Saturday, November 9, 2019

Washed any aircraft recently?

I was quite pleased when, few years ago, I acquired this rather smart wooden box.

Suitably lined with foam it made a great storage box for my 1/300th scale modern aircraft and safely carried them to numerous Cold War Commanders gatherings throughout the UK.

This morning I decided to look out the models I need for a game on Monday evening only to find that the grey foam has "gone off".  It's lost its strength and has stuck to the bottom of the models!

Fortunately it washed off with cold water and I was able to rescue the models without too much damage - just a couple of bombs dislodged from one of the Su-25s.  So, out with the super glue when my fingers have warmed up!

I need to review my storage to see if I've used the same foam anywhere else.  And then I need to think about where to store the aircraft.  They all have magnets on the bottom.  I wonder if Stella would mind me keeping them on the fridge door?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Holiday Painting

We’re having a week away in Edinburgh and I’ve brought along a few figures to paint. Well, to tart up really.

I’m now in possession of a group of eight Halfling militia.

Now I’m not sure what I’m going to do with a unit of Halfling militia but there you go.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Portable Wargaming - TYW

Inspired by two Swedish wargamers, Per Broden and Michael Leck, I decided to have a go at the Thirty Years War in 6mm scale using Dan Mersey and Michael's The Pikeman's Lament rules.

My eventual plan is to do the Death of Gustavus Adolphus scenario from Michael's blog but for now here's a few pics of the first game with the new collection.

The idea is to create a game that's small enough to take to the pub. This board is 30cm x 45cm and works OK for 24 point armies.  It isn't big enough, though, for the Gustav Adolphus forces, which are about 50 points a side.  I shall have a go at building a second board the same size to go alongside this one.

Jamie and I played on the dining room table at his Grannie's house in Meols and we managed to get through about a dozen player turns despite this being our first try with the rules.

The units, all cavalry at this stage, are based using the 1-2-3 system using 1 Euro Cent, 1 UK penny, and 2 UK pence coins.  Given the small size of the figures (Baccus 6mm) I've added extra distinction to units by painting the rims of the coins in dark red for the Catholics and royal blue for the Swedes.

More pictures to follow as the forces and terrain pieces progress.

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.