Sunday, November 19, 2017

German Special Teams - Sniper and Panzerschreck

To the most recent Chain of Command game, Jake brought along a few figures from the latest Brigade Games' 28mm WWII kickstarter project.  "Surplus to demands," says he.
Figuring I could use a few German weapons and teams, a sniper/spotter and panzerschreck were offered up as an offering to The Lead Pile.
Well!  These fine figures did not linger in The Lead Pile long.  This trio jumped the long painting queue and went right onto the painting desk.
Expect these to see action in the next CoC game where I field Germans.

Thanks again for the figures, Jake!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Scenario: Battle of Mollwitz, 10 April 1741

Carl Rochling's Prussian Infantry at Mollwitz 1741
Taking advantage of an Austria in a weakened state due to years of conflict, a demoralized army, and bankrupt treasury, Frederick II assembled his well-trained but untested army to make a land grab dash.  The target?  Austria's province of Silesia.  In December 1740, Frederick invaded.  Thus began the First Silesian War. 

With Great Britain weighing in on the side of Maria Theresa promising to bankroll an offensive to reclaim lost territory, FM von Neipperg took command of the newly raised Austrian Army.  Von Neipperg took to the campaign trail in March with a goal of splitting the two Prussian forces and defeating each in detail.  This wedge would be driven into an area south of Neisse.
Austrians drawn up in front of Mollwitz
Despite heavy snows and mud clogged roads, Neipperg advanced upon Breslau.  When Frederick realized the danger, he ordered his forces into a blocking position and situated his army astride the Austrian line of advance upon Breslau.  After receiving nearly two feet of snow on 9 April, the two armies arrayed for battle outside of the small hamlet of Mollwitz on the following day.  The Austrians had their backs to the village and the Prussians deployed over one mile away.  The battle opened about 1300 and was over by 1900. 

For more historical details on the campaign and battle, please visit the recommended sites below:
Obscure Battle: Mollwitz
British Mollwitz
Battle of Mollwitz - N. Bonaparte

Drawing inspiration from Jeff Berry's Obscure Battles (listed above) and the scenario designs of: 
I put pencil to paper to build my own reinterpretation of young Frederick's first battle.  By the way, I encourage giving both James and Colin's Mollwitz games a look; beautiful spectacles in 28mm.
My 18mm armies arrayed for battle on 6 x 6 table
With heavy snow and the two armies more than one mile apart, closing with the enemy will take time.  In the historical battle, it took the Prussian infantry two hours to close to within musketry range of Mollwitz after having repulsed the Austrian cavalry attacks.  Given those conditions, march rates will be halved as the deep snow will be as rough ground.  The stream will, likewise, be treated as rough ground.  Grazing fire will be as "Bad Weather."  The presence of two feet of newly fallen snow will negate all charge bonuses.
Mollwitz Battle Maneuvers

Since Frederick was convinced to retire from the battle early on, there is a chance in the game that Frederick will act similarly.  To reflect this possibility, the following is in force: 
After third Prussian unit broken and every unit broken thereafter, Frederick rolls Command Test.  (-1) for each broken unit.  If he fails (Poor or worse), he must leave the field and Schwerin takes over.  Schwerin acts as Lt Gen for infantry until Frederick departs.
The above rule is directly lifted from Colin's game plan.
Austrian Cavalry
Looking at the Order of Battle, both sides face interesting challenges. The Austrians maintain more and better cavalry while the Prussians field more and better infantry.  To win, the Austrians must hold Mollwitz at the conclusion of the battle at 1900.  With a long distance to march on Mollwitz, Prussian infantry cannot wait too long before stepping off for an attack on Neipperg's infantry. 
While I wrestled with troop ratings, what I settled upon seems reasonable given the historical accounts of the battle.  Should all Prussian infantry be rated superior rather than only the grenadier formations?  Should the Austrian rabble be degraded to inferior or would standard be sufficient?  Since I wanted at least one troop grade difference between the Austrian and Prussian infantry, Inferior to a mix of Standard/Superior seems reasonable.
Prussian Cavalry
With the Austrian Left Cavalry Wing under the impetuous Romer, Austria will automatically receive Movement Initiative on the first turn.  Will Romer shred the Prussian Right Wing Cavalry at the onset of battle?  Will the superior Austrian cavalry be able to defeat the Prussians before the superior Prussian infantry can close with the inferior Austrian infantry?

Rather than having Romer deployed already on the Prussian flank as shown in the Fawkes diagram below, Romer will begin on the left flank in line with the remainder of the Austrian army.  Can Romer still pull off a crushing attack against the inferior Prussian cavalry on the Prussian right by beginning to fore rather than the flank?  I guess we will see.  
Map of the Battle of Mollwitz 10th April 1741
by John Fawkes
The above battle background and game details should provide just enough information to tantalize and prepare my opponent for this upcoming test using Honours of War.  My thanks to Colin for sharing his work on Mollwitz for HoW

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

More Moors

Dipping into the well again to pull up another unit of Moors for the Reconquista project.  The well is not yet dry although I am beginning to see the bottom.
As mentioned several times in the past, these BTD Warriors of Islam figures are some of my favorite poses in the range.  The standing pose with grounded spear is much preferred to the soldier advancing with spear.  Great facial characteristics and they all look quite serious and mean business.
Really, I have lost count of the number of similar stands that have mustered off the painting desk.  There must be at least a half-dozen units in exactly this pose.  A quick check of the Painting Log shows six units.
A quick reconciliation of the Painting Log with the Palouse Wargaming Journal suggests that the project has not been out on the parade ground for four years.  Many Reconquista units have crossed over to the painted side of the ledger in the past four years.  Perhaps the Reconquista collection ought to get a parade ground review?  I bet the size of this project surprises me when deployed out on the gaming table for review.  The gallery ought to get an update too with all new photos.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fox's Gap - An ACW BatRep in 10mm

The Action at Fox Gap had another outing on the gaming table using Two Flags-One Nation. After the first bloody fight (see: Action at Fox Gap Conclusion) that ended in a bloody draw, I wanted to give the scenario a rematch after a post-mortem of the rules, scenario, and play development.  Units were returned to their starting positions and the battle was joined.
Battle map
In translating the battle map to the game table, notice that I have dispensed with the entanglement of trees that hindered play in my first game.  My sleeve and arm were constantly catching a tree as troops were maneuvered through the dense foliage.  In place of the forest of trees, forest green hex tiles have been laid down to represent these woods' areas.  Model trees are placed sparingly to give the look of a united forest.  I like the look and improves play.
Initial deployments with troops on table
0900: At 0900, the action at Fox's Gap transforms from a probing operation into a full contact operation.  Seizing the initiative, Union General Cox joins the 23 OHa as it skirts Beachley Farm and closes with the 5 NC hunkered down along the Ridge Road on the Confederate right.  With Cox attached, the Ohioans can fire and move.  Unfortunately, their fire at long range is ineffective. 
The battle opens
Ohioans advance on the Confederate right
Perhaps being a bit brash, the Federal West Virginian cavalry advances upon Bondurrant's Rebel guns.  The Rebel guns deal death to the dismounted cavalry and they suffer heavy casualties.  Since cover does not diminish the effect from artillery, the troopers receive the full brunt of the cannonade.  Not able to stand up to the belching fire, the troopers fall back in disorder.  On the Confederate right, men from the 5 NC fire upon the 23 OH as the two Federal units close upon Rebel positions.  Both Federal units suffer casualties on the approach.
WV cavalry suffer mightily from Bondurrant's guns
Troopers fall back, disordered
5 NC fired into advancing 23 OH
0912: Cox slips over from the 23 OHa to join the 23 OHb.  Having unlimbered, Gibson's Federal battery brings Bondurrant's guns under fire.  The Rebel guns suffer only light casualties and dismiss the fire.  Both wings of the 23 OH fire upon the 5 NC before 23 OHb, under Cox's leadership, advances to the foot of the ridge.
Federals open up the firefight
Firefight in front of Beachley's Farm
Rebels respond
0930: As Cox hustles from one wing of the 23 OH to the other, the Confederate line braces for Cox' threat to lead an assault against the defenders lining the Ridge Road.  To distract Bondurrant, Gibson's guns keep the Rebel guns under fire while the 30 OHa brings the guns under small arms fire as well.  Bondurrant suffers more casualties but maintains his position.

As anticipated, Cox leads the 23 OH along with the 12 OH in an assault upon the Confederate positions on Ridge Road. 

From the left of the Fedeal line, the 23 OHa clashes with the 5 NCa in the woods.  The Federal assault goes in half-heartedly but the raw 5 NC fails to get off a meaningful volley to stop the Ohioans.  Both combatants suffer casualties but both stand their ground in disorder as the close range firefight continues.  To the right, of the 23 OHa, the 23 OHb charges up the hill to come to grips with the 5 NCb.  The Federals maintain the resolve to close but the raw Tar Heels break for the rear.  The 5 NCb takes heavy casualties and abandons its defensive position behind the wall protecting the Ridge Road.

In the third attack, the 12 OH with Scammon in the lead, charges into Bondurrant's guns.  On the way in, the 12th takes light casualties while the battery suffers casualties in the close fighting.  Seeing the guns holding onto their position in defiance, the Ohioans lose their nerve and fall back in retreat.  Garland fails to rally the 5 NCb. 
Initial Federal assault goes in
In close combat, you win some and lose some
Bondurrant continues dishing out death and destruction
0948: The first Special Event of the game is drawn and produces a "Confused Order" for the Federal troops.  The 23 OHb falls back.  Cox joins the 23 OHb to bolster its resolve.  Gibson's battery fires into Bondurrant's battery in conjunction with the 30 OHa.  Bondurrant suffers light casualties and continues to hold onto his exposed position.
Situation at 9:48
With Cox in the lead, the 23 OHb charges into the 5 NCa.  The Tar Heels take two hits while the Ohioans take no losses.  Scammon attempts to rally the 30 OHa to no avail.
Federals pour fire into Confederate positions
Cox leads the 23 OH into the 5 NC
Bondurrant returns fire on the 30 OHa.  Taking more casualties, the Ohioans are forced to withdraw in disorder.  On the Confederate far right, Rosser's cavalry finally make it into the fray. forcing the battered 23 OHa to fall back to escape the wrath of their weapons.  Also driven back from Confederate small arms fire is the 23 OHb.  Despite support from Rosser's dismounted troopers on their right, the 5 NCa fails it Capability Test and falls back.  In the Confederate center, the stalwart gunners of Bondurrant's battery holds its ground, ambivalent to its mounting heavy casualties.
Federal sent reeling back from the front line
Situation at 10:06
1006: With much of his command falling back from the fight having suffered heavy casualties, Cox calls off his attack.  Garland, having only one regiment badly damaged maintains the high ground and prevents the Federals from taking Fox's Gap on this day.

Rather than a hard fought draw seen in the first game, the second game I call a hard-fought win for Garland and his North Carolinian troops.  The Federals suffered heavy casualties with four of the six Union regiments at 50% casualties or greater.  As in Game One, Bondurrant's battery performed heroic feats while taking on all comers.  With 75% casualties, the Rebel gunners stood their ground unflinchingly.  Amazing display of valor.

On the Federal left, Cox and the Ohioans never managed to turn the flank and ended up in frontal assaults against prepared troops.  Even though raw, the 5th NC put up just enough fight to dissuade the Federals from pursuing a turning maneuver one more time.  Really, the Federal forces were spent without much remaining in offensive capability.

Was it fun? Yes!  Did the game produce tension and drama? Yes!  Did it provide a believable narrative?  I think so.  A lot of action in a small space.  A decision reached in only an hour of game time.  With only a handful of units per side, every unit's behavior and every casualty taken impacted upon the game.

Having several battles under my belt with TF-ON, time to provide my impressions of the game and put down a few thoughts on tactics and the processes embedded within.  That will be for another time, however.  Back to the painting desk for me. 

Note:  A technical error caused only a portion of the BatRep to be published earlier this morning and the original was unrecoverable electronically.  Luckily, a recent blogger "Preview" was displayed on another page.  Many screenshots and transcriptions later, the BatRep has returned (mostly) intact.  Thankfully, all was not lost.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall Cycling on the Palouse and a Taste of Winter

With weather cool but clear, cycling outdoors continued into early November.  While I much prefer cycling when temperatures are in the 70s and 80s F, a sunny day in the 40s F is tolerable once one dresses appropriately and keeps moving.
As seen from the photos, the afternoon route had little traffic and mostly sunny skies.  Nearly perfect for a two-hour, late fall ride.  Even though a bit chilly to start, this is a far superior solution than cycling indoors.
Occasionally, the first, fleeting snowfall coincides with Halloween but almost never sticks around for long.  Not the situation experienced this week.  From sunny skies and the brilliant colors of fall to a winter wonderland overnight.  With daytime temperatures hovering around freezing, these two inches of snow may linger.  Still, it may be too soon to give up outdoor cycling for the season just yet.   
One benefit of the unseasonably, early snowfall is that the winter weather and snowy ground cover nudged me in the direction of settling on a subject for the next group game.  Surrounded by a blanket of snow, a clash situated in a similarly, snowy battlefield seemed appropriate.  With encouragements to wheel out Honours of War for another game or two, Frederick's first battle on the snow-covered landscape near Mollwitz will be the focus of study.
Battle deployments- Mollwitz
I have some research and scenario design to work through but resources and help from other wargamers are at hand.  Having built an OB and laid out the troops in a preliminary deployment, details can be refined.  From the initial deployments and troop strengths, looks like the Austrians must overwhelm the inferior Prussian cavalry wings and then turn the Prussian flanks before the superior Prussian infantry can close.  This may be a good challenge for both.  On a field of white, battlefield photos will be a challenge as seen below.
Prussian right

Monday, November 6, 2017

Yes, More Assyrian Archers...

One more stand of Assyrian archers rolls off the painting desk.  This time a mix of Wargames Foundry Neo-Hittite bowmen.  By my count, this stand of nine figures makes the seventh, Assyrian Impetvs 'T' BMU to join the project.  The Assyrian army is a bow-heavy force.  Mine is no exception.  Still a few units' worth of archers remain in The Lead Pile.
Speaking of figures remaining in The Lead Pile, my figure purchases showed great restraint through the first half of 2017.  The same cannot be claimed lately.  I seem to have fallen off the wagon in late summer.  Pent up demand and all that.  Several shipments of reinforcements have arrived and stock levels have been rising for some projects.  At least another new project has not slipped into either project plans or the painting queue.  Unless, of course, several battalions of Spanish Napoleonics count. 
An assortment of projects are winding their way through the painting queue at present.  Besides the usual suspects, of late, I dip back into painting 18mm figures with a dozen SYW Austrian cuirassiers seeing some attention.

On the gaming table (it is really a mess!) is a second refight of Fox Gap and the early stages of setting up the next group game.  More details on both these activities to follow.  For now, back to the workbench.

Finally, Newline Designs has begun its annual Christmas sale in which all ranges are discounted 25%.  This is the best opportunity to add some of these fine figures into existing projects or start a new one.  I will be adding a few items to my Shopping Cart, no doubt.  For the boardgamer, MMP is holding its annual Veterans Day/Black Friday sale Nov 9-13.  Unfortunately, the game I hoped would be offered on discount is not.   

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Few Napoleonic Cavalry

A good result from maintaining a Painting Log is that accountability is easily verified.  The bad thing about keeping a Painting log is that accountability is easily verified.  What do I mean by this statement?  While work on the 28mm Peninsular War project has seemingly been absent from the painting queue for some time, I did not realize exactly how long until I checked the records.  

The last unit for the project crossed the painting desk in May 2016, exactly 18 months from today when a battalion of Badeners (see Murawski Baden Infantry) mustered out.  Well, that is hard to believe but the evidence is undeniable.
To give the project a little attention (yes, I mean a "little" attention), into the painting queue went four Front Rank French Chasseurs a Cheval.  These four troopers muster out as the third squadron of the 21st Chasseurs a Cheval.  Why only four when a typical BMU for the project consists of eight troopers?  
Several years ago, I bought a bunch of unpainted Front Rank Napoleonics from a fellow via TMP.  He would only sell figures in blocks of twelve cavalry or twenty-four infantry.  What that means is I wound up with several packets of lonely foursomes in The Lead Pile.  While I could order more figures from Front Rank to fill out the ranks, I am leaning towards building a provisional unit or two that combines two disparate squadrons into one ad hoc unit.  It happened in the Peninsula so why not on my gaming table?  I think I will pair these chasseurs up with a squadron of hussars.  Which hussars should I consider?  Any way, when I do decide to field homogeneous BMUs, I will be half way finished.
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