Tuesday, October 29, 2019

French Consular Guard in 18mm

The painting desk saw a momentary return to work on the 1799 project with the completion of two, thirteen-figure battalions of Consular Guard.  The mustering of these two battalions marks the emptying of the figure bins of all guard figures.  These AB French guardsmen will see service in the early battles in Northern Italy and Switzerland.  I recall their presence at Marengo but will need to investigate where else they saw service. 
While the project has not seen a significant spike in activity with the brush in 2019, a quick look at the Painting Log shows fourteen units have been completed, thus far.  That is a surprise.  Three more battalions of French infantry from 19th Century Miniatures' recently released line of FRW figures are in the painting queue.  I am anxious to see how they look with a coat of paint.  Within the same pack, to my eye, some of the sculpts are very good while others are just average.  I wonder if the range has more than one sculptor?  A more robust figure assessment can be made once I begin slapping on paint.  
Finally, a chance to put the slight modifications to the ECW battle of Southam into practice materialized over the weekend.  With the Saturday group game cancelled due to illness, I had time to push troops around on my table in a solo exercise.  Having the three prior fights ending in decisive Royalist victories, I hoped the scenario tweaks would provide the Parliamentarian army a chance to approach the historical result.  Next time, the battle replay will be up for scrutiny.

Friday, October 25, 2019

ECW Harquebusiers in 30mm

The 30mm ECW project is witnessing a bit of a resurgence in 2019.  Having no units coming out from the painting queue since 2011 (!), the horse regiment mustering out today is the third unit seen in 2019.  Why the renewed interest?  Maybe expectations for playing For King and Parliament (FK&P) have something to do with it?  Even if FK&P has yet to see the gaming table, several battles have been fought in 2019.  In fact, Southam is still deployed on the table.  For Southam, thoughts continue towards giving Parliament a better chance at victory.  Southam was played thrice this summer and in all three battles the Royalists were victorious.  Southam still has some play in it and expect to see another round of battles as unit ratings are adjusted.  
Anyway, I digress.  Off the painting desk today is a nine figure horse regiment of harquebusier.  Their attire may look somewhat dated but still suitable for ECW gaming.  The figures are from The Assault Group (TAG) and represent the first TAG ECW figures to see work at my workbench.  I have painted several handfuls of their Renaissance Italians for the 28mm Great Italian Wars project but none before today for the ECW.  Figures are well sculpted and the cavalry will fit in well with the bulk of my Redoubt cavalry.  TAG figures are on the pricey side of the cost spectrum but these fine fellows were part of a box of ECW figures gifted to me from a friend leaving the hobby.  Now, that is a bargain!  Plenty of cavalry left in the box of lead and a few infantry too.

With a late year push, two more ECW units are working their way through the painting queue.  At present one regiment of horse and a regiment of foote are nearing completion.  Checking The Lead Pile, one more 27 figure unit of foote could be raised if only command figures were present.  Perhaps a very small order to Redoubt to pick up the missing recruits is in order?  Redoubt is still in business, right?         

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A SYW Hat Trick

Today I pull off a SYW hat trick.  No, not the white tape on the tricornes hat trick but the production of three SYW units in succession.  I do not often stay focused on one project to produce three units one after the other but this time, I did.  This trio managed to touch all arms and three different nationalities of the SYW.  First off the painting desk were a pair of Austrian guns, followed by 18 Prussian cuirassiers, and finally these 23 Russian musketeers.  Diversity within one project!   
Off the workbench today is another Russian musketeer battalion of 22 Old Glory hatmen led by a Eureka Russian Colonel.  Fine troops all.  To date, five Russian musketeer battalions have crossed the painting desk.  I must say, I really enjoy painting these Old Glory Russians.  Excellent figures and the Russians dressed in summer waistcoat are a snap to paint.  The white summer gaiters contrasted against the red waistcoat and breeches is a handsome combination.  
With three SYW units in a row coming off the workbench, time to allow other projects to see some attention.  While a number of Old Glory Russian musketeers remain in The Lead Pile, time to let some other projects take front and center.  Among the units working their way through the painting queue are two battalions of French Consular Guard for the 18mm 1799 project, one 28mm Celtic warband (Yes! Another one!), and a Parliamentarian regiment of horse for the 32mm ECW project.  After these muster off the painting desk, expect some Celtic cavalry for the Punic Wars project, a regiment of foote for the ECW project, and a return to the 10mm ACW project.  These are enough to keep me busy for the remainder of October and part of November, I expect.  Until next time.     

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Füssen, Germany and a Pair of Fine Castles

Hohenschwangau and Alpsee
When Nancy and I visited Austria and Bavaria in May 2018, we stopped for an overnight in Füssen on our journey from Innsbruck (see Innsbruck: A Sightseeing Stroll) to Munich.  The purpose of a brief stop in ssen was to visit the two famous castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau located a short distance from this small, quaint town.
Bucolic scenery on outskirts of Füssen
The small town of ssen is only a few miles from the Austrian/German border.  Having crossed the border between the two countries, the first business to attend to after disembarking from the bus was a border control check.  After clearing scrutiny from the local gendarmes, we grabbed our luggage and got our bearings.  Unfortunately, the bus stop was a long walk from the town proper and with no taxi in sight, we set off on foot.

On checking into our BnB and unpacking a few things, we set off for the main square and touristy market area of town in search of a bite to eat.  While very busy during the day when tourists and tour buses descend upon ssen as a gateway to the castles, in the late afternoon and evening, ssen is quiet.
High Castle
Market Street
Market Street
Market Street
Since the tour of the castles was scheduled for the next morning, we spent our early evening wandering around town.  Besides the many shops and restaurants along Market Street, we took in a leisurely stroll along the River Lech.  Two of the major sights near the center of town are:

High Castle.  On the hill overlooking ssen is the imposing High Castle.  It was the summer residence for the Bishop of Augsburg.  Notice how the facades are painted to present an illusion of three-dimensional window and door ornamentation.  The interior courtyard amphitheater would make a good locale for summer concerts.

Basilica of St Magnus.  Adjoining the monastery is the Basilica of St, Magnus.  Within this church are the relics of St. Magnus seen in the glass cross suspended over the altar.   

Having secured an early morning time to visit Hohenschwangau, we awoke early, repacked our bags, went into the basement for breakfast, and then stowed our luggage before catching a shuttle to the castles.

The shuttle dropped us off at the ticket office where we collected our reserved tickets.  Since we had about a half an hour before our tour of Hohenschwangau began, we walked to the museum and investigated its offerings.  High on the bluff behind the ticket office stands the imposing Hohenschwangau Castle.

Hohenschwangau, built in the 12th Century, was the boyhood home of "Mad' King Ludwig.  Ludwig's father, King Maximilian II, rebuilt the castle in 1830 after having the place destroyed by Napoleon I.  Tours are kept small with no more than about 30 people at a time.  As expected in a castle such as this, the interior is breathtaking displaying the style, wealth, and taste in art that this family held.  The guided tour is no more than about 30 minutes but worth a visit. 

Once finished with the tour of Hohenschwangau, the tour of Neuschwanstein is up next.  When both castles are visited, tours are separated by two-hours to allow ample time to travel between the two.  We found two hours more than enough time to hop on the frequent shuttle from Hohenschwangau to Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein is a massive and imposing castle situated on a rocky outcropping.  When viewed from the valley floor near Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein may not look so imposing.  Looks are deceiving as the castle is about a 30 minute shuttle ride away.  
Up close, the scale of the building is overwhelming.  Massive white sandstone veneer reaches skyward.  Inside, the rooms are furnished in an opulent, Wagnerian style in which money was no object.  Ludwig lived here only briefly before his death in 1886.  While construction took 17 years, Ludwig only lived here for 172 days.

One of the best views of the castle, itself, is obtained by taking a short but steep hike up the hillside to Mary's Bridge.  Mary's Bridge spans the deep gorge and offers stunning views of Neuschwanstein Castle perched on a rocky outcropping, the rocky gorge, and the valley far below.  Stunning!  If the castle looks familiar,  Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for the castle at Disneyland.
Neuschwanstein from Mary's Bridge
With the castle tours over, we took the bus back into ssen.  While I went back to the BnB to fetch our luggage, Nancy bought tickets to Munich on the early afternoon train.  Grabbing a quick lunch near the train station, we boarded the train to Munich.

Beautiful scenery and well worth a stop on a trip from Innsbruck to Munich. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

SYW Prussian Cuirassier Rgt #7

On the heels of the two Austrian howitzers, off the painting desk trots three squadrons of Prussian cuirassiers.  These 18 troopers are from Eureka Miniatures' 18mm SYW range and muster out as three squadrons of the 7th Cuirassier Regiment.  With the completion of these horsemen, The Lead Pile is now devoid of Prussian cuirassiers.  A small handful of Prussian dragoons remain.  They will be finding their way into the painting queue shortly.
While the next unit off the painting desk will not likely be yet another addition to the SYW project, two more units for this project are in work.  What are likely next out of the gates for the SYW project?  More Russian musketeers.  Before one of the musketeer regiments musters out from the painting production line, a brief return to the Punic Wars project.  One more Celtic warband will depart the painting desk soon.  Another Celtic warband?  Yes, although The Lead Pile has been much depleted of those figures as well.  Perhaps enough Celts remain from the last large Crusader order to put together one more warband.  After that, all Celts will be gone with the exception of a few archers.  All gone, that is, until the long missing BTD order placed in May arrives.
On the boardgaming front, a few games arrived recently both from ebay purchases and direct orders from manufacturers.  Some real promising additions to the boardgame collection that I hope to read, learn, and get onto the table in the near future.  Staying on the boardgame topic, the collection is currently undergoing a slight cull.  Several duplicate copies of some out of print games have been sold off to make shelf space for some new replacements.  Some of these recent acquisitions will be featured later once I have had time to learn and play the games.  As for a theme in these recent purchases, WWII seems to dominate.

For now, the painting desk remains active and the gaming table is buried in assorted gaming detritus.  The ECW battle of Southam still is in residence on one-third of the table awaiting a replay.  A Spanish-American War boardgame occupies one-sixth of the table.  The remainder is stacked with boxes, books, and a scattering of rules.  It may be time for a clean up.  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Pair of Austrian Howitzers

When the battle of Zorndorf took up residence on the gaming table in the autumn of 2018, the Prussian OB called for a pair of Prussian howitzer batteries.  Well, I did not have any howitzers in the collection so a substitution was made of 12 pounder Prussian guns.  I made a note that howitzers may be needed in future SYW games.  Sensing the next Prussian vs Russian battle may require Prussian howitzers, I placed an order with Eureka to right this wrong.
Almost exactly one year later, time to correct this oversight.  Not exactly.  The first two guns dug out of The Lead Pile were Austrian.  Surely I will need Austrian howitzers at some time too, right?  Why not push a pair of Austrian howitzers into the painting queue?  Prussian howitzers can follow a bit later.  Prussian howitzers next.  Yes, that is what I will do.  
Off the painting desk today is a pair of Austrian howitzers.  Guns and crew are from Eureka Miniatures.  Now, where are those Prussian guns?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Aspern-Essling and an Unhappy Bonapartist

The battle was reconvened Sunday morning to fight out the conclusion of the battle started the week prior.  In command of the Austrian left and poised to deflate the expansion of the French bridgehead across the Danube, I was eager to continue.

With one town block of Essling in Austrian hands, the Austrians are in position to challenge control of the second town block. Would the French present a defense of this real estate or withdraw before the hammer falls?  That decision may hinge on who takes the initiative.  With Napoleon present, the French hold the initiative and choose to move first. 
Austrian Left poised to drive in the French
By moving first, the French are able to begin a disengagement from both Aspern and Essling while trying to consolidate the exposed center.  On the French left, French forces contract back toward the bridge.  On the French right, defending brigades badly damaged in first assault against Essling fall back beyond the town.  Two brigades remain in garrison in an attempt to slow the Austrians.
Situation after Austrian movement
In the Austrian turn, three brigades converge upon Essling while the Austrian Reserve batteries and grenadiers advance to fill the gap between the two towns. Austrian cavalry press deep into the French positions before contacting French cavalry.  The French cavalry, still reeling from earlier efforts, are destroyed in the clash.  The path to the bridge lays open.
Austrian cavalry attack!
Austrian Reserve advances
With Austrian troops prepared to assault Essling, Napoleon can tolerate no more senseless killing.  Urged by his staff to seek safety on the far side of the Danube, Napoleon quits the field.  Victory to the Austrian Army!  The battle is over before it barely begins.
Assault on Essling
This day, there will be no happy Bonapartist.
An Unhappy Napoleon 
The conclusion of the game lasted less than 30 minutes after we began.  With a day of gaming planned, what is Plan B?  We decided to pull out Commands & Colors: Ancients and continue play with Scott's beautiful 28mm Punic Wars collection.  After a quick transition, troops were arrayed to refight Cannae.

To complete the gaming session, the Battle of Cannae was fought four times. The Carthaginians were victorious twice as were the Romans.  Cannae is a tough fight for the Romans but Scott managed to pull out two victories commanding the Romans.  Kevin and I each fell to defeat at the hands of Scott's Romans.  We vow to tackle Cannae again and see if Scott can be beaten by the Carthaginians.     

Monday, October 7, 2019

A Mix of Samurai and Ronin

After recently pushing out a BMU of Japanese teppo, I made a scrounge of The Lead Pile and cobbled together enough odds and ends to field a heavy infantry unit of foot Samurai and Ronin.  These fifteen figures are from Peter Pig's excellent 15mm Samurai range. 
My original plan for this project was to fight Samurai Battles in 15mm on a four inch  grid.  Added into this mix were a couple of battles using Impetvs both off grid and on.  All three methods produced enjoyable games with a vast array of color on the battlefield.  That was likely four or five years ago.  Hard to believe this is another collection that has not made it onto the tabletop in such a long time. 
When this project was in its early stages, Samurai Battles appeared on the kitchen table frequently for afternoon, winter gaming sessions.  Those were the days.  Since the game footprint of Samurai Battles is small, no need to spread it out on the big gaming table in the game room.  The entire game and accouterments fit comfortably on the kitchen table.  With another fall upon on us and winter approaching, perhaps, Samurai Battles can once again take up intermittent residence on the kitchen table?  

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Take One Aspern...

The taking of Aspern
and call me in the morning. I know, I know...

Scott hosted an Age of Eagles (AoE) Napoleonic game but the battle remained nameless until we arrived.  When I entered the game room, below is the sight I saw:
He asked if I could guess the battle.  Trivial question.  Looked like Aspern-Essling to me.  Beautiful layout!

Kevin, ever the Francophile, wanted to command the French under Napoleon while Scott and I split the larger attacking Austrian army.  I took command of the Austrian left and Reserve while Scott commanded the Austrian right.  My focus would be on taking Essling.  Scott's goal was to take Aspern.  The French would receive reinforcements but not until Turn 8 of the battle.  Could Napoleon be pushed into the Danube before reinforcements arrive?  That was the Austrian goal and my hope.
Austrian Left poised to attack Essling
Austrian Right with sights on Aspern
While the Austrian Reserve awaits activation, the ponderous Austrian Army lurches into motion.  On the Austrian Left, the troops advance cautiously toward the stronghold of Essling.  Being Linear infantry under AoE, Austrians in line move slowly.  Very slowly.  
Austrians advance upon Essling
On the Austrian right, no time is lost.  Scott mounts an aggressive attack from the onset of battle.  Aspern and its French defenders are under pressure immediately.  The defenders hold a hot-hand early on in repelling their attackers but the weight of the enemy force is undeniable.
Initial assaults on Aspern
Soon, Austrians are attacking in depth and enveloping the well-defended town.  In rapid succession, block after block of the village falls to the White Menace.  Action is very hot on the Austrian right while the French positions are bending but not broken.  
French defense of Aspern collapses
Back on the Austrian left, progress is slow for my Austrian commands as they methodically advance upon Essling.  With their backs against the Danube and re-enforcements forced to enter over a sole bridge, the French will be in a pickle if Essling falls too soon.  My objective is to press on Essling and cut the French line of communications and its retreat.
Austrian left advances upon Essling
With three large Austrian battalions closing to within musketry range of Essling, the two Austrian battalions on the extreme left attack.  Softened by artillery fire, the French are pushed back.  The French battery on the road is driven off allowing for a bit of relief to the attackers. 
French right is pushed back
Casualties to the Austrians on the French right are light.  The Austrians opposite Essling are hesitant to assault without having first softened up the defenders.  Musketry is mostly ineffective against the walled defenders.  On the French far-right flank, the French defenders continue to fall back from the threat of the two Austrian battalions.  A French battery is over-run in a failed stand following a breakthrough charge.  A few French battalions are pushed back into the swamp.  With luck, the swamp will slow the pursuit of their attackers.  
French Right softens.
As the French right bends back, a second approach to Essling is unveiled.  With the added weight of two batteries finally in position to support the attack on Essling, the defenders begin to waver.  In the center between the two villages, French hussars attack.  Successful in their first clashes with the Austrian cuirassiers, the troopers are dealt a deadly blow and break back toward the river.  With three of four Aspern town blocks taken on the Austrian right, Scott, with hands clasped, watches on as the action around Essling heats up.   
With Aspern 3/4 taken,
Scott watches on to the action at Essling
Having finally disordered Essling's defenders, the Austrian attack!  With attacks all along this axis, the French are unable to be everywhere at once.  This may be a pivotal point in the battle.  If the French can be dislodged, one town sector may fall and the second may be in jeopardy.  Tension is high as melees for the town begin.
Austrian attack on Essling
Austrian fusiliers assault Essling
The wavering defenders can not withstand the determination of their attackers.  Both assaults against Essling succeed as the survivors clamber over debris to reach safety of the second Essling town block.  The French extreme right is driven back even farther into the swamp.  A second French battery is at significant risk of loss as it remains on the road outside of Essling.  The second Essling town block nears envelopment. 
One block of Essling falls
At this point in the action, we stopped for a lunch break.  We expected to return in the afternoon to complete the battle but the lure of participating in a trivia contest at the pub was too much.  The game will be fought to conclusion on Sunday.
Battle overview at end of gaming session
What about the current situation?  My sense is that the French are in real trouble.  While I have not seen Austrian casualties suffered in the assaults on Aspern, Austrian casualties on the left have been very light.  My recollection is that only two or three stands have been lost in taking all of this ground.  All units are still Fresh and able to dish-out and absorb punishment on an offensive.  When we reconvene, Game Turn 6 will begin.  French reinforcements arrive on Turn 8.  That leaves two turns to push the French back from Essling and cut the bridge.  Is this realistic?  I think it may be.  French units around Essling have suffered greatly.  When French reinforcements do arrive, they will be lucky to debouch from the swamp and out onto the Marchfeld unmolested.  

For a perspective from the Austrian right, see Scott's account at Game Day - Aspern Essling.