Colonies to Commonwealth

I have been fortunate to recently add two new books to my collection. One I have sought for some time, while the other was a serendipitous find. Both books address my interest in Australian military history, and Tasmanian military history in particular. The first book, “Australian Military Uniforms 1800 – 1982” by Monty Wedd, I was able to purchase for $15.00 on EBay. Although second hand, the book is in reasonable condition (They normally sell for considerably more). The book was published in 1982 and features some 40 colour plates and many black and white illustrations by Monty Wedd. It details the various uniforms worn by the Australian military forces of the individual colonies and then the Commonwealth until the mid-seventies. I am very pleased to be able to add it to my bookshelves as it is a rare gem for anyone interested in Australian military history.

Australian Military Uniforms

The second book I was fortunate to pick up at a local book shop is “Preserving Our Proud Heritage The Customs and Traditions of the Australian Army” by L.I. Terrett and S.C. Taubert. The book was only published in November last year and is a very weighty and comprehensive tome detailing every aspect of the Australian Army through the customs and traditions it has developed and  maintained since its formation from the colonial defence forces in 1901. The book also includes a CD of the regimental marches and bugle calls of the Australian Army. I was able to pick up my copy of this brand new book for $15.00 due to it missing its dust jacket and having a very slight bump to the spine.   The recommended retail price is about $60.00 so I found a true bargain on a book that is surely  a must have for anyone interested in the history and traditions of the Australian Army.

Australian Army Heritage

Catastrophic failure and a disaster averted.

My darling wife and I were sitting quietly in the lounge room at home on Monday when there came a loud creaking sound from one of the other rooms. This was followed by an even louder cracking sound. We went to investigate the cause of the noise and found my painting cabinet listing heavily with some of the curios stored in it already strewn across the floor. With catastrophic structural failure imminent, my wife braced the cabinet while I raced to recover everything out of it.

I should explain that the cabinet was huge and featured a slide out desk top and drawer, many cubby holes and shelves for storage, and inbuilt lighting. It stood about four foot high and five foot wide, with a two and half foot depth. It was a massive cabinet that also acted as storage for miniatures and rules. The miniatures were of course saved first and no casualties were suffered. Paints, tools and rules were rescued next, along with various ornaments.

With the potential disaster of broken miniatures and paint everywhere averted, the cabinet  finally collapsed. A quick examination of the carcass revealed a major internal structural weakness that led to the catastrophic failure. So as I cleaned up the after the titanic disaster I could only think where am I going to put everything?

Dark Age Lion Rampant AAR

A recently discovered and translated lost excerpt from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles”…

“In the year 843 the Danes came into the land of Wessex and ravaged all about them. They were led by Jarl Ivar “The Legless”, a great warrior besotted with mead and gold. The heathen men came seeking the golden hoard lost to their number last Summer. Eorl Wulfstan “the Red” went out with all the men of his household and lands seeking to bring the Danes to battle and seize the treasure for himself. Wulfstan’s host met in battle with the heathen men outside the ruined old city, even as the Danes found and took the hoard for themselves.

As the two hosts met, Wulfstan challenged Ivar to single combat and then Ivar slew Wulfstan with three mighty blows. The Saxons did not falter at the loss of their lord but set upon Ivar and his huscarls. Spears were shattered, shields broken and helmets cleft as the loyal thegns battled the Danes. Three times they attacked the Danes and three times they were thrown back. Then another force of Danes came upon Wulfstan’s loyal hearth men and slew them. The Danes, having the power of the field, then drew off taking with them the gold. The Saxons mourned the loss of their lord as the ravens feasted upon the fallen.”

I played my first game of “Lion Rampant” New Year’s Day when John came over with his large army of beautifully painted Saxons. My own force was made up of un-refurbished second hand Vikings. The game was based on a treasure hunt scenario, with both sides attempting to discover the hidden treasure and then exit off their table edge with it. The armies were worth twenty four points each. The Saxon army comprised three units of upper class spears and two units of foot companions, while the Viking army consisted of four units of foot companions.

The field of battle

The battlefield viewed from the Viking side.

The first few turns saw both armies advance towards the terrain features designated as potential hiding places for the lost treasure. The Saxons reached the wood at the left of battlefield but their search (a die roll) failed to discover the treasure. The Vikings searched the hill opposite the woods but also failed to find anything. Wulfstan’s unit then reached the hill near the centre of battlefield but the treasure wasn’t there either. Ivar’s unit searched the orchard but found no treasure and then failed their activation for turn four leaving the Vikings unable to move. This gave the Saxons time to move into striking distance of them.

Vikings reach the orchard

Both sides search for the treasure hoard.

In turn five the Vikings reached the triumphal arch and made a successful die roll and discovered the hidden treasure hoard. With the Saxons now in striking distance, Wulfstan issued a challenge to Ivar to meet in single combat. Ivar killed Wulfstan in single combat forcing the Saxons to take a courage (morale) test. Only one unit of Saxon spears failed and were forced to retreat a short distance before rallying the following turn.

Wulfstan slain and the Saxons repulsed

The treasure is found and Wulfstan is slain.

The Vikings failed their activation in turn six and Ivar’s personal guard were immediately attacked by the nearest unit of Saxon spears. These were driven off with both sides taking a single casualty each. Turn seven saw Wulfstan’s own guard attack Ivar’s unit but they were were also driven back after taking a casualty. The Saxon spears then attacked again and were repulsed again, taking yet another casualty. Ivar’s own companions also took another casualty.

Ivar and his personal guard repulse the Saxons.jpg

Ivar and his companions repulse the Saxons.

In turn eight a Viking flanking force of foot companions, having gone around the orchard, launched an attack on Wulfstan’s body guards and slew one of them. Ivar and the remaining companions were able to begin their withdrawal, taking the treasure with them. A third Viking unit quickly occupied Ivar’s previous position to act as covering force. In turn nine the Saxon spears were now threatened by the fresh Viking unit and formed a shield wall in response. Wulfstan’s companions were then broken by a renewed attack from the Viking flanking force.

The Saxons form a shieldwall

The Saxon spears form a shieldwall as the last man of Wulfstan’s body guard flees.

Over the remaining few turns Ivar and his companions were able to leave the field of battle with the treasure hoard. The Viking force enjoyed the spoils of victory while the Saxons could only mourn their dead.

Ivar escapes with the treasure

Ivar escapes with the treasure.

Lion Rampant rules provide an entertaining game that moves fairly fast and comes to a definite conclusion. They allowed two armies of differing sizes and compositions to do battle on an even footing. Lion Rampant successfully imparts a sense of warfare in the early medieval period in an enjoyable way and I look forward to playing them again.

Games Galore

It seems that game shops in northwest Tasmania are like buses, none for years and then two come along at once. Two dedicated game shops opened in Burnie recently and I was able to visit them with my gorgeous wife just before Christmas. The first shop we visited was called Games on Board. We perused the many games on display that ranged from role playing games to board and miniatures based games. Tables were set out at the back of the shop for gaming and visitors could also try out some of the available games. We had a cordial chat to the owner and made a couple of purchases. The second shop is Mind Games and it offered more standard board games and puzzles that also appealed. Sadly we were unable to buy anything there as we had already spent our spare cash. However we did go back to Games on Board after Christmas and made a further purchase.

While I mostly play historical wargames my interests run to a wide variety of games and it is really great to see two game shops open in the region. While games can be easily browsed and purchased online it isn’t as satisfying an experience as going into a shop and seeing the games on the shelves like so much candy. Internet shopping can’t match the pleasure of picking up a game, handling and examining it before making your choice. There is also the advantage of being able to talk to the friendly shop staff about the qualities of each potential purchase. I wish both shops all the best.

My lovely lady wife and I purchased three games in the end. We bought “Cthulhu Fluxx”, “Firefly Shiny Dice” and “Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition”. “Cthulhu Fluxx” is a card game and “Firefly Shiny Dice” is, unsurprisingly, a dice based game. “Descent: Journeys in the Dark” is a fantasy miniatures board game reminiscent of “Dungeons & Dragons”. Of the three games, I have only had time to play “Firefly Shiny Dice” with my family. It proved to be a quick enjoyable game that captured the character of the Firefly television series and Serenity movie. “Firefly Shiny Dice” is not the only gaming I have done recently in the Firefly universe. My wonderful wife and I have just started playing the “Firefly Role Playing Game” with friends.

 

Firefly RPG and Cthulhu Fluxx

 

Descent

 
On a completely different note I was given a box of the old Airfix 1/72 WWI German Infantry for Christmas. It may prove to be the start of another new period. However, I think it will be a long while before I accrue enough painted figures to have a wargame using the Machine Age rules from One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas.

 

Airfix WW1 Germans

A Bridge so Far!

Yuletide greetings! In my previous post I mentioned that I had completed some small terrain features. These consist of a bridge and hedges that were unearthed during a reshuffle of my wargaming stuff.

Bridge

The first piece is the Italeri Stone Bridge kit that I was given as a gift a few years ago. The kit went together easily and paints up quite well. The model is 1/72 scale but it will, I think, work with figures from 15mm to 40mm. So far the bridge is free standing but at some time in the distant future I intend to place it on a scenic base.

Hedge

The hedges, bought many years ago likewise emerged from the reshuffle. They are simply attached to MDF bases that I cut out and flocked. There were also some virtually complete anti-tank defences but due to an unfortunate accident I’ve had to set them aside for repairs.

 

Veteran Imperial Guard Voltigeurs

It has been a while since the last update to this blog but I haven’t been entirely idle in that time. Since my last post I have completed a unit of second generation Miniature Figurines Imperial Guard voltigeurs. They were bought second hand some time ago and required a few physical repairs before being repainted.

Young Guard Voltigeurs

Young Guard Voltigeurs Command
I have also been working on building the old Airfix 1:76 Bren Gun Carrier and 6pdr Anti-Tank Gun plastic kit (no pictures as yet). This is almost complete and it only remains for me to apply the decals and then a coat of matte varnish when I get around to it. I have further completed some small terrain features and have been doing a bit of home casting but all that will feature in another post.

Ancient and Medieval Wargaming AAR

A few weeks ago a mighty battle was fought between the army of the failing Roman Empire and Saxon raiders bent on plunder and conquest. The armies were paper soldiers printed out from the Junior General website and the rules used were from the book “Ancient and Medieval Wargaming” by Neil Thomas. I acquired the book in 2008 and produced the paper armies to use with it at about the same time. I then played an enjoyable game using the rules and the paper flats back in the same year. Sadly they did not see any further use until recently. Indeed they would still be unused if it were not for a WWII miniatures game that did not eventuate. My opponent for the day was an all-round splendid fellow called Craig.

The Roman army consisted of a unit of horse archers, a unit of heavy cavalry, and two units of auxiliaries, one unit of militia and one unit of legionaries, along with a unit of regular infantry archers. The Saxon host was made up of one unit of mounted nobles (a little anachronistic but necessary to make up the Saxon army strength), one unit of noble infantry, four units of spears and one of bow armed light infantry.

The armies deployed.

The Roman and Saxon armies deployed.

The battle opened with both sides conducting a general advance. The Roman heavy cavalry, with support from the horse archers, raced ahead from their position on the Roman left to try and catch the small force forming the Saxon right before it reached the relative safety of a minor hill to the front of their starting position. The mounted Saxon nobles moved off from their position on the Saxon left and rode hard to intercept the Roman cavalry.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry charge towards each other.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry charge towards each other.

The Saxon right reached the hill and the light infantry archers let loose on the Roman cavalry which then veered off to engage the oncoming Saxon nobles. The Roman horse archers turned about and rode back around to the rear of the advancing auxiliaries to provide support. As the two lines moved gradually to contact, the cavalry clashed in the centre.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry melee while the opposing armies advance.

The Roman and Saxon cavalry melee while the opposing armies advance.

At this point we had a break and partook in a splendid lunch of cheese and nachos with salsa and sour cream. This was followed by whiskey wings and washed down with cider. Having been suitably fortified we returned to the fray.

Both of the opposing cavalry units took heavy casualties in the melee and from supporting bow fire. The Saxon nobles broke first and were removed from the field. However the victorious but much depleted Roman cavalry were in turn broken by the arrows loosed by the Saxon bowmen upon the hill.

The Saxon war bands moved quickly to join up with the right of their line and then, with the threat of cavalry gone, they continued their advance. The entire Roman line kept up their own advance. The auxiliaries, supported by the horse archers, headed for the middle of the Saxon line where a second war band of Saxon nobles stood. The Roman legionaries on the far right of the Roman line endeavoured to out flank the left of the Saxon line, while the regular archers tried to whittle down the Saxons with continuous archery.

The Romans attack, with the auxiliaries leading the way.

The Romans attack, with the auxiliaries leading the way.

The Saxons formed a shield wall just before the Roman auxiliaries hit them. The auxiliaries with their furious onslaught did some damage initially but could not break through the shield wall. The flanking manoeuvre of the Roman legionaries was halted by a Saxon war band that had turned to meet them, resulting in a fierce melee as each tried to eliminate the other. The Roman militia bravely went forward to support the auxiliaries in their attack.

The Saxon shield wall holds firm against the Roman onslaught.

The Saxon shield wall holds firm against the Roman onslaught.

The battle hung in the balance for some time as neither side could gain any real advantage. Then the legionaries engaged against the war band protecting the Saxon left flank broke and were eliminated. The auxiliaries unable to make any further impression on the Saxon shield wall were slowly ground down and eliminated after the unengaged right of the shield wall wheeled into them. The victorious Saxon right then launched themselves on the flank of the Roman horse archers that had been supporting the auxiliaries. The horse archers having ventured too close to the Saxon battle line were quickly slaughtered and eliminated, and with their loss the last Roman units broke and fled the field.

The last stand of the Roman army and the final moment of the battle.

The last stand of the Roman army and the final moment of the battle.

The “Ancient and Medieval Wargaming” rules proved easy to grasp and provided a reasonably fast and historical game. The paper flats definitely have an aesthetic appeal of their own (in addition to a pecuniary one). It all made for a very enjoyable game with congenial company, and that is of course the ultimate goal of battle games for pleasure.

Viking Books

I am currently reading a couple of new books on those marauding seafarers the Vikings. The first I bought from a second hand bookseller online. This book is a near mint hard back edition of “The Vikings Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder” by Mark Harrison, Keith Durham, Ian Heath and René Chartrand (Osprey, 2006). It is lavishly illustrated, including many plates by Angus McBride, and combines material from the previously published Osprey books “The Vikings” (Elite 3), “Viking Hersir 793-1066 A.D.” (Warrior 3), and “Viking Longship” (New Vanguard 47). Consequently the book provides a very good outline of Viking history, weapons and warfare. However, the section on the dreaded longships is interesting but a bit overly technical for non-seafaring types such as me. Overall it is a fascinating read and a very useful edition to have on the bookshelf.

The Vikings Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder

The Vikings Voyagers of Discovery and Plunder

The second book was a somewhat serendipitous find on the sale table of a local newsagent. “Vikings a History of the Norse People” by Martin J. Dougherty (Amber, 2013) is another good but basic overview of Viking culture, history and warfare. This book features a surprising amount on weapons and fighting techniques and is also extravagantly illustrated (although some of the plates are a little archaic and anachronistic). Both books are a pleasure to read and are packed full of useful information on the Viking World.

Vikings a History of the Norse People

Vikings a History of the Norse People

One Hour Wargames Double Feature AAR

I have previously reviewed on this blog “One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space” by Neil Thomas. Last week I was at last able put some of the rules and a couple of scenarios from the book to the test with my friend John of Jacksarge’s Wargames Ramblings. Our field of battle was a round dining table just under four feet in diameter and covered with a green blanket and terrain features. We played two games; one late morning and one in the early afternoon. I photographed both games, although some the pictures are a bit blurry they do show the general course of the battles quite well.

WW2 Game
Our first action of the day was fought using the World War 2 rules and scenario 14 from “One Hour Wargames”. The premise of the scenario is the static defence of two terrain features; one a hill and the other a town. The defenders had to remain in control of both for fifteen turns, with two units always within 12” of each of the features. Both sides consisted of six units of 1/72 tanks, support weapons and infantry. The resulting game was an all-out firefight that ended by about turn 8. John had the British force while I had the Germans.

At the start of the game the British occupied the ruined town with one infantry unit, with support provided by the nearby mortar and AT gun. One infantry squad held the woods in the centre of the table, while another was held in reserve near the hill at the back of the battlefield. A Cromwell Mk IV held the hill.

Turn one after the Germans have deployed.

Turn one after the Germans have deployed.

First turn of the WW2 game saw the Germans deploy onto the table and immediately come under heavy fire from the already deployed British. Turn two saw a general German advance with one infantry unit attacking the British occupied town, while the other two attacked the defended woods. The two stugs moved forward to engage the lone Cromwell.

Turn two and the Germans attack.

Turn two and the Germans attack.

By turn four the British had eliminated one of the attacking German squads. One German unit had entered the ruined town and attacked the British unit entrenched there. A second unit entered the wooded area and took on the British there. The two German Stugs had moved forward and engaged the Cromwell on the hill top doing significant damage but failing to destroy it. One Stug was destroyed by return fire from the Cromwell and the rapidly redeployed AT gun.

Turn four and the German attackbegins to falter.

Turn four and the German attack begins to falter.

By turn six the second Stug had fallen prey to the combined fire power of the Cromwell and AT gun and the German squad fighting in the town had been destroyed. Turn eight saw the last German infantry squad eliminated and a British victory.

Turn six and the German attack is stopped.

Turn six and the German attack is stopped.

Turn eight and British victory!

Turn eight and British victory!

Napoleonic Game
After a quick change of scenery we played the second game using the horse and musket rules found in the book. We used the army generator also found in the book to create both forces of six units each of 15mm Napoleonics. This game, scenario 9, was a double delaying action based on the Battle of Wavre. John’s British had the difficult task of remaining in control of the town while withdrawing 3 units. A unit had to be withdrawn of the table by the 4th, 8th and 12th turns respectively. The French were tasked with delaying the withdrawal or seizing the town. This game was hard fought and ran almost the full 15 turns, with final victory for the British resting on the success of one last volley.

The British began the game already deployed with one unit of skirmishers and one unit of infantry in the town. A second unit of skirmishers occupied the woods further up the river, overlooking a ford. Support was provided by another infantry unit near the ford. A gun battery was placed on the hill to the rear of the British deployment zone and a further infantry unit straddled the road to the rear of the town.

Turn one British positions.

Turn one British positions.

During turn one the French arrived on the battlefield and immediately advanced three units of infantry towards the town. An artillery battery held the French centre while a unit of French cavalry and a unit of infantry advanced towards the ford. The British responded by opening fire with the artillery and the units deployed in the town and further up the river.

Turn three saw the French flanking force reach the ford, putting the cavalry within striking distance of the British infantry situated there. The British infantry unit reacted by forming square. The British defending the town kept up the exchange of volleys with French infantry endeavouring to assault the town.

Turn three and the French reach the ford.

Turn three and the French reach the ford.

The fourth turn saw one of the French units involved in the attempt to take the town destroyed. One of the other remaining French infantry units was sent to support the more successful advance of the flanking force. The British infantry in square was also eliminated by the fire from the French flanking force and the artillery battery. The British infantry on the road withdrew off the table in accordance with the scenario requirements. The French cavalry, after crossing the ford, kept up their advance towards the British artillery on the hill.

During turn five the British skirmishers in the wood retired towards the hill at their rear. The French cavalry charged the British gun battery, while the rest of the flanking force followed on. The town remained hotly contested. Over the next couple of turns the French cavalry repeatedly charged the British artillery and were repulsed. The British skirmishers continued their withdrawal to the hill.

Turn five and the French Cavalry charge!

Turn five and the French cavalry charge!

The British battery withdrew off the table during turn seven and was replaced on the hill top by the skirmishers. These were also able to beat off a further attack by the French cavalry before continuing their own withdrawal off the table. The British skirmishers in the town succumbed to French artillery fire, leaving only one British infantry unit holding on.

Turn seven and the French flanking force breaks through.

Turn seven and the French flanking force breaks through.

The French infantry unit attacking the town from across the river was eliminated by turn eight. With turn nine the French cavalry left the table in pursuit of the escaped British, while the remaining French flanking forces and the artillery turned their attention to capturing the town. Despite being out numbered the British stoutly defended the town and inflicted punishing casualties on the attacking French during turns ten and eleven. The French artillery limbered up during turn ten and forded the river.

Turn nine the French attack the town.

Turn nine the French attack the town.

Turn twelve saw the intense fight for the town continue with one of the remaining French infantry units being eliminated. The limbered French artillery kept up their advance. By turn thirteen the last British unit was only three points away from its break point of fifteen. However they managed to survive the French fusillade and in return delivered a devastating volley that destroyed the last French infantry unit. So with the French no longer able to seize the town, the British were victorious.

Turn thirteen and the British die hards are victorious!

Turn thirteen and the British die hards are victorious!

My Further thoughts on “One Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space” (see my earlier review).

“One Hour Wargames” proved great fun. The rules, although simple and relatively abstract, do manage to convey some sense of playing a particular period while delivering a fast paced game. The scenarios provide some depth to the games and present real challenges to the players. “One Hour Wargames” are a very practical solution for those wanting to play an engaging wargame to a conclusion, while having a good laugh. “One Hour Wargames can also be a useful “toolbox” for those wanting to produce more detailed but still (hopefully) fast play variant rules such as those currently to be found on the Ancient & Medieval Wargaming Yahoo Group which is the discussion group for all of Neil Thomas’s rules and books.

Napoleonics “Flagged and Flocked”

Some photos of napoleonic miniatures that I have recently completed painting or refurbishing and that have received new flags and basing (Flagged and Flocked). Most of the miniatures are second-hand and veterans of other armies but have now found a home in mine. All of the figures have had either some retouching or total repainting before being varnished and rebased. However a few of the miniatures are brand new and have of course been painted from scratch. These were to fill out otherwise incomplete units. I take great pleasure in buying old and second hand miniatures and giving them a new lease of wargaming life. They represent not only the armies of their period of history but also part of the history of wargaming.

The first photos are of brigaded French line grenadiers in bearskins. The fanion should not have an eagle but I am loath to remove figures that already possess one. So I will pretend that their colonel had deep pockets and provided them with a non-regulation one.

Line Grenadiers 1Line Grenadiers 2

The next images are of Westphalian Guard Jagers, these received very little retouching before being revarnished and based.

Westphalian Gd Jagers 1Westphalian Gd Jagers 2

The third group of photos are of the completed Joseph Napoleon Regiment that I have previously shown on this blog as a work in progress. The miniatures are total repaints and the flag pole is a replacement made of brass wire. The original eagle came broken and I used it to provide one for some dragoons.

Joseph Nap Regt 1Joseph Nap Regt 2Joseph Nap Regt 3

The fourth set of images is of some French light infantry.

French LI 1French LI 2

The fifth and final lot of photos is of French dragoons that I bought from Italy off Ebay. The eagle is the replacement made from brass wire topped by the broken eagle from the figures that became the Joseph Napoleon Regiment.

French Draggoons 1French Dragoons 3French Dragoons 2