Friday, 26 August 2016

Fornells Tower, Menorca

This watch tower is another of the defences built by the British during their occupation of Menorca in the 18th century. Fornells Tower is open to the public and a short walk outside the picturesque harbour of Fornells. Quite nice views from the top and a small exhibition inside - you have to ask for the English translation which is available.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Fort Marlborough, Menorca

Another postcard from the holiday on Menorca. The island has quite a few connections with the British who fortified it during their occupation in the 18th century. This is one of the forts which guarded the approach to Mahon harbour. It wasn't easy to get a picture from the outside so these are taken from the inside and remaining walls. It was an interesting place to visit and combined a visit to the Military Museum in Es Castell which I'll also post in  a bit.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Fortress of La Mola, Menorca

This is a bit of a postcard... but I am on a break in Menorca and away from the brushes and toys. As well as sharing my 'beached' body with the world, I have been allowed the nice treat of visiting the 19th century fortress of La Mola which guards the entrance to the port of Mahon on the island. It is an awesome place, having visited a few Victorian forts of our own, this dwarfs most of them. I've not seen or visited any fortification on such a vast scale before - it took hours to follow the tour of the site both above and below ground. It's now entirely abandoned and open to the public but still pixellated out on google satellite for some reason...? Anyway, I thoroughly recommend a visit if you're in the area. I'm still hoping to do a little more military history before my stay is up! Thanks for popping by :)

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Game: Sharp Practice 2 Works!

Our second, and first proper, game of SP2 was remarkably more successful than the first. The rule's systems now becoming embedded and making sense and providing an engaging, often tense and very entertaining game. This was a basically an encounter fight between two similarly sized French and British forces. On paper the British were technically superior in points but not by much. The roll for position found the British forced into the corner between a wood and a farmhouse and the French, in space, having much more room for maneuver and some useful cover which they used well. The British were unable to deploy their formation into a full line. However, it was a close run thing until the French skirmishers struck a mortal blow to the British senior commander. The British were unable to recover and no replacement appeared from the ranks. Numbers proved decisive in the end and the French were able to bring guns to bear quickly and efficiently to deal the killing blows.

The game had about 40-50 figures a side and was easily completed in an evening. The rules were slick and made sense - though I'd highly recommend downloading a quick reference from the net as one is not included in the book. The core 'Lardie' system of leader cards dictating events is great but the additional coloured (red/blue for each side) command cards in the deck gives an extra dimension to the play. When you have a couple of them in your hand it can give you a whole lot of options to ponder and a great many 'what-ifs' to consider - this is a super mechanic. Shall I boost movement? Remove shock or boost firing? Shall I activate this formation now or wait - risking the 'tiffin' card that ends the round? Great stuff! All this without playing with anything more complicated than regular foot... we have yet to explore the role of cavalry and artillery, the characters and the specific missions in the game. So this game will hopefully roll and roll... Thanks for looking!

Major Harcourt, 5th Regiment of Foot, was leading the British detachment as they approached the farmhouse to the south of Pamplona. Spying the French from horseback and urging his troops on from the front proved brave but an error of judgement as the French skirmishers were able to pick him off. He was fatally wounded leaving his troops leaderless at a crucial time.

Captain Richard Blunt, Rifles, was technically under Harcourt's command and had advised him caution before advancing in the face of enemy fire - this was a job for his Rifles, after all! Seeing his commander fall, he was obliged to step in and attempt to steady the wavering redcoats. Unfortunately, he was facing a cunning and implacable foe in the form of the French Colonel Lavatoir who surprised and flanked the leaderless redcoats. 

Frustrated, Blunt is obliged to retire but he is seething at the outcome and thirsts for revenge. No doubt he will get his opportunity soon!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Game: Sharp Practice 2 First Impressions

We played a game of Sharp Practice 2 at the club this week using my collection of Peninsular Napoleonics. We were using two similarly sized forces of French and British who were basically stumbling into each other, getting into a firefight. The idea being to start with something simple enough to get the fundamentals sorted. So while we attempted to 'play', it quickly became more of a muddle through the rule book and a testing out of various mechanics. We found it all began to make sense as we progressed but, as there was so much to take on board, a friendly run through was definitely required. All the basics were smooth enough to grasp quickly but the more complex concepts of leadership, activation and formations took some getting our head around. The game is very much about the control of groups, and groups of groups (or formations), by various ranks of leaders. While the groups do the fighting, it's the leaders that activate them, combine them, improve their performance and alleviate their shock! This all makes good sense and the inevitable 'Lardie-esque' use of cards adds a great random element. There's a lot more of the game to work out so we've decided to run it again next week and give it a chance to embed. One thing I will need to address: how to keep track of and identify the half dozen or so leaders needed for each side on the tabletop? Thanks for popping by :)

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Game: Battle of Castle Blaney

My first battle in the Irish Campaign was a rather dull affair and not without controversy. Briefly, the Covenant forces of Leven and Monro are attempting to link up near Dundalk. Both armies have met opposition in the shape of a combined force of Irish rebels and Royalists blocking their path in a sort of 'your enemy is my enemy' way. My part in the two battles was to force a passage past the enemy blocking the road at Castle Blaney. This was a tedious frontal assault along a narrow front which proved indecisive at best  - the appearance of some Irish, unexpectedly, in my rear forcing me to react and saving the defenders from defeat. Fortunately, Leven - on the other table - was having more success and the day ended at least with a strategic victory for the Scots as the Irish dissipate and the Royalists obliged to retire towards Drogheda.
On to the controversy...
I have put in a request for an 'adjudication' to the umpire on players use of commanders and - what I believe - is a rather liberal interpretation on the 'battalia' system which is not technically in the spirit of the rules. We are using the Pike and Shotte system which implies that an army have a general and each battalia have a separate commander. Both of these cost a set number points and while players may determine the size of their battalia  - they should be allocated commanders. The Irish/Royalists appeared to be fighting with Montrose in sole command and no other commander present. So I am not a happy bunny but before I throw my toys out the cot... I'll wait and see if my interpretation of the rules is correct...! I loathe myself for becoming a quibbler...

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Game: Armada Discussions

Last weeks game was another go at Armada. This time we assembled two 400 point fleets, tournament style, with objectives and attempted to play 'properly'. Of course, playing this type of way (when we haven't a clue what we're doing!) can throw up all sorts of minor rule discrepancies and questions about cards. We came to the conclusion that there are large parts of the text in the rulebook that are really written quite badly! So to cut a long evening's wrangling short: we muddled through a 6 turn game with the Imperials only slightly edging it. We'll take a lot of lessons forward for the next game - including the diagram above - but our enthusiasm is not dampened! In fact, I'll have to stop myself from buying every new release for both sides and perhaps just focus on the Imperials... Thanks for popping by :)