Monday, 18 December 2017

17th Century [Hypothetical] Anglo-French v Dutch Naval Clash (Part 3)

The "middle phase" of the battle starts. A long line of ships of various nationalities are now intermingled amid the din of battle. The British and French squadrons (left of picture) obstruct each other "tacking" while the middle and rear Dutch warships set upon the rear French ship (frigate/fire-ship) at a advantageous 2:1 odds, trading vicious blows. The Dutch Admiral has meanwhile "with his eyes fixed on the goal" pulled alongside the merchantman and a boarding action ensues (see below):

The British and French Squadrons have completed their tacking and now spurred on by the wind close to the two Dutch ships that have interposed themselves as a barrier between the entangles merchantman and Dutch Flagship. The British fire-ship now tries to make an influence on the battle (see below):

The two Dutch rearguard ships suffer critical mast damage which means that they won't be able to escape, nevertheless they fight on to ensue success of the overall mission. It seems that the crews have been primed for their mission and fight with grim determination. Desperate men obviously given desperate pay for their services, I would suggest paid in advance to their families. They are fulfilling their part of this Devil's bargain (see below):

The Boarding Action: The exact events of the boarding action are clouded in conjecture, shrouded in mystery and fable. One account is as follows:

"It started as a fierce and confused melee, but suddenly a hush descended upon the deck as a horn pierced the air, followed by a challenge in French to the captain and master of the ship. The details are unclear, but the merchantmen seems to have been protected by a company of special (Cardinal?) guards whose Captain pushed the merchant master (a regal looking French Officer) rudely out of the way, then suddenly there are other French (musketeers?) who came from the Dutch ship duelling with these special French guards(?). Their swordplay was so distinctly flamboyant and French in the "old style". The "normal" French sailors and marines simply stood back and watched (these Cardinal Guards were evidently very unpopular). The Dutch at this point also seemed to play no active part in the boarding. The climax of the duel ended with the villainous (Cardinal) Captain, obviously losing, threatening to kill a mysterious female passenger. The silenced French master of the ship intervened and was mortally wounded. The French sailors and marines enraged turned upon the special guards and threw them overboard weighted down with cannon balls. The Master and Captain with his dying words ordered the ship scuttled and ordered all true Frenchmen on-board to join pledge their allegiance to the Countess and her "true heir" and go board the Dutchman with her. Around him knelt the mysterious band of French (musketeer?) boarders who raised their swords in salute. In a matter of minutes the merchantman was abandoned, ablaze and the crew were in boats or on the Dutchman"

Note: The above account has been discounted as a concoction of pure sea-folk fiction and the work of a drunkard hack listening to too much tavern talk and penning lies to keep himself out of a debtors prison. Others however have kept more open minds ... and maintain the actions of the battle in general were extreme and outside the realm of pure reason; the Dutch seemed to be driven by a reckless battle madness outside of tactical objectives, as if something higher was at stake and there seemed to have been a band of foreign mercenaries of sorts on the Dutch flagship.

Returning to the more conventional account. As the last chest of treasure (and two mysterious passengers plus others, this was documented though some still repudiate it) are finally hauled aboard the Dutch Flagship. She casts off with an avenging pack of French and British ships in hot pursuit. One Dutch man-o-war is disabled (de-masted) and another about to be embroiled with a Royal Navy fire-ship (see below): 

The Dutch rearguard succumbs in an uneven fight, but they bravely gave their Admiral vital time he needed. Despite the efforts of the British and French wolves who surge forward to almost within touching range of the Dutch Flagship the Dutch Admiral still holds the weather gauge and the initiative (see below):

To the delight of the Dutch the wind fills the sails of the Dutchman and she surges away to the sound of terrible French and then behind them British curses. They still have two men-o-war running before the wind but it is doubtful if both can escape (see below):

Next: Can the "Hounds" catch the "Foxes" somehow?

Sunday, 17 December 2017

17th Century [Hypothetical] Anglo-French v Dutch Naval Clash (Part 2)

The maelstrom erupts as the leading Dutch fire-ship bumps into the leading British "ship of the line" fails to ignite and carries on. The fire-ship crew at this point have already manned the boats and themselves sailed away. The second Dutch fire-ship clatters into the stationary British vessel and starts a fire (which disappointingly they soon manage to put out). Meanwhile the plucky French fire-ship that attacks the Dutch is severely mauled. The Dutch captain deciding to try and sink rather than de-mast the craft, which in hindsight was not the best tactic (see below, note the French Squadron closing in line-abreast): 

The British are in disarray and how the Dutch hoped they would become, effectively "out of the battle". This the odds are suddenly 1-to-1. In addition the first Dutch fire-ship has swooned into the French formation and start chaos afresh. As the French are approaching in line-abreast and the Dutch are moving in line-astern the local superiority switches to 3-to-1 in favour of the Dutch. Something the plucky little French fire-ship is about to find out as the second Dutch man-o-war is about to pass her (see below):   

The British Squadron take wicked vengeance in the second Dutch fire-ship, which is fine by the Dutch Admiral as it allows his Squadron time to form up and attack the French. Cynics would perhaps suggest the British are not adverse to see the Dutch wear themselves out on the French and thus become easy meat for the British. The Dutch maintain the 3-to-1 local superiority. The French fire-ship bumps off the Dutch second in line while the van of the Dutch fleet engages with the only French man-o-war in position to defend the valuable merchantman, which now finds itself perilously close to the action (see below):   

With the wind behind then the avenging (or cautious) British position themselves to attack the Dutch rear. However the French try they are still outgunned in the middle, their second and third ships-of-the-line are still trying to close. Better news is that the third Dutch man-o-war has lost a mast, and thus speed so will be easy prey to the British (when they show up). The bad news is that the van of the Dutch fleet has been given a clear opportunity to run down and capture the prized merchantman. While the French and British warships vie for local tactical positioning their Admirals have taken their eyes off the strategic goal. The Dutch seem to still have the initiative (see below): 

The British battleships zig-zag not wanting to befoul each others lines, losing valuable time. The British fire-ship is hopelessly out of position and won't get into the game. The French savage the rear most Dutch man-o-war whose function now is to sell herself dearly. These Dutch have stout heats and courage. The remaining two Dutch warships are in the process of overhauling the merchantman and preparing boarding parties (see below):

Slowly the British again tack into the action. They have not been helped by the shifting and strengthening winds, These (random) factors have strongly favoured the Dutch as fortune often favours the brave. The French merchantman desperately tacks away but is now withing gun range and the Dutch are sure to target her sails. She has little in way of defence and her protection lay mostly in her escorts so out of position. She is desperate to play for time and somehow rejoin their consort (see below):

Next: The Chase and Scarifice

Saturday, 16 December 2017

17th Century [Hypothetical] Anglo-French v Dutch Naval Clash (Part 1)

Another run out for the 17th Century naval rules. This time instead of a fleet engagement it was a peculiar "protect the convoy" scenario. A joint Anglo-French force is protecting a valuable merchantman. A squadron of Royal Dutch warships appear and although outnumbered 2:1 make a daring attack on the convoy. The Dutch sail into battle with a slight tactical advantage as the weather gauge runs left to right in their favour (see below, note this could always change as the weather is fickle): 

The British and French escorts tack to meet the Dutch threat (see below):

The Dutch disregarding their inferior numbers plough on ahead ambivalent seemingly to the odds and dangers of closing with the enemy (see below):

The British take the lead in the attack while the French squadron guards the prize merchantman closely (see below):

The British Squadron "crosses the Dutch Tee" but is well outside of effective gun range but the cunning Dutch Admiral sends his two fire ships into action with the aim of throwing the British line into chaos while turning to attack the French (see below)

Much mischief is caused by the fire-ships amongst the British. Meanwhile the French man-o-war close in on the Dutch. The valuable merchantman is hanging back, laden with silver and gold from the Indies it is rumoured. Others say there is a stranger cargo on board. What ever it is she is valuable enough to be escorted by six ships of the line and two small fire ship frigates (see below):

Next: Has the Dutch gambit payed off or are they all doomed?

Friday, 15 December 2017

Microsoft Word 2016 "RANT" [Zoom disabled if Page Movement is set to Side-To-Side] nothing to do with Wargaming .. other than a War on Stupidity!

I would simply like to state that I would like to get my tiny little hands on the Microsoft Product Owner who championed this new "charming" feature in Word 2016.

FYI: A Word document now has two modes of "Page Movement" Vertical (as the world safely once was) and the new improved "Side-To-Side" (aka the secret new way of disabling the useful "Zoom" function in your document). May I thank that said Product Owner for wasting precious hours of my life in total screen discomfort and utter bemusement, until I Googled [not Bing'ed] the answer (see below):

More "bug" information at:

Apologies for this uninteresting diatribe to my fellow wargamers :(

Normal service will be resumed once I gather up the spilled paint pots and model soldier that are scattered around the room!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Ancient Battles with DBA Version 3: Sparta versus Argive (Part 2)

Just when you need high the Spartan King (me) rolls incredibly low (a one) for his PIPs. He surrenders the initiative somewhat by defensively extending his right flank but securing the King from immediate odorous peril (see below):

The Argives seize the moment and "pounce but also bounce". The armies move into contact and are aligned with each side's left flank being overlapped. A vicious combat then ensues (which seems much more deadly for Spears than I remember in DBA Version2.x). The result being the leftmost Spartan hoplite stand is killed (at the top of the picture), but the the Argives mostly "bounce" back apart from a litle local success in the centre (see below): 

The Spartan's retaliate and fell the errant Argive Spear who dared face the Spartan King. The combat modifier that makes the difference is the +1 gained by a Spear (or Blade) for a "solid" supporting Spear (or Blade) to the left or right [essentially a Phalanx or Legion bonus].  A Spear (+4) with rear support (+1) gains a further (+1) for a flanking Spear in it's support which equals (+6). At the ends of the line the enemy Spear (+4) is deducted (-1) for being overlapped. A +6/+3 basic combat before the die are rolled (+7/+3 in the case of the Spartan King combat). Spear versus Spear combats can now be quite brutal is the disadvantaged side rolls a "1" or "2"! I for one like it. It will also help the Republican Roman armies fight their enemies although not quite matching visually but rather abstracting their "three lines" of battle. Meanwhile a dangerous position is poised on the Spartan left. The furthest right Argive unit of Spear is eligible to "close the door" on the leftmost Spartans (two stands) as they have already  been positioned on flank for one move [a new DBA V3.0 restriction] so when (as they surely will do) come forward, two further Spartan Spears could be lost (see below .. dramatic music required):

The Argives move forward, the "door is closed", the die is cast and the Spartan's lose another two Spears (3-1) and are now just barely hanging on. (see below, the revolving battle is going the Argives way):

The Spartans retaliate and manage to take another Argive Spear down (3-2) pushing hard on their stronger right flank. Much more was needed though as the Argive initiative sees a plum "low hanging" Spartan Spear waiting to be plucked. Two Argive Spears (+4 basic with + 1 for supported "solid" Spears equals +5) to one Spartan Spear (basic +4 but overlapped -1 makes +3). The final blow lands (the Spartan Spears are doubled and die) and Sparta is defeated. One senses that a great chapter in ancient history will have to be rewritten. My old PhD supervisor is still the 'master' and I the acolyte (see below, the fourth Spartan hoplite stand dies 'heroically' and the battle is lost):

Defeat for Sparta is bad but there is worse news than that.

When I was writing up the battle account into this AAR I suddenly noticed something was wrong courtesy of careful examination of the pictures in the first part of the AAR post. Wheb handing the armies out I (yes it was by my own fair hand) had given the Argives an extra stand of hoplites (13 stands v 12) which allowed them to construct the overlap on both flanks so easily and which caused me so much discomfort losing the initiative as I realigned my troops! The Argives should have been 1x4Sp(Gen), 9x4Sp, 2x2Ps instead I gave them 1x4Sp(Gen), 10x4Sp, 2x2Ps, urk. The Ephors would be doubly unhappy with this particular Spartan King. My opponent kindly suggested a rematch for another night. The 'master' is still teaching the (now old and none the wiser) 'student' a few things even in his retirement!

Summary: Generally I am liking DBA V3.0 for Greek v Greek hoplite battles as the whole thing played out in under an hour without the arduous 'grind' I remember from DBA V2.x battles.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Ancient Battles with DBA Version 3: Sparta versus Argive (Part 1)

Now DBA and DBM (in particular) has a troubled past with me. DBA holds so much promise but IMHO (and I recognise it is mine not necessary 'others' belief) DBM is a "breaking bad" of a good set of rules. Even so DBA has it's "moments" too. I hummed and hawed but having "missed the boat" the first time snapped up a copy of DBA V3.0 when I saw a copy advertised on the WRG site.

I eagerly read the core "battle rule section" DBA Version 3.0 and liked the content (insert "all smiles" emoticon!). It cleared up lots of wriggles that had crept into the various versions of DBA 2.X's and to my delight correctly defined "a gap" being less that 40mm (let's not go there). The use of "base width" movement measurements and the need to spend one turn on the side (or overlap) before the "closing the door" move, I really liked (it was also a Redcar wargamers "house rule"). Hence I jumped at a simple Greek on Greek [Argive verus Sparta] run out with the rules against one of my favoured adversaries. We randomly rolled for sides, I became Sparta and my old PhD supervisor strode in as the troublesome Argives (see below, the hoplites phalanxes line up in a suitably flat plain in Greece as per normal - courtesy as it happens of the new deployment rules):

I opted for a thick double-ranked Spartan line, King as traditional to the right and helots to the left. I intended to keep well away from that troublesome looking wooded hill on my left flank. The Argives put their strength to their right but extended their line cunningly by thinning it out. The two units of Argive Psiloi took full advantage of the hill to their right (and the extra first turn moves allowed) on the first move (see above). Meanwhile I admired my scarlet line of Spartans (see below, I have started my line outside of the "edifice" as not to break up my battle-line as it was considered "rough going" and not suitable for a group move - Note: I regretted this later!):

The Argives, defending their turf from the aggressive invading Spartans (see below, can you spot anything funny? .. see post Part 2 for further details):

The phalanxes march forwards. The Spartan helots were left behind to act as a flank guard against the Argive Psiloi. Rather alarmingly I noted that I was overlapped by the Argives on both sides but thought my depth could puncture their "thin" line. I expected a "revolving door" style of battle as often happened with the ancients (see below):

The Argives closed to almost touching distance, even bringing out a Psiloi from the wood on my left flank to "worry" my last unit of Spartan hoplites. However it was pleasing to see that even the hoplites get on with it under the new "base width" movement system. I was however facing a DBA dilemma as I really could only "move forward" with my Spartan battle line. "Conformance rules" (meant you slip to the longer side overlap) would leave my Spartan King dangerously overlapped and that could spell a very short game indeed with but one bad dice roll (see below, three Argive figures on the overlap are my undoing and they will shift left which is not what the Spartan wants to happen):

The Spartan King was locked frontally but the rear rank of spears now has the movement to flip-out  and extend the Spartan right to conform to the Argives just where it is needed. It would however break the old adage "No one stands to the right of a Spartan King in line of battle"! The Spartans are notoriously superstitious and may not like this (lead figures have feelings too). Also I should have paid far more attention in my initial battle dispositions especially since I set up second. The Spartan King (me) had no excuses he had "messed up"!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Another Winter Warmer Wargaming Project #2: The Portable Wargame - Thoughts and Scenarios

This is very much on my radar, I've read it, now need to play it (which always is fun trying to remember the rules once read but now faded from memory). The good thing is that it can be done solo! (see below, several other bloggers have already "boldly gone before" where I hope to follow):

Roll of Honour (of blogged battles, note: by no means exhaustive):
The last one is the first one I want to replay from the Portable Wargame book!
Also a link to Rob Cordery's Pre-Dreadnought Rules:
The follow-on book takes the concept into other periods (see below):

So yes, I need to first do a few replays from "the book" and other peoples blogs (see blog list above) then explore my "own battles" across a range of periods (Note: Fantasy and Sci-Fi are not excluded).

GOAL: To get a portable game played through before Xmas.