Rethinking my priorities

For some time now I have been running a WW2 play-by-email campaign with five “generals”. The original idea was to give them a strategic game which would provide me with some interesting tabletop solo wargames.

However, I have become too bogged down in getting the visual depiction correct and this has slowed down the execution of the big game.

And so, in the recent spate of bad weather which banned me from both the gaming and painting sheds I had a re-think.

The campaign will now progress somewhat faster and individual engagements will probably be fought as board games or simple tabletop wargames without the frills.

I have already played as a board game the expected table-top game that took more than a month to set up, of which more later…

A poor game…

As part of my somewhat OCD lifestyle my daily tasks are dictated by what emerges from the in-tray.

Today we started with: “Trim back lawn edges”:  No thank you, it is raining.  Task is replaced in the interim tray.

Next: “Trim front lawn edges”:  No, it is still raining.  Similar destination.

“Update blog”:   I have nothing to report since yesterday.

“ASL Napoleonic wargame”.:  Ah!  Now we are talking.  Up to the loft to retrieve the two boxes of stuff – and to get out all the Christmas decorations while I am there.

This game was developed during a week-long solo caravan trip in Spain, between two re-enactment events set in 1710 (Zaragoza) and 1811 (Albuera).

With the boxes of Squad Leader game boards and home-made gaming tokens retrieved, I began to roll the dice.  5, 2, 6 means take the 5th board from the stack, then the 2nd below that and the 6th below that.  I ended up with boards 15, 12 and 12.

Next, each board must be orientated.  Dice again. Odd, Even, Odd.  With an odd number the printed board number is to the right, with an even number, to the left.


Now to the forces.

Blue and Red dice rolled.  Blue has 2 units, red has 5.Opening the playing tile boxes (note 1), Red’s units are (from top left) :  95th Rifles, Royal Horse Artillery 6pr Battery, Royal Artillery 6pr Battery, King’s German Legion 6pr Battery, 52nd Line.

 Blue has:  3eme Regiment de Ligne, 5eme Regiment de Ligne.

Note 1.  The playing pieces are made by attaching printed sticky labels, designed in Microsoft Excel, onto 13mm x 13mm x 5mm plastic tokens bought from Plastics for Games

Next, dice for sides: higher comes from ‘north”.  Blue.

Both sides now make a plan, assuming they have not yet made contact.

Red is clearly an artillery column being escorted by light troops moving from south to north.  They will take the quickest route on road, with scouts from the 95th to the front and the 52nd battalion to the rear.

Blue is an understrength brigade, moving from the north. A die roll decides that they are deployed, looking for the enemy.

Thus we start the game.

It turns out that the game was most disappointing and not worth reporting,  but I thought that my methodology may be of interest.

Eastbourne, 17 September 1940

Yesterday, 3rd January, I played through another engagement of our long-running Operation Sealion Play-By-Email campaign.  The situation potentially called for a large amount of German units that I don’t currently have painted and prepared, as well as a lot of railway track terrain to build.  I opted to fight this as a “TEWTT” – a Tactical Exercise Without Tiny Troops.

I dug out my Memoir ’44 board game and designed tactical counters for platoon sized units, which were printed on A4 sticky label sheets, cut out and attached to plastic counters which I had previously bought from Plastics For Games.


These labels follow the principles of the early war German map marking symbols as far as possible, but have additional elements for gaming purposes.  They were designed usin MS Paint on a pixel by pixel basis.  I have decided to create all the forces in the campaign on the same principle so that I can fight any forthcoming battles without delay.  Tokens will be kept in separate bags or boxes according to their current location on the campaign map.

It was one of those engagements that happen in a campaign which could practically only be fought as a solo exercise, and gave me a lot of fun. The situation is that a small, scratch force is being attacked from both sides by brigade sized forces and wisely decides to clear off before the pincers close, but will they make it?  And the battle ended with a “blue on blue” incident.  Unusually in this game neither side had any losses.

The battle report is here in MS Word format


and here as a PDF


The next engagement is at Lewes, concurrent with the attacks on Eastbourne.


Blücher plays Commands & Colors

I have owned a copy of Sam Mustafa’s “Blücher” rules for five days and already started to bugger about with them.  Not because there is anything wrong with the rules, but I wanted to see if I could adapt them to my normal hexagon-based playing tables in 2mm and 6mm.

I am pleased to say that very little adaptation is needed.  As a first test I tried the rules with a scenario from Commands & Colors Napoleonics and the here is the result.

I made a few cock-ups in interpreting the rules, but I have to say that was my own fault.  These are probably the clearest, best laid out set of rules that I have ever read.

Blücher plays Commands & Colors

Attack on Boialva 13th June 1808

Report of the action at Boialva, Portugal 13th June 1808

Captain Langton, commanding 2nd Squadron, 20th Light Dragoons and senior officer in Boialva, had orders to hold the town with the assistance of the local militia.
The previous day 1st squadron had suffered casualties south of the town, including the squadron commander, and the regiment had taken up defensive positions in the town.

Major Seillon of the French 3eme Provisional Dragoon Regiment had orders to attack.
He decided to retain two squadrons mounted and to attack on foot with his 1st and 2nd squadrons.
1st Squadron was to form a skirmish line and 2nd squadron two half-squadron columns.

The opening dispositions
The opening dispositions

The action commenced with the two mounted squadrons advancing either side of the town, keeping just outside musket range.
1st squadron then advanced in skirmish order and with their carbines swiftly drove two companies of the militia guarding the defensive outworks well back into the town.
They then moved into the buildings to the southern end of Boialva, but the 20th Light Dragoons moved forward the squadrons held in reserve and with support from a third company of militia drove the French back with severe casualties.

The militia are driven back from the walls
The militia are driven back from the walls

Major Seillon then moved his 2nd squadron up towards the town while the 1st squadron reformed and collected in their stragglers.
Captain Langton moved his dismounted cavalry and about half the militia forward to meet this new threat. A firefight over the southern defences ensued and eventually one troop of the French 2nd Squadron forced their way over the walls and into the south of the town.
With dusk falling and effectively a whole squadron lost, Major Seillon sounded the recall and the dragoons withdrew.

The French begin to withdraw
The French begin to withdraw

Although the British and Portuguese hold the town, the French now occupy positions surrounding it and in a good position to intercept any relief force.

Casualties: French – 161, British 36, Portuguese 42.

Wargaming note: This battle was fought using Commands & Colors Napoleonics, as seen in the photographs.

Poland, 1st September 1939, forces ready (or are they?)

Poland, 1st September 1939
The opposing forces are ready.  Well, when I started this post I thought they were!

In a previous post I showed the situation in Poland on 1st September.  Here is how the forces available for the local battle were decided.  I am using “Axis and Allies” (A&A) for the overall strategic campaign and “Memoir 44” (M44) with local adjustments for the tabletop battles using appropriate 1/300 or 1/285 scale miniatures and Kallistra terrain tiles.  This is very much a game based on history rather than a historical game.

Rule: only forces orthogonally adjacent on the map may participate in battle. The attacker (current active country in the Strategic game) selects a target map square and a primary attacking unit.  Any other uncommitted unit adjacent to the target square may be included as reinforcements.  The defender must fight with whatever unit is in the target square but may also be reinforced from neighbouring squares.

For this battle Germany is attacking with 2nd Panzer supported by 1st Infantry against the Polish 1st Infantry.  All other forces are pinned or not directly adjacent to an enemy.  Note that I am not calling these strategic units Divisions, Corps, Armies or anything else.  The entire Polish national defence is represented by four units, so maybe they could be called “Armies”.  We shall see as the war progresses.

To determine the forces available to each commander the appropriate number of Memoir 44 dice are rolled.  This process will be carried out at the start of each battle, so the commander on the spot will have a variable force available from battle to battle.  This will make it more interesting and I can rationalise it by claiming that this was the key point in the bigger picture.

All forces for this battle are fresh and complete, so 8 dice are rolled for each A&A unit.  Why 8 dice? Mainly because that’s how many are in the box but also because it gives a reasonable sized force for a 4ft x 3ft table, which with 10cm hexagons neatly replicates the 13 x 9 hexagon board in M44.
The dice are cubic, with the faces marked as infantry, infantry, tank, grenade, flag and star.  For those unfamiliar with the game system the relevance of these symbols in play will become clear in the battle reports.

German 2nd Panzer uses the “armour” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
2 tanks = 2 units of 3 medium tanks (Pz II for 1939)
3 grenades = 3 units of 2 Self-Propelled guns (for 1939 replaced by howitzers towed by half-tracks)
2 flags = 2 units of 3 armoured cars
1 star = 1 unit of 3 half tracks.
Note that no infantry were rolled on this occasion.

German 2nd Panzer force September 1st 1939.  GHQ models on Kallistra hex tiles.
German 2nd Panzer force September 1st 1939. GHQ models on Kallistra hex tiles.

German 1st Infantry uses the “infantry” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
3 infantry = 3 units of 4 rifle squads (4 figures per squad)
1 grenade = 1 unit of 2 horse towed artillery
1 flag and 3 stars: these dice are rerolled to obtain specialist units.
1 infantry = 1 unit of 3 rifle squads and a machine gun team (tripod mounted for sustained fire role)
2 tanks – 2 units of 3 rifle squads and an anti-tank rifle.
1 star = 1 unit of 3 trucks.
At this point I realised that I have only prepared one rifle/AT infantry unit.  Rather than delay this battle I rushed to the toy cupboard to dig out some replacements, so the second unit is Heroics & Ros figures on somewhat different bases, seen in the top left of the picture below. 

German 1st Infantry 1st September 1939. GHQ and Heroics models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.
German 1st Infantry 1st September 1939. GHQ and Heroics models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.

Polish 1st Infantry also uses the “infantry” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
3 infantry = 3 units of 4 rifle squads
2 tanks = 2 units of 3 medium tanks (for a Polish infantry force I used the TKS and TK3 tankettes, one unit with 20mm cannon and one with machine guns)
1 grenade = 1 unit of 2 horse towed guns.
1 flag and 1 star re-rolled.
1 tank = 1 unit of 3 rifle squads and an anti-tank rifle team.
1 star = 1 unit of 3 trucks.

1st Polish Infantry September 1st 1939.  GHQ models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.
1st Polish Infantry September 1st 1939. GHQ models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.

In my next post I will show the forces in detail.

Conquest of Europe – Summer 1792

Note: I am writing this with the limited facilities allowed on the iPad version of WordPress
The post will be allocated to the correct page on the site when I return to the full version.

This is an update to the campaign game played using the RISK game with added concepts from AXIS & ALLIES, to my own rules.

FRANCE began the summer of 1792 with a severe strategic imbalance. Normandy/Brittany was not garrisoned, although a fortress had been built. The majority of the armies were with General Murat in Languedoc/Provence.
Britain was threatening the Nord/Picardy area from Belgium where General Uxbridge had landed a mixed force.
With ¢210,000 in the coffers a new artillery brigade and four infantry brigades were raised.
General Murat hurried north to Picardy with one cavalry brigades to bolster the two infantry brigades there.
An infantry brigade from Paris was moved to the Normandy coast and an artillery brigade marched north to Lorraine/Burgundy.
To maximise income for more forces it was necessary to capture territory. The most likely prospect was Castile/Aragon, held by three British infantry brigades. Two cavalry and one infantry brigades crossed the pyrenees. It was a long shot as the odds were only 7:6 in favour of the French.
The first battle saw honours even with each side losing an infantry brigade, but when the French lost a cavalry brigade for no British loss in the second battle the remaining brigade withdrew to Languedoc/Provence.
The new recruits were posted to join Murat in Picardy. and ¢120,000 income was drawn from the 8 provinces and totality of France.

AUSTRIA had lost Galicia to the Russians in the spring and this was seriously affecting the economy. The neighbouring provinces of Hungary and Transylvania were weakly defended. Only one of these provinces could be reinforced in the summer campaign, so Transylvania was sacrificed in favour of a strong force in Hungary. Although the immediate thought was to create a large force of infantry for defence, it was considered that a mixed force for a counterattack on Galicia in 1793 should be raised. ¢240,000 was spent on three infantry, one artillery and one cavalry brigades.
General Bellegarde rode from Bavaria to Hungary to take charge, and one infantry brigade were sent from each of Bohemia and Austria.
At the same time Saxony was attacked from Bavaria by two cavalry and one infantry brigades. After two inconclusive battles the French were defeated and Austria claimed Saxony (drawing an Artillery card for the victory).
The new recruits were deployed in Hungary with General Bellegarde.
(A three card set of infantry/artillery/cavalry was exchanged for ¢100,000 and ¢80,000 income was gained for the 8 provinces occupied.

PRUSSIA was stretched thinly but not seriously threatened.
A risky but successful raid was mounted on the lone infantry brigade in Holland by one cavalry brigade from Hanover.
The main thrust was made from Wurtemberg/Westfalia against the French in Lorraine/Burgundy. General Pirch led a force of one brigade each of cavalry, infantry and artillery against the French Infantry and artillery force.
With the bonus for a mixed force and another bonus for the presence of Pirch it was a walkover.
Five new infantry brigades joined General Pirch in the newly captured province and Prussia drew a massive ¢250,000 in income from 11 Provinces, Prussian totality and a set of 3 mixed cards.

RUSSIA was now faced with a large force in Hungary but an easy victory in Transylvania. In the north their forces in Lithuania were balanced by the Prussians. A new fleet was commissioned at the cost of ¢120,000 with the plan of sailing troops to the weaker held coastal provinces of Prussia, or possibly the Scandinavian countries.
Three of the infantry brigades in Galicia moved into the fortress captured from the Austrians and two cavalry brigades attacked Transylvania. It was a hard fight with the Russians losing one cavalry brigade before the Austrian infantry brigade was defeated and the province taken.
Russia gained ¢140,000 in income.

GREAT BRITAIN was faced with a problem. There were strong forces in Belgium and in Southern England poised to strike at France but the fleets were abroad and no transport was available for General Hill’s force waiting on the south coast of the homeland.
The fleet off Andalusia sailed to Santander and that in Ostend was brought home.
General Uxbridge in Belgium had to content himself with sending a force to strike at Wurtemberg/Westfalia, now weakly held by the Prussians after their attack on Lorraine/Burgundy. The province was taken for the loss of one infantry brigade.
Britain’s taxes amounted to ¢160,000 for 9 provinces and the control of the United Kingdom and Iberia.

ITALY only had ¢80,000 available and so recruited two infantry brigades.
Unable to attack anywhere in strength, the fleet sailed from Piedmont/Tuscany to the east side of the Two Sicilies.
¢50,000 was received for the 5 provinces occupied and ¢20,000 for control of Italy.

By the end of the Summer France was in a poor position with the homeland invaded from the east and threatened from the north. Austria was losing ground to the east for which the German provinces captured were little compensation. Prussia was in the ascendant with the borders safe and France invaded but stretched thinly elsewhere. Russia was making excellent progress in the south and looking for opportunities in the north. Great Britain was consolidating and preparing for a strike from the sea in 1793 while Italy was holding her own but with little prospect for expansion.

Now winter approached and an end to the fighting for another year.