Sunday, 17 June 2012

Catching up!

 It's been an eventful few months, and updating this blog has been one of the casualties.  But here is the latest off my painting table, a French howitzer.  
To be honest, it had been sitting there unloved for some time, waiting for me only to paint the gun carriage and to texture the base, but I kept putting it off as it takes me a lot of nerve to get up to painting the metalwork on gun carriages!  Fiddly work.

These are all Front Rank miniatures with a few head swaps.  They are a bit shinier than the other stand I did last year, but a few sprays of my precious remaining Dullcoat should do the job.  But only once the humidity lets up- which should be around late September in these parts!
"Get yer backs into it, mes braves!"
The next time Matt decides to place his riflemen inside buildings, this howitzer is just the thing to winkle 'em out.
I went for a mix of both Bardin and pre-1812 regulations, to represent a battery dealing with the erratic resupply which was to be so much a feature of the French army after the disaster that was the 1812 campaign against the Russians.
In Black Powder one gun model with crew represents a battery, but I find myself favouring two stands per battery recently as not only does it look good, but I think they may prove a little harder to manoeuvre and place, so positioning the battery would (and should) take some forethought.  

I'd also like to try making artillery somewhat more powerful, and having two dice rolls per battery at normal range instead of one would help this.  In compensation, I'd factor in ammunition supply.  No concrete mechanics in my mind yet, but I might put forward some more specific proposals at our next club game.


Sorry for the lack of new posts, but I've had a great deal on my plate over the last month, both on the work front and at home.  First and foremost was losing my father-in-law, who passed away peacefully just over a week ago.  His health took a turn for the worse in May, although the decline started soon after last year's tsunami.  He was in his late eighties, so it wasn't unexpected.

He was a wonderful, gentle man, both a talented artist and in his youth a gifted baseball player, and he ending up playing in the national high school championships (Koshien) in the early 1940's.   

On reaching military age he went on to serve in the Pacific War, being drafted into the 2nd (Sendai) Division.  Late in the war,  he just missed out in being sent to join the garrison in Okinawa, as by that time there was not enough fuel available for the transports.   He ended up being one of the few of his high school class to survive the war.

When I got married he warmly received me into the family, and we always enjoyed our times spent together, often over a bottle of nihonshu He will be very much missed.


As a result, I never got around to putting up an AAR of our last game.  So here is a delayed photo report on a game we had back on Friday, May 4th.  

This was during the Golden Week vacation here in Japan, so at first there was some concern that people might not be able to make it for the game due to holiday plans.  But as it turned out, people had their priorities right, and all hands were on deck for this one- myself, Sada, Matt, Rod, and Pete. 

As the allies still outnumber the French, we decided on a scenario where a French force would be tasked with driving out the defenders of a redoubt, occupy it long enough to demolish it, and then move off while waving their collective Gallic middle fingers at a large relieving force which would be advancing from the other end of the table in an effort to intervene. 

This time we had a large table to game on, as Rod brought along his recently-acquired GW Battlemat.  Added to the two mats I already had, we now found ourselves with a pretty big playing surface at our disposal.  Bring on the cavalry!

In truth I've forgotten a lot of the gory details about how the game played out, but here are some pictures anyway.  

I do remember that the French had their clocks cleaned- again- due to an inability to coordinate their attack.  That, and my Guard Lancers being sent packing by British Light Dragoons (oh, the shame!).  But the dragoons were in turn routed by Sada's Hussars, so some vestige of honour was retained.  

A hard fought battle for the most part, but it ended up very much a German victory as the Brunswickers held their ground and the redoubt.  

Hoffy would be proud.

Sada's gorgeous hussar regiment.  They did a lot better than my lancers!

Brunswick light infantry behind the redoubt.
The British advance slowly along the length of the table...
...ready to fight to the last Portuguese or German!
The French advance is very poorly coordinated.

Views from the Allied edge of the table.

What could possibly go wrong?  Lots!
"Say it ain't so, Jules!"
"'Tis so!  Rum luck, Johnny Crapaud, eh?"
He who laughs last...

Flanked, Mon Dieu!!!
Pete, Matt and Rod arguing over who should get on the New Year's Honours list first.
The Evil Allied Triumvirate nefariously plots its next moves.
The sole Neapolitan contingent were these skirmishers-   Matt having "forgotten" (?) to bring the rest of the regiment to the game...
Sharpe's boys, searching desperately as usual for a foppish field officer to disobey as well as some crumpet for their captain.
"Braunschweig, Braunschweig uber alles!!" 
"Tod den Franzosen!"
A tense game, with some vicious fighting around the redoubt.  Nevertheless, chalk up another to the forces of Darkness and Reaction.   

Being outnumbered was not so much the problem; the failure to get stuck in early in the game with a coordinated and overwhelming force was our undoing.  As mentioned, the French plan was for a hit-and-run on the Brunswick position, destroy the redoubt (using Neapolitan hard labour, bien sur) while the rest of the force held off Allied reinforcements.  

Should this have gone to plan, all would have been well and we would have finished the game defiantly flipping the bird at the lumbering Allied reinforcements as they wheezed their way forward, while we would be making our way victoriously back to the French billets.  There we could have looked forward to a few celebratory barrels of choice Merlot, and to auctioning off the Brunswick prisoners as chimney sweeps.  

Instead, we went in piecemeal and had our butts handed to us for our pains.

But the French have now long been fed up of being on the losing side!  Time for a levée en masse, and to take drastic conscription measures.  The time for Allied gloating will soon be at an end...


Rosbif said...

Commiserations on your loss, Robert and Mrs. Robert. Your father-in-law sounds like a wonderful man.

You've made up for your absence with a cracking AAR, though!

DeanM said...

Fantastic looking game, and the artillery unit is superb - love the white gaiters.

And, my sincerest condolences to your family's loss. Sounds like your father-in-law was not only a great guy, but lived a long and interesting life - to say the least. Best, Dean

Itinerant said...

Echo the words about your father-in-law. I feel very fortunate to have a close relationship with myU in-laws.

I just did my first solo walk-thru of Black Powder and ACW (on the blog) and I felt I did a few things wrong. One of those things was arty. I thought, just one die - certainly that isn't right. However, after reading your comment, it must be true.

I'm new to the era so don't get it. I'm used to WWII gaming.

Robert said...

Itinerant, the authors of Black Powder deliberately decided to reduce artillery effectiveness to prevent it from overpowering the game, something do I understand from having played games in the past where half the table would be a "no go" area in front of batteries. Not a lot of fun!

So far in our games, artillery has been useful not so much for destroying units as for disordering them, a feature that does allow at least for combined arms tactics.

But my concerns are that artillery is too manoeuvrable, with batteries of one model take up too small a footprint on the tabletop. Another issue is that with one dice (at normal ranges), artillery seems too much an "all or nothing" thing.

But the dilemma for me is that while I would like to see artillery a little more effective, I don't want it to dominate the table so much that it compromises the fun of the game, and it may be that Jervis et al had it right first time. And once those Russian batteries start getting fielded, we may regret any changes! Still, we can experiment and see.

And thanks everyone for the comments on my father-in-law's passing. He indeed had a full and interesting life.

Docsmith said...

My condolences Robert on the passing of your father-in-law. He was indeed a lucky man to miss out on being sent to Okinawa at the end of the war - and it sounds like he made the most of his reprieve. Those who experienced or even fought in WWII were indeed a remarkable generation.

I must say you guys have a very attractive table with great scenery and beautifully painted figures. Your artillery turned out particularly well.

I also agree entirely with your comments on artillery in BP. Its something we have had to wrestle with in our FPW demo game - even more difficult given the overwhelming capabilities of the Prussian guns of the period.

But I think you are spot on - making guns too powerful makes for miserable gaming as I also have also experienced in demo games using other rules. We have agreed on two dice per gun model/battery at close range, one for long range. It seems to me that it works - or doesn't - depending on the number of guns fielded. Having any more than two or three together can give them a bit too much clout even when 'toned down'in Black Powder.


Rodger said...

I too would like to offer my condolences Robert, on the passing of your father-in-law.
Fantastic game report and lovely photos too. The artillery looks awesome also. We use two guns for a battery in BP too. Looks better.

Iannick said...

Condolences Robert on you and your wife's loss.

That's a great looking game. The West Tokyo club Napoleonic's collection seems to be growing exponentionnaly!