Friday, 23 June 2017

Simple applique terrain pieces to denote rough terrain

When using a cloth thrown over hill shapes to form the basic topography for a battle, small pieces of applique terrain pieces to differentiate one type of hill from another, or simply to add 'texture' become very important. 

For several years I've had half a dozen rocky outcrops with bushes that I've used to indicate that a hill is steep, rocky, or that provides cover as the need dictates. However, six has never really been enough so this week, spending between ten minutes and half an hour a day in the evenings, I've added another dozen pieces. 

They are so easy (and cheap) to make that I'm not sure that this post is needed or required. By looking at this picture it's probably easy enough to see how they were done. However, perhaps to someone new to the hobby, or perhaps moving from modular terrain to a cloth, this short post might spark some interest. 


These pieces were made using the following materials: 

  • Bases were made from the thick card (or for half the pieces in this case, the hardboard backing from a broken picture frame). 
  • The rocks are stones picked up from the roadside. 
  • The bushes are pieces of horse hair (used in furniture upholstery, though these days I'd probably buy coir). 
  • The ground scatter is non-dissolving Tesco's own cat litter (the orangey-pink granular stuff), sand and grit.
  • The flock, is railway flock and flock shed from my tree collection over the past year or so (scooped out of the tree drawers and recycled).
  • The paint used was all household emulsion paint bought in small pots (probably the most expensive component but once you've bought it, a pot lasts for ages doing small jobs like this - these pieces cost a few pence worth of paint). 
  • Glue was PVA - quality thick stuff for sticking the rocks and horsehair down, thin cheap stuff for gluing on the sand, grit and flock.




First night: I cut out the bases and bevelled their edges with a large craft knife then, because the card is liable to warp, I undercoated the reverse side with household emulsion.

Second night: I undercoated the top side and stuck on the rocks and the clumps of horse hair. The rocks had enough weight to hold everything down flat whilst it dried.

Third night: I painted the rocks dark grey using household emulsion. Painted rocks always look better than unpainted rocks, in my opinion, because they blend in with everything else much better than something 'natural'.

Fourth night:  I glued on the cat litter, sand and grit.

Fifth night: I dry brushed the rocks and painted the base colour over the sand and grit - the latter was emulsion paint with a bit of PVA mixed in to hold it all together and provide durability.

Sixth night: I dry brushed the sand and grit with emulsion paint and stuck railway flock on the bases, and tree flock onto the bushes. 

Now I have enough to do quite a big stretch of hill, and I think, for what they are, they are both effective and quite pleasing to the eye.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

LOGW ACW: I love an acronym.

Last weekend I spent a thoroughly enjoyable two days gaming in Scotland with the LOGW (League of Gentlemen Wargamers). The game was an ACW (American Civil War) mini-campaign with front lines, cavalry raids into rear areas, and a naval element, and it ended with attacks on Washington and Richmond: Attacks which saw both burn. I had a brilliant time in good company.

The game was organised by Kevin Calder and he also provided the rules, Bonnie Blue Flag, which we've used on several occasions, and which are soon to be published by Partizan Press. If ACW is your game, you should look at these when they come out. They are very good fun.

Gaming highlights for me were: 

  1. Somehow losing a naval game to maintain the blockade of Richmond, even though I had two ships afloat (but running away) and I'd sunk one enemy ship, run another ground, and left one under construction in sinking condition. Great fun, with ships and rules from Bill G's collection (he also took the naval photo below showing my fancy sailing techniques). All of that ancient naval gaming came in useful - the Rebels were rammers. 
  2. Fending off a cavalry raid before it had got started, much to Charlie's chagrin. I also fought Charlie in the naval game, which he won, though he was left contemplating his naval as to how.
  3. Charlie got his revenge in the final game. Fortunately my only picture of my woeful performance in this instalment of the weekend is the shot of the cavalry action. At that point my battery packed up. Charlie went on to take and burn Washington. When he's not pillaging supply wagons he really likes burning stuff; during the naval encounter I half expected to be rushed, deck to deck, by fire brand waving men yellin' Dixie.

I also had a very interesting pre-game Friday night / morning whilst being kindly put up at Steve R's place, though that is an entirely different story. 

Anyway, a few pictures of the game and crew on what was a memorable trip all round. 










The next LOGW weekend, in November, will be down to me. We'll be doing a multi-state Great Italian Wars mini-campaign set around 1503. 

The table will be the Alps to Naples. I'll post a plan of the set up soon but, at present, the table (without walkway gaps) is 20' wide and 28' long and covers an area of 432 square feet. 

I've only ever played one game with a bigger table than that, a giant Kingmaker organised by Steve R, and that was the best multi-player game I've ever played in - if they players like my game half as much as that I'll consider it 'job done'. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Battle of the Garigliano River 29 December 1503

Following the Battle of Cerignola in April the French fell back on their base at Gaeta. The Spanish, led by Gonsalvo de Corboba, followed up and laid siege but to little avail. When French reinforcements arrived Gonsalvo fell back on the river Garigliano where he took up a defensive position. 

The winter weather was appallingly wet, "water answered the spade", and life in the forward positions was reminiscent of the trenches of WW1. To keep up morale the French withdrew much of their army into drier billets away from the river; much of their cavalry withdrew as far as Formia.

Meanwhile Gonsalvo, taking advantage of the French dispersal, planned a surprise flank attack on them. He cleverly had a special bridge of boats constructed, flat pack style, at the Fortress of Modragone: The prefabricated parts of this bridge could be assembled remarkably quickly. On the  night of 28 - 29 December he secretly marched his best troops upstream to Sujo where his bridge was thrown across the river. At dawn, before the French knew what was happening, Gonsalvo's men were across the river in force. 

So started Gonsalvo's crowning glory, the Battle of Garigliano.....
A picture of the initial deployment. Note that, since setting this up, I have moved the gun in front of Formia to the French position near the palisade. Also, I realise that the trees should have no foliage in December but, I don't have winter trees and the set up looks even odder with no trees at all.

Spanish Deployment


1: Commander-in-chief: Gonsalvo de Cordoba - Command rating 10.



2: Prospero Colonna - Command rating 8.
Spanish colunela (4 units).

3: Bartolomeo Alviano - Command rating 9.
Spanish Knights (1 unit). Italian Lance Spezatte (1 unit). Italian Stradiots  (2 units).

4: Andrado - Command rating 8.
Italian Lance Spezatte (1 unit). Spanish Genitors (1 unit). Italian pike (1 unit).
Italian crossbowmen (1 unit). Italian arquebus (1 unit).


French Deployment

A: Commander in chief: Ludovico, Marquis of Saluzzo - Command rating 7.



(force billeted between Trajetto and Formia): Pierre Terrail, Seigneur Bayard - Command rating 9.
French Gendarmes (3 units). Italian Lance Spezzate (2 units). 
Italian Stradiots (1 unit). Medium artillery (1 gun) 
C: Capitaine Alegri - Command rating 7.
Gascon crossbowmen (2 units). French pike (1 small unit). Medium artillery (1 gun).

D1 and D2 (force equally split at Castelforte and San Cosmo): The Swiss - 
Command rating 8.
Swiss pike (4 units). Swiss arquebus (2 small units).

E: Italian infantry - rating 7.
Italian crossbowmen (2 units). Italian arquebus (2 units).

F: French infantry at Sujo - Command rating 7.
Norman crossbowmen (2 units). Norman pike (1 small unit).
Special Rules and Victory Conditions

For each settlement that the Spanish can take they will receive extra stamina points. These can be assigned however the Spanish player wishes. Castelforte is worth 3 stamina; Trajetto and San Cosmo is worth 2 stamina points; Sujo and Torre del Garigliano are worth 1 stamina point

If the Spanish take Formia they automatically achieve a major victory.

The only special scenario rules in effect concern artillery. Because the torrential rain has made the ground very soggy artillery may only move to change facing and furthermore, there will be no save modifier versus artillery hits at medium and long range (as any shot falling short will bury itself in the ground rather than bounce on).

Pike and Shotte amendments:

We will use Pike and Shotte rules by Warlord Games to re-fight this battle but with amended unit characterisation. So you can see where we are at with troop abilities and values, I take the opportunity to show you the unit tables we are currently using. 

I have chosen to increase all move rates and weapon ranges by 33%. My reasoning for this is pretty simple: My table is quite a big one.

Those familiar with Pike and Shotte will also notice that I have also chosen to change certain 'ability' definitions - these include Crossbows being defined as having no short range but being able to give closing fire. The definitions for other things are also somewhat different than standard. I make no apology for this. I think my definitions fit better with what I understand about this particular sub-period. They might not work so well for others. 

I hope it provides food for thought.


Pike and Shotte master list for the characterisation of units during
The Great Italian Wars
CAVALRY UNITS
Unit
Unit Type
[move]
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
French Gendarmes
Heavy Horse [12”]
10
-
3+
4
Heavy Cavalry: add D3 melee hits.
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
French Argulets
Light Horse
[16”]
4
1
[16”]
5+
3
Cautious: may use free move to retire.
Crossbow: no close range
Spanish Knights
Heavy Horse [12”]
10
-
3+
4
Heavy Cavalry: add D3 melee hits.
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Spanish Genitors
Light Horse [12”]
6
1
[8”]
5+
3
Fire & Evade: can give closing fire & evade.
Javelin: no close range.
Marauders: Do not count command distance.
Skirmish: Freely change order; shoot at full effect.
Italian Casa / Famiglia
Heavy Horse [12”]
10
-
3+
4
Heavy Cavalry: add 1 melee hits.
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Imperial
Men-at-arms
Heavy Horse [12”]
10
-
3+
4
Heavy Cavalry: add 1 melee hits.
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Wedge: re-roll one melee miss [large unit only].
Elmeti Condottiere
Heavy Horse [12”]
10
-
4+
4
Heavy Cavalry: add 1 melee hits.
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Elmeti Lance Spezzate
Heavy Horse [12”]
10
-
4+
4
Heavy Cavalry: add 1 melee hits.

Mounted Crossbows
Light Horse
[16”]
4
1
[16”]
5+
3
Cautious: may use free move to retire.
Crossbow: no close range.
Mounted Arquebus
Light Horse
[16”]
4
1
[16”]
5+
3
Cautious: may use free move to retire.

Stradiots
Light Horse
[16”]
6
1
[8”]
5+
3
Fire & Evade: can give closing fire & evade.
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Javelin: no close range.
Marauders: Do not count command distance.
Skirmish: Freely change order; shoot at full effect.
INFANTRY UNITS
Unit
Unit Type
[move]
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
French Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
5
-
6+
5
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
French Crossbows
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
6+
3
Crossbow: no close range.
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Spanish Colunela
Battle Line
[8”]
5
3
[16”]
5+
5
Pike company: cavalry count as pike armed.
Elite: 5+ to rally disorder.
Colunela: add 1 melee hit Vs pike.
Volley Fire: Add 1 dice to closing fire shooting value.
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.
Spanish Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
7
-
5+
5
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.

Spanish Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
3
[16”]
5+
3
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.
Volley Fire: Add 1 dice to closing fire shooting value.
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.
Spanish sword & buck’
Battle Line
[8”]
5
-
5+
3
Sword & buckler: +D3 melee hits Vs pike, +1 Vs other.
Close fighters: re-roll melee misses in town fighting.
Swiss Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
7
-
4+
5
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
Ferocious: re-roll misses when charging.
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Swiss Halberdiers
Battle Line
[8”]
6
-
4+
3
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.
2 Handed Weapons: -1 to enemy saves.
Ferocious: re-roll misses when charging.
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Swiss Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
4+
3
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.
Elite: 4+ to rally disorder.

Pike and Shotte master list for the characterisation of units during
The Great Italian Wars
INFANTRY UNITS
Unit
Unit Type
[move]
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
Landsknecht Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
7
-
4+
5
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Landsknecht Halberdiers
Battle Line
[8”]
6
-
4+
3
2 Handed Weapons: -1 to enemy saves.
Bad War: melee break test +1 Vs Land’s / Swiss.
Landsknecht Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
4+
3
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.

Italian Pike
Pike Block
[8”]
6
-
6+
5
Hedgehog: no flanks / rear; shelter shot; static only.
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
Italian Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
6+
3
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.
Veteran Italian Arquebus
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
5+
3
Hedgehog: shelter with associated pike; static only.
Skirmish: Freely Change formation; shoot at full effect.
Italian Crossbows
Battle Line
[8”]
3
2
[16”]
6+
3
Crossbow: no close range.
Hedgehog: shelter with pike; static only.
Italian Sword & Buckler / Schiavonni
Battle Line
[8”]
4
-
6+ / 5+
3
Sword & buckler: +D3 melee hits Vs pike, +1 Vs other.
Close fighters: re-roll melee misses in town fighting.
Schiavonni: do not count command distance; freely change order; shoot at full effect.
Italian City Infantry
Battle Line
[8”]
4
-
6+
3
Brittle: quit if rally failed when shaken.
ARTILLERY UNITS
Unit
Unit Type
[move]
Melee
Dice #
Shooting
Dice #
Morale
save
Stamina
Special
Light Artillery
Artillery
[8”]
1
1 - 2 - 3
[32” - 16” – 6”]
6+
2

Medium Artillery
Artillery
[4”]
1
1 - 2 - 3
[48” - 24” – 6”]
6+
2

Heavy Artillery
Artillery
[0”]
1
1 - 2 - 3
[64” - 32” – 6”]
6+
2