Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Canberra's Little Wars 2016

This is my second attempt to post after the @#$%ing PC crashed last night and I lost the lot. Usually saves a draft - not this time Josephine. Swear I have so many things happening at the same time its doing my head in. Well in the immortal words of Bullwinkle Moose: "This time fer sure!"

First up my hearty congratulations to Ian, Leigh and Greg for putting on another great Little Wars convention.  Raised over $400 for Soldier On so a great effort one and all. And what an enjoyable day's gaming there was!  So many different and amazing looking games - a bit of something for everyone.  I think the traders did good business as well - Dean from Olympian ran a well-attended bring-and-buy as well as his usual array of laser-cut precision MDF bits and BA-CoC-Saga etc etc bits and bobs at bargain prices as well as Nick from Eureka with a mouth-watering array of fantastic figures. Wargamer heaven it was.  Now the games.

First I noticed was an amazing Rome v Carthage in 54mm with hundreds of figures - looked spectacular!

Next to our Sharp Practice game my mate Cam had set up a very cool fantasy Horde of the Lizard King game with a suitably glittering prize horde of ... well , glittery stuff AND spectacular scenery a la Ankor Wat junglie-like hall. Look here are some photos ok?


Man, I seriously covet my neighbour's temple. Have no idea what I'd use it for - me just wants it. My Precious.

Also right up there in the wargame desirability stakes was Greg's Viking Raid game with some spectacular to-scale (28mm) Viking longboats. Although he doesn't realize it he has generously donated a couple of his excellent photos of it for my blog.  Thanks Greg!
Another was a great-looking table of modular terrain for a 20mm - 1/72 WWI Western Front game with tanks, cavalry (!) gas-mask-clad infantry and beautifully made trenchworks.
To the west of this - waaay out west - was a small but spectacular table that looked like it could have been a Hollywood film set for a game of Dead Man's Hand. A superbly-made Western town replete with railway terminal and the Dalton gang drawin' thur  six-shooters ta pump dang varmints fulla lead that be needin' a good shootin'! I'm sure that's what they told the Sheriff.  Oh wait... HE was the one they were pumpin' fulla lead?  My bad.
Also a spectacular-looking game table with an amazing set was the WWII Arnhem game brought by the same chaps that did the equally spectacular-looking raid on a U-boat in its pen game last year. The work they must put into these is mind-boggling.  Have a look at these photos and prepare to be boggled. As with the above game, my phone-photography doesn't do it justice. The last photo is a rather neat Charge of the Light Brigade in 15mm.
Myself Mark and Owen put on a Sharp Practice (ver. 2) game 'Somewhere in Russia - 1812'. I supplied the figures for two Russian, a French and a Polish force in what we intended to be more of an encounter skirmish game. Michael Geld took the Polish command (thanks Geldie) to round out numbers and proceeded to do what Poles like to do when they encounter Russians - give 'em a darn good flogging!  Pity the same couldn't be said about my French who failed to advance and dislodge Owen's deftly-handled Russians opposite.  I put it down to Cossack-fear.  My Voltigeurs fired a thunderous volley into them that killed two and put no less than nine (nine!!!) shock on them which saw them...  run away a little then ignore my lousy shooting for virtually the rest of the game.
The figures are a mix of mainly Perry's and Front Rank - with a few lovely old Foundry (French Legere) and some odds and sods thrown in like Victrix plastics for two brown jacketed units of the 'Emperor's Cousins' (Corsicans of course). The Poles are all the beautifully Paul Hicks sculpted Murowski Miniatures with Perry's Guard (Polish) Lancers.  The greatest success and failures of the game involved the French & Polish cavalry.
The successful cav: Geldie's Poles ride down and chase Mark's Russian infantry right off the table! And the unsuccessful cav: what's left of my dragoons after surprising Owen's infantry in line, hitting their flank - and getting bounced! Owen's repeated volleys did the rest.

My infantry fared little better - stuck in the middle of an open field they copped horrendous casualties from Owen's infantry and gun in front and his Jaegers in the apple orchard on their right.  Even when my skirmishers (more Corsicans of course) eventually came on and joined in they could make no headway. At the end they had 14 out of 24 figures left and were carrying 26 shock! My artillery made up for it a bit by enfilading the unit that bounced my dragoons but those Russians are a tough lot - never looked like budging let alone breaking!

It was a different story for the Poles.  Although the cavalry were virtually destroyed by their efforts, they did drive off most if not all of the opposing Russian infantry.  The Polish infantry volleyed Mark's cossacks out of the way (no cossack-fear for the Poles!) advanced virtually unopposed and got into the village, copped some canister hits from Mark's gun, laughed it off then bayonet charged and captured both gun and the crossroads objective.


While remaining completely unimpressed with the SP Hollywood history treatment of Fisticuffs between fresh cavalry and infantry not in a defensive formation (result = completely unrealistic crap simply due to the lack of factors to hit for the cavalry) the overall mechanism works and makes for a fun game. It also means you don't have to have masses of figures to have a reasonable wargame.

Thanks to those that joined in and hope they had a good time - two to three hours for a 60+ points a side game is very doable even on a large table and we managed that with a break for lunch.  And a nice icy cold beer afterwards to celebrate a successful Little Wars for another year!

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!