Background image is Les Dernières Cartouches (The Last Cartridges) by Alphonse de Neuville

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Carlist Wars

Isabellino Infantry Command
I confess, to no one's surprise, that I'm a huge fan of the work of the Perry brothers, amazingly talented sculptors who produce an impressive range on historical wargaming figures for their own company, having previously worked for Games Workshop and Wargames Foundry.

One range I've been very tempted by, but so far resisted, is their line of figures for the First Carlist War. As far as I know, they are the only company that produce figures for this conflict, a post-Napoleonic civil war (1833-1839) between the national army (supporters of the liberalist, centrist government of Regent Maria Christina) and a rebel alliance (advocates of the pretender Carlos de Bourbon, a highly conservative member of the royal family with allies among Spain's autonomous regions of Catalonia and Euzkadi).

BAL Infantry Command
The Perrys' work never fails to impress, and this line is no exception. The Isabellino (loyalist) forces include government troops and their foreign allies--the British Auxilliary Legion (BAL) and the French Foreign Legion (FFL). This was the FFL's first taste of battle outside Algeria and was the end of the orginal Legion, as the French government turned it over to the Spanish, lock, stock, and barrel, and raised a new legion in its place some years later.

The Isabellino regulars include infantry, artillery,
heavy cavalry, and lancers. BAL forces include line infantry, riflemen, lancers, and British Royal Marines. FFL troops include infantry, artillery, and Polish lancers.

Don Carlos and His Generals
The Carlist list includes a large number of civilian figures, both Carlist militia/volunteers, noncombatants, and armed clergy. Their troops also include Navarrese Guides, Valencian Volunteers, and most of the troops wear the Basque bonnet (rather like a large tam-o-shanter).

I was reminded of this line by two recent events, wholly unconnected. One was my reading a trilogy of short historical novels set in Spain immediately
Carlist Infantry
before the war. Another is the current standoff between the Catalonian government and the Spanish central government over the former's desire to hold a referendum on whether to form an independent country. Interestingly, though the current political climate puts the movement for Catalonian separatism at the liberal end of Spain's political spectrum, Catalonia, Navarre, Euzkadi (the Basque country) and other regions favoured the Carlist rebels in the 19th century because that highly reactionary faction promised to retain their ancient separatist privileges, while the liberal, modernist central government took the position that Spainish unity should be preserved so that government and social reforms could be applied throughout the country.

I am still resisting the temptation to dive into the First Carlist War with both feet, though I did pick up the excellent book produced on the conflict by Conrad Cairns and sold by the Perrys (and other outlets).

Armed Priests
To make things even more difficult, the excellent Warmodelling (a Spanish miniatures company) also does the Carlist War, in their case in 15mm rather than the Perrys' 28mm. Very handsome figures there, too, though.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Operation Brassard: The French Return to Elba

Goumiers and their mules boarding a landing craft.
While I'm trying to keep a lot of my gaming attention on exploring the Great War in this year of its opening's centennial (as featured in my other blog, The Hissing Fuse), I haven't entirely given up on other subjects. Last weekend, as mentioned, I had a chance to play Fire in the Lake (and I'll have a longer post on that shortly). But I'm also enjoying an abundance of Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) games recently. My friend Bryan and I got in two Starter Kit (ASLSK or SK) games on Sunday. I also have several games going by email, some SK, some full ASL.

One opponent who I lucked into just recently was kind enough to agree to try out one of Laurent Martin's ASLSK web-distributed scenarios. As a completist, I love the challenge of playing all the SK scenarios--a goal that I might realistically accomplish, where playing all published full ASL scenarios is almsot certainly impossible.

Three of M. Martin's scenarios deal with Operation Brassard, an effort I had not heard of before I came across his webpage. This assault on the island of Elba took place in June 1944, a week and a half after the Normandy landings in France. Ostensibly aimed at neutralizing German observers who were interefering with Allied movement along the Italian coast, the invasion was probably also aimed at giving troops slated for the invasion of southern France a bit of on the job training before putting them up against more significant enemy forces.

With a French commando battalion, a battalion of Moroccan goumiers (and their 200 mules), two regiments (six battalions) of Tirailleurs Senegalais, plus British commandos, bomber and fighter aircraft, and naval gunfire support, the two battalions of German infantry on the island were outnumbered by more than four to one. Despite several missteps by the Allied invasion forces, the German resistance, initially fierce, collapsed after three days. Most of these same troops, the French 9me Division d'Infanterie Coloniale, went on to seize Toulon during Operation Dragoon--the Allied invasion of southern France.

Free French forces had liberated Corsica eight months earlier. With the capture of Elba, France might be said to have completed two legs of a Napoleonic trifecta. But, Axis forces never having reached the southern Atlantic in strength, the Free French were never called on to liberate St Helena.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

More COIN in my pocket

That's got to be a new record--my copy of Fire In The Lake hasn't arrived yet, and I've already played it once.

My friends Eric and Amir came over, with Eric's copy of the latest Volko Ruhnke Counterinsurgency (COIN) title, FITL, which covers the US war in Vietnam. We walked through the programmed demonstration in the play book to learn the mechanics, they played on from there.

We had a few questions, but between the clarity of the rules and my experience with the previous COIN title Cuba Libre, we didn't find it too difficult to play. We had to stop before we were entirely played out, but the next card up would have provided a break to check victory conditions, and Eric (playing with both the VC and NVA hats on) would have won as the VC.

We all agreed that we enjoy the system and will enjoy playing both this instance and others in the future.


Friday, August 15, 2014

dead highlanders

I've been a fan of Giles Allison's work for some time. As can be seen at his blog, Tarleton's Quarter, he's an accomplished painter of wargaming miniatures, primarily from the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (with a few other periods on the side).

His latest post shows some Revolutionary War Highlander casualty figures, a follow-on from recent postings of figures he painted for the 76th Regiment of Foot (Macdonald's Highlanders) and command and music figures for several different Highland regiments.These are all from a new(ish) range of 28mm RevWar Highland figures produced by King's Mountain Miniatures (their line also includes "over the mountain men", the principal American protagonists at the battle whose name the company bears).

GIles has done his "usual" exceptional paintjob on these chaps. They're very peaceful casualties (rather like casualties at a reenactment); in fact, I can imagine a small vignette with one of these chaps, a model musket leaning agaisnt a tree, and a very frowy officer...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

an oriental DBA battle

While I spun up (or just spin my wheels) to publish about my own projects, here's a link to a photo journal, the first of a series, but David Schlanger of WADBAG on local DBA battles. This report features a battle between Burmese and Ming Chinese armies--colourful and unusual!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So, clearly I need an update!

I did finish my Medieval Germans, and they helped me win my first (and probably last) HMGS tournament title. I'll post photos of the finished army and its prize in my next entry.

I'll also post the Campanian army that I took to the Two David's Pyrrhic Wars campaign/tournament. Truer to my usual pattern, that crashed out near the bottom of the group.

Since March I've been involved mostly in boardgaming, and that either Eurogames or online ASL games via VASL. I'm currently in three playtest matches and fighting three published scenarios with one playtest and one published scenario recently completed. Hopefully I and a couple of friends will be starting one of the historical campaigns soon...

I did have the pleasure of helping Bruce Weigle playtest another convention scenario for his upcoming 1871 fast-play grand tactical rules for 19th century European battles. They speed up the game considerably, but they take a bit of getting used to, as they change the nature of the game more than a little.

Melissa and I have started sweeping the dust and cobwebs out of our collective chess memories. In our first game I mistook one of her rooks for a bishop and she forgot that pawns take diagonally. I think next time through we'll do better with the rules and be able to start working on strategy. In the meantime we keep our brains fit with Lost Cities and Fjords.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Army painting: DBA IV/13 continued

So, with colours picked out, it was time to start slapping them on. I like to put down the main body colours (usually uniforms or other clothing) first, secondary body colours next, weapons after that, then faces/hands, with details and touch-up coming last.

Here's everyone with the first colour on:


And then everyone with two:


And a photo of my lovely (handsome) assistant:


Then weapons and shields got painted, and work on hands and faces began.



Army painting: DBA IV/13a

I don't seem to be finding much time to post, but I've been busy nonetheless. I've had a few chances to get together with friends for table games, but my wargame hobby time has mostly been of the painting variety.

Painting is a task I don't much enjoy. I do get a sense of accomplishment, and a bit of pleasure, when the lads are all done and dusted, but I don't have the talent or pleasure in the process that some of my friends do, so it's often a rushed process, trying to get a small portion of my huge lead mountain ready to play. This especially happens in the spring and autumn, when the big East Coast HMGS cons come around (I rarely go to the summer one), and I sprint to try to finish a couple of DBA armies in time for tournaments.

This year I had two on the table, and one appears to be almost done, nearly a week before the event, with the second well underway. Most unusual.

In this case, I'm painting a Medieval German army (IV/13) for Alan Ferrency's Holy Roman Empire pyramid tourney. Here's the list:

1x 3Kn//4Bd(Gen), 2x 4Cb, 2x 4Sp, 2x 4Bd, 2x 2Ps, 3x 7Hd or 4Bd or 3Cb

It's an unusual variant; most IV/13 armies have a healthy dose of Knights, but this one has only one Knight, and that optional. It's nominally a IV/13a list, but one of the mandatory four Kn in that list has become a Cb and three others have permanently dismounted as Bd. (Interestingly, the General is also allowed to dismount, which he is not in the original army list.) The final Kn has joined the original 2 Ax or Sp or Pk in becoming 3 Hd or Bd or Cb. It's a list that was going to be heavy foot for the most part in any case, but now it can filed six Bd or five Cb where before it could have fielded no more than one Cb and at most four Bd. Curious.

That curious composition meant I had to raid other armies in the painting box. Fortunately, I had two Medieval Scandinavian armies on hand (both from the same "I sell ugly armies cheap" packager on Fanaticus), so I had pillaging material. Goodness knows I'll have to do some sorting later to make sure I have a "proper" IV/13 army and the ability to paint up a Kalmar Union or Swedish army for my GF, affectionately known as Fröken Sverige. :-)

I took far too many snaps as I was going along, so I won't bore you with them all here, but you can go to my Fotki account and see them. For now, let's just have a shot of them at start, assembled (crossbows in hands) and basecoated with black gesso.


It's an odd mixture of manufacturers. I have no idea where the knights are from (they were partly painted already); I don't like them much, but there are only three of them, one element. The spear and crossbow are definitely Essex, with the pluses and minuses that come with Essex (portly and with crappy bases, but nicely sculpted and good detail). The handgunners look like they could be Minifig. The blade are nice figures with good detail and lovely animation; I think the fellows who will be appearing later in white and red are different to the fellows who will be in yellow and blue, but I'm not sure.

Besides prepping the figures, I had to prep my palette. I fiddled around a little on the Internet, using the information that my fellows were supposed to represent Hannover. In the end, since Hannover existed int he period in question only as a city (the Electorate, and later Kingdom, of Hanover didn't exist until the 18th century), I assumed that they were troops of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and chose for all the knights and blades colours that would match that realm: red and white for Brunswick (Braunschweig) and yellow and blue for Lüneburg. The crossbows and spears would have colours from some of the cities of the region, perhaps representing burgher militias or professionals hired by those towns, and got assigned blue and grey. The two stands of handgunners, I figured, would be top-quality professionals hired by the general, so they too got red and white liveries.

Next: Paint goes on!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

end of year wrap-up and recent gaming

Crusaders fighting Muslims (Bibliothèque Boulogne-s-Mer)
So, I didn't ever get a chance to write up either the PBP of the Charlemagne scenario or the subsequent playing of most of the Crusade scenario of EOMA. The end of 2013 came very quickly and a rush of (non-gaming) endeavours washed away my time for blogging before the year departed.

We did have a grand time with the Crusades scenario; we had all but one of the positions filled (no Poland for us). Well, most of us had a grand time. My friend Amir, who was playing France was hit by two "Leader Dies Heirless" events in quick succession, with an "Epidemic" thrown in for good measure. Germany (Eric) confronted some serious unrest throughout his empire but managed not only to hold most of it together but to begin growing slightly eastward (the joys of not having a Polish threat from the east). The Norman Sicilians were not able to expand into Byzantine territory very far, but they did start chipping away at the HRE a bit. As King of England, I was able to settle the British Isles down a bit and started a reverse conquest of Scandinavia. I also picked up Flanders when it rebelled in one of the LDE events. We recorded the game so we could play the final third of it (maybe), but even with the handicaps, Germany was well ahead at the point we stopped.

Mr Invisible and I finally managed to get our first game of Labyrinth in. Well, almost. We played through about two-thirds or three-quarters of a one deck game when I had to admit that the illness that had been twingeing all day (what turned out to be a stomach flu) was going to make it impossible for me to finish. :-\ It was unfortunate, as I had managed to bring at least one additional country to the Caliphate, but the West had managed to counteract this by conquering Afghanistan and bringing it into good governance.

In recent Euro gaming, I've traded a couple of games of (original) Carcassonne with my long-distance friend Kirstin. I played a new acquisition, Carcassonne: New World with three friends. I've also played Ticket to Ride (Marklin edition) with my chums the Grrlz. Both were fun. TTR:M I've played a number of times. the new version of Carc is funky; it is set on the eastern seaboard of the British colonies in the Americas, and as players build westward, pieces that are left on uncompleted roads or towns are recycled and returned to the players' hands. So you have to complete items fairly quickly or they will be overcome by events.

In miniatures, I got to play a quick game of DBA with my new DBA chum Jeff. He took my Sassanid Persians and tried to fight my Tamils with them. The Persians, despite that I love them, are a bit of a handicap to start with, having as they do an elephant and two hordes (a pip sump, as it were). And he had awful dice to go with them. And I got to defend, so I laid out a good deal of bad going that my raiders and psiloi were able to maneuver through. And I got good pips to maneuver my big block of elephants with. The combination meant that I hammered him unmercifully, 5-0 I think. We then joined a Cover Your 6 game of USN F-8s versus PAVN MIGs where both sides lost one aircraft down and one or two more damaged.

I have a wealth of boardgames that I've acquired recently that I'd love to get on the table but haven't had time to play yet. Still waiting to get The Hunters on the table, and some other GMT titles (1914 Offense a l'Outrance, Next War: Korea), MMP titles (Karelia 44, Baltic Gap, Rock of the Marne), and second-hand acquisitions (Republic of Rome, Blue & Gray Quad, Tokyo Express). Not sure how this will all happen, but I'll manage it somehow. Oh, and a new (to me) Euro: Brass, designed by the excellent Martin Wallace. It will give me a chance to polish up my Lancashire accent. :-)

And, to finish off, I've started up playing ASL again. I've been introducing some of my droogs to Starter Kit (we played ), and I've found a PBEM match (ASL28 Ambush!) to play via VASL.