Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sardinian Line Regiment #7

With a refight of San Martino on the horizon, Sardinians are being rallied to the colors.  First off the workbench is a 48-figure, four battalion regiment of Sardinian infantry.  Figures are from the very animated and slightly chaotic range of Old Glory/19th Century Miniatures.  The figures are chaotic in the sense that there are so many poses, positioning a dozen figures onto a 60mm x 30mm base requires a bit of contortion.
While the gaming table has been laid bare from the series of Renaissance battles, maps have been pulled and study begins on setting up San Martino.  San Martino was fought six years ago on the table (see Battle of San Martino) and ended in a hard-fought battle.  This northern end of the more well-known Solferino battle marks one of the 2019 anniversary battles penciled onto the calendar at the beginning of the year.

This version will be slightly different from the first playing six years ago.  The scope of the battle will be expanded to consider some of the broader aspects of that battle rather than a pure focus on the heated action at San Martino, itself.  Terrain is being placed to reflect the ground and help formulate battle plans.  Will the French make an appearance from the direction of Castiglione?  Perhaps.  With the potential for the enemy appearing in a flanking position, Benedek may have to consider such a possibility in his plan of battle or risk having his line of communications cut. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Commands & Colors: Medieval

GMT Games recently began shipping the latest addition in Richard Borg's Commands & Color stable.  That game is Commands & Colors MEDIEVAL.  Kevin, a big aficionado of the CC system, had MEDIEVAL on pre-order so was one of the first to receive his package late in the week.  Anxious to give this new treatment our treatment, he quickly stickered the blocks and deployed forces for a game to set our first impressions.  

Arriving for a Friday afternoon gaming session, Kevin had the game set up and ready to go.  The battle to tackle today was the first scenario featuring the Battle of Utus, 447CE.  Utus pits the Byzantine Empire against Attila the Hun.  Utus is a large battle with victory determined by the first player to take nine banners.  I am not sure if I have ever played a game requiring nine banners for a win.

Having read through the rules beforehand, Kevin provided a rules' introduction, review of the QRSs, and a battle synopsis.  Kevin opted to play the Romans.  First a word about the rules. 

MEDIEVAL seems to be heavily reliant on its ANCIENTS predecessor.  Many of the rules, herein, would be recognizable to those familiar with ANCIENTS.  There are some important distinctions, though.  A few of those important changes follow:
  • Heavy Infantry has been downgraded.  Rather than fighting with five dice, heavy infantry now fight with four.
  • Cavalry has been upgraded.  Rather than three blocks per cavalry unit in ANCIENTS, cavalry in MEDIEVAL has four blocks.
  • A lot of bow-armed cavalry has the ability to fire during an evade move and throw two dice in their withdrawal.  This represents the Parthian Shot.
  • Leader tactical options are expanded.  In addition to the commands on the cards, leaders have the ability to play Inspired Leadership Actions through the play of an Inspired Action token.  These actions vary dependent upon army.  Leaders may also spend an Inspired Action token to affect the outcome of battle.  These include, Move a Leader, Battle Bonus (+1 in Close Combat), and Bravery (ignore one flag).
How does the game play?  Well, we managed three games in a short afternoon session so it still plays quickly.  With heavy infantry receiving a downgrade and cavalry receiving an upgrade, cavalry becomes a powerful weapon in defeating the enemy.  As in ANCIENTS, units to not degrade in capability with the loss of blocks as they do in NAPOLEONICS.  A unit with one block remaining is still as deadly as a block at full strength.

In Game 1, the Huns softened up the Romans with a combination of ranged missile and probing attacks.  Once suitably softened, a series of deadly attacks were launched against the Romans.  Great swaths of Romans fell under the hooves of the Hun cavalry.  Victory to Attila 9 Banners to 2 Banners. 

In Game 2, Kevin opted to stick with commanding the Romans while I reset the Huns for a rematch.  Attila used the same tactic and ended up with the same result.  That  is 9-2 Attila.

Game 3, saw Kevin determined to bring the might of the Byzantine Army to bear in a rematch against the Huns.  While marginally more successful, the Huns still dominated the battlefield with a 9-3 victory.  Three games to the Huns!
Game 3: The end of the Byzantine Army (in blue)
The trio of games was really good fun and the margin of victory decisive.  Good to see much of the rules and tactics learned in ANCIENTS present in MEDIEVAL.  A few twists but the core rules are still recognizable.  We did not employ the Inspired Leadership Actions until Game 3.  I bet we see these played more frequently in following games. 

Thanks to Kevin for hosting and being a good sport in defeat.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Cycling the Palouse

Spring is in full swing on the Palouse.  Temperatures and cycling mileage outdoors are on the rise.  Last week, I managed to make it out for three post-work rides and two on the weekend.  On the remaining days, cycling was confined to the indoor trainer. While mileage is up, winter weight gain has yet to begin to fall.  Once temperatures creep back into the 70s F with regularity, the extra weight will begin to fall away.    
Out on the Palouse
When riding to the south, the activity always begins with a decent after the first mile.  The house is situated at the edge of the city on a bluff about 600 feet above Spokane and the valley, proper.  The significance of this location means that in any direction I head, the ride includes a drop off the bluff on the way out and then a climb back up onto the bluff on the return.  In the heat of summer, the climb back up onto the bluff can be a real sweat-dripping slog after a long, hot ride.  

Several ways present themselves for climbing back up onto the bluff on the way home.  The shortest and most violent approach I chose today. Quite steep in places with an unrelenting incline.  Few places to relax on the way to the top.  Traffic is a bit heavier on this approach in the afternoon but visibility is good and my slow ascent allows plenty of time to be identified and avoided.
Climb begins
Climb continues
and continues
Once back on top of the bluff, the view down into the valley below is spectacular.  The small arrow in the center of the photo just below the horizon is the road over which I traversed to get back into the city.  From these heights, the cars on the highway below are but a speck.  Once to this point on the bluff, it is but an easy, sometimes undulating five miles back to the house.  Miles logged today: 25.
View to the valley below

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bavarian Preysing Musketeer Rgt Bn 2

Following up on my recent recollections of Regensburg and Bavaria, it may be of little surprise that the second battalion of Bavarian Regiment Preysing would be following along soon.  Today, the second battalion musters off the workbench to join its sister battalion.  Preysing IR is now complete.
Also of no surprise is that Battalion 2 is composed of Lancashire Games' figures just like the first battalion.  Musketeers are Lancashire Games with an Eureka mounted officer.  As I noted before, these Lancashire ersatz Bavarians (recruited from good Austrian stock) are superb figures and quite fun to paint.  Perhaps, it is unfortunate that the Bavarians only fielded 17 battalions of infantry during the Seven Years War.  Given the propensity to fight SYW battles using Honours of War at the scale of one BMU equates to one regiment, only eight such units will be needed to field the entire Bavarian infantry.  Still, with only three BMUs finished, still plenty of work remains before the collection reaches this point. 
Preysing Battalion 2 may be that last to be seen on the SYW front for now.  Other projects are vying for attention and pushing further SYW expansion down into the queue.  Foremost is an interest in adding to the 1859 project where several regiments are in work.

With thoughts of fighting the 1859 Battle of San Martino, units destined for this war are muscling their way into the production line.  Following a regiment of French infantry seen a week ago, the next of these reinforcements will be a 48 figure Sardinian infantry regiment.  Expect another French regiment soon.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Stroll Around Regensburg

Gate protecting the Steinbrucke across the Danube
One of the destinations in our Bavaria-Tirol travels in May 2018, was the city of Regensburg.  After departing Munich, the direct train to Regensburg was chosen as the means to reach the Medieval city.  Regensburg?  That was Nancy's question to me too when the itinerary was in the planning stage.  Scheduled midway through our holiday, Regensburg offered a chance to relax a bit before traveling on to Salzburg and Zurich.  I sold the stop as a chance to see a Medieval German city that averted destruction during WWII.  With her interest in ancient cathedrals, Regensburg was not a tough sell.  We would remain within the walled, old town.  Adding in the enjoyment of walking along the Danube and through the meandering, Medieval streets, two nights in Regensburg was really an easy decision.      
Old Stone Bridge across the Danube
Besides a cultural center, Regensburg (Ratisbon) played an important role at the beginning of Napoleon's 1809 campaign.  Perhaps, this historical tie provided the motivation on my part for the visit?  It was during the fourth attempt at storming Regensburg's Medieval walls that Lannes grabbed a scaling ladder prepared to lead the assault before being restrained by his aides.  The French attackers carried the walls on this fourth attempt.  Napoleon received a spent cannon ball to the ankle while watching this event.      
City plan for Regensburg
Following the battles of Abensberg and Eckmuhl, Napoleon used Regensburg as his residence and headquarters for a few days.  The building below displays a plague commemorating Napoleon's stay. 

Napoleon was here
Parts of Medieval Regensburg are still intact including the Medieval walls and gates.  The East Gate has become a major thoroughfare through the city. 
Regensburg still clings to an earlier time when Romans built and maintained an outpost on the banks of the Danube.  Elements of the Roman Porta Praetoria can be seen today along the narrow streets near the river's edge. 
Porta Praetoria
Porta Praetoria
Porta Praetoria
What about the churches and cathedral?  There are many worthy of a stop with St. Peter's Cathedral being one of the most impressive.  
St. Peter's Cathedral
St. Peter's dominates cityscape
Interior Niedermunster
Interior Niedermunster
Interior St. Emmeram's Basilica
Interior St. Emmeram's Basilica

Of course, being on the Danube, Regensburg is a popular stop for Danube River cruises.  These low-profile ships are seen frequently.  To pass under the arches of the Old Stone Bridge they must be low profile.  Perhaps, a Danube River cruise would be a fun escape? 
Regensburg is a beautiful city with much to offer to the traveler.  Time spent here is time well-spent.  I recommend it.  Regensburg was not the sole focus of my attention during the two night stay.  Early on the second morning, I boarded a local train and headed off for a quick battlefield walk while Nancy remained in town.  With a number of battlefields within reach, which did I choose?  That military-themed exploration is left for another time.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

More BTD Celts/Gauls

A slow but steady stream of Celts continues to emerge from the painting desk.  The recent painting process seems to include a Celtic/Gallic warband for every four or five other units painted.  This measured pace will not allow fielding of a Celtic force quickly but it does keep units working through the painting queue.  Figures are from Black Tree Design.  
Only a dozen BTD Celts remain in The Lead Pile; just enough to field one more warband.  After the BTD supply is exhausted, attention can turn towards a large box containing a number of packs of Crusader Celts I picked up from a recent clearance at North Star Miniatures.  My long range intention is to muster enough Celts to refight the Battle of Telamon.  With each recent issue of Slingshot containing a report or two from the 2019 Battle Day featuring Telamon, my interest in refighting this battle increases.  Given my preoccupation to mustering out units of Celts, the Roman contingent has been neglected.  Soon, I must assess my capability of fielding the Romans for this battle.  With luck, enough Romans have already been called up that no additional units need thrown into the painting queue.    

In other news, I received an email from Chris at Sash & Saber saying my 28mm FIW Kickstarter shipped yesterday.  Looking forward to seeing the figures and buildings in a few days.  

Monday, May 13, 2019

CCN: Assaye 1803

Initial deployments
Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (CCN).  That was the system on the docket for the Saturday gaming session.  Not your run-of-the-mill CNN, either.  Saturday's battles would feature the 1803 Battle of Assaye during the Second Anglo-Maratha War in India.  To me, an unknown battle during an unknown war.  Arthur Wellesley and elements of the East India Company confront the artillery heavy Maratha force under the command of Anthony Pohlmann.  On the battlefield, the river on the Maratha right is only fordable near the two villages where the British cavalry are initially deployed.  To bring these four cavalry units into the main battle arena, the British cavalry holding the ford must first be driven off.  Not an easy task since the Maratha irregular horse hold many disadvantages.  First player to gain six banners wins.    

The battle was not the only unusual aspect of this fight.  Kevin commissioned artwork and stickers to create his own module for CCN.  Besides the usual mix of British blocks, fielded in today's battles were native infantry (Sepoys and Maratha), irregular cavalry for the Maratha, and native artillery.  No need to use ersatz troops for this match-up.  All of the appropriate units are on the table using Kevin's custom-made blocks.  An unusual but interesting force to deploy.

Now, Scott and Kevin fought Assaye five times on the Saturday prior with the Maratha going down to defeat in all five encounters.  Kevin considered the plight of the Maratha desperate with the British capable of causing quick and widespread destruction to Pohlmann's army.  With the odds seemingly stacked against the Maratha, I opted to give them a try in the first encounter. 

In Game 1, Wellesley advanced his force and began shifting his cavalry through the villages to cross the river to join the main army.  As the British advanced, the three Maratha guns began weakening the attackers.  With one or two blocks removed from many of the British, the Maratha infantry advanced.  First getting within musketry range the Maratha concentrated fire on the British grenadiers to wear them down.  Then, the natives attacked all along the line doubling up against one opponent at a time.  Before the British could get their cavalry firmly into the fray, East India Coy troops were seen streaming from the field.  Victory to the Maratha.  Kevin was shocked at the result. 

To remove the chance of a fluke victory by the Maratha, we reset the battle and began again.  I took command of the Maratha one more time.  Game 2 resulted in a similar outcome hurried to conclusion by an opportune elimination of Maxwell and his attached cavalry.  A devastating defeat to Wellesley and the British.

After a break for lunch, we reset the table and switched sides.  In command of the British, I set to work on destroying the weak and isolated Maratha irregular cavalry on the far side of the river.  Holding a Cavalry Charge card, the British cavalry went into their opponent and cut them apart before they knew what hit them.  Four banners to the British as all four irregular horse went down.  Needing only two more banners for victory, the British found two easy targets and it was over before it started.  Banners 6-0 British.


Game 4.  Still commanding the British, I applied the same tactic as in Game 3.  Yep.  Same result.  A quick British victory with a Banner count of 6-1.   

Game 5.  With time for one more match, we maintained the same sides and dug in for a rematch.  The British, again, employed the same cavalry tactic but had a harder time as Pohlmann diverted some of his right line to harass the British cavalry on the opposite bank.  During this phase of the battle, only two of the Maratha irregular horse were destroyed before the British cavalry fell back with heavy casualties.  In the main battle, the British advanced on their right with cavalry and grenadiers.  After weakening the Maratha line from musketry, the cavalry and grenadiers fell upon their foes.  In quick succession, four more native units were destroyed.  British victory.

In under four hours including a break for lunch, the Battle of Assaye was fought five times.  For those keeping score, I managed to win all 5.  Great fun!  Too bad I did not take any photos of Kevin's custom armies.  The blocks with custom artwork were sweet and looked terrific deployed in the two long lines of battle.   

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bavarian Preysing Musketeer Rgt Bn 1

Having enjoyed painting a battalion of Lancashire Games' SYW Austrians as Bavarians recently (see Morawitzky Battalion), another battalion of the same was pushed up into the painting queue.
Today sees the 1st Battalion of the Bavarian Musketeer Regiment Preysing step off the painting desk.  These 22 musketeers are, again, from the superb stable of Lancashire Games' 15mm SYW figures with a Eureka mounted officer leading them into battle.  The cornflower blue coat with red facings is another handsome combination to my eye.
Super figures with enough raised detail that painting becomes a snap.  Battalion #2 of Preysing will not be far behind in the painting queue.  Given that these figures and uniforms produce such handsome battalions, another order was sent out to bring in a few more recruits.  I know, it never seems to end.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Great Italian Wars Project - A Parade

Following the four recent battles of Maisnon and while most of the collection was still out on the gaming table, why not pull the remaining figures from their storage boxes and hold a review?  Good idea, thinks I!

By my count, the painted collection contains 374 foot, 66 horse, and 5 guns.  The collection fields figures from Old Glory, Perry, Wargames Foundry, Casting Room Miniatures, and TAG.  Did I miss anyone?  Enough figures remain in The Lead Pile to muster several more units including two units of Gendarmes, crossbowmen, arquebusiers, and at least three more massive pike blocks.  For now, there is no hurry to add to the collection.  Still, a stray unit or two may occasionally work its way into the painting queue.

On to the parade review...

Back into the boxes they go!  Planning begins for the next battle.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

French Ligne Regiment #18 in 1859

After no activity on the 1859 project since late last fall, work returns.  Anticipated over the next month from this refocusing of attention is the mustering of at least three regiments of infantry.   
The first regiment out of the recruitment center is a 36 figure, three battalion infantry regiment flagged as the 18th Ligne.  As has been the situation of late, figures are from Lancashire Games' excellent 15mm 19th Century European Wars range.  The more of these fellows I paint, the more I appreciate the sculpting work.  It is good that I enjoy painting them.  A TON of these figures await in The Lead Pile.  
While I have sufficient forces to field the armies needed for a planned San Martino refight, thoughts of planning the battle are provided motivation to field a few more units.  A "few" more units?  I have no concept of what that means either.  At present two more infantry regiments are in work with thoughts of adding one more regiment of Sardinian heavy cavalry.  Like these French from the 18th Ligne, the infantry recruits working their way through the painting queue are all Lancashire Games' figures. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Maisnon- Italian Wars BatRep 4

Once more to the battlefield of Maisnon!  In this clash, I face off against Kevin but on the opposite side of the table.  In this battle, I fight as Charles V against Francois I.  Rules in use: To The Strongest!.

The battle opens with a familiar sight of the two armies deployed as shown below.  In the role of Charles V, battlefield photos will be from the perspective of Charles V taken from behind the Imperial battle line.  The battlefield constrained by woods on both flanks and a river, the battle plans remain much the same as before.  That is, frontal assaults will be the means for breaking the opposition.  Not much room for tactical trickery or finesse.  Brute force and a lot of luck will likely win the day. 
The two armies advance
Both armies push their troops forward quickly to come to grips with their foe.  As the distance closes, missile fire begins.  At this range, casualties are few and the armies plod forward.
Distance between the armies contracts
Charles, acting impetuously, pushes his right forward so quickly the gun on the hill has its fire blocked by its own troops almost straightaway.  Did it even manage more than a single shot?  I think not.  Charles nullifies one of his advantages in this battle right from the start.  While the cavalry on the Spanish left is slow to move up, the Spanish light cavalry on the right, quickly engages the French mounted crossbow to drive them off.  
Early stage of the battle
As the massive pike blocks in the center of the battlefield lumber forward, the first clash of heavy cavalry is witnessed on the Spanish left.  The German Men-at-Arms crash into the French Gendarmes.  The clash can be heard above the din of battle. 
The heavy cavalry clash
While the Germans and Gendarmes are locked into a continuing melee, Francois pushes his mounted arquebusiers and a second group of Gendarmes into the gap between the cavalry melee and his advancing pike formations. 
Reserve cavalry move up to plug a gap
Pushing the mounted arquebusiers out in front to screen the Gendarmes from artillery bombardment, the Gendarmes wheel to bring themselves onto the flank of the German Men-at-Arms.  In the center, Zweihanders advance out of the Imperial pike block and begin hacking the ends off of pikes to whittle down the enemy's resolve.  Along the river, crossbow and arquebus units trade volleys.  The only noticeable effect is that firing quickly subsides as all units begin running low on ammo.  Very little damage sustained from these firefights.    
German's flank is exposed
View down the length of battle line
The Imperial Zweihanders, having softened up the pike block to their front, retire to allow their own pikemen to attack.  The attack goes in but both maintain their position locked in combat.  Having maneuvered themselves into a flanking position on the Men-at-Arms, French Gendarmes hit the Germans in flank.
Men-at-Arms flanked!
Battle view from east
With two against one in the cavalry melee, the Germans fall back in disorder escaping with their lives.  The Gendarmes to their front follow up to take the vacated ground.  In the pike scrum, the Swiss have had enough and make the best of a lull in activity to withdraw from the engagement.  Having suffered three hits, they are likely done for the day.  The Swiss' task now is to keep from being scattered by a pursuit. 
There is no such respite for the German Men-at-Arms.  Maintaining pressure on the disordered Germans, the French Gendarmes charge once again.  This time, the Germans are scattered.  Back in the center of the battlefield, two of the three opposing pike blocks are engaged in a heated contest of push of pike. Gaining an upper hand is difficult as combat in these close quarters is stymied by numerous misses and successful saves.
Clash of pike in the center
Finally, the to-and-fro log-jam in the pike clashes breaks and the Spanish destroy two of the three French pike blocks in rapid succession.  Added to the light troops lost earlier in the engagement, the French Army reaches its Break Point and hands over the last Victory Medal.  Victory to Charles V!  
French pike blocks destroyed
While the Spanish claimed victory in this edition of the battle, it was a near run thing.  Victory could have fallen either way up until the last card.  With each army holding 11 Victory Medals, the first to lose two pike blocks (4 VMs each) would likely see defeat.  That is what happened in this contest.

Of the battles before, Game 4 seemed to produce the most plausible clash of man and horse in a battle staged during the Italian Wars.  The game actually took on the look and feel of a Renaissance battle in my mind.  Of particular note was the lengthy pike scrums as neither could gain an advantage.  The attacker repeatedly drew misses while the defender repeatedly saved those few hits drawn.  A lot of drama and anticipation in what the next card may hold.  It was good fun that saw a decisive conclusion fought in about 90 minutes.

With a half-dozen battles fought using TtS!, play in the last two games has been conducted almost exclusively using a QRS as reference.  In this battle, I do not recall needing to take a time-out to thumb though the rule book at all.  Notice in a few of the photos, the QRS is shown in the photo.  The QRS has been condensed into one 5x7 inch, two-sided card.