Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A panel of learned Judges

The panel of Judges

So I mentioned previously that I needed some means of adjudicating between the worthy contestants. Dice were suggested by a party who shall remain nameless.  Dice would be entirely inappropriate as they would be completely random.  What this situation requires is a detailed and rigorous appreciation of the merits of the case.  With that in mind I have selected a panel of two learned Judges to give their opinion. 

The Voting

The Judges have reviewed each answer in depth and will mull over them this evening. They will then cast a vote for the contestant they think is most deserving. 

Whichever bowl is empty tomorrow - shall be judged to be the winner!

Judges decision

I will have to plead to being up to my neck in coursework and work over the last few weeks, but some of you may recall we had a competition here not so long ago. 

Our entrants were

1. Steve the Wargamer
2. The Celtic Curmudgeon (spoiled ballot)
3. Tomo
4. The Mad Padre
5. Archduke Piccolo

Of the above, the Celtic Curmudgeon is out because he didn't answer the question and Mad Padre is also out because he did not get the question right, leaving us with.

1. Steve the Wargamer
2. Tomo
3. Archduke Piccolo

Now these are all fine answers, but I'm damned if I can slip a knife edge between 'em. Watch this space - I will find a way to distinguish between them. I will have to refer this to the judges. Final answer by Monday at the latest.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Borodino - 7 September 1812 (Utitza) - Part Two

The Kitchen 

As the ululating lament of McHibernia-McEireanneach from the kitchen had subsided somewhat -  I decided to risk putting my head around the door only to discover the kitchen swathed in mist. A single Wolfhound loped through the murk, pausing only to howl mournfully, and then disappeared. 

After dragging McEireanneach out of the kitchen and deciding that I was going to have to do something about the sudden appearance of trees before Mrs. Kinch came home, I pressed another medicinal brandy on him (his previous one was "with O'Leary in the grave" apparently - whatever that means) and we went back to the important work of Borodino. 

The French centre advances to contest the village

McEireanneach advanced in the centre, where I hoped to drag him into a firefight around the village. 

Cossacks supported by the Moscow regiment move to threaten the French right

With a dearth of centre cards, I moved up some reserves on my left as I thought at least if I could hit his left he would have very limited space to fall back into. 

A surprise attack!

Now as it happened McEireanneach spotted what I was doing and move his light cavalry forward.  These fellows are a lot more dangerous than my cossacks and would make short work of them. Not only that, but I'd ended up with two Cavalry Charge cards in hand. As I had no other cavalry other than the Cossacks, I formed the opinion that there was no point waiting to be attacked and I that I might as well extract as much as I could from the card before the French dispersed my horsemen. 

So I launched a sudden Cossack charge that knocked the stuffing out of the French light horse. 

The historians will be writing about this one for a while.

The French countercharge was pretty lukewarm and didn't wipe me out. I reckon that a lot of ink will be spilled on that particular engagement in years to come as Historians will try and argue that Cossacks were perfectly capable as serving as battlefield cavalry. 

French guns barrage the village of Utitza

Meanwhile, the French infantry were proving stubbornly reluctant to close on Utitza leaving their guns to do the talking for them. 

With the French resolutely refusing to close - the Russian line creaks into action and moves forward.

On the left, the French close with bayonet. 

And do great execution.

The Russian line hits the Swiss and the lights in the centre.

As I had been forced to bring on a general engagement in the centre, I decided to push with everything I had there. Fire crackled up and down the line. 

Doing for the Swiss and their leader.

And driving the lights back.

With the battle hanging in the balance, the Russian line advances.

This was quite a tough decision, the scores were (if memory serves) even with the next scoring point taking victory.  I worked on the basis that attacking was preferable to playing it safe on the grounds that I was more likely to be able to wipe out or destroy one of the wavering French units. 

Follow me men!

As my gallant general closed the distance in the hope of smashing the tatters of the French centre, a lucky volley from the remaining lights put paid to that idea. 

And the cannonade finishes the business.

Counter attacking McEireanneach launched an artillery in the centre to blast the 18th Jeagers holding Utitza and that was that. 

It was a close game and an absolute pleasure from beginning to end.  Hopefully McEireanneach will return, though not before I've managed to get rid of the glade in the kitchen and the Dolmen in the hall. Sadly, the shock of victory as opposing to the traditional defeat and flight to France was too much for McEireanneach and he had to take to the bed. 

We hope he gets well soon. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Borodino - 7 September 1812 (Utitza) - Part One

General Poniatowski - looking very dishy I must say. 

I'd love to say that I haven't been updating the blog because I've been flat out playing games and having way too much fun - but in actual fact, it's mainly because I've been flat out in work and attending college. The course has been demanding, but I'm enjoying it. Unfortunately it doesn't really leave time for anything else and between getting to work and to class, any spare time I have have has been spent with Mrs. Kinch. 

But I've had this sitting in my drafts section and I've finally managed to put some sort of shape on it. 

An unexpected reinforcement for the French

Prior to my dissappearing down a rabbit hole of legal studies, I managed to get a game in.  What I lacked was an opponent, but this deficiency was put right by the sudden arrival of a tall, wild eyed figure at my door. Lashed by rain and with his more delicate extremeties frostbitten - he was kept warm only by the burning flame of duty to the blood and soil. 

And it was  thus that I met my new old enemy, Lochlainn McHiberinia-McEireanneach an impecunious republican exile constantly surrounded by Celtic mist (which proved a swine to get out of the curtains - Mrs. Kinch still isn't speaking to me).  I hustled him into the wargames room before he caught his death and thrust a medicinal brandy into his hand. 

Pausing only briefly to sing a heart rending lament for the soft drizzle of home - he informed me that he had returned in secret to the Auld Sod. He had slunk off a French frigate at midnight in order to raise bloody riot and revolution and coincidentally wreak terrible vengeance on all filthy Kinchs. 

We agreed that a game of Command & Colours Napoleonics seemed the best way to raise the green flag and begin the rebellion. 

I happened to have one of the Borodino scenarios set up - so we played that. 

The field of battle

"The village of Utitza was at the southern end of the Russian left flank positions at Borodino. The Utitza woods, however, were very dense—well suited for Tutchkov’s Russian Jaegers that were deployed there in some numbers. All total, Tutchkov had some 23,000 troops, but many were untrained Opolchenye (militia). Poniatowski had about 10,000 trained Polish soldiers, very eager to fight.

The first attempt by the Poles, did capture Utiza, but Tuchkov’s Grenadier Division and the 3rd infantry division advanced and ejected the Polish forces in short order. General Junot then joined the attack and again captured Utiza, but as the Russians departed, the village was set on fire and no longer could be defended. After this, the Russians and Poles continued to skirmish for the rest of the day without much progress.

The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?"

Skirmishing in the woods

The initial few moves of the game were quite tentative. I had the edge in Light Infantry and hoped to drag the French into a fight on the right in order to whittle down their numbers and press my advantage. 

The 1ieme Suisse annihilate the 17th Jaegers

Unfortunately,  McHiberinia-McEireanneach counter attacked swiftly and managed to put paid to my jaegers. 

But run slap bang into the Parnau Grenadiers

I repaid him in his own coin. It's interesting how the battle ebbed and flowed, which is something of a recurring theme of CNN games.  It's very rare that there is general engagement all along the line.  It's much more usual to find that there will be a serious of hot spots that move across the table and often, as a general you will find yourself trying to use weaker cards to focus an opponents attention somewhere, while you build a knockout blow somewhere else. 

The Russian line moves forward dressing from the right

As the French had proven quite adept at pulling weakened units out of the line and I didn't have the cavalry to go hunting them down it was proving frustratingly difficult to break any particular part of the French line.  McHiberinia-McEireanneach was quite cautious and I knew that if I maintained the defensive, he would simply pick a point and steamroller me. This obliged me to attempt to keep him off balance and prevent him from withdrawing shaken troops and replacing them with fresh ones. 

With that in mind, I pushed forward in the centre in order to prevent him bringing his cavalry on the left into play, which I didn't have the resources to counter. Holding the village of Utitza allowed me to make the battle about the built up area and not get drawn into a fight in the open, where the French horse soldiers would inevitably prevail. 

Lochlainn McHiberinia-McEireanneach

Warmed somewhat by his medicinal brandy -  McHiberinia-McEireanneach was in good spirits, until a chance remark reminded him that he was in mourning, whereupon he immediately retreated to the ktichen, Covering his head with a black cloth he began to sing a mournful dirge bewailing the recent death of his favourite potato (which he had hand raised since he were a lad, yer honour).

It was going to be a long night. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Differing command styles

A fine book and well worth reading

The late John Keegan wrote a fine book called "The Mask of Command" which discussed the differences in how armies have been led over time, particularly how different commanders have put their own particular stamp on leading.  He contrasts the heroic style of Alexander the Great with the more managerial approach of Ulysses S. Grant, examining in detail the cultural, social and technological pressures that shaped their experience and approach to command. 

It is a hugely significant work and well worth the time. I cannot recommend it to you strongly enough. With that in mind, I would like to bring to particular case studies in command to your attention, less well known, though no less august than Alexander the Great or Adolf Hitler. 

They are of course, General Donogh McCarthy and General Du Gourmand, who led the French and Russian armies at our first Borodino battle some weeks ago. 

For those of you who would like to follow along at home, you will find the map referred to here

General McCarthy

General Du Gourmand

As a small exercise (who says wargaming can not be educational?), I would ask you to watch both of these videos and complete the following assignment. 

1. Describe each general management style in three words or less. 
2. Identify the key points of his plan. 
3. Suggest which of the two won the battle. 

There will be a small prize for the best answer.(1)

(1) An actual fungible prize. No correspondence entered into. Judges decision is final. Do not use while operating heavy machinery. No money returned. To conclude with "God save the King" in full chorus. Value of blogs may go up as well as well as down. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014


A view of the battlefield

This week has been grueling as there have been four 14-15 hour days back to back. It's left precious little time for wargaming, but I am keeping on top of things in work and to be honest, I'm really enjoying my current course of study. I did manage to get in one last hurrah last week when we played Borodino and it was excellent. 

I suppose if I were doing it again, I would do some modelling work on the fleches and so forth, but the old saw that perfect is the enemy of good applies. If we'd waited until the perfect terrain pieces were available, we wouldn't have gotten a game at all.  

As it was, we were ably assisted by Old John who brought over some of his beautiful collection of vintage figures to add to my ranks.  While I was able to represent fleches and so forth by means of stone walls, sandbags, abatis and so forth, we would have been truly sunk without the half dozen units John brought. 

Donogh outlines his plan to his generals, General Sydney and that 
fire eating old Republican Citizen General Kerrigan. 

Donogh led the French in the first battle having announced that he would not command nor be commanded by OldJohn or General Du Gourmand, so they took up the cudgels for the French. 

The first game we played was the Shevardino & Utitza scenario.  As we had an odd number of players, I sat it out and scurried around making sure the score was right ensuring everyone remembered the rules. 

General Du Gourmand & General Lochlainn McHiberinia-O'Eireanneach

The games were hard fought and honours were even at the end of the day. I'll do a proper post on the battles once I get a chance, which may be a while - I have a considerable backlog of battles to chronicle. 

It was a good day and the pints after were just perfect. It was great to see OldJohn and all the boys before I ended up with my nose stuck in a book. 

A view of the battlefield from the Russian left

General Du Gourmand finally gives the order to attack

OldJohn is very happy. 

Actually vibrating with happiness in fact. 

We played the Borodino Village & Raevski Redoubt scenario second and as Mr. E came as a late arrival, I was able to play. Now Mr. E. particularly wanted to play the Russians, so I ended up playing the French for a change - which was interesting.  I faced OldJohn across the table and I think I will let hold off telling the tale of how that ended. 

General Du Gourmand oversees the swirling 
melee in the centre as General Sydney moves more troops in. 

So in conclusion, we got two big games in - played to a conclusion at a leisurely pace.  Set up was relatively painless and once we had OldJohns units sorted we were ready to go.  

On the whole, a very successful day.