Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Biblical Mounted Infantry

After steadily painting units for SYW/WAS projects, I make a slight diversion into Biblicals to break up the routine.

This Biblical diversion begins with a Wargames Foundry mounted infantry in cart.  In Basic Impetvs, this unit is classified as a 'T' Kallapani.  In practice, this BMU functions as a mobile archery platform.  I painted one of these years ago and dug this second one from deep out of The Lead Pile.  I expect to see more Babylonian bowmen and spearmen muster out before this effort trails off.  Still, work has not stopped on fielding WAS cavalry.  Several cavalry squadrons (four at last count!) are working their way through the production queue.

Monday saw a refighting of the Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo with four of Postie's Rejects.  Richard and Surjit as the Gallispans clashed with Lee and Steve as they led the Austro-Piedmontese.  An engaging battle unfolded that was well-played by all.  Hopefully, I can pull together a battle report of this action.  Until then, below is a snapshot of the action when von Baden's Guard Brigade attacks Camposanto's French Garde Lorraine and the Franco-Spanish Center.  Great stuff!

After Monday's game, I reckon it time to clear the gaming table and put something else in its place.  Early indications suggest a return to Punic Wars and Basic Impetvs.  With Biblicals coming off the work desk, I could change my mind and step back to an even more "ancient" Ancients period.  Time will tell. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Training Exercises

Although the Virtual Wargaming Club (VWC) has seen regular, weekly meetings since the rise of the pandemic, I finally made my first appearance.  Why wait so long before joining into the weekly gatherings?  Perhaps no good reason other than I maintain a fairly busy gaming schedule already and meetings are at 0830 on Saturday mornings, Pacific.  Not an ideal time to stop what I am doing especially during good, cycling weather.  Anyway, with dark days and bad weather of winter still upon me, I figured I would test the waters.  My first session was an enjoyable chat featuring some show and tell and a battle report.  Interesting stuff!

An unexpected pleasure coming out of attending the meeting was the number of follow-up, email conversations spawned.  One such email chain was with Brian, the emcee of the VWC.  

After exchanging emails with Brian on topics such as Fields of Honor, War of Austrian Succession, and remote gaming, we scheduled a gaming session for Wednesday.  Wednesday's initial session would provide an introduction to both the rules and remote gaming.  Since the Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo (Md'O) is still out on table, I offered this scenario as a training exercise.  With a copy of the original rules published in 2000 in-hand, Brian chose to command the Austro-Piedmontese. I took command of the Franco-Spanish.  Now, we did not expect to fight the battle to conclusion but only run through a few turns to get a feel for the game.  We actually managed to complete five turns in about 2.5 hours. 

How did the session pan out?  With a training exercise as the main purpose of this session, I touch on some of the salient battle points in abbreviated fashion.  Please read on.
The Battlefield
The Armies
Heeding analysis on the Piedmontese opening gambit,
Corbeau hits Md'O with maximum force.
Spanish grenadiers are overwhelmed as Corbeau
 watches the Spanish fall to the bayonet.
As Piedmontese Left and Center cross the road,
de Courrier brings his Gallispan cavalry up. 

Guns erupt on the battlefield.  Stuck in the open,
 the lead Piedmontese regiment takes a pounding.
Swiss advance upon Cascina Pasquale.
Grenz work their way around Md'O
in a possible flanking maneuver.
Piedmontese Royal Cavalry goes into reserve
 in anticipation of opportunity.
After delays crossing the sunken road,
 the Piedmontese Right Wing clears this obstacle. 
The Spanish attack!
Piedmontese militia scatter.
Piedmontese Right readies for action.
While Grenz continue working to outflank Md'O, 
the Royal Cavalry seizes an opportunity and strikes.
Unfortunately, its attack is repulsed
with few casualties to the defenders.
de la Ville's cavalry attack the defenders
 of San Giacomo and Spanish dragoons.
The attack against San Giacomo is repulsed
 but the Spanish break for the rear.  
The Spanish bring up more cavalry to plug the hole.
Looking down the Gallispan Line from the Left.
Md'O position is outflanked but
Spanish support moves up to counter.
French and Spanish attack!
With five turns in the books after about three hours of play, we called a halt to hostilities having provided Brian a solid grounding in the rules.  I reckon most of the Rules of Engagement saw a good workout.  If victory were to be assessed, the result would have been a draw as the Piedmontese held Md'O but suffered more broken brigades than the enemy.  A fitting draw and a great way to conclude the session.

After some post-game discussion, I asked Brian if this was something he would be interested in trying again.  I added that there was no need to answer now but ponder it over.  Without hesitation, he said, "I don't need to think about it, yes"!  

That was a good day out.  Thanks, Brian!  Hope to see you back at the gaming table again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Gaming Picks Up!

After the lull in gaming between the middle of December and the middle of January, gaming is picking back up to more normal levels.  Over the last week, three games have been entered into the Logbook with a fourth game scheduled for Wednesday. 

Saturday saw Kevin hosting a 19th Century China game using his newly painted Chinese figures fresh from Scott's workbench (MacPhee's Miniature Men).  Tuesday saw my return to Graham's remote UK tabletop in a refight of Culloden.  In this contest, I was simply an onlooker as the four player slots were filled with in-person players.  Wednesday finds me hosting another Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo as I introduce the Fields of Honor rules to a curious UK wargamer.  Monday (29th) sees me back at the table hosting a remote Madonna dell'Olmo battle for Postie's Rejects.

Good to see the gaming schedule filling up.  Perhaps I can get back on track?

Following is a selection of photos from Kevin's game on Saturday featuring Scott's handiwork.  Aren't those tigermen amazing?  I sure think so.  The Chinese present a very colorful army.

Now, if I could only get the work at the painting desk back into gear! 

Friday, January 19, 2024

A Second Look at Madonna dell'Olmo

After an illness enforced break during the holidays, gaming returns to the table mid-January.  Following December's Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo (see Madonna dell'Olmo), the three players agreed that a rematch would be entertaining.  With three players, Mark volunteered to take command of the Austro-Piedmontese Army alone while Chris and David would team up to command the Gallispan Army.  We had an observer for the game too.  Welcome Erik!

As a refresher, the battlefield and army deployments are as shown in the photos below:
Madonna dell'Olmo terrain features
Madonna dell'Olmo Army Deployments
Army deployments looking from South.
Will battle plans change from Game #1 with players swapping sides?  Well, Chris will remain a Gallispan for Game #2.  Let's see how the battle played out.

After the simulation study on how to maximize King Emmanuele's opening moves (see Computational Combat Statistics), I expected Mark to follow the math in attacking Madonna dell'Olmo (Md'O) with full force.  I was wrong!
Spanish grenadiers occupy the earthworks in front of Md'O.
Rather than bring both Sardinian grenadiers and Grenz in a supported attack, Mark opted to bring up the Grenz, give the Spanish a volley, and then close assault the Spanish grenadiers with the Sardinian grenadiers.  General de Corbeau would lead the way into the earthworks.
Corbeau attacks!
The Grenz fire off a volley into the earthworks and many Spanish are cut down. With de Corbeau leading the way, the Sardinians attack Md'O.  Still reeling from the Grenz' volley, the shocked Spanish are overwhelmed.  Md'O is in Piedmontese hands!  While not the suggested method to take the earthworks, Mark's method produced the same result.  D'Aix' Brigade moves forward as it advances upon Spanish positions.  
Give 'em a volley and charge!
Having lost Md'O so quickly, Spanish General de la Mina counters by moving his brigade to put an end to Piedmontese gains.  In a change of tactic from Game #1, Baden negotiates the sunken road to bring elements of his brigade across to threaten the enemy left.  Cincan's Brigade looks on as it refuses to cross the obstacle.
de la Mina moves up to defend the Spanish Right.
von Baden crosses the sunken road. 
Cincan looks on from the safety of the sunken road. 
As the Piedmontese step forward, French artillery rings out.  The bell tolls for a number of Piedmontese as their numbers are reduced.  The Spanish move forward to meet the attacks they know will come.  The French infantry supporting the guns in Cascina Pasquale come under artillery bombardment.
French artillery punishes the advancing Piedmontese.
Spanish move up to secure the Right.
Cascina Pasquale comes under artillery fire.
To counter enemy artillery bombardment against Cascina Pasquale, Chevert leads two regiments of dragon forward.  Standing in their path is a regiment of Swiss.  Having already suffered from French artillery, the Swiss are quickly dispatched.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that the French dragoons are now open to enemy artillery, themselves.
French dragoons attack the Swiss...
but victory leaves them exposed.
Shifting from the Center to the Piedmontese Left, Cincan begins climbing out of the sunken road as von Baden presses on.  Cincan manages to bring his artillery across in anticipation of putting the French Left under threat.  Von Baden attacks the French in Cascina Rullione driving them off.  In turn, General de Courier leads an attack against the farm.  Von Baden is driven out! 
Cincan crosses the sunken road.
von Baden attacks!
de Courrier counterattacks!
Back to the action in the center, Chevert leads his dragoons in against the Piedmontese guns positioned in the earthworks at Valentina.  Despite having seemingly, overwhelming odds, the dragoons are repulsed.  The artillery stands firm.  Having weakened the defenders of Cascina Pasquale, through artillery and musketry, the Piedmontese attack.  In a sharp fight, the defenders are either ejected or destroyed.  Victory is short-lived.  The exhausted Piedmontese are struck in the flank from Camposanto's cavalry.  They are scattered with many taken prisoners.  D'Aix' Brigade is broken in the attacks.  The French move up Camposanto's infantry to plug the hole and consolidate the center.   
Chevert's cavalry attack the guns
while the King sends infantry to take Cascina Pasquale.
Chevert is repulsed.
Piedmontese only hold Pasquale
 briefly before being overrun.
Support arrives to Cascina Pasquale.
With the danger to the French Center reduced, de la Mina goes back onto the attack against Md'O.  Unleashing a supporting volley before the attack, del la Mina leads the attacks against the Spanish grenadiers holding the church.  The pressure is too much and the Sardinian grenadiers evaporate under the Spanish attacks.  Corbeau's Brigade is broken.  The Spanish once again control this vital piece of real estate.
With center stabilized, focus returns to the Right.
The Spanish attack vigorously...
and eject the Sardinians!
Seeing that Md'O has been retaken, Chevert tries again to breech the enemy line at Valintina.  Again, Chevert and his dragoons are repulsed as the Piedmontese gunners refuse to budge.
Repulsed again!
With the Spanish holding onto Md'O only by a thread, Corbeau leads Grenzers into an assault.  To cover the left, the Royal Cavalry charges into the Spanish holding the ground to the south of the church.  Both attacks are successful in driving the Spanish back.  De la Mina's Brigade is broken in these attacks.  
Corbeau attacks!
Madonna dell'Olmo is retaken!
While Md'O has changed hands three times in this battle and in Piedmontese hands now, the hour is late.  After four hours of play, we stop to assess the situation.  

The body count is high and neither army could muster a Sudden Death Victory.  The Gallispans came close to breaking through in several places but simply could not cut their way through the stubborn defenses.  Even though both armies were only one broken brigade removed from collapse, time had run out.  Even a minor victory was not possible.  While the Piedmontese had regained Md'O, they carried two broken brigades to one.
Butcher's Bill
The battle was declared a tactical draw.  Given the strategic implications of the battle, the Austro-Piedmontese Army and King Emmanuele were awarded a strategic victory.  The Gallispans could not defeat the King's field army and the siege of Cuneo could not be sustained.  The Gallispans would need to retire back across the Alps for winter.
Another enjoyable but hard-fought battle ending in a tactical draw.

Great game, fellas!  Well-played all.  Thank you so much for playing.
Until next time.