Monday, 12 August 2019

Custom board for The Battle of Vyazma 1812 - Part 3

This afternoon I applied the static grass and some other scatter.

I'd covered the roads, rivers and sides with Vallejo Liquid Mask. This seemed to work pretty well and peeled off without too many touch-ups required. I used the War World Scenics static grass applicator with "Spring" and "Farm Field C" 2mm grass mixes. Also some fine turf and clump foliage from Woodland Scenics. All applied with WWS Static Grass Basing Glue and Layering Spray.

I am now waiting for it to dry and considering what to use to seal it all down as I think it will shed a lot at the moment.

Showing the peeling off of the Liquid Mask.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Custom board for The Battle of Vyazma 1812 - Part 2

I've now finished applying the paint to the board.

The base coat was Bitter Chocolate masonry paint. The roads were then painted on with Vallejo Beasty Brown and afterwards the whole thing dry brushed in the same colour. After that further dry-brushes were applied: 50/50 Beasty Brown & Pale Sand; followed by Pale Sand on it's own. The roads got an extra dry brush of Pale Sand to bring them out further. This colour scheme is exactly the same as I use on almost all my miniature bases, so everything should match in well.

The river started with a coat of Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue, highlighted with Medium Blue and then the same with a Light Sea Grey mixed in. I know river's don't tend to look so blue, but I prefer it... I've tried muddy brown and I think it looks too dull for a wargames table in the smaller scales.

The inner edge of the board was then painted with Light Sea Grey.

Next will be the application of static grass. I'll use my War World Scenics Pro Micro Static Grass Applicator. I want to go for a blend of grass, with different shades mixed in, rather like my boards. With those it was done with a layering spray of PVA, but I'm not sure how that is going to work when there are bits of the board I really, really don't want static grass on... I will have to have a think before starting.

Anyway, some photos...

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Custom board for The Battle of Vyazma 1812 - Part 1

I've been wanting to try my hand at a custom board for a battle since starting with 6mm scale Napoleonics. In the last post I posted photos of the start of my solution to this, pasting tables with the hinges moved and legs taken off.

I was intending to do the Maloyaroslavets battle, but this has proven to be limited in tactical options and manoeuvre and the more I read about it it became clear that the battle was much more skirmish in size despite the large forces available, being based solely around the town, bridge and church.

I'd been introduced by my friend Gerald to the amazing reference book "The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book : Actions and Losses in Personnel, Colours, Standards and Artillery 1792-1815" by Digby Smith. This massive tome has details and orders of battle of 2000 land and sea engagements through the entire Napoleonic period.

I devoured this with relish and found the battle of Vyazma (also Wiazma and several other spellings). There was quite a bit online about this battle, but I wanted more. So got hold of a book references from a scenario I found for the battle. "Napoleon's Invasion of Russia" by George Nafzinger. I'd already got one of his books about 1813 and so looked forward to an equal level of detail. Unfortunately he doesn't give that much about the battle Vyazma, though there is a little more detail. However I do really recommend the book, his account persuaded me finally against doing the Maloyaroslavets battle. That one would be far better re-fought using a much lower level game than Blücher.

The Battle of Vyazma was fought as the French column retreated down the road from Moscow to Smolensk. It was a few days before the heavy snow started and Davout's rear-guard corps had become slightly separated from the rest of the force. Miloradovich decided that it was a good time to sweep in and destroy this significant part of Napoleon's retreating army. What resulted was a complex rear-guard action as Davout tried to rejoin the main force and the other tail corps of the force tried to assist in his movements. All this harried by Cossacks and Miloradovich's several corps and heavy artillery superiority. Quite an interesting tactical challenge for both sides.

I spent quite a while studying the OOBs of both sides and came up with a scenario. The first try of that was last Monday and it showed me clearly that this was a much more interesting battle. I also tried out the new counters and ammo trackers I've made for the Russians. They worked well and I'll have to make some for the French as well.

Eugene comes under fire from Miloradovich's artillery as he retreats down the road to Vyazma, with Davout coming around the wood to top of the picture harried by Cossacks 

So next I needed to start on the board. To spur me on I set myself a target and booked a game with Ed for the beginning of September.

The board was marked out and polystyrene cut and glued in place. Undulations were added by use of a heat gun. The centre wood strip being chiselled and sanded down.

Then once glued I've been adding some filler. First some lightweight filler to fill in the large bits, a quick sand, and finally a skim over with more traditional filler to smooth it out. (both from Screwfix).

Next step is paint, a basecoat then paint on where the roads and rivers will go.... after that onto flocking.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Various experiments in 6mm... Terrain and Tokens

As my all my 6mm Napoleonic armies have progressed well up towards my target of 400 points I've started to look towards developing them for a display game.

The first stage was to investigate into a possible historical battle to refight. Maloyaroslavets is lookin good as it ticks the boxes as being French vs Russian in 1812 with manageable sized forces and a good back story. I'm open to other suggestions though if anyone has any and I'll be researching more myself as well.

Next I want to make it look good. The cards in Blücher always seem to detract from the look of the battle, so if I can find a way to do without them all the better. Hidden movement doesn't seem very important in the Maloyaroslavets battle, so that leaves tracking damage and artillery ammo, as well  as prepared markers. I've started some experiments with the first two.

For damage markers I've decided the way to go is with casualty markers.  The normal maximum Elan is around 6, with a few at 7. So I can assume 5 damage markers per infantry base is plenty. I've decided to group these so that there are large damage markers worth 3 points and smalls worth 1. The large ones will therefore have three "dead" models on them and the small ones just a single model. These models can be taken from miscast and spare models I have.

For the large tokens I've taken 20mm diameter MDF bases and cut them in half. These can then be put up next to the units they are assigned to. Having them like this should mean it is difficult to confuse which unit they are for. For the smaller single tokens I'll do the same with 15mm diameter MDF bases. Unfortunately these have not arrived yet.

For ammunition markers for the artillery I considered many options: dice, tokens, etc... Because of the way artillery ammo reduces in an non-linear way in Blücher things are made more complex. In the end I've decided to make some limber bases with dials built in. The dials are attached with rare-earth magnets and glued in holes in the bases that come from Warbases. I have hand-painted the numbers needed on them. I put a layer of Sellotape over the numbers to stop them rubbing off. Doing this also means I'll have limber bases ready for other systems that may need them.

I also have been thinking about the boards and terrain. I want to build something special for the game with fixed terrain that can be detailed. I found mention of using pasting tables as a basis for this and had some in the garage I could use. However they were a bit flimsy with the boards themselves only made from 3mm hardboard. Looking around I found some nicer ones from Screwfix made from 5mm MDF and also a bit longer. These look like they'll work well as they have 30mm high sides and so can take 25mm thick polystyrene nicely. I have moved the hinges around and fitted the polystyrene.  Once I have finalised the battle I want to do I can start cutting the terrain shapes.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

6mm Napoleonic Armies on Parade

I've been quiet as regards photos of my new minis recently. I've been too busy painting!

Anyway I decided that it was time to rectify that and also time to get out all my 6mm Napoleonics and see what I've got.

Since December 2018 I've built up sizeable French, British and Russian forces for use with Blücher.

From front to back: French, Russian, British.

The most recent additions are the Italian Infantry for use with the French at Maroyaroslavets. These should also be usable in quite a few other battles. There are 2 line infantry regiments, 1 legere and 1 guard.

French, showing Italians in the foreground

Before that I have been adding to my Russians: Militia, Grenadiers, Cossacks, Hussars and lots of artillery.

Finally a close-up of my British, though I've not worked on those for a while. I really need to increase the numbers of Portuguese.

All these troops are of course from Heroics and Ros.

I have a lot more to paint yet and a whole Prussian army on order. :)

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Maloyaroslavets - Blücher- First Attempt

Last night we had our first attempt at fighting a historical battle using Blücher.

We chose the battle of Maloyaroslavets, 24th October 1812. As Napoleon begins his retreat from Moscow, Dokhturov blocks his crossing of the river Lutza and forces Napoleon to take the same road back as he had advanced in on.

I have most of the troops needed for this and had to proxy in just the Italians and Saxon troops. I have the Italian infantry on the painting table right now and hope to have those done for the next time we try it out.

The game worked well with a victory to the Russians. I'm not sure what tweaks to make yet, but have another fight of this scenario booked for Sunday.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Blücher Frequently Forgotten or Misunderstood Rules

After quite a few plays of Blücher I've made quite a few mistakes with the rules. When I have identified one of these I've written it down. I have now got quite a list and thought I'd share that list.

  1. -1 in melee if attacking up-hill
  2. Infantry shooting artillery or cavalry does not receive the firepower or skirmish trait bonuses.
  3. More than one hit on an artillery unit in shooting causes it to retire, not break
  4. A unit whose path of retreat would take it even partially off the enemy’s table edge, is broken. If its path of retreat takes it off a friendly or neutral table edge, it retires.
  5. The retreat path must be the shortest legal path to reach the closest legal place where it can end. You may not artificially extend the length of a retreat move to your advantage.
  6. Always roll at least one dice in combat.
  7. Must charge "greatest threat"
  8. Difficult Move. Pivot only once, but either at beginning or end of move. However the actual move is done in any direction! So it's almost like pivoting twice!
  9. Charges are limited to a 45 degrees pivot at the start of the move. This has more effect on limiting what you can charge than you'd think. Check it!
  10. Simple move can pivot to any direction at the start of the move, not just 45 degrees. 
  11. Scharnhost - first day 3 movement points
  12. Can move and charge through friends not in contact with enemy. Remember though that charging units do have to have line of sight to the enemy they are charging.
  13. Can sit on friend until end of activation of force
  14. In Melee defender takes damage first and if destroyed attacker only takes 1 damage even if they lost the combat. This means no need to roll any dice if you attack a unit on 1 elan. They just are destroyed and the attacker takes 1 damage independent of the dice rolled. Note this is quite different if the defender is artillery.
  15. Shooting hits are resolved after all shooting is completed. Hence concealed targets are only revealed at the end of shooting and destroyed units remain on table until shooting is finished, still potentially blocking line of sight.
  16. (Extra) There's no initial pivot when retreating. The retreating unit slides in a straight line away from the enemy unit(s). Then, if passive, turns 180 degrees about it's centre point.

See here for some more Blücher mistakes...