Monday, June 26, 2017

Italian Wars infantry

The Italian Wars of 1494 to 1559, especially the earlier phases, have been of interest to me for several years.  Partly this is because of the way 'renaissance warfare' straddles the look and feel of the late medieval (the Hundred Years War) and early modern (the English Civil War) periods.  The other part is the possibility of very visually distinctive and varied forces, both in terms of armament and purpose and in terms of clothing fashions.  About a year ago, with our second subscription to the Old Glory Army running out, I began stockpiling a reserve 'lead mountain' of Italian Wars figures: pike men, arquebusiers, landsknechts, halberdiers, gendarmes, stradiots, genitors, mounted hand gunners and crossbowmen, and artillery crew.  To this I've added some select packs of Perry or Warlord figures to get figure-per-unit counts up to muster.

 

The first batch I completed was a unit of pike (12 figures) and a unit of arquebusiers (12).  More recently I completed a second batch of another 12 pike, 12 arquebusiers, and also 12 halberdiers plus a mounted commander (by Perry Miniatures).  These two batches (five units total) push the project into the "starting to look like something" zone. 

 
 


 
Next up is to work on some of the last unpainted English Civil War figures (another 24 cavalry, maybe some more pike men), but then it's probably a batch of Italian Wars mixed infantry and cavalry.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

English Civil War cavalry

I am working to boost my English Civil War cavalry roster.  It's shocking how big a proportion of an ECW army (be it big or small) was mounted.  For example, at Lansdown Hill (July 5 1643) the Royalists fielded 2,000 horse and 4,000 foot with 350 dragoons and Parliament 2,500 horse and just 1,500 foot.  A few days later at Roundaway Down (July 13, 1643) the Royalists clocked in at 1,800 horse and 2,000 foot and Parliament at 2,500 horse and 1,800 horse.  These were smaller engagements but even at Marston Moor a year later (July 2, 1644) the Parliament portion of the Parliament-Scottish forces was 5,000 horse and 6,000 foot and Rupert's Royalists numbered 6,000 horse, 500 dragoons, and 8,000 foot.  In war gaming for the ECW you see a much higher proportion of infantry to cavalry, which I assume is because everyone simply hates painting horses.

Well I decided to all in nabbed 36 ECW cavalry on 'bay for a good price.  I just finished basing the first 12 of these a few weeks ago.  The banner is supposed to Hopton's.  This is two units and they are just basic cavalry.  The other (still unpainted) figures are dragoons and armored cavalry ('harquebusiers').









Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Crimean War playtest

Over the last winter I painted British and Russian forces for the Crimean War using 1/72 plastics by Strelets.  Strelets is notable for (a) using a "chunky" 28mm-ish style of sculpts (which are fun to paint) and (b) offering many sets consisting of, say, "40 figures in 40 poses", which is ambitious and different, but does make "ranking up" war game units visually a tad more difficult than usual.  They do also offer some sets that are the more typical 10 poses with 4 figures in each pose.  I am planning to run a 5-player (2 British vs. 3 Russian) game using The Men Who Would Be Kings, but having not played that rule set since last December I wanted a refresher so a playtest resulted.
The scenario was adopted from the "Take the High Road" one provided in the rulebook. That scenario calls for a 18-point defending force vs. a 24-point attacker.  Since this a 2-3 ratio we set up two 23-point British commands vs. 3 Russian commands of between 21- and 23-points.  We also elected to use the optional rule of one leadership value for each command as opposed to one for each unit. The British rolled exceptionally well and ended up with two commanders with 5+ ratings (each unit would thus need to roll a 5 or better on 2d6 to move, fire, etc.).  We also chose to roll for "leader traits", which game the British nothing exception. The Russians were in trouble from the get go, however, as the commander of the Russian left (consisting of half the Russian infantry), rolled two ones on his trait and ended up being downgraded to a 10+ leadership (aka Major Hapless)!
 
Predictably, the Russian left immediately proceeded to fail 95% of its activation rolls and remained nearly stationary the entire game.  The Russian center advanced at a fair pace and the massed Cossacks on the right flew forward led by some Russian dragoons.
 
The Scots Greys on the British left countered by sallying forth and were beaten back with heavy losses.  However now at close range, the British were able to maximize their infantry firepower and the Cossack assault melted away. 

Since the Russian left was still in the starting blocks, the British right was able to concentrate all its attention on the advancing Russian center, and the newer, longer range British rifled muskets whittled away the advancing Russian infantry until only small remnants remained. 

The game's objective was for the Russians to occupy both earthworks by the end of 12 turns.  It was now the end of turn 5 and the Russian left was gone and the center in tatters, while the right remained firmly in command of Major Hapless with his 10+ command rating, so the game was called early.
 

 
 



Below: starting positions.




Below: Russian dragoons are out in front in the middle of the board.



Below: Russian center advances.


Below: Cossacks assault the British left.




 


 
Below: State of the attack by end of turn four - Cossack assault almost entirely wiped out, Russian infantry assault in center reduced to a few stragglers, Pin markers everywhere...
 
 
The Men Who Would Be Kings is of course supposed to be a colonial small battle rule set, and it does that very well, but the book does say it's for conflicts as early as the 1840s so the Crimean seemed like a decent fit. Both sides use standard Regular Infantry profiles, but with points reduced for earlier firearms and reducing Discipline from a +1 to a 0 (the Crimea seeming to mainly feature inexperienced, novice, or uncertain troops and commanders), so British infantry cost 4 points/unit and Russian 3.  Regular Cavalry only had a one point deduction for shorter ranged firearms (5 points).  Cossacks are unmodified Irregular Infantry (4 points).  The result felt appropriate based on the reading I have done on the Crimea, with nice-looking initial deployments become haphazard and lots of individual unit initiative, and the balance of the game hanging on utilization of superior numbers by the Russians versus optimization of better firearms by the British.