Monday, December 10, 2012

Another TYW game - this time Pike & Shotte - weekend gaming down at t'club!

Last weekend was the monthly get together of our little wargaming group at the sumptuous Vikings Sports Club in Lanyon.  Not only are the gaming rooms spacious and clean - there's a bar (several in fact) and a restaurant for lunches.  Luxury I tell you!  Great way to spend a Sunday arvo too!  Our little group staged about four or five games, ranging from several varieties of WW2 (Disposable Heroes tank action, Bolt Action skirmish, Command Decision 15mm) to a Wild West skirmish game featuring our very own bushranger (outlaw) legend, Ned Kelly, and our Pike and Shotte Thirty Years War game between German Imperialists/Polish C'wealth and Scots Covenanters.  A nice bit of variety!

Importantly, Greg got around the games with his camera and took the following of some of the action (thanks also to organiser Leigh who emailed them to us):

Ian & Greg's Disposable Heroes WWII tank action game, set in 1941.

Some of Ian's amazing collection of WWII tanks - early war Russian armour launches its assault.

Wild West skirmish action (set in colonial Australia of course!) which featured our most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly.

And finally, myself and Mark get stuck into a short BlackPowder Pike & Shotte game.

For our little TYW scenario, as we had previously only used Warhammer ECW we decided to keep it short and simple so we could familiarize ourselves with the Pike & Shotte mechanics which differ significantly in some important aspects.  Despite the constant referencing to the book, it was an enjoyable and remarkably non-contentious game - the Black Powder 'gentlemen's agreement' aspect working so well we didn't even have to dice to decide anything!  

The main Polish contingent led by the Pancerni race for control of the village cross road

Polish traffic-jam on the road into the village - the little wood also obstructing the Pole's deployment.

The idea was for two matched sides entering from both edges, with one flank attempting to control the village cross-roads and the main forces trying to control the main road and bridge access.  The river was also fordable in two places but it never came to that as the main action took place at the other end of the table and then in the centre.  The good thing with the command rules is that if you roll well enough (three or more less than the commander's rating) you can get up to three moves in per turn for each command.  You tend to get stuck in pretty quickly.  

Mark's Scots led by his lancers race for the same objective from the other side.  Note the fearsome mortar in the foreground - fortunately for the Poles it didn't manage to hit anything.  That appeared to be largely the case with all the artillery on both sides - so I don't know if we got it entirely right this game.

German Imperialists main battalia (led by the redoubtable Saxons) forming the centre didn't get off to a very good start in the 1st Turn, only managing one move initially.

The Polish Cossack-led flanking force at the other end had to negotiate a hill before finding the enemy. The Cossacks are filth but have marauder capability which means they can pretty much do as they please - both a blessing and a nuisance for their German commander as they had a tendency to just take off - anywhere!

Seeking to pin the Imperialist flank were more of the dreaded Scots lancers

In the second turn the Cossack swarm managed to get over the hill and deploy before the Scots could move up.  Very cheekily they fired their bows at long range and managed (amazingly) to inflict a casualty and disorder the Scots lancers which was to have serious consequences for the Scots on the flank.  Note the German cuirassier behind have deployed into line ready to charge.

After disordering the Scots lancers the cossacks by-passed them, the swarm passing through the forest and overwhelming the gun on the other side which had previously managed one of the few hits.  They then swarmed on to hit one of the Scots shotte sleeves. But these Scots were made of sterner stuff and managed to hold them off.

Right behind the Cossacks, the German heavies hit the disordered Scots lancers and wiped them out.  One feature of Pike & Shotte rules is when you loose, you can really loose with the defeated unit removed from the table!

In the centre a battle royal between a German and Scots pike blocks, with neither side gaining a decisive advantage.  The German's shotte units were disordered by Scots musket and artillery fire and were kind of left behind when the pike decided to risk all and charge the centre of the Scots line!  

They copped shooting casualties but passed their morale and were finally only disordered by the Scots pike, who also ended up disordered.  After two turns of combat, both blocks retired back one move - the German's now vulnerable to the Scots extra shotte sleeves.

In the middle the Scots had been slugging it out with German Reiter across the hedge, again without either side suffering significant casualties (lousy shooting on both sides). The tide was not turned until they engaged with the Saxon shotte unit in front and were then hit at the same time by the pike block in the flank.  Ouch.

In the village the Scots got to the crossroad first but were hit by the Pancerni while still in column.  The Poles were closely supported by the Haiduks behind, the combat advantage enough to wipe out the other Scots lancers with the difference in the combat dice roll.

On the other side of the village the Polish shotte and light gun managed to get some shooting in at the Scot's heavy cav without result, ending in a sort of Mexican stand-off by the end of the game.

In the middle the hapless Scots were eventually wiped out by the Saxon pike (the German Reiter deciding very wisely NOT to try and jump over the hedge!) The other Scots had turned to face the oncoming victorious pike block but by this time it was the end of the game.

At the other end of the table Mark's Scots looked like they were about to be swept away by a sea of feelthy cossacks - but no!  These Scots managed to not only hold them off but inflicted casualties without loss themselves.  As you can't 'disorder' a swarm there was a good chance the cossacks would have run away if the game had continued and they lost another round of combat.

It was a great day's gaming and although we only managed about five full turns, the game was only two or three turns from a decisive finish - given the Scot's loss of three units and a gun it looked like victory to the German/Polish army.  Mark and I were impressed with the Pike and Shotte rules and will no doubt be trying them out again soon.   Also a big thank you to Leigh and Ian for organising another great day of gaming at the club - we even managed to raise some money for the Salvos - so well done to all concerned.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Empire French cavalry (again) and some dead horses!

As followers of this blog will know, I have somewhat of a fascination with French cavalry of both the first and second Empires (considering the number of posts, that maybe a bit of an understatement!)  Found some photos I'd taken of my Franco-Prussian War French cavalry that I'd forgotten about.  These and more (the cuirassiers I posted about earlier this year) are now ready for our big FPW demo game at the next Cancon gaming convention in 2013.  Just finished off the last two battalions of line infantry (and one of Algerians) and now with my wargaming scenario partner Doug, we should have enough figures to stage pretty much a full corps scale action (Froschwiller - see also some of my earlier posts on our test games).

French Dragoons - from the marvelous Foundry FPW range with a particularly wonderful officer figure - very hard to get!

The famous Chasseurs D'Afrique - arguably the most effective French cavalry of the war.  These figures have the taller shako-style parade cap worn at the start of the conflict - which they soon swapped for the soft kepi on campaign. Note the Spahi Algerian native cavalry behind them - they were the most effective French cavalry in the second  or Republican phase of the war.

French Guard Lancers in mantle with command in full uniform (the officer in the white 'parade' jacket) - again, some of the simpler but nicest of the Foundry figures in the range.

One of the things that came up with our test games was the number of casualties suffered by many of the units engaged and how to record these with markers during the game - we ran out of figure markers constantly and had no cavalry markers at all.  To help solve that little problem I found a really good use for my old plastic 20mm and some old broken Minifigs horses.

One Russian hussar, an Austrian kuirassier and uhlan (lancer) - alles kaput!

The French version -  a Carabinier, lancer and cuirassier - hors d'combat!

 and some dead 'orses!
Revell, Airfix, Italeri (plastics 1/72nd) & Minifigs

A dead cuirassier horse - being French they'll probably use the breastplate to cook a bit of him up after the battle!

 Carabinier detail
 Uhlan (Austrian)
Cuirassier (Airfix)

I was loath to use good 28mm horses as casualty markers - too expensive and fiddly to alter - then I found the old plastics when selling my 20mm collection. I know they are 1st Empire Napoleonics but  they actually fit in and look better on the table than other markers.  I've  mounted the horses (excuse the pun) on two overlapping card bases, the idea being that one casualty marker can represent up to four casualties per unit.  I've used exactly the same method on the casualty figures for the French and Prussian infantry. You can never have enough casualty figure markers in large Black Powder games!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Thirty Years War - Poles versus Swedes

Last weekend we had our second meeting of our wargaming group at the Lanyon Vikings Sports Club (a great venue!)   This time we had about a dozen players and four decent games - Greg's Zulu War Isandlwana scenario which he will feature together with an impressive piece of mountain scenery at the next Cancon. Mike and Craig did a Saga game with Vikings versus a Crusader military order. Leigh and Ian did a  Rapidfire 20mm refight of the WWII Corinth Canal (Op HANNIBAL).  Mike has posted some great photos and a two part report on his terrific Satrap Miniatures blog.  Doug, Mark and myself tried a Thirty Years War Pike and Shotte scenario - one of the earlier fights between Gustavus Adolphus' Swedes and the Polish Commonwealth (mainly) mounted army at some place with an unpronounceable name in Pomerania using the Warhammer ECW rules.

In the scenario the Swedes and their allies (mainly Scottish mercenaries) set up on a low series of hills opposite a low flat boggy fields with a road up the middle.  One regiment of mercenary pike and shot, my only gun (a Saker) and my cossacks were the only forces deployed with the rest of the Polish forces which included their German mercenaries marching up the only road as it emerged from marshland.  Rightly fearing the Polish horse, the Swedes had chosen their position well to restrict the Polish cavalry's maneuverability.

Polish cavalry including the famous Winged Hussars come on up the road through the marshland and deploy

I whinged a lot about the scenario thinking the hordes of Swedish artillery would just slaughter me as I came up the road - my only way on - but Doug assured me that artillery of that time was just not that good.  Well it was and it wasn't.  When it hit it did a lot of damage on the dense formations but it took quite a bit to hit - from trying to estimate the distance then a pretty good chance of a misfire of some sort.  The Swedes had only four rounds of shooting before using up all their ammunition too.  Not that it made all that much difference for my poor old Polish Pancerni cavalry who were first up the road.  

The German mercenary shotte advance with the Pancerni trotting up the road in column, an irresistible target for the Swedish guns.

The cossacks race ahead to form a skirmish screen for the cavalry coming up behind

Part of the daunting Swedish position - the right wing with Culverins on the hill, Scottish mercs in front and their heavy armoured cavalry anchoring the end

The Polish shotte come on right after the last of the cavalry (mercenary German Reiter) who have managed to mask the only Polish gun for a turn.

The Polish left including one regiment of the famous Winged Hussars. The much reduced Pancerni (about half left but still on the field!) deploy in front of the German foot.

The fearsome Haiduks (armed to the teeth with muskets, swords and dirty great axes) come on in front of the second regiment of German foot.  Unfortunately they didn't get close enough to get into action before the game ended.

After a bit of success with my own single gun firing straight up the road there was nothing for it but to charge in with my heavy cavalry and hope for the best.  On the right I started the right way with the cossacks skirmishing in front of the dangerous Swedish foot, trying to draw their fire and screening the other regiment of Winged Hussars deploying behind them and waiting for the right time to charge in.

 The cossacks skirmish with the Swedish foot - bows against muskets looks uneven but the milling cossacks are a hard target to hit!  Amazingly the losses were about the same!

The Swedish Culverins keep up a lively cannonade on the Polish cavalry.  These guns and the Petard (mortar) actually scored several hits on the hussars and the German Reiter deploying off the road behind them.

The lone Polish Saker in the far distance, when not masked by deploying troops, successfully targeted the Swedish troops at the other end of the road. No misfires for this baby!

I tried the same tactic on the Swedish right.  Unfortunately I did not have enough Pancerni left to screen my hussars properly as they had been decimated by continual cannonade and my hussars too started to suffer more hits from the Swedish guns. In a way the Pancerni had served their purpose by drawing the fire that could have otherwise weakened the hussars. The last of the Pancerni disappeared from the field after a massed volley by all the Scots mercenaries in the village virtually wiped them out. There was nothing for it but for the hussars to charge straight in.

The hussars absorb the shot and charge into contact with the pike, successfully discharging their pistols into the dense ranks of pikemen before hitting them with their own 22 foot lances!

After a ferocious melee the pike unit was destroyed and the muskets fled the field, with the hussars deciding to risk all by continuing their charge right into the guns and supporting shot (artillery guard)

It proved all too much for the artillery crews and their guard who broke and fled.  Unfortunately for the Swedes they had decided to move their heavy cavalry into the centre, otherwise the hussars would not have dared attempt to continue the attack

The last of the Pancerni - soon all but two were cut down by a deadly massed volley from the nervous Scots opposite (nearly half had already fled in panic after the successful hussar charge)

The fifth and final turn saw the last of three rounds of hand-to-hand combat between the other hussar regiment and the redoubtable Swedish pike in the centre.  The Swedes lost every combat, being whittled down to just the colour party and a few men surviving - but still standing their ground! The presence of their beloved CinC on the hill directly behind providing the incentive to fight to the last - and providing the Swedes with the necessary points to survive their morale rolls after each loosing round of combat!

Surrounded by heavy armoured hussars who hacked them down with their deadly three foot long Palasch swords, the pike stand by their colours to the last man!  Their courage saved the Swedish centre from caving in.

The final act of the game - the threatening Swedish heavy cavalry about to cop a massed volley from the famous 'Wiessfrocken' German mercs opposite 

The Swedish centre wavered but held thanks to the redoubtable Swedish pike.  The heavy armoured cavalry attempted to relieve the pressure by moving up the road against the German 'Weissfrockern' ('Whiteshirts') mercenaries advancing against the Swedish centre.  The Germans risked a massed volley (it means everybody fires at once) which gives you extra chances to hit but means you can't fire next turn - its a one shot option!  Their shooting was deadly mowing down half the front rank of cavalry who were so unnerved by it they failed their morale and fled the field.  At the same time the cossacks, although down on numbers, somehow managed to hold off Mark's Finnish madmen (light horse in the service of the Swedes - Poles hated and feared them!) long enough to eliminate the last of the threats from the Swedish position.

At that stage we had run out of time and had to finish up, awarding the game to the Poles.   I have to thank Doug and Mark for a great game and putting up with my whining about the scenario, given I was unfamiliar with the rules (and wondered how the heck they would work for the unique Polish hussars).  I should also thank Leigh and Ian for again organising a great days gaming at the club with its great counter lunch and wet bar (what more could a hungry, thirsty gamer want I ask you?).  A great afternoon at t'club with the lads -
and we'll be playing more Pike and Shot again!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Dandy King

Went to a car boot sale at a place called Marulan outside of Goulburn.  There's an irregular bring-and-buy for all the regional gamers - in the Minister for War and Finance's home town no less, how rich is that? While it grinds her gears to think of us nerds invading her sacred home town (of the three-men-and-a-dog variety) we wargaming types find it very convivial and convenient [grin].  At one of these sales I bought a job lot of Napoleonic Foundry figures, mainly French infantry but one of the bags was an assortment of mounted officers.  I had a look at them the other day and lo and behold - Napoleon, Ney, an aide-de-camp and Murat!  These are all the old Foundry figures and the ones of Ney and Murat are particularly good.  Couldn't resist it - I needed a cavalry general and got a Marshal of the Empire - bargain!  He's perfect for my hordes of French cavalry, so I had to paint him up, which I did last night.

The Dandy King
Although he is an old Foundry 25mm, and a bit stunted against the 28mm Perry's, he still fits in OK. The figure is based on the Gros portrait with Murat in his King of the Two Sicilies outfit (who's a pretty boy then?)

The portrait on which the figure is based - should have added a bit more white on the belly of his tiger pelt when I painted him.

Rear view of the Murat figure - see what I mean about the tiger? I'll have to fix that up.

Murat at the head of his dragoons, circa 1807?  Love the hat Joachim!

Well, that's it.  My little indulgence this arvo.  Might do the Ney figure next but I'm really just putting off painting the small avalanche of lead that awaits patiently on the painting table.

Cheers for now.