Saturday, September 28, 2019

A New Convert?

What is the best entry point to draw a potential recruit into wargaming?  The first entry point I consider is always Commands & Colors: Ancients.  Great game providing a relatively easy entry into the hobby.  I had a chance to test this theory during a protracted stay of our recent house guests.

With daughter #1 returning home for a stay while in between house moves, the house has been quite active with four additional people and a dog.  Since the game room is in the basement and the game table must be passed on the way to the downstairs bedroom suite where they were staying, I saw some growing interest from her fiance as he looked over the table having an ECW battle on display. 

Finally having some free time one evening, I suggested we give a light wargame a try.  I suggested an Ancients battle with blocks and he agreed.  I pulled out CC: Ancients, removed the boxes of blocks, and unfolded the map.  Already he was impressed.  We selected the first battle in the scenario book, Bagradas, and deployed the troops.  He really enjoyed the look of the game and mentioned that it a wonder that he has not heard of this series.  He chose to take the Carthaginians in Game 1.  Anyway, on to the real test.
Initial deployments
Game 1 took about two hours as I explained the rules, the cards, and the potential interactions.  While there was frequent hesitation on which card to play and what it means, we completed Game 1 in a closely contested match.  Although my Romans began on a 3-0 banner lead, the Carthaginians came back to tie the game 6-6.  With only one banner to capture for victory, we jockeyed for position to place our battling armies in the best situation for victory.  In the end, Carthage won 7-6.  A victory in his first game is a great motivator!  He was eager to play again.  
Carthage Victory Game #1
The next evening, we again had time to rejoin battle.  We switched sides and I took command of the Carthaginian Army.  This time the battle was not so even.  Carthage struck early with a deck of Center and Line Command activations.  Carthaginian heavy infantry made it up into the front lines early and then a combination of elephants, warbands, and heavy infantry cut the Romans apart.  In the end, Carthage won 7-3.  Still, he is looking forward to more games of CC:Ancients.  This one has potential!  Maybe next time I will bring out the 6mm armies?  Is there a more approachable system as an introduction to wargaming?
No crying over spilt beer
On deck this weekend is a Napoleonic battle featuring Age of Eagles with the regular gaming group.  Should be fun!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Another Celtic Warband from Crusader

Work on the 28mm Ancient Celts army continues.  After missing out on producing a unit for this project in August, two units charge off the painting desk in September.  Possibly one more warband may make it off the workbench before month's end.
These dozen warriors are from Crusader Miniatures. These fellows comprise the third such Celt warband stand to come off the painting desk this summer.  After seeing reports of the Society of Ancients' 2019 Battle Day, I was energized to build for this battle myself.  My goal with mustering a Celtic or Gallic army was to bring forth the troops necessary for a Telamon refight and to compare my experiences with others.  That goal is still intact but later than anticipated.  One day I will have sufficient Celts to deploy armies for this battle.   
In addition to the dozen warriors in the warband above, a four-figure stand of Celt slingers was also completed.  With these two stands finished, enough Crusader Celts remain to field two more warbands and a skirmish stand of archers.  Those might be completed before the snow flies.  Some of my planned work has ground to a halt as I await an order from Black Tree Design.  That order was placed in May and still in the BTD processing queue.  BTD has experienced personal and professional issues of late so I must be patient.  Besides, it is not like I have no other figures to push into the painting queue!  

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Cycling the Palouse

With summer winding down on the Palouse, temperatures are beginning to cool.  Long gone are the hot days of summer.  No more afternoon rides in the mid-90s.  Rather than enjoying a late fall with warm temperatures continuing into late September, fall may come early this year.  Before the current cold front accompanied by showers blanketed the Palouse, I snuck in one more ride with temperatures hovering in the upper 70's.

Today's route covered 31 miles and was notable for the elevation gained (and lost).  Not as many miles pedaled on the flat as the more routine routes.  Most of the mileage was put into the legs either climbing or descending.  Typical of the typography of the Palouse, a lot of undulating terrain was encountered too but today the legs put in a number of miles on long and sometimes steep climbs.  Having a GoPro camera mounted onto the handlebars tends to flatten the actual gradients as seen even from head height.  The photos fail to provide an accurate impression of the ascent.  That is ok.  My legs know the difference.

Below are a few photos from today's workout:
One mile into a three mile climb
Still climbing
Still climbing
Still climbing
Up on top of the plateau
Another climb
This time, steep... 
and twisting
Final push to the top
and a return home
With highs in the low 60s' and forecasts for rain in the near future, upcoming workouts will be confined to the indoors.  Maybe I will see a break in the weather?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

SYW Russian Musketeer Bn

With the exception of three Bavarian musketeer battalions and a long lost Freikorps 15's bag of Prussian commanders, the painting desk has seen very little work on the 18mm SYW project in 2019.  That slow-footed production may see a turn toward a quicker paced output for this conflict.    
Stepping off from the painting desk today is a 23 figure battalion of Russian musketeers in waistcoat.  Foot figures are Old Glory and the mounted officer is Eureka. With no distinctive facing colors, all Russian regiments look the same.  Therefore, I leave the battalion unflagged until its regimental designation is chosen.  With no facings, Russian infantry in waistcoat are colorful and quick to paint.  When wearing the white gaiters, these fellows are a sharp-dressed unit.  Meant as an augmentation to Jake's already large Russian Army, they can be used to plug any gaps in an Order of Battle.  What SYW battle might be next on the agenda?  With plenty of Russians, Kunersdorf as a possible next outing looks promising.  Prussia versus an Austro-Russian alliance sounds interesting.
What of the other SYW units in work?  Well, in work are three squadrons of Prussian cuirassiers (finishing the current inventory of Eureka Prussian cuirassiers), two Prussian howitzer batteries, and two more Russian musketeer battalions.  Of course, having typically overbought during a sale, a number of bags of Russian infantry are laying in wait.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Will the Real Gonsalvo Please Stand up?

Over the last six months or so, I have been watching my good friend, Gonsalvo (Peter from Blunders on the Danube) slowly slide down the Top Commentators roster.  Puzzling since I had not mentally recorded a noticeable drop-off in his comments.  Being a stalwart commentator, Peter remained consistently near the top of the list throughout the life of The Palouse Wargaming Journal until spring.  I wondered if commenting frequency was, indeed, declining.  What if the widget gathering the statistics had gone awry? 

My puzzlement intensified over the last week when Peter's comments were appearing regularly for each of my recent posts and some of the older ones too but his comment count was nor increasing.  Perhaps the counter had a bug?  How could this be that his comment count was continuing to dip?

As of this evening, the Top Commentators widget offers up a clue.
It appears the Gonsalvo in Rank #10 is falling in the polls because another Gonsalvo is sneaking up in the poll!  With time, I wager Gonsalvo in Rank #12 begins moving up in the ranking while the original Gonsalvo falls out of the Top 12 completely.

How do we find ourselves in this situation?  I do not know.  Did Gonsalvo change an email address?  Not that I can see.  Did Gonsalvo change his avatar?  I don't think so.  Did this second Gonsalvo originate with the demise of Google+?  The time frame fits.  Perhaps Google+ lays at the root of the problem?

Regardless, I will be keeping an eye on the Gonsalvo doppelganger.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Battle Honors' Austrians in Casquet

Without any work on the 1799 project since March, a unit for this project finally makes its way into and out from the painting queue.  While the project saw a flurry of units emerging from the work desk in the first three months of 2019, no additional reinforcements until now.  Why the long hiatus?  I suppose the San Martino scenario motivated more focus in that direction.  Having put San Martino in the books for now, focus returned to other projects. 
The unit off the painting desk today is a Battle Honors' FRW Austrian  infantry battalion in casquet led by an AB mounted officer.  The Battle Honors' Austrians are neither as nicely sculpted nor as large as the AB counterpart but I had enough of these fellows to field one more battalion so why not.  Why not, indeed!  These thirteen figures muster out as IR#3.  Two battalions of French Consular Guard are in work for the 1799 project too.  Sitting in the Ready-to-Go box, primered, are 36 early French from 19th Century's newest FRW releases.

A variety of other projects are seeing action at the painting desk including Kushite archers, another Celtic warband, SYW Russian infantry, ECW horse, and who knows what else.  For now, the painting desk is busy. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Norway for the Norwegians!

Following a large number of blogs, the temptation and urge to drift off onto other projects are a constant threat.  With an uptick in WWII-themed gaming of late, I could resist this temptation no longer.  While I have not pulled the long idle 15mm WWII project from mothballs just yet for a game, I was inspired to push some lead into the painting queue. 

The primary focus of my WWII project is early war in general and the 1940 Norwegian campaign specifically.  Looking back at my notes, it becomes quite clear that this collection has not seen action on the table in nearly ten years.  Ten years?  What possesses me to maintain a collection that is out of the box once per decade?  Well, my answer is that a steady stream of books on the 1940 Norway campaign continues to reach the market and I simply cannot help myself from picking them up.  With every book, I am re-energized to take one more look at moving the project onto the gaming table.   
Anyway, off the painting desk today are thirty Norwegian infantry including two machine guns and crew.  The figures are from the always excellent 15mm Peter Pig range.  Peter Pig Norwegians?  Those thumbing through the Peter Pig catalog will find no such range of figures.  What I used as Norwegian proxies are WWI Austrian infantry in greatcoat.  To my eye, at this scale, the WWI Austrian uniform looks very similar to the WWII Norwegian uniform.  Well, close enough for my use anyway.  The real purists will likely laugh at my substitution but, for me, these ersatz Norwegians work. 

Maybe I will resurrect my old Drive on Bjerkvik scenario and give it another game.  After ten years, I may have difficulty scrunching around for my game notes.  For that which is undocumented, I will fill in the gaps.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Desert Guard Tower

A number of interesting items arrived into my mailbox this week. One such item is described as a 28mm Desert Guard Tower from Steepled Hat Studios.  The online photos of the piece looked quite good.  When unwrapped, the tower did not disappoint.
The tower is made from resin and comes as either unpainted or painted.  I chose the painted version although painting seems minimal mainly confined to doors and a light stain of the brickwork.  
The tower, itself, is guarded by two Assyrian winged bulls shown in their natural state.  Perhaps, these statues were painted in antiquity?  I will need to research the possibility of painting these creatures.  
The tower is billed as suitable for 28mm gaming.  I agree.  With two of my Assyrian chariots flanking the tower in the top photo, scale seems appropriate to my eye.  Notice the detailing on the winged bull.  Sculpting on the statue is superb.  Facial expressions may be a bit fanciful but superb, nonetheless. 
My plan is to use this as a camp or HQ for my Assyrian Army when out on the field of battle.  For USD$20 postage paid, this tower is a real bargain and a useful addition to the Assyrian Wars project.

What do you think of this piece?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

San Martino Battle: Game 2 Part 2

The most recent Battle of San Martino begun in July was fought to conclusion a few weeks ago.  The first part of the battle report can be found at Battle San Martino Game 2.

At the stopping point in the first battle session, Benedek and his Austrian Corps held the central position and controlled the tempo of the battle.  By acting aggressively, the Austrians gained all of the Objectives on and around the San Martino Heights early on.  Pushing beyond these objectives, the San Martino Heights were soundly in Austrian hands.  As Sardinian reinforcements reached the battlefield in a piecemeal fashion, Benedek was able to rebuff each reinforcing column's progress one at a time.
Situation at 10:30am
When the battle resumed on the 10:30am turn, the situation finds Durando's Sardinian division pressing upon the Austrian left, threatening the objective of Madonna del Scorpeta.  Heavy with grenadiers, Durando makes headway against his Austrian counterparts.  Koller and Gaal's Austrians, detached from the 5th Corps fighting to the south, are pushed back through the woods.  Mollard's third brigade to reach the field under the command of Morozzo begins to deploy as his brigade reaches the railway line.  With Mollard's recce column practically destroyed in the early morning fighting around San Martino, wresting control of the heights falls upon Morozzo's shoulders.  Cucchiari's two-brigade division takes on a similar task.  With Benedek holding all of the objectives and switching over from offensive operations to a strong defensive mindset, would the Sardinians have the force to throw the Austrians out of their strongpoints?
Durando's Sardinians pressing the Austrian left
Austrians form a defensive line as
Sardinian reinforcements arrive
Facing a tough white wall of Austrians, the Sardinians swallow hard and step off towards the Austrians lines.  Almost immediately, Morozzo's brigade finds itself under pressure on the approaches to San Martino as the Austrians wheel in on the left of his Sardinians.  As the Austrians swing in, a few Sardinian battalions are sacrificed in an attempt to refuse the flank and establish a more defensible position.
Morozzo under pressure early
On the Sardinian right, Cucchiari's 5th Division is hit by repeated volleys from the longer-ranged Austrian rifled muskets before the smoothbore carrying Sardinians can close.  The lead battalions in Pettinengo's brigade are all shaken by the hail of lead.  Luckily, Gozani's brigade reaches the village of Centenaro, defended by Austrian jagers, almost intact. 
The Austrian reinforced line looks formidable
Sardinians suffer in the advance
At this point in the battle, the situation is mixed.  Durando's Division continues to pressure the Austrian left with Koller and Gaal giving up ground begrudgingly.  The Sardinians are well placed on the ridge but losses continue to mount as the Austrians stand back and blast the Sardinians as they emerge from the cover of the woods.  The contact point between Cucchiari and Durando is becoming tenuous.  With Austrian resistance mounting on this front, Sardinian troops must flip to a defensive posture.  
The hinge linking Cucchiari and Durando weakens
Seeing the momentum shift in the valley, the Austrians waste no time.  Collecting a force of both infantry and cavalry, the Austrians strike into the weakening Sardinian position between the intersection of the two Sardinian divisions.  Already shaken from earlier losses, the Sardinians crumble when facing the cavalry and break.  The Sardinian gun narrowly escapes as the Sardinian position collapses  
An Austrian breakthrough
Not realizing that the Austrians have affected a split between his own division and Durando, Gozani attempts a similar ploy by concentrating and attack against the hinge of the Austrian line.  His hope is for a successful breakthrough.  Still ignorant to threat to his flank, Gozani attacks.  If the successful Austrian breakthrough turns upon his flank, Gozani may find himself in serious jeopardy.
Overall situation about 11:30am
Not seeing the Austrian breakthrough off to his right, Gozani begins his assault against Centenaro.  Gozani's brigade experiences surprising success as first the jaegers are pushed from the village and then a gap appears in the Austrian line as an Austrian battalion withdraws from the fighting.
Gozani attacks the defenders of Centenaro
The Austrians take more casualties and disruption as battalions are forced back onto their supports causing more battalions to waver.  Have the Sardinians finally found and exploited a weakness?  If the Sardinians could gain the initiative before the Austrian gap is plugged, this breach could turn into a breakthrough.  Of course, Gozani, still does not recognize that his own line has similarly been breached.
Sardinians breach the Austrian defenses
Despite the breach in the line, the Austrians coolly fall back and reform.  Bringing up the reserve artillery into the second line of defense, this line looks more imposing than the original.
Austrian second line forms
Will every attack upon the Austrian positions stymied and Berger's Austrian division threatening to envelop Mollard on the Sardinian left, the King calls off the attack.  Benedek performed his job superbly on this day preventing both the Sardinians from linking up with the French to the south at Solferino and cutting off the Austrian line of retreat. 
Situation at end of battle
That was a hard-fought battle with the Sardinians coming up short throughout the day.  Having never seized the initiative made the Sardinian situation one of reaction rather than action.  Being back-footed throughout the battle was agonizing.  The larger, Austrian battalions coupled with their superior rifled-musket made for a tough day on the field of battle.  Casualties were severely lopsided.  The Sardinians suffered greatly while attempting to get within smoothbore range.  In the few situations where they did manage to get in close, close combat saw some success.  The Sardinians must realize that in these situations the bayonet is a friend.  Closing with the more powerful Austrians proved nearly impossible.  Even Austrian cavalry saw success when it attacked weakened units and drove them from the field.  In the final analysis, the Austrian infantry were likely over-rated in this contest.  The combinations of their Combat Effectiveness, size, and weapon superiority were too much to overcome.  Next time these troops take to the field, I will give the Austrian infantry a downgrade and see if that improves play balance.  

As the Sardinian commander, I was outplayed, outwitted, and outlasted...but it was fun!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Japanese Levy Teppo in 15mm

A very long time has passed since the last Feudal Japanese unit mustered off the painting desk.  Looking back at the Painting Log, the last unit marching off the workbench for this project was in February 2018.  A very long time, indeed.  The lack of activity at the paint table is not surprising.  First, most of the figures have moved from The Lead Pile to the painted box.  Second, the collection has not witnessed action on the table in almost three years.  For a collection that I enjoy and a Commands & Colors game system that is so fun, the long hiatus is embarrassing, really.  Hopefully, with the end of busy summer schedules, time will be found this fall and winter to pick up the katana once again.   
Until then, 19 Peter Pig levy teppo march out from the painting desk.  Peter Pig's Samurai range of figures is one of my favorites.  Solid sculpts that are easy to paint and look good when finished.  This collection is one of the few that actually receive a satin finish rather than flat finish.  Something about lacquered armor calls out for a bit of sheen on the figures.
I recent Peter Pig sale saw me stock up on a few more packs of figures to complete a number of partial units lingering in inventory.  A unit of mixed foot Samurai will be the next unit seen emerging from the painting desk for this project.  The Samurai have not reached the painting desk yet but they will in good time.  So many units are in line ahead, it may take a month or two before the Samurai see the light of day.

Seeing the finished product, I am motivated to pull the collection out onto the table for a quick solo game.  With only a third of the gaming table in use at present, an 8'x6' section remains open for use.