Thursday, January 19, 2017

Battle of Mohrungen

Marshall Bernadotte pictured in happier days
(thieved from here)

I'm not particularly well up on the fourth Coalition - I know it in a general sense, Jena and all that.  But I must confess, I'd never even heard of the battle of Mohrungen until Lord Siskington picked it out of the book.  Though it appears I'm not alone as a google image search for pictures of the battle drew a blank and I had to settle for the picture (above) of Marshall Bernadotte as an introduction. We're staying with Mrs Kinch's parents at the moment, but I needed to visit home to collect some things and feed Sir Harry Flashman VC, so I took the opportunity to arrange a game while I was at.  Lord Siskington kindly volunteered to join me and we had dinner and a game, which was a very pleasant way to spend the evening. 

The field of Mars arrayed for battle, Lord Siskington considering his options. 

I have lent my snowfield mat to someone and I can't for the life of me remember who, so we were obliged to play this on the green fields mat. Pardon gentles all. 

The introduction from the scenario booklet. 

"In early January Bennigsen ordered the Russian Army to go on the offensive. On the 19th Ney, who had extended his line in search of provisions, was attacked and brushed aside. General Markov then advanced toward Mohrungen where Bernadotte was concentrating his forces. 

Both sides had opportunity to deploy the morning of the 25th before Bernadotte’s cavalry launched a charge against the Russian center. The Russian cavalry, with support from their artillery, drove back the attack but were in turn driven back by French artillery fire and fresh cavalry. The ensuing artillery exchange inflicted little damage. The battle began in earnest when French light infantry advanced in the center to threaten the Russian artillery and Dupont’s arriving division pushed the Russians on the left back from their forest defensive positions. As dusk fell the French were making progress all along the line. Suddenly, Bernadotte heard firing in his rear in Mohrungen. Fearing the worst, he called off the battle to retrace his steps. It was a false alarm—only a few squadrons of Russian horsemen had entered the town and were pillaging the French supply wagons. They were quickly driven off."

Lord Siskington, naturally being the guest, had choice of sides and choose to play the Russians.  I was left with the dastardly French. 

Bonaparte's Legions falling into line

On the face of it, this is a very tough row to hoe for the Russian player. The French player has cavalry superiority, the advantage of numbers and the edge in troop quality.  The only thing in his favour was the terrain and time.  There was a mechanic which allow him to move a marker at the rear of the field which would eventually bring him 50% of the victory points required to win the game.  This meant that we Frenchers could not afford to hang around. 

My opponent rolled rather well on the Mother Russia roll.  This is a special rule the Russians use, which takes account of the add hoc nature of their mobilisation.   The Russian player is allowed add infantry figures to some of his units, raise extra cossacks or dig entrenchments amongst other things.  Lord Siskington created an overstrength, entrenched battery in the centre of his line as a result. 

Lord Siskington's lovely daughter
(aka Tolstoy's Death Star)

This was a perilous looking piece of ironmongery to tangle with and I spent most of the game trying to avoid it, while the Prince Mishkin Hussars (seen the left) pinned my infantry in the centre under its guns. I spent most of my time working around on the right and keeping an eye on the clock. 

Victorious French dragoons

Fortunately,  my success on the right caused Lord Siskington to thin his centre so much that I was able to mount an attack and isolate the battery.  The French guns mounted a Talavera style "artillery charge" combined with some dragoons who managed to get around the back of the redoubt and take it in the rear.  This spelled the end of the Russian gunners. 

French infantry advancing through some curiously un-snowbound fir trees. 

Once the Russian artillery was dealt with I was able to roll up on the right and take the defence apart. This is a tough scenario for the Russian, as the statistics on the CCN website indicate as they win less than a quarter of the time, but regardless it was a good game. Lord Siskington was good company as always.  We put the world to rights over a brandy afterwards.

An evening well spent. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lifeguard Trumpeter

I've had my hands full recently, but I'm hoping to get a little painting done over the Christmas season. I'm torn between some Mahdists, which I have helpfully got based and primed or some 1/72 Zvesda Pikemen and Musketeers for Pikeman's Lament. 

In the meantime, I can spare the time to appreciate the really fine work our man in Budapest has done on this Lifeguards Trumpeter. 

The pictures here don't do this chap justice.  He's 1/16 scale and is currently guarding one of my bookshelves. An old Airfix figure, he towers over almost anything else in my collection. 

Mr. Tibi has done a very fine job on this chap. 

I particularly like the subtle tonal shifts in the red.  Painting red or white are a pain in the neck at the best of times, but he's has done it very well. 

There's been a lot on for the last few months, but hopefully we'll get back into something approximately a decent routine shortly. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Barbarossa - The Day of Battle

Note: This games day was run in September, but for a variety of reasons I've been worrying away at this report for a little while. 

The Soviet High Command putting their heads together
Comrade Siskey (left) has clearly been marked for purging and didn't get the memo.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Barbarossa Campaign in Memoir '44 Campaign Book One.  It is a campaign of two player Memoir '44 games linked together.  The campaign is divided into Army Group Centre, Army Group North and Army Group South.  Each player takes on control of one of these groups and plays through a series of games that advance that particular part of the grander campaign. All the players draw from a greater pool of reinforcements which are assigned at the beginning of the game.

The game is divided into two phases.  The first phase consists of two scenarios, after which each side can deploy their reserves across the whole front.  The second phase consists of another two to three scenarios.

The dastardly Germans doing the same

I had set things up before most of the players arrived so we were actually able to get the show on the road reasonably quickly. Du Gourmand had not need able to make it, but had generously lent me his copy of the Campaign Book so that we were able to give each side a copy each. Sydney brought his along as well - which speeded things up admirably. 

A soviet excursion party by the River Bug thinking "There are an awful lot of Germans over there."

Over the day we had ten players, some of whom were able to stay for the whole day and others who weren't - but everybody who wanted one got a game. I was happy with that.  One advantage of the single board format rather than our more usual Overlord is that the players can play at their own pace, rather than playing at the pace of the slowest player. 

The German assault started with the traditional drubbing at Bug River.  This is one of the most unbalanced scenarios in the game, so much so that the German player must win by a margin of three medals to count it as a win.  It does run up the German medal count though and Mr. Target really struggled with the Commissar rule. 

The panzers are laying all about them at Brody

Meanwhile, the Soviets at Brody were dealing with a massive penetration of German armour and again were on the back foot from the word go.  Mr E began the game damning the Commissar rule and it was a refrain that lasted for the rest of the day. Brody wasn't quite the kicking that Bug River was, but it was still a German win. 

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Commissar rule. In Memoir '44 each player has a hand of cards which he can use to activate his units.  Each turn he plays a card and then draws another.  The Commissar rule simulates the often crude command arrangements of the Red Army in the early portion of the war, when it struggled to overcome the legacy of the purges, which had stripped it of senior leaders. 

Rather than playing a card from his hand, the Soviet player must take a card and place it under the Commissar chip. This card is then played NEXT turn, where it may have been totally superseded by events. 

"Sergei, does that look like a lot of tanks to you?"

Cut off at Pripet marshes - the Soviets launch a counter attack. 

Kiev - a grudge match between Mr E and Savage

This was, if memory serves, a very tight game. The armoured train proved tough and childhood foes Mr E and Savage, conducted a close fought match.  

I'm no poker player, but I think Comrade Siskey's Ivanskoye counter attack is going rather well. 

As I only had one Commissar button, so Savage produced this thing. 

Lady's and germs that is a gold Kruger-rand. I can only presume he hand forged it from gold he pulled from the teeth of his enemies. 

It's all getting a bit too much for Savage as Mr E takes that last roll of the dice. 

And fluffs it. 

Phew! A win for Team Nazi.

Meanwhile, the Germans mount an amphibious landing on the Baltic islands.  

I was very happy with how this turned out.  The beach landing setup was the first outing of my beach and sea overlays. I made these using a stencil from Litko accessories and felt.  They were laid over the standard green mat and shingle added with cat litter. Ultimately the plan is to try some of the D-Day scenarios, but that might take a little while and the addition of some landing craft. 

If I recall correctly, Siskey had a hard time dealing with the German onslaught.  The combination of an amphibious and a paratrooper assault being too much for his defences. 

Mr. Target is looking distinctly nonplussed at the Gates of Moscow 

It's all very serious here. Sydney versus Lorcan Hibernia McEireanneach

Well he's not happy with that dice roll. 

But even less happier when a German flanking force shows up in his rear. 

And the dice are on fire at the Gates of Moscow. General Creaner and Mr Target can't even look...

After a hard days gaming, we retire to the bar 

The end result was a major German victory.  Looking back on the campaign, the German team were able to stack up a commanding lead in the first few scenarios of the campaign.  As their resources began to peter out, the Soviet numbers began to bear, but the Russians were unable to make up the ground.  This is the second time we've run this campaign and the second German victory.  I wonder perhaps if it might benefit from just a shade of rebalancing, perhaps scoring the Bug River scenario differently might be an idea. 

After the battle, the tidy up. 

I really enjoyed the day, though I'm not sure I would do things the same way again. Because each player was playing his own game against his opponent as an individual and there was no concluding Overlord battle which brought all the players together, I think it lacked some of the shared experience that I've found so rewarding in our other games. 

That said, playing so many individual battles allowed everyone to play at their own pace and ensured that no-one was stranded in a "quiet sector".  There may be a case for a middle ground approach* to a games day which combines a series of two player games with a multi-player Overlord to finish. A series of starters with a main course to finish? 

All the boxes must go back on their shelves before Kinch can declare the game over. 

But dissecting the technical aspects of the day aside- it was an exceptionally pleasant way to spend a few hours in the company of good friends, who turned up and played the game in the best way possible. 

NOTE: I've received a couple of emails wondering where exactly "Joy & Forgetfulness" has been of late and suggesting that I should get a wriggle on and write something. Thank you for taking an interest in the blog - I'm always mildly astonished that people do so, particularly so much so that they take time to write. 

I'm afraid that I will not be able to post to J&F as much as I would like for at least the next couple of months. There are two reasons for this.  The firstly, I've become a father, which is wonderful and of which more later.  Miniature Kinchs demand a great deal of time, which sadly leaves fewer hours in the day to write for you lovely people. 

But secondly and to be honest, the far more limiting factor at present is that I'm recovering from a brain injury.  A confrontation in work in August resulted in me taking a blow to the head from which I have yet to fully recover.  Fortunately, the Good Lord has blessed me with an unusually thick skull so I've avoided all the nastiness of a depressed skull fracture, but it has left me with balance problems, headaches** and even more frustratingly, difficulty concentrating for prolonged periods of time. This has impacted on my reading and, even more maddeningly, on my writing.  I have to ration my attention carefully and make the best use of available resources.  Unfortunately this means that I have to prioritise and J&F has had to take a back seat for a little while.  

Thankfully, there is no permanent brain damage***, but the recovery time is a little longer than I'd hoped.  I'm still writing, just slowly and in small bursts. Facebook is proving a useful means of keeping my hand in in the mean time. 

But J&F is not going anywhere. It's just catching it's breath. 

*Ok, so some days I'm more Anglican than others.
**I will never complain about another hangover ever again, so help me God.
**To quote my darling father, Mr Kinch Senior "How would they tell?"

Saturday, November 5, 2016

US Airborne

Give 'em hell!

Our man in Budapest sent me these pictures of his latest output, some US Airborne which will hopefully be parachuting in in the not to distant future. These will be supplementing my US forces for Memoir '44 and will open up a variety of scenarios set around D-Day and beyond. 

A lot of grenade chucking going on there

Charlies Angel - BAR edition

We're just shooting in all directions...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

British Paratroopers

A collection of prone figures - a PIAT gunner, a rifleman and a Bren gunner

I've had a chance to a little bit of painting over the last few weeks. I've been chipping away a few British paratroopers. I managed to put together sixty or so out of  the plastic stash. These are a mix of Revell and ESCI and I'm quite happy with how they've turned out. 

A PIAT gunner and rifleman take aim

The figures were washed in the dishwasher, then based. I gave each one a coat of PVA and they were then undercoated in white. They were painted in slightly watered down Vallejo acrylic. 

An officer, a radio man and two squaddies. 

I'll mostly be using these for Memoir '44 which has quite a few scenario featuring British paras. Unfortunately, I have not yet got a figure with an umbrella - but wheels are in motion. 

A mix of ESCI and Revell poses. 

Unusually for me, these aren't painted according to instructions from the Battlefront website.  I have some painting instructions scrawled on the back of an envelope, which I presumably got some somewhere - but where exactly is lost to the ravenous sands of time. 

Nameless wargamer - whose notes I have followed.  I salute you Sir. You are a boon to your fellow man and I only regret that I cannot give credit where credit is due.  

The camouflage was a bit of a struggle as I detest painting it, but needs must where the Devil drives and all that.  I just gritted my teeth and ploughed on.  The figures were given a water down wash of Devlin mud as the original colour was quite stark.  I think it's done the trick. 

I particularly like the Bren pose. 

The cats bedroom has changed somewhat
(I must get a lamp shade)

Paratroopers aren't the only things being painted around here at the moment. Sir Harry Flashman's bedroom has changed a little bit - but he seems to be adapting rather well.  Hopefully the new arrivals will like it. 

Another new arrival

This was the most recent new arrival - presumably an advance party. He answers to the name Johann Sebastian Bark.  I think he'll fit in just fine. 

In the mean time, we've been sorting out some pictures for the new room. Probably the most important bit really. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Arthur & Gordon

Arthur (left) and Gordon (right) locked in mortal combat

I'm looking forward to impending fatherhood, but its certainly been a demanding task master.  Mrs Kinch has had a hard time of it, both physically and mentally. Multiple hospital stays have taxed us both, but as we get closer to D-Day things are looking hopeful.  CODENAME ARTHUR & GORDON are hale and hearty, are possessed of the appropriate number of fingers and toes and will be appearing relatively shortly. Albeit not quite as shortly as Mrs Kinch would wish. 

We don't actually know whether they are boys or girls yet and settled on Arthur and Gordon because Twin 1 and Twin 2 just didn't sound right.  

We were at a dinner party and I was asked if we'd given any thought to girls names.  This put me on the spot, as I didn't want to be rude, but it's a matter where we've been playing our cards very close to our chests. So, I said that while "Stephen Sondheim Sir Arthur Wellesley Gordon of Khartoum Kinch" was not a family name, it was certainly traditional and we liked it. 

Somehow Arthur and Gordon stuck.  

As for whether they are boys or girls, my money is on one or the other. I'm hoping for one of each, but that's mainly because I'm terribly indecisive. 

(artists impression, taken from life) 

I've had to cut back on my writing (blog and otherwise) of late, not least because we've been in and out of hospitals, but also because I sustained a head injury in work just over a month ago.  It's made things a bit more difficult, as it is harder to focus and concentrate on tasks. The headaches are definitely getting better. I will never, ever complain about another hangover so long as I live, but I'll be moving a little bit more slowly than usual. Recovery is taking rather longer than we'd hoped.   I'm finding it more difficult to marshal my mental resources and having to ration my attention accordingly. 

That I'm afraid, is why I haven't written up our Barbarossa campaign report or several of the other things that readers very kindly written and inquired about.  I will get to them in time. I have also taken the opportunity to dress up a few old pieces that I had written, but hadn't finished over the years. 

Rest assured J&F will continue chugging along, just at a slightly more leisurely pace than usual. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Farewell Bluebear Jeff

Bluebear Jeff of Saxe Bearstein passed away recently. May perpetual light shine upon him and may he know peace.