Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Different types of built up areas

When one is creating 'built up areas' the obvious always springs to mind - a shop, an inn, a house, a church, etc. But, sooner or later the list runs out and you end up making more of the same.

A couple of years ago I was a player in a Blucher game put on by Dr. Ken over in Menston. One of the terrain pieces was a small graveyard. I thought, that looks good, and I stored the thought. 

Now I have one of my own. As 'built up areas' go this was a very simple piece to make and that is partly why I'm advertising it here. Of course, it's more a family plot than a full blown graveyard, but that's the nature of war game's terrain, is it not.



The walls are 5 mm foam board with balsa strips added to give the angles for the Will's pantile tops - these were added to make the piece a little more interesting. As always, these days, the wall texture is heavy body artist's acrylic (believe it or not, emerald green because that's all I had). The walls were then painted with emulsion paint, ink washed and dry brushed with more emulsion paint. The doors / gates are balsa wood.

It's based on 4 mm plywood and the ground texture is the usual sand and grit rubbish, ink washed and dry-brushed with emulsion paint.

The gravestones are MDF on pennies, or balsa wood tombs. BTW, I think buying the odd pack of multi sized balsa wood sold in craft shops is a good idea; for a couple of pounds its a useful thing to have in your bits box.



Graveyards are a very simple building block, but you can only have one! I did this one to be multi-period. It should fit in well with my Peninsular and Italian Wars collections. It will also fit in with my SYW at a pinch. Removing the gravestones an tombs it can be a walled garden or small high walled orchard.

A client recently asked about the view from my 4th floor studio (and wargame room) window - and it's not a bad one. As this is a terrain post I thought I'd share it with you. This pic (taken today) looks out, north west, towards Middleton on the other side of the River Wharfe. The view from the other side of my house is dominated by the Cow and Calf Rocks and Ilkley Moor but, this is the view from the 'office'.




Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Haystacks

The first thing I have to say about this post is that the base of it belongs to Pat over at Wargaming With Silver Whistle. His simple solution to making haystacks, given I had the materials in house, meant this was the way to go. 

Pat, if this was your idea, you are a regular war gaming genius.

Obviously, me being me, I decided on another way of putting haystacks together, but Pat's post was the germ of the idea. This is how I did them. I made 12 haystacks with the materials and tools described.

  • A six inch by four inch piece of copra doormat.
  • Some off cuts of one inch thick insulation foam board (a strip about 1" wide and 12" long).
  • Basing board (I used 2mm MDF)
  • PVA glue
  • Paint 
  • A Stanley knife
  • Big scissors
  • A spatula (I used a one use disposable plastic cup stirrer)
  • A mixing dish (I used a blister pack)
  • Basing scatter materials.


First I cut out some 'short dowels' using inch thick insulation foam. As you can see, these do not need to be cut perfectly circular. I also cut several thin strips of copra doormat.
The doormat needs to be cut into thin strips so that the fibres can be cut off with scissors. Once the fibres are cut off a little time needs to be spent removing thick bits, and tightly wound bits, of copra. Wound copra can usually be 'shredded' by counter-winding between one's fingers. It takes a few minutes to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
Next I mixed a heap of cut copra with medium quality PVA.  It's best to start with a good deal of glue, mixing in the copra strands gradually.
The messiest job comes next. You take a lump of glue mixed copra and roll it between the palms of your hands to create a loose ball. This ball is then placed on top of the foam dowel like a hat. I didn't rely on the glue in the copra for this to stick; I added a big dollop of glue to the top of each dowel before placing the hat on.
Using a spatula, plastic or metal, shape the copra hat into a dome shape that doesn't stick out everywhere. Once this step is done the 'hat' is left to dry. Whilst drying, cut out the basing. I used 2mm MDF cut into irregular shapes.
Another messy job, not quite so messy, is carried out next. PVA glue is applied liberally, very liberally, to the sides of the dowel. Copra is then placed on using ones fingers, pressed quite firmly so that the glue comes through the fibres.
At that point, add more copra, then roll the dowel between the palms of your hands so that the results of your sticking are 'round'. Whilst wet, rub the stacks bottom onto the basing board so that the haystack will sit flat. Then add a dollop of PVA to fix it in place.
What I did next, to personal taste, was add a shallow skirt to the bottom of the stack using PVA soaked (as per the hat) copra, again teased into shape with a plastic spatula. At this point, using some of the cut down mat strips,I added a few tufts to the bases.
When everything was dry, and on top of a radiator this doesn't take that long, I undercoated in emulsion.
Then I ink washed with well watered (5:1) acrylic ink to give depth.
Next I dry brushed with with a few layers of ever lightening craft acrylic (yellows) and emulsion paint (deep magnolia).

When dry, I gave the stacks a hair cut to tidy them up a bit. Some might like the ragged nature of the stacks before the haircut but I didn't - my stacks are neat and tidy.
Lastly, I based with my usual sand and grit combo, inked and dry brushed, and finished with some flock (in this case dead-fall from the trees purchased from Andy over at Last Valley - I throw nothing, not even tree litter, away). 

Voila: Twelve haystacks. 

At a guess they took about twenty minutes each to make and cost less than a couple of pounds in materials all told.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Carry On Camping

Shortly after Christmas I was searching on various web sites for some new pavilions to go with my Italian Wars collection (and at a pinch, my Crusades stuff). During my searches I went to Renedra Ltd. 

Although they didn't have the pavilions I wanted, I noticed that their 'Dog Tents' were being sold at half price (£2.50 for four). Heads up and fill your boots!

An immediate change of plan was required: Tents to make a small camp for my horse and musket collections. 

I'm not up on tent lore, and I rather think that most other gamers are in the same boat. I'm not exactly sure what kind of tents were used in the SYW, or for that matter during the Napoleonic Wars either. However, from pictures I've seen, I do know two things: The ridge tents in military camps were set up in neat lines and, they all look the same to me.  

I chose to buy four packs of dog tents and a pack of larger ridge tents - total cost (inc. postage) £21. This would give me four rows of five tents; a row of four dog tents for the rank and file with a larger tent at one end of each row for the 'officers / NCOs'.

Following a quick undercoat with white spray paint I used household emulsion to paint the tents medium grey; I dry brushed light grey; I finished with a couple of layers of dry brushed pure white; I picked out some of the creases with grey paint; I painted the tent pegs dark brown highlighted with mid brown.

Whilst the coats of paint on the tents were drying, I made the bases (each 80 mm wide and 240 mm long) using 2 mm thick MDF. 

I marked out where the tents would stand on the bases with a pencil and glued fine sand on these spaces (so the tents would have somewhere flat to sit); I sand and gritted around the fine sand areas with coarser materials (sand, ground oyster shell and Tesco's 'orange / pink' coloured granular dust free cat litter - which is fantastic stuff for rendering 28 mm rocks); I ink washed the bases (using burnt umber ink, 1 part ink to 4 parts water); I dry brushed the bases with household emulsion paint (a deep sand colour, followed by a light beige). 

When the tents were finished, and dry, I glued them onto the bases. Finally, I flocked with coarse turf (Woodland Scenics burnt grass mixed with yellow grass).

This is what they came out like. Not a bad for a Saturday afternoon's pottering whilst listening to the football. I feel a scenario coming on......





Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Battle of Novara 6th June 1513 - a scenario

This will not be the first time we have re-fought this battle. Indeed, it's not even the first time will have re-fought it using our house rules Hell Broke Loose. However, the set up is different, especially with regards to the placement of the Landsknechts. 

The game also has a few more troops in use than before. To enhance the visual spectacle without increasing the number of units I'm using 50% more stands per unit (e.g. a four stand unit is six stands strong). I have chosen a figure scale of 1:40 and a dollop of fudge.

The historical background is a cut and paste job from the original scenario. Although the army facing the French was ostensibly in the employ of Massimiliano Sforza I have called it Swiss, as the Swiss seem to have called the tune. 

The order of battle and scenario notes are fresh, and I've put them together with notes about why I have chosen to do the set up the way I have and what fudges I've chosen to use.

A Short Historical Background

In 1512, following the Battle of Ravenna, France somehow failed to capitalise on her victory. In fact, the campaign proved to be a disaster, and she lost Milan. In mid May 1513, Louis XII of France dispatched an army, under the command of La Tremouille, over the Alps to retake his lost duchy. 

By early June, much of the duchy, including Milan itself, had been retaken, and Tremouille had moved to besiege Novara (the duchy’s second city) where the duchy’s new, Swiss backed duke, Massimiliano Sforza, was holed up with 4000 Swiss. 

Shortly after the French invested Novara a Swiss army arrived to its relief. On their approach La Tremouille, not wishing to be caught in his siege lines, withdrew his army. At nightfall, the dispersed units of the French army made camp around the village of Trecate. Unexpectedly, the Swiss did not tarry after their long march to Novara. They linked up with the garrison there and immediately followed up the French as they withdrew. Using local guides they made their way, in the dark, to within striking distance of the French army. Just before dawn, they attacked.

The attack began with skirmish between Swiss ‘enfants perdus’ and French pickets in the village of Trecate. La Tremouille, who had taken a billet in the village, narrowly escaped capture. But, the Swiss skirmishers did not follow up this attack. It was a feint, and their skirmishers withdrew to a wood that lay within shooting distance of Trecate’s houses from where they kept up a noisy fire. 

The alarm had been sounded and French troops, bleary eyed and disorientated, were called to stand-to. They had no time to re-doploy to face their attackers – the Swiss were everywhere upon them.

This is where this scenario begins.

The Battlefield

I have set up the battle on a 12 x 6 table. 



The battlefield is dominated by the town of Trecate. This small town (located at 45 25 58 N, 8 44 17 E) lies about six miles east of Novara. Oman describes it as being sited on rising ground and that is how I have set it; in fact the ground only falls away gently to the south, the approaches being across a dead flat plain from other directions. The whole town counts as (type III) rough terrain and heavy cover. Cavalry may operate on the roads and in the square but not in other parts of the town. 

I have chosen to place the outskirts of Romentino at the extreme northern end of the table. This lies about two miles from Trecate and is useful as a boundary to the battlefield. It is not necessary for the scenario, the table edge would suffice.

East of the Trecate, between it and Novara, and within arquebus shot, there is a large wood. This wood helped to screen the advance of the Swiss from from the French when they marched from Novara. It counts as (type III) rough terrain and heavy cover. 

To the north of the town there is an expanse of boggy ground. The nature of this ground is contested. Tremouille used it as a reason for not supporting his Landsknechts with his heavy cavalry, however, Robert de Bouillon managed to lead his cavalry across the marshy ground in support of his son Florange. I have chosen to make this ground a patchwork of different terrain; areas of 'solid bog' pieces are impassable; the area marked with tufts represent ground that looks worse than it is - it counts as (type II) rough terrain for movement on odd rolls, otherwise (type I) open terrain. It does not provide cover.

To the south of the town is the French camp. For game purposes it is bounded by the walls extending from the south east quarter of Trecate. To French troops it counts as open terrain and does not provide cover. After its French defenders quit the camp the Swiss troops started to plunder it; I think the simplest way to represent this, whilst preventing a French rule lawyer from using the camp as a tool to stop the Swiss, is to say that any Swiss troops, fully in the camp, treat it as (type III) rough terrain for movement purposes - they can't move on odd rolls and move at half rate on even rolls.

There are two large cornfields on the table. These were placed to cover the approach of the main Swiss column and the flanking force sent to attack the French camp. Oman says that standing crops helped to conceal the approach of the Swiss and caused the French artillery to fire high. Consequently, the fields provide light cover vs fire.

The French



For this scenario I'm going to heavily penalise the French in three ways. This, I believe, is the only way to give the Swiss a fighting chance of performing as they did historically whilst still giving the French a fighting chance. 

Tremouille, regardless of former glories, must be rated as a poor commander. His lack of initiative and direction severely effected the French response to the surprise Swiss attack. Consequently, the French will use a D8 sequence deck and army die.

I've decided to assign army characterisation cards rather than deal them out randomly, and the French do not do well. The French are due 6 cards from the characterisation deck: they get 36 morale chips [5,5,6,6,7,7]. 

Finally, the French are deployed not fully prepared to meet the Swiss attack. The French are deployed in five commands. Four of these commands are historical, the fifth has been used to split the French gendarmerie into two commands to allow Robert de Bouilon to act independently of Tremouille and with more panache.

The French order of battle comprises 1,000 lances (about 3000 heavy cavalry); 1,000 light cavalry, 4,000 Gascon and Navarrese crossbowmen; 6000 Landsknecht; well provided artillery train.


C-in-C: Louis de La Tremouille: D8 motivation die. 

Commanding 500 lances. 

Three units of French Gendarmes. 

These units start the game vexed [surprised], unarmed and unformed. 

They are not counted as armoured unless they use the first Formation Change card to arm (at which point they can remove the 'broken wheel' counter). If they choose to do this they cannot change formation on the same card. 

Unformed troops present rear in all directions until they change formation on a Formation Change card. 


Robert de Bouillon: D10 motivation die. 

Commanding 500 lances.

Three units of French Gendarmes.  

These units start the game vexed [surprised], unarmed and unformed. (See notes above).

If Bouillon takes personal command of a unit of Gendarmes it becomes elite whilst he leads it. He can use this ability once in the game. It represents his attempts to save his sons serving with the Landsknechts.


Louis de Beaumont: D8 motivation die. 

Commanding 4000 Gascon and Navarrese crossbowmen.

Four units of French crossbowmen. 

Oman describes these troops as being "imperfectly formed" when the blow fell. To represent this all of the units count as vexed [surprised]. Two of the units (front to back, second and fourth) are completely unformed and require a Formation Change card to present a front.


Monfalcone: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 1,000 light cavalry.

One unit of Stradiots and one unit of mounted crossbows.

These units seem to have managed to mount some sort of defence from the outset. They start the game vexed [surprised].


Florange, Robert de la Marck: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 6,000 Landsknechts and the artillery train.

Three pike blocks (counting 6 stands each); one unit of Landsknecht shot; three medium guns.

This command managed to organise a defence from the start. All units start the game vexed [surprised].

I have chosen not to make the Landsknechts Murderous in this particular battle due to their rather poor performance.

Note that these troops have been deployed as per the description by Oman, who says that the shot were placed to one side and the artillery was deployed in front. He also says that the Swiss approached somewhat flank-wise, so I have deployed the bulk of the Landsknechts obliquely to the Swiss approach.


The Swiss


The Swiss order of battle comprised about 9,000 Swiss, a handful of Milanese cavalry and 8 falconets. These were disposed in the traditional Swiss manner, three columns under the nominal command of their employer Maximilian Sforza. 

I have chosen to misread, fudge and lie about the number of Milanese cavalry present. Oman sets their number at 200. This would mean a unit of four or five figures, which isn't worth representing. I have chosen to say 200 lances, which gives a unit of around twelve. Given that this unit is the only cavalry present in the army it shouldn't undo the general balance of the forces.

I have assigned a D10* sequence deck and a D10 army die to the Swiss (Milanese) army. They have also done quite well with their four army characterisation cards, getting 28 morale chips [9,9,10] and the Stratagem card "Surprise" which adds 8 initiative pips to the player's total on its first appearance.

Note that the names of the Swiss captains, Graff and Mottinus, are two names listed among the Swiss casualties. Both fell leading the main column but, as I do not know the name of the second column's captain, I have redeployed Graff to command it


C-in-C Maximilian Sforza: D10 motivation Die

Commanding 1000 Swiss pike and 200 [lances?] heavy cavalry.

1 unit (counting 4 stands) of Swiss pike and one unit of Milanese men-at-arms.

This column marched around the town unseen to attack the French camp.

Graff: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 2000 Swiss pike plus supporting troops.

1 unit (counting 4 stands) of Swiss pike, two units of Swiss shot and one light gun.

I have chosen to concentrate all of the Swiss shot with this column. I have also chosen to attach the artillery to it; I believe the artillery would have used the road from Novara so this seems appropriate. 


Mottinus: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 6,000 Swiss pike plus supports.

Three Swiss pike squares (counting 6 stands each); one unit of Swiss halberdiers.

The halberdiers were, according to Oman, a distinct body set to one side of the column. They attacked the Landsknecht shot before charging onto the flank of the Landsknecht pike. No numbers are given, so I have chosen to attach a full unit.

Victory Conditions

The victory conditions are simple: The destruction of the enemy as per the general rules in Hell Broke Loose.



HELL BROKE LOOSE TROOP TYPES 
FOR NOVARA 1513

FRENCH
Troop type
Combat dice
Defence dice
Unit
Integrity
Notes
Elite Gendarmes
(1 in each command)
D12
D8
4
Swift (move on swift cards);
Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Other Gendarmes
D10
D8
4
Swift (move on swift cards);
Fierce (melee on even move roll).
Stradiots
D8
D8
3
Swift (move on Swift cards);
Grizzled (inc.).
Missile cavalry
D8
D6
4

Gascon & Navarrese crossbows
D6
D6
3
Brittle (down 1 to DD Vs missilery / morale);
Skirmish (may only be ‘formed infantry’ in a deep formation, or when defending a linear obstacle).
Landsknecht pike
D10
D8
6 (2S)
Swift (move on Swift cards);

Landsknecht shot
D8
D8
3
Grizzled (inc.);
Skirmish (may only be ‘formed infantry’ in a deep formation, or when defending a linear obstacle).
Medium artillery
D8
D6
2


MILANESE
Troop type
Combat dice
Defence dice
Unit
Integrity
Notes
Heavy cavalry

D10
D8
4
Swift (move on swift cards);
Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Swiss pike
D10
D8
6 (S)
or
5 (S)
Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Swift (move on Swift cards);
Murderous (up 1 in melee Vs Landsknechts);
Stubborn (all stands stubborn).
Swiss shot
D8
D8
3
Grizzled (inc.);
Skirmish (may only be ‘formed infantry’ in a deep formation, or when defending a linear obstacle).
Swiss halberdiers
D10
D8
4 (S)

Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Swift (move on Swift cards);
Murderous (up 1 in melee Vs Landsknechts);
Stubborn (all stands stubborn).
Light Artillery
D8
D6
2