Monday, January 29, 2018

Archers for 16th Century Japan

Another BMU for the Samurai Battles project musters off the painting desk.  This time, a 19 figure stand of archers is added to the roster.  As before, figures are 15mm Peter Pig.  Note that the archers carry no sashimono.  Peter Pig catalog classifies these archers as Levy Ashigaru.  
Looking back in the Painting Log, this project has reached 37 BMUs including a small handful of command stands.  Having grown much larger than originally anticipated (really, much, much larger) and with less than a dozen packs left in inventory, time to consider winding down the "Build" phase of the project.  One 2018 goal targeted painting the remaining figures in The Lead Pile.  That goal certainly looks achievable. 
Figures for at least three more BMUs remain to muster.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Switzerland: Chateau de Chillon and Montreux

Chateau de Chillon Looking South
An easy half-day excursion from Lausanne (our home base for two nights), is the Chateau de Chillon.  About a 20 minute train ride from Lausanne's central station, the rail line traverses the hilly countryside overlooking Lake Geneva as the train winds its way to the eastern end of the lake and towards Chillon Castle.  Detraining at Veytaux-Chillon, one must cross under the train tracks and walk along the lake to reach the Chateau.  The castle is built upon a rocky island on the eastern end of Lake Geneva.  Beautiful setting.
Chillon with Lake Geneva in background
Inside the Chateau's Gift Shop are models of the Chateau.  A series of models shows the development of the Chateau from Roman fort to Medieval castle.  Impressive models.
Chateau de Chillon Model South Face
Chateau de Chillon Model North Face
Chillon was first established as a Roman outpost to guard the Alpine passes.  Later, under control of the House of Savoy, the Chateau was used as a prison.
Charcoal sketch showing the Crucifixion of Christ
The Cell
Chillon's most famous prisoner was François de Bonivard.  Bonivard, a monk in the prior of St. Victor in Geneva, was imprisoned in 1530 for running afoul of the dukes of Savoy.  Attached to a pillar, the path Bonivard's chain wore as he paced out to the extent of his tether is visible today.
François de Bonivard
Lord Byron spent time at the chateau leaving behind some graffiti; his name carved into a wall.  De Bonivard's story inspired Byron to write, The Prisoner of Chillon.
Chillon Prison 
Armor display
Main Entrance
 On the train back to Lausanne, we hopped off at Montreux for a brief stroll along the Promenade before returning to Lausanne.  Of course, a stop in Montreux is not complete without a visit to the Freddie Mercury memorial.
Montreux Promenade
Freddie Mercury Memorial

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Revell's Sopwith Triplane in 1/72

An occasional aeroplane gets pushed into the production line as a few of these very old kits arrive in-house.  Off the desk, a Revell Sopwith Triplane from a 1975 kit gets added into the fleet.  This kit is from Revell's Collector's Choice series and includes parts to build three variations of the triplane.
Although having a short, operational life, the triplane with "Venetian blind" wings had an impressive rate of climb and maneuverability.  In April 1917, Richtofen claimed the Sopwith Triplane to be the best allied aircraft to date.  

A fun little kit to build and an interesting model to add to the Canvas Eagles' skies.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Arquebusier for 16th Century Japan

The 15mm Samurai Battles project continues to see renewed effort.  After pushing out two stands of spearmen in December, a 19 figure stand of arquebusier departs the painting desk.
This stand of teppo is outfitted with russet-colored, lacquered armor.  Being classified as "Light" troops under Samurai Battles, the stand carries a green block denoting its light status.
Figures are from Peter Pig's excellent Samurai range of figures.  Expect more Feudal Japanese stands to work their way through the painting queue as I attempt paint down this portion of The Lead Pile.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Battle of Mollwitz - Game 2 BatRep

Berlichingen's Cavalry Wing Turning the Prussian Left
After fighting a much closer battle than it looked at first blush in Game #1 (see Dashing Through the Snow), the combatants were reset to their starting positions in anticipation of a rematch.  That awaited rematch occurred one week ago in the first 2018 edition of Friday Night at the Fights.

In the rematch, we switched sides with Jake taking command of the Prussians while I commanded the White Menace.  Having several weeks between games, we both had plenty of time to rethink strategies and prepare for the day of battle.  For Jake's thoughts and strategies on Mollwitz, see Operational Design in Wargaming.

Like Mollwitz Game #1, Game #2 is resolved under the Honours of War (HoW) rules.  With no terrain objectives to target, the object of the battle is the destruction of the opposing army.  In HoW, an army breaks once it loses half of its total number of BMUs.  For the Prussians, Army Break Point is 11 units.  For the Austrians, the Army Break Point is set to 10 units.  Being Prussian, Frederick holds an advantage in both first movement and first fire.

The Battle of Mollwitz, provides a challenging tactical problem for both combatants.  With both Prussians and Austrians deploying in a traditional battle line with infantry in the center and cavalry on each wing, the setup initially looks balanced.  Looks are deceiving!  The Prussian cavalry wings are poorly led and poorly trained while the Austrian cavalry wings are well-led and well-trained.  The infantry lines in the center are the opposite.  That is, the Prussian infantry is well-led and well-trained while their counterparts are poorly led and a bunch of rabble.  With a strong infantry center and weak cavalry wings, the Prussians must close with the Austrian infantry and defeat that body before the Austrians can defeat the weaker Prussian cavalry wings and turn their line. Of course, the White Menace must do the opposite.  Destroy the Prussian cavalry wings before the Austrian musketeer rabble in the center is pushed back onto Mollwitz and exterminated.

With those thoughts in mind, on to the battle.  While the Prussian line holds steady, Romer leaves the Austrian battle line and begins his slow advance through the snow to the Prussian right.  The Austrian hussars move up to screen their infantry from the Prussian 12 pounders.  Both hussars suffer for their bravery.
Initial dispositions with Romer having already moved out of line.
Both sides step off with their infantry lines while the cavalry wings jockey for position.  The poorly trained Austrian hussars suffer enough casualties to force flights to safety behind the advancing musketeers.  The Prussian right is beginning a line refusal in the face of Romer's advancing cavalry.  
Hussars retreat to safety while lines close.
As Romer's cavalry closes with Schulenberg's command and the Austrian line continues its slow march forward, Prussian infantry on the ends of the line wheel in an attempt to bring the Austrian horse under musketry fire.  The Prussian plan works as Romer's cavalry begins taking unnecessary casualties.
Prussian infantry face the Austrian cavalry
Romer's dragoons attack Schulenberg's dragoons.  While the numbers are equal, the Austrians hold the better troop quality.
Clash of the dragoons
The clash proves deadly as the lead dragoons from both sides retreat with heavy casualties.  Heavier casualties for the Prussian dragoons since they scatter after having retreated through their own poorly trained supports.  Prussian muskets drive off one of Romer's cuirassier formations and damage a second. 
Romer wins the first cavalry clash
While Romer continues his attempt to turn the Prussian right, Berlichingen's cavalry on the Austrian right moves to do the same. Prussian guns in the center continue to pound the Austrian line. The leftmost regiment in the Austrian First Line has had enough and retreats back behind the Second Line.  Being poorly trained, the regiment passed through suffers casualties.  
Austrian line falters.
Even as the Prussian right bends in anticipation of Romer's threat, Frederick orders his combined grenadiers to advance through his cavalry to dissuade Romer from charging.  Prussian guns continue wreaking havoc on the weak Austrian line.
Romer tries to turn the Prussian right
Romer's cavalry wing drives the Prussian horse back and catches the Prussian dragoons.  A second Prussian dragoon regiment is destroyed.  Seeing the Prussian right turned, Frederick is being encouraged to plan his escape.  Not yet, he says!
Austrian cavalry destroy a second Prussian dragoon regiment
After destroying the second Prussian dragoon on the Prussian right, Romer finally turns the corner to effectively make his presence felt in the Prussian rear.  Both Prussian flanks are straining under the pressure from Austrian cavalry as Berlichingen's cavalry probes the Prussian left.  Falling under Berlichingen's sword are the Zeiten Hussars of Posadarsky.  If only the Austrian infantry had the capability to sustain an offensive! 
Romer gets into the Prussian backfield
King Frederick has seen enough!  With both cavalry wings turned and Schwerin's encouragements, Frederick abandons the battlefield and turns command over to Schwerin.
King Frederick has seen enough!
Having effectively turned both Prussian flanks, the Austrian cavalry must put the Prussians to flight before the might of the Prussian infantry can come to grips with the Austrian infantry.  Not an easy task since Prussian infantry are knocking huge gaps in what is left of the Austrian line. 
Austrian cavalry in the Prussian backfield
Thinking the time is right to attack the Prussian rear, Romer charges in with two cavalry regiments.  One of the combined grenadiers coolly unleashes a devastating volley into the face of the oncoming cuirassier.  In the following clash, the grenadiers stand their ground and scatter the remaining heavy horsemen.
Cuirassiers vs Grenadiers
In the final act of the battle, Prussian musketeers pour a lethal volley into the few remaining Austrian musketeers.  The musketeers are "Done For" as is the Austrian Army.  A convincing victory for the Prussian Army having lost only three elements in the process of destroying ten Austrian units.
The isolated Austrian infantry are Done For
The second battle of Mollwitz was much more one-sided than Game #1.  While Game #1 saw the Prussians break the Austrian Army while losing eight units themselves, Game #2 saw the Austrian Army break while Frederick lost only three cavalry regiments.  Jake pulled off a much more convincing win as Frederick than did I.

As noted at the beginning of the Battle Report, Mollwitz presents a challenge to both sides.  In retrospect, the Austrians have a much bigger challenge.  While the Austrian cavalry wings are powerful and well-led, the Austrian infantry are all classified as Inferior.  In HoW, that is a big hurdle to overcome. Inferior units have less resolve in both fire and melee and have great difficulty in recovering hits once sustained.  Getting the Austrian infantry beyond the 30cm requirement for rally proved difficult.

With that being the situation, why did I order the Austrian infantry to advance in the face of such adversity?  Well, that is a good question!  My original thought was to advance to pin the Prussian center while my cavalry wings turned the Prussians on both flanks.  If the Prussians continued to advance on Mollwitz, the Austrian line would give ground gradually while trying to minimize Austrian casualties.  Once committed, I found an orderly withdrawal was not possible since an Austrian regiment only seemed capable of sustaining one or two Prussian volleys.

The Austrian hussars were sacrificed with no real purpose.  While they did protect the Austrian infantry briefly, the hussars fell back after only a short encounter with the Prussian guns.  Not only did they fall back quickly but they retreated through the inferior infantry causing casualties to the musketeers they passed through!  Ouch!

After two games, I suggest an Austrian victory is almost out of reach.  Still, a fun evening on the miniature battlefield even in the face of defeat.  Having a number of games under our belts, I see tactics beginning to emerge on the gaming table.  As the number of games increases, our tactics evolve making for more interesting play and more, nail-biting decision points.  HoW rules produce a bloody, decisive, yet interesting game.  HoW should remain in a frequent rotation.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Prone Markers for the SAW

US Dismounted Cavalry
One of the poses present in the Old Glory Spanish-American War skirmishing packs is a prone figure.  When I first began the SAW project using Old Glory figures, I wondered what to do with these figures.  After years of thought, I finally decided to put these prone figures to use as prone markers.  In the jungle and rough terrain of Cuba, formations would likely spend a fair amount of time going to ground especially with deadly rifle fire whizzing overhead.

Since most of the bags of figures purchased are in the advancing pose and not skirmishing, most of the regulars had no accompanying prone figure.  Knowing that Old Glory has fulfilled special requests in the past, I added my special request of a few handfuls of prone figures to a buddy's Old Glory order.  As expected, the order arrived with the bag of prone figures shown below:
Mix of SAW prone figures
Included in the bag are prone figures for Spanish in both uniforms and American infantry.  Should be enough figures to make a sufficient number of markers.  Off the painting desk are three such US dismounted cavalry markers.  Time to put some of the Spanish markers into the painting queue.

Another item included in this latest Old Glory order was the church from the pirate range.  When Jake brought up the box, I was surprised by the size of the church.  It is HUGE.  For scale, a battalion of 28mm Front Rank Portuguese are arrayed in front of the building.
The motivation for getting the church was my Peninsular War Napoleonic project.  Upon further reflection, this fine piece could see service in Cuba, Mexico, and Italy too.  I look forward to giving the church a coat of paint and making it a focal for a Peninsular War battle.  Seems like a long time since the 28mm Napoleonics last saw action on the gaming table.  Time to work them into the schedule.  With a new piece of terrain, it will be hard not to plan an action soon.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Assyrian Wars - Kallapani

Today, something a little different for the Assyrian Wars project.  That is, my take on a mobile missile stand or kallapani.  For Impetvs, the Assyrian Army has an option for one or two kallapani that moves at chariot speed but fights as a dismounted, 'T' missile stand. 
I wrestled with the question of how to represent such a weapon platform.  Should two stands be fielded one for each mode?  In the end, I decided to field one stand for both modes.  The stand contains the kallapani battle cart with mounted bowmen along with a half-dozen dismounted archers.  For me, this combination looks pretty cool on the gaming table. 
Figures are from Wargames Foundry.  Enough figures lurk in The Lead Pile to field a second such mobile artillery platform.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Old Glory Swiss/Italian Crossbowmen

Off the painting desk today is a nine-figure Impetvs 'T' stand of missile troops.  Figures are from Old Glory and muster out as a band of Swiss crossbowmen.
In Impetvs lists, there is always room to squeeze in another unit of crossbowmen.  Good thing, that!  Two more such nine-figures bands remain in The Lead Pile.
Having battled the flu for more than two weeks, the painting production line seems to have stagnated.  Still working on figures at the painting desk but getting these figures to the basing and flocking stage has been a sluggish process at best.  Cold outside temperatures have not helped.

On a brighter note, the first Friday Night At The Fights of 2018 kicks off this evening with a rematch at Mollwitz.  As I take command of the Austrian Army under von Neipperg, let me see if I have learned any lessons taught in Game #1.  The first Mollwitz game was closer than it looked.  Can von Neipperg break Frederick's army before his own is broken?  Stay tuned.   

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

French Infantry for the 1799 Project

After a heavy dose of painting 25mm figures in 2017, the new year begins with figures of the smaller variety.  That is, 18mm Napoleonics for the 1799 project.  Since one of my 2018 goals included getting more 15s across the painting desk, I start the year off on the right foot.  
Off the painting desk are two, 13 figure battalions of early French infantry.  The figures are from Campaign Game Miniatures out of Spain with the exception of the mounted officers who are from AB Miniatures.  The grenadiers are wearing bearskins while all others are in bicorne.  I really like the look of French in bicorne!
Among other items in work at the painting desk, two more battalions of French are winding their through the production line.  It will be a week before the second group of two battalions emerges.  Several units for other projects are in line at the photo booth first.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Project Planning 2018

Time to consult the crystal ball to see what may lay ahead in 2018 for the Palouse Wargaming Journal.

Historical Battles to Fight
While a game (or two) is always out on the gaming table, sights are set on developing four "monumental" historical battles in miniature for 2018.  My thought is to feature one "monumental" battle per quarter spending time to fight each battle more than once before moving on.  Tentatively, the following are under consideration:

2018Q1 - Mollwitz 1741 in 18mm
Mollwitz has already seen one playing in late 2017.  At least one or two more playings expected in 2018.  An account of the first game can be found at Dashing Through the Snow. 

2018Q2 - Albuera 1811 in 18mm
My initial development of the Battle of Albuera scenario was created to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the battle back in 2011.  Albuera provides an interesting and challenging situation for all participants and would make a good group game.  Resource management is particularly important at Albuera.  Albuera is a good sized game for three to five players and provides an opportunity to pull my 18mm "Empire period" Napoleonics from their long period of storage.  Included for reference are two photos from that 2011 game showing initial dispositions. 
Albuera Initial Deployments
Albuera Initial Deployments

2018Q3 - Zorndorf 1758 in 18mm
With the 260th Anniversary of the battle in August 2018, Jake has set one of his 2018 goals as fielding the Russian army for Zorndorf.  That is a great goal.  At the rate units are already mustering off his painting desk, we will see the Russians before the August anniversary.  While I have yet to consult the Prussian OB for Zorndorf, my Prussian army ought to be sufficient without additions.  I may add some Prussian units into the painting queue just for good measure.

2018Q4 - Castiglione 1796 or Rivoli 1797 or Trebbia 1799 in 18mm
To continue momentum on my French Revolutionary War project, one of these three battles would make a good choice to end the year.  While Rivoli has seen action on my gaming table in 2004 (has it really been that long?), the other two have not.  Should I update Rivoli and send the Austrians down the Adige to attack Joubert or give one of the others a test on the field of battle?  With Trebbia, my Russians would get to see their first action.  That might be fun.  Below is a photo from that 2004 Rivoli game:
Rivoli Battlefield

In addition to the monuments detailed above, what other games might see action on the gaming table in 2018?  With my varied interests and collections, many possibilities are on offer.  Will 2018 see the first Great Italian Wars or Assyrian Wars game in action?  Perhaps the Punic Wars or Reconquista will witness a clash or two? 

While the 10mm ACW collection has seen recent maneuvers on the game table under the guidance of Two Flags-One Nation, my own Republic rules have not been out in ages.  Maybe a re-run of either Gettysburg 1863 or Stones River 1862/1863 would be a fun exercise? 

ECW or WWII skirmish?  Both could squeeze into the schedule as could quick, pick up games of Canvas Eagles, Samurai Battles, or Commands & Colors Ancients.  The 28mm Peninsular War collection has not had a run-out in ages.  With a new terrain piece heading my way and destined for the Iberian Peninsula, I am even more motivated to get the collection out on the table.  As always, so many periods, so little time.

Figures to Paint
With all projects in sufficient quantities to field armies for games, there is little pressure to concentrate on any one project to reach that critical, gameable mass.  No new project(s) planned for 2018 either.  Without either of these incentives, the 2018 painting goal ought to be something more pragmatic.  As a step towards pragmatism, the 2018 goal is to make a dent in The Lead Pile by buying less than I paint.  A painted figure goal of 900 seems reasonable. 

To reduce The Lead Pile, effort should lean towards the 15/18mm category since 2017 saw most painting activity in the 25/28mm size.  To aim towards that objective, the 1799, 1859, SYW, and Feudal Japan projects should see renewed activity.  With moderate effort, the inventory of the Peter Pig Samurai figures in inventory could be brought down to near zero.  If enough progress is made on the 1859 project to field French, perhaps, a start on a small Prussian army for either 1866 or 1870 could be contemplated?  Does starting a new Prussian army for either the 1866 or 1870 conflicts count as a new project or an expansion of the existing 1859 project?

While focus may be on the 15/18mm side of the ledger in 2018, expect to see a steady stream of 25/28mm units winding their way through the painting queue too.  Plenty in The Lead Pile to muster large numbers of Assyrian Wars, Reconquista, Peninsular War, Great Italian Wars, Punic Wars, or ECW units.  Writing out these lists reminds me that a recent influx of ECW lead arrived in-house.  Adding in a TYW lead gift received earlier in the year, perhaps the 30mm ECW project ought to see renewed interest at the painting desk?   

Scenarios to Design and Development
Scenario research, design and development are rewarding aspects of the hobby.  To that end, scenarios are needed for Zorndorf (HoW) and Castiglione/Rivoli/Trebbia (Wars of Coalition).  The scenario for Albuera may also require some attention and last minute refinements.  Finally, having built a scenario for Norm's Two Flags - One Nation rules in 2017, two more scenarios are under consideration.   

Rules to Design, Develop, Test
After playing Risorgimento 1859 and Wars of Coalition from QRS' exclusively for a couple of years now, 2018 may finally be the appropriate time to begin codifying the rules into a coherent body of text. The nucleus of game engine for these rules began as a heavily modified version of Whitehouse's Ironsides and Old Trousers.  Today, Howard's originals would barely be recognizable.

Finally, Impetvs on Grid has been drawing my attention again.  Plans to push forward with rules for Feudal Japan on a grid are back at the fore.

Solo Wargaming
Of course!

Boardgames to Explore
Recently, feelings of nostalgia towards my early wargaming roots have surfaced.  That is, board wargaming.  From playing SPI's Borodino in the early 1970s on a card table against my grandmother (!) there has always been a spot at the table for the "hex and counter" board wargames.  Yeah, that is right, "grandmother."  She played a pretty good game too and was a rules' stickler.

Part of my boardgaming Renaissance is due to the acquisition of a number of old, out of print titles as well as some new releases.  Some of the OOP titles were games I had in the past and recall fondly.  Others are games only recently discovered.  Another cause for this renewed interest is actually getting some of these games to the table and rediscovering their value and enjoyment.  Thoughts of using a boardgame as a campaign generator for table top battles is always in mind.

In 2018, I would enjoy increasing the time spent peering over the maps and counters of the list set forth below.  Note, most of the items on my Wish List are series games to hopefully reduce the inevitable learning (or relearning) curves.  While many may not make it out onto the gaming table in 2018, one from each group would be a success. My top picks to see action are listed below: 

Borg's Commands & Colors (and derivatives)
Borg's series is one of my favorite "set 'em up quickly and finish in an hour" games.  The guys I often game with enjoy these series as well.  A game of C&C is rarely dismissed on game night and a quick pick-up game is never more than  a few minutes away.

Resch's 1914 Series including 1914 Offensive a outrance via VASSAL
I became interested in WWI via the Serbian front following my reading of an excellent history of the conflict and Dan Carlin's commendable series Blueprint for Armegeddon.  Picking up Serbien muss sterbien to help in following and studying the campaign, the game system intrigued me.  My initial thought was that even though the counter density of SmS was low, the system was of a complexity that I hesitated to tackle.  Luckily, a fellow blogger was also interested in the 1914 system and suggested we tackle the introductory scenario in 1914 Offensive a outrance and put the system to test.  Through this first scenario via VASSAL, we both are learning system basics.  After completing the intro scenario, we may decide to carry on to one of the regular scenarios.

Dalgliesh's Combat Infantry
I received a copy of CI as a Christmas gift from Scott.  This is the first block game from Columbia Games to hit my shelves.  Unfamiliar with these, I would enjoy giving this system a try in 2018. 

Essig's Operational Combat Series including Tunisia II
One of my favorite series from one of my favorite game designers of all time.  After a long hiatus from playing OCS, I brought Tunisia II out under the Plexiglas at the end of 2017.  Would enjoy relearning and honing my skills in these classic, WWII operational games.  Games via VASSAL or FtF are preferred but even solo study is a good alternative.

MMP's Advanced Squad Leader (ASL)
I recently bought a copy of ASL Start Kit #1 as a means to reintroduce myself to the old AH classic Squad Leader and its offspring ASL.

Critical Hits' Advanced Tobruk System (ATS)Another remake of one of my first wargames from the mid-1970s.  Would enjoy dabbling in this one as a comparison of design engines between ASL and ATS.

Bey's Jours de Gloire series including Fuentes de Onoro
This series of Vae Victis games has been in the collection for a number of years.  While I have pulled them off the shelf, set up a scenario or two and attempted to push a few counters, I have never gotten too far.  Perhaps 2018 is the year I make a more determined attempt?

For blog updates, the last three years have seen post frequency hanging onto the 140-150 annual publication rate. Averaging two-three posts per week is a rate that seems comfortable to maintain and will be the 2018 goal too.  
Expect wargaming topics to be broken up by my occasional ramblings on the cycling around the Palouse and travels around the world.

Besides writing blog posts, the photo gallery could use work.  The gallery for the 28mm Reconquista collection is horribly out of date.  To ensure photo consistency, I plan to rephotograph the whole collection.  While updating the Reconquista collection, I would like to add two new galleries to catalog the 28mm Peninsular War and Great Italian Wars collections.  All three of these tasks will take some effort to complete.

If half of these goals come to pass in 2018, I will be satisfied with the effort.  Regardless of outcome, the journey will be interesting and entertaining as always.  With so much on the plate for 2018, perhaps, this should be part of a three-year project plan?