Thursday 30 January 2014

Measuring the line - the Russians at Zorndorf

Earlier this month I booked the Zorndorf demonstration game into Triples 2014. When booking the table size I had to do some 'back of a fag packet' calculations. I bargained that the deployment would be somewhere between 12 and 14 feet long. Some spare table space is always handy to put things on, so I crossed my fingers and booked for a 16 foot long table. I'm glad I did cross my fingers - it only just fits.

Although I still have eight units of Russians to paint I have enough (with some Prussian stand-ins) to set up the Russians in their deployment. I have set the Russians up on a 14 foot table (The deployment might be 14.5 feet on the day - with the extra 6 inches on the Russian left; this is the Russian's 'long flank'). 

Luckily, empty flank areas are not required to re-fight this battle as the Russian line extends beyond the Prussian line on both flanks, the Prussians attack the Russian right and centre but do not attack beyond the Zabern Grund (the Russian right), the Russians have a long left flank, and the Russians are defending.

I have set the troops out on the arid side of my TSS terrain tiles to make it easier to see the lie of the deployment. I think it looks quite impressive - 732 Russian infantry go a long way! My only thought is to pull back the lines a two inches and decrease the space between the lines by withdrawing the front line a further four inches. This will mean that the Russian deployment will extend 28 inches from the baseline (it extends 34" here).

 The Russian right. This is the hard flank. The Zabern Grund (the stream) will be almost impassible where the Russians are deployed.
 The Russian's long left. This Russian flank extends beyond the initial deployment of the Prussians by nearly 4 feet. 
 The Russian infantry and guns.
The Russian infantry on the right. Note, there should be three units of cavalry between the lines here - 11 squadrons - but for game purposes they are represented by two units (10 squadrons). A similar fudge has been made on the Russian left - I have the units, but they would unbalance the ratio of heavy cavalry between the sides (the Prussians should have three times as many).

The "shock cavalry melee resolution" card

After play-testing the Shock Cavalry Melee Resolution card I can now report that it works a treat.

It was several years ago that the idea for this card was first muted. It was in the early days of our group playing Piquet that Mark Dudley and I discussed the sequence decks for SYW armies and their use of a single Melee Resolution card and the use of Heroic Moment as extra melee resolution cards for cavalry. The point of only having one general use melee resolution card was a good idea. It meant that infantry resolved combat with fire rather than the bayonet and made the game feel very SYW, but using the Heroic Moment card as a melee resolution card for cavalry meant that 'heroic moments' were much less common - which was a shame - because the use of this card to bend the rules to allow the unusual is both elegant and interesting. From memory, we added cavalry melee resolution cards to the deck by simply putting an asterisk on a couple of extra melee resolution cards in each deck. But, at some point, this idea fell by the wayside - forgotten.

Recently, I started playing SYW again and I went back to basics, using the Heroic Moment card - then the idea of the extra cavalry melee resolution card was reborn. I discussed the idea with Peter and Graham and they were game. Then, when I came to make up the new Cavalry Melee Resolution card I added the word Shock. I'm not sure if I knew what I was doing when I did it, but as it happens it was most fortunate. I had accidentally built in the difference between Prussian hussars and the hussars of other nations, and also downgraded cossacks (which was probably my immediate aim), at a stroke. 

The difference between SYW Prussian hussars and other SYW hussars has always been a pain to rule upon - other hussars form up in the same way, are similarly mounted and armed, but they have a different function and training. The use of the word 'shock' on the card is a simple, extremely efficient way, of distinguishing the types. Prussian hussars can use the card, others can't.

Anyway, it something you might want to try.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

A few more for Zorndorf

January has been productive for Operation Zorndorf. The last of the Observation Corps is finished; the last of the Russian artillery are finished; the combined grenadier units are finished; the last of the Cossacks are finished.
 Combined grenadier units to represent the six battalions at Zorndorf. These are an eclectic mix of Foundry figures that I purchased from Dave T's ebay offerings. 
 I particularly like the figures in rain capes. Not only are they attractive to look at, they are easy to paint as well.
 The artillery concentrates on batteries to go at the Observation Corps' end of the line - two mixed batteries of Secret Howitzers and Unicorns. These are by Front Rank.
 More Dave T Foundry figures. The last two units of the Observation Corps - 5 units of 36 figures including 4 musketeer regiments and 1 combined grenadier 'regiment' (split into its two btns here).
 Three units of 8 Foundry cossacks.
I took the opportunity to paint three extra figures to go on these casualty bases. Originally, I had made these, plus one with a mounted cavalry figure (not pictured), to stretch 16 existing bases of cossacks into 20 bases. I Had to add more units for Zorndorf, and to make a Foundry order up to 16 packs to get the 6 free packs on offer, I went for having 8 full units of 8 figures (32 bases).

Apart from 4 units of 24 infantry and 4 units of 8 cavalry, that is the Russians done. I've had enough of doing Russians for the time being. Next up I'll start tackling the 22 units of Prussians that are still needed (7 infantry, 3 artillery, 12 cavalry). This Zorndorf game (for Triples in May) has a very heavy painting requirement - it is going to be a real effort.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

The game played over the Christmas break

And so the action began, and it was the Russians who got a head start. Their relief column began to  issue from the town. 

The Prussians advanced their cavalry into the plain to the right of the big hill - they looked determined, even scary, but it would not be their day.
Then the Prussian infantry began their assault on the hill. 
The fighting was fierce, and several units of Prussian infantry went down under repeated volleys of musketry and Secret Howitzer canister fire. 
But gradually, they made the summit. The Russians found themselves outflanked and resistance crumbled.
The Prussian cavalry make very heavy going against minimal resistance.
All the while, the Russian reserves are coming into the field.
The Prussians get themselves organised. They are seeking to go on the defencive until their artillery can be brought up.
This gives the Russians time to assemble for a counter attack.
The Prussians look immovable, and soon their artillery is making itself felt (with an extra reload card from the characterisation deck, plus a Brilliant leader card they are firing four times each turn) - the effect is going to be devastating, and the Prussians use all of their initiative to cycle through their deck shooting at every opportunity.

The Russians bring their cavalry over. The Russians are outnumbered and outflanked but the Prussian cavalry has not had its Wheetabix. The cavalry fights itself to a standstill. It opens up the flank of the Prussians on the hill.
The Prussians are out of morale chips. The Russians are running out of infantry. Both sides attack. The Russians are quicker off the mark and the Prussians, being outflanked, throw in the towel. There are too few Russians to pursue. It was a very close run thing.
The game was a good one - thank you Mr. Grant - and we will re-run it again over the next few weeks.

We will change a few things. The lake will be removed and replaced with some broken ground. A few new units will be added to the mix. A new sequence card will be introduced - Shock Cavalry Melee Resolution.

Sunday 5 January 2014

We have another sucker....

Later this week I intend to post a report on the Christmas SYW clash between the Prussians and Russians. But, until then, here are a few photos of another game I played over New Year holiday. They are pics of my son's first miniatures game - he's seven, and his name is Alexander Frederick (I shit you not). Now, he wants to play every Sunday morning - so who suckered who?