Wednesday 18 November 2020

Engagement at Dermbach, 1866

Having finished enough of my mdf figures for a game last week, I set about looking around for a scenario with which to blood them. As I had recently finished Mike Embree's book on the campaign in the West and South of Germany during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, a number of small scale engagements caught my eye. I decided upon the action at Dermbach as the basis for my game as it could easily be played as part of a mini-campaign should I so wish, as the battle had quite a few distinct phases. In the end I went for a one off game as I have yet to paint up enough troops for the campaign part, but hopefully that will be rectified soon.

An excellent book packed full of detail, but would have been helped by better proof reading and editing by Helion. Still nice to see such niche campaigns being brought to print.
In essence the Prussian troops were advancing down a valley, with a blocking Bavarian force spread along its length, intent on delaying action, subject to orders from on high. So a nice action from which to make a scenario. Both sides were of equal strength, but the defenders had about two thirds off table as reserves, which would arrive at the start of Turn 3.

Prussians Brigade (Red) 
1 x CO
2 x HQ
4 x Line Infantry
1 x Jaegers
1 x Light Cavalry
1 x Artillery

Bavarian Brigade (Blue)
1 x CO
2 x HQ
3 x Line infantry
2 x Line Infantry (Small Units to represent Company level units)
1 x Jaegers
1 x Light Cavalry
1 x Artillery
The Bavarians deployed about half way up the table, with the Jaegers on the orchards on the left flank, the cavalry on the right and the Company sized units in the village of Glattsbach and in the orchard across the bridge. The artillery was by the bridge to provide support to both Companys.

The Prussians started off at the head of the valley and off table, with tow Line Infantry units either side of the rivers, with the cavalry on the left flank and the Jaegers and artillery on the right.
An overview of the table.

Cavalry and infantry in and around Glattsbach.

Jaegers in the orchard.

The Bavarian reserves not yet on table.

The Prussians ready to advance down the valley as ordered.
Turn 1
The Prussians advanced swiftly down the valley, with the Jaegers and cavalry moving to protect the flanks, as the infantry made the best use of the roads can cover as they approached Glattsbach.
Seeing the Prussian cavalry, the Bavarian cavalry charged only to be beaten and having to retreat, with the Prussians in hot pursuit. The Jaegers advanced and shot at their Prussian counterparts, leaving them with hits and disorder. Shooting from in and around Glattsbach saw one Prussian infantry unit become shaken and disordered. 

The Bavarian cavalry come off worst in the combat.

The end of Turn 1.

The Bavarian cavalry having retreat and still in combat with the Prussians.

The mouse that roars. The Bavarian companys give the Prussians a bloody nose.

The Bavarian Jaegers engage the Prussian Jaegers, whilst the Prussian infantry advance.
Turn 2
The Prussian cavalry once again got the better of the Bavarians, who failed their break test and fled the table, leaving the Bavarian right flank hanging in the air somewhat. With the flank open, the Prussian left flank pushed an infantry unit forward to flank the village, whilst the other unit engaged the Bavarians, managing to cause a hit and disorder despite the protection of the sturdy walls. On the right flank the infantry and artillery pushed on, deploying across from the orchard and the Bavarian company there. The Prussian Jaegers caused hits and disorder on their counterparts, something that would continue for the rest of the game.

The Bavarians had little option for manouevre due to many units being disordered,so held firm. Their shooting was poor and only managed one hit on the exposed Prussian infantry.

The Bavarian cavalry breaks.

The end of Turn 2.

The Prussian infantry move to flank the Bavarians in Glattsbach.

The Prussians deploy across the road.

A view of the Prussian lines.

The Jaegers continue their tit-for-tat battle.
Turn 3
On the Prussian left flank, the commander managed to rally of one hit from the Shaken unit, as they held their positions but were unable to inflict any damage on the Bavarians in Glattsbach. On the right flank the Prussians pushed forward, shooting at the Bavarian company in the orchard, who were made of stern stuff as they easily passed their break test.

The Bavarian reserves appeared an quickly marched to the sound fo the guns, deploying near the vineyards ready for battle. Sadly the other Bavarians failed their command roll so could only hold their positions and shoot, but at least they caused some hits on the Prussian right flank.

The end of Turn 3.

The Bavarian reserves arrive and deploy into line.

The Bavarians stubbornly hold onto Glattsbach.

The brave Bavarian company somewhat outnumbered, but hoping the reserves can reach them in time.
Turn 4
The Prussian cavalry on the left flank moved smartly to cover the ford and thereby threaten the Bavarians lines-of-communication. The Prussians moved one infantry unit into Glattsbach and again failed to cause any hits on the Bavarians there. On the right flank, the weight of Prussian fire told and finally the Bavarian company broke and fled the field of battle.

With their rear threatened, the Bavarians detached one infantry unit to cover the ford, as the the rest of the reserves moved up towards the orchard as the broken unit streamed past. Shooting was once again ineffective other than one hit on the Prussian infantry on their right flank, leaving it shaken.

The end of Turn 4.

The Prussian cavalry face off across the ford with the Bavarian infantry.

The Bavarian reserves advance as the broken infantry flee the orchard.

The Prussians occupy part of Glattsbach.

The Bavarian artillery manage to cause one Prussian infantry unit to become shaken.
Turn 5
The Prussian left flank failed to receive their orders, leaving the cavalry exposed to Bavarian fire. The Prussians in and around Glattsbach caused one hit on the Bavarian artillery and managed to disorder the Bavarian infantry too. On the right flank, the infantry pushed into the orchard but other units failed to recive their orders.

The Bavarian reserves carried on advancing and pushing past the orchard, with their shooting causing the Prussian infantry their to become disordered. The artillery managed to cause a Prussian infantry unit to fail their break test and flee the table, leaving the Bavarians with a distinct advantage on this flank. The Bavarians guarding the ford shot at the Prussian cavalry who became shaken as a result.

The end of Turn 5.

The action at the ford.

The Bavarian reserves in action at the orchard.

The Bavarian artillery fire leads to the Prussian infantry breaking.

The tussle for Glattsbach continues.
Turn 6
The Prussian infantry in Glattsbach charged out and overan the Bavarian artillery and then moved forward to threaten the Bavarian company in the village. Fire from the front again only managed to disorder the Bavarians. Elsewhere disorder and failed commands led to the Prussians holding their positions, with their shooting causing no appreciable damage.

The game was up for the surrounded Bavarisn in Glattsbach who had no choice but to surrender. The Prussian cavalry were forced back from the ford despite passing their break test and the Bavarian reserves poured fire into the Prussians in the orchard, who simply passed all of their morale save!

The Prussians overrun the Bavarian artillery...

... and move into another part of the viallge to overwhelm the Bavarians there.

The end of Turn 6.

The cavalry forced to retreat.

The beleagured Bavarians.

The Prussian left flank.

The battle for the orchard.

A view of the action either side of the bridge.

End of the Game
With the Prussians in control of Glattsbach and the Bavarians dominant on the other side of the river, I called the game a draw. Without artillery support the Bavarians had little chance to re-take the village, likewise the Prussians had little to stop the Bavarian left.

Post Game Thoughts
It was nice to have a game after quite some time and to be honest I was a bit rusty with the rules, so this was the second time I played this action, as the first time I had to keep stopping to remind myself of the rules. As always a few thoughts on the game etc:
  • Using a historical action, albeit a small one, worked well and provided something a bit different from your normal game. The book is a treasure trove of info but certainly not the lightest of reads, but the second time around I find it easier going. This sort of action could translate easily to a game with Rebels & Patriots or Sharp Practice 2. Certainly it's something I might try in the future.
  • Using the Small Units rule from BPII worked well to reflect the small Company sized deployments common in this campaign. Tiny Units could work as well but would need careful consideration with their use.
  • Stone BUA's are very tough nuts to crack in these rules and if not used carefully, could certainly skew the game too much. I thought they were OK here but it was tough as you can see for the Prussians to take the village.
  • The Jaegers on both sides spent most of the game in a Mexican stand off, with neither side being able to gain an advantage. If one had then if could have given a significant advantage to their side.
  • I thought the mdf figures looked great when on the table and at arms length it was hard to tell they were 2D miniatures. The gloss lacquer certainly helped them pop when on the table. More are in the paint queue and hopefully will make their debut soon.
  • The cavalry had little to do once they had overcome their opponents, but then this reflects the historical reality of cavalry in this period. Anyone who has read von Studnitz's bookwill now this. In a campaign setting they have more use due to their threatening lines-of-communication etc.
  • I may add some more detail for the troops types, as so far I have kept everything rather vanilla, but it works well for these sort of games. I don't want to add too much chrome but a little bit might be nice.
So there we have it, another solo game under lockdown. It certainly looks like it won't be sometime until next year before there is even the remotest chance of some FtF gaming as the cases in here in Bristol are pretty high and only continuing to climb. I'm sure like most other gamers I chafing at the bit to have some games with friends, but patience is a virtue and I'll just have to wait.
So until next time stay safe and keep healthy.

Another year older, another year wiser...?

A few days ago it was my birthday and for once I was stuck as to what to buy as a treat for myself. Normally I have a list of bits'n'bobs that I add to over the months for various existing projects or possible new ones, so when the time comes I can place my orders and then give to the family to wrap up as a 'surprise'. But not this year. I think the whole Covid-19 situation, the second lockdown and a general feeling of ennui are to blame, as I can't think of any other reason. Speaking to friends and family on the 'big day' made me realise that I'm not alone in this feeling.
My normal purchases are toys for the lead mountain, books, new rules and any other items that catch my eye. However over the past 6 months or so of lockdown I've come to the realisation that I have more than enough toys as it is, given my speed of painting and the fact that in general I only game a few periods and anything outside of these are highly unlikely to see the light of day. It's been a long time in coming but my recent mdf figures have given me some clarity of thought, which is good.

However I was at least able to come up with some good books that ticked all the boxes for me and can be seen below:


The 'Battle Cry for Freedom' came about due to a desire to learn an awful lot more about the ACW and the history leading up to it, as to be honest I have only a passing school boy level of knowledge about this period. My interest has been picqued by some great games of Black Powder II with Dave prior to lockdown, alongside reading the superb books by Stephen W Sears on the battles in the East. These have given me a much greater understanding of why the battles turned out as they did, which I find invaluable as a wargamer.

Max Hastings is one of my favourite authors who presents history in an interesting and readable manner, interspersing the text with little gems of information and detail. Again my knowledge of the build up to WWI is at the same level as above. The opening battles are the most interesting for me, whether on the Western or Eastern Front. The campaigns in Africa and the Middle East are on my to read list, but not for some time yet.

The 'Case White' book I have yet to receive but will help flesh out my library on the Polish campaign and the early War years in general. The whole '39 - '41 period up to and including Operation Barbarossa are the most interesting for me now, as the offer up some many game and campaign possibilities alongside a whole host of 'what if's?'. Hopefully this will spur me on to carry on painting my Early War Germans, French and Poles, but don't hold your breath!

So in the end I was able to find some nice treats for myself, which was good, given the above. Let's hope Xmas proves to be better for all concerned but given the case numbers here in Bristol, I think we will still be in full lockdown when the day comes. At least the family will be together and one can always hope for the best! So until next time, stay safe and keep well.

Thursday 5 November 2020

First MDF Brigade

Progress on my MDF forces has been somewhat patchy, pretty much going in fits and starts over the past week or so. Frankly I had forgotten how long it takes (well me at least) to paint even a modest sized force, talk less of an army or two. Well at least I managed to finish one mixed Brigade for the Blue team a few days ago and managed to take a few pics this morning which can be seen below:
The Mixed Brigade with its 4 Battalion structure and supporting Artillery, Light Infantry and Cavalry.

The Line Infantry with their simple flags and blue colour scheme, with red accents to make them pop a bit on the table.

The C-in-C with his ADC's.

The Artillery with their red carriages, again to make them pop on the table.

The Light Infantry.

The Cavalry.

When I've been in the mood they have been a joy to paint, once I got used to painting laser cut MDF, as it can be rather 'rough' in places and flat 6/8mm figures. With a technique sorted they then became pretty quick to do. In the end I went with a gloss lacquer to help the colours stand out more, as a matt or satin finish dulls the end result too much for these IMHO. The red accents across all the figures was something that I realised I needed as a mass of blue at this scale looks too dull and am happy with the result.

I decided to go with simple geometric flag designs as I couldn't find anything that grabbed on the historical front that worked for me when scaled down. The detail simply disappeared. I'm happy with the outcome and enjoyed making and painting them. It's something I've been meaning to do for years and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

So now it's just the small matter of painting the opposition so I can get some games in, followed by all the other Brigades. I can see why my lead mountain doesn't get smaller given how long it's taken me to paint these!

On a general wargaming front, I simply haven't felt in the mood for a game, which is unusual. I think the very wet October (5th wettest on record), combined with painting these figures and now Lockdown 2.0 , has taken the desire away from me. At least I have enjoyed seeing other Bloggers AAR etc, so have been playing vicariously as it were.

Anwya, enough waffle from me and I should get on with some painting, but the weather is for once dry and sunny so I'm heading off outside! So until next time...