Monday, July 31, 2017

Blow Gun Darts as Spears/Pikes?

Blow Gun Darts
My wife knows that when we make a trip to the hardware store, only part of the trip will be devoted to shopping for household improvement items.  Almost always, a reconnaissance for items to be pressed into service on the hobby front is included in the shopping trip.

While this post is not about a recent hardware recon, it is about maintaining vigilance for items that can be useful in the never ending pursuit of hobby paraphernalia.  Case in point is a recent thread on TMP requesting information on sources for spears and pikes.  As an alternative to Nortstar's excellent product, blow gun darts were mentioned.  What?  Blow gun darts?  That piqued my curiosity.
50 pack darts
A quick search on eBay brought up a number of vendors for steel blow gun darts.  For about USD8 including free shipping, I ordered a 50 dart package as a trial.  The package arrived within days as shown above.  

First task was to compare the size of the Predator darts with Northstar.  As shown in the comparison photo below, the Predator darts are almost exactly the same size as the Northstar 100mm pikes but slight less in length than the Northstar spears.  Insignificant difference.  The gauge of steel looks the same size as well.  A good match!
In addition to the 50 steel darts, included are 50 colored cones for the darts.  Well!  These colored cones are an interesting bonus.  I can envision these colored cones being pressed into service as morale markers, unit status markers, or any of a number of game markers.  Great stuff!
In what other game functions could these colored cones prove useful?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Return of Canvas Eagles?

During the last meeting to decide the fate of two empires on the battlefield at Kolin (see Kolin II), standard game kibitzing turned towards discussing other game genres to consider.  One proposal was WWI aerial combat.  After several nods of agreement, I mentioned that many years ago I occasionally played Canvas Eagles using 1/72nd scale models.  When asked if I had any models, I responded that, yes, I did.  

Eric Hotz' Canvas Eagles is a terrific game of WWI air combat.  The game is played on a hex mat using any scale of models and hex sizes.  Movement is pre-plotted and simultaneous.  The game is well supported with aircraft stat cards for most aircraft of the period.  Aircraft statistics are bifurcated between early and late war configurations.   
My collection of planes has been stored somewhat haphazardly in a plastic box for more than a dozen years.  Checking the Paining Log, the last model completed was in 2005 and I know the planes had not seen the game table for several years before that.  That is a long time to be unused and laying in storage.

Between being stored without the greatest of care and frequent shuffling in storage, I was hesitant to pull the box from the shelf to assess damage.  Now, I recalled that a few planes had already been damaged from an unfortunate mishap with the dog before I put them into their storage box.  What would their condition be after all of these years? 
A nice mix of models
While I had a vague notion of the number of aircraft in the box, I could not quite remember exactly what was present and more importantly what condition I would find the aircraft.  Upon opening the box and sorting through the models and debris, the plane count came to fifteen.  Several had broken landing gear but were repairable, a few had decals peeling off, one was damaged requiring significant repair(I may tackle this one later), and one was destroyed beyond repair.  Of the fifteen models found, thirteen could be repaired and put into service.
Models on their flight stands over the Battle Masters' mat
For play aids, a game mat with hexes and flight stands were needed.  I dug up the vinyl hex mat I once used and the homemade, telescoping flight stands.  The vinyl hex map is a game map confiscated long ago from my son's Battle Masters game from the early 1990s.  I do not recall playing the Battle Masters game more than a few times with him but the hex mat has seen much more service.  The mat does not quite look like the trenches of Europe during the conflict of The Great War but it works for my purposes.  Being vinyl, it is easy to store and resistant to spillage.  It is large too.
Models on their flight stands over the Battle Masters' mat
Besides the mat and flight stands, two unmade models were also found.  I may need to put a plane into the painting queue if only to rekindle the past fun of this long forgotten project.

Since none of my game buddies have any experience with Canvas Eagles or WWI aerial combat, I look forward to giving each a chance to earn his wings in the airspace over the Western Front.  Don't be surprised if a game of Canvas Eagles hits the table soon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Assyrian Auxiliary Spearmen I

Back to building an Assyrian Army.  Today's recruits are a dozen auxiliary infantry from Wargames Foundry.  Based more loosely than the earlier heavy infantry, this stand should work well as an FL classed stand under Impetvs.
These troops were given a mix of tunics and shield coverings to signify their less regimented nature.  Great figures!  A second stand is in work.
Returning from an eye exam this evening, I sat down to snap a few photos of this unit.  Unfortunately, with my eyes still suffering from the effects of dilation, the photos looked blurry.  Right now, everything looks a bit blurry!  If the photos are indeed blurry (well, more blurry than usual), I apologize but may not recognize that fact until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kolin-oscopy - A Battle Re-examined

With another refight of the Battle of Kolin in the books on July 15, time for an account of the game.

Rather than allow Frederick to shift his artillery and cavalry before the opening salvos were heard as in Kolin I, deployments stuck to the historical situation.  Any Prussian changes in plan would have to be implemented once the battle commenced. 
Initial Dispositions
As a reminder of the battle and the earlier BatRep, scenario and battle prep can be found at Kolin 260th Anniversary Edition.  The prior Honours of War post-game analysis can be found at Kolin Post Game Analysis.

This battle saw the same participants playing the same commands as in Kolin I.  Kevin, wanting to avenge his earlier loss as Frederick, took command of the Prussians with Scott as his second.  Jake took on the role of Daun.

The battle began similarly to Kolin I with an artillery duel all along the front and a cavalry clash on the Prussian left.  Frederick, not content to mass all of his cavalry on the right in this game, pulls all of Pennavaire's heavy cavalry off the right flank and begins movement towards the center.  Pennavaire's cavalry in the center are ordered to support Zieten on the left flank.  Only one of the Prussian cavalry ordered to support Zieten sets into motion.
Frederick shifts left
Almost immediately, Zieten's light cavalry on the Prussian left attack Nadazdy.  Nadazdy's hussars, although inferior, countercharge.  Both hussar units clash and then break off.  One of Nadazdy's units is destroyed in the retreat.  Despite losing hussars, Daun senses opportunity.  Wanting to catch the Prussian hussars at a disadvantage before they can recover from their recent clash, the Saxon chevauleger, moving up through the Oak Wood, smash into the lead Prussian hussars.
Saxon's charge Zieten's wavering hussars
In the melee, both combatants fight to exhaustion and scatter.  Is that the result for which Daun planned?  Austrian combined grenadiers move up to support Krechor.  Pennavaire continues his redeployment of the heavy cavalry wing.  To where is Pennavaire redeploying?   With one hussar formation destroyed and the second reforming, Zieten awaits support from Pennavaire's detached cavalry.  Still, only one formation makes its way towards Zieten.
Pennavaire moves to the center
 while light cavalry clash in the fore
Artillery counterbattery bombardments are taking their toll on opposing guns.  A number of guns fall silent.  Some are forced to limber and withdraw.  Tresckow's Prussian musketeers move up to challenge and eventually throw out the Croats defending the center village.
Croats dislodged from central village
With the central village abandoned, only a 3-lb battery holds the walls of the outer village.  Becoming the main target of Prussian musketry and artillery, the Grenz 3-lb gun limbers up and moves away before being destroyed where it was emplaced.
Prussian center presses in
Frederick, having committed Pennavaire to a central approach, provides an opportunity to Austrian general Burgholzhausen on the Austrian left.  With support from Graf zu Wied's musketeers, the Austrian left steps off down from the heights.  
Frederick stacking the center
Counterbattery fire continues hotly with a number of guns either silenced or destroyed.  With musketeers leading the way, Frederick plans to break the Austrian center with deep columns of Pennavaire's cavalry.  
Pennavaire forms up in support
With Serbelloni's Austrian heavy horse taking up position on the Austrian right, a breakthrough by Zieten will be a difficult proposition.  While Prussians mass in the center of the battlefield, Austrians begin to turn the Prussian right. 
Austrians come down from the heights
Central village captured!
Prussian center masses for attack
Under increasing pressure on the Prussian right, Frederick orders an all out assault on the central heights.  With musketeers leading the charge on the left and grenadiers on the right, Frederick's masses clamber up the heights. 
Give them cold steel!
In the distance, Austrians advance onto the plain, pressuring the Prussian right.  Musketry is exchanged as the Austrians close in on the Prussian right.  Frederick narrowly escapes injury or capture.  This close call shakes the King's nerve as his line of communications is threatened.
Prussian center attack from afar
Blasted by artillery on the slog up the hill, the musketeers on the left take severe casualties on the approach.  Even before the Prussian musketeers can close with the awaiting enemy, Austrian musketry causes the unit to dissolve.  In the process, several Prussian cavalry units are swept up in the destruction of the musketeers. 
Down to the grenadiers!
Outnumbered and outgunned, the grenadiers fare no better than their compatriots.  Taken with close range musketry, the grenadiers are staggered and forced to retreat back down the hill.

Seeing his best chance of breaching the Austrian position disintegrate as his right collapses, Frederick calls off the attack and prepares to withdraw upon his line of communications.
King of Prussia and Moritz distraught following the battle
The Butcher's Bill
Another challenging but enjoyable game for the Prussians.  Different Prussian tactic than the previous game but the same outcome; reamed.  Again, artillery played a big role in disrupting enemy formations.  Counterbattery fire was particularly effective for both sides.  Few guns remained on the battlefield undamaged.  With the Austrians now 4-0 at Kolin, does Frederick have a chance at a whiff of victory? 

Not deterred, Frederick wants another chance at solving the puzzle that is Kolin.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Spanish Archers for the Reconquista

Units for the 28mm Reconquista project keep trickling from the painting desk.  A slow but steady approach can yield big dividends over time.  In 2017, for example, these archers mark the seventh Reconquista stand to make it off the paint table.  With an average completion rate of one stand per month, a project can grow stealthily without much effort.  What takes effort is getting the troops to the table for a game! 
In the discussion following the Kolin game last week, talk turned towards bringing some of the collections to the game table for an outing.  One such project was the Reconquista.  I am fairly certain that the collection has seen action on the table one time only.  Jake added that it was three or four years ago.  Three of four years?  Where does the time go? 
This nine-figure stand of archers is composed of BTD 28mm figures.  As always, great figures on which to lay on the paint.  Still plenty of Reconquista lead in The Lead Pile.  A stand's worth of Arab spearmen are awaiting next in the painting queue for this project.  First, though, more Assyrians are up next.  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Trio of Stradiots

The combination of work, good cycling weather, and other pulls on my time has meant meaningful painting sessions have been few this week (and last week too).  What is considered a "meaningful" painting session?  I say a minimum of thirty minutes is needed to get enough  accomplished to make a session worthwhile.  Still, two units managed to make it off the painting desk.  The first of those units is a trio of Perry Miniatures' Stradiots for the 28mm Great Italian Wars project.
This is the third such stand of Perry Stradiots to cross the painting desk for this project.  The first two carried crossbow.  This time, the unit is armed with lance.  Rather than replace the provided soft metal lance with a steel Northstar lance as SOP,  I maintained the Perry-provided lance.  It is thicker than steel lances and not as resilient to abuse.  We will see how the lances hold up on the gaming table.  With the project yet to see action in battle, this worry may be moot.
Table is silent for now
In other happenings on the hobby front, the guys are joining me later this morning for a refight of our most recent battle of Kolin (see Kolin Post-Game Analysis and Kolin Battle Prep).  Following my post-game ramblings, Frederick the Great was energized to give the battle a second attempt.  Will pre-battle planning change from the first outing?  We will see in a few hours' time.  Rules will again be Honours of War.  A solo refight was planned but having active participants will be much more enjoyable.

Finding that the stock QRS provided in the back of the rules booklet did not contain all of the information and memory triggers needed for actual play, I spent part of the week creating a new QRS.  With the additional information added, fewer trips to the rulebook should be needed.  Also incorporated into the QRS are the 11JUL2016 Amendments and Clarifications.  Some of the amendments are significant and move the rules in a positive direction by addressing a few issues discovered in our first few playings of the game. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Two Flags - One Nation: BatRep

Face-off at Mill Creek
Having been following Norm Smith's progress of his grid-based, ACW game, Two Flags - One Nation rules on his Battlefields & Warriors blog, I finally took the plunge and downloaded his latest edition (JUN2017).

Even though Norm provides the rules freely, "free" is no indication of the quality of the writing, layout, or game play.  First rate effort loaded with helpful diagrams and descriptions.  

After having read through the rules and making annotations as I went, Norm quickly provided answers to questions raised.  With those clarifications settled, I set up my hex mat used for Commands & Colors: Ancients, pulled out my 10mm ACW collection, and deployed figures to refight Norm's introductory game of Action at Mill Creek.  Now, mistakes were made in my initial game.  Nevertheless, the game was enjoyable and game play subtlety surfaced early on.  None of the mistakes likely materially effected the outcome and errors were probably made equally for both combatants.  The exercise provided a good, first glance, understanding of the game mechanisms.   

This posting is not a rule review since that requires more than one game to allow the system and proper tactics to evolve in my mind.  What follows, then, is my stumbling through my first game of Two Flags - One Nation.

At start, the Federals have free deployment on the north side of the creek while the Rebels begin off board.
10:00: Confederates march onto the battlefield in line.  The chit labeled 'A' denotes a unit with smoothbore muskets.  All other units carry rifled muskets.  Weapons are randomly assigned for each regiment before play begins.  Federals remain silent as the enemy is beyond range.
10:12: Confederates roll an event of "Confused."  One unit is Out of Command denoted by yellow ball.  Not off to a coordinated start for the Rebels.  Remainder of Confederate command advances on Federal positions.  Federal guns on heights take a shot and score one hit.  Reb unit passes its Cohesion Test (CT). 

10:24: Notice that the turn interval has been 12 minutes for the first two turns.  Purely coincidence.  Turn duration has a fixed and random component.  An interesting design twist, I think.

Reb artillery fires on Federal positions to no effect as one regiment wades into the creek in an attempt to outflank the Federal right.  Federals roll an "Adjust Line" event and artillery continues to pound the center Rebel unit.  The Reb regiment suffers two more hits but continues to hold its ground.
10:36:  Event "Inspiring Federal Leadership" drawn.  With no casualties, no effect.  Rebel artillery targets drives the defending Federal regiment back from the creek and into the woods.  The unit falls back one hex in disorder having suffered one hit.  It will remain disordered for 15 minutes.  Confederates splash into the creek near the bridge.
Schenk rides over to join the disordered Federal regiment hunkered down in the woods as Federal fire erupts from the woods causing two hits on the approaching Rebel regiment.  The Rebel regiment in the creek takes three hits but passes its CT.  On the Rebel far right, a regiment takes three hits first from artillery and then from musketry.

10:49: Feds roll "Confused Order" and the Confederate player chooses to move the Federal guns back from the military crest of the hill.  Not sure manhandling the Federal gun is allowed in "Confused Order" but I figured it best to get those guns off line for awhile. 
Rebel artillery continues pounding the disordered regiment in the woods as a Rebel infantry regiment prepares to attack.  The artillery causes one more hit and the Federal regiment's disorder duration is extended to 11:01.
Two Rebel assaults:
In the assault against the Federals in the woods, the Federals suffer one more hit while the Rebels suffer none.  The cover offered by the woods held the Federal casualties to only one when three could have been inflicted in the open.
In the assault across the creek, Rebels suffer one hit from fire bringing the casualty count to four.  In the close assault, the Rebels take three more hits while the Federals suffer two. The Confederate Brigadier is killed in the close combat.
With the loss of their leader, the Confederate brigade becomes shaken.  Having manhandled the guns back into a suitable firing position, Federal infantry come down from the heights to confront the weakening enemy.
In the post combat CT, the Rebs in the stream fail their check, take one more hit and are dispersed having sustained a total of eight hits. 
11:07: Reb artillery targets the regiment near the bridge and inflicts two hits. Seeing the Federals at four hits, the Confederates charge.  The defender fails his CT becoming disordered but holds his ground. 
In the close combat, the Rebs take one hit to the Federals three.  The Federal regiment is on the verge of collapse with seven hits. 

While the Federal regiment holds on by its fingertips, the Rebs fail their CT and fall back taking one more hit.
Rebs on the north bank of the creek come under heavy fire, taking three hits.  They retire to join their supporting comrades.
11:22: Having sustained heavy casualties in the advance and ensuing clash with the Federals defending the stream, Confederate BG Elzey calls off the attack as Federal reinforcements are flowing towards the bridge to shore up the Federal center.  With little chance of breaking through with additional assaults, BG Elzey makes a reasoned choice.
That was a fun, interesting, and tense little game fought in tight quarters!  With a small battlefield and less than ten units per side, every unit's performance was important.  The Confederates took too many casualties on closing and while it looked like the Federal right flank might collapse, it held.  Coupled with punishment taken by the Confederate center and right, little chance of success when game was declared a Federal victory.

To better plan and familiarize myself for my next game, work on a QRS is in progress.  During this first game, I found myself thumbing through the rules in search of answers. Norm provides a functional QRS but it helps solidify game concepts to build a QRS myself.

Nifty game that I will return to again.  I wonder if more prepared ACW scenarios exist?  Norm?