Big Bloody Scharnhorst – Day 4 Battle of Bolkhov

While the Russians suffered a major defeat at Inask (orange frame) there was also an even larger battle raging to the north at the same time. This is the story of the battle of Bolkhov (blue frame).

The six sectors translated to the following tabletop after additional terrain placements and deployment. Note, the battlefield is rotated 90° counter clockwise. North is to the left in the image below.

I have been tinkering with these maps. They are just a rough draft. Tell me if you find these helpful to follow the battle.

Both sides faced several challenges on this battlefield. The French had a good defensive position for their fewer numbers if they managed to block all three bridges over the Msta river (impassible). As the Prussian contingent started on the wrong side of the river and the French center was only occupied by the cavalry reserve, it was not a given to achieve.

The Russians could just sit on their side of the river and defend as well. Their position would probably even stronger but they had superior numbers and limited time before their flank at Inask would be rolled up towards Bolkhov. Their strategic position felt a tad like Waterloo from Napoleon’s perspective here. A strong force to attack with on a battlefield with limited space and the clock is against you.

Initial Orders

I wrote two sets of orders, one offensive, one defensive for both sides divisions and let the dice decide. These orders could be changed during the game but the basic mindset (offensive/defensive) would be a principle factor for order changes.

The French and their allies decided on defensive orders:
-Von Steuben (left flank): Cross the Msta and defend south of it.
-Collin (center, cavalry only): Stay in reserve.
-Merle (right flank): Defend the hill in the southwest.
-Lessard (right flank): Defend the central bridge.

The Russians decided to attack:
-Koltsov & Vorodnin (right flank): Attack the enemy in front of you.
-Medhorovsky (center): Stay in reserve.
-Nosov (center): Advance and cross the Msta.
-Davydov: Cross the Msta and take the hill in the southwest.

So the Russians plan to cross a river with superior forces to crush the French. Suddenly I get a whiff of Friedland…

Early Morning

The stage is set. French have the initiative but let us watch the action from the Russian side first, as they are the attackers.

Davydov arrays his men to cross the Msta near Bolkhov. Their crossing will be unopposed as Merle on the other side has orders to hold his position. He doesn’t even have artillery to harass the Russians.

In the center, Nosov sends his Cossacks in first to scout and is slow to reorganize his men for the crossing. On the far side you can see the bulk of Lessard’s division marching up to the river to oppose Nosov.

On the Russian right flank the battle starts in earnest. Koltsov sends swarms of Hussars to harass the Prussians. Zimin is repulsed by Hülse’s Prussian Cuirassiers while Polunin sneaks around the flank to attack infantry in march column. He is repulsed as well. This wouldn’t be a believable result in small scale games, where cavalry will eat march columns for breakfast but here it is. ~3000 bayonets won’t be ridden down by light cavalry in just one attack. Hasty squares will be formed, everything gets in terrible disarray (disordered) and men will die but eventually the Hussars don’t have the numbers or stamina for a prolonged attack and retire. Yellow markers are disorder markers.

Vorodnin brings up his infantry but is slow to do so. Even with the Hussar attack going on von Steuben might have enough time to cross the Msta to the save side.

Lessard gets his men to the center quickly and Plante starts to engage with artillery support. Enemy Cossacks and infantry are held in check on the far side of the river.

Von Steuben gets his infantry over the Msta while Hülse’s cavalry beats back repeated charges from Hussars. This is only possible by emergency unlimbering his substantial artillery assets to canister the Russian cavalrymen. Ammo reserves are further up the column and becomes a problem quickly.

Morning

Concerned about the huge number of Russian infantry crossing near Bolkhov, the French activate Courcelle’s heavy cavalry to offer flanking support.

Meanwhile Merle’s infantry opens up with telling volleys. Return fire is effective as well, as the Russians have heavy artillery support from across the river.

A similar situation develops in the center with Lessard’s troops stopping the Russian advance with help from horse artillery of Collin’s reserve.

Pressure on the French allies mounts on the right flank. Hülse’s Cuirassiers are beating back enemy Hussars for hours now.

Midday

By midday von Steuben already received a slew of confusing orders from the blasted french commander. As the C-in-C of the whole theatre is not present, the French commander is rash and micro managing to much. Luckily the bad orders don’t arrive in time and the good order do. Meanwhile an order from the Russian command reaches Nosov with some delay. he is ordered to cease his advance and hold his side of the river bank.

After the first unsuccessful attempt to cross the Msta he is happy to oblige and arrays his troops at the river bank. This is a strong defensive position but his men are bad shots and lack artillery support. They are quickly out of ammunition as well.

Merle and Davydov are fighting over the hill. French cavalry from the reserve is held in check by Pugin’s infantry in square. Abramov and Bychkov have trouble to advance against thick clouds of French skirmishers.

Hülse is pressured to retire and Prussian artillery unlimbers again in an desperate attempt to keep the advancing Russians in check. At least von Steuben’s infantry forces are now in position to defend the bridge.

Early Afternoon

by now the frontlines are mostly drawn and the battle gets into its attritional phase.

Davydov’s forces charge uphill but are repulsed.

Nosov and Lessard fight along the river bank with the French gaining the upper hand.

Hülse rallies his men and sends them forward again to repel the enemy. Under the cover of his cavalry von Steuben can finally get his artillery over the Msta. The Russians are hampered by traffic jams and poor command.

Another attack goes in and this time the losses are horrendous on both sides. Russian morale is still high though. Coudert’s brigade lining the hill becomes spent. Is this the end of the French left flank? French command thinks so and orders Lessard to extend his line to link up with Merle.

The order arrives but fighting troops are difficult to shift. Combat ebbs though, as the Russians retire with mounting losses. Behind Nosov, Medhorovsky is ordered to leave his reserve positions and prepare for a road march towards the Russian left flank. The intention is to support Davydov but the lead column is slow to move.

Von Steuben finally gets all his forces safely to the French side of the Msta. His infantry lines the river banks. A strong defensive position but he is outnumbered quite a bit.

Afternoon

As the French line retires, the entire Russian reserve is ordered to support Davydov.

Here is Medhorovsky whipping his march columns into shape. Nosov retired further back as telling artillery fire dispersed his cossacks. Farther in the back on the right you can see Plante’s brigade from Lessard’s division moving to support Merle.

Vorodin and Koltsov throw their forces into fray as an order arrives to be aggressive. Casualties begin to mount on both sides.

Late Afternoon

Once moving Plante wedge his brigade efficiently between the other French forces and begins to push the Russians back. Pugin’s men face severe ammo shortages which makes it difficult to hold the ground.

Just as Lessard sent his biggest brigade away to support Merle another order arrives: Counterattack! With artillery reshuffling and nearly half his infatry not in place he launches the attack. For what its worth it is well executed and leaves Bogdanov’s brigade spent and bloodied. Nosov manages to threaten the flank with Kravchuk.

The tragedy about this can’t be seen in this picture. Just right of the image Medhorovsky’s reserve troops are still on orders to march away. The order to turn and support Nosov are late! Half of Medhorovsky’s men march away from the failing center while one of his brigades bumbles about, unsure which way to turn.

What started as a running battle for the Prussians now becomes a painful grind. At least Hülse’s Helden (heroes), as they are already called, have been pulled back in reserve and can get some desperately needed rest.

As darkness begins to fall troops from three French divisions shore up the flank against Davydov. The Russians are finished though. Losses, low supplies and constant threat from cavalry makes it impossible to take the hill before nightfall.

In the center Saindon and Verieur of Lessard’s division have crossed the Msta in a counter attack. Saindon managed to advance as far as the road and clashed with Modhorovsky’s bumbling brigade but they held the advance in check. With the Russian reserve streaming back the counter attack would probably be beaten back in time but French achieved their goal to cause losses and confusion.

Primakov breaks and Essen suffered heavy losses against concentrated Prussian artillery from across the Msta. Vorodnin and Koltsov still have more men but a breakthrough before nightfall is not possible.

Final positions after turn 10.

Aftermath

After ten hours of fighting the battle of Bolkhov ends. It is time to rally the survivors, tally the losses and decide the winner.

The French and Prussians rallied one infantry stand and chalk up 5 infantry lost. I was quite surprised as the Russians mounted so much pressure that losses felt higher.

The Russians rallied several stand back but still lost 11 infantry, 2 cavalry and one artillery is reduced.

Looking at the battlefield the French achieved their goals while the Russians didn’t. Both flanks are secure, albeit with a lot of help for Merle. The center delivered a successful counterattack. It is not complete success though. The Russians can retreat in an orderly fashion. Only Davydov at the left flank is a bit isolated but he has heavy artillery support which makes retreat of the Msta possible. In conclusion this is a French victory.

How did it play?

To be honest, the battle was a slog to play to completion. I wanted to have a variable turn number and roll if the battle continues after turn 10 but couldn’t encourage myself to play another turn.

So what happened? Basically I tripped over myself. I placed an impassible river at the center of the campaign map, I decided to battle there and I set it up as the map told me to do it. So I ended up with a table where I essentially fought three bridge crossing mini battles (to put it negatively). Take a look at the start and end position of all forces to see how static the whole affair was.

What I probably should have done was to combine both campaign battles into one and shift the battlefield around a bit or make the river fordable. BBB and its scale lends itself well maneuvering and that’s what I limited, funneling the Russians down three lanes.

Of course this is always a risk when playing campaigns where the battleground can be chosen by the commanders. It is a powerful reminder, of an aspect that is missing in most pickup battles. A good battle ground does not necessarily make a entertaining battlefield. The same holds true with troops arriving piecemeal and at sectors you don’t want them to be. From a period flavor perspective everything worked like a charm. Many things felt like I read them somewhere. Late and confusing orders lead to decisions a general might have taken but a wargamer wouldn’t. Counterattacks, attrition, the importance of artillery support, it went the whole mile.

From a rules perspective it also was a success. All these historical aspects of the period were achieved by Blücher’s Scharnhorst system, the order system and Big Bloody Battles with Napoleonic amendments. The French are responsive in command and have powerful skirmisher screens. The Russians are tough to crack, bad at musketry but a tad better in melee. They are slow to get into gears but then they roll towards you with numbers and relentlessness.

So overall I’m happy with the result. I learned a lot for future battles and campaigns and added BBB+period amendments to my top tier rule sets. Looking back at the battle I think I will have fond memories for these parts that worked. This is why I was more thorough in this battle report 🙂

The campaign

I will address the campaign implications of this battle in another post.

Big Bloody Scharnhorst – Day 4 Battle of Inask

After a long hiatus I finished the write up of the first campaign battle. It has been fought quite a while back but it has been a tumultuous year to say the least. See my prior posts to read about the days leading up to this battle fought with the Big Bloody Battles rule and Napoleonic amendments.

The battle of Inask (a small village not depicted) is happening in the lower (orange frame) of both battles fought at day 4 of the campaign:

These six sectors translated to the following map after additional terrain placement. The river in the upper right sector is impassable except by the bridge. Further down it becomes a stream and is passable.

Reinforcements will arrive in turn 3 at the earliest but usually later and sometimes never.

Zimin deployed his Guard Cavalry on the center hill. His orders are to buy time for reinforcements to arrive. Past the stream Ménard’s Division has deployed.

Another view from Zimin to the south. Pirot’s Guard Division in the distance has been ordered to attack the hill aggressively.

At first Zimin’s Cavalry keeps the French at bay by defending the river banks.

But the extremely aggressive Pirot soon pushes back Zimin before Ilyin’s Infantry and artillery is in place. The ensuing fight at the foot of the hill is chaotic. On the lower left French Cuirassiers of Penterre fall back from a long sweeping advance that began with routing Grishkin’s Cossacks.

A view of the western front. Glazkovsky’s Guards hold back Ménard’s entire Division but they won’t hold forever.

Beretschov arrives at the earliest possible moment but has to cross the bridge to get into the fight.

The Russians barely stabilize their lines at the foot of the hill as Glazkovsky’s Guards fall back (right). More French will soon cross the river.

Faltenbach arrives in the early afternoon with his massive, unwieldy columns. This photo and the next two are shot from left to right.

On the other side of the bridge. The Russians already suffered some losses and now Kirilov’s flank is threatened by the large Austrian Division.

Ménard sends Jetté’s Lt. Dragoons into combat again and again, making the Russian reinforcement road a dangerous place. Here is Frolov’s Brigade in square. By the end of the battle Jetté charged 4-5 times. Half of those charges against superior numbers or positions.

Russian reinforcements make slow progress due to bad command and French cavalry in the vicinity.

Kirilov and Katzbach falter. Kirilov is in square but after this photo has been taken, a massed cavalry attack from Penterre’s Cuirassier Guards and Beyen’s Hussars sweep away the disordered square and exploit into Kalzbach. During all this Ilyin got wounded and Zimin got killed by a French Cavalry squadron.

Remember Frolov’s brigade defending the reinforcement road in square? It’s gone. Aggressive French skirmishers harassed the square at will. As a shot hit Frolov, the tall commander fell down dead like a tree. His men routed immediately. With this gap threatening the reinforcement route and turn after turn of devastating cavalry assaults, partly into the flank of march columns, the Russians break and quit the field.

The Aftermath

Inask was a disaster for the Russians. Their initial position seemed to be well laid out for a defensive action but the French and Austrian forces attacked too soon and too well coordinated. The Russian reinforcement corridor was quickly contested as well. Boxed into a small area with cavalry roaming around the losses were high.

Zimin fell during the battle. His Division lost the Cossacks and Popov’s Guards lost too many men to be fielded again in this campaign. Though Popov stepped up to command the Division.

Ilyin lost one heavy artillery battery and Frolov’s Infantry is way too weak to be fielded again. Katzbach and Kirilov recovered some men in their retreat but are both at 50% strength. Ilyin himself was wounded, captured then freed and wounded again. He will continue to command his troops against the hated French. As Beretschov received the blame for Inask, Ilyin is already celebrated as a hero of Russia preventing an even worse outcome.

Beretschov was lightly wounded as well and had Rechensky lose a base. The campaign forces 7 and 8 are now both under 50% strength.

On the French side losses were surprisingly light due to several rally rolls during and after battle. Only Ménard’s Division suffered permanent losses. Both Routhier and Jetté lost a base each. Corbin’s Division didn’t even show up in time to influence the battle. In terms of bases lost this battle ended with a lopsided 2 French to 12 Russian. Several Russian standards and guns have been captured as well.

Invasion of Cylene 3 (Alpha Strike)

As news from the battle at Ghetra stream in it looks grim for FedCom. Their supply depot at Ghetra is in enemy hands, the surviving Mechs are still on the retreat and not available for the final stand. Combine forces have advanced far and are now on the other side of the New Rhine river. It marks the last defense line FedCom can maintain. Their forces are mainly light machines but for the force commanders Warhammer heavy Mech.

The Combine smashed through everything FedCom could field within mere days. It has precious little to make the final push. Even the Dragon from the battle of Ghetra is joining with most of its armor gone.

Assault over the New Rhine

Said Dragon (bottom) and a Locust advance around the large woods on the right flank to be safe from enemy fire.

On the left flank the Wolverine (bottom) and a Jenner hug the hills.

FedCom makes use of the large central hills to utilize its Warhammer (center). It is the slowest, most powerful Mech that has to be protected from light Mechs flanking it.

The FedCom Wasp pushes on aggressively but receives precise fire that strips its armor.

With the Wasp damaged Combine forces make a push for the central hill. The Dragon with damage from the battle prior hangs back and fires missiles into the fray.

The tag team of Jenner and Locust outmaneuver FedCom forces. In order to protect the Warhammer Fedcom pushes its light machines into close combat only to get smacked to the ground by the Combine Jenner. The FedCom Wasp laying down wont stand up after this, ever.

Some hundred meters away the other FedCom Wasp jumped to different positions turn after turn making the Combine Wolverine’s position untenable. With long range support from the Warhammer armor and internal structure breaks, tears and burns. The Wolverine is too damaged to stay around and is about to retreat.

After this pivot turn passed several turns of high maneuver warfare commenced. FedCom’s Firestarted broke away to go after the already damaged Crusader. Moments after this hsot the Crusader closed and cored the tiny Mech from point blank range. The pilot had no time to eject.

This left FedCom with only two Mechs but the Wasp lost all its weapons and retreated. The FedCom commander in his mighty Warhammer was all that stood between teh Combine forces and total victory.

But the machine and its pilot were simply no match for three enemy Mechs. It took out an enemy Locust but crumbled into a pile of molted metal and torn myomer muscles shortly after. The Combine managed to pull through and achieve victory even with inferior forces. One day later the black and red flag of the Draconis Combine was raised at Cylene’s military base and all FedCom forces formally surrendered.

Thoughts on Alpha Strike

During play I tried many different advanced rules and house rules and always came back to the base rules with the exception of variable damage. In Alpha Strike damage is deterministc, only the hit roll is up for chance. This makes for a very deadly game where there is not much chance for unit damage and critical hits. At the rather low unit count I’m playing with this robs me of the epic feel of these large lumbering machines. Variable damage makes you roll 1d6 for every point of damage. On a roll of 3+ it is scored as damage with a minimum of one damage. Especially the last scenario showed me that this is a good rule but even the minimum one damage is too powerful. Small Mechs can survive extremely well with high movement modfiers while chipping away at larger targets. They only deal 1-2 points anyway so the variable damage with minimum of one damage is not that relevant for their shooting. It rather helps them, as large Mechs will hit only few shots but with high damage. Damage that is potentially reduced by the variable damage rule.

The movement modifier system makes light Mechs very hard to hit but also at no downside for them. In classic Battletech light Mechs are a bit weak while here they seem a bit strong.

Apart from that the game flows quickly and gives interesting decisions. It is reliant on the Battletech flavor (universe and single mechs) or I would not play it I fear. What is lost by summarizing all the weapons into a statline of four numbers can only be won by knowing what weapons the Mech actually fires.

As the Combine won all three scenarios there was no chance to test the repair and resupply rules but the scenarios and their limitations produced intersting games and dilemmas. I had to fudge it a little here and there as the campaign rules are unclear here and seem unbalanced there. In the obove scenario for example the defender deploys all terrain without restrictions and then chooses his home edge. There is not much to prevent the defender from stacking the terrain into a killzone. FedCom could have sat in forests behind Level one hills for a whopping +4 to hit while Combine charged at them for 2-3 turns without any cover.

It was a fun experiment and I found several, more intricate scenarios I might try in the future or write my own rules.

Invasion of Cylene 2 (Alpha Strike)

After smashing through enemy forces at Valley Pond the Combine commander sees a chance to exploit the hole in FedCom lines. The recon and assault lances are brought forward to break through enemy positions and wreak havok. FedCom has their heaviest assets in the are but these lumbering beasts will have problems catching the lightning fast Combine recon Mechs.

Breakthrough at Ghetra

A kilometre in front of the town of Ghetra, where FedCom has a supply depot, the opponents clash in a hilly area. Combine outnumbers the enemy 2:1 but they need to exit 4 Mechs through the opposing table edge to win. FedCom needs to prevent that.

The FedCom commander knows that the center of the board is too open for trying a breakthrough, so he positions his Mechs to the flanks where the enemy light Mechs are expected.

The Combine hols back its heavy machines as fire support while the light machines are split to the left and right. They race off from turn one to make the breakthrough.

Although Combine pilots push their engines into the red, heavy fire occasionally connects with the lightning fast Mechs and a Combine Hermes III (top) receives too much damage. Its pilot turns around to get back to safety as a severely damaged Mech behind enemy lines would do no good. Shortly after the other light Mech successfully breaks through. 3 more Mechs and the Combine wins.

On the other flank FedCom has more problems. The enemy can advance in cover of the hills and heavy Combine Mechs are closing in on the flank to give their fellow Mechwarriors some breathing space.

Some turns later Combine forces put up so much pressure that FedCom had to retreat into the forest. The Jenner (bottom left) could have broke through to Ghetra easily but turned around to surround the enemy completely.

Back on the right. With the retreating Hermes II down and the Locust through, Combine heavy assets advance to put pressure on FedCom Mechs. Their goal is to keep FedCom occupied here so they cannot help on the other side of the battlefield. The FedCom commander sees no way to extricate his forces securely so he pushes his Hunchback (right) forward aggressively to at least score a kill on the Awesome (left), a slow Assault Mech.

The Hunchback cannot close fast enough, however. It melts in a spectacular fireball before bringing its heavy autocannon to bear. Meanwhile the FedCom Longbow churns out swarms of long range missiles that damage the Awesome badly. It has to crawl back to safety.

The attrition battle on the right is costly for both sides but FedCom at least has the upper hand. On the left side, however, a Dervish succumbs to enemy fire and the Marauder nearly lost a leg and is overheated. Combine Mechs push into the enemy without abandon and even forget their mission goals. It has become costly for them as well, as their Battlemaster (middle) is badly damaged and has to retreat.

A FedCom Valkyrie manages to peel off from the right flank and help the struggling Marauder. It will finish off the enemy Battlemaster but the Marauder will be destroyed soon after and another Combine Mech breaks through, with a third into position to make a dash.

Meanwhile the FedCom Longbow has become the MVP on the field. It beat back the Awesome, stripped a Dragon heavy Mech of its armor and now goes toe to toe with a Combine Crusader. Missiles slam into the surprisingly fast Crusader. As it gets obvious that Combine forces elected it to break though, the remaining FedCom assets pour everything they have into the mech but it withers the fire and breaks through together with a Blackjack on the other end of the battlefield, completing the mission.

Aftermath

Another victory for the Combine forces but at atrocious costs. Only after I read the next scenario I come to realize that I just witnessed a pyrrhic victory. Draconis’ heavy machines are all damaged beyond battlefield readiness. Repairs and resupply are still not available and so Combine forces can field precious little to go into the potentially last scenario. It doesn’t look good for FedCom either but in contrast they seem to be in good shape with a pristine Warhammer to field.

Invasion of Cylene 1 (Alpha Strike)

I bought Alpha Strike, Battletech’s quick play rules, some years back but never got around playing it for real. Partly due the lack of Mechs and partly due to lacklustre test games.

I decided to give it another try and generally stock up on some Battlemechs. Together with my existing miniatures and the new recruits I’m about to field a company of Draconis Combine and a company of Federated Suns each, with about two stars of Clan Mechs as well.

I decided to play the campaign outlined in the core rulebook which is basically a branching and winding scenario tree with basic supply management later on. The Combine invades the border planet Cylene in the 3rd Succession War. They have a recon lance, a battle lance and an assault lance. Their commander has the Disrupt Communications special rules which limits enemy movement on a roll of 6 on 1d6 at the start of the turn.

The Federated Suns field a light battle lance and two normal battle lances. The command ability is Forcing the initiative, which grands initiative bonuses for destroyed Mechs the turn prior. Pilots on both sides start as veterans.

Meeting Engagement at Valley Pond

After Combine forces made planetfall the battle lance starts an aggressive patrol to deny defensible areas to FedCom forces. One of such areas is the aptly named Valley Pond where a FedCom battle lance was about to go in defensive position. Battle is joined shortly after.

Disclaimer: Miniatures and Mechs they represent differ. If you are a purist who only plays with the Mechs the miniatures reperesent that’s Ok. But I don’t.

The start of the battle has both sides in good positions for a long range battle but neither side is really equipped for these ranges.

In an aggressive move the FedCom lance pushes out to get their close range Mech, the Victor, into range (bottom). They also want to park the Crusader in the water to cool it down for more firepower (the Warhammer in the pond).

Initially the plan goes well. After several turns of concentrated firepower the Combine Whitworth slides down the hill, completely destroyed.

On the other side of the table, heavy Combine Mechs overheat and bring down the Victor before just before it can deal serious damage.

With the threat to their firing line gone, Combine forces concentrate on the Crusader in the pond, while their light Mech flanks around to be a general nuisance. With the mighty Victor lost FedCom cannot match the firepower and the Crusader goes down while retreating. This secures the win for Combine forces.

Aftermath

FedCom losses are heavy after this first clash but several Combine Mechs are already stripped of armor. Neither side can repair or recruit after this scenario so these damaged assets are of no use right now and are shifted behind the front line as emergency reserve.

Big Bloody Scharnhorst – Days 3 & 4

This is the situation at the beginning of Day 3:

The campaign already rewards me with an interesting strategic situation. French commander Ramille has I Corps in Bolkhov (C9) but his back is against the river and he is outnumbered 3:2 by the Russians around Ozyorsk (B11). II Corps is relatively free to move but if the Russians gain the initiative and act quickly, they can cut off the Prussians from I Corp’s flank or II Corps from supporting I Corps in a battle. Ramille writes three sets of orders. One for moving II corps up, one for moving the Prussians down and II Corps moving to Yartsevo (E11) and one where I Corps move back into a better position while II Corps moves up to give flank support.

The Russians have another problem. Although they have a better concentration of force, they have no idea where half of the French forces are. Nevertheless B9 and E9 seem to be strong blocking positions. Two alternative order sets will be about priority of blocking force movements while the bulk of the army advances to Bolkhov. The third option will be a passive one, where only the flanks advance.

French Orders of the Day

I Corps (A, B, C): Fall back to (north)west of Bolkhov.

II Corps (E, D, F): Move towards south of Bolkhov and secure the crossing at E9 as well as I Corp’s flank.

von Steuen (G): Fall back to A8 in support of I Corps.

Faltenbach (H): Swing east of Corps II towards Yartsevo (E11) but don’t overextend.

Russian Orders of the Day

Medhorovcky (3): Move between enemy G and Bolkhov into a blocking position.

Column Zimin (8, 5): Move into a blocking position so that enemies cannot advance north from E8-E9.

Column Koltsov (1, 2, 4, 6, 7): move southwest into battle positons for an attack against the forces in and around Bolkhov.

Day 3 Begins

Ramille’s orders for von Steuben get intercepted by enemy skirmishers and are lost. Corbin (D) receives orders after spending 4 pips, Faltenbach (H) after 2 and Pirot at the end of the day.

Vorodnin (1) and Koltsov (4) will receive orders after 5 pips. All other orders get through quickly, as the Russians are more condensed. Initiative goes to the Russians.

The Russians quickly achieve their blocking positions north and south of Bolkhov. While moving, they also spot some missing French forces. Meawhile the French slowly fall back behind the river. As Davydov withnesses the French leaving Bolkhov he uses the opportunity and takes the city (rolled for either passive or aggressive move, got the latter).

Note: Situations like these open up opportunities for skirmish wargames. Fighting at the outskirts of the city for example. If the Russians win Davydov advances. As I don’t like skirmish games I went with dice. But for anyone interested in such campaigns this tip might be helpful.

As Ménard’s Division (E) gets into gears his scouts report strong Russian forces on the other side of the bridge. With the bulk of II Corps behind him, he decides to don’t wait in position but to flank west to stay linked up with I Corps.

Up north Koltsov and Vorodnin stay in position for most of the day. As orders arrive they don’t agree how to read and act upon them this late in the day. While Koltsov moves west to stay in contact with force G, Vorodnin moves south towards the rear of other Russian forces.

The rest of II Corps and the Austrians split farther apart due to lost or late orders. Faltenbach was well on his way to I11 when he got new orders and is now in position to move into the opponent’s rear area.

This is the situation at the end of day 3. For the first time, both sides have battle options for day 4. The French foresaw strong Russian flanking moves but failed to counteract them. Still, they have managed to keep their forces at least somewhat connected, thanks to the fall back move and Ménard’s (E) own initiative. Russian aggressiveness came at a prize. Enemy forces suddenly appeared near the rear. The area should have been protected by Column Zimin (8, 5) but they moved west. What’s more, is that the Russians have not spotted D approaching and still don’t know where F is. In contrast the French only lost sight of force 4.

The French gain initiative to declare battles for the next day and do so twice! The upper one has been declared to keep Russian forces in place. Terrain and positioning is rather bad for both sides but the French want to keep the enemy from supporting the battle to the south.

The southern battle is what the French really want. They have only E committed and three forces in reach within a wide flanking arc.

Day 4

As the forces array for battle commanders hastily dictate their orders for the not yet engaged formations. The French orders all revolve around setting up the southern battle. Either they flank heavily or they set up a traditional battleline with only Falkenbach flanking or they block battlespaces early to constrict Russian battle spaces and moves.

The Russians have the opportunity to concentrate on the northern battle and only send a token force to the lower one. They can also try to block battlespaces in the southern battle early to have a strong initial presence on the field, albeit with many French flank marching troops. Or they deliberately concentrate their forces in the southern battle into a small area to prevent being outflanked.

French Orders of the Day

Corbin (D): Move to F10 to block enemy flanking movement

Pirot (F): Enter battle at F9.

Faltenbach (H): Try to flank from E10 or move towards F 9 if not possible.

Russian Orders of the Day

Vorodnin (1) and Koltsov (4) enter the battle at A9.

Ilyin (7): Enter the battle at E9 if possible, else at D9.

Nosov (6) and Beretschov (5): Enter the battle at B/C9.

Day 4 Pre-Battle Maneuvers

All orders went through. The Russians successfully hampered Faltenbach’s flanking maneuver by moving late. This had unforeseen consequences, however. Beretschov, slated to tip the northern battle in even more numerical favor was hindered by French forces moving to his flank and couldn’t reach the upper battle. In the end neither side got what they wanted.

This is the situation before the battles begin. 5, D and H will be supports for the southern battle.

Big Bloody Scharnhorst – Days 1 & 2

The campaign begins with initial orders for all forces. I wrote three sets of orders for both sides and decided randomly which one to implement. Here is the map again to follow along.

French Initial Orders

Commander Ramille issues rather careful orders:

I Corps (A, B, C): Enter from D1 and move towards Bolkhov C9. Capture if conditions are favorable. Von Steuben (G) will support north of Bolkhov.

von Steuben (G): Enter from A5 on day 2 to support I Corps (moving against Bolkhov C9) from the north.

II Corps (E, D, F): Enter from J1 and secure the crossroads at H8 and put pressure on the crossroads at E9.

Faltenbach (H): Enter from L6 on day 2. Move towards the crossroads at I11 but only to recon and probe. Fall back to II Corps at H8 if necessary.

Russian Initial Orders

Commander Kurkovik weighs his forces heavily in the direction of Bolkhov but doesn’t use the obvious attack routes. The surrounding area has to be secured first:

Column Koltsov (4, 1, 2, 3): Enter at G16 and capture Ozyorsk B11 and the northern area of Bolkhov.

Column Nosov (6, 7): Enter at A16 and defend the flank of column Koltsov south and east of Bolkhov.

Column Zimin (8, 5): Enter at J16, move to Yartsevo E11 and act as reserve for forces north and west of you.

Day 1

No changes to the initial orders are made on day one. This is the overall map at the end of the day. The Flags under C and left of 1 are the respective C-in-C markers.

Day 2

With no contacts no order changes are made. The French have the first move.

French I Corps moves unopposed into Bolkhov and sends out Merle’s Division to defend the bridge south of the city at D9.

Column Koltsov meanwhile moves up to capture Ozyorsk. In passing both forces scout each other.

Von Steuben’s Prussians meanwhile close in in the north and spot only some of the forces near Ozyorsk. They are under support orders so decide to stop well ahead of the enemy.

Column Nosov moves up to Ozyosrk as well.

II Corps secures the area around H8. They fail to spot Zimin’s column near Yartsevo F11.

Column Zimin also fail to spot I Corps as they move up.

Faltenbach arrives and moves towards I11.

End of Day 2

Above you can see the frontlines forming. The French map looks pretty much the same. They only failed to spot force 5 and II Corps in the south doesn’t know of marker 8 either.

The Russian map in comparison. Only half of the french army has been spotted so far.

With the last sunlight vanishing the respective generals and staff officers meet to plot the orders for day 3.

Big Bloody Scharnhorst – Setup

This is going to be one Frankenstein of a post. My recent game of BBB (Big Bloody Battles by Chris Pringle; Blog) left me in high spirits. I’m also reading Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming. The book hasn’t aged well in some regards but I constantly get new ideas while reading and that’s what counts.

So I’m starting a new campaign. Nothing on the scale of my ECW campaign, as I don’t need another huge time sink to keep me from progressing. the idea is to combine Blücher‘s (Sam Mustafa; Website) campaign system Scharnhorst with BBB as battle engine and enrich it with order writing mechanics. The basic inspiration is Napoleon’s Russian campaign near the Borodino phase. The map and forces will only very vaguely resemble the historical ones, though. The French get to field an Austrian and Prussian Division, although they are not happy to be there.

Scharnhorst has rules for a bigger, 10 day (turn) game surrounding the Waterloo campaign, which I will borrow as well. The map is four times the size of a normal campaign map and the forces involved are nearly as much as I can field miniature wise.

Around Bolkhov

This is known as the larger Bolkhov area where forces will clash. The city of Bolkhov is in C9. French enter from the left, Prussians into A5 on day 2, Austrians into L6 on day 2 as well. Russians enter from the from the right side and at least one force must use each road. The road leaving in A16 leads to Moscow.

Terrain shows only the major features. During a battle further terrain will be added to the six sectors of the battlefield.

Added Fog of War Campaign Rules

The campaign will progress as double blind game. Usually both sides can see all forces but not the contents of a force marker. Each side has eight division strength force markers. In my modification a marker can always spot enemies around it within one map sector (diagonally as well). Two sectors away it may spot enemies on a roll of 4+ on 1d6. Friendly forces can always be seen within a two sectors radius. Everything beyond can only be conveyed by orders from the C-in-C or adjacent forces. These test will be made for both sides every time a force enters a new sector.

To make matters more interesting for me I will use written orders for the campaign and all ensuing battles. On the campaign map, forces receive an order of the day at the beginning of each day which they then try to achieve during the day.

In order to model the difficulties of campaign command (around 50.000 bayonets per side alone), there can be a transmission delay. The C-in-C has its own marker on the map which has 10 movement points (normal force markers have 6). It moves after all friendly and enemy forces have moved in the day but has to end its movement within one sector of a friendly marker.

When handing out the order of the day it will arrive safely if the receiving force is two sectors away. If the force is farther away 1d6 has to be rolled. On a 1 the order is lost. Every other face indicates when the order will arrive in the force’s move. If I roll a 3 for example, the order arrives after the force spend the first three movement points that turn.

Added Battle Rules

During a BBB battle each C-in-C gets a stationary figure. Orders are written down either as instructions or as movement arrows on a map and have to be followed. They can be changed at the end of each turn on a roll of 1+ on 1d6. For every full cavalry move of distance between C-in-C and division commander add 1 to the difficulty. If the division commander is not in line of sight add 1. If the recipient is not French add 2. If the C-in-C from the map is not present add 1. If the dice roll fails, write the target number -1 on the order and roll again at the end of next turn.

The French use the Corps structure but Corps commanders are integrated into the C-in-C during battle. The Russians form impromptu columns.

Overall Goals of the Campaign

The main goal is to bring the enemy to battle in a decisive manner. Villages, towns and cities grant no points in this campaign. Unless one force is crushed in battle I will determine the winner at the end of day 10. Strategic position will play a factor but how intact one’s forces are in comparison to the enemy is the main factor.

French Forces

The allied Austrians were quite reluctant to fight their longtime allies and I classed the Fragile as well as Passive.

C-in-C Ramille

I Corps Lebeau

1st Division Lessard (Marker A)
6S Trnd Plante
4S Trnd Saindon
4S Raw Varieur
Foot Artillery

2nd Division Merle (Marker B)
6SA Trnd Condert
2SA Vet Émond

Cavalry Reserve Collin (Marker C)
2A Trnd (Dragoons) Salois
3A Trnd (Dragoons) Blanchard
3AH Trnd (Cuirassiers) Courcelle
Horse Artillery

II Corps D’Arconet

1st Division Corbin (Marker D)
4S Trnd Audibert
4S Trnd Durepos
3S2A Vet Fabien
Heavy Foot Artillery

2nd Division Ménard (Marker E)
4S Trnd Routhier
3S Vet Franchet
3L Trnd (Lt. Dragoons) Jetté

3rd (Guard Division) Pirot (Marker F)
3S Vet Minonde
3HA (Guard Cavalry) Penterre
Horse Artillery

Allied Contingents

Prussian Division von Steuben (Marker G)
5S Raw Müller
4S Trnd Wiczorek
2H Vet (Cuirassiers)
Foot Artillery
Heavy Foot Artillery

Austrian Division Faltenbach (Marker H)
4PFL Vet (Hussars) Beyen
6SPF Trnd Hain
6SPF Trnd Kaltenmaier
Foot Artillery

Russian Forces

The Russian infantry was quite difficult to command and poor at musketry but they had high morale. Therefore I gave them Passive, Ragged Volleys, no Skirmishers (apart from some Jägers) and Veteran. The Veteran status of course does model their morale, not their training.

C-in-C Kurkovik

Division Vorodnin (Marker 1)
3SP Vet Primakov
5RP Vet Esen
6RP Vet Demidov

Division Darydov (Marker 2)
6RP Vet Pugin
6RP Vet Abramaov
4RP Vet Bychkov
Heavy Foot Artillery

Division Medhorovcky (Marker 3)
3RP Vet Sakharov
3RP Vet Tarask
Foot Artillery

Division Koltsov (Marker 4)
5L Trnd (Hussars) Zimin
5L Trnd (Hussars) Polunin
Horse Artillery

Division Beretschov (Marker 5)
3RP Vet Godorschenkov
3RP Rechensky
Heavy Foot Artillery

Division Nosov (Marker 6)
6RP Vet Bogdanov
5RP Vet Kravchuk
2LA Raw (Cossacks) Loginovsky

Division Ilyin (Marker 7)
3SP Vet Frolov
4RP Vet Katzbach
4RP Vet Kirilov
Heavy Foot Artillery
Heavy Foot Artillery

Cavalry Reserve Zimin (Marker 8)
3H Vet (Guard Cavalry) Popov
3H Vet (Guard Cavalry) Clazkovsky
2LA Raw (Cossacks) Grishkin

The 2020 To Do List

After my review of 2019 I will now look into my plans for 2020:

Modelling & Painting

Still more terrain to finish. Especially woods and painting houses. Town bases to but said houses onto are also on the list. There are two terrain types I haven’t covered in a satisfactory manner: Swamps and rocky terrain. I have concepts how to build them easily, though.

The packing chips I use as smoke markers lately are not the best looking solution but they are very practical to use and stow away (space is at a premium). Maybe cutting some shapes will make them look better.

Still lots of painting to do on my Sword & Sorcery dungeon crawling games. It progresses nicely but will need many month before completion at my speed.

The look of the 2mm figures from Irregular Miniatures is not what I was looking for in Napoleonics. I need to use some different period paint schemes to see if I can salvage them. American and English Civil Wars come to mind.

The movement trays I sometimes use for Blücher are really barebones. Something nicer with re-useable unit labels is on the list. Tests were disappointing so far.

I did some experimentation with a Kriegspiel-look DBA set. It did turn out Ok but is only a side project. Even if I don’t continue I should probably write a blog post about it.

Campaigns

The For King & Parliament ECW campaign will continue. If I can make good progress I will be able to finish it this year.

I have a new, smaller Napoleonic campaign in the wings. Several posts are already written up.

There is also an Ancients campaign with DBA 3.0 campaign I started but packed away for Napoleonics quickly. Not sure if i’m motivated enough to finish this.

Battles

Playing games is of course the main focus every year. I mostly play fictional battles or campaign games but I’m interested in trying out scenarios. There are several good Blücher scenarios here. As I like Big Bloody Battles I would like to give the Aspern-Esslingen scenario a spin. I have enough forces to field the armies but need more road crossings and bendy river sections to set it up.

Then there is 2 Hour Wargames. I quite like the scenarios of the book but I have one or two new ideas to represent encircling and interior lines. Another idea of mine was to randomly combine two scenarios into one larger battle. Some groundwork has been done but a test has yet to be conducted.

I have a large collection of starship miniatures begging me to use them. Maybe this year. Talking of maybe’s, Hordes of the Things arrived over Christmas…

Rules

Over the past years I have tried out a wide array of rule sets for Napoleonics and other periods. Lately I am more and more jaded about most of them. To a point where I’m thinking about getting rid of some. For a self proclaimed rules collector a sacrilegious thing to say! I will think more about this but so far here are my categories for Napoleonics alone:

Rule sets I currently play and like:

  • Blücher: It simply works.
  • Big Bloody Battles: With modifications that are not set in stone yet.
  • Black Powder: I’m using a fair bit of house rules. But this set is easily adaptable.
  • C&C Napoleonics: With the rule that a block can absorb two hits before it is removed.

On the fence:

  • 2×2 Napoleonics: I only played one game which I liked but the rules are all over the place. I started a re-write for my own purposes but it is not finished or tested.
  • General d’Armee: The rules are nice and give a good game but they simply seem less elegant and slower than Black Powder. If I had to replace Black Powder, this set would probably be it. The ADC system is a big draw towards General d’Armee but in order to really get it going you need sizeable forces on the table which is difficult for me figure- and spacewise.
  • Bataille Empire: Again, great rule set for people who want the detail and slower gaming speed. I still think I prefer Black Powder. The move away from YGO IGO will probably much more interesting for people who play this head to head. For solo play the sequencing is actually difficult to game through. Maybe I give it another try with a more traditional turn order, because most of the other rules are quite good.

Rule sets I tried and didn’t like:

  • Field of Glory: Napoleonics: The terrain generation and pre-battle rules are slick but the main rules are too complicated for me, given that it is a tournament set. I want to like them, but I cant.
  • Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Didn’t give me the period feel I’m looking for.
  • Polemos: Neither the small nor the large scale set convinced me. The rules are not written clearly and don’t give a satisfying period feel in my opinion. To be blunt, Polemos is probably the worst on the list.
  • DBN: It feels too much like DBA for me.
  • Age of Eagles: More detailed in scale and rules than Big Bloody Battles. It needs an absurd amount of bases and has some fiddly stuff that is thankfully abstracted away in Big Bloody Battles.
  • Twilight of the Sun King: Not Napoleonic but I tested them in order to modify them for the period. The concepts are great but the writing is quite vague and some details could have been omitted for my taste.
  • Several variants of 2 Hour Wargames Horse and Musket: All the variants I tried added more chrome to the rules but the game still felt very basic and too attritional in a sense that you nearly always inflict some damage to the enemy. Compare this with Blücher or Black Powder where fights can be over quick or last a long time with some regularity. There is no disruption or disorder of any kind which is key for the period in my opinion.
  • Shako: To be fair, I only started one game and it was Shako I not II. The order system is very good and has been nicked immediately for other games. All the other stuff… Somehow too fiddly for me. Hard to put a finger on though. It somehow felt too old school.

Rule sets I want to try:

  • Napoleon’s battles: Brigade scale and they don’t seem too complicated. Hard to obtain the rules or information about them, though.
  • Grande Armee: I already heard that it is very time consuming so I’m going into this to find new mechanics and ideas, not a new rule set.
  • Volley & Bayonet: Command & Control seems underdeveloped from what I read but it has a scenario system I ‘m interested in and maybe I like the combat mechanics.

Rules I want to write:

I developed my own starship combat rules quite often in the past. I even came up with something remarkably similar to early Starmada in the time of dial-up internet. I refrained from doing so for historical periods though, as my grasp on them wasn’t good enough and design space seemed less open. You can do crazy thinks in science fiction which are hard to explain in historical periods. Lately there are some ideas froming for a Horse & Musket rule set of my own:

  • Strong command system that makes it necessary to have a plan in advance. Some form of (written) orders which can be changed at a delay or lost in transmission or misunderstood.
  • A turn order that rewards the battle plan, not good initiative dice and moving unit X before unit Y to get into the building first. I have no solid idea for this yet.
  • A simple, free flowing movement system that is constricted by command and control and not by measuring degrees of wheeling.
  • A combat system a bit like Twilight of the Sun King but even more radical. There is no musketry, there are no charges! The driving concept is the proximity of units and the intensity of their orders and will. For example: My cavalry on attack orders, barely an inch away from your infantry is really hurting your infantry’s morale. Whether they fight or threaten each other is abstracted away in Brigade scale. This idea goes back to a quote I read about French infantry breaking next to Prussian cavalry (which didn’t charge).
  • A pre battle system for stratagems and terrain selection. My working idea is that one player has to offer battle at a battlefield but the enemy can decline, going to another battlefield.
  • Mechanics which allow strong period flavor and national differences.

Napoleonics with Bloody Big Battles

After I disliked Age of Eagles for its huge amount of bases required and too much detail for a brigade level rule set, I promised myself to give Bloody Big Battles from Chris Pringle (Blog) another go. It uses about 1000 men to a base and is primarily used for battles after Napoleonics and before WWI. I had some Napoleonic rule amendments which diversified artillery and cavalry a bit and made muskets more potent. In the original they are at the lowest end of the weapon scale and quite useless (rightfully so).

As this was more of a rules test I played a fictional battle with similar forces. The table was generated with Field of Glory: Napoleonics rules (my new favorite terrain generator). The battle pitted French against Austrians. The French used units of 4 bases with skirmishers, Dragoons and some artillery. The Austrians had the disadvantage passive infantry (harder to move and rally) but the advantage of larger units and a few more bases in general. All units were considered trained to keep it easier.

Disclaimer: This was a test, so there is not much flavor to it. Units are units and not the 5é Ligne of II Corps. Though the rules and the look on the table lend itself to it and I have seen other bloggers working with 1-2″ unit markers with flag and name and stats that looked quite nice. This you won’t see here, for now 🙂

Set up

A view from the French left wing and center. The cavalry command of the French was situated on the left, while the Austrian counterpart was deployed in the center (randomly determined).

And here we move over to the center-right wing. The Cavalry in the lower center of the picture is part of an infantry command. As you can see the roads leading to the enemy can be quite useful for the French here, as their side of the table is void of good defensive positions and the want to close the gap quickly.

The Austrian right flank. Two large ad passive infantry units and some Dragoons.

A nice quirk of random deployment zones. You rarely see the cavalry command of an army in the center. It is a small one, though. Two medium cavalry units and horse artillery. To the left you can see a steep hill which incurs movement penalties (important for later on).

Close up of parts of the Austrian left wing. This is the biggest command and it starts close to two hills. From there they will have a commanding view and artillery position.

The Battle Plan

Of course a simple rule set test is not complete without testing other ideas at the same time! This one is from Shako. In Shako you draw a map and arrows for your commanding officers. An arrow is an attack order and at the end of the arrow is a defend order. In theory you have to advance with your units on attack order into combat, apart form artillery which can support from farther away. The Commander of a formation ‘rides’ on the arrow and his units need to stay in command.

This is the plan for both sides (as I played solo) viewed from the French side. The Austrians are rather careful and want to deploy in defensive positions on and between the hills. The French are effectively trying to refuse the left flank. Their left flank Cavalry is ordered to attack the Austrian Cavalry in the center and the French center is ordered to move around the forest in support of the right wing. The ‘T2’ means that they start this on turn 2.

Each side has a HQ with an Aide de Camp. The Aide can be sent to give new orders to a commander at the speed of Cavalry. He also have to get back thereafter. In Shako you have two Aides but for only three commands I limited this to one Aide each. As the French are way better and facilitating orders, they change orders as the Aide arrives. The Austrians are more plodding. They need a full turn to change their orders after they arrived.

The Battle

A few turns in. The Cavalry forces are clashing in the center. Austrians are getting the better of it. They already caused losses on both French units and routed a limbered horse battery. The white packing chips are musket smoke or dust clouds and signify disrupted status.

Being disrupted in BBB affects movement, firing and melee but doesn’t make a unit completely useless. BBB finds a nice balance here I think. On the lower right you can see the Aide de Camp with new orders for the French. They are to defend in the position they are in. The French don’t need their Cavalry to win here but to keep the Austrians at bay.

The Austrian Aide can be seen as well far away. He brings new orders to switch from defense to pursuit of the French Cavalry.

The refused Austrian right wing has already been ordered to pack it up and move to the steep hill in the background. The gains of Austrian cavalrymen make this a safe move so they form in column to be faster. Still, with the turn long order delay they are already late.

And this is the reason for the order change. The Austrians were quite surprised as the central French formation swung right. Now there are close to 30.000 Frenchmen weighing down on a thin Austrian defense line. It is not all going to plan for the French, though. Their artillery support has been silenced for (has to retreat). The attack columns keep getting disrupted and halted before connecting. Space is also a problem as support and reserves try to find the right deployment area. Part of the problem is the Austrian Foot Artillery position top right on the hill. Fire support from the guns is key for the Austrian defense.

As the Austrian columns cross the battlefield, Cavalry still clashes. Austrian battery support is showing here as well. Not by casualties but by continuously disrupting French movements.

Another of couple turns in the French concentrated mass has done its damage. Assault columns have routed the central Austrian unit and are now closing on on the remains. In the top left an isolated Austrian Brigade deployed squares against nearby Cavalry but gets blasted by musket fire. In the top right Austrian losses are mounting off table.

At the end of the battle French troops have successfully stormed the artillery position.

Austrian left wing forces finally shaking into battle formation at the end of the battle. Even if the engagement wasn’t over (turn limit) they would have had a hard time attacking up hill against the basically intact French forces.

Verdict

My downscaling of ranges for a smaller table and Napoleonic amendments were off a tad and I made some mistakes. One Austrian commander should have been killed or captured twice! Still I really liked the game. Yes I know. Shockingly I like the rules.

Where the similar Age of Eagles complicates things for sake of realism, BBB moves a step further back. Which is a good thing for me, who favors less restrictive rules these days.

Units are big and can move quite far. Command friction is done via dice rolls and failure to move or rally disruption. All this give a game that feels strategic akin to its scale. Part of this stems from the battle plan rules I grafted from Shako on top of it. But this is basically a solo play mechanism, not a missing part of BBB in any way.

After the game I found another Napoleonics amendment that looks better. It incorporates skirmishers better. For example by limiting the effects of long range musketry (basically skirmishing at this scale) against Cavalry.

The Aide de Camp feature is a nice ‘realism’ feature but I think it will work better with some form of command dice roll to see if the orders arrive and when they can be executed. The whole turn delay for non-French is rather harsh from a balance perspective, though it gives some insights about the problems generals faced against the French system.