Sunday, May 28, 2023

Field of Battle 3: SYW game at Ulster Wargames Society monthly meeting

I put on a Seven Years War game at club meeting using FOB3 and my 15mm SYW chaps.

I used an adapted scenario for Black Powder entitled 'The Morning Attack At Zorndorf' with Prussian initial attacks on Russians. Not much tweaking needed (really only for activation of Seydlitz force and Russian camp/baggage) and scenario played really well.

Prussians were commanded by Dave T and Russians by Dave B (my usual participants for FOB games) and this was a cracking game with 25 Prussian units (30 morale) facing 21 Russians (25 morale)

Seydlitz potent cavalry had to be activated (by rolling a D6 and scoring under the number of friendly Move cards played so not guaranteed in normal length game) but only they could cross the stream/ditch area.

Dave T deployed Seydlitz fairly far back as aware Russian guns could target them even when inert, but with only 2 batteries available to Russians this was unlikely. Russians deployed in long shallow line across the field and Prussians deployed with main strength on their right, no doubt hoping Seydlitz would activate early to cover left wing.

Prussians moved swiftly forward (I usually give attackers a Move card at start and initial Initiative) with several 3 segment moves including getting their Dragoon Brigade through the wood on the Prussian right.

Volleys rang out all along the line and the Prussian Grenadiers (6 battalions in total) hurled themselves into Close Combat (only they and Cavalry can immediate melee on Move cards).

But honours were fairly even as close range Russian volleys caused damage to advancing Prussians and whilst the Russians took several losses their line held. 

In fact on Russian right the Prussians (reflecting history) were dealt some severe reverses with 3 Musketeer units routing and this allowed Russians on this flank to push forward and threaten to out flank the Prussian center. 

"Where is Grouchy !?...oops....Seydlitz !?" was the cry.

However the Russian left wing suddenly crumbled under continued onslaught of Grenadiers and now Dragoons, who swept away the opposing Russian horse after emerging from the wood.

Russian army morale was soon in serous condition (although Prussian was far from unscathed) and Seydlitz was now activated forcing Russians to try to face this threat and dissipating their possible outflank.

Things went from bad to worse for Russians (so many rolls of 1 or 2 !!) and their entire left wing and most of their center were destroyed (including loss of Camp with minus 5 morale chits) which was not helped by presence of swamp to rear which 'auto' destroyed any unit routing into.

Russians were soon at zero army morale and indeed bleeding chits to Prussians, but they did manage to hold on their right and caused damage to Seydlitz Cuirassier squadrons.

But despite these heroic efforts an Army Morale card was turned (luckily only on 7th out of 8 cards) and the army failed the test and quit the field.

As always with FOB this was a fast playing and fun game full of action and excitement completed in around 4 hours with added bonus that we started bang on 1100hrs as per the historical encounter.

The battlefield from Russian right prior to unit deployments, swamp and wood on left with camp in center and 'Zabern Grund' on right

Indistinct pic showing late stages of game on Russian left with only a couple of Russian units left and triumphant Prussian Dragoons ready to sweep across the field

Further pic of same stage showing Russian advance on their right but now stymied by activation of Seydliz mounted wing crossing stream (Russian foot are facing left and right here). 

Russian right wing having to redeploy to face oncoming Cavalry

End phase as Russians totally destroyed on left and in center (note camp gone ie sacked) but Prussian heavy horse pushed back although Hussars moving downstream about to cross.

Also at club were another couple of games.

Andy put on another large (5-6 players (?) with lots of 15mm kit on table) Team Yankee game with British facing Soviets around a river crossing. 

Don't know how this turned out but did at one point hear a BAOR commander calling desperately for 'Broken Arrow' air strikes !

Phil and Leslie aided by Jeremy and Dave S played a couple of games of Lion Rampant using 28mm Welsh vs Saxon/Norman.

I did get to see good part of second game and Lion Rampant seems like a fun, light and playable, 'buckets of dice' type set.

Not sure Phil's 'Zulu stomp' style victory dance is an official part of system (it does however include optional 'Boasting' rules) but then it was after destroying outright (9 casualties on 6 figures) a unit of light horse with his Norman knights.

Friday, May 26, 2023

O Group - Cristot scenario

Had another outing for O Group with Stephen using the scenario included in rules, Cristot.

I commanded British and Stephen the Germans.

We failed to finish but again both enjoyed the rules felling they are a nice balance of complexity and period flavour, offering more depth than something like Rapid Fire but of course at cost in complexity and playing time.

A nice fit for our 15mm kit.

Some bits are still tad opaque (mainly in relation to terrain and LOS) to us but nothing unsolvable.

View of table prior to start from British right

All the action was concentrated on British right around a farm

Whereas it was quiet on British left as I did not push forward in this half of field

Pak40 ambushed from hill top killing a Sherman and a Firefly despite being subject to lots of HE direct and indirect

Overview from active flank where my reserve company later arrived

Friday, May 19, 2023

Quick update

Been busy with 'stuff' last couple of weeks so blog well down lost of priorities but did manage to get in a couple of games with Stephen.

Yesterday we had an outing with O Group which we have not played for awhile. Therefore it took a bit to get back into flow/mindset of system. Nothing inherently difficult just some different concepts and a good deal to re-assimilate. Enjoyable and whet our appetites to play again.

Scenario was from Normandy supplement 'Assault towards Hill 192' with US attacking Fallschirmjager near St Lo.

As always with initial turns of O Group not that much to see on table in terms of figures. 

Last week another outing with Soldiers of Napoleon (glutton for punishment) and despite ditching intimidate and extended line it still lacked much for me beyond the card system. At a push (ie for quick 'we have no time to prepare' points type game) I would play this set but much better sets available even if they require bit more prep. Lasalle 2 fits this quick set up bill much better for me.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Soldiers of Napoleon - French vs Russians 1813 (and a bit of farce)

We decided to give SON another outing today (Stephen a fan of the pick and mix points system) and we played a 3 Brigade (Large Division) 700pt game with Stephen as Russians and I as French.

We both had 2 Infantry Brigades and a Heavy Cavalry Brigade of Dragoons.

Oddly the Russian Dragoons are costed at 11pts per stand and the French (and all other nations) Dragoons are 13pts despite having identical stats, no idea why this is and we have found a couple of other similar point anomalies.

We both like the 'scenario' generation and deployments with cards, which yields a nice plausible situation for a 'balanced', quick pick up style game.

We got into initial turn pretty quickly but again ended up discussing the 'extended line' formation and its merits and demerits (can discern no historical basis for this amalgam of formations/effects) with us both feeling that we could take it or leave it as is but deciding for future games to dump this formation but retain the Light Infantry characteristic (with a 1pt reduction) to see if that sits better with us.

Russians had a couple of large (3 stand) batteries that thankfully rolled completely pants dice but they did score big with a Special Event card that allowed Skirmishers to deploy for free and shoot with hits of 2+ which yielded several hits on my central command of which I failed to save any via Discipline tests. My artillery was more effective but not devastatingly so.

However we came across one of the most farcical rules I have encountered in any historically based rule set in 48yrs of gaming (even beating the 'Broadsides' rule for Brit tanks in desert in Flames of War) namely: 'Cavalry Intimidation'. 

This allows Heavy Cavalry units (and Light Lancers) to use an order to Intimidate (via threat of charge/large horses/glint of lance or armour) any 2 (!!) units within 20" (!!) forcing them to pass 2 (!!) Discipline tests or suffer Disruptions. I thought it only applied to Infantry (as per Harass order) but it seemingly can be used against any unit even other Cavalry and even vs units in cover/buildings or in square with no mitigation to tests.

So with 3 Dragoon units in a Brigade I was able to essentially inflict 12 'hits' on enemy that caused 6 Disruptions !! 

This felt like my Cavalry were firing grapeshot/shotguns/fireballs and was so much more effective than any artillery battery (3-4 dice with round shot) and out-ranges musketry (which only fires out to 10") and this was followed on next enemy card by his 3 unit Dragoon Brigade doing exactly the same (kind of a no-brainer) causing 12 hits/tests of which 5 became Disruptions. With the way hits/Rallies operate in system this is pretty powerful effect in game with zero risk involved.

Mind you Prussian Landwehr Light Cavalry at 8pts per stand can do the same as classed as Lance armed (tad debatable they had training to wield efficiently ?) and also can use Harass vs deployed skirmishers. Indeed these lowly 'lancers' can apparently intimidate Carabiniers, Cuirassier, Old Guard Cavalry, Elite Foot, etc, etc.

We found this to be complete and utter pants (extended line issue seemed suddenly inconsequential) and we quickly decided that we would simply ban this daftness from further outings as games could degenerate into battles of cavalry intimidation rather than firing or fighting. No doubt it could be diluted/amended/mitigated but easier to just bin it.

We drew up a (small) set of amendments to try next game (including reducing cavalry effectiveness in open woods and enclosed fields) and whilst I am willing to try these out, if another issue arises I will likely bin the rules, which would be a pity in many regards especially the card deck order/event system.

I am all for simplicity and playability over needless complexity, but my inner Grognard gets rankled nowadays by anything I perceive as silly/gamey/cheesy especially if little/no historical basis or tenuous plausibility (or lack of designers explanation which at least gives one a basis to agree or disagree with) and a crusty old curmudgeon must draw the line somewhere, bah humbug applies.

Central French infantry brigade which included 3 Militia Bttns to rear (thankfully being out of range/sight they are protected from intimidation as they have rather poor Discipline level)

French right wing with Italian infantry Brigade

The opposing Dragoon Brigades on French left whose powers of intimidation became the stuff of legend !!