Friday, August 12, 2022

Paint 'em or Purge 'em

After 18 months of no additions to the ECW collection, I decided it time to revisit the project.  With most of the ECW figures having been painted and mustered out from The Lead Pile long ago, the project is considered finished.  A few bits and pieces linger but no pressing needs remain.  Is this true that the project is finished with little need for expansion?  From experience, this is rarely the situation.

Digging through the boxes of metal, a box of TAG figures emerged.  Ah, I remember these.  Seems only one unit of TAG cavalry has seen the paint brush to date.  Why not add another regiment of horse?  Indeed, why not?

As work progressed on the next nine horsemen, I dug around some more in the pile.  Out of the figure stash came about two-dozen musketeers.  Now, these are really dressed for the earlier Thirty Years War but they could see service in my ECW project in a variety of roles.  But does the project really need more musketeers with no complement of pikemen?  

These musketeers could be pressed into service as commanded shotte, militia, or baggage guards.  Since there are no dedicated commanded shotte or town militia mustered out in the collection, a need could conceivably exist.  Oh, and the figures are beautiful too!

Having never fielded either commanded shotte, town militia, or firelocks/baggage guard in a game, perhaps simply purging these figures is the prudent way forward.  Of course, maybe the right scenario has yet to make it to the table?

As my decision hangs in the balance, what would you do?  I will count up the responses and see where the issue stands.  Perhaps someone will lay a convincing claim to these figures before I push them into the painting queue? 

Paint 'em or Purge 'em? 

I may have answered my own question...

Monday, August 8, 2022

Samurai Archers

As a brief intermission between fielding SYW French, off from the painting desk today is a unit of Samurai bowmen.  These 15mm figures are from Museum Miniatures were part of a holiday sale pick-up in January.  Great figures with excellent sculpting.  Still more cavalry and teppo remain to push into the painting queue when I need a change of pace. 
SYW French remain a dominant sight in the painting queue although another diversion is in work.  A dig through The Lead Pile surfaced a box of TAG Thirty Years War/ ECW figures.  Both infantry and cavalry were rediscovered in the mix.  Nine of the horsemen were gathered up and primered in preparation for seeing some action at the painting desk.  After the next SYW French infantry musters out, I expect these cavalry troopers will be next on the scene.  

Gaming remains afoot including an introduction of Commands & Colors Ancients (CCA) to a fantasy gamer.  Yes, indeed!  I enticed a Warhammer 40k player to give historicals a try. 

Having replayed Caralis 215BC a number of times and finding it always to produce a close game, I put that out on the table for a refight in 6mm.
Caralis 215BC
My opponent chose to command Carthage and after a brief overview of the rules, we set to combat.  Logan began the game in a blaze of successes.  Quickly opening up the center, I found Rome down 5 banners to nil.  Rome recovered.  By endgame, Rome stood on a 7-6 advantage.  In one last grand cavalry charge, Carthage took out two severely weakened Roman infantry units in the center to claim victory.  It was a terrific Carthaginian victory.  Even better, my WH40k opponent enjoyed the game and is looking forward to more historical CCA games.

Score!

Up on Graham's gaming table for Tuesday is a rematch of last week's RCW battle.  Players are switching sides and plotting new battle plans. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Flagging French Cavalry

One of the early decisions made when I sat down to plan a French army was what to do about cavalry standard bearers.  Do I order one standard bearer for every unit I plan to field, some of the units, or none?  Since I had no French cavalry flags at the ready, the decision was to include standard bearers for perhaps half of the units.  Standard bearers with no flag look a bit forlorn.  I should know.  Most of my SYW cavalry have no banners waving in the breeze.  Armed with that decision, I sat down to make up the Christmas order to Eureka Miniatures.  As I type out these words, memories of poring over the pages of the Christmas catalog and making lists come rushing back.  Oh the joy!  Not much difference with the exception that fifty years have passed since those formative days.

Anyway, having recently completed the first tranche of French cavalry units to field for Bassignana (up to seven units now), David (Not by Appointment blog) asked if some French cavalry flags would interest me.  Of course, they would!  Having seemingly kept a watchful eye on the mustering out of my French cavalry on the blog, I received an email with the standard for one of my recently released units.  After an exchange of emails, another flag for one of my units appeared.  And another.  And another.  David was creating these little masterpieces at a rate unsustainable to my painting throughput.  I may have more French cavalry banners than I do painted cavalry units; or unpainted ones!  This is especially true since not all of my painted cavalry units field a standard bearer.

In talking with David, one of his concerns is the small size of the cavalry banners.  He much prefers seeing the large flags of the infantry regiments.  Yes, cavalry banners are much smaller than their foot colleagues by design.  This concern is pronounced with flags for 15mm figures when compared to 25/28mm figures.  With Eureka cavalry, this is even more pronounced.  Many of the Eureka cavalry have short standards.  No space on the pole to attach a larger flag without replacing the pole.

Would much of the detail put into a cavalry banner be lost to the eye when printing and when displayed upon the gaming table?  Judge for yourself on four of the newly flagged cavalry units.


David's artistry in his flag work is still on display even in these small cavalry flags.  The banners provide a splash of color to the cavalry unit and help identify the command stand at a glance. 

Brilliant work, David, and thank you!  Now, I need to go off and make a new Wish List for Eureka Miniatures and include more cavalry standard bearers among the unit orders. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

2022 Great Wargaming Survey is Live!

The 2022 edition of Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy Magazine's The Great Wargaming Survey is active at the following link: 

GWS 2022

The 2022 survey sees one or two new questions and an improved ranked-choice UI.  I found the survey only took a few minutes to complete. 

If interested, I encourage readers to take a few minutes out of their day to complete the survey.  If my post-survey analyses are of interest, jot down your responses for later reference when I present summaries and inferences.  All responses are anonymized and reported as summaries only.

Survey runs through 31 August.

Thank you.

Jon

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Look! I Painted Something!

In a tip of the cap to one of Stew's recent ramblings on blog content at A Terrible Loss of Lead and Wealth, I offer up a Look - I painted something post.

Mustering out from the painting desk today are a dozen horsemen from the French Raugrave Cavalerie Regiment.  Figures are from Eureka Miniatures.

I thought these were the last of the French cavalry figures from my big Christmas restock of Eureka Miniatures back in December.  As is often the case, I was wrong.  A careful rummage through The Lead Pile surfaced another dozen French cavalry troopers.  Hooray!  These newly-found figures will go into the production queue with a goal of mustering out as the Colonel-General Cavalerie Regiment.  Inspired by David's recent, superb flagwork for this regiment (see French Cavalry Standards - Colonel-General Cavalerie Regiment), a redcoated regiment is just what I need. 
Speaking of David's superb flagwork, his barrage of cavalry flags led to a series of misfortunes on Saturday.

With enough newly raised regiments to warrant printing up another flag set, I set to work creating the set of flags.  With the sheet finished, the flagsheet was sent to the printer.  The flags printed but the color blue was not rendering.  Was the color cartridge out of ink?  The printer status suggested the cartridge was still mostly full.  Hmm.  Were the printer heads or cartridge contacts plugged?  They all looked OK but I gave each a good swab anyway.  I tried again.  Still not blue. Perhaps the printer heads were misaligned?  I aligned them.  Nope still no color. 

Off to the store for new ink cartridges.  Back again.  Still no color.  Sigh.  A call to tech support suggested that the printer heads were damaged and ought to be serviced and replaced.  Well, the cost of sending the printer out for repair was almost the equivalent cost to purchasing a new printer.  What did I do? Purchasing a new printer seemed reasonable.

With an in-house supply of ink cartridges, I wanted to purchase a printer with the same ink cartridge specs.  Having found several contenders, I went out to buy one.  The store had the correct printer so I bought one and brought it home.  

Installation became a small nightmare as the printer screen kept issuing a "Printer photo tray" blocked error.  No way past this error and the tray showed no sign of blockage or jam ("jam"?  is this another variation on Stew's PB&J posts?).  I digress...

Another call to tech support in Bangalore was met with a long pause as "Bob" searched the printer knowledge base.  After several minutes wait, Bob came back onto the line to say that the tray is defective.  Return the printer to the store from which I purchased it and get another.  Oh, and good luck!

Well, back to the store I go with the inoperative printer in the opened box.  After I explained the situation and my call to India, the guy in customer service said, "let's get you a new one."  After exchanging printers, back home I went with the new package.  

After unpacking and setting the new printer up, installation began.  Less than 15 minutes later, the new printer was being put through its paces on diagnostics and printing test pages.  All is working but duty calls to other pressing matters like preparing dinner for guests.

Now, time to give the new printer a test run with an assortment of Dave's flags.

Whew!           

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Learning curve is not so steep!

Having battled at the confluence of the Po and Tanaro Rivers two weeks prior (see Bassignana, A Battle Report) and with no better offers, the fellas agreed to fight the battle a second time in the regular, weekly Tuesday time slot.

The first encounter ended with a Franco-Spanish victory as Chris led de Gages' Spanish on a romp toward the pontoon bridge over the Po as Bassignana fell.  With no sign of Schulenburg's Austrians in sight, victory was declared for the Franco-Spanish alliance. 

Since four of the five players in the previous game would return, commands were shuffled up to provide a new challenge to each player.  Richard and Chris would switch sides and command the Piedmontese/Austrian armies while Steve would swap the Piedmontese King's sceptre for a French general's command.  Phil remained on the Franco-Spanish side but taking overall command as French General Maillebois.  Ian, a new recruit for Game #2 took de Gages' Spanish command.

Early consensus suggested the battle may be too tough to allow the Piedmontese to score a victory.  I thought the Piedmontese had an opportunity to see success but the defenders may have a learning curve to scale.  Richard and Chris took up this challenge.  Studying the ground, army dispositions, and victory conditions, a plan was hatched.

Could the lessons learned from Game #1 help to level the playing field or would the challenge or learning curve prove too steep? 

As a refresher, the initial army dispositions are:

Initial battle dispositions
Battlefield looking to the west.
On to Battle!

In the first playing, King Emanuele III (KEIII) ordered Liguane's dragoons to ford the Tanaro and apply hard pressure on the French left at the start of battle.  The ploy paid off in disrupting the French lines of communication but the effort effectively took Liguane out of the battle at a crucial stage.  After scattering a French cavalry regiment, Liguane never affected the battle again.  Would the new KEIII (Phil) follow the same path? 
Liguane's dragoons positioned on the Piedmontese right.
Maillebois' French ready to advance across the Tanaro. 
The Spanish on the Franco-Spanish right kick off the action by moving up into position to ford the knee-deep Tanaro river.  Maillebois' French follow suit and advance to prepare for the crossings opposite Chiesa de San Germano and Montecastelle.  For now, the only Piedmontese action is to wheel Liguane about and trot off to the north toward the Po River.  What?  The defenders of the multiple villages facing the Tanaro prepare themselves for defense. 

The Franco-Spanish attack begins.
All along the Tanaro River, the Franco-Spanish armies wade across the waterway.  Senneterre's two infantry battalions waste little time in climbing the hill to Montecastelle.  D'aix' infantry atop the heights readies for the attack it knows will come.  
Senneterre assaults Montecastelle
as the Franco-Spanish cross the Tanaro.
The Spanish ford the Tanaro.
The French wade across the Tanaro.
Senneterre's attack goes in against the defenders of Montecastelle and is bloodily repulsed by well-timed and successfully delivered volleys.  Senneterre's two infantry battalions fall back across the Tanaro.  With infantry falling back, Senneterre's artillery bombards Montecastelle to cover the retreat and soften up the defenders.  On Senneterre's left, de Grammont sends his two infantry battalions in against the defenders of Chiesa de San Germano.  The Piedmontese grenadiers of San Germano deliver a withering volley into the face of the attackers.  Heavy casualties do not discourage the French from continuing to close.
Senneterre attacks Montecastelle.
Maillebois orders both de Grammont and Senneterre's cavalry to cross the Tanaro.  De Grammont's two cavalry regiments swing wide left around Chiesa de San Germano.  To where did Liguane's cavalry disappear?  Chris sent a chat message to me providing orders for Liguane.  He asked me to remove the cavalry from the table when out of sight of the enemy and track their progress off table.  Chris is a crafty one!
Attack against Chiesa de San Germano goes in
as Senneterre's attack against Montecastelle is repulsed.
(Note that the Piedmontese players are all smiles).
In the close assault at San Germano, de Grammont's attack is stopped short.  The lead battalion, already wavering from the volleys, is cut down.  De Grammont falls in the attack too.  While overseeing the developing attack on Rivarone, Maillebois receives word that de Grammont has fallen.  The attack on Chiesa de San Germano has stalled.  Maillebois spurs his horse to rush off to shore up the faltering attack against the Piedmontese right.
de Grammont falls in the assault
upon Chiesa de San Germano
.
In the center, de Montal and Arambou converge their energies against the defenders of Rivarone. With only a small brigade, de la Chiesa will have trouble holding the exposed village.  Despite support from D'aix' guns on the hill, the pressure is great.  In the attacks, de la Chiesa's guns are lost and the regulars are forced back onto the heights.  The hapless militia holding the village are overrun by de Montal's Brigade.  Rivarone is lost!  De la Chiesa's Brigade is broken! 
Attacks on Rivarone.
With Rivarone in French hands, Senneterre renews his attack against Montecastelle.  Again, Senneterre's attack is repulsed as the Piedmontese right stands firm.  Again, Senneterre's artillery covers the withdrawal by bombarding the village.  Senneterre's cavalry are sent north into the valley between Montecastelle and Chiesa de San Germano.  This is a dangerous maneuver with the high ground lined with the enemy. 
Arambou and de Montal move against Rivarone. 
Back on the Spanish right, de Gage forms a bridgehead on the north bank of the Tanaro.  Getting too close to Bassignana, one of de Gage's cavalry regiments is dispersed from volleys from the battalion garrisoning the Bassignana fortress.  De Gage's infantry fan out to counter enemy light infantry threats to his right while marching on Bassignana directly with the remainder.
Rivarone falls!
Having crossed the Tanaro,
 the Spanish advance toward Bassignana.
Above the valley north of Montecastelle, the Piedmontese guards pour volley after volley down onto the French cavalry.  One formation is dispersed before it can complete its run of the narrow gauntlet.  Seeing Senneterre's second attack repulsed at Montecastelle, French artillery concentrate on the castle.  Still, the Piedmontese defenders remain steady.  Positioned below the defenders on the hill between Rivarone and Bassignana, Arambou's infantry engage in a firefight with the remnants of de la Chiesa's infantry.  If Arambou is to succeed, he may have to take the ground by force.
Into the Valley of Death.
French cavalry receives a whiff of lead from on high.
This is exactly what Arambou does!  Supported by de Montal, Arambou climbs the heights and pushes the enemy back.  Maillebois sees his army on the heights!  On the Spanish front, a firefight erupts with the defenders of Bassignana.  The Piedmontese light infantry continues harassing de Gage from the treeline.
Piedmontese center and left are bending
as the enemy scales the heights.
On the French end of the battle line, Maillebois watches as his French infantry are thrown-out yet again from both San Germano and Montecastelle.  French losses are heavy but Sennettere's cavalry reach the church at Fiondi.  Can the Piedmontese be surrounded?
The Piedmontese slowly give ground.
Perhaps not!  In the distance, Liguane's cavalry reappears on the road to Bassignana near the pontoon bridge.  Schulenburg, followed by Neuhaus' Austrian infantry, is seen crossing the pontoon bridge over the Po.  Reinforcements arrive to squash any thoughts of either encirclement or breakthrough.  With the French left wrecked and both Bassignana and the pontoon bridge secure, Maillebois' thoughts of victory are fleeting. 
Liguane and Schulenburg arrive!
Franco-Spanish armies running out of steam.
Maillebois' hopes dashed.
With the game session drawing to a close, victory goes to the Piedmontese and Austrian armies!  Congratulations to Richard and Chris for reversing history in a convincing manner.  

While the King saw one brigade wrecked (de la Chiesa), the remainder of the Piedmontese army remained in stable condition.  The Franco-Spanish, however, suffered mightily on the attack.  Only Arambou's Brigade saw itself with little damage.  The other four brigades were all on the verge of breaking.  They had literally fought themselves out.  With repeated attacks against the Piedmontese strongpoints, the end of battle tally showed Maillebois' army losing six units.  Several more were close to dispersing as well.

The Franco-Spanish battle plan, while leading to victory in Game #1, seemed to carry forward to Game #2.  Having lost the first battle, the Piedmontese and Austrian armies came up with a different strategy to tackle the problem.  That change of strategy worked!  Rather than defend the Tanaro River line, the King opted to defend the strongpoints and high ground.  The focal point of the defense was not to lose Bassignana.  If Bassignana could be defended then having the pontoon bridge cut was an unlikely possibility.

Interestingly, the French attacks against the strongpoints of Chiesa de San Germano and Montecastelle ended in the same manner as before.  That is, all attacks were repulsed with heavy casualties.  Having the Piedmontese grenadiers and guards defending these positions was key to keeping these objectives firmly in Italian control.

As umpire and figure-pusher, watching these strategies unfold differently from Game #1 was rewarding.  Players adapted to lessons learned from the previous game and put those lessons into work to alter the outcome.  KEIII did a good job in tipping the seeming imbalance in the historical situation to give his army a fighting chance at victory.  A fight for victory that ended in success.  The boys are quick studies and the learning curve is not so steep.

Thanks again to the players for an enjoyable outing.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Bassignana, A Battle Report

Having passed out Battle Briefings and set the table, it was time to rev-up the engines for the first of hopefully a few refights of the 1745 Battle of Bassignana.  First test would fall upon the shoulders of the UK-based Monday Night Group.  The battle would be fought remotely with five players in attendance.

As a reminder (see On the table today is), the battle layout is, 

Battlefield and initial dispositions.

The Franco-Spanish objective is to either destroy the Austro-Piedmontese army or seize the villages on the north bank of the Tanaro River.  While the outnumbered defenders are primarily Piedmontese, Austrians reinforcements may arrive late in the battle with a bit of luck. The Piedmontese need to hang on to avoid defeat.  Will the Austrians arrive in time to turn the battle?  The commands were split two Piedmontese players to three Franco-Spanish players.

View of battlefield from east.
View of the Spanish from behind Piedmontese left.
View of the French from behind Piedmontese right.
The Spanish (flying French colors). 
The French.
Let's see how the battle played out.  Note that much of the battle will be relayed through screenshots as I once again was too pre-occupied to stop and snap more photos.  As in other BatReps, white arrows suggest movement, yellow arrows denote retreats, and red arrows show combat.  I apologize that the player overlays occupy the right portion of the screen obscuring that part of the battlefield.
The French poised to splash across
 the Tanaro River on the attack.
With de Gage's Spanish on the Franco-Spanish right having the honors to step off to battle first, off they go, smartly stepping off toward the bridge over the Tanaro.  On the left, Maillebois' French cautiously advance toward the river while artillery in the center provide some covering fire.  To counter de Gage's advance, Emanuele pushes troops from his left, forward toward the Tanaro.  With the Tanaro only knee-deep in most places, crossing may not present much of an obstacle to an advancing army.  Hitting the enemy as it emerges from the river looks like a solid plan. 
The battle begins.
As de Gages' command reaches the river, a firefight erupts east of Rivarone.  Both sides suffer casualties as the crossing slows.  The Spanish find themselves in a chokepoint that must be broken if they are to make progress.  Piedmontese lay in wait expecting to pounce when the first Spanish cavalry reach the north bank.
de la Chiesa's defenders of Rivarone.
On the French left, de Grammont's brigade pushes across the southern fork in the river.  Liguane's dragoons counter this maneuver by moving across the north fork to challenge the French.  Senneterre's lead infantry battalion wades across the river to confront the Piedmontese defenders in Montecastelle.  Artillery fire from the guns atop the hill at Montecastelle disrupt Senneterre's second infantry battalion as it awaits orders to cross.
The Franco-Spanish breach the Tanaro.
Arambou's infantry battalions on the Spanish right attack across the river only to be bloodily repulsed for their efforts.  To add insult to injury, these retiring battalions are subjected to artillery bombardment as they reform in the rear. Ouch!
Heavy fighting near Rivarone.
De Gages' cavalry cross the bridge and splash across the river to engage the lone enemy cavalry to their front.  Meanwhile, on the French front, Maillebois orders his command to cross the river.  At the end of the French line, de Grommet is tasked with both forcing a crossing of the Tanaro and preventing a flanking maneuver by Liguane and his dragoons.  
Spanish cavalry strike!
The battle heats up with de Gage crashing into the defending Piedmontese horsemen.  The defenders are driven back from the river and retire back to the heights.  Given some breathing space, Arambou's infantry attack to the west of the bridge while de Gages' infantry attack across to the east of the bridge.  Facing overwhelming odds, both defenders are scattered.  A huge hole opens up on the Piedmontese left.  Seizing this opportunity, Spanish cavalry are sent rushing toward Bassignana.  Wisely, Emanuele sends Piedmontese back to occupy the Bassignana fortifications.
The Tanaro is breached and the race is on.
Seeing Spanish cavalry making a beeline toward Bassignana and the vital pontoon bridge over the Po, the Piedmontese cavalry, recently sent packing back onto the heights, whirl about and take up the chase.  It may be a race back to the Po.  If the Spanish arrive first, Austrian reinforcements are unlikely. 
The Tanaro, knee deep in French and Spanish.
In the center of the Piedmontese line, firefights reach a crescendo as the militia battalion defending Rivarone takes a pounding.  So far, the militia holds in its salient at the foot of the hills.  Senneterre attacks Montecastelle but makes little headway against the defenders.  Maillebois pushes French cavalry across the Tanaro ignoring the unpleasant destruction of one of his cavalry formations at the hands of enemy dragoons.  The French left looks vulnerable.
Heavy firefights in the center.
Remaining with the fight at Rivarone, Arambou's infantry assault the guns.  The guns are overrun in the attack and de la Chiesa goes down in the fighting.  The Piedmontese left and center are crumbling.  Still, the defenders of Montecastelle and Chiesa de San Germano hold firm.  Realizing that attacking these two strongpoints is risky, Maillebois sends de Grammont's infantry and cavalry out to the left in an attempt to flank the Chiesa de San Germano position.  As a diversion, Senneterre is sent in against Montecastelle. 
The Piedmontese left crumbles.
de Grammont attacks Chiesa de San Germano
Senneterre launches an attack.
Attacks against these two strongpoints are both repulsed although casualties are light.  On the Spanish flank, de Gages' pushes infantry toward Bassignana.  With no sign of Schulenburg's reinforcing Austrians, time may be running out for them to successfully intervene.  Caught in the valley between San Germano and Montecastelle, French cavalry suffer mightily at the hands of Piedmontese volleys.  Their only hope is to continue running the gauntlet to escape the valley at the north end.
The Piedmontese right holds
as the left is under heavy pressure.
Even though the Piedmontese right is holding up against repeated attacks, the Piedmontese left and center are dissolving.  De Gages' infantry secures Bassignana just as Spanish cavalry reach the pontoon bridge over the Po.
Bassignana falls and the race to the Po.
As Schulenburg approaches the pontoon bridge from the north, he witnesses the bridge fall into Spanish hands. With the Piedmontese army shattered to his front, he refuses to fight across the Po.  The battle is over.
The Piedmontese defense thwarted.
Positions at end of battle viewed from east.
Despite seeing unfavorable odds for the defending Piedmontese, Bassignana produced a most enjoyable battle refight.  Outnumbered, the defenders still had opportunities to gain a victory albeit tough.  Fate did not smile upon the Piedmontese since their allies, under Schulenburg, failed to arrive in time to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  They held out long enough to give the Austrians a chance to arrive but, alas, Schulenburg and his Austrians made an appearance only near battle's end.  An arrival one turn earlier would have allowed the Austrians to secure the pontoon bridge and begin to bring troops across.  It was not to be.  Still, a very exciting battle with a lot of ebb and flow throughout with D-Aix's command throwing back every French assault.  Once again, history repeats itself.

Well played by all!

Look for more Bassignana refights in the weeks to come.  Plenty of new approaches to try and plenty of play left in this battle.  Thanks again to André (Wackenshofen Anno Domini) for bringing this battle to my attention and inspiring this effort.