Monday, June 24, 2019

French and Indian War in 28mm

There is one period that I do that does not fit into my preferred 1\72 (20mm-24mm) scale and that period is the French and Indian War.

Recently, a friend and I restarted an interest we had in the period. The pictures are some of what I've painted thus far. The figures are from Warlord and Dixon.

The pictures are staged. Two bands of French allied Indians rush out of cover to engage a small unit of militia who have just been reinforced by a contingent of Roger's Rangers. The intended rules are Rebels and Patriots.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Damn the Torpedoes!

This is a battle report and picture record is of a simulation of the Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War. It was a solo game played by my friend Jim Z. Jim is an experienced solo gamer and frequent contributor to this blog.

I personally find the concept of solo gaming interesting but have yet to try it. Perhaps soon. Jim's narrative follows:

The Models

USS Hartford  Flagship SOL
USS Ironsides ICSOL
USS Winnebago ICM
USS Milwaukee ICM
USS Passaic ICM

CSS Tennessee CIC

The first image as you scroll down is the Union Fleet entering the bay. 

 The second image is the USS Hartford delivering the fatal broadside to the CSS Tennessee.  The Tennessee was abandoned at that point.  She never struck her colors.

The third image was the highlight of the game.

The Morgan can be seen ramming the port side of the USS New Ironsides.  The USS Genesee in column behind the USS Ironsides could not stop in time or turn away and subsequently collided with the stern of the USS Ironsides.  With all three ships dead in the water the USS Genesee began to sink dragging the CSS Morgan and the USS Ironsides with her. They settled in the bay with masts aloft and decks awash.

The CSS Tennessee is moving away afire, the CSS Morgan is heading for the USS Ironsides trying to cover the Tennessee and the CSS Selma opposite the USS Hartford is about to take a devastating broadside from USS Ironsides that hit her magazine and blew her to flotsam.  The ironclad monitors fired a few rounds but otherwise only needed to "escort" the Tennessee back to port.

The CSS Morgan (not in any images) was hit by the USS Hartford's bow carronade early in the game, was set alight,  steered into the shallows and burned down.

All the Union ships cleared the torpedo field and entered the bay successfully.  The guns of Fort Morgan and the floating battery only managed a few armor strikes on the monitors as they passed.

This was a one hour game and it held my interest throughout.

As the Rebel fleet commander I was handed a defeat by the simple solo system that was required to remain in double line of battle with the flagship leading the attack on the CSS Tennessee.

Certainly the loss of the USS New Ironsides was a setback for the Union but Mobile Bay is now in Federal hands.  The loss of the USS Genesee was acceptable.  The Rebel fleet was destroyed.

The Union fleet enters Mobile Bay.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Feature Figures Jack Scruby 21st Foot AWI

Like many war-gamers in my age group I started out with plastic Airfix figures and Roco Minitanks. It was all we had and for a long time we would be unaware of war-game figures made in metal.

Perhaps the first clue was when we transitioned into Napoleonic games. We became aware of a line of metal figures called Der Kreigspielers. Our plastic Airfix armies quickly became supplemented by the huge variety of nations represented by Der Kreigspielers.

The discovery of metal war game figures led to a search for others through ads found in various magazines of the time. We suddenly became aware of British manufacturers such as Miniature Figurines (known as Minifigs), Hinchcliffe, Lamming, and Garrison (all 25mm). 

At the time there were not many American manufacturers that covered the range of periods that the British covered. One exception was Jack Scruby. His historical lines came in various scales. 

I was a bit of dabbler in the 1970's. In my AWI army I had Airfix plastics, 1st and 2nd generation Minifigs, Hinchcliffe, Garrison (SYW Prussians for Hessians) and one or two units of Jack Scruby's 25mm AWI.

I personally think that Jack's figures were cutting edge in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s. Reading about him much later showed me he was a pioneer in American wargaming. By the 70's  other companies surpassed Scruby in terms of quality and at least matched Scruby in terms of the wide range of periods\figures available.

My Scruby figures slowly lost their luster when placed next to second generation Minifigs and the other "large" British figures. Although I was a dabbler at the time I did not consider myself a collector. What I mean by that is that I never thought of having a collection just to have a collection. Scruby figures and the plastic Airfix soon became obsolete in my mind and were regulated to a box while I chased the newer ever expanding ranges of better quality figures available.

Eventually and sadly I may add, I sold all my collections and withdrew from the hobby for about 25 years. 

During the dark years as I call them I did try to continue to paint. I reverted to plastics (in ancients) and some metal ACW from Musket Miniatures. I even purchased some excellent 28mm figures from Dixon. I was not on fire but there was a spark of desire to paint and maybe war-game again some day

In 2014 things changed. I reconnected with two friends from the old days who were still gaming. in the case of one of them I recalled a conversation we had back in the early 90's shortly before I dropped out.

We discussed how much the plastic figure market had expanded since our Airfix days and how we both had a desire to return to simpler (and less expensive) days. We considered doing the Battle of Waterloo entirely with plastic figures. 

When we reconnected in 2014 it did not take long to resurrect old dreams. The wide range of plastic figures available spurred a lot of interest in a lot of periods and I re-entered the hobby with gusto.

For me, much of the joy was nostalgic. I realized that while I was not a collector per se back in the day I had become one now. Since our scale was 20-24mm plastics I began to fish around for 20-24mm metal figures to supplement my growing collections.

In the process I discovered HistoriFigs. HistoriFigs is Jack Scruby. The company is located in Baraboo, WI, not all that far from where I live. 

To make a long story short I got the itch to do some AWI Scubys. I ordered enough for a couple of units and they arrived in some of the fastest service I've ever received.

I recently finished one of the units. They are painted in what I would call the old minimalist style of toy metal soldiers. What I mean by that is there is little shading. The figures do not lend themselves to that style so I thought to paint them in the old style which meant solid colors with multiple coats\shades to give them a classical toy soldier look. 

Below are the pictures I took featuring my Scruby AWI unit. They are painted as the 21st Foot, a unit that participated in the Saratoga Campaign of 1777. 

I made one concession to what's available now. The flag bearer figure came with a a very thick flag pole and even thicker metal flag. Back in the day you painted your own flags and Jack Scruby apparently wanted to make sure you had a great unfurled thick surface to do your work!

I cut off the pole and flag and drilled a hole for brass. I then ordered flags from a little company in Great Britain called Maverick Models. Maverick will scale his flags to whatever dimension you desire and he is economical. I highly recommend Maverick for flags.

The unit was produced for the  Rebels and Patriots rule set. It is a large unit at 18 figures.

So, here are my Scruby's painted in the old style by an old guy!

I like the classic advancing pose with bayonets out and meaning business!

Yes, that is one grenadier in the rear rank!

The fence is from the Imex sets of accessories.

The cabin on the left is a Pegasus "Russian" hut but with a North American roof. Conversion by my friend Jim.

Simple figures with the old toy soldier look. I love um!

3d printed "cabin" but I like it as chicken coop. The chickens are old Airfix. I managed to get a old box of their farm animals on eBay that were not expensive.

Maverick Model flags for the 21st Foot AWI

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Clear the North Side of the Drift Lads!

This is our latest installment of The Men Who Be Kings (TMWWBK).

The truth is I am always tinkering with the rules-not enough to upset the fine system and mechanics of the rule set, but just enough to make certain aspects a bit more interesting. I never consider the tweaks failures but rather experiments. Some experiments fail while others succeed. Each experiment is a learning experience.

In this case the experiment was adapting a scenario from Neil Thomas's book One-Hour-Wargames. In his book Mr. Thomas covers a wide range of periods with rules for each period. At the end of the book he includes 30 scenarios that can be adapted to any of the periods in the book.

His inspiration comes mostly from Charles Grant and the similar book he wrote many, many years ago. I think it's a wonderful concept especially for those with limited time and space. The scenarios are designed to be played out on a 3 by 3 and no side has more than 6 units-perfect for One-Hour-Wargame.

My table is a 4' by 4' and I do colonial games with TMWWBK for the Sudan and Zulu Wars (so far). Mr. Thomas does not cover the colonial wars in his book presumably because of the technological gap between the protaganists or maybe it just wan't on his radar.

In any event, I decided to adapt one scenario to the colonial period for my 4' by 4' and play it out using  TMWWBK. I reasoned that the game could be a bit larger given the larger table size and if it took longer than an hour to play out I didn't mind. Games with TMWWBK tend to be short and to the point (no pun intended) in the first place.

I did a lot of pre-game dice throwing to determine the force composition of each side as well as the quality of the units. While Mr. Thomas's games are balanced in the sense of the number of units they do vary in terms of quantity and to some extent quality. This creates the situation whereby the game player gets his units in a somewhat random fashion and has to make the best of what he has been assigned. There is much to be said about that!

The British force consisted of 6 units.

2 companies of the 24th Foot
2 companies of the 13th Light Infantry
1 large company of the NNC
1 Royal Artillery 7pdr

The Zulu forces consisted of 9 units and 3 small sub units of fire-armed warriors. The Zulus were divided into three separate forces that had various arrival times. Each force consisted of 3 assegai 16 figure units. The sub-units were diced for and assigned to the larger units in a random way.

The three Zulu unmarried ibutho's were:

iNkobamakosi (The Bender of Kings)
uMbonambi (The Evil Seers)
umHlanga (The Reeds)

The game started with one British unit (of the commander's choice) across the drift. The remaining five units would arrive behind the first unit at the rate of one per turn. The commander had the ability to determine how the rest of the column would arrive.

The river was about 12" from the end of the board while the remaining 36" was the area to be cleared of Zulu's. The Zulu arrival was a bit more random. They had one ibutho arrive on turn one, another on turn 3 and the last one on turn 5.

As stated before the quality of each unit could vary considerably so it took some thought how to best use the units as they arrived.

The terrain set up for my 4 by 4. You're looking north. Where the two wagons are that's where the British force enters. The carpet squares are mealie fields and provide soft cover. The Zulus could enter from 3 of 5 points south of the river. One ibutho would arrive on turn one west alongside the river and close with the lead British unit rather rapidly.

I marked the drift with terrain pieces. It was meant to be a shallow drift. The river could be crossed elsewhere but at a movement penalty.

The British commander and staff surveys the drift. His orders are to clear all Zulus from the south side of the river. He was heard to remark that it should be no problem.

Natal type wagon by Hat. It's a great little model but the soft plastic is hard to work with played in the game.

The Zulu commander wants to know why the British have come to the land of the Zulu. The British commander responds by saying "tough luck old boy, we are here and there is nothing you can do about it." The Zulu commander shrugs and walks away muttering something like, "we will see you arrogant swine."

The first Zulu ibutho to arrive alongside the river. There is only one British unit across at this point. Odds, not good for the Redcoats!

This was to be the second unit across the drift but they had to deploy early to assist the single unit already across. Figures by Hat except for the officer which is Newline Miniatures.

The British unit already across (from the 13th LI) would destroy one unit but lose 1\2 of its strength. The second Zulu unit would polish them off. Good dice throwing helped on the part of the Zulu commander. Fog of war baby!

The 24th Foot arrives and makes a move to cross the drift. The figures are also ESCI now Italeri.

Close up of one of the 13th LI. 

Royal Artillery 7pdr. The crew is Hat but I do not know who made the gun. Great model!

Another ibutho arrives. The figures are Hat and were painted prior to Hat releasing their married set.

This unit of Zulus would be shot to pieces after destroying the remnant of A Company, 13th LI. B Company, 13th LI would have revenge!

Stuck within short range! Not good!

A Company, 24th Foot, will cross the drift being tru to there orders as long as possible. Note the hand painted Queen's Color painted by my friend Jim. (ESCI figs)

The two remaining ibuthos arrive and mass to keep the British on the north side side of the drift. The sheer size of the force is a bit unnerving for the British commander who has already lost 1\4 of his Imperial infantry.

At this point the British still have hopes to cross the drift and sweep the Zulus from the field. The Royal Artillery section did well despite having a poor leader and having to dice to fire. They always did to good effect.

Yes, very intimidating! 

The three remaining companies of Imperial infantry still believe they can cross and win! 

But the odds are long and Zulus can move quickly.

A Company, 24th Foot crosses and defeats the first Zulu unit to come within range. Three cheers!

A plucky British officer use his revolver to stem the Zulu tide.

One the Zulu leaders anxious to close with his unit and wash their spears in British blood.

A Company, 24th Foot has perished. B Company 24th Foot is determined to hold the north side of the drift. However, the NNC is to their flank. Let's hope they hold.

B Company, 13th LI holds the other section of the drift supported by the RA on their right and the NNC unit on their left. Can they hold? The Zulus have to stop at the drift for a turn and it's close range!

The British commander was heard to remark, "how about a little canister in the face."

Lots of Zulus going after the RA and B Company.

The RA is over run and B Company is pushed back. The NNC will attempt to stem the tide but are no match for the imbutho. The British commander concedes and Zululand is safe "for now."

The game was a jolly good time with neither of us all that concerned with the victory conditions. Had the British just held the drift line I would have awarded a tactical victory of sort since it's quite plaisbe that the  Zulus would exceed their orders to merely hold the north side of the river. After all, Rorke's Drift was exactly like that!