Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There Wasn't Nigh As Many As There Was a While Ago

Last Stand at Union Corner

Today General Turner caught up with Brigadier Zinn again at Union Corner. Both armies were looking a little ragged despite the return to the ranks of many stragglers and lightly wounded men from Sunday's action. Initially Faraway held a substantial advantage in cavalry but as the various Oberhilse units straggled onto the field this quickly changed to parity. As usual, Oberhilse had started the campaign with an advantage in line infantry. This had been briefly lost due to heavy losses in the first engagement but heavy Faraway losses in both previous actions coupled with the arrival of units which had missed the second battle meant that Faraway had to attack without any advantage in line infantry. The Oberhilse artillery had been whittled down and Faraway now had a slight edge but it was as always, in light infantry that the Queen's army held a major advantage: six companies to one.
Behind the Oberhilse position.

Brigadier Zinn's plan was simple and played to his strengths. Using the reverse slope to shield his infantry, the mainstay of his defence, he deployed his 2 batteries forward to dispute the advance of the enemy and put his lone Dragoon regiment in reserve. 

General Turner's plan was also straight forward, use his artillery and skirmishers to pin and wear down the enemy artillery and light troops while attacking quickly around one flank before enemy reinforcements could arrive.

At first General Turner's plan appeared to be working. A company of Bangor rifles had slipped into the village just forward of the hill line but was hit hard by the Victoria Rifles. The Rifles also screened one battery and started knocking down crew despite being raked by canister while the 2nd Oberhilse battery was hit hard by the Queen's artillery and forced to retreat or risk swift destruction. But as the cavalry negotiated a defile between woods and began to deploy for their attack, they were suddenly charged by the Blue 2nd Dragoons who had galloped forward from reserve to meet them and then seized the moment. 

The Queen's troops advance as one Republican battery is forced to withdraw to avoid destruction.

The Blue Dragoons however, like several units on this day, seemed to have been worn down by 4 days of marching and fighting. A disciplined counter charge by Larsen's Lancers sent them reeling back to rally behind the Frontier Light Horse who had just galloped onto the field, just in time to deploy in support. Moments later, two squadrons of the Blue First Dragoons trotted over the bridge and deployed on the Blue left flank. This freed up the Lafayette Country Rifles and Brigadier Zinn sent them forward to rescue the Bangor Rifles and turn the enemy flank.
 Newbies no more, these Volunteers are already in their 3rd battle!
To deal with this new threat, Turner was forced to divert the Wye Fusiliers from the attack in the center. Determined to regain the initiative, he then ordered the cavalry to press the attack. It seems that the Princess Charlotte Dragoons were also suffering from the strain of continuous action and Brigadier Steele had to ride over and lead them forward personally. (ed. The 4 opposing cavalry regiments on this flank managed to roll something like 8 1's out of 12 dice for Order checks over the course of the next 3 turns! Not to mention a 1 for Steele in the charge.) If the charge succeeded, the  Red dragoons could pursue into the still rallying  Blue dragoons and probably sweep away all resistance on that flank. The Light Horse, faced with the approach of the heavy Red dragoons on their big Blacks, calmly pulled their rifles from their holsters and at the last moment poured a heavy fire into the enemy, breaking the force of their impact. A prolonged melee resulted pistol and rifle butt against swords but it was the loss of Brigadier Steele that clinched it and it was the Dragoons who were forced to recoil in disorder, covered by the Lancers.    

Blue reinforcements pour, well, trickle,  onto the field.

With reinforcements arriving every turn and the enemy's attack stalling, the Republican forces were beginning to believe that they could hold this position until night fall. If they could just hold onto the initiative, the left hand battery could fall back and join a line with the Blue infantry and right hand battery. 
Uniake Fusiliers sweep up the hill to capture the battery.

Fatigue however was beginning to take its toll and despite early reverses, the Queen's army grabbed the initiative and kept it. Along the crest, Red and Blue infantry traded volleys at point blank ranges. As the Blue gunners began to think about retreating, The Victoria Rifles redoubled their fire then before the gunners could recover, the Uniake Fusiliers fixed bayonet and stormed uphill, passing through the Rifle's skirmish line. Brigadier Zinn sent orders for the 1st Dragoons to retake the battery but still shaken by Sunday's carnage, these horsement hesitated and by the time they finally crossed the valley, a disciplined volley from the Fusiliers was enough to send them galloping back down the hill.
 The Lafayette Volunteers drive back  the Victoria Rifles.

On Blue's left, the Bangor Rifles were finally driven from the village and destroyed as a fighting unit. Unfazed, the Volunteers pressed forward with the bayonet, driving the Victoria Rifles out of the battle, but as they turned to face the Wye Regiment, fatigue and casualties were starting to take their toll and Brigadier St, John, barely recovered from his wound, led them back to regroup. 

On the far side of the battlefield, Colonel Flowerdew took command of the cavalry, speaking quiet words of encouragement, he sent the Lancers forward against the Light Horse while leading his Dragoons up the hill into the tattered Blue Infantry. In an instant it was all over, this time a volley from the  Light Horse was ignored as the Lancers crashed into and through them, driving the remnants and destroying them as a fighting unit. pressing on they fell on the Blue Dragoons and broke them as well, driving them into the river.  Keeping pace with their comrades, the Red Dragoons swept up the hill, over the remnants of the 1st Infantry, dispersing them and then riding into and over a battery of guns. Brigadier Zinn himself had to spur his horse to escape into the ranks of the 3rd Infantry which had arrived but which had refused all orders to advance. There was nothing left but to retreat the few remaining units as quickly as possible. (ed. One could say that with 5 units out of 11 destroyed and 2 more at their break pont, the army's morale had broken.)
The Queen's cavalry sweeps the field.

The Queens army stands victorious and an unprovoked invasion has been repulsed  but it has its own wounds to lick and there is no talk of an immediate pursuit over the border into Oberhilse.    

Tomorrow, we will present an analysis of the technical aspects of the campaign by Col MacDuff (Ret) .

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Rawdon Gap Stakes


Word has just been received of a short but fierce battle this afternoon. It seems that Brigadier Zinn has taken charge of the retreating Republican forces and at Rawdon Gap he turned at bay.  
The Blue Artillery opens fire as Red columns negotiate the streets of Union Corner.

General Zinn, a past master of rearguard actions, made skillful use of dead ground to mask his forces so no one is quite sure of how many Blue troops were present. However, the 2nd Dragoons, Frontier Light Horse and elements of the Blue Guards, 1st Infantry and Layfayette County Rifles were identified as well as 3 batteries of artillery. General Turner had his whole force from the surprise of Blue's camp as well as the Victoria Rifles who marched hard to catch up with the rest.

Blue's Cavalry repulsed.

Once again the Queen's cavalry and the ever bold FTC Rocket Troop were to the fore front of the action. Indeed the rocket troop galloped so far forward that Blue's 2nd Dragoons appeared from behind a hill and made a dash at them, only to be met and thrown back by Larsen's Lancers. (ed this was an example of the reaction system at work. The Blue dragoons could not see the rocket battery at the start of their move so could not charge it, instead they advanced into charge reach taking care not to use any maneuvers which would rob them of their reaction. When the battery later fired on them, it triggered a reaction in the form of a charge by the dragoons. This in turn triggered a response by the lancers who intercepted the charge. The Lancers, being Light were at a disadvantage but threw back the dragoons anyway.)

Its the Lancers turn to charge and be repulsed against the odds.

As Brigadier Stonefort deployed his brigade and advanced on the enemy guns, the Lancers took a run at a light battery posted on the hill. It was a job for the heavies though and the first blast of canister was enough to send them scurrying back out of range.
The Uniake Fusiliers are caught forming square.

As the 1st Brigade of the Queen's men approached what the men are calling Artillery Hill, the skyline suddenly filled with Blue infantry who opened a furious long range fire. We must assume that the Queen's officers were tired after fighting a battle and marching all day as they allowed their men to halt and open fire at long range for them but canister range of the guns. (ed. No dice involved just knee jerk judgement ). Soon the artillery began to cut swathes through the red coated ranks as Blue's infantry slowly closed the range.

The rattle of musketry had no sooner broken out than the Blue Dragoons once more appeared galloped forward, catching the Uniake Fusiliers by surprise. At the urgent call of their officers they ran to form square but a few of the Blue Dragoons broke into the regiment before the square was fully formed.  For a moment it looked like the square would collapse (ed. until the rule was quickly fixed)  but after a prolonged struggle the Dragoons were finally evicted. The Fusiliers however, were a spent force and the handful of survivors retired to safe spot to lick their wounds.

Forward the Cavalry! Bring up the guns!

General Turner is used to these sorts of crisis and is not easily fazed. Recalling the Princess Charlotte Dragoons from his left flank, he sent the cavalry forward towards the Eastern shoulder of the gap supported by The Royal Fusiliers and the Voyagers. The Wye Regiment was ordered to fallback and rally while guns were brought forward to silence the battery on the hill. The Victoria Rifles, finally arrived on the field, were sent forward to take over the fight with Blue's infantry. The crisis was at hand. If Brigadier Zinn's men could repulse the coming storm, it would be dark before another attack could be organized and he could slip away in safety.

Princess Charlotte's Dragoons rode slowly to the top of the ridge, paused, drew their swords then as the bugle rang out, started forward. Below them the light battery scrambled to limber and retreat while the weary Blue Dragoons pushed past them to meet their red coated opponents. With a  tremendous  crash the 2 bodies of heavy horse met. For a few seconds the whole mass seemed to rise in the air  then oh so slowly started to move down slope. It moved faster and faster then like a damn bursting, a flood of Blue horsemen galloped to the rear pursued by triumphant Scarlet riders. In a flash the light battery was over taken, the gunners cut down, the guns seized.

Would the enemy stand and be caught? Not the wily Brigadier Zinn. Better to save his army for the next fight than to lose it fighting this one. The remaining batteries limbered up and as the Guards held the line, the guns and the 1st Infantry retreated from the field. The Light Horse began to look over their shoulders but their Colonel could see that the Lancers would be on them in a flash as soon as they turned their backs. There was only one safe way to go, drive back the Lancers then pull back. The men pulled their  rifles from their buckets, rode forward with a yell to be met by the stern Lancers and were scattered to the winds. The gap was open, with 1/2 an hour to spare. (ed. 2 turns as the soldiers put it.)

The ground was won and the pursuit could continue but it was a costly victory. By seizing their moment, the Blue troops had inflicted heavy casualties for almost no loss apart from the light battery. The Queen's infantry however again took heavy casualties. The Dover Regiment, unscathed in the first battle had been wiped out, fighting to the end, the Uniake Regiment has been reduced to a 2 company rump while Princess Charlotte's could muster a bare 2 squadrons by the end of the day. Are there enough troops left to do the job? We shall know soon enough as they are bound to catch up with the enemy again tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Filling in the Gap

Brigadier Zinn takes charge of the remaining Oberhilsian forces and occupies Rawdon Gap.

Various miscellaneous thoughts.

1. Multi-figure stands vs individual figures.  Some of you may have noticed that this game suddenly looked more like the one in the header than past ones. The bases are only 2" wide rather than 60mm but I'm back to my 2007 plan of 4 bases each with 6 infantry or 2 cavalry and happy with it. Going through various basing and rules options as well as styles and looks has been an interesting experience. I'm not sorry I took the trip but I'm glad I'm now in a position to make a final rather than tentative choice for this collection.

Oddly, it wasn't pushing the individual figures around the table that finally tipped me over the edge, it was how disorganized my troops got as casualties came off and how much time it took me to set up, the number of figures that got tipped on the floor as I tried to carry a tray and tilted it a few degrees as I turned and especially the amount of time wasted in cleaning up after a game, finding stray casualties mixed in with other units, tucked onto a convenient bookshelf, table or window ledge when they were removed in the heat of action or dropped on the floor and rolled under something or forgotten inside a house.  I'll try to leave my old Britain's on their own bases.

2. The table. As part of the Classic Toy Soldier thing,  I have been experimenting with contour hills on a flat table, all in bright green. Partly this is because I like the look but mostly because the single metal figures wouldn't stand on a cloth over hills (the plastic Elastolin Prince August figures on 1" bases do). The plan is to eventually finish up  the green table and a limited set of hills for use with the Britain's but to revert to my old format of cloth over hills for most games.  If nothing else, its much easier to model specific battlefields when what is forming the hills is hidden, and it doesn't take much room to store them.

However the cloth I usually use was made 15 years ago for the battle of Chateauguay, fought in a clearing in the woods in October 1812. Its time for a new one or rather a selection of new ones. Eventually I would like a Northern spring/early summer green farm hills cloth, a snowy winter cloth, a dusty hot plains cloth and maybe more for specific battlefields.

3. Campaign Casualties. As I was clearing away this afternoon, I couldn't help looking at all the hits on various units and thinking how the current campaign rule, written when I was taking off stands as soon as enough hits were inflicted, didn't reflect that. So I have adjusted it. I allowed each unit with hits to make a post battle rally rule then divided the remaining hits by the appropriate morale factor (2 for militia, 3 for regulars and 4 for elites), dropped fractions and removed that number of stands.  A little harsh on the already battered Oberhilse units but on the other hand most of the Faraway regiments lost a stand. 1/2 the missing stands will be returned for the 3rd game.

4. Deploying the hidden Blue units. One of the strengths of the position in the upcoming  scenario is that the defender can deploy reserves in dead ground. One of the problems with doing so solo is that either I know where I put them or the deployment is random. My usual solution to that is to deploy a dummy for each unit, shuffle the cards of each type (infantry, cavalry) and deploy them face down. Now I now where possible units are (I can see the cards) and I have some idea which might be cavalry or infantry but I don't know which ones are the blanks. Its not totally random but there is still some uncertainty.

5. Artillery and Hearts of Tin. This should have been #2, oh well. This is one of those "tempest in a teacup" issues.

  • I have a strong emotional attachment to 2 gun batteries thanks to Charge!
  • The HofT rules make a 2 gun battery close to the optimum organization for artillery, 1 gun by itself does not have adequate firepower and is too vulnerable to counter battery fire. (A single stand battery of regular artillery can't rally hits, a single hit can never be rallied and at 2 hits it has reached its break point and can't rally or shoot.)  It works well for battalion guns though, esp if they are counted as part of their parent unit for morale and using 1 gun batteries gives flexibility while allowing multiple batteries to concentrate their fire.
  • Using the number of guns recommended in the Grant/Asquith scenarios works when using HofT.
  • The frontage of historical batteries varied but seems to have been around 10 yards per gun or 60 yards for a 6 gun battery. This is a tight fit for ONE of my guns, making each gun a battery. I haven't settled on a base size for the guns, still trying to figure out the smallest size that will accommodate my largest gun and still allow the crew to take their proper posts. The current front runner is 3" by 3" or 4".
  • Looking at various historical orders of battle for the 1840's British and American armies, and doing Grant/Asquith scenarios with 1 regiment or 2 guns per unit but calling each gun a battery fits with the number of batteries and regiments in the historical OB's. (2 gun batteries would suit Russians fine.
  • The scenarios usually call for 2 or 4 guns, occasionally 3 batteries or 6 guns in Programmed Scenarios. If I field 2 guns as a battery, and want to use different types of artillery, mountainguns, heavy artillery or, for example, the FTC Horse Artillery Rocket battery,  then it usually becomes 1/2 or all of of the artillery in that game!
  • So despite the first point, it appears that I am going to have to accept that each gun is a battery, which, after all, is how Don Featherstone did it anyway. I may consider an option for a group of guns to share hits but will probably just call them all Elite so that they can take 2 hits and still cease fire to rally then come back into action.  
Tomorrow is supposed to be a snow day so I expect to play the 2nd game. Hopefully I have new batteries somewhere for my camera! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stony Creek Surprise


Uncle Billy and his Blues may have thought that their plan to launch a new invasion of the Origawn Territory was a well kept secret but very little escapes the Faraway Trading Company's sharp eyed, long eared Factors. Full of their usual arrogance, the Blue troops crossed over the Neverwaussie at the Stony Creek Bridge. Posting a few Light Horse picquets, the army settled down  in a ramshackle mess of tents, nothing like the ordered rows in one of Her Majesty's camps. Little did they know that brave FTC Voyagers had watched the whole process and slipped away with word to General Turner who had recently arrived at Fort Belmont in anticipation of just such a move.

     The layout of the camp.
(ed. The scenario calls for the camp to be laid out in a disorderly fashion so I divided it into 6 areas and diced for the location of each unit which left brigades well scrambled. Each unit is represented by 1 stand or a few loose figures, apart from the Dragoons who are represented by some tethered horses. The whole area was treated as Broken Ground for movement. 

General Turner, made good use of the information provided to him. He sent Brigadier Topper around to the North with 2 battalions composed of elements of the Royal, Dover and Uniake Fusiliers, a detachment of FTC Voyagers, and the Royal and A batteries of Foot artillery. To the South West he led the rest of the command, The Princess Charlotte Dragoons, Larsen's Lancers the Rocket Troop, and the Wye and Brooklyn Fusiliers. Right on target, the columns converged on the Republican invaders as the sun peeked over the horizon.

(ed. Dawn and full visibility was on turn 3 by the book. I started off with 25 yds (1") visibility on turn 1 stretching to 200 yds on turn 2. The columns arrived on Turns 1 and 2 having each rolled a d6 for arrival time.)

ALARM!!  (In the center right can be seen 1 of the vedettes circling to indicate "Enemy in Sight" - If they had of rolled more than "1" on their orders check, they would have been riding back to camp.)

Confusion and consternation were the watch words of the day in the Republican camp, Some of the vedettes galloped in while others tried to stand and shoot it out and yet others circled aimlessly. In camp, panic threatened to rout the army before the Queen's troops could get close.

The Rocket Troop opens fire. A video clip shot on a whim. The little green dice show the results of the panic and disorder caused by the surprise attack.  2 of Blue's batteries have already reached their Breakpoint before a shot is fired.  The Blue Guards were so surprised they didn't even have time to flock their bases before falling in. 

(ed. The original TT Teaser had a special reaction test while the later version used here leaves it to the GM. Since Hearts of Tin does not use separate morale tests, I was stuck at first but eventually decided to roll 1 die per stand, subtracting 3 from the score. This would give the number of cohesion "hits" on the unit from panic meaning a unit would suffer any  where from no effect, to the need to rally for a turn or 3 to dissolving in panic. It worked so well I have added it to the rules. )

As the Blue troops tried desperately to deploy for battle, the Queen's cavalry trotted calmly forward, wheeled into line, and charged. The enemy's 1st Dragoons met them, 1 foot in the stirrups and  were scattered to the wind. Without drawing rein, the Scarlet Dragoons spurred forward, crashing into the Blue Guards, formed on the edge of the camp. The Blue Guard, barely recovered from their initial surprised (they had rolled 6 hits, the highest of any unit but had rallied well) were obviously rattled as they fired into the air and fled towards the bridge.
Confusion in camp as the Princess Charlotte Dragoons charge home. The remnants of the Blue 1st Dragoons are vainly attempting to ride through a hail of musket fire from red's infantry just off camera while the Blue Guards have crumbled under the impact of the Scarlet Riders. Brigadier Wavey has been captured during the pursuit.

Despite being hampered by the tangle of tents and equipment the Queen's men plunged ever deeper into the camp. On the right of the Blue line, the veteran 3rd infantry, still crawling from their tents and buckling on equipment formed a hasty rallying square as the Guards rushed past. To their left, the 2nd infantry, formed in line to resist the approaching Wye Fusiliers, doubled into square as a tide of horsemen appeared out of no where.

     Colonel Flowerdew breaks into the enemy square. (the first test of the revised square rule)

For  a moment it looked like they would succeed but in the confusion, Colonel Flowerdew jumped his horse through a brief gap. Two troopers followed and the square collapsed in a panic. The 3rd infantry held however, and as the musket fire rippled up and down the faces of the square,  the troopers slowly obeyed the insistent call of the trumpet and rallied back to the hillock to rest their horses, tend the many wounded, and regroup.  A ragged cheer broke from the square, only to die away as the smoke cleared.

The Royal and 'A' batteries unlimber in canister range of the 2nd Infantry's square while the Uniake Fusiliers deploy into line and the Voyagers prepare to fall back to the flank of the guns. Note that the tents are coming down as troops form up.

For a few minutes quiet descended on the battle field then the guns opened on the Blue square. Minutes later the rattle of musketry was added to the din as the Uniake and Wye Regiments  pressed forward. The 3rd Infantry had a brief chance to escape but seeing the press of refuges behind them, they stood firm and fought to the last man, inflicting heavy losses on their red coated foe. (of course if their commander had remembered that returning fire as a reaction would prevent him from moving or if a Black card had come up 1st on the next turn....)  Their stand was not in vain however. Behind the rampart of their bodies, the Blue Guards rallied and headed for the bridge as  did the cavalry and 2 badly shaken batteries whose ammunition wagon horses bolted early on (well that's what their report said)
Seeing the Elephant. The Lafayette County Volunteer Rifles, newly recruited and in their first fight, step up to the line and trade volley for volley with the Queen's veteran soldiers.

It looked like the rest of Blue's army could make its escape but General Turner wasn't done. A brisk note was sent off to Brigadier Topper and the Royal Fusiliers pressed forward to push the retreating Guards and seize the bridge, trapping the remaining Blue forces. In the confusion, General Ross suddenly found his bridle grabbed by an officer in red and was forced once again to surrender his sword.

It was beginning to look like this campaign was over almost before it began,  but one can never discount those Blue coated soldiers. Calmly reforming from square to column of divisions, the 1st Infantry, the oldest regiment in the Oberhilse Field Force, marched at double quick time, disregarding the disorder caused by pushing through the camp at speed, and threw themselves onto the Royal Fusiliers. Fighting was desperate and prolonged but eventually the red coats fell back. Withe their backs to the river, the 1st Infantry held the bridgehead while the Volunteers were ordered to double back, covered by their skirmishers. A hail of canister and musket balls cut up both regiments and the brave Brigadier St. John was struck from the saddle by a spent canister round as he  crossed the bridge and had to be carried to safety, but the army was saved.

The invasion was over but with its rear protected by the Guards, Light Horse and the 2nd Dragoons, the army could pull itself together and fight again tomorrow.

Notes: For anyone who missed it, this was not only a test of the latest draft of Hearts of Tin but the 1st game in Steve the Wargamer's response to Jeff's call for mini-campaign ideas.

The Queen's army did suffer losses but no units reached their breaking point (though a couple were but a good volley away!) The Republic lost 2 infantry regiments, a light infantry regiment, a cavalry regiment and a battery (gun)  destroyed, 2 generals captured and 1 wounded. Two more infantry regiments reached their break point and lost stands.In all 17 stands were lost.   A thorough defeat. The next game will see the troops left on table in a delaying action. Some of the removed stands may be ready to return for the 3rd battle.

I'm really happy with how the rules are working. I did find a few gaps (for instance no mention of visibility distance at night) and at least one case where a change in wording appears to have been poorly thought through. I have usually revolved melee by determining unit by unit if a UNIT was defeated or not, not by determing if one SIDE won or lost. Right away I got into multi-unit melee's and the results didn't make sense (eg by the current  wording, the cavalry vs squares melee would have had both squares break because of the way the hits fell even though the 1 square tied. ) so I reverted to unit by unit status. A revision to the wording will follow. The cavalry was in a nearly optimum situation, a pursuit from the flank into an emergency square, a situation in which an infantry unit might well have been cut down, and the Blue troops were unlucky but I'm not sure a proper square wouldn't have broken with the same die rolls. I need to check that out in case I've missed something but I may have to put the cavalry vs square square penalty back to -2 again. There was also not enough thought and words put into the skirmisher and support rule. To get it to work the way I meant, I had to treat the skirmishers as a detachment, which meant I hadn't really needed a new rule after all  but it doesn't hurt,  I just need to explain it better.

Time to flock some more bases and reset the table for Game 2, sometime this week.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tenting tonight

The Lafeyette County Volunteer Rifles proudly parade with their new colours as they march off in search of an elephant..  

Spring has come early and so have the forces of Oberhilse. Slipping quietly over the Neverwaussie River where the Stony Creek joins it, the Republicans pitch their tents in anticipation of a well earned rest. After all, the forces of Faraway are, well, far away. What could go wrong as a new campaign begins?

The artillery pitches their tent and the doctor treats some blisters as the Rifles return from a patrol through the surrounding hills.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maneuvering around Disorder

Thank you to all for the input. Looking closely at the various causes, I realized that only 1 still meant what I used to mean by disorder: troops defeated in melee. So, I renamed Disorder to "Maneuvering" and  moved it to the movement section. Of course this rippled through the melee results but I have been really uncomfortable with the current penalties as they seemed too severe for a narrow loss. I backed thing out to a turn your back and retreat and increased the penalties for being caught by pursuit. I also decided that since squares were a special case, I should just treat them as such rather than trying to fit them in to the general case. Odd how saying what you mean is sometimes an easier more direct way of dealing with things.

I'm now pondering whether I should write a separate design notes section or just add a few more commenst through the rules, once I get a quick reference sheet done?

So lots of rewording in the lastest draft as I keep trying to fine tune imbedded design notes and explanations as well as the rules them selves but the small melee tweaks are the main ones. I REALLY need to play about 5 games as is.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RFP: Looking for a better word

While working on this version of my Hearts of Tin rules, I noticed that I was referring to a growing list of things that earned a negative modifier when shooting or fighting. For example: "-1 if troops other than skirmishers having moved through broken or difficult terrain this move, or if....". With no offence to someone I both like and respect, it was beginning to look a little Barkeresque. It seemed to me that  if I just gathered all these causes in one place and gave them one name, it would make the rules clearer and any QRS a little cleaner and shorter.

But what to call them? As a place holder, I fell back on an old term: "Disorder" even though I knew it only really applied to one of the items. Here is the list

" DISORDER. Disorder is used in these rules to represent various things that reduce a unit’s ability to deliver effective fire or reduce its impact during a charge whether by temporarily disrupting a unit’s formation or consuming time during manoeuvring. A disordered unit suffers a -1 penalty when shooting and in melee. All disorder is automatically removed at the end of the brigade’s activation. A unit becomes disordered if it:
(1) is any but skirmishers or pack animals that move in broken or rough terrain,
(2) changes formation or facing or moves to the flank or rear
 (3) is artillery or mounted infantry that moves, (ie has to mount/dismount, limber etc)
(4) if it moves through friends or has friends move through unless one of the units are skirmishers
(5) is prone infantry with muzzle loaders and stands up or is charged,
(6) Rallies,
(7) Is so designated so by the GM or as the result of a special rule".

The main feature that these things have in common is that they eat up time and distract a unit from their external things like the enemy. Logically, this means there should be a reduction in movement distance, which is what I used to do. It  always "felt" right but too often produced the "wrong" effect.

This all stems from the game being structured into fixed length turns while the real world is not, but I happen to like a turn structure for a game. The smaller the time segment allocated to a turn, the more accurately one could measure activity but the slower and more complicated actually playing the game becomes as you try to track too much data and too many interactions over the 100's of turns that a game lasts. It also perversly makes it harder to make the game accurate because we now have to account for all the things that lead to "hurry up and wait" syndrome or why most troops spend most of a battle doing nothing. So, we compromise and apply various fudges such as assuming that turns contain variable amounts of delay.

Here I place myself firmly in the footsteps  of Lawford and Young who boldly state that  they make no effort to adhere to a rigid time scale and that a turn may represent an hour of not much or a few minutes of action. If I adhered rigidly to a time scale of 15 minutes per turn then the most pessimistic rates of march over rural terrain would indicate that once in motion, a body of trained infantry in line should be able to move at least 30" in one turn. With a turn based game on a small table, that just doesn't work for me so I have arbitrarily reduced moves to 12" which means a unit which has to deal with an obstacle or execute a formation change or do some fancy maneuvering  just spends more time moving whether because the turn is longer or because they spend less time doing other things like shooting or "hurrying up and waiting". This seems to match the feel I get from memoirs. These often mention that something disrupted an attack but I can't recall any cases of an attack stalling at cannister range because the men had had to deploy into lie before starting.

The problem is that on 4 or 5 occasions recently, I have found myself or others somewhat confused by the use of the word "disordered". I need a new word and am soliciting suggestions for another term for this list of things that temporarily reduce a unit's combat effect.  Some thoughts that come to mind are Distracted, or Delayed. (note the use of D is not required!),  

Comments and suggestions please?

While thinking about here is a video link to the Fort Henry Guard demonstrating  how to "Shoot with a -1 penalty then retire 2 inches"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Awkward Squad

The first half of the Lafayette County Rifles received their uniforms today. They don't quite have the polish of regulars yet but some more drill and a 2nd coat of varnish should fix them up.

I normally avoid painting white horses in Toy Soldier style. They tend to come out blotchy and without shading and washes, there is no where to hide. He just seemed  like a white horse kind of guy though.

The HofT draft has received some more proof reading and minor changes such as a movement penalty to foot or siege artillery which moves.

While backing up some files I came across the original (2003) Morschauser Meets MacDuff. I have this nagging feeling that its better than most of the intervening versions. Oddly enough, one of the things that made me uneasy was how the rally chart worked, a successful rally brought back 1/2 of casualties. I've been worried with the return of the Rally to HofT that a big unit will take longer than 2 small ones to recover after losing a melee. When I reread the original, now that I understand that the hits are about morale and cohesion as much or more than casualties, the original rally suddenly made sense! So I updated the rally rule. The latest draft has been updated but I have also added a link to the original.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Halt! Advance one and be recgonised!

"Easy there Cap'n! Don't shoot! We heard there was trouble brewing on the frontier so some of the boys thought we'd volunteer to come down, see if you could use a hand. You kin call us the Lafayette County Rifles."

The Light Company practices the drill for deploying as skirmishers.

Say what you will, there is satisfaction to be had from conscripting your own peasants and turning them into soldiers, or from hiring mercenaries but there is nothing quite like the excitement and pleasure of the arrival of a band of volunteers.

A BIG thank you to the talented and generous John Bertolini for this regiment of homecast Volunteers formed of his own sculpting in the German toy soldier mode  (click here to see some of John's soldiers in action on Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog ).  John has provided a volunteer with a master pattern uniform, spot on for a US volunteer unit of the 1840's right down to the shape of the shako so equally eligible for service in Oberhilse or the US.

Can't wait to get the tailor started on uniforming the rest so I can get them into action.

Rough Planning

I've been holding off on additions to my 16thC armies, or indeed, completing the task of moving them from their too thin cardboard bases onto the pre-cut masonite bases from the appropriately named Rennaissance Inc. .  Partly this is because we already have lots of troops when Rob & I get together, but mostly because I haven't been sure what the next step is. Which armies? How many stands? and so on.

I think I had been subconsciously trying to tweak the rules to allow for armies twice the size of what I can field but at this point, on my table, the armies that took part in last nights game were about the right size and shape. The rules were not designed by starting with ground scale but working backwards from arquebus range, a scale around the classic 1"=10 yards is about right which probably puts all the games into the short skirmish somewhere category if one was fussy. Taking the ground scale, the base sizes and the density of pikes formed with an equal number of files and ranks, we come up with as many as 400 pikemen per stand if closed up or as few as 200 or less if maneuvering and/or considering the base depth to be exaggerated as usual, 250 seems like a nice round, convenient number. If we then assume that the light infantry represent 50 or so guys skirmishing with another 50 to 100 in reserve, or 125 on average and if we accept that the common ratio of arquesbus, in the 1st half of the 16thC, was around the 15-25% mark, maybe higher away from the main battlefields, then a ratio of 1 shot stand to 2 pike stands works about right. Since most cavalry formed very thin formations at the time, I'm going to go with around 50 men per stand to get the right balance of theoretical numbers to tactical or game effect. So much for translating historical situations where one can get something approaching historical numbers. For TT Teasers, 2 or 3 stands per scenario unit seems to work well. Actually, 3 stands per unit might have made my table a bit crowded but in any case, I didn't have another 6 pike, 8 shot and 8 stands of cavalry. I could have made up the infantry by deploying more English but  not the cavalry. Luckily 2 stands per unit seemed to work and seems like a good target.

The plan at one point had been to have English, French, Scots, Imperial and Turkish armies. So far everything I have can be fielded in a game set in Scotland during the 1540's when a substantial French force was present. It makes sense to add more Scots pike and more English so that I can do more of the same, but not enough sense to motivate me. Worse, my Scots pike mold is flawed and needs to be replaced which is why I put expansion on hold until I try my spin caster. Once I have a good mold with 2 or 3 Scots pike figures and I could cast and paint up 4 dozen or so more Scots in a month should I ever feel the need.

I rather enjoyed  not having the English form the bulk of either army so my new goal is to bring opposing French & Imperial armies up to that level for service in Italy. One of the benefits of the period is of course  that Landsknechts and various other mercenary troops can cheerfully fight for either side on any given day, and far behind the boundaries of either France or the Empire. So, as long as I have a core of identifiable troops and Generals, I can bulk the numbers with mercenaries which are allocated as needed for the game in hand.

The real divide in my armies, is between the small, well proportioned and dynamic Elastolin infantry, and almost everyone else.  I have mixed a few of the Elastolins in with my own figures and in the heat of the game will even mix whole stands, but since I have a number of kits on hand, I think I will do a whole block of Elastolins, 6 pike, 2 shot. I want 2 more stands of mounted arquebus/crossbow, 2 more of Gensdarmes and 4 of lancers. I also need to add a flag to my Imperial commander's stand. That's now my goal for this year, when that's done, I could use actual French and Spanish troops but I'll probably start thinking about  Turks again.   Gotta have some turbans somewhere.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Skype and Shot

I am happy to report that today I enjoyed a 4 player Rough Wooing game at home. Normally 4 people are quite a crowd in my games room but luckily I was able to squeeze 3 of them into a little box off to one side.
Norman (allied Landsknecht Commander), Rob (the Enemy), William (Allied Cavalry Commander) 

I was supposed to be the away player today but logistics dictated a change of plan so I hosted again. What Rob & I needed was a scenario which would allow a pike clash to test the rules for that sort of thing, but also a new scenario to take to Huzzah in May. I proposed Scenario 10, the Alliance from Programmed Scenarios.  This scenario calls for 3 allied groups to try to block a common enemy from exiting their side of the table. It seemed just right for Highland and Lowland Scots with French assistance but that would mean Bills & Bows again so I scraped the barrel for enough Landsknechts to take us to the continent with a unified French force facing an Anglo-Imperial alliance. I was all set to use the Player + 2 programmed allies option for the defenders but luckily Rob's sons were at hand and able to be pressed into service.  

An overview of the deployment. I suspect this is clearer than what the remote players saw.

In Rough Wooing, our 16thC rules originally inspired by Morschauser, each stand is a unit. When translating the scenario forces for Rough Wooing using my forces and table, I usually use 2 stands per unit except for guns where I field 1 per battery. On a 10 ft table with both armies present we would usually double that. As it the opposing armies ended up as follows:

The Alliance. On the left was an English Force with 2 stands of Sword & Buckler men, 3 of archers and 1 of arquebusiers. The crucial interest of this body of light infantry (presumably a safe escape to the coast) was through open ground on the right flank. On the opposite side was a body of Imperial cavalry whose interest led through a swampy wooded area. Two stands of men at arms on barded horses, 4 stands of lancers and 2 stands of light cavalry.  In the middle was a body of Flemish Landsknechts with 2 guns. Their commander was in over all charge but due to language and political issues, his role was limited to deciding which player on his side would activate when a red intitative card was turned.

The French. The French, led by the Duc de Havre Grace (wearing the armour of the Duc de St Lambert to confuse the enemy and inspire the men.)  had two blocks each of 6 pike and 2 shot (1 Swiss, 1 Scots)  and 2 limbered guns in the center. To the right was a flank guard of 2 stands of Gensdarmes. To the left was a battle of 4 units of shot and one with 4 stands of lancers and 2 of mounted arquebusiers. 

The battle opened with and an echeloned advance by the French, heading for the open ground held by the English. The Scots on the right seemed to have been particularly bothered by their open flank and the sight of numerous cavalry as they managed to move a bare 9 inches on the first 3 turns (rolling 2 dice per turn for inches). Due to the cavalry threat the game was nearly over before they were ready to advance again.
The Gensdarmes, already pounded by Imperial artillery, begin their death ride. 

Undaunted by numbers, the English archers stepped forward and opened fire, expecting to devastate the foe as usual. Unfortunately a light rain shower had dampened their bow strings (or maybe the dice got wet). The French cavalry spurred forward and tried to match their dice, roll for roll, but eventually their hatred of the old foe overcame their politeness and supported closely by the French shot, they rode down and routed the English though not without cost.
The red and white baubles mark hits, groups can spread hits out but the 3rd hit on a stand will remove it.

On the right the Imperial cavalry came forward. Sending their light cavalry sweeping wide, they surrounded the French Gensdarmes and were cut down. Oops. The 50 year old Gensdarmes then shrugged off a rear attack by light cavalry while the Scots arquebusiers crept forward far enough to start sniping at the main body of heavy cavalry. It took a few more charges but eventually the last Gendarme went down but the Imperial cavalry was badly staggered. (8 vs 2 supported by 2 shot and they barely won, I'd better get painting more proper Imperial heavy cavalry). 

There was still a chance that the Imperial cavalry could slip past the pikemen and chase off the French left wing but some Scottish sharpshooting took its toll and with the Battle 1 hit away from breaking and the time running out, we decided to jump ahead. Despite their best efforts, any pike clash  was at least 3 turns away and the Imperial pikes, stripped of their shot by some hot French shooting, were standing all alone in the face of French shot and cannon. We decided to allow some French shooting and then slipped the Swiss forward and did the charge. With a  mighty clash rolled up into contact and despite the disadvantage of fighting uphill, they pushed the Flemish back to the edge of the table.
A typical pike stand, the figure in Morion is Irregular ECW, the double pay man beside him is a Sash & Saber Landsknecht while the 2 behind him are homemade from scratch, amongst my first sculpting efforts. These homemade figures form the bulk of my 16thC armies.

 At that point we had to call the game but it was a clear French victory despite the serious delay and a staunch defence.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A campaign of positions

OK, here we are, for Jeff (or any one else) a Horse and Musket campaign using Programmed Wargame Scenarios. The basic idea is that the armies will jockey  for position until one is thoroughly defeated or the two armies are exhausted.

Each side picks 15 units as their campaign army. For this purpose, all units are equal and of average type. For every 2 units upgraded to Guard, Heavy artillery, horse artillery, cuirassiers, etc what ever fits, a 3rd unit must be removed. For every 2 units downgraded to militia or similar, a 3rd militia unit may be added.   This force is the pool from which you draw  units from for the campaign. If your rules/army organization don't match the lists in the scenario book, you will have to work out your own way to equate your troops to scenario units.

For any given scenario you may only use as many units as the scenario calls for. If you do not have enough of a certain troop type then you can substitute what you do have. If you do not have enough units left then you must do your best with what you have. Any units that are routed, destroyed or lose over 50% are removed from the campaign list. Whether or not you wish to replace some or all other losses is up to you and the rules you use.

The campaign begins with a clash of advance guards: Scenario 11 Crossroads. If the game is a draw, then dice off to determine who becomes the defender for the next scenario.

The loser of the 1st game will fall back to a defensive position of his choosing. He must choose one of:: Scenarios 1,2,3,5,6,7,8 or  9 with himself as defender and the winner of the previous game as attacker. If the defender wins or draws or if the attacker concedes without playing then the former attacker will fall back, become the defender and must choose a scenario as above. No scenario may be chosen more than once during the campaign.  If there are no scenarios left then the campaign is a draw.

If the attacker wins one of these scenarios, then he will win the campaign but the degree of victory will be determined by the last game. Play Scenario 4, Holding Action with the previous defender as the holding force. If the holding force wins or ties then the campaign is a minor victory for the attacker. If the rearguard loses then the defeated army is crushed by the pursuit and the campaign is a major victory.

More researching people who never existed

We all know who's fault this little diversion really is. I was minding my own business, sorting out regulars, gluing them onto bases and calculating which regiments needed more figures, when Someone suggested  I write a mini-campaign. The next thing I know, the urge to fight some kind of colonial action, that I've been struggling to suppress for the last year has burst into flames again and the most urgent thing in the world is to figure out what the North Atlantican tribes looked like, and a little about their society, politics and methods of warfare and who their friends and enemies were.

Its not always easy identifying reliable sources of information about fictional peoples and places.

Apart from a browse through 2 Osprey's on South Africa which does have some similarities, most of my time was spent on the net as I have very little on the peoples of the North American Plains and West Coast and on those from South America. These 4 places  provide the closest parallels to the colonial experience of the Atlantican peoples, apart perhaps from the Northern Kingdom. Actually much of what I wrote about in 2009 when considering an Oregon Campaign is applicable to North Atlantica in some way.

For things like skin tone though, sometimes ts best to go to original sources, and luckily I had some to hand.
Its interesting that both Britain's and LoneStar portrayed both flesh colours, the more common reddish shade and the rarer dark brown of the coast. Unfortunately they have been given American Plains Indian headresses though the yellow bonnet is close to some Atlantican styles.

 So far I have identified 3 main groups and  1 minor one. The minor ones are the cannibals of the coast. They are a small, poorly organized tribe and don't play a significant role politically. They probably wouldn't play any role at all if it weren't for certain mineral and other riches to be found in their jungles. As it is, hostile feelings to whites have been raised to the point where small raiding parties occasionally leave the jungle to work with various allies.

The largest, most powerful, and least relevant at this point is the  realm of King Watsisnaim. which is currently at peace and trading happily with the Faraway Trading Company FTC). Of the bulk of the various small Atlantican nations, many of the farming tribes have come under the sway of the king but most of the herding and the hunting tribes are still free.  That leaves one group which has cropped up several times in battlegame reports but usually misunderstood and poorly represented.  The Brethren, as they call themselves, are a mixed race, mostly Atlantican but including both whites and some Africans, (largely escaped or freed slaves ) with a high percentage of people of mixed racial heritage. Based on several fortified towns along the coast, they do ranch and fish but their  main economic activity involves the use of small ships for other purposes, such as the transport of people's property, other people's property......this brings them into periodic conflict with the FTC and the Royal Navy. One of their main profit streams is the importation of fire arms for sale to the tribes of the interior. This has earned them staunch allies amongst the tribes but has not endeared them to the Oberhilse settlers pushing north over the mountains.

2 stands of Brethern and  a stand of native spearmen who haven't earned any muskets yet, in front of a small but typical Atlantican house. 

In terms of dress, all of the Atlanticans originally wore not much more than  loin cloth in hot weather, supplementing this with a cloak or blanket in cold weather. These are usually made from animal hides in the hunting and herding areas but from woven wool in the northern agricultural areas. In the far south, the colder weathers led to the adoption of deerskin tunics and leggings in winter. In the north, the introduction of cotton  led to the widespread adoption of loose cotton shirts and  pants. Hats are rare though felt hats are worn  and there is some use of ceremonial headdress for special occasions. A simple cotton head band is much more common, often brightly dyed. The Brethern are much more likely to be seen wearing items of European dress but loose cotton clothes and head scarves  are also the norm with them.

A close up of the newly mustered Atlanticans. The glue is still drying on the bases, it was a hard struggle whether to paint them plain green to match the glossy toy soldier look or just do my thing since they aren't "proper" individual toy soldiers anymore, anyway. Gloss + flock won out.

So, yes, I have been having fun. Thank you Jeff for getting me thinking.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Soldier Stamps

While I was pondering just what native Atlantican regulars (not to mention irregulars) looked like, I realized that I had a vague, not quite remembered image in my head. After mentally rummaging through various possible sources it came to me.

One of my very early books, probably when I was 7 or 8? maybe younger, was the Golden Stamp Book of Soldier stamps. A very influential and formative book which I occasionally forget about consciously. I don't think I ever forget it unconsciously. I hadn't realized until today when I dug it out and looked through it, just how many of the stamps have inspired wargame units (or armies). Just looking at the front cover, I've never done any Samurai. That's it, which is worrisome in an "Invisible Finger" way.

Anyway, it turns out the picture in question was of an 1800 Haitian rebel in French habit-veste, bare calves and straw hat. This one got opposing wargame armies in 15mm.  The Atlanticans won't look like that though they may wear similar straw hats.


Ahhh How Beautifully Rome Burns!

Yes, I've been fiddling again. Nothing major.

The most noticeable thing is that it belatedly occurred to me that having fixed the morale, there was no reason not to bring back the Skirmisher & Support formation. That is now done.

The most crucial little thing is more adjusting of the melee chart. I really like the double hit on a 6 but it means that there are no little modifiers anymore. a simple net -1 or +1 is a HUGE bonus while a +2 is devastating. Added to this is that there are some things that I expect and want to make a difference. Some of these I have dropped or compromised, others I have decided I want to keep even if I can find logical reasons to drop them.
The trick is, are they a +1 for you or a -1 for the other guy. This is now an asymmetrical thing.

These include:

a) troop quality. One can argue that the morale system considers that and including it in melee is double jeopardy but at the end of the day I want the Grenadiers to have a better chance of winning not just a better chance of being able to come back and try again.

b) cavalry charges and squares. I want regular cavalry to be a fearsome threat to infantry, esp heavy cavalry but not an invincible one esp against infantry with breechloaders. I want squares to be nearly but not quite invincible to the cavalry. This is  narrow balance which I hope I have addressed.

c) shooting and charges. Part of the answer has been to go back to roots. Since I let go of Morschauser's 3"  melee distance in favour of MacDuff's close range fire and charges (ok the more common traditional way but in the Morschauser Meets MacDuff context, it comes from the MacDuff side of the family) then I could also go back to adding shooting and melee results together. This takes away the need for giving breechloaders and smoothbore arty  a bonus for their shooting ability when charged as they will hopefully have fired in reaction, if not, well, field works are handy.

c) disorder. Does it stop you from doing damage or make you more vulnerable? From my reading both is true and I have wavered on this but at the end of the day, not only does stopping you from doing damage mesh better with decisions on other factors, its also easier to remember and matches shooting.

So there we are another draft uploaded.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Now that Jeff has me thinking mini-campaigns, 
Are we going to the jungles of Northern Atlantica?
Nku Khuland?

I'm not sure I have enough 54's ready to go and the 40mm Atlanticans sure aren't ready yet.
Maybe an ACW version of Steve's entry?  I'll have to check troops vs force levels  and think about the impact on my painting motivation. Luckily, I've already started a 25mm Ancients version, my Bactrians vs Ron's Chinese.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Comox Valley Campaign

A few days ago, BlueBear Jeff issued a challenge to make a simple campaign based on Scenarios for Wargames. I've been out sailed by a Random Wargamer and a One Armed Admiral but  there appears to room to squeeze by close to shore for someone with a shallow draft.

Knowing that Jeff & I both have Colonial as well as Horse & Musket forces, I've planned this as a Colonial Campaign but it could as easily fit various Ancient Settings.  Jeff asked for simple, so I'm not even going to track losses, instead I am going with a flow chart idea. The first scenario is common, but after that each player has a list of scenarios.  No scenario may be played twice.If a player wins a battle,  the next game on his list will be the game played. The first player to play and win his final game, wins the campaign. In the case of a draw, or if a winner has no more games in his list then players will go to a series of neutral games.  If a player wins the final Neutral game, he wins the campaign. The campaign could be over in as few as 3 games or could drag for a maximum of 7 games plus a mini-mini-campaign.

Since rules and available forces vary with who is playing it I have just described the opposing forces as Imperial and Native. They could be British and Pathans, Romans and Brigantes or whoever you choose. The assumption is that each unit is of roughly equivalent fighting power rather than equal numbers. If not adjust the force levels to compensate. For MacDuff in the 1880's I might go with 6 man Imperial companies with 1 gun or MG per "battery" (ie 1/2 what the scenario spceifies), 12 man Native spear units or 6 native rifle or cavalry. In any case, if the army does not use units of a given type (eg cavalry if using Zulu's) just substitute whatever makes sense.

The basic translation of scenario units is:
Infantry = regular infantry of the appropriate type.
Light Infantry = Native Auxiliaries
Light Cavalry = Irregular Cavalry, Volunteers etc
Heavy Cavalry = Regular cavalry
Artillery = Artillery or MG.

Infantry = Spear or swordsmen
Light Infantry = Riflemen
Light Cavalry = native cavalry if any
Heavy Cavalry = more spearmen
Artillery = more riflemen or an old cannon if appropriate.

Starting the campaign. The Comox Valley has been quiet of late so the Governor has decided to go on a tour of the frontier guarded by a small escort.

Play Scenario 30 Ambush (1) Natives are "Red"

If the winner of any game is the Native player, play the next game in this list of 2 scenarios. If no scenarios are left go to the next Neutral scenario.

1. The Natives are elated by their success and decide to cross the river and invade Imperial Territory.
Play Scenario 4. Holding Action (2) Natives are "Red".

2. A small Imperial Garrison is all that stands between the settlements in the Comox Valley and an invading horde. Play Scenario 13 Last Stand. Natives are "Blue".
If the natives win, they fan out gathering cattle, pillaging and burning as they go. They have won the campaign. If the Imperials win or the game is a draw, their staunch defense has dismayed the enemy, go to the next Imperial scenario.

If the winner of any game is the Imperial Player, play the next game in this list of 2 games. If no scenarios are left go to the next Neutral scenario.

1. The Natives must be punished. A punitive expedition heads towards their homeland.
Play Scenario 3. Holding Action (1).Imperials are "Red"

2.  A small force has pushed ahead to outflank the native defences.
Play Scenario 34 Swampland Action. Imperials are "Red"
If the Imperials win, they will confiscate cattle, burn crops and destroy all the surrounding villages. They have won the campaign. If the Natives win, go to the next game on the Native list.


If any game is a draw or if a player has run out of scenarios without winning the campaign then play the next game in this list.

1. The situation is unsettled. The Imperials are trying to consolidate their position and prepare for a long campaign. Play Scenario 32 Convoy (1) Wagon Train. Imperials are "Blue".

2. The situation is out of hand. The Settlers will have to be evacuated until a major expedition can be launched. Play Scenario 33 Convoy (2) Evacuation. Imperials are "Blue".
This scenario is really a mini-campaign within a mini-campaign and the result will decide the campaign. Winner takes all. (If this one is too ambitious, play number 42 Advance Column with the Imperials as Red  as a tie breaker.)

Hmm, I think I'd like to play this myself. I'll have to start planning.

I think I'll call it....a Wheel!

This morning's 1st prototype w magnetic base
For those of us pondering more elegant ways to mark hits, Steve Gill has found a company that offers exactly one of the things  I was trying to figure out how to make.

Just scroll down to see "casualty marker" in 2 formats, 1 with a figure added as an example. I might use drummers instead of dead guys, after all, the massed drums normally formed up behind their battalion, so a better use for them than being squeezed into the ranks.

Litko appears to have something similar in plastic.

and I imagine other companies probably offer similar products. or I could keeping working on inventing one.

Hunh! How about that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tin Hearts and Ross Mac Comin'

Here they COME!

Not that I want to associate myself in any fashion with Dickie but some of my Union regiments are from Ohio.  As mentioned, I finished off yesterday's game using Hearts of Tin, we don't need to mention how Red's attack fared or what happened to the Bodyguard and the Princess Charlotte Dragoon Guards when faced by one scruffy squadron of Blue Dragoons, but the square rules seem to work, just ask the Blue Guards.  However, when I went to reset and try again with the post game improvements and some of the new, ummn Features, removed. I was suddenly tired of trying to round up stragglers, dressing the ranks and standing figures up so I decided that bases were called for even if the rules work without them. Actually I was a bit taken aback by my eagerness to get them back onto their bases. After all, I never did finish the single bases on all the ones I de-based last fall. It seemed smarter to just go with armies that were already based. It made even more sense to use armies which had recently played with the previous draft so I could see how it compared. So off to O-Hi-O or Tennessee or somewhere for Scenario 1, Scene 2.

Where the scenario called for light infantry or cavalry in excess of what I had, I merely fielded another infantry unit. It turned out there were enough stands to give every regiment 4 stands. (They had been painted as 3,4 or 5 stands depending on when they were done.) 2 batteries each of 2 guns, 6 infantry in 2 brigades, a sharpshooter and 2 stands of cavalry for Johnny Reb. 2 batteries, 8 infantry and 1 cavalry for Billy Yank. 3 of the batteries had 1 rifled gun and 1 Napoleon, the remaining, Yankee battery had a 6 pdr instead of the Rifle. Not nearly as good to be honest, 2 Napoleons would have been OK though.

 After an hour of shelling (4 turns),  the Union battery in the center was slowly getting the upper hand and the infantry was ordered forward. On the Federal left, the battery supported by cavalry had already shifted forward to bring the 6pdr into action.  The Rebs on the hill got tired of being shot at and advanced which triggered a reaction from the hovering cavalry (who seem to have forgotten about their breechloading carbines and the 2 nice new dismounted cavalry stands).
 The real action begins.
 The infantry, obviously a bit rattled, fired high and if the Brigadier hadn't been there, (he had had to drag them off the hill by the ear), and able to inspire them in melee, they would have broken and probably been ridden down. As it was, it was a tied melee.
 OOPS! Rebs, Rebs on Horses! (where the heck did they come from?)

Once they had mopped up the Yankee cavalry, the Reb horsemen started eyeing the now unsupported battery. Good timing for box cars from the artillery!

It was about this time that the Rebs realized that they had made a BIG mistake. During the artillery duel, they had ample warning that their battery was losing the fight but instead of pulling back to dead ground and slowly rallying the battery to get it ready to hold off the inevitable infantry attack, they stuck it out until they reached their break point. Then they figured what the hell, nothing to lose now, except there was, they soon went from 1 army morale point lost, to 2 points lost for a destroyed battery and no canister to stop  a break through. Well, not like the Yanks will break through with a mere 6 regiments vs 3 on that side of the hill. (Why were there still 3 Reb regiments fending off a 1/2 hearted attack by 2 Yankee regiments on the other side? Well, there was a lot of smoke and I was busy and well it was Hoods fault! He should have been here.)

 Where did the Yanks find all those 6's??

Oh Damn!

At this point, the flank charge actually stalled in a tied melee. The Rebs had 3 units at their Break Point and 2 units destroyed. Their morale was down to 3 from 10. But the Yanks were already down to...hmm 8 from 11.   OK, not good but the day is not lost yet! Counter attack on the right, then if the reserve wheels about and fires a load of ....OK failed order check. Oh crap the Butternuts just broke, General Ryder has been captured and the Yanks have just plowed into the  flank of the reserve. There goes the Army Morale. Skidaddle boys! Every man for himself!

What can I say? This is just the sort of game that I've been wanting to play for 2 well, 12 well, many years!

Hard to say how long it took as I was stealing away from other things to play a turn here and a turn there, not to mention updating the draft as I found things. About 10- 12 turns I think, and somewhere between 1 and 2 hours.

The slightly longer but much freer moves coupled with the reaction system and the cards worked like a charm as did interplay from the improved combat system with the double hits on a 6 (Thank you WRG 1685-1845 rules!), the increased number of hits per stand and the way the accumulating hits works.  I did have a couple of units that were on the verge of reaching their Break Point but were able to pull back and rally to the point where they could rejoin the action but most were too busy or the hits came too fast.

One thing has given me some concern. Once again I really enjoyed the 1/72nd armies on my 5x6 table. Not crowded at all. in fact I could have doubled the number of stands easily and possibly tripled though that might have made the game a long one. That means Divisional or even small Corps battles. If I compress the ground scale to 1mm = 2 yds, and use brigades as units, I'm into fighting original F&F scenario territory. And these guys will stand on my rolling cloth over hills terrain. If I do some spray painting of drop cloths and ... 1/72 nd Sikhs did you say? or 1/72nd Franco-Prussian? That was NOT the plan!

I'd better get working on getting my 40mm Toy Soldiers onto their bases so they can work their glossy magic on me..

I'm looking forward to trying the rules out vs a live opponent. 10mm Tricornes anyone?

Shaken and Stirred. Abstract Morale (updated)

The tricky thing about Morale is that it isn't. Its like the wind, you can feel its presence and see its effect, even measure its effect but you can't touch it or see it or capture it and put it away to study it later.

One of the things that hits and stand removal in Hearts of Tin (like figure removal in MacDuff) represents is the slowly degrading cohesion of a unit in combat. Troops get tired, they get scared, nco's and officers get hit, discipline and courage start to falter. One traditional way of handling this has been to have a separate chart to roll on to see if units run. Another way is to just remove units in combat and who cares how many were shot and how many ran away? (apart from in a campaign but there are ways around that).

In the morale test world, the one I grew up in, there were often intermediate steps between AOK and Run Away!, and these usually had combat and morale penalties. In the removal world, generally you are there or not and the penalty is at a higher level, that is, as stands are lost, holes open up in your line.

In the middle of trying to finish off the game last night using HofT instead of MacDuff, (often tricky changing rules 1/2 way through)   I found myself pondering the inequity of rules where having an even or odd number of stands makes a difference to how well your unit fights and wondering about solutions. I also pondered for the nth time whether to accumulate hits (quicker casualties, premature holes in the line, no reduction in fighting power for the stands that are left meaning 2 battered units are as good as 1 whole one and no sudden collapse)  or spread them out (more markers, a chance to rally, sudden collapse built in, weakened units still hold a big chunk of the line making it bad if they go and you haven't prepared for it). Spreading them out was how I originally did it but it was the piles of bingo markers that got to me. To compensate for faster removal, I had to pay more attention to defining and penalizing a unit that should be near collapse etc. It occurred to me part way through now that I have a choice of funny hats  for hits or little green dice, it was easier to use my preferred method then I didn't need a 2nd system, the rallying works etc.

It can be annoying how often removing a rule helps.

Also found that the smoothbore double shot cannister modifier was missing and decided that 1 form of modifiers was better than 2 so adjust that as well.  Pre -test draft loaded at left.

All of a sudden I realized I din;t have to mark which stands are carrying hits, I just establish the saturation or break point for a unit and track that. Once hit, every subsequent hit removes a stand. I can translate the shaken morale in melee rules into the same terms and suddenly have a single cohesive, integral but implicit morale system. OK update draft and again, then clear table.