Thursday, April 29, 2021

Northumberland's Battle in 28mm

Off the painting desk today is the second Battle in my fledgling WotR project.  This time, it is Henry Percy's Battle.  Like William Stanley's Battle before it, this force musters in at 52 figures in three lines.  Fifty-two figures is a lot for me to tackle in one tranche.  The 24 archers seem to take forever.  Figures are Perry Miniatures' 28mm plastics. 

With a second Battle fielded, I can actually conduct some one Battle vs one Battle trials of my own with Richard's Battle Commander rules.  A third Battle is in work.  Next up will be Edward IV but other units for other projects will muster out before Edward's troops can be finished up.

Remote gaming continues with great regularity but not all battles have generated their own battle report here.  Some of the recent games without my full accounting are:

Knights of the Sky
Ancient Sumeria
Fortunately, Graham, has a Battle Report for each of these engagements at Wargaming4grownups.

Speaking of fortune, I scored a number of wargames over the last ten days at a local auction house.  Evidently, a local gamer recently retired and decided to unload his wargame collection.  What?  Who would consider such an action?  My eagle-eyed wife, Nancy, spotted the cache and rushed back home to fetch me.  Well, over several visits as the prices were steadily reduced, I picked up a nice cache of hex-and-counter games to add to my own wargame collection.  Hopefully, mine does not end up in an auction house.  I will report on my loot in another post.     

To round out this update, I am working on a scenario for the continuing AWI battles using Rebels and Patriots as Matt and I fight our way through the war.  Likely up next will be a recreation of a portion of the Battle for Long Island where Grant attacks Alexander (Lord Stirling) along the Gowanus Road.  The Americans will once again be on the defense but, for the first time, the Gowanus Road action will see the Americans outnumbered in open battle.  I envision Long Island battle being divided into three actions.   

Monday, April 26, 2021

28mm Great Italian Wars Parade

When the latest gendarmes for the Italian Wars project mustered out from the painting desk almost one week ago, I suggested this might present a good opportunity to pull the collection from its boxes and array these colorful figures out onto the table.  I kept my word.

With the gaming table clear, the collection is out on the reviewing grounds.  By my count, the collection now fields the following figure counts:
  • Artillery: 6 guns and 24 crew
  • Infantry: 501 foot
  • Cavalry: 77 horse

After playing a few games with Jake's Italian Wars collection more than six years ago, I became interested in fielding my own army for contests against Jake.  About the same time, I received an email from fellow blogger Phil at Toy Soldiers Studio asking if I would be interested in a few of his figures.  My Great Italian Wars collection got its initial boost with a purchase of figures from Phil's talented hand.  I remember the great thrill of unboxing the long box of figures that arrived shortly thereafter.

Jon and Phil Refighting Zama

Well a couple of weeks' ago, Phil said he would be in town on a cross-state trip and asked if I had time for a brief visit.  Of course, I did!  Not only did I have a chance to show Phil around the game room but we managed to sneak in a game of Commands & Colors Ancients with my 6mm collection before he departed for another commitment.

Anyway, on to the parade review!

Seems a shame to array the troops for battle without a fight.  Perhaps I will put some of these troops through maneuvers?

Friday, April 23, 2021

How Often Do We Game?

One of the new questions added into the 2020 Great Wargaming Survey was a question regarding gaming frequency.  Being an occasional gamer, I often wondered how frequently others set aside time for gaming.  In the best of times, I could manage, maybe, one game per month.  Often gaming was even less frequent than monthly.

So how frequently do the respondents from the survey game?  Today's analysis examines total responses by gaming frequency with breakouts by Primary Interest, Age Group, and Location.

Total Counts by Gaming Frequency
First up is a summary of total respondent counts by gaming frequency.  The totals suggest that weekly gaming is, by far, the most popular gaming interval.  Monthly gaming is a distant second.  Until my switch to remote gaming during COVID and my own past experience, I figured weekly gaming was unattainable.  Who is able to game on a weekly basis?  Well, according to the survey, plenty of gamers do! 
Now that weekly gaming is identified as the preferred gaming frequency for many, time to drill down into the data to examine if a few attributes can provide any insight into this result.

Gaming Frequency by Primary Interest
What does the survey suggest with respect to gaming frequency and primary interest?  The results suggest that "Mixed" wargamers, on balance, game more frequently than the two groups that specialize in either fantasy/sci-fi (non-historical) or historical gaming.  Historical wargamers tend to game more frequently than non-historical gamers.  Non-historical wargamers tend to choose "infrequently" gaming more often than other groups.  I suppose it could be argued that "infrequently" may mean different intervals to different gamers.  Across all groups, roughly 30% of wargamers game on a weekly basis.  

Gaming Frequency by Age Group
What if the data are segmented by Age Group?  The survey results suggest that weekly wargaming sees a monotonically increasing march in percentage as one ages.  Not a surprising result given that younger wargamers likely have more competing demands on their time.  Notably, about 32% of gamers in the 21-40 age groups game less frequently than monthly. 

Gaming Frequency by Location
Does a wargamer's location influence gaming frequency?  This is an interesting question.  What do the survey results suggest?  While I was surprised to discover that about 30% of gamers participate in weekly games, bifurcating results by location was the biggest surprise. 

Of the respondents from Continental Europe/Scandinavia, only about 23% of the gamers game on a weekly frequency.  For the Australia/New Zealand and USA/Canada respondents, about 30% marked weekly gaming as their gaming interval.  For UK/Ireland wargamers, 36% listed weekly as a gaming frequency.  Compared to the rest of the world, wargamers in the UK/Ireland game a lot!  This result may be due, in part, to the relative size of the countries and the availability of club wargaming groups.
  • Contrary to my own wargaming experience, weekly wargaming intervals are not unusual.  In fact, about 30% of respondents wargame on a weekly basis.
  • When results are segmented by primary interest, gamers with broad interests of both historicals and non-historicals tend to game more frequently than do gamers that hold specific interests in either historicals or fantasy/sci-fi.  
  • Segmenting results by age group, the results suggest that gaming frequency increases as one ages.  At least 70% of gamers in all but the youngest age group (20 and under) game no less than once per month.
  • When considering a respondent's location as a factor, about 36% of UK/Ireland wargamers game on a weekly interval.  This is more than any other location.  In contrast, only about 23% of gamers from Continental Europe/Scandinavia tend to game on a weekly basis.
Given the above summaries, where do your gaming habits fit?  Do your own gaming intervals reflect the tendencies of your peers or are these results contrary to your experience in gaming frequency?

For me, the pandemic has pushed me from, at best, a monthly wargamer to a weekly gamer.  In fact, I frequently have more than one game per week. 

Are there other attributes in which to extend this analysis?  For sure.  A few of the possible cross-tabulations could include:
  • Gaming Frequency vs Figure Size
  • Gaming Frequency vs Game Type (skirmish, big battle, scenarios, etc.)
  • Gaming Frequency vs Game Era  
  • Gaming Frequency vs Favorite Hobby Facet (gaming, painting, hanging out with friends, etc.)
I look forward to your feedback.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Papal Gendarmes

With eight (!) games played thus far in April (actually Game #8 is today), mustering of new units out from the painting desk has slowed.  Part of the reason for the slowdown in new units is that one unit in work is a block of 52 WotR figures.  That many figures takes a little longer to work through.  Having that many figures in work, it makes sense to bite off a unit smaller in size in order to keep units moving through the production line.

Given the criterion to push something smaller through the painting queue, trotting off the painting desk today is a five figure BMU of gendarmes from Wargames Foundry.  These horsemen I flagged with a Papal banner from Pete's Flags.  Handsome banner, no?  

With the gaming table clear of most debris, my plan is to pull the Great Italians Wars collection from boxes and put them out for a parade.  Almost exactly two years have passed since the collection was out on parade.  It will be fun to see what progress has been made in two years.  Not much, probably, but enough new units to warrant a parade.
On the remote gaming front, today is set a battle in ancient Sumeria.  One of the likely participants asked if the period gamed would be Ur I, Ur II, or Ur III.  The response?  "It's one of them!"  I spent some time yesterday updating a QRS for the rules to be used in today's game including a number of crib notes to jog my memory during the heat of battle.

On the cycling front, weather is improving on the Palouse.  I made it outdoors on the bike four of the last five days.  When cycling returns to the outdoors, the mileage tends to increase.  This past week was no exception.  I logged 185 miles in the last week.  Very good!  One of the rides included a pass by Fish Lake on the aptly named Fish Lake Trail.  Expect more cycling adventures in the months ahead.
Fish Lake

Friday, April 16, 2021

Drive on Madrid

Graham set up another two-player Spanish Civil War scenario for his For Whom the Dice Rolls rules.  I would be commanding a Nationalist column of crack troops intent on securing two towns and a critical bridge on the drive to Madrid.  The success of the offensive would depend upon how quickly my column could secure these objectives to protect the army's left flank.  Ahead of the game, I was provided with my OB and an aerial photo of the area of operations.  I was also given the possibility of having limited air support.
Aerial recon of the Area of Operations
My force would be attacking from the west toward the two towns and bridge with orders to take all three objectives with all haste.  Of the Republicans dispositions, I knew little.  Limited intel suggested that militia was on the way in strength to thwart my attack.  While the aerial reconnaissance identified no enemy opposition, my hunch was that the towns would likely be enemy held.

How did the battle play out?  Please read on.

As my force approached the area of operations, the town nearest the bridge was already in enemy hands.  The town on the left was soon to be occupied by enemy militia.  With two of the objectives already in enemy control, what was my plan?

My plan included advancing the Legion up the middle to prevent the militia in the far left town (top of photo) from reinforcing the enemy center and to support the Moroccan attacks upon the central town.  To begin, my artillery targets the occupied town and begins a barrage as my troops advance.
The Legion and one Tabor of Moroccans advance into cover and begin to deploy.  The second Tabor moves swiftly to the edge of the town and debusses while the town's occupants are under bombardment.
The Tabor at the town prepares to attack by forming up into a firing line.  A third militia battalion advances to the riverbank and enfilades the Moroccans as they prepare to attack.  The Moroccans suffer light casualties from the militia but carry on with little concern for the security of their exposed flank.
Photo courtesy
The Legion is the target of an enemy airstrike.  While the attack results in pinning the Legion, casualties are light.  Whew!
The Nationalist barrage lifts as the Moroccans go in.  In a very lopsided firefight, the militia are cut down where they stand.  The militia battalion dissolves.  The Moroccans take the town.  As the Moroccans are securing the town, they take more fire from the militia across the river.
When the barrage lifts, the Moroccans attack!
Photo courtesy
With the town secure, the first Tabor advances quickly from its covering position and works its way to the right of the town.  A Nationalist ground strike comes in over the battlefield strafing the militia on the far bank. 
Photo courtesy
Shocked by this attack, the militia retreats back.  Unfortunately for this militia, a second wave of fighters appears overhead and strafes them a second time.  Ouch!
With one town secured and the supporting militia driven back, the Legion advances upon the far town.
Having set the Legion in motion toward the town, artillery is redirected to target and soften the defenders up before an attack can go in.  Before the artillery rains down, the Legion deploys into firing line and gives the defenders a bit of softening up themselves. 
As the barrage lifts, the Legion strikes.  Having recovered from the double air strike, the enemy militia moves forward toward the river.
Unfortunately, the Legion's assault on the distant town is repulsed with light casualties to both.  Meanwhile, having set up a strong defensive
 position, the Moroccans in the town begin concentrating their fire upon the approaching militia.
At the far town, the Legion goes back in to contend with its stubborn defenders.  The first Tabor moves up to the river discovering that it is crossable.

Casualties mount!
Photo courtesy
The Legion's second attack is no contest and the defenders are butchered in the confines of the town.  The second objective falls.  The first Tabor crosses the river and attacks the militia.  This battalion, too, is destroyed in the open field.  With three of the four Republican battalions tasked with the defense destroyed, the Civil Guard abandons its position.  Battle won by the Nationalists.

Well, that was a short, sharp action!  While the battle account may make this scenario appear as a walk-over, it was not.  Graham had terrible luck with his firing dice.  In the rules, hits accumulate for each '6' rolled.  At one point, 39 D6s rolled without having any 6s appear.  Zero for 39! Soon thereafter, another 39 D6s rolled only two hits.  Graham retired those dice!  

As a two-player game, this played in about two hours.  Action was quick and in many cases, decisive.  When proper tactics are employed on the miniature battlefield and produce expected and historical results, the system generating those results is solid.  The proper interaction and coordination between infantry, artillery, and air have an elegant beauty to behold.

Fun game!  

For Graham's perspective on the battle and many more terrific close-up photos, please visit, With The Legion In Spain.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Action at Great Bridge, DEC1775

photo courtesy
In Matt's quest to fight his way through the American War of Independence in chronological order, his next scenario recreates the action at Great Bridge in December, 1775.  This is an action to which I was completely unfamiliar but turned out into a nifty little battle.

Matt drafted a scenario, OB, and map, and provided the particulars before the day of battle.  As expected from Matt, his table layout was exquisite.  Very tranquil setting, no?

photo courtesy
photo courtesy

In prior installments in this series of battles, the British have often found themselves attacking the Rebels.  Frontal attacks against defenders in Rebels & Patriots have proven quite hazardous.  Many a British attack has met with disaster.  Given the string of American victories and Matt setting the stage, I figured we may see a different situation and a different outcome.  Well, the situation was familiar.  That is, British infantry attacking prepared defenses.  Not only that but the British assault must pass over a narrow causeway to reach the Colonials.  The Americans were all downgraded to "Green."  That should help, right?

The Americans begin with a picket skirmish line out on the causeway with two militia up on the heights.  The Culpeper militia are sharpshooters.  The remaining American forces are still encamped beyond the town.  No one expects a British assault across the causeway. 
As the British light infantry advances on the causeway, it comes under fire by both sharpshooters up on the embankment and skirmishers on the causeway.
In the approach up the causeway, the lights take heavy casualties and are disordered.  
The grenadiers are brought forward to brush the Rebels aside.  This should be easy.
The grenadiers charge the skirmishers.  Failing to evade the oncoming grenadiers, the skirmishers hold their ground.  In an uneven fight the skirmishers are scattered although the grenadiers suffer some casualties.
The victorious and confident grenadiers march up the slope toward the barricades.
Not so fast!  Scattering the American picket clears fire lanes from both militia. Taking heavy casualties, the grenadiers turn tail and break for the rear and the safety of the bridge.  
Next, the remnants of the light infantry are pushed forward along the causeway as American reinforcing militia arrive to man the barricades.  Rebel fire sends the lights to the rear as well.  What is left of the British attacking force?  Two units of Loyalists.  
The loyalty of the Loyalists is called into question as they fail to activate, stalled on the causeway.  This pause allows the Rebels an opportunity to pour more fire into their ranks.
Seeing the last Loyalist formation off, the Virginians hop over the barricades and give chase to the fleeing troops.  As in the historical engagement, the British attack is repulsed with heavy losses while the American defenders barely suffer a scratch.  This fight lasted a little longer than the historical action at about 90 minutes.

Even rating the Americans as Green was not enough to offset the disadvantage of launching frontal assaults upon prepared positions.  The British enjoyed two Independent Fire missions from rolling double sixes.  Both of these off-table assets directed against the Culpeper sharpshooters was not enough to silence those pesky and accurate riflemen.  After the battle, discussion on play balance included adding a second unit of British grenadiers into the mix.  Attacking on a narrow front is a very risky proposition especially under R&P rules.  Battle for Great Bridge has potential as an excellent solo exercise since the defenders defend while the attackers can try various tactics to overcome the odds.

Be sure to check out Matt’s blog (Battle of Great Bridge) for his perspective on the battle and some better photos.

Next up in the series:  Battles for Long Island.