Sunday, 31 January 2016

Crusade 2016 - Penarth & District Wargames Society Show

Yesterday I spent a very pleasurable day in sunny, yes I did say "sunny" Cardiff, which is never the best of weather to enjoy a day in doors looking at wargames and other related subjects, but it did add to the pretty view of Penarth marina as we got close to the venue for Crusade 2016.

I love spending time with friends and visiting shows and having had "Crusade" on my "must check it out" list for several years took the opportunity to go with Steve M and "Mr Steve" who has Cardiff as his adopted home - so no need of the sat nav as he is almost local.

Along with Mr Steve, we have several members in the club who have ties to South Wales and regularly attend Crusade and based on their comments, I was really looking forward to going.

In addition the Penarth club also organise presentations from notable guest speakers on various wargame/historical related subjects and so with copies of the speakers books in the bag I was also looking forward to hearing Dr Adrian Goldsworthy, Robert Jones and Gareth Glover speak on ancient, medieval and Napoleonic related subjects

The main sports hall given over to a very good selection of traders and display/demo games
We arrived about 11.30am and with about an hour to spend before the first speaker presentation took the time to wonder around the show.

As well as picking up some 28mm 4Ground mdf Roman and Celtic wagons, together with some oxen, brass rod spears and wagon loads appropriate for the period, I also took the time to photograph the games that caught my eye.

First up was this rather nice 28mm AWI period, Battle of Hobkirks Hill using mainly Perry miniatures and I believe the Perry rule set. My apologies to the organisers, but I couldn't see a reference to who was putting this game on, but it certainly looked very nice and caught my attention almost immediately on entering the hall.

A very nice rendition of the AWI battle "Hobkirk Hill". No teddy bears were hurt in the production of the game

The next game that I immediately gravitated towards was this excellent 28mm LRDG raid on a German airfield game presented by Major Brothers. I loved the modelling and attention to detail.

Major Brothers Demo Game - LRDG Raid on a German Airfield

Next up was Richard Clark and the Too Fat Lardies presentation and participation game of Sharp Practice 2 with an ACW theme. I love the range of games offered by the Lardies and the principles that underpin their games. I haven't played Sharp Practice as I don't play a lot of skirmish games, being a "Grand Manner" kind of gamer, but I have my eye on some Peninsular War Napoleonic minor actions that I would like to play and Sharp Practice 2 are on my radar to try out, so it was fun watching the game unfold yesterday.

Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies running a participation game of the new Sharp Practice 2 set in the ACW. The editor of Wargames Soldiers and  Strategy Magazine, Mr Guy Bowers passes the table in a blur - so much to do, so little time!

I haven't spent much time looking at the Battlefront activities since I turned my attention from 15mm WWII to Napoleonics and the launch of Team Yankee has rather passed my by so it was fun to see the 15mm models from their range painted and on display at yesterday's show.

As you would expect from Battlefront the models look very nice and well proportioned and seem to capture the look of the period very well. Not for me, but as a wargamer and modeller I can always appreciate a nice looking range of models.

Some of the new Team Yankee models from Battlefront

And so with my tour of the tables complete, I joined the two Steve's to settle down to listen to the first speaker of the day, Gareth Glover who has published a large selection of books using original often previously unpublished first hand accounts from British observers of campaigns ranging from Egypt to Waterloo.

Gareth's work adds to the knowledge base we have for these campaigns and associated battles and from the first hand accounts quoted can often de-bunk some of the myths about how they unfolded and provide a basis for further research.

Crusade-2016 Guest Speakers

Gareth Glover - Presented his thoughts about "Strategy and Battle Tactics at Waterloo".
Not a great picture as I was using my IPad for taking notes and grabbed this photo as Gareth was introduced
Waterloo material forms a significant part of Gareth's work and having spent a fair bit of time researching my own visit last year, I was really interested to hear, as he described it, his personal thoughts based on the research he has done and his conclusions about the strategy and tactics of the armies involved.

Some of the highlights I noted during the presentation were the following points, although I would stress this is my interpretation of Gareth's presentation taken from my hastily tapped out notes on my IPad and translated here. Any errors are mine not his;

  • Although we are not entirely clear on the discussions had between Blucher and Wellington on the precise nature of their initial set up for the coming campaign, it is more and more clear that Wellington was centred on the line of Nivelle, Braine le Compte out to Oudenarde covering his LOC to Ghent/Brussels and Antwerp and with Blucher on Ciney Namur, Ligny covering his LOC to Liege. The Prussians always planned to use Ligny as a concentration point and that Quatre Bras didn't figure in either allied army's plan as point of importance - Napoleon's central position move would soon change that.
  • Questions about the suitability of Wellington's choice of the Waterloo battlefield given its position in front of the Soignes Forest are unfounded given the numerous roads passing through the forest as illustrated on an 18th C map presented. The forest was thick enough to prevent passage through it other than by the many roads and Wellington's plans, should his army fail to hold the ridge was to leave garrisons along the routes from Pappelotte to Braine L'Alleud to impede the French long enough to allow his army to fall back through the forest.
  • Hougoumont is often described as the allied right flank but when the other forces including Hill's II corps are included it can be seen that it occupies the centre of the allied line and was thus of even more importance as a position to be held to protect the forces in that vicinity, with Glover citing the difficulties suffered by allied troops near to La Haye Sainte (LHS) when that position fell in the late afternoon.
  • The attack of D'Erlon's corps was discussed, with Glover's assertion that he considers the French guns were not formed in a typical "Grand Battery" and that they were sited to support their respective divisions, moving forward to the central ridge to close attack the allied line as the infantry moved into the dip in the ground. He believes the hedge line used by the allied infantry was a particularly formidable barrier to the infantry and certainly held up D'Erlon's men before they were struck by the British heavy cavalry. Once attacked the line in column formation impeded any attempt to form square although it seems that the rear lines my well have formed emergency square  and were ignored by the cavalry as they charged on to the French gun line.
  • The French cuirassiers on the far side of LHS supporting D'Erlon's men were disorganised when they attacked allied infantry in line moving to support the farm and the cuirassiers were in turn attacked by the British Household cavalry who after passing behind LHS swung to their left to support the Union Brigade attack on the French guns.
Gareth Glover Collection

Gareth had a lovely collection of Waterloo medals on display that I grabbed some pictures of at the end of the presentation

  • GG believes from accounts that the often used explanation that the French cavalry attack in the afternoon was a mistake by Ney is not correct and that Napoleon, in his pulling in of all his cavalry reserves from his right flank together with his Guard units to support the attack intended an Eylau style massed cavalry assault to break the allied line. In other words, Ney was a scape goat for the Emperor's failed plan.
  • During the French cavalry attack it seems that many of the British gun batteries withdrew behind the infantry squares and reformed near the allied cavalry lines, Mercer's battery being a notable exception. Although the gunners were ordered to leave their guns and seek shelter with the infantry squares, there appears to be little evidence to support this happening.
  • GG can find little evidence to support the idea that British light cavalry units did much to impede or disrupt their French opposites and in the main kept out of the fighting around the squares.

  • There seems to be little evidence to show that the French were aware of the Prussian advance on their right flank until Lobau's men "bumped" the Prussian advance guard in the mid afternoon. No attempts were made to defend the right flank with precautions such as loop-holing Plancenoit for defence.
  • The final pursuit of the broken French army from the battlefield was not without problems as many of the pursuing Prussians were desperately short of ammunition and their is evidence of British ammunition wagons and caissons being sent over to quickly resupply the Prussian troops.
  • The final march on Paris could well have proven more contested had the French had the ability to sufficiently garrison the thirteen fortresses between the city and Waterloo as illustrated on map presented.

The points highlighted provided plenty of scope for further conversation at the end of the presentation and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion they provoked afterwards.

In addition I had the current book I am reading, namely Gareth's "From Corunna to Waterloo" illustrating letters giving first hand accounts of two 15th Hussar officers, with me and the author kindly autographed my edition.

My copy of "From Corunna to Waterloo" autographed by the author

When I have finished the read I will share my thoughts with a review.

Next up we had a very entertaining and informative presentation by Adrian Goldsworthy and Robert Jones

Dr Adrian Goldsworthy, Ancient Historian and Novelist

Bloodied Banners - Martial Display on the Medieval Battlefield, Robert Jones

Adrian Goldswothy (pictured) together with Robert Jones presented their thoughts on the
main kind of battle in ancient and medieval warfare - The raid and the skirmish battle 
Adrian and Robert presented a very compelling argument that based on the historical record, we wargamers spend a disproportionate amount of time focused on the "Big Battle" which were comparatively rare events compared with the favoured and more common approach to warfare of this period, namely the raid/counter raid and the low level skirmish warfare this kind of activity generated.

This imbalance in the wargaming approach to the subject has lead to a limited number of skirmish rule sets in comparison to the many more "Big Battle" rule sets.

One aspect that often gets overlooked by we wargamers is that in the 21st century we take for granted that we know where places are in relation, one to another. The ancient, medieval commander was often not so well informed  and thus raiding was a very specialised form of warfare in that prior reconnaissance was vital to determine the target, how to get there and importantly how to get back, returning safely with any ill gotten booty, slaves, treasure and livestock.

For the defender against raiders, the name of the game was observation, delay and disruption of the raiders principally along the most likely routes of movement, thus alerting and allowing for the gathering of a counter attacking force to strike the raiders on the return home.

Here lies, as the two speakers illustrated the core of the majority of military activity of the period, and often larger engagements resulted from a raiding force being cornered by the defenders and forced to call in all their outlying foragers to contest the forced battle.

My edition of Adrian's "The Complete Roman Army" autographed
by the author, also being read at the moment
I certainly came away with lots of ideas particularly around my planned Roman, Dacian, Sarmatian and German collections and consideration of some skirmish level battles would seem to be an interesting addition to my plans.

The three presentations were a great distraction and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions and have marked the diary for a return next year.

Finally whilst heading back across Cardiff to collect our car, Mr Steve kindly detoured to take us over to visit the massive Firestorm Games Emporium in what looks like a converted furniture store. I immediately thought on entering the shop of the advertising slogan seen here in the UK by a certain beer manufacturer, which would proclaim, "if Carlsburg made a wargames store".

On entering the shop floor the left of the store is filled with table space (see below) which at the time was in full use with that hum of noise created by gamers engrossed with the the drama on the table in front of them.

To the right was an amazing amount of stock of board games, terrain, painting, modelling materials and figures from X-wing, Battlefront, War and Empire to name but a few. I had heard a lot about Cardiff's new store and gaming facility and I was very impressed.

Thus ended a very nice day in Cardiff and we all came away very impressed with Crusade. I can see the show being a regular event in JJ's Wargames calendar and I am looking forward to the next one in 2017 - Well done to the guys at the Penarth and District Wargames Society and thank you to Steve M and Mr Steve for their company.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

JJ's Wargames Followers - Lost but Not Forgotten

I like many other bloggers in the hobby have noticed a number of followers drop off the blog this week and thought you might like to know what the heck is going on, particularly if you are one of the followers to the blog that would like to continue getting updates about my posts. This apparently is the official explanation.


December 21, 2015
In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we've seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we'll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs. 

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we'll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we'll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they'll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

So that's ok then!

Seriously though, I love having followers, as you are the guys that have indicated you like what's going on here by taking the time to register your interest, and I hope if you have been affected you will be back soon.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Roman Soldier versus Germanic Warrior - Lindsay Powell

Following on from my recent review of "Eager for Glory", Lindsay Powell's biography of Drusus the Elder and his campaign of conquest in Germania. I though I would share my thoughts about the next book I decided to tick off the list of reading, which rather aptly was another title by the author on a similar subject matter.

I picked up my copy of this book as a Kindle offer from Amazon and it had been sitting in my E library for several  months when I remembered I had it following finishing the Drusus book.

This is the first title in the Osprey "Combat" series of books I have read and like most of the other Osprey series it provides a compact appraisal and summary of its given subject with plenty of pointers to more detailed sources, coupled with great artwork for which the publisher is renowned, in this case done by the great illustrator Peter Dennis.

The book is well illustrated throughout with Peter Dennis' superb artwork
I have to say I really enjoyed this book which was a perfect follow up to the Drusus title and consolidated the knowledge gleaned from the first book. This book really does pack a lot of information into 80 odd pages and provides a good grounding in the subject for someone like myself getting to grips with the period.

So what do the contents look like?

This chapter covers the first contacts with the German tribes by Caesar in Gaul and consolidation of Roman occupation under Augustus and the appointment of Drusus to lead the campaign into Germania, its progress up to his death and the follow up initiatives of Tiberius and Varus followed by the rise of Arminius, which sets the scene for an analysis of three key campaign examples and the fighting that followed

The Opposing Sides
Before launching into an analysis of the campaigns, Powell provides a chapter looking at the two sides troop types and general organisation, covering training, weapons, tactics, morale, logistics, leadership, communication and the role of Roman allied and auxiliary troops. I was familiar with most of this content, but found it a useful recap with a few nuggets of new information to add to the learning.

The next three chapters look in detail at three examples of campaigning that help illustrate the way the two armies fought each other in the early years of the 1st Century, with the classic ambush scenario that is represented by the Teutoburg Pass, the set piece open field clash at Idistaviso which favoured the Roman style of combat and an attack and defence action with the German warriors set up in behind field defences and in wooded terrain with the Romans looking to force them out and mop up in any pursuit.

Teutoburg Pass - Summer AD 9
A familiar battle in the woods fought over several days designed to wear the Romans down with attritional warfare in terrain that allowed the German warriors to make full use of their ambush style of warfare, before moving in in force to administer the coup de grace. This kind of action depended a lot on surprise, and the Romans became less accommodating as the campaign progressed.

Idistaviso - Summer AD 16
The classic line of battle with German tribesman charging down from their ridge line position into the three line Roman battle formation with cavalry hovering on the flanks to take advantage of any waverers. This fighting suited the Roman tactics and their better discipline and drill won out at the end of the day.

The Angrivarian Wall - Summer AD 16.
The Romans attack a prepared position, get repulsed on the first attempt, then resort to softening up the Germans with their artillery before sending in the legionaries to take the position. Another way for the Germans to make the Romans fight a more attritional battle and perhaps cause them to question whether the campaign would be worth pursuing.

Each of these chapters follows a similar format with a description of the events leading up to the battle giving the context for the action, usually accompanied with some very good battle maps to illustrate the set up. The battle maps are well illustrated designed to give a time line to key events that shaped the clash. There is then a description of the battlefield based on the sources and then what is often the best guess as to where the actions may have taken place with photos of some of the modern sites today to give an impression of the lie of the land.Then we get a blow by blow account of each action illustrating the way the various commanders used their units in the three very different battles.

Analysis - Leadership, Mission objectives and strategies, Planning and preparation, Tactics, combat doctrine and weapons. The penultimate chapter acts to summarise the battle descriptions by teasing out the key command decisions that influenced the outcomes and a consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of both armies tactics that shaped the style of fighting they adopted

Aftermath - the conclusion to the book discusses why the campaigns were initiated by the Romans in the first place and how events probably drove Emperor Tiberius to put a halt to any further troop deployments and consolidate his hold on the west bank of the Rhine, content to conduct a proxy war with the help of Rome's German allies. 

Bibliography - A very useful list of the ancient sources

In summary a good read and a useful starter book to encourage further reading, with very inspiring artwork to encourage the wargamer to get painting.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

1/63e Regiment de Ligne

The heritage of the 63eme Regiment de Ligne can be traced back to the founding of the Swiss Regiment d'Ernest on February 17th 1672 under it's then colonel Jean Jaques Baron d'Erlach.

One of several Swiss units that served in the army of the Kingdom of France, the regiment would change its name with each new colonel:

1694 - 1701 Regiment de Manuel
1701 - 1728 Regiment Villars Chandieu
1728 - 1739 Regiment de May
1739 - 1751 Regiment de Bettens (two battalions were present at the Battle of Fontenoy)
1751 - 1762 Regiment de Jenner
1762 - 1782 Regiment d'Erlach
1782 - 1791 Regiment d'Ernst

Colonel Jean Jaques Baron d'Erlach

In 1791 the regiment was retitled the 63eme Regiment d'Infanterie but was returned to the Swiss army the following year.

In 1796 the French revolutionary authorities formed a new corps bearing the number 63e Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie de Ligne, formed from the following units:
14e Demi-Brigade de bataille (2/7e Regt. de Inf., 1er and 2e Bn. du Gard)
22e Demi-Brigade de bataille (2/11e Regt. de Inf., Bn., Vol. de Martigues and 2e Bn. Vol., de Marseilles)
51e Demi-Brigade de bataille (1/26e Regt. de Inf., 3e and 5e Bn. Vol. des Hautes-Alpes)
1er Bataillon, 66e Demi-Brigade de bataille.

With the rise of Napoleon the regiment was retitled the 63e Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne under Colonel Marc Antoine Come Damien Jean Christome Laucee who would be killed on February 7th 1807 during the Eylau campaign in Poland.

In 1808 the regiment would enter Spain with significant recent combat experience at Golymin in 1806, and Eylau and Friedland in 1807, with Friedland added to its battle honours. They would be under the command of Colonel Regis-Barthelemy Mouton-Duvernet and under whose command they would be at Talavera.

Colonel Mouton-Duvernet picture later in his career as a General de Division

There are several illustrations of the 63e Ligne in the years leading up to 1809 that give a good impression of the regimental distinctions of the unit that might have still been carried at Talavera.

Originally in 1807 the Grenadiers appear to have carried a lower white band on their red grenadier plumes, with red tape on the upper and lower bands on the shako. together with a "V" shaped arrangement

Grenadiers (Officer and Soldier) of the 63e Ligne pictured in Hamburg in 1807

Bucquoy suggests that the red and white plume had given way to a more traditional red only plume and with less red tape on the shako when they entered Spain. He then has an interesting illustration of a Grenadier NCO seen in the second picture below with rather distinctive shako chords and epaulettes.

Grenadier and Voltigeur Officers - 1808
Grenadier NCO 1807 - Bucquoy 
The three company distinctions of Grenadier, Voltigeur and Fusilier are captured by Bucquoy for the period 1808 covering the regiments time in Spain leading up to Talavera.

The key distinctions that I will include on my depiction of the regiment are the reversed "yellow/green" tipped voltigeur  plumes, instead of the more standard green tipped yellow, yellow topped epaulettes and the white chords on the grenadier shakos.

Bucqouy also includes a great illustration of the pioneers and drummers of the regiment with very distinctive orange/red facings

My 1/63e Ligne are composed of figures from the AB range and the Eagle standard is from GMB flags.

Sources used in this post on the 63e Regiment de Ligne;
Napoleon's Line Infantry, Osprey Men at Arms - Philip Haythornthwaite, Bryan Fosten
French Napoleonic Line Infantry - Emir Bukhari
Napoleon's Soldiers, The Grande Armee of 1807 (The Otto Manuscript) - Guy C Dempsey Jr.
Les Uniformes du Premier Empire, Cdt Bucquoy.

Next up with the French line infantry project now standing at 66% completed I will take a slight intermission to finish off some 28mm Rogers Rangers for Steve M's growing French Indian collection. 

In addition I am off to "Crusade 2016", the Penarth and District Wargames club show, this weekend 

and as it is the first time of going, I will be looking forward to sharing my impressions and highlights from the day.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Robert the Bruce's Irish Wars - Book Review

Another interesting book review by "Mr Steve"

The Invasions of Ireland 1306-1329
By Sean Duffy

Many years ago there was something called a Book Club and I was idly flicking through that month’s magazine when this book caught my eye. I made a mental note to add it to the “possible’s” list and then promptly forgot all about it for the next ten years.

Nothing happened until it became time for my scheduled brain de-cluttering, this is where all the things I have stored away in my memory get brought back out and I decide whether to permanently forget about it or to re file it into the pending section of my mind. 

So when this book came up for its re-assessment I decided to move it into my action section and started looking around for a copy. I was a little shocked at the price that was now being asked for it but after a few months of searching I eventually picked it up for a reasonable price. (My copy inside the front cover is marked up at £45!).

At this stage I think I need to explain that I categorise my non-fiction books into two major groups, the first group consists of those books that are written for the public (the vast majority) and the second are what I call academic essays, then each section is further sub-divided into 3 more groups with the books being classified as either being readable, tough going or mainly made up. (I am considering adding in ‘dull ‘as a fourth sub-category)

This book falls into: academic, tough going.There are seven chapters which are really seven separate essays and they cover various aspects of the Scottish invasion of Ireland set roughly around the time of Bannockburn.

I think I'd better precise what happened for those who are unsure on this bit of history. Ireland was a source of money, soldiers and more importantly supplies for the English army which had been fighting against the Scots for many years, Robert Bruce therefore encouraged his brother Edward to cross over and conquer Ireland and in the process deny these resources to the English. For three years he rampaged up and down the country being very successful until the one time that he wasn't and so ended up dead for his troubles. Ireland is left devastated which also exacerbates the ongoing famine and the country now becomes a drain on the English treasury.

Chapter 1. The Bruce InvasionThis chapter covers the invasion, fighting and the whole three year campaign and really you could stop reading here if you wanted, first hand information is unfortunately very scarce but the writer makes a decent job of what there is available although there is no in-depth detail of any of the battles or of the general fighting.

Chapter 2. The Bruce’s and the Irish Sea World,
The writer’s thesis is that there was a Gaelic triad consisting of Scotland, Ireland and the Lords of the Isles and that Robert Bruce was trying to ferment a Grand Alliance. I wasn't aware that he landed on the Isle of Man and held it for a few years and that a small fleet of ships based there controlled the Irish Sea .Generally though it is a bit too academic for me, to be honest I am still unsure what the point of this essay is but I am sure they got very good marks for it.

Now I am not actually unhappy with this chapter as I am sure it is of interest to others however what annoys me the most is the decision to put all the Irish nobles names into Gaelic English, I had no idea who was who and this was straight after I had just finished reading about all the main players in chapter one. Again I would have had no problem with this or with those authors who like to include quotations in the original language that they were written in but please include a translation as a footnote! This applies especially to French, Greek and Latin as I am fed up with guessing.

Edward Bruce, Lord MacDonald and Sir Fergus of Adrossan
Chapter 3. The Bruce Invasion, analysis of problems.
Like I said you could have stopped reading after chapter 1, this section covers the inability of the Irish government to deal with the Scots and highlights how weak English control over Ireland actually was.

Chapter 4 .Galloglass.Quite interesting but I would rather read an Osprey on the subject. Scots had been hired for years as mercenaries by the Irish lords and as their numbers steadily grew over time then so did their power until they eventually became a bit of a problem. More about the effects of the Galloglass rather than what it was like to be one.

Chapter 5. Battle of Faughart
This was the final battle for Edward Bruce when his small but superior Scottish army pushed it once too often. Ten pages long and the writer did well to fill that much.  Still, a good effort.

Chapter 6. The Impact of the Invasion.Good on famine, murders, poverty and various unknowns grabbing an opportunity when they saw one. The Irish government after the invasion had no money, troops or supplies so for a while lawlessness went un-punished. As a Lord you were responsible for punishing your family members who transgressed, guess how often that happened.

Chapter 7 .A Sequel to Edwards Invasion.Eight pages on what happened afterwards. Not a lot, they were hungry and had no money, some people got pardoned, there, I have saved eight pages.  (See me .Ed)

Finally there are two appendices which are translations of related historical documents, the first is an extract from John Barbours (1320-1395) History of Robert the Bruce that covers the Irish Invasion /Campaign and is quite interesting, the second is a plea sent to the Pope from the Irish Princes describing how naughty the English are, which isn't.

Conclusion:There are not a lot of books published on this subject which is what originally attracted me in the first place and when combined with the paucity of first hand information from the time then I think this format is the best way to go about it because I am not a fan of those authors who can write an entire book based on fourteen lines translated from the original Greek. (Sub-category: mainly made up).Some of it is interesting, I was however disappointed that after I had finished reading chapter one, then that was really all about it for me apart from the odd snippet here and there. Lots of pictures of ruined castles.

I can see now why my £45 copy hadn't sold.
Paperback: best price for a good used copy is currently around £20.
186 Pages and then some notes, a bibliography and an index.

JJ's note:
Interesting summary of the campaign in Ireland together with some handy maps can be found here

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Augustus to Aurelian

The ancient collection took a major step forward this weekend following the play test conducted at the Devon Wargames Group.

I have been spending time looking at various rule sets to base the collection on and I feel really happy with these rules following the play through and a now have a better idea about what they have to offer.

Having had time to consider how they played and the look and feel of the game I thought I would highlight what for me makes them a real winner.

The first thing I had decided was I wanted to recreate the divisional (Hail Caesar terminology) formation (AtoA terminology) style of game each with their own commander overseen by superior and/or wing commander.

I really feel that style of game allowing individual players to fight a battle within a battle with four or more units under their command really appeals and suits the look of large 28mm groups of figures. I have to say that that was what drew me to Hail Caesar in the first place.

I was also keen to go for a set of rules that set out to model the period of ancient history I am interested in, namely the Roman Principate and the era of Roman expansion and civil war. Like the horse and musket era I am not convinced with rule sets that set out to be "jack of all trades, and master of none"; in that I feel that the various historical periods are unique one to another and I want rules that reflect that uniqueness in their design concept.

Limited command and control in the Ancient period - encourage the men, oversee the reserve and fingers crossed
Finally I wanted the rules to capture the friction of command and control, that allows the game to model what I believe many ancient confrontations developed into, once the plan was arrived at and the various commands set in motion; namely that their was very little the individual commanders could do but to encourage the men to greater efforts, determine when or if to commit reserves and keep their fingers crossed, by trusting in the original plan and/or their troops abilities to overcome. 

Saturday's game confirmed my thinking that AtoA ticks these three boxes and more. The card deck activation mechanism is a tried and trusted "friction creator" and translates well into the ancient period and the combination of deck design and "Carpe Diem" cards allows enough scope to model the subtle differences between commanding an often ill-disciplined barbarian army and the better drilled Romans. 

The combat and shooting mechanism are straight forward and easily accommodate the few additions and deductions for situation, training, equipment/special weapons and tactics that model the armies of the period. Most importantly, they are fun to play and the card deck adds to that aspect of the game.

From the one play-test I now know that I don't want sheets for each division with each unit and its statistics laid out under the commander. Instead I intend on producing little cards that carry the information for those troop types applicable to all similar units for the players to refer to when needed. All the information about morale, casualties and thrown pila can be recorded on the table with simple but easy on the eye markers, together with micro dice.

Artillery rules will need adapting slightly for my tastes, but nothing major
The rules are loose enough to allow plenty of adaptations and additions according to taste and for my few Dacian siege scenarios I will probably use the Hail Caesar rules for attacking walls, their defenders and the firing of heavy artillery at defences, as I have never liked scatter dice for aiming purposes.

For my Germania scenarios I can quite easily translate the special rules about Priests and Sacred Groves plus use some of the AtoA special rules on religion and treachery to add additional spice to the games.

As you can probably guess I am quite excited after Saturday's game and can't wait to field my own collection based to the rules and it gives me something to really look forward to later in the year. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

FA Cup, Exeter City 2 - Liverpool 2

Every now and then JJ's Wargames goes "off piste" and looks at Devon and Sport themed activities and sometimes combine the two.

Last night was such an occasion, and at the risk of being slightly partisan, take the opportunity to offer a huge congratulations to Manager Paul Tisdale and Exeter City Football Club who did themselves and the city of Exeter proud in the FA Cup.

Exeter City F.C.

FA Cup

Exeter City took the lead twice in the match and looked nothing like they would against a side that is seventy odd places above them in the football league. The game was broadcast live on BBC TV and little St James' Park took centre stage on national television, with a maximum crowd of just over 8,000 crammed in to watch a thrilling FA cup encounter.

A win would have been very special in the history of the club, but the draw means a potential windfall of an estimated £700,000 from receipts from a replay at Liverpool which will come in very handy; and it will be fun to hear "Ooh Arrr, we are Exeter" echoing around Anfield.

Friday, 8 January 2016

3/45e Regiment de Ligne

The 45e Regiment's involvement in the fighting at Talavera spanned both the 27th and 28th of July 1809 starting on the afternoon of the 27th when Lapisse's 2nd Division, spearheaded Victor's surprise attack on the British rearguard of Mackenzie's 3rd Division caught unprepared for such an attack at Casa de Salinas.

This action was modelled over three plays of the scenario last year and you can pick up the details from the following:
Casa de Salinas- Pre Game Set Up
Casa de Salinas Game One
Casa de Salinas Game Two
Casa de Salinas Game Three

After the sharp action on the 27th the Allied army fell back relatively unmolested on to the selected position resting on the town of Talavera and the 45e Ligne along with its divisional comrades were held in reserve until the afternoon of the 28th July when the 2nd Division formed the extreme left of Victor's I Corps alongside the troops of Sebastiani's IV Corps and opposite the KGL brigades and Cameron's brigade in Sherbrooke's British 1st Division.

The details of the attack by Lapisse's men were covered fairly comprehensively in my post of the 3/8e Ligne.
3/8e Regiment de Ligne

Suffice to say the 45e Ligne alongside the 16e Legere were the lead brigade in the attack with the men of the 45e Ligne directly opposite the 2/83rd of Cameron's brigade.

The French attack by the first line of infantry columns was met with a close range single discharge of musketry followed up by a bayonet charge that caused them to break to the rear and fall back behind the second line of columns.  The Guards and KGL over extended themselves in their pursuit of their beaten enemy and were caught by the second line French counter-attack that, after some desperate moments as the British line looked likely to be pierced, was equally repulsed by the reserves on hand.

This attack marked the high-water mark of the French infantry attacks for the day and the battle subsided as they withdrew that evening.

The losses reported for the 45e Ligne over the two days were 388 men of which three officers and forty-three men were killed and twelve officers, including Colonel Barri, and three hundred and twenty-eight men wounded and two men missing.

My 3/45e Ligne are composed of figures from AB and the battalion fanion is from GMB flags

Colonel Barri leads the three battalions of the 45e Regiment de Ligne
Sources used in this and the other posts on the 45e Regiment de Ligne;
Napoleon's Line Infantry, Osprey Men at Arms - Philip Haythornthwaite, Bryan Fosten
French Napoleonic Line Infantry - Emir Bukhari
Napoleon's Soldiers, The Grande Armee of 1807 (The Otto Manuscript) - Guy C Dempsey Jr.
Napoleonic Armies, A Wargamers Campaign Directory - Ray Johnson
Talavera, Wellington's First Victory in Spain - Andrew W. Field
The Peninsular War Atlas - Colonel Nick Lipscombe