Friday, 30 August 2019

The Battle of Maida - General d'Armee

I'm not much of a Napoleonic gamer...I get very confused  by who was on who's side at what point and what type of hat were they wearing in 1811 versus 1813.  Napoleonic players seem to take this sort of thing very seriously (especially the hats...).  Most of my knowledge of the period is heavily influenced by Sharpe, Hornblower and Jack Aubrey.

I did play an excellent game of General d'Armee this week however in a refight of the battle of Maida.

GdA is a ruleset published by Too Fat Lardies and written by Dave Brown.  I've previously played a few games of Pickett's Charge which has a lot of similarities, and thoroughly enjoyed them so I was keen to see if the fun factor translated over to the Napoleonic period.  We were refighting the battle of Maida which to be fair I knew nothing isn't in the Sharpe novels so it's out of my reference point.  Thanks to Andrew for doing all the leg work in putting together the order of battle and supplying everything.

The rules operate at the brigade level.  In a given turn brigades may decide to obey orders or become hesitant, in which case they won't advance and are less effective.  The good news is that each turn you get to roll to see how many Aide de Camp's you have available to carry out assorted tasks including making sure the Brigades do what you want.  The bad news is that I was rubbish at rolling for these!

ADCs have other uses as well...they can also help make charges more ferocious, improve artillery fire, make laggardly brigades march a bit quicker etc.   They are also vital in stopping units running away...

Sadly as Brigades are lost you also have fewer ADCs to help shore things up and this quickly became a problem from my British brigades.

The game started well with my better class troops heading for the enemy and I had high hopes of speedily engaging the rather dubious looking Polish troops  and knocking a hole in the French centre.

Unfortunately the French cavalry (I didn't have any but did have some very effective artillery) decided to charge my Line infantry.  That's ok I thought...I've seen Sharpe...form square and see them off or stand in line and blow them away with superior British musket fire.   Unfortunately I failed to get them into square and their musketry was abysmal...

The cavalry chrarge home...

...and the infantry run away!

This in itself wasn't a complete disaster but was quickly followed by other battalions falling back and on my right flank the French routed the Corsican Volunteers and my flank collapsed, leaving the Highlanders isolated and in deep trouble and spelling the end of the game,

Really good rules...easy to pick up...the ADCs (if you get any) make for some interesting options and (quite an important factor) it gives a game that can be easily played through to a conclusion in an evening.  I suspect we'll be playing more of General d'Armee.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

AWI Continentals all done!

Unusually for me I have actually completely worked my way through a box of figures.  My glacial paint rate has sped up over the last few weeks (global warming has certainly felt like it here in London!) and I have speedily painted up 24 Continental Line Infantry and 6 Light Infantry.  I'm planning on using these with the Osprey Rebels and Patriots rules so I reckon if I was to complete another boxful this would give me 4 x 12 man regular units and a 12 man Light unit... oh, and I also have the 10 militia which came free with a copy of Wargames Illustrated a few months ago.  So a decent starting force.  Onto the British box next...

My photo of the 2nd unit seems to have disappeared somewhere!

I've also cannibalised the spare muskets that come in the box to make up some stacked musket idea what I'll use them for...objective markers maybe? (rubbish photo I'm afraid)

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Wilderness Empires #2

I had another chance to play a game of Wilderness Empires this week...scarily I realised it's almost 2 years since this last had an outing.  My last post on it is here and contains a summary of how the game actually works.  Essentially it's a strategic game of the battles for North America pitting the British and their Iroquois allies against the French and a mix of local tribes.

I'd bought the game on a trip back home to Glasgow (at the excellent Static Games).  In fact I'd spotted it on sale in the shop, convinced myself that I didn't need/couldn't afford it, and then immediately kicked myself for not buying itas soon as I got back home!  Luckily I engineered an excuse to go back into Glasgow a couple of days later and it was still there....never pass up an obvious bargain!!!

In the game movement is restricted to preset routes and regular infantry are pretty slow unless they have a decent Commander to lead them.  Militia and Native Americans can move faster

The map from the French side
The combat dice give 3 results...a hit, a miss and a 'Refuse to Fight'.  When this is rolled a Militia or Native American unit withdraws from the fight.  So if your force is composed of irregulars this can be pretty devastating, even if they do come skulking back rather shame-facedly at the end of the fight.

Both sides can also use event cards which can affect combat results but even more usefully can bring in Regular troops and Commanders as reinforcements (as long as you have access to a port).   These Regulars can be in short supply so need to be used carefully

The combat dice

The actual strength of each block is hidden from your opponent

Leader counters and a selection of cards.....really nice artwork by Don Trioani

The Native American villages are represented by cute little buildings
(until the evil British burn them to the ground...)

Montcalm faces off against a very imposing wall of British units...but are they regulars or militia...?
In our game we fought a series of skirmishes over forts in the interior with both sides capturing them and then being driven back.  As the French I found it really hard to get out of my home territory and to take the offensive.  Anthony as the British was driving me back onto Quebec and Montreal but the downside of this was that each winter (the game is played in seasons) the Iroquois and French Native Americans all go home and there is a risk that some of your militia may also head home if they are too far from their farms and villages.  They can move back into combat in the Spring but it does mean you need to think carefully about the timing of your campaigns.

We ended up manoeuvring around each other for several turns fighting minor skirmishes before fighting a couple of large battles around Fort Carillon and Fort Frontenac which left both sides badly depleted.  Although each side still had a core force of regulars the attrition was affecting the French more and I don't think there was any way I'd have been able to do more than postpone the inevitable fall of Quebec. 

Given that the rules are only 8 pages ling this is a surprisingly challenging game that makes you think about timing and manoeuvre in launching your campaigns

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Painting Update - AWI Continentals and GW Contrast paints

So my current enthusiasm for painting seems to be on a bit of a roll at the moment and I have worked my way through my first batch of Warlord AWI Continental Army Infantry.  These seemed much easier to put together than the Militia that I painted the other week (or maybe I was better at following the instructions...)

I've painted up 12 figures...this seems to be the best way for me to work on figures,  More than that and I lose interest quite quickly whereas a dozen or so seems manageable and I feel like I'm getting somewhere.  I can't seem to work well with the assembly line approach that I know others use.

This was also my first attempt at using the new Games Workshop Contrast paints which all the cool kids are talking about.  These are meant to work as both a base coat and a wash, creating shaded areas without the need to use a wash or inks.  The Contrast paints are designed to be used with special GW spray undercoats (of course) but being tight I stuck to my usual Halfords Grey with a white highlight.  As one of the GW sprays is a light grey I figured this wouldn't make any great difference (apart from saving me some money).  I then painted the whole unit using the Ultramarine Blue Contrast paint on the jackets but as an experiment I didn't use a wash on the front rank of the unit (with rifles pointed).  These were given a wash on the face and trousers using my (now very old) set of Citadel Washes but nothing was applied to the blue jackets, only a lighter highlight.

The rear rank figures were also painted with the blue Contrast paint but the figure was highlighted and then shaded with Army Painter Quickshade which is my normal approach

To be honest I'm not sure there's an appreciable difference...I can see that the Contrast paints might be useful if you were working through a large batch of figures in one go but given that I prefer to work in small numbers, using washes etc doesn't really take much time.  I also have a pot of the red Contrast so I will give that a go when I work on the British.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Painting update - AWI Miliitia - done!

Surprising progress on the paint table this week as I actually completed the unit of AWI Militia that I started a couple of weeks ago!  My painting is notoriously slow but, having gotten over the trauma of trying to build the little buggers, I painted them remarkably quickly.  I never knew I had so many shades of brown!

As usual I'm late to the party with the new GW Contrast paints but last week I was on my way back from a meeting and decided to call into The Gamers Guild in Redhill.  I haven't been in there for about 4 years and it was good to see the shop packed  with people playing and painting (admittedly mainly GW Warcry).The shop has been around for several years and has weathered a few bumps along the way but it was good to see they are well stocked with GW and Army Painter paints and a lot of boardgames.  I picked up a few pots of the new Contrast paints to see if the do actually make a difference.

The idea of Contrast is that it acts a bit like a base coat and wash all in one and saves time if you are painting in bulk.  Of course I can't cope with painting more than about a dozen figures at a time so I'm not sure this will make an appreciable difference to my painting but I thought it was an interesting experiment.  I'd assembled 12 AWI Continental Infantry as my next batch so I will try out the paints on their blue jackets and on the British Redcoats when I get round to them.  I've tried the blue on a couple of figures and so far I haven't noticed an appreciable difference but I'll put up a proper post about it once I've done a bit more experimentation

Friday, 2 August 2019

AWI Militia...start of a project.

Although I've been mulling over a couple of new projects (AWI and WW2 far east) I haven't got very far with them.  I've been doing some reading and invested in a couple of boxes of figures, so I decided I should finally get my finger out and actually get building

I thought I'd start with something easy...these are AWI militia which came free with an issue of Wargames Illustrated a couple of months ago.  Easy???  These were a nightmare to build with a complicated arrangement of arms and bodies that it took me ages to get my head round.  I seem to have a blind spot when it comes to visualising how arms will look when they are fitted and end up with a pile of arms on the worktable that make no sense.

Luckily through trial and error (and a lot of swearing!) I managed to come up with 10 figures in not too bizarre poses.

They've been undercoated and highlighted... now I just need to get some paint on them.