Thursday, 2 April 2020

More rule musings

When Goya last came over to help me playtest my rules (was it only 3 weeks ago?) he asked me what I wanted to achieve through the testing. This was a good question and having thought about it since I realised that I was trying to change too many variables at the same time to come to any proper conclusions. As a result, I decided to go right back to square one and play through a scenario with the existing rules to see where any problems might actually lie on the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix’ it principle.

One other thing Goya said was that in any given situation I should look at what the likely outcome would be and see if the rules match this in play, clever fellow that Goya but then he is a scientist. So, I set up the table with a French attacking force outnumbering a defending allied force by 2:1, no hills, no buildings just a straightforward set up. All things considered this looked like a scenario that the French should win.

There were 6 French columns with 4 batteries supported by cavalry and skirmishers. The allies had 2 British line units plus the Brunswickers, 2 batteries of artillery, the light dragoons and some rifles.
The First couple of turns the French concentrated on counter-battery fire that proved very effective so that the allied gun-line was neutralised. On turn 3 the French columns advanced covered by a skirmish screen that got the upper hand over the rifles.
The columns charge forward and take fire. I allowed 2 columns to charge each unit in line as my previous restriction on this seemed unjustified.
The French succeeded in charging home everywhere and won the resulting melees.
On the right the Cambridgeshire's were routed and poor Alten was felled. As you can see the new 24th ligne had a hand in this.

So, the French did win as expected but the wider scope of the game including the use of skirmishers and the larger number of guns opened up some interesting alternatives. It occurred to me that the rules as they stand are pretty much to my liking but maybe the only thing that needs tweaking is the morale rules in relation to unit losses (another idea of Goya’s). I played the scenario again with just this change -

Strength Factors for Morale
Infantry – 21 or more figures remaining in unit +1
Cavalry – 10 or more figures remaining in unit +1
Infantry – 16 or fewer figures remaining in unit -1
Cavalry – 7 or fewer figures remaining in unit -1

This time the French had more problems closing with the lines. This was helped by the Rifles gaining ascendancy over the Voltigeurs and also by some impressive British volley fire.
On the right the Cambridgeshire's were routed again but a spirited charge by the Light Dragoons saw off the 9th legere.

The result was much closer with more of the attackers becoming disordered and the game played out nicely. It was interesting to see how the subtle change to the morale Strength factors influenced play. I need to do more playtesting but then I do seem to have some time on my hands.

Monday, 30 March 2020

French 24th ligne completed

I’ve now based up the French 24th ligne so they are officially complete and added to the French OOB. It’s been interesting how this unit has evolved as I didn’t have a clear idea of what figures to use when I started out but I’m happy with the result.

For once all the figures I used were vintage Hinton Hunt castings which after all is what this blog is supposed to be about.

13 x FN/16 Voltigeur 1807/12 (marching) – but without plumes
2 x FN/73 Tirailleur Guard (marching)
5 x FN/237 Grenadier (marching)
1 x FN/236 Grenadier Officer (marching)
1 x FN/8 Fusilier Officer (marching)
1 x FN/4 Colour Bearer (charging)
1 x FN/6 Drummer (charging)

Having enjoyed painting the line grenadiers for this unit I’ve decided that next up will be my Old Guard marching figures that I’ve had in the lead pile for far too long.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

George B. McClellan

In response to Matt’s suggestion on his Waterloo-to-Mons blog I am posting today about my favourite military commander in history, Union general George Brinton McClellan.

McClellan finished 2nd in his class of 59 at West Point, he served with distinction in the Mexican War and even visited the British siege lines at Sebastopol as an official observer. On paper he had the potential to be a brilliant general and upon being given command of the Union forces in the east in 1861 he was hailed as “The Young Napoleon”.

McClellan proved himself to be a great organiser and set about creating the Army of The Potomac virtually from scratch. In this he was hugely successful and, in the process, became very popular with the troops who would cheer with gusto as he rode along the lines during reviews. There was just one problem, McClellan didn’t like to fight.

That’s not to say that he was not personally brave but whenever he finally got his army in motion (usually only after much prodding from President Lincoln) he was slow and indecisive, always wrongly believing that he was greatly outnumbered by the enemy. On his first major campaign on the peninsula the Confederates referred to him disparagingly as “The Virginia creeper” because of the very slow progress made by the Union army towards Richmond.

That campaign did of course fail but McClellan thought he had carried off a spectacular fighting withdrawal against overwhelming odds and couldn’t understand why Lincoln (who he called “The Original Gorilla”) didn’t seem very impressed. Following Antietam, where he failed to capitalise on his victory by pursuing and destroying the Rebels, he was finally removed from command.

McClellan (centre) 15mm figure in my ACW collection.

So why McClellan? I didn’t have to think twice about who my favourite commander is, it has always been McClellan since I first read about him some 35 years ago in Bruce Catton’s “Mr Lincoln’s Army”. I’m fascinated at how a person so theoretically suited to command of an army could turn out to be so bad at fighting with it.

I have played many ACW wargames over the years, but I always prefer to play McClellan over any other Union commander. The mixture of pompous incompetence and paranoia in the face of the enemy is something I am drawn to, not that I’m in any way like that myself as a commander of miniature armies of course.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Command group done

I’ve completed the command group for the 24th ligne. The officer is FN/8 Officer (marching) and this casting is one I’ve had in my possession since 2006 having been included in one of my first eBay purchases for this project, nice to give him his own regiment at last. 

The colour-bearer (FN/4) is a vintage one recently donated to me by Tony. My stocks of original colour-bearer figures were almost exhausted and the reproduction ones I have are just not the same quality. I’m a great fan of the cast-on flags but I find painting the lettering a right fiddle, I am in awe of those of you who can whip up a masterpiece on a bit of coke can!

The drummer is FN/6 Drummer (charging), I’ve painted a few of these now and although I’m sure this is a vintage casting, he seems a little on the small size.

So that’s it, the unit is complete and just needs basing.

Monday, 23 March 2020

More Grenadiers

I’ve managed to finish the grenadiers for the 24th Line which just leaves the command figures to paint. The officer here is part of the grenadier company rather than the unit command, he is a lovely vintage casting of FN/236 French infantry of the line 1807/12, Grenadier Officer (marching).

I think that the Hinton Hunt French marching grenadier figures are amongst the finest of Marcus Hinton’s sculpts and it has started me thinking about the unit of Old Guard grenadiers that have been languishing in the lead pile far too long.

Hopefully I’ll get the remaining three figures for this unit completed in the next day or so.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Morale boost

I still had all the troops on the table from the playtest last week so thought I'd take a few snaps to lift the morale of any of you idling at home (like me).

Chin up!

Sunday, 15 March 2020

A Grenadier and more rule playtesting

Not much painting progress recently other than this test-figure for the Grenadier company of the 24th line. The figure is FN/237 Grenadier (marching).

On Wednesday Goya came over to the Hut to help me with the continuing playtesting of the tweaks for my rules Muskets & Marshals. We ran through a couple of small scenarios that turned out to be surprisingly good fun to play.

Here come the French again taking on an allied line on a ridge - should be a piece of cake.
The attacking French columns were all forced into line but were eventually successful in the centre and right flank. On the left flank the 45th ligne were routed by a spirited counter-attack from the Black Watch. We both agreed that the rule changes resulted in an interesting little game.
After lunch we swapped sides and his time the French were tasked with attacking an Austro-Russian force with one flank anchored on a village.
The action developed into a pell-mell fight with units shooting and charging all over the place. It was good fun but we didn't really get to test the rule changes so much in this one. My main conclusion is that the rules are pretty good as they stand but a bit more work on morale may nail it.

For the record these are the amendments we tried out:


+1 advancing in column
+1 charging (not uphill)
-1 unit receiving 4 or more casualties in a single turn

If a column declares a charge on a line and the line passes its morale test with good morale throw 1 x normal die:

1, 2 or 3 the column must HALT and deploy into line instead of completing a charge.
4, or 5 continue with the charge as normal but do not add +1 for charging to the unit morale test score.
6 continue with the charge as normal.

A+ troops +1 to die roll