Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hobbit - Battle of the Five Armies

Out for Christmas...  can not wait...!


Monday, July 28, 2014

John Corrigan Memorial game 2014 - "The Bridge Demolition" - The Game

So on to the game...

First, DG and I sat down and drew up the cards for random British arrival..  it turned out that arrivals would appear predominately in turns 4-6,  with only one arrival in each of turns 2 and 3.

Next we then threw for sides (high dice chose) - DG won this and went for the British ("I fancy attacking", he said.. gulp!)

We then diced for who would be first moving player - DG also won this as I remember, but in quite possibly the most expensive mistake of the game I neglected to take my opportunity to inflict damage on the bridge in the firing phase of this turn!

The initial moves were dominated by the cavalry clash between the on table American and British cavalry (acting as vedettes and advance party respectively) - there were a couple of inconclusive clashes before I finally managed to drive them off...  first blood to me...

The following is about move 4 - American troops debouch from the bridge in a desperate attempt to deploy before the British hordes (some of which you can see in the distance) arrive...  the American Dragoons control the road following those initial clashes..

Next - a little later, perhaps just one move, and a view of the arriving British units, the discombobulated British dragoons are at top  (yellow pin - "shaken"); on the bridge the engineers are hard at work - only 7 of the 10 strength points left.....   damned tourists on the river enjoy the view

Bloody hundreds of them!

The game is fairly simple for the American/defender - get all of your troops across the river as quickly as possible, and deploy as quickly as possible, and then throw good dice....  I'll give myself 60% for effort..

In the following, which is about move 7'ish, the Green Mountain Boys (by the bridge, backs to us) are being roughly handled by increasing numbers of damned German lick-spittle mercenaries (amazing how you get in to the mind set.. ) but are giving as good as the get (shaken pins feature heavily). Off shot the American cavalry, which has been driven off, is desperately trying to recover.  DG's artillery is struggling for targets as one of the advantages (for me) of his large numbers is that they keep blocking his line of sight! Only 4 strength points left, and the pressure is immense..  great fun!

Same move, American left flank.. we have a unit if Hessians routing(top left - red pin), but always more Germans turn up to replace them - the volleys crash out, units are shaken, and dirty brown powder smoke drifts across the battlefield (authentic Welsh sheep wool rescued from barbed wire fences that DG bought with him once - looks very good I think.. )...

Following - same move American right flank - in WWII they would have called that a cab rank!

Next, two or three moves later and we are getting to the finale - just two strength points left but I am running out of troops and have had to throw in my reserve (the Militia on the bridge) - they didn't stand long, and neither did the Green Mountain Boys behind them, but they did gove the engineers long enough for another throw - we were down to one point remaining and the tension was ratcheting up!

...but it was not to be - the British cavalry saw off mine (geting their revenge for that first failure back at the beginning of the game) and with no troops left to change the outcome, and the engineers driven off, I conceded the game (following)...  well done DG!

Post Match Analysis:
  • I had worried at the beginning of the game that 10 points wasn't enough for the bridge strength, as I went through the first 5 or 6 turns not missing a roll once - but then I had a few misses, and the British units started to conglomerate, and in the end I thought it was perfect. NB. In the original scenario Charles recommends setting the amount of time to destroy the bridge as twice the amount of time it takes for a unit to get from side of the table to the other with whatever rules you are using...
  • DG took 21pts of casualties out of a total of 65 points so approximately 30% casualties - I'd say the vast majority of that was either the artillery, or failed morale checks..  I lost 19 out of 35 over 50% casualties and I'd say that majority of that was melee outcomes and morale checks. DG never did manage to get his artillery superiority dialled in as they were consistently too close to his own troops to be able to fire.....
  • The game lasted about 16 turns - that would be about  2 hours and forty minutes in real time - a brisk little engagement!
  • Refreshment on the evening was cold and liquid - it was a hot and sultry evening in the loft - Tesco Biere d'Or, and a bowl of Cheese and Onion snacks (to replace lost salt ) was the order of the day
I like to think that Lofty C would have enjoyed that - it was a lot of fun and a huge lift to the spirits!

Friday, July 25, 2014

John Corrigan Memorial game 2014 - "The Bridge Demolition" - Set Up

Hard to believe that another year has gone by, but with DG down for a visit (in rather sad circumstances, but every cloud and all that..) he suggested a visit to the hot and stuffy loft, and it seemed churlish not to suggest that this would be the ideal time to fight the 2014 John Corrigan Memorial game, specially as we didn't get the opportunity to do it in 2013...  

For those of you who don't know who John was, he was the guy who single-handedly kick started my American War of Independence* project, when he gifted me literally hundreds of beautifully painted Minifigs he no longer wanted. Lofty C, as he was known, was an ex-marine, good company, and would have given you the shirt off his back - hard to believe its been over 3 years since he died.

Being the John Corrigan Memorial game then the period was decided - we always use John's figures for this game.. John was also old school, he knew a lot of the original gamers, and in some cases had actually played them, so when choosing a scenario I tend to go old school as well - the first one was "Action in the Plattville Valley", the second one was "Wagon Train", and this time I went to Teasers blog and chose "Bridge Demolition"..

*(he would never have called it "Revolution" )


Scenario map is as follows:

...which I translated to the following using my TSS terrain tiles and scenery:


For this game the Americans will be Red (the Defenders), so the British (naturally) will be Blue and attacking - I have slightly modified the orders of battle as defined in the scenario so as to meet what I have in my collection, but also to reflect more closely the cavalry light nature of the conflict...

American (Red)

1 Squadron of Cavalry (Dragoons)
5 Regiments of Infantry
1 Gun (Light)
1 unit of Engineers (for bridge demolition)

The engineers are a specific unit but without SP's (Strength Points) - they act as Light Infantry for movement/firing. If they are hit, or an enemy unit is on the bridge then their demolition efforts for that turn are interrupted - there are no other morale/damage effects from fire...

British (Blue)

2 Squadrons of Cavalry (Dragoons)
9 Regiments of Infantry
2 Gun (Light)

British arrival is decided by chance - they start with one unit on table (one of the two cavalry squadrons), the other twelve units we divided into pairs and wrote up on 6 cards..  we then turned them over, shuffled them,and then threw two dice per card - one for odd/even (ie. A or B entry point) and one for the turn number they arrive..

Victory Conditions:

The scenario victory conditions as defined are solely based round the destruction of the bridge - Blue need to capture it before Red can destroy it; there are no conditions about friendly forces stranded the wrong side of the river.

I use Will McNallys AWI rules for this period (have done for years - they're free, supremely elegant, and well recommended) and will use a flavour of the rules as documented to run the mechanics for destroying the bridge - in summary, the bridge is given 10 strength points, in their firing turn the engineers have an opportunity to throw greater than 7 on 2D6 to remove 1 point from the total - when the value gets to 0 then a further dice is thrown (as suggested in the scenario) to see when the bridge actually collapses..

6 - bridge is destroyed at once. 
5 - bridge is destroyed at once. 
4 - bridge is destroyed at the end of next move. 
3 - bridge is destroyed in two moves time. 
2 - more work is required — add 2 strength points
1 - more work is required — add 3 strength points

Stay tuned for the battle...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Le vaisseau "Le St-Philbert"

Minor post/snippet... the following caught my eye when we visited the church opposite the Chateau de Noirmoutier...

I blame it on too much Aubrey in my life..  but the model was absolutely exquisite, and I couldn't figure out why it was in a church so I took some pictures and thought to find what I could about it next time I was near the web..

According to the label:

She is "Le Saint-Philbert" - the 1802 refers to when the model was made rather than the ship, but I think this was made fairly close to when the ship was in use..

She was made for Auguste Jacobsen (the Jacobsen family were important in the development of Noirmoutier - three generations of them transformed the island building dikes, the harbour front, developing the salt business etc) by a local watch maker - I have no idea why it was made, other than that the ship is named after after the monk Saint Philibert, who in 674 founded a monastery on what is now Noirmoutier town so their is a link..

She is a fairly typical third/fourth rate of the age, though small by Napoleonic standards - 40 to 50 guns with two complete gun decks, usually plus a few smaller carriage guns mounted on the gaillards); and the dimensions are in the label above but I have had no luck whatsoever in finding out any more about her... it may well be that the model is just representative??

Ex Voto refers to the fact that she is a votive offering to a saint or divinity as fulfillment of a vow, or in gratitude or devotion - so that may account for the name, it certainly accounts for why the model is in the church. I did find reference to an event in 1747 when a British ship of 50 guns (now is that significant), the Maidstone, hit a rock and sank while on blockade of the island, so may be that?

If anyone has any other information feel free to share..  ...  lovely model though.. 😊

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kindle bargains!

Amazon have a summer sale on...

Bolt Action WWII rules [clicky] - £1.89 (I bought this one purely to have a read and see what all the fuss is about)

Bolt Action: Armies of Germany [clicky]
£1.09 (got this too..!)

Bolt Action: Armies of the Soviet Union [clicky] £1.19


Max Hastings Armageddon the Battle for Germany 1944-5 [clicky] £1.09 (excellent - I have this in hardback)

If you're of that ilk - and I'm not - these are also about a pound each

In Her Majesty's Name: Steampunk Skirmish Wargaming Rules (Osprey Wargames 3)

Heroes, Villains and Fiends: A Companion for In Her Majesty's Name (Osprey Wargames)

Lots of other bargains here [clicky]... fill yer boots..

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book review/catch up..

The thing about holidays (for me at least ) is that I end up reading a quite astonishing number of books - far more than the little grommets to the left (the "currently reading"/"just read" boxes) can easily cope with... I'd be updating them daily... so in order to bring you up to speed the following have been finished since my last review ("Freedom Trap" by Desmond Bagley).....

First off the chocks was this one by Berwick Coates - now I've not read any of his books before but will happily read any more that he writes (there is one out set in the same period titled "The Last Viking" which I'm guessing is about Harold Hardrada and the Battle of Stamford Bridge). This one is set round the Battle of Hastings campaign..

The author writes grittily, not sparing the mud and the squalor that was an integral part of the age, his cast of characters is huge, but both Norman and Saxon, rich and poor. I guess that the central character is probably Gilbert, a novice scout in William the Conquerors army. We follow the campaign primarily through his story and how he interacts with other characters on both sides of the fight - the story culminates in the battle and I for one had no idea how close the battle actually was at the end, and what a gamble it was for William....  

I enjoyed this, and like the best military fiction I understood a little more about the subject at the end than I did at the beginning as the author includes some notes - 8/10

This holiday (I decided) was going to be a feast of 70's thrillers - so I'd downloaded some more Bagley but also this - which I last read years ago...

Wilbur Smith is a bit of an acquired taste as all the blokes in his books are usually a cross between St Francis, Adonis and Einstein, and his heroine's tend to be a cross between Mother Theresa, Sophie Marceau and Nigella Lawson - paragons of physical beauty and brains...  and completely unbelievable....   When he gets away from this formula though, he's very entertaining, and I think this, along with Eye of the Tiger [clicky] are two of his best..  the characters are well rounded and believable, the setting is superb, and the story is interesting...  for those who haven't read it, it is set in East Africa at the start of WWI, so we have Askaris, elephants, crocodiles, gun running, ivory poaching and the ensuing war between Germany and Portugal in East Africa... add in an early aircraft and the destruction of a German commerce raider, and there's more than enough grist here to start a wargame period! This one gets 9/10 (and if you haven't seen it I also wholeheartedly recommend the film which had Lee Marvin, Roger Moore  and the delectable Barbara Parkins!)

Continuing the 70's thriller theme we then had..

So who else but Alistair Maclean of course... I'd recently read Guns of Navarone, so this was my other "must read"..  the story of a raid on the Bavarian Headquarters of the Gestapo to rescue an American general carrying secret details of the proposed Normandy landings..

If anyone has seen the film, then the book is going to have no surprises, it reads like a script of the film - nothing in the book is not in the film and vice versa..   but if anything it just goes to show what a consummate actor Burton was as his character in the film is an absolute mirror of the character in the book...

For all that though I have to say that this one of those all too rare cases where the film pips the book, as I thought the book was a little...  flat...but that may well be because I've seen the film too many times! This one gets 7/10

Time for a step back into the 21st Century at this point I thought, and so next we had..

Not sure how well known this guy [clicky] will be to my usual reader, but I stumbled across him a few years ago when I read his first book "Driving over Lemons" which was the story of how he and his wife bought a run down farm on the wrong side of a river, high in the mountains of southern Spain...  since then he's also written "Parrot in a Pepper Tree", and this is the third in that series... his claim to fame (apart from the books) is that he was Genesis's first drummer for a short while..

What you get with his books is pure unadulterated (and very refreshing) whimsy..  he describes his life on the farm, the characters he meets and lives with, and what he gets up to (highlights in this book were cooking for TV chef Rick Stein, gorging on plate after plate of tuna for a food competition he was conned into judging, and going to see a barefoot healer about a very personal problem )

I love the books, and recommend them completely..  this one gets an 8 out of 10

Last of all in the catch up we have...

Which was recommended to me by my mate Rod the Mod on this years Jolly Boys Outing [clicky] and I confirm that it was a good call..

Like the Coates book this gave me a far better view of an episode of French history that up until then I had only vaguely been aware of. The book is basically a fictionalised diary of the actual French officer (Georges Picquart [clicky]) who lead the (re)investigation into the arrest of Dreyfus [clicky for Wiki article on the Dreyfus Affair], who was the French army artillery officer arrested on false claims of having been spying for Germany at the end of the 19th Century.

Robert Harris is a cracking writer who manages to describe what itr was like to live in turn of the 20th Century France beautifully...  Picquart is a likeable character, who decides that he cannot stand by in the face of new evidence that Dreyfuss is not guilty of spying, and in spite of warning from all his superiors he goes ahead and ends up being punished, imprisoned, and finally ejected from the army as a result of his push for the truth...  the French army (fresh from their punishment in the Franco Prussian War) is inward looking, secretive, and most of all looking for a quiet life - French society is divided between radical and Catholic/conservative, the political landscape is in upheaval (it reminded me of the books I read on 1940 in France - plus ca change as they say)..  anti--semitic feeling is high...  I didn't know that the French re-opened Devils Island just for Dreyfus - he was the only prisoner...  in the end of course Dreyfus is exonerated and allowed back in the army, as is Picquart...  but the path to that point is extremely rocky, and Harris has written a right page tuner..  very good...  8/10..

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Not dead..

...just resting...

Currently en vacance en Vendee - excellent time being had by all, but look for posts in the near future on my little (local) part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall (and a request for assistance in identification of same), book reviews, and a snippet on the Chateau de Noirmoutier (beautiful!)