28 June 2010

1/IR4, the Hoch und Deutchsmeister

From Knõtel with Helmuts.

With Shakos

Thankfully, I have all that rebasing under my belt, so I have been able to start painting again. First up were some Austrians. I have all Front Rank figures, and they are really great for my painting technique. White prime, with thinned acrylics and then Army Painter. All units will be from FM Nordmann's Avantgarde at Wagram in 1809. This is my original attempt before I corrected the painting errors
Here are 1/IR4, the Hoch und Deutchsmeister. I used the soft tone Army Painter here, I am quite happy with the result. Their distinguishing characteristic is blue facings and yellow buttons. So I fixed the cocardes, they are now yellow with a black dot (don't laugh at my dots, I will use a marker from now on), flagtop is bronze and although you can not see it the musicians now have white piped shoulders. I know the flagpole and the drum are not correct, but I have to think about this a little longer.
A little dark maybe, but you can see the drummers.
Here is 2 bases of an eventual 3 base Light Austrian Cavalry unit. I really enjoyed painting these figures, I used the Army Painter midtone here. So you can see that for 4 of the 6 figures, I used the correct facings for artillerymen, I left 2 of them with blues facings and will treat them as handlangers.

Great figures are they not!

And finally to show that I am not slacking here is the command stand of 2/IR48, the Bellegarde. They have nice distinctive red facings with grey buttons.


22 June 2010

Casa de Salinas: Solo Lasalle (Part 2)

So to recap, the British are in trouble, Wellesley has ordered the retreat. Donkin's Bde is intact, but the Light Cavalry Bde under Anson is on it's last legs with 3 DISR each. Mackenzie's brigade has been mauled; the Connaught Rangers have broken and the 1/KGL line are trapped in a forward position are being engaged by the French.
Turn 11
Wellesley pulls the first card, he nominates Anson. Anson orders his 2 cavalry regiments to the south and then to the east, he tries to rally his men, but he is unsuccessful. Donkin starts his retreat. Laplane's brigade advances west and the 1/25e charge the the 5th. It is not going to be an easy retreat. Darricau splits his brigade in two, with him assuming command for the battalion heading through the olive grove, while the CinC Lapisse stays within command of the other 3 battalions, they all continue west to cut off the British retreat. Lapisse's card is drawn and he orders the 50e under Laplane to charge the KGL. Mackenzie draws his card, he has to defend against 2 French battalions, one taking him in his left flank.
The KGL break and Mackenzie's brigade is destroyed.
Turn 12
Anson continues his retreat, he just cannot rally his troops. Darricau continues his advance west. Donkin defends against the 1/25e successfully and they break. Wellesley nominates Donkin to move again, the British are giving it a good go. The 5th wheel backwards the 94th and the 24th move towards the bridge.
The French are aggressively moving west. The 2/25e attempt to charge the 94th in the flank but just can not get there.
Turn 13
Lapisse nominates Laplane, he is able to get the 2/25e to take the 94th in the flank. Anson knows that the only chance for the British to safely retreat is if he can rally his light cavalry, they have 3 DISR each and can not charge any of the French Infantry, his third rally attempt is futile they continue their retreat. The next card is Laplanes, he is the cleverest of the French generals, he fires into the flank of the 94th, they take casualties. The 82nd also cahrge the 94th, the Scots are in trouble. The Welsh are also in trouble as they are charged by the 50e ligne. Finally Donkin's card is drawn: the 5th fire and cause casulaties in the 50e. The 94th fail to fallback, they engage in combat with both the 82e and the 2/25e, the Scots luck runs out and they break. The Welsh have a bit more luck, they drive back the 50e. The 24th has made it over the bridge and form into a second line of defense. The British have reached their break point, but still have the morale to carry on. Darricau's brigade continues it's advance.
Turn 14
Donkin's card is drawn; the 5th continue to harry the 50e with musket fire. They continue their move by flank to cover the retreating units. Morale stays high. Laplane's card is drawn, his infantry battalions have got the Light Dragoons in a crossfire, they break. Darricau moves his Light Horse Artillery to the river's edge and they unlimber. Anson attempts to rally the KGL Hussars are futile, their horses are exhausted trying to elude the French infantry. Wellesley orders Donkin to continue the assault on the 50e, they break; the 5th continue their slow flank maneuver. Miraculously, their morale holds. The French assault has now reached the bridge Lapisse orders the 2/25e to take it.
Turn 15
The situation is hopeless for the British, Donkin continues his defense, but the 5th are now in jeopardy from the rear, the 3/25e légere are almost there, 3 other French battalions are approaching from their front and their right flank. The 24th keep the 2/25e at bay. Morale now is barely holding. Wellesley can barely hold in together, the 24th fire at the 25e. Laplane tactical ability continues as 2/25e defeat the 24th in combat, but it is inconclusive. He survive a officer survival test. Anson can not control the Hussars, they gallop in panic to the north as they are being approached on all sides by French infantry, they are trapped. Darricau orders multiple units to charge the 5th. Lapisse delivers the coup de gras, the 5th take fire from three sides and they break, the Light Horse Artillery starts their bombardment of the far back of the river. British Morale fails and Wellesley escapes with his aides to fight the next day at Talavera.SUMMARY
I was impressed at how well the Lasalle rules held up to tinkering and even though 6-7 full (4 phases) mini-turns were played in each turn the game moved along quite quickly (If I was not recording every move, these 5 turns would have played out in a little more than an hour). The card activation system kept things in doubt and it really made playing solo a lot of fun. I have to think about the number of cards I used as I am not 100% sure, if using CinC cards is the best approach although it did add to the suspense. For those who are interested, I have charted the last 5 turns of the game so you can actually see how the muti-phased play went for each turn. An impressive set of rules to be sure!!
Double-click on the chart, it is quite readable. The game runs from left to right and than down for each turn. Each cell holds all 4 phases of the game mechanic. Abbreviations are at the bottom.


18 June 2010

Casa de Salinas Summer 1809: Solo Lasalle Rules (Part 1)

In order to test my solo variation, I wanted a pretty simple scenario. I found this one on the Scenario-Wiki on the Honour forum. I only made some slight adjustments to the OB. The terrain is 10'x 5' (large for Lasalle). Details about scenario can be found at the above link. But essentially the scenario is based on a preliminary action on the day before the Battle of Talavera. Wellesley is with a small force monitoring the advance of the French forces west of the River Alberche and north of Talavera. Anson's Cavalry Bde is west of the Portina river and Wellesley has two small infantry bdes with him just east of the river. He has made a decision to stop the French force if he can, but he has no idea of the size of the force so he sends out four companies of the 5 /60th American Rifles to reconnoitre east of a large olive grove.
Scenario specific rules include a 20 turn (large terrain, I want to see how the maneuver using cards works) game with possible bonus turns. There are no victory points, although if Wellesley is captured (which almost did actually happen) the game is of course over. The olive grove in front of the the farmhouse is rough terrain-soft cover, there is a 1 unit BUA on top of a hill to the extreme north. The river is impassable and the bridge can be crossed only in Column of March. Aside from the 5/60th there is no movement from the British until the French are spotted.

Turn 1
So the 7 cards are shuffled. Wellesley's card is drawn first, he gives orders to the 5/60th rifles to advance to the east to and return once the French advance is spotted. I will only run through the cards for the first turn, Next is Anson: no movement as French are yet to be spotted, Darricau: One French blind advances 8BW, Lapisse: Another French blind advances, Donkin: no movement, Laplane: The third French blind advances, Mackenzie: no movement. Pretty simple! The 5/60th advance through the olive grove.

Turn 2
The French blinds continue their advance as does the 5/60th.
Turn 3
The 5/60th come within 8BW of the first blind. A D6 is thrown=6, Darricau's Bde is revealed in Attack Column. Darricau's card is drawn next and his Bde advances toward the 5/60th. The final card is Lapisse and as he is CinC of the French forces he can nominate any of his subcommanders to move, he tells Darricau to charge the the 5/60th, all cards drawn, end of turn.

Turns 4 and 5
Wellesley's card is drawn first, in his reaction phase the 5/60th successfully Fall Back and start their retreat back to report the their CinC
The British forces advance, Wellesley decides to advance Mackenzie's Bde in line and to use Donkin's Bde as reserve, Anson's Light Cavalry Bde advances in support.

The 9e légere rapidly advance after the Royal American Rifles. Donkin moves his Light Horse Artillery forward

The first shots are exchanged between the 5/60th and the 9e légere, the 9e suffers the first DISR of the game (how do you like the nifty casualty marker). The Light Horse Artillery are unlimbered. The blinds advance.......which one is the dummy?

Turn 7
Mackenzie opens up a space between the 1/88th and the 1/KGL for the Light Cavalry to advance. Donkin sends in the 24th to support the KGL. The 5th are held back to protect the southern flank of Wellesley's force. The 94th are kept back in reserve.

The 5/60th arrive back and report to Wellesley on the French forces, unfortunately they have only spotted the first brigade, so Wellesley feels he has sufficient forces to engage the French. Does he know that the 9e have started their advance through the olive grove. See sends the elements of the 5/60th to the KGL, 88th, 24th and 5th to enhance their skirmishing ability. Lapisse has decided to send one blind to extreme north for a more direct path to the west. The other blind is sent to the south. The French artillery fire at long range, the 88th suffer the first British DISR.
Turn 8
Anson advances the cavalry to engage the French. The most northerly blind is spotted, it is Général de Brigade Laplante, he is a clever tactician, 3 battalions of the infamous 25e légere appear in column of attack.
Wellesley is now in trouble he has 5 battalions of infantry and 2 regiments of light horse. Bearing down on him are 12 battalions of experienced French Infantry which include 3 battalions of valiant 25e légere. Moving through the olive grove apparently unnoticed is the 9e légere. Is history going to repeat itself? He decides to advance the light cavalry to slow the French advance. Some of the French infantry form square, but the 25e advance to engage the 88th.
Turn 9
Mackenzie advances the KGL to charge the 76e ligne who have formed square in anticipation of an attack from the British light cavalry. Darricau's card is drawn, in combat the 76e break. He relimbers his light horse artillery they withdraw to the south. Anson advances the Light Dragoons to charge the 39e Ligne and advances the KGL Hussars to attack the French Ligne in the flank. Lappise uses his card to reactivate Darricau's Bde, an indecisive combat results that the 39e win, the light dragoons are forced to fallback. Laplante uses his card to advance his forces and charge the 1/25e into the 88th. In response to the advance of the hussars he forms his threatened battalion into square. Somewhere in this melee, a combat ensues between the hussars and the French battalion, which the hussars lose decisively, they are also force to fallback. Laplante is good tactician and has a very helpful combat bonus.
Turn 10
Wellesley now realizes his plight, he has 2 French battalions advancing through the olive grove, nine more battalions are advancing to the northeast, his 2 light cavalry units are falling back with significant casualties. He decides to withdraw across the bridge, it is difficult though as the KGL and the light cavalry regiments are separated from his main force. His card is the first drawn, he activates Anson's Bde, the light dragoons about face and the hussars wheel and head back. Donkin's card is drawn, he starts his retreat toward the bridge. Darricau's card is drawn, the 39e change from square into AC. The 9e reforms into AC and they advance with the other battalion through the grove (from now on I will always form infantry into March column when going through rough terrain). The light horse artillery are ordered to return, as the British cavalry are no longer a threat. Mackenzie's card is drawn, the KGL fire into the 39e and cause 1 DISR. A combat between the 1/25e and the 1/88th ensues, again Laplante's tactical bonus pays off and the 88th break.
Laplane's card is drawn, he advances his force in an attempt to cut off the retreating cavalry. He charges the 39e into the KGL. Last card of the turn is Anson's, fortunately he is able to wheel the 2 cavalry regiments to the southwest to escape the clutches of Laplante.
So at the end of Turn 10, the British tactical situation is pretty grave. Donkin's brigade has so far escaped unscathed, and is not in a bad position to retreat. Mackenzie's brigade has been mauled with the loss of the 1/88th and the KGL are not only deep in the middle of the French but are engaged in combat with the 39e. Both of Anson's cavalry units have suffered 3 DISR and can easily break, Anson so far has been unsuccessful in trying to recover his cavalrymen. The British can only lose 2 more units before their morale breaks.


17 June 2010

Lasalle: A Solo Variation

Over the last 18 months, I have tried 4 sets of rules for the Napoleonic era. Le Feu Sacre and Field of Battle (Piquet) both readily lend themselves to solo wargaming as they are card activated and LFS uses blinds which is a real bonus. Both have excellent and well populated forums, where one can get answers to questions within a couple of hours and really without exception everyone is quite helpful. I found the mechanics of LFS somewhat fiddly and I did not like their basing scheme. The rulebook is so....so. I like FoB, it gives you a very exciting game and the mechanics are readily understandable with a good rulebook, I will definitely keep it on top of the stack.

Republic to Empire, I am sure, is a great set of rules; the detail is amazing and I suspect quite true to Napoleonic warfare. It is a bit of work though, and for a solo wargamer without anyone to bounce questions off, I found it a little tiresome. Their forum is less populated, and at times I have found the posts somewhat contradictory although it is usually a very small number of people who actually offer rules clarifications. I get a general sense of defensiveness from some members of the forum about the ruleset, not really sure why. I do believe the rule book is a little confusing, but I am a very inexperienced wargamer so it is probably me. I believe if I was not playing solo; ie. I did not have to do all the heavy lifting myself in figuring out how the rules worked, I might be more interested but for the moment I am going to keep them on hold.

Lasalle is really a great product; the rulebook is quite accessible and throughout are superb diagrammes. The mechanics are very simple but at the same time quite elegant. I find the Army Builder in the book quite useful for imposing some order on my somewhat chaotic approach to building armies. The forum, in association with the rules, took off very quickly. You really can get clarifications quite quickly, but are generally unnecessary as the rulebook is quite clear and well laid out. There are very many members and they are from all over the world, it is quite interesting. The rules are not as exciting in playing solo wargaming as is FoB. Igo-Ugo, just is not great for playing by oneself.

Recently on the Lasalle forum, I came across a post from Mike48 a solo wargamer in Belgium, who appears to have modified the ruleset to have blinds and card activation. I do not have all the details of his modification yet, I believe Mike is going to post an AAR soon, but I thought why not give it a go myself.

In Lasalle, there are alternate turns, with a well designed sequence of play. In a general sense, there are 4 steps: You REACT first to the moves your opponent has made in his turn; You resolve any COMBATS that have come about; You than have an ACTIVITY phase where you move or maneuver your forces and finally you reassess the STATUS of your forces and add reserves if any. The other side then goes in the same sequence.

In FoB each move is activated by a specific card, ie. a "Move" card allows the movement of all your forces and a "Move 1" card allows the movement of just 1 brigade. This is fun when one person is playing both sides for the obvious reasons. Mike48 apparently derived a system where he has cards for each sub-force and activates each of the sub-forces as it's card is drawn, this is very similar to LFS. Additionally in LFS, all the sub-forces start the games blinded by the use of large placecards, and the specific sub-force is not revealed until it is "spotted" by the other side. Very nifty...

So what follows is my first clumsy attempt to graft these two ideas on to Lasalle. I have really tried to leave as intact as possible the rules themselves. So first with the Activation Cards, I decided to give each sub-commander and commander a card. The sub-commander's card activated his specific brigade, while the commander's card activates any of his brigades or independent units. So essentially when a card is drawn that brigade goes through the 4 phases of it's turn, followed by the next card and so on. Going through a deck of cards is one turn, they are re-shuffled and you start again. If the Commander is killed or wounded his card is removed from the deck. Each deck is the equivalent of a turn in Lasalle speak.

I then had to set up the blinds, being assigned to only one side depending on the scenario. If there were 2 forces (2 brigades), than 3 blinds were set on the table (numbered face down), one being a dummy. I used cards the approximate size of the footprint of the brigade. Pretty straight forward. These cards would move at column of march rate upon the drawing of any Activation Card belonging to that army.

Finally, I had to design a mechanism to reveal (spot) each of the blinds. This is where I had to use skirmishers in a novel way, outside of the rules of the game. I treated them as an irregular force according to the optional rules within Lasalle. They were treated as an independent force under the command of the CinC. They were never treated though as out of command, and could travel up to 8BW in a move. I felt that a unit of rifleman or voltiguers could travel further than an infantry unit in a column of march (6BW) in a single turn. I also allowed them to keep their formed range fire at 8BW if using rifles, even though they were generally being treated as an irregular unit. As they were irregular, I allowed them to move in any direction without penalty. They had to keep within 1BW of each other, and their 4 bases (2 figures per base) had an equivalent firing power of 2 bases, so under unmodified conditions, they would throw 2xD6. Their specific orders would to go forward and spot the enemy and than return as quickly as possible. Once within 2 BW of the CinC they could be given new orders. Which of course, could include joining an infantry battalion to enhance their SK value. Small units of light cavalry could also be used. Spotting can be quite straight forward, and was when the scouts came within 8BW's of one of the blinds. The blind would than be immediately revealed and the forces associated with it would be placed on the table. A D6 was thrown to decide if they were revealed in Column of Attack or Column of March (=/>4 being column of attack). Once 2 of the 3 blinds were spotted, the last blind was also revealed.

Well it sounds pretty simple, but I am not really sure how the phases of each turn will go, so I decided to set up a simple scenario to test my idea. I have ran through 6 turns (decks) so far and everything appears to be quite smooth, but no close combat has yet taken place, so we will have to see. I will describe the scenario and post an AAR in my next post, but here is the initial layout.

So here we have the 3 blinds representing the 2 French brigades, we can see their lonely CinC Général de Division Lapisse.
Here is the unblinded British army. We can see their CinC Wellesley giving command to the 5/60th rifles to reconnoitre to the east. There is a small infantry bde to the north and a slightly larger one to the south. In the far west, across the river we can see BdeGen Anson's cavalry bde.
Stay tuned!


13 June 2010

Reorganised Anglo-Portuguese Army

Well, I am happy to get this done, I will never rebase again (famous last words), quite pleased with the result though. I have again taken the Lasalle Army Builder and used it to organise my armies. Since the primary area of interest for me is the Peninsula, I decided to go with a Core Light Division as my primary force. I will substitute out the KGL, once I get the 43rd painted. I also had the battalions for the Core Guard Division (1st Division) and I used the III Division (Picton), as the basis for my Organic Infantry Brigade. I am still trying to decide what Division to base the Core Infantry Division, as you can see I have a couple of highlander battalions painted. I might use elements of the 5th Division as I want to paint some Brunswickers, but it might be better to utilize them as an Allied Brigade.
A nice overview of the army as it now stands.
The British forces.
The Core Light Division, I will keep the Caçadores based in skirmish order, but I have rebased the 1/95th in closed order. I need 4 more figures for each battalion.
The Guards Division.
I decided to substitute a Portuguese Dragoon regiment as the 3rd light dragoon regiment for the Reserve Light Cavalry Brigade. The Portuguese had tiny cavalry regiments, so this unit represents the combined 4th and 10th Portuguese Cavalry Regiments.
The nidus of the Lasalle Core Infantry Division, I suspect that I will look at the Quatre Bras/Waterloo OB before I make my final decisions about the composition of this division.
Two allied brigades are on offer in the peninsular theatre, I will probably paint both, as I can use the Brunswickers in the Hundred Days as well. Here is the plan for the Portuguese Allied Brigade.
I like the Portuguese Front Rank figures, I decided to abandon historical units here and just paint the units, so I would get each of the three coloured Portuguese Regimental flags.

12 June 2010

Twenty Thousand Visitors!!!

I just realised that I have passed the 20,000 visit mark on this blog. My first post was 22 months ago, in August of 2008. I hit 10,000 in December 2009, so I have had 10k visitors in the last 6 months.

I just wanted to point out though that I do other things; here I am on a recent bike trip in Languedoc, cycling is my second favourite pastime and this was a great trip. I must say I do look cheerful.

Here is the one who thinks she must be obeyed, looking very sporty in her orange trousers in Avignon, she had a great trip too!!

Thanks for looking at the blog, it does offer a lot of encouragement to keep painting and wargaming.