Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hypothetical Battle of Ottignies 18 June 1815

Something I've been hoping to do for a while came to fruition last night - a game of Napoleon's Battles at the NWS.

In fact a number of things came together.

First I was able to put together a reasonably straightforward small scenario, around 300 points on a two to three foot by three foot playing area.

Second I was able to use the SPI Boardgame Napoleon's Last Battles to construct the scenario, something I knew the game lent itself to but had never tried it out till now.

Third it is themed for the Waterloo Bicentenary and showed progressive on planning for the big event underway at the NWS.

Fourth I got to try out my 2D hill.  I generally avoid hills as I hate carefully positioning my troops only to have them slide away.

Fifth I got to use my figures, including some old and some new.

Sixth I got to introduce two friends to my favourite Napoleonic rules.

But could I produce an enjoyable game?

Background to the Battle of Ottignies

Marshal Grouchy is pursuing the Prussians towards Warve when he hears the massed cannon fire to the west. Leaving the I Cavalry Corps and 21st Division to screen Warve he marches to the sound of the guns with the II Cavalry Corps and III and IV Corps.

He crosses the River Dyle at the village of Ottignies around 15:00 to find the Prussian III Corps approaching from the North. He turns to face them with the II Cavalry Corps and III Corps so the IV Corps can slip round to join the Emperor. He is relieved to receive a despatch sent at 13:00 on which Napoleon has personally written "do not lose an instant in drawing near to us, in order to join us and crush Bulow, whom you will catch in flagrante delicto."

Order of Battle

The French

[5M ]
III Corps
[ 3F ]
Eight Division


[ 12D ]
[ 10D ]
Tenth Division
[ 12D ]
[ 14D ]
Eleventh Division

[ 12D ]
[ 10D ]
Corps Artillery

II Cavalry Corps
[ 1F]
Ninth Cavalry Division
[ 10D ]

Tenth Cavalry Division
[ 10D ]

The Prussians

III Corps
von Thielemann
[ 8M ]
Ninth Brigade
von Borcke


[10D ]
[8D ]
[10D ]
Tenth Brigade
von Kempfen

[ 8D ]
[10D ]
Eleventh Brigade
Luck und Witten
[10D ]
[10D ]
Twelfth Brigade

[ 8D ]
[10D ]
[10D ]
von Hobe
[6D ]
[6D ]

The Game

The French have deployed first and can be seen in the top half of the picture, with the village of Ottignies on their right.  The Prussian side is the Northern edge and so the sound of the guns from the big battle is coming from the right of the picture.  Only cavalry could be deployed in the right hand third of the battlefield as this is where they had marched to before turning to face their respective enemies.  The left hand side of the picture should show the River Dyle, but I had not been prepared for the big table surface (which was much bigger than the 3x3 table required).

The French move first and seize the low rise.  The Prussians have the worst of the long range fire conducted during the 16:00 turn.

As I was busing umpiring and keeping Mark B who played the Prussians, and Stephen N, who played the French, in line (no pun intended) I didn't take any more close up pictures.  The labels, while coloured show up very white in the photos - they were a pale blue and a pale grey.  The 2D hill (a painted piece of lino) worked well.  It has now put the bases I use to denote built up areas to shame.

16:30 and the French attack, committing their generals to gain maximum advantage.  The Prussian cavalry has reacted and hit the lead brigade of the 8th Division as well as engaging one of the two small cavalry divisions in Excellman's II Cavalry Corps to stop it coming to exposed infantry's support.

The Prussian Uhlans routed the French and went on to perform a controlled recall that took out the III Corps 12pdr battery, ran down the routing French which dispersed them and caused Grouchy to flinch.  Else where the combats went more in the French favour, but by the end of the 16:30 turn the remainder of the 8th Division was looking very thin (one casualty away from dispersing and facing a mass of Prussian guns - they were leading a charmed life).

The 17:00 turn saw the attack by Vandamme repulsed.  As it was late we decided to end the game at this point (we had played for about three hours).  The Prussians had a little bit of fight left in them, but their cavalry was all but used up.  The French cavalry was still serviceable, but Vandamme was going to need to rally the big brigade of the 10th Division if he was stop his corps from going fatigued.

There was some excellent use early on by von Thielemann of his free roll markers, reversing outcomes.  For a long time Marshall Grouchy held free roll marker superiority, but in the last turn unsuccessfully tried to reverse two outcomes only to make them worse.  The two players each finished up with one free roll marker left so I guess it was a draw.


I was surprised we only managed three turns.  Eight turns were available, but starting just 1,200 yards apart, the relatively open battlefield and evenly matched forces meant action started very quickly.  The French knew they were somewhat fragile and that their strength lay in their commanders so a quick attack was to their advantage.

I only had to check a few things and I don't think any mistakes were made.  Playing umpire has its advantages.  I only recall my decisions being questioned once and the dice Gods came to my rescue with swift retribution.

I am looking forward to playing it again as I certainly enjoyed it.

The scenario can be found here:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lucky Find

So today I went to the 3 in 1 markets at the Claremont Showgrounds - Hand Made Crafts; Antiques and Collectibles; and Polka Dot Vintage Market.  I wasn't expecting to find anything, but you never know.  I saw somethings I was interested in and when the vendor said $10 each I snapped them up.

Not sure they are Amer Com originals, but I can't believe anyone would think there is a market in cloned copies.  They will go nicely to build up my 1/72nd scale WW2 forces.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Medieval Scottish Army

This fantastically constructed and painted 15mm Medieval Scottish Army by my wargaming friend Mark Woods needs to be seen.  I highly recommend checking out this post:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sails of Weary

Last night I umpired a game of Sails of Glory between Mark B commanding the British HMS Vanguard and HMS Trepsichore (or HMS Meleager, I can't remember, these English frigates all look the same) and James from the ANF commanding the French Genereux and Courageuse.  My models with terrain by the NWS.

As can be seen I have rebased my ships and I'm halfway through painting the masts and yards.  I also intend to reflag then.  While the SoG base was practical it was not aesthetic and did not look good in photos.  Without a bit of detailing the models also tend to look a little like something you might find in a Kinda Surprise.  But they are an excellent source of boats and it is great to have something that is ready to go straight out of the box.

It was Jame's first game of SoG and a step up from his previous command of a longboat in the Battle of San Domingo.  Mark B has some SoG experience, but as we shall see he might have been a tad tired, hence my title for this post.

French on the right, British on the left with the wind coming down from the top.

The Genereux rakes the bow of the British frigate, but does very little damage.

The British frigate has a go back, but also does little damage.

The French frigate has sailed off, leaving the Genereux and HMS Vanguard to batter it out.  They had almost collided, but as the umpire I decided they had just missed, otherwise there would have been a risk of entanglement and sails would have been struck forcing them to get underway from scratch.

True to history the French ship went for the rigging with a broadside of chain shot.  Also true to form the British blasted the French crew to bits.

A bit more sailing around and then the two frigates had at each other.  The Frenchman catches fire while the Englishman springs a leak.

Then the big boys have a go.  Poor Genereux is unable to score a hit, while HMS Vanguard puts a hole in the French frigate.  The glow in the water around the British frigate is a reflection of its charmed life.

And then it goes to pot (not sure what the British nautical expression is, but I am sure it would be rude).  For some reason the English Captain has decided to try the French tactic of using chain shot, not fully appreciating the limited range and wasting a perfect stern rake.

Equally confounding, the British frigate sailed to port rather than starboard.
The Genereux, after its lucky escape, turns and rakes the bow of the HMS Vanguard, doing significant damage including two leaks.

The French frigate fires on the HMS Vanguard which is busy undergoing repairs with all hands to the pumps.

The Genereux looks on as its companion is destroyed in the final firing of the encounter which leaves both British ships with significant damage.  The Genereux heads for home and the British ships wearily limp off to get repaired.


We were using a simplified process for repairs that saw them completed at the end of a turn.  This was borrowed from Bruce W who provided me with his in house rules.  Bruce has been running a play by email Wings of Glory game and we had a few exchanges about Sails of Glory and he very kindly provided me with his in house rules and turn summary.  Very handy.

This game came hard on the heals of the Signal Close Action game.

While there are things I really like about SoG, I think there is a good bit of chrome and some of the play aids were more of a nuisance.  The order chits are fiddly.  The difference in movement due to sail setting and even wind direction is small given the base length movement (the same applies in Wings of Glory, but is not so noticeable).  The variation in distance is almost equal to the aberration caused by handling, bumping and touching of the models during play.  The damage chits, while fun, were also a bit time consuming as the right chit bag was fumbled for and then adding to the fun of packing the game up.

SoG is good for game on a club night, but I think it could be made easier.  Regardless I like how my models are turning out.  In the pictures only the Genereux has had its masts and yards fully painted.  Except for the French frigate all have had a wash over the sails.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chaeronea in 15mm using Field of Glory 2.0

Yesterday I was fortunate to take part in a refight of Chaeronea as part of the NWS battle day.  The aim was to refight the game with different rules and scales.  I had already had a go using DBA sometime back, the result of which can be found here:

The NWS post on this game, from the view of the Greek commander, can be found here:

The NWS post contains the Order of Battle.  What follows is my take, from my position as Phillip on the Macedonian right.  I also had some of my figures in use, but they were on the Greek side.

Looking from the Macedonian left to right.  The Greeks were deployed Thebans, Mixed States and Athenians from their right to left.  That meant I was facing the Athenians (my troops are in the top right hand corner of the photo).  

My figures provided the Theban Sacred Band.

The view of my part of the line, from the Athenian side.  I had a unit of superior Agrianian javelinmen deployed on the difficult hills that I thought were more than a match for the poor quality Athenian light troops facing them.  Next I had two units of superior Hypaspists commanded by Phillip (the long block of red uniforms).  A monster block of pike under the command of a general and finally the Companions, plus a stack of green dice.  I am facing an array of Hoplites holding higher ground which may offset my advantages of quality and armour.

Another look at the table, in the rooms of the North Perth Bowling Club.

My javelinmen advance.

Our forces hold their ground, just straightening the lines ready for an opportunity that the skirmishers would hopefully create.

My figures provided the Athenian light troops.

By turn three the Athenian commander was pulling his light troops back.  I really wanted them to stay and fight.

Phillip had advanced to make sure my javelinmen were suitably encouraged.

I considered my options and decided to tempt the Athenian heavy foot by expanding before them and showering them with taunts.

On the left flank our light troops had got stuck in, but it was not going well.  Unfortunately my figures, which were also being used for the Theban light foot, were fighting too well.

The taunting had worked and on turn five the Athenians advanced, along with the return of their light troops.  Their numbers meant their missile fire had more effect and my javelinmen took a casualty.

But the dye was cast.  We advanced to within 300 paces and the Greeks were faced with a dilemma: either try and hold 14 units or charge and lose the benefit of the high ground.  They charged.

With the exception of the cavalry and recovering light troops, the two armies were now locked in combat.  It was turn ten.

It was close, but quality and my attached commanders paid off.  Two units of Hoplites were disrupted and one fragmented by the Hypaspists.  The Pike block held its opponents to a draw.

At the point of impact the Greeks had 13 units against the Macedonian 12.  The results were 2 disrupted and 1 fragmented on the Macedonian side and 4 disrupted, 2 fragmented and 2 broken on the Greek side.

The fighting continued on turn eleven.

By the end of that turn the Hypaspists had broken their opponents.

Elsewhere along the line the Greeks were breaking.

The fighting continued to turn twelve,

But it was all over as the Greeks continued to break with no hope of recovery.

On the left the Theban Sacred Band are getting ready to make a last stand.  Despite some successes on this part of the battlefield, they were doomed.  But it is a nice shot of some of my figures.  Movement trays come in handy, especially for keeping troops lined up and stopping stand overlap

A quick shot of the 28mm game, at the time our game had finished.  Lots of movement trays in use here, and some very nice terrain and it goes with out saying, some beautiful figures.

The 28mm game was being fought with Clash of Empires, a rule set I am not familiar with.

Unfortunately I had to rush off to another engagement as soon as the 15mm game finished, but I certainly thought our game was a good outcome.  Winning helps, but there was plenty of action and decisions to make (I was glad I had committed my two generals to the combats from the very beginning as it certainly gave my units the edge. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Wings over Gallipoli

Last Wednesday at the NWS Stephen N ran a semi historical encounter set in the skies above a somewhat greener Gallipoli featuring a lone Turkish Fokker E.III KUVVA-1 HAVVAIYE * 6 BOLUK (well that is what is written on the card) flown by Hauptmann Hans Joachim Buddecke intercepting three Allied planes.

I got to play the Turk.

While greatly outnumbered, Stephen did give me some special abilities: avoid green gun jams, no need to do a straight after an Immelmann, fire first and something about avoiding being tailed.  Sorry I don't recall the much more attractive terms used for these abilities.  As will be seen only one, associated with an Immelmann, was actually used.

The game started with a surprise attack and I must have got a good shot in as the green plane started smoking.

Unfortunately my new smoke marker, which Stephen kept referring to as Marge Simpson, was a bit too heavy for the gimbal mounted plane

Of course, well positioned for follow up attacks I find my gun has jammed.  Not one that my special abilities could over ride either.

I pursued, concerned that the enemy were getting away.  At least it gave me time to clear the jam.

They had scattered and the green plane had dived.  However I found that by side slipping I could actually gain on them.

And gain I did.

The red nosed monoplane suffers catastrophic damage (i.e. the explosion card) and plummets.

The target of the Allied mission is now in view.  Their aim was to photograph a Turkish warship.  It might have borne a strong resemblance to the Goeben, but we are not saying.

My plane is above the other two, but I'm diving down.

And firing my gun into the yellow plane.  The green plane is firing at me, but it is largely ineffective.  My shooting not so and the yellow plane bursts into flames.

We were close, very close.  I think it is unfair that planes can't fire when their bases over lap, but such are the rules.

My Immelmann turn.  Now to use my skills.

Instead of having to go straight I turn and I am back on the green plane's tail, giving it a burst.

It didn't take much.

The yellow plane burnt up and went down as well.

Game over.

 In all I took just 2 damage points in two cards (0 and 2), but as these 1915 model planes only have about 10 or 11 all up, it soon adds up.  One reason why the yellow and green planes went down.

I was just amazingly lucky, perhaps aided by the Allies (Mark B and Simon C) sticking to mission and not attempting to really engage me in aerial combat.  We were only given 18 turns and had used up about 10 by the time we finished (which left just enough for the Allies to fly home if they had survived.