In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Battle of Neubrugg -A Black Powder SYW Game Report

Finally had the boys over for a game last night. Seven Year's War using Black Powder in 15mm. This was the first time that both sides were provided entirely by me. So I guess I've achieved New's Resolution #2 (sort of). My Austrians and Bavarians were snuggled in behind a line of entrenchments defending a bridgehead.
Austro-Bavarian deployment
The allied army had 11 battalions of infantry, 8 squadrons of cavalry and 4 guns. The Austrians held the left with the Pandours outside the entrenchments and the Bavarians were on the right. The cavalry were stationed in the woods to the right of the town outside the entrenchments. One lone battalion of Bavarian grenadiers were kept as a reserve.

I thought that 2:1 odds were appropriate to the scenario, so I gave the Prussian players all of my Prussian infantry and equal amounts of cavalry.

Prussian view of allied redoubt

The Prussians threw the Freikorps out to their right to oppose the Pandours, massed their guns on the road opposite the redoubt and sent their cavalry off to their left along with a brigade containing both battalions of grenadiers.

Prussian advance

Prussian massed battery
The Prussian commander on the right advanced aggressively to outflank the pandours who, hampered by bad command rolls, got stampeded back to the line of earthworks. The Freikorps brigade tried to carry the entrenchments with the bayonet and some fierce combats erupted along the line.

Chasing Pandours

Freikorps storm the earthworks!
On the far right the Von Kleist Freibattalion drove the whitecoats out of the earthworks but were so shaken in the process they didn't advance any further. To their left the Austrians drove off the Prussians. The second battalion of Pandours finally bestirred themselves to advance from their  position by the river to harass the Prussian flank, eliminating one of the retreating freibattalions. 

Situation on Prussian right. Pandours bestir themselves.
In the Prussian center, two brigades supported by the massed artillery threw themselves at the line of earthworks. Austrian musketry threw back two charges.

But one battalion of musketeers gained a foothold, pushing the Austrian defenders back into the town.

A battalion of fusiliers quickly exploited to outflank the Austrian battery who pulled back out of their redoubt leaving the grenadiers open.

Exploiting the foothold.

The Prussian artillery had by this time (due to a 'blunder' roll) advanced into medium range where their shot became more telling. A devastating salvo on a battalion of Bavarians, coupled with abysmal saving rolls, resulted in a breach being blown in the lines.

Breach blown in line of earthworks!
Meanwhile on the Austrian right the cavalry sallied out to threaten the Prussian flank and attempt to draw off some pressure. The Prussian cavalry deployed to face, but then both brigades ground to a stop due to bad command rolls.

Cavalry threaten each other with little effect.
The Prussian left wing launched an attack on their sector led by the Guard Grenadiers.

Guard Grenadiers storm a redoubt.
On the next Prussian turn a highly successful command roll had two more battalions pour in with three moves to widen the breach made.

This didn't stop the Prussians from pouring on the pressure in the center though.

The Austrian grenadier battalion defended bravely without any support, driving off another charge and forcing the next battalion of Prussians into three rounds of hand to hand before there was a decision.

Grenadiers finally break and the redoubt is stormed from front and back.

But when you roll snake eyes for the eventual break test there isn't much that can be done about it.

The climax came with the Prussians enveloping the main redoubt by pushing two battalions through the breach and then Gen. Schwerin leading his battalion in person over the earthworks through a storm of pretty ineffective grapeshot.

By this time the Austrian defenses were pierced in three places, all three redoubts were taken and they had lost three of four guns, plus suffering about 50% casualties. The Prussians had lost one or two battalions.

I probably messed up some things again, but considering all the socializing that went on (we don't get to see other much), a lot of gaming still managed to happen. I should probably make some rosters for each army and put stickies on each command stand though to help my less SYW-savvy friends. I noticed the Prussians kept leading their attacks with Garrison battalions!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Castle

While cleaning up the basement o'rabbits this AM in preparation for tomorrow's game I had to get down this to remove a few millimetres of dust:

It's the castle my step-father made for me one year for Christmas. He taught graphic arts at a local vocational school and I learned an awful lot about painting and making stuff out of card from him. He made this for me when I was maybe 8 and it was fought over for years by all of my HO scale plastic soldiers. Romans defended it from Celts, WW2 paratroopers (from either side) made commando raids on it and my Napoleonic troops captured it quite a lot. By the end of a game the gateway and courtyard were usually piled high with knocked over plastic men (quite a few of whom tumbled dramatically from the parapets).

Here's some more shots including an Airfix German paratrooper for scale (please excuse my rather messy workbench/gaming table):

I almost lost it too. Stupidly gave it to a gaming friend when I was a stupid teenager. Fortunately his mother found it cleaning a closet and gave it back to me years later. The top tower had broken off and it's a bit battered but I have it back.

This corner I think is my favourite part of the whole model. Not sure why.
It's too big for 15mm and too small for my 28mm but I keep it anyway as a tangible reminder. It's one of the few things I have from my Dad, who died the summer before I met my wife.

Finally, here's a teaser of what I'm working on right now, starting another commission job and finishing up my German armour while waiting for glue and gesso to dry:

Silver Reflections

I can't let the week go by without remarking upon a significant milestone.
This week my Snugglebunny and I celebrated 25 years of (mostly) wedded bliss with a top flight meal at our favourite Indian restaurant.
It hasn't always been easy. There were times when she was wondering "Is this all there is?" and times I wanted to run screaming into the night. But with a lot of remembering the vows we took, forgiveness of each other's shortcomings and many cups of tea we made it through. And it's been worth it.
After a quarter century we've mostly figured each other out and still enjoy each other's company.
The after work cup of tea together has become a solid family tradition and I credit it with helping us through the rough spots by carving out a time to talk each day.
Our life has definitely not turned out the way we dreamed it would 25 years ago, but the journey has been excellent so far.
Plus she's a wizard in the kitchen, has excellent taste in music and books and thinks my miniatures are a much better hobby than many other male pastimes. What's not to like?
I'm definitely looking forward to another 25!

Monday, May 23, 2011


I like pie.

I like pie a lot.

For my birthday you can keep your cakes, I always ask for apple pie. Pie, to me, is love in a pastry shell. Served with a good strong cup of tea, it's the perfect snack, and I see no reason why fruit pies can't be eaten for breakfast.

I have a list of favourite pies.

Apple is of course first (and it doesn't need cheese or ice cream either). But after that it really depends on the season and what is available. Cherry, Sweet Cherry and Cherry Meringue are all good. So is Rhubarb Meringue, Key Lime and Peach. Pumpkin pie is never wrong and a small slice of Pecan won't go neglected either. For Christmas Eve supper we always make a Tourtiere (a French Canadian pork and potato pie). Lemon Meringue is alright too. Cream pies are a complete non-starter for me though. I can't see the point of glopping perfectly fine pudding into a pie shell.

I am choosy about my pie. I used to say that there wasn't an apple pie I didn't like until last year when I tried one from a CWL lunch at our parish. It was dreadful. Horrid tough pastry and the filling was like cubes of styrofoam in apple flavoured jelly. I actually couldn't finish it.

The pastry has to be good and the filling can't just be anything. Fortunately I married a women for whom the phrase "Easy as pie" is literal and she can make a nice flaky pastry. She prefers to use Northern Spye apples for her pies and will buy them up when they are in season and pre-make and then freeze pie fillings. Northern Spye don't go mushy and have a nice tartness which makes them perfect for baking with. (But if you can't find them, Courtland apples will do.)

My wife's apple pie recipe is a fusion between these two books

Now, sadly both out of print. The Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook is so useful she looks for used copies on line to buy for our daughters. The Complete Pie Cookbook was rescued from my mother-in-law's bookshelf and my Snugglebunny has put it to very good use trying out new recipes.

She likes to use sour cherries in cherry pie. The tartness works better. But we have several pails of sweet cherries left in our freezer. So last night she tried the 'Sweet Cherry Pie' recipe from the Complete Pie Book hoping to find a use for them. The pie shell is first filled with a layer of cream cheese and then topped with the cherry filling. After the cherries have set up the slice is topped with whipped cream.

And yes, she insists (thank God!) on real whipping cream. None of this aerosolized edible oil crap out of a can or a bucket.

It was a complete success. 'Sweet Cherry Pie' has now entered my list of favourite pies.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Old School Napoleonics at Hotlead 2011

This is what I think of as 'Old School' gaming. Serried ranks of masses of 20mm Airfix plastic figures (although he must have some of the newer HaT releases and stuff from the Russian company whose name I can't remember too, there are models here that I would've given my sister for back in the day). A father and son team have run a Napoleonic game the last few years using their pretty attractive plastic collection and some homebrew rules. This is what my games aspired to be like when I was a lad, but they didn't quite make it.

Andy took 91 pictures of this game alone, so it was rather hard to find just a few to give you an idea of what it was like. but it seems we have an allied force of Austrians, Russians and Prussians versus the French somewhere in Germany in 1813.

OK, now my mouse hand is sore from selecting all these pictures. So I think that's enough for now.

Alexander the Great at Hotlead 2011

Another GM has been pursuing a personal vision for the last few years. He's working his way through Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire, presenting a new battle each year. Last year saw the big climactic Battle of Gaugamela. So this year it was time to head east and face the elephants of King Porus at the Battle of Hydaspes. Friday evening though he ran a smaller game as an intro. The Siege of Halicarnassus, which was part of his campaign to eliminate the Persian naval bases on the Mediterranean coast.

Alexander's army battle Greek mercenaries outside the walls

Right on to the main event. Battle of Hydaspes. 15mm. The ubiquitous DBM rules.

Indian battle line

Elephants. You gotta love an army with elephants.


Macedonian phalanx

More pikes and peltasts

Macedonian cavalry

I asked him what he was going to do now that he'd taken Alex to the limits of his campaigns. He wasn't sure, but he may turn his attention to some of the smaller battles and sieges. Or maybe Tyre. We'll see next year.