Sunday, 3 July 2016

Experiments in artillery or bigger balls?

Experiments in artillery or bigger balls?

For a number of years I have been working on the ‘Vauban and Shandy’ rules that cover sieges in the Lace Wars era; roughly from King William 3rd to the American Rebellion.  Some unkind persons have commented that the rules are taking slightly longer than the Nine Years War; in my defence I can only claim the wisdom of Shelby Foote.  There is only me and some very patient friends doing this, and not the much larger supporting cast of the era in question.

Some of the fits and starts of this project can be seen here on the ‘Vauban and Shandy’ blog, and some splendid games have been played – indeed a mini campaign. 

One particular visit from a friend, let’s call him Tim, resulted in the gift of some large polystyrene balls.  This shows the true depth of camaraderie that Funny Little Wars has created; and is not a case of a group of people dumping their old crap on each other; in places like basements and carparks.

And then, many months later, whilst wondering how these items could be used – the answer appeared.  


1.       First paint the balls and then attach to a trusty cotton wool bud.

2.       Prepare your target – some unpainted Grenadiers.  Note. Please be assured that there are very few unpainted soldiers in my collection.  No more than 1000.  Hence my recent Martin Luther like ‘Confession’, nailed to the door of ‘The Winning Post, Twickenham’, that I will not be buying unpainted figures in the future.  This confession to expire five minutes after the doors open.

3.       Fire the cannon in the usual manner

4.       The results are excellent.  And please note, for those who are thinking, I am not firing this at my beautiful toy soldiers – here are some beautiful toy soldiers being fired at.

Conclusion – an easy, fun and very effective way to simulate cannonball fire.  Where it hits, hits.  And you can add a 6 or 9” roll effect.

Next the 'bigger ball' as a Mortar!

Friday, 1 July 2016

The advance

The Jacobite cavalry swiftly counter attacked and overran the redoubt - as the Williamite line moved forward and into contact.

The firefights were sharp, and deadly, and a second Jacobite cannon was destroyed.

On the right flank the waiting French regulars fired into the advancing Allied infantry.

The advancing General Williamite general staff prepared to cross the river, with a further regiment in support...

With the firefights proving to be very deadly, both sides decided that the game had reached its conclusion.  The Jacobites and French would retire with a large part of their army intact and march to Limerick.  The Williamite forces - with a 3 : 1 artillery advantage would have crossed the river, but the cost would have been prohibitive.  They were therefore content to follow up the Jacobites and await the inevitable siege.

An excellent little game - perfectly balanced - and with everything still to play for in the campaign.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Battle begins

The heavy artillery moved into position on the right wing, with a Company of infantry in support.

 The Dragoons to the left flank deployed to the left wing and moved to the river bank, and received a volley of fire from a waiting Irish Jacobite regiment.

The Dragoons fell back, as both sides conducted more movement hidden by the woods and river obstacles.  Then, a single cannon shot heralded the Attack!

The Dragoons at the bridge, having sited a redoubt, launched a 'forlorn hope' attack over the bridge and along the causeway supported by cavalry....

The Forlorn Hope immediately came under fire from both hedgerows and the redoubt, but against the odds charged home and spiked the gun!  The supporting cavalry retired in the face of the defensive fire - and a rather spectacular hit from artillery on the flank.

As the redoubt was stormed, the entire Allied and Jacobite armies came into view....

'Those heroes of antiquity ne'er saw a cannon ball,
Or knew the force of powder to slay their foes withal.
But our brave boys do know it, and banish all their fears,
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, for the British Grenadiers.
Whene'er we are commanded to storm the palisades,
Our leaders march with fusees, and we with hand grenades.
We throw them from the glacis, about the enemies' ears.
Sing tow, row, row, row, row, row, the British Grenadiers.'

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Captain Shandy returns, again.

Ireland 1689.  As the Kingdom collapses, Captain Shandy returns to the fray.  This time the Battle of the Bog; with King William's army (and Captain Shandy) engaging with the rearguard of a Jacobite Irish and French force on the road to Limerick.   The Jacobite forces being commanded by the Scottish expatriate Le Duc de Pomme Frit.

The battlefield was cut in two by the river - with a bog slowing down the approach to the river.

As dawn broke, cavalry skirmishers were sent forward...and Dragoons dismounted.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Art of Siege - Mines - or the Episode

The tunnel progresses using a grid square system - and this should include at least two angles or changes of direction, which makes estimation of the range slightly more difficult.  The defender can of course 'counter mine'....

Mining and sapping is a serious business, and Captain Shandy called in an expert advisor...

The Mine explodes!  Gosh!

A suitable marker gives the effect of the blast...

 with the neighbouring defenders stunned. If the breach has been made, the attacker will attempt to storm the Ravelin from the forward Saps.

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Art of Siege - Mines - or the Exposition

Working on a suitably Baroque structure, the key theme of the Siege is the reduction of the fortified place - and in particular the 'breach' - that is usually the finale.

This aspect of the siege offers the greatest challenge to the garden wargamer, and therefore it is best that we begin here - because not only is it possible to reproduce, but it also can be a most exciting  part of the whole game....

In this rule test, a French Ravelin is to be reduced:

So, to begin, the Chief Engineer of the Army is summoned, and the distant prospect of the town is surveyed.  The sappers and miners are then given their objective - and the tunnel begins from the rear trench line.

Suitable toy soldiers are useful, but not essential - and a mining company should include between four - six soldiers with an Officer, Sergeant and Cart.

The tunnelling can now begin...and in our most recent siege at Westmalle-Trappist the attackers built two tunnels!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Art of Siege - Prelude

 "when my uncle Toby discovered the transverse zig-zaggery of my father’s approaches towards it, it instantly brought into his mind those he had done duty in, before the gate of St. Nicholas; ---- the idea of which drew of his attention so entirely from the subject in debate, that he and got his right hand to the bell to ring up Trim, to go and fetch his map of Namur, and his compasses and sector along with it, to measure the returning angles of the traverses of that attack, -- but particularly of that one, where he received his wound upon his groin."
The Siege is very much the centre-piece of the Vauban and Shandy wargame.  As the rival Armies march and counter march across the 'chess board' of Flanders it is the defence and the attack of fortified places that is the norm, and the set-piece grand battle that is the exception.

And so it has proved with our humble miniature to date, and Monsieur B reflected that in our four years of playing the game, we have yet to have a general Field Engagement...but it is coming, perhaps in the Spring - and maybe at Landen or Steenqerck?

The siege game has been tremendous fun, and really a game of 'cat of mouse' - and the following dispatches will explore some of the subtleties of staging a siege - both indoors and outdoors, and we shall begin cover the art of Monsieur Vauban, with much zig-zaggery ...

but we begin with that most explosive of subjects - the Mine!