Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Monday, 25 July 2016

Joy of Six Assault on Hougoumont.

Can't believe it's over a week since Joy of Six and I've had little time or inclination to post anything, I hate hot weather!

Our experience this year was far more relaxed, we knew exactly where we were going, unloaded the van in two minutes whilst chatting with Igor and his face fuzz. Once inside we quickly set up the board, had a chat with Pete from Baccus and Mike from Leven Miniatures, yes it was that relaxed. Set up of the units was very straightforward and we actually started the first turn before the official opening time. The Boy was the attacking French whilst Lee defended. Me I was just eye candy ;-)

The view from behind the French line, I was really glad of having the ammo wagon bases, without them we would have had rather a large area of empty table. The game started with two Divisions on the table with a third due to come on once the first two divisions had made their attack.

Quite a few onlookers recognised the battle, some from the previous years display and others due to the excellent Hougoumont model from Leven Miniatures. Indeed one of these sets was bought on the back of seeing our game which is always a nice touch.

The Allied view, most of Lee's troops are in reserve and can't be moved forward until certain stages in the battle due to events off set as it were. The Boy in turn can only activate a single Division at a time to keep within the historical nature of the battle. What Lee has that was quite an advantage was a lot of skirmisher bases that only have a attack strength of one but to be removed from play need to take two casualties. A single casualty is exchanged for a retreat instead.

The Boy had four skirmish bases in his first division, these were heavily outnumbered by Lee but were having the better of the firefight. Lee found he was drawn into a pitched battle with these four bases rather than trying to screen them and use the rest of his skirmishers to attack the formed battalions. 

This allowed The Boy to get his first attack into Hougoumont almost at full strength. However that was to change once they assaulted the walls. The -2 for attacking a built up area is always tough to get by but with the skirmisher rule the typical result was that the attack unit lost a strength point whilst the defender is forced to retreat to be replaced by another unit before the French could take advantage of the forced retreat of the first opponent.

Normally we allow the winning unit to follow up on a retreat but to make Hougoumont a tougher nut to crack we did not allow the follow up. This really helped the defender, though it was still possible for the attacker to take advantage of the gap if they got to activate the formation again before the defender got to move.

The attacking units strength quickly dropped from four to two resulting in their inability to remain on the attack against the chateau. The Boy had enough about him to switch these half spent units to attack the skirmishers outside the defences which helped keep the still full strength battalions in good enough order to launch further attacks.

 At this point Lee also switched his tactics and started to try and get at the fresh battalions and where he could not, to pick on the low strength battalions rather than the skirmishers. Casualties started to rise for both sides as Lee was now taking two casualties on some of the skirmishers surrounding Hougoumont whilst The Boy was forced to retreat his strength one battalions though a couple of these suffered a further strength loss and were removed.

The Boy did clear the gardens and then was brought under fire from a Guard Battalion. These were unlucky with their rolls (Lee suffered some really bad dice at times) and then The Boy getting a couple of back to back turns shot this battalion to ribbons. Guard ribbon's though still have teeth and quickly put the French  battalion to flight.

Even with the gardens taken the French could not force the walls and both battalions in the gardens are forced to fall back. The second  assault had failed.

The Boy got his artillery deployed and removed a allied skirmisher from the game but was quickly forced to retreat by other skirmishers who in turn savaged more of the French weakened battalions.

The yellow dice show units that are forced to retreat, these normally continue to retreat until they are off board but for this game we retreated them to the other side of the woods.

The first division was now spent, one point for every battalion with a yellow die and two points for any removed. Once equal to the number of battalions at the start the formation can not advance, once above and they have to retreat from the field. We have found that this rule rewards removing mauled units from the front line and rewards the use of reserves.

The Boy starts his second Division forward whilst Lee repositions his skirmishers to handle the new threat. The first division was light infantry and had the skirmishers, two useful advantages. These had neither and now would face a tougher approach.

Rather than struggle through the woods The Boy advanced to the opposite flank and tried his luck their. A mix of skirmish fire and artillery caused a number of casualties on his way in but overall he was lucky not to have suffered more.

The third Division deployed on the opposite side of Hougoumont but more for show as at this point they are unable to attack. In our original playtesting with a second board their advance to this point cost them quite a few casualties from guns across the valley.

The British Guard Battalion has moved to defend the front of the gardens but finally the French get into the chateau, though at great cost to their strength.

 Now allied reserves are fully released. The Boy has little left from the second division and would not be able to hold out long without further reinforcement from the third division. By this point is was about 3.30 pm and rather than continue we sat and chilled chatting with other gamers. 

I am happy to declare the game was a success, I was able to chat a lot with onlookers whilst Lee and The Boy either continued to make moves or also talk with interested parties. As such you could see the battle unfolding whilst being able to explain the ideas behind the rules and the mechanics. Five gamers supplied me their email address for a set of the rules to be sent. If anyone wants them just use the blogger contact button on the right and I can send you them.

The show had more games, possibly more traders and definitely a higher attendance than last year to continue the year on year increase the show has maintained since it's original incantation. I would say it dropped off a bit late in the afternoon, but still remained quite busy. 

Not many 6mm Sceptics seem to have been in attendance (they got in free and if converted got show discounts). The show remains then almost wholly 6mm supported. The bring and buy seemed not to have done well, possibly as a fair number (me included) brought anything but 6mm to sell. Other than that the traders seemed to be busy all day.

I know Leven had a good day and Baccus had a lot of spaces on their stand. I also saw a good number of punters crowding the Commission Miniatures stand which is good as they really do a great alternative to metal.

The show then was an even greater success than last year and has cemented the venue as the one to use. This year has seen the use of more side rooms so adding to the shows footprint.

My only regret was not getting to see the show in all it's glory. When I left the game I felt a little guilty so most times it was just a nip. Next year I am hoping to go just as a visitor though Lee is pushing for a big ACW game. He has the figures all sorted, the buildings to paint, the battle, terrain and rules to sort so possibly, possibly I can get my year off. However, plans and possibles for games for the following three years are well underway.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Forged In Battle Pre-Release Review

I was recently contacted by Forged In Battle with the offer to review their products. A few emails later and with both parties happy I have been sent a pack of 1st Century Roman Auxiliary Heavy Cavalry. These have an Autumn release schedule and are part of their hugely successful kickstarter. This is the second kickstarter Forged In Battle have done for their excellent Ancients range War & Empire just follow the link to see just how wide a range of figures they already do.


The pack comes with five different horse poses, thee command figures and a mix of three different spear armed riders. My pack had a eleven of these figures so I could cut back on the command if I wished but I don't know if this is standard practice.

I have tried taking photo's of the figures but most shots don't show the detail well enough for me to post them here. Instead I will clean them up and give them a prime and ink wash to show off the detail better. That's for another post. 

So pending that let me describe what I found. All the figures are really well cast with minimal flash and mould lines. I have had a quick go at cleaning up one horse and the flash looks to come off without too much effort. So prep time will be nice and short.

I managed to stand up the five horse poses without needing to clean the bit of flash off the underside of the base. This is a major upgrade on such as Essex Miniatures who have the long thin base that drives me nuts.

The detail is nice and crisp and I really liked that one horse has a fringed blanket, the rest being square edged. This is obviously for the commander, a nice touch. As mentioned recently separate horse to rider is not my favourite method, these are so supplied. The saving points is that it's just the rider and not the saddle cloth and all the figures fitted well to all the different horses. As such I have no issue with being a two part figure. 

The command figures all wear cloaks that will allow for a nice splash of extra colour whilst the rest will have their mail showing. Again the detail shows through well but it's not so bold as to force those who wish to paint less detail into painting all shown on the figure.

Long term followers are aware that I don't tend to review figures before I have painted them as I think you can really only give full justice to figures by doing so. However Forged In Battle prefer for pre-release figures not to be shown as painted by other than their own painters. Hopefully I will get a few images of the finished figures sent on to me before release and I will post those here. In the meantime I will paint these up as a unit and once available will post the picks here.

Lee is actually building this army up so the painted unit will end up in his collection and will see action against my armies so you will get the opportunity to see them again I am sure.

I really wanted to take advantage of their first kickstarter that was massive and very successful but I was already committed to two other ones so missed out big time. The latest also was a case of the wrong time and I am now kicking myself for not being in a position to back it. I have been sent three more images set to be released in the Autumn.

Again another Roman heavy cavalry pack , being sold in packs of 12 works really well for main rule sets. War & Empire will be releasing their own rule set so I assume this is the unit size for those too. Great news for those of us who have already rebased figures a number of times.

The Autumn releases are not all Roman but include some more of Romes rivals. The kickstarter allowed Forged in Battle to bring to production a host of new nations. Forged in Battle have gone from zero to major player in Ancients in what seems overnight. I have looked at some of their original Ancients when first released and was impressed by the range and quality.

I built a camp for my armies to use with Fields of Glory that has become redundant in Hail Caesar, these can make such a camp or add a bit of clutter to the table.

Well I am really looking forward to getting the first unit painted up, just to be able to see how good they can look. It nothing else it will get Lee itching to corner another miniature market. With thirty armies to pick up he might take awhile to do it :-)

Friday, 15 July 2016

Joy of Six - Final Prep

With Joy of Six just two days away I finally finish the last miniatures for our demo game The Storming of Hougoumont. Long term followers may be scratching their collective heads at this point since this time last year we managed to do a display game of the whole of Waterloo without missing a single battalion. So what gives? Well mostly I am just adding furniture with four French caissons as the board looked a little empty when we set up the troops for the game so I thought it would fill in the empty area a bit. 

However one battalion that was on the field as a full unit has been split into four skirmish bases for a more historical use. Lee had some spare voltigeurs so all I needed to do was base them up.

These are Adler and typical of this supplier with very nice sculpts with loads of animation. The only issue is that the larger of the caissons are a little to big to go on the 60x30 bases so need to be put on a 60x60 base across the diagonal.

I wanted to take advantage of the larger base so made an effort to tell a story. My favourite is dashing through a gap in a hedge with one of the excellent Leven Miniatures trees built into the hedge.

The other three are less flamboyant but with the fantastic sculpting look like they are racing towards the guns with much needed replenishment.

These will be placed behind the advancing French as The Boy tries to take Hougoumont by storm.

In this game they have no physical use beyond eye candy but in future games could be part of victory conditions. Lee and I have discussed the possibility of placing caissons behind foot artillery like we do limbers for horse artillery. Not sure if this will happen as the time taken and cost of each one of these for a battery of guns would be rather expensive and time consuming. It's a possible winter project for the future though I think I would mix in the odd four horse limber or wrecked caisson.

These are the four bases of voltigeurs that will do battle to take the orchards off the defenders. The figures are Baccus and are usually seen at the front of our 60x60 battalion bases. We have discussed about how to represent French (and other) skirmishers within our rules and the simple adding of a base of figures at the cost of one strength has seemed to be the best solution. As such I need to paint up at least twenty bases mixed between ligne and legere for future use. A trip to the Baccus stand then I guess.

I will have to probably do a few for the Prussians as well but not as many as the French seem to have always had far more skirmishers out front than the rest of the nations.

Last year was at a new venue that has plenty of room and the big games can be seen from above for a real treat. We benefited from this last year and I am keen to see the big games from the same angle this time round. It's going to be fun putting on a much smaller game this year. No game planned for next year, though if things go well we should be back with another large game in 2018, ok maybe 2019? So I hope to see some of you on Sunday, more details here

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

First SYW Blackpowder Tilt

As this is the first game I guess I need to give a warning, pictures of unpainted figures on the games table are shamelessly displayed below.

I have played Black Powder over at Kev's whilst Lee has no experience giving me a marked advantage. The twin aims were to see if Lee liked the rules and give us both extra incentive to get more figures painted up.

Lee has nine battalions of infantry, two guns, three dragoons and one hussar regiment. I have seven battalions of infantry and one of grenadiers, two dragoons, one cuirassier and one hussar regiment. We did not bother with national characteristics at this point. I think when we do Lee will probably have to have an extra battalion or two as the Prussians can be a tough opponent.

Lee had his infantry in three battalion brigades even though this would make them susceptible to breaking whilst my infantry were in just two brigades. Both our cavalry were in just the one brigade.

I tried charging Lee's cavalry but came up just short, Lee was then to charge me so I simply counter charged.

Lee failed to get his hussars to charge home giving me one more support which in BP is a reasonable advantage.

Not a lot of manoeuvre for the infantry as we just moved into a firing position and started to blast away. Future games we will have to consider making better use of movement but it was after all our first time out.

Our flank away from the cavalry was protected by a woods which did have a path through but neither of us decided to go for that option.

The first cavalry melee went my way, rather than following up I wanted to take advantage of a fresh charge and make use of my supports. Note Lee has angled one infantry battalion to cover my cavalry's flank.


I re-position my cavalry so to be able to charge his infantry's open flank which I expected to fall back. My fire failed to cause casualties but I did disorder the infantry.

Other Austrian units did not do so well with one battalion becoming shaken, I can now start to consider an attack on his open flank.

Lee lost a battalion in the middle but has his second line to bridge the gap. I was also to loose a battalion to a poor roll but also had my reserves to call upon.

My hussars were charged by Lee's and even though already taken casualties the dice really favoured me and when he retired I followed up and finished them up. This allowed my to get behind his flank. Here was were the Marauder rule kicked in. Even though they were far away from my command they were able to get commands without penalty.

Shaken, disordered and one excess casualty meant this Prussian Battalion was on his way back to the box. Lee was in no shape to take advantage of this though so another gap gets plugged in my line.

Lee had managed to keep saving on casualty rolls but suffered a rash of disorders on my rolling of sixes. Eventually though he could not keep up with the saves and more battalions became shaken. His three unit brigades started to look really fragile as I continued to cause units to become shaken.

My cavalry had taken a fair bit of punishment but one regiment of dragoons was still in good order and with the breaking of the last Austrian cavalry regiment the shaken remains were forced to retreat off the table. I though was having a lot of trouble trying to get the cavalry out of being shaken which allowed Lee to drop back his flanking infantry at an angle to the one good order dragon I had to hand.

I started to turn his flank with my infantry and it was obvious Lee would be forced to fall back or be rolled up. So a good first game that we both enjoyed. I benefited from a better understanding of the rules and Lee trying to do things to check the rules rather than what he may have wished to do in a real game.

Whilst Lee is not yet fully sold to the rules he certainly wants to have a few more goes at them and has his interest in our 15mm Ancients getting an outing via Hail Caesar. It looks to also have got Lee fired up for some more painting so hopefully next time we will have a little less bare metal to be going at.

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Boy goes Roman

My wife mentioned the other day that our son had the opportunity to own a Roman shield that the school was throwing away, would it be OK? Further discussion included I could hang it on his wall or door. To be honest I was all up for it from the start, anything that promotes his interest in history, especially military gets my vote.

Fast forward 24 hours and I get home to this! A full size replica with a brass boss, the rear and edge covered in faux leather with a handle built into the area behind the boss.

The school had moved to new buildings and whilst it was moved across it was then tossed in the skip as it was no longer used. Not sure about mounting on his door but it was well worth saving and The Boy is still jazzed about it.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Prussian SYW Command

Whatever rules we finally settle on (yet to play a single game) we need command stands and as most rules have similar requirements I thought it safe to base up a few commanders.

First up some from the Lancashire Games Prussian command pack with both a niggle and a thumbs up. The niggle is that the only Prussian Generals, ADC's etc is this pack of 7 models that includes an unmounted horse. The issue being that as only two of the figures are mounted you can't just buy a few packs and make up your command bases. I either have to buy from the other nations or buy from other suppliers. Being as I already have bought Timecasts Old Glory Prussian command it's a mute point for me.

However all is forgiven as the quality and character make them a must have for my tabletop. They tend to be a bit on the slim side when compared with the rest of the range but that's not a big issue. I love the little diorama of having a messengers horse held whilst he offers Fredrick a rolled up dispatch.

This will make a nice centre piece for my army, I have used all but the Hussar from the set. He was painfully thin and was just one figure too many for how I planned the bases but he may get on a future base.

But this one steals the show for me. I will be using this one for an infantry brigade. The commander is sat on a tree stump whilst a subordinate pays his respects, possibly before delivering an order from Fredrick to get off his backside and get his brigade forward.

Not the best pictures and I have struggled all week to try and get something worth showing as the weather has been rain or bright sunshine.

My last base is populated by Old Glory figures mentioned above. I have already used a few as battalion commanders so knew they painted up well. These I like as a brigade command, again I like these for infantry though for tonight's game them may have to command my cavalry.

I am not a fan of the rider and saddle etc. as one cast with the horse as a second that Old Glory sculpt them in but others feel differently so it's just a matter of taste.

So three command stands all painted and ready for their first game. Hopefully the next game will see at least another one or two bases painted of command and possibly yet more troops. I have prepped my first heavy cavalry and hope to get them started any day. Still need to have a crack at grenadiers but it's fair to say the army is starting to take shape. OK tonight will see too many bare lead figures on bare bases but that should just get me to paint up more ready for the next bash. I still have a big bag of untouched infantry and guns to keep me busy so expect rather more in the coming months.