Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Mighty Fortress is our Goal...

Eric has finished the l;atest and hopefully semi-final rfevision of his Vauban's Wars siege rules. I hope to run another playtest of those rules within the next 3-4 weeks. For the last game, I knocked together the components for my Fort very quickly to have it more or less ready for the game. In the time I have had since then I have upgraded the components and added some new elements.

    When it comes to a Vauban Fort in 25/278 mm size, there aren't many great options, especially in the US. Scott Washburn/Paper Terrain makes a really great collection of  Vauban Fort sets in grey stone or brick, but even in paper, to get everything I needed would cost over $150, not to mention the time to put it all together, which I didn't have. Resin, if even available,  would be even more expensive, especially if shipped from the UK. Thus, scratch building it with simple construction was the only viable option for cost and the need for it to be ready within 10 days or so!

The trickiest part would seem to be designing the Bastions. 

Fortunately, our fellow blogger Rafael Pardo provided a nice template in his blog post a number of years back

I edited the diagram to just give a basic template for the bastion, and experimented with some of my figures to get an idea what size I wanted the bastions to be; it worked out that printing the template out about as big as possible on a sheet of standard 8.5 x 11' paper worked out about right. 

The bastion shape was cut out of 1/4" thick foamboard, which I had a lot of from a sale at  Michael's several years back. A little trial and error lead me to make the interior walls about 1.25" tall, and set back about 1 inch from the edges of the Bastion footprint. 

 The interior walls were added using white glue and straight pins. 

During construction it became obvious that I needed to mark the reverse side of the base with the 1" set back as well, so that the pins would go into the walls from below properly (you can see the pinheads if you look closely!). 

From the same sale at Michaels, I had a bunch of 2 inch wide sheets of ? basswood.

My original plan was to use these for the s,loping exterior of the bastion. 

However, it rapidly became evident that this material would be rather a nuisance to work with... so back to Foamboard for the sloping exterior. 2" wide strips wound up being about right. These were then rough fit and cut to size and shape. 

More glue and straight pins... not bad

I then realized that instead of the 2 bastions that I had planned upon, I needed at least four; fortuinatley, once the method was figured out, they were pretty easy to duplicate. 

For some reason, Vauban Fort scratchbuilding has been popular recently; below are two far better efforts than mine:



Of course, 3_D printing for thopse with the equipment, time, and patience is another, more modern way to get to the goal. I certainly had neither time, money, nor patience for that approach, either!

The straight wall sections were made in the same fashion, as well as triangular foot prints for the Ravelins, and everything spray painted dark grey. 

Far from perfect, but functional, and the whole thing was finished in 10 days, and ready for the game last month, which was the key parameter. However, once the game was over, and knowing that I would probably want to run at least one more play test, I started to consider how to improve upon the looks with minimal expenditure of time and money!

During the game, Barry commented that adding some stonework "wallpaper" would be a simple enhancement. I agreed, and found some free images of, well, walls. I liked this one the best, and used it to print my stonework pattern. 

Overview of the Fortress, ready for ther next game!

Zooming in a bit...

The stonework paper is more visible closer in. 

Another view.

I dry brushed the interior parts with some light grey and medium brow paint.

I also needed a quick and inexpensive way to represent the Covered Way and the Glacis, which I didn't bother with for the earlier game. I had bought an 8 foot long length of 1/4 round, 1" molding, figuring I would use it for the Ravelins, but that quickly proved top be a no go. So, I resurrected the idea for the covered way and Glacis!  I sawed off 8" lengths, spray painted them dark brown, glued them to the 8" long by 2" hitherto unused basswood pieces, which were first themselves spray painted medium grey. To add some interest to the interior, I cut craft sticks into 2" lengths and glued them to the inside of the molding pieces to suggest a retaining wall. They were then suitably stained, dry brushed, etc. 

I used lengths of sponge pressed into thin smears of craft  paint to print a stippled effect on the "earth" of the exterior of the "Glacis", using first tan, then a medium orange-brown, and finally a bright green to suggest recent earthworks. I toyed with using flock, sand, water putty etc to texture this, but finally decided any of those would be prone to flake and chip off, and went with durability and functionality first. Still, I think they look pretty respectable.

    Finally, I saw on TMP that Acheson Creations in the US was having a 20% off sale through November 15th. Their range includes a lot of siege suitable items, especially lines of Gabions, so a number of them have been ordered last week, with arrival still pending. Thus the next siege game should be a considerable notch up in style!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Lodestone Modular Buildings, Kickstarter #2

The Lodestone has launched their second Kickstarter. This one runs through November 30th, after which they plan to open their online store.  This version has Raised fantasy buildings, Desert Sci-Fi buildings, and Sci-Fi industrial buildings. Visit their Kickstarter for all the details, including videos and explanations of the Lodestone concept.
 The top image illustrates the three new buildings for the Fantasy range. The external stairs have been reworked so that they can go parallel OR perpendicular to the buildings. 

There is also an added walkway set, which reminds me a bit of an Eowok village.  Here they have also added some elements drawn from the first KS buildings, illustrating the versatility of the Lodestone concept!

I chose this pledge, which gets me one each of the new buildings. 

 I plan to add one extra raised Tower to my other raised buildings...

and a set of walkways to that pledge. 

Details of one of the building components

This is a close up of what the raised building based upon the Large Square Box looks like. 

The new Sci-Fi Desert buildings...

and the Sci-Fi industrial buildings. As illustrated in one of the videos on the Kickstarter site, the "skins" of both of these  can be removed and reassembled to make Sci-Fi style walls.

You can use the Lodestone label on this blog to see a lot more about the buildings from their original Kickstarter The Fantasy buildings look great just as they come out of the box, but a little bit of extra paint "kicks" them up another notch altogether!

UPDATE November 11th: 
The option to get the skins only (without the basic boxes, assuming you have them already) has been added to the choices; this saves about 4 GBP/$6 US per building (and cuts down on shipping cost as well). I might take that option for the extra raised "tower(s)".

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Austrian Infanterie Regiment # 21 - "Prinz Rohan"

The fourth of the five new Austrian regiments is I.R. #21.

From 1808-1810: Infantry Regiment ‘Prinz Rohan’ Nr. 21 (Inhaber: Feldmarschalleutnant Viktor-Ludwig, Prinz Rohan von Guem). Earlier, from 1778 - 1808, Gemmingen, and later from 1810 - 1815 Albrecht, Graf Gyulai.

The regiment was recruited in Bohemia, in the Koniggratz area. 

In 1809, the regiment fought at Ratisbon, Aspern, and Wagram.

The "meergrun" (sea green) facings are depicted as a turquoise shade by some, so I went with that for this unit, which has brass buttons. 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

My, what Big Guns you have!

Some of you commented on the large Siege Mortars seen in my Siege of Badajoz playtest of Eric's Vauban's Wars Siege rules last month. These were a last minute afterthought when I realized that I had nothing to represent them. I then recalled that I had bought these interesting but somewhat odd items 30+ years ago, and they had been moldering around in my basement ever since then. 

Siege Mortar #1. I would estimate these would fit properly with about 54 mm figures.. but they make an impressive show with the 28's!

Siege Mortar #2. All of these had to be cleaned of 3 decades of cobwebs and debris!

A line of field Guns, one severely effected by very authentic verdigris!

One of the unusual things about these guns is that they can all shoot, and each via a different kind of mechanism! That was one of the reason that I bought them years ago, thinking to perhaps use them in a Charlie Sweet style wargame with shooting cannons. 

A pair of two different Renaissance era guns. All of these models also have a pencil sharpener hidden in the carriage!

This ship's gun would make a proper fortress gun for sure; unfortunately, I only bought one of them!

The Ancient era is represented by this Onanger. 

A couple of shots of guns placed in the fortifications...

Just about the right barrel height to shoot over the walls!

This style model works even better; I would probably use the "Field Guns" for the attacjker, and the others for the defenders.

    As for the Fortress, I have greatly improved the looks of the Fortress Walls, Bastions and Ravelins from last week's game (more on that in another post) , and I am working on a solution to represent the Covered Way beyond those. I also need some simple models for 3" Gun Positions, which shouldn't be too hard to come up with; Maybe similar to the solution for the Covered Way. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Austrian Infanterie Regiment #50, "Graf Stain"

The third of the 5 new regiments to join the K. und K army is I.R #50, "Graf Stain". The regiment has violet facings and pewter buttons. 

From 1773-1809 the Inhaber of the regiment was  Feldzugmeister Karl-Leopold, Graf Stain, ); Following the defeat of Austria in the 1809 campaign the regiment was disbanded. It still not yet reformed in 1815.

During the 1809 campaign, the regiment was originally part of the V Corps, commanded by Erzherzog Ludwig; however, it soon became attached to the 1st Reserve Corps under Lichtenstein, and as such saw action at Abensberg, Teugen, and Eggmuhl. The 3rd battalion fought at Ebelsberg.

At Aspern, the first 2 battalions were part of Hohenzollern's II Corps, and it suffered heavy losses in the fighting. The 3rd battalion saw action at Wagram, fighting as part of Radetsky's Division of the IV Corps. The regiment was originally recruited in Upper Austria, and then later West Galicia and Poland.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Vauban's Wars Playtest: The Siege of Badajoz, March - April 1812

The siege of Badajoz was a key event in  Peninsular War, as Wellington was at last moving from the strategic defensive to the offense. It took place from  March 16 - April 6th, 1812. Wellington was eager to get the siege over with as quickly as possible, before any of the advancing French could intervene. Badajoz lies on the river Guadiana, on the frontier between Spain and Portugal. 

French:  Under General de Brigade Armand Philippon 5,000 men
British: Under Earl of Wellington and General Picton  27,000 men

FRENCH (Defenders/Garrison)

Badajoz is rated as a "STRONG" Fortress, with a base defense grade of 6; Thus Gates and Bastions will be class 7 (take 70 hits to breach), Walls Grade 6 (60 hits), and Ravelins Grade 5 (50 hits). 

4 Bastions, 24 Siege purchase Points (6 points for each bastion).

4 Fortress guns in Bastions,  (one in each). (free)
1 Governor (free) (Philippon) LD 12
1 General (free)  LD 10
1 Miner (free)
4 Line Infantry 4 pts
1 Light Infantry  2 pts
1 Grenadier Infantry 2 pts (I forgot to put the Grenadier unit out!)
3 Heavy guns 9 pts
3 Sappers  6 pts
1 Spy 1 pt

Food Supply: As a "Well stocked" Fortress, Badajoz rolled 5 D6 and added 12, and wound up with 28
Supply Die:  D4 (higher is better; D4 is usual for Fortress)
Powder Supply: 10 (D6 plus 6)
Security Die: D8  (can vary from D6 [bad] to D10 [good]). Used to defend against Espionage and some other events. 
Siege Morale Points (SMP): 16 (Low; John rolled... poorly!)
Popular Support Die: D6 (the Spanish populace was indifferent at best to the French Garrison). It probably should have been a D8 (Lot of discontent), maybe even D10 (openly hostile)). 

BRITISH (Attackers/Besiegers)

With the Fortress having 4 bastions/24 points, the attackers will get  twice as many points to spend = 48):

2 Free Siege Guns (1 per 2 bastions)
1 Free Miner
1 Free Commander (Wellington) LD 12+1
1 Free General (picton)  LD 12
4 more Siege artillery 16 pts
4 Sappers  8 pts
1 Spy  1 pt
8 Line Infantry 8 pts
2 Lightt Infantry 4 pts
2 Grenadiers 2 pts (Highlanders/Fusiliers)
1 Guard Infantry 3 pts
Add 1 to Powder Supply  4 pts
2 Heavy Mortars 2 pts

Supply Die: D6 (Average for attackers)
Powder Supply: 13 (D6 +6; Barry rolled well, and had an additional one purchased!)
Security Die: D8 (average)
Siege Morale Points: 30 (average for strength of besieging force).

Early on in the game, British sappers start their saps from the 1st parallel towards the Fortress, as John/Philippon looks on confidently from behind the walls! The 1st parallel is at long range from the Fort. 

Another view early in the siege; the first TWO turns eneded in tied die rolls before any cards were played. Actually, that was a bit historical, as Wellington was delayed for a time by the slowness of the advance of his siege train over the poor Peninsular roads. 

The saps advance; one British sapper has started construction of a segment of the 2nd parallell, at medium range from the Fortress. Disease has taken a heavy toll on the participants, especially the Defenders!

A British sapper has constructed a Gun emplacement (and paid for it with his life; the British lost a LOT of sappers in this game, in part due to an oversight on my part; sappers are an additional DOWN 2 as a target! The first (ineffective) shot has been fired at the walls. Note the Siege Mortar waiting in the 1st parallel. 

 After a lot of losses, the saps have advanced and gun positions have been constructed allowing shelling of two of the Fortresses' Bastions. 

Accurate fire by John's defenders is wreaking havoc on the British gunners (too accurate; they should have been another DOWN 1 as a target!). More Disease thins the ranks and drains the Morale of both Besiegers and Garrison alike. 

The British have made modest progress at battering two of the Bastions, but are a long way from achieving a Breach!

The triangular structures are Ravelins; they must be destroyed before the walls beyond can be targeted. 

 The British guns burn up powder like crazy... as do the French defenders!

Heavy Mortars fire on the town beyond the walls, hoping to shake the Morale of the defenders. In the end, however , it is the British that run out of Siege Morale points first. The siege is lifted, and Wellington must return to Portugal to try again another time!

A short video on the Siege of Badajoz

    I made a LOT of mistakes in running this game, but we still had a blast with it. Eric Burgess's Vauban's Wars rules are nearing their final version, and have developed a lot from the earlier version we had play tested a number of years ago. We will probably do another run of this game soon (with new rolls for the setup, and possibly some minor changes in the forces. I made the fortress walls and Bastions all in the past week, and hope to pretty them up some, plus add representation for the Glacis/Covered Way beyond the ditch for that game.