Sunday 31 May 2020

First game of Liber Militum Tercios

This afternoon saw our first game of Liber Militum Tercios using the English Civil War armies in my last blog post. Brendan took the Parliament forces and I had the Royalist army.

There are 6 points-based pickup-game-style scenarios in the main rule book and 6 more in the "Kingdoms" expansion. We chose to play the first scenario from the main rule book which is a standard face-to-face battle.

Objectives would be kill points with the C-in-C worth 3 points, Pike and Shot units 2 points and Artillery and Horse units 1 point each. On turn 5 and beyond there would be comparisons of these points for each side with the game ending in victory for a sliding scale of points advantage. The end of turn 8 always would finish the game, whether victory for one side or a draw. This is simpler than it sounds and really works. I was very impressed with this mechanic!

Anyway, being a fairly standard face-to-face battle we had some initial terrain to set up and then deployed our troops along our deployment zones.

The Royalist lines

The Parliament lines

Whole battlefield
The first couple of turns were the usual jockeying for position that goes on in most wargames. I sent my cavalry wide down my right flank and advanced along the front. Brendan took the village with one of his pike and shot blocks and advanced between there and the wood on his right. The field and village would be key to this battle.

At this point some fairly ineffective musket fire began. Each side trying to soften up the opponent. 

Brendan did charge his cavalry home against a pike block, but bounced and left his cavalry open to a further charge by one of my Royalist cavalry units. This did not go well for either of us, though it was my cavalry that had to retreat.

In the next turn he ran his cavalry to the rear for safety only to find my other cavalry unit waiting for them. 

The musketry fire continued in the centre as the infantry tried to soften each other up and some of the units started to look not as fresh as they had done.

I charged my cavalry home behind his lines and failed to destroy them again, they just ran away again. Was anything going to rout in this game?

Then in the following turn my cavalry realised they were round the back of one of the pike and shot blocks. One that had been successfully softened up by muskets. They charged home and forced it to retreat, but there wasn't room (more on that later) and the unit was destroyed.

This had left one of my pike and shot units stuck out in the middle and the Parliament unit in the village spotted it had an open flank and charged it. Several rounds of "Bad War" ensued, with multiple drawn pike combats resulting in more and more pike combats. Eventually with Wear stacked up on both sides Brendan beat me and my unit was destroyed. His didn't look too healthy though and wasn't going to last much longer. 

His cavalry under heavy Wear decided foolishly to attack my cavalry and lost, finally being destroyed, but in the following turn I had to run my cavalry away to ensure I'd not lose them as well to the artillery.

This final 8th turn had his weary pike and shot unit attacking again this time against my unit in the field with help with his other still fresh unit. between them they destroyed it, but I destroyed the first of those units with the remaining one of mine.

It was carnage in those last few turns, absolute carnage.

This is the final state of the battlefield...

I had lost two pike and shot units, as had Brendan, but he'd also lost his cavalry unit. This gave me a one point advantage and got me a very, very minor victory.

We had a only a couple of issues with the rules. The main one with the retreating and disengaging rules, which it says "is an involuntary move toward the rear of the unit". We couldn't decide whether this meant exactly in a straight line to the rear or whether a pivot or slide to avoid obstructions like friendly troops would be allowed. We allowed the pivot the first time, but on the second it seemed a bit daft so said we'd rule it had to be direct from then on. Obstructions only block if the centre-point would pass through them anyway, so perhaps not an issue. I'd be interested what other players rule for this. 

(Edit: Looking again at the rulebook the "Overlaps and Angle Correction" rule might make this work more fairly)

(Edit again: I found a fan version of the game in Spanish here. This adds in the word "directly" to the retreat and disengage rules which makes the answer clear, no pivot or slide. It also extends the Angle Correction on Overlaps rule to allow sliding to the side, which makes things fairer. I will definitely be using both of these changes)

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the game. It flowed nicely with the alternating actions and the wide flanking movements of the cavalry. The command system worked well with once out of command and damaged orders not be a sure thing at all. We didn't use the Command Traits and Virtues in this game, but will do in future ones.

We're looking forward to trying out more units and some more of the many pick-up game scenarios that are in the books. Maybe also building towards a historical scenario at some point as well. I have quite a few of those from other rule systems that would convert well.

I'm also in the process of making movement trays for the troops. I'm pleased I based them up on smaller bases as it gives me more flexibility with rules systems, but formation changes don't happen in these rules. Movement trays will make the game less fiddly but more importantly will protect the pikes!

Normally I'd get them made from MDF by one of the commercial enterprises, but with the lock-down still in effect I know they will be slow with orders and probably a bit unenthusiastic about a custom one at that. However I am stuck at home, still working, though I do have a bit of time on my hands.

This happy coincidence has finally given me the reason to purchase my first 3D printer! Yikes! It should be with me in a couple of weeks!

Friday 29 May 2020

ECW Armies Ready for their First Battle

I've just completed my favourite model for my 6mm ECW armies. It's King Charles I himself. A converted general miniature with hat removed, long hair added and even a little beard. All set off with the royal standard.

This came just after completing the Royalist Cavalry.

Which means I now have two 600 point forces ready for our first game of Liber Militum : Tercios on Sunday. Measuring sticks are made, order tokens created, quick reference sheets prepared. We're ready to go and I'm really looking forward to trying this game out.

Here is the Royalist force...

... and here is the Parliament force...

Monday 25 May 2020

Making Tufts

I've been so busy my stock of self adhesive static grass tufts has run out!

I make these in large batches so that I have enough to last several months. This time I thought I'd take some photos and post a blog entry to record how I do it.

The main tool is a Flock Box. The version I have is I believe the first version ever produced and I've had it for about 6 years now. There are other better versions by several manufacturers now but the one I have seems to work fine so I've stuck with it.

This old version is battery powered and has a lipped tray on top. The newer ones are mains powered, but I've found no real issue with the battery I have in mine. The lipped tray is not so good and is best fixed to be like the newer versions by laying a flat piece of steel on top.

The next thing you need is the right glue. The stuff needed is "carpet tackifier", but that comes in huge tubs which cost quite a bit. Luckily WWS sell it in smaller containers on eBay and their site as "Static Grass Tuft Glue". I've had a small tube for the 6 years I've been using this and have only just ordered a new tube of glue.

This glue is dotted onto silicone Greaseproof/Baking paper fastened to another small piece of steel with rare earth magnets.

The terminal on the Flockbox is then attached and the plate waved over the static grass, which jumps across to stick in the glue.

After a while there is enough static grass on the paper and the rare earth magnets can be slid off and the tufts left to dry.

I keep going at this until I have quite a good stock of tufts which will last me several months.

You'll note that I've only worked with 2mm Spring mix static grass. I have tried making my own longer tufts and flowers, but I've not managed to get them as good as the commercial ones that are available. I still buy those from Tajima1.

These 2mm tufts are used on all my bases, no matter the scale: 6mm through to 28mm. They can just be peeled off the paper with tweezers and placed on the bases where I want. They can be re-positioned as needed and are fairly easy to remove from old bases as well. 

No messy loose static grass gets anywhere near my minis. You can even cut them into smaller pieces with scissors whilst they're still on the backing sheet.

Doing this really has increased both the quality of my bases and my rate of production of minis.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

English Civil War - Parliamentary "Starter Army"

Having added some Artillery and command bases to my ongoing ECW work I have a small 500 point Parliamentary force ready for battle using the Liber Militum:Tercios rules.

It consists of an Foot Regiment of two Pike and Shot units (red); and a Horse Regiment with a single Horse unit and a Commanded Shot unit (green). In support there is a single light artillery piece. This should give, I think, a good balanced force for a trial game.

In the English Civil War Regiments were often signified by single coloured flags (for the Colonel) with the Cross of St George added, in canton, for the Lieutenant Colonel and then a varying number of devices added for lower ranked commanders. I've used this structure a little with my unit markers. The regiments in the army will be of a single colour with the main commander of the regiment with the Colonel's standard and then units marked with the others as I see fit, though not necessarily following the rank system.

Of course this system was not followed exactly and I'll probably make up other systems as I go. Luckily there's not too much detail for the armies and it is possible to make things up as you go.

In the end I will probably have a lot more of these small 15mm x 20mm unit marker bases then I actually have units. I'll be able to reorganise the troops a fair amount. 

As you can see in the first photo I have taken the pikes out of one of my units to make the Commanded Shot. The ability to do this is my main reason for basing pike and shot separately. Though also formation changes are possible, but not needed for the Tercios rules.

My commander is loosely based on Sir Thomas Fairfax the commander of the Parliament forces at Naseby. 

The mounted standard bearers are some of my first 6mm conversions. The banner poles added with brass wire and the flags made of paper. I'm rather pleased how they've come out.

I wanted to add an army standard, but could not find one for the Army. The Royalists will get one however! 

I've already started painting the pike and shot for the Royalist army. Then when that's done I'll have to get a trial game played!

Edit... OMG, I missed out the Artillery!

I didn't just paint that one gun, but five in total. 3 are usable as medium guns and two as light guns. I've used slightly smaller 25mm x 25mm bases for these. I painted them with grey gun carriages for use with the New Model Army. I'll be painting the next batch with much more brightly coloured gun carriages.

Sunday 17 May 2020

English Civil War - Parliamentary Cavalry

So, with 1813 on hold awaiting minis it's on with the English Civil War.

I've just completed a unit of Parliamentary Cavalry.

I considered for quite a while whether to do a single rank or double-up for these. Whether to spread the minis more conservatively over the bases to make more units. In the end the desire to make impressive forces won over and I've gone for 2 ranks per unit with a separate command base. This should definitely give a better impression of mass units and I'm really happy I decided to go the slower and more expensive way. I have enough packs of Parliamentary Cavalry to make 3 more of these and a load more for the Royalists...

Last week I did also manage to get two more Pike and Shot units done, but not command for them. With the addition of some artillery and command for all these I will have a 500 point small starting force to try out Liber Militum : Tercios. Of course I do also need to paint some Royalists as well!

1813 Hesse-Darmstadt Chevau-légers

I've run out of minis for my 1813 armies!

The last thing I've been able to paint is a unit of Hesse-Darmstadt Chevau-légers for XII Corps. The only unit I can paint for XII Corps! I used the Bavarian Cavalry models since they have the right style of helmet.

Never fear, an order has been put into Heroics and Ros for reinforcements, it'll be a few weeks before I get them.

In the meantime my English Civil War armies will get some work done on them.

Sunday 10 May 2020

An 1813 Scharnhorst Game

With much of my 1813 re-organisation done. I thought it a plan to get a game of Blücher in with my son. He took the Russo-Prussian force commanded by Blücher himself and I took the French Army of the Main commanded by Marshal Soult.

At the start of the game there were a lot of Prussians on the table, not so many French though!

After the Scharnhost phase Brendan looked to be in a very good position. Though I had more victory points on the map he had declared a battle with all his troops off the board and most of mine as reserves. However looking at it we realised he had to hold both objectives on the board to win, whereas I would just have to take one of them.

At the top of the table in the photo is my single on table column, facing off against all three Prussian Corps. The Russians have been left as garrison duty in the town.

With such an overwhelming advantage initially Brendan's best hope might be to deal me a swift and decisive blow before my reinforcements arrived. So he attacked... My French line looked very, very thin.

Luckily though they held in time for my reinforcements to arrive and that thin line became really quite thick.

But undeterred Brendan attacked all along the line.

My troops held, they took losses, but they held!

Meanwhile over by the town at the other end of the table my second reinforcement column arrived.

They attacked the Russian troops garrisoning the town and unbelievably two units of Marie-Louises pushed the Russians out! The Russians counter-attacked and pushed the Marie-Louises out... and then the French counter-counter-attacked... and on and on... every turn the town changed hands.

Eventually the Russians had a real foot-hold and the French forces were almost spent, but then the other French column arrived and continued the assault. The Russian cavalry tried to hold them out of the town, but they couldn't stop the French continuing their frantic battle.

The fight for the town continues.
Meanwhile on the other flank, the Prussian assault finally stalled and started to fall-back. Realising that the key to victory was the town I did not follow them and let them go. I could now take the town as I had fresh troops over there and the Russians were almost spent.

The Prussians fall back across the river. The French let them go.
In the end there was nothing the Russians in the town could do, there were too many fresh French units and they were pushed out. They could not hope to re-take it as there were no troops left anywhere near. They were unable to break the French army and so Brendan capitulated as the sun began to set on the battlefield.

Yet another great battle with loads going on.

It was the first time I'd really used attached artillery with my units instead of massed batteries and it does work. The conscript troops, though poor, were more effective than expected. The cavalry in the French force poor to say the least, but it managed. It's quite a different force to play with compared with the early war army. Brendan was using both Blücher and Bülow and so never had to worry about having enough MO pips, even with such a large force. I did struggle sometimes though!

Sunday 3 May 2020

English Civil War in 6mm - the first unit complete

Having loved doing Napoleonics in 6mm I looked around a little while ago for other projects for 6mm. ECW is something I've never really played, but I have always wondered about. I knew very little about the tactics, etc... Actually I pretty much knew nothing and still don't know that much. I'm trying to learn.

Anyway, I decided to start to build both main sides. Luckily with ECW if you build one side you can potentially build both (I know there are more than two), with just a change of flags and in some cases not even that! Or at least that's what I've gathered. Please correct me if I'm wrong! With that in mind I bought quite a few (at lot) of ECW packs from Heroics and Ros and quite a few different rules sets. At the moment Liber Militum Tercios is most interesting to me, with Pike and Shotte coming just after, but I also have Twilight of Divine Right, For King and Parliament and The Pikeman's Lament. (and I just bouth Forlorn Hope as well)

I decided to go with 30mm x 30mm bases with 2 bases of muskets and one of pike making up a standard infantry regiment. Cavalry will go on two. This allows me to play Tercios and also I expect Pike and Shotte.

I've had the first regiment of infantry sat on my bench for a month or so whilst I've been painting my 1813 stuff and decided on Friday that now was the time to get it done. I've gone for the common and classic red and have used Citadel contrast paints for the very first time (just for the red). The uniforms don't have so many colours as Naploenics so I thought the shading would be necessary.

I'm rather pleased with how they have come out...

The idea is that the bases could be used in a variety of ways, not always together, so that units of just pike or just shot could be built as required. The command base is separate and all flags on that. I bought loads of extra command strips from H&R to make a lot of variation possible.

The blank section on the command base will be where I put details of the unit. Nothing as yet as I'm still not sure what to put, or actually which rules to use.

The 3 bases mean that I can do formation changes if needed without too much hassle.

Back to painting Napoleonic French for now... more ECW will follow later.

Edit: After a comment on Facebook that the command should be at the front, I made a change. The only reason I had the command at the back was because of the "huge" flat markings area. I decided I didn't need that. I have cut that down so the command base is 15mm x 20mm rather than 20mm x 20mm. There is still room for a really small identifying mark and maybe something could be written under the command base if necessary.