Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Hex Shambattle - a Rule Set

Late last year I posted some ideas about playing the Shambattle game on a gridded table.

The Hex-celled Grid:

The gimlet-eyed reader will notice that the Vermilion City and Blueburg I have placed, per the original Shambattle map, right up against the river banks. I'm rather taken with the idea of urban fighting being required to force a crossing.  Whether this adds or detracts from the action, we would have to see.

This being a larger game area, a larger OOB is required, and a commensurate change in shooting ranges as well. Each stand represents a battalion.

OOB Hex-celled Map:

General Officer Commanding: General Sir Arthur Reddesley 6SP
12 Infantry stands @ 4SP = 48SP - Rifle range: 2 grid areas 
6 Cavalry stands @ 3SP = 18SP - Carbine range: 1 grid area
3 Machinegun stands (Gatlings) @ 2SP =  6SP - Shooting range: 3 grid areas
3 Artillery stands @2SP = 6SP - Shooting range 8 grid areas
1 Engineer stand plus Engineer Train @ 3SP = 6SP - Rifle Range: 2 grid areas
2 Field hospitals (horse-drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (probably in Scarletton).

Commanding in Chief: Marshal Andre Azuréna
12 Infantry stands @ 4SP - 48SP
6 Cavalry stands @ 3SP = 18SP
3 Mitrailleuse stands (Nordenfeldt) @ 2SP = 6SP
3 Artillery stands @ 2SP = 6SP
1 Engineer stand plus Engineer Train @ 3SP = 6SP
2 Field Logistics stands (horse drawn wagons)
1 Fixed Centre of Operations Logistics unit (most likely in Cerulean City)

Of the 25 units on each side (discounting the logistics units and the Army Command), 12 Strength Points would have to deploy at the outset in the towns, each having at least 3 units by way of a garrison.

Strength Points.

Hex Grid Armies SP values:
12 Rifles @ 4SP: 48SP
6 Cavalry @ 3SP: 18SP
3 MG (Gatlings, Gardners or Maxims) @2SP: 6SP
3 Artillery @2SP: 6SP
1 Engineer plus Engineer Train @3SP: 6SP
1 Fixed location logistics Centre of Operations: 0SP
2 Mobile (commissariat/ordnance/medical) Trains: 0SP
1 Army Commander @6SP : 6SP
Total: 90SP/ Exhaustion Point: -30/ Rout Point -45   

Activation of units: 

The whole game is IGoUGo, but in each pair of turns roll for which side goes first.
1.  Artillery and Machinegun fire (both sides, count as simultaneous)

2.  Roll for initiative, high roll going first and completing moves and combats for all units as in 3. and 4.

3. Roll for 'Treachery' in the enemy army:
    See below:
4.  For each unit: 
    Movement (artillery and MGs if not having fired this turn)
    Rifle fire and outcomes (moving side only)
    Close Combat and outcomes (both sides)

5. Low initiative roll determines 'treachery' (3) and completes moves and combats (4) for all units.

2 units - infantry, machinegun - and the 
Army Commander in one hex-grid area.


Riflemen: 2 hexes in clear areas or on roads; otherwise 1 grid area only.
Cavalry: 3 hexes on roads or clear, otherwise 1 grid area only
Machine guns: 2 hexes on roads or clear, otherwise 1 grid area only.
Artillery: 2 hexes on roads, 1 hex in clear or in towns, otherwise impassible.
Trains: 2 hexes on roads, 1 hex in clear or in towns, otherwise impassible.

In the above picture, the MG could shoot out to 3 grid areas; but at 2 grid area range, the rifles can be added.  The Army Commander's presence putting them on their mettle, would add +1 to the units' SPs for shooting or close combat.


I propose using my own version of the 'Command-&-Colours' combat method for shooting or close combat.  A grid area may hold 1 or 2 units, of any type - 2 infantry, say, or 1 infantry and 1 gun).  The following results count only if the target type happens to be present.

1. Artillery, Machineguns, Engineers or Engineer Train lose 1 SP
2. Cavalry retreat 1 grid area, or lose 1 SP
3. Cavalry lose 1 SP 
4. Infantry retreat 1 grid area, or lose 1 SP
5. Infantry lose 1 SP
6. Infantry lose 1 SP, and retreat 1 grid area.  Hazard to Army Command if present.

If Army Commander is in the target grid area, he may be hit.  A separate roll of '6' means the Army Commander is toast (one could roll to determine whether he is KIA, WIA, or POW). Note that in this version, the Army Commander is at hazard only if a '6' is rolled for a hit upon the unit he is accompanying.

Engineers count as infantry for shooting and close combat purposes. The SP value for their Train counts towards its capacity as well as for its combat strength. See below; Engineers.

The number of dice rolled in combat is equal to the stand's SP values. If there is more than one stand in a grid, their combat power may be added together. The following modifications, per stand, apply:

-1 Any of close assaulting across river, up hill, or in or into a town, forest or brush area. Not cumulative.
-1 Any of shooting into cover, or whilst on a bridge or in a river (ford).
-1 Machine guns or artillery under a close assault. Neither may bring on a close assault.
-1 Engineer Train under close assault. May not bring on a close assault. Engineer Train does not shoot.
-1 'Poor' unit shooting or close combat (optional).
+1 Machine guns shooting.  Range: 3 grid areas.
+1 Artillery shooting. Range: 8 grid areas.
+1 'Elite' unit shooting or close combat (optional).
+1 Army Command in same grid area.

Engineers in combat:
As the engineers themselves and their train are always in the same grid area, a combat die roll of '1' will hit one or other of them but not both. SP losses accumulated are taken in turn, beginning with the Train. So two combat rolls of '1' in the same turn will take 1SP from both engineers and their Train.

2 units, plus Army Commander, in one square
 grid area - as much as the area can accommodate.
An enemy attacking this grid area would hit the artillery 
on a '1', the infantry on a '4-6', and possibly Sir Arthur
Reddesley on a '6'.

Close combat
 is initiated by a force attempting to enter a grid area occupied by an enemy force. This is signalled by the front edge of at least one stand being placed slightly over the edge of the target grid area.  Close combats are automatic, both sides rolling, and, if continuing, take place in both sides' turns.  The posture of the respective sides will indicate who is the attacker.

Only the rifle infantry, cavalry and engineers may initiate a close combat. Artillery, machine guns and the Engineers' Train, may never bring on a close assault. The Engineers may shoot, but the Train does not.

Engineers, function:
At all times, the engineers are accompanied by their Train.  Their Train supplies the needs for mine laying, constructing field works, demolition and bridge building. The SP value constitutes their capacity. 

1SP by the Train may, in one turn:
  • Lay minefields in 1 grid area 
  • Construct fieldworks in 1 grid area
  • Prepare 1 bridge or building for demolition
  • Construct 1 pontoon bridge section (2 being required to complete the river crossing).
    Construction occurs in the same grid area where the engineers and train stands, or, in the case of river crossings, in a bridge approach grid area.
Note that at 3SP there is an overcapacity for building one bridge, but insufficient to build two. One has, of course, to take into account losses to enemy action! 
Note also that the rate of construction is fixed, and may not be accelerated by the 'expenditure' of extra SPs in the same turn.

A final note: you will observe that SPs spent upon engineering tasks will add to the overall SP wastage incurred by the battle, and hence towards reaching the Army exhaustion and rout points. 

It is tempting to subvert the adamantine river line by including the possibility of treachery in the enemy ranks.  As I'm playing these games solo, how this is done would have in some way to be programmed. I'm thinking less in terms of 'spy' and more in the way of 'Fifth Column'.

At the beginning of the Game OR (better yet) at the appropriate time each turn (optional), identify the miscreant unit:
  • Roll for arm: 1 = artillery/ machine guns, 2-3 = cavalry, 4-6 = infantry
  • Roll for unit: There being 6 cavalry and 6 guns and machine guns combined, simply allocate a number from 1-6 for each and roll according. There being 12 rifle stands, roll for pair, and then for individual within the pair, or, as I did, 1 roll for which 'brigade' of 4 stands, then roll for the unit within the 'Brigade'. 
1.  Each turn, roll a die to determine whether there is disaffection within the army. See 'Activation of Units' above. A roll of '6' implies a unit's loyalty has come into question. 
(It has suddenly occurred to me that this would be best carried out turn by turn, with the non-phasing side rolling for the enemy army. That way the defecting unit immediately comes under the control of the enemy army)
2.  Unless identified at the beginning of the game, roll to identify the disloyal unit.
3.  Roll to determine what action the disloyal unit will take:
  • 1-2 Mutiny! The unit will refuse to take orders, will neither move nor shoot, except to defend itself and/or stay away from the fighting.  Its SPs are lost to the army, but are not accrued by the enemy.
  • 3-4 Defection! The unit plans to change sides, but will do so only if it contacts or is contacted by an 'enemy' unit.  This is effected by moving into a grid area adjacent to one occupied by the 'enemy' unit. Having thus made contact, the unit is now under the command of the enemy army. Its SPs are lost to their former army and now accrue to their new command.
    (In a 2-player game, the 'enemy' takes over its movements, but the aim is primarily to make contact with an enemy unit. It may not attack its former comrades, nor may be attacked by them). 

    However, the army they are trying to contact may engage them in combat, bearing in mind that any SPs they lose will be SPs foregone. The defecting unit may also be expected to fight back if engaged in close combat. (I make these last remarks for the 'sake of completeness': I doubt in a 2-player game that the receiving army would want to shoot up approaching friends. In a solo game, that is a whole other matter, of course!)
  • 5-6 Fifth Column! The miscreant unit at once changes sides, and will come at once under the command of the enemy army, to carry out moves, fires and close combats as required. The SPs change sides with the unit. There is no change to the starting 'Exhaustion' or 'Rout' points for either side.

Supply and Resupply:

The Centre of Operations, and the two Mobile Logistics Trains', main function is to rebuild units (stands) that have become depleted. This may include stands or units that have been reduced to 0SP, and have therefore been removed from the battlefield. These three logistics units have no intrinsic Strength Points, and, attacked, are captured or destroyed on a 'hit' result for Trains.

During the course of a 'night' Turn the SPs are allocated to units according to arm, each receiving half of their losses incurred during the day. Odd half fractions of 'returned' SPs are rounded up for riflemen and engineers, and down for all the other arms. Special rules apply to the Engineer Train and the Army Command.

Units to be refurbished must be placed in the grid area containing the logistics unit (1 unit only), or in an adjacent grid area (up to 2 in each). This placement takes place in the night move. A replacement Army Command, and the engineer train resupplying, also stand in some such proximity to a logistics unit. The units placed, they then are allocated extra SPs from the replacement pool.

At the dawn of the new day, the units move at standard rates from the grid areas in which they stood for resupply and recovery. One of the effects of this will be to advantage the invaded country. It will therefore be in the interests of the invader to bring his mobile logistics units up close to the front line.

Special Resupply Rules:
Engineers's  Train:

The Engineer's Train may by resupplied up to its full capacity of 3SP.  This will, however, still count against the overall allocation to specialists. 

Army Command:
When the Army Command has been lost, it may be replaced (@6SP) but only at the cost of Strength Points being returned to the Army. However, the 6SP so spent may be drawn from the whole pool, regardless of the arms represented. A likely replacement allocation might be drawn like this: 1SP from the specialists, 2 from the cavalry and 3 from the infantry.


An army having reached its 'Exhaustion Point' is treated as follows
Only the cavalry can initiate a close assault 
Units may not advance closer to the enemy than they already are. They may, however, move closer to an enemy stand if the move also brings them closer to the friendly base line.
Units already in close combat may remain so until the close assault is resolved.

An Army reduced to its 'Rout Point' must immediately begin to quit the field.
Units move at standard rates towards their own table edge, or the capital city.
Units in close combat, break off, and retreat one grid area.
The army will be stopped, if at all, only by the onset of night, and then resume the next day unless the SP returns bring the army's strength points above the Rout point.

Concluding points:

This rule set will probably require rather closer attention to losses Turn by Turn than is usual among our Grid Wargames. Apart from anything else, only the day's SP losses may be returned 'overnight'. It is possible that an Army will become 'exhausted' during the course of a day, but be revived with SPs overnight. This seems to me a reasonably plausible happening. An Army reduced to a routing condition before nightfall might be rallied overnight to mere 'exhaustion', at least keeping it in the field the following day. 

An army that finds itself having lost a third of its original SP allocation at daybreak remains 'exhausted', must take up a defensive posture. When the army is exhausted, only the cavalry may be permitted to attack to bring on a close combat. An Army reduced to its 'Rout Point' simply flees the field, and the battle ends.

I have a feeling that one of the effects of these establishments is the creation and retention of a reserve, so that depleted units might be withdrawn, and fresh units take their place.  It would be nice to think that this will work, but I haven't tried it yet!

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Hex Shambattle (3)

There were two elements (2nd and 3rd Turcos)
trying the Redina river line. Now there is but one.


The previous post hinted at the sudden disappearance of 2nd Turco Battalion attempting to storm across the river fords. With 3rd Turcos following into the ford, the 2nd never made it to far bank. Shredded by rifle and machinegun fire, the 2nd melted away, leaving the 3rd to effect a lodgment if they could. It so happens, though, that 4th Turco Battalion, despite very heavy losses, had made the crossing, overrun the 3rd Brigade's Gatling Coy, and were beginning to roll up the defenders' line.

Turco Brigade has forced crossings at two places,
but at heavy cost. However, the Chasseur Brigade is coming up...

On this front both sides were taking horrendous losses, Redina's 3rd Brigade at least 7SP so far, including the Gatling Coy; the Turco Brigade 8SP or more. But the Turcos had at least secured lodgments close by Redville itself, and at the far end of the defenders' line.

Elsewhere, the Bluvia cavalry were still holding a considerable bridgehead, and seeking to expand it. One hussar unit had, unfortunately, been routed. Their light horse comrades attempted to storm a Redina gun battery close by the Scarletton Woods, whilst the lancers and a cuirassier regiment strove to keep the road clear.

Following up the cavalry, 1st Line Infantry had begun crossing the Middle Bridge - 2nd Cuirassiers having drawn aside to make way. The pontoon bridge completed, 2nd and 3rd Line were on hand to cross. Behind them the Medium and 2nd Field Artillery were giving effective support to the embattled horse.

The depleted 1st Hussars undergoing rest, refitting and 
reestablishment at 2nd Field Depot

Is Redville about to fall?  Again?

Back at Redville, 3rd Turco's attack across the fords having been repulsed, they had withdrawn and rerouted across the bridge, behind the 1st. Fourth Turcos having finally succumbed to losses, 1st and 2nd Chasseurs crossed the fords unopposed, though the former had taken a hit from gunfire. The defending Brigade had been reduced to a single battalion defending the town, whilst the field hospitals and re-supply trains behind Redville vainly attempted to cope with the increasing demands from deplted and broken units.

Four depleted units surround the re-supply train - 
an overwhelming demand!

Two Redina battalions looking a bit sorry for themselves
at Vermillion City. But what is happening in the background?

So far, little enough was being reported from Blueburg and Vermillion City. Second Battalion had been enduring a steady drain of losses from the enemy machinegun fire, and 1st Battalion had also come in for some attention. But a really sinister situation was developing to the left of Vermillion, in the shape of two Line Battalions that had crossed the newly built pontoon bridge. Although the crossing had been effected at some cost the unexpected arrival of three infantry battalions proved very trying to the defenders. At some risk, the Bluvians had left 3rd Machinegun Company to defend the bridge. Marshal Andre Azurena had in fact been prepared to accept the loss of Blueburg itself in order to shove the whole Line Brigade across at the pontoon and Middle Bridges.

The bridgehead at the Middle Bridge, looking tenuous shortly before, suddenly looked more promisingly solid. Apart from the three or four battalions having crossed on the Redville front, there were now five cavalry unit - some looking rather weary - and four battalions, reasonably fresh, pushing forward. A fresh Lancer unit felt bold enough to push ahead to the Vermillion-Scarletton road and to assault the Redina engineer train waiting there (and doing diddly squat because their commander {well, I} didn't think to build earthworks or to lay a minefield).

Masking their evil intent, 4th Chasseurs are getting close 
the front line. The SP dice seems to have been knocked: 
it should be showing a 4.

Meanwhile, the 4th Chasseur Regiment had reached the Middle Bridge. Unbeknownst to anyone but themselves, they were, as earlier related, bent on defecting - as soon as they might encounter a Redina unit with whom they could communicate their intention. As far as their confreres were concerned, they represented a welcome reserve infantry reinforcement behind the cavalry.

A dire situation made worse by 1st Battalion's 
treachery. At last the 'six' is rolled to signify its 
rebellion, the 'two' signifies a mutiny, rather than 
an intent to change sides.

At such a critical moment, the 1st Redina Infantry broke out in mutiny. Refusing to accept orders to engage the enemy, or even to move, the battalion simply opted out of the battle. This was a serious blow to General Reddesley's plans to drive the enemy back across the river.

So far, Redina's defence had relied upon just two of the Infantry Brigades in and around Vermillion City (1st Brigade) and Redville (3rd). The Sepoy (2nd) Brigade were being held in reserve around Scarletton. With the river plain being cleared of Redina troops as far back as the Scarletton Woods, and the gun lines there, General Reddesley deemed it meet that 2nd Brigade be at last unleashed.

It was not before time. The large numbers of depleted units rallying - or attempting to rally - around the field depots and the centre of operations meant very few still in action in the field. What was left of 3rd Brigade did manage to drive the Turcos back from Redville, but that was but a pinprick. 
Redville garrison repels the Turcos, but two Chasseur
battalions are not far off...

The Opoeration centre also busy refurbishing 
battered units.

I'll admit right here that my ideas for rebuilding depleted units were insufficiently thought out and inadequate to the demands placed upon them. I think it reasonable that the capacity for the trains and supply centre ought to be limited enough that they become strained as losses mount. But 1SP per turn for each of the three was nowhere near enough. This was especially the case as I was most reluctant to send back into battle units with just 1SP. So even the units sent back with 2SP amounted to a mere trickle. 

Having said that, the limited capacity ought to have favoured Redina, whose depots, as defender, were much closer to the front line. It so happened that all day so far the dice ran for Bluvia, pretty much, although the retention of the Sepoy reserve by Redina probably didn't help the latter. Perhaps the retention was less at fault than the timing of their introduction into the fight.

My other omission was entirely to forget my dividing the day (as I discover in my pre-game notes) into four periods of daylight and one of night. Too much excitement, for I estimate, not having counted the moves, that the action last about four 'days'.

Nevertheless, the Reddesley ordered the battered units to abandon their rearming, rest and recuperation around 1st Supply Train, and counterattack the Bluvian invasion near the pontoon bridge. Attacking the engineers, 2nd Hussars, already depleted, found themselves surrounded - engineers to the front, field artillery to their right, Redina light dragoons to their left rear. But so many of the Redina units were down to 1SP!

A more powerful counter-attack was developing out of Scarletton. As 5th Sepoys crashed through the forest behind 1st Field Artillery, the 6th advanced down the Middle Bridge Road, whilst 7th and 8th circled the woods to the left to attack the right flank of the bridgehead. Although the Bluvian infantry were still reasonably powerful, the arrival of 12-16SP of fresh troops was not such as to gladden the heart. 

The Chasseurs found themselves having to defer their assault upon Redville, to protect the righthand approaches to the Middle bridge, as the whole invasion force across the river were threatened with being driven to the very river bank, if not altogether across the stream. What remained of the Turco Brigade were left to themselves - less their machinegun company, to take the Redville town. That task seemed suddenly to have become harder. 

About now, with a crisis seeming at hand, the battle sputtered to a close.  After a prolonged struggle, the Redina horse, foot and guns had enough.  Having brought the Bluvians to a standstill, the Redinians refused to advance further. The Sepoy counter-assault had come too late.

For a while longer, the Bluvians continued to press, but the fresh defenders were at least enough to hold and inflict casualties until the attacks were at last called off. There the action drew to a close. The disappointed 4th Chasseurs had not quite been able to reach their objective of contacting the Redinian forces in order to defect. 

Although the battle ended in mutual exhaustion, the Bluvians were inclined to claim the victory, as they still held positions along the entire far bank of the purple River, save Vermillion City itself. They would not be easy to shift from there without some cession by Redina. The Bluvians could also claim a material as well as the moral victory, judging by the respective losses:

Bluvian losses:
Cavalry 11/18
Infantry 12/48 (16 if one counts the defecting unit) 
Artillery 0/6
Machine guns 1/6
Engineers 2/6

Totals: 26 (or 30)/90  
(Note that I counted the defections as lost, even though the defecting unit didn't quite make it to the other side.  Possibly this was a bit unfair on Bluvia, as it was otherwise not yet exhausted after all)

Redina losses:
Cavalry 6/18
Infantry 24/48 (20 if we count the 4SP of the Bluvia defectors as a gain)
Artillery 2/6
MGs 3/6
Engineers 3/6

Totals: 38 (or 34)/90

On the other hand, had Bluvia in mind to claim Redina's territory by right of conquest, its army had fallen well short of making good on that claim. It was time therefore to receive some sort of blackmail -  'Bluegeld' - against the removal of Bluvian army from the Redina lands...

Here endeth the narrative. A post action analytical report from the Bluvian General Staff will follow. I dare say its most telling recommendations will have to do with improving the performance of the commissariat, ordnance and medical services...

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Hex Shambattle (2)


First incursion by Bluvian Hussars met by strong
cavalry counter attack. Bluvian Lancers hurry up 
to reinforce the invasion.

Here is the second instalment of the battle for the purple River crossings and Bluvia once more invades Redina territory. The action begins when Bluvian hussars make a quick dash across the Middle Bridge. The reaction is quick, and the Bluvian horse are hard put to maintain any kind of bridgehead. The pictures' captions narrate the story...

Standoff at Blueburg-Vermillion river bridge. After a brief exchange of 
fire, the Bluvian rifle battalions were withdrawn, leaving the 
Gardner guns to cover the crossing.

Wild cavalry melee across the Middle Bridge. Already 
both sides have taken heavy casualties.

Action at Blueford: the Turco Brigade attacking on a broad front 
across the fords and the river bridge.
Early attempt by 2nd Redina Battalion to cross the 
Vermillion City bridge thwarted with loss

Treachery! Fourth Chasseur Battalion have taken it 
into their heads to defect. But first they have to contact 
the enemy before turning against their comrades...

... Chance made the 4th Chasseurs the farthest 
distance from the front line. They will have a long 

1st Turco Battalion attacks across the Blueford Bridge.
Despite earlier losses, the defenders repel the invaders.
Losing a SP (the '6'), the Chasseurs retreat all the way

back to Blueford (the two '4s'). The '5s' cancel each other out; the 
'2s' count for nothing against foot.

Returning to the action, 1st Chasseurs are this time successful,
and take the bridge. The defenders retire into Redville.

Meanwhile 2nd and 3rd Turco Battalions attempt in the face 
of heavy fire to storm across the fords.  They are supported by 
the Brigade's Gardner guns.

The cavalry fight continues. A hussar regiment has reached 
a Redina gun battery near the Scarletton Woods.

General view: in the distance, Bluvian engineers prepare to
build a pontoon bridge across the river, as the cavalry battle
 rages on the far side

At the south end of the line, all but the machine guns
are being withdrawn from Blueburg. The engineers are
constructing - under artillery fire - a pontoon bridge between 
Blueburg and the Middle bridge.

A comment on the engineers: 
The unit comprises an engineer stand plus a train - a bridging train for the Bluvians. Both elements are rated as 3SP (Strength Points). Although not quite so formalised in this game, I suggest that losses are accrued alternately (not both at once for each 'kill' hit) beginning with the train. A battalion reduced to 1SP, whose train has been brought to 0SP, might yet resupply by withdrawing to a 'hospital' - a recruitment and recovery unit.

As you can see from the above picture, having completed half the bridge crossing (1 turn) the engineers and their train have taken a SP loss each from machinegun fire. That is where the Line Brigade is headed, in order to avoid the costs of street fighting in Vermillion City.

The Bluvian cavalry in trouble at the Middle Bridge.
One of the Hussar units has vanished, and the Lancers
have been driven onto the bridge itself. The Chasseurs are
hurrying up in support

A comment on 'hospitals' and their function:
I have yet to come up with a satisfactory nomenclature for what are really logistic centres for recovery of ammunition, victualling, recruitment and medical services. Perhaps 'Logistics depot' or something similar. Depleted units go there to recover lost SPs. A number of issues raised themselves.

1. Should units reduced to 0 SPs be permitted to recover SPs? I was - and remain - in two minds about this.
2. What is the capacity of these units? I think depleted units should recover 1SP per turn, but how many units can be so served in one turn? During the battle the Redina mobile hospitals in particular became overwhelmed - which suggested that I had set too restrictive limits upon their capacity. During the game I allowed each of the hospitals/depots to replenish 1SP only, and that at the end of the turn. The queues on the Redina side were getting quite long... I'll come back to this.

3. How do depleted units make their way back to the 'logistic depots'? During this game, I found it simplest to remove a depleted unit at once all the way back to a depot (the nearest available). Upon recovery, it would still have to march, at standard movement rates, all the way back to the front.

4. Capacity: 
A good deal, I think, rests upon the size and scale of the game. This one was fairly sizeable for a 4'x4' table. Here's an idea that I have yet to test:
(a) Each turn each logistic depot rolls 1D3 (or half D6) which gives it a capacity for the turn to rebuild 1-3SPs on depleted units in or adjacent to the logistic depot's location. Perhaps the 'permanent' depot ought to have a slightly greater capacity - a D4 (1-4SP) or possibly a D6 (1-6SP). 
(b) If the capacity is available, a depleted unit might recover more than 1SP. However, if there is more than one unit awaiting recovery (from that logistic depot), the SPs must be distributed among them.
(c) A depot's capacity is not cumulative. The 'per turn' die roll merely indicates what is available for the moment.

5. Capture:
If attacked, a depot has 0 SPs. Nor does it fight on its own account, though a fighting unit may be placed in the same grid area to defend it. An undefended mobile depot attacked is at once removed. If the  permanent depot is attacked undefended, it is captured, and becomes available to the attacker in subsequent turns.

So far these are merely ideas, to be adopted or discarded as seems convenient. 

I think here is a convenient moment to pause, the battles for the river crossings still in doubt, and to resume the narrative in a separate posting.

To be continued...
The battle for the fords. What happened to 
2nd Turco Battalion...?

Monday, May 13, 2024

Hex Shambattle


The Bluvian II Division at Cerulean City.
The significance of the RED Strength point marker 
will be explained in due course...
It is high time, I am supposing, to relate what happened in the recent border clash between the armies of Redina and Bluvia. No one quite knows what caused the conflagration this time. Where there is friction, the least spark will ignite the flames of war, and so it was on this occasion. Perhaps Bluvia feared a reprisal for their decisive victory in the previous clash (see here). Certain it was that Redina had failed to make good upon ceding Redville to Bluvia administration. However it was, Bluvia once again set in motion their powerful army.
The Shambattle map. The names of half the towns
have been renamed.

In this action I made slight changes to the Order of battle I outlined in a previous posting (Shambattle Maps).  For both armies I reduced the infantry from 14 to 12 stands (each representing a battalion), but increased the artillery to 2 field and 1 medium battery. I also added an engineer battalion at 3 Strength points, plus a train of another 3SP. As it happens, one of those trains contributed materially to the action.

The infantry formed 3 Divisions of 4 Battalions, plus a machinegun company.  The 6 cavalry regiments formed a Division. Again, the likelihood of treachery in the ranks was determined by a series of die rolls, the identity of which was indicated by a 'wrong' coloured strength point marker (die). The time and nature of their perfidy would be determined during the course of the action.

The remainder of this first instalment of the narrative, I'll reserve it to the pictures' captions to lay out the situation...
Scarletton: the Redina capital city. The red brick edifice
is the hospital, recruiting centre and logistics collection 

The plains before Scarletton. Redina machine guns and artillery cover
the Middle Bridge...

... whilst on the opposite bank of the Purple River, the Bluvian
 Cavalry await the order to march.
Redina 3rd Brigade garrison at Redville

Bluvian 1st (Turco) Brigade massed at Blueford

Overall view of the Theatre of War, looking west
from behind Cerulean City towards the distant hill upon which
 stands Scarletton.

View of the plains between Cerulean City and the river

Saturday, May 4, 2024

It seemed to work... Thoughts on Portable Lutzen

My recent Battle of Lutzen (1632) project threw up several thinking points, mostly occasioned by the way my armies have been designed and based. Having switched from a design of my own to the DBR game system (huge mistake, but not due, apart from a want of 'finish', to any real problem with that system)  I found myself unable to make the reverse decision. Perhaps that was a bullet I ought to have bitten, after all.

What this has led to is having to create units with multiple stands. Now, that's OK, but I have a feeling that the Antoine Bourguilleau designed Portable Pike & Shot Wargame calls for single-based units - even unto Swedish brigades and Spanish tercios. A tercio comprising 9 figures of pikemen forming a square, with 3 musketeers/arquebusiers capping each of the four corners, with each figure occupying a 15mm (front) and 20mm (depth) base would fit easily within my square grid cells, and not too badly within my hex grid cells. The latter would overlap the cell boundaries only a trifling amount.

Well, not to be: too bad. Let's work with what we have. 

What I had in mind was that the infantry units would default to a 6-stand battalion, comprising a centre of 2 x 4-figure pike stands, and wings of 4 x 3-figure shot. Like these fellows on the right of the picture: 

On the right, four Swedish battalia, each of 20 figures.
The Imperialist foot facing them comprise 8 extra pikemen
This is roughly how a DBR game would look (this pic is dated May 2008 in my archives). Of course, the stands being 6cm wide, that gives us a unit with a frontage of 18cm - requiring two grid squares to accommodate. It was this, and thinking about tercios that gave rise to multi-grid-cell units. The tercios featured in my recent 30YW battles.

The concept seemed to work, although it did lead to a staggered 'line' drown up 4 tercios abreast at the outset of the Lutzen battle. Shaken out into a lozenge formation, the four tercios looked the part.

Before continuing with the topic of unit sizes, and their implications, I want first to outline where I intend to adapt the original concept to my own set up. I intend to try out several changes to the system


1.1 Artillery is divided into 'field' and 'battalion' guns
1.2 Field artillery can not move, except to change facing, unless there is a horse team available to move it. Once hitched (taking one move) the artillery may move two hexes per turn.
1.3 Battalion guns can be manhandled 1 hex per turn
1.4 Artillery present no obstacle to the movement of other units, apart from preventing their landing on the same grid area. A foot or horsed unit may simply 'pass through' friendly artillery. Enemy artillery overrun may simply be removed from play 
(I am very tempted to permit the 'capture' of artillery with the idea they they may be turned upon their former owners. Wouldn't that be fun?)
1.5 For the purposes of the game, I increased the range of my 'field' artillery to 6 grid areas - hexes or squares.  I'm very tempted to make it 8. At a 6-hex maximum, short range is 2 grid areas. 
1.6 The firing range of battalion guns is the same as for artillery in the Portable set: 1 grid area at short range; 3 at long. 
1.7 Rather than limiting shooting to along a single line of hexes or squares, I propose this:
When firing through a a square or hex side, the 'firing arc' is the grid area immediately in front, and one grid area either side of the centre line thereafter. 

Firing arcs;
Field battery: Red (short) and pink (long)
Battalion guns: Orange (short) and yellow (long) 

1.8 I am considering the option to shoot though a hex corner (not square corners if using a square grid). The reason for this has to do with the size and shape of my foot units. If so, the 'arc' of fire will be 1 hex either side of the center line - a firing arc 2-3 hexes wide.

2. Horse.

2.1 There is but one real adaptation I want to make, here, and that is to the 'Dutch' cavalry - harquebusiers - as defined under the PP&SW game system. These fellows tend not to go in for the up close and in your face stuff, but prefer to stand off and shoot. They also, it seems, favoured rather deep columns, which, shooting by introduction in a species of caracole, kept up a considerable rate of short-ranged fire whilst slowly moving forward (at least, that is how I figure it). 

This is quite in contrast to the 'Swedish' school of thought, which was to get tore in with the sword. The question is, how does one make it worthwhile to depict the deep columns of 'Dutch' harquebusiers? I propose that such a unit -

(a) adds 1 to its shooting dice if it has a third rank, 

or alternatively

(b) counts 1SP per rank, up to a maximum of 3. 

2.2 Light Horse.
The Imperialists often fielded Croats, Cossacks and Hussar light horse. I have added them to the mix: Move 4 hexes, 2SP each, counting as 'poor' or 'average'. 

3. Foot

3.1 Forlorn hope:
These for single stand units, rather like a skirmish line, with 1SP only. They may be classed as 'poor' or 'average'. Actually, these fellows were often brave men who volunteered for some reward or perhaps commutation of punishment. The chances of survival were pretty slender! However, brief experience, especially as defenders of a protected position, have shown them hard to shift, so they don't count as elite.

3.2. Battalia/ Brigades:
The three-stand battalia or 'brigades' I used for the Lutzen battle I reckon ought to be 3SP instead of 4. They each have the same firepower as the tercio, but eight of them still double the firepower of the 4 tercios. 

However, I also have in mind fielding 6-stand 'battalia'. Now, these of course, span 2 grid areas wide - reasonably convenient on a square grid battlefield; less so with a hex grid. On the latter, the unit would 'naturally' face the hex corners, as shown here:

With such a formation, one feels that it might engage two shooting targets in a given turn, or both wings concentrate upon the hex in front of the pike block. An enemy standing there would of course engage the battalion as a whole. A species of tercio might also be depicted with this orientation:

This whole idea seems to present rather a different game, with movement, fire and close combat through the hex corners, in effect, rather than the hex sides. If I were to test this idea, I'd be inclined to add 2 to the standard SP values for both: 6SP for the battalia; 8SP for the tercio.

4. Combat results.

For the size of the game, I seems more convenient - certainly speedier - that all hits result in a SP loss. Whether a unit taking that loss gets also pushed back one grid area might depend upon its quality (poor, average, elite). For the most part I applied the hit=SP loss during the Lutzen battle, and the thing went quite briskly considering the size of the game.

All these ideas will require play testing some time. Meanwhile, I am doing some prep work for the Battle of White Mountain (1620). My Swedish army will be co-opted to represent the Protestant  Bohemian Army.

To be continued...
Battle map for White Mountain