Monday, 14 October 2019

Where The Leaf Falls - A BIG Sharp Practice weekend

Last weekend was the latest instalment of David Hunter's ongoing Saindoux Campaign, set in the British and French colonies in 18th century North America and using the Sharp Practice rules by TooFatLardies. (It is probably worth pointing out here that Saindoux is the French translation of the word Lard.)

Anyway, all the usual suspects gathered once more at BIG in sunny (not so sunny, actually) South Bristol for two days of French and Indian Wars gaming.

I'm not going to say too much here, except that the tables were, once again beautiful to look at and the scenarios gave all of us much thought, and more than a small amount of grief. I took a lot of pictures, but the low light levels meant that the ISO level on my DSLR ( a Pentax K70, in case anyone is interested) was pushed out to 128000 and therefore shooting without flash ended up producing grainy pictures, so apologies for that.

Anyway, the first few pictures are from my first game. My co-player had a force of Huron Indians and their behaviour was decidedly odd. First, they spurned an obvious opportunity to advance on the far bank of the river to outflank the British via a ford, instead deploying close to a pair of deserted Mohawk lodges. Then, after a couple of rounds of musketry, they entered the lodges and looted them. I was somewhat nonplussed, but what could I do? They were immune to reason. Things only got worse when the Huron warriors then set fire to the lodges and proceeded to escape with their loot, leaving my French to face the combined British forces alone. Luckily, I managed to kill an escaping British commander, so the French objective was achieved without actually defeating the British. It was only afterwards that I discovered that plunder and destruction was the Huron objective.

So, after Day 1, the French had a strong advantage, but the British hoped to come back strongly on Sunday.


This was another WHAT???? moment. The French had to destroy the fort that they had captured from the British the previous day. After accumulating 50 task points, the fuse would be lit and the fort would explode at the next Chapter end, ideally giving the occupants of the fort time to get away. Unhappily, the Tiffin chip came out too early to see any Command chips emerge from the bag. OK, never mind, we'll have another try in the next phase. Inevitably, the very first chip of the new phase was Tiffin. End of Chapter. Ka-Boom! the fort went up, killing everyone inside the building and causing many casualties and monumental levels of shock on those inside the pallisade. The game limped on for one more phase after that, but having achieved the objective, the French withdrew, somewhat shell-shocked and battered.


In gaming terms, my high-spot was the way my fusiliers from the Régiment de Guyenne performed. With the close terrain, getting a formation into action was a slow process, but when they arrived, the dice pixies were generally kind to me, and firing Controlled Volleys paid off handsomely, giving Les Rosbifs a series of bloody noses.

In the end, the two days ended with a French victory,  so Hurrah! Mon Dieu! Vive le Roi! etc.

It was another terrific weekend of gaming and I enjoyed every minute of it. Ultimately, though, it isn't about winning or losing, it is about enjoying some excellent gaming with a bunch of friendly and like-minded gamers. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

Graveyard goings-on!

Back in May, I painted up a nice Grim Reaper model. You can see it at the bottom of this post. At the same time, I also undercoated a few other resin graveyard pieces, and then stuck them away in a drawer to be completed at a later date.

Well, as you can see, they are now done. Better late than never, I say!

Like the Grim Reaper statue, these are also from Wargames Terrain Workshop, and very nice they are too.

I decided that the Gargoyles really had to have piercing red eyes, after all, they might not just be statues. There could be a bit more to them. Mwahahahahahahahahah!

Monday, 7 October 2019

The encounter at the ford - 18th century imagi-nations Sharp Practice

This is a Sharp Practice game played out at the club yesterday between myself commanding the Syldavians and Martin taking the role of the Bordurian commander, using my 15mm Essex armies. 

I have decided to write this up as an excerpt from the memoirs of Captain (later Sir) William Huntley-Palmer of the 11th Dragoons, as recorded in the Melchett Archives of General Sir George Augustus Melchett (a.k.a. "M"), a relative and patron of Capt. Huntley-Palmer.

"In the Summer of 1754, while on my travels in Syldavia representing the government of His Britannic Majesty King George II, I spent several weeks in the province of Moltuja, in the valley of the River Moltus, upstream from the town of Birna. This fertile region was often raided by Bordurian forces coming into Syldavia via the mountain pass just south of the headwaters of the Mecava Potak Reka. I was travelling with my host in Birna, the Edler Franz von Felstad and my servant Domenico, and we took the opportunity to join a small Syldavian force sent to secure a ford across the Moltus."

I set out the table to represent the river in an area with corn fields, trees and a small village where the ford, actually the site of a long-collapsed mediaeval bridge crossed the river. Both sets of troops consisted of five groups of line troops, one of skirmishing light infantry and one of scouting cavalry.

"The Edler von Felstad suggested that we should view the encounter from the summit of a hill to the west of the village, where we would have an excellent view of the proceedings. Von Felstad had personal reasons for watching the proceedings as his son, a Fähnrich, that is Ensign of Horse in the Vranac Huzzars was commanding the Syldavian cavalry. In addition, the Hauptmann or Captain commanding the company of Fusiliers, a Venetian emigré called Marcello Loredan was a neighbour of the Edler. We watched as the Syldavians began to advance upon the village, which was known as Koruna Kmetija in the local language. The first troops to advance were Jägers from the Strelec Regiment. In the distance we could also see white-coated Bordurians advancing. Von Felstad informed me that white coats were worn by the various Freikorps in the service of the Autokrat Constantine of Borduria, all of whom were know for their lack of moral probity and aggressive and plundering ways."

"Before long, the small company of Fusiliers from the famous Istow Regiment  began to advance, led by Hauptmann Loredan."

"As the battle unfolded, it became obvious that the Bordurians had seized the initiative, with their cavalry in position to charge any Syldavians who thought to cross the ford, which was also within the range of the muskets of the Freikorps and a company of Bordurian Jägers, whose skirmishers were equipped with rifles."

"Accurate musketry from across the river began to take its toll on the unfortunate green-coated Jägers, whose ranks were thinned as the balls hit home."

"However, the balance of power began to shift as Hauptman Loredan's fusiliers began to fire increasingly effective controlled volleys into the hated Bordurians across the river. I told the Edler that their control and accuracy was nearly as good as that of His Majesty King George's Foot Guards. Not really true, but my commission from General Melchett stressed that I should use praise and flattery wherever possible to gain the confidence of my Syldavian hosts."

"I noted with interest that the Bordurian Huzzars began to advance along the road towards the river. Surely they were not intending to cross into the hail of musketry?"

"I could only assume that their leader was a typical impulsive light cavalryman, such as those who fought with the Croats in the French service."

"I will admit that it was a stirring sight to see the Bordurian Huzzars, who I recognised as being from the well-known Freikorps Schtroumpf, gallop across the ford into contact with the Vranac Huzzars led by the young Fähnrich von Felstad. Initially pushing the grey-coated Syldavians back, the Schtroumpf Huzzars charged again, but were repulsed on the second attempt by the gallant Vranac troopers, who managed to kill the impetuous officer who had led his men to their doom. Musketry from short range from the Strelec Jägers lining the hedge took a further toll on the Freikorps riders who would take no further part in the proceedings."

"It seemed to me that the failure of the Bordurian cavalry, taken together with the weight of musket fire from the Istow Fusiliers was shifting the balance towards the gallant troops of my Syldavian hosts. Although both sides had suffered losses, the butcher's bill on the Bordurian side seemed to be rising at a faster rate. The Edler gripped my arm excitedly, says "My dear Captain Huntley-Palmer, I do believe that my son's intervention has swung the fight in our favour. I think that the Bordurians are obliged to withdraw." I murmured my agreement as I gazed across the field of honour. It did seem to me that the fusiliers of the white-coated Freikorps Schtroumpf were retreated through the woods, whence they had come only a short time ago. I offered my congratulations to the Edler and thanked him for the opportunity to see the Syldavian army in action. Privately, I thought that my next despatch to "M" would be of interest to Horse Guards, whose offices and clerks would apparently soon be housed in a new building**."

** The old Horse Guards building, which had become the administrative headquarters of the British Army was falling apart by the 1740s and a replacement building was commissioned in 1745. However, building works stretched out for about a decade after work first began in 1750.