Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Weird And Wonderful Week For Flasheart

Flasheart Vs Sir Andy de Cavenham

It was a very busy week for the naturally dramatic and dashingly good looking Lord (Derek) Tiberius Flasheart, defending his kings honour and promoting his own quality brand of hair products throughout the land.  Following his before mentioned discomfort over his capture of Little Pontefract from the Marquis of Newcastle, and his fracas with the Parliamentarian troops of  Diderich Beckman, Flasheart was again on the move.  This time it was to Devon that he raced; keen to catch the end of the traditional Kingsbridge beauty pageant he arrived to find the forces of Sir Andrew de Cavenham had already pinched the best seats.  This would obviously not do, and despite Sir Andrew’s generous offer to move away quietly Flasheart ordered the attack.  Sir Andrew’s attempt to ‘Breakout’ failed, and as the retreated towards the coast Flasheart was left with the village of Kingsbridge, and an urgent message from a sweat-stained rider that matters at home had gone awry and he needed to return at once.
Flashearts men too the fore, King's Lifeguard in the centre.  Andy's troops were drawn from my collection so it was a very civil war!

Sir Hugh of Beeston Vs the Marquis of Newcastle

What had gone awry was clear when he arrived back in the North Wales area; that notorious cad the Marquis of Newcastle had decided to return Flashearts visit to the North-East with a jaunt of his own to Hawarden, and he had brought his siege train with him.  Even as Flasheart was bawling at a cattle driver while sitting in the inevitable queue that mystically forms around the small village of Birmingham between 7am and 10pm, the Marquis had attacked Hawarden Castle.  Striking it lucky with his opening artillery salvo the geordie Sakers blew the gatehouse doors to match sticks, and followed up with storming parties, pikemen and musketeers scaling the walls and charging the gatehouse.  The castle defenders, led in Flasheart’s absence by his stalwart second; Sir Hugh of Beeston, put up a gallant fight, defeating the forlorn hope that stormed the gatehouse and fending off the musketeers best efforts at gaining a foothold on the walls.  However, the weight of numbers began to tell and Newcastle’s burly pikemen forced their way through the gates while a storming partly scaled the far wall near the keep using grenades to great effect.  The last of the defenders withdrew to the keep and, after a final unsuccessful assault by Newcastle’s troops on this formidable obstacle, peace terms were agreed and Sir Hugh was able to march his remaining troops back to Wrecsam with their weapons.

Newcastle's siege lines around Hawarden Castle.

The defenders - 137pts didn't get you alot of men, so we used 200pts of defenders and 400 of attackers.

Sir Hugh of Beeston spotting for the Royalist mortar 'Roaring Meg'.

The first assault goes in against the gatehouse.

Sir Hugh's men drive them back.

Newcastle's troops breach the gate and a one-sided fight ensues in the castle courtyard.

Meanwhile Newcastle's storming party succeeds in scaling the walls.

Retreat to the keep!

The last, unsuccessful, attack on the keep before Sir Hugh is able to surrender.

Flasheart Vs Sir David Astbury; MP

Newcastle, it seemed, had no interest in holding the castle, and in return for heading back Up North he simply demanded that Flasheart leave the key road the A1 to his sphere of operations.  Flasheart, being the sensible chap that he is, agreed completely and then gave chase hoping to catch the rascal unawares.  He was, however, slowed by his supply train, which also attracted the vast hungry masses of Wigan, lead by the Right Honourable MP for Wigan; Sir David Astbury.  Abandoning his pursuit of Newcastle with the catchy line “I’ll get you next time Newcastle, next time!” the well-groomed Lord Flash turned his troops towards the Parliamentarian MP and engaged in a lively debate that neither could claim to have won.  There was even some fighting.  Sir David’s mounted flanking attack turned up late and stalled against the reckless Cavalier horsemen, and the infantry fought each other to a standstill.  Sir David’s men returned to Wigan, still hungry.  Lord Flasheart’s men returned to Wrecsam, still dashingly good looking and hopping mad with Newcastle.  Flasheart himself took a musket ball to the shoulder and will require some well earned R&R in the nearest tavern and/or red light district before he returns to action.

The Royalist supply wagons that so enticed the masses of Wigan.

A clash of infantry - the King's Lifeguard pike ran for the second time in two battles, having done the same against Sir Andrew de Canham's men.  The Royalist horse were attacked from the left at this point by the flanking enemy horse.

Royalist dragoons hugging hedgerows.

Some pictures of other battles

Sir Chris Fazey's horse on their way to 'Breakout' and win their only victory of the day.

Diderich Beckman's Swedes face James 'Big Jim' McDonald's scots.

Sir Andrew de Cavenham (near side) on his unstopable way to claiming a 3rd (4th?) straight victory against De Blondeville.

 An Insert Of Realism

All of the above translates into the following; firstly a clash with Andy as he sought to ‘Breakout’ as the attacker in the scenario, but lacked the swift troops to make it in time, and left me in possession of the Devon village of Kingsbridge.  Secondly a siege game against Ian, and despite Aidans best intentions and efforts in putting in the scenario and bringing a lovely castle we mostly ignored the restrictions and went all gung-ho with more men than we were supposed to because it looked cool.  I thought Ian would enjoy being able to use his nicely painted multiple storming parties, and my own storming party garrisoned the gatehouse unsuccessfully.  We used some rules I’d tried and tested in ECW siege before, and it all worked very well and produced a cinematic game.  Ian defeated me and claimed a road (the A1 around Weatherby).  Finally my third game was against David, whose infantry were aggressive, but I managed to fight them to a standstill while our cavalry were evenly matched.  A draw.

Flasheart will return.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Storm Breaks and Hawarden Falls

Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smythe surveyed the scattered debris of battle. On all sides the field was littered with abandoned weapons, and armour, a burning wagon here, a broken pike there. Amidst the corpses of men and horses the wounded groaned and whined pitifully. His own men spread out in small groups, helping where they could, and searching for any loot that might have escaped notice. A Lieutenant of De Laneys Dragoon company approached and reported that the enemy were nowhere to be found. Sir Samuel tore off his hat and threw it to the ground in frustration,
"I don't believe it!" he shouted, "Thats the third bloody battle we've missed!"

War has well and truly come to olde Englande with a flurry of battles across the land that have drenched many a field with English blood. In Rutland the forces of D'Hay and Cockchafer (Both played by Mark of Germany), having recently raised their banners, came to blows over control over the regions road network, with Cockchafers Royalists coming a poor second. Four more clashes later in the week saw Little Pontefract declaring its support for the King, and "Digger" Beckman establishing a Spy network but otherwise were largely inconclusive. Two participants became a bit more established having finally taking control of their starting territories- Beckman gaining Glossop, a road and an arsenal, and Big Jim Mcdonald gaining support from Dunfermline and nearby Crossford, and establishing a measure of control over the local roads.

With so many players now on the board war could commence in earnest and in a series of marches and counter marches, a succession of battles occurred as several forces blundered into each other. Many were simply caught out and forced to deploy straight into battle , those commanders with better organised scouts were able to lay traps for their enemy, ambushing them with outflanking reserves. The ebb and flow of this series of battles defies easy description suffice to say that in all the confusion Winwick changed hands, Sir Christopher's reputation as a leading commander of Horse took a bit of a knock, several commanders were severely inconvenienced by De Blondevilles pet assassin, Stapleton-Smythe marched from battlefield to battlefield and arrived to late to participate in any of them, and that wastrel Flasheart managed to lose Harwarden Castle to the Marquis of Newcastle when he was supposed to be attacking it!  He was a bit sheepish when this mistake was pointed out to him, admitting that lending Newcastle his stash of siege equipment to aid his assault was an "unfortunate error".

The Petard was against the gates- The Forlorn Hope were sheltering at the bottom of the wall where the garrisons musketry struggled to reach them; only moments now, and his men would be in. Turning in the saddle the Marquis of Newcastle spoke to a nearby Aide;
"I say, Awfully sporting of old Flashy to lend us his siege kit, what?" and put his spy glass up to his eye to see Lord Flasheart atop Hawarden's Keep, raging, shaking his fists, and miming what he intended to do to  the Marquis when he got his hands on him. The apoplectic figure was suddenly eclipsed by a column of fire and smoke as the Petard went off; the gates were torn to splinters, the rampart above gave way, and the ancient and battered walls either side admitted defeat in their centuries long struggle with gravity.
The Marquis frowned as he surveyed the wreckage of the gateway, and turned to his Aide with eyebrow raised. The Aide-de-Camp sighed, and cupped his hands to his mouth;
"You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

This hasn't stopped the Royalists sweeping all before them, the Parliamentarian cause not being helped by only Astbury, the MP for Wigan actually turning up, though he, or his troops at least, gained some valuable experience. De Cavanham seems to be leading the charge with no fewer than 6 territories to his name, representing most of south Devon's military resources, a complex array of drill squares, barracks and magazines and other stores being amassed around Plymouth.  Perhaps a little oddly the Swedes are currently the leading faction with an average of five territories per player, ably assisted by a master assassin, his lethal skills being employed to good effect so far, though his intelligence gathering needs some work.

After such a bloodletting a moment of respite would seem in order, but Sir Stapleton-Smythe is on the warpath, and its not over yet, not by a long shot!

The Story So Far...
Firstly this appears to be more or less the current state of affairs in England one month in, with the Swedes leading the way and the Scots bringing up the rear!

 Summery of Factions, Players and Territories-   total territory points are divided by the number of players in the faction to give the faction score.

Sweden   -5 Territory points overall

  • De Blondeville (Michael) CV8 - Bournemouth (Capital, Town +20pts), Manor (+1 brigadier) and Library (+1CV), plus a Spy Network, Portsmouth (port), and Winwick (village +5 points) - 5 Territory points
Parliament  -3.25 Territory points overall

  • Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smythe (Aidan) CV7- Warrington (capital Town +20pts ), Stockton Heath (village +5 points), and a Library  (+1CV)- 3 Territory points
  • David Astbury MP (Dave) CV8- Wigan (capital, Town+20pts), Leamington Spa (village+5pts), and a Road (+1 to determine 1st turn), and Veterans (Tough Fighters) -3 Territory points
  • Hazlerigg (Ian S) Cv8 - Rockferry (capital, town +20 points) Willaston (village +5 points) and a manor  (+1 brigadier) - 3 Territory points
  • Roland D'Hay (Mark)  Cv8 - Uppingham  (capital, town +20 points), Luffenham (Town +20pts),  Alesthorp (village +5 points) and a Road - 4 Territory points
Royalist - 4.1 Territory points overall
  • Lord Tiberius Flasheart (Rick) CV9 - Wrecsam (capital, town +20 points), Seige equipment cache (allows siege equipment and storming parties etc), Magazine (+2 powder tokens of d3 available) Kingsbridge (village +5 points), and Little Pontefract (village +5 points)- 5 Territory points
  • Marquis of Newcastle  (Ian H)- Cv8 - York (town +20 points), Manor (+1 Brigadier) and 2 Roads  (+1 to determine 1st turn) and a Chapel (include Preacher/Priest) - 5 Territory points
  • General Baldrick (Red)  Cv8 - Knutsford ( Town +20 points), Road (+1 to determine 1st turn)  and an Arsenal (+1 artillery piece) -3 Territory points
  • Sir Christopher Fazey (Chris) CV9 - Flint ( town +20 points), Magazine (+1 powder token of D3 available), and a Library (+1CV) and a Road - 4 Territory points
  •  Sir Andrew de Cavenham Cv8 -  Stonehouse (town +20 points), 2 Drill squares (one unit becomes superbly Drilled), Plymouth (port), Magazine (+3 powder tokens of d3) and a Cache of Siege Equipment (allows siege equipment and storming parties etc) - 6 Territory points
  • Diderich (Digger) Beckman - Cv8- Glossop (town +20 points), Arsenal (allows 1 extra artillery piece), a Road, and Spy Network  -3 Territory points
  • Col. Horatio Cockchafer - Cv 9 - Okeham (town +20 points), Arsenal, Road.  -3 Territory points
Scots  3 Territory points overall
  • James "Big Jim" Mcdonald (Luke) CV-8 Dunfermline  (town +20 points), Crossford (village +5 points) a Road, and Veterans (Tough Fighters)- 3 Territory point
Dont forget, that this rule is still in play:
"A moment of Tactical Genius" - Once per game the Army Commander may reroll a failed Command Roll. He may only reroll it once, and must abide by the second result. This applies to the General Commander figure of all players forces.

Its been an interesting start to the campaign, with players from Germany getting involved and a whole campaign day played out to the enjoyment of many, with some playing as many as 5 games in one day! I umpired all day and didnt get to fight- this seemed prudent given the number of Noobs playing, so I could lend a hand and impartial advice and answer rules queries. I lost track of who won what or even who played who, though some of the highlights were alluded to above, if any player notices a mistake in the territories listed above let me know, but I think they're all correct now!
Here are some pictures:
Royalist V Swedes, and the perfectly delivered "Pointing Finger" from
Michael clearly established the Swedes as the Victor

The MP for Wigan prepares to unleash his tactical Genius on an unsuspecting Paul

The same battle moments later; Pauls Royalists are pinned in
 place and outflanked by the New Model Army

I am a firm believer that how you handle your tape measure determines the level of your success; a forceful and aggressive gesture can break a whole wing! Here Andy ably demonstrates how not to do it with a feeble gesture that failed to break Flashearts line. The lesson was well learned, and Andy went on to win 3 of 4 games! 

Newcastle takes on the Scots in this meeting engagement,
taking the fight to the enemy in Echelon

A sideshow to the action on the table, but no less important,
 was the "seeing who can act most casual" competition

A case of mistaken identity results in Royalist clashing with Royalist. 

The NMA shatters Beckmans line and drives the Royalists back

Hawarden Castle under Siege again, in another inter-Royalist fracas.
 Flasheart's loss of his beloved castle was the result of an almighty cock up

Newcastles Storming Parties go forward, armed with it lent to them by their enemy...

Another impending Victory for Andy...

Fazeys Horse struggling to rebuild their reputation; after years of smashing their way through all and sundry they suffered a defeat and, here, a draw. Honour was finally satisfied in the final game of the day.

Fazey dares anyone to touch his tape measure

Michael and Dave deep in concentration

Heavy Fighting at Hawarden Castle as Flashy eats his hat!

Daves NMA advance to finish that rascal Flasheart for good!

The last games of the day

Newcastles Whitecoats drawn up to block Fazeys escape

Only to be left out maneuvered as Fazey's Royalists mass on one Flank to break through.

I am hopeful that we shall have another campaign day of this nature in Mid-March, as everyone seemed to have fun. Hopefully next time we'll a couple more parliamentarian players to even up the sides though, as the Royalist on Royalist action allowed them to get a little ahead!
I didnt notice any major problems with the rules for the campaign after these games, though questions were asked about the turn limit on the Break Through scenario. It caused a problem in one game but not in another but Ill keep an eye on it.

Right Ive got to review my troops prior to taking on Newcastle on Thursday, so tune in next time for another episode of "Whose Horse is it anyway?"...

The fire crackled in the darkness as a crowd of despondent soldiers huddled around it, their commander at the centre staring into the flames. Flasheart seethed, plotting his revenge, as his men licked their wounds . Oh, such an ignominious way to lose such a fine castle! It would be his again, he vowed, and no northern thug would defy him! But as his weary but loyal followers shared their meager supplies he could but marvel, in a horrified sort of way, at how the old saying had proved so apt.
"Bigods! Hoist by my own Petard indeed!"

Friday, 23 January 2015

Flasheart Gains Little Pontefract

A scuffle broke out last week when a certain Lord Tiberius Flasheart (Derek to his friends and hairdresser) suggested that the Marquis of Newcastle just wasn’t showing the right ‘stuff’ to be part of the grand Royalist armies.  Other comments in this high quality verbal exchange surrounded the concept of big girls blouses and prickled coves, and are perhaps best left undiscovered.  It wasn’t long before Flasheart, being the impetuous and daft as a march hare chap that he is, had decided to lead his remarkably small army Up North to explain more clearly what he meant by ‘stuff’ in person.  The Marquis, being somewhat more intelligent than Flasheart, waylaid the arrogant (but beautifully groomed) dandy near a village he named as Little Pontefract.  Newcastle, having given suggestion that there would be some physical activity, waited until the first shots had been fired before evading Flashearts men and leaving the stunningly manicured man from Wrecsam looking very pleased with himself at the capture of Little Pontefract.  When it finally dawned upon him that he had been tricked, and this was in fact not the village of Pontefract with the lovely castle but a much smaller village with fewer taverns and absolutely no castle whatsoever he was somewhat less pleased.

Flashearts troops (on the left) pin the Marquis of Newcastles troops back into the village of Little Pontefract.

Flashearts dragoons in an atmospheric shot.

Leaving a few men to keep an eye on the tavern Lord Flasheart set off back to North Wales, a journey that would take him many days to cross the great six foot divide between the two battlefields on offer.  Upon his arrival he discovered that most rare and dangerous of things threatening his stores at Bersham – a pro-Parliamentarian Swede!  Diderich Beckman had suffered his own trials and tribulations on the way; fighting a brief encounter with some of the rabble commanded by Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smyth; a gardening wiz.  A quick clash of cavalry and all was declared a draw, leaving Beckman free and on time for his meeting with Flasheart.

The small but perfectly formed battle between the forces of Beckman and Flasheart was all very civilised to start with as both sides lined up across a nice open plain.  Flasheart, being a subtle chap, sent his horse thundering across the divide only to see both units defeated and forced to retreat, in the case of Henry Buxton’s horse this was right off the table!  Not deterred Flasheart sent his infantry forward – Stradlings regiment of foote in a lovely colouring of blue to face the yellow-coated enemy.  With the dragoons protecting their right flank Stradlings musketeers closed to close range and engaged in an unequal musketry duel with the yellow coats commanded shot, musketeers and falconet artillery piece. 

Flashearts men face Beckman's (in the yellow) across the field.

Beckman's Parliamentarians.

The Royalist horse countercharge.

 The tables turned on a counter-charge, with Beckman’s harquebusiers charge into Flashearts remaining horse unit seeing the yellow side sent reeling backwards before the Royalist horse crashed into the flank of the enemy pike block.  The pike block disintegrated and the horse carried on up the hill to challenge the enemy horse once again leaving Stradlings foote to press home the attack.  An attempt by the other harquebusier unit to outflank Stradling was foiled by the Royalist dragoons, but the outcome had been decided elsewhere, with the Royalist horse unable to repeat their heroics and forced to retreat disordered along with Stradlings musketeers, while Stradlings pike were able to scatter the falconet crew, but not the commanded shot and with the rest of Flashearts troops now in retreat they pulled back and ceded the field to Beckman’s Parliamentarian troops.

The coutercharge plunges into Beckman's pike.

Stradlings foote (blue coats).

The last hurrah but the Royalist horse can't do it again.

And yet more fighting....

In a busy few hours of fighting it was not the end of action for the Marquis of Newcastle, who proceeded to fight an engagement against Sir Samuel Stapleton-Smyths Parliamentarian forces, complete with Ye Uncutables in the lead.  Neither side could claim with conviction to have done more than trampled the flower gardens, to Sir Samuels dismay, and a draw was declared.  This was in fact an identical result to Stapleton-Smyths efforts at defeating Beckman earlier on, where the infantry clashed inconclusively, and not even a desperate charge by formed up dragoons could sway the result.

Stapleton-Smyths dragoons desperate charge into Beckman's musketeers.

Stapleton-Smyth vs Beckman.

The Marquis of Newcastle (troops to the left) vs Stapleton-Smyth.

Stapleton-Smyths foote on the edge of the village trampling the plants.

A late and inconclusive punchup at the back of the village. 

The Technical Results:

The Participants:
Lord Tiberius Flasheart – Richard
The Marquis of Newcastle – Ian
Diderich Beckam – Paul
Sir Samuel Pembleton-Smyth - Aidan

My defeat of Ian bagged me the village of Little Pontefract, minus the castle sadly thanks to some cunning on behalf of my enemy!  I then went on  to lose to Paul who gained a Spy Network for his troubles.  Aidan managed two draws and joined Ian in gaining no territory, but a level of smugness.