Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Cambronne Christmas

May your holidays be filled with peace, good company, and childlike joy!

"It is for you, dear reader, now to get a floor, a friend, some soldiers and some guns, and show your appreciation of this beautiful gift of a limitless game. How much better is this amiable miniature than the Real Thing! Here is the thrill of victory and disaster – and no smashed nor sanguinary bodies, no shattered fine buildings nor devastated country sides that we know to be the reality of belligerence. You have only to play at Little Wars to realize what a blundering thing Great War must be."

 – H. G. Wells, Little Wars 
(modified by the blog author)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Waterloo Bicentennial Game

Today I commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo by playing a small Waterloo-themed game. Very appropriately, we had torrential rain last night, which finally gave way early this morning. Once the ground had dried out, I spent the early afternoon playing Scenario 4 "Take the High Ground" from Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames.

The game was accompanied by proper background music:

I treated the scenario as a small, fictitious portion of the French attack on the Anglo-Allied center. To win, either army needed to be the sole occupant of the hill at the end of turn 15. Here is how the battle unfolded:

Introduction: Two isolated British regiments occupy a forward position on a low hill in the center of the Anglo-Allied line. The French have spotted this, and have set out to seize the high ground before British reinforcements arrive.

Turn 1: The British send reinforcements down the road to get support near the hill as soon as possible. One regiment heads over open ground to support the two regiments already on the hill. The French send their cavalry up the road to delay the British reinforcements, while the light infantry follow them, intending to occupy the woods from which they can harass British movement on the road. The rest of the French force assaults the hill.

End of Turn 1

Turn 2: The French and British cavalry clash on the road, and the French infantry and artillery trade fire with the British regiments on the hill. The rest of the British troops move up, as the French light infantry occupy the woods.

End of Turn 2: I foolishly forgot the rule that says cavalry recoil after melee
unless they eliminate the opposing unit; hence the technically improper maintenance
of cavalry in base contact with each other at the end of several turns.

Turn 3: The French manage to rout one of the British regiments on the hill. Meanwhile, the British reinforcements begin to deploy, as the cavalry clash continues to rage.

End of Turn 3: I keep routing units on the table,
but off to the edge facing away from the enemy.

Turn 4: The British regiments on the hill adopt a "reverse slope" tactic, forcing the French to advance into their field of fire. Meanwhile the artillery and infantry of both sides continue to exchange fire, while the cavalry continue their melee.

End of Turn 4

Turn 5: The British artillery get the worse of their fire exchange and rout from the field. Two French infantry regiments advance onto the hill. For a moment, it looks like everything is going the Emperor's way.

End of Turn 5

Turn 6: Finally good news for the British – the cavalry have driven off their French counterparts. The British cavalry is near exhaustion however, and the French infantry turn to shoot at them, protecting the artillery and staying in line formation to maximize firepower against the fatigued horsemen.

End of Turn 6

Turn 6 Close-up: A furious exchange of volleys on the hill.

Turn 7: The British horse take flight before the withering volleys of the French infantry straddling the road. So far, half the British force has routed, while only one French unit has been eliminated. However, many of the French units are severely weakened and are approaching the limits of how much punishment they can take.

End of Turn 7

Turn 8: One of the weakened French infantry regiments attacking the hill is routed. The remaining French infantry and artillery push toward the hill to take its place, as the light infantry in the woods continue to exchange fire with the British infantry facing them. These two adversaries are both taking damage, but the British line infantry are inflicting more casualties than the French light infantry, despite the fact that the latter have the cover of the woods. 

End of Turn 8

Turn 9: The French drive one of the British regiments off the hill.

Turn 9 Close-up: Things are coming to a head on the hill.

Turn 9 Close-up: The firefight near the woods continues unabated.

Turn 10: The French infantry climb the hill to join the artillery in the firefight against the last enemy regiment there.

Turn 10 Close-up: Can the British hold the hill?

Turn 11: The British infantry finally get the better of the French skirmishers in the woods, driving them back.

End of Turn 11

Turn 11 Close-up: The French light infantry rout.

Turn 12: The British eliminate the French artillery on the hill, as the infantry previously facing the French in the woods turn to march on the hill. For the first time in the game, the French are outnumbered. The tactical situation is prickly as all the units remaining are very near to breaking, while their fields of fire are all over the place. The British infantry on the hill can currently fire on no one, and is being fired on from the flank by the French, who in turn will be fired on from the rear next turn. The question is who will hold?

Turn 12 Close-up: situation critical – the French are outnumbered, 
but maybe they have some positional compensation. 

Turn 13: The French eliminate the last British regiment on the hill, but start taking heavy damage from the English infantry to their rear. It will be very difficult for the French to reciprocate.

Turn 13 Close-up: even if they turn to face the British next turn, 
the French will be hard-pressed to survive a firefight.

Turn 14: The British go first each turn. They fire on the French to start this turn, as there is nothing else for them to do – infantry are not allowed to charge in these rules. They inflict severe damage that brings the French unit to 13 hits (a unit is eliminated at 15 hits and a fire attack does 1-6 hits worth of damage). Units cannot move and fire in the same turn. So, if the French turn to face the British, the French won't get to fire this turn. That means the British will get off a second volley at the start of turn 15 most likely killing the French unit and ending the game in a draw, since they themselves would not be able to move onto the hill after firing. BUT, the French don't have to stay where they are. Instead they move to a reverse slope position out of British line of sight, just as the British themselves had done back on turn 4! Only then do they turn about face. Now, if the British don't have enough movement to get up the hill, the French will win. Even if the British do manage to get up the hill, the French will have a final shot with a 50-50 chance of eliminating the British regiment, who is at 11 hits.

Turn 14 Close-up: The French found the positional tactic they needed
to shift the game back in their favor. Can the British make it up the hill?

Turn 15: The British fall just short! Their movement of four inches allows them to reach the base edge, but not to actually get onto the hill itself. The French win!

Turn 15 Close-up: Just out of curiosity, I rolled a die after the game
to see what the fire effect would have been if the British had made it up the hill. 
I rolled a four – just enough to kill the British unit anyway.

Looking on at the hill he'd just lost, Wellington shook his head. "It was a near run thing. The nearest run thing you ever saw in your life."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Waterloo Armies Ready to Go

The models are all based, so I'm all set for tomorrow's small Waterloo bicentennial game.

I'm using Scenario 4 from One-Hour Wargames, "Take the High Ground." It will be a fictitious, localized part of the French attack on the Anglo-Allied center. My terrain is prepared: 

Since I'm playing on a 2' x 2' surface rather than 3' x 3' all measurements will be reduced to 2/3. My measuring sticks are adapted accordingly: 

And last but not least, my color-coded roster sheet is ready: 

Vive l'Empereur!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Forced March: Setting Myself a Waterloo Anniversary Painting Challenge

Back to the painting table after a very long absence. Partly this was due to the usual real life suspects (semester from hell at work, new adorable pet, etc., etc., yeah, yeah you've heard it all before), and then later due to a three-and-a-half week stay in France after the semester ended. Being in France, I was of course reminded on numerous occasions that June 18 of this year marks the bicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

So this past weekend, I set myself a "Waterloo Anniversary Painting Challenge" to try and have a small French vs. British game using One-Hour Wargames on the 18th to commemorate the event in my own small way.

This was a tricky proposition since:

1) I decided I wanted to have units twice the size of those I used previously so I'd have to paint some more French than I already have; and

2) I had no painted British troops at all.

Fortuntately, the simple painting method I used before made this doable.

French: 48 Infantry to round out what I already have; 
British: 128 Infantry, 12 Cavalry, 2 Guns and 4 crew.

Here's how my "forced march" has broken down time-wise to this point, with only the final basing to go:

June 13 (four hours spread across multiple sessions): Early morning, stuck 194 unpainted 6mm minis (mostly in four-man strips) on tongue depressors with blu-tack, then primed them black. Afternoon, a first coat of color on all the jackets, then in the evening a second coat, and finally the British got a third coat (red always seems to need that extra layer) that night. I also painted the wooden bases they'll eventually get glued to.

June 14 (four hours spread across multiple sessions): Painted trousers, horses, artillery pieces, and the ground on each model/strip. Then touched up a number of sloppy bits with black.

June 15 (four hours spread across multiple sessions): Painted backpacks, weapons, and flesh.

June 16 (two hours in two sessions): Morning, touched up any little spots where I "went outside the lines." Afternoon, sprayed them with a protective clearcoat.

All that remains is to glue them to their wooden bases, which I'll do this evening or tomorrow morning, once the spray clear coat is completely dry. I expect that to take about one hour.

All told, I will have completed 194 miniatures start to finish in roughly 15 hours over four days. Looks like I'm good to go for June 18 with a day to spare. With any other size miniature cranking out this many models in so few days would have been impossible. I love 6mm.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Battle of the Stippgrütze Hills (Fictional), 1805

A fictional battle, to test Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargame Rules (Chapter 11 "Horse and Musket Wargames Rules," Chapter 22 "Solo Wargaming," and Scenario 1 "Pitched Battle [1]"). 


As the French army crossed the Rhine, General Maille was dispatched with a detachment to advance into the hills of Stippgrütze, where they encountered an Austrian force under the command of General Inglehoffer. The two generals gathered their forces on and around the hills on opposite sides of a valley, and then pressed forward to battle.

Order of Battle

The French (General Maille)
     One Artillery Unit
     Three Infantry Units
     Two Skirmisher Units

The Austrians (General Inglehoffer)
     One Artillery Unit
     Four Infantry Units
     One Skirmisher Unit


Maille perceived that he was at a disadvantage. The battlefield consisted of a flat, empty valley between two large hills. However, a full third of his force was made up of skirmishers, who needed the cover of woods to be fully effective. Without any woods to speak of [the trees in this scenario are just for decoration], Maille's skirmishers would be very exposed.

With no cavalry on the field for either army, Maille decided to use the skirmishers' one remaining strength – their speed – as the basis for his plan. He would position both units of skirmishers on the right flank, with a unit of infantry just to their left. Under covering fire from the artillery, the infantry unit would ideally advance to pin the facing enemy wing in place, while the skirmishers attempted to run around the flank of the pinned enemy wing.

Unfortunately, as the armies prepared for battle [using the solo set-up rules] Maille's force was outdeployed from the start, augmenting his difficulties. Inglehoffer too decided to launch an assault on the French right, which meant the bulk of the Austrians' mostly-infantry force would be facing off against Maille's skirmishers. In a shooting match between the two, the French skirmishers would be unlikely to prevail.

Positions at the start of the game, from the French side of the board.

Game Turns 1-3

The French shift their weight from the right to the center, and the Austrians focus on the flanks [this was determined by weighted random die rolls for the Austrians]

Both sides begin to exchange fire, with the Austrians initially getting the better of the exchange. But the French quickly catch up. Both sides manage to rally somewhat [solo random event rolls – Chapter 22] and the Austrians experience some confusion on turn 3 [solo random event roll – Chapter 22] and are unable to move and shift to reinforce the center. The French are doing well in the center, if only their flanks can hold out. 

End of Game Turn 3. 
Numbers next to units indicate how many hits they've taken.
Units are eliminated at -15.

Game Turns 4-6

The French flanks crumble as does the Austrian center. For a moment, it appears that the French are holding their own in the firefight, but the Austrians begin to inflict more casualties than the French. The Maille's light infantry push forward toward Inglehoffer's artillery, but the Austrians turn in from the flanks toward the center.

End of Game Turn 5.
Turn 6 would see the Austrian flanks swing in toward the center.

Game Turns 7-9

The French experience a momentary confusion, stopping their advance up toward the Austrian-held hill. Meanwhile, Inglehoffer's troops press inward from the flanks. Their withering fire inflict more casualties on the French. The French return fire, causing one more Austrian unit to melt away, but it is not enough. The Austrians gain the initiative [solo random event roll – Chapter 22] which allows them to bring the fire of all their remaining troops against Maille's last skirmisher unit, destroying it. 

End of Game Turn 9

With only his artillery remaining, and outnumbered three to one, Maille decides to save his ordnance and withdraw, leaving the field to his Austrian nemesis.


In the evening, out of harm's way, Maille critiqued his own performance. Though he started at a disadvantage with fewer line infantry and no good terrain suitable for his skirmishers, he believed he could have better acquitted himself by making a more judicious advance toward the enemy, and by keeping troops in reserve to counter-punch once the enemy was drawn in on his terms.


A short, thoroughly enjoyable game. Just the ticket for a quick session of piece-pushing and dice-slinging. The mechanics seemed to work well for the period. I'm not an expert on musket-era warfare by any means, but my understanding is that infantry fights tended to grind down into musketry duels from which it was hard for either unit to extricate itself. While the rules don't have any specific stipulation that an infantry unit cannot pull out of a firefight, they work in such a way that there really seems to be no benefit to doing so, and that your best bet is to stick it out until you or the other guy withers away. One other thing I would do very differently is to hold back a unit in reserve and wait to see how things were unfolding before committing it as a sort of hammer blow against a weakened enemy unit. I didn't think to much about that since I was mostly just trying out the rules for the first time, but as the game moved along, it seemed to me that these rules would really reward that use of a reserve. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Napoleonic Austrians to Start the Year

A Happy New Year to all!  I closed out the old and rang in the new yesterday and this morning by completing most of my 1HW Austrians.

6mm Austrians from Baccus

Four line infantry, two light infantry and two artillery for a total of eight units.

Zoomed in view...

All I have left to do are two units of cavalry, and my 1HW Austrian army set will be complete.   

French and Austrians lining up for battle

Been working on terrain too. The felt I ordered arrived, and I tried a (for me) new hill making technique by "gift wrapping" some beveled wood blocks in the same felt I'm using for the flat terrain. A bit stylized, but very practical. Trees have arrived as well -- I had nothing appropriate for 6mm minis on a 15" square battlefield -- and I mounted them on 1" round bases.

Of course the next steps are to play out a full game, put up a bat rep, and then finish painting my Austrian cavalry.

After that some more terrain. I still have some buildings to paint, some blue and tan felt to cut into rivers and roads, and some hobby wood to build a bridge or two.