Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Books and Yet More Books

I went to Cromford (near Matlock Bath) recently with Cath for a walk and a bite to eat. Whilst there we often call at Scarthin Books, a lovely mix of new and old books and pre-Amazon was my main source for second hand military history books. These days I come out more often empty handed than with anything but not on the last visit.

I have seen Redcoat a number of times but not picked it up but I fancy something a little more general to have a go at at some point. It's a shame it does not seem to bother going back to the times when the redcoat was first worn as a national uniform but I am happy to give it a fair go.

Bonaparte in Egypt was bought as I really have little knowledge of the campaign and thought it would be good to know something so it will join the ranks of books yet to read. Something I do not dare to do a list of.

I did not stop with Scarthin, having seen Persian Fire down at The Works and slowly working my way through The Heritage of Persia I thought this might be a nice follow on to that. Talking of which I am finding it a bit heavy going having just finished another book written is a similar style. That's not to say I am not enjoying it though the Sharpe books keep getting in the way.

I have also recently bought another two Kindle books so I think it's safe to say my purchases are outstripping my reading at the moment. Really need to improve on that LOL

Monday, 28 September 2015

Commands & Colors Napoleonic's - A Broad View

I got to play a couple of games of Commands & Colors Napoleonic's with Lee a couple of weeks ago, more on that in a following post though. Today's post is about the system and my thoughts on the game since starting to collect the sets just after Christmas.

It's not an inexpensive game to get into, though much cheaper than ASL tends to be. Fortunately the £50+ price tag is reserved for the core module that supplies not only the board and cards but also the largest stack of wooden blocks you will get in any of the modules. Indeed as each expansion has been designed to be playable with just the core set needed you end up with rather a lot of French line infantry and so many terrain tiles you won't struggle to find that extra town hex.

The expansions actually work out (in my mind) quite a bit better value than the core set often in the £30-40 bracket, even the newly released Prussian module. There is now four expansions available supplying the Spanish, Russians (recently reprinted), Austrians and the just mentioned Prussians. A fifth expansion is due out soon that breaks tradition and rather than introducing a new nation brings a few new troop types such as British Rocket Troops and the biggest change a new deck of cards that are set to change gameplay quite a bit. Indeed I will wait for news of the new mod before making a move on it as it could be one step too far but equally possible a big step forward. A nice touch is that all the previously released scenarios will have details for how to incorporate the cards into revised versions of the scenarios. What possibly makes it most worth buying though is the extra scenarios that come with the expansion.

The twin facts that I am talking about this fifth expansion and have bought the four already available give you a clue that I think the games worth buying. One major factor is that The Boy really likes to play the game and we have clocked up a fairly impressive tally of games played. Currently the Austrians are his favourite nation though he is experimenting with the Russians since I bought the re-released module. Lee also rather likes the Russians with us getting two games in recently. Indeed he liked the system enough to buy the Ancients franchise the week after our games.

So I have plenty of reason to buy the game but how does it stack up as a Napoleonic game? Well if your looking for depth and realism then you need to look elsewhere, somewhere far far away from planet C&C N. Regardless of that it's not only a fun game it does feel like Napoleonic's, the strength or weakness of the game (based on your angle of thought) is the card driven movement and combat. The idea that you rely on getting cards to allow you to move in the left, centre or right areas of the board can be a real turn off. I have owned and enjoyed Battle Cry and played Memoir 44 show I am used to the system and can take enjoyment from it. For me it's just part of the game and it's manageable to a point. However the rules get the theme across through well written wrinkles that set the various nations apart such as the British superior standing fire, the French infantry's powerful attacks and the Russian staunchness under fire. Austrian infantry units are not only larger than other nations but can form a type of square that has advantages over a typical square. The Spanish seem more of the odd ones out with a special rule that brings the partisans into play (not represented by units) that effect the tactical situation on the board but represent events prior to the battle. This gives them a flavour of their own but not quite fitting with the other nations. The Prussians have the ability to ignore a set amount of retreats, something that can be very useful.

The components are of high quality, the special cards add more than just move x units to your options and it's play is fast and interactive. The rule that forces you to loose one of your command cards for each unit in square is a really good wrinkle that really adds to the game. Do you risk the unit to the cavalry charge or do you risk one of your killer cards being taken at random from your hand until the unit can come out of square? All the flavour rules are not cumbersome or add too much complexity allowing players to move between modules without needing to read up lots of fluff. Indeed I think the rules are so well written that it would be hard to improve without losing some of it's playability. It strikes the right balance between historical feel and a nights fun gaming. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Friday Quiz 14

Another five questions as it's Friday already.

1. What was the family connection between Nero and his predecessor Emperor Claudius?

2. How many times did Lord Uxbridge have a horse shot from under him during the battle of Waterloo?

3. How long did the shortest known war in history last?

4. What was the youngest recorded age of a British Soldier in WWI?

5. Which country has the lowest military spending per head of population currently?

I don't expect anyone to get all the questions right this week as it's got a few tough ones but the answers are rather interesting.

And the answers are:-

1. Emperor Claudius was his adopted father and grand uncle.

2. There is some confusion to the exact number but eight to nine is the most quoted.

3. Britain and Zanzibar in 1896 with Zanzibar surrendering after 38 minutes.

4. Sidney Lewis was just 12 when he signed up, just shows how immoral the recruiting really was.

5. Iceland has no military or military spending.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Building of the Week - Leven Monastery

With all the talk (and an actual game) involving the Peninsular I have been motivated to paint a few more buildings for this area. This week I present CHU10 Mediterranean Monastery costing £4.50 One of the larger buildings that Leven produce.

 I went with a fairly basic finish using off white to cut back on the possible glare. This building comes with standard tiles rather than the terracotta style most of the other Iberian buildings come with. Having looked at a fair few images for inspiration I am glad to say this is not unusual with these buildings.

There is not a wealth of detail that you tend to get with Leven though it does have a few interesting features such as the fascia in the top image and this domed section near the base of the tower.

The tower is supposed to be mostly open which is hard to carry off with so much area that you can really only paint out black. On the table when in the background it does blend in batter than when it's the focal point of the picture.

The tower comes as a loose section that you fix on, this allows you to shorten the tower by a level or even replace with a scratch built tower if your skills stretch to that.

Scale wise it looks a little small to me, I have used a Leven three story house as a reference point. To do it real justice it would need to be quite a bit larger so I can see why Mike is happy to keep it scaled down a little, at least this way it does not take over the table when you game with it. Lee and myself have a number of scenarios we will be able to get use out of it so keep an eye out for it.

Waterloo British by Baccus

In less than two weeks some friends will be at Donnington Park for the Derby Wargames Show and will be putting on a rather large Waterloo game. Fortunately I finished these figures a few weeks ago but did not get round to posting the results. I am just finishing off a few more rifle stands and command so will have these with Steve by this weekend, a whole week to spare.

First up the 95th Rifles, as mentioned above I have another three companies to base up as under the rules these will be used with they can break down to six skirmish bases. I think the British Napoleonic's are some of the nicer sculpts from Baccus and the Rifles are right up there.

When I took the pic's we were not having the best weather so apologies for the rather drab results. These were quite easy to paint though basing them in just two ranks was more of a challenge as they have four poses for the riflemen and two command figures.

I also had three Highland Battalions to paint up, this is the first Battalion of the 79th Infantry Regiment, Cameron Highlanders. Painting kilts in 6mm was certainly a new challenge and I certainly went for an abstract look though it turned out OK in the end.

The next Battalion was the 42nd Infantry Regiment, Royal Highland - Black Watch again 1st Battalion. All three Battalions have one skirmish base.

The bonnets were also a bit of a challenge and I skipped the chequered tops of their socks as a step too far. I actually had been fearing painting them but ended up enjoying the process.

Last but no means least is the 1st Battalion of the 92nd Infantry Regiment, the Gordon Highlanders. I would recommend to anyone put off painting up Highlander Battalions to have a go, in 6mm you can go to town or step back a few levels and in both cases still put together striking units, and lets face it they are some of the most elite troops you can field in a British army.

Something I had forgotten about the rules these were painted for was that skirmishers can be deployed from the parent battalion so one of the last jobs I needed to do was paint up a bunch of skirmish bases for all the other battalions I had already painted. Ended up being a bit of a production line with 24 bases painted up. 

After checking with Matt (a constant help with this project) I painted them all up as generic British rather than specific to the battalions as that is how the rest of the group field their skirmishers.

So with this batch the project almost comes to an end. Just twelve rifle figures and nine command figures were needed to represent the whole of the reserve corp and they are on the desk with the basing texture drying ready for the last few stages before I take them over to Steve.

Just one last big 6mm commission for Lee to finish before I just concentrate on my own figures for a month or two.

Monday, 21 September 2015

A Bit of the Peninsular War AAR

After the fairly successful mini game using the Commands & Colors Napoleonic combat system we thought we would go a bit larger. Well about twice as large and with a fairly historical orbat as well. I wanted to try out the rules in relation to the British, after all the first major test will be the Waterloo game. The result was all we could have wanted, a good interesting game played out over about three hours.

My French (on the left) need to punch through the Allied forces on the right. If I succeed then the allies will be forced to fall back and high tail back to Portugal. However I am significantly weaker on quantity but some of the troops I am facing are less than stellar so I plan to punch hard in one place and try for a quick win.

For my plan to have the greatest success I really need Lee to be passive. Bad news then that he brings his cavalry around and starts to try and flank me with his troops on his extreme left flank. The only good news for me in this is that they are the furthest away from me rather vulnerable right flank.

I face a strong looking body of troops on my left flank atop a hill but these are Spanish and offer me the best chance of getting behind the allied line.

Typical to our rules, both of us have no issues in the first few turns of moving the troops we want to early on. The centre was happy to just exchange artillery fire with both sides taking a few casualties. Only once both sides are starting to get to close quarters do we find ourselves wishing for just one more move or desperate to get the first move in. Typically this battle would have a few moments where we would have contemplated selling our own mothers for that next activation roll!

Lee starts to advance yet more troops towards the centre. I really need to get going on my left. Meanwhile my infantry simply sit and await his attacks on my right flank, though the cavalry reposition to act as a deterrent.

In cavalry I have the advantage with a regiment of Dragoons and one of Cuirassiers with another of Hussars facing light cavalry of the British. My cavalry have the advantage of weight and numbers but I play it safe keeping behind my guns.

The woods supply me a secure flank, unless Lee plans to take a wide detour. I turn my horse artillery onto his cavalry forcing one regiment to retreat leaving another a little exposed.

The clash on my left saw may French infantry take advantage of their melee bonus as they crashed into the Spanish after a short fire fight and the results were not totally one sided as some of my original units were cut up enough that they would take a fair few turns before they were good to go.However having reserves I was able to bring up yet more troops and break the first line. However I was not the only one with reserves and Lee was able to put a second line in place whilst his very depleted troops tried to rally behind them.

Lee did have a couple more regiments of cavalry that were in the centre and he released these to slow down a second probe I was sending out. The original idea was for them to stop Lee reinforcing the infantry battle that I was winning. It's drawing the cavalry into the fight should have been a big plus for me but they were doing an excellent job of forcing me into square and try as I might I seemed unable to do much damage to him. Fortunately as he had just the two regiments his damage was reasonably limited whilst his guns were busy elsewhere and his infantry remained on the hill or in the village.

Lee's attack on my right flank was starting to stall a little as the focus of the battle was across the other flank, that did not stop the cannons a roaring but the advance was at the pace of the infantry.

My guns took a bit of a pounding but remained in place until masked by my cavalry at which point they started to rally back their strength.

The Spanish cavalry were becoming a real pain as my advance stalled near the village. On the bright side it was not without loss as they started to be worn down. A mix of artillery and muskets was taking a toll. If at this point Lee had moved them behind his infantry for a turn or two of rest they would probably been a real problem later. However his need to keep me in square meant he had to keep them charging over the plains.  Meanwhile I was trying to get ready for my second attack on the Spanish flank force.

The centre was dominated by the artillery, I had three batteries able to fire into the centre and this was keeping Lee at bay whilst I tried to fight off the cavalry and then wear down his infantry.

Lee tried charging my infantry on my left, almost breaking a square (it was to rout after more damage from Lee's artillery. However this would be the British high water mark.

One charge was to tip the balance, already down one cavalry regiment the second took heavy losses and was set to be lost either to artillery or a heavy cavalry charge in the flank.

However Lee was advancing his infantry behind the back and forth cavalry scrap. By this point Lee was wishing he had used the division he now masked as he had lost a fair bit of time marching to the sound of guns and not actually fighting. My right flank remained solidly anchored on the woods.

I finally got going again on my left flank. With so much going on from the rest of the field and the need to regain strength I was slow getting this attack going. Of course Lee had been rallying his spent infantry as well. My advantage was that I had more units that survived the original attack though some of these were quite fragile and were slow to come back to strength. However my second attack on the hill was meeting with some success.

Lee was now getting worried about his flank and started to come down off the hill to try and support his now worn out cavalry in an attempt to stall my attack to the left of the village.

Some good artillery work sent one battalion back a couple of moves distance fracturing his attack. I had bought myself a little more time to crack the Spanish nut.

With the British cavalry still in the action and some of the best British infantry marching in support I needed to bring his cavalry to battle and I could not do that on the defensive so this was the last turn my cavalry would be sitting back. Of course that meant coming out to fight and that meant moving the focus away from elsewhere or winning more activations than Lee.

Neither of us had enough command opportunities to do all we needed at this point. For a turn I would get to move all my formations but then loose the initiative as Lee took command. For Lee this meant a powerful brigade got to fire off the odd barrage whilst his Spanish were in the thick of it and I could not reset my troops for a coming attack or pause at the moment I needed to break those Spanish.

I finally saw off the British cavalry and then started to turn my attention on the British infantry. This would be bad news for Lee's planned sweep into my right flank but whilst this was certainly helping stabilise my right it was doing nothing to help bring the battle to a conclusion in my favour.

However the Spanish cavalry were finally worn down, one regiment leaving the battle whilst the other sheltered behind there infantry, this freed all my infantry and I shook two battalions out of square and prepared for the attack on the village that should free my leftmost infantry safe to attack the final defensive line between me and victory. Did Lee has his own plan to stop this?

The British in the centre started an advance across their frontage and were looking to break into what was a fairly weak and stretched part of my line as most of my infantry had drifted further to the left.

However my three regiments of cavalry were causing mayhem on my right. The planned strike into this flank was stalled with the loss of Lee's cavalry and my cavalry were forcing battalion after battalion into square. Lee's only comfort was that it was eroding my strength though not enough to risk a full powered charge.

The red dice show units in square, they can only come out of square when enemy cavalry are out of charge reach or site (by cover or friendly unit).

I won the bloody fight for the Spanish ridge but was further weakened. Lee now had just three battalions of worn Spanish facing my four stronger battalions. He could and would reinforce with troops from the village but that only would make the job of attacking the village that much easier.

I lost one of my cavalry regiments and whilst the British division was also quite bruised. However Lee did have one fresh Brigade in reserve whilst all my brigades had seen some action with two close to being broken. I had fought off Lee's first attack on my hill but as my cavalry weakened my ability to hold him back was coming into question.

I withdrew one regiment of cavalry behind the woods in the hope of rallying troopers back to the colours but it was slow going. Meanwhile I fell back away from the woods back onto my centre. Lee had his fresh troops on the way and would soon be shaking his squares back into line. I was running out of time.

I finally have the hill on the left flank, Lee dropped back his shaken Spanish battalions whilst bringing his worn out last Spanish cavalry regiment to that side of the hill. He was getting no luck with the dice regards rallying back their strength and I would not again form square if they charged. Finally the nut was cracking.

Whilst Lee had his battalions shoulder to shoulder mine were starting to look ragged. Lee was also starting to be able to consider staying in line as my cavalry threatened to charge. The best I could hope for now was time to spread out along the hill line and hold off Lee's fresh troops but even if I did I was now down to a rather ragged force in his flank. One brigade had started to retreat and my best option would be to bring more troops back to the line to stop Lee's advance.

Whilst we could have gone on for a couple more turns both armies were so close to being forced from the field we agreed neither would or could press the attack without risking loosing their army. So Wellington was not forced back to Portugal and another French army fell back on it's supply lines.

As mentioned at the start it was a great game, full of excitement and certainly had that Napoleonic feel. Now I just need to break his damned lines!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Friday Quiz 14

Image result for 100 years war images

Another week is drawing to an end, they seem to be flashing past!

1. Name the Tudor Ship that hardly made it out of the harbour before sinking?

2. How many years was the Hundred Years War?

3. What year was the Peninsular war battle of Salamancia?

4. Sometimes described as the world's first machine gun, the Puckle Gun, invented in 1718 by London Lawyer James Puckle had what additional novel feature?

5. What sex related reward was offered by the CIA to Afghan tribal leaders for information on al-Qaida and the Taliban?

OK a few different ones this time, hope you have fun with them

1. Mary Rose and my apologies as I thought she had only just been made and not as was the fact a seasoned veteran.

2. 116 years, not such a catchy name I suppose.

3. 22nd July 1812, by this time Napoleon was on his way to his greatest disaster.

4. It's ability to fire round or square bullets. Round for good but  slightly adrift Christians and square for the rest so as to cause greater wounds and pain and we call them heathens?

5. That little blue pill, Viagra, you really could not make this stuff up LOL