Sunday, 3 June 2018

Encounter Battle - General d'Armee Game

Rather long time since last update on this blog, but here's a Napoleonic Battle Report. A General d'Armee game at the wargames club today. 2000 points French vs British.


My French Force was:
  • 1st Brigade: 2 French Line, 1 Foot Battery
  • 2nd Brigade: 2 French Line, 1 Veteran Light
  • 3rd Brigade: 3 French Line, 1 Veteran Light
  • 4th Brigade: 2 Veteran Cuirassiers, 1 Horse Battery

Mike used his well painted British force, as follows:
  • 1st Brigade: 2 British Line, 1 Foot Battery
  • 2nd Brigade: 2 British Line, 1 Veteran Rifles
  • 3rd Brigade: 2 British Line, 1 Elite Guards
  • 4th Brigade: 1 Veteran Dragoons, 1 Veteran Hussars, 1 Royal Horse Battery

Encounter Scenario

We played an encounter battle based on this nice idea posted on the GDA forum.
In summary both sides roll a D6 to see who starts. Taking turns, each side then picks one brigade and places the Brigadier where they wish that Brigade to enter the table. The Brigade is available on a D6 roll of 3-6, and immediately moves one move onto the table if so. If a 1-2 is rolled the Brigade must instead enter at that point from reserves.  (All ADC's from brigades are available from the start though, as otherwise it would be very difficult to get things on in time).

As can be seen below, the French start with just their cavalry, while the British start with two infantry Brigades.

The French advance and unlimber and some first artillery fire is exchanged.

British reply.

French then manage to bring on two infantry brigades, while the British wait for their reinforcements.

British Artillery and Highlanders await developments.

The French advance strongly on both flanks using 'Forwards' orders.

The British left flank infantry brigade finally arrives - too late to stop the French occupying the buildings in front of them though.

On the left the first premature French column attacks are thrown back by the British lines. And a second column attack is thrown back in rout. The French Brigade rallies but a routing batalion is lost.

The Cuirassiers move over to support the faltering attack on the French left flank.




The British Cavalry brigade finally arrives.

Picton waves his umbrella grumpily as they reinforce the right flank, while the Royal Horse Artillery deploys to the left of the foot artillery.

British attack column comes on in the same old style vs the French line... (wait what?)

 ...and wrecks the French line which disperses.

The Cuirassiers seek vengeance, charging the British column which fails to form square and becomes unformed, but still manages to hold as the Cuirassiers charge home. A melee ensues.

GDA Melee Rules Example: All infantry and cavalry units have five melee dice. The Brits lose 1 dice for being unformed so roll just 4 dice. Cuirassiers have +2 dice for being Heavy Cavalry, +1 dice for being higher morale grade than enemy in this instance, and +1 dice for Elan. 

So 4 dice (Brits) to 9 dice (French) each needing 4, 5 or 6 on a D6 to cause a hit. The British get 2 hits while the  French roll poorly and get just 3 hits.  A win by 1 hit to the Cuirassiers which is enough to send the British unit retreating back, but disappointingly also just 1 hit off the Cuirassiers simply running the Brits down as they deserve! (Infantry beaten by 2 or more hits by Cavalry disperse and are removed from the battle).


The first Curaissiers fall back and their comrades run down some skirmishers before being blasted by two batteries, taking 8 hits. 

The French Horse Artillery disperse under counter-battery fire. Things are looking grim for the French as multiple brigades falter.

Three French units disperse this turn, including another from the left flank.

...and another from the right flank. This right flank falls due to my mistake in forgetting that you are supposed to halve casualties against garrisons of a Built Up Area! More than just a -1 to hit. Oops, found this in checking rules after the game, that will teach me to remember! 

Lucky day for these British.


Casualties are still heavy for British though. Coldstream Guards have taken 10/15 hits. Highlanders 11/12 hits. (Casualty markers here: shako = 1 hit,  backpacks =4 hits). 

British right flank has also taken a beating. Infantry units from left to right have taken 10, 2, 8 (rifles), and 7 out of 12 hits each respectively.  Three of the five French battalions on this flank have been lost entirely though so the French are considerably worse off!

French skirmishers fire a few last shots before departing.

Time to withdraw and reconsider the treachery of perfidious Albion!


Conclusion

Some premature charges by the infantry on the left lost this game for the French. I had weight of numbers and should have just waited for more attrition from skirmishers before sending in the columns at least! That and my failure to get rules correct for defensive bonus of the buildings on my right flank. Oh well next time!  I think 2000 points is about the minimum for game of GDA, but even this limited number of figures still gives a fun game! Mike and I are doing a display game for an antique weapons club next month so I'll do another report from that.


Thanks for reading! In other news, I bought a tonne more Napoleonic figures just before the Perry price rise on April 2nd, and some of them are currently on the painting table. Prior to that I also painted up an Ancients Republican Roman army, so some pictures of that will likely also feature shortly.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Hills and Templates

Hills are needed for wargames, and how to represent them is a dilemma.  The classic problem is that 'realistic' curved sloping hills are not great because figures tend to slide down them, or at least look odd leaning on funny angles. The way to avoid that is to have very shallow slopes, but then it ends up hardly being a 'hill' at all due to the reduced ground scale you use in wargames (i.e. where one figure represents 20 men or so). On the other hand flat-top or 'step' hills are great for figures to stand on, but don't look as natural.

After some consideration I decided to go with the latter flat-top hill idea, preferring this to having  hills with figures are sliding or leaning at odd angles on them. However, I still chose to give the hills some slope on the side and combined with the paint and flock finish they look more natural than some of the step hills you see used - at least to my eyes.

Here's one of my new hills below, with Austrian Hussars and Artillery for scale.

For these hills (and templates) I commissioned local wargaming buddy Clinton Whelan to make them all to specified dimensions, leaving me with only the flocking to do. Thanks Clinton! Time is precious, and Clinton is something of an expert at terrain making, managing to produce it efficiently and quickly in large quantities. Hence his products are popular with many local wargamers. Another local Napoleonic wargamer recently had some hills made by Clinton, and I knew I had to have some when I saw them!

These hills and templates all have a 3mm MDF wooden base (cut out irregularly with a jigsaw, and beveled with sand paper/sander), with polystyrene stuck on top with PVA. Clinton apparently just uses a standard craft knife to shape the edge of the polystyrene to make the slopes. Here's some work in progress shots Clinton sent me for review.


After they are shaped, Clinton coats the whole thing in thick mix of PVA and sand. This makes the whole structure very solid. He then paints them brown and drybrushes a a couple of lighter brown colours over the top. Normally Clinton adds his own choice of flock after that, but I wanted to use my own in this instance in order to better match my figures and table.

And here is the finished result. Many hills and templates! 2 x large plateau, 4 x long ridge, 2 x shorter ridge, 2 x medium hill, 2 x small hill, plus loads of templates for forests, rough ground etc. I may still do some more work with flock etc, adding more of the colour matching the ground mat, but they satisfactory at this stage I think.

Some closer shots.



Lots of scenery! Filling up a 6'x4' table, but a good amount for some of the 6'x12' and larger battle fields and scenarios I have planned.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Casualty Markers

Casualty markers are something needed for all the various Napoleonic rulesets I play or have played recently, General d'Armee, Blackpowder, and Lasalle, included. Casualties in these systems are generally taken to represent a combination of casualties, fatigue, and sometimes general disorder. Overall the more casualties a unit has taken the more its morale and effectiveness is degraded. Number of hits needed varies according to rule system. For example in Blackpowder and Lasalle each standard unit can take up to 3 hits, while in General d'Armee each standard unit can take up to 12 hits.

It's a simple system that avoids multiple cumbersome traits for each unit, or fiddly casualty removal, hence it's popularity. It seems that many rules, even the Games Workshop ones, are requiring casualty or damage markers these days. How to represent them is the question.


One of the easiest ways to represent casualties is to just stick dice next to units. The trouble with this is the casualty dice might be knocked over by other dice, or accidentally picked up, and it's a bit fiddly rotating the dice trying to find the right number each time. And of course it detracts somewhat from the visual aesthetic of the game.

Casualty dial bases are another option. For a nice example see fellow New Zealander Brian Smaller's casualty bases here. I have a load of casualty figures and I might get around to doing these some day too. Warbases make wooden casualty dials and Litko make acrylic ones. Local New Zealand company Battlekiwi makes both wooden and acrylic dials and offer a bulk discount.

In previous battle reports I've used fire and suppression blast markers that I use for 6mm sci-fi gaming.  They are not really the best thing for Napoleonics though, as barring a few canister rounds from artillery most firepower impacts didn't involve explosions. Also I didn't have enough of these once game size increased, and I would need a lot more for bigger games.


An alternative I eventually decided upon is the following. With most plastic 28mm figure boxes these days you get extra bits. For example in Perry French and Austrian Napoleonic boxes you get extra heads to provide you with options. And in Victrix Austrian boxes you get twice the number of backpacks you need (so you can make Line or Grenadier units). 

It struck me that these extra bits could make some characterful, non-obtrusive, and also low modelling/painting effort casualty markers that would be suitable for a variety of Napoleonic rules. I ordered some cheap plastic counteres off e-bay. I then stuck spare shakos and backpacks onto them with plastic glue (cutting the shako off the head first). A quick undercoat, paintjob and some flock, followed by heavy varnish, resulted in the following which I'm pretty happy with.

I made rather a lot. 110 French shakos and 40 backpacks, and 110 Austrian shakos and 40 backpacks. This should be plenty for big games given past experience. Of course, not every Napoleonic unit had shakos and backpacks but the majority did, and shakos and backpacks tended to look similar across armies, and the standardisation should reduce confusion! 

In General d'Armee the shakos will represent one hit, and backpacks four hits. This has the added advantage that it will help make degrading points clear. I.e. in General d'Armee at 4 hits and 8 hits a unit suffers cumulative degrading effects on its firepower/melee/morale – so having distinct 4 hit counters is a useful reminder that this has occurred, i.e:
 1 Backpack = -1; 2 Backpacks = -2 (to shooting, melee, and morale tests)

The other thing I've been working on is more terrain - many hills and templates. These will follow soon in another post!