Sunday, March 31, 2024

Balls Bluff Visit

On the weekends, my two dogs wake up like they are shot out of a cannon. If I don't get them exercised and worm out early, they will be harassing me for the rest of the day. 

This morning, I drove a bit to Balls Bluff (Virginia) Battlefield Park. It's a place that both I and my dogs have explored countless times. Back in 1861, a few months after the first Battle of Manassas, those grounds witnessed an interesting battle (large skirmish perhaps) when a Union force crossed the Potomac River on a reconnaissance in force with less than stellar results. 

Confederate forces quickly responded and drove the Union soldiers off the steep bluffs and back into the river. A US Senator, Edward Baker, died in the battle while leading troops from his native California. 

I've always toyed with the idea of wargaming the action. I have ACW armies in 10mm that I could use Years back I speed painted armies for a Longstreet project with my gaming buddy Frank. Incidentally, Frank's rebel forces were based on the Army of Northern Virginia. I think the biggest hurdle to refight it on the tabletop is recreating the undulating terrain and the steep bluffs along the river. 

Apparently there's a board game that allows players to recreate the battle in 2D. The game has pretty decent reviews, perhaps I will just try to find a copy of the boardgame. 


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Fleurus 1622: Tercios

This evening, Alex and I got together for a game of Liber Militum Tercios using my 10mm armies. We'd refight Fleurus between the Protestant League and the Spanish. It was a pretty decent sized battle for Tercios but I think it handled it well. 

In the scenario, General Mansfeld (yours truly) is trying to navigate his tired army back to Dutch lands but is intercepted in Spanish Flanders by General Cordoba (Alex). The Protestants need to get over half their units past the Spanish or defeat Cordoba and his army. The Spanish must prevent this. The Protestant army is bigger but they are near mutinous (to reflect this, I rated most of their cavalry as mercenary) and the Cordoba can count on some veteran units. 

View of the battle array from the Spanish side. I chose fairly historical deployments for both sides.

The Spanish left commanded by Da Silva, three units of cavalry and the baggage train which is impassable.

The mighty Spanish tercios of the center. Two of them are "viejo" which gives them veteran status. Also some artillery.

And the Spanish right under Gaucher comprising of three cavalry units...
...and a company of shot deployed in the fortified farm.

The Protestant right commanded by Christian of Brunswick. It looks like a lot (eight cavalry units) but most are mounted harqbusiers and also mercenaries. This means less hitting power and a bit more brittle than you'd think.

Another angle of Christian's cavalry flank.

The Protestant center comprising of 6 units and some artillery.

The Protestant right flank of Johan Streiff. Three cavalry units.

Turn one (from the Protestant point of view), the Protestants surge forward with "Ready" cards and Alex gets exotic with his plan. The Tercios move to the flanks and the cavalry swings toward the center. Interesting...

The beginning of Turn Two. The Protestant center manages to fire off some salvoes of musketry and cannon fire causing some wear. The Protestant right flank moves toward contact.

The Protestant right flank and the Spanish left flank surged into a large cavalry action. My poor decision-making and even worse die rolls made this a bloodbath. Here, Lintzow's mounted harqbusiers are driven off by Losada's mounted harqbusiers.

The punching power of veteran cuirassiers smashed Fleckenstein's mounted harqbusier unit.
The Protestants even managed to lose combats they should have won. Here Streiff's personal unit of cuirassiers is defeated by Benenguer's mounted harqbusiers.

Streiff's right flank dissolved with two units smashed and one disordered and in shameful retreat. "Mercenary" units are automatically removed from the table once they hit break point, whereas regular units have a chance to stay on the table.
The Protestant center was slightly more successful, driving off some Spanish cavalry and inflicting some wear markers (red or white puffs). The Protestant left was fairly indecisive, despite a numerical superiority, the Protestant mounted harqbusiers attempted ineffective carracole maneuvers and avoided coming into melee with the Spanish tercios and cavalry.

The Protestant Liebgarde infantry unit managed to shatter a foolhardy charge by Roblas mounted harqbusiers. The Spanish cavalry unit was shattered in the process...

However, Mitzlaff's "Blue" regiment of infantry was not so fortunate. They were charged by Tercio Isenberg in a bloody struggle that saw several rounds of combat. In Tercios rules, pike armed infantry combats can be declared "bad wars" by either side which extends melees. Alex invoked "bad war" over and over again until finally Mitzlaff's unit was broken.

At this point, my entire right flank was essentially gone. I had lost two cavalry units and an infantry unit on that side of the battlefield. My left flank was a swirling mess of ineffective caracoling and my center was no closer to pushing thru the Spanish opposition. At this point, Mansfeld conceded a clear defeat. Alex and his Spanish host had wone the battle.

I had a blast even though I was thoroughly thrashed. The battle played out somewhat similar to the historical outcome. Poor cavalry performance doomed the Protestant infantry in both reality and on the tabletop. Alex and I got through four turns of combat in about two hours. It was the first time playing for both of us and we chatted a bit throughout the game. The combat felt right and it was fairly simple mechanics and lots of fun. The cards littered the battlefield which some may find untidy but I didn't mind so much. I will definitely play again.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Badger Games Painting Contest

As previously mentioned, I entered the Badger Games painting competition where attendees of Adepticon voted for the winners. Badger requested participants not to post images of their entries but since Adepticon is over, I think it should be okay to post now (even tho results haven't been announced).

Without further ado, here is my entry:

Since the Space Gobbo had a retro feel, I wanted to paint him as such. I gave him a pink boom box stereo, denim pants and bandana with red star.

The back of the boom box has some retro stickers with the anarchy and NOFX stickers. Rules didn't permit modification of the base but you could decorate it. I added some mushrooms and a few spent shell casings made from plastic rod. I liked how the red armor came out, overall I was pretty pleased with the little green fella. 

I didn't get the results I wanted in the Pendraken painting competition (completely shut out from placing) and I don't expect to place in the Badger competition but I enjoyed painting the models. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

6/10mm Italian Village

In the third and final (for now) installment of posts focusing on Total Battle Miniatures villages, I present an Italian village. I anticipate this village will feature heavily in my Risorgimento battles. I have Baccus 6mm armies (unpainted of course) for the 1859 war between France and Austria. I have 3mm building options for my 6mm armies but I could just as easily use this one. 

As mentioned previously, this village is a one piece resin casting where the buildings and base are all together. 

The fact it is one piece made painting a bit of a challenge, it was tricky to get the brush to hit certain details in awkward areas 

Here I have deployed a 10mm unit of Garibaldi's redshirts into (or rather on top of) the village. Because you can't remove buildings like their other villages, the unit fits in awkwardly. 

Here we have the redshirts putting on a demonstration in front of the village. I definitely prefer the village sets with removable buildings but these aren't bad either. As I neared completion of this project, I decided to order some more buildings from TBM. This scenery emphasis the past few weeks was a nice diversion and I think I am ready to resume proper miniature painting. I have some 10mm Fenians on my paint desk that I need to tackle.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

6/10mm Russian Village

As I mentioned previously, next up would most likely be another Total Battle Miniatures village set. I decided to tackle the Russian village I plan to use for my Crimean War games. So here it is finished. 

In my post on the pike and shotte village, I neglected to include a picture of the village "footprint" sans buildings. As you can see there are recesses for the buildings to fit into. I believe these are in multiples of 30mm (e.g. 30x30, 30x60, etc.). 

Here we have the village with all of the buildings. The footprint was painted with brown craft paint as a base and highlighted. The shrubbery was painted olive and given a few gradually lighter green highlights via wet and drybrush methods.

And a different angle. I used a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Shield Brown and Neutral Grey as the base color for the buildings, I drybrushed them with the same mmix but some off-white added to lighten them up and make raised details and edges pop a bit more. Once painting was done, a gloss varnish was sprayed on all parts followed by an ink washing and matte varnish. The buildings also received some diluted Army Painter military ink to give the impression of vegetation growth (moss, lichen, etc) on the natural wood.

The village with a 10mm Russian infantry battalion marching through. The figures are Magister Militum which are no longer in business. 

Now some Russian Hussars (also Magister Militum) make a visit. 

The parade of Hussars from another angle. The figure bases are 30mm wide and just sneak thru the road running thru the village.

I started working on the Italian village which I hope to finish next and display in a subsequent post. The Italian set is all one integral piece and doesn't have the advantage of modularity.  

Friday, March 15, 2024

Playtest of Liber Militum Tercios

I plan to refight the battle of Fleurus (1622) from the Thirty Years War with my gaming buddy Alex sometime in the next couple of weeks. The rules will be Liber Militum's Tercios, and while I've read through them a few times, I have never actually played them. I decided tonight would be a quick run-through of the mechanics using a few infantry units a side. 

Here's the setup: three protestant classic squadrons (left) versus two Spanish tercios (right). This is about 50% of the infantry that will be fielded in the proper battle. To keep it simple, the units are plain with no veteran, mercenary or raw status. 

One of the major components of the game mechanics are hidden order cards that are turned over alternately. The order has an action and a reaction option. The cards have less impact since I'm playing solo. For my playtest, both sides will advance initially but the tercios plan to move into melee and the protestants will stop and fire salvoes. 

The protestants (blue dice) won initiative over the Spanish (yellow ) with a score of  4-1. The protestants can choose to activate first or second. They chose first. 

At the beginning of the 2nd turn the left flank unit of the Protestants turned over a fire card, since the distance was less than 8 inches, both arqubues and muskets were in range giving them 3 dice which needed to match or exceed the tercio's defense against salvoes (which was a 4), they rolled three 6s! The tercio rolled to save the hits, using their courage rating (a 4) which meant they had 4 dice in which they needed a 4+. They only got one successful save, two hits (those red puffs) were inflicted in the tercio. Had the tercio not made any successful saves, they also would have been disordered ( a reduction in their discipline). I inadvertently gave them a white puff to denote disorder but I quickly removed it when I reread the rules. 

The other tercio surged forward to try and close into melee. The protestant middle squadron revealed their "fire" order card as a reaction. The advantage of this card is that there is no penalty for reactive fire. The protestant squadron inflicted a few hits as the tercio closed into melee. During the subsequent push of pike, the protestants got the better of it and the tercio was pushed back with a total of 4 wear markers (i.e. hits). 

The tercio with two wear markers used a resist card to remove one of them (one always stays) and the other tercio with four wear markers was able to remove one as well. Unfortunately they were charged by a protestant unit and suffered badly with 3 more hits (or wear markers) while only inflicting one on their enemy. The tercio had more hits than they had stamina and had to take.a break check. They passed this time. 

At this point, the protestant squadron decided to declare a "bad war" which can be called by either side in a melee of both units are armed with pikes. In the event of a "bad war", melee is continued for another round. This happened a few more times until the tercio failed a break check and was broken. At this point, I called the playtest complete. 

I did some things wrong but I got a good idea of how the basic mechanics work. I imagine there will be more to learn with cavalry, artillery and terrain on the tabletop (especially all of it present at the same time). The Spanish performed poorly because of bad dice rolls and my assumption that tercios would be significantly more devastating in melee. They aren't. The tercios benefit from being more resilient and harder to flank but that is about it. I enjoyed the rules and look forward to more playtest and a proper game. 


Sunday, March 10, 2024

6/10mm Village and Fleurus

If there's one thing that I neglect regarding the hobby, it's scenery. I own a good amount of it but the majority of it stays in storage...unpainted. 

A few years back, during the pandemic, I painted up 10mm Thirty Years War armies based on the Battle of Fleurus (1622). The armies are painted but I have yet to actually game with them. Initially I had planned to use In Deo Veritas as a ruleset but think that I will try Liber Militum's Tercios rules instead. 

The battlefield of Fleurus has fields, woods, some roads and a small farm/hamlet. The farm was fortified and occupied by a Spanish contingent of shot. The problem is that while I had something suitable, it wasn't painted up. 

That something suitable was a 17th century village from Total Battle Miniatures (TBM). The TBM kits usually consist of a rubber footprint of the village with recesses for the buildings. I finally painted up the village this weekend and I'm pleased with the results.

Here you can see the finished village with a larger building of a few residences and two small barn/farm houses. I primed everything with black matte rattle can primer intended to bond with plastics and rubber. Everything was base painted, some areas drybrushed, then gloss varnished, inked and matte varnished for appearance. 

Same village with a building removed to fit in a base of Spanish shot. I should add that the village is advertised as 6mm (I'd say it's a big 6mm) but I am using it for 10mm. I find that I prefer to go down one scale for most of my scenery, unless I am playing skirmish or close to 1:1 scale. For my Fenian project, I am using 10mm buildings with 10mm figures.

When I placed the order for this village with TBM, I also ordered an Italian village and a Russian village. I figure the Italian village can see the tabletop when I manage to get my 10mm Risorgimento armies finished and the Russian village is for my Crimean War project (also 10mm). The interesting thing about the Italian village is that it is a one-piece resin model with the buildings and base altogether. 

I might tackle that Russian village next since I will have that Crimean War project that needs finishing (still quite a bit of Turks to paint up). Then again, I have some half-painted 10mm Fenians and Spanish Civil War International Brigade on my table....decisions, decisions, decisions...

Desert Spitfires (and other assorted aircraft)

After taking an exhale from the mad dash of the Pendraken and Badger Games painting competition projects, I decided to paint something as a bit of a diversion. In my previous post, I mentioned that I had recently read Angels in the Sky about the formation of the Israeli Air Force in the 1948 war. I decided to paint up the various aircraft I plan to game the war with. On this cold, windy Sunday I hastily snapped some photos of my aircraft. I apologize in advance for the less than stellar light quality and photos. 

First up are some Egyptian Macchi MC.202 fighters. I'm not sure if the roundels are the proper way but they are pretty small at this scale (1/600).

Here are some Israeli Avia S-199 "Mules" which are a Czech copy (and poor one at that) of the Me-109. 

The Israelis picked up some T-6 Texans and used them as dive bombers fairly effectively. I couldn't find any images of what color scheme they had in 1948 so I opted for a variant of a 1956 scheme. I might brighten the red cowlings up a bit. 

Egyptian Spitfires, I used a few different variants. I used Vallejo khaki and shield brown for the camo scheme. 

Some Israeli Spitfires, different variants and different camo schemes. Green/brown on the left and grey/green on the right. For identification and uniformity purposes I gave the Israeli aircraft red noses or cowlings and the Egyptian aircraft have white noses and identification stripes. 

Here we have an Israeli C-47 getting ready to bomb a village. The village is from Irregular Miniatures, I have a few more that I will paint up as bombing targets.

A rather dramatic posed shot of an Egyptian MC.202 on the tail of the C-47 as it approaches the village for a bombing run.

Here's an Egyptian C-47 in a natural metal finish. I should add that the bases are Litko 30mm squares and there are Pendraken dice frames on the rear of the bases. The Wings at War from Tumbling Dice rules require you to keep track of your aircraft's energy rating and altitude. I plan to do this with mini dice placed in the trays. 

A Texan on a bombing run with an Egyptian Spitfire chasing. 

Another (unfocused) image of the Egyptian Spitfires showing the difference in wing shape and color scheme. The decals are from Flight Deck Decals.

I have more of these models and will most likely add a few more aircraft for this project. Need to paint a few more bombing targets: another village or two, perhaps some troop concentrations, etc.