Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Altar of Freedom & Longstreet Bases

I haven't posted for a bit about my ACW doings, so I thought I'd share my latest thoughts/plans.  I'm still playing away at the FDWC club campaign of Longstreet, and the Longstreet rules do seem to be excellent in my opinion.

However, my own taste is for large-scale battles in ACW and this is not what Longstreet is really intended for.  I had been pondering scale-changes etc. to try and do a big battle in part, but then a friend at the club put me on the the rule set 'Altar of Freedom' which is available at 6mmacw.com and from (I think) Iron Ivan.  
This does things at my favoured scale of 'one base per brigade' and the emphasis is very much on flanking with divisions and corps, while trying to manage your prickly corps-commanders so they do what you want.  
The rules themselves are pitched at 60mm x 30mm bases of 6mm soldiers, but of course I couldn't bring myself to restart ACW collecting in 6mm!  Instead I would use my numerous unpainted ACW 15mm models I've been nabbing off ebay, which proved to be available in such quantities I could do even the biggest battles from the Eastern Theatre (Gettysburg, inevitably, is the largest game).  So, how to base them in a way that lets me do Longstreeet, and also Altar of Freedom, and - if at all possible - sticks to the intended base-size for each?


The result, courtesy of a lot of well-priced stuff from Warbases, is the above.  I'm basing the infantry on 25x25mm bases for Longstreet use, then sitting two bases on a 60x30mm 'sabot' base for Altar of Freedom.  The slight overlap in sizes also gives me space to write brigade names & modifiers, as a nice extra bonus.  Artillery and supply-limbers are on 50x25mm bases normally, and so also work on the same AoF footprint.

With a scenario and game in mind as my objective, I'm now off painting and basing to get them on the tabletop as soon as I can!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

First Battle of St Albans, 1455


Monday last week, I was at the club for a game with a friend - we had promised each other for some time that we would give one of the historical scenarios in 'Bloody Barons' a go, and so we started at the start: the First Battle of St Albans.


The Main Street, which put our model-houses collections to the test!
Things actually came out rather historically, with a Yorkist victory.  The Duke of York himself was stopped in a protracted battle with the Earl of Northumberland's men, which started dramatically with a Yorkist captain being shot down right before as the two sides charged in, then their reinforcements taking their time in working their way through the alleyways to assist.  Salisbury had a slow advance due to a unit of Levies winding up at the front of the road, who were distinctly slow to push ahead.

It was Warwick in the centre who really decided things - he charged in and fought with the Duke of Somerset, who had decided to lead from the front.  Somerset took two hits and needed merely to roll 2+ on each save roll to survive: he promptly (inevitably?) rolled 'snake eyes', which is basically double-dead!  With their leader slain, the whole Lancastrian centre took to its heels, forcing the gloomy Henry VI to run for protection with Lord Clifford's men, hotly pursued by Warwick's troops (no doubt yelling explanations that this was all just a big misunderstanding!)

Henry VI with Yorkists in hot pursuit
The game came to an end at this point as the time-clock ran out, with two out of the three Lancastrian wards routed and one of their big leaders dead and another one Northumberland fleeing.  Due to the routing of one of the Yorkist household units, plus the town-scape slowing advances across the board, it came out as only a 'Marginal Win' for the Yorkists, but it certainly felt far worse!

Monday, May 26, 2014

WOTR Workbench


The last wee while has seen me gather quite a bit of Medieval stuff for the WOTR, and I have been particularly emphasizing 'personality' figures, to help make the next campaign a bit more 'narrative' in style.  So, I've stocked up  Here, in no particular order, are some of the things cluttering the work-bench.  Some were ordered pre-Carronade, but most were picked up opportunistically on the day itself!  

16 Archers from Front Rank.  Pleasantly 'chunky'-seeming next to the plastic ones, as if wrapped up against a cold day.  

4Ground house model - marvellous little thing!  It is also a 4Ground wagon, which has been stuffed with plastic Renedra barrels, to provide army supplies.

10 Archers by Old Glory.  I got these guys because they are dressed very much in the 'peasant' style, with hoods & padded armour more prevalent and metal armour much scarcer - should be good for levies.  

A pair of Perry Cannon with crew.  These are the 'single-arc' cannon for elevating the barrel, which should make a bit of contrast with my existing one (twin-arcs, looking a bit heavier)

15 Billmen by Wargames Foundry - also includes the odd captain figure.  Remarkably appealing models, some of them so long-faced and stern they are practically cartoonish - love that effect! 

Command Group by Crusader Miniatures - two generals/nobles, a herald & (a bonus?) trumpeter.  I got them because I feel my nobles would often want a bit of a 'riding company' to announce their brilliance to the world.  

Command Group by Corvus Belli - a general, standard-bearer/champion, plus a herald & trumpeter.   The champion is hoisting a sword roughly his own size, while the general looks angry enough to kill the entire world.  


Wargames Foundry Captains - excellent little bunch, perhaps fractionally on the stocky side, but how couldn't you love 'em?  I particularly like the one who is head-to-toe in plate, with only his nose poking out between his Bevor & Sallet.

Some random extra freebies here - Wargames Foundry sent me a mountainously-plumed general with my order (not period-appropriate, but he looks lovely) plus a standard-bearer of great use.  While I ransacked Colonel Bill's stand at Carronade, they gave me this peasant from their pick-and-mix box.  My first civilian commoner!

Perry mounted personalities - finally, my nobles don't have to walk!  The figures (at least notionally) are Edward IV swinging on horseback, Salisbury waving his helmet, and York sitting rather contemplatively, holding a hammer.  (Best way to ensure no interruptions while daydreaming, I suppose.)

Last, the Front Rank personality set for 'Warwick' plus a standard-bearer, a noble adviser, plus a squire close-by with a horse.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Battle of Baunton - Aftermath

Following on from the battle of Baunton, it's high time to deal with the aftermath.  I'm on the brink of new campaign phases, as mentioned in previous posts, so it's only right to tidy up the loose ends of the previous phase before moving on to fresh fields.  Let's recap on the climactic battle of our campaign!


At the start of 1461 it must have looked pretty grim for the Yorkists.  The north in rebellion; Henry VI "liberated" to join his queen Margaret; Warwick routed and fled to Calais; London lost.  Poor Edward of York was looking like a doomed man after this run of poor luck, but he was located in his Welsh-border heartlands with a good army - so when the Lancastrians marched on him to settle the whole business, he was more than happy to oblige.



The armies clashed at Baunton in a day-long grinding match, before the Yorkists emerged triumphant.  Losses on both sides were very high, but the Lancastrian army was routed off the field and disintegrated.  Result: a decisive victory for the Yorkist dynasty, and Lancastrian hopes completely devastated.  



The two sides probably lost about half their army's strengths in the battle through dead, wounded and (the majority) fled.  The Lancastrian force however then underwent a complete disintegration as the surviving nobles fled for exile.



With defeat, comes the reckoning: Henry VI has fled with his queen into exile, to France via a fast ship from Southampton.  Buckingham, his most powerful lord, is likewise heading overseas to sanctuary.  His erstwhile puppet-master, Edmund Duke of Somerset, lies dead on the field.  Edmund's son, Henry Beaufort (now the new Duke of Somerset, thanks to his father's death) is wounded & captured by the Yorkists.  Historically, Henry Beaufort led the Lancastrian army at Towton and was defeated, only to later be pardoned - apparently the Yorkist regime wanted to show it could forgive and forget, plus Edward IV and Henry apparently shared an appetite for wine and women - therefore, it seems only fair that in our re-fight that he receives some similar forgiveness.  (True, he's just had his dad killed, but 'forgive and forget' works both ways, right?) 

Many other Lancastrian nobles wound up dead on the field, or fled with the king to exile - those captured all turned out to be either related to Yorkists who would save them (Baron Neville of Raby, for example, is part of the Warwick faction) or were too minor to be worth executing in place of a flamboyant pardon.   Those that fled are, of course, attainted by the next parliament to let Edward confiscate their properties & titles.  

On the Yorkist side things are mostly rosier - fewer dead, at any rate; and prisoners are largely abandoned back into friendly hands when the Lancastrian army routs.  The one notable exception is Edward's brother - Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Rutland.  He was taken prisoner when Trollope wrecked his ward on the field, and he would have gone as a prisoner to Edward of Lancaster.  There seems little reason to doubt how the seven-year-old would have been prompted by his mother, when it came to sentencing the son of the great Yorkist usurper!  Taking a lead straight from his historical behavior at the Second Battle of St Albans, we decide that he orders Edmund beheaded on the spot.  Shame really, as if he had been spared he could have been a useful bargaining-chip for later use.  

For Edward however, the loss of his younger brother is a blow to be offset against the triumph of his house.  From tenuous control of the prisoner Henry VI a year ago, he is now the sole and undisputed ruler of England - fresh from his claim being 'vindicated by the god of battles'.  He proceeds to London where the crowds receive him, and he is crowned Edward IV.   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Carronade 2014

It's that time of year again, when I basically do my one big show of the year - the FDWC 'Carronade' show!  It was a highly successful trip for the club no doubt, but also for me personally!  


The resulting plunder of a day spent roaming the stalls:

1 Box of Perry Plastics WOTR Infantry
(Yes, I know I swore I'd never put myself through it again, but the new WOTR campaign has got me pursuing all sorts of new purchases to flesh out my medieval campaign-world!)  

Set of 'narrow road' strips for my tabletop, from S & A Scenics
(Been meaning to get scenery for ages, and I've been steadily growing my supply by getting the odd thing at each show.  Last year was streams, so this year it's roads!)

Pair of 4Ground MDF Houses - one Tudor timber framed cottage, one late-medieval dwelling
(4Ground appear to have taken over the world, as practically every stall had at least a few of their MDF kits!  I can see why, though - look good, and pretty much 'instant' terrain....)

4Ground Peasants' Ox-Cart
(I want my WOTR forces to have more of a baggage-train, so this fits the bill nicely!  Couldn't find any medieval-style tents anywhere, however.  Unfortunate.)

Pendraken pre-ordered wedge of Undead 10mm Fantasy figures
(I haven't played Fantasy since I did Warhammer in my early teenage years, back about 20-odd years ago!  I'd never pay to get back into it again, but Ric - my friend from the club - and I have recently fallen into a plan to make 10mm armies for the Mantic Games ruleset 'Kings of War' - which is apparently a quick-&-fun successor to it!  The rules are free online, look good, so that's me entering into a new wee painting project.)

Two bags of mini-sized dice & MDF 'frames' to hold them on a base
(Damage markers for the undead - I picked purple dice, to suit the creepy undead-magic vibe.)

Two paint-brushes, & two paints
(basic inventory-stock-up stuff.  Dull, but important!)

Two Perry Artillery pieces & crews
(I have, to date, got one artillery piece from them - a double-arc cannon.  I bought two single-arc cannons, to represent lighter pieces, and bring the artillery numbers up to three.  The bloody barons rule-set has many historical scenarios, and definitely shows how cannon became far more common as the period continued - time to stock up!)  

Kallistra 'Hordes & Heroes' blister - Undead Command
(Kallistra also do lovely 10mm fantasy figures, but I didn't want to use them as many come in pre-set strips, which I wasn't sure about.  However, the command pack should provide many individual 'hero' figures for use!)  

Five 'Colonel Bills' bags of second-hand figures - all WOTR
(I have officially lost my mind - more Wars of the Roses figures?!  I won't even tell you how close I came to buying a group-discount boxed set collection of the Perry plastics!  Anyway, although I was aware of Colonel Bills' shop, the fact that they traded in second-hand figures from other manufacturers' ranges had somehow slipped by without sinking in.  Seeing them at a games-day however, it suddenly dawned on me, and I went mental.  I wound up getting a bag of 4 foot command (Grenadier Miniatures); 4 mounted command with heralds, pages (Corvus Belli); 10 peasant-levy archers (Old Glory); 15 Billmen (Wargames Foundry) & 16 Archers (Front Rank) - in total, 53 individual figures - 54, if you count the pick-&-mix peasant they chucked in for free!)

Two Warbases Archery Butts
(Basic camp scenery, but cheap & fun! Plus, it has now dawned on me that I have bought very nearly 100 new WOTR figures, so they need somewhere to practice!)

So, that's that - enough to keep me going for quite the while, I should hope.  Reviewing it all, there are a few odd things that leap out - I didn't get a single rule-book or anything to read, which was surprising.  Also, besides the particular fantasy-themed project, pretty much all my focus was on growing my WOTR collection, rather than starting something new.  I was also within budget when I managed all this, so in total: I'm pretty damn happy with myself!  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spotsylvania, Early 1864

1864 has dawned, and it is time for the Confederacy to be finally conquered!  Hardtack's division is with Grant's Army of the Potomac, and taking part in the Overland Campaign.  This game sees our man somewhere close to Spotsylvania, where he has been ordered to take up position on some tributary to the Po river, and deny the rebels a chance to cross.

Very wooded ground, of course - and with streams breaking up the Federal side
Hardtack splits his force into four, putting one on each of the three fords he can find, and keeping the fourth back in reserve (the large and untested 70th New York.)

"First order of business: dig in everywhere!"
It soon becomes apparent that the left-most ford is actually far larger than previously thought, with many more crossing-places.  It also sits rather forward of the rest of the line, and this inevitably becomes the region targeted by the Confederate advance.

The crossing is watched by a group of veteran regiments: the 122NY, the 27PA, and the 1/11MA.

The Rebs come charging ahead, before all units have even managed to dig in.
The Federals dig in while just inside the woods, to save themselves casualties from the enemy artillery.  Hardtack also doesn't much about, and orders all the reserves he can to rush to the scene.

Firing begins across the rebel ranks
Things soon become desperate - the tiny 122NY is routed by the throngs of rebels, and while the 27PA keeps solid, the 1/11MA goes charging out under the leadership of it's glory-hunting "hero" Colonel!  

"Back into the river with them, boys!"
Elsewhere, a second rebel force tries to approach the central ford, btu swiftly gives it up: artillery crouched in the woodland, and the crossing practically encircled by the zig-zag trenches of two Colored regiments, just playing something is unwise enough to try a crossing.

"Washington this way!"
Over on the critical left, the 1/11MA was facing a disaster from rebel fire, but thankfully the steely Hardtack's 'Drillmaster' tendencies pay off, and they are able to fall back swiftly and in good order, back into the trees.  Rebel casualties keep on steadily mounting from the draining Federal fire, while reinforcements are getting close.

The Confederates just can't break through the wood

A panorama of the entire field
A desperate rebel charge with cold steel is met with a stone wall-like defence: rebels fall back in confusion, and the blue line holds!  Just as the Reb attacks peter out, the 70NY & 31VT arrive on the scene to relieve the battered 1/11MA.  

"Hurrah!"
Charging back into the rebel bridge-head, the fresh troops sweep through the thick smoke of the rebel defensive fire and charge home.  The Confederate attack has collapsed, and been routed back over the river!

"A Victory!"

The field at the close of day.
For the first time in a while, Hardtack has a victory to boast of - and quite a good one too, featuring successful defences and also charges back from his own side.  The Confederate forces do seem weakened now, what with their deck-sizes being plagues by shortages, and also a judicious bit of sabotage from cavalry raiders where appropriate!  The victory gives Hardtack his full promotion to the top of his military tree, a 4-Eagle commander.  

His division has to say goodbye to the disbanded 122NY, but at least the 70NY have seen the elephant and proved themselves capable troops.  One thing that all his victory produces is evidence that everybody loves a winner - he gains a 'Friend in the Statehouse' when his state's Senator decides that associating with Hardtack might not be such a bad thing, and begins pulling strings for him.  A fresh infantry and cavalry regiment are added to the division, to boost it up, plus Hardtack finally gets some further artillery reinforcements in the shape of two new Light Rifle sections.  Ah, friends in high places!

Monday, April 28, 2014

eBay & Campaign Indecision

Following on from last week, I was pondering my notion for a campaign in a more 'narrative' style.  As I wrote, I had considered putting together an ACW campaign to use my 1/72 figures in a more 'old-school' style of game.  Problem is that the notion is just as applicable to the other campaign I am progressing, the Wars of the Roses.

I spent about a week pondering the two options, weighing up the pros and cons of each.  The end result: both options have lots of 'pros' and very few 'cons'.  Nice, but not helpful about making a decision anytime before the sun burns out.  

Things came to a head when I was browsing on eBay.  I know that for wargamers, the phrase "I was browsing on eBay" ranks alongside "I set off alone to explore the haunted house": a danger signal that no good is on the way!  I found a sale, for a mountain of plastic 1/72 ACW figures.  I put in a bid, sensing it could well be a bargain.  The rest of the week was spent in a state of constant mood-swings.  

What was I buying them for?  What would I do with them?  I already had hundreds - what would hundreds more do?  I couldn't even fit them all on a table!  But imagine having them.  They'd be great!  I'd never need to buy any more ever again!  I could do Charles Grant-style massive units - think of the visual effect!  

Of course, the other question was "What about all my Wars of the Roses plans?"  I really wanted to do that too, but which one would get the first go?  Fate would have to decide.  

In the end, by the time the eBay sale ran out I had reached such a state of indecision that I had hidden my mobile phone from myself, so last-minute emails wouldn't tempt me into upping my offer!  I was outbid right in the closing minutes, and then experienced the usual mix of relief & regret that accompanies every eBay bid I ever make.  So, the ACW plans have instantly receded into the background.  Wars of the Roses have taken pole-position, and I have sent off for some new figures for them instead.  What a way to run a (miniature model) war...  :-)