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Sunday, 8 January 2017


It’s a new year and I hope you all have a good one.

I’m going to be concentrating on finishing last year’s projects and hopefully getting a few more games in, all of which will appear on this blog.

Some folk have been kind enough to ask for copies of Have a Heart and At the Ends of Empire which is very gratifying.  

I want to do another test game for each of them and following that I will make a PDF and QRS freely available for both sets for anyone who wants them.  The Army Lists, and I will be adding new ones, will be on this blog should anyone wish to use them.

Sometimes you begin a project and lose interest-usually after spending a lot of money.  I thought my Seven Years War project had gone this way but as if by osmosis it revived itself.   So, with no further ado here are some Austrians.

Regiment Von Browne above and some Croats below.

Here is the redoubtable regiment Botta.

As ever thanks for reading and more very soon.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Some Thoughts on the Highland Way of War

Every now and then there is a discussion on the Highland Charge.  Ethnic tropes and bad history are given an airing, quotes are used without context and people pick their side and dig in for the duration.  Much heat and little light is generated.

I’ve been thinking about the Highland Charge and Highlanders at war in general. Let’s start by considering this view from a military man who saw the real thing in the ‘45. 

“(people) that knows the Highlanders…whose way of fighting is to go directly sword in hand at the enemy…any man who has served with the Highlanders knows that they fire but one shot and abandon their firelocks thereafter.  If there be any obstacle that hinders them going on the enemy all is lost.”

O’Sullivan here is talking about the Highland charge. Should the Highlander make contact he crouched behind his targe, brought his sword edge into play and pruned his opponent by lopping off extremities. The heavy basket hilts and a circling motion brought additional weight and velocity to the blows.  The impact was of course horrific for those on the receiving end.  

The charge was delivered in formation, three ranks deep with the leading men covering the followers, and at speed.  The spacing was important both to reduce casualties from incoming fire and to allow each man enough space to fight effectively once the charge went home.  As Jim comments below care was taken to maximise the advantage of ground.

The charge failed at Culloden not least because of the unsuitable ground and resulting overcrowding of the clansmen.

So we can see that the Highlanders actually needed good ground to deliver their particular brand of martial magic to good effect.  Significantly a generation later and a world away Highland charges in the Mohawk Valley always failed.

Little attention is given to missilery despite it being an integral part of the Highland military doctrine.  The hunting Highland gentry tended to be be good shots with lots of practice behind them.   When facing formed regular troops they liked to try and provoke an early volley from their opponents by potting a few. If they succeeded they could charge in relative safety.  What they could not do was match the rate of fire of regulars and wherever possible they tried to avoid such contests.

Why men so famed for their close fighting should emphasise missilery is interesting to consider.  I take the view that it stems from the Viking influence on the Isles and adjoining mainland Scotland and that it was an integral part of the Highland military tradition. 

Troops from the Highlands and Isles on the evidence of records of their battle performance in the Nine Years War in Ireland were bow and sword armed high quality assault troops. Like the Irish they quickly took up firearms which pretty much takes us to the popular image of the Highlander.

I'm minded to model the foregoing by giving the Highlanders a high fire effectiveness but a low rate of fire and once a charge has taken place no firepower at all. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

More for the Carlist War

There is apparently a delay at the Designer’s end in the next tranche of QRF Carlist War figures although some of the new models have already arrived. While I wait with no little anticipation I am pressing on with what I have to hand. 

A base of QRF Centre Company Cristinos.  You can see why I’m so keen to see the new releases. 

More Carlists here. 

Here we have Brigadier Charlie FitzGerald with some BAL Rifles.  He seems to have added a non- regulation green plume to his hat all the better to get the Munster boys to charge entrenched positions.

Below these Old Glory Mexicans are standing in for the British equipped Chapelgorri in their distinctive red Shakos. Barring the non -Spanish cartridge box they are a good match.

More Carlist War stuff as soon as it arrives.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Scotland Is the Key

Or so many of King James the Second’s commanders believed.  Certainly, had he secured Scotland and struck for Newcastle to indict the Coal Trade Prince William might have gone home to think again.  As it was James didn’t concur and William conquered the islands.  It is a great ‘what if’ though and one I intend to get around to next year.

All the regular soldiers here are from Irregular and the Highlanders are from a wide range of manufacturers. 

A Williamite Regiment above and a Jacobite one below.

The pics are taken in artificial light with a flash and honestly don’t do justice to the figures. The flags are a mixture with at least two of them from Ray at Don’t Throw a 1.  If you are interested in the Wars of the League of Augsburg check out his blog.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Better Late Than Never

About 7 years ago there was a flurry of excitement among C19th Wargamers as the Carlist War hove into view in the form of some excellent figures from the Perry Brothers and a first class supporting book from Conrad Cairns.

In my time, I’ve thrilled at the sight of the Rias of Galicia, poured Cider libations in Asturias and delighted in the Basque country but it was all 28mm and so it passed me by.  Until now that is.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed QRF had produced some 15mm figures for the First Carlist War.  I enquired about the new range and Chas told me

 “We intend to have the Cristino command – and flank Companies, in production within a fortnight.  These will be followed by Carlist infantry.  The intention is to have a range similar to the old 28mm rang that we used to make some years ago, so we will be doing French and British Legions, plus cavalry and artillery and possibly the Portuguese too.”

As a 15mm gamer you could not ask for more and I know from experience QRF always deliver so no fear of half completed armies. I ordered some figures and you can see some of them here.

I also bought the Cairns book from the Perry’s-great service and a fair price. The book is just what’s needed for anyone coming new to the period.

I also had a poke about the Bits Box and assembled enough figures (Black Hat) to make up three Cristino battalions.  You can see one of Cazadores here.

Finally, I ordered some British from ERM for the Irish Brigade of the British Auxiliary Legion. You can see one unit of them here.

The flags shown are all from Steve at who kindly makes them freely available.

All in all, a good start I think.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Next Play Test

As you know I was happy with the last play test of At the Ends of Empire but I feel the need to try the mechanisms further before I’m fully satisfied.

The next play test will be another away game for the Romans this time against Sasanian Persia.  Getting a grip on how Persian armies worked is a bit tricky as academic opinion varies and changes.  Some things seem clear enough we are certainly talking about major missilery and lots of armour, more in fact than the Romans, nor were the Persians afraid of close fighting.  They also had elephants which the Romans loathed. 

To this we can add large numbers of very agile horse archers recruited from the nomad population of the Persian Empire.

The Persian cavalry had the edge on their Roman counterparts until the latter adopted the Hunnic bow and up armoured.

The Roman infantry was good and seems to have thought nothing of attacking the Persian cavalry.  The Persians had some good infantry but mostly they were not fit to stand up to the Legions in a close fight.

I’m inclined to think this should be a big battle with lots of troops on the table.  More soon.

Monday, 7 November 2016


The purpose of a play test is to see how things work or don’t, as the case might be.  So how did it go?

Most pleasing for me was that the Drungus and Chariot rules worked, the latter less spectacularly than I might have wished, but it seamlessly delivered both a missile platform and battle taxi.  

The Drungus showed its strength, and the reasons for its longevity, when an unarmoured unit of Roman cavalry sent twice its number of Pict spear men reeling back at no loss to itself.  It showed its weakness when the same cavalry got emmeshed in a second group of Pict spearmen and lost half its fighting strength.

The Legions did what they were supposed to do and routed everyone in front of them-but they were trained and armoured and fighting unarmoured part timers.

Unarmoured Roman close fighters didn’t do as well but could still take on greater numbers and if not prevail at least hold their own.  The artillery wasn't ready but it will be there next time.

Archery worked but unarmoured archers were vulnerable to both Missilery and Melee.
Armour and luck allowed the Roman cavalry survive against twice their number of equally well motivated and skilled but unarmoured, and in dice terms unlucky, Drungus using Pict noble cavalry. I’m comfortable with that level of combat uncertainty.

The Picts won in terms of holding the field and achieving their own pre-declared battle objectives but they lost two units and had the Romans not ran out of steam (Army Morale Points) would have lost more.  

The terrain fought for the Picts as it should for any competent defending force.

Leaders had to work to keep their troops fighting and surprisingly none of them were killed.

The Romans did not lose a single unit but might have lost the Army had they continued beyond their last Army Morale Point.  As it was, a despatch home might have said something like “I Remain in the field having inflicted losses on the enemy”.

I’m happy with At the Ends of Empire so far, but the true test will be a much bigger expedition into Persia against a very different enemy.