Monday, October 29, 2012

Battle of Germantown 2012

And then a big wind blew up, and everyone agreed to stop fighting for a while.

Hope everyone in the path of Sandy stays safe, warm, and dry.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Battle of Germantown 2012 Everybody in the pool!

One thing people seem to like or despise about Black Powder is the way in which the entire tide of battle can change with a few lopsided rolls of the dice.  On turn 7, the Continental force massing behind the woods was thrown into disarray when a misheard order sent one brigade off in the wrong direction and left the other two confused about where to go next.  The British took advantage of the respite and went to the scrum at the Chew House, where a massed American charge finally had driven the stubborn defenders out for good.  All of a sudden, five British brigades were closing in on two worn out  colonial brigades

Brits and Hessians close in!

The view from the American side.  In the firefight to the east of the Chew House, the dice had gone to the Americans.  The British elites decided to retire after taking heavy casualties from twice their number of Continentals.  This gave the Yanks some time to redeploy to meet the new British assault.

The rest of the Americans finally spring out from behind and around the woods.  The British were so intent on their attack that they did not have troops covering their rear, and they had to leave the first American volleys unanswered.  Thus far, three British regiments have been lost to the Amricans' one, but the shooting has only really just begun.

Battle of Germantown 2012 The Little Things...

Note that if you look very carefully at the pile of junk on my table, you can see a 3 lb. cannonball from our school's archives that was fired in the 1777 Battle of Germantown and was later discovered on our school's grounds.  Since I'm the school Archivist, I get to bring it out to play Show'n'Tell.  

Someone asked if they could hurl it at their opponent's troops on the game table.  I informed them that the damage caused by a cannonball would pale in comparison with what I would do to them if they smashed my minis...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Battle of Germantown 2012 The dice are cast

Tension builds as both armies finish their dance and commit to a strategy (come to think of it, forcing the teams to commit to a fifteen minute planning session before troops were deployed would have been helpful.  Oh, well.  More fun for me this way).

The massed Continental charge finally drives the battered light infantry out of the Chew House.  They had done their job, though, giving the grenadiers and Highlanders time to advance to the scene.  The militia opposing the British elites made a good showing of themselves, but quality started to show as the leading militia unit routed off the board, and the second is starting to have its line wear thin.  The Highlanders are taking their lumps as well, and it will be a test of endurance and will to see who holds the Germantown Pike. 

Meanwhile, over by the wood, both sides commit to mass their troops.  The Continental army masses three brigades in what looks for all the world like a French attack column.  I've been dropping hints to deploy a regiment or two from the rear to add firepower, but none have been willing to abandon the maneuverability the big columns provide.  Since I'm not using rules for penetration into dense formations, it's not a bad call on their part.  After reading Clausewitz and studying the Battle of Brandywine, they have the importance of not committing everything at once drilled into their heads.  Here, you can see a sea of red sweeping around the east side of the woods.  Should be fun in the next couple of turns.

My First Ever Demotivational Poster

...and perhaps my last.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Battle of Germantown 2012 Things start heating up

Best line of the day: Male British general: "Should I move left or right?"  Female British General: "I think you need to come over here and touch!  wait!  I didn't mean that!"

Two bulk of the two armies continue their slow dance around the central forest.  They are creeping closer to each other, and units have moved to within long artillery range.  No serious hits so far, but the poo poo may hit the fan in a turn or two.  The problem with Black Powder rules is that it is difficult to launch a coordinated multi-brigade attack.  Neither force is willing to send in their troops piecemeal, so the dance continues...

 On the eastern flank, some crack shooting by the NY Militia devastated the troops holding the Chew House.  Washington then committed his best troops to charge the shaken British light infantry.  Despite three regiments being committed, the charge did little more than clear the house for a few moments before the Brits were able to reinforce it.  Meanwhile, the British elites have moved to within musket range of the militia.  Shots have been traded, and as expected, the militia caught the worst of it, but they are far from out of it.  Perhaps superior numbers can make a difference.
 The map at the end of turn 5.

Battle of Germantown 2012 Up close and personal

As promised, here are some closeups of the troops on the table.  I consider myself an "average" painter.  I am amazed at how good some of the hobbyists who post their work on TMP are, and I realize that I will never be able to approach their standard.  However, when I looks at minis I painted 20 years ago, and can with pride look at how far I've come from the days of "basecoat and green balsa bases." 

The flag shown in this image has special resonance in our school.  We have this flag hanging in our main lobby, a gift from a generous donor.  It was the first flag of the Continental army, ordered by Washington at the siege of Boston.  If our flag is genuine, it's worth a fortune.  I rather suspect that it's a high quality reproduction, though.  Still, since I don't know for certain, I can pretend it's genuine.

"Lord Howe, dare we enter the tangled jungles of Pennsylvania?"

"Major, my dog went in there in pursuit of a rabbit.  We must follow!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Battle of Germantown 2012 Opening Moves

Washington has committed two of this brigades to reduce the small garrison of light infantry int he Chew House.  In the early exchanges of fire, the Light Infantry took a hit, but the stone walls of their makeshift fort are allowing them to buy time for Cornwallis' elite brigade to respond to the sound of the guns.


The remainder of the Continental line is forming to the east side of the woods in the center of the table.  This puts a large, challenging terrain feature between the two forces.  Will there be a rumble in the jungle, or will one army be able to race around the woods to catch the enemy in the flank?

After three moves, the British army found how frustrating the dice can be.  After the first two turns, only one brigade moved out of its starting position.  However, on turn three, some quality moves got the Brits off and running.  They seem to be concentrating most of their forces in the Wissahickon Valley and in the wooded area in the east bank.  Will they be able to deliver a knockout punch, or will the Colonials outmaneuver them?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Battle of Germantown 2012, A Class Project

It's time for my annual miniatures game  interactive learning experience with the students in my Military History class.  This year, I'm using a new board, new miniatures (the 6mm troops are gone.  Enter the 15mm bad boys. See the Continental Army here and the British Army here.)

Here is General Howe surrounded by his subordinate commanders.  Note that the Brits oped for a strong central position.  It might give them flexibility in responding to an American attack, but a coordinated assault could leave them paralyzed.

And here is General Washington standing bravely behind his brigade commanders.  The Yanks have foregone the simple approach up the Germantown Pike and the ill-fated thrust down the west bank of the Wissahickon in favor of a two-pronged attack.  the woods in the center of the board are already proving to be an obstacle.  We got through one round of American moves.  With some crummy rolling, one brigade surged forward to the Chew House, one crept down the eastern flank of the woods, and the other three stayed put.  Will history repeat itself?

Tomorrow, the shooting begins!  Will the Chew House prove to be pivotal this time around?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Medieval Geekery: Make your own Bayeux Tapestry

Glad I didn't have access to this website in grad school, or there's no telling how long my dissertation would have taken, or how many unfortunate illustrations it would have had.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

15mm Mogadishu!

Finished up my 15mm Somalis and US Rangers.  The project only took about six weeks, and the Force on Force rules only need a few dozen soldiers on each side.  I wanted to do a lot of civilian mobs as well, since they seem to be an unfortunately integral part of modern urban combat.  My 2'x2' board is crowded with the buildings I made and/or painted, which is good as the parts of Mogadishu where the events surrounding the "Black Hawk Down" incident were a real tangle of houses (check out Google Maps if you don't believe me). I just need to do some road blocks and debris markers, which should be fun.

Yep, those are Vietnam-era Hueys rather than Black Hawks.  Deal with it.  They're pencil sharpeners I got off eBay for about $1.50 each.  They painted up pretty nice, if I say so myself.

As always, click to enlarge and thanks for visiting. 

The cheapo buildings I made from foamcore and painted with textured spraypaint blend in surprisingly well with the resin building I got from JR Miniatures.  They're a little bigger, but the mix of sizes and styles looks right to me.

Here come the Rangers, escorting one of their Humvees. I have not decided yet whether my Somali buildings need the Minwax/varnish treatment.  It looked really good on my WWII buildings, but I don't want to chance the loss of the gleaming white walls on the mosque and a few other stucco buildings.  Furthermore, I worry about the minwax stain pooling on the flat rooftops.

Don't mess with technicals. Speedy little insurgents, ain't they.

Anyhow, this setup is not a game I intend to play.  I'm new to Force on Force, and I think my first scenario is going to be much, much simpler.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Living the Living History Life...In History

A huge thank you to reenactor Eric Turner, who offered to talk to my Military History class about the life of a Revolutionary War soldier.  Although it was too rainy to go out to the fields and see black powder in action, the students got to learn about everything from the best way to prepare salt pork to the nasty types of wounds created by bayonets and musket balls.     

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mogadishu in 15mm

I recently picked up a copy of Force on Force with an eye towards gaming a "Black Hawk Down" scenario.  I've already made a bunch of foamcore buildings, and I like the fact that most scenarios are played on a 2x2 board.

I finished up my first batch of US and Somali infantry.  The manufacturers are Peter Pig and Rebel Minis.  They scale nicely together, although the Peter Pig civilians look waifish next to the combatants. No wonder the UN needs to get food aid into Somalia!

I recently read a tip on TMP to indicate support weapons with a green tuft.  I was all too happy to rip off this idea.  Furthermore, I indicated squad leaders with white pebbles.  Let's call it "bookless bookkeeping."

The colors in the US camouflage came out well, but I would have preferred a more faded look.  Maybe I should leave them in direct sunlight for a few hours.

The civilian figures range from "people just standing around" to "angry rioters with chainsaws and looted televisions."  Put enough on a base, and you have a party!

Next up, more buildings and a few test vehicles.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Battle of Germantown 2012

It was overcast and chilly, not quite as foggy as it was on the morning of the actual Battle of Germantown, but otherwise it was a fine day for an attack on the Chew House.  With my daughter in tow, I attended the annual reenactment of the Battle of Germantown today. Always a great time, with lots to do for the kids and enough loud noises to make my ears ring for a week.

Below is my fellow TMPer Eric Turner, representing the 1st New Jersey.  He has very generously agreed to speak to my Military History class when we do our AWI unit.

 Just before the big boom.  Enough to shake your dental work loose.  I shudder to think what a battery of larger field pieces with full charges would have sounded like.  The audience cheered when a round of cannister took out five redcoats right in front of where my daughter and I were sitting.  The British officer theatrically turned around and admonished us "I'll have you know that they were good lads.  Every last one of them."  Yeah, buddy. But we're Philadelphia fans.  You're lucky there's no snow on the ground.
Hessians and Grenadiers.  Oh, my!

The assault on the Chew House begins.   I thinks its amazingly cool that they're able to stage this reenactment  on the very ground where the battle was fought.  I had always thought that the hideous lawn sculpture should be removed, but apparently they were there in 1777.  So.  All right then.

Lots of carnage this year.  Abut half of the Continental army became casualties.  The woman next to me was the wife of a reenactor.  At one point she told her child, who was sittinng with my daughter "Oh, look.  I think your daddy is going to survive today...Oh, wait.  There he goes.  Too bad."  Man, those military wives are tough.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cowboys and grunts

Just painted a batch of 10mm WWII soldiers and 28mm Old West figures for sale on eBay, so I can fill up my Papal account.  No point in my unpainted lead mountain sitting around and doing nothing.  Anyhow, I usually shy away from 28mm.  Too much detail, I think, and it's too easy for mistakes to show.  But they're fun to paint, and though they are much slower than the smaller scales, there's definitely an "ooh!" factor.

Anyhow, if you want these for your own, you can check out my sale.