Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Prussians, Bavarians, Russian SMGs & Some News...

Happy Father's Day to the dads out there (today is father's day in the US).  Ken and I left our Blucher game up hopefully for next week so no small solo games this week. Also no BLucher this weekend as I have a large family engagement today and have no time for gaming.  I was able to get some light painting done over the last 2 mornings in between helping out around the house as my wife broke her foot this past week, effectively leaving me in charge of basically anything in the house - doctor's orders!

1/2 of the next Prussian Infantry Regiment.  Pretty generic.  Blue Coats Red Cuffs and Facings. I haven't figured out which unit they belong to yet...

Bavarian Madness continues!  These are actually 10mm Old Glory Austrians that I thought would be suitable Bavarians in 10mm.  Respectable I think.

In case you ever wanted to know what 15/18mm Eureka Bavarians look like next to 10mm Old Glory...
 And to finish some other things on my workbench, how about a squad or 2 of Soviet SMG troops?  Different painting style here.

Coming up?  Taking a fresh look at Charles Grant's "The Wargame" scaled down or bigger battles (12 figure Regiments/Battalions).  Also looking at Bolt Action as July's game with Dave down in Virginia will be here before you know it!  Im also thinking of bringing Mr Neil Thomas' ONE HOUR WARGAMES down with me and some horse and musket troops since we'll have some time for some quick games.

Anyways that's all for now.  Hopefully next time I post, there'll be a finished Bavarian Battalion and some SYW Prussians done as well!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Along the Danube with BLUCHER

Ken and I played the introductory scenario "Along the Danube" from Sam Mustafa's "Blucher" this afternoon and I snapped a few pictures of the action (cards for units this time around but hoping to rectify that with Blucher sabots in the near project perhaps?)

Right off the bat I will tell you Blucher delivers on its promises - you are the General and commander of the Army.  That is you command multiple Corps and you make "operational level" decisions - a huge selling point for me when looking at Grand Tactical set of rules.

Your success hinges on the success of your Brigades in the close fight, and you must have a plan (and a reserve) to fight.  The enemy gets a vote, too, and Blucher hones a "neat" system for making sure you can't do all the things you want to do in a turn.  In fact, it's probably the best system I've yet come across for enforcing limitations of your headquarters on you.  This is accomplished through the use of "momentum" where at the end of your turn you roll.  The resulting roll equates roughly to the number of units your opponent can activate.  The best part is, your opponent doesn't know what his momentum number will be from turn to turn as that is managed by the opposing player!

As Ken pointed out, it's nice because there are "quiet" portions of the battlefield where nothing is happening, more than likely until the Momentum allows you to activate them.  Players will find themselves concentrating on a pivotal Corps or grouping that is important to their plan.

Ken playing the Austrians - yours truly (moi?) playing the French.
 Ken already had the Blucher cards printed out and I left my Gneisenau staff QRS somewhere else!

Ken's laminated unit cards.  Very nice and using wet erase markers to track unit status
 Luck started off on my side with my first artillery bombardment scoring 3 sixes!  Wohoo!  Lady luck departed my side of the table after that and my attacks were not to be as successful!

Brigades of the I Corps moving into position to attempt to breakthrough in the vicinity of the Austrian left flank.

Ken schooled me with close combat - always better to attack with 2 units than one!
 Blucher, which I though was very similar to Volley and Bayonet (VB) goes VB one further and really combines the combat power of the unit with the "exhaustion" concept from VB.  So your "Elan" in Blucher comes off as you engage in battle to battle and you lose more if you lose combats.  My firing dice or melee dice are tied to that Elan number, so as it goes down, my unit capabilities go down with it.  A brilliant and elegant concept.

Ken's Austrian Brigades coming up to parry the French thrusts at their flank.
 Planning and positioning your units is extremely important in this game.  You must be ready to reinforce success of counter a critical loss by keeping a reserve.  I think the system also lends itself to bold movements and some risk taking.  (always good!  Because that's what makes commanders successful in many cases).

Ken put some of my Bavarians atop a base.  They look good on there so imagine the entire table full of troop atop these bases!

After some combats.

Artillery Battery!
 I mentioned to Ken that I think Blucher got the "feeling" right in that you are making the right decisions for your level of command.

Another gratuitous shot of my Eureka Bavarians!

Thoughts on Blucher
Well I hope you can tell by now that I am a big fan of this game.  If you're looking for big-level games that won't take forever and a day to play and you don't want to have to play Company, Battalion, Brigade, Division AND Corps Commander, then Blucher is most likely for you.  I will go so far as to say it may go Volley and Bayonet "one better" in that it's more streamlined and probably plays faster when you have more experienced players on both sides.  Ken had to talk me through some parts that are a slight departure from most mainstream rules but these are learned after a few turns (we are on turn 9 and I feel I have the basics covered now).

My recommendation to you is that if you want to fight entire battles and make big level decisions, then this game should be part of your collection.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Quatre Bras with Snappy Nappy!

Ken and Brian came over and we played an introductory game of Snappy Nappy using a modified scenario from the Volley & Bayonet: Road to Glory rulebook.  I say modified because there wasn't enough cavalry on the table, and we also sped up the arrival timeline slightly (D'Erlon's Corps arrived a little earlier to facilitate more maneuver on the table).

Looking down the Brussels Road towards Quatre Bras
Ken acted as the umpire while Brian played the French.  I played the British.
 Brian's French (French II Corps under Reile) showed up on turn 1 and deployed smartly to attack the Anglo Allied positions.  We kept the initial locations of the Allied positions secret but Brian was able to ascertain where the defense line was going to set up!

Dutch in the woods on the right.  Guns in the center and British on the left.  Snappy Nappy places great emphasis on troop quality and my Dutch are "Conscript" quality while my British are "Seasoned".  

"They came in the same, old way"
 Brian brought his troops up the center and located the Allied positions, which he fanned out to attack!

The Prince of Orange and his staff observe the French.  Note the Dutch troops in the woods to the right

Beads are morale level changes.  Note to self - print out markers for the next game!
 The French II Corps fans out and brings its guns up to hit the British.  Meanwhile, Brian moves some French columns to attack the Dutch in the treeline.

The Dutch Brigade on the right will be pushed back, and this Battery will eventually be forced out of position.  

The French assault the Dutch!
 The turns progress and we moved up the timeline slightly so D'Erlon's I Corps enters the table a little earlier.  Picton's Reserve Corps, with the elite Highlanders also moves onto the table!.  They will move in on "Maneuver" orders and occupy the sunken road next to Quatre Bras.

Picton curses his men along...

A Dutch Brigade evaporates creating a gaping hole in the Prince of Orange's line.
 The Black Brunswickers show up.  They are actually British 10mm troops painted black with blue cuffs and collars.  Cheating?  Maybe - only took me a fraction of the time to paint them...

The Prince of Orange's Corps is nearly spent.  French troops occupy Gemioncourt and have also entered the woods.  Time for the Artillery to get out!

The Dutch let off an impressive volley and push the French back - buying themselves some time.  What occurs is a 5 turn running battle where they are eventually caught by the French in the woods....

The British are reforming their line while the French move up additional units

Picton's units march into position.  The arrows indicate columnar movement.

I succeed in getting the Battery off the line but the Prince of Orange's attempts to rally them are constantly unsuccessful.  They join Picton's units near the sunken lane but don't have much of an effect for the rest of the day.  

Back on the road, French II Corps moves up.

Brian planning his next move!

Meanwhile Picton observes the French advance

Ney arrives at Gemioncourt.  II Corps is advancing by

Reille is satisfied with the remains of the day.  His Corps is still in decent fighting order.
 The French form a "Grand Battery" with their artillery units and start bombarding the Highlanders along the sunken road.  After a few consecutive turns of good rolling, they finally break!

The next defensive line - Picton firmly in command.  The Prince of Orange trying rally up a level on the artillery.  To no avail!

The highlanders are taking a beating from artillery fire!

The British refuse a flank after French Hussars (cleverly disguised as British Heavy Dragoons) reach the flank!
 We have reached turn 8 which is supposed to be the end but the French onslaught hasn't reached the second British line yet.  We decide to play another round to see if the British can hold out.  The French solidly flank the British on their left, routing 2 Brigades and the battle turns into a jailbreak!  The British fail to form a hasty square in time (not that that would have helped their morale was already starting to falter).

The "Black Brunswickers" move up to make their stand.

Meanwhile the Dutch are still running through the woods from the French.  In this picture, they're caught and swiftly dealt with!

2 French Brigades move forward!

French Cavalry menaces the Highlanders!

A French infantry division flanks the British

View from the French side as French troops enter the Bossu Woods

I handed Brian the wrong battery - that's a British foot battery there but you get the idea.

French gunners pound the British positions before the Line moves in!

Flanking the British!

THe final British battalion on Picton's left is routed!
 In the interest of humanity we called the game here after both British flanks have collapsed.  We were probably only a few turns from the French emerging from the Bossu woods and the British road to Brussels being cut.  This was a solid French victory!

Thoughts on Snappy Nappy
We all liked the rules pretty much.  Not sure they are as streamlined as promised, but we did play a game involving 2 to 3 Corps on a side in a little over 3 hours and that's impressive I think.  Some thoughts and observations on the rules:

Artillery is powerful!  Your cannon are potent killers (as they should be) on the battlefield.  Brian "brigading" his Artillery into a Grand Battery gave them 4D10 (for all intents and purposes) to shoot at those Highlanders from a comfortable range while the infantry moved into position.

Troop Quality is a critical component of the game.  In the interest of time we disregarded the 100 Days' OOB from the yahoo group and just made all British "Seasoned" all French "Veteran" and all Allied forces "Conscript."  While not too far removed from the OOB, placing conscripts on your flank without leadership to help rally them is probably asking for trouble.  (The majority of movement of my Dutch was retreating after a combat!)

Strategic Movement is an important component of the game.  At the command level of Snappy Nappy (you as the Corps or Army commander) the roads on the battlefield are of prime importance to your success.  Field columns only move 6" so the roads enable you to move a full foot and give you the mobility you need to perform sweeping maneuvers on the battlefield.

Corps Rallying.  Rallying your Corps is extremely difficult within the confines of the rules.  It's much easier to use your Corps Commander to rally individual brigades during the rally phase but that will put them at risk if the Brigade is attacked.

Final Thoughts?  We all agreed we enjoyed the system and would like to play it again soon possibly with Ken's Austrians and French.