Sunday, September 20, 2020

Cancer Research 300...

You may have noticed in the side bar to the right that I thought I might have a go at the Cancer Research 300 this month..  it's been a surprising amount of fun, more than I expected anyway!..

As of yesterday I've done just over 210 miles, so I still have a couple of rest days in the bank if I need them (30 days in the month, so 10 miles a day to hit target) How have I done it? Well it helps that my work is 9 miles away so there are lots of ways of hitting 10 miles just by cycling one way, and even doubling it if I cycle both ways (which I did last week a couple of times because the weather was superb). For the rest of it, I just jump on the bike and travel off 5 miles and come back a different route..  I've a few days off this week, so am hoping to do the Great Salterns Way [clicky] on one of them..

Nothing formal, haven't signed anything, but I'll make a donation at the end of the month based on how many miles I've done .. I recommend it to anyone, I feel fitter, and it's a mental lift...  if you don't fancy 300, they do a 200 as well, or just set your own stretch target...

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Rumours of my demise...

Well that's a bit exciting to say the least!
...are greatly exaggerated...  or words to that effect...  though as I was reading this afternoon even this quote (attributed to Mark Twain), is exaggerated itself..  what he actually said was "The report of my death was an exaggeration", but as it ever was, you don't want to let the truth get in the way of a decent quote..

So what have I been up to in the almost 7 weeks since I last posted? Not much to be honest...  certainly not a huge amount of wargaming...  and certainly no painting...

One of those fallow periods all hobbyists go through I guess, some call it the painting funk, but basically a period of time characterised by no great interest or enthusiasm in pursuing the hobby actively - a time of retrenchment - doing other stuff - in my case reading (a lot), and also unusually for me catching up on box sets, and television that I missed the first time round...  

Working from home has entailed me using the loft-waffe for an office as I have a desk and screen's up there anyway - but what I wasn't expecting was a disinclination to go in the loft to do hobby stuff once I'd been in there all day for work stuff...  throw in a couple of weeks of the hottest weather in the UK for some time and there was even less inclination - in fact in the end I said 'bugger it' and went into the office just for the air conditioning! Very strange to be in an office for two hundred when there are only a half dozen people in (for much the same reasons as me!)

Autumn is coming - with a drop in the temperature the loft will entice again...

So what have I done that I recommend??

Box sets - catch "Cardinal" if you can, simply superb..  I re-watched the "Cormoran Strike" box set, also very good..  also all umpty seven series of "Spooks"..  thank you Beeb - worth my licence fee for 'Cardinal' alone..

Books...   Maigret, Maigret, Maigret..  an absolute joy...  my book page will give you some other leads...  my non-fiction book of the year so far was "Chastise" by Max Hastings, the story behind the Dam Busters raid told from the perspective of the unbelievably brave crews, the boffins, (Sir Michael Redgrave really was Barnes Wallis in the film!), Gibson (what a brave, troubled and complicated man) and also the German civilians who experienced the results...  ten plus for a reason, read it!

Wargaming - not a lot of table top action, but DG and I have been having a whale of time playing DBN [clicky] (thanks for the lead, Lee!) using Battle Chronicler to exchange turns ...  a few Peninsula games were followed by a triumvirate of 1812 Russia games, but just for a change we are currently in North America, and for the first time (and as a result of the figures Lee has been painting) I am fielding Congreve rockets..  Lord only knows how that will turn out!

....and that is largely it, let's hope it is in't as long to the next post!

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

ACW rules - my One Hour Wargames derivative..

A couple of people have expressed an interest in the OHW rules derivative I'm using for the American Civil War project..  a couple of people equates to a 'groundswell' round here, so who am I to disappoint...

The following came out of a first game using them "as is" and a couple of interim versions to the one that I'm now using which have been pretty stable for almost 3 years now...

As in the original version of the rules these are vaguely brigade level as the way the rules teat terrain is pretty abstract, and basically models what your brigadier would be worried about rather than your average platoon sergeant..  so "walls" don't exist either as a terrain modifier, or a firing/combat modifier - they are assumed to be too small a terrain feature to be worried about and are just factored into the movement/firing/combat by assumption..

So taking the rules as is....
  • Basing - any way you like, there isn't really even a requirement for both sides to be the same, but similar is more aesthetically pleasing. I have used the basing/organisation that is now standard for my projects - in my mind I just imagine them as brigades rather than regiments...  all casualties counts are by roster and there is no base removal...
  • The sequence of play is abandoned/ignored and replaced by a dice driven initiative - throw a number of dice equal to the number of units, it is better to have a specific colour for each side, then assign the dice to each unit - the bigger the number the sooner they activate. Each unit is then activated according to the assigned dice - this gives a pleasing friction to the game, the commander is forced to decide where his tactical pain points are, and also where he needs to defend and assign the dice accordingly.
    • Optional rule #1: dice to see which side has the initiative, and the loser assigns their dice first so that the winner has a view as to where and what dice have been assigned. 
    • Optional rule #2: throw a number of dice equal to the number of units and each commander takes it in turn to take a dice from the pile until they are all used. 
    • Optional rule #3: good commanders can add a dice (or more), allowing the worst one (or more) to be discarded..  
    • .. etc etc
  • If two opposed units have the same activation dice, and the order in which they activate is important (ie. one wants to fire before the other, or withdraw out of range before the other fires, or whatever...)  the two units take their dice and throw again with the higher number going first
  • When the unit is activated it can either move or fire or charge or do nothing. 
Movement as per the rules but:
    • We added a march column value for each troop type that is 33%/third greater
    • We split cavalry into mounted and dismounted - dismounted movement is the same as infantry
    • Formation changes - because we added the column speed there has to be a cost for changing between line and column (limbered/unlimbered for artillery) and that is movement less 2" for all troops types except cavalry dismounting and artillery limbering/unlimbering which is movement less 4"
    • Interpenetration we allowed for all troop types but at a cost equal to a formation change to represent the disruption, and only if both units have an activation dice unused..
    • Terrain:
      • Woods : because we have a dismounted cavalry type they are also allowed, and we added a one third movement penalty for all
      • Towns: because we have a dismounted cavalry type they are also allowed, we also added a formation change cost to enter/leave a town for all.. 
      • Marsh/Lakes unchanged
      • Rivers unchanged but fords/bridges can be crossed "in march column only"
Charging - Thomas doesn't allow for melee, but while we agree it was rare, DG and I also believed that we needed to model it if only to given a reason for the "Rebel Yell"..     So the following section is largely ours, but in the spirit of the rules...

  • Artillery cannot Charge full stop - seems obvious, but hey...
  • A unit cannot charge if it is in march column
  • Mounted Cavalry can Charge any unit
  • Infantry, Zouaves, Dismounted Cavalry must have an “advantage” over the Target in order to Charge; which is either 
    • attacking vs Flank or Rear, or 
    • 5+ strength points advantage over the defender
  • Target of the charge is permitted to fire first if it hasn't activated already - rules are as per normal firing - remove the activation dice after firing
  • A target in march column is automatically eliminated on contact
  • An Artillery target is automatically eliminated on contact 
  • Charge movement is as per normal line movement, and has to end in contact
  • Turning is as per the movement rules but with the exception it can only happen at the beginning of the move..
  • No changing formation can be done as part of the Charge
  • No Interpenetration when Charging - and if there is any retreat and you have to interpenetrate to do it then each unit takes a 1pt damage
  • Terrain effects as per normal movement 
  • Melee
    • Only the Charging unit inflicts casualties 
    • It rolls a D6 and modifies the result as follows, and incrementally 
      • Charging +2
      • Zouaves +1
      • Dismounted Cavalry - 1
      • Defender outnumbered by <= 15 points +2; <= 10 points +1;<= 05 points +0
    • Then, halve the end result if the defender is either uphill, or mounted cavalry, or in towns/woods
    • Then, if the attack is in flank or rear multiply that result by 2
    • Round fractions down
    • If Defender is not eliminated the Attacker retreats straight back [facing defender] - Mounted Cavalry retreats 6”; others 3”
    Firing as per the rules with the addition/exception of
    • March columns cannot fire
    • Units must be on the edge of cover to fire out of it
    • Units firing within cover have a range of 3”
    • We added a short/medium/long range with relevant modifiers
    • We added a section for handling firing when the target of a charge (basically you add/subtract the difference of the activation dice)
    • We added some modifiers to reflect the remaining strength of the unit
    Casualties: once you get to 15 the unit is removed..

    In summary then, a bit more detail, a new section to cover melee, and the activation dice...

    Saturday, July 04, 2020

    "One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 21 - "Twin Objectives" - Set Up and Game

    Another of those mismatched scenario's that I love for the challenge, and this one was an absolute cracker..

    My apologies for the dearth of posts, I've been busy with this and that, as is my way in the summer months - the boat [clicky] has taken up time delightfully, but I would also say that the whole Covid thing has been a bit of a pain in the ar*se mentally over the last few weeks - sometimes a good book and a beer are the only option!

    Working at home - while do-able - has resulted in longer hours, funnily enough..  you save commute time at each end of the day, but end up using the saved time to start and finish later - how does that work?!

    What it also means (when your work desk is in the loft with the toys) is that having spent all day there, the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time there...  ergo less done on the gaming front...

    Anyway - it's not been a total dead loss - DG and I have been playing DBN via Battle Chronicler, we're on to our third game now, and while the format has it's challenges, the games have been good fun..  current game is set in 1812 Russia, and my Russian army has been drubbed once, and looks to be on it's way to a second one ...  the Russians, like the Spanish, have their own challenges...

    Anyway, onwards and upwards, and I thought it was time I had a game...  this is the first since the inaugural outing with the ECW project, so more than long enough...

    Set up...  usual caveats, you need to buy the book so only the basics are presented here, but in summary a numerically inferior force is tasked with denying the superior enemy force two key objectives...  table as follows, the objectives are the town and the hill...  the attacking force deploy from mid to bottom right...  I chose to set the game in the American Civil War with the Confederates as defenders, and the Union as attackers..  The Union had thrown on the random table and got some artillery, albeit to pay for that they also had some cavalry which is not the most useful in this scenario. The Confederates had managed to roll up a regiment of Zouaves however, so all was not totally lost for them..

    End Move 1 (follows) - as the Confederate commander (and Union, come to that.. ) I chose to garrison the hill only lightly, most of my defences would be in the town..  for the Union commander then attack the hill in force get the job done quickly, pin the enemy forces in town, get the artillery to help, and home for tea and biscuits by Thanksgiving...  or that was the plan...

    End Move 2 (following)

    Bang, the assault on the hill by the Union, two up one in reserve; the Rebs open fire as they breast the ridge...

    End Move 3 (following)

    A ferocious firefight ensues on the hill, first (of my new) casualty tokens appear, click to embigen any of the pictures by the way..  elsewhere the Union artillery has deployed, and the Rebs have sent one regiment out to fend off the Union cavalry who have dismounted to return fire..

    End Move 4 (following)
    The firefight spreads to the entire battlefield...  the Reb regiment on the hill was proving remarkably tenacious in the face of what should have been overwhelming firepower..

    Union initiative dice..  high is good...  or 'not' in this case....  

    End Move 5 (following) - third of the way through and the Union commander is struggling - on of the attacking regiments on the hill has been destroyed and he has bought up the reinforcements...  yellow casualty dice indicate casualties in "6's" if you see them then the unit concerned is getting a drubbing...

    End Move 6 (following)...  BANG!!

    End Move 7 (following) - the Union finally take the hill but we are half way through the game and the Union still have to crack the town...

    End Move 8 (following) Union attack columns wending their way off the hill - the Reb Zouaves in the town are proving as tenacious as their brethren on the hill..

    End Move 9 (following) -  the Rebs are down to 50%, a combination if cavalry and artillery fire has done for them at last..  the Union commander however his far from happy that he has had to switch artillery targets in order to save the cavalry..  

    End Move 10 (following)  Union cavalry mount (though they re a spent force) - they may have an opportunity for a lightning strike later in the game...  on their left flank the first Union regiment has deployed to attack the town; rather than reinforce failure the unblooded Confederate regiment has moved back into the town both for cover and  the delaying benefit..

    End Move 11 (following)  and the Zouaves, after 7 or 8 moves, are finally done for..  well done the Tigers...  the town assault commences...

    End Move 12 (following)  ..switching to close up mode...   the Rebs brace themselves...  doesn't look like they'll be enjoying good sipping whiskey and a relax any time soon...

    End Move 13 (following) - reduced ranges in town but the Union are ready to go...  only two moves left, and the Confederate regiment is still unblooded...   can the Union commander carry it off?

    End Move 14 (following)  BANG!!  Both sides open fire, and at the same time the Union flank regiment charges home....   and is bounced off despite inflicting casualties...

    End Move 15/Game (following) - a repeat of move 14...  13 casualties, so the Rebels win by a mere 2 points! Phewwwww.....

    Post Match Analysis:
    • Proof if any were needed that a solo game does not need to be boring or one sided...!  I played to the best of my abilities for both sides and was rewarded with a super close game...
    • The rules use an initiative dice system where you throw one dice per unit, and allocate the dice - highest dice gets to move first so there are tactical decisions to be made (do I need to move them quickly, do I need them to fire before anyone else, etcetc)..  any opposing units with matched dice, throw again to decide who goes first...  
    • to inject some grit when I play solo I dice to see who throws first so that the winning player throws and allocates dice after the other side has done theirs...  the scenario as written has one side moving first every move, if I was playing DG across the table that side would throw/allocate their dice before the other side does the same..

    Tuesday, May 19, 2020

    The King’s Lifeguard Regiment of Horse..

    "The troop of show"...

    The regiment was one of the, if not the, first regiments of horse raised for the King, on May 20th in Yorkshire.

    In July they were present at the siege of Hull, August they were at the (unsuccessful) siege of Coventry, and in October were at Edgehill before taking up garrison at Oxford over the winter. Over the years of the war they were present at nearly all the major engagements..  probably as you would expect being the King's Lifeguard, and effectively his representative on the battlefield.

    The regiment comprised volunteers from the nobility and richer gentry - because of the amount of money, their equipment and horses were better than most, so stretching the truth a little (it is unlikely that the entire regiment would have been cuirassier armed but I am assuming a fair number of them would have been), I have chosen for purely "balance" reasons, to represent them as a cuirassier regiment.

    Lord Bernard Stewart (right), pictured
    with his elder brother Lord John
    Stewart (1621-1644) c. 1638,by
    Sir Anthony van Dyck.
    Ordnance papers from the time indicate the regiment was re-equipped with harquebusier equipment in 1643 (ie, standard buff coat, pistols and sword) so it may not be too much of a stretch..

    Being gentry of course they were somewhat prickly when it came to matters of honour and impugned lack of courage, and their somewhat derisive nickname of the "troop of show" didn't help. At Edgehill, they were about 300 strong, and their commander (Lord Bernard Stewart - right), requested  that they serve with Rupert in the place of honour on the far right of the first line - all well and good, but they had originally been ear marked as the reserve, and assuaging their honour had effectively left the King with no cavalry reserve.

    Lord Bernard (as you can probably guess from the surname) was related to the King (he was his 3rd cousin). Like many other families, he and his family were to suffer significant loss - created Earl of Lichfield by King Charles I for his actions at the first and second Battles of Newbury and at the Battle of Naseby, he died of injuries received leading a sortie against besieging Parliamentary forces in the Battle of Rowton Heath in September 1645 before the charter was signed - it went to his 6 year old son instead. Bernard's elder brother George Stewart, was killed at Edgehill*, another older brother, John, was killed at Cheriton...  a heavy toll on any family.

    Just to be different, and to stretch the truth even further I chose to make my regiment a prototype Scots Greys and mount the entire regiment on greys of various shades.  in truth it may have been because I was so impressed with Stokes's efforts at the Grand Duchy of Stollen [clicky]

    A sombre crew, but lightened and glammed up a little with royal blue saddle clothes trimmed gold (again no basis in truth for this)..

    *I tried to find out more about this and only came up with references in Clarendon's History of the Wars [clicky] (go to page 289), where it mentions he served as a troop commander of horse on the left wing, and was killed in the charge - Clarendon mentions that there were so few casualties it was believed he may even have been killed by one of his own officers, "a Dutchman" who he may have had "words" with previously about poor discipline/duty, and who had taken umbrage..

    So - Peter Pig 15mm figures - painted May 2020


    • Clarendon (as above)

    Friday, May 08, 2020

    American Civil War generals

    Just a little paint job while I wait for the mojo to strike/return for the second English Civil War cuirassier regiment (I think probably tomorrow)..  in this case some mounted command figures for the American Civil War project

    These were an add on to my last order from Newline - thought it would be nice to have some mounted command to support the foot command figures I currently have ..  not critical but nice to have..

    ...three figures in the pack so I had to make my mind up who got the extra, but the figures kind of just chose their own sides in the end..

    See what I mean? Now if he isn't a Johnny Reb he deserves to be drummed out of West Point.. this guy represents Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson the Confederate commander at Kernstown..

    "Halt! No.. go that way!" These two will represent Kimball and Shields, the Union commanders at Kernstown..


    Three mounted figures, Newline, 20mm, painted May 2020.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2020

    Parliamentary Cuirassiers... Essex, Bedford and Balfour's detachments

    Of all the cavalry types deployed in the wars, the cuirassier would have been the most expensive to raise, and as a consequence there weren't very many of them, and even fewer regimental strength groups ..

    What was more likely was that maybe a troop within a regular cavalry regiment was equipped as cuirassier, or maybe a detached troop served in it's own right (Kings Lifeguard comes to mind here)..  its entirely possible that officers, professionals, and those who could afford it might have worn full cuirass within a regular cavalry - but there were very few full regiments - in fact the only one I can think of is Haselrige's Lobsters [clicky]....

    If I want to deploy cuirassiers then (and who wouldn't? it's like having an ACW project without zouaves, or a Napoleonic project without the Old Guard ), there has to be a bit of a fictional element involved, but in this units case at least, more than a little historical basis in fact...

    So as we have read previously [clicky] Sir William Balfour had detached his troop of cuirassiers to serve in Essex's cavalry reserve, also in that ad hoc unit were Essex's own cuirassier troop under the command of Sir Philip Stapleton, Reid also believes that a third troop of cuirassiers, those of Essex's general of horse, Bedford, were also present...  Reid notes that all three troops were large (he calls them "oversized") so that is enough for me to represent a regimental strength cuirassier regiment to serve Parliament as part of the forces present at Edgehill!

    So what of their performance at the battle?? Very good I would say... As we have read previously, the Parliamentary horse on the flanks of Essex’s army had been driven off comprehensively, but the cuirassiers in the reserve, remained on the battlefield, in the second line, behind Meldrum’s infantry brigade.

    When the Royalist infantry advanced, they charged, and while Sir Nicolas Byron’s brigade held, Feilding’s brigade of Royalist foot was handled roughly (Feilding and two of his colonels, Stradling and Lunsford, were captured, though Fielding was later rescued on the battlefield). Carrying on through the infantry, Balfour’s troopers then overran the Royalist heavy guns, but possessing no nails, they were unable to spike them so instead cut the traces on the guns (stopping them from being moved) and fell back to their position in the second line.

    Drawing on the initiative that the cuirassiers had given him, Essex launched another attack on Byron’s Brigade, this time with Robartes’ and Constable’s regiments of foot, supported by the cuirassiers and the foot regiments of the Lord General and Brooke. The attack was successful, and drove it back, breaking up its ranks.

    Good result all round..

    Peter Pig 15mm figures, painted April 2020