The Roaring Northerners are Dave Stewart, John Hill and Iain Robertson; a loose affiliation of tabletop wargamers and figure painters who inhabit the frozen and somewhat soggy wastelands of west central Scotland. Shadowy and secretive, they stoically quest to reduce the scale of the lead mountain that threatens to engulf them all, and perhaps even find the time for the occasional game...
....This is their story

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Contact...Wait Out.

Meanwhile, on the Central Front, the CVR(W) Fox from S&S Models is starting to come together nicely...

The stowage is a mixture of Elhiem and Kingfisher (ex-CMSC) items, which add a bit of interest and flavour to the model. Ordnarily, it should also be practically un-recognisable under layers of scrim, hessian and foliage; but since this is a gaming piece, I prefer that they should be instantly recognisable to both friend and foe as to what it is at a glance, so tend to hold back on the weathering and camouflage...


A Small Surprise..

Well, since Skulking Badger's scouts have betrayed the presence of artillery in Major Robertson's camp to Chef d'Battalion Stewart, I thought I may aswell provide a sneak preview!

Perry Miniatures 3pdr Butterfly Gun with Royal Artillery crew. The gun itself is still silver and in several pieces...

However, one of the joys of the period is that there are many manufacturers of period artillery without crews, so I can still keep Stewart guessing as to what exactly is going to turn up on the other side of the board...


Wednesday’s Game- Muskets & Tomahawks

Last night saw a remarkably bloody and decisive run-out of Muskets and Tomahawks up at the East Kilbride club, fought between the British, under my control, and the French and their Native allies, under John’s command. Dave gained (suffered?) a field promotion to Umpire, and was given command of the rulebook and activation cards.

In all the time we’ve been playing these rules, I’ve yet to come across a result which has produced so decisive a result, so quickly (our usual slug-fests normally last about 5 hours or so before we’re forced to start tallying up victory points and likely conclusions), whereas this time round, a clear victory was won by John in about two hours, amidst a flurry of tomahawks, knives and war-whoops.

It all started ordinarily enough, with the French on one side of a wooded ridgeline, and the British on t’other; the idea of the game being that this would take the form of a meeting engagement between the two sides, trying to wrest control of said ridgeline to secure victory. However, I should probably have realised that it was all going to go horribly wrong for me when John started individually briefing each figure on the part it was expected to play in the coming battle…

With a few well timed activation cards (one day we will get round to translating the word “shuffle” into Cumbrian for Card-Sharp Stewart, who was obviously reliving his time spent on the river paddle steamers on the Rio Solway…) , the French forces (or rather Native forces, as the actual French units managed to avoid any sort of warlike enterprise in the course of the entire game) surged forward and took an early lead onto the ridge. The Indians showing their superiority in traversing the rough ground of the backwoods, leaving the closest matched British unit, the Queen’s Rangers, toiling in their wake…

The Rangers find themselves in a bit of a predicament at the foot of the outcrop, with the Indians lurking at the top…

Meanwhile, the British found their right flank being turned by another enterprising war-party, who quickly put the ever-shaky Colonial Militia to rout, having forgone any attempts at a musketry duel, and went straight forward to settle the matter in hand to hand combat. This was to prove something of a theme for the evening…

The Word of God is read out, and the dice-bearing Hand of Doom descends on the battlefield, as the Indians on the outcrop mimic their fellows and charge down upon the unfortunate rangers at the foot of the hill…

…The ensuing combat being brief and bloody. The rangers are quickly put to flight by the Indians, who start eyeing up the Cumbrians advancing towards them.

The Cumbrians of the 34th Foot were next in line to feel the wrath of the Indians. Maddened with blood-lust, the Indians managed to completely destroy the somewhat surprised redcoat regiment in one short, brutal round of melee.

The remaining Rangers, completely over-awed by the slaughter they’ve just witnessed, continue their dash to the board edge…

…whilst the 23rd Fusiliers, their colours flapping in the wind and the solitary drummer desperately trying to batter out “Men of Harlech” on his own, find themselves the only British unit left in good order (and pretty much in existence, in fact).  They take aim at the Indians moving through the village, and prepare to sell their lives dearly.

The dead-box was not looking good for the British at this point; having started with 5 units on the table, they’d now got 4 of those units almost completely in the box.

“Steady boys, mark your targets…” the stalwart Taffs now have three war-parties charging towards them, as well as the galling (if ineffective) fire of some French sharpshooters lurking amongst the woods.

This has the predictable result of producing a pile of dead redcoats, and a leaving a rather concerned subaltern on his tod.  This was entirely understandable, given he had Indians to his rear (stop sniggering at the back, Stewart.)…

And more Indians behind them…

And yet more Indians behind them.

At this point it was plainly obvious that the British had been roundly beaten, if not outright annihilated, and so matters were brought to a close. A well fought and expertly conducted victory for John, and once again the British (or at least what was left of them) were sent home with their tails between their legs, whilst Skulking Badger’s jubilant braves dragged the surviving officer off to set fire to him between two trees…

A clear lesson, then, in showing what the Indians can achieve when let loose and got into melee as quickly as possible, rather than getting bogged down into shooting matches with regulars.  The melee system of Muskets & Tomahawks works well, in allowing the players to resolve a combat in a considered manner, using common sense conventions and reactions to conclude matters without them turning into Pike Block Tetris, and certainly adds to the flow of the game. It certainly shows how a well conducted charge could tip the scales in an engagement, as in this one, the British line folded like a house of cards under the Natives’ furious onslaught. Certainly, such rushes are aided by sympathetic terrain layout; it would probably tip the odds too far the other way to have the Indians assault a formed British line in open country and come under a few activations’ worth of volley fire; however, it would have been interesting to see how matters panned out, had I not advanced the regulars so close up behind the Rangers into the tree-line, but had held them back and kept some distance between them and the Indians erupting from the ridge…

So, beyond sticking to open-field engagements, how could we look at countering these tactics? The most obvious would be to give the Brits some Indians of their own, and let them fight it out amongst themselves. However, this could pose two problems; a) we forget whose Indians are whose and b) the possibility of a sort of separate “battle within a battle” arising, with the two opposing tribes simply engaging their own private encounter, distinct from the battle as a whole. Whilst this would be perfectly accurate and characterful, in the limited time we usually have available, it may simply serve to just snarl up proceedings and drag the whole thing out. It does, however, provide some interesting food for thought for bigger games, perhaps combining more participants, and possibly a second deck of activation cards…

Beyond that then, other options are increasingly sounding like introducing some home-grown savages into the mix, and unleashing the Highlanders, or even giving the British a cannon.  This brings with it its own issues; a cannon ain’t exactly mobile, and may simply serve to tie the British line down, or suffer the consequences of moving without it, and risking losing the unsupported gun to a determined rush by the Indians. Possibilities, possibilities…

All in all, another evening well spent with good company, pushing lead about and binging on tea and biscuits! Looking forward to hopefully getting the 15mm ancients out next week, and seeing what that brings...


Friday, 14 February 2014

20mm Cold War Czechoslovaks.

First attempts to add to Iain's growing Cold War stockpiles.
Really needs more work, but coming along.
Elhiem 20mm.

As ever comments gratefully received.



Tuesday, 4 February 2014

1914 Game.

More stuff from the vaults.
This time figures painted for a very early 1914 game.
This game was demoed at Dumfries show Three years ago.
These guys may get another run out soon, in honour of the anniversary.

All soft headgear, vim and vigour.

Each 1000 man Battalion which marched off the transport ships in France in August 1914 was reduced in a mere six weeks of action to, on average, 1 officer and 36 men as effective combatants.
Many Battalions simply ceased to exist. In doing so they imposed appalling casualties on their opponents and against all the odds held the line with their allies.

The more I read about that first few weeks the more remarkable the achievement seems.

A mixture of Great War Miniatures and Musketeer Miniatures figures. 28mm.

First, British Lancers.

Next 13 pounder and crew.

D sect, 4 Pln, A Coy, 1st Btn, The Gordon Highlanders.

1st Btn Machine gun section.
At this time only issued as 1 or at the very most 2 per battalion.

A Sect, 1Pln, B Coy, 1stBtn, Royal Sussex Regiment.

As ever comments welcome.