Monday 26 January 2015


The Battlegroup Blitzkrieg photo-shoot is now done, with lots of work completed during a long weekend in Ireland. It all looks great. Of course, over the course of the weekend we found some time for some gaming too. Friday night saw us fit in a game of Maurice. This is a fantastic set of rules, and I must sort myself an army to play with (one day). Over in Kildare Piers’ has both sides, so I jumped at the chance to get a game in. Piers is something of a demon with the rules, but I picked a force of British redcoats to withstand the assault of his French, who would no doubt come on in the same old way. I wasn’t optimistic about seeing them off in the same old way though. I haven’t played Maurice in over a year.

It turned out to be a fantastic game, exciting, frustrating, unbelievable in some of the dice rolling (mostly appalling by both sides), and a no-quarter-given slogging match that at one point I thought might just have actually reached a stalemate from which we couldn’t escape.

With pipes and drums playing (literally on the stereo – well tablet these days), the French began with a cavalry attack on my right, which soon floundered (too far from his commander to get orders easily), it ran the gauntlet of my artillery fire (complete with notable gunnery commander Van Hussen – a random draw), destroyed a single unit of British conscript cavalry before being subjected to repeated volleys of musketry, under which it withered. The first phase of the battle had gone to the redcoats, 3 French cavalry units lost to 1 British. My guns then turned on his massed infantry in the centre and started to punish them too at long range - go Van Hussen!

The next French attack arrived on the left, through  a narrow gap in the thick woods, one unit at a time could squeeze through. These were enfiladed by fire from my irregular light infantry in the woods, to little effect sadly. I counter charged with my left flank cavalry (again only mere conscripts), to see it massacred as they failed to make any impact, recoiled and were then gunned down. I now moved up my infantry to face the assault, including elite grenadier guards who (backed by the ‘rally to the colours’ national trait) withstood a furious pounding. The two lines faced off and exchanged musketry, but the British, hard put to it, held the line, although the mercenary Irish-traitores destroyed my mercenary light infantry (thieves, brigands and murderers anyway).

Whilst this flank was playing out the French main assault in the centre began, 6 infantry regiments were on the march with his cannon battery firing in support, heading for the wall in the centre, where my guns and elite infantry awaited to see them off. This was the lynchpin holding the British position together, it must not fall. The French advance took a heavy pounding from my artillery bombardments and it seemed it must fail, as three units were lost. But the third line of infantry was his elite guards, and they wielded left to screen the attack from my infantry on the right, which was marching to enfilade his attack column with extra musket fire. Again, these lines met and a protracted musket duel ensued, with neither side breaking as the smoke clouds thickened.

In the centre, the last French infantry regiment reached the wall, withstood some very poor cannister shooting and charged the guns, only to be defeated and thrown back. The guns fired again, again no effect from the cannister (what!), for the brave French to charge again and overrun the guns. Drat!

By now the army morale totals had plunged on both sides. The French had just 2 left, the British a secure 10. It seemed the redcoats would have the day, but no... Piers is wily with these rules and fought a bold fight, reducing me to 4 as I failed to break him. In desperation, seeing the victory slipping away, I used a special event that could cost him 1 or 2 army morale. I rolled a 1, he was still going.Double drat!

Now we reached an impasse, both sides volleying away, whilst the other rallied. Neither side would break. Turns passed, and rallying kept both sides in perfectly good order. In needed just 1 point to win and couldn’t get it. In end I committed to a desperate charge, taking a chance it might cost me the game, but risking defeat for the win as I sent the brave boys on my right in with the bayonets. Facing his best infantry my chance of victory was slim, but a special card (For the King!) gave me a 50-50 chance of winning it. As my two battered regiments went in, I won 1 and lost 1 fight, but inflicted enough damage to break one of his guards units. At last, with the clock now passing 1am (we started at 8pm the day before), the French had been beaten. But it had been a very long hard pounding and damn close run thing. My final morale total was just 3. Great game – time for bed!

Here are some shots of Piers' marvellous toys in tricorne hats. Not a historical period I have much interest in, but I do love these rules. Like Longstreet, they just produce game after game that has tension, drama and feels like a battle of the period. I’m think I might get a force for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or Russians to use with Maurice.One-day. 

 The British centre and left, deployed. Mobile reserve still in march column. Thta wasn't a smart move, they are no longer part of the 'force' so need separate orders. Orders which are precious as the fighting gets hots.

 Conscript cavalry on the British right, soon to face far superior French cavalry.

 Viva La France! The French centre and left deployed for a grand attack.

 Supporting 4 gun battery, also behind a wall. It wasn't very effective.

 The French right, Irish at the front.

 The lynchpin, hold the wall and the day would be ours. It was also the objective.

Cavalry about the clash, but the British infantry would be the ultimate winners on this flank. 

 The three ranks of the french assault in the centre, with along way to march under accurate cannon fire.

 The Iirsh squeeze between the trees. The conscript cavalry about to charge them, and loose badly. The men in bluecoats are mercenary light infantry irregulars.

 The battle on my left as it heating up. The grenadiers saved the day by being a immovable object.The Irish volleys saw off the skirmishers in blue.

 A bit later, the first rank of the defence is now gone, but the thin redline behind held - just, thanks to rally to the colours.

Saturday 17 January 2015


2015 looks like a busy year, with 3 books to produce (and 3 to write). The first book is almost complete, Battlegroup Blitzkrieg is now well on its way to completion and should be with the printers in February.

Alongside ‘work’ work, I’ve decided that I shall use this year to start, and finish, my 8th Army 1941 project. My Afrika Korps and Italians are all done and dusted (literally) and awaiting their opponents. So, I’ve made a start on collecting the first infantry platoon (Australians) and some vehicles. 

The project looks like being a fairly long one, I’m starting a new WWII army from scratch (my 8th coincidently). So far the infantry have come from Wartime miniatures (via Elheim), Foundry and Lancer. I like to use different makes and mix them all altogether, to get a wide variety of poses. At 4’ from the table, slight differences in size or sculpting style just don’t show and they don’t bother me anyway, I’m 6’6” so a miniature of me would look completely out of scale. I also have a preference for prone and kneeling models, mainly because they look like men actually in combat and close contact to the enemy, rather than behind the lines or under no threat. It’s not possible to do them all prone, and some upright or sprinting men helps the look on the tabletop, but prone figures do look ‘right’ when the rounds are flying!

The first work has been on my 25pdr battery, Italeri kits. Kit making isn’t any wargamer’s favourite thing, but these are nice kits (except the crew, which will be replaced by metal) and you gotta love Morris C8 quads, surely one of the coolest British vehicles of the war. Fast build kits will be the way forward, and some die-casts where possible, but these guns will probably be the fiddliest bit of the entire army (so get it out of the way first is the plan).

Fiddly kit construction has begun... 5 hours so far for these, with a first undercoat for the interiors of the quads. I don’t often go for on-table artillery, but in the desert I mainly want them for direct fire at the panzers.

I already have my 8th Army shopping list sorted for shows through the year, so roll on Vapnartak and WMMS.

The first batch of infantry. Undercoated using Halford's spray camouflage range, ultra-matt light brown (very pale pinky-brown), then heavily washes in dark brown (Citadel Nuln Oil). That gives me the first basecoat to work from. Working on 25 at a time.

The big guns, 2 Italeri 25 pdrs on the work bench. I have changed my mind on deploying the guns on their turning wheel and pulled them off. I want to be able to have them on-tow as well as deployed. 

Thursday 15 January 2015


I set myself a little project over the Xmas break, to paint up a few 20mm modern forces for a skirmish game I hope to play this year. I already had the western troops (lovely Wartime miniatures Australians) and ordered a few Elheim Taliban and insurgents for them to face. OK, so it took a bit longer that just the Xmas break to get them painted, but they are all done now and ready for a game.

The game I have planned will be a conversion of the standard BG rules into a one-to-one modern skirmish, but to get away from it being a straight fight (with one side having the obvious advantage of all the good gear) and make it a more a-symetrical game, where winning the fire-fight is the easier bit for western forces, but doing it such a way that they don’t offend public opinion and start to lose the war for ‘hearts and minds’ is the tough bit.

I have some idea for this, mostly using the Battlegroup counters system and by setting the NATO forces two break points, one for their men on the ground fighting (which might be quiet brittle, given that they cannot afford to take many loss, one guy killed is disaster, so wounded guys have to med-evaced or the cost in chits is massive) and a second level for public opinion, so just dropping 500lb laser-guide bombs is a option, but not one that helps much if there are civilians around and it misses.  The point being to set the western forces a tough challenge, even though they have all the big guns at their disposal.

All those big guns will be off-table (as per support Request as per BG), from Apache 40mm cannon strafes, to mortars or artillery, to fast air and those really big bombs. The Insurgents, well they get guys with AK-47s and RPGs, but a far higher breakpoint (they don’t care some much about losses) and they don’t have to worry about public opinion at all, so can blaze away in circumstances, including using civilians as shields.

Hopefully, it’ll create a game in which the asymmetry of the forces of the ground is balanced by the widely different victory conditions of the battle, being far easier to achieve for the insurgents than NATO.  So NATO have to be very careful. Hopefully I get the rules to more accurately reflect actual losses (ie not many) without it being a dull game in which nobody gets hit.

Anyhow, I have the first models complete. I think I’ll add a med-evac Blackhawk helo for the western forces,  because not getting aid to wounded guys will basically cost the NATO forces the game, and a Technical and some civilians (to get in the way) for the insurgents.

Here are the squads so far. 

 Insurgent squad 1 - with RPG and RPK

 Insurgent light support teams, 2 x RPKS

 Heavy support team - recoilles rifle and 3 spotters (or are they just civilians?). In the game, getting this wrong would result in heavy loses on the public opinion victory condition, shooting innocents is a big no-no! But then again, maybe they control an IED or is the inurgent force commander. .

 Insurgent squad 2 with, RPG and RPK

 Insurgent squad 3, with RPG and RPK

 Able squad, with sniper, SAW, guided AT missile, satelite communications uplink and its own officer.

 Bravo squad, with SAW, an assault shotgun, sniper rifle, a UGL and a combat medical technician