Thursday, 7 April 2016

Lobositz - first fix for Derby.

This week I've spent a little time working out a possible set up for Lobositz 1756 for the Derby World Wargames show later this year. Whilst doing so I wondered if people would be surprised at how I actually go about this because my methodology is actually rather adhoc and unscientific.

No matter how hard I try I never seem to be able to effectively do a layout using pen and paper. Whenever I try to do it things never quite transpose to the table properly. I find it much easier to do a layout directly onto the table then, if necessary, draw it afterwards. 

Stage one is to choose a historically based deployment map and OOB, in this case I drew on the information from three sources (1) mixing and matching at my whim.  

Then I layed out the troops using paper templates held in position by a 'paper weight' stand of the appropriate troop type. This effectively gives a ground scale based on unit frontage.

After laying out the troops in their starting positions I lay the terrain around them. 

I've always found this way of doing things far better than doing it the other way around because terrain can be made to fit troop frontages but, being fixed by base sizes, troops can't always be made to fit the terrain: It's ground scale by war game unit frontage.

In this shot you can see I've used, thin chain to roughly mark some of the contours. I've laid out the other terrain in some detail so that I can be sure what I have and what I might need - for example, I'm going to need to make at least another eight feet of vines for the walled vineyards on the Lobosch.

Leaving the chain on the table for sizing purposes and removing everything else, I then see what I can do about the hills. The hills for Lobositz are quite large features and they required me to cut some new pieces. 

This requirement actually led me to discover that the pink insulation board I have is the same thickness as the blue - I've always believed it was thinner - result! 

The Homolka required a few new end pieces and some 'square' filler sections to make the hills bigger than those I usually use.

The Lobosch is a volcanic mound with a classic volcano cone. Fortunately this cone was not fought over and the action took place on its much less steep lower slopes.

I made the first two contours with pre-existing shapes and some new 'square' fillers. I've subsequently made two new sloped pieces that are not shown in this photo.

  1. One to  replace the front slope of the second contour squaring it to the table edge and giving it an extended straight front slope.
  2. A new piece to replace the back left section of the first contour, squaring it to the table edge.

I've used a piece of 2" thick board to do the lower slopes of the cone making the Lobosch 5" high at its highest point.
After the hills shapes were made I relaid the cloth over the top and set everything else out properly. 

I'm short just three units of cavalry (which I have unpainted in the lead pile) and possibly two Prussian howitzers (which I may, or may not, buy) to replace gun models. For the purposes of the photographs I've substituted other units.

I think it looks pretty good.

The Prussian army deployed on the Homolka. 

The windmill is Wchinitz.

A strange fact came to light as I laid out the troops. I have twenty four units of Prussian infantry but not one of them actually fought at Lobositz. I'm not sure how that could have happened.
Bevern's infantry facing Austrian Grenzers on the Lobosch. 

This shot shows the new shape of the Lobosch (under the front rank Grenzers). The second new hill piece merely tidies up the cloth at the table edge.

Massed Prussian cavalry and guns between the Lobosch and Homolka.
Lobositz, featuring a partly finished building. This is Herr Schmied's house and smithy. I'll post some pictures of this building when it's finished as it has some nice details that you can't see in this shot.

You can just see Austrian infantry passing out of the town in column of route towards the right flank to support the defence of the Lobosch and, just behind them, the dark bend of the Elbe.

Between Lobositz and the bulk of the Austrian army behind the Morellenbach stream is a sunken road. I'm currently making a new piece of terrain to represent this.
The bulk of the Austrian army deployed in Sullowitz and beyond the Morellenbach.

Having set it up, of course, means we might as well fight it. be continued.

(1) Deployment maps and OOBs were from Duffy's The Army of Frederick the Great, the official German High Command map from Kronoskaf Seven Years War Project, and Jeff Berry's excellent map on his Obscure Battles site.


Steve J. said...

Very interesting to read how you have gone about setting up the game/table.

warpaintjj said...

That's possibly the most illuminating piece I have read in decades. Short but game changing. I shall use your method from now on. We have a much bigger table and far more toys but still share your struggle to get everything in the right pace precisely because we don't do things like you do. So consider us converts. My only wish is that you had written these throw away lines years ago.

Many, many thanks and best wishes,


Gonsalvo said...

Definitely the opposite of how I do it, but I do like the idea of laying down templates for the units - much faster than putting the troops out for the first test run!

OTOH, I DID do something like this for my Eylau game, which is one of the few where I made custom hills/ridges).

Colin Ashton said...

It looks great. Can't wait to see the result. I've done this battle,three times in the past year or so and its always a good one!

Carlo said...

Wonderful post James and certainly an interesting insight into how you prepare a battle and the detail in getting the footprint correct via the unit frontages. Very clever using the paper templates.

Fritz II. said...

I am always excited about your impressive boards and the brilliant terrain. Thanks for your tutorial concerning how you place terrain and figures. Interesting to notice that you always place the units first and after that deal with terrain. I will remember this because I used to do it the other way always realizing that the troops don't fit on terrain.

Ray Rousell said...

Great looking set up, the hills a mighty position, should look fantastic when its all finished. And I may be so bold, where did you get the cloth for the table?

rct75001 said...

That is absolutely gorgeous James and thanks for the description of the process.



Hi Ray,

the cloth is 5.5 meter long (was 7m), 2 meter wide bolt of Hainsworth Championship snooker baize. I managed to blag it gratis, direct from the mill, through their company doctor for a show I was doing several years ago. Apparently, it has a fault, that I've never found. It's a good job I managed to blag it because it is a very expensive piece of cloth: It is 97% Merino wool and would cost several hundred pounds (the guy I got it through said £700) - it's made of better stuff than the suits I have!

Since getting it I've painted the back of it (the back is rougher) with a couple of dozen rattle cans of spray paint, mostly yellows. The cloth is so good than none of the paint has gone through to the other side.

I've been told that the best way to get this stuff cheap / free is, used / second hand, from snooker table re-furbishers / snooker halls. You have to wash it several times to get the chalk out and you can only use the the side without the lines, but they'll usually let you have one very cheaply. They would be a little over 12 foot long and 6 foot wide.

Neil Scott said...

It looks great and as you say now you've set up you may as well play the game


hes my friend ;)

General Nuisance said...

Your method certainly makes more sense. Can't tell you how many times I've had to cram another unit in - "well, I guess I'll just move these houses a little more to the left, messing up my nicely laid out garden area that looked so nice." I end up jamming cavalry and artillery stands anywhere there's space, hoping the boys in front have enough success to free them from their terrain-induced traffic jam in the back.
But I have to admit being somewhat of a terrain junky (almost as expensive as heroin, I'm told) and like a fancy table, even if it's at the cost of some realistic ground scale or historical deployment, so I'll probably keep to my illogical ways.

Der Alte Fritz said...

I hesitate to offer a critique of such a wonderful looking table set up, but here are a couple terrain issues to consider:

You might want to consider taking a chainsaw and cutting down that forest in front of the Morellenbach . The actual area is more of an open wetlands. I'd also recommend reducing the footprint of Sullowitz in your game so,that it doesn't block off such a large area of your table. The combination of the fortress and the woods renders nearly a third of your table unplayable

Check out some of the pictures of Lobositz on The Obscure Battles web site as they are particularly helpful in setting up terrain for this battle. Remember, some of the villages will have a more built up appearance in 2016 than they would have in 1756. The same can be true of vegetation and its growth over the years. For example, a few years ago the Gettysburg National Military Park did an extensive study of contemporary pictures and maps, comparing them to how the field looks today, and they realized that vegetation had grown out of control. So they cut down much of the vegetation around Little Round Top and it really changed how people interpreted the battle in that area

In general, having terrain that is conducive to being able to move troops around a table is as important not overloading the table with troops.



Firstly, the position of Sullowitz on my table has been changed. It should be, and now is, further to the Austrian left.

I know what you mean about the look of Sullowitz on my table, but it actually 'looks' like more of a fortress than it actually is in game terms: in game terms it's an open village providing light cover. Obscure Battles shows the village as one with a frontage of four battalions, regiments Harrach and Wallis being deployed there, so it was quite a big feature.

The wood is shown on the Obscure Battles map and on the Duffy map. The Duffy map has this whole sector bounded by a enclosure that extends to the foot of the Sullowitz end the Homolka's slopes with the word "Park". I assume this is 'woodland and pasture' associated with a deer park, and if it were a deer park the enclosure would be substantial, though I haven't included this. Again the table woodland looks rather more 'forest' than it actually is - I'll class it as open woods, and it has been shifted, with sullowitz, anyway.

The problem with Lobositz as a set up for a game is one associated with table depth - in other words, it's the usual problem. I may have to extend the table to flatten the Austrian deployment, making the Morellenbach run more down table than across it, to make a bigger gap between the Austrian left and Prussian right.

Today the battlefield is a belter and much of it is unchanged. EU road funding has opened and enlarged the road that runs at the foot of the Lobosch, which is a pain, and it was a much easier battlefield to traverse on my first visit (before EU membership) than on my second. However, it's still worth a visit and if I'm back that way, I'll go again.

Best Regards,


BigRedBat said...

Very interesting!

These days I start by planning games out on a grid on my computer. No minis go on the table until the day of the battle. I do like to test key parts of the battle, though, when time permits.