Friday, May 31, 2019

NQSYW: Field Maneuvers at the Weishaus Tavern

King Rupert had noted the the recent performance of the army of Schoeffen-Buschhagen on the field had been, to say the least, uninspiring.  While troops deployed against Rosmark had some success in le petit guerre, stopping a vital convoy of supplies for the Rosish forces, and had successfully delayed the advancing Rosish by destroying the bridge at Sittangbad (though at fearful cost),  attempts to counterattack had not been successful.  Recalling reports of a session  of field training maneuvers which had been held by the initiative of a group of Allied colonels some time previously, the King and the Prince-Palatine of Wachovia agreed that another such exercise should be conducted.

Adjudication Team meeting before the maneuvers

The field of action, with Monk's Hill on the left, the orchard in the left center, and the Weishaus tavern in the right center

A relatively open area near the Weishaus tavern was chosen for the action.  The Adjudicators were briefed on the rules for the day's activities, and the troops were drawn up as though for battle.

The Wachovians deployed with their gun on the far right of their line, intending to emplace it on a small hill, and both of their cavalry regiments in the relatively open ground between the Weishaus and the hill.  Three infantry battalions were tasked with seizing the Weishaus, control of which was considered to be the condition of victory.  The light infantry were poised to advance into the orchard, and a forth infantry battalion anchored the line to the left.

The Schoeffen-Bushhagen troops, approaching the field from the north, deployed with their light infantry at the edge of the wood on their left, dragoons at the road to the tavern, three infantry battalions poised to attack the orchard and angle, and a right flank guard consisting of the artillery, which intended to deploy on Monk's Hill, an infantry battalion for security, and the hussars as a flank guard.

S-B infantry advances on the angle by the orchard
The Chief Adjudicator ordered the bugles sounded to commence the action.  Eager to demonstrate their elan, the Wachovian hussars dashed across the field and attacked the King Rupert Jaegers, still drawn up by the woods in a line formation.  Despite the protests of the hussar commander, the Adjudicators ruled that the charge had failed, and that the hussars were destroyed.  The hussars cheerfully headed off to the tavern to await the end of the maneuvers, and it was later suggested that this might have been a deliberate ruse on their part to get out of the action early to begin the drinking.  The Adjudicators may have to consider this point in future maneuvers.

Wachovian hussars realizing that the drinking can begin once they have been adjudicated as casualties
With the Wachovian hussars cleared from the field, the S-B dragoons (elements of the Prince's Dragoon Guards not involved in the recent surrender at Sittangbad) spurred across the field to be met by a countercharge by the Wachovian cuirassiers. Since it was just an exercise, both sides slowed before contact and engaged in a display of horseback fencing.  The Adjudicators ruled that the S-Bs had the better of the contest, and the cuirassiers trotted off to await the end of the day, along with a few dragoons.

Cavalry clash
Meanwhile, in the center, the Schoeffen-Buschhagen infantry advanced with drums beating and flags flying.  The plan had been to take the Weishaus with a detachment of jaegers, while the line infantry cleared out the Wachovians.  In practice, this did not go as planned.  Wachovian jaegers (the Wilderin) in the orchard proved very difficult to dislodge, and the S-B infantry was slow in taking up positions along the roadside wall at the angle, which was expected to provide sufficient cover to be able to engage in a fire fight with the Wilderin.

The attack on the Angle
Out on the S-B left, another detachment of the King Rupert Jaegers was caught by a Wachovian line unit, which showed more enthusiasm for running than the Jaegers.  Perhaps this was another case of motivation during maneuvers being less than during an actual battle.  In any case, they were sent off to the tavern to await the end of the exercise.

Knowing it's only an exercise, S-B Jaegers fail to retire quickly enough
By mid-afternoon, the Wachovians were firmly in control of the Weishaus grounds.  In the center, one of the three S-B infantry battalions had been battered and was in danger of being removed from the field.

Wachovians seize the Weishaus

Situation about mid-action
The few S-B dragoons remaining in action attempted to deal with the Wachovian infantry, but despite charging them while they were reforming, were ruled defeated and out of action.  Their officers were getting thirsty, otherwise they would have undoubtedly protested this decision.
Remaining S-B dragoons attempt to break a small troop of Wachovian foot

Eventually rising losses among the S-B infantry in the center decided the action.  Compelled to withdraw, there was insufficient time to reform, organize another attack, and perhaps drive the Wachovians, also wearing down, from the Weishaus.

S-B infantry retires from the Angle
As the sun touched the horizon, the Adjudicators ordered the bugles sounded again, to signal the end of the maneuvers, and all the Allies settled down to supper, with drinks provided by King Rupert.  The Prince Palatine looked over the field at the thirsty troops, and remarked that he was pleased that his troops had won, as Wachovia could ill afford such a defeat.

The situation at the end; Wachovians hold the Weishaus as the clock runs out

The Players' view
From the players' point of view, this game was played with A Gentleman's War rules, from Howard Whitehouse and Dan Foley.  Since Norman was trying these out for the first time, we left the distinctions rules out, as suggested in the book.  In the NQSYW, our countries are always staunch allies, so we followed the fictional conceit we use for battles between the two as being field maneuvers.

While I didn't keep good notes, timestamps on the photos suggest that we started playing around 8:30 AM and finished up around 11:00, having cycled through three decks of cards.  We had agreed that breaking five units would constitute victory, or possession of the Weishaus at the end of the third deck (since Norman was up against a real world time limit and needed to get home).  As it was, we ran out the clock, although he was close to breaking a couple of my units. We had eight units per side, and the available space in the well of the game table is 3 feet by 5 feet.  Six units and perhaps one fewer terrain piece might have made for a more mobile game, but I am still getting a feel for the rules.  Nevertheless, I was generally very pleased with how much it felt like a larger battle.  Norman noted that he wouldn't want to give up the grand sweep of the Charge! rules which we usually use with these figures.  While I agree, we also would have been hard pressed to put a Charge! game on in this 3x5 space.  I intend to post a fuller review of the rules soon.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Huzzah 2019 AAR

It has taken me a week to get to my Huzzah report.  Ross Macfarlane has, as usual, written circles around me and gotten all of his Huzzah material posted already, although it might be noted that he has the advantage of being retired. For those not already familiar with Huzzah, it is an excellent local convention run each May by the Maine Historical Wargamers (MHW) in Portland, and has the additional special advantage of being about halfway between my house in Delaware and Ross's house in Nova Scotia.

In preparing for this year's Huzzah, Ross and I had agreed that we would field games using our Not Quite Seven Years War collections.  Mine hadn't been out in a year or so, at least until we did the remote playtest of the Ambush scenario a few weeks ago.  Following the playtest, we agreed on the force levels we would use at Huzzah.  I brought two 24-man infantry units, 2 12-man infantry units, 2 12-man cavalry units, a 12-man sapper unit, and a couple of guns, plus some command figures.  Two 6-liter boxes have been calculated to be the most that will fit under the seat on most commercial flights, and that all fit, once I selected the cavalry from those who were't waving swords in the air.

Infantry ready to go

Cavalry, with a few needed taller figures cushioned in handkerchiefs

Armies on the go; 2 6-liter Really Useful Boxes
Getting the troops through security was interesting, as always.  I could see by the look on the x-ray operator's face that she was trying to decide what to ask, so I just jumped in and said that it was a box of toy soldiers.

I met fellow HAWK Duncan Adams at the airport; we hadn't planned to travel together, but the limited air schedule from Baltimore to Portland meant that I wasn't completely surprised to see him.  We had a limited HAWKs team this year, just four of us altogether.

We arrived at the hotel in good time, before the MHW people had finished setting up registration.  Registration was the one element of the convention that didn't go as well as the MHW had probably hoped.  It was entirely my own fault that I forgot to register in advance, but the computer system they were using this year turned out, as they discovered, to be unable to register people at the door.  Handing them cash in return for a handwritten badge was not a problem, but it did have the knock-on effect of leaving me unable to register for any games, since I wasn't in the computer system.  They said that they would return the paper game registration books next year, or perhaps they will have the computer system worked out.  I will also make sure that I am properly registered...

Ross arrived within an hour, and we decided to set up a test game of A Gentleman's War in the afternoon session.  I don't have much to add to Ross's account of the battle.

A couple of turns in; initiative cards and rules prominently displayed

We were pleased with how the rules played, particularly as a two-player game.  I was a little slow in picking up the implications of the initiative system, and Ross was able to get better use from his artillery.  So, the forces of Schoeffen-Buschhagen were eventually compelled to retreat, leaving the village in the hands of the Rosish.

After supper, we set up the second game.  This was the ambush scenario (#30) from C.S. Grant's Scenarios for Wargames, using Ross's home rules, "With MacDuff to the Frontier".

S-B Adelmann Regiment advances to its blocking position

S-B von Nordhafen Regiment also moving to block

Wachovian Hussars facing down the Rosish cavalry

As Ross has noted, the Schoeffen-Buschhagen ambushing force put most of its strength into a blocking effort along the road, and left the light infantry off to their left to harass the convoy, and, as it turned out, lure a significant part of the convoy escort into chasing them into the rough ground away from the road and the wagons.  The S-Bs managed to win the game by not losing their patience .

I took the Saturday morning session off, to do some shopping and get my Gencon event wishlist in order, because the Sunday of Huzzah was also the opening of the Gencon events registration.  I was fairly restrained; although I did pick up a nice clean copy of  the Avalon Hill edition of Kingmaker and a couple of figures for my Dark Ages/Saga collection.

On Saturday afternoon we set up the second game we were running, the Sittangbad scenario from Charge!.  Ross and I occasionally slipped and referred to our usual forces as "my side" while gamemastering.  As it was, what felt like an endless array of "his" forces came rolling across the table at "mine", which were attempting to evacuate supplies and mine a bridge.  Excellent work by the King Rupert Jaegers in holding the farther town slowed down the advancing Rosish tide for just long enough to mine the bridge.  Rosish grenadiers had just assaulted "my" troops guarding the bridge and were in a position to clear the engineers if they drew the next initiative card.

Starting view of the table, prior to Rosish entry; key bridge at the upper left
S-B forces form a line to hold, following an initial cavalry melee

Just in the nick of time; the general and the engineers cross the bridge to safety moments before the explosion

Happily for S-B, the card fell for "us", and the general and the engineers made it to safety as the bridge was demolished in the explosion.  Unhappily, a dragoon regiment, the remaining grenadiers guarding the approaches to the bridge, and half of the engineers were left on the wrong side and compelled to surrender.  It is to be hoped that a prisoner exchange will occur soon.

Jeff Bickel's C&C Ancients Gaugamela game

I spent the evening session commanding the Persians against Alexander in a Command and Colors Ancients game run by Nova Scotian Jeff Bickel.  As expected, Alex was hard to beat, and we didn't...

We tried one more session of A Gentleman's War on Sunday morning before we departed.  I got busy running the game, and didn't end up taking more than one picture.

Rosmark artillery takes a toll of S-B Grenadiers
As noted in Ross's report, he used a fire advantage carefully, and the S-B infantry attack was repulsed without too much difficulty.

We talked about next year's convention over lunch; the current notion is that we will dust off and expand the French Revolution collection for the game(s).

Meisterzinn pieces for a new 1793 unit

Checking available Meisterzinn head castings against Funcken illustrations

More on that to follow...

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Battle of the Crossroads

I had the opportunity yesterday to break out the 1/72 scale plastic Portable Fantasy Campaign figure to resolve a pending battle in my solo Northlands campaign.  I’m still evolving the campaign resolution mechanics, but I had reached a point in March where I had a full-scale battle (using Hordes of the Things), but it’s taken a few weeks to finally get it done.  It’s terrible when you can’t find the opponent for a solo game...

The Cold Islanders (loosely Vikings) had invaded the Kingdom of Darmis (loosely medieval French), but a skirmish previously reported (last May) and a lot of parleys were the only actions up to now.  I may have to tweak the battle generation system, so that the amount of record-keeping per battle is a little more favorable.  However, with a battle in hand, I decided to take a suggestion from Ross and try a scenario battle, randomly chosen from Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargames book. I ended up with Scenario 11, “Surprise Attack”, based on Quatre Bras in 1815.  I randomly assigned Darmis the role of the attacker, which was appropriate since they had been trying to force a battle in the strategic decision system.
The Northlands Map, Rienne toward upper left

This left the Cold Islanders split up, with part of their force on the table and two parts arriving later.  I elected to go with the 15 turn time limit, but, as you’ll see, that didn’t end up being the decisive factor.  The Cold Islander had, in Hordes terms, a Hero-General, 2 Blades, 4 Warbands, and 2 Shooters, and Darmis had 4 knights (including the general), 3 Blades, 2 Shooters, and a Wizard.

Battle drawing, showing the opening phases

From the Northland Chronicle, as maintained at the University in Darmis:

In the seventh month of that year, King Rollant of Darmis, having failed to secure the removal of the Cold Islanders from the lands of the Count of Rienne by negotiation, resolved to attack the encampment of the barbarians.  Perhaps muddled by fine wines looted from the territory around Rienne, and lulled by the exchange of parleys, Eric Stronghand, leader of the Cold Islands army, was caught off guard by the King’s advance.

     Nevertheless, the Cold Islanders drew up their shield wall, and waited as the king and his knights formed their battle array.  Impatient with this maneuvering, the captain finally advanced to within bowshot of the knights, and the battle began in earnest.

     King rolland had secured the services of Cassara, of the Blue order, a sorceress of the great university in dramas, and hoped that her powers would enable a swift victory.
Knights of Darmis deploy into a battle formation
The first part of the battle, though, was won by steel and valor, as a charge by the king and his knights scattered most of the barbarians.

Eric and his shield companions finally reached the field, and were able to gather the scattered barbarians into a second shield wall.

Cassara sent a messenger to the king to tell him that the augers were propitious for her sorcery, and the king held back to allow her to do her work.  Four times the sky darkened and the mystic energies crackled about the field, and/or times Eric Stronghand stood against the spells.  But the fourth time was enough for him, and he and his companions charged toward the dreaded sorceress.

The final charge of Eric Stronghand
In close combat, axe against spell, Cassara finally prevailed, wrapping the Cold Islander in unbreakable bands of enchantment.

With their general ensorcelled and casualties heavy, the Cold Islanders broke and fled the field, racing to protect their boats.  Well pleased with this result, King Rollant withheld his knights, not permitting them to scatter in pursuit, and bade Cassara bring Eric to his table to discuss the terms of his ransom...

So, it wasn't a bad game overall.  I wasn't sure what would happen with scenarios in Hordes, but it seemed to work reasonably well, with a caveat for starting the Cold Islanders with their general off the table, doubling all their maneuver costs initially.  In retrospect, it might have been better for the Cold Islanders to take their chances with the Sorceress, since she used most of the command pips for four turns unsuccessfully casting spells at the enemy general.  However, past experience has led me to believe that a Hero-General has little chance in the long run against a Wizard, so I went ahead to see if I could eliminate the threat.

Now it's back to the log book to consider the next set of moves, and see what sort of battle will generated.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Battle Reports

One of my personal hobby challenges this year is to try to keep more entertaining records of games played, so I have been sketching maps with colored pencils to memorialize the games.

I was getting a little behind, so I was pleased to be able to take some time today to catch up on entries for the latest two games.
The Ambush scenario from the 20th of April

Here’s the Ambush scenario as played with Ross Macfarlane on the 20th...

Ghost Archipelago game from the 27th of April

and the Ghost Archipelago campaign game from the 27th.  I may yet get a fuller battle report for that posted here, since I do have a few additional pictures.

At any rate, since I am now caught up, I can set up the solo game for my (theoretically) ongoing fantasy campaign without a sense that there’s anything else I should be doing.