Monday 31 January 2022

After painting them you have to play with them: Peninsular Battle Report. Part 2.

 The battle is turning out to be a proper ding-dong affair. Last week the French got most initiative and this week the British get more than their fair share. 

On the French right my attack was quickly stopped by British musketry and canister fire laid in by 7th Division under Graham's command. This shot showing my high water mark. 

The French continued with their attack in the centre. Peter's divisions gallantly going forward into a hail of musket balls laid in by British opposition from both Graham and Mark. 

But, it all looked like it was going well for the French: Mark and Graham were definitely feeling the heat. The British were about to crack.

So much French weight was being brought on the thin line of British that it looked like it might collapse at any moment.

Then suddenly, as often happens in Piquet style games, the initiative swung and the cards fell kindly for the British. 

In a twinkling of an eye, Peter's best division went from healthy to shaken and began to make a tactical withdrawal. The fight would have to be continued by his reserve division which was quickly approaching the  shallow tributary stream.

Peter's attack had stalled but, this shot shows quite a few 'shaken' and casualty markers on the British side indicating just how shaky the British position had become. Soooo close, Peter!

But Peter hasn't quite finished: The columns of his reserve division (top left) are being thrown into the cauldron.

On the right, I decided to switch the focus of my own attack towards the centre by deftly (if I say so myself) moving my cavalry on two, almost consecutive, cavalry move cards.

On the British right things proceeded as they had the week before with a to and fro battle btween Mark and Peter but without little to change the overall situation there (sorry no pics). However, this might well be about to change. Mark's reserve division is 'coming on line'.

It's all very nip and tuck and I'm very much looking forward to this Wednesday night's gaming.

Thursday 20 January 2022

Napoleonic games are beginning to look 'Napoleonic'.

This week we started a fictional encounter battle between my French and British forces. I set this game up to get a feel of how the rules cope with a lot of troops and multiple players - in this case two a side, each controlling four division sized command groups. I'm not using all the troops I have but there aren't too many left in the cupboard.

So we can concentrate on the game rather than the overall aesthetic, I have kept the terrain very simple, just three hills, a small river system, a few woods, one large and three small villages linked by a road network. There are no extra terrain pieces to make the game look pretty. 

The French
The British
French extreme left: A three unit cavalry division with artillery support. 
French left: A six unit infantry division with two batteries of guns. 

Note the Polish troops of the Vistula Legion. I have quite a lot of foreign troops in my French army: I think the term is 'eclectic'.

Behind on to its right, a two unit reserve of converged grenadiers.

French centre left. Four units of infantry, two in the large village, supported by two gun batteries. They are backed by a single unit of dragoons detached from the cavalry division.

The infantry in the foreground are Nassau troops in their distinctive green uniforms. This formation is very foriegn because it also has the Legions Du Midi and Hannovrienne. Very pretty foreign troops for the French to play with.

French centre right: A five unit infantry division with a battery of guns. This command has a large Legere contingent.

Behind them a four unit infantry division forms a reserve. It includes a unit of Irish and the Paris Municipal Guard.

Note the French C-in-C, effectively controlling the two French Corps.
French right: A five unit infantry division supported by two batteries. They are holding the French end of the table wide ridge.

It includes two units of Swiss.

The British right: A five unit infantry division (7th) and a battery of guns occupy one of the small villages. This is a very colourful division, called the Mongrels because of the variety of coat colours.

This is game is the baptism for  Brunswickers and 51st Light Infantry. 
Just behind them and to their left is a two unit cavalry brigade. None of the British cavalry in this battle have seen the table before (hence the mix).

Then, what is effectively 'First Division', is split into two commands, eight units and two batteries in total. 

First Division is another interesting group because it comprises Highland units, the Guards and KGL.
To the left of first division, occupying the central small village and some woodland are the six units and battery representing the elite troops of the Light Division.
Behind the Light Division a 'standard division' of five Anglo Portuguese infantry units plus a battery deployed in column of companies and ready to move as a mobile reserve.
The British left: A 'standard division' and a cavalry brigade. 
I took the French left. My orders, to attack Graham's 7th Division. 

Note the initiative clock, dice my measuring stick. 

All measurements in the rules are based around 3" graduations. I made four oak measuring sticks graduated in that fashion and they are proving to be very popular. I don't think I saw a tape measure (one provided to each player) in use all night - excellent!

Peter, holding the French right had guessed correctly. Mark, taking the British left, would attack.

The quotes from the film Waterloo began. The game was going to be a jocular one.
My French began their march towards the river, veering obliquely to bring pressure on the British right. 

Graham began to deploy to meet my assault which, due to the vagaries of the sequence deck, stalled whilst the infantry awaited the advance of their 'supporting' cavalry.
Mark's attack develops nicely, his cavalry soon forcing the French right into square.
But Mark's attack is blunted with heavy loss, especially to the Portuguese which are blasted to pieces by French canister.

Mark's dice rolling was shocking. At any moment I expected him to pull his mask off to reveal Peter underneath.
Seeing the French veer off to the flank, weakening their centre, First Division attacks across the river. It too suffers greatly from the attention of the massed French guns.

The French rolled high with their artillery all night, whilst the British rolled low. The casualties were consequently horrendous.

That was it for the first night's play, the game was well underway. With a bit of luck, it should be all done and dusted in the next session.

At the top edge of the picture, you can see the British 24 card sequence deck (brown card sleeves). Sequence decks (one per side) determine each side's turn sequence of moving, firing, melee and command actions. 

A view of my attack from behind Graham's line.
Likewise, a view of First Division's attack towards the large village.

Note the red draw string bag in the background. This holds the French dominoes for determining initiative points. We pulled some right crackers out of it, gaining a whole turn's worth over the British in the deck cycles played.

The Reserve division (left) is moving to support Mark's initial attack.

Having this amount of British and French troops is making me think towards the time when I can do a Peninsular campaign. Although it will have to be a bit scaled down, troop numbers wise, I definitely have enough for the job - big battles (like this one) would still look pretty big, I think. Can't wait to start painting the Spanish - but, still three French units to do.

Friday 14 January 2022

Roll Call: My Anglo-Portuguese Army for the Peninsular

As I mentioned in my previous post, since half way through this lot, painting has often seemed more like a chore than a pastime. However, there is always the feeling of satisfaction following the completion of an arduous task and that's pretty much how I feel now. 

"Praise be.... There are no more Brits in the lead pile!"

Enough said.

This army comprises twenty eight units of 'formed infantry'; three skirmish units of Riflemen; eight units of cavalry; eight guns and crew, plus four limbers; twenty three extra skirmish stands; ten command stands.

All, except six KGL Light Infantry figures (Warlord) are FRONT RANK MINIATURES.

All were painted by myself using enamels. 

Flags are a pretty even split between GMB Designs and Flags for the Lads. Both are excellent quality; GMB are printed on slightly thicker, shinier paper.

Bases are home cut 2mm MDF (square or officer stands), or War Bases (round for skirmishers). Basing is ink washed and dry brushed sand and grit finished off with foliage by Woodland Scenics (coarse turf: a burnt grass + yellow grass mix). Infantry / cavalry frontage is 45mm per stand.

The British infantry elements were the hardest to settle on because of the 'special troops' required for 1st, 7th and Light Divisions. Consequently, there are rather more special units, such as Highlanders, Guards and Brunswick Oels, than I would have chosen to do otherwise. Indeed, these three divisions grew the army well above the numbers I originally planned and in response the French army grew to match it - a definite case of mission creep.

At first glance the OOB seems incomplete. However, that is because I'm scaling my divisions (my basic command groups) at one unit to a thousand men and, more often than not, this means I need less units than were actually present in the divisions to make the divisions up. Furthermore, table space means collecting more would be practically pointless - I could never physically fit them on my table in any meaningful way.

A classic example of my incomplete OOB is having no 42nd (Black Watch) Highlanders for 1st Division. 1st division usually mustered about 7,500 men which works out at seven or eight units. Looking at the unit composition of 1st Division I decided it should comprise two Guard units, two Highland units (dropping one), one Highland Light unit, two KGL units (dropping two), and possibly one other British line unit (dropping one or two). 

Gentlemen of the League (especially the former and serving officers of the Black Watch), please note that the renowned 42nd were dropped simply because I had flags for the Camerons and the Gordons and no flags for the 42nd - sorry, guys. 

BTW, to the readers who kindly volunteered a donation of their spare flags to this project, thank you again.

The number of Portuguese Line units also seems a little low but, at one unit to one thousand men, there are enough Portuguese Line to furnish three Anglo-Portuguese divisions.

Outside of the afore mentioned divisions, the units I chose to paint had more to do with the flags I had than any specific OOB: They all fought in the Peninsular, and that's enough for me.

With the infantry figures I have, I can field five infantry divisions: 1st Division, Light Division and three other divisions, possibly including 7th Division (The Mongrels) all at the same time. Not bad, at all, and certainly enough for a big game.

A note on skirmishers: The number of skirmish figures attached to a unit does not represent proportionally accurate numbers. The number of stands (each two figures) equates to the unit's basic 'in game' skirmishing factor: A line unit has a skirmish factor of 2, so it gets two stands (four figures) even though this is proportionally too high for the number of figures in the unit; I could have halved the stands, or based less figures individually, but it didn't look as good. The British also have numerous independent skirmish stands that are used to bolster a division's overall skirmish factor - representing attached Rifle coys, Cacadores and such. 

The composition of the cavalry (one unit equates to 500 troopers) is a total fudge because the variation in a cavalry division was quite extreme from one year to the next and I wasn't prepared to cater beyond eight units in this department. However, given that I only use a light or heavy cavalry type classification (with quality adjustments), and one unit can easily substitute for another within that confine, I decided to go for a 50 / 50 split. It remains to be seen if I'm right on this.

It all makes sense, kind of, to me at least, and here is my 'army'. 

We start with command: Ten command stands plus an engineer.

Two army commanders in Wellington and Beresford; plus an Officer of Engineers (an Officer of Engineers is often useful for scenarios).

Eight division / brigade / command group officer stands including two most definitely for the cavalry. 

Before you all jump down my throat, I know Picton didn't wear the top hat and civilian coat in the Peninsular but, he wouldn't look like Jack Hawkins without it.

The Cavalry: Eight units, each 12 figures strong.

  • 1st and 3rd Dragoons; 1st and 2nd Dragoons KGL.
  • 13th and 14th Light Dragoons.
  • 10th Hussars
  • 10th Portuguese cavalry
Should I have had one less heavy unit and one more light?

The Artillery: Eight guns and four limbers. Each gun has 4 crew figures.

  • Four guns (British Foot Artillery) plus two limbers.
  • Two guns, (British Horse Artillery) plus one limber.
  • Two guns, (Portuguese Artillery) plus one limber.
The Portuguese limber is not available from Front Rank as pictured here. It is a simple conversion - British crew with outer buttons removed, shoulder wings added, sword and sword belt added, and a Portuguese artillery crew head swap. More pics and info here.

The Infantry: Six units each of 24 figures plus 4 skirmishers: 

  • 53rd Foot (Shropshire).
  • 88th Foot (Connaught Rangers).
  • 3rd Foot Guards (Scots Guards).
  • 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.
  • 79th Foot (Cameron Highlanders).
  • 92nd Foot (Gordon Highlanders).
The Guards, two units, are for 1st Division but could double as other units if the flag position is swapped around. The Union flag is not the King's colour in these units - it's the crimson one.

The Infantry: Six units, each 24 figures plus 4 skirmishers:

  • 50th Foot (West Kent).
  • 27th Foot (The Inniskillings).
  • 5th Foot (Northumberland).
  • 9th Foot (East Norfolk).
  • 11th Foot (Devonshire).
  • 24th Foot (Warwickshire).
The Infantry: Five units, each 24 figures plus 4 skirmishers  (Note: the Brunswick Oels have 6 skirmishers).

  • Brunswick Oels (7th Division).
  • Chasseurs Britannique (7th Division, but can double as something else).
  • 1st Battalion KGL 
  • 2nd Battalion KGL.
  • 97th Foot (Queen's Germans, and with almost identical flags, can easily double as a third KGL unit).
The Infantry: Six Portuguese units, each 24 figures plus 4 skirmishers:

  • 8th; 9th; 12th; 13th; 16th; 21st.
Note the Cacadore skirmisher stands in the foreground. Cacadore units were invariably small, at around 400 actives, so they never quite hit the mark to be fielded as full units. I have chosen to make them additional division assets to be added to the divisional skirmish screens. They are painted as the 6th and the 8th Cacadores. The exception is in Light Division were I field one full unit to represent the multiple units therein (see below).

The Infantry: Four light infantry units each of 24 figures plus 8 skirmishers:

  • 52nd Foot (Oxfordshire) Light Infantry.
  • 51st Foot (2nd West Riding) Light Infantry.
  • 43rd Foot (Monmouthshire) Light Infantry.
  • 71st Foot Highland Light Infantry.
52nd and 43rd are for the Light Division, 71st is for 1st Division and 51st is for 7th Division. 

The Infantry: One unit of 24 figures plus 8 skirmishers; 3 units of 9 Riflemen (Skirmish order):

  • 3rd Cacadores
  • 95th Rifles (skirmish units) x3
All four of these units are for the Light Division.


Finally, extra skirmishers for deployment to the divisional skirmish musters, each stand 2 figures (pictured above, out in front, on round bases):

  • 6th Cacadores (5 stands).
  • 8th Cacadores (5 stands).
  • 95th Rifles (4 stands).
  • 60th Rifles (3 stands).
  • KGL Light Infantry (3 stands).
  • Oels Jagers (3 stands).
Totals: Men 1040; Horses 145; Guns 8; Limbers 4; Ammunition carts 2.

So, am I short? Possibly. If I were to add, and I have no intention to do so, I'd add another unit of cavalry - either light dragoons or Portuguese - and a couple of units of Portuguese line infantry. But, and here's the rub, I don't want to paint any more of them. Nor do I have the storage capacity anyway - see below.

Now, there is one more part to this tale of woe: Don't let me get away without confessing a sin. It's a simple sin and, I think, one not often spoken of but shared by many: When conceiving and planning a collection I have more than history, or even a good game, in mind. In my view, there is no point collecting what you can't possibly store. Consequently, I do buy figures by the yard - there, I've said it.

The two pictures above shows just how much that this is the case: Crammed in they are, crammed into a strictly allotted space. 

You will note two large spaces on the first French shelf above the cavalry (there's another completely full French shelf above that). I'm going to fill those spaces next, with two units of Legere, a unit of Chasseurs a Cheval and a second army command stand. That will completely finish the French.

Then I'll start the Spanish. It never ends....

Thursday 13 January 2022

The Anglo Portuguese are finished!

I have already given myself a pat on the head for finally getting this long overdue painting done, so please don't feel a need to congratulate me. Frankly, after the half way point I've found this Napoleonic project to be a painting chore rather than a painting pleasure and I'm happier than a pig in the proverbial to finally see the back of the Anglo-Portuguese lead pile.

That said, I did save an easy unit for last. Not a bad policy, IMHO. 

I give you, the Portuguese 10th cavalry. 

Figures are by Front Rank. 

Painted by myself in enamels.

The flag is GMB Designs.

Bases are home cut MDF.
Unusually for Front Rank, the sword arms are a separate casting (glued on). We'll see how that works out over time but, I would much prefer them as a 'safer', more 'durable', one piece casting.

With a few spare command figures I had left over, plus a shrine to make up the 'figure count', I did this second British army command stand featuring Beresford. 

Note that I took your advice and painted the Christ figure on the cross. It works, thank you for your input.
At the back of these stands there are the dice slots for army morale (black and white), transferable divisional morale (orange) and a pin for a quality bead. 

The black and white beads give a range of 0 - 42. 

The black beads count sixes, white beads count digits - in this case the total adds up to 8. 

Black 1 = 6 + White 2 = 8, if that makes sense. 

So next up, roll call.

Let's have a parade! 

Sunday 2 January 2022

Happy New Year - And a plan for Olicanalad's Games

Happy New Year, Everyone.

As you will know, I monetised this blog with a few adverts in November 2021 with the aim of generating a small amount of cash that I could plough into my hobby funding once a year. To be honest, I was a little sceptical about the amount of cash it might raise but thought, if it raises enough money to buy a couple of units or books, it might be worth it.

I have to tell you that, thanks to you clicking on the occasional ad as you leave, the advertising is raising rather more than expected. In the one month and twenty odd days since the advertising started, your clicks have banked £40.01 - this is not a huge amount (I'm not retiring on it, LOL) but, it's enough for me to rethink what the money might be used for: It's certainly going to buy more than a couple of units or books!

So I've come up with a plan: Every month I'll do a short post like this one showing you where the kitty is at. Then, at the beginning of November when there will be a year of advertisement revenue in the kitty, I'm going to do a poll on what you would like the money to be spent on. It is your ad clicks that generated the money, so you should get a say in what you want to see appearing with it on this blog.

I'll pick three or four things (that I'm interested in painting) for you to choose from. These will include a couple of new major project choices, plus a couple of minor, or side line projects that I quite fancy undertaking at some point. Once you have decided which, I'll plough every penny of the advertising revenue into that: Every penny will stay in the hobby.

Anyway, thank you again for visiting and for your ad clicks - please, just keep doing it - it's fantastic!

P.S. Future kitty reports will probably be a simple cut and paste of this one, pretty much.

EDIT: Please note ads are temporarily down whilst my identity is verified for tax / legal purposes.

EDIT: It would appear, I am who I say I am.