Monday, 19 March 2018

French Indian War Campaign - Game 5

The 5th campaign game was going to be a smaller game than previous. The background for the attack on Fort Stanwix can be found on Jonathan's Palouse Wargaming Journal.

Attack on Fort Stanwix
The orders of battle. Each campaign regiment (in brackets) is represented on the tabletop by 3 units.

No named commander
3 (1) Regulars
1 Artillery based in the fort
Army resolve = 3

Commander Drucour (A0D1)
3 (1) Regulars
3 (1) Militia
Army resolve = 7

The British forces were all deployed in Fort. The French deployed south of the fort with the intent of conducting a straight forward assault on the fort with all units.

The game was setup on a 4x4 foot space with the Mohawk River on the East flank and woods and a hill on the West flank.

Table setup with British defenders waiting in the fort 
French forces turn up ready for the assault
British defenders open fire as French units come into range
Casualties mount on the attackers as the close. The rules halve the range of weapons when attacking units in fortifications. While those units in the fort can re-roll shooting rolls, but must accept their second score.
A milita unit is eliminated. A roll of 3 against their army resolve reminds the attackers the need to push ahead.
A French unit scales the walls after the defending artillery unit is eliminated. British roll a 2 against their meager army resolve of 3. 
British units counterattack and eliminate the French unit - gaining control of the fort again.  The French  resolve is weakening.
A second French unit scales the walls and the British surrender.
Another victory for the French and an important political victory in terms of the campaign. This was quite a fun little game, but has raised a question for me about army resolve when defending a fort. I am now thinking the rules should allow a defending force to increase their army resolve by 2.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Building a star fort - Part 2

Yesterday I spent the whole evening finishing off my star fort with a series of washes and dry brushing. The fort itself has been constructed so it can represent both larger and smaller star forts by adding up to three bastions.

In terms of constraints, the fort construction had to fit and line up with my 6 inch gridded tabletop, and accommodate my troops which are on 4x3 inch bases. This has meant the fort is a tad stylised and geared towards the practicalities of wargaming.

The completed fort with Spencer-Smith miniatures defending
A different configuration of a smaller fort with a supporting redoubt
So, here are the remaining steps I used to complete the fort and its bastions. See the fort construction part 1 post here.

With the fort covered (in the now dry) paper towel small bits of the thinest available balsa wood is randomly stuck on to represent the stone work. You could use cardboard as an alternative, I chose balsa wood as it's a slightly thicker and gets picked out better when dry brushing.
Once all the balsa stonework has been added. The pieces are varnished to provide a seal. Past experience has taught me to always do this step. It stops any later leakage of colour from any components used to construct the terrain piece.
Everything gets a coat of mid-grey paint.
With the construction completed and the base coat of paint dry. The remaining steps are just about apply colour to create some depth, pick out details and give an impression of detail when there is none on the model. My painting style uses quick dry brushing and wash methods and is very loose (and easy).

To break up the mass of grey I added some brown to the grey paint and painted the centre yard and fortification's terreplein (the horizontal surface of a rampart on which cannon are placed and protected by a parapet)
All surfaces now get a wash of black. Sometimes I will do two washes of black to get the darkness I need before building up the colours with dry brushing.
The fort now gets a dry brushing of the original mid-grey. To add some more depth of colour to the terreplein a wash of sandy mid-brown was applied. I did not plan to do this, but it just did not look quite right and something else was needed.
Then using a thinned down black paint the stonework is picked out by going around the balsa stonework pieces and  painting the outline of stonework on the flat surface. I do this quickly with a fine brush trying to avoid any uniformity. You do not need to be too precise, as being precise can jar with the overall look.

The entry gate is painted dark brown, then a mid brown is painted on in strips using a detail brush. Depending upon the look I sometime choose to paint the odd line with a light tan brown to highlight details.

With the thinned black paint dry. I go over the painted stonework with a thinned blue to give a variation to the colour.  While difficult to see it in the pictures it does help to provide some more depth and softens the lines. Finally a light sand colour is lightly dry brushed to pick out edges and add another colour.
I will occasionally continue with dry brushing or washing selected areas where I have missed areas in my haste or some part does not look quite right. But I keep reminding myself this is meant to be a practical piece of wargaming terrain and not to fuss over detail.

A final coat of matt varnish is applied to protect the terrain.
And on to the tabletop
The quick and loose painting of detail gives the right impression when wargaming unless you choose to look closely.

With the fort completed and ready for a French Indian War game. Total cost to build is between $25 to $35 as I pick up all the materials from the local hardware store.

I now need to turn my attention to making the besiegers terrain features of saps and parallels. Storming this fort will be no easy task!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

French Indian War Campaign Game 4 Report

The 3rd battle of Fort William-Henry has a British defending force against a similar sized French force.

For a campaign background and lead up to this battle see Jonathan's blog - Palouse Wargaming Journal.  Units on the table are:

British - Commander Monckton

6 regulars
2 militia
2 Rangers
1 artillery piece in fort

French - Commander Dieskau

6 regulars
2 militia
2 Huron war-band
1 artillery unit

On to the game report...

As the French advance the fort gun opens fire. Fairly accurately for an opening shot.
British regulars push forward in a somewhat disorganised fashion.
Huron war bands move quickly forward to engage the rangers in the hills and their to harass the advancing French line.
The British finally manage to organise their line and are soon engaged by a combination of regulars and militia in the French line.
The Huron war band gets support from French regulars. Their combined fire is taking a toll on the ranger unit.
Meanwhile on the other flank French and British lines are exchanging volleys.
With one ranger unit eliminated the war band moves up swiftly to engage the second ranger unit.
Casualties were mounting on both sides.
Both Huron war bands to move on the remaining ranger unit and free up the supporting regulars so they could move on the flank of the British line.
The French lose a militia unit before the British line prudently retire as their casualties mount.
The rangers are taking heavy casualties, but are able to eliminate one war band unit.
The orderly retirement of the British line proves problematic with some units failing to retire in unison. One unit is left exposed to French musket fire. 
On the British right flank militia units move up to support a hard pressed ranger unit.
The British lose another regular unit. Their army resolve was starting to waver.
A second ranger unit is eliminated and the militia are now facing a couple to advancing regulars and the remaining Huron war band.
The British regulars prepare to retire to the fort.
Militia with supporting fire from the fort hold steady.
British regulars retire to the fort.
Militia units retire after successfully eliminating one of the advancing French regular units with the support of fort artillery. French resolve is weakening, but British army resolve is at the brink of failure.
The loss of a militia unit sees a collapse of British moral and negotiate the surrender of fort William-Henry.
A victory to the French force and their commander Dieskau. The plan to eliminate units outside the fort before moving on the fort proved successful. The Huron war band proved particularly effective in clearing out the ranger threat. Allowing more French regulars to move across and attack the British line, eventually forcing it to retire.

Both sides finish the battle with depleted units, but no destroyed units, and they will be available for future activity in the campaign.

In terms of poor dice rolling. The French artillery shooting was spectacularly ineffective, while British army resolve was quickly whittled away with some high dice scores for each unit eliminated.

So back to Jonathan and the campaign operational moves. I wonder if there will be a 4th battle of Fort Willian-Henry?

Monday, 12 March 2018

French Indian War Campaign Game 4

Game 4 of the French Indian War campaign relay has Fort William-Henry being fought over again. Except this time with slightly larger forces. The campaign background and lead up to this battle can be found at Jonathan's blog - Palouse Wargaming Journal.

The Order of Battle (OB) for this game was larger than previous games which means a reduction in the unit representation of regiments. Past games had one regiment was represented by three units on the tabletop. For this game the two units would represent a regiment. This adjustment was required to fit in with my tabletop size and available units.

French prepare to advance upon Fort William-Henry
Here is the OB with regiments shown in brackets. Both forces were allowed to have one grenadier unit in their regulars, and the French because of the larger OB were allowed an artillery piece.


Commander Monckton (A2D1)
6 units (3) regulars
2 units (1) militia
2 units (1) rangers
1 artillery unit in fort
Army resolve = 11 (1 for each regiment plus 1 for commanders defence quality)


Commander Dieskau (A2D2)
6 units (3) regulars
2 units (1) militia
2 units (1) Huron war-band. A particularly fierce war-band which will get +1 in combat at half range.
1 artillery unit
Army resolve = 12 (1 for each regiment/warband plus 2 for commanders defence quality)
Will the fort change hands again in this 3rd Battle over the fort.
Game setup

The Plans

The British plan having heard the French force has supporting artillery, is to harass any advance using their rangers from the hills and form a defensive line from their regulars to make any French advance as costly as possible.

The French aim to try and tackle the British forces outside the fort before turning their attention to the fort itself. 

Even having dragged an artillery piece along on their march. This will not be an easy battle for the French to win. They are hoping to reduce the British army resolve by eliminating the forces outside the fort and avoid any costly assault on the fort.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Preparing for a siege - building a star fort part 1

The current French Indian War campaign relay with Jonathan of Palouse Wargaming Journal (for campaign background and concept click HERE) may well include a siege game at some point. With that in mind this weekend I decided it was time to get started on building a star fort, well half a star fort, which will be positioned on the edge of the tabletop.

Given my units are all based on 4x3 inch bases and played on a 6 inch square grid, I had to give some though as to how my units will be position in any fort I build. During the week I had sketched out a fort plan and given some thought as to how to build it.

So here is part 1 of my star fort...

MDF sheet cut out to act as the terrain feature base.
Using the MDF as a template multi-use foam board is cut out. In the case of the main fort a centre 6 inch square removed. 
The foam board is stuck using PVA glue to the MDF base.
Once the base MDF and foam board were firmly attached. Half inch triangular wooden dowel was cut out and attached to the top to act as parapets. I don't need to be too precise with my cutting the joins as later in the build process it all gets covered.
Two guerites were added as an after thought. These sentry boxes add to the look of the fort. A gateway entrance has been cut out in the foam board. This photo shows how my based units will fit into the fort once completed.

The next step is to cover the fort in tissue paper and PVA glue (I tend to use kitchen paper towel for this). Then small details are added.
So that is part 1 of the star fort build. My guide during this process and for creating some supporting war-game rules is the book "Fire and Stone - The Science of Fortress Warfare 1660-1860" by Christopher Duffy. There is even a siege war-game in Appendix 3!

Lots of rereading of chapters going on
While I was out in the garden waiting for the PVA glue to dry. I started on the making of a battle mat which will eventually have a hex grid drawn on it. My starting point was some light green curtain material, too light for my liking, but provided a good base for adding some mid green and brown tones.

Watered down mid green paint (5 parts water to 1 part paint) randomly brushed over. This was repeated with the same mix, but with a touch of brown acrylic paint added.
The battle map on the tabletop 
There is sufficient overhang on my 6x4 foot tabletop to allow my existing hills to be used under the mat. Their outline is still clearly visible, useful to know when a unit is on the hill or moving up a slope.
I may will add some more paint in the future. I am just getting used to this which is a bit duller in colour to my Games Workshop purchased mat which I generally use.

Once I am happy with the dappled colour I will mark out a hex grid.