Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maloyaroslavets Playtesting #1

Eugene gets out on the field for the first time
I was able to clear off enough time to get in a playtest of the Maloyaroslavets game today.

I did this to ensure that I had all the materials for the terrain, I knew I had the troops, it was all the hills and rivers and five roads that are all over this battlefield that I was unsure of.

After spending more than an hour in laying out nearly ever section of 1/2" foam hexagons and slopes that I have and some of the 1" thick stuff also I was able to more or less layout the topography for the battlefield.

I needed to use all by 2 of the new river sections that I have for the tributary stream and 2/3rds of the cloth river that I have, all three woods 'under' sections were put into use.  Like I said this is a BUSY battlefield.
Italian forces arrive and press south on the one road across the river

Then came some time to lay out the starting positions for the troops and snap some pictures.
Maloyaroslavets manned by Italian troops "inside" my tabletop buildings

After feeding children (something I do a lot of on the weekends) I was able to get the first moves done and sort out the timings for arrival of the other troops ... though some more playtest and thinking may be needed here as FPGA does not have a 'set' time on each turn or pulse, this will make for somewhat unpredictable arrivals for the troops.  In this playtest there were only 2 pulses on turn three, which meant that a lot of troops were going to all arrive at the start of turn 4.  Causing some crowding to say the least.
Game 'on hold' I will be able to leave it up overnight though and finish on Monday

The battle centers around the town of Maloyaroslavets (shown on my map as the two buildings near the top of the hill) and the Church (seen with the tall steeple and blue roof).  My smaller buildings are all large enough to have the 3" square bases for the troops be set 'inside' them for 'occupying' the town sections, I do not have one like this for my church yet, though I am seeing a design for it in the future in my minds eye now.

A callout for firewood came and I had to put all further playtest and planning thoughts down, make dinner and go out to haul wood for three hours.

The rest of the playtest and further notes will come this week.

Another Sample Map

The Cyberboard tools working continues for the Leipzig Campaign.
Sample Map for a starting position - Liepzig Campaign concept

This time I have tightened up on the classical map symbols and filled them in - ending up with something more akin to Tactics II I am figuring.

I still wanted to have something from the minis games so as a nod to them I have done the 'unknown' sections as 'eagles' and 'lions' that I use in games.

Once again the technical data about the troops would only appear to the players in Cyberboard, I plan on doing a screen shot of what that might look like soon.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

GURPS Mass Combat tool

For the planned Leipzig campaign game, I plan to use the Generic Universal Role Playing System (GURPS) Mass Combat system for dealing with any of the combat engagements that are *not* otherwise being dealt with.  Such as via active player tabletop games or such proxy games as there are tabletop players (groups or solo) that wish to take the game(s) on.

The GURPS MASS COMBAT Spreadsheet tool has a number of great potential uses and I am glad to have found it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Larger Mapping sample

More progress on the Cyberboard tools for Leipzig.
A sample Map for Leipzig campaign, standard symbols in the center with 'alternate' versions to the southeast

This time I have put out the full map from Hamburg and Wurtzburg in the west to Graudenz and Blansko in the east.

On the map are a mix of the French units (as troops and 'eagle' markers - used when there is limited information about the forces present), as octagons and standard military symbols with some other 'flag' markers (as possible other notes or HQ or supply information) and also national flags for similar purposes.

These are for examination and I would like to get some feedback on what folks might like to see in the 'game data' area.

Eugene de Beauharnais

Eugene de Beauharnais

 The conversion is all finished and painted.
Conversion completed
I wish to thank Ross Mac for encouraging me to do the Pelisse as well on he sculpting of this miniature as it completed the whole 'look' for this feature command miniature in more closely matching the classic painting.

Eugene de Beauharnais three view around the finished miniature

Borodino 'down under'

Image of the recapture of Borodino by Russians
On the 200th anniversary the Avon Napoleonic Fellowship played out the great battle of Borodino.

The battle account is summarized HERE.

Certainly a great day of tabletop action.

Sample Mapping

I have been experimenting with some mapping issues for use in Cyberboard for the proposed LEIPZIG campaign.
Map symbols Classic on the left - minis as tiles on the right

I have both the traditional map symbols and some pictures of minis as units or skirmishers etc ...

Which sort of strategic visuals would you prefer to see?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Russian Personalities

All finished now are the six Old Glory Command Personalities.

Old Glory Russian Personalities

Platov, Barclay De Tolly, Tsar Alexander, Benningsen, Kutuzov and Prince Bagration.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Russian Troops

92 new Russian Troops
Seven more regiments/battalions for my Russian forces are done now.

This brings my Russians up to a closer number to the French that I already have.

Kazan Regiment
One of the things I like about the Russian uniforms are the distinct collar, cuff and pompom center colors.  It makes painting up the troops very fast as the green tunics are all the same with only the accent colors needed to finish them off.

Bare metal to finished in 25 days.

The Smolensk Regiment - the Pink cuffs are very visual

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recruiting Party


For Campaign Command in an 1813 Leipzig based campaign - possibly others.

Solo game players with Napoleonic forces are also welcomed as there will exist plenty of potential for proxy battles (there is no way a single player or even a few table tops could game out all the battles that have the potential for play)

Top command structure and historically minded players needed for:  Tasr of Russia, Emperor of Austria and King of Prussia.

Senior command positions for Army of Silesia & Wing commander, Army of Bohemia & Wing Commander and Army of the North and wing Commander.

Tabletop commander with a significant Napoleonic collection willing to take on the vitally important task of French Command, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Experienced Napoleonic game players sought for the positions of the French Wing Commanders (at least 2)

The plan is to have a 'warm-up' session using some Cyberboard tools in November and December of 2012, then get into active campaign and put the troops into action by March of 2013.

Those wishing to partake may either leave an email contact here in the comments, or send email to:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Battle Chronicler ... some thoughts

Full field of battle from recent Garden Wars game
I have had some time to experiment with the Battle Chronicler system.

The software was designed for use by Warhammer 40K fans, with some tools brought in for role-playing.  It is certainly dominated by the Warhammer concepts.

My first impressions were of how good this might be for detailing ongoing tabletop games and possibly for use in running such games over the web via email and such-like.

The potential for the email games is still valid, however I have pushed the software out to some rather large limits.

In chronicling the recent Garden Wars game, I was using a map 30 feet by 24 feet, this would be about 8 times larger surface area than was intended for use by this software.

Once I figured out how to enter the troops, which was a bit of a learning curve, then I was able to see what a good tool this program could be.  Most certainly as a PBEM system support there is merit for the program.

Difficulties that I encountered:

1) system hog, the program demanded massive amounts of my system's active memory.  So much so that I found I could only get it to work properly by shutting down my computer first, then disconnecting it from the internet and once restarting keeping all other programs off.  This may be a by-product of the massive map, though even in the smaller early tests I did see a significant 'lag' in the re-draw of the map when moving about it using the scroll function.

2)  terrain generation limitations - again this is likely from the WH40K issue that the program was meant for.  I will either have to design or find a geo-hex system for the program in order to use it for the tabletops that I like to set up

3) only simple data for the units with no way to update the units - technical information like morale status or other notes that are specific to a game system - again simply not part of WH40K - but I could see the value for RPG use.

In the end, my normal, smaller tabletop games I can get pictures of the whole table and have no critical need to use the program to 'tell the tale' of those battles.  I do have need for it in such large things as the Garden Wars, yet found the lag, and other program difficulties frustrating my efforts rather then helping them.

For the purpose the program was meant for I suppose it is good.

For my use in generating more battle reports for the minis games?  Not so much.

Precarious Position

"If your majesty still conserves for me some remnant of your former feelings", wrote Napoleon to Alexander on September 20, "You will take this letter in good part."

This was hardly the language of a confident conqueror addressing a vanquished enemy; it was almost the tone of a suppliant asking a favor.  The Emperor, in fact, was reporting the devastation of Moscow by fire, evincing the greatest anxiety to place the blame squarely on the heads of the Tsar's servants lest the catastrophe should ruin the chances of a negotiated peace treaty.  Napoleon's strongest wish at this juncture was to see the war brought to a rapid conclusion even at the price of a compromise peace.  He could not believe that the Tsar, after having learnt of his army being beaten at Borodino, his religious capital occupied by the enemy ans subsequently burned by hs own minions, would have any further hesitations on the matter; peace was the only logical outcome, or so it appeared to Napoleon's rather warped sense of judgement.  The King of Naples, at any rate was convinced that all desire for further hostilities had left the Russian armies.  From the cavalry reserve's advanced positions to teh east and south of Moscow, Murat was continually reporting friendly contacts with Cossack chieftains, and many evidences of fraternization could be seen at other point of the front.  The French Emperor, in fact, was being deliberately lulled into a false sense of security, for Field-Marshal Kutusov was determined to gain invaluable time before the next phase of the campaign should open.  The Court of St. Petersburg, moreover, remained ominously silent when Napoleon's first tentative feelers were put forward in the second half of September.
The Court of St. Petersburg

~ D. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, p. 813

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Happy Birthday
The 13th of September marked my sixth year of operating this blog and this year will have the most posts ever in one year!

Thank you to everyone who has read and / or commented here.

WHY do we play?

Why do we play the games we play?

This question has come to mind recently again, due in part to my taking part in an online, play-by-e-mail (PBEM) game.

I am recalled to this discussion as it came up early in the design of some campaigns that I did for fellow table-top gamers in the 1990's.

There are many points I will touch on in the coming weeks about this subject and I wanted to open the discussion with just the simple question:


I would love to read your views.

Garden Wars I AAR 3

Turn 12 continued as the Russians had been maneuvered out of the town, now mostly assembled on their former left flank.  The Cossacks were almost cut off from the rest of the army by French Hussars and Dragoons that had pressed hard after crossing the river.

The whole of the center, seen from the 'former' French side of the river.
The end of turn 12, Cossacks on the left, Dragoons on the  right (in the shadows)
The Army of Italy now completed the new gun line, facing towards the remaining Russian forces.  There was also the first major clash of Hussars & Dragoons with the Cossacks. 

Italian gun line forms up.
There was only one battalion or squadron that needed to be overcome now by the Army of Italy in order to make the Russians fall back.

Now truly cut off from the rest of the Russian army, these Cossacks would have to fight to survive
The remaining Russians were still straining every nerve to push forward far enough to get some clear shots at the forming up French and Italians and their allied forces...

at long last the Russian Grenadier Guards were deploying into lines
Now with their new (correct) flags the Pavlov Grenadiers were looking dangerous in their own gun line
Alas, the Russian efforts on the flank were not to have much effect, for the Cossacks, cut off and facing blown and tired French Hussars and Dragoons simply could not overcome the drill and cohesion of the French horsemen.  The Cossack force was utterly routed.

outclassed, even with blown horses, by Hussars and Dragoons these Cossacks were routed
even blown (the horse markers are in the foreground 'behind the units') the French horsemen were better than the Cossacks
There would have been a bloody repulse had any of the other Russians attempted to advance, as the French & Italians had established their gun line.

The Army of Italy was set up with a new gun line firing into Russian positions
Final positions of the troops
This created an end of game situation as the score was 3 for the Russians and 9 for the French.

Final score at turn 13, 9 Russian battalion/squadrons lost to 3 for the French
The result was a complete FRENCH (Army of Italy) VICTORY.

Well perhaps not totally complete ... the Russians did manage to recapture that horse battery ... grumble, grumble.

I shall round out the post with some photos of the forces as they appeared at the end of the battle.

The town after all was done ...

The troops back in their drawers, ready to be packed away after a great day out in the Garden Wars!

Garden Wars I AAR 2

Garden Wars game September 3, 2012

Picking up the battle on turn 9, the Russian Guard had started to make its presence known, so the French were now going to have to get the victory or face an ever-increasing tide of Russians....

The full field on turn 9
An overview of the situation for turn 9:  The French Heavy Cavalry was now pressing hard to cross the river at the sheltered spot that could permit them to outflank the town ... the Cossacks facing them were also getting orders to re-position.

In the center, the town was now in French hands, with a new 'gun line' planned and the Italian Guard were going to prepare that ground.

On the left, the French Light Cavalry were now faced by Russian Dragoons...

The center was now dominated by the Army of Italy
From behind the left, the Russian Guardsmen and Lifeguard Cavalry were riding to the rescue ...

Russian relief columns, Guard on the lower half, Dragoons to the upper left
Russian Guard Grenadiers, marching in columns to reach the town

The French Light Cavalry, chasseurs and lancers did not hesitate, for they did not wish to be caught in flank or rear - they pressed the issue of dominance on the flank immediately.

Russian Dragoons and French Chasseurs & Lancers facing off
The French Light Cavalry was still wounded from the earlier efforts breaking squares, taking artillery batteries and having casualties from those engagements, while the Russian Dragoons were coming in fresh.  The contest was over in an instant for the badly mauled Chasseurs while the Lancers proved more resilient, falling back to the river ford.

French Lancers recoil to the river ... looking to rally
those Lancers never did rally ... the Dragoons took the captured artillery back!

Meanwhile in the center, the Italian divisions were crossing the river in force now.

Russian view of the coming hordes of the Army of Italy
Crossing the river in force, Italian Grenadiers and Guardsmen up close
A wider view of the crossings, with the Heavy Cavalry seen on the far left
pouring over the river - as seen from above
Pleased with progress, Eugene - Viceroy of Italy (in foreground) - watches the Army of Italy crossing
Only three more battalions needed to be overcome and the Russians would be thrown out of the area, Eugene, Viceroy of Italy, considered the Cossacks the best target to get those kills.  A new order was prepared to launch the Heavy Cavalry after them once they had crossed the river.

Turn 10 consisted of a position consolidation.

The Army of Italy continued to press across the river and form a new line ... with spaces for artillery, which was now also in motion across the river.

The town center was now being crossed in force by French troops
The Army of Italy was across the river, with a new battle line staked out ...
All the while the Russian Guard & Life Guard Cavalry advanced, still not at their assigned stopping points.  The Dragoons that had captured the gun battery and shattered the French Light Cavalry were now resting ... in preparation to strike at the Italians now coming over the river.

Russian Dragoons resting after capturing the artillery, the 'blown' horse can be seen in the rear of the unit.
Those Dragoons, once rested launched a devastating attack on the Italian Grenadiers, who were caught in LINE and in the FLANK!

Italian Grenadiers caught in line and enfilade by Russian Dragoons
Italian Grenadiers are crushed by Russian Dragoons, final score 11-6 : 5 casualties!  The remainder of the unit fled the field.

Even though the Division lost 1/2 of their number the Guardsmen remained with their artillery and continued to establish the new gun line.

Army of Italy moves forward to new gun line positions, in the distance French Hussars can be seen driving deep into the Russian line of communication with their Cossacks
Turn 12 was another one of some consolidation, for though the Dragoons could have reformed and possibly pressed on again, they were now blown and the closest Italian unit was the Guard, now in square, with other squares nearby to support it.

The field overview, Russians now turned out of the position