Monday, December 11, 2017

Szluiner Grenz Regiment

The 18mm 1799 Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland project has not seen much action at the painting desk thus far in 2017.  The last figures to cross the painting desk were in March.  Fortunately, the 1799 project did see action on the gaming table with a pair of battle of Montebello 1800 games making their debut.
To redress the lack of painting progress, two battalions of Austrian grenz hit the workbench.  These 2 x 13 figure battalions muster out as the Szluiner Grenz Regiment.
The composition of the battalions is mixed.  The mounted officer is an AB Miniatures' figure while the foot are all Campaign Game Miniatures (CGM).  To my eye, the CGM figures are, on balance, only slightly below the quality of AB.  In many cases, the figures are on equal footing.  In some, I prefer CGM.  As for size, CGM and AB match very well. 
After these grenz march off the painting desk, two French battalions of CGM figures will take their place on the workbench.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Squadron of British 14th Lt Dragoons

I continue picking off small handfuls of remnants from the 28mm Napoleonic section of The Lead Pile.  Today's offering musters out as the 3rd Squadron of the British 14th Light Dragoon Regiment.
As almost all of the cavalry figures in the Peninsular War project, these four troopers are from Front Rank's excellent range.  In their early war uniform with Tarleton, they are ready to see action on the field of battle.  First, though, I need to raise another two such stands to join them.  This time, there is not another "lonely" foursome available with which to form a provisional cavalry unit.  Once I assess the contents of The Lead Pile, an order to Front Rank may be needed. 
In the painting queue (deep in the painting queue, that is), are two battalions of infantry for the project: one battalion British and one battalion Spanish.  When will these figures actually reach the workbench?  I know not.  Raising a battalion of 28mm Napoleonics always seems like work.  Rather, painting has switched to work on a few 15mm units for a variety of projects.  One of these 15mm units will likely emerge from the painting desk next. 
Another item to move from thought to action is the writing of a recent Battle of Mollwitz Battle Report.  The thing is not writing itself, however.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Battle for Pratzen Heights

French elite batteries deal death from the Pratzeberg
To Christen his recently completed "Game Palace," Scott held a Napoleonic game to mark the occasion.  The MacPhee Game Palace is a beautiful addition to the existing residence.  Although housing a detached garage, the building offers a large play room for the kids and a fine gaming room on the lower level for the adults.  Well stocked with everything a gamer could need, this is a fine gaming venue.

Since the game was held on December 2, Scott picked a portion of the Battle of Austerlitz to commemorate the 212th anniversary of this famous battle.  Using the rules, General de Brigade, the action would recreate St. Hilaire's attack on the combined Austro-Russian forces as they fought for control of the Pratzeberg.

While Scott provided a mostly unbiased accounting of the battle at MacPhee's Miniature Men, I will provide an account from the perspective of the Austrian commander in whose role I took.
Initial deployment
The battle begins with a Russian column strung out as it marches to take the Pratzen Heights.  The objective of the 20 turn game is to be the last to occupy the Pratzen Heights.  While St. Hilaire's force is an elite formation with nary a line battalion, the Austro-Russian force is a large rabble.  The Austrians especially represent a poor force with most battalions being composed of conscripts.  With a poor command structure, the Allies have a tough job even though they outnumber the French.

When the battle opens, the long Russian column is committed to a march upon the Pratzeberg.  Even though the Pratzeberg objective is in hand with lead elements of the Russian column, the Austrian column commander, Kollowrath, wanted to send new orders to the Russians.  Although the Russian commander fails to respond to the Austrian's orders, he does make the change under his own initiative.

Fearing if he continues on his present course he will be defeated in detail by St. Hilaire before the Austrian conscripts can come up, the Russian 4th Column reverses course and begins retracing its steps.  Back across the valley they go and climb the heights from which they only recently passed.  
Russians reverse course
Perhaps ordering the Russians to retrace their steps was wise since the Austrian rabble has great difficulty in undertaking any action. 
Austrian rabble frozen in place
While St. Hilaire's French advance upon the Pratzeberg, the Russians deploy on the heights opposite the heights.  Only the French batteries make the climb up the Pratzeberg.  Russian guns, although inferior, score a few hits as the French guns unlimber under fire.  
Face off on the Russian left
Finally, the Austrian column steps off with a goal of applying pressure to the French left.  Although outclassed by a wide margin, the Austrians are hoping to apply enough pressure on the French left to prevent these elite troops from reinforcing the Pratzeberg.
Austrian infantry advance upon Pratzen.
The Austrian jagers are thrown forward to harass the French legere.  With the jagers screening the advance, the Austrian brigade on the far right passes through Pratzen while the other Austrian brigade bypasses the village to the south. 
Austrians reach Pratzen
Zoom in on the Austrian right
As casualties mount on the jagers in their attempt to screen the Austrian columns from deadly French musketry, artillery begin scoring a few hits.  Allied artillery fire is not as effective as expected with only one in three finding its mark.  
Artillery fire dominates the valley
Perhaps contrary to doctrine, the Russian guns focus on silencing the French guns while the French batteries adhere to doctrine and target the Russian infantry.  With only French guns deployed in isolation on the heights, the Russian guns have no alternative.  If French guns can be driven off, the Russian infantry may have a chance to cross the valley without threat of annihilation. 
Face-off on Russian left continues
French guns in isolation
After taking significant casualties but satisfied they have allowed the Austrian brigades to approach the French left, the jagers fall back through their troops.  Austrian guns continue their harassing fire upon the French lines.
Jagers fall back through Pratzen
Having found itself as the sole target of the large Russian battery, one of the French batteries routs from the heights after suffering more casualties than even elite gunners can manage.  On the French left, the Austrians form up within musketry range of the French legere and pin the French in place.
One French battery withdraws from the heights.
Sensing an opportunity with a French battery slipping off the heights and the reluctance of the French infantry to take its place, the Russians step off and descend the hill.  With only a few turns left in the contest, hopefully the Russians have timed their attack appropriately.
Russians finally advance on the Pratzeberg
Still, the French make no move to take the heights.  With that, the Russians make a general assault on the Pratzeberg.  With their guns masked, the Allied infantry is forced to engage the French without support.  The threat to the remaining French battery is too great.  It limbers and breaks for the rear.
Allies make a general advance
Having pushed the last French battery off the heights, the Russians are in control of the Pratzeberg.  In the confusion of close range musketry fire, the French brigade commander finds himself in Russian hands.  With its leadership temporarily absent, the French do not counterattack to retake the heights.
Russians crest the Pratzeberg
To ensure that the Pratzeberg remains in Russian hands, the Russian grenadiers coolly pass through its faltering brothers.  The Pratzeberg is ours!
Russians hold the Pratzeberg
With 20 turns in the books, the game concludes with an Allied victory.  Wow!  What a battle!  Even though the Allies outnumbered the French, the quality differential in both troop and leadership was daunting.  Compounding the difficult task the Allies faced, the French held the initiative throughout the game.  That meant French formations could both move and fire first each turn.  Ouch!

Had the French taken the Pratzeberg earlier, the Russians would have had great difficulty taking the position at the end.  A tight game to the end.  An Allied victory did not seem attainable at the beginning but pinning the French left with the mediocre Austrians worked in essentially splitting the battlefield into two distinct battles.  Allied casualties were heavy but victory was worth the expense.  Yes, this is the account of the action to be delivered back to headquarters. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Judeans for the Assyrian Wars

After switching emphasis from the Assyrian Wars project in November in which only one unit made it across the painting desk, December begins with a unit for the project mustering out early in the month.  What departs the workbench is a first for the project.  That is a stand of Judean infantry.  Another unit for the project is in work and another first.  For the unit on the workbench, the figures are BTD.
For those familiar with the sculpting style of Newline Designs, these 28mm Judeans are immediately recognizable.  Good looking sculpts that fit in well with Foundry's Biblical range.  Good figures at a good price.

Speaking of good price, Sean held an early Christmas sale during the month of November offering a 25% discount.  Already priced reasonably, a 25% discount is an excellent time to fill out some units.  That is exactly what I did.  I few more Babylonian infantry are on the way to the States along with a surprise or two.

Friday, December 1, 2017

French 4th Hussar Regiment

Another quartet of 28mm Napoleonic horsemen muscled its way onto the painting desk.  Like the quartet of French Chasseurs a Cheval before (see A Few Napoleonic Cavalry), these French hussars are left over from the purchase of a dozen unpainted figures on the secondary market.
These four, finely sculpted Front Rank hussars have been lingering in The Lead Pile for a long time.  Good to get them out of The Lead Pile, across the painting desk, and onto the "Painted" side of the ledger. 
These four, French light horsemen muster out as the 3rd squadron of the 4th Hussar Regiment.  The combination of red pelisse, yellow lace, and blue trousers is a handsome one; one of my favorites.
With the recent additions of the third squadrons to two French cavalry regiments, it seems only fair to push a British cavalry quartet into the painting queue.  Having two squadrons of the 14th Light Dragoons already on the roll, adding a third just makes sense.
Before British light dragoons can make it across the painting desk, a dozen Judean spearmen for the Assyrian Wars project need my attention.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

An Unfinished "Finished" Project

Box of Renegade ECW Lead
When is an unfinished project finished?  When is a finished project unfinished?

While I may never strike upon an answer to the first question, the answer to the second question was resolved last week.  The answer is obvious but before I belt out this revelation, a bit of background leading to this epiphany. 

My 30mm ECW project has not seen any action at the painting desk for exactly six years.  A reasonable assumption might be that after six years of inactivity, the project was complete.  Well, that is what I thought too.  Having painted all of the ECW figures in The Lead Pile and having enough units present and under arms for large games, I figured I was finished.  I did pick up enough cavalry from Empress Miniatures last year to field one more regiment of horse but that hardly counts, right?  The Empress Miniatures' cavalry were so beautiful, I could not resist fielding one more regiment of horse.  By the way, those beautiful sculpts still lay neglected in The Lead Pile

Back to the story at hand.  A few weeks' ago, a gent on TMP was selling surplus ECW lead from a variety of manufacturers in several lots.  One such lot consisted of 80 foot from Renegade MiniaturesRenegade Miniatures?  That caught my eye.  I love those large figures!  Now I already have about a half-dozen Renegade units of foote in my ECW collection.  I like them very much and they fit in well with the bulk of my collection which are comprised of Redoubt figures.  At an asking price of about $0.75 each, I could not pass up the opportunity to snag some figures at a great price.  Did I need more regiments of foote?  Not really but one additional regiment per side would be time and money well spent.  My hope was to be able to field at least two regiments of pike and shot.  I had in mind using any left over shot to form a unit of commanded shot.

When the package arrived and I sorted it all out, what did I have?  With my standard P&S regiment of 27 figures, enough figures were present to muster three regiments of foot.  Only a small handful of figures remain unclaimed.  More than expected and very little wastage.    
Enough figures for three regiments of foote.
After sorting and organizing the lot, I popped out to Renegade's website to confirm exactly what I had.  To my surprise, the website is closed down yet again.  After closing down for at least a year in the not so distant past and then re-opening, I figured their troubles were behind them.  I guess not.  With this revelation, I am very pleased to have picked up their figures on the secondary market.  Who knows when these figures will be available again.  
Latest announcement of Renegade's website
The answer to my second question?  A finished project is unfinished when I happen upon a bargain too good to dismiss.  I am likely not alone.

Monday, November 27, 2017

SYW Austrian Cuirassiers - Serbelloni

Getting a game on the table can re-energize a dormant project.  Having boxes of painted figures already, SYW painting has taken a very low priority in my grand scheme of painting The Lead Pile.  Looking back at the Painting Log, two squadrons of Austrian cuirassiers mustered out in April of this year.  Nothing else has crossed the painting desk in nearly two years.  That inertia may change.  
The recent SYW Mollwitz game provided inspiration to put a handful of SYW figures into the painting queue.  Mustering out from the painting desk are two squadrons of Eureka 18mm horsemen.  The dozen figures called up are two squadrons of the Austrian Serbelloni Cuirassier Regiment.  Two squadrons of the Serbelloni Regiment have been fielded before and this is my attempt to bring the regiment up to full strength.  While six squadrons are the official compliment of squadrons, four squadrons will do for now.   
As mentioned above, these are the first 15/18mm figures to cross the painting desk in a long time.  I need to get more of the 15/18mm projects into the painting queue.  Perhaps that can be a 2018 goal? As a start, two battalions of Austrian Grenz for the 1799 project are at work on the painting desk.  A small step forward...
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