Saturday, November 28, 2020

Whaddiya make of that?

"There shouldn't be any Rebel infantry on that road, maybe a few cavalry patrols, but.... "

"There they are and I see  elements of two separate infantry brigades. It looks like they're not expecting us to be here either!" 

"Get a message off to General Douglas with word that the enemy has turned and is coming up the Rawdon Road in force. 

"Gentleman, I think  we're going to have us another battle."

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Minor Scrap

At last various Scots and their weapons were reunited, a wounded highlander with two broken ankles healed, and a replacement for one fatal casualty modified and painted. 

I was ready to play.  

The English objective was to seize the major road exit with a minor victory being awarded if they managed to take the minor road exit. (behind the Highlanders). There was an unmarked ford on the English left. They knew of it but had to find the exact location.

The old Rough Wooing rules still work, as does one of the later versions, but I no longer like their style, especially for solo or multiplayer games. After casting about for ideas, I stumbled on a reminder that for me, the latest version of the Gathering of Hosts rules work just fine for this period. At least they will once a handful of notes are properly written up! So, I went with that.

The Scots artillery and Highland archers took a heavy toll of the English Whitecoats but their archers and artillery served the Highlanders even worse!

The scenario was also improvised. Having drawn a random cloth from the cupboard, it turned out to be the river one and a river crossing as scenario suggested itself. Since my English outnumber the Scots when the French aren't around, I made them attack.

There wasn't much to the scenario. Smaller force on hill line, river with one bridge and one reported, but not yet identified, ford. (Once per turn, the light cavalry may roll one die needing a 5 or 6 to find the ford.

I'm afraid both commanders may have been a little preoccupied with non-battle concerns at times as there were some very poor tactical choices made early on by both sides.....(That's my excuse anyway.)

However, despite there being several occasions when one side or the other seemed doomed, the advantage swayed back and forth. 

The Redcoats were plagued by command indecision forcing the Earl of Belmont to ride over in person. 

The various Anglo-Scots wars have a special place in my heart and mind, probably due more to the Classics Illustrated #67, "Scottish Chiefs", (about William Wallace), backed up by reading too many Nigel Tranter novels in my teens, than to some internal conflict between my English and Scottish genes. 


As the day light faded, and the Whitecoats began to waver, the Earl sent in his cavalry to sweep away the Border Horse. To everyone's surprise, they threw back the the Demi-lancers.  Both armies paused and stepped back. Neither side was quite ready to flee but neither were willing to attack and both were too low on ammo to continue the contest.
(ie they had lost 1/3 of stands but not 1/2)

The English army was going to have to try again another day or find another route.

However, while the Anglo-Scottish wars saw some interesting and balanced battles between very different armies, with victory going sometimes to one side and sometimes to the other, the vast majority of the fighting involved sieges, often of small strongholds, and raids which are more of a  skirmish level. Neither of these are my "thing". 

So, the temptation that always arises to add more Scots is best soothed and a return to the continent scheduled. Anyway, the unpainted Landsknechts in my cupboard are getting a bit unruly!   

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Let the kettle to the trumpet speak

"The trumpet to the cannoneer without, 

  the cannons to the heavens"

In other words, let the game begin.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Scene is Set

Once the rest of the English army arrives, I fix a few more of the ravages of time, and design a scenario.......

.......battle will commence.

Friday, November 20, 2020

FOG of WAR: Red Mill Crossing Pt 2

 For some reason, when I resumed the battle, I could not take a sharp picture regardless of all my usual tricks, cleaning the lens, rearranging the lights, bracing the camera...... I finally put it down to drifting clouds of imaginary powder smoke and just got on with the game. It had only been 4 days since I laid the troops out and played the first 3 turns and 2 days since I'd played the second 3 turns, but it felt like 2 weeks. 

The Yanks had seized the mill but the Rebs were already counterattacking to take if back if they could.

So, when we left the game, the Union 1st Brigade had just stormed the mill and both sides were rushing reinforcements into line and revisiting battle plans. Initially I had rolled for arrival points then again against a short list of options, taking the first roll into consideration. The Rebs had rolled "Deploy and hold until time is ripe for a counter attack" The Yanks had rolled "Attack up the Centre".  The Yankees had 2 problems, their 3rd brigade (on their right) had been shot up pretty bad, while in the centre, the wood in the middle was making it slow to bring up the second Brigade into line, although it did provide a covered approach. The next few turns were quiet as Brigades were shifted and lines restored, then, before the Federal attack was ready, the Confederates launched a counter attack up the middle. supported by their cavalry on the far left. 

The struggle for control of the mill was prolonged.

There was a fierce battle in the centre before the Rebs finally retook the Mill but the right hand Yankee brigade, out in the open, and in some disarray, crumbled under the counterattack. The attack against the Rebel right flank was looking iffy but suddenly one of their Brigades pulled back (chance card) and the cavalry and 2nd brigade stormed forward and almost took the road. 

End of Game: This end of the battlefield was hard on Brigadiers and neither side could claim to control this road at the end of the day.
(The buglers are "order" marker that  indicate that a Brigade can move this turn.)

In the centre, an intense bombardment and a desperate Union counterattack almost retook the Mill. On his right, the Federal General decided to pull the battered 3rd Brigade back, into cover, to protect the vital road exit behind them. 

End of game: the mill was still being contested so neither side controlled the crossroad.

It was beginning to look like a draw. The road across the table was contested as far as the mill but beyond that neither side was close enough to threaten either road, well, not unless the Reb cavalry could  drive superior numbers of Yankee infantry out from behind stone walls and woods.  

Overview of the battlefield as the cavalry was ordered to cut the road "If practicable".
Brigadier Jacks rolled a 6 and ordered his brigade forward. 

The last turns of fighting were bitter and bloody across the board but the dice gods had decided to favour the Rebs. The charge of the Butternut horsemen was legendary, the attack on the stone wall was repulsed  as expected but the Yankees in the wood broke and ran. They ran and were pursued and sabered as they ran, until the cavalry pulled up across the vital road and rested, hooting at the stragglers.  They didn't control the whole road, but they held the exit and a clear road to it.  


Picture taken just before the Yankee infantry broke and fled.

It wasn't much more than a winning draw, but with heavier casualties and being cut off from one source of reinforcements with the threat of having the Rebels march off that road into the rear, the Federal commander had no choice but to withdraw. 

After much foofarah, thinking (ouch!) and experimenting,  I finally decided to just go back to an ACW variant on the Square Brigadier. I might post a bit about the rules in a few days, and why I made that choice, once I get them tidied. I might even play a quick game to confirm the choice, but I still have a 16thC Anglo Scots game to play and there are pikes and bills to mend, so, time will tell! 


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Battle of Red Mill Crossing Pt1

At last, a taste of winter, so I stole a few hours to finish the game, or a game, the multi-hex Brigade thing didn't survive past the three turns I played the other day so I quietly shuffled the ttoops back into 1 regiment per hex, adjusted the rules and carried on. 

After an indecisive clash, the cavalry pulled back to the flank and let the infantry take over.

The scenario was an impromptu meeting engagement. The dice decided that both sides were marching along over two converging roads which cross over around the big red building. Controlling a road across the board and off one enemy side while denying the enemy both roads on your side seemed like a reasonable objective. I then diced for a battle plan for each side, a simple matter of dicing for where each brigade would appear then listing three viable plans and dicing to choose one.

Gratuitous close up of the Southern army deploying.

I really liked some of the aspects of the 2 or 3 contiguous hex Brigades but by the time I had resolved the Yankee attack on the mill, I discovered that I hadn't thought things through well enough. For example, what happens when part of a Brigade is in close combat and wins and goes to occupy the ground when the other half is still trading fire because its not in close combat range or worse, simultaneously loses a melee against a different enemy?

Equally gratuitous view of the Northern artillery opening fire.

Well, it was suppertime so I left it there and thought about it over night. It would have been possible to come up with answers but I decided that it was too much work and anyway, I missed my regiments, some of which have a 40 year history. So, I separated the units back into their regiments, tweaked the rules, again, and again and resumed the fight with half the turns left to go.

After a sharp fight, the Union seized the Red Mill which dominated the crossroad.

Tomorrow I will post the remainder of the battle including the nail biting climax where victory turned on one last throw of the dice.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hurry Up and Wait

That's right. The field of battle had been prepared, the troops  marched on, and.......then they waited......and waited..... then they were marched off again and stood at ease. No one to leave the ranks. 

At last word came down to reform from 3 stand regiments to 6 stand brigades, study a new battle manual, then march back on and wait.  

Buzz has it that the battle will resume in the morning.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Awright You Slovenly Hexes! GET IN LINE!

 If only Colour Sergeant Bourne had been here to give me a hand. Oh well, we do what we can. Luckily, I have a high tolerance for disorder, so this grid will do for now.

"The enemy is nowhere near General, so push your Division forward with all speed"
Note the remains of the last of my hex shaped hills from 9 years ago)

I could try to explain my clever plan to make sure the grid did not go askew by laying down a series of parallel dashed lines across the table, marking the alternating vertical sides  then laying down a similar series of parallel lines at 6o degrees then finally reversing direction and doing it again, all while measuring from one side since the board is a mishmash of pieces and neither totally even nor quite square. I could , it worked for the first bit but then I went for supper, and.... yeah, we'll draw a curtain over things.

Luckily the board is make shift and has been repainted numerous times in an irregular fashion which made it easy to block out the wonkiest bits (technical term) and redo things. It won't win any awards for accuracy and precision but I think its functional. 

Now to start tackling hills, I think I can now manage something functional although my wood cutting tools and skill are not up to the sort of rolling terrain I could do with a hex mat laid over shapes. Always good to leave some possibilities for the future. But first, it needs to be tested and I believe an ACW game is in the queue.

Gratuitous close up.

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Nine Year Hex

 By 2009, playing on Ron's Hexon covered table was having a strong impact on me. After a year of experimenting with  a 3" gridded Hotz mat, I broke down and hand drew a 4" hex pattern on my table and made some so-so hex hills. After  9 years of experimentation with various square grids (much easier to make hills), and occasional reversion to no grid, the hexes are back!  

June 2011: First battle on my newly hexed table: (link) (using an early version of the Portable Wargame)

Four Inch Hexes work for the Little Guys


and for the big guys! (Hence the decision to stick with 4 figure "companies".)

They even work for skirmish games!

At least this will be true once the table is fully covered and ready for a game.

We have work to do!!

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Tale That Deserved To Have Been Written Into The Legends

 Its been one of those sorts of weeks. Its Fall and WINTER is COMING! So, busy, busy on everything but my hobby. 

The convoy was ambushed but managed to push through the narrow part of the pass. 

I did finally manage to play the game through with the new, gridded, rules, a few turns at a time and the updated rules are pretty much what I had in mind but I'll post on that soon.   

The pressure was tremendous and for a long while the convoy barely managed to escape destruction without getting closer to safety. Casualties on both sides were heavy, but heavier on the Roman side.

What I haven't had is time for a proper narrative battle report and I'm off onto something else (next post!). Anyway, most of the few pictures I remembered to take were lousy anyway. 

At last, Prince Micheal's army was on the verge of collapse and the convoy was able to make some headway and looked likely to escape.

So hopefully this will tide us all over because I have "work" (important, hobby type 'work') to do! 

In desperation, the Prince ordered one last charge by every man who could lift a weapon. The Huns suddenly collapsed and warriors and drivers alike fled to the hills leaving the supplies behind. 
(In game terms, for the last 3 turns the Roman side was 1 casualty away from breaking while the Huns were 3 away. The Romans charged and the dice suddenly evened out after many turns in which they had favoured the Huns, not even a single Roman failed their save, not a Hun made theirs. They had finally worn out persistent lucky saves!) 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

We now return you to..

 ...your regular unscheduled blogging.

To be continued....

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Lest We Forget

When I was young, veterans of WW1 were not uncommon and WWII vets were everywhere. Now there are very few left but they all remain in our memory. 

So, for my Dad who soldiered on from Ortona to Holland, one of Lady Astor's DDay Dodgers:

However, we should also remember  that we now have a fresh wave of  more recent, 21st Century, veterans who have also answered their country's call and put their lives on the line and we have grieving families. They should also be remembered by us.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Born In Battle

Today felt like a Sunday (yeah OK it  was a Sunday but you know what I mean) so I put aside the long Toodoo list and turned to the game set out on the table.


My original intent had been to go back to Medieval Mayhem, more or less as published in Battlegames, but the more I though about all the die rolling and measuring, I started to hesitate. After pondering over coffee and letting my subconscious do its bit, I decided to revisit the idea of a skirmish-y game on a grid. (This is something I  thought about last December : see post). Those experiments didn't lead anywhere but while I was pondering the pros and cons I remembered one of the prime tenants of my collection: each part must provide a different kind of gaming experience. I also remembered that one part of it was supposed to be a sort of game in a box where if I had to suddenly pick up, abandon the house and go live somewhere with confined space, whether a small flat, a spare bedroom with a relative or a  (may it never be so) an Old Age Home sort of thing (a posh one that would let me have a small box of hobby stuff and be cheap- dream big they say).  Anyway the result was too radical and there were some bits I couldn't quite imagine but I got half way there and had an enjoyable game  but one where the radical ideas suddenly appeared and a light came on to show what might be just the sort of different and practical but fun game, and one that might be attractive to some non-wargamers. 

 So, now that I have a draft of a game very distinct from my others, I'm going to replay the scenario!
Stay tuned.

(OK OK, It was a tight game but at the last moment, Prince Michael grabbed 2 out of the 3 convoy carts and broke the Hun's army morale on the same turn.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

All Quiet In The Pass

 After a hard day's work, pillaging and looting, Rhuda led his warriors and a train of plunder laden carts back through the pass to camp. 

Meanwhile, atop East Ridge, Prince Valiant and Sir Gawain look down upon the Huns.

"Well Gawain, the young Prince Micheal has his men in position. Shall we leave him to enjoy his first adventure in Gaul and gather the laurels?"

Friday, November 6, 2020

Here they come!

 Four more Huns on foot ready for the table, vague idea of a scenario in my head,.....

Time to set the table and "Laisser les allez!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Oh look, more Huns!

 We're getting closer!

Huns defending their wagon laager fortified camp.

I'm running out of archers to convert but there's still a pile of the batch of 100 really cheap, gold, Elastolin vikings that I bought on ebay in 2004 as conversion fodder  to jump start a very small collection into wargame  'armies'.

Helmets modified, weapons made from brass rods, spare top 1/2 of a spare Hun standard bearer swapped in, and Presto! Some more wagon defenders.

Once this lot are done I might refurbish some more horse archers or just put a game on the table.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

One Down and One in the Making

 The first game of this month has been fought, and posted on my Gathering of Hosts blog.

The Battle of the Bloody Ford <link>.

and preparations for the next are under way. 

More Huns! We NEED MORE Huns!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Now the battle is lost and won

Just not written up on the Gathering of Hosts blog yet. 

Work on refurbishing a few more Elastolin's will resume this week in preparation for an ambush scenario.