Wednesday 30 October 2013

The Battle of Fulda

Over the weekend Posties Rejects got together to play a fictitious battle set during Napoleons retreat after his defeat at Leipzig. As is often the case Postie had set up the game before we arrived and we were treated to an unusual setup with the french defending what at first seemed like a weak position. The Angry Lurker has already posted some pictures of the game from his perspective and they are well worth checking out. 

Setting the Scene - The Battle of Fulda, 26th Oct 1813
After his defeat at Leipzig, Napoleon retreated towards Frankfurt. Casualties at Leipzig had been severe with 68,000 men killed, wounded or taken prisoner and 300 artillery pieces lost. The French have implemented a plan to stop the Allies slowing down the withdrawal by taking various units from their own divisions to create a rearguard Corps with instructions to hold up any enemy troops that are following the main army. The allies have not been slow in recognising that an attach on the French line of march could be an easy victory. Detachments from the various armies have been combined into a Corps to pursue and attack the French while the rest of the army attacks various French strongholds and garrisons in the surrounding area. Some Corps are trying to out manoeuvre Napoleon by cutting off his line of retreat. 

The French have learnt that the fast approaching Prussians are about only half and hour away so have taken up a defensive line blocking their advance at the town of Fulda. The French must stop the Prussian advance to win the game. The Prussians must defeat this blocking force so they can fall on the rest of the retreating French army just a few miles away. Artillery ammunition is low after the heavy fighting of the last few weeks.  

Order of Battle
The French
c/o recently promoted General Ricardo Corps Commander
1st Infantry Division (French) c/o Richard
    1st Brigade: 21st (2 battalions) & D'illyne(1 battalion) (all line class) & 24th legere (1 battalion) elite class
   2nd Brigade: 4 battalions of the 5th (Italian) line class & 2 medium batteries of artillery (one was second class/Italian).
2nd Infantry Division (Polish) c/o Francis
    3rd Brigade: 33rd line regiment (3 battalions)
                        4th legere elite class (1 battalion) (french)
                        Light Cavalry
   4th Brigade:  1 battalion each from the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 8th line regiments (polish),
                       1 medium and 1 light battery of artillery.
3rd Cavalry Division c/o John
    5th Brigade: 1st and 5th Hussars both line class (french) Heavy Cavalry
    6th Brigade: 15th Lancers/1st Chasseurs a Cheval both line class (polish)
4th Cavalry Division Reserve c/o Richard but divided with John early on......
    7th Brigade: 15th and 23rd Dragoons both line class (french)
    8th Brigade: 3rd and 10th Cuirassiers both line class (french)

The Allies
c/o recently promoted General Smithy Corps Commander
    1st Brigade:    3 battalions of the 1st west Prussian line regiment/ West Prussian Grenadiers (1 battalion)/ 1 battalion each of Westphalian and Elbe Landwehr (2) conscript class/ a battalion of the1st schutzen elite class (half strength)/Elbe conscript Landwehr cavalry (Prussian), 1 light battery of artillery
    2nd Brigade: 3 battalions of the 1st Silesian line regiment/ 1 battalion Silesian Grenadiers elite class/ 2 battalions of Silesian Landwehr conscripts (Prussian)/ a battalion of the1st schutzen elite class (half strength)/ Silesian conscript Landwehr cavalry (Prussian), 1 light battery of artillery
1st Russian Division c/o Lee
    3rd Brigade: 2 battalions each of the Polotek and Elets regiments line class (Russian)
    4th Brigade: Smalonel Light Dragoons line class (Russian)/ Life Cuirassiers elite class (Swedish), 1 battery of heavy artillery and 1 battery of the royal horse artillery heavy rockets (British)
    5th Brigade: 5th Brandenburg Dragoons line class/ 1st Kurmork conscript Landwehr cavalry (Prussian)
    6th Brigade: 7th West Prussian Hussars line class/ 1st Westphalian conscript Landwehr cavalry (Prussian)
    7th Brigade: 1st Kaiser Franz Hussars line class/ 4th Vecsey Hussars line class (Austrian)
    8th Brigade: 1st Silesian Cuirassiers line class/ 4th Magdeburg Cuirassiers line class (Prussian)
    1 battery of heavy Prussian artillery.

The Action
The initial setup - The French are deployed in an L shape along the far (narrow) end of the table and along the road towards the Bridge. The Main Prussian forces are on the left of the picture while my Russians are marching towards the bridge at the bottom of the picture. 
The Prussian commanders Surjit and Smiffy review their troops while French Cavalry player John listens intently to the forces he will have to face. 
My Russians with Swiss Swedish Cavalry and a British Rocket battery must cross the bridge to engage the French.
The Prussians Corp and the Russians begin their advance towards the French positions
The Russian line infantry begin their advance across the bridge under 'cover from a Heavy Battery and the British Rocket Battery. Meanwhile the Swiss Swedish cavalry are held in reserve. With hindsight it may have been better to send the cavalry in first, but I had hoped the artillery would do more damage to the French defenders that was actually the case.
While the Prussian commanders begin to bicker amongst themselves, Johns French Cavalry begins to launch a series of devastating charges which drive the Prussians back. 
In the centre Richards infantry also launch an affective charge driving the Prussian infantry back into the woods. 
Meanwhile the Russian infantry try to force their way across the bridge but their artillery support couldn't hit a Barn Door at point blank range. My dice curse strikes again and during the whole game the only thing my Rockets managed to hit was one of my own brigades!!!! Needless to say, I swore profusely. 
Fran, the Angry Lurker, put up a stiff defence of the bridge with his Elite Legere Battalion. 
The Prussian infantry begins an assault on the French positions, and although the French withdrew off the hill it never felt as if they were driven from their positions. 
About halfway through the game. The French Cavalry have driven back the Prussians at the top left of the picture, destroying some Battalions and routing several others. The Prussian Assault on the hill (right) is proceeding slowly while the Russians (out of shot at the bottom) are still struggling to cross the bridge. 
The Prussian commanders opened a can of whoopass when they tried to attack Johns cavalry, and have paid the price. The Prussian flank has been forced back until the attackers are on the defencive. The only hope is that the Russians can get across the bridge and unbalance the French defencive position. 
The Russian infantry spent most of the game on the Bridge, unable to move the French Elite Legere Battalion blocking their path. By now the Heavy Artillery battery is out of ammunition and the Rocket Battery is out of whizz-bangs. The Russian infantry have been the only casualties of this infernal British invention during the whole game. 
The view from the other end of the Battlefield. The Prussians should have been driving the French back by now. Instead they are the ones on the defencive. 
The French line of defence (on the left in this picture) remains well ordered and strong while the Prussians are all over the place. Several Battalions have been routed and many more have been utterly destroyed. 
Fresh French Cavalry is now coming into position where they can support the earlier success of their comrades and John is almost literally rubbing his hands together with glee. 
At last a possible break. The Legere Battalion have to retreat from the foot of the bridge. Now if the Allies can just win the initiative and move first..... Nope. Almost immediately the Legere are back again and now there is no more artillery support for the Russian infantry. 
The end. The Prussians have taken a pounding from the French cavalry and have failed to break through the French defencive line. Meanwhile the Russians have failed to cross the bridge, keeping a whole Allied Division effectively out of the battle. 

When the initial setup was revealed to us we (the Allied players) thought we had the French in a terrible position. But the French quite literally grasped victory from the jaws of defeat. The French Cavalry under John were well handled - with considerable élan I might add - and just seemed unbeatable on the Prussian flank. Its hard to see how the Prussians could have prevented this, although it has to be said that if the two Prussian players had worked as a team that might have helped a little! Meanwhile my dice curse just amplified my normal martial ineptitude and I spent all of the game blasting away with my artillery to no effect. Those bloody British rockets were a nightmare and the only damaged they caused during the whole game was against my own troops!! 

Friday 25 October 2013

Painting for Charity

After an intensive period painting 6mm models for my North Africa project I am taking a short break to start work on something completely different. A few months ago I put my name forward to volunteer my services as one of many painters for the group Bloggers for Charity. For those that don't know BFC aim to raise money for two very worthy charities (Help for Heroes and Men Matter) by running a wargame at two events next year (Triples in Sheffield and Crisis in Antwerp). As well as rattling the collection tin at both events all the models featured in the game will be auctioned off afterwards to raise even more money for the chosen charities. My allocation of models for painting arrived last week and although its been a long time since I painted anything in 28mm I'm really looking forward to the challenge.

The group are recreating the Battle of La Belle-Famille which took place on July 24, 1759, during the French and Indian War (the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War) and I have been given a Regiment of French Line Infantry to paint for the game. The models were kindly donated by AW Miniatures and are rather nicely sculpted with a range of poses and a good amount of detail, which should make these fun to paint. I'm actually painting my figures in the colour of the La Sarre Regiment as shown in the photo below.

Author: Charny / CC-BY-SA-3.0 
So far all I have done is prep the figures, cleaning them and removing some very small areas of flash etc. They have been given a light coat of Matt grey undercoat and I'm ready to start applying the first basecoats. I don't want to let anyone down with the quality of painting so I'll be giving these my very best effort... wish me luck!

If you haven't already signed up to follow the Bloggers for Charity Blog then get your bum over there now and become a Follower (and if you can, donate some money or time) and give these guys your support. 

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Smoke Bombardment Template

I have been looking online for a suitable Smoke Bombardment Template that I could use in my FOW games, but largely without any luck. There are several makes of template available online for different game systems but all of them are a bit expensive and just didn't work for me. I could of course utilise the Artillery template but as the smoke remains on the table until the start of the following turn I really wanted to use a proper Smoke Bombardment template. The rules allow for several of these templates on the table at any one time and to buy multiple examples of the commercially made products could easily set me back over £40. So I decided that before I parted with my hard earned cash I would have a go at making something myself, and I'm rather pleased with what I have come up with. 

I created this template in little under an hour using PowerPoint with the express intention of printing them on thin plastic transparency paper. I want to be able to see the miniatures underneath the template so that measurements to and from teams could be made without having to move the template. I made a couple of test templates using this Transparency paper but I really wasn't happy with the result. The plastic was very thin and floppy and was far too reflective which just didn't look at all appealing. Then I found some old plastic report covers that I had stashed away. These are much thicker plastic but still remaining quite opaque. 

Fortunately the printer handled this thicker plastic quite well and the resulting templates are much more robust while still remaining clear enough to see through as can be seen in the picture below. I've printed half a dozen of these and in the process have saved myself a small fortune by doing it myself!

On the offchance that someone else might find this useful I have uploaded copies of the template as a PowerPoint file and as a PDF file onto Google Drive and made them 'Public' so they can be downloaded by following the links above.

UPDATE: I've just found that the 'report cover' plastic isn't the best to print on. The ink sticks to the plastic fine but it can be rubbed or scratched off. I've gone back to the Transparency paper and this 'fixes' the ink much better and doesn't rub off. The downside as already mentioned is that a) its clear not frosted and b) its thinner and therefore more flexible. It doesn't look as good as the origional but it does the job and will last many games. 

Monday 21 October 2013

FOW for 6mm Part 3 : Movement

Part of an ongoing series of posts on adapting the Flames of War rules for 6mm Wargaming

When I first started looking at converting the FOW rules for use with 6mm figures my initial reaction was that I would need to change every distance or range listed. However I quickly realised that things liek the ranges in particular work muhc better if you don't change them. Once I had made this decision I began thinking that it would complicate matters considerably if I kept the ranges but converted everything else and thus I decided to keep all distances given in the rules, the same for 6mm war-games. The rules give all distances in inches and centimeters but for the purposes of this review (and my games) I'll be using imperial measurement... as a friend of mine once said "Real wargamers do it in Inches!"

The principle benefit of chosing to keep the distances the same IMHO is that distances (and ranges) 'look' better at this scale. Movement and maneuver are more realistic (ranges are still a little truncated but are better than at 15mm) and the tabletop feels less crowded. In short by maintaining the distances but scaling down the models and bases creates more room on the tabletop. I'll be testing this out fully in a few weeks time when I run a large game (4000+ pts per side) on a large table (6'x8').

Movement through gaps is clearly defined in the FOW rules and for the most part is easily transferred to 6mm games. The only exception is infantry. In the rules it says infantry cannot move through gaps of less than 5mm but compared to a 6mm model the gap is huge. I'd suggest that any gap of more than 2mm is passable by infantry at this scale.

This infantry team can easily fit down the Alley 

Similarly with vehicles passing through gaps you'll have to agree with your opponent on some mutually acceptable option. I'd suggest ignoring the bases and using some common sence. If the tank or vehicles would fit through the gap then it should be able too regardless of whether the bases will fit through the gap.

This tank can easily drive past his burning college, regardless of bases sizes. 

The rules for bogging checks should also not require any change but its worth noting that with smaller scales the potential for larger games means that there might be many more models on the games table than a regular FOW game. This in turn means that players will need more tokens and markers than normal. This isn't a rule issue as such but it is something worth bearing in mind for large, multi company games at 6mm.

Another small change relates to Transports which would normally be removed from the table after dropping off passengers. On a typical 15mm scale games table there is little room for transport units to stay 'in play' but on larger 6mm games there may well be space to keep them around. If it is safe to do so (ie no enemy within LOS and in range) then I suggest moving transports back from the front and keeping them available for potential retrieval operations later in the battle. Transport units remaining on the table in this way cannot be targeted by the enemy and cannot be used offensively. The only exception to this latter stipulation would be German transport teams using the Armoured Assault rule.

There isn't much more to be said about the movement rules, which are pretty simple to start with and need little or no tinkering with just because the figure scale has changed. Next time I will look at the Command rules and discuss some of the options for scaling these for use with 6mm figures. 

Friday 18 October 2013

Desert Objective Markers

One thing I need for my upcoming 6mm FOW Battle is Objective markers. I game some thought to making special models for this but as time is limited I decided I would opt for a flag or some other simple marker. In the end I opted for a simple national symbol make in effect an objective 'token'. I downloaded these from the Internet but have run them through some editing software to reduce them to sepia tones so they don't stand out too garishly on the battlefield. 

I have stuck these on alternate sides of a Small FOW base so they can be flipped over if an objective changes hands. I have only made a few - not many are needed in any given game - and here's a picture of the finished token's. 

Double sided objective tokens

Thursday 17 October 2013

Painting Rocks!

Painting miniatures really rocks! Seriously, its a great hobby, but sometimes I do have to ask myself "what the hell am I doing?". Take my latest little project. Painting a real life rock to make it look more, well, rock like....!

A rather dodgy photo of 'Rocky' the Rock
I found this interesting shaped piece of slate in the gravel verge of my office car park and as soon as I saw it I knew I could do something 'useful' with it. So the real rock was given a base coat of English Uniform (921) and several dry brushed highlight layers of Tan Yellow (912) and Ivory (918) to bring out its inner rockiness. Now it looks like a proper rock and will make a nice bit of impassible terrain for an otherwise barren desert table. [Madness, utter madness!].

I've actually been getting quite a lot of painting done over the last couple of weeks, galvanised into action by the self imposed deadline of running a North Africa FOW game before the year is out. With a couple of marathon painting sessions (by my standards at least) I am pretty close to having everything I want for the game finished. There are a couple of small items still to do and I am waiting on some crucial scenery items from the US which will also need to be painted but the bulk of the work is done now. This is fortunate as I may have to have an evening off because I seem to have developed a painfully swollen right elbow. The wife is trying to convince me its painting related repetitive strain injury (we're calling it 'Mini-Painters Elbow'), but I think she just wants me to help with the washing up! Dream on dear...

Sunday 13 October 2013

SELWG 2013 Photo Report

There are two big shows in my convention calender and not unsuprisingly they are London based and therefore 'local' for me. Some day I will get outside the M25 and hit some of the large shows elsewhere in the UK (or maybe even the continent!) but for now shows like SELWG will have to suffice. So earlier today I drove down to Crystal Palalce for a very cold and wet start to my last big wargames show of the year where I met up with fellow Rejects, Postie, Ray and Fran. As usual I shot several hundred pictures but for a change I was home early enough to allow time to work through them and post my favourite shots today.

SELWG 2013
GLC Games - Battle of Steenkirk 1692
GLC Games - Battle of Steenkirk 1692
Society of Ancients - Battle of Zama
East Grinstead - Crossfire
Redhill Wargames - Battle of Valle Las Terreno Aldea
Redhill Wargames - Battle of Valle Las Terreno Aldea
Streatham & Tooting - This War Without an Enemy ECW
Shepway Wargames - Wagons Roll - Nobovidy 1422
Pike & Shot Society - Newbury 1644
SE London Wargames - Vikings
Loughton Strike Force - Attack on Ponyri
Loughton Strike Force - Attack on Ponyri
Deal Wargames Club - Sunset over Shumshu
Deal Wargames Club - Sunset over Shumshu
Essex Warriors - War of the Roses
Essex Warriors - War of the Roses
Crawley Wargames Club - Fraustadt 1706
Maidstone Wargames - Those Magnificent Men
Maidstone Wargames - Those Magnificent Men
North London Wargames - Save the Bridge
North London Wargames - Save the Bridge
SEEMS - Tabletop Teasers - The War of Spanish Succession
SEEMS - Tabletop Teasers - The War of Spanish Succession
SEEMS - Tabletop Teasers - The War of Spanish Succession
SEEMS - Tabletop Teasers - The War of Spanish Succession
SEEMS - Tabletop Teasers - The War of Spanish Succession
Crush the Kaiser - Battle of the Marne
Crush the Kaiser - Battle of the Marne
Crush the Kaiser - Battle of the Marne
Southend Wargames - The Battlem of Cryslers Farm 1813
Southend Wargames - The Battlem of Cryslers Farm 1813
Newbury & Reading - Warlords of the 15th century
Newbury & Reading - Warlords of the 15th century
Scarab Miniatures - War & Conquest
Scarab Miniatures - War & Conquest
My favorite game of the show was the big Roman Battle of Thapsus by Simon Miller (aka BigRedBat). For me a good demo or participation game at a show should be as much about 'spectacle' as anything else, and this game had it by the bucket load. 

Simon Miller (aka BigRedBat) - Battle of Thapsus
Simon Miller - Battle of Thapsus
Simon Miller - Battle of Thapsus
Simon Miller  - Battle of Thapsus
Simon Miller - Battle of Thapsus
Simon Miller - Battle of Thapsus

The terrible weather seemed to put off gamers from the usual pre opening queue and the show was noticeably quite for the first hour or so. But it soon picked up and by mid-day I was struggling to get near to some of the trade stands. I don't know what sort of day the traders had but I certainly spent more than expected. I bought more magnetic sheets and some tape from Magnetic Displays and I also picked up quite a bit of terrain from S&A Scenics. I also topped up on more paints and spray varnish to replenish my stocks at home. And unknown to her, my lovely wife bought me Henry Hyde's Wargames Conpendium for Christmas! So all in all not a bad bundle of loot from my day at Crystal Palace.