Monday, 4 February 2019

Vapnartak 2019

Our first show of the year was, as usual, Vapnartak last Sunday.  For a change, the weather gods were favourable and the trip over the Pennines went without a hitch.  The Lance & Longbow stand was in it's usual location and setting up went smoothly.  The York club had members on hand to help transfer things from vehicles to the stands and that was much appreciated.

Once the doors opened things got busy very quickly.  Attendance was good with lots of eager shoppers working through their lists.  There didn't seem to be as many games on offer as in previous years, certainly on the ground floor.  I think that at this show there is a move away from large 'eye candy' type games towards participation/join in games, certainly the majority of the games on the upper floors were of this variety and very busy they were too.  What was evident was the number of younger gamers who were keen to try out these games.  We were busy with our 'Stamford Bridge' game, running it three times and attracting customers for each one.  Being so busy meant that I only had one brief opportunity to take photos.

Next to us was an ECW set up "The Queen's arrival in Bridlington". 

The ships were impressive and the overall effect was very good, but the same kind of thing has appeared under different titles for a number of years.

Close by was what looked like an "Indiana Jones"  themed game.  Plenty of nice detail and modelling on view.

Nearby were a WW2 airborne action

and a WW1 Middle East game featuring a very impressive castle

I managed to get a couple of photos of another WW1 game, this time set on the Western Front

The other times I glanced over the table seemed to be fully occupying several players.

I mentioned earlier that the upper floors had mostly participation type games and they all seemed very busy.  One larger game was put on by Yorkshire Renegades, it used Pike and Shotte rules and was based on the Siege of York during the ECW.  My apologies for the photos, the light flooding in through the large windows made life difficult.

Nicely painted figures and a well presented game.

The York club has once again produced a very welcoming show with plenty on offer for those visiting.  Steve and I were very happy with how our game was received and we would like to offer our thanks to Adam, Danny, George, Jim, John, Jonathan and the two Pauls for giving our game a try.  Andy and Will manned the society stall and Dave and Lynne provided welcome refreshments.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Lessie's Moor an ECW scenario

For our most recent game (actually roughly 4 weeks ago), Steve used this scenario by Andrew Brentnall, which can be downloaded free from here .  It is set up for the "For King and Parliament" rules by Simon Miller, but Steve adjusted it for our in-house version of "Pike and Shotte".  It was also an opportunity to try out some different formation depths.  There has been a fair bit of discussion on TMP and elsewhere regarding the way in which we, as wargamers, deploy our units and we thought we would try and get the cavalry a bit nearer the formations depicted on contemporary mid-seventeenth century illustrations of battles.

The action takes place in the fictional (unless you are an Archers fan), county of Borsetshire, which lies just to the south of Kelhamshire.

The view from behind the Parliamentary right wing

The scenario map shows that over half the parliamentary cavalry is deployed  in enclosures on the left wing, rather restricting it's ability to manoeuvre.  A roll of the dice allocated command of the Royalists and the persona of Lord Nigel Pargeter to me, whilst Steve was General Edward Grundy.  My plan was to attack with my right and hold in the centre and left.  Steve opted for the same plan, meaning the two armies were pivoting around the small copse seen in the photograph above.

My right wing cavalry made good progress advancing across the moor, but the trained bands were less keen, plodding slowly forward, whilst Perk's regiment became disordered trying to get across a hedge.  Fortunately, the enemy left wing cavalry seemed to prefer to wait on events and remained in position.  It was only when the leading Royalist regiment approached the opening to the enclosure that Elliot and Bellamy's regiments turned to face them and a prolonged melee took place in the narrow opening.  My infantry had now come under fire from the commanded shot placed behind the hedges on the parliamentary left and the first volley caused the Penny Hassett trained band to waver.  David Archer quickly moved over to steady them and together with the Ambridge trained band they fired a volley back at the musketeers.

The fight for the enclosure
Grundy's plans for his right wing were not progressing as he had hoped.  Fairbrother's cavalry lacked cohesion, one unit had been driven back by fire from D'Arcy's musketeers whilst the remainder had been charged by Josh Archer's regiments.  The melee swung back and forth but it was the Royalists who had to give ground, one unit routing, the other falling back to reform.  Archer tried to rally his fleeing troopers, but was swept from the field in the rout; only returning some time later.  Meanwhile Lord Pargeter had re-aligned the infantry in the centre to cover their flank.  He was able to do this because Sterling's brigade of infantry were reluctant to advance, (with the exception of Grundy's own regiment) and Carter's brigade of trained band units were also keen to remain in reserve rather than face the enemy.

D'Arcy's musketeers

Lord Frederick's rout
Although Fairbrother was able to drive off the remaining Royalist cavalry on the Parliamentary right, he was exposed to fire from the musketeers ensconced behind the hedges.  To his left Grundy's regiment had been broken by musketry and Sterling's had been forced back to reform.

On the Royalist right the cavalry fight for the enclosure continued as fresh regiments made their way forward.  Neither side could gain an advantage, but the Royalist infantry now began to exert an influence.  The two trained band regiments had gained the upper hand against McCreary's musketeers and a determined charge broke the small unit.  Perks' unit also overcame Tichener's musketeers and was able to advance to the hedge bordering the enclosure.  Now the Parliamentary cavalry faced charges from the enemy cavalry and also volleys from the infantry lining the hedge.  One by one the cavalry units routed threatening the collapse of the Parliamentary force.  Grundy ordered Fairbrother to move his cavalry quickly to bolster the left, whilst the remains of Sterling's command also moved left to counter the Royalist advance.  This left Carter's untried brigade to hold off the Royalist left and centre.  Grundy's mood was not improved by the sudden demise of his artillery, the axle shattered under the strain of discharging a shot.  Surveying the scene, he ordered a withdrawal.  For his part Lord Pargeter was happy to claim victory by right of possession of the field.

The Ambridge trained band advance

Snell's regiment charge Fairbrother's regiment

The cavalry melee in the enclosure

The trained bands and Perks' regiment line the enclosure hedge

Carter's brigade reluctantly move forward
An enjoyable game, surprisingly won by the Royalists although they were outnumbered.  Steve was hampered by most of his commanders having a lower command factor and thus failing more tests.  The greater depth of the units somehow looked 'right' at least as far as being more like contemporary illustrations.  A bit more testing is required to establish whether they work in practice.

All being well Steve and I will be at the Vapnartak show on Sunday, running our Stamford Bridge game on behalf of the Lance & Longbow Society.  If you are attending the show please drop by and say hello and maybe even join in the game.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Action at Longmarket, a Kelhamshire Pike and Shotte scenario

Lord Melchett's forces had been besieging the Parliamentarian stronghold of Whitecross, but had had to retire when Sir Victor Meldrew's relieving force had approached.  To gain time for the vital artillery and supply trains to cross the river Kelham and reach the safety of Royalist headquarters, Lord Melchett had deployed a holding force on the line of the Blackwater stream, just west of Longmarket.   At this point the road to Longmarket crossed the Blackwater by a ford.  The stretches of river either side of the ford could be crossed by formed units, but the going was very soft and likely to disorder the troops.  The road was lined with hedges and more hedges enclosed fields on either side of the river.

Lord Melchett had 4 regiments of foot, (2 raw and 2 trained), 3 units of cavalry (2 trained and 1 raw) and a light gun.  He place two units of foot under Sir James Fotheringay to the left of the road and two , (under Colonel William Saville), on the right.   His cavalry under Sir Hesketh Fleetwood covered the lane.  The light gun was placed to cover the ford.

Sir Victor Meldrew had the larger force, 6 regiments of foot, (although some were reduced by lengthy campaigning), 2 units of commanded shot and 4 regiments of cavalry.  In addition there was a medium gun.  The commanded shot were deployed forward with orders to unsettle the Royalist infantry defending the hedges by the river.  Colonel Richard Clayton had a brigade of 3 regiments of foot to oppose Sir James Fotheringay and on the opposite flank the veteran Colonel Ezekial Cooper also had 3 regiments.  Sir Victor's cavalry, (2 elite and 2 trained regiments) was gathered by the entrance to the lane under the command of Colonel James Livesey.

The action opened with the commanded shot moving forward to engage the Royalist infantry lining the hedges.  Lord Melchett had requested Fotheringay and Saville to place their raw units in the front line, hoping to preserve the more seasoned troops from unnecessary losses.  The opening volleys from the Royalists belied their status.  Fotheringay's men caused the commanded shot facing them to pull back to reform, and Saville's stopped those advancing towards them.  Sir Victor ordered the remaining infantry to advance and try to use their superior numbers to outflank the Royalist line.
Fotheringay's men await the parliamentary attack
The parliamentary infantry struggled through the boggy terrain by the Kelham and as the fire from the royalists wavered they forced their way over the river.  To put more pressure on the defence Sir Victor ordered Livesey to send two regiments of cavalry up the lane and attack the royalist cavalry.  Livesey protested that the narrow lane was not suitable country for cavalry, but Sir Victor would brook no argument.  With a sense of foreboding, Livesey led his men forward.  At first all was well, the leading troopers splashed through the ford and began their ascent of the opposite slope.  Lord Melchett had placed his light gun to cover the ford, but their fire was totally ineffective and the enemy horsemen passed unscathed.  At the top of the lane, Livesey was surprised to find that he had been allowed space to deploy, accepting this unexpected gift he quickly ordered his leading regiment to deploy and charge.  The ensuing melee was evenly matched , but Fleetwood's reserves were able to support his engaged unit whilst Livesey's supports were still making their way up the lane.  Livesey was forced to fall back, but the royalists were too shaken by the tussle to take advantage and follow up.

Livesey's attack up the lane

At the river line, Fotheringay's leading regiment had broken.  Assailed by the volleys from two regiments to their front; they were shattered by fire into their flank from the commanded shot.  The commanded shot had little time to enjoy their triumph as they were in turn broken by a volley.  This was fired by Fotheringay's reserve regiment which then moved forward to try and retake the hedge.  This they accomplished with ease, as Clayton's men had become disordered pushing their way through and over the obstacle and could offer little to resist the royalist counter-attack.  Bundled back across the Kelham they took some time to recover.
Saville's leading regiment routs
On the opposite flank, Saville had also struggled to maintain his position.    Cooper had attacked on a broad front and advanced steadily and although struggling with the terrain, he had managed to get all three units across Blackwater.  With his men ready, he ordered the charge and his men swept forward.  The closing volley from Saville's men was ineffective and as the pikes struck home, his men turned and ran up the hill.  Cooper avoided Clayton's mistake and didn't try to cross the hedge, instead he awaited the inevitable counter attack.  As Saville's reserve advanced they were met by volleys, but on they marched.  Gathering themselves, they charged the hedgeline.  the parliamentary closing volley swept their ranks and although they closed, they were unable to dislodge their opponents.  As the melee continued casualties rose amongst the royalists and they broke, streaming up the hill.  Saville managed to rally them behind their fellow regiment, which had been rallied by Lord Melchett.

Cooper's men prepare to cross the Kelham
Lord Melchett saw that Sir Victor was reinforcing success.  Across the river, Livesey's reformed regiments, together with the previously uncommitted regiments were moving swiftly to their left.  To counter this had only two regiments.  One of Fleetwood's raw regiments had moved forward to support Fotheringay;s remaining regiment.  Fotheringay himself was no longer on the field, he had tried to rally his routing unit, but had been carried away with them.  Lord Melchett suspected that neither the infantry nor Sir James would halt this side of Longmarket.  The cavalry had advanced too far and the volleys from Clayton's regiments had decimated their ranks, causing them to rout.  Fleetwood had been unable to rally them and they also disappeared westwards towards Longmarket.

The Royalist cavalry rout
The crisis of the battle was approaching, Livesey's troopers were beginning to cross the Blackwater and Cooper had moved forward one regiment  to cover their deployment.  Just in time, Saville's two battered regiments had managed to reform and they advanced towards the parliamentary infantry.  They both fired volleys and when they smoke cleared they could see the enemy infantry running.  Their rout had disorganised the cavalry directly behind them and Livesey decided to pull back.

Sir Victor ordered a ceasefire and pulled his troops back, allowing the royalists to fall back unmolested.

 This was actually a disguised version of the battle of Langport.  Historically. Fairfax sent his cavalry up the lane.  They defeated Goring's cavalry, which fled, together with the infantry.  Rule sets often prevent cavalry attacking in column of route and thus the tactic used at Langport is difficult to duplicate.  An enjoyable game, Steve stuck to his task as parliamentary commander, even though the terrain was against him and came close to victory, being denied by some rogue dice.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

A brief review of 2018

I am sure I am not alone in thinking that the years are passing quicker and quicker.  Also I think that being a wargamer tends to mean that your 'to do' list is always longer at the end of the year.  Looking back I do not think I have too much to complain about, 8 shows attended, c30 games played, (despite the various interruptions from holidays and the real world) and c200 figures painted and added to the collection.  However, there is one failure in particular, the lead mountain has continued to grow, (and at an increasing pace).  For most of the year I did manage to hold my resolve and not purchase more figures, however, there were three major lapses;

In January I took advantage of an offer from Warlord Games and purchased an ECW package of 90 infantry and 24 cavalry.  Then in August at Britcon I fell for a collection of 15mm Austrian infantry (another 100 figures to paint).  Finally, in September came the largest fail, a collection of 25mm Hinchliffe Ottoman figures part painted, almost 200 figures in all.  In my defence I will say that this last purchase was a real bargain (where have we heard that before?)  Here are a few photographs

First the 4 units of Sipahi

As you can see all the figures will need weapons and some painting,

To accompany the Sipahi are 6 units of light cavalry, 2 of archers, a Deli unit and these Arab light cavalry

With the cavalry came 3 units of infantry, (each 20 figures strong), one each of Janissaries, archers and musketeers.

These musketeers require the least work, but the whole collection will take up a sizeable chunk of painting time for the coming year. 

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Wilhelmstadt, a SYW scenario using Konig Krieg

The usual gaming routine tends to go out of the window at this time of year and that is before the vagaries of the UK weather begin to make themselves a nuisance.  Management determined that seasonal preparations were of more importance than posting on the blog so I am only now catching up on a game Steve and I played earlier in December.  This provided an opportunity for rare outing, (almost 2 years since the last one), for my small 15mm SYW collection.  The scenario sees a force of Anglo/Brunswick|Prussian troops attempting to protect a supply base (Wilhelmstadt) from an advancing French force.  There are three brigades of French infantry (2 of 4 battalions and battery, 1 of 3 battalions and a battery), plus one brigade of cavalry(4 small regiments) on the table.  A fourth brigade (of 3 battalions) will arrive after on the French right after 3 turns.  For the Allies there are 3 brigades of infantry.  The British and Brunswick brigades have 4 battalions and a battery, the Prussians only 2 battalions, a battery and a detachment of jaegers.

The starting positions can be seen below

The Allies, under General, the Lord Montague, are deployed with Brigadier Howard's 4 British battalions on the Wolfsburg to the right of Wilhelmstadt, Von Helsing's Brunswickers covering the town and Von Stalheim's Prussians on the Waldburg to the left.  Grenville's cavalry are held in reserve.  Wilhelmstadt itself has a garrison of a grenadier battalion.

Marshal Corbiere has his three infantry brigades (left to right, Sully, Montmorency, Givenchy) in the front line with Haut-Provence's cavalry in reserve.  Pozieres' fourth infantry brigade will enter via the road leading from the bottom of the photograph.

A roll of the dice allocated command of the Allies to Steve.  As Marshal Corbiere, I decided to advance Sully and Montmorency, supported by Haut-Provence,  to pin the Allied right and centre.  This would leave the six battalions of Givenchy and Pozieres to try and drive off the Prussians and then advance on Wilhelmstadt.

As the French infantry advanced the Allies threw their first spanner into the works of the carefully crafted plan.  Von Stalheim ordered his jaegers toward the woods to fire into the flank of Givenchy's advance.  Their fire, irritating at first, soon caused the regiment at the right of the line to waver.  As the head of Pozieres' column came into view they were greeted by the sight of some of their comrades from Givenchy's brigade retreating.  Pozierers quickly ordered his leading battalion to form line and advance on the jaegers and force them to fall back.  The jaegers obliged, falling back through the woods and inflicting heavy casualties on their pursuers as they struggled through the trees.

The Prussian jaeger advance
On the right, Montague made another unexpected move, ordering forward Grenville's cavalry.  This stalled the advance of Sully and Montmorency and Haut-Provence struggled to get his troopers into a position to charge the allied cavalry.   Although the French artillery did inflict some casualties, the British cavalry continued their advance and then charged the 1st battalion la Couronne.  The French infantry stood their ground and fired a volley as the British closed.  This emptied quite a few saddles but did not deter the survivors from striking home.

In the short melee which followed the infantry held firm and it was the cavalry who fell back, having suffered the loss of almost half their strength.  Sensing that further attacks would incur needless casualties, Grenville ordered his men to fall back.  He would bide his time and seek further opportunities to attack.

Corbiere now ordered his artillery to concentrate their fire on the allied guns as a prelude to a further advance.  This proved surprisingly effective, (due to some rather fortuitous dice rolls) and soon the allied guns were silenced.  As Sully and Montmorency continued their advance they diverged and opened up a gap through which Haut-Provence could advance his cavalry.  Attempting to bring Grenville's battered command to battle they found themselves denied as the allied cavalry fell back behind Von Helsing's Brunswick infantry.

On the French left Givenchy and Pozieres were struggling to bring the Prussians to battle.  Von Stalheim kept his line battalions on the Waldburg, forcing the French to attack him uphill.  Meanwhile his jaegers were tormenting Pozieres' infantry , evading contact and sniping away as they fell back.  Corbiere's 'right hook' looked to be failing.

In the centre, there was some progress.  Montmorency was grinding down the Brunswick battalions defending Wilhelmstadt.  Close range artillery fire, supported by volleys from the infantry had reduced two battalions to tatters.  Orders were sent to Haut-Provence to complete the job and attack with the cavalry.  Inexplicably, nothing happened.  The cavalry remained motionless, the Brunswick infantry, perhaps not wishing to antagonise their foe, inflicted only minor casualties with their desultory volleys.  A second set of orders were sent, but to no effect.

Meanwhile, Sully had begun his attack on the Wolfsburg.  As the French infantry climbed the slopes they were met by devastating volleys from the well-drilled British battalions.  Whole companies were swept away and the battered remains of once proud battalions fell back to reform.  The disjointed volleys from the French infantry did inflict some losses on the red-coated line, but very little in comparison to the losses they had suffered.  In a belated attempt to salvage some French pride, the Commisary General regiment from Haut-Provence's brigade charged in support of the battered infantry.  They broke through the 4th Foot and reached the crest of the Wolfsburg, but isolated and unsupported they had to fall back.

Grenville's cavalry had not been idle.  Montague had seen the growing strength of the forces attacking the Waldburg and ordered the cavalry to intervene.   With the Royal Dragoons in the lead, the Allied cavalry attacked.  The French infantry were caught unaware.  Their supporting artillery was ridden down and then an infantry battalion suffered the same fate.

The Royal Dragoons attack the French infantry on the Waldburg
With three of his brigades having suffered losses of at least 50%, Corbieres decided to fall back.  The attack on Wilhelstadt had failed, but once he had received some reinforcements he would try again.

An enjoyable game, but at times a bit of a struggle as Steve and I tried to remember the rules.  We had used them frequently when we gamed with Alasdair several years ago, and when you have thirty or more battalions, (as we often did in those days),  losing 3 or 4 is not that significant.  With only half that number these rules are quite unforgiving if you have a bit of bad luck with the dice.  I will have to try and paint some more 15mm figures or perhaps look for a different set of rules (one that doesn't entail re-basing the figures I already have).

Monday, 10 December 2018

Whittington 1644

This was a small scale ECW encounter during the campaigns in Shropshire.  The scenario comes from an article by Stephen Maggs which appeared in Miniature Wargames in April 2004.  Oswestry was a key point for the Royalists as it helped guard the vital road between Chester and Shrewsbury.  However, in May 1644 it had been captured by Parliamentary forces.  The Royalists were determined to recapture the town and Sir Fulke Hunkes, governor of Shrewsbury was ordered to gather up all available forces in the area.   By 22nd June the Royalist forces were closing on Oswestry, but took time to organise their siege.  On the 2nd July news came of a Parliamentary relief force under Sir Thomas Myddleton approaching from Ellesmere.  Hunkes detached a force under Colonel John Marrow to march towards them and ascertain their strength.  On the afternoon of the 3rd of July Myddleton's forces saw Marrow's men deployed along the banks of the river Perry, either side of the bridge which crossed the river just east of the village of Whittington.  As the Parliamentary forces deployed Colonel Marrow could see that he outnumbered them, particularly in cavalry and, disregarding his orders to merely ascertain the enemy strength, resolved to attack.  This provided the starting point for our game.

A view of the layout from the south, Royalists on the left
The Royalists have 5 regiments of foot, 2 of which are rated raw, 3 regiments of cavalry, one of which is raw and a single light gun.  Myddleton has 4 regiments of foot, 2 of which are rated raw and 2 light guns.  He only has a single regiment of cavalry.  We treated the river as potentially disordering unless crossed at the bridge.  Hedges were a linear obstacle and targets behind them were unclear.

A roll of the dice allocated command of the Royalists to Steve and as per the scenario his troops moved forward.  The cavalry advance was piecemeal and disordered by the river crossing, so my single regiment was able to drive back two of their opponents.  However, they became 'shaken' in the process and only just held on against the third regiment.  One of the infantry regiments came to their aid, firing a telling volley into the Royalist horse and forcing them to fall back to join their comrades.  This gave my cavalry a brief breathing space to try and recover before the onslaught resumed.

The Royalist cavalry cross the River Perry
The opposing infantry forces had by now closed up to the river and were exchanging volleys.  To the right of the bridge (beyond it in the layout photograph),  my infantry came off worst and had to fall back.  However, as their opponents advanced they became disorganised crossing the river giving me a chance to counterattack and drive them back to the western bank.

The infantry exchange volleys across the river
On my left things were not going well.  Using his numerical advantage he had outflanked my line and was swinging round the barn to attack the units defending the hedge line from the rear.  Fortunately, the Royalist infantry attacking the hedge frontally suffered such heavy casualties they routed, giving me just enough time to deploy them to meet this new threat. 

The Royalist flank attack
On the right the cavalry melee resumed and this time the attack was better co-ordinated.  My single regiment was overwhelmed and driven from the field.  This left a single regiment of foot to oppose the Royalist cavalry.  It was able to fall back to cover its flank, but the Royalist infantry on that flank now began to move forward to support their horse.

With both flanks threatened and no cavalry it was time for the Parliamentarians to retreat,

We ran the game again after lunch and exchanged commands.  Things worked out much the same on the Royalist left.  Their cavalry managed to overcome the Parliamentary cavalry but struggled against the infantry.  On the opposite flank Steve managed to get into position much quicker and my attack never really got going.  The infantry unit leading the attack was destroyed by the Parliamentary volleys and routed from the field.  The Parliamentary brigade commander led an attack across the bridge and ignoring fire from the light gun deployed and charged.  The gun crew routed and the infantry supporting them, although they charged the Royalists, were thrashed in the melee and joined the artillery crew routing from the field.  So, with the road to Oswestry open and no prospect of making progress with the cavalry I ordered the retreat.     

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Recon 2019

My usual meander through the Pennines and the Aire valley for the Recon show today.   There was a good range of traders attending though the number of games seemed to be down on last year.  Board games were well represented and looked to attract a steady stream of participants.  Steve and I were pleased with the way our game went; three battles, with one win each for the king and de Montfort.  The final game ran out of time with both sides looking decidedly punch drunk.

Here are a few photos

Prince Edward leads the royalist mounted troops out of Lewes

Gilbert de Clare leads his mounted sergeants against Robert de Bruce's levy foot

The king about to be captured by Simon de Montfort

Antony Bek captures the Montfortian baggage train
Here are a couple of other figure games

A WWII game based on the attack on St Lo

Nicely done scenery and good to see a WWII game which didn't have 'wall-to-wall' AFV's.  The other game looked to be a cold war clash in northern Germany, but on closer inspection was a sci-fi affair with what looked like hover tanks. 

The Wakefield club put on another well-organised show and are very welcoming to traders and gamers alike.  Thanks to Bob, Steve and Will for helping run the game; Dave and Lynne for logistic support (providing the teas ! ); but most of all to John, Andrew and Ben for joining in and trying out the rules.