Monday, October 7, 2019

Ebor Lard 2019

I had a great day yesterday taking my Sharp Practice 2 game The Virgin and the Rearguard to Ebor Lard, a Lardy game day organised by John Savage.

Tom Davis and I drove up from Sheffield that morning, the car filled with my toys and with the stuff Tom needed to run his game of Kiss Me Hardy.  We arrived to find the venue, Green Hammerton Village Club thronging with gamers and with the local provisions truck doing a roaring trade in proper coffee and hot sandwiches.

I set up the terrain including my new large ridge and just about managed to get everything ready in time for the 10 o'clock start of the first game.

John had allocated players to games before the day so there was no messing around sorting out who would play what - something I might adopt for future Crisis Point events.  

In the first game, the El Picadillo's group of guerrillas made it to the door of the church tower and were confronted by an angry and obstructive Father Diego.

Meanwhile the contre-guerilla player bravely took advantage of the early arrival of his cavalry to push forward and try to dispute control of the village.

However, enough guerrillas had arrived to make the cavalry's attempt very risky.

Meanwhile a significant force of Liberal regulars and state militia had deployed behind the ridge.

The melee was a narrow victory for the guerrillas and the cavalry were thrown back from the village.

Meanwhile the contre-guerilla infantry and artillery tried to punch through the village.  I'd forgotten to bring the cotton-wool I usually use to indicate unloaded units so we ended up using the pdf disorder markers to do the job. You can see one in front of the contre-guerilla mountain gun.

The main French force marched towards the ridge while the Republican cavalry spent ages working its way through the camp to emerge at the end nearer the church.

In this game the three units of Republican regulars had made their way up to the crest of the ridge but had been force back with heavy casualties...

The sudden appearance of the banner of the Virgen de Guadalupe restored their spirit (they lost all accumulated Shock on seeing it) and they were able to stabilise the position.

When time was called for the lunch break the Liberals were down to six points of Force Morale and weakened in numbers but the guys holding the ridge were in fine spirits.  We called it a most enjoyable draw.

At lunchtime I managed to get a quick look at the other games. Richard Clarke was next door with a 1940 Chain of Command game.  Belgium I think.

The Helm's Deep board was apparently build by some school kids.  The new owners are developing a Lord of the Rings Sharp Practice variant!

I particularly liked this Indian Mutiny game.  It's a period I might have done if I hadn't settled on the Maximilian Adventure.

John Savage's ancient adaptation of Sharp Practice looked very pretty.

Then we had Simon Walker's Trumpton Riots game using, I believe, Chain of Command with some Sharp Practice mechanisms thrown in.  I'd have liked to have given this more of my attention but time flies by when you're the driver of another game...

And finally (I think; I hope I haven't missed anybody out) we had Tom Davis's action at Sao Salvador using Kiss Me Hardy, which I'd had the pleasure of play-testing a couple of weekends previously.

The afternoon session saw another group of players attempting to take the ridge near Santa Clara.

Again, the guerrillas approached the church door.  Here we see them just before the arrival of Father Diego...

The contre-guerillas pushed forward their mountain gun.

While the regulars prepared for a major assault on the ridge.

A cavalry melee looked likely...

Grant (right) commanded the main French force, ably assisted by Jeremy in charge of the contre-guerillas.

In the end, the cavalry melee we'd be looking forward to didn't occur.  Grant's Foreign Legion skirmishers pushed up through the woods and poured close range fire into the ranks of the Liberal lancers.  A blast of canister from the hastily redeployed artillery piece then saw the Liberals driven off.

When time was called the Liberals had just managed to unfurl the banner of the Virgin from the bell tower and the French players decided that they could not hope to carry the ridge against the newly encouraged defenders.  We called it a narrow Liberal victory but I suspect with a little luck a continued game might have seen the French drive their enemies' force morale down to zero.

After an hour or so of packing up followed by (non-alcoholic for me as I was driving) beers in the bar of the social club, we decamped over to the local pub for a most enjoyable evening of good food and conversation.  I'll definitely be attending Ebor Lard again.

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...