Tuesday 11 December 2018

Plancenoit - the game

Tony and Goya came over on Sunday to play my Muskets & Marshals scenario for the Battle of Plancenoit. Tony took command of the French and Goya the Prussians whilst I acted as umpire.

For the scenario and initial deployments map click here.

The initial deployments - Prussians on the left and French on
the right. The buildings are my recently re-based Airfix ones.
The good old 45th ligne (nearest the camera), when the 45th are
on the field you can be sure of a good game and of course they
never lose their eagle (or if they do it comes back again for the
next battle).
The Young Guard and Guard Marins started the game in reserve
behind the village.
The 105th ligne occupied one of the buildings supported by a
foot artillery battery on the road.
The 9th legere were deployed in line to the front of the village.
They were to play a significant part during the fighting but were
eventually forced to quit the field when their strength dropped
below 9 figures.
The Prussian line. The troops with the lighter green bases are
all S-range figures from Goya's collection.
The unit in the rear are Prussian Grenadiers. I think these were
all converted from line figures which meant adding a lot of
plumes. The brushwork is excellent. 
The action kicks off with an advance on the French left. The
wily Prussians chose not to press directly against the occupied
buildings but rather to push against the infantry in the open.
The Uhlans lost no time in charging the single unit of French
cavalry present. Sadly this was not the best of days for the
French mounted arm.
The situation at the end of turn 3. The Young Guard have
advanced and occupied the church while the Prussians make
headway against the French left.
The French Voltigeurs had a good game. After blowing away
most of the Jagers with a crushing volley they then crowded
around the Prussian left and eventually caused the 2nd
Silesian Landwher to rout from the field.
The French were safe in the buildings of Plancenoit but the
Prussians chose, perhaps wisely, to bypass the village.
The 45th were forced to form square due to the presence of
Prussian cavalry in their flank and rear. This made them
vulnerable to a charge by the enemy infantry.
The battle in full vintage mode.
The 45th broke for the rear only to be confronted by the lances
of the Prussian Uhlans - hold on to that eagle lads!
The situation at the end of play - turn 8. The French still hold
Plancenoit but the Prussians have turned their left flank and
are threatening to move on La Belle Alliance.
The final tally was 5 VP's to each player so an honourable
draw was declared by the umpire.

At the end of turn 8 we were quite surprised to find that the game was a draw on points although possibly it was more of a strategic victory for the Prussians who managed to get troops around the French left flank. I was pleased that the scenario turned out to be so balanced and that we managed to play the full eight turns.

Games using my rules have tended to be bigger affairs of late, so it was nice to play something more manageable for two players which is more in tune with my original concept. The rules themselves have perhaps become a little more complex than I initially envisaged which is inevitable ‘mission creep’ I guess. I have some thoughts to streamline them but want to be careful not to tinker with them too much as generally they do seem to give a good game.

My thanks to Tony and Goya for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

More nostalgia

I suppose in a blog that’s pretty much dedicated to nostalgia this is not an unusual title. However, after a year or so swelling the ranks of the Imperial Guard I thought it was about time that I revisited my Prussians.

Test figure complete - just 23 more to go.

If you’ve looked back to the beginning of this blog, you will know that the inspiration for this project was the idea of recreating the Hinton Hunt Prussian army I had in my youth. It has taken me a quite a few years to collect enough figures to make this possible, but I do now have everything I need.

One of the few pictures I have of my original collection - Prussian
Guardsmen tramping through the snow.

So, next up will be a unit of Prussian Garde Grenadiers (in plumed shakos and jack-boots) in the marching pose PN.16 Guardsman (marching). I last painted one of these in 1972!

Sunday 2 December 2018

Plancenoit revisited

Tony and Goya have agreed to humour me and play Plancenoit again but this time using my Muskets&Marshals rules. This will be on a smaller scale than our last attempt playing C&CN but I hope it will be just as challenging for the players (I’ll be umpiring).

For a bit of added interest, I’m going to try to post live updates of the game to my Instagram account . The game will be next Sunday 9th December hopefully kicking off around 11.00am - you’ll need to follow me on Instagram at hhfigures to see the posts. A full after action report will of course be posted here as well (eventually).

Order of Battle

French OOB
2 x Line Infantry (B)
1 x Legere (A)
1 x Voltigeurs (deployed as skirmishers)
1 x Marins (A)
1 x Young Guard (A)
1 x Old Guard (A+)
1 x FA battery
1 x Light Cavalry (A)

Prussian OOB
2 x Landwher (C)
3 x Line (B)
1 x Fusiliers (A)
1 x Jager (deployed as skirmishers)
1 x Grenadiers (A)
2 x FA battery
1 x Uhlans (B)
1 x Dragoons (B)

Victory Conditions

Troops begin the game deployed as per the map. The game lasts for 8 turns, at the end of turn 8 VP’s are calculated as follows:

2 VP for possession of the church
1 VP for possession of each of the other buildings
1 VP for each enemy infantry or cavalry unit removed from play or currently routing
1 VP for each non-disordered Prussian infantry unit in the area within the red box marked on the map.

Special Rules

The Old Guard cannot move until turn 3

Buildings – each building can hold one infantry unit. Each building has its own separate MDF base projecting from the side of the structure by 25mm enabling the placing of a single rank of figures around the perimeter. During the movement phase the defender will be allowed to move any of his troops around the perimeter to meet a threat with no penalty to firing. Normal firing rules will apply

Sunday 25 November 2018

Brunswick Owls

This has to be the fastest I’ve ever completed a Hinton Hunt infantry unit as the whole lot have been prepared, painted and based in just over one month. Not quite sure how it happened but as I mentioned in my last post I’ve been assisted by the relative simplicity of the uniform.

The figures are:
2 x BRN/1 Officer charging (one converted to standard bearer)
11 x BRN/4 Private charging (one converted to drummer)
9 x BRN/5 Private firing
1 x BRN/6 Officer marching
1 x BRN/40 Avant Garde Officer marching
The flag is an old Revo one (the battalion didn't actually carry a flag but I wasn't going to let that stop me!)

The Leib Battalion had a rough time of it at Quatre Bras where they took 127 casualties and famously broke, leading to the incident in which the the Duke of Brunswick lost his life. At Waterloo they were held in reserve on the right flank in the area behind Hougoumont. Eventually they moved forward to support the British line where they formed square and helped repel the French cavalry attacks.

As a dog lover I won’t be stationing my Brunswickers anywhere near the 95th Rifles. The story goes that they had a liking for dogs (but not in the British way) and ate the mascot of the 95th, a dog called Rifle, who had survived shot and shell only to be “devoured by the insatiable jaws of the Brunswickers”.

Friday 16 November 2018

Leib-Battalion in progress

Since painting the Black Duke I’ve been slowly plodding away at the Brunswick Leib-Battalion to give him something to lead and/or rally. I’ve always wanted to have a unit of Brunswick infantry and these figures (acquired back here) have been waiting way too long in the painting queue.

The drummer is a conversion of BRN/4 knocked up for me by
the very talented Wellington Man. The Avant Garde Officer is
BRN/40, this figure didn't appear in my 1974c catalogue and
may even be a Clayton production.

Half the unit will be made up of BRN/5 Private (firing), and the other half are BRN/4 Private (charging). There will also be a smattering of officers including one from the Avant Garde just to spice things up.

BRN/4 - there's a bit of swagger to this chap!

I’ve just passed the halfway mark and the reasonably rapid progress (for me) is helped somewhat by the black uniforms. Although, having said that, there is some fiddly detail like the horses painted on the packs. The uniform colour is a 50:50 mixture of black and Foundry 34B which gives a subtle difference between the coat and the cross-straps although that may not be easily seen in the photos.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Village idiot

For some reason I couldn’t resist the urge to re-base the buildings in my village. This involved removing the models from their single A4 size base and putting them on individual bases which was in line with my original concept (click here). I must admit that this work was carried out without planning permission or any consultation with the residents.

The three buildings can still be arranged together as a single built-up-area, but it gives me the flexibility to use them individually as well.

Something else I couldn’t resist recently was splashing out and buying 96 French infantry from the 1807-12 range. This was a bit of a punt as I couldn’t be sure from the photos if they were vintage Hinton Hunt or not as the seller had miscaptioned them. For once I got lucky as all the figures turned out to be vintage castings in good condition except for a dozen or so broken bayonets.

The bulk of the figures are FN244 fusilier (charging) but there
are some others which I didn't already have in my collection
such as FN16 Voltigeur (marching) in greatcoat, although the
plumes have been cut down, and also marching/charging line

At a stroke this gives me a full division (three units in my organisation) of French infantry but also undoes all my progress this year - figures painted vs figures acquired. However, vintage stuff doesn’t come along all that often and certainly not at a half decent price and these reinforcements do sort of fit into my long-term plan for this project.

Sunday 4 November 2018

Rear-guard action

I had a few hours spare yesterday so decided to play a small solo game. It was a chance to get a few of the figures out of the display cabinet and put them through their paces. The scenario was simple enough – a small allied rear-guard was attempting to hold off a larger French force.

Marshal Grouchy was in charge of the French aided by
 General Lasalle as second-in-command.
"I say Lasalle, if you'd told me you were wearing your red
trousers and green top I'd have worn a different uniform!"

The allied force consisted of Austrians, Prussians and Russians.
 The Russian Grenadiers were commanded on this occasion by
General Alten (I have a Russian General but he's still in the
painting queue).
The French force advances and despite some seriously good
shooting the Austrian Jagers are forced to give ground. The
newly formed Guard light cavalry were well up in the front
line with the Guard heavy cavalry not far behind.
Turn 3 and the battle is in full swing. The French are making
a nicely coordinated attack. The cavalry have forced two units
of infantry into square whilst the skirmishers and horse artillery
do their thing. Behind them the infantry columns move up -
textbook stuff.
Those pesky skirmishers are making things hard for the 51st
Gabriel Spleny Regiment who are starting to take casualties.
The Guard infantry bring up the rear of the French line. From
this angle General Cambronne appears to be conducting
an orchestra!
The Guard heavy cavalry see an opportunity and charge the
Prussian Dragoons who fail their counter-charge die roll and
get hit on the back foot. The melee result is a foregone
This is the obligatory 1970s flashback scene of the fighting.
Straight off the pages of Miniature Warfare magazine.
The Spleny's become disordered by the effects of all the
incoming fire and the Guard light cavalry choose that moment
to charge and sweep them from the field.
The 45th Regiment charge and are repulsed but behind them
the Combined Grenadiers take on the Russians and force them
to retreat. It's game over for the allies.

Blucher and Mack look on as the rear-guard melts away.
"Mein Gott Mack, have you got zat map ze right way up?"
Men of the match - the French skirmishers.

It was a fun little game that enabled me to iron out a few details about the use of skirmishers. I really should give the British a run out next time.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

The Black Duke

Frederick William joined the Prussian army as a young captain in 1789 and took part in the war against Revolutionary France. His father Charles William was a field marshal and both father and son fought at Jena-Auerstadt where the former was mortally wounded. Frederick inherited his father’s title becoming Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg.

With the advent of the Fifth Coalition he established a corps of ‘Black Brunswickers’ at his own expense, dressed in black in mourning for their occupied country. In 1809 after the loss of Braunschweig he fled to Britain seeking employment with his brother-in-law The Prince Regent. The Brunswickers were then shipped to the Peninsular to fight under Wellesley gaining a good reputation for themselves in the process.

The Brunswickers were heavily engaged at Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815. Towards late afternoon the Leib-Battalion found themselves hemmed in by cavalry whilst taking artillery fire and suddenly gave way running towards the Namur Road. The Duke halted the battalion and was in the process of rallying them when a musket ball knocked him from his horse. Some of his staff carried him to the rear in a blanket hoping he was not badly injured, but he died shortly afterwards.

The figure is BRN/30 The Duke of Brunswick, in Death’s Head shako and braided coat (on horse BNH/11).

Saturday 27 October 2018

Eclaireurs-Dragons of the Guard

Napoleon was impressed (or more likely annoyed) by the hit and run tactics of Russian Cossacks during the campaigns of 1812-1813. The French had nothing similar in their own cavalry so three regiments of Eclaireurs were formed and trained to counter the Cossack threat.

The 2nd Regiment were termed the Eclaireurs-Dragons and were assigned to the Empress’ Dragoons. They were recruited from the ranks of the Young Guard and had a green uniform with a nifty red shako.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the Hinton Hunt painting instructions for this one but have cobbled together the uniform information from various sources. My overall impression is that they do look a bit like Santa’s Elves.

This completes my French Guard Cavalry. I didn’t have enough of any figure type to make full 12-figure units so have opted for composite units. The Heavy Cavalry is comprised of Empress’ Dragoons and Horse Grenadiers whilst the Light Cavalry contains the Polish Lancers and Eclaireurs. All the figures are vintage Hinton Hunt castings which is befitting for the Guard.

Monday 22 October 2018

Ecky Thumped

Whether it’s Eckmuhl or Eggmuhl there’s no doubt that Goya’s Austrians gave the Franco-Bavarian army a bit of a rough time last Saturday. Tony and I were left struggling to come up with a workable plan to dislodge the Kaiserlichs from the villages and woods that provided such a good defensive position. In the end it was a convincing win for the Austrians.

Tony's splendid new DK Bavarian troops advancing on the
village of Unterlaichling. This village changed hands several
times and was the focus of our main attack.
The Austrians wait patiently for the French to come on. They
have a strong position anchored on a line of villages and woods.
The infantry figures in this shot are all S-Range (I think).
This photo shows the French right as the Bavarians near their
objective. They are supported in the centre by French infantry.
The French left flank. These units are all under the command
of Davout. They are pushing up through difficult terrain
(mostly woods). Not much use for artillery or cavalry here.
The Austrian line looks solid and determined and I'm sure they
must have had a few maxim guns because their fire was pretty
devastating (I discovered to my cost that Austrian infantry use
5 dice when firing rather than the usual 4!).
This is about as far as I got before my units started to melt away
and Goya began to rack up an impressive VP score.
For one brief moment Tony managed to take Unterlaichling
again - but it was only brief. The French units in the centre
were unable to make any further headway .
With our infantry a spent force Tony led a mad dash with our
cavalry against the Austrian left. Spectacular, but it was
never going to turn the tide.

Tony had come up with a clever rule amendment that allowed us to play the game without using any cards. The result was play that felt much more like a conventional wargame than the usual C&CN affair.

Marshal Davout now with added gloss.

As for marshal Davout, well he didn’t exactly excel but I have decided to spare him from the bleach bath anyway and, after a touch-up to his paint work, he has been deemed fit to join my other French commanders.