Monday, July 25, 2016

What do you do with an elephant like this?

Nelly taking her gun caisson for a walk

I picked this elephant drawn gun from John Cunningham last year and I've been meaning to get around to it for quite some time. I finally bit the bullet and started putting it together.

I was about half way through when I realise it had somehow become separated from it's gun, which I'm sure will turn up, but the other thing that was confusing me was how exactly to attach the traces. There is a leather strap that goes under the Elephants tail, the use of which is clear enough, however I was a bit perplexed at the purpose of the two dangling straps either side of the tail.

Having looked at a number of pictures, I realised that the artists and photographers of the past were unaccountably less than taken with recording the finer details of elephants bottoms. But we soldier on.

I eventually found this illustration which shows them being used to hold the traces connecting the caisson to the elephant.  The elephant on the left in the background is probably the best illustration of that. I'm quite happy to have solved that particular mystery - rather than trying to bodge something and making a fool of myself.

There are now of course, new opportunities to make a fool of myself. But I will at least be a fool with an elephant.

And that is no small thing.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Indian Army Artillery

Mounted on pots awaiting paint
(click to embiggen)

Along with Nick's very kind gift of Ghurkas, there was an Indian Army screw gun and crew.  I know shamefully little about the Indian army beyond what I've learned from Jac Weller's "Wellington in India", but decided to set to these fellas as there was no Indian artillery attached to the Kinch Field Force. 

There was the vexed question of how to paint them though, some scratching around had yielded a succession of fearsome looking gentlemen in khaki.  However, my liking for the more brightly coloured uniform won out and I went in search of something appropriate. My colonial forces are inspired by "The Man who would be King" and "Zulu", more than dull actuality. 

Blandford and Farwell were not supplying my wants in that department, so I turned to The Sword and the Flame facebook group.  Julian turned up trumps with the picture above, which looks excellent.  The turbans are "Spankin' in red" as Pete Postlethwaite would say. 

(click to embiggen)

Armed with this sort of information, the battery swiftly took shape and is currently doing duty on the Southern Border of the Kinch domain. I've no idea as to the maker, Ral Partha maybe, as they are on the larger side of 1/72. The gun itself so far as I can make out is a RML 2.5 Mountain Gun immortalised by Kipling in the poem "Screw Guns". 

(click to embiggen)

I shall have to add a mule to carry the whole assemblage, but I think I have something in stores.  I'm very happy with how they turned out, all the figures were painted with thinned Vallejo acylics.  I added some inks to the turban and did a slight highlight, just to show off the red a little. 

Out looking for Wascally Wahabbists
(click to embiggen)

These, I'm sure you'll agree, are a fine addition to the Kinch Field Force.  Thank you very much to Nick for his generosity and Julian for his knowledge of uniforms. 

I think these chaps will have to take the field and show De Gormaine a thing or two about how its done. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Afghan Artillery

Afghan guns captured at Ali Masjid

I was looking into Afghan guns recently and was given some very sage advice by Sgt. Guinness and the Mad Guru.  I thought that there was little point in keeping such good stuff to myself, so I thought I'd share it here.

Your question peaked my interest in the Afghan artillery. I simply painted mine brown, however that may not be correct. I'd sent you the photo of the rows of guns captured at Ali Masjid. These are typical of the types af artillery they fielded. 

According to what the Mad Guru has told me the majority of the artillery came from the British with a little from the Turks, thus them being the regular British Blue Grey. You could also have some painted green as if the Russians has provided some. 

Additional from the Mad Guru: 

A combination of British military aid and buying new high tech RBL Armstrongs through Turkey. There are no pics of the RBL Armstrongs that I know of - also I don't think there was any difference in paint scheme of Afghan guns based on their origin - whether gifted by Britishs or purchased on their own from European or Ottoman suppliers by Afghans. I think they were all painted in British style colors. There is a pic showing dozens. unto hundreds of captured Afghan cannon, abandoned at Ali Masjid I think - maybe another one inside Bala Hissar But only b&w of course Sadly! Lots of small mountain guns, up to field pieces. My educated guess is yes - blue grey. I have never read any different description. The Second Afghan War started over anti Russian fears of a Russian rapprochement with Sher Ali - you could always give your afghan regulars a battery of green Russian style guns.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

French guns - Fixed at last

I have finally put right a previous mistake where I had accidentally painted some French Crimean guns blue. They are now a more traditionally French green, which is handy as the original was embarrassing and led to awkward questions at parties. 

I have erased this appalling blot from the Kinch escutcheon. You may go about your business.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sorauren (French right early afternoon) - 28 July 1813

The Field of Sorauren

At Hobocon a couple of weeks ago, the Soldier of Destiny and I played Sorauren from the new Command & Colours expansion using the new tactics deck. The blurb from the scenario. 

"Marshal Soult re-entered Spain to defeat Wellington’s army in detail and rescue the besieged garrisons of Pamplona and San Sebastien. The plan relied on speed. Soult with the main force hustled Cole’s ineptly placed division out of Roncesvalles Pass with minimal fighting. Cole, along with Picton, retreated much further than Wellington desired, but Wellington was far away and communications were bad. When Cole did stop, he redeemed himself by picking excellent defensive terrain opposite the village of Sorauren. Soult had the numbers to win, but ironically, by funneling too many troops into narrow valleys with poor roads, he lost the speed needed to win the campaign, and his advance slowed to a crawl. On the 27th, Soult’s vanguard made contact with the British at Sorauren. 

With only Clausel’s Corps on hand (Rielle’s corps was strung out for miles on the bad roads), Soult made no attack. The veteran of Albuera had calculated the numbers needed to drive the British off the Oricain Heights and knew he did not have enough that afternoon.  Next day, after a violent night’s thunderstorm, Rielle’s corps was up, and Soult had the numbers needed to fight and win the day before, but the British had gotten reinforcements too.  The French attacked first on the right. One of Clausel’s divisions under Conroux advanced to gain the flank of the British on the heights, but was caught in a three-way crossfire between the troops on the heights and reinforcements from Pack’s arriving division. Conroux’ battered division was forced back to Sorauren. Clausel’s other divisions assaulted the British and Portuguese on the Oricain Heights with enough initial success to break through in places. Wellington, aware of the deteriorating situation, ordered Stubbs and Lambert to counterattack. Their onslaught sent the disorganized French columns reeling back down the slopes. The battle continued on the French left with Rielle’s attacks.

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

French bayonets storm forward on the left

I lost the toss and was obliged to play the dastardly Bonapartists. I decided my best plan was going to be to concentrate my forces on the weaker Portuguese troops.  This would allow me to take the hill, which was worth a victory point and would make it more difficult for the Soldier of Destiny to come back at me. 

Hurrah! We have taken the hill for Bonaparte. 

This was the first game we'd played with the new decks of Command and Tactics cards that came in Expansion 5. These replace the 60 card deck of cards that came with the original game and essentially split them in two.  The Command deck contains the standard cards that allow players to move and activate troops, while the Tactics deck includes cards that allow an attacked player to attack first, battlefield smoke cards that limit the effectiveness of musketry and so on. 

The "specials" in the Tactics deck are generally less powerful than their old equivalents, but there are more of them - the effect is to make the game a little bit more predictable in some ways and lessen the effect of the really rare cards. On the whole I think I like it. 

Lights skirmishing in the centre

Having taken the hills, I decided that it was time to put pressure on the centre. 

The Hussars force the Portugese into square

But contrary to expectations the Portuguese counter attacked and managed to make a dent in my line, so I was obliged to commit my cavalry. 

A field of grief

The quick back and forth that resulted was horrific, I didn't take pictures of the whole clash, but the Portuguese earned their salt.  They took several units from me in what was a close range and brutal fight, taking losses in their turn, but unfortunately they had numbers on their side. 

The result was that I kept the hill, but that I didn't have the strength to develop anything from it and had to content myself with holding on to it. 

We press forward in the centre

With my bolt well and truly shot on the left, I decided to press forward in the centre.  I managed to drive the 4th Foot back, but took punishing volleys of British musketry in return. 

The 4ieme Ligne die where they stand

Meanwhile the Portuguese counterattacked on my left and took my threadbare battalion to pieces. 

The hussars do for a (somewhat out of place) General Picton

With both sides on the ropes, the 62ieme Ligne stormed forward to come to grips with the enemy. They drove off the second battalion Enniskillings. 

Before falling prey to the Kings Royal Halberdiers. 

All in all, a tightly fought game and one I didn't mind losing too much.  It certainly established that the Portuguese are no pushovers. The new decks were interesting and the Tactics cards saw a lot of play without feeling gimmicky.  One thing I did like was that while each player began with a hand of these cards, once they were spent, they were harder to come by - so that the amount of unusual events was interesting, but not overpowering. One thing that I did really like it that there is a card there for breaking squares.  It's rare, but it exists and squares are no longer the citadels they were when the game was first published. 

On the whole, if you like Command & Colours Napoleonics, Expansion 5 just makes it better. The added complexity doesn't appreciably slow gameplay, though you will have to make more decisions on your turn.  What it does do is add layers of nuance that will keep experienced players interested and ensure that there is plenty to discover in this game for many years to come.