Saturday, 18 August 2018

English Civil War painting and rules

With the end in sight for the painting of my English Civil War (ECW) armies: 2 artillery, 3 cavalry and 4 infantry. I decided to purchase a few more figures for 2 commanded shot units from Hinds Figures Ltd who still produce the Hinchliffe range thank goodness.

These extra figures will delay me finishing the project by a couple of weeks. At present I am painting at a rate of 1 unit per week (slow and steady). The fact that I am happily gaming with the existing units I have painted makes the painting effort easier as each new unit completed soon gets recruited into the existing armies.

My house rules are starting to become more firm and I am now moving into the “rules tinkering” stage. As per usual the rules are aimed at playing a game with one hour and are inspired by One-hour Wargaming pike and shot rules. I have stuck with using D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) for combat as I really like the concept of a unit’s combat outcome being treated as: below average, average or above average.
The arrival of cavalry
For the sequence of play I am trying to reflect the difficulty of organising movement for the army as a whole and not at an individual unit level. I did consider a DBA style player initiative points (PIP) approach initially, but in the end opted for the following approach.

At the start of each game turn both players roll a D6.

  • The player with the lowest score goes first and is able to activate half their units, rounding up any fractions.
  • The player with the highest score goes second and is able to activate all their units.
  • Whenever scores are drawn there is a lull in fighting and both players can only activate their commanders.

This mechanism creates opportunities for one side to activate some units twice and capitalise on a situation, or be at the disadvantage by going first a few turns in a row. This second point lead to an optional rule whereby players are allowed to re-roll their turn dice. The number of time they could do this during a game would determined by their commanders ability. The greater then ability the greater number of times they can re-roll.

I will cover the other rules over the next few posts as the rules firm up.

A grid-based game
In the photos you will notice I have been playing games using both a grid and free movement. Although my leaning is currently towards using a gridded approach for the ECW period.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Some thoughts on the French Indian War Campaign

Well, the French Indian War campaign has come to a close. I thought there might be one or two more battles to play out, but at the operational level fate was on the side of the British and not the French. The final events are detailed on Jonathan’s Palouse Wargaming Journal.

Finishing this campaign is like when you have read the last page of a really good book. A slight sense of loss prevails you and you wonder what will take its place.

This campaign was run as a "solo campaign relay" and started way back in February this year. When Jonathan put forward the idea which consisted of him running the operational aspects of a FIW campaign while I fought out the battles on the wargame table. The original concept is detailed here.

The campaign lasted for just over 5 months and involved playing out some 20 battles. These battles involved: 14 attacks of forts, 5 battles without a fort, and 1 major siege. While the French lost the campaign, they actually won more battles (11 of the 20 engagements).

So some thoughts on the campaign...

Why did it work and last for 5+ months and not fizzle out?

The battles were played using a heavily modified variant of one-hour wargames. This meant all games were play to a conclusion normally within 1 hour and I could fit a game in easily in an evening. More often than not, I would set up one evening and play the next.

Most games were played with between 6 and 10 units of plastic Spencer-Smith Seven Years War figures. They are simply painted, and its is always a joy to pull them out of their containers and place them on the tabletop ready for a game.

A game in progress

Did I get the context to the battles?

Yes, the context came in two areas. Firstly, Jonathan provided an excellent campaign narrative and suggestions with each battle. Secondly, before most battles I took the opportunity to read up about the locations history and view map images of the period to help get a feel for how to setup the tabletop.

An attack on a fort - a necessary photo after 14 games involving forts.
Did the rules work out?

The rules are pretty well settled after 20 games. The combination of campaign rules and tabletop rules helped improve how regulars, militia, and warbands were defined in term of hits accumulated before elimination and combat values. 

Commander quality also made its way into the rules. Whereby a commanders defensive or attacking qualities improve his units resilience (hits they could take) depending if they were attacking or defending in the battle.

I now need to post the final rules and make a booklet as I have with by WW2 and Napoleonic rules.

Highlights of the campaign?

Some of the earlier games with the contest of Fort William-Henry were very interesting. Possible the taking of forts become a tad less interesting as the campaign progressed. However, the siege of Quebec (game 15) was most enjoyable and allowed me to get my star-fort onto the tabletop.

The Siege of Quebec

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Painted cloth terrain features

A while back I used watered down paint to help stain a piece of material to cover my tabletop (see here). Essentially a home made battle mat. Since then I have been looking at some of the other cloth items I use for roads and fields as they look a bit stark. Given how painting the battle mat worked out, I decided to tryout a painting approach with some of my field terrain features.

A yellow piece of felt used to represent a field
The yellow felt now painted.
A ploughed field made from a corduroy material.
The ploughed field with paint effects applied. Dry-brushing a sand colour and dots of green.
So far my test pieces have worked out and I will finish the remaining fields before turning my attention the road and town terrain features.

Meanwhile on the gaming side, other than the French India War campaign,  I am continuing to play out some English Civil War games to test out the D3 dice rules.

Royalist forces attempt to cross the river

Thursday, 9 August 2018

French Indian War Campaign - Game 20

The campaign has moved into May 1759 with the Battle at Oswegatchie and we see a surprise attack by the British on the settlement. For full details of the operational moves and the influence of recent battles on the campaign political tracker please view Jonathan's Palouse Wargaming Journal.

The battle at its height
The orders of battle for the tabletop are increased by a factor of 3 from those described in the campaign:

British
Commander Loudoun (A0D1)
4 x Regular Units
1 x Light Infantry
1 x Grenadiers

French
Commander Rigaud (A0D1)
3 x Regular units
3 x Militia (improved number of hits allowed due to Rigaud's command D1 ability)

Because of the surprise attack all French units must begin the game either in the town or adjacent squares.

For a bit of a change I decided to show the various stages of the battle on a map followed by some photos of the game.

Opening positions
First line of attack by the British
British shift their second position to the right as the French retire to the settlement 
The final British position as they move into the settlement
A British victory, and now for the photos...

The British move into position.
The first British line (the gap in the French line was through the loss of their first unit and Commander)
The British reposition as the French retire to the settlement.
The second British position as they begin to close in on the settlement.
The final phase as the settlement is entered by the British for a victory.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

English Civil War game

During the week I was able to complete two artillery units for my English Civil War armies. While I still have a few more units yet to paint (4 infantry, 4 cavalry, 2 commanders and 2 artillery) I now have sufficient numbers for a trial game with a variation of One Hour Wargame Pike and Shot rules.
Troops and raid out on a hastily set up tabletop.
There are already some good variants out there from which I can draw inspiration:


In my searching for some simple rules, I came across a site with quite a bit on ECW games using DBA style games.


The above sources will prove very useful as I pull together some simple rules for myself. At the moment my intention is for the rules to use D3 dice for combat and use a square grid to regulate movement and shooting distances. The rules will be written up in a small booklet as I have done recently for my Napoleonic and WW2 rules. This constraint will help me keep the rules simple and straightforward.

Royalist position. Most figures are Hinchliffe with an odd Minifig thrown in.
Parliament forces positioned on a hill.
As I have mentioned in previous posts. These Hinchliffe figures were collected when I was in my early teens back in the early 1970's and never successfully painted up. They were boxed up in 1975 and only this year have I opened up the boxes and finally got around to painting them. So it is with great joy I get to push them around a tabletop this weekend.




Sunday, 29 July 2018

French Indian War Campaign - Game 19

The Battle of Fort Oswego, September 1758, has French forces commanded by Contrecoeur attacking a similar sized, but less experienced, British force commanded by Amherst. This is a major battle and its outcome will have a level of importance for the on-going campaign being run by Jonathon at Palouse Wargaming Journal.

The quality of the commanders, Contrecoeur and Amherst, means they can improve the quality of their units. From a rules perspective this increases the number of hits a unit can absorb before being eliminated. For example, a Militia unit of 6 hits will increase to 8 hits the equivalent of a Regular unit. The French improve the quality of two Regular regiments and the British one of their Militia regiments.

Each regiment is represented by 2 units on the tabletop and the following order or battle was used:

  • French = 3 x Regular units (10 hits), 1 x Grenadier unit (12 hits), 2 x Regular unit (8 hits), 2 x Irregular unit (6 hits) and Artillery unit.
  • British = 2 x Regular unit (8 hits), 2 x Militia units (8 hits), 2 x Militia units (6 hits), 2 x Cayugu warband (6 hits), and Artillery unit.

The French arrive on either end of the tabletop and must split their force evenly.

Initial setup with British in the centre and French forces on either end of the tabletop.
British force wait for the impending battle.
British have some defensive earthworks manned by Militia
The early moves has the French advance on either flank and engage the British outside the fort.

French advance and the fort artillery open fire.
French Irregulars move swiftly through the woods.
The force commanded by Contrecoeur is harassed by the Cayugu warband which has moved into the wood. 
French Irregulars occupy the woods.
On the other flank British Regulars come under fire from the French Irregulars positioned in the woods. 
The middle game has the direction of attach shift towards the fort.

The Cayugu warband is putting up a stout defence against the French advance.
The attack on the fort begins from both sides.
The Militia unit and Warband is putting up a strong defensive effort. So much so only one French unit is available to attack the fort.
All units are engaged in combat.
The French attacks were suffering for some very effective British shooting and they may have over-stretched themselves.
As the game moves into the end stage it is in the balance with neither side having a clear advantage.

French Regulars retire out of range from the fort defenders to avoid units being eliminated and reducing the army resolve.
The Irregulars positioned in the woods are suffering and taking losses from Regulars.
French Grenadiers finally clear the woods of Cayugu units, while the Militia hang on behind their earthworks. This Militia unit was proving very effective having eliminated the unit with Contrecoeur assigned. The French commander retiring wounded from the battle. 
British Regulars retire where they can to avoid further losses. At this point the French attack had stalled on both flanks.
The only effective French unit remaining was their Grenadiers who having cleared the wood, now launched themselves on the stubborn Militia and started rolling up the line. 
French success was in the hands of their Grenadiers as the British Regular unit will turn to support the Militia. 
The Grenadiers delivered victory for the French.
A marginal victory for the French thanks to their Grenadiers and careful management of their units. Retiring any unit which where close to elimination. It did look at one point they had over stretched themselves with attacking fort on two fronts.

Losses on the tabletop were:

  • British - 2 Militia units, 2 Warbands, and artillery unit
  • French - 2 Regular units and 2 Irregular units.

All in all a very engrossing game which went down to the wire.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

French Indian War campaign game setup and some rules

My plans for this weekend's wargaming is to get around to play the next game in the French Indian War campaign. Jonathan posted the campaign moves leading up to this game earlier in the week (see Palouse Wargaming Journal) but I have been busy playing some Napoleonic games during the week and shrinking my rules (see later).

Fort Oswego has been fought over a couple of times already in this campaign. However, there is a slight twist this time. Jonathan has noted that the French start out as a split force are arriving from the West and the South. This has been translated to their units arriving on opposite ends of the tabletop.

Notes and sketch for the next campaign game
The British forces commanded by Amherst cannot be positioned within 4 squares of either flank, where the French are expected to arrive. On my 6x4 foot gridded tabletop this translates to 24 inches. Amherst also benefits by having one artillery piece which must be located in the fort and can have two prepared positions of earthworks.

The French, commanded by Contrecoeur, must split their force evenly. They also benefit from having one artillery piece. Looking at the orders or battle I expect to represent each regiment with two units on the tabletop.

During the week I finally go to write up my D3 napoleonic rules based on One Hour Wargaming Horse and Musket rules with a few modifications particularly on how cover is dealt with and the more oblivious use of D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) where combat results are either below average, average or above average. As my current interest I shrink the rules into a booklet (ezine) form, which is fun but also means transferring them from a document to a presentation format.

The booklet (3x4 inches) - There is already a crossing out which reflects my poor proof-reading abilities.
The booklet has 8 pages which fit onto one side of a sheet of A4 paper.
These rules do not presently use a grid, something I may change later on. If you are interested in the changes here are the rules as they currently stand. The modifications are mainly around:

  • Units disengaging from combat
  • Cover is treated through hits and elimination
  • Veteran units
  • Use of commanders
  • Army resolve

D3 Napoleonic Wargaming Rules

These rules are a variant of One-Hour Wargame Horse & Musket rules by Neil Thomas. They use a D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) instead of a D6 dice (1,2,3,4,5,6).

They are geared towards games with 12 to 24 units per side.

Units

All units are singly based and represent the following unit types:

  • Infantry (Line Infantry)
  • Veteran Infantry (eg, Guard or Grenadiers)
  • Skirmishers (Light Infantry)
  • Cavalry
  • Artillery
  • Commander (only one per army)

Sequence of play

Players take alternating turns to move or shoot their units. A turn has the following phases:

  1. Movement
  2. Shooting
  3. Charges
  4. Elimination and Army Resolve

Movement

Unit movement allowances are:

  • Cavalry - 12”
  • Skirmishers and Commanders - 9”
  • Infantry and Artillery - 6”

Unit may move up to their movement allowance, but never exceed it.

All movement must be in a straight-line.

Units may pivot on the centre at the start & end of their movement.

Movement must cease once a unit comes within 6” of an enemy unit. Unless the units is moving directly towards an enemy with the intent to charge them.

Infantry & artillery units engaged in combat or within 6” of an enemy unit cannot move, but may pivot to face an enemy. This counts as a move.

Cavalry & skirmish units are allowed to disengage from enemy units.

Interpenetration

Skirmishers & artillery may move through other units.

Disengaging

Once a unit is within 6” of an enemy unit they are considered to be engaged in combat & cannot disengage until the enemy is removed.

Cavalry & skirmishers are the only units which can disengage providing they move away & do not move within 6” of another enemy unit.

Terrain Effects


  • Woods - Provide cover & only Skirmisher units can enter
  • Towns - Provide cover & only Infantry & skirmishers may end their move in a town. Only one unit may occupy a town.
  • Marsh/Lakes - impassable to all units.
  • Rivers - impassable except at bridge/ford.
  • Hills - Artillery line of sight is not blocked by units.
  • Entrenchments - Provide cover for infantry, skirmishers & artillery units. When shooting units roll 2D3 picking the highest score.

Shooting

Only units that did not move can shoot.

Units have a 45 degree field of fire, unless they are in a town when they have a 360 degree field of fire.

Units must have a clear line of sight.

Muskets have a range of 6” & artillery 24”.

Roll the dice to determine the number of hits:

  • Infantry units roll D3
  • Veteran units roll D3+1
  • Skirmishers roll D3-1
  • Artillery units roll D3-1

Any target cavalry or skirmish unit can retire their full move to reduce the number of hits they take by 1.

As soon as a unit shoots place a marker (eg cotton wool) to show it has been engaged in combat. The unit may not move unless it can disengage or the enemy are eliminated.

Note - See elimination section for how cover is dealt with.

Charges

Only cavalry can engage other units by charging. This occurs whenever cavalry moves into contact with another unit.

Cavalry cannot engage units in cover.

The attacking cavalry unit rolls D3+1 for the number of hits which are modified by the following:

  • If a target occupies a hill -1 from number of hits.
  • If a target is cavalry -1 from number of hits.
  • If a target unit is attacked on its flank or rear, double the number of hits.
  • If the target is a skirmish unit, double the number of hits.

Artillery units are eliminated if charged & are not within 3” of any infantry unit. If within 3” then they are treated as unmanned until the cavalry move away.

Eliminating Units

A hit represents a combination of casualties, exhaustion & disorder caused to a unit by combat. Units are eliminated when they exceed 6 hits.

Units in cover can take 12 hits before being eliminated. However, once a unit in cover has taken 6 hits they are not allowed to move.

Veterans

Both armies can have up to 2-4 veteran infantry units. A veteran infantry unit rolls D3+1 when shooting.

The loss of a veteran unit deducts 2 from the army resolve.

Squares

Units can form into a square during their move. When in a square they cannot shoot & cavalry cannot attack them.

Army Resolve

An army's resolve is equal to half the number of units & plus 1 for the General, rounding up any fractions.

Each unit is eliminated reduces the resolve by 1, or 2 if a veteran unit.

Once an army’s resolve is zero, the game ends & the army retires from the field of battle.

Army Commander

All armies have a commander.

Commanders which do not move during a turn can issue move orders to all units within 6”. These units are allowed to move an additional 6”.

Commanders cannot be engaged in combat. If an approaching enemy unit comes within 6” they must move away during their turn.