Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1/72 American Civil War

I'm still progressing with the Waterloo Campaign painting in 1/72 scale, but this is clearly going to be a long-term thing.  Lots of slow & tedious painting just to get things out of the way, with precious little by way of a game.  Something else is needed; something to cash in on the excellent price of the 1/72 plastics, and bring more short-term rewards than the long-term 'big daddy' project of them all!  

I've taken the plunge and decided to buy some others for another period I've always struggled to find a good scale to game in - the American Civil War.  I've played it in DBA-games of 2mm and 15mm, but the scale I wanted wasn't really there (it was in 2mm, but I had unwisely based the 2mm on too-small bases, which makes them painfully 'fiddly', and I didn't want to invest in more just yet.)  I even got some Perry 28mm figures a long, long time ago.  Problem is though, that if I want to do ACW on a big scale (and let's be honest, I probably do want to do things on a big scale) then a balance has to be struck between the biggest possible figure size and the economy of fielding a large number of them on a table.  

As I've covered before, the cheap price of 1/72 figures (or, more accurately, my belated realisation of it) has been a real game-changer.  As such, I've bitten the bullet and placed an order online for a bunch of 1/72 ACW figures.  My plan is to build things up to roughly a 1-base-per-brigade level, but each base is being done strictly on 'DBA' lines so just 4 figures are required for a unit (as compared to 10 on the big 'Waterloo' system.)  This should keep the whole project strictly 'small scale' in painting terms and 'big scale' in game terms.  In fact, in terms of scale it's roughly on a level with Big Battle DBA (or BBDBA, where all base-numbers are trebled.)    

So, the order: I've sent off to Gladstons (a shop I found with some online searching, previously called for 3 boxes each of Confederate Infantry (by Italeri, who seem to do some of the best figs from what I've seen so far) and three of Union Artillery (seems there's no Italeri Confederate Artillery, as they're interchangeable.  Also, most ranges only ever seem to have 2 Cannon per box as opposed to the 3 or 4 you get in Napoleonic boxes - at least I've lots of caissons for camps, etc!)  I've also rounded it off with a single box of Cavalry figures.  My aim is to make up the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) in full, with the Union's Army of the Potomac to follow at a later date.

Also, what of Generals?  It seems that the plastic ranges generally do the rank & file quite well, but command is a rarity.  I decided that I'd need some commanders, and so resolved to also get some lead figures to go with the plastic.  Although 1/72 would imply 25mm scale for a typical 6-foot man, I gathered from reading advice forums online that this tended to be a bit over-generous and looked odd.  20mm seems to be the 'go to' figure scale to combine with the 1/72 plastics.  Shame I don't have any 20mm collections!  After a bit of looking about for a UK-based manufacturer, I settled on Newline Designs and decided to 
give them a chance.  They didn't have any specific 'Generals' in figure form, but they do 'Mounted Infantry command in a slouch hat' so I figure that's near enough to modify as needed.  

Last, I need bases.  I used to make them myself, until it dawned on me how cheap it was to buy them from suppliers.  I went to Warbases to get some, and bagged a couple of sets made from 2mm MDF.  The plan is to follow the recommended basing system from DBA, which for 20/25mm means a 60mm frontage and 30mm depth for infantry.  I have also got a set of 60mm x 60mm bases for the artillery and cavalry (coincidentally also the size I'm using throughout in the Waterloo set, so it'll be interesting to get a look at them.)

The plan is to base the figures right away, and paint them when mounted.  This has worked pretty well for me in the past on projects like the 10mm WW2 Desert Campaign figures I bought.  Sadly it's not usually possible for things like my 15mm Seven Years' War armies or my Waterloo project, as they tend to be packed with figures and therefore impossible to paint after basing.  This more restrained project has only 4 infantry figures to a base, and should therefore be viable.  Delivery should take place within the next few days!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Aftermath of Gerrards Cross

Warwick, in happier times

After posting the previous 'AAR' of Gerrard's Cross, through captioned photos, I thought I'd give a brief recap of what happened in a more text-friendly manner. The battle turned out as a crashing Lancastrian triumph which put both king & capital back in their hands.

Surprised in a defended position meant that the Yorkist right under Fauconberg was late to the field, and fought its battle largely isolated from the rest. That would've probably been okay with a line of defences protecting the rest of the line, but the Yorkist centre under Trollope switched sides to join the Lancastrians just before the two battle-lines closed on each other. Rather than fight on the defences with his flank being hit by the turncoats, Warwick pulled back and Trollope was crushed between the two Yorkist wings, his command destroyed but he managed at least to slip away...

With that, the advantages of the defended line were lost and Buckingham's men swept over it to engage Warwick in the open. There was a long and protracted combat but Warwick's demoralised men and the half-hearted London levies gradually had the worst of it before breaking. Warwick had also put a river on his left flank and now he was fighting at 45 degrees to his original line, it was a serious risk that if/when his army broke, lots of the men would be trapped between the Lancastrians and the river.

In the event, an astoundingly fortunate number of nobles survived the roll in the rout phase to check on their fate. Warwick himself got clean away, as did Fauconberg, Lord Wenlock (in charge of the London levies) similarly fled without being captured or killed. The Lord Saye & Sele, who had been commanding part of Warwick's host on the extreme left, did best on the actual day of battle but this just put him deeper into the noose when it came to the rout. He was killed off in the confusion of trying to escape. This run of otherwise good escapes is the only thing that saved the battle from being an unmitigated Yorkist disaster. Total losses were about 5,500 on the field itself, of which the Yorkists lost about 4000 - plus another 8,500 that slipped off home in the aftermath, meaning that the Nevilles escape to Calais with only a fragment of their force. One of the principal Yorkist armies has been entirely destroyed.

On the Lancastrian side, it could be that the Earl of Wiltshire has had his day. He was wounded on the field in combat, and also drew a 'happenstance' card which delayed him moving due to dysentery. His 40-year age, plus the illness & wound, makes me minded to 'retire' him from the game. (The fact he's rated 'timorous' and thus weakens every Lancastrian army he appears in is purely coincidental!) Apart from this loss, the Lancastrians have recaptured the king Henvy VI from the abandoned Yorkist camp, reunited him with wife & son, and captured the capital city. London was historically pro-Yorkist, but with Warwick destroyed on their doorstep and fleeing for Calais and exile this very day, it's not like they have much of a choice. The Lancastrian faction once more holds king & court in the sullen capital.

Not that the Yorkists are done yet, of course. There's still Edward to the west in Wales, not to mention the two Northern armies still stalking each other across the Ridings. But that, at least, is for another battlefield to decide. :-)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Battle of Gerrards Cross, 1460

(Click to enlarge, if you wish - hopefully it should work!)