Friday, April 28, 2017

Crossing the Niagara - 1812

A  recent visit to Casa del Bairos in the happy burg of Cambridge saw a first attempt at a scenario from Mike Hobbs' recent publication, The War of 1812 - A Campaign Guide for Sharp Practice. We chose Crossing the Niagara, mainly because it provided an opportunity to try out the new 1812 buildings. Overall, this Sharp Practice supplement is quite good and was obviously the result of a lot of work on Mr Hobbs' part. But as a typical gamer, I have a few issues with unit ratings - particularly with the 1812 lists. Here are a few highlights of changes I've made...

US Regular Infantry (1812): This is the most obvious concern (at least to my mind) when rating US regulars in 1812 as, umm.. regulars! Even to American commanders at the time, the regulars were often considered at par with or even worse than the state militias  (re: training, motivation, and equipment). Putting them on a par with British line infantry (at least before considering other characteristics) is, I believe, a mistake. The British infantry were professional soldiers, albeit perhaps somewhat off their game because of prolonged garrison duties in the colonies. The US regulars by contrast were, for the most part, recently recruited and barely trained. I've chosen to downgrade the US regulars to conscripts and volunteers.

US Regular Infantry - Flank Company (1812): The supplement lists these troops with the Sharp Practice characteristic. I believe that this should be reserved only for those troops who demonstrated a superior initiative that allowed them to give fire more often than other troops. The flank companies of the US infantry should, in my view, be no better than any other US infantry in 1812, and definitely not on par with their British counterparts. Thus, I've taken this characteristic away.

 US Militia (1812): The supplement rates these as militia but since I'm of the opinion that they were pretty much indistinguishable from the US regulars, I've upgraded them to conscripts & volunteers. In fact, in the real battle, the militia distinguished themselves rather well in the opening stages (given that they were reluctant to cross, the horrible mismanagement of the crossing logistics, and the landing on a strange shore in the dark).

British Regular Infantry (1812): I see that the stat line in the supplement for these units is pretty much lifted from the Peninsular list, including Thin Red Line. I've yet to read of a British infantry battalion in the War of 1812 loosing a volley and then charging the enemy, as is stereotypical of the Spanish campaign (I could be wrong here but I don't think so). Thus, I've removed that characteristic.

So enough of my tinkering... some photos of the game...

Overview of the table (with a rather pathetic attempt to show the blue of the Niagara River to the right... blame it on inferior software).
The British Deployment point can be seen in the outskirts of Queenston Village to the left. The American deployment points appear as the US troops land on the river bank. The Americans must fight their way across the table towards Queenston before British/Canadians can fully deploy in defence of the village.

New York militia begin to land and shake themselves out into line. I'm not sure how Van Rensselaer ferried his horse over the river. As a side note... in the scenario, Major General Van Renssalaer is listed as commanding the first wave of the landing. This is, in fact, untrue. His cousin, Lt Col Solomon Van Renssalaer commanded the troops in the opening stages (which this scenario is attempting to model). Stephen, the general, Van Renssalaer was at this time overseeing the horribly chaotic embarkation point on the American side of the river.

British regulars appear in response to the American landing.

The New York militia begin to make their way towards Queenston.

The regulars occupy the churchyard in anticipation of an assault.

The regulars Present Arms and are joined by light troops.

 New York militia skirmishers and US regulars join the advance.

The commander of the US regulars trips and falls. Luckily, his troops had been less than enthusiastic about advancing on the British-held village and were out of immediate danger.

New York militia probe the British right flank but more Canadian militia (masquerading as regulars) have marched out of Queenston and secured the flank. Nowhere to go... but back, as it turned out!

 Similarly, militia skirmishers probe the left flank but prove to be too few in number as the British commander moves yet another regular unit forward to bolster the lights defending the fence-line.

The British defence of the village proved to be too firm and the Americans fell back to the landing areas. The British commander was reluctant to leave the relative safety of the village and declined to pursue. Thus, The Americans were able to maintain their bridgehead. We deemed the battle a draw, as the Brits had neither broken the American Force Morale nor captured their Primary Deployment Point on the river bank.

Some tweaks will be made to the scenario for another playtest in advance of RayCon at the end of May. The British/Canadian deployments will probably be staggered further apart to allow the Americans more of chance to get near the village before it is completely defended and the river itself will take up 8-12 inches of the table, reducing the distance required for the Americans to move from the bank to the village.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We will build a town...

My recent trips to Cold Wars and HotLead saw a haul of North American buildings suitable for the War of 1812. Since I've been in a bit of figure-painting lull, I've instead been beavering away at these and recently finished enough to put together a small photo shoot at Casa del Trenton. Now I just need to get in gear for painting the Anglo-Canadian force for Sharp Practice 2.

L-R: Perry Miniatures farmhouse; scratch-built cottage; Renedra fences; Sarissa church.

Surprisingly, the Renedra fencing took more time than anticipated. The posts weren't the best and I had to fashion several new ones from balsa. The end result is quite nice though.

Old Glory early war US regulars marching past the Sarissa church. This was a pleasure to build and is an impressive model (but more of this anon).

L-R: Old Glory storehouse/barracks; scratch-built two-story house; Renedra barn.

Pennsylvania militia riflemen occupy the farmyard. The Renedra barn is a lovely little model, easy to build and paint.

A better view of the Sarissa church. I was unhappy with the roof (because of the anchoring tabs showing so glaringly) so decided to fashion a new one. This was a relatively simple but lengthy process of scored balsa sheets (the steeple fittings were particularly fiddly). The most difficult part was achieving the weathered wood look. After some discussion with various members of the non -wargaming crowd, i settled on a brown base coat, followed by successive drybrushings of greys, and finally a wash of sepia. Quite pleased with the result I am.

A view of the Old Glory blockhouse. Not sure how often this will be used in a game but when it does make an appearance, it'll be fun! Just need a wooden palisade to go with it.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gourmandie - 100% complete (for now)

And so it began with a single figure in December 2010...

The army of Le Grand-Duc de Gourmandie began with this lonely figure of Phillipe Grand-Nez, Comte de Roquefort and has evolved somewhat to this...

And the army, I can now say, is complete!! Scoff if you must but there are no current plans to expand. The army of Prince-Archbishop Clemens August of Saint-Julien (uncle to Pierre Louis of Gourmandie) will most probably ally with Gourmandie and add four battalions of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry and two guns. So although this will boost the army's numbers... they're not strictly Gourmadnie... so, still complete!

Looking back over the blog, I see that the evolution of this project, and particularly the army of Gourmandie, has spanned about six and a half years. So it was that the last 12 figures for the army were the most difficult to complete. In fact, they sat on my desk 80% complete for almost four weeks. I just couldn't get myself to do the last couple hours of work. I finally buckled down and came up with this...

Chasseurs-Gardes de Gourmandie
(Crusader Miniatures; GMB flag)

And the entire brigade (75% of which was added this year) ...

2e Brigade
 Jean-Jacques LaPierre, Comte d'Auvergne
(front to back)
Chasseurs-Gardes de Gourmandie
Fusiliers-Gardes de Gourmandie
Grenadiers de Champaigne
Grenadiers de Camembert
(Crusader Miniatures; GMB flags)

And some gratuitous shots of some of the rest of the army...

1er Brigade
Phillipe Grand-Nez, Comte de Roquefort
(front to back)
1er/Infanterie Roquefort
2e/Infanterie Roquefort
Artillerie de Roquefort
1er/Infanterie d'Auvergne
2e/Infanterie d'Auvergne
Artillerie d'Auvergne
(Crusader Miniatures; GMB flags)

3e Brigade
Henri Sanglier, Vicomte de Champaigne
(front to back)
1/1er Artillerie de Gourmandie
2/1er Artillerie de Gourmandie
1/2e Artillerie de Gourmandie
2/2e Artillerie de Gourmandie
(Crusader Miniatures; Front Rank Miniatures)

Friday, March 3, 2017

ImagiNations Narrative Campaign - reboot

And so, a revamping of the ImagiNations Narrative campaign... a new map, some amendments to the rules, new armies...

The map has remained the same in a general sense but much has changed in detail. After much thought, I decided I wasn't happy with the previous map for various reasons. So, in essence, a reboot of the entire world was warranted. Most glaringly, the national borders have changed, with capital cities marked in red. Gourmandie and KaiserReich remain the two largest nations and maintain the original enmity. They, in fact, produce the basic engine for conflict in the region. Nordstrum and Libagioni remain, although with slightly altered borders. Libagioni, for example, now has no border with Gourmandie, despite their long-standing friendship (based more on Libagioni's hatred of KaiserReich than any particular love for Gourmandie... aside from their shared state Catholicism, of course). St Julien now occupies the south-west portion of the map and is ruled by Prince-Archbishop Clemens August, uncle to Grand-Duc Pierre Louis of Gourmandie (seemingly an ally but...). Some nations have internal provincial borders and principal cities and these are indicated in green.

The Eastern Reaches remain as a potential source of alliances or conflict, depending upon the Christian states' tolerance of or opposition to un-Holy Islam. There also remain a number of un-named states at the peripheries. These will remain neutral for the immediate future.

Only those nations in the north potentially have navies (Libagioni, Nordstrum, and the un-named neutral state to the northwest). The sub-continent (somewhere across the sea), wherein the majority of Libagioni and Nordstrum colonies reside, will shortly make an appearance.

Le Grand-Duché de Gourmandie

Le Grand Duché de Gourmandie is ruled over by Grand-Duc Pierre Louis. His armies are commanded by Jean Lafitte Roquefort, Marquis de Fromage. The Grand Duchy is a hereditary territory, having passed from son to son for more than 300 years. The ruling family is notoriously conservative and the Grand Duc normally sends the Catholic Arch-Bishop Ambroise de Chabichou du Poitou into the field with his army to ensure adherence to God's Will and the moral rectitude of the men.

Das KaiserReich

Das KaiserReich, a strictly protestant state, is ruled over by KronPrinz Friedrich Wilhelm, who also personally commands his army in the field. The state is rigorously controlled by an efficient and ruthless bureaucracy, at the head of which sits The Council of Twelve, a group of influential and wealthy burghers. Constant strain and tension between the hereditary rights of the KronPrinz and the economic and personal interests of The Council serve to limit the powers of the royal family. Thus, many of the regiments that make up the army are militia, raised and paid for by their Inhabers, landed gentry from the various districts of the Reich (most of whom are closely tied to the royal family by blood or obligation).

Ducato di Libagioni

Centered around the Vedicchio Lagoon, Ducato di Libagioni relies upon its sizeable navy to project it's regional power. Supported by multiple small colonies and settlements along the Nebbilo coast and overseas, the Duchy once held considerable economic power. Due to the rise of Das KaiserReich to the south, the Duchy's holdings and territories have gradually shrunk. The soldiers of Libations are known for their eastern aggression and liquid courage.

Saint Julien

Prince-Archbishop Clemens August of Saint-Julien (an uncle 
of Pierre Louis, Grand-Duc de Gourmandie) is the particularly wicked and  malevolent leader of L'inquisition, an institution whose aim is to aggressively combat heresy in the Catholic faith (and, in fact, in all Christendom). He is Prince and Archbishop of Saint-Julien, Prince-Bishop of Koblenz, Bishop of the dioceses of Cologne, Aachen and Bonn, Grandmaster of the Bubonic Order, and Abbot of Stablo and Malmedy. Clemens August's regime is oppressive and tyrannical, wherein all decisions are centralized in the person of the Prince-Archbishop. He uses his position to communicate the true word of God, not only to his own nobles and peasantry but to the world at large, much to the chagrin of his neighbours (particularly his nephew). 


Nordstrum is a fanatically secular state, governed by the FolksParlament, at the head which sits Chancellor Karl Gustav Gustavsson. The Chancellorship is an elected position and is beholden to the whims of the people in the form of the annually elected FolksParlament. The small but professional army mirrors the state, wherein advancement is based on merit and service, rather than birth and preferment. The common soldier fights for his family, his regiment, and his country (God has little, if anything, to do with it). Nordstrum is notorious for staying out of the common disputes amongst its more pious and monarchic neighbours, while preferring to promote its overseas trading interests.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Kid on the Block...Saint Julien

At the risk of negatively affecting my current ImagiNations painting mojo  (which admittedly can be rather mercurial), I have decided to add another army to my ImagiNations collection. The KaiserReich and Libagioni armies are complete and the Gourmandie army will be in the same condition when the Chasseurs-Gardes de Gourmandie are completed soon ("hahahaha!! that's funny"... OK, stop laughing).

And so, introducing...

Saint Julien

Prince-Archbishop Clemens August of Saint-Julien (an uncle of Pierre Louis, Grand-Duc de Gourmandie) is the particularly wicked and malevolent leader of L'inquisition, an institution whose aim is to aggressively combat heresy in the Catholic faith (and, in fact, in all Christendom). He is Prince and Archbishop of Saint-Julien, Prince-Bishop of Koblenz, Bishop of the dioceses of Cologne, Aachen and Bonn, Grandmaster of the Bubonic Order, and Abbot of Stablo and Malmedy. Clemens August's regime is oppressive and tyrannical, wherein all decisions are centralized in the person of the Prince-Archbishop. He uses his position to communicate the true word of God, not only to his own nobles and peasantry but to the world at large, much to the chagrin of his neighbours (particularly his nephew). 

Saint Julien is lurking in the south-west corner of the map.

And the army begins its mobilization:

Four battalions of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry and two guns arrived in the training depots today.

And the Milices Bourgeoises Troisdorf ready themselves to receive their new uniforms.

how to avoid Imperial Guard syndrome... or not

I usually make a concerted effort in my collections to avoid building super units for as long as possible. As evidence, in my previous 28mm Napoleonic collection I waited until I had a couple of thousand normal, everyday figures before I added a couple of Imperial Guard brigades to my French army. In my WWII collecting over the last few years, the closest I've come is early war German Fallschirmjagers (and it's arguable whether FJs are super units). So, obviously not guilty of the Imperial Guard syndrome!

So it is that in my latest push to add more to the ImagiNations collection, I've finally attempted the first guard unit. As I've been focusing on Le Grand-Duché de Gourmandie (the plan is to effectively double the infantry contingent) and after the latest addition of the Grenadiers de Champaigne, I thought some guard might be appropriate. To guard against falling into the super unit hole, these guard are rated the same as the Grenadiers de Champaigne and the Grenadiers de Camembert (in fact, they are all in the same brigade). So, guard in name only... until they prove themselves on the field of battle.

Fusiliers-Gardes de Gourmandie
(Crusader Miniatures & GMB flag)

I had two battalions worth of these Crusader figures, originally slated to be painted as regular Gourmandie line infantry in red coats. But after the last red-coated battalion (Grenadiers de Champaigne), I swore I'd not do anymore red for this collection (red is notorious on my paint desk for causing much cursing and lamentation). So, another colour then... I chose to go the typical 18th century route and try a light grey. I'm quite happy with the choice, especially as the red trim pulls the unit into the Gourmandie red zone.

2e Artillerie de Gourmandie

To add to the growing power of Gourmandie, I've also added more heavy guns to the  army. Funny story with this one though (not funny - haha! ... but funny - doh!). I was halfway through painting these as KaiserReich artillerists when I pulled up a previous photo of my existing KR artillery for reference (the figures are temporarily stored in the Trenton Gaming Emporium, thus I was not able to look at them directly). I couldn't reconcile the half-painted figures in my hands with what already existed in the army. After some initial confusion, I realized that these are Gourmandie figures! Luckily, both armies' regular artillerists have blue coats and I was able to quickly change course. Of course, this meant that the previously planned KR artillery addition went to the Gourmandie army. So guards and heavy guns! (note: not seen here are the limbers and caisson also completed)

And so to add to the seemingly super unit list for Gourmandie, a sneak-peek at the Chasseurs-Gardes de Gourmandie (the first half anyway).... what can I say? Guilty!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

2016 review

Not to be outdone by all the other bloggers spread over the interwebs and because all the cool kids do it.... my 2016 painting totals...

First up a look at the total points for the year (the points are based on the AHPC table found here):

The red line indicates all points added to my collections and the blue those points painted by me. So, a satisfying year all round. 2016 saw more added to the collections than the previous two years combined (although 2015 was interrupted by a house move, thus the low numbers).

The relation of the two sets of numbers in the chart above translate into this...

Here we see that my personal output in 2016 made up 76% of the total. Although I took advantage of some excellent painting from others (thanks to Captain Dan, Ohio Bob, and Monsieur LeBlanque), I was happy to find my painting mojo fairly strong all year (note: the DH1 acronym is used to differentiate my painting from Captain Dan, who shares the same initials ... go figure).

The average painting output per month (just from my own hands) was a quite respectable 179, although comparing to the first month of 2017 it doesn't seem that good. But it must be pointed out that a good number of the initial 2017 points are hold-overs from 2016 when the painting was completed but not the final basing (the figures/vehicles must be completely based to be inputted into the matrix).

And the 2016 list of additions: