Saturday, 18 March 2017

Punic Wars Warm Up

It's that time of year when the Summer Theme Game starts to go through a warm up process where collections get brought together, rules get tested and often adapted and scenarios get formulated.

Last year we were focused on Colonial South Africa and practising our 'Zulu' best remembered lines reported on JJ's Wargames


This year we see the club do a total volte-face as we head off to the Mediterranean and Republican Rome's struggle with Carthage in the Punic Wars.

These warm up games have become a traditional feature of the club throughout the year as we tend to get together for a 'big game' in the summer and at Xmas and they have proved invaluable in the past for finding out what will and won't work when a large group of us play with lots of figures on the table.

As normal with a game of Hail Caesar you eventually reach a point where you either "make it up or look it up", as we like to say in the club, and as you can see below the Devon Wargames Group is blessed with a very seasoned, experienced, group of rules analysts, rather like the Supreme Court, ready to give their combined judgement that will be written up latter and added to the DWG book of case law that will guide future judgement calls.

There are still figures to be added to our combined output for the upcoming game including me taking some time out from Napoleonic production line work to put together my puny, but I like to think vital, contribution of eight Numidian light cavalry, which will do double duty with my Dacian Wars collection later on.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Battle of Barrosa 1811 - Over the Hills

A rather fanciful depiction of the Battle of Barrosa by Baron Lejeune, with the British depicted in their much later Belgic Shakos, but the view beyond of the coast and the island city of Cadiz in the background really captures the location for the battle

It was way back in March 2015 that we first played Barrosa, a fascinating battle that saw General Sir Thomas Graham avert a potential disaster as the French under Marshal Victor attempted to attack an Anglo Spanish relief force marching to break the siege of Cadiz, in the flank and rear.

This time we were playing the scenario using Over the Hills (OTH) which we featured in the Vimeiro game back in January this year.

Photo-map to illustrate the positions at start

So to set the scene and refresh the memory for those who know something about the Battle of Barrosa and those that are having a great, never to be repeated, moment of discovering a new battle that fires up the imagination, I shall recap the history and set the scene for the Battle of Barrosa or Chiclana as the Spanish may refer to it.

Following the disastrous Battle of Ocana near Madrid on the 19th November 1809, the only Spanish army capable of defending Andalusia and southern Spain was now destroyed and in the winter campaign that followed French Imperial forces flooded through the passes of the Sierra Morena under Marshal Soult forcing the Supreme Junta to decamp from Seville and head for the last remaining defensible city, Cadiz. Fortunately for Spain and the allied cause the Duke of Albuquerque on his own initiative lead the last remaining Spanish troops in the area to the city beating the arrival of the French by just two days, arriving on the 3rd February 1810.


Cadiz went into a state of siege as the Spanish were later joined by British and Portuguese troops to help bolster the garrison and the Royal Navy ensured supplies to the city and secured it against any water-borne attempts to storm it.

Over the next year with allied reinforcements and draw-downs on the French besiegers an opportunity presented itself for the garrison to attempt to relieve the siege by arranging for a landing force to be transported out of the city to land along the coast at Tarifa behind the French allowing them to come up on their rear.

The Anglo Spanish force was commanded by Spanish General Manuel Lapena and General Sir Thomas Graham was subordinate commanding the Anglo-Portuguese rear-guard division.

Marshal Victor became aware of the allied approach and set a trap by blocking the road into Cadiz and his lines of circumvallation, whilst having two divisions inland ready to fall upon the rear of the allied column as it made its way along the coast road.

The battle started when Graham became aware of the French movement to his rear and turned about to offer battle before the French could press him back into the sea and roll up the remaining Spanish forces from the rear.

The two order of battles show how different but well matched the two sides are with just six Fatigue Score points favouring the Anglo Spanish force.

In OTH the quality, training and size of the units are measured by a given Fatigue Score (FS) rating with a bulk standard French or British battalion of about 600 men scoring a 7 or 8 FS. The FS is the number that needs to be rolled equal to or less than to rally, shoot and fight the battalion, squadron or battery using a d10 and the total FS for any given formation (brigade, division, corps and army) is halved to give a break point total for that force.

As fatigue is accrued, from moving and combat, through the game it is tallied with the use of dice against the unit affected and its parent formation. Unit FS can be rallied off to keep the unit fighting, but formation FS cannot and when it is used up the formation is deemed out of action and its surviving units will automatically withdraw from the battle.

The photo map at the top of the post shows where the respective formations were set up as the two forces were close to engaging, with Victor's 1st Division atop Barrosa Hill and his 2nd Division preparing to sweep down to the coast road just as Graham's Anglo Portuguese emerged from the tree-line ready to attack them.

On the coastal road and Anglo-Spanish force of infantry and cavalry under Wittingham and Cruz Murgeon faced off against Dermancourt's mixed brigade of Light Infantry and Dragoons.

I chose to keep the British 67th Foot as a complete battalion in its parent brigade but a strictly historical set up might have the battalion split into two parts with each British brigade reflecting the confusion caused as Graham rapidly turn his force around to respond the the French threat.

This was a trial scenario that I am working on for OTH and so I was using some loose (unwritten but explained) guidance for the players, re terrain and objectives.

I played the woods as open, causing fatigue to formed troops moving through it, which on reflection I would not and we adjusted the game partway in to free up the British troops moving through it to get at the French in the open. This feature was not disruptive enough to stop Graham's men deploying through and from it with the 87th Foot charging into the 8th Ligne and taking the first Eagle captured by British troops in the Peninsular War.

As far as objectives are concerned, I am not convinced that this scenario benefits from terrain specific objectives as clearly both sides were looking to close with the enemy and destroy them, irrespective of terrain, as both sides knew that if the Allies did not stop and break the French, they were going for an early bath in the Mediterranean, best case option.

That said in the actual engagement the French on Barrosa Hill seemed quite content to let the Anglo-Portuguese come to them up hill in the face of their whithering fire so I decided to not use order changes in this game and let the players choose their ground with the intent to watch and learn with some ideas I have in mind for orders in the written up scenario.

Battle lines drawn with the French (right of picture) occupying Barrosa Hill

So with things all set up and both sides intent on taking it to the enemy the British were deemed Side A and began to move their troops forward towards the French who as I suspected were quite content to allow them to suffer the delights of skirmish and artillery fire played on them as they did so.

I needed a suitable look out tower for Barrosa Hill so my Hovels windmill got an outing to club

With Colours flying and the drums and pipes jauntily playing 'A British Grenadier' heard floating over the noise of French cannon, the British lines closed up each time a soldier fell and grimly pressed on to the awaiting French line.

British Guards preceded by Lieutenant Colonel John Browne's Flank Battalion in open order 

Wheatley's brigade were the first to open fire on Leval's French line as they emerged from the tree line on the British left flank and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Barnard's mighty flank battalion, nearly a thousand men strong, opened fire moving out in open order with their four companies of 95th Rifles bowling over French officers and NCO's as they moved.

Meanwhile the Royal Artillery nine-pounder batteries quickly deployed from the woodland trail to add their round-shot to the skirmish fire.

General de Division Leval's 2nd French Division receive British artillery and skirmish fire as they emerge from the tree-line beyond. The first blue mini-dice fatigue markers start to blossom behind French battalions.

It was not long in coming when the weaker artillery response from the spread out French artillery started to answer the British fire but the casualties were negligible in the early part of the advance.

The two British Guards battalions are preceded by Brownes Flank battalion and three companies of 95th Rifles

Colonel Barnard quickly got his men formed from their open order approach, and keen to take advantage of the accurate skirmishing from his riflemen and the Britishh round-shot plying the French line, waved his hat as he encouraged his men who, giving three cheers, lowered their bayonets and charged the 2/54me Ligne.

The French battalion already disordered by the fire received turned tail almost immediately and G de D Leval had to ride into the ranks of his soldiers to steady their nerve as Barnard's men charged forward.

Ruffin's artillery opens fire on the British troops advancing on Barrosa Hill 

When Barnard looked rearwards for support from the three British battalions supposedly coming on behind, he was shocked to see that they were still shaking themselves out into line from the trees equally disordered by French fire as they did so.

Meanwhile the Guards and their skirmish line had pressed on to the lower slopes of Barrosa Hill and the rifles of the 95th together with Colonel Browne's flank companies began to methodically drive in the French skirmishers picking off men and French FS as they did so.

The 95th Rifles open their account in the skirmish battle as the two lines close

The two lines were now closing rapidly and the first close combats were fast approaching as both sides attempted to get in first to take advantage of unit FS before it could be rallied off.

British 9lbrs pour on the shot and shell so efficiently one battery runs out of ammunition and has to send off for more.
This as Wheatley struggles to deal with the disorder brought to his line from accurate French return fire

The French on Barrosa Hill tried to grab the initiative back from Dilkes' Guards by sending in one of their composite grenadier battalions in column, taking advantage of their uphill position.

The 1st Foot Guards silently came to the halt as the cheering grenadiers crested the hill and closed on them. The order to present was given and six hundred Brown Bess muskets were levelled at the enemy. The fire when it came was devastating and with a cheer the Guards drove forward pushing the French back from whence they came.

The British approach on Barrosa Hill drives in the French skirmish screen

Meanwhile the point of decision was fast approaching on the French right flank as the fight had stalemated into a 'who can pound the longest' affair with the French artillery and 2/54me Ligne driven from the field, but with both sides teetering on the edge of force morale failure and with just one possible chance of close combat that would see one or both sides depart from the field of battle.

Wheatley's brigade threaten a breakthrough as the 2/54me Ligne disintegrates in the face of Barnard's Flank Battalion charge, leaving the centre of the French line threatened as the 2/8me Ligne step up to fill the gap and as FS markers record the reaction to the French battalion's demise, four FS against the 1/54me closest to camera. Note G de D Leval in the centre steadying the men.

General Wheatley decided to throw the dice on one last desperate gamble to break his opposite number's will to resist and the 2/87th came forward to support Colonel Barnard's flankers as together they charged the French line.

'Not good, not good!!' The 2/54me break to the rear leaving the French division with just 5 FS from an original 25 FS at start of play

Would the French line stand this time? The fighting was fierce across the front as the 2/87th won their tussle with the French grenadiers and drove them back to their start line on the road, but taking yet more fatigue hits for their trouble.

Meanwhile Barnard's men crossed bayonets with the 2/8me Ligne and losing the combat in the last of three rounds were forced to fall back leaving both the British and French formations on 1 FS each, but the British battalion was forced directly back which meant clipping one of the support battalions behind adding a further 2 FS from the corresponding disorder caused by the interpenetration and Wheatley's battle was over leaving the consolation that so was Leval's, holding the field but with 1FS remaining unable to do very much with it.

The battle in its closing stages - Laval and Wheatley  (left of picture) have fought each other to a standstill with both teetering on FS collapse - Dilke's British Guards have charged up Barrosa Hill shrugging of hits and destroying the 1/96me Ligne breaking to the rear (centre top)

With battle well and truly joined along the front the Anglo Spanish brigades of Wittingham and Cruz Mugeon decided to lend a little support, seeing the KGL 2nd Hussars launch a surprise charge onto the corner of Barrosa Hill catching a column of the 2/24me Ligne in the flank before it could react, however the French column held its nerve and though badly shaken managed to drive off the German hussars in the third round of combat.

To support their efforts the Spanish dragoons gamely trotted forward to detain their French opposites getting the worst of the affair but drawing the French dragoons away from their brigade comrades the 2/9 Legere who were equally surprised by the German hussars charging forward to take on their line.

This time the German cavalry drove the French infantry back but was unable to break them just as their Spanish comrades disintegrated in the face of another attack by the French 1st Dragoons forcing Cruz Mugeon's Spanish infantry into square.

The cavalry battle on the coast in full sway as the KGL Hussars charge into a line of the 2/9me Legere (bottom right) and the Spanish infantry form square at the 1st French Dragoons break their Spanish opposites, seen fleeing to the rear (bottom left)

The Battle on Barrosa Hill was the crescendo of our afternoon as both guards battalions seemingly sensing the struggle the other allied brigades were having to grab the ascendancy took the battle by the scruff of the neck as they charged into Ruffin's line atop the hill, breaking the 1/96me Ligne in a vain attempt to stop the 2nd/3rd Composite Guards battalion; and with the 1st Guards equally aware of bragging rights among the Household troops once back in the changing room, smashed into the French 1st Provisional Grenadiers and the 1/24me Ligne driving both battalions back over the ridge in three rounds of combat, leaving the French division badly battered.

The Guards Brigade become an irresistible force as Ruffin's division reels in the face of their attack

We called the game there with one British brigade quit the field, one Spanish dragoon regiment dispersed,  one French brigade teetering on 1 FS force morale and the British Guards atop Barrosa hill with two French infantry battalions and half a battery of guns dispersed.

Both armies had fought each other to a standstill and given us a great afternoons entertainment. The rules, yet again, stood up very well in this, just our second full on game.

We came away with lots of ideas about house rules and other adaptations we can make, but the game stood out for the fun it generated with some very hard fought combats swinging the game in different directions throughout the afternoon. Great Fun.

Wheatley's Brigade forced to withdraw as their morale breaks leaving just one point of FS to Leval's tired men (note the larger blue die in the background recording remaining FS)

Thank you to Steve, Steve L, Si and Ian for playing the game with a great spirit and really going for the win. Much fun had by all.

Anyone interested in researching this battle would be well advised getting a copy of
'The Battle of Barrosa 1811, Forgotten Battle of the Peninsular War' by John Grehan and Martin Mace, published by Pen & Sword.

A really good read with lots of information about the battle, the units and commanders.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

15mm 7YW manufacturer comparisons : Russian Command

Annoyingly I am one command stand short for my new 15mm 7YW Russian army and not wanting to buy another 50 figure pack from OG just for 4 figures I looked around for something suitable elsewhere . I also wanted to find an alternative to OG's Russian infantry standard bearers because as you will see in the pictures below they are ridiculously short in length.. Unfortunately although members on TMP said that Blue Moon and Eureka infantry were compatible, I couldn't find any pictures on what I actually wanted.
I therefore bought a pack of each so as to find out for myself.

Eureka : This first picture is of 300SYW305P  Russian Musketeer Command  . I choose the option to have 4 standard bearers instead of just 2  , dropping 2 NCO's

Pack Contents 8 x 18mm Eureka figures from Fighting 15's
Blue Moon :My pack had for some reason an extra NCO instead of my 2nd officer which was a little disappointing but you do get 4 standard bearers automatically and Fifers ! 
Pack Contents:12 x 15mm Blue Moon from Old Glory UK

 Next is a comparison shot of 4 manufacturers:  3 figures from each and just as an extra item I have tacked onto the end some Irregular Miniatures Prussian command I had in stock. How short is that OG Standard pole !

L to R:  Blue Moon , Old Glory , Eureka , Irregular

 The Final Picture is an approximate height comparison shot . 
L to R :  Blue Moon , Old Glory , Eureka .

Obviously you are now desperate for my opinion, Given that all my armies are made up from Old Glory which of the others would I use ?

Irregular is obviously too small as they are 15mm and don't mix with the bigger 18mm figures , Blue Moon is sold as 15mm but are much nearer 18mm , they are a little skinnier but would be OK'ish and the ones I bought will not go to waste however my choice would be Eureka as their height and thickness are pretty similar to Old Glory . There is something different in the way the figures look but its not easy to explain, I guess its probably as they are a newer range then their sculpting is perhaps a little sharper but that could just be my lack of coffee.
Another plus is that you can buy them in assorted smaller packs qty's of 8 or 24 and which would again save on having to get that extra one of the bigger 50 man OG packs .

Prices  Feb 2017:

Eureka : 8 figures for £4
Blue Moon : 12 figures for £6 

This has been a Mr Steve Production

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Action at the Corinth Canal - Chain of Command

Our third game featured at this month's meeting was this lovely looking Chain of Command game recreating events in Greece in 1941.

Chain of Command (CoC) Game Report by Nathan (Gamemeister for the day), Pictures by JJ.

A rag tag British platoon are holding a village on the road to the Corinth Canal Bridge, with a Bren gun carrier and light tank as support, requiring to use CoC dice and then randomise where it arrived. They had five command dice and one CoC dice in hand and were commanded by Steve H.

Greece 1941, Chain of Command style
The Fallschirmjagers are attacking with two platoons, and various support options.

The two commanders Ian and Jason decided to take a 37mm ATG, FF assault team, and two MG34 MMG's; they had five command dice due to dispersal rules, and also had to roll twice to get anything on the board after the first roll. They were only informed of this when they tried to bring anything further on table. If they had taken battalion command support option this would have increased their
command dice to six.

With the drone of passing JU52 transports and occasional ack-ack, the British defenders stand to
The British deployed in and around the village, with wire defences across the board. The Germans then diced to see where they entered the board, with a chance that this could have put them in and around, and behind the British lines; as it turned out this did not transpire and the Germans came on the board with each player sending forward sections to call out the British positions.

The Germans advanced and a shout of ambush rang out as the British HMG opened up on the FJ in the open, pinning down a section.

The Germans had to get fire suppression on the British positions which they managed to do, but had to call in nearly the whole platoon and support weapons to do so. Jason’s platoon was being used to pin the enemy infantry whilst Ian sent his whole platoon around to the right to gain access.

FJ sections and weapons teams prepare to move into the assault

This went on all day with the German 1st platoon morale dropping to three at one point, with multiple leaders being hit and wounded and one squad routing. The British, in hard cover, had a hard time with the amount of fire coming in, and once Ian had got around the right and started engaging with another platoon they started taking more and more casualties.

Assaulting heavy cover means putting down plenty of suppressive fire to keep the defenders heads down

Right lads, listen up, there are Jerry paratroops out there and it's our job to stop-em!'

'Looks like they're trying to turn our flank Sarge!'

The British morale folded to four and in the last turn of the game they took more casualties forcing them to give up.

The pressure builds as the fire crackles across no man's land

A bit of extra fire support couldn't do any harm

The road to the Corinth canal bridge was open.

Not part of the game, but I couldn't resist grabbing a picture of one of Nathan's pretty Crusader tanks - JJ

Great game with swings both ways, thanks to Ian, Jason and Steve.


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

15mm Old Glory 7YW Russians Un-Bagging

As previously threatened I am back with more un-bagging pictures from Old Glory's 15mm 7YW range , this time its the Russians  who are going to be the opposition to the Ottomans we have seen un-bagged already. To forestall the howls of complaints from my fellow club members I will attempt to get as much into this post as possible.
Fortunately this is helped by there not being that many variations in this army to show you. I will however add on some extra figures I have used from their Renaissance range to complement the pictures already on their website , purely to give you an idea of what you actually get in each pack.

First are SYR1 Russian Infantry Defending

Next we have SYR6 Russian Grenadiers :

Next : SYR7 Russian Artillery
My pack was missing two large Gun Carriages which were sent on later by Timecast. So to confirm, you get the 4 medium carriages shown in the picture plus 2 bigger ones.

SYR13 Russian Generals

SYR 9 Russian Dragoons

Finally I want to add in quite a lot of Cossacks but there aren't any in the 7YW range so I had to pick from the Renaissance range.OG have done pictures for these but I am adding them in purely for completion purposes.
RC03 Cossacks with Melee Weapons
RC01 Mounted Cossack Command

Thats it for the first muster but I have already given some thought about expanding the armies later which will probably include some more new packs to show you such as Hussars, Horse Grenadiers , Light Infantry and Secret Howitzers.
This has been a Mr Steve production.