Saturday, May 31, 2014

French Grenadiers - Brigade Games

There are currently two Brigade Games' early French infantry battalions in my 28mm Napoleonic project.  When these two battalions first mustered from the painting desk, the 18 figures in each battalion wore bicorne.  While work is progressing on a nifty French Gendarmerie a pied infantry battalion, I decided to  add two grenadier figures in bearskin to each of the previously completed line battalions.

The French in Brigade Games' Napoleonic line are expertly sculpted by Paul Hicks and really are a pleasure to paint.  As the photos show, these are long and lanky Frenchmen and look like they have been on campaign for some time.  The first photo reminds me a bit of an impressionistic painting so I included it even though the details and colors are a little over-exposed.

With the reorganization of the two French battalions to include grenadiers, four painted infantry have been released for other duty.  Eight additional infantry are in The Lead Pile so another order to Brigade Games is required to bring a third battalion up to full strength.  With a few more figures, I could field a second battalion of gendarmes a pied too.  I just missed the free shipping promo but I can wait for the next sale.  As an aside, I really need to keep a list of figures needed to fulfill requirements so that when a sale pops up, I can respond quickly.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ancient Ruins in Fiesole, Italy

Roman amphitheatre overlooking Tuscan hills
Scheduled to stay in Florence for four days on our recent trip to Italy, an afternoon day trip was planned to Fiesole (I heard it pronounced fee-ah-soh-lay).  Taking the city bus to Fiesole was quite easy.  After a steep climb out of Florence, we were deposited near the piazza in the center of the small town after about 20 minutes.  Greeting us at the piazza was a statue honoring the meeting of Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II.
Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel meeting
Fiesole tower and piazza
Why visit Fiesole?  First, it is only about 6km from Florence so would make an easy day trip to escape the throngs of tourists overrunning Florence.  Second, Fiesole contains Etruscan and Roman ruins including a well preserved Roman amphitheatre.  Third, views of the Arno Valley should be stunning.
View of Florence from Fiesole
Google map of Fiesole ruins
Entrance to ruins and museum
Roman amphitheatre 
Roman amphitheatre with tower in background 
Roman baths
Roman baths
Altar both Etruscan and Roman
A brief, ancient history of Fiesole:
Evidence suggests that the two heights have been occupied since the Bronze Age.  Etruscan occupation continued from about the 8th century BC.  With the Etruscans came Greek culture including political affiliation to the city state, pottery, and urban development.  Language was distinct from the surrounding Latin and Italic languages.  A massive wall was built to protect the city from Gaulic raids and to protect Arno Valley trade routes.  Remnants of the Etruscan walls are present today.
Etruscan wall
Militarily and politically, Fiesole likely allied with Rome against Hannibal in 217 BC but was later destroyed by the Romans in 90 BC. In 80 BC. a Roman colony was established.  In 405 AD, Fiesole was the site of a battle between the Goths and Romans under Stilicone.  This was to be the last major victory for the Roman Empire.  After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Langobards (Lombards or "Long Beards") settled into Fiesole in the 6th-7th centuries AD.  Archaeological excavations have uncovered a Lombard cemetery and artifacts, many of which are on display in the museum.  As Florence's influence grew, that of Fiesole faded and was destroyed by the Florentines in 1010 AD.

The most surprising find in the little museum was the vast collection of Etruscan pottery contained, therein.  A small sampling of the pieces are below:
Etruscan pottery
Etruscan pottery
Etruscan pottery
Etruscan pottery
Etruscan pottery
If you find yourself in Florence with half a day at your leisure and interest in ancient ruins, I recommend daytripping to Fiesole.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Montcalm & Wolfe SEP1755-DEC1755

Following the Battle of Fort Carillon, Rigaud and the remnants of his expedition retreat back into the woods.  In the engagement, one French regular regiment was destroyed. Having prevented the French completion of Fort Carillon, both weary combatants are forced to forage rather than draw supplies from a supply source.  French have two units which forage and both are successfully kept alive.  The British under Shirley, have one of the two militia melt away likely from a combination of battle weariness and lack of supplies.
With winter approaching, the British want to ensure that troops are back on supply sources to minimize attrition and demobilization.  Rolling on the Activation Table, the British roll an '8'.  The French get one activation!  This bonus activation is used to bring Rigaud and force back to Isle aux Noix.  After briefly losing the initiative, the British roll again for activation.  This time, five activations are scored.  The two militia at Albany are placed into reserve as is the one militia at Fort Edwards.  Johnson returns to Albany and Shirley returns to Fort Edward.
All units are currently stationed at supply sources so no normal supply attrition occurs.  In winter, however, attrition is much more severe and having a supply source is no guarantee for survival.  Each non-militia unit must roll on the Forage Table with one unit in settlements and two in fort being exempt.  Militia units must, however, roll for demobilization.  Militia units accompanied by a leader gain a bonus as do militia in a friendly port or fort.  Since Fort William-Henry was not a British fort at the stat of the game, it will not count as a fort for winter demobilization purposes.  That is one reason Shirley returned to Fort Edwards vs Fort William-Henry.  French militia in Quebec receive a double bonus.

All non-militia fall under the limits for forced foraging so only militia demobilization occurs.  One militia at Albany is demobilized and the French lose three militia; one each at Fort Frontenac, Isle aux Noix, and Quebec.  Ouch!
With winter in full swing and content to hunker down, neither side makes any activations for the Winter 2 turn.  With no military operations, supply and winter attrition are checked.  For militia demobilization, all British militia decide to head home with the exception of the militia in Fort Edwards while the French militia stay on post.  Four British militia disband during the harsh winter.  What will be left by Spring?

1755 Strategic Interphase.  Currently, the Political Track stands at '3' in favor of the French.  This level will influence the strategic reinforcements allocated for 1756 to both sides.  French will enjoy a '+1' while the British will suffer a '-1' DRM.

Rolling and placing first, the French receive two militia and Drucour.  Drucour and one militia are sent to Isle aux Noix while the second militia is sent to reinforce the ungarrisoned Fort Frontenac.  The British also receive two militia.  One is sent to Fort Edwards along with Monckton and the other arriving at Albany.
Thus ends the first year of the war.

The winter was brutal on the militia and militia reinforcements were not enough to cover losses to those disbanding.  Both sides appear to be building up for a renewed offensive in the Hudson Valley and the lake region in spring.  Not having built Fort Carillon will significantly hamper French control of Lake Champlain and the Hudson Valley.  All is quiet on the Western Front but will it last?  The French in Fort Duquesne seem quite isolated in their outpost and far removed from significant action.  I suppose the presence of French regulars there does defuse any British attempts on a deep end-around.   

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Liebster Nomination

Marcus at The Monkey that Walks blog has nominated The Palouse Wargaming Journal for a Liebster Award.  Marcus, I thank you!

From my understanding, this is in effect a chain letter to help in promoting bloggers having fewer than 200 followers.  Those blogs that I, in turn, nominate, are to copy and paste the award to into their blog linking it back to the person who nominated them (The Palouse Wargaming Journal). Part of the ritual is answering a handful of questions.  The nominator can prescribe a set of questions for the nominee.

The "official" rules as interpreted by me:

  • Copy and paste the award on your blog linking to the blogger who has given it to you 
  • Pass the award to your top 11 blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment one of their posts to notify then that they have won the award and listing them on your own blog 
  • Sit back and bask in the warm fuzzy feeling that comes that knowing you have made someones day! 
  • There is no obligation to pass this onto someone else but it's nice if you take the time to do so. 
Since Marcus did not dictate a set of questions, I will tackle a few of the questions he answered in his Leibster nomination.

1. Why did you start blogging?
To chronicle my efforts in my wargaming hobby and provide a bit of motivation and direction. Maintaining a website became too onerous so I switched to blogging at the suggestion of one of my gaming buddies in the fall of 2012.

2. If you could change one thing about the wargaming hobby, what would it be?
Mainstream credibility. We are not all kooks playing with toy soldiers.

3. What is best in life?
The satisfaction in knowing that when the die is cast, you have done your best.

4. Do you want to live forever?
I have often quipped that I really need two lifetimes: one to paint and one to game with all of those figures painted!

5. Fame or fortune?
No third choice? I pick Power.

6. What miniatures are you most proud of having painted?
Usually, the last unit completed!

7. How do you deal with burn out?

8. Why is a raven like a writing desk?
Non sequitur

9. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Always been a fan of Shatner's overacting in the Original Star Trek series.

10. If you could only buy from one miniature company from now on, which one would it be?
Purchasing from only one miniatures company suggests that this company must have a large number of varied and complete ranges. Therefore, I choose Wargames Foundry.

11. What is your favourite takeaway?
Rarely succumb to takeaway but if pressed, I would claim sandwiches are number one in frequency.

Which blogs do I, in turn, nominate? For my Elite Nine, in no particular order, I nominate the following worthy-of-a-visit blogs:
Twin Cities Gamer

Here's No Great Matter
Dartfrog's Adventures in 6mm
Blunders on the Danube
JJ's Wargames
Carry on up the Dale
Brushes and Bases
Black Powder Games

Each of these I regularly visit and always look forward to their latest offerings.  The above blogs run the gamut of periods and sizes.  Always something of interest in each of their postings.  Less than 200 followers or not, these are terrific blogs by any measure!

I will change the questions up a bit for my nominees.  The questions are:

1. Why did you start blogging?

2. If you could change one thing about the wargaming hobby, what would it be?

3. Do you read Battle Reports and what makes them inviting to read?

4. Is figure painting a chore or pleasure?

5. Napoleon once was quoted as saying he preferred a general that was lucky over skilled. In gaming, are you lucky or skilled?

6. Could you limit your gaming and collecting to one period and one size? If so, what?

7. How do you deal with burn out?

8. If you could only buy from one miniature company from now on, which one would it be?

Thanks to those who follow my exploits in wargaming.  I appreciate your interest.  As always, comments are welcome.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Wargaming Compendium

Henry Hyde's massive work, The Wargaming Compendium (TWC), arrived in the post this week.  Massive?  Quite.  TWC is 520 pages in length and truly is a compendium detailing our hobby. The book has been lingering in my Amazon Wish List since pre-publication.  Why wait so long?  Since I have been active in wargaming for more than 40 years and wondered what a general wargaming compendium could offer, I was reluctant to "pull the pin" so to speak and make the purchase.  I am not disappointed with that decision.

Production quality of this tome is outstanding.  I have always admired Henry's layout skills and his hand is evident in this work.  Handsomely laid out in a large font (great for aging eyes), the book is filled with color photos of games and models.  Divided into color-coded chapters or sections, the color coded tabs on each page edge make for a quick and clever method for pinpointing a topic of interest.  Photography throughout the book is first rate. Having listened to podcasts of Henry conversing with Neil Shuck on Meeples & Miniatures, I could hear Henry's relaxed, conversational style of speaking as I read.  That connection was quite enjoyable as if Henry was in the room discussing the book with me.

As noted, TWC is compiled into eleven chapters preceded by a Forward from Charles S. Grant and an Introduction from Henry, himself.  The following chapters include:

  1. Basic Concepts of Wargaming       
  2. A History of Wargaming
  3. Choosing a Period
  4. Something to Fight For
  5. Assembling Your Forces
  6. From Small to Large
  7. Shot, Steel, & Stone
  8. Learn by Playing
  9. Other Aspects of Wargaming
  10. Advice for the Digital Age
  11. Resources

These eleven chapters are then followed by a Bibliography, Index, and Afterword.

TWC leads the wargamer or casual reader through a tour de force of wargaming by logically progressing from overviews of the hobby triad of collecting and painting figures, modeling terrain for the tabletop, and playing the game.  For the reader new to the hobby, this book would be an indispensable introduction.  My maturation in the hobby has been founded on a multi-decades, informal education; picking up tidbits of information when I could and much reliance on self-discovery.  Self-discovery to me, is part of the allure to any hobby and especially wargaming.  Prior to the Age of Internet these "discoveries" were much more difficult to uncover. Being a seasoned veteran, with much campaigning behind me, many of the topics are very familiar.  Are there still tidbits be be gleaned from these sections? Of course!  

The History of Wargaming chapter I found particularly enjoyable.  Summarized within are many of the books I have treasured over the last 40 years.  Classics many of them.  Some I have yet to sample.  How would the interested readers know where they are headed unless a solid foundation of where they have been is retold?  This, Henry does well.  Very pleased to see Wesencraft receive more than a passing mention. For me, his works are the classics.  Separate sections on Games Workshop and Black Powder, I could have done without. 

Following the History of Wargaming chapter, the meat of the book is consumed by describing wargames' preparation.  These include very thorough discussions on selecting a period and scale, figure painting, and terrain building.  This three-chapter nucleus forms a solid basis for any newcomer to the hobby.  This hobby foundation takes up over one third of the book.  Quite extensive! 

What would a wargaming compendium be without rules?  I say, incomplete.  TWC includes several rulesets that the reader can use without outlaying any additional cash.  Included are rules for gladiatorial combat and a horse and musket period game.  Given Henry's affection for horse and musket gaming, this is a natural inclusion.  The horse and musket rules, themselves, entitled, "Shot, Steel & Stone" are lavishly illustrated with artwork from the renowned artist, Bob Marrion.  I have several books with Marrion's illustrations and each one is a gem.  The uniforms plates within TWC are no exception.  Beautiful work.

While geared toward the neophyte in our hobby, TWC is a worthy addition to anyone's personal library.  If a similar compendium was available when I came into the hobby many years ago, my wargaming evolution may have been more focused.  "More focused?"  With the number of periods I dabble in, I clearly could have used some focus and direction or maybe not?  

For the variety, depth, and production quality contained herein, TWC is a bargain and destined to become a classic.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Prussian Musketeer Rgt #24

Following the AB Austrian grenadiers off the painting table is a 23 figure battalion from Prussian Musketeer Regiment #24.  This battalion is battalion #1 in the two battalion Prussian regiment.  Battalion #2 was painted earlier using a handful of surplus Essex figures.  

On the painting table now are nearly two dozen Brigade Games' 28mm French infantry.  With weather improving less time has been spent in the depths of the painting/game room and more time spent on the bike.  Perhaps, I can finish the French this weekend?  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Montcalm & Wolfe - Battle for Fort Carillon

French Ready for Attack

When we last checked in with the campaign, the British under Shirley had stolen a march on the French and interrupted the construction of the French fort on Lake Champlain.  Knowing the importance of the fort and in an attempt to restore the balance, Rigaud quickly countered by preparing an attack on the British.
Operational Situation SEP 1755
For the action, Shirley had two militia regiments and one regimental equivalent of rangers.  The French, under Rigaud, brought to battle two regular French regiments and one militia regiment.  Shirley held the fort site which, at this point, only had modest defenses constructed.  With the fort on higher ground, the French would be attacking uphill but would hold a qualitative advantage.  While the area surrounding the fort had been cleared of most vegetation, woods were not far off to the west of the fort site.

Shirley deployed his militia in and around the fort site with the rangers taking up positions in the woods to prevent the French from outflanking the entrenchments.  Having disembarked his men, Rigaud advanced on the British positions from the north and northwest. 
Having little regard for the quality of the enemy opposing him. Rigaud closes on the high ground in serried ranks for a frontal assault.  As the French close, militia musketry disrupts the steadiness of some of the attackers.

Choosing not to waste time with softening up the colonial militia, French regulars attack the defenses
and are quickly thrown back down the hill with casualties.  Cheers from the colonial militia echo against the woods.
Rigaud rallies one unit while other attacks are launched against the breastworks.  The French regulars are determined to press home the assault
with adjacent attacks going in against defenders simultaneously. 

Colonial muskets ring out as the French attackers waver.  Some attackers are turned away through musketry alone while others press on even as casualties mount.  Another French wave of attacks breaks against the entrenchments and the French tumble back down the hill.  Another cheer from the defenders of the crown.
Shirley steadies his militia and awaits the next French assault
as another assault party forms up on the west and north approaches to the British positions.
This time, however, Rigaud, tired of having his assaults checked, halts within short musketry range and pours fire into the defenders.  Success!  Some of the colonial militia have had enough and they fall back to the rear to escape the firefight.
Attaching himself to one of the French regulars, Rigaud guides his troops around the entrenchments in search of a weakly fortified position.
While the French left is turned and infantry are in retreat, Rigaud makes a last attempt to wrest control of the fort from British hands. 
Colonial militia await and brace themselves for the assault that appears imminent.
Under Rigaud's guidance, the regulars are eager to make one more attempt against the fort.
Rigaud's attack is successful in driving the militia back.

Success! But is it too late?  Erupting from the woods, rangers attack the militia holding the French right.  
The militia panic, turn tail, and run.
With the loss of four of his six units and adversaries pressing in on both flanks, Rigaud gives the order to retreat and preserve that which he can.

The battle of Fort Carillon ends with the British in control of the site.  For the French, the loss of battle poses two immediate problems.  One, no fort will be built on this site in September and, two, the remaining French must forage.  Also, one French regiment of regulars was destroyed in the contest.  Rigaud was counting on defeating the colonials so that the construction could be completed and stores could be brought up from which to supply his troops before the onset of winter.  Now, Rigaud will be forced to make his way back to Isle aux Noix for the winter.

Jake was victorious in the role of Shirley while Kevin went down in defeat as the French commander, Rigaud.  The game was resolved using Le Petite Guerre and took only about three hours to play to conclusion.  Thanks to Jake and Kevin for their assistance in resolving the battle.