Saturday, May 23, 2015

Battle at Plancenoit - Play Test

On Saturday, May 16, the Jackson Gamers gathered so that I could play test my Napoleonic game for our regional convention, Bayou Wars, which takes place June 12-14.  The theme of the convention is Epic Battles - 1215, 1415, 1615, and 1815.

I chose a scenario to replicate, as best as I could, the Prussian IV Korps attack into Napoleon's right flank at Waterloo and the resulting fighting over the town of Plancenoit.  At first I was going to use our standard Napoleonic rules The Sound of the Guns by Larry Brom.  But after some thought I realized that using them would entail too many units for a convention game.  Luckily my good war gaming buddy Lord Sterling had recently bought a copy of Sam Mustafa's new rule set Blucher.  After a couple of games under my belt, I decided that I would use that rule set, where the "brigade" is the basic maneuver unit.

After some research and re-reading of various books, mainly Peter Hofschroer's two volume 1815: The Waterloo Campaign, I arrived at my order of battle.  The Anglo-Allied left flank would be represented by one British, two Hanoverian, and two Nassau infantry brigades and two British cavalry brigades, all controlled by one player.  The attacking Prussians would consist of the entire IV Korps (controlled by two players) and the reinforcing lead elements of the I and II Korps (controlled by one player).  The defending French would have Durutte's division, three cavalry divisions, and Lobau's VI Corps (all controlled by two players), with the Old and Young Guard reinforcements controlled by a third French player.  This gave a strength of 40 Allied units versus 20 French units.

Now to some pictures of the action (photos by John M. and me):

With the French defenders deployed around Plancenoit (left center) and in an arc above Plancenoit and the Anglo-Allied left wing around Haye and Papelotte (top of picture), the Prussians begin their deployment along the right side of the battlefield.  The playing area was an 8' x 5' table set-up.
The Prussian 15th Brigade (division) and its accompanying cavalry advance against the French.
As French (left) and Prussian (right) cavalry charge and counter-charge in the foreground, John maneuvers his British cavalry so they can get into the action against Durutte's division.
A close-up of the cavalry action in the center.  A French cavalry brigade and a Prussian Landwehr cavalry brigade tangle in the middle while French chasseurs and hussars maneuver to the lower right and more Prussian cavalry advances from the upper left.
An overview of the battle taken from behind the Anglo-Allied positions at Haye and Papelotts.
A close-up of some of the cavalry action.  Each movement base is a brigade equivalent consisting of two stands, each with four infantry or two cavalry figures.  Artillery is either attached to and subsumed in an infantry brigade or gathered into "grand" batteries with two guns and four gunners representing a larger number of guns.
Here is an example of the "brigade" movement stands seen  from the rear.  The identification characteristics include, along the top, the movement rate (in this case 2 or 1 base widths for the infantry), the unit identification, and any special characteristics (such as skirmish for both Nassau  "brigades").  Along the bottom are the "strength points" for the unit and whether or not it has attached artillery (as does the 2nd Nassau).

All measurements are in "base widths" which in this game's case was 3".  The dowel above was cut 12" long and then divided into four 3" segments by the color bands.  This was used to measure movement, infantry fire, and short range artillery fire.  A longer dowel (24") was used to measure long-range artillery fire.
More swirling cavalry action in the center, but now the French massed horse artillery (right center) can get into action against the Prussian cavalry.
The Guard marches on behind Plancenoit with one "brigade" of Old Guard, one of Middle Guard, and four of Young Guard.  In the upper right is a portion of one of the Prussian objectives, part of the French trains.  Plancenoit (lower center) was the other Prussian objective.


With most of the French cavalry defeated, the left flank of the Prussian IV Korps marches forward towards Plancenoit (off picture to left).

Durutte's French division (with four brigades) attacks the Anglo-Allied line at Haye and Papelotte.

A higher angle shot of Durutte's assault.
Two of the combats were successful, forcing the opposing Hanoverian militia  brigades to fall back.  But the other two weren't successful and those French brigades had to fall back, opening Durutte's now scattered division to the two British cavalry brigades (on far right of Anglo-Allied line).
Although the French guard reinforcements were marching onto the battlefield the rest of the French army was pretty much shot.  All of the cavalry and two of Durutte's brigades were destroyed.  Lobau's VI Corps (five brigades) was still pretty much intact but it would soon be assaulted by nine Prussian infantry brigade-equivalents supported by five to six battery groups.  Night was fast falling and the main French army was streaming away to the south, shouting "Sauve qui peut!!" at the top of their lungs.  Thus the play test ended without any struggle over Plancenoit.
After some discussion, I resolved to have the Prussian IV Korps set up further in and bring the forward elements of the II Korps on at the beginning instead of waiting.  I also will impress on the Prussian players that they must press their attack as swiftly as they can since the main Anglo-Allied army's position is in grave peril unless they can drive into the rear of the French army quickly.
And some observations on Blucher.  It is a fairly easy rule set to learn to use, once the players get the movement sequence in their heads.  But the finesse of figuring out when to move units and in what sequence will take more than just a game or two.  The uncertain movement orders available to each side gives it a definite "fog of war" feel.  Ranged artillery and infantry fire seemed to produce too few casualties but that may be a left over from our other Napoleonic rule set mentioned above.  We will definitely play this rule set again, many times  I feel.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

French Chevau-Legers Lanciers

As the final preparation for my play test of a Napoleonic game at our regional convention, Bayou Wars, next month, I completed two regiments of French cavalry.  Both of these regiments are chevau-legers lanciers, six of which were raised from dragoon regiments by the decree of July 15, 1811. 

5th Regiment of Chevau-Legers Lanciers, which was converted from the 10th Dragoon Regiment

6th Regiment of Chevau-Legers Lanciers, which was converted from the 29th Dragoon Regiment
Both of these regiments are primarily vintage Scruby Miniatures and its follow-on manufacturer, Historifigs.  There may be a few Warrior Miniatures in the 6th Regiment.
They are each brigaded with a hussar regiment in two light cavalry brigades that are part of my French reserve cavalry.

Monday, May 11, 2015

More on Trophy WW1 German Artillery

Lats Friday, our National Guard returned the third and final trophy WW1 German gun after refurbishment.  See for the first two that were returned.  I thought that it was being kept for the Mississippi Military Museum at Camp Shelby, but evidently they decided it wasn't needed there.

In my original post (above) I identified the guns as two 150mm and one possible 105mm.  But actually they are two 105mm and one 77mm.

The refurbishment of the three guns consisted of complete reconstruction of the wooden wheels, repair or reconstruction of various components, cleaning and repair of rusted portions, and a complete repaint.  I was involved a little bit in the discussions on what to paint them.

First here are a couple of pictures sent to me by the National Guard maintenance officer who oversaw the refurbishment.  Please click on all pictures to see an enlarged version.

Reconstructed wheels for one of the 105mm guns.  They are made from hard yellow pine and were painted and lacquered for protection against the sun and weather.

The 77mm gun in its coat of red lead base paint.
One of the 105mm guns being stripped down prior to a light sandblasting to remove surface rust and corrosion.

The 77mm gun was brought up to Jackson from Camp Shelby on a trailer and was off-loaded by a M984 HEMTT wrecker.  Then the guardsmen muscled into position on the concrete pad.  The first two pictures are by one of my co-workers, a newly retired National Guard special forces sergeant.  The rest are by me.

View from one of our building's windows as the gun is being off-loaded.  [Photo by Joe W.]

A closer look as it is being muscled into position.  [photo by Joe W.]
View of gun from a window in my office area.

Close-up of front right of gun.  From this close, the new rusty areas are very apparent.  The gun must have sat outside since it was refurbished.  Sure doesn't speak well of how it will fare here.

View from left rear quadrant.

 The next three pictures show the detailed engraving on the barrel of the gun.  Unfortunately it was very bright the day (Saturday) I took these pictures so the engraving is not as distinct as it should be.  See for a more detailed description of the gun including a partial translation of the engraving, although that gun's barrel isn't as ornate as ours.

 And finally, a picture of the breech block, clearly showing the serial number (4859), manufacturer (Fr. Kp. - Friedrich Krupp), and the date (1907).

Well, that's all for now.  I'll post more on these three guns if and when I develop more data.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

French versus Austrians Using Blucher Rules

On Monday, April 27, a state holiday here in Mississippi, a number of us gathered at Jay, Lord Sterling's to play a 25mm Napoleonic game using his venerable 25mm Napoleonic host.  We used Sam Mustafa's new grand tactical rules rules, Blucher and his introductory scenario, "Along the Danube."

Here are a few pictures of the cavalry action in the center of the battlefield.  I was the senior French commander and reserved two French cavalry divisions for my command.  Three other players divided four French infantry corps among them.  Our task was to beat the Austrians and capture two objectives on the battlefield.

Jay's Napoleonic forces are based for Napoleon's Battles which the group used many, many moons ago.  Now we use them with Larry Brom's The Sound of the Guns and with Command and Colors Napoleonic

In Blucher, each "unit" (3 stands of troops/guns on a movement base) is roughly equivalent to a brigade of infantry or cavalry or a "grand" battery of 12-18 guns.  The movement bases are 4-1/2" wide and deep enough to allow for the troop stands and the Blulcher troop characteristic card.

Anyway, on to the pictures.

Colorful Austrian uhlans, backed up by cuirassiers and dragoons face off against French lancers, dragoons, and cuirassiers.

One Austrian uhlan brigade is defeated by a French cuirassier brigade and sent scurrying behind its supports (upper left).  In the lower left, the French carabinier brigade advances.  You can just feel the ground shake as they trot forward.

During a succeeding turn, the carabiniers along with other French cavalry attack the Austrians (Hungarian infantry and Austrian cuirassiers), only to be outflanked by some Hungarian infantry backed up by jagers.  Is this the gruesome end of the brave carabiniers?

Nope, their left files just turn and smack the Hungarians, whose commander is measuring their retreat.  The Austrian infantry who were the original target of the carabiniers was also defeated and forced to flee.
The French ended up winning the battle although it was a see-saw affair.  We've enjoyed two games using the Blucher rules and I can see us using them in future games.  What we really liked was Sam's method of command and control.  At the end of each movement/combat phase, the active player rolls three "command" dice under a cup, not allowing his opponent to see them.  That player, now the inactive one, keeps track of the now-active player's command point usage during the next movement/combat phase.  The active player doesn't know how many command points he has to use so must "choose carefully" how he activates his command.  Sometimes you can do want you want and sometimes you can't. Let's the "fog of war" into the game.  We may use this system with other rule sets.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Napoleonic French Brigade Commander and Leger Battalion

While I'm awaiting the start of my SYW imagi-nation game Saturday morning (see last post), I've been trying to finish some Napoleonic French figures for a May play test of one of my convention games for Bayou Wars in June.  This week I finally finished a French infantry brigade commander and one of his battalions, the 1st Battalion, 36th Leger Regiment.  All of these figures are either venerable "true" 25mm Jack Scruby castings or newer Historifigs castings which are the immediate descendants of Jack's figures.

Almost all of my Napoleonic forces are organized around the composition of the Prussian, Russian, and French/Allied commands that fought over Berlin after the summer 1813 armistice.  The various uniforms may not be entirely accurate but they are close enough for me as I'm not a button and lace fanatic with my Napoleonics.

As the label states, this is General de Brigade Jarry, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 32nd French Infantry Division.  Jarry is a former leger officer (of the 36th Leger) who still wears his leger uniform even though he has been promoted.  All of my brigade and higher commanders are mounted on round bases of different sizes to distinguish them from the rectangular and square infantry, cavalry, and artillery bases.

The 1st Battalion, 36th Leger Regiment still has its carabiniers in black bear skin caps and its voltiguers in brown colpacks with yellow bags.  Nothing is too good for Jarry's old regiment!  All of my infantry battalions of any nationality are organized into four 4-figure stands which fits both my wallet and the rules I use - "The Sound of the Guns" by Larry Brom.

The bases are by Litko, which is almost all I use nowadays.  I used to cut my own bases but I've found out the savings in my own labor more than overcomes the slight increase in cost.  Plus the Litko bases just look so good!

The other battalion (4th) of the 36th Leger is being painted and the rest of the brigade, two battalions of the 131st Line Infantry Regiment, are awaiting their turn under the brush.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Campaigning is Beginning in Central Europa

The campaign season is upon us.  The snows in the Thuringian Forest have melted and the grass is lush in the valleys and dales.  Commissary agents for the various Electoral and Imperium states as well as from Germania, Britannia, and Gallia have been scouring the countryside for food stuffs and animal fodder.  The bakeries and cannon foundries are working overtime.  Surely war is coming once again to Europa.

Eisenmuhlen cannon foundry in Carpania (picture by Col Campbell)

Field bakery in Hesse-Seewald (picture from Der Alte Fritz's blog)

Having heard rumblings of Imperial activity in the Saxon lands near our neighbor and ally the Kingdom of Hesse-Seewald, the Markgraf has directed his small army to march southeast through Coburg to threaten the Imperial base at Bayreuth.  General der Infanterie Baron Rolfe von Stuppe, commander of the Carpanian army, is mustering his regiments, aided by a Britannian infantry regiment and heavy dragoon squadron as well as several guns.  Baron von Stuppe is using the appellation Electorische Armee Thuringen (Electoral Army in Thuringia) for his small force since Carpania supports the Electoral forces headed by King Friedrich II of Germania.

Markgraf von Hapnich of Carpania watches his army muster (picture by Col Campbell)
The advance guard of Carpanian jagers and dragoons leaves Potsdorf for the field (picture by Col Campbell)
At the Imperial base at Bayreuth, the Reichsarmeeabteilung Obere-Sachsen (Army Detachment Upper Saxony) has been marshalling its forces under the command of Feldmarshall-Leutnant Freiherr Bernard von Alderheim.  It consists of forces from Courland, Sachsen-Wachsenstein, and Gallia.  Von Alderheim has deployed his pulk (regiment) of Courland Cossacks out to the northwest of Bayreuth to keep an eye out for the Carpanians, whom he is sure will march to the support of the Hesse-Seewalders.

FML Freiherr von Alderheim (picture by Col Campbell)

Courland Cossacks and Pandurs deploy to screen the mustering (picture by Col Campbell)
For additional details of developments in Hesse-Seewald, please refer to these blog postings from Der Alte Fritz:  

This is in preparation for a SYW imagi-nations game on Saturday, April 18.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fight for the Fosse Way

In preparation for a big Very British Civil War game at the UK's Partizan convention on May 31, Pete Barfield (Panzerkaput) asked that VBCW gamers run a game using the terrain that he will use.  We were to inform him of the results so he could make a compilation and use them as the starting point for the big game.

Since I was planning on running a VBCW game this spring, using Pete's scenario made it somewhat easier for me.  So with the basics out of the way, then all I had to do was figure out which rule set to use - "Went the Day Well?" or "The Sword to Adventure."  Of course I chose one that we've never played - "Rugged Adventures" from Pulp Miniatures: and  I made up ten different commands, five for each side, assigned a playing card to each, and had the 7 players who showed up draw for their commands.  It turned out that we had four on the Royalists side (2 Royalists [Jay and Larry] and 2 BUF [Ed and Sean]) and 3 on the Anglican Coalition side (Anglican LDF [Travis], Socialist Brewery workers [Mike], and red sailors [Phil]).  What I didn't tell anyone was that there was a command of Ghurkhas inside one of the farmsteads escorting part of the crown jewels [game master contolled].  Surprise! Surprise!

Ed and I took a lot of pictures but I only decided to use a small number.  The fighting broke down into three smaller battles over the three farmsteads.  Pete provided a table layout which I tried to follow as best as I could.

The Anglican Coalition entered from the top (red force) while the  Royalists entered from the bottom (blue force).

Here's my version with Brookfield Farm in the foreground.  If you look closely by the center farmstead (Grange Farm) you might spot a special visitor and his particular conveyance.

The two commands of regular Royalist infantry [Jay and Larry] quickly captured the Brookfield Farm.  When the East Bergholt Local Defense Force (the East Bergholt Hunt Club) [Travis] closed, the Royalists began to advance on them with bayonets fixed.
From the Hunt Club's perspective, those glistening bayonets didn't look too inviting.

Meanwhile on the other flank, the red sailors from the Harwich Maritime Defence Force [Phil] seized the Bridge Farm before a section of BUF Bolton Rifles [Sean] could get there.

In the center, the Brown Brewery Workers [Mike] closed on the Grange Farm only to hear a distinctly British voice [game master] asking who they were and what did they think they were doing.  Not being able to answer to the satisfaction of the Ghurkha officer, they begin to exchange fire.

Another section of BUF Bolton Rifles [Ed] then appeared on the other side of the Grange Farm, satisfied the Ghurkha commander as to their bona fides, and helped drive the brewery workers away.

The Hunt Club couldn't stand against the charge of the Royalist regulars and scampered for home leaving the Brookfield Farm securely in Royalist hands.
With the Brookfield Farm securely in their control, the Royalist regulars began to sweep across the battlefield only to run into a column of Anglican Coalition reinforcements [Travis' second command].
The red sailors were attacked at the Bridge Farm by a section of BUF Bolton Rifles [Sean] but the sturdy walls of the building kept them safe from BUF rifle fire.

With their leader killed, possibly by one of his own men (he wasn't very popular with them), the BUF Bolton Rifles scurried away from the Bridge Farm leaving the red sailors in possession of that farmstead.

The battle ended then since I had to leave for a movie and supper date with my wife.  The Royalists held two of the three farmsteads - Brookfield and Grange - while the Anglican coalition only held one - Bridge Farm.  These results were reported to Pete.  We'll find out in two months how the big battle at Partizan turns out, having done our part in setting it up.

As far as the "Rugged Adventure" rules, they worked fairly well even though we didn't do much of the "role playing" that the rule set supports.  Unfortunately Travis was assaulted by twice his number and lost his command about two-thirds of the way through the game.  But having plenty of other commands left, he brought on a section of Anglican Coalition regulars who stopped the Royalists from sweeping across the battlefield.