Monday, September 29, 2014

New Horse and Musket rules: Snow game 3 Skane War 1676

I had a hankering to put on a Skane War scenario after seeing Soren and Michael's wonderful efforts coming out of Stockholm.

5 Danish units on left, 3 + Swedish units on the right
This scenario is set sometime around the period of the Battle of Lund in the winter of 1676. The Swedish and Danish forces meet on a relatively open field with the Danish infantry holding some high ground and the Swedish infantry deployed around a small Skane village.

Danish Force
Garden til Fods: Veteran with flintlocks and socket bayonets (24 models) Colonel: The Hector
Characters: Ensign, 2 x drummers, 2 x sergeants 96 points
Regiment Funen: Drilled with flintlocks,socket bayonets  6 pikemen (36 models) Colonel: The Old Sweat
Characters: Ensign, 3 x drummers,3 x sergeants 78 points
Life Guards of Horse: Veteran Bullet Horse, 2 pistols (18 models) Colonel: The Salamander
Characters: Cornet, Trumpeter, Sergeant 96 points
Jyske Regiment of Horse: Drilled Bullet Horse, 2 pistols (18 models) Colonel: The Salamander
Characters: Cornet, Trumpeter  64 points
Light gun Drilled  15 points
Total 349 points

Swedish Force
Uppland Regiment: Veteran with flintlocks,plug bayonets and 6 pikemen (18 models) Colonel: The Old Sweat
Characters: Ensign, 2 x drummers, 1 x sergeants, 1 x Minister 82 points
Halsinge Regiment : Drilled with flintlocks, plug bayonets and 6 pikemen (36 models) Colonel: The Hector
Characters: Ensign, 2 x drummers,1 x sergeant  85 points
Smalands Cavalry: Veteran Blade Horse  (18 models) Colonel: The Drunk
Characters: Cornet,Trumpeter 104.5 points
Abo & Bjornebergs Cavalry: Drilled Blade Horse (18 models) Colonel: The Politico
Characters: Cornet,Trumpeter, Sergeant 85 points
Total 356.5 points

Aggressive Danes - Jyske Horse smash into Abo 
Dave played the Swedes and I played the Danes.The unexpected definitely happened in this game! First card turned was the Danish Lifeguards and I decided to attack the Smalands cavalry who I expected to win. On the other flank my Jyske Cavalry quickly closed with the Abo as I tried to isolate the Swedish infantry and destroy then with my superior musketry.

Danish Lifeguards absorb the shock of Smalands charge

Smalands got the drop on the Lifeguards whilst Jyske beat Abo to the charge. In a strange reversal of fortune the Lifeguards weathered the onslaught and began a massacre of Smalands whilst Abo stopped Jyske and eventually beat them back but did not rout them. Within a few turns the Swedish infantry were isolated with enemy cavalry on both flanks ready to turn inwards to sweep them away.

The Lifeguards obliterate Smalands in a deadly melee
Dave had to attack. The large Halsinge regiment advanced against Regiment Funen but Uppland had to stop and face left to avoid being taken in the flank by the Lifeguard.

My Danish Foot Guards began a repositioning exercise to try and bring their significant fire power to bear  against Halsinge but it was all over before they could get into action.

Enemy Horse on borh flanks - the Swedish infantry fight to survive!
Uppland beat back the Lifeguard of Horse but in doing so were written down to nothing. Funen took on Halsinge and bested them during a sharp close combat.

Very soon the Swedish force was all but destroyed and the Danes still had Funen, the unblooded Foot Guards and around half of the Jyske Horse left intact.

A sharp and decisive Danish victory!

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Horse and Musket rules: Snow game 2 GNW Late period

This field engagement pitted a mixed Horse and Foot Swedish force against large Danish infantry units supported by an entrenched field gun. Again we chose a winter setting for the game repositioning the terrain pieces we had used for the Narva game.

Danes deployed across the foreground, Swedes in the distance
In this game description we'll introduce some more details about the new rules. The characters are listed together with the colonel titles for each regiment.

Danish Force
Garden til Fods: Veteran with flintlocks and socket bayonets (24 models) Colonel: The Traitor
Characters: Ensign, 2 x drummers, 2 x sergeants 96 points
Regiment Funen: Drilled with flintlocks and socket bayonets (30 models) Colonel: The Invertebrate
Characters: Ensign, 3 x drummers,3 x sergeants 68 points
Jyske Militia: Recruits with flintlocks  (36 models) Colonel: The Drunk
Characters: Ensign, 2 x drummers, 2 x sergeants 42 points
Field gun Drilled
Characters: Master Gunner  40 points
Clearly the Danes had not selected their colonels very well! Total 246 points

Swedish Force
Ostergotland Regiment: Veteran with flintlocks,socket bayonets and 6 pikemen (18 models) Colonel: The Old Sweat
Characters: Ensign, 2 x drummers, 1 x sergeants, 1 x Minister 82 points
Halsinge Regiment : Drilled with flintlocks, socket bayonets and 6 pikemen (18 models) Colonel: The Dandy
Characters: Ensign, 2 x drummers,1 x sergeant  70 points
Smalands Cavalry: Veteran Blade Horse  (12 models) Colonel: The Climber
Characters: Cornet,Trumpeter 76 points
Abo & Bjornebergs Cavalry: Drilled Blade Horse (12 models) Colonel: The Drunk
Characters: Cornet,Trumpeter, Sergeant 68 points
Total 296 points

I have calculated the force points using a revised system retrospectively showing that the game was very much imbalanced in favour of the Swedes, My original calculations were a little inaccurate. I had worked out 257 for the Danes and (on an old system) 252 for the Swedes!(there is now a 25% 'tax' on Swedes of the Karl XII era!)
It was all of no consequence as this game was very tough and finished as what could be described as an extremely bloody stalemate. In the end it was all about the run of cards!

Ostergotland charge the Danish Footguards

Fire! a devastating close range volley kills 1/3 of the Swedes

Ostergotland charge home but are slaughtered by the Guards
The objective for this game was to hold the field and wipe out the enemy. Bob took the Danes this time and Dave the Swedes. Dave attacked aggressively with his infantry whilst sending the cavalry on circuitous manoeuvres on each flank. Ostergotland ran straight into a devastating point blank volley from the Danish Foot Guards timed to perfection at point blank range and scything down 1/3 of the Swedes in a single volley. The subsequent combat went very badly for the Swedes and the devastated Ostergotland were broken although they later rallied with help from the Supreme Commander.

A good left hook by the Smalands Cavalry caught the Danish Guards repositioning in column of march, despite this they held on and with the support of the Jyske Militia who joined the combat they were finally able to beat off the cavalry. Halsinge also joined this fight in the dying stages and managed to destroy the Guards and steadily push the Jyske Militia backwards and off the table over several turns. Even the arrival of the Danish Supreme commander was not enough to save the Jutlanders and he left the table too!

Smalands crafty left hook takes the Guards by surprise

Unable to deploy from CoM the Guards are crumpled by Smalands
Funen held their position on top of the hill shooting with impunity into the Abo cavalry and killing all of their characters and over half the regiment.

Funen pick off Abo-Bjorneberg as they gallop by
In the dying stages of the game the Funen Regiment (now downgraded to Recruit as the Supreme Commander had left the field) moved to check the rampant but disordered Halsinge. Both armies were down to a rump.

Performing the impossible - Halsinge charge uphill and break Funen
Halsinge managed a bold charge uphill and broke Funen but were themselves reduced to a less than 6 figures in doing so. On the table at the close was the Danish gun, the rallied rump of Regiment Funen on one side and 5 models from Halsinge atop the hill with 3 models from Ostergotland rallied in their start line.

A very bloody draw. The colonel characteristics caused several farcical incidents.

What a carve up! Nothing left but the rump of two forces

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hidden Gems - Warfare Miniatures CODES WLOA080-087

Warfare Miniatures codes WLOA080 - 087 are a series of hidden gems in the range. Designed by Steve Shaw these models feature 5 different pose variants each with 8 different head variants. This results in a total of 40 different figures

The anatomy of the poses allows a nice variety of unit configurations. Our battalion packs feature them in three different variants - At the Ready, Firing Line and Firing Line under pressure.

The figures are equipped with matchlock muskets and 12 apostle bandoliers. The various photographs in this post highlight the versatility of the codes. Steve is known in the industry as the proprietor of Feudal Castings.

Steve is currently designing more figures for Warfare Miniatures.

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Horse and Musket rules: Snow game 1 Narva

This was a mission based game. In structure it has several similarities to the Neerhespen 1693 scenario featured in WI and also used on one of our LoA weekenders. This adaptation was a nice vehicle to road test the new rules in a Great Northern War setting.

Narva 1700. Swedes on the left, the bridge(objective) on far right
In the dying stages of their great defeat at Narva the Russian army is attempting to hold open a bridge across a frozen river and evacuate any remnants of their shattered force. A Swedish pursuit force must try and quickly cut through the defence and capture the bridge thus trapping all Russian units on the wrong side of the river.

The Russian Force
Preobrazhenski Guards battalion (18 models) Veteran
Grenadier battalion (18 models) Drilled
Novgorodski Dragoon Regiment (18 models) Drilled
2 field guns in a battery Drilled

Preobrazhenski Guards prepared to make a last stand
The Swedish Force
Smalands Cavalry Regiment (12 models) Veteran
Bjornebergs/Abolans Cavalry Regiment (12 models) Veteran
Ostergotland Infantry Regiment (18 models) Veteran
Halsinge Infantry Regiment (18 models) Veteran

Abo & Bjornebergs Cavalry who will eventually reach the objective
The table was 6 x 4 feet and we played lengthways to make the pursuit a challenge. We played 19 turns but in many of these the End of Turn card appeared very early! For the first 4 or 5 moves the only Swedish unit able to move was the Halsinge Infantry Regiment who forged on up the slope of the hill alone. Several Russian unit cards appeared in the deck but Dave chose only to move the Novgorod Dragoons in the general direction of the hill.

The Novgorod Dragoons and Halsinge regiments advance blind

Cresting the hill they spot each other

The Russians react first swinging round to charge

The Swedes see the danger on their left

Luckily their card appears in the deck and they reposition!

It was inevitable that these two bodies would at some point spot each other and then react. This happened as they both crested the hill and swung in to face each other. The Russian Dragoons used the Command Decision rule to activate twice in the same turn - first changing facing and secondly charging. Halsinge stood firm, volleyed and braced for impact. In the ensuing melee the Swedes were victorious and Novgorod retreated back from whence they came.

Novgorod charge, Halsinge pass check , standing and firing

Novgorod brave the volley and crash home!

Swedish pikes and bayonets do the business and the Russians flee!
By now the rest of the Swedes were on the move. The Ostergotland Regiment moved towards the breastwork of the Preobrazhenski Guards who held their fire but used their attached Sharpshooter character to attempt to pick off Swedish characters. Ostergotland launched a charge and were repulsed after a bloody combat. They reformed under the very muzzles of the Guards.

Ostergotland's drummers add vital inches to their charge

The Guards volley fails to stop the Swedish charge

The Russian Guards fight like heroes and repulse Ostergotland
Meanwhile the Abo cavalry swept by this melee heading for the bridge. Despite fire from the Russian guns and the grenadiers who were now occupying the village near the bridge the cavalry pressed on. Halsinge moved down the slope of the hill but did not close further with Russian units. Ostergotland, despite terrible losses launched a second charge on the Guards and were once more repulsed with a single survivor and some characters.

Reformed, Ostergotland go a second time

And are devasted by the Guards

Only one figure survived but represented here by the colour party
Despite there outstanding performance the Preobrazhenski Guards were not able to save the game for the Russians. Abo reached the bridge and thus were deemed to have achieved the Swedish objective and won the game.

Abo cavalry slip through and reach the bridge - game over!
19 turns. Game length about 90 minutes.

Swedish win.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Horse and Musket rules - snowy avalanche of test games

Game 1 Tense moment - Novgorod Dragoons spot Regiment Halsinge
With the bit between our teeth we got together again and squeezed in three test games in a single day between 2pm and 8.30pm finishing them all. This proved several things;
The games were quick, bloody and decisive.
The mechanics flowed well enough for the author and two newbies to pick them up quickly and get stuck in.
The game time in each case was somewhere under two hours.

We managed to cram in a coffee break and about 45 minutes for dinner in the available time so altogether it was an extremely productive day.

We used the snowy terrain boards made by the late Paul Trickett and his oppo Dean Whitehouse and originally constructed for their 1812 Retreat from Moscow skirmish game about 15 years ago. More on that later on the blog.

The three scenarios were all quite different.

Game 1
Narva 1700: The Russians are retreating and have to defend a small river crossing against pursuing Swedish forces.
Game 2: The Danish Foot Guards deliver a devastating volley to Ostergotland!
Game 2
Late period GNW:  An all infantry Danish force encounters a mixed force of Swedes in a stand up fight.

Game 3
Skane Province 1676: Scanian War: Danes and Swedes battle it out in the snow in the period of the Battle of Lund.
Game 3 : Danish Life Guards push back Uppland 
Since the previous play test I had incorporated some of the changes which we were keen to try out. The lads were ready for some of the finer detail too having picked up the basic mechanics through our Ireland game.

All of these games used fewer units with 4 per side. In advance I had prepared some roster sheets which made casualty management and characters very straightforward. I also prepared some cards for each unit which meant we didn't use a playing card deck to manage unit activation.

Game 2: Funen rake the passing Smalands Cavalry from their hilltop position
Over the next few posts in the series I'll explain some of the game play and use photos to illustrate the kinds of situations the armies found themselves in. Overall we found the Swedes powerful and fast but not superior to the Danes in every way. The characteristics attributed to each army forced the players to use them in a historical way. Dave and Bob alternated with their use of the Swedes in the first two games and I played the Danes in game 3.The Swedes rarely shot with their infantry and moved very quickly to contact where at all possible. We had a few surprises when we used Horse as either through unlucky or lucky (depending on your perspective) throws, the Danish cavalry were triumphant!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Horse and Musket rules from The League of Augsburg - Initial thoughts

Dave O'Brien - After originally discussing these type of small battles with Barry over a year ago we've finally gotten around to playtesting them and this was also the first outing of my Kirke's regiment at their full size for which they were originally painted for.

Both Bob and myself had seen a rough draft of the rules about six months before but these had since been beefed up and bore very little resemblance to what we had originally seen so Barry controlled the rules and took notes while Bob and myself did the actually gaming.

The first game probably tested the rules to full extreme as we used 8 units per side on an 8x6 table which gave a great game. The rules themselves are a compilation of parts from BLB and Donnybrook and are used for fighting small battles with no more than 8 units per side and in most cases usually less which means that characters and small unit tactics and formations are more important.

I won't go into a move by move description of the battle as Barry has done that in a number of other articles (with more to come). Barry had already pointed out the costs of the units - yes he's actually decided to produce a points count for this set of rules but I feel that actual cost of some of the units and characters still need to be finalised but that will come through further playtesting. The only thing Bob and I had to do before the game started was to dice up the quality of our Colonels which can vary from a real firebrand to a complete idiot and added an interesting aspect to the game. Apart from ourselves there are also groups in the USA and Scandinavia who are also trying out the rules and offering feedback.

Unlike BLB units are not all the same size and can vary in size from small detachments of 6 figures up to full battalions of 60 figures. If you want, the important characters such as ensigns, sergeants, drummers and heroes can either be included in the unit or I prefer to have them take their place out in front of their battalions as they would be historically. I like the fact that those special characters actually play an essential part in the performance of their unit rather than just as eye candy in other rule sets. Another decision you need to make before the battle starts is do you want to fix bayonets at the beginning or wait for the opportune moment as troops cannot load whilst bayonets are fitted, even socket bayonets. Large units would also have their own grenadier detachments so you need to decide if you want to combine them into superior units of keep them to boost the effect of their parent unit.

Even though neither of us had the full rules we quickly managed to pick up the main aspects after a couple of moves and the game quickly flowed along and had reached a decision after about 15 moves. A number of questions had arisen during the game about splitting up larger unit and a number of other points, all of which Barry had actually covered but had forgotten during the game - nothing new there then. 8-) Bob and I both enjoyed the game which flowed quickly and gave us some challenging decisions to make plus the card driven system and command decision added another level of excitement you don't get with BLB.

The first large battle had posted Williamites against Jacobites but for the other games we decided to reduce the size of the games to 4-5 units a side on a smaller table and tried various combinations of Danes, Swedes and Russians all of which gave fun fast games with the characters adding an extra element. Again all the games lasted for around 20 moves each but were over with decisive results in around two hours.

At the time of these playtests we hadn't added any extra bonus' for Swedish troops but decided to allow them slightly faster move rates and the ability for infantry to incline but so far no extra combat bonus.

My initial thoughts are that I loved the look of the games with the large and varying sized units. I loved the characters and card system which add an extra level of decision making to the game and also the ability to make a command decision to allow a unit once a move to act twice is a nice touch. The points system for units and characters needs some work on them to refine them a bit more as I feel some can be overly strong in their effect, especially the hero and we could do with getting the colonels and force commander a bit more involved in the action rather than just when a colonels card comes up but my overall impression of the rules is that they work extremely well for the small battles they are meant to represent and will work especially well for club night games where time can be limited.

By the time you read this review we will probably have played a number of other test games and we have already had feedback from the overseas testers so I can only see these rules going from strength to strength.

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