Sunday, December 20, 2020

Napoleon Solo: Battle of Leppävirta March 11th 1808

 

    This was the small opening engagement of the Russo-Swedish War of 1808. The invading Russian forces took a detour, advancing over a frozen lake. The defending Finnish troops were under orders not to engage too closely, but were eager to slow the Russian advance. For details of the engagement and OOB, see the excellent GeMiGaBoK site. The OOB's are for my game "based upon" the action, and the unit names are those belonging to my miniature troops rather than the historical combatants. I have included a commander figure for both forces. although such play no role in Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames. 


Swedish (Finnish) forces, Colonel Count Johan Cronstedt

Unit #

Name

Type

1

1st Jager

Skirmishers

2

2nd Jager

Skirmishers

3

Jonkoping Line

Infantry

4

Guns

Artillery

5

Vesterbotens Line

Infantry

6

Smaland Light Dragoons

Cavalry


Russian forces, Lt General Nikolai Tutskov

Unit #

Name

Type

1

5t5h Jager

Skirmishers

2

9th Jager

Skirmishers

3

Nisovsky Line

Infantry

4

Guns

Artillery

5

Moscow Line

Infantry

6

Cossacks

Cavalry


As the rules don't specify who starts first, Cronstedt and Tutskov diced off, with the Russians winning the toss. The two deployments are symmetrical. The chance card allows one unit to act twice this turn. I allowed the player to chose which unit was affected by this cad, and the guns chose to shoot first; they have a 48" range and deduct 2 from their score. A single hit is scored on the Vesterbottens regiment. The remainder of the troops advance. 


The Swedish chance card is Low ammo; only the battery is in range anyway, and the dice determine that they are unaffected. They miss anyway! The rest of the troops advance across the ice  the maximum allowed - 6" for infantry, 9' for skirmishers, and 12" for Cavalry. Only skirmishers may enter woods!


Russian turn 2; the Russian guns score 3 more hits on the Vesterbortens regiment, while the other troops advance, with the Russian Left hanging back somewhat, in part to preserve the field of fire for their guns, 


Swedish Turn 2: Cronstedt calls for the Brigade's quartermaster, as ammo supplies are low once again! Like last turn, only the guns are unaffected, and this time they score big, inflicting 4 hits on Moscow regiment. The left flank slows to allow the Jonkoping regiment to catch up to the Jagers in the woods, while the Swedish right presses on. 


Russian Turn 2: The chance card allows 1-3 units to rally 1-3 hits. With only the Moscow Musketeer regiment having taken hits, the dice determine that they were not eligible to rally. The Russian gunner score 3 more hits on the Vesterbottens regiment, but a volley from the Moscow regiment inflicts minimal damage on the Swedish Light Dragoons, who have ventured within musket range (12"). On the Russian Right the Jagers pause to allow the Niskovsky Musketeers to catch up with them. 


Swedish Turn 3: The Light Dragoons ae within 12"of the Cossacks and charge them. Only Cavalry may melee, and only the attacker can inflict damage. Cavalry add 2 to their die roll, but casualties are halved vs enemy cavalry, so the Cossacks take 2 hits. Cavalry that does not destroy its target in a charge must withdraw 6". The artillery score 3 hits on the Moscow Musketeer regiment, using the chance card to shoot twice. 


Russian Turn 3: The chance card is demoralization; a friendly unit suffers 1-6 hits; fortunately, Tutskov gets off easily, rolling a "1". 


The Cossacks countercharge the Light Dragoons, but roll even worse!  The effect is the sane, 2 hits scored on the Light Dragoons. Having no other target, the guns score 6 hits on their Swedish opposite number, and the infantry all shoot (units that move cannot shoot that turn), to variable effect. Light infantry subtract 2 from their die roll, and also suffer half hits if they are ion woods. Thus a skirmisher duel can go on for many turns, as the maximum number of hits one skirmish unit in a woods can inflict on the other is only 2. 


Swedish Turn 4: no special effects (Joker), the Jagers fire in the woods and the Jonkoping regiment gets of fa decent shot at the Nisovsky Musketeers. the Light Dragoons charge the Cossacks again to more effect this time, whilst the Vesterbottens Line gets off a very ragged shot at the Moscow Musketeers; fortunately, the Swedish Artillery adds some damage from their shooting. 


Russian Turn 4: the 5th Jagers rally off 3 hits, whilst the infantry exchanges fire and the Cossacks countercharge the Light Dragoons, and the Russian Artillery duels with the Swedish guns. Hits are accumulating on most units!


Swedish Turn 5: One unit can't move - the dice gods determine that it is the only unit that needs to move; the Light Dragoons! "Bad luck that, chap!", remarks Tutskov. At this point, I am both enjoying the nostalgia of marking the hits with the white casualty rings, and recalling what a nuisance it can be at times to manipulate them!  :-)


Russian Turn 5: shooting all along the right side of their line is anemic, but the Moscow Musketeers get off a solid volley at the Vesterbottens line, and the Cossacks return to the charge with a best possible roll, inflicting 4 hits on the Smalands Light Dragoons. No units have been eliminated... yet! In these rules, units fight at full effect until they disperse. 


Swedish Turn 6: desultory skirmish fire in the woods, but a crushing volley by the light blue clad Jonkoping regiment! The light Dragoons charge the Moscow Musketeers, who are close to being eliminated, but their horses are blown, and their impact greatly diminished. The Vesterbottens line, being just 1 hit from elimination, pulls back out of musket and charge range! 


The 6 hit volley was enough to disperse the Nisovsky Musketeers, and they are eliminated from play!


Russian Turn 6: It is the Cossacks turn to rest their mounts (chance card), another weak effort by the badly damaged Moscow regiment doesn't empty enough saddles to disperse the battered light Dragoons, and a continued skirmish battle of attrition in the woods. Oh, and devastating shower of roundshot pelts the retreating Vesterbottens Line. The Russians do love their Artillery!


The 4 hits by the artillery are 3 more than needed to disperse the Swedes. "Run, run reindeer!"


Swedish Turn 6: The current is swifter near the steep, impassible edge of the lake, and thus the ice is thinner there.  CRRRRACK! The ice starts to fissure under the Cossacks, and the resultant Panic causes 6 hits on them (chance card). Shades of the frozen ponds at Austerlitz!


The Light Dragoons pull back out of charge and musket range (units may change facing at the beginning and/or end of the turn, but no more than 45 degrees at the start of a move if charging). The Swedish artillery pelts the Moscow Line, while both Jager units and the Jonkoping Line decide to concentrate their fire upon the 9th Jagers. 


Unable to reply to the artillery barrage, the Moscow Musketeers have had enough, and disperse. 


Russian Turn 7: The Jagers shoot at their opposite numbers, while the Russian Artillery does itself proud once again, putting some serious hurt on the Jonkoping Line. Meanwhile, the Cossacks move to threaten their flank (they have carefully determined that they are more than 12" from the Light Dragoons to their own flank). 



Swedish Turn 8: some Swedish units are "frozen" in place (chance card), but fortunately this does not include the Light Dragoons, who fall just short of the flank of the Cossacks, as Tutskov had carefully judged! However they suffer damage from Swedish cannonballs, and i nthe woods, the Swedes continue to whittle away at the 9th Jagers. 


With that, all 15 chance cards have been played, and the deck is shuffled. 


Russian Turn 8: Chance card:  "1-3 units cannot move this turn". The first die roll determines it is just one unit. Phew. The second roll determines... it is the Cossacks. 
Офигеть! shouts Tutskov. 


The rest of their turn sees another round of professionally executed shooting by the Artillery, and a few shots hit home in the woods. 


Swedish Turn 9: Chance card - 1-3 units cannot shoot. The dice determine that the 2nd Jager and the Jonkoping Regiment are low on ammunition. "Vad fan!" grumbles Cronstedt. 


The sole unit of Swedish infantry eligible to fire misses in the woods, and he charge of the Light Dragoons into the Cossacks is lackluster, but...hits are DOUBLED when charging a flank.  


The Cossacks are dispersed to the four winds!


Russian Turn 9: more attritional fire in the woods, and the Russian gunners a re a bit spooked by the disappearance of the Cossacks, and mange but a single hit on the approaching Light Dragoons (D6-2). 


Swedish Turn 10: more attritional fire in the woods. Left with only the enemy artillery as a target, the Swedish gunners miss. The Light Dragoons move to within charge range of the Russian Artillery, while managing to maneuver out of their 45 degree field of fire. 


Russian Turn 10: Panic (chance card) sets in amongst the Jonkoping Regiment, which suffers 6 hits!
That is more than enough to disperse the regiment, which is removed from play forthwith.


More potshots by the skirmishers in the woods, while the gunners turn to face the Swedish cavalry. Unfortunately, having done so, they cannot fire this turn! 


Swedish Turn 11: Chance card - 3 units regain hits - one each for the Jagers, and 2 for the Light Dragoons! 


The Swedish Jagers in the woods can't hit the broad side of a Lutefisk, and the charge of the overworked Light Dragoons is almost as anemic. 


Russian Turn 11:  Their fingers numb from the biter cold, NONE of the three remaining Russian units may fire this turn (Chance card). Гавно! exclaims Tutskov. He orders the Jagers to pull back out of musket range of their Swedish opposition, whilst the gunners call frantically for an ammunition caisson!


The resulting situation.


Swedish Turn 11: the Jagers advance in the woods but are thus unable to fire. The guns score a hit  on the 9th Jagers in the woods edge, and the Light Dragoons charge the Russian Guns to good effect, but not enough to eliminate them. 


Russian Turn 11: the Russian Guns batter the Light Dragoons to within 1 hit of elimination, and the exchange of skirmish fire continues in the woods. 


Swedish Turn 12: neither their Jagers nor their guns are able to inflict any losses on the Russian Jagers, but the Light Dragoons charge home on the Russian Artillery again...

eliminating them!


Russian Turn 12: The 5th Jagers move out of the woods and fire at the Light Dragoons... but miss! The Jagers in the woods miss as well. 


Swedish Turn 13 The Light Dragoons are Demoralized (chance card)  and lose 2 hits- exactly enough to eliminate them!


The Jagers in the woods are unable to hit the enemy, but the Swedish Artillery scores 2 hits on the 9th Jagers, one more than needed to eliminate them from play as well!


A Double Move for Russian urn 13; the sole remaining unit, the 5th Jagers, shoot at the enemy and pull back their full 9" out of the woods. 


At this point Tutskov concedes and abandons the field to the Swedes. He takes comfort in the fact that, with the support of both the French Emperor and the Danes, the outcome of the War is not really in serious doubt, even if many brave men on both sides will perish before it is all over!


   So, with the game in the history books, and Tutkov and Cronstedt put to bed, what did I think about the rules? First and foremost, I think Neil Thomas achieved his objectives; the game can be played on a small tabletop (3 x 3 feet). with fewer than 100 figures a side (I used 90 figures a side for this game), and while it took me about 2 hours to play out, that included taking pictures and going back and forth from one side of the table to the other at least twice for most moves. They are about as close to the proverbial "rules on the back of a postcard" that one is ever likely to get. While very simplified and abstracted, tactical decisions matter. I personally felt the addition of the chance cards added a bit of needed spice. Once again, the inclusion of 30 scenarios, rules for 9 broad periods of warfare, and 18 Army compositions (multiplied by 9 if you included all the various periods) means there is almost limitless replay possible despite the simple parameters. Are the rules simple enough for a 6 year old to grasp, with some adult supervision/participation? I think so. 

   Are there weaknesses in the rules?  Given the design parameters, it is hardly surprising that there are many. No command and control, units fight at full effect until eliminated. ranges are long without taking into account closeness or even flanking fire, and there is no variation for troop quality. Tracking 15 hits per unit can get to be a pain as well. Each and every one of these can easily be addressed if the player thinks it matters - indeed, almost all have been, often in a variety of different ways by various users. Are they my favorite rules of all time? Certainly not. But... for a new player starting out, the barriers in terms of space, time, and cost to get started are incredibly low. I would certainly consider using them to introduce my grandsons to the hobby in a year or two! 


29 comments:

  1. Gratifying to see the swedes win one! Very good play through, you are right to observe the rules themselves are a good start for a wargamer.

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    1. Thanks, Joe. The Swedes deserve at least one more, bigger action...

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  2. Nice little action. Got me thinking to get out a white sheet and my little Christmas decoration trees. No Swedes or Russians (at least not Naps) but I do have Winter Finns and Soviets that need painting. Hmmm!

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    1. Finns and Soviets would be having you fight over the same terrain and more or less the same combatants 100+ years later! :-)

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  3. Gorgeous and immersive terrain, nice looking game Peter!

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  4. Your assessment seems reasonable to me and I agree with your stated weaknesses. I came to the same conclusion but as you say, easily tweaked to make it your own.

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    1. We do tend to think somewhat alike, Jon! :-)

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  5. The rules are ideal for that quick game , I use mini dice to track casualties for units .

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    1. Agreed, and that is exactly what they were designed for. Literally can be played on a card table.

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  6. A good looking game. Agree that the chance cards to add to the game as OHW rules are striped back to the basics.

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    1. Thanks, Peter. I took the rules from Thomas, but the cue from your own WW2 desert campaign!

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks, Neil; these Veterans appreciate it! :-)

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  8. The units fighting until eliminated bit reminds me a little of my entry into wargaming with Donald Fetherstone rules, where morale tests were an optional add-on and to a ten year-old an unnecessary annoyance when you had figures left on the table who should be able to continue fighting no matter what.

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    1. Given the design parameters. I don't think it was an unreasonable decision. 15 hits doesn't necessarily mean the unit is wiped out, it has just lost its will to fight. It wouldn't be hard to add a test when a unit takes, say 10 or more total hits, if one wanted.

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  9. Wonderful looking game again Peter. I do love what you do with Napoleonics!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Carlo. I can certainly say the same for your own games!

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  10. Nice looking game Peter. Napoleon Solo and the Russians cried U.N.C.L.E.

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    1. Thanks, Barry!
      Yes, I meant to use that, but got drawn up in the rukles discussion, LOL!

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  11. Nice AAR. With such simple type rules playability is always high but one inevitably always wants more meat on the bones. Good to see unusual armies on table

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    1. Thanks, Gary, Yes, I would agree, but Neil himself would agree that the OHW are a beginning and not an end!

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  12. Cheers Peter, yes I love the scenarios/forces idea, but felt perhaps the rules could have a bit more detail if playing Napoleonics, even for a novice. Also I'm inclined to think the smaller the game, the more detailed you can be with rules, while for larger games you want the rules to be as simplified as possible. Still some great ideas for what it is! :)

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    1. No arguments there, Mark. I am probably going to do a game with some other simple rules, those by Joseph Morschauser, whose book introduced me to the hobby, but whose rules I have never played!

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    2. BTW, a play of your onw 123 rules is definitely p[lanned at some point as well!

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  13. Good looking game with your veteran armies! I agree with pretty much everything said about the rules, they are stripped down to bare bones but very playable and easy to add additional detail too. Have you considered To the strongest! Simon did design it so that it was simple enough to be explained in a short time to a child? The grid might make it easier to start with?
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks, Ian. As you know, I've played a lot of TTS! I've played it with/taught it to 11/12 year olds at conventions. I think it might be a bit much for a 6 year old, though. There are other candidates...

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  14. Great looking game Peter. Talk about bloody though, it was like a game of chess with all those pieces being removed from the board. I really liked your aggressive hand of god. He was really busy too!
    Regards, James
    p.s. Early on I thought for sure that you were going to beat yourself, but then you came out with the win!

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