Saturday, November 28, 2020

WTF Blogger - How Do I.....

UPDATE: I FIXED IT.  For those of you who stumbled into the same problem - there is an innocuous link in the email section.  To read this below, I would hardly have thought it would be for me to invite myself.  But that's indeed what you must do - invite yourself to receive comments from your own blog.  Is it me, or is that stupid??

                                       

Then again, I am NOT a computer programmer.

For those joining just now, enjoy the below read and see if you can sense my frustration with Blogger.

Turn Comment Notifications "back on?"  

This morning while reading a comment from someone on email, I "fat-fingered" the unsubscribe button on my stupid phone.  My phone, which usually takes 14 minutes to process clicking on ANY link, decided today that it would prosecute my request with lightning efficiency.  So I accidentally turned my email notifications off.  I remembered how in the old days, my preferences would mysteriously change ever few years so I had to go in to fix, which usually took me less than a minute to do.

Well that was the OLD days!  I went in today to see about fixing the comment notifications.  I went in the "same old way" and here is what I've come up with so far:

When I go into settings / comments, I see the following screen:


By now you're staying - Steve!  click on Comment Notification Email!  That's a pretty good idea.  So I clicked on it and this is what I see:


There are no emails.  Nor are there any ways for me to input any emails, either.  So - smart folks out there - what do I do here to turn my comment email notifications back on?  I hate blogger - but I love interacting with my blog commenters - you are the primary reason I post this stuff.  

Am I missing something?  Probably also worth mentioning here that when I do an internet search for the problem, I'm coming up with methods to fix this under the old Blogger.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Hessian Jägers - Quick and Simple

Yesterday I counted my units for Germantown and kept coming up 1 short for the British.  A perusal of my OOB showed that it was the Hessian Jaeger detachment that I was missing - but what to do?  I don't want to buy an entire bag of Jaegers, and a bag of Jaeger commands in 15mm, and pay shipping for a small, 4 x stand unit.  I knew the lead pile would hold the answers.


Bear in mind, there are more 15mm painted and unpainted figures wearing 18th Century Tricorne or Cocked hats in this house than people you saw last month. There are SYW Austrians, Prussians, AWI British, Americans, Hessians - you get the idea.  I found a very convenient 4 x stand unit of "leftovers" from a huge SYW painting commission from about 5 years ago.  I took a number of command, and men in fighting poses that were left over when I was finished with "the big battalions" and based them to serve as light battalions.  This worked out perfect and one of the Austrian light battalions, based 2 to a base, would be pressed into service to become the Jaegers at Germantown!

Button counters beware - you may not wish to proceed any further beyond this point.  Whether you don't want to see the atrocity of turning perfectly good Austrian musketeers into green coated Jaegers, or you don't wish to see the many uniform sins I committed with those Jaegers, just bear in mind desperate times call for desperate measures!!!

Austrian infantry in skirmishing or fighting poses.  Based 2 x to a stand to represent a light detachment.

I used my favorite green that I normally use for British Rifles and a few other green coated forces, and generously applied it to the white coats, leaving the facings and the cuffs red, and being careful to not paint over the belts, which I left white because it added some color to the units - and NOT because of any historical tendency.  I also noted the coats are way too long, but that's okay because they're 15mm and my gaming buddies don't see all that well!


I painted over the white trim of the hats and added a light green cockade to them, as well as some better flock.  I touched up the muskets, trimmed them down by snipping off the end of the barrels and bayonets, and presto - a respectable looking Jaeger detachment who look almost perfectly at home on a battlefield in North America!  Their uniforms are a bit "over the top" for Jaegers, but they'll do.

The color bearer on the right is now holding a rifle - not a flag stand!

Yes - I know the Jaegers didn't have drummers but this figure looked cool and I did not want to hack the drums off.  He gives the unit a bit of character.

Here they are fighting with Armstrong's Militia at Germantown

That is all!  I hope my American readers have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving day today.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving today!  I'm thankful for great family and friends, and the ability to continue to game and engage in this wonderful hobby of ours.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

GERMANTOWN 1777 Practice Game #2 - Field of Battle 3

 Not much posting lately but Ken and I linked up for another practice game of Germantown, 1777 last week using the interesting "Field of Battle 3" rules.  Right off the bat I'll say that FOB3 is a strong contender for the December battle with the interesting, asymmetric approach to "when things happen." I'll admit that while I'm not a huge fan of the non-linear approach (I tend to find comfort in Move-Shoot-Melee!), the game has delivered a very good AWI "feel" to things, and to dispel doubters out there, the cards don't exactly rule when you can do things, but instead provide the commander with interesting battlefield opportunities to either invest in, and the game is chock full of decision making at every turn.

5:30am near the Chew House and Kelly Hill.  The light pickets and a detachment of the 40th Foot guard the approach to the British encampment 

Unlike the last battle, we rotated the table 90 degrees playing from the long edge.  This cuts out the unnecessary approach marches for the Continentals and focuses the battle down to the actual engagement areas, instead of a much larger geographic area.

Greene's Column heading down Limekiln Pike enroute towards Germantown

Sullivan's troops on the Germantown Road make contact quickly, but marching through forested terrain is constricting and they can only deploy 1 regiment at a time.  Their first volleys drive the British lights back and the battle is joined!

Sullivan's men fire on the British lights opening the battle along the Germantown Road

So far, so good.  The resulting combats from Sullivan's men bumping into the lights has been satisfactory, and historical.  The lights give ground and the 40th moves up to cover their withdrawal.  Meanwhile, Smallwood's column arrives on the field.

Smallwood's column arrives on the field


General Washington arrives on the field!

Given the rules for units exiting terrain, Sullivan is having a hard time pressing forward the attack but the initial success in driving back the lights is just too good for this wargamer to ignore and I press on with the lead regiment!

The lights give ground while General Howe watches on.  The British divisions to the south have stood-to and are preparing to march to the sound of the fighting!

Note the columns of British towards Germantown.  Ken skillfully deployed them astride Germantown in open areas, effectively "locking down" the quickest route to the objectives.  I'll have to batter my way through.

The Guards and the British Right Division make their way towards the battlefield.

The British Guards and Smallwood's Militia Columns find themselves on a collision course similar to the real battle and there will be a fight!

Meanwhile Greene's column has about reached the Chew House!  Note the lead regiment deployed into line 

British Regiments moving through Germantown to reach the fighting

An interesting note here - we did NOT model the effects of the buildings within Germantown to have any influence on the fighting - they are really just to show the location of the town.  

The Guards making their way forward through the fields around Germantown
Smallwood's militia men while marching towards their objective are suddenly and violently ambushed by the British Guards in column!  Very bad news for their lead Regiment, which suffers greatly from the excellent British volleys!  The lead regiments melts away and runs into the woods to the north!  Smallwood escapes numerous brushes with death rolling extremely close to kill him in the ensuring checks!

The lead regiment of Smallwood's column is fired on in the flank by the Guards and they run for the trees.  yes I KNOW that is a 2nd New Hampshire colors!  They're New Hampshire troops!!


At this stage, we've played a scant 2 x turns but the battle is unfolding historically at this point where contact is made by almost all of the columns, with Sullivan's column joining battle first.  Again, while I'm not a huge fan of the non-linear approach of Field of Battle, I do really like the combat mechanisms and the simplicity of resolving fire and melee.  Big win in my book.

The situation at the end of turn 2 - dont be fooled either - MUCH activity happens in a turn.

Along the Wissahickon Creek, Sullivan's men march at the double to exit the woods and assist their comrades fighting!

Greene's men deploy around Germantown through a lucky break, all of their Regiments move and deploy, spurring Howe to remark "The damned Rebels form well"

Meanwhile, Ken moves up the British left Division to contest Sullivan's approach.  While Sullivan's lead regiment is pretty beat up, more Regiments are approaching and are committed right out of the march.

Queen's Rangers.....ranging
The fighting in front of Greene is tough - the British hold their fire until the right moment and a furious number of volleys completely spoils the initial Continental assaults east of Germantown.  It's a tough spot and eventually Greene's lead 2 Regiments route and are sent packing!  A tough day for the Virginians indeed!


And Darren - this is for you - for if I recall a FOB AWI game you played, the Guards were handled roughly by a militia regiment or two.  The same thing begins to happen here, where Smallwood's columns, raw though they might be, turn to fight the Guards and unleash a number of volleys against the Regiment in the wheatfield.  The Guards Regiment is handled roughly by their fire!  Ken's assault against them is also beaten back!  

I can't believe my eyes - British Guards being disordered and roughly handled by the shooting of the militia!!!  Smallwood's militia is holding their own on the left flank!  

The entire battle so far - from left to right across the line, all of the columns are now engaged at the end of turn 3.  Smallwoods units are fighting against the British Guards in the wheatfield, Green's men are decisivley engaged next to Germantown, and Sullivan is still bottled up in the woods on the Germantown road.  Armstrong's militia "horde" continues to demonstrate against the Hessians on the American right.


The Wissahickon and Armstrong's men demonstrating against the Hessians

One of Sullivan's Pennsylvania Regiments with a UI marker.  The 40th under Musgrave, far from fleeing to the Chew House, charges them!

So we completed roughly 3 turns of Field of Battle 3 with a serious eye towards using these somewhat unpredictable rules for our Germantown MEGAGAME this December.  So far, I'm very happy with the table setup and feel like focusing on the actual battle area is probably the way to go for this game.

I've enjoyed Field of Battle much for this type of warfare and appreciate the role of the officers and all of the decisions to make.  I will say you really need to be clever when both shooting, melee'ing, and deploying, and you need to have a plan.  Had Greene's men held their fire a bit longer, his column may not have been in the predicament it's in now.  Today we will meet to finish last week's game and I aim to play the same battle with Black Powder next week during the long weekend.

Preparing for Germantown has been a huge project with much reading, research, and more importantly playtesting!  But we're up to the challenge and I'm heartily looking forward to more and more Germantown with my team.

Also - many thanks to Alex for providing what I have to say is one of the best maps on the fighting at Germantown I've yet seen. They are from McGuire's Volume II of The Philadelphia Campaign and they are a wonderful resource for the wargamer.

Taken from McGuire's Volume II of "The Philadelphia Campaign" used without permission

Tune in as we continue to experiment with rules and ideas for recreating this huge AWI battle in all its glory!




Saturday, November 7, 2020

Germantown, 1777 MEGAGAME Special Rules, Setup, and Practice Game Pictures!

 Work continues apace on the Germantown MEGAGAME project!  Having set up the table to find out how the scale looked and worked, it's time to put pen to paper and figure out how to recreate this epic battle on the tabletop.

The battlefield.  Roads are marked with masking tape (for now) until I gather up some felt.  Road to the far right is Germantown Road, the middle road is Limekiln Pike, and the road coming in from the far left is Old York Road.

Yesterday after work, I took to setting up the table on a hex mat to see how it looked and "felt" using about 200 yards per hex.  As it turns out, this scale worked remarkably well and in the practice game I played "felt" right.

I thought at length about some special rules and extra considerations for gaming Germantown.  So in my opinion, no game of this battle would be complete without the following at least:

The fog.  The fog wreaked havoc on the execution of Washington's plan and for at least the first 4 turns, there will be fog rules in effect (more on this below).

Sluggish British Divisions.  The British, if not for their advanced picketts and light detachments warning them with fire, would have been doomed and caught unawares by Washington's attack.  The main body of the British force was encamped south of Germantown proper on higher elevation.  It took some time to rouse them from their camps, form up, and march off.

Victory Conditions and endgame.  Clear winner required.

Command rules and exceptions.  The light detachments are FAR forward of the main body and they do not have command stands with them.  Many rules require units to be in command or suffer penalties.  In this case, these units were hand-picked and their officers and NCOs were experienced fighters who demonstrated initiative and tenacity.

Reinforcement schedule and American column arrival.  The Americans are all over the place trying to execute an overly complicated plan.  While the arrivals will not be random, staggering the arrivals for the formations so the battle makes sense is at least important.  Everyone arriving at the same moment is not historically what happened.  Staggering column arrivals also adds an element of uncertainty and tension.

Special Rules for Germantown (assuming we play Fields of Honor AWI rules - but these special rules are probably easily ported over to other systems)

1. The Fog.  The following rules for fog are in effect until after turn 5. 

No artillery may fire until after turn 5.

Columns only move 2 hexes on roads.  Columns on roads do NOT get an extra hex of movement.

2. Sluggish British Divisions.  

No British main body units (left division, center division, right division) may move or do anything except change formation until Turn 4.  Leaders may move normally.

3. Victory Conditions and Endgame.  The Americans must capture the Market Square and must have a unit on any of the hills south of Germantown NLT turn 20. 

4. Reinforcement Schedule and American Arrival.  No American units start on the table.

Turn 1.  Sullivan and Greene arrive on the battlefield all units in column on their respective roads.  Washington and Knox's artillery arrive with one of them.

Turn 2.  Armstrong arrives with his militia brigades.

Turn 3. Smallwood's militia brigade arrives.

Turn 8.  Stirling arrives with his column.  British and Hessian Grenadiers arrive on the battlefield.

*note - from my playtest of the first 8 to 10 turns last night, this arrival schedule made most sense given that the East-West axis is a bit constricted.  Smallwood and Armstrong would have arrived a wee bit earlier, and if playing on a 6 x 6 table that would make sense.  Also playing it this way saw the action unfold almost exactly as the real battle unfolded.

Some special sneak-preview pictures from the test battle!  Just a taste of the action to come!

Sullivan's column marches down Germantown Road in the early morning fog!

The British advanced picketts are waiting for them!

Just like in the real battle, Green and Sullivan's columns drove the light units back, with both falling back towards the Chew House.

Lieutenant Colonel Musgrave with elements of the picketts at the Chew House!

British columns from the Right Division forming up to move out!  You can just make out the Continentals and retreating lights in the top of the picture.

Naturlich, the Hessians are already formed up and awaiting the enemy!  

Fighting breaks out at the Chew House as Sullivan's columns deploy to lay siege to the building!  Stick to the plan, men!

Heavy fighting as Greene's Division deploys to destroy the lights - they just wont die!  Washington is impatiently following the column as well.

British right division about to make contact with Greene's regiments.
I'll leave you all with a teaser of some of the pictures of the overall fighting, once the Divisions made contact.  it was NOT pretty for either side, I'll say that, but pretty historically accurate I should add.  Enjoy and stay tuned! 

 I'll post some pictures in the coming days of the custom QRS and unit labels I made which are a bit more streamlined from the original FOH game but will greatly aid play.

You will enjoy these pictures regardless of whether you're a Tory, a Patriot, a Lobsterback, or a "damned rebel"!  

Sullivan's men bear down on the British center Division!


Lord Howe in the center watching the battle unfold.  Their sanctimonious German allies watching them march disapprovingly!  

Greene's men about to make contact with the British right division.

Queen's Rangers tangling with Smallwood's Militia







Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Planning Considerations for Germantown, 1777

Wow it's been awhile since I've posted!  No kidding.  While that's not indicative of a decrease in gaming adventures, I have to admit blogging about all of the games was not in the cards given the last month.  October saw a plethora of games on the table including Field of Battle 3 (which we loved!), Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells, and a few other games.

Looking to rectify the dearth of posts, I thought I would post on preparations and planning considerations for this year's Christmas MEGAGAME: Germantown, 1777.  Celebrating the completion of my 15mm AWI project and last November's outstanding Germantown Hold the Line game put on by Bryan L at the "Fall In" convention, getting this tense battle on the table with my closest friends became priority #1 as the summer winded down.

Uninvited Lunch Guests

Long time readers of this blog will remember some of the titanic battles fought in the name of MEGAGAME megalomania including the Ponryi Station 1st May Collective Battle, Tassa Junction in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and of course Aspern Essling last year.  I aim to put on entire battles that are at least memorable to me and the other generals playing in the game.  Germantown, and the AWI, have long been favorites of mine.  So with 2020 still gracing us with gobs of unpleasantness, I felt Germantown would be perfect for this year's MEGAGAME.

Frustrations

Some of the best games I've played recreating this fight could easily be described as "operational" level where I'm taking on the role of Washington, Knyphausen (thank you, Norm - still an unforgettable experience even if the damned rebels came through the back door on us) or another Division or Wing commander, and so the challenge of the rules, of the terrain, and of the very scale of the battle itself become questions to be answered and problems to be solved if we're to have a good and proper battle.

Rules

I've never struggled so much with the question of rules in a large multi player game before. The AWI is such an unusual conflict where the different theaters and campaigns take on different flavors.  Some battles like Crooked Billet, Matson's Ford, and Edge Hill or Whitemarsh are appropriately played with smaller rules sets aimed at a much more tactical decision making.  Games like "Guns of Liberty" or "Rebels and Patriots" are perfect for such games where a company of troops makes the difference on the field of battle.

For larger, stand up engagements like Brandywine, Germantown, or Monmouth, you need a rules engine that can handle large battles without bogging the game down with too much detail.  As Lord Howe or His Excellency General Washington, do I care if the Foot Guards or the 6th Pennsylvania are in double-line, line, or some kind of skirmish order?  Probably not.  I'm focusing on avenues of attack, the timing and commitment of reinforcements, and the prioritization of fires.  

Maybe some of my lead Brigades or Divisions are in rough shape, heavily attrited, and in wargame terms ready to be pulled off the line.  Quite frankly, if you're focusing on formations, figure-to-men ratios, and complex calculations, you dont have the bandwidth for the task of command!  You've become a staff officer.  So in light of those general thoughts, I've considered a few rules for the Germantown game which I'll post here and you will see more of in upcoming blog posts:

Norm's Two Flags - One Nation ACW Rules: Norm's rules are ACW rules, but in multiple playtests this past month, I've found them to be a very good fit for my notions of combat during the AWI and Norm has provided all of the changes you would need to use these rules 80 or 90 years before the war for which they were intended.  With rules for smoothbore-armed units, small units, elite units, artillery half-sections, and a wonderful Command and Control system, Norm's "TFON" are a very good fit for Germantown - if you have the time.  Looking at the roughly 20-30 Regiments per side - the question becomes the time it would take to complete the battle and if that is a practical consideration.

Playing Norm's TFON at the Battle of Hubbardton, 1777

Playing Norm's TFON with AWI forces - a match made in heaven

Fields of Honor-AWI:  A set that many of you will not have heard of unless you've followed the Palouse Wargaming Journal or tuned into my blog last month for a "Simple Wargame" experiment of FOH.  I was lucky to pick up a set of them on BoardGameGeek in excellent condition.  (there were copies on ebay for $40!).

FOH is a "dead simple" game that dispenses with much detail for the sake of brevity and scope.  Case in point are the scenarios that accompanied the FOH rules - Monmouth, Brandywine, Guilford Courthouse and Breed's Hill!  All large battles in their own right.  The question - would FOH be "too" simple?  Perhaps not if a sweet spot could be found.  Again, more on this later.  Ken and I have already played a game of FOH with hexes and this game was hypersonic-fast with units being gobbled up left and right due to them failing 1 morale check and evaporating off the table.  But I have a plan...


Black Powder - (sorry Darren) admittedly still one of my favorite rules for tactical, Horse and Musket warfare, a set that is at mostly understood and mostly familiar with most of my group, "slack chowder" (copyright the Duc de Gobin - all rights reserved to their respective owners - no challenge to their status intended) is meant for large battles in a competition type setting.  It is ideal for pickup play and has enough chrome to satisfy requirements for the AWI.  It also has a super convenient OOB for Germantown in the "Rebellion" supplement which I happen to own...

We have not yet played an AWI game with Black Powder but I aim to.  Whether or not it's the game for Germantown?  Not totally sure.  If I was to "bathtub" the units as Brigades of an impressive 6 x stands each, the battlefield would look lovely.  Keeping things at Regimental level on a 6x4 table would be cumbersome and crowded with 60 total regiments on the table and would look more like a Napoleonic battle instead of a AWI fight.


Commands and Colors Tricorne - The American Revolution - Wow this has to be one of my all time favorite AWI games even if I've only played in 3 x battles.  You can check out this epic Battle of Eutaw Springs I played in at Brian's house.  If I'm honest, I've painted and based everything in my collection to play big games of CCT.  While no CCT scenario exists for Germantown, there is enough out there to make one pretty easily.  With my hexmat and dozens and dozens of Regiments, this would be a seriously good time on the table.  But - is it MEGAGAME worthy?  Most CC series games are over quickly.  Really quickly.  If I'm going to invite the whole gang over or to a socially-distant remote location, it wont be any fun if we start at 1100am and the game ends by 1pm!  What's memorable or epic about that?  Except maybe the pizza lunch?

Terrain and Scale

You'll notice that most of these games are hex based games.  Not that I have any particular penchant for hex based games, but in a MEGA GAME that is perhaps one level removed from a Boardgame, I think hexes are perfect for managing forces and speeding up game play.  There is no tedious measuring and no hassle or arguments over terrain.  Players can focus on eating pizza and moving their units.  The challenge becomes getting the terrain right.  Alex has noted that my table with a ground scale of 1" equals 100 yards, we would be able to put the battlefield from the Chew House, through Market Square in Germantown, and to the heights beyond.  Putting hexes down to the TFON scale of 200 yards per hex probably allows a bit more and I'm playing around with the battlefield now to see what will "look" right and "feel" right.  Depending on the rules, combat will likely be adjacent, with players determining whether they want to charge or shoot.  That should at least make the combat look right on the table.  My players will be wing commanders, with one large or multiple small divisions.

So as you can all plainly see - I've got my work cut out for me!  Right now I'm hatching a scheme to play a test game of Germantown using FOH rules with pretty much all of the Regiments that fought in the battle.  Ken and I came up with a "big battle" hybrid system that dispenses with some of the modifiers, reduces firing range of musket armed troops to adjacent and cuts the artillery in half.  I plan on sharing that with you all soon - and will absolutely post the test game from this weekend.  

It's good to be back in the blogosphere!