Thursday, March 23, 2017

All Quiet on the Hobby Front

"Heeeeeeere's JOHNNY!"
There has been a distinct lack of hobby action of late, and like Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining", cabin fever is setting in...

A combination of family commitments and it just being too damn hot (or humid, or both) have meant I haven't been to the club for weeks and painting has been a write-off. Why try painting when the paint on your brush dries up before it touches a figure? A slight exaggeration, but it's been consistently hotter and muggier since summer officially finished at the end of February, and that kind of weather is not conducive to painting, as you probably know all too well.

Anyway, things are looking up; I'll be going to the club this weekend and will probably play French this time. Several new players have been investing in British armies, so I'll give them some target practice. The Italians I painted up late last year will probably get their maiden run on the battlefield (queue routing markers!).

Because there's been a flurry of British regiments being created, there have been quite a few questions being asked on numbers and basing, and I realise my regiments are undermanned. My focus for when I get my mojo back will be to upgrade my British line regiments from 10 to 12 figures and Highlanders from 12 to 15 figures. I'm also planning to retire some of my older units and replace them with Hagen metal figures (marching and action) and the new Strelets Highlander range. The problem is, though, both ranges have problems: the Hagen figures don't have elite company figures, while the Strelets figures don't have centre company figures! I had ordered some Hagen marching light infantry to use as elite company figures, but when I got the parcel in the mail I found that they'd been replaced with extra centre company marching figures, instead. Consequently, I've used Milliput to make shoulder wings on a few figures. I'll see how they look once I start painting them. I've also laboriously carved off the shoulder wings from the majority of the Highlander figures, too.

Also, I will need to re-base my Spanish infantry, which I mistakenly based on the larger 2-rank base, instead of the standard 3-rank continental infantry. Plus, I plan to boost the numbers of Spanish infantry so that I can field a complete 1500 point Spanish army! "Why?", I hear you ask; well, I have a soft spot for the hapless Spaniards who kept getting up after being knocked down again and again! They embody the image of the plucky underdog, which appeals to my sense of justice. Plus, I have an ambition to win a game with them one day; if I can do that, then I know I'll have made it as a player! That's the same reason I'm still plugging away with the Neapolitan project, too.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Crash or Crash Through!

"Did we hit anything?"

I finally made it back to the club this weekend past after a run of real-world priorities got in the way of hobby-time. I ran a scenario with my figures, so this post features only 1/72nd scale goodness with none of these over-fed 28mm figures hogging the limelight! Apologies in advance for the photos; I forgot my camera and was reduced to using my phone, so some are rather blurry while others have a lot of foreground/background which I couldn't be ar*ed cropping.

The scenario I came up with was based on a generic scenario from the book Wargamer’s Scenarios: The Peninsular War 1808 - 1814 where the Anglo-Iberian forces are strung out across the table, screening a French occupied town (off-table). The French player is in command of a concentrated force, and needs to open the road to the town. The French forces start the game with ~500 points less than the allies, but that's tempered by the fact that at least half the allied force is made up of a Spanish division. The rest of the allied force consists of an Anglo-Portuguese division. Each brigade of each division starts off in an isolated position, so each allied commander has to decide whether to concentrate, or to earn individual glory by attacking a French flank.

I took the Portuguese brigade of 2 line and 1 Cacadore battalion, and my new artillery battery. Garry took the British brigade of 1 highlander battalion, 1 light battalion and 1 line battalion (and a couple of riflemen), and John S. took the 2 Spanish infantry brigades as well as commanding the only allied cavalry.

Quinny went French for the 2nd week in a row. After vowing never to play French when a British force was on the table (proud ex-Pom that he is!), he broke his vow last week and won. Now it seems patriotism is trumped by winning, no matter which force he commands! He decided that the only way to win was to go on the offensive right from the start, and the Spanish were the obvious candidates for attack.

The Spanish began by concentrating around the village on the road, while the cavalry lurked in the background, probably the best place for Spanish cavalry actually! John occupied the building closest to the French and strung out a battalion in line from the occupied building to another battalion in closed column, creating an anchored line. A determined 3 battalion charge on the building soon cleared the Spanish from the town, allowing the cavalry to then charge the dislocated anchored line. In short order, the line and closed column were all running. The French then turned their attention to the rest of the Spanish infantry and sent them packing. John then had to roll for divisional morale, but failed of course. He then attempted to issue a recall order in the next turn. The order was successfully issued, but in the following morale check, the division chose to ignore the order and bug out for the hills! John was left with the cavalry and one lonely unit of angry townspeople, or guerrillas. Quinny casually neutralised the Spanish cavalry, except for the Extramadura Lancers, who danced around the French rear to no great effect!

Quinny was then able to turn his attention to the British and Portuguese. I managed to put a line battalion in the nearest building which had been vacated by the French, just to make life difficult for them. I planned on using the artillery to make life difficult for the enemy, while my cacadores were to take on the nearest enemy infantry. The main flaw to this plan was the fact that the Portuguese artillery couldn't hit the  broad side of a barn, and, after a minor success against enemy infantry, the small French chasseur unit kept the cacadores in closed column. While I was kept focussed to the front, Quinny sent a couple of battalions around the rear of my position. The only bright spot was the fact that his attempt to dislodge my battalion from the built up area failed, after my dice finally decided to cooperate at the same time Quinny's decided to give up.

However, that was only a temporary setback. Quinny eventually chucked the Portuguese out of the village and got around the flank of the British line. Having sent both Portuguese line units running, the way was clear through the village. The British and the lone cacadore battalion were not up to halting them, so the game ended with a consensus agreement of a French victory.

It seemed to be a successful game (maybe not so much for the Spanish, sorry John!) with everyone enjoying themselves. The French player had to be aggressive to win, which suited Quinny's style to a T, while the allies have their work cut out for them despite having overall superior numbers. 

I'd like to run it again with a re-jigging of the forces; maybe a small British cavalry unit to give the Anglo-Portuguese a more offensive capability, and boosting overall numbers so the French player doesn't have to fight single-handedly against multiple allied players.

The Portuguese deploy on the ridge

The Spanish lancers bravely take the field

Spanish heavy cavalry guard the flank

Spanish infantry manage to just fall short of occupying the buildings

The French manage to beat them to the punch, occupying the barn under their noses!

The French infantry advance in closed column, screened by hussars in echelon.

More French infantry advance in column screened by light infantry skirmish screen. Note the British advancing through the woods in their flank!

Two French battalions deploy in line to face the threat, while the skirmishers advance to take on their British counterparts.

The French infantry charge against the Spanish occupied village goes in, despite supporting fire from the anchored line.
John is checking distances and angles to see if the cavalry had an opportunity charge (they didn't).

After successfully taking the building, the chasseurs charge the remaining formations of the anchored line. The guerrillas look on helplessly!

The French reserve moves up.

Spanish infantry columns huddle together before the onslaught!

Spanish reserves move up. The converged grenadiers and Walloon Guards are the best units in the Spanish formation.

Unfortunately, John kept them in column to meet the French attack, negating their firepower in an attempt to meet mass with mass.

With too many units running, the inevitable result was a failed divisional morale test!

In an attempt to retrieve some honour, the Spanish dragoons managed to manoeuvre into the hussars' flank. The French horse artillery channel Dirty Harry: "Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

After their successful charge, the French chasseurs' flank is covered by a lone infantry column. The cacadores then wheel and fire in their flank. The ensuing morale check causes the column to retire with casualties. Huzzah!

That's as far as the cacadores' luck goes, as they are forced into closed column after the chasseurs manoeuvre to threaten them. 

John's lancers appear in the rear of the French infantry, who studiously ignore them.

While the cacadores are still in closed column due to the cavalry threat, negating their firepower, they are charged by two battered French infantry columns. 

The roll for pre-melee...

...and for melee!
Luckily, the result was only a retreat and not a break.

The lancers make a nuisance of themselves, forcing the French light infantry into square. They square repulses them, but makes a lovely target for the British line.

After the artillery dealt with the Spanish dragoons on their flank, the French hussars attack the Spanish heavy cavalry on the ridge.

They are also sent packing to the rear!

The Portuguese occupy the empty building, under the guerrillas' supervision.

The die comes good in the combat for the village!

The French find they've bit off more than they can chew...

They are repulsed with disorders! Huzzah!

However, the celebrating is premature, with their supports caught in the flank by a column of French legere!

Now isolated with 5 disorders, the future of the Portuguese in the village looks bleak!
Note the French hussars angling for the centre.

The chasseurs charge the guns, but are fought off by the combined fire of the cacadores and gunners.

The Spanish lancers are finally put to flight by the French hussars, who'd charged out of the village to catch them in the rear.

Despite being battered, the French are able to hold off the remnants of the allied force and open up the road to relieve the French held town off-table.

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