Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Hanoverian Horse Grenadiers

Still working on clearing the line-up at the photo booth.  The good news is that the queue is nearing its end.  The bad news is that I have four units getting ready to make their way into the queue.  Having more units emerging from the painting desk is really not bad news, though, is it?  Of course not.
Mustering out, today, are twelve Hanoverian horse grenadiers.  Figures are from Eureka Miniatures.  Most of the Eureka sculpts are very good but the raised swords on all of these fellows are a bit fragile and "wispy" to my eye.  They are delicate and I wonder how long they will last under the rigors of gaming.  Still, nice figures and I look forward to getting them into battle.

A pair of Sumerian straddle cars remain at the photo booth with a pair of FRW French light infantry battalions and two WAS Spanish infantry regiments getting close to completion at the painting desk.
On the gaming front, Fornovo takes to the field for two more games.  Game #5 is scheduled for Thursday and Game #6 is on deck for next Tuesday.  A couple of rules and scenario amendments slip into the game following player feedback.  After a half-dozen playings, it is likely time to focus on another battle.  Will gaming remain in the Great Italian Wars or move on to something else?  At present I am really enjoying the Italian Wars' battles but slipping in a little variety might be good for both players and umpire.  What could be on deck next?  I am open to suggestions.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Skythians on the Loose

The past week has seen a major interruption in service on the wargaming front.  I am not sure there has ever been a week between blog posts nor between work outs on the bike (well, besides COVID and broken leg).  Well, for now, I am back at the keyboard and planning for a return to a Fornovo replay or two possibly beginning next week.  If you are anticipating a rematch, keep an eye on your Inbox.
Luckily, I still have a unit or two lined up at the light box for photos before I return to the painting desk to pick up the brushes.  Naturally, there are a number of domestic chores to catch up on first.  Still, there is hope.
Off of the painting desk today are two, three-figure stands of Skythian horse archers.  Figures are Wargames Foundry.  Nice figures.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Still Fornovocating

We return to the Battle of Fornovo and Game #4 in these refights.  In tabletop action on the 16th, five players join into a remote game to try their hand at command.  Mark, the seasoned veteran of my version of Basic Impetvs (BI) on a grid and of Fornovo in particular, was joined by Brian and Stephen (both veterans of BI and Italian Wars from a pair of Sanguetta battles), and Doug and Alan.  Doug and Alan were both new to BI and possibly even remote gaming. 
Armies ready to battle.
As a refresher, the armies are deployed as shown in the photo below with player assignments given.
Initial deployments and player commands
With three games in the logbook, the score stands at two wins for the Italians against one win for the French.  Let's see how Game #4 played out.  On to battle!

The Italians are allowed to place one unit from each command at each of the three fords across the Taro River.  In this battle, all three commanders place heavy, close order infantry at the fords.  Knowing that the Italians hold the initiative for the first activation on Turn 1 and that Caiazzo has light cavalry blocking the French path to the north, the French Left Wing under de Gie (Mark) readies for the attack he expects will fall upon him.  When Gonzaga's signal is given, Caiazzo (Brian) snaps into action.  De Gie is not surprised.   
de Gie's massive Swiss pike blocks prepares for battle.
Caiazzo wastes no time.  His German pike block emerges from the ford and prepares to march against the French.  Caiazzo's light cavalry on the French side of the Taro attack.  One attack goes in against the skirmishers and suffers heavily. The other launches a harassing attack against the Swiss.  Both attacks are driven off.  
Caiazzo sends his light cavalry into de Gie.
Two attacks are driven back with heavy casualties.
Now it is de Gie's turn to retaliate.

De Gie is not interested in dealing with Caiazzo just yet.  Rather, he is intent on stopping Gonzaga from making a bridgehead on the French side of the Taro.  After a preparatory bombardment from his guns, de Gie sets off at the head of his Gendarmes toward the enemy infantry still crossing the Taro.

The French heavy cavalry smack into the enemy infantry at river's edge and drive them back.  De Gie barrels on into the Taro in hot pursuit.  Emerging from the ford on the Italian side of the river, de Gie is met by both Gonzaga's MAA and the Italian infantry.  In a protracted melee, de Gie bucks the odds and sends the enemy reeling back toward the foothills.  De Gie presses on!  Again, the two bodies fight in desperation.  Again, de Gie overcomes the odds and the enemy is driven back into the foothills.  There are not as many Italians on the field as before.  Exhausted, de Gie and his Gendarmes stop.  Where the Italian Center filled the battle line moments before, a gaping hole in the Italian line remains.  
De Gie crashes into the Taro and the enemy!
With the enemy recoiling, de Gie pursues. 
De Gie cuts a massive hole deep into the Italian battle line.
Well, that attack was a wake up call to all!

De Gie's mad romp across the Taro does not last long and neither does he.  With his back pushed up against the foothills, Gonzaga counterattacks to push de Gie back.  De Gie and his Gendarmes are not pushed back, however.  Instead, de Gie and his men are cut down where they stand.  Gonzaga advances to the Taro to retake his positions.  

Seeing de Gie's unexpected and quick success in the center, the King (Doug) redeploys his wing to face de Montone's (Alan's) Italians as they begin to cross the Taro.  As de Montone's infantry emerge from the Taro, we stop for a quick rules' discussion on the options of launching cavalry attacks either in sequence or in unison.  Doug decides that going in together makes the most sense so in go two bodies of French Gendarmes with the King leading the way.
French Gendarmes wait
while the enemy emerges from the Taro.
Shaking more dice than can be comfortably held in one hand, the King and his Gendarmes crash into the Italians.  With heavy losses, the Italians are driven back into the river.  One body of Gendarmes pursue while the King holds his bodyguard back in reserve.  Still shaken from the initial clash, the Italian foot continue to retreat.  Not wanting to enter the Taro in pursuit, the French pull up.      
The French attack!
The Italians are driven back into the Taro.

With the ford clear and the French holding the opposite bank, de Montone launches a counterattack with his MAA. In they splash into the river.  Coming up the other bank, the Italian MAA target the mounted crossbow.  Even with the Gendarmes in support, the French are driven back from the Taro's banks.  Victorious and enemy cavalry falling back, de Montone's heavy cavalry climbs up the other side and sets off in pursuit.
Italian MAA counterattack, push the French back,...
and pursue.
Disordered after their efforts, de Monotone's MAA find themselves facing the King and his Gendarmes.  Still unblemished from their earlier supporting effort, the French Gendarmes see off the wavering Italians.  The King pursues and the Italians retreat back across the Taro.  The Gendarmes pull up at the banks of the Taro.  To cover the MAA's retreat, de Montone pushes his infantry back into the Taro.
The King counterattacks!
The Italian heavy cavalry falls back.
Italian infantry block the ford.
With the battle seemingly settled on the Italian Left Wing and Center, we skip back to the action on the Italian Right Wing.  Seeing Caiazzo and his MAA holding a bridgehead on the French side of the Taro, the Swiss move up to contest the crossing.  Alone and unsupported on the French side of the river, Caiazzo falls back from the weight and determination of the Swiss massive pike block.   
Swiss attack Caiazzo...
and push the Italians back into the river.
Even with the Italians holding two of the three fords, the Taro is rising quickly.  The Italians will have great difficulty crossing the Taro.  With the French controlling their side of the river, attacking from these positions at great disadvantage looks pointless. 
The French control the Taro River.
Gonzaga chooses to disengage.
Seeing his army badly mauled and the Taro River rising quickly, Gonzaga concedes the field to the French.  The King is free to continue his march toward Parma. 

While the new players (Doug and Alan) gained their footing in this battle and the dice were, at times, uneven, this was a fascinating battle to watch unfold.  After witnessing this action, I am reminded of an almost identical outcome in the historical battle.  Tuesday's game could be used as a proxy narrative to the actual battle.

Great game and well-played by all!

Congratulations to all but especially to Doug and Mark for their impressive victory.  I must give the Italians (Stephen, Brian, and Alan) kudos for their determination in fighting back from the surprising and complete collapse of the Italian Center on Turn 1.  Mark should frame those dice!

Thanks again everyone.  Great game and great company!

At Fornovo, the score is now tied at two games apiece for each army.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Russians Are Coming!

In a departure from the steady stream of 18mm SYW/WAS and 25mm Biblical figures emerging from the painting desk, today sees something different.  Something very different from a project not seen in a very long time.
What is the project?  My interpretation of the 19th Century period known as the Great Game where Britain and Russia vied for control and influence in Central Asia, mainly in Afghanistan.  Now, my recollection is that the armies have only been out on the table for exactly one game.  With a little luck, perhaps, mustering the latest Russians will prompt thoughts of returning these armies to the gaming table.
Off the painting desk are 24 Wargames Foundry Crimean War Russian infantry.  They march out as the Moscow Regiment.  Next, I think a handful of Afghan irregulars will be pushed into the painting queue.  First, more Biblicals and SYW/WAS units are seeing their way clear of the workbench.

On the gaming front, the Battle of Fornovo saw action on Tuesday in a five-player contest.  Two players were new to both Basic Impetvs and my remote games.  Quite a different battle from the previous fight.  Great fun but quite different.
French Gendarmes push across the Taro River.
For today, back to the painting desk for what I hope is a meaningful painting session.  We will see if that comes to pass.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Tracking The Spend

In years past, Wargames, Soldiers, & Strategy's Great Wargaming Survey asked a question on spending.  The question asked survey respondents to quantify their expected spending given a range of expenditures.  Since I wondered about the accuracy of these responses (my sense of accuracy in my own spending is suspect), the 2023 survey replaced this question with two questions.  The first spending question asked if respondents tracked their hobby spending.  The second question rephrased last year's spending question and changed the question from absolute to relative terms.  That is, do you plan to spend more, the same, or less than last year?  Spending responses in relative terms may be easier to quantify than spending in absolute terms.  For me, relative expectations are easier to assess.

What did the 2023 survey show for these two new spending questions?  Let's see.

Tracking Expected Spending
Figure 1 shows a high-level perspective of any differences between those who track their spending and those who do not. If we assume that those who actually track their spending have a more accurate picture than those who do not, we might expect to see variation between spending expectations.  The chart illustrates that the "No" trackers are more likely to choose the same level of spending as last year compared to the "Yes" trackers.  Outside of the spending "About the same as last year" category, those who track expenditures tend to have percentages larger than the non-trackers in all other categories.  Does this suggest more accuracy in the trackers' results?  

Figure 1
Tracking by Attributes
If these data are broken down by select attributes (Primary Interest, Location, Age Group), do any tendencies or patterns emerge showing differences between those who track spending and those who do not across attributes?  The answer is "No." 

Figures 2 (Primary Interest), 3 (Location), and 4 (Age Group) all show a similar relationship between tracking and not tracking.  Roughly 70% of respondents do not track spending expenditures.  For Locations, "Region-Other" is an outlier due to small sample size.
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Expected Relative Spending
While the percentage of those who track expenditures remains constant across the three attributes examined, does the same relationship hold for expected spending relative to last year's spending?

Across Primary Interest groups (Figure 5), Historical wargamers expect to increase spending over last year at rates greater than their Fantasy/Sci-Fi and Mixed counterparts.  Fantasy/Sci-fi gamers expect to cut back spending at a rate greater than the other two groups.
Figure 5
For relative spending levels by location (Figure 6), USA/Canada respondents are much more likely to increase spending year-over-year than other global respondents.  Why are North Americans not seeing similar belt tightening?
Figure 6
In the chart of relative spending by age group (Figure 7), are any tendencies apparent here? 

First, the percentage of spending "Considerably more than last year" decreases monotonically with age.  Perhaps as time marches on, we all have enough figures that large expenditures are no longer needed.  Either that or the prior year's spending was elevated such that cutting back offers a natural rebalancing act.  For respondents age 31 and above, 2023 looks to be a leaner year on purchases than was 2022. 
Figure 7
While the percentage of respondents marking that they track expenditures is consistent at about 30%, expected spending levels vary across attributes although most tend to see a decrease in spending over last year's spending.

Do you track hobby expenditures and was your 2023 spending less, the same or more than that in 2022?  Can you even remember?

Thursday, April 11, 2024


Fornovocate - to refight the Battle of Fornovo multiple times to see if the historical result was the most likely and to gain a better understanding of the battle.

As a refresher for how Game #1 played out, please visit Battle of Fornovo

Yes, we find ourselves back at the Battle of Fornovo. This time three of Postie's Rejects (Ray - Don't Throw a 1, Lee - BigLee's Miniature Adventures, and Surjit) command the Italians while Chris (Horse and Musket Gaming) takes sole command of the French King's Army.
Once the battle lines are drawn, the battlefield and the commands look like,
Initial deployments
For the Italians, Ray takes overall command as Gonzaga, Lee commands de Montone's Left Wing, and Surjit commands Caiazzo's Right Wing.  The Italians may place one unit on each of the three fords.  The Italians hold initiative on Turn 1 and receive the first impulse.
The Swiss, ready to rumble.

On to battle!

The Italians begin by sending each of their heavy infantry units into the Taro River.  As Gonzaga's (Ray's) pike block emerges from the central ford, de Gie strikes.  While his two guns pound Gonzaga's infantry, the bombardment results in only disordering the Italian formation.  Crossbow move up to harass the enemy's crossing.  Caiazzo (Surjit) counters by forcing de Gie's mounted crossbowmen back from the rightmost ford while Caiazzo's Stradiot's harass de Gie's skirmishers. 

Italian heavy infantry take to the river first.
The French contest the crossings.
de Gie's light cavalry falls back when pressed.
Stradiots harass enemy skirmishers.
Seeing little opposition at the Taro River, the Italians emerge from all three crossing points and establish bridgeheads across the rising Taro.  Confident, Gonzaga sends his pikemen to take the gun to his front.  The gun, however, is supported by the King and his Gendarmes.  No matter.  The pikemen send the King and his heavy cavalry to the rear as the gun is overrun and destroyed.  In a similar result, Caiazzo's Stradiots attack de Gie's light cavalry and the French horsemen are forced back taking the crossbow skirmishers with them.  Hit from behind by Stradiots, French skirmishers near the river are scattered.  This is not a good start for the King!

As a note, Chris, could not hit the broad side of a barn in these early clashes.  Even the Italians were encouraging Chris to get at least some success.  I asked Chris if he would like me to roll some dice in his place.  He declined saying that he will stick with the dice he brought to battle regardless.  Courage!   
Italian infantry cross the Taro in strength.
Gonzaga's infantry storm into battle.
The French gun is destroyed and the King retreats. 
French skirmishers are destroyed
 and French light cavalry falls back.
Encouraged by these early results, Caiazzo attacks with his light cavalry.  Stradiots attack the remaining French gun and his mounted crossbow charge in against de Gie's mounted crossbow.  Both of these attacks are repulsed without much loss.
Italian light cavalry charge the guns...
and French light cavalry.
Both attacks are repulsed!
Back on the Italian Left, de Montone brings his heavy infantry across the ford and immediately comes under fire from French skirmishers.  As the King's infantry moves off road, they turn to confront the enemy.  The King moves up his cavalry positioned on the right.  With the ford clear, de Montone's Men-at-Arms (MAA) cross over to the opposite bank in support.
de Montone comes under fire...
as he works to establish a bridgehead on the opposite bank.
With disruptive skirmisher shooting, French Gendarmes charge into de Montone's MAA.  In a completely unexpected and uncharacteristic turn of events, Chris throws six sixes and scores five hits.  Crippled in the melee, de Montone's MAA retreat back across the Taro. 
French Gendarmes charge in!
It's a miracle!
de Montone's MAA flee back across the Taro.
Perhaps emboldened by this unexpected success, the King presses on and charges into Gonzaga's pike block at the head of his own Gendarmes.
Flushed with success, Charles VIII charges in!
Success is short-lived as is the King. The attack against Gonzaga's infantry goes badly.  The King and his Gendarmes recoil back heading for the rear.  This retreat offers no safe haven.  Stradiots ride over the remaining French gun and strike the King's bodyguard from the rear.  The pride of France scatters and the King lays on the field dead.
The King's attack is repulsed...
and he is hunted down and killed!
Seeing their King fall, the remaining French vow to fight on. Despite their desperate attempts to turn back the enemy, the French mixed formations seem to have lost the will to fight.  Attacks and counterattacks find the French losing these battles of attrition as the French ranks are depleted. 
Italian heavy infantry press on...
while the French try to hold on.
French attempts are in vain as they are pushed back...
and their ranks depleted.
Situation near end of battle.
With the French Right collapsing under the weight of Gonzaga and de Montone's sustained attacks, the two French wings are split.  Caiazzo presses his attempt to destroy de Gie.  With enemy light cavalry now roaming freely in the French rear, the battle is lost.  Now it is every Frenchman for himself!
Caiazzo pushes on!
As Caiazzo is reinforced, de Gie crumbles.
Italian horsemen loose in the French rear!
Magnificent victory for Gonzaga and his army!

Congratulations to Ray, Lee, and Surjit for a well-played battle.  Despite losing the battle, Chris put up a good fight given some of the worst die rolling seen.  Still, this contest was very entertaining and great fun to watch unfold.  Even Chris' enemies were rooting for him to succeed.  Nevertheless, he took this defeat in stride and all in good humor.

This battle was the first attempt at a cross-group game where one group (Rejects) commanded one army and non-Reject Chris commanded the other.  Unfortunately, Chris' planned gaming partner could not make the game so Chris was forced to press on alone.  He did so admirably.

Great job fellas and so much fun!  Thank you!

The next round of Fornovocating is on Tuesday with a different group of five players.