Monday, January 18, 2010

More New Troops

The Pfennig-Pfarthing Pfreicorps, brother regiment of the Hesse-Pfeffernusse Pfreicorps previously shown, lead by Col. Schilling.

General Jacques von Pflugnickel, of Pfennig-Pfarthing (known as "One-Eyed Jacque"). His mother was from Mayeux, his father from Pfennig-Pfarthing.

The Freicorps and the general are Foundry figures. The dogs are from Gripping Beast, a bear hunt set I bought some time ago. Here's the bear from that set. There are more of the same dogs in the set.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Construction

Recently I tried my hand at constructing some new buildings. The fronts and backs are made from mdf board (I think that's what it's called in the US anyway; not sure about the UK or other places. It's the soft stuff, smooth on both sides. Easy to cut and sand.) The sides are made from 3 inch wide pine boards. The building in the middle is the first one of these I made, which I completed as a sort of "proof of concept". The doors and windows are drawn on in pen and then painted. The base is separate so the buildings can stand on their own if I like.
The building on the left shows how I "clamp" them while the glue is drying, around a framework of legos, with hair bands to hold it all in place. That building also has an arch cut into it.
These 3 are all 3 inches deep by 4 inches wide and can hold 8 infantry figures.

The bridge on the right was one I made last year. The one on the left is a new one in progress - made with lessons learned from the first one.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules

Some people asked about how I played the Battle of Kuhglockchen, which rules. The short answer is it was pretty ad hoc. I didn't use any rulesset, commercial or otherwise. I've tried a few in the past year or so, but I haven't found any yet that fit the way I want to play. I'm still looking.

Some of the criteria I'm looking for:
Suitable for solo play (this has pluses and minuses - among the pluses, I can be flexible and make up stuff as needed; rules that require any sort of hidden knowledge are harder to do solo)
Quick (I don't want to leave a game set up for much more than a weekend usually, but I don't usually play it all in one non-stop session. I'll pause and take notes between turns. Go do other things, sleep, eat, etc.)
Very simple (I'm terrible at absorbing complex rules and just as bad at retaining them after reading through them several times; maybe if I played them more often I might eventually learn them. Still, I like simple rulessets to get started. Complexity can always be added later if desired.)
Fun (That's what it's all about in the end, isn't it?)
And they need to work well with few figures per unit (I don't have the time or space or even desire to paint and store and game with hordes of figures)

For this most recent battle I just made up most of it on the spot (based on things I have gleaned from various rulessets over the years, for various periods and genres) and will likely adjust and add to these ideas as I go. If I decided some circumstance called for a saving throw or other rule I made up my mind what it was and abided by the result. And I followed the same ruling if similar circumstances came up again later in the game.

Here are the basics (very "fast and loose" and subject to change):
Firing - each figure rolls 1D6 - a 6 is a hit (5 or 6 if it's the firing unit's first volley). Units in cover can save if they roll a 6. Others get no saving roll.
Artillery works the same way, roll 1D6 for each crewman - (5 or 6 if the target is close; not sure if that means 6 inches or maybe 12). Nobody gets a saving roll.
Range for small arms - 6 inches (more or less). For artillery - roughly 24 inches (very roughly).

Melee - each figure rolls 1D6 - a 6 is a hit if it's an even match (foot vs. foot, including artillery crew; or horse vs. horse). 5 or 6 is a hit when horse are attacking foot. Some cases a saving throw is called for - units behind a wall, or cuirassiers, for example. A roll of 6 on 1D6 is a save.

Movement - 6 inches for foot and cannons. 12 for cavalry. Takes 1 turn to go from the bottom of a hill to the top or to go through a small woods. I didn't bother with measuring though. Just guesstimated things.

Morale - If a unit's total number of figures falls below certain thresholds it rolls for morale at the end of the turn. For example, an 8 man infantry unit is down to 6 figures due to losses this turn. Roll 1D6 - pull back on a roll of 6. This unit can rejoin the battle next turn. Another unit is now down to 4 (from 8), they will run away on a roll of 5 or 6. This unit can attempt to rally (6 on 1D6) next turn. If they don't rally they run away another turn. If they're still on the table atfter the 2nd turn they can attempt to rally one more time. If they fail this time they're gone. Another unit is down to 2 figures (from 8) they run away on a roll of 4-6, remove them from the table. They don't get to attempt to rally.

In melee I didn't bother with trying to match up individual figures one to one (or 2 to 1). I just matched up units and rolled dice for the total number of figures in each. Only 1 unit can fight another from the front. An additional single unit can attack each flank (if they're in a position to do so). I didn't worry about ranks either. My line infantry units were on bases 2x4 inches in size, with 8 figures. So I rolled 8D6 for them in melee (or firing!). As casualties were removed units rolled fewer dice. I wasn't concerned about how many actual men each miniature represented. Number of figures in a unit were as much a measure of fighting ability - sort of like strength points. When the unit was reduced to zero figures it didn't mean 100% of the troops were killed (or even injured) it just meant the unit no longer had any capacity to fight, due to casualties, fatigue, loss of morale, etc.

I've been experimenting with number of figures per unit - back in the "old days" (before this blog) I tried units of 18-20 figures for foot units. When I started this project I realized 20 didn't work for me, so I tried reducing a little and doing 16 man units. After playing around a bit I reduced further to 12. The size I used in this latest battle seemed to work well for me. These small unit sizes allow me to do 28mm minis (I don't want to go smaller), but fit plenty of units on a small table. Larger units and "big battalions" are cool and impressive, but they take time and space I don't have. Fun games, even battles with a fair number of units can be had by reducing the numbers of figures. And it could be a good way to get started, for newcomers and for oldtimers trying out a new period. You could get started with just a few figures, and build units up later if you like.

I know this is all pretty nebulous, probably even a bit incoherent, and pretty sure not to everyone's taste, but it seemed to work for me as a purely solo gamer, fighting a battle to see how the story played out. In many ways it was more like "playing with toy soldiers" the way I did when I was a little kid, before learning there were such a thing as rulessets (or even rules!). It was fun!
Sometimes I even wonder if we really get more realistic results with more nuanced rules*?

*Is that heresy?

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Battle of Kuhglockchen in Pictures

The table, expanded out to 40 by 56 inches.
The battle starts

The Soweiter forces re-organize their line

Battle continues

The Soweiter forces react quicker than expected

The Batrachians press forward

Both flanks of the Soweiter line under heavy attack

The Soweiter line falls apart

And the Batrachians emerge victorious.

For this battle I used 8 man infantry units, which allowed me to fit more units on the table. Some of these units were created by splitting some of my existing 16 man units. For the cavalry I used 6 man units, and 4 man for light infantry and artillery. The number of figures in all cases determined the number of dice I threw for firing and for melee. I counted a 6 as a hit, or a 5 or 6 with the first volley of infantry. Cavalry attacking infantry got hits on 5 or 6. If the unit taking the hits was in cover or cuirassiers (because of their breastplates) they could save on a roll of 6. I also used some similar simple "rules" for morale. I didn't measure movement or ranges, just moved or fired at distances that seemed about right. Very "fast and loose".

The Battle of Kuhglockchen

Using Grant's Programmed Wargame Scenarios, scenario 5, The Weak Flank

The Soweiter League, General Hemminghaw
Jingleheimer-Schwartz Musketeers
Saxe-Urqhuart Highlanders
Mayeux Musketeers
Ballyfoole Grenadiers
3rd Glossopshire Croats
Saxe-Waldorf WaldJaegers
Jägers zu Pfeffernusse
Jingleheimer-Schwartz Dragoons
Heisenberg-Hasenpfeffer Hussars
Offenbach Artillery
Saxe-Goldberg Grenade Launcher

The Batrachian Empire, General de Siécle
Paprikash Grenadiers
1st King's Musketeers
2nd King's Musketeers
1st Queen's Musketeers
2nd Queen's Musketeers
Musketeers de Limbourg
Pandours du Pinque
Cuirassiers Royale
Wild Goose Chasseurs 1
Wild Goose Chasseurs 2
Chasseurs de la Moutarde
Poupon Dragoons
Royal Artillery 1
Royal Artillery 2

After receiving reports that the Batrachian army was on its way General Hemminghaw, commander of the Soweiter League forces in the area ordered his army to prepare for battle. As he expected the Batrachians to advance up the road from the south General Hemminghaw arrayed his forces along a ridge facing south. The Saxe-Urquhart Highlanders were placed in reserve behind the main battle line, while a small force composed of the 3rd Glossopshire Croats and the Jägers zu Pfeffernusse to guard the flank from inside a small woods.
Meanwhile, the wily old Batrachian commander, General de Siécle, had marched his army around to the west to hit the Soweiter line in the flank.
The battle opened with the 1st Queen's Musketeers and the Pandours du Pinque attacking the small force in the woods. About the same time the Hasenpfeffer-Heisenberg Hussars swung around to face the approaching Batrachian army.
Both sides exchanged fire.

From their vantage point on the hill the Ballyfoole Grenadiers were the next to turn to face the Batrachians.

The Heisenberg-Hasenpfeffer Hussars charge the 1st King's Musketeers, while the 1st Queen's Musketeers and Pandours du Pinque charge into the woods to attack the flank guard.

Meanwhile, with uncharacteristic alacrity, General Hemminghaw starts to re-organize his forces into a battle line facing west.

The Pandours du Pinque destroy the Jägers zu Pfeffernusse, but the 1st Queen's Musketeers are driven off by the 3rd Glossopshire Croats. In the main attack the 1st King's Musketeers destroy the Hasenpfeffer-Heisenberg Hussars. The rest of the Batrachian forces continue their advance and the Soweiter battle line continues to take shape.
The Ballyfoole Grenadiers and the 3rd Glossopshire Croats start pulling back towards the main Soweiter line.

The Batrachian advance continues, hitting the northernmost part of the Soweiter line first.
In their eagerness the Paprikash Grenadiers get out in front of the rest of the Batrachian line and take heavy fire from both the Mayeux Musketeers and the Jingleheimer-Schwartz Musketeers. Already hurting a bit from their initial encounter with the Ballyfoole Grenadiers this hail of fire wipes them out.
The battle really heats up, with volleys rolling up and down the lines of both armies. The Cuirassiers Royale, personally lead by General de Siécle, charge the Jingleheimer-Schwartz Dragoons and, at the other end of the line, the Pandours du Pinque charge the 3rd Glossopshire Croats.
The Wild Goose Chasseurs 1, having taken heavy casualties from fire by the Saxe-Urquhart Highlanders, are driven off by further fire from the Saxe-Goldberg Artillery (grenade launcher).

The Batrachian forces surge forward and attack the Soweiter line. The 1st King's Musketeers charge into the Mayeux Musketeers and drive them off. In the north, the 2nd Queen's Musketeers hit the 3rd Glossopshire Croats in the flank, causing heavy casualties, but the Glossopshire Croats hang on.
Melees continue all along the battle line.
The 2nd King's Musketeers charge the Ballyfoole Grenadiers, but the Grenadiers hold their ground. The 2nd Queen's Musketeers finally destroy the 3rd Glossopshire Croats. This opens up the Saxe-Urquhart Highlanders to being hit in the flank by the Wild Goose Chasseurs 2, causing heavy casualties on the Highlanders.
The Cuirassiers Royale wipe out the Jingleheimer-Schwartz Dragoons.
With the south flank opened up the Cuirassiers Royale sweep around and destroy the Offenbach Artillery. Meanwhile, in the north the Wild Goose Chasseurs 2 wipe out the Saxe-Urquhart Highlanders. Farther down the line the 2nd King's Musketeers destroy the Ballyfoole Grenadiers.

At this point the Soweiter League forces, deciding discretion being the better part of valor, retreat and leave the battlefield to the victorious Batrachian forces.

I didn’t really use a rules set for this game, just a few ad hoc rules as I played the battle out.
(Photos to follow in a second post)

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Recruits for a New Year

The Soweiter League's National Zoological Garden latest acquisition - wishing you a Hippo New Year!

The Hesse-Pfeffernusse Pfreikorps, led by Col. von Nussbaum, ably assisted by a grizzled old sargeant. (Standard bearer is off in the "wings" awaiting a flag)

Also from Hesse-Pfeffernusse, General Oscar von Pfreidegg