Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Fenian

As I mentioned in my last post, I have started painting Royal Marine Light Infantry to participate in the Pig War.  Naturally, they'll need some opponents.  Logically, these opponents should represent the United States Army from the period of 1860-1870.  So, following this logic, I've completed the first member of the opposing force.

This figure represents a member of the IRA, the Irish Republican Army, as the armed wing of the Fenian Brotherhood was known in the 1860s.  These Fenians are known for their invasions of the Province of Canada (now called Ontario and Quebec).  This model represents my best effort at the IRA uniform, as illustrated here by René Chartrand:


Although I believe the coat is supposed to be green, not blue, based on this surviving example:

So here's my attempt at a Fenian raider:



The model is from Perry Miniatures' Confederate Infantry boxed set.  I'm not about to model that truncated shako shown in the illustration above, so he's wearing a standard ACW cap (kepi or forage cap or whatever the blamed thing is called).  

I'm aware that only a small number of the Fenians would have had this uniform or anything like it, and most would have been in civilian clothing.  When I paint this fellow's comrades, more than half will have some form of civvie dress, but I wanted to start with one at least showing the green!



Saturday, 1 November 2014

RMLI Corporal's Guard

My 1870 project is officially underway!  Here are the first Royal Marines Light Infantry, who are intended to be part of the garrison stationed on San Juan Island during the Pig War.  In our world, of course, the Pig War was settled peacefully when the international arbiter, Kaiser Wilhelm I, ruled that the San Juan Islands should be part of the United States and not British Columbia.  His ruling was completely unbiased and fair, and in no way reflected Germany's interest in courting the up and coming USA or in slighting Germany's rival, the United Kingdom.  It was also consistent with the tradition that whenever a disputed segment of the Canada-US border is taken to arbitration, the decision will be in the favour of the US.  Not that I'm bitter or anything.

But that's all beside the point.  For the duration of the Pig War, the US Army and the Royal Navy maintained garrisons on San Juan Island with strict instructions not to start any stupid war.  Both sides behaved admirably, and the soldiers and marines found that they were better off competing at sports and attending each others' parties than in shooting at each other.  In my alternate history, however, this is one of the potential flash points in a world where a reduced USA (after the secession of the CSA) is at loggerheads with the UK.  

Alternately, these could be used for the 1870 Red River Expedition or to face Fenian Raids, depending on how their competing forces develop!

The figures are from Perry Miniatures new British Intervention Force.

First off, here is the corporal:



Here's a marksman



Firing line




Drummer (obviously!)


And a group shot



For some reason the corporal insists on moving each time I line a up the camera, so I'm not able to get him in focus.

More on the painting table.  They're a nice break from Alexander I's Russians!


Monday, 13 October 2014

TV time


We don't own a TV, and don't have cable.  We do, however, have the Intertubes!  As a result we get to be selective about what we watch.  There's some damn good TV available and we've been able to catch up with some of it by Netflix or DVD.

Shows we're keeping up with now or have recently watched are:

Downton Abbey (although it's getting more difficult to care about anyone other than the Dowager Countess)
Game of Thrones
Gracepoint (we're mostly watching this one so we can try to identify where each scene was shot!)
Breaking Bad (pretty much watched this late at night while bottle-feeding Erik.  Hope it doesn't affect him)
Call the Midwife (this one may also be nearing its best-before date)
Doctor Who (started with the Christopher Ecclestone series, and am now halfway through the Matt Smith years)


Watched the first season of Walking Dead, decided I didn't want to continue.

Further suggestions welcome, but bear in mind that I can only fit in one or two hours per week and I've still got a bit of Doctor Who to get caught up on!

Rewatchable movies

Painting is going very slowly, so for a change, here is a list of my favourite movies.  In this case, 'favourite' means that I would (or that I have) watched the movie many times and would happily rewatch again!  No particular order, and I've decided to limit the list to 10.

The Man Who Would Be King
Casablanca
Star Wars
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Empire Strikes Back
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Fellowship of the Ring
Army of Darkness
The Full Monty
Big Trouble in Little China
Galaxy Quest

OK, that's more than 10.  I'll expand the list a bit and add the following teams/directors/actors will generally get me to watch and/or re-watch their works:

Almost anything by the Coen brothers
Monty Python (or Terry Gilliam/John Cleese/Michael Palin/etc)
Bill Campbell

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Finally, an update!

I've been slowly filling in the ranks of Tsar Alexander I's army since my last post.  Here's what I've managed to complete since my last post in (good heavens!) May:

Yet another line infantry regiment.  If I've got it right, these fine fellows represent the Vilna Regiment.  Perry Plastic Russian Infantry, except for the drummer who is Front Rank.  It's funny, even a single metal figure on a stand makes a huge difference!



This fellow is a Front Rank Jaeger Hornist, who will replace a drummer in one of the Jaeger regiments.



Months ago, I painted a unit of Cuirassiers, and was really impressed with their uniforms, white tunics, black helmets and cuirasses.  And then found out that the Russians always brigaded cuirassiers together so that you'd never get a single squadron or regiment of them, there'd always be at least a division if there were any present at all.  So, I finally added a second unit.  These are Front Rank, and represent the Ekaterinoslav Cuirassiers.


Front Rank has a great selection of personalities for the Napoleonic wars.  I'd previously painted Generals Bagration, Barclay de Tolly and Kutuzov, and finally broke down and picked up the Tsar of all the Russias, Alexander I himself.  Of course, I immediately realized that the Emperor could not appear without an appropriate escort, so I also had to paint up a squadron of Lifeguard Cossacks.  So, here they are!




And finally, something a little different.  This disgruntled, riderless horse is from Eureka Miniatures and was produced for their 'Pig Tickler' VSF game.  I painted it for fun - it may end up being used to identify 'blown' cavalry, if I ever need such a marker.





I have a few more things to add to my army of Alexander I, but soon I will take a break from painting Russians.  I will not say that I am finished my Russian army, just that it's time to do something different for a while.  I still want to add more hussars, dragoons, cossacks, opolcheniye, and more, but I'm almost to the point where I can say I have enough for now.  And there are members of other armies sitting in the pile stoically waiting their turn on the painting table!

TTFN

Will 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Couple of WWI models for LAF

Lead Adventure Forum has a '100 Great War Miniatures' thingie going on - these are my contributions!

These two fine gentlemen are King's African Rifles from Brigade Games - they'd been sitting around my lead mountain for several years, but can now finally joint their comrades.





This one is a trench raider from Renegade Miniatures, another refugee from earlier painting who had been hiding in the lead pile.





And another placeholder!


Friday, 9 May 2014

Ataman Matvei Ivanovich Platov

Here is Matvei Ivanovich Platov, Ataman of the Don Cossacks, ready to command the cossacks from my previous post.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matvei_Platov

This model is from Front Rank, and shows him carrying his traditional mace.



Monday, 5 May 2014

Les Grognards

I'm still finding time to paint the odd unit.  This one is a bit of a cheat, I blocked in all the figures over the Christmas break but only recently came back to fill in some of the details.  Looks great from a distance, just don't look too closely!

These are Old Guard Grenadiers from Victrix.  A wonderful set of figures to paint, lovely detailed faces.  And I've got enough left over for a second unit of 24 and then some!  I've assembled this unit in marching poses; the next unit (assuming I get around to it) will be in a firing line.  It's nice to have the option to do either, and the figures were fun to assemble as well as to paint.  It helps that they are all in greatcoats - much faster to slap the paint on these!




Sunday, 27 April 2014

Tea break for Kutuzov

Nothing new today, just an older photo that I have uploaded for TMP!


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Russian Limber

Despite slow going with painting, I still managed to finish this lovely piece.  Several of the Napoleonic era rulesets require limbers and other impedimenta, and I agree that they add flavour to the table.  But they are BIG!  This is only a light (6-pdr) limber, with a 4-horse team.  It takes up nearly the same footprint as one of my 24-strong infantry units!  The 12-pdr comes with a 6-horse team - not sure I'd be up to building that, especially with getting a large enough base organised.

The set is from Perry miniatures, and I fiddled with some grey stuff modelling putty to get the extra pull ropes. 







Saturday, 29 March 2014

St Petersburg Grenadiers

I've found that being a parent to a toddler has shifted my priorities so painting has taken a back seat to more important things, like peekaboo.  However, I still get to sneak in a few minutes of painting here and there!

I've finally finished my latest unit of Russian grenadiers:


These are Perry Miniatures plastics, except the officer who is from Brigade Games (originally from the Victrix 1809 Russians).  Flags are from GMB.  I like the way that the soldier in the ferushka is giving the drummer the hairy eyeball - it's like he's wondering, "why is the drummer out of step?"

I've now got three units of grenadiers - enough for a brigade, if I ever find time for a game again!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Campaign idea - alternate North America, circa 1870

As a result of seeing these new toys posted on the Perry Miniatures website



I am going to share some ideas I have for an alternate North America for wargaming.

My point of diversion from history as we know it is during the Trent Affair.  Rather than sending an expeditionary force to support the Confederacy (which would have enraged a significant portion of the British public, especially those opposed to slavery, but also those making a great deal of money selling arms to the Union), the British decided to take action to preserve 'freedom of the seas' and "freedom of trade'.  Wielding these banners, the Royal Navy, lead by HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince, forced the USN blockade and opened the ports of the Confederacy.  Once Robert E Lee's army was assured a reliable supply of boots, rifles and ammunition, the Confederacy became strong enough to force a stalemate with the Union.

The British were careful to avoid a direct confrontation with the US, and although British forces in Canada were reinforced, US and British forces, under strict orders from their respective commands, managed to avoid a direct conflict.

As a result of the RN intervention, the Confederacy managed to achieve recognition from the Union and the map of North America was redrawn.

The state of affairs now has the United States of America in an armed standoff on multiple borders - to the south with the Confederate States of America, to the north with the new Dominion of Canada (which, while now self-governing, is still part of the British Empire) and to the west with various Indian tribes.  And in the extreme north-west, there is an armed standoff on San Juan Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, ongoing since a pig was shot in 1859.

The Confederacy is deep in debt to British and French bankers, struggling to pay for weapons and other materials provided during the War of the Secession.  Economies are hard to find, as the CSA must keep a standing army to protect against potential aggression from the USA.  And the border to the south must also be guarded, as Mexico is in chaos.

In Mexico, Emperor Maximilian is being kept on his throne by a combination of French and Austro-Hungarian soldiers against a popular uprising led by Benito Juarez (and supported by the USA).

Other forces present in North America include:

Alaska is still part of the Russian Empire, and the Tsar has stationed elements of his army to protect his interests there.  The Great Game has taught the Russians to be cautious of the British, and the Russians in Alaska face both the Royal Navy and the British mercantile interests of the Hudsons Bay Company.

In the Canadian North West, Louis Riel leads a provisional government of Metis seeking recognition from the new Dominion of Canada.  With support from Francophone Canadians (and an enthusiastic group of Zouves Pontificaux) and the Fenians, the Metis are getting ready to face an expeditionary force of Canadian militia led by Garnet Wolseley.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Fenian Brotherhood are dedicated to the overthrow of the British Empire.  Based in the USA, and sometimes receiving tacit support, they launch attacks against the British in Canada.  They have provided a battalion of Civil War veterans to support the Metis at the Red River Colony.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has set up an independent nation in Utah Territory, named Deseret.  The USA cannot tolerate this challenge within their territory and is preparing to use military force to bring the Mormons back into the fold.

It's getting late, so I'll stop there for now.

Musing on the Great War

This post isn't really about wargaming.  I'm currently reading 'The War that Ended Peace', by Margaret McMillan.  It's well-written and has gotten me thinking about the Great War, and how it was a real watershed between the world before and the world since - in many ways, there was more profound change in the world as a result of the Great War than from its much bloodier sequel.  This is a generalisation of course, as many of these trends were noticeable before the war, and in some cases the changes took years or even decades after the war to achieve.  But in general, the world before and after the war was profoundly changed.

In politics, the Great War marks the boundary between a time when Europe was the undisputed master of creation to a time when the world outside of Europe demanded attention.  Most noticeably, the USA was a regional player before the war (despite what they wanted the rest of the world to see), but after the war there was no denying the impact of American industrial, military and diplomatic power on the world stage.  Additionally, for the British Empire, the Dominions (and to a lesser extent the Colonies) claimed roles for themselves distinct from the Mother Country - the Canadians through the Canadian Corps and its victories at Vimy, Passchendale and the 100 Days, the Australians and New Zealanders at Gallipoli and also during the 100 Days, the Newfoundlanders at the Somme.  Japan had emerged as a force to be reckoned with during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, but to me that's close enough to roll in with the Great War.

Also in politics, the Great War saw a change in the way European nations were governed.  Prior to the war, the landed aristocracy ruled almost every country in Europe (except France), but by the end of the war, that had changed everywhere (again, except France!).  The German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman Empires all collapsed.  The exercise of power was moved from a small elite to (theoretically, if not in practice) to a much larger franchise representing (again, in theory) the working and middle classes.  Power had been taken away from the hereditary elite that had dominated since mediaeval times, and those wielding power needed to seek the support of the masses in a way not previously seen.  (I know, I'm exaggerating a bit here, but I'm talking about a general trend)

The practice of war changed profoundly as well.  When the armies of Europe marched to war in 1914 almost every soldier was a rifleman.  An infantry battalion would have at most one or two machine guns.  Cavalry still carried lances and expected to use them.  (The British were an exception - as a result of the South African War, they expected their cavalry to be mounted rifles, and were the only major army to equip cavalry with the same rifle as the infantry.  As it happened, the only place the cavalry really got to take on a mobile role was in Palestine.)  Artillery were expected to fire over open sights, so most guns were field pieces.  Air power was almost unheard of.

By the end of the war, the practice of war had changed.  Army organisation had been shifted right down to platoon level - a platoon commander had a variety of weapons under his direct command including light machine guns, mortars, grenades, rifle grenades and more, and could call on support from tanks, aircraft and artillery (if he was lucky).  The principles used by British platoon commanders to attack an enemy strong point (suppress with fire base while maneuver element approaches and engages in close combat) was very similar to the techniques that I learned when I was in the Primary Reserves back in the 90s.

Air power was negligible at the beginning of the war.  By the war's end, there was a recognition of the importance of controlling airspace and there were a variety of aircraft types, such as fighters (to establish air superiority), ground attack, observation, and heavy bombers, that are still to be found today.

At sea, the highly vaunted but hugely expensive battleships and battlecruisers were found to be, for the most part, not terribly useful.  Before and after one major battle (Jutland) the High Seas Fleet and the Grand Fleet spent most of their time in harbour, and the bulk of the war at sea was fought by and against U-boats.

With the centenary of the Great War approaching this summer, it's worth remembering that there was more to the war than the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.  I've only scratched the surface of what there is to learn, and I'll keep on studying (and gaming, if I can find time) the Great War.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Flight to the Berezina (draft but feel free to comment!)


Flight to the Berezina
 
We're planning a winter Napoleonics skirmish scenario this weekend.  This is what I've got so far for the game, and comments/suggestions welcome!

 

November 1812.  Napoleon’s Grande Armée is in tatters.  Groups of survivors seek to reach the Berezina River and escape from Russia. 

 

Objective:  reach the bridge over the Berezina River with as many of your comrades as possible.  In addition, each player will draw two Objectives Cards, which will provide additional victory points.

 

There will be one victory point for each survivor, 2 for each sergeant and 5 for each officer (sergeants and officers being of greater value in rebuilding the Grande Armée).  Other victory points will be assigned based on individual objectives.

 

Layout: 

·         4’x6’ table with white drop cloth or similar

·         River with bridge (the Berezina) on one of the long table sides

·         Trees – snow-covered if available, otherwise whatever is available.  Leave paths between the trees.  Treed areas are difficult terrain.

·         Russian village – Brian B to provide

·         Other terrain as available

 

Each player will get one squad as provided by Malcolm M.  Squads should be of similar strength, and each squad should have at least one leader (NCO or officer).

 

Each player will draw a card for lead character’s motivation:

 

·         I must be the last Frenchman in Russia! Bonus points for being the last character to reach the bridge.

·         The Emperor presented this eagle to the regiment with his own hands! It must not fall into the clutches of the Russians. Bonus points for getting eagle off the table. Eagle bearer will be -1 in h-t-h combat, and unable to carry more than 2 rations.

·         That scoundrel d'Hubert embarrassed me at Mme DuLeon's soirée in Strasbourg. Finally I have my opportunity to wreak my vengeance upon him. Bonus points if you duel with and kill the officer leading one of the other parties (determine which one randomly).

·         A damsel in distress must be provided all assistance! Escort a civilian lady to the bridge and ensure that no harm comes to her.

·         This whole operation has been a disaster from the get-go, but at least we managed to loot that nobleman's household. Bonus points to transport a cart full of looted goods to the bridge. Cart will be slow, unable to move in difficult terrain and will prevent the squad from carrying any extra rations.

·         Bloody French. This whole mess is their fault, and the worst part is they dragged us honest Germans (or Italians, or Spaniards, or Dutch or whatever) into it with them. Bonus points for killing French (but only if out of line of sight from the bridge!).

·         Vive La France: If two or more other players achieve their objectives, you win (you beat them).

 

Random Encounters:  each turn, players will roll a die.  On a ‘6’, the player will have a random encounter.  Draw a card:

·         Wild bear attack!  If defeated, the bear yields 6 rations.

            Bear

 

S          F          ST        G          A          W        P          FA       FT

-           6          5          5          2          3          6          0          0

 

Skills:  Heavy Furs, Scout, Dirty Fighter, Fury, Sidewinder

Abilities: Move 8”

 

 

·         Wolf pack!  A pack of wolves attack.  Wolves will run if they are defeated.

Wolf

 

S          F          ST        G          A          W        P          FA       FT

-           5          3          3          1          1          5          0          0

 

Skills:  Scout, Nimble, Dodge, Stealthy

Abilities: Move 8”

 

·         Angry peasants.  6 peasants attack with improvised weapons.  If defeated, each will yield one ration.

·         Marauding Cossacks.  6 cossacks attack.

·         Wandering French or allied civilians.  They may be attacked or assisted.  If attacked, each will yield one ration. 

·         Dead horse:  The party finds the remains of a horse.  One turn spent butchering will provide 1d6 rations.

 

Special rules or modifications to written rules:

Ammunition. Any time a '1' is rolled for shooting, the shot misses. In addition, roll again and if the result is another '1', then the figure is out of ammunition until it manages to get a resupply. This could be from a dead comrade or enemy - spend one turn and on a 4+ the figure finds a few more rounds. (NB – replaces ‘jam’ rule from LotoW rulebook)

 

Running: normal movement for figures on foot is 6". Any figure may attempt to run during the shooting phase. This will yield an additional 1d6" of movement, but if a 1 is rolled, the figure trips and falls. Running will increase fatigue level by 1.

 

Pluck tests:  As per LotoW rules subject to following modifications:

Head for the Hills test: if a squad of soldiers fails their ‘Head for the Hills’ test, then the surviving members will drop heavy loads (including weapons and rations) and either run for shelter or surrender to the nearest Russians.  Either way, the squad is effectively done.

 

Good points, Malcolm. LotOW requires figures to check their pluck to avoid ducking for cover, but the head for the hills test can be modified to either run for the nearest cover and directly away from the immediate threat, or surrender if running isn't possible (for example, if all avenues of retreat cut off).

 

Fatigue:  Any extreme exertion will increase fatigue level, and running away will be one of those things that increases fatigue. Runners should also drop muskets or other loads that they are carrying (like food), so even if they escape the immediate threat, they'll still be in a bad way.

 

Ways to increase fatigue level will include running (voluntary or otherwise), hand-to-hand combat, breaking down doors and moving in difficult terrain (deep snow, woods, or whatever else we decide on the day). Fatigue can be reduced by consuming rations. Each figure will start with two rations. Once the rations are expended, then the figure will be fatigued. I think it will be too much bother to keep track of different fatigue levels, so the only distinction will be fatigued or not fatigued. There will be opportunities to find more rations, either by stealing from other French, from Russian peasants or soldiers, dead animals and possibly from encounters or stockpiles. I'm still thinking about the potential effects of fatigue - I'm currently considering a reduction in attributes (minus one to movement, fighting ability, courage, strength and toughness), but might consider a -1 penalty on dice rolls instead.

 

 

 


Profiles

 

Heroes

In addition to what is shown on the profile below, each officer and sergeant will get one skill from p. 90 of the LotOW rulebook (randomly determined, but if an inappropriate skill is generated, then a re-roll will be allowed at the referee’s discretion).

 

Officer

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
Fa
Ft
4+
4
3
3
1
2
4
2
1

Special:  Leader

 

Sergeant

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
Fa
Ft
4+
3
3
4
1
1
4
0
1

Special:  Loyal

 

Village headman

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
Fa
Ft
6+
3
4
3
1
1
4
0
1

Special:  Leader

 

Village Priest

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
Fa
Ft
6+
2
2
3
1
1
5
0
3

Special:  The Holy Bible (per Preacher in LotOW rulebook)

 

Sappeur

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
Fa
Ft
5+
4
4
4
2
2
4
1
1

Special: 

 

Female civilian

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
Fa
Ft
4+
2
2
3
1
1
4
0
1

Special: 

 

Hoy poloi

 

Soldier

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
4+
3
3
3
1
1
3

Special:  None

 

Grenadier

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
4+
4
3
3
1
1
4

Special: 

 

Voltigeur

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
4+
3
3
3
1
1
3

Special:  Light infantry – ignore movement penalties for difficult terrain.

 

Cossack

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
5+
3
3
3
1
1
2

Special:  Life is precious.  Cossack life, that is!

 

Peasants

S
F
St
G
A
W
P
6+
2
3
3
1
1
2

Special:  Safety in numbers

 

Looking at skills or abilities for hero characters, a brief list could include:

Swordsman - rerolls 1s when using a sabre

Trick shooter - ignores penalties for cover

Sharpshooter - rerolls misses

Deadly shot - adds 1 to wound rolls

Fury - gets an extra attack when charging into a fight

Pistolier - may shoot twice if armed with two pistols (still subject to slow reload, though!)

Woodsman - no movement penalty for woods

Nimble - may reroll failed movement tests (jumping, climbing etc)

Dodge - gets a save against being wounded by shooting

Born in the saddle - +1 to riding tests (thrown rider or jump)

Strongman - no penalty for using two-handed weapons

Pugilist - counts as armed with a hand weapon even when unarmed

Dash - may take a second move in the shooting phase instead of shooting