Books I have read and recommend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Tale of Two Farms

A Tale of Two (or is it three) farms

If there is one area of tabletop war gaming that is usually and painfully underdone it the area of nice, quality terrain.
How often have we seen nicely painted miniatures manoeuvring across a table top covered in terrain that quite frankly is an eyesore?
For most of us building nice terrain is a real challenge.
It's one thing to paint a beautifully sculpted miniature but it's another to creat a realistic model of contemporary buildings.
As a child I loved the old Airfix buildings. Remember the Roman Fort and US Cavalry fort? The D-Day gun emplacement sets, the Jungle HQ, the Arabian / French Foreign Legion Fort and of course the Pontoon Bridge set were 'must have' items. 
Alas they are not available in either 15mm or 28mm.
So it was a case of either scratch building or buying 'ready made' resin models.
And then came the MDF kits!
There has been a lot of buzz about these kits, particularly the very nice 4Ground kits.
They are however rather pricey.
Today I'm going to explore two or three recent kits that have become available. Kits that allow we budding architects to build that most desired of buildings, La Haye Sainte of Waterloo fame!
You've all probably heard of Warlord Games La Haye Sainte (LHS) box sets. There are two. The 'Battle Set'

and the 'Collectors Set'

There is however another set.
Battlefield Accessories (Mike Parker) has produced his own version. This is available through Eureka Miniatures.
The Battlefield Accessories (BA) version of LHS was released almost on the same day as the Warlord Games (WLG) version so I suspect not many people will be aware of its existence.

There is a third manufacturer.
4Ground has made a version of LHS, but unfortunately I want be reviewing that kit, just the Warlord Games and BA versions.
Given the 4Ground version is selling for a not inconsiderable £275 (about $500 something) I can just continue to dream.
No, I'll be looking at the 'less expensive' versions.
I'll do the review over a couple of posts.
First I'll share my thoughts on the pros and cons of the two sets I'm reviewing, (the WLG 'Battle Set' and the BA LHS set).
Once discussing the content and first impressions are dealt with ill discussing building the kits, which was easier to do, and which is more detailed and practical for gaming with.

Ok. First impressions?
The WLG battle set come in a rather nice box with artwork depicting the famous farm house on that fateful June day in 1815.
Opening up the box we find all the contents listed
La Haye Sainte contains:

Laser-cut wooden farmhouse, out-buildings, walls and pond including construction guides and acetate windows
Laser-cut wooden tables and chairs – use as firing steps
Two laser-cut wooden carts and plough (barricade)
Six metal branches to form an abatis
Major Von Baring, King’s German Legion 2nd Light Battalion (exclusive metal figure)
15 metal King’s German Legion 2nd Light Battalion with rifles and muskets
5 King’s German Legion light infantry
36 French Light Infantry (30 plastic and 6 metal) including full-colour flag sheet and waterslide decals
Lieutenant Vieux (exclusive metal figure) and five metal French Engineers with muskets or tools
12-page scenario booklet

The first thing I noticed was the very professional packaging.
There is a interesting 'Scenario' booklet aimed at the gamer using the Black Powder rules.
As you can see you receive 62 miniatures, about half are plastics. Let's say you get $160 of miniatures to go with the farmhouse. So for $385 AUD you can say that that the farmhouse costs you $225 give or take.
This observation is important to consider.

By contrast you will notice the BA version of LHS comes in a plain white box. Within you you will find the lazier cut 'bits and pieces' necessary to construct the farmhouse of LHS.
There are also photo copy standard pictures of all the various buildings and walls that are required to be assembled to build the farmhouse complex.
There are no miniatures to speak of. There are also assembly instructions / construction guide as such, just the photocopy pictures.
However I've found the photocopy pictures are all I really needed. That said Mike has posted a very very handy uTube video that shows you how to construct a building and Mike promises that more instructional videos will follow shortly.
You can see the first video here:

What's really cool about the video guide is not only are you shown how to construct one of the buildings from the BA LHS set but Mike provides heaps of nifty little tips.
Even if you don't buy his LHS set or any of the other BA offerings it's worth watching if you intend to build any lazercut MDF buildings

Let's now talk value for money.
I've seen both models constructed.
To be honest there is really nothing in real 'model quality' to split them. Both are nice models. Both appear relatively easy to construct.
Both are made from quality materials.
Looking at the building instructions shows that the BA version is a more detailed model in regards to building interiors, with interior walls, lofts and staircases in some buildings.
The WLGs model has several carts and pieces of furniture which are nice.
Both models are very suitable to skirmish style games.
But what leaves me feeling that the BA model is better value for my money is the bottom line price.
The BA version retails for $175 AUD plus a flat $15 postage domestic or $25 international.
The WLG version costs $385 AUD plus postage. I've no idea on what postage to us here in Australia will be. I'd buy it directly from WAR AND PEACE GAMES here in Australia and save on postage. Besides, WAR AND PEACE are great to deal with.

Yes,.. WLG gives you 62 miniatures and YES you get a plough, two nifty carts and some furniture but I personally don't need 41 extra French infantry and 21 KGL riflemen.
Even if I did I'd rather purchase my miniatures from Perry to match the rest of my Napoleonic collection. I'm not saying the Warlord games miniatures are not nice, but what if my collection is Perry, or Victrix, or Front Rank?

And what if I want the farmhouse for playing WW2 games exclusively because Napoleonic's just ain't my thing.
Well, you get the idea.
The other issue for me is also the fact that the BA version is Aussie made!
That's right! Home grown Aussie made terrain!
For me supporting the domestic manufacturers such as Eureka Miniatures, Adventure Miniatures and Battlefield Accessories is important.

All that said, IF I was recently getting into Napoleonic gaming AND I was a fan of Warlord Games miniatures (and they are fine miniatures just not to my taste) then the WLGs battle set is a good starting point. Even more so if your rules of choice are BLACK POWDER.
Also consider looking at the WLGs COLLECTOR Edition of LHS.
In that set you get even more miniatures and some nice additional terrain pieces including the famous 'Sand pit' that riflemen from the 95th fought.
Resin pile of dead Frenchmen (used by the King’s German Legion to block the gateway after they burnt the gates for warmth the night before!)
6 French Voltigeurs skirmishing
Marshall Ney (Bravest of the Brave)
4 French casualties
Mounted French Officer
36 plastic French Line Infantry (6 metal command and 30 plastic infantry)
6 Luneberg Light Infantry
6 British 95th Rifles
1 British Rocketeer and a horse.
1 Nassau officer using cooking pot to extinguish the barn fire (exclusive metal model)
6  Nassau infantry
36 plastic Hanoverian Infantry (6 metal command, 30 plastic infantry)
Farmer’s wife tending young calf (exclusive metal model – she refused to leave the poor newborn and stayed with it during the battle…)
Abatis branches
Cost? $478 USD. I suspect it would sell here in Australia for around the vicinity of $525-550 AUD, but I must stress I'm just speculating on the Aussie $ cost.

Now, as we progress with the review I will look closer at the miniatures that come in the Warlord Games sets but for now let's just focus on the Farm Buildings because let's face it, this isn't a figure review.
So that's all for now.
In my next post we'll look at both construction and a side by side comparison of the two sets.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bloody Run. AAR number 6 in our LONGSTREET campaign

Hi Everyone
This is the 6th AAR in my LONGSTREET Campaign.
Stan and I fought this engagement over 3 weeks ago but due to some technical issues, (my laptop died) I've only now managed to upload the AAR.
We're now into the last battle of the year 1863.
The LONGSTREET campaign system sees 1 battle in 1863, 2 in '62, 3 in '63, 2 in '64 and one final battle in 1865.
The card decks favours the Rebs in 1861 and 1862. By 1863 the decks are evening out and the Yanks get the advantage from '64 onwards.
Obviously as the commander of the Federals I was keen to be moving into 1864.
So now we find ourselves facing the Confederates across a icy stream called 'Bloody Run' due to the rich red mud and soil of its banks.
It would soon be known as 'Bloody' Run for another reason,...


NOTE: Stan played the 'CONFUSSION' card and the men from Maine went retreating back across the run,...

After the battle the Union troops settled down on the southern bank and licked it's wounds as the Confederates withdrew south.
President Lincoln visited the Brigade two days after the battle and moved amongst the men with words of encouragement and thanks for their efforts.
In particular he praised the men from Maine, many of the officers of whom he had met before when the manned the heavy artillery around Washington D.C.
The Brigade also received reinforcements in the form of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry.  
The Brigade now looked like this:

11th NY Fire Zouaves: Cautious Veterans (5 Bases)
1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment: Eager Veterans (6 Bases) HERO
The Utah Volunteers: Eager Veterans (6 Bases) 'OLD RELIABLES'
28th Massachusetts 'Irish': Seasoned Veterans (5 Bases) HERO
44th New York: Cautious Recruits (5 Bases)
146th New York: Seasoned Recruits (7 Bases)
5th New York Volunteer Infantry: Seasoned Veterans (6 Bases)

1st US Artillery: 2 x Howitzers
2nd US Artillery: 2 Light Rifles
5th US Artillery: 1 x 6 Pdr and 1 Howitzer
6th Massachusetts Artillery: 3 Light Rifles 
Major General Rawlins has 19 EPIC POINTS!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

GETTYSBOROUGH! Longstreet Campaign Battle No 5

Hi Guys
Stan and I are up to game 5 of our Longstreet Campaign.
It's now June 1863 (the second of three played in 1863).
So far honours have been shared with two victories each.
Read On:

So another victory to the Union forces.
The bonus for me in this engagement was picking up 5 EPIC POINTS!!
Also, my man was promoted after this battle.
The Union Brigade now looks like this:

11 NY Fire Zouaves: Cautious Veterans 5 Bases
1st Maine Heavy Artillery: Eager Veterans 6 Bases with a HERO
The Utah Volunteers: Eager Veterans 6 Bases "OLD RELIABLES"
28th Massachusetts 'Irish': Seasoned Recruits 5 Bases with a HERO
44th New York Infantry: Seasoned Recruits 8 Bases.
5th New York Zouaves: Seasoned Recruits 10 Bases (Reinforcements)

5th US Artillery: 1 6Pdr smoothbore and 1 Howitzer
1st US Artillery: 2 Howitzers
6th Massachusetts Artillery 3 x Light Rifles

Major General Rawlins 16 EPs
Promoted to 3 EAGLES

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quatre Bras Refight with FoG:N

ABOVE: The Battlefield at the commencement of the game.
This weekend myself and two friends decided to play a refight of Quatre Bras. With a FoG:N tournament approaching we decided that these rules would be an excellent set to use to fight the battle.
Arnaud (as usual) commanded the French Corps and would be Marshal Ney. Tyler would play the part of William, Prince of Orange and Wellington (on his arrived on the Battlefield).
The Orders of Battles I obtained from HERE.
To make the battle less predictable and more interesting I set up all of Ney's forces on the field with the exception of Jerome's Division arriving on the 2nd turn. The French heavy cavalry would arrive only on a roll of 4,5 or 6 on turn 3, on a roll of 3,4,5 or 6 on turn 4, and 2,3,4,5 or 6 any turn there after.
The Allies would start with only Perponcher two divisions on the field with all the other divisions of I Corps arriving over the next turns one division at a time
Viscount Hill's Corp, (II Corp) would arrive the next turn after the last of I Corps divisions with each division arriving as follows after rolling anything other than a 1 or a 2:
On a roll of 1 or 2 The Corps Cavalry
On a roll of 3 or 4: Sir Thomas Picton's Division
On a roll of 5 or 6: The Brunswick Infantry.
Simply put when the last of the 1st Corps arrived we roll a D6. As long as a 1 or 2 wasn't rolled the Corps commander would arrive with Wellington (Exceptional 'Charismatic') who would replace the Prince of Orange (Competent 'Charismatic').
Now another D6 was rolled. If a 1 or 2 was rolled then the following divisions from 2nd Corps would not arrived, assumed to be caught up in the traffic jam on the road leading to Quatre Bras. If a 3,4,5 or a 6 was rolled then another D6 was rolled to see WHICH division arrived.
 ABOVE: The initial Allied deployment.
BELOW: The buildings of Quatre Bras.
 The battle opened with the two French infantry divisions advancing cautiously towards the Dutch Belgian lines. The French cavalry (a small brigade of lancers and a large brigade of Chasseurs) and their artillery support made a wide sweeping flanking move on the allies left flank.
Fortunately for the Allies just at that time the British Guards brigade arrived and quickly moved off the road to cover the allies' left flank.
This flanking movement from the French soon fizzled out to nothing. The French effort now switched to the Dutch Belgian brigades in the center to the west of the Charleroi - Brussels road.
BELOW: The French Lancers and Chasseurs a Cheval that attempted to envelope the Allies' left flank.

 BELOW: The French 5th Division
 BELOW: The French 9th Division commanded by Foy.
 As Prince Jerome's Division moved towards the French right flank in support of the now stalled cavalry movement another British division (LtGen Alten's 3rd Div) arrived consisting of the 5th Brigade of English battalions (the 33rd, 30th, 69th and 73rd Foot) and the Hanoverian Brigade consisting mainly of conscripts. The 5th Brigade moved off to support the English Guards on the allies left whilst the Hanoverians moved to support the Netherlanders and their German kin in the Nassau Brigades in reserve.
 ABOVE: The French 9th Division of Foy, Bachelu's 5th Division and in the distance the French 2nd cavalry Division of Comte Pire.
BELOW: French 2nd cavalry Division of Comte Pire. sweeping towards the allies left flank.
BELOW: The British Guards foil the French Cavalry sweep.

 ABOVE: Sporadic artillery fire in the center.
BELOW: The British Guards. Two Brigades block the French Cavalry.

 BELOW: The Hanoverian Brigade moves down the road. The British 5th Brigade moves up on the left of The Guards.

 ABOVE and BELOW: Action on the Allies' left flank.
 Impatient for a breakthrough and not willing to await the arrival of the Heavy Cavalry division that was a due to arrive Ney hurled the Guard Light Cavalry at the Netherlands Brigades and some Dutch artillery.
The Dutch Militia Brigade were in tactical formation and scrambled to form squares and the Dutch gunners ran to the British Guards for cover. 2000 Guard Chasseurs a Cheval, Mamalukes and Lancers descended upon the Dutch infantry. Their disordered squares were torn apart by the Guards just as the French heavies under General Kellerman arrived to support the developing attack in the centre. 

BELOW: The French Guard Light Cavalry move towards the center.

ABOVE: Foy's Division spars with the Belgian infantry
BELOW: The French Guard Light Cavalry commence their charge.
 After slaughtering the Dutch militia the Guard Lancers charged on again and crashed into the large Nassau Brigade (the 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment) that was in reserve. Yet again the Prince of Orange's men could only form disordered squares and they too were swept away.
As the the French Guard cavalry was slaughtering the Dutch militia a Nassau Brigade (the 28th Orange-Nassau Regiment) was busy driving off Husson's 1st Brigade from Bachelu's 5th Division who had been caught withdrawing after a failed assault on the British artillery.
 The Allied cavalry division arrived as the French Guard cavalry had started their advance and moved off to the east in an effort to envelope the French cavalry that had now stalled in front of the British Guards.

BELOW: The all conquering Guard Lancers destroy all in their path.
 The situation was now as follows:
The French cavalry envelopment of the Allies left flank had stalled thanks to the British Guards and was now itself in danger of being enveloped by Dutch Belgian and Brunswick Cavalry.
The French Guard Light Cavalry Division had smashed both a Dutch and a Nassau brigade and was pouring into the centre whilst a Nassau Brigade had counter-attacked on the East side of the Charleroi - Brussels road and driven off a brigade of French infantry.
On the allies right flank very little had happened at all apart from the batteries exchanging some round shot.
Wellington now arrived on the battlefield to take over from The Prince of Orange. The large Hanovarian brigade was place in the center.
The Nassau brigade that had driven off the French 1st Brigade was now itself taken in the flank by counter-attacking French infantry and destroyed.

 The French Guard Chasseurs a Cheval now wheeled right and overran a battery whilst the Guard Lancers wheeled left and took the Belgian brigade in the flank and destroyed them on the edged of Bossu Wood. Only the 27th Jagers remained of the 2nd Netherlands Division!
BELOW: The Belgian Infantry Brigade is taken in flank by the Guard Lancers.
 Now the French Heavies came into action. The Cuirassiers and Dragoons charged through the gaping hole made by the Guard Light Cavalry and came charging onto the Hanovarian militia in the center.
An all to familiar pattern emerged. The Hanoverian militia failed to form solid squares and were run down by the French heavy cavalry. The British had deployed the 5th Brigade behind the Hanovarians but they suffered the same fate as the Dragoons followed through onto them. As had happened in the real Battle of Quatre Bras the British 5th Brigade had been cut to shreds by French Heavies,...

 ABOVE and BELOW: The Hanoverians meet their fate.

All the while the remaining divisions of the allies 2nd Corps had failed to arrive.
At this point Wellington conceded defeat and ordered the remains of 1st Corps to retreat towards Brussels.
It was a excellent game. The failed arrival of the Allies 2nd Corps sealed the fate or Orange\Wellington though if any of the Germans or Dutch had formed solid squares they might have held on long enough for the 2nd Corps to arrive and save the day.
It just wasn't meant to be.
Oh well,....

 ABOVE and BELOW: The destruction of the British 5th Brigade.

As usual, feel free to leave comments.

Eric asked a question that deserves a fuller explanation:
"Why do you refer to the units as Brigades when FoG:N says the units represent 'Regiments'"?

Hi Eric
I refer to the units as Brigades because that is what they are. The authors of FoG:N (for reasons I'll never understand) say the units represent Regiments. The truth is rarely did entire Regiments take to the field. Normally it was Battalions FROM regiments that would come together to form Brigades (a collection of Battalions). Let's look at a FoG:N unit in this battle. The Allied (Brit) 5th Brigade for example. 
To make a small unit in FoG:N (1200 to 2000 men) then we have 1 battalion from each of the 30th, 33rd, 69th and 73rd Foot each providing an average of about 500 men. NOT a Regiment at all. Actually 4 battalions from 4 different regiments. Now look at the French 1st Brigade from the 5th Division. 4 battalions from the 2nd Light Inf Regt and 2 battalions from the 61st Line for a total of just over 3000 men (a LARGE unit). Again, 2 different Regiments. To try and create two 'Regiments' would result in a SMALL 2nd Light Infantry but not enough (only 800 men) to make a SMALL 61st Line Regiment. So I settled on a LARGE Light Infantry unit with a SKIRMISH element due to the preponderance of Light Infantry from the 2nd Light Infantry.  
By contrast the 2nd Brigade of the  2nd Netherlands Brigade consists of 1 LARGE unit made up of 3 battalions from the 2nd Nassau Line regiment with a total of 2600 men! 
Oh and all the miniatures are either AB Miniatures and a handful of Fantassin / warmodeller figs.
I'd use FoG:N if you are trying to fight the whole battle or Lasalle if you want to fight just a part, like the fighting around Bossu Wood.