Wednesday 23 December 2020

Austrian mobilisation complete. Bring on L'Empereur!

2020 has been a rather crap year for gaming... not enough battles have been fought for my liking. But the enforced time at home has not be wasted. In April, I decided that the year would not be a wash-out and I'd have sometime tangible to show for many weekends at home. 

I'd always thought a 28mm Napoleonic army would be beyond me, just too big a project, too much painting, not a single tank! So this was my challenge, to be ready to play Napoleonics, and specifically my WIP 'Soldiers of Napoleon' rules, in 2021. Who knows if that can happen, but I cracked on with the painting anyway. It has consumed just about all my painting time, but, for now, it is done. I have a 28mm Austrian Napoleonic army ready to take the tabletop.

I'll no-doubt add a few extra bits next year, in the light of some battles fought (fingers crossed) in our planned 'Thunder on the Danube' campaign. But, for now, I have broken the back of it. Perry's plastic Hussars will be irresistible, and some more guns, and grenadiers, maybe.

7 Fusilier battalions, 2 Grenadier battalions, 1 Grenz battalion, 3 Jaeger detachments (extra skirmishers), 2 Cuirassier regiments, 1 Hussar, 1 Chevaux-Leger and 1 Dragoon regiment, 5 command stands, 3 artillery batteries, a limber and an ammo caisson... Perry, Victrix and Front Rank...

I look forward to painting some 20mm WW2 in January, give me some sludge brown/green/grey colours, and a few tanks.

And the proof...

Guns, etc... I love that beautiful ochre-yellow and black...

Grenadiers, Jaeger skirmishers out front

4th Hussars, pride of the army (so doomed)

Grenz, and Fusiliers (each has a 4 separate models for skirmisher detachment), Chevaux-Leger behind

The men in white, Line Fusiliers, Dragoons behind

Big-wig command stand, Staff Dragoons and 1st Cuirassiers
(all on Lippizan horses from the Imperial stud)

2nd Cuirassiers

Sunday 25 October 2020


As the Russians push on for Berlin, they reach the small town of Brunow, held by a scratch force of survivors from the fighting on the Seelow Heights, who must hold on and delay the advance through town for as long as they can. The game was an adaptation of the Fall of Seelow scenario in the Fall of the Reich book, with a few altered forces to better suit my model collections, and get some under-used IS-2s into the game. This is one way of getting a quick game that is bit different to the standard pick-up battle… just adjust the forces a bit and recalculate the BR. Slight tweaks to the tabletop, not much… and viola!  

For terrain, we agreed the town pond was impassable to infantry and wheeled vehicles but difficult ground for tracked vehicles, not so deep a tank couldn’t wade it. We would allow the rules for targeting buildings. The road block, here a wrecked StuG, was impassable to all vehicles, unless destroyed by a demo-charge. 

Brunow, Germans in place, Russians from the eastern (far) end. The first timed strike hits the Weisshaus hard.   

Here are the final force lists.

German Forces
FHQ in Kubelwagen
2 Volksgrenadier squads with MG-42s and 1 x Panzerfaust (regs)
2 Volkssturm squads with 1 x Panzerfaust (in foxholes) (inexp)
2 Fallschirmjager squads with MG-42s and 2 x Panzerfausts (vets)
2 Panzercshreck teams
1 HMG-42 team
1 PaK-40 with loader team
1 105mm Flak38 with loader team (at road block)

Panther (with Panzer Ace) ‘Wolfgang’
3 x Timed 105mm strikes

2 x Minefields
1 Booby Trapped building
3 Fortified Buildings (Burghaus, Gasthaus and Weisshaus)
1 Roadblock (impassable)
Backs to Berlin (+5)
To the Last Bullet (+3)

1 Officer, 26+8=34 BR, 0 scouts

Russian Forces
3 x IS-2 tanks
3 x tank rider squads (regs)
Assault Pioneer platoon, in 2 medium trucks (vets)
2 x T34/85s
1 x T34/85 with PT-34 mine-roller
IS-152 assault gun
1 Supply Truck

2 x 122mm timed strikes
1 x PE-2 timed airstrike

2 Officers, 38 BR,  0 scouts

Once the Germans had set-up their defences, timed strikes were sorted and tanks ammo’d-up, the Russian took the first turn, leading with the three IS-2s and tank riders. With the fields north of town lined by both minefields, covered by the PaK-40 from the German table edge and dug-in Volkssturm in foxholes along the hedges, Panzerfausts ready, the Russian would have to either wait for the PT-34 mine-roller to lead them across, take a huge risk in crossing, or go through town. They went with that option… but town was dotted with infantry squads, MGs, ‘faust and ‘schrecks, many in fortified buildings. The panzer ace in his panther lurked at the back, ready to move to wherever he was needed. The plan was to keep him moving, shoot and scoot and not allow multiple return tank shots at him, I christen him ‘Wolfgang’… an ost-front veteran. The town would be a tough nut.

Well, so I thought, until the Russian started pounded it. Timed 122 shells rained in with lots of pinning - 6 gun batteries hurt. The tankoviks jumped down and led the way into town, taking the first buildings as my ambush fire did, err, nothing! Wake-up! The town tower was my booby-trapped building though and it killed 3 unwary Russians and pinned the squad. The IS-2s opened up with HE and MG fire and added to the pinning. The fortified Burghaus held-out, FJ squad inside well ensconced in the cellar and these vets would fight it out for the coming turns, gradually losing a few men, but doing the job!

Most of my defenders were on ambush fire awaiting the main assault to come. This was just the first probe, on the heals of another 122 strike that scored 3 direct hits! A squad of Volksgrenadier, their ‘schreck team and then the Flak 38 at the road block took the impacts and all were gone! Oof! The Flak-38 hadn’t fired when the crew bailed out, all those Russians were just too close now! 3 counters though. Their artillery clearing the way, the tankoviks were cautiously pushing forwards, resistance was weak at the moment. Behind them the old Gaz trucks rolled up the road, now safe from 105 flak fire, to unload the assault pioneer platoon. They would clear the buildings, each squad equipped with a Panzerfaust, anti-tank grenades, flame thrower and demo-charge.

In response, the Germans moved up an extra grenadier squad and MG team and Wolfgang rolled up to take aim, his first shot missed an IS-2 through the thick dust and smoke now shrouding town. MG-42s were now buzzing… pinning those Russian infantry and holding the edge of town. The SMG squads had got a foothold, the pioneers were moving up to take-over.

The three T-34/85s arrived and swung north of town, the PT-34 smashed straight through the mine fields but was pinned by a ‘zaust that glanced off the front armour. The other T-34s tried to sneak some shots at Wolfgang’s Panther, and missed. He backed away, to pop-up again and score his first hit, lead IS-2 brewed-up… first kill.

So far, the Russians had been on top though, on counters it was 6 to 3… not great. But now the Germans started to deal the damage back. MG-42s found the mark and wiped out a tank rider squad. The Volkssturm’s Panzerschreck team took aim at the next JS-2, then bottled it… rolled a 1 to spot. Damn! In the Burghaus strongpoint the Fallschirmjager showed how it should be done, first tactically co-ordinating to get unpinned, a ’faust from the upper window hitting and KO-ing the IS-2 that was ploughing through the pond. It had a watery grave. The last IS-2, out of ammo, pulled back to find the supply truck, which had rolled in along with the menacing ISU-152, which took distant aim at the Burghaus and hammered it, 1 structure point gone - eek! My FJ hunkered in the cellar, knowing what was to come, but it was their MG fire keeping the Russia’s heads-down on the edge of the town. They needed some help. It was on the way, until the moving grenadiers were hit by the dive bombing PE-2 strike, a bomb wiped them out as the bomber climbed away, chased by AA MG fire that was ineffective. 2 counters for that attack.

The pressure was mounting. The Russians made a push into town for the next buildings, the pioneers boldly rushing forwards. The first squad was instantly pinned by ambush MG fire and stalled, the second, up the road with the wall for cover, saved the ambush rifle fire from the dug-in Volkssturm, and then torched them with their flamethrower, messy… and 2 more counters. For that win though, the third squad was hit by double MG aimed fire, MG-42s scything through them and wiping them out as they made their rush around the pond. Hard to rush an unpinned MG-42 on ambush fire. The second FJ team in the school house added to the damage when their Panzerfaust destroyed a T-34/85 as well, the town’s pond was the epicentre of the fighting, three Russian wrecks now around, or in, it.  The PT-34 moved up and smashed through the hotel garden wall, for the covering PaK-40, long silent on ambush fire, to sight-in. Loader team aiding, 3 shots, 2 hits, first glanced off, second penetrated, leaving the PT-34 smoking. Ace Wolfgang also scored a lucky (needed a  6) long range shot at the last T34/85, and that high-velocity 75 did its work… second kill for him, and in one turn all the T34s were burning. Suddenly, the Russian counters looked grim… no unpinning I noted. It must be close, because my BR total was now 32.  

Turn 10, and the Russian had little left unpinned, 1 JS-II, a pioneer squad, a 4-man tankovik squad and the ISU-152 plus resupply truck combo. The re-armed JS-II fired back but missed the Panther… a charmed life, we counted 7 shots that all missed him. The pioneers set their demo-charge on the roadblock to clear it. The remnants of PPsH squad pinned an MG team with a hail of bullets. No chits taken… then the ISU-152, re-armed took aim at the Burghaus.

Boom! Boom!. Two hits, 2 structure points and down i the house came, taking the brave FJ within with it. Two counters, and was too much for my men and it was time to go. The Russians had Brunow, but with just 2 BR remaining themselves. One step closer to Berlin, but at a high cost.

It was a helluva fight - the Reds just pipped it with the ISU-152 doing its work in the end. Still, I’d score 5 tanks kill to 0, Wolfgang’s Panther, with 1 AP round left would live to fight again tomorrow. He was defo my man of the match (and finally one of my Panther tanks actually was good!).

Here are some shots of the afternoon’s actions. 

Road into town, Russian POV

Tankoviks disembark and move to the edge of town. Nice ride!

Volkssturm in foxholes watch the minefields north of town

Behind them, a PaK-40 and loader team with a long, clear LoS. Waiting on ambush fire should the Reds come this way. The hotel is ahead (another fortified building).

Wolfgang's Panther moves into position for a first sniper shot.

Russians take the tower, with it's little surprise. IS-2 returns fire, and misses... 

Volksgrenadiers move up to held the front line FJ, only to be hit in a PE-2 air raid and wiped out.

Reinforcements, the assault pioneer's roll in.

Wolfgang Panther re-positioned to trade more fire with the IS-2s, scoring his first kill. FHQ lurking, best move that Kubelwagen in case Wolfgang reverses. It sped from the field.

T-34/85ss arrive at speed.

First IS-2 pushes up into town.

Fallschirmjager 'fausts a JS-2 in the side as it wades the pond, and the chit is, an aircraft! Damn. It didn't show though, thankfully.

PT-34 charges the minefield

The edge of town, pioneers de-bussing to take-over the assault.

ISU-152 lines up the Burghaus.

Burning Russian armour around the pond.

Burn! Assault pioneer bring a messy end to the Volkssturm squad in foxholes.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

The Battle of Mons Ardua - 91 AD, with Soldiers of Rome

A one-off of game of 'Soldiers of Rome', just for fun, as my legion takes on the rebellious and hairy Britons of the Andvertii tribe under their infamous and independently-minded queen… with her gathered nobles, warriors and allies drawn up to face the hardened (and somewhat fed-up and cold) men of Legio II.

The battle would take place on the slopes of Mons Ardua, a significant (and fictional) feature of the tribal lands. Time to teach these proto-Brexiteers, keen on self-autonomy from the European super-power, a lesson on why it’s best to remain in the big club! Either that, or we burn their roundhouses down! Pax-Romanus…

My hardened Legio II forces was as follows.

Battle Plan. All Out Attack - Initiative 3.

Battle Hardened Legion 10 pts, -D3 MV

Centre Battle - Charge!
Vet Legion Cohort    4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Vet Legion Cohort    4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Legion Cohort          4 stands    24 pts        2 MV
Praetorian Cohort      4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Aquilifer Party          1 stand      15 pts        +D6 MV    with legionary cohort
Aux Javelineers        2 stands    8 pts        2 MV        Baggage Guard
Baggage Train          1 stand      0                *

Left Battle - March
Vet Legion Cohort          4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Aux Spears                     4 stands    16 pts        2 MV
Allied Tribal Warriors    4 stands    12 pts        1 MV
Aux Cav                         4 stands    16 pts        2 MV

Right Battle - March
Vet Legion Cohort        4 stands    32 pts        3 MV
Legion Cohort              4 stands    24 pts        2 MV
Aux Spears                   4 stands    16 pts        2 MV

Totals                    301 pts    32 MV (after rolls)

A simple battle plan and army selection, go at them, hard, up the middle with solid support on both flanks. Beat them in the centre and on one other flank (whichever looks weakest) and that should secure the victory. If only it was so easy!

As it happened, the Barbarians were also attacking in the centre, and harrying both flanks… so the battle would be an all-in arm wrestle with our best combat forces on the central hill. If that was a stalemate, then it would be whoever did best on the flanks, his light troops with their hit and run attacks, or my remorseless but slow march after them if they would not fight.

A rough estimate of the Barbarians -

Battle Plan - Attack and Harry - Initiative 2.

Chosen Champion of the Gods in a chariot.

Centre Battle - Charge!
4 Chariots
Gestatae Mercenaries spears
Mounted Warriors
Armed Civilians
Armed Civilians
Baggage Train

Left Battle - Advance, Loose, Retire
3 Chariots
3 Chariots
War Dogs
War Dogs

Right -Battle Advance, Loose, Retire


The Roman lines surged forwards, up the slopes of the hill as fast as heavy infantry in close order can go, which isn’t much. But they would be relentless and drive on until they found some barbarians to stab. On my left, the celt skirmishers, many slingers and a few archers came forwards to fling stick and stones, then run off. That fight would go on, a perfect use of light skirmishers that my slow troops could not catch as they ran well forwards with room to then fall back. Harassed by their many attacks, my own allied tribes men rushed forwards and drove off some slingers in the woods, then pursued them. Those slingers would panic and run, but the damage inflicted by them would also see my barbarian allies retire for the day, job done for them! That left my spearmen auxiliaries and legion cohort to plod on. I had moved the auxiliary cavalry into the centre to support my main attack, which was, in hindsight a mistake, because they would have been quick enough to chase down those pesky slingers with ease. Bad use of my very limited cavalry.

In the centre the barbarians were also climbing their slope of the hill, but had some payment issues to resolve with their own mercenaries, who stop to check they were defo getting paid for today’s work, because a lot of mean-looking Romans were coming the other way! On the right, his naked fanatics surged forwards with many chariots behind in support and I marched up to meet them, here would be the first melee clash, and it was messy. My veteran cohort tore into the fanatics with pilum and gladius, who equally did a lot of damage back as melee cards flew. The fanatics were massacred, but it also broke my veteran cohort, a good result for the barbarians really. His suicide troops had achieved their objective and died.

The two centres closed at the hill’s summit, the mercenaries now back on-side and ready to fight. My battle plan’s Charge! action card drove my cohorts upwards, closer, closer and then straight into the tribal noble and mercenary warriors.

The armies were fully engaged now, pressure left, right and centre made the card plays hard decisions, where needed it most, and you cannot save everyone! The damage inflicted would have been far greater if I could draw a Melee or extra Charge! card. 3 turns, and not 1… as my grand attack stalled. The Barbarians hung on and continued  to rally-off any damage I did do. Fear cards, Challenges and ill discipline in the Barbarian ranks all had limited effects, but my cohorts need to get going and start the serious killing!

On the left, my hard pressed auxiliary spearmen, battered by rocks and full of arrows, were counter-charged by hairy warriors, but saw them off with excellent fighting and a useful ‘well-disciplined’ special event. The celts fled and his right flank now looked weak. On the hill top, stalemate with no attack cards and ny attrition that was always being countered. On the right, similarly, this fight had stalled.

We (well I) needed a reshuffle of the card deck, and at last it came. Now, with cards available again, the second phase of the fighting began. Melee cards, at last I’d see one, and the cohorts turned up the hurt to 11… desperately the Celts threw away cards to try and stay in the fight, but in the end the pressure told. First the mercenary warriors went down in a bloody massacre after long resistance. Then the nobles broke, and their champion warlord(ess) was wounded, but in doing so a cohort also broke. The serious dying had started and the Celts moral plunged, in fact to 0… and they ran.

The Romans stood victorious atop the hill, now littered with dead and dying Britons. From a starting 32 Morale, I had 9 left… but it had been a really tough fight, full of incidents. The Andvertii rebellion had been broken on the slopes of Mons Ardua, but that damn rebellious queen got away… next time a battle to finally corner and capture her.

Roma Victor! 

The tribe's left, Fanatics and chariots. Put some clothes on!

Legio II deploys, right and centre, to climb the hill.

The centre's cohorts, terrible pictures, sorry!

Facing them, tribal nobles and more charioteers.

My left, cohort facing many harassing skirmishers. Allied tribal warriors rush the woods to see off some slingers. Green dice records Disorder on the unit.

On! Cohort marches on with auxiliaries now joining them. A long plod towards the village huts.

Mercenary warriors in the centre, losing their discipline. War dogs behind, did very little but bark a lot.

First big clash, cohorts massacre his crazy fanatics to the man, but not without heavy losses.

Leaving the legions to face the chariots, and curses of his shaman. 

A big clash in the centre, as the struggle for the hill top gets under way.

The left still going, still chasing the skirmishers... still getting hit by rocks.

Warriors charge, and are just seen-off by the auxiliary spearmen. They had a hard day, but earned their pay.

On the summit, my veteran cohort struggle with his noble and more supporting chariots, matched by their support cavalry. They just won the fight, the nobles broke, ran and the day was for Rome!

Tuesday 6 October 2020


Another play-test for Soldiers of Napoleon and this time the French would be facing the Anglo-Portuguese army still along the same small stream, you can image this fight was later in the day than last times vs the Spanish-held part of the battlefield. Here, the British were counter-attacking, with four brigades. His attack, across the fordable stream which ran the length of his table edge, a minor inconvenience, would be on both flanks. On his right, aimed at the small high ground knoll, Las Lomas, would be an infantry brigades of 3 redcoat battalions, the Irish, the Nottinghamshires and his veteran Highland unit, supported by a 9 pdr battery. His left flank attack was the vaunted light brigade, again 3 battalions, light infantry and one of Cacadores, with a horse battery of 6 pdrs in support. The centre would be Portuguese infantry, a weak infantry brigade held back. Behind these, in reserve, was a light cavalry brigade of Hussars and a very small light dragoon regiment (just 2 stands, the minimum), again with a 6 pdr horse battery.

This was all unknown to me as the French, as I picked my force and deployed.

My force would be, the left flank brigade, aimed at taking Las Lomas, three regular infantry battalions led a seasoned infantry unit and a 12 pdr battery. My centre was poor provincial ‘marche’ infantry, again held back with a 12 pdr battery to aid the bombardment. My right would be a strong light cavalry brigade of Hussars, Chasseurs and Lancers and their 6 pdr horse battery. My reserve were 2 dragoon regiments. My plan was for a steady attack, to take Las Lomas on my left and then send my dragoons hurting in to break his weak Portuguese centre. The light cavalry would just hold the right and charge any targets of opportunity.

So, as we both deployed, unaware until we saw it of the others forces or plan, it was obviously going to be a battle fought on the flanks.

First, the Anglo-Portuguese (A-P from now on), advanced on both wings, in columns to get forward quick. The light brigade immediately met the French light cavalry coming the other way in lines and, sabres out, lances lowered, the Brits soon thought better of attacking and formed square. Cannon fire was traded to small effect, and it was deadlock. My light cavalry can’t break his squares and his squares can’t do much to my cavalry. They watched each other warily and a few cannons sniped away. I was happy with that though, his light infantry brigade were good troops and they were stuck.

On the other flank is where the battle heated up fast. French skirmishers led my columns through the woods and up and over Las Lomas, to meet the red line waiting with their whithering volleys. Skirmishers fought skirmishers, my columns were forced back then came-on again, Vive L’Empereur!. They charges and pushed the red-coats back, but not in a decisive win. More volleys, and my columns were a ragged mess. One overran his 9 pdr cannon battery, braving the grapeshot and looked to be breaking through until reserves Portuguese Cacadores arrived and added to the volley firing. I lost that column in a rout, then another. It had been hard pounding on Las Lomas, a bloody mess for both sides, but I pulled back to the woods again, skirmishers still harassing me - damn those riflemen. The Brits had held, just. Their own attack had got nowhere. The knoll was no-man's land again.

In the centre, well it heated up surprisingly quickly, as my Dragoons rapidly arrived in marching column and sped forwards before deploying into lines. The Portuguese wavered but out came his reserves, just in time, Hussars to meet them and they all clashed in a big cavalry melee right in the middle of the table, which the Hussars got the better of, but then were counter-charged and forced back themselves. Bloodied and disordered both sides horsemen withdrew to regroup and try again. Which they did, resuming the sabre-to-sabre melee, and again, the Hussars could claim a marginal win. Tough men. The Dragoons were fought-out. 

Looking along the line, it was stalemate, and both sides were close to breaking. Where could we do some damage to win the day? The British light infantry boldly opened one square and sent forward skirmishers to shoot-up my lancers and also unleashed a fierce cannonade against them too, they almost broke under the fire, but a quick rally and, even if in battered shape, they charged at the British. The lance’s impact was messy, but the veteran light infantry’s musketry did more damage too, before they were scattered and routed. My lancers also broke in the melee, both sides losing a good unit, and thus both breaking. A draw, another draw… a damn close run thing!

Very entertaining and useful game, some changes needed after this… rallying is too common and too easy an option, making for cautious play I think, not risking losing units when you can stop and rally instead. That lengths the game too. The game was too long again, so a method of rewarding the opponent that forces you to rally (they are doing damage after all, or they wouldn’t need to) and shortens the game is required… I have one now, should work well. We’ll try it next time.

Few pictures of the afternoon’s fighting along the Rio Pequano. I think we’ll do a third game, the evening, to see if anybody can actually win this fictional day. By then, my Austrian army should be about ready to take the field, I have a campaign system to trial with them.

French right and centre deployed.

British light infantry brigade in columns for a quick march advance.

Light cavalry move forward and force the light infantry into squares, whilst under cannon fire. Green dice are for Disruption on the unit.

French centre of Marche infantry, a few Chasseurs and a 12 pdr battery. Hold here!

Main attack columns heading for the Las Lomas knoll. Scene of the battle's heaviest fighting.

Voltigeurs deploy and appear through the woods, met by their British equivalents, with riflemen in support as well.

Behind them, an attack column moves through the trees. Disruption caused by good British skirmish fire.

Over Las Lomas, British forming line to meet them, of course.

The reserve cavalry arrive in the centre and quickly advance to meet each other. Hussars facing Dragoons.

Columns repulsed with the first assault. Try again!

The cavalry clash continues as well, my Dragoons heavily Disrupted by supporting horse battery fire.

Light infantry skirmishers come out to shoot-up my Chasseurs. Light cavalry are well able to see off some pesky skirmishers though and soon sent them running back to the line.

Retreat! I pull back the survivors over Las Lomas, Voltiguers still trading shots with riflemen, in pursuit. The red line held.