Saturday, 24 September 2016

Delivery disappointment—with epilogue

A big part of wargaming for me is reading about the history, so I am a great collector of books.

In recent years my purchasing has become quite prolific (perhaps even over the top!) driven by the availability of so many books, large and small, 'classics' or reprints, even new material at a fraction of the price compared with those of my youth. I frequently purchase books from various on-line vendors (resellers who do international delivery, Amazon and the like); I am sure that I am joined by many of you in this. My experience has been 99% satisfied with the service and delivery of product as described.

It's against this background that a recent, rare, negative experience leads me to put fingers to keyboard to relate it to others.

I made a sizeable order from a vendor whom I have used many times previously. This involved seven, books, mainly second-hand, but two of them new, ranging in price from a mere £4 up to £34. This came to a sum total of £150.00 (including postage), or $268.96 in my language. Pretty serious money as far as I am concerned.

Imagine my reaction when, yesterday, my wife collected the package from our post office and it looked like this:

 Such a thin cardboard box afforded little protection for the contents.

 Our postal service had 'plugged' many of the holes and rips.

A few air-filled bags had been thrown in above the books...
 , but there was ample unfilled space for them to move and 'break-free' from the confines of the 'world's thinnest' cardboard!

Second-hand books that were now more second-hand

 and 'new' books with damage to the lower corners of the covers.

My disappointment (to put it mildly) was and is all the greater as this is now the second time that sub-standard packaging has occurred with this same vendor. The first, far worse than this, resulted in damage to a volume from the lovely "Splendeur des Uniformes de Napoleon" series. In that case, the poor packaging resulted in the book becoming water-damaged.

 Not so splendiferous. Note water damage to the lower right corner of the front cover,

  far worse on the rear,
  and inside rear.
 (The plastic covering is my own. I cover all of my books).

In related the water damage to the vendor, suggesting that he review how books are packaged when sending them long distances by international mail (around 15 000 km). I received an apology, of sorts, and an assurance (again of sorts) that he'd ensure it did not happen again.

I should have taken the lack of any real concern as a warning...

The, frankly, sh!thouse packaging from this vendor is in stark contrast to the obvious care and attention that others take. I may pay a little more for the privilege, but the books arrive in the same condition in which they were sent; and I have paid for.

I have sent a note with my disappointment to the vendor involved, along with photos of the packaging and (slight) damage to the books. We'll see what the response is, but, now twice bitten, I'm strongly inclined to "not be fooled again"!

I realise that this has been a bit of a 'whingey' post; not something that I want to do often on this forum. My hope and intention in doing so is to alert others, perhaps to draw comments of similar disappointment—plus to get it off my chest!


I received a reply from the vendor, with a non-apology and a reasonable offer.
Hmm, well, we normally uses cardboard like that- and thinner- with absolutely no problem- but they shouldn't really be filled with air bags, just cut down to size.
Looks as if that was placed sideways-on in transit and squashed between some heavy duty stuff- I'd be challenged to reproduce that damage if I tried. IF it had been upright the bags would have crushed but the corners would have been saved. We fill a large post office van everyday but this the first damage report we've had in many a month - apart from 2 wet packets a few weeks ago. the Post offices are normally very careful
OK, hang onto the box and the books for about 3 weeks. If you don't get a call from the postal services during that time, just ship them back to me. I'll pay of course,  cheapest method (This is where I am reminded that Royal mail is one of the cheapest services in the world)  I'll send you out replacements

I checked with Mark, for whom the ‘Wargaming History’ volumes were purchased and he’d rather have and read the books now, with the slight defects, than wait another several months for a turn around. He’s less fussed about the damage than I.

For mine, now twice bitten, I’ll put it down to experience.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Battle of Mollwitz, 10th April 1741

Historically, Mollwitz was the first victory for the recently crowned Frederick II of Prussia.

This was another chance to use our snow terrain (yippee!) as, despite the date (10th April), a snow storm in the days prior to the battle had left the field covered in heavy snow.

 The armies advance towards one another.

Taking advantage of the Austrian compromised deployment, the Zieten hussars charged their Austrian foes...
(Frederick had befuddled them so that they had turned about and now had light cavalry in the van and regiments with seniority on their left!)

 ... and were victorious, capturing the enemy's flag and causing some of the Austrian heavies to be carried away with their retreat. An early Prussian victory!

On came the infantry attack.

On the Prussian right, Schulenburg's 12 pdfs saw a lovely target...
... and were particularly accurate.

This affront seemed to be a signal to the Austrians who unleashed their ace: their superior numbers of cavalry.
 Precipitating large cavalry mêlées...

 ... on both flanks.

The cavalry mêlées went the way of the Hapsburgs, but they were not as victorious as they would have liked (and needed to be). As in the real thing, and in a pure piece of wargaming serendipity, the Austrian cavalry general Römer was killed in these combats! 

The limited Austrian artillery had not caused the advancing Prussians too many casualties, but a chance, bounce-through hit General Prinz Leopold, causing him to need a fresh horse.

The Austrian cavalry had control of the Prussian left flank, but the opposing grenadiers would not be easy to deal with. 

The opposing lines came within musketry range and the volleys began. 

Austrian cavalry on the Prussian left sought to complete their ascendency.

Back on the Prussian right, the grenadiers were keeping the enemy cavalry at bay.

Early Austrian advantage in the firefight lead Frederick to be convinced by General Schwerin to convince his monarch to retire from the field (a roll of two for initiative causing this effect).

 The infantry closed to close range along the entire line.

 ...The Austrian cavalry on the Prussian left had found a flank. Too little, too late?

 Close range musketry resulted in the lines of both armies being greatly reduced.

Casualties had mounted up so that both the Austrians, with 1/3 losses, and the Prussians, with 1/4 losses—just under 1/3) had to take an army withdrawal test.

All quiet.
The Austrians failed their test and withdrew.
Shattered by their exertions, the Prussians moved to the shelter of Mollwitz and surrounding villages to rest and recuperate.

As Jeff Berry states in his post about the battle on his fine 'Obscure Battles' blog (see below),
"Mollwitz was a long, tedious, and bloody battle (lasting over seven hours, interminable by 18th century standards). Each side lost approximately 4,000 casualties (KWC), the Prussians actually a little more. But the Prussians kept the field, and so, under the stilted conventions of Enlightenment warfare, won the day and the political point, saving Silesia for Prussia. Frederick had won his first battle."
So it was with our version too.

Our game was a little quicker than the real thing, having run for six turns (hours), but the casualties on both sides were large, noticeable to the players and clearly evident in the photos in this post.

Many thanks
Jeff Berry for his fine overview of and information about the battle

Mark for designing the game and supplying majority of the figures.

Julian for supplying remaining figures, venue and hospitality.

David and me as the winning Prussians for ensuring that Frederick's history remains intact!

Next time
After our four-session (month) epic of Friedland earlier this year (see post at link if you missed it), we are having one of our sojourns from Napoleonics. This allows each of us to stage a game (or more) from among the 'periods other than Napoleonics' that we also indulge in—while we build up for something big in the greatest wargaming period (IMHO).

For our next scheduled session on 22nd October, Mark is planning a game from the Mercenary War (240 BC – 238 BC), perhaps based on Bagradas River?

Looking forward to it immensely.