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



domenica 23 luglio 2017

My harvest! - Lion Rampant AAR

In Venetian Negroponte, a merchant hires a Condotta to fend off Turkish hands over his harvest.


Yesterday we played a game of Lion Rampant in my basement, and, as I learnt to be happy for the small things, for the first time since I started wargaming (i.e. 6 years ago, more or less) I could host a complete 28mm game using only my strenght: every miniature, scenery dice and ruleset was mine. Surely a result I could have achieved a lot earlier if I hadn't split my attention into different projects and always refused doing scenery (of course hating scratch building doesn't help me). But people grow up and hey, here we are! Of course some miniatures (just 12 actually) are still unpainted, and bases need to be finished, but I see it as a positive step.


After this ramble, the proper after action record.

The game was played by Steno (Ottoman Turkish) and my twin Edoardo (Venetian Condotta), I was the game master (too happy to lay down my new scenery). I roll on the scenario generator a "Sausage with mustard" game, but the list were chosen by them, they agreed for 30 points per side.

Ottoman Turkish
Foot MAA* @6 points
Expert Archers Janissery@6 points
Foot Sergeants@4points + 1 point for Musician (+1 morale)
Expert Mounted Yeomen@6points
Mounted Sergeants+bows@5 points
Bidowers@2 points

Venetian Condotta
Drilled Mounted MAA @7 points
Expert Foot Sergeants @6 points +1 point for Merchant (+1 morale)
Foot Sergeants@4 points
Bidowers@2 points
Bidowers@2 points
Mounted Yeomen@4 points
Archers@4 points

 

Background

Negroponte (now Euboea) an island in front of Greece in Venetian possession for centuries, during the Ottoman-Venetian war lasting from 1463 and 1479 was raided several times and finally conquered by the Ottoman after a long siege. We are in the earlier years of the war and the Merchant Alvise Valmarana has hired a condotta led by a Colleoni family member to defend his extensive properties on the island, mainly farms. The Turkish commander Ajeje Brazorf (of Serbian descent, as most of the Janissaries who were former christians) is going to burn down the just harvested grain to prevent the Venetian to supply the besieged city of Chalcis."

The commanders are rash (Ajeje) and Vulnerable (Colleoni).

Stradiots defending the four targets markers


Alvise pondering his chance to save his harvest!

Battle

The battle proved inconclusive, the Venetian Stradiots tasked to form fend off the first assaults, broke after a brief shooting engage. The Venetian commander died in battle (or was taken prisoner, who knows?) and one haystacks was set to fire by Turkish Azab (bidowers). The Turkish General and his Armoured Janissiers (foot men at arms) were chasing down almost any enemy they met (and who they were obliged to charge), and just Ajeje and one bodyguard stand at the end of the battle, which was called by me (as gamemaster) due to an heavy rainstorm hitting the battlefield.


the last standing of Colleoni!

Eventually an haystack is on fire!


Lot of fun was had by both the players, I also learnt how to modify pictures to make them more visually appealing, so a positive verdict for my first autarchic game!

venerdì 14 luglio 2017

All Roads Lead to Venice

Or at least to one of its outposts, trade center or emporium.
At least in the XII to XVI century.
At least in my mind (and gaming table)

Which way?

In WSS I read no tabletop gaming table can be considered complete without roads, for two simple reasons: roads are a costant landmark of any human inhabited area and your army need a way to reach the battlefield (of course opponent's one, too).

So I decided to add roads to my scenery collection, but I was unsure how. I could scratch build them, but I lack the time, so eventually I decided to buy some ready roads.

One of the thing I like most is flexible roads, so I looked for rubber roads on the net: most of my results led to very expensive options, until I found on ebay this seller: http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/jefferson64adrian?_trksid=p2047675.l2559 Jefferson Adrian aka "Fat Frank". He builds beautiful roads and other sceneries for wargaming at a very reasonable price.

I suggest you to follow his ebay account and his blog: http://fatfrankswargameterrain.blogspot.com


From the large amount of items availables I chose an intermediate scale, 70mm wide, and usable either with my 15mm or 28mm armies.

many shape aivalable!

a close up of the roads
I expect you will see them in almost every battle report I'll post from now on.