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!

Ayton Event 2014 – Grenouisse Ascendant

Now that we’re into April, the preparations are gathering pace for the multi-player 18th century game at Ayton at the start of May. There are 3 and a bit weeks to go, and painting still to be completed (and not just by me – I’m sure most of the other participants are feeling the pressure too). A little bit of time most evenings seems to be moving things on fairly well, but no doubt the final push will be just as frantic as last year!

Over the last week the momentum, and excitement, has started to build. Although local arrangements are mostly in the hands of Peeler (as he’s widely known), the game and background are the work of Henry Hyde, who is currently working feverishly at the multitude of tasks and communications a full-on unpire needs to look after. The volume of messages and intelligence reports that 12 players can generate is clearly enormous, but Henry is handling it with style and creativity, and there’s always a period flavour to what you receive back, and a sense that we’re involved in great events and embarked on a course that will re-shape history. Some of the general information/news items are being reported by Henry himself at Henry’s Blog but naturally most exchanges are private and bilateral with the unpire, unless players’ characters are understood to be face to face with each other in which case we can contact each other directly.

At the moment the 2 sides, one nobly seeking to recover the Duchy of Granprix which was lost to the dastardly invaders from Grenouisse in the 2011 game, the other seeking to hold onto these ill-gotten gains (you can guess which side I might be on!) are beginning to assemble and manouevre. Plans are being made, well sort of (due to the challenges of differing opinions and troubled communications), and there will be some pre-weekend campaign moves by land and sea which will hopefully set everything up nicely for some dramatic on-table action as the culmination of the story.

Orders of battle are of course secret too, and that’s where the painting pressure really comes in. No-one will want to take the field with fewer troops than they’ve previously committed to, as the only one to suffer will be themselves. I will of course post pictures of my recent additions soon, but have to be careful not to give too much away to any enemies that may be watching..

The Battle of Wingen, 6th August 1870

I played my first game of the year today, spending a very enjoyable day with Goat Major, as he’s known on a few forums. GM requested 6mm Franco-Prussian War and I was happy to oblige.

I decided on a hypothetical early war setting, on the same day as the Battle of Worth, involving the French V Corps and the advancing Prussian 3rd Corps. As we would be determining sides randomly I wrote briefings for each and drew up a battlefield map based on a selection of terrain boards for a 4×3 foot table, with appropriate towns, woods and other scenery to represent terrain typical of north eastern France.

Initial terrain plan, using small card tile versions of my terrain boards to define the basic setup

Towns and woods added, and placed within a larger map for pre-game manoeuvring using brigade-level counters and the odd dummy for fog of war, and to help replicate the poor scouting that beset both armies in this conflict.

. which translated into this scene of pre-carnage tranquility

 

The Goat drew the French of General Failly, so I was General Alvensleben. The French 1st division was already in position on high ground covering the key town of Wingen, which was both side’s objective. All other units were marching towards the scene, demonstrating a combination of brilliant generalship (probably), deployment blunder (me mainly) and a mutual firm determination to get stuck in.

Suffice it to say we had a lot of fun once the blinds were replaced by the real formations (with a few surprises on both sides, especially when the respective cavalry brigades were revealed – and used fairly aggressively in the true spirit of wargaming!) The fighting was fierce and the battle raged across the entire field, with both commanders toughing it out and pulling reserves in where they could to try to gain the initiative. The fighting for the town of Wingen was particularly bloody, with the French tenaciously holding on in the face of repeated Prussian assaults.

As the day wore on though, the devastating firepower of the Chassepot was put to better use by the French than the superior Krupp guns were by the Prussians, and the latter began to struggle to keep their attack going. As the sun set (ie. when the game clock ran down) the Prussians were finally forced to admit defeat and withdraw from the field, giving up their toehold in Wingen and leaving the field to the victorious French – well done GM!

The rules were from the Realtime Wargames series, the figures Heroics & Ros and the terrain and scenery a right old mix of bought and scratch built.

Although I didn’t take as many as I wanted to, here are some pictures of the battle:

The Prussians mass for the charge up the road to Wingen (in the distance, top right). The Prussian blind following them turned out to be the reserve cavalry, which launched a number of charges in an attempt to create havoc in the French lines. Some even succeeded!

For example..

Wingen under sustained assault

A remote corner of the field, demonstrating that bad things happen to isolated units

Prussian battalions grit their teeth and march towards the enemy held treeline on the western flank

Prussian cavalry sacrifice themselves to drive the French batteries off a hill overlooking the town, but in the end it’s to no avail and the day is lost

So, a very enjoyable game in good company as always, and with plenty of dramatic moments. The rules were straight forward and left the players to focus on fighting the battle, which I think is always a good thing. It was great to bring these armies out for a game, and it reminded me that I need to make a start on my 1859 Austrians at some point!

The Defence of Noelev and St Nikolas – Part 2

The Battle Report

Playing a solo game to a scenario you’ve written yourself means that you have a good idea of what’s going to happen, but you usually still get plenty of surprises! First off, the random terrain rolls generated a nice handy forest avenue in the middle of the table for some of the beastmen to slip through without being targeted by defensive fire. The Kislevites were deployed in some depth in the centre, in and behind the church and village, as this was the key to the battle. However, their limited numbers meant that there were fewer units to guard the wide flanks, and these would no doubt prove vulnerable – depending of course on how and where the enemy attacked, and where and when the Empire allies arrived.

The beastmen went for brute power, with their toughest, nastiest guys (including minotaurs and a giant) in the middle. With chariots, centigaurs, warhounds and ungor skirmishers they also had the advantage in fast troops and would be able to move forward swiftly on the flanks, causing the defenders concern there too.

 

So, without further ado the game started and the forces of chaos pounded forward through the snow as fast as their hooves (and command rolls) would carry them. There was little maneouvring apart from the light units on the flanks, which the Kislev horse archers and skirmishers sought to counter, and within 2 turns the defenders were beginning to open up with their handguns at the approaching horde. Casualties at long range were light, however, and it was clear that hand to hand fighting was going to decide the day. That said, help was suddenly at hand with the arrival of the hoped-for Empire allies (a lucky roll!). Doughty swordsmen and fanatical flagellants came on behind Noelev and St Nikolas as additional reserves, while to their left a glittering unit of Reiksguard knights cantered forward to plug a gap and take on the enemy’s boar chariots.

Led by a hero of renown the knights charged to victory over the chariots (typical, as the latter are of course a favourite scratchbuilt unit!) and helped to drive back the enemy on this flank. The allied units became scattered though, and their generals were never to have enough command points to make this early advantage count later on in the battle. On the other flank things were going most definitely in the beastmen’s favour, and before long they were beginning to roll-up the Kossars who stood increasingly exposed as the enemy swept in. In the centre the battle was fierce, with casualties high on both sides. The defiant priests, and even the Ice Queen herself, led the Kislev forces in a desperate defence of the church. Helped just in time by the Empire swordsmen they saw off several units of beasts and minotaurs and killed 2 of their chiefs, but the chaos giant was causing mayhem and slaughter, aided by the wizardry of a sinister bray shaman.

Eventually, though the giant was finally brought crashing down on the very steps of the chuch, the onslaught was too much and the overwhelmed survivors were forced to retreat (the Kislev army had suffered the requisite damage score for the beastmen to win), resiging the village of Noelev and its church of St Nikolas to utter destruction, and leaving in the bloody snow the last of the guardian priests who had sold their lives dearly for their beloved holy ground.

All in all, a good fun game and well worth the effort of writing up the scenario and digging out the terrain and figures. I’m sure there’ll be an opportunity for the Ice Queen’s revenge at some point…!

The Defence of Noelev and St Nikolas

With a little bit of the festive season, and more importantly some holiday, still left I decided it was a good opportunity for a small solo game – so yesterday out came the winter terrain boards and fir trees. Although there’s been no white Christmas here what better to fight than a battle in the northern snows of Warhammer’s Old World? Now, I don’t play Warhammer, or fantasy in 28mm at all for that matter, but I do like the GW background, setting and armies and have applied it to my 15mm collection, fighting under home-grown rules written by my friend Jase. By following this path I have, like a typical wargamer, made things difficult for myself, with lots of hunting for appopriate figures, converting and compromising, but it’s been fun along the way!

I’ll post more about these armies before long but for now, it’s off to a remote, frozen location in the border wilderness of Kislev where the forces of chaos have once again come south for blood and destruction…

The Scene

Barked orders echo among the trees as the panting, heavily
encumbered men hurry through the snow. Their exertions produce plumes of steaming
air, all thoughts of the day’s freezing cold forgotten while the soldiers’
urgent march continues. Then, with little warning, the dimness of the forest
gloom is lifted as the trees thin and the blue coated columns stumble into the
relative light of the iron grey sky, now open above them.

Ahead is a pale expanse, dotted with tall copses, stretching
off towards the dark forest wall to the north. With no time to take their
breath the men are led on, over white, rough stubbled, fields towards the
woodsmoke and church dome ahead, beyond which they are ordered into position
and hustled back into formation. Now their training takes over; packs are
loosened, heavy handguns gratefully grounded and oilskin covers removed from long
axe blades. The men, seasoned in war, know without looking that the rumble they
feel through their boots is caused by their light horse auxiliaries sweeping
past into position on their flanks, just as they know now to turn their
attention to the far tree line as the air, and the birds, become still. Eyes
narrow and blood quickens, but there is no shiver of fear through the ranks. Their
calm and strength return as the familiar words are spoken by officers and
priests, the chanted cadence pervades all and the men reply with their hard-edged
roar as they renew their bonds of duty and honour. They expect no one to come
to their aid but have followed their warrior Queen here and now stand as
comrades, shoulder to shoulder, defending sacred ground.

The silence ends when the horns begin to bray and flickers of
movement creep amongst the dark trees, but the men, blowing on their matches
and saluting their brothers in arms with flasks of hard spirit, stand ready.

The Game

An army of Beastmen has stuck from deep within the forests
to the north, overrunning the lightly-manned watch posts, though not before a
lone messenger escaped to bring news of the threat. The hastily-assembled local
militia were no match for the horde of ferocious creatures that swept bloodily
through the first villages and within two days the chaos horde was closing in
on its true prey – the inhabitants of the village of Noëlev and their priestly
guardians in the church of St Nikolas. However, as the cold, grim day moves
past noon the tramp of marching feet announces the arrival of units of the
field army under the command of the Ice Queen herself. Unfortunately for the
Kislevites, their winged hussars were elsewhere when the urgent news came, so
the army comprises Kossar infantry and Ungol light horsemen only. Before marching, the
Queen despatched a request for aid to a nearby contingent of Empire troops that
had been assisting Kislev in its winter patrols. It is hoped that the courier
found these comrades in arms, but even if he did there is no certainty that
they would arrive in time..

The Table

Played on a 4’ x 3’ table. The village of Noëlev and its holy
church of St Nikolas are in the middle of the Kislev deployment area, 3 squares
in from the southern base edge. Additionally, 1dAv of further ‘bad going’ 4” squares
are placed randomly on the table, containing forest. Remaining trees to be placed aling the northern board edge as background scenery.

Beastmen
Beastmen
Beastmen
Beastmen
 
 
 
 
Kislev
 
 
 
Noëlev &
St Nikolas
Kislev
 
 
 
Kislev
 
 
 

Objectives

The Beastmen must capture the church to destroy the holy
order that resides there and bring their darkness to this remote part of
Kislev. The defenders must prevent this from happening.

The Armies

100 points per side

The Beastmen army is a standard army which can deploy up to game
2 squares onto the table from their base edge. The defenders are split into 2
parts; 2 ‘forces’ worth from Kislev, which begin deployed on the table up to
their deployment line, 3 squares in. The 3rd force consists of
Empire troops hurrying to support them. They will arrive in the turn that the
Kislev player scores a total of 6 when adding the score on a d6 to the turn
number. This roll is made at the same time as his CP rolls. The Empire units
all come on either to the east or west of Noëlev, as the defending player
chooses.

Special Rules

The Guardians of St Mikail

The church of St Mikail is home to an order of warrior
priests who will stand with their Kislev and Empire comrades in defence of
their holy shrine. A warrior priest will automatically join any defending unit
occupying the church and fight with them using the normal rules, with the
exception that they have a free power point per turn which can only be used to
boost the morale of the unit within the church’s 2 squares, although it can still
be used offensively against a Beastmen unit in an adjacent square. The warrior
priest cannot leave the church squares, and if killed is automatically replaced
the following turn by another member of his order. Should the Beastmen capture
the church and win the battle (see below) it is assumed that all of the priests
have been killed.

Game Length

The game continues until one side or the other is
victorious, see below.

Victory Conditions

The Beastmen win if they capture both the squares containing
the church (ie. there is no defending unit contesting it). They will be
considered to have achieved this is they defeat the defenders according to the
standard rules for victory, as the defeated army would retreat. However, to
reflect the religious and patriotic nature of the defence of the church, the
defenders’ Army Morale breakpoint is 16 points rather than the standard 14. If
the Beastmen fail to win (ie. are defeated through reaching their own Army
Morale breakpoint), the defenders are victorious.

The stoic defenders await the chaos onslaught

The beastmen emerge from the dark forest

The armies drawn up, but will the Empire allies arrive in time to help?

The Ice Queen herself, ready to lead her men in the defence of this holy place

Next time, the action!