Wednesday, 18 April 2018

A Little Trip to Sicily (II) - The man who didn't want to be King!

Last night we continued our Sicilian adventure and tried out The Men Who Would Be Kings from Osprey. Although these are written for colonial warfare they perfect for the period in question and the regular and irregular troop types allows for conflicts between European armies as well as those involving native forces.

The Garibaldini were split into Redshirt units with Veteran level discipline - giving them an ideological boost which holds them together a bit longer than would otherwise be the case - and the Picciotti, bandits from the hills who gained the Fieldcraft bonus allowing them to find cover and hide! Both groups were armed with obsolete rifles.

Facing them the Neapolitan regulars were treated as unenthusiastic - propping up an unpopular regime and fighting fellow countrymen took the edge off their effectiveness. However the "elite company" of grenadier and light infantry remained as normal regulars, giving them a slight edge.  The line units were armed with obsolete rifles too, but the elite unit was given modern weapons. The choice for how units were armed was as much about their ability and training  as it was about the firearms actually issued. On the Garibaldini side you can imagine what variety there was until stocks of equipment were captured and some uniformity achieved. The bourbon troops were equipped with the same weapons but I wanted to show a difference in training levels rather than actual fighting capability so allowing one unit a longer range seemed the best way to do this. Either way the points for three units aside came out as about the same.

The table was simply set up with a crossroads in the middle. The winner being the side which held that point at the end of the game.

Both sides kicked off from opposite baselines - my Regulars activating a little quicker and moving up the table ahead of John's Redshirts. The elite coy were able to reach the cover of a stone wall while one of the line companies got into an olive grove, but the company on the furthest right was unable to reach cover before coming under fire and took casualties. Under steady fire it was whittled down and driven back, only to recover and move up to to its previous position.

John's redshirts soon took up position commanding the approaches to the crossroads and another firefight opened up between his men and the regulars in the olive grove.

On the left the Picciotti had been halted by fire from the elite coy and were slowly losing men. The rules mean that cover and long ranges increase the number of hits required to cause a casualty. With both units hunkered down behind stone walls the longer range of the regulars picked off men a little easier then the bandits could and soon they were down to the last few, however they held their position and it was time to clear them out at the bayonet. The grenadiers and lights changed across the small field and through a few desultory shots which left them unscathed before engaging the enemy. More bandits fell and the remaining few legged it.

However in the middle of the table and on things were not going so well for the King of Naples men. The furthermost unit had become pinned again and was now under half strength - it failed a rally check and turned and fled. In the olive grove the center unit had fallen back a little but was now coming under fire from two redshirt units. John attempted to get them to close and attack their enemy bu had a couple of activation throws go amiss. However a poor Rally test meant the unenthusiastic regulars deciding that life in Sicily was a little hotter than they liked and they too turned and followed their companions down the road in flight.

Since that only left 10 men of the elite company we decided to call it quits and evaluate the game.

Overall the MWWBK rules flowed better the Smooth & Rifled and the casualty mechanism was more straightforward. We had to flick back and forth a few times to the rules since they are laid out as per the action types and had to check the worked examples a couple of times, but both of us felt they just "clicked" a little better. Had we had a little more time I would have thrown some cavalry and perhaps a gun in to see how they work but we were both happy with the result. Next time we aim to try something with native forces......!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

A Little Trip to Sicily - Garibaldi's Thousand

As a change from my WSS stuff I have been pottering about with other figures from my collection.  First up were my Garibaldini and Neapolitans, lovely figs who deserve to be out of their boxes more than they are. Last week at the club we gave Smooth and Rifled a go. Not a bad set of rules but a lot of +1die for the this and -1die for that and dividing by multiples of 5,7 or 9 for hits which got John and I's grey matter buzzing a bit. However it was a good game and fairly close.

As I have enough figs to try "Men Who Would Be Kings" we agreed to give them a go next week. It's supposed to be Zulu/Sudan/NW Frontier but the period is correct and equipment is correct so it's going to be shifted to 1860 Sicily. 

The figs are from Gringo40's and are tall 28's. Very well sculpted and cleanly cast with plenty detail and character. I have had these for a while and been stuck with what to do with them. They've been rebased at least twice. 

An attempt to try Neil Thomas's 19th C rules worked fairly well but they're not really skirmish sized games and I didn't want to get into big battles. The Lardies Sharp Practice set had promise and they have a supplement for the period too. However I find their rules...fussy...which is a shame because they are well written and very well supported. 

I have four units of Garibaldini - a mix of Redshirts and Picciotti bandits. They are supported by an improvised cannon and its crew - actually the "come and get it" gun from Boot Hill (another excellent range of chunky figs). Most of them were painted by David Baker, but the Picciotti include some by Stuart Asquith which I purchased online together with a few by my own hand.

I plan on adding another unit come time if this works out well, perhaps some white coated British - an odd mix of rifle volunteers, idealists and thrill seekers from the slums of Liverpool and Glasgow! The Picciotti will have "Field craft" to represent their ambush skills and but for all of the Garibaldini to be poorly armed. That should push them to close and make it likely the Bourbon troops will leg it....I hope.

Facing them are Naples "finest"....well some of them. Two units of line infantry, never enthusiastic at the best of times and conscious of propping up an unpopular regime. They are stiffened however by a unit of Cacciatore, one troop of cavalry and a gun and crew. All of these troops will be downgraded as poor shots or unenthusiastic for the line and cav so although there are plenty of they will not be in the best of shape.

If it's a  I will be looking to get some papal troops next. I have some French and Garibaldi's attempt to take Rome also provides another angle to this period. Oh and Ged at Gringo40's now has Piedmontese.....

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Battle of Helmantica 1704

Last Tuesday I had another game using Beneath the Lily Banners at Oldmeldrum Wargames Group. Andy and I continued our mini campaign with his Danes driving further in to the territory of their foes, following up the Bavarians as they retreated from the scene of the previous battle.

I picked a disguised scenario from One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas, itself based on one of Charles Grants which was based on Salamanca....that's about as covertly disguised as you can get!

Helmantica is the name of the original settlement near to the site of what would become Salamanca.

Andy's Danes advanced down the road in column heading for the town which their scouts had told them was held by the a token Bavarian force.  For two turns they advanced, getting closer and closer while my dice throwing meant that I was unable to activate any units. (Normally one would be activated, but for this scenario it was actually pretty apt that none were!).  As they closed on the town the Danes swung off the road and brought up their gun, where the hell were the rest of my troops!

The Bavarians put their battalion gun into action and sent the first round sailing between the ears of the horse drawing the Danish artillery. Their second took the head off  one of the gunners but it was going to be an uneven fight if this continued.

Then on the hills on the west side of the table the tops of banners could be seen and the Danes began to glance nervously over their shoulders, they'd been flanked. Regiments Maffey and the straggling French infantry of Touraine and Anjou appeared supported by a squadron of dragoons and another of cuirassiers.

The Danes hastily limbered up their gun and withdrew back up the road, their infantry halting and trying to wheel into line while their cavalry closed the end of their formation and protected their rear. This was all accomplished with a degree of calm and order which seemed to unsettle the men of regiment Touraine, and some were observed dropping their muskets and running from the field (I had  draw a "cowardly unit" event card and 25% of them legged it!). Loud curses were heard in German but with 5 units on the flank, one in the town and a battalion gun free to play on the Danes, the Bavarians still had the advantage


Rgt Spilberg advanced from the town, supported by its battalion gun and fired on the Danish unit to its front, the killing had began.

On the hills the Bavarian cavalry swept down, crashing into the Danish cavalry before they could move. Somehow however the dragoons found themselves facing armoured cuirassier while their own cuirassier faced the opposing horse. Danish morale held and many toppled from the saddles but they wore the red and grey of Bavarian men not the Danes. The attack had failed and over 50% of the Germans had been slain. It was a disaster.

By now regiments Anjou, Touraine and Maffey had closed to within musket range and the engagement was general across the field. The Danes had unlimbered their heavy gun which tore gaps in the French, but the Danish guards were taking casualties to their front and flank.  The decisive moment of the battle had been reached. Both the guards and their attackers from Rgt Spilberg had lost a stand but when it came to morale checks the former passed and the latter rolled a 1 - unable to stomach more losses they turned and headed back to the town in rout.  On the hills Rgt Anjou was forced to withdraw, recovered briefly and then took more casualties and  routed and suddenly the tide was turned. The Danes had the upper hand and now marginally outnumbered the Germans.

The Danish horse chased the remaining Bavarian cavalry from the field and sent a squadron galloping down the road to hound Spilberg into the town, eventually riding down the battalion gunners and sabering the men of Spilberg in the streets. 

There was no option but to withdraw, Touraine covered Maffey and the two remaining regiments retreated up the slopes. The battle was over.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Beneath the Lily Banners - Encounter at the Ford

We've been working our way through the BTLB rules since I picked up a copy of the 1ed cheaply on the Lead Adventure Forum. The 3rd edition is on its way so it seemed like a good time to play some games and learn the basics whilst building up our armies.

We've played a few games over the last couple of months and really enjoy them. This edition suffers a bit from some information being scattered over different pages and the QRS as well as different systems for morale for horse and foot, but it's hitting the spot and I'm checking daily to see when the new book is out

So we threw some terrain on the table and got things going....

The Allied army and that of the Franco-Bavarians were advancing towards each other. Both sides has sent and advance guard to seize a key ford and as a result an encounter between the two was triggered. 

The Bavarian force consisted of two regiments of foot, a medium gun, squadron of cuirassiers and a squadron of dragoons. The Danes had three foot, 1 squadron of horse and a medium gun.  Two French regiments, supposedly supporting the Bavarians had gotten lost somewhere and would not arrive til the following day! - the post was late getting them back from the painters!).

The Danes moved quickly to occupy a small farm house and field closest to the crossing whilst they brought up their remaining troops. The Bavarians moved in line of march along the road to the ford, dispatching their mounted contingent to engage and cover their right flank. Their gun deployed in front of the ford and Rgt Spilberg to its right,  which d the cover of a hedge. Rgt Maffey moved behind these units to take up position on the right, but would be thwarted from doing so by the fast moving Danes,

The Danish unit at the farm came under fire from Rgt Spilberg and the now dismounted Dragoons, a galling fire which caused it to retreat after a stand was now the guns were firing and the second Danish unit was taking hits, however the gun crew were in range of Danish muskets and were starting to be picked off. Rgt Maffey was forced to halt, its men formation split by a hedge.

The dragoons now moved up and occupied the farm but Spilberg was taking hits from the Danish gun and could not reply since the Bavarian gun crew had all been killed. However two Danish foot had been forced to retire due to mounting casualties and the crisis of the battle had been reached.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. Spilberg retreated from its position behind the hedge, it was well on the way to suffering 2 bases lost and the dragoons were still in place across the ford. Maffey was holding up and the Danes were becoming worn out. However the Danish horse had still not been engaged and launched a desperate change on the flank of Maffey. A one was rolled for Maffey's morale ....and it too was forced back. 

With both Bavarian foot regiments in retreat and the artillerymen killed there was nothing the dragoons could do and they had to mount up and retire as well, taking the in engaged curiassier with them. The Danes, though badly cut up, had secured the ford.


As we're still building up our forces we used some other figures for the Danes, just bluetacked to 60mm Bases. Each unit will have an additional casualty marker - a drummer, sgt or some other figure, to carry the hits of the unit. You can see the Bavarian ones here. All in all it was a great game, a good test of the rules and showed that not every battle has to be Blenheim! 
More games to follow....the French arrived yesterday

Sunday, 4 February 2018

AMG Forum gone but not forgotten

My favourite forum is closed for the foreseeable. The AMG forum was opened by John Ray, Author of "A Military Gentleman of the18th Century". John's book showcased his superbly sculpted 18th Century figures with excellent line drawings and a wonderful back story. There's been nothing like it in the hobby before and I doubt if there will be again. The book was a limited edition self published print, however some copies surface from time to time. If you ever have the chance to buy one, do so, you will not be disappointed.

As a spin off from the book, John invited those who owned a copy to join his forum. A chance for those to delve deeper into the world of his hobby and see more of his sculpting and games. The forum was also an excellent place to share information and gain inspiration from the projects its members were working on and spawned meetings between members, two of which I had the pleasure and privilege to attend and I am looking forward to another gathering later this year.

John worked hard to keep the forum going, despite the hosts having a few technical issues, but it closed prior to christmans and I had my fingers crossed that it would reopen. Sadly it hasn't.

Thanks John for all your hard work. It will be, as they say in these parts, sair missed!

I will wait til the see how the alternatives pan out, but I am tempted to set something up myself, if there is any interest amongst ex-members who visit here????