Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Revisiting my Vortex Mixer: Cheap, but still working!

Over a year ago I bought a cheap vortex mixer for my paints. I reviewed the product at the time but it wasn't clear if it would either be used much or keep going. Fifteen months later it is still going strong and performing the job I bought it for. 


IMHO a bargain, but maybe I have just been lucky with this low-cost alternative. As usual, I would love to hear your experiences with vortex mixers - cheap or expensive - in the comments below.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Landing the Wargames Butterfly

What motivates me to play the periods that I collect? Like many wargamers, I'm a bit of a butterfly when it comes to flitting from one period to another. But what makes this wargamer land on a period? 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

To the Last Bullet: A French Colonial MWWBK Battle Report

Last weekend I had a bit of time to get in a quick game of The Men Who Would Be Kings using my 15mm French Foreign Legion stuff. I've been working on this since Christmas with the end target being the Broadside wargames show which took place a few weeks ago. But with my Beau Hunks demo game done and out of the way I thought it was time I had a play with my toys! Aside from a little bit of playtesting before the show, I haven't had a chance to use these figures myself so this weekend I decided to rectify that with a solo game.  

This is a long video by my standards and is most definitely not a quick-strike ARR. Because this isn't a historical battle (one of the criteria of the LWTV quick-strike format) I decided to just film the game and see how short I could make a long video! Just under an hour is the answer.


Although I didn't stop to take pictures during the game, I was able to extract some stills from the video so here are a few shots of the game in progress. 












Sunday, 19 June 2022

Indefinable: Explaining wargaming to non-gamers

Do you ever find yourself trying to explain your hobby to an outsider and wondering if they get it? In the end, is our hobby fundamentally indefinable when talking to 'normal' people?


Sunday, 12 June 2022

Young at Heart: Why I never want to grow up

It is a commonly held truism that we lose our childlike wonder as we grow older. We "put away childish things" and grow up. But I have always considered this to be one of the great tragedies of the human condition. So does that make those of us that still play with toy soldiers 'special' or just immature?  

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

French Foreign Legion: Beau Hunks - A Posties Rejects Demo Game

A few days ago I posted my pictures from the Broadside Wargames Show and revealed a few pictures of the Posties Rejects demo game, Beau Hunks. As promised here is a video telling the story of this game from conception to completion. I've also had a few requests for some background information and I have tried to share as much of it as I can here today. Where I have used material from other sites I have included links so you can go see the original documents. In addition, I have a bunch of material saved on Google Drive and I'll put links to shared files below. If these don't work and you want me to send anything (such as the QRS or the Beau Hunks rules) please let me know using the contact form on the right.



Hollywood meets History

Hollywood has given us many heroic and dramatic stories about the French Foreign Legion battling impossible odds in the Sahara. From several adaptions of P.C.Wrens novel Beau Geste to more comic depictions of the Legion such as Laurel and Hardy’s Beau Hunks, we have a romantic image of the steadfast and stoic Legionnaire. But as with all such stereotypes, the real story of the Légion étrangère and the French conquest of Algeria and Morocco is somewhat different. 

Fascination with the French Foreign Legion started long before Percival Christopher Wren’s novel Beau Geste was published in 1924. French troops in faraway exotic cities like Algiers & Oran to the almost semi-mythical Timbuktu could hardly fail to excite the imagination. But Wren's story of high adventure - set in pre-1914 French Algeria - took the romantic image to a new level, and it wasn’t long before the first screen adaption of his book was made in 1926 starring Ronald Coleman. Part of the success of the book was due to the detail of military life that Wren wove into his story, prompting unproven claims that he himself served in the Legion. A second adaptation of the story, starring Gary Cooper, was released in 1939 and this cemented the romantic image of the Foreign Legion in popular culture.  However, the real story of this period of French Colonial history is much more interesting. 

For much of the 19th Century, the government in Paris had been divided between liberals who saw no real need for expansion into North Africa and a conservative pro-colonization party that wanted land, no matter the cost. After the humiliation of the Franco-Prussian War, military adventurism in Europe was (for the time being at least) held in check and ambitious politicians and eager young officers looked outward for glory and career advancement opportunities. 

By 1871 much of northern Algeria had been pacified. The grazing and agricultural land of the ‘Tell’ had been confiscated and the Arab and Berber tribes had been displaced or subdued. But in the southern pre-Sahara, the situation was much more precarious. The notional border with the sovereign monarchy of Morocco was little more than an invisible line in the sand to the nomadic people of the region, and many on either side of that line owed religious allegiance to the Moroccan capital rather than to Algiers. As French authority began to be extended ever southward (following the progress of the Railroad) conflict was almost inevitable. In December 1899 French Irregulars occupied In-Salah, an oasis in the Touat group, and set in motion a chain of events that would make a wider conflict inevitable. 

French control of Algeria was maintained by the Armée d’Afrique. This consisted mostly of indigenous Arab or Berber volunteers as Mounted Spahis, Goumiers and Irregular infantry or Tirailleurs. These were supported by regiments of French settlers doing their military service (Zouaves and Chasseurs d'Afrique) and the non-French volunteers of the French Foreign Legion (Légion étrangère). It was not uncommon for officers in remote postings to overreact to minor incidents as a pretext for glory and the chance of promotion. And once these ‘French’ troops had taken a region, the government in Paris couldn’t abandon conquered territory without losing face. In this way, France acquired colonial conquests in a haphazard and unplanned fashion that has been described as an “orgy of military indiscipline”.

After the initial bloody occupation of the Touat, the tribes that had relied on trade with the region inevitably began to push back. The French occupiers had upset the delicate economics of the Sahara. To sustain their military forces the Armée d’Afrique was forced to transport vast amounts of supplies to a region that could barely support the local population, let alone their new European masters. This necessitated the acquisition of tens of thousands of camels, up to 40% of which died on the long treks south. For many Berbers, the majority of their personal wealth was invested in their camels. The requisitioning of animals lost to poor handling and often without adequate compensation, was a ruinous policy for many. In addition, the water of the Oasis chain could not sustain all the extra troops and camels, so the French sunk artesian wells which lowered the water table, simultaneously drying out the ground and creating stagnant disease-ridden pools on the surface. Little wonder that many of the indigenous population turned to raid as the only way to support their families. 

Through the first few years of the 20th Century, the classic ‘Beau Geste’ Legionnaire (white fatigues, blue-grey capote greatcoat, white covered and flapped Kėpi and armed with the Lebel 8mm repeater) saw regular action in the Touat and Sud-Oranais. Mostly this was dealing with hit and run raids but also on occasion, larger actions against large well organised Harkas several thousand strong. The Legion suffered its share of losses but a combination of mounted companies, and hard fighting pushed the Arabs and Berbers into exile or into submission. 

Between 1904-7 BrigGen Lyautey was given increasing freedom of action with French military posts pushed further and further westwards, even across the debatable border into Morocco. On two occasions he reported the creation of recon outposts (soon to become permanent forts) using unmapped local names to conceal how far west he had pushed. Thus he ignored the official policy of the Foreign Ministry in Paris by shaping policy on the ground. Meanwhile, the rail line moved ever further south and west eventually, reaching Bechar in 1905. This supplied operations in the region for many years to come and solidified French control of this previously contested land. 

With French incursions into Morocco, the Sultan began to face growing anti-french sentiment but was impotent to do anything about it. Corruption, lack of money and incompetence made the problem worse, eventually putting Europeans living in the major cities in danger. The French were eventually ‘forced’ to react, occupying Casablanca in 1907. This increased Arab anger both at the French and the Sultan, eventually resulting in a rival Sultan being proclaimed and a call for Jihad against the French. The Arabs were eventually defeated but by the end of 1908 the Sultan had abdicated, his wannabe usurper was dead, and Morocco was firmly on the road to becoming a French Protectorate.  


The Beau Hunks Rules:

Needless to say, Laurel & Hardy can't be killed and won't have any offensive capability in the game. They are here for purely comic value. They will move around the table in much the same way as other units, just at the end of the French turn, as a final move by the French player. 

The aim is for Laurel & Hardy to travel around the table visiting as many French Officers as possible (ie they have to end their move in base to base contact). Each officer can only be visited once during the game. Laurel & Hardy have a movement rate of 8", and can move through French units at no penalty. Berber units block movement, although the pair's presence on the table does not hinder movement for any unit (ie units of both sides can move across them) 


Whenever L&H end their movement in contact with an officer one of the players (or guest) around the table will draw 2 Chance Cards. There are three types of cards in the Chance deck:

  • Jeanie-Weenie Cards - Pictures of the unfaithful heartbreaker, each dedicated to a different lover! Laurel & Hardy will gain Victory Points for each Jennie-Weenie card collected and if they get enough to win the game Hardy decides she wasn’t worth it after all and they get out of the Foreign Legion. 
  • Slapstick Cards describe various ridiculous events caused by the bumbling heroes. Some of these cards are just comic descriptions, but a handful has a limited effect on a single unit or officer in the game. These cards will be evenly subdivided into French Cards and Berber Cards. The opposing player gets to decide which enemy unit is affected. Some cards are immediate, but for those which indicate an effect in the following action phase, place the card by the officer as a reminder and remove it from the table once the action has been taken. 
  • Event Cards - Rare but significant events that affect all the units on the table.


Laurel and Hardy will gain Victory Points for each Jeanie-Weenie card found and could, potentially be declared the winners of the game, leaving the players to contest second and third place!


Recommended Historical Reading List:

The Conquest of the Sahara
Douglas Porch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1984)

Our Friends Beneath the Sands
Martin Windrow (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2010)

Uniforms of the French Foreign Legion
Martin Windrow (Blandford Press 1981)

The French Foreign Legion 1872-1914 Men-at-Arms Series No.461
Martin Windrow (Osprey 2010)

French Foreign Legionnaire 1890-1914 Warrior Series No.157
Martin Windrow (Osprey 2011)


Files for download: 

I have several files to share from my Google Drive, click the links to open them and you should be able to download a copy. There also links to external sites where I found other useful downloads. 


Sunday, 5 June 2022

Finding Time

How do you make the most of your time for wargaming and your hobby? I try to answer this question by expanding on my original answer; a flexible schedule and an understanding wife. Credit where credit is due, I couldn't enjoy my hobby without her tolerance of my weird ways! 🤣


The rest is down to planning ahead and setting limited and achievable goals. As always please let me know what you thnk in the comments below or on my channel. 

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Broadside Show Report 2022

A very quick video from today's Broadside Games Show. This is one of our favourite shows in the South East and the one where we usually run a demo game. Our game did rather well this year but I'll do a bigger video on that later in the week. This very short video features pictured of the games on display today. 

Sunday, 29 May 2022

A very busy week

It's been a busy week, heralding a busy month or more of hobby activities that will keep me happily occupied for weeks to come. All of this is part of my 'cunning plan' set in motion months before. But do you plan this far ahead or am I just more peculiar than I already know I am?


Please check out Johnathan's report on his blog Palouse Wargaming Journal of the game he ran for the Rejects on Monday. I expect part two will be available a few days after our final game this coming Monday and victory is still up for grabs by any side. It's going to be exciting!

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Partizan Show Report

I have finally finished my show report for the 2022 Partizan Wargames Show in Newark. This was my first Partizan (yes I know, inexcusable!) but it won't be my last. I had a fantastic time enjoying some eye-watering beautiful games, brilliantly fun participation games, a wide selection of trade stands and excellent conversation all day. As usual, I shot hundreds of pictures and most of them are in this photo report, so it's a bit long, but I hope you enjoy it. 


Pour yourself a glass of Port (or your beverage of choice), get comfortable and enjoy some of the wargames eye-candy from this year's show.

Friday, 20 May 2022

A Rejects Road-trip to Partizan

Posties Rejects will be heading up north(ish) to Newark this Sunday for the Partizan Wargames Show. I'm ashamed to admit it, but this will be my FIRST Partizan!! The rest of the group has been several times before but for reasons that escape me I have never been able to get the required 'day pass' to attend. With the cancellation of Cavalier in February and Salute in April this year I am desperate for a wargaming fix and Partizan fits the bill perfectly. 

Several members of the Rejects will be going and some of us will even be wearing our Rejects shirts with our names and the group logo on them, so please feel free to ambush us and say hello. I for one don't expect to get much shopping done as I am looking forward to a whole day of chin-wagging with friends new and old. 

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Meaningful Connections

It's the end of Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK and this got me thinking (not for the first time) about the Meaningful Connections I have made through my hobby and how important they are for good mental health.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Bounce! - A WWII Aerial warfare remote gaming session

A few nights ago the Rejects gather online (rather than in the Shed-o-War) for an evening of WWII fighter combat. Richard (of My Wargaming Habit fame) hosted the game using Zoom as the medium for five of us to join and play. We played this very simple game a month ago and had such a good time Richard decided to do it again. 

Each plane's altitude and speed were shown using coloured dice and each plane had six points of movement available to spend on a simple set of manoeuvres. These included forward for one point; Forward & up a level for two points; slipping left or right and dropping a level for two points, and a full 180° loop rising one level in the process. The order of activation was determined by a combination of Altitude (higher is better) and speed. Play was across a hex tabletop and the aircraft are all 1/300th scale models from H&R I believe. With this really simple set of rules, five of us were able to strap into the cockpits of our fighters and do combat over a couple of hours. 


The result was unfortunately a German victory, but the real winners were all the participants as we had a really good time cheering each other on. I'm pretty sure my neighbours must have been wondering what all the noise was about, given that this was an evening game 😆.

Well done to Richard for hosting this fun little evening event. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Beau Hunks: Hollywood meets History

I thought I would drop a sneak peek of a game the Rejects played over the weekend. For several years now we have run a Demonstration game at the Broadside Wargames Show (formerly in Sittingbourne, now in Gillingham, Kent). The last Broadside was in December 2021 and Richard ran an excellent French Revolution game using his own set of rules (see article and video HERE). Then the baton was passed to me to come up with a game for this year's Show, just six months later! Anyone that has followed this blog, or my YouTube Channel Miniature Adventures TV, will know that I have been working on French Foreign Legion in 15mm as my project for the show. 

So on Sunday, the Rejects gathered in the Shed-o-War for the first and only test playthrough of the battle I will be running as our demo game on the day. Five players gathered around the table as a Berber force attempted to ambush a Company of French Foreign Legionnaires as they returned to their lonely desert fort, somewhere in Algeria. The game itself is fictional but is based on the sort of raiding and patrolling that took place across the region in the first decade of the 20th Century.

Hollywood has given us many heroic and dramatic stories about the French Foreign Legion battling impossible odds in the Sahara. From several adaptions of P.C.Wrens novel Beau Geste to more comic depictions of the Legion such as Laurel and Hardies’ Beau Hunks, we have a romantic image of the steadfast and stoic Legionnaire. But as with all such stereotypes, the real story of the Légion étrangère and the French conquest of Algeria and Morocco is somewhat different.

For the Demo Game, I will actually be running two sets of rules (yes folks, two for the price of one!). The main battle uses The Men Who Would Be Kings as the base ruleset with a handful of minor rules tweaks for this game. Overlaying this is an entirely silly (and deliberately comic) card-driven game featuring the legendary comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy. They must move around the table looking for evidence of the infidelity of Ollie's unfaithful heartbreaker, Jeenie-Weenie. Whenever they encounter a French Officer, someone will draw two cards from the Beau Hunks inspired deck of chance cards. Some of these cards affect one side or the other, some just affect Laurel and Hardy and a few a more general Event cards. All feature comic scenes from the film Beau Hunks and their other films. If you happen to be passing our demo game at the show, expect to be roped in to draw the cards, sing one of the Duo's theme songs or do a little dance! 

It's not all silly, of course, I have also produced a short leaflet talking about the history of the period, comparing it to the glamorous and romantic image of the Legion portrayed by Hollywood. There will be a small display of pictures maps and other information for anyone wanting to research the period for themselves and there are even a few "test your knowledge panels" to see who knows their movie history and the history of the Legion. 

So, back to the practice game.... A big thank you to Ray (of Don't Thow a One fame) for sharing these pictures. I was so busy running things I didn't take any pictures at all! The session on Sunday was really useful because it gave me some much-needed practice umpiring a game with a rowdy (but good-natured) bunch of gamers. It also revealed several small mistakes with the QRS I was using and threw up a useful to-do list of minor changes I want to make for the Demo game itself. 

That's it for now, more will be revealed on the day. It goes without saying that we would love it if you could come along and see our efforts at Broadside on the 4th of June at the Medway Park Sports Centre, ME7 1HF. 

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Are historical wargamers a fantasy

A few weeks ago I was asked "Are historical wargamers a fantasy?" I gave a brief answer in the comments be decided to try to expand my answer for today's video.


Question supplied by The Friends of General Haig who can be found on Twitter @FriendsHaig

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Top 3 Rulebooks of all time (and why they made the cut)

Today's video is another inspired by my recent 'Call to Arms' for ideas and questions. The question submitted by pbeccas asked, "What are your top three favourite rule books of all time". I decided to expand this to also ask, why my top three were picked but also decided to ask a couple of my mates from Posties Rejects to give their suggestions as well. The result is an eclectic mix of rulebooks covering a wide range of periods. 


For more detail about Richard & Ray's choices check out their blog posts reviewing some of the rules mentioned in the video:

Richard's review of They Died for Glory
Richard's review of Koenig Krieg
Ray's review of Donnybrook
Ray's review of Beneath the Lily Banners



Sunday, 24 April 2022

Demo Game Box

Today's video is inspired by my recent call-to-arms and a flood of excellent subjects for future videos. Subscriber Mr__Blue asked, "What are the essential contents of the umpires demo box?" I've adapted this question sightly to look specifically at what you need to bring with you when running a Demo game, either at a club or a show. I've run several demo games at shows and am working on one right now for a show in June so I felt this was a subject I could speak with a little bit of authority on.



As usual, I ask readers/viewers for their views and experiences on this subject. So please leave your stories in the comments below or over on my channel Miniature Adventures

Sunday, 17 April 2022

How many dice is too many?

Am I the only wargamer that buys new dice for every rule set I own? I already own THOUSANDS so what's a few hundred more?




Sunday, 10 April 2022

Miniature Adventures Needs You!

A call-to-arms for all subscribers (new and old) to suggest video topics for the future. I'm always working on several subjects at once, and I have managed to make at least one video per week for the last two years, but it's time I asked for help coming up with subjects to chat about. So do you have a burning question you need to be answered? Are there any subjects you would like me to tackle? What shall we discuss next?



Ideally, the questions need to be answerable in a ten-minute video or at most split into a short series of linked subjects. 

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Managing Wargame Admin: Paperwork or Tokens

I recently discussed that I prefer to keep in-game admin on the table, rather than use off-table paperwork. Most games have some form of 'admin' whether this is recording hits or keeping track of conditions and effects. There is probably no one correct answer but today I ask, how do you feel about the use of tokens or other on-table devices for tracking these items?

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

AHPC Final Update FFL in Algeria 1900 1903

Last week I posted the traditional wrap-up photo of my efforts in this year's Painting Challenge on the Challenge Blog (see the post here)

I've now put together a very short video version of this post, showing all the miniatures I painted for my Foreign Legion project during the Challenge. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Battle of Mount Rock - French Indian War large scale skirmish in 28mm

Once again I'm a bit late in reporting on this (covid-in-da-house) but now that I'm feeling a little better it's time to get this Battle Report written up. So a couple of weeks ago the Rejects gathered for a game in the Shed-o-War and this time El Capitano Postie was our umpire. His French Indian Wars rules are simple, fast to play and fun so when he runs a 'Skirmish' game it is usually on a massive scale. True to form this game used the whole of the 6ft by 12ft table and hosted five players fighting it out through a frontier town c.1757. Ray posted his battle report last week and it's worth checking it out here

The Setup & OOB

The British forces are a mix of Regulars, Light Infantry, provincials and civilians. They are dispersed across much of the table with the Line troops concentrated around the construction site for a new fort. They also have a unit of friendly Indians hiding in nearby woods. The French have a mixed force with Marines, Militia,  Coureur de Bois and a sizable Indian contingent. 

The British players (Myself, Ray and Mark) start the game not knowing where the French may attack from, and based on previous games, fully expecting to have to defend at various points around the table edge. I don't know if Stuart gave the French players (Steve & Surjit) much choice in deployment but they decided to attack with everything from one direction. The British had to wait a couple of turns to be absolutely sure that this was the only attack, before drawing reserves away from the other roads and this delay proved crucial for the outcome of the game. 

The setup (picture gratefully borrowed from Ray's blog, Don't Throw a 1)

The Action

The largest British unit on the table (not counting Militia) was the 44th Line, but they were concentrated around the Fort construction site, guarding several roads and a bridge into the area. When the French arrived at the other end of the table (twelve feet away!!) we had to decide whether to abandon this defensive position or wait to see what the French plan was. 

The French and their Indians emerge from the woods and move quickly to get across the river. Their movement was very swift and the British were on the back foot for most of the game...especially when the French kept winning Initiative turn after turn. 

French troops and Indians press forward sending British Militia and Civilians running for their lives. 

The 44th start to form up and move towards the battle, but having waited for two turns to be certain of the French attack, maybe it is too late?

The French press quickly into the town, with British stragglers ruthlessly cut down. Casualties are mounting and as the victory points for this game are purely based on kills, this is already a one-sided game for the British. 

One of the British Militia units has been pursued several turns and have lost all but two men. They decide they can't run anymore so bravely turn and charge the nearest Indians. Their attack, and 18 inches of British Steel on the ends of their rifles, kills a couple of pursuers but then the Indians rash in and finish them. 

Now the Indians start to funnel into the centre of town, shifting their attack more towards the left of the British defence. There was considerable confusion as units mixed (I'm pretty sure some movement distances were 'stretched' a little) but it was already clear this game was only going one way for the British. 

The British now see the direction of the attack and try to concentrate their forces. The 44th have reached the rear of the defensive line and started to consolidate into a formed unit blocking the road.

Formed up like this both lines can fire and with a bonus for volley fire...but only if they can get close enough to fire on the invaiders. 

Having swept through the outskirts of the town, the French forces reach a more open area and coalesce into a concentrated line. They are probably considering the wisdom of pressing across open ground (especially the Indians) but do they need to? They have already caused considerable casualties to the British for relatively light losses on their side. 

The British have a strong looking defensive line, but the light is fading and the French decide their raid has been a success. The Victory points agree! British 62 pts to a massive 132 pts for the French

The winners. Steve and Surjit after a well-deserved win. Steve's ability to roll hits was so impressive he won Man-of-the-Match, hence the happy look on his face. 

Conclusion

An excellent game, with some beautiful terrain and figures from Posties collection. As a British player, I was of course hoping for a different result, but the points at the end showed this as a clear win for the French, not least because they won the Initiative in all but one turn of the game. 

Sunday, 27 March 2022

No such thing as a bored wargamer

Being a Wargamer is a great hobby because I am never bored. Even while feeling rubbish from COVID I was still able to find a little aspect of my hobby to keep me occupied while confined to my bed. 


Sunday, 20 March 2022

Lighting your paint Table

I use a variety of lights to illuminate my painting table and their combined output keeps my tan topped up year-round. Despite this, I am trying to be energy conscious and most of the gear I use is A-Rated for efficiency, which means there is still room for improvement.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Maintaining the Blog: Change is Good

So following on from the videos that I put on my Miniature Adventures Channel I decided my blog was long overdue for a bit of TLC. Some of the widgets down the sidebar had stopped working, the Pages needed updating, and a friend of mine pointed out there wasn't even a 'Follow this Blog' button on my site. Much of this seems to have stemmed from the Theme Template I have been using. It worked a treat years ago when I started using it, but over time it has got more buggy and less user-friendly. 


Thankfully changing to a new theme is a doddle in Blogger and after a little bit of personalisation, I have settled on the 'new' look for the blog. All the old content is still available and I have been able to bring back some of the widgets that had stopped working, including a proper Blogroll. I've even managed to add a 'Contact Me' form as I have had several people try to make contact via the Comments which can be a bit hit-and-miss. 

There may be a few small changes over the next week or so, as I start to update and refresh some of the Pages which have been a little neglected. Once upon a time, you could only have ten pages, but now the sky is the limit, so I will be adding a few more with themed galleries of periods I collect or specific projects. I hope you like the new look and please, get in touch and let me know what you think. 

Sunday, 13 March 2022

Future of Wargame Blogging

Last week I discussed whether Wargame Blogs were dying out. My tentative conclusion was no, but they are having to compete with other Social Media platforms. Each offers a different way to express our love of the hobby, but what if we could use our 'old fashioned' blogs to utilise all of those other Socials to boost the reach of our content? Maybe there is life in the old blog yet?


Sunday, 6 March 2022

Are Wargame Blogs Dying out

I used to have over 600 Bogs in my Blogroll, but one by one they have stopped being updated or have been removed entirely. Meanwhile wargame content is proliferating on other social media. So it has to be asked, are wargaming blogs dying out?

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

The Battle of Le Champ Glissant

Sunday saw the Rejects gather yet again in Posties Shed-o-War for yet another French Revolution period battle using Richard's excellent homebrew rules. These are the rules we used for our Demo game at Broadside in November and we all agreed at the time we needed to play more games to really get the mechanics of the rules pinned down. Aside from being an excellent game experience for all of us, I think it's also been a useful bit of playtesting, especially this game where we encountered some situations that we haven't had to deal with for years. 

So I need to start this Battle Report with a huge apology. I was so invested in the game that I hardly shot any pictures and certainly didn't have time to make notes, so this is more like half of an AAR. That being said I did get a couple of cracking shots that I thought worth sharing and hopefully, Ray will have a fuller write up on his blog Don't Throw a One

So this battle sees the action shift to the Lower Rhine (our earlier games took place in Italy) and the Austrian commander Archduke Charles has handled the Imperial army well, plays a careful game of manoeuvre with the French Army under General Moreau. The Austrians realise it is important to prevent a French breakthrough from the Rhine to the Danube and thus force an Austrian defeat. The French have however managed to bring about an engagement although the final position of the battle has yet to be determined (more on that in a moment). 

The French meanwhile have been trying to fulfil the orders of the Directory and push the Austrians back to the Danube to link up with the Army of Italy. This would force the Austrian Emperor to make peace. Archduke Charles has been successfully avoiding a pitched engagement but now the French have finally brought him to battle. 


The Pre Game Phase

Surjit and I took command of the French Army of the Rhine and for reasons completely unknown to myself, Surj trusted me with most of the troops in the centre of our line (I'm not known for my prowess with Napoleonic troops!). This effectively put me in charge as I would be taking on the bulk of the fighting and Surjits units had to coordinate with my attack. It has to be said we didn't necessarily know that when the game started because Richard introduced a clever mechanism for deployment and a chance to change the terrain, representing the two sides jockeying for position. 


Both sides were given cards each representing a Brigade plus a couple of dummy cards. We then had to decide where to place these along our sector of the table edge. This done, both sides were then given another pack of cards with a range of options written on them. We each had to choose 12 cards from the deck and two sets were then shuffled into a 24 card deck. Three cards were then dealt with each side. Each turn of this 'probing phase' we drew an extra card from this deck and had to play one card from this set of four. The cards included things like: Placing a Farm or hill on the Tabke; Removing terrain items; moving terrain elements sideways or across the table; Moving units (we still didn't know which were real and which were blank at this stage). This continued until either one side had picked up two 'disadvantages', or both sides agreed to stop, or when the main deck had been used up. The result was that neither side had total control over the terrain or their own deployment. 


With this phase over Richard then set up the Brigades where our unit cars indicated and both sides were then given a frantic ten minutes (and not a second longer!) to change formations or shift the orientation of units. The earlier phase meant that most of our units need up in a single 2ftx2ft square and it was so cramped it looked a bit like Picadilly Circus! We had a plan though, and so long as we didn't get our units muddled up, or hesitate with our moves, we were confident we could win the game. 



The French Plan

So our plan was simple. Form as many units into Attack Columns as we could, with some regiments in skirmish formation to the front to shield the columns behind. Then we pointed ourselves at the enemy and marched as fast as our little french legs would carry us towards the Austrian line! Unfortunately where we were positioned necessitated a slight diagonal march to reach the part of the enemy line we wanted to hit but in the end, we only lost one turn of movement to get all our units aligned for a simultaneous attack. 


My command was the main attack with five Regiments in attack column pointed at the centre of the Austrian line. Surjit was assigned to protect my right flank and I had some cavalry on my left that kept the Austrian flank sat in position for most of the game. Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy and the Austrians were not idle in allowing us to do whatever we wanted. Initially, our plan worked, hitting the enemy in a coordinated attack that threw them back from their positions. The follow up was less well coordinated due to casualties and moral reductions...but I'm jumping ahead of myself a little. 


The Austrian Plan

Well, it's hard to put words in their mouth but given the way they were deployed, I think it is fair to say they took a defensive posture from the start. Using a line of forest and hills (and some late-appearing wall) they lined up and dared the French to attack! 



The Action
The first couple of turns worked perfectly for me and Surjit. Richards rules involve an opening phase with Artillery Fire, Skirmish Fire and then Volley Fire, if the commanders choose to do so. Any actions used at this stage reduce the actions available in the following Action Phase and while it may be beneficial to fire as quickly as possible, there are also advantages for a defender in letting the enemy get closer. During the Action Phase each side then rolls for initiative and the winner can choose to move one of his Battalions or force the opposite side to go first. This worked for the french because the Austrians had opted to hold their fire until we got closer, but by forcing them to use their remaining actions before we moved we remained out of rage (or at long range with their medium gun). The result was we were able to shift our columns into position largely unmolested and begin the advance on our targets. 

By the end of the second turn, my brigades were in a position to smash into the Austrian line. My Skirmish units had done their job and the attack columns behind were largely unscathed. 

Unfortunately, Surjits start position meant he was slightly behind me and then didn't move forward aggressively enough to support my flank. Ideally, I would have liked to have had one or two of his Regiments in attack column next to me. However, he was rightly concerned by the Austrian Cavalry on the right of this picture. That being said he had another Brigade out of shot on the right that I think ought to have pushed further forward to hold the cavalry away from our centre...but hindsight is a wonderful thing and rarely suffers the uncertainty all commanders deal with in the middle of a battle! 


My attack goes into the centre winning all but one of the Melees. I destroy one gun, force another to retreat and send three enemy regiments reeling backwards. But the Austrians have prepared their defence-in-depth and I bulk at the idea of throwing forward lone units into the Austrians. At one point one of the retreating regiments had its rear to me and I was certain I would hit it, but a good morale test and they were able to turn around. In Richards rules, units from the same Brigade may provide supporting fire against charging enemy regiments and I considered the cost of a follow-up assault to be too high. Was I wrong? Ray thought so, but I was thinking about the casualties I had already taken and wanted to conserve my fighting force. 

Meanwhile, the Austrian Cavalry charge into Surjits Brigade. They sweep aside the skirmish screen and plough into a regiment of Grenadiers in a square... it doesn't end well for the Austrians, but it was a valiant effort and a sight to behold. 

Our attack has stalled. Many of my units have dropped morale grades and I use actions to make morale checks to recover them to 'Steady' so I can get them back in the fight. Meanwhile, Ray and Steve are doing the same with some of their regiments. But with the Austrian cavalry repelled Surjit has started to push his flank forward and I feel ready to renew my push in the centre. My Brigade in front f the woods changes its facing slightly towards Steves Brigade (this Brigade has spent much of the game sat in a standoff with my French Cavalry, much like Surjit and the Austrian Cavalry at the other end of the Battlefield). 

More or less the final positions of the game. We were running out of time (we'd been playing for eight hours at this point!) so Richard called it over and then we all waited with bated breath to find out who had won. Both sides had fought hard. The French controlled much of the battlefield but the Austrians were by no means out of the battle so it was unclear who had the upper hand as darkness fell. 

A narrow French Victory. The points for melee's fought and casualties taken are a testament to the intensity of the fight in the centre of the line. 

Not sure if you can actually read this, but these are the Orders of Battle for both sides and the record of casualties taken. 


Conclusion & Analysis

Well, once again I have to say we had a cracking good game with Richards rules. They play pretty fast and while they seem complicated to start with there is a definite flow and logic to them that we all enjoy. The additional mechanism used at the start to arrange the battlefield was an added element of fun and was almost a mini-game in its own right. Amazingly this is my third consecutive win of the year with a period that I have not had much success with in the past. 

I should also mention that we were joined by a new recruit to the Rejects, Steve. We met him at Broadside in November and as he lives relatively local we decided to invite him around for a game. He played well on the day, took the defeat in good humour and most importantly laughed at all our jokes! We hope to see him again at future games.