Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Pike & Shotte - A Nine Years War encounter

Game at Billys last night using Pike & Shotte rules with his super 15mm Grand Alliance troops of which there are copious amounts !
Billy set up forces to accommodate 5-6 players but in the end just Billy, Shane and I controlled the hordes.
I took Jacobite force (5 Brigades of Foot and 4 Cavalry with 3 Gun Batteries) nominally defending a ridge line with the chaps controlling the Grand Alliance forces (6-8 Foot and 5-6 Mounted Brigades and 3 Cannon ?).
Lots to control but with Black Powder stable of rules highly doable.
Grand Alliance had poor Command Rolls and then hit a steel wall/storm of musketry and cannon fire (of which more later) which pretty much stopped any general advance with lots of units Disordered and several Shaken.
In P&S units with Pikes in Disorder can cause Disorder on units interpenetrating or interpenetrated, a nice simple rule although we got this slightly wrong as made it an auto cause instead of on a dice roll of 6 only.
The Pike Company rule is good (Cavalry lose all bonuses against Infantry units with a Pike component and such Infantry gains versus Mounted) meaning its a foolhardy Cavalry unit that would charge Pike assisted units in most circumstances.
On Allied right Billy charged from get go (its BP system !) hitting my own mounted and 2 units of Dismounted Dragoons (treated as small units of skirmishing Infantry).
One Dragoon Fired and Evaded the other failed to Evade but performed heroically (good dice rolls) halting the enemy Mounted unit.
My impacted Cavalry lost and retired and Billy used a Sweeping Advance to hit support which also Retired.
However his unit now isolated and vulnerable to my supports.
On my turn my supporting Cavalry Brigade duly charged into Billys defeating them and with supporting Musketry he soon had Shaken.
Meanwhile my dismounted Dragoons continued to hang on inflicting casualties on enemy horse and surviving 2 Break Tests which with my dice rolls is no mean feat !
Subsequently Billy Brigade broke (3 out of 5 units Shaken) and he had to commit a fresh Brigade which fared little better with several being Disordered from my shooting (several opportune 6's !!!).
On my right Shane and I exchanged volleys with Allies suffering slightly worse and both reticent to commit Mounted Brigades (after having seen the carnage elsewhere was probably prudent).
Only 1 Allied Foot Brigade even got close to my lines and its front ranks were Shaken and Disordered by Close Range Volleys.
We called it there as seemed Allies were never going to get in any sort of order or strength.
Spectacular looking game with lots and lots of units and indeed very fast playing.

BUT.........I do feel this period is ill served overall by BP/P&S (as written) rules as the musket volleys are equally as 'good' as those of SYW or Napoleonic period and with a massive 18" range ! (no doubt with 28mm it would not look just as 'bad').
This jarred for the period and meant at up to 18" with First Fire I could unload 4 dice per unit (more than Arty which only gets 2 dice) and even I when firing say 10 units (40 dice) will manage at least 1 or 2 sixes to Disorder the enemy with hits added bonus.
Cavalry all get 1 Dice to fire as well (up to a huge 12") which of course means on a 6 they can Disorder target, again this just does not gel with my feel of the period (Pistol armed types 'only' fire to 6" but as this is Close Range they hit on 3+ rather than default 4+ as we understood rules !?).
If I were to House Rule I would try reducing Muskets/Carbines/Pistols to half range (keeping moves and artillery as is) with no + at Close Range and -1 at 3-9".
I would be tempted to reduce these ranges further as in period, volleys were generally  loosed off at well under 100yds indeed often at under 50yds due to training, accuracy (lack thereof) and doctrine, maybe 6" maximum.
Only if charged would I allow the +1 hit benefit, if only to discourage relentless charging.
Mounted I would only allow the 1 shot as Closing Fire and without any +1 benefit.
Only Shock Cavalry (essentially the French) would get +1 to hit benefit in Charge/Counter-charge situation Firearm types get the 1 dice shot.
I would consider this Mounted Shot as not being able to Disorder but that might be too severe.
For Foot I would not allow a Charge to Contact with enemy until after First Fire has been used.
I would also consider making it harder to get 2 or 3 moves with Foot (-3/4 = 2 moves -4 = 3 moves vis Command Roll ?) to reflect ponderous non-cadenced moves of the period as opposed to 'Exocet missile' mode they currently possess (an overall BP system 'problem/issue').

Not fully sure there would be no unintended consequences with these tweaks and could slow game slightly (maybe not so desirable for a big evening game ?) but do on face value seem at least in principle somewhat more akin to late 17th Century European Warfare as I understand it.
Otherwise its just another Lace War (or Blue Team vs Red Team) in different uniforms, only real difference being the Pike Companies (a nice rule that works and is easy).

Always a balancing act between game speed/playability and history I guess, but personally I much prefer more historically based substance to a simple 'moving diorama' and/or 'dice fest'.

All figures and terrain courtesy of Billy (his room is a treasure trove of figures in all scales and periods !).
The amount of troops and units present here certainly put 'Grand' into the War of Grand Alliance for an evening game.
His hospitality (and on this occasion dice rolling) much appreciated especially as mine was much better than usual.
Is this how the 'Dice Demon' gets to feel every game/roll !!!!!?????

Billy deploys his ill-fated Horse Brigades (note just some of his collection visible behind)

Central massed Alliance Foot Brigades (and more shelves of figures)

Alliance left commanded by Shane.

My right

Jacobite centre

And left wing

Dragoon 'heroes' just about visible on extreme left

Green 'puff' indicates a Jacobite Brigade with Freshly Raised and Untested units

My right wing Cavalry moves forward but never went further as Allied Dragoons dismounted in wooded area

The lone Allied Infantry 'almost' assault. The purple dice on my unit to right signifies that its Untested outcome gave it a very desirable 4 Stamina

Allied right in disarray as one Brigade breaks

Allied horse repelled. The hero Dragoons still in situ despite having hits (should read 3)

Musket balls exchanged at 18" (it even looks daft to me here) and note hits and disorders on enemy waaaayy across field

Shanes Guard units with hits from my 'long range snipers'

Good view of Allied lines staggered far too far from my ridge line but it does look epic

Jacobite cavalry begin to push their advantage on left wing

Jacobite centre also with several Disordered units from Allied long range laser guided Musket Volleys. Two were also Shaken out of 5 Unit Brigade at this point.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bataille Empire at Ulster Wargames Society

Game with Stephen today at UWS (which we both formally joined for 2020) using Bataille Empire.
I tried Prussians for Autumn 1813 against French from same period both using 200pt armies.
Lots of Landwehr types for Prussians but did field 20 units so probably largest force I have used yet.
Was asked by Jeremy the Club Chairman before Stephen arrived what we were playing and I advised it was BE and therefore likely to be a ‘shouty game’ !
I had been reticent to use BE as we have really fully comprehended or absorb them but it was a last gasp choice after yesterdays game.
And so it turned out with ‘discussion’ (not too loud I hope ? Note to Dave if you think was us being over competitive or upset just wait until the dice start targeting head areas !) regarding a couple of aspects of shooting and ricochets (bounce through) and Rallying troops under Attack Orders.
BE is a tad ambiguous at times which I do think is often down to translation issues from original French but there is I feel a good flavoursome Napoleonic game therein (well unless fielding Russian Musketeers) hopefully worth the effort expended to learn them.
We failed to finish as Stephen had an HMV event to attend but I did find the Prussians much more viable opponents than Russians without resorting to gimmick/novelty tactics/army composition

Also at club there was a large 6mm Sudan Wars game run by Lesley which I think he said was using a variant of Pony Wars rules.
A Field Of Glory 3 Ancients game as well (Late Roman vs Carolingian)
I failed to take any pics of either of these, must do better !,
Club also had its AGM and decision made to have an open day at September meeting with Lesley making us all feel very old with his desire to recruit new blood before we pass on
A admirable aim but I do think it will be hard to entice todays ‘oiks’ to take up Historical Wargaming (a niche within a niche especially in N.Ireland) but time will tell (if we are not all dead in meantime !)
Also tried to produce a ‘programme’ of games throughout year and I have offered (what was I thinking !?) to run a FOB game at end of February.
I was also almost ‘nominated’ as club bouncer/enforcer :-)

Friday, January 24, 2020

Field Of Battle - Sickles Salient at Gettysburg

Another game with Field Of Battle 2 (so my last game was last) this time at Stephens with an American Civil War scenario he had set up entitled 'Sickles Salient' from an action during Gettysburg around 'the Peach Orchard'.

Stephen picked FOB which was more than fine with me !
I selected to attack with Rebels as 1. am glutton for punishment and 2. a chance to blood first 4 Rebel units I have painted up.

Not much in way of house rules other than, when a unit that goes Out of Command in the open it is counted as being 'Prone' meaning Down1 when a target but cannot move forward at all.
Couple of tweaks to Musket and Rifled Musket ranges and Artillery otherwise pretty standard.

Scenario has most of Rebel artillery off-table so we just counted as always firing at Extreme Range (Stephen had all Artillery as C10 D6 but we changed it to C12 D6 during game as all Heavy Batteries).

Rebels had skilled deck with 1 extra Melee Card (Rebel Yell) and Union had Average deck with a Breach-loader card (as one unit so equipped).
Most troops average (C10 D6) but Rebels had one Crack Brigade (C10 D8) under Barksdale who survived the fray unlike historically.

I did manage to get one unit into the Peach Orchard but quickly driven out again and stymied every where else by musket volleys and Artillery (Stephen was lucky early on with Artillery re-loads and a re-shuffle), my Brigades on my right just too slow getting into action, an aspect of FOB that few if any sets emulate but which just rings true compared to historical accounts of unforeseen events/circumstances and expectations vis reality.
I so much prefer this to predictable standardized move rates and sequences of play, so much more exciting and plausible.
I do concede that for some it could seem that the game is playing them rather than them playing the game, but I think that is only until you play enough to fully understand the 'model' of the system.
You pays your money and takes your choice I guess but personally I prefer less game than too much gaminess (is that Gorgonzolla I smell !?) and when it comes down to it and find FOB just strikes right balance for me overall :-)

As always with FOB (I do sound like a stuck record) a great game that played fast and delivered an exciting game with a definite result in reasonable time frame (deducting our copious waffling about other rules/games/periods etc etc it was about 3 hours solid game play time).
No guesses for what that result was against the 'Dice Demon' (I think he can actually manipulate card draws as well !!!

My new units done okay (at least by my standards) with one unit being mentioned in dispatches for threatening enemy flank, standing up to numerous volleys and when charged whilst rolling a measly D4 it managed to roll a 4 and gasp ! .......shock ! ......... swoon ! ...... the dice demon rolled a 1 !!!!
Of course by this stage I had no Morale left so a insignificant victory (but one of which I shall remind him on occasion).

++ Sad Sack moment ++ 
Whilst waffling we did discuss that when moving figures, firing or charging/fighting, we don't just see toy soldiers on an abstract table with plastic trees and bits of felt or resin we 'see' a battle scene from a historical account or painting or a movie !!!
It is as I stated my form of 'role playing' (other than Doctors and Nurses of course), pure escapism or whatever and indeed it is a big part of why I play Wargames of all forms.
I am similarly engrossed/transported by Board Wargames and PC games.
This in addition to the joy of the competition of minds, dice rolling (not to be under-estimated as a source of euphoria or indeed despair !!) and the reading/researching/painting/collecting aspects of this great hobby (more like a life-style choice) and that is not to disregard the social interaction which ensues whether with face to face play or via the Internet (an awesome but time intensive aspect nowadays).

I suspect most if not all Wargamers 'suffer' from this affliction to a greater or lesser degree ?
Is it any wonder my wife thinks I am a big child at times ! :-)

Oh and tomorrow its UWS club time and Stephen and I will be playing a Napoleonic game using Bataille Empire, because why not as you are a long time in the ground !!

Rebel centre

Union ensconced in and around Peach Orchard

Union left flank

Rebels suffering from Artillery

Rebels approach Orchard

And suffering again

Advance in centre slowed by woods

Reserves on Rebel right slowly plod forward

Battle intensifies on my left (new units on far left) with 'heroes' in orchard flanking Union line but have gone 'Prone' under fire.

Pretty much undamaged Union lines

Rebel Regiment pushes into orchard, albeit temporarily

"Hurry the feck up !!" was the cry on right but fell on deaf ears

Union troops in wood look on unconcerned

Rebel losses mounting and so many units Prone/Out of Command that advance has now faltered

Note right wing still languishing too far back

Rebel high water mark (Union barely got wet really)

Pushed back out of orchard on right and stuck on Emittsburg road elsewhere

Fences proving a pain along road (half speed to cross and Up1 to stationary defender)

Reserves finally arrive on right but too bloody late

No headway at orchards in centre

Or on left

Rebel morale breaks and they quit the field.................

Stuck at stream (cost 1 Move segment to cross) and with Union troops intact would likely be a hiding to nothing.