Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Something a bit ... different.

It was when commenting in my previous posting, and thinking about 'Pickett's Charge' in terms of time elapsed from the order to attack, to General Armistead's crossing the stone wall into the Union postion, that I was reminded of something I have been meaning to for quite some time.  I recalled a National Geographic article in the Gettysburg and Vicksburg centenary issue of  National Geographic (Vol 124, Nr 1, July 1963), which showed some very fine maps of the unfolding action.

Double-plus page spread of Gettysburg, Day One.

Detail of the first day's encounter battle.
Gettysburg: the second day.

Gettysburg: the third day.

Detail of what was to become popularly known as ...
Pickett's Charge.

These images have always been a favorite with me, since seeing this at age 12.  I longed to do something of the sort myself.   Many, many years later, but so long ago now I don't recall precisely when - early 1980s, I think - I did embark on such a project.  And here is the result.
Having read Wiley Sword's (now there's a name!) Shiloh: Bloody April (1974), I meticulously copied, by hand, all the many maps included in the narrative.  I highly recommend that book by the way.  But as I found it very difficult to follow the overall first day action, I made a kind of combined map.   It seemed to me that this map could be given the 'National Geographic' treatment.  The following pictures show details from the map, in a vague chronological order as the events unfolded.
The Confederate Army approaching the somnolent Union Army
early of an April morning, 1862.
Beginning with the bottom left corner, we have the Confederate Army drawn up in successive Army Corps lines, according to the scheme drawn up by General P.G.T. Beauregard.  For the purposes of this map, the brigades of each Corps were identified by their flag designs. Hardee (III Corps) had gone for a blue flag with a white roundel or oval;  Bragg (II Corps) I issued an early 'Stars and Bars' battle flag; Polk's troops (I Corps) have the flag he designed, and I gave Breckinridge (Reserve Corps) a version of the well-known Beauregard-designed flag.
Peabody's and Prentiss's stand against the whole Confederate Army
I have to admit I never did finish the thing properly.  I notice now (having looked at this thing for the first time in years), that the flags of Hardee's Corps (really a Division) were neglected. And a few figures were overlooked as well.
I liked the idea of adding, again comme ├ža National Geographic, a narrative in panels around the map.  I could have designed them better, but they do help to follow what's going on, I think.
Taken by surprise Sherman's Division, later joined by McClernand's
 is gradually forced back.
Annoyingly, I too hastily drew the trees in with felt pen, a decision I greatly regret.  Nor is there much I can do about it, neither.  For the rest, the figures were drawn with water based ink pens...
The Hornet's Nest.  General Ruggles's 64-gun battery can be seen
upper left of the picture.
 ... and painted with gouache and water colours.The background is simply a watercolour wash.
Envelopment of the Hornet's Nest position.
I don't recall how long this thing took to complete - several days, for certain, but whether mostly in one sustained period of time or off-and-on over some weeks, I can't now be sure.  Probably the bulk of the thing was dome quickly, and it was finished - for a given value of 'finish' - in a more leisurely fashion.  I had no deadlines to fulfil!
The approach of Lew Wallace's Division from Crump's Landing,
off the map to the north.
Overall, I liked the animated effect that the National Geographic artist achieved, not to mention the style of superimposing the figures upon a much smaller ground scale - just as we do with war games, though I did not know that when I first saw the publication.  At any rate, I tried to achieve the same effect here, whilst simultaneously adding a time-lapse effect in the same manner as the Bayeux Tapestry.
Final stand of Lt. Gen U.S. Grant's Army of the Mississippi,
late afternoon, 6 April.
How effective was it?  Well, I was fairly pleased with the overall narrative effect, though a few design glitches presented themselves.  Not knowing what the gunboats looked like, I presented them as 'generic' riverine craft.   But the main design problems came with the textual narrative.
The approach of Lt Gen Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio,
together with the assistance of the gunboats Tyler and
Lexington, saves Gen Grant from total defeat.
I've had this picture rolled up, stashed away, and almost forgotten for perhaps as many as thirty years now, not really sure what to do with it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Big Battles for Small Tables: a Debate...

Nostalgia: an early play test of my rule set The Corsican Ogre.
James Davies had the French and Paul 'Jacko' Jackson the Austrians.
From memory, the French columns managed to clear the ridge,
but it was a very near thing.
Since my last posting I have had something of a discussion with Ross Mac in the Comments Section of my previous posting, concerning the movement rates proposed for my BB4ST rule set.  So interesting was it that I seriously considered copying it verbatim, or possibly with some minor editing, into a new posting - this posting.
Nostalgia: The Battle of Grosshuntersdorf - a disguised
scenario based on a 7YW battle; Grossjagersdorf.
I've changed my mind about that.  But if you are interested, here's the link:

I did check a couple of other rule sets I knew to find how they effected the compromise between time and movement.  The easiest available was a friend's copy of Age of Eagles, which uses a ground scale of 1 inch to 120 yards (1:4320), and a time scale of 1 turn to 30 minutes.  Now, there is no formal relationship between this 30 minutes and any other (real) time.  Are the actual movement rates based on one minute's real action?  Two? Thirty seconds?
Austrians guarding a river crossing - #10 'Breakout' from
C.S. Grant's Scenarios for Wargames, a.k.a. the Green Book.
Austrian figures are Warrior and I think Hinton Hunt.
After a bit of calculation, and assuming a very nippy 'standard'  movement rate of 120 yards per minute (over 5 miles per hour, but its just to make my sums easier), we arrive at these results.

If the time scale were 1:60, the 'standard' move rate would be 4 inch (rounded);
If the time scale were 1:30, the 'standard' move would be 5.5 inch (rounded);
If the time scale were 1:15, the 'standard' move rate would be 8 inch (rounded).

Overall picture of the 'Breakout' action.  This was played between
myself as the Austrians, and Paul 'Jacko' Jackson about 7 years ago.
'French' figures are either Front Rank or Old Glory. The table
is 6ft by 4ft.
As it turns out, the standard foot move for columnar and 'impulse' foot is 9 inch, and road march is 12.  This seems to indicate a time scale of approximately 1:5 - very approximately, given my initial assumption.  A rule set described by Son of York seems to come down to something similar.

'Breakout', from behind the French allies (Westphalians)
attempting to force the crossing.  The Austrian commander
in the distance is looking a bit concerned...
In The War Game, Charles Grant (Ch III) discusses movement rates and comes to a marching speed of 60 yards per minute (ypm, or about 2mph), and applies this to infantry in line.  He added a further 25% to the move for a column (2.5 mph), and charging foot thundered across the table at 90 yards the minute (3 mph).  Grant's ground scale was 1:360 (1 inch to 10 yard), which would suggest a time scale of 1:19 - call it 1:20, as near as dammit.  I can't find how many game turns represented a 'day' in the Grant game, but 36 would seem a pretty reasonable number!
This one is from C.S. Grant's Programmed Wargames Scenarios
(the Black Book): #7 'Two Sides of a River',
 also from 6 or 7 years back.
Now, I have no criticism to make of any of these rule sets.  I've tried Age of Eagles, and barring some aesthetic points - really a matter of personal taste - quite like them.  I just won't be lashing out of 15mmm Napoleonic armies any time soon, and my available space won't permit large scale actions using my 25mm armies.
#7: 'Two Sides of a River'  The French have massed on the north
bank, and are about the strike with their whole weight upon
the Austrian line.
Where to go from here, then?  There was a range of options:
1.  Alter the time scale to about 1:75.  The thing with the time scale is that no one, so far as I know, has seriously looked into this aspect of scaling for table top games, though Charles Grant comes close.  In my view it has its points, the main one being to subsume the extended 'hurry-up-and-wait' downtime and 'friction' during a battle.  At any rate, this would bring my 4mph sprint down to a more sedate 3.2mph.  Everything else would remain as is, just the pace represented would be a little slower (25% slower).

2.  Alter the ground scale to 1:3000 (which was my original idea, until the arithmetical convenience of the 1:3600 impressed itself upon me).  The effect of this would bring the brisk 4mph stride down to 3.33mph, etc.  Again, everything else would remain as is.

3.  Keep the ground and time scales, and alter the moves to 'fit.'  I admit to being very reluctant to do this.  But then I recalled myself to the purpose of this whole exercise, as expressed in the title of this series of postings.  So that is the solution I shall adopt.  What follows supersedes the earlier lists.
Looking north long the Austrian line.  The entire 'French' force
(actually, mostly allies), just entering the picture, have massed
 beyond the distant river. Minifigs Austrians.

Infantry in march column: 20cm (8 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: 20cm (8 inch)
Infantry in battlefield (or assault) column: 15cm (6 inch).
Infantry in line: 10cm (4 inch).
Infantry in square: 2.5cm (1 inch).
Light Cavalry in march column: 40cm (16 inch) + 5cm (2 inch) on a roadway.
Light Cavalry in battlefield column: 30cm (12 inch).
Light Cavalry in line: 20cm (8 inch)
Heavy Cavalry (includes 'heavy' Dragoons) in March Column: 30cm (12 inch)
Heavy Cavalry in battlefield column: 25cm (10 inch)"
Heavy Cavalry in line: 20cm (8 inch)
Horse Artillery (3-4pr, 'light' 6pr) limbered: 20cm (8 inch)
Horse Artillery manhandled: 5cm (2 inch)
Foot Artillery ('heavy' 6pr, 8-9 pr, 5.5"-7" howitzers) limbered: 15cm (6 inch)
Foot Artillery manhandled: 5cm (2 inch)
Heavy Foot Artillery (12pr; 8" howitzer): 15cm (6 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: 25cm (10 inch) These guys aren't hanging around!
Light Horse Routing: 40cm (24 inch)
Heavy Horse Routing: 30cm (20 inch)

#7: 'Both Sides of a River' general action, seen
from the south bank of the river.
The infantry in a route column, on a roadway will still be travelling at 4 mph, too fast, very likely, but it seems to me that (a) the loss of order is probably less to be apprehended in this formation - less need to halt to dress lines, for example; and (b) can stand for some sort of fast paced move, possibly at a jog or run, to get somewhere in a hurry.  It will be used rarely in any event, and even then, not for long.

The infantry in a route column now travels at 3.3 mph (~90 ypm) ; in 'assault column' at 2.5 mph (about 75 ypm) and in line at 1.6 mph (about 45 ypm).  I feel that not only these rates the more realistic given my chosen ground and time scales, but will 'fit' better my limited playing space.

#7: 'Both Sides of a River', the view looking towards
 the southwest.  Austrian reinforcements are
hurrying across the bridge to the aid of their
comrades embattled on the northern bank.
Before I go, note the dichotomy here.  The added speeds I have added to the movement rates are nominal.  For instance, suppose our route column was marching along a straight road the 4 mile (6ft) length of my table.  It travels at 4mph. according to my conclusions from earlier calculations, and so should traverse the entire distance in 1 hour.  One hour represent one turn as proposed.  But in fact it will take 7 turns, and a bit more besides, for the column to reach that distance. Well over half a day! It works out that the column's (average) speed will actually be just 5/8 of one mile per hour.  In this way the accidents of stoppages, delays, rest periods and the general friction of battle is subsumed into the rule set.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Big Battles for Small Tables - a digression into Kleiber's Law...

Work in progress on recent Bring-and-Buy acquisitions.  I've made
the Spanish into a single composite, probably anachronistic
20-figure unit.  The stove-pipe officer I have added is Minifigs;
the rest might be Hinchliffe, but I don't actually know.
Let me tell you about Kleiber's Law.  It comes from the field of biology, and the observations made in the 1930s by one Max Kleiber.  It states that the metabolism rate of most animals is proportional to the fourth root of the cube of their mass. Symbolically:
...where R is the animal's metabolic rate, and M is its mass.  Now the thing about  M3/4 is that the ratio M/M3/4 is the same as  M3/4/M.

A French flag bearer has been removed (he'll probably end up on
on logistics element as a horse holder); the one blue-coated grenadier
will have a white coat; A British stove-pipe shako officer has been
added, and a bicorne guy with the damaged musket became a flag bearer.
Now, how does this relate to war games and rule set design?  You will recall from way back (link) that I discussed the relationship between ground and time scale, that the latter was (i.e. should approximate) the square root of the former.
Ground scale = G = 1:3600
Time scale = T √G = 1:60.
Then I found that the movement rates according to ground scale alone and according to time alone just would not work.  Intuitively I came up with the notion that movement rates 'm' ought to be such that
G/m = m/T;
and, therefore, as it has transpired: 
m = G3/4 = 1:√216,000~ 1:465.

British Fusiliers. who might yet be elevated to Guards status.
This is an 18-figure unit; further off you see a 16-figure unit that
includes10 'genuine' guards figures. Minifigs.
Quite how 'mass' and 'metabolic rate' fits with ground and time scales is a bit obscure  - I have my doubts about it myself.  But it does go towards scaling.  It works.

Here is a 'thought experiment' I carried out whilst pondering this back in July. Imagine a small insect a half-millimeter in length (1:3600 my height in fact).  You watch for one minute it walking across a flat surface. It would certainly travel farther than 1.2 inches (Sorry about mixing measuring scales, here, but I'm going for measures easiest to imagine. Can you imagine 2/100ths of an inch?).  Will the little wight travel as far as as 6 ft though? I don't think so.

Too lazy to strip the original paint job, I'm planning to keep
 as much of the original, but add the white belts,straps, wings and
 flounders etc.  The quick white dry brush identifies highlights
as a visual aid to me in touching up these guys.

Here was my problem.  In an hour, a human being might walk, pretty briskly, 4 miles - 72 inches (6ft) at the 1:3600 scale.  That is the length of my war games table.  As my moves represent 1 hour, that's the length of the table in just one move. 'We can't be having with that,' quoth Granny Weatherwax. 

Of course, the time scale I'm using is that 1 minute represents 1 hour.  But in one minute, at 4mph, one will travel maybe 120 yards, which at my chosen ground scale is 1.2".  Hardly what you'd call 'stepping out', eh?  The answer had to lie somewhere in between.  It was sheer intuition and no more that led me to the movement value m that satisfied the condition 3600/m = m/60, or, more specifically in inches: 
72/m = m/1.2. 

They sure look rough, don't they?  I admit this is a very
experimental technique, but I'm hoping the final product
will pass muster.
 The last equation gave us the  ballpark figure for a standard move (numbers in inches):
72/m = m/1.2
72x1.2 = m^2
m 86.4,
m ~ 9.3

Russian howitzer and crew.  I'm not sure how 'Russian' the
piece is, but as the two guns that came with it were
definitely French, this is how they will go.  Minifigs.
Of course, 9.3, approximate anyway, isn't a particularly tractable number to work with, but it is in the right ballpark.  So, as a 'first pass' I rounded it to 10 inches.  Now, some quick research indicated that a standard 'quick march' would take a foot soldier 100 yards (120x30-inch paces), which approximates to an 8-inch (7.75") move under my proposed scaling scheme.  'Double time' takes a soldier about 180 yards (180x36" paces). This would be as near to 14 inches as makes no never mind.

French 8pr cannon and crew.  
At this point I am inclined to bring this 14-inch 'double time' down to a 12-inch (30mm) maximum, for march column along a road. Cross country, let us reduce it to 10-inch (25cm - our 'standard), to take into account the casual irregularities of the ground.  Our 'column of manoeuvre', 'assault column', column of companies', or however it is to be styled, has an 8-inch move; line (single rank) is down to 6-inch.  Back in July I formulated my movement rules as follow:

"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)"
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)
Heavy cavalry in line: 30cm (12 inch)  
French 12pr (I think) and crew.  Two of  these guys seem to have  been  painted up as
 Russians, and the 'Westphalian (?)' dude with the rammer  had been adapted
 from a Grenadier figure.  I replaced the missing slow match with modelling wire,
 and added plumes to the two crewmen without them by jamming  partially  depilated
 cotton bud  ends over the existing standard artillery headgear ornamentation.
Next time I'll dilate upon the combat rules and game mechanics.
Another gun crew sans ordnance.  The nearest figure is actually
a Wurttemburger artilleryman from the Minifigs range.  He
 will become repatriated as a Frenchman. A lot of these arrived
unpainted,  They have received a black undercoat, with white
dry brushed over the top.  The white details have been added.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bring-n-buy and Political Demos..

Minifigs French 8pr guns.  Minifigs gunners.  I think the ramrod
man in the distance was adapted from a grenadier figure.

Saturday was an unusual day: a war games club bring-and-buy in the morning (and meeting up with friends and acquaintances I haven't seen for quite a while), and an afternoon march against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (so-called).  A lot of walking!  I don't drive, and as Karen was on the phone to a friend in need, I walked down the the Woolston Club.  Nice day; pleasant walk; 25, maybe 30 minutes.  Fitness level not great, but adequate; ticker still in good nick.  No worries.   Karen was to pick me up at 12:15, then off to the demo 'to get my fair share of abuse.'  Actually, not a lot of abuse to go round, as it turned out.

Bring and Buy at the Club.
Not a bad score at the bring-and-buy: 
1.  A box of 20 (actually 21) assorted Napoleonic Spanish.  It turned out 3 were Minifigs Austrian Grenadiers, but that,s OK: they can beef up one of my under-strength Austrian grenadier units.  I think a couple of French grenadier officers snuck in there as well, but they can be adapted, I think.
Assorted Spanish figures, give or take the officers.  Less the 3 Austrian
grenadiers who will be recruited into my Austrian Army.

2.  A box of 3 Minifigs Napoleonic artillery with 4-man crews.  One Russian (?) howitzer...
Russian gun crew.  Not sure about the piece, though.  

 ... two French (8pr field guns).
These 8pr guns were 'mint in pack' when bought.
 I knocked them together last night whilst watching an old
'Touch of Frost' episode on TV.
3.  A box of 33 Minifigs Napoleonic British Guards infantry (with bearskins - historical licence there)
It turned out that according to the Minifigs Catalogue (I obtained a copy 30-odd years ago, and it's still 'current'), about 2/3 of these were Fusiliers.  But as the figure design differs only in the angle of the musket held (so far as I can tell), Guards they will (probably) be.
Thirty-three Minifigs 'Guards' figures. With one or two spare
figures already in my possession, we might have 2 small
battalions here.
They have all been painted, though left unfinished, I suspect according to some Imagi-Nations scheme.  Actually I quite like them as they are, but... well...

 4.  A pack of ground-cover 'flocking'.

Which is the Guardsman?
I was hoping for some 'Army Men' type vehicles, but nothing doing.  Never mind.

The middle guy is the Guardsman, the other two Fusiliers.
Who knew?  As there is nothing really to distinguish
between them, they will be two Guards battalions, or, maybe
one Guards and one Fusiliers.

"I went down to the demonstration..."
So it was Ho! for the Demo, on the other side of Christchurch.  This was to do with a major plank of the Barack Obama's second term of office - a push for a Pacific-wide trading bloc subject in effect to Corporate hegemony.  Quite why New Zealand's two major political parties (National and Labour) are pushing this I can surmise only in terms of their collective Cargo Cult mentality - some exogenous factor will save us from our Neo-Con economic stupidity of the last 30 years.  But rather than canvass the issue here I'll simply post this LINK to give you some idea - if you choose to look - of what the thing is all about, and why I object to it.  The interesting bit starts about 12 minutes in.

Let me just predict that the reasons why ratifying the TPPA would be simply stupid will be demonstrated soon enough after the Government ratifies the TPPA.  

Having marched in leisurely and moderately noisy fashion from Shand Crescent Reserve, down Riccarton Road and a little past Victoria Lake in Hagley Park - maybe a mile and a half - we then half-listened to the band, chatted to Karen's friend and her dogs and knocked back a hot dog and chips. Even as a half-grown female pup, a pit-bull terrier carries an air of menace about it, but it was a very polite dog, graciously accepting its share - and only its share - of the chips.  The other dog got a fair bite of the spud.

Then we walked back to the car - a mile and a half the other way.  I suggested that another time we park the car half-way between where the demo starts and where it fetches up.  Silly notion, of course: makes no difference. On the way, Karen suggested we might look into Scorpio Books ('Yeah, all right,' says I). And look what I found!  Decorating a bookshelf as they were, I wasn't even sure they were for sale. Two years ago I bought a couple of these things during a visit to the West Coast (Hokitika), and rather regretted not getting the other two.  Now, four of them gives me a medium tank company in the service of the Imperial Raesharn Army.  
Serendipity!  A casual post-demonstration drop into a
bookshop unearthed these beauties. $10.99 apiece.

New additions for my
Army Men project.

It's an ill wind ... but I still reckon the TPPA - like its previous incarnation, the MAI (Multi-lateral Agreement on Investments) is a dumb-arse scheme.  The Neo-Rentier class will love it, of course.

A company of Raesharn medium tanks advancing
across the plains of Kiivar.
Welcome to the 112th follower of this blog: the Plastic Hussar.  Check out his blogspot The Plastic Pelisse.