Sunday, August 2, 2015

Battle of Zama, 202 BC - Historicon AAR

Old friends from the Piquet circle Jeff Grein and Freddie Avner made the flight out from the left coast to Historicon this year. Jeff brought his 15 mm Republican Roman and Carthagenian armies, and put on two versions of the final clash of the 2nd Punic War, the Battle of Zama. 


Friday night Jeff ran Zama using miniatures with the Commands and Colors Ancients rules.  I understand it played quickly and enjoyably - enough so that they played it out a second time, switching sides. I think I recall hearing that Andy C. was on the winning side for both games!  Picture courtesy of Tim C. from the UK. 


Saturday afternoon Jeff ran Zama again, this time with Brent Oman's "Pulse of Battle" rules; in the center of the four Roman players are Tim's son Noah and Andy's son Sam. The next several pictures courtesy of Tim C from the US.


For an era where the missile fire is limited in both range and effect, I thought the lines started fairly far apart, but Jeff wanted to build some drama, as well as help the players absorb the mechanics of Pulse of Battle. Fair enough! My contribution to the game was limited to the groundcloth, dice, rules, markers, and some extra summary sheets. 


Noah and Sam push their Legions forward!


Elephants Stomp Ahead!!! The ponderous pachyderms did pretty well on the day = much better than in the actual battle.


Q.    What's the squishy pink stuff between the Elephant's toe's?
A.    Legio XIV!



A few pictures of my own, using the crummy camera in my i-phone3.
Jeff tries to remember the rule for PoB instead of CCA, as UK Tim gives his usual suspect advice to the hapless players.  The Roman Cavalry greatly outstripped their infantry in the initial; phase of the battle. 


I watched the battle play out and chatted with friends, with my eye anxiously on the clock. I was supposed to run my own Italian Wars game at 7 PM, at which point Jeff's game would be over. 
 I understand that Zama ended almost exactly on time at 7 PM itself. The fighting came down to the wire, but when it was all over, the Romans turned an Army Morale Card when they were out of Morale points, and failed their roll - marginal victory to Hannibal's men. Scipio will have to return to Rome to try again another time. Carthago non delenda est. Ave Jeff, for a great game, and for bringing the troops all the way from California!

    Ken B. and I had planned on running 2 Chariot games using my Egyptians and his Canaanites, and Pulse of Battle and/or Archon, 2nd edition. Unfortunately, Ken decided to cancel both games when he realized that his heart just wasn't in it. That made my Friday less crazy for sure (I was scheduled to run/help with three games, including the Chariot one that night), but I would have been perfectly fine with the Saturday AM game. Ah well, no point in spending time doing hobby stuff you if aren't enjoying it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Battle of Ligny - June 16 1815: The Scenario

Here is the scenario for Ligny as we used it; it was shamelessly stolen adapted from that by my e-freind, Michael (aka Wargamer Rabbit).   The main changes were to simplify the map, eliminate all but Jeanin's Division of Lobau's Corps (as it doesn't appear to me that the rest of the 6th Corps fought at Ligny), and to move most of the Prussian troops onto he actual table at the start of the game... and of course adapt it to the Field of Battle rules.

Having played it twice now, I'd suggest the following changes:

1) Change The Ligny to a Class III stream, with normal FoB rules. This is quite bad enough!
2) Downgrade the Prussian Infantry to be DD 6, CD 10 for all "Line"/"Reserve" regiments", and DD4   CD8 for all Landwehr regiments.
3) "His presence on the battlefield is worth 40,00 Men!"  Add an extra 12 Morale points to the French total as otherwise determined  by the normal Field of Battle rules. They are going to need them! Should Napoleon be lost, well the game is effectively lost anyway, but so are the bonus Morale Points.

The Battle of Ligny is much less well known (to English speakers, at least) than Waterloo or Quatre Bras. Playing the games gave me a greatly improved understanding of the battle, as well as an appreciation for how well the French fought this day in order to inflict a significant (but not decisive) defeat upon the Prussians. One can only imagine what might have happened had all of  D'Erlon's Corps arrived as expected, and had he notified Napoleon properly of his approach to the area!

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                       


The Battle of Ligny: June 16, 1815
Scales: 1200 men/Infantry Unit,   800 men per cavalry Unit,     12 - 16 guns per Artillery Unit 
 1" = 50 yards.        Rules: Field of Battle, 2nd Edition, by Brent Oman (Piquet, Inc).


Terrain notes: .
Built Up Areas (BUA’s) represent the gardens, low walls, outhouses, narrow lanes etc. of these villages. Infantry positioned in the green zone BUA’s are treated as though in light woods (Class II) for visibility, movement and combat modifiers. The actual building placed within the BUA are still class II or III positions.
Buildings are class II except for one. En-Haut farm located in Ligny, shown on map with a Cross, is class III. En-Haut is representative of several buildings in Ligny, which were solid strong points.
Ligny stream has special crossing rules. It counts as Class II Terrian, with an additional movement cost of 2” for infantry (4” for cavalry), and causes any unit crossing the stream to become Out of Command until rallied, and prevents charge movement (engaging in Melee on a won Even roll, or a melee card, unless already in contact). Bridges nullify the above special movement rules. Artillery must remain limbered on MOVE they cross the stream, is out of Command and costs 2” of movement.
Fords and other streams count as class II streams without the additional special rules

Weather:
Possible rainfall from the turning of the 5th French MOVE card onwards. Roll a D6; on a score of "6", a rainstorm (with lighting) occurs. Add one to the D6 roll for each MOVE card turned by either side  thereafter until the rain event occurs. The Rain lasts for that MOVE card and the following MOVE card (of either side) , and ends when the 2nd MOVE card (of either side) is turned following the one that triggered the downpour. During the Rainfall artillery is DOWN 1 additional for fire, and Infantry is DOWN 2 for fire combat.

Deployment Map



Special scenario rules:
Prussians must hold the villages: The Prussian army must attempt to contest three (3) of the five (5) following villages. Contesting means occupying one or more buildings in each village. The five (5) villages are; Ligny, St. Amand, St. Armand la Haye, Wagnelee, and the group of Tongrinelle, Baignee and Balatre together. Failure to contest at least three (above list) causes Prussians to lose D8 Morale Points when each Prussian MOVE card is turned until the requirement is fulfilled again.
French Village Tactics: While positioned in the outlined BUA’s (green zones), a French infantry unit is UP 1 for both morale and melee combat while in the BUA zone itself. This French bonus is not applied to units in buildings (normal rules apply).
Franco-Prussian hatred: Any melee combat in the BUA zone, or buildings in the BUA, automatically gives the losing (retiring) side additional UI loss. This additional UI loss does not cost a Morale Point, nor count towards causing a Routed/Destroyed result.

Reinforcements:
French have reinforcements marching to the battle.
Jeanin's Division of Lobau’s  6th Corps will arrive starting with the First French MOVE Card. 6:00 pm hour turn. They march onto the table in March columns along and within 12” of the Fleurus road at the Southern table edge. 
D’Erlon’s 1st Corps will be “seen” starting with the Third French MOVE card. Once seen, the Prussian commander may invoke a special “dark masses” condition at the start of the 3rd, 4th OR 5th French MOVE Card. From them until the next French MOVE card, the Imperial Guard and Milhaud's Cavalry Division may not cross the far side of the Ligny stream, or if they have crossed, may not advance further until the next French MOVE card is turned.
D’Erlon’s detached 4th Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division will actually enter the table at the start of the 5th French MOVE card. They enter Deployed along the Northern 3 feet of the far Western table edge opposite Wagnelee, etc.
The Prussian Cavalry of the 2nd corps starts just off the table as shown, and may enter the playing area adjacent on any Prussian MOVE card.

The game ends after the 7th French MOVE card is played and acted upon (Move One Command Cards are ignored when counting MOVE cards for any reason). Darkness has fallen, ending the fighting.

Victory conditions:
French Crushing victory: The Prussian army is driven from all the named villages and has failed Army Morale by nightfall. 
French Minor victory: French have control of four named villages and/or the Prussian Army has Failed Army Morale.  (Historical result)
Hung Battle (draw for today): Prussian Army is still contesting two or more named villages. Neither side has failed Army Morale. Battle will either continue next day or Blucher and Wellington make other plans. 
Prussian Minor victory: Be contesting all the named villages at nightfall, and/or French fail Army Morale. 
Prussian Major victory: Cause the French to Fail Army Morale and have Prussian infantry units within 12” of the exit road to Fleurus. Napoleon soon signs his second abdication. The Hundred Days is over.


L'Armée du Nord (66,000 men, 232 guns + late arrivals from D'Erlon)  
Emperor Napoleon I LD
Sequence Deck: Morale Points:  


Imperial Guard, Marshal Mortier (GD Drout acting cmd) LD:

Old Guard Grenadier Division  GD Friant LD
2 Old Guard Grenadiers a Pied DD10, CD 12+1
1 Middle Guard Grenadiers DD10, CD 12

Old Guard Chasseur Division GD Morand LD
2 Old Guard Chasseurs a Pied DD10 CD12+1
1 Middle Guard Chasseurs DD10, CD 12
1 Marines/Genie of the Guard (2 stands, 2 UI) DD10, CD 12

Young Guard  Division GD Duhesme LD
2 Voltigeurs DD 8, CD12
2 Tirailleurs DD8, CD12
1 6# Marine Foot Artillery DD6, CD 12

Cavalry Division, GD Guyot LD
1 Grenadiers a Cheval DD 10, CD 12+1
1 Empress Dragoons DD 10, CD 12+1
1 Gendarmes d' Elite (2 stands, 2 UI) DD 10, CD 12+1

Guard Artillery, GD St. Maurice LD 
2 Old Guard 12# Foot Batteries DD10, CD 12+2
1 Old Guard 6# Battery DD10, CD 12+2
1 Old Guard 6# Horse Battery DD10, CD 12+2


1st Corps, D'Erlon (Corps HQ absent)

4th Division, GD Drutte LD
3 French Line DD 6, CD 10
1 6# Foot Battery DD 6, CD 12

2nd Brigade, 1st Light Cavalry Division GD Jacquinot LD
1 French Chevau-Leger Lanciers DD 6, CD 10


II Corps Commander: GD Reille (at Quatre Bras, except:)

7th Infantry Division, GD Girard LD
2 French Legere DD 6, CD 12
2 French Line DD 6, CD10
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12


3rd Corps, GD Vandamme LD

8th Division  GD Lefol LD
1 French Legere DD 6, CD 12
3 French Line DD 6, CD 10
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12

10th Division Habert LD
3 French Line DD 6, CD 10
1 Foreign Regt (Swiss) DD 8, CD 12
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12

11th Division Bertheneze LD
4 French Line DD6, CD10
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12

3rd Cavalry Division GD Domon LD
1 French Chasseur a Cheval DD 6, CD 10


IV Corps,  GD Gerard LD

12th Infantry Division, GD Pecheux  LD
1 French Legere DD 6, CD12
3 French Line DD 6, CD 10
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12

13th Infantry Division, GD Vichery LD
4 French Line DD 6, CD 10
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12

14th Infantry Division, GD Hulot LD
2 French Legere DD 6, CD 12
2 French Line DD 6, CD 10
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12

6th Cavalry Division, GD Maurin LD LD
1 French Dragoon DD 6, CD 12
1 French Chasseur a Cheval DD 6, CD 10



VI Corps,  GD Compte Lobau  absent except:

20th Infantry Division, GD Jeanin  LD
1 French Legere DD 6, CD12
2 French Line DD 6, CD 10
1 6# Foot Artillery DD 6, CD 12


Cavalry Reserve,  Marshal Grouchy LD

1st Reserve Cavalry Corp,  GD Pajol LD
(4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions)
1 French Hussar DD 8, CD 10
1 Chevau-Leger Lancier DD 6, CD 10
1 Chasseur a Cheval DD 6, CD 10
1 6# Horse Artillery Battery DD 8, CD 12+1

2nd Reserve Cavalry Corps, GD Exelmans LD
(9th and 10th cavalry Divisions)
3 French Dragoons DD6, CD 12
1 6# Horse Battery DD 8, CD 12+1

4th Cavalry Reserve Corps, GD Milhaud LD
(13th and 14th Cavalry Divisions)
4 French Cuirassier DD 8, CD 12+1
1 6# Horse Battery DD 8, CD 12+1


French Totals:
26 French Line Infantry
7 French Legere Infantry
1 Foreign (Swiss) Infantry
4 Old Guard Infantry
2 Middle Guard Infantry
4 Young Guard Infantry
1/2 Marines/Genie of the Guard
3 Chasseurs a Cheval
1 Hussar
2 Chevau-Leger Lanciers
4 Dragoons
4 Cuirassiers
1 Grenadiers a Cheval
1 Empress Dragoons
1/2 Gendarmes d" Elite
9 Line 6# Foot Artillery
1 Marine 6# Foot Artillery
3 Line 6# Horse Artillery
2 Guard 12# Foot Artillery
1 Guard 6# Foot Artillery
1 Guard 6# Horse Artillery

TOTAL:  44.5 Infantry, 16.5 Cavalry, 17 Artillery = 78 Units



Prussian Army (84,000 men, 216 Guns),
Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher LD
Sequence Deck:            Army Morale:


I Korps, Lieutenant-General von Ziethen LD

1st Brigade, Major-General von Steinmetz LD
4 Prussian Line (12 ex Reserve,24 ex Reserve) DD6, CD 10
2 Prussian (Westphalian) Landwehr DD4, CD 8
1 Silesian Shutzen DD 8, CD 12
1 6# Foot battery DD 6, CD 12

2nd Brigade, Major-General Pirch II[a] LD
2 Prussian Line (6th) DD6, CD 12
2 Prussian Line (28, ex ) DD 6, CD
2 Prussian Landwehr (Westphalian) DD 4, CD 8
1 Prussian Grenadier DD8, CD 12

3rd Brigade, Major-General Jagow LD
2 Prussian Line (7th ) DD 6, CD 12
2 Prussian Line (29th, ex ) DD6, CD 10
2 Prussian Landwehr (Westphalian) DD4, CD 8
1 6# Foot battery DD 6, CD 12

4th Brigade Major-General Henckel von Donnersmarck LD
4 Prussian Line (13,19 both ex-Reserve) DD 6, CD 10
2 Prussian Landwehr (Westphalian) DD4, CD 8

Reserve Cavalry, Lieutenant-General von Röder LD
2 Prussian Dragoon DD6, CD 12
1 Prussian Hussar DD8, CD 10
1 Kurmark Landwehr cavalry DD 4, CD 10

Reserve artillery, von Lehmann LD
12# Foot Battery DD 6, CD 12+1
1 6# Foot battery DD6, CD 12
1 6# Horse Artillery Battery DD 6, CD 12

II Korps, commander: Lieutenant-General von Pirch II LD

5th Brigade, Major-General von Tippelskirch LD
2 Prussian Line (2nd ) DD6, CD 12
2 Prussian Line (25th ex ) DD 6, CD 12
2 Prussian Landwehr (Westphalian) DD 4, CD 8
1 Prussian Jager DD 8, CD 12
1 6# Foot battery DD 6, CD 12

6th Brigade, Major-General von Krafft LD
2 Prussian Line (9th) DD 6, CD 12
2 Prussian Line (26th ex ) DD 6, CD 10
2 Prussian Landwehr (Elbe) DD 4, CD 8
1 Prussian Jager DD 8, CD 12
7th Brigade, Major-General von Brause LD
4 Prussian Line (14th, 22nd both ex Reserve) DD 6, CD 10
2 Prussian Landwehr (Elbe) DD 4, CD 8
1 6# Foot battery DD 6, CD 12

8th Brigade, Major-General Bose LD
4 Prussian Line (21, 23 both ex-Reserve) DD 6, CD 10
2 Prussian Landwehr (Elbe) DD 4, CD 8
Reserve Cavalry Major-General of Cavalry, von Wahlen-Jürgass LD
1 Dragoon DD 6, CD 12
1 Hussar DD 8, CD 10
2 Landwehr Cavalry DD 4, CD 10

Reserve artillery, von Röhl LD
1 12# Foot Battery DD 6, CD 12+1
1 6# Foot battery DD 6, CD 12
1 6# Horse Battery DD 6, CD 12

III Korps, Lieutenant-General von Thielmann LD

9th Brigade, von Borcke LD
2 Prussian Line (8th) DD 6, CD 12
2 Prussian Line (30th ex- ) DD 6, CD 10
2 Prussian Landwehr (Kurmark) DD 4, CD 10
1 6# Foot battery DD 6, CD 12

10th Brigade, von Kämpffen LD
2 Prussian Line (27th ex ) DD 6, CD 10
2 Prussian Landwehr (Westphalian) DD 4, CD 8

11th Brigade, von Luck LD
4 Prussian Landwehr (Kurmark) DD 4, CD 10
1 6# Foot battery

12th Brigade, von Stülpnagel LD
2 Prussian Line (31st ex ) DD 6, CD 10
3 Prussian Landwehr (Kurmark) DD 4, CD 10

Reserve Cavalry Major-General von Hobe LD
1 Prussian Dragoon DD 6, CD12
2 Prussian Hussar DD 8, CD 10
1 Prussian Uhlan DD 6, CD 10
2 Landwehr cavalry DD 4, CD 10

Korps Artillery Reserve, Mohnhaupt LD
1 12# Battery DD 6, Cd 12+1
1 Prussian Horse Artillery battery DD 6, CD 12


Prussian Totals:
36 Line
24 Landwehr
1 Schutzen
1 Jager
1 Grenadier
4 Dragoon
4 Hussar
1 Uhlan
4 Landwehr Cavalry
8 6# Foot Artillery
3 12# Foot Artillery
3 6# Horse Artillery

TOTALS:  63 Infantry, 13 Cavalry, 14 Artillery = 90 units


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Battle of Ligny, 1815 at Historicon

I ran the Ligny scenario (to be posted soon) twice at Historicon, once at 7 PM on Thursday evening, and again at 9 AM Friday. It was a good thing that I started it as late as I did, and that the large, "L" shaped table (essentially, two 6 x 10 foot tables side by side and overlapping 6 feet on the sides)  was available early, as it took me nearly 6 hours to set up all the troops and terrain. The Prussian troop mix in particular was such that it would have been difficult for anyone to assist with setting them up, although I did have some help doing the much more straightforward Frenchmen! In any event, I was very happy with the final appearance of the table.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find my camera, and although I was sure that I had packed it, was forced to conclude that somehow it had been left behind at the last moment. Therefore, I took NO pictures at Historicon this year (I had my cell phone camera, but the pictures from that are so awful for this kind of thing that it isn';t worth taking them). That's ;part of why this post isn't up until well after the fact. The photos here are courtesy of Tim's Blog, Victor's blog, and the indispensable Czar Barry. Thanks, guys! Of course, when I got home, I discovered that I had the camera with me all along - just buried at the bottom of my bad, where I had in fact placed it first thing to be SURE I wouldn't forget it. Duh!!!!


Overview of the Table nearing completion of the setup Thursday night (and of Peter fretting over some issue with the OOB). From left to right, the villages along the heavily overgrown Ligny stream  are:   Wagnelee, St Armand la Haye, St Armand, Ligny (near the junction of the two tables), and far off are Tongrinelle, Baignee, and finally Balatre. 


This shot shows the view from the opposite direction, once again with Ligny in the center, and now with St Armand, etc in the distance.


The Thursday night game started with the Prussians wining the impetus roll by 6, and deciding to give the first run to the French, fearing that they'd waste good cards (especially the Infantry Firepower card)  while the French were too far away for them to use them. As is often the case when one makes this bet, the French then proceeded to turn almost a perfect run of Cards - Artillery Firepower, Move, Infantry Firepower, Artillery Firepower, Move, Melee. Above Jim Mauro, assisted by Dr Tim, attacks Ligny. 


The MOVE cards allow the French Reserves to enter as well... Old Guard and the Cuirassiers!  The Prussians got well and truly pounded by this superb card sequence, and were nearly ejected from Wagnelee, St Arman la Haye, and St Armand, and were pushed back in Ligny. We had a full slate of 12 players, but almost half were new to the Field of Battle rules. If I had thought about it, I would have made sure that veteran players were opposite newbies wherever possible so that they could assist them at learning the rules. Naturally, the Prussian players started to loose heart after the string of French successes, despite the fact that they had tons of un-engaged troops in reserve, and their Morale Point reserve was huge. Of course, the thing about a big run of cards in Field of Battle is that an equally long run of cards is going to come to the other side, so as long as you haven't been crushed yet, you'll have your turn. That is of course what happened, and on their run of cards, the Prussians hammered the French, and they lost virtually all of their gains in the villages... and a huge amount of Morale points as a result. The French forces were rather thin opposite the Wagnlee - St Armand leg of the Ligny, and when the next French run of cards proved less than spectacular, the Prussians used their cards to counterattack and severely maul their opposing numbers. Despite the fact that it was only about 10PM, a number of the players were tired and drifted off, so we ended the game then. The French were unable to make any further headway around the villages, and were down about 35 Morale points to the Prussians. Had play continued, a very convincing French defeat was virtually assured!


We used the time to reset most of the troops for the Thursday AM game, and finished the process starting about 8 AM that day.  Here's a shot of the French Right , with Ligny in the background.


Soldier's eye view of St Armand La Haye, with the Bussy windmill in the background, as the French prepare to attack.


Terry's Prussian brigade prepares to advance from its reserve position to threaten the weak French flank near Wagnelee. 


The initial French assault on Ligny was repulsed with heavy losses, but once again they achieved initial major successes at Wagnlee, St Armand La Haye, and St. Armand.



La Garde arrives, along with the Cuirassier Divisions. The French have a decided advantage in the numbers and quality of their cavalry, but the nature of the battlefield makes it very difficult to put it to use! The Prussians, however, have far more infantry, and no lack of places for them to hole up!


The Imperial Guard Artillery is moving up to a position so that they can shell either Ligny and/or St Armand. 


Tim, a renowned beau-sabre, looks for the cards to get his Prussian cavalry across the steep banked Ligny stream to threaten the battered French near Ligny itself.  For the Thursday AM game, we had only 8 players so we left off the other leg of the table. Almost all the players for this game were FoB veterans, so things went far more smoothly. The fighting in and around the villages was vicious!


And they do eventually come! Here Tim's Dragoons, Hussars, and Landwehr cavalry have forded the treacherous Ligny stream  forcing Phil's French infantry to form square. Phil had rolled several "1's" on his Move cards, and thus the French assault on Ligny went nowhere fast.


Overview looking towards St Armand. The Young Guard is preparing to assault St. Armand, the Guard cavalry is heading up the road to counterbalance times troopers, and Sam is sending his Cuirassier Divisions to the French Left to intimidate Terry's Prussians, who have recaptured Wagnelee and St Armand La Haye, and have boldly advanced across the Ligny, threatening to mop up what remained of the French attackers there.


Having re-taken the lost ground in the villages, the Prussians are sending heavy reinforcements to support St Armand, which is threatened by the Young Guard. Poor Bill (grey sleeve) needed a little professional advise about the sudden development of some nasty GI symptoms he was experiencing, but he boldly soldiered on (and felt progressively better as the game progressed). The Prussian Artillery is being used very effectively to pound the exposed French.


Once again the French Morale pool was being rapidly exhausted, while the Prussians maintained and expanded their starting lead in that critical area. A major Prussian victory seemed likely in the offing once again when we had to halt play to set up for the Die Fighting 2 game that followed. Overall, I found myself impressed that historically, the French managed to pull off a fairly convincing victory over Blucher's Prussians, given the strength of their position, and their decided advantage in numbers. I'll have some thoughts about that when I present the scenario itself.