May 26, 2018

The Guns of August 2018

It's official.. I will be running several sessions of Beneath the Lily Banners/The War of Three Kings at the Guns of August show...

When the PEL becomes available I'll have more details, including how you can sign up to get in on one of these games...

May 16, 2018

Interview: The War of Three Kings

This interview was recorded right after 1672 game using Nick Eyre's wonderful collection at WI headquarters. The game featured a numerically inferior Dutch Army taking on the mighty French during the infamous Rampjaar (Disaster Year).

Dan Faulconbridge of WI allowed a dodgy character to ramble on about the rules, why we made certain decisions and future developments from Warfare, WordTwister, and Quindia Studios.

May 6, 2018

Wandering Around Ireland, Part VII

After trekking up and down both banks of the Boyne, we set out to find the point where the Jacobites mounted a desperate rear guard in a walled graveyard on the crest of Donore Hill. It's not on the map. We pretty much drove around the hill and tried various sheep tracks (Barry called them roads...) that led in the general direction of the peak. After several wrong turns, Barry stopped to talk to an older gentleman who was out in his yard. He pointed us up the road 'a ways' where there was a sharp bend. A closed iron gate barred a gravel side road. There was no sign for the graveyard, nor was there a 'NO TRESPASSING' sign (in America you might be taking your health in your hands by wandering through a closed gate). Naturally, in the spirit of our fence climbing we opened it and proceeded up the hill.

We did indeed find the graveyard. From the crest of the hill, you can see all the way to Oldbridge.

Bob, Barry, and Paul awaiting the Williamite horsemen... The graveyard is actually raised above the crest of the and is surrounded by a stone wall. I always wondered how a graveyard made such a good defensive position, but it makes much more sense to me after walking around it.

There's that fancy new bridge across the Boyne. There is a steep drop beyond that hedgerow. This probably the direction King William and his troops approached from initially.

This would have been a formidable obstacle, especially to horse. I love that brooding sky...

Standing inside the graveyard, looking down on the fields...

There was the remains of a tiny chapel in the center of the graveyard.

A second stone outbuilding flanked the only gate. It's unclear if this would have been part of the wall in 1690, but it makes a great detail to add when I get around to building a model inspired by Donore Hill (it is now where the caretaker stores his lawnmower)! The road (there's that word again) stretching away behind the jeep leads to the iron gate.

West of the graveyard is an old quarry and the caretaker believed it also might be the site of an unmarked graveyard where criminals, unwed mothers, or others denied burial on consecrated ground were laid to rest. 

The view to the north...

I took two score pics of gravemarkers, but I'll just post the one. Many of these have deteriorated beyond any chance of reading them.

This was a fantastic stop and I'm glad we went looking for it. Between the views and the inspiration for a great model I have yet to build, it was one of the highlights of the trip. Thanks to Paul for taking this pic of the three musketeers...

One more post to go... the bridge at Duleek!

April 30, 2018

The Walls of Limerick, Part III

I've made some progress on my project for the Guns of August show this summer. It is August 24th-26th and I am definitely attending, though I will only be there Saturday and Sunday. The plan is to run the game twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. I have more detail to do on the walls of Limerick, but some of that will be easier do once the models are attached to the tiles. Before doing that I wanted to build the glacis and covered way that had been constructed outside the walls. The photos aren't great because the expanse of white foam fought all efforts to get decent contrast and the results are a bit over exposed, but you can get the idea.

The gabions are plastic kits of Renedra Limited. These come in halves which worked out perfect to model the fort because I wanted them half buried in the front wall.

The glacis will be a longer slope when I break out the filler to blend all of these features into the board. Multiple layers of texture and scattered debris like buckets, spare timber, and fascines will all be added at some point. However, my next step is to turn my attention back to the walls, fixing them permanently to the tiles and adding another layer of detail to them.

Luckily, these two tiles will represent the bulk of complex modeling. I need to make six more tiles, two with smaller trenches and one with a river shore, but they should be quick work after these. The remaining tiles are pretty much flat and open. I also need to build a small redoubt for a gun that stands just outside the gate and a larger one for the Yellow Fort.

I've also started the expansion of the units I'll need to put on the game at 1:15 or 1:10 give or take... this means standard infantry units of five stands rather than three, though my Danish Guard will weigh in at SEVEN stands! Luckily, due to the fact that a standard two-stand squadron in BLB actually represents two squadrons at the normal scale, I have all of the horse I need to cover the squadrons I'll use for this game.

Twelve more models to go for this battalion... more soon!

April 27, 2018

Video Tour of The War of Three Kings

Wargames Illustrated posted a video where they give you a good look inside the War of Three Kings and discuss a few of the mechanics...

April 16, 2018

The Walls of Limerick, Part II

A little bit of math, lots of carving, and possibly some harsh words later...

The initial step, and the most important to get right, was to layout the front wall. This is where most of the harsh words came in. All of the angles had to meet up with each other and line up with the edges of the boards.

The walls were detailed by carving scattered stones with a scalple and then going over all of the cuts with a ball point pen. The pen makes a nice bevel on the edges of the stones and ensures the detail won't be filled in by the layers of paint coming up. Cutting the stones in initially with a blade means you can use a piece of balsa wood to press some of the stones into the surface which adds a cool bit of detail with very little extra effort. I'm going to add a few stones cut from slivers of foam that will stand out from the wall as well, adding yet another layer.

The windows were pressed down in the same manner as I just described. When painted it will add to the illusion of depth.

Very pleased how well all of the parts actually fit together...

So here's where I am after the weekend. The angled wall with the walkway will be attached to one board and the citadel and it's adjoining wall be attached to the other. The central wall with the gate will remain loose so it can be replaced with a section of rubble. No, this wasn't deja vu - I explained this in the first post, but I thought it made more sense now that there are photos!

Next up are the details.. gates, doors, trapdoors, stairs... stay tuned!

Oh! And thanks to everyone who reached out to send me photos from Limerick - your contributions are much appreciated!

April 13, 2018

The Walls of Limerick, Part I

Every so often I get the urge to launch some sort of stupid large project. Ever since my partner's series on the Walls of Derry, I've wanted to do something similar. My trip to Derry last year reinforced the desire. Finally, I'm planning to run some games at a small local show if my schedule works out - The Guns of August in Newport News, Virginia. Rather than just set up something from my existing collection, I decided to build a new table and go all out.

Sorting through the mound of books I've collected on the campaign of Ireland, my first inclination was to do something around Derry again. However, then I stumbled on the first siege of Limerick. Gamers often ignore sieges thinking them to be dull., static affairs of battering walls with cannons, but both Derry and Limerick feature several small actions in the form of sallies that make perfect tabletop games.

On August 20, 1690, the besieging Williamite army launched an assault from their siege trenches to capture Yellow Fort, a small, open-backed redoubt outside St John's Gate. It took several attempts, but they were successful. The Jacobites responded in force with a sally by four battalions of foot and three squadrons of horse, countered in turn by more infantry and cavalry from the Williamites, including one of my favorite unit - the Danish Foot Guard.

To bridge the gap between the small forces involved in the initial assault and the battalions that later took the field, I've also decided to reduce the man to model ratio which will give me foot battalions of five to seven stands rather than the standard three. This will allow me to represent the detachments with a significant number of models rather than the 4-5 each would muster at the default scale.

I'll go into more detail about the scenario and forces involved in a later post, but for now I just want to introduce the project.

The walls of Limerick were between 25 and 30 feet high with a narrow walkway on the top. A ditch was excavated outside the stone wall and the spoil used to build a counterscarp, covered way, and glacis. The tiny section of wall I'm building is St John's Gate, seen above on the left end of Irish Town. The old citadel near St John's Gate was pulled down and replaced with a new bastion and an earthen demilune constructed outside. My first step for any project like this is sketches which I then take to the computer to make a scale diagram. This was extremely important for this project because there are very few right angles and it was going to be a pain to make sure everything lines up properly.

I spent a lot of time messing around with scales and angles to decide exactly how to lay this out. There were a few things to take into account...

1. I wanted to avoid a 'square' table. By this I mean 95% of games you usually see... side A is lined up on this table edge and Side B is on the other. The historical design actually helps this as the wall runs away from the gate at an angle. The battalions will actually end up facing down each other diagonally across the board.

2. I wanted the fortress to be permanently attached to the boards, but I wanted to keep things flexible so I can use these for other scenarios. What I decided was to use 2x2' boards. The bastion would be attached to one and the wall to the other, with the gate section remaining loose and 'bridging' the boards. This will allow me to replace that piece with a breach to play another style of game. Not sure if that makes sense, but it will be illustrated as the project progresses.

3. I wanted the counterscarp (and the siege trenches - more on that later) modeled as a permanent part of the boards, but decided to build the demiline as a separate model so I can use it as a redoubt in other games. The Yellow Fort will also be a separate model.

4. I wanted to be able to expand this in the future, possibly boards BEHIND the wall for urban based scenarios.

5. So, yeah - I'm building a new 4x8' table, the walls of Limerick, probably a few city buildings, siege trenches, and oh, and I need to paint around 120 infantry to bring my units up to strength at this scale... by the end of August.

Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy and I'll get into the actual construction in the next post...

April 9, 2018

Wandering Around Ireland, Part VI

After deciding no one was going to attempt to follow in the steps of the Dutch Guard and cross the river, we climbed back up onto the road. Walking north we climbed a steep rise and then turned east to walk the area where the Williamite forces advanced. The area was enclosed in a cattle fence, though luckily there were no livestock present that day.

I thought this was a cool bit of detail below. Not that this crag was necessarily present in 1689, but it might have been. I just thought it looked like wargame terrain.

Something that doesn't come out in the photographs is the height of the slopes. Here we see a wee Hilton at the bottom of the hill down which the Williamite infantry would have marched on their way to the crossing. He's probably got a photo of a wee Harrison at the top of the hill..

The ridge north of the same position is possibly where some of the Williamite artillery was deployed.

A view east toward Grove Island. Yellow Island lies beyond, though I don't think it was visible in this photo. The islands were probably less heavily forested in 1690 - I believe the troops could see one another across the river. Contemporary drawings only show scattered trees, but you know how those artist types are...

There's a wee Talbot in the distance. This is one of the few photos I managed which shows how steep the slope leading down to the river is. Waaaay back in the distance you can see the support tower of a very modern bridge that spans the Boyne. That is just about where Drybridge is, the site of King William's less than graceful crossing. For those that don't know King William either climbed down from his horse after it got stuck half way across (or was thrown off depending on the account) and nearly drowned. A burly Enskillener carried/pulled the King across - far different than all of those heroic paintings of King Billy prancing across on a white steed...

Back on the southern side of the Boyne, this time facing west toward Grove Island... or maybe this was Yellow Island... hey, it's been a year. They were both there, I just don't remember which one this is.

Finally, this is aforementioned Drybridge, or thereabouts. We were in the shadow of that great beast of a new bridge. Again, I tried to get Barry and Bob to recreate this crossing, suggested that Bob would make a better Enskillener which put Barry the role of King... they just weren't going for it...

Up next is one of my favorite parts of the whole trip... the Hill of Donore.