Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Pikeman Rampant: Landsknecht Arquebusiers

Over the last four decades I've had a lingering fascination with Landsknechts! I'm not 100% sure why this is. It may have been the couple of excellent 25mm Landsknechts Citadel produced under licence from Ral Partha, or reading Tim Power's excellent fantasy The Drawing of the Dark set during the siege of Vienna in 1529, whatever 'Lead Mountain' does have rather a few bags and boxes of Foundry Landsknechts and the adjunct 'Plastic Spur' contains a number of boxes of old GW Imperial handgunners, crossbow and spear (awaiting conversion to pikes) - all sadly unpainted!

Until today...



These guys have been sat on the workbench for the best part of a decade half painted waiting for me to summon the courage to finish them. Painting Landsknecht's is a daunting prospect, all those stripes and slashed clothing and to be honest trying a three stage technique is these days probably beyond me... So, I pondered would Army Painter dip work?


Well having finished block painting these and then slopped Army Painter Strong Tone dip over them, I think the answer is yes. It gives a decent effect and was reasonably quick - once I'd got my head around Landsknecht clothing!

So what am I going to use them for? Well I am concentrating on the AWI at the moment (and hope to have another unit painted up this week) but am thinking about slowly building up a Pikeman Rampant army, painting up units alongside other projects. Pike Rampant you ask? have you missed an Osprey release? No, this is a set of free ruleset modifications and army lists from The Assault Group to allow you to use Lion Rampant and The Pikeman's Lament in the C16th. Given the fun I've had with other Rampant rulesets, this seems a logical choice to use some of the Landsknechts I've stockpiled over the years...

Sunday, 15 September 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: The Dancing Trumpet Sound and We Went Forth...

Back to the Sudan last week at BIG against Madhi George and a return to The Men Who Would Kings and a scenario we had not played from the rulebook - Just Passing By...

In this scenario equal size forces encounter each other as they advance across the board and fight a running engagement, the main aim being to get as many units off the board as possible in 15 turns, ideally without incurring any casualties.


The brave boys in Khaki comprised of the 66th (Berkshire) Foot, 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders, 15th (Ludhiana) Sikhs and band of motley Bazingers...


The Mahdists largely comprised of guys with sharp stabby sticks, though they did have a couple of units of those pesky riflemen that always cause me a problem...


Given I have to order my troops to move whereas Native troops can move for free in TMWWBK, George had an advantage in being able to get across and off the board (the object of the scenario) so I decided to focus on trying to stop him as my advantage is my units can Fire without being ordered to do so...

Slowly my units moved into position. Unfortunately the Sikhs refused for move for the first three turns, clearly deciding having some freshly cooked choley bhature for breakfast was more important than stopping the Mahdi! 


Mahdi George's battle plan unfolds... Engage the Imperial forces with his rifles whilst the Beja do a runner down the side of the battlefield...


Unfortunately the table wasn't quite wide enough for this, so George decided to attack the left flank of the Imperial line - the 92nd Highlanders, with a unit of stabby Beja. Unfortunately for him the 92nd had formed Close Order which negated his numbers advantage and in a blur of bayonets and spears, eight Beja fell along with five Highlanders. The Madhist unit was forced back and Pinned.


Six turns in the Sikhs had finished breakfast and now advanced to fill the gap in the line they had left...


Unfortunately our War Correspondent dozed off and missed the action for the next couple of moves, (dust in the camera is a rubbish excuse, always keep your equipment clean man!) but the Madhists exploited the gap managing to get three units through to safety, although the Sikhs did manage to inflict casualties on one which proved important in the end. Things would have been so different if the fierce Sikhs had got into position as planned on the left flank...

The Imperials did manage to get one complete unit across the board, but the Bazingers (too busy looting the dead Mahdist rifles no doubt) refused to evacuate the battlefield and the other Imperial units realising that they would not make it across the board in the remaining moves decided to polish off the remnants of the Mahdist army on the board.


Whilst the Imperials controlled the battlefield as turn 15 ended, that was not the object of the exercise so George totalled up the points... He managed to get three units off the table, two unscathed, and totalled 7 points. The Imperials got one unit off the table and had managed to destroy five Mahdist units - totalling 7 points... A draw!

Whilst on paper the scenario did not look that promising, probably the reason we have avoided it, it turned out to be quite fun and the failure of Imperial units to obey orders and move did provide much amusement for onlookers.

Playing TMWWBK again was fun, much as I like Rebels &Patriots and the fact in many respects it is a more subtle set, TMWWBK provides a game more akin to the Hollywood blockbusters like Zulu and The Four Feathers and there is nothing wrong with that!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Rebels & Patriots: Tell Them Where We Died...

Back to the North-West Frontier down BIG with George and I deciding to use Rebels and Patriots again, but picking one of the scenarios from The Men Who Would Be Kings - Seek and Destroy!

Part of George's Pathan force set up in a village, which the Imperial force was tasked to destroy before Pathan reinforcements descended from the hills...


The Imperial Field Force comprised of the 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders, 15th Sikhs, 13th Bengal Lancers and the newly painted 4th Gurkha Rifles. 

No, I don't know why I didn't take any artillery...


As the Imperials slowly advance on the village, the call went out and Pathans from neighbouring valleys rushed to the aid of the beleaguered villagers...


As the Imperials advanced they came under fire from a unit of Pathan Light Infantry on their flank.... 


Inflicting a couple of casualties on the 92nd Highlanders, although losing one of their own...


The Bengal Lancers rashly decide to deal with the pesky rifles and Charge them, losing two lancers and gaining a Disordered marker!


The Pathans decided to shoot at the Disordered lancers but George failed the activation test rolling a Double 1, necessitating a roll on the Fumble table... 

Would the Pathans retreat? 

Would they become Disordered themselves?

George rolls a 4... Charge!!! WTF?! The Pathans charge into the Disordered Lancers and whilst losing a couple of men wipe out the Bengal Lancers!

At this point I decided the Gods of Luck were not going to be with me tonight....


The 92nd Highlanders decide to avenge the Lancers and after a couple of turns of hand to hand combat wipe out the Pathans - They don't like it up 'em!


Meanwhile the Pathan reinforcements reach the outskirts of the village...


Whilst the 4th Gurkhas start shooting it out with the Pathans in the village...


The 15th Sikhs yell "Bole So Nihal!" and capture one of the buildings, wiping out the Pathans within...


And take possession of it. However they face Pathans to their front and flank with more arriving all the time...


Some bad dice rolling sees the 4th Gurkhas become Broken and then fail the Rally test badly and are Routed without a chance to wet their kurkis!


Under fire from three sides, the Sikhs become Disordered, then Broken...


And another bad Rally test sees them Rout!


With just the 92nd Highlanders on the field of play, the Imperial commander concedes defeat and retires to Peshawar for a gin and tonic and a severe dressing down...


Well that was an unmitigated disaster!

I'm not sure why I decided to forgo including some artillery in my Field Force, but that meant my infantry had to clear out the Pathans in the village and whilst the Sikhs took one building, the Gurkhas did nothing (the curse of the newly painted unit) and the Highlanders got side tracked by the Pathans in the hills. I had intended to save the Lancers to take out some of the reinforcing Ghazi Tribal Infantry but wasted them trying to disperse the pesky rifles on the flank.

Some better dice rolling might have taken the edge off the defeat, but even if the Sikhs and Gurkhas hadn't routed (and the Lancers not got charged whilst Disordered) the time limit on the scenario to destroy the buildings given the speed the Pathan reinforcements arrived meant that I would not have managed to destroy enough buildings in time.

The game does play differently with Rebels and Patriots rather than The Men Who Would Be Kings, and with an eye on the First Afghan War it is a definitely better set for earlier colonial warfare, TMWWBK probably being better for the 1870's onwards, especially against stabby native armies like Madhists and Zulus. That said I think the Morale and Disorder rules from R&P is better than the Pinning mechanism in TMWWBK and it might be worth porting it across to see what difference it makes...

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Rebels & Patriots: Virginia Militia

I had a bit of a painting and dipping splurge on my Rebels & Patriots AWI Americans last week in an effort to get more of the army on the tabletop painted (shamed in some respects due to the excellent terrain Jim at BIG had laid out for a game).

Loosely based on the American army at Guilford Courthouse, I finished two more Militia units to go with the previously painted North Carolina Militia. Unlike the North Carolina troops, these two units have generic rebel standards from Maverick Models so could be any Rebel Militia unit (or indeed with a change of flag Loyalist Tory Militia or even American Militia in the French & Indian Wars).


As with the North Carolina unit, the figures are a mix of Perry plastics and metal, though I added some Foundry figures in for some more variation. Given they are all Perry sculpts they sit together nicely and I can't quite remember which ones are which.


Painting once again was a case of block paint, dip with Army Painter Strong Tone and then pick out a few highlights (mainly flesh areas and the crossbelts), giving a grubby campaign look.


The more keen eyed amongst you will notice that the units are both 18 strong. We had been experimenting with 'large units' in Rebels & Patriots and concluded we liked the feel that gives the game (and it means my Militia sometimes last a couple of turns longer before getting to half strength and a dreaded permanent Disorder marker).


I also painted up a Perry mounted officer. Technically in the rules, one of the officers from a unit is the leader of your army, but George and I liked the look of a mounted figure as our "General", so whilst he serves no purpose other than indicating the unit with the commanding officer, it does look nice on the table...


Sunday, 1 September 2019

North-West Frontier: 4th Gurkha Rifles

Nothing says North West Frontier more than a unit of Gurkhas, yet despite their iconic and legendary status, neither Perry's or Artizan have sculpted any in their colonial ranges. Consequently I was left with just two choices, Foundry and Old Glory. I opted for the latter...


They are probably not as good as the Foundry sculpts, but were cheaper and are decent enough. Using the spray, paint and dip approach used on my other Imperial Colonial figures, they look pretty good on the tabletop.

The less said about their first run out on the tabletop the better, the battle report is en route to GHQ and no doubt will see certain officers cashiered!

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Wherever The Bugles Are Blown...

A bit of a delayed battle report for a The Men Who Would Be Kings game we played at BIG for which  I offered to come up with a scenario not drawn from the rulebook! Santa brought me a copy of Stuart Asquith's Warfare in Egypt and the Sudan for Xmas, so I loosely based the scenario on the Battle of Kirbekan from the Gordon Relief Expedition which is detailed in the book...


I confess it was done a bit on the fly so some things worked better than others... The original battle saw the General Earle split his force, pinning the Mahdists on the Kirkbean heights whilst sending troops to outflank and attack the enemy from the rear. Trying to replicate this was not that easy with a gamer like George who identified the battle from the set up! :-)



Opening attempts to distract the Mahdists with my Indian units and artillery did not start well with the Bengal Lancers getting shot up and Pinned...


...and the 15th Sikhs getting depleted by unerring Mahdist artillery fire!


The bulk of the Imperial force made a forced march off table and turned up on turn 3 on a D6 roll. In retrospect it would probably have been better to refight the battle lengthways down the table to allow the outflanking force to enter far enough away from the Mahdists to deploy together...


This battle saw George employ his Mahdist artillery for the first time, a lovely Perry's model with enslaved Egyptian army crew in chains!


With the appearance of the British behind their positions, the Beja turned to face the threat!


The 1/66th and 2/66th engage the Mahdists behind the heights, whilst the Sikhs seize the opportunity to advance on the remaining enemy in the hills under cover of their own artillery...


The 3/66th and 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders opened fire on their flank Pinning a unit of Beja and Mahdist rifles!


On the other flank though matters took a turn for the worse as the stabby stick guys crashed into the 1/66th and 2/66th...


A couple of turns of melee combat later it was all over...


Meanwhile on the heights the Sikhs, despite suffering 75% casualties, defeat a unit of Mahdist riflemen...


...and take out the enemy cannon! Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal!


Having wiped out two units of the 66th, the Beja turn their attention to the Imperial forces in front of the heights, the British artillery protected by a solitary unit of Bazingers...


The Bazingers though surprise the Beja with an unerringly accurate blast of rifle fire! (6's needed to hit).


The nearest Beja unit was almost wiped out!


However there were two more units of fanatical stabby spear armed natives behind them...


By this stage the battlefield had a distinctly lop-sided look, with the Imperial force having secured control of the heights, but with their artillery dangerously exposed and unsupported...


Despite delaying the native hordes for a turn or two, the Bazingers were unable to hold the Beja off...


...and eventually they were defeated. The artillery desperately tried to stop the native advance...



But could not resist the spears of the Beja and were eventually Pinned and then overrun...


Given the lack of scenario preparation the game was quite enjoyable although I would do things differently if we played it again - I think having the table set up length ways would have made for a better game, allowing for the outflanking force to arrive as one and outside of Mahdist charge range. I would also want to replace the cavalry with another unit of infantry, as Bengal Lancers are not really the best troop type to take on native rifles in the hills! :-)