Monday, 16 May 2016

....and they're off!.... It's Copenhagen by a nose...........

It has been some time in coming but, at last, the Peninsular War Project has begun. I'm very excited at the prospect of getting a new period onto my table.

It has been several years since I last painted a British Peninsular War unit (for a client, I've never painted one for myself) so I thought I'd begin by doing a practice unit to get my eye in, so to speak. Consequently, this unit has taken several hours longer than most units will in the future because I've had to continually check things by looking them up in my books and via google. A recent purchase of note is British Napoleonic Uniforms by C.E. Franklin which has prints of just about every piece of equipment and weapon from several angles, not to mention a page of plates on the uniform for every British regiment - highly recommended. Unfortunately, it doesn't cover the uniforms of the KGL and hence the Google searches because, of course, that's exactly where I've started. 

My first three units will be the 1st, 2nd and 5th Battalions of the King's German Legion for Von Lowe's Brigade of 1st Division.

So here is the practice unit for the British: 1st Battalion KGL. 

It comprises 28 figures (Front Rank Figurines), including representative skirmishers. It is painted in Humbrol enamels and the flags are by Flags for the Lads (flags very kindly donated to the project by a reader).

I have chosen to base the unit, after much thought, on six bases, each 40 mm x 40 mm, because: 

  • Six stands seems to be optimal for representing formations on the table.
  • Because it will be best for French units in the future.
  • A unit frontage (in line) of 240 mm will allow both infantry (24 figures) and cavalry units (12 figures) to have the same frontage.

 The Basing system has its downsides for British infantry, in that two stands have to be used for 'over sized' flank companies, but I understand this is a frequently used compromise and will be hardly noticeable in play.

 I really like these new 'reinforcement pack' figures by Front Rank. The belts and lace are well defined and, the fudged lace pattern on the front of the jacket allows this usually difficult lace to be done with very clean lines with the minimum of time and effort: I applaud Alec for his forethought for the figure painter. 

Choosing to go down the pre-printed flag route, rather than hand painting my own, was a difficult decision. However, since discovering acrylic ink blocks (you use them like water paint blocks but they are indelible), painting away the white paper line with flag matching colour has become much, much easier. I use Inktense Blocks by Derwent in the basic box set of 12. Properly finished, I've become a convert and a big fan of pre-printed paper flags.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way this first unit came out. If you spot any glaring mistakes I'd appreciate the heads up.

Next up, 2nd and 5th Battalions KGL.

EDIT

I asked for glaring mistakes to be pointed out to me and one has been (by Rob Bresnen over at LAF). Over breakfast coffee, killing that hour between my son getting up and going to school, all was made right: I prized off the rear rank figures, corrected the mistake and glued the figures back again. 

MISTAKE: The backpacks of the KGL line battalions were painted dark blue (black for light battalions) and when the general order came, in 1808, to paint them black they ignored it.

This was a mistake I was happy to correct. Firstly, it was simple to correct; secondly it's a very nice KGL distinction.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Battle Of Lobositz October 1st 1756 - the order of battle.


As some of you will know, I plan on taking this game to the Derby later this year and I don't want a last minute rush to work things out so, with help from the Lads, I'm going to get the scenario sorted out over the next two to three weeks.

Last week Peter and I spent an evening talking through the battle and working out one of the harder parts to get right - Gessler's suicidal cavalry attack. The discussion has led to some slight alterations to the initial set up.

Firstly, the road network between Lobositz and Sullowitz has been altered. The bend at the Sullowitz end of the sunken road has been made into a shallow 'S' bend. This 'fudge' was made in an attempt to bring the Morellenbach forward, immediately at the 'old' turn in the road, to allow a greater depth of deployment behind it and allow room for a ford giving access to the area lying behind the sunken road. This is more important than I at first thought.

Secondly, although I changed this shortly after my last post on the Lobositz set up, you will note that Sullowitz has been shifted farther to the left and the Park's woodland has been omitted.

Thirdly, I have managed to compress the depth of the Prussian deployment area allowing Wchinitz and the Prussian line to be pulled back a few inches towards the Prussian baseline. The initial deployment, especially of Gessler's cavalry, is no longer strictly historically accurate but this has not significantly changed the tactical situation. The reason for the change is to widen the no-man's land between the armies. This will be useful for the cavalry to manoeuvre in. To the same end, the Graben stream has been shifted and extended somewhat to channel any move made by Gessler's cavalry towards the sunken road.

Purists will read this with their heads in their hands, cursing me for playing with geography. Of course, this assumes that the first set up was geographically correct in the first place which, of course, it wasn't: for me to accurately fit this game on a single table would require it to be nine feet deep! It is nearly always difficult, if not impossible, to represent a historical battle, using 28mm figures, with a wholly accurate ground scale; compression, especially of the depth of ground, in most cases, is mandatory. Having said that, in my opinion, the tactical problems are still the same because table depth is usually much less important than an accurate frontage in most 'line 'em up' combats which, in essence, the Lobositz deployment is.

The battlefield now looks like this.

ORDER OF BATTLE

As previously stated I have amalgamated information from three sources to set up this scenario, all of which differ slightly, to come up with a set up that best suits the game. Consequently, this set up doesn't exactly match any of them but, if they can't agree why should I?

The OOB for this action is roughly based on a unit of line infantry representing a two battalion regiment, a unit of light infantry representing a single battalion, and a unit of cavalry representing a cavalry regiment of five to six squadrons. All units have the same frontage. One or two minor fudges have been made to accommodate this structure but the overall proportions and composition of the forces have not been unduly altered. 

The size of gun batteries has been decided somewhat more arbitrarily. The Austrian batteries have been designated as two guns strong. The Prussian batteries, being somewhat larger than the Austrian batteries (in number or weight of shot), have been designated as three guns strong.

I have used, to a great extent, the command structure given by Jeff Berry on his excellent Obscure Battles web site, which has, by the way, the most comprehensive single account of the battle I've come across. The one major difference in command structure, and jaunt into fantasy on my part, is my use of Hadik. In reality he should be in command of some of the cavalry under Radacati. Hadik is surplus to gaming requirements in this role but, for ease of play, the Austrians are a 'brigadier' short to command the grenadiers and so forth out in front of Lobositz and in the sunken road (actually part of Lacy's division) and, as this command would put Hadik in approximately the right place at the right time (and rather than have Blankety von Blank), I have re-assigned Hadik to it.


AUSTRIAN

Commander-in-Chief: Maximilian Ulysses von Browne rated as 'skilled'.

Kollowrat: rated as 'average'.

  • 9 units of German musketeers 
  • 1 unit of Hungarian musketeers 
  • 1 two gun battery of medium guns

Hadik: rated as 'average'. (see note above)

  • 3 units of combined grenadiers 
  • 1 unit of Grenzers 
  • 1 two gun battery of heavy guns

Lacy: rated as 'average'.

  • 4 units of German musketeers 
  • 1 unit of Hungarian musketeers 

Draskowitz: rated as 'average'

  • 4 units of Grenzers

Lucchese: rated as 'average'

  • 6 units of Cuirassier 
  • 1 unit of Dragoons

Radacati: rated as 'skilled'.

  • 2 units of Cuirassier 
  • 2 units of Horse Grenadiers 
  • 1 unit of Dragoons 
  • 2 units of Hussars


PRUSSIAN

Commander-in-Chief: Friedrich Der Grosse rated as 'skilled'.

Prince von Preussen: rated as 'average'.

  • 5 units of Musketeers 
  • 1 unit of Fusiliers 
  • 2 units of Combined Grenadiers

Bevern: rated as 'skilled'.

  • 4 units of Musketeers

Gessler: rated as 'poor'.

  • 5 units of Cuirassier 
  • 2 units of Dragoons 
  • 1 unit of Hussars

Pennavaire: rated as 'average'.

  • 3 units of Cuirassier (including 1 guard) 
  • 2 units of Dragoons.

Moller: rated as 'skilled'.

  • 3 three gun batteries of heavy guns

Next up, the scenario special rules and notes.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Austrian Army finished - ROLL CALL!

It's done! The Austrian army is finished and ready to go on campaign. Time for a parade.


You can't have a parade without officers. A C-in-C stand and eight 'brigadiers'.
The dragoon regiments. Seven regiments in total, including two in horse grenadier uniform pictured just behind the cuirassiers. They are, front to back, DR 31, 6, 28, 38, iii, and in horse grenadier dress DR 1 and 37.
The cuirassier regiments. Eight units in all: they are, front to back, left to right, CR 25, 21, 12, 29, 8, iii, 14 and 23.
The hussar regiments. Five units in all: they are, front to back, HR 11, 32, 2, 30, 24.
The German musketeer regiments. Eighteen in total (including two combined grenadier units): they are, front to back, left to right, IR 36, 10, 47, 22, 41, 14, two combined grenadiers, IR 29, 3, 23, 50, 28, 12, 59 and 1.
The Hungarian musketeer regiments. Four in total (including one combined grenadier unit): they are, front to back, IR 31, 2, 37 and one combined grenadier.
The Artillery. Twelve guns including one howitzer. 

This may be the only place I might make an additional purchase; I might buy another one or three howitzers, without crew, to swap with guns to give a better historical mix.
The Grenzers. 

There are eight units in total from three districts. 

Front to back, there are three Karlstadter units, two Warisdiner units and three Slavonisch units.

Each represents a battalion rather than a regiment.
So there you have it. My Austrian army. It is fifty six units strong and comprises 168 mounted, 640 foot and 12 guns.

My Seven Years War collection is now officially my largest. With the fifty units of Prussians and fifty six units of Russians I can reveal it now comprises:


  • 162 units.
  • 530 mounted figures. 
  • 2,055 foot figures. 
  • 36 guns.

That makes a grand total of  2,641 figures: Wow, they soon add up. There are also some civilians and some transport wagons and a coach with teams but they just confuse the count and can't shoot anyway.

I suppose the question now is, have I finished, and the answer is probably not. At some point I'll probably buy a few howitzers for the Austrians and Prussians, a further battery of guns and a few heavy unicorns for the Russians, some limbers and teams, and a pontoon train. I will also, at some point, buy a load of French and Indian War stuff for large skirmishes, but apart from some civilians and limbers / wagons the collections will have little crossover potential so I'll count those 'armies' as a separate collection anyway.

Unlike my Punic collection, which absolutely dragged after the first 1800 figures, I've enjoyed painting these to the very end. I do hope I feel the same about my next project. This has been a long time coming and I've prevaricated for far too long. The next new painting you see will Front Rank Napoleonic figures for my Peninsular War collection. I've recently finished re-sorting through all 28 Kg in the lead pile, and even added a further couple of hundred pounds worth at Christmas to cover one or two first order blunders, so with fifty three units all bagged up I'm all set to go.

Next on the blog, Lobositz 1756 which I'm preparing for Derby, then a Bohemian Blitzkrieg campaign - well now I've painted the bloody things I'd best get playing with them!

Seven Years War Austrians - finished!

At long last, I've managed to squeeze in some work on my own figures and get the last of my Seven Years War Austrian army finished. It has been a long time coming and I'm not only pleased but, frankly, relieved.

So, here are the latest additions: 3 units of cuirassiers, a unit of dragoons, a unit of horse grenadiers and three units of hussars. All are Front Rank figures. These units bring the Austrian cavalry count up to twenty units. 



This is DR 1 Erzherzog Joseph. I have painted it as its elite company of horse grenadiers. I have done this so that it can be used either as DR 1 or to represent a unit of combined elite companies from several regiments as the need arises.



This is DR iii Althann. This unit did not see that much war service and I chose it for other reasons. The first reason is aesthetic: it is the only regiment with a white coat and it has a nice easily recognisable flag. The second is that it has a very similar uniform to that of the cuirassiers, especially from the back, so if the need arises I can probably get away with designating it as a 'cuirassier stand in'. It's another multi-purpose unit.



 Three units of cuirassier. CR 8 Palffy, CR 12 Serbelloni and CR 25 Anhalt - Zerbst.

I did CR 8 Palffy, because it has a nice flag, an imperial eagle on one side and a simple to do crest, possibly representing a stag 'rampant' and a wheel.



HR 2 Kaiser. A rather nice, simple combination of colours. Front Rank hussars are ever so nice to paint. I suppose it is the lace that puts a lot of people off painting them but I think they are some of the prettiest troops on a SYW battlefield so well worth any extra effort.



HR 11 Nadasdy. I'm never sure about troops wearing green but these turned out rather well. The riderless horse is not a mistake on my part. I bought two 'unit packs' of twelve hussars each from Front Rank, each pack was delivered short of its standard bearer. I thought about giving Alec a ring (you always get great customer service from Alec and Elaine) but then thought that when they came I'd not only have to paint the figures but also two more flags, and unlike other cavalry in this range the hussar horses come with shabraques, making the horses ideal 'casualty' figures, so I demurred. The effect is, I think, rather pleasing.



Lastly, HR 32 Szechenyi. Another stunning combination of colours.

So that's it. Job done, the Austrians are finished. Next post, in a few hours time, will be an Austrian Army ROLL CALL!!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Herr Schmied's house and smithy


A blacksmith's is another of those iconic war game buildings that I have somehow neglected until now. A smithy is easier to represent than most industrial buildings because it can be made with an open frontage to show the forge and an anvil. 


 Except for the inside of the smithy, this town section is a fairly basic construction. It is made in the same way as my other recently constructed buildings. The base and walls are MDF, the chimneys, brick work and timber framing and gate are balsa wood, the roofs are card. The windows and doors are by War Bases and the yard walls are railway accessories. 


Because this town section has two buildings it has two identifiable yards, one behind the house, the other in front of the smithy, each capable of holding a unit (four 45mm square bases) of troops but, because the overall base is only  8" x 9", it could easily be declared as a large one section piece.


Inside the smithy is the forge (with bellows), an anvil, a quenching barrel and a work bench. The forge has cat litter coals and a card cowl (out of shot but there). The anvil was made from a plastic matchstick from an old children's game set I ransacked years ago for tiddlywinks and other bits and pieces - I always knew those plastic match sticks would come in useful one day - mounted on a balsa wood block. 

So, now I have fourteen town sections for horse and musket battles set in northern Europe. Except for another church, I think I have enough for now. I certainly have enough for the Lobositz game at Derby later this year, which only needed nine.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Lobositz - first fix for Derby.

This week I've spent a little time working out a possible set up for Lobositz 1756 for the Derby World Wargames show later this year. Whilst doing so I wondered if people would be surprised at how I actually go about this because my methodology is actually rather adhoc and unscientific.

No matter how hard I try I never seem to be able to effectively do a layout using pen and paper. Whenever I try to do it things never quite transpose to the table properly. I find it much easier to do a layout directly onto the table then, if necessary, draw it afterwards. 

Stage one is to choose a historically based deployment map and OOB, in this case I drew on the information from three sources (1) mixing and matching at my whim.  

Then I layed out the troops using paper templates held in position by a 'paper weight' stand of the appropriate troop type. This effectively gives a ground scale based on unit frontage.

After laying out the troops in their starting positions I lay the terrain around them. 

I've always found this way of doing things far better than doing it the other way around because terrain can be made to fit troop frontages but, being fixed by base sizes, troops can't always be made to fit the terrain: It's ground scale by war game unit frontage.

In this shot you can see I've used, thin chain to roughly mark some of the contours. I've laid out the other terrain in some detail so that I can be sure what I have and what I might need - for example, I'm going to need to make at least another eight feet of vines for the walled vineyards on the Lobosch.


Leaving the chain on the table for sizing purposes and removing everything else, I then see what I can do about the hills. The hills for Lobositz are quite large features and they required me to cut some new pieces. 

This requirement actually led me to discover that the pink insulation board I have is the same thickness as the blue - I've always believed it was thinner - result! 

The Homolka required a few new end pieces and some 'square' filler sections to make the hills bigger than those I usually use.


The Lobosch is a volcanic mound with a classic volcano cone. Fortunately this cone was not fought over and the action took place on its much less steep lower slopes.

I made the first two contours with pre-existing shapes and some new 'square' fillers. I've subsequently made two new sloped pieces that are not shown in this photo.

  1. One to  replace the front slope of the second contour squaring it to the table edge and giving it an extended straight front slope.
  2. A new piece to replace the back left section of the first contour, squaring it to the table edge.

I've used a piece of 2" thick board to do the lower slopes of the cone making the Lobosch 5" high at its highest point.
After the hills shapes were made I relaid the cloth over the top and set everything else out properly. 

I'm short just three units of cavalry (which I have unpainted in the lead pile) and possibly two Prussian howitzers (which I may, or may not, buy) to replace gun models. For the purposes of the photographs I've substituted other units.

I think it looks pretty good.


The Prussian army deployed on the Homolka. 

The windmill is Wchinitz.

A strange fact came to light as I laid out the troops. I have twenty four units of Prussian infantry but not one of them actually fought at Lobositz. I'm not sure how that could have happened.
Bevern's infantry facing Austrian Grenzers on the Lobosch. 

This shot shows the new shape of the Lobosch (under the front rank Grenzers). The second new hill piece merely tidies up the cloth at the table edge.

Massed Prussian cavalry and guns between the Lobosch and Homolka.
Lobositz, featuring a partly finished building. This is Herr Schmied's house and smithy. I'll post some pictures of this building when it's finished as it has some nice details that you can't see in this shot.

You can just see Austrian infantry passing out of the town in column of route towards the right flank to support the defence of the Lobosch and, just behind them, the dark bend of the Elbe.

Between Lobositz and the bulk of the Austrian army behind the Morellenbach stream is a sunken road. I'm currently making a new piece of terrain to represent this.
The bulk of the Austrian army deployed in Sullowitz and beyond the Morellenbach.

Having set it up, of course, means we might as well fight it. 

.....to be continued.

Notes:
(1) Deployment maps and OOBs were from Duffy's The Army of Frederick the Great, the official German High Command map from Kronoskaf Seven Years War Project, and Jeff Berry's excellent map on his Obscure Battles site.



Paltzig continued


This is a very short post is an AAR of the second night's play (fought on 30th March) of the Paltzig 1759 scenario. We left the action with the Prussians exceeding all expectations and pressing their attack on the southern flank of the Russian army but with the Russians still massively outnumbering the Prussians and forming a new line just south of Paltzig. The game was in the balance.



I have to report an unbelievable reversal of history. Peter (Prussian) just couldn't stop winning initiative and rolling high combat dice. The Russians couldn't manage a single noteworthy volley. 

The Prussians pressed home their attack with unerring precision from the start. It wasn't long before the Russian position began to collapse with their troops retreating to the rear areas in a constant stream. At the end of the battle the Prussians had somehow managed superior numbers, not just locally, but overall. 


The position at the end of the game. The Prussian line is intact and rolling the Russians up. 

At the end of the battle, the lost unit count said it all: Including four units of Cossacks (three of which were voluntarily withdrawn off table) the Russians lost twenty seven units, the Prussians had lost just three and most of their 'heroic' units were completely intact. 

Major morale failure was inevitable for the Russians and so we finished the game before working through to it - the Russians, who started with sixty four morale chips had none left and the Prussians, who started with just thirty six, still had sixteen.

If we replayed this game a hundred times I don't think the Prussians could do better. I still can't quite get over the enormity of the Prussian victory. Reversing history in such a lop sided battle is one thing, but to do it like this is simply astounding: A very, very memorable result!