Friday, June 23, 2017

Battle of Kolin, 260th Anniversary Edition - Prep

View behind Prussian right flank
The 260th Anniversary of the 18JUN1757 Battle of Kolin will be refought on Saturday, 24JUN2017.
Croats Garrison Krechor
The anniversary provides motivation to pull the 18mm SYW collection from its storage lockers and put it in action, once again, on the fields of Kolin.
Kolin Initial Deployments
Prussia in the fore, Austria on the heights
The game will be fought under the Honours of War rules.  With four participants, this should be an entertaining day on the field of battle.
Below is an Order of Battle for Saturday's contest.
Kolin OOB
To make the game manageable in an afternoon, the forces have been scaled down or bathtubbed a bit.  Each foot unit on the table represents about four battalions and each cavalry unit represents about a dozen squadrons.  Even with that, the game is rather large and deployments consume six feet of table space. 
The long, thin Austrian line
This is only the second or third time HoW has seen action on the table.  For two of the players, this will be their Baptism of Fire with the rules.  Now, to read the rules before the morrow.

Freddie will be on the attack to wrest control of the heights from Daun.
Can Frederick reverse history?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Assyrian Archers II

A second stand of Assyrian heavy archers moves off the painting desk.  Like all figures in the early stages of this project, figures are from Wargames Foundry.
Based for Impetvs, these nine figures bring the total stands fielded for the project, thus far, to six infantry, four heavy chariot (two chariots each), and one chariot stand for the king.  These totals bring the project close to a BI2.0 force. 
On the painting desk can be found two, four figure stands of Assyrian mounted archers.  After those are fielded, painting attention may turn towards a stand or two of auxiliary infantry.     
Other projects are witnessing work at the workbench but painting productivity has seemingly slowed to a trickle as other projects wrestle for my time.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Assyrian Archers I

Returning to lighter matters, activity at the painting desk once again picks up.  
Today, a nine figure unit of Assyrian heavy archers debouches from the confines of the painting desk.  These nine figures comprise a 'T' missile stand in Impetvs.
Figures are Wargames Foundry from the excellent Bronze Age range.  I may sound like a broken record but these figures and the whole range of Assyrians are excellent in every way.    
A second, similar stand will be moving from the workbench soon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Wargamer's Demise

Hand-me downs
You're gone but your collection lives on.  Once this realization sinks in, what is a fella to do?

A number of recent events have hit me in rapid succession.  With this barrage of reality checks, my usual thoughts on wargaming turn towards reflection and introspection rather than project planning, painting, reading on military history, and gaming.  Is it a coincidence that four independent events converged within a matter of a few days?  Is someone, somewhere trying to tell me something?  Is this a conspiracy against my wargaming psyche?  So many unanswered questions.

All of the four incidents considered seem to relate to the life cycle of a hobby.  Not just any hobby; no, my wargaming hobby.  As with most activities or processes, a definite life cycle is in action.  Three of the incidents in the following discussion will bring me to the fourth and most puzzling of the incidents.  

The first incident was marked by the recent passing of a wargaming acquaintance.  D. was not the first wargame acquaintance to pass over to the other side.  He certainly will not be the last.  Left to the survivors was the task of liquidating his wargame collection.  As for many of us, his widow did not know what to do with his lifetime passion of collecting wargaming detritus.  "Detritus," that is, to those unfamiliar or uninterested in the hobby.  To those in the know, estates sales can be a gold mine as well as a time for mourning.

The task of liquidating D's main gaming project, a large 15mm Napoleonic Peninsular War collection, fell upon another gaming friend.  From memory, the collection consisted of at least 1,000 15mm old Heritage Napoleonics; all nicely painted.  The figures were all based similarly but no one knew the rules D. used to game.  I wish I would have snapped a photo or two of the collection before it marched off to a new owner.  Had I not already possessed a Napoleonic Peninsular War project in 15mm, this collection would have been given much consideration.  After some consternation, the entire collection was sold to the great relief of the executor.  Not relegated to the waste bin of history for those fine soldiers!

Note to self:  Annotate for which rules a collection is based.

  
The second incident was a recent post by blogger Robbie on his The Independent Wargames Group blog.  A very fine blog to add to a Reading List if not already discovered.
The topic of Robbie's recent post (see: Durham Wargames  Show Makes One Depressed), was the sight of an estate sale at the show's Bring & Buy.  What concerned the author was the observation that a lifetime's amassing of a collection was consigned to an impersonal liquidation.  The feeling of melancholy which overcame the author is likely one felt by many given a similar reflective situation.  What will become of my lifelong wargaming passion once I am gone?  Will the recipient realize what a treasure and windfall has just been captured?  Will the hours and effort needed to field such a collection be fully appreciated?  Of course, beauty is in the eyes of a beholder and a sentimental connection to a collection usually does not pass on to a new owner.  In this state of mind, thoughts may focus on the purpose and pursuit of our hobby goals.  Is the effort worth the result?  How can this melancholy and remorse be overcome so that one may forge ahead with the joys of the hobby?  

As I shared with Robbie,
it is not the ultimate destination (we all know where that ends!) but the journey that is important. If the hobby provides enjoyment and friendship along this path, that counts even when all aspirations have not been reached and we are pulled away too soon.    
The third incident was a recent discussion thread on The Miniatures Page soliciting opinions on when to stop collecting (see: TMP: When to Stop Collecting).  The gist of the original post was determining the point at which one stops buying and fielding new armies and switches to solely enjoying the gaming aspect of the hobby.  Does that regime switch ever materialize?  For some, it must.  If it does come to pass, how does one identify and make the switch from buying/painting to gaming?  Is this a gradual transition or does one make the change "cold turkey?"  As expected, the responses vary but many seem to hold that buying new armies late in the life cycle (and life) is quite acceptable.

While I have entertained thoughts of downsizing the number of periods and figure sizes I collect, those thoughts do not survive contact with reality.  When I do reluctantly jettison one project, two or three step in to fill the gap, cheerfully.  For me, downsizing seems not possible.

Finally, the incident that really prompted this reflection is, to me, the most puzzling and difficult with which to come to grips.

Our one-time painting and gaming comrade moved away several years ago.  Since then, very little painting, modeling, or game reports have come out from his part of the world.  Through second-hand reports, he has thrown in the towel on the hobby and wiped the slate clean.  He indeed has gone "cold turkey" and discarded the hobby that he once enjoyed.  Oh, he did often remark that "this would be a great hobby if not for the people in it" but I always took that as a tongue in cheek statement.  A by-product of his decision to abandon the hobby is that Scott was the happy recipient of 73 pounds of lead.  Wow!  He really is wiping the slate clean with no plans to return to either miniatures, modeling, or gaming.  Seems a drastic step but everyone makes their choice.  

Lucky for me, Scott is a generous bloke and passed along a bit of this windfall to yours truly.  What benefit did I get out of A.'s lifestyle change-up?  As seen in the leading photo, a small stack of books (one of which was a book I gave to A. years ago), several packets of Battle Honors Austrian Napoleonics, a bag of Langton Anglo-Dutch Wars ships, and about two-dozen packs of TAG TYW figures.  I am quite grateful to receive such a handsome windfall.  No doubt they will see action on the painting desk one day. 

Whoops. I digress from topic by the joy of new lead!  

Could I change direction so abruptly and put an end to my nearly 50 year relationship with toy soldiers, gaming, and the study of military history?  I doubt it!  I have always been drawn to these activities long before I knew there was such a formal hobby.  This hobby, while certainly still a hobby, has become a part of what defines me.  I am a wargamer.  For now, I continue to plan projects, paint figures, study military history, and game.

Enough for the introspection.  Attention must now turn towards thoughts of how to employ the newly acquired TYW lead.  Should these be additions to the existing ECW project or will these figures become the seed to a new, TYW project?  I am not too old to begin a new project.  Back to project planning, painting, reading on military history, and gaming for me.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Assyrian Slingers in 25mm

After two large stands of sixteen Assyrian heavy infantry each (see: Heavy Infantry I, Heavy Infantry II), I lighten it up a bit to field two, four figure stands of Assyrian slingers.
As the heavy infantry before, these slingers are from Wargames Foundry's excellent range of 25mm Biblicals.  Sculpting is first-rate and still top of the line after many years in production.
Each stand maintains the tunic and kilt coloring to match each of the earlier heavy infantry units.  Once I move on to auxiliary troops, unit attire will likely see more variety and less "uniform" uniforms.  Next off the painting desk for this project is a stand or two of Assyrian archers.  I am also considering rebasing the King's chariot stand to increase the frontage to a regular-sized base and adding a few runners.  For now, all of the other chariots will maintain their half-base frontage.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Battle of Montebello, 1800 - BatRep

French close in on Casteggio
Following the long series on the 1859 Battle of Montebello, the earlier, 1800 battle was considered for one of the recent and semi-regular Friday Night at the Fights sessions.  With Friday evening 19 May free, Jake showed up to command Lannes and the French in this often overlooked lead-up to Marengo.  Lannes was rewarded by his actions at Montebello by being bestowed the title of 1st Duc de Montebello by the Great One, himself.
Montebello Battlefield
As a map refresher, the 1800 battlefield covers the rightmost two-thirds of the twelve foot game table while the 1859 battlefield covered the left two-thirds of the gaming table.  More details on the setup and scenario can be found at Battle of Montebello, 1800 Setup.  In general, both combatants (Austrians under Ott and French under Lannes) are attacking towards their supply base with the Austrians attacking east and the French attacking west.
O'Reilly's Advanced Guard at Rivalta
To begin the battle, O'Reilly deployed around the village of Rivalta astride the main road from Alessandria.  His Advanced Guard column garrisoned Rivalta to the east of Casteggio far in advance of supports.  With his supports back in Montebello, it may take time before help can arrive if attacked vigorously.
O'Reilly at Rivalta
O'Reilly would not wait long for the French plan to materialize.  Attack vigorously is what Lannes planned to do.  Watrin, leading his division, advanced upon O'Reilly in Rivalta, shook out into battle line and prepared to assault the village.
Watrin advancing on Rivalta
A closer look at French advancing battalions
Not waiting for Lannes and cavalry support, Watrin boldly marched towards the well-defended village, Rivalta.  Disregarding the Austrian cavalry threat, the first French battalions on line dismissed forming square in the face of such danger.  Seeing an opportunity, the Austrian 8th Hussars charged sending one of the French battalions scurrying towards the rear.  A second French battalion failed to hold up to a combination of musketry and cannon fire and retreated as well. 
French repulsed!
Having two French battalions fall out of battle line so quickly gave Watrin great concern.  Could the battle be decided so quickly?  Reports of Vogelsang's Austrian column reaching Casteggio also caused concern.  Nevertheless, with eight battalions of foot and no guns or cavalry, Watrin pressed on.  
Birds eye view of battlefield
 showing Vogelsang reaching Casteggio.
Rivalta in distance.
Lannes reached the battlefield around noon in time to see Watrin's first attack on Rivalta repulsed.  Wasting little time, Lannes sent the 12th Hussars on a flanking maneuver to threaten O'Reilly's line of communication and thwart the Austrian cavalry.
French 12th Hussars swing wide right to hit Austrian cavalry
To counter the Austrian cavalry threat to Watrin's infantry, the 12th Hussars swung around Watrin's Division and launched a series of charges into the Austrian cavalry support.  Having pushed the Austrian cavalry back into the foothills, Watrin's infantry were free to attempt an encirclement of Rivalta.
French attempt encirclement of Rivalta
Driving off the Austrian cavalry, Watrin unleashed his legere to outflank O'Reilly.  Pushing the Grenz out of Rivalta, Watrin's infantry began tightening the noose around O'Reilly's units still deployed on the hill to the south of Rivalta.  Not wanting to become encircled and trapped, O'Reilly abandoned Rivalta and began an orderly withdrawal.
Elements of O'Reilly retreat up the small valley
Austrian light infantry fought a rear guard action while the bulk of O'Reilly's Advanced Guard attempted to make good its escape.  Unfortunately for O'Reilly, the French were not on the same time schedule.  Instead of an orderly and leisurely pursuit, French legere set off in hot pursuit to catch the Austrians during their retrograde movement.  Catch them they did!  Encouraged to flee up the side valley, the Legere forced the Grenz into rout.
French Legere hot on the tail of Austrian Grenz
As the defense of Rivalta collapsed, O'Reilly attempted a second line of defense between Casteggio and the stronghold of Casa il Giardino.  Vogelsang's reinforcements approached Casteggio from Montebello. 
French pursue fleeing Austrians from Rivalta
In a tough fight, the 6th Legere shoved the Mariassy Jagers out of Casa il Giardino but not without great cost.  Austrian reinforcement began trickling into Casteggio as battalions crossed the Coppa River and began working their way through the foothills above Casteggio.
French prepares an attack
Before a solid defense of Casteggio could be set, the French 12th Hussars strike on a number of fronts.  With swords flailing, the French hussars drove the guns and infantry from the streets of Casteggio.  As the Austrians are driven up into the foothills above town, their withdrawal collided with incoming reinforcements.  Chaos reigned as formations became intermixed.
French elan drive Austrians from Casteggio
Although Lannes is closing in on Casteggio, it is but a temporary salient for the Austrian defenders.  Seeing the difficulty, Ott ordered a withdrawal to the west, back beyond the Coppa.  With Austrian reinforcements from Vogelsang lining the banks of the Coppa River and Schellenberg's column not far behind, Lannes decided that he can not force a crossing of the Coppa.
Situation about 4pm
With Lannes on the verge of capturing Casteggio, a major Austrian victory is not possible.  While Ott still held Montebello, the casualty disparity suffered by the Austrians brought the French to a Minor Victory.  Well done, Jake!  
Austria will not yield the Coppa easily
The battle began with some initial Austrian successes against Watrin's Division.  Jake considered throwing in the towel after Watrin was roughly handled by Austrian cavalry in the opening stages of battle.  His fortunes reversed quickly when Lannes reached the battlefield and pushed the 12th Hussars into action.  Once Lannes gained Rivalta, Ott was kept off balance for the remainder of the contest.  Pressure from the French was unrelenting and O'Reilly's command found itself disorganized for much of the battle.

A few mistakes were made during play but nothing that cannot be corrected before the next attempt.  One point is that we both forgot the newly implemented EZOC.  Enforcing EZOC might have prevented the French cavalry from wreaking such havoc upon the hapless Hapsburgs.

Will another attempt at Montebello be undertaken or has this battlefield occupied the gaming table for long enough?  Having been out on the gaming table for all of 2017, perhaps, it is time to clear it away and consider other genres?  I grow a little fatigued of seeing the same layout on the game table for six months straight.  A number of projects have been pulling for my attention.  Something in 28mm perhaps?  Something using Impetvs?  That sounds good to me.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Christian Crossbowmen for Reconquista

The 28mm Reconquista project has seen regular activity at the painting desk in 2017.  With the exception of March, the other five months of the year tally one unit each for the project.  June may see one more unit for the project later in the month. 
Following two successive units of Arab archers, today a unit of crossbowmen for the opposition is fielded.  Attired in quilted coats, these nine Black Tree Design crossbowmen will add welcome firepower to the project's growing Christian/Spanish contingent.
As I often mention, the BTD sculpts are excellent and a real pleasure to paint.  Enough similar crossbowmen remain in The Lead Pile to call up one more Impetvs 'T' type missile BMU.  With utilitarian dress and drab, earthy colors, these fine crossbowmen can be called to service quickly.  Perhaps the last group ought to be herded into the painting queue to strike while the iron is hot?  
Not so fast!  The next unit for the project to trot off the painting desk will be a five figure unit of heavy cavalry.  Before the heavy horse are called up, a number of units for the Assyrian Wars project are readying themselves for a march off the painting desk.  At present, the painting desk is full of figures.
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