Saturday, 31 August 2019

Waterloo 54

Well as mentioned previously, a friend of mine had been planning a large game based on the battle of Waterloo using 54mm figures. This had been discussed over many a glass of port for some years so it was nice to actually get the ball (or dice) rolling. I have loved the 54mm Airfix figures since I started wargaming at a very tender age back in the 1970's and planned to use the exact same figures I started with (repainted) with some more modern reinforcements. Anyway after months of toiling away with the paintbrush we were ready to go.

Initial French deployment. 
The rules "Charge" which the host has been using for some years. I took the role of umpire and felt that this rather large grand battery would swamp the game if the rules were not tweaked. Therefore, range was reduced from 6 foot to 4 (still pretty eye watering in comparison with more modern rules- especially when considering that these are the original distances worked out for 30mm figures rather than 54mm)
The Duke of Wellington begins the mammoth task of deploying his army.

In keeping with historical precedent the allies deployed their army out of harms way on the reverse slope of the famous ridge. He we see Sir Thomas Picton with some of his highlanders (Irregular Miniatures)

I had painted a fair number of French cavalry - here some of them form up on the French left

That battery again with some supporting units. The table is around 25 feet long.

Long shot from the French left.

The allies prepare to meet the onslaught

La Haye Sainte was immediately garrisoned - in time this garrison grew to a size that was perhaps unrealistic and its fire devastated the French units that attempted to assault it.

The units in question begin their attack.

They are led by Marshal Ney who, perhaps suffering from PTSD, ran amok on the battlefield.

Those Dutch I lovingly painted and hardly fired a shot!

Our host, playing Napoleon - looks like he has a cunning plan!

The problems of a vast table -the centre cannot be reached and the battlefield must be scrambled across physically to move the troops.

Large bodies of French cavalry move up to the left of LHS to support the infantry assault.

On its other flank a vast column of Imperial Guardsmen moves up; supported by cavalry.

All the action revolves around the LHS farmhouse complex. There had been a battle around Hougoumont but I don't seem to have any pictures of it and it was over by the early stages of the game.

The French, under Ney, are having the worst of the firefight on their left - perhaps that cavalry will swing the balance?

Battle is joined!

The deadly grand battery, having been stymied by controversial rulings regarding its range and ability to move finally deployed within range of the allied line.

Marshal Ney breaks into LHS - ALONE!

While Ney goes wild at LHS, the Prussians have arrived and the French send light cavalry to slow their advance.

This is not entirely successful - here a unit of hussars and chasseurs are driven off as Blucher's troops begin to make their presence felt on the extreme edge of the battlefield.

Here an allied regiment is caught in the open by French cavalry but nearby units lend their support.

Field Marshal Blucher - having waited patiently for the first half of the game now has some serious numbers on the battlefield despite the desperate efforts of the French cavalry to keep him off!

A lot of pointing going on - wargaming at its most intense! 
The French grand battery has pretty much wiped out the allied batteries on the ridge.

British footguards prepare to support their Hanoverian comrades.

... And painstakingly converted Dutch Carabiniers move up to deal with Ney's cavalry.

French right begins its sluggish advance - perhaps too late?

Looks nice though...

By this point in the game the players were flagging. Perhaps the 8 inch infantry move I instituted slowed the game too much... Lesson learnt. Although the French scored some successes against the Prussian cavalry, their defeat on the right was a matter of time - they just didn't have the numbers. On the left a viscous melee and fierce firefight had decimated Ney's command while his continued pleas for reinforcements went unanswered.
The hopes of the French Emperor now rested solely (and historically) on his huge column of guardsmen. Although they seriously out numbered the allies behind the ridge their initial onslaught did not break though. It was felt that the reinforcements that Wellington could now transfer from his flanks would enable him to enfilade the column, meaning Napoleon could not win.
The fog of war had been maintained throughout the game by the passing of orders to the umpire who diced to gauge when they were delivered and added dispatches of his own. Needless to say; Marshal Grouchy did not arrive.
It was an interesting exercise - the sheer number of troops involved and the size of the table was a challenge, as was trying to keep the action within historic bounds. It may be that in attempting the latter I slowed the game down too much and made it unwinnable for the French but we got a historic result in a battle that differed little from its historic predecessor in its narrative.
It may however, be  a while before the 54mm comes back down from the loft!

Friday, 5 July 2019

Crabbendam 1799

Well I'm still not getting much gaming done but I did get into the loft for a quick play-test of some rules I've been tinkering with. For this game I decided to use the 25/28/30mm collection of French Revolutionary Wars figures that I have amassed. I may have said before but this really is not my preferred scale - I know it is in widespread use but ...
Anyway- the scenario chosen was the Battle of Crabbendam, the second battle in the Helder campaign of 1799. To set the scene a little; the British have successfully landed the first wave of their invasion force, taken the town of Helder and captured the bulk of the Dutch fleet. Many have speculated that if the British commander, Abercromby, had struck at Amsterdam it would have fallen easily and perhaps have precipitated the counter revolution his government had been hoping for. As it was he chose to err on the side of caution and dug in along a line of dykes and canals to await reinforcements.
As he waited the Dutch Republicans, the Batavians, received reinforcements from their puppet masters in France in the form of General Marie Brune and a Brigade of French troops. Hoping to drive the British from their foothold (and show the Dutch a thing or two no doubt) Brune decided to attack at once.
What followed was a bloodily repulsed attack on at least partly prepared (and largely impregnable) positions along the dykes. Without proper preparations the attack stood no chance but there was heavy fighting in some of the villages that defended the bridges into the British position. The whole battle wouldn't make much of a game so I concentrated on a small affair concentrated on the village of Crabbendam itself which was defended by the 20th foot. The small numbers lent themselves to my rules and the larger figures. Those wishing to know more about this fascinating campaign should immediately rush out and secure a copy of 'A Waste of Blood and Treasure' which details this battle and the others in the campaign.

The general position - the French and the hotch-potch of Prussians and Hessians pretending to be Batavians are on the right...

The 20th Foot stand ready - they were composed largely of new recruits fresh from the militia but performed admirably.
The Franco-Batavians advance.

The British reinforce the position- guardsmen rush across the canal
The Batavians launch the first attack.
Prompting further reinforcements- These are old 25mm Hinchliffe highlanders from my father's collection (owing to a lack of suitable British figures)
The position is outflanked.
... And the French burst through the gates after overwhelming the defenders with a successful melee round.
Meanwhile, the brave 20th sally out to prevent the position being completely enveloped.

But... they are facing fearsome odds and numbers soon begin to tell.

Things aren't all gloomy for the British as the Guards halt the French advance into the village. .

Out on the left wing the British deploy into line to give the approaching light infantry a taste of their superior musketry.
Here too they are outnumbered and in danger of being outflanked- A lively fire-fight ensues.

Back in Krabbendam, the Franco Batavian troops are pouring in through every gate and side alley and a confusing melee breaks out.

Having wiped out the 20th, Vandamme's 'braves' attempt to get around the right of the position but are engaged by British (well, Hanoverian actually) artillery.
Battle royal rages in Krabbendem as the Gordons rush over the bridge but the British are forced back to the outskirts. A further push-back the following turn gives the Franco-Batavians possession.
This was a nice little game with a very different feel from my usual battles. It was a lower level than normal and I felt captured the see-saw nature of this battle quite nicely. wasn't entirely happy with the rules but feel that with a few tweaks they will serve.

Saturday, 27 April 2019


It's been a while and I have had trouble logging in so let's see how this goes!
Just to recap - last time a ten year old was destroying my panzers on the outskirts of Prokhorovka. Things did improve slightly (follow a re-read of the rules) but it wasn't enough to change th eoutcome and it counts as a glorious victory for the Red Army - ZA RODINU ! - There are sadly no more pictures as the camera batteries were flat...

On to the next thing - A BIG game!
In honour of a friends birthday we are hoping to re-fight Waterloo in 54mm so have been painting stuff and dusting off old half finished units to see what I've got...

Not too shabby - more than I thought - most are going to need re-basing as they just fall over or are bit tatty.

Newly painted Dutch - A Call to Arms figures (flag from )

Opposition - Old Airfix figures - I started with these (in some case these actual figures) - the old paint has been removed a new coat slapped on.

French heavy cavalry.

Boney and his Guard - small unit; currently being expanded, Airfix & Italeri. The Guns are Irregular Miniatures.

He looks happy - probably still thinks he's going to win!

Guard from the rear.

Voltiguers; prone to falling over - Irregular and a couple of Britains'

French column advances, preceded by HaT Light Infantry.

Supported by light cavalry.

The thin red line awaits...

Just look at the height difference here - Airfix on left, 'Supreme' on right.