Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Not very sharpe recollections

"ee by gum 'arper get the lads in the back rank to run about a
a bit to fool the frogs 'int thinking we're a whole battalion!"
In my early teens I borrowed a copy of The Recollections of Rifleman Harris from the local library. Back then (in the dawn of time) this was one of the very few books on the Napoleonic wars available to the public at large. I’ve never looked at a copy since but my own recollections are that it was quite heavy going because of the 19th century style of prose

Much later in the 90s I very much enjoyed the BBC serialisation of the Sharpe novels although I never got on at all with actually reading them. Sharpe was an excellent programme in its day although it is of course a bit dated now. The early episodes did suffer somewhat from a lack of extras in the battle scenes but the spirit of the Napoleonic wars seemed to shine through. Perhaps it’s time for a remake with CGI?

My own version of the 95th rifles has now been made up to 24 figures and completed in line with my other units. I think they look quite smart and the 6 figures I recently painted blend in well with the original 18 figures painted by Matt G. All the figures in this unit are vintage Hinton Hunt ones that I assembled from different sources over the last ten years. They’re just waiting now for a chance to go over the hills and far away.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Muskets & Marshals – the final cut

Following the last game I decided it was time to get around to revising my rules Muskets & Marshals to incorporate various ideas, suggestions and clarifications since the version we used for Vintage Waterloo. The updated rules don’t include any radical new ideas being more of a tweak to iron out a few glitches and hopefully facilitate game play. To view or print the rules click here.

For those of you who have tried the rules before I’ve summarised the main changes below:

Movement
There is a reduction in line movement rate to 4”.

Reserve Movement
The non-initiative player moves his reserves first to give an advantage to the initiative player.

Counter-Charging
Counter-charging cavalry now receive the melee charge bonus.

Melee
An infantry unit that loses a melee against charging cavalry immediately breaks and routs – added “but not if it is an un-disordered square”. A unit losing 2 consecutive melees will rout unless defending a BUA

Multiple Melee – this is defined as follows: All melees are fought one on one during the initial turn of fighting regardless of formation. In the subsequent round a second unit may join with a flank or rear attack although this unit will not receive a charge bonus. The player with two units rolls the dice for his lowest rated unit of the pair plus 2 extra dice.

Morale
Introduction of a -1 for troops receiving fire from close range British volley fire (a volley is defined as 12 figures firing at a single target). This is to give British troops a good reason to fight in line and not just because the Duke keeps losing!

Pursuit
Becoming disordered after a pursuit is now on a die roll rather than automatic. A pursuing unit coming into contact with another enemy unit will melee but without a charge bonus.

Built up Areas
These are now properly defined in the rules. Up to half of the occupants of a BUA may fire from any side of the BUA (replaces the rule that 12 figures may fire). There is now a limit of 24 to the number of troops who may fire into a BUA.

Troops Types
I have extended the listings to include all the types in play. These can of course be varied by scenario if desired.

Mass Battles Rules – Firing I have removed this section as to my knowledge it has not been used in any of the large battles we have played.

Thanks to Stuart, Goya and Roy for their input.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

More recruits for the 95th

You may recall that Matt G painted some British rifles for me a couple of years ago as part of the big push for Vintage Waterloo. In fact we had so many rifles available when the great day dawned that there wasn’t enough room in the sandpit for them. Consequently they have seen very little action having only recently made their debut at the Battle for the Road.

These extra six figures will bring the unit up to full 24 figure strength and hopefully help to ensure their participation in future games. I had a slight problem trying to match the green of their uniforms to the green that Matt had used but I’m happy enough with the result now. I just need to rebase the whole lot to my light infantry standard system and then my rebasing project will be complete.

You will no doubt have noticed the batch of Prussian gunners lurking behind them. These have been cleaned up ready to receive black undercoat and there are enough of them to make up another three artillery batteries. We can blame Goya for this.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

At Talavera we stole Boney’s eagle (not this time you didn’t!)

Yesterday Tony, Goya and I convened in the drawing room at châteaux Foy to refight the battle of Talavera on Tony’s sumptuous wargame table. Tony had devised a clever three way player mechanism for C&CN that enabled each of us to have an independent command. Goya took the part of Arthur Wellesley, Tony played Cuesta and I took on the mantle of Marshal Victor (I thought the name sounded promising).

Tony’s clever system meant that I was able to play two cards per turn allowing me far more coordination than I would have had in a regular game of C&CN. The allies also played two cards but frustratingly for them it was only one each and in differing sectors of the table making it much more difficult to coordinate actions. The result was a French victory in a game that was neck and neck right to the last turn.

The drawing room at chateaux Foy (note the radiogram on
the dresser).
This is Cuesta at Talavera issuing his one and only
order "Hurry up and wait lads!"
"I think we should move away from this tree it seems to attract
French cannon fire, perhaps over there?"
I managed to assemble a decent force of cavalry on my right
flank and they were instrumental in the eventual French victory.
That's me, Marshal Victor, next to the King of Spain (on the
white horse).
French infantry massing in the centre of the field. It takes time
to organise a big attack in C&CN but the ability to play 2 cards
per turn certainly helped things along.
My plan was to feint in front of Talavera to prevent Cuesta from
sending troops to reinforce Wellesley. It worked like a dream
although perhaps Cuesta never had any intention of helping
the British out!
The attack in the centre finally gets underway. Each of those
hill hexes across the stream are worth 1VP to me if I can
occupy them.
The fighting fizzles out in front of Talavera although the
Spanish did make a couple of local counter-attacks.
A view from the British left flank. The 15th chasseurs (bottom right)
have just seen off 2 enemy units and captured one of the hill hexes.
These lads definitely qualified for 'man of the match' and were
still on the field at the end of play.
One of Tony's splendid units, Les Higgins figures I think.
I managed to bring up some heavy cavalry to support my left
flank whilst gradually moving some of the infantry there
towards the centre to reinforce my main attack.
This cavalry clash was an exciting affair of to and fro eventually
resulting in a big fro for the British who were wiped out.
Late in the afternoon and there is not a single British soldier left on the
ridge. I'd like to say this was a clever tactic employed by Wellesley to use
reverse slopes but it had more to do with British troops running away.
With the ridge vacated I was able to exploit the situation by moving
forward and occupying enough hill hexes to win the day.

Thanks to Tony for hosting another truly superb game and to Goya for once again letting his British infantry run away (and also for not pushing me off the Fourth Bridge on the way home as had been suggested in the heat of battle). I’m looking forward to the next one!

 And soon we were transported through hell and its fury
Through smoke and through fire, through shot and through flame
And at Telavera we stole Boney's Eagle
And in that short time we were heroes of Spain

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

More legere time

Having finished the 10th regiment I thought it would be an appropriate time to parade the whole of the French light infantry.

Marshal Grouchy leads the parade of the French legere.
The 9th regiment is the only one that carries an eagle. This is
because they are based for close order action rather
than as skirmishers.
The 10th regiment needs no further introduction.
The combined voltigeurs (with yellow collars!) form line
behind the marshal.

This completes the light infantry for my French army next I need to turn my attention to completing the infantry of the Guard.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

10th legere – updated

The 10th legere have now been expanded into a full 24-figure unit and quite splendid they look in their ‘Noddy’ style uniforms even if I do say so myself. They have also been rebased to my revised light infantry system so they can operate either as skirmishers or as a close order battalion.

The 10th legere deployed in column. The front rank are
shooting to the left because that's the only way I could
get the bases to line up in close order.
The 'Enid Blyton's' prepare to attack. Well I think the
resemblance to Noddy is quite striking but you may not agree.
An impressive and colourful firing line.
The battalion deploying into skirmish order.

I embarked on my light infantry upgrade programme because Roy and I had abandoned the use of skirmishers in our large scale battles and I wasn’t getting to use these units. Ironically, in the recent Battle for the Road the skirmishers proved effective and seemed to add quite a lot of fun to the game. Well, at least now these lads are guaranteed some table time whatever the scenario.

Noddy on his way to barracks.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Somewhere in Belgium

This is the finished Airfix (Dapol) village although I confess I think it is probably ‘somewhere in Surbiton’ rather than Belgium. These kits were of course devised for use with model railways and their original designers may have been horrified if they discovered they became the focus of so many large scale battles during the 60s and 70s.

I actually only ever possessed one cottage and La-Haye-Saint model back then so I’ve enjoyed making these up to provide real estate for my Hinton Hunt’s. The only remaining kit I have to make (eventually) is the windmill which I will be using to provide the emperor with a suitable command post.

These scenic items have been long overdue and I now feel I have enough buildings, trees and hills etc. to properly populate a 6’ x 4’ table.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Saint-a-Mont

This is the finished version of my converted Airfix La-Haye-Sainte model. The building has been cut down in size to give a smaller footprint than Hougo-Sainte although it has been mounted on the same A4 sized base.

The view from the main gate. I gave this model terracotta tiles
rather than grey as these are fitted to the real restored
Hougoumont buildings I visited earlier this year. Not that this
is supposed to represent Hougomont as such.
Aerial view to show the layout. Note the 'impossible to exit
with a farm cart building' (bottom right). The farmer may
have to disassemble his cart everytime he needs to use it.


Gneisenau calmly directs the defence of the farm. He is
confident that even C grade Landwehr can defend the place
as he has a copy of Muskets & Marshals version 6 in his hand.

Achtung, hier kommen die frosche!

I’ve enjoyed making and painting these models and now I just have the village base left to complete.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Brunswick Hussars – updated

The troopers are all BRN/17 Death's Head Hussars charging.
The back row are the figures painted by myself, Tony's are in
the front row including the trumpeter on the white horse.


After our recent battle, as he was packing his soldiers away, Tony unexpectedly offered me his unit of Brunswick Hussars which he claimed to have no further use for. Now I wouldn’t normally accept payment for umpiring a game (well, not after the event anyway) but these were genuine vintage Hinton Hunt castings and already painted to an excellent standard so I said yes please!

This little windfall has meant I have been able to expand my existing 6-figure squadron to a full 12-figure unit which had been on my wish-list for quite a while. Tony’s style of painting and the colours he used have blended in incredibly well with my own figures with just a couple of very minor tweaks. I have to say I am chuffed with the result.

Tony’s troopers included a nicely converted trumpeter and a rather splendid commander figure. The commander is converted from BN/252 Earl of Uxbridge and rides a Les Higgins horse. I will be using this figure to represent Colonel Elias Olfermann who took command of the Brunswick Corps following the death of the Duke of Brunswick at Quatre Bras.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Hougo-Sainte

In the end I decided to spare my old model of La-Haye-Sainte and by performing some modest surgery (cutting off the garden wall) managed to squeeze it onto an A4 sized piece of MDF. The old version can be glimpsed here.

I’ve decided to go with Roy’s A4 system of bases to represent BUA’s rather than base the buildings individually. I haven’t bothered with flock or any fancy stuff and have just given the base an old school simple coat of green matt household paint (B&Q “Sherwood” if you’re wondering).

I plan to have three BUA bases in total and these will be the two farms (Hougo-Sainte and Sainte-a-Mont) and a village base with both cottages and the church (Plance-not). I think this will really be all that I need for the scale of games I’m likely to be playing as I do like to keep a fairly open battlefield.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Battle for the road

Yesterday Tony and Goya came over and we had small game of Muskets & Marshals. As this was the first time Goya had played the rules I thought it best to keep things fairly simple so the terrain was very basic with just a few small hills.

The scenario was also basic, the British were defending a vital road and the French were trying to dislodge them. Tony played the emperor and Goya the Duke of Wellington. I umpired and fed in reserves to each side as and when I felt they were required. Here are the highlights:

"DeLancy, we must hold this vital road and stop Boney in his tracks!"
"Ney, we must take that vital road and knock old hook-nose back to Brussels!"
The French form up in columns and prepare to advance.
In a bold move Tony takes a chance and charges the Cambridgeshires with his lancers. Alten calmly orders them into square and a volley or two sees the Frenchmen off.
Reserves arrive on Wellington's left flank - the Blues & Greys, tough A+ grade troopers.
A view of the table at the end of turn 3. The French are starting to advance although the troops on both sides are still a bit thin on the ground.
The Carabineers and a battery of Guard horse artillery arrive and take up position on a hill dominating the French left flank.
The Nassau Grenadiers were subjected to a continual barrage from two French foot batteries to their front. They stood bravely all day against this fire (perhaps helped by Tony's inability to roll over 3 on a D6).
"Vive le emperor!"
Tony, Goya and myself are all old enough to remember when wargaming was in black and white.
The Swiss and Poles charge home against the Black Watch. The Swiss have taken a lot of casualties (again!) and poor old Picton is down (again!).
The Carabineers get stuck into the British light cavalry, however those hussars on the hill (from Goya's collection) are about to pounce and turn the tables.
Tony assembled a host of cavalry on the right flank but was nervous about charging the solitary unit of Blues & Greys opposite because "they looked hard".
More British reinforcements are arriving (including the naval battalion) but it may be too little too late.
As the Highlanders rout Wellington throws in his reserve heavy cavalry who successfully smash the French columns responsible.
On the other flank though, the Cambridgeshires are routed and...
... so are the Blues & Greys! The road is in French hands, game over.
"Och aye Jimmy it was a near run thing - you tak' the high road and I'll tak' the low one..."

It was great to finally get the Hinton Hunts onto the table again and to give Muskets & Marshals another run out. I think Tony and Goya enjoyed the game and I certainly enjoyed being the umpire so my thanks to them for humouring me.