Monday, August 29, 2016

Ramillies Restaged

Saturday 27th August saw the culmination of a project I have been planning for a considerable time.  The Grimsby Wargames society has several players who have an interest in the War of the Spanish Succession.  That interest has led us to collect a large number of figures, for a wide variety of manufacturers, for the period.  Saturday was one of the few occasions when we can get most of these on to a tabletop and fight a large battle.
As the title of the post says, the battle for this occasion was Ramillies.  Arguably Marlborough's greatest victory.  The battle pits almost evenly matched numbers of troops against each other in a confrontational engagement in almost a classic style.
The view an hour before start as the final figures are put in place.  Ramillies is in the centre left of the photograph.
Together we combined nearly 5,000 figures.  All in 28mm in battalions of an average figure strength at 32 but varying from 30 to 54.   Squadrons of horse we kept to approximately 6 figures no matter the nationality.  Overall we had seventy battalions of foot and one hundred and fifty squadrons of horse.  Eighteen field pieces completed the on table deployment.  The table was twenty two feet in length and six feet deep (extending to eight feet deep along one edge).
The first wave of the French horse with the Maison du Roi in the front.
 Six players turned up for the event, a reduction from the original estimate and a little cause for concern since each would have a large number of figures to command.  But the rules are quick and very brutal so the numbers would be reduced very quickly as the game played.
Bavarian foot from the paintbrush of Ashley.  Very nice they looked and they performed admirably on the day.
 The Allied and French commanders were given individual briefings and a range of additional victory conditions.  These were chosen to try and reflect some of the key events of the actual battle without removing the players desire to fight the battle their way.
English horse and dragoons from Mark.
 With plans set and decisions made the game started with a fairly tentative advance from the Allies.  A short move forward to allow more of their reserves to appear.  The French watching without committing anything.  The Allies had decided to move most of their second line over to their left before the game started.  These duly began appearing and series of large cavalry melees commenced on the flat ground around the village of Taviers on the banks of the Mehaigne.
with Tilly on the allied left conducting marching exercises to try and confuse the French.  The French saw a large gap opening and began a descent from the slope between Offus and Autre-Eglise.
This did rather denude the right flank of the Allies and despite the best efforts of Tilly to disguise this (he marched his troops left and right for a large portion of the morning to cover the gap) the French took advantage and began an advance.
Just one of a series of large sprawling cavalry melees that were fought over the course of the morning.
Neither side could gain an advantage initially with their horse.  The first melee sucked in almost half of the French forces.  Unfortunately the Allies kept delivering more and more reserves and overwhelmed the French in the end.
Bavarian foot deploying into lines.
 Time had been gained though to have the Bavarians deploy and close off some of the open ground.
 The confused fighting on the ground between Ramillies and Taviers continued all day and only cleared as the Dutch guard slowly marched forward clearing everything in its path.

Robbie, James & Ashley wondering how they lost to Mark & Mike
By the end of the day the Allied right had been defeated but the victorious french were not in a position to exploit that.  The Allied centre and been pushed back across the Petite Geet.  but most telling was the French right which was on the point of collapse and a hoard of reasonably fresh Allied cavalry poised to exploit the advantage that would have been presented.
A close run thing and a marginal victory to the allies based on the number of victory conditions fulfilled.

The rules were our own "Corporal John & the Sun King" set.  Quick, simple and brutal which reward historical play and punish unhistorical tactics.  Easy to understand and with three players unfamiliar with the rules there was little need to discuss them after a few moves.
Figures from the collections of Mark, Andy H, Ashley and Andy S.
Scenery & layout from the extensive resources of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

A terrific day and a great looking game played in a friendly and well mannered way, despite the lack of spots on Robbie's dice.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Other Partizan

Sunday saw the Grimsby Wargames Society proudly set sail and steer a course for Newark and "the Other Partizan" wargames show.  This would be the second show hosted by the Irregulars at the Newark showground - their new venue.  The first had been almost universally well received with the venue being light and airy, albeit without the character of Kelham.  That last show had, I understand, a significant increase in attendance and this, the other, show would be a test given that numbers were usually down for the second show.
The organisers should be congratulated though because it was busy.  Very busy.  All day.  The last visitor to our game was around just thirty minutes before the official end of the show.  I'm also led to believe that attendance was up again against expectations.
 With a limited amount of resources this time we decided to put on just a single game and since the Dutch naval game had received much interest that was the obvious choice.  So the two large fleets of English and Dutch ships were presented for the demonstration.  Rather than refight each of the four days of the battle we decided to demonstrate a rather new and simple fast play set of rules for the period.  with just two players the rules allowed all of the ships to be used and a major engagement fought.
Indeed at one point I was asking the players to slow down because the table was becoming denuded with usable ships.
 Those ships are all from Langton Miniatures and are just exquisite.  From the talented hand s of Steve, Andy & Malcolm, they reward patience and effort.
 I spent all of my time at the show talking to lots of people.  They were a great mix of those with an interest in naval affairs and those completely new to the idea of fighting at sea.  It was a great pleasure to meet so many people and to spend time enjoying and celebrating the hobby.
 After all isn't that what a shows about?  Celebrating the diversity and creativity of the wide ranging nature of the hobby rather than trying to bring those who have success down?
 My thanks to Andy & James the two fleet commanders for the day.  Also to Steve & Malc, who although were unable to attend the show allowed us to play with their lovely models.  Thanks also to the Grimsby wargames Society fore their help and support in getting this game there and with the supporting material provided.
A very big thank you to the Newark Irregulars for providing such a great platform for the show and for giving us the opportunity to attend.
Finally thanks to all those who came along and spent a little time listening to me blather.

I didn't get much opportunity to do anything other than spend my day at the stand and a very brief walk round.  however, from what I saw the games were all of  a very high standard and well presented.  It looked to be a really good show if you were a visitor with much to see and get involved in.

Friday, August 19, 2016


It is a source of amazement to me that, in this digital age when everything is on a smart phone or tablet at the click of a button just about anywhere, there are still three paper magazines in existence.  This is clearly a good thing and must be a sign of the vibrancy of the hobby.

 I have subscriptions for two of them - one paper and one digital and buy the other occasionally.  My preference is for the paper version of a magazine and not just because I feel more comfortable laid in the bath having a good long soak and reading a paper magazine then my holding my tablet (and that's not a euphemism).  It's actually because with a digital version I find myself not reading it but skimming through and only looking at the bits that take my fancy.
 I find the paper version more comforting and actually read proportionally more of it.  I think this is in part because after a day at work using a computer and then coming home and catching up with other "stuff" on the Internet (no not that stuff - there is more than porn out there you know), reading a digital magazine holds less appeal that a nice glossy magazine.
Over the last few months my opinions about magazines have changed considerably.  I used to hold that some were not worth buying, some occasionally and some always worth it.  Now I think that each of them has merit and if we want to continue with the vibrant diversity we have then we should support them in whatever measure we think is in our interest.
Having had several long conversations with some of the editors I have a deeper understanding of why issues vary so much in quality content month to month.  If we want to improve that content then get writing and submit an article or three.
Worried about photographs?  No need to be because many of those that I've submitted have been taken with a smart phone on the highest setting and I've been very pleased with the way that they've come out in the magazines.
Worried about what to write?  Start with Henry's "Wargaming my Way" column and just explain why you do what you do.  I enjoyed that and really liked the most recent one from Steve Jones in MWBG 401.
The magazines have been a long standing part of our hobby and some have gone by the wayside (I fondly remember "Battle" and really miss "Practical Wargamer").  We have three catering for us and a quick survey of the shelves of your magazine outlet would suggest that we are punching above our weight in terms of the other hobbies out there.  Long may it continue but it does need us to contribute to them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

War of the Spanish Succession Game

Last night saw Andy and myself, with some help from my son James, refight a small unknown incident from the War of the Spanish Succession.  During the war one of the Danish commanders, whose name has been lost to time, was in a conference with a commander of a small Imperial force discussing the finer points of a campaign in northern France.  During this conference the discussion became quite heated and a valuable silver service set was badly damaged.  So outraged were the two commanders that they immediately set their forces against each other and a fierce and bloody struggle ensued.
The Danish forces numbered some four battalions, including the Livgarde, and nine squadrons of horse.  Their Dutch allies had four battalions and six squadrons of dragoons.  Facing them the Imperial troops were ten battalions, twelve squadrons of horse and six squadrons of dragoons.
The Danes were on the left of the Allied line and were out numbered with five battalions facing them.  Despite a gallant forward move and the fierce firefight that ensued, it was the Danes that had to retire with heavy losses.  The Danish horse though were able to hold their own against the Imperial troops and prevent a complete collapse of the left wing.
The Dutch on the right had a more difficult task as the Imperial troops advanced in column towards them and outflanked the wood on the Dutch right.  This needed the Dutch commander to dispatch all of his dragoons and a supporting infantry battalion to prevent his lines being rolled up.
In the ensuing struggle the Dutch dragoons were gallant in their defence and held up the Imperial advance all day.
Meanwhile the Dutch lines were able to push back the Imperial troops with very heavy losses and completely destroy the enemy centre.
So heavy were the Imperial losses and so much ground had been lost to the Allies that the Imperial commander decided to leave the field.  

Of course this is a completely fictitious event and was purely an excuse to get my new Dutch troops on to the table before the Ramillies refight next weekend.  
 Those new troops included a battalion of Ebor figures marching under flags from Maverick Models.
 I don't find these the easiest figures to paint but they are very nice and look good when finished.  They do have some great movement to the character figures, although the action of the drummers looks awkward.
I would point out that Nick at Ebor uses a very soft metal and with very thin muskets they are more fragile than other makes.
 The other regiment was  from Front Rank and are robust to say the very least.
 Quicker to paint than Ebor and I think this is because the folds in the tunic are fewer and more easily identified.  Again with flags from Maverick Models.

One thing I do like about front Rank is that he has given the Dutch troops an Oak leaf sprig in their hats which was a field recognition sign.  Ebor don't.

 The rules used were our own "Corporal John & the Sun King" and this will be the set used for the refight.  Quick, bloody and buckets of dice.  Simple.

My thanks to Andy for providing me with a game and an enjoyable evening and for fielding his lovely Imperial troops to play against.  Thanks also to James for being gallant and playing the outnumbered Danes.  All scenery is from the stores of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Monday Night is Games Night

Monday is traditionally the night where the club has most historical wargaming going on.  Last night was no exception with three large games taking place.

I was involved with a Seven Years War game playing Austrian with tony against James & Andy fielding a combined force of Prussians & Hessians.
Two large brigades of Austrians were holding a ridge line defending a road through a wide and lightly wooded area.  The Prussians were tasked with removing them from the ridge.
 Unfortunately for the Prussians whilst they could march rings around the Austrians their quatermaster seemed to have provided a relatively poor supply of powder and the musketry was ineffective at best woeful at worst.  In contrast the Austrians were able to force each of the attacks back with ease.
Rules used were Honours of War and gave a relatively quick game but somehow it seemed unsatisfying.
Perhaps it was the dominance of the Austrian artillery.  Rated as superior in the rules they were particularly effective hardly ever missing a shot, and when used in combination a pair of batteries were devastating.
Perhaps it was the dice rolling which was above average for the Austrians.  It seemed that we rolled a disproportionate number of 5's but that is just luck and nothing to do with the rules.
Perhaps it was the relatively small numbers of Prussians that had been given a difficult task and in hindsight another brigade would have been appropriate for them.
Either way the rules played simply and worked - just don't ask for a review from Andy just yet.
The Austrians from Tony's collection are lovely.  The Cuirassiers above and the infantry below show his skill in painting and presentation.

Andy's Prussians, above and below, aren't too shabby either and are a delight to play with.
 Elsewhere in the club there was a large 10mm Hail Caeser game.  John & Mike with their Celtic hordes trying to break through the Imperial Roman lines held by Andy & Malcolm.
 The final game of the night was a 28mm Napoleonic game with Chris and his British facing Mark and his French coalition army.
A busy night indeed.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Return and a Game

So I'm back after a bit of R&R.  Ten days exploring the South coast from Plymouth to Brighton was a welcome break from the tears and travails of working life.  
In that time we managed to see an awful lot of interesting and exciting places from the Mary Rose, Victory and Mayflower museum to a tour of Brighton courtesy of Henry Hyde from Miniature Wargames (thanks for that Henry - a very nice thing to do).  At some point I'll get around to doing some blog posts about some of the places visited but for now you'll have to settle for a game review.

Saturday saw James and myself get the Great Northern War collection out for probably the last time this year and have a game.  Just the two of us and with James playing the role of the Russians.
Sixteen battalions of Russian foot with support from eight squadrons of horse and a couple of light guns, facing ten battalions of Swedes with eight squadrons and three light guns (not that they saw any action).  Both sides had entered the flood plain of a meandering river which was fordable along the entire length, and tasked with securing a cross roads at the far end of the table.
The Russians elected to gain the small ridges that lined the flood plain and wait for the Swedish foot.
The Swedes tried to be clever.  On their right two battalions would aim to pin down the four Russians facing them whilst the central six battalions would try and punch through the Russian lines.  This attack would be supported by two battalions on the Swedish left swing round and pushing the Russians into the middle.  At the same time the Swedish dragoons were to hold off the superior numbers of Russian horse whilst Charles would lead his drabants into the centre to exploit any gaps.
As I said a clever plan.  Too clever as it turned out.
 The Russians refused to advance from the ridge and so the Swedes were forced to ford the river and try and tempt them from their position.  However the Russian infantry managed to repulse the Swedes with ease and force them back over the river.
On the Swedish right the Russians were suffering badly in the melees but refused to break.  Despite losing every round of melee the Russian resolve held firm and with superior numbers able to repulse two infantry attacks from the Swedes.
It was much the same story in the center.  The Swedes just couldn't break the morale of the Russian foot and the longer the action continued the more the Swedish casualties mounted.
In the end the Swedes had to admit defeat and retire having lost three battalions, the same as the Russians, but a far greater proportion of their forces.

A very good game and full credit to James for using the Russian strength in numbers to his advantage.

It was a game that helped me to decide that the rules used (my own "Swedish Lion Russian Bear") were just about right.  After the three games at the recent AMG16 event (see earlier posts), where the Swedes had won a convincing three times in a row, I was wondering whether the Swedes were too powerful.  This game showed that the Russians could defeat the Swedes and provide a balanced game.  

Great fun and a good way to end the holiday.

Figures are all from my collection and are Footsore Miniatures.  Scenery and table settings from the shelves of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On Vacation

Two weeks away.  Going to try very hard to leave the phone off and avoid emails.