Friday, 20 March 2020

'Shall Not the Roundhead Soon be Confounded?'

The Battle of Edgehill, 1642

View from behind the left of the Parliamentarian line, with the village of Radway in the distance.

Will brought in his Jacobite Rebellion paper army to our local club in February, and along with them the rules for 'Rebels & Patriots' (of the 'Lion Rampant' school of thought).

This motivated me to modify the rules for fighting a big battle with my own 2mm nano-scale English Civil War collection. This I did, and hosted the same at the Trumpeter's Gaming Society in March.

Below is an account of the resulting the Battle of Edgehill (1642) re-fight, with myself as umpire and with Ian, Chris and Gary kind enough to give it a try.

A big shout-out to Will for lending me his camera!

The armies deployed, as seen from the Royalist right. Radway village sits in the middle of Royalist position, while the village of Edgehill sits on the heights to the left.  

In brief:

The Parliamentarians won a protracted cavalry battle on their right and followed up with their infantry in the centre. The Royalist Brigades of Foot eventually gave way after a long fight, thus leaving Rupert's Cavalry wing isolated.

The cavalry on the Parliamentarian left were strangely inactive throughout the battle, but Rupert's Royalist Horse could not come to gripes with them (lots of bad activation dice rolling by poor Rupert!). And while Parliament's left were pushed back as far as the town of Kineton, the Royalist could do nothing to exploit this by battle's end.

The centre of the Royalist position as seem from the village of Edgehill on the heights behind it.

Wilmot commands the Royalist left.

Prince Rupert can make no headway on the Royalist right. The visually devastating die makes a good status marker at this scale. The white clot on Rupert's command stand is his 2mm devil-dog, 'Boye'.

Meanwhile Parliament's right regroups...

Parliament's left stands firm. Ballard's regiments of foot have gone into 'hedgehog'.

The Royalist right and centre collapse.

A strange episode from the battle: With his left threatened, King Charles led his last reserve -- the Gentlemen Pensioners -- in an attack on some Parliamentarian Horse. He routed Fielding's Regiment from the field... and then pursued them off to the far left, thus abandoning his army! Did he think, in smoke-filled swirl of battle, think that he was charging into the heart of the enemy position? Or did he think that his army was done for and decided to do a runner? Or did he simply loose his tiny 2mm mind?

Last moves: Ian seals off the what's left of the Royalists, and with them their fate. With their left gone, along with four of their five infantry brigades (and Charles himself!), Rupert throws in the towel.

Game was a chess-like and interesting one that kept everyone engaged. Once again, these rules proved impressive for their flexibility and simplicity.  Thanks to Ian (Essex), Chris (King Charles/Rupert), and Gary (Ramsay) for taking part.

So,was the Roundhead confounded? Not this time! Below is the Royalist recruiting song that the title of this blog posting was taken from:

What, though the zealots pull down the prelates,
Push at the pulpit, and kick at the crown;
Shall we not never once more endeavour,
And strive to purchase our ancient renown?
Shall not the Roundhead soon be confounded?
Sa- sa- sa- say, boys; ha- ha- ha- hey, boys,
Then we'll return with triumph and joy!
Then we’ll be merry, drink claret and sherry;
Then we will sing, boys, ‘God Bless the King!’ boys,
Cast up our caps, and cry, ‘VIVE LE ROY!’

What, though that ‘wise-ache’ Alderman Isaac
Puts us in prison and steals our estates;
Though we be forcèd to be un-horsèd,
And walk on foot as it pleaseth the fates;
In the King's army no man shall harm ye!
Then come along, boys, valiant and strong, boys,
Fight for your goods, which the Roundheads enjoy!
And when you venture London to enter,
And when you come, boys, with pike and drum, boys,
Isaac himself shall cry, ‘VIVE LE ROY!’

If you should choose Charles (do not refuse Charles,
Since ‘honest Parliament' ever were thieves!),
Charles will not further have rogues dripped in murder,
Neither by pardons, long life, or reprieves;
Such propositions and conditions
Will not be granted. Then be not daunted!
We will our honest old customs enjoy!
St. Paul's, now rejected, shall be respected,
And in the choir, voices sing higher,
Thanks be to heaven, and cry, ‘VIVE LE ROY!’

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Forest Bathing

In keeping with the 'Season of Good Will' and all that, I thought I would post something of a peaceful nature.

One of my presents this Xmas was a book called 'Forest Bathing'. The basic idea is that immersing yourself in a sea of green will do you a power of good. (Well, a walk in the woods never harmed anyone -- apart from Varus's legions -- so why not?)

Apparently even some green in your work place is good for you, so my wife put together a small Bonsai arrangement for my office desk. I supplied a 28mm Japanese peasant in order to add some character, and what you see is the result.

The figure is from a 28mm Essex miniatures set of Heian era villagers which I bought for my Ronin Wars collection in order to spice it up. See below:

28mm Essex Heian period. Front row L to R: Rotten Little Kid, Harassed Mother, Woman with Attitude, Lord & Lady. Rear  row L to R: Two Working Stiffs, Woman with Load, Old Man.

The set also includes four additional (unpainted) figures which are not shown.


Sunday, 27 October 2019

New Collection: An Impulse Buy

I've mentioned before in this blog the wisdom of the old-timers' saying: "Choose your period, and stick to it", and how impossible that is, for me at least. I blame this, in part, on all the fabulously illustrated, and often cheap, rules that are available these days -- to say nothing of the new figures that are on offer.

Here is a classic example:

While browsing in the bookstore a couple of years ago I came across a new set of Osprey Wargames rules, Broken Legions: Fantasy Skirmish Wargames in the Roman Empire.

Never mind that I'm not really into fantasy gaming. Never mind that I didn't own any figures to support this thing. I had to have them, didn't I? And they were so cheap! So home they came, in a moment of pure madness. And I suspect that my fellow gamers have many such moments.

I explained this to fellow-gamer JohnA one game night.

"You bought what?" he asked, wide-eyed.

"Ancient Roman fantasy skirmish rules."

"What the *$#%* are 'Ancient Roman fantasy skirmish rules'?"


Flash forward a couple of years to another game night at Trumpeters. DougH brought in about two dozen 28mm Marian Romans along with four dozen Gauls for the sales table. Price? Eighteen bucks, Canadian. My mind flashed back to those rules I had sitting on my bookshelf, and out came my wallet. 

So, what you see here is the result of a couple of weeks painting (I'm not sure what manufacturer they are).

My new 28mm Romans. If you think that the rules intend to represent one man per fig, then what you see are three contubernia (eight man sections), each led by a Decanus, and overall by a Centurian.  If you think that ten men per fig is more appropriate, then the above are a group of three centuries led by a Primus Pilus ('Top Kick' Centurian) or a Tribune.

Gauls. (Who let them in?)

Above is an illustration by Alan Lathwell from page 16 of Mark Latham's Broken Legions (Latham, Mark, Broken Legions : Fantasy Skirmish Wargames in the Roman Empire, Osprey Publishing, 2016, p.16). 

Here's my recreation of the above illustration from the rules. Since I don't own any Wulfkind figs, my Grendel figure had to fill in.  

Bottom line? I'm probably not going to use Broken Legions at all! More likely, I'll use a modified form of Ronin. Like I said, I'm not really a fantasy gamer.


Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Gettysburg Revisited

The divisions of Syke's V Corps moving northwards towards Gettysburg. 

If you've seen the previous post, you'll know that I've made up some 6mm ACW armies to fight big battles with small figs, "in the grand style".

These I took in to our latest monthly Bonsor game night, where Chris (Union), Doug (A.P. Hill & Longstreet) and Gary (Lee & Ewell) were kind enough to give it a try.

Here's the vain pitch I made on our club website:

"Yep, three days of Gettysburg in three hours at Bonsor. 'Bonnie Blue Flag!' home brew big battle rules have been specifically written to accommodate our game night limitations, and these will hopefully allow us to finish the darned battle!  They feature command & control, big operational moves, and fast combat on a 14 by 12 mile table top. Longstreet's dream flanking move to the right and Custer's cavalry battle on the 'East Field' are now do-able. Lots of commands are available, and late arriving corps are there for late joiners."

Well, it didn't go three days, for a start. The end of the first day was the best we could manage -- just four turns and a night phase. That's the bad news.

The good news is that just about everything else worked really well. The players appeared engaged, and really seemed to enjoy what was going on, even if the blood-letting on this July 1st was pretty minor. There were even two or three spectators who were engrossed, as if watching a movie, which I guess is a good sign.

A view of the central part of the field, from the west. Chris's moves his troops up the slopes of Little Round Top. 

What happened, in brief:

Ewell and A.P. Hill moved in on Gettysburg from the north and west, as per the script. But this particular Union Cavalry commander, Buford (AKA Chris), was having none of it, and immediately retreated all the way back to Culp's Hill! That ended any historical resemblance right there (but that's what wargaming's all about isn't it? Why play, otherwise?).  Most of the day was then spent with the Confederates maneuvering to lengthen the Union line in order to create a weak point, while the Bluebellies reinforced ("What? Another Union Corps?" cries Doug. "No, two." says I).

Southern gentlemen pass through Gettysburg.

If you've seen the movie you'll recall the point where the Confederate General complains "Give me one division... one brigade... one regiment, and I will take that hill!" Same here. Gary had a corps of 20,000 men and 90 guns sitting at the foot of Culp's Hill and Little Round Top -- each manned by about 4,000 Union troops -- and refused to move. All afternoon his corps sat, passing on about four opportunities to attack, with fresh Union reinforcements arriving all the while.

The view from the east. Johnny Reb sits at the foot of Little Round Top, which is becoming increasingly infested by Yankees.

Meantime Doug struggled to bring his troops online along the poor road net. Eventually (c. 5:00pm in game time) he found the weak spot he was looking for. The "hinge/elbow" of the Yankee I Corp's exposed left flank was hanging gloriously in the air! with empty heights and an open road to Washington in its rear. Doug threw Anderson's Division and whatever else he could bring to bear at it. But the dice Gods were rather unsympathetic, and a 'Bloody Exchange' was the best he could do.

I'll let Doug explain this inexplicable episode in his own words.

Chris put the seal on Day One with an equally bloody counter-attack in (what else?) 'Bloody Woods'.

Thus ended the game.

One of the reasons I chose to stage this very big battle was because I wanted to see how much I could fit into a single gaming session using my grand tactical rules. I think that one of the reasons we only completed a single day was due to the fact that players were handling very large commands. But if it can work with something this big, it can work with just about anything.

Perhaps something like First Bull Run would be more appropriate?

Thanks to all who showed interest.

The field just prior to the attack of Anderson's Division,
which took place just south of the Wheat Field.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

ACW Armies in Old 6mm

Trumpeter's, like most gaming societies, has a regular 'Bring and Buy'. On one such game night, a small, pathetic, and forlorn looking box of metal was left totally ignored on the sales table, without even a price on it -- just a "Free! Take 'em!" sign. Inside were old -- very old -- 6mm figures, manufacturer unknown, arranged in strips and blocks.

Well, being club's resident "hair roller freak" I couldn't pass these up, so I claimed them.

On close inspection these turned out to be a half-painted collection of Napoleonics, French vs. Russians. Not badly painted at all; brass plates on the shakos, clearly defined Grenadiers of the Guard, etc. But the painter had given up halfway through.

I left them in their box, as some project to be taken up later.

I turned my mind to them now and then, trying to think what I could make of them, for they presented some problems. Any project would have to conform to strict criteria:

  • They didn't match any of the 6mm figures that I own. The difference in scale between 6mm can be very dramatic, and that between these and my mostly Irregular Miniatures collections is greater than that between 15mm and 28mm!
  • There was no way that I could augment what I had on hand -- they were what they were. 
  • I had to make efficient use of all of them, or the remainder would be wasted. 

At first I thought of finishing the Napoleonics paint job, but my painting would invariably not match  the original, and besides, I already have quite a large Napoleonics collection in 2mm 'nano' scale.

Then I thought of painting them up for the Crimean War, but to my mind that period is best suited to 15mm, at the smallest.

Then I remembered an old idea that I had been toying with for some time: an operational/grand tactical collection for the ACW.

"What for?" said fellow gamer Chris. "You've already got a 6mm Civil War collection!" True, but those figs. are really closer to 10mm, and only work for up to Corps level actions using something like 'Fire & Fury'.

What I was thinking of was something on the grand scale, where great, multi-day battles could be fought with sweeping moves on a large table. (We'll get to rules later, but the general idea of scale is one unit represents a brigade, six inches to the mile, and four hour turns.)

So, shown here are some shots of what I've done with those freebies (click to enlarge).

Several Corps of the Army of the Potomac, seen head on.

The Army of the Potomac, 1863

Above is the Army of the Potomac, with the First, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Eleventh and Twelfth Infantry Corps left to right. On the extreme right are the Artillery Reserve and the Cavalry Corps.

Each stand represents a brigade, and has a standard one-inch width. Colour-coded magnetic labels, containing unit ID and game information, are mounted on the rear of the stands. These can be easily changed to reflect different OBs. The unit colours are scratch-made: printed flags mounted on reinforced wine bottle foil, and then varnished.

Below is the Army of Northern Virginia, with, left to right, Longstreet's I Corps, Ewell's II Corps, A.P. Hill's III Corps, and J.E.B. Stewart's Cavalry.

The Army of Northern Virginia, 1863

 Left is a snip of the command stand for the Army of Northern Virginia, showing Bobby Lee himself atop Traveler, and escorted by assorted staff flunkies.

Here's the command stand for Longstreet's I Corps. Left to right are Lt-Col. Freemantle (Coldstream Gds.), Maj.Sorrel, Gen. Longstreet, and the scout Harrison.


Friday, 22 February 2019

'Busted Drum' Unit Status Markers

Featured are a couple of photos of shot up drum unit status markers.

As a general rule I tend to use things like poker chips, beads, etc. etc, as markers, but I could no longer stand up to scorn inflicted by fellow gamers. So I produced some busted drums from the bits box.

The War of the Spanish Succession kit from Wargames Factory gives you about a million of them. The drums come in two halves, one half of which has the drummer's arm holding the drum. The arm was cut away with a utility knife, which left a gaping hole in the side of the drum.  This simply adds to the 'shot up with grape' look.

I thought I might have to toss the superfluous arms, but in fact they held up quite well, and can still be used as arms in slings, or whatever.

The bases are also from Wargames Factory kits.

I was thinking of heating up a pin and poking grapeshot holes into the drums, but decided against it!

Monday, 7 January 2019

The Battle of Long Sault Revisited

(Photo by DougH.)

DougH kindly offered to host a game at his abode this last Friday, and since there was nothing definite on offer, I volunteered to bring in my 17th Century Iroquois versus New France collection: specifically, the 1660 Battle of Long Sault. Participants were JimF, PeterM, DougH, and myself.

This was a game I ran previously at Trumpeter's Salute 2017. (You can click here for the scenario description and details on how it ran on that occasion.)

Luck of the draw had Peter and Doug as the Iroquois, with Jim as poor Dollard,
leading his motley band of freebooters. Jim had to go it alone for most of the game, as I (who also ran the game) was tasked with marching to his relief with a company of Regulars.

In brief:

  • The Iroquois sprang the trap on Dollard's boys, catching most of them in the open.
  • Jim decided to put up a fight then and there -- which lead to the death of most, and the group's resident Jesuit taking to the deep, dark, and Iroquois infested wood with a  handful of followers. (End of game for the Holy Father, but maybe a good skirmish scenario using Jim's new Woodlands Indian collection?)
  • Jim's scattered remains make it back to the stockade, and manage to hold out thanks to an unreasonable amount of luck. Witness: multiple activation failures by Peter and Doug; an Iroquois band -- which made it through the still open gate -- being expelled; numerous unsuccessful assaults on the walls; etc., etc.
  • The Regulars finally march to Dollard's relief (Turn 17!). He and his last two remaining compatriots run to safety, abandoning their fort to the Iroquois -- who burn it out of spite.

So, victory to Jim (I can't claim any), but on reflection I think that the Iroquois were robbed!

Thanks to all, esp. to Doug, who helped supply the (better looking) photos, below.

 Dollard et. al. hold out in the stockade (photo by Doug).

An intruding warband overstay their welcome and are evicted (photo by Doug).

Ah! but Peter's Iroquois sneak 'round the back ...

The Regt. Carignan-Salieres arrive at last! 

The mighty stockade is left to the depredations of the irritated Iroquois.

Some of Peter's overly excited warriors.