Sunday, 25 September 2016

All set for Derby

Having done the information packs and packed the game into boxes we are now set for Derby World Wargames show on 1st and 2nd October.


The game isn't huge and should easily fit into the back of Peter's car. Most of it fits into six large vegetable crates which will stack neatly and safely. The table cloths and hills will be used to stop them sliding about in transit. 

The white cloth is not for winter gaming it is the under cloth that goes onto the table first. For some reason I can't lay a cloth onto a bare table without an under cloth - perhaps it is my past career in hospitality. Whatever, using a baize cloth as a play mat always seems to work better with a bit of padding underneath - the white under cloth is a very cheap, fuzzy material.

 Vegetable crates, picked up free from my local supermarket, are ideal for this kind of thing. They are strong, they stack, and they are just the right size in most cases. Only the one containing the church and windmill has anything poking above the rim.
 I've packed all of the troops in their on table commands so that the game can be set up quickly.
The box on the left not only holds a few file boxes containing small applique terrain pieces like walls. It also contains the roads, each in its own envelope with each section labelled in the order it is to be laid out onto the table; this should allow the quite complicated road system to be laid out exactly as per the map in the shortest time. Games don't only require troops and terrain. All manner of gaming gubbins needs to go too: Information packs; dice; cards; morale chips; rules of course; measuring devices; counters and such.
The pile of hill formers is the ugliest and most awkward stack.

Its bulk means that it is best left unboxed. The stack might have to be split up for transport, so each section is labelled by hill and contour (I have a contour by contour crib sheet) so that the hills can be laid out quickly. This blue and pink stack always receives a quizzical look as it enters a venue - but then they all turn green when we throw the cloth over the top.

So, all packed up, hotel and restaurant booked for Saturday night, roll on Saturday. We'll set off at 7 am. Hopefully I'll see you at Derby World's over the weekend, drop by and say hello.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Lobositz 1756 - Scenario rules for Derby (edited 25:9:2016)

The Ilkley Lads no longer do hand out leaflets for the shows where we put on games. This is for two reasons. It is impossible to get enough information about a game onto a piece of A4 paper; I've never got the number of copies to take right, either I've taken too few and run out, or I've come back with enough scrap paper to last me for the next six months and cried over ill spent ink cartridges. Consequently, I now do full information packs that can be read at table side. There will be two packs for this game. 

The first pack contains the information here. It is the scenario design notes. Anyone who wants the information to keep can take a web address (to this blog) slip - it's easy enough to cut and paste the scenario information into MS Word for personal use, and I give permission for that.

The second information pack gives the historical background and narrative of the battle as it was fought on 1st October 1756. I'm pleased to say that I've obtained permission to reproduce the best, and fullest, description of the battle that I have found for people to read at table side. It was written by Jeff Berry and can be found at his Obscure Battles web site. Thank you Jeff, you're a gent.

(I have just finished doing the information packs for the demonstration at Derby World Wargames show next Saturday and Sunday. Having amended one or two of the scenario notes I have edited this post and added the order of battle with unit quality notation and terrain and weather notes.)


A 'military possibility' changes the way the battle is fought. Gessler passes his blunder check and does not attack the sunken road. Following an advance by Prince von Preussen, Gessler brings his cavalry over to the right to support the infantry advance.


Terrain and Weather Notes

The battlefield is set up on a 12' x 6' table. The basic layout will be a cloth thrown over hill shapes made from insulation board. All of the other terrain is a mixture of commercial and home made pieces.

The Lobosch Berg is a volcanic mound covered, on its lower slopes with vinyards and woods enclosed by walls of volcanic stone. We will treat the lower slopes (first two contours), on which the fighting takes place, as very rough terrain and heavy cover - in Piquet terms, type III. The upper slopes are so steep that they will be classified as almost impassible - in Piquet terms, type IV. Because this terrain was so ideally suited to operations by light troops, Grenzers will count as shooting from a Superior Position (Up 1).

The Homolka Berg is a big hill and its upper slopes are quite steep. The lower slopes (first contour) have no effect on movement. Movement will count as impeded from the second contour up - in Piquet terms type II. Its forward slopes (the slopes featured on the table) do not provide cover.

The Morellenbach stream and associated marshy surrounds (now drained) was a a serious obstacle, especially to cavalry - in Piquet terms, type III. It does not provide cover except to artillery firing round shot which is penalised (in Piquet terms, Down 1) for firing at targets in it and within 12" beyond it. Note: For reasons of space and aesthetics, only the boggy ground has been featured on the table.

The Graben stream was a serious impediment to movement - in Piquet terms it is type III.


The sunken road is a serious impediment to movement and provides cover vs firepower to troops on the road. It will cause any troops in melee to count a terrain disadvantage - In Piquet terms type III for movement when crossing the road and for cover, Down 1 for ANY troops in melee.

The Elbe, featured on the table as one bank of a meandering elbow bend that runs close to Lobositz, is impassible.

Built up areas are all standard 'village sections'.

A heavy mist shrouded valley of the Elbe. The mist didn’t completely lift until late morning. In Piquet terms, all fire will be modified Down 2 at more than musketry range until the heavy mist begins to clear; then Down 1 until the mist finally lifts. If firing to high ground, the modifier is one grade less severe.

·    At the end of each turn roll D12 Vs D8, if the D12 roll is higher the mist lessens. 
  •      Heavy mist (Down 2) to: Mist (Down 1) to:  Clear (No effect)


Special Scenario Notes & Military Possibilities

Setting the parameters for the historical re-fight of a battle is always tricky. There are several views on how it should be done and none will be absolutely right for everyone. I've been gaming for 40 plus years and I grew up with 'old school' rules by Featherstone, Grant, Quarrie, etc. I've moved on with the times since then but a section of my first wargames book, bought for me as a Christmas present in 1974, has always remained with me whenever I've set up a historical battle on a wargame's table. That book was "Battle Notes for Wargamers" by D. Featherstone.

Mr. Featherstone says, in that book, that a historical re-fight should use the terrain, order of battle, deployments and tactics of the original combatants. Furthermore, he says that, where possible, the actual tactical plan of each side should be used except that there should be a chance of what he calls 'military possibilities'. Military possibilities, he explains, is the chance that certain courses of action, carried out in the historical battle, might be ignored - history can be changed.

Lobositz is strewn with 'military possibilities', especially for the Prussians.

Piquet is a rule system that is ideally suited to scenario building so the historical 'military possibilities' can be built in without needing too many bolts, indeed this kind of thing is the food and drink of the Piquet system.

To run this scenario I think that the following extra notes and rulings are required.

Starting the battle

To make the battle of Lobositz look and feel like its historical counterpart it is probably best to start it in a historical manner without the military possibility of change. To that end, the battle will start with the two actions ordered by Frederick before he became fully aware of the situation before him. The first is Bevern’s attacks to clear the Lobosch Berg, and the second is the probing attack by Pennavaire against the Austrian cavalry and the sunken road below the Homolka Berg.

After that, the military possibility of history changing will come into play.

Artillery
To allow for the preliminary bombardments at the start of the battle all artillery, except for the Austrian battery behind the Morellenbach, is activated on turn 1.

Bevern
Bevern is activated on turn one. His orders are to clear the Lobosch Berg of the enemy as quickly as possible. Until his mission is accomplished Bevern cannot retreat or take troops off of the Lobosch until the hill is completely cleared of the enemy.

When Bevern became aware of the strength of resistance on the Lobosch Berg he called for reinforcements from Prince von Preussen’s command in the valley. To allow this to happen Bevern may attempt to supersede Prince von Preussen's command of units. He need not be within command distance, but must make the appropriate test on Officer Check and suffer the Dress the lines card penalty, to do so. Units activated in this way must make for the Lobosch Berg and operate on it until it is cleared of all enemy units.

Pennavaire
From the start of turn 2 the cavalry under Pennavaire's command must move to carry out a probing attack against the cavalry below the Homolka Berg, including any cavalry behind the sunken road. This attack is essential as it largely defined the future course of the battle.

On each appropriate move card, Pennavaire’s cavalry must move at best practical rate towards the Austrian cavalry below the Homolka Berg and attempt to clear it from the field. The command may not withdraw before losing over half of its unit strength, destroyed or routed.

Other command activations by turn

Whilst the battle raged at the sunken road and on the Lobosch much of the armies of both sides stood idle. Activation for the commands of both sides is therefore by turn or due to circumstances.

Draskowitz
Draskowitz’s command on the Lobosch Berg is activated on turn 1.

Radicatti
Radicatti’s cavalry is not activated before turn 2 unless it is engaged by Prussian artillery on turn 1, in which case Radicatti may activate his hussars to screen his other units.

Lacy
Lacy reinforced the Grenzers on the Lobosch Berg and occupied the town with troops stationed in and to the west of Lobostiz. To this end Lacy's infantry may activate from the start of turn 2. Otherwise, Lacy's command can only defend until Prince von Preussen is activated.

Lucchesi:
Lucchesi's cavalry may activate from the start of turn 3. Before that it is assumed that it is making its way, from the far left of the Austrian position, to the place it occupies at the start of the game.

Gessler:
In the unlikely event that Gessler is not required to take a blunder test (see below), he becomes active on turn 6.

Prince von Preussen:
If Gessler attacks due to a failed check (see Gessler's blunder) Prince von Preussen may not activate until turn 6. If Gessler passes his check Prince von Preussen is activated on turn 4.

Kolowrat:
Kolowrat's infantry may not activate until Prince von Preussen activates and then only following a successful check (D12 Vs D8) on Brilliant Leader used as a ‘Kolowrat Activation’ card. Kolowrat’s artillery becomes active on turn 2.


Gessler's blunder


After Pennavaire suffered a reverse (in game terms, this would be a unit destroyed, routed or shaken) Gessler made the fateful decision to rashly reinforce him and attack the sunken road. This was a terrible blunder on Gessler's part. 

The blunder is easily explained. It was a standing order, issued by Frederick himself, that cavalry reverses were to be stemmed by reinforcement. Also, prior to the battle, Frederick had criticised Gessler for his timidity in combat. So with Pennavaire struggling, and Frederick looking on, what else could Gessler do? Gessler felt obliged to reinforce Pennavaire. When Frederick exclaimed "My God, what is my cavalry doing?" his audience must have rolled their eyes. 

This is a clear case of 'military possibility' as described by Mr. Featherstone. What if Gessler hadn't attacked? 


In the game, the Prussians have three Cavalry Move cards; two of these cards will be special (green topped scenario) cards. If one of these cards is turned, and Pennavaire's command has suffered a reverse, Gessler rolls D12 Vs D8, if Gessler fails to beat the D8 result he must attack with his whole command, moving at least half rate on each appropriate move card, to clear the sunken road in support of Pennavaire, until 50% of his command is destroyed, routed or shaken when he can withdraw. If Gessler passes the check he is not required to attack and may act as required from turn 4.
 
Frederick quits the field:

Quite early on in the battle, when things were not going well, Frederick was advised to leave the field; he took the advice and did so. 



To allow for this military possibility a special green topped Major Morale card has been added to the Prussian sequence deck. When it is turned a normal major morale check is taken. If the test is failed Frederick flees the field. All subsequent major morale checks following this occurrence will be failed and will automatically go down to command group level. 

However, as happened at Mollwitz fourteen years earlier, the day was saved by the steadfastness and ability of the Prussian infantry - to boost their efficiency, if Frederick departs, a Crushing Volley card will be shuffled into the Prussian deck immediately following the failed major morale check.


Army Characterisation Deck cards


Because this is a historical re-fight Army Characterisation Deck (ACD) cards will not be randomly determined. They will be assigned. Both armies have an ACD divisor of 3.

The Prussian unit count is 28 units for 9 cards. The Prussians will be assigned 45 morale chips and an extra Brilliant Leader card.

The Austrian unit count is 37 units for 12 cards. The Austrians will be assigned 50 morale points, a Cavalry and Infantry Move in Difficult Terrain card and an Artillery Reload card.


Unit Quality Ratings


Unit quality has not been randomly determined, it was be predetermined. 

As per usual we will not be using roster sheets at the show. All unit information will be shown on the table. Troop quality will be marked with pony beads: 
  • Yellow: Abysmal leader
  • Red: Poor leader / Battle Weary unit
  • Green: Average leader / Ready unit
  • Blue: Skilled leader / Eager unit
  • Purple: Superior leader / Determined unit
  • White: Unused infantry 'first fire'.
  • Black: Blown cavalry.

Other markers will show casualty status, shaken and disordered.



Order of Battle

Austria 

Commander in chief: Maximilian von Browne. Skilled

Kolowrat. Average
  • 9 units of German Musketeers (representing 18 battalions). Ready
  • 1 unit of Hungarian Musketeers ((representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 1 unit of field artillery. Eager
Lucchesi. Average
  • 6 units of Cuirassier (representing 6 regiments, less elites). Ready
  • 1 unit of dragoons (representing 1 regiments, less elites). Ready
Lacy. Average
  • 4 units of German Musketeers (representing 8 battalions). Ready
  • 1 unit of Hungarian Musketeers ((representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 1 units of combined grenadiers (representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 2 units of combined grenadiers (representing 2 battalions). Battle Weary
  • 1 unit of Grenzers unit (representing 1 battalion). Eager
  • 1 unit of heavy field artillery. Eager
Radicati. Average
  • 2 units of Cuirassier (representing 2 regiments, less elites). Ready
  • 2 units of elite squadrons (the elite squadrons of the regiments). Ready
  • 1 unit of Dragoons (representing 1 regiments, less elites). Ready
  • 2 units of Hussars (representing 2 regiments). Ready
Draskowitz. Average
  • 2 units of Grenzers (representing 2 battalions). Eager
  • 2 units of Grenzers (representing 2 battalions). Ready
Prussia

Commander in chief: King Frederick the Great. Skilled

Henry Prince von Preussen. Skilled
  • 5 units of Musketeers (representing 10 battalions). Eager
  • 1 unit of Fusiliers (representing 2 battalions). Ready
  • 1 units of Grenadiers (representing 2 battalions). Eager
  • 1 unit of Grenadiers (representing 1 battalion). Ready
  • 3 units of heavy field artillery. Ready
  • 1 unit of heavy howitzers. Ready

Gessler. Average
  • 5 units of Cuirassier (representing 5 regiments). Eager
  • 2 unit of Dragoons (representing 2 regiments). Eager
  • 1 units of Hussars (representing 1 regiment). Eager
Bevern. Skilled
  • 3 units of Musketeers (representing 6 battalions). Eager
  • 1 unit of Musketeers (representing 1 battalions). Ready
Pennavaire. Average 
  • 2 units of Cuirassier (representing 2 regiments). Ready
  • 1 units of Guard Cuirassier (representing 1 regiments). Eager
  • 2 unit of Dragoons (representing 1 10 squadron regiment). Eager




Monday, 12 September 2016

It's Derby Worlds in less than three weeks

Saturday 1st October is the first day of the Derby World Wargames convention at Castle Donnington.


The 1st of October is significant for something else, one of my favourite battles. On that day 260 years ago, a certain King Frederick II of Prussia launched an attack against the Austrian forces at the small Bohemian town of Lobositz.

The coincidence of date is just too good to miss. So, in three weeks time the Ilkley Lads will celebrate the Battle of Lobositz, fought on 1st October 1756, by putting on a demonstration game of the battle at Derby World Wargames.

Over the next couple of Wednesday nights we will run through the battle and finalise the special scenario rules.

For those who will be unable to go to Derby Worlds, I'm going to detail the development of the game here with plenty of photographs. 

For those who will attend, knowing about the game might spark your interest enough to drop by the table and say hi; it might even provoke the odd question or [hopefully] constructive criticism.

Two things that have been settled are the table layout and the order of battle. This post shows how the battlefield, less a few bits of scatter and such, will look on the day. 

The Battlefield

The tabletop and deployment plan (made using MS Paint)


The battlefield is set up on a 12' x 6' table. The basic layout will be a cloth thrown over hill shapes made from insulation board. All of the other terrain, a mixture of commercial and home made pieces, will be laid out on top of the cloth. Although nothing has been especially made for this battle in particular, the overall effect is effective and quite pleasing.


The Prussians deployed on the Lobosch (right) the Homolka (left) and in the valley between.
The Austrians deployed on the Lobosch (foreground) and between Welhotta and Sullowitz.
The Terrain 


A view of the Lobosch Berg from the Homolka Berg
The Lobosch Berg is a volcanic mound covered, on its lower slopes with vinyards and woods enclosed by walls of volcanic stone. We will treat the lower slopes (first two contours), on which the fighting takes place, as very rough terrain and heavy cover - in Piquet terms, type III. The upper slopes are so steep that they will be classified as almost impassible - in Piquet terms, type IV. 


Looking towards the lower part of the Holomka Berg
and Lobosch Berg from behind the Morellenbach.
The Homolka Berg is a big hill and its upper slopes are quite steep. The lower slopes (first contour) have no effect on movement. Movement will count as impeded from the second contour up - in Piquet terms type II. Its forward slopes (the slopes featured on the table) do not provide cover.

The Morellenbach stream and associated marshy surrounds (now drained) was a a serious obstacle, especially to cavalry - in Piquet terms, type III. It does not provide cover except to artillery firing round shot which is penalised (in Piquet terms, Down 1) for firing at targets in it and within 12" beyond it. Note: For reasons of space and aesthetics, only the boggy ground has been featured on the table.

The Graben stream was a serious impediment to movement - in Piquet terms it is type III.

The sunken road is a serious impediment to movement and provides cover vs firepower to troops on the road. It will cause any troops in melee to count a terrain disadvantage - In Piquet terms type III for movement when crossing the road and for cover, Down 1 for ANY troops in melee. 

The Elbe, featured on the table as one bank of a meandering elbow bend that runs close to Lobositz, is impassible.

Built up areas are all standard 'village sections'.

Order of Battle

Since the last play test of this scenario I have decided to simplify the command structure even more by removing Moller and Hadik as commanders. These will now be put into the 'casualty replacement pool'.


Austria
Commander in chief: Maximilian von Browne


Kolowrat

  • 9 units of German Musketeers (representing 18 battalions)
  • 1 unit of Hungarian Musketeers ((representing 2 battalions)
  • 1 unit of field artillery
Lucchesi
  • 6 units of Cuirassier (representing 6 regiments, less elites)
  • 1 unit of dragoons (representing 1 regiments, less elites)



Lacy
  • 4 units of German Musketeers (representing 8 battalions)
  • unit of Hungarian Musketeers ((representing 2 battalions)
  • 3 units of combined grenadiers (representing 4 battalions)
  • 1 unit of Grenzers unit of Hungarian Musketeers (representing 1 battalion)
  • 1 unit of heavy field artillery
Radicati

  • 2 units of Cuirassier (representing 2 regiments, less elites)
  • 2 units of elite squadrons (representing the elite squadrons of 10 regiments, approx)
  • 1 unit of Dragoons (representing 1 regiments, less elites)
  • 2 units of Hussars (representing 2 regiments)
Draskowitz
  • 4 units of Grenzers (representing 4 battalions)












Prussia


Commander in chief: King Frederick the Great

Henry Prince von Preussen
  • 5 units of Musketeers (representing 10 battalions)
  • 1 unit of Fusiliers (representing 2 battalions)
  • 2 units of Grenadiers (representing 3 battalions)
  • 1 large unit of heavy field artillery
  • 1 unit of heavy field artillery
  • 1 unit of heavy howitzers
Gessler
  • 5 units of Cuirassier (representing 5 regiments)
  • 2 unit of Dragoons (representing 2 regiments)
  • 1 units of Hussars (representing 1 regiment)
Bevern
  • 4 units of Musketeers (representing 7 battalions)
Pennavaire

  • 3 units of Cuirassier (representing 3 regiments, including 1 guard)
  • 2 unit of Dragoons (representing 2 regiments)






So that is the basic set up. The next post will detail the special scenario notes and rules concerning, what Donald Featherstone would call, the "military possibilities" of the battle for the wargamer.



Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Scots of Howard's Brigade - 92nd and 71st Foot

The new additions for the project are from British 1st Division. They are the two Scottish battalions of Howard's Brigade. The third battalion of this brigade is English, the 50th Foot (West Kent), is on the painting table.

All figures are Front Rank Figurines.

First up is the 71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry). This is one of the highland regiments that lost its kilts in 1809. The regiment's main uniform distinction was a stretched and stiffened highland bonnet - presumably it was stretched over a peaked 'shako-like' former. This former is described as being a little shorter than a shako and seems to be a little less angular at the top. 

Shortening all of the miniature's shakos looked like a lot of hard work. It would involve the removal (and then replacement) of plumes and cockades and endless filing down. I took the liberty to distinguish my 'headgear formers' from a standard shako by the simple expedient of rounding the top edge with a file.


The stretched bonnet is blue and retains the chequered headband. To emphasise the headband I made it slightly deeper (helped by not having shortened the shako) than it should be. This allowed me to paint the pattern much more clearly than I could otherwise. In this case I think that a little artistic licence has gone a long way to making this unit stand out at a distance.
Apart from the bonnet, this unit is painted as a standard light infantry unit. It comprises 24 figures (Front Rank Figurines) on six stands. This gives me the unit in close order but being a light infantry unit it can, historically speaking, become a skirmish formation. I could separate the stands of the unit to represent this but to my mind it doesn't look quite right, so I have decided on a compromise. 
I have painted a further 12 figures and based them on two pence pieces. 


For photo purposes this picture does not show the unit fully dispersed; it does give an impression of what my light infantry units will look like when deployed on the table in skirmish formation; there is a skirmish line of individual figures and a colour party. 

There are only 20 figures (not 24) but as I don't intend using rules that count heads this should not be a problem.


Next up, 92nd Regiment of Foot (otherwise known as the Gordon Highlanders). 

I have chosen to simplify the tartan by omitting the thin yellow stripe that passes through the centre of the green sections. I did this after finding it almost impossible to see.
 A close up of the colour party. Standards are by Flags for the Lads.
One thing I have found out about this regiment is that not all musicians are the same. Although the drummer is in reversed colours, the piper isn't. Of course I discovered this after I had already painted the piper in reversed colours, thinking him to be a 'musician', silly me. I repainted his jacket.

You might also notice that I cheated on the hose (socks). I have only painted the red stripe going diagonally one way. I noticed this had been done on the figures pictured on the Front Rank website. As you can only see a few 'inches' of sock, this is a very clever and effective little cheat. These figures took quite some time to paint, so every little cheat helps, IMHO.

As I said, next up will be the 50th Regiment of Foot (West Kent) to finish this brigade. After that I'm going to do a couple of cavalry regiments and then a brigade of Portuguese infantry to speed things up a bit.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Bohemian Blitzkrieg Campaign: Turn 11, Prussian move phase.

The Prussians are back in supply!

Prussian moves:
  • Frederick at Aussig with 41SP to Nollendorf
  • Bevern at  Arnau with 10SP to Jlein then onto Sobotka
  • Schwerin at Brandeis with 45 SPs  to Prague








Monday, 15 August 2016

Bohemian Blitzkrieg Campaign: Turn 10, Austrian move phase.

Brown is still out of supply so loses 1 SP.

Austrian moves


  • Konigseck at Welwarn with 28 SPs, gives 1SP to Serbelloni who moves to Melnik and then Dauba, Konigseck moves with 27 SPs to Budin then Lobositz to join Lorraine.
  • Maquire at Brandies with 20 SP moves to Prague and encamps outside the walls.
  • Daun at Chlum with 12 SPs moves to Sobotka.
  • Browne at Konnigstein with 10 SPs moves to Rumburg.
There is a major contact at Lobositz. Lorraine with 71 SPs faces Frederick with 51. There is also a minor contact at Rumburg. Frederick retreats to Aussig, Winterfeldt retreats to Schlucklenau.






Bohemian Blitzkrieg Campaign: Turn 10, Prussian move phase

At the end of turn nine the Prussians under Winterfeld at Konnigstein retreat to Rumburg,  and the Austrians under Toppa retreat to Welwarn.


Frederick is out of supply for a fourth consecutive move and loses 2 SPs.

Prussian moves:
  • Henry at Nollendorf with 18SP, to Aussig, then Lobositz.
  • Frederick at Budin with 33SP, to Lobositz. 
  • Schwerin at Alt-Brezlau with 45SP, to Brandeis. 
  • Bevern at Soor with 10SP, to Koniginhof then Arnau. 

Correction: Frederick has 51 SP, not 41 as shown here.