Friday 25 October 2019

FIASCO! Edit: Link to Fiacso video added at bottom of post.

Fiasco 2019 will take place this coming Sunday, 27th October, at Clarence Dock (across the square from the Royal Armouries Museum) in Leeds, doors open at 10 a.m. A war games show and a free military museum in the same local, what more could you want on a cold Sunday.

This is our nearest, and dearest, war games show, and we've been supporting it with demo games for who knows how long. We started presenting games when Fiasco was held in Armley - so, how long ago is that?

This year, The Ilkley Lads (Peter J. Graham H. and myself) will be putting on a Peninsular War demonstration game. You will have no idea how much it pleases me to say that. Getting the armies up to the 'just enough to take out on the road' stage has been quite a struggle. Even now, all this time after the project started, there are only 38 units done - 18 British and 20 French.

Among the new units, this one will fight for the very first time. The British 27th Regiment of Foot, The Inniskillings. This is one of those contrary regiments which goes against the rule of buff facings, buff belts - it has buff facings and (as per pictures and reenactors) white belts.


The game is going to look very much like the recent fair you have seen here, so please don't expect something different. What we will do, for the first time at a show, is go through the set up (less a boring string of unit quality rolls, which I've already done to save a little time) and deployment procedure; so the game you will see will be a 'proper' game, as opposed to a more usual scenario style demo-game set up. If you get to the show early, this might be the most interesting bit of the game! But, hopefully, not.

We'll be using our home grown Classic Piquet / Field of Battle hybrid rules, and we'll be using 'Domino Theory' for deciding initiative: This might prove interesting to seasoned Classic Piquet players - in our opinion, whilst producing asymmetric initiative runs, it beats the pants off d20 rolls, especially when combined with our version of the Field of Battle Lull card. 

If you've been watching what we have been doing with this Peninsular War project, and you are interested, and you can make it to the show, don't be shy - we'll be glad to chat and answer any questions you may have. 

Also, as there are only three of us to do the game, there will be a couple of table spaces open for Olicanalad's Games blog reading convention attendees (spaces available on a first come first served basis - see below) to join in, shuffle some cards, move some lead about and throw some dice for some of the day: Let us know if you want to play. 

However, and treading as carefully as I can, please be aware, this game has not been set up as a participation game, nor is it officially advertised as such - it is categorised as a Demonstration Game. Consequently, and to avoid disappointment, because the table is 6' wide and the rules are quite complicated, playing spaces will not be generally available to younger players - they are very welcome to watch and ask questions but, not play. 

See you all on Sunday! And remember, the clocks go back an hour on Saturday night.

EDIT: I forgot to take a single photo of the game - fortunately, Storm of Steel has done a You Tube video which features the game: Link here

Saturday 12 October 2019

Battle report, rules, and rules on initialism and acronyms.

Due to equine misfortunes, Peter J. couldn't make it, so I shifted from the position of umpire to player. In the usual manner we randomly determined sides. Graham H. drew the British straw; I would be French. I won the roll for table side and chose the western one.

This is a short report of the first night's play. 

A reminder of the battlefield (terrain definitions here), looking north.

The Rostbiffs and French both rolled up average D10 Commander-in-Chiefs but, whilst the British found themselves with an average sequence deck, the French rolled a 1 (on D20) and got an abysmal one. Round one to the Rostbiffs!

The British also drew more army morale points from the ACAD deck, thirty-three points to twenty-nine (from memory). However, when it came to sequence cards the French did slightly better, drawing a C'est Magnifique (wild) card; the British drew a rather splendid extra Infantry Firepower card. Bayonets, mon enfants !!!!

From the ACAD deck, the British drew the One extra deployment zone card. They claimed the zone to their left front - up to the table's centre line - allowing them to occupy the western sectors of Momio Cochinillo from the start.

A Deploy chosen command group card allowed the French to force the deployment of the best British infantry division. They deployed it opposite Santo Cerdito, so the French deployed the bulk of their strength in the centre and south centre to contest Momio Cochinillo and Tocino Hill. 

During the first night's play most of the initiative points, which fell relatively evenly to both sides, were spent manoeuvring around Momio Cochinillo and Tocino Hill.

This picture shows the bulk of the French on there start lines
Anglo-Portuguese 2nd Division on its advanced start line at Momio Cochinillo. 

Note the British heavy cavalry in reserve. These will move to the south.
South of 2nd Division, 3rd Division advances towards Tocino Hill.

On the other side of the hill, French cavalry are racing south.
The French advance 1st Division to contest Momio Cochinillo, the whole of which had fallen to the British in the early moves of turn 1. 

After a fierce firefight and several storming attempts, the French infantry began to make inroads.

Meanwhile, the British 3rd Division were spending their initiative to reach Tocino Hill before the French, who's own 3rd division and cavalry were taking a circuitous route around the woods to the south of Momio Tochinillo. 

To slow the British advance the French cavalry were moved to threaten the British by forcing them into square. 

With squares now being allowed to give fire (reloading on the newly added Reduced Firepower card) this was a risky stratagem but my abysmal sequence deck required me to do something to buy time.

Note the British heavy cavalry, which has now moved to the southern flank.
As the first night's play drew to a close, all was poised for an almighty punch up for Momio Cochinillo and Tocino Hill.

Note the French cavalry (lower left). With the British heavy cavalry having moved south, they are now moving forward into "The gap".

Some of the best French troops taking Momio Cochinillo - he says, hopefully.
French 3rd Division, largely conscripts (lots of red beads in evidence) advancing in column to contest Tocino Hill. 

The French will probably struggle here unless they can take Momio Cochinillo quickly with 1st Division and expose the northern flank of British 3rd Division.
An overview of the positions at the end of the first nights play. 

Note the retreating British unit in the cornfield, and the limbered British artillery moving to support the southern flank of 2nd division and the northern flank of 3rd Division. 

On Chuleta Hill, you can just see British 22nd Light Dragoons moving to deter the advance of the French cavalry now advancing to the northwest of Momio Cochinillo.

At the northern end of the field, French 2nd Division at Cerdita, and British 1st Division east of Santo Cerdito and on Chuleta Hill, have remained largely static. Indeed, the French haven't moved at all. Yet, that is. 

The beautiful thing about classic Piquet, and the thing we keep going back to it for, is the fact that just about everything you do, such as turning cards, moving, shooting and initiating a melee costs initiative - in FoB you only pay initiative to turn cards, not to do things on the cards. In games using classic Piquet it's very hard to make a concerted effort everywhere at the same time (you simply don't have enough initiative points to spread about) and consequently battles rage in one sector then shift to another - often to take the pressure off a sector when you are losing there - because it forces the opposition to spend their own initiative to counter your new shift of emphasis. More than any other facet, I think this is why the narratives of Piquet (especially horse and musket, and later period battles) so often mirror how real battles read in our history books - and I just love it! 

At the end of the evening, Graham said he had nothing bad to say about the house rules as they now stand. So, with a bit of luck, we might be just about there, even with the skirmishers.

I am struggling for a title for our house rules. I liked the name Spanish Ulcer but that must already have been used by someone already, so I discounted it almost immediately. I think it's the tripartite nature of the Peninsular War that's causing me the problem: Mostly because I don't want to use anything too Anglophile, too Francophile, or too Iberophile. Perhaps, I should upset everyone and call the house rules Frogs, Dagos and Rostbiffs, though with the initialism FDR images of the Spanish-American War could easily be conjured, so the order might have to be played with. 

(By the way, did you know that FDR isn't technically an acronym? Neither is BTW for that matter: FDR and BTW are both cases of initialism. FOB is an acronym. To be an acronym, the letters must form a word like NASA, RAM, OPEC or FOB; a string of initial letters that don't form a word are not acronyms, they are cases of initialism. Everyday is a school day, and I learned this today - just thought I'd pass it on for those, like me, who thought all sets of initials, like FBI or CIA, were acronyms when technically they are not). 

I'm very much looking forward, like a schoolboy, to next week's play date.

Monday 7 October 2019

This Wednesday's game - Another objective led Napoleonic scenario

Although I've re-rolled for unit defence and combat dice, and slightly re-organised one or two divisions, the forces are exactly the same as the last game - because, I haven't painted any new units to add to the troop roster.

Also, to save some set up time, I've kept the same hill positions as the last game. I have changed everything else. The table has a porcine theme. 

Note that, for this game, baseline initial deployment depth is 16" rather than 18"; the central town sections are two move cards away from the initial deployment zones. The flank zones are 30" wide, the central zones are each 42" wide. The table is 72" wide. The sixteen deployment zones are marked at their intersections with red pawns (one is hidden directly behind Santo Cerdito). Photo taken looking north.

Terrain definition:

  • Hills are class II terrain and provide soft cover (cover only counts to troops within). 
  • The woods are class III terrain and count as hard cover. 
  • The Fondo Fangosa river is class III terrain to infantry and cavalry, and impassable to artillery except at the bridge; troops crossing cannot shoot. 
  • Each town section provides hard cover. Santo Cerdito represents a two section monastery complex (cut diagonally, north to south).
  • All roads negate terrain and provide road move bonus.
  • Fields are class I terrain and provide soft cover. They represent everything from standing crops to undulations in the ground.
  • Red objective points: The last side to hold an objective point takes the appropriate army morale points from the enemy morale point bank.
  • Black objective points: As red points. Count as taken at the point of deployment in the relevant initial deployment zone. Each side has 10, they cancel each other.
The game will use the following Army Characterisation and Deployment (ACAD) deck. The deck has been devised to assign morale points, characterise the army with extra sequence cards, and decide initial set up options.

The deck contains 38 cards:
  • Four x 6 to 10 morale chips only cards (20 cards total).
  • Four x 2 to 5 morale chips and function cards (16 cards total); including 7 extra sequence deck cards and 9 initial deployment cards. 
  • Two x 0 morale chips and function cards (2 cards total); 2 extra sequence deck cards.
ACAD rules:

Firstly, the basic rules will work in a similar way to the rules in classic Piquet. Each army will be dealt cards in accordance with its ACAD divisor (total units divided by ACAD divisor equals cards). In this case each side has a divisor of 4 (French have 20 units, British 17 but, as umpire, I'm going to give the British an extra card to balance things up): Both sides will, for this game, get 5 cards. 

The total number of morale chips - the red number - on the cards is the sides army morale chip count.

If a side doesn't make its necessary unit chip count  - 1 chip per unit - it must discard it's lowest morale chip cards, one at a time, replacing them with another card dealt from the deck until it reaches the necessary amount. You will notice that the best function cards have the lowest morale chip count, so you lose those first!

There are two kinds of function cards. These are sequence deck cards (black writing) and initial set up cards (blue writing). 

Extra sequence cards are added to the player's sequence deck, with one exception: The Sacrebleu! card is added to the opposition deck. The C'est Magnifique! card is a wild card.

The initial set up cards are an attempt to speed up the initial set up procedure in Field of Battle 2. Consequently, the possibilities are much reduced. There is a sequence of card play during set up. 
  1. Any Extra Deployment Zone cards must be played and compared. If only one side has extra zones he can claim the number of zones on his cards. If both sides have extra zone cards the lower number of zones is deducted from the higher and the remaining zones are claimed. Zones must link orthogonally from the player's central baseline zones. The no-man's land in front of the enemy's initial central zones cannot be claimed; the enemy baseline flank zones cannot be claimed unless troops deployed there can be put in or behind class III terrain.  
  2. Any Delay cards must be played and the command groups effected determined. The delay cards are added to the delayed side's sequence deck. When the card is turned an arrival check must be made using the command group's leadership die Vs D10: If successful the side must declare the initial deployment zone arrival point; the command group arrives on the next March or March One Command Group card. If no road is available in the zone, arrival is delayed by one further march card.
  3. Both sides roll their C-in-C leadership die. The results are compared. Then, alternately, each side deploys a command, lowest die result going first. At the end of each deployment a player may play one or more ...deploy one command group... cards, effectively forcing the enemy to deploy two or three command groups in a row. 
  4. After both sides have deployed the players may play any Re-deploy.... cards. Where both players have cards, lowest morale point card re-deploys first.
We will use our hybrid classic Piquet / Field of Battle rules to fight the battle. At present these are very much a work in progress. The table-top aspects of the rules are embodied in a two side quick reference sheet. To give regular Piquet players an idea of where we are with these, and for Peter and Graham to look at before Wednesday, I'm posting the QRS here. 


Costs 1 IP per unit firing.

CoR may not fire.

Squares and skirmishers may not opportunity fire.
Resolve fire: Roll modified CD10 Vs DD6 modified by DD bead only: Lose 1 UI per 3 pips > difference.
Minimum qualification, range and arcs of fire: At least half the shooting unit’s frontage must have a clear line of sight to one full stand of the target. Range is measured middle to nearest. Arc of fire is a unit wide corridor, straight ahead for formed musketry, and up to 45º to either side for artillery and skirmishers; if any friends are in the fire corridor the target is obscured.
Units reaching 0 UI: Infantry, cavalry and limbered artillery is routed; unlimbered artillery is silenced; all units are eliminated at ≤ 1 UI.
Opportunity fire by the reactive player: Opportunity fire Vs shooting targets is carried out simultaneously; opportunity fire Vs marching targets is carried out at chosen range.
Firepower challenge: Immediately following fire that causes UI loss, the shooter may issue a firepower challenge.

Down 2
Down 1
No Change
Up 1
Up 2


Inferior position / Obscured by friends

Vs flank or rear.

DO /
Per UI loss

Artillery range
< 36”
< 24”

Canister < 12”

Infantry range
 12” (Rifle 18”)
 < 8”
< 4”

Firer formation
Column of coys /
1 stand screen
CoA, square or town /
2 stand screen
Formed infantry in line

Target formation

Unlimbered artillery /
Other /
Limbered artillery
Artillery Vs any column, waves or square

Target cover

Unit quality

Red bead
Green bead
Blue bead
Purple bead


Vs parent unit
Costs 1 AMP.
Challenge Die: Inflicted 1 UI loss: Roll D8 Vs modified DD6. Inflicted 2 UI loss: D10 Vs modified DD6. Inflicted 3 UI loss: D12 Vs modified DD6.
Result ≥ D8 Vs formed: Unit is halted, shaken (shaken rout).
Result ≥ D8 Vs skirmish & artillery: Unit is halted; skirmish withdraw or the parent unit is shaken (shaken rout); artillery limbers
Result > D8 and double Vs formed: Unit is routed.
Result > D8 and double Vs skirmish & artillery: Unit is halted, shaken (shaken rout); skirmish withdraw; artillery limbers.
Result > D8 and triple: Catastrophe! Unit is routed.

Down 2
Down 1
No Change
Up 1
Up 2


Attached leader

Initial strength

- 2 UI
- 1 UI


Column of route
Column of attack, square, waves or town

Nearest threat

≤ 3”
≤ 12”
> 12”
> 24”

Unit Quality

Red bead
Green bead
Blue bead
Purple bead


Costs 1 IP to initiate melee.
Initiating Melee: Infantry cannot initiate melee Vs cavalry except in class III; artillery, skirmishers, units in square or CoR cannot initiate. Melee can be initiated automatically if moving into contact with a DO or Shaken unit or from behind a flank. All other melees require a Melee! card, or Heroic Moment card, to initiate.
Resolve melee: Roll modified CD10 Vs modified CD10. Modify for all circumstances, as the melee continues, until one side loses 1 UI or more. Lose 1 UI per 3 hits taken.
Cause ≥ 1 UI: Enemy falls back one move at full rate, shaken (if already shaken, rout); infantry in square or town, or unlimbered foot artillery hold, shaken and the melee continues (if already shaken, rout); unlimbered horse artillery limbers and withdraws one move at full rate, shaken.
Cause ≥ 2 UI: Enemy routs; artillery is destroyed; cavalry destroy enemy infantry.
Units at 0 UI: Infantry & cavalry routs; artillery is destroyed; all units are eliminated at ≤ 1 UI.
Winning infantry: Infantry may follow up 3” to occupy the ground (not in contact with fresh enemy unless in town), or stand in place; all winning units are DO.
Winning cavalry: Roll DD (Opt: Dn 1 British) Vs D8: If the result is D8 the cavalry loses 1 UI for pursuit unless this reduces the unit to ≤ 0 UI (UI loss does not incur AMP loss). If cavalry do not pursue they can follow up 3” to occupy the ground (not in contact with fresh enemy), stand in place, or rally back at half rate; all winning units are DO.

Down 2
Down 1
No Change
Up 1
Up 2

Circumstances and losses

DO /
Per UI loss /
Inferior numbers

Higher DD /
Initiating /
Superior numbers


Flank or rear Vs front
Front Vs front
Front Vs flank
Front Vs rear

Unit formations
Column of route /
All artillery /
Cavalry Vs square
Skirmish line /
Waves Vs Cavalry line


Column of attack

Square Vs Cavalry /
Cavalry Vs infantry
not in square

Cavalry Vs or in II or III terrain.
Infantry Vs or in II or III terrain

Superior position / defending in town

Unit quality

Red bead
Green bead
Blue bead
Purple bead


Costs 1 IP per group, DO or Shaken unit moving.

Maximum internal ‘group distance’ is a 6” link between units (measured nearest to nearest).

DO and shaken units are always out of group and cannot form a link.

CoA, CoC, Waves
and limbered
Road Bonus*



Officers & couriers: Officers move 18”. Officers may attach or detach on a Leadership card but, not both.
Column of route & column of companies: May ‘snake’ without penalty.
Skirmish formation: May move into and through class II and III terrain without penalty.
Class II terrain effect: Stop at contact; stop at boundary before exiting.
Class III terrain effect: As class II terrain; move at half rate; formed troops are instantly disordered.
March manoeuvre: Infantry & cavalry may oblique move in class I & II terrain; infantry & cavalry may back-step at half rate; infantry may wheel 45º and move at half rate; Cavalry may wheel 90º and move at full rate; artillery may pivot 45º, limber or unlimber and move at half rate; squares may move, to a face, 3” in class I or II terrain.
Movement on Melee cards: Units in line, column of attack or companies may charge up to 3”, straight forward, to contact (do not stop at terrain) on a Melee!, or a Heroic Moment card used as a Melee! card.
Opportunity movement at contact: Infantry can attempt to form square Vs cavalry; unlimbered artillery crew can attempt to run 4” to shelter with formed infantry: Roll DD (Dn1 if DO or shaken), on a result of 1 the unit fails to act and is disordered.
Rout moves: Move on all Army Morale cards. Infantry 12”; cavalry 18”. Do not stop at terrain borders or count terrain. Stop at the table edge before leaving on the next Army Morale card.


Costs 1 AMP per
rally check.

Costs 1 IP to move
or attach.
Disorder (DO): Units automatically rally from DO if the unit’s commanding officer is within command radius when the card is turned. Cavalry cannot rally in class III terrain.
Move or attach: An officer can move his command radius or attach to a unit within his command radius, once.
Rally: Roll modified LD10 Vs D8. ); Rally 1 UI per 3 > D8, may not rally back to full strength; rally shaken; rally routers or silenced if > D8 and the unit now has ≥ 1 UI.
Casualty check on a 1: Roll D6, on a result of 1 - 2 the officer is killed (lose 1 / 3 AMP officer / C-in-C); on a result of 2 - 6 the officer is incapacitated; replace / recover on own next Army Morale card.

Down 2
Down 1
No Change
Up 1
Up 2


Attached leader

Nearest enemy
In contact
Enemy < 12”
Enemy 12” – 24”
Enemy  > 24”

Leader quality

Red bead
Green bead
Blue bead
Purple bead

Command radius (nearest to nearest)
Command 8”
Command 12”
Command 12”
Command 16”

0 IP / AMP costs.
Move routers: Routers of both armies move.
Replace / recover officers: Roll for the quality of replacement officers with a -3 modifier.
If at zero AMP: Check C-in-C LD Vs D8. If ≤ D8, check each command group LD Vs D8. If ≤ D8, all unit command group DDs are reduced one level. Units are removed when reduced below DD4 (red bead).

Steal the initiative: Both players roll C-in-C LD; if the reactive player rolls higher he steals the initiative, winning the difference in the rolls as IP, to play immediately; if he then turns a Lull card and loses the resulting roll, his stolen initiative is reduced by the difference in the dice (to no lower than 0).

Costs 1 IP per group, DO or shaken unit.
Infantry & cavalry: A unit may choose one stand and change formation on it (CoC or CoR may change to line by turning each stand 90º, forming on the leading stand; a unit may wheel forwards up to 90º on a leading corner, or pivot up to 90º its centre, or about face.
Skirmishers: Unshaken line infantry can deploy integral skirmishers; line infantry can withdraw integral skirmishers; ‘skirmish trained’ light infantry can deploy or withdraw a full skirmish line. Skirmishers can deploy up to 4” directly ahead of their parent unit.
Artillery: A unit may pivot up to 90º on its centre, or about face; a unit can limber or unlimber.
Square: Infantry in square (or sheltering gun crew) may not change formation if cavalry are within 12”.

Usual IP costs.
Action on next card: Movement rate on a Move or Melee! card can be doubled for a chosen unit; a dice roll on the next card can be adjusted Up 1; a C-in-C will automatically pass Army Morale tests at 0 AMP; ignore Lull cards; etc.
Firepower Adjustment: A chosen unit may immediately fire with an Up 1 modifier.
Initiate Melee: A chosen unit may initiate melee, counting the Heroic Moment card as Melee!

Next card test: To use the next card each command group must test LD Vs D8. If the test is failed units within the command group cannot use the card.

Squares, Integral skirmishers and artillery sections: Ignore Infantry Firepower and Artillery Firepower cards and ‘reload’ on the Reduced Firepower card instead.

Infantry: Initially have 4 UI. Cavalry: Initially have 3 UI. Artillery: Initially have 2 UI. Hits: All UI are 3 hits.

Mandatory fall back: Skirmishers cannot close with a formed enemy and will automatically fall back towards their parent body to maintain a distance. When the frontal distance between a formed enemy and the parent body is ≤ 4” skirmishers will fully withdraw and rejoin their unit.
UI losses on skirmishers: UI losses on skirmishers count against their parent body.
Loaded status on deployment: Skirmishers deploying from their parent unit adopt its current ‘loaded’ status.

Casualty checks: Attached leaders must test whenever their unit is the target of firepower or melee. Roll D6, on a result of 1, or a result UI losses, the officer may become a casualty: Roll D6, on a result of 1 - 2 the officer is killed (lose 1 / 3 AMP, officer / C-in-C); on a result of 2 - 6 the officer is incapacitated; replace / recover on own next Army Morale card.

Looking at the tables you will notice a line for 'coloured bead' modifiers. For Piquet players unused to our roster sheet system, well, we don't ever use them. Instead we use 'unit pin plates' with coloured beads. See photo below: Looking at the unit from behind, the bead on the left is the DD bead, the bead on the right is the CD bead. Green beads indicate No Change, red beads Down 1, etc. The number bead is the command group ID number. Ignore the yellow bead - yellow beads were part of the abortive integral skirmishers rule we ditched at the end of the last game.