Thursday 28 September 2023

Bunker Hill update. - The Redoubt

 Another short update…..

I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously that Mark Nichipor (my Brave Fusilier blog) very kindly sent me a lot of information on the redoubt and its garrison for my Bunker Hill project. The maps and dimensions clearly showed that to groundscale the redoubt would be incredibly small, so with a bit of fudging and tweaking I’ve ended up making it around twice as big as it should be but it will accommodate the troops that garrisoned it. Just means I shall tweak some of the other distances.

I decided to make it a drop on terrain piece rather than make the whole hill etc. as these days I try to think of storage as well. Any way after a bit of searching I bought some of the resin earth rampart sets from Pendraken and with a bit of cutting, green stuff etc and using some plasticard sheet I must have had for over 10 years ! I’ve ended up with

The model has been undercoated and ink washed ready for painting. The base of unpainted figures is just for scale……

The small wooden flèche protects the sally point within the redoubt 😁, overall I’m pretty pleased with the result and I can press on to get it finished, I’m painting some extra ‘firing’ militia figures on smaller bases to garrison it. 

I also need to make the small stone wall for the beach and do some work on some of the fences.

Monday 25 September 2023

Small Bench Update.

 As always it’s been a busy couple of weeks who ever said you’d have all the time in the world when you retire to do what you want lied.

However as always I have all sorts on the bench but at least they’re all themed on the projects I’m working on!

Anyway for my 10mm Bunker Hill project I finished the 52nd foot, I always gloss varnish the 10mm figures before applying Matt varnish to give them some extra protection..

I’ve also received some resin earth ramparts which I’m going to use to form the main parts of the redoubt making the extra bits as I go.

The Quatre Bras project continues to move forward I painted a unit of Belgian Line infantry using the Warlord British, oof course I forgot the Belgians only carried one standard so I’m going to have to do some work on the second standard bearer! I will do that when I finish the bases.

Then there’s the first of the Dutch Militia, I’m using the MC miniatures STL files which I got printed for me. They’re in strips of 5 and originally I was going to put them on ‘Warlord bases’ however their own base is quite thick and putting them on the Warlord plastic would lift them way too high so I’ve left them on the 30mm frontage and based them on some very thin plasticard. I enjoyed painting these and have another two units to paint for the Brigade.

The flags are from Fighting 15’s I found they do a number of sheets of flags for some of the brigades at Waterloo. 

Behind the scenes painting of the 15mm and 28mm WOTR continues and there’s been some pondering about another skirmish type game bubbling away at the back of my mind and with Partizan in two weeks maybe I will get a few samples! I’ve also undercoated some Wiglaf miniatures, they’re very nice and I’m thinking of using them for some Dux Britanniarum as the armies are small and quickly achievable!

So not bad progress, couple of hospital appointments this week and in between the Rugby World Cup I plan on getting some more bits off the bench.

Hopefully see some of you at Partizan…..

Friday 15 September 2023

Throwing Thunderbolts- A Wargamers guide to the war of the First Coalition 1792-1797

 The Napoleonic War is without doubt ( next to Ancients) is a favourite period of mine and whilst all the campaigns and battles fascinate me over the years I have found myself focusing on 1815, the Peninsular War and the War of the First Coalition. The rise of France and Napoleon are intriguing, the campaigns are great to Wargame and the uniforms in transition.So whilst I have a number of ‘proper’ histories of the Wars and the Campaigns when I saw that Helion was releasing this guide I was intrigued.

Garry Mills clearly shows his love for this period and he has refought battles using his 15mm collection at Partizan and on YouTube  so in the end buying this was a no brainier. So what do you get for your £35 ( Helion price) or £23 ( Amazon price).

Well the simple answer is a lot it’s an A4 publication, soft back of 300 pages and weighs a lot.

So you can see from the contents that following a brief scene setting of the French Revolution there is then a 100 pages year by year account of the war. Sufficient detail is provided of the actions, theatres etc. to give you a good understanding of what took place and encourages you to go look up some of the engagements referred to. 

This is then followed by a chapter on the Nations involved, again this is a pretty comprehensive chapter giving the organisation, the forces involved etc of not just the major players ( France, Great Britain, Prussia, Austria) but the minor nations (Sardinia-Piedmont, Bavaria, Naples,Hesse Kassel to name just four) a very informative chapter. It also includes details of the Navies involved in the war.

The next two chapters cover what to consider about Wargaming the period , ( scales, opponents, rules etc) and building the collection including painting suggestions and so on. To grizzled old boys like me this may not be too relevant but I always enjoy reading how other people go about things and you’re never too old to learn something new!

Then it’s onto the scenarios, there are 10 in total and Garry has really delivered in this chapter he hasn’t favoured one particular rule set so for example the first four scenarios use Black powder ( although he also suggests that scenario 2 could use Gen de Brigade)  Scenario 5 is a Sharp Practice game of French v Royalists

Scenario 7 is the Battle of Castiglione and he suggests using Volley and Bayonet or DBN.

For each engagement there are full orders of Battle, maps, Scenario ideas and details of the historical outcome.

The last three scenarios are naval engagements from fleet action ( Glorious 1st June) a Frigate action and an individual ship action. Again he suggests a rule set and provides all the details of the vessels involved and the information pertinent to the rules but all the scenarios have sufficient information to allow the reader/ gamer translate them to their own rules.

The book then moves onto providing the reader with a list of suppliers of figures, terrain rules etc.again very useful for anyone just getting started in the period.

There is an extensive bibliography and links to online resources which again are very useful.

There are plenty of photographs of miniatures, the majority are of 28mm figures from the collection of Colin Ashton and for the Castiglione game they’re of Garry’s 15mm. Lots of inspiration for sure.

So in terms of content Garry has delivered what he set out to do and it would be nit picking if I were to try and find fault

There is however one thing that irks me a little as I said at the start it’s a big book and a heavy one, it’s size,  plus with it having card covers makes it a little difficult to hold comfortably, I generally like to sit back in my chair and read a book like this whilst having a drink this book is a little unwieldy but it’s manageable.

All in all if you have an interest in this period you won’t be disappointed and the significant discount offered by Amazon is certainly worth pursuing.

Sunday 3 September 2023

Battle of Guildford Courthouse (Live Free or Die rules)

 So after setting the table out last night I thought I’d give the figures and the rules a run out.

It’s a long post - sorry but hopefully you will enjoy the read and the conclusions.

Live Free or Die are available from Little Wars TV and are based on Andy Callan’s Loose Files and American Scramble and they have sought to ‘modernise’ the original gameplay and they have pretty much succeeded by coincidence a recent copy of Wargames Illustrated had republished Andy’s rules together with his comments on what he would change if he was to write them now.

So armed with copies of both sets I decided to see what ( if anything ) I would tweak.

First thing was I brought back Andy’s variable movement so an average die for Regulars and a D6 for militia for basic moves Cavalry get two dice (3 if charging) (Infantry get two dice if charging) I also added some fixed rate extras so Skirmishers are +3” on the throw, columns are also +3 (+4 on a road).

Both rules work on the accumulation of disorder tokens before casualties are taken, I largely went with the LFD rules although I did add if you throw a 1 on a normal move you get a point. ( For those throwing average dice I just threw a D6 with it). Disorder can quickly accumulate ( crossing fences, rough ground etc. so be careful).

Seemed to work well in the game. 

Firing and Melee I left unchanged from the LFD rule set and again it all worked well.

The other tweak I did was around commanders in LFD the army has a C in C and one or more Sub commanders so for Guildford Courthouse both armies get one sub commander alongside the C in C.

The C in C has a fixed number of command points they bring to the army then both they and the sub commanders are rated and have a number of stars. One die per star is thrown and if a 5+ is scored a Command point is added to the total. These characters also bring benefits to units etc and can rally off disorder equal to the number of stars they are rated at ( it costs command points for them to attach to a unit and do this) I like this but felt a bit disappointed Brigade commanders per se weren’t included so in addition to the principal characters I brought in the actual Brigade commanders, they add nothing to command points or to melee etc. But they can rally off one point of disorder from a unit they’re attached to ( costs 1CP to attach). This would be mainly beneficial for militia units as they cannot self rally.

Finally in LFD units ( other than militia) can rally off a number of disorder points if more than 12” from the enemy, the distance seems quite random as I couldn’t understand what it was based on so I changed it to more than 10” which is rifle range.

I think they’re the main points. 

So the table was set

The Kings men are at the bottom from left to right Webster Brigade (33rd, 23rd and Hessian Jaegers) 
Coming on table in the centre O’Hara’s brigade (1st and 2nd Guards, Converged Grenadiers and Tarletons horse) to the right of the road 3pounders and Leslie’s brigade the 71st, Von Bose regiment and British Light infantry.

Moving up table  the first line of the American defence is the North Carolina Militia under Butler.
The second line is the Virginia militia under Stevens and Lawson with them is a 3pounder battery two units of Virgina Rifles and Washington’s and Lee’s horse.

The third line has Huger and his Virginia continentals on the left and Williams with the Maryland Continentals on the right, between them a 6lb battery.

Cornwallis’ plan was for Webster to push left Leslie push right on O’Hara to advance through the center. Tarleton’s cavalry was to support Webster on the left and seek to outflank the enemies position.

Greene’s plan was for to Butler to hold the fence line for as long as possible. Stevens and Lawson to support Butler but respond to any attempts to move to the flanks. The rifles were to be pushed forward and annoy the enemy. Depending upon Tarleton’s movement the cavalry were to join and counterattack any movement by them.

The Continental brigades hold position until called forward.

So without further ado let battle commence.

Bound 1 saw Webster’s and Leslie’s brigades advance obliquely left. The Guards and Grenadiers in column advanced up the road and Tarleton’s cavalry moved off to the left. The 3 pounders caused some minor disruption to the militia at the fence line.
In response the Rifles advanced on both flanks and Lee’s cavalry set off to find Washington’s horse.

Bounds 3 and 4 sees Butler join the militia on the left at the fence line and rally off a disorder. On the British left the Rifles and the Jaegers exchange fire and with 4 disorders the Hessian Jaegers choose to retire in order to rally. Likewise their opposite number fell back to be out of range of English muskets. On the British right flank Von Bose is advancing incredibly slowly and taking long range hits from the rifles. The British light infantry were stunned when the militia scored 3 hits ( 3x6’s) and again have chosen to retire to rally.

The 71st advance steadily they picked up some disorder crossing the fence line and from the 3 pounder but not enough to cause concern.

The Guards are pushing up the road and to their left the 23rd get closer to the enemy line.

Greene orders the militia from the second line to advance in order to cover the anticipated retreat of the first line and cover the flanks.

Bound 5 and all hell breaks loose

Using half of his available command points Cornwallis orders the 71st to bayonet charge the militia at the fence line, the militia open fire and inflict two hits. 

The militia firing on the 23rd inflict 4 hits and receive 3 in return the rifles fail to cause any casualties but Von Bose inflict one on the rifles and continue their ponderous advance.

In the melee the British throw 15 dice needing 5+ and score 8 hits the militia throw 5 dice and they all hit but they still lose the melee and are driven from the fence, they fail their morale check and retreat inflicting 3 disorder points on the militia unit from the second line.

Bound 6 and the action cranks up, Greene joins a militia unit at the fence line and rallies off 3 disorder points, likewise Cornwallis joins the 1st Guards and rallies off  two.

Tarleton’s cavalry engage with Washington’s and Lee’s horse despite being outnumbered the Americans put up a strong resistance ( 3 hits each) and the cavalry become engaged in melee. 

With a lack of command points to charge the British infantry volley fire wherever they can, the 23rd inflict 4 hits for 1 in return the Guards inflict 3 hits for one in return however the militia are taken over 5 disorder points and lose a base they fail their morale and retreat from the fence. They inflict 3 disorder on the militia unit accompanied by Greene which inflicts a base loss on them. Greene is safe and his presence holds the militia in place.

The 71st lining the fence volley fire on the militia unit accompanied by Lawson 9 hits! They receive 2 in return, Lawson is seriously wounded and falls to the ground and the militia fail their morale retreating 12 inches and lose two bases. 

On the British left the 33rd have continued to advance and the Jaegers now rallied are moving back in support 

Von Bose on the right seems to be lacking drive.

Bound 7 and Cornwallis is desperate for a breakthrough he needs a little more time to bring the second guards and Grenadiers into line to push through the center. 

However the action this turn is on the British left, the 33rd fire a volley onto Stevens militia and inflict a base loss, Stevens falls from his horse dead. However the militia return fire with that from the rifles cause a base loss on the 33rd they throw 3 dice and fail! They must retreat and in doing so give the recently rallied Jaegers 3 points of disorder! 

The 23rd and the Guards fire on the militia despite taking more hits Greene avoids being hit and continues to hold them at the fence line although he now realises he must move for his own safety, 

The cavalry melee continues but this time Tarleton’s inflicts 4 hits for no loss the rebel cavalry have taken 50% casualties and break, Tarleton’s manages to hold his men in check . The sight of the fleeing cavalry places 3 disorder on the rifles.

Von Bose and the Virginia rifles continue to exchange ineffective fire.

Bounds 8 and 9 

Greene had been advancing the continental infantry forward in anticipation of the collapse of the militia and in the hope he could hit the British before they recovered, Huger and his Virginians had advanced further than the Marylanders and they now found themselves in the front line.

Greene had left the last militia unit at the fence line and they now found themselves charged by the 23rd it came as no surprise that the 23rd won but they were lucky out of 15 dice thrown they got two hits but the militia failed to score any so they retreated from the fence and handed the position to the 23rd

The jaegers fire on Hugers continentals and score 3 hits for 1 in return on the right flank the Rifles eventually seek to withdraw as they have no way of reforming being so far forward so eventually Von Bose can advance.

Bound 10 final bound

Tarleton’s had been cautiously advancing his horse round to the left and suddenly found himself with the opportunity to charge the Rifles which he did, receiving two hits on the way in.

In the centre the Guards volley  fire on the Continentals and inflict 5 hits ( base lost) but morale good, they return fire 4 hits. To their right the 71st fire on the militia and the 3 pounder they inflict 5 hits on the militia but their morale holds and the 3 pounder takes a hit. Von Bose has eventually advanced and putting pressure on the Rebel left flank.

In the melee Tarleton’s men ride down the rifles for no loss and are now behind the lines.

Game over.

One of my bases is equal to 2 LFD bases and the count at the end was 22 bases lost by the Rebels ( 5 Rifles, 3 cavalry, 13 militia and 1 continental) 

British lost 5 bases (1cavalry and 4 line)

However by scenario design it was only a minor victory as the British failed to secure the road exit! An impossible task I think the designers have totally underestimated the time. Bearing in mind they suggest a 6’ board  the British would have to advance a full move every move to be able to reach the board edge! Maybe 15 bounds.

So overall I found the game enjoyable, I have seen some very mixed reviews but on returning to them it is clear they haven’t read the rules properly on reviewer saying every game ends with everyone charging and in melee. Bearing in mind it costs 4 command points for 1 British infantry unit to conduct a bayonet charge and 3 command points for anyone else to charge impossible!

So trading movement the best course of action is volley fire but regular on regular will be bloody!

The main issue I have at the moment is the lack of clarity on retreat/ routs, my assumption on the absence of anything else is that after retreating/ routing the unit is able to receive orders now this will result in more command points being used as when units retreat etc they will invariably end up outside of brigade integrity (3”) but it does mean in theory units can fight until the last man and I’m not keen on that so I need to give some thought.

Otherwise I’m pleased with the rules and with the ‘tweaks’ I made, they’re flexible enough to create special rules as and when required the command points system works well and the additional brigadiers whilst making it easier to rally off some disorder it comes at a cost. Likewise using good commanders to join a unit to rally off disorder is very effective but it invariably leaves them exposed. Greene was a very lucky man.

Sorry it’s been a long report but I wanted to try and give a feel for the game play and my thoughts