Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Taps for Sergeant Larry Brom, USMC

We have just learned that my friend and comrade-in-arms Larry Brom, Sergeant, USMC, has died of a heart attack after a long illness.  Larry is the author of The Sword and the Flame colonial rules and many other rules that have provided many, many fun games for all of us over the years.  He is survived by two daughters, Lori and Christy.

I first met Larry when he was living here in Jackson in the 1970s and developing his TSATF rules.  I enjoyed a couple of games at his house while I was home on leave from the Army.  Larry and I always joked about the merits of our respective services and I had the utmost respect for his service with the Marines in the Korean War where he was awarded a Purple Heart.

Larry wrote that his father took him to see the premier showing of "Gunga Din" in Chicago in 1939 and he became enthralled with it.  It influenced the development of his wargaming rules.  So this is for you, Larry:

’E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.   
’E put me safe inside,
An’ just before ’e died,
'I ’ope you liked your drink,’ sez Gunga Din.   
So I’ll meet ’im later on
At the place where ’e is gone—
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen.   
’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!   
      Yes, Din! Din! Din!
   You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!   
   Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,   
      By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
   You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

(from Rudyard Kipling's poem "Gunga Din")

Good job, bugler!  We will miss you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Terrain Pieces by Russ

One of my wargaming buddies, Russ S., is an artist and art teacher (now retired) and does great work on both figures and terrain pieces.  At a game we had this past Saturday, he brought some new science fiction-style terrain pieces to help with the table scape for our final test of Jay's "Frogs in Space" variant of the venerable The Sword and the Flame rules.

So without further ado, I present Russ' terrain pieces.

They are constructed from gum balls (link) from the American sweetgum trees which are common in the southern US.  Russ cut them into various size pieces and glued them to a hardboard base with appropriate ground cover.  The paint job really glows and ensures one knows that these are some sort of alien growth.  The two 28mm space marine figures give a sense of the size of the gum balls.

Hope you enjoy the results.

Monday, September 14, 2015

August Painting - Highlanders and Prussians

August was a particularly busy month for wargaming as I spent most of it getting forces organized for our monster Franco-Prussian War game on Labor Day.  We had to meld the troops of four different gamers (one of whom is deceased) into coherent organizations and plan the terrain for three separate battlefields.  But everything came out mostly OK in the end as 10 players enjoyed themselves (I hope) pushing "little lead soldiers" around.  You can see pictures of the game at our club's blog - Jackson Gamers.

Please click on the photographs for a larger image.

In partial preparation for that game I completed three different Prussian units.  The first was an almost complete repaint of a battalion of 24 old Frontier Prussian infantry.  These became the 1st Battalion of the Schleswig Infantry Regiment, nr. 84, of the 18th Division, IX Corps.  The other two battalions are in the painting queue now to complete before we do this game again at the Colonial Barracks convention in November.

The 1st Battalion, Schleswig Infantry Regiment, nr. 84, led by the regimental commander

The second unit was part of my portion of an old 1" Scruby Franco-Prussian War collection that Lord Sterling, my gaming buddy, and I purchased.  These are real "old school" figures cast by one of the dean's of American wargaming back on the day.  Their sculpting is rather rudimentary by today's standard but once massed into a battalion, they hold their own.  I didn't do any repainting of these, just removed them from their old bases and glued them to Litko bases.  They are, right now, the 1st Battalion, 2nd Silesian Grenadier Regiment, nr. 11, of the 18th Division, IX Corps.  The flag is conjectural based on some internet research and the flag the Napoleonic Silesian regiments carried.  It may not be accurate but it is good enough for my purposes.

1st Battalion, 2nd Silesian Grenadier Regiment, nr. 11

The final Prussian unit is two of the three sections of a battery of Prussian heavy field artillery equipped with the 6-lb Krup breechloading, rifled cannon.  The gunners are old 1" Scruby figures.  But I have no idea who manufactured the guns.  They may not even be FPW era Krupps.  If anyone knows who manufactured these gun models, please leave a comment.  These were also part of my portion of the Scruby purchase.  I repainted the guns to give them more of an 1870s Prussian look.  We use Larry Brom's Chassepot and Needlegun rules for our FPW gaming.  In these rules a battery is presented by three gun models and six gunners portraying the six guns in the battery.

Two sections of a Prussian heavy artillery battery.

The final unit I prepared in August was a rescue from the "melting pot" bag maintained by Lord Sterling for one of our members who home casts 40mm Prince August SYW era figures.  We collect trimmings and old broken figures for him.  Lord Sterling had replaced one of his American Revolution Highland regiments with newer figures and had consigned the old, but still perfectly serviceable, figures to the "melting pot" bag.  I rescued them and combined them with a RalPartha FIW Highland officer and a MiniFig ECW bagpiper to make the 2nd Battalion, 71st Highland Regiment for my AMR forces.  They'll join the 1st Battalion, 84th Highlanders (Royal Highalnd Emigrants) in my British army.  Since Lord Sterling originally had them as the 42nd Black Watch, I had to repaint the lapels, collars, and cuffs from blue to white.  I also printed and mounted a "white-facings" regimental flag for them.  I think the figures are old Musket Miniatures, now no longer produced (only at present, I hope).

2nd Battalion, 71st Highland Regiment
Well, that's all for now.  I hope that you enjoyed looking at these recent additions to my toy soldier collection.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Napoleonic British 11th (Light) Dragoon Regiment

Last night I completed the second half of this regiment that I had started many years ago.  The first half was done back in the early Spring so I could use them in my Battle of Plancenoit convention game.

The 11th British (Light) Dragoon Regiment

These are very early Miniature Figurines (MiniFigs) with the saddle and horse blanket molded to the rider.  They'll join my small British expeditionary force for the 1813 Befreiungskrieg campaigning as part of the Armeeabteilung Walmoden in northern Germany but they may make it a little further south and find themselves ensnared in the actions of the Army of the North, especially with the Prussian III Korps.

Friday, July 24, 2015

French Heavy Artillery

My Napoleonic French army has added two new heavy (12-lbr) batteries to their artillery park.  These are 25mm Miniature Figurines (MiniFigs) guns and crews that I have acquired over the years and finally gotten painted and based.

In the rule set I use, The Sound of the Guns by Larry Brom, each battery is represented by a number of guns and two gunners per gun.  Each gunner represents two actual guns so a 6-gun battery would have three guns and six gunners.

Heavy Battery number one with four 12-lb guns and two howitzers

Heavy Battery number two with four 12-lb guns and two howitzers
My Napoleonic forces are developed around the 1813 Befreiungskrieg (War of Liberation) campaigns.  These French batteries are slightly under strength since so many guns were lost in Russia in 1812.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bayou Wars - The Convention

As my third and final posting, I'm featuring some of the other games that were being run at our regional convention - Bayou Wars.  Some of you might recognize a few familiar faces.

Travis M. (center) from Vicksburg, Miss. ran a demonstration of his new strategic board game on the American Civil War.  It seemed to be popular with the crowd and the players were having fun.

One of several runnings of Portsmouth Games Bloody Broadsides games using their very nice 1:900 scale Napoleonic ships.

Editor Julia watching the racing during one of Bill M.'s "Rubbin' and Racing" games.  I played in this one and had a great time.
Ken H. (white head in center) checks line of site during his British versus French skirmish game "Search for Pigs" using Two Hour Wargames 95th rules.  I think the French won as they were able to corral some mighty meaty heifers and get them away from the "rosbifs."
An American Civil War game based on the Confederate attack on Baton Rouge, Louisiana, using the Regimental Fire and Fury rules and 20mm figures.

An American War of Independence game involving a very nicely made stockade with 25mm figures.

A Bolt Action game between the Germans and the Russians.

A Call of  Cthuhlu board game using some very nicely made large figures.

Doc Ord (a fellow Jackson Gamer and TMPer) runs his 28mm Indian Mutiny game using one of our favorite rule sets, The Sword and the Flame.  I was a mutineer player and we beat back the redcoats and their Indian lackeys very handily.

Mark Bobe of Bobe's Hobbies, talks with Ken H.  Mark had a very nice dealer set-up with products for several different gaming genres.  I bought a very nice book from him - Byzantine Armies: 325 AD - 1453 AD by Dimitri Belezos with very colorful illustrations by Christos Giannopoulos.  So far it has been a wonderful read.  Portsmouth Games (Jeffrey Hunt) and my old Army buddy Rudy Nelson were also there as dealers, along with several role-playing dealers.

A Persians versus Turks game set in the mid 1400s, using modified Field of Glory rules.

Dudley G. lecturing the players before the start of his "Race for the Maus" WW2 game between the Americans and the Russians, using the Command Decision Test of Battle rules.

The first part of  two part game involving a secret Nazi base somewhere off of the southern tip of Argentina.  The second part, of which I didn't get a picture, featured the action inside the underground base that was revealed when the "roof" was lifted off the terrain piece pictured here.

A big fortress assault in medieval times with siege engines, siege towers, and a cast of hundreds of figures.

A Star Wars - The Clone Wars game using 28mm figures and a modified version of Warhammer 40K rules.

A strategic Seven Years War board game's action involved a number of players.

And to keep with the "Epic Battles" theme, the battle at Wavre (1815) was recreated using 15mm figures and Field of Glory Napoleonic rules (I think).
Well, that was this year's Bayou Wars.  All in all a very nice regional convention with a number of interesting and well laid-out games.  As far as I could tell, everyone was having fun.

Even Editor Julia as she watches a Bloody Broadsides Napoleonic naval game.  A group of us, including Ken and Teresa H,, Bill H., and I took her to supper Friday night at one of the St. Francisville local eateries - The Magnolia Grill.

Bayou Wars - The Convoy

As I stated in my previous post, "Bayou Wars- Battle at Plancenoit," the theme for our regional convention was "Epic Battles - 1215, 1415, 1615, and 1815."  My second game of the convention was based around events in the 1415 Agincourt campaign.  As you will recall the English army was short of supplies so I developed a game based on the "Convoy" scenario from the Lion Rampant rules where an English force is attempting to get some supplies to the main army and the French are trying to stop them.

Each side had three 12-point balanced retinues, plus the English had one additional unit whose sole task was to escort the six laden pack animals.  Each retinue had a mounted sergeants unit (6 figures), a foot sergeants unit (12 figures), and a foot missile unit (12 figures).  The entire English command entered from one corner of the battlefield and had to make it diagonally across the battlefield to the opposite corner.  The three French retinues each entered at one of the other corners with the task of intercepting the English and capturing the pack animals.

I only took three photos since I was trying to keep the game going smoothly and quickly.

One of the English commanders tries to move his troops.  The English initially had problems motivating their troops but eventually got out to engage the French.

The hand of one of the French commanders is moving his foot sergeants forward.  This French commander had the worst luck with the dice (as usual for him) and lost all three of his units.  This allowed the English to start ganging up on the other two French commanders.

As their archers trail behind, another French retinue moves quickly past an unusual visitor.

The English were finally able to destroy almost all of the French units and kill two of the three French commanders with the third falling back since he couldn't rally himself.  So Henry got some supplies, fed his troops, and went on to glory at a place called Agincourt.

All of the troops are vintage medieval figures from a number of manufacturers, most gone in the mists of time.  I've had some of these guys for over 30 years.

I've played several games now with the Lion Rampant rules and have had a good time with them.  Although they are easy to learn, the tactical tricks to using each of the different types always makes the games very interesting, and sometimes frustrating.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bayou Wars - Battle at Plancenoit

The theme for our regional convention, Bayou Wars, was "Epic Battles - 1215, 1415, 1615, and 1815."  For the latter, I ran a scenario featuring the Prussian attack on the right flank of the French army at Waterloo.  I used Sam Mustafa's new rule set, Blucher.

The scenario pitted the four "brigades" (actually divisions) of the Prussian IV Korps against the French VI Corps and some supporting cavalry.  The Prussians also had the assistance of the brigades on the Anglo-Allied left as well as the lead elements of the I and II Korps.  The French also had the assistance of the 4th Division of the 1st Corps facing the Anglo-Allied left flank as well as reinforcements from the Imperial Guard.

The Prussian objective was to seize the town of Plancenoit and threaten the rear of the French army.  The French, of course, were to prevent that.

The French 6th Corps occupies Plancenoit and deploys north of it.  In the mid distance are the French cavalry and in the far distance is the French 4th Division and the left end of the Anglo-Allied army.  All of the "big" events -- La Haye Sainte, Hougoumont, British and French cavalry charges, and final charge of the Imperial Guard -- happen off the table to the left.  In the middle of Plancenoit you can spot a "special" visitor.  The inverted cup is used to "hide" the opposing player's movement point dice from him.

As the Prussian 15th Brigade advances in the foreground, one of the Prussian commanders deploys the 14th Brigade as it enters the battlefield.  The Prussian IV Korps would eventually have four brigades (divisions), each of three regiments (brigades), plus cavalry and artillery.  Overall, the Prussians and Anglo-Allied forces would out number the French 2 : 1.

Looking south from the Anglo-Allied left flank, the French 4th Division brigades are prepared against possible Prussian cavalry attacks.  In the middle ground the Prussian and French cavalry swirl around as charges and counter-charges sweep back and forth across the field.  In the background the stalwart Prussian infantry advances towards Plancenoit.

Anglo-Allied Nassau and Hanoverian infantry get involved in the fight against the French 4th Division with somewhat limited success.  In the upper left a long line of Prussian infantry and artillery continue their deliberate advance.

The fighting around Plancenoit intensifies as Prussian infantry and artillery (left) push forward, resisted by French forces.  The brigade in the far upper right is Young Guard reinforcements.  The Prussians had to break a certain number of French brigades in order to seal their victory.  That brigade of Young Guard was the "straw" that would break the French back.  And it happened in the final melee of the final turn, the game was that close.

Overall it was a good convention game.  All of the players seemed to be having fun and getting involved in the game.  I tried to keep the action moving along.  As stated above, the game came down to the very final melee on the last turn before the Prussians broke the last French brigade (Young Guard) that they needed to seal their win.  They never captured Plancenoit but had almost broken through the French center north of there.  The result was that Blucher got his revenge on the French.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Prussian Brandeburg Uhlans

As part of the preparation for my Plancenoit Waterloo game earlier this month, I completed one last Prussian unit, the Brandenburg Uhlans (Uhlan Regiment Nr. 3), which was in 1813 assigned to the cavalry reserve of I Korps in the Army of Silesia.

The figures are Miniature Figurines (Mini Figs) with a mix of kollet and litewka uniforms.  The bases are from Litko and are 2" x 2" x 8mm.


According to the various references I consulted, the officers carried a white varnished lance.  Sometime in 1813 that distinction was eliminated but I think it makes the "command" stand more apparent so I kept it.  I still have to do the lance pennants.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Convoy, France, October 1415

On Memorial Day, the Jackson Gamers gathered to help me play test a scenario for a game at our regional convention, Bayou Wars, next month.  I'll be using the Lion Rampant rules to run a medieval Agincourt-era game.

The scenario is called "The Convoy" and revolves around an English foraging party trying to get supplies to Henry's hungry army.  Needless to say, the French don't want that to happen.

The two sides were equal, each with three players controlling a retinue of three units - one mounted serjeants, one foot serjeants, and one missile armed.  The English started in one corner of the battlefield and had to exit with as many supply animals as possible in the opposite corner.  The French started in the other three corners (including the English exit corner).

The English players were Sir Alex, Sir Phillip, and Sir Rick while the French players were Sieur Russ, Sieur Ed, and Sieur Sean.  Lord Sterling got there a little late and acted as a kibitzer and purveyor of guidance and wisdom.

The English army deploys and begins to advance.  Each of the three archer units were guarding supply animals.

Sieur Russ looks to one of his other French commanders for advice.

Sieur Ed is thinking hard about how they could defeat the English.

While the English forces continue their movement, an unusual visitor appears.

Later in the battle, Sire Ed (left) challenges Sire Alex (right).  A battered Sir Phillip looks on (far right).   Blows are exchanged ...

But Sieur Ed falls to Sir Alex's swift sword.

The battle ended not long after the above challenge combat.  The English weren't able to make much head-way, getting bogged down trying to first defeat Sieur Russ' retinue and the fending off the mounted serjeants of Sieur Ed and Sieur Sean.

There are a number of changes I'll be making in the scenario, the largest allowing the English to start deeper into the battlefield.  We'll see how it goes next month at Bayou Wars.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pentacost and Memorial Day Sunday

Today is the Christian holy day of Pentacost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles.  We celebrated it in our church with "flames" and doves decorating our sanctuary.

The choir was all dressed in red and a large number of our church members wore red in some shape or fashion.

We also recognized our veterans, especially our departed comrades.

And I did my own "celebrating" by watching the Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indianapolis 500,and the Coca-Cola 600!

Yee hah and Amen!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Battle at Plancenoit - Play Test

On Saturday, May 16, the Jackson Gamers gathered so that I could play test my Napoleonic game for our regional convention, Bayou Wars, which takes place June 12-14.  The theme of the convention is Epic Battles - 1215, 1415, 1615, and 1815.

I chose a scenario to replicate, as best as I could, the Prussian IV Korps attack into Napoleon's right flank at Waterloo and the resulting fighting over the town of Plancenoit.  At first I was going to use our standard Napoleonic rules The Sound of the Guns by Larry Brom.  But after some thought I realized that using them would entail too many units for a convention game.  Luckily my good war gaming buddy Lord Sterling had recently bought a copy of Sam Mustafa's new rule set Blucher.  After a couple of games under my belt, I decided that I would use that rule set, where the "brigade" is the basic maneuver unit.

After some research and re-reading of various books, mainly Peter Hofschroer's two volume 1815: The Waterloo Campaign, I arrived at my order of battle.  The Anglo-Allied left flank would be represented by one British, two Hanoverian, and two Nassau infantry brigades and two British cavalry brigades, all controlled by one player.  The attacking Prussians would consist of the entire IV Korps (controlled by two players) and the reinforcing lead elements of the I and II Korps (controlled by one player).  The defending French would have Durutte's division, three cavalry divisions, and Lobau's VI Corps (all controlled by two players), with the Old and Young Guard reinforcements controlled by a third French player.  This gave a strength of 40 Allied units versus 20 French units.

Now to some pictures of the action (photos by John M. and me):

With the French defenders deployed around Plancenoit (left center) and in an arc above Plancenoit and the Anglo-Allied left wing around Haye and Papelotte (top of picture), the Prussians begin their deployment along the right side of the battlefield.  The playing area was an 8' x 5' table set-up.
The Prussian 15th Brigade (division) and its accompanying cavalry advance against the French.
As French (left) and Prussian (right) cavalry charge and counter-charge in the foreground, John maneuvers his British cavalry so they can get into the action against Durutte's division.
A close-up of the cavalry action in the center.  A French cavalry brigade and a Prussian Landwehr cavalry brigade tangle in the middle while French chasseurs and hussars maneuver to the lower right and more Prussian cavalry advances from the upper left.
An overview of the battle taken from behind the Anglo-Allied positions at Haye and Papelotts.
A close-up of some of the cavalry action.  Each movement base is a brigade equivalent consisting of two stands, each with four infantry or two cavalry figures.  Artillery is either attached to and subsumed in an infantry brigade or gathered into "grand" batteries with two guns and four gunners representing a larger number of guns.
Here is an example of the "brigade" movement stands seen  from the rear.  The identification characteristics include, along the top, the movement rate (in this case 2 or 1 base widths for the infantry), the unit identification, and any special characteristics (such as skirmish for both Nassau  "brigades").  Along the bottom are the "strength points" for the unit and whether or not it has attached artillery (as does the 2nd Nassau).

All measurements are in "base widths" which in this game's case was 3".  The dowel above was cut 12" long and then divided into four 3" segments by the color bands.  This was used to measure movement, infantry fire, and short range artillery fire.  A longer dowel (24") was used to measure long-range artillery fire.
More swirling cavalry action in the center, but now the French massed horse artillery (right center) can get into action against the Prussian cavalry.
The Guard marches on behind Plancenoit with one "brigade" of Old Guard, one of Middle Guard, and four of Young Guard.  In the upper right is a portion of one of the Prussian objectives, part of the French trains.  Plancenoit (lower center) was the other Prussian objective.


With most of the French cavalry defeated, the left flank of the Prussian IV Korps marches forward towards Plancenoit (off picture to left).

Durutte's French division (with four brigades) attacks the Anglo-Allied line at Haye and Papelotte.

A higher angle shot of Durutte's assault.
Two of the combats were successful, forcing the opposing Hanoverian militia  brigades to fall back.  But the other two weren't successful and those French brigades had to fall back, opening Durutte's now scattered division to the two British cavalry brigades (on far right of Anglo-Allied line).
Although the French guard reinforcements were marching onto the battlefield the rest of the French army was pretty much shot.  All of the cavalry and two of Durutte's brigades were destroyed.  Lobau's VI Corps (five brigades) was still pretty much intact but it would soon be assaulted by nine Prussian infantry brigade-equivalents supported by five to six battery groups.  Night was fast falling and the main French army was streaming away to the south, shouting "Sauve qui peut!!" at the top of their lungs.  Thus the play test ended without any struggle over Plancenoit.
After some discussion, I resolved to have the Prussian IV Korps set up further in and bring the forward elements of the II Korps on at the beginning instead of waiting.  I also will impress on the Prussian players that they must press their attack as swiftly as they can since the main Anglo-Allied army's position is in grave peril unless they can drive into the rear of the French army quickly.
And some observations on Blucher.  It is a fairly easy rule set to learn to use, once the players get the movement sequence in their heads.  But the finesse of figuring out when to move units and in what sequence will take more than just a game or two.  The uncertain movement orders available to each side gives it a definite "fog of war" feel.  Ranged artillery and infantry fire seemed to produce too few casualties but that may be a left over from our other Napoleonic rule set mentioned above.  We will definitely play this rule set again, many times  I feel.