Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Massena's Gold: A Black Powder AAR

Hello everyone!

We played my first game of Black Powder last night, and what a game it was! The game ended with an overwhelming victory for the French, and I left the table with some valuable lessons about the Black Powder ruleset; namely that I still don't  have them down 100%. Anyway, on to the report (remember to click on the pictures for bigger versions.)


Late Summer, 1810, on the Spanish-Portuguese border...

The French army in the Peninsula under Marshal Andre Massena is forcing the British army under the Duke of Wellington to retreat as the French make their way towards Portugal. To many in Britain, the situation in Portugal seems hopeless, though Wellington has secretly been establishing massive defensive works around Lisbon to repel the invaders: the Lines of Torres Vedras. Meanwhile, Marshal Massena has dispatched a large escort to protect the payroll for his army as it makes its way through Spain. With Spanish guerillas plauging the French, such a tempting target as a wagon-load of gold was deemed to be worth protecting by a sizeable force: two small brigades. But guerillas aren't the only threats to the convoy; building massive earthworks is expensive, and a French payroll wagon would go a long way towards funding Torres Vedras. So a combined Anglo-Spanish force, also consisting of two small brigades, was dispatched to intercept the gold on behalf of the British.

The French objective was to move the wagon loaded with the payroll from their table edge to the far table edge within ten turns. The Allied objective was to stop them in ten turns, whereupon British reenforcements would arrive and surround and capture the French and their gold.

The table from the French side, with the stream to the front and the village beyond.

The table from the Allied side, showing the village, the roads, the woods and the stream with the old Roman bridge in the center and the ford to the right.

The initial deployments. The Allies could deploy up to the village, while the French could deploy along their own table edge. The French amassed most of their troops to their own right, with the artillery to the left, while the British brigade massed to their right as well and the Spanish held the center, near the village.
Turn 1

The Anglo-Spanish team won the initiative and began to advance. The British brigade pushed quickly towards the ford, with the 5/60th Rifles leading the way for the 45th Foot on the right. while the 74th Highlanders and the brigade commander pushed up the road towards the bridge.

I commanded the Spanish brigade, and on my first command roll I rolled double sixes--a blunder!

The Allied situation at the end of turn one. As a result of my blunder, instead of moving to occupy the village, the Regimento del Rey moved in march column up the road and halted, cooling their heels along the road outside the village, while my artillery battery moved into the middle of a field and just stood there, limbered, with my brigade commander. With the Spanish brigade's low staff rating, this is where my men remained for most of the game.

The French move. The first French brigade, consisting of the 3e Hussars, a battery of Foot Artillery and the gold-laden wagon, opted to move only their artillery forward up the left, skirting the treeline, while keeping the cavalry with the wagon. The infantry brigade, consisting of the 8e and 19e Ligne, pushed boldy forward, the 8e forming line at the foot of the bridge while the 19e pushed across the stream in attack column.

Turn 2

The British brigade starts turn two by pushing towards the stream. The 45th and 74th spread out in attack column as the Rifles push across the ford and into the trees on the far side.

The poor quality Spanish brigade commander fails his command roll and sits tight--no doubt hoping the Brits will bear the brunt of the actual fighting while he takes a siesta!

On the French left the Foot battery deploys on the stream bank, pointing a gun at the Rifles in the trees while directing the rest of the battery towards the advancing British brigade.

To the right, the hussars cross the stream in force, while the wagon is pushed up the center, protected by the 8e. The infantry begin to take pot shots at the advancing British.

Turn 3

The 4th Foot and the 74th Highlanders deploy into a long line stretching from the ford to the wood on the left. Meanwhile, the Rifles in the woods are feeling their oats and decide to charge the deployed Foot battery! The Spaniards are content to do nothing once again.

The brave men of the 5/60th rush in...

...and are completely decimated by close-range French canister. "A whiff of grapeshot" indeeed.

Turn 4

The British sit tight and exchange musket fire with the French across the stream. The Spanish fail to act in any way as the 19e Ligne charges the 74th Highlanders in the center.
On the British right well-aimed artillery fire from the Foot battery causes the 45th to retire one move in disorder. The British brigade commander is successful in rallying them, however. In the center the 19e and the 74th are locked in vicious hand-to-hand combat.

The resulting melee spells the end of both the 19e and the 74th, who destroy one another at bayonet point. The survivors of both units flee the battlefield.

Exploiting the gap in the line, the 3e Hussars charge around the woods, aiming for the Regimento del Rey, which has been sunning itself in march column outside the village.

Caught completely unawares, the flashing sabers of the hussars cut into the Spanish infantry. Those that aren't killed in the melee are routed off the board. The disciplined 3e Hussars remain in good order and look for new targets.

Turn 5

Under constant barrage from the Foot battery across the stream and with the French cavalry close, the British 45th Foot are compelled to retreat towards the village as they form square.

No doubt shocked at the savagery with which his infantry were destroyed at the hands of the Hussars, the Spanish brigade commander manages to order his artillery battery to deploy, firing into the cavalry's flank.

The hussars change direction and charge the guns. Though the Spanish unleash a load of canister on the horsemen, causing a casualty, the cavalry slam home unfazed.

The 45th fail another morale test and are compelled to retire one more move to the rear. Though amassing high casualties, the 45th stubbornly refuses to quit the field.

Turn 6

The Spanish artillerymen, facing an entire French cavalry regiment, don't stand a chance, and are destroyed in the melee. The Spanish briagde commander rides as hards and as fast as he can towards Lisbon, the Don undoubtedly wishing he had been given a more relaxing post as part of Wellington's staff.

The artillery defeated, the hussars attempt to break the British square. Though close to decimation, the plucky lads manage to repell the French charge while inflicting a few casualties of their own.
In the center, the 8e forms march column and crosses the old Roman bridge to support the cavalry while the Foot battery continues to pound away at the British square. Things are not looking good for the British...

...as the 45th crumbles away under the combined French onslaught. The British brigade commander can do little but offer the commander of the hussars his sword and hope his French counterpart is a gentleman.

Turn 7

With the British and Spanish brigades routed, the French push their wagon across the Roman bridge towards the village.

Turn 8

With the broken remanats of the British and Spanish fleeing west as fast as they can towards Portugal, on turn eight the French were able to get the wagon-load of gold to the far end of the table, securing their overwhelming victory.
The French destroyed or routed the entire Anglo-Spanish force and managed to get the gold to safety in eight turns, at the cost of a single infantry battalion. The British brigade commander was captured by the French while the Spanish commander got away; the Don will most likely try to convince all who will listen to him that his brigade bore the brunt of the fighting, defeated three French regiments single-handedly, and that the position of the slothful British, whose laziness caused his defeat, is untenable in Portugal. The French managed to escort Massena's gold to safety, while the British will have to find other means to fund the Lines of Torres Vedras.


The game was played on a three foot by five and a half foot table with four players, each with a small brigade. The game lasted about three and a half hours.

Lessons learned: Mainly, I don't yet know the rules well enough to play or act as an effective umpire. I know that I did the hand to hand combat incorrectly, and the morale tests I'm 9/10 sure I completely bungled. I purposefully kept the special rules to a minimum because I was playing with my family (who played to humor me more than for a love of wargaming), and as such I was playing pretty fast and loose with the rules. The game played okay though, and we all had a big time, which is really all that matters. This wasn't a historical simulation, after all.

Coming soon: I'll start work on the 1/88th now, and maybe the Pavlovsk grenadiers. And maybe the Iron Duke himself; I just got my Christmas present to myself in the mail today, a box of AB figures from EurekaUSA, including Wellington. We'll see.

Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated. Thanks for looking!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Old Roman Bridge

Hello everyone!

I finished up the Roman bridge that I needed for this week's game, and now that I have all the trees that I need I'm all set. There are a lot of old Roman bridges in Spain, and a lot of good pictures of them on the Internet for inspiration. Here's a little step-by-step tutorial of how I made my bridge; I think it turned out well. (Remember to click on the pictures for bigger versions.)

The bridge's base is a 6 inch by 3 inch chunk of corrugated cardboard. The structure of the bridge is made up of pieces of foamcore supporting a halved lengths of toilet paper tube. The road bed is a long strip of posterboard held in place with hot glue.

The sides were then glued in place. These are foamcore as well. The wood strips between the arches are for decorative purposes. The gaps between the roadbed and the sides was filled with hot glue. At this time I also built up the "banks" of the stream with blobs of hot glue.

A picture for scale. The road be is approximately 5 cm wide, which is perfect for infantry stands like these French grenadiers, but the bridge is just too narrow for 5 cm wide stands for cavalry. This isn't ideal, but it is what it is and I can't change it now.

The painting begins. I started with a coat of light gray paint on the entire bridge.I used a cheap craft acrylic called "Country Grey."

With a darker grey ("Pewter Grey") I picked out the stones. I only concentrated on the most prominent: the stones lining the arches, the stones "supporting" the arches, the stones on top of the bridge sides and the roadbed. I painted these rather wide, The roadbed pattern was made purposefully random.

The widem dark grey lines were then gone over again with a narrow pass of black to pick out the "cracks" between the stones, leaving the dark grey showing on either side of the line. This step gives the stones a three dimentional look.

I then painted the base. The water is a color called "Pool Blue" with some white highlights, while the banks are painted in two coats of brown.

The completed bridge. After painting the banks were flocked to blend in with the other terrain.
Coming soon: Really all I have left to do is brush up on the Black Powder rules and I'll be ready for the game tomorrow. I'm rather excited for my first game played with my own Napoleonics on my own terrain! It will probably be Tuesday before I can get the game report up on the blog, so stay tuned.

Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated. Thanks for looking!


Friday, December 26, 2014

The Regimento de Infanteria de Linea de Espana del Rey, and Christmas

Hello everyone!

I hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas. I know I sure did... I ate way too much, but it's a good thing to spend time with the family. Anyways, I managed to finish up the Regimento del Rey today, and I took some pictures.

(Remember to click on the pictures for bigger versions.)

The four stands I finished up today.

The Regimento del Rey drawn up into line.

El Regimento de Infanteria de Linea de Espana del Rey, or "The King of Spain's Line Infantry Regiment." Under the 1808 regulations, Spain's infantry regiments were named, not numbered.
These guys are a combination of the AWI figures I bought over a year ago, the AWI figures in the lot I bought last week, and some converted Heritage French as the Granaderos. These gentlemen are wearing the white 1806 uniform faced in purple with purple collars, cuffs and turnback piping, with high black gaiters and bicornes. Due to the somewhat haphazard nature of these figures' origins, they have a bunch of different equipment sculpted on them, which isn't nescessarily a bad thing. The Spanish Army during the first few years of the Peninsular War was woefully ill-equipped and put into service equipment from mny nations, both ally and enemy alike; I've tried to reflect a mixture of French and British equipment into the mix, namely British canteens and French packs, where appropriate. Most of the figures just have a cartridge pouch and a musket and bayonet, which I would say most Spanish soldiers would be lucky to have if they had that. I've painted the Regimento del Rey in full dress uniforms; after the uprising in Madrid on May 2, 1808 I would doubt if the Regiment would ever again look this good.

Fusilier and Grenadier of the Regimento del Rey in the 1806 uniform.
This is also the last unit I needed to paint for the game that I want to play next week. All I really need to do is to finish up some small terrain items and I'll be ready.

And now, some of the Christmas presents I recieved that may be of interest to my fellow wargamers:

A new organizer box for my Napoleonic figures; the old one is in the background, and was full (note the figures sitting on top of the box). This box can hold up to eighteen units. Also note the labels.

Another, different box. It has the large drawers in the bottom for units, and a bunch of small boxes in the top. These small boxes will organize my spare figures.

Adrian Goldsworthy's newest Napoleonic fiction Novel Run Them Ashore. I already own the first four in the series and am looking forward to reading this one. Mr. Goldsworthy's novels are quite good, and different from book series such as Sharpe and Aubrey/Maturin. You can check his site out for more information.

Some new brushes, which I needed badly. The ones I got for Christmas last year were wearing out.

All in all a pretty good Christmas, and these are just the Napoleonic items. With me joining the Navy I also recieved a bunch of books on the U.S. and Confederate Navies during the American Civil War, which are pretty cool. I don't think I'll have enough time to read them all before I report in February, though...

Coming soon: I'll probably finish up the terrain I need for next week's game first; all I need to do is to base p the trees from the Toob I got at Hobby Lobby, and make a Roman bridge. I'll throw myself upon the 1/88th after the terrain is done.

Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated. Thanks for looking!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

200 Years...

Hello everyone!

Today marks a historic occasion, and while I don't have any new figures painted and ready to display, I couldn't let the 200th Anniversary of the Treaty of Ghent come and go without mention. While most Napoleonics buffs are geeking out about the 200th Anniversary of Waterloo come June of next year(and rightfully so), as an American I didn't think it was right for this date to pass without giving a little bit of recognition to our own little sideline of the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812.

The Signing of the Treaty of Ghent
On December 24, 1814 the War of 1812 officially ended when the United States and Great Britain signed a peace treaty in the Flemish city of Ghent. I say "officially" because, due to the fact that word of the peace could only travel across the Atlantic as fast as the fastest sailing ship, hostilities weren't over on the North American continent: the Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8th, 1815, and it is considered to be one of the greatest battles of the war, ironically fought after it officially ended.

Coming soon: I'm almost done with the Regimento del Rey, and I'll post some pictures when they're done.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Portuguese Infantry

Hello everyone!

I finished up that stand of Portuguese infantry that's been sitting on my painting desk for over a year now (remember to click on the pictures for bigger versions).

These are all Minifigs British in belgic shako, but they're painted up in the old uniforms of the Portuguese Army wearing the barretina shako.

Coming soon: Well, I started looking at all of my painted figures and I've decided that I have almost enough to have a game. For the scenario I have in mind, I need to have a regiment of Spanish Infantry, so I pushed back the 1/88th Foot and brought the Regimento del Rey up to the front of the queue to be painted.

Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated. Thanks for looking!