Monday 25 June 2018

The Italian Wars Project is Go

A couple of months ago, having decided to stay away from new periods for a while (stop laughing at the back), I announced being bullied into starting a new period, the Italian Wars.

When I first started gaming in the 80s the group I was part of had some big 15mm armies in the period, something I never joined in with, but my memories of gaming the Renaissance with those collections, are still fresh in memory. In fact the first display game I ever did was with those 15mm figures.

So starting this project has been a bit like coming home. Those early games were played with the old Gush rules which were the staple of the time, in fact without those and the Renaissance Armies book he did the period is likely to be a lot less popular than it is today.

My plan is to modernise those rules, rather than start anything fresh, to be fair having looked around for a rule set and nothing else has taken my fancy.

I have used the Perrys 28mm figures for the unit, a mixture of the European Mercenary plastic box set and the metal figures from the European Armies range. The plastic box gives you 18 pike and 4 Command and these make up the base of the block, forming the whole of the rear two bases.

Above are a front and rear view of the two rear bases of the block, base size is 60mm x 50mm. 60 is quite tight for 8 modern 28mm figures but to me it looks so much better for a close order pike unit than the more normal (these days) 20mm frontage per figure. I have also used some of the seperate Italian and Swiss metal heads to give some more variety in the pike block.

The middle bases of the 6 have the last two plastic pike and the four command figures from the Mercenary Box. The flags and general colour scheme are for the Swiss Canton of Lucerne. Flags are hand painted.

The remaining figures are from the metal range with angled pike and a halbadier guarding the flags.

The front bases are all metal figures, 2 angled pike in the centre and the remainder levelled pike. The figs are still on a 60mm frontage but I have extended the front of the base to protect the pike (and players fingers !) So the bases are 60 x 130.

And there we have the final unit, 48 figures strong and if I do say so myself, looking good. Next up will be a crossbow unit in the same basic colours before I move onto some Gendarme.

For those of you who prefer Moving Pictures (obscure 80s prog reference), here is my YouTube video of the unit. A bit wobbly in places but I am still experimenting with the medium. Please subscribe to the Yarkshire Gamer Channel on The You Tube for more Spielberg like content soon 😂

Thursday 14 June 2018

Battle of Bergen 1759 15mm SYW Set Up

My Seven Years War 15mm figures have been a labour of love for a long old time, it's one of those groups of figures that I have gathered together over the years (20 plus) but never really gamed with. I have enjoyed the process of building and painting the units as I build towards completing both sides for the Battle of Minden.

No one else in our little gaming group have figures in this period / scale so there is no rush to complete stuff to compete against the forces of other people, just a steady ongoing plod of 5 to 10 units every couple of years.

I've tried a few times over the years to get things moving on the SYW front but never seem to get it right, that and having so many projects on the go means that most collections only see the table once a year, the gaps between attempts just get wider and with the new Crusade and Italian Wars armies hustling for game time it's not going to get any better !

Our chosen rule set is Die Kriegskunst, the SYW version of General de Brigade. As we already use GdB and British Grenadier (from the same stable) they are the obvious choice. Sadly DK hasn't recieved the Deluxe edition and upgrade that the other two have.

Historical Background.

I was looking for a straight forward job to get the SYW games moving and Bergen fits that in that it's a fairly stand up fight, no real finesse just two Armies crashing into each other.

I can wholly recommend the Kronoskaf website for all things SYW and below is a link to that sites page on the battle and an excellent job it does of describing the background of the build up to the Battle and give a good account of the action as well.

In summary Ferdinand of Brunswick in command of the Allied forces comprising units from Hanover, Hesse, Prussia, Britain was aware of the French capture of Frankfurt, was moving to counter the French.

De Brogile concentrated his forces near Bergen to counter that move, Brunswick attempted to break through.

Set Up

I did a video run through of the set up for the game showing the layout of the table.

The Kronoskaf website gives excellent orders of battle, below is our OOB which reflects the figures I have available (so British Infantry being subbed in for Brunswickers), but actually it is not that far off. All bar the Hanoverian Infantry are 16 figures, the latter 20. The Cavalry is usually 12 figures representing a 2 Sqn unit whilst larger Cavalry regiments are represented by 18 figures.

Our morale grades are rolled up at the start of the game. Seasoned is as a Line unit but with +1 On morale, no other benefits. Average Commander unless stated.

French Forces

Right Wing (in Bergen)

1st Brigade 4 x French Line - 1 x Seasoned, 2 x Line, 1 x Militia
2nd Brigade 4 x French Line - 1 x Line, 2 x Garrison, 1 x Militia

In Reserve behind Bergen

3rd Brigade 4 x French Line - 2 x Line, 1 x Garrison, 1 Milita
4th Brigade (ex com) 4 French Line - 1 x Line 2 x Garrison 1 x Militia
5th Brigade (poor com) 5 French Foreign Line - 2 x Line 3 x Garrison

Artillery (to the left of Bergen)
4 Artillery Bases 1 Veteran 1 Seasoned 2 Line

French Centre (Excellent Com)

4 Artillery Bases 1 Veteran 1 Seasoned 2 Line
1st Cavalry Brigade 3 Guard Regt - 2 Elite 1 Seasoned
2nd Cavalry Brigade (poor) 3 Line Regts - 1 Vet 1 Seasoned 1 Line
3rd Cavalry Brigade (poor) 3 Line Regts - 2 x Veteran 1 x Line
4th Cavalry Brigade 3 Line Regts - 2 x Veteran 1 x Garrison
6th Infantry Brigade 5 French Grenadier Regts - 2 x Veteran 2 x Seasoned 1 x Line
7th Infantry Brigade 4 French Line - 1 Seasoned 1 Line 2 Garrison

French Left

3 x Artillery Bases (on warte) 2 Seasoned 1 Line
8th Infantry Brigade (poor) 4 x Swiss Infantry - 2 x Seasoned 2 x Line
5th Cavalry Brigade 4 Line Regts - 2 x Veteran 1 x Line and 1 x Garrison plus 1 Hussar - Garrison and 12 x Line Skirmishers
9th Infantry Brigade 6 x Saxon Infantry - 2 x Line, 4 x Garrison
10th Infantry Brigade (Excellent) 6 x Saxon Infantry - 5 x Line, 1 Garrison

Allied Forces

Allied Left opposite Bergen

1st Cavalry Brigade (Ex) 1 x Han Line and 1 x Han Dragoon both Seasoned
1st Infantry Brigade 5 x Han Line - 2 x Seasoned 2 Line 1 x Garrison
2nd Infantry Brigade 1 x Han Grenadier - Vet & 4 x Hesse Infantry - 3 Seasoned 1 Line
2nd Cavalry Brigade 4 x Hesse Cav - 1 Guard, 2 Veteran 1 Line
3 Artillery Bases all Seasoned

Allied Centre

3rd Infantry Brigade 3 x Han Line - 1 Guard, 1 Veteran 1 Garrison
4th Infantry Brigade 2 x Han Line 1 British Line - 1 Vet, 1 Seasoned 1 Line
5th Infantry Brigade 3 x British Line - 1 Vet, 2 Seasoned
3rd Cavalry Brigade 3 x British Regts - 1 Elite, 2 Veteran
1 Artillery Base

1 x Artillery Base Line

Allied Right

Vanguard 3 x Veteran Skirmishers (Rifle 3 x 8 figs) 1 x British Cavalry - Veteran, 1 x British Grenadier and 1 x Han Grenadier both Elite
6th Infantry Brigade 3 x Hesse Infantry - 2 x Elite and 1 x Veteran
7th Infantry Brigade 3 x Hesse Infantry  - 2 Veteran and 1 Line
4th Cavalry Brigade 1 x Hesse Cav  - Line and 2 x Prussian Cavalry - 1 x Veteran and 1 x Line
2 Artillery Bases Seasoned

So there you have it with the set up, the game is currently ongoing, it's been great to get tons of units on the table all lined up old school style. Fully AAR after we finish !

Wednesday 6 June 2018

2018 Naval Campaign - Game 3 - Denmark Forever !

It's Game 3 of this years Naval Campaign and by now both sides know the score, at the end of the last match up the two German ships were finally identified as the Battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. It's early 1941 and we are following the sortie of those two ships into the Atlantic or Operation Berlin as it became know.

Our first Game was a confused night action as the Germans broke out into the North Atlantic.

The second game saw the two German ships causing chaos amongst a Convoy with some U Boat support.

Convoy HX115
Game 3 is something a bit different and based on an actual event during the course of Op Berlin, as before I have put the historical background and Umpire Notes at the end of the post if you are playing along.

German Briefing

After a couple of encounters with British Forces things have been going well with this litte cruise in the Atlantic. A number of Allied ships have been sunk and although there is a couple of dents in the belt armour to date you haven't taken any real damage.

Another Convoy has been sighted on the Horizon and as you move to engage the Merchant ships your lookout makes you aware of a small boat steaming towards you on an intercept course.

German Ships - Scharnhorst and Gneisenau carrying forward any damage from Games 1 and 2.

"Hans, waz ist daz"
British Briefing 

Warnings have flashed across all the Allied ships in the Atlantic, the Germans have two big cats out hunting. You are commanding a small convoy designated HX114 however your prayers are not answered when two ships are spotted on the Horizon and they don't look very friendly.

One ship has left your convoy and is making smoke, doing full speed towards the Germans, you always thought the Danish Captain of the vessel, the Chilean Reefer was a couple of vouchers short of a toaster, your fears have been confirmed.

On your last contact with Fleet you were promised big gun support, lets hope they are close by.

British Ships - Convoy, although a different one from Game 2 we used the surviving ships from Game 2.

HMS Rodney and 2 escorting Destroyers off table.

Chilean Reefer  - Armed Merchant see Umpire Notes

Historical Background

Sometimes, in a battle, there is an odd man out, a hero who makes a last stand, someone whose deeds are written down in History. In the mass of merchant ships of HX114 there was a Danish firebrand commanding the Chilean Reefer, ship registered at just 1,831 gross tons.

The moment the German ships were sighted the Reefer sent off a message reporting the vessels and an accurate position. He made smoke and steered towards the Battlecruisers and to the disbelief of the crew of Gneisenau, opened fire on the mighty ships with his tiny deck gun.

Captain Fein of the Gneisenau and his crew were perplexed by the actions of this tiny ship and rightly so, they had never seen anything like it. Was this some carefully disguised armed cruiser, was it a decoy for some, as yet unseen threat. Might the Reefer be armed with torpedoes or even rigged to explode ?

Fein showed up most respect and moved his Battlecruiser to a safer distance and opened up with main 11 inch guns. However the Chilean Reefer proved to be a hard nut to crack, a tiny target in a rolling sea. It took 73 rounds to sink the Danish ship, the most fired at any single target during Operation Berlin and no doubt would make her one of the most expensive, per ton, ships to sink of the war.

The German Captains were however right to be concerned, while they were seeing off the threat from the Reefer a blip appeared on the radar screen, an approaching group of ships. A short while later the imposing shape of HMS Rodney appeared on the skyline.

HMS Dave to the rescue (cue puzzled looks from none UK residents)
Rodders flashed a challenge and the Gneisenau replied with the call sign of HMS Emerald, a three stack light cruiser. Even if the crew of Rodney had been knocking back the Sherry all day they would have noticed something was amiss.

"What Ship ?" asked the British, however the Germans weren't hanging about for a chat, turning tail and working up to top speed. The last view the Germans had was of the dying flames of the Chilean Reefer and the searchlights of the British ships as they scoured the sea for survivors.

Not often you see two Battlecruisers being chased by a Freighter !
Set Up

I forgot to take a photo of the table before the start of the game so here is my best description.

12 ft x 6 ft table, sea surface with no other terrain. Take North as one short side of the table.

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sailing East, line astern, 20 kts, 2ft in from the Northern table edge with the rear of Gneisenau on the western table edge.

The Convoy should be set up steaming North on the outer edge of the maximum range for the Germans.

HMS Rodney will arrive on the Eastern side of the table steaming towards the Germans at maximum speed at maximum gun range.

The Chilean Reefer should be set up half way between the Convoy and the Germans on the Eastern side of the table steaming towards the Germans, making smoke.

This is designed to be a short fun game for no more than a club evening.

Umpire Notes.

This game is all about the Chilean Reefer (CR), having had some fun messing with the British players mind with the identification of the Germans in Games 1 and 2, it was time to play around with the Germans heads.

Like hero figures in fantasy games sometimes you need to bend the rules a bit to make something work, so here is how I got the Reefer to work.

The German ships should not be allowed to simply open up on the CR and it's the job of the Umpire to make the scenario work. The Battlecruisers need to identify the ship and to start with seeds of doubt need to be sewn, it could be a German refuelling ship trying to escape the British for example.

The following is a suggestion of lines to feed the Germans, all designed to represent the confusion caused by the merchant on the day,

"It's difficult at this range to identify the ship through the smoke"
"Through the mist you can see crew working on the deck of the ship and a Captain with a ginger beard looking at you"
"The man in the Ginger Beard is waving his fist at you"
"The ginger bearded one is moving some boxes on the deck"
"Was that a puff of smoke from behind those boxes"
"That was a gun ! Are those torpedoes ?"

I armed the CR with a 4" gun and no torpedoes (but the Germans didn't know that) and made it very difficult to hit. The first 8 salvos fired at the CR will automatically miss (to represent the high volume of shots fired without a hit".

Once that has passed the CR should be very hard to hit, now this very much depends on your rules but at just under 2000 tons it won't last long when hit. As it's making smoke that halves any hits in my rules, added to that factor in its small size.

We use a ship card to represent the deck of a ship to allocate hits and smaller ships use an 8 x 4 grid which normally has a near miss location in the corners (see below) for the CR I increased the number of near miss boxes so that only boxes 2,3 to 2,6 and 3,3 to 3,6 counted as a hit. I dropped any critical hits as the small size of the CR meant it wouldn't last long enough once hit to worry about them.

I allowed the Reefer to move after all the other ships without written orders and gave it (an unrealistic) top speed of 24 knots.

Although present the Convoy is a bit of a side show. From the end of turn 1 the British player rolls 2d6 representing the distress call from the CR and on reaching a cumulative score of 24 the Rodney appears next turn.

A ship card example
How did we get on

An enjoyable experience for the British seeing the bemused looks of the German player as they tried to work out what the hell was going on !

The Chilean Reefer managed to get fairly close before opening up on the Gneisenau, a hit on the 11in gun turret hardly scratched the paint, it raised a smile and a return salvo of secondary guns.

The mention of the possibiity of torpedoes on the CR focused the mind of the German player and the Convoy was quickly forgotten as they started to manoeuvre to avoid the Danish ship.

"That man with the Ginger Beard, he crazy"
Added to that Rodney had arrived and was starting to close the range, this lead to the rarely seen sight of two Battlecruisers being chased by a small Armed Merchant, a moment well worth a photo !

As the Germans made for the safety of the table edge the luck of the Reefer finally gave out as a 11" shell tore her in two. A sad end for a brave ship and crew. The Battlecruisers escaped to fight another day.

End Ex
Game 4 coming up soon when the Germans stumble across another Convoy but this time they aren't as lucky, this time the British are in the middle of a escort hand over and the Germans will need to fight their way out.