Monday, 21 March 2011

Guns, Guns, Guns.

We continue with Doms' interpretation of megolomaniac Napoleonic warfare and by now the Prussians and Austrians have forced the French back into an ever decreasing defensive area.  Eric on the right with the Austrians is having a difficult time of things and occaisionally glances over at me and shakes his head.  In fairness he has had to advance over difficult terrain against a forbidding gunline whilst on the left my Prussians have been able to advance almost unmolested and are now in a position to start making life very difficult for the French right wing.  Still no Neil this week so once again it's down to my photos which for some reason appear to be mostly of guns.

The majority of the Prussian gun line, two six pounder batteries and a horse battery with their flank supported by cavalry.

Thankfully for the French, they have just received some reinforcements though these are still arriving on table and it's not possible to see what they are just yet.  This small ray of hope is balanced by the knowledge that three divisions of Russians will also shortly be arriving to bolster the already large number of Allied troops jostling each other for table space.

The rest of the Prussian gunline, an elite twelve pounder battery.

We're trying out a new development on artillery rules in this game.  We've gone back to four gun foot batteries, but now each battery is given a rating of elite, line or militia.  Elite batteries fire using eight sided dice on the "to hit" table and line use ten sided whereas militia batteries use twelve sided dice.  This makes elite batteries particularly effective in counter battery fire.

having taken the first line of hills the Austrians have now set up their guns at close range and are attempting to dislodge the next lot of French defenders.

I'm personally not sure about the new rule yet as I'm always wary of anything that makes artillery more effective than it already is, especially at long range.  If we're going to keep using this method then elite grade batteries will need to be kept to a minimum, though it does allow for the big six gun Russian batteries to be graded as militia for firing purposes.

Cleve-Berg infantry take cover behind the crest line awaiting Andy's attack in the centre.

The game continues on wednesday when we'll probably find out what the makeup of the French reinforcements is, I'm betting on at least one regiment of cuirassier but probably two plus more infantry.  It may even be that Justin will be dropping in to visit us which will be particularly welcome because he always brings posh biscuits.

Calpe Prussians, Silesians painted by Neil Sheardown which arrived at the garage too late to take part in the current battle but most welcome nonetheless.

I've just started painting up some Front Rank Russian infantry in greatcoats.  I've never painted Front Rank figures before but they're quite nice to paint and have a high level of detail.  Once I get a few finished I'll stick a picture up.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Weekend of Play Testing

I've just spent the weekend at the new wargames holiday centre play testing rules for the upcoming Marlburian games and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised.

Bavarian Infantry defending Obersdorf

To be honest I'd played a couple of games at the original WHC over the years and had never been overly impressed.  I think this was mainly due the fact that I was there to get my annual Napoleonic fix and viewed anything else as a necessary evil to keep the other punters happy. 

British heavy cavalry, these lads turned out to be very tough indeed.

I still don't pretend to understand much about the period.  I couldn't say when the Seven Years War, The War of the Spanish Succession or the Great Northern War took place and more importantly have no idea of the differences between them.  Though I would assume its the varying levels of technology and strategy.  To further complicate things I believe one or more of them is referred to as the Lace Wars though I could be wrong and probably am.

The Elector (not sure of what) with more Bavarians

To be fair I shouldn't be surprised that I enjoyed the games so much, look at the number of blogs and articles on TMP which enthuse about the period and it's clear that it has a great appeal for many gamers.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to melt down the Napoleonics and start buying hundreds of 18th century figures but I definitely found myself warming to the period and developing a historical interest.

British and Allied troops cross the nebel stream using fascines (bundles of sticks apparently).

It was decided to refight the battle of Blenheim, though as it was a playtest we only used a small portion of the orbats for the first day as though all of us had used the rules before it was quite some time ago.  In addition The rules we had were basically fast play sheets with a few paragraphs of definitions and explanatory notes.  Not surprisingly we found ourselves applying some Napoleonic mechanisms to fill in the gaps with varying levels of success.

French Line Battalions manning the defences of Blenheim.  Infantry proved to be remarkably resilient.

On the second day we laid out the whole battlefield with complete orbats and made our deployments in order to generate specific situations.  Cavalry against infantry, infantry against infantry defending earthworks, that sort of thing. This allowed us to test as many of the game mechanics as we could think of and threw up lots of questions to which we hopefully found suitable solutions.

British cavalry line out to cover the advance of the infantry.

The final day was spent in the same way as the previous one with lots of time spent discussing rule interpretations and trying to get an idea of how warfare was carried at this time, both tactically and strategically.  The only book on the period I own is Chandlers "Marlborough as a Military Commander" which while in itself seems to be a good reference only scratches the surface of the wars which were fought at this time.  So if anyone knows which are the must have books or know of any good online sources I'd be grateful to hear from you.

Friday, 4 March 2011

As Neil Diamond once said, "Hello again, Hello".  The more astute reader may have noticed a slight period of inactivity here at the Garage of late.  I'd like to be able to say that I've been busy saving the world or showing Jennifer Aniston how to get over Brad Pitt, even a couple of months at Her Majesties pleasure would be preferable to admitting that I just got lazy.  The thing is the longer I left it the lazier I got, but that's now hopefully all in the past and without further ado it's time to tell you all about what's been going on here in the past few months. 
     Actually there hasn't been a great deal happening.  We still haven't started the new campaign yet as Neil who is running it hasn't been able to attend due to family commitments.  This is also the reason why the accompanying photographs in this entry aren't up to Neils' usual high standard.  We've had a couple of games in the intervening period which has allowed us to try out some rule modifications and at the moment are just into a new game devised by Dom which pits nearly all of our Prussians and Austrians against what appears to be a very small French force.

Austrians under the command of Eric advance in force against Doms' gun line.

Dom for those of you who don't know, runs a second world war megagame each year using thousands of little square things which are meant to be the various tanks and such like that second world war gamers like so much.  Clearly his megolomania has once again gripped him and the orbat for this game basically reads "clear the shelves of any troops you see and put them on the table".  Well to be more accurate those are the orders for the Allies.  The French orbat appears to be much more parsimonious, (I've always wanted to use that word).  It seems to consist of a thin line of French and Polish infantry backed up by some guns.  This is fine by me as I'm playing the Prussians.

 Some of the aforementioned Prussians, Elite cavalry and mostly Calpe infantry.

We're a bit shorthanded at the moment, as well as Neil being away Steve is working all the hours of the week and Andy has just recovered from man flu, so we're only up to turn six.  However we had a productive night last night and the Allied assault is well under way with the Prussians winning the early cavalry encounters.

 French infantry who presently appear to have little other option than to take what's coming.

One thing I have had the chance to do in the past few weeks is to pop along to the new Wargames Holiday Centre which has now been moved to a new site just outside Basingstoke.  I was lucky enough to get along to the inaugural weekend game which of course had to be Waterloo.  I didn't originally go along to play, just to lend a litttle moral support to Mark Freeth who is the new man at the helm.  However on the Sunday the guy playing the British right flank was unable to come along due to illness and I was coerced into taking on his command, or what was left of it.  Despite having three divisions of infantry and a cavalry division I discovered that Hougomont was held by just two battalions of Brunswickers and that all of the artillery on this flank had been lost.  Hougomont inevitably fell with hardly a shot fired, and from then on it was really just a case of trying to stem the tide of blue coated troops who gleefully raced around the flank. 

 More Calpe Prussians, advancing in column of march this time.

The game was adjudged a French victory but more importantly was a great success for Marks' first weekend  with paying customers.  Throughout the game there were website updates with a turn by turn description of the game.  I was surprised to find out how many people were actually following proceedings online.  Mark has lots of other games planned including WWII, ACW and even Marlburian, if you're interested I'll be sticking the link to the shiney new website on the end of this post.

Elite Prussian Landwehr advancing behind the line troops.

Finally as many of you will be aware Mike Ingham who took over the running of the  WHC from Peter Gilder many years ago, passed away on the 6th of February after a long illness.  Sadly he never got to see the new WHC but was instrumental in helping Mark set it up and was enormously enthusiastic about the whole project.  Mike was a kind, thoughtful, intelligent and funny man who I shall personally miss enormously, as I know will so many others both in the wargaming fraternity and in the wider world.  I was able to attend his funeral in Scarborough on the 14th  along with so many others who had been privelidged to know him and it was a fitting celebration of his life.  My thoughts are with Margeret his wife, and his family.

The website address for the new WHC is: