Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hostile Realms: Orcs Vs. Elves (Historicon Part 3)

Dave M. ran this game at Historicon on Thursday AM, pitting Orcs vs. Elves using Eric's 15mm Fantasy armies and my own Hostile Realms rules (from Piquet, Inc). I played in the first session, Barry in the second.  I'm afraid I'm not terribly good at taking pics of 15mm figures; I'll share some excellent ones by Gabriel at the end!

So if you're Elves on the defensive, what could be better than to set up defending some woods?  (Elves get special bonuses in Woods in HR). 

The Elves stationed a powerful wing of Cavalry and Chariots on their left flank, lead by a sorceress mounted on a Unicorn!

This is early on in the game; An Orc Heroic Moment card was used to throw a butt ugly but very tough Orcish champion into the line of Elves in this woods; how he planned on shrugging off the inevitable hail of Elvish arrows I have no idea, but he actually did survive the charge, helped by his Expert Constitution (4 hits to wound instead of the usual three)!

The Champion was repulsed  in Melee with one wound, but he had drawn the fire of the Elves... if the Orcs could charge before the Elves could "Reload", it could get ugly... and I'm not just talking about Orcish looks!

My own command consisted of some incompetent slave archers, a nearly useful stone thrower engine, and a pretty good wizard. I got a favorable card draw, and against my better judgement, tried the Level II spell, "Call the Storm"; if successful, this spell would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the Elves' missile weapons, which would all but spell their doom. When I let the spell loose, I rolled a "1".  Flarp! A Casting catastrophe ensued, and my Wizard became catatonic, and the rest of my boys went Out of Command for the rest of the game; that was pretty much it for me aside from taking casualties! I *knew* I should have stuck with a nice, safe, "Fireball" spell! Wouldda singed the ears right off them tree lovers!

As it turned out, the attack of the Orc infantry then stalled for a while, and that allowed the Elves to pour fire into them when they got the precious reload cards. 

However, sooner or later the butcher's bill must be paid; Regenerating Trolls, tough Ogres, etc are bolstering the attack of the ordinary (but still tough in melee) Orc hordes.

The Orcs had terrible dice in melee, and only managed to rout a single unit of Elves. Phooey!

The wounded Orc Champion leads yet another charge on the woods.

Some Orc warbands threaten the flank of the Elvish mounted troops!

Curses! Foiled again- the Orcish attack is forced back!

On the flank, a timely Elvish MOVE and maneuver rescues most of their Cavalry from danger. Shortly thereafter, the Orcs ran out of Morale Points and failed their Army Morale check, withdrawing back to the wildlands to lick their wounds... and plot for revenge!

As my character was in a Persistent Catatonic State for most of the battle, I had plenty of time to talk with Greg S. about Hostile Realms and its use for Historical battles from Ancient times through the Renaissance. Greg is a great guy, and is now allegedly planning on running Malplaquet at Historicon 2013, using 6mm figures and either Piquet: Cartouche 2nd edition, or Field of Battle. 

After the poor showing by the Orcs, which took barely an hour, Dave set it up again, and a fresh set of players had at it; Barry has a short report of that game (and better pictures) on his blog at:

Gabriel was one of the Orc players in that second game; to show you that my pictures don't do Eric's 15mm figures justice, here are some of his closeups from his blog at:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

1st Polotsk, 1812 (Historicon part 2)

  Our Thursday evening game at Historicon was "Will the Bavarians get Creamed?": the 1st Battle of Poltosk, between Marshal Oudinot II Corps and future Marshal  St. Cyr VI (Bavarian) Corps, and Russian General-Lieutenant Count Wittgenstein's 1st Corps. Oudinot troops, who were advancing on the road to St. Petersburg, had become somewhat carelessly dispersed, divided by a river passable only at a single bridge at Polotsk. Wiuttgenstein resolved to try to give them a bloody nose without risking a decisive defeat that might leave the route to Russia's 2nd capitol unguarded. The rules used were Field of Battle, 2nd edition by Brent Oman, available from Piquet, Inc. The scenario we used can be found here.

Cast of Characters/Players (to my best recollection)

Zach as Legrand and Castex
Gabriel as Wrede and Courbineau
Michelle as Deroi and Doumerc

Hugh (Zach's Dad) as Koulnief and Berg
Tim as Sazonov and Jachwill
Jeff as Karkhofski and Prince Repnin

Overview of the battlefield, looking at the Spas convent from the North. Russians to the left of the picture, French and Bavarians to the right.

and the view from the South; Deroi's 2nd Bavarian Division is just out of the picture to the left, while Wrede's Division holds the Convent and surrounding terrain.

And here it is (I only have so many Bavarians, so Badeners and Wurttemburgers were pressed into service).

The Cossack and Hussars of the Russian Advanced Guard under Koulnieff.

Legrand's French Infantry Division.

View from the French rear; the Heavy cavalry Division cannot move on the first MOVE card. 

Hugh's Advanced Guard pressed son Zach's  French infantry Division from early on.

Russian Jagers firing in successive lines inflicted heavy losses on the opposing French Legere. 

View from the Russian left; I love the Russian standards! They packed a LOT of artillery in this scenario.

Heavy action on the Russian right flank. 

Deroi's Division is using its firepower to push back the Russian Cuirassiers stationed on their left flank.

View from behind the French/Bavarian center - note the large Bavarian/French battery on the upper right.

The pond made attacking the battery difficult, and the hill allowed overhead fire. However, the Russian assault  has cleared the walls of the convent.

Whilst leading his men, General Legrand is struck by a Russian cannon-ball; his with their command structure disrupted, the division falls into confusion just as the Russians close (Zach rolled a "1" on a D20!)

Russian Grenadiers press the assault on the Spas convent.

Not only are all of Legrand's troops now Out of Command, many have already taken heavy losses from Russian artillery and musketry. 

The Russian attack on the center starts to develop as well; note French routers at the bottom of the picture!

On the opposite flank, however, Deroi's "Bavarians" are prevailing!

The Russian pressure on the French center becomes very intense, as one of the French Chasseur regiments turns to the flank to counter some Cossacks who have infiltrated the woods on the flank.

The Russians now have sole possession of the Convent!

Cossacks on the Flank!!!

Mangled and routed French Infantry!!!

Le Maneuvre sur les Derrieres!

Redirected to the embattled center, Doumerc's Heavy Cavalry Division makes an imposing sight!

Deroi seems unstoppable on the opposite flank... but it is too little, too late. The French have reached Zero Army Morale Points, and decide to withdraw, while Wittgenstein also needs to disengage to preserve the only force guarding St. Petersburg. Still, the Count has every reason to be pleased with a very solid Russian victory; most likely the Frogs will hunker down and cease to be a real threat.

There was a nice posting to the Piquet Yahoo group from one of the players (Hugh) at this game and Borodino, and, with his permission, I'd like to share it with you:

"    A big thank you to Peter, Barry and Joe for putting on two excellent FOB 2 Napoleonic 18912 France vs Russia battles. I enjoyed thumping my 16 year old son, Zach, in the first game. I was on the Russian side and he was on the French side (his choice). He is a student of history, but not necessarily Napoleonic history. He knows that in our house Napoleon's military prowess is lionized by his dad (moi), not necessarily by his English mother, and having played the French side in FOB2 verses his younger brother and me as the 1809 Austrians, he naturally assumed that the French side would be practically be unstoppable. He really likes to win and sees no shame in winning when the odds are insurmountably in his favor (sound familiar parents of teens?). He also counts both of our die rolling prowesses. I am legendary in my club for awful luck with the dice, and he is notoriously a lucky die roller. Much like Napoleon, he did not count on the Russians being as tough as they were i n 1812. 

 Our first FOB2 game was Peter's Battle of Polotsk at 7:00PM on Thursday. I was running the right wing of the Russian Army. I had Cossacks and Hussars, line infantry, jagers and horse artillery as well as some foot artillery to use. My son was directly across from me and he had a combined arms unit as well. Father verses son! It doesn't get any better than that. We Russians were out to pin the French to the river crossing and hoped to isolate those on our side of the river and destroy them, so with that in mind, we advanced. Our artillery hammered the French, constantly driving down their unit integrity. As we advanced, we started taking hits as well. Both sides were taking terrible damage and both armies were slipping down towards 0 morale points. On the Russian right, my infantry pinned my son's infantry in place and at the right moment I slipped two Cossack units through the far right most woods and worked around to his flank. He did not place his infantry in square, and well, you know what happens when cavalry sabres and lances catch infantry in the flank/rear in the open and not in square! After that unit blew up I managed to wreck a few more and the French were passing morale points to us as they went below zero. Our center captured a village and the artillery kept pounding away. Our left stymied the French counter attack with cavalry charges and lots of gunnery, for a solid Russian win. Great fun in a very bloody battle, that both sides could enjoy!

     Our second game was Barry's Huge Borodino game at 7:00 on Friday night. My younger son, just turned 14, joined us. My older son wishing for revenge and lusting for that beautiful Russian artillery switched sides forcing me to the French side across from him, with him firmly entrenched in the Great Redoubt, and left me with Ney's understrength corps attacking the Great Redoubt. My younger son was also on the French side and had to assault the Fleches (Michelle was his direct opponent). This battle, like the real thing was a close run bloodbath, where in the end, it looked like the French would carry the day (around midnight), but it was no sure thing. The center of the Russian line had two breaches forming on both sides of the fleches, My younger son, Travis, was in the fleches, and I had a unit standing at the edge of the redoubt, right in front of the guns (which I had silenced with counter battery fire) and others on its flank. The right side of the French line (Gabe, I think) was pushing the Russians back. In the area between the fleches and the redoubt, the French cavalry and artillery had driven the Russians back to the edge of the board and stopped/slowed to a trickle badly needed Russian reinforcements. The French left flank was being held beautifully by the Army of Italy, gaining a town and repulsing Russian cavalry advances. The only real weak are on the French side was where my Zach had been exacting revenge on me with Russian artillery smashing my Wurttembergers and French line. Fortunately, they did not attack to exploit this weakness until some Russian cavalry on their right, vacated the assault on the army of Italy and began to move toward the beat up Wurttembergers. The army of Italy was adjusting troops to protect that area, I was adjust artillery to help with this, and we had the Vistula Legion about to enter this area on the next turn as reinforcements. 

    My die rolls in this game were at my usual substandard (read: hideous) level except for my artillery rolls, and Zach was having a field day pounding me. I was having success versus the player to Zach's left (the left half of the redoubt- Zach had the right).  <Peter's note - holding the Great Redoubt was a long time wargames friend of Joe and mine, Dave Sweet.>

    All in all, two very enjoyable games. Several years ago I played in the huge Wagram game put on by Peter, Barry, Joe and the Hofkriegsrats. I enjoyed it enough to eventually buy the rules and eventually play them with my boys (incorrectly, but mostly correct). These two games were even better than the others we played, and I must say I really like FOB2. Thanks again Peter, Barry and Joe."

    Well, thank you, Hugh for that great account, and to you, Zach, and Trevor for playing with skill and good humor! As GM's we can set things up, but in the end great players will make even a mediocre game an excellent one. I too think that FoB2 is an exceptionally fun set to play. Hope to see all three of you again at Historicon next year as well!


PS - for some more pics and comments, see Barry's blog at:
and for some outstanding pictures, Gabriel's blog at:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Battle of Borodino (Historicon 2012, pt 1)

   As regular readers of this blog know, we (the Hofkriegsrat team, namely "Czar" Barry, Joe, Greg, Roger and myself)  had been planning, painting figures, and play-testing our scenario for the Battle of Borodino (September 7, 1812) for the past 2 years. As the table we would be using was available to us all day Friday, we actually started setting the game up by 10AM for a 7PM start; that was a good thing, because it wound up taking about 4+ hours to do it, in part because only Barry and I really understood where and how the troops would deploy at the start of the game (and the bulk of the figures themselves were ours, and organized by us; Joe, along with Roger and Greg, the later two being unable to attend, provided the remainder of the troops for this monster game). At about 7PM, we took a show of hands  for players. Between pre-registration and those who couldn't get one of the 14 slots but who had expressed an interest in playing in advance and were given conformation of a guaranteed slot, we actually had 24 potential players. I think we wound up with about 18; almost half of the pre-registered players failed to show up at the table; this is a bit worse than usual; I generally expect about a 33% no show rate; we certainly could have used even a few more players to help everything run as smoothly as possible for such a large game. The rules used were Field of Battle, 2nd ed. by Brent Oman. Almost all of the players had at least some familiarity with the rules, which certainly helped.

As best I can recall, here's the list of players and their commands, from the North (Borodino) to the South (Utitsa) of the table.  Please feel free, nay, encouraged to correct any errors and/or omissions on my part in this regard!

RUSSIANS:  under Marshal Kutusov (Jeff)
Baggavout (2nd Corps) - from Reserves: Brian
Guard Jagers and 2nd Cavalry Corps: Jamie  (later also 1st Army Artillery Reserve)
Docturov (6th Corps): Zach (later also 3rd Cavalry Corps - Kreutz, from Reserves)
Raevski (7th Corps): Dave S. (Later also Osterman-Tolstoy, 4th Corps, from Reserve)
Grand Duke Constantine (Imperial Guard): Jeff
Borozdin II (8th Corp): Michelle
Tuchkov (3rd Corps): Thomas
Count Markov (Opolochenie and Karpov's Cossacks): Alex

FRENCH:  under Emperor Napoleon I (Jim M.)
Prince Eugene (IV Corp) and Grouchy (III Cavalry Corp): Hal  and ?
Ney (III Corp):   Hugh
Montbrun (II Cavalry Corp): Walter (later Latour Mabourg's IV Cavalry Corp)
Army Artillery Reserve): Jim M.
Davout (I Corp): Travis and Andy
Nansouty (I Cavalry Corps): Dave M.
Poniatowski (V Corps): Gabriel and Walter

    Borodino wasn't the largest battle of the Napoleonic wars by a long shot - Wagram, Bautzen, Dresden, and of course Leipzig were all considerably bigger. It was, however, the bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic wars. This was in part due to the very high concentration of men and (especially) artillery pieces on a relatively small battlefield. For this action, an Infantry unit represented about 900 men, 600 men for Cavalry, and 12 guns for Artrillery. OK, time for some (well, actually, a LOT) of pictures! We will start with some set piece shots of the table before the game started, going counter clockwise around the table.

Poniatowski's V Corp, ready to advance upon Utitsa.

Karpov's Cossacks, stationed on the far Southern end of the Russian position.

Nine units of Opolochenie in the woods near Utitsa.

Tuchkov's 3rd Corps opposite Utitsa.

Part of Borozdin's 8th Corps

The remainder of Borozdin's Corps, defending the Fleches.

A combined Grenadier Division backing up the Fleches; these are effectively the same as Line!

Part of Siever's 4th Cavalry Corps.

Part of Raevski's 7th Corps, defending the Great Redoubt.

Raevski's other Infantry Division, deployed in support

The two Divisions of Docturov's 6th Corps, composed of some of my veteran Minifigs, accompanied by some of my rather new Sash and Saber Jagers.

Osterman-Tolstoy's slightly weak 4th  Corps, just to the south of  the Koltocha river, and Borodino itself.

Korf's 2nd Cavalry Corp, stationed to the North of Borodino.

Overview of the massive IV Corps of Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of  Italy and stepson of Napoleon; Two of Davout's Divisions (Morand and Gerard) had been transferred to his command. Grouchy's small II Cavalry Corps is in reserve to the rear, doubtless keeping a wary eye out for Cossacks! The French supply trains are seen in the distance. Their fist assignment is to seize control of the Borodino village from the Jagers of the Russian Guard, who hold it at the start of the battle. 

Part of Ney's III Corps; the small Wurttemburg Division to the left, and Ledru's Division to the right.

The remainder of Ney's III Corps: Razout's Division supported by the Corps cavalry.

Montbrun's large II Cavalry Corps; at the start of the battle, there is very little (seemingly) opposing them.

Friant's Division, forming part of Davout's I Corps; these are Roger's figures.

Desaix's Division of Davout's Corp; these are Greg and Barry's troops. The Corps Light Cavalry are mine (Sash and Saber figures). 

Compan's large Division of Davout's Corp; Foundry figures from my collection.

Nansouty's I cavalry Corps, mostly my figures, assorted manufacturers!

An overview, unfortunately rather dim, of the table - 30 feet long by 5 feet wide, except the 6 feet on each wing where the table is 7.5 feet wide. This is looking from Utitsa towards Borodino.

And the view from the opposite end, looking from Borodino towards Utitsa. 

The players have settled on their commands - Zach, Dave S, and ? Eric are seen here on the Russian side.

Some of the French players - form the right, a partially chopped off Jim M scouts the battlefield, while Hugh, and Walter study the opposition. 

Hal looks a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out how to handle the massive French forces opposite Borodino; I can't say that I blame him, although he had help from another player on the far Northern flank whose name I missed. 

The French won a big spread of initiative to start the game; here one of the Divisions of Poniatowski's Poles has rolled high with it's commander's Leadership die and has aggressively taken the fight to the hated Russkis!

Equally aggressive, Dave M's Cavalry Corps is advancing swiftly and pressing the Russians as well. 

One of Davout's Divisions also rolls hot and surges forward to attack the Fleches...

along with a sister Division!

Not to be outdone, the beau-sabers of Montbrun's cavalry also canter forward toward the relatively open (appearing) Russian Center!

Ney's Divisions move forward more circumspectly, whether due to prudence or lower Leadership die rolls!

Eugene's massive sledgehammer slams forward, with his lead units handily ejecting the Jagers of the Russian Guard from the first of the three town sections of Borodino proper.

Another French MOVE card, and Ney's 3rd Division is already attacking the Great Redoubt; some lucky shooting has silenced one of the Russian batteries defending the earthworks!

One of Davout's regiments is routed by concentrated Russian artillery fire during the first attack on the Fleches. 

Grudge match action between Poniatowki's Poles and  Tuchkov's Russian regulars.

The Chasseurs and Uhlans of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw also get caught up in the bold advance!

The appearance of the Really Useful Box means Russian Reserves are arriving to the North of the Great Redoubt.

Eugene's men continue with their attempt to take Borodino by storm, while a Russian Dragoon regiment advances boldly... perhaps rashly, in support of the embattled Jagers!

Some of the Russian Opolochenie advance in support of regulars of Tuchkov's Corps, which has been hemorrhaging morale points in the face of the determined Polish advance!

Russian Combined Grenadiers move up to support the artillery holding the Fleches.

Crunch time at the Great Redoubt, and the French and Russians battle it out with musket ball, cannister,  and bayonet!

Tolstoy's Corp moves up to threaten the right flank of Eugene's advance.

More close action between Raevsky and Ney at the Great Redoubt. 

The French are assaulting the second town sector of Borodino... and none too soon as a fresh Russian Corps has been committed from the Reserves to hold the Northern flank of the Battlefield. Meanwhile, Borozdin (Michelle) is heard begging for more infantry to help hold the Fleches against Davout!

The second Town section of Borodino has fallen, but the Guard Jagers, the alcohol from the previous night's exploits having finally worn off, repulse the first assault by the Mecklenberg-Schwerin regimnent.

Davout (Andy and Travis) is threatening to roll right over the Fleches!

Note the white coated Spaniards of the Joseph Napoleon Regiment at the rear of the attack!

Some of Nansouty's (Dave M) cavalry look for an opportune moment to charge home of Tuchkov's infantry in support of the battle-crazed Poles! Tuchov's command has already run out of Moral points, and has been paying them to Poniatowski for some time.

Jamie moves up masses of fresh Russian infantry in the Borodino sector... the Guard Jagers are still holding on to the final town section. 

Montbrun's cavalry hope to sweep away the (entering) artillery of the Russian Army Reserve before they can effectively deploy and blast them halfway back to the river Nieman!. 

The Russian Combined Grenadier units try to take back the Fleches. 

View from the rear of Eugene's Corps looking towards Borodino.

The Italian Royal Guard, stationed in Reserve, are at the rear of the right half of Eugene's Corps; across the swift flowing Kolocha river great masses of Russian infantry are seen advancing at the quick-step.

Dave S. and Brian are looking for something?

Davout takes advantage of a Lull in the action to move his guns forward.

The men of the Mecklenburg-Schwerin regiment succeed in theire second charge, routing the last unit of Guard jagers and forcing them to surrender. Borodino has fallen! Holding it may be another matter, though, as Russian infantry reinforcements start to pour across the bridge.

The Russians are very hard pressed before Utitsa; note the Opolochenie unit forming a "hedgehog" square!

The Russian Reserve artillery has managed to deploy in the center, but... so has the French! Junot's small VIII  (Westphalian) Corps is rumored to be ready to enter in support of the somewhat overextended cavalry. 

A valiant unit of Russian Dragoons tries to buy time by charging some of Davout's infantry.

Ney's attack on the Great Redoubt continues to grind down the Russian defenders, but the coup de grace seems to evade his men. 

Eugene starts to deploy to mitigate the threat from the Russian reserves which entered just South of Borodino.

Looking from Ney's positions near the Great Redoubt South towards Utitsa - quite a sight! Russian cavalry has crossed the stream threatening the just recently rallied troops of his left 2 divisions. Hugh had suffered heavy losses from concentrated artillery fire from son, Zach. He is down to just a few remaining Morale Points, but has been told that the four excellent regiments of the Vistula Legion will be arriving momentarily form the Reserve. Hang in there, Jaques, Pierre and Francois!

Eric has moved up a reinforcing Infantry Division, and this leaves the forces on the far North of the battlefield at a relative stand off, while rumors of Cossack hordes still further North continue to cause concern.

Overview of the Borodino sector, as the Russians engage in their favorite diversion - firing masses of Artillery at the French!

At this point, both sides had played completely through their sequence decks, and it was 12:30 AM - five hours of fairly intense game play. There was a lot of play left in the game - another 3 hours at least, I'd say. While I would have gladly continued playing (where is the rest of the LA Piquet crowd , whose motto is "we never ever give up", when you need them?), considering the need for take down time and commitments the following day, we reluctantly called it quits with "Advantage - French", and started the long job of packing it all up. This was immensely helped by the kind assistance of  a great many of the players. A big thank-you to a great bunch of guys (and gal), as well as Joe, Roger, and Greg; without ALL of you, such an ambitious game would be impossible for Barry and I to run!


Addendum July 30, 2012:

There are some more great pictures and additional narrative on Barry's blog at:

As always, Gabriel took some great pics; taken from his Historicon Blog post at:
(which has many more great pics):

Here are a couple of overview shots from MSJ_1's Flickr photostream. His whole HCon slideshow is at:
They do a nice job of showing all the players/GM's (That's me in the blue shirt with white stripes).