Tuesday, January 17, 2017

WSS in Italy

The War of the Spanish Succession was not just confined to Flanders and Germany.  The French fought against the Imperial forces under Prinz Eugen in northern Italy for much of the conflict.  Bitter struggles in the foothills of the Alps.
Andy has long wanted to face my French with his ever expanding Imperial forces and so last night we got together at the Grimsby Wargames society to play a small game.
The French centre of six battalions that were meant to attack the enemy left flank
The table was covered with a series of small ridges and hills with numerous small woods scattered across the table.  All this made it difficult to co-ordinate the troops and to maintain lines of sight.
The French had nine battalions of line with twelve squadrons of horse, supported by two field pieces.  The Imperial troops had eight line battalions, twelve squadrons of horse, three squadrons of dragoons and three field pieces.  With the numbers against them the French decided to hold their left and to force the right by gaining a local numerical advantage.
The infantry holding the French right
 Like all plans it never survived first contact with the enemy.
the French left being divided by one of the numerous woods
The French set off on the left by sending six battalions further left to tackle the four enemy battalions facing them.  Unfortunately one of the small woods caused the formation to become disrupted and left the French facing the enemy on a one to one frontage.
the enemy counter moves
 The battle was decided very early in favour of the Imperial troops and it was only the grim determination of the French that prolonged the inevitable defeat.
After just a couple of moves the first line of the french exposed their right flank to the enfilading fire from two Imperial battalions.  At the same time the enemy dragoons had dismounted and moved through the woods to disrupt the French second line and prevent a co-ordinated response.
Picardie defeated
 Actually only suffering few casualties due to the incredible poor firing of the enemy, the french thought they would be able to survive that flanking move.  Then disaster struck.
Gonderin defeated
Two battalions only needed to score seven or over on two D6 to be okay (or at worst three on the same dice to survive), both in the front line and adjacent to each other.
Both rolled double one.
Both turned and fled.
the enemy press the French centre with superior numbers
This allowed the enemy to bring three battalions together to now face two battalions, one of which was just over half strength.  The result was inevitable and the French decided to withdraw from the field.

A good game played with some good friends and in a very friendly manner.  So my thanks to Andy for providing the opposition and to Mark & Ian for helping push the toys around.  All figures are from the collections of Andy and myself and all Front Rank, rules were our own house rules and scenery from the shelves of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Recent Purchases

So with money to burn from Christmas, inspiration from the figures that Roger brought along to the Great Northern war game last year (not to mention additional photographs on his blog "GA PA Great Northern War" (http://gapagnw.blogspot.co.uk/) and, some prompting from members of the A Military Gentleman forum who keep posting tantalizing images of their collections, I thought I'd invest a little more in to my library.

This may well lead you to suspect that there is a change in direction coming for this eighteenth century gamer.
Well yes & no.
The Ottomans were fighting against the Russians (as per my GNW collection), the Austrians (as per Andy's WSS collection) and the Swedes to some extent.  The Poles were aligned with the Swedes & the Saxons (but only the Saxons get the guard units) during the GNW.  So I can legitimately have collections of both sat on my shelf I think.
As to the size of those additions I haven't actually got much further than some rough mapping.
For the Turks I'm thinking of 1 in 4 of the cavalry units being Guard Spahi with the others being a mix of Spahi & other horse.  The foot will be 1 Janissary in 5 (the rest including some levy troops).
Polish forces will mostly be mounted with probably 8 squadrons of Pancerni, 2 squadrons Hussars, 2 squadrons of "European" horse & 2 squadrons of "European" dragoons.  Not got very far with the plans for the foot yet.
But first I need to finish the SYW project and get everything ready for the game in June at the AMG17 gathering.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Wargames Soldiers & Strategy issue 88

WSS issue 88 is out and I have an article concerning the Battle of Ramillies that the Grimsby Wargames Society re staged in August 2016.  
Unfortunately the accompanying photographs are not of that particular event, nor were they submitted by me.  The ones published are of the AMG game at Partizan in May 2015 which was a Seven Years re-imagining of the Battle of Ligny.  The figures in those photographs, which are uncredited in the magazine, were mostly from the collection of Phil Olley (although a few of mine manage to squeeze in an appearance - going backwards as usual) as were the buildings seen.  The terrain is teddy bear fur supplied by Graham Cummings.  The Grimsby Wargames Society was not involved in that event.  The other photograph showing Ramillies is from a game presented at salute but I do not know who the presenters were.

So as a means of recompense to the members of the Society that did help with the Ramillies game here are the photographs that I did submit.
Dutch infantry from my collection.  Figures from Front Rank & flag from Maverick Models.

French Guards from my collection.  All front Rank with a mix of Maverick Models and League of Augsberg flags.

Bavarians from the collection of Ashley Mann

Bavarian horse and Grenadiers Rouge from Ashley Mann

English foot from Mark Alcock.  Figures from Strategem

Andy Hamilton's Imperial  horse regiments being used as substitutes at Ramillies.  figures from front Rank with some Connoisseur horses used as alternative mounts.
Bavarian Cuirassiers from Ashley.

Bavarians defend Ramillies

The French centre with figures from my collection and those of Andy Sharp.  Andy uses Front  Rank & Old glory to create his units.

The french left at Ramillies.  Figures from Ashley Mann.
The Allied centre preparing to attack Ramillies.  English from Mark, Dutch & Danes from both Mark & my own collection.
Ashley's massed Bavarian foot
Action around Ramillies as the massed horse of both sides clash
A view from above Ramillies looking towards the French right
The French mounted reserve on the left flank moves forward
Towards the end of the day and the massed Allied horse begins to push back the French right flank at Ramillies.
I hope these go someway to redress the balance and my thanks again to all those who provided figures for the game.  Scenery in all the above was from the shelves of the Grimsby Wargames Society.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Last Game of the Year

With an unexpected day off and a desire to play a game before the close of the year, I managed to field my French against the English troops owned by Mark at the Grimsby Wargames Society.
So we found ourselves somewhere in Flanders with a couple of low rolling hills and some large woods, fighting for control of two small hamlets either side of the valley.
The French managed to bring the entire division of Guards (two battalions each of French & Swiss).
 Along with nine other battalions of French foot, including my favourites the Royal Italians and the Irish regiment Clare.  These were supported by four squadrons of horse from the Maison du Roi and twelve squadrons of line.
Mark  had eight battalions of foot and sixteen squadrons of horse.  Here I must apologise to Mark because I, incorrectly thought I had left a box at home and it was only on later review that I found I had duped him out of three battalions of foot.
The action started out on the French left with the horse sweeping forward against the enemy.  Then sweeping backwards as the English and Dutch horse over threw them in short order.
On the right the French guards advanced with the aim of turning the enemy flank and allowing the centre to advance.  A prolonged firefight broke out across the entire first line of the French and it was only the ability to feed in reserve battalions that maintained the pressure for so long.
 Eventually the French centre decided that it was time to attack and began their bold advance.
Met with stout resistance from the enemy the French never flinched and kept advancing, forcing the enemy lines back,
 The advance of the French guard had faltered by this point and, whilst the enemy foot were in no position to pursue, there was a regiment of horse on the extreme right of the line that threatened to envelope the French if they allowed.
On the French left it was now a matter of timing.  With little left to hold back the massed allied cavalry, could the centre break through before being enveloped?
Sadly no.  Having maintained their good morale throughout the entire battle, it was at this crucial moment the valour of the French gave way and the entire first line were forced to retire.  At the same time the French Guards had pulled back to the hamlet in order to preserve their morale and it was this reward move that gave the French army the excuse to fall back and leave the field.
So an allied victory to end the year and another French defeat.  The game was close, very close despite the uneven sides (although three of the French battalions were never used in anger I should point out so actually the amount of fighting troops was about the same).
We had quite a lengthy discussion about some aspects of the rules and how they are interpreted.  as such one of my aims for the next year is to up date them in accordance with some of the things we've changed and amended (some of the points values don't work proportionally, firing and fighting of elite troops to be amended, and a few tweaks to some of the mechanics).  Nothing too drastic although I am looking at the command and control system (there isn't much of one at the moment) to see if some of the questions we have are caused by this.

Still a great way to close the year and my thanks to Mark for providing such a good game and to James for the support as a fellow French player.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

So That Was Christmas

How do you measure whether you've had a good Christmas or not?
Is it the amount of family and friends that have visited?  In my case then it would be a reasonable one since the surviving relatives all called in over the last three days but several key members were missing this year which upset my wife.
Is it the food and drink?  Again reasonable - the booze was great the goose not so great (said it feeds eight but failed to neglect that they must be on strong appetite suppressors).
Is it the presents?  If so then this was good year.
An excellent bottle of single malt (Cardhu Gold Reserve) which was enjoyed whilst flicking through the three books for my expanding eighteenth century military library.  Throw in enough sweets to stock a shop along with a bundle of cash and vouchers and you can count me happy.
Disturbingly I think my family and friends are trying to tell me something because I received six bottles of high quality (and very nice fragrance) shower gel along with assorted after shaves and other smellies.  Hmmm.....

Christmas Day is a feast of family and friends all day.  Breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and then non-stop wining and dining, with games after dinner, until we eventually collapse in front of the TV around 11pm.

Boxing  Day is a more measured affair.  A day when we recover and recuperate.  A day when I get to paint figures undisturbed.
So my paint desk looks like this at the moment.
The first ten battalions of foot for the French SYW army are now mounted on bases at the very least.
Four have been completed. Mailly - which formed an entire brigade at Hastenbeck.
Two more now just need dry brushing and their flags added.  With two more having had the base painted but not with the Basetex applied.
 The final two have been grouted and now need sanding round the edges before the base can be completed.
The first two squadrons of horse have been glued to their bases and the second two varnished.

The next two are nearly at the wash stage with the black and browns to be block painted in before a wash with Vallejo Dark tone wash.

Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Review

It's about time for the obligatory look back over the past year.  And quite a year it's been but I'm not going to comment on the political upheavals or the number of well known faces that have passed on.

Two projects are getting closer to being finished.

The Great Northern War is nearer to the finishing line than the War of the Spanish Succession, largely due to the fact that I had to get the majority of the units ready for the "A Military Gentleman" event in June.  This event was one of the highlights of the year for me.  A gathering of twenty or so like minded wargamers, all with a particular interest in the eighteenth century, playing a series of games over a long weekend.  Whilst I only managed to umpire the game I was presenting, I have not enjoyed a weekend gaming as much as I did this.  Really looking forward to the AMG17 event.

The gaming year ended with the GNW as well when I hosted a game for Roger (http://gapagnw.blogspot.co.uk/).  Actually this was more of a long discussion about the period and our plans for it punctuated by moving figures around the table.  But it was another great day and one I'm hoping will turn into an annual event.

The WSS project did get a little encouragement this year as well.  Again mainly down to a pending deadline for a game.  This time Ramillies in August.  I added several more battalions of French and some Dutch for this game - our largest ever WSS game.  The game was probably not the unqualified success of previous attempts but was quite a spectacle nonetheless.  

Having said that we did present the WSS in a game at the first Partizan to be held in their new venue in May.  This was a success.  Nowhere near the size of Ramillies that came later, but still with several thousand figures on the table.  The amount of interest it generated and the applause it garnered was well beyond expectation.  Eclipsed only by the other game we presented at the same show.  

I used to get excited thrilled concerned about the number of figures I painted, or didn't paint, in a year.  This year, which has been productive, I've been more inclined to keep reducing the pile of lead and to focus on just a few things.  Deadlines for games are a wonderful way of providing motivation but even then if you don't want to paint something you'll not do your best work.  Having two projects to work on prevents some of the boredom setting in (oh no not another unit in grey) but even then the desire to paint can be dulled.  

So with a pending major operation and the knowledge that access to the loft and desk would be curtailed I decided to embark on a 15mm SYW French army.  Several reasons for that.  Firstly it would provide opposition for the Hessian force completed last year.  Secondly they involved a relatively simple paint pallet and thus easy to do on the dining room table.  This latter reason was also a great help during the R&R following surgery since I was able to sit at the table and do some of the recommended exercises whilst painting.

The last thing of note for this year is the success I have had in getting articles published.  Five to date (if you count the issue of WSS due next week) with another two pending.  Quite an achievement in that they nearly all deal with the early eighteenth century.  

So 2016 was a year of some truly great games, some very big games, a number of new friends made and some old ones lost, productive in terms of figures purchased and painted.  Not a vintage year but damned close.