Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Italian wars ...

Some random photos form a game Adrian and I fought a couple of weeks ago... a battle from the Italian Wars (1852 ish?? .. Garibaldi against the Neopolitans). The game was fought using our usual Volley and Bayonet rules, and Adrian's immaculate 15mm armies. The buildings are some of Adrian's superb scratch built 15mm Italian towns.

The game went right down to the wire. There was one strength point in it, Garibaldi winning on the very last turn. This is the sort of game that makes the hobby worth while.. nail biting, and so much fun!!!!

Slow start to the summer painting and 'gaming fest

Working in a school tends to mean that there's too little time for painting and 'gaming in term time, but correspondingly a lot more time over the summer especially, when the long break between years occurs. This summer has seen quite a late start to the summer of hobby stuff, but here is a start.

In those occasional moments over the past month of so I've been pottering away at painting and basing a box of 6mm figures I bought in December 2014.. sufficient Irregular Miniatures WW1 Russians to complete my mandatory two divisions (a corps). I'm not there yet, but here is the latest update: four regiments completed so far (the photo shows five because I'd completed a regiment several years ago).

The five regiments so far

A wee closeup of  a regimental command stand
There are another three regiments (plus some cavalry) to go. I'm hoping to have these ready for the forthcoming eastern front scenario book that Shawn and Robert hope to have out soon. Of course I think I may need some Austro-Hungarians, and some Turks, to match up against these guys in addition the Germans already completed.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

'Germany Ascendant'

I recently finished reading the volume 'Germany Ascendant The Eastern Front 1915'  (ISBN 978 4728 0795 3, first published 2015) by Prit Buttar.

The eastern front has long been a source of fascination for me, perhaps because I had that classically anglo centric mentality that suggested that anything western front was awful and anything anywhere else in the first world war was somehow less than awful.

Regardless of the reasons, it has until recently been difficult to find material on the battles and campaigns that were waged through Galicia (modern day Poland), the Baltic states and Russia. I read Norman Stones' excellent book several years ago, but there seemed to be little else available.

This book is the second by Buttar on the eastern front (his first, 'Collision of Empires' is sitting in my TBR pile as I write) and provides an excellent overview of the campaigns and battles of 1915, offering both political and military perspectives on the events of that year.

Buttar has drawn on  a wide range of secondary sources from German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian writers and so presents a balanced view of activity from all three perspectives. My only criticism is that there appears to be a lack of reference to primary sources in the work. This may of course be entirely due to a lack of surviving material and so shouldn't be read as suggesting anything less than rigorous historiography on Buttar's part.

Regardless, this is  avery readable account of a not so well known aspect of the first world war and I recommend it to readers.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A crazy idea .. making use of an interesting 'toy'

Spotted this tiny Matchbox toy plane in the supermarket a few weeks ago. It just looked delightfully 'ork'ish' and an ideal candidate for a flyer for a HotT army.

So here it is.. after a little modification to the underbelly so that it could be mounted on a flyer stand, and sporting it's ork'ish paint scheme .. well more rusting bare metal than paint per se. It just needs mounting on its HotT base and .. job done.

There is only one small problem with the plan: I don't have an orc army.  Still, I've never let that stop me in the past.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Heroics Ros 1914 Russian artillery

I bought the figures to finish the 1914 Russian army for 1914/15 this time last year (the receipt is till in the box). I've been pretty slack on the painting front these past few months .. just far too much work on. However I managed to get a regiment of Russian 76mm guns finished today. They are quite nice (as always with the Heroics & Ros models).

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Final day of College 'gaming for the year

Final day of 'gaming for the College boys today, and we ha a couple of HotT games and several Crossfire games going on. In the HotT game I played my Lost Worlds army against Henry's Greeblies army.

The Crossfire games saw two Briisht para platoons trying  to hold off a local German counter-attack on the  morning of 6 December 1944, and a British Royal Marine Commando company trying to attack and blow up a secret radar installation.

It was all damned decent fun. I was rather flattered that the boys had chipped in and bought me an Airfix kit of a Sherman Crab tank (since they'd found mines so useful in the Crossfire games) as a way of saying thanks for the year.

Great bunch of boys!!! Next year, we'll run some tournaments in HotT and Crossfire. I'll spot a few prizes for them. They'll all be back next year .. whoop whoop!!!

Action in the Peninsula!!!

It has been a while since we've played Volley and Bayonet with the 25mm figures, so with the opportunity to play a game last Thursday, Adrian and I took the opportunity. A small Spanish outpost is hoping to hold out against a determined French advance, hoping beyond hope that the British army can come to their rescue in time.

Initial deployment, with the Spanish occupying the town sector, and the French deployed on the right of the photo.
The action developed rapidly, with the French, aware of the impending arrival of British reinforcements, advancing in their attempts to capture the town from the Spanish.

The French advance rapidly to try to force the Spanish from the town. They advance to try to push the Spanish from the heights.

Initial French attacks are designed to remove the supports for the troops occupying the town.

The attack on the heights

The Spanish initially stand firm on the heights. A French division (seen at the top of the photo) has marched around the flank and into the rear of the Spanish division defending the heights
 The attack goes in in the centre. The French cavalry attack their Spanish counterparts.

Fierce cavalry melee

Vicious assaults on the hights

The Spanish division supporting the troops in the town is pushed back with heavy casualties.

The Spanish cavalry fares little better

However the British arrive

With some cavalry to try to defend the Anglo Spanish left

The Scots division arrives and immediately threatens the flank of the French division that has marched into the Spanish rear
 The Scots certainly know haw to 'give 'em the cold steel' and their assaults drive an entire French division from the field
The Scots reorganise after their successful assault on the French division

French pressure on the heights drives the Spanish away

The British cavalry holds up the flank 
And British infantry advance to regain the supporting positions for the town
 The British reinforcements arrive in time to re-establish a defensive line around the town.

The French advance has been blunted by the smaller Anglo-Spanish force. The French have failed to either cause enough casualties or take the town.

The day remains with the Anglo Spanish alliance. Despite their numerical superiority the French have not done enough to claim a victory.

This seemed to be a unbalanced game but it was enormous fun, and when the game was put into perspective with the relative strengths of the forces Adrian performed really well with the smaller Anglo Spanish force. And we had a huge amount of fun.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mont Aout .. 1914

Mont Aout September 1914 "was the scene of last-ditch attempt by the German Second Army to outflank General Foch’s Ninth Army." So says the newest scenario book for Great War Spearhead, just published by Shawn Taylor and Robert Dunlop.

Now, it had been a while since any of us had played anything substantive in the way of GWSH (well any of the Spearhead stable of games, truth to tell). What's more, this was the official christening of my new games room, back in operating order after the prolonged post Christchurch earthquake rebuild. First order of the night was the opening of a bottle of bubbles before we proceeded on our way with command arrows and deployment.

Keith and I commanded a division each from the German Guards Corps, while Andrew commanded the French 17th division deployed on and around Mt Aout (the large feature in the foreground of the photograph). The German Guards Corps is attacking from the left of the photo (the west).

The French deployed with two regiments covering Mr Aout and Broussy Le Grand (the village in the foreground) and a third covering the right flank and the farm. One regiment was kept in reserve.

The German attack sent one division towards Mt Aout, intended to be more of a pinning attack, and the other towards the left. Each German division had kept one regiment in reserve.

Early observed fire from an on-board regiment of 'soixante quinze' (French 75s) began to cause casualties on the German advance immediately.

A French battalion is deployed in defence of Broussy Le Grand

French infantry deployed on the edge of the woods atop Mt Aout itself .. this was a strong position

Persistent French fire brought down by a very savvy FO caused casualties, and also fell on the German reserve regiment, causing it to be given an order immediately. It was given a timed order to advance against Mt Aout
 The German advance on the right attracted a lot of fire and casualties were mounting.

The German left was a more methodical advance, measured to dislodge the French right, take the farm, and exit regiments off the board, claiming victory points.

The German left flank advance

The firefight begins between the German advance and the French infantry in the woods atop Mr Aout (just in view top right of the photo). These troops were well supported by their artillery.
 The German plan included a flank march against the farm, and this arrived exactly on time.

The German left wing flank march

The Litko markers indicate the growing intensity of the action as firefights and artillery 'light up' the battle field

The German artillery begins to fall on the French infantry defending Mr Aout itself. Infantry fire is also growing in intensity .. the excitement builds.

A German regiment is pushing towards Broussy Le Grand .. but is taking heavy fire from its left flank and its front.

Looking east from behind the German left, the flank march against the farm is putting the French right wing under pressure.

The German centre.. casualties are mounting.. will they hold?

Casualties are mounting on the right flank German regiment too.. it's a 'cauldron' there.

The German left

Broussy Le Grand .. a very strong position

The German right flank regiment is taking too many casualties .. its numbers have been significantly thinned down

The firefight between the German centre and the defenders atop Mt Aout

On the French right, Andrew's defending regiment executes a well planned timed order to withdraw as he commits his reserve regiment to relieve the pressure. This was superb anticipation on Andrew's part .. all a part of his initial plan.

The French centre is now being put under a lot of pressure, a key position in the defence has been breached.
 The German right flank march against Broussy Le Grand arrives to face a thin defence. The French had pushed the remainder of this defending force forward thinning the defence of the flank, tempted forward by the growing German casualties to their front as they won the firefight. This had been a part of the German plan, but ...

The German right flank march arrives behind Broussy Le Grand

Casualties had now reached a critical point. Two German right flank regiments had to test morale. The left hand regiment facing Mr Aout passed, but the fight wing regiment attacking Broussy Le Grand failed. The steam had gone from the German attack. The French were now able to turn their attention to the threat to their flank behind Broussy Le Grand.

The gap lower right where the lost German regiment has been removed.

At the same time the French right flank regiment also had to test morale and failed. However the French reserve was well positioned to contain the German thrust west.

The German left/French right with the space where the lost French regiment had been in defence of the farm complex. The French reserve can be seen top left of the photo.

This was an exciting game. Poor German command arrows (drawn by ... um ... .. me.... no excuses), and also poorer on table deployment, meant that the German attack on Mr Aout failed. While that attack had only ever been meant to pin the main defending forces expected around Mr Aout, it was never well coordinated. There were no good positions from which to engage in the firefight.

Andrew's timed withdrawal on his right, combined with the commitment of his reserve, were both exceptionally good tactical thinking. The German left flank attack which had been intended to be the main thrust was largely negated.

The game ended in a French victory by 8 victory points to 4. History looked to be about to repeat itself on the Marne.

Forcing the Uvarova

The vastness and the difficulty of the terrain through the Caucasus meant that by 1915 there were still avenues to be explored if victory wa...