Saturday, 18 March 2023

The Battle of Escanceastre - Burrows & Badgers


In a departure from normal club fare, we held a game of Burrows and Badgers, by Michael Lovejoy, with his beautiful Oathsworn miniatures. A skirmish game set in a fantasy world of anthropomorphic animals, it has an intuitive basic system with lots of depth for developing with skills and special actions, along with an enjoyable mix of whimsy and grimdark: think Redwall meets Mordheim.

In the early morning hours, shadowy figures move through the dawn mists outside the walls of north Escanceastre. Cold-blooded Wildlings emerged from the woods and headed for the broken gate, intent on setting fire to the homes of the city-dwelling beasts, grown fat and soft in their civilised decadence. To the east, a band of rough-looking rogues snuck toward another gate, Oliver Hardberger, their otter leader, having already infiltrated the city the night before and waiting to open it to them. Hungry and in need of cash to keep themselves going, they were intent on lightening the pockets of the townsbeasts amidst the impending chaos.

Tocsins began to sound across the northern edge of the city, and Geoffroi le Hardi, the hare knight, hastily gathered together his militia to defend the walls. Meanwhile, at the city’s House of Illumination, the De Bouan otter captain, Cuthbert Moor, summoned his fellow witch hunters. Something was brewing, and conflicts usually meant magic users: an opportunity for eliminating some perverted mages seemed imminent.

As the townsbeasts fled toward the city centre, one such mage, an adder volunteer with the militia, cast a bolt of lightning which struck Hardberger, exposed above the gatehouse. The otter took the hit with a grunt, but immediately a rabbit with a bow leapt onto the parapet and began slinging arrows into the streets. Geoffroi le Hardi leapt in turn to attack Hardberger, and each rained blows down on the other till they were both bloodied, while the rogues’ mouse sorceress ran about outside, trying to draw a bead on Hardberger so as to cast a healing spell on it. A mad shrew rogue then scaled the wall to surround Geoffroi, who looked likely to succumb to the invaders. However, a squirrel witch supporting the militia cast a healing spell of her own, returning Geoffroi to full strength as a crossbow bolt from a militia weasel knocked the rabbit rogue, now badly wounded, off the wall.

At the broken gate, Wildlings poured into the town, while one of their moles emerged from the ground to begin burning a house. Damp tinder or a dirty flint, however, frustrated his efforts… The toad War Mother and her lizard second rushed to the market hall and immediately set it on fire. The witch hunters crept through the streets, unsure whether to investigate the magical signature created by the adder and squirrel at the other gate or to attack the Wildling shamans who looked exposed outside the wall as their companions rushed into Escanceastre. 

Moor ultimately chose to go for the Wildlings, deciding that the deviant citizens could be dealt with later or left for the Illuminators. His crossbow-weasel mounted the wall and plugged a sizeable bolt into the back of the War Mother, exulting in her success at firing the market hall. Enraged, she and the lizard crunched down on their berserker pods and charged in a frenzy into Moor and his badger hospitaller, wounding them badly.

As the rogue and militia leaders continued to struggle above the gatehouse, two mouse knights ran as fast as their little legs could carry them to the stairs. One was ambushed by a squirrel hiding on the parapet, but was quickly healed by their squirrel sorceress. As the first mouse surrounded him, Geoffroi committed himself to fate and swung his sword into the otter with a deadly thrust, knocking him from the wall to his death. 

Their leader dead, the rogues seemed to deflate. Their sparrow flitted to a burrow and began frantically searching for any moveable wealth, but to no avail. The others, inspired by this example, tried to disengage from the militia and run to loot the houses, crouching under a hail of crossbow bolts and magical lightning. 

The badly mauled witch hunters realised they could not stand paw-to-paw with the berserkers, and so took to stunning them while waiting for reinforcements. The hedgehog came in wielding his hammer and a torch, the latter of which promptly went out in the lizard’s eye. Unfortunately, a frog, channelled by his toad shaman’s magic, had just surged into the crossbow-weasel covering them from the wall and wounded him badly.

Meanwhile, the weasel zealot racing toward the shamans outside the wall received a face full of adder, magically imbued with the strength of a bear, and turned on his paw to run back to support his leader engaged with the berserkers. Combined, the bloodied witch hunters managed to beat down the paralysed berserkers, but outside shamanistic chanting caused the adder to become ever stronger.

Deeper in the city, the mole finally managed to set a house alight, and then ran on to the blacksmith’s
forge nearby.

Geoffroi le Hardi leapt into pursuing the rogues, cutting down the bowrabbit as she ran toward a dwelling. The shrew charged the squirrel witch, intent on preventing the militia from healing it, but his wounds were too great and he was dispatched by the adder mage as the squirrel, unsurprisingly, healed herself. The sparrow finally discovered a chest of valuables, but, not wanting to be slowed down, grabbed as many coins as he could and flew to the pub where he began trying to force open the till. Geoffroi called to his followers to run toward the smoke from the west of the city, where the mole was having a merry time as an arsonist as he tunnelled under the burning smithy. The mice had to go cautiously, however, watched over by the squirrel archer hidden in the rubble of a gap in the wall. Otherwise, however, the rogues were a spent force, the sparrow still unable to open the cash drawer in the inn.

The witch hunters, meanwhile, were wondering how they had gotten caught in this scrum as the badger desperately tried to heal them as fast as he could. The crossbow-weasel was too far away and abseiled from the wall, only to be savaged by the adder and finished off by the pursuing frog. Just when the witch hunters inside the wall had more or less caught their breath, the adder, now bulging with magic steroids, came charging in, supported by the frog. 

Blows from the enraged and injured badger brought the frog nearly to death’s door, but he then drew deep inside himself to summon up a heroic sacrifice, which took Moor out of action with him. With all of their detachment either neutralised or poisoned by painful adder venom, the witch hunters saw no prospect of bringing any magical deviants to justice.

The militia were still hale and hearty, but nearly half of the buildings in their quarter of the city had been burned or looted. The Wildlings retreated jubilantly into the woods, the rogues slunk away to lick their wounds, and the severely chastened witch hunters made their way back to the House of Illumination with their tails firmly between their legs. Geoffroi le Hardi’s militia could confidently claim victory, and downplayed the three smouldering wrecks of commercial and residential property as inevitable collateral damage.

We called the game here as four hours had passed and the eventual outcome was pretty clear, though it would have been fun to see the militia slug it out with the surviving royalists. We also realised at this point that the Wildling lizard had been their second, which means that they should have routed automatically once he and the War Mother had been killed, which would have given a very different, though perhaps less enjoyable game. 

Burrows and Badgers is intended for two players but works well with four, though one needs to factor in the extra time, especially if there are first-time players. 

Many thanks to Rob, Jean-Baptiste, Bertie, and Alex for a great game that had some great twists and turns. Not sure if we’ll see anything quite this far from the historical again at club any time soon, but I was grateful the opportunity to bring it out to a slightly wider audience and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Maximus comes a Cropper on the Limes Germanicus - Infamy, Infamy!

Bob gives his Romans and Germans a run out with this little set-to on the Limes Germanicus using 'Infamy, Infamy!' from the Too Fat Lardies.

Odious Maximus, a Centurion of some experience currently stationed on the northern borders has been sent to deal with Misanthropix, a minor Germanic Tribal Chief who had crossed the border and was laying waste to all and sundry. Odious is accompanied by Nepotismus, a newly arrived Tribune (absolutely useless, he must have friends in high places).

It is believed that Misanthropix is accompanied by his two brothers, Acerbix and Histrionix.

The Romans arrived on the battlefield from the Northwest, and the Germans from the Southeast, the Romans consolidating on the high ground.

whilst the Germans stand off and whip up fervour.

The Germans threw out skirmishers on the right flank and into the wood in the centre, forcing the Romans to move forward in an effort to close to javelin range, whilst the Auxilia archers remained on the hill. Using both the archers and the Auxilia on the Roman left flank, they forced the German slingers back out of range. Meanwhile, the other units of Auxilia attempted an outflanking manoeuvre on their right;

while the Legionaries took up a position in the Roman centre.

Fortunately for Misanthropix, his brother Histrionix chose this moment to arrive, and moved swiftly to the German left, facing the Roman outflanking attempt.

With his flank now safe, and his men overflowing with fervour, Misanthropix began to move his three Mobs forward.

For some reason Odious Maximus decided to advance, not only beyond the wood which was protecting the right flank of his Legionaries, but continued forward until the German cavalry were behind his flank; an opportunity Histrionix was unable to resist.

The Legionaries were thrown into disarray by the flank attack, and the German infantry were then able to hit them whilst they were still disorganised, leading to the inevitable result.

With a number of Roman units either broken or in retreat, and another, as yet unbloodied, German Mob waiting to strike, the Roman players conceded defeat.

Many thanks to Mr Steve, Paul, and Tom for an excellent game.

Saturday, 4 March 2023

The Battle of Pultusk 26th December 1806

Battle of Pultusk, 1806.

My historically dubious Battle of Maida game I put on at the club a while ago, (It’s Maida, JJ, but not as we know it) was a French Russian encounter in the snowy wastes - see link below if you missed that post. 

Devon Wargames Group - It's Maida JJ, but not as we know it.

I had randomly selected two commanders for that game, Lannes and Kamensky, so I was surprised to find that these two commanders had actually met on the field of battle, well nearly, as Kamensky feigned sickness and retired to his country residence near Oryol where he terrorised his serfs to such a degree that he was killed by one of them. The name of the battle was Pultusk, which took place on the 26th December 1806 – in the snow, between Russians and French. Game on.

A Heavy Russian Battery engages Claparede's Brigade.

The Battle of Pultusk saw an outnumbered French force attacking a Russian force which was positioned around the village of Pultusk on the river Narew. False intelligence led Napoleon to believe that the main Russian army was some 10 miles further north and only a small detachment was defending the river crossing at Pultusk. He ordered Lannes to attack without delay. 

It was only after battling up the muddy slopes of the ridge to the west of Pultusk under heavy artillery fire that Lannes realised the true position and was about to withdraw when the 3rd Division under Fournier arrived on the Russian right flank, having marched to the sound of the guns. The position was stabilised, but the Russian forces, imagining that the French forces were stronger than they were, withdrew, leaving the village of Pultusk and the river crossing in French hands.

Barclay de Tolly Jager's occupy Mosin Wood.

My order of battle roughly followed the historical ones, but substituting Brigade organizations for Divisions to make the game more manageable, although there were still over sixty units on the board. The one glaring exception to historical accuracy was the inclusion of the Old and Middle Guard Units which were nowhere near Pultusk on 26th December 1806, but I have played so many games when the Guard have been no more than a glowering presence in reserve (probably historical) that I thought it about time for them to get stuck in and show their ‘metal’, so to speak. Hardly historical, but I thought with the Chairman being upside somewhere peering into historical hobbit holes, I might just get away with it.

The players were given their respective troops deployment areas and the following briefing.

Your force of two Infantry Divisions and a Cavalry Division is to take the river crossing at Pultusk and secure the East West Axis Road. An equal sized enemy force of Divisional strength is positioned on the rising ground to your front. Your superior quality Units and an advantage in the mounted arm more than makes up for any inequality of numbers.

Claparède's Brigade about to dig in on the French Left.

Your force of two Divisions is to defend the river crossing at Pultusk and secure the East West Axis Road. An enemy force of Divisional strength is approaching from the South. Protect your supply lines running North and secure the two southern approach roads.

Forces deployed to the North of the Axis Road and in the village of Pultusk are not visible from the South.


The first casualty of this bloody battle was an unfortunate gunner in the French II Division who stumbled in front of the gun as it was firing. This unfortunate incident was closely followed by a Russian round shot plunging into Gen de Brigade Michel Claparède horse, trapping him under the unfortunate beast. Possibly as a result of these two upsets and being confronted by apparently superior numbers, Gen de Division Louis-Gabriel Suchet decided his role would be to protect the French left and took up a defensive position.

Gen de Brigade Delaierre de Tilly successful reconnaissance.

On the French right, things were moving apace. Gen de Brigade Jacques Louis François Delaierre de Tilly commanding the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, saw a chance for glory. Seeing the bridge over the river Narew apparently unprotected, he formed the 21e Régt de Chasseurs à Cheval in march column and ordered them to advance at speed into the village of Pultusk. There was mutterings in the ranks, but these were soon quelled when de Tilly himself led the regiment forward. 

His reconnaissance in force was a success, he discovered a Brigade of Russian Grenadiers occupying Pultusk; however, his quest for glory was not, as the 21e Régt de Chasseurs à Cheval suffered first a crashing volley from the Grenadier Battalion of the Pavlovski Grenadier Regiment, followed by a mauling. It surprised no-one, save perhaps de Tilly, that the regiment promptly dispersed.

Lambert's 1st Cavalry Brigade deployed on the forward slopes.

Surprisingly it was at this point that Major General Count Bennigsen of the Russian II division received the following note from the Army Commander.

My Dear Count

I find myself much inconvenienced of late, as a consequence of which I am retiring to my estate near Oryo. You will oblige me by taking command of the Army, a burden which has become increasingly irksome.


Major General Ivan Andreievich Lieven crest the ridge line.

With Kamensky heading North at speed, it was now time for Count Bennigsen to show his mettle. Noticing a gap forming between the French I and II Division he sent out his Cossacks to do what Cossacks do, plunder baggage. He reinforced this move with a general advance of his Cavalry into the widening gap, supported by the 2nd Brigade of the II Division which appeared over the crest of the ridge. Their advance was temporarily halted by the Guard 12lb battery (yes, O.K. they weren’t at the battle either.) 

Mazovsky Grenadier Brigade with a firm hold on Pultusk.

The French were having some success on their right flank with a cavalry charge that routed the 1st Musketeer Battalion of the Kazan Musketeer Regiment which failed to form square. This charge was supported by Gen de brigade Jérôme Soulès 2nd Brigade of the I Guard Division but as the remaining regiments of the Russian Brigade had formed square or dense columns, the French were unable to exploit any success they had and Soulès had his leg taken off by a roundshot for his troubles. 

Russian cavalry pour into the gap.

Lannes had also become aware that his lines of communication were being threatened and was forced to divert part of the cavalry division to deal with the problem. As he was redeploying his forces a courier arrived with a (deliberately) misleading message from the 2nd Brigade Commander of the 2nd Division, Gen de Brigade Dominique Honoré Antoine Vedel.


I am marching to the sound of the guns from the East. I am driving my men hard and am one hour’s march away.

Gen de Brigade Antoine Vedel of the 2e Brigade of the II Division.

Russian Left Flank comes under pressure.

Sukin's Brigade awaits the onslaught.

Both Lannes and Suchet understood from the message that Vedel’s Brigade would arrive on the Russian Left Flank from the East. Suchet even commented, “that’s nothing to do with me,” failing to realise it was a message from one of his Brigade commanders. In fact, Vedel appeared from the West, (marching to the sound of the guns which were coming from the East) but arrived too late to have any real impact on the battle.

The Guard hold firm.

The Russians hold their ground.

With the Russians securely dug in around Pultusk and Lannes countering the threat on his lines of communications it was decided to call it a day and award a marginal victory to the Bennigsen’s Russian forces. No doubt Kamensky claimed all the plaudits.

Walther's Cavalry Division menace the Russian left

My thanks to all the players for their positive contributions and their willingness to play test a home grown set of rules.

Figures: AB and Bokki
Terrain mat: Tiny Wargames
Buildings: Timecast


Monday, 27 February 2023

The Capture of the Pomone, 23rd April 1794 - Kiss Me Hardy

Having been away on a four month trip to the other side of the globe, it was a real treat to get back to the club for my first game of 2023 and an opportunity to pick up things from last year when we play-tested some historical scenarios I've put together for Kiss Me Hardy looking at 1793, the first year of the Revolutionary War at sea - see link below if you missed those particular AAR's

Devon Wargames Group - Small Ship Actions,1793

This time Tom and I were taking the trip back in time to the English Channel in 1794, off the Channel Island of Guernsey, as two opposing frigate squadrons met in a somewhat decisive clash to establish dominance in the area, and an action that would lead to the British capturing one of the new French 40-gun super-frigates, Pomone, that had caused a stir in Royal Naval ranks and would lead to the future development of up-gunned 32's, 36's and more of the larger 38-gun models as a response.

The club is running two meetings a month until April and with an ever growing membership is seeing often four games running at any time, making posting AAR's to the club blog an interesting and very nice challenge, so to make space for other games you can get a full AAR over at JJ's Wargames.

So if you would like to know more then just follow the link below.

JJ's Wargames - Capture of the Pomone, Kiss Me Hardy

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Chain of Command - The Scottish Corridor - Turn 10

 This fight was turn 10 of the twelve available in the campaign. It had taken the Germans so long to win the first Western table that the Eastern Kampfgruppe was now at the centre of the map ladder. Think 'one sided pincer' and you'll understand why this and the final two games needed to be successive wins for the Axis to secure a campaign victory.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Infamy! Infamy! Friday Night Laager - Gothic wars 378AD Thrace

After the break out from Marcianople, the Goths raided across Thrace with the Romans trying to concentrate enough forces in the area to first of all, contain them and secondly, bring them to battle.
The Goths used Laagers of wagons to protect themselves as well as store their loot. 
One such laager has been located by a Roman force and they intend to destroy it and scatter the warbands.

Friday, 3 February 2023

Rorke's Drift 28th January 2023 - 156th anniversary of the fight on 22nd January 1879

Rorke's Drift 28th January 2023 - 156th anniversary of the fight on 22nd January 1879

I have been a keen wargamer for a number of years and have always loved the South African theatre of operations, in particular the Zulu wars.

The game was played using the rules “The Boys from Isandhlwana” by Chris Pagano, a simple effective and accurate set that play well, especially in respect to Rorke's Drift.

I had made some minor tweaks for having characters in the game...


+1 Morale within 6” / 1x re roll shooting dice / 1x re roll Morale dice if fail within 6”


+1 Morale within 6” / 1x re roll shooting dice / 1x re roll Morale dice if fail within 6”


+1 table Melee when in fight

PIP the dog

+1 table Melee when in fight

Chaplain “Ammunition” SMITH

+1 Morale within 6” / 1 re roll shooting dice


1x re roll Morale dice if fail within 6”


+1 Morale within 6” / 1x re roll Morale dice if fail within 6”

Commissariat DALTON

+1 Morale within 6” / 1x re roll Morale dice if fail within 6”

Colour Sergeant BOURNE

+2 Morale within 6” / +1 table Melee when in fight


+1 Morale within 6” / +1 table Melee when in fight

Surgeon REYNOLDS and Medical Orderlies Cpl ATTWOOD and Pvt McMAHON

Any wounded with 12” of their figures are moved to hospital for recovery check in sequence (5) At this point wounded are rolled for 1-7 incapacitated or Dying of wounds, 8-10 light wound, patched up and sent back to barricades... they are deployed back at Reynolds and move off from there next turn.

The game was set for six of us to play, 4 Zulu, 2 British, but we had one short so had 3 Zulu, myself, Mike B, and Lawrence, 2 Brits being Ian and “Jammy Dice” Paul, more on that later...

The British had the 10 Characters and 8x6 figure squads, deployed for the defence of the Drift, the Zulu had 8x16 figure units x 3 commands, each player having an Induna so over 384 Zulus on the board, the Zulu units, being allowed to be recycled 1 for free, and then possibility of 2nd recycle on a 10 on a D10 the next turn available, then 9 and so on...

The British command set up their defence around the perimeter of the Drift and allocated 1 squad to build the redoubt from a pile of mealie bags, they would through a D10 each turn requiring 24pts to complete, they didn't know that though... they chose not defend the hospital or loop hole the store house either.

The Zulu commander deployed one Impi on the South end, and two on the North, however the British had significantly more squads covering the Southern ramparts...

And so the onslaught began, the Brit players took a gulp of tea, a deep breath and we began, afterwards they expressed their dismay initially on how many Zulus there were approaching them, but after the first round of shooting and Zulu morale took place they seemed slightly calmer. Almost too calm...

The rules have a clever sequence of play, at first glance you think, mmm not sure but then it all makes sense when you get in the flow of things happening...

SEQUENCE of PLAY 1) Zulu Movement 2) Brit Missile Fire & Zulu Morale 3) Zulu Melee & Brit Morale 4) Brit Movement 5) Brit Hospital 6) Zulu Missile Fire 7) Brit Melee

Basically Zulus move 6” plus D6, British fire power is devastating, usually hitting on a 4+ on D10 out to 48”, I don't think Paul had less than 90% success rate with his shooting dice, and Ian was near that, needless to say the Zulu ranks thinned rapidly.

Charge after charge tried to get to melee with the defenders, but when they did they were met with fire and bayonet, causing a few casualties here and there but the Zulu dead were piling up high, we were testing there guns alright, Lawrence had basically used his regiments in short time and was starting to recycle units which started to break up his attacks piecemeal, however in the British turn is a section called Hospital where they roll for casualty return, at one stage we thought we had done good with the Brits having 5 casualties, but on a roll of 8-10 they come back around surgeon Reynolds as fighting fit and may return to the lines where needed in the next move and you guessed it “Jammy Paul” rolled that all 5 came back!

We tried and tried to break into the compound area...

Attack after attack ...

Attacking different areas...

We managed to get in a couple of times but were forced back over the barricades...

But again and again the Brits either fought back and won or took step back and fired again, at one point we broke in killing Dalton and Bourne, casualties were mounting on the defenders but yet they still hung in there...

Unfortunately we had run out of time gaming at the club, this could have gone either way at this point, the defenders were dwindling, but managing to fall back in areas to form second lines in strong positions, and the Zulus well, I had just about recycled my units, I know Mike was near end of recycling and Lawrence was into his third batch! So there were not going to be many more Zulus, although we had plenty on table without casualties it would not be long before they were blooded and washing their spears.

All in all an excellent but very tense game so many times I thought we had them only to be thrown back, helped with great company and great banter thank you gentlemen Ian, Mike, Lawrence and even Jammy Paul, may we wash our spears again soon.