Duelling with Frederick

Over the last year I count myself fortunate to have been able to safely enjoy the company of others around the gaming table. Over the year our regular multiplayer games have involved our Napoleonic, American Civil War or Franco-Prussian War armies. All have provided plenty of enjoyment.

I’m also aware that my Seven Years War miniatures have not been deployed for around a year. Our current forces are relatively limited and therefore not suited to a multiplayer format. However, this week my Austrians were able to face my opponents Prussians in what was a fascinating game involving one player aside.

We of course use Volley & Bayonet for all these black powder battles. Yet, I am continually reminded how different the battles of the various periods play. This latest battle being testament to the more deliberate Seven Years War battle, especially when using infantry. This of course is a result of the simple but subtle period specific rules.

For those interested a short report of our latest Seven Years War action, with Field Marshal von Daun continuing his campaign against Frederick the Great, can be found here.

Ancients in Retrospect

Of course with the year coming to an end it’s time for reflections. Ancient and Medieval gaming is something of staple for me with games played mostly in our Tuesday gaming slot. I use the De Bellis Antiquitatis, more commonly known as DBA. Over the year all manner of games have been played utilising a range of armies,. Yes, I’m fortunate to live in New Zealand where COVID-19 is currently eradicated in the community, but for a couple of months earlier in the year games had to be played remotely.

That said these days I don’t generally post long reports of games, time being something of a premium. Instead they tend to be summarised by a few photos on Twitter. However, last Tuesday’s game involved a couple of armies which haven’t been out for a while. In particular a couple couple of games using chariots. As a result I felt it required a little more focus. If you are interested a short summary of last week’s games can be found here.

The rest of this year’s DBA games have utilised a range of armies. A good number have been Punic Wars engagements interspersed with various battles between Rome and the Seleucids. One of my favourites however was a series between Rome and the Gauls, played remotely, which covered the campaigns of Gracchus, Flaccus & Maximus in Cisalpine Gaul.

In addition there have been a good number of Medieval engagements. While most have involved European armies we have also looked to the east. These include regular encounters in the Sengoku Jidai Period and even some campaigning in Sumatra. Finally, in a far flung corner of the world, and certainly far from Europe, we have managed some Maori inter-iwi clashes including as Te Kawau Strikes North.

All up a most enjoyable year of Ancient and Medieval gaming, despite the year being defined by the pandemic. While I’m sure I will manage some additional DBA games before New Year’s Eve – assuming their isn’t another breach of our border quarantine systems. Either way I find myself contemplating further classical texts to be read, future games to be played and of course additional armies to be built. I think that’s a good measure of success.

Staying on Track

In recent weeks I’ve been focussing on some rebasing of miniatures. While rebasing isn’t as glamorous as seeing new miniatures roll off the production line I’m convinced spending time on basing quickly pays dividends. Likewise I feel investing time on terrain improves the visuals of the game.

One of my current gaming projects is to refight the Battle of Franklin using my 6mm miniatures. This American Civil War battle was fought in 1864 and is just south of Nashville, Tennessee. It’s long interested me and I had the pleasure of visiting the battlefield in 2018. I still need to post a few photos of my visit, but I shall leave that for another day.

Anyway, to refight Franklin I need some railway track. Finally this week I found time to complete this project. The track is from Irregular Miniatures and comes in 50mm lengths. I’ve always been impressed with much of Irregular’s terrain and use a selection of their range on my table. Specifically trees, fences, walls and field defences. Like the other items I think the railway track paints up well.

I have used a black undercoat to which I’ve dry brushed grey to represent ballast. Then the track sleepers are picked out with a faded brown for contrast. The tracks themselves are painted with Vallejo “Oiley Steel” before applying a matt varnish.

The final step was the selected application of a fine Woodland Scenic flock as used on my basing. This is locked in place with two applications of Woodland Scenics flock cement. I expressly didn’t apply a long line of flock. Instead sections of flock are used to break up the track edge and blend it with the basing used on the miniatures themselves.

Of course the track is useful for other battles. For the American Civil War Fredericksburg and Corinth spring to mind. But equally it will be useful for the Franco-Prussian War and of course 20th Century battlefields. With this in mind I’ve painted around 2.3m of track.

As to other items illustrated, the trees and split rail fences are from Irregular Miniatures while the buildings are from Timecast. The miniatures are of course all from Heroics & Ros.

Revisiting the Cold War

It seems that October has been something of a month for revisiting the Cold War. In part because one of my local opponents has had a little more free time. So it was with some enthusiasm that my Cold War Soviets were unpacked and deployed while we familiarised ourselves with the rules, Modern Spearhead. In both cases we used the Scenario Generation System to develop the scenario, so plenty of unknowns as we put together our forces for the games.

The first scenario, set in 1982, found the the Soviets conducting a hasty attack with two understrength regiments. One being a Tank Regiment (T-64 tanks and BMPs) while the other a Motor Rifle Regiment (BTR-60s and T-64 tanks). The cunning enemy comprised a scratch force drawing elements from the British 3rd Armoured Division. You can find photos and a game report here.

Our second game involved an encounter between a British Mechanised Brigade and a Soviet Motor Rifle Regiment, the last fielding BTRs and supporting T-64 tanks. Interestingly in this scenario both players decided to use fixed wing air support. Again, I’ve placed photos of this game, as well as a description on my Modern Spearhead site, you can find it here.

It was certainly good to get the Cold War miniatures out, and in both cases we were rewarded with two challenging and enjoyable games.

1940 Ramblings

September has provided something of an opportunity for some games of WWII Spearhead. Further with one of my opponents having recently completed his 1940 French the period of our game was almost predetermined.

While previous games set in 1940 have involved engagements between British and Germans the French would provide additional challenges. For example the French in the early period use random morale. That is the morale of any particular French battalion is determined randomly when they come under fire. This certainly provides challenges for the French commander, though the larger French forces create plenty of challenges for the Germans.

Equipment wise each army has its strengths and weakness. The French tanks for example can be a mixed bag. They can range from Great War era FT-17s to more modern and powerful Somua and Char B1s. Above, French Somua tanks advancing in our most recent game.

The Germans are not free from challenges either. Their Panzer Battalions each contain a large variety of vehicles, from Panzer I and Panzer IIs to more efficient vehicles.

In addition to the Panzer Battalions I have also taken the opportunity to use more unusual battalions. One such is the Aufklärungungs-Abteilung or Reconnaissance Battalion, shown above. This battalion is terribly light on offensive firepower, yet it has been entertaining to use. If you are interested you can find some thoughts on these battalions and their use on the wargames table here.

Perhaps most importantly I have taken the time to record our most recent encounter, complete with a selection of photos, here. Certainly the game was a little different, yet I trust it is of some interest.