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fire, the Bluvian rifle battalions were withdrawn, leaving the 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are being withdrawn from Blueburg.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...?


  1. Your remarks/questions on Logistics Depots are intriguing. I haven't tried using anything similar before but I think I'd definitely favour a die roll for what reinforcements/replacements are available that turn as you have stated in 4.
    I'd be interested in a copy of the rules for your SHAM/PW game once formalized.

    1. Maudlin Jack -
      I might have to knock together a more formalised SHAM/PoW game system, though it would be at least 80% the Bob Cordery system. But it did seem to me that the 'hospitals', 'spies' and 'engineers' ought to have a place in this incarnation. What I've come up with so far added a measure of intrigue to the proceeding.

  2. Ion, responding to points 1, 2 & 3 run together.
    Firstly, what do lost SP represent?
    I know you are not a fan of VnB, but there's a very good discussion on this by Frank Chadwick. People have asked whether 0 SP = total annihilation. FC stresses that the loss of 1 SP from a 2 SP unit (representing 1000 men) equates more to a loss of 250 men rather than 500. It is more about the loss of cohesion following significant losses. So 0 SP (in above example) still represents 500 men.
    For traffic jams and methods of recovery, how about stealing the regroup order from CD?
    For the use of an order, 2 units could be ordered to regroup. Remove both units and place one full strength unit (or whatever) at the casualty station to make its way back to the front.

    1. Neil -
      Although I am inclined in some versions of PW to assign SPs some numerical strength value (as I did for my Waterloo game a few years back), on the whole I regard them as representing 'fighting' strength, which incorporates morale and cohesion more than numerical strength. Hence the 'overnight' recovery system I used in my Map Games.

      On the whole I have been reluctant to see 0SP as total annihilation, but one has to find a consistent method of dealing with it. I think my idea of 'teleporting' 0SP units to 'hospital' to recover 1SP per turn is the simplest I've come up with so far. It does have the tendency, though, of sending half-refurbished units back into the battle. Not that that is an implausible outcome of an overloaded commissariat/ medical service.

      I didn't think of the Command Decision 'Regroup' order, but it's certainly an idea. It does have the virtue of mitigating the effects of attrition without (my concern) risking eliminating it altogether.

  3. I spent quite a lot of time thinking about resupply for my One Hour WW2 rules, in the end I just lump everything together as 'reorganisation', which includes medevac, ammo supply, repairs and sorting the chaps out. I just borrowed the NQM mechanism that half the units losses are recovered, but the main thing is to strictly limit how many units a turn can be reorganised. I don't have the slightest problem with 0SP units wandering around, they've probably only suffered 30% losses anyway, but if they have been overrun while surrounded, then they have probably been completely destroyed. An option is to allow cavalry/tanks to overrun 0SP infantry and artillery units and completely destroy them too.

    1. Martin -
      In many of my games, I have treated 0SP units much as you have described. WW2 seems especially to call for it. But in other games, to my mind, it doesn't seem to 'fit' so well. I certainly would not use it for my Byzantiad games, nor, for that matter for my 30YW/17th Century battles. 0SP represents there a total collapse, non-recoverable on the immediate battlefield.

      Even the 7YW could be problematic for defeated units. On the night after the battle of Kunersdorf, King Frederick II of Prussia could find but 3000 in hand of the 48,000 he led into battle. Perhaps ten times as many survived the disaster, but, their units broken, took all night and probably well into the next day to begin reforming into recognisable units.

      That reminds me that I like to think of battles in the context of a wider campaign. 'Shambattle', as I have been playing it, have been more in the nature of border clashes, although many readers saw the actions at the river crossings as three separate battles. I admit to thinking back to my December 2020 'Indulgence' posting, which did have the operational look and feel. I reckon I might have to revisit Lazia and the Sluggard River valley...

      All of which offers food for thought, but, whatever I settle on for my games, I want to keep it simple!

  4. There needs to be some regulation on the number of the depots or else too many units return as a " second wave" each turn. Or adding complexity to the scheme where mobile depots only repair losses of 1 or 2 SP's with heavier losses get replaced farther back at immobile depots.

    1. pancerni -
      I did consider (post-battle) perhaps allowing a greater capacity to the 'fixed' depot, but remain in two minds about that. My thoughts and these discussions have occasionally reminded me that even with the enlarged theatre of war represented by my hex-board, its limited size will impose constraints upon the army organisations. That was one of the reasons for my reducing the rifle infantry to 12 (from 14) units, to make way for the engineers and an extra (medium) artillery unit. Traffic can become problematic, as the 4th Chasseurs found, negotiating a path to join the Army of Redina.

      Well, my philosophy when faced with finding a way to deal with a situation: 'think complicated: do simple'. Think around all the implications, then find the simplest way to cope with them.

  5. To all who have commented on this posting -
    Thank you all for your input and ideas. You have certainly given me plenty to think about and a range of options for the 'finishing' of a Sham/PoW rule set, especially in the field of logistics.

  6. So many things to consider…
    I would suggest that, in the strict sense of the word, a Hospital might be able to “fix” some wounds fairly quickly but that the more severely wounded soldiers would take a considerable time to recover (if at all). So, some soldiers would be able to return to the fray quite soon - but others would be “hors de combat”/recuperating for quite a long time (and thus not available to return to service in this particular battle). To summarise - I reckon that if a unit is reduced to 0 SPs it should, in the short-term, only be allowed to recover a single SP at a Hospital.
    If historically valid - say, a nation has developed a particularly effective medical/hospital service - then maybe have a “reasonable” (whatever that is) chance of recovering a second SP, depending on a dice throw.
    Logistics depots? Something similar I reckon, but perhaps consider that they depots will likely have a stockpile of general stuff. If a nation is being invaded (so fighting on its own territory) then they would presumably have some pre-positioned depots, whereas the invading army would have to rely upon its own (mobile) depots.
    Good luck with the continuing battle… ⚔️⚔️

    1. Geoff -
      I think the ideas you have expressed here describe a game far more elaborate - more 'finely grained' - than what we have in mind for Sham/PoW. We want, I think, pretty much all you have suggested rolled into one game mechanic that 'fits' easily into the rest.

      At the moment, the game hasn't quite got to that - pretty close, but not quite. You are right to point out that the commissariat, ordnance and medical services are separate, and ought possibly to be handled severally. In a much larger game of the SimPubs and AvHill variety they often are. But we then stray into a game that would probably require a larger area (in terms of grid cells) than I can accommodate.

      One possibility is to allocate to each of the three 'hospital' one of those services. But then they would mean different things (I'm 'thinking out loud, here). Chances are good, supposing one has a different game mechanic for each, the one you want is way over the other side of the battlefield.

      Time to go all 'Napoleon' here, methinks. I'll call the 'fixed' installation a 'Centre of Operations', and the mobile, 'Petite Places', or, simply, (Supply) Trains. All contain the victualling, arming, medical and replacement services. Recovery of SPs simply means refitting a depleted unit, replacing losses in men and equipment, and resupplying food and ammunition.

      At some point, probably after completing the battle narrative, I'll outline 'where I'm at' for my hex version of Sham/PoW.

  7. It seems to me that for the hospitals/depots to make sense the time frame needs to be expanded, with each round of combat representing a half day or more. I regard lost SP as depleted ammunition, exhaustion and loss of the will to fight as well as casualties, so the depots could represent rallying points where supplies etc. Are available. I really like your random die roll system for SP recovery. Its a nice, neat wsy to handle the issue of logistics without having to play out complicated turn sequences and the associated record keeping. I think it has excellent potential for use in all sorts of campaign games.

    1. Mark -
      The whole game system rather glosses over the time scale - and the ground scale, too, I'm inclined to think. Now that you mention it, though, you might have planted the seeds of an idea how to formalise and regulate the use of our operations centres and trains.

      Here's a thought:
      A period of 24 hours is divided into five: dawn/early morning; forenoon; afternoon, evening (late afternoon)/dusk; night.
      No movement or combat at night, but trains and depots used to refurb depleted units withdrawn from the front or (maybe) reduced to 0SP.

      Seems a simple enough approach, and worth examining in another battle.

    2. Good idea! Interested in seeing how it plays out. I'm also thinking of some modifiers for use when adapting it, maybe a +1 for armies in their home territory, and if they have a notably good logistics system, -1 in enemy territory or if their system is notably bad?

  8. Hello Ion, another great action - the figures look wonderful. Thanks very much for sharing. Quinn