Friday, 29 April 2016

Blucher Playtest - Part 1

I've heard some good things about Blucher and always keen to try Napoleonic rules out, so I've bought a copy and started setting up a test game to play. The rules are at a similar level to the Grand Tactical version of my SLS rules - so manoeuvre units are Brigades or Divisions rather than battalions. Reading through them there are some things that match exactly to the way I'd do them (eg handing of Divisional guns) but others that seem really odd (every artillery round is less effective than the previous one!).

Blucher - Board Set-Up
The image above shows the Along the Danube introductory scenario set up. Needless to say I'm using hexes, and luckily 1BW in Blucher is suggested to be 75mm, which isn't far off a 100mm hexon hex. Figures are 6mm, with 2-3 battalion bases combined to make each Battalion - just as I do with Grand Tactical. All units are originally shown as blinds.

Austrian front line revealed
The scenario starts with the French turn, so on their initially Intelligence phase they can get all Austrian units within 4 hex and in sight to declare. I quite like this use of blinds and think I've finally worked out what to do with them in SLS. I've always wanted to give units not in the activation deck some form of benefit (as having them not in the deck speeds a turn), so what I'll do is say that you put a units card face-down on the table as its blind, so disguising its true nature, and then bring a card into activation (and reveal its units) at the start of any turn, or by spending a command point.

More on the playtest as it unfurls over the next week or so.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Battle of Austerlitz AAR: 2 Dec 1805

Looking NE up the battlefield, Pratzen Heights between the players. Note more or less unused rear (E) table.

Sunday, down to Liphook for the Liphook Historical Wargames Society's refight of Austerlitz. With the Bicentenary refights ending last year the club is now revisiting old favourites, so this year its Austerlitz and hopefully Jena or Auerstedt. Trevor puts a lot of effort into organising these events and building the huge terrain (they are 25mm, 1mm=1yd scale), and the scope of the games is always superb. For this game we had about 7-8 a side, so people were pretty busy, and I found myself as Napoleon.

Napoleon, me, commanding forward from near Pratzen

From the Players Brief it looked like the intention was to do a proper refight of Austerlitz, with the allies trying to extricate themselves once the French fell on their rear. However the allies had other plans, and from turn 1 had southward moving columns moving as slowly as possible, and a large force (Miloradovich and Kollowrat?) moving directly over the Prazten heights for the French arrival point (we only started with Legrange's Division on the table down on the Goldbach). Given this in reality Napoleon is likely to have not deployed forward and either defend the Goldbach, or move back to fight another day at a better location, given that he was heavily outnumbered, but this being a wargame we had to stay and fight. So what followed was not so much a refight of Austerlitz as an unbalanced wargame over the Austerlitz ground.

Cavalry face off in the southern sector

The game was one of two halves. For most o fthe first half all the action was in the South as the Allies gradually forced us out of village after village, and Davout's small reinforcements were not enough to hold the retreat. However Davout's cavalry dominanace actually meant that we ended up holding all the open ground in the South, with the Allies just holed up in the villages (which unfortunately is where the victory points were). It was then more or less stalemate for the rest of the game. In the North the French fell back on Pratzan (but still held the Heights - or at least its trig-point!) in the face of the Allied advance, waiting for Bernadotte and the Guard.

The battle for the villages

In the second half the focus switched to the North. Bernadotte went forward between Pratzen and Blasowitz into a line of about 6 Allied gun batteries. The left flank was open though so the Guard and other Cavalry started a flanking action and took out most of the Allied cavalry in the North. Soult was reinforced by the Guard and Duroc's Grenadier Division which fought to hold the Heights, and drive a wedge between the Allied forces around the Heights and those facing Bernadotte. Through this gap one of Vandamme's gallant Brigade's made a bee-line for the Stare Vinohrady trig-point, worth 20 victory points. The game ended with the Pratzen spot-high contested, and Bernadotte still slogging his way through the Allied guns, but cavalry from Davout heading North to disrupt a renewed Allied attack on the Heights from the South.

The Russian guns that met arriving French

Not the most rewarding of Liphook games, but offset but a wonderfully expansive table - even if the fighting was reduced to 3 pockets, and almost stealing victory from the jaws of defeat - we lost only 30-40. Will be interesting to see what the casualty figures are like.

The fight on the Prazten Heights, Prazten village in distance to NW

Bernadotte's heroic assault on the Russian gun lines

ENDEX - Looking SW down the table, Heights mid-table

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Taliban Figures

Taliban figures done, just need to finish off the buildings and I'll be ready for a game.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

ACW Survey Update #1

Gulp! We've only had the survey up for a few days and already had 112 responses and 302 battle reports. Judging by the TMP comment thread looks like a lot have come form their, and some nice constructive comments about how to tweak the survey - I'll see what we can do without losing the data!

You can take part in the survey at:

By the way I also found this cracking logo for the Sesquicentennial, as I suppose I should be calling it, couresty of

Battle of Powick Bridge, 23rd Sept 1642

I've decided to play through 3-4 major engagements of the English Civil War a year, working chronologically through the war, so 2016 is 1642, 2017 will be 1643 etc.

That means first up it has to be the Battle of Powick Bridge, which took place near Worcester when Parliamentarian and Royalist cavalry bumped into each other whilst Rupert was escorting a supply train of plate.

I used the Warr Without An Enemie: Battle of Powick Bridge scenario - although its description of the battle is almost the opposite of Wikipedias! Must check my other sources. Either way its a small cavalry skirmish with about 3 regiments a side.

Given the small size I was able to use my 20mm ECW figures. I used my own ECW rules (hex based, some commonality with my Steady lads Steady horse & musket rules), and Hexon terrain at about 30m per hex (usually 100m per hex, but I used two bases=1 Troop = 1 hex frontage). Since there was no real musketry or gunnery nothing else needed changing and all worked out quite well.

Initial dispositions, looking S across Powick Bridge. Sleeping Royalist in the foreground, Parliamentary advance guard on the bridge

Parliamentary cavalry crosses the River Teme

Royalist cavalry rallies having been pushed back in the initial melee

Prince Rupert counter-attacks across the bridge.

Royalist pushing S from the bridge, but on Turn 5 the main Parliamentary cavalry force turns up, so it will probably be curtains.

Finishing off the game tonight as dining table needed for Friday night!


The victorious Roundheads charge across Powick Bridge

Well that didn't take long. First unit activated was the main Parliamentarian cavalry force. They routed the disordered Royalists on the bridge, who in turn disordered the troop behind them, who were I turn promptly despatched by the advancing roundheads, game over.

Overall I was pretty happy with how the rules played with such a small force and with Troops standing in for Regiments. Since there was no firing I didn't have to worry about adjusting ranges, or worrying about small pike and musket groups, so not sure how it would have worked if there was infantry around.

Less happy about the fact that the scenario appeared to have the battle the wrong way round - will do my own research as well next time I use a pre-printed scenario!

Routing Royalists and the custom card deck

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

American Civil War Wargaming Survey

Following on from the success of our Napoleonic Bicentenary Wargames Survey we've decided to run another survey but based around the American Civil War.

Since 2015 saw the 150th Anniversary of  the end of the American Civil War we reckon that there's a good chance that the last 5-6 years will have seen many 150th Anniversary wargames, So, as with the Napoleonic survey, we thought it would be interesting to get a survey of all the ACW wargames that have been played in the last few years - and how they turned out.

The survey has five pages, and should only take 10 minutes to complete.

The survey will be open until 20 Aug 16, and we'll try to post updates on the survey to my blog as to how many responses we're getting. We'll then aim to write up the results during Sep/Oct. We aim to publish the results of the survey online, and hopefully also get a summary into one or more of the wargaming magazines.

We hope you find can find the time to complete it, and we look forward to sharing the results.

You can find the survey at

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Salute 2016 - Purchases

Photos to follow as I get things painted up.
  • Hexon pre-order of some slopes, so I don't have such abrupt hills
  • Baccus pre-order of a load of War of the Roses 6mm to finish off my WOTR force giving me enough to fight Bosworth at about 1:33, probably using Sword and Spear
  • A great haul from Four Square of their resin 15mm Afghan buildings and walls for my modern skirmish project, and a couple of 6mm bridges
  • A pack of 20mm metal French Napoleonic line from NewLine. 20mm looks so great on Hexon, and to me has a better "density" than 15mm or 25mm/28mm. And I've got too many plastic 20mm I can't see myself abandoning the scale. But I do like the idea of metal figures, and having battalions of all one pose, so time to try some metal 20mm and see how they blend in.
Book wise:
  • Maida - 15 Minutes of Glory - was after it anyway for a 210th Anniversary wargame shortly, and was 1/2 price
  • A Ken Trotman Monograph reproducing a turn of the century (1890s) analysis of Austerlitz - timely since I'm Napoleon in the battle next weekend, and only £1
  • A Lance and Longbow booklet on Livery of the War of the Roses, just right for those Baccus figures and my new activation cards.
On the bits and pieces side some MDF bases and movement trays - still not quite what I want - and some metal paper to test out with the Poundland magnetic tape I bought on Friday.

Salute 2016 - Photos

Good day at Salute yesterday, well worth the round trip from Birmingham. Despite being there from 11-4 I didn't get to play in any participation games, which was a pity. Would have been nice to try the new Airfix Wargame and the Thunderbirds co-op board game, and the Crawley(?) Wargames Club D-Day using baking trays looked fun. Need to get up earlier next year!

The biggest general point of note was that the event, both in games and traders, appeared to be dominated by SF and Fantasy. At a rough guess I'd say that they accounted for 75% of each. However since the games were typically more gang/boutique it was still the bigger historical games that dominated the hall - although there seemed to be far less of them than previously. Also a lot of Kickstarter activity - will be interesting to see which are still around in a couple of years...

Photo's first, then what I bought in the next post. Not organised enough yet to tell you exactly which club did which, again maybe next year.

Nice looking 1/300th BAOR game, loved all the engineering vehicles parked up in the town - looks like the same vintage Heroics models as I've got.

I was on the look out for some enemy for my 15mm SF force. I like Hard SF so I'm not after weird looking aliens or impractical helmets. So more a Europe vs China type scenario - 2300AD style. If they fit in with Traveller even better. These figures on the GZG stand look like they'll fit the fill - the helmets are not even a parsec away from the Zhodani helmets. Will buy in the Autumn.

Lovely looking 28m ECW game doing a what-if of an attack on Bristol. Whilst my 6mm ECW is highly practical is does tempt me to do some more 20mm ECW.

Agincourt again in 28mm I think. Table looked incredibly crowded between the two woods. Certainly not a game of manoeuvre.

A small game in almost every sense, but which appeared to have a steady audience. Israeli vs Syrians in 3mm, with about a Division a side represented 1:1 in tanks on a wonderful terrain. The little city/town patches were great (Brigade Models I believe). The guy said the ground scale was also 1/600th but that cant be right, as even if it was 2m x 2m that would be only 1.2 km x 1.2km and given the number of towns on the board that doesn't add up. 12km x 12km would be more like it. Great game though.

Some lovely snow effects on this Eastern Front game.

Really nicely presented gameby "Bill Gaskin and Friends" of the Battle of Wilhelmstadt in the Seven Years War using Black Powder, with a superb village off in the distance. Copious notes and background which really ought to be a must for a big public show like this. Alan (old wargame buddy and who met me up at the show) and Nick and I actually put in to do a game at Salute this year but didn't make the cut. Hopefully we'll be more successful this year, and if we do then this is the sort of standard I'd like to aspire to.

Finally another really good looking Peninsular game. The guy said that the figures were 54mm, but they looked bigger than that to me - "Heroic 54" in comparison the to old Airfix 54mm vignettes I've got.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Afghan Gaming - The Brits

Like many wargamers I've always been a bit wary about gaming ultra-modern conflicts like Afghanistan, Cechneya and the Ukraine. However I've just started painting up an "early" Afghan force, circa 2008, so I must be thinking that there is enough distance beginning to build up there, and the conflict in its initial form has certainly come to an end.

There are though a few extra reasons why wargaming this period/setting is of particular interest to me:

  • The very asymmetric nature of the combat lends itself to a different kind of wargame. Judging by the helmet cam coverage just one wounded Brit is enough to call "endex". It looks like the Too Fat Lardies forthcoming Fighting Season rules make a good attempt to capture this, with every operation being judged more or less on how it might look in the Daily Mail the next day.
  • I'm on the look out for a set of near-SF skirmish rules, but most that I've seen so far are either too gamey or too much into snazzy weapons. An "updated" modern set might be just what I'm after.
  • There are some very real debates at the moment about what the modern force should consist of. What should be the load-out of the fire team and the section - particularly the mix of GPMGs and LMGs. Also should fire support be at the company not battalion level - or even a fourth section at platoon level. What will be the impact of the new wheeled MIV? Being able to game these current debates brings a new angle to my (our) games.
  • My day job puts me at the edge of military simulation, so who knows I might be able to find a commercial way to put modern wargame rules to use.

The photos here are of my British platoon. Figures are TSS/QRF 15mm. I'm no great painter but hopefully they pass the 2ft test. Next up some Afghans, a WMIK and some suitable houses.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Roaches

Lovely day's walking on the Roaches - better weather than we had in Scotland!

Otter spotting in Argyll

Highlight of last week's holiday. We also THINK we saw a beaver at the Scottish Trial site, but only a duck sized speck/head in the binoculars.