Saturday, 11 March 2017

2nd Tercey Campaign - First Battle

 for BillS - thanks for the Osprey

“The Earl of Rockforth is dead, your Majesty”
“Who?”, asks the King.
“Percy Hewes, 4th Earl of Rockforth, Sire.  Holdings along the River Tercey”
“Why doth the name seem familiar?”
“Your quoits partner yesterday?” diffidently suggests the clerk.
“Ah yes”, recalls the King, “hansome young man but not very…Is he dead?”
“Ah, no, Sire, his father;  a great supporter of your divine Majesty”
“Must continue that. Send the young man. Oh and give him a chest of silver.”
“The silver will require a guard, Sire”
“Yes, yes, Hastings will do and also give him that useless Nerne and his dragoons”

Thus Howard Hewes, 5th Earl of Rockforth, escorted by a unit of cuirassiers under Hastings and a unit of dragoons we enter our second season of fictional campaigning along the Tercey during the times of the English Civil War.  I am using my very old collection of Foundry figures painted almost 30 years ago and now using the new The Pikemen’s Lament rules, I hope to record my occasional solo games.

Battle of Henry’s Ford

“My Lord in Heaven, you challenge me so” Hastings muttered as a curse to his misfortune. He was informed that Hewes was ‘indisposed’  within the travelling sedan and thus will be commanding from within its confines.  A rather awkward arrangement but one the new Earl insisted upon (or perhaps more myself wanting to see this model upon the table, and rolling a rather very poorly for the new Earl’s officer traits per the rules….”ineffectual” he is….)

A moment after returning to his unit during this rest at the inn at Henry's Ford near the edge of the shire,  Hastings spotted the mass of riders galloping toward him with raised swords.  He expected little help from the dragoons and hoped his call for assistance would ‘urry.  His mood lightened slightly over this clever pun, but would Edward Urry’s elite cavalry arrive in time?

His opponent, Haribald Blare with his unit of aggressive horsemen, was tasked by Lord Brooke to capture and/or kill the new Earl and obtain the chest of silver reported to be with him.  Blare was given a unit of commanded shot selected from Brooke’s own unit and shortly an elite unit of Lordship’s pikemen would follow.

With the new The Pikemen’s Lament rules in hand, I began my new campaign with a small game  with support coming on a turn decided by dice.

Rather than randomly roll for each officer’s traits per the rules, I have given each of my available commanders a trait from the chart but based upon my own impression upon the look of the figure itself.  While we have discovered Howard Hewes is a recluse in his sedan chair,  Blare is a “careless” officer and will charge any enemy without question ( an automatic wild charge in having a “careless” officer in an aggressive unit! )

Onto the battle:
Rockforth’s Command
Nerne’s : Dragoons with Hewes attached @ 4 points
Hasting’s Cuirassiers : Gallopers upgraded to elite to account for their 3/4 armour @6 points
later: Urry’s elite Trotters @ 6 points

Blare’s Command
His Galloper cavalry @ 4 points with Wild Charge
Brooke’s Commanded Shot @2 points
later: Brooke’s elite Pike @ 6 points

It was thought the advantage in command by Blare would assist in the point differential ....and that my math was terrible..…
the initial clash of Blare and Hastings

The game:

Immediately Blare orders his horsemen into a charge against Hasting’s Cuirassiers ( he being ‘careless’ with a wild charge unit makes it automatic! ).  Hastings order a counter-attack and for two turns, each side in turn attacks with confidence each time, in a frenzy of sword cuts.  Meanwhile, the Commanded Shot of Brooke and the dragoons of Nerne under the ineffectual command of Hewes (giving no additional help to the dice) move to face across the field protected by rock walls. The cattle who rather stared in mute indifference to the actions of the cavalry, bolted upon finally hearing the first firing of shot, weak that it was, and moo-ved away.
the cattle observe the cavalry action

It is at this point my dubious dice rolling comes into serious play as I roll double ones for Blare’s activation and a further roll of a 1 has this unit pull out from the action ( as dictated in the rule’s chart).  At the same time, Hewes’ activation has Urry’s Horse come on with…wait for it…a double six activation roll! Thus Urry’s unit gains a +1 morale bonus.

Brooke’s veteran pike have now entered the battlefield and the Commanded Shot retreat move to its protection as both Urry’s and Hasting’s horse converge.  Nerne’s dragoons again fail their activation - 5 of the 8 attempts during the game!
The recluse Howard Hewes in his sedan chair. His forces win despite his lack-luster leadership abilities 

The pike go into close order while the commanded shot start their desultory fire on Urry’s boys who have moved up and started several rounds of caracole fire on the pike.  The pike hold their own and so the pistolers do not force the issue.  Several minutes silence on the battlefield now commence … all the initial fire activations by both sides failed for three turns in a row!  This stand-off continued until surprisingly Nerne’s Dragoons finally entered into range of Brooke’s immobile pike. While not forcing it into morale failure, it did whittle away causing casualties.
The Rockforth cavalry converge on the Brooke's remaining units. Note the black clad preacher on foot with Urry's horsemen: he is the marker indicating that the unit gains +1 morale due to a abnormally good activation roll a turn or two before.
The units of Hastings (top) and Urry (bottom) along with the dragoons behind the rock wall move toward the resolute pike and Commanded Shot of Lord Brooke

Foregoing the caracole tactics, Urry’s elite trotters attacked the commanded shot virtually destroying them while Hastings unit now at half strength but full of vigour charged the pike who sustained more casualties, forcing it back and out of it’s close order formation after giving Hastings’ cuirassiers many hits from it’s wall of pike.
Showing my new basing for the pike. Note it is only five bases to move but with all possibilities for any amount of casualties.  link to previous post

However the battle was effectively over.  Both Brooke’s units failed their activation, hurt as they were, with the pike rolling double 1’s ( I honestly am the worst of die rollers ) and as a result of the rule’s chart effect, it fled down the road with Urry’s Horse merrily chasing them down.
Thus the initial clash of the 2nd Tercey campaign was a complete Rockforth victory. Howard Hewes the 5th Earl, can now continue in his late father’s footsteps and with the chest of silver safe, to form an army to fight Brooke’s forces in the near future.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Capture the Flag

With the monthly club night, I brought out my newly finished Samurai collection for a go using ‘Katana Rampant’  rules.  Actually these are but the straight Lion Rampant rules with the addition of the  'handgonne' supplement for the use of the teppo (arquebus) units.  After reading comments in the intro section of my newly acquired ‘The Pikemen’s Lament’ (thanks Bill!) in which it was suggested to play on smaller tables to “get at it”; a sediment dear to my heart.  It was thus that we played on a 3 foot square mat using 24 point clans (read: retinues) I mean really, how many turns/time is wasted just moving our little soldiers to attack where everyone, both attacker and defender know where they will but must trudge across vast expanses of table 6” at a time. Especially with the LR style of game, this is not assured in any case so one can have opposing units close together without too much tactical loss.  This was certainly evident as we played two games of the same scenario with two different outcomes due to activation.
Middle of the battle on the 'small' table

The scenario loosely based on one of the missions in TPL which has in this case a poorly guarded umijirushi personal standard and drummers of Okudaira Sadamasa  attempted capture by the Takeda.  Whichever side could ‘guide’ the drummers and standard-bearer off the table to their side wins.
The Takeda move to capture the standard while the Okudaira try to fend them off
Takeda units are moving up in support earlier in the battle

ColinU and KevinA each took half the Takeda (black back-flags) and PeterM and myself took the Okudaira   (red/white back-flags) with everyone using the rule’s failed activation each…which everyone seemed to do quite often and sometimes together during a turn!

The first game the Takeda fended off the Okudaira reclaiming efforts, in the second, the reverse was basically the case with my newly painted half-retinue of Oyamada (with the blue back-flags) offering more distraction than help to either side.
Using all my newly painted 28mm figures (Kingsford Miniatures but for the peasants who are from Perry Miniatures)

While the table was small, but other than having units retreat off table a bit too easily, the action was not too crowded and indeed to me, felt right for the game.  The 3” keep-your-distance controversial rule was not employed and did not hinder the action which was typically fast and chaotic.
The peasants.  In a "what might happen if.." moves, I charged the Takeda mounted samurai with the peasants.  A victory of sorts; the peasants only lost in retreating and not getting themselves killed!

The Oyamada samurai did not get in the action but the lighting is too good not to do a photo op
I tired of painting the usual black armor so put some of the Oyamada ashigaru in brown. Note I used the radical notion of a 4,3,2,2.1 basing style which uses even one less base to mount a 12 figure unit.

Friday, 24 February 2017

a Sengoku set to

Andrew brought over his Japanese to have a go at a Lion Rampant game.  In part it was an experiment of basing styles as his are based for Armati which he plays with the White Rock Gamers, and mine which I merely placed on pre-cut wood shapes of ovals and circles from an art store .  While my units had a greater arc of fire - the rules have range simply based upon nearest point - and I have wider units, it did not seem to have much obvious effect. ( as he was victorious ).
Andrew's "tight formations" of arquebus armed ashigaru advance against my mixed armed unit of Takeda ashigaru in the foreground.

And the battle was a bloody affair with courage tests being passed by good compared to most of our combat rolls....

The scenario, as it was, to have Andrew take the village while I was to defend it.  The orchard and houses created lanes of attack so the battle had a form of north and south zones.  His primarily teppo  force  [ arquebus armed units ] moved against my mixed weapon [ bow and spear armed ] units in the 'north' while his samurai, both foot and horse, moved against the Takeda teppo and samurai in the 'south'.
the 'northern' section of the battle
..and in the 'south' Andrew's Dixon mounted samurai unit moves against my Kingsford types - a clash which my Takeda took the worst 
the clash of foot samurai 

In future I shall look at some of the more inventive scenario plans for perhaps a more interesting game but as a test, the rules work well for the period as we simply used LR attributes.  My archers did seem to do a bit better than his teppo inclusive units so might increase the arquebus power as the Japanese of the era gave the firepower more like the flintlock than a medieval handgonne.
my ashigaru await the onslaught. 

The Takeda arquebus behind their pavises however could not shoot well but Andrew likewise could not get his foot samurai to advance quickly - or in Lion Rampant terms...failed activation often which gave me another turn to fail to inflict casualties!  

a rare view from the 'other side'!  Andrew's foot samurai charging from the left finally get to grips with my teppo unit.

the pavises cost 2 points but increase 'armor' protection. Homemade by gluing three wooden coffee stir sticks side by side and painted in the clan 'colours'

Speaking of activation, we employed the two and out rather than having the first fail to stop your turn.  Much better feel - more to the player's frustration level than to the game play,  but the game is
supposed to be fun...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Historic Battle of Tegula (Zulu Wars)

Editoral note: originally written in September 2015 (!) this post was overlooked but the project still holds interest for me. As I have had nothing to post for awhile I thought I should fill in the gap....

Have no idea why my interest in the Zulu Wars but probably because I watched Zulu and Zulu Dawn movies in my early days and kept those images in my head.

Thus any magazine article about the Zulu and warfare involving that South African tribe strokes my interest.  An old wargame magazine description by Ian Knight [ Miniature Wargames  No.25 ] of the engagement between the colonists of Durban, Natal and the Zulu in 1838 had me thinking. (oh, oh, here we go off onto another "project" !! )

The abbreviated history goes something like this:

A Voortrekker deputation to Port Natal to ask the English Settlement for assistance against the Zulus was met with success. In 1838 John Cane and Robert Biggar with 14 other English settlers, 30 Hottentots and over 3000 native levies went as an expeditionary force in support to the Voortrekkers Commandos of Uys and Potgieter. (who were attacked a day before and were soundly defeated) After crossing the Tugela River the Expenditionary force came across the Zulu military kraal (camp) Ndondakusuka at the foot of the mountain but the lack of full resistance soon indicated that this was a trap and as dawn slowly appeared some 10,000 Zulu warriors appeared on the scene and fierce fighting ensued. The line of retreat across the river was cut off and the expeditionary force was surrounded. Thus on the 17th April 1838 ended the battle of Tugela,  Few of the expeditionary force escaped from this battle.
To distinguish the supporting Port Natal native troops, they were given white cloth head bands.  These "Hottentots" and some 400 of the natives were trained and armed with muskets, while the rest were armed as native warriors, some of which were Zulu expatriates.  This made the selection of figures easy and I simply added a green-stuff headband to those Natal allies. It was said that the natives would wind yards of cloth around their heads so the resulting headwear resembled a turban! This certainly helped in my modelling efforts as it is quite easy to apply too much green stuff to the small 15mm chaps.

 As with all my wargaming with the Zulu I use a heavily infused DBA style rules  (...thus far....) , so each force is of 12 elements - the Zulu look more numerous as I use double sized stands for them.  As I have yet to play this scenario I may indeed have them twice as large to equalize the effect from the Natal musket armed troops.   Because of the disproportional effect of firepower in the battles of this era, the Natal 'army' has 5 of its 12 elements as "rifle" armed, with the warriors equal to those of the Zulu.
The deployment is conjecture of course but does follow the DBA mandates.  The kraal starts with one additional defending element.  I may make the mountain smaller and closer to the Zulu side with the Natal army closer to the centre of the table.  In light of the historical battle, perhaps tell the Port Natal player that the idea is to save the army and not fight the Zulu....but the Zulu won't know this of course!
Not really pleased with the look of the table/basing and may change all this in the future but this small project is an interesting one for me.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Musings on numbers and bases

In the Lion Rampant rules, and while I have yet to exam, I must assume for TMWWBK rules also, hints are given by the author to increase or decrease the number of figures required for the game.

But really it comes down to the number of bases not the number of figures.  With that in mind, I mused about my 15mm Zulu collection and, having LOTS of Zulus but not all that many British, whether I could have 12 elements on each side but discount the actual number of figures that represents.  Let’s be honest, few of us would not envisage hundreds of natives descending upon the thin red line.  However with 12 figures for each opponent....well 12 vs 16 for the native but not that disparaging all the gives not that dramatic effect.

However if one looks upon each stand equivalent to a figure, then 12 stands is a unit.  For the colonial types these can be of a single figure; but for the natives one can place 3, 4 or many more on each.  These multiple figure stands still equate to but one “figure” for the sake of the rules, but now we are talking about 4X as many on the table and giving more illusion to the masses of natives opposing the few colonials.

Having my samurai at hand, I laid out all my multiple figure stands to oppose the singles.  Looks like a massive outnumbering but each unit has only 12 elements.

If I were to make the multiple stands a bit smaller, both units would have the same frontage/width and thus equal in the eyes of the rules.

Just musings at this point but something I will look into for the future.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Late Medieval MAA horse

What can one do in a limited space but with lots of time?  Heck, glue plastic parts together!  During the summer I needed to kill time and do it still while doing something of the hobby.  So out came the model glue and I attacked the Perry box of plastic late medieval mounted knights.  Later they were painted, again not at my usual painting desk, but in the rather unnatural situation of sitting in a bus.  Time well used I believe.  Anytime is hobby time! 😉

one unit of knights for Lion Rampant

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Lion Rampant 'battered' and activation markers

I was taking my new Sengoku collection for a solo test spin with Lion Rampant rules yesterday.

The rules has the player activate and then conclude any actions such as combat or firing before moving to the next unit, with the player choosing the sequence depending upon tactical considerations.  However, sometimes the player will lose track of which unit has activated or not.  Or at least my memory can fail, especially if interrupted or needing to leave the table during the turn.  It may be necessary to mark those units already activated and obviously markers would be the solution. I therefore decided that one could combine the use of these markers to the requirement of “battered” indication for a unit into a single simple chit for the tabletop.
The Takeda marker showing both its 'battered' side and earth-coloured 'activated' reversed side.

I used MDF laser-cut very small rounds as they are uniform and thick as to allow ease of pickup from the table.  I painted one side with my usual “earth” tone colour [ as to be discrete on the table ] and the other side of the chit in the ‘colours’ of the retinue.
Showing the two respective clan markers. Obviously one does not need to do this, but I find it fulfilling ( I say with a bit of a grin )
I use the ‘colours’ side of this marker to indicate if the unit is “battered”.  The test to recover from this morale state is considered an activation and so if successful, the marker can be flipped over to reveal the ‘earth’ side.  Other units, as they complete their activation, an ‘earth’-side chit can be added so all in the game knows that it has been dealt with.
The markers in action.  The weakened samurai on the left are still battered while the two ashigaru units have done their activations.

Obviously this method need not be exclusive to these rules and can be useful for many other applications.  It may be simple but effective and one of those hand-slap lightbulb moments which are great to deal with the requirement but embarrassing to believe that you did not think of it earlier!

Friday, 20 January 2017

My Sengoku adversaries completed

To help the local owner of the figure manufacturer Kingsford Miniatures start his business, I bought a bunch and agreed to paint up a mounted unit of the Sengoku era Samurai for him to photo for his gallery page. To be honest, I did not do much research at that time into this conflict so just saw the letter character (meaning ‘great’) was cool enough and I put it on a black background for the sashimono - the small flags attached to the warrior’s back.  I did nothing with the remainder of the collection for the past 7 years and originally thought to use it for DBA.  But with the advent of the ‘Lion Rampant’ rules I became motivated to bring them out of storage.  Needed a shovel as they were deep in the back of the cabinet but I managed.
The Takeda mounted samurai with a rather antiquated horse archer model.  However I will use the unit modifier for ranged weapons.  Verses the Okudaira it will be old tactics mostly using bow within combat unit rather than devoted arquebus groups.  

I am a firm believer in completing both sides of a battle or conflict and I am always a bit tied to the realism of history so I endeavoured to stay to the actual history to gain a matching adversary for the Takeda Katsuyori whose mon -personal/family symbol- was painted on that first unit. I found my historical adversary in Okudaira Sadamasa whose sashimono device is a simple red and white pattern for ease of painting and the mon of a red fan.  His family was killed by Katsuyori who did not appreciate his departing after the death of Katsuyori’s father, Takeda Shingen who had Sadamasa’s family as hostage.  The Okudaira took part in the final campaign against the Takeda in 1582.
The newly painted Okudaira 'expert' fighting ashigaru.  The poses seem aggressive enough!

a samurai unit showing the use of different shapes and sizes of bases.
I have mounted all my units on bases of circles, ovals and rounds of various sizes which work well for these rules and look quite good in my eyes. I added tufts and model flowers to give a nice organic look to the terrain work.

Teppo unit.  My handgun units are 6 strong.

My Takeda ashigaru units are considered a mixed weapon yeoman classification so have some archers within.
The two clans clash near a farm house.

Besides the combat units,  the Okudaira have the addition of a musical party sporting a large uma jirushi standard with the red fan personal symbol which is used also on the conch shell horn-blower's tunic and on the war drum.

Monday, 16 January 2017

"Great leader, is getting shot at the best course of action??"

Played a great game of "The Men Who Would Be Kings" Osprey rules (TMWWBK) hosted be WillB at the recent club night.  It was an interesting scenario, apparently straight out of the rule book, having, in this case, WillB's  c.1880 era Russians Colonial forces on one end of the table with the British and Imperial forces opposite and both needing to move to the other end to win respectively. The Afghans (under my dubious command) were in the middle, unfriendly to both.

The rules have the players roll up their leaders in a very role-playing fashion. This sometimes provides bonus and...sometimes not.  For instance, one of my Afghan sword-wielding units had a coward for a leader and so could not charge (!) and thus not the most potent of offensive units....

Another unit had a leader smoking hashish (it is assumed) for a separate roll of a d6 each turn determines the units leadership roll - good or poor -whether he was hyper or dulled by the influence!  [ for the record he was super-leader during the entire battle ]

Or the red-clad "regulars", who had an 'idiot' for a leader.  If the commanding player roles a 1 on a d6 should he wish to do anything with this unit, it is not he but the enemy player who commands them.  Obviously then, that player is most likely issue an order contrary to his best benefit!  Of course, should a roll of a 1 be detrimental, I will, more likely than not,  roll it.  And so it was in this game that, not once, but twice (!!), the unit was brought out from the safety of the rooftop into the open for the Russian player (PeterM) to shoot them down. (the quote of the post title is the ranker's response to this action I would add)
the Afghan regulars with an idiot for a leader ( note that the Afghan national flag during the era was simply a solid black banner with no markings)  Building and figures painted by and in the collection of WillB.

Neither Imperialist gained their game winning conditions so the victory went to the Afghans.  Another interesting and fun game with the TMWWBK rules.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

ECW pike rebasing...again...sigh...

What is it with me and my ECW collection?  How many times will I rebase the darn thing?!

Well, OK, this rebasing (the fourth, or is it the fifth time?) is only the pike elements and not the entire collection.  I made the visual/mental error in thinking - regarding my own predilections - that the pike should remain in a regular formation of even ranks and files.  But this basing contrasted with the rest of the collection - another visual "unifying" predilections kicking in, I guess - so I finally decided that the circular basing would indeed work also for the pike.  I had to order for new mdf bases.......

Here is a comparison of the two styles:
old (in rear), new (in front) and hopefully the final basing of these units painted almost thirty years ago!
As the poses of my old pike units do vary considerably, the irregular pattern now does rather compliments than distracts - in my jaded opinion.   More skirmish-y look also, which is the feel of the rules (a Lion Rampant version or the newer Pikemen's Lament).
the 'old' basing to the left, newer to the right
I have the 12 pikemen glued onto four bases with a 4 figure, 3, 2, and 1 figure base of different sizes/shapes to allow for any varying number of casualties to be removed.

The interesting visual perception, for me at least,  is it having a much "tighter" formation with the newer circular bases even though the width is but ten percent shorter than the older square style.