Thursday, September 4, 2014

Age Of Eagles - Play Test and First Impressions.

Initial set up, somewhere in Russia, 1812.  The figures and most of
the terrain pieces are Geoff's: just the hills, roads. fields and
forest floors were mine.  I was much taken with Geoff's home
 constructed village buildings.
 Although I have been a member of the Age of Eagles Yahoo group for a number of years now, I had, except for a half game (Waterloo, defending the Hougoumont and the Allied right wing) a zillion years ago (pre-earthquake, I think), I hadn't really looked at the rule set, let alone played a game.  A few weeks ago, an occasional war games buddy, Geoff Mahan,  having bought a copy of the rules, suggested we get together for a bit of a game.  As I don't do 15mm myself, we used Geoff's own French and Russian armies.
Map of an 1812 encounter battle between the Corps of
Prince Eugene Beauharnais, and Prince Bagratsyan.
For the purposes of this game I did not want the thing to be altogether symmetrical, but wanted a balanced sort of game with forces approximately well matched.  Choosing 1812 as the year, the Grande Armee having crossed the Nieman, Geoff and I agreed that we would each represent reasonably capable commanders, Princes Eugene de Beauharnais (me) and Prince Bagratsyan (Geoff).  Our subordinate Division commanders would be pretty much the default, adding -1 (i.e. subtracting 1) from the die roll for Reserve Movement (whereas we, if taking over from a Div Cdr would have no such penalty effect).  At this time, both armies are classed as 'columnar' which gives them good manoeuvrability, but rather indifferent fire power.  At a different time period, or taking Davout's Corps in 1812, the French could have been classed as impulse infantry (3 ranks), which would have doubled their musketry effectiveness.

Russian lines, looking southward.
Having added a battle map (I find they add meaning and orientation to photographed pictures), I'll add the orders of battle.  As an encounter battle between semi-independent Army Corps seeking to seize control of a road nexus at the small towns Malenkovo and Bol'shevo, it seemed a reasonably interesting scenario.

French IV Army Corps:  General Prince Eugene:

(Yes: these should have been Italians, then.  I forgot. Geoff doesn't have Italians anyhow)
Heavy Division (attached):
1 Brigade Carabiniers-a-Cheval E 3/2/-
2 Brigades Cuirassiers E 4/3/2
Light Division:
1 Brigade Dragoons R 5/4/3
1 Brigade Lancers R 4/3/2
1 Brigade Chasseurs-a-Cheval R/3/-/2
(Attached to Division) 1 Battery Horse guns
1st Infantry Division:
3 Brigades, each  R 7/5/4 Sk
2nd Infantry Division:
3 Brigades, each R 7/5/4 Sk
Artillery Reserve:
3 Foot Batteries. (We made a bit of a mess of these.  They should have been assigned to divisions, with the French (having fewer divisions as such) retaining a Corps Reserve.)
This force represented a whisker over 20,000 troops: a little over 15,000 foot and 4,000 horse, with 30-32 cannon.

Russian: General Prince Bagratsyan

(I don't like the spelling 'Bagration', which in my view works only if you pronounce it as a Frenchman would).
Heavy Cavalry Division (attached):
2 Brigades Cuirassiers E 4/3/2
1 Brigade Lancers E 4/3/2
Light Division:
2 Brigades Light Horse, each R 4/3/2
1 Battery (attached) Horse Artillery;
1st Infantry Division:
3 brigades each R 7/5/4
2nd Infantry Division:
2 Brigades each R 7/5/4
3rd Infantry Division:
2 brigades each R 7/5/4
Artillery reserve:
3 Foot Batteries.
This force, at about 22,000 was slightly larger than the French: stronger in infantry (over 17.500)  and artillery (maybe 40 guns - although the number of batteries was the same, the Russians are slightly more effective under these rules), but weaker in cavalry (3,600).

The numerical disparity in Russia's favour - not to mention its superior artillery - was thought to be partially offset by the French infantry's skirmish capability.
Overall battlefield, looking northward.

Even in organising the armies, we failed to appreciate some of the niceties, in particular where the artillery fitted into the order of battle.
Russians deploying, their commander seeing to their alignment...
Then we gradually got the hang of distinguishing between Reserve and Tactical Movement, and which columns in the March table we were supposed to be looking at when dicing for reaction to orders - oh, and which column of modifiers....
French light cavalry on the move.  They
were mostly to remain pretty inert for ther
But right from the start I found my formations being broken up by several brigades simply failing to get under way, and once a brigade stalls, it takes a while to get it moving again.  Unfortunately our misunderstanding of the rule set exacerbated that annoyance as we had inferred that the artillery batteries were subject to the same rules for movement.  Towards the end of the day, I discovered our error.  The guns' relative freedom of movement would have made it possible to form a reasonable advanced gun line to amuse the enemy and provide cover for our own advances.
Russian early moves.
The overall effect of this was to scramble every attempt at coordinating a Division's activities.   How can you plan a Divisional attack if you have to count on a proportion of its strength being unavailable on account of a dilatory commander, I ask you?  I some respects I'd rather the whole Division stalled or advanced as one - and maybe a 'Divisional Order' rule is worth thinking about.
View of the Russian right flank.  The large ridge southeast
of Bol'shevo was classed as rough going over its entire surface.
It might be argued this affects both sides equally, but I'm not so sure about that - even in an encounter battle like this one.  The large ridge east of the villages, as an obstacle to Russian movement, had one beneficial effect, as did the stream.  Slowing the movement rate down reduced the effects somewhat of tardy brigades (though I rather formed the impression that Geoff was overall luckier in his brigades' celerity of movement).  Unless I am quite wrong in my early impression, I reckon an aggressively minded player will be somewhat disadvantaged over one more circumspect.
Russian centre
So, with the Russians delayed somewhat by the terrain, and the French by obtuse and insubordinate brigade commanders (except for the Heavy Cavalry brigade which, after an early hiccup, manoeuvred right well throughout the day), it took most of the day for both sides to get into action (and this with a table no more than 4 foot wide!).
Russian left wing, approaching the Malenkovo village.
French light cavalry steadfastly maintaining its ground.... much to
'Eugene's' disgust.
...gradually - I have always found that, unless there is a lot of player interaction, IGoUGo game systems tend to be slow moving - ...
So much for a coordinated advance: one brigade out of three
out of the 2nd Division obeyed orders to advance upon Malenkovo.
'Er, uhm... yes, well... aren't there Russians in that village?'
'Sacre nom de dix-mille chiens! There soon bally will be, Cochon,
  if you don't move! Allez-vous en!'
... the armies...

A rather washed out picture of 1st Division
 doing its bit to avoid confrontations with the enemy.
.. drew closer...

An even more washed out pic of the one formation that performed well all day:
the heavy cavalry Division.
... together...

Looking east toward Malenkovo.
I had hoped to seize the both villages before the Russians could effectively intervene, and then abide the attacks that would no doubt be 'Bagratsyan's' response.  This attempt proved successful at Bol'shevo, as 1st Brigade marched on the place with scarcely a falter.  But, upon almost reaching the outskirts of Malenkovo, 6th Brigade, possibly apprehending a Russian presence already in the place, and maybe concerned about the lack of support from 4th and 5th Brigades, suddenly halted.  From there, it could scarcely be moved again before the Russian 3rd Division did indeed begin entering the place from the east side.
Prince Eugene supervising the advance of 1st Division,
and the race for Bol'shevo.
The advance of 1st Divison was equally uncoordinated, mainly owing to the dilatoriness of the artillery (entirely due, as I said earlier, to our misunderstanding of the rules).  At that, I still find the thing counter-intuitive: that cavalry and infantry brigades are subject to the vagaries of fortune how they behave, but gun batteries simply do as they are bid.
The dilatoriness of the French 2nd Division has meant that it
will have to fight to take Malenkovo - if indeed it can!
The oblique order in the above picture - the 4th Brigade is just out of picture to the left rear - was entirely adventitious, and not at all an outcome I desired.
From behind French lines looking up at Bagratsyan's Ridge.
Meanwhile 3rd Brigade advanced close under the big ridge - dubbed by the French 'Bagration's Ridge' - where it came under the undivided attention of two Russian batteries and two Brigades. Now here, I simply forgot that it was permissible to refuse a flank and so bring the whole line into action. Not that it would have mattered a whole lot: 3rd Brigade hung on in its isolated position for a couple of moves before being driven back by a 'telling fire' (loss of one stand out of 7, and disordered as well).  They drew back to form a line with 2nd Brigade.
Why has the French artillery been so dilatory?  'Cos we didn't
read the rules properly, is why.  Third Brigade, isolated as it is,
 is unhappily eyeing the hosts arrayed against them...
A close action at last developed between the French 2nd Division and the Russian 2nd and 3rd Divisions.  Sixth Brigade held its own momentarily against the whole of the enemy 3rd Division before being forced to relinquish its hold upon the western half of the village.  However, this reverse was requited by the success of 4th Brigade, with artillery support from a flank, driving off their counterparts in a brief fire fight.
The French 2nd Division at last forming a coherent array,
but its three brigades are facing four Russian.  At least some help is coming
from artillery out of picture to the left.

First Brigade completes its occupation of Bol'shevo, but 3rd Brigade
has been forced back with some loss and in some disorder.  Second Brigade
with a battery attached, is coming up (slowly) in support.
But the most spectacular action of the day, which earned the 1st Cuirassier Brigade, and its commander, a Mention in Despatches, was its defeat of two Russian cavalry brigades in quick succession.  Seeing an enemy heavy cuirassier formation a short distance east of Bol'shevo, General Etienne Cointreau thought to chance the arms of his troopers, and ordered the charge.  This naturally drew the attention of enemy artillery on the ridge, whose fire was enough to disorder the Frenchmen in their career.  Nothing loth, they swept into the countercharging enemy horse, and in a trice drove them back (the respective rolls were France 9 - Russia 1 - a +8 differential reduced to +6 owing to French disorder, and a 'Driven Back!' result).
The charge of 1st Cuirassier Brigade.  Despite a lively flanking artillery fire
during its initial charge, the Cuirassiers swept away the leading Russian heavy cavalry
thundered on and threw back the supporting Uhlans as well.
 Then, they stood their ground unflinching under a heavy close range bombardment...
'Onward!' bellowed the French commander, 'En avant!'  For close behind the enemy first line stood another - a brigade of uhlans that he mistook for a second line of cuirassiers (actually Geoff and I both forgot they were actually uhlans - the other cuirassier brigade was the one standing on the northern ridge observing the entertainment below).  Wonder of wonders, once again the French horse were spectacularly successful, and more Russian horse deemed it meet to take the road east (amazingly enough, the die rolls were again respectively 9-1 - Geoff was certainly as unlucky with his combat dice as I had been with my 'March' rolls). Now I'm pretty sure that this result did not permit mes chevaliers to charge on against a third close target (something to check out), so there they remained, on the ground so well won.  And there they came under close range artillery fire that was enough to leave cuirassiers shaken, but not enough to compel a withdrawal.  But that left the cuirassiers completely immobile: sitting ducks.  Surely they would simply have bugged out, whether compelled to do so by force majeure, or under orders, one way or the other?

Heavy fighting about Malenkovo at the close of the action.  Sixth
French) Brigade was forced out of the village, but 4th Brigade,
 helped by supporting flanking artillery, caused some loss
 and disorder in the enemy ranks.

Considering the amount of time trying to decipher the game mechanics and the slowness of movement (ironic given that I chose columnar for speed of movement!), we didn't really get much action in.  But I believe we did learn something about how the game is supposed to go.  

Personally, I found the vagaries of Reserve Movement particularly exasperating.  This would only partially have been mitigated by knowing that the artillery were not meant to be subject to such vicissitudes.  It seems to me - only further play tests will confirm this or otherwise - that a Divisional attack must be problematic if you can not count on brigades acting in concert.  Defence is less problematical in this regard, there being more time available to repair irregularities in the line. Before leaving this, let me say that my impressions are in terms of a two-player game.  At the same time, I am inclined to look at the solo-play potential, and in the regard, the sort of thing that in my view  is likely to detract from a two-player/multi-player game, may well be very desirable features of a solo game.

Moving on, possibly the oddest thing about Age of Eagles and its companion Fire and Fury is the astonishing number of guns you seem to need.  Of the three battle scenarios offered (Austerlitz, Dresden and Quatre Bras), the last is the smallest and handiest, playable on a 3.5ft x 4ft playing surface.  This calls for:
200 infantry figures (50 stands), 72 cavalry figures (36 stands) and 6 guns - not an unreasonable ratio of guns to figures, but;
Anglo-Dutch (sic):
376 infantry figures (94 stands), 26 horse (13 stands) and 11 guns.  Eleven cannon!
In the Dresden battle the Allies require 66 model cannon.  

Sheesh!  Too rich for my blood.  My French army at present comprises 568 foot (not counting 8 sappers), 148 horse and 8 or maybe 9 cannon.  A couple more cannon might well be called for, but I don't think I'd want to go for the ratios we are looking at here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Game Mechanics

  1. This posting has been a long time coming, not so much as I have thought a heck of a lot about the things I want to talk about, but I wanted to get my French III Army Corps pretty much in 'finished' condition before posting.  In this I will be responding to a couple of interesting comments to my last posting, which raised points well worth thinking about in game design.
  2. French III Army Corps on parade. 
    Sun of YorkJuly 31, 2014 at 4:01 AM
    What you are describing reminds me of Napoleon's Battles, but at double the scale (i.e. NB uses one figure represents 120 infantry). Reading your descriptions seems to be in line with what those rules came up with (namely one turn was 30 minutes).

    I haven't considered it any further than that, but the real challenge seems to be the depth units occupy on the table top. A Formation in march column can take up an awful lot of road (or it should). Getting that right for the scale you are considering is key I think.

    I am keen on coming up with a system that allows substantial games (i.e. were I'm commanding at least a corps) to be played on a decent table (4x6) in three hours (time available at the club less set up and pack up time - which needs to be short). In the same games I would like to see some operational maneuvering. The immediate scenario I have to mind is the Prussian march to Waterloo.


    1. You make some good points that I think I will discuss in my next posting.
    2. To begin with, what does a war games Army Corps look like on a road march?  I thought I would check it out with the following pictures of III Army Corps marching along a road.

    3. III Army Corps on route march.
      It occupies nearly 80 inches (200cm)
      of roadway.
      The dining table in the pictures in 5 foot long.  The column, comprising a Light Horse Division, 4 infantry Divisions (VII through to X), the Corps Artillery train and a logistics element, plus the Marshal and his staff, occupies rather more road than this.  Let us allow 10 inches for each of the infantry and cavalry Divisions (actually 24cm), and 10 inches each also for the artillery train and the logistics train.  Add a further 2 inches for the staff, and, say 1 inch for the intervals between each Division and train, we arrive at a total of 7x10" + 2" + 7x1" = 79".
      'The snake must be very thin somewhere,' quoth Pres. Lincoln
      in respect of Genl Lee's marching army in June 1863.  Well, here
      it is in 1805...
      Now, the ground scale I have in mind equates 21 inches on the table as about a mile, or 13 inches close to a kilometre.  Our column, then, occupies some 3.75 miles, or 6 Kilometres. That seems like a fair bit, but this Army Corps represents a force of  22,000+ - surely they must occupy more than 3-4 miles of roadway!
      Overhead view of a 22,000+ strong Army Corps on
      the march
       This is where time scale comes in.  At a rate of 3 kilometres an hour - not what you'd call a fast pace - a scale road march in our time scale of 1 bound to 1 hour, would clear this road in two war game turns.  Tenth division, bringing up the rear of the column in the above picture would be well clear of the woods in one turn, and off the table in the next.  Three kilometres to scale is 39 inches; 6 kilometres 78 inches - you'd just be in time to see the tail end of 10th Division disappearing beyond the village.  An Army Corps of 3 Infantry Divisions (as most of mine are) would have quite vanished in two moves.
      Here is added a tape measure to show the scale
      The table is 5 foot long, the column about 19 inches
      longer than that.
      I don't want this rate of movement, as all other movement scaled to some reasonable proportion of the road march would be zapping around the table in a most un-Napoleonic fashion.   Rather than look to extending the road column to single file, obtaining a 6-7 mile length of roadway occupied by the marching column, let's look instead at the time factor.  My reason is that I like the look of the road column as shown in the pictures. How can we make this look work for us?   What I suggest is a rate of march that tells us the time taken to pass a single point, given our chosen time scale of 1 bound represents 1 hour.
      Third Corps logistics element: a caisson by HaT -
       under-scale compared with the metal figures of the rest of the Corps.
       As it happens I have lit upon 30cm (near on 12" - 10" route march, plus 2" bonus on a roadway) as my rate of road march.  At that rate, it would take III Corps 7 war game (table top) moves to pass by a single point - 7 moves before its tail cleared the road pictured and disappeared off table.  This Corps occupies a length of roadway the equivalent of slightly less than 7 hours march (6 hours and 35 minutes if you want to be precise) - and remember how road distances were often expressed in terms of time - marches, stages and what have you: i.e. how long it should take you to get from A to B.  The question remains whether 7 hours is after all too long, and the road march ought to be extended to reduce this time.
      Logistics elements may be represented by a caisson, cart,
      wagon or ambulance.  At 10" (750m)  of roadway they occupy
       much less than they would in reality... 
      This brings me to the closely related comment below, which addresses the problem in a more general way.
  3. Just to fit the scale to my head, without checking any maps the bulk of Waterloo would fit on a 8ftx6ft table ( or 2.6ish meters x close to 2)?

    I'm afraid your approach to time and movement will lead you astray if you play an historical refight. It might work if a corps were formed in a block and just moving with no enemy in sight instead of bring various components moving in fits and starts.

    My preference would be to sit down with a dozen historical engagements, divide the historical tine from start to finish into periods of the appropriate length and then look at the corps, divisions and brigades and see how far they moved in thst equivalent and whether or not attacks were resolved in 1 turn or 2 or more and keep an eye on that when doing your combat rules.

    To me the key question is "is it possible for units to accomplish what they did historically in the same time period"


    1. A similar question has crossed my mind, though mainly in the context of the process of deployment off the march prior to a battle. For example, my I Army Corps, with 3 Infantry Divisions, 1 cavalry Brigade and its artillery will take 5 turns to pass a given point of a road - 5 hours in scaled time. Bearing in mind that that is not including any logistical elements integral to the Corps. Call it half a day, then. That seems to me ample - but I believe the matter interesting enough to discuss it more at large in my next posting.
    2. Third army Corps on parade.
      The idea of trying out a known battle with a (fairly) well known timetable struck me as a good one, and what better than to begin perhaps with something like Waterloo.  At which I bethought myself to the classic old SPI board game Napoleon at Waterloo.  As the basic game uses Divisions and Army Corps artillery as its tactical pieces, it would just about be ideal for this kind of treatment.  Researches are ongoing to determine whether these cardboard counters might be translatable into the sort of table game I'm after.   I believe the 'Sun of York' might be as interested in this notion.
      The SPI game from long ago: Napoleon at Waterloo: basic version.
      Does anyone still play this?
      Third Corps on parade.
      Otherwise, it seemed to me that the approach I have been taking does indeed address Ross Mac's concerns, by making the critical scale that of time, rather than of distance (ground).  I have a feeling that I am more likely to err on the side of allowing for too little than too much activity per turn owing to the approach I have taken.  No doubt as play testing proceeds, we will find out one way or the other.
      Work in progress: 11th and 12th divisions of IV Army Corps
      The latter is under establishment (only 20 figures), but as it is represented by a
      light infantry unit (15th), will have double the standard skirmish capability.
      Naturally there will be fudge factors built in, but I want to test the limits of what needs to be fudged.  A case in point - a topic of a posting currently in draft - is the manner in which the Fire and Fury system (in its Napoleonic incarnation Age of Eagles) fudges its brigade formations. A brigade in the AoE system formed up into a line of battalions in line, is totally indistinguishable in appearance from a brigade forming a line of battalions in column.  At that, the effect is to give both formations a linear appearance.  Although this effect is somewhat mitigated by the facility in which linear or columnar or 'impulse' formations move and shoot, I find it hard to go past the physical appearance.  A supported line might represent a brigade formed up in two successive lines; or two lines of battalion columns. Because intervals are maintained between columns the brigade frontage is the same. But the whole thing simply looks like a brigade column - not at all what the formation is supposed to represent.   By the way, skirmishers are never depicted as such.  Their effect is achieved by extending the range at which a unit may fire.  Another fudge.  All this doesn't detract from the overall aesthetic appearance of the game, but I wonder if it isn't just a little bit misleading?
      Work in progress: 13th and 14th Divisions of IV Army Corps.
      This Corps comprises quite an eclectic mix of several manufactures,
      many of a provenance completely unknown to me.
      Several were picked up as odd handfuls at past swap meets.
      But that will affect my rule set as well.  In the scale I am looking at, may I depict a cloud of skirmishers after all?  How about formations internal to the Division?   At what rate should Divisions be allowed to change their formation - to deploy or 'reploy' - to form line or dual lines. What, in the latter case, would be the effect, say, of the first line sustaining a reverse?  I may yet be forced into an AoE-like fudge, but there's no harm in - and possibly a lot to be said in favour of - testing how far we can go in depicting what goes on inside a Division.
      Work in progress: IV Army Corps less its Light Cavalry
      (I have a lancer unit in mind for this), its artillery and
      it logistics element.

  4. My thanks to Sun of York and Ross Mac for providing me with something to talk about in [this] posting!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Big battles for Small tables - Some design comments.

Rather than record actual rules just yet, I wish to relate some of the thinking behind what I hope to achieve.

Right off, the aim is an 'Old School' set: removing casualty figures, fistsful of dice, keeping moral and reaction very simple. As an army level game I still want to retain minor tactics to as low a scale as can be achieved given the extremely high man-to-figure (tentatively 200:1) ratio.  I have often read - in terms quite prescriptive considering this is an amateur hobby - that army or army corps level games preclude any consideration to what happens at Division or Brigade level.  Sez who?  I sure lord want to test that!

1: First of all, some clarifications of nomenclature:

Formation (big F):  A Brigade, Division, Army Corps or Army.  Also under this label comes a Column (big C).
formation (little f): The manner in which a body of troops is formed up e.g. - column, line, or skirmish order.
Column (big C):  An independent or autonomous Formation (big F) comprising at least two arms.
column (little c): a formation (little f) that comprises several lines - at least three - arranged one behind the other on a 2-company frontage in the case of battalion columns; a battalion or regimental frontage in the case of Brigade or Division columns.

Work in progress, III Army Corps: 4 Infantry Divisions, 1 Cavalry Brigade
and Artillery.  The last will probably be based somehow
 (see infra)

2. Army Composition

The standard tactical units (tacunit) - in fact a Formation - will be the infantry Division, comprising anything from 16 to 48 figures, and the cavalry Brigade, comprising 8-16 figures.  This tacunit may form:
-  a column of march 2 figures broad (file);
-  a battlefield or assault column comprising at least 3 ranks and no more than 6 single files;
-  a deployed formation of one or more single rank lines, possibly with skirmishers deployed ahead;
-  some sort of  ordre mixte  formation yet to be determined..
In general, artillery will represent the Army Corps artillery inventory total, but may represent simply the reserve, with divisional artillery represented separately, with just one or two crew figures representing a smaller battery.

A tactical subunit, representing formal or ad hoc Brigades or Brigade-sized detachments may be formed from groups of up to 16 infantry figures, though probably more often in the range of 4 -12, and 4-8 cavalry (for campaign work cavalry pickets of 2 figures may be included in the rules, though these are unlikely to have any on-table presence or significance.  Yes, yes, 400 troopers is a bally big 'picket' but it would represent something a bit more complicated: scouts, pickets, grand guard and reserve). Most often these will be specialist detachments such as light infantry intended for a skirmisher role, or engineer detachments performing an engineering task.

A Column may comprise  two or more arms: horse and foot, horse and guns, foot and guns.  It may also comprise all three.  An ad hoc all arms Formation possibly rather weaker than a standard Army Corps strength, may well be described as a Column, or informally as a corps, rather than the more formal expression (Army) Corps.

At present, my French Army is looking something like this:
I Corps:  3xInfantry Divisions @ 24 figures; 1x light cavalry Brigade @ 12; 1xgun @ 4 figures. (Total 88 figures)
II Corps: As I Corps
III Corps:  4xInfantry Divisions @ 24 figures; 1xlight cavalry Brigade @ 12; 1xgun (Total 112 figures)
IV Corps: As III Corps.
V Corps: As I Corps.
VI Corps: As I Corps.
Imperial Guard: Old Guard Division @ 20 figures; Middle and Young Guard Divisions @ 24 figs;
1x 12pr gun; Engineer detachment @8 figs (?) (Total 80 figures)
A rather fuzzy photo of the Old Guard.  The figures have
been eked out by a couple of shako wearing guys... Even so,
at 20 figures, this is the smallest Division in the French
Order of Battle.
Cavalry Corps:  3xCuirassier Brigades @ 12 figures; 3xDragoon Brigades @ 12 figures; 1 horse gun. (Total 76 figures)
Grand Total: 732 figures, not counting generals and their staffs.

The other armies are looking a bit more complicated.  So far only the Austrian Army  looks anywhere complete, and then nearly every Army Corps is different:
I Corps: 3xInfantry Divisions @ 24 figures; 1 Jager Brigade @ 12 figures; 1 Uhlan Brigade @ 12 figures; 1x6pr gun. (Total 100 figures)
II Corps: 2xHungarian Infantry Divisions @ 24 figures; 1xHungarian Grenadier Division @ 24 figures; 1xFreikorps Jager 'Division' @ 18 figures; 1xChasseur Brigade @ 8 figures; 1x12pr gun.  (Total 102 figures)
III Corps:  3xInfantry Divisions@ 24 Figures; 1 Jager Brigade @ 12 figures; 1 (Light?) Dragoon Brigade @ 12 figures; 1x6pr gun. (Total 100 figures)
IV Corps: 2x Infantry Divisions @ 24 figures; 1 Grenze Division @ 24 figures, 1 Hussar Brigade @ 16 figures; 1x6pr gun. (Total 92 figures)
V Corps: 2x Infantry Divisions @ 20 and 18 figures; 1x Grenadier Division @ 16 figures; 1 Grenze Division @ 24 figures; 1 Hussar Brigade @ 16 figures; 1x 6pr gun. (Total 98 figures)
I Reserve Corps: 2x Grenadier Divisions @ 24 and 16 figures; 1 Cuirassier Brigade @ 12 figures; 1 (Heavy) Dragoon Brigade @ 12 figures; 1x 12 pr heavy gun; 2x 3pr light guns. (Total 76 figures).
Grand Total: 568 figures, not counting generals and their staffs.

3. Scale.

This remains fairly tentative, but is looking like this:
Figure scale: 1 figure represents 200 men.
Artillery (model) scale: Taking 100 men to maintain, transport and serve 4 guns (a trifle generous), a model gun with 4 crew figures will represent an artillery corps of 800 men, and hence 32 guns.   However, it is the size of the crew that will determine the size of battery represented.  A gun with a single crew figure would represent a battery of 8 guns only.

Ground Scale: 1 centimetre represents 30 meters - a scale of 1:3000.  In Imperial measures, 1 inch represents 250 foot, or 83 yard and 1 foot.

Time scale:  1 minute represent 1 hour.
A Light Horse (chasseur) Brigade in a battlefield column.
It probably represents successive regimental lines,
rather than a column as such.
Now, I want to discuss this at some length.  Over many years, this topic has been discussed, a lot of concern being expressed about the necessity for fudging this aspect.  When a game turn represented, say, 3 minutes, and an army level game achieved a decisive result in 10 turns, we found a big battle as we imagined it, having taken all day to play, being over in a flash (so to speak) - a single half-hour.  Something didn't quite gel.

We tended to introduce some kind of 'fudge factor' that transformed this perceived anomaly into a reasonable time-frame - 3 or 5 hours, say.  But the fudge factor never did feel convincing.
A Light Horse Brigade on march column.  Though I accept
that at two figures broad, the column is far from as deep
as it should be, I prefer this 'fudge' as more visually
pleasing than a single file.
It was a recent reminder of several 'small worlds' fantasies that I read long ago that gave me a different approach to the problem.  Some of you will recall Terry Pratchett's The Carpet People or his Bromeliad trilogy; or T.H White's Mrs Masham's Repose; or Mary Norton's The Borrowers; or even Lilliput from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.  I recall thinking about scaled distances and something of  the carpet people, and wondered how time would be perceived by minute people.  It is apparent by watching insects that their perception of time (insofar they have any such perception) would tend to make our minute seem like a considerably longer time - possibly even an hour or more - to them.

It became quickly clear that there was no directly proportional relationship between downward linear (much less volume) scaling and time scaling.  But what was this relationship?  Thinking about it again just recently, Galileo provided the answer.  Imagine a two-meter tall person Call him Al, and two counterparts scaled to 2cm (1:100 scaling, call him Bert) and even to 2mm (1:1000, call this chap Colin).  All three hold at head high a weight, which they drop.  Now, the time intervals between release and the weights thudding into the ground will obviously differ according to the actual height released.  But the perception of all three individually for the time taken for their own particular object to reach the ground will be the same.

This notion is actually quite familiar to anyone who has seen movies that used scaled models to depict destruction - train crashes, building collapses and the like.  The two metre guy will note that his object took about 0.64 seconds to fall.  The others will also note that according to their miniature time pieces the time was exactly the same.  But to an independent observer timing all three, Bert's weight takes 0.064 seconds to fall (one tenth the 'Al's' time), and Colin's a whisker over 0.02 of a second.  There's your relationship.  Time scale is the square root of physical scale.  If you scale (linear) size down by a factor of 100, then the time should be scaled by a factor of 10.
Chasseurs in march column.  On table, it is likely these troops
in this formation, will be in a hurry, hence their fairly
generous move rate.
In the matter of war gaming, we don't scale down according to figure scale, but to the environment in which these figures 'live' - the ground scale.  For instance, if you decide that your ground scale should be 1 inch to 10 yards (Charles Grant's The War Game scale, i.e. 1:360), then the time scale 'should' be in the ball park of 1:19 - call it 1:20, just to keep things simple.  If a turn represents a minute's action in 'real life', it represents 20 minutes on the table.  Three turns is an hour; thirty-six turns a 12-hour day.

Now, my BB4ST ground scale purports to be 1:3000, which implies that the time scale should be roughly 1:55 (55x55=3025 - pretty close).  Let's round it out to an even 1:60 - 1 minute represents an hour.  A 12-hour day will be represented by 12 war game turns.

A Chasseur Brigade in line.  The frontage is quite broad,
which probably would interfere with other troops' manoeuvring.
A thin line like this might find a charging column of
enemy horse hard to cope with; but if it does hold,
the enemy might find escape more than problematical.
We do run into a little bit of a problem, though.  Infantry marching at 6km per hour - pretty brisk, granted - travels in one minute 100 meters even. On my ground scale, this is 3.33cm - not what you would call greased lightning.  We must be able to move faster than that!

On the other hand this minute is supposed to represent an hour, but  6km is represented by 2 meters on the table.  As my table is just 6 foot long, my infantry can traverse its entire length in less than one bound.  No, this won't do either.  The thing has to be somewhere in between 3.33cm and 200cm - but there's a heck of a lot of 'between'!  Looking for a 'fudge' with some purported mathematical basis, I took an idea from 'perspective geometry.'  I decided that the move distance per bound, call it M, would be defined by this equation, the units being centimetres:
200/M = M/3.33
        M^2 = 200 x 3.33
      = 666
         M  = sqrt(666)
                          = 26 approximately.
Let's simplify this as 25cm, for a foot formation that allows for celerity of movement: the march column.

4.Rules for Movement:

Just to make things simple, and as 6km an hour is a pretty fast rate of travel, I'm inclined therefore to round things down, thus:
Infantry in march column: 25cm (10 inch) + 5cm (2 inch) on a roadway.  The assumption here is that nearing the battlefield, the troops are probably moving 'at the double'.  All other movement is geared around this benchmark.
Infantry in skirmish order: 25cm (10 inch) (I have some doubts about this provision)
Infantry in battlefield (or assault) column: 20cm (8 inch).
Infantry in line: 15cm (6 inch).
Infantry in square: 5cm (2 inch).
Light Cavalry in march column: 50cm (20 inch) + 10cm (4 inch) on a roadway.
Light Cavalry in battlefield column: 40cm (16 inch).
Light Cavalry in line: 30cm (12 inch)
Heavy Cavalry (includes 'heavy' Dragoons) in March Column: 40cm (16 inch)
Heavy Cavalry in battlefield column: 35cm (14 inch)
Heavy cavalry in line: 30cm (12 inch)  
I am making the assumption here that the breadth of the formation is a bit of an equalizer as far as the manoeuvrability of light and heavy cavalry is concerned.   I also have a feeling that at Brigade level, successive lines of regiments - which is what a column in my game represents - would be the preferred formation.  The outcome of a fight between a cavalry column versus a cavalry line then would then be predicated on whether the column could break through the line before becoming enveloped by the enemy line.  At this point, I am thinking in terms of giving the column a slight combat advantage, but a victory to the line being the more destructive of the enemy cohesion and morale.  Comments?
Corps Artillery: the one gun represents the Corps' entire
inventory of cannon.  The four crew figures indicates this
represents 32 guns - 4 x 8-gun companies.
Horse Artillery (3-4pr, 'light' 6pr) limbered: 35cm (14 inch)
Horse Artillery manhandled: 10cm (4 inch)
Foot Artillery ('heavy' 6pr, 8-9 pr, 5.5"-7" howitzers) limbered: 30cm (12 inch)
Foot Artillery manhandled: 5cm (2 inch)
Heavy Foot Artillery (12pr; 8" howitzer): 25cm (10 inch).
Heavy Foot Artillery may not be manhandled except to change front.
At the scale we are looking at, this might well be too much detail.  In that case, the default rules for all artillery will be those for the 'Foot Artillery'. 
Foot Routing: 30cm (12 inch) These guys aren't hanging around!
Light Horse Routing: 60cm (24 inch)
Heavy Horse Routing: 50cm (20 inch)

A tentative basing system for my artillery: an isosceles triangle
cut from a 7cm square piece of cardboard (i.e. 7cm frontage,
and 7cm between the frontage and the point opposite.  The angles
indicate the arc of fire.   Representing a little over 200 yards a 7cm frontage
is admittedly a tight squeeze for  32 guns.  
As this posting is already pretty lengthy, I will stop here, and resume later on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Just recently Karen and I flew to Oz to visit daughter Ursula and her man, Aiden.  They live in Redcliffe, a short distance north of Brisbane, where the climate in July is sunny and mild - or at least it was while we were there.  It was while there we took in the annual mediaeval festival.

A couple of jousting knights.  This extreme sport of heretofore
seems to attract as many women practitioners as men, and
they are bally good at it, too.
This is quite a big affair: plenty going on and to see, plenty to buy as well, if you're so inclined.  Possibly the highlight is the jousting, although I was especially interested in the cannon and Late Mediaeval handgun (man, these guns are loud - you'd frighten an enemy just with the noise!).  There was also archery (long bows - I don't recall seeing any crossbows, now that I think on it), wrestling (missed that), foot combats, and plenty of souvenir shops and workshops featuring armour, weaponry, clothes, food, drink, ... you name it.

I could have taken a whole lot of pictures, if I had remembered to get some batteries for the camera.  The first five of these are from the internet, but convey well the colour and flavour of the event.
Action in the Tournament.  The combats here are on foot.
The Varangian Guard were popular.  There were two groups of these guys.  I have no idea why. The lamellar armour of the guardsman on the left is very striking.
One of the groups of Varangian Guard.
The helmeted rube in the picture below is myself, moustaches hidden by the throat-protecting mail.  The stick I'm clinging to is in fact a rather crude battleaxe.  No pretty weapon, it would probably be effective enough in action.
Myself in a vaguely Viking sort of helmet.
The thing was fairly heavy, but not uncomfortably so.

Helmets, halberds and hauberks ...
...harmour for the haughty.
One of the more interesting exhibits for me were the mediaeval board games.  In visiting last year, Karen brought back for me a little booklet on mediaeval board games: chapters of Tafl games (the inspiration, I believe, for Terry Pratchett's Thud! game), Morris games, Chess variants, Rithomachia (the Philosopher's game), draughts types, race, and Fox-and-Geese type games.  A very informative little book, actually!
Rithomachia - the Philosopher's Game - a game for
arithmeticians, really.  Four down on the left side, and
four up and one in from the right are the Black and White
'pyramids', comprising 5 (Black) or 6 (White) individual
pieces.  A most peculiar looking game.
Unfortunately, although there were a few examples of these games on display, including a chess set, no one seemed to know how to play them.  I had hoped (as I was passing) to 'get in' a game of Mediaeval Chess, which I know how to play (that is to say, I know the rules up to and including the 'King's leap'), but have (as far as I can remember)  never actually played.  Never mind.  There were plenty of other things to see.
It was a great day, a well organised event in balmy weather.