Friday 1 December 2023

Napoleon and stuff.

 Saw it last night.

It wasn't as bad as I'd been led to believe. But it was a wasted opportunity to tell the story of Napoleon and Josephine. That's a pity because that would have been entirely possible with the components Scott had. Focusing on that story entirely without the battles would have made a better film. 

But there were too many gaps, too many flaws for me and by the sounds of it most of the folk who were talking as they left the cinema felt the same. Most groups had one or two people explaining the missing bits or highlighting the holes. That is perhaps the issue, many people going to see it will have an interest and know enough to feel it lacks something. Had it been the plot of Bridgerton no one would have minded.

He didn't listen to the critics either....

Don't bother with the forthcoming 4hr streaming version, watch this instead.

The snowball fight is more historically accurate than Ridley's battles! 

The Trailer for Ferrari looked good though. Wonder if racing/car fans will react the same way.....

As Thursday was a much needed day off I was in Banchory to play with John and Eric. Eric's scenario for Zona Alfa was very good. John and I had to infiltrate the zone to so that a Tech could retrieve some kit from the wreckage of a downed aircraft. By tying John's team down in crossfires I was able to get my man in about first and get my hands on whatever it was we were being paid to retrieve, no questions asked. ZA is a neat little system and you can go as straight or weird as you like with the Zone. I look forward to more games.

Friday is also a day off.....and I think I shall get the glue out and maybe do some Aztecs. 40 years ago a party of dwarves fought some goblins on a ziggurat when the first edition of Warhammer hit the shelves. I reckon Conquistadors vs Aztecs would make a good version of that scenario. As I was 11 when I got Warhammer the following year it will be 40yrs of Wargaming for me in 2024. A wee tribute methinks. 

Thursday 23 November 2023

Renaissance Games Continued

Two more games this week this time getting the Irish out for a test drive. 

Now I'm no expert, but I'm learning fast and so my knowledge of Irish warfare is limited to Ian Heath's 16th Century Armies and the recent Tudor Warfare Vol2 by Jonathan Davies supplemented by a wee bit of Gush's Renaissance Armies. A broad though shallow sweep. 

How to represent them on the table?

  • Kern as Infantry but able to fight and move through bad terrain
  • Gallowglass as Swords - no change there
  • Irish Cavalry as Reiter - not Caracoling but skirmishing with darts, so no change
  • No Cavalry - so can swap for loose shotte (essentially skirmishers), or more Kern or Gallowglass
  • Irish can have a unit of "normal" pike and shot infantry 
Remember these are a very very simple set of rules which aim to represent warfare distilled to basics so the subtleties may be lost. But this is a tough one because Kern may be main type of Irish infantry but they don't fight in the same way as a pike unit. 

So now we have .

  • National type army lists (basic but getting there)
  • Card driven activation (tried last week and works well)
  • Random events when the random event card was drawn (not tried yet)
  • Leaders with traits which could effect the game (not tried)
  • Campaign rules with casualty recovery. (not tried)

Game one - Capture the gun

Both sides tried to capture a cannon which had become bogged down in a ford. The side which held it at the end of the game won. Not very subtle and probably favouring the English but the random activation meant that either side had complete control. I've also introduced Random Events so there were a few time when things went "agley". The English were lead by an officer keen on glory and leading from the front but this was a game where shooting would be handy. The Irish on the other had had an officer who had god in his side and who could rally off hits from units he was attached to by his inspirational presence. Things were perhaps more even. 

Both sides moved up to the ford and the line of the river, but as expected the English had the upper hand. The Irish weren't able to get to grips, but their skirmishing horse did wear down the heavier English Cavalry and Border Horse and drove them off the table. This gave the English a bit of a wobble and forced one of the back. The Irish had meanwhile be somewhat restored by their inspirational leader and now had the advantage of numbers but pressing the attack was difficult. The worn out English lost another unit, now down to three. This unit had the English leader, still spoiling for a fight and he was slain and in the morale test another ran off. Suddenly there were only two English pike, a ways from the ford, leaderless and without any powder.....the Irish had won. 

The tweaks to the rules had made the game interesting, challenging and given a good player the opportunity to get the best from his troops. Most importantly everyone who played, enjoyed it. 

Game two was a scenario from the One Hour Wargames book. This time the English deployed two units just below a cross roads flanked by difficult ground (bog in our games). There was some debate about whether the Irish would drag their new cannon along.  The decided it would be worth the effort - it wasn't. It fired a shot and ran out of ammo, perhaps fitting given they weren't known for deploying them! Their men surged forward, Gallowglass moving through the bog to try and flank the English. Their first move didn't go well - after taking casualties from the Irish horse one unit drew a random event and recoiled a full move, leaving the other unit dangerously exposed.  A series of short turns however meant they were still fighting when their cavalry, weakened by the last game, but still functioning, turned up and stopped the Irish advance, the solid ground between the bogs was now a bottleneck and units had no space to deploy to shoot or turn to fight. Time was running out. One unit of English infantry were wiped out and the Irish cavalry dashed for the crossroads but they were shot down by English calivers. That was the last turn and the game was over. 

Two games so good results and the rule amendments seem to give good games too. The Irish need some work to make them a bit more skirmishy but not much. I do need some more figs. Some Irish horse and handgunners as well as that Pike a Shot unit.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

More Renaissance - Rules Additions

Tuesday night is games night at Oldmeldrum Wargames Club and over the last few weeks we've been playing using Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames Pike and Shot Rules. These are very simple and have straightforward mechanisms which give a good, basic, game when the scenarios in his book are used. Over the last few weeks I've added a few tweaks here and there, not to the rule mechanisms but more gloss on top. 

These include

Officers who can do a limited number of beneficial activities such as rallying off hits and modifying dice throws. 

National troop types which are a little more representational of of the units which made up armies of the time, players being able to swap out swordsmen for artillery or units of "Loose Shotte" for example.

A card based activation system. Lifted from "Victory without Quarter" each unit gets a card allocated from a standard pack, each leader gets one, there's a random event card and a turn end card, so a little unpredictability enters the game. 

And a very simple campaign system for tying games together. Casualty recovery, officer traits and a few other bits. 

We've tried out some of these (officers, army break levels) over the last couple of weeks and they've added  to the games but last night we tried the card activation system. We would probably have had artillery on the table too, but none of the armies rolled up got any swordsmen so no one had the option to swap. (The reason I picked swordsmen as the unit type to play around with was that by the mid and late 1500's most armies had dropped their sword and buckler types, polearmes, etc and moved to pike and shot. The Irish and Highland Scots being exceptions along with the English Billmen who still showed up when the levies were called up).

We played two games from the book with 6 unit armies. The Spanish with 4 infantry, 1 Cavalry (demilancers) and 1 Reiter and the English with 3 infantry, 2 Reiter and 1 Cavalry. 

The games played out well with the initial friendly frustration of seeing red card after red card being drawn for the English being reversed then a few hands later the opposite occurred.  The turn end came up too early sometimes and too late at others meaning the players were always quite able to do what they wanted when they wanted, a good way of representing the lack of control senior command had once battle was joined. It also meant that the second game was a tactical draw despite the Spanish being hammered by the English as the latter were unable to achieve their objective of seizing the crossroads. 

4 players involved, two games played, nice figures shuffled about, battles that had a good period feel to them...whats not to like. 

Game one. Spanish hold the hill expecting an attack from the English to their front but are surprised when they attack from the flank. Flags from the excellent 80Years War Facebook page except the Burnets in the foreground!

Although pressed hard the Spanish were just able to retain control of the hill. It was a hard fight and casualties were heavy on both sides. 

Game Two

Playing rather than umpiring this time I had command of the English right. The scenario called for both sides to control a small hill in the SE corner and a crossroads in the NW, a difficult proposition. I wanted to see if I could use Reiters to "shoot in" my demilancers. 

Almost! I was able to drive off the Spanish Cavalry which Dave commanded on that wing but the infantry proved to be too tough a nut to crack. Out of powder and shot, my LHS unit of Reiter galloped down the flank but couldn't quite seize the ground before the turn end card called end of play. On the English right John's infantry did a good job of whittling away the other Spanish units, led by Alistair, but couldn't get close enough to threaten the crossroads. 

Had these been campaign games it's likely the Spanish losses over both battles would have left them unable to to fight a third battle. We will put that to the test next week. 

Reiter units for the English also need to be looked into. At home or in Ireland I expect they'd be more skirmishing Border Horse, but in the Spanish Netherlands or in France they'd be more common, as part of an allied army. There aren't rules for skirmish cavalry so some thought is needed if I'm going to have games in Ireland or agains the Scots.

Tuesday 7 November 2023

16thC Spanish

Continuing my 16thC project Ive assembled and painted quite a few of the Wargames Atlantic Conquistador figures. These were painted almost exclusively with Citadel Contrast Paints, Army Painter Speed Paint and Strong Tone Wash. only the white/off white and greys were "normal" paints. These were applied over a Khemri Dust (khaki-ish) primer. Flags are from the 80yrs War Facebook page and Flags of War picked up at Kirriemuir. 

Taking a leaf from Matakishi's excellent Renaissance project I have added priests to all my Spanish units. One seems to praying for deliverance rather than victory though. 

Supporting them are some Citadel Pistoliers. 

I've one more unit of pike and shot to do and using a mix of conquistador bits and warlord landsknecht bodies I have a unit of billmen - they'll join the English. Lastly I have Resin demi lancers and gendarmes and warlord mounted arquebusiers to paint. 

Why Spanish?

Well the Gordon's and the Hay's did not end their support for Catholicism with the crowning of James VI. They were implicated in a plot to involve Spain in Scottish affairs and took advantage of the ships of the stricken Spanish Armada to equip themselves with Spanish cannon, if indeed they had not already done so secretly. One of these lies amongst the ruins of the Hay's castle of Old Slains above St Catherine's Dub near Collieston. Here my father took me as a kid for my grandmothers family had a cottage there and I remember the gun sitting on the headland in the shadow of the ruin, blown up by James in revenge for Hay's treachery. Another cannon sits outside Haddo House a few miles west of my home, and a modern home of the Gordon's, while a third is at Peterhead Museum, just up the road. 

Then there was the Spanish ship which stopped off in Tobermory Bay and whose crew were used by the McLeans of Duart to settle some feuds with the MacDonalds and MacIans before the ship was destroyed on the orders of Walsingham, Elizabeth I's "spymaster". 

Who needs to wait to the Jacobite rebellion and Glen Sheil before you have Spanish in the Heather?!

Thursday 2 November 2023

A Great Christmas Prezzie.......

 The Wargames Annual.

What a great gift. If you've been a good wargamer all year, pop this on your Christmas list.

There's a great wee article in there from me on the exploits of The Black Colonel.