Sunday, June 18, 2017

Western League Defeat in the Spaetzelthal

Sometime during the War of the Western League, some years before the outbreak of the Not Quite Seven Years War,  a League army advanced down the Spaetzelthal.  Falling back before them Colonel Adelmann, of Schoeffen-Buschhagen, was determined to stand at the Spaetleseberg, a position which dominated the valley, hoping that reinforcements would arrive before he was overwhelmed.  He had sent word to General Schwarzadler, his immediate superior and commander of the combined Wachovia/Schoeffen-Buschhagen  Coalition force, to hasten forward with all possible speed to reinforce his position.

The Spaetzelthal, Adelmann Regiment deployed on the slopes of the Spaetleseberg (view to the south)

Anticipating a difficult fight, Colonel Adelmann ordered his troops to erect hasty breastworks to fortify their position.  A single battery of guns was sited near the center of the Spaetleseberg, and a squadron of cavalry placed in a reserve as the southern end of the ridge.  It was none too soon.  In the distance could be heard the fifes and drums of the approaching League army.  Scouts quickly reported that the defenders were outnumbered by almost four to one.  

Situation near the start; the cavalry battle begins
The initial clash of cavalry

After some preliminary maneuvering, the Adelmann detachment was faced by two regiments of League troops; the Hesse-Hattemstadt regiment at the north, and the Schluesselbrett regiment to their south.  A regiment of Hesse-Hattemstadt cavalry, somewhat reduced by the previous days' marching and skirmishing, swept around the south end of the Spaetleseberg, to be met by the depleted Schoeffen-Buschhagen dragoons.  An extended cavalry battle of charge and countercharge soon developed, and the S-B dragoons had never had a finer day.  More than holding their own against the League horse, they drew back the Leaguers with terrible losses.  They were sustained in their fight by the timely arrival of the lead element of the hoped for reinforcements of General Schwarzadler, a unit of Wachovia curiassiers.  Eventually, the survivors of the beaten Hess-Hattemstadt horse retired from the field, while the Coalition cavalry rallied in open ground between two small woods.

Schlüsselbrett infantry attack in the center
While the cavalry battle was raging, though, the situation for the Coalition was in doubt on the slopes of the Spaetleseberg.  The Schluesselbrett infantry deployed into line and engaged in a deadly short range firefight with a wing of the Adelmann regiment holding the south end of the hill, and, further north, the other wing of the Adelmann regiment was assailed by the Hess-Hattemstadt regiment, aided by a detachment of Saxe-Kirchdorf jaegers.

Reinforcements rush toward the fight
Help was near to hand, though.  A column of troops, led by the remaining detachment of the Adelmann regiment, hastened toward the fight.

The last detachment of the Adelmann regiment charges the Schlueselbrett troops

The arriving troops counterattacked the Schluesselbrett regiment, and were driven off.  The Schluesselbrett regiment's casualties had been horrifying, but their morale held, for the moment.  As they rallied after the melee, the survivors of the Adelmann regiment withdrew from the field.

However, the Wachovians had arrived, and a sharp fighter between the advancing Wachovian light infantry and the battered Schluesselbrett regiment proved to be too much for the latter, and they too retired to reorganize.

At the north end of the Spaetleseberg, the Hesse-Hattemstadt forces drove off the S-Bs and occupied their position, but the arrival of fresh Wachovians proved too much for them and they were shortly forced to retire.

It was now late in the evening, and the League commander considered his position.  His Saxe-Weilenz troops were still fresh, but slightly outnumbered by the Wachovians.  There seemed little chance of clearing the critical positions on the Spaetleseberg before dark, and, with the possibility of further enemy reinforcements to be considered, he ordered a withdrawal.

The commanders
Norman and I were probably at the game for a little over two hours, and it ran to seven turns.  The scenario was "Reinforcements in the Defense: On The Table", number 15 from C.S. Grant's Scenarios for Wargames (the "Green Book").  The rules were Lawford and Young's Charge!, and the scenario translation was on the basis of 1 book unit to 1 company or squadron of infantry and cavalry, and 2 book units of artillery to one gun on the table.

We have used the scenario on multiple occasion previously, and, given the rules, we added the breastworks to the defenders, to give them a chance against the attackers.  With no random morale rules, it's difficult for a Charge unit to hold against odds for very long.  Given the basing of our troops, and the fact the the book specifies that this scenario is to be fought across the narrow end of a rectangular table, it got a little crowded.  We had intended to fight it without the unsightly movement trays, but Norman ended up faced with a time constraint, so we tray-ed the troops for convenience.

Map of our theater of conflict
The War of the Western League is what we get when playing at home; it's our excuse for running a game using only the troops of countries stored here, and involves Schluesselbrett, Hesse-Hattemstadt, and Saxe-Weilenz against the coalition of Schoeffen-Buschhagen and Wachovia.  We used William's Free City of Wiegenburg troops as stand-ins for the still-to-be-painted Saxe-Weilenzers today.

It's been over a year since these troops were on the table, so we were glad of an opportunity to deploy them.  I do need to decide on some rules that would allow use of smaller units to make more efficient use of our limited 5 foot by 6 foot table.

Switching things up

We swapped armies out for a third game, and ended up with orcs against the elves (and allies). Prompted by the game I played with Ross at Huzzah, I decided I could be more daring with my approach to the terrain, and tried to attack his archers in the woods with my heroes. Things did not work out...eventually, I was vindicated in my notion that a hero-general in the woods with a total of +4 was still a powerful unit as I started to roll up his orcish warband. It was too late by then, though, as his general succeeded in his first attack on my stronghold for an immediate victory.

A Bad Day for the Emperor

Despite a careful rereading of the manuals, the Mizarenes were unable to prevent the Cold Islanders from sacking a second town. After a confused melee, the decisive blow was struck by heroic leader of the Cold Islanders, who took on the Mizarene wizard in hand-to-spell combat. Undoubtedly he had been angered by being forced to endure several magical attacks without the ability to respond...

1/72 scale digression

Norman was delayed somewhat by traffic yesterday, so the 40mm battle remains to be fought later today. While waiting for breakfast time to arrive, we set up a quick game of 1/72 Hordes of the Things, pitting my incomplete Cold Islands barbarian army against Norman's Mizarene field force. (Basically Vikings versus Byzantines...) Unfortunately for the Emperor's finest, their training and military manuals were no match for the ferocity of the Northmen in the first skirmish, as the Mizarene riders vanished under a hail of arrows, and their knights disappeared in a blinding flash of magic produced by the Blue Sorceress. Not long after, their general was surprised by the appearance of an angry warband on his flank, and he fell in the confused melee which followed...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Help is on the Way!

My son, the Prince-Palatine of Wachovia, is on his way up for a visit with some gaming. Since the NQSYW troops haven't been out in a while, that will be the first thing on the agenda. We're actually dropping back in time to the War of the Western League, which occurred prior to the NQSYW, to the the defense of the Spaetleseberg. A detachment of the Schoeffen-Buschhagen Adelmann Regiment is holding the hill against a combined league force, hoping to hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hinchliffe Week

I've mentioned previously that I ended up with a cache of mostly Hinchliffe mostly Byzantines from the flea market at Huzzah in 2015.  Last year sometime, I cleaned and primed a dozen Varangians with axes, intending to add them to my fantasy Byzantine project.

I recently finished them.
Myzantine Dragon Guards

Inspired by this success, I went to the box and pulled out eighteen peasants, a handful of crossbowmen, and ten Pecheneg horse archers.  I figured that, as long as I had the metal cleaning gear out, I might as well add a half dozen Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals Mongol horse archers to the mix.  That was Monday, the 29th of May.

Metal cleaning day

Old Hinchliffes have a rough-and-ready sculpting style, which responds reasonable well to mass painting.  I'm not too fond of the crossbowman casting, but I painted them anyway, but the peasants came out reasonable well for as little time as I put into them.

Five Myzantine crossbow skirmishers

With eighteen peasants (including one stray Byzantine staff slinger), I decided that I would base two groups of six, and the rest as individuals.  Most of the fantasy rules I'm using now are based around twelve figure units.
Hinchliffe Peasants

Unfortunately for my budget, just as I was cleaning and priming the figures, somebody on the Old School Miniatures discussion on FaceBook posted a picture asking for identification of a Hinchliffe Robin Hood peasant woman.

I ended up deciding to thicken up the individually based peasants with a bunch of Robin Hood figures, since the castings are available from Hinds Figures. Mr. Hinds was very prompt with my order, so I now have a couple of dozen Robin Hood and Sheriff figures in hand, which will probably form a pair of matched war bands for Dragon Rampant, as well as serve as bandits for D&D.

Newly arrived Robin Hood range figures

I have a dozen of those, including the principal characters, primed as of this morning, and hope to get started on them shortly.

As a bit of a digression, I had some time to paint at lunch this week, and finished a unit of Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals orcs, from the recent Chaos Wars Kickstarter.  They'd been sitting in my cupboard for a good while, so I was glad to clear them out.  I've also primed another dozen goblins to follow up.

Chaos Wars orc warriors

So it's been a good week or two for painting...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Some Recent Painting

Following my string of defeats in Dragon Rampant (DR) at Huzzah, I decided it was time to add a new unit to the mix.  DR calls for 6 figure cavalry or war beast stands.  I had wanted to do some giant rats in Iron Wind/Ral Partha, so I'd bought enough for six bases some time ago.  They have been sitting around primed, but otherwise untouched, for a few months, and this was their week.

I kept it simple, three base colors with three corresponding dry brush shades over them.  The large swarm bases are Iron Wind catalog number 01-045, and the individual rats on the smaller bases are DF-106, originally sculpted by Julie Guthrie as part of her "All Things Dark and Dangerous" line for Ral Partha.  I had them done in about an hour; it probably took longer to base them than to paint them...

These two veteran Minifigs are destined to be part of the upcoming ME war bands project.  The Ithilien ranger (ME34) is an eBay acquisition, but the heavy goblin (ME56) was handed to me by my brother (one of seven), and is one that's been in the combined family collection for 40+ years.

I took my travel paint kit and half a dozen miniatures on my most recent business trip, a week before Huzzah.  My actual painting time turned out to be somewhat limited, but I finished these two Heritage figures.  The Boromir (movie version, catalog number 1750) is a Mike Thomas/Classic Miniatures recast, and completes (finally) my Fellowship.  I think it's been about two years since I bought them from Mike.  The cleric is from a package of four expansion figures for the TSR boardgames Dungeon, based, I believe, on an article in a Strategic Review or Dragon. (The expansion, that is...) He drifted in as part of an eBay lot with a lot of nice (and unusual) Heritage stuff early in my eBay obsession, so also almost two years ago.

While most of them have been done for a while, here's the Fellowship lined up:

I mentioned in my Huzzah report that I took my 1/72 Hordes of the Things armies with me.  These mixed manufacturer Vikings were finished in time for the trip, but Ross's army was using pretty much the same figures, so I thought it would be less confusing to leave them out of the game. (My army was mostly Airfix Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood figures...)

That puts me at 5 bases of "Cold Islanders" for the campaign, so I hope to get back to painting more of them soon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Huzzah 2017 After Action Report

After taking a year off from Huzzah in 2016 (for my son's college graduation), I made the trip again this year.

Huzzah takes place in Portland, Maine, at a hotel near the airport, which makes flying very practical.  This year my significant other was up for a road trip and some shopping at the nearby L.L. Bean outlet, so I was able to pack my 40mm Renaissance figures to be half of a game run with my long-time collaborator Ross Macfarlane.  In some future year, though, I may find myself limited to staging a game that is air-transportable, but that's a topic for a different post.

The general stress of life has been a little high this year, so I was fortunate that Ross was up to the task of doing most of the planning for our game, as well as acting as the convention liaison for the contingent of HAWKs who came up for the weekend.  As the convention approached, I have been working on something else entirely (1/72 fantasy), so Ross dipped into his vast collection of miniatures and came up with a 1/72 Hordes of the Things army so that we'd have an alternative pick up game.

Irene and I reached Portland on Thursday evening after an uneventful drive.  Official gaming at Huzzah starts after lunch on Friday, so there was a little time to relax and make ready.  When Ross arrived, we grabbed a table for a quick review game of the 40mm Renaissance rules we use, and then moved on to our first official game.

We were both in a 54mm English Civil War game, using plastic figures from A Call to Arms and the Very Civile Actions rules from The Perfect Captain.  The gamemaster, Jeff Estabrook, had chosen the Battle of Brentford, immediately after Edgehill at the beginning of the war, as the basis of his scenario, and we had a good game of pushing around pike blocks.  I used to do ECW in 25mm, but sold them off some years ago, figuring that one pike and shot project (40mm 16th century) was probably enough.  I think I'll maintain that resolve, but I was reminded that I like the toy soldier feel of gaming with the big figures.

My troops at Brentford

Ross surveys the battlefield

Ross and I set up our game in the after-supper time block.  We used a generic scenario drawn from the Stuart Asquith book on solo wargaming, which we set in the 1544 Boulogne campaign, part of Henry VIII's second French war, and which is more or less the default time frame for our troop collections.  The scenario involved two forces on converging paths, each tasked with holding a village and exiting troops off a single road on the far side of the field.  Our forces were somewhat asymmetrical, with the French being heavier, and the English (and allies) being superior in firepower.  I thought the game went well, with all of the players remaining actively engaged right up to the end at the four hour mark.  The French were edged out of the village and blocked from exiting, but it was a near run thing in both cases.

My pikes, French today, advance toward the village

The starting positions; armies converging

My village of Fat Dragon Fold-flat buildings

The English advance guard

Push of Pike!

Ross ran an impromptu demonstration of Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame rules in the Saturday morning block, and I had a go at evicting the British from Zululand a couple of times, using an eclectic mix of 54mm troops from Ross's collection.  Forces ranged from A Call to Arms plastic Zulus to 80 year old vintage Britains, recently restored and repainted.  I already have a copy of The Portable Wargame, so happily I'm ready to try this at home, perhaps using some troops that haven't been out in a while.

Some war-games veterans here...

On Saturday afternoon, local gamer Rob Wheeler (who does business as Pennyfew Painting) stopped in to deliver some commissions and to play a couple of rounds of Dragon Rampant.  His war band was composed primarily of vintage Ral Partha figures, and I fielded two different bands, one of mostly Ral Partha figures, "The Masters of Lizards", and one entirely of early Heritage figures, "Forest Defenders". They were equally unsuccessful, so I will be looking for some revenge at a future convention...

Two Robs

Heritage Treemen send the Ral Partha bugbears packing; one of my few moments of triumph...

Rob's army advances; my RAFM Reptiliads are helpless.

I had not preregistered for anything for the convention (see comment regarding life stress above), so the Saturday evening games were pretty much closed out.  Therefore Ross, Irene, and I had an unhurried dinner at a steak place across the street, and then came back to set up a pickup game of Hordes of the Things, using the 1/72 scale plastics we had brought.  Once again, my skills were wholly inadequate to the situation at hand, and my army was sent packing with a 6:1 loss ratio by Ross's barbarians (built from a mix of Revell Saxons, Orion Vikings, and the classic Airfix Ancient Britons).  

Ross with his improvised army

Ross's Black Cauldron

Ross did a reprise of the Portable Wargame on Sunday morning, so I had a quick session using Russian Civil War figures against fellow HAWK Duncan Adams, before heading out for the long drive home.

Time to go until next year

Huzzah remains a great local convention.  I was glad to be back this year, and look forward to attending again next year, although I might be a little more proactive about registering for games in advance.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Huzzah 2017

Ross and I are running a 40mm 16th century game this evening at Huzzah.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

More 1/72 Vikings

I'm continuing to chip away at the Hordes of the Things fantasy Viking-type army for the campaign, with 2 more war band figures finished up at lunch yesterday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Solo Campaign, interim

Time for both reading and painting has been scarce the past two weeks, but I am still going through my reading list for the solo campaign. Today, another chapter or two in Featherstone...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Interlude: Boxes of 1/72 scale plastic, a guilty pleasure

Like many wargamers of a certain age, my first battles were fought with Airfix plastic soldiers. New sets were few and far between in the early 1970s, and I was amazed with the wealth of possibilities when I dropped back into the historical gaming world around 1986. Well, I hadn't seen anything yet...

Anyway, probably as a result of early imprinting, I've always been excited by the possibilities inherent in a new box of plastic. Even when frugality and space considerations had me tracking my lead purchases closely, I always gave a pass to plastic, a reality which continues through today. So, when I decided to work on this campaign idea, I had no need to go any farther than the basement in order to round up a heap of potential resources for the new armies.

Son Norman helpfully pointed out that he had been concerned that I was biting off more than I could chew, given that I already had about 1 1/2 of the 5 armies I had placed on the map. He's probably right, but at least any elements finished will fit directly into his larger 1/72 fantasy/Hordes of the Things campaign map, so they'll see some use, and I needed the mapping pactice anyway.

I think that I will actually make more progress if I clean things up and prime them just a couple of units at a time, rather than by the whole army. The latter strategy is what I did with the Cold Islanders (various Vikings and Saxons), and might possibly bear some of the blame for the fact that the primed strips of troops I've been painting lately have been in a box for four or five years.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1/72 Zvezda Viking leaders

With the campaign map in hand, I was back to painting more figures. These Zvezda Viking leaders (1 each per box) will be based as a Hordes of the Things hero stand for the Cold Islanders...

Saturday, April 8, 2017

1/72 Fantasy Campaign, Part 2

This one will just be a short update...using the techniques in Jared Blando's book on fantasy maps, I have drawn up and tinted an area movement campaign map for the proposed solo campaign. I threw in zones for a Necromancer contingent, some lizard men, and the dragons, all of which I could paint, though not in army strength.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

More 1/72 scale work

I have been continuing to work on my Hordes of the Things fantasy campaign armies this week. These three Revell Anglo-Saxons (from set 02551) are almost ready to join the Cold Islander barbarian forces.

I am expecting that these figures won't be based on their final configuration until I get more of the overall class (in this case, "warbands") done. That will allow me to ensure that I don't end up at the end with a stand of 6 figures all in the same pose. I revived this army sub-project after cleaning and priming the figures four or five years ago, so I don't entirely remember what I had in mind, but it was about six stands of six figures each for the warbands, and I'm currently up to about 8 of those 36 figures.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Vintage 25mm Fantasy Reinforcements

Part 2 on the solo fantasy campaign is still shaping up, but I did finally finish a few figures yesterday, so I though I would share them.

First up is a team of 18 Minifigs ME (Mythical Earth) elves from ~1974.  I got my start in fantasy miniatures wargaming with Minifigs, and I've been working the past two years to reassemble a representative force to supplement the handful I still have from back in the day.  As I was finishing these figures up, I ended up with another lot of 18 from eBay, so I hope eventually to have two units of twelve, a unit of six, and the three-figure command stand to represent the elves.

Minifig ME Elves

When I revived the old fantasy project, I looked at other Minifigs ranges on the Lost Minis Wiki.  I don't really remember seeing the Valley of the Four Winds figures in stores at the time, but today they interest me.  Among the other oddities in the range is this "giant armored woodlouse" (aka pill bug, or sow bug), so I was pleased when I was able to obtain one last year.  I'm not sure how it's going to feature in a scenario yet, but it's ready when I figure it out.

Minifig Valley of the Four Winds Woodlouse
Another eBay lot last year brought a pack of wargs, a mix of these Custom Cast/Heritage figures (catalog number 1011) and some old Ral Partha Wizards, Warriors, and Warlocks ones.  These were finally painted last month, when Norman came up for a game and paint session on the 11th.  Painting them turned out to be easier to get done than the basing. (not that the basing was especially difficult; just questionable time management on my part.)

Custom Cast/Heritage Wargs

The last thing finished off yesterday is this Iron Wind Metals "Elven Colossus", originally cast by Ral Partha as part of a small range of 54mm display figures.  IWM rereleased it as part of the 2015 Chaos Wars revival Kickstarter.  I did this one as fairly well polished bronze; there are just a few traces of verdigris in the deeper crevices.  The HAWKs members have been playing around a lot with verdigris effects in the production of scenery for Frostgrave.  If I were to do another, I might be "greener"with it.

Iron Wind Metals/Ral Partha "Elven Colossus"