Thursday, May 19, 2022

Men at Arms Arrive First

The way in which the Perry Miniatures' War of the Roses boxes are configured, I can field one Battle's worth of bill and bow from one box. To complete a Battle, 13 figures from the Men-at-Arms' box are needed.  As the number of Battles grows and my suboptimal planning kicks in, I end up with a surplus of Men-at-Arms figures.

What to do?

Typically, each 52 figure Battle is fielded at one time.  Rather than wait until the next order from Perry arrives, I crack on with the MAA components.  The bill and bow complement will straggle in at a later date. Until those stragglers arrive, work goes forward.

Off the painting desk today are 26 Men-at-Arms figures for two Battles.  These are MAA for Somerset and Clifford.  Flags are Pete's Flags.   

Somerset
Clifford
On the gaming front, Friday sees a return of Commands & Colors Ancients action in 6mm with a revisit to the Battle of Caralis.  Previous battles have been closely contested.  Kevin wants a rematch.  Who am I to say no?

On deck for Monday is the Franco-Austrian War battle of San Martino in 15mm.  While this northern part of the Battle of Solferino has seen action before, I have never hosted it remotely nor on a grid.  There have been some revisions to the rules and scenario to fit the number of players, remote gaming, and a grid.  Actually, a new ruleset will be in play for this action.  More details on the game setup before Monday.

Monday, May 16, 2022

First French Cavalry

Gaming and planning for games are consuming much of my hobby time of late.  Two games (possibly even a third) are scheduled for this week, and I am making preparations to host a remote game on the 23rd.  Given these demands, meaningful painting sessions continue to be few.     
Progress is being made, however.  Off the painting desk is the first French cavalry contingent for the 18mm SYW project.  Mustering out today are two squadrons of French dragoon regiment, La Reine.  Figures are from Eureka Miniatures.  Several more French cavalry units are in work and slowly making their way through the painting queue.
With sights set on getting enough French together to field a viable force for some smaller WAS battles, I still have much work to accomplish.  One battle in mind requires seven cavalry units.  Having only one completed, I need to pick up the pace. 

The Alamo battle mentioned in the previous post, we fought on Saturday.  Scott and I took command of the Mexicans while Tim and Jeff hunkered down behind the palisades of the Alamo.  As seen in the photo below, the Mexicans stormed the defenses early in the second wave and few Texicans escaped.  Bowie and Crockett fell early in the fight. 

WoFun Mexicans clear the Alamo
With several days of rain combined with spring snowpack melt, the Spokane River is swollen with water.  Last week, I made a short stroll along the Lower Falls to see the action.  In the photo below, a torrent of water passes over the Monroe Street Dam and down the Lower Falls.  The volume and power of water flowing through town is impressive.  To get a sense of scale, the gondolas dangling near the bridge each holds four passengers. 
Water rushing over Lower Falls
Time to put together a battle plan for Tuesday's game as I take command of the Scottish army at Falkirk. If I can call upon the Gods of fortune, perhaps, I can reverse history?  Probably not but it will be fun to try.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Cycling the Palouse + Games

Weather finally warmed-up and dried-out enough to get back outside on the bike yesterday.  After spending most of April and May indoors on the trainer, unhooking the bike from the indoor torture device was a welcome task.  

Wednesday's route took me 40 miles over hill and dale to the south of Spokane.  Wind was light to moderate and temperatures were cool especially under the ever-present cloud cover.  Elevation gained over the route totaled about 2,500 ft.
With weather expected to see more of the same today, I plan to be out and back before the possibility of afternoon showers returns.
On the gaming front, the Tuesday remote game saw a return to the Russian Civil War and Graham's playtesting.  The focus of Tuesday's game was appearance of an armored train.  Being White commander in this clash, I would be faced with dealing with such a monster.

It was a bloody affair.  The battle was salvaged by a fortuitous White bombing run against the train.  The pilots hit their mark causing the train to withdraw.  Full battle account at Graham's blog,

Armored Train-ing Wheels 

RCW game. 
Whites v Armored Train.
The game generated some good post-game commentary discussing the finer points of armored trains and how to deal with them.  Rules' details will be forthcoming from Graham's keyboard soon.

For Saturday, a second game is on the docket.

Saturday's game sees a return to the Alamo in what is becoming an annual event to celebrate Kevin's birthday. 
Alamo with WoFun
The game is played using WoFun plexiglass 18mm figures on a gridded board.  Rules in use are a variation of Commands & Colors.  Last year, I recall that the attacking Mexicans wiped out the Texican defenders and the birthday boy fell in defeat.  Will the historical result hold up on Saturday?
Alamo with WoFun
The result does not matter much.  We will enjoy good company, BBQ, and birthday cake.  What could be a better way to spend a Saturday?  

Sunday, May 8, 2022

SYW French Artillery


With the Las Guasimas game taking up a lot of my time this past week (preparation before Tuesday, game on Tuesday, battle report on Wednesday), hobby activities seemed to wane the remainder of the week.  Well, I did revisit the hidden movement process present in Tuesday's game and overhauled that procedure.  A few trials suggest that I am satisfied with the direction and effect of the improvements.  We will see what others think next time I spring a SAW game on them.  Not sure I am ready for that.  Regardless, I save those discussions for another time.  In the meantime, I plan to run through the scenario at least once more.

Today sees the latest results from the painting desk.  Off the workbench are six French guns and 24 crew for the SYW project.  Rather than the usual Eureka guns and crew, I opted to field a bag of Old Glory artillery.  I picked up a bag of artillery when I made the year-end order to load The Lead Pile up with Old Glory French infantry.  Again, an Old Glory infantry choice is unusual for this project.  Most infantry are Eureka augmented with Blue Moon and a few Lancashire Games figures.  I did not care much for the poses of the Eureka French so went with the Old Glory French which are excellent.  Good choice, I think.

The painting desk is still showing SYW French activity.  Cavalry are moving through the production line.  Perhaps a bit too slowly.  A few units will be emerging soon.  Cavalry figures are Eureka.

Also on the workbench is the completion of a box of Perry WotR' Men at Arms figures.  When I completed the six Battles, enough MAA figures remained to field two more MAA Battle components of thirteen figures each.  The two additions will be for Somerset and Clifford.  I suppose I ought to place an order with Perry to field the bill and bow components for these two Battles.  What I originally thought would comprise a collection of six Battles may expand to include eight Battles in total.  Sigh.  It never ends.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Cowboys in Cuba

Mountain gun vigilant from the heights above

The first test of my Spanish-American rules is in the books.  Planning to host the Tuesday remote game and needing a working draft (well, QRS), I sketched the rules' concept out while away in Las Vegas last week.  Built upon earlier work, I figured the general game engine could work in a new setting.  After all, a game engine predicated upon unit combat effectiveness and cohesion ought to have broad applications.  No?

Anyway, without rules' critique and the stresses that remote gaming can generate (I save those for another time), let me try to recount the battle from my almost fresh memory.

Battlefield
The American forces are marching from Siborney toward Santiago.  In their path is a Spanish force situated in the hills along Las Guasimas Creek.  The US objective is to brush these Spanish aside and exit the table on the road to Santiago.  They have ten turns to accomplish this task.  For Tuesday's action, we had a full house with two Spanish players opposed by four American players.  The Spanish commander was able to place his force on table hidden along with an equivalent number of dummy markers.  Both units and dummies could move freely until spotted.
Hidden Spanish on the Spanish left.
Hidden Spanish on the Spanish right.
Typical of game hosting of late, the action kept me hopping.  Grabbing a screenshot or photo was catch-as-catch-can.

On to battle!
Americans arrive!
The American cavalry arrive with Wood and the 1st US volunteer Cavalry marching up the trail while Wheeler and Young take the main Siborney-Santiago Road.  The American plan hinges on pinning the Spanish in the center and outflanking both flanks.  To do this, Wood splits his command (1st Volunteer Cavalry, "Rough Riders") with four troops heading up the trail while four troops head off into the dense jungle to the left.  The 10th US Cavalry ("Buffalo Soldiers") hugs the right flank while the 1st US Cavalry marches down the road.
American plan of attack.
As the Americans advance, the 1st US Cav comes under artillery fire as it crosses the Las Guasimas Creek.  The troopers are pinned at the bridge.  The 10th Cav envelops the ranch as its occupants retire.  No contact with enemy infantry yet. 
Coming under fire
Wood's advance against the Spanish right.
The Spanish defenders laying in wait, spring up seemingly all around!  Mauser bullets split the air as the 1st US Cav comes under fire as it crosses the creek.  The troopers on the road are pinned.  Luckily, help is on the way as the 10th works its way around the ranch and threatens the enemy's flank.  Is there no concern for the potential enemy in the rifle pits on the heights above?

Contact!
10th Cav to the rescue!

On the Spanish right, Wood continues working his way rapidly around the enemy flank.  Spaniards in the trenches, thrown up across the trail, are easily outflanked and quickly engaged in a firefight in the jungle.   

Contact on the Spanish right! 

Seeing four of its six troops pinned, the remaining two troops of the 1st US Cav storm up the hill into the dense jungle.  Their bravery is met with a hail of bullets.  The troopers tumble back down the hill in disorder.

1st US Cav gets bogged down.
With the 1st US Cav pinned, the 10th Cav redoubles the effort to relief pressure on its comrades.  Attacking in strength, the Buffalo Soldiers force the defenders back.  The Spanish suffer heavy casualties in this sharp action.

10th Cav attacks!

The 10th Cav presses on.
The American attack on the Spanish left. 

Flushed with success, the 10th Cav presses on.  The troopers scale the heights and contact another Spanish defender. Two troops take casualties as they work their way up the slopes.  Spanish artillery fire from the mountain gun continues to harass the 1st US Cav at the creek.  For them, progress is slow.

10th Cav scales the heights.
On the Spanish right, Wood completes his encirclement of the enemy trench position.  The Spanish defenders are in a serious jam as they are pinned to the front and threatened on both flanks. 
In a pickle!

The hot action on the Spanish right continues with more Spanish infantry appearing near the crossroads.  These Spaniards halt the Rough Riders as they attempt to reach the objective.  Spanish artillery fire rains down on the enemy as the troopers clear the trench line and threaten the enemy rear.  The clock is ticking.

Heavy fighting...EVERYWHERE!
Hot action at the crossroads
Back on the Spanish left, the 10th Cav attacks.  Two troops up on the ridge attack along the ridgeline and into the waiting Spanish.  The Mausers rip through the 10th as it closes.  In ferocious close combat, the troopers are scattered.  Suffering heavily as well, the Spanish defenders fall back.

10th Cav Troopers meet their Maker on the heights.
With the Spanish defense collapsing back toward Santiago, the race is on to secure the crossroads.  In the heavy and prolonged firefight at the crossroads, Wood falls.  Quickly replaced, his next-in-line falls.  Officer casualties are high.
Race to the crossroads!

Stalemated at the crossroads and time expired, the heated action at Las Guasimas ends in a draw. 

The Americans believe if Wood had not fallen at this crucial time, victory could have been theirs.

Hard fought on both sides and an entertaining battle.  The game produced a narrative not unlike the historical event.  Well, except for the loss of Wood! 

Game finished in about three hours.

My retrospective on rules, game, and game play another time, after I recover.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

One More Sumerian Battle Cart

I managed to push out one more Sumerian battle cart before month end.  Now, effort at the painting desk returns back to working on SYW French.  I may slip in a random Sumerian unit or two while I work on the SYW project but I really want to focus some attention on French cavalry and artillery.  There are a number of War of Austrian Succession scenarios in mind and I need some French to complete these scenarios.

What is coming up on the Sumerian front?  Well, work begins on a couple of units of bowmen and then followed by javelin skirmishers.  Oh, this battle cart and crew are from Newline Designs.

With Las Guasimas on the gaming table and the game later today, thoughts have been unsurprisingly directed back toward the SAW project.  The scenario called for a Colt Machine Gun.  I thought, for sure, there was one already painted.  Wrong!  Not only was there not one painted but I did not even have a model in The Lead Pile.  Such an oversight.  Today's role of a Colt MG will be played by a Gatling Gun. Hmm.  Where did I see a Gatling Gun on display?  I recall seeing one on display in a store/museum somewhere.  But where?  Rummaging through travel photos, I discovered the gun was in a store in Ketchikan, Alaska.  A couple of photos of the weapon below:

I wonder if this piece originally came mounted on a wooden tripod?  I suppose if one planned to display this piece in the parlor, there is not enough space for the wheeled carriage.  One or two US Hotchkiss field pieces would be useful to add to the collection too.  Time to thumb through the Old Glory catalog.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Battle of Las Guasimas

Battle of Las Guasimas

Having taken up a short residence at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas this past week, no gaming or painting activities were seen on the hobby front.  I did manage to put together a Spanish-American War scenario and Rules of Engagement for an upcoming game while away.  Amazing how much work can actually get accomplished on the plane and sitting poolside.

Anyway, a QRS is finished for Tuesday's remote group game and a scenario laid out.  Still time to make a few adjustments to the QRS if needed before Game Day.

Las Guasimas Battle Briefing

The action at Las Guasimas was the first substantial land encounter between the US and Spain at the start of the war. After landing at Siborney, “Fighting Joe” Wheeler (an ex-Confederate cavalry commander), the senior American officer on the ground received reports from local Cuban rebels of the Spanish dispositions around Siborney. On the 23rd, Cuban forces had contacted the Spanish around Las Guasimas but were driven back. The Cubans reported that the enemy was digging in field guns on the heights.

Wheeler, ordered not to bring on an engagement with the enemy until the Siborney landings were completed and the Cubans were in position to assist, decided to launch a reconnaissance in force on the 24th regardless. With the Cubans in a flanking position, the attack was planned to push down the road toward Santiago de Cuba and drive the Spanish from the field.

To accomplish this task, Wheeler’s 2nd Brigade of the Cavalry Division would strike out toward Las Guasimas. Young’s brigade would attack up the Siborney-Santiago Road toward Las Guasimas Creek and pin the Spanish in place against the foothills. Wood’s 1st US Volunteer Cavalry would march up the trail along the saddle and flank the enemy from the west. The Cubans, on Young’s right, would turn the enemy’s left. With both flanks in jeopardy, this maneuver was expected to dislodge the Spanish from the foothills and force a retreat back to Santiago.

The Spanish commander at Sevilla, General Rubin, was tasked with conducting a fighting withdrawal back to Santiago. Rubin’s main objective was to buy enough time to allow the evacuation of a hospital train traveling on the road back to Santiago. He could not risk having the hospital train fall into American hands. To this end, trenches had been dug across the trail near the junction with the Siborney-Santiago Road and rifle pits had been dug on the high ground escarpment overlooking the main road. Spanish forces may deploy anywhere behind the yellow line on game map.

On the morning of the 24th, Wheeler set elements of his division into motion. With reports of activity on the foothills, Wheeler was unsure if the activity was from the Cubans who were expected from that direction or the enemy. Young positioned a gun on a hillock to the southwest and directed the firing of the piece at the hill in the distance to confirm. When these ranging shots were answered by 75mm Krupp Mountain guns, the action was on. Unfortunately for Wheeler, there were no Cubans on his right.

Order of Battle

Game Table
Victory Conditions
It takes 10 turns for the hospital train to exit the table on the road to Santiago. Spanish units begin unspotted.

American player has Initiative on Turn 1.
  • Major Spanish Victory: Hold the field for 10 Turns and control the crossroads while not losing more units than the Americans.
  • Minor Spanish Victory: Hold the field for 10 turns while not losing more units than the Americans.
  • Draw: Spanish hold the field for 10 turns.
  • Minor American Victory: Occupy western Siborney-Santiago Road exit at the end of Turn 10 while not losing more units than the Spanish.
  • Major American Victory: Occupy western Siborney-Santiago Road exit at the end of Turn 10 while inflicting 2:1 losses or better on the Spanish.
There are a few details left out of briefing to be shared with the commanders prior to game time.

Back to the week in Las Vegas...

The trip to Las Vegas was the first air travel undertaken in more than two years for me.  To enjoy sunny skies, the heat of 85-90F temperatures, good food and a concert, Nancy and I jetted off to stake out a short, four-day stay in Sin City.  Unbeknownst to us at the time, this week also coincided with the annual NFL Draft.  Who knew that the football draft was such a HUGE event?  We did not, for sure.  A few blocks of Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) were even closed down for the festivities.
The Venetian
Pedestrians walking Las Vegas Boulevard
With a resort named the "Venetian" one might expect a Venice themed complex.  One would not be wrong.  Walking around this faux Venice for four days reminded us how much we enjoyed the real Venice.  Having visited Venice on two of our three Italy trips (2009 and 2016), it may be time to start thinking of a return visit.