Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Art of Siege - Mines - or the Episode

The tunnel progresses using a grid square system - and this should include at least two angles or changes of direction, which makes estimation of the range slightly more difficult.  The defender can of course 'counter mine'....

Mining and sapping is a serious business, and Captain Shandy called in an expert advisor...

The Mine explodes!  Gosh!

A suitable marker gives the effect of the blast...

 with the neighbouring defenders stunned. If the breach has been made, the attacker will attempt to storm the Ravelin from the forward Saps.

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Art of Siege - Mines - or the Exposition

Working on a suitably Baroque structure, the key theme of the Siege is the reduction of the fortified place - and in particular the 'breach' - that is usually the finale.

This aspect of the siege offers the greatest challenge to the garden wargamer, and therefore it is best that we begin here - because not only is it possible to reproduce, but it also can be a most exciting  part of the whole game....

In this rule test, a French Ravelin is to be reduced:

So, to begin, the Chief Engineer of the Army is summoned, and the distant prospect of the town is surveyed.  The sappers and miners are then given their objective - and the tunnel begins from the rear trench line.

Suitable toy soldiers are useful, but not essential - and a mining company should include between four - six soldiers with an Officer, Sergeant and Cart.

The tunnelling can now begin...and in our most recent siege at Westmalle-Trappist the attackers built two tunnels!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Art of Siege - Prelude

 "when my uncle Toby discovered the transverse zig-zaggery of my father’s approaches towards it, it instantly brought into his mind those he had done duty in, before the gate of St. Nicholas; ---- the idea of which drew of his attention so entirely from the subject in debate, that he and got his right hand to the bell to ring up Trim, to go and fetch his map of Namur, and his compasses and sector along with it, to measure the returning angles of the traverses of that attack, -- but particularly of that one, where he received his wound upon his groin."
The Siege is very much the centre-piece of the Vauban and Shandy wargame.  As the rival Armies march and counter march across the 'chess board' of Flanders it is the defence and the attack of fortified places that is the norm, and the set-piece grand battle that is the exception.

And so it has proved with our humble miniature to date, and Monsieur B reflected that in our four years of playing the game, we have yet to have a general Field Engagement...but it is coming, perhaps in the Spring - and maybe at Landen or Steenqerck?

The siege game has been tremendous fun, and really a game of 'cat of mouse' - and the following dispatches will explore some of the subtleties of staging a siege - both indoors and outdoors, and we shall begin cover the art of Monsieur Vauban, with much zig-zaggery ...

but we begin with that most explosive of subjects - the Mine!


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Siege from the other side of the walls...

I am delighted to report that Dispatches have been published by the Frederickians - who are enjoying a glass of Port and planning the next encounter on the 'chess board' that is Flanders....

And some very atmospheric etchings to enjoy!




Thursday, 5 March 2015

A Zig-Zaggery of a Siege - Finale

With the saps and mines moving forward, the game became very intriguing indeed...and then 'Blue' launched a 'Forlorn Hope' against forward trench in front of the St Nicholas Bastion -  with a Company of Fusiliers in support.

The 'Forlorn Hope' crashed into the 'Red' trench - and mayhem ensued! 

And just as 'Blue' occupied the trench, the game 'erupted' into life with the explosion of the Mines.
The large 'party popper' bangs left a breach near the St Nicholas Bastion - which allowed the 'Red Dragoons' and the 'Red Forlorn Hope' to charge through.

The simultaneous assault on the right flank went in - more to test the rules - and 'Blue' created mayhem in the 'Red' ranks...

but 'Red' crashed through into another breach - thus concluding the game.  'Blue' could have retired into the Citadel, but instead they 'beat the Chamade' and claimed the Honours of War.

An excellent game in the best company - with rules analysis to follow.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Zig-Zagging forward!

The opening of the bombardment covers the sappers and infantry as they 'sap' forward towards the Glacis...

The trenches are simulated by high quality 'museum' style trench pieces - which have been oddly mistaken as bits of wicker plant basket coated in creosote (to keep the water off in outdoor games). 

The saps move closer to the Glacis and the sappers, pioneers and infantry begin to feel the weight of the defenders fire...

The saps move through the old brickworks, and underground the mining company are also approaching the Glacis.  Excitement is building...

Please note: the 'V&S' game has adhered to the absolute style of Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim who set the 'bench mark' in preparing terrain, and one therefore has to observe great caution when urinating out of the sash windows at Shandy Towers.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Zig-Zaggery of a Siege - Part 3

As the battle stage ended, it was time for the players* to begin a 'Siege stage' - which in effect is played on the map and simulates sapping/mining/digging/repairing and all the other aspects of siege.
It is nothing short of the 'Triumph of the Method' of Monsieur Vauban; and we bow at the mention of the very name!

The attacking 'Red' player sited his batteries and opened the 'saps' towards the glacis. He also began two mine tunnels.  The 'Blue' player used this phase to redeploy some of his Infantry, conduct repairs and begin a counter mine towards the 'Red' line of Circumvallation.   

The time for Zig-Zaggery and sapping had begun, and so the players returned to the normal battle moves.  And 'Red' began a grand cannonade of the Glacis, the city; taking care not to damage the priceless painting of Sophie, Princess of is a civilised age, after all.....

*It is time now to introduce the players as none other than Monsieur B, the founder and leader of the Frederickians and Monsieur T, a well known devotee of the wargame in the proper scale.  Both are true Wellsian's.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A Zig-Zaggery of a Siege - Part 2

The players having survived the scene, the initial moves saw the Frederickians (Blue) positioning a regiment of Dragoons to slow down the Electorate (Red) advance.

'Red' Dragoons quickly occupied Observation Hill and its commanding prospect of the Town.

And a Cavalry melee quickly developed on the right - with the 'Red' Dragoons just shading the contest...

So the scene was set for the arrival of the main body of the Duke's army...
And so the siege phase can begin...

Saturday, 28 February 2015

A Zig-Zaggery of a Siege - or Westmalle-Trappist invested

His Grace, the Duke of Blankshire and Parson Yorick, having had may trials and tribulations find themselves breaking Winter Quarters early (astonishing!) to lay siege to a Frederickian army that is positioned at Westmalle-Trappist...

A distant prospect of the town, with the St Nicholas Bastion to your left - the City Bastion to your centre - and the 'New Work' to your right.  The Grand Place and Citadel lie twinkling in the distance:

To your left is Observation Hill with the new Observatory - why should the Church get all the domes in the Age of Reason?
The view from Observation Hill could be very useful...
 Meanwhile, in the town, all is being prepared...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Food for thought?

It is indeed excellent to be back - and the fine local grocery store - 'Fortnum and Mason' which was founded during the Succession War in 1707 (which is yesterday, in these parts) has produced a very fine and unexpected wargaming aid:

Perhaps all games played with the 'Vauban and Shandy' rules will use chocolate dice?  For the record the tasting notes would suggest that they have a ginger flavour, and are ideal with a glass of Marsala, Madeira or Port Wine.

"and was not Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim preserved in the foul trenches before Limerick by the Brandy, wine, cinnamon and the 'Geneva which did us more good than all'..." *
*Holcroft Easton Glebe - 'The siege of Limerick in a country garden'  unpublished mss in the authors collection.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Back - and Campaigning in the Winter!

After a year of tumults, Captain Shandy is pleased to inform your worships...
that he is back!  And 'campaigning in the Winter' is about to begin, with much ‘zig-zaggery’ indeed:

 "In the year one thousand seven hundred and eighteen, when this happened, it was extremely difficult; so that when my uncle Toby discovered the transverse zig-zaggery of my father’s approaches towards it, it instantly brought into his mind those he had done duty in, before the gate of St. Nicolas;—the idea of which drew off his attention so intirely from the subject in debate, that he had got his right hand to the bell to ring up Trim to go and fetch his map of Namur, and his compasses and sector along with it, to measure the returning angles of the traverses of that attack…”