Thursday, 29 December 2016


The interlude between Christmas and the New Year is traditionally a time for looking back over the previous year and assessing one's progress/success and lessons learnt.  In a wargaming context 2016 has been pretty good.  A high spot was my first visit to the Salute show in April, one thing I have been able to tick off the 'bucket list'.  There was also the Gentlemen Pensioners game hosted by Steve, which was great fun.

One of the spectacular games from Salute
One of my favourites, Medieval Russians
However, not all the shows were showing the same rude health as Salute.  Triples was, as I reported quiet on the Saturday and later in the year came the news that the 2017 show would not be taking place.  A sad turn events for a show which for a good number of years had been a firm fixture in my wargaming calendar.  Perhaps the organisers should have taken more notice of the way the York group have developed the Vapnartak show into the excellent event it now is.  One show which Steve and I attended for the first time made a very good impression, the WMMS show at Alumwell, we have made plans to visit again in 2017, with an earlier arrival time to enable us to park on the carpark!  One positive taken from all the shows Steve and I have attended  as part of the Lance and Longbow Society is the interest shown by visitors in how games are organised and the historical background.  Also, we always try and run participation games and almost without fail our 'victims' have played in the right spirit, taking the rough with the smooth

One of my less successful moments - the demise of my blue jackets!
The Nile steamers - always a problem; to both sides!
As far as gaming is concerned the major influence during the year have been the Pike and Shotte rules from Warlord Games.  Well over half our games have involved the rules, and we have tried out several 'amendments', not all of which have been successful.  The rules have proved themselves in all the periods they cover, from Italian Wars through to the Grand Alliance.  Below are scans of the supplementary playsheet that Steve and I use for our ECW games

The coming year we hope to develop our coverage of the Eastern Renaissance wars by painting up some Ottoman troops.  Our games involving the Poles, Cossacks, Tartars and Muscovites this year have been greatly helped by the Eastern renaissance supplement produced by Thaddeus Urban.  He is planning a revised version of this and details can be found on his blog .

ECW action
The Polish Hussars in action
Of course our other collections managed to get on the table this year.  Steve devised some intriguing scenarios for the Sudan collection and his AWI games are always close run affairs.  I was particularly glad to organise a few Shako scenarios and game with some of my 15mm chaps who are now nearing their thirtieth birthday.  Perhaps even older are the Prince August homecasts that Alasdair passed over to me.  They had a couple of outings and generated a good bit of interest.

We were less successful on the naval side.  We did get a few games in and tried out a couple of new rulesets, but the initial objective, re-fighting part of Jutland in the anniversary year eluded us. Perhaps we can manage it one year late.

Other 'failures' include the lack of progress on reducing the 'lead mountain'.  Painting has been very slow this year, due to many factors, but at least the 'mountain' hasn't grown by much, as I haven't bought any figures for six months.

In conclusion may I take this opportunity to thank all those who follow my blog and especially those who take the time to comment, your views are much appreciated. Please continue to let me know what you think of our efforts.  Thanks is also due to Steve, Will, John, Bob, Dave, Gary and the Gentlemen Pensioners for making the games during the year such fun.
All the best for 2017.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Action at El Ammoh; a Sudan scenario using Battles for Empire

For our last wargames meet of the year Steve organised a Sudan scenario.  The village of El Ammoh is a staging post along the lines of communication towards Khartoum and has a standing garrison of 4 units of Egyptian/Sudanese infantry and one of cavalry together with artillery support. There has been a history of unrest in the area and the village has been fortified to improve the defence.  Word has reached the British garrison at Aswan that more trouble is brewing and therefore whilst the main force is gathering a 'flying column' of two units of mounted infantry, one of lancers and attendant artillery has been dispatched.  Their task is to  assess the situation and if necessary  cover the withdrawal of the Egyptian force to a more secure location.  Command of this column has been given to newly-promoted Captain Firth-Newsome.

As the British near El Ammoh they can see that the garrison has manned the walls and clouds of dust can be seen in the distance.

The village of El Ammoh
Firth-Newsome went with one of his lancers to discuss the situation with the Egyptian commander of El Ammoh, Mohammed Bey.    The Egyptian was glad to see the Imperial reinforcements and suggested that the main Dervish attacks would be along the eastern and western faces of the village. Firth-Newsome offered to deploy his troops to flank any such attacks and this was agreed.  

The British begin to deploy
Once back with the column, Firth-Newsome orders Lieutenant Fairbrother to take the two mounted infantry units and the machine gun, to the west and deploy on a ridge of low hills from where he could  fire into the flank of any Dervish units attacking the town.  Firth-Newsome would cover the eastern approaches with the field gun and the unit of lancers.  The deployment took longer than expected and as Fairbrother neared the hills he saw large clouds of dust approaching from the west.  Quickly he deployed the South Essex into square, whilst the machine gun and the North Rutlands, being further back, deployed in line to lend support with rifle fire.  Out of the dust appeared two units of camel troops and three of cavalry.  Two cavalry and one camel units headed for the South Essex, whilst the second camel unit moved towards the North Rutlands.  Riding through the fire from the British square two mounted units charged home, leading to a desperate melee.  Meanwhile disciplined volleys from the North Rutlands plus fire from the machine gun, deterred the other camel unit from charging, at least for the moment.

The attack on the west wall of El-Ammoh
Back at El-Ammoh the Dervish infantry were closing in.  Even though the Egyptian defenders on the south wall poured volleys into the masses as they passed, the Dervish pressed on, swinging round to attack the east and west walls as Mohammed Bey had forseen.  There they were met by resolute defensive fire from the garrison.  On the western wall, the Sudanese unit, supported by a field gun stopped the first Dervish in its tracks and inflicted such casualties that it took no further part in the battle.  Undaunted the second wave of Dervishes swept forward.  Now the defensive fire slackened as the garrison on the south wall ran low on ammunition, as did the field gun.  Sensing victory the Dervishes crashed home though the stolid ranks of the Sudanese held them off and sent their assailants reeling back in disorder.  The gun crew were not so lucky.  Heavily out-numbered, they fought like demons and felled many opponents but in the end were overwhelmed.  Possibly stunned by the ferocity of the defence, the Dervishes did not follow up their success, giving Mohammed Bey just enough time to move up some reinforcements.

The South Essex under attack

On the east wall things had not gone well for the defence.  As the Dervishes closed the machine gun had jammed.  Quickly, Mohammed Bey had ordered the crew to pull the gun back to try and clear the jam away from the threat of attack.  The dismounted cavalry were to advance and hold the wall. They arrived in the nick of time and after a fierce struggle pushed back the attackers.  The Dervishes on the eastern attack had more to concern them than the fire from El-Ammoh.  Sweeping towards them were the British lancers.  They hit the first unit at a gallop and scattered them to the four winds. Sweeping on, they crashed into the flank of a second unit sending it reeling back in total disarray.   Blown and disordered the lancers paused to reform.  Their ranks had been thinned by casualties to both men and horses.  Looking about them they could see more Dervishes massing to attack.  Sensing the lancers' confusion, Firth-Newsome galloped over and ordered them to fall back with him to regroup.  The lancers only just made it, a few troopers on wounded horses fell victims to the pursuing Dervishes.

The lancers strike home
Over in the west, the South Essex's square was shrinking as the struggle the camels and cavalry continued.  Fairbrother was desperate to help them with the North Rutlands, but they were now trying to stop a fearsome charge by the camel troops facing them.  As the camel troops closed. Fairbrother ordered 'Rapid Fire' and the infantry responded with a will.  Gaps appeared in the enemy ranks has the bullets struck home.  As the camels crashed to the desert floor they impeded those behind them and the pace of the attack slowed.  This gave more time for the infantry to fire and cause yet more devastation.  All at once the remaining camel troops  turned and headed off to the west, the line had held.  Fairbrother was about to order the North Rutlands to advance when he saw that it was too late, the South Essex had been overwhelmed by the masses of mounted troops.  Even worse, to his right their were more enemy cavalry approaching.  His machine gun was firing for all it was worth but could not stop the mass of cavalry.  The North Rutlands turned to face this new threat, but they were again too late to aid their comrades as the enemy cavalry swept over the gun crew.  All that stood between the victorious enemy cavalry and the North gate of El-Ammoh were the North Rutlands.  Taking his station in the centre of the North Rutlands' ranks, Fairbrother drew his revolver and was preparing to order rapid fire when Firth-Newsome, with the remains of the lancers swept onto the scene and hit the enemy cavalry in the flank.  A short brutal melee ensued, but the Dervish cavalry broke and headed back into the desert.  Behind them they left a pitiful remnant of the lancers, barely enough to mount an escort for a general.  The gallant survivors made their way into El-Ammoh with the field gun, whilst Fairbrother took up position with the North Rutlands to cover the northern gate of the village.

The end of the South Essex

From the village Firth-Newsome and Mohammed Bey could see more Dervish infantry milling about. However, the sight of the heaps of their dead comrades around the walls of the village, gave them cause to pause and consider whether it might be better to await a better opportunity to seize the village.  As night fell, Firth-Newsome considered his options too.  Should he order a withdrawal, or hold on in anticipation of the main column arriving.  Indeed, how should he write up the events of this bloody day, could it be a victory with such a loss of life to the Imperial forces?

For this scenario Steve tried out a new system for randomising the arrival of the Dervish forces.  He compiled a deck of cards with half the cards representing units and half blanks.  He gave the deck to me to shuffle and then I dealt three cards to represent the first three chances for units to arrive.  Steve rolled dice to indicate where the units arrived.  The units indicated by the cards were actually groups of 5 infantry or 2 or 3 mounted troops.  Move two Steve received two more cards and in subsequent moves 1 card.  This worked rather well and we will probably use it again.

During the day my camera battery was playing up so Steve took a couple of over-view shots with his phone, which show the layout of the table

Monday, 12 December 2016

Somewhere on the Steppe: an Eastern Renaissance scenario for Pike and Shotte

This week the Muscovite and Cossack armies had an outing in a scenario based on a Cossack incursion into Muscovite territory.  The terrain was basic, just a plain with a small settlement on the Muscovite right.

For the Cossacks, the left wing cavalry was four units of Cossacks with a unit of horse archers as skirmishers.  In the centre were five units of infantry, two of registered cossack musketeers and three of moloisty, mixed spears and muskets, supported by two light guns.  On the right were the allied cavalry; two units of Polish pancerni and three of Tartars

The Muscovite left wing cavalry
On the Muscovite side were six units of noble levy cavalry, three on each wing, screened by horse archers.  In the centre were the two streltsy units, the soldatski unit and a unit of provincila musketeers.  The infantry were supported by a medium gun and a light gun.  In reserve were two units of Dvor cavalry and a reiter unit.  So this was a Muscovite army in transition, from an essentially medieval force into one modelled on the western model.

Muscovite infantry
Steve had command of the Muscovites and his levy cavalry moved forward in fine style.  They quickly caused my Cossack cavalry on the left  problems and although I managed to restore some semblance of order, the Muscovites had the upper hand.

In the centre both infantry bodies advanced, though the lines were not maintained as some units got ahead of others.

The Cossack foot ready to advance
I reckoned that my musketeers, supported by a light gun would be able to stop the streltsy.  How wrong I was.  The Muscovites charged through an ineffective closing volley from the musketeers and a close range shot from the gun.  In the melee they inflicted 5 casualties but only suffered one and in no time my musketeers were heading for the rear.  Sweeping on the streltsy then sent a moloisty unit packing and it was only the streltsy going 'shaken' which gave me a chance to recover.

The first infantry clash
Fortunately my right flank cavalry was doing better.  The Poles were better equipped to deal with the Muscovite cavalry and the Tartar archers managed to disrupt the Muscovite advance just enough to give me an edge in the melees

The rush for the exit

Success for the Pancerni
Once order had been restored in the centre the Cossack infantry advanced.  They outnumbered the Muscovite infantry and managed to make good  progress  The only unit showing any resistance was that of the border musketeers which avoided hand to hand conflict in favour of long range musketry.

By the end of the game each sides left wing was in trouble (that of the Cossacks being worse than their opponents); whilst fighting in the centre had stalled as units attempted to recover from the casualties they had received.  Steve and I agreed on a draw as the right result.

The high water mark of the Cossack advance
For our game we used 'standard' 24 figure units for the streltsy, soldatski and musketeers, whilst the moloisty were 'large' with 32 figures.  The levy cavalry were standard size (10 or 12 figures) but because of their lack of training operated in a two rank formation reducing them to 'small' size for melee.

The army list we used was an unofficial supplement called 'Edge of Empire' which can be found here, many thanks to Thaddeus for taking the time to produce it.

Russian levy cavalry

Sunday, 4 December 2016

RECON at Pudsey

This weekend saw the last wargames outing of the year to the Pudsey show.  Steve and I were putting on the Chesterfield game which had an outing at St Helens .  We only managed to persuade one member of the public to join in, but once again the rules proved themselves.  Even though he was new to the rules our 'guinea pig' soon picked them up and thoroughly enjoyed the game.

Ferrers and Wake enter the fray

The knights prepare to charge

Greystoke's men supported by archers
Of course there were other games on view.  The larger games were upstairs.  I was particularly taken by a splendid fantasy game.  It used the Dragon Rampant rules and a wide variety of troops

In a more 'traditional' style was a WWII beach landing.  Plenty of 'hardware' was on view and the Allies were having a tough time establishing a bridgehead.

As usual there were plenty of traders in the main hall covering a wide range of products.  However, there seemed to be fewer visitors than in previous years and certainly it quietened down after lunch. Overall, a successful day out.  Many thanks to Will and Bob for helping Steve and I with the game, also to Dave for 'refreshments'.