Monday, November 29, 2021

Thoughts on Field of Battle for New Players and Convention Games

First, let's be clear; with players of some experience, or solo games, I like Field of Battle just fine as written.  In fact, it's my favorite game by far!  However, the vagaries of the sequence deck can sometimes be challenging, especially when it is a long time between MOVE cards, which drive much of the game's energy. Hence the following thoughts, which I plan to employ at the next FoB game I will be running, the battle of Eylau, February 8, 1807. 

For FoB3, each side's sequence deck has almost the same composition:

3 Each:


2 Each:


1 Each: 


1 - 3 LULL

Without unduly changing the character of the game, it could be played with small 10 card decks, with one each


The MOVE ONE COMMAND becomes Move D6 (or it could be D4, or D8, etc depending upon the game/size), BUT the commands activated cannot belong to the same player (unless there are more activations than players, but even then no more than 2 per player). This is mostly to avoid players standing around with little to do.

For Eylau, the  UNIQUE EVENT card will be used as follows:

Each time the Russians turn the card, roll a D6; on a “1” heavy snow develops. All movement is halved, and all fire takes place at one range band farther than measures; no long range fire is possible. Once heavy snow begins, it lasts for the rest of the game; no need for any additional rolls thereafter!

For both sides, may propose a special action for any ONE unit or officer. 

GM will judge if the action succeeds, or if there will be a die roll to determine success.

Initiative:  Roll C-in-C's LD vs LD as usual, but compare the results similar to the Initiative roll:

Tie = both sides pick up all their cards, shuffle their decks, and then roll again
Difference of  1,2 = 1 Card
Difference of  3,4 = 2 cards
Difference of  5, 6 = 3 cards
Difference of  7,8 = 4 cards
Difference of  9, 10 = 5 cards
Difference of  11, 12 = 6 cards

I have also updated the back of my QRS with a summary of the cards and their effects. 

Also, for Eylau, at the start of the game, roll for one special characteristic for each player; it may be assigned by the player to any one officer they are playing:

D12 roll

Special Effects


Poltroon: DOWN 1 for all Rally rolls, BUT may always withdraw at FULL rather than half speed! 


Epileptic: LD roll of 2 also = no move. May re-roll failed leader survival tests


Fabian: DOWN 1 die type for MOVE rolls (Can go down to a D6!), BUT may *always*  expend 1 segment to change facing or formation.

4 - 9

No special effects


Aggressive:  UP 1 die type for MOVE rolls. 


Charismatic: UP 1 for all Rally rolls


Heroic: all units in his Command Group get UP 1 in Melee while he is in charge, but roll for Leader  loss on D8 instead of D12

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Historicon 2021: Fuentes de Onoro

6 PM Saturday night at Historicon was the time for my large Peninsular War game, Fuentes de Onoro, using Field of Battle, 3rd edition. The scenario is included at the end of this post. 

We wound up effectively having 6 players, which is a little bit light for a game of this size. Only one of the participants had ever played Filed of Battle before, which made things a bit challenging to coordinate as well. Additionally, the players at the other three games in the room were having a great time, which was fantastic, but it made the noise level quite high... although nothing like Saturday night the first year in Fredericksburg, after which *everyone* had tinnitus!

I was very happy with the look of the game. I didn't get to take many pictures due to assisting players with learning the rules. 

FoB/Piquet veteran, Freddie Avner (green sweater) was a big help, teaching the rules to the players on his half of the field. 

Although I had "stacked" the sequence decks a bit, as I usually doe for a convention game, making sure that there was at least 1 MOVE card in the first few cards in both decks, on the second initiative roll of the game, after turning just 2 cards, a tie was rolled and the decks shuffled before the cards appeared. It took a long time for a French MOVE card to appear after that, resulting in a long range exchange of cannon fire of long duration.  

The French finally got on the move, and launched attacks along the line. For the most part, the British were up to the task of repulsing them. There were quite a lot of French reinforcements available; given the number of players and the unusually slow pace of the game, I opted to leave them in their boxes. It became clear that Massena would not be able to reverse history... this time!

This game lead to my having some thoughts on how I might modify Field of Battle, 3rd edition, for Convention Games/New Players. That will follow in a post immediately after this one. 

The Scenario:

S18:476 Battle of Fuentes de Onoro, May 5, 1811 Saturday, 6:00 PM, 5 hrs, Players: 8, Location: Maple/Juniper: MJ-5 

French Army of Portugal

Commander-in-Chief:  Marechal Andre Massena

Exceptional, LD D10

Sequence Deck: Average   Morale Points  54 units * 62 MP

II Corps, GD Jean Reynier 

Skilled, LD 12

1st Division, GD Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle

Average, LD 10

5 Leger  DD 6, CD 12

6# Foot Battery DD 6, CD 12


2nd Division, GD Etienne Heudelet de Bierre 

Average, LD 10

1 Legere  DD 6, CD12

4 Ligne  DD 6, CD 10

6# Foot Battery  DD 6, CD 12


VI Corps, GD Louis Henri Loison

Skilled, LD 12

1st Division, GD Jean Gabriel Marchand

Exceptional LD 12

1 Legere  DD 6, CD 12

5 Ligne  DD 6, CD 10

6# Foot Battery  DD 6, CD 12


3rd Division, GD Claude Francois Ferey

Skilled, LD 10

3 Ligne  DD 6,  CD 10

1 Legion  DD 4,  CD 10

6# Foot Battery  DD 6,  CD 12



VIII Corps, GD Jean-Andoche Junot

Skilled, LD 10

2nd Division, GD Jean-Baptiste Solignac

Average, LD 10

4 Ligne  DD 6,  CD 10

1  Legion  DD 4,  CD 10

12# Foot Battery  DD 6,  CD 12+1


IX Corps, GD Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Compte d’Erlon

Skilled, LD 10

1st Division, GD Michel Marie Claparede

Skilled, LD 10

4 Ligne  DD 6, CD 10

2 Converged Grenadiers  DD 8, CD 12+1

1 Legere  DD 6, CD 12

6# Foot Battery  DD 6, CD 12



2nd Division, GD Nicolas Francois Conroux

Average, LD 10

4 Ligne  DD 6,  CD 10

1 Legere  DD 6,  CD 12

6# Foot Battery  DD 6,  CD 12


Reserve Cavalry Division, GD Louis-Pierre Montbrun

Exceptional, LD 12

2 Dragoons  DD 6, CD 12

3 Chasseur a Cheval  DD 6,  CD 10

1 Hussar  DD 8,  CD 10

1 6# Horse Battery  DD 8, CD 12


Army of the North (cavalry), Marechal Jean-Baptiste Bessieres

Skilled, LD 10

Dutch Lancers  DD 10, CD 12+1

Grenadiers a Cheval  DD10, CD 12+1

1 6# GuardHorse battery  DD 10, CD 12+1


Anglo-Portuguese Army

Commander-in-Chief: Lt Gen Viscount Wellington

Exceptional, LD 12

Sequence Deck: Average     Morale Points  41 units * 47 MP


5th Division, Maj Gen Sir William Erskine

Average, LD 10

1 Portuguese Line (Brunswick)  DD 4,  CD 10

4 Line  DD 6,  CD 10

6# Foot Battery  DD 6,  CD 12


6th Division, Maj Gen Alexander Campbell 

Average, LD 10

3 Line  DD 6,  CD 10

2 Portuguese  DD 4,  CD 10

Portuguese 6# Foot Battery  DD 6,  CD 10


Light Division, Brig Gen Robert Crafurd

Exceptional, LD 12

1 95 Rifles  DD 8,  CD 12+1

2 Light  DD 8,  CD 12

1 Cacadore  DD 6,  CD 10

6# Foot Battery  DD 6,  CD 12


Portuguese (Brunswick) Brigade, Brig Gen Charles Ashworth

Average, LD 10

2 Portuguese (Brunswick)  Line  DD 4,  CD 10

6# (Brunswick) FA   DD 6,  CD 10


Cavalry, Maj Gen Stapleton Colton

Exceptional, LD 12

1 Portuguese Light Dragoon  DD 4,  CD 10

1 Dragoon  DD 6,  CD 12

1 Hussar  DD 8,  CD 10

1 Light Dragoon  DD 6,  CD 10

2 x 6# Horse Battery, RHA  DD 8, CD 12



Column Commander: Lt Gen Brent Spencer

Commanding 1st & 3rd Divisions; Skilled, LD 12


1st Division, Maj Gen Miles Nightingall

Average, LD 10

2 Guards/Fusiliers  DD 8,  CD 12+1

3 Highlanders  DD 6,  CD 12

1 Highland Lt Infantry  DD 8,  CD 12

1 KGL Line  DD 6,  CD 10

6# Foot Battery  DD 6, CD 12


3rd Division, Maj Gen Thomas Picton

Exceptional, LD 12

1 Fusilier  DD 8,  CD 12+1

2 Portuguese Line  DD 4,  CD 10

3 Line  DD 6,  CD 10

6# Foot Battery  DD 6,  CD 12



Spanish, Don Julio Sanchez  (NO MP costs for losses!)

Average, LD 10

1 Guerilla Infantry  DD 4,  CD 10

1 Lancer Cavalry  DD 4,  CD 10.

Map from my freind James Fisher's Avon Napoleonic Fellowship blog. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Historicon 2021: Oars and Cannons, Muskets and Swords

In a first for me, this year I ran a game on Sunday morning; as is traditional (due to quick set up and take down times on the last day of the show), it was a Naval game.  

I had two fellows my general age signed up for the game, and then a Dad and his two teenage sons passed by, liked the looks of the game, and asked to play. In the course of the game, it turned out that the trio was from New Paltz, NY,  and the young men had played in a HMGS Next Gen sponsored game held at their local library earlier in the year. 

The rules used were lightly modified "Galleys and Galleons", by Ganesha Games. 
The ships are a combination of scratch built ones made by Bill Abrams (Anyone remember the Sapper's Report in the old NEWA courier?) over 40 years ago, and resin ships from Merimack/Old Glory shipyard, with 15 mm crews. 

The opposing Ottoman and Venetian squadrons got mixed in straight on, and before you could say "Lepanto", each of the squadrons had lost a ship.

The players developed a fondness for ramming, as well as shooting with their bow mounted cannons and soldiers. Boarding seemed "dicey", so ultimately no one tried it!

Black Dice mean trouble; with three a ship is cripple, and with 4 it will sink outright! A hit changes one of the regular dice to Black. 

Situation at game's end; the Turks prevail, having dispatched 4 Venetian ships for a loss of only one of theirs... although, as you can see, the remaining ships some have a lot of damage themselves! 

The game was a lot of fun, with dramatic moments and quickly learned rules. The game finished in less than 2 hours. Perfect for a Sunday morning adventure! 
 I think I need to tone the ramming down, as it was a bit too effective and low risk for this era. Just a minor tweak or two should do it! 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Historicon 2021: Ramses II, They came from the Sea

Invading Barbarians descending upon the realm from across the Sea...what's a Mummy to do?

Pharaoh Ramses II, who barely survived the serious wound he suffered at the Battle of de Nile, musters his army to repel the invasion. 

The terrain features some impassable rock outcroppings on either flank, and a few Palm groves. 

For tactical interest, I rated the Pelset Ox Carts as Chariots, Raw... which was fairly generous. 

Both sides moved forwards aggressively. 

Ramses himself leads the right wing force of Egyptian Veteran Light Chariots. 

They use their archery skills to try to pick off their foes. 

The infantry close in the center as well. 

On the opposite flank, the heavier Ox Carts drive off the lighter Egyptian chariots. 

Massive infantry battle in the center. According to the inscriptions, Ramses II personally picks off one of the enemy chariots. 

A Peleset General is struck down. 

More close action in the center. 

Thunk, thunk, thunk... and another one bites the dust! Once again Heiroglyphics will record Ramses prowess as the the source of Egyptian dominance on this flank. 

Egyptian light chariots turn the flank of the Sea Peoples... but on the opposite side of the table, the sandal is on the other foot!

Crunch time; everyone is in on the action!

Situation on the Egyptian left; oh my anking flank! 

The sole Ox cart on the Egyptian Right over runs some light infantry.... but leaves itself exposed in turn. 

In the center, the infantry battle has favored the Sherdan warbands. 

The Egyptians surrender their last Victory medal, and with draw to regroup. 

End of game shot of the Egyptian Left. Despite the loss, Ramses can boast of his personal performance, and survived with out injury. There is time to muster more troops and confront the invaders again another day. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Sea Peoples start to set up shop in their little corner of Palestine!

Note that many of the Sea Peoples troops (Shekel

esh warbands) were originally from the collection of Bill McHugh. Bill was from the Los Angeles area, played enthusiastically in many of my Historicon games of the past 10 years, including my big Punic Wars game at Historicon 2018, where he commanded the Carthaginian ambush force. Sadly, he died suddenly not long after that, and his friend, Jeff Grein arranged for me to obtain his Sea Peoples (and Hittite) troops, who proudly fought to victory today. Sadly, I also recently learned that another old friend from the Historicon Piquet/FoB clan, Terry Schockley, of Denver, Colorado, has been severely ill and enduring a lengthy hospitalization. Terry, his dry wit and his dice tower were sorely missed. 

A very Happy and safe Thanksgiving to all in the US! We have made much progress against COVID, but it is very much still with us and effecting our lives.