Thursday 26 November 2020

Ruined Houses And Train Tracks

With my interest in the hobby revived, there naturally followed the urge to buy some more stuff. So here are a couple of things I convinced myself I had to have.

Battlefield In A Box - Ruined Buildings

I'm currently using Battlegroup as my WW2 rules of choice, which use a 1:1 scale - an individual model soldier represents an individual soldier. So built-up-areas can't really be generic - each house is individual, and a strict awareness of who is in what house is required. Hence the attraction of ruined buildings - they can be deemed to provide the same cover as a full building, but you can easily see what's inside.

Not being a scratch-builder, or even much taken by painting-up ready made houses these days, the above product from Gale Force 9 seemed ideal. I saved a few quid by ordering from Firestorm Games rather than the Flames of War website - the cost was about £36. In brief, I was entirely satisfied with the purchase. The actual models are just as good as they look on the box, being well cast and very well painted. The ruined roofs are detachable for even easier access.

The photos below show the buildings with some 15mm Polish troops - these buildings are of course in of 15mm size, or 1/100th scale if you prefer. To conclude - 'I heartily endorse this product'.

Whilst on the subject of ruined buildings, I wanted to show off another such which I painted myself during lockdown. This effort was a long time coming - see the last part of this post from 2017 for the original purchase. I kept looking at the model and deciding it looked too fiddly to paint, what with all that rubble. But 3 months of furlough was finally sufficient for the effort to be made. Actually, I'm quite pleased with the result and this ruined factory should sit well with the ruined buildings I've just bought. As you can see, the 'yard' area is separate, and a floor can be lifted to access the interior.

Train Track
A bit of a niche purchase here (even in a niche hobby like ours), but moving house involved me in throwing out the old bits of track I had bought for my Polish armoured train. The train is the old Peter Pig model, designed for the Russian Civil War and (I believe) no longer in production. When I acquired it in 2008 there was no Flames of War armoured train, although subsequently I added the FoW assault car to the loco and artillery cars I already had. 

I also, of course, had to find some track (no FoW train track either, back in the day), and I discovered I needed what is called TT scale stuff, with a 12mm 'gauge' - that is, 12mm between the rails. I went for some lengths of 'flexible' track, which worked pretty well as it could be bent round to accommodate different wargaming layouts. But years of bending took their toll and it started to fall apart. Hence its disposal when we moved house.

TT scale is also a fairly niche thing in the world of model railways, but I tracked down what I needed from the Kernow Model Rail Centre. This time I bought some straights and curves. So now I have some shiny new track for the train to run on. Cost was slightly less than the FoW product, though the points (if I ever get around to buying some) are more expensive. FoW do a rather tempting expansion pack, but in the end I thought the railway modellers' stuff would fit my needs better.

Well, that's about it for now. Very frustrating not to be able to organise some games with my various gaming buddies (especially when I need to do some playtesting with Shadow of the Eagles), but we must be patient and hope for the best.

Go well everyone. 'Til next time!

Friday 6 November 2020

The Battle of The Simbach Bridge.

Well, the usual apologies are appropriate for the rather long gap between this and the last proper wargaming post on this blog. I have to admit the wargaming flame has been burning rather low the last couple of months, and the excuse is the common one - the intrusion of what we like to call 'real life'. In my case, this mostly consisted of the negotiations that led to me retiring in late September, and the consequent downsizing to a new house. 

Let me reassure readers that wargaming in our new smaller residence can continue - my usual 6' x 5' table will fit well in the dining room, although anything bigger might be a problem. And I have a 'study' that's a bit bigger than my previous 'enhanced cupboard'. I may even be able to have an armchair in there when the appropriate rearrangements have been concluded. Then, world beware!

But enough of domestic matters. As November came around, I awoke from my lethargy and started to take my hobby seriously again. And top priority was a Napoleonic game to playtest the latest updates to Shadow of the Eagles. Once again my old buddy Roy was willing to help out, with table space at his home and his wonderful Hinton Hunt armies. I sketched out a quick scenario, including the map as below, but left Roy to choose the armies and year of the game. I was wonderfully surprised and pleased to see, on my arrival, that he had chosen Austria vs. Bavaria in 1809, an original and fascinating choice. Napoleonics without the French? Who'd have thought it possible!

The Bavarians are defending the bridge over the Simbach, seen at the top left-hand corner of the sketch map. They have sixteen units organised in 3 brigades of infantry and 2 of cavalry, one of the latter still arriving over the bridge at game start. The attacking Austrians start the game half-deployed, with their left wing hurrying across the table from right to left and their centre rather lagging behind as well. They have nineteen units in 4 brigades of infantry and 2 of cavalry. Artillery batteries are brigaded with the infantry and cavalry in both armies. 

Roy left me to set out the armies whilst tea was prepared, and it was a pleasure to handle the lovely old figures and set them out ready for battle. I could feel my gaming mojo strengthening by the minute. The results of my efforts are seen in the 3 photos below, which show the overall deployment and then the Bavarian and Austrian armies respectively. My apologies for the quality of the photos - they were taken in haste and a bit of camera-shake crept in.

I took the Austrians, and predictably struck for the potentially vulnerable corner of the Bavarian 'L', whilst the brigade of lancers leading the left wing headed west towards the bridge at full steam ahead. I was able to dislodge a prominent Bavarian infantry battalion with concentrated artillery fire and effect a break-in, as shown in the photo below. Thereafter the crowding in of Austrian battalions left my artillery blanked-off from their targets. So much for pre-game planning.

Equally predictably, the Austrian lancers were met head on by the Bavarian right-wing cavalry charging forward from the bridge. Unfortunately, these gentlemen turned out to be an allied French brigade of high quality light cavalry. However, my lancers did pretty well in the circumstances. After 3 moves of grappling, and the overthrow of one of the French regiments, one unit of lancers was well-placed to make a dash for the bridge and win the game. Unfortunately, in their weakened state, they found themselves forced to halt to re-organise, and a battalion of Bavarian infantry had time to peel off and head to the bridge themselves. The game ended before this contest could be decided. A stage in the cavalry battle is seen below. 

The two photos which follow show the game at its height. The Austrian break-in slowly developed into something like a break-through, with units being lost on both sides. Unfortunately for Roy, his powerful left wing cavalry brigade of 4 regiments of light dragoons were saddled with an 'inept' commander. Despite my kindly advice to avoid throwing 'ones', Roy stubbornly insisted on producing 3 such rolls which held the brigade back at crucial moments. I have to say my leading cuirassiers, in contrast, had an excellent game and so the 2 Austrian cavalry regiments on this flank were able to impede, and even slightly push back, the 4 Bavarian regiments opposed to them, helped by the river protecting their right flank. 

To their credit, Roy's cavalry did aggressively engage some of the Austrian infantry in this sector, and did very well until the Austrians remembered this wasn't the Seven Years War and they could form square, which helped them considerably.

And so a couple more photos to finish off this account. The number of routed Bavarian units slowly increased, and although the Austrians suffered too, after about 5 moves or so Roy was staring defeat in the face. Rather than prolong the agony until the required 50% of units were actually lost, he resigned in my favour. In the first photo below, the situation in the centre at end-of-game is shown, with the Austrians still striving valiantly to effect a breakthrough. The final photo shows Bavarian and Austrian infantry in close combat on the Austrian left. The Austrians are (as Roy had to tell me) a dark-coated Landwehr unit, which I was allowed to class as regular for this game.

The rules worked smoothly, so much so that I found I had made no notes on changes or improvements when the game was over. Just as importantly, we had both had a very enjoyable few hours with plenty of time for chat in between moves, without being distracted by intrusively over-complex or poorly explained rules.

My thanks to Roy for so generously hosting this game, and ending the experience by gifting me a book and lending me 3 others. This hobby really is, in the end, all about the people.

Best wishes to all in the coming lockdown. Go well, 'til the next time!