Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Some more new recruits and a good read

With the weather being rather adverse last week Steve and I didn't meet up for our usual game.  However, I did manage to get some 'brush' time to finish off two small units of Janissaries, the first installment of what I hope will be a large force of Ottomans.  The figures came from ebay and are some vintage castings from Hinchliffe.  As with my Muscovites I will add in some TAG and Warlord command figures as I go along.   After stripping the figures back, the paint went on quite easily and although some modern figures are thought to have more animation, I prefer these 'old style' castings.

Steve and I have decided that for our Eastern Renaissance armies, the single weapon units will be 12, 18 or 24 strong, whilst the combined units (eg Soldatski) will be 16, 24 or 32 strong.  As the individual orta seem to have been quite small (although there were  over 100 of them according to the Osprey volume on them), the 12 figure unit was chosen, though they can be combined with others to make larger formations.

The colour scheme is based on the illustration from the front cover of the Osprey volume

I have also managed to finish a book I started reading over Christmas, 

The book covers the period from 1618-1918 and is an excellent read.  Most of the books I have read on the Napoleonic period (with the exception of Gunther Rothenberg and John Gill) tend to portray the Austrian army as hopelessly outclassed and being bundled from one defeat to another.  Bassett gives the reader an Austrian perspective which resets the balance.  It is not a quick read, over 500 pages, but it is well worth it.  My mint paperback copy came from a National Trust secondhand book shop for the princely sum of £3.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

On the steppes once more

Our most recent game was a return to the Eastern Renaissance and the continuing 'bickering' between the Muscovites and Cossacks.  I set up a fictional scenario with a Muscovite force moving to meet a raiding Cossack force.  Unusually, the Cossacks had forsaken their normal defensive tactics and met their opponents in the open.

The Muscovites had 6 units of noble levy (3 on each wing), with infantry, (3 units of Soldatski and 2 of Streltsy), plus artillery, (2 medium guns) in the centre.  Alongside the general were a unit of Reiter and his own bodyguard. Opposite them, the Cossacks deployed in a similar way, Four units of cavalry (2 per wing), with 3 units of Moloisty and two of musketeers, plus two light guns in the centre.  On the Cossack left wing were some woods and a small village and the Cossacks had placed a small unit of musketeers in the woods to fire on the flank of any passing enemy cavalry.

Muscovite infantry

Streltsy and artillery
Noble cavalry on the Muscovite left

Cossack infantry prepare to advance
The battle opened with a fairly rapid advance by the Noble levy on the Muscovite right.  Fire from the woods thinned the ranks a little, but not enough to cause the Muscovites to halt.  The remainder of the Muscovites were far more reluctant to move forward, particularly the Reiter and bodyguard; hardly the example the general would have wanted them to set.

For their part the Cossacks advanced slowly, keeping their line.  When in range the musketeers began to fire volleys at the Muscovite infantry inflicting significant casualties.  They were joined by the light artillery, which quickly found the range; unlike the Muscovite gunners, who failed to register a hit for some time.  The first clash came close to the village where the opposing cavalry met.  It was a rather one-sided affair, despite the numbers being equal.  The leading Cossack unit routed back and the Noble Levy swept on to melee the supports; pushing them back as well.

The Noble Levy prevail
On the opposite flank the Noble Levy at last began to move forward, but were unable to make their numbers count.  A stalemate developed with first one side being pushed back and then the other.  Valuable assistance was given to the Cossack cavalry by a unit of musketeers who fired volleys at the Muscovite cavalry.

In the centre, the slow advance of the Muscovite infantry continued, their ranks thinned by the Cossack volleys.  Seizing the initiative the Cossack infantry charged and a fierce melee took place in the centre.

Battle is joined on the Cossack left centre

And on the right
The two streltsy units fared badly, even though they had the berdische axe, and they both routed.  However, the Soldatski stood their ground and pushed back the Moloisty.  Again the light artillery intervened.  Their fire dissuaded the Soldatski from following up, giving the Moloisty time to recover. 

A unit of streltsy rout
On the Cossack left matters had reached a critical stage.  One unit of musketeers had gone to the aid of the Cossack cavalry and they with one of the light guns held off a combined attack by a unit of Soldatski and cavalry.  The cost to the Cossack cavalry was high, with the remnants of both units fleeing from the field.

The end for the Cossack left wing
A new left wing was formed from the musketeers and a unit of Moloisty, and with the pressure lessening in the centre, the Cossack commander thought he may have a chance of victory.  However, the Muscovite artillery now began to make an impact.  Their fire slowly but surely ground down the Cossack infantry, weakening them to such an extent that a renewed attack by the Soldatski, supported by the Reiter and bodyguard began to push them back.  It was at this point that the Russian left wing cavalry charged towards the centre, scattering a unit of Moloisty which tried to hold them back.

The collapse of the Cossack left
With the Cossack right wing cavalry eventually being driven off by their opponents, the day was lost for the Cossacks. 

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Short break

Five days on the east coast, in February?  We must have been mad.  When we arrived at Whitby, it looked like a bad decision.  Rain and thick fog the order of the day.

The view from our room
Happily, things brightened up considerably the following day and we had sunshine for the remainder of our stay.

Down by the harbour is Battery Parade and in recognition of it's former purpose a 12lb naval gun is on display.

By the beginning of the 20th century the battery was long gone.  In 1914, the Germans found the town undefended when they bombarded it.  [details here] .  A memorial to the event can be found on the cliff top.

The clock on the mantlepiece and the cat silhouette by the window are nice touches.

We had a trip over to Pickering and visited the parish church.  On the walls of the nave can be seen some wall paintings dating from the mid 15th century.

S George

Martyrdom of St Edmund
If you haven't visited the North Yorkshire coast already there is plenty to see.  However, if go in any season other than summer be sure to take warm clothing, (even in summer it is a good idea to have some with you).

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Battle of San Giovese

One again we are in Italy, recording the ongoing struggles of the French and Imperialists for control of that land.  The action centres on the convent of San Giovese which sits next to a vital crossroads; vital because the roads in question are the quickest route between the respective camps and the best inns in the region.  Le Compte de Carignan, the French commander, has determined that he will seize the initiative and has ordered his forces to move forward to the crossroads.  The way was led by his cavalry in two brigades, under le Duc de Gamay and le Marquis de Merlot.  Each brigade has two units of gendarmes, a unit of men at arms and a unit of stradiots.  Behind them came the Swiss contingent under Lord Landroter, (2 units of pike, 2 units of arquebusiers and a small unit of halberdiers, plus a light gun) and the Compte's own command, 2 units of pike, a unit of arquebusier and a medium gun.

The crossroads from behind the Imperialist right wing.
The view from behind the Imperialist left wing
Le Compte concentrated his infantry for the attack on the convent and place the cavalry on his right, in the more open terrain.  As the French advanced they found that their opponents had also advanced in force.  The Duke of Tempranillo had received a report that the French were moving and resolved to forestall them.  He too had placed his two brigades of cavalry on the open flank; the Count of Barbera, (2 units of gendarmes, a unit of men at arms and a unit of mounted crossbows), being joined by the Duke of Trebbiano, (a unit of gendarmes, 2 units of men at arms and a unit of mounted arqubusiers).  The Imperialist foot had Graf von Spatburgunder with his landsknechts, a unit of arquebusiers and a light gun on the right, and Tempranillo himself, with two units of pike, a unit of arquebusiers, a unit of swordsmen and a light gun in the centre.

Carignon's command advance
Carignon led his men forward, the pikes heading for the landsknechts, the arquebusiers for the walled convent precinct.  In the centre, the much vaunted (and well paid) Swiss seemed reluctant to commit themselves.  Landroter was evidently taking great pains to make sure his unit commanders knew exactly what their orders were!  Gamay's cavalry, with the exception of the stardiots, also milled about aimlessly.  However, Merlot's men needed no urging, as they responded eagerly to the order to advance.  Indeed, Trebbiano's arquebusiers, who he had hoped would harass the plodding approach of the gendarmes, were all too soon racing back for the security of their own lines and disordering the leading unit, the men at arms, in the process.

The dithering Swiss

Gamay's reluctant cavalry
The clash, when it came, was brief.  The Imperialist men at arms were hit at the halt by their heavier opponents and were soon racing for the safety of their camp.  Behind them the leading unit of gendarmes ignored the fleeing rabble and  met the rampaging French gendarmes with resolve.  Casualties were heavy on both sides, but it was the French who pulled back to reform.

The heavy cavalry clash
Barbera was having more success.  Taking advantage of the dithering of Gamay, his cavalry took the low hill and had the briefest of chances to fall on the open flank of Merlot's command.  However, at that point indecision prevailed and the chance was gone.  With the enemy now clearly in view all dithering by Gamay ceased and his units were soon advancing to meet their foes.

In the centre, the Swiss still prevaricated, a tentative advance by the arquebusiers was soon stopped and Tempranillo was able to get his men forward to the crossroads without hindrance.  On the Imperialist right, Spatburgunder managed to win the race to the convent, with his arquebusiers taking up positions where they could fire on the French as they crossed the wall.  The landsknecht pikes advanced in support and the leading unit was soon engaged with a unit of French pikes.  The French were defeated and fell back, disorganising their supports.  Sensing an opportunity, the landsknechts charged again, but this time were defeated and had to retreat themselves.

The Imperial centre advances
The landsknechts advance
 After a strong reminder from Carignan on the terms of his contract of employment, Landroter eventually moved his men forward.  To his right Gamay's cavalry had by now wrested control of the hill from Barbera following a determined resistance from the Imperialist gendarmes.

Gamay overcomes Barbera
Merlot had by now driven Trebbiano's remaining men from the field and was manoeuvring to advance on the Imperialist centre.  Tempranillo's men, having advanced so easily, now found themselves having to fight desperately to hold their position.  Landroter's arquebusiers outnumbered them and their fire was slackening as casualties mounted.  Then, over the hill came one of the Swiss pike blocks.  Tempranillo sent a unit of pikes to stop it, but it was like trying to stop a battering ram with a snowball.  The first waverings in the Imperialist pikemen were seen before the two units came into contact.  In seconds it was all over, the remnants of the Imperialist unit fled to the rear.  The pressure was now increasing dramatically for the Imperialists.

The Swiss advance
There is no stopping the Swiss !
Would the landsknechts regain the initiative?  This was not to be their day.  Twice they charged the French pikes and twice they were beaten off.  The second time so disordered that it would take some time before they could resume the fray.  In the convent, the French arquebusiers gained the upper hand and forced the Imperialists to retreat.  From the convent precinct they could now bring fire onto the flank of Carignan's command as it attempted to halt the seemingly inexorable advance of the Swiss.

The landsknechts retreat

The final position
Plainly the day was lost, so the Imperialists fell back, relinquishing command of the crossroads to their opponents.  Perhaps there would be a good inn somewhere else?

Many thanks to Steve for devising the scenario.  A most enjoyable game, (even though I came second).

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Trycziner Hof, 11th October 1812: a Shako scenario

This week's game returned to the Napoleonic period, but is something a little unusual.  The main protagonists are the Russians and Austrians, two armies which are usually allied against the French.  However, during the Russian campaign, the Austrians were required to provide a corps of troops to form the force guarding Napoleon's southern flank.  As autumn drew on the Austrians began to withdraw westwards, 'encouraged' all the way by the Russians.  The Austrians, with their Saxon allies, made a stand at Trycziner Hof, blocking the crossing of the Muchavietz river by the road from Brest Litovsk to Kobryn.  The area near the bridge is swampy and there are two fords, passable to infantry and cavalry but not artillery.


At Klinicky on the western bank of the Muchavietz, Frimont (3 battalions of Grenz, 2 skirmisher units, a regiment of Hussars and a horse gun) had failed to destroy the bridge, but had erected a barricade to slow the expected Russian attack.  Near Pecky, Rosenberg, the Austrian commander, had two divisions, Weiss (6 battalions and a foot battery) and Meyer (6 battalions and a foot battery).

Across the river Kamensky (8 battalions and a foot battery) was preparing to attack Frimont..  Osten-Sacken, the Russian commander had two further divisions arriving, Berg (8 battalions and a foot battery) and Glukov (2 regiments of light cavalry and two of cossacks).

The objective for both commanders is to hold at least two of the crossings.  In the case of the bridge this means control of the village of Klinicky.  At the start of the game the two commanders have the decision of where to commit their two on-field divisions.  In addition, both could have additional forces arriving depending on dice rolls.  A roll of the dice allocated command of the Austrians to Steve, meaning that I commanded the Russians.   We each decided on the orders for our two arriving divisions and then placed them on the table. 

The view from behind the Russian position.  Kamensky's division are ready to attack across the bridge.  The white threads show the deployment areas for the arriving divisions.  I opted to send Berg's division to the right and Glukhov to the left.  Steve sent Weiss to oppose Glukhov and Meyer to the other ford.

As the attackers, the Russians had the initiative and began to move forward.  I had hoped that the cavalry would win the race to the ford on my left, but Steve managed to get Weiss's men there first.  Faced with a solid infantry line, supported by artillery, it was obvious that I was not going to make much progress without infantry support.  Therefore the cavalry fell back screened by the cossacks.

In the centre, the first attack, by both battalions of the 26th Jaeger  charged over the bridge.  The 1st battalion  was hit by artillery fire and then  sniped at by Frimont's skirmishers.  nevertheless they prepared to charge.  Behind the barricade, the Deutsch Banater Grenz prepared to repel the Russians.  A close range volley stopped the jaeger in their tracks.  A second volley ripped through the ranks and then a third, which completed the units destruction.  Swept up by the fleeing ruin of the 1st battalion, the 2nd fell back over the bridge to regroup.  Osten-Sacken reinforced Kamensky's divisional artillery with a 12lb battery and ordered the artillery to 'soften up' the defenders before another attack was launched.

The defences of Klinicky
On the right, a foot race developed between Berg and Meyer's divisions.  Berg won by a whisker, but the initial attack by the Bielevski regiment was repulsed with heavy losses.  Soon volleys were being exchanged across the waters of the  Muchavietz and losses began to mount for both sides.  Berg had the advantage of a 12lb battery which soon began to cut a swathe through the Austrian ranks.  Meyer was determined to seize the initiative and ordered 3rd battalion Deutschmeister to attack.  The Austrian veterans stromed across the ford and made short work of the 2nd battalion New Ingermanland regiment.  However, their success isolated them.  Suffering volleys of canister at short range and then charged by a fresh battalion the Austrians were all but destroyed.  Their supports, the 1st battalion Lindenau were also subjected to close range artillery fire and destroyed as a fighting force.

The Austrian attack across the ford
In the centre, the Russian artillery was pounding away at Frimont's position.  Casualties were being inflicted, but on the supporting units not the grenzers manning the barricade.  A second attack, led by the jaeger, but supported by the Suzdal regiment, again reached the defences, but was repelled by the gallant grenzers.  

More troops now began to arrive.  Rosenberg received Reynier's Westphalian division (7 battalions and a foot battery) and Hessen's grenadiers (2 battalions).  For the moment he held these in reserve.  Osten Sacken also received reinforcements, Neverovsky's division (8 battalions) and Raevsky's grenadiers (4 battalions).  Neverovsky was immediately sent to the left to support Glukhov, whilst the grenadiers were held in reserve.

The Austrian grenadiers advance
On the Russian right, Berg sensed the initiative was moving in his direction.  Two of Meyer's battalions were Landwehr and they were struggling to maintain their place in the line.  1st battalion Deutschmeister had taken heavy casualties and had to fall back.  He ordered forward the fresh battalions of the Alexopol regiment and they surged over the ford.  The attack was preceded by artillery fire which destroyed the Viennese Landwehr and drove back the remaining Deutschmeister battalion.  Meyer's command was disintegrating and he began to fall back towards the village of Pecky.  Rosenberg immediately ordered Reynier and Hessen to the right to contain Berg's attack.

Berg's decisive attack
Kamensky now ordered a third attack on the defences of Klinicky.  This made no more progress than the preceding attacks, but it did maintain the pressure on the Austrian centre. 

At this point, time caught up with us.  The Austrians were awarded a victory  They held two crossings and even if Berg did break through the new defensive line it would take too long to be decisive.    

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Vapnartak 2018

February traditionally sees the first 'show trip' of the wargaming year to York for Vapnartak.  This year Steve and I were not involved in putting on a game for the Lance & Longbow, just doing a voluntary stint on the society stand.  We arrived at the venue just before 10 to find a sizable queue, but once the appointed hour arrived this shuffled pretty quickly into the building. 

The ground floor was its usual bustling throng, so I headed up to the second mezzanine where the smaller, participation games were on show.   The first to catch my eye was Actium by East Leeds Militaria Society Wargames Club. 

The splendid triremes are from DarkOps and the figures from Gripping Beast and Foundry.

There was also this game from, I think, the Harrogate Club? .

There was a demonstration of Arcworld game system from Warplaque

The terrain was very well done.

An adjacent game used the Sharpe Practice rules for a Renaissance scenario

On the ground floor were the larger games.  Two were more static displays than games, a fictional scenario for the 3rd battle of Preston, 1745.

and a fantasy game

The best game was the one from South London Warlords, set in the Sudan.

The show had the usual good range of traders, with plenty of tempting products on offer, just as well I had prepared a list, otherwise a bit too much cash may have left my wallet!  All in all an excellent day out.    Congratulations to the York Club for their organisation of the event.