Thursday, 16 December 2010

Biting the bullet!

12th Jan 2011. edit.

I have edited this post and removed a couple of subsequent posts in order to bring my blog situation up to date.

Having come very close to giving up and selling the collection John has kindly agreed that I keep the figures and the sale has been cancelled. I am not entirely sure what direction things will take but if I do move on with the blog it will be focused very much more on the gaming aspect as the New Year progresses. In the meantime I am searching for inspiration by reading a few good books on the period. As the figure were all de based for packing I will begin again by rebasing on narrower frontages as this had bugged me for some time. This will mean a lot of time spent re texturing bases etc in a slightly different style. I have some Front Rank French artillery to paint to get me back in the swing again. A big thank you to John for being understanding, as I said to him, I feel a bit of an idiot!







Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Some thoughts and New Year plans.

Rules and periods.
Well I played through 7 bounds of 'Paul's Rules' (thanks for all your help Paul). I then decided to reset up the game and play through a few turns of 'Napoleonic Fury' for comparison. I'll try to quickly explain why I did this.

I have never really been 'into' Napoleonics as a gaming period if I'm totally honest, although I'm beginning to learn more as I go. My first love was always the American Civil War and probably at heart it still is. I played so many ACW games with so many rule sets before I discovered 'Johnny Reb' and absolutely loved them. Previously we had used a variation of the old Airfix rules, Newbury (which I could never quite get my head round) and then Circa 1863 rules. But JR was a revelation, at last I thought a set of rules that truly captures the essence of ACW combat. I played many games with them. Then along came Fire and Fury of course and everybody started to shout about how simple and playable they were so I bought a copy, not long after the came out. Games became very simple to set up and play, fast and furious games with a result in 2 to 3 hours, perfect for those mid week/ after work evening games. But I continued to play and love JRII and I will argue that they remain the finest set of ACW rules ever written. I still have my old boxed set of JRII and still enjoy reading through it occasionally, not many rule sets you can say that about?

The Napoleonic variation of F&F is very similar and plays fast with rapid results. I only got through 3 turns but it all came flooding straight back to me and the units seemed to fly around the table! I took a few pics as you can see. I had to reorganise into bigger units and again this did look much more impressive on the table, the Highlanders for example being of 7 stand of 4 for a total of 28 figures. So, I'm going to take a couple of weeks off to think about where I go from here in the New Year. I would need to reorganise my units for Napoleonic Fury and this would mean a bit more painting etc but NO rebasing at least.

Here's a link to 'Napoleonic Fury' . I have now tidied them up a fair bit and have them in Word format, and have removed all Nations except British/French/Prussian. If anybody should like a copy of the tidies up version sent to them please email lgramson@aol.com

Finally.
Some might wonder WHY I stopped wargaming the ACW? Well, I spent a few years re enacting the period as a member of the 42nd Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers, the 'Bucktails'. During this time I became a serious student of the period and some of the early battle field photographs taken by the likes of Gardner left me feeling extremely uneasy. The shots of rows of bloated corpses lying where they fell disturbed me deeply and I became uncomfortable with both playing toy soldiers and re enactment of the period. I think I'm largely over this now but I wonder how many of you can understand this? One day I will once again paint the Blue and the Gray though, I just know it !

42nd Pennsylvania 'Bucktails' web page, I must be in some of those older pics!

20,000 page views.
I reset the counter in March and since then have recieved 20,000 page views. I'd like to say a big thank to those who follow my ramblings here and hopefully more battles will follow after Christmas.

Some pics of the Napoleonic Fury test game.






Sunday, 5 December 2010

Move 5. Test Game.

Move 5. (Or, "I didn’t spend all that time painting those bloody Light Dragoons for them to rout so quickly!")

Things are hotting up now. Once again the French have seized the initiative and move first. Grouchy rolls a poor 2 for CP’s and adds +2 as he’s rated average. He must decide priorities.

The battery of 8lb guns is ordered to open fire (1CP) They hit the Light Dragoons in the field and cause 1 casualty. The LD’s test morale and become SHAKEN they must test again during the morale phase to attempt to rally.

Brigade B are ordered to advance further through the village and to skirmish with the British Light infantry brigade. (1CP).

Brigade C continue to support them and advance behind them (1CP).

Brigade D also advance.(1CP)

No further CP’s available this move.

The skirmish action results in the French Brigade B suffering 1 casualty. (The British have superior skirmish rating and the French are disordered (BUA). No loss to the British Rifles. The French brigade make morale test Ok.

British move. Picton rolls 4 +2 for 6 CP’s. At this moment a rather dashing ADC in Hussar uniform popularly known as ‘Stryker’ gallops up and hands him a despatch reminding him to watch the British left flank brigades and to form square. A glance through his glass and he orders both units to do so immediately (3 CP’s as one moves half move AND changes formation). But first the foot battery opens fire on the French Hussars, falling short and causing no casualties on the stationary cavalry target. (1CP).

The rifles are in a tricky situation. Having beaten back the French skirmishers they are unable to engage in a firefight as the French are within the shelter of the BUA and they cannot charge into combat as they are still on ‘Engage’ orders and would need to be on ‘Attack’ orders to do so.(Paul, please come in and correct me if I am wrong here? I wanted to order a firefight but “only against troops in the open”. Could I initiate a second round of ‘skirmish’ combat at this point? I’m not sure there would be much point?) Picton decides to let the Rifles rest with the intention of ordering them to storm into the village next move once he’s taken more time to read the rules!!) It’s a test game after all.

Morale test time:

The Light Dragoons test to rally from ‘SHAKEN’ and fail the test! Picton has left them unsupported and isolated. They turn and run from the French artillery fire in ROUT. Luckily the two British brigades that they pass within 4” make morale and stand (phew!).

End of move 5. Photos show this stage of the battle.

(Gawd, I’ve had to sit and have a can of Ruddles as I contemplate the fate of my lovely Dragoons! I do like the unpredictability and hopefully they will rally next move as Picton gallops across to them. I have decided to place a second full Corps on the table edge now to be fed into the battle on move 6 (see pics). I threw a dice to see which move they would become active and both came up move 6. This will open things up somewhat. I will allocate them all Fire/skirmish/class values before next move. I plan to play move 6 tomorrow and will leave the small table set up until Thursday so lets see how things go. I’ll spend another hour reading through the rules again this evening to get a grip of the firefight/combat rules.). Great fun, don’t know what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years.





Saturday, 4 December 2010

Test game - Move 4.

MOVE 4

(Note: Move 3 ended with no firing or morale tests required. All artillery fire takes place at the opening of each move not after movement so this will be the opening of move 4)

French again win first move and Grouchy throws a 5 +2 to give him 7 Command points. He is confident that he can now press forward the attack this move.

The 8lb foot battery is within long range (medium gun 8 to 16”) and opens fire upon the Light Dragoons stationary in the field to their front. A score of 8+ on 2D6 is required to hit, no additions or subtractions apply (B class gunners). Score is 7 so no casualties. (Long range artillery fire is quite ineffective under these rules but a hit forces a morale check and 1 casualty). (1CP used to fire)

Grouchy now initiates his brigade orders:
Brigade B are in the village (marked disordered as in BUA) and move towards the far edge. (Note: is movement halved in BUA? I think yes so they get a half speed move) They are not yet classed as a ‘garrison’ as they have not yet reached the far side of the village and then spent 1 move preparing defences. However, next move will see some combat if the British reach the outskirts of the village. (1CP).
Brigade C move to edge of village in support of the above brigade and will enter next move. (1CP).
(Note: brigades can be ‘swapped’ or replaced at a cost of 3CP’s if in support within 4” – useful to replace a shaken unit for example with fresh troops in a combat situation. However, any second line brigades within 4” could also be vulnerable to artillery fire ‘bounce through’)

Brigade D who have not yet been able to advance, finally get orders to move and with a loud cheer they begin to advance towards the village (1CP).
Brigade A (largely Legere units) remain in square but shuffle forward 2” max move. (1CP).
The battery having fired are manhandled 2” forward having already fired (2CP’s).
Finally, the Hussar brigade advance and will be within range of the British battery next move. (1CP)
A total of 7 CP’s used.

British move. Picton throws 4 +2 for 6 command points. The Light infantry brigade C (represented by the 95th rifles) advance to the edge of the village and prepare to skirmish forward next move. (1CP).
Brigade A advance to edge of the field to their front and halt. They can see the French light cavalry brigade advancing in the distance. (1CP)
Brigade B who had been moving in support behind them are ordered to move to the left flank by forming into march column for speed. They are ordered to march and form on the flank of brigade A. (2 CP’s to change formation and half move).
The battery are manhandled forward 2” on the road and prepare to open fire next move. (1CP)
The cavalry are ordered to advance (½ move over rough ground) through the field.(1CP). They may be able to charge next move if French infantry move closer.
All 6 Command points have been used so the Highlander brigade D are unable to move this turn.

The 2 photos show the situation at this point, end of movement, move 4.

(Notes: I have added the ‘Fire values’ of the brigades to the OOB below as I omitted this to begin with. Basically values are A, B or C and adds or subtracts to/from firefight values, see Rule 12).

No further combat or morale so end of move 4.

Next turn should see the first combat as the British Light infantry brigade move in to contest the village under Rule 11 – infantry skirmish. Both sides cavalry are just within charge reach now too of an enemy formation. Move 5 should prove lively.








Friday, 3 December 2010

Battle -Moves 2 & 3.

MOVE 2. French card is drawn for first move. Commander in Chief is in base contact with Grouchy the Corps commander. He throws a 4 on an average dice and adds 2 as I have designated all commanders as ‘Average’ for simplicity in this test game. He elects to change the Corps orders to ‘Engage’. The Corps commander Grouchy now throws for his CP’s. But he only throws a poor 2 and adds 2 for 4 CP’s total. This will impact upon his ability to carry out his new ‘Engage’ orders effectively. He decides to focus on his left flank and the main thrust towards the village. He orders the battery to move to the left, off the road and to unlimber (to move and unlimber costs 2 CP’s but the battery cannot fire this move). The remaining 2 CP’s are used to advance his 2 left flank brigades (A&B) towards the village. Brigade’s C&D are unable to advance as Grouchy has no CP’s left to issue orders to them at this stage. The Hussars are also left awaiting orders to advance. Very frustrating for Grouchy!

Now it’s the British move phase. Commander in Chief throws 4 and adds +2 for a total of 6 CP’s. he changes orders and issues ‘Attack’ orders to Picton, the corps commander. Picton now throws a 3 and adds 2 for a total of 5 CP’s. His brigades are in line and thus can move only 4” (8”if in column). He orders brigades A, C ( the light infantry) and D to make a full move towards the village (3CP’s). The battery are ordered to move and unlimber (2 CP’s) Brigade B are left awaiting orders as no CP’s are left to activate this unit.

No firing or morale checks required this stage.

MOVE 3.

French again draw first move. Grouchy throws a 3 +2 for his total of 5 CP’s this move. He orders his battery to open fire (1CP). Brigades B&C move towards the village to attack as per new orders (2CP’s). Brigade A, the Legere brigade, are ordered to make a half move and form square (2 CP’s) in support of the battery as the British cavalry are formed up in line in the field to their front. Brigade B actually break into the village in column. Brigade D are still left behind halted and awaiting orders. The commander is not happy and is cursing Grouchy!

(Note: I like this unpredictability. Most old style rules I used always allowed every unit to follow orders, this reminds me of Fire and Fury and its activation system).

British move now. Picton throws 5 and adds 2 for 7 CP’s. He knows he can issue orders to all of his units. He orders his cavalry to remain halted as to advance would move them into closer artillery range (No CP’s required for this?) But they are close enough to keep the French Legere brigade pinned in square. (The French battery is however within long range and will no doubt open fire this move).

Brigades C &D are ordered to advance and attack the village (2 CP’s) but they cannot move fast enough in line to enter the village this move. As the French have beaten them to it they will have to contest entry next move possibly.

Brigade A are ordered to advance in support of the battery (1CP) which are now unlimbered on the road. They battery is ordered to open fire (1CP). Brigade B are ordered to advance in support of brigade A (rear) (1 CP). Picton has 2 unused CP’s this move.

That’s it so far! Photos show end of move 2 (top pic) and end of movement phase of move 3(middle and bottom pics) . Remainder of move 3 will follow. Both sides artillery are unlimbered within range and firing will follow.






Battle! - First move.

I have set up this test run through on a small bare table. I will be working on my terrain probably in the New Year now as our eldest daughter is getting married next Saturday and then its Christmas so all resources are currently required elsewhere! I wanted to get a test run under my belt though so bare table it is. I should explain that the 'wargames room' I mentioned earlier in the blog last December/Jan was tunred over as an 'art room' for our kids and its been well used, including 4 paint splattered walls and the ceiling! we try to encourage creativity so let it go. Its our spare 4th bedroom and measures just 9' x 7' so is very tight for a full sized wargame table anyway. Come the New year I may well think about using either the dining table in the kitchen (but its always busy in there!) or the back room where I do my painting for my wargaming. The latter is nice as it overlooks the garden and has patio doors for the summer. Anyway, enough of the domestics, lets get down to some fighting AT LAST.

Note: I will improve the lighting for future pictures!

TEST GAME 1.

There are 2 Corps on the table for this first run through. Both Corps commanders are designated as ‘Average’. Each corps consists of the following:

4 x infantry brigades. 1 x Light cavalry brigade and 1 artillery battery.

BRITISH.
Brigade A: skirmish= B - morale class B Fire value C
Brigade B: skirmish =C - morale class B Fire value B
Brigade C: (light infantry) skirmish=A -morale class A Fire value A
Brigade D: skirmish= C. - morale class C Fire value B

Light cavalry brigade. (Light dragoons) morale class B

Battery of medium foot artillery. B class gunners.


FRENCH.
Brigade A: (Light infantry) skirmish = A morale class B Fire value B
Brigade B: skirmish = C – morale class C Fire value B
Brigade C: skirmish = C – morale class C Fire value C
Brigade D: skirmish = C – morale class D Fire value C

Light cavalry brigade (Hussars) morale class B.

Battery of medium foot artillery, class B gunners.


SET UP.

A simple (and very basic at this stage!) bare table with a central village BUA base 30cm square, surrounded by fields that reduce movement. Roads lead in to the village (no buildings yet) from both sides of the table. The objective of both sides is to take control of the village and hold it and if possible to drive back the enemy.

MOVE 1.

Both sides are under initial ‘MOVE’ orders, these must be changed by CinC as required. Cards are drawn to determine who moves first and British draw first move. The British Corps commander is average and throws a 4 on an average dice for 4 command points (CP’s) and adds +2 ‘average’ (plus 3 for ‘gifted C/O or +1 for ‘Poor’ C/O). A total of 6 command points available to him.

He chooses to make a ‘brigade move’ as all infantry are within his command radius (8”) and within 2” of each other. All 4 infantry brigades make a full move forward together for 1 CP. The cavalry move half move and deploy into line for 1CP and the artillery move forward a full move for 1 CP.

French move next: The Corps commander (my beloved ‘grouchy’ figure) is average and rolls a 3 on an average dice. So adds + 2 to give him 5 CP’s. He elects to use 1 CP to make a ‘brigade move’ by his infantry (all within 2” of each other) and 1CP to advance his artillery battery along the road. A further 1 CP sees the Hussars move slightly to the right and deploy into line.

(Note: rules state that a Corps commander “must use all of his CP’s to achieve the corps orders”. Not clear on this? Both have CP’s left over and no need to use them? Paul, could you offer any help here please?).

No firing so end of move 1. Picture shows the battle at this stage. (Note: I must now place a figure representing the overall Commander in Chief on the table as a Corps commander is unable to change Corps orders, this must be done by the Commander in Chief who must be in base to base contact with his Corps commander in order to do this. He must also roll for CP’s in order to do this. I will place each C in C figure in base contact with the Corps commanders to begin move 2 as I missed this initially).


MOVE 2. French card is drawn for first move. french Commander in Chief will now roll for CP's and then attempt to change the corps orders to 'Engage'.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Gratuitous figure/terrain shots!

Quick mid-week post. I have been working on some more terrain features. I have made some fields and this 30x30cm 'Built up area' base. This will probably be a village base and I plan to stand 2 or 3 'Hovels' buildings on it. In accordance with the rules I will be using, the base clearly defines the extent of any BUA and buildings can be removed to resolve combat. I will make more but I wanted to trial one first. I added a road running through for effect and a small pond. The base colour is just what I wanted and my main tabletop will now be finished in this same shade and texture. Its textured just enough to enable easy movement of bases and has a light scattering of Citadel static grass to match the figure bases. The main board will be flat and all terrain features will be laid on for flexibility. I enjoy making terrain as much as I enjoy painting figures. Thanks to Rafa for the link to his main website with its terrain tutorial. Rivers/hills etc will follow.

First battle!
It's clearly now time to have a small trial run through of the rules, so with a free day on Friday I am going to play a run through with just one corps per side on a basic table. Under 'Paul's Rules' as he calls them (I did suggest he come up with a name but he's happy with that!), a Corps consists of 4 Brigades of infantry, a brigade of Cavalry and a battery of artillery. Please bear in mind that I am very much 'old school' in my approach to the gaming aspect and I am quite happy to consider my 16 figure units as brigades, Paul's units are actually half the size of mine! I have been following many of his campaign battles and am convinced that they flow very well and give a lively and realistic game. I will of course write up the game move by move and will refer to Paul if any clarification is required as he kindly offered help. However, I feel that I have a good grasp of them.

Couldn't resist placing a few figures on the BUA board for some shots in my new light box. As you can see the slight white dry brush on the stones really brightens up the bases.