I Just Painted a Battalion in 10 Minutes

Ok, it is more of a clump of a battalion to be fair. I ordered a test batch from Irregular Miniatures which arrived today. Here is my first try at three lines of eight soldiers each.

Front view. Not too happy with the flag but the rest looks nice.

Flag on the rear looks better and the knapsacks can be seen. After I painted up a few more I will decide how to base them.

2×2 Napoleonics Test Game

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.

5 Cent A Call To Arms Starfleet

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.

For King & Parliament Campaign May 1643

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 Horse…20
“Swedish”-style horse – raw
“Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried
“Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried
“Swedish”-style horse – seasoned
“Swedish”-style horse – seasoned

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 Horse…30
“Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried, poorly mounted
“Swedish”-style horse – veteran, well mounted, attached shot, gentleman
“Swedish”-style horse – seasoned
“Dutch”-style horse – raw, untried, poorly mounted
“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.

The Aftermath

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.

Portable Napoleonic Battle of Lauerritz

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.

The Scenario

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).

French Army

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)

Austro-Russian Army

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)

The Battle

The battlefield with fields in the center and Lauerritz to the east of them. French will enter via the road from the south (bottom). The Russians will enter from the west, also using the road. Finally the Austrians will arrive from the center of the northern map edge.
The little green dots are painted 1 Euro cent coins to depict the square grid. I put coins down on every second grid point to reduce the clutter on the battlefield.
The allies arrive and fan out their troops. Austrians farther away to the top.
The french position their artillery behind the fields which stop movement when entering (my own rule) and grab Lauerritz.
Austrian Hussars dash forwards. In the back the other unit of Hussars move around Lauerritz in a flanking maneuver. Both units are shot to pieces without achieving anything in the coming turns.
Firefights erupt west of Lauerritz. Units are constantly pushing and advancing.
After several turns the french finally manage to charge but melee is actually quite harmless compared to shooting in these rules.
The end of the game. Russians manage to flank the french but melee stays indecisive for several turns. Meanwhile another Russian unit flanks around this combat zone and destroys the french artillery. A win for the allies who forced the French to retreat.

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.

For King & Parliament Campaign February 1643

The bloody civil war drags on into 1643. Even though the supporters of the King have been dealt two crushing defeats, their strategic situation seems stable.

The Royalist Army

During the last month the troops got a better supply of ammunition which should prove useful during the battle (random event: Add 1 ammo to a unit of your choice)

Command
General Humphreys (C-in-C)
Field Artillery – seasoned

Battalion of Horse
General Calden
“Swedish”-style horse – raw
“Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried

Battalion of Horse
Colonel Firebrand
“Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried
“Swedish”-style horse – raw, untried
“Swedish”-style horse – seasoned, gallant gentleman
“Swedish”-style horse – raw, poorly mounted
“Swedish”-style horse – raw
“Swedish”-style horse – raw
“Swedish”-style horse – seasoned, +1 ammo

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, poorly mounted
“Dutch”-style horse – seasoned, attached shot
“Dutch”-style horse – raw, poorly mounted
“Dutch”-style horse – raw, untried

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.

Most terrain was removed which lead to a very open battlefield. The Parliamentarians anchored their left flank on a forest and fielded a gun-line similar to what the Royalists tried unsuccessfully at Thorne.
Horse clashes on the flank while the Royalists move up their foot under heavy gunfire.
The battle is marked by indecisiveness and phlegmatic troops. Parliamentarian horse slowly push the Royalists back due to attached shot and good untried saves. The foot fares less well. Confusion in the ranks (stratagem) make a lead battalia turn their flank to the enemy (center). Luckily the Royalist flank charge is not as devastation as hoped by General Humphreys.

Meanwhile the weak Parliamentarian left is overrun by rabble and pike & shot.
The supposedly superior Royalist horse is yet again trumped by the “Dutch”-system. General Calden’s reserve battalion of horse is unleashed for a flank charge to salvage the situation. Meanwhile the foot is fighting at a rather slow pace.
Calden’s horse penetrates deep into the Parliamentarian flank in coordination with a renewed attack of the foot.
Royalists break through on the Parliamentarian left but the situation is saved as Horton’s horse manage to decimate their foes.
End of the battle: With almost the entire Royalist horse strewn over the field or fleeing the Parliamentarians under Horton managed to win with 6 victory medals left.

General Humphreys and Colonel Firebrand are summoned before the king. I doubt we will see them again…

Aftermath

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.

Campaign Notes

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.

For King & Parliament Campaign November 1642

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.

Royalist Army

Command
Sir Henry – C-in-C, gallant general
Field Artillery – seasoned
Field Artillery – seasoned
Siege Artillery – seasoned

Horse Brigade
“Swedish”-style horse – raw
“Swedish”-style horse – seasoned, poorly mounted
“Swedish”-style horse – veteran
“Swedish”-style horse – seasoned
“Swedish”-style horse – 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.

Parliamentarian Army

Command
Sir Islington – C-in-C, general
Siege Artillery – seasoned
Field Artillery – seasoned

Horse Brigade
Colonel Greenwich
“Dutch”-style horse – raw, untried
“Dutch”-style horse – raw, untried, poorly mounted
“Dutch”-style horse – raw
“Dutch”-style horse – raw
“Dutch”-style horse – 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

Several features have been removed and the field is quite open. Though, some woods on the right protects the Parliamentarian flank.

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.

Royalists win the scouting handily and the entire Parliament force has to set up first. Cavalry gathered opposite each other on the Royalist left flank.
Royalists push forward aggressively while the artillery pieces start the bombardment. The kings men deployment was hampered by the prominent artillery placement in the forward line. Units marching forward in column without a good leader makes the advance difficult.
Sir Henry’s forces have stalled in the center and right wing due to command failures and defensive fire from cover. Parliamentarian Horse managed to get the upper hand and threaten the foot.
Most of the front is busy with ineffectual shooting. On the Royalist left, however, enemy horse smashes into a unit of commanded shot. Sir Henry gallops back from the wing to personally command the defense. Swine Feathers (stratagem, some form of stakes) are raised and the troopers fight bravely. Sir Henry comes under attack, is wounded and transported to the rear.
The loss of Sir Henry wreaks havoc on the Royalist’s morale. Under continued pressure from Colonel Greenwich’s horse their will to fight breaks and the soldiers flee back to their king. Parliamentarian horse, already in the enemy flank manage to ride down many of them. Sir Henry dies in the evening, which at least spares him from the anger of his king.

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.

The Aftermath

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.