Sunday, 18 December 2011

It was a slow, quiet evening at the garage on Thursday.  Our ad-hoc game had pretty much run its course and we were all aware that we needed to have everything put away before starting the next campaign battle which as I previously mentioned pits the Austrian juggernaut against a handful of Bavarians.
    Still we have had a chance to test out some of the rule amendments which we came up with and everyone seems happy with the new skirmisher rules.  I particularly like the idea of stopping overhead firing by artillery though we haven't really had too much chance to see how that might affect one of the larger games.  However it certainly makes people consider their artillery deployment regarding lanes of fire instead of the usual mad rush to the nearest hilltop.
A Brigade of Hesse-Darmstadt troops take position in and around a village.
As a matter of fact we were so efficient in clearing the figures away once we'd agreed there was little left to play on that I completely forgot to take any photographs of the proceedings.  So I've been out in the garage setting up a few "action" shots and browsing my photo library for something to lighten up the obligatory waffle. 
Another posed shot, this time French infantry advance in support of an eight pound foot battery.  All figures from Elite miniatures, the infantry were all painted by Neil Sheardown who sadly no longer paints.

I've been having all sorts of problems with Blogspot lately.  The primary one being that I appear unable to leave comments on other peoples' blogs.  I know it works because I've been successful in the past but now I regularly go through the rigmarole of making my comment and copying down the squiggly word only to find that I'm back at my own blog and being asked to sign in once again.  This is particularly frustrating because from my own experience I know how important comments are to those who produce blogs.  They are I suppose a form of validation from like minded individuals and let's be honest there's a fair degree of pleasure in reading the nice things people have to say about your toys.  I will of course persist in trying to make comments but I do have a low tolerance threshold when it comes to repeatedly entering the same comment only to have it disappear in to the ether.

Poles posing for the camera this time.  These beauties were all painted by Justin Davey and are once again all from Elite.

While I'm on the subject of comments, Doc mentioned that he hadn't heard of Firing Line miniatures so I did a bit of checking and it appears they were bought by Bicorne Miniatures in 2001.  At the time they were the only producers of Wurtemburgers that I was aware of though now Front Rank have stepped up to the plate with a release of Wurtemburg infantry.  I believe Front Rank will be adding artillery and cavalry in the New Year.

Russian Grenadiers advancing with a little support from their Prussian friends.

That's about all for now it only remains for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year.  There may be a brief hiatus over the holiday period but normal service will resume with hopefully some news of the latest battle in the campaign.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

Thursday night was a continuation of Erics' scenario which pitted a Russian force against French and allied defenders.  Early moves saw the introduction of a fresh heavy cavalry brigade for the Russians followed by more infantry on the French side.  This has left the Russians with twenty battalions in three divisions against twenty five French battalions in four divisions though the Russians have the advantage in heavy cavalry. 

Elite miniatures Russian dragoons and uhlans arrive to bolster the centre and drive a wedge between the two French infantry commands.

It was about this time that I realised that we'd actually achieved one the original aims that I'd had when I first decided to convert the garage into a gaming room.  This was the ability to fight large games using troops from just one of the allied nations that opposed the French rather than having to amalgamate divisions and corps from various nations.  We can now put on games using just Russians and to a lesser extent the Prussians, though the Austrians are as yet not available in large enough numbers especially the cavalry arm.
    My original plan had been for about sixty French and Allied battalions plus a division each of old and young guard along with enough cavalry and artillery to support them.  These would be opposed by approximately forty battalions each of the three allied nations again with supporting arms.  The French army was accumulated more quickly than I had imagined possible largely due to their availability on ebay and through the efforts of various people who wanted to paint them and we went past the original requirement some time ago though we still have no old guard.  The Allies on the other hand have taken longer with the Russians being the only faction which at the moment is strong enough to challenge the French on equal terms.  This said it's an encouraging development and the next step will be to try and bolster Prussian numbers.

More cavalry action and all that remains of two squadrons of French lancers after mixing it with the Mariopol Hussars.

Back to Thursday night and we were graced with the presence of both Dom and Neil for the first time in ages, Dom has been unavailable due to his having to study and Neil has been away growing a beard.  Both were pitted against each other on the night with Dom attempting unsuccessfully to stem the tide of Neils' Russian cavalry.  It was an education for both of them as neither had played using the rule amendments which we're currently trying and though these have a minimal effect on cavalry there were some useful discussions regarding other changes. 
    It was then that I had my second epiphany of the evening, as we discussed the rules regarding skirmishers Dom made a suggestion proposing the introduction of elite skirmishers and I realised then that we all have subtly different conceptions and prejudices regarding how our rules should reflect the period.  Not much of an epiphany you might think but when you're trying to introduce rule amendments it lead me to consider whether the committee approach which we're currently using is necessarily the best option.  Perhaps we would be better served by having a sort of "informed dictatorship" whereby one person decides which amendments to use or not and everyone else abides by them.  That is in effect largely the way published rule sets operate though in time they normally succumb to tweaking.  Of course this always presupposes the availability of someone willing and able to play the part of the informed dictator and it's not something I'd like to do so for the time being at least I think we'll be sticking with the open forum, giving everyone the chance to put their ideas into the pot regardless of how odd they may seem to the rest of us.

Wurtemburg infantry from Firing Line Miniatures advance to support Nicks' infantry.

Back to Thursday nights game once more and it appears that the French right has now stabilised with the arrival of another infantry division and in fact it now significantly outnumbers Marks Russians.  On the left the Poles who have taken heavy casualties have been bolstered by a Swiss division and are in the process of negating the attack of the two Russian divisions assigned to the area.  So it's in the centre that the Allies have been able to make the largest inroads with their cavalry able to sweep aside the small French light cavalry contingent and they now have the options of sweeping around to threaten the flank of either French command.

More Wurtemburgers, infantry and artillery this time attempting to block up the hole in the French centre.
I'm not sure how many turns we'll continue for, considering that this game is designed as a rule test scenario it's probably already done its job.  That isn't to say there isn't more testing that needs to be done as small problems tend to arise every now and again with the tweaks we've already put in place.  So we'll most likely play two or three more moves and then tidy everything away in readiness for the next campaign battle.  This will see the  mighty Austrian war machine finally deigning to take an active part in the campaign by pitting itself  against the almost insignificant forces of Bavaria.

Mark Votier's four gun redoubt made of resin and manned by an Austrian foot battery which has just been returned to its former glory after Eric mistakenly "varnished" them with grey spray paint.

And Finally.....  I thought it would be nice to show a couple of shots of a redoubt made by our newest regular member, Mark.  This four gun redoubt is for London wargamer Nick Farrel and I believe Mark is making others of various sizes for Nick including a huge six gun position.  Once that order is complete Mark is going to make a few for the garage as well.  Mark is trying to set himself up as a commercial model maker and so I'm doing my bit by unashamedly promoting his work.

A front view of the redoubt this time manned by Russian Artillery.  My own ones will be greener to fit in with the terrain here and the ditch in the front will probably have a few chevaux de frise inside.

That's all for now, I'm off to see if I've got the correct spelling for "chevaux de frise".

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The run in to Christmas

It looks as if we're heading into another period of minimal activity in the garage as the Christmas holidays draw closer so the likelihood is of more one off games to allow us to thoroughly test any proposed rule amendments.  On Thursday evening with only four of us being able to make it we decided to wrap up the previous weeks' game and Eric, who has a knack for these things quickly devised an attack and defence scenario to further test our theories. 

A couple of squadrons of Elite Miniatures lancers part of a French contingent which has been making life difficult for the Russian infantry.

The scenario set a Russian force, initially of two infantry divisions, against a defending French and Allied force also of two divisions.  The French had the advantage of holding a defensive line between two villages while the Russians were able to deploy anywhere along their side of the table.  Things went quite well for the Russians on the right where a veteran division of six battalions and a three gun battery were able to force the French defenders from the woods to their front.  The arrival of a further division allowed them to maintain the momentum of the attack and with the advantage of numbers and the French left is now looking a little shaky. 

The Russian attack on the left has run into problems after trying to assault a dug in enemy.

On the Russian left however, things didn't go so well.  The nine battalions supported by a six gun battery found it difficult to dislodge an enemy which was almost equal to it in strength and were forced back to regroup.  This allowed a hole to appear in the centre of the Russian position which the French lancers gleefully exploited by running down a couple of battalions.  This wasn't helped by the Russian commanders' inability to throw the correct dice for the arrival of reserves and the light cavalry division of two Hussar and one Uhlan regiments didn't make an appearance until the last turn of the evening. 

French line infantry garrisoning one of the villages on the Russian left.  The village has been very kindly loaned to me by Mark Freeth who runs Wargames Holiday Centre.

So the game remains quite balanced and though I suspect there may be more troops yet to arrive on the French side much will rely on how effectively the Russians can use their cavalry to isolate the two French divisions by pushing through the centre.  We'll have to wait until next week when there should be one or two more players available to command the reserves.

    Finally I'd just like to say thanks to those kind folks who took the trouble to place a comment on last weeks post.  In answer to Doc's question, using ITGM the Russians in the village can fire at the supporting French battalion as long as the skirmishers are within four inches of it.  Casualties are shared with one in three coming off of the skirmishers.  When the French charge (if they do) the skirmishers are automatically moved to the rear of the battalion and take no part in any subsequent melee.

A recent new arrival to the garage is this regiment of thirty six Austrian uhlans.  Elite miniatures once again.  Unfortunately Dom appears to have fixed their lances with flour and water as most of them have fallen off.  Still they're very pretty and make a most welcome addition to the Austrian cavalry arm.