Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! Χρόνια Πολλά και Κάλα Χριστούγεννα

Χρόνια Πολλά! 
Ειρήνη και Χαρά σε όλους!
Merry Christmas to all from Leadhead PhD! 
Peace and Joy to you all!



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Terrain Project, Gaines Mill from Altar of Freedom

Good day to you all.

While I am slowly warping up the Army lists for 1877, painting the last elements of the Russian Line Division in 10mm that I have, and trying to advance the Warhammer1000 project to conclusion, here are some pictures of a work in progress.

It is the battlefield for the Battle of Gaines Mill, during the American Civil War in 1862. I have used the Altar of Freedom scenario map as the basis. I do not know how Altar Freedom plays, since I did not get a chance to run a scenario. My goal is to collect the forces for that scenario in 10mm. But one thing I can definitely say that Altar of Freedom has going for it, is its scenario structure. Very few games actually try to fit whole battles on 3x3,4x4 and 6x4 tables, but Altar of Freedom is one of those.

For someone with the space and travel issues I face this is godsend. For the first time I can actually try and enjoy the terrain modelling part of the hobby. Not only that but the battlefield is small enough that it is portable.  Bravo to the guys who wrote the scenarios.

I built the battlefield using 6 roughly 1 foot squares build from cardboard. Elevations were done with adding cardboard layers, and I cut streams, the lake and river into the cardboard. Here is the result for the time being, with my Russians presenting the full Union force for the battle.





The problem starts now. Many of the terrain material people take for granted in the US are really hard to find in Turkey. Spray paints, flock, model trees are all things that are hard to find. Which has led me to a concurdum of how to proceed. One idea was to use white glue to glue paper which then I can paint green on the field. Trees I will probably order from Pendraken or Bacchus. The other option is to paint everything with acrylics as is. But that will take time and not sure if the result will be worth it. Also expensive. We will see. I am going to Greece in december, and Hobby shops there are well stocked. Obviously I cannot bring spray paints back in my hand luggage. But flock can be mine. We will see and I will kep you posted.

With Respect

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Fight for the Two Hills.Black Powder: A review and game in 1854

The Fight for the Two Hills- Black Powder Battle Report and Review


Over this weekend I had a chance to play my second black powder battle, and first one with my own miniatures. We played a fictious Anglo-Russian action as part of a bigger battle in the Crimean War. The Russian army was a-historically presented by my 1877 Russians, while the British were represented by Napoleonic Wars British. Scale was 10mm. The Scenario was created by me and can be found by clicking on this text (Scenario PDF). It is pretty much a ripoff of the action at the Round Tops during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, during the US civil war. Rules used were Black Powder, with the Crimean Army lists from the main rulebook.

I commanded the Russians and had at my disposal 3 Regiments of 3 Battalions of Regular Infantry each (Each regiment is a Black Powder Brigade), plus 6 units of artillery and a unit of cavalry. Thus 3 forces, plus the brigade commander (overall CnC). The command rate for Russians was 8.
The British forces commanded by Mehmet, were 4 battalions of infantry, 2 units of cavalry, 2 units of rifles, and a gun.  He created two forces plus the overall commander.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Battle Report and Rules Review : Neil Thomas Wargaming 19th Century Europe

Rules: Neal Thomas War-gaming 19th Century Europe 1815-1878, Kindle Edition



Scenario: Battle of Oeversee, 1864 from Neil Thomas rules.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Understanding Scale

One of the biggest issue for wargamers is grasping the idea of scale. Especially in any abstraction beyond the 1 to 1 of skirmish gaming, it is easy to forget that you miniatures represent a much bigger number of men. It is also easy to underestimate distance, but that is another issue (one easily curable when you go visit and try to walk the battle-lines in one of the big American Civil War national parks.)

Here I am going to talk a bit about figure scale. I.E how many real humans your figures represent.

Let us start with the real thing. Using my 10mm Russians here is what a closely packed company of 168 men would look like , and a battery of 6 guns (sorry for the bad photo)


Our real strength company of 10mm men is longer than 12 inches (30 cm) four deep. If it was one deep it would be longer than 72 inches (120 cm). If we say a full adult occupies 60cm (24 inches) of space that means 4 deep our company is 1800 cm long (18 meters). One deep it would be (72 meters)

Now usually a 19th century regiment would be made up of 3-6 battlios, each battalion of 4 to 10 companies.

As you can probably comprehend a 1 to 1 representation of a battalion, let alone regiment is beyond the financial and space capabilities of gamers.

Let me put it this way. Suppose you want to represent in 10mm at 1 to 1 ratio a full Russian regiment of 1877. You would need 5 companies per battalion, three battalions per company. That amounts to about 840 figurines per battalion, and 2520 per regiment.

Each battalion if we put companies in line, each company four deep would be 200cm or 2 meters. If we put all the battalions of the regiment side by side, it would be 6 meters long, only 60 cemter short of my height.

Not many have a room or place big enough to accomodate that many miniatures let alone play a game with them.

So we abstract. We scale up. Let us say we use a scale were 1 figure= 40 men, and 1 gun=6 guns.



Our company now looks like this, and our battery of 6 guns can be represented by one figure.


A Russian regiment of three battalions and a divisional artillery brigade looks like this then. Still substantial, but now manageable. But we can go up the scale more.


If we use Bruce Weigel's Grand Tactical Scale, two bases of infantry represent a battalion (1 to 100 scale), and one base or artillery now represents two batteries or 12 guns. Thus three double bases of infantry are a regiment, two regiments a brigade, two brigades a division.

This gives us 2 divisions and thus a corps, permitting us to play medium sized to big historical battles. 


Let us go up the grand tactical level. Let us say we want to play multi-corps battles. One in which we command an army. Using the Altar of Freedom basing convention, now each three bases of infantry represent a brigade of about 4000 to 6000 men (1 to 400 ratio).

This gives us 16 brigades. Each division has two brigades, thus we now have 8 divisions of infantry, and 1 of cavalry, or 4 corps. Historically this is substantial 19th century force, and in the case of some  states, their whole army. Obviously at this level you lose some of the benefits of using miniatures, but gain the ability to fight huge battles in a reasonable time frame for working adults.


Here is my army based for Neil Thomas 19th century rules. 12 units of infatnry, 3 of cavalry and 6 artillery.

Using scaling you can thus play multiple types of games, from small battalion actions to massive battles. But never forget that your little figures, actually represent tens, hundreds or even thousands of men. 

1877 Russians, and some other stuff


A good old update from me. Lots of stuff, starting with Kiis me Hardy and ending with Russians for 1877-8

The second revision of the 1877-8 Russo-Ottoman War army lists for Black Powder is stalled a bit due to research demands. The lists are done, and so is one of the scenarios, but I still need to write up the other four.

I got in a game of Kiss Me Hardy with Doruk at the Karagh Club in Istanbul. I ran a simple 2 vs 2 scenario. Two British 74 guns (1 elite, 1 average) vs. a French 80 gun and a French 74 gun (both average). The scenario was that the Brits were part of blockading squadron and that the French were trying to break it. The British would get 3 VP for each captured French, 1 VP for each sunk (the prize! the prize!). The French would get 3 for each ship that escaped, 1 for each british ship that has sunk or struck the colors. I played the French,



Initial set up. The French must escape from the corner in the back of the british.


The French give the British broadsides.

One of the French ships crosses the British T. Alas the dice were not in favor of the Republic


The French making a dash for it


One of the French ships is boarded by the British and taken. The other unwisely decides to stay around and fight rather than run (I rolled a dice).

We ended the game with one French ship taken, One British ship malued, the other British shape in bad shape, and the last Frenchmen ok. Since the two last ships found themselves with the wind straight ahead we called it a day. British Minor Victory.

End Situation

FRN Formidable: Taken, 38/80 hull points left 
FRN Heros: Foremast Destroyed, 56/74 Hull points left
HMS Minotaur : Officer Casualties, Foremast Destroyed, 20/74 Hull Points Left
HMS Defence: 53/74 Hull points left.

Beyond that I finished a test paint of 1/72 Union troops for the American Civil War. Onur gave me this miniatures. I will paint them and probably give them back, as they do not really catch my fancy.


The most important update is that I finished roughly 3/5th of my Russian Division for 1877/1878

I know have the full divisional allotment of artillery (6 batteries),

a Hussar regiment for support,

two full line regiments of three battalions each, which make up one of the two brigades of a Line Infantry Division,

a Elite Battalion (painted as Guards)

Which in Black Powder gives 7 Infantry Units, 6 artillery units, and 1 or 2 cavalry units. I am missing command stands, but that should be taken care of in the near future. My goal is to be done with it before 2015.

Here is the Brigade deployed for battle, trying to take a hill. One regiment is moving towards a set of fields in Attack columns for a flanking maneuver. The other one is going down the hill through the valley, and up the other one in mixed formations of attack columns and skirmishers. The Elite battalion is deployed in line and softening up the enemy. Half the artillery supports the flank maneuver of the first regiment, while the other half the frontal attack. The Hussars guard the artillery. 


The brigade leaves the safety of its hill.


One regiment works the flanks, while the other deploys forward under fire.


The Elite battalion leads, with its Berdan's doing good work in the fire-fight


An aerial view of the whole fromation


The first regiment in a supported line of attack columns (the command stands are for the eyes, as opposed to integral for the game)


Artillery in support.


HURRAHHH!


The second regiment in mixed formations and proceeded by a battalion in line.

I cannot wait to use this guys in battle. The Pendraken miniatures are perfect, having a balance if detail to abstraction that I like. Some of the units could be used with command swaps for Latin American wars. 









Thursday, November 6, 2014

Some more pics of Pendraken Russians

The first regiment for my force done (three battalions, according to a article I read each battalion had a flag), plus one battery of field artillery in support. Only thing missing is a colonel figure. In Black Powder this represents a brigade. Edited to add more pictures



For flocking I decided to use fine grained kush-kush. I am not 100% happy with it, but after some work it is passable. But since I have found no dry sand around, this will do.

Here are pictures of the lone Hussar Regiment guarding two batteries deployed on a hill. 





Saturday, November 1, 2014

PhD Leadhead Update

Hello to all! After a small vacation in Greece for the 28th of Octomber (Ochi Day in Greece) and Republic Day in Turkey, I came back sick. That meant to wargaming this week. So a good chance to paint stuff.

Together with Onur Buyuran of the Karargh Club, we decided to start a 10mm project of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Ergo the Black Powder Army lists.

My 10mm order from Pendraken has arrived and I am taking advantage of my sickness to paint some of it. So here is the first (inflocked for the time being) Russian unit, representing a Russian Regular Infantry Battalion.




I am also slowly getting through army number 5 for my Warhammer 1000 project. This is the empire using Perry Miniatures. I painted the first three in colors reminiscent of Mark Smylie's Daradjans from the comic Artesia (Artesia at Archaia Publishing)








So thats about all folks! Enjoy the weekend.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Blood and Iron: The second Schlesqig-Holstein War 1864

So I decided to play a board-wargame this weekend and in honor of the new 1864 series and the 150 years from the 2nd Danish-German war I decided to take out my copy of Blood and Iron and ran a solo session of the 1864 scenario. The Wikipedia page on the war gives a good overview and there is an excellent book on it in English.

Bismark's Folly: The 2nd Schelswig-Holstein War 1864

Otto Von Bismark Minister-President (Prime Minister) of the Kingdom of Prussia

System: Blood and Iron: Bismark’s Wars for Empire
Scenario: 1864
Level: Corps-Division-Brigade
Turns: 8

Danish Deployment
Breaking from history I assumed that Lt.General De Meza,CC of the Danish Army and King Christian IX were able to resist the pressure of the Eider Danes (the Danish National-Liberal party that pushed for the incorporation of the duchies in Denmark proper) to defend at the inadequate Danverike, and instead follow De Meza’s initial plan of focusing defense on the forts of Dybbol and Frederica. The army HQ with reserve artillery and two division deployed in Dybbol, while a division and brigade deployed in Frederica together with the army cavalry.

LT.G De Meza Danish CC


Allied Deployment
The Austrians under Gablenz deployed in front of the Holstein town of Tonning, while the Prussians massed in front of the fortified city of Rendsburg. The Austrians were tasked with taking Frederika, while the Prussians with Dybbol

Deployment 

From the Start of the War to the Positional warfare

Austrian Attacks on Danish Positions

De Meza send his cavalry division from Frederica into northern Jutland, in the hopes of drawing away Allied forces from a siege of the forts, due to the threat the division would be for the Allied extended lines of supply.

FM Graf Von Wrangel, Prussian CC


Gablnez advanced to Frederica with his corps of 4 Brigades pushing his Calvary division after the Danish cavalry.

GdK Ludwig Karl Wilhem von Gablenz , Austrian CC

Meanwhile old man Wrangel of the Prussians, used his Corp of two divisions to besiege and take Randsburg to the general opprobrium of international press, while the cavalry, Guards division and artillery moved to invest Dybbol.


Invasion of Jutland 
Randsburg fell quickly, and his troops joined the Dybbol siege about the same time Gablnez arrived in Frederica. Wrangel also sent his cavalry division after the Danish cavalry in the north of Jutland.



Since the Danes did not defend the Danverike, and thus the humiliating and arduous retreat that cost unfairly De Meza his job in historical reality never took place, the international opinions was that they had a fighting chance. This was important in Stockholm, where Charles XV of Sweden was able to persuade the political and military elites of the country that a Swedish intervention would be safe, and gain Sweden important benefits. 
Charles XV, King of Sweden and Norway

Thus the Swedish army of 20000 men in two divisions, was sent to Copenhagen where it was received by an ecstatic crowd (Turn 2)! This was Sweden’s first war in 50 years, and it was the first war it was allied to Denmark in at least 200 years. Scandinavianism took a strong boost, and the King’s popularity was increased. However some military and political leaders worried about the state of the army.


The Swedes! The Swedes!
Meanwhile the Allies began the hard work of besieging the two fortified cities. In the north the Danish cavalry held out for a healthy period of time  (2 turns) and even gave the Prussians a good thumping, before it was overwhelmed by the allied forces.
Christian IX, King of Denmark 

From Positional Warfare to the Focusing in Frederica
While the Swedish army begun the process of reaching Frederica, the Austrians and Prussians lunched a series of assaults on the fortified positions. Generally speaking the Austrians did much better than the Prussians, even though their artillery was rendered useless. 

In Dybbol De Meza, under intense pressure from PM Monrand and the National-Liberals lunched a sortie against the Prussian siege lines. While the Danish army kept it honor, the battle was costly and did not break the siege, though it did make it less likely that the Prussians would storm Dybbol.


Gablenz had more luck, destroying the Danish Brigade in Frederica in a near won battle, but shattering the command structure of his corps in the process. The timely arrival of one of the Swedish divisions shored up the defenses. 



After a long period of angry exchanges, Motlke got Wrangel to decide to leave the Guard division in Dybbol, and take the other two Prussian divisions to join Gablenz in Frederica. Time was running out and the Allies needed a victory one of the two sieges, as the UK, Russia and France were talking about organizing a congress to resolve the issue.


From Focusing in Frederica to the end
The focus on Frederica provided dividends, when the next great assault by the Allies came close to taking the fortified city and destroyed the Swedish division there.

The devastation of half the Swedish army in the trenches of Frederica, cut down some of the enthusiasm for the war in Sweden and tarnished the popularity of the King, leading Charles to start pressuring the Danes to accept a European Congress. 




Despite that though, he still sent the second Swedish division into Frederica.
Positional warfare 

At the same time, De Meza took advantage of the decreased opposition in Dybbol, and in a decisive sortie whipped the Prussian forces under Mulbe. With the siege broken the allies faced the very real danger of being trapped between Frederica and De Meza’s extricated army now. Moltke advised a depressed Bismarck to accept a Congress and do his best to salvage the situation diplomatically.




End situation

Danish VP: 26
Allied VP: 14 (8 Prussian, 6 Austrian)

Losses:
Danes: 1 Cav Div, 1 Inf Brigade, Reserve Artillery, 1 Swedish Infantry Division
Allies: 1 Prussian Infantry Division

Remaining Forces
Danes: 3 Inf.Divisions, 1 Swedish Infantry Divisions
Allies: Prussians: 2 Inf. Divisions, 1 Cavalry Division, 1 Res. Artillery. Austrians: 1 Corp of 4 Brigades, 1 Cav. Div.




What Happened: Essentially De Meza’s plan worked as it was supposed to work, and even better (the Swedish Intervention fluke). If the ultra-nationalists had let him fight how he intended to fight, the war may had ended better for Denmark. My mistake with the Allies was dividing the forces. True that is how it happened historically. But focusing on one of the forts while masking the other, would had probably increased the chance of a tie or victory.

Possible Political Consequences: The war would probably have ended via a European Congress of all the great powers. I think that realistically speaking Denmark would lose Schleswig and keep Holstein. This is the probable happy scenario for Denmark, which shows you how bad the situation was from the start of the war. Now how the result affected things in each participant and how much it changes history partly rests on the abilities and moods of one man, Bismarck. Let us start with the easy parts (with the understanding that this is all probabilistic)

Ditlev Monrad, Council President (Prime Minister) of Denmark

Sweden: The victory is a bitter one. The Swedish army received a drubbing and probably heavy losses. With the tampering of the consequences of victory by a Great Power Congress, it is likely that the Swedes may feel that those losses are for nothing. Scandinavinism does take a hit, and so does the popularity of Charles XV, but not as bad as the historical one. There is a good chance the Danes work hard to make this up for the Swedes which may put the foundations  for increased economic and political cooperation in Scandinavia, if not at some point a German Confederation style system. The Swedish army is thoroughly reformed, though Swedes may not have much interest in a future war.


The rest: There are three scenarios in my opinion depended on what Bismarck does.

A)  Bismarck commits suicide

Prussia: Always a hypochondriac and a mercurial person, prone to boots of extreme psychological reactions, Bismarck blows his brains out in reaction to defeat. This is a big loss for his friends Roon and Moltke and the King, and means the Prussia goes to the Congress rudderless. With the Nationalists twice humiliated, and with Bismarck’s reform conservatism defeated, my expectation is that the conservative reactionaries and King Wilhelm’s status-quo preference in Germany lead to Prussia accepting Holstein as a new state member of the German Confederation under the Prince of Augustneburg  as Duke.  The internal order of the German Confederation is maintained and so is Austria’s predominant position, at least until Frederick III or Wilhem II.

That said Motlke is still able to push for some reforms in the army, as the defeat is laid at the feet of Wrangel, and thus weakens the reactionaries on this front. However, this reforms apply to the standing army only and he is not able to integrate the Landwher as well as he wanted into the standing army.  But this is an army that likely does not see use, until the next European Crisis, but not against Austria (which with Napoleon III around is not going to be too far away). But in such a crisis it is more likely Prussia will fight on the side of Austria, or in the confines of the German Confederation, rather than against or unilaterally.

Austria: With the Austrian arms generally doing well in the war, the thorny issue of Holstein-Schleswig partly resolved by major power agreement, and Prussian adventurism chastised, Austria focuses on securing its vision of the German Confederation and domestic reforms. As in history the good service of the army, does not lead to a push for needed reforms.

Denmark: My expectation is that the Great Powers will demand some kind of protections for the Germans of Schleswig, and that Holstein goes to the GC under a Prince of the House of Augustenburg. Without Bismark around, the Danes will accept both, but it is likely that Danish politics is partly dominated by the question of German Rights. While the Nationalist-Liberals may agitate for a new war to retake Holstein and get rid of German autonomy rights in Schleswig, it is highly likely that they will be opposed by a reinvigorated conservative faction around the King. Swedish unwillingness to fight a war, may also contribute to restraint. With no Bismarck to bait them, Denmark enters a period of political strife, but not war over that question, and attempts at closer Scandinavian cooperation.

      B) Bismarck stays on and does his best in the Congress though results are not great

Prussia: Motlke and the King succeed in persuading Bismarck to stay alive and try to get the best he can out of the Congress. Otto tries his best but it does not bear the fruits he wanted. His main goal, of using the Duchies to cause a constitutional crisis in the German Confederation and a war with Austria is stymied by the creation of a new German State in the form of the Duchy of Holstein under a Duke from the House of Augustenburg. That said he succeeds in pushing for generous rights for the Germans in Schleswig, in the hope that the Danish Nationalists will create a new crisis that he can take advantage off. 

Domestically he is a bit more careful with the King and the National Liberals, though he does help Moltke get more reforms done. Internationally, he bides his time baiting the Danes to fight again, or waiting for the next hair-brained idea of Napoleon III, for a war. At the same time he tries as much  as possible to bait Austria in the Confederation, understanding this time though that he has to be more careful. His clashes with the Liberals over army reform, last longer and are more costly, and barring a new Danish War, he may have to wait until the 1870s for a new chance to challenge Austria.

Austria: As above, only this time they meet more resistance in their vision of the Confederation. They are highly unlikely to accept a new Danish war and probably can keep the Confederation out.

Denmark: As above, but this time the more strident rights for the Germans of Schleswig, coupled with Bismarck’s baiting, increase the chance of the National-Liberals overcoming the more careful conservative party, and leading to a new crisis? Indeed the King might give impetus to Scandinavianism in hopes of  restricting their activity.


      C) Bismarck does very well indeed in the Congress

Bismarck gets the main thing he wanted from this war. Holstein is added to the German Confederation but not as an independent duchy under the House of Augustenburg, but instead as a Federal dominion administrated by Austria and Prussia. He uses that administration in order to ferment a constitutional crisis that leads to the 1866 war. Only this time, the Danes will take advantage of the war to violate the Treaty rights of Germans in Schleswig and to regain Holstein. This might mean Hannover not joining the war against Prussia. It should be noted that a Danish intervention of the 1866 war was accounted for in Prussian war-plans. In many ways history plays out the same way as it did in reality.