Friday, June 6, 2014

Big Battles for Small Tables - continued (1)

French I Army Corps marching north through the village of
Klein Bloentubitz.  A Division of II Corps (4th Div) guards the
north east road.
Rules Design Philosophy for Big Battles for Small Tables 
Just recently, Ross Mac, of War Game of the Month commented on my previous posting on this topic with several thoughts and ideas from his own experience.  They have been helpful in clarifying my own thinking.

The view looking south.  A light cavalry brigade leads
1st Division across the Ditschwasser bridge, they being followed
by the Corps artillery park, then the 2nd and 3rd Divisions.

First off, he suggested a 'gunner to gun' scale rather than 'gun to gun'.  As it happens, I do tend to equate gunners with number of guns, using that notion to bring me to a 'gunner to gun' scale.  A four-gun battery has very roughly 100 personnel (not all are gun crew, much less anything more than labourers, but that's by the by).  I place 4 figures with each gun, which gives me, at a figure scale of 1:25 (my current organization), 1 gun model representing 4.  Probably for the Austrian 6-gun battery, 3 of a crew would be suitable, but I tended to fudge it there.  The Austrians had a heck of a lot of guns anyhow (but my Austrian Army ... doesn't).

Now looking northward.  Between each 'unit' there is an interval of
5cm.  The whole column occupies 150cm of roadway.  Given a ground scale of
roughly 3000:1, that is 4.5 km of road.   That's probably a bit skinny for an
Army Corps of 18,000 troops, but it seems to me that will do for my purposes. 
With the 1:200 scale, we have 800 gunners represented for each gun model: 32 guns (I rounded it to 30, but I'll probably stay with 32, as a multiple of 8).  I accept that this really represents the Corps Reserve park, rather than the guns attached to the Divisions themselves.  We might do a little fudging there with the Divisions having a 'shooting range' out beyond what would be musketry range (the next posting will touch in this).  The alternative would be to have guns with a single crew man (representing a 6-8 gun battery), and some rules for reduced effectiveness. Actually, that might not be so difficult if the gunnery rules attach to gun crew figures rather than guns. Doable, but... it would mean a heck of a lot of gun models...

The Hussars lead over the bridge.  Possibly a scouting force of
2 figures could be leading some distance ahead, representing pickets
and patrols, but also including the 'grand guard.'
The fact is, I have only limited numbers of guns anyhow (a deliberate policy, originally, when I had a single Army Corps of 10x24-figure foot regiments in two Divisions; a light cavalry Division of 4x12 figure regiments; an attached heavy Brigade of 1 Cuirassier and 1 Dragoon regiment; and 3, later 4,  batteries of 2 cannon each).  I still have only 8 (possibly 9, though the 9th gun seems to have gone walkabout) for French horse and foot that have near doubled in numbers.
A Division of II Corps (the 4th) guards the side road to the east
against possible enemy incursion from that direction.  The job is
important enough for the II Corps reserve artillery to be attached.

On Ross's second point, concerning musketry, firing would indeed be one rank deep only.  Somehow or other, though, I still have to make the columns 'work'.  The odd thing is, that they might well do, simply for the sake of the gamers' convenience, and for no other reason.  'We'll manoeuvre and fight in columns because it's a chore to do anything more complicated.'  Well, it's an idea - or maybe an approach to an idea!

Third  Division, I Army Corps preserving immaculate marching discipline

In respect of movement, a route march column will be 'by file', that is, column of twos.  In this scale, it does have a look of a road column.  I have determined also that it must be possible to storm defiles on a narrow frontage like this.

Such a road column, using the scales I have in mind have a satisfactory depth without using artificial intervals to depict formations marching en route.
Apparently the French have suffered a reverse
for here is a view of Klein Bloentubitz with the Austrian
V Corps marching south.
Probably a single file column would be more 'accurate' in terms of the amount of road really taken up by a Divisional column of approaching 5000 troops, but here I simply have to go with the 'look of the thing'.  It will also have an effect on the timings of formations deploying 'off the march'.  I want the Army Corps to take up a fair bit of road, and rules devised for estimating times of arrival, with all sorts of amusing delays and frustrations associated.

I also like the idea of Divisional deployment into successive lines being an option, and with skirmishers ahead.  Strictly speaking the skirmish cloud would represent something like the French 'Grande Bandee', or the notably thick skirmish lines deployed by the British.  Other nations will probably be less well served in this regard, skirmishers being limited to Jagers, and, possibly being a bit generous, Austrian Grenzers.  I'm still not certain how generous to be concerning French light infantry.  As I have just three 24-figure units of light infantry (13th, 15th and 17th), they might well become Divisions with a more than usual content of skirmish-capable troops.

The Corps is led by a large force of light horse, and the 3rd
(Advance Guard) Division (Grenze).  Off to the south east
stands a Grenadier Division attached to the Corps.
If one of my Army Corps happened to be commanded by a Marshal Davout, I would incline to a very generous view of its overall level of training.  Judging by some correspondence I have seen between the Marshal and his generals, he and they appear to have been as much students of their military calling as the thorough going professionals they were.  They showed a continued interest in developing and improving upon the skills of their commands, and of themselves as well.  Most other commanders seem much less devoted to professional development of themselves or their commands.

The view from the north.  The lead figures are plastic
(Italeri Hussars and HaT Grenze), the guns and gunners are Minifigs
(I don't know the provenance of the limbers), and the line infantry
and grenadiers are Warrior metal figures.  
At any rate, I'm toying with the idea that specialist light infantry may deploy up to half their formation as skirmishers (the main block being the reserve), and specialist riflemen their whole formation (my riflemen, and some of my jager units, don't amount in size to full Divisions anyway).

In my view the plastics and Warrior metals go quite well together.
This 'Big Battles for Small Tables' project is really going to be 'Old School' stuff: casualty removal, individually based figures (sort of), and variable formation (i.e. unit) sizes as well.  Although the standard Infantry division will have 24 figures, some will have 20, 18 or even 16 figures, as the pictures show. Whatever rules for shooting I adopt will have to accommodate these differences.

A close view of the Grenadier Division.  Not all my Divisions and Corps are the same size,
which calls for a rule set that will take this into account.  A complication, sure, but
my collection has grown in rather a piecemeal fashion over the years...
I do have smaller 'units' of specialist light troops (Jagers and 5/60th Rifles), which will be classed as brigades. To be sure, they aren't to represent a 'Rifle Brigade' as such; more representative of a practice used among several armies of 'brigading' light companies on an ad hoc basis (the French Grande Bandee is a case in point).
Feldmarschall Prinz Liechtenstein overseeing the march.  They
seem to be tactfully ignoring the reeling, obviously drunk,
artillery driver...

I believe there will be a considerable amount of 'fudging' involved in all this.  Rather than starting basic and adding, I will be trying the reverse route: going with what I want, and if it don't work, simplifying it until it does.  

Somewhat belated: I discovered that my 105th follower had joined whilst I was printing up my previous posting.  To I'll take the opportunity here of welcoming  A.W. Kitchen.  Having backtracked through the links, I think this is where you will find his own blog spot: Tin Soldiering On.  I hope I have the title right...
First Division, V Army Corps, passing through wooded country.

Second Division, bringing up the rear.  My V Corps is not large as
such  formations go, just 15,200 strong (76 figures).

Feldmarschall Prinz Liechtenstein with his staff, viewing the march past.
The ADC is Minifigs, the Prince himself an Italieri Austrian
Command figure.  You can see the Grenze are still WIP.

To be continued:  some nostalgia, and campaigns (Napoleonic) of the distant past...


  1. Very nice! Ah, Austrians! My favourite!

    1. I'm very fond of my Austrians as well, especially my Minifigs. My 18th Century Imperialists are also based on the Holy Roman Imperial army (especially the Austro-Hungarians), my Marlburian army is Imperialist; and I even have an Imperialist 30YW army. All these three armies are in plastic. I think I have a 'thing' about the Hapsburg empire.