Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More Black Powder

Our biggest Black Powder game yet on the 28th saw a combined Ottoman Turk / Polish army attacking Russians in a game set in about 1711.  This was a the first chance to get all of my 18th Century 6mm scale collection on the table at once and I'm quite pleased with how spectacular it looked.

The battlefield - along the river is the Russian army.  The Turks are in the
background whilst the Poles are clustered around the woods on
the extreme left of the picture. 
Jamie took on the role of Peter the Great, trapped in a bend of an impassible river (a situation reminiscent of that on the Pruth in 1711 but this wasn't a historical scenario).  Andy ran the large and unwieldy Turkish army, whilst George ran the small but powerful Polish brigade.

For speed I set the armies up in their starting positions but allowed the players to fill with the detail before we got started.  Both Russians and Turks had the classic two cavalry wings and an infantry centre with artillery.  The Poles formed a far right wing for the Turkish army whilst a couple of gunboats on the river formed their far left.

The whole front of the Turkish army was covered by clouds of musket-armed skirmishers.  These would prove very handy in using up the Russians' "First Fire" bonus.

The action opened with clashes between Turkish and Cossack light horse.  At the same time the Poles advanced rapidly on the right and the whole Turkish army moved forward at a somewhat more sedate pace.

In the centre the swarms of Ottoman skirmishers approached the Russian main infantry line.  The Russian infantry blazed away with muskets to little effect other than wasting their "First Fire".

Jamie decided to position a couple of his Russian artillery batteries in the
castle on the far side of the river.  This looked ace but did his
available firepower no good at all.
One the Russian right one and a half regiments of dragoons lined up to face the oncoming Sipahi.

But the climax of the battle came on the left.  A regiment of Polsh winged hussars charged into the dismounted Moskovski Dragoons, routing them completely.  The resulting sweeping advance saw them impact the (mounted) Viatski Dragoons who were also routed.  A poor roll on the break test for "friends routed" also saw an adjacent infantry battalion rout.  

In the background the winged hussars, with supporting Pancerny,
have just routed three units in one turn!
Not surprisingly, Jamie decided at this point that the battle was lost and offered his surrender to the Turks.  Thus the result, if not the events, of the Pruth action was repeated.

In general, Black Powder was well-received.  Andy enjoyed it despite the horrible command and control limitations of the Ottoman army and Jamie expressed himself happy to play again.  I always think that if you're happy to play a set of rules again when your first experience was of defeat, then they must be OK.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tank Assault

The afternoon of Saturday 27th December saw me make god on promises to a couple of kids at the local primary school who missed out on the chance to play in my Kursk game at the recent Christmas Fare.  They were all within walking distance which was fortunate as the weather was like this:

The set up had the older two, Leo and Harry, attempting to capture a German trench line.  Each was equipped with three T-34/76s with four tank riders on each vehicle.

Jacob, the youngest, with my help, defended with a squad of infantry, an anti-tank rifle, a 37mm anti-tank gun and a 100mm Skoda mountain gun (as I didn't have a suitable infantry gun model).   Unbeknown to the Russian players, the Germans also had a two-man flamethrower team hiding in the house next to the cabbage field.

I didn't take too many photographs as we were busy playing the game.  But here are the few I did get:

One of Harry's T-34s is brewed up by fire from the infantry gun
Leo's force makes its way through the woods.  Next time he tries that I'll
make sure there are some enemy infantry hiding in there.

Leo's attack falters as his last tank is destroyed by a shot from the flamethrower.

Harry's last tank takes on the pillbox at point-blank range!
I'd told the various parents that we'd finish at about half-past-four. And we pretty much did with that time arriving as the battle reached a proper climax.

On the Russian right, Leo had lost all of his tanks but still had most of his tank-riders (albeit they were a long way from the action).  Harry, meanwhile managed to get up close and personal with the  main bunker and knocked out the infantry gun by firing through the fire slit!

Weirdly, on the same game turn a random event had the 37mm AT gun crew called back to Company HQ thus leaving the Germans with no effective AT defence (both flamethrower and AT rifle teams having been lost to enemy fire.

In the end I was persuaded to call it an honourable draw as the Russians had not yet captured the entrenchment but the Germans were in no fit state to defend it from any renewed attack.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Game Number Three

Our lesson today is taken from Donald Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers.  I yield to no man in my admiration for Featherstone as the father of hobby wargaming in the UK but I have to say that this book has something of the feel of a man scraping the bottom of the barrel to meet his publisher's demands.

However, I wanted a quickly set up solo game so I could refresh my memory of how Black Powder works so I decided to refight the rather uninspiringly named "Game Number Three".

Lacking suitably based Federals and Confederates I swapped to Russians and Turks respectively.

The game started badly for the Turks.  A Command Blunder (double sixes) on their first roll of the game!  This saw the right flank Sipahi haring off towards the Russians.  Then I rolled again and got another double six which would have led to the rest of the army retreating off the table.  Fortunately I remembered that the first blunder ended the Turks' Command Phase so this blunder didn't happen.

Things were little better for the Russians.  Deveson's regiment marched off towards the Turkish cavalry while the rest of the Russian Army stayed in place.

On Game Turn 2 the Sipahi charged Deveson's Regiment.  The Russians stood firm and poured closing fire into the Turkish horse.  The melee was drawn and the Sipahi withdrew in disorder to dress their ranks and rest their winded horses.

The rest of the Turkish army failed to move at all because of another roll of double six!  Likewise the Russians seemed content to let one infantry unit do all the fighting.

On Game Turn 3 the rest of the Turkish army advanced.  The Russian infantry and artillery formed a slightly bent line but the cavalry still refused to move.

A firefight now developed between the Janissaries and the Russian infantry backed up by artillery.  Both Deveson's Regiment and the blue Janissaries were Shaken as a result of casualties taken in the musketry duel.  Meanwhile, the Turkish commander moved to rally his Sipahi.

On Game Turn 6 the Turkish commander tried but failed to issue a 'Follow Me!' order to the Sipahi.  However, the would-be target of their charge, Deveson's Regiment, was routed later in the same turn by the fire of the red Janissaries:

Over the other side of the battlefield, meanwhile, the Russian General had finally got his cavalry moving by virtue of another 'Follow Me!' order.  The swept forward intending to pass behind the woods and take the Turks in the rear.

On Game Turn 7 the Sipahi moved into a position from which they could charge at the left of the Russian line but the shooting of the Janissaries was ineffective.

In the Russian turn, the Dragoons failed to respond to the urgings of their commander but fine shooting did see the left flank Janissary orta routed.

Game Turn 8 was frustrating for the Turks.  With the Russian artillery at their mercy, the Sipahi refused to charge!  The Russian cavalry, meanwhile, moved into a position from which they could charge into the rear of the Red Janissary orta.

The following turn the Siahi again failed to receive the order to charge but the Russian Dragoons didn't.  With their commander at their head, they careered into the rear of the Red Janissaries.

Surely the Turks would lose the melee and be routed?  Well, yes and no.... With a score of 10 on 2d6 the Turks managed to pass their break test and keep fighting.

Meanwhile the Sipahi finally managed to charge. they swept away the Russian guns and followed up smack into Gulitz's Regiment.

Shaken by closing fire, the Sipahi break after the ensuing melee.

After a second round of melee, the red Janissaries again passed a break test by throwing a ten but retreated and found themselves between Gulitz's grey-coated infantry and the carbine armed dragoons.  When the smoke cleared at the end of Game Turn 12 it was all over as the Janissaries rolled snake-eyes on the resulting break test.

All-in-all an enjoyable little game over and done with in a couple of hours including set-up time.

Happy Christmas

Seasons Greetings to all who lurk hereabouts.  I hope you've been enjoying a safe and happy period with your respective family and friends.  Personally, I'm having an exciting time fighting off a wonderful selection of health conditions, some of which I can't even spell!

Santa was very kind to me as usual but this year the focus has been away from wargaming stuff.  I think he approves of my focus on reducing the size of the lead pile.  What I did get was this:

It's a static grass applicator.  It uses two AA batteries to created a static charge in the sieve-like end that causes static grass to stand up.  You need a potential difference across the gap and this is achieved by attaching the bulldog clip to a conductor.  I've experimented with a craft-knife blade poked into the wet PVC glue being used to attach the grass.

I have to say I was sceptical at first but the applicator really does seem to work.  I've tried it out on a scenic piece I'm building for this week's Black Powder game and on one of my river sections. All 6mm scale of course.

Left to right - upgraded river section; coffee-stirrer bridge; new river
boom section; old, un-upgraded river section.
My plan is to improve all of my 3" wide river sections to a new standard.  The green-painted tile-grout banks will be repainted in various shades of brown and dry brushed with the ever-present Iraqi Sand.  They'll then get static grassed.

I always tried to make sure there's a new terrain piece in every game I run.  It's a good way of making sure your terrain collection stays as fresh and interesting as your armies.  This time I thought it would be interesting to have an alternative to the "defend the bridge" scenario.  So our 18th century Russians will be defending a bridge and a river boom.

This one is based on the example constructed during the American Revolution to deny British ships freedom of navigation on the Hudson River.  It consists of (plastic rod) logs joined together by (Green Stuff) iron chains.  A few Irregular miniatures scenic items are dotted about the primitive fort set up to defend the site.

One the photos you can see an un-upgraded river section on the right.  As well as improving its banks, I'll also paint the end black to prevent that bit of fluorescent blue showing through.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

On the workbench: Militia Heavy Weapons Teams

I picked up these Chechen heavy weapons teams from Under Fire Miniatures at Fiasco in Leeds.  For me they will serve as Andreivian militia.

On the left is a two-man team with an AGS-17 40mm auto grenade launcher.  On the right is a 73mm SPG-9.  The latter is the recoilless version of the 73mm low pressure gun fitted in the turret of the BMP-1.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Plans

Every year I try to get in a couple of games between Christmas and the New Year when I know that my gaming mates and I will all be available.  This year is no exception.  Or rather it is an exception in that this year I plan three games!

When I ran the Kursk 1943 game recently, young Jacob from over the road wanted to play.  He happened to ask when we were very busy, right at the end of the evening so I promised him a game in a few weeks' time.  So on Saturday 27th (if all of them can make it) I'll be running an Eastern Front tank game for the neighbourhood kids - Jacob, Harry, and Leo.

The plan is that Harry and Leo will have three T-34s (with tank riders) each to assault a German position.  Jacob (the youngest) will help me by rolling dice and wearing the German helmet!

The following day I plan a large Black Powder game.  This will be set in the early 18th century and will feature Russians against a perhaps unlikely alliance of Poles and Turks.

Once again my Baccus and Irregular 6mm models will form the forces.

Finally, on the afternoon of New Year's Eve I plan a game, or perhaps two, of Pulp Alley.  The Mystery of Faulkner's Balls awaits daring adventurers!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Andreivian Turkish Workshop

My focus for the next Andreivia game is to make sure there is enough terrain.  I know we won't be short of figures and vehicles.  The latest addition to my Andreivian real estate is this Turkish-owned small business.

It's basically just a foam core box with detail added from the spares box and from coffee stirrers and plastic card.

I may build a forecourt with a low surrounding wall for the building to sit within.

The building may be in Mdinar as it seems from the photograph below that it's in an area occupied by Russian naval infantry.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Boris Katzenov

Another 6mm scale 'Notable' for Maurice:

The latest singly based commander for my Maurice collection is Boris Katzenov, a wily character from the Carpathian frontier.

He's a rank and file Baccus Cossack converted by cutting down his lance into a commander's baton.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

German CO

This is the CO unit for my early war Germans when playing Blitzkrieg Commander.

The SdKfz 251 is from Scotia with a Heroics and Ros figure added as the gunner.  The motorcyclist and other figures are also H&R.  The car is from a set of 1/285th civilian vehicles I bought at Vapnartak back when it was at the Merchant Adventurers' Hall!  No idea who the manufacturer was.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fresh from the workbench: Polish Horse

The latest unit to make its way to be photographed is this regiment of late 17th-early 18th century Polish pancerny:

As usual they are Baccus 6mm from their Great Northern War range.  The four bases form a standard unit for either Black Powder or Maurice.

Leading the unit is the first of what I plan as a series of singly based figures to represent Notables in Maurice.

Paint-converted from a Baccus ECW General, this figure was vaguely inspired by Augustus von Thiesing from the Maurice card deck.

All-in-all the Polish army is coming along OK but I still have a fair amount to do if they are to provide more than an allied contingent in a Black Powder game.

The army now consists of one unit of Hussars and two of Pancerny, with a unit of Valack light horse completing the cavalry.  The two infantry units are one of Drabants from the Sandomiercz district and Jan Sobieski's guard Janissaries.  Jan is represented as one of the two General elements.