Monday, January 3, 2011

Diary of General Ramble

General de Brigade Barbanegre

First of all I feel that I ought to apologise for not having posted much in 2010. Health-wise is has not been a brilliant year, it being hard to focus on my gaming or, indeed, finding joy in it. Depression takes you that way sometimes...

That said we did do some interesting games in 2010, such as Heilsberg, Auerstadt and Bussaco, although I was not personally enthralled with any of them.

Heilsberg, though I was keen on us fighting such an unknown battle, saw me doing very little of interest. I did have the chance to interact and mentor some of the younger players, which I enjoy as well as being very important in terms of growing a second generation. But the French did not attack and all my wing did was stand there.

Towarczy in line
Auerstadt was different in that I was in command and playing Brunswick. I had not been keen on playing this game at all as it seemed ludicrously one-sided historically and to make it even was to indulge in some sort of fantasy: if you want fantasy go buy some elves. In order to make it even the umps decided to include Bernadotte's corps and two Dragoon divisions, along with hemming the Prussians in with C2 rules. The result was that the Prussians lost all their advantages but had a whole host of disadvantages. I tried to make it interesting by retiring to a separate room and commanding by map and courier, only moving on to the table after lunch. This, at least, made it a good experiment.

Prussians in square at Auerstadt

Bussaco I was umpiring, again in a quiet sector of the line. The British commander seemed indifferent to the game and seemed more motivated trying to sell off some figures to the other players. The Brits only sprang to life when he left early and the driving seat was occupied by Chaim Ben-Zion (our very own Moshe Dyan), but it was too late to move troops about to stem the French breakthroughs.

Legere Officer

Games 2011

Legere in column

Hopefully 2011 will be better. The first game on the calendar is to be Hohenlinden. This was going to be in December 2010 but bad weather (very historical) saw it moved into January 2011. As it is an Austrian army I am down to command it. This battle seems based on a late 18th century military handbook with several concentric columns moving independently towards an objective. Unfortunately the columns are moving through a huge snow-encrusted wood with heavy freezing fog and snowstorms in the morning. This makes it almost impossible to co-ordinate the columns, and in game terms once the commanders are issued their orders they plunge into the woods and the army commander trusts it all to fate. It should certainly prove to be interesting.

Prussian Fusiliers, 2nd Westpreuss Regiment

Bautzen also appears on the dance card. Now why start with the second major 1813 battle as opposed to doing Lutzen is a question I have not yet asked, but I am keen not to over complicate matters. I have drawn the role of Blucher (the greatest living German TM) which is a personality so totally at odds with my own I have no idea what to do about it. Peter Burke, now there is a natural Blucher (the greatest living German TM), but not me. This game will also see, hopefully, a new departure. One club member has suggested using a game as a team-building exercise, ideally for a legal company. I suggested Bautzen given the need for the French to co-ordinate their operational moves to trap the allied army against the border of the then neutral Austrian Empire. The idea seems to be to allow the French to be commanded by this team along with a sprinkling of experienced players. The higher you get up the command tree arguably the less you need to know about the nuts and bolts of the rules and the more you use what really amounts to common sense. If it comes off it could be both a good income stream for the club and a source of additional players. What we must ensure is that they feel that they are getting good value for money and have fun.

O'Donel Freicorps

Also on the books are Novi, Fuentes de Onoro and Albuera. I will umpire at the last two as I always umpire in Peninsular games. Novi (I know there are four battles of Novi in 1799, I am assuming this is the one where Suvurov fell asleep) offers me the option of playing one of my Austrian heroes, Paul Kray. Kray had already beaten the French army in Italy at Magnano in 1799 before the overblown Russian general had even arrived. He then went on, alongside Chasteler, to be one of the most successful Austrian figures of the allied war effort in Italy. He was then, of course, a victim of over promotion, being sent to Germany in 1800 to succeed Charles (who had also had a good year) and was defeated by Moreau.  So I will be pitching to play him at Novi.

Painting in 2011

1st Silesian Hussar Regiment

There is a painting plan for 2011. Actually it holds up to better scrutiny as a lot is focussed around Bautzen. I am always far better if I am painting to a fixed event, so bringing forward Bautzen meant bringing forward the Prussians. My intention was that, for 1813, I would provide 2nd Prussian Corps and was looking at 2012 as the year I would do this. Bringing forward Bautzen meant completing the regular elements of the Prussians before March-April. That amounted to 12 battalions of infantry and one regiment each of Dragoons, Hussars and Uhlans. So I have already started and some of the results are below. I still lack standards for these, but I will be poking Graeme Black at GMB for these and more.

2nd Silesian Landwehr Cavalry

But it cannot all be Prussians. I would go mad;  I always try to mix at least two projects at the same time or it can be a bit monotonous. So I have started seriously on my Wurttembergers. I had thought long and hard about which Confederation country to tackle. Hesse-Darmstadt, Baden and Frankfurt all looked too small, unless I combined all three. But there was the issue of well-designed accurate figures for all of them, and they did not seem to exist. North of the Main that left Saxony and Westphalia, but for a start I did not want to do white again and the quality of the infantry put me off. Bavaria? Well, good figures were available from Front Rank, but everyone does Bavarians as in that cornflower blue uniform and raupenhelm they look natty.

Wurttemberg Colonel Prinz Paul Regiment

So I landed on Wurttemberg. Eight decent infantry regiments, not large and with a raupenhelm and nice facings, form the bulk of the army. There are also four good light infantry battalions, two of which are jager, which seem to have done very well in 1809. Four regiments of light cavalry are also nice to have. There are also two horse and up to two 12lb foot batteries, all with Austrian-style guns. That is the stuff that went on campaign. To add to this are the four guard cavalry squadrons, two guard infantry battalions and the Dragoon regiment.

As you can see I have started with the line infantry, as Pete Morbey at Elite has begun designing the range. Pete tells me that he will be adding to the range in 2011 so by the time I have finished the infantry he may have come up with other stuff I can make a start on. Here, again, GMB will be coming up with the flags.

Lets see how long this plan stands up when it gets to contact with the enemy.


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