Thursday, 1 December 2016

SE Asian Interlude

No wargaming related posts this week because I am away for few days at a conference in Bangkok.  


Activity on the river in front of the hotel, above, and below the other side of the hotel with some of the newer buildings of the city, including the one in the centre that looks as though King Kong has had a go at it.


In the last sixteen years with my current employer I have done maybe thirty similar trips; conferences, training courses, seminars, meetings or briefings at such locations as Seattle, Atlanta, Bangkok, Tokyo, Singapore, Hongkong, Sydney, Melbourne, Lisbon, London, Stockholm and Toulouse. From the outside this probably sounds rather glamourous, especially since most of those locations are a long way from home in New Zealand, but nothing could be further from be truth.

I must admit that when I first hear that I am going on one of these trips, there is a bit of excitement, like "oh wow I'm going to Bangkok..." and it takes a couple of days to remember what it was like last time: it usually takes between ten and thirty hours to get to most of these places; most of the time you are away is spent either inside an airport, an aircraft, a taxi, a meeting room or a hotel room; the whole time you are seriously fatigued because your internal clock is so out of sync. Then when you get home there is often a need to be back at work the next day, or at best with only one rest day

The most extreme example is one trip to Lisbon in 2009 when I flew Auckland-Hong Kong-London-Lisbon without a stopover, to attend a two day meeting, then to London for a half day meeting, then London-LA-Auckland...literally a round the world trip in seven day (and one of those days was lost crossing the date line). I remember being so exhausted in Lisbon at the end of the second day of the meeting that I was struggling to stay awake and there was a dinner to attend that evening. I remember getting back to the hotel and grabbing about a half hour of sleep before going out to dinner and it gave me just enough energy to get through the evening.

This time the trip has been a bit smoother. Apart from a bit of confusion in Hong Kong as to whether there was going to be a seat for us (we were on industry tickets and therefore on standby), everything was on time and we got into Bangkok late Monday morning. After a bit of a rest we had a pleasant dinner at the hotel in a humid 30 C degree heat sitting on the river bank.

The conference, which had shown considerable promise on paper,  has been a bit of a disappointment with only two or three useful papers, the rest being somewhat indifferent and one tedious, wrist-slitting very early on in the piece.

That said, the food and the atmosphere of Bangkok is great. On on evening we went up the State Tower to the Skybar - the one that featured in "The Hangover II". A stunning open air bar on the 65th floor, that had a sort if 1920's feel, with a grand stairway down from golden topped dome, a jazz band playing, and an almost 360 degree view, with just the gentlest of breezes blowing.





Another night we went up the river about 5 km, above the Royal Palace, on a local recommendation to a great little restaurant - the whole evening for four people (food, drinks, two ferries and a taxi) cost just over $NZ 105.

Back home tomorrow, via Honk Kong again, where a parcel from the Perrys is expected...the rest of the French Foreign legion and a few more Retreat from Moscow packs. Then early next week I will order the last of the Carlist War figures.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Retreat from Moscow -WIP

While the bases of the second battalion of the French Foreign Legion for the First Carlist War are drying, here is a brief Work in Progress report for my Retreat from Moscow "mini" project, using the Perry Miniatures figures.

First up is the second of the "Marbot" sledges, awaiting the arrival of some snow.


Next is the infantry. This selection is made up from two infantry marching packs, the straggler's pack and a couple of exrtra figures from the officers and dismounted cavalry marching packs.





I have to say that these are fantastic figures to work on. Each figure is a unique character. The Perrys have captured the situation perfectly so that as I paint the coat and blankets blowing in the wind, I can almost feel the cold of their wintery setting. 

I haven't quite figured out how I am going to base the infantry yet so I will wait until I have the other sets in the series to arrive, which is a couple of weeks away.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The French Foreign Legion in the First Carlist War

Created in March 1831 from the foreign regiments that had been in the Bourbon service, the French Foreign Legion was initially posted to Algeria. There it participated in the initial actions to force colonial rule on the local tribes. Algeria was to be the base for the Legion for the next 130 years and for the first forty years of its existence the Legion lived by its original intention to operate outside of mainland France.

In 1835 the French Government transferred the Legion to Spanish service in support of Isabella. Arriving with a force of 1,400 men in six under strength battalions, the commander, Colonel Bernelle, undertook to recruit a force that at its full strength counted as many as 6,000 men and contained three squadron of lancers and a mountain artillery battery. The Legion fought a number of engagements the most notable being Barbastro. By the end of 1838 the Legion, poorly supported by the French Govenment, numbered only 500 men and returned to France. Many of those who returned re-enlisted in the Legion in Algeria.

Followers of the Franco-Prussian War may well be aware that the future Marshal Bazaine transferred to the Legion as a junior officer in 1833 and served in Algeria, Spain and the Crimea with the Legion.  In fact Bazaine became a favourite of Isabella and after his conviction in 1871 and subsequent escape from life imprisonment, lived out the rest of his life in Spain under Isabella's protection.

This unit is the first of what will be four Foreign Legion battalions in my Carist War army.






Sunday, 20 November 2016

Isabelino Spanish Troops Finished...and something a little different

This week has seen the completion of the final four Spanish battalions of my Isabelino army for the First Carlist War. All four battalions are in greatcoat - which significantly speeded up the painting process - and are in a mixture of covered shakos and bonet de police ( or "Isabelino caps").





In parallel I have finished the Foreign Commanders pack (although the bases still need completion):


Bernelle (French Foreign Legion)


de Lacy Evans (British Auxiliary Legion)


Spanish Colonel

Next to be painted for the Carlist War is the French Foreign Legion infantry, of which two battalions are stacked nearly in the lead pile.

Also completed this week is something just a little different. For some time now I have been admiring the Perry Retreat from Moscow range and, having recently watched the new BBC production of War and Peace, I have bought a batch of figures to paint for my amusement.

The first item in the Retreat From Moscow collection is a sledge, which represents a part of the sledge borne brigade formed by Colonel Marbot from the the 23rd and 24th Chasseurs a Cheval that he dismounted and used the surviving horses to pull two-man peasant sledges found in local villages.  



This model, the sledge with walking horse, is the first of four sledges that I will do. It was really fun to work with because I got to work with lots of earth tones, which I like because there is always lots of texture. I should have shot these images with a wintery background, but regretably the printer wouldn't play ball.




The snow on the base was created using an artist's texture paste that sets hard and flat white. I will add another layer of this to make the snow a bit deeper and smooth it out a little more.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Horse, Foot and Guns

After a two week hiatus from painting because of our annual gaming weekend at Tarawera, I am back into painting the Isabelino forces for the First Carlist War.
 
First up are of two Royal Guard infantry units. I love painting these guys – it’s the colours you know…there is just something about a man in red trousers, don't you think...with a bit of blue and yellow thrown in?



Next up is the second unit of heavy cavalry in those yellow jackets, wonderful to see, but awful to paint.


Last is the mountain gun sets, deployed and packed for travel.








There are lots more of these to come in the next few months, including the French Foreign Legion and some British Auxiliary Legion.
 
This project has a targeted completion date of the end of the year.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Annual Gaming Event - Day 5 - Ironclads - 1866

Sunday dawned sunny, but the wind had shifted to the south and blew cold. We were up at around 7:00 for our last day. Breakfast was served at 8:00 and afterwards we cleared out our rooms and packed most of our personal gear into the cars.

As per tradition the last day's game was a naval one. This one the same as the last couple of years, Italian and Austrian ironclads from the War of 1866. The game was somewhat fitting given that this year represents the 150th year anniversary of the Battle of Lissa, the only clash between the two navies, and only major battle between ocean going ironclads.

The scenario had six Austrian ironclads plus two wooden ships attempting to head off a flotilla of six Italian ironclads and two wooden ships that were attempting to join the main Italian fleet at Lissa. The rules used were those of the Jackson Gamers.


The action started with both sides pushing their wooden ships off to fight each other, away from potential damage of the ironclads. The first shots went to the Italians, whose ships had more rifled guns and thus a greater range, but first blood went to the Austrians when the relatively Italian ironclad Re di Portogallo was rammed simultaneously port and starboard amidships by Erzherzog Ferdinand Max and Salamander, sending the Italian ship to the bottom. 

The sinking of Re di Portogallo ... before...

...and after!

But the Austrian ships were stopped dead and had to back away from the wreckage and soon became targets for the Italian ships who shot them to pieces and then rammed and sank them too.


 But then two other Italian ironclads succumbed to ramming and sank.


Meanwhile the wooden ships circled each other. The SMS Kaiser, a 92-gun ship was poised to do massive damage to the smaller Italian vessels when a lucky shot struck her steering and she had to turn hard to starboard for six turns. The Italian ships hounded her and SMS Radestsky until one of the Italian ships was halted by damage to her engines. She was then an easy target for the other Austrian ships and eventually a critical hit saw her magazine blow up and down she went. 



At the end of the game only a single Italian ship, the Re d'Italia, was afloat. She sailed off towards Lissa with only minimal damage. The Austrian had lost four of their six ironclads and one of their wooden ships.


With that we packed away the ships, collapsed the table and swept out the garage. We had one final lunch and our gaming event can to an end. It is always the same, there is a year's planning and anticipation and it is all over so quickly. We packed the cars with the last bit of gear and headed off - well not so quickly for me because a flat battery delayed my departure by an hour.

Then as we drove into Auckland, up the Southern Motorway, in a stop-go traffic jam that saw us travel a mere 10 km in 40 minutes, we got a rude reminder that we were home.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Annual Gaming Event - Day 4 - Afghanistan: A Game of Two Halves

Saturday dawned a stunning day. I woke early, well before the rest of the group and not wanting to wake the others went for a walk along the shore line. Although the sun was only just up, at just before 6:30, it was cool but not cold. There was absolutely no wind and the lake surface was like glass. I walked maybe 2 kilometres to the southeast along the shore then back another 1 km back im the opposite direction, taking these shots along the way. 







Having had my early morning exercise I returned to the house for coffee and a breakfast of bacon, toast and jam.
 
At a little after 9:00 we went off to Afghanistan in the 1870s. The story was that the wife and daughters of the local garrison’s colonel had gone sightseeing with a couple of guides, but when the guides detected trouble in the area the group had taken refuge in the town and sent back to the colonel for help. The Colonel at once despatched a relief force to recover his beloved and his daughters. It was a significant force that he sent, consisting of three commands. My command consisted of two Indian cavalry units one unit of Marines and two guns. The other two commands consisted of four infantry units each, one of which had a machine gun attached. The rules used were homegrown.
 
The local Afghan tribes had heard of the predicament of the group of women and sought to capture them, seeing an fine opportunity for ransom, and headed to the town in good numbers.
 

My command approached on the right of the village, with a cavalry unit on each flank and the marines in the centre, supporting the guns. I advanced rapidly into the town. One cavalry unit entered the town and guarded the exit on the opposite side while the second unit passed around the right end of the town. One gun was pushed into the town square where it could cover the bridge while the other pushed through to cover a ford. The marines pressed forward and entered the mosque, where they discovered the colonel’s family.


Meanwhile to my left an mixed force of regulars and local troops occupied a small wood and the buildings on the left edge of the town.
 
It didn’t take long for the Afghans to arrive and they made a beeline for the town. One force, with a second in support, crossed the river opposite my force and started a fire fight with the marines, which one of the guns soon joined.
 

A third force approached the bridge with a fourth in support.
 
At this point our third force arrived to the left of the river on the flank of the fourth Afghan force. The third Afghan force had a unit of cavalry and attempted to charge across the bridge against my gun, supported by a regular unit in the houses along the road. The British failed to halt the Afghans with fire and a vicious melee started that was only ended when a second British unit joined the fray and drove off the Afghan cavalry.

 
At this point the British force, having secured the colonel’s family began to pull out, although when the colonel’s wife (with shotgun below) came out of the mosque some men questioned why such an effort was made to extract her, although many were keen to assist the daughters.


The withdrawal was executed pretty cleanly although the Afghans pressed hard against the marines before being driven back. One of my guns was captured, but not before it was spiked.
 


The withdrawal from the table marked the end of the morning’s game.
 
The afternoon took us forward 150 years to 2010 and the same village (which had grown in size) with a British force moving to extract an Aljezzera news crew that was trapped in the town by a group of Taliban fighters. The rules used were Chain of Command.


The Taliban were able to deploy in ambush anywhere within the town while the pick-up truck machinegun vehicles could arrive on any of the roads.


The British support vehicles took up an overwatch position on the heights beyond the town while the infantry platoons swung wide around to the other side.



The Taliban vehicles proved quite hopeless and the fighters were quickly neutralised by the British. In the end the British easily entered the town and extracted the TV crew.

We finished the game at around 4:30 and retired to the house for drinks and a fabulous dinner of a fillet of beef, washed down with a several bottles of excellent wine. It was our last full day of gaming.