Wednesday 21 February 2024

Hobby Update

For no other reason than it's yet another sodding wet and windy day here in Bristol (it has been a very wet Winter😞) I thought I'd do a bit of an update on various things to help still feel connected with the outside World. So in no particular order:

The weather has meant that I've spent a fair amount of time reading, which I love and have done for as long as I can remember. I have a mixed bag of stuff waiting to be read as well as some that I've recently finished.

An absolute corker of a book on a period that I had only passing knowledge of. Wonderfully written and a real page turner, I not only learnt loads of stuff but it also, rather dangerously, had me pondering new periods to game, such as Russians vs Turcomans in Central Asia in the mid-19thC. Highly recommended.

A book I picked up using a birthday book voucher as I've enjoyed all his books I've read so far, plus it was a part of WWII that I've read bits on, but not much detail. A good book but not one of his best to be honest, which may have something to do with the subject matter, which I felt was hard to make interesting. There are only so many ways you can recount the same sort of air combat, ie Germans bounce bombers, American fighters bounce Germans etc. I had considered some WWII air wargames, purely for the fun of painting the various camo schemes, but having read the book, I feel they would be a 'beer and pretzels' offering only. Maybe some WWI combats might be more in order?

Another book voucher purchase, which I've not read yet, but has had plenty of good reviews and is on a campaign that I've long wanted to game. It will be a while before it's read as I'm reading Duffy's book on 'The Army of Frederick the Great', as I like to chop and change periods to keep things fresh.

Paint & Flock
A series of hot Summers, lack of painting etc led to some of my paints completely drying up or getting to the point where I could no longer rescue them, especially the metallics. Also my supply of flock was running low and sadly the Expo Mid-Green Flcok I'd always used was no longer available. There were plenty of options online, but it was really hard to tell which ones might be the closest match. Luckily we still have a good old fashioned modelshop in Bristol (Antics) which is full of loads of stuff to tempt one! A trip there soon resolved my flock problem, with PECO Scene Spring grass being a very close match. They didn't have the length I really needed but now I know what to look for, I can buy this online and plenty of it!

Some years ago I recycled loads of old magazines that I never looked at, but kep a few that had articles of interest that I knew I would refer back to. They are also great for a bit of bed time reading when the brain is not up coping with a full chapter as the head starts to drop as I try not to nod off. These days I no longer buy magazines as I find little of interest and to be honest was really shocked at how much they cost these days, due to the steep rises in printing costs post Covid. £7.00 for a printed mag is way too much for me, given that I can buy a good second hand book or two for that price. Apparently more pdf copies are being sold than printed ones, at least with WI, and I can see this trend continuing. 

An issue that I refer to often, as it has excellent articles on ImagiNations by CS Grant, a 1692 Battle for Britain by Barry Hilton and a series of actions based upon British/Canadian intervention in the ACW by Don Effinger. All of these appeal to me and certainly the latter two I hope to game at some point.

Whilst not a magazine per se, it does have a superb article, or the second part thereof, of an Invasion of Britain in 1744 by the late Graham Cummings. Needless to say with the fun we've had around our version of the '45, this more than piques my interest and again is something that I want to return to and game at some point.

With my recent run of Honours of War games using some 'Old School' classic scenarios, whilst searching my library (well book case really), I picked out the following rules from those Little Wars TV chaps from across the pond. The scenarios contained therein are brilliant but to be honest the sheer number of bases required means I will never play them as written. But it did occur to me that using HoW for the rules, I could quite simply translate the OOB into ones that would work, or at least I'm pretty sure they will. This is on the back burner for a while but I'm looking forward to seeing whether my ideas work or not...

Well worth getting just for the scenarios.

Well not much has happened on this front, as any spare time I've had has been spent watching tv with SWMBO or playing games. Given that there was a distinct deficit of the latter last year, so far I've really had a lot of fun getting the toys onto the table and rolling some dice. However with some planned games coming up (see below) I actually got my paints out today and started on painting up some WWII US Paras, which to be honest are about as easy a paint job as you can get. Without a dedicated painting area, it can be a challenge to fit painting in, given the set up I have to work with in the kitchen, but progress is progress, no matter how small.

Amazon & Peleliu
In the afternoons I try and get a bit of 'me time' tv in, before all the action aroudn the evening meal kicks off. Last week on Amazon I saw a programme titled: '1st to Fight: Pacific War Marines' and thought I'd give it a go. Not a bad programme but I was very pleasantly surprised when they included a fair bit on the invasion of Peleliu, showing footage and still from the action as well as how the battlefield is today. Absolutely perfect info for my planned Pacific War games at some point in the future.

My planned Normandy campaign has stalled due to my lack of painting, despite and early blast of basing and priming at the start of the year. However as part of my magazine bedtime reading, the following issue gave me an idea for something based around Arnhem 1944.

Although the scenarios are for Chain of Command or similar skirmish level rules, it would be pretty easy to scale things up for some linked BKCII games to form a mini-campaign, albeit it on focused on just one days action. Sadly my British Paras are still in the various bags as they have been for many a year now, but with a few additions currently on the painting table, my US Paras will take their place. Heresy I know but it works for me and will allow me to play this out, something that I've planned to do on and off for a few years now. I'm pretty sure I have all the Germans I need and have been checking Kershaw's 'It Never Snows In September' to get some additional info for the campaign. Hopefully this will hit the table in the next week or so...


Sunday 18 February 2024

Huston, We Have Blasthof!

After the recent disruption with new windows being fitted, it was nice to have some time to fit in another small 'Old School' scenario. This time it was the 'Battle of Blasthof Heath' from 'Charge!'. As per the previous game, it would be the French vs British set circa the SYW and using 'Honours of War' as the rules. Random rolls for command quality bizarrely came up the same yet again, with the French being saddled with a 'Dithering' Cavalry commander.

As is the norm these days, the annotated photos will hopefully give you a sense of how the battle unfolded:

The book in question. The British are at the Southern end of the table.

The scenario from the book, which is sparse in details compared to many these days.

The British deployed for action.

The bridge and farm.

The French ready for the off.

French pseudo-Zouves.

The end of Turn 1. Both sides pushed forward, with the exception of their Light Infantry, which failed to move.

The British advance.

The French close in on the bridge.

The end of Turn 2. The French beat the British to the bridge (Admirable move), although their Cavalry failed to move. As the British pushed forward, the French having formed line, caused some hits as they closed.

The French deployed and holding the bridge.

The British come under fire.

The British Cavalry begin to cross the river.

The end of Turn 3. The British formed into line and advanced forward, whilst their Light Infantry reached the farm, as their French counter parts failed to move. Both sides opened fire but the shooting was not very effective.

Both sides exchange musketry and canon fire. Neither side could gain a decisive advantage.

The British Light Infantry reach the farm.

The British Cavalry have crossed the river and face the French.

The end of Turn 4. The British gained the first advantage as they routed the French Line Infantry their side of the bridge, as their Light Infantry took over the farm house, as yet again the French Light Infantry failed to move. Over the river the British and French Cavalry clashed and after a tussle, the British routed the French.

The victorious British Cavalry.

A raised hat from the British leads to a resounding 'huzzah!' as the French Line rout back over the bridge.

The end of Turn 5. The British Cavalry retire to reform as the fighting continues at the bridge. South of it both sides are lucky not to have their Line Infantry forced back or routed.

Things are getting tight along this part of the river.

The French Light Infantry finally push forward, but the British are firmly esconced in place at the moment.

The British Cavalry withdraw to recover before re-entering the fray.

The end of Turn 6. The action really hots up at the bridge, as both the French and British lose Line Infantry from combined fire, causing them to rout. The British are lucky in having a Line Infantry unit that has to retreat rather than rout back. Across the river, the British Cavalry rested and recovered, move forward to threaten the French right flank and lines of communication.

Line Infantry rout on both sides of the river.

A close call here as they British Line Infantry manage to avoid routing, but are forced back to reform.

The end of play.

End of the Game
With British Cavalry ready to roam freely in their rear and with only one Line Infantry unit left, the French abandoned the field of battle, leaving the British commander to send a message back, saying "Huston, we have Blasthof!"

Post Game Thoughts
Another simple, fun and relatively quick game and one that could have gone either way to be honest. Perfect for a Sunday morning! A few thoughts as follows:
  • The small command radius with the rules would have limited both sides in this small scenario, due to the terrain constraints and small number of units. I was therefore rather flexible with regards to this compared to a normal game.
  • As encountered in previous games, slightly narrower rivers would be good for 'Honours of War' using the 10mm measurements. Something that is on my list to make but it is a low priority at present!
  • The British 'Superior' firing made just enough difference when it mattered. The French had chances in Turns 2 & 3 to really inflict damage on the British, but could not get those high die rolls when it mattered.
  • The Cavalry clash was close with the French rating of 'Inferior' for their Dragoons costing them victory here.
  • The failure of the French Light Infantry to move for about half of the game really hampered their chances, especially once the British Light Infantry took over the farm.

What's Next?
Time for a change I think, but more on that in another post!


Wednesday 7 February 2024

Lights, Camera, Action!

One of the joys of the Blogiverse are the ideas that can pop up unbidden whilst reading various posts on the Blogs I follow. This happened to me recently whilst SWMBO was watching or, more accurately, being completely engrossed in watching 'The Traitors' on the BBC. So left alone to my own devices I was reading the Heretical Gaming Blog and the Mollwitz AAR and decided to pick up Grant's The War Game to check out the scenario etc. Whilst perusing the book I had forgotten the small scenario in Chapter 12 called 'Action!' that was used to get a handle on the rules.

I immediately thought that this would make a nice and simple scenario that I could fit in on a 'Wargames Wednesday' whilst recovering from Covid. A few jotted notes followed and the game was set up as per the book, with the only tweaks being those for Honours of War, namely the 'National Differences' between the British and the French, the sides I chose for the fight. With both sides having the same troops, the only differences were the British Line Infantry were classed as 'Superior' for firing, whilst the French Cavalry were rated 'Inferior' and as luck would have it they rolled for a 'Dithering' commander.

The table set and the book that inspired the action. The French are on the left, the British the right.

The scenario itself and I must admit that I love the elegant simplicity of the map.

As is the norm now, I will allow the action to unfold via the captioned photos, as well as some gratuitous shots of the figures to try and increase followers to my Blog😉!

The end of Turn 1. The French push forward en masse, whilst the British Line Infantry fail to advance and so the other troops have to try and align with them the best they can.

French Zouaves push through the woods.

"I'm right behind you chaps" could be heard as the British Cavalry advanced at the trot.

British Light Infantry rather well camouflaged in the wood.

Part of the French line.

The end of Turn 2. Both sides continue to close on one another, but the French Cavalry have second thoughts and stay put. Both sides Artillery is struggling to hit the proverbial 'barn door' at this point.

The French Zouves like the look of the Tudorbethan Barratz home.

The French commander in full on 'Dithering' mode.

The brave British Line. Flags from David @ Not By Appointment

The end of Turn 3. The French continue to push forward more quickly than the British, with the Zouaves occupying the Barratz BUA, but the French Cavalry are forced back by combined firing.

"These modern houses are tiny and they do look rather shoddily built..."

The lines are close enough to engage in musketry.

The French Cavalry suffer shooting from their front and flank...

... forcing them to retreat to reform.

The end of Turn 4. With the French Cavalry gone for the moment, the French left flank is hanging in the air. The British Light Infantry move out of the woods to engage the French line as the British Cavalry moves past them.

The Zouves easily loop hole the Barratz house and enfilade the British line, but just fail to force it back.

However the French line is not so lucky and one Line Infantry unit is routed.

The British Cavalry pass the Artillery.

The end of Turn 5. The French Cavalry once again dither when they were sorely needed to bolster the flank that was wide open. Both sides shooting is devastating, but the French come off the worst.

The British lose a Line Infantry unit, but the French are about to do the same as well as their Artillery.

Caught in the flank from the Barratz house is enough to rout the British Line Infantry.

The French about to be forced to retreat.

The inert French Cavalry.

As the French retreat the domino effect leads to them both routing.

The Zouaves with their dubious prize.

The British Cavalry eager to get to grips with the French.

End of Game
And suddenly it was all over as the French simply could no longer offer any meaningful resistance.

Post Game Thoughts
Well that was a nice little game that I could fit in for my 'Wargames Wednesday', with the actual action taking about an hour to play out. A few thoughts as always:
  • Initially I thought that having Horse Artillery would be better rather than Foot, but by Turn 2 both sides were close enough for the action to begin, even if the shooting was pretty poor. Also for a SYW game Foot Artillery is naturally the right choice.
  • Having the British rated Superior for Firing was just enough to give them the edge when it mattered.
  • The French did have a big handicap when they rolled for a Dithering commander on top of their Cavalry being classed as Inferior. This was just enough to allow the British a bit more room for manouevre which they used to good effect.
  • Once the British gained fire ascendancy it was hard for the French to get back into the game, as with so few units, there is not the time nor the numbers to fall back and reform etc, whilst keeping the enemy occupied.
  • This sort of engagement would work equally well with Sharpe Practice II or Rebels & Patriotsm but I liked the feel of it being a petite guerre action with the HoW rules.
  • Having read the first part of Horace St Paul's diary, this sort of action seemed to be quite common, with the Austrian's especially sending out a force composed of Grenzers, Grenadiers, Light Cavalry and Artillery ahead of their main force, whether to make contact with the enemy of to seize some ground in advance of the main force deploying etc. So something like this would make a nice start to a small campaign at some point in the future.

What Next?
I hope to fight Grant's version of Mollwitz soon, but this will most likely have to wait whilst we have our windows replaced next week, which will cause quite a bit of disruption for 3-4 days. At least I'm feeling pretty OK now so at least I might be able to get some painting in if i'm lucky...