Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Battle of Hanau - more pictures

First thing:   thanks to Bob E., Bob S, Ron P., Ian Mc., Garland R., James C., Rod F., Preston, and Lance G., for being patient students of these new rules Seth and I used for the game.  While I thought I was a bit rambling in my introduction to this historical scenario, the concepts behind the rules, and the rules themselves, several of you told me this benefited both your understanding of the game and the play itself.

Here is a picture taken by Kevin of me - in the light green shirt - babbling on  discussing the finer points.....

Doug gives pre-game instructions to the massive 28mm Napoleonic game
Photo of the "introduction" as taken from the Allied side of the battlefield

This shows the a key terrain piece of the battle, the town of Hanau.  Made by Seth from paper card and the fortifications of hard foam, it is both very good looking and light!  He is an architect by trade so it is natural he took on this task.  The town will no doubt be useful for other battles.

My French Imperial Guard.  The wheel on the black block indicates the artillery is limbered.
I just like the angle of this photo and the panorama of the battle. The game was on about a 7' by 5' table but still had space.  I know I could put on Waterloo on the same sized table!
The French regular cavalry.
While the Imperial Guard is in the fore, Marmont's 'corps' leads with the dark blue overcoated Naval Artillery Regiments who played a large part in the 1813 and 1814 battles.
The scope of the rules and thus basing of the figures are for the corps and not the battalion. Thus only the really significant terrain features are shown.  It is for the lowly majors to worry about such things as hedges and ditches not the corps commander as portrayed by the player.  Thus the 'clean' field of battle.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Enfilade 2013 Best of Show game

Mark Waddington who collaborates with Kevin and I in our War of 1812 fetish, also has other wargaming interests including putting on a spectacular 28mm Vietnam game which won 'Best of Show' in this year's convention.  Well done, Mark!

The Battle of Hanau - the actual game!

Finally, after the months of build up, with planning, rule play testing, and of course the painting etc., the game was presented at Enfilade 2013.

We took considerable time explaining the concept of the rules, the history of battle and the extremely poor but historically accurate deployment of the Austro-Bavarian army, and the objectives of each side and of course the rules themselves.
Seth and I are very pleased that the players gushed with praise for the game and seemed to be very pleased with the results.  That is pretty good for Napoleonics!

The game pretty well went to historical form - or would have had we not had to shut down.  The Allied center was very fragile (in spite of forgetting to downgrade half the troops as they were Bavarian Landwehr Kreis units!) and so kept retreating as not to be eliminated.  Unfortunately the player with Drouot, having the cream and very much the majority of the French force, was extremely cautious and would not be told to take advantage of the enemy weakness even after having given him a d6 roll of six more (!) movement as a bonus from Napoleon.  Had he been more aggressive, the game would have gone the path of historical battle and the French push through the Allies we speculated.

The initial deployment of the Allies per history. The River Kinzig was uncrossable except by the one bridge (upper right) which is almost in the French area!  Thus 1/3 of the army was cut off. The photo also shows the fortified town of Hanau which Seth built specially for this game. He did a wonderful job.  Built from paper houses and foam to be light weight.

The Allied center as seen from the French perspective. The near woods have the French forces yet to be disclosed.
The Austrians attacking over the bridge against poor French marshal McDonald. Lance, playing the Frenchman knew he was the anvil for the Austrian hammer.  I had made some blank element stands from those from which I had removed figures, so placed them on the table (lower left) to indicate possible French coming from that direction.  The historical Bavarian commander thought that likely in any event.  The Allied commander thought that too as he kept some of his force facing that direction as you can see.
The Allied left flank as seen from their side. This photo is from later in the game as removed elements produce gaps in formations

The French emerge from the forest

A good photo of McDonald's command.  Historically this was both McDonald's and Victor's Corps which were in name only.  They were extremely under strength and were composed of very weak and fatigued regiments most of which could only count 100 or less soldiers in the ranks!

In reserve....

Well sometimes you just have to.

The Battle of Hanau is an interesting Napoleonic engagement as it has a very powerful but small Imperial Guard contingent of artillery, horse and infantry, together with a small and weak support contingents emerging from a forest vs a twice as large but poorly deployment Austro-Bavarian force.
With a scenario like that many things can go wrong.  In our case, we made the Allied effectiveness too high despite having told ourselves to note to downgrade. And it is important to put the right personalities to the command to account for that.  This failed, due in part to the unfamiliar players.  The atrocious dice that a couple of them had to endure did not help.

To see if indeed the rules and the troop ratios we used will produce the same result as the historical battle, sometimes you just have to have a reserve plan.  Be it a change of a rule, a change of the scenario or just bringing on reserves which, in this case, were possible but did not arrive as early, sometimes a nudge is needed.
This was the Marmont 'Corps'. It was part of the straggling mass of the chaff which was the French army after Leipzig. While only 3 very weak elements, I brought it along just in case....

Amusing incident during the game.  An announcement was made that the painting competition was currently on and any entries should be made.  Shortly thereafter the first of the 'casualties' occurred from the French side, and it was suggested by some of the players that both be put in for judging.  While totally random that my units be so 'selected' for the contest, it occurred that both won their respective catagories!  No on-the-shelve-only models for me, these were straight off the battlefield!

Games played at Enfilade 2013

Despite the collapse of a bridge on the I-5 freeway which will be driven, to get to the convention, less than 12 hours before leaving[!!] and an car accident on the freeway on the way down which left only 2 of 5 lanes available at one point due to a unfortunate person laying deceased in the middle of the roadway [!!], the drive down was not overly delayed.

I played in three games: Kevin's Air Race game, David S's Ancient Galley game and, Seth's and my Napoleonic affair.  Had a great time with all three.
I almost won the air race game but lost by a hair - due in no small part by a very unsporting 'curse' card - which reduces speed - by a player near the rear of the pack.

 In the 'row boat' game, I had no archers or catapults and a fairly speedy boat so decided on the immediate ram tactic. I missed with the initial impact (hmm, can't remember why) but the target player gave me a quick second chance the next turn and so I took advantage and got in a very good ram.  The player then grappled my ship, overwhelmed my smaller contingent of marines, captured my galley and transferred his crew to my his new prize while his boat sank from the damage I inflicted!

The third game, the Napoleon battle of Hanau, I will describe in a following post.  I did get to move some troops as I brought in Marmont's weak command as a reserve later in the game, after playing umpire for the earlier portion.

Often I don't actually play any games, or perhaps one or two only as I like to wonder around to view all the games, chat with fellow wargamers or browse the trader stand so with three I felt very busy. The convention was a good one once again and I had a good time.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Nansouty's Cavalry at the Battle of Hanau

 Nansouty's Cavalry at the Battle of Hanau

Here we have the representation of the Guard cavalry at the Battle of Hanau.
The first rank (left to right) we have the Empress Dragoons and the Horse Grenadiers- both in campaign dress, in the 2nd rank the 'Red' Lancers and the Chasseurs-a-Cheval - again both in campaign dress, and in the 3rd rank the Garde-du-Honneur and the Guard Horse Artillery.
I went with the campaign dress as the original collection direction was toward the 1814 campaign - and the look of that campaign was "in the mud and cold".

Arborist I am not

Awhile back I described the plastic trees I bought. previous post
My refurbishing of my old forest of pine trees had me thinking I should publish this post I created some time ago but had yet to upload:

The pre-made deciduous trees are very expensive so I decided to save a bit and make my own.  Big mistake.  If, for every swear word I made while gluing on the clumps (very loose clumps!) of foliage material, I paid myself 10 cents, I could have bought many more of the pre-done ones!
I bought all types of glue, none of which, for me, worked to keep the darn stuff on the branches... glue all over the fingers but none sticking to the trees....  Man, was I one frustrated puppy.  Check of the wargame sites for fellowly help suggests I was not alone in this trouble.

Anyway, after many different techniques, I managed to get some to stay on the branches and hoped that it would not come off with the transport to the convention game.  I was pleasantly surprised that they were almost unscathed.

Here are my 'forests' made specifically for the scenario but could be used for the open woods of Europe or with added lichen and such could be used for the darkest forests of North America. 
The hardboard base no doubt helped the transport and handling and serves also to blend into the terrain mat I use. 

Nevertheless, my pine woods will make the trip to Enfilade this time.

Prepping for the con

I laid out the complete French army at the Battle of Hanau (1813) which will be played out at the 'Enfilade!' convention at Olympia, WA in a week's time.

Each element is approximately a thousand combatants with the artillery representing some 40 guns (!).  The battle was the Austo-Bavarian attempt to halt Napoleon from retiring to France after the decisive battle of Leipzig.

These elements of the French Old Guard artillery will hopefully be the 'plow' to move the white stuff away (the Austrian infantry!)

The battle is unique as it has the French emerging from a large forest through which it has moved to face the Allies in the fields beyond before the town of Hanau.  Drouot, the Guard commander expertly brought out the Guard artillery and blew apart the enemy formations before him, leading the French past the town and back to France.  Should be an interesting wargame.

For the forest through which the French emerge I volunteered my pine forest (the Black Forest is close by to Hanau, yes?) as it would travel much better than the deciduous trees which I fear would fall apart during transport. However I did not like what I had made. (um, some, heck 20 years ago?). So I went at 'improving' them.  Not quite the before and after picture as I had already painted the rocks as they were a bright light gray originally picked up from a walkway.  But the new matching flocking I feel quite nicely blends them to the ground cloth. (looks closer in the flesh than the photo probably as the glue has yet to dry and is still a darker wet!)

Newly refurbished woods stands to the left, old to the right. The fragile deciduous trees in the background.  These are nice but to weak to make the transport.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Milhaud's Horsemen

It started innocently enough.  I had just a few minutes so I did not want to start a bulk painting session (I hate stopping part way through something if I can help it...just me).  So I picked up the nearby French cuirassiers. (I just love the French cuirassier uniform!) to put on a few colors. Well, I just had to finish them....

 The horses I had done previously - I do a large lot of horses for various units all together for production efficiency, for which why I am considered a quick painter, I guess.  I know I have painted better in the past but age and lacking eyesight has taking a bit of a toll I think)

One of these units is the 11th Cuirassier.  It is famous for not having the cuirass as these were in short supply and so were without during the Waterloo campaign.

I modeled this unit from the trumpeter torso, scraping off the lace. I think these were from the Dragoon set but nevertheless the horse furniture was the same.  I stuck on cuirassier helmets and the 11th were born. Well, OK I was one helmet short so my favorite trick: the bandaged head...poor boy must have lost his helmet when getting his wound!

For my III Cavalry Corps (Kellerman's) for the campaign, the 11th are added to the Wagnerian darlings (also known as the 1st Carabineers) and a dragoon element.  I get to be selective in my OB ratios picking and choosing out of all the historic units within each large formation albeit trying to maintain correct proportions of each troop type.
Like something from a Wagnerian production, the 1st Carabineer is a quite the show. Surprising how with an altered helmet and only a different color scheme, it can made from the same miniature as the cuirassiers!

The other cuirassier unit done completes Milhaud's IV Cavalry Corps which led Ney's fruitless charges at Waterloo.
Milhaud's Cavalry Corps
 The last picture is the comparison of the look between the cuirassiers with the cuirass and that without the armor.
Commentary note from author:

Yeah, OK.  Perhaps nine chaps on horses hardly constitutes a cavalry corps but neither does only 360 if one is so inclined.  That is 12 regiments @ 30 a piece; which while looking very impressive on the table, that table would need to be mighty big, and the game take a long time to play - moving that many figures alone would be many minutes! AND STILL it is ONLY 360 to represent thousands of soldiers. In the same vein as 'Volley and Bayonet', 'Snappy Nappy', and other rules of the like, I am going for the Waterloo on a 8 x 5 foot table with room and time to spare.
Personally I feel the games still look good and are fun to play without too much 'Napoleonic Rules Burnout' common with many Nappy games.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fictional Battle of Unpont (continued!)

"THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER! YOU HEAR ME?! NOT OVER!" Napoleon rages to his aides.

(actually, I merely decided to play it completely out by myself to check out how the game progresses with fewer and fewer elements...
....The answer is attached HQ to single remaining element of their command,  lots of 'spinning' elements and outnumbering situations!)

Anyway, the battle continues as Napoleon thinks, yet again, he can pull off the victory from near defeat.

Gerard had moved up and with the benefit of solid maneuver rolls he countered the lone Garde-du-Honneur element and finally charged the Guard Foot Battery.

With the total elimination of Nansouty's command (he having received two slight wounds), Gerard still with numbers on the other flank; and Drouot's Guard infantry on the far side of the river holding the town having ultimately pushing McDonald's now very weak corps from the village but now too far away to help, Napoleon attaches himself to the nearest element of the Old Guard.

  He rallies them and has them form square lest they be attacked in the rear by the Carabiniers, Sebastiani's sole remaining cavalry.   However a short time later with yet more combat ineffective formations n his army and surrounded, he admits defeat and has his guardsmen ground their arms and halts further French bloodshed.

The final count was only 10 of the original 29 formations of both contingents remained organized on the battlefield with many of these very fatigued and on their last legs. 

The playtest was informative and I would like to thank Andrew for the go at it.

Fictional Battle of Unpont

For a playtest of the rules for the convention game of the Battle of Hanau, fellow gamer Andrew came over to have a go at the revised rules having played them at one of the club GameNights previously.
Again, as I do not have (many) other troops other than French, this was a "Napoleon vs the Royalists" affair.
In preparation, I made a decision game scenario generator but we both choose the 'up the road and right at 'em" approach
a closer look reveals Andrew's hand moving up the Royalists into contact with the Imperial Guard veterans
the photo below shows the Royalists advance with Gerard on the top, poor McDonald having to force the village and Sebastiani with the cavalry on the bottom of this photo:
Here, McDonald's Royalist concripts face the battle hardened veterans of the Guard. Note the 5 to 1 dice!
The next photo shows the important dice markers of these rules.  The green die is the random MO or maneuver dice (McDonald in this game seemed to have quite a few of these 1s!) The black die on the HQ stand indicates an addition to the MO die roll over 6. The red die is the combat roll.  As I like the tactical situation to dictate the combat rather than a lucky roll, these dice have 3 sides with a '0', 1 with a '1' , one with a '2' and only one with a '3'.  The player has a 50% chance of having no change in the tactical situation which is good and only a 16% chance of a lucky event.
Gerard sacrificed the 1st CaC element to allow the others to cross the river ( I admit it is hard to think of these stands not as regiments but as brigades or small divisions...).
You might note the "commander label" which can be changed according to the battle/scenario.  These are of thick, mat card of a complimentary green color as not to be too obtrusive but still seen by the player as it is very important to know which element is under his control!
The battle continues:
and the French cuirassier - the coolest uniforms of the wars!
Sebastiani manages to cross the river but is ultimately countered by the Guard cavalry:
The large wheel on the cube is our "limbered" marker.  Limbered and being charged. Hmm, no wonder it was eliminated!

Thus the game came to a conclusion with the Royalists under Sebastiani crossing the river but ultimately destroyed and McDonald's numerous conscripts being worn down by the relentless Gronards.  Only Gerard had some success at a cost, with the Guard foot artillery doing considerable damage.

A few more (as usual as no rule set can account for EVERY situation!) thoughts on changes which might be made but in general the rules are working but the test will be the convention in a mere ten days.....

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Brunswick Contingent and HA completed

Sometimes one can get ahead of one's own goals.  Actually in this hobby that is quite easily done unless you have an iron discipline, and, unless the multitude of comments from fellow wargamers are not understated,that discipline is VERY uncommon (and mostly unknown in me)
And so I got ahead of myself and did up Allied unit(s) before getting to the many Prussian units I have primered and wanting/needing to paint.

However, in my defense, the Brunswicker black uniform and falling horsehair plume is way too cool not to do immediately....

As you can see the Perry metal crew has lots of character and action moving the gun up for redeployment; very unique among the many sculpts of crew standing sedately with an upright rammer (not that there is anything wrong with that!)

And while the base does seem large, it covers the large 'footprint' of ground this battery would occupy with all the accompanying caissons, limbers, and the seven other guns of the battery. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Fictional Battle of Miani

In order to give some form to individual solo games I conduct from time to time and usually with my War of 1812 collection, I have created the fictional Maywood River campaign, in which a large British force will move along the river to ultimately rescue a trapped failed naval raid along the American coastline.

This post describes the action on the Battle of Miani, 1843, Sind (NW India) in the old magazine WI #55 (1992!) by Colin Ashton which I happened to read while doing my morning constiblution....

My 89th Regiment of Foot (Old Glory British) in the main action against the mass of American militia waiting in ambush along an old watercourse.
The American militia await in the muddy gully
The action:
The British General Napier sought to move slightly inland.  To his right was a heavily wooded area with a very high fence with only one gate.  The fence was not loopholed and he sent a company of grenadiers to guard this gate "to the last man". the few militia in this area did not make much of a fight.  With his right secure, Napier had the artillery move up to silence the American militia artillery.  he seemed to be worried about the village to this immediate left front  seeing riflemen occupying the wood structures and moved in echelon with his left refused.

As the 89th Foot on the right advanced, heads were seen just above the level of the grassy field.  Unknown to the British, they were advancing not upon a bend of the Maywood waterway, but upon it's old watercourse, the river having changed its track since the maps used by Napier were made back in 1776!  The militia commander, thinking this a good defensive line, ordered his men to occupy the old river bed.  

Recent heavy rains had made the old clay very muddy and difficult to climb for the American militiamen in order fire over the crest.  Seeing very little fire from the front, Napier quickly recovered from his shock and ordered his troops forward.  With few casualties, the British reached the old waterway and poured a volley into the milling mass of militia in the bottom of the gully, then withdrew to reload then advanced again the few yards to deliver another volley.

Huntingshirt clad militia starting to panic from the advancing British [Knuckleduster 28mm]
 Meanwhile the Americans unable to climb the high bank due to the slippery mud and huddled in a mass, broke and managed to climb the somewhat drier (sun ward?) side of the gully and run from the slaughter.

Considering Napier had moved into a trap, the British came off very lightly while the American casualties were higher. 

(the actual battle went much the same way but substituting the muddy watercourse for a bone-dry river bed)