Sunday, June 19, 2022

Battle at La Purísima bridge

I was hoping Saturday would be the first lawn game of 2022. But the lawn was still a little to wet from the previous day's rain and the clouds looked threatening. So, since there were only 3 of us, we moved the game inside.


We played a Mexican - American War scenario using the Rebels and Patriots rules. The scenario was loosely based on the Battle of Monterrey with the Americans attacking a fortified position to try to take a canal bridge to get into the city. Historically, the Americans attacked a little further to the east and also had a outflanking maneuver to the west that forced the Mexicans to abandon their positions on the edge of the city and move into the city.


I played the Mexicans against two American commands. Here is an overview of the initial positions of the attack, where you can see the bridge.

Overview of the battlefield with the Americans on the right.

I had an infantry unit and light artillery in the redoubt, with a few more infantry units and a light cavalry coming up as reinforcements (all the Mexican units were rated as poor shooters, which showed in the game). The Americans had six infantry units, one light artillery, and a unit of dragoons.

Troops in the redoubt
Mexican reinforcements
The American right side, with 3 infantry and dragoons
The American left with 3 infantry and light artillery

The first few turns the Americans advanced and fire went back and forth without any major damage to either side. Then American commander on the left ordered his infantry into Close Order formations and began using volley fire, which began to take a toll on the Mexicans in the redoubt.

American left pouring fire into the redoubt

The Mexican reinforcements were moving slowly (several failed activations, including a double 1 followed by another 1 forcing the unit to shoot at a friendly unit). The Mexican light cavalry put in an appearance, but was quickly destroyed (I made a poor tactical deployment). One of the reinforcement infantry units did make it to the bridge.

The Mexican light cavalry puts in an appearance
And are quickly shot to pieces
The colonel leads one infantry unit across the bridge
The other Mexicans mill about smartly near the cantina

After that, the Mexican dice went a little cold.


On the other side, the American dragoons went on the attack and finished off the Mexican cavalry. Then the charged the infantry that had crossed the bridge and destroyed that unit.

Dragoons finish off the cavalry
Then charge the recently disordered infantry

The troops in the redoubt rout, leaving on the artillery
The dragoons followed that up by charging across the bridge and pushing back the other Mexican reinforcements

The brave dragoons win the day

By this time the troops in the redoubt had been shot up or routed. This made it a complete American victory with light loses and a very bad day for the Mexicans.


It was a fun game (even with the bad die rolls). We are expecting to get in some more Mexican - American War games in the future.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

IJN Cruiser Agano

In my last post I ran a tease about me getting back to painting some ships. I'm working with my friend Kevin on some 1/1200 scale ships for some small night battles. As part of my contribution I ordered some 3D printed ships from XP Forge. I started off with a small order of resin printed ships, picking the American cruiser Salt Lake City, the IJN cruiser Agano, and some American destroyers. The main reason I chose the cruisers is that they aren't available in 1/1200 scale from Superior (through Alnavco), but they seem like useful ships for Pacific battles. Kevin would like to do the Battle of Komandorski Islands, which features Salt Lake City, and I would like to do the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, which features Agano (yes, I know that is probably too large for 1/1200 scale, but it could be broken down into parts). 

The 3D printed ships arrived without any issues and are completely useful for games as is. But the masts for most of the ships are a little bulky compared to the rest of the ship details. I considered making some adjustments to the ships (replacing most masts and cranes). But before I did that I decided to paint up one ship to see if I could use paint to add more details. I decided to go with Agano, since it seemed to have the least mast problems. Here is how she appeared before I started painting.

Agano out of the box
I grabbed my box of Lifecolor Imperial Japan Navy WWII paints (a good box to have on hand) and pulled out Kure Grey and Linoleum Deck. I used those as my main colors, with a few other colors (scale black, canvas, etc.) to round out the model. As I mentioned, I was trying to see what I could do with just paints to make it look good. 
Lifecolor IJN paint set 1

The basic painting went pretty smoothly. Then I began looking at how to add some details. I did some work on the floatplane deck and catapult. Then I added some canvas on the main guns and some windows for the bridge. Overall, I think it turned out pretty well and is certainly good enough for gaming. I could have done a little more weathering or added some more details, but I'm not sure how much it wold have added. Here are some photos from different angles, starting with the port side, so you can compare it to the unpainted photo above. 

Agano - port side view

port forward-quarter view

port rear-quarter view

starboard side view

starboard forward-quarter view

Even with this result, I feel like I need to make some modifications to the other ships. The more I look at the masts, the more out-sized they look. My plan is to clip them off and add change them to thinner wire. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Saga Normans

In my previous post I mentioned that I had picked up a Norman army for Saga. I spent the better part of the month working on the troops and I finished basing up the foot units this weekend. The mounted units are still a WIP, but I wanted to put up a post to show that I am making progress.

I had purchased a Gripping Beast boxed 4 point and added a group of warriors. The army box comes with two mounted Hearthguard units (each with four figures), one warrior unit armed with crossbows (with eight figures), a 12 figure levy unit with bows, and a mounted leader. Here is a group photo of the foot units.

Norman foot units with crossbows (left), warriors (right), and levy archers (center forward)

Here are a few closer photos of the units. First up the levy archers. The Norman army looks to be a shooting and mounted charge type of army, so the archers will play a big role in a game.

Archers ready to use that Volley Fire action
The crossbowmen are included in the army and fit with the shooting style. But the rule that crossbows can't shoot without taking another action may limit their usefulness. Some of the stuff I've read online suggests that crossbows may not be the best choice in a low point game.
Crossbows ready to shoot, hoping the +1 shooting bonus is worth it
Finally, here is my warrior unit. This is not part of the 4 point army box, but most of the people in the area that play go with 5 or 6 point armies, so I thought I would add them in. They also gave me a chance to practice putting shield transfers on kite shields.
Warriors ready to mix it up
The shield transfers are from Little Big Men Studios and are designed to fit on the Gripping Beast shields. The transfers look suitably battle-worn. I was really pleased with how they turned out.

I've still got some work to do to finish up the mounted figures, but they are close. I'll get photos of them up when they are done. Eventually I'll round out the army by adding a unit of mounted javelins and bannerman to go with the leader. But that will be a later project, since I have a couple other projects on deck. One is finishing up my Mexican troops for our group Mexican - American War project and the other is some 1/1200 ships. My friend Kevin recently came into possession of a plethora of Superior 1/1200 ships. So we are looking at doing some small night action battles in the scale. We'll see how that goes, but it did get me to order some 3D printed ships to go with the project. But more on that later.

Back to the shipyard!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

April Roundup

After a couple good gaming weekends in March, things slowed down in April. In amongst other things I had to take care of, I was able to paint up some ships and play a game of Saga.

Since this blog is named Naval Gazing, it seems best to start with the ships. I finally got back to working ships for the planned Battle of Lissa games (early playtest photos here). I have five ships I'm working on: Re Di Portogallo (that's the big one in the middle below), Ancona, San Martino (both Regina Maris Pia ironclads), Varese, and Palestro (the smaller ships). All the ships are 1/600 scale from Bay Area Yards. Here they are after the initial paint work. 

Lissa ships ready for fitting out
After the paint work, I started putting together masts for the ships. They didn't come with any, so I had to make my own out of plastic rod. Here are a couple of photo with masts.
All masted up

Grouped a little closer, so you can see the masts a little better

As far as I can tell, the ships were all jackass-barque rigged. Meaning they were partially fore-aft rigged and partially square-rigged. With the masts in place, the next step is adding ratlines and rigging. 

In the middle of the month, one of my gaming group said that they were putting together a Saga army. All of the sudden several others chimed in that they already had armies and it was off to a new project. The base rules of the game are pretty easy, the real meat of the game comes from the faction battle boards. The battle boards give each faction their own advantages and actions. Players roll Saga dice and place them on their battle board to activate units and gain advantages in movement and combat. Most of the group already had armies for the Viking era, so I decided to get in with a Norman army. I chose the Normans because there was only one other person in group with Normans and I thought they could always double as Crusaders. While my army was on order, I had a chance to play my first game with a borrowed army. We started with 4-player game with two Viking armies up against an Anglo-Saxon army and Norse Gael army. I was one of the Vikings and faced off against the Anglo-Saxons.

The setup from the Anglo-Saxon view
I had some archers, a couple warrior groups, and a couple Hearthguards (aka Hirdmen). I was the least experienced player and was just trying to figure out how everything worked together. I did start off with some good early shooting dice for my archers. 
My borrowed Vikings looking for some leadership
One thing I didn't appreciate when we started was how different the battle boards are. The Vikings are a pretty basic melee army. The Anglo-Saxons are more of a big unit, sit and wait type army (I'm sure more experienced players will tell me I'm wrong, but that was how this battle went). After my initial success with shooting, I moved in for melee and my dice went cold. I threw my forces against the Anglo-Saxon shieldwall and bounced back. I know I made some mistakes in my attacks (they were too spread out) and my poor understanding of my opponent's capabilities compounded my mistakes.
Now there are a lot fewer Vikings looking for a leader
It was good to try out the rules, but I'm glad I didn't get a Viking army. The Normans have more shooters and charge/melee options, which I think will better suit how I play games.

On a personal note, April was a little more challenging. I had some test results that concerned my oncologist, so I went in for a CT scan and bone scan. The scans showed that my cancer was growing again. My oncologist recommended we start a new chemotherapy series as soon as possible (I had my first series last summer after my initial cancer diagnosis). So, I'm back in treatment and it will last until late July. This series will use some more powerful chemicals. In addition to the normal fatigue side-effects, it will really affect my immune system. That means I'll have to avoid large groups of people (especially if they are a little sick) until August. So, I won't be able to attend the Enfilade gaming convention in May. I had been hoping to attend for the first time in 2 years (technically, the 2020 convention was cancelled), but no dice this year. I was planning to help out with the Lissa game and the group decided to post-pone it until I can be there to help out. Needless to say, my gaming will be somewhat limited until August. But I still plan on painting and getting in a few small game sessions.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Down Mexico Way

On Saturday a group of us got together for the first big battle with our Mexican - American War figures. We started the project late last summer (I talked about it some in this blog post) and there was a smaller battle in February (from Kevin’s blog), but this was the first time most of us had gotten figures on the table. We were using the Rebels and Patriots rules from Osprey for the game. 

Dragoon charge at Recasa de la Palma
U.S. Dragoons charge Mexican artillery at Resaca de la Palma (U.S. Army in Action series from wikimedia commons)

I set up a game area loosely based on the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. We had six players, three on each side. The Mexican left set up to defend a small trail, the Mexican center was on the southern side of the Resacas, near the small hacienda, and the right was set up in front of the Americans. On the American side, the right flank set up to engage the Mexicans defending the trail, the left flank moved to engage the Mexican right, and the center group (me) was split between the two.

Initial setup for the Mexican left

View from the Mexican center

The game started inauspiciously for the Americans, with my first activation roll for my artillery went badly, forcing my artillery to shoot at American troops (I only caused 2 casualties, but at the end of turn 1 I was the best Mexican General).

The Mexican left played aggressively on the trail, trying to cross the resacas. This tied up the American right flank troops and some of mine. The Mexican right effectively stood their ground, inflicting casualties as the Americans advanced

Americans attacking the trail defenders

Americans moving up the road

Fairly early in the game the Mexican right rolled a double activation and used his light cavalry to charge my artillery. The cavalry killed forced me back with no losses. But the next turn my gun did some damage and then the American dragoons finished them off.

Mexican light cavalry on the charge

The Mexican center patiently waited for the Americans to come into range.

Mexican center waiting for the Americans

While the Mexican left tried to advance but was met with a steady wall of firepower from the Americans.

Mexicans advancing up the trail
Americans taking on the Mexican left
More fighting near the trail

The Americans continued to move up on their left and center. I had difficulty with my activations most of the day (I even rolled another friendly fire incident with some of my infantry firing on my artillery). I did get a few good hits in, but could never force the Mexicans back, they always bent instead of breaking.

Americans advancing into the Mexican right
More Americans trying to get into action
The Mexican right waits for the Americans

As we were approaching the end of the game, the Mexican cavalry in the center tried to charge my disordered infantry but came up just short and then stalled while I rolled off my disorder and shot up the cavalry with infantry and artillery, forcing them to retreat.

Mexican center sniping at the Americans
Mexican cavalry barely fails to make contact
American fire drives off the cavalry

On the American right (Mexican left) the American finally cleared out the trail. But the Americans were not able to clear out the crossing with the main road. 

The Americans clear out the trail
Game end, the Mexican still hold the main road

The Mexican right and left were pretty decimated at the end of the game, but the Mexicans held all the objectives. So, it was a Pyrrhic victory for the Mexicans. 


Overall, the game played well. The Americans are sort of squeezed at the start, but the Mexicans have a lot of area to defend. We did use equal forces, which gave the Mexicans an advantage (most Rebels and Patriots scenarios only give the on-board defenders 2/3s of the attacking force points). But even with that everyone seemed to think it was worth trying again sometime. 


It was fun to see a project start and come to fruition before petering out. I expect we’ll see these troops out again for some more battles.