Saturday, September 14, 2019

Some thoughts on British forces for the Woebetides

I originally focussed on the War of the Spanish Succession period for the Woebetides big game because of the availability of the Warlord (ex-Wargames Factory) plastic figures for the period.  Further research showed that this period coincided nicely with European pirates moving into the Indian Ocean and with the Mughal Empire beginning a slow but terminal decline.  Further research, however, throws up other considerations.  

Firstly, we need to bear in mind that India (and by extension the islands of the Indian Ocean) won't see British Army troops for another century or more.  The only "British" troops likely to have appeared in the Woebetides, if we follow history with any strictness, would be native sepoys employed by the East India Company.  At this time, sepoys would be native troops in their own clothing - a far cry from the uniformed sepoys of the Indian Mutiny period.

The guys in the bottom right of the picture below are probably what we'd expect to see.

This picture is of the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb in 1705, by the way, so spot-on for our period.  This one might work too...

It probably wouldn't be hard to recruit such forces in 28mm metal but this rather defeats the original object of reducing the buy-in cost of the event.  So what can we do to justify including conventional European infantry in our British forces for the Woebetides?

We could go the fictional route.  British units of the period were still, as I understand it, named after their Colonel.  Might perhaps some rich EIC investor have paid for a company or two of Colonel Mustarde's Regiment of Foot to be shipped out to protect his assets in the islands?

A perhaps more credible alternative (and we're talking alternative history here after all) is to add some marines to our forces.  The Royal Marines as such don't exist yet (although the Corps traces its history back to the founding of the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot in 1664) but six regiments of marine infantry were in existence during the War of the Spanish Succession.  Maybe if we add some important person to the mix (an ambassador to the Great Mughal perhaps) we might justify a company of Marines being sent along as his escort?

Another alternative troop type for the British would be militia raised from the civilian population of the nascent colony.  These would probably be less well-uniformed than their regular compatriots. The chap on the left, below, is a French Canadian but might perhaps give us some idea of how militia might look (minus the Native American moccasins).

The next step should be to work out the stats for these various troop types for Muskets & Tomahawks and/or Sharp Practice.  I'm still not decided as to rules though I'm leaning towards the latter.

Monday, August 26, 2019

When are Light Infantry not Light Infantry?

One of the aspects of the Sharp Practice rules that seems to cause the most confusion of new players is the terminology around light troops.

This is caused partly by some questionable decisions by the designers in choosing terminology and partly by the fact that contemporary military terminology was far from consistent with the needs of wargamers.

Which troops are light infantry?  Well the 1er Regiment d'Infanterie Legere are clearly light infantry in some sense (leger or legere being French for "light") and they'll have worn blue light-infantry breeches during the Napoleonic Wars but were they light infantry in Sharp Practice terms?  Probably not.  French "light" battalions, although in theory trained to operate as skirmishers, would usually find themselves fighting like any line battalion.

I think a Venn diagram is called for:

So some of the time, elements of the 1er Leger will be forming part of a skirmish line or running around in the hills in a loose swarm, making best use the available terrain and using aimed musket fire to dominate the enemy.  In this case they'll be treated as Skirmish Troops if we're playing a game of Sharp Practice.

There are three types of Skirmish Troops.  Light Infantry are the most professional and Irregular Skirmishers the least.  If fact our French skirmishers are "Skirmishers" - the third and intermediate class of Skirmish Troops.  In Sharp Practice terms they will be in Groups of six.

Most of the time, though, the guys of the 1er Leger are fighting in line.  They are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their comrades and if they fire, they do so without aiming, just pointing their muskets in the general direction of the enemy and firing to order.  In these circumstances they are treated as line troops and deploy in Groups of eight figures.

Skirmish Troops get to take a third action when activated (as long as that action is a move action).  This will apply to our 1er Leger men when they are fighting as Skirmishers (i.e. the second class of Skirmish Troops) in Groups of six figures.  It will not apply to Groups of eight Legers fighting in line.

Hopefully this post will be useful in future when this issue comes up again on the TFL Forum or the Facebook group.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Virgin and the Rearguard

Last weekend I ran a playtest of the Sharp Practice 2 game I plan to run at Ebor Lard in November.

The game is set in 1860s Mexico.  Ron and Jamie played the invading French whilst Phil and I played the Mexican republicans.

I don't want to reveal too much about the plot so I'll content myself with providing a few pictures here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Pavis Storeys part 1

Richard Helliwell of Infinity-Engine very kindly sent me a prototype version of his 28mm MDF houses for Pavis.  He' seen the houses I'd built so far and wanted to know what I'd make of the model.

The pack Richard sent would allow me to build two single storey house or one two-storey.  I decided to go with the latter. I originally intended to blog through the process of building the model but it soon became apparent that this was an early prototype with a few fixes needed.  It wouldn't be fair, I decided, to vent my frustrations in public when what I ought to do was to provide honest feedback direct to Richard.

So let's have a look at where we ended up.  First of all, I should point out that I've added the Tetrion plaster coating to the walls.  In addition, the wooden shutters are an addition of my own.

As you can see, the model has a rather nice external staircase and a balcony, both additions that didn't previously figure among my Pavis buildings.

In the shot above you can see a change I've made to the basic building.  The original ground-floor front window was a single large aperture, about three times as wide as it was high.  To me this looked too twentieth-century Earth.  I couldn't see it working without a steel RSJ.  As a fix, I blocked off the centre section with some spare MDF to make the wide window into two smaller ones.

If I had the time again I'd consider scoring planking on the roof but I was anxious to get going with the build so I've ended up using a paint effect to simulate the look of planks.

Some resin is used in the model.  The exposed ends of the roof beams are resin pieces inserted into pre-cut holes in the tops of the walls.  The doors are nice, double-sided resin pieces that slide into slots in the wall pieces.

I've left the roof and the floors removable.  The lines where they separate are a bit obvious but there's some nice internal detailing in the model that I wanted to take advantage of.  I haven't yet completed this so that can wait for a future blog post.

I'm pretty pleased with how the model came out.  I've suggested some changes to Richard but we'll have to see what he takes on board.

In part two I'll show you the interior and what I've done with some accessories that Richard included with the model.

All that remains for now is to thank Richard profusely and to to advise you all to visit the Infinity-Engine site and look out for the production version of the Pavis houses when they come along.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

If it's August, this must be Claymore

So that's the third time I've been up to Edinburgh for the Claymore show.  It's almost like it's my local event! Well to be honest, I love Edinburgh as a city - even at Festival time.  I'll be back there later in the year.

I did manage to get the three packs of Thirty Years War cavalry I was after from Baccus.  I also bought some pike and shot era civilians (28mm this time) from Warlord and from a box of figures going cheap on one of the trade stands.  From Richard and Mark on the Scotia Grendel stand I bought one resin dungeon bits that will add detail to my foam-core tunnel complex.  And finally, I also bought a pack of 28mm farm animals from Magister Militia.  These will see action in a future Sharp Practice game.

That aside, here are some pics of games at the show.

This lovely Gordon-at-Khartoum diorama was alongside a very pretty looking Sudan war game by The Iron Brigade...

The stone fort was very nice.  It's a remarkably lightweight resin and cast foam structure from a German manufacturer and apparently comes ready painted!

Spot the ubiquitous Renedra tents!

There was a large, 28mm Vietnam (Hue?) game by a group I'd not come across before called SPIT Wargames.  According to a tee-shirt I saw this stands for something like "Stupid Projects in 28 Mil"!

Interesting way of doing flight stands...

The Falkirk and District club did the SAS raid on Pebble Island.  Don't think I've ever soon so many Pucaras at one time...

One of the prettiest games was this Great Northern War Russians v Turks set up.  I think it was by the League of Augsburg guys....

Although I'm not a fan of Wild West games (or movies come to that), I was very impressed the Kirriemuir club's terrain...

It was nice to see a To The Strongest game in play and Claymore Castings' Harlaw 1411 looked good...

Finally, among the prettiest games on offer was this Napoleonic naval action by the Border Rievers...

Friday, August 2, 2019

Planning with beer

This evening’s blog update comes as I sit in the beer garden of the Salmon Inn in Galashiels. I’ve had a very passable beef and haggis burger and now I’m planning my purchases for Claymore tomorrow.

Ironically, having come all this way I’m expecting most of my focus to be on Thirty Years War models from, yes, Sheffield’s own Baccus 6mm.

Inspired by two Swedes (Per Broden on playing smaller games with 6mm models and Michael Leck on Thirty Years War The Pikemam’s Lament) I’m planning a portable mini-game that can be played in an hour or so on a pub table.

Michael’s blog has the outline of a scenario based on the death of Gustavus Adolphus at the battle of L├╝tzen in November 1632. I reckon that three bags of Baccus cavalry (one each of cuirassiers, horse (hat), and dragoons) should do the job.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Raid on Ogre Island

On Saturday I ran the latest game in my Song of Pavis mini-campaign.  This was Raid on Ogre Island, in which two parties of attackers (one a party recruited by the Cult of Pavis, the other a Storm Bull warband) disrupted a ceremony run by a Broo priest.

The action took place on an island in the River of Cradles within the Rig Rubble of Pavis.  In the picture below the Storm Bulls entered from the boat at top right and the Cult of Pavis from a raft just off-picture at bottom right.  The Broo (and their allies) began around the altar in the centre of the board.

Mark Preston, in his first wargame, ran the Broos.  They were accompanied by a Scorpion-man and a Jack-o-Bear.

Jamie was in charge of the Cult of Pavis war party.  They were a mix of adventurer types including a Flintnail Dwarf and a Morokanth.

 And young gamer Sam ran the Storm Bulls.

The objective of the Cult of Pavis was to recover a set of scrolls that the Broo leader was using to perform a ritual at the altar.  The Storm Bulls, of course, just wanted to "Kill Chaos!"  And the creatures of Chaos themselves?  Well they just wanted to survive and kill things!

Hench and Slaghammer of the Cult of Pavis take on
Greensting the Scorpion-man 
The Storm Bulls arrive!

Having seen off Hench and caused Slagghammer
to flee, Greensting and a Broo attack the Morokanth.

Whilst a fierce melee goes on between the remainder of the Chaos faction
and the Storm Bulls. 

Almost unnoticed, The Thief made off with the scrolls.
Do you have the scrolls?
No, I always walk like this.
The Storm Bulls, having driven off or killed most of the Broo
decided to have a go at the Cult of Pavis party next.  The Pavic
leader Kiger Hawkwing would go down under their blows...

... while Slaghammer the dwarf and Belloth Thighcrusher the
Morokanth fought the last of the Broos.
The battle ended with all three of the warbands at about half strength.  Several figures had fled and a number lay dead.  The Storm Bulls had possession of the field but the Cult of Pavis had escaped with the mysterious scrolls.

As the Cult of Pavis are one of the three factions scoring points on the on-going campaign ladder (along with the Lunars and the Orlanthi Rebels) we rolled to see what had actually happened to their "dead".

Kiger and Hench both escaped despite wounds that will keep them out of the next action. Slaghammer the Dwarf was more fortunate; able to throw off his wounds, he will be back next time.

So with two skirmishes fought, both the Lunars and the Cult of Pavis have one win each.