The free ruleset 2×2 Napoleonics piqued my interest for a couple of reasons. It uses a small scale battlefield of 2 foot by 2 foot (hence the name) and a brigade scale with just the right amount of details omitted. But it also features very interesting pinning mechanics which makes it different from other rule sets.
As soon as a infantry unit fires, it becomes pinned and may not move until rallied. As rallying is virtually impossible when close to an enemy, units get stuck in firing lines slugging it out until one side wavers and breaks. This seems more realistic than the maneuverability of troops in combat in other rules. With the combat units pinned it also makes management of reinforcements more important. Gone are the days where I can micromanage some units to broaden my lines and plug gaps. The only units that can plug gaps are reinforcements now.
Deployment also handles differently. Most of the army starts as said reinforcements and the battle evolves over many turns as fresh troops arrive. Aimed at corps level engagements, maybe as part of a larger battle, this is another interesting approach. Though, I can see breaking this rule from time to time or when playing larger battles.
But first of all I played a test game to see how everything plays out.
The Battle of Lützenhagen
The battlefield after set-up. French in the south with both their reinforcement points at the road. They have an artillery unit on the eastern hill, light cavalry to screen their advance and some infantry marching on the road.
The Prussians are coming in from the north as attackers. One reinforcement point is on the road as well but the other one is on the eastern map edge in order to flank the French. The force compositions are the same for both armies.
A couple turns in. The Prussians (farther away) took the central village (unit on the green plate center is occupying it). They are shaking out the battle line. The French brought up their units and are building a strong cavalry presence on their right wing (left center of the picture).
The French right wing swings around the village. Lancers beat back Prussian Hussars and advance far into the Prussian rear.
Meanwhile the infantry clash around Lützenhagen. French gain the upper hand due to effective supporting artillery. The village remains a though nut to be cracked, though. The French cavalry advance gets beaten back to the start by Prussian reinforcements arriving in the nick of time.
Situation at the end of the game. The French poured reinforcements in much quicker and effectively pushed back the Prussians from the village. The Prussian lines are in disarray. They lost 5 units compared to the French 2 losses.
Given that French losses are cavalry units I judged that the battle was a French victory but not a major one. They took command of the battlefield and inflicted losses but are not able to pursue the retreating Prussians effectively.
Thoughts on 2×2 Napoleonics
The rules worked reasonably well. Detail is not only omitted from the game, though. The rules lack clarifications on many things, making judgement calls necessary on many occasions.
As I expected the pinning rules work quite well and generate interesting board states and decision points. The reinforcement rules made the battle feel skirmishy and piecemeal at times, offered a dynamic change at other times.
In hindsight the way the battle evolved looks believable to me but it wasn’t as much fun as with other rules. The rules need clarifications, some tightening and rewriting for me to use again. Given that 2×2 Napoleonics is entirely free and has been worked on by three people that is neither surprising nor detrimental. It is a nice framework with some fresh concepts.
After a long hiatus on the blog I finally have a post for you again. After I painted up some Cent coins to display hex grid points I got the idea to paint larger 5 Cent coins for some starship battles on a smaller figure scale to fit my small table.
After I produced three TOS-era Federation and Klingon ships I was quite happy with the result and decided to send them to their maiden voyage. A Call To Arms Starfleet came up as a rule system, as I never really tried it in comparison to Star Navy or different Starmada versions which I have already played quite a lot.
I dusted off my space mat and went for the classical match up of Constitutions against D7’s on a 1 to 1 basis.
Federation ships in battle line.
A close-up of the D7 squadron.
The first turn begins with a coordinated volley of Federation Plasma Torpedoes ripping through the lead D7. Phase fire finishes the vessel off (red die = destroyed ship). Klingon fire is less effective but deals a good amount of damage to one of the Constitutions.
The positioning for a good volley comes at a price, though. The maneuverable Klingon ships are way better at “knife-fighting” ranges and dish out enough firepower to avenge their fallen brethren and deal several critical hits.
A dogfighting bee-line ensues with the Federation balancing between repairing their damage and reloading their powerful torpedo tubes. The Klingons shift their energy to shields (1) and weapons (3).
After several turns of tight circling the Klingons manage to blast another Constitution to bits with their disruptors. Both Klingon ships are in a bit of a rough shape but they are superior to also damaged remaining Federation vessel. Shortly after this image the Klingons deliver the final blow and the battle is over with 3 Constitutions and one D7 lost, 1 D7 severely damaged and one D7 moderately damaged.
The battle was interesting as it showcased the different approaches the Federation and Klingons have to a space battle. The Federation ships are difficult to play as they are hard to maneuver and they have to weigh their priorities carefully. Can I reload my powerful torpedoes or do I have to spend my orders to repair damage or boost shields. They want cycles of engaging and regenerating. The Klingons on the other hand are much easier to play. They turn on the dime and do not need reload orders for their weapons. They want to be up close and personal all the time unloading their weapons.
That said, the intricacies of the system come at a price. ACTA Starfleet is a bit slow going for me. Sure, it was my first game and I needed some time referencing the rules but the battle was pretty small on the other hand.
This battle has it all. Blitz moves, traitors, flanking, rousing speeches, dramatic scenes of gentlemen wounded in battle, cavalry in mad pursuit etc. It was my best battle I fought with the For King & Parliament rules and probably one of the very best solo battles I ever played! Although I would rather play these battles with miniatures it shows that all it needs (at least for me) is a good rule set and some imagination. Although the added stakes from campaign play help quite a bit.
The Royalist Army
Before the battle I made sure of a even horse/foot quota points-wise. As the war progresses more and more seasoned units emerge. Recent losses seem to have thinned the ranks of skilled horsemen, though. The random event was “Traitor” but there was no brigade general to replace by a colonel so I ruled that the gallant gentleman I rolled for Gatring’s brigade was the traitor. Given that the Parliamentarian army fields two gentlemen accompanying the troops, it is safe to assume, the traitor found his way to the Parliamentarian camp the night before the battle.
Command…5 General Irving C-in-C
Brigade of Horse…31 Gallant Colonel Fielding “Swedish”-style horse – raw “Swedish”-style horse – seasoned “Swedish”-style horse – raw, poorly mounted “Swedish”-style horse – seasoned “Swedish”-style horse – raw “Swedish”-style horse – raw “Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried, poorly mounted
Brigade of Foot…57 Colonel Gatring Pike and shot battalia – seasoned, large Pike heavy battalia -raw Pike heavy battalia – seasoned Pike and shot battalia – raw Dragoons – raw Pike heavy battalia – raw, large Pike and shot battalia – seasoned
113 points / 20 victory medals
The Parliamentarian Army
On the morning before the battle general Islington, who beat the Royalists handily at Thorne half a year ago, gave a rousing speech to his men. He even presented Sir Fleming who fled the Royalist camp under threat of his life to bring information and his support to the cause.
Command…9 General Islington C-in-C Field artillery – seasoned
Brigade of Horse…19 “Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried, attached shot “Swedish”-style horse – raw “Swedish”-style horse – seasoned “Dutch”-style horse – raw
Brigade of Foot…31 Pike and shot battalia – raw Pike and shot battalia – raw, untried Pike and shot battalia – raw Pike and shot battalia – raw Pike heavy battalia – raw, untried, large Forlorn hope – raw
Brigade of Foot…16 Pike and shot battalia – raw Pike and shot battalia – seasoned, gallant gentleman Pike and shot battalia – seasoned
114 points / 23 victory medals (+1 from rousing speech)
The army has begun to field its horse in “Swedish”-style since April. Being a well liked and able general he even got the command of Baker’s Horse (veteran). The foot on the other hand is relatively fresh.
The Battle of Allerton Moor
Iconography Parliamentarians in red, Royalists in blue Unit with many vertical lines = horse Unit with a horizontal line and vertical lines sticking out = pike and shot Unit with several horizontal lines = Forlorn hope and Dragoons Unit with three “+”-like signs = artillery Red dice = hits Green dice = ammo Blue dice = dash Red die on the left = raw Red die in the middle = seasoned Red die on the right = veteran Hollow square = attached shot Filled square = large Question mark = untried Hat = gentleman Horse with + / – = well / poorly mounted
The dispositions after set-up. The Parliamentarians have one inexperienced unit of horse in reserve on their right flank, where their strong cavalry wing is situated. The fields in the center are surrounded by hedges and provide an excellent strong-point. The river is rather shallow passable anywhere but still considered rough terrain.
In a surprise rush General Irving sends his horse on the left flank up the hill. The Royalist horse completed crushes their opposition and rip a large hole in the Parliamentarian battle line from the get-go.
The men opposing the king are saved for now by successful Royalist horse pursuing without any sign of stopping. The second wave attacks meanwhile but cannot match the stunning success of the first wave. On the other side of the field the cavalry is locked in a standoff while the smoke of the first volleys of the foot begin to fog up the battlefield.
General Irving personally rode to stop his troops from pursuing and pillaging. He made it clear that such fine, distinguished gentlemen such as themselves where had a duty to fulfill before the spoils of war could be divided. Both units promptly turned their horses and fell into the Parliamentarian flank, riding another unit into the ground.
Elsewhere the fight or standoff continued without much gain.
With his entire right flank collapsing general Islington ordered Baker’s veteran horse regiment to attack and regain the initiative. With some support from other units Baker attacked and handily defeated a Royalist horse regiment, wounding colonel Gatring in the process. Islington meanwhile reordered his troops to defend the center against two directions of attack and gave up on his isolated units on his right.
The Royalists are now in firm control of their left flank. On their right they dealt with Baker’s horse but more Parliamentarian horse streamed in causing high casualties on both sides.
In the center colonel Fielding is wounded by a musket ball but keeps standing.
By midday the fighting ebbed as both sides were tired from hours of intense fighting.
Generals keep shifting troops and rallying wavering men. The second wave of Parliamentarian horse moves on the right.
The second wave’s attack is met with success and both sides have 8 victory medals left. On the other side of the field a spend and beaten horse regiment closes in on the Royalist flank in a rather unexpected move.
The flank attack, although poorly executed nearly ends in a disaster as General Irving falls off his horse in the tumult. Now, all three Royalist commanders have been wounded! After some minutes of rest Irving shrugs his dizziness off. If Colonels Gatring and Fielding can fight on wounded who would he be to retire to the rear.
The end of the battle. Royalists cleared the hedges in the center of enemy troops and break the Parliamentarians will to fight. With only 4 victory medals left a narrow win for the Royalists but at long last the first win in a major battle since the civil war started.
As I changed the amount of SP (strategy points) earned per battle I thought it is only fair to grant the Parliamentarians the points from earlier battles. So for this turn the Royalists receive 5 SP for a narrow win and their adversaries receive 3 SP for a loss and another 3 SP from earlier wins for a total of 6 SP.
After the battle of Draycott in February the Royalists were in no position to attack the south and shifted to the northern part of England where the still hold popular support. Allerton Moor was a win the battered men of the King direly needed for their morale. It also brought West Yorkshire and Derbyshire to the fold. South Yorkshire was quickly retaken by the Parliamentarians, however.
After some month support for the Parliamentarians in Wales was eroded enough that Dyfed declared their neutrality.
Parliamentarians continued the siege of Oxford but the garrison still holds strong after many month. Parliamentarian support still grows south of the “fortress line” which alleviates their loss of land in the north and in Wales.
I decided to give the battalion level rules in Robert Cordery’s new book Portable Napoleonic Wargame (Eglinton Books, 2018) a try. After I played a game with the Divisional rules from the book I was disappointed by rule shortcomings and strange combat modifiers. Shooting seemed very effective while melee wasn’t. Two units sharing the same grid space posed quite a few rules questions. The battalion scale rules field a maximum of one unit per grid space which alleviates one problem I had.
Somewhere in Germany during the Befreiungskriege. Two French brigades are sent to the village of Lauerritz to secure the army’s flank. The allies have Russian and Austrian troops on the move against the French. They have more men but leadership is not unified between the allies.
To represent the situation I opted for more strength points for the allies and the use of command decks. The turn sequence is still IGOUGO but sides draw from a deck of playing cards to see how many units they can act with each turn (much like DBA’s pips).
The French command deck consists of cards with the values 3, 4 and 5.
1st Brigade General d’Brigade Jeunet (6 SP) 3 battalions of line infantry (each 4 SP average) 1 artillery (2 SP average
2nd Brigade General d’Brigade Foire (6 SP) 2 battalions of grenadiers (both 4 SP elite) 2 battalions of line infantry (both 4 SP average)
The allied command deck consists of cards with the values 2, 3 and 4.
Austrian Avant-Garde Brigade General Tannhaus (6 SP) 2 Battalions of Grenzer (both 5 SP average) 2 Regiments of Hussars (both 3 SP average)
Russian Brigade General Fedorovitch (6 SP) 3 battalions of line infantry (5 SP poor)
Thoughts about the rules
Given how many lightweight rules alternatives there are on the market and for free the portable rules are lacking too much to be played in my opinion.
The above depicted melee was what broke it for me. The way modifiers work, the Russian flanking unit is less susceptible to lose men when flanking. So far so good. But is the French unit in dire straights for being flanked and in combat against two enemies? No, it isn’t. In fact the rather slim chances of losing men are further reduced to a 1 in 6 by the general supporting the French. They can literally fight for a dozen turns without effect while on other parts of the battlefield a unit can be shot to pieces quickly. Not to say that the artillery and musketry modifiers are more to my liking.
Adding to that, I can pretty much play many rules systems with a 1-2 page rules overview (QRS) but the rules layout of this book is standing in the way of clarity in my opinion. Said modifiers are formulated in lists of whole sentences which have to re-read quite a few times to find the ones that apply. A QRS is not included. There are good parts though. The decisions to suffer casualties vs push back tied to unit experience is a clever mechanic forcing the players to make though choices. In the end, though, I will rather move on to other rules that work in my opinion.
Battalion of Foot Colonel Lyre Pike and shot battalia – raw Pike and shot battalia – veteran, large Pike and shot battalia – raw, untried Pike and shot battalia – raw, large Pike and shot battalia – seasoned Rabble – raw
101 points / 19 victory medals
The Parliamentarian Army
With the ongoing war troops slowly build up experience. General Horton’s army is a good example of that, though leaders were hard to come by as Horton got the task to stem the Royalist tide from Gloucester.
Command General Horton Siege Artillery – seasoned Siege Artillery – seasoned Field Artillery – seasoned Field Artillery – seasoned
Battalion of Horse “Dutch”-style horse – raw, untried “Dutch”-style horse – raw “Dutch”-style horse – seasoned, attached shot
Battalion of Foot Pike and shot battalia – seasoned, large Pike and shot battalia – seasoned Pike and shot battalia – raw Pike heavy battalia – raw, untried, large Pike and shot battalia – seasoned, large Forlorn hope – raw
109 points / 19 victory medals
The Battle of Draycott
Humphreys and Horton meet in the area of Avon. The Royalists want to use Gloucester as a stepping stone into the south and Horton’s army marches to prevent that.
Yet again Parliamentarians win the battles but fail to exploit this on the campaign map. Particularly due to another failed roll when besieging Oxford (third in a row). The battle at Draycott (in Avon) leaves no doubt who is in control of the south though.
The Royalists snatch the last neutral areas they have access to and start a successful campaign to undermine Parliamentarian support in West Yorkshire.
I’ve tried two different random generation methods for armies but both properly suffer from the difference in cavalry of both sides. Next time I will try to balance the point cost of the horse battalions somewhat better. The points for winning games is also not high enough. I will amend the campaign rules before the next game.
With the first major engagement won handily the Parliamentarians continue their siege on Oxford but shift their attention towards north England. The army of Sir Islington marches upon Hull and meets the army of the charismatic Sir Henry west of Thorne.
Royalists rolled “First battle” downgrading one of their units to untried. Parliamentarians rolled “early moves” reducing the campaign time roll by one.
Command Sir Henry – C-in-C, gallant general Field Artillery – seasoned Field Artillery – seasoned Siege Artillery – seasoned
Foot Brigade Sir Tardyk – general Pike and shot battalia – seasoned, large Forlorn hope – raw Forlorn hope – raw
Foot Brigade Pike heavy battalia – raw Pike heavy battalia – raw, large Pike heavy battalia – raw, untried Pike heavy battalia – seasoned Pike and shot battalia – raw Pike and shot battalia – raw, untried Commanded shot – seasoned
Here we have a large artillery section and a leaderless 7 unit brigade. Looks to be 112 points on the defensive side. The horse section is rather experienced as to be expected for Royalists.
Command Sir Islington – C-in-C, general Siege Artillery – seasoned Field Artillery – seasoned
Foot Brigade Sir Veitch – general Pike and shot – seasoned, gallant gentleman Pike and shot – seasoned Commanded shot – raw
Foot Brigade Colonel Brandy Pike and shot – raw Pike and shot – veteran, attached light artillery Rabble – raw
Sir Islington’s army is a little smaller than the opposition with only 104 points. It is well lead and equipped, though. Parliamentarian horse is lacking as expected.
The Battle of Thorne
Hint: Hit Ctrl plus a few times to make the images larger
Note: Red dice for remaining hits. If they are on the left of the unit (viewed from bottom) the unit is raw. Middle means seasoned and on the right means veteran. Blue and green dice for remaining ammo and dash respectively. White dice denote pursuing horse.
Another landslide victory for the Parliamentarians. Killing the enemy’s general certainly helped but at the time this happened the Royalist position was dangerous at best.
How did this happen? The Royalists had more troops, won scouting decisively but managed to botch up their deployment significantly. Too much faith was bestowed upon a line of cannons that made movement of the foot difficult. Yet Sir Henry pushed forward and attacked. The offense became stuck and a counter-offensive of Parliamentarian horse had free reign before any pike could react.
Hull in particular and the whole Humberside is now undefended and easily taken by Parliamentarian forces.
Parliamentarians claim Nottinghamshire, Bedfordshire, neutralize Humberside and claim it as well. The siege of Oxford goes on but no breakthrough is made (needed a 3 rolled a 1).
Royalists take advantage of the busy Parliamentarian armies and besiege Gloucester. Without much help the city surrenders (needed a 3 rolled a 4) and Royalists promptly claim the surrounding area as well.
The turn ends with 20 Parliamentarian areas to 18 Royalist areas. Even though the King’s men lose their battles, swift and well planned strategic moves keep the Parliamentarians on their toes.