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

2019 is dead, long live 2020

Back in December 2018 I decided on a couple of wargaming goals for 2019. Time to review these. My status in italics:

  • Acquire a Napoleonic Prussian Army: This is a task bleeding over from 2018. I already ordered a fully based and painted army in 6mm Baccus. It should arrive by end of winter.

    Done!
  • Acquire a Napoleonic British Army: This is the last big army I need in my set of the five great Nations. I’m thinking about cutting down in size on this army though. I need to make a plan how many British and minor nation allies I need (see below).

    I wasn’t sure if I want to continue the 6mm scale and basing. But I think I will get them sooner than later.
  • Acquire some Napoleonic minor nations units: To add some color to armies and support the British army. I’m thinking about units with distinct uniforms and common presence in the age of Napoleon. Bavarians, Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Vistula Legion, Portuguese

    See above
  • Play more test battles with Age of Eagles: Only played two so far which I didn’t enjoy that much. There are some AoE scenarios I downloaded and want to set up.

    I played another scenario but it felt weird. The units are brigades with thousands of men, they are quite big on the table but they feel more like battalions to me.
  • Play more test battle with Bloody Big Battles (Napoleonic mod): I downloaded two Napoleonic mods for the rules. I want to try them and compare with my AoE games. Playing the same scenario with AoE, BBB and Blücher (my go to rule-set) should give me some insights about the rules systems and how much I like them or not.

    I still need to do this. I think I will run into the same problem as with AoE.
  • Paint the remaining 6mm houses: They are sitting in the box where I primed them. No excuses this year!

    I’m on it. Slowly…
  • Test Twilight of the Sun King rule-set: I ordered it in December and waiting for it to arrive. If I like the rules I want to make them work for Napoleonics.

    I played two battles and had a lot of problems interpreting the rules. There is a long list of modifiers for morale (and effectively shooting) which I now consider bad design. These long lists slow game play so much that it isn’t enjoyable.
  • Set-up and play an ECW campaign with For King and Parliament tabletop rules: So many ECW blogger campaigns I follow. I desperately want to set up my own but it has proven difficult to find a campaign system I’m satisfied with.

    Ongoing. The campaign works, although not moving armies on the map is a bit of a bummer. For King and Parliament works well, too. I tried out other sets and they can’t compare.
  • Find suitable campaign rules for a Europe-spanning Napoleonic campaign: Yeah, good luck with that…

    Need more luck this year…
  • Make counter armies for Fistful of Tows 3: Some easy to read NATO-Symbol counters for WW2 armies. Probably for the eastern front.

    No progress and currently not much interest. I bought and played Rommel though. I liked it but not enough interest in WWII currently.
  • Play some Fistful of Tows 3 test battles: Read most of the rules and want to try them out. Something easy first like a WW2 eastern front tank battle without artillery.

    See above.
  • Base all remaining trees: I have about 40% done since yesterday. I single base them to be more flexible. I build a test forest template a few month ago, however. I have to decide if I like it enough to keep it or rip it apart to re-base the trees.

    I’m trying a new basing scheme but progress is slow.
  • Test a C&C Napoleonics variant: My biggest critique of the game is the time to kill. It is very easy to kill whole units off without much time to react. For the scale and time frame the game conveys to me this seems wrong. On top of that it strengthens the luck aspect of the card drawing. I’m thinking about a variant where each block simply takes 2, 3 or even 4 hits before being destroyed.

    Done that. Best C&C game so far. Have to play some more.
  • Design a random army generator for C&C Napoleonics: Either with dice or as a little coding project with Python (programming language). I already made a list of all available blocks for this and have some basic ideas. I want to tie it to certain periods though, like “French – Russian campaign” or “French – Waterloo campaign” or something along those lines.

    Thinking about this currently as I tried Polemos Marechal d’Empire and its force generator.
  • Design a random terrain generator: Already have a prototype which I tested once. I need to incorporate rivers and roads in a better way and tweak some stuff. Currently it uses playing cards. Maybe I should switch it to a program or custom terrain cards (according to my collection of terrain).

    Seen stuff in other blogs and have enough rule systems with good terrain generation so this is not necessary.
  • Make counter armies for ancients: This is a long term project. The problem is, to make counters that don’t feel too generic.

    Currently testing with a DBA campaign.
  • Get some ancients battles going. Preferably in a campaign setting: I have downloaded some campaign rules, mostly with DBA tied in. They require a set of multiple armies each though.

    See above.
  • Designing a cold war era social game: I began work on this in 2018. It is currently planned as a matrix game for six players and a game master. The setting is a spy war on cold war Berlin.

    Minimal progress
  • And last but not least: Play games!

    Did that

Reasonable progress I think. Apart from the terrain front where I want to step it up.

What Else

Beyond my set goals I did some other unplanned stuff as well. I played the new Field of Glory Napoleonics Second Edition, General d’Armee, Polemos Marechal d’Empire and the new rule set from Hervé Caille Bataille Empire.

Sad to say that none of them convinced me entirely. Being a competition rule set FoGN is to complicated and table heavy for me. General d’Armee was way better than I remembered it but ultimately slower than Black Powder and the results seemd to be similar. The same can be said for Bataille Empire. The rules are very well written and offer a good amount of detail for their speed. I have to try them again but I still think Black Powder can achieve similar results with way less rules clutter.

The Polemos rule set is just a mess. I didn’t create very complicated combat situations in my game but the rules couldn’t even explain the basic stuff fully. Apart from that it just looked like several DBA games played at once. Just blocks crushing into other blocks. Which is totally fine in DBA but looks strange in Napoleonics.

Speaking of DBA and Napoleonics. I also briefly tried DBN again and… see above. The game works but it doesn’t feel right for me.

In regards to miniatures I build some ECW proxies. Essentially lines of painted matchsticks for a rough 2mm treatment of the conflict. I have to play more battles with the buggers to see if I like the look.

I also ordered some 2mm Napoleonic blocks and did some prototyping. Haven’t found the massed Brigade look and feel so far. I’m thinking about using them for other stuff like Ancients, SF or fantasy.

Some of my gaming time, actually quite a bit, went into painting monsters for Sword & Sorcery. A Dungeon crawler boardgame with miniatures I play with friends. I’m making good progress and games with unpainted miniatures are quite rare now. I still have to paint a huge dragon with several heads and his minions. They should be fun.

English Civil War Campaign Rules

After much deliberation I started my ECW campaign. While the tactical rules were set early on with For King and Parliament, the campaign rules went through many iterations. Inspired mostly by Grid based wargaming – but not always and 1642 And All That as well as other sources here are the rules I came up with. I don’t claim them to by my own though, as I borrowed ideas from the aforementioned blogs and other blogs and books:

Change Log

This is a living document. Follow the history below if you need to know which rules changed since the last time you visited.

  • 2019-01-23: Initial version
  • 2019-02-10: SP amount for victories increased.
  • 2019-02-22: Discount for neutralize and claim actions on the same area removed. Better starting map added.

The Map

The campaign map is devided into areas. These are either neutral or claimed by one side. Areas can be fortified in two levels:

  • Level 1: Fortified
  • Level 2: Fortress

The map below is not historically accurate but gives a good amount of areas.


Starting positions August 1642. Black borders group several smaller areas together. The upper black border leads into Scotland and is impassable. Areas with yellow flags are neutral. Diamond shapes are fortified areas while pentagon symbol in London shows “fortress”-status.
Map Copyright Bruce Jones Design Inc. 2010

Areas are either neutral or in Royalist or in Parliamentarian hand.

Strategic Turns

Each turn contains the following steps:

  • Add 1d3 month to the campaign time. The campaign starts in August 1642. There is no defined end date
  • Check for historical events (see below)
  • Roll random events (unless first turn)
  • Fight a battle with For King and Parliament
  • The winner takes his strategic actions on the campaign map
  • The loser takes his strategic actions on the campaign map

Historical Events

  • April 1643: Parliamentarians begin to switch from Dutch Horse to Swedish Horse. In the next battle 40% of Dutch Horse are switched to Swedish Horse. The battle after 70% and from then on 100%
  • October 1643: After the Solemn League and Covenant treaty in September Parliamentarians can field Scottish units.
  • January 1645: Roll 1d6 each month until a 5 or 6 has been rolled. When successful the Parliamentarians deploy the New Model Army. In the next battle 40% of pike and shot become shot heavy. The battle after 70% and from then on 100%
  • Royalists control 22 areas: Royalists have enough economical power to field more muskets. The Royalists constraints to field Pike heavy troops and less artillery are lifted.
  • Royalists control London: Royalists win

Strategic Points

Depending on the battlefield success both sides earn strategic points (SP) to spend after the battle.

  • Major victory: Winner 7 SP, loser 3 SP
  • Victory: Winner 6 SP, loser 3 SP
  • Narrow victory: Winner 5 SP, loser 3 SP
  • Draw: No points earned.

There are no hard and fast rules for determining victory. It is determined looking at victory medal difference, situation at the end of battle and stroy elements. An intact cavalry force on the winning side at the end of a battle can upgrade a victory fro example, as the cavalry can pursue fleeing troops causing considerable losses.

Strategic Actions

The following strategic actions can be taken every turn. Resolve one action before doing the next.

  • Neutralize area: Remove the enemy from an area adjacent to one of your own. Costs 2 SP + 1 SP for every adjecent enemy area – 1 SP for every own adjacent area. Minimum 1 SP. If the area is fortified the minimum cost is 2 SP. Roll 1d6. On a 3+ a level 1 fortified area has been successfully neutralized. On a 5+ a level 2 fortress area has been successfully neutralized. If the roll has failed, the SP are spend never the less. Fortified areas can only be targeted once per turn.
  • Claim neutral area: Claim an area adjacent to one of your own which is neutral. Costs 3 SP – 1 SP for every own adjacent area. Minimum 1 SP. You can only claim from areas that have been under your control at the start of the turn.
  • Fortify: Add one level of fortification to an area you control. Costs 4 SP. You can only do this action once per strategic turn. You cannot fortify an area that you just claimed this turn.
  • Gather strength: Transfer 1 SP to your next turn for the cost of 2 SP.

After all actions are done unspend SP are lost.

Army Generator

Armies are randomly determined by some form of army generator. About 13-15 units seem to be a good number to get to 100 point armies even with low troop training.

The first campaign battle should be played balanced armies (Edgehill situation). Thereafter the armies don’t have to be balanced. In fact, if one side has two thirds the number of areas it should generally field a larger army. Another way would be to build armies to a fixed value and add the difference in areas times two to the side with more areas.

This area of the rules is still in flux. I will switch up methods and test out new mechanics for a while.

Troop Training

The training levels for battle troops are raw (R), seasoned (S) and veteran (V) and are allocated with ratios. Both sides roll 1d6 each adn allocate the ratios randomly among their troops.

Until January 1643
1-4: 2/1/-
5: 3/2/-
6: 3/2/1

February 1643 until December 1643
1: 2/1/-
2-3: 3/2/-
4-5: 3/2/1
6: 2/3/1

During 1644
1: 3/2/-
2: 3/2/1
3-4: 2/3/1
5: 2/2/1
6: 1/2/1

1645 and later
1: 3/2/1
2: 2/3/1
3-4: 2/2/1
5: 1/2/1
6: -/3/1

Random Events

Both sides roll 1d100:

  • 1-2 Recruitment drive: Add one raw unit to your army for this battle
  • 3-4 Traitor: Replace a general with a colonel before deployment
  • 5-6 Strategic advantage: Draw two stratagem and discard one face down.
  • 7-8 Lay of the land: After all terrain has been placed you may remove one non-linear terrain piece
  • 9-10 Casualties of war: A unit of your choice with 2 or 3 hits gain one disordered marker before deployment
  • 11-12 Eager horse: one of your horse units must deploy three boxes from the baseline.
  • 13-14 A fine officer: Add a gallant gentlement to a unit of your choice
  • 15-16 Battlefield promotion: Replace a colonel with a general before deployment
  • 17-18 Supply shortages: Gain 1 SP less this turn
  • 19-20 Plenty of supplies: Gain 1 SP more this turn
  • 21-22 Bad weather: Both sides gain 1 SP less this turn
  • 23-24 Strategy over tactics: The winner gains 1 SP less this turn. The loser gets 1 SP more this turn
  • 25-26 Early moves: Reduce the campaign time by one month
  • 27-28 Unsuitable weather: Add one month to the campaign timer
  • 29-30 Two armies on the march: Roll 2d6 for troop training and take the higher one
  • 31-32 War takes its toll. Roll 2d6 for troop training and take the lower one
  • 33-34 Siege equipment: Add +1 to the success roll of your fist siege this turn
  • 35-36 Strategic ruse: The loser takes his strategic actions first this turn
  • 37-38 Revolt: A random non-fortified area you control becomes neutral
  • 39-40 Show of color: A random non-fortified neutral area is claimed for your side
  • 41-42 Torches and pitchforks: Chose an area you control. It cannot be targeted by the enemy this turn.
  • 43-44 Mercenaries from the continent: Add one seasoned unit to your army for this battle
  • 45-46 It has been a long campaign: A random horse unit that is neither well nor poorly mounted becomes poorly mounted
  • 47-48 Scout report: The enemy has to set up one brigade before usual deployment
  • 49-50 Blunder: Before deployment the enemy sets up one of your units for you but it has to face the enemy baseline
  • 51-52 Ammunition shortages: Lose two ammunition counters from the units who have the most. These must be two different units and in case of a tie you decide
  • 53-54 Plenty of ammunition: Add an ammunition counter to a unit of your choice
  • 55-56 Give the horses a good rest: Add one dash counter to a unit of your choice
  • 57-58 Rousing speech: Add one to your victory medals
  • 59-60 Brother against brother, this is madness: Reduce your victory medals by one
  • 61-62 You are hereby ordered to take that bridge: Before deployment put a marker in a box of your choice that contains a non-linear terrain piece and is on the enemy half of the battlefield. As long as you have a unit in this box the enemy reduces his victory medals by one.
  • 63-64 Hit them hard lads: The player who claims the first victory medal(s) this battle claims a bonus medal
  • 65-66 Damp weather: This battle, even single fire costs an ammunition counter. If a unit has no ammo counters left, it can fire as normal again
  • 67-68 I can’t see the man in front of me: Heavy fog makes long range fire impossible. At the beginning of each turn roll 1d6. If the roll is below the current number of turns the fog lifts
  • 69-70 A well planned battle: During the first turn add +1 to every activation card for movement
  • 71-72 Protect Sir James: Convert one of your Dutch or Swedish horse to seasoned Cuirassiers
  • 73-74 Patriotic townsfolk: Add a unit of rabble before troop training
  • 75-76 Distinguished Gentleman: A random non-gallant general or colonel becomes gallant
  • 77-78 Faulty muskets: A random pike and shot battalia becomes pike heavy before deployment
  • 79-80 First battle: A random raw non-artillery unit becomes untried after deployment
  • 81-82 Confusion in the ranks: Chose a random unit after deployment. It cannot be activated during your first two turns
  • 83-84 No mans land: You cannot claim areas this turn.
  • 85-86+ No event

Wargaming Everything in 2019

So much I want to do and try out in wargaming. In order not to forget most of it and motivate myself I wrote up a to do list:

  • Acquire a Napoleonic Prussian Army: This is a task bleeding over from 2018. I already ordered a fully based and painted army in 6mm Baccus. It should arrive by end of winter.
  • Acquire a Napoleonic British Army: This is the last big army I need in my set of the five great Nations. I’m thinking about cutting down in size on this army though. I need to make a plan how many British and minor nation allies I need (see below).
  • Acquire some Napoleonic minor nations units: To add some color to armies and support the British army. I’m thinking about units with distinct uniforms and common presence in the age of Napoleon. Bavarians, Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Vistula Legion, Portuguese
  • Play more test battles with Age of Eagles: Only played two so far which I didn’t enjoy that much. There are some AoE scenarios I downloaded and want to set up.
  • Play more test battle with Bloody Big Battles (Napoleonic mod): I downloaded two Napoleonic mods for the rules. I want to try them and compare with my AoE games. Playing the same scenario with AoE, BBB and Blücher (my go to rule-set) should give me some insights about the rules systems and how much I like them or not.
  • Paint the remaining 6mm houses: They are sitting in the box where I primed them. No excuses this year!
  • Test Twilight of the Sun King rule-set: I ordered it in December and waiting for it to arrive. If I like the rules I want to make them work for Napoleonics.
  • Set-up and play an ECW campaign with For King and Parliament tabletop rules: So many ECW blogger campaigns I follow. I desperately want to set up my own but it has proven difficult to find a campaign system I’m satisfied with.
  • Find suitable campaign rules for a Europe-spanning Napoleonic campaign: Yeah, good luck with that…
  • Make counter armies for Fistful of Tows 3: Some easy to read NATO-Symbol counters for WW2 armies. Probably for the eastern front.
  • Play some Fistful of Tows 3 test battles: Read most of the rules and want to try them out. Something easy first like a WW2 eastern front tank battle without artillery.
  • Base all remaining trees: I have about 40% done since yesterday. I single base them to be more flexible. I build a test forest template a few month ago, however. I have to decide if I like it enough to keep it or rip it apart to re-base the trees.
  • Test a C&C Napoleonics variant: My biggest critique of the game is the time to kill. It is very easy to kill whole units off without much time to react. For the scale and time frame the game conveys to me this seems wrong. On top of that it strengthens the luck aspect of the card drawing. I’m thinking about a variant where each block simply takes 2, 3 or even 4 hits before being destroyed.
  • Design a random army generator for C&C Napoleonics: Either with dice or as a little coding project with Python (programming language). I already made a list of all available blocks for this and have some basic ideas. I want to tie it to certain periods though, like “French – Russian campaign” or “French – Waterloo campaign” or something along those lines.
  • Design a random terrain generator: Already have a prototype which I tested once. I need to incorporate rivers and roads in a better way and tweak some stuff. Currently it uses playing cards. Maybe I should switch it to a program or custom terrain cards (according to my collection of terrain).
  • Make counter armies for ancients: This is a long term project. The problem is, to make counters that don’t feel too generic.
  • Get some ancients battles going. Preferably in a campaign setting: I have downloaded some campaign rules, mostly with DBA tied in. They require a set of multiple armies each though.
  • Designing a cold war era social game: I began work on this in 2018. It is currently planned as a matrix game for six players and a game master. The setting is a spy war on cold war Berlin.
  • And last but not least: Play games!