Sunday, 19 November 2017

"Real Life Wargame Trees"?

Out of the vault of miscellaneous photos, I came across this one which was taken sometime in the summer during a round of golf at a local course.

I think you may already know why I have posted this.  Does it not look like a tabletop version of wargaming trees?  Complete with the oval base and completely devoid of underlying vegetation.

Just struck me as interesting that is all.


And how is your golf game, you might ask?  Well, dare I say as poor as my dice rolling....although I do score 6 and often even 10s!  Strokes that is.... sigh....

Monday, 6 November 2017

Dragon Rampant game

WillB claimed first dibs on hosting at the club's Friday Bonsor game night.  Jim and I offered are long dormant collections to the cause and I also offered to bring some additional terrain pieces.
As it were, he was late in arriving so I spread my desert type mat. This is a Hotz 'Wild West' mat showing roads in a darker colour which we would incorporate by placing walls and buildings in the corners to hide these darker areas; creating "corners" to which we each would place our retinues.  Having arrived, Will offered his very old fantasy catapult as the objective; the winner having moved it off his corner of the table by placing a unit onto and using that unit's move activation to maneuver it.  Only Will finally made an effort at it, as the rest of us were simply attacking each other made interesting as we rolled for allied-manship and had each friendly retinue kitty-corner to each other.
the overall game with 28mm-ish figures and a real mix of miniatures.  

In typical Rampant style, luck, dice and maybe good tactics produced an entertaining game.  You can read more about it at Will's blog ( link ) as I will not bore you with a blow by blow.
My purple cloaked heavy foot in a staring contest with Jim's Skinks.

On my part, my heavies had apparently armour the quality of tinfoil and swords made of wood.  And my dice rolling...well..... The following photo speaks volumes .....
My lone Heavy Horse Tekon rider battered and my usual dubious dice rolling......


Nevertheless had fun which is the point.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Rightful Heir….


Got an email from WillB. suggesting he was surprisingly available on Saturday evening and wanted a game, preferably a Lion Rampant or of the ilk.  Sure, always up for a game.  A couple of the “Bonsor Regulars” would join us in a great game.  If you have any sense of humour, you can delight in the herky jerkey action created by the activation procedure of these rules.

During the day I received good news about the long awaited miniatures order to complete the other side of the collection but I was still faced with having only the same ‘uniformed’ troops as all my early HYW are in dark red/dark blue.  Hmm, perhaps a family 'civil war' then?  Yes, perhaps between rivals for daddy’s empty holdings.  With this premise, I came up with the scenario that indeed, the old Earl of Raineth passed away that previous month and his favourite orphaned nephew and his eldest son are contending for the earldom and both forces wear the Earl’s colours as a sign of legitimacy…..that covers the same uniform explanation!

After laying out the table in my usual random way, I thought of a way to enliven the game by adding ‘personal objectives’ for each player unknown to all which could then determine the overall winner.  I created 7 cards for us four (thus even I could not know each player’s objective) and randomly distributed as were the troop selections.  I could create four ‘retinues’ of 14 points for each of us, with two per side.
JimF's rather disciplined advance.  Knights safely in the rear!

I will not go into detail about the game as trying to describe a LR game is a very difficult thing. However I will mention that PeterM. has a notorious tendency to often fail his activations and in this game sat on his easily achieved objective for fully 4 turns, unable to activate to complete his task!  He finally gave up and tried …note the emphasis…to move toward the action. WillB opposite him did not do much better as, while he did get his pigs*, activations did not come often to him.
WillB's first unsuccessful activation to capture the pigs. I guess I missed the shot of the first of the spearmen falling flat in the mud.  Will would eventually get his objective.

For activations, I was successful every time - a first for me! - but I think that got me in more trouble than not as Jim was clever enough to evade my charges. I was eventually eliminated.  But really, hiding knights in the forest?  Not very medieval, eh?  But his response to my good-natured taunts were to say “ And what, get them killed?”  He would eventually win the game by using them to burn down the barn, his personal objective.  Arsonist bloody knights of all things!  I may have prevented it by charging them with my archers a turn earlier but I thought they were just trying to hide again! Clever boy.
My retinue fighting Jim's yeomen.


Peter's retinue still in the graveyard! His activation rolls
 are truly dreadful.....
The battle ended with me eliminated, WillB my ally,  in a quick retreat, and JimF the winner having done his burning and his ally PeterM now able to move back to the graveyard and thus to his objective…eventually….

Quote of the game: 
 Me: “I am a fool”.  PeterM: “That’s with an ‘e’ at the end, of course”



all miniatures painted by yours truly a few years ago.

*each personal objective, for example, searching the church for ancestral documents for use in legitimacy claims,  usually needed a unit to be adjacent the building for two consecutive successful ‘move’ activations to complete the task.  Other tasks such as taking the pigs or burning of the barn can be rationalized as taking advantage of the discord.
Jim's knights...hiding in the forest....

Saturday, 7 October 2017

War of 1812 Battle of North Point


Battle of North Point (aka Godly Wood)
War of 1812
British raid on Baltimore, 1814

British 'pressing the enemy'  [the one stand on the right is facing the wrong way to indicate the unit has sustained a permanent casualty.  I did not bring enough markers for the game!

The game scenario was inspired by this historical battle.  I however allowed the players to deploy as wanted. I did not have the correct units - I have not encroached upon this theatre of operations as it is my friend KevinS area of interest - and didn’t want to remember which units represent which!

DennisC with a wish to be pumped up for his upcoming “War of 1812” tourist trip back east to all the historic sites, asked me to host a game. and KevinA, having the need of a horse and musket game and unable to host one himself, said he was certainly in for the game.

Having done many of the ‘usual’ battles of the conflict- this war actually has very few stand up fights suitable for a wargame - I chose North Point to give my rules a real test.  Why a ‘real’ test?  Well first I was very pleasantly surprised that I had the rules AND in pdf form as it has been we'll over a year - maybe over two (or even three??) that I have pulled the boys out of the boxes for a game. Second, that they would actually work with real players as they are, in fact, only designed to be used by me in solo affairs.

The historic battle was, indeed, a real lopsided affair with trained regulars of the British against poorly prepared Maryland militia.  The rout of the militia was probably inevitable and it was thus in the game also as the rules heavily side with training and discipline over player dice luck.  That poor Dennis commanding the Americans threw only for the least effective maneuvers only compounded the defeat.

The British under KevinA’s hand and with the heavy advantage of the British training of their line troops, were only hurt by the use of his rockets which Kevin had a tendency to roll for their course to boomerang back and disorder, and even create casualties, on his own troops!
Fun stuff indeed, but did little to stop the British advance.  The Americans quickly collapsed and it was clear in a short time of the game that the question of the British victory was not in doubt as indeed it was not in the historical affair.  As the log cabin was deemed to have sustained a “casualty” so thought to have caught fire from another of Kevin’s errant rockets, as it did in the real battle, the outcome was considered very accurate indeed…..

Dennis stated he thought the rules very good and accurate while KevinA advanced steadily in good British fashion for a major victor.  I hope both had a good time.
Close up of the British line troops - note that none of the game units are that of the historical affair. 
the 25th Infantry Regiment of 1814, one of Winfleld Scott's Brigade, is subbing as a mere militia unit.  The bold advancing pose typical of Old Glory, belying the militia training and unsureness.
Allowing player deployment, Dennis surprisingly chose an almost historic deployment but having the rifles in the middle of formation and a regiment in their historical position on the right flank in front of Bear Creek.  Kevin, as the British did virtually a similar historical deployment!
early war New York State Militia subbing in as a Maryland uniformed militia unit.
DennisC consulting the charts to see, as he had to do many times in this game, how far must his troops do a retrograde maneuver!
"My dear God!" the officer must exclaim seeing my 'Rocket Directional Marker'   One of the plentiful errant British missiles causing more harm to themselves than the Americans.  Great entertainment nonetheless!

And it was good to give some of my large collection a bit of a stretch from their long incarceration within the storage boxes.
I wish I could just settle on but one military conflict and game much more of it but I really like to study many different eras of conflict and cannot simply chose but one.  So with many, many different collections, I simply must resign myself to hopefully bring them out but once and a while.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Plastics = Conversions!

Reminiscing about past activity...a birthday at this stage of middle life, kinda encourages this behaviour I find... a couple of days ago,  had me looking at my 'old' collection of Napoleonics.  Full of vigour for this new effort to create the forces at the Battle of Waterloo, the Netherland 28th Infantry Regiment, Nassau-Orange, had a somewhat different uniform and I remember having fun creating its unique look.
the Netherland 28th Infantry Regiment, Nassau-Orange
The torso is Perry British with all the chest lace scraped away.  Their arms are Victrix French Chasseurs overcoat types, the shako Russian 1809 types with new plumes taken I think from extra hussar headdresses, and their packs are French.  So with different colour scheme, they look the part.

As I want them "transportable" the lightweight plastic is a great consideration. And great entertainment creating unique units from extras bits from other sources.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Almost shot down...yet again

I went to the monthly club night thinking to help Dennis with his ACW naval game but he already had many players for the game.  All the usual hosts had seem to have decided to play and not put on a game!
Had a long conversation with WillB after which joined the WW1 air game.  Oh Late War was it?  With all those DVIIs, SEs and the like.  Oh well, I'll play Allies using my little Pup (very early war British plane).  Severely out classed! However the scenario, as it was, to strafe the German lines.  As usual, the players often ignored this to start shooting at each other. With the "fur-ball" of clashing planes over there, I went the other direction for safety thinking I could get some victory points all alone.
The clash of experienced pilots and power planes which I dutiful avoided!

So slowly moving across the table with my underpowered plane, I dove low and gave a long burst for maximum effect with my meagre one machine gun only to have the darn thing jam! [ yes, my poor die rolling ]. The anti-aircraft fire then riddles my wings and tail with holes and....disables my weapon....
It was considered I would simply fly home. No German could reach me so end of the first flight.
My Pup flying low at '1' level ready for a strafing run.  The six on the nearby dice was not my roll....obviously....

Starting again a turn later,  I fly low and steady only to again suffer heavy flak.  No long-bursts this time - I did not want to suffer jamming again - but with a poor firing rating, I could do little effect.

Not the best of flights but at least this night I was not shot down! :}

Monday, 11 September 2017

Longe's Farm - a Tercey campaign AAR


Skirmish at Longe’s Farm

It has been some time since we visited the Shire and the fictional conflict between the Tawny and Reds during the era of the English Civil Wars.
While the major battles raged to the south and east, the small internal conflict had taken a lengthy hiatus after the destruction of the “Sister Margaret” cannon. [link to previous post]

Successful in staving off a full siege, the Earl of Rockforth was restricted by a somewhat effective cordon of Tawny troops. The Earl's food was not plentiful and certainly not tasty.  It was thus that Primrose, one of Rockforth’s commanders had it in his mind to have some bacon and so conceived a raid upon Longe’s Farm renown in the Shire for its quality of pork.
Longe's Farm
Longe's Musketeers waiting in ambush along the rock fence (centre) looking from the southwest.
The raid was to be staged at mid-day with a noisy demonstration at the obvious spot of the bridge which led to the farm, while Urry’s cavalry would attack from the south concealed by a slight rise and descend upon the sty. Much like a scene of a TV plot, unbeknownst to Primrose and Urry loudly discussing those actions,  a cleaning maid , not so comely and thus unnoticed, had her ear to the slightly opened door to overhear and thus, subsequently provided these to the Tawnys.
My newly made buildings.  4Ground MDF with new roofs and chimneys. The original is to the rear.  I could create another house from the inside walls of the model adding a roof and beams.  The roofing tile are cereal card individually positioned and the chimney 'stone' are clay balls.  The wood on the walls is painted a darker brown but the wall color has not been changed.

Robarte’s Shotte, tasked with creating the diversion, moved forward only to receive a casualty from the fire of Browne’s dragoons hidden along the fencing near the bridge.  Urry, upon hearing the fusilade, and thinking the only possible defence was thus occupied, calmly charged toward the pig sty. With Urry’s horse now in range, Longe’s musketeers were not ordered to fire.  (failed activation) Did Longe mean to withhold fire until point blank range?  But this would make little difference   [the rules do not account for such details! ;-} ]

clash at the sty

On the other side of the farm and across the stream, Robarte’s Shotte, rather than await events, took the bold move to advance toward the bridge and the Longe Farm….but though better of it after another volley from Browne’s dragoons.
Robarte's Shotte crossing the wood bridge unopposed late in the engagement.
Meanwhile, Primrose, still unaware of Longe’s Musketeers hiding along the nearby rock fence, ordered Urry’s troopers to dismount to collect the pigs.  —what they were to do with such after gathering them was unknown.  One cannot imagine regaining a mount carrying a 100+ pound squirming pig would be possible.  Were they to herd them?  Shoot them?  But having no cart…
Primrose leading the "charge" on the pigs.....
...but the pigs seem rather unconcerned. The sty is scratch built...and doesn't it look it!  But I wanted a rather ramshackle abode.
While this comic affair was engaged, Longe still did not order a charge.  Yes, you might have already deduced, but once again he failed the activation… His musketeers probably confused and annoyed continued to crouch behind the low stone fence. while Urry’s horse continued to collect the pigs (each successful ‘move’ activation allowed them to gather a stand of pigs)
The pigs abandoned by Urry's retreating horse now had their home occupied by the dragoons.
  Meanwhile Browne’s dismounted dragoons on the other side of the farm shot again forcing Robarte’s Shotte away.  Browne then took the rather bold step to ignore Robarte’s Shotte and move through the trees to their rear to help fend off the pillaging horse at the sty. While doing so, Longe finally gathered enough courage to order the attack on Urry’s horse. Casualties were even but the dice reflected the tactical situation as Longe’s unit passed courage without difficulty while Urry’s surprised troopers failed and recoiled back dropping the pigs and becoming “battered”.  However, experienced as they are, quickly regained their composure and remounted.
By now, Browne’s dragoons had reinforced Longe’s musketeers who took a rather long time reloading their weapons….
With indecision abound, Primrose deciding that his bacon breakfast must yet wait, the skirmish was concluded and he broke off the action.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Napoleonic Italian additions

My 28mm Napoleonic collection, while primarily Perry in composition and mostly plastic or as much as possible with some metal elements, also has Warlord, Essex and Victrix units.  The latter forms my Italian contingent along with some Warlord.  Both these tend to have the same sculpting style in my eye and thus I tend to keep them separate from the Perrys. On the table they play fine together.

I was presented with a large bunch of Victrix figures from a gamer which he had already glued together but was not successful in selling in the B&B (I obviously did not see these...) .  As he headed out the door he gave me these, "knowing they will go to a good home"

I divided into like poses which turned out to be perfect arrangement for my small units and did up two batches to add to my Italian contigent.  One unit is the 2nd Italian Light Regiment which fought in Germany in 1813 as did the Milan City Guard.  The Milanese have been one of my 'bucket-list" units in their unique light blue tunics.
Italian 2nd Light Infantry
Italian Milan City Guard which fought in Germany during the 1813 Campaign

Like my other Italian units,  I went against my usual black primer and highlight technique but used a white primer and wash to complete the painting.  I don't like painting swashes of white so tried the wash method.  I am not very good at it but the effect is ok in this case and for consistency, I continued the wash on these new units.

part of my Italian contingent for Germany 1813 with an original element leading the column



Monday, 7 August 2017

Big Summer Napoleonic Game 2017


The big summer game, August 2017

Battle of Mateitna (aka Tranchantville by the French)
between the French under Napoleon and the Russian/Prussian Army of Kutuzov

From Generalissimo Kutuzov
Commander of the Allied Forces

April 1, 1813

While Napoleon’s forces far outnumber ours, we have forced him to retreat with his back against the Danube,  Now we can push him across and back to his home.

Our battle plan is simple.  Using successive blows to his one flank then the other, we shall weaken him so a final thrust up the centre will collapse his lines.

Each Corps will be assigned a time for their attack in a well coordinated sequence which will confuse and disorientate Napoleon and his underlings!

For our homelands, Victory! God willing.


Yeah, it is, of course, Antietam, the well-known American Civil War battle
( Mateitna spelt backwards, or Tranchant {sharp} ville {town} in French).

For the big summer Napoleonic game, I like to use the scenario from a real battle, not necessarily of the era, to offer a bit of fog of war for the players and explore the dynamics of that historical military engagement.

Building this scenario proved to be taxing, as the Union commander, McClellan - our Kutuzov - submitted his corps in a piecemeal fashion. Not very wargame like.  I countered this by having the Union/Allied player play only one corps at the start, with “activation” at the historical time and unknown to all,  together with a single roll needed of a 3+ on a d6 chance for that turn and each after, to give the effect of player control and unknown attack timing.

Of the Confederates/French, the scenario was easier to allocate.  With essentially only two commanders (Jackson=Oudinot, and Friant=Longstreet) the battlefield could be controlled as per the actual affair.
With a slightly lesser ratio of  1:1500  and  1 artillery pip = 4 batteries, I placed the commands historically adding a light cavalry element to each command  and in equal amounts to each side.  While cavalry was not present in most ACW commands, it hardly feels Napoleonic without some cavalry to give it that flavour!
The Union Allied reserves of Sumner Bulow and Franklin Wurttemberg

The commander names were obviously changed but with no real rhyme or reason but only if I had enough labels already completed!  The use of either Russian or Prussian was also only with consideration of availability.  It even surprised me somewhat that I had enough Prussians and Russians alone to provide the entire Union Army.
"Burnside's Bridge" with DaveB's hand moving adjusting the French forces.

All the players arrived on time, PeterM from this region, with DaveB coming in from Vancouver Island, Seth driving from Seattle that morning, a good two hour drive;  and JamesC and his friend Shawn making the trip from Portland, some 300miles / 470km !!  
The Confederate French commanders of Dave, Shawn, James and two Union Allied players of Peter and Seth (l-r)

Well, did the game follow history despite using Napoleonic troops and rules??  It did!  And closely I might add.  Hooker(Krafft) - PeterM -, and Mansfield(Tolstoy) -Seth- did finally take the Cornfield together with the West and East Woods after some heavy fighting forcing a French withdrawal to tighter defensive line.  This line was anchored by fortifications - aka the Sunken Road - unknown to the Allied commanders.  Like the real Kutuzov at Borodino, our “Little Mac”  in the guise of Kutuzov, was the only spot from which line of sight is adjudicated and like his historical counterpart would not move from his distance location. Also in the pre-battle briefing, I indicated the water was “deemed to be” unfordable.  I didn’t say they weren’t but like the Union troops that day only the bridges would be used.  The bridges, like the real battle, funnelled the Allied attacks. Sumner(Bulow) -Seth- and reinforcements under Franklin(Wurtttemberg) -myself- had no choice but to ‘go up the gut’ and the French held the line.  Barely.
Allies move through the Cornfield and East Woods as the French fell back to their defensive position.
The masses of Sumner's Corps await their orders to advance
the game-table looking from the southwest with Sharpsburg in the foreground and Antietam Creek along the top with the uncommitted Union corps 
Sumner finally has his marching orders

Likewise to the south, Burnside(Pirch) -PeterM-  finally activated at 10:30am game time (each of our turns being a half hour historically and which proved, once again, in all our historical scenarios to be very accurate time frame) to get across ‘his bridge’ but up against much more opposition than his historical counterpart.  From the moment of his activation, he tried to get across the bridge.  Finally, early in the afternoon, it looked like he would finally push DaveB/Friant off the hill, but, like the timing of D.H. Hill at Antietam, Drouot - JamesC- arrives (at his 3:30pm allocated time and place) to arrive and march up in position just in time to prevent any breakthrough!
The French right holding the high hill in front of Burnside's bridge with artillery support.  The defensive ring anchored on the Sunken Lane can be seen right.
The French centre with the fortifications standing in for the Sunken Lane.

The French under the capable guidance of JamesC as Jackson, his wargaming newbie friend doing well with the sub-command of McLaw and our veteran DaveB as Longstreet, somehow holding on to a thinning defensive line.  A couple of lucky, ’Southern Grit’ inspired? command morale die rolls with commands at the breaking point were made, and the game went on for 28 turns or until 8pm game time, well pass the actual battle’s end (just because we were having fun and to see if ANYONE would break first!)
Franklin's corps (Wurttemberg's Russians) move up over the maneuver restricting bridge.  As you may notice, one of Bulow's Prussian guns has been left behind as a result of the traffic jam.

As the French are on their last legs, so too are the Allies, with attacks repulsed, the battle as like the real event, petered out.  Even R.E. Lee would think it a near defeat but the French held on and were not forced to retreat over the Potomac or destroyed and the Allies would not win this day.
Just as Peter's Burnside in the guise of Pirch, thought the taking of the bridge possible, the historic occurrence of D.H.Hill arriving at the nick of time recreated itself in our game with Drouot arriving with his Guardsmen to save the day!

And like McClellan, I would not use Porter’s corps - who I had in the guise of the Russian Imperial Guard! - or Pleasonton’s cavalry (Prussian Cuirassiers) as this would tip the scales too much and more to the point not be historically accurate. In any event, it was doubtful they would arrive in the action before the end of the day.

I find that the behaviour of the real commanders and occurrences of the historic battle are certainly now understandable based on the events of our tabletop affair.  Interesting to witness, which is why for my Napoleonic collection we have only done historic battles thus far and I am quite willing to continue the "research".

Win or lose, the boys indicated they had a good time.  The historic result for me was satisfying suggesting the scenario was good, the rules again producing a realistic effect, and the rules themselves working well and fluid.
My newly painted French Field Ambulance indicating the LOC/ line of retreat for the French (Perry Miniatures)


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Wide Bridges

Ah, those little terrain pieces for our miniatures games.  Some think them a chore, some just buy what is required, others - and yes for those, like me, who are a bit old school (read: been doing this for a long time!) - enjoy the process.
Take inexpensive materials, do a bit of creative construction, a bit of time, to create fun terrain and, frankly, necessary decoration for the tabletop.

In this case, the large bases used for our Napoleonics games, don't normally require special terrain features.  With the exception of bridges. Yes, those normal ones could do, but placing a large base precariously on top and the inaccuracy of placement upon the table affecting the gameplay, suggest much wider examples.
The 'earth' surface of the bridge is still wet!

So we need wide and we want cheap so I made some with both criteria satisfied.
the wide one in the rear, already with a coating of the slurry

These 'stone bridges' ( I made both wide and "normal" at the same time ) by using pieces of hardboard of appropriate width, placing strips of foamcore on each side.  Then came the rather tedious gluing of lentil beans - being the 'stones'.  A slurry of plaster was, well.... plastered over all.  Once hardened, it was painted and the approach ends flocked.

both now covered.
Painted and in place.  

As you may have noticed, they are flat and not arched over the 'water' but replace one of the river segments.  However the lack of this realism is not apparent and makes the construction much simpler!

I needed these new wide bridges for the upcoming big summer game. Lots of water crossings for this one.
A wood one I made using inexpensive long BBQ matchsticks.

Oh, for us wargamers and especially we old school guys, the cost of these (other than time - which I needed to fill in any case) was virtually nil.  Heck, I have been meaning to use these beans for a task like this for at least ten years!