30 March 2013

A New Ruleset: Rank & File

As discussed a couple of posts ago, our small gaming group is still searching about for a Napoleonic ruleset. There are 3 of us and we try to game monthly (well maybe that is a bit hopeful) in Montreal. Our gaming time is somewhat limited because I live in Massachusetts, but we all do our best. I believe Iannick and Nicolas are relatively well known to the readers of this blog and sometimes Iannick's brother Gabriel makes a fourth. We have not been completely satisfied with our gaming experiences to date so we decided to start a search for a new set of rules. Our plan is to test 3 new sets, with each of us being responsible for working out one set of rules and being the non playing games master. We have selected 3 rulesets to try Rank & File from Mark Simms, General de Brigade from David Brown and Shako II from Artie Connick. I have collected multiple rulesets over the last 5 years including Black Powder, Piquet, Piquet Field of Battle, Le Feu Sacre, Republic to Empire, Lasalle, Napoleon, Warhammer Waterloo, Shako II, General de Brigade, March Attack, Fast Play Grande Armee and Field of Glory Napoleonics. A lot of rulesets! As noted previously we as a group have played Black Powder and Field of Battle and I have a personal acquaintance with Le Feu Sacre, Lasalle, Republic to Empire, Waterloo and Field of Glory Napoleonics. I am unsure what Iannick or Nicolas played prior to us meeting up.

Well I purchased Rank & File 3 years ago and unfortunately it sort of got lost in the number of new rulesets that came out at the same time. Well a couple of months ago it got dusted off and I had a look. What I saw I liked so I decided to have a close look and selected it as my choice to present to the group. 

Personally I like a system with the simplest possible combat (melee and firing) mechanisms possible. That means 1 dice throw to decide casualty. There are a lot of other things that are important to me, and although R&F does not have them all, it certainly has the above. Here is a summary I sent to my gaming colleagues as an introduction:

  • Written for the horse and musket era, little Napoleonic chrome, no info on national characteristics in book.
  • Stand based: each unit is comprised of 4-9 stands, except artillery.
  • D6 only required
  • Has multiple optional rules to add detail

  • Units in Brigades, with Bde Commander
  • Brigades under Div Commander
  • General orders issued to each Bde at beginning of game
  • Moving ADC's to change orders.
  • Casualty is stand removal but can use markers.
  • Casualty test for attached commanders when stand is lost.

Game Sequence:
  • Sequence is simultaneous except for movement which you dice for each turn.
  • Sequence is Charge,Rally,Initiative Roll (throw d6), one side moves, second side moves, firing, morale, melee, Turn End (check Break point, move leaders, ADC's, reinforcements enter)
  • Movement very simple in inches. Change formation, sideways, backwards, oblique 1/2 movement cost. Change facing 1/4 cost
  • All the usual Napoleonic formations.

Unit Characteristics:
  • 3 levels of Morale Class (option for adding 4th-Elite): Green, Regular or Veteran
  • These units are in a regular, unsteady or routing condition

  • This is the real beauty for me of the rules, as it is done exactly the same for firing and melee and it is one step with no saving throw.
  • So each unit is comprised of a number of bases: Meleeing and firing units count the number of bases in contact or in range and throw that number of D6's. To hit is 4, but is modified by in 1 table for each type of combat. 3 hits you remove a stand and voila....c'est ça.
  • Melee is resolved in one turn, one side retires unsteady or routed.
  • Different value depending on unit class.
  • Sometimes required when charging.
  • Is tested after stand loss from a single simple table using single D6.
  • Rally is based on same table.
  • Failure of test changes condition of unit.

  • Both specialist firing and movement rules and the ability to screen firing from enemy
  • Is decided by reaching a break point. Calculated by 2 times the number of units and 1 times the number of artillery bases
The three weakness I felt were:
  • It has a somewhat weak command and control.
  • Our units are on the small side in respect to infantry and cavalry (ours being 4 and 6 stands) but being on the large side for artillery (ours being 3 and 4 stands).
  • The ruleset has skirmishers as battalions rather then companies.
I decided though that this was OK, I may be wrong but I believe it simpler to add rather then subtract. Before I started checking the rules I got some clarifications from the rules writer Mark Simms on the Crusader Publishing Forum. There is not a whole lot of activity there but Mark appears to check the forum daily and has been very helpful in clarifying some of the rules (really not much help needed) but also offered some solutions to some of my concerns listed above.

Once educated, I have started to test the rules with a couple of units per side, really they are quite nice and easy to play. I have now almost completed a playtest of the rules using a brigade aside. I had planned to put the play test in this post but it is quite long already, so I will post it in a couple of days. I have found that my playtests of rulesets have been the most read posts on my blog and I really like to take my time with them.

So stay tuned.


27 March 2013

The Prussians

As an aside from painting and learning a new ruleset, I thought I would try to learn a little more about the Prussians. I have also been going through the lead pile and the biscuit tin that holds the Prussians is particularly heavy. I have already painted 11 battalions and am on my 12th of infantry, 11 squadrons of cavalry and 6 artillery stands as well as lots of command pieces. So well on my way.

I am particularly interested in the 1815 period, but really it is easy to extend my units back to the 1813 period, just a bit of a change in the brigade structure. I like to paint coherent historical units, and decided to try do this at the brigade level (divisional) rather the corps level. I already had some units painted from my Walmoden project, so I that somewhat effected my subsequent choices.

I like a variety of figures and the brigades I have selected support this. When looking at the 1815 OB, the units that stick out are the black coated IR25, the grey reserve coated IR 23 and the British uniformed IR 21. I could have also gone with the Russian uniformed IR30/31, as well as the white coated IR28/29, but as usual I have to control myself. I am also quite interested in the Battle for Placenoit, so that affected my choice. Having had a careful study of what I have done, I decided to eventually plan of three brigades, that is 27 infantry battalions so is still quite a lot of work....... a long term project shall we say. I did feel better though with a clear vision of the future!

So here is the clear vision:

The highlighted units are done, still lots to do, but it fits with what I have on hand, I believe this will exhaust the lead pile with the only extra figures another unit of Lutzow's Freicorp (2/IR25). I am getting all done with plastics I like the Perry plastics, although I will probably never paint another Victrix figure again. But even with the Perry's I am snapping off bayonets, I am rough with the figures, and they are always getting loaded on planes or cars for trips. The only bit to which I may have some resistance, is the 6 battalions of Silesian Landwehr, may get bored there, who knows maybe I will substitute in some of those sky blue faced Berg.

So that was the easy part, next up was how to organize the command structure, clearly a Prussian brigade is similar to a division in other armies. That is not to difficult as most of my games feature 1-2 divisions aside, but the number of sub commanders to assign to each brigade (division) gave me some pause for thought. Using a sub commander for each 3 regiments from a gaming perspective seemed a little excessive; 3 battalions is a small subcommand, even if I attach a battery of artillery or a couple of squadrons of horse.

What to do, what to do? Well the Miniatures Page is always an interesting adventure so I said why not post my enquiry there. You really can get some excellent advice there, but at the same time you really have to be ready for those who really want to see their knowledge (biases) in print. I really got quite a lot of responses and two posters were really quite helpful. Of course, Stephen Summerfield is all things Prussian (I have all his books) and I found Michael Collins very helpful. Michael has his own ruleset called Grand Manoevre, look at his website very impressive.

Anyway the message string was quite interesting and I got the information I wanted in order to make a decision, I also learned quite a lot as well. Both the 1813 and 1815 Prussian brigades were mixed arms tactical units which really were made up on an ad hoc basis as needed for the tactical situation.

So for wargaming purposes, I felt I would go with the nine battalion infantry brigade with an attached artillery battery and 2-3 cavalry squadrons. I really liked the following tactical formation that I found with the Fusilers out front with Jaegers with the musketeers in a second line and the Landwehr regiment in reserve in a third line.  

I have over drawn the red lines, looks impressive does it not. Usually from what I understand the foot artillery would be in the front line with horse artillery and cavalry in the rear. I plan to use 2 sub-commanders with the Brigade Commander. Probably with the reserve and horse under the direct command of the Brigadier.

I have my Prussians stored away, otherwise I would have put out a brigade on the table and made some photographs, I am looking forward to seeing them on the table. Well back to learning a new set of rules.


22 March 2013

More Brunswickers and some Austrians

Well here is my 15th and final submission to the Painting Challenge. These figures just push me over my personal goal of 1700 pts and I have to say that I am done with the brush for a bit. Rather then finishing with the 18 figures I need for my Romano-British force or the 16 figures left in the Hobbit box set I decided to finish off some Napoleonics.

Here are the final 2 units needed for the Brunswick Light Brigade at Waterloo. The 2nd Light have yellow facings and the 1st have tan facings. They join the 3rd with orange facings as well as the Avant Garde and the Lieb battalion in the Light Brigade. All I have to do now to finish off the Brunswick Corps are the 3 Line battalions, they will be next up as I they really have great looking flags, which were not available for the light troops. I just received some amazing flags from Flagdude. so maybe I will be unable to rest the brush for too long.

The final two figures to get over the 1700 mark are 2 Austrian commanders. A couple of years ago I started an Austrian unit, I am not sure if I will ever finish it, but I have 2 battalions of line, 1 battalion of grenzers and 4 companies of jaegers done as well as some artillery and a regiment of cavalry. A nice brigade sized force, but no brigade commander. So here we have an Austrian Major General with his ADC. These are Front Rank figures and are just very nice to paint. As you could see from the close up of the face I could have easily painted some eyes, which I have not been keen to do, but thankfully I have still resisted.

Well where to next? Well it is time to start playing some games. We are having another weekend in Montreal in about a month time. We have been struggling a bit looking for a Napoleonic ruleset. We have had several games of Black Powder, 2 games of Piquet Field of Battle, and 1 game of Curt's Food for Powder. We like them all, but we are still looking (Curt's ruleset is not completely developed yet, so we will be trying it again). We did a poll of our rulesets and have decided to test a new ruleset on each of our next 3 outings with one of us acting as a games master and being responsible for the scenario and presenting the rules to the others. I am up first and I am hoping to do my next posts on the process and then a report on the actual game.

In respect to painting, I have pretty well accomplished what I set out to do with SAGA (painted three 6 point war bands) and Dux Britaniarum (only 18 figures left to go for two starter forces). I also have promised to do an ancients force to tackle Iannick's Canaanites. A lot to think about there, but where most of them will be half naked, I am hoping to be able to get them out quickly.

So really I am keen to get back to filling in the gaps in my Napoleonic armies. It seems I have really lost control of myself here, I have a lot of soldiers with no where to put them. The only new force I am planning and I am going to stop there is the 2nd Netherland's Division at Waterloo. Otherwise I have started to look at filling the holes, ie. adding units up to bring things up the armies to coherent division strength. Anyway that is the plan!

Finally I have to say that I am amazed at the number of page views I have had for my last post, the army of the Taifa of Seville. In eight days I have had over 4600 page views of this post alone! This is a 1000 more page views then any other post I have done in the last 5 years. I am a little puzzled, but thanks for looking.


14 March 2013

A SAGA Warband from the Emirate of Seville

Here is my penultimate submission (the 14th) to the Painting Challenge, and I am happy it is almost over. Well maybe not as happy as Curt is.

Well here is the Army of the Taifa of Seville, a SAGA warband to repel Nico's Frankish infidels under Raymond of Toulouse whether in Al-Andalus or County of Tripoli. Aside from the Warlord, Abbad al-Isbili  who is mace armed, the Soldiers of God are all armed with javelins. This should be fun as in SAGA this means they can move and fire in one activation. I will most likely be using the Saracen Battleboard from the Studio Tomahawk forum. I am still trying to get Chessex Dice to reply to my emails about some nice custom dice.

The figures are from Musketeer Miniatures and Artisan Design. They are well sculpted, but horribly cast. The Artisan Design figures had the worst mold lines I have come across. Their Berber Javelinmen (they all look like one-eyed mullahs, have a look) and the Berber Light Cavalry horses were particularly bad. Not withstanding this as a group, I am quite happy with them and am pleased to have them off the painting table. 

All the banners are from Little Big Man Studios and I have to say they are really very nice.

The 5-point Warband is comprised of a Warlord, 1 unit of Syrian Heavy Cavalry Hearthguards, 1 unit of Armoured Andalusian Foot Hearthguards, 1 unit of Berber Blackguard Warriors, 1 unit of Berber Jinete Warriors, and 1 unit of Berber Javelinmen Levy. 

Abbad I
Syrian Heavy Cavalry

Andalusian Armoured Infantry

Berber Jinetes

Berber Black Guard

Berber Javelinmen

The one-eyed mullahs!
The Andalusian Emirs who ruled the various taifa relied heavily on mercenaries, mostly from North Africa, but also Christian soldiers from Europe. We will definitely see my Flemish mercenaries in the employ of the Emirate of Sevilla but also maybe some Vikings. 

Well one more submission to go, definitely some Napoleonics this time.