Monday, 23 April 2012

Once Upon a Time in Natal

   Saturday saw a return of the 54mm British/Zulu gaming, which is always fun even though the conclusion is just about a given. Andy has a collection of about 50 British and 100 Zulu warriors. We ended up playing two games with the usual stipulations for this sort of game - Zulu casualties are 'recycled' 20 at a time; British casualties remains casualties; no moral is taken; Iron Ivan's This Very Ground rules are used with some variations.

Here's the set up for the first games: (Photos by Andy, Beth, and me)
Andy, Martin, myself, and Robby about to start.
The British began surrounded in a farmstead of two houses and a barn with a fence around it all. The Zulu iMpi began in 5 different directions, determined randomly. Part of the trouble was the fence butted up against a forest in two places, allowing the Zulus to move to the fence while hidden in the woods. They were over those fences soon and into the British lines. (Some of the Zulus carried rifles but never seemed to use them.) It was messy and quick. In the end, the British casualties were recycled into a relief column that didn't reach the compound in time.

A view of the barn, the fence, and the British stabby-troops at exercise
Beth positioned the man in the barn door - "I'll be in here if you need me!"

The Zulus
Another view of the table at the start, with the British marshaling.

Defenders defending

... and attackers attacking. This is one of the places where the forest came right up
to the fence line.
 The second game changed things out a bit. The forests were removed, the high grass was cut back, the barn was replaced with a blockhouse, the houses were put touching, and the Zulus all assaulted from one side - sort of a "horns of the buffalo" thing. It was still quick and dirty.
These red coats didn't last all that long once it got to hand to hand.
For some reason, the rifle fire was wretched.

The troops defend the door of the blockhouse. There were two sections in the blockhouse
to start with and an third (or what was left of it) made it in as well.
Strangely, all were named Davis, Jones, or Williams.
There were two officers - Lt. Gaylord Smithe-Harrumph and Lt. Napoleon IV;
I'm not sure who is in command of this detachment.

Andy's Zulus -two sections- head for the door of the blockhouse while my one
section heads for the open fire, which I intended to throw into the wooden blockhouse,
but fire from the upper floor prevented it.

This isn't a roofing party but a cheap way of showing that the troops are in the house
without ripping off the roof.

Here you can see the new fences, the hasty barricades, and a section of the defenders.

Andy's scratch-built blockhouse full on.

"There sure are a lot of 'em!"
The games were quick and entertaining. Among our rules variations, we made the rifle ranges the entire table - probably a bit unrealistic, but it made the game simpler. Smokeless powder as well and no reloading times as you would have for muskets. I'm sure if we had a Gatling Gun or some sort of artillery, things might go differently.

I'm not sure what's going on next week at the library; I'm tied up anyway. And... reenacting season is coming up.

Monday, 9 April 2012

A brief 1812 Interlude

   Both Robby and I had the day off, so we did a quick game in the front room. It was a War of 1812 skirmish using Iron Ivan's This Very Ground. Robby set the table, I won the initiative and made him deploy first, but he got choice of side. He had a unit of British Regulars, a unit of rifle-armed Glengarry Light Infantry (an upgrade of sorts since they actually carried smooth-bore muskets) and a warband of Native warriors.
I had a section of US Regulars, a section of US regular Rifles, and a section of State Militia. The game took an interesting twist.
    I had the initiative and moved first.

My summer uniformed Regulars road marched to the bridge in quick time.

My Rifles moved up to the stream facing the Natives.
The State Militia takes casualties from the British Rifles. They got shook up
very early on and failed morale shortly after the photo was taken.
The Greencoated Rifles advance in loose order as the Militia falters.

The British Regulars shake out into a double line to volly with my advancing
The US Rifles drew first blood on the Native Warriors who wisely took to the woods.
As I crossed the stream and climbed the hill, the warriors attacked with hatchet and knife!

One volley each and the Crown forces charged! I had volleyed so my unit was unloaded.
It was cold steel all the way.

The British Sargeant's eye-view of the advancing US Reguars just before the
British charged. Only the US officer, ensign, drummer, first sargeant, and one
soldier survived the melee. The Crown Regulars died to a man. Some fire from
the Rifles took out the enlisted men of the US Regulars and the Command and
drummer were unable to do a thing but make faces at the Glennies.
The surviving US Regulars (and the mounted officer) sneer over the many bodies.
 The Native warriors charged the US Rifles, who were ready for them. The Rifles fired and shot down one warrior then the two side met with hatchet and knife. Much to my surprise, the Rifles came out on top! (Robby loves to play the Natives and he does a terriflyingly good job... usually.)
   My Militia failed their morale twice and had to fall back, but by that time the Natives and the Regulars had been wiped out. The US Regulars were reduced to an ineffective cadre and the British Rifles decided to exercise the better part of valour.
    A brief but good game. I rarely win so this was a suprise and an Easter treat for me. A good way to spend the afternoon of a day off.

Since it's the Easter Holiday...

     Not all of my figures are directly related to gaming. Some stand in somewhat more "supportive" roles, which means they do nothing on the table top. Nothing but allow me to paint some different figs. Here are some, related to Easter in a rather flimsy way.

Four chaplains of sort. Two Orthodox/Eastern Catholic, one Roman Catholic,
and a Lutheran. They started life as wizards from Martian Metals, and had
surgery to remove the tops of their hat, and add some typing paper vestments.
The Bishop and the Monsignor - again former Martian Metals wizards in 15mm.

15mm monastic/friarly types from Essex

More Martian Metals figures in 15mm - just a paint job, no conversion
(No jokes, please.)

In 15mm from Frontier Miniatures - a teamster who became a SCW commissar.
A chaplain-type of a kind, he could also be a plain clothes preacher.

Byzantium and/or Moscow represented. In penitential vestments, of course.

Herr Pfarrer in Geneva gown. I took his garb from a drawing of a pastor blessing
Prussian standards in the Napoleonic Wars.

Foundry's 28mm monks. Useful and flexible folks, they appear in medieval games,
pulp games, and far future RPG's.

Again, from Foundry and their Cossack range, a belligerent priest with pistol.

Beth's work - the Archangel Michael, loaded for bear, as it were.
{Reaper Miniatures}

Bishop Ted from the Vatican Hit Squad (Copplestone) and a large version
of Cardinal Richelieu by an unknown manufacturer.

More of the Vatican hit squad, used in pulp games like Where Heroes Dare
from Iron Ivan

Two religious sisters... originally from RAFM's Cuthulu range

From Beth, Buddhist monks made by Pulp Miniatures

For those who worship at the bar, Rick Blaine from Casablanca.
{"Are my eyes really brown?"}

This guy seems to inspire almost a religious devotion - my favourite
Martian Metals 15mm figure - Darth Vader!

Shouldn't she be in a movie? Waiting for Jake and Elwood to  pay the taxes
on the orphanage? From Reaper Minis.
 Since I have a day or two off after the Festival, I'm either punchy or whimsical... you decide.
Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Why wasn't this around when I was studying history?

   I've asked this question any number of times whenever I go out to an "Education Day" as a historical reenactor. I'd have much preferred this to dry lectures, corny filmstrips (yes, not films, but FILMSTRIPS. "Turn the crank when you hear the bell on the soundtrack."), and classmates who saw no value to history.

   In any event, this came up because Robby and I participated in a World War I Education event at the Grey Roots Museum and Archive in Owen Sound, ON. Led by our friend, Jeff Brown of the King's Company and of History Matters, we journeyed to that town to present a lecture/display on the German Soldier in the Great War. Jeff gave the talk, Robby was the "living, breathing, not-talking manikin for the uniforms, and I... held his coat. I was muscle and assisted in the uniform changes. About two dozen local folks attended and it went well.
   I also took photos... for three reasons. First, for the family; Second, for our reenacting group, the King's Company, and third, to make Robby's history teacher jealous. Robby was out of school for the day to take part in education on the other side of the desk!
   My boy showed four impressions:
         1) An early war infantryman
Brass buttons, Picklehaub, and 98G rifle.
The backpack didn't fit at all, so Jeff is crouching
behind Robby, holding it up for the photo.

Calfskin pack, canteen, bread bag, and bayonet/
entrenching tool combo. Note the marching boots
- very uncomfortable, he said

The Junge Landsher on guard.
The field is beside the main building.

Aufmarchieret! Vorwarts!
Here you see the natural lay of the pack;
the straps were WAY too long.

The second impression was an early/middle war medical orderly - Rob wants a hat like that and really enjoyed the side arm!

It's really the same jacket as above with the Red Cross
armband, "captured" British belt, dressing pouch,
cap, and Luger (non-firing reproduction) with holster

This was half the fun!

Rear view. Rob found this uniform quite comfortable -
more so than the British kit he often wears at these gigs.
 Third impression - late war infantryman with the fly-fronted jacket, Stahlhelm, and grenades. The rifle - a Mauser 98G - is not a reproduction. Jeff also brought along a "Commission Rifle" made and used earlier, and a plastic and wood dummy of a Lewis Gun.
Very business-like! Note the "potato masher" grenade
on the belt.

Rob may look distressed but he's learned to be calm and
not look excited at these events.

From the left. We realised that we had the entrenching
tool on the wrong side. The round pouch above the
canteen is a gas mask carrier.

VERY business-like!!

Lastly, the late war Stormtrooper... a tough customer indeed!
Burlap covered helmet, puttees and British
"Ammunition boots", "Waterwings" (grenade
bags, gas mask canister on the left hip, and
assault shovel on the back.

He can throw pretty far!

A good view of the assault shovel and the rifle slung
around the neck.

The assault position with grenade and trench knife.
The black-piped red shoulder straps are for the
5th Pioneer Battalion under Hauptmann Rohr. This was
the first stormtrooper unit, testing the new tactics
and equipment. The members went on to train the
stormtroopers for the whole army.

Once in the theatre, Rob as given the gas mask to
demonstrate. All he could think of was "Are you my
Mommy?" (for Doctor Who fans, it's obvious!)

Of course, Robby could keep a straight face all the time. With Jeff snarling and mugging off camera, we got this one!
Obviously NOT a Prussian... despite the uniform.

I don't really need to say that I'm proud of my son. I am... tremendously so.
I truly enjoyed working this event with Rob and Jeff, although all I did was help Rob do quick changes in uniform. This is education that's fun to see and offer.