Monday, September 19, 2011

Defense of the Train Station AAR; RCW

Yesterday I ran a Red Actions game; the Defense of the Train Station. It was a hypothetical scenario set two after Kolchak's lines break in Western Siberia. The Whites set up their defense amid the buildings. The Reds entered at random points on the near table edge. The tanks and armored cars are all inoperative, although the Reds did not know that. I had the Whites roll at the end of each turn to repair the vehicles as a ruse.

Red cavalry moved through the woods, attempting to avoid the White artillery and move to attack the White left flank.

On the Red left, conscript infantry advance. More Red cavalry move behind the infantry towards a woods.

The Whites receive cavalry reinforcements and start riding toward the Red conscripts. Red cavalry intervenes before the Whites can reach their targets and a cavalry fight begins. By games's end, the Reds are slowly pushing the Whites back.

A White armored train rolls on the table. The train station, in the official colors of the Trans Siberian Rail Road, sky blue and white, is only a few moves away.

On the next turn, a Red armored train appears, carrying three companies of Red regulars. It heads for the White lines.

Six companies of Red cavalry are now facing the White center and left and attempt, again and again to close to contact. One company crosses the rail road and forces a retire result. It then receives fire from a fresh White unit and retires. One of the White guns is destroyed by the armored train, but the White lines hold.

Great period, great rules, great players.

The Battle of Phlegmbutt Manor AAR, ECW

Yesterday at our club's September game day, Richard ran a Spanish Fury/Very Civile Actions game. I was busy running a Red Actions game and did not get to keep up on the flow of the game. I did take a few pictures. Richard also sent an AAR for the game.

Jim Walker and Luke Casey commanded the hard-pressed Royalists defending the manor and, more importantly, the main road junction it commands, from the unexpected attack of superior Parliamentarian forces commanded by Jim and Connor True. Throughout the battle, reinforcements trickled in on both sides as supporters of the King fought to stop the Roundheads from taking the crossroads and falling upon the loot-fattened supply and pay train making its slow way along the main road. Total forces engaged by the end of the day were estimated at sixteen Royalist companies and five guns defending against twenty-two Royalist companies with no artillery.

Surprises abounded – mostly to the disadvantage of the Royalists. A surprise flank attack from off-board Roundheads assaulted the small fort whose brace of cannon dominated the crossroads and which anchored the right end of the Royalist line. Traitorous plots against the Roundhead forces were ineffective. But, a traitor to the King managed to distract the fort’s Royalist garrison while spiking the fort’s guns, enabling a small Parliamentarian storming party under its Fanatical Captain to lay ladders and swarm up onto the walls into hand-to-hand combat that took two “great turns” to yield apparent Parliamentarian success.

Just as the game ended after three “great turns”, the Inspirational Royalist Captain had decided to give the order to abandon the now-doomed fort and blow the powder supply. Perhaps the crews of the spiked guns would have escaped the conflagration, but this would have meant almost sure death or injury for those meleeing on the walls and, perhaps, disastrous results to the four companies (both Royalist and Roundhead forces) engaged close to the fort.

As “sudden torrential rain and devilish winds” brought the fighting to a close (we had to begin packing up the game at 5 to be out of the room by 6), the Royalists could be seen to have kept effective control of the main road and crossroads, if barely. Luke held at bay a strong force of New Model Army infantry reinforced by a regiment of heavily armored lobsterback cavalry on the Royalist left flank, whereas Jim on the Cavalier right had managed to form a strong line on the flanked right end of the Royalist position, guarding the road and intersection in the event of the loss of the fort (which seemed inevitable as the game ended.)

Connor’s Roundhead Dragoons on both flanks took noticeable casualties from the accurate fire of Royal cannonade (three demi-cannon and two demi-culverns, until the fort’s demi-cannon were spiked) and musketry. This, plus a Royalist terrain advantage which required fewer troops to defend than would have been the case on clear ground, stalled the Parliamentarian attack. The Roundheads lost three squadrons of Dragoons from two companies, two squadrons of Pike from one company and one squadron of Musketeers in the attack. Royalist casualties were somewhat less – consisting of four squadrons from as many companies (I’m not sure of the composition of the losses.)

The game lasted from about 1:30 (after preliminary briefings) to 5:00 PM with a 20-minute “R&R” break midway through. Referee’s Victory Ruling: Minor Victory for the Royalist side.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Four Hour RCW Armored Train

Shortly after starting my Russian Civil War project five years ago, my friend Richard gave me a Peter Pig 15mm armored train as a Christmas present. I was a little surprised as Christmas was months away and we did not give one another presents. I gladly took the gift and painted it and it made an appearance in our next game. At that point Richard confessed that it really wasn't a gift, he knew if I had it, the armored train would be painted and on the table quicker than if he had to paint it.
It's fun having an armored train to trot out when needed, and whenever I host a game and the railroad tracks are on the table, everyone wonders if an armored train will appear. Most often it does not.

Of course, having one armored train is never enough. I had the idea to scratch build one. I took air dry clay and sculpted the basic shapes of the engine, tender, and gun car. After the clay dried, I added a few details and painted and dry brushed it. I then realized I needed to sand some of the edges, so after that, I painted and dry brushed again. Total time, not including drying time was about four hours.

It is still very rough, and I plan to do another one. I will spend a lot of time sanding and squaring it. But it doesn't look too bad from 3'.
I can see a game in the future on Lake Baikal with armored trains dueling with gunboats!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Touching History, 1, 2 3, and 4

I recently purchased the pdf's for the four issues of Touching History by Paul Darnell. These are amazing and I recommend them to anyone that has ever built wargame terrain or is thinking of trying. The pdf's are only $7.59 each and as far as I am concerned, the value is far more than that.
The first issue covers Napoleonic Peninsular; buildings and terrain. I really like the windmill and plan to give that a try.
The second issue covers the English Civil War. Oddly enough I am playing in an ECW game tomorrow. I haven' built any of the terrain.
Issue 3 contains two periods, the Sudan and WW II. In addition to the model and terrain building, there is also an AAR for both historical periods. The Sudan portion contains great pictures of the gunboat Paul built.
The last issue of Touching History covers North America; the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the French and Indian War.
Each issue contains ideas, advice, commentary and much more.

They are available at

I haven't done anything but read them and I can already encourage you to buy them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Recommendation: The British at the Gates

The British at the Gates by Robin Reilly is a history of the campaign that ended in the Battle of New Orleans, during the War of 1812. It's very well written. It is detailed, yet very readable. It explains the causes of the war in what I consider a balanced way. The author then gives a narration of the important events of the war leading to New Orleans, the final battle.
My friend, Jim, and I are starting a War of 1812 project and this volume by itself will keep me going for a while. I was fortunate to have this on the shelf at home when I needed to start my research.
Highly recommended.