Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pferdweissgasthaus, the first encounter

I've recently acquired some new SYW rules, called BAR (Battalions d'ancient regime, or as I prefer, Big-assed Regiments), which uses fairly simple Grant-esque rules, and substantial formations (ideally up to 60 figures a regiment). This is a series of gradually-escalating solo games I've been fighting to evaluate and learn them.

Young Kurt von Bulow cursed, and pulled his boots on again, over his sore feet. March all day, then the verdammt Major General wants to send a brigade off to seize some gotverliess hovel of an inn, just because it holds a case of Mouton Rothschild '24, supposedly: and of course the Margrave is already in his cups, and unrousable, so it's up to the Brigade Major to take charge, again. He stamped his foot in irritation, then moaned at the pain.

Nevertheless, he got the brigade swinging down the road towards Pferdweissgasthaus, ready to seize the Gasthaus as instructed, and alert to probing French patrols in the same direction. As the leading regiment, the Oldenburgs, approached, they could see in the distance a similar cloud of dust. Peering through his eyeglass, Kurt could make out the billowing ensign of the Normandie Regiment, in column of march, with the dust promising further arrivals.

Hustling the Oldenburgs into line rapidly, he sent his aid galloping back along the column, sending the Ostergotland Regiment swinging wide, while the Erprinz made for the gap between the two.

The French Brigadier, Guitar, meanwhile had tugged and pushed the Normandie Regiment into line, and brought the Bourgogne Regiment up beside them. Lacking room to deploy further right, due to the inn and its' outbuildings, the French converged grenadiers (the Alacarte battalion) headed left, towards the Ostergotland Regiment

This left the Ostergotland regiment at somewhat of an advantage, as the french Grenadiers, deploying to line from the right (as all infantry do), were markedly slower forming into line (seen here, with the head of column ready, and the other companies about to extend the line leftward).

Both sides elected to press forward, the French hoping to delay the Prussian advance, the Prussians eager to catch the French grenadiers still in column - in which pursuit they were partially successful, catching them halfway formed to line (the head of the grenadier battalion just visible here).

However, the overeagerness (or something) allowed the French infantry to fire first, all down the line, producing fairly shattering results on the Oldenburgs, and severely marking the Erprinz Regiment: their return fire, both having lost a third of their strength, were somewhat less devastating, although fortunately poor dice throws were matched by poor saving throws by the French.

However, the Alacarte Grenadiers got caught by the steadily advancing Ostergotland regiment, and lost almost half their number at the first blast of musketry, leaving their own reply truly derisory.

Guitar, now anxious for his left, decided to lead the Bourgogne regiment in a charge against the Oldenburgs, and pressed home through fierce musketry, putting the Prussians to flight (upper right, with the Oldenburgs hovering around the edge of the board at this point).

Kurt, cursing volubly, led the Erprinz regiment forward, their superior training and morale coming to play, and they outshot the Normandie regiment, helped by a truly daunting blast of canister from the battalion artillery (the french failed all 6 saving throws), while the Ostergotlanders pressed forward to take the most advantage of the disordered Grenadiers, whittling their numbers down further - the Grenadiers return fire was scattered, although their spirit remained intact, as their cheers showed.

Guitar, after taking some time rallying the Bourgogne regiment, then debated briefly whether to try and swing to take the Erprinz regiment in flank, but noticed that the Oldenburg regiment, having decamped to a safe distance, were now rallying, so he elected instead to press forward and scourge them before they recovered good order: and so it proved, another blast of musketry decisively outshooting his opponent and routing them again, this time for good.

However, that drew him well away from the rest of his brigade, for better or worse - the Normandie regiment, woefully depleted, decided that without leadership, it was time to seek reinforcements and fled pell mell: they attempted a brief rally, but a further volley from the Erprinz saw them take to their hells.

Meanwhile the Grenadiers earned unbounded Prussian admiration, by remaining, fighting to the last man, attempting to cover the rout (note: 1 company of 6 left, with 4 casualty markers on them).

Both Prussian regiments then turned to deal with Guitar and his heavily damaged Bourgogne regiment, but the latter decided enough was enough, formed march column, and stalked off the field, leaving Kurt to lead the Erprinz Regiment to seize the Inn, while the Ostergotlands, nothing loth, seized both the overrun French battalion gun (and claimed it for their own), and the provisional flag of the Alacarte Grenadiers, to grace their permanent headquarters.

A good day for the blues, Kurt thought, seated in front of the inn with a spare bottle of brandy, soaking his longsuffering feet.

Prussian Losses:

Oldenburg: 18:32 and routed
Ostergotland: 9:32
Erprinz: 14:32
1 Gun crew

French Losses:
Bourgogne: 23:36
Normandie: 26:32 and routed
Alacarte Grenadiers: 36:36
1 4lber and 2 crew, all captured

Observations: quick and bloody rules indeed! Not sure morale has quite enough factors, and having other units rout affecting you only when burst through, seems a little too restrictive: certainly the grittiness of units not testing morale until under 50% for -anything- makes casualty rates skyhigh ... which is OK if you assume a high rate of return to the colours after battle (troops run, or helping the wounded, or whatever), but can look a little odd.

OTOH the manouevring is quite awkward and un-Napoleonic, which is definitely a big plus. Have to see how artillery in quantity, and cavalry, affect things.

My overall inclination would be to add a morale test for friends of same/higher quality routing within 6"; adding a -1 to morale for losing a firefight (not just a melee); and adding a -2 to morale for having enemy behind flank within 12". I daresay a lot more factors will occur to me, but I do want to keep things fairly simple, and not fall into the perils of 5th Edition/Gushite tests.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Skirmish - First US Tournament

Well, we went to Dallas last weekend, and met up with some of the Okie posse (Ray Summers, Monty Walls, Pat Sweeney), & played in my first US tournament. This was with Field of Glory (FOG) rules, 650 points, only published army lists.

I borrowed my army from Ian Buttridge, the extremely able & genial umpire, and used Aragonese:
3x4 Kn Superior Hvy Armoured Undrilled
8 & 6 Almughavar - MI Impact foot, sword, Superior, Prot, Undrilled
8 MIlitia, HI Off Spear, Armoured, Poor, Drilled
4 Jinetes, LC JLS, Protectd, avge, Undrilled
8 Crossbows, LI, Xbow, Unprotected, avge, undrilled.

Game 1 was Komnenan Byzantine, on a close table - woods on the left,
impassable cliffs on the right, and a bunch of uneven ground at the foot of
the cliffs, giving a choke point about 2.5 foot wide in the middle of the table.
I aimed the almughavars & LC down the uneven ground, the knights at the
gap, the LI into the woods, and the spear in reserve, near the woods. He
deployed MI archers opposite the uneven ground, Skutatoi beside them,
Elite Varangians next to them, Frankish knights (H/armoured), then
Byzantine (armoured) knights, then opposite the woods more MI archers.
He put 3 LH groups in front of Skutatoi, Frankish knights, and Byzantine

We both pushed forwards as fast as we could, but in turn 2, he had a
sudden rethink and decided the archers opposite my Almughavars might not
like the matchup, and reversed them - they spent the rest of the game
running back to the camp. Then, as my knights thrust forward, I charged my
Jinetes at the LH opposite them, and he elected not to evade (because it
would disorder the Skutatoi, but to stand. As I had POA in impulse and
melee, I massacred them (altho without killing a stand), so they routed -
through the Skutatoi, disordering them. He then detached his general from
the Varangians to try to rally them, a fairly pivotal mistake.

On my left, his archers were (unsurprisingly) pushing my LI back briskly, and
managed to rout them with shooting (some poor dice throwing didn't help
that). The archers then turned inward to threaten the flank of my knights.

Meanwhile, the main lines clashed - On impulse, all was equal, except that
the Varangians got disordered (I had a general in the front rank there, so we
were both effectively elite: they also lost the melee, but retained cohesion &
dropped a stand, giving me an overlap. In the rest of the melees, our CinCs
met in the middle, both leading identical HArm Knights, and drew; and my
knights defeated the lighter Byzantines, disordering them.

Of course, my victorious knights then got struck in the flank (disorder), then
lost the impulse combat (not allowed to fight back as facing enemy to front),
and became fragmented, then (of course) lost the melee and ran like girls.
Our CinCs tied again, and the Varangians lost again, dropping another
stand and fragmenting. I should add, the Byzantine general was now at the
back of the table, having failed to rally his LH. Oh, yes, I forgot - I got
overambitious with the Jinetes, and got stitched up by his 2 remaining LH

In my turn, the Almughavars plowed into the Skutatoi, fragmented them,
then routed them in melee, while the Poor spearmen charged the Byzantine
archers - who of course had had to extrude beyond the woods to fight- and
were compelled to also charge into the disordered Byzantine knights, due to
the angle of charge.

This turned out to be a good idea, as the spearmen fragmented the archers
on first impact, then routed them in melee: and fragmented the Byzantine
knights in the melee. Our CinCs drew (again), and the Varangians lost
again, but again didn't lose cohesion - however, the test for the Skutatoi
routed them (at last!), and the cohesion test for that disordered his CinCs
knights, while the routing archers caused the Byzantine knights to rout,
which test in turn caused the CinC to fragment. With 5 routing units and a
fragmented Knight unit, that was the game, 18-7.

Game 2 was against Lance Gamble, who had Federate Romans - and his
Patrician list was the worst possible, I think, for this sort of open comp.
There was virtually no terrain, and game was a walkover - I deduced that
the only matchup that might help him would be lancers against my MI
Almughavars, so I ensured that didn't happen, and once deployed, he didn't
seem to think of trying to redeploy (given that his mounted were all undrilled,
probably just as well I suppose).

Anyway, from the left, I deployed LH, the small Almughavars, all my Knights,
the big Almughavars, then the Poor spear. He deployed 1 unit of Hun Cav
(Bow/Sword), 3 units of 4 Cav lancers & 1 of cataphracts opposite my
Knights, then his 2 x10 Warband (O), then 2 6s of Auxilia.

I saw no need for finesse here & just rolled forward. The only change I made
was to push the small Almughavars out to meet his Huns (where they spent
the game staring at eachother ), and pulling the LH inside them to flank the
lancer line. Essentially, just rolled forward, and POAs did for him all down
the line.

From the right, my Spears got into one of his auxilia palatine (the other
being distracted by crossbowmen), and having armour and an overlap,
massacred him. The big almughavars caught his Warband in 3 ranks, giving
up an overlap and being Avge vs Superior, and got massacred just as

His other warband were only briefly a speedbump for the first of my knight
units, while his combined cav - he rather mismanaged these, so that they
were forced to charge while outside the cataphract charge reach - got
equally slaughtered by Knights enjoying overlaps and POAs for armour &
lances. All in all, in 2 turns I managed to rout 8 of his 11 units.

Game 3 was against the guy who'd defeated Monty (just), with Seleucids. I
thought this could be ugly, with Pikes and 2 units of Elephants, none of
which bring joy to the eye of the charging Knight, but, well, not so much.

The table had a fair amount of broken & rough ground on the right, but
otherwise essentially open (a couple of irrelevant low hills). He deployed with
his cavalry (Huns, sup Companions, elite Agema all in 4s on my left, then
elephants, then pike (resting on the uneven ground), then 4 LH, 2 units of LI,
and an ambush of 6 Thracians.

I deployed all my knights on the left, then the Almughavars opposite the
Pike, then Spear opposite the uneven ground, then LC & LI. Initially he
pushed forward with the skirmishers & LH, and more slowly with Pike &
Elephants & cav, while I pushed the end 2 knight units, held the third back
somewhat, and angled left with the almughavars and spearmen.

He got a bit incautious with the LH, who got chased off by a charge of
spearmen, then - to my amazement - when I charged my LH at his 2 6s of
skirmishers (right at the join), he evaded. I'm fairly sure if he'd stood, the
combination of shooting as I came & melee would have crunched me, but
there you go. As it happens, I caught both units in the back when evading,
and mullered them (drop 1 for hit in the back, lose the impulse - one broke
then - then lose the melee - the other broke then). That relieved any anxiety
I had about the flank of my spearmen, so the foot slanted hard across the
front of his army/

I couldn't quite get into charge reach of his elephants, but my big
almughavar unit charged into the pike, hitting both units, while my spearmen
hit the end element of the pike (not accidentally, I'd cribbed this idea from
Ray) - led by a general, to negate the Poor. The spearmen lost the impulse,
but passed cohesion, then expanded out to gain an overlap in melee, which
they won. The big almughavar unit covered itself with glory, winning the
impulse and the melee, winding up the pikes as fragmented.

In his turn, he charged one elephant unit into the small almughavar unit, and
pushed the other towards my knights (not quite getting in charge reach),
while his Skytian Cav and lancers pulled back in front of my knights,
unsurprisingly. The elephants lost & disordered, then lost again, passed
cohesion, but failed their death roll - that of course caused them to flee &
expire, being 1 element strong, so the small almughavar unit pursued into
the flank of the other elephant unit. Meanwhile the big almughavar unit
broke their pike opponents, and the spearmen fragmented theirs. The
fragmented pike then broke on testing for routing friends, which caused his
LH beside them to disorder.

On my next turn, we did for the other elephant unit (hit in the flank, losing,
and failing death roll so it expired), and my LH charged his disordered LH,
beat them and they dropped 2 1s, to rout in the impulse phase - that meant
7 routed units of 11, for an astonishingly easy win, 25/0. I didn't lose a stand,
in this one.

I'll let Monty describe his tale of woes, pausing only to observe that I don't
consider Lydians to be viable out of period, now.

Fairly pleased to have won a tournament straight off the bat, but it was pretty tiny, only 6 people, so not too difficult, I suppose.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Packed at last! A mere, lets see, 47 drawers, 15 file boxes, and 12 sundry boxes filled with painted and unpainted lead (an alarming amount of unpainted lead - including, just in ancients, 15mm Ottomans, Anglo-Irish, Gauls, Caesarian Romans, LAP, Greek/Macedonians, PreIslamic Arab, and 25/28mm Romans, Late Romans, Greeks, Macedonians, Medieval allsorts, Aztecs, Arab Conquest/Empire, Byzantines, and Anglo-Danes... plus more I've doubtless forgotten).

Now to finish packing the books ...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Painting update

Well, packing for the Great Move to the USA proceeds apace, and - as it turns out - is a beneficial prompter of painting, as I need to take regular breaks from the packing, which easily converts into small batches of painting interspersed with the wrapping of toys in bubblewrap.

Anyway, I've now added:
British: another 2x32 Line, 2x32 Grenadiers, 32 more Fusiliers, and 12 Light Infantry
(total: 24 Dragoons, 4x32 Line, 2x32 Fusiliers, 2x32 Grenadiers, 2x12 Light Infantry)
Austrians: 8 Line infantry (strays)

I've also been buying up cheap Front Rank SYW from eBay, to the tune of: 260 British infantry, 213 Prussian infantry, 46 British cavalry, 16 Austrian Cuirassiers, 29 Austrian Dragoons, 150 Austrian infantry, 75 Austrian Infantry (Hungarians), 36 Swedish infantry, 36-ish Russian infantry, and 12 Pandours: aside from the shipment of Front Rank last year, of artillery, and British & American cavalry, which I've forgotten the numbers for.

Perhaps time to stop for a while - thats about 25 more regiments of foot, aside of the rest!

Friday, March 7, 2008


Well, that didn't work so brilliantly ... perhaps the labour of photography (at which I am, I admit, rubbish); but more, I think maintaining the concept of fictional nations requires a certain folie a deux, for which I lack a co-conspirator. Never mind, for the moment, I'll just use this for my sundry battle reports and painting project reports.

Which reminds me, I must take an audit of what I've got, and what still needs painting (*wince*). Haven't touched the Byzantines, Nubians, Romans, Aztecs, or Dacians which I know are lurking around: on the bright side, making progress with the SYW figures that I can't find a regular opponent to play (!) - still have an unopened box from Front Rank, plus a regiment of British cav needing retouching (thanks eBay), and 5 regiments of British foot only undercoated, plus a light infantry unit. That might be all the outstanding 25mm lead ... then there's the 30YW French, Anglo-Irish, and Arabo-Aramaean 15mm armies, and I think enough lead to make up a Kushite army as well. Hmm, have to find something new to use all those Arabo-Aramaean archers for, now the army doesn't exist. Hmm. Oh, and the French knights if I can ever get hold of Matt the Painter.

Anyway, the painted 28mm SYW now consists of:
Prussians: 2x32 foreign Guard, 32 Prussian Guard, 32, 24 & 20 Grenadiers, 2x32 Fusiliers, 4x32 Line, 2x12 Freikorps, 16 & 2x12 Cuirassiers, 16 & 12 Dragoons, 6 guns
French: 32 & 24 Grenadiers, 3x32 Irish, 4x32 & 1x16 Line, 2x12 Chasseurs a pied, 16&12 Cuirassiers, 16&12 Dragoons, 16 Hussars, 12 Hussars needing repaint, 4 guns
British: 24 Dragoons, 32 Fusiliers, 2x32 Line
Americans: 2x24 & 2x20 Continentals, 2x27 & 4x18 Militia, 3x12 Rifles & skirmishers
Russians: 32 Line
Austrians: 3x32 German Line, 12 Cuirassiers
Also, 4 Battalion guns suitable for any army.

A notable dearth of artillery (it's pricey stuff!), which will be partly corrected by the new shipment of lead, and partly by detaching the crews, so the guns can be used in any army, with appropriate gunners attached.