Tuesday, 21 November 2017

An Italian Wars Weekend, in Scotland.

Last weekend, my turn to stage a game for The League of Gentleman Wargamers came about. I chose to do the Italian Wars as a single 'Kingmaker style' campaign game. 

The bulk of the figures were provided by Steve Rimmer and myself with significant contingents provided by Chris Henry, Angus Konstam, Dale Smith and other members of the group. It was a good job they were. On Sunday I estimated there were over 3,500 figures in play, fighting on every table. 

The massed buildings, representing the 44 towns and cities, were brought by several players, with Peter Nicholson and Charles S. Grant providing most (I think); Steve Rimmer provided most of the walled cities. Before the game, not having enough real estate was my chief worry - I don't know where players find the room to store all this stuff - Charles S., alone, brought over 40 buildings and Fort St. Elmo!

Even with the rugged hills rising as a backdrop behind the small town of Kirriemuir in Angus, an icy Saturday November morning in Scotland didn't make it feel much like being in Rome, Florence or Venice (it was positively balmy 15C in Rome last Saturday). However, inside the hired hall it looked a little more like it.

The tables, depicting Italy from  Naples to the Alps. Angus K, pictured top is stood in front of Venice.
Italy, from Naples to the Alps, was set up on five 6' deep tables. The first three (looking north, as per the photograph above) were 12' wide and represented the interlinking localities of Naples, Rome and Florence. These tables were all split by the the spine of the Apennines, all classed as impassable rugged mountains except at three passes. Being impassable they didn't have to be as wide as they should be, allowing more space to manoeuvre troops on the 'coastal plains'. Naples is just out of shot in the lower left corner, the big church is Rome and the big city on the next table is Florence.

The next two tables, looking north, are the 16' wide table with (left to right) Genoa, Modena and Bologna on it; and lastly, the table with The French Alpine passes, Milan, Ferrara, and Venice - this last table was the biggest at 20' wide. These two tables were split by the river Po which was, by the nature of the gap, remarkably straight edged but worked quite well.

All in all,less the space taken by the mountains, that gave a remarkable 432 square feet of potential battlefield for the 14 players to wade about in.

The players were (and I'll only name each once):


Steve Rimmer (Milan) on the left and Angus Konstam (Doge of Venice) on the right. 

The walls of Milan are in the distance and the place in the sunlight is Ferrara (actually sited on the wrong side of the Po for game play purposes). 

Venice, pictured later, was represented by fort St. Elmo and is just out of shot behind the tank - which we made up rules for and featured as part of a Venetian naval invasion of Southern Italy.
In the mid-blue collar, Bill Gilchrist (King of France).

Bill's knowledge of Pike and Shotte rules (on which the rules for the game were based) helped greatly over the weekend - he was a very welcome 'rules medic' when I was occupied elsewhere.
Standing left to right, Graham Hill (Duke of Modena), Dale Smith (Seigniory of Florence), Kieron Potts (Venice's No2), Kevin Calder (Doge of Genoa). 

The three walled cities, left to right are Bologna, Modena and Genoa.
On the left, Chris Henry (Spain's representative of the King, The Grand Captain) asks Peter Nicholson (The Pope) to leave him alone but the Pope will have none of it. Spain and the Papal State will battle it out for the entire weekend and Spain will get clobbered, having only one city (Naples) and two units between its two players at the end of day 1: With a little umpire aid they recovered slightly on Sunday - I gave the the Machiavelli card which allowed recruitment at 50% cost.
On the left Peter McCarrol (France's No2) who starts the game in the Papal State east of the Apennines fights it out with Colin Jacks (Spain's No2).
Chalie Grant (The Papal State's No2) shows his thoughts on not getting another duplicity card.
Charles S. Grant (The Duke of Ferrara). Not quite master of all he surveys but, definitely looking like a man of ambition.
On the right, in burgundy, Peter Jackson (The Duke of Bologna).

The format for the game was as follows. At the start of each session, each player declared their support for Hapsburg or Valois - because the rules were a U-go-I-go mechanic based on Warlord's Pike and Shot - and this determined who was allied to whom for the session. In all, if memory serves, I think the whole game was divided into 6 playing sessions.

To this mix I added events cards that were either simply handed out to each player, or obtained by rolling a 5 or 6, at various points in the day. These cards included such things as pontoon trains to aid the crossing of rivers, duplicity cards that enabled players to change sides mid session, spies, the appearance of Savonarola, ambushes, blackmail, earthworks and various other things to stoke the pot. All cards could be played or traded at any time. All cards were always positive for the player who used them and generally bad for everyone else. 

The victory conditions were simple. By building a fiefdom by capturing towns for themselves, the players could levy taxes in 'gold' (poker chips). Gold could be used for various things (including buying new troops) and the player with most at the end of the weekend would be declared the winner. 

On Saturday we started playing just before 10 a.m. and finished at 6 p.m., on Sunday we started at the same time and finished at 3 p.m. 

Here are some shots taken of the action and more can be found on Bill Gilchrist's blog here.












As it turned out, the winner, and by some margin was the Doge of Venice (Angus). He had 375 gold. Bring up the rear, also by some margin was the Grand Captain (Chris) had least with 50 gold. 

I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to the game and I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. 

I can relax now, for a year or two. Scheduled LOGW games for the next couple of years will be organised by others. The next one, in the Spring, will be themed as A Very British Civil War weekend.





Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Generic Bridging Train & Pontoon Bridge (plus a few other bits)

Since I started wargaming I've always wanted to have a bridging train. In the past I've made half-hearted attempts with a few pontoons with bridging sections but, because of the cost of white metal wagons and the fact that an actual train will rarely get used (except as an interesting column of military wagons), I haven't bothered with anything more substantial. 


Then War Bases wagons and carts came along. War Bases don't actually make a pontoon wagon (yet) but they do produce a wagon that can be easily and cheaply converted. All I did was use the deck with a few extra pieces of balsa wood as planks and add a couple of trestles (made using off cuts from the MDF kit frame) for the home made balsa wood pontoon. Normally I'd stick the pontoon to the wagon, but in this case I've left them separate so that they can be used to represent a pontoon bridge under construction. 

The teams used for the pontoon wagons are also by War Bases.


I made one pontoon wagon up a while ago. Now I've gone the whole hog and produced another which along with War Bases Engineers Cart with cast resin load will make up my bridging train.


In the near future I intend to tackle some new wide river sections. To that end, I've purchased a heap of MDF sheet, and I have made up the first piece - the pontoon bridge piece. I made it using a 2mm MDF base with foam board banks. The bridge is balsa wood planking with lolly pop stick supports; the end poles are barbecue skewers.

Until I make the rest of the river this piece cannot be finished because I want it to blend in seamlessly. A post on this will follow.


The bridge is constructed in three pieces: The ramps on the river banks (as a fixed river section piece with bridge heads) that can be slotted into the river system as desired and two two pontoon bridging spans with planking afixed. Along with the two pontoons from the wagons, this should be enough to represent the bridge in varying stages of completion. I think this will work rather well. I can feel a few bridging scenarios in the offing!

Lastly, here are two other carts by War Bases. The first is a turnip cart with a load of hay made from P.V.A. soaked teddy bear fur, the second is a water cart

I can't recommend these wagons and carts enough, the quality is excellent. The turnip and peasant carts are £4 each. Having resin components, the water and engineer's cart are £5 and £7 respectively. War Bases teams are £4 per pair of cast metal horses. 



I still have two more War Bases carts to make up: Peasant cart 2 and Peasant cart 3. I just love 'em!


Friday, 3 November 2017

Help needed with a commemorative medal.

Back in 2009, whilst Mr. Putin was readying things for the bicentenary of the Battle of Borodino in 2012, I visited the battlefield. Whilst there I managed to pick up a commemorative medal as a souvenir. 


As far as I could gather, from one of the Babushkas in the museum shop, this Bagration / Borodino medal was cast using bronze from a cannon that was fired on the field of Borodino back in 1812, though I think quite a bit was was lost in translation, and it all sounded rather dodgy to me at the time. I can't remember how much the medal was (my brother-in-law took care of everything for the whole Russia trip) but I have a feeling it was quite pricey.


Unfortunately, I can't find anything about this particular medal anywhere, which leads me to believe it's either quite rare or quite worthless. If any of this blog's readers can help me out with the following queries, I'd appreciate it. 

1. Was it actually cast from the metal of a gun used in the battle? 
2. What is the literal translation of the writing / legend?
3. Does it have anything other than a sentimental souvenir value?


It's quite thick and quite heavy. I've placed a British penny, EU two cent piece and USA one cent piece next to the medal for scale. I've also taken a shot of the presentation case it came in, which appears to be wood and leather (possibly leather effect plastic).


Thanks for looking.

Some pics of Zorndorf from Fiasco 2017


Firstly, I'd like to thank Graham for driving the game to the show, and I'd like to thank Kev C. and Bob (L&LS) for volunteering on the day to fight the battle. 

I'd also like to say a special thank you to Martin from War Bases who kindly donated some of his excellent wagon kits for the game. I'll do a post on these after I do the others I picked up at Fiasco.

One benefit of taking a big game to a wargame show is the ability take shots of the whole table from either end (before the punters turn up in force); this is something I can't usually do in my wargame room. The table turned out to be 14' 6" x 6', almost exactly the dimensions of my own table.

Like the show, the game went quiet after lunch and became something of a static display but, it seemed to attract quite a lot of interest and provided some eye candy.


From behind the Russian right. Quartschen should be off table but it serves well to represent the impassable terrain (including the Metzel) to be found in this sector whilst adding height and interest to a generally flat table.
From behind the Russian left. Here, Demiku's cavalry protects the flank of Browne's Observation Corps.

From behind the Prussian right. Scorlemer's cavalry protects the flank of Dohna's infantry.

From behind the Prussian left. Here the cavalry of Sydlitz, Marschall and Malachowski  stands ready to support the attack of Manteuffel and Kanitz.

Following a heavy bombardment (60 dice), the infantry of Manteuffel and Kanitz attack.

On the Prussian right a cavalry battle seems inevitable.

Things started to get historically messy in the Quartschen sector. Three of the Martin's War Bases MDF wagons can be seen in this shot, including one converted into a pontoon wagon - I've just finished making the second - a 'turnip' cart (with home made teddy bear fur 'hay' load), and his wonderful engineers cart with cast resin load. Other carts are by Front Rank, showing just how good the WB ones are and how well they fit in with other commercially available metal stuff.

Dohna and Browne began to contest the Stein Busch whilst the cavalry stood at the ready. You might notice, looking at the field pattern compared to earlier shots, that the fields were a movable feast - something that raised the odd eyebrow on the day. 

Even the pesky Cossacks got in on the act.
Thanks to everyone who dropped by to say hi and ask questions. See you next year.