Thursday 12 November 2015

Storming the Heights - A Seven Years War AAR

Before I embark on the AAR, a little Blog News.

Last week I received some advance copies of Honours of War by Keith Flint. This is book 11 of the Osprey Wargame Rules series and covers the Seven Years War. I took some of the photos that feature in the book so I was looking forward to seeing how they turned out with some interest. 

I've been buying Ospreys since the 1970s and it feels as though I've always had them kicking about the place. I even bought them in my late teens / early twenties, though I read them discreetly tucked between the pages of the NME, obviously. But I never, ever thought I would feature in one in any way - James Roach's stuff in an Osprey, who'd have guessed it?

Considering my photos were taken with an old Ixus 30 compact camera under household lighting I think they look rather good. In all, the book features 8 photographs of my SYW Prussians and Russians, including one on the back cover and one on the fly leaf (though one or two are 'repeats'). I'm also named a few times, which is all rather nice. 

I hope this rule set goes down well and sells well: SYW is such a fantastic war game period. The rule book seems to be well written, laid out and presented and it doesn't have the ominous bulk of several sets of rules I've come across recently, or the bulky price tag that goes with them. From what I have gathered, from the rules and various forum posts, these rules are aimed at gamers with modest collections - I think they are aimed at scenarios with eight to a twenty units a side (guessing) -  so they should be very useful for people just getting into the period.

At some point in the very near future I intend to give Honours of War a try out. I'll post an AAR when I do.

This photograph is probably my favourite, and I post it here to give you some idea of the photos by me in the book.

I haven't played with my Russians for some time, and seeing them 'in print' made me want to get them out for a game.

The AAR that follows charts the set up and first night's play. It is not an Honours of War game as I haven't had time to properly read the rules yet. 

 Here we see 26 units of Prussians lined up on their side of the valley. They are formed up in a typical deployment with infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings. They will be the attackers and they have a surprise up their sleeve.
The 36 units of Russians formed up on their side of the valley. The Russians have thrown up earthworks to cover the slopes in front of the village (the game objective) and they have built a redoubt to fortify a farm at the foot of the slope. Their cavalry, Cossacks excepted are in reserve behind the flanks.

This is a strong position for the Russians, and they have stacks of troops to defend it with. On the right cavalry stands ready to sally out.
The centre and left of the Russian line. The left, though without earthworks is very strongly manned. A counter attack, if one comes, will probably start here.
The entrenchments bristle with cannon and muskets.
The fortified farm below the main entrenchments might prove very useful as a breakwater.
The Prussian right: infantry cavalry and guns, though not in any great numbers compared to their opposition in this sector of the field.
 The Prussian centre partly deployed on the reverse slopes. This sector is furnihed with an abundance of heavy artillery and some howitzers.
The Prussian mission is easy. March across that valyey and take the village with it's dominating church.

After dicing up for unit and command quality and the briefest of briefings battle commenced.

The Battle started with a desultory by both sides, and with seemingly little effect. 

Then the Prussians sprang their surprise. 

Six more Prussian infantry units, half of them grenadiers, appeared on the Russian right flank. Only a bunch of ill disciplined Cossacks were immediately available to oppose them.
On their arrival the bulk of the Prussians in the centre went forward in support against the front of the Russian right and centre.
The Prussians, having taken a hail of shot and shell, break into the fortified village.
On the Russian left, as expected an attack, of sorts, starts to develop.

Graham H. has a love hate relationship with Cossacks. He loves them, Peter and I hate him for it. For some reason, unlike any historical SYW Russian commander, he always manages to get something out of them. It doesn't matter what rules I downgrade them with, Graham always gets something out of them.
On the Russian right the Prussian flank attack steps boldly forward. 

The Cossacks don't hold up well and are soon put to ignominious flight, as is right and proper, but Graham has more Cossacks!
In the centre, the fortified village becomes a death trap to both sides.
At the end of the first nights play the centre and Prussian left were becoming engaged along their entire front.
On the Prussian right a Russian attack is just beginning to develop.

In mid shot you can see a bunch of hairy arsed Cossacks that have managed to 'heroically' charge across the front of a line of Prussian cavalry to chase off a bunch of gunners.

Fortunately for Peter, Graham has spent the bulk of his initiative points fighting on his right and little has been left to develop an attack in this sector.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Barcelona - a few military bits and pieces

Barcelona is, IMHO, one of the world's greatest cities. This was my third visit and the first with a digital camera. On this five day family trip, I managed to squeeze in a couple of things with a military angle (unless you also include a tour of Camp Nou).

The first was a visit to the Museu Maritim. It holds one of the finest exhibits any maritime museum could have. A full size replica of Juan de Austria's flagship at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Unfortunately, this exhibit no longer has oars or the over deck walkway. This is a shame, but the exhibit is still worth seeing. At least the model gives views you can no longer see for yourself on the bigger version.

 Looking aft
 Looking forward
 The stern is spectacular - this is a very big row boat, it is 60m (the best part of 200 feet) long.
 It really is a beautiful reconstruction.
 At one point on the hull side, planks have been removed to show the hold and construction.
 Aft, there are a couple of small swivel guns (hackbuts).
 The forecastle from just aft of it.
It has a magnificent prow, though the guns are missing. I think they were there the last time I visited. Just in front you can see the glass enclosed model - I mention the glass because taking photos through it is a pain. 

I have to mention, that whenever I see this ship, I wonder if the design of the prow has the same phallic 'prominence' as a modern sports car's bonnet (US - hood).

This is the best photo of the model I got to take (of 6) having ducked under an exclusion rope  (naughty) to get it all in, on zoom, in hand held focus. What a bloody beauty! The museum has a lot of very nice models, some of which follow but lets have some more of this one first, shall we (sorry about the glass reflections)?

 There are several other models at the museum worthy of note. This is an original builders model for a Spanish 80 gun third rate. The particular model dates from around 1740 - it looks good for a model made 275 years ago.

 Here we have a model of the Spanish ship of exploration Victoria c.1519
 A Greek merchant vessel from the 4th century BC. Slightly off military, but one of my naval periods for which models in museums are few and far between.
 Here's me taking a shot through another pain of glass. This time of a stunning model of Barcelona's coastline in the fifteenth century.
 It really is a model to play 1:600 (ish) on.
A day or two later, I dragged the family up the hill (we took the over harbour cable car up most of the way) to Montjuic Castle. This is a serious piece of kit just outside the main entrance.

 Makers plate on the above.
 The castle is a Vauban style small fortress with a very simple square courtyard at is heart.

 This is interesting. just through the main outer gate the passage splits to go left and right.
 The inner rampart from the outside. It was converted to a prison, so I have a feeling the windows might not have been part of the original design?
Typical dry moats and outer defences, from the inside. 
 The passage into the inner courtyard.
 It really is a very simple square yard with large barrack rooms off it.
 A model of the fortress in one of the 'barrack rooms'. It's a very good size to be modelled - compact and bijou.

So, there it is, my military bit of Barcelona.