Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Hougoumont Assault Playtest

Lee has two of the four boards complete allowing us to playtest the assault on Hougoumont. It is critical we get this right. Too weak and I blast my way through, too strong and I just sit away from it trying to get in through the odd howitzer shot. We were also trying out subbing a converted Commands & Colors combat system for our combat tables so a perfect opportunity for everything to go wrong.

Well no matter what else happens we at least have a great looking table. Note it still needs the varnish adding to protect the surface but it's close to how it will look when finished. Lee as soon as he saw my mass of infantry started to worry about balance. It was hard not to agree he has sod and all defending the place.

It the first picture you get to see my troops in the distance, here you get a better idea. I have yet to do the work on the formal gardens so we used some MDF walls for this play through. The woods are also not yet finished so the add on's have some way to go before being finished.

I have three divisions all lined up ready to assault. Scenario rules only allow me to activate the two reserve divisions once the preceding division has suffered a certain amount of casualties and then the final third division and and when the second has stalled. Of course once the second division is on it's way in nothing is stopping me trying again with the first division IF I have rallied enough battalions back in to a fit state to support.

Not in the battle but I wanted to show off Lee's sandpit, I had wondered how he would represent it and I was VERY impressed, looking forward to owning that in the game  ;-)

Can you see Hougoumont? It's just behind the trees. This is the view from the third division I would potentially have to use against Hougoumont. Their journey would take them across the British gun line, I don't hold out much hope for their good order when they finally get to the target.

A View from Lee's side of the battlefield. Just out of view to the right is my main attack force which will go in first. Lee is outnumbered by more than three to one, can anyone say cakewalk? It's a great view to show off what Lee has worked his magic on, shame we don't yet have the full gardens ready to add to his great work.

In the distance is Hougoumont, here is just the flank of my 12 battalion strong division with the light infantry leading the way.

Lee was to send some of the light companies forward to contest the woods before falling back to defend Hougoumont itself, it looked to be a hot fight.

We did not put on all the reserves as they were not going to be used. For example I had two cavalry corps behind my infantry missing whilst in the picture above Lee's scanty reserves for throwing into Hougoumont are all there!!! Talk about thin red line.

The blue markers show me disordered as I move through the woods, I take my first casualties but start to push a lone battalion back towards Hougoumont. Whilst in the woods I am unable to charge the defenders though my numbers look to be enough to push them out of the woods without the need for cold steel. Still first blood to Lee as he reduces one unit by a pip.

Lee brought two half battalions up into the battle for the woods and these along with the original battalion would cause a good number of casualties that would force me to replace the lead units even before coming out of the woods though it would be at some cost to him.

My first battalion is reduced to a strength of one and moves deeper into the woods awaiting a commander to start rallying troops back to the colours, would I get enough back in time to bring them back into the battle?

The answer was not really, they failed morale test after test, in the end I moved on to another unit with more success. Here though a lone Battalion made it through the woods, reordered itself for the attack and charged home. French have a bonus when attacking in melee and this would be a test to see if they could crack the defence.

Other battalions stream in behind them whilst still more move to attack another side stretching the defenders further. The big question is will I be able to get attacks home along the whole front?

The answer was nearly. The first attack was beaten back before I could get more battalions into the attack and the constant fire from the defenders was chipping away the effectiveness of my attackers. I needed to get more units in to the fight at the same time but Lee was reducing the strength of some Battalions whist others were forced to retreat back into the woods disordering them again.

With most of my Battalions down to 2 and 3 strength I threw in the last three full strength battalions  but again Lee was picking off strength points nearly every time he fired. I really needed to get back to back activations but Lee kept beating me to the punch meaning he had the opportunity to weaken key attacking units. I can see how Hougoumont sucked in troops, it always seemed that I was one good turn away from breaking in but always Lee was able to do enough to slow down or break up the attack and with each minor success he bled me out that bit more.

I finally got two battalions to get in at the same time, the third poised to join them so long as they held on. Close assault with the French Melee advantage and the lack of numbers for the defenders can work well but I need to roll well due to the heavy penalties for attacking a fortified location. In this case I was unable to get into Hougoumont with one battalion whilst the other was sent back into the woods. If I can just get the next activation I have a good chance of getting a second battalion into the mix.

Alas it was not meant to be and both battalions would be pushed back next turn and whilst they still had reasonable strength left the majority of the other battalions were either one (red die) or two strength battalions and were in desperate need of reforming. In the distance you can see the next division already marching towards the objective and looking untidy as the British artillery starts to work them over.

We played a few more turns, it felt really good, Hougoumont's going to be a pig to take as it should be and will see a great deal of action. We will make a few minor adjustments and try it again. Time wise it was much faster than the old combat system and we will try it with more open terrain with more artillery and cavalry involved but right now it feels right and I think we can really make this work for the actual game making for a much faster and slicker game that still feels Napoleonic. All in all a great nights work.

Last word though is a big thanks to Lee for creating a table that ROCKS. I am already foaming at the mouth over the two boards but with two more to go and these will have the most buildings on it's going to be stunning, top job Lee.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Building of the *cough* Week *cough* La Haie Farm by Leven Miniatures.

OK it's been a couple but hopefully I will get back on track, I need to get a bunch of buildings finished for Joy of Six for Mike, this set completes all the buildings I need to do for Project Waterloo so another big tick on the check list.

On Leven Miniatures Facebook Page Mike mentions this may be available in time for Joy of Six but that was over a month ago so I am not sure of the status but knowing Mike it won't be to far away.

With little first hand detail on the farm I think Mike has taken what he has and filled in the other details. I have noticed a couple of bits on mine that I have missed on tidy up such as the building on the top right where I need to over paint the smudge! It also looks like Mike may have missed off the chimneys on the farmhouse. I did not even miss them on painting it up but this may have been picked up upon or is correct, will check with Mike.

La Haie Farm showing interior detail of the farmhouse. The whole set of buildings are rather plain, nothing at all like some of the others of the Waterloo series but that's all for the good in my mind as it makes a good contrast for one and is fitting from an historical point of view. 

Like most of the farms in this area that bordered France the buildings were built for defence as well as for farming with a high wall and all doors into the farm inside the courtyard. All approaches are covered by at least one window except the main gate.

I went with a dirt interior opposed to the more recent paved as I felt that this being one of the smaller farms would least afford the luxury of mud free floorboards.

I made a bit of a balls up on the walls, actually they went on perfectly the first time! My issue was not leaving enough room for the final building and having to prise the wall off and reposition slightly to allow the final building room. Quite annoying really and preventable. Thus the use of hedging to cover up the unsightly gap I was forced to leave showing.

At least it gets atmosphere to the small gate that is in the far corner from the main house. In truth I rather like the result, just not how I got there.

I used the image on Facebook of the one Chris Hudson has painted for Mike as a guide for mine. I really like that one but went with light grey tiles over the darker grey/brown Chris used though the stone walls on mine are darker. Overall it gives quite a different look though I like both finishes.

Size wise the British gun by Baccus is on a 60x60mm base so you can see it's got a reasonable footprint. Mike has got some great painters sending him images and models for display stock and I crib off them where I can, so in this case, thanks Chris.

I scraped out most of the texture where I intended to have tracks, most of what was left made banks alongside the edges of the track which helped add to the general earthy look of the place. Last off I dry brushed some light flesh over the plain brown to bring up the texture left behind. 

Given that this building is on the extreme left of the British line it's unlikely to see any action in the game but with the other buildings that are in the area will at least give that end of the table something of interest.

So that's a wrap for the buildings, though I still have the orchard and formal gardens to make up for Hougoumont which will be started as soon as I have the board to work them onto. Tonight we are play testing the assaults on Hougoumont as Lee has pulled out all the stops and finished two of the boards, amazing work and really looking forward to seeing the finish.

La Haie Farm, 31 Chris Hudson

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Seleucid V Parthian AAR

Managed another Hail Caesar game with Matt but this time we pushed the points up to 500. My plan was to run his troops out of space and force his cataphracts to receive the charge from my pike. I went pike heavy, indeed fielding more pike than I have ever done before. 

Matt's Parthian's on the right took up a much greater area, the question has to be would they be able to use such large numbers effectively?

Not only did I not go for the cataphract option but the cavalry were javelin and spear armed. I wanted the ability to do damage when not in contact and I also knew I would never catch the horse archers with the very slow heavy cavalry. Unfortunately I managed far too few shots from these guys.

My Gallic infantry took a fair pounding, I was playing them as naked fanatics and their ability to clear away some of the horse archers worked but the Parthian Shot ability caused too many losses.

On my right flank my javelin armed light cavalry had cleared off the first wave of horse archers whilst on my left flank I had lost one of it's two units to a bad test roll whilst the other unit caught an evading unit removing it from the game. 

At this point it was clear the idea of javelin armed light cavalry was good but just two per wing was way to fee. Indeed my points spent on the heavy cavalry would have been much better spent on more light, something to consider for the future.

My pike on the right were being held up by the skirmish elements due to poor command rolls. Indeed I was just getting one moves almost all the way along the line. I had countered on getting two to three moves every other turn so I would be able to push Matt's archers to their board edge.

My light cavalry were shaken but poised to charge into the flanks of several horse archer units but it was not to be as they were finally booted out the game.

The surprise of the night was that my Gallic infantry stood and survived a charge by a cataphract unit supported by two horse archer units. It was pushed back and shaken but in the following turn won the melee seeing them off. I had turned the pike to face to try and take advantage of a possible stand off.

I was still in danger of having a gap torn in my line if the cataphracts charged again so I planned on plugging the gap with some of my cavalry.

On the left I continued to fall back with my two spent light cavalry, they were in no condition to continue to try and push against the numbers they faced.

I was also falling back on the left but I just could not get more than a single move out of them and with 50% of shots supplying hits and saving on average 33% of these I was losing the battle here as well.

Matt charged in again with his mauled cataphracts with two supports whilst I received with the pike as support. I had been rolling some good dice but at this point they deserted me with me losing 6 pips to 3. Not only did the cavalry break but so too did the pike.

Same spot, different picture, suddenly not only did I have a big hole in my line but one side was propped open by a shaken unit, I was in serious trouble.

Whilst Matt's cavalry were also shaken he had the light cavalry to pour into the gap and recover at least one more pip to allow his heavies to finish off the Gauls if the bow troops had not already done so. My cavalry on the left flank was a broken brigade and no way could I now win so yet another victory for Matt.

However I think I have a lot more mileage with my Persians, I need to send in more bow but they are the troops that can cause the biggest problems for the horse archers. So I guess I will be back with them next time.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Start of my Son's Peninsular Adventure

I have finally started my son's Napoleonic army, he of course wanted the British and what better than it being painted up for the Peninsular given the wide mix of units and uniforms for all sides. Lee is also busy with the Spanish so this will give all of us something to play with. All figures are again Baccus.

First up the 1st Battalion of the 5th Northumberland Regiment with green facings and the keen eyed may notice that the flags are blowing in the opposite way to how I normally do them, this is so they will match up to my flags flying opposite to them.

The 1st Battalion of the 6th Warwickshire Regiment, wearing the annoying yellow facings. I have also gone for less static grass and tufts as I want it to look a little more arid than all the Waterloo bases.

Both battalions together, not a big start but I wanted to at least get them started as I am not sure how much time I will have for painting in the coming month or two and Steve and Lee's figures get first dibs. Not that I only painted up the infantry.

Lee gave him a few guns and crews so I painted up three howitzers and three standard guns, but no cavalry yet. I have also painted up Steve's guns but not finished the limbers (that's tomorrow-ish).

Not the biggest commitment but then again the troops were drip fed into Iberia so I'm just being historical.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Companion Cavalry and Command Bases

My Ancient army gets a little help with a couple of Baccus Companion unit's. I can get two and a half units out of pack which is why I bought a couple more packs at Triples as a few units would not really cut it.

Again the plan is not to paint them to win any prizes but to allow me to paint them up in a fairly fast manner. I went with one unit with red and one with blue cloaks as their stand out points. I will be painting a whole bunch in each colour, though different shades to give variety whilst allowing them to be fielded as the blue/red division etc. From speaking to Lee he plans to expand his 6mm armies picked up at Hamerhead by quite a bit so the arms race is on. I also intend to buy a Persian army as I think it could look excellent in this scale if given it's head.

These are very nice sculpts and capture the look of the Companions really well. I will get some of the other cavalry to supplement this pose for some of the other units available to the various Macedonian armies I can bend this too.

I had a bit of a play with these, the blues are in a form of wedge formation whilst the reds play it safe with two lines. The bases are 40x60 from Warbases and give enough mass feel to work along side the larger phalanx and smaller Hoplite blocks. 

Command is catered for with two figures to a 1p for sub-command and three figures on a 2p for the Army commander. This will make it clear who is top dog.

Again Baccus did a top job of sculpting these rather fine figures. Once I have a 2p loaded I will have enough command for four divisions and figures for almost three so I guess I need to get cracking with more of these. Before that I need to clear my desk down a little of what is on it at the moment.

Having had a bit of a test run of 6mm with Hail Caesar I am really excited to get the chance to play a bigger game with lots of painted units, it's going to look excellent.