Saturday 24 December 2022

Not Just Old School - 2022 Wrap-up and extra games

 This time last year I presented a quick snapshot view of various games I'd had in 2021 that did not make it to their own AAR blog posts. It seemed to go down well with readers ("Thank God, he's not rambling on so much as usual......") so I'll do the same again for 2022.

But first - It's the time of year for my "Just for Fun", Christmas Hussarette. This year Simone - a "Trompette" of the French 6th Hussars c 1809.

Some readers will already have their hard copy version of Simone as my Christmas card, or it's on the way, courtesy of our striking Royal Mail workers. If not then consider yourselves a recipient now of the digital version  and please also accept my thanks for all the fantastic support of this blog throughout the year.

The original painting is acrylic on canvas and is 12 inches x 10 inches and ready for hanging (probably in the smallest room of the house if not your wargames room). It is for sale at my usual modest pricing, please email me for more info without obligation if you might be interested.

The inspiration for Simone came from another of the great poses by Russian model Yara from my photoshoot in 2014. In the original she is holding a carbine, but a little Photoshop magic enabled me to exchange it for an authentic Napoleonic cavalry trumpet

Photoshop mockup as guidance for the painting

Other artists, I'm sure, won't mind me admitting that I found this one more difficult than expected. The face is not Yara's original but in fact is from a Ukrainian model on the internet (but I did retain Yara's lovely hair). I just could not get it (at 18mm long in the original) to look right. She was meant to be happy looking at the audience, but now the "fun" element is for the viewer to decide what is distracting her.  (Clean suggestions in the Comments section if you like!). I've decided for me, in my painting, she is saying:

"Hey! Vous Branleur! Qu'est-ce que vous voyez? Pas déjà vu une Hussarette nue? Allez vous faire voir!!!"(*see bottom of blog post)

For those who can't get enough of Hussarettes or are unfamiliar with my work please take a look at my Art website where you can see all sorts of paintings arranged by themes, and as a gallery, new works, and work for sale.


and now back to Wargaming!

My first game of the year was a sort of "Birthday game" staged in early February with my friend Bob.  We went to school together and were wargaming friends but, strangely, found we shared exactly the same birth date (Yeah I know he looks older!!).  A visit to see relatives in Cheltenham had brought Bob up from Kent and back to Gloucestershire, so I had an excuse to do something.......

The Battle of Trubchevsk 1941

That something was cobbling together a 10-12mm WW2 Russian terrain on the remains of my sculpted table from Langensalza and the various perturbations it had gone through in the second half of 2021 (as reported last year). Bob was a seasoned WW2 wargamer back in the 60s and 70s (anyone remember London's "Bish" Iwasko and his "challenge move" concept?  - Bob played him the the National Wargames Club championship in, I think, 67 or 68.) But my dear old friend has not kept up his wargaming so was content with something "simple". However I knew he would still appreciate a wargame where tactics could be applied.

I had recently developed a workable version of "Seb's Soldiers WW2" for my grandson as he now had small forces of 20mm North Africa soldiers and vehicles skilfully painted by his dad. Here are a couple of examples:

You can access a PDF copy of the rules and playsheet from my sidebar download link. They are not dissimilar to Rapid Fire! in the scale of game but are worded to an 8-10 year olds audience, and unsophisticated in weapons types. Nevertheless the distances and ranges translate perfectly to 10/12mm models. Bob and I had all we needed to keep us busy for several hours allowing time for a short country walk and lunch at the pub too.

You can see the Orbats for both sides in my CG's WW2 Download sidebar or via this link. The German one is a full brief but the Russian one is just an orbat as I was player/umpire and did not need the brief as the Russian player. My objective was just to hold on!

Quote from the German brief:

<<The Soviets have retreated on to the River Desna, South of Smolensk and are holding the bombed out town of Trubchevsk. Behind them a steel girder bridge commands the route 47th Panzer Division have to take to effect a split between the Soviet 3rd and 13th Armies. You command a Battle Group of elements from 47th Panzer. Your objective is to capture the bridge intact, either taking the town or surrounding it and forcing the surrender of the garrison and those enemy guarding the bridge >>

Here is Bob's map 

He had six recce vehicles to deploy in the dotted areas first. They would spot targets and then he could bring on reinforcements by any of the roads (R) from Move Two.

The formal rules don't (yet) contain an observation system. All my Russians were out of sight in defensive positions marked by numbers. The firing stick shown is 90cm long and I simply said 4,5,6 -successful sighting of targets in the near zone, then 5 or 6 and then 6 for the farthest. That was for anyone with special optics like armoured cars, observers or commanders. Everyone else could only observe in the nearest 30cm segment. It worked a treat; unsophisticated but a lot easier for my old brain to master than the Rapid Fire! system.

So I won't bore you with the story suffice to say we had loads of incident, all the Russians were either wiped out, forced to retire or surrendered by the time Bob needed to leave but he'd had a hard game, yet won. An ideal outcome for us both. Here are some pics.

Russian positions marked by yellow numbered counters

Some positions revealed but the Panzer II recce vehicle knocked out

A company of Pz IIIs lurks waiting to spring a flanking move towards the bridge

A German motorcycle company has dismounted and is assaulting the outer defences. They've dispatched an A/T gun crew but will suffer heavy casualties from the defenders

Stuka attack on the port area

That motorcycle company has lost bases

An aggressive German assault is proving successful in taking ruins
 near the small central bridge

47th Panzer Div allocated a battery of heavy artillery to this Kampfgruppe and they are now bombarding the main bridge defenders

Occasionally they registered hits which began to whittle down the defenders......

.......assisted by another Stuka attack

Bob has spotted a gap round my left flank but is struggling to find enough units nearby to exploit it

However he seems fairly pleased with the way things are going

The PzIIIs have knocked out a T34 platoon defending the Russian right flank
but suffered damage from artillery and Katyushas rockets on the far river bank

By the end the Russian companies defending the right hand side of town plus all the ones by the main bridge had been destroyed. My company in the town centre was weak and very near to being surrounded so they decided to surrender. A significant but hard won German victory.


First dip into Bavaria 1809

Some may recall I showed off Paul B's splendid 18mm Napoleonic armies this time last year (scroll about half way down here)

I hinted there at my acquisition of my own armies. I found out my good friend Richard N had been secretly painting 1809 Austrians too. I acquired a lot of AB figures from Eureka and then my friends Ken M and Martin G emerged offering me their unused 18mm Austrians and French at prices too good to refuse. I found myself sort of sinking in hundreds of lovely, but unpainted, figures. Much as I love painting, and the researching, sorting, organising, basing and undercoating is a big part of the pleasure, I realised I was never going to get enough painted, soon enough, to get my rules ideas on the table. I looked to Ebay. Much to my surprise I found I was able to get quantities of very nicely painted ABs at little more than the raw metal price. I then went on an Ebay adventure for about 2-3 months and with typical wargamer/collector willpower, my desire to keep to the highest standards of figures wavered as "too good to miss" bargains emerged. I justified all this indulgence to myself, and to The Duchess, by paying for it from the war chest I'd deliberately saved for a new project from gradually selling off all my ex 2015 Waterloo 28mms in recent years. And "I'll never need to buy another wargames figure ever again"....yeah, well, right......"need' is not quite what wargamers ever adhere to. The "end result" can be roughly summed up as in very round terms

- at least 1000 figures ready to play with

- at least 1000 figures based undercoated etc to get on with painting

- probably (they are in boxes in drawers) about another 1000  unpainted not yet organised but occasionally I have a peep to remind myself!)

So thanks to everyone, whether knowingly, or unwittingly, has helped me get this far. All I've got to do is live long enough and healthy enough to enjoy them.

So my aim is to build up my armies at roughly 1 x15/18mm figure represents 50 men. Tactical units are brigades so can be anything from about 20 figures up to 60 or 80. First of all I adapted a set I'd written and tried out with Graham Ward's 28mm armies about 12 years ago or so. We had a successful game but I remember they needed quite a lot of tweaking but I couldn't find the notes I made. So, undaunted, I wrote a new version and Richard kindly agreed to come along for a test game and filled in a few holes in my ready-painted figure orbats with parts of his collection. I won't bore you any more, suffice to say that we discovered significant flaws in the way I was trying to bring my (big unit - mega command and control) ideas to the tabletop. After the game I scrapped the rules and have started from scratch this Autumn. It's still a work in progress but see more at the end of this post. For now some pics of my game with Richard in March 2022.

I called it the Battle of Neustadt, well it was a "new start" if not a new town!

Back to my old 8 x 6 textured table with add-ons, not sculptured terrain. Austrians to right of the long stream; French and Bavarians to the left

An Austrian Hussar Division takes up position along the banks of the "Danube" (some may recall seeing this bend in my refight of Lobositz in 2019)

Small Bavarian  corps composed of both infantry and cavalry

On their left Austrian cavalry boldly attack French cuirassiers

And a large Lancer regiment tries to stop the encroachment of two French light cavalry brigades

Some of the Austrian Hussars broke after first contact with the Bavarians and are streaming back

Richard, as always is an enthusiastic and appreciative guest

Lancers broken and being pursued by French Chasseurs 

In this overview the Lancers have run right back to the left hand corner to rally. The Austrian Infantry Divisions are moving up on the right. the Austrian Reserve Corps is doing what Austrian reserves do - just sit and watch

More Austrian Hussars trying to rally,
 now they are in cover on this side of the Danube

But the third large regiment of the Division is holding back the Bavarian light horse and dragoons

Bavarian infantry put up a strong defence in the town

Meanwhile the Austrian fire support is taken out by a flanking charge

The Reserve Corps Cuirassiers and Grenadiers have now moved forward. Some are engaging French Legere on the far hillside.

Ahead of the Reserve Corps the Austrian advance guard Jagers and Landwehr are putting up a good defence of that streamside farm......

.....while the Cuirassiers are developing a right flanking move through the woods

We'd done 4 Moves with quite large forces and totally new rules and were both happy to call it a day. I got two things at least out of it.

- I was happy with the scale and size of the units and just needed to rethink how to keep that up with more successful rules
- I loved the look of the game and relish the future of translating this scale visually (especially on the 12 x 6 tabletop) to historic battlefields, and shaping the unit sizes to actual orders of battle in our refights.
Thanks a lot Richard.

More on 1809 at the end of this post.


At that point in the year my time had to be spent preparing the specially sculpted terrain for Ken's mid 18th Century extravaganza The Battle of Madling

Followed by the highlight of my "away" gaming - 3 days of feasting and  horse and musket wargaming with the Wild Geese Wargames Group at Kenilworth

Then in July a funny thing happened on the way to the wargames room.......well the computer anyway. This blog, I'm very happy to say, has brought me a lot of personal attention, new friends and art clients. That month I was contacted by two experienced wargamers completely separately, Ian Bailey in Tetbury and Paul E, in Cheltenham. (Yes that's right I now have three wargaming Pauls in Cheltenham, all with no surnames due to national security!). One thing led to another and they were both interested  in visiting my den in Oakridge for me to stage an Imagi-nations game using Honours of War rules.

Battle of Ballensdorf

This was the first chance I'd had to revisit my Reikland campaign 1760-61  since Autumn 2021 so I went into full mode of back story, map making, plausible orbats and army points and table top objectives. I carried on where I left off (with JP and Charlie - reported in this blog post see Schlusselburg II). Those interested can see the full briefs, maps and orders of battle in the Imagi-nations download sidebar or here. It's the sort of day's entertainment scenario anyone with modest 18th Century resources could try themselves. (If you do then let me know how you got on).

County of Grunburg in Reikland, showing location of Ballensdorf

To cut a long story short, the disreputable Count Gregorius of Grunburg had fled with the remnants of his army (except two light cavalry regiments to watch the French/Savoy army) back to his capital after Schlusselburg II.  His sponsors had funded a rescue force of Hanoverians, Hessians and Prussians which in late April 1761 was approaching the French/Savoy army camped at Ewinsburg and deployed on the surrounding hills, awaiting reinforcements.

The sharp eyed will identify this as a variation on my terrain for Ken's Battle of Madling but neither Ian nor Paul was familiar with that, and this scenario was totally different. Paul was approaching from  North of the red line and Ian was able to deploy South of the blue line. He could not have troops in the purple box as this was the main camp, and part of Ian's objective was to dismantle it before the Reikland army got there (a false "jeopardy" thing on my part,  success or failure was generated by Ian's dice scores.)

I won't labour over the details but give you some photos for a flavour.  Unashamedly I'm just indulging in some of my collection here as I think it's hard to beat mid 18th Century in 28mm for visual appeal

Opening dispositions: Reikland/Grunburg/Imperial force on the right and French/Savoy force on the left

Eagle's eye view over Ballensdorf with its garrison of Grenadiers

View from the opposite direction as Hessian brigade moves forward

Jagers and the Grunburg Light Cavalry Brigade advance out of Ballensdorf but they can't see all
of Lauzun's Legion as some are shielded by the woods

On the other flank a big cavalry clash commences

Lauzun's Hussars meet the Grunburg Leib Uhlanen but fire from the Hanoverian Jagers has broken the Fusiliers d'Argentiere. Lauzun's Grenadiers have emerged

Hanoverian infantry assault the main ridge leading to Ewinsburg. The Uhlanen have been repulsed.....

......but so have Lauzun's Hussars - back up the hill

The Hessian brigade has a hard time in front of the redoubt and musketry from French Grenadiers

Jagers are themselves broken by canister and musketry, but Paul is making an aggressive move with his entire Prussian/Hessian Grenadier brigade

One Hessian battalion has been distracted from advancing on the camp for fear of French cavalry operating to its flank and rear

The large battalion of Erbprinz Grenadiers takes on a brigade made up of small Grenadier battalions

Stalemate in front of Ballensdorf. French infantry still hold this ridge

About half way through I remembered to ask my visitors to pose for me! Thanks chaps

Ian decided that the best way to keep his enemies away from the camp was to counter-attack straight ahead - a Hanoverian battery is in the way

It buys useful time for his Grenadiers to reform, having seen off Erbprinz battalion.
The Chevalier de Neuvalee must be well pleased as he has a steady line to his front and a fast dismantling camp to his rear

Near the end and a fascinating situation had developed: Blue lines indicate French positions and red lines the Imperial locations. The French have lost nearly all their cavalry but have enough infantry and guns left intact to give encroaching attackers a hard time. Individual Hessian, Prussian and Grunburg units are pressing the flanks but are very unlikely to stop the remains of the camp and logistic elements escaping

View from shaken Hanoverian battalions

Lauzun's Horse Artillery and Grenadiers have been bypassed, but still threaten Ballensdorf

On the ridge two small battalions of converged Prussian Grenadiers now have the camp in do the 1st Grunburg Hussars in the foreground, but they are Shaken with 3 Hits so unlikely to do much now

The Chevalier de Neuvalee holds a steady line while the remaining tents pack up. The mounted Mousquetaires have finally made it to back to safely to Ewinsburg after their severe mauling by Imperial cavalry on the extreme right flank

However you assess my dodgy arithmetic on losses and terrain advantage
 there is hardly a point separating the two sides

Ian had done well with his dice scores to dismantle tents and after only 6 moves had got them nearly all packed and shipped off back to Schlusselburg. But for the stalwart defence of the French Grenadiers Paul's Hessian brigade would have stormed into the camp. Both commanders fought in a determined fashion and picked up the Honours of War  rules really quickly. If there was any mistake it was that Paul outnumbered the defending French, and so by tying up so many good troops in Ballendorf it was late in the day before his superiority of numbers began to count.  From a Game Master's point of view I could hardly have wished for a closer result. In the campaign context the French "won" by successfully holding back a superior force and evacuating to safety. But Count von Grunburg will be in the Imperial debt even more as they have "saved his bacon", and the mercenary force, job done, will be expecting to sample that famous Grunburg wine on some well earned R and R in the city.

Thanks to both my guests for the good spirit in which they played and for giving me a really good day as a return to the Reikland campaign.


Not long after that I knew I needed to be on my best form to make the 12 x 6 battlefield to please the worldwide following of JP and Charlie and their YouTube channel. With Kevin East they were going to to deploy about 2500 Perry Napoleonics to refight D'Erlon's assault at Waterloo.  And if you want a fantastic reminder take a look at JP's superb video channel in which this short piece wraps up - majoring on the figures and my terrain

I just had time to fit in a week's holiday in Northumberland before Guy's 1745 terrain had to be done. On the way back I was hosted by the marvelously enthusiastic Colin Ashton and his local mates in Middlesborough. They were trying out the rules "Soldiers of Napoleon" and allowed me a part on the Allied flank in a Revolutionary period game for the few hours I could spare. It was a great privilege to visit "The Burrow" again, and this time to chat over a convivial lunch to Colin's usual gaming buddies too. Please see Colin's blog for a full write up and some wonderful pictures.  I hope he won't mind me ripping off one which is of me just at the start of my small role as a Russian in a marginal French victory over Russians and British in the Low Countries in 1799.

No photos by me as there seems to be a strange fog in my camera that day making for poor pictures

Then just two weeks to turn Waterloo into December 1745 Althorp Estate in Northamptonshire. I've only just finished the full three part blog on that one here 

Very little time to recover as a week later I was enjoying attending The Cotswold Wargaming Day and , among other things participating in one of JP's General D'Armee Napoleonics; this time with Russians and Prussians in 1813.


The Autumn seemed a packed schedule compared to my normal as a couple of week's later Richard had organised a 15mm Napoleonic game at Paul D's wargames room in Cheltenham. This was my first trip back to join the Greatfield group in a game since before lockdown. Richard uses mainly Essex Miniatures and "Age of Eagles" rules to stage grand scale battles with one base of figures being about 350 men. I was on the French side and we had three corps to defend a line of fortified hills near the River Nivelle in late 1813, with the aim of stopping the British, Spanish and Portuguese allies' advance into France. Just a few pics to give a flavour.

Paul's terrain set up is very versatile and Richard has to bring his armies from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, so it's an early morning drive for him and a set-up job from scratch for all of us to join in with for the start around 1030ish. (French left, Allies right)

By about 4.30pm it had become clear that two of the French corps were collapsing (not mine Guv!)

It proved a resounding Allied victory and I think Richard was pleased that the scenario had worked and got a result in good time. Thank you Richard. For me it reminded me there are a lot of good things about Age of Eagles, not least because it's a brigade scale unit game like I want to make myself, and this game came at a useful time for me.


Current Project: Napoleon's War with Austria 1809 in 15/18mm

I said  quite a lot about  this already so in this final item I just need to say I have not found time to paint much but have been concentrating on getting all my second hand painted  purchases organised and rebased where necessary and gradually painting or flocking bases to get some kind of sympathy with my normal tabletop ground colour. Better yet I've invested in a lot of 2mm MDF bases and topped them with ferrous paper. That can be spray and brush painted and it does not affect its ability to attract magnetic paper.  So it's been a big job but I'm nearly there with the so-far painted figures putting each base on magnetic paper. That gives me, with the MDF bases, an infinite variety of options for unit sizes and formations. I'm aiming for something which will allow compatibility with my buddies Richard N and Paul B who are already into 15/18mm Austrians and French, but we do not all quite share the same vision of how we want to wargame this campaign. My aims for the immediate future:

  • Paint up a few more units needed to balance the available forces
  • Hopefully Santa will bring me some Germanic 3D printed buildings for Christmas to make up and paint.
  • Finalise a written set of rules which will hopefully enable refights at 1:50 and upwards while giving a good flavour for the varied formations and broken/steep terrain in Bavaria and Austria
  • Get a few Napoleonic-specialist mates on board to help me test them here in Oakridge
So for you, dear readers, here are a few shots of the armies assembling  (not a game) on my reworked- for-Spring-in-Central-Europe ex Waterloo/Althorp terrain (yes I am mad - at recycling!)

Four views over the Austrian army

This one includes a newly acquired 3D printed 1:144 scale windmill (yes I know 15mm is 1:100) from highlands3dprintsuk

French Cuirassiers and Chasseurs à Cheval

French infantry, I bought some based in 4s not 3s/6s but I'm using rules to accommodate diversity

I just got my smallest footprint card buildings out of the box for this but I have downloaded loads of German card models to rebuild Bavaria! The spruce trees are very nice 3D printed models recently purchased from Serious-Play

It just remains to say a heartfelt thank you to the many wargamers who have touched my life in some way during 2022. I'm a very lucky man, and I hope many of you will continue to visit this blog and some to attend games in my den. Very Best Wishes for 2023


*("Hey, you w**k*r! What are you lookin' at? Never seen a naked Hussarette before? Get Lost!!!")