Sunday, 23 March 2014

Games from the Low Countries: Baptism of fire

The need for speed (and support)

To make a long story short: a specific characteristic of a boring game is when you need a clean shave, during it. Keeping up the pace comes with knowledge of the rules, even when they're simple and the mechanism makes sense. About Bonaparte is no exception to this rule. That's why a potential new player gathers information and skills before entering a more 'serious' confrontation. This message deals with such 'getting to know each other' games. Franco/Dutch player is Stan (you see him in the last of the pictures). I (being a novice in the rules too) will take the British side on my account.

Setting1809, province of Zeeland in the South-West of the nowadays Netherlands. Mostly large islands in the Kingdom Holland (supervised by King Louis Napoleon). On the 29th of July, an observation post at the coastal region of the isle of Walcheren, reports 104 vessels approaching the Dutch beaches. They' re British. It's the beginning of an attempted invasion. King Louis has been ordered to send large quantities of soldiers on campaign in both Germany and Spain. The Dutch, being on the French side, are underpowered. The Allied forces try their luck. They hope for a quick campaign rolling up both the (harbours) city of Antwerp and Rotterdam. 

I'm still into organising my 54mm figures into coherent groups of armed forces. At this stage: having chosen a subject for a game does (for me) not imply I need to have all the specific figures (if available) or them being all painted in the correct uniforms. It's possible to grab some degrees of less historical accuracy in favour of opportunities and fun. We used Dutch Waterloo Infantry for Kingdom Holland forces, French bicorne figures as their allies. Hat, Italeri, Jean, ACTA, Airfix, Hing Fat and Britains Deetail as available for- or needed by the scenario. 
The game surface is a table tennis table covered with grass mat (Berko) and removable  scenery elements. Ideally I would like a modular gameboard system. What we used here now works okay, too. It's a bit more laborious to set up and get rid off, afterwards. My scenic roads are made of grinded (and dryed) coffee from our coffee machine. I use that as a flocking material on bases and scenery pieces as well. The pebble walls simulate knee high obstacles. Intersecting the landscape and breaking up march movement unless using the roads. Behind and in base contact it gives targets a modification of D-1 as in woods or rough terrain. Cavalry can jump over them unrestrained.

A key event in this game:
French lancer cavalry make their way towards a un deployed unit of two medium cannons. They reach with ease in their charge. A keen light dragoons unit from the opposite side, just fully recovered from their seasickness, read the incident correctly and countercharge without any hesitation. Both sides suffer but the remaining lancers need to turn tail too, two flags! Demoralized by the minor defeat, the French/Dutch player holds his reigns for most of the remaining game.

 Making it possible for the outermost right flank regular line infantry unit to come and try their luck closer to the heart of the action.  

The mere sight of that, pressing the Franco/Dutch defenders more backwards into a small village. The road from the invasion beaches opens up and British runners are send out to call in immediate support. The invaders hope... will come!
This is where we went ahead on the clock, pushing it an imaginary 24 game hours forward.
Leading us into a next (the same afternoon) skirmish for rookies. Illustrating the arrival and possible breakthrough of more redcoats.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Before the battle: the adventure continues ...

If there is a merit that absolutely must be acknowledged to the Web, it is to meet the hopes and dreams of people who perhaps (but I hope not ...) will never meet face to face.
So began this adventure, a request between two enthusiast, one Belgian, one Italian , which was translated (it appropriate to say!) in two volumes,  nothing of deeply cultural but a achievement that rewards a research (mine) and a work that lasted years (the rules of Dirk Donvil).
Avanti per Bonaparte! e Avanti per Cesare!  are a great tribute to the great little plastic figures that have kept us company in our youth and we would like to once again bring ideally life on the battlefields, in line facing the enemy or in superb charges on horseback.

For me, the second part of this adventure begins after the Italian translation of About Bonaparte, with my work  with the colors and uniforms of France and Russia, a clash perhaps never  happened but possible, because many small battles were fought during the campaign of 1812 between the  troops of the two sides.

So, this is the place,a village near Sevardino, where French troops read sighted Russian battalions ready to work around the corps of Napoleon's army.

Column of march to the Russian battalion on the old road.

 A veteran of Replicant, few details but great charisma. A piece that adds personality to the battle in progress.

The Carabineers Hat arrange themselves in skirmish formation.

A battalion of the Guard arrives in reinforcement. Status: veterans.

 Who leads them?
Maybe Cambronne, long before Waterloo.

The officers commanding the battalion of Voltigeurs on the left of the church.

The Russians are about to enter the building, after the battle for the possession of the village will be even harder for the French ...

Phase of fire. The line of skirmishers is ready.

The church is meant to be the heart of the battle.

 The Russian battalions in the field are three. Musketeers of the line. Trained forces, ready to die.

 The French are preparing to break into the church ....

But this is only a simulation of real battle. Once I adjusted the size of the field of battle there will be a effective report ,  for now ...Vive l'Empereur!

Italian versions of our the wargame rules are out : "Avanti per Bonaparte" and "Avanti per Cesare".

first copies

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Halfway completion of 54mm AWI (British) grenadiers conversion.

You can have all kinds of reasons not to stick to the commercially available figures. Here I had an abundant amount of British AWI (Accurate/Revell) drummers in my boxes (don't ask me how I got hold of these) and a total lack of a real grenadier (mitre cap or bearskin) company. A simple headgear swap could do wonders here. Cut away carefully with a handheld razor blade, bearskin cap and tricornes matched the bare heads very well. Drilled and pinned with a small piece of appropriate wire, superglued in place. Small irregularities and spaces are brushed over with almost undiluted white glue. Leave this to dry again.

 Halfway products and raw material shown here. Final figure in the row is the drummer  used to donate his grenadier bearskin cap. In the front an example of an unpainted 'regular'. Originally this charging fusilier wears a tricorne, woolen hat.

This tricorne has moved to the head of a AWI Maryland light infantryman (A call to Arms) shown behind the unpainted figures. These effectively turned into new posed British regulars now. The army men are now painted about 80%. Next step is a tidy up of the off-white leather belting.

Followed by a firm black/brownish all-over wash. To be concluded with a highlighting step where needed.

In the end these are figures to play with (1/32 wargaming: About Bonaparte rule set) and not intended to be prize winners in painting contests.
 Learning from my 'kinsmen' at the Denderleeuw (B) modeling club, I will use similar models for both French adversaries and possible other 'in-the-game-needed' grenadiers alike. This is as long as my stock of the showed drummer figure, lasts. I consider this a creative and both economically attractive activity in the circumsphere of the large scale wargaming hobby. As for the mitre capped grenadier-look. I've discovered that the Replicants Culloden British include extra mitre caps. Every four figures gives two additional headgear for grenadier purposes.

The simple converted regulars look pretty nice in my opinion. They'll make a perfect rearguard line or at the ready unit. Bases are white-glued onto a hardboard moving tray as recommended big the About Bonaparte ruleset. Gravel flocking, painting and static grass finalizes the appearance. No wrapping and mixing in the grass matting  by Berko.

The veterans of the day in -wear and tear- look as I like it. Muddy top to toe and fatigue facial features.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Italian version of our home made rules published!!!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Caliver Books <>
Date: Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 11:00 PM
Subject: Exciting New Stuff from Caliver Books!

Battlefield Buildings 28mm American Colonial Log Cabins and European Field & Siege Fortifications are now available - check out the website for details!

H23035 L&#039;esercito del regno di Napoli (1806-1815) 1)  La fanteria (army of the kingdon of Naples)  / Cristini Italian text, ENglish captions. v well ill inc full  colour plates Ł20.00

H23036 AVANTI PER CESARE  Regolamento veloce per battaglie de epoca antica e medievale  / DONVIL &amp; MANNARI WARGAMES RULES 40mm-54mm and for larger scale 28mm actions ITALIAN  Translation of ABOUT CAEASR Ł16.50

H23037 AVANTI PER BONAPARTE : Regolamento veloce per battaglie  / DONVIL &amp; MANNARI WARGAMES RULES 40mm-54mm and for larger scale 28mm actions ITALIAN  Translation of ABOUT BONAPARTE Ł16.50

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Prelude to Low Countries battlefields in 54mm

Being introduced to the About Bonaparte wargaming rules only late November of the last year, I consider myself still a rookie on the subject. Seeing the PMBD-Mobilisatie YouTube contributions I was hooked. For years I was wandering in war-game rulesets, never finding the spark that could really ignite my enthusiasm and desire for suitable atmosphere in a game setting with 54mm's. The author, Mr. Donvil, of the above mentioned piece of work encouraged me to make the trip to Denderleeuw near Brussels and experience an afternoon of gaming in the more than hospitable Flanders company of gamers. Afterwards I obtained myself a book and the accommodating dice, went home and started some probing games on my own.
Using all kind of (mostly) plastic 1/32 figures that I collected over the last 40 years. Tried to grab some of that boyish sense of adventure that seemed to be lost in time. This is my introduction and first blog message here. Hoping it to be the beginning of a series on tabletop battles from the Low Countries, using the About Bonaparte war-game rules as centerpiece of the action (and allowing some spin-off). Where the competition is covered in genuine fun!

November 1943 Tarawa campaign game

Patrick Van Den Brande and his son Siegfried prepared a Tarawa game, consisting of 2 parts:
First was a hide and seek game. The US fleet had to try to cross the field with as little as possible losses to be able to land in full strenght. If the fleet was spotted early enough, the Japanese would have the possibilty to prepare defenses for the second game part. Ronny as Japanese player, Siegfried and Dirk as US palyers. Patrick was the referee/gamemaster.

The US players had a decoy fleet with a carrier and cruiser to start the game. The carrier could launch 3 wildcats to seek Japanese reconnaissance airplanes. The Japanese had two reconnaissance airplanes and a submarine. The latter could only be spotted by airplanes and ships from 3 squares distance

The game started with the Wildcats going in the air.
Ronny, the Japanese player had placed his plaines and sub on the field. The Aichi were quickly spotted
 However, one spotted the entire fleet, radiod his findings but was shot out of the air by the AA of a cruiser. The second Aishi had the luck to evade by leaving the field.

The sub was spotted by the Wildcats and the cruiser of the decoy fleet attacked.  The sub survived and on his turn sunck the cruiser with torpedoes.

A P38 of the second carrier succesfully bombed the submarine .

 The fleet could go on to Tarawa with no losses to the landing force.

Second part of the game:  First wave closing in.

The jungle with the Japanese waiting

              Close the beaches and comming ashore: no opposition waiting.

                                                The Marines almost on the beach.

And in the jungle. Ronny had dispursed his troops resulting in to limited firepower against the wave of marines.

The marines were closing in on the airfield.

Artillery fire proved to be deadly for the tanks: two Shermans and a Stuart destroyed. But is was only a slowing down of the advance.

Reinforcements in the second and third wave were to much for the Japanese to withstand.