Will try it once DMAA starts facing DMAA.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

One Page Medieval Big Battles Rules Draft

Given my dissatisfaction with Hordes & Heroes on the last outing, and the mismatch between rules like S&S and TTS and what I want for a big-battle set I've quickly pulled together a 1 page set of medieval big battle rules. Will try them out over the next week on the Agincourt scenario and see how they play.

If you want to give them a try they are at:

Very abbreviated at the moment just to give me some structure - but if you know your rules your can probably work out how they work. The rules use D10 and a similar damage and morale model to my Steady Lads Steady Napoleonic rules. They are designed for 10cm Hexon hexes (but could modify for non-hex play),  with one unit per hex, and unit being about 500 men. Figure scale up to you (but I'll be using 6mm now and 20mm next year).

If they look good I'll gradually work them up into a proper set and possibly put them through either a magazine article or a free PDF.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Battle of Agincourt - AAR

Well that was over quicker than expected! The French cavalry moved forward against the English archers and got obliterated. Then the French Van moved forward  against the English archers and got obliterated. And all without any melee - not how Agincourt went. Same again with the Main battle.

I then let the French take a time-out and do some re-organisation and send the Rear battle in en-masse and against one of the flanks. They finally managed to break an archer unit, and could then start wrapping ip the flank and finally get to grips with the centre without all the fire from the flank.

The battle then disintegrated into about half-a-dozen one-on-one melees. But with equal participants in most cases (English MAA stretched thin!) the melee would only give at least 1 damage for 6/36 rounds (as H&H B&C class need 3+ hits for at least 1 damage), so it was all going to get pretty boring. I called a halt.

One of the final melees

The final situation

When I last used Hordes & Heroes (for Bosworth) I thought it worked pretty well - but this time I just couldn't get on with it. Key issues were:
  • Longbows were devastating even against MAA - they hit on 8+ on D12 (so 42%) - and you're rolling 4x per unit, and the English were getting 2-3 units firing on each MAA TWICE per turn. OK it's not a 1:1 map of hits to damage (hits-3 basically) and with only 3 damage per unit the MAA were gone pretty quick
  • The IGO-UGO model with both wises firing in each fire phase, and melee in both phase made it hard to keep track in the sort of interrupted solo games I play
  • The "flee" result which comes up from about 4 hits onwards send a unit to the back line, where it automatically rallies, even if its only taking 1 hit! So potentially having fought one battle you might have to fight it all over again!
  • The two stage hit calculation/damage chart mechanism is a bit cumbersome, particularly given the chart is a 10x5 grid
It probably wasn't helped by the French having to charge (slowly) into the valley of death - but at least they should have made contact!

So I think I'm going to park H&H. But where to go instead? I've tried both To The Strongest and Sword & Spear and both have nice points, but they aren't really solo big-battle rules. I had c.43 units on the table, so single activating every one as both rules require would be a real pain. I've tried and passed on Impetus and DBA variants.  I might do a quick look on freewargamerules, but other wise there isn't a commercial rule-set I can think of that fits the bill - so probably time to write my own simple set!

Should be play-testing by mid-week!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Battle of Agincourt - 1415 - Prep

Agincourt: View from above the French lines

Having finished my 6mm Medieval a month or so ago it's time to play a game with them - and what better than Agincourt. I'll be using Kallistra's Hordes and Heroes again which worked pretty well for Bosworth last year. I use single 80mm width units, and then just use damage markers to simulate the reduction in "bases" from 4 to 1. Given that H&H is about 1 hex = 100m, that makes each of my units about 4-500 men assuming 4-6 deep.

Based on Anne Curry's book I need about 9000 English (so 18 bases) and 12000 French (24 bases). English are biased heavily (75%) to Bow, the rest DMAA. The French are the opposite, about 25% Box/Crossbow and 75% MAA.

One mistake I made ages ago was interpreting (mainly from popular media!) those MAA as being mostly mounted, hence I bought about 4 packs of Mounted  MAA to paint. Now I prep for the battle in detail I realise that only about 2000-2500 (4-5 units) were mounted, and the rest were DMAA - so I've had to supplement my meagre DMAA stocks with Bill for the game (but treat as DMAA). I'll do another pack of DMAA next year to give a decent amount for other battles.

Clignet de Brabant poised to attack early on the French right flank

The battlefield lays out quite nicely with Hexon, that alley of death between the two woods, and a slight rise at either end - and an English baggage train ready to be sacked at the far end. All terrain is being counted as broken to reflect the sodden state on the day - so all move at 1, no impact, but I will allow missiles to fire over it.

English archers with stakes line the wood edge

The final orbat I'm going with is:

  • 5x MAA (two for the initial assault on the bows, rest in Rear Battle)
  • 13 x DMAA
  • 4 x Crossbow
  • 2 x Longbow
  • 1 x MAA
  • 3 x DMAA
  • 14 x Longbow
  • 1 x Spearmen (guarding the baggage)
  • 3 x Commanders (one per Battle)

I've given the two French advanced MAA and the two English flanks of bows their own Commander under H&H (Move1/Range1), otherwise they would fall fowl of command distances.

The English centre, stakes up,  Henry ready to give the order to advance!

The aim is to roughly follow the historical battle, so English move forward (just 1-2 hex), French cavalry charge, French Van attacks, and we'll see where it goes from there!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Russian Napoleonic 6mm WIP

This months figure painting batch is just over half a Corps worth of Russian Napoleonic from Baccus.  I already have a similar number, but they were some of the first 6mm I painted and were slighter Heroics and Ros figures that I was given by Alan. This is the first Russian lot I've done with Baccus to being in to line with the rest of my armies.

The first units painted are 6 battalions (15 figures each, so about 1:33) of Musketeers. Also in the batch to do are:
  • 2 regiments Kurassier
  • 2 regiments Dragoons
  • 6 battalions Guard/Grenadier
  • 6 battalions mitred Grenadier
  • 4 regiments Cossacks
That will actually bring my 6mm Napoleonic painting to a close (sorry Peter!). Although I have promised myself one month of 6mm painting each year to paint whatever Napoleonic/Medieval/ECW takes my fancy!

Without a macro lens and a flash I'll hold off on any more photos til the whole batch is completed!

"New" Bosworth Battlefield Walk

Having acquired a dog it appears that one of the advantages will be an increase in the number of battlefield walks - you might as well have walkies somewhere interesting!

For a first outing we went to the "new" Bosworth battlefield. We Parked up at Shenton and then walked across the huge fields to Fenn Lane Farm - pretty much through the Yorkist front line an into no-man's land according to one of the current interpretations. Crossing Fenn Lane we then walked over more fields (all arable, one incredibly ploughed up, Agincourt like) and through the Tudor lines. As we approach the canal and foot of Crown Hill on the only bit of road the fisheries and ponds gave a hint of the "mere" that was once here. Cup of tea by the canal and then along the canal (not there in 1485!) before finally striking back NW across the fields, just behind a supposed artillery location, to the start.

Looking SW across battlefield - Crown Hill behind the big tree at left

Nice walk, not very scenic, but certainly shows how flat and open this space is comparison to the "old" site, and the Crown Hill ridge is a very mild rise above the rest of the terrain.

My 2016 table with deployment areas - photo above position in yellow

Friday, 25 August 2017

Project Sansar

I finally found the time to try out the Project Sansar "virtual world"/"social virtual reality"  - the latest offering from the operators of Second Life. I was disappointed and can't say it scratches any particular itch I have in the VW/SVR space. You can read my full write-up on the Daden blog.

The one high point though was a really nice Apollo 11 virtual museum with a huge 3D model of the timeline and earth-moon trajectory - complete with mini-models of the LEM/CM/SM.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Battle of Auerstedt - ENDEX

Looking W from behind French lines
Well, that was over quicker than I expected! At the end of Turn 21 (1pm) it still looked like the French had  a big ask and they were running behind the historical timetable. But clearing the Prussians left of Poppel meant that another Prussian brigade was below 50% and so had to withdraw. That meant that the Prussians had lost 3 of their 8 brigades, so one more would put them at 50% and it was game over!

It was to the French centre and right that the glory fell, as left flank was now faced by the Prince of Orange's two fresh brigades.

DeBilly's 1e Bde of Morand's Division tried again to take on Wedel's Bde but was repulsed. But 3/21e Ligne of Petit's Bde had just made a nice move against a very weakened IR5 of Reynouard's Bde and sent it packing. It had to halt but on Turn 22, still formed it swung round to its right and piled into the side of Hanschstein's Grenadier Bn. The Grenadiers just about held, but 1/85e Ligne of Gauthier's bde moved up to join the fray and it was all over - Wedel was now below 50%, and his withdrawal put the whole force at 50% - Game Over!

The Final Conflict
The Prussians only had two serviceable brigades left - Orange's reinforcements, and fragments of Kloch and Greiffenberg. The French had two totally fresh brigade's from Morand's division which were only just reaching the front line, and another 2-3 brigades in pretty good shape - so its reasonable that the Prussians withdraw, and be hotly pursued by Davout - pretty much mirroring the final historical result.

One oddity concerned light cavalry. According to the orbats the Prussians had tons of it, most of which I put on the table (less Oswald at Suiza). Battle reports talk about Bunting, Quintzow, Irwin and Blucher, but suggest a certain amount of confusion and no indication that they had any real impact on the outcome apart from the initial clashes. I had them all on the table but it was obvious that if they were all let lose the 3 regiments of chasseur son the French side would soon be beaten off and the Prussians would have field day, so in the end I more or less matched the 3 French ones, but otherwise had them sat watching. I must re-read the accounts to see if I can get a better sense of what was happening. It may be that the majority was just assigned to flank guards, and in true light cavalry fashion didn't fancy getting involved in the mess of the battle!

There was also not as much town fighting as I expected, mainly since the gap from Hassenhausen to Poppel is pretty big and gave the armies enough to deploy, and Hassenhausen was taken very early - again worth a re-read.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Battle of Auerstedt - #2

Slow progress on this game as various real-life events have intervened, but finally getting back on track.

Currently at end Turn 21, so 7 hours in, about 1400. French are behind on the timetable, the push out from Hassenhausen (lower centre in photo) being frustrated by the density of Prussian troops forward of Poppel (top centre with church). However around 1300 major clashes on the French left flank (left of photo) came to and end and both sides had a couple of Brigades rendered hors d'combat and exiting the field. This has now opened things up considerably. However on the left flank the arrival of the Duke of Orange's men is enabling the Prussians to put up a firm new defensive line between Poppel and Gernstedt (top left of photo), although the arrival of Morand's Division is giving the French new men to throw into the fight.

French Right Flank -  Zackwar in background, French on right

The French are also progressing slowly on the right flank, finally moving on Zackwar (upper right of main photo), but initial results have been mixed - again Morand's men may enable them to push through.

The SLS rules are still working well. The big change I've made this time is how over/under strength works. It used to be +/-1 DM for every 15% difference in numbers, I then stretched that to about 30%, but I still found that it made big units almost invincible. So this time round I've broken with my "every unit has 5 damage" mantra, and instead let large units have a capacity for 6 damage. This means that they don't cause damage any worse than a smaller unit, and can take damage at the same rate, but they can absorb more of it - which seems a fair compromise. Working well so far.

The battle for Poppel

Once nice little vignette outside of Poppel. Three French bn from Lochet's 5e Bde fell on Prussian from Reynouard's Bde in front and S of Poppel (in the two now empty hexes above). The two on the French right won, but suffered heavy casualties. Whilst they were regaining order (and with Prussian Hussars loitering with intent N of the road sharpening their swords), the third bn lost its fight once a fourth Prussian bn joined the fray (those units now in front on church with red marker by them to denote disordered). The French battalion routed, and in a morale check took the adjacent recovering French unit with it. That then caused a morale check on the 3rd (most northerly) French Bn, which managed to stand, only to then be cut down by the Prussian Hussars as soon as they were activated. The Hussars then chased the routing French deep into French lines, and came to a halt, unformed, just by some French chasseurs. On their activation the chasseurs tried to charge the Prussians, but were too close for a full blooded charge, and anyway the hussars were effectively in open order, so the Frnehc just round through (both sides got the Open Ranks result - quite common for light cavalry). Come the next turn it will be a race to see who moves first, the Prussian hussars back to safety (but still disordered), or the French chasseurs trying to avoid another Open Ranks result!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Lancers of the Imperial Guard

Polish Lancers

June's painting batch, actually done in July and based in August, were the two regiments of Imperial Guard Lancers - 1st Polish and 2nd Dutch.

Polish Lancers command group

The figures are Newline 20mm, and 9 to a medium sized regiment (so about 1:33). I know that the Guard cavalry regiments were huge, but I already have two regiments in plastic, so all-in-all I should have about the right number of figures now.

Dutch Lancers - Young Guard at left

In doing the Dutch Lancers I discovered that about 1/3rd of their squadrons were "Young Guard" and so had blue, not red, uniforms, hence the blue guys on the left of the photo above. This may be why some eye-witness accounts mention being charged by blue lancers, even though some (one?) writer I've read then dismissed this with a "only the Dutch were at Waterloo so must have been mistaken" line.

Dutch Lancers - command and Young Guard

Monday, 24 July 2017

Hougoumont Weekend

Gardner's House is white building on left

Nick, Alan and I had a great weekend staying in the Landmark Trust apartment at Hougoumont. It sleeps 4 (2 bedrooms), and whilst not cheap it's a real experience as after the tourists and museum staff have gone home you've got the whole place to yourself!

The sitting room

The apartment is in the Gardner's House - the one above the South Gate. The Chateau itself was never rebuilt after the battle, and the Farmer's House was also pulled down - so it's the only accommodation building left - and you have all of its upper floor. There is a good sized living/dining room (4' x 4' table for gamers, and space to take a 6' x 4' board on it), galley kitchen, one bedroom on the same floor (who's outer window lets you shoot on those approaching the South Gate, toilet & shower rooms, and then upstairs another bedroom with an attic window above the South Gate.

The Gardener's House from inside the courtyard

The gardner's house from inside the courtyard. The flat occupies the row of windows on the top floor and attic.

The flat has a superbly stocked library of Waterloo books, and the walls are crammed with Napoleonic prints, so its a wonderful place to go to to soak up the atmosphere, walk the courtyard and walled gardens, and think what it must have been like in 1815. The son-et-lumiere show in the barn is pretty good (the new film in the main museum by the Butte is excellent by the way), and it's a useful small museum on the site (you have to pay).

Gardener's House from outside - South gate below

One interesting debate is those two filled in white windows - essentially the back of the living room now.

If you look at this contemporary print of the battlefield they are also shown as filled in:

1817 Print from 1815 sketch - William Mudford’s ‘Battle of Waterloo’, 1817

Event though almost every later painting and diorama shows soldiers shooting through them!

Were they blocked up following the battle - or were they like that during it!

The main modelling note though was that the main barns need thatched roofs not tile ones - so need some modelling clay to cover the tilework on the Hovels version!

I also took the chance to take a couple of 360/720 degree photosphere's, one in the courtyard and one in the garden/pasture. You can find them on Google Maps (activate Streetview man) at:

I took along the Command Magasine game of  Hougoumont: Rock of Waterloo to play. It's an SPI type boardgame with about 1 counter = 100 men/1 company. We didn't manage to play to completion as we started twice (the map now has atmospheric blood/wine stains across it), but it seems a good game although you do get a sense of playing to the rules not the scenario (our 2nd game looked very different to the first), and my feeling was that it is an easier  task for the French in real life.

I also had a set of simple skirmish rules for Hougoumont that we didn't get chance to play, and also tempted to try a scenario with Sharp Practice to get to some sort of Napoleonic Skirmish scenario for the place.

We also played a bit of D&D, but the big hit was Palazzo, a Rio Grande mid-size game, over in about 40-60 mins, interesting decisions on every turn - well recommended!

Alan and Nick playing D&D

All in all a great weekend, and well recommended.