Leipzig DBN Refight

A bit late in posting about this, but never mind…

Over the first weekend of October I was fortunate enough to take part in a multi-player refight of the Battle of Leipzig 1813. This was put on by Alex Testo, who is one of the original authors of the DBN rules and who runs a very nice hotel in Scarborough. October being closed season, Alex likes to arrange a big game for people to come and play, and to stay in residence over the weekend. I attended the Gettysburg game a couple of years ago and when I heard about this year’s subject battle, I signed up immediately as it’s one I’ve always been fascinated by.

 

In the end there were 10 players (some of whose names I’ve forgotten in the intervening weeks – sorry) who assembled on Friday evening to receive a warm welcome from Alex and his family, an introduction to the custom-built table, the rules and the background to the battle itself. Then off for an excellent fish and chip supper, followed by some social time over a beer or two, during which we divided into two sides/teams to look over the table and forces, and make some plans for the battle.

Some of the armies, laid out by Corps:

I fancied playing on the French side and duly became that dashing fop, Murat. Our leader was Phil, who made a fine Napoleon (or possibly Custer), and our plan was reasonably historical – to hold Blucher in the north and try to bash the Army of Bohemia among the high ground and villages in the south. I had the left flank, from Liebertwolkwitz onwards, to defend against hordes of Austrians, Russians and Cossacks.

We hid the whole army behind the high ground and villages, leaving only 2 artillery batteries in view. The enemy didn’t seem fazed, and deployed in strength pretty much everywhere.

 

 

Needless to say, a 2-day multi-player wargame is about as difficult to accurately recount in detail as a real battle, so I won’t be attempting this!

The gist is that there was hard fighting everywhere, with the allies trying to take Mockern in the north in the face of desperate defending by the French. There were cossack shenanigans all over, trying to get behind the French into the baggage and to occupy objectives (fortunately I dealt with the attempt on my flank).

 

Mockern as the storm approaches:

The big fight was around Liebertwolkwitz, stretching away to both to me on the left, and the Imperial Guard on the right flank. Everyone seemed to have good and bad turns, and the combat swayed back and forth around the villages and ridges. The Guard went in, and a lot of it went down, but not before taking a lot of Prussian and Russian Guard with it.

 

 

The Austrians under Simon tried to swoop on Lindenau to block the French escape route, but they seemed to be walking in treacle and took an age to deliver their assault. He took the gibes well though ūüôā

Leipzig and its garrison:

 

I got hold of the Reserve Heavy Cavalry Corps (lots of tough elite Saxons, etc) and managed to crush much of the enemy’s right flank, shoring up my own position at the same time. That was a lot of fun, and a highlight for me!

 

 

 

 

 

At the end there was a very fine line between winning and losing, and it came down to a couple of key combats to see which army would reach its break point first. The French just fell short, and Napoleon would once again have to retreat over the river to live to fight another day.

 

 

All in all it was a brilliant weekend, with very good company and an excellent game that played out so well. The social side was very good too, including some beer and curry on the second evening, and lots of banter throughout the two days. Thanks go to Alex and family for putting on such a great event, and I look forward to another one of these weekends next year hopefully.

Lion Rampant Game Day

Last weekend saw a dozen gamers gather together from far and wide (Scotland to Essex anyway) to celebrate Goat Major reaching extreme old age and to play some games of Lion Rampant.

The venue was Foundry’s premises at East Stoke Hall, and they generously laid on some superb terrain tables for us to use. Even if you don’t collect their figures it’s a great place to visit, as their ranges are extensive and go on for room after room. The recent addition of a huge display cabinet with thousands of beautifully painted figures is a real treat too. I have to admit that their old fantasy ranges got me interested, with a Frostgrave project to get back to sometime..

We had a great day, with 3 x 4 player games in the morning, using scenarios from the rulebook and card-driven random player activations. It worked very well and the guys on my table (Iain, Andy and Dave) had a lot of fun watching Iain hide (but win..) and Dave/Buff get massacred. The boasts element of the game is interesting and adds some characterisation and storyline to the on-table action, beyond just going for the objectives and killing the enemy. Not having painted my own retinue yet, I was very grateful for the loan of a lovely Wars of the Roses force from Gary. It was a small, tough, force of 4 x 6 point units and was interesting to use. That said, even a small force can be difficult to do anything with if you fail your first activation roll..

GM had worked up an interesting back-story and we were all fighting for either the King or the Usurper, as well as for ourselves. Scores were kept (I scored a net zero in the first game once I’d deducted unfulfilled boasts from the tax points I gathered!) and added to a scoreboard where both individual and team progress was recorded.

Some action from the morning game I played in:

 

 

After lunch we put all the tables together and set up for a big 6 v 6 bash, with players’ positions drawn randomly along their faction’s baseline. We had 3 objectives to fight for overall. There must have been over 500 figures in use, so it was a BIG skirmish game, but actually it played very smoothly and I think it demonstrated the flexibility of the rules. We reverted to IGO-UGO, with each side of the table taking its turn before swapping back to the other side.

Inevitably the game provided some excellent moments and a lot of entertainment, and after a couple of hours we had a result (by which time there were far fewer figures on the table). Scores were counted up (I scored about 8 this time, which at least contributed something to the Usurper’s side which I was on) and individual and team winners were declared.

Somehow Iain, who’s courage and parentage have since been extensively (and quite rightly) questioned on the LAW forum, won the Best General award amid great mirth and mockery. All’s fair in war and wargaming though, so well done Iain. The Usurpers won the overall campaign though, so a new and enlightened era was heralded.

 

Then we packed up and went off to warm ourselves up (it had been a cold day!) with a beer and curry night in Newark. All in all an excellent day with a lot of fun, good company and good gaming.

I like the Lion Rampant rules and the games they generate, and it’s very easy to pick up and get stuck in. I have the Normans in Italy retinue planned, and intend to switch my 15mm Dark Ages collection to this as well in the future.

Ayton Day 2

Clear-headed and mentally razor-sharp military geniuses prepare the table and their respective battle plans for the big ‘off’ on the Sunday; it was to be a mighty clash:

 

Below – our glorious campaign organiser (and all credit to him for that, because it was excellent). However… to think that we put this man in charge of our vulnerable left flank after its initial commander had to depart.. Well, we got what we deserved.

It may look impregnable, but Iain found it’s weaknesses. Unfortunately he was in charge:

Paul deployed a colourful array of troops:

Simon’s massed Sepoys got to build a nice long wall to defend:

Meanwhile, at the other end of the 30 foot table, the Medetian army (and navy) deployed to defend the 3rd key position.

 

Our side’s collective failure on Saturday meant that we had to hold all 3 key locations throughout the Sunday battle. The loss of any of them would mean defeat. From left to right our line was; Pete, Paul, Simon and me. We set out our defences and loaded them with men. Our combined reserves were to be a shared resource. After a quick rendition of ‘Men of Harlech’ we folded our arms and waited.
It was time for the enemy to arrive..
Andy setting up the Savage Swans and their colleagues for another long march. He had a hell of a battle with Paul’s lot and neither side seemed to yield an inch all day (apart from when Andy’ units fled).

To borrow from old Nosey, trying to tell the story of a wargame with thousands of figures and 180 square feet of table is like trying to tell the story of a ball. It can’t be done. So, some general snippets and pics..

Medetian light troops deploy to strengthen the extreme right flank as Bob’s forces appear in the distance.

Paul’s (the other Paul) asiatic hordes drove a wedge between Simon and me, so we tried to plug the gap with reserve cavalry.

General shot of the battlefield after an hour or two.

Buff somehow steered his unsteerable giant nellies right across the table and through my decoy Chasseurs. We killed 2 out of 3, but were swept away. Heroic stuff but bloody.

Al Cekic killed men in pith helmets and then targeted the behemoths, before all its crew were shot down:

The Medetian Navy says ‘none shall pass’, although in an Italian accent:

The Medetian Army says ‘watsa matta you, hey, gotta no respect?’ Or something similarly argumentative:

Our light cavalry arrive to save the day and close the gap:

 

Mehicans swarm forward, the only manoeuvre they’re taught:

 

Zap guns zap Andy’s troops. Hopefully they got the Oompah band.

Allies discuss battle plans. Long story..

The light cavalry rescue goes wrong, a lot:

Fortunately the Medetians were blazing away and seeing off their attackers:

Although the Grenadier Guard was called on to fill a dangerous gap at one point:

With the Medetians holding firm and dealing with all-comers on the right, and events too painful and inexplicable to photograph taking place on the right, Simon had to hold in the centre against enormous odds as Paul’s masses closed in:

I believe he did so by the thickness of a cartridge case, but boy was it close:

 

In the end, we’d lost one and held two positions, so our evil plan was undone and we’d have to make peace or slink off to plot a dastardly return. One day, Phetaea will be ours, all ours!

Great fun.

Ayton Day 1 – The Other Game

There were farsands of ’em, but they still couldn’t win.

The other table on Saturday saw a massive clash as the Phetreaen rebels attacked at the Pass of Ishta, and the Convent defended by the savage nuns of the local order (don’t ask). Technically these rebels were my allies (although I doubt they’d have approved of our plans for a general take-over and massive canal project) so I was wishing them well, but a victory with heavy casualties wouldn’t go amiss..

Mwahahaha, etc.

Simon and Pete took charge of a LOT of natives, everything from Arabs to Zulus, and, well, charged forward – as you do. They even got to recycle dead units I think, and you’d think that would be enough. But no, they couldn’t quite break their opponents, or capture their objective buildings either. There was no shortage of effort though.

I didn’t spot the Lucozade bottle when I took the pics, sorry.

Gary provided a Zulu horde to bulk up the rebels:

Simon tried repeatedly to capture the convent, scaling the walls each time and duking it out with the tough old dears inside, only to be chucked back out each time. Every time I wandered past looking for a cup of tea or a bit of cake, there they were, clinging to the outside of the building like a zombie horde, but the defences were just too tough.

It was a tremendous looking battle though..

Many Mexicans fought, and quite a lot died. But there was no huge massacre to repeat the scenes of two years ago. I guess the rebs didn’t have enough artillery for that!

Mexican horse artillery – are they leaving their mates to get slaughtered??

The Mexican lancers even reached the enemy this time – nice one Ken!

So, on two battlefields the combined forces of rebellion and capitalist imperialist oppression (that’s us) had failed. Oh well, it would all be settled at the capital on Sunday.

The ACW – In a BIG Way

Alongside the two campaign-related games, there was also a fantastic 54mm ‘toy soldier’ ACW game put on by Tim H and Tim W. I popped over as often as I could to keep up with progress, but am ashamed to find I only took one picture, early on the first day. Sorry guys, it wasn’t through lack of appreciation.

The figure collections only came together this year I believe, yet there were very large Union and Confederate armies marching towards each other for a big clash. The variety of poses, and the overall sense of motion and activity in the figures, made it a wonderful spectacle and the players seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.

Day 2 report to follow..

Ayton 2015 – Another Superb Wargaming Weekend

The May Bank Holiday weekend has, for the last 4 years, meant a game and beer-fest get-together of LAW forum members at Ayton in Yorkshire. This year’s event was a morphing of some of the events and forces from previous years, resulting in a fictitious late 19th century colonial clash in the deserts of Phetraea (next door to Byzarbia for those who’ve heard of it!)

Most people arrived on the Friday for what was to be a couple of day’s battle, following a lead-up of a couple of months of pre-game campaigning, mis-communication and dastardly deeds between the players, all very well run by Iain.

It was a brilliant weekend, with excellent gaming and great company as always. The result never really matters (good job too this time!), just the taking part and contributing to the culmination-of-the-campaign narrative. Thanks to everyone for making it such a good time, and it was nice to see a couple of unexpected faces who made last minute efforts to get there.

Even more importantly – get well soon Peeler, you were very much missed over the weekend.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, and the one after that which we’ve laid tentative plans for too.

I’ll post pictures of day 1 here, and of the other tables, and day 2, on a couple of other posts to keep things manageable.

Day 1 – The Battle of Leptis

We shouldn’t have fought a battle here at all, but I’ll not knock a man when he’s down. Too much. Let’s just say that Lord Peeler must have been several sheets to the wind when he dillied and dallied and thought this was the capital, forcing Iain to divert some of my force to Leptis to help bail him out. Still, we had to fight somewhere. ūüôā

Here, then, is the Saturday table. My Medetians attacked alongside Peeler’s troops (ably handled by Phil as an emergency stand-in). Our objectives were the two buildings beside the harbour and the railway respectively, although the enemy (Andy and Gary) began mostly deployed in the town of Leptis which they’d fortified before our arrival.

 

Phil and I agreed a plan, which Peeler and I had discussed the day before, and set out to keep the enemy busy on the left and in the centre with light troops and the odd probing attack, while Phil assaulted at full strength along the railway on the right. We managed to draw out most of the enemy reserves by the end, and I had some sneakiness planned for the left flank for late in the game, by which time hopefully Andy would not be expecting anything…

Needless to say my ‘surprise’ dawn attack was anticipated and interrupted by Andy’s American Indian natives who popped up as we approached the first bit of high ground! At least they didn’t all drop out of a single tree this time.. Undaunted, we charged in, had an inconclusive melee where both sides fell back, and managed to snatch the position when Andy failed the Indian’s control roll.

 

 

The Cossack skirmishers snuck about and hid a lot, but did some fighting before the end.

Al Cekic (‘The Hammer’) lined up on the harbour building and did a bit of damage to the Altfritzenbergers, but it was a tough nut to crack.

After some delay while we sorted ourselves out, the first attack went in, but although the Sepoys did their job and soaked up enemy firepower, they couldn’t break into the building and both they and the regular unit in support were forced to withdraw to avoid being wiped out. This upset timings for a later co-ordinated attack somewhat but at least we were keeping Andy occupied while Phil tried (repeatedly) to storm the railway station and the train parked inconveniently in front of it.

My Jezzails spent the bulk of the day sniping at Andy’s guys, mostly ineffectually at the harbour garrison (although we did whittle them down a bit), but also had some fun winning a long range duel with some artillery and forcing them to re-deploy out of sight.

Finally, with only a couple of turns remaining and completely out of the blue (for Andy, at least) my floating reserve arrived and charged into the harbour. There must have been a haze on the river or no lookout, or perhaps it was just Iain’s sense of mischief! My naval battalion leapt from the boats and assaulted the building while the Byzarbian Queen pounded and gatlinged the nearby enemy artillery.

It was a lot of fun, but despite the worried looks on the defenders’ faces, it was not to be. We couldn’t force our way in and took a lot of casualties charging back in again a second time, and that was that. Unfortunately Phil had been unable to take the train station either, despite many assaults, so the attacks came to nothing in the end.

 

 

 

Fortunately we’d already arranged (in the campaign phase) for both the road and rail bridges to the north to be blown by saboteurs on the enemy’s arrival (although we’d hope it would be after we’d already passed) so we still made it to the capital first, taking the scenic route by boat – although presumably it took a few trips!

This meant we’d at least be defending in the big battle on day 2, but what of our allies on the other table…?

 

100th Post! A Belated Account of Ayton 2014

I’m quite pleased to have made it to a hundred posts. You’re never sure with this sort of thing if you’ll keep it going or if it will just fizzle out. Anyway, it’s been fun so far so I’ll see if I can get to 200.

I didn’t have much new to post about but then, with Ayton 2015 fast approaching, I realised that I never did share my account of the Ayton 2014 campaign, other than with Henry Hyde. So, here is the official Medetian history, not too biased I hope, but naturally concentrating on my perspective of the pre-weekend planning and the on-table events themselves..

 

Ayton 2014¬†‚Äď Grenouisse Ascendant (but not for long..)
 
The Medetian Experience
 
The Plan

General Barolo, on finding himself appointed to the role of the Duke’s Chief of Staff, set about making the best of this dubious honour. Reining in some of the more impetuous allied commanders (Borscht and Darien
particularly) was the first priority so that a discussion could take place
about plans and timings. A conference was duly called and hosted by General Hauptzeige in the Governor’s Palace in Castell Sebastian. Numerous ideas were put forth, although geography, initial deployments and limited campaign time clearly suggested a two-pronged invasion, from the east by land, and from the west by sea.

With the Duke absent, the fact that the conference generated a reasonably
coherent plan, with everyone more or less in agreement, was a welcome surprise. That the various contingents’ own intentions (some of which were already being implemented!) were largely incorporated in the combined plan was no doubt the reason for such co-operation.

In short, the aggressive Borschtians, already occupying the
island off the Duchy’s southern coast, were to invade Granprix from west of the capital and its river lines. The Prunkland bridging column, kindly loaned by Hauptzeige, would go with them to assist in their advance east, and the doughty Wheyeydians would take ship to land in their support. Subject to what opposition they encountered, they would attempt to approach Pescadrix from the west and hopefully draw off a proportion of the defenders’ strength.

The eastern pincer would be a larger affair, with the main army departing Kap Ludwig and marching straight for Pescadrix, intending to smash through any opposition it encountered. The Medetians would lead on the
coast road, with light troops covering the hilly right flank where enemy advanced forces might be lurking. The rest of the main army would follow closely, consisting of the infantry and light troops of Darien, and the army of Prunkland, who would be last to depart. The Granprixian forces under the Duke would land by sea further along the coast and thereby link up with the main army, creating a combined (and hopefully unstoppable) force of over 2,000 figures.

The Darien cavalry, a mighty host in itself, would leave early and make its way north west through the hills and forests, aiming to cut the road north of Pescadrix and sever the enemy’s communications with Grenouisse. This force would then move south to close the net around the capital and hopefully re-join the main army for a final show-down close to the city. This part of the plan was altered mid-campaign as the cavalry column
would not have arrived in time, so instead the Darienite cavalry marched to the right of the main army and was close enough to be able to make a crucial contribution to both battles.

Substantial naval forces would carry out a number of¬†operations, including escorting the Borschtians, Wheyeydians and Granprixians¬†to their landing sites, scouting the enemy coast for activity and defences,¬†covering the main army‚Äôs left flank from enemy naval intervention, and keeping¬†an eye on things back at Castell Sebastian in case a coup de main was attempted by anyone (‚Äėfriend‚Äô or foe). The weather was, as always, unpredictable but in¬†the main these activities were carried out without too much mis-hap. Naval¬†clashes took place, and a major battle is understood to have taken place late¬†in the campaign, of which reports have not yet been received.

Many plots, intrigues and subterfuges were also planned during this period, and some were even implemented; a most interesting time it certainly was! General E Pickled, apparently dithering to and fro on the coast road, was shot and wounded in the arm despite his cavalry escort, leading to suggestions that his own side might have been responsible. The true motives of the Darienites and their Inquisition were suspected by many among the Duke’s allies, and efforts were made to observe their actions and restrict their access to the Kap once the army had departed. Prunkland in particular was sensitive to the risk of a coup in Castell Sebastian when the campaign was occupying our attention, and contingencies were put in place to defend against dastardly actions from disappearing cavalry columns, disguised infantry, mischievous feathered natives and sneaky naval forces.

Map of the
Granprixian Invasion Plan
(click to enlarge)
Key:

Purple ‚ÄstMain Army; Medetia, Prunkland and Darien main force
Green ‚ÄstDarien Cavalry (although in the end they didn‚Äôt travel this far to the north)
Grey ‚Äst Duke Zigor and his Granprixians
Red ‚ÄstBorscht
Orange –¬†Wheyedia

The Campaign Itself

Somewhat amazingly, due to a combination of a reasonably straight forward plan, some curious enemy dispositions, a bit of luck, and a tremendous fighting spirit, the invasion proceeded very nearly as intended.

The enemy were unable to strongly oppose the main army and fell back before it, abandoning prepared positions without a fight. The army marched forward cautiously but in good spirits, eager to get at the enemy.
Granprixian guerilleros were encountered, providing intelligence, confirming that the enemy were out of position guarding against non-existent threats to the north west, and offering assistance in the coming fight. Both were welcome. Some naval skirmishes took place off the coast but, coming as they did after the key landings, without serious impact on the land campaign.
Finally, after a sedate march through the gentle Granprixian littoral, we found an enemy army that was ready to give battle.

First Battle

The enemy (the armies of Gateway and Altefritzenberg) took up a strong position anchored on the coast and village to their right (Gateway), with wooded hills and earthwork fortifications to their left (Altefritzenberg),
and with their combined cavalry in the plain between. Granprixian forces were assigned the extreme left of our attacking army, aiming to capture the village and had assault troops, led by their Grenadiers, literally advancing along the beach. The forces of Darien, Prunkland and Medetia occupied the centre and right of the army, with their units intermingled to give best advantage. A very strong cavalry force (largely from Darien) deployed to the right of the Granprixians, opposite the enemy cavalry. A mighty combined battery dominated the centre, and both close order and light infantry faced the hills and woods ready to advance and throw the enemy from them.

In short, the battle for the village was one of tough fighting and attrition, decided only when the enemy army retreated. Some local guerilleros also swept in by boat behind the Gateway line, intent on causing mischief and
confusion. Meanwhile the grand battery pulverised the enemy positions, and some of their cavalry, forcing the Altefritzenbergers to make the decision between being destroyed in place or advancing to their doom. They bravely chose the latter and, by coming to grips with our infantry down the slopes, actually protected themselves from much of the artillery’s fire. The skirmishes among the woods and ponds were prolonged, but a strong column of Medetian battalions, led by the Bravence Regiment, was pushing forward inexorably on the extreme right flank and when the enemy facing them finally broke, the end was in sight.

News of our large flanking movement to the north made by the rest of our
cavalry (some 130 figures) also hastened the enemy’s decision to give up the fight and save themselves for another day.

The true glory, however, was won on the plain where massed cavalry fought out a tremendous battle of charge and counter-charge. Splendid and in significant numbers though they were, the Gateway regiments, supported by those of Altefritzenberg, were no match for the seemingly endless hordes from Darien. Light cavalry soaked up the charge of the first Gateway wave, and the Darien Cuirassiers’ counter-attack was devastating. Three regiments fell to them in one turn, and in the confusion the legendary General E Pickled was cut down and ridden over while his cavalry fled. Rumours of his death were exaggerated and he has since retired to his estates. His cavalry Brigadier was captured in the same melee.

Although further Gateway battalions and batteries deployed to cover their cavalry’s rout, they could only serve as a rearguard while the rest of their battered army left the field to our victorious troops. Casualties had been mercifully light, and we needed only a day to re-group and resume our
march west to liberate Pescadrix.

Second Battle

After a day’s rest a short march took us to within sight of the ramparts of Pescadrix, our final objective. The army pivoted on its left flank, which hugged the coast, and swung around to the north of the city, penning the enemy back against it. Our naval scouts informed us that our Borschtian and Wheyeydian allies had fought an indecisive battle to the west two days before and had re-embarked on their ships to land again between the
enemy and the city. General Barolo sent them a message urging them to send a force to approach the city from the west and capture the main bridge over the river.

The enemy again entrenched and made use of what buildings they could in their defences. The Gateway forces deployed in front of the city while to their right were the Altefritzenbergers behind what earthworks they had prepared in time. The enemy right flank hinged on the customs house, which they’d fortified, and bent back to end literally in the surf. A buzz went through our army when it was revealed that the dastardly King Raoul himself was commanding the Grenouissian troops on that flank.

Fittingly, it was the army of Darien, whose priests had recently ex-communicated the King for his un-Christian ways (and, perhaps, for not granting Darien some Granprixian land in exchange for turning a blind eye) who opposed the Grenouissians. Once again massed cavalry would thunder across the plains.

In the centre, to Darien’s right, were the Prunklanders, ready to descend from the hills and capture the customs house in conjunction with their Darien allies. The right flank of our army was held by the forces of Medetia, with infantry and cavalry (including some regiments borrowed from the rest of the army) facing off against their counter-parts from the Gateway Alliance. The forces of Granprix itself had marched on a wider arc to the north and were due to come down the main road later in support of the Medetians.

Our battle plan was to pin the enemy in front of the city while rolling him up from his right flank, along the coast. Again, despite suffering setbacks and significant casualties, this plan was successfully executed, culminating in the capture of the despised King by Darien’s cavalry as his right flank collapsed.

Again a grand battery from Prunkland and Medetia covered the centre, smashing enemy units at will once it had won the fierce counter-battery duel with which the battle commenced. While the Darien troops swept across the plain, driving back the Grensouisse cavalry and assaulting the customs house, Prunkland supported them and held the centre. The Medetians engaged their Gateway foes and, while the light infantry fought each other to a standstill, the cavalry (led by Prunkland’s finest Cuirassiers) repeated the trouncing of the Gateway mounted arm that they suffered in the first battle. Three fine units were routed and a beautiful standard was captured. With things looking bleak for Gateway, their artillery, supported by the numerous heavy guns on the walls behind them, prevented a general collapse and took a heavy toll on our forces. The Medetian Weissach Grenz, El Z’Teeth Lancers and Rutowski Dragoons were each destroyed trying to come to grips with the Gateway batteries, sacrificing themselves to save the rest of the army from the murderous close range fire.

A cavalry thrust from the Wheyeydians on the other side of the river almost made it to the bridge, but a sudden sighting of Hunmanby’s landing on their southern flank drew them off before they could imperil the Gateway left flank and threaten the city. In their place came Granprixian fanatics and more guerilleros, braving artillery fire from the walls as they swept downstream in their boats. Despite losses they captured the bridge and landed beneath the walls themselves, opening fire on enemy troops there.

Final charges and last stands on all parts of the western battlefield saw dramatic and heroic actions on both sides, but when news of the King’s capture spread the heart went out of the enemy and the fighting began to
die down. Gateway and Medetia commanders signalled a tacit ceasefire and the brave defenders began to withdraw into the city, where their fate would no doubt be decided by diplomats eager to extract what advantages they could in the peace negotiations.

The word is that Raoul might be ransomed, but what was not in doubt was that Granprix, and in particular its finest jewel Pescadrix, would be returned to Duke Zigor. The army was victorious and, despite the sadness of its losses, the celebrations would reverberate for days!
So ends the account by General Barolo of the liberation of Granprix, this year of Our Lord, 1748.

Gaming Weekend Day 2 – A Granprixian Skirmish

Once we had breakfasted and returned to the land of the living, we set off in convoy (herding Iain between 2 cars to ensure he found the place) for Simon’s house near Lincoln. We were greeted by very nicely pre-prepared terrain, including excellent new home-made rivers, on Simon’s extended 8’x6′ table.

A very interesting (and entertaining, as it turned out) scenario had been prepared for us. We were to play out some post-Ayton 2014 action, with Gateway (Iain) and Altfritzenberg (Andy) forces making for their transport ships along the Granprixian coast following their defeat at the big battle outside the capital Pescadrix. My Medetians were trying to cut them off, while a small number of Simon’s Prunklanders were already in place as a (sleepy) garrison on the island in the river that the fugitives needed to cross.

We all got to bring our own figures to use, and it was good to see the various imagi-nations contingents together again. The 4 of us had fought opposite each other in 2 battles at Ayton with the big version of these forces so it was an opportunity for a re-match, and there was plenty to enjoy!

The table before the mayhem ensued:

 

There were lots of surprises in the scenario, and as usual the Sharp Practice rules threw up plenty of entertainment. Although new to the rules, Andy and Iain got on with them very well. We played a lot of turns, had a lot of laughs and banter, and got a result before it was time to go home.

I won’t try to narrate the battle and all of its twists and turns, but I’ve captioned the pictures I managed to take. Hopefully they do the game justice, because it was great to play in as well as being a visual treat..

Deploying off a blind, Iain’s Gateway dragoons made it to the bridge quickly. They just missed catching the sentry but had time to dismount and push the unattended cannon into the river. This was to be their high point in the game, and after this most of their actions should have been accompanied by circus clown music!

Alerted by the sentry just in time, the Prunkland Grenzers dashed out of the main house on the island, to take up a defensive position in the adjacent garden:

Troops were arriving on both sides of the river, racing in parallel towards the bridges. The Medetian Jager led the way, buying time for the rocket battery to set up on a handy hilltop with a very good view of everything:

Andy’s Altfritzenbergers decided to get across the river early, which involved coming at the Medetians head-on. Some very accurate (ie. lucky) fire made this a real challenge, however:

Up ahead, the bulk of my Medetians had made fast progress and were able to take the dastardly natives and corsairs (who had infiltrated deep onto the table from the start) by surprise:

Andy’s natives charged over the bridge but were seen off by the tough Grenzers. Their officer was badly wounded in the melee but his popularity meant that he was rescued and helped to safety:

As always, the first rocket wasn’t a great shot, landing behind the battery(!). The safest place to be is generally the target zone, as everybody knows:

After a volley or two it’s always best to follow up with the bayonet, and these Medetians did just that, dealing decisively with the corsairs and seeing them routed off the table:

Iain’s Gateway mob stormed over the bridge, or at least they would have if in front of them his dragoons hadn’t decided to dismount, mount, not move, and dismount again in successive turns. Answers on a postcard if anyone has a clue as to what was going on:

Hey, the rockets were getting more accurate. I’d like to reassure people that no enemy were killed by a rocket during the making of this game (sadly, one Medetian was however), although they did cause a fair bit of panic a couple of times when they zigzagged through a unit!

Late on my elite grenadiers finally arrived by boat and soon attracted enemy fire from a variety of sources, as well as a pretty determined cavalry charge by Andy’s lancers. Tough as nails, the grenadiers saw them off though:

The latest attempt to chase off the Grenzers saw a repeat of the charge of the natives – Iain’s commander was laid low and his men routed. Unfortunately, this chap was less than popular with his men and they were careful to leave him behind when they fled! The Prunklanders reloaded and left him groaning on the other side of the fence, where they could keep an eye on him:

More surprises arrived; locals with an agenda of their own – but who would they side with?

The Gateway traffic jam finally clears the bridge, allowing my grenadiers to pick off sufficient of Iain’s artillery crew to send the remainder packing. At least Prunkland might get a replacement gun at the end of the game! This was the beginning of the end, and the survivors would have to find another route if they were to reach the safety of their ships.

After having a very torrid time (a rocket came awfully close!), Lt Lamm scampered out of harm’s way and rejoined his men just in time to be captured at the end of the battle. At least he wasn’t shot in the back as he legged it into the woods having crossed the river alone (actually he had company for most of the journey but when he reached the far bank and looked behind him, he realised that another close call from a rocket had been the final straw for some of the Savage Swans and he was suddenly Billy von No Mates with a nasty looking bunch of Medetians coming for him!)

A well-oiled machine by the end of the game. Oh yes.

What a great game. Thanks to Simon for all the prep and hosting, and Andy and Iain for providing such good fodder, er, I mean company.

Roll on the next gaming weekend!

Gaming Weekend Day 1: The Battle of Hoffen 1870

Last weekend I was privileged to take part in, and share the hosting duties for, a 4 player gaming extravaganza that more than lived up to expectations. I was offering massed 6mm on day 1 and Simon provided a large 28mm skirmish game on the 2nd day. Our guests Iain and Andy came from opposite ends of the country to do battle, socialise and exchange banter. We even squeezed in an excellent night out between games.

On Saturday morning everyone picked up a baton and took command of a corps in a Franco-Prussian War battle between 50,000 French and 60,000 Germans. I (as General Douay of VII Corps) assisted Iain (Marshal MacMahon, I Corps) in attempting to hold the important (but slightly fictitious) town of Hoffen, near the border on day 2 of the German invasion. Fighting alongside each other, but with neither in overall command, Simon took the role of Prussian General Kirchbach of V Korps
and Andy was General Von der Tann with the Bavarian I Korps.

The French had a division from each corps already on the table. They had arrived the day before and camped, digging in a little, overnight. The Prussians and Bavarians were marching onto the field from the north, unsure of each other’s position or that of the enemy. Everyone had a number of arrival points for their marching columns and reinforcements. These were pre-determined by the players for new arrivals before each turn and led to some interesting dispositions and confrontations.

The table before the battle:

 

 



Unfortunately my usual camera was away from home, so these pictures were taken on my phone. Hopefully they at least convey the gist of how things looked.

In typical wargamer style, not everyone had read the briefing or the introduction to the rules (To the Last Gaiter Button by Realtime Wargames). I set the scene to the uninitiated, and provided lots of coffee to help.. Nevertheless, before too long hordes of horse, foot and guns were trampling over the previously tranquil Alsace countryside and some serious fighting erupted across several miles of front.

I threw my French forward to stop Andy’s Bavarian horde from enveloping Hoffen from the east, and managed to put a dent in his advance, tying up his forward troops and drawing in reserves. Iain and Simon competed to build up the stronger force to the west of the town, using newly arriving formations wherever they could to keep the initiative.

Early moves:

 

The battle in full flow:

 

The escalating fight to the west of Hoffen, between the French and Prussians:

 

My beleaguered French in the village of Seigen which they used as a bastion against the Bavarians (I borrowed these beautifully scratchbuilt buildings, and some of the trees, from a very generous friend):

French cavalry launch a desperate charge, which took the fight out of the Bavarians in the same turn that the Prussians to the west reached a similar state of exhaustion:

It was a close thing though, and a few more turns might have allowed the Germans to capture the town. It wasn’t to be, however, and in the end they had to fall back to await assistance from the rest of 3rd Army before trying again.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the game and got to grips with the rules (which are very different to the norm) pretty quickly. The Germans never really got their artillery superiority into play fully, which was probably down to my hasty pre-game rules briefing which seems to have led to the commanders deploying their guns a little early! Oh well, it was only day 2 of the war and they’d have to learn as they went back in the day too!

The Chassepot did its bit, the Mitrailleuses were unpredictable and quickly targeted, and the Zouaves seemed to fight ferociously when cornered. With the cavalry being used as expendable shock troops (as they sometimes were in the war) the game provided a decent flavour of the period, and especially the command and control challenges experienced by the generals.

For another perspective, a very good write up and lots more pictures visit Andy’s site:¬†Belisarius.org

It was a great day, and we topped it off with a night out in Newark, enjoying beer, curry and some strong spirits to finish. The full English breakfast in the hotel was very welcome in the morning, and got us going ready to tackle whatever Simon had in store for us on the Sunday – part 2 to follow..

A Weekend in Framlingham

This weekend saw a get together of a group of wargamers from up and down the length of England (unfortunately our Scottish contingent couldn’t make it). We congregated on Friday evening in the Suffolk town of Framlingham, where our local host Tim had made the arrangement for us to have an excellent couple of days of gaming, socialising and recovering from hangovers.

It was a fair old way to go, especially for those coming from the North East, but everyone agreed it was more than worth it. Great company and top-notch games throughout, and lots of laughter and banter to go with it.

We used the very nice function room at The Crown, a lovely hotel/inn where some of us were staying, which gave us plenty of room and facilities to spread out in. Despite this pic, the lighting was a bit dim when the sun wasn’t shining (ie. most of Saturday) so I didn’t get many decent photos on my phone.

Several people had offered to put on games (there were several rounds of voting(!) over a year ago), providing the figures, rules and scenery for others to play. These included Peeler’s Leipzig DBN taster (for Simon, who seemed to enjoy it immensely), Essex Boy and GaryP’s 20mm Marlburian game (which Andy and I joined), and the main event – Tim’s awesome ACW collection in a full-on 2 day clash which started on Saturday and which we all joined on Sunday.

The WSS game was great fun, and it was a pleasure to play with Iain and Gary’s superb collections. The rules used were Rank and File from Crusader, and they gave a quick realistic game with simple, easy to learn, mechanisms. We played at least 12 full turns which says a lot for how easy the rules are to pick up. Everyone agreed that it looked and fought out as they imagined a Malburian battle would, and we had some very exciting moments as both sides had triumphs and reverses.

As allied commander I had the dubious benefit of Iain’s dice rolling assistance (he was also the scenario designer and umpire) but fortunately the English, Dutch and Danes fought tenaciously among the hedgerows and successfully held the right and centre against the French infantry. It didn’t go so well on the left, however, where the cavalry fought it out in the open fields. Here the enemy gradually got the better of the allied squadrons, helped by an infantry brigade which came up and held the farm in the middle of the melee. Their volleys emptied a good few saddles and by the end (which was deemed to be dusk) our flank had collapsed.

We all surveyed the battlefield and agreed it to be a strategic success for the French, as the allies would eventually have to retreat down the only road they remained in control of, but a tactical draw, as 2/3 of the table remained in allied hands as night fell. A really enjoyable game all-round, with friendly and generous opponents in Andy and Gary, and lots of thanks to Iain for the effort he put into planning and running the game.

Then it was off to the bar for a well-earned beverage or two and the usual debate about basing, followed by an excellent curry in a nearby restaurant and more beers in Tim’s local.

On Sunday we all re-assembled (some more slowly than others..) for the now-expanded ACW game. Tim, Phil, Dave and Tim W had fought the opening moves of this encounter battle (Coinville I think) on day 1 and developed the battlelines that the rest of us joined for day 2. I was on the Union side (which I think I’ve been on every time I’ve played this period, but which is fine by me) and I was involved in trying to defend the centre and right against an outflanking Reb attack, while waiting for our reserve division to arrive.

There was lots of artillery fire initially, and then the infantry got to grips and casualties mounted. The whole time JEB Stuart was dashing round our right flank and things were a bit nervous as we waited for the outcome of the Union CinC’s rolls to see where the reserve would appear. Naturally Iain’s dice ensured it would be at the other end of the table, and that sounded the death knell for the North! Unfortunately I had to leave before the final turns were played, but it was a delight to see these armies on the table again and to be involved in such a great looking game.

Some of my division, all gorgeous figures from Tim Hall’s collection:

All in all, everything went even better than expected and we’re looking forward to the next opportunity to get together again for another one. Big thanks go to Tim for all the planning/arranging, and to everyone for their excellent company!

Ayton 2014

Ayton 2014 – What a way to fight a war!

What can I say? Once you’ve spent 12 months anticipating an Ayton wargaming weekend; planning, collecting and painting your forces, and looking forward to meeting up with good friends again, expectations are pretty high. Fortunately this year’s event, as with all the previous ones, hugely exceeded those expectations.

Although I’d promised myself there wouldn’t be a frantic rush at the end this year I was still finishing off the last of my new hussar unit, St Angelo’s Ghosts, on the Friday morning – just as I knew deep down I would be. Those Perry plastic French hussars do take some painting..!¬†Fortunately I’d packed all the rest of the army a day or so before, so once the paint on the bases was dry I was ready to set off.

My journeys there and back were very easy, considering¬†the first one¬†was on a¬†Friday afternoon before a bank holiday. I stayed at the Lodge which was very comfortable, and for some reason I had a suite including a full kitchen and four poster bed. Not bad for the standard room rate! Most people gathered at the hall from about 5pm onwards, which allowed time for the tables and scenery to be set up for the 2 opening battles that would be fought on the Saturday. It was also¬†a great opportunity to say hi to everyone again, catch up generally and of course admire each other’s newly painted figures. To say there were some stunning units present would be an understatement –¬†the photos of the event will do them better justice.

Everyone took pictures during the weekend and many have been posted on the LAW forum. They’re well worth a look. Mine are here for day 1¬†and here for day 2
Henry’s YouTube videos are excellent too, giving an overview of the final battle and capturing the atmosphere very well.

Here are a couple of tasters from the final battle just to add some colour to this post:

 

In brief then, our team of Simon, Paul, Ken and Dave M (and Peter on day 1 as the Duke)¬†were invading Granprix to recover it for Duke Zigor. We even had a plan, worked up over the preceeding weeks¬†under Henry’s umpireship. Opposing us were Mark, Iain, Richie, Mike, Andy (and Peter on day 2 as the King of Grenouisse). Due to the way the campaign progressed, we pretty much achieved our aim of approaching the capital, Pescadrix, from east and west simultaneously and this resulted in the 2 battles on day 1. There were also naval actions taking place off the coast and these has some impact on the success and timing of our amphibious landings. A final show-down between the 2 main fleets is to be played out by Henry who will hopefully let us know how things panned out. Hopefully we will be victorious!

On day 1 we clearly outnumbered our enemies in the east (things appeared more even in the west) but that didn’t prevent Iain and Andy fighting a tough defensive battle for the coastal village, inland hills and the plain between them. We prevailed however and pushed them back on the capital, following up for the big denouement before the city walls on day 2 (actually set 2 days later after some R&R and a brief march). Here, after a much harder battle, we were again victorious and¬†captured the King¬†to¬†round off the¬†liberation of Granprix¬†in glorious style. I’ve written up an¬†account of the campaign from the Medetian perspective for Henry and am happy to see what use he makes of it before posting anything in more detail here.

Despite winning the war however, the true highlight of the event was the social side with its cameraderie, fun and wargaming in the best possible spirit. Everyone was clearly there to ensure that their opponents got as much enjoyment from the games as they did themselves. I played against Andy and Iain on the 2 days and more pleasant, good natured, company you could not hope for. My allies, Paul and Simon, were equally enthusiastic and fun to play alongside.

There were also a few other games staged by members of the group who wanted to attend, but had plans of their own that they’d been working towards. Tim and Tim have got seriously into the world of proper toy soliders (54mm etc) and put on a couple of stunning games over the 2 days. Albions vs Europans in the age of empire was superb, as was Aussies vs Japanese in the Pacific. The scenery on both ocassions was excellent, fittingly so for the sumptious armies on display. Bob and Heather played a couple of good looking¬†VBCW games too, with the usual interesting forces being deployed (it appeared to be police vs ladies). They were clearly enjoying themselves and everyone was welcome for a natter.

Of course no Ayton weekend would be complete without copious food (courtesy of the Dennison Arms) and copious beer (the social club next door to the hall this time), which was all consumed against the backdrop of very enjoyable wargaming¬†conversation. Naturally next year’s game was a hot topic and I’m pleased to say that we’re returning to the 19th century for this one, and in rather hotter climes..

Thanks again to everyone for attending and putting in the effort and creativity, in particular Peeler for organising things again, and Henry for his fantastic umpiring and background work. All in all a superb weekend with a great bunch of guys. Roll on 2015!