Tuesday, 27 May 2014

the 3rd Battles - at Enfilade

Made the big effort at this year's Enfilade wargame convention held by NHMGS in Olympia, WA, USA, along with the many Canadians who attend, and co-hosted two large Napoleonic games using a ruleset in development by Seth and myself.  In short, their concept is for the convention game: keep it simple, effective, easy to use, and which gives a historic result. All this with 28mm figures on a small 8 by 5 foot table for 6 to 12 players.  And make it enjoyable.
It is a corps level game.  We don't care what the regimental captain does.  One cannot command skirmishers and be Napoleon.  We don't even want to try.

It is thus, that we tried the 3rd Battle of Ligny.  The first two games resulted in roughly historic results (see previous posts 1st Battle2nd Battle )  Now let us throw in all the  "what if" options ! The theme for the convention was "obscure" battles.  We all know of Waterloo, of this engagement, not so much......

View of the early deployments
Another view of the early deployments
the initial fighting for Ligny
French guns deployed between Ligny village and St. Armand. As historically done, these will cause havoc with the Prussian reserves.
a view of the Prussian left flank.  While good defensively against the French cavalry unable to assault the villages and unable to cross the stream, they would be foolish to attack the French horse of Grouchy's command placed alone on this wing.
Perponcher's Dutch-Belgian Division

Perponcher's Dutch-Belgian Division sent by Wellington to help the Prussians.  This is one of those "what-if" scenarios which I decided to add to this play of this historical battle.  As I played it historically accurately in the previous two attempts, both of which resulted in the mimic to the actual action,  this time I added all the possible contingents which 'could have' arrived to influence the outcome.   Thus Bulow 's corps did arrive, as did the French corps early under Lobau.   Perponcher was sent by Wellington as we must assume the Quatre Bras crossroad was not attacked early by Ney's French and thus this contingent could be provided.  Probably historically accurate as Wellington would be unlikely to send any native British units away from his command and would have likely sacrificed these 'foreign' troops saying they were still part of his army and thus in the agreement to assist Blucher if he was not attacked.

In our re-creation, they came at Marbais at the right corner of the Prussian deployment area and were moving down along the French bank of the stream.  They would have run into D'Erlons's corps at some point.

Close-up of the Belgian Line troops part of Perponcher's command.  I created these from Perry British torsos, Victrix British shakos (needed for without covers), French packs and their arms (for the cuff flaps! )

There is not much to tell of the game itself as the players were running it themselves by the fourth turn and so with time to chat about particulars of the rules which came up from time to time, I kinda lost track of the play in between.

Nevertheless the result had the French lose on points with the Prussians still holding three of the 'key positions'  despite losing large numbers.  However in the 'post mortem of the game' all ten players were still around the table with smiles on and happy with the game.  Fairly rare for most Napoleonic games I have known!

The 3rd Battle of LaRotherie
held the next evening

To allow a comparison for results between the various developments of the rules, we have chosen to use the same historical scenario.  LaRotherie was the second major battle of the Campaign for France in 1814 and our third time running this game.

While we tried to be relatively accurate in the design, we must admit that Seth and I have not ..yet?... painted any Russians which under Blucher's aggressive leadership were foremost in the attack.  So we substituted part of Seth's growing Austrian for them as well as he supplied the Austrians, Wurttemburgers and Bavarians who rounded out the Allies contingents.

For my part, supplying the French side, I spent some time in the hotel room, re-labeling some of those French elements which fought on Friday to indicate the new commands.  If viewing the photos of our games, you might note that we leave a space at the rear of our stands to allow an attachment by temporary gummy tack a green piece of card with the historical General's name in order that the players can identify their command.  Not too glaring when viewed by the casual observer.
Early deployments of the Austrians (left) and French (right)
Looking from the Allies right wing of Bavarians and the weak French forces under Marmont which have fallen back to before the woods.  The mass of Ney's  Young Guard can be seen on the far side of the woods.
The following three photos shows close-ups of Seth's 'white tide' of Austrians.  The same basing technique unifies the look of the figures on the tabletop regardless of designer or painter.
The "wurst" of ideas?  A silly pun on the Austrian horse gun, well done by Seth and seen in 'yellow' on the right of the photo
The main thrust of the Allies against the town of LaR represented by my paper model
One might note the severe losses sustained by the Austrians in their main attack with most of the brigade elements down to 1 MP (the small black dice on each stand).  Because of the nature of this battle and the amount of guns, artillery fire was particularly over effective and something Seth and I are already working on for the future edition.
The range of the artillery as indicated by the range stick might be the most obvious change as these sticks were designed for earlier and very different approaches to the guns use.  Two steps forward, one step back seems to be the style of our rules development but we are enjoying this intellectual journey !
French Guard Horse on the loose in the Allies center attacking at will. 
The results had the French continue to hold the defensive line of villages for the victory.  The damage taken from artillery was too?? extensive which really hurt the Allies assault and which we will address.  Nevertheless for a late Saturday night with everyone fatigued and Seth and I somewhat out of voice, it when reasonably well.  
Of course talk of Leipzig (only the largest battle of the entire Napoleonic era !!) keeps popping up..... we very silly boys.....

While involved in our game, one of the players noted that the convention organizers may have deliberately placed all the horse and musket era games in our corner as around use were three other games of the type.  This Napoleonic  ( Black Powder rules? ) game had special made terrain.  Certainly a different look than ours but showcases the variety of approaches to the era.
Close up of my late war French Hussars (Perry plastics) and representing a light horse brigade

Monday, 26 May 2014

Back from Enfilade

Still trying to recover once again from attending this great Washington State convention.

Quote of the Weekend:
from around the Napoleonics table

"A couple of years ago we had to play Austerlitz using figures with shakos.  I really don't know how we got through it"

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Musee de l"Armee, Paris

Not to shorten the brief time my wife and I would have to explore London and Paris and not to bore the wife with endless staring at old clothing and armor, I dedicated only one military museum per city.  For Paris it had to be the Musee de l'Armee (the Army Museum) located in the Hotel des Invalides situated conveniently near-ish the numerous other tourist locales.

the Invalides

The entrance.  One of the beautiful buildings of Paris.  I am certainly old school and do not think the steel and glass structures of today compare.

the courtyard

Displays of full size mounted cavalry.  Note the length of the room!

One of the countless collection of interesting militaria.  These are Napoleonic shako badges

An actual British Napoleonic era "stovepipe" shako.  This particular piece of headgear seems to be most poorly represented by many figure designers. Now we have a better idea with an original.

I had to add this photo, as looking at these bearskin metal front plates, the wife asked "What's with the 'tiaras'?  With a smile, she quickly added, "Yeah, yeah, I know, bearskin plates" (the French only descriptions would not help her cheat in this regard!)  Then almost to herself, "How the 'bleep' do I know that?"  giving me a scornful look.

While we lingered at the early periods and the Napoleonic eras, the museum has extensive other sections.  While the layout of the museum is not particularly easy to discover and the museum signage is not well conceived (except to mark the way out!) other rooms had other nations and eras. 
Russian dress uniforms c.1900

British c.mid 19th Century

I am studying the extensive Medieval and Renaissance armor collections. In another hallway there is a window through which you can view masses of miscellaneous armor parts piled apparently haphazardly upon wooden shelves.  It would make any 14th century duke shake in envy!

The World Wars were particularly well displayed which we toured through and of more interest with the wife as it seems more 'current' than the "old shit" I like.  Both of us would have liked to spend more time but having closing near and having spent six hours already (!) we were near the last to leave.  I missed the gift shop as it closed early but it did not seem all that impressive; the usual poor souvenir items, behind the glass.
Nevertheless, a remarkable collection for the military buff;  now off the wargamer in me 'bucket list'.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Horse Guards Museum, London

 Horse Guards Museum, London
A small but interesting museum of the history and current activities of the Household Regiments. 
Guard on duty. 

The museum had an example of the heavy boots which one could touch (and indeed wear!).  They have much the same suppleness as very tall stiff ski boots! We saw him walk with these and indeed, if one has ever walked to the chalet in tight ski boots, you get the idea.  Together with cuirass armour  ( which one could also handle.  Heavy indeed! ) and helmet, standing at attention with sword in hand, is an ordeal.

museum entrance

The current parade dress of the Life Guards and Household (Blues) Regiments. 
My wife standing in the Parade Grounds.  In the very heart of the city,  this courtyard is expensive real estate.

Along with the Guard infantry, they make it known that they are still a modern fighting force and active in current actions along with the pomp, large horses and shiny helmets.  In this, they are unique.

Monday, 19 May 2014

back from London and Paris

This member of the 7th Polish Lancer Regiment was briefly distracted.
"Oui, suffering from jet lag but all is well from your trip. Tres Bien. Yes, I will tell your t'ree readers you will post shortly."