Friday, 30 May 2014

An 'up and down' couple of weeks ..... but progress.

After my customary recent blip - "give it up, sell up, do something else" etc - I have now settled back into continuing the Napoleonic armies. It was always going to happen, because it always does, but for now I'm going to keep focused and carry on! So I cleaned up the wobbly last couple of posts and on we go.

Painting time has been at a premium with so much going on around here, family staying over, daughters all home together, their cousin back from Uni and sleeping over, Grandaughter sleeping over (when her Mother finally managed to get her off to sleep each night). Things are just beginning to settle down again.

A few late night sessions has seen a few more 15mm Essex figures painted, another Russian militia battalion and a French legere battalion. A few pics below, you can see that I added standard bearer head conversions to the militia, and for now they fly flags more accurately suited I would guess to the Moscow Opolchenie of the 1812 campaign period. The golden cross flag is from Rafas site I think ( I must add a link to my blogs list), and the icon banner was a print off which was heavily over painted for impact. The cross and staff was made from pins and superglue plus buff thread, all suitably painted gold. These units have borrowed the flags from two planned Opolchenie in long coats and fur hats, some with pikes, others with muskets.... they have promised to give them back once painted.

The caisson model was a gift from Tony (Foy) and will be put to good use as a marker possibly, whatever, it's a fine little model and well painted (as it arrived). It just had to have a little scenic base to set it off!

Commands & Colors scenario - Champaubert 10th february 1814.

Image from C&
With lots going on I have been escaping upstairs to the spare room now and then where my Commands & Colors Napoleonics board is usually left set up. A flick through the scenario booklet and Champaubert looked like an easy one to set up, and I did not realise until it was physically set up just how impossible this one must be for the Russians to get even close to winning. Still, it was fun and really fast flowing, and even though the French 5 command card hand was not the best and the Russian 4 card hand was stronger, there could be no stopping the French central onslaught. Interestingly this scenario rated all the French line infantry as conscripts so they do not get the usual +1 dice advantage over other infantry in melee. It was over quite quickly, once the French stopped to exchange musketry their additional weight and firepower told, one lucky volley routing a Russian line unit and killing its attached general. The French advanced and the centre broke, 5 to 2 Victory Points in favour of the French.
The set up.

This was a strong move.

5 to 2 VP's- the Russian centre smashed.
I now have the follow up scenario Montmiral - 11th Frebruary 1814 set and I'm going to creep up there in a few minutes for a few opening moves. This is a totally different proposition, the Russians are far stronger and in a great position.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Tweaking the Russians.

As it would appear that I'll be hanging on to these for while longer I decided to keep going with the painting. I decided to add command figures to the Russian hussars and lancers and add a few more cossacks including a command pack. I have in mind to rework the Cuirassiers slightly too

While I'm obviously a fan of Essex figures the Russian Dragoons castings had been bothering me for some time - the short sword attached to the helmet comb just looks wrong - so I took an intake of breath and snapped the swords from the helmet, bent the arms into a more convincing position and then cut off the swords. I then drilled a 0.5mm hole into the sword guard and inserted the pointy end of a pin into the hole, glueing with superglue. It was a fiddly job, I'd not done this with 15mm figures before, but went well, it took me roughly 45 minutes to complete this little conversion but I think the results were well worth it. The unit looks far more animated now. I might do more of this, in fact I have had a unit of French line lancers sitting in the box for weeks but have been put off by the position of the lance. A quick experiment indicated how easy it actually is to snap the hand off the thigh of the figure, give the arm a bend so that the lance will now be upright, much much better. They are now on the painting list.

Finally, a thank you to Michael Mills for the recent words of support and encouragement and the nomination for a Leibster.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Commands & Colors Bash - part 2.

Following on from yesterdays post here is the report of the game. As I said, I just wanted to get everything painted so far on the table for a battle and so decided on a simple attack/defence situation, with the Russians as defenders of a three hex town plus a redoubt. I formed up the French in classic style with light infantry beginning mostly under cover of the woods, backed up by solid columns of line infantry supported by artillery. Plan was to open the battle with a general assault on the town, hoping that the defenders would be softened up by the artillery before the lights emerged from the woods to lead the attack followed by the line troops. French line infantry throw an additional dice when fighting other infantry, which I hoped would go some way to compensating for the -2 dice when fighting against a defended town hex or -1 against field works hex. But things did not go to plan.

I dealt six card hands in the hope that a good spread of command cards would help keep things flowing, but the French hand was weak in centre cards and frustratingly it remained that way through the game. As a result the French were unable to press as I wanted through the centre and I was forced to hold back a 'bayonet charge' card for several turns as I just could get the French infantry into the position where I could use it most effectively. By the time I could the Russians had gained the upper hand in Victory Points, mostly by ranged combat and a cavalry charge on the left flank where cuirassiers saw off two units of light cavalry, forcing both to retreat with losses.

The French light infantry went forward and exchanged musketry, but the -2 dice throws were telling and they suffered heavily from musket and artillery fire. The Russian command hand was solid, a good spread of cards and some valuable centre cards plus a 'fire and hold' card. French artillery were advanced to within 3 hex range but were out gunned by the Russians who forced them to limber up and retire, which in turn caused something of a bottleneck just as the infantry were trying to get forward. In C&C Napoleonics there is no 'passing through' or 'passage of lines' so it's important to keep this in mind when planning attacks as things can get stalled and any troops falling back on flag throws can find themselves in a situation where they lose additional blocks as a result of not being able to retire full distance. So you have to keep troops well supported in order to cancel out flag rolls. but you also have to leave spaces for units to advance or fall back through, a key skill of good C&C game play I would say.

The cossacks proved pretty much useless I have to say, they were held back in order to attack depleted French units, but even a combat against a single block French light unit ended with the cossacks removed from the table. A similar attack on a horse artillery battery reduced to a single block also ended in defeat for a two block cossack unit, fortunately no Victory Points are gained for destroying cossack units.

When finally the French infantry did close with the Russians defending the town on the bayonet charge card luck went against them, and in one combat an intact Russian battalion 'battling back' threw two infantry symbols and two sabre symbols routing the French battalion and gaining a victory point in one swoop. Two more victory points were gained by defeating two of the French light units, who suffered heavily.

I ended the game once the Russians had gained five VP's and to be honest the momentum of the French attack was lost by then along the centre. game lasted under two hours and was great fun to play. Maybe the three hex town was a little too strong, but the French plans were badly affected by the lack of central command cards and line infantry units just could not get up fast enough to press the attack. On a positive French note a unit of dragoons routed a unit of Russian heavies for a VP, but this had no impact upon the main situation.

As usual I took pictures at various stages, again some are not great but will do to illustrate the flow of the battle. All figures are by Essex Miniatures of course.


Saturday, 10 May 2014

C&C Napoleonics - first bash!

First time on the pitch for these boys after several months of painting, I'm very happy with them and I think they do retain a certain 'Old school' charm these Essex Miniatures figures and I'm glad I decided to go with them again. More will certainly follow and I'll be starting on the British next.

I played this game through this morning and was surprised how familiar I am with the rules now and only rarely need to re check the book, as today with cavalry breakthrough charges, quick and easy to look up. The two sided quick reference sheets as supplied with the Spanish and Russian expansions are first class, the game rattled along. To begin with I thought I would quickly post a few set up shots here, which I hope shows the general dispositions of both armies. I had a lot of fun playing with my toy soldiers, and that was my main intention.

It's not a scenario as such just a French force ordered to attack and take the central town and defences - a Victory Point for each of the 4 hexes they can take and hold, but it's a tough proposition, those Russians are stubborn (and ignore 1 retreat flag), and there are lots of cannon.

Lighting was not great to begin with but the battle pics should be better. Back with more pics and battle report tomorrow.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A prelude to battle.

I'm planning to fight a Commands & Colors battle at the weekend - I can wait no longer! As the larger scale hex terrain is still some way off yet I'm going to use the S&A felt mat for now, which has been - not completely accurately - marked up in 95mm hex dots. I was going to use the old 95mm hex terrain bases but once I had placed a few trees and buildings I was struck by how 'conventional' looking the table became, to my eyes at least. I like this clean look. If only there was a way to add hills without conforming strictly to the hex grid shape ...... I'm giving it some thought.

Anyway, the game will feature all of my French and Russian troops, now edging towards the 400 figure mark. Just a good old fashioned game of soldiers, I won't be playing a scenario just lining up both sides for a 5 VP encounter, probably a couple of hours or less. It will be first time on the table for this collection and I'll take the customary photos and do a short write up of the main events.

Pic shows the mat ( folds and creases be easily ironed out if required ) with a few basic terrain items.

Commission work.
Slow but steady progress, just the final six command figures of the 54 figure 20mm ECW unit for Graham to go, I'll get some pics up here shortly.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Introducing the 125mm Super hex!

I have had a lot on my mind this past couple of weeks, much of it focused upon the question of what size hex I will use for fighting future C&C battles with my Napoleonics. I still have loads of the old 95mm hex terrain from the 6mm version a couple of years ago, but with terrain items beginning to arrive here it has become clear that I need something just a bit bigger in order to achieve my objectives. I have been playing around with cut out paper hexes in various sizes before finally settling on the larger 125mm hex as featured below. I ordered some from Tony at ERM - I told him I think I am becoming addicted to MDF! - and soon as they arrived and I placed some figures on them I knew they were perfect. Reasons for this?

  • The columns look just about right in that space.
  • I can now fit a building plus a couple of trees and still have room for four bases of troops.
  • The table area expands to more conventional 5' x 4'.
  • A four base unit can now deploy in line formation which may be visually better for British troops etc when I get round to them.
So 125mm hex it is then. I will put Hexon on the backburner for the foreseeable future. Plan now is to make a two piece hex grid table 13 x 9 hexes very similar to that of Tony, as you can see HERE. I'm going flock free with this board as I really like the combination of shades that Tony used and this will of course be carried across hill and river hexes etc. Building will be freestanding and can be shifted as required.  

I painted up the first of the new 10mm scale building from Timecast - these are from the 'Leipzig' range. I think the scale is just right for my 15mm figures. The trees are from S&A scenics and I really like them. I ordered some too large to begin with but Simon at S&A exchanged them for a smaller size with no hassle at all, top notch service from them. I ordered a second batch so I now have 20 lovely little model trees, great product.

Quiet afternoon here so decided to take a few example pictures for the blog of the new hexes, listened to Football focus and enjoyed a couple of bottles of beer as I set up the shots.