Saturday, March 21, 2020

Camp Cromwell's 2020 Expedition to India

On March 1 Chris, PeterW & I flew to Delhi & there rendevouzed with Renfrey.  We had a car & driver organised & the first thing we learned on the drive from the airport to the hotel was the wisdom of the advice not to drive yourself in India.  The roads are a torrent of trucks, cars, motor bikes, push bikes, tricycles, hand carts, horse or ox drays, tractors, tuk tuks, pedestrians, sacred cows, sheep, goats &  camels, not all of them going in the same direction.  The only discernable road rule was to get out of the way if the vehicle behind honks at you - so there is a non-stop cacophony of horns.  But Prem, our driver, turned out to be a treasure & somehow took us safely through the mayhem, even though it seemed that at all times he had one hand on the horn & the other on his phone.    

Our first objective was the 1st Sihk War battlefields in the Punjab - Alliwal, Mukdi & Sobraon.  The 2nd objective was the 2nd Sihk War battlefields in the Pakistani part of the Punjab. The 3rd objective was the sieges of the Indian Mutiny.  Along the way there were a few pre-Anglo battlefields & lots of forts.  With the help of our GPS apps we located all the battlefields & forts on our list with known locations. 

The battlefields were usually not that informative really, because they were fought in flat terrain without significant terrain features & the field fortifications have generally not survived.  But they were interesting nevertheless, not only for the achievement of finding them, but the taking of us right off the tourist track to see the real rural India.

At the Aliwal Memorial

Views of Mudki from conveniently located mosque tower.

 On the banks of the river at Sobraon
 Remains of entrenchment for a Sihk battery at Sobraon

I missed out on the Pakistan expedition because my Pakistani visa did not come through, even though it was applied for 3 months ahead.  Instead, I kept our Indian driver (who could not go into Pakistan) & took a more conventional tourist trip to the Himachal & Shimla, the winter capital of the Raj.  The others explored the battlefields of the 2nd Sihk War & also thought they found Alexander's crossing point of the Indus.  It seems the main differences between Pakistan & India are that the roads are even worse in Pakistan, & that in Pakistan you can get beef, but not beer, whereas in India you can get beer, but the only meat is chicken. 

After reuniting at the Pakistan border we headed south to Agra, then east to Lucknow.  The main military sites being a series of forts.

The fort at Phillaur in the Punjab - still in use, now as a police academy
 A small fort near Jind - now guarding a cow pat manufacturing facility
 The Red Fort at Agra - 2nd largest in India
 The fort at Gwalior
The fort at Jhansi - defended unsucesfully by the Rani of Jhansi
Site of the British defence compound at Kanpur - surrendered
The Residency at Lucknow - held until relieved

When we started the trip the Coronavirus was still a Chinese problem, but it gradually escalated.  The hotels began asking us to fill out a form saying where we had been.  Then they began taking our temp at the front door.  Chris & I had intended to go trekking in Nepal after Lucknow, but the border was closed a few days before we were to get there. When we got to the Residency at Lucknow we were denied entry as that day the Indian government closed all the Historic Monuments in the country.  By then it was then clearly time to go home.  We re-booked our flights & executed a smooth withdrawal via Delhi & Singapore.  We are now home, but under Coronavirus house arrest for 14 days.

It was a great trip that only just avoided being kyboshed by the Coronavirus.  I can't say I actually liked India - one can only take so much of the crowds, the traffic, the poverty & the grottiness.  But it is certainly a fascinating place & well worth a visit.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Musket Action: American War Of Independance

British: Jim, Mike & SteveD.
Continentals: Mark, PeterW & Chris
A gathering of much of the old mob from the 70's: PeterW, SteveD, Renfrey, Jim, Chris & Mark

The British are on the near side.  They are advancing their left & centre, holding back on their right.  The Continental army has Miltitia on the far flank, regulars & woodsmen in the centre & their French allies on their left.
 The fighting begins with the woodsmen taking the farmhouse.
On the far flank the militia are slowly advancing on a weak British left.  In the centre the Brits are attacking the farm house & deploying in the field & orchard to meet the French infantry.  The Hesian infantry overlapped the  French left & broke the end unit with musketry.
The British infantry have taken the farmhouse.  The French infantry have pulled back while their cavalry charged the Hessian infantry, but were repelled.
On the far flank some Indians in the woods & a grenadier battalion delay the attack of the Continental militia. In the centre the woodsmen have fallen back. On the right, the British keeping the presuure on the French.
The French infantry have been broken by musket fire.  Their cavalry has survived a British cavalry attack, but with significant losses.
The French cavalry have been broken by the English horse.  The Grenadiers are still holding off the militia on the left.  British infantry is advancing on the right of the farm. 
In the next turn the 2 Continental regular batalions in the centre are broken by British musketry & the Continental army breaks.

Tonight we tried out a couple of rule changes born out of last week's post battle discussion.  They worked very well with no new issues arising.  I think Musket Action is now past the play testing stage.

This will be the last Camp Cromwell battle for while as Chris & I are about to go bush for a week before invading India with Renfrey & PeterW.  But there should be reports on the battlefields of the Indian mutiny & Sikh Wars on the blog during March & normal service resuming in April.

Wars of the Roses at Black Hills

With old comrades Steve Daniels & Peter Williams in town from Canberra, Peter College put on Towton 1461 using his rules.
York: Jim & PeterW
Lancaster: SteveD & Chris
The initial set up from the York side.
Both sides have have attacked attacked on their left.  Lancastrian reinforcements have arrived behind their left (top right of pic).  Yorkist reinforcements have arrived behind their right.
Lancastrian reserves move to attack the right flank of the Yorkist attack on the far ridge.  BThe Yorkist reserves move to attack the flank of the Lancastrian attack on near ridge. 
The Lancastrian right broke before their flank attack hit home.  The Yorkist counterattack has hit the flank of the Lancastrian attack.  Next turn the advanced Lancastrian battle broke giving the Yorkists victory.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Pike & Shot Action

We had a different cast of players to last week so we took the easy way of genrating a scenario & re-played last week's battle, again using our developing Musket Action rules.
Mark, Mike & Jim have the Scots on the left, advancing all along the front.
Chris & Renfrey have the New Model Army on the right, advancing only their centre, & that not far.
The Scots cavalry tried to take on the English medium cavalry, but were decimated in a shower of hot English dice. The first wave of highlanders also met hot English dice & bounced off.   There si some cautious sparing in the centre.   Some Scots muskteers advanced in skirmish order to neutralise the English artillery, but have been chased back by New Model cavalry.  On teh far flank Scotis shiltons & New Model cavalry are happy to keep at a safe distance.
The English cavalry on the near flank have declined to advance.  The Highlanders front line has been finished off by English musketry.  There is a musket exchange in the centre.   Half the New Model cavalry is now heading across the English rear.
The second wave of highlanders has extracted revenge by breaking the English foot, but being impetuous they have charged on & exposed their flank to the English cavalry.  In the centre the Scots pikemen have finally found some good dice & have broken some more of the New Model foot.
The English cavalry has ridden down the highlanders while the Scots' attack in the centre has run out of steam.  The Scots have failed their army break test.  So the same result as last time - quality beating quantity.

This battle was characterised by a lot of really wild handfuls of dice, mostly favouring the New Model, which made it hard to judge if the tweaks from last time were working.  But from the after -battle discussion I think we have already developed a good fast moving & entertaining game system, & have identified a couple of points with scope for further refinement.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Pike & Shot Action

Mark's New Model Army v. Chris's Covenanters
After a few rules tweeks following our Canberra expedition we tried our new rules in the English Civil War period.
The New Model Army is on the left: 3 pike & shot regiments, 2 cavalry brigades & 2 guns.  All troops are well trained & the army has superior command.
The Scotts have 4 pike shiltrons, 4 musketeer units, 4 Highland bands,4 cavalry & 2 guns. All are regular troops with standard command except the Highlanders which have poor command unless being ordered to charge, then superior.
 The New Model has advanced their cavalry against the highlanders on the near flank.  In the centre the Covenanter regular infantry has advanced with shot in front of the pikes.  Cavalry have charged the musketeers with mixed success.
On the near flank the highlanders saw the cavalry off, but with heavy losses.  The Scots have moved cavalry across their rear to support the highlanders (seeing no value in attacking the New Model hedgehog in front of them).  There an exchange of fire in the centre.   
The English have also reinforced their cavalry on the near flank while their musketeers arer whittling away the Scott's centre.
The Scotts make a desperate attempt to counterattack the New Model horse on the near flank.  They some gains, but don't break thru.  Meanwhile English muskets & guns continue to maul their centre.
The Scottish shiltons try a last desperate attack right of centre.  They break the musketeerrs, but are in turn broken by the New Model pikes counterattack giving the New Model army victory.

The latest tweeks continued to improve the rules.  The only issue arising was making sure the cavalry v. infantry balance is correct right across all eras.  (Some inf v. cav clashes didn't go quite the way we expected, but this may have been dice variance not imbalance in the rules).

No Camp Cromwell this coming Tuesday as I am going bush.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

More Wars of the Roses in Canberra

After a quick edit of the Spear & Sword Action rules in the light of comments arising from yesterday's game SteveD & I fought a smaller action. 
SteveD of Lancaster v. Jim of York.
Pics taken from behind the York force.  Deployment was by sketch map.
The Lancs took up a defensive position a a ridge & moved most of their cavalry across their rear to their left flank.  The York plan was slowed by poor command dice, but they are concentrating thei ingfnatry on the centree & moving their cavalry to their right flank.
On the left, the Lanc's cavalry has broken a crossbow unit & rallied back.  There is an exchange of arrows, crossbow bolts & hand gun balls in the centre.
The Lanc cavalry on the left has been finished off by crossbow fire.  The cavalry have finally come to grips on the right.  The Lanc's have counterattacked in the centre with some success.
The York centre has been driven back. but has consolidated.  The cavalry fight on the right is still indecisive.
The York cavalry has prevailed on the right & the York's second line has taken out enough infatry to cause the Lancastrians to fail army morale.

Playing games against different experienced wargamers is a great way to collect ideas for refining a set of rules under development.  SteveD was particularly impressed with how Spear & Sword Action provides an interesting game with a relatively small number of figures as he has a number of small armies in different periods (of which he has several).

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Spear & Sword Action in Canberra: Wars of the the Roses

York: Jim &PeterW.  Lancs: Chris & SteveD.
With Cancon BA duties complete & time to spare before going home we introduced Spear & Sword Action to our Canberra host SteveD, & PeterW.
The pics are taken from behind the Lanc's lines.  The lancs depoyed in a tight bunch between woods & hills with their cavalry in reserve.  The Yorks in an extended line with their cavalry on their right.  The intial moves saw the York's cavalry advance towards the Lanc's left flank while the Lanc's split their cavalry towards each flank.
AS their cavlry approached the enemy left, the main York army advanced as the Lancs partially redployed in their defensive position.
The Lancs are holdng up the York cavalry on the left, but the York's soearmen have punched a hole thru the Lancs right of centre.
Lancs counterattacks on their right, their  & left centre have had some success.
Lancs spearmen have also had some success in the cntre, but Yorks spear have smashed the Lancs cavalry with a flank attack & the Lanc's counterattack has run out of steam.  It is a win for York.

It was very useful having a battle with rules under development with exerienced wargamers not in the Cam Comwell groove.  They looked at it witha  fresh perspective & gave me a number of great suggestions for further improvement.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

BA at Cancon 2020

Chris & I represented Camp Cromwell & Tasmania at the Cancon 2020 Bolt Action tournament.  The army limit was 1250 pts, supposedly generic & not cheesy.  However a mainlander's idea of not cheezy seems to differ somewhat from ours.  We faced mostly double platoon Late War lists loaded up with all the deadly stuff - flame thowers, multi MMG armoured jeeps, bugs & honeys, snipers, & multiple tanks & A/cars.   On top of that we never had much luck either.   I know that's the classic wargamer's excuse, but I think I have a case.  For instance, my Sahariana was destroyed the first time anything fired at in all 5 games.
There were 50 players with a wide selection of forces, nationalities & terrain.
My first battle (Meeting Engagement) v. Brits did not go well.   I lose my Sahariana in British bombardment, then had missed 4 tries at shooting up a flamethrower before it burned a hole thru my lines.
Round 2 was No Mans Land against more late War Brits.  I managed to slavage a tie. 
Round 3 was key positions v. more Late war Brits.  This one used the double platoon method to get a swarm of bugs loaded with veterans with smgs.  With little a/tank, my early war Ities had no chance.   I resorted to playing for a draw hoping to distact the enemy from the vicrory conditions, but he remembered just in time to sieze the vacant objectives just before the end of turn 6.

Round 4 on day 2 was Point Defence v. more Late War Brits.  But this mission suited my force & I won comfortably - holding all objectives & losing just 4 men & the Sahariana.
Round 5 was the Sectors scenario & my first blue on blue.  The enemy had 2 platoons allowing 2 MkIII's, a 222 & a lot of small vet squads armed to the teeth.  With little anti-tank I felt helpless as the armour suppressed my men & the German smgs & flamethrower systematically destroyed my army. 

So my end result was 3 losses, 1 win & 1 draw.  In the mean time Chris managed 4 losses & a draw.  His only win being, like me in round 4, where he attacked a Japanese force.  Chris finished last Allied Major Power & I finished last Minor Power & I received the wooden spoon.  But all my opponent's & all but one of Chris's were nice guys & good to play against.   Both of us had no delusions at the start about doing well in the victory stakes & enjoyed our games anyway, attempting to at least put up a good show against the odds. 

The TO's did a great job & it all went very smoothly.   They generally avoided blue on blue & we got a different table every time.