Saturday, March 25, 2017

Assyrian Chariot Pass-in-Review

With the Assyrian chariot refurbishing sub-project having been completed for a few weeks, high time for a Pass-in-Review.  Having pushed the planned nine chariot review onto a back-burner, Peter's Canaanite chariot review (see Gonsalvo's Chariot Review) prompted action on my part.

The nine, four horse chariots are all from Wargames Foundry's excellent 25mm range.  Each chariot is a massive playing piece with much heft.  Collectively, they represent a colorful and impressive force to field onto the gaming table.  When these are all deployed upon the battlefield, they will present a fearsome force to face.  

With a chariot core of nine vehicles, the new 25mm Biblical project is off to a very good start.  Having laid a solid foundation for an Assyrian Army, attention must now turn towards calling up a number of supporting units.  While many other projects are seeing their turn at the painting desk, at some point Assyrian foot and horse units must begin to find their way into the painting queue pipeline.  A large lot of Assyrian lead has found its way into The Lead Pile awaiting attention.  Until that time, I have these fine fellows to admire. 



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring in Spokane

Spokane Falls
Spring has arrived in Spokane!
Foot bridge to Canada Island closed due to high water
After a seemingly long, snow-packed winter, temperatures increased last week and the last of the snow has melted away.  With the rapid increase in temperatures, the regional waterways are engorged with water.  The Spokane River bifurcating Spokane is no exception.  With the downtown and Riverfront Park situated astride the river and surrounding the falls, to observe the power of Mother Nature pushing its way over the falls is an awesome sight.


With the river at flood stage, high volumes of water present a spectacle at the falls.  This fleeting spectacle will not last long.  Taking the opportunity to catch the high water in action, Nancy and I walked around Riverfront Park to see the natural commotion for ourselves.  We were not disappointed.
Springtime also coincided with the first outdoor cycling of the year.  While it was along my typical post-work cycling route of about 24 miles, it felt very pleasant to have the sun on my face despite the 45 F air temperature.  I am happy to report that body and bike fared well on this first outdoor cycling outing of the year.  I could discuss the uncountable number of pothole features left in the roadways after the winter glaciers retreated but that is best left unsaid.
The Route
The Stats
With partial sun this morning and temperatures expected to hit the mid 40s F, perhaps I can make it outdoors on the bike this afternoon?  Still a bit cold for my tastes but with sun, tolerable.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

French 13th Dragoon Rgt in 1799

A variety of figures, sizes, and periods have crossed the painting desk lately.  Well, maybe no more than usually seen but it seems like more variety than typical.
This time, a twelve figure regiment of French dragoons for the 1799 project canter off from the paint table.  As most figures in this project, the dragoons are from the excellent range of 18mm Napoleonics from AB Miniatures
These troopers are being fielded as four squadrons of the 13th Dragoon Regiment which saw action at Zurich in 1799.
A second dozen of these fine figures await in The Lead Pile.  When dragoons next get pushed into the painting queue for the 1799 project, a regiment seeing more action in the campaign ought be be considered.  Perhaps either the 12th or 16th Dragoon Regiments? 
No more 1799 releases for now, however.  The painting desk is inundated with a medley of figures from several projects.  Next off the workbench will likely see either WWII Gebirgsjagers or ancient Celt slingers.  Those are still a couple of days out.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Liccaner Grenz Battalion in 1859

Only after having planned the Montebello OB and pulled figures from their storage boxes, did I discover that the collection was light on Austrian grenz infantry.  Before looking through the boxes, having only one battalion of grenz seemed impossible.  The painting log should have been consulted. 
Given that shortfall and oversight, fielding an additional battalion seemed prudent.  With that inspiration, an 18 figure battalion of the Liccaner Grenz Regiment #1 rolls off the painting desk.  Figures are 15mm Old Glory from the infantry pack.  Good, solid figures even though a few of the command figures tend towards arriving sans heads.
By my count, fourteen battalions of grenz were present in June at Solferino/San Martino so I have some serious work to accomplish to bring these light troop contingents up to muster.  Luckily, only three battalions were present at Montebello and jaegers were put in place as reasonable substitutes.  Another battalion awaits in the painting queue.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Battle of Montebello 1859 - Game 3

Having experienced a close result in Game 2, Jake and I held another Friday Night At The Fights on March 3 to give Montebello 1859 another go.  With a draw in Game 2 and each player having a renewed interest in tackling the problems faced by both commanders, the game was reset and player commands remained as in Game 2.  That is, Jake commanded the French and I commanded the Austrians.  To see Jake's revised plan for approaching the task at hand, please see Operation Design Montebello Part Deux.

On to the game!
Initial deployments and troop concentrations
Rather than attacking Cascina Nuova, Baum pulls back
 to defend the northern approaches to Montebello.
Two squadrons of 12th Hussars come forward to lend support.
One battalion of 74th Line advances from Cascina Nuova to
 harass the Austrian hussars.
French small arms fire drives the Austrians back from the 
Genestrello bridge.  Forey is operating under a more 
 aggressive plan than in prior games.
While the jaegers in Genestrello dish out punishment to the 74th,
Beuret's brigade breaks out from Genestrello bottleneck to drive
off Austrian support.
Is the French plan to contain and then bypass Genestrello?
With Sardinian cavalry swarming to the north of Montebello,
 Austrian infantry form a barrier to contain the aggressive Allied
 horsemen.
Rather than fight deployed Austrian rifled muskets, the
 Sardinians make a dash for the railway bridge!  A bold move
 that drives the Austrian covering force back across the railway
 bridge in disarray.
Sardinian light horse seize the railway bridge over the Coppa!
In a hammer and anvil approach, Hesse advances to press
 Blanchard's brigade against Baum's forces in the fields north
  of Montebello.  Attacks against Calcabobbio go in.
The noose tightens?
Flush with success, Sardinian cavalry push on, taking both
 the main bridge at Casteggio as well as Castegggio itself!
Even with Sardinian cavalry running amok in the Austrian
 rear, Hesse continues to press Blanchard.
Preparing the defense of Montebello
Paumgarten reacts to push back the impetuous Sardinian cavalry.
Spillberger marches on the railway bridge while Gaal confronts
the Sardinians on the eastern approaches to Casteggio.
Sardinian cavalry pushed back across the Coppa.
In the north, French retake Calcabobbio
Situation when action called as an Allied Minor Victory.
Blanchard's brigade holding Hesse in check.
As commander of the Austrian forces, this scrap was a real nail-biter.  Austrian casualties were heavy and while The White Menace bent, it never broke.  French battle plan to strike deep into the Austrian rear while simply cordoning and bypassing Genestrello and Montebello paid dividends exposing the Austrians to a few near embarrassing moments.  With Austrian reserves nearby, the impudent Sardinian cavalry could not hold their gains without infantry support.  In the end, both Genestrello and Montebello fell to French aggressions and Forey claimed a minor victory on points.

With two FtF battles in the books within one week, the rules are surviving contact nicely.  As Austrian commander, I forgot to include the large battalion modifier during fire but that may not have made much difference in overall play.   A few tweaks will be put in place prior to the next game but most remain as is.  Next game?  Yes, we plan to fight Montebello one more time with commands reversed.  I bet Jake will not forget Austrian large battalion modifiers!  One tweak to the scenario: Austrians may activate all three wings once enemy forces have crossed the Coppa.  In the prior games, Austrians could only activate two of their three wings on any given turn.

Can I better Jake's result as French commander?  We will see.

Monday, March 13, 2017

BTD Celtic Warband in 28mm

Having no units crossing the painting desk for the 28mm Punic Wars project since the nifty Aventine elephant (see Aventine elephant) last summer, I put enough Celtic/Gallic warriors into the painting queue to field one stand for Impetvs.  Checking my painting log, this project has had a much longer hiatus than I guessed.  The elephant and runners were the only unit to be fielded for this project in all of 2016!  Quite surprising.  Perhaps not so surprising since it has been a long time since this collection has seen action on the gaming table. 
These dozen figures are all from Black Tree Designs.  Excellent sculpts that present a fierce and motley appearance.  Perfect warband for either heckling or helping the Romans in their quest for supremacy. 

With one more elephant to be fielded, handfuls of Celts and Germans, and a few Romans, these figures ought to make their way into the painting queue with more regularity.  Having so many periods drawing my attention, perhaps that is an unreasonable goal.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Battle of Montebello 1859 - Game 2

With the Montebello solo game under my belt and the Risorgimento 1859 rules refreshed in my memory, A Friday Night At The Fights was planned with Jake on FEB 24.  After some pre-game planning, Jake chose to command the French forces under Forey.

As is often the situation when I am playing and not relegated to umpiring, note taking drops to a minimum and photos are not always snapped at the optimal point.  Given those caveats, below is a recounting of the Montebello battle  
Deployments at 2:30pm.
Schaffgotsche has pushed up to the ditch protecting Genestrello
 and Cascina Nuova.  Cascina Nuova is defended by one battalion
 of the 74th while the bridge west of Genestrello is defended
 by two battalions of the 84th and guns.  Sonnaz' Aosta regiment
 protects the Allies' northern flank from Hesse's wing.
Forey snaps into action and Beuret's brigade descends upon
 Genestrello. The 84th takes fire from the jagers deployed
 in Genestrello.  While the Austrian fire is telling on the 84th,
 it stands firm.
Baum's two battalions of IR40 close on the 74th in Cascina Nuova.
The Austrian attack is short-lived as lively French fire puts 
Baum's brigade to flight.  Austrian infantry advance out of 
Montebello to reinforce Austrian positions north of Genestrello.
The Austrian goal is to deny Forey an easy crossing of the small
 waterway.
While Cascina Nuova did not fall in the initial assault as planned, 
Schaffgotsche makes a credible defense of Genestrello.
Forey's guns along the main road begin to find their range against
the Austrian lead battalion.
Birds-eye view of the battle with Beuret's brigade collapsing
 in on Genestrello as Schaffgotsche strengthens its defense. 
Beuret assaults Generstrello led by the 17th Chasseurs a Pied
With the elite 17th Chasseurs a pied leading the assault, the
 poorly motivated Austrians abandon Genestrello and
head towards a second line of defense.  In the clash, one
 of the Austrian battalions breaks and scampers to the rear.
Having lost Genestrello, the Austrians prepare to hold Montebello.
While the Austrian wing under Urban is reeling in the south
along the Main Road, Hesse is making progress against
the Sardinian cavalry screen in the north.
As Forey bears down on Montebello, Austrian defenders swing
out south of the town to prevent a second French flanking maneuver.
In the north, Hesse applies more pressure to the French left.
Blanchard is forced to divert infantry from the drive on
 Montebello to shore up his northern flank.
Having cleared Genestrello, Forey consolidates his gains
 and readies for a push towards Montebello.
Forey's cavalry and infantry drive a wedge between Hesse
 and Schaffgotsche.  There will be no succor from Hesse. 
Has Forey over extended his command?
Hesse continues pressing on against the Sardinian cavalry
 and threatens to capture Calcabobbio.  Multiple cavalry clashes
 in the open ground between the two streams leaves horsemen
 on both sides exhausted.
Hesse's Austrians press Blanchard's French near Calcabobbio.
As the French line slowly gives ground in the north,
Hesse's Austrians consider the possibility of regaining control 
of the vital railroad and bridge.
With Hesse closing in on Blanchard and Montebello tentatively
 under Austrian control, the battle was concluded with a 
declaration of an Allied Minor Victory.  Could the Austrian
have stemmed the French tide and counterattacked to 
eke out a draw?  We will never know. 
There we have it!  An evening's action ending in a minor Allied victory.  Commanding the Austrians, perhaps, that is as good as can be expected.  With inferior troops and abysmal leadership, French command was able to repeatedly strike first with the most.  French infantry battalions operating in coordination and led by good leaders is a sight to behold.  The Austrians, under Stadion, held the advantage in number of commanders but all were either average or poor.  Certainly no match for the French command.

French superior leadership and the soldiers' elan won the day as French infantry time and again pressed their advantage to control the situation.  While the larger Austrian battalions can seemingly take more punishment, their inferiority to their French counterparts made them seem more brittle.  Of course, I am speaking from the Austrian perspective.  My French adversary has a differing opinion.

The game was a very close affair with a number of high tension points across the front.  French Brigadier Blanchard forging a salient between the two Austrian wings and capturing the railroad bridge north of Montebello was thought to be a bridge too far.  Yet it fell to the French with little opposition.

Montebello offers a tactical challenge to both players and an enjoyable puzzle to solve.  As the Austrian player, I have not cracked the code on defeating the French.  My opponent feels the same way regarding his player with the French.  A Game 3 is set to test amended operational plans.  Game rules survived play with a live opponent.  Only a few modifications to be implemented for Game 3.  For Jake's thoughts on Montebello Games 2 and Games 3, see Thoughts on Montebello.  With a couple of slight rules' tweaks slated for Game 3, we will see how both armies respond to repeated trials.  

Game 2 resulted in a near historical outcome with Stadion controlling the Coppa River line and Foyer too fatigued to pursue.  When refighting a historical battle, one hopes for a plausible result.  Even better when the outcome mirrors the historical event and that outcome fits well within the historical narrative.  What will transpire in Game 3?   
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