Saturday 31 May 2014

Wargame Building Project

The latest is a second farm for use in France or Germany

The buildings and walls are designed to be used together.
However as they are free standing the farm house could be used as part of a town

That is the last of the French or German type buildings for the present
Our next project is some Spanish town houses

Sunday 25 May 2014

Wagaming with the Spanish Army

 Spanish break French centre

Last week’s blog about using my French Imperial Guard was inspired by the wargame we had fought that week.   It was one of my PBEM 1814 campaign battles and involved the French Old Guard corps and 1st Prussian corps.

This week’s battle, also from the campaign, featured the Spanish and 6th French Armies.

Very much from one extreme to the other!

If the French Imperial Guard is the most popular formation for Napoleonic wargamers, then I suspect that the Spanish would be one of the least popular.   They have lovely uniforms, and provide a very colourful display on the wargames table.   But everyone knows that they lost every major battle they took part in, with the exception of Baylen.

I can easily remember buying my first French Imperial Guard figure.   Not so easy with my first Spanish figure.   I suspect it was about 20 years ago.  I am pretty certain that I have replaced them all once, from Minifigs to Front Rank.

I do know that they have spent most of their life sitting on the shelves in the wargames room waiting for a battle.

That all changed when I started my current campaign five years ago.    The campaign was designed to use ALL of my Napoleonic armies, hopefully in sequence.   So they have started to make a regular appearance on the wargames table.   But I have not really solved the problem of writing rules to suit them.

In my campaign every nation has strengths and weakness, except for the Spanish.   I have to confess that it is difficult to justify giving them any particular strength over the French.   I grade each army on its generals, its morale, its skirmish ability and its volley fire ability.   It would be hard to convince anyone that the regular Spanish army of the Napoleonic Wars were better than the French Peninsular Army of the same period.

For the first four years of my campaign I fought a different area, and a different allied army, as a mini campaign.   Eastern Spain, and the Spanish, were used twice and produced only nine battles.   If my memory serves me well the Spanish lost most of those.

Last year I changed the campaign system to include all six campaign areas at the same time.   This resulted in six battles.   The Spanish won three of them.

This change was because I gave them one British corps in their order of battle.   This is acceptable because a British formation did fight in eastern Spain in 1813-14.   They also had three guerrilla bands, who provided intelligence and posed a threat to the French lines of communications.

Strange to relate, both Jan and I like commanding the Spanish on the wargames table.  

She likes them because she feels there are no great expectations.  If she loses it is just what most would expect.   If she wins it is quite an achievement.

I like them because they always provide a challenge.   Great care must be taken to avoid artillery casualties in the early stages of the battle.   Just one casualty can cause the brigade to rout, and that can easily spread to nearby brigades.

I am very happy with the way things have developed for my poor Spanish Army.  

I am also relieved that the long suffering Spanish commander in the campaign at last has some reason to celebrate.    Three out of six is not great.   But I suspect it considerably better than most wargamers achieve using commercial wargame rules.

Saturday 17 May 2014

Wargaming with the French Imperial Guard

I have had French Imperial Guard in my collection right from the start.    The very first figures I bought back in 1970 were a mixture of French Guard Grenadier, Scots Greys and British Royal Horse Artillery.    All were Hinton Hunt 20mm figures.   All were bought because of their attractive uniforms.   This was long before the countless internet forums and web pages with endless information about orders of battle, uniform details and how to organise your wargame army.   It would be a year or more before I learned that for every guard grenadier you should have about 1,000 line infantry!

Over the years my French Imperial Guard has been replaced as older figures were replaced by new ones.  20mm Hinton Hunt was replaced by 20mm Miniature Figurines.   They were replaced by 25mm Miniature Figurines, then 28mm Connoisseur and finally Front Rank.

When I duplicated my 25mm collection with 15mm they included Miniature Figurines Imperial Guard.  They in turn were replaced by 18mm AB Figures.

Later still a 6mm Heroics and Ros army was added to the collection, and of course they included French Imperial Guard

Despite this mass of French Guard is various scales and by so many manufacturers, they rarely made an appearance on the wargame table. 

Most of my wargames over the past 20 years have been produced by one campaign or another.   Although the French Old Guard would be included in the order of battle, I can’t remember actually using them on the table.   Or if I did they must have remained in reserve.

They were used each time I set up a wargame based on Waterloo.   Perhaps four or five in different scales over the years.   But again I do not remember them playing a critical role.

For the past five years my PBEM campaign has produced most of my wargames.   The Imperial Guard have been part of the order of battle, but often commanded by me in my joint role of umpire and both CinC.   They have never featured in a battle/wargame.

Recently I decided to include both the Old and Young Guard in the armies commanded by the PBEM players.   First French Army would have the Old Guard.   Second, Third and Fourth French Armies would have a corps of Young Guard.   This would ensure that my attractive guardsmen would at last feature in the many wargames provided by the campaign.

So I was delighted that in my latest wargame, the battle of Roermond, the French Old Guard  at last got the opportunity to show what they could do.  

Under my rules there are no supermen.   The Imperial Guard have slightly better morale, but slightly worse skirmish and firing ability.   This gave them an advantage, or disadvantage, of just 1 or 2 on each dice throw.

They were tasked to attack the 1st Prussian corps.   To do so they had to advance through Prussian canister.  Then they had to skirmish, and finally charge home against massed musket fire. 

The supporting Guard Artillery pounded the Prussian lines.   The Guard Chasseurs charged and broke the Prussian hussars, and in turn were routed by the nearby Prussian squares.   Finally the Guard Infantry closed with the Prussian line.   The Old Guard Grenadier brigade broke and routed.  But the 2nd and 3rd brigades pressed on and finally broke the Prussian line.

For once the “little tin men” performed exactly as you would expect them to.   Far too often dice would control the outcome.   It would either be a walk over, or they would break and run with 10% or 20% casualties.   But this time they slugged it out, absorbed heavy casualties and finally won the day.

It was a most satisfying wargame, and one which proved the wisdom of including the “elite of the elite” on the wargames table on a regular basis.

You can read the full battle report on the Campaign Diary Blog here

Saturday 10 May 2014

Wargame Building Project

This is the third church we have made, and the first we have been quite pleased with.   It looks similar to the previous one, but the dimensions are different.   
This is what one of our towns now look like.   With commercial buildings we could only get one, or at most, two buildings on one of our scenery squares.   Now we can manage a nice collection of different sizes and types, but all compatable.

Next project is a second farm complex for France or Germany.

Then we will make a start on Spanish buildings.