Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ligny for Muskets & Marshals

I’ve knocked up a scenario for our next game based on the battle of Ligny so I can put all those Prussians to good use. Initial deployment will be as per the map opposite - The game starts at 4.00pm (16 June 1815) and lasts for 8 half-hour turns. The French are already in possession of St Amand while the Prussians hold Ligny and St Amand-La-Haye. The table is 6’x 4’ and the terrain is a simplified representation of the real battlefield (I have removed the Ligny brook as this is difficult to represent accurately using my terrain tiles and wasn’t much of an obstacle in the real battle anyway).

Order of Battle

French
7 x Line Infantry (B)
2 x Legere (A)
1 x Voltigeurs (deployed as skirmishers)
1 x Guard Marins (A)
1 x Young Guard (A)
1 x Old Guard (A+)
3 x FA Battery
1 x Light Cavalry (B)
1 x Cuirassier (A)

Prussian
5 x Line Infantry (B)
3 x Landwehr (C)
1 x Jager (deployed as skirmishers)
1 x Fusiliers (A)
1 x Guard Grenadier (A)
1 x Light Cavalry (B)
1 x Dragoons (B)

Victory conditions

French decisive victory – if they hold St Amand, St Amand-La-Haye and Ligny at the end of turn 8 Prussian decisive victory – if they hold any 2 of the BUA’s at the end of turn 8

Marginal victory – count VP’s at the end of play as follows:
1 VP for each enemy infantry or cavalry unit removed from play or routing
St Amand-La-Haye – 3VP’s to either side
Ligny – 3VP’s to either side
St Amand – 5VP’s to the Prussians

Reserves

Roll 1 D6 per
unit at the start of each turn (from turn 3 onwards) – 4,5 or 6 unit released from the reserve. Units can either advance from their current locations or move laterally to any place on the table base line.

French – Old Guard, Young Guard, Marins, Cuirassier
Prussian – Guard Grenadier, Silesian Musketeers, Dragoons

Rule Modifications

Turn 1 – initial turn of firing only.
To make BUA’s a bit easier to take the following modifications will be made
Firing – treat buildings as Soft Cover
Melee – no additions for defending buildings however attackers do not get charge bonus

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Hinton Hut

One of the reasons I haven’t got much painting done over the last few months is that I’ve been constructing this log cabin in the back garden. Log cabin is my preferred name whereas Goya insists on calling it a hut which I suppose is just one better than a shed.

With a generous 5m x 3m footprint I’m finally going to have a dedicated space for my painting desk, wargame table and associated stuff. There should even be room for Goya to park his sedan chair in the corner when he visits.

The cabin was a kit, which was just as well as I never was much good at woodwork but kits I can do. I was always an annoyance to my woodwork teacher as, being left-handed, he had to reconfigure the woodwork bench for me. Whist doing so he would mutter about kids who were ‘cack-handed’ as he so nicely put it (this was long before the invention of political correctness).

Anyway, I’m pleased with the result and now just need to fit out the inside.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Silesian Hussars update

I’ve just passed the halfway mark on the Silesian Hussars with 6 figures completed and the remainder underway. I have enjoyed painting these and for once even the white buttons on the trousers haven’t been a chore, this may be because I have broken in a new paintbrush. I tend to hang on to my paintbrushes for far too long because they become comfortable (a bit like shoes) but when I finally reach for a new one, I’m always amazed at how much easier it is to use.

It’s been quite refreshing to be able to go with mixed horse colours for this unit as the last few cavalry units I’ve painted have had horses all the same colour. The Hinton Hunt painting instruction sheets always specified the correct horse colours which is a detail not often included in uniform books.

The trumpeter is the last of the clever conversions carried out for me by Wellington Man. It was only when I started to paint the figure that I realised he had added a sword hilt to the scabbard and carefully removed the carbine from the riders’ leg. How he has managed to do either of these things so neatly is a mystery to me, but I’m very grateful to have such a lovely addition to the ranks.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Command post for the emperor

If Wellington has a tree, then in my opinion Napoleon deserves a windmill at least. So, I’ve knocked up this Dapol kit of a windmill (made from the moulds of the original Airfix one).


This model will feature in a game of Muskets & Marshals I hope to be hosting next month (although not as Napoleon's command post!).

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Prussian generals

Having completed the Prussian infantry, I needed another 2 generals to bring the total number of commanders up to 9. In my rules Muskets & Marshals, each unit requires a commander who influences unit morale.

This gives me an excuse to paint up the wonderful range of personality figures produce by Hinton Hunt. Although, obviously, it’s not very realistic to have marshals and generals commanding a battalion of line infantry it does add a splash of colour to the tabletop and helps the players to identify with their units (nobody wants to be the commander who loses marshal Ney in action).

There are only 4 mounted command figures in the Hinton Hunt Prussian range so inevitably there has been some duplication and conversions to get the required number of commanders. The figures here represent Zieten and Pirch, both are PN.64 Prussian General although Pirch has had a head-swop with Gneisenau and his telescope removed.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Prussian Hussars – test figure

Well it’s hard to believe but I am finally on the last unit of my Prussian army. This will be a 12-figure regiment of the 1st Silesian Hussars painted as per the Hinton Hunt painting instruction sheet.

The figures I’m using are not original ones but are reasonably good copies of unknown origin (they came from the US but are not Clayton). Although I say reasonable copies, to be fair, they are at least as good as the same hussar figures I bought direct from Hinton Hunt in the early 70s which were pretty poor quality.

Receiving a package of HH soldiers back then was always something of a mixed experience, excitement that the toy soldiers had actually arrived within the stipulated 28 day period, coupled with the sinking feeling on seeing how many bayonets/sabres were broken and how much flash metal I was going to have to remove.

Happy days though…

Monday, 12 August 2019

Colberg Musketeers

The Colberg infantry are based and ready for action, not that there’s any prospect of action at the moment but it’s nice to know they can be called upon if Blucher finds himself in a tight spot.


The composition of figure types in this unit is the same as the other line infantry units however they are a 50:50 mixture of Clayton and reproduction figures, the command are all vintage ones.


The Clayton figures posed something of a problem when basing as they are orientated differently on their bases to the other figures. This has meant I’ve had to bend and tweak them a bit to get them to rank up.


This takes my total of painted figures for the year to over 100 which is surprising as I’ve hardly painted any for the last month or so.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Prussian progress 3

I’ve finished the final 6 figures of the Colberg Regiment this evening, a month later than I had hoped but at least they’re done. They just need to be varnished and based and then I can declare that the Prussian infantry are officially complete. 

Next I will be turning my attention to a unit of Silesian Hussars who in turn will complete the line up of the Prussian cavalry. I’m looking forward to doing this unit as these were the first Hinton Hunt cavalry figures I ever painted back in the mists of time.

Hopefully I’ll be posting a bit more frequently after what’s turned out to be a very busy summer (busy in a non-wargaming sort of way).

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Battle of Neumarkt

Last Saturday we convened at Tony’s for a re-fight of the Battle of Neumarkt using his C&CN variant Ramekin rules. Tony has already posted on the game here so I'll just get straight to my own photos that hopefully captured the flavour of the day.

The Bavarians deployed in and around the town. These are all
figures from Tony's collection and very smart they look too.
Most of the Austrians were S-Range Minifigs from Goya's
collection. They were backed up with a few Hinton Hunt units
from Nigel and myself.
A look at the Bavarians from the Austrian perspective.
It was quite a crush trying to fit in the French reserves as they
poured over the bridge behind the town.
The French infantry were all from Tony's collection.
I love that church model!
Bessieres arrives to take personal control of the field. The
figure is the Hinton Hunt one from my own collection. I bought
this figure from Tony via eBay many years ago (long before I
first met him) so it was nice to be able to bring him to visit his
old home - the paint-work is Tony's.
A general view along the entire field, despite the number of
units in play there is still a lot of empty space on the 10' x 5'
table.
The Bavarians were soon well supported by French infantry.

The situation at the end of play from the Franco-Bavarian side
of the table. In the end weight of numbers told and the
Austrians had a creditable win.
This was the biggest game we have tried so far (we had over 20 Austrian infantry units) and I think we learnt a bit in the process about how to handle such large forces, Tony touches on the issues around the deployment of reserves in his blog-post.

Thanks to Tony for all his efforts in designing the scenario and preparing the terrain, it was another enjoyable game played in great company.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Beaufighter Boys (Off Topic #26)

This book Beaufighter Boys by Graham Pitchfork has just been released by Grub Street Books. The author has compiled tales of Beaufighter crews illustrating the roles and theatres of war in which the aircraft was employed during WW2. The text is illustrated with plenty of black and white photos, many of which have never been published before.

Originally researched a few years ago but not completed until now, most of the accounts are written by the participants themselves or as a result of interviews with them. Sadly, the majority of these Beaufighter veterans have now passed away but their stories should appeal to anyone with an interest in the air war in WW2.

My father WO Dennis Spencer DFC is featured in chapter 22 of the book where he describes the techniques used to navigate at low level across the Burmese jungle, deep behind enemy lines (the extract is from his memoir Looking Backwards over Burma).

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Quatre Bras – C&CN

We played the C&CN Quatre Bras scenario on Tuesday and an excellent game it turned out to be. Goya, as host, was umpire while Tony commanded the French and I took control of the allies. We played Tony’s Ramekin rules variant with a few new tweaks and the result was another very near-run thing.

This is the view from behind the French left-centre at the start
of play. The stream is fordable along its entire length. Quatre
Bras is represented by the building in the distance and was
worth one victory banner to the French.
This is the French right flank. The troops on the opposite base
line are Picton's British regulars whilst those further forward
are a mixture of Dutch, Belgian and Brunswick allies.
And this is the view from behind the allied right showing the
Bossu Wood on the extreme flank.
Tony opened proceedings with a spirited attack on Bossu Wood
and quickly removed my Dutch artillery battery from play.
However, thereafter it proved much more difficult to dislodge
my infantry who hung on in possession all day.
The French are starting to think they may have to bi-pass the
woods and attack in the centre. Tony had a grand battery on
the central ridge that was soon pounding away at my infantry.
This is the view along the entire allied line from the Bossu
Wood. The very large British unit in the trees is one of my
Guard ones, these are like the Napoleonic version of Tiger
Tanks and proved very effective.
Here you can see that the French have started to advance
across the stream. I've pulled my own front line back to the
shelter of the reverse slope of the ridge to avoid the galling
artillery fire.
Of course I had to move the men back on to the ridge as the
French columns approached. There were unit losses to both
sides and it looked to me like Tony was getting the upper hand.
The Black Duke steadies the Owls supported by one of Goya's
excellent Hinton Hunt Hanoverian units (not strictly right for
the OOB but they were standing in for |Dutch).
These Dutch cavalry are also from Goya's collection - all
Hinton Hunt.
A 'classic' wargame shot as the two sides grapple for control
 of the ridge (in the background you can see that Goya's
servants are getting ready to lay the table for dinner as
soon as we finish playing).
Eventually, somehow, I managed to push the French infantry
back prompting Tony to throw in his Cuirassiers. Luckily for
me he had no horse artillery with which to crack my squares.
A lucky run of dice then brought me to the 9 victory banners
required to claim victory - game over!


This was yet another game with a lot of ebb and flow that went right down to the wire. My thanks to Goya for hosting, umpiring and providing a very nice lunch, and to Tony for a most enjoyable game.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Slender Billy

This is another contribution to the Quatre Bras game next week – DN/30 H.R.H. The Prince of Orange, in hussar jacket, full trouser and waving his cocked hat. A rather nice vintage casting I’ve painted in accordance with the original Hinton Hunt painting instructions.

I must confess that my image of the Prince has been tainted by watching Paul Bettany’s portrayal of him in Sharpe’s Waterloo. So, although Goya insists he should be known as Slender Billy, he will always be Silly Billy to me.

In reality the Prince was a reasonably experienced officer by the time of Waterloo having served on the Dukes staff in the peninsular. His performance at Quatre Bras was solid but he was later criticised by British writers who naturally enough wanted to big-up the part played by Wellington and his generals.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Brunswick Artillery

Hinton Hunt never made any Brunswick artillerymen, so I’ve had to resort to the dark art of head swapping to create some. The donor bodies are all British Horse Artillery and the heads are from various odds and ends of Brunswick infantry I had lying about.

There was just one Horse Artillery Battery present in the
Brunswick contingent during the Waterloo campaign. 
And one Foot Artillery Battery.

I’m quite happy with the Horse Artillery figures but the Foot Artillery heads are a bit big for the rather spindly RHA bodies resulting in quite a menacing pinhead look. The guns are on loan from the French, apparently the canny Black Duke sent his artillery chief to an auction following the Battle of Leipzig where he snapped up enough captured French guns to equip several batteries.

For C&CN we need two guns and crew per battery so mine
will be combined for the game.

So, I can hear you thinking “hey, those aren’t Prussian – what’s he up to?” well I can only blame Goya for this distraction. Next week he is hosting a C&CN game of Quatre Bras and we were short of a Brunswick battery for the OOB. A battle report will be posted here in due course.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Prussian progress 2

It’s been a busy few weeks with not much painting time and even less blogging time, but I have managed to churn out the first half of my final Prussian Musketeer unit. This one is a Colberg regiment with white collar and cuffs and red shoulder straps.

Being the final of the three charging figure units I’ve had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for recruits with a mixture of vintage (not many), reproduction and Clayton figures to make up the numbers. The Clayton’s, although ‘official’ castings, are the weediest of the bunch and are orientated slightly differently on their bases to the original figures and their muskets are held at a lower angle.

I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to get these finished as we have a few more busy weeks ahead, but I’m aiming to get them done by the end of June.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The Battle for the Hill

Yesterday I was joined by Wellington Man, Goya and the Archduke (Nigel) for a game of soldiers. WM had brought a small French expeditionary force with him comprised of three infantry units, the Guard Chasseurs and 7th Polish Lancers. Despite some minor damage in transit from New Zealand WM’s troops still looked splendid when they took their place in the French line. 

The French army (Goya and Nigel) was opposed by my Prussians supported by Austrians and Russians (Myself and WM). In theory the two armies were balanced at 12 infantry and 5 cavalry each however due to some poor staff work on my part the French had a 6 to 4 advantage in cavalry which was to have a significant influence on events.

The scenario was simple, there were 3 victory locations in the centre of the table each worth 5 VP’s. Additionally, 1 VP was awarded for each enemy routed unit. The side with the most VP’s at the end of play was the winner. The rules as ever were Muskets & Marshals, here are the highlights -

This is the view from behind the right wing of the French army looking towards
the section of the allied line commanded by yours truly. WM's beautiful Guard
Chasseurs are visible bottom right of the picture. The tree and the hill were both
victory point objectives.
Prussian Jagers were the first troops to take possession of the central hill and
they were soon popping away with their rifles at the French Voltigeurs on the
other side. Meanwhile both sides were pushing forward their infantry columns.
The emperor looks on. He managed to win every initiative die roll bar one
which combined with the French superior cavalry numbers put the allies under
pressure from the start.
French on the left, allies on the right. There is already cavalry action taking
place on both flanks while the fight for the central hill hots up.
The 4th Brandenburg infantry have gained the crest of the hill. However a whole
brigade of Swiss troops is waiting for them on the other side, with levelled
muskets.
The 7th Lancers engage the Prussian Lancers. A lot of men have gone down
on both sides, however it was the Poles who would emerge victorious from this
fierce clash of arms. Both of these units were painted by WM.
This is the view from the other end of the table (French on the right). The
Prussians are pushing forward and, with the 1st Silesian Landwehr out front
what can possibly go wrong?
The Guard Chasseurs managed to catch the Splendid Splenys out of square.
I felt this was quite unsporting but Goya begged to differ.
With so many troops in a relatively small area it soon became something of a
pell-mell battle. Nearest the camera the Poles and Guard Marines are pushing
against the allied flank. The Guard Eclaireurs have been severely mauled by
artillery and fire from an Austrian square, however they succeeded in riding
down a battery in the process.
As we all know, it's always the new units that take the worst punishment in a
fight. Here the Brandenburgers suffer the inevitable consequence of being
fired on by 18 Swiss muskets at close range.

Now this surely wasn't in the script? The Silesian Landwehr are routing after
taking casualties from cannister and musketry. Fortunately the French
Cuirassiers were unable to take advantage having failed a morale test. 
With the Brandenburgers ejected from the hill the 3rd Swiss advance and take
their place. Things are looking shaky for the allies.
The allied left is under pressure now as well with the 'tree' VP location firmly
in the hands of the French, who are smashing the remaining infantry squares
with columns.
Honour restored - the Silesians have rallied!
This is one of Matthews amazing units - the 67th infantry I believe. Marshal
Davout seems very pleased with the way things are working out.
The obligatory black and white shot. You'll have to take my word for it that
the Swiss on the hill are a sea of red.
"Stop running mein children!" It's no use, Scharnhorst and the Brandenburgers
are legging it. A convincing win for the French who controlled 2 of the 3 VP
sites at game end (turn 6).

Thanks to WM for bringing his troops (and himself) halfway around the world to the game and to Nigel for making the 7 hour round trip across the border and back. Thanks also to Goya for producing 3 units for the game finished in gloss varnish even though this was against his principles (I believe they are being doused in matt varnish as I write!). Another good game played in great company.