Tag Archives: miniatures wargaming

I’ve been Recruited!

Back home from Recruits, and boy, did I have a great time! I got to play in some great games, met some really nice folks AND managed to keep from spending too much money at the various vendors. Recruits is a three day convention, with some gaming on Friday night, a full day of gaming on Saturday, and a morning session on Sunday. Being a gaming lightweight, I drove up Friday night (but not in time for gaming), got a good night’s sleep, and was at the registration table at 8:00am on Saturday, with a large cup of coffee in hand.

Lee's Summit High School Field House

Lee’s Summit High School Field House

Despite my previous assertions that Recruits takes place in Kansas City, it is situated in Lee’s Summit, which I thought was a suburb of KC. I suppose that it technically is, but barely! It’s certainly not convenient to the city, proper. Lee’s Summit seemed nice enough. Sort of Anytown, USA, from what little I saw, but I wasn’t really there to explore the city’s charms.

The convention, itself, is held inside the field house at Lee’s Summit high school, which might lead you to think that the convention is a rinky-dink affair. Rest assured, it’s not. The facility was completely adequate to hosting the games, vendors, silent auction, painting classes, and other things going on. There’s a reasonably priced concession area on site, which is very convenient when trying to maximize your gaming time. The climate was never hot or stuffy in the facility, and the sub-amateur photographer in me was very happy at how well-lit the field house was.

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Wilson’s Creek

Speaking of gaming time, I participated in three games that Saturday. The first game I participated in was Wilson’s Creek (an early American Civil War battle in the trans-Mississippi (southwest Missouri, to be exact) in 9mm, using the Fire and Fury rules system. Fire and Fury is Regimental Fire and Fury’s older brother, and is, ostensibly, for brigade sized units; however, this game of Wilson’s Creek was played with regimental units. I have to say, the conversion to smaller units worked quite well.

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Trying to make order out of chaos…

Ironically, the Wilson’s Creek game was put on by Alex, who I already knew from gaming with Grady West’s bunch. Alex is another denizen of Northwest Arkansas, and had a full table of six player (three on each side). I was on the Confederate side, and had about half of the Confederate Missouri contingent under my command.

If you know anything about Wilson’s Creek, you’ll know that it was, effectively, a surprise attack by a smaller Union force on a larger Confederate force. The Union intent was to make a spoiling attack, throwing the Confederates into disarray, so that the US forces could safely maneuver to a better supplied position in the vicinity of Rolla, Missouri.

Being caught by surprise, the Confederates started off in complete disarray. I had three or four generals that I was controlling, and they had regiments in quite different areas of the battlefield. My first challenge was to assemble something that resembled a coherent force! I was moderately successful at this, but soon ran into a serious problem that was endemic to my force-the majority of my regiments consisted of three stands-If they took one casualty they were considered spent, and one more would eliminate them from the field. Typically in the various Fire and Fury systems a regiment can take some real punishment, but my guys effectively had a glass jaw. An interesting problem to try to deal with.

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Save the horses!

The historical Union plan consisted of a ‘main’ attack, which was actually something of a diversion, intended to allow a second force under Sigel to maneuver around to the rear of the Confederate position and create havoc. In our game, this consisted of Sigel’s forces making contact with, and otherwise destroying, the large group of Confederate cavalry mounts gathered in the rear position. The Confederates in that position needed to gather up the mounts while across the battlefield the rest of the Rebel force (including me) dealt with the bulk of the Union forces.

A union charge, all along the line

A union charge, all along the line

After getting my troops formed up, I managed some small success. I stormed “Bloody Hill,” routing a large Union regiment and seizing a Union battery, and, I suppose, technically took the hill. Unfortunately, this victory was short lived, as my elated (and winded) Confederates were raked by enfilading fire from the one remaining Union battery, which was followed up by a very timely Union cavalry charge. My collection of small regiments was shattered by taking the hill, and the rampaging cavalry.

On the far right of my area of the battlefield, one of my comrade generals faced a similar cavalry charge against his flank, and a few bad rolls later there were a LOT of Missouri rebels streaming towards the rear. Our dastardly (yet smart and effective) Union opponent followed up these cavalry attacks with a general advance by his infantry, and a couple turns later we were thoroughly whipped.

Things didn’t go much better on the other end of the board. Sigel was able to destroy enough of the Confederate horses to ensure that a strategic, as well as tactical, victory was won.

I had a great time, in spit of getting my butt handed to me. I was particularly impressed that we were able to play a large six player game to a definitive conclusion in around three hours, which leads me to think I need to pick up a copy of the original Fire and Fury. Hats off to Alex for running a great game!

Bloody Morning Scout 1755

My second game was in the afternoon, and it was a real treat. The game was set during the French and Indian War, and was played using the “This Very Ground” skirmish rules. Figures were 54mm. 54!!!! Hands down, this is the most beautiful game I’ve participated in (and if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve been lucky enough to play in some very handsome games). My jaw was sore from all the dropping.

Starting Positions

Starting Positions

This game had four players per side. I somehow ended up as overall commander on the British side. In brief, the situation was that the British had sent out a patrol, seeking to make contact with and identify the location of the main French body. Unfortunately, that contact came in the form of an ambush by a large force of French regulars, their Indian allies, and some dreadfully accurate shooting fur trappers. The game started after a single shot had been heard in the deep dark forests that flanked the road.

Those woodland indians are just a bit fierce!

Those woodland indians are just a bit fierce looking! (You should click on this one)

Aren’t these Indians just fantastic? On a side note, 54mm figures weigh a lot. Very satisfying to move around the board.

Our forces consisted of two parts. The first was some British regulars, a couple of units of Colonial regulars, and a 6lb gun secure behind a fortification. The second part was the patrol, which consisted of two units of Colonial regulars, and some Indian allies.

Our plan, such as it was, was for the Colonials to clear the road and fight a delaying action while the Indians retreated down the road and out of danger of the ambush.

Despite our plan, the Indians were quickly wiped out in a crossfire. The patrolling Colonials were shot up, but they did a decent job of making a fighting retreat, delaying the enemy and causing a few enemy casualties along the way.

Here come the French regulars...

Here come the French regulars…

Here you can see the Colonials fighting off hordes of Indians and beaver trappers advancing through the woods. French regulars have come onto the road, and will have to withstand the fire of the 6 lber.

Oh, teddy.

Oh, teddy.

Here the delaying Colonials have been driven back from the woods, and Indians are trying to close the gap to the British redoubt.

Bad photo, beautiful figures

Bad photo, beautiful figures.

Getting a bit desperate

Here they come.

The French commander (coincidentally the same guy that gave me a thrashing at Wilson’s Creek) did a good job of screening his regulars with his Woodland Indians. We did wipe out one entire unit of French regulars, but they kept getting closer and closer and closer…

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Getting a bit desperate… (This one’s worth clicking, too)

To win, the French needed to have a unit behind the redoubt, in an undisrupted state, for a full turn. The Brits had to prevent them from getting there.

The penultimate moment...

The penultimate moment…

Unfortunately we ran out of time, just as the French regulars breached the wall, and killed the 6 pounder’s crew. So, they got in, but the Brits didn’t get a responding turn to try and drive them off. While we probably could have eliminated the rest of the French regulars, I’m pretty sure we would have been swamped by rampaging Woodland Indians very soon thereafter.

Chris, the GM of this game, did a fantastic job. The terrain and figures speak for themselves.

I was really impressed with This Very Ground’s firing mechanic. Essentially, each unit has four points of ‘volume of fire’ available. You can spend four points to fire off a full volley, in which every figure in the unit participates. Two points allows you to fire half the figures. One point represents ‘fire at will’ and lets up to three figures shoot. Volume of Fire is a limited resource, and could only be regained, at a rate of one per turn, by not firing. Managing your volume of fire was a key aspect to the game, and was a tremendous amount of fun.

As overall commander, I would have done a number of things differently had I had them to do over again, but I’ve never had so much fun losing two games in a row!

War of 1812.

The last game I played in was a War of 1812 scenario in 25mm. We were using a set of homebrew rules by a very nice gentleman from Saint Louis. The rules were interesting and idiosyncratic. There was a glory point mechanic which awarded glory for causing enemy casualties. These glory points could then be spent to do a re-roll at critical points in the game.

I was on the American side on this game, and managed to do my part holding a wall against a massive British onslaught, mainly through the expenditure of mass amounts of aforementioned glory. Had a good time.

Don't fire (canister) until you see the whites of their eyes!

Don’t fire (canister) until you see the whites of their eyes!

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The Rest

I failed miserably as a roving blogespondant. There were tons of games going on. Some of them were simply exquisite. There was a large Seven Years War game that particularly caught my eye, and there were a couple of large Napoleonic games that were also quite spectacular. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of these. There were a couple of WWI aerial games. One of these was quite large, with around 15-20 players, planes on 6′ tall telescoping antenna, full scale barage balloons, and all kinds of cool stuff. The game looked to be 1:144 scale, and judging from the excitement of the players, must have been incredibly fun. Again, no photos. Also not appearing in this blog post are the large number of vendors in attendance at the game, including some booksellers with significant stocks of military history, uniform guides, prints, and various bits of interest to any historical gamer.

As far as loot, I picked up a couple of boxes of Wargames Factory 28mm AWI figures, which I plan on doing some skirmish gaming with a few years down the road. I also acquired a 1:72 kit containing a jeep, kubelwagen, and kettenkrad for the princely sum of $5. I also picked up a copy of a book on the Revolutionary War as seen through British eyes. Which reminds me, in the near future, I’ll have to let you all in on the 15mm AWI project I have cooking.

So….Recruits gets a strong A grade, from me. Next year I’ll take off Friday afternoon so I can get some more gaming in. Maybe I’ll even try to put on a game.

Enough blathering by me. I’ll leave you with a (very) few random shots I took at the convention.

US Cavalry vs. Native Americans

US Cavalry vs. Native Americans

D-day

D-day

1/72 Furball of Death!

1/72 Furball of Death!

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Ch..ch..chain

In my unending (and potentially ill-advised) quest to interest some of my non-wargaming friends in miniatures wargaming, I set up a game of Chain of Command, which I refereed, while two of said friends played.

The scenario was a simple patrol, centered around a crossroads (as usual). The western side of the board was dominated by a stone bridge over a decent sized creek (represented by some stones and clump foilage lined banks) and a small orchard, while the eastern side was chock full of bocage, and other hedges. Both ends of the battlefield featured commanding heights, which were, for one reason or the other, ignored by the players.

We only made it through about three phases of the game before having to call it a night. I played the game out to what felt like a conclusion this morning and afternoon. The game was a close-run thing, with both sides force morales dwindling considerably.

In the end the Germans won, despite a couple of blunders on my part. The weight of all those MG-42s was too much for the Americans to overcome. Of course, the best part about playing solitaire is you always win!

On a somber note, I still need to build more bocage.

Patrol Phase

Patrol Phase

Panzergrenadiers deploy

Panzergrenadiers deploy

Sniper in a commanding position (but unable to hit anything the entire game)

Sniper in a commanding position (but unable to hit anything the entire game)

PzGrs defend a low stone wall.

PzGrs defend a low stone wall.

A US fire team moves out.

A US fire team moves out.

Overview

Overview of the 4’x4′ battlefield

The Luchs prowls the table.

The Luchs prowls the table. Interestingly, the presence of armor (at least armor this light) didn’t have an immediately decisive effect on the game. By the time the Lynx appeared on the table, the Germans had some command and control problems due to low force morale, which limited the number of opportunities to get the tank into action.

fierce fight at the crossroads.

fierce fight at the crossroads.

An ill-advised assault...

Dear readers: Don’t assault a full strength American squad in cover behind bocage with a half-dozen Panzergrenadiers. Not that you were stupid enough to try such a thing in the first place…

Lieutenant and Panzerschrek team try to slow down the US advance

Lieutenant and Panzerschrek team try to slow down the US advance

German Jump-off Point

German Jump-off Point

Lieutenant rallies the Panzerschrek team, after they were driven off by heavy US fire.

Lieutenant (red band around his base) rallies the Panzerschrek team, after they were driven off by heavy US fire.

Overview of table at game end.

Overview of table at game end. Note the bazooka team just down from the Luchs. It might have had something to do with the lack of impact by the armor.

I don’t think my friends hated Chain of Command, but they certainly didn’t love the game, either. Chain of Command is just too complicated to use as a vehicle for introducing new players to miniatures wargaming. Or at least it is with my nascent command of the rules. Maybe it would be different with new players who are highly motivated about the period and the idea of playing miniatures games. Obviously, it’s entirely my fault for trying to use them as an introduction to the hobby. Especially since I’ve now made the same mistake twice!

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I’m still trying to formulate my opinion on Chain of Command as a potential regular part of my gaming diet. Bear with me while I throw out some random thoughts from my experiences.

There are a lot of fiddly parts to the rules-the mechanics are modular, meaning the armor mechanics aren’t the same as the infantry mechanics, aren’t the same as the sniper mechanics, aren’t the same as the artillery mechanics, aren’t the same as the morale mechanics, etcetera. There are numerous exceptions and clarifications, which make it difficult to play from the cheat sheets available online. Finally, in certain circumstances, you have to roll a TON of dice. Mega-dice rolling is fun occasionally, but over the long term I’m finding the large dice pools to be a pain in the butt. On the other hand, I loathe single-die-hit-a-target-number systems, because, to my mind, they’re far too unpredictable. You just can’t please some people, can you?!

I really admire the stated goals of these rules-emphasis on command and (lack of) control, period flavor, and mechanics that reward historical tactics, but the rules overhead required to get to those goals is significant. I’ve played three times now, which equals 9-10 hours of play, and while I have a decent grasp of the general flow of the rules, I’m still constantly referring to the book, or one or more of the dozens of tables, to figure out particulars. Even with a complex game, I would expect to have gained significant facility with a set of rules in that amount of time. I wonder if I’ll ever memorize the rules well enough to support the once every month or two months that I’ll get to play the game. That’s a shame, because I can imagine how great the game could be with sufficient rules mastery. The myriad of design-for-effect subsystems all work really well as individual systems, AND the effect of the aggregate feels quite good. If only stitching it all together weren’t such work!

I’m going to continue on with the rules set for at least a couple more tries, hoping everything will start to gel in my brain. For the next game, I may tone it down on the bocage a bit, and see if a simplified terrain situation might help things go a little more smoothly. In fact, I have another game tomorrow with The Scarlet J. Hopefully he has actually gotten around to reading the rules, and will be some help in that department. I give it a 5% chance :/

 

The Battle of Why City: June 22, 1862

The Sleepy Hamlet of Y-City, Early Morning June 22, 1862

The Sleepy hamlet of Why City, Early Morning June 22, 1862. The peace would soon be disturbed by the thunder of cannon. They really should take better care of their fences.

Hullooo hulloooo hullo! This is post number one-hundred (100!!), here at Arkiegamer central. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been maintaining this blog for this long (since November 2011), and have come up with 100 things of value to talk about. Actually, I doubt I HAVE come up with 100 things of value to talk about, but please don’t hold it against me!

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In any case, I wanted the 100th post to be about something other than some sort of recursive loop about it being the 100th post. The Scarlet J (my regular opponent, who will remain mysterious on this blog) and I had a rousing game of Regimental Fire and Fury on Sunday. Said game is the second meeting of our ACW campaign, which fuses RF&F (our tactical set) with Longstreet (our campaign rules). We’re only taking one brigade through the campaign, but for today we decided to look at a larger action, of which our campaign brigade was a part.

We fielded two three regiment brigades apiece. Losses to our campaign brigades persisted from the last game, as did TSJ’s preponderance of artillery (I think he’s up to five guns vs. my three). The additional brigade was made up of three fresh regiments of ten stands each. Despite our initial clash of May 1861, all troops were still green.

The scenario was Scenario 7 from the Longstreet rules: an attack on a crossroads. The table was fairly heavy with terrain, including three hills, multiple woods, some rough ground, and a couple of fields full of standing crops. The Confederates (moi) won the scouting roll (which determines who gets to be attacker or defender), and being the over-confident, over-aggressive commander that I am, I decided to attack.

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CONFEDERATE ORDER OF BATTLE—-

Major General Lew Leverett commanding Leverett’s Division

General Eustace B. Tillman commanding campaign forces (Rank: 2 ‘eagles’)
4th Arkansas Infantry– Green, Reliable, 8 stands
3rd Missouri Infantry – Green, Reliable, 9 stands
15th (Northwest) Arkansas Infantry– Green, Spirited, 10 stands, Brave Colonel
6th Texas Cavalry – Green, Reliable, 6 stands
Yell’s Arkansas Battery – (2) 6 pounders, (1) light howitzer. Trained

General T.X. Nielsen (Tex to his friends) commanding Nielsen’s Brigade.
15th Arkansas Infantry – Green, Spirited, 10 stands
6th Mississippi Infantry – Green, Spirited, 10 stands
2nd Tennessee Infantry – Green, Spirited, 10 stands

UNION ORDER OF BATTLE—-

Major General Gordon Granger, commanding.

Brigadier Edward H. Ripley commanding campaign forces (Rank: 2 ‘eagles’)
27th New York (spirited, green)
5th Rhode Island Infantry  (spirited, green)
11th Illinois Infantry (Zouaves)  (spirited, green)
9th Kentucky Cavalry (spirited, green)
8th Battery Indiana Lt. Artillery (2 10pd Parrotts, 1 12pd howitzer)
Battery B 2nd Regiment Illinion Lt. Artillery (2 10pd Parrotts)

Brigadier Thomas Sweeny commanding Sweeny’s brigade.
8th Iowa Infantry
15th Iowa Infantry
7th Illinois Infantry
8th Ohio Battery (2 6pd smoothbores)

The full Union order of battle will have to wait until The Scarlet J gets back to me with the details of his forces. For now, suffice it to say the armies were pretty even in terms of infantry and cavalry, with a slight advantage in cannon for the Union.

Disposition of Forces

Disposition of Forces as the Confederates march on to the battlefield. The damned fool photographer got the labels wrong, though. The 3rd Missouri is in the 4th Arkansas’s place (and vice versa). This shot is taken from the southwest corner of the board, looking northerly.

The Union defended the north side of the board (naturally), and could occupy any ground up to the south edge of the east-west road. The valiant rebels came on board from the south side, and were tasked with wrenching the vital (one supposes) crossroads from the bluebellies.

General Leverett knew he’d never be able to drive the Yanks from behind the stone walls of the small hamlet at the road junction in a straight ahead assault, so he came up with a simple plan to mass his forces like a clenched fist, and hit the Union right with a strong hook, while forces under T.X. Nielsen screened the Confederate right. Leverett knew the fight for the center, in particular, would be bloody, but battles are not won by the timid! With a little luck, he hoped that Tillman, commanding the regiments in the west would be able to move aggressively, and quickly punch through the Yank right, catching the bluecoats out on the wrong foot.

The Yankee Despoilers

Yankee Despoilers in extended line formation at Yancey’s farm. Is that the panicked bleating of sheep I hear coming from the barn?*

Yanks cower behind fences and walls.

Yanks cower behind fences and walls as they await the rebel attack.

Brightly caparisoned Union men.

Brightly caparisoned Union men form the eastern extents of the Yankee line.

Looking west, towards Y-City

Looking west, towards Why City

Preparing to advance through Old Man Yancey's wheat field

Preparing to advance through Old Man Yancey’s wheat field

Brave men of Arkansas and Mississippi itching for a fight.

Brave men of Arkansas and Mississippi itching for a fight. Major General Lew Leverett watches the advance-his aide must seize the white stallion’s reins to  prevent the gallant general from joining the assault through the wheat field!

Those people. What they lack in elan, they make up for in numbers.

Those People. What they lack in gallantry, they make up for in numbers.

The view from Yell's Battery's position down to the Y-City junction.

The view from Yell’s Battery’s position down to the Why City junction. 3rd Missouri in the mid-ground.

The battle develops...

Murderous fire on the eastern flank.

In its very early stages the battle developed according to plan, but the green troops had trouble maneuvering through some of the more difficult terrain on the battlefield (green troops are disrupted in rough terrain in RF&F. Crossing fences, marching through woods, things like that), and the attack began tending towards the piecemeal, rather than the strong strike Leverett had envisioned back at his command tent.

Then the Yanks had the temerity to advance against Nielsen’s brigade on the right! Didn’t they know they were on the defense?! This called for a change of plan, and suddenly (and ironically) the Confederates were, themselves, caught out on the wrong foot.

The valiant men of the 2nd Tennessee (Nielsen's Brigade) hold a wooded hilltop against three times their numbers, repelling a cold steel charge by zouaves.

The valiant men of the 2nd Tennessee (Nielsen’s Brigade) hold a wooded hilltop against three times their numbers, at one point repelling a brave (yet foolhardy) cold steel charge by Zouaves. The 2nd was to eventually shoot themselves out of ammunition, but were never driven from their critical position.

Fortunately the 2nd Tennessee occupied a wooded hill on the threatened flank, and though badly outnumbered, repelled all assaults against their position.

 

Say anything

The beleaguered 2nd Tennessee repulses Zouaves, as skulking union cavalry consider a flanking maneuver around the right.

Yanks advance through a densecopse of woods.

Yanks advance through a dense copse of woods, making a stab at the Secessionist center.

Still the Yanks poured into the gap that developed as the Confederate center pushed forward, and the 6th Mississippi had to be pulled out of the advance through the wheat fields north of the Why City road to meet this new threat.

4th Arkansas catches hell as they emerge from the wheat field. They gave a little back, too.

4th Arkansas catches hell as they emerge from the wheat field. They gave a little back, too.

The 4th Arkansas advanced through the wheat field alone, knowing they would be meeting twice their number in blue, waiting behind a strong stone wall. No matter! Onward, men!

The boiling cauldron at the crossroads.

Meanwhile, a wider view of the boiling cauldron developing at the crossroads.

Predictably, the 4th took casualties as they emerged from the tall wheat to take up positions behind a rail fence, whose presence gave more moral support than any sort of physical protection. Still, they caught the full attention of two Yank regiments, which gave a little room for maneuver around the left flank.

Brave boys from Missouri advance across open ground.

Brave boys from the 3rd Missouri (Tillman) doggedly advance across open ground in the face of multiple enemy regiments.

Still, the 4th’s casualties were nothing compared to their sister regiment, the 3rd Missouri, who had to advance long yards through the open in front of a Union battery and waiting infantry regiment. The 3rd would eventually take 40% casualties, but they never fled the field!

15th Arkansas, under T.X. (Tex) Nielsen, prepares to defend the seam between the two brigades.

15th Arkansas, under T.X. (Tex) Nielsen, prepares to defend the seam between the two brigades. Thankfully they can easily whip twice their weight in Yankees.

Bouncing off the determined resistance of the 2nd Tennessee on the far right, the Yanks tried to punch through the seam that was developing in the center. The 15th Arkansas and 6th Mississippi met them head on, and soon rebuffed the spoiling attack.

Unidentified Union major general takes his rest under the cool shade of an oak tree, while his boys die by the hundreds.

Unidentified Union major general takes his rest under the cool shade of an oak tree, while his boys die by the hundreds in the hot summer solstice sun. Scandalous.

Rapid firing Yanks

Rapid firing Yanks at the crossroads.

The 6th Texas cavalry makes an audacious move around the extreme western flank, only to find the ground too hot for comfortable travel.

With all infantry regiments fully engaged, the 6th Texas Cavalry (Tillman) makes an audacious move around the extreme western flank, only to ultimately find the ground too hot for comfortable travel.

Meanwhile on the left, the boys of the 15th NW Arkansas, with their leader, Brave Colonel Buford Dellinger, emerged from a grove of trees, and began firing with some good effect into the light Yank forces on that end of the battlefield. Tillman, personally commanding in this vicinity, saw the Union flank waver, and sent for his cavalry. He could be heard to intone, over the simmering battle, “Lord, if our cause be just, and the time seems right to you, I beseech you, in your divine wisdom, to deliver our enemies unto us, so that we may smite, smite, SMITE them!”

The 15th NW Arkansas drives back the enemy, but is unsupported, and unable to press home their hard won advantage.

The 15th NW Arkansas (Tillman) drives back the enemy, but is unsupported, and unable to press home their hard won advantage. Plus, the store was about to close.

Alas, the Yanks did credit to their families and homes, and recovered quickly enough to see off the cavalry (who had every intention of marauding among the unprotected batteries that awaited beyond this lone Union regiment) with a surprisingly efficacious volley. The 15th NW Arkansas moved into close range with these brave Yanks, but night fell before they were able to test the Yankee resolve with judicious application of the bayonet. The battle ended, unresolved!

Of course, we ran out of time. I had lost thirteen stands, and TSJ had lost eight. That’s 520 men to 32o, in RF&F terms. Sobering statistics, when you start talking about men, rather than stands. Despite the not-insignificant disparity in numbers, we both felt that the tactical situation at game’s end was a draw. That said, the Union held on to the crossroads at Why City, which was their mission. That makes it a minor Union victory! Well done, Scarlet J. Well done!

 

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In the aftermath of the game, we had to figure out the results for the campaign. Poor Brigadier Tillman wasn’t chosen for advancement. It’s not that people think he’s a poor general, but the proper opportunity to show his true brilliance simply hasn’t arrived! The 15th NW Arkansas is now a regular (non-green!) unit. We found out that Tillman is a bit of a religious zealot. Whether he’s a lemon-eater or a relatively lackluster bishop type remains to be seen. Some reinforcements were had, but not enough to make a difference. TSJ is definitely ahead in the campaign, at this point. I really need to pull out a brilliant (or even just competent!) victory soon.

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*I like sheep and Yankees and mean no offense. Except to The Scarlet J.

The 2nd Battle of Maggie’s Farm

This farmhouse occupies a strategic crossroads somewhere in western Kentucky. Will feature in a Bob Dylan song, 100 years later.

This idyllic farmhouse occupies a strategic crossroads somewhere in western Kentucky. Will feature in a Bob Dylan song, 100 years later.

Yet another game of Regimental Fire and Fury. I’m really enjoying the set of rules, though I suppose that might have something to do with my having won the last two games.

We ended up re-running our last scenario with a few modifications. I had thought we were going to reverse the situation the two forces found themselves in, but the Scarlet J wanted to see how things would go with some slight changes.

Essentially the scenario is a fictional meeting engagement at a crossroads, somewhere in Kentucky in 1862. The CSA forces, consisting of two brigades of three regiments each, plus two batteries of two guns each, arrive (appropriately) from the south, starting at that edge of the playing area, but able to come on the field at any point along that edge’s length. The Union starts on the northern edge of the playing area, but has to come onto the mat within 6″ of where the road intersects the mat edge. The Union starts with a brigade of four regiments, and a single battery of two gun. Starting on turn 2, with a 20% chance, the USA forces may receive reinforcements of a brigade of three regiments, plus a two gun battery. Chance of reinforcement increases with every turn, and, in this case, they came on in turn 3.

So, the pressure is on for the Confederates to take advantage of their obvious early game advantage.

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The Confederate Order of Battle-completely fictional and somewhat silly.

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Divisional Commander: General George Leverett

Tillman’s Brigade

  • 1st Arkansas (10 stands)
  • 2nd Arkansas (10 stands)
  • 3rd Arkansas (10 stands)
  • J.E.D.’s Cavalry (4 stands)

Nielsen’s Brigade

  • 13th (Danish) Texas (10 stands, excellent morale)
  • 15th Texas (10 stands)
  • 16th Texas (10 stands)

Bateman’s Battery

  • 1 rifle
  • 1 12 pounder Napoleon

Conrad’s Battery

  • 2 12 pounder Napoleons

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On to the report, in captions.

The battle plan. Tillman's brigade advances in line on the right, fixing the Union forces, while Nielsen's Danish Texans advance on the left, with one of their three regiments swinging wide behind a height, to come in perpendicular to the Union lines, delivering an enfilade attack.

The battle plan. Batteries rush to occupy the high ground, while Tillman’s brigade advances in line on the right, fixing the Union forces, and Nielsen’s Danish Texans advance on the left, with one of their three regiments swinging wide behind a height, to come in perpendicular to the Union lines, delivering an enfilade attack.

Looking east

Looking east down the east-west road. Funny thing about our board is that I need to buy another layer of foam mats, because a lot of the needle mounted trees have a bit TOO much needle and bottom out on the table underneath. Thus the levitating little tree to the right of the road. Bateman’s battery, consisting of a rifle and a napoleon would occupy the wooded hill to the right, and pretty much have their way with the Union masses on the plain below.

sumthin

Two twelve pounders occupy a commanding position on a height just south of the  east-west road, protected by a battalion of cavalry, led by J.E.B.’s younger brother, J.E.D. Stuart. Columns of infantry advance in the distance, trying to seize the initiative before the Yanks can get organized. I managed to roll a ‘double quick’ maneuver for my first turn, which was a BIG help in executing my plans.

lines

How far can I move before coming in range of that Confederate line?

something

Contact! I managed to wreck that Union battery very early on.

engagement at hill

This is the Confederate right flank, anchored by some rough ground. The 1st Arkansas tried to do some good, over here, and eventually drove that Union regiment from the hill.

firing

Nielsen’s brigade in the far distance is maneuvering, one regiment serves as the hinge, while another advances through the forest, and the famous 13th (Danish) Texas maneuvers on the reverse slope of a distant hill to catch the Yanks in the flank.

Reinforcements in turn 3

Union reinforcements came on in turn three. This is the daunting scene they faced. The wagon is a Federal ammunition supply point. I had to make my move before these reinforcements could get into action, because I would soon be outnumbered including four fresh new Yankee regiments.

From the union lines

Hard pressed Yanks. Nielsen’s brigade pushes through the woods and homestead on the bluebellies right flank.

Hammer and Anvil

Hammer and Anvil. The 13th Texas quickmarches over the concealing hill to take the Union line square in its right flank. Chaos ensues.

from the western battery

View from the Confederate western battery on top of the wooded hill.

battleline

Tillman’s brigade, in a nice bit of maneuvering, dresses their lines to receive the Yankee reinforcements, who are closing the range and mean to do some bloody work.

from the hill

J.E.D. Stuart’s view across said neatly dressed lines.

Gods and Generals

Gods and Generals

later

Serious business.

Danish Texans....chaaaarge!

Danish Texans….chaaaarge!

A hot and tense engagement. Will the Union right collapse before they can make the weight of their reinforcements on their left be felt?

A hot and tense engagement. Will the Union right collapse before they can make the weight of their reinforcements on their left be felt?

The Danish Texans do what they do best, and give the Union right a taste of cold steel.

The Danish Texans do what they do best, and give the Union right a taste of cold steel, causing the bluebellies to flee to the rear.

Union forces press on my right

Union forces press on my right

something.

The Union right flank collapses, just as their 2nd brigade gets into position to threaten the Confederate right flank. Would the lines have begun to, effectively, pinwheel?  Could Nielsen’s brigade have swept through the disorganized Union right, catching the whole bluecoat force neatly in the bag? Who knows, we ran out of time. Another resounding Confederate victory!

This was a really tense and engaging game, right up to the point where the Union right flank collapsed. We made it to turn 7 before running out of time, but I don’t think the Scarlet J would have been able to recover from having an entire brigade become near-combat ineffective-at least not within the 10 turn limit.

Keys to success? I think I used the terrain fairly well, and never suffered from any real command & control issues. Knocking out his early game battery certainly helped, and getting a ‘double quick’ move to start the game put me in a position to dictate the tempo of the game. I think my opponent was a little over-aggressive. I probably would have held back, and let the Confederates cover more distance and suffer more defensive fire. That said, a static defense can be deadly to the defender, plus it’s not all that fun!

 

Pip, pip.

It is done!

I have both ‘core’ sides for British vs. German conflicts using IABSM v3 in Normandy. Basically this means a company of infantry each, plus 10 Shermans (including a pair of Fireflies), five Stugs, and a couple of Pak 40 ATGs. I suspect I may be fielding Shermans that didn’t exist in the immediate aftermath of the Normandy invasion, but I won’t tell, if you don’t.

Here are some shots of my freshly painted and based Brits, as the German side has been well documented here.

Somewhere in there is a company of British infantry and 10 Sherman tanks.

Somewhere in there is a company of British infantry and 10 Sherman tanks.

Platoon, forward! I'll probably end up color coding the bases, at some point, to make identifying units easier. Let's face it, 6mm WWII infantry are pretty difficult to identify from more than a few inches away.

Platoon, forward! I’ll probably end up color coding the bases, at some point, to make identifying units easier. Let’s face it, 6mm WWII infantry are pretty difficult to identify from more than a few inches away.

Droopy barrels are a hazard of 1/285 armor. If I were less lazy, I'd replace them with brass. But I'm not.

Droopy barrels are a hazard of 1/285 armor. If I were less lazy, I’d replace them with brass. But I’m not.

Badly lit Shermans. Ironic, for the disparagingly named Ronsons, eh?

Badly lit Shermans. Ironic, for the disparagingly named Ronsons, eh? I went  a little wild with the decals on that Firefly in front of the manorhouse.

Now all I need to do is learn the rules and shanghai some of my friends into playing.

2013 in Review

Time keeps going by! 2013 was a good year for miniatures wargaming, at least in my little corner of the world. I graduated from architecture school, which freed up a considerable amount of time, and starting making money again, which freed up a considerable (relatively!) amount of income. Both of these resources are, of course, absolutely essential to getting much of anything done in the world of historical miniatures wargaming.

I photographed the current state of my various projects at this date, and those photos will be shown below, but the REAL point of a post like this is to set goals for 2014. Here is my tripartite scheme for wargaming joy in 2014:

  • Finish existing projects.
  • Introduce new players to the hobby.
  • Play more games.

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FINISH EXISTING PROJECTS

I have a number of projects in varying scales and from varying periods that could easily be finished up. By finished up, I mean put into a playable state. Reaching that playable state primarily involves painting up the opposing side and a bit of terrain work.

Having these projects completed will allow me to tackle task two.

INTRODUCE NEW PLAYERS TO THE HOBBY

This may be a quixotic task, but I have quite a few friends who really enjoy board games (including some light wargames, like Axis and Allies or Small World) and/or RPGs, and I feel like there has to be some potential for them to become interested in miniatures wargaming. If I can provide the playing surface and both sides, it should be easy to get them to play, and hopefully THAT will set a hook in someone’s gamer mouth, and they’ll be caught.

PLAY MORE GAMES

I did get to play some historical miniatures wargames this year. I participated in a massive game of Napoleon’s Battles, and just before Christmas the Scarlet J and I put on a small regimental American Civil War game using Regimental Fire and Fury.

I’d like to do more. Thus the finishing of projects, and the introduction of the hobby to potential new players.

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So, those are the conceptual goals.

More concretely, I plan to play more Regimental Fire and Fury with TSJ. My friend Frank and I are going to do some Napoleonic gaming using Neil Thomas’s rules (which are very simple, and don’t require massive numbers of figures), with a jump-off date of ‘this summer.’ There shall be some WWII skirmish gaming using Chain of Command by TooFatLardies. I’d also like to finish up a long-outstanding 1/285 WWII project. The elephant in the room is the ~12.3 tons of terrain in various scales that needs to be produced. No problem.

We’ll see how it goes!

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Finally, here’s my figure painting output for 2013, minus some fantasy RPG figures that I painted for some friends.

28mm Old/Wild West Skirmish

28mm Old/Wild West Skirmish

This would be an easy project to finish. It only needs terrain and some custom cards for The Rules with No Name.

20mm Panzergrenadiers for Chain of Command

20mm Panzergrenadiers for Chain of Command

My panzergrenadier platoon for Chain of Command. I could make this force more flexible by painting additional riflemen. Then I could also field them as a plain ‘old Wehrmacht platoon. I also need to paint up some scout cars, AT guns, and other fun things like that.

20mm US troops for Chain of Command

20mm US troops for Chain of Command

I have a few more unpainted 20mm US figures that would bring this force up to a full squad. I’m sorely tempted to order the figures needed to finish out the platoon from Eureka miniatures, now that AB figures are available in the USA. Also need scout cars and other fun additional forces.

15mm Confederate brigade for Regimental Fire and Fury

15mm Confederate brigade for Regimental Fire and Fury

15mm Confederate brigade for Regimental Fire and Fury

15mm Confederate brigade for Regimental Fire and Fury

Completing this brigade of Confederate troops (plus a battery of guns) was far and away my major accomplishment of 2013. I look forward to building on them in the future. In the short term, I’d like to add some cavalry, just because they look cool. I realize they’ll likely be next to useless on the battlefield, at least at the scale we’re playing at. I’d like to paint up a Union brigade, too, though that’s quite a way in the future.

TSJ and I plan to play once per month, which should roughly sextuple (it’s not a word, I know) my miniatures wargaming plays over the course of the year.

52nd oxford

Here’s the beginnings of the new project for 2014-15/18mm Napoleonics. Obviously I’m cheating and getting a head start. These guys are painted up as the 52nd Oxfordshire, and only lack a command stand to represent a battalion in Neil Thomas’s Napoleonic Wargaming rules set. Frank and I will be doing a division each. He’s doing a division of all KINDS of interesting (interesting means crazy, in this case*) French and French-allied troops. I’m going to be doing the vaunted Light Division, plus a battalion of Brunswickers and some KGL hussars. Oh, and some horse artillery. First contact should be early this summer.

I may try and get in some Sharp Practice skirmish gaming before our division level games.

I have to say, painting redcoats after 2.5 months of butternut and grey has been a real joy. I’m sure I’ll get sick of them soon enough, though.

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There you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about my gaming plans for 2014!

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*I’m kidding, of course. Frank really knows his stuff. It will be cool to see all of these obscure troops on the table, and I’m sure the uniforms are going to be awesome.

The Weekly Grind

Well, this week I continue my journey through a Sargasso Sea of butternut and greys.

I’ve finished half of another regiment of Confederates for Regimental Fire and Fury, and made a good start on the remainder. In other words, 15 down, 15 to go. It’s my goal to have a brigade of four regiments by the end of November, but I’m feeling like I’m going to need to reward myself after finishing this second regiment by painting some 12 pounder Napoleons. Then I can add brass and olive green to my palette! The joy!

I exaggerate when I complain.

These ACW regiments are actually pretty fun to paint, though I’m still not ecstatic with the look I’m getting. I think I’ve gone a bit dark in my tones this time around, and, perhaps more importantly, the paint jobs are lacking in contrast. Or maybe the spread of contrast is too much. I don’t know. Something ain’t right. 15mm is proving to be a real challenge to paint, and that’s not even taking into account the concentration and dexterity it takes to keep from doing everything twice!

Never fear, I’m determined to beat the scale into painterly submission.

The unbased marching types are new...

The unbased marching types are new…

My brigadier general is something of a disaster. Black horse at 15mm? Waste of effort. Blacklining with an 001 pen? Way out of scale. I see a visit to the tub of shame/Simple Green in the very near future.

My brigadier general is something of a disaster. Black horse at 15mm? Waste of effort. Blacklining with an 001 pen? Way out of scale. I think I see a visit to the tub of shame (that means a plastic bowl filled with paint stripping Simple Green) in this general’s future.

My brigadier hasn’t been banished to the frozen north, he’s just trotting around in a dollop of Vallejo pumice, which is excellent basing material. Seriously, just buy some. You’ll thank me.

This here is a damned fine game. Rommel in the Desert by Columbia Games.

This right here is a damned fine game. Rommel in the Desert by Columbia Games.

I did get to play a game of Rommel in the Desert this week. My buddy Ron has been learning it with me (ok, he’s been learning it and teaching me, but whatever), and we’re starting to figure out how some of the complex mechanical parts of the game work together. RitD is highly concerned with supply and fog of war, which sounds relatively boring, but makes for a very tense and engaging game.

I think the main thing I learned in this particular session was that the game isn’t really about killing units through combat nor is it about holding/defending territory, but rather the idea is to maneuver, isolate, and lop off large portions of your opponent’s army. And you have to take risks. Which is good, because that’s how the historical campaign worked. I’m horrible at talking about games (which leads to the question “why are you writing this blog?), so you should probably head over to Board Game Geek for more information. The reviews are mostly raves, which is pretty rare on that site for a wargame. Especially one from 1982.

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That’s all for now-next post should see the end of this second regiment of Confederates  and the eve of a full day of large scale Napoleonic miniatures wargaming as the HOGS (Historically Oriented Gaming Society) play out Friedland using “Napoleon’s Battles.”