Thursday, October 29, 2015

Polish Army Completed

Having taken a much-needed week off work, I've managed to make considerable progress on a number of projects, al in 6mm scale.  In particular, I've finished my late 16th/early 17th century Poles.

The army consists of two units of Valack light horse (front row), one unit of winged hussars and six of pancerny (second and third rows), and two of infantry (rear row).

One potential commander for the army is King Jan Sobieski (below).  He's a conversion of a Baccus Cossack.

The figures represent most of a Baccus Great Northern War Polish Army Pack.  The exceptions are the blue-coated drabant infantry (rear rank in the photo above) and Jan Sobieski's janissary guard (in the rear rank in the photo below).  The drabants are repurposed Russian streltsy (Baccus) while the jannisaries are from the Irregular Miniatures Ottoman Turks range.

These four-base units (the hussars and drabants are actually based as two small bases and a double-width centre) are ideal for Maurice or as standard-sized units for Black Powder.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fiasco 2015

As Jamie had come down to Sheffield for the weekend, it made sense to take in Fiasco on our way back to York.

In a nice touch, this year's entry tickets were provided in the form of laser-cut MDF; 60mm by 40mm with radius corners.  I suspect this is a standard basing size; Flames of War?

Fiasco is a medium-sized show in a single hall opposite the Royal Armouries.   It has a concentric floor plan with traders lining the walls and down the centre of the hall.  Surrounding them, normally, is a complete ring of demonstration and participation games.

I say "normally" because this year there were several empty tables.  I was left with a distinct impression that this year's show was short on inspiring games.  As a result I didn't take too many photographs.

This 15mm WW2 Eastern Front game was nice.  Not sure how many teddy bears died to provide the fur.

I liked the village:

This large, Western Desert, Rapid Fire game was just inside the front door.

There was a Napoleonics game that might have been based on Borodino:

And finally, I photographed some Ratmen (I think).  Not really sure why other than that I didn't have my glasses on and thought I could study them in more detail from a photo later.  You can click to embiggen:

Shopping-wise I spent most money with Baccus (as usual).  I decided to get the makings of a small Hunnic force.  Jamie had been saying he'd like to try them, and when I've only painted a few of them they'll still be useful as foederati for the Romans.

I also bought some terrain bits from Mick at Leven Miniatures - a pack of greenhouses and sheds , and another of fountains and plinths.  Both will be great for adding detail to urban terrain in 6mm.  An Italian-style building with a covered portico at the front may yet be used as a roadside mansio for ancient Roman games

Finally, I bought a small, round, ruined Greek-style temple that will go into the box of bits I'm gradually acquiring before making a serious start on my Pavis project.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Adrianople, 378CE

Note: edited 28/10/15 after Andy reminded me of an incident I'd omitted from the original account.

Today's Saturday Afternoon Wargame (TM) saw Arthur Woodward and Phil Gray as, respectively, Emperor Valens and Bacurius the Iberian, take on a Visigoth army led by Jamie Crawley and Andy Sangar.  The game was based on the account of the battle of Adrianople written by Ammianus Marcellinus.   The battle was fought in 378CE in what is now Bulgaria.

The battlefield was particularly marked by a large, though gently sloped, hill on top of which was the Gothic waggon laager.

I didn't have a suitably sized half-hill so I marked the position of the slope with Scenic Effect clumps.  The Three squares of the camp were highest, with the surrounding seven squares than being lower but still higher than the rest of the area.

Only Andy had played before so we started off with a run-through of the rules and then it was straight into the action with deployment.

The Goths started out with only one command, all infantry, on the table.  This command consisted of six units of Javelinmen (two of them deep units), four of bow-armed light infantry, and one General (Fritigern, the Goth overall commander).  The presence of but one general in the initial force would prove to be a problem for Jamie as we will see later.

The Romans, meanwhile, had a much longer battle line with all of their forces deployed on-table from the start.  They followed the usual pattern of a strong infantry centre flanked by cavalry wings.

The Roman left wing cavalry prepares to advance

The field of battle with the armies deployed.

The Roman commanders radiated quiet confidence
My scenario had the Goth cavalry arriving on both flanks on the player turn following the first Roman unit occupying one of the hill squares beneath the Gothic laager.

The Romans advanced across the field in a well-ordered array.  The Goths waited.  And waited. Largely as a result of Jamie's first three draws of counters being ones!  As a result, the first hour of the afternoon saw arrivals, one of them delayed, and a teach-in on the rules, and still got two game turns completed!  Andy, whose late arrival doomed him to the twin role of the two Gothic cavalry commanders, was an interested spectator throughout.

The Roman army advanced...

... and advanced some more, finally crashing into the Goth infantry at the base of the hill.  From now on the action would be concentrated in a narrow ban at the base of the hill.  So far all so historical.

The Roman left wing cavalry about to swing round onto the flank of the Goth army

Goth skirmishers about to be ridden down by Roman cavalry

At this point it became apparent that, while I'd told Andy that his cavalry would arrive when any Roman elements reached the slopes below the camp, I'd forgotten to give the same information to  Jamie, who was defending perhaps a little too far forward.

The Romans stopped below the hill to concentrate their attacks on key points in the Goth line, unknowingly delaying the arrival of Fritigern's rescuers.

Eventually, however, Jamie saw the merit of fully occupying his fortified camp and withdrew some units thus drawing the Romans on.

In the foreground the Roman cavalry have turned to face along the Goth line. Goth javelinmen face them.
The units off-table to the left further back are those actually manning the camp
squares in front of them.
At this point the Goth cavalry arrived; four units on each flank, behind the Romans who had started to envelop the camp.  This led to confused cavalry melees on both sides whilst Arthur's Roman infantry still tried to force their way into the camp.

Early in this fighting, Bacurius the Iberian (the commander of the Roman cavalry on the left) killed by a Gothic spear.  As a result of this and other casualties, Bacurius's command became demoralised and could no longer charge enemy units.  Unable to take the initiative, Phil started to withdraw his men to save them for future battles.

Meanwhile on the other side of the field, in a typical piece of TTS! play, Phil drew a 4 counter to manoeuvre these two Roman cavalry units (below, left) into a position where the front one could charge the Goth cavalry (right).  He then needed to draw a 5 or greater to make the charge.  He drew a one.  "Never mind", he said, "The General's with them; I can draw again!"  Alas he drew another 1.

This was the last straw for Phil.  He decided to withdraw his cavalry to fight another day.  This left Arthur on one Victory Medal.  If he lost one more unit the battle was lost.

On the other hand, the Goths were down to just six victory medals.  With camp squares worth three Victory Medals each, if the legions could just fight their way over the wagons...

And they did!  With one third of the camp taken the Goths were down to just three Victory Medals.

Unfortunately for Arthur, at this point one of his remaining units was lost and with it the last Victory Medal. The Roman host began to disintegrate and the battle was lost.

I'm very pleased with how this game went.  All of the players seemed to enjoy it and I think it will play faster next time now that we have a number of players who know what's going on.  I plan to run another game as November's Saturday Afternoon Wargame.

Thank you to all of the players for making this a most enjoyable afternoon.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Die Fahrbahn ist ein graues Band

What happened in my 1969 action?

The central reservation of the autobahn (treated as a wall) divided the battlefield into two so little could happen until the British reached that point.

The Chieftain squadron advanced on the left and took up a firing position opposite the two rocky hills on the Soviets’ right.

Anxious not to lose large amounts of infantry to direct fire whilst they were still in their battle-buses, I debussed some and had them advance across the autobahn on foot.

Just before the British infantry dismount
Meanwhile the Soviets had their infantry deployed on the edge of the built up area; the walled orchard in particular forming a strongpoint.

The T-34/85s I deployed hull-down on the central hill whist the IT-130s were on the larger hill on the Soviets’ right.  The 122mm howitzers sat somewhere centrally.

It fairly quickly became clear that the Chieftains were going to dominate their part of the battlefield. Hull down behind the central reservation they were able to pick off one of the IT-130s straight away.

With my Soviet hat on I decided to have a go at concentrating fire against the Chieftains by moving the T-34s, IT-130s and 122mm howitzers into position.  Sadly I rolled the second of three Soviet command blunders in the middle of this process.  The Chieftains first took out the 122s in short order and then maneuvered into a position where, despite opportunity fire from the IT-130s, they could get flank shots on and kill the T34s.

It was then down to a scrap between the infantry on the edge of the built up area.  The Soviet company holding the orchard proved indestructable but by the end of turn 8 there were enough British infantry in the last third of the table to clinch the victory.

I really enjoyed this game.  CWC is fun and a small game like this can be played to a conclusion in no time.  I'm going to keep an eye for more opportunities to build early Cold War kit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Wir fahr'n, fahr'n, fahr'n auf der Autobahn

As I said in the previous post, I fancied a little solo late 60s Cold War Commander.

For the Brits I chose to deploy a squadron (4 models) of Chieftain Mk2, a battalion of infantry in FV432s, some Abbotts in support, a recce Ferret and of course my new Landrover/Swingfire combo.

For the Soviets I have a little more choice.  This time I went with three IT-130s, three T-34/85s, three BTR-60Ps with infantry and three 122mm towed howitzers.  Oh, and a PT-76 in the recce role.

The terrain was an anonymous section of West Germany crossed by an autobahn.  I'm playing the Exploitation scenario from the book.  The attacking British are a little over 2000 points, the Soviets just over 1000.

And you know what, it's great fun.  Having played a couple of turns I came upstairs to start typing this posting and sort out some paperwork but I couldn't resist going back for another, midnight-ending turn which culminated in the Soviet CO rolling a command blunder and getting himself suppressed by friendly fire just as the British infantry crossed the central reservation of the autobahn.

More tomorrow!

The Latest 1960s Technology

Having struggled with Renaissance POW for a week I decided to have a go at something I don't have to wrestle with.  I'm going to have another little solo game of Cold War Commander using 1960s kit.

In 1969, the British Army's  20 Trials Unit was evaluating the mounting of the Swingfire missile system on long wheelbase Landrovers.  I decided to have a go at building one.

The resulting unit is the result of a couple of hours' work on Monday evening and a further ten minutes on Tuesday morning to finish off the dry brushing and to attach the static grass.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Further RenPOW testing

I've persevered with my testing of Renaissance Principles of War throughout the last week playing a turn here and there.

I think I'm beginning to get the hang of how it's meant to work.  The rules are definitely in need of something; better internal referencing would be good, perhaps more sub-headings, and some more explanation of the intent of some of the rules.

Anyway, there's a major melee going on in front of the Polish infantry where they are drawn up along their ridge (background of the pic below)...

...whilst the Turkish infantry are just beginning their march towards the action having received new orders from their C-in-C...

I think the two Polish Hussar units are still destined to play a key role in the battle.

Whilst the Turkish right flank cavalry command may yet wreak havoc on the Polish left.

A couple of questions remain unanswered so far:

1. If a unit is still in melee after last turn and is charged in the flank can it evade? I guess not.

2. If a unit attempts to evade but fails, can it shoot?  I guess not.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Giving RenPOW a try

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've decided to try out my Turks and Poles as their seventeenth century versions using the Renaissance Principles of War rules.

I'm doing this solo and I decided to make it a bit more interesting by plotting out multiple possible orders for each side and then selecting randomly.  I did so thusly:

Sorry, the green lines for the Polish orders aren't too clear.  Neither of the redeployments (top right of each chart) took place and the selected orders are shown circled.

The RenPOW rules (I'm using the first edition) aren't easy to pick up.  They could certainly do with more examples.  At first I missed the rule that you can't charge as a group.  I also defaulted to a HOTT mindset and lined units up perfectly, which you don't need to do.

The rules could be clearer on things like how far retiring troops and pursuers move.  What happens if pursuers catch retirers?  There are rules for what happens if pursuers hit other enemy troops but not what happens if they hit troops they've previously caused to flee.  At least as far as I can see.

That's what's happening here, by the way.  Unit 1 of Polish Winged Hussars has pursued and caught to Shaken units of Feudal Sipahi.  Do they fight again now?  Edit: Gods this is frustrating!  The section on Pursuit (pg 28) talks about troops who may/must pursue after a melee opponent retires or routs but isn't clear on how far it moves.  Meanwhile the Charge Reaction section on pg 16 talks about units whose opponents evade, retire or rout moving forward immediately by 2" (or occasionally 3").  At no point does it refer to this as "Pursuit" but I'm now guessing (from absence of evidence to the contrary rather than from positive evidence) that this is what it means.  So the Winged Hussars in the pic should be 12cm further back!

Otherwise the two turns or so of action has gone through OK.  The rules aren't exciting me but they're OK.  One odd issue is that a command can't deploy any wider that 18 inches (27cm in my reduced scale) even if it has sufficient units to do so.  As a result a three command army must form up in a relatively narrow and deep formation with only a limited number of units able to fight in the first contacts.

I shall persevere for a while longer and may report back again later.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


I've always had a vague hankering to "do renaissance wargaming" without ever actually getting my act together.  I think part of the problem with the renaissance period is that I haven't yet identified a  conflict that really grabs me.  The Great Italian Wars is probably most likely.  I certainly have no desire to English Civil War.

The other problem has been the lack of a set of rules that's really inspired me.

I was probably still a teenager when I bought a copy of the George Gush/WRG rules and originally based my 15mm Samurai with them in mind.  No actual games came of it though.

Later on I bought Irregular Miniatures 6mm Ottoman Turk and Hussite armies and the De Bellis Renationis (DBR) rules, again by WRG.  Again the rules didn't sufficiently fire my enthusiasm.

It occurs to me now, though, that in building up my Polish and Turkish forces for Maurice or Black Powder, I've accidentally acquired enough models to be able to play another set of rules that have been sitting unused for years - Tom Penn's Renaissance Principles of War.  So I think I might have a go sometime this weekend.

A simple, solo, late 17th century clash should give me an idea of whether these rules will do the job.  I have the first edition and I know from having reread them this morning that there's imprecise language that will annoy me but I shall persevere and see where we get to.

Will my renaissance gaming see a renaissance? Report to follow....