Thursday, February 27, 2020

Assyrian Auxiliary Infantry II

The Assyrian Army receives a dozen reinforcements.  Another Assyrian auxiliary infantry unit steps off from the painting table to join a recently growing horde.  As their compatriots before, the figures are from Wargames Foundry.  Rather than the oversize tower shields wielded by the previous unit, these fellows carry an oversize wicker shield.  The dip does a good job of accentuating the detail of the wicker.  
Even with four reinforcing units making it through the queue in February, a number of Assyrian units remain to make it through the figure pipeline.  Three units await their turn for a photo session including a beast of a Newline Design four-horse chariot.

On the painting front, a lot of different projects are seeing work besides the current long line of Assyrians.    Painting sessions of late have been short.  One of the projects finally seeing attention is the WWII project in 15mm.  While a small stack of Zvezda German vehicle models have lingered about for years, I finally put five of the models on the workbench.  The vehicles have been assembled and painted. A little detailing and basing is all that is required to finish them up. 

What else is in work?  Well, after consideration, I decided to rebase and reorganize skirmishers for the 28mm Peninsular War.  More details on what drove me to this decision later.    

Monday, February 24, 2020

Assyrian Auxiliary Infantry

Outpaced by the Assyrian cavalry on display last week, Assyrian infantry begin to make its way to the photo booth.  A number of units are finished and have stacked up waiting for a turn at a photo session. 

First of the half-dozen infantry to make an appearance is a fourteen figure unit of large shield-wielding auxiliary infantry.  While the large, tower shield masks most of each figure, the figures are decked out in a simple tunic.  Figures are from Wargames Foundry.
I spent part of the weekend clearing the table of the Kunersdorf battle.  Having been out on the table for nearly three months, time to clear the deck and consider what game to focus on next.  With the Kunersdorf battle outcome seemingly foregone, no immediate need to refight the battle a third time.  Besides, time to give another period an exercise out on the game table.  What next?  Who knows?

On the painting front, this weekend saw work on a Minden battalion of Prussian combined grenadiers and three battalions of French infantry for the 1799 project.  The French are some of the early French in bicorne released last summer by 19th Century Miniatures.  Unhappy with the quality of these sculpts, 19th Century resculpted the line.  The replacement French infantry arrived this week from 19th Century.  The new figures look great!

Friday, February 21, 2020

Merrill's Marauders

Merrill’s Marauders: Commandos in Burma 1943-1944 - Decision Games. 
Merrill’s Marauders is a solitaire game covering missions behind Japanese lines in the Burmese jungle. The player has to carry out one of four missions, or string all four together in a campaign game.

The game uses the Commando series rules. Each mission card grants the player a specified number of operations points to reach certain objectives. Operations points are expended to recruit the special ops team, then to move and attack on the map. A deck of event cards controls the opposition forces (OPFOR). Combat is resolved using a quasi-tactical system with opposing units taking turns firing at one another. Victory can increase the number of operations points available, but heavy losses can reduce them. The game ends when the player runs out of points.

Game Contents:
• 11 x 17” map
• 40 die-cut counters• 18 mini cards
• Scenario Instructions
• Four page rule booklet

MSRP $12.95

Merrill's Marauders (MM) came to me as a recent ebay purchase bonus.  With no interest in this campaign, this small mini-folio game was set aside.  When I finally returned for a closer examination, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

The rules are short having only four pages of series rules and two pages of scenario rules.  The game is a solitaire game with the active player coordinating and carrying out commando raids deep into Japanese held territory.  Opposition forces (OPFOR) are run by a nifty artificial intelligence (AI) engine that actually works.

At the start of a game, the player selects one of four Mission Cards.  On this card are listed the situation, mission, number of Operation Points (OPs) available, number of Recruit Points (RPs) available, and C2 (stacking limits and any leaders present).  Each mission is different but primarily consist of recovery or base building and KIA count differential.

Operation Points govern the length of each mission.  When OPs fall to zero, the game is over.  OPs can be gained or lost throughout the game by performing operations, winning or losing battles, or as a result of an Event card.  With a need to typically complete more than one objective within a mission, OPs are dear.  

To accomplish a mission, a player builds his task forces through the use of expending Recruit Points.  With a limited number of RPs available, the player must construct his task forces carefully.  Part of the fun of MM is that each task force can be composed from a variety of assets.  With limits on both stacking and RPs, a player can be faced with tough decisions on how to construct a force.  With a need to typically field more than one force per mission, tough and interesting choices abound.  Assets that may be included in a task force are infantry, airborne, scouts, heavy weapons, engineers, supply columns, airstrikes, and air supply.  Each asset category has its advantages and disadvantages.
sample playing pieces
Given the Mission card chosen, the player places a number of unknown objective chits on randomly determined areas of the map.  Some of the objectives are real while others represent ambushes.  The game is point-to-point, area movement with most of the tables needed for play printed onto the map in a very organized manner.  
game map
Once recruitment is completed and selected objectives are placed (face-down so that their true value is unknown), play begins.

Each operation (turn) consists of selecting one task force, expending one OP, moving the stack, and drawing an Event card.  A force may only move as fast as its slowest component.  Once moved, one Event card is drawn from the deck of fourteen OPFOR Event cards.  While many of the event cards trigger the appearance of OPFOR units, some cards are beneficial.  If an Event card is drawn bringing forth OPFOR units, a battle is fought.
Moving task forces toward objectives
The number of required OPFOR units are selected randomly with their values unknown.  Combat values for OPFOR units range from a force strength of two up to eight.  Drawing the OPFOR=8 unit is a tough blow since the value of the chit equals the number of dice thrown in combat.  The battle begins by determining tactical advantage.  If the player's force stack contains a leader then he receives a +1 to this die roll.  Highest total attacks first which is a big advantage.  In a very simple series of back and forth exchanges, one side is destroyed.  Luck can play a role in combat.  The player has the option of calling in an air strike to bolster his combat capability if the odds are unfavorable.  Of course, an air strike would have been allocated in the early recruitment phase.  Based upon the number of units killed or panicked, the KIA marker is moved on the KIA Track to reflect the current tally.  In addition to either recovering real objectives or building bases, the value of the KIA Track at the end of the mission is important.

These continuous interactions between player and the games' AI provide suspense and produce many tense moments as the player attempts to complete each mission.  With variability in each facet of the game from selecting a mission, to building a force, to objective location, to Event card play, game replayability is high.  No two games play out the same.  With the Event deck containing only fourteen cards, one could go through the deck in one game.  Given that possibility of knowing which cards may be forthcoming, I only use ten of the fourteen cards with each pass through the Event deck.  That way, I never know with certainty which cards remain. 

The game is challenging but not too challenging although having completed three games, I have yet to win.

In the first game, the mission selected was Operation Longcloth.  I succeeded in the recovery mission and made it back to base intact but the KIA goal was not met.  I needed a higher body count of enemy.

In the second game, I repeated Operation Longcloth.  On the return from a successful recovery mission, my last task force was cut down in an ambush.  KIA totals favored the Japanese OPFOR.

In the third game, I chose the Operation Mars mission.  In that mission, I needed to find the two real objectives out of the four on map and build bases on these objectives.  I found the two real objectives, built bases upon them, and then went off on search and destroy missions to raise the KIA count to a winning margin.  Unfortunately, one of the Event cards drawn was a Japanese raid on one of my forward bases.  With an insufficient garrison, my forward base fell into enemy hands.  Without enough OPs remaining to mount a counterattack, the game was lost.  Still great fun but lost.  

While I ended up losing all three of these games, victory was within my grasp in each.  This is a great little game that offers a solid solitaire experience in a small package.  Components are first rate including the small card decks and playing pieces.  As I mentioned early on, the AI in MM is superb and offers an endless challenge for the gamer with an hour or two on hand.  Perhaps, MM could be used as a solitaire engine for a miniatures game?  MM might be a perfect little game to tuck away for travel.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Assyrian Mounted Archers

Work on the Assyrian Wars project receives some focused attention.  With no new units added to the project since late August of 2019, the completion of the desert tower (see Desert Guard Tower) in December renewed my interest in fielding more Assyrians.  Add to that a 2020 pledge to field a Hittite Army and it may be no surprise that a number of Assyrians filed into the painting queue.  While painting production has slowed of late, a number of Assyrian units made it off the painting desk before my early January forced hiatus.
On display today are two units for the project.  The first is a four figure BMU of Assyrian mounted cavalry from Wargames Foundry.  I have painted a half-dozen of these BMUs thus far and each quartet is a pleasure to paint.  

The second is a three figure stand of Egyptian mounted scouts also from Wargames Foundry.  With a small Egyptian contingent present for duty, it is time to add a scouting capability to the cavalry-pour Egyptians.
Looking over at the photo box, four infantry units and one chariot are awaiting their turn for a photo session.  About that pledge of fielding a Hittite Army this year, I better get started if I expect to stick to plan and field a dozen units this year.  Pushing a couple of infantry units into the painting queue to begin this project sounds just about right.  Ease into it gently.  First, I need to dig out the figures, clean them up, and then hit them with a coat of primer.  Hittites will be on the painting table soon, very soon.    

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Cacadores - Brown Shirts in Spain

The 28mm Napoleonic Peninsular War collection is a project not seeing action at the painting desk for far too long.  Checking the painting log, the last time any troops crossed the workbench was almost one year ago.  Those activities in early 2019 were spawned by a notion of wanting to switch cavalry basing from pairs to triplets per stand.  The cavalry reorganization required painting one additional trooper per BMU to raise the total eight figures to nine.   
Off the painting desk total is a battalion of Portuguese Cacadores.  Figures are Front Rank.  The pair of skirmishers represents the beginning of a reorg as well.  In the past, skirmishers were fielded as single figures.  My thinking now is to base skirmishers in pairs cutting the number of skirmish stands in half from before.  Light infantry with have two, two figure stands (yes, I need to paint a second pair of Cacadores for this unit).  Line infantry will field one, two figure stand of skirmishers.  If I settle upon this scheme, I have a lot of skirmishers to rebase.

Still hobbled (but improving!), more of my hobby time has been spent at the keyboard rather than two floors down in the game room and painting desk.  More time at the keyboard leads to more data crunching and analysis, and a completion of the two part battle report for Kunersdorf.

Two topics are in work.  One, another study of WSS' Great Wargaming Survey results in response to a reader question and, two, a probability study on the charge sequence of Norm's Two Flags - One Nation.  The TF-ON charge sequence simulation was prompted by discussion on DG's Sound Officers Call blog following one of his recent battles. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Kunersdorf - BatRep 2 Pt 2

Picking up the battle where we last left off (see: Kunersdorf Part1), pressure mounts on the increasingly beleaguered defenders of the Muhlberg.  Prussian cavalry commander Schorlemmer positioned on the western salient of the Muhlberg, masses his cavalry to thwart any Russian thoughts or attempts to relieve the Observation Corps from that direction. 
Attacks on the Muhlberg neck
Back on the Muhlberg, itself, the Observation Corps begins to withdraw from the northwest face of the earthworks.  Having suffered from musketry and artillery, the battered Russians pull out before the smoldering abatis and defensive works can be stormed.  Poised for action, the Prussians await their chance to attack.
The burning of Abatis slows Prussian attacks
Fires sputter out and the Prussians scale the heights and swarm into the Muhlberg defenses on the northwest face.  Closing in with attacks from three fronts, the defenders are hard-pressed to maintain order.  Russian casualties rise as the Prussians close-in but continue a stoic defense. 
Prussians climb over the earthworks
The first Prussian musketeer regiment over the rampart is given an unpleasant greeting of a devastating volley.  The musketeers recoil and stream back down the hill in search of safety and a chance to reform.  While disrupted by the retreating musketeers, another Prussian musketeer regiment takes its place in the attack.  Considering the Prussian force sufficient to overwhelm the Muhlberg defenders, reinforcements set off in search of another place to attack.
Battle on the Muhlberg continues
While the Muhlberg holds much of Frederick's attention, battle lines are being drawn on the flanks.  On the Prussian left, Platen and Wurtteberg's cavalry form up in the plain opposite the Russian masses.  Kanitz's infantry brigade makes its way through the marshland to lend support.  The Russians form up as well.  With Russian cavalry formed up on the Russian far right, nearly a dozen Russian infantry regiments plug the gap between the horsemen and the heights.
Prussian left builds a bridgehead
On the Prussian left, a succession of charges and counter charges bring the two cavalry forces into collision.  Some cavalry regiments are destroyed while others recoil to recover and lick their wounds.  Many Prussians retire only halting when they reach the watery obstacles.  One Prussian cavalry regiment is put to flight and retreats back across the narrow pathway between the marshlands.  Prussian musketeers are disrupted as the cavalry stream through their positions.
Overhead view of the Prussian bridgehead
The Prussian bridgehead builds
On the Prussian right, Schorlemmer's large cavalry formation confronts Jeropkin's heavy cavalry wing at the foot of the heights.  Penned-in by the ridgeline on one side and the water meadows on the other, the two foes stare each other down like gunfighters in a shootout.  Who will twitch first?  
Cavalry stand off on the Russian left
The attack on the Muhlberg begins in earnest. While Prussian musketeers pour volleys into the defenders, Schenkendorff's grenadiers sweep over the earthworks and crash into the Russian defenders.  One Russian gun is caught in the rear and a Russian musketeer regiment is hit in flank.  Destruction is almost immediate and complete. 
Prussian grenadiers hit the Russians hard!
While the defenders give ground and are pushed back into the bottleneck of the defensive works, the Prussians press on.  The rough ground in the grund, cleaving the two Russian defensive works, is making an organized withdrawal difficult.  The growing panic among the Observation Corps can be felt.  
Prussians take control of the Muhlberg
Muhlberg defense collapses
Two of the three batteries on the Muhlberg make good their escape as defenders fight spirited rear guard actions to keep the grenadiers at bay.  The Prussian attackers press forward to corral the refuges of the Muhlberg Last Stand but surrounding and surrender are not in the cards.
Prussians pursue the withdrawing Observation Corps
On the Russian left, a line of infantry forms up at the base of the hill, solidly anchoring that flank.  The Prussian will not be cutting off the Muhlberg from this direction.  Similary, a line of Russians forms up to the right extending from the Muhlberg through the outskirts of Kunersdorf.  This formidable line of red waistcoated Russians will be a very tough nut to crack.
Russians withdraw from the Muhlberg
Back on the Prussian left, the once promising Prussian bridgehead is collapsing as Russians converge upon the Prussians positions.  Halting a retrograde with backs to the almost impassible wetlands is no place to find oneself as the Prussians begin to withdraw.  
Prussian left is beaten back
Trying to make good their escape from impending disaster, the Prussian left makes its way through the difficult ground and reforms in a defensive line with the wetlands to their front.  A number of Prussian regiments will not make it back to safety having been shot up by overwhelming firepower of the many Russian musketeers.  As Prussian batteries are brought up to this new front, any Russian attempt to force this position will be met with failure.
Mopping up the Muhlberg
Looking down the battlefield from the northwest, the Russians are giving ground sparingly in the center while their flanks stiffen.  The Prussians have taken the Muhlberg.  Losses in the Observation Corps are high but a number of units slip out of the Prussian noose.  The way in which the armies are arrayed, a Prussian breakthrough today is unlikely.
Overview of battle from northwest
With time growing short in this gaming session, we switch from play to commentary on the present state of the battle.  After a number of likely "what if" discussions, we decide to end the game at this point in the action.  As in Game 1, Game 2 ends in a situation reminiscent of the historical battle.  That is, the Prussians have taken the Muhlberg.  The battlefront stabilizes in a line running west to east in a line driving straight through the grund, Kunersdorf, and the lakes and marshes.  Further gains will be unlikely given the large number of Russian reinforcements on its way to bolster the Russian line.   
Battle lines are formed
Was the battle a fun?  Sure!  Was this a reasonable place to cease hostilities and call the game?  I think it was.  This is almost the same situation in which Game 1 ended and agrees with the historical account as well.  We entertained the notion of continuing play on a later date but work schedules and a broken leg dashed those thoughts.  Continued fighting would have only resulted in higher casualties with little ground gained.  Could the Russian Army have been broken?  Unlikely.  The Russians still maintained a huge reserve that was yet to see action.  When I am able to walk around the table again and can stand for awhile, I may move a few pieces around before I clear the table.   

Refighting these big, historical battles provides much to think about and brings accounts in the history books alive.  Add Kunersdorf to the list of SYW battles already tackled on the gaming table.  With Kolin, Mollwitz, Zorndorf, and now Kunersdorf in the books, what is next?   

Lessons Learned:
  • The Battle of Kunersdorf is huge and requires miles of earthworks.
  • Frederick's recon of the battlefield beforehand did not provide a good assessment of either the ground or Russian dispositions.
  • Terrain really dictates the strategy.  The constricting terrain channels Prussian attacks and limits options.
  • Kunersdorf does not offer good cavalry ground with the exception of the plain to the south east of Kunersdorf.  That position, as we saw, is a dangerous position for the Prussians to find themselves.
  • Attacking strong defensive positions is a hard task and preparatory bombardments are ineffective at disrupting defenders protected by earthworks.
  • Large battles can be fought effectively with only two players using Honours of War.
  • We both effectively withdrew damaged units out of the front line to be replaced by fresh troops.  Infantry casualties were much reduced from the first battle.
  • Frederick chose a bad place to pick a fight with an enemy, superior in numbers.
  • While Frederick was quick to criticize the Russian Army and underestimate its fighting capability, he never beat it in battle.  Perhaps it was this hubris that led to the battle of Kunersdorf?
For now, time to return to the painting desk as I can now safely negotiate the stairs on crutches.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Kunersdorf - BatRep 2 Pt 1

After considering the outcome of the First Battle of Kunersdorf (see BatRep: Kunersdorf), the battle was awarded an historical outcome and reset.  Fighting had been fierce in the first battle and cavalry casualties murderous.  The Russian position on the Muhlberg was collapsing but the main Russian positions remained strong.  While the Russian Observation Corps on the Muhlberg was isolated and trapped, Frederick's weakened army was in no condition to follow-up with renewed attacks.
Early positions around the Muhlberg
Even with a replication of the historical battle in miniature neither Jake (Russian) nor I (Prussian) were satisfied with the outcome.  We both counted missed opportunities in the battle.  Could different approaches to the fighting at Kunersdorf yield different results.  Determined to find out, we set to work.
Prussian cavalry negotiates the wetlands
 to break out onto the plain
While bringing the Prussian cavalry under Wurttemberg and Platen on the Prussian left proved indecisive in Game 1 and I wanted to avoid such wastage in Game 2, I fell into the same trap.  With no room to maneuver or bring the might of the Prussian left to bear against the Muhlberg, the Prussian cavalry, once again, threads its way through the lakes and marshes around Kunersdorf.  Repeating the same thing and expecting a different result is crazy, right?
Prussian cavalry taking artillery fire from the heights
As the Left-wing Prussian cavalry picks its way across the waterways, the main Prussian Army lurches into action.  While Finck works his way across the stream on the Prussian right with his large command, Hulsen's First Line of Prussian infantry advances on the waiting Russian Observation Corps entrenched upon the Muhlberg.
Prussians advance on the Muhlberg
As if on the parade ground, Wedel's Prussian infantry forms up into serried ranks of regiments and marches toward the neck of the Muhlberg position.  The noose already looks to be closing around the Russians on the Muhlberg.  Will the Observation Corps be pocketed a second time? 
Prussians envelope the Muhlberg
Casualties begin to mount straight away as the Prussians approach within musketry range.  Will any Prussians remain to carry this formidable position?  Unlike in the prior game, Prussian artillery sees some success in counter battery fire against the Russian batteries masked by their earthworks.
Initial attacks on the Muhlberg
The main Russian Army is not waiting for the Muhlberg to be overwhelmed without succor.  Perhaps uncharacteristically of the Russian lumbering behemoth, the entire Russian Army begins to flow toward the hot spot of battle.  The Observation Corps will need to buy time before any assistance can arrive.
The Russians marching to the rescue
Back on the Muhlberg, the first Prussian attacks go in.  To hinder these Prussian closing attacks, the Russians set fire to the abatis.  Still the Prussians continue, circumventing the blazing abatis where possible to close within close musketry range at several points.
Attacking the Muhlberg
On the far side of the Muhlberg, Schorlemmer's Prussian cavalry move to cut off Russian reinforcements from reaching their already beleaguered comrades.  With the Russian battery situated in the northwest point of the Mulhberg suffering casualties, the abatis is set alight as the battery limbers and withdraws.  Slowed by having to cross the stream, the advance of Schenkendorff's grenadiers is slowed even further when faced with the burning abatis. 
Prussians continue their envelopment
To fill the void left by the Russian battery, Observation Corps grenadiers step up to man the defenses.  Their defensive stand may be short-lived, though, as enemy artillery fire and musketry converge upon their position.
Russians begin to waver
Taking musketry and artillery fire from two fronts, the grenadiers quickly accumulate three hits and begin to waver.  If not for the burning abatis to their front, the grenadiers may be forced to the rear as well.  
Pressure mounts
Despite having a smoldering wall of smoke masking the enemy, the grenadiers pull back from the defenses to rally.  Their absence is immediately filled by a regiment of musketeers.  Also having suffered enough to feel the effects, the battery on the east side of the embankment limbers and withdraws. 
Getting hot on the Muhlberg!
As the envelopment of the Muhlberg continues and the defenders feel more pressure from this constriction and the possibility of reduced avenues of escape, the Prussian left negotiates the marshland and begins to fan out to form a bridgehead. 
Prussian break out onto the plain
Under continuous bombardment from the guns on the heights, the Prussian cavalry deploys to form a buffer for infantry deployment behind.  As the long lines of infantry march through the wetlands, more cavalry await their turn to cross. Thus far, the only enemy harassment has been from the artillery on the distant heights.  Perhaps the Prussian will successfully deploy south of Kunersdorf unchecked?
Bridgehead forms
Looking up from his work guiding cavalry regiments into position, Platen is shocked to see the forces deploying against his small wing.  Facing a half dozen cavalry regiments and nearly a dozen regiments of infantry, the Prussian left may be in for a hard fight.  Along the ridgeline, long lines of Russians can be seen marching towards the Muhlberg.  Will these troops arrive in time to bolster the defenders' resolve to stand?
The enemy awaits
With the noose tightening upon the defenders on the Muhlberg and the Russian right massing against a growing Prussian bridgehead, time is right for a break in the action.

While Prussian and Russian battle plans sought change from the first battle, the terrain channeled the battle plans over familiar ground.  Having attempted to restrain the Prussians from becoming engaged on the far side of the marsh, that restraint failed.  Terrain dictated strategy.  The Prussians crossed over to the plain beyond to gain some breathing room.  The situation at this point in the battle closely resembles the situation seen in Game 1.  The major difference is that neither side has yet committed the large cavalry formations to battle.  In Game 1 cavalry casualties were horrendous.  Thus far in Game 2, no cavalry has been lost in high-stakes charges and counter charges.

The Russian Observation Corps, hunkered down on the Muhlberg, seems to be bracing for assault with the expectation that help is on the way.  Can Frederick destroy the Observation Corps before reinforcements arrive?  Can the Observation Corps hold out?  Can the Observation Corps affect an orderly withdrawal to prevent encirclement?  Is a huge cavalry battle imminent on the Prussian left?
To be continued...   

Friday, February 7, 2020

Sometimes, the Little Things Are the Big Things

My experience with vendors and manufacturers in the hobby is that they almost always offer excellent service.  Orders are filled and delivered quickly even from overseas.  I have grown accustomed to this almost universal, first-rate customer service.  OK, there are times when expectations fall short but these instances are few and far between.  Recently a few transactions stand out having surpassed my expectations.  Three of these recent encounters, I highlight below.

Lancashire Games always provides good figures at good value.  Shipping is always quick and communication superb.  Shipping is set to a percentage of total order value as is typical from many UK vendors vendors when shipping to USA.  Sometimes, the postage estimate is off but usually the actual is close to the charged.  On smaller orders, the difference can be exaggerated.  On my last order, however, charged postage was double the posted postage (BP20 vs BP10).  A quick email to Allan and a refund of the postage overage appeared in my PayPal account with a courteous explanation.  Outstanding!          

19th Century Miniatures has been a key supplier for my 1859 project and a small pile of Russian SYW figures.  Turn-around from order to delivery is usually within two weeks.  In the past when receiving figures that were not properly cast, figures were replaced without question.  The transaction I describe to today goes above and beyond my expectations.  What happened?

In mid-summer 2019, 19th Century Miniatures announced a new line of French for the French Revolutionary War.  Always interested in sampling new figures for possible inclusion into my 1799 project, I ordered a number of bags of infantry and cavalry.  When the order arrived, the figures looked good but some sculpts were not as crisp as expected.  One noticeable attribute of the infantry was that some of the legs seemed rather thin.  I thought not much about the casting quality since no figures had yet pushed into the painting queue.  Three dozen were primered but were left to linger.

In December, I received an email stating that the French infantry neither met their sculpting expectations nor quality control.  To rectify the situation, they offered to replace any infantry purchased from the new FRW line for free.  After a couple of email exchanges, a box of replacement French infantry is on its way.  I look forward to comparing the old sculpts with the new replacements.  Awesome customer care, right?   
Finally, a recent ebay purchase arrived in a less than pristine state.  The postal box received some rough handling in transit.  Had the contents been well-packaged, I expect no damage to have occurred.  As it was, the game was simply put into the USPS Priority box with no packing materials.  While I still rated the seller highly in all categories, I noted the packaging shortfall in my comments.  Less than a week later, an envelope arrived with the game, Merrill's Marauders (MM), and an apology.  Very commendable gesture and certainly a surprise.

With little interest in this WWII theater, I put the game aside.  Only this week was the game pulled out, read, and put on the table for a game.  As a solitaire game, MM is terrific and perfect for someone restricted to play on the kitchen table while a broken leg mends.  Expect to see a review of this little gem soon.

Seems I recall one more example of going above and beyond but that transaction fails my memory for now.  I am sure others have experienced similar levels of commitment from vendors.