Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Belated Blog action, another SP2 game and some dragoons.

Well as my mate Ian at the Gentlemen Wargamers club at Lanyon (every Wednesday evening - great club, great games!) said to me the other night: 'you DO know it's been nearly FIVE MONTHS since you've done anything on your blog!'  Well I laughed. You've got to be joking mate!  Er... actually no. He wasn't and it was - about five months!  Crikey how time flies.

More and more wargaming goodness keep arriving (this lot from UK Warlord). The parcel delivery guy is now a close family friend.
As far as excuses go - I haven't really got one - you see some @#$%ard introduced me (OK - convinced me) to go on Facebook. I held out for years and as it turns out probably should have held out for a few more! End result is I spend so much time on bloody Facie that I have completely neglected the blog.  See? Told you I didn't have an excuse!

Anyway...   I have been up to quite a bit since my last post. On the domestic side I've seen the house vacated, repaired and re-occupied and the family mausoleum (also known as the garage) cleared out (well mostly) and renovated so I finally have an 'off-site' (as in 'out of the bloody house') storage for my little hobby.

Some of my more recent ones include finally completing my FJ Kettencrad squad
'Wot do you mean zis iz not der vay to Maleme - DUMMKOPF ve just CAME from zere - good German maps are never incorrect!' 'Jawohl Feldwebel you are always right, even when hopelessly lost!'
One of my faves - the Black Tree FJ IeIG 18 7.5cm 'Doorknocker' field howitzer. I finished these and most of the support weapons for my Ramke Bde force (FJ with the DAK) - all the new Perry FJ figures, very nice indeed.
The collection was getting out of control and the study and every other nook and cranny was crammed with more and more figures etc.  The new storage in the garage has saved my bacon (sort of). On inspection of the 'new' garage and all my fine reno and cleaning work, the Minister for War and Finance was heard to remark 'My, my you DO have a lot of little soldiers DON'T YOU!' upon eyeing the fairly significant stacks (very neat stacks I'll have you know) of boxes and trays containing all the elements of my little hobby.  She generously offered to help me get rid of more 'rubbish in the garage' - more of a threat really - which I graciously declined. And threw out more boxes (empty of course) in the vain hope of placating said Minister, and demonstrating I really didn't need her 'help' just at that moment.

SP2 game at the club - Doug and Mark's skirmishers disappear in a red mist from 1st round of shooting while Owen and my French gun 'clears the road' of a Prussian speed bump.
Meanwhile, at t'club (I finally made a Wednesday night!) we had another (just my second) Sharp Practice game using the recent upgraded SP2 rule set. The second game went much better than the first with me resisting the temptation to disappear down historical 'rabbit holes' (thanks Doug) and just playing the rules as they allowed. I was very controlled and made no comment at Doug and Mark's outrageous  arming of ALL of the 1813 Prussian schutzen with rifles rather than the 1/3 that history tells us they fielded. Rabbit warren averted. No matter as they lurked about on the flank and despite the enormous range of their rifles, didn't really bother Owen's French who quickly hunkered down behind a solid Prussian stone wall and weren't much inconvenienced. My likely lads came under some Prussian artillery fire but didn't really suffer much damage even stooging around in the open for the entire game (see above photo). On the other hand our gun got into the action against a Prussian column marching up the road. Bit like 'bowling for Blucher' really. Knocked 'em down like ninepins but tough boys them Prussians - eight shocks but still refused to run away (although they did wisely hop over the other side of the wall)!  The deciding action of the night was Owen's inspired use of his outnumbered Chasseurs.

Owen decided to bring his cavalry on against the two units of Prussian cavalry opposite.  Quite a gamble that should have resulted in many dead French horsemen as his charge pulled up short on an awkward junction of fences. Quite miraculously they survived the 1st round of fisticuffs against the lance-armed Prussians, then in a second round were driven back but in the third actually drove them off! But they weren't finished yet.

The Prussians were closing in across the table but it was the reduced French cavalry who were coming to grips with the second unit of Prussian hussars. They were at a disadvantage with two dead and two shocks from the previous combat so to help out my voltigeur formation behind the wall emptied a full round on musketry at effective range into the Prussian cavalry. I think it put enough damage to even things up a little for the cav fisticuffs.

Forwarts meine Kinder! the Prussians kept a-coming! 
The Prussian cav faced the same obstacle of the fence junction that the French did plus they got peppered with musketry in the process. All Owen's Chasseurs had to do was hold on - and they did - for the French gamble to succeed. 
The game was called after this as time ran out but it came down to the cav fight to decide the outcome as no infantry were close enough to get into hand-to-hand.  Probably just as well for Owen and me as 1813 French aren't that great - all the best one's were long dead in Russia!  Another game tomorrow night - this time with my Poles v Russians (or Doug's Prussians)!  The rules are fun enough and we will no doubt put on an entertaining game at Little Wars in a few weeks time but I refuse to pull apart the basing of hundreds of figures just to accommodate the latest Nap gaming fad.  I think I've come up with a solution that sees some command bases pulled apart and other individual leaders singly based. I've also make up movement trays to fit 6-8 figures for each unit.  

Dismounted dragoons are all Perry - the officer and sapper-sergeant closest are conversions.
The latest are my French dragoons which may get a run at Little Wars.  As they are the only cav unit that can be represented as dismounted I've had to produced a number of figures to represent this including a horse-holder stand and the usual officers and NCOs.  To match the mounted I have just converted one into a Mareshal de Logis Sapeur (senior sergeant sapper) replete with the bearskin worn by some elite companies. To complete I have him carrying his trusty 'doorknocker', guaranteeing entry to any gig in any village! I also gave him the blunderbuss version of the cavalry carbine which some sapeurs preferred for that 'close-in' work.

Hope you enjoyed the post. Apologies to all the followers of this blog for the lack of activity for so long - hopefully it'll not be so long 'till the next one!


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Preparing for first Sharpe's Practice game.

Time for my sort-of monthly blog post and there's been plenty going on since painting the French-in-Egypt Camel Corps. For starters there were hordes of Galloglas axe murderers and a few Saxons to paint and base for Doug to pay for my Badener army.  My apologies to Paul of Murowski Miniatures as almost as soon as I'd bought Doug's figures Murowski announced their range of superb Badeners. Bad timing dammit. Nonetheless I can't complain as I now have another full brigade to game with which won't take me long to get up to gaming standard - if I ever get the time that is. Having a few health issues and storm damage to my house at the same time has seen me also preoccupied with many things other than the hobby.

Preparing the single based officers and NCOs for Sharpe's Practice
The boys have discovered Sharpe's Practice from the indomitable Two Fat Lardies and after their experience with Chain of Command, want to try a small unit skirmish rule set for Napoleonic warfare. Given that skirmish tactical doctrine began  in this era of massed infantry formations (Sir John Moore's famous Light Division that gained deserved fame in the Peninsular Campaign being the ancestor of modern squad infantry tactics) I was somewhat skeptical of the historical accuracy of applying such a set of rules to that era. However, I must say the rules read well enough and they are, as most rule sets nowadays, well presented and full of eye-candy enough to entice any old rusted-on Napoleonics gamer. So I thought I'd give'em a go save for one small problem - an unforeseen family issue arose and I had to miss the game - so I'm still waiting to play it.  Despite this setback I have had the time to prepare figures for three armies: French, Austrian and Russian. All the figures are now painted and based, just have to make up the movement trays.

Officer and NCO in forage cap lead the dismounted French dragoons

Here then are the figures and units as per the SP lists. For the French I made up an 8 figure unit of dragoons under an NCO. They are the only cavalry unit that can dismount and fight on foot (historically the Austrian light cavalry especially dragoons also skirmished on foot but rarely did so as they trained to shoot from the saddle) so I adapted the Perry's plastic dismounted dragoons, creating a junior officer and a horse holder stand.

Dragoon horse holder conversion. Thinking of putting a carbine in a bucket strap on one of the horses to represent the horse holder.
All in all its a lot of extra work for a small unit that will probably operate 90% of the time as cavalry but at least it gives you the historically accurate option. They were also armed with the long carbine rather than the quite useless short cavalry carbine carried by everybody else and which was as accurate as the Charleville musket in trained hands i.e. 100-150 paces effective range.

Officer and NCO for the three 8 figure line units.
I've tried to come up with a minimum of one NCO and one officer for each group of three 8-figure units, with another NCO for the specialist skirmisher unit, with two groups of six infantry units commanded by a mounted officer. Each group of six has a light gun (6 pdr) & 4 crew and an 8 figure cavalry unit attached (Dragoons for one and Line Chasseurs for the other).  For the first French army this included 3 x Ligne (Line) units, 2 x Legere (1 x Voltigeur, 1 x Carabinier) and one specialist skirmisher Corsican Light Infantry (Tirailleurs du Corse).  The second French skirmish army is 3 x Ligne and 3 x Foreign Regt. #4 (Irish)/Croatian/Chasseurs d'Elbe - technically Legere (Light Infantry) also with a specialist Tirailleur skirmish/sharpshooter unit led by an NCO.

Legere led by the Corsican Brotherhood (aka 'the Emperor's Cousins') NCO and a Leger officer.

Tirailleurs Du Corse  ('Les Cousines')

Legere with Voltigeur (left) and Carabinier (right, in Kolpac)
Chasseurs D'Elbe Tirailleurs with junior officer (left) and senior NCO in Pokalem (on the right)
The battle-hardened Chasseurs led by their battle-damaged officer.
Ligne (Line) officer with its Voltigeur (light) company & NCO 
Mounted senior officer (Captaine) in overall charge of 12 infantry , two cavalry & two guns
French gun & crew. Unfortunately its an old Elite model so more like an 8 rather than 6 pdr.
1st French skirmish army
I've organised the Austrians and Russians the same way. Basically six infantry units, one cavalry and one gun per skirmish 'army'.  The Austrians are best suited as they actually had the right troop types who were also experienced in the irregular warfare of the day - the Grenz or border units from the Balkan frontier being the most experienced - followed by the famous rifle armed Jaeger (who the French nicknamed 'the Grey Devils'). The Austrians are composed of 3 x 8 figure line units, 2 x Grenz and 1 x Jaeger.  The Grenz and Jaeger each are led by an NCO (recognizable by the brass tipped cane NCOs carried). Each Line unit has an NCO and there are also three officers - two line and one light/Jaeger - not because they have them on the list but because I had the extra figures if I just wanted to field Austrians, for example.

Warasdiner St. George (fearsome Serb frontiersmen!) Grenzer with NCO and Austrian LI (or Jaeger) officer.
Jaegers led by an NCO - this can be a specialist sharpshooter unit all rifle armed.

Austrian Dragoner (dragoons) led by a bald NCO type. They are armed with the Austrian cavalry carbine which, better than the standard French cavalry carbine, was not nearly as effective as the long barreled version used by the French dragoons.
Austrian Line officers & NCO, with mounted 'Inhaber' (senior officer) They are old Foundry figures and a bit hobbit-like next to the Perry's 28mm plastics
Austrian light gun & crew.  Austrians still used battalion guns (particularly with Grenz and Hungarian regts) so had plenty of 3 pdr pop-guns available as well as 6 pdrs.
Three units of the Hapsburgs finest - Hoch & Deutschmeister - with their NCOs.
The Austrian 'Skirmish Army'
Although the Austrians had a modicum of skirmish experience with some specialist units as the war progressed the Grenz became more and more like standard line as high losses meant experienced Grenzer were replaced by conscripts only trained in basic drill and formations (column, mass and line - NOT skirmish).  At the same time they did eventually grasp that entire battalions of line could be used as a skirmish screen - same as the French. The true skirmishers were of course Jaeger, a third of who were rifle-armed sharpshooters. They were crack shots but never employed in large enough numbers or formations to be as effective as the British Light Division, for example.  The Russians were a different case again. They had dedicated Jaeger units for skirmishing - usually assigned a battalion for each brigade of line or Guard however they were not rifle armed and Russian tactical doctrine relied on mass formations and the bayonet throughout the Napoleonic Wars. What the Russians did have was a plethora of irregular units developed during 1812 and of course huge numbers of mounted Cossacks. They were the most outstanding irregulars of the period and even before 1812, terrified the French (and everyone else) with tactics that were never really effectively countered, if only because of the numbers of Cossacks available to the Russian armies of the time. Naturally my skirmish army had to have a Cossack cavalry unit. I even have a Cossack light gun (6 pdr) I can swap with the Russian line artillery piece.

Cossack 6 pdr.
There are five line units and one jaeger with three NCOs and three officers (one a Cossack?)

Russian Infantry units with officers, NCOs.

Russian line with NCO, line officer and Cossack officer

Jaeger unit with officer and NCO
Russian Line artillery with 8 pdr

Mounted Russian commander

Russian skirmish army

Because I've had to adapt the basing to fit the single base model used by Sharpe's Practice, only officers and NCOs are individually based. All others are 2 figures on a standard 30 x 20mm base. To indicate casualties I've made up plenty of figure casualty markers for each army.

French casualty markers for relevant skirmish units
Russian markers
Austrian markers
 The only thing left to do now is make movement trays for each unit. I've made them before for WRG basing so it shouldn't present too much of a challenge after just painting and basing nearly 40 figures!  We are just about set for our first game of Sharpe's Practice which I will report on in due course. Really looking forward to it actually.