David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Tuesday 31 August 2021

Drie Benen

There have been rumours reported of a French army crossing the border with the infant Republic at Drie Benen in the Low Countries. The Austrian commander has swiftly despatched a motley force to observe and, if possible, hold off the gathering French Army of the North while he hastily gathers his army to march to the sound of the guns...

The French Army of the North crosses the border near Drive Benen and advances to secure the junction of two major highways, aiming to disrupt the conjunction of dispersed Allied armies.
French artillery deploys early in the manoeuvres of the Army to cover the advance of the Demi Brigades and threaten the Allied Light Cavalry to their front.
En Avant's, Mes Braves! Suivez-moi!!!!
Clouds of Skirmishers shield the advancing Demi Brigades from enemy fire.
In the Allied centre Hanoverian Line Infantry advance cautiously covered by Hanoverian Light Infantry and a unit of Grenz. They face formidable odds in the enemy's Demi Brigades.
The Allied Light Cavalry, tasked with shielding the centre from their French opposite number comprise a motley assembly of Volunteer units.
The Allied Centre and Left advance cautiously, aware that their fellows are not expected on the field of battle for a good while. They will be hard pushed to hold on!
The French Demi Brigades begin their advance covered by a cloud of Skirmishers. You can just see the beginnings of the fight for the graveyard in the distance as Austrian Irregulars occupy the feature.
"Vorwärts meine kinder! Vorwärts!"
The Grenz move confidently to fill a developing gap between the Allied centre and left before French Light Infantry can take advantage.
The first cavalry melee on the right between French 10th Chasseurs and the Hompesch Hussars results in a victory for French sabres!
In a Sweeping Advance the 10th Chasseurs engage the Damas Legion's Hussars and defeat them before retiring on their compatriots.
The fighting for the graveyard intensifies. The Damas Legion's infantry hold off the French Lights but cannot shake their morale!
Neither side can bring up supports to tip the balance, so a prolonged firefight develops almost as an aside from the battle raging around them.
The 4th Demi Brigade smashes into the Hanoverian Lines! Murderous fire damages but does not quell the French elàn and they charge home at the point of the bayonet!
The fighting is fierce and bloody but the Hanoverians seem to be holding their ground!
The 4th Demi Brigade is Broken but at a heavy price, with one Hanoverian Line Battalion retiring Shaken!
In route the 4th Demi Brigade flees towards the rear! Can they be rallied? (House Rule)
At last the first elements of the Austrian Light Cavalry reach Drie Benen and thunder down on the enemy Light infantry holding the junction. {At least they would have had they not been Disordered by fire from a third French Light Infantry Regiment in the woods on their right.}
The 10th Demi Brigade passes through the rallying 4th and hits the Hanoverian line. The line is not shattered, although a second Line Battalion retires Shaken. The Light Infantry continue the fight alone...
Suddenly the Hanoverians' morale collapses and the entire Brigade retires! The Allied cavalry refuses to move and the field is suddenly the French's!
The Broken Hanoverian Brigade retires from the fight leaving their artillery to the enemy! A loss of guns a cause of shame despite the best efforts of O'Donels Frei-Korps.
In a gallant but doomed attempt to snatch victory from defeat the newly arrived Austrian Hussars charge the French Light Infantry holding the road junction at Drie Benen. They fail to charge home, discouraged by withering fire from their front and left flank! 
It's all over for the Allies in Turn 10 despite an heroic effort. That reserves did not march to the sound of the guns in a timely manner certainly hampered their cause. In the end it was just too much to expect of them faced with French elàn and espirité de corps...

Friday 27 August 2021

Stokesay Castle

 Just out of general interest really, but Sue and I visited Stokesay Castle in Shropshire on Thursday, in the company of grandsons #1 & #3  - aka Arthur and Reuben. The castle, really an early example of a fortified manor house, is in the care of English Heritage so it features the usual signage to enlighten the visitor and a 'discovery' trail designed to entertain and hopefully educate young visitors. 

The Dramatis Personae enjoying the pre-tour picnic in delightful, but sadly not wasp free, summer sunshine! A general view of the castle as a backdrop.

The main features of the castle are the main hall, the south and north towers and the gatehouse. The walls were reduced after the Civil War, so the lower format gives plenty of all round views without the usual climbing and vertigo!

The North Tower viewed from the courtyard.

View of the north aspect of the tower from the adjoining churchyard.

The adjoining church viewed from the North Tower. The church is interesting in its own right, having been extensively restored during the Commonwealth period following the damage wrought during the Civil War siege. The interior shows several unique features to the period. It's opening hours mirror those of the castle.
View to the north, towards Craven Arms and Shrewsbury.
The Great Hall viewed from the southern face of the courtyard.
The possible appearance during a visit from the Bishop of Hereford. One of many informative interpretation boards around the castle.
The interior of the Great Hall as it appears to the visitor today.

The South Tower, viewed from the southern face of the courtyard.
View southwards towards Ludlow from the high point of the South Tower. The farm below is a working farm and not part of the castle estate today 

The great carved fireplace in the main chambers of the South Tower.

The half timbered gatehouse through which you enter the castle courtyard area.

Arthur and Reuben tackling the Discovery Trail, with a little encouragement and help from Nanna Sue of course.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Something for the weekend...

 We were at the Lego exhibition, Brick Live, at Wolverhampton Art Gallery with Arthur and Reuben ~

The runes we consulted seemed to say, "Buy more Lego..."

Under instruction from Matthew, and armed with the 'find the Lego fantasy figures' quiz sheet, we also went into the main galleries. Never too soon to start on the culture front after all! Some nice military displays in the India and the Middle East in European Art section of the gallery ~

Some of the labelling was a little on the apologetic, politically correct side, but nothing too woke to upset me...

Saturday 21 August 2021

All Quiet on the GHQ front

Just to say there's going to be no activity in GHQ now until 31/8/21 as we are spending time with Matt and Sarah over the weekend and then entertaining Arthur and Reuben for a week. Full Grandad mode will be in order, so obviously no hobby stuff of course. A change is as good as a rest they say.

In the meantime I have started painting a Dixon Miniatures ACW Infantry Regiment, the 55th New York State Militia, otherwise the Gardes Lafayette. I've also prepared some individual officer figures, from the same manufacturer of course, to upgrade the look of my deployed Artillery batteries. Been meaning to do this for a long time, but you know how it is... On a different tack the 15mm vehicles have gone away with Phil to work out a timescale and budget for painting them for me, at least the basic colours that is. In the meantime, all of you take care...

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Battle of Sittzenstyll

 Phil and I were chewing the hobby fat last week over at Olaf'sHQ following a rather splendid, but ultimately rather disappointing from my view, C3rd Romans v Goths game - I lost when looking well placed to win courtesy of Phil's atypically good dice rolls! In reviewing our games since the final Borisbans were removed we realised we had tackled neither a SYW nor a FRW game in GHQ. So, this week's game is a simple encounter game I've entitled the 'Battle of Sittzenstyll' to give my SYW collection a run out. It features all the units I've painted baring two camp scenes, some civilian figures, and a few odds and ends.

The armies deploy for battle! The French have an advantage in numbers of infantry regiments in the field, the British have more artillery available. The opening moves see the artillery most in action while both army's cavalry wings are uncharacteristically restrained. (I had decided on a defensive posture at the start of the game while I saw where Phil's main effort may lie. A mistake as it turned out I think.)
As artillery of both sides fired away, largely ineffectively to begin with, I pushed the Wild Geese forward in the centre of the line to draw out Phil's Foot Guards. 
The Foot Guards have thrown their combined Grenadier companies forward while the Foot regiments to their flank advance to clear away the Voluntaires from the wooded are. Both elements of this initial advance begin to take casualties from artillery and infantry. 
With the Guards' Grenadier companies falling back Shaken by mounting casualties the French push forward more infantry on their right, lead by the Grenadiers Royale.
More French infantry move forward to block the threat of the British right. Showing admirable restraint - otherwise known as failed Command Rolls - the cavalry to their left holds its ground.
On the British right the massed cavalry shows no sign of an impending attack, shielded by its artillery supports, as it watches the infantry begin it's forward movements.
On the French right it is time to unleash the cavalry and drive the British from the field! Squadrons are hurled forward despite losses from fire and steel rings on steel as the two sides clash!
Merde! The French cavalry are thrown back with heavy casualties! But others are ready to take their place and  engage the enemy! Sadly they too are thrown back and with the whole wing now Shaken the French right collapses.
On the British right French Chasseurs à Cheval have beaten the Scots Greys who fall back Disordered. In the centre the Guards' Grenadier companies have left the table, their morale crumbling under the weight of losses to enemy fire. All is not yet lost! 
The infantry battle in the centre begins to shake out now. The French are reluctant to deploy as briskly as their opponents. (By now my poor Command dice rolls were becoming a theme of the game!) On the far right French cavalry has fared no better than on the opposite flank and many squadrons are falling back.
The British are coming forward in force! The Wild Geese suddenly look very vunerable and are taking casualties.
The French left is also falling back Broken! The cavalry, the pride of Europe, have been destroyed by the British! It becomes clear in Turn 9 that the French cannot win as all their cavalry us withdrawing Broken on both flanks. The Comte du Merde issues an order for a general withdrawal, concerning the field to his opponent...
To the end the Wild Geese stand firm and cover the general retreat of the remains of the French army.
A grand game as it played out, with the decisive defeat of the French cavalry on both flanks proving too much to recover from, confounded I must say by absolutely awful dice rolls in every phase of the game by yours truly! Next up in two weeks time a FRW game! Perhaps I will fare better in that one...?