Friday, 28 March 2014

FPW Expansion Plans

Following the very enjoyable Battle of Wingen with Simon a couple of weeks ago, there are plans for a bigger game some time in the future, involving 4 players. This appeals a lot, and I think the rules will easily support a multi-player set up and allow each player to command a full corps or so without getting bogged down in complexity or slow play.

I have most of the figures I'd need for this game, but it's an opportunity to return to some ideas I'd previously had for increasing the forces on both sides - something every wargamer's inner megalomaniac loves!

My existing Prussian/German and French forces are based on infantry corps of 2 and 3 divisions respectively. I have a full Prussian corps of 2 divisions plus corps assets, and 1 Bavarian division. I intend to expand the latter into a composite German allied corps by adding a 2nd division made up of various contingents, namely some Wurttemburgers, Brunswickers and possibly some Hessians. In addition there will be a couple of reserve cavalry divisions, which are largely done already.

The French have 4 divisions already, plus the Guard Grenadier division (well, you have to don't you?) and a reserve cavalry division. I would aim to add 1-2 more infantry divisions and a 2nd corps command to roughly match the Germans.

This will give me overall forces representing almost 60,000 men per side - enough to give a decent impression of a good-sized battle of the period.

I need to have a look through my remaining stocks of unpainted Heroics & Ros to work out what I'll need to order to complete this project, and then I'll need to set some painting time aside over the summer to get them all done!

Maybe next year for the 1859 Austrians and Italians then.

In the meantime a quick pic of the other type of thing I'll be doing a bit more of - army baggage and equipment. These are Line of Communication markers for the French and Prussians (with a French general in the background enjoying some shade while he reads his map) I use for certain scenarios, but can otherwise be used as general scenery in quiet corners of the table to add a bit of atmosphere. Baccus wagons with H&R figures.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Battle of Wingen, 6th August 1870

I played my first game of the year today, spending a very enjoyable day with Goat Major, as he's known on a few forums. GM requested 6mm Franco-Prussian War and I was happy to oblige.

I decided on a hypothetical early war setting, on the same day as the Battle of Worth, involving the French V Corps and the advancing Prussian 3rd Corps. As we would be determining sides randomly I wrote briefings for each and drew up a battlefield map based on a selection of terrain boards for a 4x3 foot table, with appropriate towns, woods and other scenery to represent terrain typical of north eastern France.

Initial terrain plan, using small card tile versions of my terrain boards to define the basic setup

Towns and woods added, and placed within a larger map for pre-game manoeuvring using brigade-level counters and the odd dummy for fog of war, and to help replicate the poor scouting that beset both armies in this conflict.

. which translated into this scene of pre-carnage tranquility

The Goat drew the French of General Failly, so I was General Alvensleben. The French 1st division was already in position on high ground covering the key town of Wingen, which was both side's objective. All other units were marching towards the scene, demonstrating a combination of brilliant generalship (probably), deployment blunder (me mainly) and a mutual firm determination to get stuck in.

Suffice it to say we had a lot of fun once the blinds were replaced by the real formations (with a few surprises on both sides, especially when the respective cavalry brigades were revealed - and used fairly aggressively in the true spirit of wargaming!) The fighting was fierce and the battle raged across the entire field, with both commanders toughing it out and pulling reserves in where they could to try to gain the initiative. The fighting for the town of Wingen was particularly bloody, with the French tenaciously holding on in the face of repeated Prussian assaults.

As the day wore on though, the devastating firepower of the Chassepot was put to better use by the French than the superior Krupp guns were by the Prussians, and the latter began to struggle to keep their attack going. As the sun set (ie. when the game clock ran down) the Prussians were finally forced to admit defeat and withdraw from the field, giving up their toehold in Wingen and leaving the field to the victorious French - well done GM!

The rules were from the Realtime Wargames series, the figures Heroics & Ros and the terrain and scenery a right old mix of bought and scratch built.

Although I didn't take as many as I wanted to, here are some pictures of the battle:

The Prussians mass for the charge up the road to Wingen (in the distance, top right). The Prussian blind following them turned out to be the reserve cavalry, which launched a number of charges in an attempt to create havoc in the French lines. Some even succeeded!

For example..

Wingen under sustained assault

 A remote corner of the field, demonstrating that bad things happen to isolated units

Prussian battalions grit their teeth and march towards the enemy held treeline on the western flank

Prussian cavalry sacrifice themselves to drive the French batteries off a hill overlooking the town, but in the end it's to no avail and the day is lost

So, a very enjoyable game in good company as always, and with plenty of dramatic moments. The rules were straight forward and left the players to focus on fighting the battle, which I think is always a good thing. It was great to bring these armies out for a game, and it reminded me that I need to make a start on my 1859 Austrians at some point!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Army of the Month - Tiny Pike and Shot

Although we're now into March, this is my slightly late February Army of the Month. There'll be another one along before the end of the month!

This is the army where my involvement with the Grand Duchy of Medetia began.

To try to cut a long story short it all stemmed from the innovative Realtime Wargames rules produced by the guys at Realistic Modelling. Although the rules were for 19th century battles in 6mm or 10mm they appealed because they used both a gridded board and NICE (number indicates combat effectiveness) unit representation. Based on these principles my friend and I saw further possibilities with them. We settled on the idea of building up armies of our own ficitious Renaissance countries, which would sit loosely between the mid-16th century and the mid-17th century and would allow us to field regiments of pike and shot as well as more exotic troop types that took our fancy. The scale would be 6mm.

So, back in 2002, was born the Grand Duchy of Medetia and their sworn enemies from Schwartzberg, one with an Italian feel, the other German. To give us a chance to start playing games relatively quickly we built our armies in 'forces' of 5 units each, plus a general. Infantry, cavalry and artillery were the building blocks and we put some mild restrictions on composition to ensure a level of balance. One of my inspirations for this was Donald Featherstone's book, Wargame Campaigns, which is a classic I return to regularly for inspiration or just plain enjoyment. In it he describes a club ECW campaign where players contributed 3 units each, made up of their choice of a combination of horse, foot and guns. I liked this approach and borrowed a modified version of it for this new project. We also defined these forces (or contingents, as was typical of the period) as either regular or irregular, and applied some simple rules for their relative effectiveness and for how larger armies would be commanded and led.

To the army of Medetia (and it's irregular allies) then. All figures are from Heroics & Ros which, for me, balance the basing flexibility of being single sculpts, with the appeal of being more anatomically accurate than those of other companies. Over the years (and this army is still growing) I've plundered the ECW, Renaissance, Wars of the Roses, Napoleonic and ACW (a round hat is a round hat at this scale!) ranges and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to be creative that this type of wargame project offers. I've also begun adding a second army of my own, the French-inspired Kingdom of Fleurie, to allow me to play solo games when the Schwartzbergers can't make it.

I regularly enjoy returning to this army to play games, paint a little more, scratchbuild something or just look at the little guys. Basically, it's one of my favourites. Enough background, here are some pics..

The army deploying for battle. It was sunny when I took these pictures and I struggled a bit with getting the lighting balanced.

Massed Cavalry

Field guns and labourers

Fortified camp

Eastern allies - Cossacks and Poles

Two regiments combine as a Tercio

Some battle shots from the last few years