Nobody in Mexico – A Fistful of Lead AAR

We’ve finally managed to unpack most of the boxes from our house move. I’ve settled into a new painting workspace and a nice one it is. It’s a semi-temporary setup: Not a permanent working station, but at least a separate table so I don’t have to pack everything away each time we have dinner. The table will also double as our main gaming table. As we had our nephew over, we decided to break it in with a game of A Fistful of Lead Reloaded.

K. and the kid played the Mexican Revolutionaries. They were supported by Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, controlled by the kid. I had the Federales, supported by the German military advisor Otto Strunz von Blunzenstumpf and an American Mercenary know as Sentenza. The Revolutionaries were intent on liberating the village, which was occupied by the Federales. I set up my figures in the middle of the board, situating one on the church roof to act as a sniper – something that would annoy the attackers quite a bit.

Here are some impressions from the game:

Sniper
My rooftop sniper really annoyed the attackers.
3
Otto and Nobody duel – Nobody won!
streetfighting
Ferocious fighting in the village.
jeffe
My Jeffe in a tight spot.
duel2
Sentenza duelling.

Sentenza turned out to be my meanest guy. In the end, he had two wounds but, despite being armed only with a pistol, he sold his life dearly. Alas, to no avail! The Revolutionaries won and the kid was very happy with a well deserved victory.

A Fistful of Lead is a nice set of rules with a clever activation mechanics. However, despite what’s advertised, it’s not the quickest of games to play, especially with more than two persons. With three persons and a total of 20 figures, it took us five hours to play the game to a conclusion. The lack of proper morale mechanics and the possibility to heal wounds made characters come back even when they were already crippled. I have to admit the game felt a bit drawn out towards the end and had me wishing it would end already – not something that happens too often. However, the kid had a blast and that’s the important thing.

Project Showcase: Naval Landing Party

Last time, I looked at the composition of the Naval Landing Party for Sharp Practice. Today, I want to show you what it looks like on my gaming table.

As always, I used 15mm figures. There are some dedicated American Civil War Marines available in 15mm, but they wear dress uniform with shako which was never worn in battle. For my three groups of Marines, I made do with Peter Pig infantry figures. I especially like the reloading poses, as they show how much time and effort it took to load a musket.

MarinesMarineLeaders

The drummer, the NCO and the officer are from QRF/Freikorp15. I painted the officer in the white summer dress to add some variety.

SailorsSailorLeaders

For the three groups of sailors, I used figures by QRF and Minifigs. I like the Minifigs miniatures a bit better as they are nicer sculpts and have a variety of poses. I painted some of them in a darker skin colour, as up to one fifth of US seamen were African-Americans. The leader figures with the whistles are from QRF, while the guy with the cutlass is a converted Peter Pig naval artilleryman.

Gun

I built the Dahlgren boat howitzer completely from scratch, as there is no model available. The gun crew is from Peter Pig. Those are very nice and versatile figures which can easily be converted.

I’ve also used them for a crew of my 90-day-gunboat which will provide the heavy support for the landing party. The officers are from Peter Pig’s naval ship crew, to be found in their Colonial range. Their uniforms are not a perfect match, but they are close enough.

Finally I made two vignettes for deployment points. The main deployment point was inspired by a period photograph and represents a signalling party. The sailors are again from the Peter Pig naval artillery crew with flags added, while the NCO with the field glasses is from the Union gun crew pack.

Signal

The secondary deployment point shows two sailors foraging. Again Peter Pig naval artillerymen were used, one of which got a chicken from Museum Miniatures (I think).

Forage

I had a lot of fun modelling the Naval Landing Party, as it provided a bit of diversion from the usual ACW painting. We’ve already used them in two games (see here and here for AARs) and they worked quite well. However, my main objective is a large scenario featuring the ship – hopefully, I’ll find an opportunity to stage it sometime during summer.

Moving House… and some ACW images

We are moving house.. again. However, this time it’s within the same city, so if all goes well I’ll be back at the painting and gaming table in no time. In fact, things should actually improve space-wise – there is even the possibility of getting a gaming room. I’ll keep you informed!

Meanwhile, I want to share some American Civil War images I’ve recently come across. First is a photo I found on the fold3 database, towards which Andy Hall pointed me and which has free access until April 15. It’s one of the rare occasions to see sailors operating ashore, here drilling with Dahlgren boat howitzers. The third wheel on the carriage and the drag rope for manhandling the gun can be clearly seen.

Fold3_Page_1_US_Civil_War_Photos_18601865

The sketchbook of USN officer Lewis Kimberley contains an interesting drawing of sailors disembarking such a howitzer.

DisembarkingHowitzer

Moving on to the landlubbers, here we have a curious image (also from fold3) of an US regiment drilling to form square against cavalry. As far as I know, this never happened on the battlefield, but it does give a nice impression of the dimensions of a regimental square.

Fold3_B244_Regiment_formed_in_square_against_Cavalry_Mathew_B_Brady_Collection_of_Civil_War_Photographs

The last image is from the Library of Congress and is one of my favorite Civil War photos, as it shows something that is usually forgotten: namely logistics. Here we have a Union wagon park at Brandy Station.

WagonParkBrandyStation

The neat rows of carts create the impression of a well-organised wagon train – hopefully an auspicious image for our house move…

Command & Colors: Napoleonics

After my very enthusiastic reaction to Command & Colors: Ancients, Virago and Sigur decided to expose me to another variant of Richard Borg’s ingenious series of games. This time, it was to be Command & Colors: Napoleonics. As another mate was also present, we played two parallel games. Virago and Nik had a Peninsular battle while Sigur and I played a scenario from the Austrian Army expansion. Our version of the 1805 Battle of Wertingen pitted me as the French commander against Sigur’s Austrian corps.

pic1

The rules are basically the same and many of the command cards were familiar. Shooting is, of course, more dominant. Terrain is now important, mainly because there is some (in contrast to the empty expanse of the ancient battlefields). Infantry can form squares, which is linked to an interesting mechanic reducing the command cards available for the player – this is supposed to model the loss of flexibility. The change that felt most significant was that attack dice are reduced in proportion to unit losses. While in the ancients version units with only one block left still attack at full strength, in the napoleonics version each block lost also means one die less.

pic2

In our game, the French decided to concentrate on their right flank. This was partly prompted by my deployment and the terrain and partly by the cards I had in my hand. With a combination of heavy cavalry, light infantry and grenadiers, I pretty much rolled up Sigur’s left flank. However, a sharp counter attack by his cavalry forced my infantry into squares, severely limiting my command abilities.

pic3

In the end, three of my infantry units were standing in square. Fortunately, a couple of reckless attacks by my reserve cavalry managed to drive the Austrians out of the town of Wertingen and secured the French victory.

pic4

Having finished our game and Virago and Nik having finished theirs, Nik and I were pitted against each other in a short game of C&C: Ancients. This one I lost rather quickly to the Carthaginians’ nimble and canny light cavalry.

Again I was very impressed by Richard Borg’s design. C&C: Napoleonics was exciting and although a bit slower than the ancients version, it was quick enough to still have time for something else. Working out how to best combine my troops and how to best use my cards was great fun. I did notice that I play those kind of games quite differently than miniature wargames: I play them much more ‘mechanically’ or ‘gamey’, meaning I tend to make quick calculations in my head and weight my chances in a more analytical way than I would in a game of, say, Sharp Practice. This is of course due to the variables being much more transparent – with hexes and fixed movement distances, you know exactly how far you will advance, how far the enemy will be able to advance etc. It feels a bit more like a game of chess in my head, which is something I don’t usually like. However, with the cards and the dice, there is enough friction to render too much planning futile, and the scenarios provide enough of a narrative to keep the game from becoming an empty exercise in abstract problem solving.

And in a rare show of spontaneous spending, I’ve just ordered a second-hand copy of Battle Crythe American Civil War version of C&C. It will hopefully provide me with an easy and simple way to fight some of the larger Civil War actions…