Thursday, 24 October 2013

Elba plus 1 year - fictional battle

David, who played in the Battle of Montereau summer game came by for an all day affair and wanting to get a big playtest I came up with a rather expedient scenario in order to put all I had on the table while not having enough Allies to do a big battle .

Thus:  We all know that Napoleon arrives back in France about a year after his exile.  Roi Louis the Fat buggers off again and Napoleon "picks up the crown from the gutter" Waterloo et al. However it has been suggested that if he had waited but another year or less perhaps, the Congress of Vienna may have broken down into war and the Royalists even more despised by the French people.
So thus we would have the French army more entrenched now with the royalists so half remained loyal with the king and half ( half my elements uniformed with overcoats matching the Imperial Guardsmen) supported Naps. For game purposes all the royalist artillery were Prussian as was one large corps of infantry and all the cavalry in green uniforms.  All else was on the Napoleonic side.  We kept it straight anyways.

David's Royalists/Allies to the right with a dedication to the right flank awaiting Napoleon's arrival with the Guard.  Which doesn't.
The scenario based very, very roughly on the historic battle of Bautzen had David defending with 38 elements vs my attack of only 31 across a disrupting river. Napoleon with the Imperial Guard of 8 elite infantry elements with artillery and horse support was to take him on his right flank.  He was warned of this and two redoubts were available to him should he want to use.  He did and kept his Prussian corps intact for the most part awaiting the Guard onslaught. Unfortunately with 2d6 I secretly, and uncharacteristically, rolled a high 10 which as we went 9.5 turns (10 hours of game time, 6 hours of real time including discussion and breaks) meant Napoleon was late!
The French "Grand Battery" struggled all day to move and find space to deploy
early-day action
Action in the middle.  The heavy cavalry clash near the bridge.

By that time my attacks had petered out and half my elements eliminated.... Obviously should this have be a campaign game, I would have ceased my attacks well before but as this was a playtest...
What the heck? Prussians in white?! Yes, my newly painted 29th Regiment apparently wore their old white tunics with Prussian equipment.  I put the officer and a ranker in the rear in the usual Prussian dark blue coat as they transitioned to the Prussian uniform proper
The French National Guard in rather various attire.

The rules went well, Version 1.7 now I think, but the "feel" is still there and right I believe. With more and experienced players the game would have moved much more quickly.

The heavy cavalry clash

Saturday, 19 October 2013

2nd Battle of Limonest

First off, major disappointment.  With lots of planning and arrangement and purchasing of the flight, this weekend was to be my trip up to see Mike B. and do an all-weekend game fest.  However, fog.  Lots of fog.  All up and down the coast for 500 miles and not burning off.  Well, perhaps just for an hour late in the day, before the sun goes down and it rolls in even heavier.  Many cancelled flights especially the smaller carriers to the smaller towns including mine. Damn. Damn, Damn.

With the weekend open, I decided to do another go at play-testing the rules and set up this historical battle again. Good to compare the command rolls verses the first go-around.
The main Allied thrust represented by my Prussian elements moving against the French on the hill.
Because of the complete randomness of the rolls, even small commands of 3 or 4 elements cannot often benefit from the comparatively potential of pip happy times.  Well, not with the numerous 1's and 2's I roll certainly. This was made very evident in an interesting conclusion of the battle as, with the French retreat in full bloom, the right flank Allied commander obviously frustrated with no more opposition to his front yet rolling poor movement pips each turn, drove only an element of dragoons forward in an effort to close off the bridge to the retreating French.  On the way his sliced up ol' Grouchy with a couple saber cuts (lone HQ overrun on a "Danger to General" roll. Adds drama and if the General is killed, the HQ is eliminated and all elements now double price to move)
my Grouchy HQ element

Anyway, this silly dragoon brigade is now out of command distance, the player (me) not moving the HQ to keep pace. Well, now I again roll a '1' which does not allow the dragoon element to about-face to meet the oncoming French; who besides, laid up a cannon to blast its way past!  A lesson to all the players to keep all under command distance.
One command [lower portion of the photo] but with the lone dragoon element [cavalry in green] near the bridge but out of command distance ...
...and now unable to be ordered to turn around to face the retreating French elements [infantry with the tricolor flags] and now facing deployed artillery [left] by a commander WITH enough command to do so!

Also had other situations which hopefully simple conclusions with the rules will result. 

With only 7 turns done, which at half-an-hour assigned per turn, it is roughly the same time frame as the real battle and this was done in a fairly small area of 3 feet by 4.5 feet.   Lots of elements eliminated or done to 1 MP only so conclusions to any battle will certainly be easy to reach. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Battle of Limonest 1814 /playtest

The Battle of Limonest was fought on March 20, 1814 near the important city of Lyon during the Campaign for France.  While Napoleon fought the main armies of the Allies, relatively unrecorded battles were fought in other parts of France. Augereau was tasked to occupy the other forces of Austrians and protect the city of Lyon.  Heavily outnumbered he deployed available forces north of the city at Limonest and Dardilly.  With 18,000 he faced some 48,000 (some sources suggest over 62,000!) Austrians and Hessians. 

While the sources of the battle (many from poor French translations) are confusing, I decided on 10 elements of French to 23 elements of Allies and deployed as accurately as I could determine.
Rather plain terrain set up but Napoleon or any army's high command certainly did not worry about hedges and so with the focus of the rules, only terrain which would affect these larger formations are represented. Would 'doll it up' for a convention setting.
The French deployment facing the more numerous Allies. Towns of Limonest (right), and Dardilly (left) and the heights of Champ-Vert form the line of the French defence. The very edge of Mont d'Or mountain can be seen on the right. 

With that as the framework for the scenario, I did "play around" with the rules to test certain aspects.  The rules themselves worked well.  Used the 'new' rule that after a round of combat the defeated element has to retreat at least 2 inches.  If unable, it must find to next nearest spot to place itself.  This simple expediency did keep the results easy and certainly promotes the use of reserves.  To counterattack the player must find the pips to do so. 

Because I was soloing this, I only accorded one d6 per army. While certainly a test-it-beyond-the-stress-load-until-it-breaks kind of expediency,  obviously it hampers the Austrians more than the French with their more numerous elements.  That, and the die themselves which seem to roll always very low for the poor Austrians in a historical effort to mimic their command sluggishness?  While interesting as a military simulation, I think as a game ploy, each player must have a d6 to do any good on the table.

And yet, in another effort to "simulate" the seemingly poor Austrian combat efforts, and even though I think this is certainly overplayed in the histories, I used similar modified combat dice as the red ones, but these white ones have one more 0 and no +3.  Verses the reds they come out very poorly percentage wise.  Funnily enough, during the playtest, this was not evident as the Austrian rolls beat the French many times and at two different combats, it took three rolls to resolve the close combat - completely destroying these fresh units.  Things legends are made of!
The noted red and white combat dice

Of the game, the thin French line was forced at several points which got the French command nervous about flanks and so forced retreat with one command trying to retreat in whole (but the movement pips in short supply) exposing the next command.  Basically as it happened in the historical engagement. Grand tactically, a brigade (element) of Allies were sent around the Mont d'Or on the French right to outflank their line.  While pip-starved, I did not move this element, it was a constant reminder to the French of their precarious position.

The column on the right is entering unopposed into the town of Dardilly, which will compromise the French flank on the hill forcing their retreat.
A few painted elements of Prussians posing as Austrians.
The rather chaotic end of the day.  I did not employ command radius which would go a long way to prevent this spreading of forces. 
Rather fun game for a couple of free hours on a nice holiday afternoon.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Marshal Grouchy and the boys

Finished the rest of the High French Command.   All are from the Perrys.

I did not concern myself with keeping the horses with a particular rider so these may be different from the Perry website.  The HQ stands are meant to be interchangable for any scenario or battle with a commander's name placed on the space to the rear of each stand.  One might note however that their "Jerome Napoleon" certainly bears a resemblence to his brother.
Here are a few other samples
I did do more of a job on poor ol' Marshal Grouchy. (for his modeling see: previous post )
  History tells us that he was eating strawberries, slowly following the Prussians rather than marching toward the aid of Napoleon.
One can hear General Gerard plead with his superior.  "Sir, march to the sound of the guns!"
"No, Gerard." says Grouchy, "The Emperor has given me his orders"
"Well then let me go!"
"And split my forces?! France will never forgive me." And more to himself...."and France may be right"
Marshal Grouchy ( pronounced grew-she ) having a woven basket covered by a patterned towel with a small white napkin draped over his right sleeve.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

More French in overcoats

I have found it interesting that only the French are often portrayed in the ubiquitous overcoat than all the other nations of the Napoleonic era in the usual course.  Certainly the Perrys in all their plastic boxes, and indeed all the other metal manufacturers, only the French are wearing their overcoats.  Almost half the Perry plastic figures and so I have a bunch of them. Rather than mix, I have whole units wearing them.
I finally finished the last of my French for the 100 Days Campaign/1814 France Campaign fought in the early months of that year.
I went with a subtle mix of overcoat shades. These are contrasted with the bright battalion company pompom colors.  Still have to have SOME colour for Napoleonics!
Plastics offer the advantage that you can add or subtract from the model. Note the absence of the backpack on one of the figures and the pack on the adjacent figure which is glued askew to give an nice variation to the look of the unit.  

Continuing with the theme, some 'green stuff' bags were added to some of the figures (third from left)

The following element is specifically for the 1814 French campaign as Napoleon, desperate for more manpower sought to use the National Guard, and this element I created to portray these soldiers.
This "French National Guard" unit was made up of an Essex metal officer with a new Perry head, 2 Warlord Landwehr with British AWI caps(!), 2 Prussian jagers converted with green stuff to wear peasant blouses or overshirts (left front and middle rear) with French headdress. And finally, Perry overcoat figures with various headress including Victrix earlier bicornes.  All in all quite the mix and seemingly appropriate to the poorly supplied troops of the campaign.
A 'rear view' of the unit showing some of the conversion work as described above.