Friday, 31 March 2017

More H&R 1980s British

After my trial with H&R moderns (well, 1980s) British before Christmas, I bought a more substantial number of infantry, and proceeded to paint them up. I bought the basic infantry pack, the heavy weapons pack and a few singles that I had not got in the first batch. When they arrived I discovered that the heavy weapons pack was made up of various numbers of the single items I had already bought - Milans, GPMG-L7 etc - no new stuff at all. In retrospect this is perhaps not surprising, but I had expected new items. This is a consequence of the fact that there are no pictures on the website, so you are buying blind.

I painted them up, rather slowly, then based them. Like my WW2 troops the plain infantry are on 1" square steel bases, 6-7 to a base. Depending on the rule set used, these may be fire teams, squads, platoons or even companies.However I put the other stuff - Command, LAWs, MAWs, SAMs, snipers and so on - on coins of various sizes. This allows me to be more flexible when playing games at a low level, with individual weapons teams, Big Men and suchlike.

Overall these have come out well, as I mentioned in the previous post the figures are as good as GHQ, well articulated and with good detail. However at present they have no opposition, and after the Featherstone weekend my thoughts are turning to Black Powder, horse and musket and Imaginations.


Infantry Squads

Infantry Squads


SAMs - Rapier on the left, Blowpipe on the right

The whole force in a Really Useful Box

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Blenheim or Blindheim?

Off south to sunny Basingstoke for the fourth annual Donald Featherstone memorial weekend - my third, as I missed number 2 thanks to an inconvenient wedding. Ten of us assembled for the hostilities - many familiar faces, and a couple of newcomers. Mark Freeth has moved the location down the row to a slightly smaller unit, but to be honest it makes no difference to the game at all. There is still a huge amount of space, with more behind you if you need to retreat, and we were able to set out a vast number of troops.

This year's battle was Blenheim, or Blindheim as Paul insisted it was called. Given that it's named after an English stately home, you would think the Germans could have got this right. We were using the Black Powder rules, a very popular set, though one that I don't own, as I play very little in this period. It describes itself as a fun set for social gaming among gentlemen, and I think that describes it very well. It has mechanisms which limit the control a player has over their troops, and which sometimes lead to interesting blunders - great fun in a social games, but these are not rules for the hard-eyed tournament player. I enjoyed them a lot, and in fact I have now ordered a copy.

We split into two teams, and I joined the French, under our brave leader Paul Wisken. I took the right flank, including Blenheim village itself, and we got three moves in on the Friday evening - enough time for my opponent Tony to find that two of his brigades had blundered backwards almost out of sight. We then repaired to the hotel, and thence to a local Indian, very good, though we appeared to be going in and out through the kitchen entrance.

Hostilities resumed on the Saturday morning, and we moved briskly - another feature of these rules. Troops in buildings are very hard to dislodge, and I held onto the village, while my artillery on my left played havoc with Henry Hyde's cavalry sweeping forward. However in mid-afternoon Mark announced that the French had clearly lost, and I realised that our centre had been swept away in disarray. I have noticed before in these big battles that you focus on your own fight, and you are unaware of what is going on across the field - really quite realistic.

We decided the thing to do was swap sides, so that we would play the Allies this time, and shuffle around so that we didn't face the same opponent. I wound up at the other end of the table, on the right wing again, with a mixed bag of brigades, Austrian, Prussian and Swabian. I was facing some massive brigades of Bavarian troops led by Phil. We both pushed forward and we had a ding-dong fight throughout. I was hampered by my Swabian brigade which blundered no fewer than three times, first back, then right, then left, and then refused to move at all for several turns. In the end they never made contact with the enemy. That wasn't the case with the other brigades, and both they and the Bavarians took increasing casualties.

Again we played three turns before leaving for the evening, and returned to the hotel for the main event, the dinner. This was excellent - my impression was that the food was much improved on previous years, and there was plenty of wine. We were entertained by Chris and his reminiscences of past times, and Paul's accounts of re-enactments he has known - including one of Blenheim itself. We also had several jokes from Mel, but you can't have everything.

We resumed on the Sunday, and our back and forth tussle on the western side of the battle. Things were pretty even, but again about mid afternoon we were interrupted by the news that the French had defeated our centre, and the battle was lost for John Marlborough. So one win for each side, which is clearly an even match - though pedants will point out that our team lost twice. This made not a hap'orth of difference to my enjoyment of the weekend, which was all down to good company and excellent organisation. As usual Mark and Karen made sure that everything ran smoothly, and the auction on the Saturday raised several hundred for Help for Heroes, a very worthy cause. We're not sure yet what battle we will refight next year, but I do not care, I will be there.