Saturday, June 24, 2017

Field Of Battle - Battle of Kolin

After a couple of weeks of endless long days at work I managed to arrange a multi-player game using Field Of Battle at my gaff today.

Decided to do a SYW bash and with its anniversary having been on the 18th of June Kolin seemed the perfect scenario to try with 3 Austrian and 2 Prussian players with myself as Umpire.

Stephen B, Stephen P, John, Richard and Darren arrived and I randomly (via cards) allocated commands with Stephen B and Darren as Prussians and the others as Austrians.
I made units roughly as Regiments (ie 2-3 Battalions) which still yielded over 60 units in total for the scenario.
I boosted both sides Morale total by +10 to ensure game lasted.

Units were laid out on reasonably historical positions with some leeway granted to re-position Reserves.

A very successful game ensued which went right down to the wire with Prussians hitting zero Morale first but surviving first Army Morale Test.
They then got a run of initiative and managed to force the Austrians to zero morale as well and then 'stole' some 13 Morale Chips from them through losses.
This broke the Austrian resolve and they quit the field before any Army Morale tests.

FOB generated its usual exciting ebb and flow to the game with Austrians coming of their ridge line defence to pressure the Prussian left wing (lead by Richard to gasps of shock from all !!) whilst the Prussians forged ahead in the center and with their right wing.
The Austrians caused multiple casualties on the Prussians but with better Officers Frederick's lot were able to recover Hits and Routed units impressively.
A multi unit volley by the Prussians on the right saw some 4 Austrian foot units Rout in one turn (they managed to recover all but one but could not Rally off the hits).
The game saw Cavalry clashes on both flanks with mixed fortunes but again the Prussians seemed able to Rally much quicker and effectively.
At one point the Prussian right wing seemed to be folding only to Rally and force back the battered Austrian mounted wing.
Both sides suffered heavy losses and as previously mentioned the Prussians lost all Morale first but weathered the storm despite Freddy (ie Stephen B) being almost ready to concede at that point and managing to snatch a Minor victory from the jaws of defeat.

No other rules sets I have tried suit larger scale battles with such elegance and playability as FOB whilst generating such a exciting narrative to the game.

The scenario set up with card place holders for Austrian troops

Austrian deployment

Prussian center advances

Austrians push forward

Prussian push on in the center and right 

The Austrian High Command (LtoR Richard - Daun/Nadasty Stephen P - Colloedo and John - Marschall)

Cavalry melee on Prussian left

Prussian High Command - foreground Stephen B - Frederick with Darren - Bevern (sort of)

The battle lines clash around Pierovsky Hill

And so to at the edge of Krechor ridge

Chosenitz village changes hands as Prussian Grenadiers chase off Grenzers

Continuing pressure on Austrian left

Austrian right has pushed back Prussians albeit temporarily

Prussians have rallied and return to fray

Austrians in trouble around Pierovsky hill

Prussian left wing begins to push forward against weakened opposition

(Earlier in battle) The initial Austrian Cavalry charge on their right

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

General D'Armee - scenario from rules played (and more views on rules)

Played the scenario in rule book today at Stephens.
This is set in 1813 based around MacDonalds attack at Bautzen.
I took the French and Stephen the Russians.
We approximated terrain as best we could.

A fun game and this time round we found Artillery was not dominant (mainly down to poor rolls).
Stephen did make a minor mistake at set up by intermixing his Artillery Brigade with Infantry units but we were able to fix that early so no real impact on play.
French actually managed to form a reasonable attack, well except for my Brigade of 3 Dragoon units which were Hesitant for 4 turns (thankfully opposing Russian mounted force was similarly impotent !)
I managed to mangle (ie Disperse) the Russian right wing with my Italian Recruits besting the Russian Recruits opposing them, the loss of associated ADC is fairly critical .
I also took one village but failed in initial attempt to take central village objective.
Eventually both mounted Brigades heaved forth and into each other with a French Dragoon (Campaign Cavalry) Retreating whilst Russian Hussars (Battle Cavalry) Retired to Own Lines (this caused a long discussion on the fate of Retreating and Retiring outcomes and table edges (see below)
As we called time I was about to turn the Russian right and hopefully take the Redoubt objective so called this a minor win (at least I have !) for once.

Observations from game this time were that once more we loved the Command/ADC system (initially 6 French vs 5 Russian) and Skirmish Screens and found Charging, Shooting and Combat systems slick again.

We did come across a couple of new issues:
1. Being uphill confers no benefit to defenders (only Steep Slopes) or detriment to attackers which sort of makes retention of high ground superfluous ?

2. BUAs are fairly weak defensively and very much a dice-fest once melee occurs (automatic after defensive fire as no charge procedure).
We had no problem with this just a bit different to other sets we have played.
Similarly a Redoubt occupied by an Infantry Column would seem to have its benefits cancelled by the column effects (at least at close range or to Artillery at Effective Range)

3. As mentioned above we found that if defender sets up too close to table edge (sort of the default in this scenario) they run a major risk of Retreating/Retiring off-table and counting Dispersed.
We thought this was fine for Routing units but seemed harsh for Retiring or Retreating units that we thought should maybe stop at edge and get at least a chance to Obey Orders and Reform.

4. Some definitions in the rules could be tighter for instance we found that what constitutes a unit counting as Flanked is not fully defined (indeed only an illustrated example seems to indicate intent) in that enemy needs to face the flank not just be present it seems.

All in all an interesting encounter and we find a lot to like in the rules.
Do they produce a 'better' game than Over The Hills/Field Of Battle/Blackpowder etc I guess the answer (at least thus far) is no just a different game arriving at similar results via another route.

French left wing Brigades (Russian Artillery Redoubt visible at 1 o'clock)

FrenchArtillery Brigade in center (it was pants all day long !)

French center and right Infantry Brigades

Russian left wing on slopes and precariously close to rear table edge !

Russian center and village objective (note the guns here were placed in error and moved)

The Redoubt (moved Battery ended up to immediate right as viewed)

French advance on left wing

Russian Artillery battery re-deployed

Failed French assault on Village objective (the Russian Skirmishers were a real pain)

Infantry Assault orders on village and slopes

Russian extreme right wing Brigade dispersed (yee hah !!)

Units to left of Redoubt (as viewed) were also forced to Retire exposing its flank

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Yet more horror......

Sadly again mindless cretins perpetrate another act of unfathomable horror.
My respect to the bulk of my colleagues in blue in mainland UK who have to initially face or respond to these incidents without a firearm.
Thankfully armed response was swift and effective.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

General D'Armee - French versus Russians (heavy on the pics and verbiage)

Game today of General D'Armee against Stephen so a proper trial of the rules.

I used the terrain generation tables from General De Brigade to set up the table.

We used points system (2200 each) and I selected a Young Guard force using Grenadier trait which means they are treated as Line but test Discipline (Morale) as Veterans.
I had 10 such Infantry with a Battery of medium (6-9pdrs) Foot Guns in 3 Brigades but with back up of a Guard Cavalry Brigade of Battle types - Elite Polish Lancers, Veteran Dutch Lancers and Line Garde D'Honneur with a Horse Battery.

Russians had a mix of Line (some with Grenadier trait) and Veterans totaling 14 Infantry with a Cavalry Brigade of 2 Dragoon (1 Veteran) and 1 Hussar divided into 5 Brigades .
But crucially they had a 6th Brigade of Artillery comprising 2 Large Batteries one of which was heavy (12 pdrs).
Stephen actually had 3 Batteries but we both decided this was probably too much for game so he swooped one out for an Infantry Battalion.

However having 6 Brigades versus 4 proved to be a huge advantage in that this generates 6 vs 4 ADCs which in game terms this yields a so much more efficient Command and Control ability.
This was meant he averaged 3 ADCs per turn (often 4 or 5) whilst French struggled with 2 (with only 3 twice and 4 once due to double 6).

This allowed his Artillery in a Brigade to operate very efficiently as 2 ADCs allocated to Artillery Assault (usually with a 3rd ADC for Brigade re-roll purposes) meant both Batteries could assault fire for the one order.

We both deployed fairly conventionally but both had our Cavalry Brigades as on-table Reserves (of which more later).
As battle opened the Russian guns were able to inflict damage even at long range on my central Infantry Brigade and I therefore used a Forwards Order (adds 4 x D6 cms to move) to get forward as fast as possible.
However this then placed a Battalion in Cannister range of both Batteries and being on Assault Fire plus gaining an extra Casualty Dice for being Large Batteries at short range they had potential to devastate my unit (you know whats coming don't you ?).
So of course Stephen being a well known (at least in these parts) dicing Demon (not sure what deal he struck but it works !?) he rolled 2 hits from Casualty Dice with both Batteries and then rolled double 6 twice (!!!!!!) giving me another 10 hits (!!!) and giving him 2 rolls on the Destiny Table which saw my Brigadier die and Brigade Falter (which it would have done anyhow as unit Dispersed as now on 13 hits).
This hapless Brigade then managed to fail 6 Command Rolls (despite my allocating a Brigade Order ADC for 3 turns) and 2 Infantry units left the battlefield taking my Foot Battery with them.
I did manage to Rally the one remaining unit on table edge but this Brigade was therefore Demoralised from then on !
This left a gaping whole in the middle of my Lines.

We both activated our Reserve Cavalry with Russians coming from behind their guns towards the gaping hole.
I had planned to send my to turns Russian right but discovered that the field on the right counts as Rough in the rules and therefore Cavalry cannot enter so I had to re-direct them to the center.
This lead to a Cavalry encounter which at first went against me as I threw in my Polish Lancers against his Veteran Dragoons.
Lancers are pretty good gaining an extra dice vs other mounted (2 vs foot) in melee.
Of course I failed to get into melee as his nibs threw another 12 in Charge phase forcing my Lancers to Retire Unformed.
I then charged with the Gde D'Honneur as Dutch Lancers were re forming having been passed through by Polish colleagues (in rules Close Order units interpenetrating Unforms both parties) and these too were replused.
I then hurled in the Dutch and glory was theirs as they managed to take no casualties from his supporting guns in Charge and got into Melee against Unformed Dragoons causing them to Rout.................Huzzah !!

But all this activity was taking all my ADCs each turn leaving two other Infantry Brigades on my left and right to suffer several Hesitant outcomes and watch as the ADC rich Russians advanced under Infantry Assault Orders (this allows multiple Inf units to engage in Charging process as otherwise its only 1 per Brigade).
Russians pushed a unit out of an Orchard on my left and then a unit on my extreme right although I did have my Horse Battery to meet their conquerors.
When a second Brigade Faltered I call a halt and surrendered the field.

I should mention that throughout all this our Brigade Skirmish units put in a manly days work and we both really like how this all plays out in the rules.

All in all a good run through of the rules in which we encountered no major problems we could not answer from the text satisfactorily.
However as stated above we both felt that 6 ADCs vs 4 was a definite advantage and somewhat unbalanced the game and we have agreed that in future we will field 5 Brigades maximum on our size tables (6' x 4') at this points level and also that we would disallow Artillery Brigades as they seemed more like Grand Batteries which we also felt was out of kilter with Divisional Scale of the game.

We certainly enjoyed the rules especially the ADC system and the slick Charge, Firing and Melee systems (ie just about everything !)

Compared to Over The Hills they are not as tactically nuanced or 'flavour-some' in some regards being closer to Field Of Battle in ease of play and inherent inertia factors but certainly my own opinion is that I would would happily play a game of any of these three sets (plus Shako and Black Powder) for this lower level scale of Napoleonics.
All give plausible and indeed similar outcomes (despite arriving there differently) to battles and actions therein but with each having its own strengths and weaknesses.
You pays your money and takes your choice.

French deployment

Russians opposite

Doomed French center

The game is afoot

Hesitant Brigade on left (just for a change)

Those damn Russian guns

Advance on right

Guard Cavalry in Reserve

Russian pressure on my left

And my right

I had a Brigade here once............................

Remnants cower at rear

Real pressure on my left

And right............................

Guard Cavalry shifts to center

And engage Russian Mounted

Right flank about to fold

Orchard position lost