Wednesday, 27 February 2019

A Seven Years War Grid Campaign

GENERAL OUTLINE AND VICTORY CONDITIONS

This game requires two players and an umpire. Battles will be fought using house Piquet Rules for the SYW.

This simple fictional Seven Years War campaign will be fought by the forces of Prussia and the Austro-Russian Alliance. The basic cause for each side is territorial conquest and military domination. To achieve victory the ‘National Will’ of the enemy must be reduced to zero.

The area over which the campaign will be waged is a grid of 35 squares, five squares wide and seven squares deep. At the start of the campaign Prussian territory is the northern three rows and the Austro-Russian territory is the southern three rows. The central row of squares is the border between the two sides under no overall control and contested – to prevent any doubt, the central row is friendly territory to both sides.

Prussia starts the campaign with 100 National Will points. The Austro-Russian Alliance starts the campaign with 90 National Will points, but they have more troops. 

Each friendly territorial square is worth a certain number of National Will points. If a friendly territorial square is lost the side randomly loses 5 – 10 (D6+4) National Will points and randomly regains 5 – 10 if it is retaken. If the objective is on the enemy baseline row of squares the objective’s value, when lost, will be doubled. Captured enemy squares do not become friendly territory, they are merely under occupation.

At the start of the campaign an objective bonus (of 5 – 10 National Will points) will be put into one square in each row of squares, including the central one, by the umpire. The players ‘capital square’ will always be the one on the player’s baseline; the others will be randomly determined. Furthermore, each player places two objectives of his own. These must be placed in different rows in uncontested enemy territory. Once all of the objectives have been placed the umpire will declare the ones he has placed to both players – the extra value of these squares is common knowledge. The objectives placed by the players will remain secret, known only to them and the umpire, until they are taken.

National Will can be expended in other ways but, in any event, when a side reaches zero it will sue for peace at any price – it loses the war.


CAMPAIGN EFFORT & POSTURE

At the start of each campaign move, each player will submit written orders for each of his armies. These indicate how each army will employ its efforts and what posture the army will assume. The umpire will actively adjudicate the actions of both players to determine what happens keeping, where necessary, the players informed as to ‘in turn’ options.

Each army can exert effort three times in each turn. In the written orders the priority of effort must be stated in sequence – primary, secondary and tertiary. The success or failure of each effort will be tested for in turn and, if the primary effort fails secondary effort will be expended to accomplish it and the tertiary effort will become impossible that turn, and so on. To be clear, the primary effort must be accomplished before the object of secondary effort can be undertaken, the secondary must be accomplished before any tertiary object of effort. 

Once the success of effort has been decided, all objects of effort occur simultaneously.

The chances of success of effort are wholly dependent on the ability of the army’s commanding general. Every time a general tests he will roll D12. He will succeed if he rolls 5 or more. 
  • Superior generals add two to their roll; skilled generals add one; the roll is not adjusted if the general is average; poor generals deduct one; abysmal deduct two. 
  • The nature of the starting square, or square to be moved out of, will be effected by the terrain modifier of the square (range minus 1 to +1) and possibly by the presence of a significant river, or other terrain feature, depending on the object of effort. 
  • Effort is also effected by the presence of enemy in the same starting square and if the army is tired out after battle, when the general deducts one from their dice roll.
There are seven ways to expend effort.

March:

The army will attempt to move from one square into an adjacent square, moving orthogonally or diagonally with each effort expended. Multiple marches can be carried out in a single turn as primary, secondary and tertiary efforts. The route of travel must be clearly stated.

Although an army may attempt to move up to three squares, if the army attempts to move two squares it cannot adopt a cautious posture, and if it attempts to move three squares it must adopt an aggressive posture.

Armies moving three squares move one square first; then armies moving two squares move; then armies moving three squares; then armies moving one; then two; then three (order of marching is - 3,2,3,1,2,3). Where one army is out-scouted it will move second to armies that are not out-scouted moving a similar number of squares. Armies cannot be ordered to march into the square they started in without leaving it first.

Where opposing armies start in the same square, an army's movement is severely restricted. Any movement must be retrograde, orthogonally or diagonally, and towards the army's baseline. There are two exceptions: When staring in a river square, an orthogonal sideways move is allowed. Where the enemy armies in the square have been out manoeuvred (see below) the manoeuvring army can ignore the restriction.

Where, at any point in the turn, an army moves to occupy the same square as an enemy army, or where they move simultaneously into the same square, a battle may ensue (See Posture). Further movement from the square, except as a result of withdrawal, will cease for the turn. Note that this does mean that armies moving quickly may fix an army in a square before it gets to move (however, the army does not count as pinned).

It is worth noting here, that it is entirely possible to end a turn with opposing forces in the same square: A square represents a large enough area for opposing forces to coexist therein. 

Scout:

The cavalry in the army will attempt to scout two squares from the start square. One of these can include the start square, or be adjacent to it, or contiguous with it. Scouting can be carried out orthogonally, diagonally, or a combination of the two. Scouting can never go beyond a river square unless the river square is the starting square or it is occupied by a friendly army. The square numbers to be scouted must be stated in the order to be scouted.

Cavalry brigades have a scouting factor (each hussar regiment in the brigade has a scouting factor of 3, dragoon 2, and Cossack regiment 1). The sum of brigade scouting factors are totalled for the army as a whole. These are added to the result of D6 to give a scouting result. An opposing D12 is rolled and added to any screening factor (see below). and the numbers are compared. One test is carried out per square.

  • If the scouting result is lower, and 1 was rolled on the D6 no enemy presence will be reported. If the scouting army moves into the square in the same turn it cannot withdraw from battle or attack. If a screen was present further scouting ends and further squares are also reported as empty, the screen is not reported. This result represents a total failure to gather intelligence.
  • If the scouting result is lower any enemy presence will be discovered but not its strength. If a screen was present further scouting ends, the screen is reported.
  • If the scouting result is equal, the number of enemy armies in the square is discovered along with their combined brigade total. If a screen was present further scouting ends, the screen is reported.
  • If the scouting result is higher, the number of enemy armies in the square, plus the number of brigades in each army is discovered. The 'square' is out-scouted and attempts to attack will or withdraw will receive a +1 bonus.
  • If the scouting result is higher and double, the number of enemy armies in the square, plus the number and nature of all the brigades plus supporting artillery batteries is discovered. The 'square' is out-scouted and attempts to attack or withdraw will receive a +1 bonus.
It is worth noting here that where two or more opposing armies end a turn occupying the same campaign square, an automatic 'equal' scouting result is applicable to both sides unless a better scouting result was achieved in the turn.

Where squares are successfully scouted, the umpire will report on all activity in the square for the turn. E.g. Two squares are scouted. The scouting report might read: Two armies are in square 12 with a total of 8 brigades, a third army left the square during the turn with 4 brigades, no screens reported (obviously an 'equal' result). Square 7 is empty (either nothing is there or the result was lower and a one was rolled). If the square was 'out scouted' the detail of the report would be greater, including where the third army went.

Screen: 

The cavalry and light infantry in the army will attempt to screen it from enemy scouting. Each regiment of cavalry and light infantry unit in the army has a screening factor of 1. These are added together to give the combined screening factor of the army. Where effort is successfully exerted to screen, this is deducted from the enemy scouting factor (see above) scouting the army's square or beyond.

Manoeuvre:

An army may attempt, at any point in the turn, to out manoeuvre any potential enemy in a square, or seek to gain advantages from the terrain. There are two possible objects of effort by manoeuvre. 

The army can can flip the square's battle-map, turning it though 180 degrees (See Campaign Maps below). The map will remain flipped until another successful effort is made to flip it again.

Where the army starts the turn in the same square as the enemy, the army can attempt to out manoeuvre them and make marching 'behind' them (orthogonally or diagonally) possible. Such orders must be the primary effort and they can only be achieved with an aggressive posture. If the effort fails, the orders for subsequent forward movement will also fail (see March above). 

Re-supply:

Following a battle all armies, due to a depletion of supplies and physical exhaustion, will be 'tired out' until resupplied. Successful effort to resupply an army will incur a cost in National Will points equal to one point per brigade:
  • All troops in a tired out army will roll for unit quality in future battles with a minus 1 adjustment. 
  • All rolls for campaign effort by a tired out army will be made with a minus 1 adjustment. 
  • The effects of not resupplying an army are cumulative in effect and cost.
Armies cannot be re-supplied if an enemy army is in the square directly behind the army (i.e. orthogonally adjacent and between the army and it's baseline).

Reinforce:

Following a battle brigades will assess their casualties and receive a negative adjustment to their unit quality rolls unless reinforced with fresh recruits. Successful effort to reinforce the brigades in an army will incur a cost in National Will points equal to one point per negative adjustment per unit in the brigade. Players may, on successfully exerting effort to reinforce, reinforce as they see fit.

To assess the negative adjustment to battle quality divide the number of Unit Integrity points the brigade lost in battle by the number of units therein, rounding fractions. 

  • A brigade of four units loses six Unit Integrity; 6 divided by 4 is 1.5, so the brigade will receive a -2 unit quality adjustment the next time it fights. 
  • A brigade of three units loses four Unit Integrity; 4 divided by 3 is 1.333, so the brigade will receive a -1 unit quality adjustment the next time it fights. 

Armies cannot be re-supplied if an enemy army is in the square directly behind the army (i.e. orthogonally adjacent and between the army and it's baseline).

All quality adjustments are cumulative. Brigades that reach a casualty based quality adjustment of -5 or more are classified as smashed and immediately removed from the army roster and they cannot return. Artillery batteries are treated in a similar manner except that they can be replaced.

Reorganise:

Where two or more friendly armies occupy the same square, or where one army wishes to split up, effort can be exerted to reorganise the brigades within the armies concerned. To reorganise, the armies concerned in the proposed reorganisation must order a reorganisation (as primary, secondary or tertiary effort) and the senior army involved in the reorganisation must successfully exert effort. Upon success the player may, within the bounds of the general army rules, reorganise the component brigades as he sees fit. Reorganisation will not effect any quality adjustments applicable on the brigades.

Posture & Contacts:


Each army's orders must include a posture to be taken in the face of the enemy. This can be 'Aggressive', 'Ready', or 'Cautious'. Posture effects the way two or more opposing armies will interact when occupying the same square.

Where two or more armies end a turn in the same square the players will be asked to make a decision about what they wish each army in the square to do. 

The options are to stand in defence (the default position), or attempt to attack (where an army is ordered to attack, the target of the attack must be stated), or attempt to withdraw. If the army fails to attack or withdraw it will stand in defence. 

Where a player wishes an army to attack or withdraw he must roll d12 adjusted by the following factors. On a roll of 5 plus the army will carry out the players wishes.

Commanding general's quality +2 to -2
Square successfully outscouted this turn +1
River square & attacking -1
River square & withdrawing +1
Aggressive posture attacking +1
Aggressive posture withdrawing -2
Cautious posture attacking -2
Cautious posture withdrawing +1
Cavalry only army withdrawing +2
Supporting brigades -2

Where an army successfully tests to withdraw no battle will take place. Any army successfully rolling to attack the withdrawing army will stand in defence. Withdrawal must take place, orthogonally or diagonally, towards the side's baseline, into a friendly held square, or an enemy square held 'under occupation'. The exception is on the player's baseline, where an orthogonal move towards the capital is allowed. Where no square is available withdrawal is impossible.

Where one army attacks and one army defends an 'Attack Vs Defence' battle will take place. The defender's deployment zone will be 108" wide and  24" deep, located centrally on his baseline (leaving empty flank zones 18" wide). The attacker's deployment zone is 18" deep with no flank zones.

Where both armies attack an 'Encounter' battle will take place. Both armies deployment zones will be 108" wide and  18" deep, located centrally on their baselines (leaving empty flank zones 18" wide).

Where two or more armies successfully attack a single army the player must choose which army will carry out the attack and which ones will support. Supporting armies use the supporting army modifier to determine if they can add up to two brigades each to an attacking force (to a maximum of nine fielded brigades) when: A Reinforcements Stratagem card is automatically added to the ACD, replacing a card given by normal divisor rules. Each supporting brigade will roll for timing and entry points prior to battle. Turn of arrival is determined by rolling D6 (on a 1 or 6 they will fail to arrive) arriving on the first applicable move card following the appearance, in the arrival turn, of the Stratagem card. Table edge of arrival is determined by a D8 - 1 left edge, 8 right edge, 2 - 7 baseline (reading left to right for arrival position). Each arriving brigade will add a characterisation card to the players morale chip draw on its arrival (cards with no number read as zero morale chips). 

When in defence, support is received in the same way as when attacking except that supporting brigades will always arrive on the side's baseline (no flank edge arrivals). 

Notes: 
  • Rolls for applicable reinforcements will be made by the umpire and player concerned in secret. 
  • If their are no other friendly armies in the square, reinforcement stratagem card results are ignored and re-rolled for. 
  • Due to the antagonism between the two allied commander-in-chiefs, neither will support the other with 'national brigades'.
Where opposing armies stand on the defensive they will stand in place, no battle will take place and they will start the next campaign turn in the same square.

DECIDING BATTLE OUTCOMES AND POST BATTLE ASSESSMENTS


THE MAPS


As stated earlier, the campaign map is a grid of thirty five squares. Any number of brigades and armies can occupy a square at the end of a turn. Each square on the campaign grid has a terrain modifier which effects all efforts being carried out from the square.

Some squares have a river modifier. River square modifiers only effect movement from (unless the army has a pontoon train) the square, scouting and contacts. Scouting cannot be carried through to squares beyond a river unless the river square is occupied by a friendly army at the start of the turn.

Each of the 35 squares has a unique table-top terrain map. This shows the table layout that will be used for any battle taking place in the square regardless of the direction of approach. Each map is for a 12 x 6 table. 

The arrow on the map does not point north, it merely indicates which side will be occupied by the Prussians and which side by the Austro-Russian Alliance. All maps are initially set with the arrow pointing toward Prussia - the Prussian baseline. Maps can be flipped, so that the arrow points toward the Austro-Russian Alliance, by rotating the map through 180 degrees (left becomes right, top becomes bottom) by an army that chooses to expend effort manoeuvring in the square (see above). Once flipped, maps stay flipped until a subsequent ‘manoeuvring’ to flip the square takes place. 

It is important to note that regardless of how armies entered a square, if the army withdraws it must do so towards it's own baseline. Likewise, with supply and reinforcement, the square behind the army is always the one adjacent and orthogonally between the army and its baseline.


MILITARY FORCES

Each side has a ‘force’. This is commanded by a C-in-C, the player.

Each side’s force has been divided into brigades. Brigades are listed in their order of seniority. Infantry brigades always outrank cavalry. The composition of brigades cannot be changed during the campaign. Each brigade is commanded by the senior colonel in the brigade - titled brigadier. Brigadiers are replaced only when they become casualties. They are replaced by the next senior colonel in the brigade.

Brigades are organised, by the player, into armies. An army must be at least two, and up to seven, brigades strong. The largest army must be commanded by the C-in-C. The C-in-C can never voluntarily have less brigades under his command than any other army commander in the force. All other armies are commanded by the senior brigadier in that army - titled general. Whilst he assumes that role his brigade will be commanded by his brigade’s second in command.

The exception to these rules is for the Russian component of the Austro-Russian Alliance. This component, of two infantry brigades plus Cossacks and artillery, cannot be split up and it always has its own C-in-C. The Russian C-in-C can never serve in the same army as the Austrian C-in-C; he will always take overall command of any army to which his force is assigned. 

All commanders have a rating. This will be Superior +2; Skilled +1; Average 0; Poor -1; Abysmal -2.

Force artillery is assigned to armies by the player in any proportion he wishes.

Each force has one pontoon train which can be assigned to an army by the player.

At the start of the campaign, all armies must deploy in their baseline row of squares.

Note: For this campaign I intend to use my entire collection of Prussians and Austrians with a contingent of Russians, assigning each unit to a particular brigade. This will allow me to follow the activities of specific units throughout the campaign, perhaps awarding brownie points for gallant behaviour and ordering the odd officer to be cashiered or shot in the write up. It's something - being rather 'old school', sorry I meant to say traditional - I don't usually do but, it might be fun.


Note: The Prussian force is rather smaller than the Austro-Russian force - 50 units to 72. This will be made up for by the quality of the Prussian force in both basic unit quality adjustments, commander ability and the army sequence decks used. Furthermore, in all battles, the Austro-Russian forces will use a divisor of 4 for their Army Characterisation Deck card draw - the Prussians will use a divisor of 3.



THE PRUSSIAN FORCE

The Prussian force comprises eight brigades of infantry (24 units representing 47 battalions) six brigades of cavalry (20 units representing 100 squadrons), six batteries of guns (representing 120 pieces) and a pontoon train (capable of bridging any river). The force commander is King Frederick II.

The army will use the early SYW sequence deck, unit quality adjustments, etc.


Infantry Brigades

1st Infantry Brigade: Commander is Kanitz (average). IR 2 (Kanitz); IR 25 (Falkenstein average); IR 15, the Garde (The King). 

2nd Infantry Brigade: Commander is Prince Ferdinand (average). IR 34 (Ferdinand); SG VI (Plotz, skilled); CG 8/46 Billerbeck.

3rd Infantry Brigade: Commander is Schwerin (superior). IR 24 (Schwerin); IR(f) 40 (Kreytzen, average); IR(f) 49 (Dericke).

4th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Reuter (average). IR 4 (Reuter); IR 29 (Schultz, average); IR(f) 46 (Bulow).

5th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Brunswick (average). IR 5 (Brunswick); IR 19 (Brandenberg, poor); IR 23 (Sydow); Jagers Zu Fuss (Scharpe).

6th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Lehwaldt (skilled). IR 14 (Leywaldt);  IR(f) 37 (Kursell, skilled); GR 3 (Helleman).

7th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Winterfeldt (skilled). IR 1 (Winterfeldt)IR 10 (Panwitz, average); CG 29/31 (Ostenreich).

8th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Mollendorf (superior). CG 9/10 (Mollendorf); SG IV (Lossow, average).


Cavalry Brigades

1st Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Prince Henry (average). CR 2 (Prince Henry) CR 11 the Liebgarde (Pennevaire, average); CR 13 the Garde du Corps (The King).

2nd Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Seydlitz (superior). CR 8 (Sydlitz); CR 10 (Katzler, average); DR 6 double strength regiment (Mollendorf).

3rd Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Krokow (average). CR 1 (Krokow); CR 5 (Schwedt average); CR 7 (Driesen); DR 11 (Stechow).

4th Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Bayreuth (skilled). DR 5 (Bayreuth); HR 2 double strength regiment (Zieten, skilled).

5th Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Langermann (average). DR 8 (Langermann); HR 5 double strength regiment (Lossow, skilled).

6th Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Normann (skilled). DR 1 (Normann); HR 7 double strength regiment (Malachowski, average).


Artillery and services 

Three batteries of heavy guns; two batteries of field guns; one battery of howitzers; one pontoon train.

Note: IR Infantry Regiment, IR(f) Infantry Regiment (Fusiliers), CG Converged Grenadiers, SG Standing Grenadiers, GR Garrison Regiment, CR Cuirassier Regiment, DR Dragoon Regiment, HR Hussar Regiment. The Garde, Garde du Corps and Liebgarde are all classed as 'guard quality' units.



THE AUSTRO-RUSSIAN FORCE

The Austrian force comprises eight brigades of infantry (30 units representing 52 battalions) six brigades of cavalry (20 units representing 100 squadrons), six batteries of guns (representing 120 pieces) and a pontoon train (capable of bridging any river). The force commander is Leopold Daun (average).

The army will use the SYW sequence deck, unit quality adjustments, etc., but will use an army characterisation deck divisor of 4. Where Austrian forces are attached to the Russians they will use the Russian sequence deck for early SYW.


Austrian Infantry Brigades

1st Infantry Brigade: Commander is Lothringen (poor). IR 1 (Lothringen); IR(H) 2 (Esterhazy, average); IR 3 (Lorraine); CG (red, vacant). 

2nd Infantry Brigade: Commander is Loudon (average). IR 29 (Loudon); IR 50 (Harsch, average); IR(H) 31 (Haller).

3rd Infantry Brigade: Commander is Lacy (skilled). IR 22 (Lacy); IR 28 (Wied, average); IR 47 (Harrach); CG (blue, vacant).

4th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Browne (skilled). IR 36 (Browne); IR 41 (Bayreuth, poor); IR 59 (Daun); CG (Hungarian, vacant).

5th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Wolfenbuttel (average). IR 10 (Wolfenbuttel); IR 12 (Botta, poor); IR 14 (Salm); IR(H) 37 (Siskovics).

6th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Arenberg (average). IR 21 (Arenberg);  IR23 (Baden, average); IR 42 (Gaisruck).

7th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Scherzer (skilled). Karlstadter Grenzers (3 battalions)

8th Infantry Brigade: Commander is Mercy (average). Slavonisch Grenzers (3 battalions)



Austrian Cavalry Brigades 

1st Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Serbelloni (average). CR 12 (Serbelloni); CR 21 (Trautmansdorf, average); CR 25 (Zerbst); DR 1, elite regiment (Erzherzog).

2nd Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Palffy (average). CR 8 (Palffy); CR 14 (O'Donell, average); CR iii (Panowski); DR 10, elite regiment (Kolowrat).

3rd Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Pfalz (skilled). CR 23 (Pfalz); CR 29 (Bretlach, average); CR 7 (Driesen); DR 6 (Liechtenstein); DR iii (Althann).

4th Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Gotha (superior). DR 28 (Gotha); DR 31 (Lowenstein, skilled); HR 2 (Franz Stephan).

5th Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Wurtemberg (average). DR 5 (Wurtemberg); HR 11 (Nadasdy, skilled).

6th Cavalry Brigade: Commander is Esterhazy (skilled). HR 24 (Esterhazy); HR 30 (Baranyay, average); HR 32 (Szechenyi).


Artillery and services 

Three batteries of heavy guns; two batteries of field guns; one battery of howitzers; one pontoon train.


The Russian Contingent

Commander is Villim Fermor (Poor).

1st Brigade: Commander is Uvarov (average). IR Schusselberg (Uvarov); IR Nevski ; IR Riazanski; GR 1. 

2nd Brigade: Commander is Leontyev (average). IR Novgorodski; IR Butyrski; IR 2nd Moskovski; GR 4.

Artillery and Cossacks: Two batteries of howitzers. 4 Regiments of Don Cossacks.

Note: IR Infantry Regiment, IR(H) Infantry Regiment (Hungarian), CG Converged Grenadiers, GR Grenadier Regiment, CR Cuirassier Regiment, DR Dragoon Regiment, HR Hussar Regiment.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Different types of built up areas

When one is creating 'built up areas' the obvious always springs to mind - a shop, an inn, a house, a church, etc. But, sooner or later the list runs out and you end up making more of the same.

A couple of years ago I was a player in a Blucher game put on by Dr. Ken over in Menston. One of the terrain pieces was a small graveyard. I thought, that looks good, and I stored the thought. 

Now I have one of my own. As 'built up areas' go this was a very simple piece to make and that is partly why I'm advertising it here. Of course, it's more a family plot than a full blown graveyard, but that's the nature of war game's terrain, is it not.



The walls are 5 mm foam board with balsa strips added to give the angles for the Will's pantile tops - these were added to make the piece a little more interesting. As always, these days, the wall texture is heavy body artist's acrylic (believe it or not, emerald green because that's all I had). The walls were then painted with emulsion paint, ink washed and dry brushed with more emulsion paint. The doors / gates are balsa wood.

It's based on 4 mm plywood and the ground texture is the usual sand and grit rubbish, ink washed and dry-brushed with emulsion paint.

The gravestones are MDF on pennies, or balsa wood tombs. BTW, I think buying the odd pack of multi sized balsa wood sold in craft shops is a good idea; for a couple of pounds its a useful thing to have in your bits box.



Graveyards are a very simple building block, but you can only have one! I did this one to be multi-period. It should fit in well with my Peninsular and Italian Wars collections. It will also fit in with my SYW at a pinch. Removing the gravestones an tombs it can be a walled garden or small high walled orchard.

A client recently asked about the view from my 4th floor studio (and wargame room) window - and it's not a bad one. As this is a terrain post I thought I'd share it with you. This pic (taken today) looks out, north west, towards Middleton on the other side of the River Wharfe. The view from the other side of my house is dominated by the Cow and Calf Rocks and Ilkley Moor but, this is the view from the 'office'.




Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Haystacks

The first thing I have to say about this post is that the base of it belongs to Pat over at Wargaming With Silver Whistle. His simple solution to making haystacks, given I had the materials in house, meant this was the way to go. 

Pat, if this was your idea, you are a regular war gaming genius.

Obviously, me being me, I decided on another way of putting haystacks together, but Pat's post was the germ of the idea. This is how I did them. I made 12 haystacks with the materials and tools described.

  • A six inch by four inch piece of copra doormat.
  • Some off cuts of one inch thick insulation foam board (a strip about 1" wide and 12" long).
  • Basing board (I used 2mm MDF)
  • PVA glue
  • Paint 
  • A Stanley knife
  • Big scissors
  • A spatula (I used a one use disposable plastic cup stirrer)
  • A mixing dish (I used a blister pack)
  • Basing scatter materials.


First I cut out some 'short dowels' using inch thick insulation foam. As you can see, these do not need to be cut perfectly circular. I also cut several thin strips of copra doormat.
The doormat needs to be cut into thin strips so that the fibres can be cut off with scissors. Once the fibres are cut off a little time needs to be spent removing thick bits, and tightly wound bits, of copra. Wound copra can usually be 'shredded' by counter-winding between one's fingers. It takes a few minutes to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
Next I mixed a heap of cut copra with medium quality PVA.  It's best to start with a good deal of glue, mixing in the copra strands gradually.
The messiest job comes next. You take a lump of glue mixed copra and roll it between the palms of your hands to create a loose ball. This ball is then placed on top of the foam dowel like a hat. I didn't rely on the glue in the copra for this to stick; I added a big dollop of glue to the top of each dowel before placing the hat on.
Using a spatula, plastic or metal, shape the copra hat into a dome shape that doesn't stick out everywhere. Once this step is done the 'hat' is left to dry. Whilst drying, cut out the basing. I used 2mm MDF cut into irregular shapes.
Another messy job, not quite so messy, is carried out next. PVA glue is applied liberally, very liberally, to the sides of the dowel. Copra is then placed on using ones fingers, pressed quite firmly so that the glue comes through the fibres.
At that point, add more copra, then roll the dowel between the palms of your hands so that the results of your sticking are 'round'. Whilst wet, rub the stacks bottom onto the basing board so that the haystack will sit flat. Then add a dollop of PVA to fix it in place.
What I did next, to personal taste, was add a shallow skirt to the bottom of the stack using PVA soaked (as per the hat) copra, again teased into shape with a plastic spatula. At this point, using some of the cut down mat strips,I added a few tufts to the bases.
When everything was dry, and on top of a radiator this doesn't take that long, I undercoated in emulsion.
Then I ink washed with well watered (5:1) acrylic ink to give depth.
Next I dry brushed with with a few layers of ever lightening craft acrylic (yellows) and emulsion paint (deep magnolia).

When dry, I gave the stacks a hair cut to tidy them up a bit. Some might like the ragged nature of the stacks before the haircut but I didn't - my stacks are neat and tidy.
Lastly, I based with my usual sand and grit combo, inked and dry brushed, and finished with some flock (in this case dead-fall from the trees purchased from Andy over at Last Valley - I throw nothing, not even tree litter, away). 

Voila: Twelve haystacks. 

At a guess they took about twenty minutes each to make and cost less than a couple of pounds in materials all told.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Carry On Camping

Shortly after Christmas I was searching on various web sites for some new pavilions to go with my Italian Wars collection (and at a pinch, my Crusades stuff). During my searches I went to Renedra Ltd. 

Although they didn't have the pavilions I wanted, I noticed that their 'Dog Tents' were being sold at half price (£2.50 for four). Heads up and fill your boots!

An immediate change of plan was required: Tents to make a small camp for my horse and musket collections. 

I'm not up on tent lore, and I rather think that most other gamers are in the same boat. I'm not exactly sure what kind of tents were used in the SYW, or for that matter during the Napoleonic Wars either. However, from pictures I've seen, I do know two things: The ridge tents in military camps were set up in neat lines and, they all look the same to me.  

I chose to buy four packs of dog tents and a pack of larger ridge tents - total cost (inc. postage) £21. This would give me four rows of five tents; a row of four dog tents for the rank and file with a larger tent at one end of each row for the 'officers / NCOs'.

Following a quick undercoat with white spray paint I used household emulsion to paint the tents medium grey; I dry brushed light grey; I finished with a couple of layers of dry brushed pure white; I picked out some of the creases with grey paint; I painted the tent pegs dark brown highlighted with mid brown.

Whilst the coats of paint on the tents were drying, I made the bases (each 80 mm wide and 240 mm long) using 2 mm thick MDF. 

I marked out where the tents would stand on the bases with a pencil and glued fine sand on these spaces (so the tents would have somewhere flat to sit); I sand and gritted around the fine sand areas with coarser materials (sand, ground oyster shell and Tesco's 'orange / pink' coloured granular dust free cat litter - which is fantastic stuff for rendering 28 mm rocks); I ink washed the bases (using burnt umber ink, 1 part ink to 4 parts water); I dry brushed the bases with household emulsion paint (a deep sand colour, followed by a light beige). 

When the tents were finished, and dry, I glued them onto the bases. Finally, I flocked with coarse turf (Woodland Scenics burnt grass mixed with yellow grass).

This is what they came out like. Not a bad for a Saturday afternoon's pottering whilst listening to the football. I feel a scenario coming on......





Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Battle of Novara 6th June 1513 - a scenario

This will not be the first time we have re-fought this battle. Indeed, it's not even the first time will have re-fought it using our house rules Hell Broke Loose. However, the set up is different, especially with regards to the placement of the Landsknechts. 

The game also has a few more troops in use than before. To enhance the visual spectacle without increasing the number of units I'm using 50% more stands per unit (e.g. a four stand unit is six stands strong). I have chosen a figure scale of 1:40 and a dollop of fudge.

The historical background is a cut and paste job from the original scenario. Although the army facing the French was ostensibly in the employ of Massimiliano Sforza I have called it Swiss, as the Swiss seem to have called the tune. 

The order of battle and scenario notes are fresh, and I've put them together with notes about why I have chosen to do the set up the way I have and what fudges I've chosen to use.

A Short Historical Background

In 1512, following the Battle of Ravenna, France somehow failed to capitalise on her victory. In fact, the campaign proved to be a disaster, and she lost Milan. In mid May 1513, Louis XII of France dispatched an army, under the command of La Tremouille, over the Alps to retake his lost duchy. 

By early June, much of the duchy, including Milan itself, had been retaken, and Tremouille had moved to besiege Novara (the duchy’s second city) where the duchy’s new, Swiss backed duke, Massimiliano Sforza, was holed up with 4000 Swiss. 

Shortly after the French invested Novara a Swiss army arrived to its relief. On their approach La Tremouille, not wishing to be caught in his siege lines, withdrew his army. At nightfall, the dispersed units of the French army made camp around the village of Trecate. Unexpectedly, the Swiss did not tarry after their long march to Novara. They linked up with the garrison there and immediately followed up the French as they withdrew. Using local guides they made their way, in the dark, to within striking distance of the French army. Just before dawn, they attacked.

The attack began with skirmish between Swiss ‘enfants perdus’ and French pickets in the village of Trecate. La Tremouille, who had taken a billet in the village, narrowly escaped capture. But, the Swiss skirmishers did not follow up this attack. It was a feint, and their skirmishers withdrew to a wood that lay within shooting distance of Trecate’s houses from where they kept up a noisy fire. 

The alarm had been sounded and French troops, bleary eyed and disorientated, were called to stand-to. They had no time to re-doploy to face their attackers – the Swiss were everywhere upon them.

This is where this scenario begins.

The Battlefield

I have set up the battle on a 12 x 6 table. 



The battlefield is dominated by the town of Trecate. This small town (located at 45 25 58 N, 8 44 17 E) lies about six miles east of Novara. Oman describes it as being sited on rising ground and that is how I have set it; in fact the ground only falls away gently to the south, the approaches being across a dead flat plain from other directions. The whole town counts as (type III) rough terrain and heavy cover. Cavalry may operate on the roads and in the square but not in other parts of the town. 

I have chosen to place the outskirts of Romentino at the extreme northern end of the table. This lies about two miles from Trecate and is useful as a boundary to the battlefield. It is not necessary for the scenario, the table edge would suffice.

East of the Trecate, between it and Novara, and within arquebus shot, there is a large wood. This wood helped to screen the advance of the Swiss from from the French when they marched from Novara. It counts as (type III) rough terrain and heavy cover. 

To the north of the town there is an expanse of boggy ground. The nature of this ground is contested. Tremouille used it as a reason for not supporting his Landsknechts with his heavy cavalry, however, Robert de Bouillon managed to lead his cavalry across the marshy ground in support of his son Florange. I have chosen to make this ground a patchwork of different terrain; areas of 'solid bog' pieces are impassable; the area marked with tufts represent ground that looks worse than it is - it counts as (type II) rough terrain for movement on odd rolls, otherwise (type I) open terrain. It does not provide cover.

To the south of the town is the French camp. For game purposes it is bounded by the walls extending from the south east quarter of Trecate. To French troops it counts as open terrain and does not provide cover. After its French defenders quit the camp the Swiss troops started to plunder it; I think the simplest way to represent this, whilst preventing a French rule lawyer from using the camp as a tool to stop the Swiss, is to say that any Swiss troops, fully in the camp, treat it as (type III) rough terrain for movement purposes - they can't move on odd rolls and move at half rate on even rolls.

There are two large cornfields on the table. These were placed to cover the approach of the main Swiss column and the flanking force sent to attack the French camp. Oman says that standing crops helped to conceal the approach of the Swiss and caused the French artillery to fire high. Consequently, the fields provide light cover vs fire.

The French



For this scenario I'm going to heavily penalise the French in three ways. This, I believe, is the only way to give the Swiss a fighting chance of performing as they did historically whilst still giving the French a fighting chance. 

Tremouille, regardless of former glories, must be rated as a poor commander. His lack of initiative and direction severely effected the French response to the surprise Swiss attack. Consequently, the French will use a D8 sequence deck and army die.

I've decided to assign army characterisation cards rather than deal them out randomly, and the French do not do well. The French are due 6 cards from the characterisation deck: they get 36 morale chips [5,5,6,6,7,7]. 

Finally, the French are deployed not fully prepared to meet the Swiss attack. The French are deployed in five commands. Four of these commands are historical, the fifth has been used to split the French gendarmerie into two commands to allow Robert de Bouilon to act independently of Tremouille and with more panache.

The French order of battle comprises 1,000 lances (about 3000 heavy cavalry); 1,000 light cavalry, 4,000 Gascon and Navarrese crossbowmen; 6000 Landsknecht; well provided artillery train.


C-in-C: Louis de La Tremouille: D8 motivation die. 

Commanding 500 lances. 

Three units of French Gendarmes. 

These units start the game vexed [surprised], unarmed and unformed. 

They are not counted as armoured unless they use the first Formation Change card to arm (at which point they can remove the 'broken wheel' counter). If they choose to do this they cannot change formation on the same card. 

Unformed troops present rear in all directions until they change formation on a Formation Change card. 


Robert de Bouillon: D10 motivation die. 

Commanding 500 lances.

Three units of French Gendarmes.  

These units start the game vexed [surprised], unarmed and unformed. (See notes above).

If Bouillon takes personal command of a unit of Gendarmes it becomes elite whilst he leads it. He can use this ability once in the game. It represents his attempts to save his sons serving with the Landsknechts.


Louis de Beaumont: D8 motivation die. 

Commanding 4000 Gascon and Navarrese crossbowmen.

Four units of French crossbowmen. 

Oman describes these troops as being "imperfectly formed" when the blow fell. To represent this all of the units count as vexed [surprised]. Two of the units (front to back, second and fourth) are completely unformed and require a Formation Change card to present a front.


Monfalcone: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 1,000 light cavalry.

One unit of Stradiots and one unit of mounted crossbows.

These units seem to have managed to mount some sort of defence from the outset. They start the game vexed [surprised].


Florange, Robert de la Marck: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 6,000 Landsknechts and the artillery train.

Three pike blocks (counting 6 stands each); one unit of Landsknecht shot; three medium guns.

This command managed to organise a defence from the start. All units start the game vexed [surprised].

I have chosen not to make the Landsknechts Murderous in this particular battle due to their rather poor performance.

Note that these troops have been deployed as per the description by Oman, who says that the shot were placed to one side and the artillery was deployed in front. He also says that the Swiss approached somewhat flank-wise, so I have deployed the bulk of the Landsknechts obliquely to the Swiss approach.


The Swiss


The Swiss order of battle comprised about 9,000 Swiss, a handful of Milanese cavalry and 8 falconets. These were disposed in the traditional Swiss manner, three columns under the nominal command of their employer Maximilian Sforza. 

I have chosen to misread, fudge and lie about the number of Milanese cavalry present. Oman sets their number at 200. This would mean a unit of four or five figures, which isn't worth representing. I have chosen to say 200 lances, which gives a unit of around twelve. Given that this unit is the only cavalry present in the army it shouldn't undo the general balance of the forces.

I have assigned a D10* sequence deck and a D10 army die to the Swiss (Milanese) army. They have also done quite well with their four army characterisation cards, getting 28 morale chips [9,9,10] and the Stratagem card "Surprise" which adds 8 initiative pips to the player's total on its first appearance.

Note that the names of the Swiss captains, Graff and Mottinus, are two names listed among the Swiss casualties. Both fell leading the main column but, as I do not know the name of the second column's captain, I have redeployed Graff to command it


C-in-C Maximilian Sforza: D10 motivation Die

Commanding 1000 Swiss pike and 200 [lances?] heavy cavalry.

1 unit (counting 4 stands) of Swiss pike and one unit of Milanese men-at-arms.

This column marched around the town unseen to attack the French camp.

Graff: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 2000 Swiss pike plus supporting troops.

1 unit (counting 4 stands) of Swiss pike, two units of Swiss shot and one light gun.

I have chosen to concentrate all of the Swiss shot with this column. I have also chosen to attach the artillery to it; I believe the artillery would have used the road from Novara so this seems appropriate. 


Mottinus: D10 motivation die.

Commanding 6,000 Swiss pike plus supports.

Three Swiss pike squares (counting 6 stands each); one unit of Swiss halberdiers.

The halberdiers were, according to Oman, a distinct body set to one side of the column. They attacked the Landsknecht shot before charging onto the flank of the Landsknecht pike. No numbers are given, so I have chosen to attach a full unit.

Victory Conditions

The victory conditions are simple: The destruction of the enemy as per the general rules in Hell Broke Loose.



HELL BROKE LOOSE TROOP TYPES 
FOR NOVARA 1513

FRENCH
Troop type
Combat dice
Defence dice
Unit
Integrity
Notes
Elite Gendarmes
(1 in each command)
D12
D8
4
Swift (move on swift cards);
Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Other Gendarmes
D10
D8
4
Swift (move on swift cards);
Fierce (melee on even move roll).
Stradiots
D8
D8
3
Swift (move on Swift cards);
Grizzled (inc.).
Missile cavalry
D8
D6
4

Gascon & Navarrese crossbows
D6
D6
3
Brittle (down 1 to DD Vs missilery / morale);
Skirmish (may only be ‘formed infantry’ in a deep formation, or when defending a linear obstacle).
Landsknecht pike
D10
D8
6 (2S)
Swift (move on Swift cards);

Landsknecht shot
D8
D8
3
Grizzled (inc.);
Skirmish (may only be ‘formed infantry’ in a deep formation, or when defending a linear obstacle).
Medium artillery
D8
D6
2


MILANESE
Troop type
Combat dice
Defence dice
Unit
Integrity
Notes
Heavy cavalry

D10
D8
4
Swift (move on swift cards);
Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Swiss pike
D10
D8
6 (S)
or
5 (S)
Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Swift (move on Swift cards);
Murderous (up 1 in melee Vs Landsknechts);
Stubborn (all stands stubborn).
Swiss shot
D8
D8
3
Grizzled (inc.);
Skirmish (may only be ‘formed infantry’ in a deep formation, or when defending a linear obstacle).
Swiss halberdiers
D10
D8
4 (S)

Fierce (melee on even move roll);
Swift (move on Swift cards);
Murderous (up 1 in melee Vs Landsknechts);
Stubborn (all stands stubborn).
Light Artillery
D8
D6
2