Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Solo Campaign Relay for the French & Indian War

Montcalm & Wolfe VASSAL Module
Solo Campaign Relay?  Yes, Relay not Replay.  What is that?  Sounds like something akin to the Winter Olympics' event Luge Team Relay.  Let me explain.

Peter, at Grid Based Wargaming - But Not Always, has been running a series of interesting campaigns punctuated by his table top battles.  The latest rendition of campaigning was set during the French & Indian War.  After several battles resolved on the tabletop, Peter ended the campaign early.  Upon reflection, Peter sensed that while the campaign added a background narrative, the campaign did not provide enough historical context or interest for the resulting battles.

Having fought through a few battles in my own FIW campaign several years ago, I offered an alternative arrangement.  That arrangement consisted of me conducting the operational aspects of a FIW campaign while Peter fights out the battles on his gaming table.  Since Peter cranks through games and BatReps faster than I, this seemed a good solution in providing Peter the campaign context for his miniatures' battles while providing enjoyment to me as well.
Thus the notion of a Solo Campaign Relay was born.  To govern the operational activities, the 1997 DTP effort, Montcalm & Wolfe by Rob Markham will be utilized.  An excellent VASSAL module is available and in many ways provides a much more handsome tool than the original game. Oh, the module is free as well!  When two forces meet in the same hex on the campaign map, I translate the force dispositions and terrain to an OB and scenario. Situational details are then handed off to Peter.  Exchange One of the relay.  Peter then fights a solo battle on his own terms.  When the battle is resolved, Peter publishes his Battle Report.  Hand-off Two of the relay.  Peter’s battle results are translated back to the boardgame and the campaign continues.

The campaign begins in May 1755 with monthly game turns with the exception of condensed winter turns. All units begin deployed in set positions with the exception of three French regular regiments. These variable reinforcements are placed, one each, in Fort Duquesne, Fort Niagara, and Isle aux Noix. With these deployments, Fort Duquesne can be defended from a possible stab north from Braddock, the upper reaches of Lake Champlain can be protected, and allows a possible strike against the British garrison at Fort Oswego at the start of the campaign.

Montcalm & Wolfe is a game focused on command, attrition, maneuver, and short campaigning seasons punctuated by few, large battles.  Only the larger engagements will be transferred to the game table for resolution with miniatures.  Hopefully, this exercise will generate a few interesting encounters for Peter to play out on his table.

Sound like fun?  I think so!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Battle of Mollwitz BatRep - A Near Run Thing

Elements of Romer's Cavalry
Having gamed Mollwitz twice before, the plight of The White Menace appears set firmly in the annals history. Given two Austrian defeats at the hands of Frederick the Great (actually his Lt Gen since the king fled the field in both battles), still interest in a third attempt at the battle remained.  This time, Scott would command the Austrians while Kevin would take the role of young King Frederick.

To refresh memories of the scenario and the prior two battles, follow the links below:

Battle of Mollwitz Scenario
Battle of Mollwitz Game #1
Battle of Mollwitz Game #2

The battle begins as the other two; battle lines drawn up in the snow with the Prussians about a mile from the village of Mollwitz.  Romer's cavalry wing is stacked on the left with the Austrian Right Wing superior to its opponent.  Both cavalry wings move out through the snow after a brief delay.
Initial Deployment
As Romer's cavalry wing advances from the Austrian left, he is surprised to see his Prussian counterpart moving out to engage as well.  At two-to-one against in numbers and with poorer quality troops, Schulenberg is making a brash move. 
Cavalry on Austrian left move to engage
Romer's Cavalry Wing
In the initial crash of man and horse, one unit from each scatters while a second unit from each retreats.  Now with four to one against, what is Schulenberg's next move?
Heavy casualties in initial cavalry clash
As cavalry push each other around on the Austrian left, the infantry lines in the center of the battlefield step off.  Both combatants have intent on closing the range.  In Game #2, the Austrian strategy of advancing on the Prussian center may have slowed the Prussian advance upon Mollwitz but the cost was high.  The entire Austrian first line was made hors de combat.  Will history repeat itself?
Infantry lines begin to close the distance
The infantry lines in the center close to within musketry range as Romer's cavalry begins to turn the Prussian right.  Volleys erupt along the lines.
Center closes to musketry range
Having finished off Schulenberg's cavalry wing on the Prussian right, Romer sets his eye on the now exposed right flank of the Prussian Army.  The race is on for the Prussians to destroy the Austrian center before its own line is compromised by Romer.  The inferior quality of the Austrian musketeers is no match to the superior firepower of the Prussians.  Two Austrian regiments disappear in the smoke of the battlefield. 
Casualties mount on the Austrian First Line
The Prussian right flank having been turned, Romer's cavalry chews up Prussian infantry caught in flank by the slightly more mobile Austrian cavalry.  The heavy snow on the ground prevents Romer from acting more quickly to destroy the Prussian right.  As Romer continues to maneuver into an advantageous position, the Austrian First Line of infantry is destroyed. 
Destruction of the Austrian First Line
While the Prussian line begins to bend as Romer turns the flank, the advance upon Mollwitz continues.  The Prussian objective seems to be the destruction of the Austrian infantry at the expense of its own safety.  The race is on!  Which army will break first?
Prussian right is turned!
Outmaneuvered in the snow, Romer's cavalry continues its trampling of the Prussian right.  Another Prussian musketeer regiment is caught in flank and destroyed.  Oh, the humanity!
Caught in flank and destroyed.
While Romer's cavalry romps through the Prussian right, the Austrian cavalry on the Austrian left finds itself in a standoff.  Having destroyed the Prussian cavalry opposing it early in the battle, Austrian horse now finds itself taking musketry along the banks of the stream.  The Prussian left is a tough nut to crack.
Austrian cavalry in the Prussian backfield
Having stabilized the Prussian left, how to deal with Romer on the right?  Not an easy question to answer.  While three Prussian infantry regiments continue on their approach on Mollwitz, infantry regiments in the second line peel off to face the threat from the flank.  
Prussian center consolidating
With Romer's cavalry in strength on the right flank of the Prussian Army, a mobile square may provide an answer.  It will take time but the Prussians can advance in this formation while protecting its very vulnerable right.  To break the Prussians, the Austrian horse must take some chances or be shot from the saddle.
Prussian center forming square?
"Circle the wagons, boys"
Both armies are on the verge of breaking.  One more loss to either will signal defeat.  Given that situation, Romer makes one last effort to break the Prussians.  Going in, the Austrian horse suffer just enough casualties to tip the balance towards the Prussians in the following melee.  One more Austrian cavalry is destroyed and the Austrian army morale collapses.  The Prussians are victorious, but just!
The last charge of the day
Prussians facing Mollwitz
Inaction on the Prussian left
The End!
Well! That was an exciting encounter!  Each player only needed to eliminate one more enemy unit to claim victory.  In the end, Prussian musketry proved decisive and the Austrian horse was thwarted in its final charge.  

The result of Game #3 demonstrates that the Austrian Army may just have a chance at defeating the Prussians at Mollwitz.  What if the Austrian right could have been more active and applied significant pressure against the Prussian left?  A successful double envelopment may have paid dividends in stopping the Prussian advance.  In the post-game analysis, Scott hinged his defeat upon Romer's early failed activation.  If Romer could have been in position one or two turns earlier, that might have made the difference in the final outcome.

Either way, it was a fun contest to watch and well-fought by both sides.  Congratulations to Kevin for the win and to Scott for a valiant effort.

Well done, Gentlemen!

Friday, February 16, 2018

SYW Prussian Cuirassier Regiment #10 Gendarmes

With Jake fielding SYW Russians at a feverish pace in anticipation of a planned Zorndorf battle in August (see Jake's Zorndorf project), two squadrons of Prussian Cuirassiers were pushed through my painting queue in response.
While I have yet to formulate an OB for the Prussians I will be fielding on the day of battle, Jake is a step ahead and has OBs for both Russians and Prussians available.  Without confirming, the size of the collection leaves little doubt that all Prussian units necessary for Zorndorf already have been mustered out and ready for service.
Today's addition to the 18mm SYW project is a dozen 18mm Eureka Prussian Cuirassiers called up as two squadrons of the 10th Gendarmes regiment.  A second dozen heavy cavalry await in the painting queue but many a unit wait in line before its planned appearance at the workbench.
With a steady parade of completed units marching across the blog in February, perhaps it is time to interject something different?  While no game has seen action on the table recently, the exploits of the Third Battle of Mollwitz wait to be told as well as travelogues from a January foray into the Mexican Yucatan.  Work remains on exploring Switzerland too including a visit to Chateau de Grandson on the banks of Lake Neuchatel.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Pair of Guns for the Italian Wars

These two guns and crew fall into the category of "I don't really need them but might as well paint them."  Having languished in The Lead Pile with a coat of black primer for three or more years, I could take the taunting no longer.  Finally, the guns and crew saw some attention at the painting desk. 
Guns and Italian crew are from Old Glory's Italian Wars line.  Since most of the other artillery stands in the collection are crewed by Landsknechts, I will be able to field Italians when needed.  Now, the figures can only taunt me from their storage box.
The collection, now quite large, still awaits its baptism of fire on the gaming table.  Will 2018 witness this first outing?  I hope so!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Front Rank British 5th Line

Some of my favorite 28mm Napoleonic figures pushed through the painting queue recently.  My favorite figures are the redesigned Front Rank British Reinforcement Sets.  To my eye, the sculpting and anatomy on these figures cannot be topped.  Splendid figures.
This battalion of nineteen figures including one skirmisher musters out as the 5th Line.  Why the 5th?  Well, I had a Victrix flag transfer laying in wait.
With the French and her allies outnumbering the British and Portuguese contingents by a small margin, it was high time to bolster the British by adding one more line battalion.  Honestly, the British could field several more battalions before parity with the French begins to approach.  The project could use some more Portuguese too but the British reinforcement sets are so fine, it will be tough resisting a purchase of more of these infantry.
While the 5th represents the last of British in The Lead Pile, a pile of French still loiter unpainted.  Several battalions worth of French, Baden, and Wurttemburg are waiting their turn at the brush.  It may be awhile before another battalion from this project is seen at the painting desk but is was certainly enjoyable to paint these fine figures.

Does this suggest the Peninsular War project is getting closer to the gaming table?  Maybe.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

CGM's French Hussars in 18mm

Figures from Campaign Game Miniatures seem to have captured my attention again.  Digging around in The Lead Pile, I came across three packs with a dozen French hussars in total.  With a renewed emphasis on painting 15/18mm figures, why not add these into the painting queue?  That is what I did.  After completing two recent groups of early French in bicorne, a regiment of the 4th Hussars trots off the painting desk.
While I have sung the praises of CGM's infantry before, these French hussars in particular and the cavalry in general are even better.  Horses are robust and well-sculpted and troopers wearing the slung pelisse are splendid.  Great figures, perhaps only bested by AB. 
What is next up for CGM on the painting desk?  With several packs of Austrian dragoons in sight, those will get added into the painting queue next.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Renwal's Nieuport 17 in 1/72

Another old kit finds its way to the workbench.  Since the Germans hold the edge in aircraft in the collect, another Allied aircaft slipped into the production line.
The 1966 Renwal Nieuport 17 kit comes with "aero-skin" appliques to be applied as decals over the entire model rather than painting the aircraft.  Being unfamiliar with using this "aero-skin" technique I opted for building the kit in a traditional fashion.  Since a second Renwal Nieuport 17 lurks in inventory, I will attempt applying "aero-skin" on the second model.
This Renwal N17 is a good kit and easy to assemble.  Painted in a scheme found on the internet, this will make a fine addition to Allied airpower.
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