Sunday, 19 November 2017

Galleries and Galliots

Today Catherine and I went up to Sydney in order to see and exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Entitle 'Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age : Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum', it's a collection of paintings from the main museum on Amsterdam, and illustrates the style of art influenced by the unique Dutch society of the 17th century. The centrepiece is a room devoted to Rembrandt, but this post is about the second room we encountered. This was the view as I came into it.

It covered the influence of Dutch overseas trade, specifically the Dutch East India Company, and it's naval power.

Needless to say I was like a kid in a sweetshop. Behind me is a picture of a Dutch warship in a storm; possibly a wreck off Gibraltar, although that is unclear.

There were about ten paintings in all, plus this - a model of a 1640s 44-gun warship, probably made for a guild or merchant company.

It's exquisite.

Did warships of the period really have all this carving and decoration? Repairs would have been fifty-percent art restoration.

Anyway, I know that some readers of this blog like ships, so I took a few pictures of bits of the paintings for both them and my own personal collection. This first set are from a couple of paintings of Dutch ships off Batavia. In the background you can see the port and castle of Batavia itself.

On the other side of the gallery was this; a painting of the Four Days Battle of 1666 by Willem van de Velde. Pure naval battle painting porn. Just look at the glorious detail!

A couple of ladies were looking at the picture and trying to puzzle out the flags. I couldn't help myself, and they ended up learning more about naval ensigns that I suspect they needed to know.

Anyway, if you want to see more, the exhibition runs until February 18th next year. The rest of it is almost as good as the pictures of ships, so it's well worth the trip.

(The title mentioned 'Galliots' I have no idea if there are any in the pictures.)

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Action at Morton Fendlow

I finally found the time, opportunity and inclination to play another game in my ongoing ECW mini-campaign set in the fictional county of Midsomer. Regular readers of the blog will know that this involves Parliamentarians under Sir Thomas Barnaby vying for control of the country with the Royalists under Lord Standing. The background, setup and basic campaign rules can be found HERE. The first two battles are here:

Midsomer Barrow - In which the two sides met for the first time, and Causton declared for the winner.
Ford Florey - In which both sides battled for control of some strategic river crossings.

Prince Rupert's supply trains had now reached Lord Standing, despite his failure to secure the two crossings over the Waterman. Sir Thomas Barnaby dispatched forces to try and seize some of  the supplies. One such raiding force, under Sir Henry Nelson, found its return to the town of Causton blocked by a small group of Royalists:

The scenario generated was Escape. Once again I randomly determined the forces, and both sides came out about even.

The Royalists got:

1 x Pike & Shot (Pike-Heavy, Elite)
1 x Pike & Shot (Raw)
1 x Pike & Shot (Shot-Heavy, Raw)
1 x Artillery (Raw)
1 x Horse (Dashing, Elite)
1 x Horse (Dashing, Elite)

Sir Henry Nelson's Parliamentarian troops consisted of:

1 x Pike & Shot (Shot-Heavy)
1 x Pike & Shot (Shot-Heavy)
1 x Pike & Shot
1 x Pike & Shot
1 x Horse (Disciplined, Raw)
1 x Dragoons (Raw)

The Parliamentarian troops had to advance down the road and exit at least half of their units off the other side of the board. The Royalists had to stop them, with their forces appearing from three of the board edges over the course of the game.

Parliament's dragoons and horse led the move down the road, whilst a unit of unpromising Royalist infantry blocked the way. The fact that they seemed confident, despite the disparity in numbers, alerted Sir Henry to the possibility that they had reinforcements on the way.

And they quickly appeared; more infantry, with a gun in support, appeared on a hill to the left of the Parliamentarians.

Sir Henry quickly deployed as many troops as possible to open up the road, but the defending Royalists stood firm, rallied by their commander.

Unable to dislodge them with musketry, Sir Henry ordered his horse into the attack, hoping to keep them tied down whilst his other troops slipped past.

The pressure was on; Royalist cavalry appeared on the other Parliamentary flank.

Parliament foot engaged the Royalists on the hill; one of their units broke under fire, however.

Sir Henry's troops moved closer to the end of the road and their escape.

But the Royalists were closing in. Their horse charged one of the rearguard pike and shot units.

The dragoons escaped.

Strangely (a quirk of the scenario) almost immediately afterwards the final reinforcing Royalist unit appeared along the same stretch of road.

The Royalist cavalry had the parliamentarian rearguard under extreme pressure by this stage.

In fact Parliament was under pressure everywhere; their horse was still locked in a fight with the original Royalist foot unit, whilst their foot was now blocked in their escape by the fresh unit of Royalist reinforcements; veteran Cornish foot at that.

The Royalist cavalry prevailed, and their pursuit took out the Parliamentarian horse as well.

Both remaining Parliamentarian units had to escape for Sir Henry to salvage any honour. They launched a furious assault on the Cornishmen as the other Royalists closed in from their rear.

The Cornishmen held, and Sir Henry's infantry now found themselves attacked from all directions.

They put up an epic defence, breaking the Cornish foot ...

... before turning on their pursuers and almost breaking them as well.

But the Royalist horse launched a final charge which saw them routed. Sir Henry was defeated.

In campaign terms this ends the skirmish phase. With the Royalist win, and their position secured, the campaign moves into the next stage; their advance on the town of Causton itself.

This was a fairly even fight, all things considered, but the Royalists were able to use their initial unit of foot to hold up their opponents just long enough for the reinforcements to do their work. This was due to their leader performing a series of excellent rallying rolls, staving off their rout more than once. It does show how using different rules for the scenarios in One Hour Wargames can affect the balance. This particular scenario is pretty much predicated on the fact that the rules in the book have attritional loss with no recovery. It's really down to how quickly you can remove the initial defending unit. If the unit can recover hits, then obviously it will take longer, and the reinforcements will be able to pin the fleeing force more easily. I've had some reservations about leader rallying hits under these rules before, and experimented with different approaches. I need to give it some more consideration.

This game completes yet another category in my Six by Six Challenge. Any continuation of this campaign can now be done at my leisure. I now have just one game left to play. However that's a game of HOTT and it means I have to produce a new army by the end of the year as well.

6x6 - Game 2.6

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Derpy Dinosaurs

Last week I played a game of Dragon Rampant using a warband made up of cheap plastic dinosaurs. As a reward for them not only winning, but also providing an entertaining game, I painted them this week.

Here's how they looked in the game.

And here's how they look now.

In other news, a majority of Australians said:

Friday, 10 November 2017

Honours of War - Lobositz

We gave Osprey's 'Honours of War' a try last night, refighting the battle of Lobositz.

The attacking Prussians are on the left and their Austrian opponents are on the right.

A cavalry attack in the centre. This went as well as most of my other cavalry attacks; it looked impressive and ended in disaster.

On the Prussian left, Daniel attempted to clear Austrian light infantry from the olive groves.

Meanwhile our infantry advanced against Lobositz itself.

That also went as well as can be expected, with the attack stalling in the face of concentrated musketry and close-range artillery fire.

Everyone seemed to like the mechanisms of the game, with alternating command activations, a simple modified die roll for combat results and fairly flexible movement away from the enemy. Like any game it will take repeated plays to work out how to play it (as opposed to just understanding the rules themselves. Supporting friendly units is essential, and gives good combat modifiers, but units can retreat or rout a long way, and interpenetration damages units passed through, so managing your reserves and supports looks tricky. Gary moderated the game, but four of us, who hadn't read the rules before, were able to play the game through to a conclusion within the evening. And we had minimal rules queries at the end of it. That's a good sign, if nothing else.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Dinosaur Rampant

A couple of months ago I bought a bag of assorted plastic bits and pieces from the toys section of a local charity shop. Most of them were bits of terrain (which, inevitably, I've done nothing with), but there were some plastic dinosaurs mixed in with them. Last night I decided to give them an outing, if only to show off their delightful awfulness. They made a perfect Dragon Rampant warband, especially at the reduce unit size I've been playing recently.

Here they are. In the centre is the leader, Rex - a Greater Warbeast with Fear. The other four were classed as Lesser Warbeasts. This is not a warband for subtle plans, since everything in it is subject to wild charges.

I randomly generated a force from my Temples of Syrinx force, as well as randomly generating terrain and a scenario. I ended up with Death Chase; a force of Syrinx temple-soldiers, led by a priestess have found themselves having to traverse the legendary Valley of Gwanji, and the locals are out to stop them.

Here's the Syrinx force - two Heavy Foot, some Light Missiles, some Heavy Foot swordsmen and the Priestess (Light Foot with Wizardling and Enchanted Weapons).

The Priestess and her acolytes - their main weapon is Thoughts and Prayers.

As you would expect the dinosaurs got stuck in pretty quickly. The Priestess used her magic to give her warriors extra defence (the rather useful Stronger Shields spell).

Elsewhere a dinosaur stalked the Syrinx archers. Their plan was to lurk on the safe side of the stream, and pepper any attacking monsters with arrows. One dinosaur was sent to deal with them before they got into position. The archers failed to fire a single arrow before it was upon them. There was a fierce fight, both dinosaur and bowmen fell back shaken, but the archers still failed to fire before the monster resumed its attack and routed the ones it hadn't eaten.

The swordsmen were now under a double assault, but the dinosaurs kept failing their rolls to attack, so they were able to hold them off, killing one and forcing the other to flee the field.

Unfortunately Rex then got stuck in, and the swordsmen were doomed.

The Syrinx spearmen marched resolutely across the table. One formed a phalanx as it was attacked by a fourth lesser beastie. Rex watched from the sidelines as his minion was repulsed again and again.

The Priestess was having a tricky time, balancing her need to keep moving with that of protecting herself and her soldiers from the ravening beasts that surrounded them.

And surrounded they were.

The Priestess deployed her best thoughts and prayers, but as ever such things had no effect and she and her acolytes were rapidly consumed. But maybe there was something to her approach; the attacking dinosaur choked on an acolyte and was also lost.

Rex finished off the spearmen, although he died in the attempt.

One unit of Syrinx troops escaped. There was one dinosaur left in play.

With several unit kills, and a couple of achieved quests, the dinosaurs picked up a convincing win.

They were a fun warband to use, and I'm tempted to give them a decent paint-job and some bases (to make measurements easier to adjudicate) as a reward.

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