Saturday, November 24, 2018

"La ferme d'abondance" - set up and game..

With the arrival of DG in the south for the weekend's Warfare trip, as is usual with us we looked to slip in a quick game while he was down, and thoughts soon returned to that all too dissatisfying game [clicky] we had for the John Corrigan Memorial a few months ago..  the scenario was superb but balance of play with a randomised force had lead to a somewhat one sided game..  We'd had some idea's about the OOB's being more balanced as in this game cavalry is key, and these were used as the basis for this game...

So it was, that with the table still set from last time, I suggested we play again, but this time in either 15mm War of the Spanish Succession mode or 20mm American Civil War mode; DG agreed and requested Marlburian..

With the table still set up from last time (I love having a permanent wargame table away from the hustle up in the loft!) all I needed to do was swap out the 25mm terrain pieces for 15mm - the table thus became as follows:

Quick reminder:
  • all forces arrive via the town (in this case on the picture above Allies left, French right) and the town is worth one point to the home team, and 3 points to their opponents (if they can take it)
  • the hill mid table top is worth 3 pts.
  • the two other hills are worth 1 pt. each
  • the farm/barn is worth 6 pts.
  • all hills are gentle slopes, the woods (centre of table only marked by the green square outline) are classed as 'dense' - all other tree's are just for show
  • the wheat fields are 'disordered ground' - other than them, the hills, and the woods, everything else is good going - we didn't play a road bonus..
We then diced for sides, and DG chose the French giving me the Allies. He also opted to use the entry on the right in the picture above.

I had diced for OOB before the game (to save time) on a random table and had come up with a 12 unit force that comprised
  • 6 battalions of regular infantry - no morale bonus
  • 4 squadrons of regular cavalry - again no morale bonus
  • 2 batteries of artillery - medium - again no morale bonus 
  • 2 Brigadiers
  • 1 General
..we ignored any national characteristics so the forces were entirely equal.
Game length – 12 turns - from turn 13 throw 2D6 scoring 9 or more for the game to end that move - for each subsequent move deduct one from the total needed (randomness being what it is you should get a game of 14 to 16 turns..)

On to the game...

The first tactical challenge with this scenario is deciding what order to bring your troops on in, as the only entry point is the road..  DG's road jam can be seen top right..  both of us had learnt from the last game though, and both sides had pump primed the advance guard with cavalry, and in both our cases the first target was also the food source ie. the barn..

Move 1 -  cavalry to the fore heading for the barn while n innocent civilian supply train (empty) leaves
I had all four squadrons of my cavalry come on first, followed by three infantry, a gun, the rest of the infantry, and then finally the other gun..  my thinking was that the artillery moved slower than everything else so I was going for speed..  in hindsight I'm not sure that was the best idea as it meant I was missing the ability to hit out at distance until about move 4 or 5.....  

Three squadrons of Queen Anne's finest...

Departing supply wagons... empty... table colour only, and not specific to the scenario
Not 100% sure what DG opted for but I think he parcelled up his troops a bit more than I did..  two cavalry followed by three infantry certainly led the advance, then a gun I think but after that I am unclear.. what I am sure of is that his artillery was in action before mine were..

"Vive le Roi!" French advance guard..
Couple of moves later (next) and DG has taken the time to change his cavalry to line while I am still going at full whack in column..  at this point we adjudged that both sides had taken their respective single hills (1 pt each) and with the control of the town (also 1 pt each) honours were even..

Four or five moves later (following)...  British infantry wends its way through the town to the front line in the far distance...

So, same move, and an explanation of my plan (such as it was, as it changed throughout the game! ) ...  the intent was for the first two squadrons of cavalry (which we saw previously) to deny DG the barn while my main force was directed at the the three point hill, and possibly DG's town depending on what he did.. the following then, shows the main force with cavalry to the fore..

Same move..  DG was clearly making a major effort for the barn (you can see his infantry columns in the distance), and that changed my plans, especially as he had reinforced his town and was making a fairly major effort to deny me the big (3 pt'er) hill..

Next - the action at the barn hots up..British cavalry had deployed to line - they didn't have the ability to occupy the barn, but there job was to ensure DG didn't..

....which I think it fair to say they fairly comprehensively failed to do! 

Couple of moves later (next) and the British cavalry has been seen off by their triumphant French counterparts...  not a complete failure (you can see one of DG's squadrons withdrawing in some discomfort the other side of the wood) but the important thing is that DG has control of the field..  and I do not...  he has 6 pts for the taking, unless I do something, and those two columns of infantry he has are not hanging around despite taking the scenic route..

Plans change then - two battalions of my infantry have been sent down the road between the woods - in the distance I make an effort for the big hill (which also protects their flank)

Two vs one should be enough right?   My artillery is also coming up..  all is not lost...

A few moves later (next) and a fine example of the swings and roundabouts of this excellent game...  3pt'er hill first and that two versus one didn't help...  one of my squadrons was sent off in a state of discombobulation (though they have recovered far left in this picture) and the other squadron is 'disquieted'   (yellow pin = "shaken" - the cause was artillery fire from DG's gun in his town, I think)

At the barn. my horse recovers and see's off the French cavalry but they are weak now and in no condition to stop DG's infantry advance..  I've reinforced the infantry reserve advancing on the barn, and the first battalion has shaken out into line..

A few moves later and the denouement approaches.. that weak British cavalry has been sent packing (red pin = rout), DG has protected his flanks and has cavalry reinforcements, and is facing off the to the first allied battalion - bottom right you can just see one of DG's infantry battalions occupying the barn..

...the battle for the 3pt'er hill hangs in the balance.. so at this point with 8 pts to DG, and 2 pts to me, and a few moves over the scenario end we declared it a French win..

Post match analysis
  • Better tactics won the day - DG is an infantry man and looks to the long picture, I however am your archetypal British cavalry man - "charging at everything" 
  • The eagle eyed among you may have spotted we played longer than the scenario, but that was because as it turned out we didn't think it was long enough and when the game officially 'ended', it was a draw, despite DG being in a commanding position - so we played on a few more moves.. 
  • Refreshments on the night was a couple of pints of the truly splendid Hobgoblin IPA.. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Warfare 2018

Time for the much anticipated, and look forwarded to, trip to Warfare at Reading. Not one of the biggest shows but there's always a nice vibe at this show, and I think this year was good, but perhaps not quite as good as previous years??  Still an excellent show and I shall be back next year..

Purchases were moderate, but included a bargain on the Bring and Buy of a pristine copy of 'Pike and Shotte' for a tenner, and then a first foray into the world of MDF buildings with the purchase of a 15mm European Terrace from 4Ground who were having a 25% off sale

Image shamelessly ripped from the web somewhere...

This will provide a much needed replacement for the home built, but venerable, terraces I currently use (see following)..

Shamelessly ripped from a previous blog post..

'Buying spree' over, it was on the to the games...  now Warfare is primarily a competition weekend, with added on traders and a few demo/participation  games so I've never expect to see jaw dropping, quality, games of the like you'd see at Salute or Partizan, but even so, I thought this year was a bit disappointing compared with previous years...  there were a lot of games on but not many of them were "wow!" Lots of rumpled base cloths, poor terrain/scenery, and none of that "fairy dust" that makes a game stand out... so this year, just a top two for me...

In second, despite the hexes () was this monumental offering by the Wyvern Wargamers [clicky]..  the "Battle of Varna 1444"

This was a previous offering at Salute [clicky], and the level of gloss shows...

All figures are from the 12mm Kalistra range, and the game also uses their hexes..

Game used the 'Hordes and Heroes' rules which are available free for download here [clicky]

Much more on the game at this excellent blog [clicky]..

...but in first place, a stand out clear winner for me...  Stalingrad in 28mm by the Earlswood Wargames Group

Simply stunning...

The guys were actively playing this as I took pictures - this is not some static diorama

The level of detail was stunning ..

Love the dice boxes to ensure the dice don't go shooting off somewhere...

Cracking show, good company, and a bargain - what more could you want??

Friday, November 16, 2018

Clash of Empires.. a review..

Whilst I've been aware of his output I can't say I've ever read any of Ben Kane's books (he wrote the 'Forgotten Legion' series among others) so this was a new try for me..

Set during the early years of what was to become the Roman  Empire the book is set at the end of the Punic wars, in fact one of the early chapters deals with the Battle of Zama and is told from the separate and opposed perspective of two lowly soldiers on each side of a new conflict - Macedonia (under King Philip V who's seeking to recover the glory of Alexander) and Rome (an emerging power looking to reign in Macedonian sea power)

More than anything though it is a story about old and new, about Phalanx versus Legion, and about a changing world as Rome begins to flex its muscles..

On the Macedonian side Demetrios starts of life as a rower in one of the merchant ships supporting the army - but he has dreams of becoming a phalangist, and through good luck, and friendship with the veteran Simonides, is invited to join their ranks...  the descriptions of fighting are stunning - the phalanx fought 16 ranks deep with the veterans in the first ranks, by the time you got to the sixth you knew you were increasing in authority as promotion was through the usual reasons...  On the Roman side we have Felix (and his brother Antonius), who are hastati in one of the Roman legions. He is present at the defeat of the Carthaginians at Zama but in the aftermath is dishonourably discharged after falling asleep on sentry duty..  life as a civilian is hard, and he and his brother are reduced to hard times, but when Rome declares war on Macedonia there is an urgent need for men for the legions, so despite the huge risk (death if they're found out) they re-enlist..

Brilliant story - likeable main characters (apart from the Roman senator ) can't wait for the next one - Steve the Wargamer rates this one 9 out of 10..

Right - back to wargaming - Warfare on Sunday, and DG and I have a game on Saturday evening - stay tuned..

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tombland.. a review

Just back from a week on a sun bed in Cyprus ..  much needed as it's been somewhat of an "annus horribilis" in the Steve the Wargamer domicile, and suffice to say that out of three holidays we had arranged this year, this was the only one that we actually managed to go on..! 

Not surprisingly therefore the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and I did ABSOLUTELY nothing for the whole holiday other than trundle from bed to food to sunbed to food to bed while very much enjoying the late season sunshine, oh, and drinking a few Keo's.. such an environment of course is ideal for the consumption of large numbers of books, and the Kindle got a right bashing...

First on the list then, a welcome return for Matthew Shardlake in the latest of the series by the inestimable C. J. Sansom..  been a long wait for this book, and I read somewhere that it is because the author has been ill (for which my best wishes), but without a doubt the wait was worth it, as this is an absolute blinder of  book..

So for this those who aren't aware, the book series is written around the activities of Sergeant at Law Matthew Shardlake, and is set in the late Tudor period, around the last years of Henry VIII, and the succession - Shardlake is a conscientious lawyer, and is approached by people in power (in the earlier books he works for both Cromwell and Moore) when they need something investigating from a legal perspective and in this book, with Henry dead, his patron is the young Princess Elizabeth. One of Elizabeth's distant relatives has been accused of murder and she asks Shardlake to represent him in court, and to investigate the veracity of the charges bought against him..

One of the joys of this series is that Shardlake is no Jack Reacher, he is human, he has a spinal deformity that causes pain, he is getting old, he gets tired, he occasionally gets crotchety, so the work Elizabeth asks him to do is not easy as it requires travel to Norwich in a time of great social unease in England..  Edward (Henry's successor) is only 6 so the country is ruled by a council of powerful men, but power has devolved to one of them who is fixated on (a failed) war with Scotland, the country is bankrupt as a result of paying for the war, inflation is rife, wages are static, and there is an increasing move to enclose land to farm sheep for their wool..  not surprisingly civil tensions are rising, and shortly after Shardlake arrives in Norfolk, rebellion breaks out..

The book is largely then about the investigation, but is also about the civil rising lead by Robert Kett [clicky] (so this was 1549) - packed full of period colour, a damn good murder mystery, social history, and military history (the rebels were eventually defeated in a pitched battle just outside Norwich - the depiction of the battle is brilliant), this book is an absolute triumph and I recommend it and the rest of the series without reserve...  Steve the Wargamer rates this one 10+ out of 10