Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Foot dragoons WIP

Here's the latest on the workbench. They're a distraction from study and from Jim's Soviets (sorry Jim!): Foot dragoons for the sea landing scenario.

The French fortifications will house not only the infantry garrison and artillery, but also a detachment of dragoons. Whether they'll be used offensively on horseback, or defensively on foot behind the fortifications will be up to the player. Painting these chaps will make that option a reality.

More to come

Pirate pandemonium!

Arrrrrr, shiver me timbers and cringe me nurgles (...wait; that's more Dennis Bloodnok than Blackbeard!).

Anyway,  Last Friday saw the club given over to games with a decidedly salty flavour as NWA celebrated the 'International Talk Like a Pirate Day' last week (sure it was Monday and the club meeting was on Friday, but who cares?) I was originally going to play Andrew S. in a non-nautical Napoleonic scenario (my sea landing scenario not being ready), but we were enticed to join in the scurvy crew from Eureka Miniatures in a game of silliness that was both entertaining and quite engaging; I actually wanted to win!

The rules were extremely simple; four players were in charge of a pirate band each. There were several bands of non-player characters/creatures, that, at the start of a player's turn, could be controlled by that player for that turn by picking 2 gold coins from the pirate chest with a number on it. Each player had an 'Aye-pad' which listed the non-player characters/creatures and their abilities, so choosing a coin could become quite strategic if there was a band close to a rival player's unit. Movement and combat were extremely simple; a wooden 'leg', or half a chopstick, being the measure of distance, and a handful of d6s, 1 for each scurvy crew member and 3 for the captain, thrown for combat. 6s indicate a hit which for all non-captains was fatal. If your crew was reduced by combat or other surprises (like piranhas, quicksand etc.), you could attempt to recruit another band of non-player characters or creatures. I managed to recruit some marines and when they were reduced, I recruited some natives. Poor Malcolm tried 3 times to recruit the same bunch of pygmies and each time was rejected and attacked for his troubles!

Anyway, each player had an objective to reach and once reached discovered the location of the Fountain of Youth (which was the ultimate objective for all players). One young member of the club (sorry I didn't catch his name) was quick out of the blocks and fairly ruthless in setting NPCs against the rest of us. He reached his objective first and was also the first to reach the Fountain of Youth. He also was the first to deal with the mermaids who attempted to lure him to the depths with their beguiling song. He managed to resist their charms (just) to be the first player to walk under the waterfall at the pyramid to reach the fabled fountain. each player who managed to reach the waterfall was then required to roll 1d6 to see if they ever came out again; roll a 1 and you mysteriously disappear forever! Of course, the young chap who'd played a blinder all night rolled....a 1! Malcolm, who'd been attacked by just about every NPC band and had had quicksand appear under his feet at every turn (besides being rejected by the natives), ended up winning the game after being the first to secure a phial of the waters of the Fountain of Youth and make it to the edge of the board. I was second to the pyramid (the rest of us were totally immune to the charms of the mermaids. What does that say about a.) their charms, or b.) our captains? Hello,sailor!), but like the young chap, I too rolled the dreaded 1!

A giggle of a game played in the right spirit and hosted by some great showmen!

One of the pirate bands - Malcolm's I think

NPC band of pygmies

NPC band of skellingtons - Scary!

NPC band of natives

Mermaids at the foot of the pyramid containing the Fountain of Youth

Aye-Pad 2.0!

My first move of an NPC band positioned them right underneath the man-eating plants!

My pirate band being approached by an NPC band controlled by another player.

Combat! I came off worst, though.

The young fella's band being attacked by a giant ant!

My depleted band after crossing the river and being attacked by piranhas (the blob in the river). Approaching the marines on the right who I recruited after abandoning my band of scurvy lubbers!

Malcolm beating a retreat with his phial of water from the fountain of youth riding his recruited giant ant in the boat (hastily made of paper after the real thing apparently had been left behind by the organisers!)

The board at the end of the game. Note the empty board, but the HUGE pile of dead figures at the bottom of the picture!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Napoleonic apparel

I've kitted myself out in a couple of t-shirts from online shops including Napoleon at Wagram, the King's and Regimental colours of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders and one with the coat of arms of the Hapsburgs. With my recent birthday loot I am outfitting myself with the above designs from; The Duke of Wellington by Goya and Marshal Soult, the Duke of Dalmatia (or the Duke of Damnation as the British rankers affectionately called him).

I'm hoping for an extra psychological advantage over my opponents, but my other t-shirts haven't imparted any advantage yet. Still, I live in hope!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New blog name?

I've invested in a packet each of the lovely HaT Wurttemberg infantry and artillery. They are both such beautiful sets I couldn't resist any longer. They will probably sit in the unpainted pile for a very long time as when I'll get to paint them I'm not sure. Hopefully, by the time I get around to painting them, HaT's long-awaited Wurttemberg cavalry will have been released.

The problem is that I have been collecting figures from both sides of the Peninsula War which is why the blog is named as it is. What am I going to do now that I've contaminated my collection with Germans? M. le Rosbif, Johnny Frog and Fritz? Roast Beef, Frogs' Legs and Sausages? Any other suggestions? (The sillier, the better!)

Then again, I might just keep the name as it is and pretend I haven't noticed that I've got any Germans!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book review - Legacy of Glory

This book is an oldie (published in 1971, when M.Rosbif was but a tiny tot), but is a fairly good summation of the whole Iberian Peninsula debacle from the French point of view. Nowhere near as in depth an investigation as those by Esdaile or Fraser, this book is a narrative history of the short but fruitless reign of Napoleon's older brother Joseph as 'El Rey Intruso' between the years of 1808 to 1813.

The author describes well the strained relations between the Bonaparte brothers and the total imperviousness to reality that Napoleon displayed to all complaints and requests for help from Joseph. As to why Joseph let himself be trapped in this no-win situation where his imperial brother undermined him and his subordinates ignored him and treated him with contempt, it is hard to understand. The author contends that Joseph sincerely wanted to do the right thing by 'his' people and that even when it was obvious he was impotent to change anything, his loyalty to the Bonaparte 'firm' prevented him from picking up his bat and ball and going home.

Joseph comes across as a well-meaning, but incompetent and impotent dupe, trying his best under impossible circumstances to do the right thing. The author contends that Napoleon originally thought that replacing the Bourbons with his brother would be a walk in the park akin to placing his other brothers on the thrones of the Netherlands or Westphalia, or indeed Naples, where Joseph had been happily ensconced as king before being summoned to the throne in Madrid. If this had been the case, Joseph would have been the perfect candidate as he was a benign, urbane and liberal kind of chap, although a bit lazy and indolent; a step up from the inbred reactionaries who previously had the gig! However, Spain and the Spanish people had other ideas and Napoleon never got to grips with the reality that his brother faced and his meddling from afar just made Joseph's lot ten times worse.

An entertaining read but only a cursory telling of the story. I wait for someone like Esdaile to really flesh out the story from the French point of view.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Keep off the grass!

My boss was investigating the possibility of having a small bare concrete balcony area at work covered in fake grass for the official opening ceremony of our new library, so she sent off to a supplier for some samples. I saw them and immediately saw wargaming terrain potential. Long story short; they're now mine, all mine!

There are contemporary accounts of armies marching through head high crops of cereals and literally bumping into or at least being surprised by the enemy because they couldn't be seen through the standing crops. Think of Quatre Bras where French lancers surprised the 42nd Highlanders before they could form square because  '...the stalks of rye, like reeds that grow on the margins of some swamp, opposed our advance; the tops were up to our bonnets, and we strode and groped our way through as fast as we could.' (Sergeant Anton of the 42nd Highlanders).

I think these'll do very nicely!

The astro-turf sample
French voltiguer hiding in the crops

Friday, September 16, 2011

September progress

Spring is in the air, but the winter lurgi has only recently released its grip on me *cough, splutter*. I'll probably have a seamless transfer from virus to allergy over the next couple of weeks with a month-long sneeze and snot-fest to look forward to. I'll have to start stocking up on the anti-histamines now!

The first swap I participated in with Ben, aka Victorious Secret from Benno's Forum, arrived after a long journey by snail and turtle it seems :-). These dismounted dragoons are the last element required for the naval landing scenario under development.

Not much wargaming or painting as a result of the coughs and sniffles, but what I have done I now present to you!

BTW, thanks to all of you who have signed the online petition to try to save the jobs of colleagues at the University of Melbourne libraries. Unfortunately, as was always likely, the affected staff have been steam-rollered by 'progress' and have lost their jobs after weeks of stress and bad feeling. All the accumulated knowledge and skills these people possesed is now lost to the universtiy community. No one dispusted that the job has changed massively with the increased uptake of so much online content, but to lose so many people to introduce the new service model is still going to place the remaining staff in under a whole lot more pressure to provide existing services.

Jim's Tons-o'-Russians. Below are some of the latest additions

Naval officer - SHQ/Kennington infantry officer painted blue

Rear of same

HaT sailor

Strelets dismounted dragoon from VS's swap

Another Strelets dragoon

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A sailor went to sea, sea, sea...

Below is my effort at scratch building a ship's boat for my naval landing scenario. After asking for advice on a couple of forums, the good people at WD3 Wargames Community steered me in the direction of a blog tutorial on creating small boats. This is my approximation using cereal box cardboard and Milliput. The carronade is the smaller gun-barrell from the HaT Sailors and Marines pack with a section cut out from the middle and a layer of Millput to disguise the cut.

Slightly on the large size for the scale of the figures, but as a single building represents a town block, a figure represents 60 men, this boat will represent a flotilla of small boats. My only criteria was that it fit a small 8-figure battalion, which it does, just! I won't complicate it by adding oars or a mast. The representation of a small boat is enough.

I'm still not sure if I'll make another; I'm thinking that this boat will need to ferry several loads from the fleet and back, which will add another level of tension to the scenario; Will the naval forces be able to land all the Marines and the gun before the French can intervene, or the Spanish assist?

The basic boat

With figure

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Boat... or A Bridge (and a Pontoon and Boat Assault) Too Far!

Saturday's meeting saw an extravaganza organised by our resident Sultan of Scenarios, John R. A river crossing of the mighty river Rhine in 1813, where the French were attempting to cross and the Austrians to thwart the crossing.. I never got to ask him if it was an historical event or not, and as my area of expertise is more the Peninsula, I am still none the wiser. The OB and commander suggested it belonged more to the period of 1809, as Lannes was well and truly dead in 1813, but the French were firmly in control of the Rhine at that stage.Whatever the history of the event, it was a cracker of game that saw the Austrians triumph over the French, forcing them back to their side of the river.

Your humble correspondent took the French command and devised a cunning plan, but like all cunning plans, it didn't survive first contact with the enemy! Andrew S. was my opposing commander and ably assisted by Tim, Jim and Garry, they managed to concentrate their forces to counter our every attempt at establishing a bridgehead.My fellow French commanders were Robin and Darren who gallantly followed my orders despite their lack of success, and when I finally managed to construct the pontoon, I found myself in exactly the same position they found themselves in; facing overwhelming numbers and unable to bring enough pressure to bear to reinforce the bridgeheads. The target of the town of Asterstein didn't look in much danger for the majority of the day.

My cunning plan was for Robin to force a crossing over the existing bridge to the north with the cavalry division and then follow the cavalry up with the strongest elite division, the 3rd, which had such tough nuts as the terrible 57th among their number. Meanwhile, to the south, Darren was tasked with crossing the river by boat with the 2nd division. I was in charge of the 1st and the Reserve Divisions, and the reserve artillery. I stripped all the horse batteries from the 3 divisions and sent them to assist the cavalry and all the heavy 8-lber foot artillery to assist the reserve artillery in creating a grand battery to cover the building of the pontoon bridge.

Robin manfully tried to get his cavalry across again and again, but again and again was thwarted by Austrian cavalry. Darren was most successful in getting troops across, but without support he was soon on the back foot and eventually forced back across the river. His one chance of success in charging 2 French battalions at an isolated Austrian battalion failed due to disorders coupled with a bad die roll. His lack of success in establishing the southern bridgehead also doomed Jenko's efforts at linking up with his Baden regiment to failure, too. After suffering a loss from long-range artillery fire from the fort's 20-lbers, Jenko moved into the vineyards and was promptly surrounded by Austrians. After being forced to retreat in the aftermath of a combat, he was placed in the open, allowing Garry to charge the flank of the isolated Badeners. Thanks for coming, Jenko!

Meanwhile, my pontoon bridge was coming along and managed to survive a couple of brushes with the fire ships the Austrians kept floating down the river. It looked as though Robin would be foiled in his attempts to cross the existing bridge, not only by the Austrian cavalry, but by the imminent collapse of the bridge; it had one damage point left by the end of the game!

As the pontoon bridge was taking so long and Darren's efforts were not being rewarded with success, I took up his suggestion that some of the boats should be sent upriver to get more troops across elsewhere. It was a good idea that may have worked if I'd done it earlier, but by the time I got the first units of the Reserve Division across, my efforts in getting the 1st Division across had been easily batted away by Tim.

My only success was in the artillery duel as the pontoon bridge was being erected. The Austrian battery was targeting my engineers, knocking 2 out of the 4 figures down (I was worried I'd run out of engineers before the bridge was finished!). They survived their morale test and carried on. The answering fire from my massed batteries, even at extreme range was a devastating riposte; 1 battery lost 30% of its guns and was sent packing after a morale test failure, and a second was sent running after I killed the attached general! Huzzah! High-5s all round!

At one stage our illustrious umpire informed us that a massive blast was heard without giving any more details. A message was received some time later informing us that a guerrilla raid had blown up the Austrians' ammunition supply. I was later told after the game that the Austrian battery that the Reserve Division was facing after landing had only 1 shot left! If the game had lasted a couple more turns, maybe...

Next time, I'll make sure to spread out the boat landings, divide the cavalry forces amongst the divisions and to give each crossing point artillery support. It can't fail...

(Thanks to John for planning and running the scenario and for the use of some of the photos seen below)

The mighty Rhine River north to south, with Herzog Garry, General de Division Robin, John (aka. the Sultan of Scenarios) and my erstwhile counterpart, Erzherzog Andrew.

Asterstein, the French objective, on the far bank of the river.

The southern end featuring the fort with its massive guns!

The cavalry reserve lining up to take the bridge as ordered.

The Austrians doing their best to stop them

Darren's 2nd Division waiting to embark on their fateful journey.

The Austrians waiting to stop them.

The kowardly Kaiserliks float the first of their dastardly fireboats downstream...

...and it misses!

Robin's first attempt to seize a bridgehead... met...

...and repulsed by the Austrian chevaux-leger.

2nd Div. embark.

The boats make their landing ready to unload their cargoes.

The first French boots stand on the eastern bank. Huzzah!

The rest of 2nd Div. awaits their turn.

The pontoon bridge starts at a cracking pace while the 12 lbers get ready to cover the construction.

2 batteries flank the bridge, keeping the Austrians at a distance (though not far enough as it turned out!).

The first fireboat approaches the pontoon! Luckily, it passed under without causing any damage. Phew!

The first fireboat hits the bridge while Robin's cavalry attempts to get across again

The 3rd Div. backlog cooling their heels waiting to get across!

Robin tries again, this time with LOTS of cavalry...

...but is repulsed again, this time disordering all the units behind!

The engineers suffer their 1st casualty...


...but the offending battery is quickly silenced!

My deadly artillery strikes again! The hand of God (Andrew S.) removes the panic stricken gunners after their general is bowled over by a 12lb volley

Darren's first wave on the beach in nice, neat rows (not for long, though!)

Jenko's Badeners enter the field (luckily John threw the best result for the entry point: as far from the fort as possible!)

Garry's fortress guns still managed an extreme range shot that knocked a figure off the fresh Badeners.
The Badeners quickly surrounded.

Guns' eye view of the battlefield

The busy battlefield from the north. Relaxed-looking Austrian generals, Jim and Garry, while opposite them a worried- looking Darren ponders what to do next.

The French team; concentration personified! Furthest to nearest; Darren, your humble correspondent & Robin

The French team in action while Erzherzog Andrew does something devious as the rest of the Kaiserliks look on approvingly!

Jim's guns approach to to the marshy river bank to give Darren's 2nd Div what-for!

Jim sends in a Hungarian battalion against a much reduced leger battalion who, on a hiding to nothing, counter-charge!


The rot sets in and Darren's bridgehead crumbles under the pressure.

Fleeing units desperately re-embark to paddle to safety on the west bank.

Darren's best chance of the day: the charge against the lone Austrian battalion that, if successful, would have driven into the limbered artillery behind.

The resulting standoff just added extra pips to his disorder dice. No coming back from that!

The Austrian cavalry added the coup de gras, while another fireboat drifts past.

The pontoon bridge finally completed! Huzzah! 1st Div. rushes across.

Robin's cavalry try one last time.

This time they get across and can deploy into line

The first units of the Reserve Division embark to try and put pressure on the defense while the rest of 1st Division try to get off the bridge.

The boats cross, but the current has washed them right in front of the Austrian guns (which only had 1 shot left, unknown to me)!

Darren's battered remains of 2nd Div. reach the west bank of the Rhine.

The charge that broke my attempt to get across. Retreat units moving through those still on the bridge, adding fatal disorders.

1st Div. pull back off the bridge to reorder and try again. The hussars arrive to try to force the Austrian infantry back, but too late; time had run out!

Robin's last throw of the dice; Let the infantry do the job!

 Austrian Cheavaux-leger think differently!
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