sabato 11 novembre 2017

Neil Thomas' Wargaming the Nineteenth Century review


I was looking for a ruleset to use my new Risorgimento figures and my attention was caught by "Wargaming the Nineteenth Century in Europe 1815-1878" by Neil Thomas.


I already heard of him as author of One Hour Wargaming and other works concerning our hobby, but I never dealt with his works.

Since I couldn't find much about the set on the net, I decided to purchase the kindle edition straightly from the publisher (Pen&Sword) at 4.99£. Great value for the money, but...there are no pictures only drawn maps. I know that in the printed edition (19.99£+ shipping) there are several pictures of gaming tables. Anyways, nothing essential. (EDIT: I found the pictures, they are at the very end of the book and not inside it)

The book gives a good historical and military introduction of the warfare in the period and then speculates on the best way to model a wargame to represent it. The process really reminds me Sabin's Lost Battles

The rules per se are just 8 pages (in the printed copy) and are very old style in layout, but the approach is interesting: simpler is better, and so we get a distillation of 19th century warfare. Those looking for detailed rules will be disappointed, but I love easy (yet period-specific) games. The rules are aimed at small battles involving around a brigade per side. They are very simple and should play in about 2 hours, involving about 10-15 units per side. Command and control is included just as optional rule, since "a player is able to act foolishly without external rules"

The rules are completed by 15 army lists, 5 generic scenarios (one mini-game) and 10 historical scenarios covering the main conflicts in Europe from the Carlist War to Franco Prussian War. There is no point system, but an interesting army generator which with a couple of dice rolls generates a casual army.

For the Italian Risorgimento there is only one scenario included (Montebello 1859), but are provided lists for generic revolutionary and monarchic army (1848), French, Italian, Austrian (1859 and 1866), Garibaldini and Bourbonic (1860). There is an error in the rating of Bourboinc troops, in my modest opinion, the author was too influenced by some sources he used. Anyway, this can be solved with some work. With some work a Papal State army can also be produced, and additional historical scenarios, too.

In conclusion: it's not the scale of battles I'm interested in, since I'm going to play the period with 28mm figures and I aim to play a large skirmish kind of game, as Lion Rampant or Sharpe Practice, but I'd steal some idea (best form of adulation, isn't it?) if I ever had to write my own rules.

mercoledì 1 novembre 2017

Shakò64 Borbonic Hunters (1)

The debout of Shakò64: a Italian company dedicated to Italian Wars of Indipendence.

 

Italian Wars of Indipendence, or Risorgimento, is considered a lesser conflict and is often overviewed by wargamers and manifacturers. For this reason a new manifacturer dedicated to this period is a wonderful news! Shakò64 entered the hobby market this year. I recently received a sample from their first released range, consisting in Cacciatori Borbonici (Borbonic Hunters) a light infantry unit of the Army of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies which fought against Garibaldi's redshirts during the 1860 campaign. 

In their online shop are currently aivalable: Hunters with different combination of campaign dress/frock coats and jackets with covered/uncovered shakò or kepì and Hunters Command group wearing tunic, with the same headgears options, but the manifacturer intention is to extend their range to cover both the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and Garibaldi's armies. Also aivalable the flag for some battalions of Borbonic Hunters and Carabinieri (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th battalion Cacciatori and 1st and 2nd Carabinieri). They're sold in packs of 4 for 9€ (2.25€ for infantry figure).




The figures are sculpted by Cosimo Auricchio, former sculptor for Ital.Model, a discontinued brand producing figures for the Italian Risorgimento. At the first look they looks very well sculpted virtually no flash and smooth mold lines, basically ready to be washed and primed! Very interesting the choice to provide separate backpacks (at least 3 different models) to add variety and help the paintjob. At a first measurement they looks 27-28mm to eyes level, so definitely a modern range (the so called "heroic 28mm"), larger than Mirliton and Foundry, and similar to Gringo40s. Comparison is needed (stay tuned!).
 



venerdì 6 ottobre 2017

The blog name: Arsenale del Nano

What's in a name? 
(Romeo and Juliet, act II, scene II)

As some of you may have noticed, I recently changed the header of my blog, and I feel that's a good excuse to give to the (few) curious a short explanation about my blog's name, expecially for not-Italian speakers.
View of the Entrance to the Arsenal by Canaletto, 1732.

 

Arsenale

What's an Arsenale? "arsenal, armoury, dockyard", where weapons are stored and (sometimes) forged. Obviously my weapons are lead and plastic (and resin perhaps) soldiers and scenics, but also rulesets, scenics and terrain, painting and brushes, all that sort of stuff which keeps the bellic effort going. 

But Arsenale  was chosen also with a precise geographical reference in mind: Venice. The name Arsenale itself derives from this city, it's Dante Alighieri, the most famous Italian poet in his Divine Comedy to first use this term to describe Venice dockyard, comparing the boiling pitch used to mend the vessels during winter (a period in which navigation was suspended during middle ages) to the hell environment. For those interested in literature here's the full text, both in Italian and English.


As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels over again
For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made
One hammers at the prow, one at the stern
This one makes oars and that one cordage twists
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,

Was boiling down below there a dense pitch

Which upon every side the bank belimed.
Quale nell'arzanà de' Viniziani
bolle l'inverno la tenace pece
a rimpalmare i legni lor non sani,
ché navicar non ponno - in quella vece
chi fa suo legno nuovo e chi ristoppa
le coste a quel che più vïaggi fece;
chi ribatte da proda e chi da poppa;
altri fa remi e altri volge sarte;
chi terzeruolo e artimon rintoppa -;
tal, non per foco ma per divin' arte,
bollia là giuso una pegola spessa,
che 'nviscava la ripa d'ogne parte.

(Dante, Inferno, XXI, 7-18)


 

The Lion

The symbol of the blog is going to be the Pireaues Lion, a statue located at the entrance of  Venice Arsenale, originally located in Athenes (Piraeus port), was taken in 1687 as plunder by Morosini during one of the various Turkish-Venetian wars. Probably it seemed pretty appropriate, since Venice symbol is a (winged) lion. The lion hides an additional history: at the end of 18th century a Swedish diplomat recognised a lindworm carved on the lion, probably by Varangian merceanaries sent by Costantinople to sedate a riot in Athenes during X-XI century. Nowadays the carvings are seriously deteriorated by pollution and time, but it's still intuible.




In conclusion, I felt that Arsenale and its Piraeus Lion are the perfect sintesis of the many instersections of histories represented by wargaming, the site where armies and weapons were assembled and where many glorious (and bloody) deeds had their beginning.

...and Nano?

Oh, that's just a nickname my girlfriend gave me at the beginning of our relationtship. It means dwarf in Italian, since I'm only 1.65 metres tall ...and she's 1.76! (Incidentally it's also my grandfather nickname, but as a shortening of Giordano).


mercoledì 13 settembre 2017

X-wing, Tercios and Bolt Action!


X-wing


After one year I eventually managed to have a couple of games. I appreciate it because is fast, quick to learn, yet deeply strategic. Having pre-painted minis (and of good quality) is a great plus. I shall start studying a bit the combination between the different ships! Thank Alberto and Alessio! 



 Liber Militum Tercios


Back to Thirty years war again! Luca introduced me to Tercios a quite new ruleset by the Spanish El Kraken publisher dealing with the great battles of the period. The rules aim to recreate the grand tactic of the battles. The rules are easy to learn, but has some interesting feats, the most interesting, at least to me, the orders cards. As many of you may already know, I love all sorts of orders vinculating units freedom of action. General de Brigade and Et Sans Resultat! are good examples. In Tercios orders are not persistent, but are re-assigned each turn. Anyway, it's a good start for future modifications. Some mechanics aren't really new, for example any wear unit must test to activate its order (like Bolt Action pinned units) or the hits vs save mechanic (wherte savings, describes by the courage attribute of the units is a sum of morale and armoured resistance to enemies' offences). Overall all this already seen features blend in a very smooth way. I need a couple more games to write a proper review, so stay tuned!

In the pictures the 15mm collection of Luca (Testudo). But 28mm figures I can use both for Tercios and for Pikeman's Lament are ready to be painted (somewhere under the pile of plastic and lead in my basement).






Bolt Action


My first 500 points Commandos army is complete. They just went out for their first training mission against a German Pioneer force...and went awfully. Many things to reflect upon and more figures to assemble and paint for a 1000 point revenge!


 


venerdì 1 settembre 2017

Italian Wars of Unification from Osprey!



Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848-70 (1)
(by Gabriele Esposito; illustrated by Giuseppe Rava)


Last month, Osprey published in its Men-at-Arms collection the first of a two books series about Italian conflicts of XIX century.  

Italian Wars of Unification is a subject always neglected by the international publications, at least from a uniformologic point of view. Of course in Italy it's a more common theme, but it's really cool to start seeing it arising some interest abroad. The Italian Wars of Unification lasted about 22 years and saw the birth of Italy as a Nation. They offers a wide choice of scenarios for wargamers of any nationality. The numbers of factions involved, the many different uniforms (essentially a mix from original Italian design and foreign inspirations) have the potential to please both the warfare and the  estethic lovers.

Of course there is still a lack of appropriate models, but there are some "promising" signals, I will talk about them in a separate post (stay tuned!).

The author, Gabriele Esposito, has done a great job of sinthesis. In fact describing the 1848-49 war as a single war is misleading. There is a proper campaign (Kingdom of Piedmont against Austrian), but there is an insurrection of Sicily (proclaming indipendence from the Kingdoms of the Two Sicilies) and many national uprising, in Rome (Republica Romana), Venice (Repubblica di Venezia) and other cities. So regular armies and volunteers twingles in confusing years. 


Remember: the booklet is the first of two. In this one are described the armies of Piedmont and the Two Sicilies. For both you have a nice (even if schematic) introduction, organisation and different specialities are treated in order (infantry, cavalry corps, engineers, etc...) and then there is a short chapter about weaponry. Comparing it to other Osprey MAA, the uniformology is quite "light". Honestly it'd have been difficult to be more specific with so many troops to treat. Just assume Austrian armies of roughly the same period are treated in two different books (The Austrian Army 1836(1), for infantry and (2) for cavalry) and that's just one Nation! So I appreciate even more the skill of the author to concentrate the informations, many of them added in the description of the pictures inside the text or the plates, painted by Giuseppe Rava, probably the most skillful Italian military painter, compared to Angus McBride himself.



The plates are fantastic, they are a really great added value for the book, historically accurate and characterized by a great vivacity. In addition the booklet features a large number of illustrations and drawing from the period.

The next booklet will be focused on Papal army and volunteers.

My only complaint is about the chronology: the usual introduction about the conflict, more necessary because this is a greatly neglected conflict, has been splitted between the two books, thus in this one only 1848 events are described, the other years will be treated in the second one. I understand the choice from the point of view of the publisher, to respect the number of pages Osprey standard imposes. But this fact made me feel the book some of incomplete. I suppose is something it will be solved when this book will be placed in the shelves next to the second part. Luckily we shouldn't wait too long, I don't remember the publication date, but if I recall correctly should be available in some months time.


All the images are used with consent of G.Rava, taken from his official Facebook page, which I kindly suggest you to follow. The author is at disposition for any request from the Publisher.

PS If you're looking for the Austrians who fought the Italians (Kingdom of Sardinia at the beginning of the period), look for Osprey MAA 323 and 329! So actually we can consider Italian Wars of Unifications from Osprey to form a quadrilogy!

lunedì 28 agosto 2017

Commandos in training!


Back to my (first) 28mm WW2 project.

I always liked WW2, and last year, after my conversion to 28mm (Lion Rampant, Ronin) I decided to jump into this period, too, in order to be able to play a different game. The only club mate interested in the period had German and a friend of him American. He was complaining that he couldn't get many games and so I decided to start an army. 

They chose Bolt Action as ruleset, because it's easy to learn, quite fast (about 2-3 hours) and fun fo play, even if it's not the most historically accurate ruleset. But, hey, it's a game, after all!

Since Germans (I must admit, my first choice) had already been taken, I decided to go Brit. But, as some of you may know I dislike easy/common/mainstream armies and so I chose Commandos. 



Here some reasons:
  1. to be able to play several scenario: Commandos fought from 1941 to 1945 in almost any theather
  2. cheap plastic aivalable (see below)
  3. peculiar unit (I love veteran and strange troops)
  4. veteran units: more pointsworthy the unit less models needed, and it's not a secundary consideration when valuating to get into a totally new period

Last Christmas Warlord games had it's usual sprues' offer (50% IIRC), and I bought a consistent quantity of Commandos sprues (maybe 5), plus a plastic Commandos box, which gave me the weapon and more infantrymen. Later I found an action for MMG, Officers, medics and a beautiful AEC mk III. At Model Expo in Verona I eventually purchased straightly from Italeri stand a Churchill plastic set. So I was ready to start (for more details about my models, check this post on my blog)


Now (note that I looked accurately after purchasing the models) I started to looked the exact operations the Commandos were involved in.The issue was made easier by this excellent wikipedia page.

My attention was drawn by:

  1. Norwegian islands 1941,  I should use SAS models but I guess any Commando unit could go
  2. Sicily 1943, interesting to play against Italian not in the desert
  3. Normandy 1944. Too mainstream, but a good "generic" start
  4. Italy 1945 (last offensive in April) just a few weeks before the end of war in Italy (25th April) Commandos + partisans in the Comacchio lagoon against a generic Wehrmacht force

Norwegian islands (1940)
Early war period, very small actions (realistically playable in 1:1 ratio), and with a strong scenario objective (usually a fish oil and glycerol factory or a coastal battery or ships).  The main drawbacks are: limited troops choice (no tanks, no artillery) and Commandos always as attackers (except local counterattacks).


Sicily 1943
A good choice of enemy, in particular some Italian troops in a small, but interesting choice of scenarios (both Commandos attacks and Italian and Germans counter attacks, noticeably Malati bridge). One day I'll be glad to have a WW2 Italian army!

Normandy to Rhine (1944-1945)
The standard. Good selection of troops for both sides, an interesting addition is the Churchill AVRE supporting the operations (and I own a Churchill). From DDay to Rhine an interesting idea for a campaign as well.



Northern Italy 1945
In the late war, in the Comacchio lagoon, relatively near to where I live (in comparison with Norway, at least). Commandos spearheaded an advance against the latest German defensive lines. Supported by the North Irish Horse Churchills (yeah!) the crumbled the poor Germans. An interesting addition (already on my wish list) the LTV Buffalo!




Recently I discovered an other group of players (5-6) playing Bolt Action in my city and so I decided to prioritize the painting of my models.  I've just finished Ottoman Turkish (ok they need bases) my second army for Lion Rampant (so far my most played ruleset), so it's time to move to this new project. I hope in a few week I could be able to show you my first 500 points Commandos army.

lunedì 21 agosto 2017

Defending the DEFENSIBLE!


Two Condottieri clashed in my basement some evenings ago:  I led the Colleoni's retinue. Paolo led the Camposampiero's one. 

Camposampiero was a noble family from... Camposampiero, near Padua. They had a large fortune during XII century, controlling large territories, but eventually they supported the wrong sides and were virtually annihilated. In our game (set in the first half of XV century) one member of this family tries to defend the few possession still owned by the family. To reinforce his retinue he hired a mercenary force, composed by Swiss pikemens.

Having lost much of the past power Da Camposampiero was Sly (no morale bonus). Colleoni was lionhearted (re-roll up to two dice in combat). The Venetian Condottiere had to burn down the last Camposampiero tower.

The mission looked easy: Albanese Stradiotti hurried forward the tower, defended by one unit of foot sergeants and one of expert archers. However they managed to fail evasion and were caught by an unexpected assault from the men defending the tower. They were exterminated and the few survivors fled immediatly after.

The bold infantrymen then took a defensive position between two rough piece of terrains and effectively delayed further advances.

On Colleoni's left flank the skirmisher advance was repulsed by the prompt arrival of reinforcements (I never saw such a quick march from foot sergeants, probably my failed activation played a role).

On the right flank Camposampiero mounted men at arms launched repetead charges against the Venetian to gain time. They fought to the last men (comprising their commander), but by that time, a sturdy defensive line was formed in front of the tower, and the Venetian losses began to worry Colleoni. When his skirmisher were caught in the woods and routed he decided that the life of half of his man was a price to expensive to pay. The Camposampiero family was save once again.

Few years after they bended the knee and started fighting for Venice. But this is an other story, yet to be written.

In the nearby village no one expects a punitive raid

The stradiots are caught unprepared by Camposampiero's men advance.
The golden lion rampant in light blue field is the coat of arms of family Camposampiero. Two lions clashed here!



The Swiss mercenaries prevents further attacks