Monday, 28 September 2015

Lion Rampant complete!

I usually find some enjoyment in painting most projects but i found this one to be a constant struggle ... and i don't know why. The Fireforge miniatures are excellent - i bought one box each of cavalry and infantry - and the period provides plenty of scope for freedom in what you are painting. I think i just hit a lull - some health problems did not help.

 In any case my much anticipated Lion Rampant force is complete. I wanted it to be a universal western european style force but i always had my eye on the Baltic or Northern crusades. Probably this stemmed from so many other quality Lion Rampant blogs on this same topic but also due to reading "The Northern Crusades" by Christiansen which revealed to me the scope of this era and it being such a fertile ground for the wargamer. Added to this my collection of over 160 Dark age figures make excellent Baltic pagan stand-ins.

In any case, here they are. Above are my knights. The chap in the white cloak brandishing a mace is my leader. The green/black/white colours emblazoned with the white stag or jumping deer formed the basis of my troops. I wanted a force that represented a main knight on crusade supported by his sons, close family, allies, dependants and footsoldiers in either his service or pay. 

Next are my ... what's the word ... uummm ... other but lesser knights. Just in mail and conical helms. These brave and ambitious men are looking to make a reputation and fortune so have attached themselves to a great man. 

These are the foot retinue of my leader (really needs a name.) Crossbowmen and spear armed yeomen drawn from his troops serving at his castle. These bear the green/black heraldry and the emblem of the white stag or the leaping deer of the leader's eldest son. 

Above stand the foot retinue of the leader's brother-in-law who has accompanied him to the East. Resplendent in red/yellow colours and bearing the lion these men will courageously follow their lord into the dark, heathen-filled forests of the Baltic. 

Finally, some mercenary crossbowmen to round things off. 

There it is, 24 points of Lion Rampant troops. We've played one small game thus far but were so busy talking about Maurice (as we have currently all lost our minds on 18th century wars) we didn't pay too much attention. I liked the simplicity of the system with lots of scenario's and boasts to keep such a skirmish game varied and interested. Look forward to doing it again, this time with the full retinue. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

865 AD Dark Age Wargame

865 AD ... The Vikings have directed their warrior host at the weakened kingdoms of England. One force, led by Halfdan, has chosen to aim its fury at Mercia and the earls of the Saxons had gathered a force to oppose this advance .... before the Vikings could amass their full force the earls hoped they could delay just enough for their envoys to return with help from the West Saxons.

The Saxons drew up their best troops, including thegns and select fyrd, to face the onslaught of the Norsemen with the less trained fyrd at the rear. A quick loss of these troops would rob the Saxons of vital command dice they could use in combat to boost their fighting ability. Woods flanked the battlefield and each genral tried to use their light troops to drive off their opponents and turn the flank of their enemies line. 

Halfdan ordered his better armed and armoured huscarls to mount a frontal assault quickly advancing to use the woods to guard his flanks. He relied on his two handed axemen to break the line nd hopefully kill the Saxon earls commanding the force. The loss of a commander is crippling in sword and spear and usually leads to defeat as that segment of the field is no longer able to move effectively. The large axes of the Danes would render the Saxon shieldwall useless. Aginst this the Saxons could rely on their courage and the help of the pious monks who uttered constant prayers to garner divine help from the pagans. 

In response to Viking aggression the Saxons chose to rush to control the high ground. This, however, played into Viking hands. The Saxons hastened the battle and used command dice to speed the advance that may well have been used to move moreof their units. As it was the Saxon fyrd were largely left behind. 

The above image shows the now lonely fyrd. 

With good fortune, perhaps from liberal libations to Odin before the battle, the Vikings were able to reach the high ground before it could be dominanted by the Saxons. The remainder of the battle was far too bloody for further photography as the Viking advantages, especially the two handed weapons which sliced through the Mercian's mail easily, led to defeats along the line. A small victory was won on the Saxon left helped by a unit of javelinmen who turned the flank of the Vikings. The result of the battle was the death of most of the earls who oposed Halfdan and with them their brave thegns. Without aid from the West Saxons all Mercia was certain to fall and the Danelaw might well grow to encompass all of Britain. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Maurice in 15mm

I have always had a great fondness for 18th cetnury wargaming. There's just something about the period. Could be the tricorns, masses of colourful uniforms, more states and nations involved, a panache not offered by the modernised nation armies of the Napoleonic, ... or just those lovely neat linear formations blasting away at each other in such a gentlemenly way. I have dragged all of my gaming partners into this peeiod with an increasing level of success. Might and Reason was well liked by didnt't create the enthusiasm that Muskets and Tomahawks did and that Maurice just sparked. After two games, there are two more gamers who have dug out, rebased and/or purchased new armies to play. A great development for me as an avowed lover of the period ... esp the Seven Years War. 

These images show the second game i recently initiated, the one that started the frenzy of modelling. It features my two armies, the classic combatants of the period - Austria and Prussia. It utilises only part of my collection. On this occasion, the battle of Beersteinia 1761, the Prussians were tasked with driving an Austrian force from the crossroads. The top two pictures show the initial dispositions. Half the Austrians were deployed in formation while the Prussians awaited the order to assault in marching columns. Their commander had thrown away any pretense of subtle action or guile and threw all infantry forward in frontal assault. Just by having units on the objective in Maurice is enough to garner a victory and this was his plan.

Not all went to plan for the Prussians and the frontal assault became a retreat as the Austrian infantry doggedly held then went on the attack with flanking moves from their cavalry. This blog has also not gone exactly to plan as i just realised the above photo was from a different battle. However, i will keep it in place as it does show the exact same tactic, frontal assault, being slightly more effective, by the Prussian infantry on that occasion - due to unprecedented rallying rolls. 

It is the final two images i really like as it shows the Austrian cavalry wheeling onto the Prussian flank. I do love the sight of the blue wall crushing all before it but i do equally enjoy when the valiant Austrians are able to hold out. Four regiments of cavalry in formation bearing down on their barely protected flank (one lone Prussian Dreisen cuirassier unit held out) was enough for capitulation. 

Okay,what about these Maurice rules then? Mr Mustafa has produced a wonderful set of rules that are simple where it is needed (movement, terrain, firing and combat) and thoughtful where it should be - command. The game continually forces the player to make command decisions that require a careful balance of tactical and overall strategic goals. Players must choose whether to ram their attack home with pace (gambling the enemy cannot stand up to this approach) or marshall their forces in a much more integrated manner that may let the initial offensive edge slip away. Cards have been used extremely well to introduce command difficulties, randomn events, battlefield occurances and positive bonuses. Players must carefully husband their hand of cards as spending each bonus card on sight may produce a short term positive situation that will ultimately result in a stalled attack which can then be very open to a counter thrust. In fact the faces of the players of Maurice communicate the agony of commnd as they are forced to choose between using cards which instil an effective bonus or on activating units. Early players often "go for broke" with their cards resulting in games where only segments of armies are used. As experience grows more of each army is utilised as people realise cards come and go but good movement and positioning is the key to any battle success. As it bloody should be!