Sunday, April 20, 2014

Honing the Brigadier

General Eaton takes command.
(Airfix ACW meets Guardsman, Hat Russian meets Esci 24th Foot and Italeri ACW meet a paint conversion.)
When I decided to set about a definitive version of the Square Brigadier I was torn between 2 methods of determining how many dice to roll, both methods I had used in the past. One was to base the number of dice on the number of figures, the other was to have a fixed number which remained until the unit is eliminated. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. The number of dice of course affects not just the average effect but also the extreme ones. When combined with modifiers to the score and to the number of dice, the delicate balance can easily become either boring or too drastic.

The first two games gave me some qualms about my initial choice without clinching it. The Zulu game did. Initially I was tempted to dismiss it as out of scale and isolated but although it looked like a skirmish, if taken at face value it was on a similar scale to the battle of Gingindlovu so  I decided to pay attention. A quick fix made the situation worse and I began to worry and contemplate a drastic change but after more pondering I decided a small tweak was enough. The shooting dice are now fixed and the number of melee dice reduced to increase the odds that units will survive their first melee long enough to need to determine a winner.

As long as I had the rules open, there was another issue on my mind since answering some questions by Arthur 1815  and looking at a very promising draft he sent me of a version with divisions as units which has some interesting features added.  The Square Brigadier tries hard to gloss over what is happening at a lower level to allow the player to concentrate on managing the battle as a whole but long years of fiddling with unit formations, limbering and unlimbering guns and so forth has left its mark and these sorts of things were starting to creep back in. That's the business of unit commanders and non-player subordinates, not the over all commander and so an inspection was held to identify and banish as many such culprits as I could.

With that done I painted up some new Allied Commanders (haven't done many 1/72 head swaps in the last 30 years. Once I got started on these it was hard to stop myself from veering from toy soldier to model soldier mode but I held firm)  and a unit of Imperial Mounted Huntsmen, and set up a game.

The first attack is repulsed.
This game follows on from the last one with the 1st 2 rows being repeated from the last 2 on the other game.  The Hungoverians have fallen back and taken up defensive positions along a ridgeline by a vital crossroad. I meant to send away the mounted rifles and dig entrenchments but the new Allied commander arrived and launched his attack before entrenchments to fit the square grid could be constructed. I still meant to give the attackers an advantage in numbers but 1/2 way through realized that it was only 14 units to 12, a pretty narrow advantage. The game was frequently interrupted and did not involve much dramatic movement. Since the story is easily told and the score of pictures taken mediocre at best, I'll be quick.

The defenders set up their main position on the reverse slope of the hill with the artillery forward. Mounted rifles held either flank with volunteers and the Guard holding the vital crossroad. The attacker a planned a preliminary bombardment then an assault up the center by infantry with Guards in reserve and mounted troops protecting the flanks. It didn't take long to drive in the defending artillery but then there were no more targets. The infantry assault arrived unscathed but was shot apart when the assaulted over the crest and a cavalry sweep around the flank  fared no better. 

The defender looked pretty smug until they realized that they had no way to safely intervene and stop the attacker from rallying  in the dead ground. As the guns and Guards moved up, the 2nd assault went in and did better despite heavy casualties. The Guards pushed past and took the first part of the town. Continued fighting saw the destruction of several defending units and their General who had been holding his boys to their work. It was the perfect time for a counter attack but without an order die on the next turn it couldn't happen and then it was too late. 

A quick count showed that Blue had now failed its army morale after losing 3 units and a general but that gave no heed to the actual goal of holding the crossroad and I didn't feel like quitting so I tweaked the victory conditions and pressed on.  A counter attack on the Guards was repulsed but a second one drove them out and brought the Allied army to the brink of defeat. A final assault by the Imperial cavalry in the center as another infantry attack captured the contested building for good. As counter battery fire silenced the defending artillery on their right, the defending army morale broke. 

The Allied intervention will continue. The rules page has been updated to reflect the game as played. Now to go 3 games without changes.

Final Victory. After much slaughter the Initial Decision is confirmed, with great slaughter.


  1. Interesting post and changes to rules.I like the figure conversions too.

  2. General Eaton looks like he has stepped (ridden?) straight out of one of Sinclair's illustrations for Little Wars. Perhaps you could turn your talents to creating General HGW, too?

    One of the many things I like about your Square Brigadier rules is that they are simple and robust enough to experiment with, as you have done with the Command system and number of shooting/combat dice to create the effect one desires.

    1. Stepped, the General is the chap on foot with the field glasses.
      The Guards commander does look like the General from Little Wars. I'll have to keep that a mind, bug plumed cocked hat, boots and saber and he would be all set.