Wednesday, April 29, 2020

German Advisors in Cuba, 1898

While rummaging through the Spanish-American War section of The Lead Pile to dig out some Spanish infantry, I came across a half-pack of German maxim machine gun and crew.  A gun and three crew is an easy job to tackle in a midweek, evening painting session.  These "advisors" may offer just the expertise to help the Spanish fend off attacks from those vile, Yankee aggressors.  The machine gun vignette in 25mm is from Old Glory as a Fantasy Pack. 
The gaming table is still idle anticipating both a potential Spanish-American War scenario on two-thirds of the table and a grid-based WWII scenario that is slowing coming together on the remaining third.  Will these German advisors and gun make an appearance in the jungles of Cuba?  Unlikely, but one never knows.

Talk about coincidence.  I had these Germans on the painting desk last week when Jake posted an update on his SAW project (see: I finally SAW another project...).  In among his parade review was the American version of the Spanish Fantasy Pack.  That is, Americans with maxim machine gun.

While the Spanish contingents have a handful of mounted officers, my Americans are leaderless.  Mixed in with a large bag of American riff-raff that I picked up second hand are several mounted American officers.  I ought to throw these fine fellows into the painting queue.  Maybe some more Spanish infantry for good measure.  The last bag of Spanish infantry in the stockpile contains the always sharply attired Spaniards in tropical dress with sun helmet.  Dashing lads, those!   

Monday, April 27, 2020

15th Legere in 28mm

The skirmisher stand featured in the prior post describing my skirmisher reorganization efforts was a precursor to today's painting desk offering. The parent battalion for that pair of skirmishers musters off the desk as the 15th Legere Battalion.  Figures are Front Rank.  Robust figures with very little flash, Front Rank Napoleonics are always a pleasure to paint.
It was during the work on this battalion that I contemplated my present skirmisher situation.  Should skirmishers remain an abstraction in the rules or revert to an explicit skirmisher function?  Do I really want to tackle rebasing all of my skirmishers?  After completing the 15th, the two skirmishers were pulled aside for a trial.  To ease my mind into the new thought process, the two skirmishers for the 15th were based upon the hex stand.  After painting, flocking, and tufting the stand, I decided this was the proper way forward.  Many hours later, the task was finished.   
    
Here is another photo of the skirmisher stand taken at a slightly different angle from the photo shown in the previous post.
What this exercise demonstrates is that I can be easily distracted from the task at hand.  What began as fielding one more French legere battalion for the project took a sharp turn into a rethink and rebasing of all of the skirmishers present and fit for duty.  With initial intention only to add one more battalion, those plans were confounded by rebasing nearly 100 individual skirmishers into pairs.  In addition, a dozen new skirmishers needed to be pushed into the painting queue to bring all of the battalions up to the proper complement of skirmishers.  Sometimes, I make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Skirmisher Reorg

Rebasing and reorganization, the bane to many.  Me?  It is nothing.  Well, almost nothing.

Since my 28mm Napoleonic project confines itself to actions in the Iberian Peninsula, not a lot of different nationalities or troops are needed.  I rarely field more than 20 infantry battalions per side.  Therefore, tackling a rebasing project is not too onerous.   

The question some may ask is, "why rebase and reorganize at all?" Reasonable question.

The main reason for undertaking this activity is that my battalion-level (where a BMU is one battalion, two squadrons, or a section of artillery) rules have evolved over the years.

The first rules' iteration saw no company skirmisher deployments out from the parent battalion.  After much play with that scheme, I decided this level of action ought to include the ability to deploy skirmishers and have skirmisher interactions as a part of the battle narrative.

That decision resulted in fielding two skirmisher 'markers' for line battalions and four skirmisher markers for light battalions.  Each skirmisher marker was represented by one, singly mounted skirmisher.  This version of the rules allowed for opposed and unopposed skirmisher actions.  It worked but I found moving so many individual markers and conducting combat between the skirmishers was tedious and slowed play.

My dissatisfaction resulted in removing individual skirmishers entirely and abstracting their value into the parent's combat effectiveness.  No more skirmisher markers.  This situation worked well, sped play, and simplified combat resolution.  Still, I had this large pile of painted skirmishers that was leftover from the previous version.  It seemed wasteful not to bring the skirmishers back into the game.  This realization led to the current iteration of the rules with respect to skirmishers.   
Reorg/rebased British and allies
Under the current (and final?) iteration of the rules, each battalion receives one two-figure skirmisher stand.  This helps to solve the problem I faced in the second iteration of having too many markers to move and fight.  Wherein line battalions had two skirmisher stands and light battalions four before, now all infantry fields one two-figure stand.  Differentiation between the capabilities between light and line is resolved through varying the skirmisher stand's intrinsic combat effectiveness.  Skirmish markers continue with the notion of opposed vs unopposed combat but light battalions do so with more efficiency since their numbers are greater.
Reorg/rebased French and allies
Of course, I kept fielding new battalions throughout these different rules' iterations.  Units fielded during the "no skirmisher" phase, had no separate skirmisher figures painted.  This necessitated going back and painting about a dozen skirmishers in total before this reorg could be completed.  Luckily, for better or worse, my painting style never seems to change much so the new recruits fit in with their more veteran brethren.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Eggmühl - A Battlefield Walk


April 21-22 marks the 211th anniversary of the battle of Eggmühl.  To commemorate this event, I dipped into past travel photos to refresh the memories from my visit.   

I visited Eggmühl as a half-day trip out of Regensburg (see A Stroll Around Regensburg) during our two week visit to Bavaria and the Tirol in May 2018.  Oh, the days of travel.  I remember them fondly.  Two trips have been cancelled thus far this Spring: one to Texas and one to Switzerland.  

Not interested in an early morning battlefield exploration and claiming she wanted to find a laundromat to wash some clothes, I left Nancy at the hotel and departed for Eggmühl on an early morning train.  While I do not remember the train timetable, I recall the trip being no more than 20 minutes from Regensburg train station to Eggmühl.  The train station itself is unattended with the town fire station backing up to the track.  
Not far from the station is the Lion Monument commemorating the 1809 battle.  Flanking both sides of the park are a series of placades describing both the operational aspects of the campaign and battle details.
 The informational markers include some useful maps to help me find my bearings.
The train station and Lion Monument sit on high ground with the village of Eggmühl below in what was once the lowland water meadows.  Before I dropped down onto the road to Eggmühl, I surveyed my surroundings.  To the northwest, the white steeple of Unterlaichling can be seen beyond the treeline in the distance.  On the 22nd, St. Hilaire's division, led by the 10th Legere, attacked Austrian positions defending in Unterlaichling.
Unterlaichling in the distance
To the west, the spire of the church of Schierling can be seen.  Due to urban growth, the view to Eggmühl was obscured from my vantage point.  For a glimpse of Eggmühl, I would need to walk in a northeasterly direction along a narrow road through a minor industrial area. 
Schierling in the distance
The Vorberg
Bettelberg in the distance
On the way to the village I crossed over the bridge spanning the Gross Laaber.  While a modern bridge has replaced the 1809 bridge, it was this important crossing at which the Peterwardein Grenz put up a stiff resistance to early French attacks.  The grenz repulsed the first two assaults by Württemberg light infantry.  The third assault by the König Jägers successfully pushed the Austrians out.  Many of the remaining grenz were surrounded and captured in Eggmühl.
Gross Laaber looking east
Gross Laaber looking west
The Gross Laaber may not appear as a huge obstacle but the soft ground surrounding the stream and the muddy bottom likely presented a formidable barrier to attacking troops.

Having passed over the bridge, the road curves to the east and enters Eggmühl.  First into view is the church adjoining the imposing Schloss.  With onion-shaped spire, the church presents typical Bavarian architecture.
Schloss Eggmühl is now a retirement home.  From the outside, the chateau still dominates the landscape.  A steep earthen berm surrounds the southern approaches to the chateau.  The building, itself, is built upon a brick foundation rising above the water meadow.  
Schloss Eggmühl
The last building of note in the village is the inn.  While closed on my early morning visit, the building seems to house a restaurant and souvenir shop.  Adorned with murals, the inn definitely has the feel of a tourist destination. 
Eggmühl Inn
One end of the inn has the mural below marking this important event.  The painting depicts the meeting of Davout and Napoleon at the chateau.
With my walk of Eggmühl complete, I retraced my steps back to the train station.  On the way back, I paid a second visit to the Lion Monument before heading to the train platform.  
Lion Monument
After boarding the train, I selected a seat on the left side of the carriage so that I could focus on the expansive views of the rolling hills of the Vorberg and Bettleberg as they receded into the distance.  Back into Regensburg before noon and hungry, I had a chance to pick over the remaining morsels on the hotel's breakfast buffet.  This was a good day out.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Rocks of Sharon

Thursday afternoon, with cloudless skies and temperatures near 60F, Nancy and I set out for a hike in the Rocks of Sharon conservation area a few miles from our home.  Rocks of Sharon?  That is strange name for a geologic formation consisting of a collection of boulders capping a 3,600 foot ridgeline on Tower (Krell) Mountain and spanning about two-thirds of a mile.  A bit of local history...

The Rocks of Sharon seemingly gained its name around the early 1900s.  To get away from the city, Spokanites would head out of town on the electric railroad for weekend picnics.  One stop on the railway between Spokane and Pullman was at the Sharon store south of Krell Mountain.   Weekend picnickers would get off at the Sharon store stop and hike up the mountain and into the rocks for a day trip.  The railroad and store are long gone.  The name, Sharon, remains.

From the trailhead on the south end of the conservation area, it is a walk of about two-thirds of a mile to the base of Big RockBig Rock protrudes about 100 feet from the ground and it is big!

With an elevation change of about 800 feet and gradients of up to 34%, the last trek up to the base of Big Rock is steep.  Very steep!  The area is honeycombed with trails so a direct assault upon Big Rock is not necessary.  Less strenuous options to reach the peak are available.
Steep hike to Big Rock
Almost to base of Big Rock
Big Rock
Besides hiking the many trails, Rocks of Sharon offer a number of varied rock climbing challenges too.  With over 60 routed climbs, the area offers much for the climber.  If interested in the climbing on tap at Rocks of Sharon, visit, Mountain Project. 
Nancy and Kona resting after the climb
The Hole in the Wall can just be seen in the background of the photo above.  A close up of this curiosity is shown in detail below. 
Hole in the wall
At an altitude of about 3,600 ft, views from the site are inspiring.  From the summit, the expanse of the Palouse unfolds beneath your feet.
Views of the Palouse looking south

Big Rock with Palouse in the distance
More rock outcroppings
Another view of Big Rock
The hike to Rocks of Sharon was quite enjoyable given the current situation of social distancing.  While there were other groups of hikers in the area, everyone maintained the 'proper' social distancing protocols.  A pleasant afternoon's distraction and a fun adventure.  A short adventure we will tackle again.  The only downside is that my mending ankle was swollen and sore upon our return to town.  This morning, the ankle is stiff.  Hopefully, cycling this afternoon will improve flexibility.

Note: Blogger is playing games with some photos.  Photos may appear as missing when viewed from select platforms.  When I view as a webpage on either pc or iPhone, the images appear.  When viewed from a mobile version (iPhone or iPad), some images are missing.  Google support is aware of the problem and is working on a fix.  See https://support.google.com/blogger/thread/40768994?hl=en
Hopefully this will be corrected soon...

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Old Glory 15's FRW French Infantry

Off the painting desk today are three battalions of French Line infantry for the 1799 project.  Each battalion has 13 figures.  The mounted colonel is a product of AB.  The foot figures are sourced from Old Glory 15s.  These troops muster out as the 8th Demi-Brigade. 

Old Glory 15s/19th Century Miniatures released a number of packs for their growing French Revolutionary Wars range in summer of 2019.  Without doubt, I ordered a number of packs to expand my 1799 project.  When I received the figures, I was underwhelmed by the sculpting on the infantry but was happy to add more variety to the project.  Still, I put the handful of bags away to paint another day.  
Figures are a bit spindly with thin legs and bayonets.  The infantry give the impression of hard campaigners who have marched too many miles and missed too many meals.  Scrawny little fellows.  Given their condition, I wonder how they might endure the rigors of campaigning on the tabletop.  Although wobbly at the ankles, my basing scheme ought to provide sufficient protection for the unit as a whole. 

At the end of 2019, Old Glory 15s announced that the French infantry would be replaced with new sculpts.  Those purchasing figures of the Mk I variety could request replacements for free.  Without hesitation, I sent off an email requesting replacement of my June order.  I few weeks later, the figures arrived.

As seen from the figures below, the new figures are much more robust than the Mk I releases.  Bayonets and legs are now solidly built.  Sculpting quality is improved as well.
The arrival of replacements provided the motivation needed to try my hand at painting the original sculpts.  The results are satisfactory but somewhat rough.  Will they hold up to the demands of the gaming table?  Time will tell.  For comparison, I ought to push a similar number of the new sculpts into the painting queue although the queue, at present, is quite long.   

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Distractions

Distractions.  Many experience the same, I am sure.  A painting plan is set in mind.  A vow is sworn to stick to it.  Spontaneously, attention veers off into another direction.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Sound familiar?

Such is the situation today.  

Having made a pledge to myself to lay down a dozen element Hittite Army for 2020, the first quarter of the year saw no progress on that task.  Elements from a number of projects have crossed the painting desk during the first quarter of 2020 but no such Hittites.  Until last week, that is.  I finally set to work on two handfuls of archers for this new army.  Only just started, I was almost immediately distracted by a series of Chain of Command games presented on a couple of very good blogs.  The Tactical Painter's blog is a wealth of CoC information and engaging battle reports.   One can learn a lot about employing proper tactics by reviewing these battle reports.  Similarly, Musings on Wargaming and Life, has been focusing, of late, on CoC and Bolt Action solo actions.  Great stuff all!  My distractions are justified, I think.

WWII CoC is not the only recent distraction.  Blunders on the Danube has been parading a seemingly never-ending stream of 28mm Napoleonics from his workbench.  Sigh.  Yet again distracted.  Why not push a battalion of 28mm French legere into the painting queue?  Yeah, that's what I need!  Coupled with the reorganization and rebasing of all of the skirmishers for my 28mm Peninsular War project, Hittites are pushed farther back into the queue.           
To satisfy the CoC urge, a WWII gun and crew jumped into the painting queue ahead of the Hittites.  Off the painting desk today is a German 75mm Infantry Gun by Black Tree Design.  The 75mm IG is a nice model characteristic of BTD's WWII range.  Will this piece ever see action on the gaming table?  I don't know.  If needed, there it will be.  OK.  Back to some Hittite work.

What is your latest hobby distraction?

Friday, April 10, 2020

Cycling the Palouse - Springtime!

Having survived a long winter, a face damaging fall in December, a broken leg in January, and in the midst of negotiating the throes of a pandemic, I finally tempted fate and took to the roads of the Palouse for a 25 mile spin.  Confined first to indoor cycling at the gym until closed by the virus and then to the turbo trainer in the garage, mild temperatures and plenty of sun were finally too much to resist.  With midday temperatures in the low 50s F, a cloudless horizon, and a left foot that I could now almost painlessly unclip from the pedal, I set off for the first ride of the year.  
Even though temperatures were in the mid 50's, the sun beating down upon my back and face made the air temperature seem warmer than expected.  Once I warmed up, the ride was most pleasant.  Riding through shade covered roads was still a bit chilly but only momentarily.  Back into the sunlight, all was right again.
The first ride of the season is always a test of fitness for both man and machine.  Did I train sufficiently over the winter such that I was not enveloped in pain and gasping for air upon outdoor exertion?  Indeed, I passed that test.  Still a bit heavier than I prefer and recovering from an injury, effort was easier than expected.
Climbing at gradients above 8% put pressure on the still swollen ankle.  Standing up, out of the saddle while climbing gave the sensation of some pain and less power than normal.  All seemed to be working satisfactorily for both man and machine, though.  Good enough for the first ride outdoors and a still healing leg.
Today was a great pleasure to be back outside on the bike once again.  Spring has arrived on the Palouse!  

Given a shelter-in-place order (solo exercise excluded), traffic was heavier than expected although these photos show no traffic.  Clearly, either some are ignoring the mandate or many work in jobs that are deemed essential.  My work, while not essential, continues unchanged but remotely.  No holiday for me but today seems a fitting reward.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Telamon Not

Having pushed a dozen Celtic warbands through the painting queue in 2019, my goal was to field enough forces to recreate the Battle of Telamon.  The fielding of forces goal was accomplished.  I even deployed the armies onto the gaming table.  What happened then we all can see unfolding before our eyes.  Quarantine, lockdown, and shelter-in-place are now commonplace and almost universal. 
Celts back-to-back
Elements of Regulus' Roman army
Given the current situation, I decided to clear the table of the Telamon armies and consider a tabletop game more conducive to solo play.  Could I have fought Telamon solo?  Sure.  With the large battle size and To the Strongest! the rules of choice, I decided to save Telamon for a day when my comrades could gather around the table once again.
Cavalry clash on Poggio Ospedaletto
Aemilius' army looks upon the Celtic hordes to its north
Elements of Aemilius' army
As a taste of what might have been, below are the deployments of the troops for battle.  I take the position that the cavalry battle was fought on the western side of the battlefield upon the Poggio Ospedaletto.  Some hold the cavalry clash took place on the right.  The Celts find themselves sandwiched between two Roman armies.  At least each Celtic force has its rear covered!  Still, the Celts fight to prevent extermination.
Telamon Battlefield
But Telamon is for a another day when the world returns toward normalcy.  While I await that day, perhaps the Telamon armies could be augmented?  A couple of additional Celtic chariots would be nice and I have two lingering in The Lead Pile.  An increase in the Roman armies might be useful too.  Unfortunately, no Roman heavy infantry remain in inventory.  Perhaps, an Aventine restock is in order?  While some UK manufacturers are still shipping to the USA, not all are during the current crisis.

What will replace Telamon?  How about something more tropical and topical since two elements of Spanish infantry for the Spanish-American War recently mustered from the painting desk?
What do you suppose will be happening down there on the table? 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Few More SAW Spanish Infantry

The second half bag of Old Glory Spanish infantry made it across the painting desk.  These fifteen figures are outfitted in the same slightly faded, blue-grey rayadillo uniform as their recent predecessors.  Pushing the 30-figure bag of 25mm figures into the painting queue was a pleasant change of pace.  The figures are large and carry not much equipment.  The simple uniform allows quick completion of 30 figures.  The standard bearer awaits his standard from the depot. 

Mixing in a few easier to paint figures is an effective way to mitigate painting burn-out.  While I rarely experience such a malady, figure rotation is my method for keeping this lurking monster at bay.
Remaining on topic of the SAW project, on a recent archaeology expedition into The Lead Pile, my efforts brought to the surface a number of unopened bags, half-used bags, and several bags filled with a mish-mash of figures.  New bags included two more bags of Spanish infantry (one in jipijapa hats like today's figures, the other in tropical sun helmet), two bags of US infantry, and a bag of US commanders.  In the leftover bags, I found US artillery and crew, Spanish commanders, US Marines, and a huge ziplock bag of miscellaneous figures.  The latter I picked up secondhand at a bargain price.  I should be able to cobble together at least one more US Marine BMU and one of Cuban rebels.  Included in this secondhand bag are at least two dozen Moros.  While I have no plans to expand this project to the Philippines, these figures may be of use for something else. 

Much variety remains in work at the workbench.  Fielding two units from the same period (as in the SAW project of late), seems a rarity.  Expect more 15mm units coming off the painting desk including WWII vehicles, Feudal Japanese, 1859 artillery, and SYW Bavarians.  Rebasing of the 28mm Napoleonic skirmishers continues.  The skirmishers for all combatants are almost finished.  During the reorg and rebasing, several addition British and French figures need to be painted to round out a battalion or two.  Oh, I began work on a Hittite army in 25mm too!     

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Tigers at Minsk - Takes 2-5

Following my first attempt at Tigers at Minsk, (see: Tigers at Minsk - First Play) and having given force placement and plans of attack some thought, I returned to the table.

While the Germans came close to reaching the French baseline, the last-gasp, German section was cut down before it could make a successful exit from the board.  With that close call, I figured the German player might have a good chance of winning the scenario.

With only a handful of units in the game, initial deployments are critical and loss minimization paramount.  Given the small size of the game and lack of covering terrain, few viable options present themselves for force set up.

For the French, I see only one real option for deployment.  The wire must go in the hex on the far left of the French line to block a German section from sneaking to the baseline under the cover of the scrub.  Each village hex gets one HMG and one infantry section.  No other option seems reasonable.  The village provides cover and the infantry sections provide support for the HMGs.  With this deployment, all French troops are in command every turn.

For the Germans, set up must be in and behind the three woods hexes.  How the German forces are deployed is up to the player.  One force could represent a main attack and the other secondary with troops deployed accordingly.  However the Germans deploy, if in two groups centered on the woods, only one group will be in automatic command each turn.  The other group will need initiative to act.

Given the French have the First Turn, the German player cannot afford to stack his troops within LOF at start.   In this game, I deployed the Germans as two and five with the bulk of the Germans on the right.
Initial deployments
German right with two sections in reserve and out of LOS
 On to the game!
French opens up on the German HMG
 pinning the supporting infantry
German HMG provides covering fire as infantry advances
 on the right under the cover of smoke.
French infantry is pinned in the village.
Under cover of smoke,
advance on the German right continues.
  French pour fire into the HMG hex, pinning the gun while
a German section moves up in support.
The smoke clears and French fire opens up.
One German section KIA and a second pinned.
German HMG returns fire into the village
 hoping to weaken the defenders 
The firefight continues as one section in the woods is KIA.
Infantry section advancing under cover of smoke escapes,
 for now.
With smoke gone, the advancing Germans
are cut down in the open.
Coming up to support the HMG,
 another German section is KIA.
With four units destroyed, the German morale breaks and the remnants of this dismal affair withdraw.

This was a quick battle and barely consumed 30 minutes on the game clock.  With the French hunkered down in the two villages and clear lines of supporting fire to the German positions, the German attack seems doomed.

Was it the dice?  Die rolls were average with few extremes.  Given French firepower, almost two hits per turn can be expected even when firing into cover.  I set up the game again with same starting positions.  The result?  The same.  This time, the Germans broke in about 15 minutes.

I tried two more games, all ended in the same result.  I tried putting more force on the German left.  I tried reinforcing the woods hexes at the outset.  All ended in brutal German defeats. 
A different German deployment
With the French commanding the central position, intersecting Lines of Fire, and the First Player turn, this scenario seems very difficult for the Germans.  Perhaps since the Germans are attacking, they should be awarded the First Player turn?   Still, an engaging action. 

Thoughts?