Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Adventures of Francois Gaston de Levis : French Indian War 1756

Looking to play a bit more M&T this year so having completed the French Infantry I have been looking for a setting for playing scenarios. The more I have read about the war the less and less convinced I am by the ruthless antics of the Colonial British, this gives me the benefit that I can play either side without feeling any undue favour. 

Throughout 1755 the British under Nova Scotia's Governor Charles Lawrence ordered the forcible deportation of the French Speaking Acadian population. The dirty work was carried out by one Colonel Monckton whose force included the often less than scrupulous Robert Rogers and his Rangers. Often portrayed as a kind of rough diamond British hero a number of atrocities were committed by him in the name of the crown.This then is a perfect setting for some scenarios. 

Our Hero Francois Gaston, Chevalier de Levis has just arrived in the Colony bringing French regular reinforcements. Rogers has got wind of a group of Acadians seeking refuge at a nearby settlement with the intent of capturing them, of course if there is a fight he won't hesitate to kill them off implicating the local Natives as the culprits. Francois has taken a small party of allied Ottawan Indians to protect the village whilst the French regular infantry is being brought up. Rogers on the other hand is throwing his Rangers, some allied Mohawks and a small company of British regulars at the village.

(we rolled the scenario from the Muskets and Tomahawks rule book, together with a secret side plot each........please note I failed my French O'level, yes that long ago....)

The story begins ; the Acadian Civilians are in two groups and once the alarm is given they start to make their way to the church, the Ottawa Indians take up defensive positions around the village. As soon as the Rangers come into view the Ottawa left rip. The Rangers weren't expecting this and one group immediately fall back to consider their options.
Ottawan Indians protecting the village 
The woods to the north of the village give the Rangers excellent cover and they can remain out of sight as long as they don't fire (in M&T as soon as you fire with a black powder weapon you are much easier to spot and shoot at) Francois Gaston can be seen at the far side of the church keeping one eye on his Allies and the other over his shoulder for the French reserves.

Civilians scurrying for cover in the church
Rogers has also persuaded some local British Militia to tag along, not through any great loyalty to the Crown but no doubt looking for ill gotten spoils.

Local Milita are also helping the British
The British allied Mohawks have made their way forward to the rocks in the foreground but are reluctant to charge in! without firm orders from Rogers but he is nowhere to be seen ? (more of that later I think)

Allied Mohawks seem reluctant to engage ?
The Indians in the church yard come under fire from the woods so they are able to start exchanging fire but at this long range muskets are fairly ineffective and casualties are minor.

Allez allez mon amis - the civilians make themselves scarce
At the other end of the village there are mixed fortunes, the Mohawks have temporarily lost their nerve pulling back into the woods but the slow moving British regulars have now come into range, Load.....Aim......FIRE !!!!! a devastating volley at Ottawa close to the Barn who are wiped out to a man. (the white balls of fluff are used to represent black powder weapons so you know who needs to reload)

Mon suis mort!
Things are now starting to look uncertain for Francois and the Acadians, the regular infantry has still not arrived, his allied Indians in the Church yard are gradually being pushed back. He calls the other Indians back towards the Church to make a potentially heroic last stand. Whilst good in combat the Indians armed with bows have been hampered upto now with strong winds. (we rolled several special events during the game this being just one of them)

Last stand in the Church yard ?
From the other end of the village you can see how bad things are, the Militia, the Regulars and Rangers are all on the outskirts of the village and the Civilians almost undefended. (I was at this stage starting to worry that the newly painted French Regulars might not even turn up in their first battle !) 

But wait a minute are those the strains of Le Marseillaise (of course not this is pre revolutionary France so we will have to assume they come on with a shouted Bonjour Salute !!)

Not looking good for the Acadians !
In the nick of time a large company of French regular Infantry arrive from the south. The Militia have already caught and killed one of the civilians, the rest are literally fleeing for their lives.

juste a temps !
Let them have it lads or ils ne l'aiment pas jusqu'a eux (ok i used google for this) The regulars buy just enough time for the civilian to get away.

ils ne l'aiment pas jusqu'a eux
But it isn't over yet at the church the Rangers have attacked the remaining Ottawa defenders in hand to hand combat, although the natives give as good as they get they are outnumbered, and the Rangers are close to getting into the church where the other civilians are hiding.

"defend our French brothers and sisters to the last man" 
Luckily the British Regulars are too slow to make a difference in the combats around the church and the Indians who are "elite and savage" manage to hold the rangers whilst paying with their own lives. Although extra time was threatening, darkness fell at this point bringing the battle to a close. Francois had managed to save all but one of the Acadians but at the cost of many allied Indian lives....this may well give problems of loyalty in the future. The Rangers slunk off into the darkness of the woods.

Francois embraces his countrymen
But somehow when they got back to the depot Inn they claimed a draw.....what ? Muskets and Tomahawks allows both sides to have a secret side plot and in the case of Rogers his had been to finish the battle without having been spotted by the enemy, apparently he is not adverse to disguising himself and working as a spy behind french lines. This is why we hadn't seen him during the battle and he had stayed well back in the woods !

Overall then a draw.........and good fun, We hope to be back in Nova Scotia soon but it may be a while with some significant VBCW projects in the pipeline more of that soon.

Dragon Rampant : Chaos vs Knights of the Golden Griffin

I wonder how many people got Dragon Rampant over Christmas a lot I guess. We finally managed to get it out and some fantasy figures on the table. Luckily we have a lot to choose from and having checked the points we decided on a 32 point battle to start with....this would be quite a lot in Lion Rampant but didn't seem to translate to the horde I was expecting.

It did make me want to try and stretch the fantasy theme rather than role out the strongest combination I could think of. So I picked a fully mounted retinue with the nominal title the Knights of the Golden Griffin.
Knights of the Golden Griffin ride forth
My retinue consisted of a Lord (elite rider) with a special rule avoiding wild charges, A griffin warbeast (Greater Warbeast) although he has a rider this didn't count as anything. Three Griffin Knights (elite riders with fear). A unit of 6 Heavy Knights and a unit of 6 cavalry with ranged weapons (pistols in this case).

They were up against a Chaos Warrior army (see Paul's Hobby Horse blog for more details). Our first scenario saw us play the Defender of the Ring scenario where the Knights had captured a secret magic item this was hidden on one unit and this had to be protected at all cost. Quite a fun scenario which ended in a draw. Our second scenario was more challenging and probably less balanced with the knights protecting a central cross.

Defenders of the cross
This felt and turned out to be almost impossible for the knights to win, although to give them their due the game only finally turned on a failed test by my lord. Overall the game is really just a tweek on LR in fact the strength points approach is something we had already played with Lord of the Rings figures some time ago. I used the fly special rule for my Griffin and wondered if there is an error in the rule book as it appears to give almost no practical benefit ? The game does offer a chance to get small collections of fantasy figures on the table, I think if we play again we would move up to 40 Points. Slightly underwhelming for me.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Grunts and Martians : trying something new

Every now and then it is good to try something different so a mate brought round two new games/systems to try out. Stargrunts is apparently quite big in America it has been around for a while with I think the original rules being written in the 90's or before. Based on roughly 28mm scale figures it is a near future/Scifi squad/skirmish game. It has a feel of 40K but without the aliens, at least we didn't play with Aliens and I don't remember seeing them in the rule book.

We have played a couple of taster games to get the hang of the rules. The interesting and novel (well for me anyway) bit in the rules is the use of a range of different dice D4, D6, D8, D10 and D12 to provide the modifiers and the element of chance. Once you get your head around it, it is quite a neat idea but i have no idea if it is mathematically sound ? So the idea is if your armour save is say D8 but you are in cover you roll a D10 and if you are lying down a D12.

The game is squad based but includes vehicles as well although we have only experimented with these. Apparently you can still buy the stuff and the figures are quite good.

We have also had a couple of games of Martian Attack this is the newly released Martian invasion game by Mantic having played Deadzone a few times it is easy to pick up as the basic rules are the same. Quite fun and not a bad little game...

Home made board (obviously)

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

West Cumberland Naval Horse Artillery ? : VBCW

 Now that sounds very grand and unlikely .......... but some of the local fishermen and merchant sailors from the west coast have formed themselves into auxiliary gunnery units. Having found an old WW1 13pdr these guys have hitched the horses used to pull their fishing boats up the beach and headed inland to support the Albertine cause.

The gun and limber are Great War miniatures the figures are Northstar pulp.

Monday, 18 January 2016

French Indian War Infantry

I have had these French infantry on the to do list for ages. They have proved a real challenge to complete......sometimes you just loose the mojo on a particular project. Anyway apart from touching up the bases they are done.

They look very bright in the picture but are less so in real life. I have seen several different uniform types for the period, so these are somewhat generic. I definitely feel a raid in the woods in in order. Figures are Redoubt and AW minatures.

I do need to make a decision about the bases as I have held off on all my French Indian collection, I will have to find something simple ?

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Operation Blau : Battle for Gorshechnoye June 1942

It feels like it has been a slow start to the year wet then cold weather and too much work. It doesn't mean I haven't been doing stuff just not as focused or as regular with the blogs.

Enough of the excuses we managed to play our third and concluding Operation Blau scenario the battle for Gorshechnoye. If you scan down the blog you can see the overall campaign map.

Here we have General Vasily A Mishulin's 4th Tank Corps attempting to block the path of the 24th Panzer Division under Rudolf Veiel. I haven't been able to track down much info on the battle so this is a somewhat speculative scenario.

The Russians have dug in around the town of Gorshechnoye and the railway running through it. We played an assault scenario from the Blitzkreig Commander rulebook giving the German Panzer Division 50% more points than the defending Russians.

The Germans have three mixed Tank Battalions supported by Divisional heavy assets Stug III's and PzJr assault guns. They are also supported by a mobile anti-tank battalion with Pak 38's. There objective is to get beyond the town and into the last third of the battlefield, a major victory if they can get off the table. The Russians have two Tank brigades with T34's, BT7's and T26's. A lone KV1 and an attached Anti-tank Regiment. The challenge during set was immediately apparent for the Russian commander with so much wide open space how would they block the path of the German Blitzkrieg.

Gorshechnoye sits in the centre of the Battlefield
German Panzers start their advance
Whilst the Russians dug in close to the road the Panzers spread out with the clear intention of forcing a flank if possible.
Despite best efforts Panzers on the left park up in the trees !
As soon as the range closed the Russians opened fire and the first pall of smoke rises into the sky.
The German left flank immediately received confusing orders, failing a command role and stalled in the trees.
Battle joined
Whilst the Germans could make some use of the isolated fields they had to break cover to reach their objective. Concentrated fire started to slow the advance on the right flank. Only the Anti-tank Regiment charged forward, dangerous outstripping their armour. Reaching the Town they choose to unlimber and take up a watching position.

Still no movement on the left flank ! arrghhh
View form the South, behind Russian lines
As the Russian T34's sharpened their range Germans tanks started to take more and more direct hits, slowing the advance but also knocking out whole companies. A brutal this point the Russian Centre took the bold move to break cover from the relative safety of the woods overlooking the town to support their left wing
Casualties beginning to mount
At this stage it was clear with casualties mounting that both sides were likely to reach their break points, the question was who could hold on longest. Finally the the German left flank received the correct orders and began to move, threatening to encircle the town. But the Russians had already committed their limited reserves.

German left flank advances at last !
With very limited opposition the German left flank is able to make good progress and anti-tank regiment now redeployed a second time is able to bring some flanking fire into the woods.

Germans begin to encircle the town 
But at this stage casualties have really started to mount up on both sides. As the remaining Russian armour desperately holds on the Germans reach break point first but good leadership counts for everything and they stay in the fight. The Germans have one final wobble with a command blunder sending the wrong orders the the Anti-tank regiment causing them to head in the wrong direction !
Russians are finally broken !
Luckily it was not to be decisive as during the same turn the Russians reach breaking point as well, but with lower leadership and obviously concerned about being surrounded they pull out of the battle. So hasty is their retreat in the end they abandon some of their winter clothing !

A great end battle to the the min-campaign with both armies reaching breaking point in the same turn. We are going to skip forward to 1943 Kursk for our next campaign.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Manor House : VBCW & IHMN

Finally it has stopped raining (for a bit anyway) so I have managed to get a proper start at my Christmas toys. I decided to attack the Manor house to start !

I am pretty happy with the outcome.....but it was hard work. It is a Sarissa kit and really well made but probably too much internal detail for me, so at this stage I haven't painted inside. As usual I have redone the roof so it matches all my other 28 mm buildings. Scale wise it is a bit small especially compared to the warbases buildings which I have but I can live with this as I expect the Manor house will normally be on its own rather than in the village/town.

The Earl of Lonsdale has already taken up residence to give you an idea of scale.