Sunday 24 June 2018

French Indian War Campaign - Game 15

Game 15 of the French India War campaign has delivered a full on siege game, the siege of Quebec - June 1758. For details of campaign narrative and the context to this game, read Jonathon's Palouse Wargaming Journal.

My rules for siege warfare when starting this game were at best a series of notes. So before beginning the game I ran a quick test game which helped out with a couple of areas I was unsure about. These were:

Limiting Parallel Trenches
There is a limit to how many parallel tranches can be built. This stops the besieging side over fortifying their parallels and making it next to impossible for a defender launching sorties. Should a defender choose to fortify their 1st parallel too much, they will struggle to have a solid 3rd parallel platform from which to launch their assault.

Siege Turns and Tactical Turns
At the end of each siege turn either side can launch a sortie (if defenders) or a surprise assault (if besieging). The jump off points are either the fortress walls or a parallel gallery. Up to 3 units can participate in a sortie or assault.

To effect surprise a single D6-1 is rolled for each unit participating to determine the number of squares they can advance before being detected. Then a small engagement occurs using my standard tactical rules. At any point on the start of turn the attacker can choose to call off their attack and both side's units return to their defences.

Artillery and Mortars
During siege turns artillery can only attack other guns or mortars. Only after the opposing artillery are eliminated, only then can fortress walls or galleries can be attacked. Taking 6 hits to breach a fortress or destroy a parallel gallery.

Also, artillery during a siege turn have a range of 6 squares and mortars 3 squares.

I will be writing up these siege rule mechanisms and others used in later posts, but in the game report I have included notes on the effect of some of the rule mechanisms.

The tabletop is laid out with Counter-Vallation trenches. I use a gridded tabletop and have placed lichen and small trees to show the grid as my dots indicating the corners of squares don't show up on the photos. Note - The besieger may only place units in galleries. Until these galleries are build units must remain off table.

1st Parallel

With the counter-vallation in place the besieging British begin digging their 1st Parallel. The British must complete their 1st parallel before starting the 2nd parallel.

After a couple of siege turns the 1st parallel is developed and a gallery is build allowing a unit to be placed in the parallel.
A single unit manning the 1st parallel is a tempting target for a sortie. Montcalm sends out two units at dusk.  One unit gets lost while the other almost surprises the defenders and a small engagement occurs. Other British units can be seen moving from their galleries to provide support and drive off the sortie.
With support arriving the sortie is called off by the French and both sides reposition their units back in the fortress or galleries.
Additional galleries are built and artillery positioned in them. The first stage of the artillery duel begins as besieging British try and eliminate French artillery units. Note - in each siege turn a D3 is rolled and the score indicates how earthworks can be created. It takes 1 point to create 1 square of: sap (zig-zag) trench, parallel trench, or add a gallery to an existing parallel trench. In the photo above 8 points have been expended on the 1st parallel.
Things are progressing well for the British with the elimination of a French artillery unit and the 1st parallel is now well established. 

2nd Parallel

Having developed the 1st parallel and fought off a sortie it was time for the British to develop their 2nd parallel in which they can place their mortars and infantry to try and clear the fortress walls of defenders.

British sap trenches snake forward under the gaze of the defenders. Note - 1 sap trench can maintain 3 parallel trenches.  In the above photo a second sap trench was required to support the first 1st parallel of 4 parallel squares. This rule slows down the besiegers which may be important if there is a relief force on the way.
Montcalm launches his second sortie with the maximum 3 units. Being closer to the walls more units were able to engage effectively in the attack.
Other British units move to provide support, but are slow to react to the surprise sortie. 
The French eliminate the unit defending the gallery and by occupying the gallery are able to destroy it.
After a short delay the British begin to develop the 2nd parallel, while maintaining the artillery dual with their French  counterparts. A view from the French positions.

With the second parallel now well developed and mortars deployed the British begin inflicting hits on the infantry units.
Another sortie is launched to destroy the deadly mortars which are effective at clearing ramparts of defending units.
Another successful French sortie and a mortar is destroyed before they retire back to the safety of their fortress walls.
The British finally destroy the last French artillery. They can now concentrate their artillery to breach the fortress walls. It takes 6 hits to breach a wall.
Nearing the final stage of the siege as a sap moves forward to develop the 3rd parallel from which the walls may be assaulted. 

3rd Parallel

The British decide to develop the 3rd parallel on either side of the fortress, forcing the French to split their remaining units to defend two sides of the fortress.  
A view from the British camp.
The French reposition their units. Note - During a siege turn after earthworks are built, both sides are allowed to reposition all their units providing they occupy the fort or a gallery.
The British spring a surprise assault. Those scaling ladders, a painted strip of balsa wood, are just off the paining table.
The light infantry quickly scale the unoccupied bastion with the intent of planing explosives, but French fire drive them away and they are eliminated. 
The 3rd Parallel is developed and a second assault attempt is launched with light infantry. 
The bastion is successfully stormed and the French fail to eliminate the light infantry who are able to plant explosives. 
The assault party retires after setting the fuses to the explosives. The bastion is destroyed and will be treated as difficult terrain.

Storming the Fortress

With the 3rd parallel completed the British bring forward all their troops and the French prepare themselves for the coming assault and storming of the fortress.

French try to position their meagre forces to cover the coming assault.
The British begin their assault. 
After losing another unit two units the situation is hopeless for the besieged French, who after a gallant defence offer  terms before the fortress itself is stormed.

A victory to the British and the remaining French units march out. Both sides lost a regiment a piece in the siege.

Thoughts on rules and future ideas to consider...

The ability of besiegers to reposition units and pull them out of the forward parallels gives them a definite edge over the besieged who have limited ability to rotate their units. To offset this future rules  will have attrition of D3-1 per siege turn to represent depleted attacking units due to a combination of desertion and foraging.

Mortars cannot target individual units. They target the fortress and the besieged apportion hits how they like across units.

Anyway, I will be doing more work on these rules over the next week while I remember the reasons behind my notes on rule mechanisms.

Thursday 21 June 2018

French Indian War - Game 15 setup

I am finally getting around to the next French Indian War campaign game. As usual campaign details and background to this game are to be found on Jonathan's Palouse Wargaming Journal. Game 15 has delivered the opportunity to undertake a siege game and use my recently completed fortress.

A print of Quebec
When setting up the tabletop it looked a little bit stark. So I decided to quickly make a backdrop of Quebec, as the tabletop represents an area of the city defences being targeted by the besiegers. A quick look at a print of the time helped provide some inspiration to turn one side of a cardboard box into a backdrop held in place by blu-tack.

A quick sketch using a large marker pen was washed over with watered down paint. Then gone over  again with teh marker to pick out details. Once dry it was cut out.
Backdrop held in place behind the fortress with Blu-Tack.
The siege is of Quebec, June 1758, and has Montcalm (A4D4) deciding to remain behind the fortress walls. All forces have been increased by a factor of two from those in the order of battle details from the campaign. French forces are:

  • 4 x Regular units
  • 2 x Militia units
  • 3 x artillery pieces within the fortress

The fortress with troops
Another view from a higher angle
The attacking for commanded by Wolfe (A4D4) has:

  • 7 x Regular units
  • 1 x Grenadier unit
  • 2 x Light Infantry
  • 2 x Mortars
  • 4 x Artillery pieces

British forces (a couple of my Napoleonic artillery units have been press-ganged into service)
As this is the first real test of my siege rules, or should I say scribbled rules, and I have opted to keep things as simple as possible. Setting aside the investment stage of a siege where the besieger sends out highly mobile troops to mop up stragglers before the main force arrives.

The game will start at the end of the counter-vallation stage after the British have built entrenched positions out of range of fortress guns to defend against French sorties.

Sunday 17 June 2018

More plastic Spencer Smith figures

Late this week a parcel arrived full of Spencer Smith plastic figures. The opportunity to purchase these figures came last month from a fellow Blogger who was helping a family sort out and deal with  a wargaming collection of figures and books.

The majority of figures are from Spencer Smith's 18th Century figure range, but do include few Napoleonic cavalry which will provide useful additions to my Napoleonic armies. The infantry are a mix of traditional looking Spencer Smith figures and their Connoisseur Figure range.

Here are photos of some of the collection...

71 Grenadiers (some will be destined to be Austrian Grenadiers in my Napoleonic armies)
A few of the cavalry which came in various poses. In all there are 77 cavalry.
133 infantry both shooting and at the ready
12 Napoleonic cavalry including these hard plastic figures of unknown origin.
61 command and officer figures
This collection, particularly the cavalry, allows the expansion of my Seven Years War French Indian War collection to include European battles (eg the Battle of Minden). In addition some figures will be used to add the odd unit of cavalry and infantry to my Napoleonic forces.

For the moment though I am carefully sorting and storing these figures. I have to first complete painting my English Civil War figures.

Friday 15 June 2018

Making rules in a mini-booklet format

For the present I seem to have settled on my 3D dice WW2 house rules. My available hobby time this week has been spent playing and testing these rules with some small games. One thing I really wanted to do was get the rules slimmed down so they would fit only one page. As I like simple rules and preferably short rules.

The finished wargame rules as a "zine" booklet
The reason behind aiming at one page of rules, was somewhere in the back of my memory I remembered reading on anther blog where they had written their rules in a "zine" format. If you are wondering what is a "zine" format? Simple ones are one sheet of paper folded into a mini-booklet. A Google search of "zine format" soon provide me with the necessary instructions.

The idea must have stuck in my memory, and now with these WW2 rules it seemed a good time to try and produce them in a "zine" booklet format.

(After a bit of searching I found the blog and post here.)

The rules written up, printed and folded ready to make the booklet
Ready for use
The booklet is nice and convenient and don't take up as much room as a flat sheet of paper on the tabletop. I do put a couple of staples in the centre fold to hold the booklet together.

A game in progress
Anyway here are some more close up photos of the rules themselves. As you can see my proof-reading is a bit suspect. (I always did get "tries hard, could do better" in my school reports.)

The smallest font I used was 14pt to make reading easier.

Front and back page
Pages 2 and 3
Pages 4 and 5
Pages 6 and 7

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Painting ECW units and testing WW2 rules

Not a lot of wargaming or painting done this past weekend due to disruption from other necessary activities taking priority. However, with what available time there was, I did manage to complete a unit of Dragoons to add to my English Civil War armies. At the rate I am going in a couple of months I should have sufficient to have an ECW game using One Hour Wargame rules and a scenario.

ECW units completed so far
Latest addition - Dragoons
I did manage to squeeze in a WW2 game yesterday. I have been messing around with some rule changes for a few weeks now. It has been the usual case of some changes worked and some didn't. Anyway, while I had little time to play over the weekend, I did have time to ponder the rules and a scribbled set of rules was completed. I am now playing through some test games while typing up rule changes before I forget them, and trying to slim them down to fit on one page with a readable font size.

WW2 game in progress with Allied troops supporting a Churchill tank.
Over the next week or so I will get the opportunity to play out a siege game as part of the French Indian War campaign (see Palouse Wargaming Journal).

Friday 8 June 2018

Some more secondhand books

Yesterday a two secondhand books I purchased a couple of weeks ago arrived in the post. When I made the purchase I was originally looking for Wargaming Pike and Shot by Donald Featherstone, but I also saw Battles with Model Soldiers was available at a reasonable price and could not resist.