Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Terrain, Trees and Basing for 1812 Retreat from Moscow

As my enthusiasm gets the better of me I am buying up bits and pieces for the 1812 project, with limited painting time due to the stomach injury this can be a little dangerous. I wanted to explore a few things in this post with terrain and basing being the main features.

Working from home today and a knock at the door at 10am the postman gave me a veritable armful of boxes. How exciting!
First box is a mixed set of basing material and trees. The trees are bare frozen deciduous they look great but are very delicate. The icy tufts will work well and the snow flock looks particularly good. The sand I will probably use as scatter for the buildings so I dont have to use them as winter buildings only. Not sure ice chunks will be useful but lets see.
Next box is two sets of snow covered pines from warpainter, now the see I really like.
The deciduous tree fits from a size point of view.
The next box is of prussian landwher warlord plastics picked up on ebay. Now these are my least favourite of the new arrivals seeming a bit wooden. They have two boxes andi am left feeling I picked up the wrong one. The Landwher are perfect for Russian militia as The Prussians copied this practical uniform from the Russians. I may however stick with the foundry ones I already have.
Next box is more  warpainter trees larger ones this time exceptionally well packed and again great models. I just ordered a load.more.
Here you go the whole lot together.
On the painting table you can see more 1812 figures. Including one of marbots sleds.

And on thepre bench a pile more figures and packs of Foundry Russians iin greatcoats.
And the rest that need priming.
So megolaman setting in and lots happening.

Next I need to look at the  base terrian. Mats are the prefered option currently but lets see what we get from that.

So watch this space.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Kalisz Light _ A Great Northern War After Action Report

With another game planned at Steves place I was asked if I would organise a Great Northern War Black Powder game. I was keen to re-run the rules for this period anyway but wanted to see what we might get from a smaller game, in particular where there were less Swedish foot and we could really see how good (or not) the rules allowed them to be.

I decided a very scaled down version of Kalisz with a small Swedish force supported by less than enthusiastic Poles against a mixed force of Saxon, Russians and Poles supported by a large cossack force.

We would then split these forces between 4 players and should get to a quick result.
ark plonked himself in his usual chair in the corner and thus became the Russian commander by default, as Steve and Chris were already ensconced opposite it seemed reasonable tat they should take the Swedes and I would have the honour of commanding the Saxons and the Royal Polish army (Brigade)
The forces available for the game resembled the forces at Kalisz only in terms of the Countries involved. I wanted a game where the Swedes were outnumbered but could use their superior aggression against larger numbers. In the real battle the Swedes were surrounded and so heavily outnumbered they stood little real chance.

Judging by the result of the game I could have taken more pointers from the actual History.

In the historical battle of 1706 the Swedish commander of the Kalisz garrison was pursuaded by his Polish rebel allies to march out and meet the advancing Saxon and Royal Polish army which outnumbered them. Little did they know that a large Russian force had joined them and hordes of Cossacks filled the gap between the Swedish army and the town of Kalisz.

Whist I didnt want a Swedish white wash, a nod towards the actual battle gave the opportunity to downgrade the Swedish army slightly with the addition of un-reliable Polish cavalry, whilst having a colourful mix of forces to fight them

Neither side had guns (I think historical again) but the Russian foot (who were not there historically) made up for the lack of enough Saxon foot.
The Swedes had 6 battalions of foot in 2 brigades of 3, a Brigade of 3 units of light Polish Cavalry and 2 Brigades each of 3 Swedish Cavalry.

All of the Swedes had ferocious charge and Steady, so re-rolling all combat misses when charging (a huge advantage)  and re-rolling one failed save each turn until they take the first casualties, again making them a little tougher.
The allies had 2 brigades of Saxon foot, each of 3 battalions and one Brigade of Russian foot with a line battalion and 2 foot Cossack battalions.

These were supported by a mixed brigade of 2 Saxon and 2 Russian Horse one the left and a Polish Briagde with 2 Winged Hussar units, a Pancerni and a Light Horse unit.

Off table reinforcements were a brigade of four Cossack light horse regiments.

So 6 Swedish foot vs 9 Allied foot and 9 Swedish/Polish Horse vs 12 Allied Horse. Would it be enough?
So rolled initiative for the game and Allies to go first, the cavalry and Half the Saxon foot advanced whilst the other 2 brigades of foot decided they where happy to remain where they were. We rolled for reinforcements and the Cossack Brigade arrived on the extreme right allied flank on move 1, hurrah!

Swedish turn and Chris took the bull by the horns with an immediate charge on the Allied horse, Mark elected to stand and fire rather than counter charge and Chris rolled low so galloped across the table and straight into the ranks of waiting allied horse. A quick Pistol volley and one casualty to the furthest Swedish unit and they were upon each other with the cold steel. After a hard fought melee the front two units of Allies were broken. However the Swedish unit already damaged took enough casualties to be shaken, the next unit took the opportunity to make a sweeping advance into Marks next unit forcing it to retire, but in the process lost enough of its own troops to also become shaken.

A good start for the Swedes but there own forces had taken significant damage.

On Allied right the Cavalry were now sweeping forward and the Swedes and Poles counter charged. A series of bloody melees eventually seeing the Polish Winged Hussars broken and all the other troops pulling back with significant damage.

The Allied foot now got going and moved up to support the forward Saxon Brigade and Chris wisely pulled back his two shaken units of Swedish horse and left the untouched one to charge the rest of the Allied horse. Unfortunately he didnt make it and stopped just outside pistol range much to Marks frustration.

The Swedish foot now began a steady advance, halting at what they thought was just outside musketry range.

After a rush of blood I decided that the remnants of the Royal Polish Cavalry Brigade would now charge the Swedish horse, the results were predictable, despite driving one unit of the Swedes back  both my horse were broken and the remaining unit of Swedish horse made a sweeping advance into my foot. Fortunately for me the line held and the Swedish Cavalry were thrown back, but the loss of so much of our horse was a severe if expected blow.

The remaining Swedes now charged the Cossacks, again the results were entirely predictable and when the remaining undamaged Cossack unit took on the Pancerni and lost the whole brigade predictably legged it!

Forunately the Saxon and Russian foot were made of sterner stuff and a series of volleys disordered three of the four front rank units. The remaining one choosing to carry on its advance regardless. Having seen the effect of Swedish hand to hand, Steve was keen to close with the Saxons.

As usual volumes of tea and biscuits were provided, this time Steve did the honours with Julie out, with the whole of my right flank cavalry destoyed I ate the last biscuit out of pure spite. That'll teach em.
Re-organising themselves the Swedes continued a steady advance and front battalion charged rg=the Saxons, it took two rounds of melee but eventually they broke.
I tried to refuse my flank only to roll a blunder and have one unit withdraw, things were now starting to look a bit desperate.
Mark however had marched his Russians and Cossack foot brigade all the way behind the Swedes and seen off a unit of Cavalry, Chris refusing his flank to avoid the line being rolled up/
The Swedes however were now closing with the Saxons, the re-roll of all misses leaving the next Saxon unit rolling a break tests on a minus 5 having taken 8 casualties. Again the results were predictable, although the remaining battalion in the Brigade passed its Brigade break test.

Two more Swedish battalions charged and two more of my Saxons Battalions broke, even I had to admit it was all over.
Having lost three brigades of cavalry and all but one battalion from two Brigades of Saxon foot only the Russian foot brigade remained and was horribly exposed. An overwhelming victory for the Swedes.
So apart from a great game and lots of biscuits what did we get from the night?

Adding ferocious charge, crack and steady makes the Swedes exceptionally tough, in fact almost invincible in the early stages of a battle. The extras see them pass their first break tests and re-roll a failed save until their first casualties. The Ferocious charge is devastating, re-rolling every miss when you already hit on anything but a one or two means you will win the majority of melees in the first round. Historically that actually all sounds about right, so you need about double their numbers or larger volumes of firepower, including guns, to ensure you can take the Swedes on, earthworks are also an evener of the odds.

In a stand up fight in the open odds of 2-3 mean the allies are unlikely to win, again I am happy with that.

Cossacks are pretty useless in a stand up fight, again a tick for me. We introduced a Cossack rule that stops them charging formed regular infantry and cavalry unless its shaken or disordered  or charged in flank a and rear. And the better Polish cavalry can fight well but dont have the stamina of the Swedes, again tick.

We also introduced the same Cossack rule to Allied infantry to stop Mark beating the Swedes at their own game and charging them first. Historically they didnt do it so again only allowed to charge shake or dis-ordered units unless charging flanks and rear.

So the balance seems about right. The game worked, the result was about where it should be.

And even more impressive this is only about a third of our combined GNW collection and it gave a good nights game for four players.

My only hesitation in all this is whether Black Powder gives a period feel. Using the rules for Carlist Wars and sometimes AWI leaves us in danger of games becoming too "samey" despite the heavy amendments and enjoyable historical results.

On balance its a fun game, we enjoyed and it felt right but period specific rules has to be our end goal.

With that in mind I have ordered Beneath the Lilley Banners 3. Specific for the period and with Great Northern War supplements promised I am keen to see how Barry Hiltons rules handle the period. I see they have arrived at Barry;s today and expect to have mine withing the week so watch this space as we play test BLB3 and see how we get on with the..

Thanks for reading and I will see you again soon.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

OH NO! Not Another Project - Retreat from Moscow 1812

Well the title says it all not content with starting numerous projects and finishing very few of them I have suddenly found myself immersed in all the fun of planning a new project which will test my painting skills and add a very different dimension to my gaming collections.

I blame the recent weather which the media has called the beast from the east.

I have always been fascinated by the disastrous 1812 retreat from Moscow where Napoleon lost the best part of his 95,000 strong Grande Armee that had survived the blood bath of Borodino. The range of figures from Perry was a real issue for me to resist, so after 18 months I have given in. So far I have a small number of Cossacks, 2 packs of Murowski Miniatures Poles for the retreat and a couple of packs of Foundry Russian Grenadiers I picked up at the recent York show. But there is a lot more in the pipeline.

The first couple of these came out really well, since then I have found that the great coated figures are actually quite quick to paint and I am really enjoying the variety of the figures.

I am in that euphoric stage at the moment of imagining how this will look, how will I approach the project, how will I base them and what will the unit sizes be. Initial thoughts on rules are Black Powder and Sharpe Practice. One of the things driving my basing thought process is a way to utilise the bases so I can use both rule sets. That will mean I can use the figures in the early days when there are relatively few finished but also have larger battles in mind. It probably lends itself more to the smaller games but would be great to work for both.

So I am sourcing figures and thinking about terrain and basing plus organisation etc whilst adding the odd extra figure to the workbench.

I will update you on the terrain separately as this looks interesting and perhaps talk further about basing at the same time. I have had a bit of a result with the figures as chum Jerry had a load of Perry retreat from Moscow French spare and a contact on the Lead Adventure Forum has Russian foot in great coats we are discussing.

Initial thoughts are all based in 4's so Sharp Practice units of 8 will work. Add some units based in 2's for skirmishers and we get to the Sharp Practice 6 skirmishers easily enough whilst still being able to use them for Black Powder.

For the Black Powder organisation initial thoughts are French in small units of say 12 figures on 3 bases, Russians in 16's on 4 bases and small units of stragglers in 8's on 2 bases. These can be broken up to form units for Sharp Practice. This has the advantage of using a small amount of space on the table and from a firing point of view being one dice per base, reducing movement due to the snow and exhaustion also allows for a smaller playing space. I am hoping for a 6x4 feet space but might need 6x8.

Still a work in progress though as I dont know how the unit sizes will actually look.

40x40 bases are going to be too small. 50mm front by 60mm deep look great for the French and Poles and give lots of room for the bayonets on the advancing or firing figures and also all the clutter of broken drums, bodies and wheels etc scattered over the retreat. I am unsure how 4 marching Russians will look on this large base but it is perfect for the cavalry. Once I have a few painted up I will blue tack them to bases and share my thoughts on here.

So thats it for now, whilst you all chuckle and shake your heads I will be ploughing on through the snow and seeing where this new project takes me, wish me luck.

Friday, 2 March 2018

El Cid Catalan Knights a late addition

So as we were getting near to the big game I had painted all the extra units I hoped to but also got a couple of Knights for the next unit done and sent off with the basing department. The horses were half painted so  thought maybe I could get the last four figures finished and painted ready for the game.

Having painted 2 more when the basing department came home and dropped off the finished goodies, she kindly half based this and a couple of other bits, so I cracked on with the last two and based these myself. I wont embaress myself by asking you to guess who's are who's, she is at leats as good as me these days.

Anyway this meant I had an extra unit which was just as well as a couple of players were unable to make it on the day so everything extra was a bonus,

I particularly like these guys and I think they look very Spanish with the cloth around the helmets and the mix of horses.

I have again used red and gold as these will join Count Berengers of Barcelona's forces.

A mix of different figures but mainly Gripping Beast.

I do enjoy trying to come up with different shield designs but keeping the colour schemes the same, photos are a bit all over as my light stand snapped and I was balancing a light in one hand and the tablet in the other.

Very happy with these although they didnt see much action on the day unfortunately.

This should be the last of the El Cid for a little while as I hope to get stuck back into the Great Northern War again. Chum Steve has kindly base coated a unit of Swedes, an ebay purchase is providing me with another 2 battalions and the Warfare Swedish Cavalry is due soon.

We may even do a game for GNW in March.

Thanks for reading see you soon.