Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hurrah for Toad!

Kinch about to embark on his rural idyll

Chaps, just a short note to say that I shall be incommunicado for a few days. I've absconded to the country - a cottage (no bee loud glade I'm afraid) - where there is no internet access for a spot of rest and relaxation. 

I had intended to do a bit of writing, but I suspect I shall spend most of my time sleeping.  Possibly even reading a book in days rather than weeks. 

Just talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back shortly.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Airfix Waterloo Farmhouse

The Classic Airfix Waterloo Farmhouse

I got my paws on one of these relatively recently as part of an online trade. It was an old set rather than the newer version which was re-released bundled with figures. I had one back in the beginning of my wargaming career, but a careless attempt to strip paint from it resulted in it being badly warped and being made unuseable even as a burnout shell. 

Unfortunate - but now made right.The new set cost me the princely sum of €10 and I regarded it with some suspicion when I got it out of the box. What I'd forgotten over the years is that, it's rather big compared to my other building, excluding perhaps Italeri's church which is huge. Now while this makes it a very attractive model it does make it more difficulty to actually use it in a wargame. 

Capability Savage

Enter Capability Savage, graphic designer, mystic and man about town.   His beret was at a jaunty angle, his smock was stained with paint and his breath reeked of white spirit and gin (we'd suggested tonic as a mixer, but apparently that's for girls), he took the lot off my hands and said he would return later. 

Capability Savage, without his usual smock and beret, explaining 
"the plan" to General Du Gourmand

I didn't hear anything from him for a while, so I eventually braved the strange sights and smells of Monto to visit Savage's garret, where in between sips of methylated spirits, he showed me what he'd been working on.

The construction is almost complete, the gate lacks its roof, but otherwise the model is almost ready to take paint. So far, so good. However, the essential problem remains - the model takes up a deal of space and that makes it very difficult to use in a wargame.

Behold, the amazing modular Waterloo Farmhouse. 

My Hotz mat is broken up into five inch hexes. Most of my building will fit in a single hex, but what Savage has managed to do is break the kit up and base it (on 3mm MDF I think) in such a way that for Old School or skirmish gaming, the whole thing can be used as intended.

Should I wish to use the building on my Hotz mat, they can be used singly taking up one hex or in combination, taking up three or four. Note the additional brickwork added to the piece above, the blank plastic walls on the original kit sent Savage into one of his rages, which could only be assuaged with opium.

He also added cobblestone effect plasti-card to the interiors so that the illusion won't be broken during skirmish gaming.

A gable end was added to this large piece, so that it could be used as a stand alone structure without causing comment or leaving a draught.

Note the precisely cut MDF base which allows all the building and walls to be assembled in such as way that everything is flush together.

A farm building soon to be seen all over France and Belgium

I'm very happy with the work that Savage has done and I think that it will look really something when he's done. A nice blend of the Old School and practicality. 

There is of course the added bonus that as a Capability Savage original, it will increase in price substantially after he stabbed by one of the flame haired strumpets that pose for him or he kills himself with laudanum.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Battle of Argaum

I've been thinking about the battle of Argaum as a possible candidate for another scenario. Wellington fought plenty of sieges during his time in India and while I'm eager to try a siege using the Command  & Colours: Napoleonics rules, I think the system as it is handles field engagements rather better.

At present my wish list of battles reads as follows

- Argaum
- Laswari
- Porto Novo

While Assaye, Laswari and Argaum occur at about the same time, Porto Novo is the odd one out as it predates the others by twenty years and involves supporting gunfire from a naval vessels. I think Argaum is an interesting battle because while superficially it's quite similar to Assaye, a British force attacking a Maratha force drawn up in line of battle; there are some important differences.

- The British force is divided in two, Lake and Wellseley operated seperate commands. It is a testament to the skill of both men that they managed to pull together without too much difficulty.

- While the nullah that divides the battlefield is relatively easy to represent, the smaller channels will require some thought.

- The battlefield was also covered in millet which was apparently of such a height that it drasticially reduced visibility for infantrymen. Cavalry were typically able to see over the crops, but simulating this in a manner that doesn't grind the game to a halt is going to be interesting.

There's nothing much online for Argaum, but Weller has a chapter on the battle, which is a good start. I'd like to get another source if I can, but we'll see.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Combat at Redinha - 12 March 1811 - Part Two

While the British cavalry were put to flight on the left, the ever dependable redcoated infantry advanced on the right. Marching with fixed bayonet through their own smoke, they closed in on the French Chasseurs ready to contest the ridge line.

The kilted Scotsmen of the 92nd drove the Chasseurs from the woods at the point of the bayonet.

The French counter-attack when it came in the form of the 22ieme and 8ieme Ligne was limp. In Command & Colours Napoleonics, there is a "Battleback" mechanic which allows units which have been attacked in melee and survived to hit back at their attackers.

This is the 92nd promptly did with crushing effect, driving the 22ieme Ligne from the field, shattered and unable to rejoin the fight.

While things were looking relatively rosy on the right, the left was in trouble. The flight of the Light Dragoons had left the Kings Royal Halberdiers exposed and vulnerable to encirclement.

Which General Creanor promptly did. Taking fire from the French guns to their front and the French infantry to their rear, they started taking casualties - but held for the time being.  I like to think that the second rank about faced, like the 28th at Alexandria. If they make it out of this, I may have to consider an additional cap badge.

The Halberdiers however are not along and the McFarlane's battery of the Royal Horse Artillery supports them with gunfire.
Only to attract a crushing volley from the French supports. With gunners down and the gunteams decimated, the Duke better win this one if he's to avoid losing those guns.

Back on the right the redcoats push forward. It seems General Creanor plan for a reverse slope defence has back fired and he is unable to counter attack across the ridge in sufficient strength to dislodge the attackers. The Fourth Foot are cut up by a close range volley from the French, but respond in kind.
On the left however, things are looking increasingly bleak for the Halberdiers. With McFarlane's battery lying silent behind them and the French closing in from the rear - this rapidly beginning to looking like one of those days that will go down in regimental annals. Either as a great victory...

...or a disaster. Oh well.

After disaster on the left, things begin to swing in the French favour. General Creanor manages to get his counter-attack moving and onto the ridge, hitting the weakened Fourth Foot and sending them tumbling back in disorder.
The Scotsmen on the other hand take no heed of this and plough on into the ranks of Frenchmen. They don't close, but form into a ragged line and give the second French battalion a volley, that while not as crushing as previous ones, scythes down a goodly number and leaves them teetering on the edge of fight.

The 8ieme Ligne similarly appear to be getting out of hand and after driving the Halberdiers from the field, dash headlong into the heart of the British left. They are strong unit and there is every chance they could finish my Light Dragoons before I managed to get my infantry to bear. I believe the score was 5-4 to me at this point, but with the Light Dragoons out of the way and a lucky roll on the right - General Creanor was not out of the fight yet.
Fortunately, I had an ace - or specifically, an Assault Centre card up my sleeve and was able to attack the 22ieme Ligne before they could take my Scotsmen in the rear. Hit from the front and both flanks, they weathered the initial volleys.

And the second and the third...

Only to fall at the last to the 7th Portuguese Line infantry, who'd been sitting things out so far - determined as they were to fight the battle to the last Scotsman.  This ended the battle and the British paused to catch their breath while the French slunk from the field. A hard fought game and a good one, made better by good wine and good company. I think that General Creanor knew my assault was coming in the centre and was a little cavalier in preparing for it. He was unlucky on his right, because my combined armed assault by the Halberdiers and McFarlanes battery went far better than it had any right to.

The Cheltenham moment when the Light Dragoons managed to cover nearly the length of the table without being wiped out was also unlucky for him.

While I've used smoke in battle reports before - this is the first time I've used it to make every volley of musketry. I'm interested in blackpowder smoke, mainly because I'm interested if there's anything to be learned from watching where it appears and if it affects play.

The stuff I've used is polycell pillow stuffing which has a bit more bounce and is rather more durable than cotton wool. As you can see in the picture above, this battle had engagements all the way along the line.

My ultimate goal is to use powder smoke in a multi-player battle with a overall commander, who can has to peer through the fog of war to work out what's going on. This is an idea I'll be playing with for a while - any thoughts or observations?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012



Relatively recently, we discovered that the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have animals that need foster homes.  We took three kittens off their hands five weeks ago and they're to be returned in Friday. It's been a wonderful experience and one that we will definately be repeating.

These chaps were part of a litter of six whose mother had a fatal encounter with a car.

The three musketeers are...

General Gorman - so named because of his disdain for episcopacy. He is often covered in food.

Johnny C - a quiet, watchful kitten with an interest in toy soldiers.

Savage - the smallest and fightiest of the kittens. Savage is definately their leader.

Running, jumping, chasing your brother, hiding behind the couch, playing with string - the days are just packed.

And then sleep.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 16, 2012

Combat at Redinha - 12 March 1811 - Part One

The Combat at the Redinha is one of those Peninsular battles that I know little about. It took place during the retreat from the line of Torres Vedras, when Marshall Ney covered successfully covered the retreat of Massena's forces. The Redinha doesn't have the familarity and flung chicken legs of Salamanca, the glory of Barrossa or the bloody courage of Albeura* - but it does have Ney and I have a lot of time for Ney. I've always liked Dan O'Herlihy, who played him in Waterloo, and who cannot love the courage of a man who gave the order to fire at his own execution.

This battle was an unexpected pleasure as my pal General Creanor was able to drop over, and to mark the occasion, I cracked open a bottle of Lustau East India Solera Sherry which I'd been saving since my birthday. This was a lovely light sweet wine and one I'll definately be returning to. Wonderful stuff. Recommended.

The field of Mars

As always you can find the scenario here, courtesy of the chaps over at CCNapoleoncs.net. The scenario itself is an interesting one and I've played it several times. The British player has some very good troops - including Grenadiers and Grenadier Guards, but this is balanced by some less than stellar Portuguese troops. The French player has to square this particular circle - does he decide that the best defence is a good offence and try to end the game by concentrating on the Portuguese or does he husband his resources, but resign himself to allowing the British player dictate the pace of the engagement?

I opened the ball by moving my high quality troops, the 93rd and the Grenadiers of the 4th Foot to either side of the ridge. It was possibile that a sudden lunge from the French would pin my allies against me and I'd be caught on the back foot. 

General Creanor, a fervent admirer of the Duke, decides to emulate him by adopting a reverse slope defence. This was a canny move as it allow him to shield his troops from fire, negating my superior musketry while preparing to knive me as soon as I came in range. Note the chasseurs to the right of the ridge, ready to enfilade me if I advance.

Meanwhile on my left, I pondered by hand and decided to do a spot of skirmishing. I had sufficent cards in hand to push forward here and hopefully make it to the trees before General Creanor cavalry (just out of shot) could make themselves felt. I was confident that my light infantry could hold their own in the woods, but they would be easy meat in the open.

With that in mind, I advanced the RHA in expectation.

And followed them up with the Halberdiers, a crack light infantry regiment. British light infantry are highly rated in Command & Colours Napoleonics and deservedly so.

This also marked the first fire in the game. We marked the fire with pillow stuffing, I believe it's called pollycell, and continued to do so for the rest of the game. I was curious to see how it would look. 

The fire of the Halberdiers proves deadly and the 8ieme Ligne take to their heels, but before General Loison is shot from the saddle and is killed.

Grape from the French guns deployed on the hill proves ineffective, knocking down one RHA gunner, but failing to blunt the attack. I think General Creanor made a mistake here, it would have been more profitably to shoot up the Halberdiers rather than indulging a continental taste for counter-battery fire.

The counter-attack drives the gunners from the hill, though beyond injured pride they are unharmed and are in a good position to support an attack by those damned skulking Chasseurs.

Which they promptly do, hurling themselves at the 19th Light Dragoons. This was a combined arms assault by the French cavalry and horse artillery. The idea being that the horse artillery would unlimber, fire grape at close range into the Light Dragoons who would then be immediately charged by the Chasseurs.

But it was not to be, fortunately I had a card in hand that allowed the Light Dragoons to pre-empt the French charge, which they did. I imagine this represents some budding Mathew Hervey damning his mens eyes and going for the French bald headed rather than waiting to recieve the charge at the halt.

The pre-emptive charge saved the Light Dragoons bacon in the short term, but the Chasseurs were not cut up, only driven off and could easily charge home a second time.

Meanwhile on the right, the British line were advancing on the French chasseurs skulking in the woods. They were being peppered with shot, but maintained their dressing - the main concern was whether I would be able to get a volley off before the French countercharged me. There were a few cards that General Creanor could have in hand that would let him fall upon me before I could get a shot off, but he might be willing to brave a turn of fire in order to draw my line closer.

Meanwhile, on the left, the 19th Light Dragoons have lost their heads and galloped on. After cutting up the French horse artillery, which barely managed to make their escape a second time, they carried up into the newly reformed Chasseurs. Their infantry support lagging behind, there was every possibility that they had bitten off more than they could chew.

Having driven the Chasseurs back as far as they could, it looked like the Light Dragoon might just get away with it...

...put perhaps not. A snappy counter attack from General Creanor rallied the Chasseurs and send the 19th tumbling back in disorder into the Chasseurs infantry supports, who promptly opened fire.

Emptying saddles, but not finishing the unit. The 19th evaded the volley of the first regiment (left), only to run into the second (right). They fled, bent low over their horses, bullets whistling over head and managed to escape.

Bloodied, but alive - the 19th Light Dragoons, having fled nearly half the table - will not be rejoining the battle unless something drastic happens. General Creanor later calculated to the odds of surviving that tempest of fire as over a thousand to one. Well done chaps, but battles are not won by retreats.

To be continued.

*Paddy Griffith once asked me what the hell was wrong with me that I liked battles where everyone dies.  I still don't have an answer to that one.