Friday, December 28, 2012

Books for your Kindle... #4

Just a very quick post to give you Kindle readers (as in people who read books on their Kindles as opposed to me talking to an electronic device.....which clearly wouldn't make any sense... ) a heads up to an amazing web site/resource for free books to feed the gaping maw of your device....

The site is here [clicky]

New books are added daily, you can filter on specific genres, and all the books are free - mostly from Amazon from what I can tell....

Recommended!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas stocking contents....

This was, without a shadow of a doubt, a good year...

Picture courtesy http://thedabbler.co.uk; I got the "Gem" and the "Wild Hare".. thanks ma & pa-in-law!

Thanks wifey...
Brings the series to a close... is there anything more depressing than the ending of a book or series you've hugely enjoyed? Going to read these slowly I think....
CD and DVD of the reunion show at the 02 - oh yes......!
...and a couple of these too, from the in laws....!
Think I'll have one of the "Summer Lightnings" while I consider how I spend this...

..thanks spuds!

Trust yours was as fine..

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

To all my readers, time I think to wish you all a restful and happy Christmas. May your glasses always be full (of the finest real ale, naturally) and your plates always full, over this festive period....

Meanwhile... in the Union encampment the Christmas post has just arrived....

"Socks again!", said Pvt O'Hara...  "Never mind", said Pvt. Boswell, "at least Pizza Hut are still delivering... this Deep Pan Stuffed Crust Turkey Special with extra Cranberries and Anchovies is absolutely splendid"....  "unh unh ummm slllrp!" said Pvt. Jones.....   don't ask.....

Friday, December 21, 2012

Raid on St. Michel - Game 5 - "Heading Home" - the battle (Part 2).. End of Campaign

So after a period of intense family activity, and a trip with the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer to Bath for our annual extended period of pre-Christmas gluttony and drunkenness away from the sprogs, I finally managed to free up some time to return to the wargame table to complete the game DG and I started just before Warfare four weeks ago! (Thank goodness for the space for a permanent table..)

So in the last game (which you can read here [clicky]) you may remember that the tussle had been a truly gargantuan one, and had swung to and fro with first DG in the lead and then myself and so forth, at least three times (it really has been one of the best games I can remember in some time! ), but when we finished for the evening on move 19 (see next picture) I like to think that I had some kind of ascendancy.....  fear naught however, there was still time to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

So - in the following, from the right - you can see my cavalry (present but weakened) holding that flank - DG's cavalry had routed and he was somewhat wary (rightly I think) of charging formed cavalry with his infantry...

In the centre DG's infantry have crossed the wheat field and are lining the hedge albeit they are in a shaken state (as a result of artillery fire from my gun to their front) and will soon fail their morale test. I still occupy the cottage to the left (by the bridge) - in the mid-distance however, you can see what turned out to be the battle winning manoeuvre as my cuirassiers enter from the left of the wheat field....

On the left - a fresh battalion sits in reserve on the bridge, waiting either for a moment of glory, or a hole to plug.....!

Move 19
...and so the game re-commenced...  I apologise in advance for the picture quality by the way - I didn't have the use of my tripod for this game so I was taking pictures (without flash - I hate flash) by hand, and however hard you try, they're never as sharp...

By move 22 those cuirassiers had captured the wagons and were shepherding them back to the river and safety - job half done..  what worried the hell out of me was the way those two units had managed to reform just behind me!   You'll also note that I couldn't help myself and had charged with my cavalry (just right of the dice).. typical cavalryman..... charge at everything and anything.... either way, a plethora of "shaken" (yellow) markers shows nothing was about to happen and the Swiss on my flank were about to handle me roughly to boot!

Move 22
Just a few moves later  (below) and clearly my worries about the cuirassiers were well founded, though the wagons are well on their way to safety...   (interesting discussion at this point by the way... DG was of the view that as my cuirassiers had routed the wagons should automatically revert to British control.... an argument not without some merit but errrrm...  I wasn't so sure! In the end like all good opponents, we diced for it I think )

You'll note the reserve have advanced to cover their retreat...

Move 25
...three moves later (below) and on the right flank (bottom of picture for this view) DG was pushing hard up the road - a concerted attack by his infantry has pushed the cavalry away (they've routed off screen to the left) - the good news however,is that the wagon are safe in my camp and  I'm now well into a fighting withdrawal over the bridge...

Now it hadn't escaped me that in effect I'd done the British job for them - since the scenario objective was to get the wagons to "home"...  which was over the bridge and up the road....(!) I took the view that DG had no reserves, and it was a damn sight safer to defend them by holding the bridge..  nonetheless I advised DG that his troops had advised him that they could see men unloading the wagons and piling the booty on the side of the river....  if they got across I was going to throw it in, on the grounds I had plenty of time to recover it later and he didn't!

Move 28
End of game (following) at move 30...  I play the Will McNally Seven Years War rules (with modifications for the WSS) and the turn represents approximately 10 minutes so the action translated to about 5 hours of real time -  a brisk little action....  DG conceded at this point recognising that he simply didn't have the strength to carry the bridge....

Move 30

DG's forces were, of course, given the honours of war and were allowed to march home with standards flying but weapons reversed...

..piling the booty back into the wagons!
...and so to the butchers bill....

First the French - 20 points out of a total of 45...  roughly 44% casualties....


..but it pales in comparison with the British - they fought hard.. 34 points lost out of 65..  52%  casualties!


By general agreement battle honours were awarded to the cuirassiers in both armies who did sterling service ....

=========================================

DG and I enjoyed this one and as a first, we played it via Skype in a little over 3 and a half hours... For anyone remote from a regular opponent I recommend it thoroughly, clearly not as good as an across the table set to in person, but a very good second...  my set up was as follows...  my netbook has a built in camera but I spent a mighty £7 on an external camera which I drilled to allow it to be deployed on my camera tripod as it meant I could move it around more easily, to focus on specific parts of the action... sound was good, picture was good, and no technical issues in the entire call..

Skype  set  up...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bargain...!

Just back from the annual trip to Bath with the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer,  where I found this in the local remaindered/bargain book store....   for only £7 - well..... you'd be mad not to right????

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Hornblower so far...!

Enjoying these so much it only seems right that I gather them together in an attempt to interest any of my readers into also trying them...

As a log term admirer of the late Patrick O'Brien (I think his Jack Aubrey series is perhaps the quintessence of naval historical fiction) whose series I read to completion last year, I've long felt the need to do the same for Forester's Hornblower series as almost invariably anyone talking about the genre link the two names as virtually inseparable..

I'd read a couple of the Hornblower books a long time ago, but all of a sudden the opportunity to doi so arose, so taking the bull by the horns I launched myself happily into the series...

Anyone reading the books has a couple of choices on which order to read them, as unlike O'Brien, Forester wrote the books "out of order" chronologically...  so for example he went back and wrote some of the middle period books after he'd written the later books - I get the impression that Forester was not a happy writer and had to be heavily persuaded to sit down and write a new book - little bit like Conan-Doyle and Holmes...

Anyway - I chose the chronological route - so following Hornblower from the start of his naval career to the end...

Mr Midshipman Hornblower - chronologically this is the first of the Hornblower books but interestingly it was written about half way through the series as a "prequel" (blecchhhh..  horrible word). Not a novel as such.more a series of short stories, but just sublime writing.... Forester's Hornblower is a well rounded, complete character, with strengths and weaknesses, and the situations he finds himself in are always interesting, exciting, but not far fetched... as a man he is very different to Lucky Jack Aubrey - self conscious to the point of introspection, slightly humourless, tone deaf to music, thin and tall - what they share is an almost incomprehensible bravery in the face of the enemy ....

A good start....  9/10




Lieutenant Hornblower - second in the series, and the first full book after the series of short stories that made up Midshipman Hornblower...  Hornblower was promoted Lieutenant at the end of the previous book (following his exploits with the fire ships, as Hornblower effectively failed his - first and only - Lieutenants examination!)

This book starts with him as 4th Lieutenant on a 74 gun ship of the line (a two decker) which is commanded by a captain suffering from paranoid delusions... not a happy ship and the captain eventually succumbs following a mysterious fall in the hold..

Command of the the ship devolves to the 1st Lieutenant who is old, and approaching the end of his naval career, still without command, and disappointed. The ship carries on with its orders, and thanks largely to Hornblower's efforts they are largely successful..  At the every end Hornblower is finally offered a command only for the Peace of Amiens to be signed just as he gets home, and Horblower finds himself beached on half  pay...  9/10

Hornblower and the Hotspur - with the Peace of Amiens under strain and war with France imminent Hornblower is still on half pay and scraping a living from gambling (he's a highly skilled whist player). One of his fellow players is a senior naval officer, and is aware of what happened to Hornblower at the end of the previous book. Thanks to his influence Hornblower is promoted to Commander of the sloop HMS Hotspur. Pausing only to marry his landlady's daughter in too much haste (and out of pity) he is ordered to Brest to carry out reconnoitring duties before the war breaks out, there his ship is almost overwhelmed and captured by a French frigate. Once war fully breaks out, and the rest of the British fleet arrives to  blockade Brest, Hornblower's restlessness and perfectionism results prompts him to lead attacks and landing parties.

In spite of gaining an increasing reputation as a capable officer, Hornblower has never made a financial profit, & unlike Jack Aubrey he also has a fairly negative view of the prize system (another big difference between the two). Cornwallis, who is in command of the blockading fleet takes a shine to him and sends him on a mission that should allow him to to make a large amount of money from a Spanish treasure convoy - instead, true to form Hornbblower sees the bigger picture, and despite the differences in size Hotspur holds off a stronger enemy frigate sent to warn the convoy and misses out ont he prize money. Happily, the treasure is eventually seized by the crown so no prizes were received, but his actions do not go unnoticed. At the end of the book, his wife delivers him a son and as a result of the action with the frigate he is promoted Post Captain as one of the final acts of a retiring Admiral Cornwallis... another 9/10 - the action with the frigate is absolute gold dust

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Raid on St. Michel - Game 5 - "Heading Home" - the battle (Part 1)..

I'm way overdue posting this as the game mostly took place the night before Warfare (which is a few weeks ago now). I say mostly because we never managed to finish it on the night and I wanted to do that before I put up the game report...

So to start the set up was described here [clicky] - yikes - that was January!

Suffice to say that this was the forgotten game of the five that make up the mini campaign (see left) and I still have no idea how we managed to do that.. If you select the "St. Michel" label to the left (just under the picture of the Hanomag's), or click here, you'll get taken to the series as whole (in reverse order so start at the bottom) where, if you wish, you can refresh your memory on events leading to this final game... game four was 2 years ago - yee gods where does the time go?!!

Orders of Battle:

My calculations were slightly off in the set up post and I also made some changes to allow the French a slightly better chance at making a good game in the face of what looks like a fairly significant British force, so the orders of battle ended up as follows:


Summary of changes from set up post:
  • I added a militia regiment (ie. reduced morale) just to add a little bulk to the French force which was quite small in comparison to the British force
  • There was a half squadron of heavy cavalry - I disbanded them and spread the strength points among the other cavalry units to bring them up to full strength... 
Next the British:


Summary of changes from set up post:
  • I disbanded Rechteren and Ingoldsby's and distributed the strength points among the other infantry regiments - I took the decision to make two of them 6 strength as that would make them considerably more "sticky" in morale terms - important for assaults which tend to be bloody
  • There was a half squadron of heavy cavalry -  I bought them up to full strength on an arbitrary whim as DG was very low on cavalry.. and to be honest still was even after I'd done that!
...and so on to..

The Game

So the objective of the game is for the British to get their loot (carried in 3 carts) over the bridge on the left, and off the table edge...  the French in the meanwhile, heavily outnumbered are going to do their damnedest to stop them - and being in defence have something of an advantage..

As the French I had no plans to assault or go offensive, except to support my primary aim which was a defensive one....  OK.. if I saw a chance to finish off a damaged unit I would attack but otherwise the name of the game was "wait and see"...

Move 1

Start of game (picture above - click any of the pictures for a bigger view) and the French (me) have deployed conservatively - two regiments of foot in camp, with the remaining two in the village...  like bee's to honey the artillery had deployed on the high ground..

I deployed my cavalry on the far right flank as that would be where my cavalry shadowing force would arrive giving them an opportunity to act in unison...  it was also a fairly open terrain, the corn fields block line of sight but there is no terrain/firing modifier. In the far distance behind the yellow tape, the British vanguard has entered...

Also move 1

Same turn but a different view (picture above) - this time from the camp to the right of the river in the first picture - my other artillery piece is limbered far left - both regiments in camp are regulars...  in the village the regiment in the second line are those militia...

Move 5

Move 5 things have started to develop - on the right the first of my cavalry shadowing force have started to arrive - one of my regiments from the camp is crossing the bridge, the second artillery piece is about to deploy on a low hill to help with line of sight - lots of British arrivals in what was to be a bit of a headache for DG; loads of troops and nowhere to deploy them outside of artillery range (which in my case was to about that lone fir tree by the church hill....)

Move 12

Move 12 (note the use of the dice in the picture to tell me the turn number so I don't forget when I'm looking at the pictures after the game! )

The cavalry have deployed and two of the squadrons have advanced across the central corn field, as that regiment to their front has taken some significant damage from my artillery in the centre, and I saw a chance of seeing them off for good...  no such luck - damaged as they were they still saw off both squadrons - an expensive mistake...

In the village - the single base by the house indicates that the house is occupied by the regiment previously seen crossing the bridge - I intend to make it a strong point ......

Move 17

Move 17

At approx 10 minutes real time per game move this is the position roughly 3 hours into the battle,  and we are really going hammer and tongs now....
  • My medium cavalry has been roughly handled; centre right you can see two separate squadrons in disaray either because of failed formation change or failed morale. 
  • In the centre I have limbered the artillery and am in the process of moving them to the left flank of the infantry manning the hedge to provide some close support for what I know is coming...
  • My cuirrasiers can be seen in column heading between house and bridge where they subsequently covered themselves in glory...
  • DG's infantry are getting pounded by two sources - the artillery on the left in particular had relocated due to the arrival of  DG's own artillery, but had found itself in an ideal position to pound anything moving down the open side of the corn field  in this case the Scots of Orkney's Regiment. They are also taking damage from the "strong point"....
In the next move Orkney's failed their morale check and routed, but where then charged by those cuirrasiers - in the subsequent test they surrender!

....and there we left it on the night - we're hoping to finish this via Skype if we can get our acts together!