Monday, 7 October 2013

Manchuria revisited

We had another game at Colins the other week and refought the amended version of our Manchuria game. Bill Gilchrist and Mr Ray commanded the Russian force while Colin Jack and myself commanded the Japanese. We gave the Russians an extra tank and another rifle squad and reduced the size of the table from an 8x4 to a 6x4 but it meant the Japanese were allowed to deploy up to 5' onto the table.
Russian forces prepare to advance
The first two tanks run into the snipers
Colin as overall Japanese commander deployed the two sniper teams as far forward as possible backed by the Manchuko Militia hidden in woods on the left flank while the rest of the forces and deployed in ambush positions in the main defence line.
Manchuko Militia about to assault the Russian tank
The Russians seemed to get the run of the order dice and quickly managed to take out the active Japanese defenders before the remaining troops in ambush could act.. The Manchuko Militia were quickly wiped out before they could even launch their assault.
This was one of the few Japanese successes assaulting the half track and crew
The final Russian assault
The game worked out really well, except for the result and I think the changes we made will make for a more enjoyable game.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Manchuria 1945

Had a game along at Colin's house this week and went back to WW2 but with a slight difference that this battle was between the Russians and Japanese right at the end of the war. All the figures and terrain is from Colin's vast collection. Following the defeat of Nazi Germany the Russians transferred tens of thousands of men to face the Japanese in Manchuria which the Japanese had taken off the Chinese in the 1930's. This game was a playtest of one of the games Colin is putting on at our next League of Gentlemen Wargamers weekend in November which is based around WW2, I hope to add more as the weeks go by.

The Russians commanded by Colin have launched a lightening strike with tanks supported by armoured infantry and tank riders against what seemed at first a very week Japanese force commanded by me. The scenario is that the Japanese have fallen back to defensive positions over the river and could be set up anywhere over the river except for two sniper teams that could be positioned on the Russian half of the table.
Russian armour trundles through the town
Main Japanese defence line
I placed the majority of my troops and armour in the main defence line and village except for a unit of Manchurian Militia that were left to defend one of the bridges crossing the river line and the 2 sniper teams were placed in the main town on the Russian side of the table.
Japanese armour in ambush positions in the village
At first looking at my force which was strong in infantry I thought the game was going to be a walk over for the Russians as the only anti-tank weapons I had were my two tanks, it was only during the fighting that I discovered how effective my 2 sniper teams could be at taking out tank commanders which added with Colin's terrible dice rolling for orders meant that they spent most of the game going backwards and meanwhile my infantry, especially the grenadier company with their 3 light mortars took out all the Russian infantry facing them.
The initial Russian advance looked so menacing
They quickly took the first bridge
After an initial successful start when they quickly wiped out my Militia unit guarding the bridge things started to go badly for the Russians and soon all their supporting infantry had been wiped out except for a group that was still on the Russian side of the river at the end of the game. The snipers worked a treat at taking out 2 tank commanders just as Colin decided that tanks without commanders had to pass order tests to act. I'm sure he regretted that as they kept failing. That was the main reason his last lot of infantry were stuck on the far bank as they were trying to take out the snipers and he succeeded in taking out one team but that was his only real success of the game.
Last Russian infantry sniper hunting
As a playtest the game worked well and the Japanese victory was unexpected so the next time we try it we will add a few more troops and an extra tank for the Russians, especially as they will have a time limit to get their victory. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Maurice rules for AWI

Last weeks game was an AWI game at Bill Gilchrist's house since it was his turn to have a gammy leg although he's had it for a few weeks now. All the figures and terrain were from Bill's collection and a very tasty lunch was supplied by his lovely wife Helena. Bill wanted us to try out the Maurice set of rules by Sam Mustapha to see what we thought of them , Bill and Colin Jack commanded the British while Mr Ray and myself commanded the Americans,

Bill had already tried them a few times and wasn't convinced so he was using us as guinea pigs. Even from Bill's introduction I was becoming very sceptical especially when he announced that there is only one general in a force so no historical nonsense like Brigadiers or wing commanders. The biggest problem with this was that all orders are issued by cards, in fact the whole game is run by cards so not sure if the rules have been produced for having games or for selling cards as there seems to be quite a lot of them and for a multi-player games like the one we were having we should have had a pack of cards for each two players.
British right flank
American left flank
 Virtually all the action in this battle took place between these two flanks of the battle mainly due to the deficiencies of the command system. To get troops to move they all have to be of the same type and within 4" of each other and depending on how far they were from the commander you might have to use a number of cards to get the order through. If that wasn't bad enough it also meant that no other troops could move, rally off disruption points or even fire your artillery at long range as they all took order points.
The Americans guns only managed to fire twice in the whole game despite having a large number of targets in range as in most moves we were having to rally off disruption points which meant we couldn't do anything else so the two of us ended up commanding the one flank of the battle whilst the other flank virtually did nothing. The British players also had the same problem and their left flank only managed to get moving towards the end of the battle and neither sides cavalry managed to move at all.
British advance to close range
Unfortunately for the American army the dice rolling of Mr Ray and myself was especially bad even by our standards whereas Colin keep rolling more than his fair share of 5's and 6's which meant we struggled to inflict casualties on the British and take our own disruption markers off. Because of our difficulties this meant the Brits could spend time to get their left flank moving forward but they probably wished they hadn't as they ended up losing a couple of Hessian units. This now took their army morale down to 4 which was also the same as the Americans but in the next move the Americans lost another two units which took our morale to 0 which ended the game.
Just about the final moment as the last American infantry unit got blown away
and only left the artillery and cavalry on this flank
Mr Ray and myself just before the final dice rolls
In the end we had an enjoyable game but I think that was more to do with the company than the rules which might work better for standard European battles rather than American ones. The short range volleying part of the game worked OK it's the limitations of the command system that lets the game down in my personal view and stop the use of historical tactics of using cavalry wings and supporting troops. I did wonder if we were using the rules wrongly but we had Dave Patterson with us at the beginning of the game who rates the rules highly so I guess we used them correctly.


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A rough wooing

This section follows an update to my Flodden army which I wished to use to fight the battles of the Rough Wooing, battle of Pinkie, siege of Haddington, the siege of Leith and the Marian wars. The pikemen were fine for using in the later actions except that the front ranks shouldn't have the pavise, not wishing to repaint them all I'm quite happy to ignore their existence and concentrate on the needed additions.
The Scots still liked their artillery but added lots of multiple gunned light carts to give close support
The Scots also included firearms to support their pikemen but never enough to make a big difference
Hearing of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monastries a large contingent of monks fought in the Scottish army at the battle of Pinkie as well as defending their monasteries from English raiders
Although these Border Horse are in my Scots army they could just as easily be English if you ignore the saltires. Some Scots border families happily fought with their English relations in raids or feuds.
A March Warden keeping the 'peace' on the border. He could be Scots or English
These border infantry could be from either side, even the Scots used longbows
Unlike the rest of my Scots army all the Monks and Borderers have actually been in action in recent years fighting in numerous border skirmishes hence the updated basing method

Sunday, 8 September 2013


The 9th of September this year marks the 500th anniversary of the battle of Flodden fought just over the border in England which saw a major defeat for the Scots and the last time a British monarch, James IV was killed in battle. I feel this army is about as old having been started back in 1979/80 when Dixon Miniatures first released this range of figures hence the old school painting and basing.
There have been figures from many companies added to this force over the years from Essex, Foundry, Hinchcliffe, Minifigs and Warrior but majority of figures are from the Dixon range which has now been re-sculpted since I bought these ones. This army has been in it's boxes and not seen action for over 16 years since its English opposition fled to New Zealand and I keep thinking I should sell it off, perhaps one day.
Part of the King's Division, men from Edinburgh
and the Lothians
King James IV of Scotland killed at Flodden
This figure was sculpted and painted for me by one of my oldest wargames
friends and top figure designer, Aly Morrison.
Another Division of Fife and Border troops
The King at the centre of the army
The Scots left flank was composed of men from Angus and the Borders
The Borderers usually fought mounted but in the battle they fought on foot as pikemen
 but remounted at the end of the battle to cover the Scots retreat.
The Scots right flank was composed of Highlanders under command of
Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyle.
King James loved his heavy artillery and although very useful at the sieges of Etal and Ford castles the big guns took no part in the battle as they were facing the wrong direction and were too heavy to move in time plus the lighter guns the Scots did manage to move into position had difficulty depressing their barrels to fire on the English and were ineffective during the battle.
All the Scots artillery was captured after the battle.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Hook's Farm

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of H.G. Wells book Little Wars which undoubtedly has to be the birth of our crazy hobby but for some reason I have never gotten around to reading it whereas my good mate Aly Morrison not only has read it but thought he would celebrate the anniversary by putting on a game from the book. He put on this lovely display, the battle of Hooks Farm at Partizan II last weekend using his own range of figures, Shiny Toy Soldiers.

Because I was putting on our own Leauge of Augsburg display with Adrian Howe, Barry Hilton, Bob Talbot and Gerry Donohoe and was feeling unwell I completely forgot to take any photos at the show so these ones are courtesy of another mate Colin Jack.
Advancing British infantry outflanked by sneaky French cavalry

The range of figures Aly has produced are based on another book The Great War in Britain 1897 which sees a Franco-Russian force invading Britain. You can see his production work of these great figures at this site.
Scots Greys in British cavalry tradition about to get themselves into hot water

By the end of the game there was only one figure standing which was the British general so the Brits managed to stop the Franco-Russian invasion and sent them home to think again.
If you want to get your hands on these lovely figures the Shiny Toy Soldier range is sold through Spencer Smith Miniatures at this site.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Donald Featherstone

Donald F. Featherstone (20 March 1918 – 3 September 2013
It was with deep regret that I read earlier this week of the passing of Donald Featherstone. This man has had a huge impact on my life by introducing me to the hobby of wargaming way back in the early 1970's when I discovered his book War games in my local library. This now meant that instead of throwing rocks at my plastic Brittains and Airfix figures I could now roll dice and work out on charts what casualties my troops had suffered. Seeing the photographs of his games with lovely metal figures and great looking terrain inspired me to greater things which eventually led to a sand table in my Grandmother's spare room. Through his introduction to this hobby I have made many great friends all over the country but one of my highlights has to be meeting Donald at Salute about 3 or 4 years ago when Aly Morrison and myself put on a demo game of the 1st Schleswig Holstein War using Aly's  Shiny Toy Soldier range. He came over to our game and we had a good chat and he complimented us on our game, high praise indeed.
I still have this book as well as many more of Donald's books in my collection and still enjoy looking through them for inspiration. When I started gaming back in the 70's I thought I was at the beginning of the hobby but it was many years later that I discovered that Donald had organised the first British Wargames Convention back in 1961. Although he will no longer be around shows his influence on the hobby will be around for many years to come.
Donald at the bottom left in 1961

Monday, 26 August 2013

American War of Independence

I've not managed to get any gaming done over the last couple of weeks and won't get any until Partizan II at Newark next weekend where we will putting on a League of Augsburg display game.
Instead of leaving the blog empty I thought I would show some of my 15mm American War of Independence army which was started many years ago after a trip to Bunker Hill when I was on holiday in the USA. At the time I had been thinking of producing a French Indian Wars army but being inspired by the diorama in the Bunker Hill museum plus there was more use of cavalry and artillery in the AWI I decided to go for this period instead.

Once I started doing research I became more fascinated with the Southern campaign which generally gets ignored compared to the larger battles in the Northern campaign but to me this was an advantage as the battles were generally smaller and easier to produce on the wargames table. I managed to also inspire my mate Jack Glanville in the period and he was keen to produce the British army which was fine by me as I had wanted to concentrate on the Americans and here is some of my collection.
1st Maryland Continental Regiment
5th Maryland Continental Regiment
6th Maryland Continental Regiment
8th Continental Regiment
North Carolina Militia
South Carolina Militia
Virginia Militia
American Generals and Brigadiers
American artillery

It was when I was doing research for this period that I realised there was little information out there for wargamers which is what first got me involved in writing and I had a number of articles published in Wargames Illustrated, Miniature Wargames and 18th Century Notes & Queries. I eventually had enough information gathered to produce a small booklet which is sold through Caliver Books.