29 May 2016

Spanish Army of Estramadura

I have been interested in adding a Spanish force to my Peninsular war units for some time and the commissioning of a new 18mm army allowed me this opportunity. I really know very little about this army and I have to say researching this force was much more challenging than I had expected. I did not even know where to start, I knew I wanted a brigade sized force rather than a division. The Napoleonic variant of Chain of Command that I favour as a ruleset usually has 3-4 brigades per side, so I felt the addition of a Spanish unit would add some variability to a game.

With some research I found out that Spanish Divisions in the Napoleonic era were actually brigade sized so this worked out well. I then left it to Pep, the commission painter who would be doing the force, to pick something that he was interested in painting. He decided on Portago's 3rd division at the Battle of Talavera in 1809. I asked that he add a unit of artillery and cavalry to the force and off he went.

Within a couple of months he had the force painted and I received that last figures about a week ago. He really did quite a nice job on them. The only Spanish Napoleonics I had previously painted were from an earlier period when they all had white uniforms, so I was happy to see the blues and browns that make up this mid war force. Uniform research as well as army organization is quite challenging for the Spanish army and despite much internet searching, I am still a little confused especially about the make up of the Spanish army. 

The army appears to have been made up of regular and volunteer line units, various light units as well as militia. It appears that the little unit I have is quite varied in respect to quality and rating. I would love to hear from readers on how they would rate the units in this force. GB-CoC allows for elite, seasoned and untested units. The most valuable resource I found on line was actually the blog of another wargamer, JJ's Wargames. I found this excellent painting guide on his site for those who are interested. You can also read an excellent series of posts about his Spanish army and the Battle of Talvera on his blog.

All AB Miniatures with flags by Adolfo Ramos

Badajoz Volunteer Line Infantry
2nd Antequera Volunteer Light Infantry
Imperial de Toledo Volunteer Line Infantry
Provincial de  Guadix Militia
Fernando VII Volunteer Line
Jaen Line Infantry
Rey Cavalry Regiment
Foot Artillery
Major-General Marquis de Portago 

15 May 2016

Assault on the Strip: A CoC Game at Huzzah

Yesterday I drove up to Portland, Maine for the annual convention put on by the Maine Historical Wargamers Association. This is the second year I have attended, unfortunately personal obligations prevented me from staying the whole weekend, so Saturday was it for me. It looked like the convention was well attended with several games in the 4 time slots from Friday evening through Sunday morning. Terrain was generally of good quality and it was obvious that some of the game-masters had put significant effort into putting on their games. I had a look through the roster and it looked like most games had a full complement of players. I believe there were about 10 vendors there and the booths looked well stocked. I was tempted to buy a mouse pad gaming mat (I am not sure I really need more mats) but was able to control myself. I was happy to see Richard from Adventure Terrain there, it is the first time I had met him. He had a well funded Kickstarter about 3 years but was unfortunately unable to deliver the product because it was so heavily over-subscribed and as a one man team, he just could not do what was promised. He did return the backer's money with what I suspect was significant personal sacrifice. We had a long interesting chat about this and it was nice to see that he clearly is back on his feet. He really has an innovative terrain product with nesting bases and magnetic tree and rock inserts. I was very happy to finally obtain these and made a substantial purchase.

There was one major disappointment though, I was really looking forward to a demo game of Sharpe Practice 2 and unfortunately this ended up being cancelled on short notice. This was being put on by one of the TooFatLardies resellers in the US and unfortunately their shipment of rulebooks and accessories  did not arrive. This was quite unfortunate but I understand perfectly a commercial venture's reluctance to set up a game with no product to sell. They did put on a beautifully terrrained CoC game which appeared to be well attended. I have to say I was really pissed about this as I have yet to play Sharpe Practice and I was hoping to get a demo in as I am planning to introduce the game to some gamers in Montreal next month.

I did however get in a CoC game set in Pacific Theatre in 1944. It was a lot of fun and the games-master Ken Eckhardt, a gamer from New Hampshire, did a great job of refereeing. I think maybe this is the first refereed game I have played and the element of not knowing what the other side's objectives are was quite a bit of fun. The game was taken from the Battle of Peleliu, specifically on day 2 involving the attack on the airfield. There were 6 players, 3 aside. Two of us were seasoned CoC players and the other 4 were novices. The seasoned players were split, I ended up on the USMC side. The USMC had the type F organization with 3 Fire teams with one BAR and 2 riflemen per team. Three squads in the platoon with a corpsman in the Platoon HQ with two SL's. We had 6 supports so took an off table mortar and a bazooka team. I am not sure what the Japanese organization was, I know they took a MMG as a support but I am not sure what else. I took a few photos and will describe the game with their aid.

Nicely terrain table. The game was scenario 6 from the rulebook. The USMC had to advance along the long axis of the table and take the buildings in the far ground, the game being based on scenario 6 from the rulebook. We played some what of an abbreviated patrol phase. The tree stands were obstacles and were treated as light cover. Three of them in a row blocked LOS and 2 offered hard cover. This was a novel approach to me but worked well.
The Japanese had great luck with the Command Dice, I believe they must of got 6-8 double phases while we got none. Here we have one of the USMC squads. Our tactical plan was to get in position with a squad and then add the FO followed by a SL. We then planned to bring up 1 to 2 squads on the US right flank to take the airfield. This ultimately won us the game but the Japanese had selected a Preliminary Barrage as one of their supports and it took several goes to get the FO on the table and we ultimately only got on 2 of our 3 squads.
Some Japanese advancing. The Japanese placed their MMG in the Watchtower which caused us some attrition early in the game. But we were able to bring on our mortar and lay down a barrage which blocked their LOS to our squad in the centre. We were quite lucky with the barrage as we really had LOS only to the crashed plane but the barrage over fired and ended up in the centre of the table to the Japanese edge. The Japanese player had deployed all their resources as well as having isolated their SL, so the barrage caused havoc as it crept towards their right flank. We must of put down 5-6 barrages before the game ended. A major mistake, I believe made by the Japanese was using a CoC Dice to not take a Morale Test rather than ending the barrage. 
By now the USMC squad on the right flank was advancing and had taken out the Japanese squad, the path to the building was clear. I had not really appreciated before how lethal a squad with 3 BAR's and M1 carbines, with their ability to rethrow 1's, could be. By now the Japanese had taken several morale tests and their Force Morale was down to zero. I can see why the barrage rules in CoC can be frustrating especially if you are on the side being barraged, the  players were all good sports though and I believe the new players enjoyed the game. Game over with a USMC victory in the First Turn. It is the first time I had played a US force and certainly they do have their pluses.
By then it was 5pm and I had to race back to Massachusetts. I had a fun day aside from the dissapointment about Sharpe Practice. This is a pretty small convention, I believe but it was well planned and attended. Nice job.

28 April 2016

The End of an Era

Over the last week I decided to get rid of my 28mm Anglo-Portuguese army, they were well priced and sold quickly. Selling off the French army was painful, it is just not worth my time. I was also able yesterday to get rid of my 28mm NKE figures, both painted and unpainted. This project really had little interest for me.

So where does that leave me, well I still have a little over a hundred 28mm Napoleonics which I have kept for Sharpe Practice. Most of these are already based singly but thankfully it is little work to rebase the rest. I also still have some unpainted 28mm Napoleonics which I have been holding onto until the Sharpe Practice 2 ruleset was released. Well I now have it and can go through this small lead pile to see what I may need for supports.

All that was left than was my 28mm Brunswick Corps, I really had no use for it but at the same time this was my favourite army and I just did not want to sell it. Thankfully Iannick has accepted it as a gift. I had some satisfaction in giving the "Black Hoard" to someone who especially favours brightly coloured armies. Joking aside, I was very happy to give the Corps to him as I have to say he started me off in wargaming. We have not had much of a chance to play in the last year but I am going to Montreal for a month this summer and I am sure we will get in a few games.

So is it still wargaming in 28mm? Well yes it is. I have a lots of other 28mm troops aside from those destined for Sharpe Practice. I have got a very nice FIW British force which I am going to supplement with some more Indians also for Sharpe Practice. I have 4 Dark Age warbands, which are still frequently used. I have the Revenants warband in a box, they do look like an interesting group to paint. I also have some Japanese Warring States figures both painted and unpainted which I think I will keep. Samurai are just so cool, and I do enjoy painting them. I am hoping that someone develops a ruleset for large scale skirmishes for this period.

Well that is all I suppose, aside from taking down my Roll Call of the 28mm Napoleonic Armies and substituting it with an 18mm Napoleonic Roll Call!

25 April 2016

Enjoying SAGA

Over the last few weeks I have got several games of SAGA in with Adam, and I must say that I have enjoyed playing the game again. I believe it probably has been a couple of years since I have played.

The game is certainly nuanced and although probably a poor simulation (my preferred style of gaming) of Dark Ages warfare, it is a lot of fun. Adam has been playing Vikings and most recently Norse-Gaels, while I have been playing Anglo-Danes but Vikings in our last encounter. The Battleboards certainly make the game a lot of fun.

Here are some links to AR's of our recent games.

Adam has beaten me in every game but I managed a tie in our last game. The great thing about the ruleset is that with the same group of figures one can play several different factions. Each faction however is quite different. It has been a lot of fun. I can recommend the game.

19 April 2016

AB Napoleonics

I have been promising for some time to show off this new Napoleonic army, so here we go. I decided to go with exclusively AB Miniatures which are thought to be the best in this scale. They are very nice, minimal flash generally (although of course I painted very few of them) and there really is an enormous selection. My only criticism is that the metal is a little soft; we have lost some bayonets and because of this the flagpoles are a bit of a joke, so much so that I have had both painting services remove them. I have replaced them all myself with stiff metal lances (I bought a bunch a long time ago so I have forgotten from where they came). This has added a bit of work for me but I had to add standards anyway. Most of the standards are from GMB with a few from Adolfo Ramos. I would have liked to have used Flagdude but we all know that story!

After a lot of thought, I have decided to go with a Peninsular War OB, generally mirroring the Battle of Salamanca in July of 1812. I am sure I will drift into the Hundred Days campaign, but for now limiting myself to the Peninsula was thought prudent (after all this project had to be self funding from the sale of my 28mm figures). I will not go into the unit by unit detail of the OB but suffice to say it is as follows:

  • First Division: Fermor's, Von Lowe's and Wheatley's Brigades
  • Third Division: Wallace's Campbell's and Power's Brigades
  • Light Division: Barnard's and Vandeleur's Brigades
  • 5 Regiments of Cavalry
  • 1 Battery of RHA
  • 1 Battery of RFA
  • Foy's First Division: Chemineau's and Desgravier's Brigades
  • Clausel's Second Division: Berlier's and Barbot's Brigades
  • A Guards Brigade with 5 battalions
  • 8 Regiments of Cavalry
  • 3 Batteries of Artillery
SPANISH Portago's Division (Spanish Army of Estremdura 1808)
  • 6 infantry Battalions
  • 1 Cavalry Regiment
  • 1 Artillery Battery
They are not all photographed as the Spanish are on their way from Spain and I am missing still 9 battalions of French, some artillery as well as a battalion of caçadores (3 French on the way), but the rest are below.

The units have been based for the General Bonaparte meets Chain of Command (a playtest title) ruleset. As I have said ad nauseum, this is the best Napoleonic ruleset I have played. The formed infantry units vary from 6-10 stands, but stands are also required for two different types of skirmishers (as discussed below). Command figure stands are also required for colonels, Brigadiers, and Divisional Generals as well as ADC's. The game is aimed at the Divisional level with 2-4 brigades per side with cavalry and artillery support.

I commissioned 2 painters, Jose M D Aznarez (aka Pep) in Spain and Big Battalions (Graham John Campbell) in Thailand. I found Pep on TMP, he regularly sells painted AB units, so I bought a unit, found the painting to be excellent so went ahead a ordered the French units as well as half my British units from him. A little later I came up on Big Battalions on eBay, I established communication with Graham in a somewhat round about way and he sold me 8 units of painted French cavalry. These were also quite excellent so I put in an order for the 10 remaining British battalions I had not yet commissioned.

I really can not say enough positive about both these men, Pep is an excellent painter and Graham runs a first class painting service. I acquired this massive army (I am afraid to count the number of units) in less then 6 months. They both have excellent communication skills and I never worried once about the accuracy of their uniform details. Amazingly enough, neither took money up front, they purchased the figures themselves and only charged me when the figures were painted and ready to be shipped. I can recommend both services without hesitation. Pep and I purchased our figures from Eureka Miniatures USA, I have to say that Rob Walter runs an excellent operation, I have never had to wait for more then 2 days for an order. I am sure the Australian Eureka operation is the same.

Well on to the figures.
Hard to photograph the lot but here they are
Bde Chemineau by Pep
Le Jeune Garde by Pep
French Cavalry by BB
French Divisional Commander by Pep
Dragoons by BB
Garde Lanciers and Cuirassiers by BB
French Hussars by BB
Look at those numerals!
Le Jeune Garde by Pep
French Divisional Commander with ADC by Pep
French Legere by Pep
French Cavalry Division stand with ADC by Pep
My painting contribution!
French Infantry Division stand by Pep
French line by Pep
British Rifles advancing
Barnard's Bde of the Light Division. The Riffles are by BB, the 43rd by me and the Cacadores by Pep
British Divisional Commander by Pep
Von Lowe's Bde by BB
Fermor's Bde in the farground by Pep and Wheatley's Brigade in the near ground by BB, BB did a great job on the 5th/60th Rifles.  I unfortunately have no close ups of the job on the tartan by BB but it is impressive
KGL Brigade by BB
Vandeleur's Brigade with the Cacadores and 52nd by Pep and the 3/95th Rifles by BB.
Kempt's Brigade, by Pep and BB (if you have not figured it out yet they use different basing styles). The 1/45 is on the way from Spain. 
GMB Flags
Powers Portuguese Bde missing the 11th Cacadores by BB
British Cavalry by Pep
Voltiguers by BB
These skirmishers are based as Tiralleurs de Combat, they have the ability to break off  from the parent battalions and add a skirmish screen. They can also stay formed with their battalion and fight as a regular base. This is one of the things I like about the General Bonaparte meets Chain of Command ruleset.

British Cavalry is quite impressive......
......but not as impressive as French Cavalry
These British Rifles (by BB) are based as Tiralleurs en Grande Bande. The bases are twice as wide as a typical infantry base and hold 3 figures. In the ruleset these units always fight in skirmish formation.

Barnard's Brigade from the Light Division with 2 battalions fighting in Tiralleurs en Grande Bande Formation.
RHA painted by me
5/60th Rifles in Tirailleurs de Combat formation skirmishing for the Coldstream Guards
Le Jeune garde followed by the 25e legere.
Well illustrated command structure with GdB in the centre with 2 colonels with  a regiment each (of 2 battalions)
GdD off to the side with a separate base for the ADC, all important to playing this ruleset.
I can say that I have absolutely no regrets selling my 28mm Napoleonics. I finally have a coherent Peninsular force which will soon be complete. They are all on metal bases and the amount of storage required is minimal. As you can see from the first photo it is possible to field the 3 British divisions and 2 French divisions with cavalry and cannon on a 6x4 terrain. They are beautifully painted....what more could I want!