Thursday 27 November 2014

Mochkirch - the finale

Last night saw Mochkirch fought to a conclusion. It was a tight action with each side chasing the other, neck and neck, to zero army morale chips. The Prussians, as might be expected, gradually won the infantry battle whilst the Russians took an inordinate amount of pleasure emptying Prussian saddles. The action was at its most fearsome around Mochkirch, and on the Russian left. Anyway, here are some shots of the action - and the result.

 On the Russian right, Prussian cavalry, with Russian infantry bearing down on it, is forced to make rash cavalry charges on the basis of use it or lose it anyway. 
 In the centre the Prussians clear Mochkirch of Russians and start to fire volley after volley into the nearby Russian ranks.
 The Russians counter attackwith determined (rembember that purple beaded Up 2 unit) grenadiers and regain a foot hold.
 Behind Mochkirch a lone unit of Prussian infantry, forced into square for much of the battle by the presence of enemy cavalry, supports a cavalry attack. 
 Prussian saddles are being emptied at every turn and are quickly becoming surrounded.
 On the Russian left more grenadiers lead another local counter attack.
 The Prussians sweep around Mochkirch, the Russians are begginning to crack, they are at zero morale chips; the Prussians have one morale chip. They are desperately trying to get the Prussians down to zero, but being unable to issue morale challenges they are finding this very difficult (see note on the rule below). 
The Russians turn Major Morale, the fail and their world turns red. 

The Prussians win a huge chunk of initiative and turn Musket Reload - the Russains throw in the towel.

Note: We play morale chips, and Major Morale in a different manner to classic Piquet or Field of Battle. Morale chips are only lost when:

  • A unit fails a morale challenge.
  • A unit is disordered in melee.
  • A unit is destroyed or routed.
  • A morale challenge is issued.
  • A rally is attempted on Officer Check.
  • A major morale check is taken.
Because of this our battles are longer and harder fought. 

Each time the Major Morale card is turned the side rolls D20 vs the number of units it has lost or are in rout. If a Morale chip was paid and the test is failed the army adds a Dress the Lines card to its deck - these cards are only added for failed Major Morale and officer losses, because we play with LOTS of units; we do not add Dress the Lines for units lost.

If the test is failed at zero morale chips, then each officer rolls D12 (adjusted for officer quality) Vs D8. If the test is failed the officer's units drop one level in quality Determined to Eager, Eager to Ready, Ready to Battle Weary. Battle Weary units that drop a level are removed from play. Battle Weary units have red beads in our games, so when the Russian world turned red, it did, literally. Only one command passed its check and a village was lost when the battle weary unit defending it disintegrated. 

Monday 24 November 2014

A Campaign is brewing

Those who follow this blog might have noticed that I mentioned that I was painting up some Eighteenth Century figures to fill the ranks of my old Austrian collection. Well, I am, and I'm not merely for doing it for something different to do. For some time I have been working on a three player horse and musket campaign. Consequently, I need the Austrians; because along with my Prussians and Russians they will be thrown into a land built for war. Progress has been a slow, but I'm gradually getting things together for a campaign starting next spring.

The armies will have some historical national differences, though I'll try to balance them. The Prussian infantry will oblique move and fire faster, the Austrians will have better artillery and feisty Grenzer troops, the Russians will have stubborn infantry and guns. However, most troops will begin the campaign with similar 'elan'. This will change during the campaign through a mechanism I'm going to call "Statecraft". Statecraft includes everything from better training, better staff colleges, to spy networks and espionage. It is something players can invest their money in, or not if they choose. You see, this campaign is not going to be a 'historical' one.

The campaign will be an 'imagi-nation' campaign - it will take place in a fictional land. This land is the subject of this post, because I've just finished the map. It features the three countries - it's fairly easy to see which is which - each with eight provinces. Each province has a provincial capital and a number of small towns. 

The map shows major rivers, major roads and minor roads. It also shows terrain density. I wanted a simple way to give players an idea what kind of terrain would probably be found in each hex - because dense terrain, in war games terms at least, is usually easier to defend. I will draw up quite a few of random battlefield set ups prior to the start of the campaign (probably 12) which I'll permanently assign to a hex, and replace, after use. These set ups will have a range of terrain densities. I will grade each battlefield for density and assign it a number. The higher the density the higher the number. When two armies meet a dice will be rolled (probably D8). The number of clumps of trees in the hex will modify the roll - none no modifier, one modify by +2, two modify by +4. A density of 1 will be a gently rolling landscape with an occasional copse and village, 12 might look like the Alps! Terrain, such as hills, will then be graded for steepness, etc., so even if the player rolls a 1 in a hex with two clump of trees - result 5 - he knows what he gets will be difficult terrain - the hills will probably be steep and the woods dense. This grading system is the reason the campaign map does not feature minor rivers. Rivers will be featured, as a matter of course, on some of the battlefields. Major rivers can be overlaid on any battlefield if the attacking player fails a test to bypass the defender (this will not be easy). Alternatively, I might look at the terrain system in Warfare in the Age of Reason / Sport of Kings, which could be made to work in a similar way (I think) - we shall see.

Anyway, enough of my twaddle - when the rules are done I'll make them available. Here is the map. The space at the side is for the legend, compass rose, and a few 'quick play crib tables' that I'll add when the rules are finished.


The map was made using the MS Paint app in Windows 8.1. 

First I googled all the bits I needed - the hex grid, the towns, trees and stuff. I worked out my fonts and made a note of sizes (this is actually quite important, because it is the easiest thing to lose track of and forget). I reduced the size of some images to fit the map (see below). I placed these things in the space at the side of the map - which I'll use later for tables and things.

Then I took the hex grid section (about ten by eight) and cut, joined and pasted, until I had sufficient hexes. Then, and this sounds wierd, I bulk filled the hexes with three colours, counting out hexes, so that each state was the same in area (I think 120 hexes each - give or take the odd mistake). Thus the shape of the countries was formed. I then unfilled the border hexes, to clear, and added the main state boundaries, a few hexes at a time to keep a track of where they went. 

From this point on it was a matter of filling the provincial capital squares and drawing the provincial boundaries. Then I filled the areas with the tan base colour, and added the 'mountains' and rivers. 

From that point on it was simply a matter of cutting and pasting the trees and villages, etc. The new paint app allows you to change the size of things within the page (I couldn't do this before?) - which was especially useful for reducing the size of the tree clumps and town images: These were more than twice the size they are now. I added everything in this order: Provincial capitals; small towns; roads - major then minor; tree clumps; names. 

Names were done for each state in the side section and dragged into position. I used an Atlas for reference, and changed letters and joined place names together until I had a list of names - I did more than required and chose the best.

Apart from cut and paste, the most used tool was magnification - when using a mouse big is best to do stuff, small is best to see stuff. The new resize function was also much appreciated as it would have been a pain to have to do the villages and trees from scratch at the right size.

I hope this answers any questions on the 'how'.

Friday 21 November 2014

A milestone

Just to let you all know that this blog has recently passed the half a million page views. The current total, as I write this, is 513,585 page views.


Thank you for looking, and my very best regards to everyone,

James Roach

Thursday 20 November 2014

Last night's action at Mochkirch.

Last night the action continued at Mochkirch. The fighting intensified as the night went on and the session ended with all of the Prussians having arrived and the Russians being sorely pressed in their centre and centre right (on the hill). Anyway, here are a few shots of the game.

The Prussian attack to the right of Mochkirk is developing - in the background more Prussian infantry are hurrying to the sound of the guns.
On the left of Mochkirch the Russians begin to move forward to support their hard pressed centre. 
On the right of Mochkirch the Prussian reserves move forward with alacrity to relieve pressure on the Prussian cavalry that are being murdered by the Russians on the other side of the hill.
Here's a shot of the Prussian cavalry, depleted in number and held off by the Russian infantry which, in turn, are now being attacked from both sides. Just in the nick of time, as they say.
Prussians, Prussians everywhere. The Russians race to form a line.
A local Russian counter attack goes in.

Purple beaded units, like these Russian grenadiers, are scary. They are Up2 for everything.
It partly succeeds.

Purple beaded or not, rubbish dice rolling is rubbish dice rolling - Graham is sickened.
The Russains form line to the left of Mochkirch to face the Hunfun.
The Prussians are now attacking in a co-ordinated fashion against little opposition to the right of Mochkirch.
As the Russians pile up to the left of Mochkirch to face one lot of Prussians......

Can you see whats coming - very top left of shot.
Another lot, turn up on their flank. The scene is set for a glorious blood bath. 

Well, those are shots of most of the action, though there were small scrimmages elsewhere on the periphery.

We will fight the action to conclusion next week. Both sides still have around 20 morale points each. 

The Russians have lost 15 units and officers; the Prussians have lost 9.

A funny thing about dice

O.K. Let me start by saying this is not the one about when you say "anything but a one". That is just coincidence made large by the strange way our minds work with coincidences and probabilities. This is about the mathematical quirk of a rule system and probabilities.

In classic Piquet virtually all die rolls are opposed. That is to say that both player's roll a dice and the result is determined by the difference in the dice. In a morale challenge roll, for example, the attacker rolls a dice against the defenders dice and there are four possible outcomes:

  • The defender beats the challenge by rolling higher.
  • The defender fails the challenge by rolling the same or less (disordered).
  • The defender fails the challenge by rolling less and his score is doubled (routed).
  • The defender fails the challenge by rolling less and his score is tripled (routed unralliably).

Last night, following the Wednesday war gaming session, I said to the guys as they left "You know there is more chance of rolling higher and tripling than there is of doubling." Both Graham and Peter were unconvinced, in fact I think they thought I'd gone a bit crazy. I thought I'd worked this all out in the past and discovered it to be true but, with these guys being pretty good with maths, I started to doubt myself. Surely, it is easier to double?

When I went to bed I got to work with the Sumerian abacus. Stop tittering. Hold your hand palm up. Stop tittering. Take the thumb of that hand and place it on the first bone of your index finger, that is 1. Moving up the next bone is 2. Moving up each finger and across you can count to twelve on one hand (I've heard this is why the dozen came about). Using the other hand to keep track of dozens you can count to 144, though I work left to right on both hands. It's useful for keeping a track when doing this kind of thing in your head.

Well, lets look at cases. D8 Vs D8.

  • There twenty ways to beat the defender without doubling or tripling.
  • There are seven ways to double the defender.
  • There are nine ways to triple the defender.
Hang on! 

This all comes about because of the double / triple quirk on low defender rolls. In the rules, triples always take precedence over doubles, so when the defender rolls a one, there is only one way he can be doubled - the attacker rolls a two - but there are six ways the defender can be tripled on a one - the attacker rolls three, four, five, six, seven, or eight.

Now I haven't worked out all the combinations of opposed dice, but a I'm fairly sure a similar thing happens when any attacking dice is rolled Vs D8. It's quirky.

Sunday 16 November 2014

More shots at Mochkirch

On Wednesday the three of us set about the action at Mochkirch (see scenario in previous post). This time the Prussians drew a joker deployment card, which allowed greater freedom of deployment and to initially concentrate an attack on the centre from three directions. I'll not bore you with all of the details but, the action was fast and furious. Initially all went well for the Prussians. Their massed cavalry attacked with great success. Their infantry attacked the main village from both sides of the table and managed to gain a foothold - Peter's grenadiers (combined grenadier Btn 29 / 31) doing particularly heroically. However, by the end of the first night's play the Russians, led by Graham, were beginning to organise counter attacks. Everyone is having a good time with this scenario - it works, Huzzah! We will continue on Wednesday. Here are some shots of the nights action.





Friday 7 November 2014

Eclectic new additions for the Italian Wars

Anyone who has looked at my Italian Wars collection will know that it is quite eclectic in nature. This wasn't planned. It came about because I know of no manufacturer that produces everything. 

I've been particularly busy with commissioned work for the last few months but, as painting just for others would make me a very dull boy, I've managed a few new additions. They are mainly aimed at the Marignano game planned for next year.

 The painting comprises two units of eight mounted crossbows by Old Glory; seventy two Italian pike by TAG; two stands of mixed figures based around heavy hand guns by Copplestone (Grenadier Models?that I purchased through Vexillia).
 First up the pike. These are Italian but, for now, I've used some (interchangeable) French flags because I plan to use them as Picard pike in the Marignano game.
 These figures were well cast and easy to paint. Their one downfall, for me, was the realistic ankle shape, which made painting stripy hose difficult - big ankles make this much easier, IMHO. 
 I'm also not a big fan of pike that stick out too far in front of units as they generally become a problem in play. These fall between two stools, they are just acceptable for me. I bought the mix of pike angle to take advantage of the unit deals - I bought six unit packs plus a handful of other packs to get two 72 man pike squares, this being the first.
 I'm not sure why the ones at the back were so heavily armoured. My criticism is harsh. These are the best Italian pike available anywhere. I like them, and I'll be adding another TAG square (for a total of three) at some point so I can do Agnadnello.
 The OG packs of mounted crossbow have only two variants. I had forgotten this. My other units have the addition of Foundry WoR prickers (with added crossbows replacing lance) to add to the variants.
 But they still look good.
 These satnads are based around Copplestone figures with 'heavy handgun / arquebus'. I'll be using them as Hackbuts. The packs come as four figures (manning the 'hackbuts'), I've based them on light artillery bases with a few extra figures to pad them out.

Anyway, that's it for the Italian Wars for a while (there are still well over 300 in the to do pile). 

Next up I'm going to start upgrading my SYW Austrians - it's about time. There are several hundred figures that I haven't been able to use since upgrading the Prussians and Russians - especially as I've added over a hundred shiny things to this pile recently.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Mochkirch - a one night's trial run.

Last night it was just Peter and I, Graham being away doing something silly - work, I think. We played the first few moves of the Mochkirch game, mostly to check the random nature of the Prussian deployment and arrivals. It worked just fine. It worked better than fine.

The Prussians arrived at both ends of the table in some force.
The initial Prussian deployment distance of 12" from the Russian lines - the Prussians appearing at close range out of the early morning darkness - allowed them to get in amongst the outlying villages before the Russians could respond. 
Massed Prussian cavalry crashed into the Russian cavalry and quickly dispersed it. Only cannister fire from the artillery on the hill, and an advance by some desperate Russian infantry brought the Prussian cavalry to a halt. Then another lot arrived close behind them. 
At the end of play the Prussians were contesting two villages and the Russians were only just clinging on.
Even with so many Prussians being deployed from the start I (playing Russian) couldn't make my mind up where to send reinforcements. I think this scenario will be a fire fighting exercise by the Russians. They will have to launch counter attacks somewhere to have any chance of a win - which always makes attack / defence games more interesting.

Peter and I decided that the game had worked so well that it would be a shame to have Graham join in at the half way point next week. So this morning I reset the game so we will can all play it again from the start, and to a conclusion over the next couple of gaming nights.