Saturday, 21 October 2017

Battle Report; the raid on Ardes



A couple of weeks back my local wargaming support group (myself Keith & Jeff) met with Simon at Firestorm Games in Cardiff. We're all separated by distance and time to a greater or lesser extent and this, certainly for me at least was a try at a game without taking over the kitchen for the day. I must say it proved to be a winning formula for a good catch up as well as some introductions and there was a rather good shop on site and a bar - what's not to like ?

We'd agreed in advance that I would host / umpire a game of Lion Rampant using my Renaissance adaptions which I loosely based upon the 1513 raid on Ardes. I had previously gamed this scenario with another Renaissance man Oli during a weekend of gaming in the summer and this was our stand out favourite. You can see how we got on in his blog posting here. In fact, this turned out to be quite a different result !

Here's the history part;

Within days of Marching from Calais to Therouanne Henry VIII soon became aware of the trouble with hiring Landsknechts when they came upon the friendly town of Ardes as an advance party of the Germans soon accompanied by some English began to pillage and burn the town. Henry was furious and decreed that anyone participating in the pillage would be hanged and should leave the town within the hour but this fell on deaf ears and it was only when he personally led a body of his heavy cavalry against them and hanged the ringleaders that the mayhem ceased.

There’s lots of ways you could play this out but one particularly memorable adaptation with a little bit of license was the following;

An English / German raiding force of 30 points attacks the town through an undefended gate, with the town defended by a 20 point garrison. The raiding party must loot and burn 4 prominent buildings in the town and make their escape. When the first building is fired the smoke attracts the attention of both a 30 point French patrol and a 20 point detachment from the English army who arrive on a 1-2 following the turn of the first fire, a 3-4 then 5-6 thereafter.
This makes for a prolonged almost two-part skirmish game in and outside the walls with even yet uneven forces, it’s also a great opportunity for four players to cover a day's gaming.
Unfortunately I neglected to take my camera so all of the photos are from our phones but hopefully that doesn't detract too much.
Here's the set up, essentially a board of two halves, town and rolling country.
The terrain boards, most of the figures and some of the buildings are mine, the majority of the town is made from Simon's collection.

For the initial clash the English deploy at the SW outside table edge and the Garrison deploy in the NE inside table edge.

The forces for the game are as follows:

The French Garrison
Foot Knights (the Garrison Leader) 6 points
2 Units of Aventuriers with Crossbows 3 points each

2 Units of Picard Infantry 3 points each
Culverin and crew 3 points
21 points

English Raiders
2 Units of Shire Bill, one of these is the English Leaders Unit. 5 points each
3 Units of Shire Bow 4 points each
2 Units of Landsknecht Shot 4 points
30 points

When they arrive the English relief force deploys in the Eastern edge in front of the town and the French on the Western edge.
French relief force

2 Gendarmes Units (the Leader) 12 points
1 Unit of Ordonnance Mounted Archers 4 points
2 Unit of Men at Arms 10 points
1 Unit of Stradiots 4 points

30 Points

English relief force

2 Unit of Demilancers (the Leader) 5 points each
2 Units of Border Horse 5 points each

20 Points
Special Rules
See the sausages & mustard scenario for rules for burning the objectives. Once an objective has been set alight each player roles every turn to see if their relief force will arrive.

This will be on a 9+ on two dice for the first turn, 6+ the second, 3+ if they still don't arrive on the third and then automatically if no relief has arrived by the fourth turn. 
The French relief force arrives in the NW and the English relief force will arrive in the SE zone. Both relief forces are entirely separate retinues in the game, this means they have their own Leader and work as their own retinue for the purposes of morale and activations. 
To arrive the relief forces simply make a move activation for each unit that wishes to move onto the board. Units can only enter making a move activation - they cannot charge a unit directly from off table for example.
The aim of the French Garrison is to prevent buildings from being burned, the relief force is to either prevent more of the town being destroyed or prevent the English from escaping if this has already been done. 
The aim of the English raiders is to burn and loot the objectives and escape, the relief force must contact a friendly unit in the town to cease the destruction or if this is too late to aid the escape of the English forces. 
On with the game.

For the first engagement Jeff took command of the Anglo German raiding party with Keith in defence of the French Garrison. Here we are a few turns in with Jeff's force reaching the gate and Keith awaiting with a welcome party. We agreed that Jeff could enter the town by the gate and the breach in the wall.



The Landsknecht arquebusiers were first to break in for which Keith had some initial difficulty beating back with bolt and guisarme. 



The arquebusiers made their presence felt with an initial salvo of shot at point blank range which pushed the Picard infantry back in disarray, this opened up a crucial gap with which to pour men into the town but the street was also clear for a brief moment, long enough for the French gunners who made their presence felt with a nasty blast from their culverin.


This shock sent the Landsknechts reeling back into the gatehouse archway in shock, bumbling into the English Longbowmen who were trying to push through. The English then fanned out as quickly as possible to get out of the killing zone. The Longbowmen punished the adventuriers facing them and the Landsknechts managed to rally and engage in some further sporadic fire at the Picards, reducing them to a man.

I took a lot of photographs of this, being somewhat impressed with the effect of cotton wool and an LED tea light !

Over on the French left things were hotting up with the English managing to pour billmen through the breach into the jaws of some more Picards in schiltron.


There was a lot of back and forth with some Adventuriers adding their bolts at each opportunity but the steady grit of the English bill managed to push their adversaries back in disarray



Keith managed to beat off the troublesome Landsknechts with another murderous blast from the culverin and some positively hostile treatment from his unit of foot knights who he then manoeuvred to the threat at the breach.

The English pushed more men through the breach and into the streets as quickly as possible to get out of the reach of the knights and the culverins murderous gaze for which Keith was having extraordinary luck with the dice.

A point of note on the artillery, here are the rules which myself and Oli fashioned though play testing;

  • Use 1 artillery model plus 4 crew (Your Leader can't be part of this unit).
  • May be operated so long as 1 crewman is still alive.
  • Points cost: 4 points (maximum of 1 artillery piece per Retinue).
  • Range: Culverins 24”
  • Movement 3”, cannot move and fire and a pivot greater than 45 requires a move
  • Shoot value: 7+.
  • Damage: 
Short range, up to 6”, roll 12 dice hitting on 5+ (4+ if target unit is in schiltron)

Mid Range, up to 16”, roll 8 dice hitting on 5+ (4+ if target unit is in schiltron)
Long Range, roll 4 dice hitting on 6+

The target receives -1 armour if fired from half range or less & must take a courage test regardless of casualties.

If 5 or more 1’s are rolled the gun is out of action for the rest of the game. This represents lack of ammunition, poor powder, travel damage or badly trained crew.

Once the crew has taken half casualties the above number of dice are halved
  • Reload value: After firing the artillery may not be fired again until a successful Reload action has taken place. This is carried out as a normal, ordered fire activation and gets more difficult after each firing, to begin on 7+ then 8+9+10+ and so on each turn with no reload once 12 is reached. 
  • If contacted, shot at, and for Courage tests, the crew count as Serfs at their current strength 
  • The crew must maintain cohesion around the artillery model (not moving more than 3” beyond it).
Back to the fighting, the foot knights worked their way through the town....

and with the dice skill of a Casino ringer, that bloody gun kept on firing


This didn't sway the plucky Longbowmen who scurried across the streets but sadly it was to no avail as they just couldn't get their tinder box going to fire a building, Jeff's dice in this task was proving to be the opposite of Keith's. We retired for a bit of lunch and shopping at the venue.

Refreshed and with lighter pockets we put round 2 into action. Regrettably, being somewhat distracted in defeating the garrison and with some ill luck no buildings had managed to be fired to signal the relief forces but we agreed the noise of the murderous culverin would surely have served the same purpose - I was really looking forward to setting Simon's collection alight.

Myself and Simon took command of the relief force with myself as the Tudor cavalry.

hmmm, a little bit one sided owing to the raiders being annihilated, then to ad insult to injury Keith was still in the game and eager to add the remainder of the garrison to the fray, and their blood was up.


My task was simple, get across that board as quickly as possible and with a comparatively nimble force I reckoned I had at the very least a tiny speck of a chance.


I managed a good run of movement activations and sent the Border Horse out to screen the advance of the Demilancers, I was counting upon their skill at skirmishing to generally annoy Simon and the chance that the Gendarmes may fail some activations being that little bit more difficult to move.


My plan seemed to be working, for a short while at least....hope is important.


The Borderers bravely or perhaps recklessly skirmished with the Gendarmes and men at arms while one unit of Demilancers sneaked round the back. I manoeuvred the second unit of Demilancers with my leader to Simon's Gendarmes who were engaged with some pesky Borderers, they performed an evade action and then I pulled my trump card and challenged his leader to a duel.

Simon refused, the Earl of Essex was no Brandon or Henry, he was simply too low born and looked a little dirty. This caused a morale check for the French relief force with a reasonable amount of success which gave me a tight window to push my cavalry past them.

Then, with the end in sight, it went horribly wrong and I too was annihilated.


Defeat seemed to be clear but I thought I'd see how we compared;

Victory Conditions

The English;

2 points per objective destroyed. 
3 points if the relief force manage to cease the destruction.
1 point per unit to escape.
2 points per enemy leader slain and a bonus point if in a duel..



The French;

2 points per objective unharmed.
3 points if they stop the English from leaving.
1 point per enemy unit destroyed.
2 points per enemy leader slain and a bonus point if in a duel.

A marginal 26-0 to the French !!!

Did I mention there was a bar on site ?

LtoR; Me, Keith, Jeff and Simon

We discussed the day's game

The street fighting was definitely a hit, it was so much fun and made for some great moments and some pretty good photographs too. Following that the contrast of swirling cavalry battle was also fun and a great spectacle, we had quite a lot of interest throughout the day from onlookers.

In hindsight there were a few things that I'd recommend changing, the English should deploy almost in front of the town and/or the French should not be able to react until this is reached. The idea being that the garrison were not aware of the impending danger. Alternatively you could possibly roll during each English movement up to the walls to see if they are spotted.

That would definitely have made a difference I think. Also though Jeff had a lot of bad luck with the dice I wonder if he could have done with a few more in his force I'm not sure, I think speed was the key here and it was lost by starting at the other edge of the table. Or possibly was it that the English just had too much to do? There's definitely scope for a re-fight.

This also served to remind me that I must get a few more French, particularly some with polearms and ideally some Franc archers too. 

The use of the venue was a great success I must say, I think we'll be there again.

The keen eyed of you in this and the previous post may have noticed quite a lot of new Gendarmes and mounted archers, more on them very soon (I've got 2 figures to complete and I'm in the middle of a painting drought - why do we do this hobby ?!!)

Bye for now

Stuart


Saturday, 23 September 2017

Battle Report; The last Apostle Revisited


This week I visited Michael & Alan Perry to play a different approach to 'The Last Apostle' skirmish scenario. With troops from my own collection bolstered by those from Michael's, Aly Morrison and Simon Chick we were able to use the scenario as a backdrop for a much larger engagement, I'll let Michael tell the rest;

The rescue of St John the Evangelist 28th July 1513


'Yesterday we had the great pleasure of hosting a game with Stuart Mulligan, Simon Chick, Aly Morrison and Rick Priestly. Stuart, over the last eight years, has amassed a large and extremely impressive Henrician army as well as the better part of a French one. Most of these he has converted from our Wars of the Roses range, the old Foundry range and a few Steel Fist miniatures plus some of his own sculpted base coated manikins (available from Stuart at stum_23@hotmail.com...if he hasn't run out!). Simon bought along a beautifully painted Burgundian cavalry wing to flesh out the French forces while Aly brought along three units of untested French foot, and Rick was there for...decoration:) The game was set up by Michael and we used Rick's Wars of the Roses adaptation of Hail Ceasar for the rules.

The game was set during Henry VIII's inavsion of France in 1513 and based on the recovery of one of Henry's beloved twelve large bombards, known as 'the apostles' which was heading, with the English army, to besiege the French held town of Therouanne. After leaving Tournehem, the Middle Ward of the army with Henry out paced the artillery accompanying it and gradually the big guns were left behind. Somehow, the three ton gun called 'St John the Evangelist' slipped into a river leading to a hundred carpenters detailed with the job of rescuing it. A large French force had been watching and swooped on the defenseless labourers, all were killed or captured but the French left the St John where it was. Henry was not amused and sent back the Earl of Essex to recover it.

That was real story behind the game but Michael tweaked the facts to produce a workable scenario. In the game Henry's Middle Ward has turned back as soon as it was known the the St John was in trouble and also in time to possibly stop the French getting there first. Stuart, Simon and Aly asked to be French as there were a lot of their newly painted figures as yet to see battle. Aly took the one infantry 'division' in the centre of the French set up zone, with Stuart and Simon on the flanks with wings of cavalry. A second infantry 'division' would eventually arrive behind the first. Rick had control of Henry's large infantry 'division' with Michael taking the English cavalry plus a small 'division' of German Landsknechts while Alan controlled the guard around the St John and a small 'division' of infantry. A dice was alternately rolled at the end of each turn, on a 6 the bombard had been lifted from the river.'




'We rolled to see who would place the first 'division' in their set up area and then alternated until all units had diced to come 6" on. As it was the only one to fail was the second French infantry 'division'. Then we rolled to see who moved first. The English won and Michael rolled to move his cavalry as fast as possible to the river to protect the gun, however, he threw a double 6, a blunder, sending the small elite of the army careering straight towards a mass of French Gendarmes!

Luckily, Stuart's heavies, opposite, failed their command and didn't move in the first turn, although Aly's infantry did and managed to get a couple of long range shots off at the English horse, but to no avail. Rick and Alan's infantry made a slow advance, Alan heading towards the river and Rick's straight ahead. Michael's infantry remained where they were.

On the French right flank Simon's heavy cavalry casually sauntered down the slope heading for the gun and it's guard of Landsknechts. The next turn everything moved slowly apart from Rick's 'division' that started to form a battle line.

Michael's heavy cavalry halted their unintentional charge and veered off to the left while receiving more bolts from Aly's crossbows, but no harm done. Alan's English infantry headed for the St John, occupying the farm on the way. The French, now reserve, infantry still hadn't made an appearance. Simon's cavalry were having problems picking up the pace in order to reach the submerged gun before the English and, apart from the small mounted units of archers and Stradiots, Stuart wasn't making any headway to move his gendarmerie.'

The Demilancers & Border Horse deploy

The English Centre deploy

The Demilancers make an unsupported headlong charge toward the French Gendarmes

Another shot of the Demilancer's wild charge with German cavalry attempting to keep up. This was a perturbing start the game !

The Gendarmes with supporting Men at Arms and Mounted Archers deploy and uncharacteristically remain calm and aloof .....for 3 turns thanks to my dice rolling. This was the first time seeing these all together as a completed unit, having worked all summer to reach this with the game as an unofficial deadline it was a delight to have met it and see them arrayed.

Simon's cavalry on the move with Aly's French to their rear

Aly's French Infantry. These looked great and this was their first outing, they performed really well throughout the game checking the English advance with determination for several turns almost completely unsupported due to the failure of our reserve to show up for 4 turns. Aly painted these for the Ordonnance of Charles VIII and they look great, really colourful in their livery jackets, it served to remind me that I must get some Franc Archer bowmen and infantry with polearms done for my own collection.

Aly's centre out on a limb, the reserve were to deploy to their rear in the woods but were remaining somewhat reluctant.

Simon's Burgundian Cavalry (masquerading as French for the game) begin to form into a wing to engage the approaching English relief force. This against the backdrop of his newly commissioned Flemish Manor House which was making its first outing in this game. 
Another view of the Manor complex built by David Marshall of TM Terrain, it really is a sight to behold with eye watering detail.

Back to the game;

'Turn three and four saw the English form into a recognizable battle line with Michael's cavalry spurring their horses to close the gap and joining up with Alan's Landsknechts guarding the gun and Alan's infantry spreading themselves either side of the farm.

Rick had arrayed his infantry and was advancing on the weak French centre taking out one of Aly's crossbow units. Michael's Landsknechts of the right flank moved in unison with Rick although turning to cover the flank that was being threatened by Stuart's light cavalry. Rick sent his Gentleman Pensioners to confront the Albanian Stradiots.

Stuart also had a sudden burst of activity and sent his Gendarmes in a parallel chase up the board towards the St John. Simon approached Alan's gun guard and started peppering them with bolts from his mounted crossbows. The French reserve infantry finally turned up and headed to bolster up Aly's beleagued centre and left flank. As Stuart's cavalry came within striking distance Simon charged in one of his heavy cavalry units supported by his mounted crossbows. Michael counter charged with a demi lancer unit with Alan's Landsknects and an English bow and bills in support, both fell back with maximum casualties.

Then Stuart struck, crashing into Michael's two cavalry units with his Gendarmes taking fire from artillery and bow on the way in. Stuart lost a freshly painted unit of Gendarmes in the melee and his 'divisional' commander and his other unit disengaged. Michael's cavalry 'division' was now broken and fell back behind the infantry.'


The French reserve finally arrive !

The Landsknechts on the English Right Flank move into the fray after being harassed by Stradiots and Mounted Archers. I'll never tire of looking at these figures they're amongst the favourites in my collection.

The aforementioned mounted archers making their debut in this game, they harried and generally irritated the enemy with vigour. These are converted plastic light cavalry on metal horses from the WOTR range, as usual with converted Ansar heads. I'll do a separate post on these soon.


French Men at Arms with Gendarmes behind race to plug the gap in the line and check the English cavalry advancing to the Gun.


Failing to meet up with Simon's heavy cavalry which had now disenagaged with heavy casualties my Gendarmes thundered in in an attempt to break the Tudor brigade for good. Receiving artillery, arquebus and Longbow fire as they went in they crashed into their opposite number causing further casualties. Alas they first rank Gendarmes (newly painted for the game) succumbed to their wounds and left the field. I'll do a post on these soon too.

The English centre forming in line

'With two cavalry units battered on the French side and a brigade in retreat that side of the board had an uneasy stand off but to top things off Stuart rolled a 6 and the Bombard was lifted from the river. The Tudor right flank then moved to the ridge and prepared to charge, firing volleys from the organ guns with arquebus and bows joining the din.

The French returned fire to less effect with the culverins unlimbering and missing at point blank range in the final turn. There was also the distracting stradiots and mounted archers in the extreme flank which checked the landsknecht pike for a few turns until the Pensioners saw them off.

The pub then seemed to be the best option. So, an English victory in that they rescued St John the Evangelist but equal damage was done to each side'

The Bombard is loaded ! without a second to lose

The English Cavalry division make a hasty retreat with the Bombard in tow

The Organ Guns deliver their deadly fire with Longbows in support, I really must get more of these as they looked great.

The French reserve form up in front of the English.


Their culverines with Lansquenet arquebusiers and crossbowmen form up to release a volley to their opposite number but it was innefective. At this point we ran out of time and the pub was calling.

a couple more shots from the game 




The Culprits, Left to Right; Rick Priestly, Aly Morrison, Simon Chick, Me, Alan Perry, Michael Perry.

Bye for now

Stua

Friday, 1 September 2017

French cavalry part 1



Over the last 6 weeks I have focused my efforts on doubling the cavalry in my French Army, an ambitious target (for me) of 20 figures was set and this was to be my summer project.

You can view my existing French cavalry here

I've had a number of opportunities and natural pauses with which to present my progress but I decided to push on while the impetus was there. I'm not sure if I'm alone in this but I often get a dip in enthusiasm after presenting my efforts but at the moment I'm so close to the end I think I'm safe !

I wanted to add a complete lance to my existing cavalry so 2 bases of Gendarmes / Men at arms, 2 bases of Ordonnance Archers with demilances / Coustillers and 2 bases of Ordonnance Archers with bows.

I arrived upon this composition after reading up on the subject and drawing a collective conclusion from the sources available to me, you can read my thoughts on this here

I began with the lance armed Ordonnance Archers as I quite fancied the challenge of creating a convincing look both in terms of their equipment and appearance. As ever my prime source for this was the David & Bethsabee series of tapestries which depict mixed formations of Heavy to Light cavalry, snapshots of the medium cavalry are at the top of the post.

Essentially the medium Archer cavalry were either poorer horsemen or young nobles starting out to become Gendarmes. As such they wore older and/or lighter armour whilst the Coustillers within their ranks were lighter still and armed with javelins / light lance.

Here's my interpretation


To achieve this appearance I used the Perry WOTR metal cavalry along with their plastic Men at Arms and Light Cavalry sets as a start. I then added further parts to them to add a Renaissance flair in the case of the armoured figures and for the Coustillers I converted them completely.

Here they are alongside my first interpretation (central 2 bases) from 2 years ago;


As the first effort was almost entirely command I was keen to have these as rank and file. In some ways I prefer this second batch but I think that's just the advance in my painting and converting over the intervening period.

In their composition I wanted these to form the outer ranks so that this appearance in line could be achieved to represent the French preference for charging en haye in a single line.

I did consider giving each new base a banner but I wasn't sure if the whole unit would then be a bit flag heavy. I teeter between this notion and 'you can never have too many flags !'

Here they are mustering for a charge;


So that they could blend well with my existing figures I used metal horses rather than the Perry plastics as these are noticeably larger. In this case I used the Perry metal horses as they have a bit more character and life to them than the Foundry ones.


Out of the two new bases this is my favourite as I'm really pleased with the conversion work on the Coustiller and the central figure. For the latter I added a Plume from the Steel Fist Renaissance Knights and sculpted a bevor and visor on to the kettle helm which is apparent in the source below. I also quite like the Kettle helm generally as a French thing, I'm not sure if there was a preference for that but it works well to help to underpin the unit identity.

Also apparent in the source below was my primary inspiration for the Coustiller.


This called for a rather ambitious conversion for which this was the second attempt. I began with one of the bodies from the light cavalry set and filed away about 1-2mm from below the waist down to just above the knee before gluing the figure to the horse. I then sculpted a rough base which established the basic proportion of the skirt as shown in this (different) figure;


This base needs to be as thin as possible as it's merely a surface to sculpt the main skirt onto (the base needs to dry before the skirt is sculpted on top). If you don't do this the folds and spread of the skirt can't be achieved. If the base is too thick the skirt will look rather voluminous as I've found in some attempts. If it doesn't work just let it dry then peel it off to start again.

The folds were then added, left and right with drying between each, you could try both but there's a risk in damaging one side while you sculpt the other.

Next came the arms and body, the right arm was a bit tricky as you're not really pushing against anything and particularly on the body side it's hard to get to.

As ever the head is a converted head from the Ansar set, basically hair and a cap is added, some are easier than others to do.




On to the next base, these had less work with the exception of the Coustiller. I'm not particularly happy with the pose but I think that might be down to the choice of horse.

Another point of note for these is that I've changed the way I do armour. I used to start with a black undercoat then dry brush in the base colour then highlight in the mid tone and highlight but I found this to be a bit hit and miss.

I now use a black undercoat with the shade colour and a wash of black ink. I then highlight in the mid and highlight colour then apply a wash of 2 parts deep blue and 1 part grey after which I re-highlight the highlight colour. This gives a brilliance and slight bluing to the armour. It takes a bit longer than previously but I'm pleased with the results. The starting point for this was again the tapestries which use blue grey as a shade.

Here's all of the medium cavalry supporting some Gendarmes;


Finally, here's an advance preview of how the latest lance will look, Gendarmes supported by Ordonnance archers with lance and bow;


Depending upon which is finished first and whether I get painting fatigue the next instalment will be a new unit of either Gendarmes or Mounted Archers, hopefully not too long.

Also making their debut in these pictures are some rather lovely twisted wire trees from The Model Tree Shop, I love them and can't seem to spend my pocket money fast enough on new instalments.

Bye for now

Stuart