Thursday, February 27, 2014

BTD Year-End Sale Package Arrives!

Yes, the order I placed to Black Tree Design, USA on 28DEC2013 arrived in today's post.  Almost two months to the day, the box of lead finally showed up on my doorstep.  Well, most of the order arrived.  There are still a few items on back order but still, what is more fun than receiving a package of lead in the mail?
Box of Lead
Several of us got together an after-Christmas order to BTD to take advantage of their Christmas/Year-End sale.  The sale featured a 50% discount on all items.  Yes, ALL items!  BTD does not offer 50% on everything often so we jumped at the chance to fill our storage sheds with lead.   
New Pile of Lead
Unfortunately, demand from the sale far outstripped supplies and my guess is that huge numbers of orders were back ordered.  To compound the issue, a large proportion of our order was for cavalry that rarely go on sale and casting up the inventory took time.  In fact, we are still waiting on a small pile of horses.

Some may think, you waited two months to receive your order?  Are you mad?  I have always had good and (usually) quick turn around on BTD orders so I wasn't too concerned.  The owner of BTD USA kept me updated with frequent emails apprising me of the status of our order.  Besides, I was not likely to run out of figures to paint anytime soon.

Most of the order contained figures to be added to our Reconquista projects including a lot of cavalry while Scott ordered samples from the Trojan War line.  Boy!  The Trojan War figures are really nice!  Very tempting!

I have some sorting to do this evening.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SYW Prussian Jaegers

After completing much of my planned SYW project in 18mm (see SYW recap), attention finally turned towards the light infantry components.  While a limited number of light infantry units participated in the large set-piece battles, these light troops should be useful in defending difficult terrain or built up areas of the battlefield.

First off the painting desk are 15 Prussian jaegers.  The figures are from Blue Moon's (BM) 15mm AWI range.  The jaegers are actually Hessian jaegers but uniform differences should be minimal.  BM's AWI range is one of my favorites and these jaegers are excellent sculpts within a very nice range.  Some of the faces are a little odd but, in all, a great batch of figures.  The noses on a few remind me of characters from Cats!

I have another 15 of these BM jagers primered and ready to get a lick of paint but first, I have two battalions of Austrian skirmishing grenzers to field.  

While I worked on these, I was drawn to the similarity between the uniforms of Hessian AWI jaegers, Prussian SYW jaegers, and the Russian jaegers during the 1799 campaign.  Recalling that I have a small 1799 Project in work, my thoughts turned toward fielding these Hessians as Russians.  How handy that one figure could masquerade for three nationalities' jaegers in three different periods!  

Few make figures for the 1799 campaign but Battle Honors (BH) makes Russian jaegers and others in 15mm for this time period.  Reviews are mixed on the BH French Revolution range.  Having only seen the occasional photo of the BH Russians and not knowing the size compatibility between AB and BH, I plan to press additional BM jaegers into service as Russian.  Based on the illustration below, I think it is a good match.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Battle of Cerro Gordo, 1847 - BatRep

Terry hosted a Mexican-American War game on Saturday using modified Regimental Fire and Fury.  Figures used were predominantly Scuby one inch figures.  With the old Scruby figures and a minimalist game layout, the game had a definite Old School feel despite the use of modern rules.

To set the stage, the Mexican Army, under Santa Anna,  sat astride the road from Veracruz to Mexico City taking up fine defensive positions.  The  Veracruz-Mexico City road passes through a defile guarded by the heights of El Telegrafo hill.  Protecting the heights, Santa Anna has emplaced guns and infantry.  Guarding the highway and the approaches to the defile are more guns and infantry.  The remainder of the Mexican army is encamped to the rear.
Battle of Cerro Gordo
With Scott commanding, the American forces were bifurcated into two attack formations. One was placed along the highway ready for an attack on the Mexican positions guarding the defile; the second under Harney were positioned for a direct assault against the El Telegrafo heights.
El Telegrafo
Before the game began, Terry picked up the two U.S. brigades deployed along the highway on the American left and redeployed them onto the American right.  Harney's brigade remained in the center.  Such trickery!  Now, the Mexicans guarding the defile faced a phantom enemy.  The rationale given for this bit of sleight-of-hand was that R.E. Lee discovered an avenue through the broken ground allowing the Americans to bypass the defile.

As the game began, Harney's brigade stepped off on its way to take El Telegrafo while Riley would head for the Mexican camp in an effort to cut the highway behind El Telegrafo.  The remaining U.S. brigade under Twiggs would support both Harney if needed while focusing his attack in the valley.
Harney's Brigade
The American assault was not coordinated. That is, Harney assaulted the heights before the other American brigades could get into position.
Assault on El Telegrafo
The first assault on El Telegrafo carried one of the redoubts and sent the Mexican defenders scampering away.
Redoubt #1 Captured
Captain Steptoe (1) unlimbered his artillery and began targeting Mexican cavalry at long range.
American attack
Americans pressed on all along the line and engaged the Mexican on all fronts with Harney on the heights and Twiggs in the valley.  The Mexicans guarding the defile began the long process of redeploying to thwart American attacks on El Telegrafo.  In the center, initial attacks by Twiggs were repulsed by Mexican Grenadiers.  

Assault on Redoubt #2 Attempt #1
Mexican reinforcements cannot arrive in time and Harney's assault against redoubt #2 presses forward.  Repulsed!  While one Mexican gun vamoosed, the second maintained its position.
Assault on Redoubt #2 Attempt #2
Regrouping, the Americans go in a second time.  The second assault saw success in carrying away both the defenders and the redoubt.  Scott holds the key position!  The Americans hold El Telegrafo but can they maintain their position?
Redoubts taken!
Near the Mexican encampment, cavalry array for battle as the infantry forms a long defensive line.  Twiggs prepared for a second assault against the grenadiers.
Mexican cavalry in battle array
Mexican defensive line
Twiggs' renewed assault routed the raw Mexican troops as the grenadiers gave ground slowly.  Mexicans counter attacked on the heights but were, themselves, repulsed.
Battle for the heights
Before Mexicans could regroup from the failed attack, Harney counterattacked and swept the Mexicans from the heights.
Mexicans driven from El Telegrafo
Mexican commander, Vasquez, on the right sinks into depression as all looks lost.
Velasquez throws in the hat
On the American right, clashes are frequent between Mexican cavalry and American infantry.  Steptoe's guns continued pounding Mexican troops. In the end, American firepower triumphs.
Scrum in the valley 
With Mexicans reeling from losses across the battlefield, the heavy casualty level was reached.  Santa Anna was forced to withdraw from the field.  Perhaps another stand before Mexico City is possible?
Aftermath of battle
(1) As a footnote, Captain Steptoe has ties to the Spokane, Washington region (home to the Palouse Wargaming Journal).  Steptoe later fought in the Indian Wars (Spokane-Coeur d'Alene-Paloos War) and was defeated at the Battle of Pine Creek in 1858 near Rosalia, Washington.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Old Glory Austrian IR#22

Looking forward to Saturday's game this morning at Terry's.  On the slate is a Regimental Fire and Fury battle down Mexico way.  Terry has a sizable collection of the old Scruby, one inch Mexican-American War figures.  These figures are true 25mm.  It is always fun to see these veterans of many a battle out on the table.  I was surprised that these figures can still be purchased.  Before heading out for the days' gaming activities, a few RFF QRS' need printing and a quick skim of the rules.

Today's figure update shows an Old Glory 28mm Austrian infantry battalion from their first edition lines of Napoleonics.  From viewing Scott's large Old Glory Austrian collection, the Austrians are one of the better sculpted and animated lines.  The figures really have much character.

While my 28mm Napoleonic collection focuses mainly on actions between the British and French, Scott gave me these figures, perhaps, as a means to expand my interest.  These figures have been beckoning from The Lead Pile for years.

I painted this battalion as IR#22 and the figures do have much character.  This was an enjoyable exercise and pleasant diversion from my other painting tasks.  What to do with them now?  Not sure but I may put them up for sale.

Now, off to the game!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

French Infantry on Campaign

Wanting to include French in bicorn into my French ranks, I opted to pick up several handfuls of Brigade Games' 28mm early French.  Brigade Games' early British have seen service in my Peninsular project so I was familiar with the quality of these sculpts.  My British have also seen service in Maida replays.

I figured some French would still be wearing the bicorn during the early years of the Peninsular War and almost certainly in 1806 Italy.  With Kevin's interest in the Egyptian campaign, these French in bicorn could see service there too and in many of the earlier campaigns.

Two battalions of these Frenchmen with 16 figures in each march off the table.  The models exhibit much character in the face and appear to have been campaigning for some time.  The facial features are really quite amazing.    Uniforms have a mix of trousers and the models are cut very slenderly.  These are long and lanky soldiers slimmed by the rigors of the march.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thoughts on Selecting a Wargame Campaign

While one-off games are enjoyable, sometimes I yearn for a little more continuity and context.  What do I mean by that?  Well, often a one-off game whether played solitaire or in  a multi-player setting, results in a final grab for victory in the closing stages of play.  How often is an all out assault attempted in the waning moments of a game?  From my own experiences, these last ditch efforts to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat occur far too often in multi-player games.  In my own solitaire exercises, these hurried stabs for victory can be avoided by remaining within the confines of history and the scenario.  On the table, our actions ought to have consequences later. 

Returning to the notion of continuity and context in a game, I would like to see the results of this on-table struggle ported over to the campaign.  Decisions on the tactical level can impact the operational level.  Our games should not always be conducted in isolation.  Rather than launching an attack with low probability of success late in the game, perhaps, a savvy commander should opt to withdraw his forces to fight again another day under more favorable circumstances?

My campaign thoughts turn towards combining an operational or strategic mechanism for maneuvering troops into position and then transferring those "paper" forces onto the miniatures' table for resolution.  For this operational or strategic mechanism, boardgames come immediately to mind.  Many have accomplished this melding of board and miniatures gaming successfully.  Those successes provide motivation for myself to give it a try.

To make a step forward in the activity, a period needs to be selected.  What criteria to use?  In no particular order the following would be needed:
  • An operational system to conduct the operational elements of the campaign.  Preferably the operational system would be contained within a wargame I already own.
  • A tactical system to resolve tactical battles on the table.
  • Miniatures to field necessary forces for all combatants.
Considering my collections, many periods could be potential candidates.  They are:
  • Second Punic War
  • Spanish Reconquista
  • English Civil War
  • French and Indian War
  • American War of Independence
  • Napoleonic Wars
  • Risorgimento 1859
  • American Civil War
That is quite a long list of potential candidates!  Although an interesting campaign, the Risorgimento can be eliminated since I do not have sufficient French painted to field a sizable French force.  I should focus on getting French into the painting queue.  The Risorgimento has a superb operational game available in 1859.  Looking at the game components makes me wish I was in position to give this a try.  I really should focus on getting French painted!
Miniatures for any of the Franco-Austrian Napoleonic campaigns, the Peninsular War, or the 1813-1815 campaigns could be fielded for the game table to support a campaign.  The scope of the campaigns and forces involved may be greater than I care to tackle on the table in a protracted campaign.  Napoleonic Wars will be bypassed in this exercise.

What are some of the operational system choices for the other periods?  For Punic Wars, I could use Hannibal from Strategy & Tactics.

For the Reconquista, another Strategy & Tactics offering,

Reconquista looks very interesting but reviews are quite mixed.  Actually, most reviews are negative with the consensus being that there is a good game in there somewhere and to bring it out requires a substantial effort.  As a system for generating tactical battles on the miniatures' table, it might work well.  The difficulty might lay in absorbing the rules and resolving questions that arise.  

For the English Civil War, The King's War is a first rate choice.

For the French and Indian War, Montcalm & Wolfe would be my choice as an easy to use battle generator.

Since Montcalm and Wolfe has similarities to Habitants & Highlanders, H&H could also be utilized.

For the AWI, the companion booklet to Habitants & Highlanders, Whites of Their Eyes would make a useful campaign engine.  My 15mm AWI collection has not seen the table in far too long and a campaign might be just the ticket to get them out again.

Finally, for the ACW, Campaigns of R. E. Lee would make an excellent campaign engine for the eastern theater

as would the much simpler, S&T Campaigns in the Valley.

With so many choices, deciding which to undertake may be difficult.  Which would YOU choose?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Risorgimento 1859 - Sardinian Infantry

With a handful of limbers recently finished for the 1859 project (Austrian, Sardinian), attention returns to combat troops.  When I left off on working through the Sardinian OB, Infantry Line Regiment #11 had only two of its four battalions mustered.  With this update, battalions #3 and #4 can be fielded to bring Line Regiment #11 up to full strength.  The only distinguishing features of the uniform separating the 11th from other infantry regiments are the yellow collar tabs and the pom pom. 

I think it time to get this collection onto the gaming table again.  While I focused on the main battle at San Martino in my first outing, perhaps, I could put together a scenario covering the western approaches to the battlefield in the next game?  With that, I have some research to do.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

14th Brooklyn Chasseur from Forgotten & Glorious

Seeing a call out from Forgotten & Glorious (website) to receive a free sample figure, I jumped at the chance to examine a sample up close.  I requested a figure their 28mm ACW range; specifically a figure from the 14th Brooklyn Chasseurs.  The 14th Brooklyn (84th NY) wore a French style chasseur uniform.  Quite a smart looking uniform and don't call them Zouaves!

When the envelope arrived in the post, I opened the package and was amazed at the quality of the figure.  Really, this is an outstanding bit of sculpture.  The figure had a glob of metal on the right hand which I tried to remove.  I thought I had done a good job on removing the excess until I began painting.  In the photos, the remnant of the glob is visible.  Other than that extra metal on the right fist, the figure is stunning.  Details are nicely raised and easy to paint.  To my eye, the figure is brilliant.

One question I have is how many regiments other than the 14th Brooklyn wore the French style chasseur uniform?  I am sure Scott already has the Sash & Saber 14th mustered into his ranks so little need for a second regiment.  Still, a very tempting figure.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spanish Infantry in Cuba - Dip and Rebase

With the arrival of the grass tufts from Tajima, the Spanish rebasing activity made great progress this week.  When we last checked in on the Spanish-American War land project (Cuba for the Spanish), all infantry figures were singly based and had not seen the light of day (so to speak) for years.

Figures were based in threes and then given a treatment of stain.  Bases were then flocked and "bushed" with my newly acquired grass tufts.  Below are the finished products as shown on the parade ground.  Based in threes, the troops will be much easier to maneuver on the battlefield.

Figures in the last rank in the last picture are actually Cuban rebels not Spanish.  Now, I need some opposition for these guys.  Opposition awaits in the form of unpainted Old Glory lead at Scott's.  I only need to find time to make the trek to Coeur d'Alene to pick them up.