Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Heavy rainstorms

All fronts, 17th October 1713

Our 14th campaigning week has started with an extremely bad weather. Heavy courtains of rainwater are ceaselessly falling all week through, not only filling up river beds but making them to overflow with violence and flooding over fields and built-up areas. Roads have become quagmires if flat, and crazy torrents if sloping. As a result, all military movements of both sides have had to be cancelled this week.

Also, extremely rough sea has forced ships to remain anchored in safe harbours, or hurriedly seeking a convenient refuge if patrolling open waters; so that the two British volunteer battalions just arrived in Majorca, for instance, have had no other chance than giving up from sailing to Catalonia --where so needed they were.

A forced immobility spreads all over the front while men and horses seek the best shelter they can against the water hell unleashed upon their heads.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A considerable booty

Barcelona, 16th October 1713

Like every morning, General Villarroel entered the austere building of the Army Headquarters, close to the Generality Palace, and started painfully climbing the stairs up to his own office. "I am getting old", he thought with a gasp when reached the top.

When entering the main hall, General Villarroel found an unexpected turmoil. Officers and assistants were voicing here and there, forming rings amidst loud comments and laughter. Surprised and hesitant, the old general stood for a moment under the lintel. It only lasted a moment, however. Recovering his composure, he angrily shouted: --Please, gentlemen! ..or is it perhaps the fish market?

All those in the room shut up, but their faces still showed satisfaction. Then one of the rings opened and the Military Deputy emerged from it and came close to the general: --Oh, dear General Villarroel! There are good news; very good news indeed, I'd say!

Villarroel was the supreme commander of the army, but the Military Deputy was the highest civil authority in military matters, so that Villarroel slightly bowed his head to greet him, while asking: --And then?

--It's the Nostra Donna de Montserrat, General.

--The privateer from Alghero?

--True, she has just anchored with a considerable booty behind: four large merchantmen, five cabotage boats and a war galley just captured to the Spaniards.

--Extraordinary indeed --Villarroel admitted, still serious.

The Military Deputy drew an even wider smile: --But best is the stuff these ships carried, sir. A complete month's salary for the invading army, as well as some back payments... I've calculated that, after the appropriate partitions with Donna's charterer, we have earnt not less than 3 months of salary for our Parliament and Generality regiments! ...not to say about the business it can be done by reselling the captured ships to individuals...

Villarroel was unable to repress a smile too. As a strategist, the Military Deputy was a real inept, but a best administrator instead. Although he was convinced the man would somehow manage to obtain a discreet personal gain from the deal... He would bet in whose hands would fall one of the captured ships.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


La Panadella Heights, 15th October 1713

[This is another AAR, this time accounted from the point of view of the officer in command of the Catalan horse force whose engagement was masterly reported at Murdock's Marauders website under the title of "Plans de Sió AAR". A million thanks to MurdocK for their proxy gaming and report!]

Colonel Dalmau was pretty angry with his Regiment's troopers. After their failure to charge at Plans de Sió, he had to employ himself hard to rally them again. He ordered men to stand in formation and waited for a couple of minutes, silently watching them. He finally dismounted without a word --not even a breaking ranks order.

He then crossed the courtyard of the manor house where Marquis of Poal had installed his headquarters, while mechanically brushing his coat with a hand. Once in front of the house door, he cleared his throat and mentally cursed not having taken the wine glass an assistant had offered to him.

When he got into Marquis of Poal's improvised desk room, the general spoke in a low voice, without even raising his eyes from the papers in his hands.

--You had been given quite precise orders, Dalmau. And these stated nothing about withdrawing the assigned position.

--Sire, we managed to repulse two squadrons of enemy horse, Sire.

The Marquis calmly lifted his eyes, and spoke again with that very same, dreadful low voice.

--This war is a bloody complicated one, Dalmau. We aren't to win by big field battles, so that our only chance is that everyone does what he's demanded to. Absolutely. You were ordered to hold position, not coming here to tell me excuses. Whenever I'm issuing an order, I want it to be obeyed. I can not afford sending you and your men to hell, but by Faith that I would.

--Sire, it will not happen ever again, Sire.

--Alright Dalmau, that's all. You can leave. And get ensured your men are rested enough tomorrow, for you are going for a mission again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Engagement at sea AAR

Balearic Sea, 15th October 1713

[Here you are an AAR of the naval engagement happened this turn in front of Tarragona shores, selflessly proxy played for us by Jeroen72. He has also had the extreme kindness to deliver me his AAR under form of a really thrilling and fun narration, although with no pictures. So that I've thought it better keeping his original writing --with only the exception of replacing the quotation marks normative in English for delimiting dialogues. I've used double slashes instead, as usually done in Romanesque languages. Please excuse me for this oddity, I've done it for consistence with the rest of my blog entries. Lots of thanks to Jeroen72 again for his help and brilliant narration!]

--Deck there! Sails fine off the larbord bow!!

On the Nostra Donna de Montserrat deck, the small cluster of officers standing on the quarterdeck looked or moved in the indicated direction.

--That must the convoy we heard about, Sir --one junior officer said.

--9 transports!! 1 galley escorting!!

Rumors had been circulating that the Spanish were preparing a convoy destined for Tarragona and when they had intercepted a small fishing vessel a few days ago rumors proved to be true. Now they had found them.

--Deck there! Not one, but two galleys!!

When they looked again they saw the second galley appear from the rear of the convoy.

--Hrrrrmph! It's getting better and better by the minute. --it was Captain Ferret who spoke now.

They saw a small puff of smoke coming from the first galley.

--Transports are taking in sail, Sir...

--I'm guessing they want to keep the convoy together.

--Galleys are taking their sails in too, Sir...

Captain Ferret nodded: --Prepare for battle gentlemen...and may god preserve us all...

The enemy vessels were slowly approaching, along each side of them the oars were lifting and falling rhythmically. The effect was perfectly beautiful. They lay low in the water, immensely long for their beam. Their bows blazed with gilding. From the bows of each galley guns pointed straight forward in the direction the galleys moved, the only thing marring their appearence.

--They make a fine looking pair, Sir!

--Hrrrrmph! Indeed they do!

--Carthagena’s their usual station, Sir.

--Yes, Yes... and now they're here...Two of them indeed! That will even things up a bit, i think...

Suddenly a cloud of smoke obscured the first galley... and a second later the second galley fired too...

--Bloody hell! --Captain Ferret exclaimed-- That’s a bloody big gun they have forward. That’s a lot bigger than we’ve got!

--We’re still out of range, sir --his lieutenant quietly said-- But closing fast now.

Again the first galley fired, her shots hitting hard. Through the smoke he saw the foremast of the "Donna" slowly fall and crash onto the foreship. With shock he saw men and guns being crushed and buried by debris, some of them screaming horribly, others lying still in puddles of blood.

--We haven’t fired a shot yet…We aren't firing..we aren't firing, Why aren’t we firing...? --Captain Ferret shouted as loud and fiercely as he was able to: --FIRE!!!

The broadside of the "Donna" was ragged but still powerful. He felt the guns discharge and the hull tremble, a cloud of smoke billowed up....

--Keep pouring it into them lads!!

When the smoke cleared he saw the damage they had done. The once beautiful galley looked in a horrible shape, bodies littering her deck, her oars shattered, blood running down her sides and her main guns dismounted. Captain Ferret shouted to them:

--Surrender!? Haul down your flag!

Some on board of the galley raised their muskets and shouted their defiance, but another with a cooler head tore down their flag and shouted back: --Yes! Yes! "Nos rendimos!"

More screaming, firing, metal shrieking across the deck and shots hitting brought his thoughts back him to the other galley. When he looked around saw the second galley turn and fire, shots again hitting .

--LOOK OUT SIR! --someone shouted... Too late, Captain Ferret felt a firm push in his back and... He woke up in his cabin, raised his head and saw his servant bustling around and putting away some papers.

--What happened?

--You’re awake, Sir? Wait a minute, Sir. I’ll get the lieutenant he can explain these thing much better than I’m able to...

Two minutes later his lieutenant entered the cabin.

--So, What happened??

--Well, Sir... You’ve been quite lucky. When the galley fired her shot tore away a large part of the aft mast. You would have been crushed or at least seriously wounded if someone hadn’t pushed you out of the way. Now you’ve got an ugly bump on the head.

--What happened to the other galley??

--We pounded her like the first one BUT she wouldn't surrender... We had to sink her... Nasty business in the end, Sir...

--And the convoy?

--When they saw the fight was lost they tried to leg it but a few shots across their bows stopped that silliness. We have all of them. We've won and we’re sailing to Barcelona, Sir --his face lightening up.

--Hrrrrmph! Indeed we have...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bois de Boulogne

Paris, 25th September 1713

Putting her horse to step, Claire Baizanville toured the main path of Bois de Boulogne, seeking the roundabout where Marquis of Vilana had summoned her. She found him easily, just where expected, quietly contemplating the squirrels from branch to branch while his horse grazed freely.

Claire was amazed at his ability to find delightment in such simple things. But she understood perfectly: they had accomplished their diplomatic mission with a success and the Montesa clergyman had been delivered to French authorities, who held him in a luxury sanatorium. Freed from their duties by the Marquis of Vilana, the soldiers of his retinue had decided going for some celebration, and at that time they'd likely be snoring in the arms of any dissolute girl...

But she delt deeply troubled instead, uncomfortable with such forced inactivity. Even more uncomfortable in a metropolis like Paris, where she had left many enemies behind in the past. Enough to fear a bad encounter at every turn: spurned suitors, baffled lenders, humiliated officers... Consequently, Claire was the only one in the company still surreptitiously armed to the teeth...

As soon as he recognized her, the Marquis outlined a frank smile: --My dear Claire, I am so happy at your company! ...wish I was only ten years younger, as to properly court you...

Claire could not repress a smile. The Marquis always had a compliment ready for her. Responding to the Legacy cordial invitation, she agreed to sit beside him. The Marquis glanced for long at her before continuing: --Claire, I'd like to wholeheartedly thank your dedication. You have amply fulfilled all expectations about you. Perhaps you'd like to know that I've written a letter of recommendation to your superiors, as well as the Prince President himself. Your dedication deserves a reward.

Claire whispered some thankful words, concealing her disappointment. The mission had been completed, so she ought to go back to Monte-Cristo. End of adventures. The Marquis studied her reaction, and then he drawed a cunning smile and added: --I'm wondering whether you still would have the time to do one last thing for me...

--And then, Sire?

--I'd like to entrust you a last mission. I have 2 messages for you --and gave her two wax sealed envelopes--. You should go to Vienna and hand deliver them to their respective recipients.

Vienna? ...when Claire looked at the names written on envelopes, could not prevent an exclamation of surprise: --The Emperor himself?

--Yes, Claire. And the other one is for the Princess Elisenda.

--And afterwards?

--You should accompany Princess Elisenda and ensure her safety, as you did with me. I'll be waiting for you both here in Paris.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some scenery pieces

It seems that these next weeks will be a quite exciting ones! Two battles are to be played within our current turn but, as I'm not participating in any of them because will be done by proxy, I'll have no other chance than sitting around and anxiously wait for news from front --as if a Central Headquarters officer I was...

ARGHHHHHHHHH... can't bear with it any more!!!

The battles to be proxy gamed soon are the naval encounter and the cavalry clash. There is also a third battle this turn, a civilian revolt in a town, that I'm still uncertain whether I'll be able to directly play it, or if someone will offer himself for gaming it by proxy too. Just for case, I've already started to hurriedly increase my buildings collection by the fastest way I've been able to think of: cut-out paper models. This also helps quite reducing tension...

Buildings included in these two sets are supposedly medieval, but I've thought they could fit well enough in an 18th centuiry layout, provided some small details are added at the last step, such as window blinds, maybe one or two shop signs, and perhaps wall lampposts or so. Their scale is 1:87 (railways H0 gauge), so that they could be used either for 15mm or 20mm layouts --and this is OK for me, because I'd started thinking around gaming it with a nearly forgotten stock of 20mm plastic figures I have...

A compulsory adaption I must do is that of making roofs lower, for they are too steep for a Mediterranean house. They should be about 30º with respect to ground, while are currently at 45 or 50º. As I want the buildings to be sturdier than this thin cardboard they come printed in, I'm assembling them on a foamcard structure for added strength. However, I'm still doubtful whether making roofs removable or not... Sure that such feature would be great for an eventual WWII or SCW game, but for 18th century gaming...? Well, let's keep working on walls... and roofs will come later, hopefully with a decision already taken! As soon as I have some presentable results at hand, I'll show these at my painting blog, soldadets.blogspot.com. Don't expect any hyper-fast work though!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Some of a problem

I'll be having some of a problem in the next weeks. The military campaign giving life to this weblog is risking to be stopped for a while. The reason is that my gaming mate Jordi won't be able to pay all the attention he'd wish to it, because his wife is close to having their second child (my most sincere congratulations, Jordi!!).

It wouldn't be that of a problem for me, if the current turn had not produced 3 battles.

The first one is a quite conventional field battle with small, balanced forces: two Dragoons squadrons per side, of the very same quality, armament and size. The only significant differerence between them is that the Spanish force is accompanied by a General. Terrain has already been selected and I must say it seems quite appropriate for a cavalry clash: mostly flat with one or two low hills, besides of one or two small farms, a small forest, a cereal field (already harvested I'd say, for it's October) and a narrow, likely fordable stream.

The second one is a urban fight. Population of a large town under Two Crowns occupation (Lleida) has just revolted against the garrison. This is a somehow more complex scenario, likely better to be played with single-based figures using a "fast & furious" skirmish ruleset. The town itself is tightly encased between a major river and a steep hill with a modern fortress on top. So steep are the hill slopes, and so close is fortress to town, that there is no possible inter-action between them (I mean, there's no angle enough for the fortress defenders to shoot directly at town and inversely). I imagine a purely urban scenario where, after gaining the City Hall, the armed mob will try to control two key places else: a streets crossroads leading to the fortress main gate, and a bridge over the river along with the bridgehead bastion --where the main road to Barcelona starts from. Garrison targets would be the same. Forces are slightly favourable to insurgents in numbers, but widely favourable to the garrison in terms of quality.

The third one is a small naval battle. A 3-masted Catalan corsair has intercepted a Spanish convoy in their way to Tarragona harbour. That convoy would consist of some 3-4 cargo ships, either unarmed or very lightly armed --1-2 xebecs and 1-2 brigantines. Their escort would be 1-2 large 2-masted galleys with up to 3 cannons at bow and some minor pieces at sides and stern.

I can assume a solo resolution of one of these battles, but not all of them three. And I wouldn't like to indefinitely halt the campaign until Jordi is available again.

Please might anyone carry with any of these battles, or at least acknowledge me of any fast, non-miniatures resolution method for them? If the first case, appropriate maps, briefings, OOBs and so would be delivered, of course. In exchange, I only beg to be sent some briefing and picture on the fight.

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Riots and sortitions

Barcelona, 14th October 1713

Both news arrived almost simultaneously in Barcelona, and simultaneously spread throughout the Principality too, with the expansive force of gunpowder --with not less explosive consequences.

News came from Vienna first --overtime and to some extent unexpected to many: Lady Elisenda Folc de Cardona had been formally crowned as Princess by Archduke Charles and later was summoned to Versailles, where the Legate Marquis of Vilana was already waiting for her. Visible results of a complex sequence of negotiations carried out at Monte-Cristo, Rastatt and Versailles had just begun to be publicly known now, like a delicate piece of tatting parsimoniously unfolded face to one's eyes.

And news came from Madrid too, for Philip d'Anjou's queen consort, Marie-Louise of Savoy, who was affectionately known as "La Saboyana" by her subjects, had died the week before at an early age of just 25 years old, victim of a deadly illness. No one in Catalonia openly rejoiced, because even there was kept a fond memories of that pretty, extroverted girl who had become Queen of Spain a few years ago --but to no one escaped that such mournful event would have hit hard their enemies' morale, particularly that one of king Philip V.

Under influence of both combined news there were great celebrations everywhere in the Principality. Sadly, at some places there were incidents and riots too, with damages to properties of signified botiflers. But the most significant event would happen in Lleida city, under Two Crowns troops occupation since 1707. An euphoric, exalted crowd assaulted the City Council and the local militia battleflag was raised from a balcony mast. After this, the arsenal locks were forced and the armed crowd rushed against the Two Crowns garrison, who had to flee up to the fortress overlooking the town.

Revolt had broken out in Lleida.

Some in Barcelona managed to take the news pretty more calmly and thoughtfully, however. The internal situation had taken a dramatic turn, and they ought to respond with bold and fast measures. It was necessary for them to perform now. After a long secret meeting of representatives belonging to the Busca popular party, their leader Rafael Casanova went straightly to the City Council --conveniently followed by a good number of his most loyal supporters-- and demanded an interview with Major Manuel Flix.

--This city needs a new goverment. Sortition must be called for, right now! --he claimed.

Intimidated, Major Flix agreed; he had no other chance anyway for, had it not been for the war, the elections process would have been called for long ago. The sortition date was set to November 1st.