Thursday, 30 April 2015

Irregular Cavalry Commander

Although I went to Salute last weekend, and enjoyed it a lot, I haven't posted about it specifically because other bloggers do it very well and very thoroughly and I don't really do show reports (and because I only took about 3 pics).

Post-Salute the day improved even further with beers, pub lunch, beers and an excellent curry. A good day all-round. I did buy a very few figures (8 actually) at the show and although it wasn't originally my intention, I decided to finish one to take to Ayton. This is the commander from the Rif War range by Gringo 40s. I saw it on their website and thought it was ideal as a cavalry leader for the big game at Ayton, and as a Big Man for Sharp Practice in the future.



New Cavalry

I've finished my irregular light cavalry - these are RSM Miniatures Ottoman Spahis but instead of the usual lance I've armed them with carbines (and based them in 2s as light skirmishing cavalry).



Formed up with their lance-armed comrades (painted in 2012) as a full regiment:



Some commanders next.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Nearly ready for Ayton 2015!

Only a few figures still to finish (6 cavalry, a general, a gun and a flag to be precise), and I'll be done.

Just for once I'd really like to complete everything before the day of departure, but I can't guarantee it. At least whatever happens I won't be doing one of my usual 2 depressing last-minute tasks; painting bloody hussars or desperately waiting for the basing to dry! All the latter is done and the last (simple, native) cavalry are being painted in situ for this very reason.

I've just finished a flag for my irregular general Lippup Fatti. It's a clip-art compilation comprising a scimitar, a crescent and an elephant, printed out on paper and coloured in/around. It'll do, and should look better once the figures are painted..




The pre-weekend campaign has been very entertaining so far and I think it's fair to say that there's a lot of confusion, suspicion and back-stabbing going on, which I suspect was Iain's plan all along. The setting is an 1880s Sudan-esque colonial country called Phetraea, where various imperialist imagi-nations are involved in preparing for a huge rebellion to sweep over them. Medetia is there of course, as are factions from about 8 other interesting and varied countries. There are a couple of new faces this year, which is excellent and they'll be very welcome.

My force will be reasonably balanced, but fairly modest. Intended mainly for the post-Napoleonic period, my figures are generally too early for this late 19th century setting, but it's not the sort of gaming event where this really matters. I expect to encounter everything from elephants and zulus, to picklehaubs, sombreros and armed nuns. There's even a Friday evening pre-game (which better not go on too long into the drinking zone!) where each player takes the field with a character for some competitive wild boar hunting.

It's going to be fun all-round and I'm really looking forward to it. Roll on the Bank Holiday weekend.
Salute too beforehand of course!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Naval Battalion Finished

The Marines are now done, so here's the entire Naval Battalion mustered and ready for action on distant shores.


This unit will be deploying to the deserts of Phetraea at the Ayton weekend in May, and after that (should there be any survivors!) will be used in Sharp Practice games involving coastal landing parties and river actions. I have a couple of Big Men to add later; a Marine officer and an NCO.



Monday, 6 April 2015

The Rearguard - Reflections

As will hopefully come across from the after action report, this was a very enjoyable game! I played it solo, and as always the unpredictable way the game evolves under the card-driven rules provided plenty of surprises and challenging decisions to make.

I went about setting up the game in a slightly back-to-front way. I laid out a 6x3 foot table, basically wanting to keep the terrain reasonably simple with a single building, an orchard, and a walled road leading to a bridge in the corner. Some trees and a small area of wet ground rounded things off. I then let the set-up dictate the scenario, and decided that an attack on a rearguard, with some prizes to carry off (2 wagons and a cannon, of which the capture/retention any 2 would result in a victory for the relevant side) would make sense.

I decided the convoy would move each time the Blank card came up, at 2d6-2" per turn. I didn't know how the game would play out on this basis, but fortunately in the end it worked really well!

The Fleurian force was rated Good, and was made up as follows:

Captain (Big Man Level III)
Artillery Lieutenant (I)
Cavalry Lieutenant (I)
Chasseur Sergeant (II)

  • 2 groups of 10 Line infantry
  • 1 group of 10 Light infantry
  • 1 group of 5 Artillery crew with a light gun
  • 1 group of 8 Hussars (to arrive on the 3rd occurrence of the Fleurian Blank card)


The Medetians were also rated Good, and comprised:

Captain (III)
Infantry Ensign (I)
Cavalry Lieutenant (I)
Rifles Sergeant (II)

  • 3 groups of 10 Line infantry
  • 1 group of 12 Grenadiers
  • 1 group of 10 Rifles
  • 1 group of 8 Hussars (to arrive on the 3rd occurrence of the Medetian Blank card - as it happened, on the same turn the Fleurian cavalry arrived)


I played the game straight, taking all cards, events and dice rolls as they came, as I know from previous experience that with Sharp Practice there's nothing to be gained from trying to massage the narrative - the game itself generates all the storyline you could want and somehow manages to do so better than you could write yourself!

The rifles really did catch the last wagon (which had helped by only moving a measly 3" in its last go) on the very edge of the table and saw off 2 desperate Fleurian attacks to keep up the chase.

In all, half the Big Men were wounded, 2 seriously, but after 4 games of this occasional campaign series there's yet to be a fatality. At least it means I don't have to print any new character cards for now!




The Rearguard - Sharp Practice AAR (part 2)

.. continuing on

By this time the enemy horse was passing the bridge and making haste to come up in support of their infantry line on our left. However, our capture of the gun forced a re-think and suddenly the cavalry could be seen dashing back the way they had just come. I am unsure of their officer's name but suspect he might be a relation of those blundering Le Pickleds we hear about from the Gateway Alliance..



Meanwhile the Grenadiers had entered the orchard as ordered and, at no loss to themselves, completely overthrown the Chasseurs. They also delivered a few inches of Medetian steel to the enemy sergeant but, clearly popular with his men, the remaining few managed to carry him with them in their rout.


Stout lads, our Grenadiers, although once this gallant action was concluded I had the devil's own time getting them to do much more. Even young Lambrusco, who hurried over to take them under his command later on, struggled to get them to pick up the pace and they satisfied themselves with securing the gun we'd already taken and loosing off a couple of volleys at the distant enemy. They suffered no casualties this day, for which we must be grateful. I suppose veterans know how to look after themselves..

By now, though, I myself was in a race to win the high ground before the enemy cavalry arrived. I had hoped to be able to follow the wagons along the road but the need to halt this counter-attack was the most urgent priority.


We had managed to get off a volley which emptied a gratifying number of saddles, but we'd just managed to reload and present bayonets when the horsemen crashed into us. My unit fought well but were overwhelmed by the weight of the attack and we fell back across the road and over the wall beyond. As I tried to rally the men I was able to order the rifles, whom Sergeant Rigato had moved up to the road, to fire on the cavalry. Caught milling around in a confused state following the melee, this was enough to see them off and the momentarily tense situation was restored.




At the same moment Lieutenant Gillette took the fight to the enemy, bravely charging the infantry line (having to split his force either side of a tree that the enemy's musketry had set alight). Sadly Gillette was gravely wounded in this charge and his men were unable to make much impression on the enemy despite a prolonged bout of fighting. Captain Mauzac was also lightly wounded but could be seen continuing to exhort his men to hold their ground, which they did.

Our hussars withdrew to sort themselves out, although Gillette was left where he'd fallen. As you know, he's an unpleasant sort and harsh with his men, but I think perhaps more could have been done to recover him from under the enemy's bayonets..


Of most pressing concern, however, was the sudden turn of speed which saw the supply wagons nearing the bridge. I ordered Sergeant Rigato to take his men at the double down the road and intercept the convoy before it passed over the river to safety. I felt it was probably too late but we had to try. Too many Medetian lives had been lost to give up now.


With fortune on their side, the riflemen dashed along the road in fine style under the enemy's very noses.


This bold move forced Mauzac to break his formation and send some of his infantry back to intercept Rigato. The Fleurian infantry had held their flanking position well, though they had been whittled down somewhat by the hussar's charge, the rifles' early sniping, and the brave stand of Ensign Lambrusco's men. The latter had been forced to withdraw earlier due to the casualties they'd suffered and under his own initiative the Ensign had come across to lead the Grenadiers, as recounted earlier.


The enemy came at the riflemen fiercely but our lads saw them off for no loss and set off again after the wagons which had, alarmingly, almost succeeded in crossing the bridge. From my distant position I could just make out our men as they closed on the final wagon.


Alas, though, at that very moment the enemy's cavalry returned to make a last desperate attack.


For our brave rifles, caught between the wagons (and the enemy side of the river) and the charging horsemen, there was nothing for it but to fight like devils, and this they certainly did. Rigato himself wounded the enemy Lieutenant who eventually fled with his retreating men. Fortune smiled on us further as the drover of the final wagon must have been distracted by the nearby fighting and slowed its departure, allowing the victorious riflemen to capture the wagon.

The final drama, so I was later told, was the loss of Sergeant Rigato's hat as a result of the violence of the fighting. Of no great import, you or I would think, but Rigato dived into the river to recover it. Fortunately for him he had already ordered the wagon turned round and his men were on their way back with it.


Captain Mauzac knew the game was up and limped off with his remaining men to explain himself to his superiors.


With our 2 prizes (alas the other wagon had eluded us) we formed up and began the return march. Despite our losses the men were in good spirits after their victory.


All the way back Sergeant Rigato regaled me with the story of his men's exploits, though in truth I had seen them for myself and had already congratulated everyone involved. I did learn, however, that there is more to the Sergeant's hat than meets the eye; he uses it to store his share of the prize money from our recent successful raid on the enemy's paychest. At least that explained his sodden appearance!


We are now safely back in camp and await your next orders.

Your faithful servant,
Gattinara.

The Rearguard - Sharp Practice AAR (part 1)

To Colonel Montecristo at Advanced Guard Headquarters, from Captain Gattinara of 2nd Company, 1st Medetian Regiment of Infantry..

Sir, this is my report of the action that took place on Easter Sunday, when the force under my command intercepted the enemy rearguard close to the bridge at Vodi. As you know, the terrain here is difficult for formed troops to operate over, with wetlands, woods and those walls that the locals make with stone from the nearby gully.


As you anticipated, the tail of the Fleurian army could be caught if my advanced guard took the old goat trail across the hills. As ordered, we descended the western slopes to find the final wagons, and a rearguard of infantry and an artillery piece, on the final approaches to the bridge over the gully. Seeing them about to escape, we lost no time in moving to cut them off.



The retreating enemy had seen fit to leave a small force defending the bridge, which the rearguard commander was soon to bring under his command.


Despite our cavalry not yet being in sight, I ordered the advance, hoping to capture both supply wagons and the gun, or at least 2 out of the 3 to deliver a decisive bloody nose to the enemy. I myself commanded 20 men and 12 grenadiers from our regiment, while Sergeant Rigato led 10 riflemen and, on the left, young Ensign Lambrusco had a further 10 men. The marsh on the left slowed us a little, but on the right we were soon at the orchard, threatening the rear of the column.




The enemy commander, whom later I recognised to be the wily Captain Mauzac, saw this and had his Chasseurs move forward to deny us an easy route to the road on our right. Notwithstanding this my men eagerly went in to contest the orchard.


Unfortunately the enemy light troops had the better of the encounter among the trees and, inflicting heavy casualties on my men, drove them out.


Not wishing to have these Fleurians sniping at my flank for the rest of the action, I ordered the Grenadiers to clear them out, but in the meantime the enemy was recovering quickly from the shock of our arrival. I could see that Mauzac had ordered the bridge guard forward, while the wagons made what haste they could towards the bridge.


The enemy infantry united under their commander and formed up in line to block our way around the more open ground to our left.


Sergeant Rigato led his men into the trees to commence a lively fire on this tempting enemy target, although possibly their route through the marsh had dampened their powder as their shooting performance this day was sadly lacking.


As I made my way forward in the centre, I saw that in the distance a force of enemy cavalry had arrived and was making straight for the action.


I was thankful, therefore, for the arrival at the very same time of Lieutenant Gillette with our own hussars. They had taken a smoother, though longer, route down from the hills in order to preserve the horses, but now thundered up on my left in fine style. I ordered Gillette to support Ensign Lambrusco and remain in reserve until the right moment.


Soon after this I was able, with the aid of the men of my company, to break onto the road where, after a short fight, we were able to see off the enemy's artillery crew at the point of the bayonet. Fortunately for us the convoy was moving quite slowly (at this point in the battle at least) and the Fleurians had been unable to extricate the gun from the road and deploy it onto the nearby high ground, where it would no doubt have done us great harm. I am pleased to inform you that the gun, a fine 6 pounder, was subsequently brought back to our camp and sits in triumphant splendour outside your tent even as you read this report.


So ends part 1, final installment to follow..

Thursday, 2 April 2015

All Ashore!

For once I haven't wasted any time getting these newly painted figures finished off, so here they are on their bases. They're on singles for Sharp Practice, but the pics show how they will take the field in larger battles where elements/stands are required. The group bases are magnetic to hold them on.




Now, back to those Marines to go with them..

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Bashi-Bazouks

More delights from the brush of James Roach - a group of Perry Miniatures Bashi Bazouks. Great figures painted superbly.


For me these guys will see service from the 17th to the 19th century, from skirmishes to big battles, and under several sets of rules. I believe it's called 'sweating your assets'!


I'm sure it won't be long before I post some pics of them in action.