Friday, 21 November 2014

A milestone

Just to let you all know that this blog has recently passed the half a million page views. The current total, as I write this, is 513,585 page views.


Thank you for looking, and my very best regards to everyone,

James Roach

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Last night's action at Mochkirch.

Last night the action continued at Mochkirch. The fighting intensified as the night went on and the session ended with all of the Prussians having arrived and the Russians being sorely pressed in their centre and centre right (on the hill). Anyway, here are a few shots of the game.

The Prussian attack to the right of Mochkirk is developing - in the background more Prussian infantry are hurrying to the sound of the guns.
On the left of Mochkirch the Russians begin to move forward to support their hard pressed centre. 
On the right of Mochkirch the Prussian reserves move forward with alacrity to relieve pressure on the Prussian cavalry that are being murdered by the Russians on the other side of the hill.
Here's a shot of the Prussian cavalry, depleted in number and held off by the Russian infantry which, in turn, are now being attacked from both sides. Just in the nick of time, as they say.
Prussians, Prussians everywhere. The Russians race to form a line.
A local Russian counter attack goes in.

Purple beaded units, like these Russian grenadiers, are scary. They are Up2 for everything.
It partly succeeds.

Purple beaded or not, rubbish dice rolling is rubbish dice rolling - Graham is sickened.
The Russains form line to the left of Mochkirch to face the Hunfun.
The Prussians are now attacking in a co-ordinated fashion against little opposition to the right of Mochkirch.
As the Russians pile up to the left of Mochkirch to face one lot of Prussians......

Can you see whats coming - very top left of shot.
Another lot, turn up on their flank. The scene is set for a glorious blood bath. 

Well, those are shots of most of the action, though there were small scrimmages elsewhere on the periphery.

We will fight the action to conclusion next week. Both sides still have around 20 morale points each. 

The Russians have lost 15 units and officers; the Prussians have lost 9.

A funny thing about dice

O.K. Let me start by saying this is not the one about when you say "anything but a one". That is just coincidence made large by the strange way our minds work with coincidences and probabilities. This is about the mathematical quirk of a rule system and probabilities.

In classic Piquet virtually all die rolls are opposed. That is to say that both player's roll a dice and the result is determined by the difference in the dice. In a morale challenge roll, for example, the attacker rolls a dice against the defenders dice and there are four possible outcomes:

  • The defender beats the challenge by rolling higher.
  • The defender fails the challenge by rolling the same or less (disordered).
  • The defender fails the challenge by rolling less and his score is doubled (routed).
  • The defender fails the challenge by rolling less and his score is tripled (routed unralliably).

Last night, following the Wednesday war gaming session, I said to the guys as they left "You know there is more chance of rolling higher and tripling than there is of doubling." Both Graham and Peter were unconvinced, in fact I think they thought I'd gone a bit crazy. I thought I'd worked this all out in the past and discovered it to be true but, with these guys being pretty good with maths, I started to doubt myself. Surely, it is easier to double?

When I went to bed I got to work with the Sumerian abacus. Stop tittering. Hold your hand palm up. Stop tittering. Take the thumb of that hand and place it on the first bone of your index finger, that is 1. Moving up the next bone is 2. Moving up each finger and across you can count to twelve on one hand (I've heard this is why the dozen came about). Using the other hand to keep track of dozens you can count to 144, though I work left to right on both hands. It's useful for keeping a track when doing this kind of thing in your head.

Well, lets look at cases. D8 Vs D8.

  • There twenty ways to beat the defender without doubling or tripling.
  • There are seven ways to double the defender.
  • There are nine ways to triple the defender.
Hang on! 

This all comes about because of the double / triple quirk on low defender rolls. In the rules, triples always take precedence over doubles, so when the defender rolls a one, there is only one way he can be doubled - the attacker rolls a two - but there are six ways the defender can be tripled on a one - the attacker rolls three, four, five, six, seven, or eight.

Now I haven't worked out all the combinations of opposed dice, but a I'm fairly sure a similar thing happens when any attacking dice is rolled Vs D8. It's quirky.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

More shots at Mochkirch

On Wednesday the three of us set about the action at Mochkirch (see scenario in previous post). This time the Prussians drew a joker deployment card, which allowed greater freedom of deployment and to initially concentrate an attack on the centre from three directions. I'll not bore you with all of the details but, the action was fast and furious. Initially all went well for the Prussians. Their massed cavalry attacked with great success. Their infantry attacked the main village from both sides of the table and managed to gain a foothold - Peter's grenadiers (combined grenadier Btn 29 / 31) doing particularly heroically. However, by the end of the first night's play the Russians, led by Graham, were beginning to organise counter attacks. Everyone is having a good time with this scenario - it works, Huzzah! We will continue on Wednesday. Here are some shots of the nights action.





Friday, 7 November 2014

Eclectic new additions for the Italian Wars

Anyone who has looked at my Italian Wars collection will know that it is quite eclectic in nature. This wasn't planned. It came about because I know of no manufacturer that produces everything. 

I've been particularly busy with commissioned work for the last few months but, as painting just for others would make me a very dull boy, I've managed a few new additions. They are mainly aimed at the Marignano game planned for next year.

 The painting comprises two units of eight mounted crossbows by Old Glory; seventy two Italian pike by TAG; two stands of mixed figures based around heavy hand guns by Copplestone (Grenadier Models?that I purchased through Vexillia).
 First up the pike. These are Italian but, for now, I've used some (interchangeable) French flags because I plan to use them as Picard pike in the Marignano game.
 These figures were well cast and easy to paint. Their one downfall, for me, was the realistic ankle shape, which made painting stripy hose difficult - big ankles make this much easier, IMHO. 
 I'm also not a big fan of pike that stick out too far in front of units as they generally become a problem in play. These fall between two stools, they are just acceptable for me. I bought the mix of pike angle to take advantage of the unit deals - I bought six unit packs plus a handful of other packs to get two 72 man pike squares, this being the first.
 I'm not sure why the ones at the back were so heavily armoured. My criticism is harsh. These are the best Italian pike available anywhere. I like them, and I'll be adding another TAG square (for a total of three) at some point so I can do Agnadnello.
 The OG packs of mounted crossbow have only two variants. I had forgotten this. My other units have the addition of Foundry WoR prickers (with added crossbows replacing lance) to add to the variants.
 But they still look good.
 These satnads are based around Copplestone figures with 'heavy handgun / arquebus'. I'll be using them as Hackbuts. The packs come as four figures (manning the 'hackbuts'), I've based them on light artillery bases with a few extra figures to pad them out.

Anyway, that's it for the Italian Wars for a while (there are still well over 300 in the to do pile). 

Next up I'm going to start upgrading my SYW Austrians - it's about time. There are several hundred figures that I haven't been able to use since upgrading the Prussians and Russians - especially as I've added over a hundred shiny things to this pile recently.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Mochkirch - a one night's trial run.

Last night it was just Peter and I, Graham being away doing something silly - work, I think. We played the first few moves of the Mochkirch game, mostly to check the random nature of the Prussian deployment and arrivals. It worked just fine. It worked better than fine.

The Prussians arrived at both ends of the table in some force.
The initial Prussian deployment distance of 12" from the Russian lines - the Prussians appearing at close range out of the early morning darkness - allowed them to get in amongst the outlying villages before the Russians could respond. 
Massed Prussian cavalry crashed into the Russian cavalry and quickly dispersed it. Only cannister fire from the artillery on the hill, and an advance by some desperate Russian infantry brought the Prussian cavalry to a halt. Then another lot arrived close behind them. 
At the end of play the Prussians were contesting two villages and the Russians were only just clinging on.
Even with so many Prussians being deployed from the start I (playing Russian) couldn't make my mind up where to send reinforcements. I think this scenario will be a fire fighting exercise by the Russians. They will have to launch counter attacks somewhere to have any chance of a win - which always makes attack / defence games more interesting.

Peter and I decided that the game had worked so well that it would be a shame to have Graham join in at the half way point next week. So this morning I reset the game so we will can all play it again from the start, and to a conclusion over the next couple of gaming nights.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Mochkirch - A SYW dawn attack scenario

As the name implies, this scenario is loosely based on the Battle of Hochkirch fought in 1758. Readers of this blog will know I've done this scenario before:

It's a great battle to do because there is so much going on, so why change it? The answers are simple. Firstly, I haven't re-based my Austrians yet (that's a pretty big reason). Secondly, we've fought it before - lots. Thirdly, taking a historical engagement and changing it sometimes leads to a much better game because more balance can be introduced - thus making it a closer, harder fought, more exciting game.

I have taken the rough outline of the action, changed the armies (the Prussians defended at Hochkirch versus an Austrian attack) and their composition, and I have taken some liberties with the terrain and deployments but it presents, in essence, very similar tactical situations and challenges.

For this game we will use our heavily amended classic Piquet rules with domino decided initiative swing.

So, the background for Mochkirch (not Hochkirch) is this.

The Prussians intend to make a surprise attack on the Russians, strung out on their route of march, at dawn. The army has been split up into various battle groups and these have made a series of night marches around the Russian positions to establish themselves on their starting lines before dawn. The exact deployment of the Russians and the exact nature of the terrain is not known but it is hoped that a multi-pronged surprise attack, at first light, will cause enough confusion to carry the day.

The Russians are encamped along their route of march. Reports have come into the Russians that outlying pickets have been pushed in by Prussian forces, but the picture is confusing because the enemy is not showing a specific direction of advance. Russian forces have been ordered to stand-to in their present positions and await the dawn, further intelligence and fresh orders.

To get the game going quickly I have chosen to pre-deploy the Russians roughly alongside the road with a few outlying pickets. Their are four infantry commands, three commands of five units each plus artillery support, and one command of two units. There are two four unit regular cavalry commands, plus three leaderless commands of Cossacks each two units strong. They are all standing-to and ready for action.
The Prussians have been organised into seven commands. There are two powerful cavalry commands each of five units. There are five infantry commands: Three commands of three units plus artillery support and two commands of four units . These will be deployed at random around the table edges from move one. Some will probably not arrive immediately.

Around the table edge I have placed eight playing cards (one to eight of diamonds). I have sorted a deck of eighteen other playing cards (one to eight of hearts, one to eight of clubs, and two jokers). Before the game starts the Prussian player will deal a card to each of his commands. The Prussian player may look at the cards, the Russian player cannot.

  • A heart indicates that the command will start the game deployed on table. 
  • A club indicates that the command has been delayed and will arrive on table, on a Stratagem card, at some point after the start of the game, by rolling a successful other difficulty die. 
  • The number on the card indicates which jump off point (diamond card) the command will use. Units arriving at the start of the game may deploy straight in from the table edge but must be more than 12" from the nearest enemy (see below). Commands arriving late will deploy up to 6" in from the table edge. No command may deploy on a frontage of more than 20". 
  • A joker indicates that the command can arrive on time, or be delayed (at the player's choice), at any sanctioned jump off point.
  • Furthermore, the C-in-C counts as a 'super joker'. He can be placed with one command after the deployment cards are dealt. 
The game begins at crack of dawn. No movement is allowed to the Russians until after the first Prussian move card has been turned. Visibility is limited to twelve inches until after movement on the first Prussian move card turned in the game, thereafter it is full daylight at the start of a hot and muggy summer's day.

At the end of the game victory is awarded to the player holding the most villages. because these command the main road. Holding all three gives a heroic victory. The hamlet (the single town section settlement) is not a village.

I hope you like the look of the scenario. I think it has the look of a good one. 

Last but not least, three shots of the Harran game at Fiasco last week. The game moved swiftly to a Crusader victory with Bohemond and Tancred riding to the rescue of the Edessanes.