Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Civil Strife in the Midlands 1642-1651 Book Review

I have promised myself that I will try to blog about all the historical books I read this year, something I got out of the habit of over the last couple of years. I have owned this book for years, it was published in 1974 but uses a lot of first hand snippets that have become favoured more recently and as such has one foot in modern day writing. Indeed this could have been written more recently than it's actual date.

For anyone interested in the English Civil War (first) then this book is worth picking up, especially if you live in the UK with a price tag of £1 on Amazon, plus postage of course. Those who are looking for ideas for a skirmish game then this again will be a source of information. Some of which would transfer to other periods so has some use outside wargaming the ECW.

The main point behind the book is that the Midlands suffered more during the First Civil War and was more important to all sides than any other area. My view has always been that it's ironic that the first Civil War started and ended in Nottinghamshire but overall the war passed us buy in this area for the most point. This book goes someway to redress such a view but the truth is that it actually had less effect than the author claims. Sure both sides did march and fight their way through the Midlands but most of the actual battles that actually happened in the Midlands were on the midlands boarders rather more central (ignoring Naseby). I would argue that the North has a much better claim to most effected region, especially when you consider the time the Scottish field army spent in that area before coming south. 

However few books sell with tag lines of "not the most important, but things did happen here" OK not really fair as quite a bit happened in the Midlands and my main grip is the lack of detail R E Sherwood put into such activities but this is not a book about battles but social upheaval. I am not sure Sherwood actually had a good understanding of the periods weapons, tactics and battles and seemed to take too many sources at face value even giving many of the pamphlets the benefit of the doubt which is risky indeed.

So a book that took too long to get round to reading and a little disappointing but I am still happy I have read it and as mentioned at the price it goes for on Amazon it's worth getting for the reasons mentioned above.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

To The Strongest Test Game

A few weeks ago Lee and myself threw a few units on the table and tried some test fights whilst trying out the rules. Our lack of a proper gridded battlefield did not help but we had enough of an idea for Lee to get a cloth and me another set of the rules. Fast forward a couple of weeks and armed with a set of rules each, a pair of decks of cards and the trusty game mat we were ready to try again, that much larger and that more prepared.

Now don't get me wrong, this was no well balanced game, merely a mixed force to see how the rules handled and how well we could come to grips with the mechanics. No winner or loser here, that is unless the rules rock or flounder.

Lee's favourite saying "To see what would happen" was thrown around all over the place. Lee has small compact Roman commands whilst I am using a massed block of troops the main battle being 12 phalanx's with around 6 units of supporting troops and two wings of cavalry.

The rules allow two units in a box, being one in front of the other. We went 4 units to a box as our display game will have a massive force. The idea seems to hold up fairly well, more testing to be sure but so far so good.

Lee also bought a load of counters though the ammo counters seemed to be the only ones required in this game. Future games may have the numbered counters instead of the modified card decks.

A view from Lee's side of the table. I was really struggling to get my blocks moving forward as we expected. The lights went ahead of the blocks whilst the cavalry attacked on both flanks.

The square grid is clear enough for you to focus on when required but does not stand out when looking at the game as a whole. We both really like the look at the mats and have no problem recommending them. Here  my cavalry get in my own way.

Lee just needs to grass his bases and he will have almost his whole army ready whilst I still have around 500 figures to paint. Such is the difference in our troop strengths.

So after a stop start evening we remain quite happy with the rules. Lee being Lee is looking at using the rules for 15mm, we both have quite a few figures and 28mm, Lee has a few units. Whilst I am happy to try 15mm without the added changes, I still enjoy Hail Caesar so suspect this may or may not remain a 6mm rule set for us but 28mm would require a lot of units or the games would be really short.

Of course we made plenty of mistakes and still need to get the rules sharpened but I really think we have the rules for the demo game. How they will actually work full blown is something we will have to wait and see but such a mass of pike is a bit of a knee trembler for sure.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Christmas Presents from Kind Friends

As many of you will realise I neither ran Secret Santa or took park in Santa Clause this year so it was quite a surprise when I received two presents from Secret Santa. Well Christmas day found me receiving not two but four presents.Words fail to show my appreciation as I just did not expect such gifts. Just shows how great our community is.

From America I received this Leven Miniatures windmill that will see use in upcoming Peninsular games with The Boy and Lee. I actually have an unpainted one prepped but waiting some paint and did want to get at least one more so a perfect present. The kids devoured the Peeps too having had some at previous Christmas's usually from my wifes friends.

I have already mentioned the £10 Baccus gift voucher which I spent on some more 6mm figures that arrived Christmas eve. These included yet more peltasts and lots more phalanx figures. These Peltasts will fit in lovely with my army for Magnesia and being troops I have been putting off for months I now can use these as a basis to copy. These will give me four units so is a real boost.

The fourth present was another four units of Gauls which again can fit right into my plans for Magnesia. 

So what can I say other than a heartfelt THANK YOU to the kind folks who have given me such wonderful gifts. 

Other more expected gifts with a wargames slant (i.e. off a list) has been the rest of the troops needed for Magnesia, a copy of To The Strongest! rules that we are planning on using at the Magnesia game at Joy of Six which I have had a quick go with Lee last week and seem to run well and hopefully will play fast enough to actually show good progress at the one day show.

I also got a book on Dunkirk that may provide a scenario or two's idea for ASL but if not be a good read. I also have had enough figures to provide me with four more Battalions of infantry for my SYW 15mm Prussians which will not help me keep up with Lee but at least gives me a respectable force to try and see him off.

So quite a haul and I am very pleased with what I received, hopefully you all will also have had a good Christmas and look forward to a good New Year. I will be posting some of my more recent finishes having done the final touches to a group that were all based at the same time.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas Gifts

Well I have not posted in an age as I expected but a couple of very nice surprises have given me the desire to post. I have received to gifts in the last week. One in the form of a box labelled from Secret Santa and a second as a Gift Voucher from Baccus.

I do not know who these kind people are, but thank you very much. One is going under the tree later to be opened on Christmas day and the other will be used as soon as I work out my final list for our display game for next years Joy of Six.

It just goes to show what a wonderful hobby we have and I can't tell you how much both gifts touched me and just at the right moment as I was feeling a bit down, so again thank you so much.

Other news is that I have continued to paint and have notched up quite a tally running into November. November itself as seen me just paint up four units of Gallic infantry in 6mm, the mix of colours and more limited time proved to slow production right down but with those in the back mirror I am pleased to report that I have done about half the work needed on two battalions of 15mm French SYW infantry for The Boy. These will be finished very soon and will be added to his growing army which will grow aplenty more next year with another four battalions of figures on order from Santa.

Not that my army has not had some help, five battalions of infantry and three regiments of Dragoons have almost emptied the mountain of my SYW, just a few infantry battalions and a Dragoon regiment to paint up but again Lancashire Games will be assisting with a few more infantry battalions.

Keeping with the Prussians I have painted up three battalions of Prussian Guard infantry for my 6mm Naps, need the figures for another two battalions to be able to do the last three, these being Adler Russians in reality. These may make the blog once I have done the base work, building up a bit of a stash of basing, also including some British Generals for The Boy's 6mm Naps that Lee gave him ready painted crews for 6 guns Lee also gave him. Next up for that army is yet more infantry.

Sounds like I will be busy in the Analogue Painting Challenge? sadly no, after thinking about it for a couple of months I stepped off the roster as I felt that I would not do myself any good taking part this year. Last year I pushed hard and then going to Heroes for a long weekend of ASL really left me very fragile and thus whilst I will follow it this year keenly I will be producing at a rate far below what I can do but at a level I am happy with.

More of my time has been spent on scenario design for ASL and whilst I have just three new scenarios under test I have a bunch of other ideas going through further research. It's amazing how much time is taken up by the various stages of design but I am really enjoying it and my book collection certainly has benefitted from it. 

As for blogging I think you will be seeing a bit more of me again, I have really enjoyed the rest and whilst I thought my painting might suffer for the lack of blogging it's not and indeed I think not thinking I need to blog this has actually meant I was more at home sitting at the painting table. Well all apart from those Celts LOL.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

No Secret Santa This Year

It is with some regret that I announce we will not be doing Secret Santa this year. In the last few months I have struggled to get more than a few posts together and before I knew it we are in September. Given that it's been a month since I blogged anything on this blog I really have to face facts that it would not be a positive experience if I was to try and run Secret Santa this year.

As for the blog I really have struggled since March to keep any kind of regular posting schedule. First I was not really feeling the painting so I was reduced in what to post but since then I have actually been turning out some reasonable rate of painting and played a few games but being out of the habit of posting I have failed to blog the results.

I have made real efforts with my ASL blog and have at least got a few posts out from that after that had really nose dived so I am hoping to get back to this blog sometime but I feel if I push it now I will simply get frustrated and then annoyed then gone. Hopefully a break is what I need. I will probably find my feet again when the painting challenge starts but I don't think I will take part this year as I really felt the burn last year and with me then going to a ASL show I was ill for over a month after through getting over tired, though that was more the ASL con than the Painting Challenge I still felt the strain.

Again sorry for SS and the poor showing here over this year, hope to get going again once over the hill.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Command and Colours Napoleonic Battle of Pultusk AAR

I have actually played a few various games of late most of which I have as yet failed to write up but may get around to them. This ones a bit special as I played it against my son The Boy. Habit is a terrible or good thing depending on the habit.

Me and The Boy have got out of habit playing C&C:N but as I had taken the week off work last week it gave us a great opportunity to have another go. As always I gave him the pick of module to play and sides once a scenario has been picked out. I own all the nationality sets (five) but have yet to buy the more recent additions. Unfortunately beyond the base set we have not had a great deal of play so it was good to get the Russians out.

I got the Russians and we played the battle of Pultusk fought on boxing day 1806, Marshal Bennigsen ignored orders halted his retreat and gave battle. This is quite a big game with the board crammed with units. In the actual battle the French won a narrow victory on the day but both sides suffered heavy casualties and the Russians withdrew during the night.

Battle from my perspective, looks like the Russians have the numbers! In infantry it's almost equal, I have 14 the French one less, I also have an advantage of one more cavalry with four cavalry but also have three Cossack cavalry but these are only two strength so are not expected to have a major impact. My biggest advantage though was artillery, I had five units to my sons three which historically was a big advantage as it forced the French infantry to surrender their gains when bombarded.

Each C&C:N nationality have traits that add flavour to the game, this is really well done and of all the Command and Colour series I think this one carries through the best. My Russians tend to get a Mother Russia roll that adds troops to their forces. The thought behind this is the fact that many units enter battle reduced in strength as are not fully mobilised, as such many infantry units start under strength (just three blocks opposed to the usual four). You roll dice equivalent to the number of command cards and these give you troops or emplacements when in effect. I failed to gain any infantry but managed to add two Cossack units, strengthened two artillery units and added a field works to a hill where I had one of my gun units.

C&C is a card driven system and if you use try to plan ahead you can really increase your chances of winning. The Boy has always shown the ability to plan and generally does well when we play. This scenario needed the winner to gain ten victory banners including some location ones that tend to channel the fight to key terrain. When playing The Boy I always have to gain one more than required as a form of balance. It's not unusual for The Boy to win with me still needing to get the normal required banners but it's nice when I get the normal number and he gets there before I can get that extra one.

In this game I did get a good run of the cards early. I lost all the Cossacks before the end of the game but they did more damage than expected. Their loss is not an issue as they do not count for banner gain so they are disposable.

The Boy stuck to the original script by forcing me off the first line of hills and then In turn was forced by my artillery to abandon them. However he never really got going on my left flank and as such never really threatened the woods that he really needed to gain much needed banners. I had sent extra troops into that area and both of us suffered heavy casualties but when the dust settled he had just the one infantry unit able to threaten the woods.

My left flank had also seen plenty of action but again no real threat was able to get past my first line of defence. Whilst many of my infantry units were reduced to single blocks my artillery were there to punish any units that tried to get through on that flank.

In the centre I still had a lot of strength that I could have called on if required. The Boy had lost most of his guns to cavalry attacks and his cavalry had been almost totally destroyed through follow on attacks from my cavalry when he brought these against my cavalry. Indeed he suffered many a bad roll in attack which set the tone in the centre. The fact that I still had all four artillery units on board to his one really made this so difficult for him.

In the end he just did not have the strength to push through or the opportunity to replace worn units in the front line with fresh units as I seemed able to pull the required cards whilst his units got stuck in the open close to my troops.

It was a fun game, both of us had a great time though I suspect the scenario could be a bit pro Russian. It's scenario three from the module and as we tend to play from front to back shows how few games we have played from this set. I am sure though we will be playing yet more in the near future, just from which set?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Joy of Six and Spends

Joy of Six has come and gone, I was really looking forward to this years as we were having a year off from putting on a display game. The only issue was getting to the event! Unknown to the organisers and most of Sheffield's population the vast majority of the roads around Hallam University was closed for a bike race. Sheffield Council have form for incompetence in organising events. Just the other year they had a marathon but failed to order water and only on the day realised cancelling the event!! Par for the course the people standing at the barriers did not know alternative routes nor it seemed did they care. Eventually we found the way in but I know more than one had to park miles away and walk in after trying and failing to find that one road out of many that got you in.

Regardless the attendance was good, not sure how it compared with last years but again space was all used up and plenty of games and traders were in attendance. The food remained good at prices that were reasonable, something that is getting rarer at shows making it the only show I don't take a packed lunch to.

I did not get any photo's of the show, just never got going with that sort of thing. Plenty of good looking games though, it was kind of weird seeing another Waterloo game in the same spot we had a couple of years ago and impressive it was too.

Most games were display but plenty of games were also participation. One such me and Lee played towards the end of the show which I was not really keen to play at the offset as by this point I was feeling rather tired. Turned out to be a great opportunity. The rules are based on Too The Strongest and is the ECW version that looks to be coming out in the future. I am a real fan of the ECW and so am a little difficult to please. I have to say that to this point no ECW rules have really grabbed me but these have a great feel and the mechanics whilst simple are very clever. Hopefully we will be getting our hands on playtest copies so we can try them out further. They are close to wrap up so I doubt we will have much influence on their development but I think these will be our go to rules for ECW.

They look to be able to play out medium sized games (15-20 units a side) in a short evening and should be able to handle very large games without to much trouble. We had around 15 units per side and the commands were all over the place to stimulate a confused command were neither side were ready for the battle and this came across well as you tried to make units work either together or separated by terrain or distance. We both got the gist of the rules relatively quickly and started to explore tactical options and how the game mechanics worked these moves out.

It's enough to say that when we turned up at the show we were selling our old Baccus casting s and getting new ones in the future. Now the plan is to keep the old, carry on painting them and get them on the table then get the new stuff and replace as we go. I am even thinking of trying out To The Strongest rules for our 6mm ancients because if they play as fast and have similar mechanics they could work well for next years game.

Of course a show is nothing without it's purchase. First stop was Leven Miniatures though it was mostly to drop off very late models but I did buy a few bits. Having painted no buildings for myself for well over a year I just did not want to increase the hoard too much, plus I actually don't know which buildings I need. I do know though that I will need to add to my ECW suitable buildings and the Medieval MED18 Large Manor & Stables will work. I also bought GEN18 Spanish Windmill, I really should have bought another one or two of these so will get more at a future show or post. Lastly a retired stone building that originally was in one of the American ranges but again I think I can use it elsewhere.

No one got rich off me with Baccus just getting a small order mostly because I forgot to sort out a list of what else I need for my Magnesia army. So two packs of elephants when I needed the, I bought two packs of Celts, naked fanatics and light cavalry. In both cases as the packs I wanted were sold out (buy early not late!). Again I needed more Celtic infantry than just one pack so need to add to these. The light cavalry will be OK though.

We returned home and everyone had a great time. Lee is buzzing over the ECW and picked up a raft of painted figures as well as about completing the lead required for next years display game. I have a few ECW cavalry regiments on my desk awaiting paint so it's got me revved up as well.

Talking of painting desk, two battalions of 15mm SYW Prussians are about to shuffle off whilst I have three British Dragoon regiments for The Boy's Peninsular army and another four phalanx blocks just marching on behind the cavalry. It's going to be very 6mm for a few weeks.