Recently in Wargaming Category
We refought the Battle of Lutzen (1813) as part of Liphook Historical Wargaming Society's series of quarterly Napoleonic Bicentenary battles. For some reason I found myself promoted to
General Wittgenstein and in command of the Allied Army. We had a creative plan which we managed to half implement, but the French kept coming. In the end we managed to hold our position in the villages to nightfall and inflict a good amount of damage on Ney.
A Battle Report Luzten Battle Report - Allies.pdf is attached.
Spent an all too brief 90 minutes at the West Midlands Military Show. Good event, nice mix of stalls and games, although probably more of the former, and every stall appeared to have a related games across the aisle from it (not a bad move). Even though I only had time to buy 1 book, it was useful to get eyes on things I'd been thinking about from web sites, and to chat to a few people about rules and scales. Main findings were:
Bacchus 6mm vs Heroics and Ros
Having inherited 2 Divisions of French and some Russians by Heroics & Ros (thanks Alan!), and added 2 Divisions of Russians it's time to decide whether to stick to H&R or move to Bacchus. The Irregular Miniatures definitely seem a step down (and hard to paint with cav side by side), and I see what people mean about Adler size and heads. So it was good to be able to put an H&R stand up against some Bacchus.
The good news is that height wise they are a good match, H&R inf a tad shorter but not that you'd notice, cavalry almost spot on.. Bad news - 3 Bacchus figures have the same frontage a 4 H&R figures - the Bacchus figures are altogether chunkier. I had thought the H&R figures a bit thin, Bacchus are probably a bit fat by the same amount. This gives me a slight basing issues as I'd settled on 75mm base for 18 figures in line, and 25mm for 3 ranks of 6 in column, but with Bacchus I can probably only get 15 in a line (worse cased 12) and 3 ranks of 5, maybe only 3 ranks of 4. However since I'm not doing figure based casualties or fighting factor the figures are really only for decoration - and the Bacchus figures certainly look better - so I think I'll try them out for the British divisions I do after the Russians.
Opposite the Bacchus stand a nice painting demo/clinic for 6mm, sorry can't remember the guy's name. Really nicely done figures and a good chat about painting and basing. I do like the look of magnetic bases, and keep thinking they should sort the column/line problem, but of course column was at a variety of "orders" (close/quarter/half/open) and so the bases would never quite work unless you wanted to put your line on very narrow bases, or only have a very open column. Main tip I picked up was to use grey undercoat (or main colour of troops), then do a black in wash, and then only paint the non-blacks areas, and a final wash at the end. Worth trying with the Brits.
10mm Science Fiction
I'd still like to get in to SF gaming, but whilst 28mm seems best for skirmish I'm note sure what the best scale is for platoon/company sized games, or bigger. I've been using 6mm 1/300 for WW2 and Modern, but would like to see more detail for SF so 10mm may be the way forward. Pendraken had a few examples of their range on their stand, but would like to see more. And I can't stand "bug" and "blob" type aliens and combat walkers, so buying a blister pack was out. Perhaps they'll have more at Salute.
This was a very impressive hex terrain system, bet it costs a bomb. Far bigger hexes (100mm?) than the 40mm I've decided on, so probably better suited to a "measured" rule system or very large areas, and too costly/fiddly to do at 40mm, but very nice if you've the space and budget. Note the tiered bases to get the height differences.
A while ago Nick started thinking about us doing 2mm Napoleonics, so we bought a couple of test packs to get a feel for what 2mm wargaming might be like. Nick's idea was to use our standard 1mm:1m ground ratio (i.e. 1:1000) with 2mm figures (c. 1:900) so that we had near unity on ground to figure scales, and even 1 figure = 1 man. This was to get away from the 1:1000 vs 1:72 of typical 20mm gaming (giving an "error" factor of around 11). The idea then went on the back burner but as part of my "summer of no 20mm Napoleonics" I decided to have a look at it again.
To me any set of figures and scale decisions is a compromise between five main factors: the level of game you want (eg Army level vs fireteam skirmish), cost and time of buying and painting an army, the convenience of playing (eg how long to set up/tear down), the "accuracy" of the rules and experience, and just whether things feel right.
With 2mm it strikes me that there are three main ways of playing a game:
- The Battalion Base
This appears to be what most 2mm gamers do (or some even do brigade bases). Each 24-30 figure block (about 13mm by 3mm) represents a battalion. Now we know that battalion frontages in line are about 240m, say 260m for easy maths), so this means 13mm = 260m which gives a ground scale of about 1:20,000. This is almost at 1:25000 map scale, and indeed I found if I put 2mm blocks on some battle maps then they were almost the right size. The error factors is hug though - 20+ (i.e. 1:900 vs 1:20,000). Most battalion base rules also don't bother to show line or column, and certainly at Waterloo with understrength units most battalions would be mere fragments of bases, and with 200+ crowded onto a space smaller than an A3 sheet of paper a real nightmare to move or measure.
- The Platoon Base
This was Nick's original idea, a base = a platoon, so the 24 or 30 figures on the base are 1:1 with the men in the platoon. And with 1mm=1m and 2mm figures we have almost no scale error). If we take a French Company with c.120 soldiers then in 3 ranks we'd need 40 in the front line with a frontage of 40m, or 4cm in scale - just about do'able with a 2mm base (10 figure frontage = 13mm). The downside of the platoon approach though are:
- You need a lot of bases, 4 per company, 24 per battalion, at 10p each give £2.40 a battalion - about the same as 20mm, so its going to cost a lot of cash and time to build a big army
- You need a lot or area and set-up time - the same area as 20mm
- Whilst the scaling IS right, it just doesn't look right, very small figures with a huge amount of space around them
- The Company Base
This strikes me now as the best compromise. If each base = 1 company, then a 40m frontage for a company = 13mm for a base (using 10 file bases), giving a ground scale of about 1mm=3m, i.e. 1:3000, and so an error factor of only 3. (rises to 4 if we use 10mm, 8 file bases). Six bases for a French battalion means you can show line and column easily, and the figure to man scale is about 1:4 (30 figures vs 120 men). So a battalion is line will cover 8cm, and musket range is about 5cm - which looks right on the table.
In terms of battlefield size, at 1:3 the greater Waterloo battlefield becomes about 1.6m x 1.3m (about 6 of my 600x600 terrain bases), and the main part of the battlefield only 1.2m x 0.6m (just 2 bases), and so easily fitable on most tables.
Unit wise, the French had 100 battalions at Waterloo - just 600 bases, at 10p each = £60. For cavalry its 6 bases per Regiment (1.5 per Sqn), times 34 regiments and @ 15p each gives about £30. So you could have the whole British and French armies for a shade under £200.
(and actually with Battalion basing you only need about 150 bases a side so about £40 gets you both armies so you might just as well have that as well - assuming you don't double role).
So yes, I think 2mm Napoleonic might be worth a go, particularly at Company basing. Now I just need to find some decent rules!
One of my 28mm Space Marines sneaks a recce with his patrol whilst I set up the table for a Force on Force WW2 game.
Having finished up my English Civil War army ( 132 figures/3300 men a side) I thought I ought to give them an outing on the war-games table. Having checked out the ECW rules on the freewargamerules website I decided that Pike and Shot by John Armatys looked the neatest. The feature I really liked was that units suffered "counters" for any adverse event, and that the counters reduced not only their combat effectiveness, but also their mobility - lovely images of units becoming more and more sluggish as the game evolved. The aspect I least liked was that firing and melee were done in variable sized figure groups - depending on type of troops/encounter and counters held. Having been raised on Quarrie I'm a great believer in the figures vs modified die roll combat table.
The game setting was not particularly imaginative - but this was the age of linear warfare. The two sides were drawn up lengthways along the 3ft x 6ft dining table, with no more objective than to destroy the opposition. Both sides had 2 pike and musket blocks in the centre, with one in reserve, and cavalry units (3 each) split between the two wings plus a reserve. In addition the Roundheads had a unit of dragoons, and the Royalists a rabble of local peasantry.
First turn saw all units advance to contact. In turn 2 the Roundhead's Cuirassiers charged into the Royalist cavalry on the Roundhead right flank. Both rolled as Nervous (which would become a feature if the Roundhead experience). The cuirassiers won the first round.
On the Roundhead left flank the NMA Lobsters had charged up the Royalist horse and let rip with their pistols, but there were no casualties. By the third turn melees were happening across the front. The NMA horse on the left lost to the Royalists, the Blue Royalist infantry bested the first NMA battalion, and the Royalists Grey Regiment beat the Parliamentarian Russets. The Russets were rolled as nervous (as were most of the NMA!) and broke. The Cuirassiers on the right flank won again against the Royalist cavalry, but the refused to break. It was at this point that it dawned on me with these rules that every Melee here was effectively going to be a fight to the death, and the winner was as likely to exit the game giving chase as the loser was.
On the fourth turn the rabble who'd been advancing through a wood towards the Dragoons who'd secured a small farmhouse and suffered little from musketry finally tried to charge the Dragoon but failed their morale check. The Royalist cavalry won the second round of melee on the left flank, the cuirassiers finally broke the Royalist horse on the right flank, and the NMA won the second round of Melee against the Royalist Blues. The Royalists Greys reformed, and the Roundhead CinC managed to rally the fleeing Russets.
Turn five saw things turn more in the Roundheads favour. On their right flank the cavalry was routing (pursued uncontrollably by the Cuirassier), and the rabble was pulling back. On the left flank the Royalist cavalry was finally broken. In the centre though the NMA were finally broken by the Blues. Turn 6 saw the table begin to clear with Royalsit cavalry on both flanks routing off the table. In the centre the NMA continued to rout, the CinC failing to rally them (nice "rousing speech") rules though. The dragoons pursued the mob up towards the Royalist artillery ( all artillery being particularly ineffective all game). Turn 7 saw the Royalist reserve cavalry and infantry begin to move forward on the centre-left, and the Dragoons finally rout the rabble by musketry. Turn 8 the rallied NMA Horse from the left flank had though rallied, and charged the Blues in the flank whilst the Roundhead Orange Regiment charged them in the front. Needless to say it was carnage with the Roundheads scoring 6 counters and 1 figure, the Royalists only 1 counter.
Turn 9 the NMA horse gave chase to the fleeing Blues. The Royalists Whites in the centre finally decided to charge the Orange regiment which had putting a desultory musketry fire inoto them but failed the morale test. The Royalists Greys had more luck, charging the reforming Russets and winning 1:0. In turn 10 the Dragoons mounted up having seen off the rabble, while the NMA horse charged the Royalist Mounted Gentlemen, but lost 1:2 and broke!
The Whites failed to charge again, whilst the Orange poured more fire into them. The Russets turned the tide against the Greys, winning 3:2 and inflicting 3 figure casualties, causing the Greys to break.
Next turn the Dragoons charged the first of the Royalists guns on the ridge behind the battlefield and routed it for no loss.
The Royalist Gentlemen returned the favour charging and routing the forward NMA gun. Whites and Orange continued their firefight, the Whites almost breaking.
Turn 12 saw the second Royalist gun lost to an NMA charge on the left flank, and the Gentlemen charge the second NMA battalion - but lose 0:2. Turn 13 saw the melee and one firefight continue and in turn 14 the tide finally turned decisively in the NMAs favour as Horse broke the Gentlemen and the Orange finally broke the Whites by fire - the Whites only hanging on as long as they did due to the presence of their CinC.
With Turn 15 we were finally into the end game. The NMA horse pursuing the Gentlemen careered into the Royalist reserve, the Green Regiment, winning 1:0, the Orange Regiment pursued the fleeing Whites and the reformed Russets advanced on the flank/rear of the Greens - the sole Royalist unit left under command.
The melee lasted into the next round, NMA Horse and Russets against the Whites, and in turn 17 the Greens finally broke, and the Parliamentarians were left in command of the field.
Just goes to show you should never have preconceptions about rule mechanics. The counter system in the end didn't have the effect I anticipated - since one a unit was in combat and taking counters it was almost inevitable it would stay in combat til it broke or followed up - in both cases counters didn't then have an effect. The group system on the other hand worked pretty well. What really surprised me was how few figure casualties there were - barely a dozen, which just doesn't tally with reality. The fact that melees resulted in one side fleeing and the other side pursuing off table is probably reasonable for cavalry - but not for infantry (you're not going to chase someone far if you've got to carry a 15ft pike! The whole push-of-pike thing wasn't a separate feature of the rules - I knew that - and still want to add it - although the overall effect of the melees was probably about right.
So I think next time I play I think I'll make the following modifications:
- Abandon the counters and just count counter damage as figures - less die roll and less paperwork
- Adjust the experience assignment to 2D so there are far fewer nervous units
- Stop infantry pursuits after 2 turns, and enhance the chance of rallying after 1
- Allow units that pursue off table to return after something like 6+D6 turns
- Tweak melee to better reflect push-of-pike
- Keep the grouping system!
A Total War mod for the Napoleonic period. Suddenyl buying Total War moves from a "nice to" to a "must have".
Had a good time today at the West Midlands Military Show. My first time at a Wargames show for 25 years or so. Interesting to see where the hobby has moved on and where it hasn't. This 15mm game of the Battle of Leuthen 1757 looked superb. Bought the Generals De Brigade rules which I might move to from the good old Airfix Bruce Quarrie set.
Over Christmas I played my first table-top wargame in over 25 years. With the kids getting older and time getting freer I'd made the first tentative steps back into the hobby with a few SPI simulation board games. But having collected my old box of figures (and those of my brother) from my parents before Christmas my old gaming partner and I had our first table top game just before New Year. This has given us both the bug again painting (or repainting) figures, building terrain squares. Of course this being the age of the internet I'm building an on-line campaign manager to manage all the large scale force movements so that we only get the reports of our scouts rather than seeing both sides forces laid out on the map. Should be fun.