Sunday, October 21, 2018


Alex was over last night for a test game of ONE HOUR GRAND TACTICAL [click] , which is a "grand tactical" variant of Mr Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames rules.  We played scenario 12 from the OHW book "Surprise Attack" which is based off of the battle of Quatre Bras from the Waterloo campaign.  For the first game, I played the French under Marshall Ney, and Alex played the Allies under Wellington.  This led to me saying at the end of almost all my turns, "your move, Wellington."

We each chose a "special" extra unit.  So we diced for the usual Neil Thomas order of battle for 6 x units, but got to choose an additional unit.  I was already "blessed" with the OOB for having 2 x Artillery batteries, so I chose a unit of the Old Guard.  Alex wisely chose a skirmisher detachment of the 95th Rifles/South Essex!  We can only hope Sean Bean was in command.

Looking towards the village of Quatre Bras from the French stepping off point.  Field is 3' by 3'
The French start with the initiative for the game.  So on turn 1 they start but we contested it every other turn, with the reacting player needing to beat the die roll by "2" to steal the initiative away.

French stepping off from the road onto the attack.  Note the cavalry moving to the right 

French Brigades deploying for battle!  Ney directs the brigades personally!
 Alex uses a tried and true tactic for this scenario and retrogrades his Dutch forces back towards the crossroads with French brigades of D'Erlon's Corps hot on their heels.

Dutch Brigades falling back towards the village crossroads - note the artillery firing at the French down the road

Beginning of Turn 2.  Alex has fired his artillery at my cavalry who are crossing in the open.  French Cavalry has a casualty marker on it.
 Turn 2, my artillery runs out of ammo and needs to resupply.  Ugh!  I can scarcely afford to spare an order on artillery resupply but I need the guns to capture the village.

Red X is my out of ammo marker for the battery.
 End of turn 2, French Brigade under D'Erlon begins skirmishing with the Dutch forces on the outskirts of Quatre Bras.  The sounds of battle begin to escalate and Ney attaches to a Brigade to get extra reinforcements up to the town ASAP.

The Corps Commander's fight!  Getting these brigades into position and placing his artillery!

Cavalry having a tough time getting around Gemioncourt and my French Brigades are still shaking out to get at the Dutch.
 The French spend an order on resupplying the Battery and the artillery is ready for action now.

I dither for a few turns and just am not getting the orders to do what I need to do.  Meanwhile my Brigades are starting to get into trouble with the Dutch.  This has to stop and soon!  Beginning of Turn 6, the Dutch under Wellington's command steal the initiative from the French so in a sense, get 2 turns back-to-back.  It couldn't have come at a worse time!

Turn 6  Wellington steals the initiative away from Ney.

My Brigades getting "stuck in" while the Artillery just watches...
Lower left Brigade has 6 hits and is in trouble.  Alex is doing a great job of keeping them at bay.  Some good shooting drives off the Dutch Artillery Battery!  At least something goes the French's way!

Some hard shooting from the center Brigade knocks out the Dutch Artillery.  Thank heavens!

Ney heads back and grabs the artillery commander to get up into the fight.
 Heavy combat on the French left as a Brigade under D'Erlon melts away from solid Dutch shooting.  One facet of ONE HOUR GRAND TACTICAL is your shooting strength never diminishes even if your physical strength does.  Physical strength points are extremely important in melee and for the overall health of the force but brigades will mostly be able to issue fires well.

The left-most brigade is about to be annihilated.
 My center brigade goes in, in support.  The "good" news about the left most brigade being destroyed is it opens up a fire lane for my battery to shoot.  They whittle down the Dutch even more and my center brigade close assaults.  Timing in ONE HOUR GRAND TACTICAL is up to you with the more loose sequence of play.

You are sequencing things, so staff work is important!  Alex and I noted that we were constantly making decisions about the main effort and centers of gravity.

Center Brigade goes into the attack with artillery firing in support.  It's gratifying progress but I'm not where I need to be and Alex's reinforcements (the British) are almost here.

The Dutch scatter!

You would be forgiven for thinking things were going the French way right now.
  There are 2 French Brigades in the vicinity of the crossroads with a Dutch Brigade stubbornly hanging on.  My Cavalry is quickly approaching from their flank march, also.  In ONE HOUR GRAND TACTICAL, you can "MARCH" your units and add an additional D6 of movement.  Alex and I discussed at-length the ramifications this would have for units and the outcome of the game, especially regarding the "cost" of marching.
Finishing off the Dutch - or at least trying to.
 At this point, with no "fresh" Brigades in sight, I throw in the Guard!  [click here to watch the video]  Truth be told, I should have committed them right away, but I kept them in an operational reserve.

Guard in the lower-center of picture moving up.
 Alex's reinforcements march in in the form of the British cavalry and the Rifles.  Alex positions them very well to take advantage of cover and still threaten the lead French Brigades.  They're a great covering force while the British units get into position.  It was great to see you making "real" decisions about the timing and deployment of units IE screening forces, fire lanes and battery deployments.

The Guard marching up the road

The fight at the crossroads heats up.  We can still win this thing!

Alot resting on the shoulders of the troops at the Crossroads now!  The Cavalry is almost spent (they get 5 points) and the infantry, too.  
 It's SUPER important to note here that I totally forgot about writing in the RALLY order.  Which I most certainly used during the Talavera game.

 If a Brigade rolls a 4+ on a 1D6, they may rally off 1 hit.  If they roll a "6" they rally off 2 hits.  It's a vital order and can keep your units in the fight much longer.  Alex asked the question as the Dutch brigade withered assault after assault.  I'm embarrassed that I forgot it!!!  Alex starts rallying off the Dutch hits as the British get into position behind them.  Attached commanders lend a +1 to the rally, also.

Try as they might, the French were never able to winkle out that Dutch unit.

And just like that, there were more French regulars in the fight!

 Turn 9 I roll a "6" for initiative and I know this is it!  I've captured the initiative!  It's all good unless Alex rolls a 6....

Alex rolls a 6, too.  The British still have the initiative for this turn.
 The only hope now rests on my Guard and the artillery to punch through.  The Guard is charged by the impetuous British cavalry! [click to watch the video here]

British line units under Picton move into position.

Wellington moves to rally the Dutch.  I never could rid myself of this Brigade!

Wellington spends the rest of this battle rallying the Dutch, who gave a good account of themselves.

 Alex wins by a comfortable margin with all of my French units wiped out.  In retrospect, I should have moved in a more concerted and supportive manner.  I left my artillery behind which was foolhardy.  Additionally, the Cavalry should have been closer to the action directly behind the advancing infantry and artillery.

We switch sides and play a second time and Alex uses this exact same strategy keeping the infantry mutually supporting.  He also wisely uses his Cavalry to screen the advance.  In ONE HOUR GRAND TACTICAL, re-positioning a Brigade, pivoting in wargame terms, eats up half of your movement.  Alex chose to speed his Brigades into position and to protect their flanks, used his Cavalry to guard the road on which the British would show up.  It's a great move and it takes me a long time to knock that Cavalry unit out of position.

Alex taking over as Ney.  I'm on my way to Paris to meet the guillotine.  
During these 2 x games, we codified the role of the commanders and the mechanics of how they function on the battlefield, which is more as markers than as units.  They bestow a free order onto any unit they are with, as well as a modifier when rallying.

The fire combat aspect works very well, and I believe the close combat / assault aspect also works very well.  Scenario-dependent, most infantry brigades will be allowed to fire 1 "skirmish die" at 2 base widths, and 3 "volley dice" at 1 base width.  In honesty, your most valuable tool are your infantry brigades, who assault with great power if you've conserved them well enough.  They can run out of steam quickly, though, so combat power needs to be shepherded for the decisive blow.  Most infantry brigades will start a battle with 7 strength points and if going into assault at full strength will assault with 7 dice!  That's very powerful.

Artillery is potent and very powerful but cannot be unsupported with only 3 strength points, as they can be driven off by a single brigade or skirmisher detachment easily.  Cavalry, too, should be used appropriately as they only have 5 strength points.  Cavalry is blown rather quickly after a charge and so they should be committed to assaulting to break through an already weak unit.

Alex and I didn't play with GO STATIONARY but we did "try" it as an experiment and it would have been lethal on the attacker.  So GO STATIONARY is a useful tool for holding a position as well.  It enables you as the defender to fire a 3 dice volley at the enemy prior to close combat even starting.  If you roll well, this could be a huge boon to your defense and might just turn the tide in the combat.  It also makes rooting out troops in cover that much tougher as the attacker loses a die against units in cover.  Make sure you have the artillery when assaulting troops in cover...

Additionally, we discussed the MARCH order at great length.  If using a MARCH order, your brigade is sacrificing safety in the interest of speed and it will take a turn to "reform" into combat formations.  Some units will be better than others at this (IE French over 1806 Prussians).  Units utilizing a MARCH order cannot enter into combat on the turn they march.  Still working out the particulars of this, but as-played it gave Alex and I much flexibility on the tabletop.

These games showed some great strengths and nuances of the rules and we will definitely play them again.  I feel they should work well within the confines of Neil Thomas' scenarios, as well as for "open" play, however with some adjustments for orders if using a historical OOB.  There could even be more commanders / Aides markers on the table to enable even more flexibility.

Many readers have commented on a small, fixed number of orders based on the commander's talents and abilities.  So perhaps a solid French commander rates 2+1D6 for orders, while the Prince of Orange only rates 1D6.  Personally I love this especially for adding flavor to an order of battle.

The game gave a great time and I can't wait to play it again.  Already looking forward to applying it to more linear, 18th century games especially the Seven Years War and the American War for Independence.  Alex timed our second game and despite a small intrusion from rain, we were pretty much at 1 solid hour to play out the entire game.  Mission accomplished!

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to go paint Orcs!

Friday, October 19, 2018


0.0 Grey Areas.  Define in “either/or” terms and resolve with a friendly roll off in the winner’s favor.
0.1 Pre-measuring.  Allowed any time. Scale. 1” is 50y. A turn is about 15-30 minutes of In/Action.
0.2 Units.  There are four types of Units, representing typical formations.
  1. Infantry. A brigade of about 3-4,000 close-order Foot with muskets/bayonets using firepower to confront the enemy; bayonets mostly defensive. Attached Guns are included, adding firepower at all ranges. Light foot screen the brigade at a distance from the enemy, inflicting casualties and confusion.
  2. Lights. A battalion of about 400 light Foot in a dispersed formation for rapid movement even through rough terrain. Their small size and open formation makes their musketry less effective.
  3. Cavalry. A brigade of about 1500 close-order horse who rely upon movement and mêlée to affect the battle. Flank charges are a potent threat. Attached horse guns provide firepower along with screening light Horse that inflict casualties and confusion.
  4. Guns. A massed battalion of 10-15 heavy foot guns with longer Range but less firepower than an infantry brigade. They are screened by attached infantry and baggage guards.
  5. The General. This is a suitably mounted fellow with his staff – but he functions as a marker, not a Unit. Generals are very important in ECtB, as they can attach to a Unit: that Unit always counts as Ordered [regardless of the cost to Order that Unit] and it gets a +1 to Rally. There should be about 1 General for every 6 Units on a side.
0.3 Strength Points. Infantry 7SP, Cavalry 5SP, Artillery or Skirmish Battalion 5SP. Whenever a Unit takes a Hit, mark the loss of a Strength Point. When all SP are gone, the Unit is removed from the game.
0.4 Figures & Basing. Sabots or stands totaling 4x1-2” lines or 3x3” squares, containing stands of Infantry, Cavalry or Guns as appropriate.  Units of multiple small bases fight with front edges and corners aligned.  
0.5 Base Widths. These will be 4” or 3”, and should be consistent with all Units.
0.6 Unit Sides. The Front is measured 45° off the Unit’s two Front corners; this is its Field of Fire and Charge Arc. The Rear, Left and Right Sides are similarly measured: enemy Contacting them get bonus assault dice.
½BW+ of the Target Unit’s closest Side needs to be in the Front Arc to be Fired upon or Assaulted.
0.7 Line of Sight.  LoS is measured from a Firing or Charging Unit's front center point to the center of the closest visible side of the Target Unit Base; Front, Left, Right or Rear.  It is blocked by anything intervening and apparently taller than figure height e.g. hills, woods, towns, and Units [cavalry are the tallest Unit].
  1. A gap ½BW+ wide is needed to trace LoS through.
  2. ½BW+ of a Targeted Unit’s side must be visible and in Firing / Charging Unit’s Front Arc.
  3. Units trace LoS a BW in/out of woods, town, and across hill crest or plateau.  
  4. Units lining the edge of Woods have mutual LoS to/from enemy Units outside the Woods.
  5. Guns on a Hill may trace LoS over intervening Obstacles of notionally lower height that are closer to the guns than the Target Unit; however, they may not fire over friendly Units.
Units must have LoS to Fire or charge enemy Units at the time of the shot or charge.

0.8 TURN SEQUENCE  The game begins per the OHW scenario instructions. The side said to “go first each turn” has the Initiative Turn 1 – but it can change from Turn 2 on. A full turn has four phases:
1. Orders Phase.  Each side rolls a d6; this is the number of Orders the General has. Units within a BW of an enemy Unit cost 2 Orders to be given an Order. Place a d6 next to each Unit to order it for this Turn, showing the Order’s cost, 1 or 2. Place the General with a Unit – it counts as ordered. Units with Orders will be able to select and execute an Action during the Actions Phase, below.
2. Initiative Phase [not Turn 1].  Players roll off a d6; high roll wins and has Initiative; it acts first in Phases 3-4. However, Initiative only switches sides if the Reacting side wins the roll by 2 or more. 
3.a. Initiative Actions Phase. The Side with Initiative performs Actions with all Ordered Units.
3.b. Reacting Actions Phase. The Side without Initiative does the same. When performing Actions, each player sequentially selects an Ordered Unit, chooses and resolves an Action for it, then repeats this with another Unit until all desired Units with Orders have Acted. Units do not have to perform an Action. Action choices are:  Bombardment, Rally, Move, March, Maneuver and Assault.
4.a Initiative Fire Phase. The Side with Initiative Fires with all Units in Range.
4.b Reacting Fire Phase. The Side without Initiative does the same.
5. Remove Units and Orders. Units that have lost all their Hits are removed, including any attached Generals. Return any Generals that were removed last turn. Remove unused Orders.
3.i. Bombardment. This Action is performed by Guns only and allows them to Fire [4].
3.ii Rally. Units remove Hits by rolling a d6 and regaining: 1 Hit on a 4+ or 2 Hits on a 6+. Add 1 to the die roll if in Cover or General is attached. Units may not rally to less than 1 Hit, i.e. the first Hit is permanent.
3.iii. Movement. Units may use an Order to perform a Move, March, Maneuver or Assault Action. Move and March are a straight line forward on the table up to the rolled distance listed below during their turn:
Unit Type Move March1 Notes
Infantry, Guns, BW +1D6” +1D6 Foot. Guns may not Fire if they Move.
Lights BW +1D6” +1D6 Foot
Cavalry BW +2D6” +1D6 Horse
General 12” during the Orders Phase.
1 Units may neither Fire nor move within 1BW of enemy Units while using a March Action.
3.iv. Maneuver is a straight  BW move in any direction, ending facing any direction.
  a. Turns. A free 180° Turn is permitted at the start of a Move or March for Infantry and Guns. Lights and Cavalry may Turn at the start or end of the Move. Pivot the unit on its center point. Make the Turn before you roll movement dice!
  b. Interpenetration. Only Skirmish Units may pass thru; the moving Skirmish Unit must clear the other.
  c. Terrain affects Unit movements follows:
  1. Towns. Gives Cover. Only Infantry and Lights may end their move in a Town.
  2. Woods. Gives Cover. Lights move thru w’no Penalty – others move at half speed OR Turn.
  3. Lakes, Marsh, and the Board Edge are impassible to all Units.
  4. Rivers are impassible, but may be crossed at a Ford or Bridge.
  5. Roads grant unlimited turns and a BW move bonus if a unit spends its entire move on the road.
3.iv. Assault Moves occur when one Phasing Unit uses a Move Action to Base Contact one Target Unit. The Assaulter stops upon contact without further alignment moves. Assault movement restrictions:
  1. The Defender’s Side Arc in which the Assaulter begins the Action is the only one it may contact.
  2. One Turn up to 45° may be made at the Assault’s start; it must align center-center on the Target’s Side under attack.
  3. Guns and Lights may not Assault.
  d. Assaulted Guns are Removed immediately.
  e. Ordered Guns Assaulted from their Front Arc Fire once at Close Range before Removal.
  f. Resolve Assaults immediately, before going on to the next Action. Both Units inflict Hits during the Assault by rolling d6 equal to their remaining Strength Points, modified as Follows:
  1. Cover. Defenders in Towns, Hills, at River Crossings etc. cause Attacker to lose 1d6
  2. Charging gives Cavalry bonus 1d6
  3. Orders. A Unit with an unused Order may spend the Order to Defend and either Fire at 1BW Range before the Assault is resolved, OR get a bonus 1d6 during the Assault resolution
  4. Flank or Rear give Assaulter a bonus 1d6 when touching those sides.
  5. Hits are inflicted by rolling the final modified number of d6 for the Following Target Numbers:
  • Cavalry 3+   Infantry 4+ Lights 5+
  1. Winner is the side inflicting the most Hits. Defender wins Ties.
  2. Assaults end with the loser retreating straight back from the enemy the Hit difference in BW measured from the Point of Contact – Assaulter loses Ties and retreats 1BW.
  • If the retreating Unit’s path crosses other Units, terrain etc, it takes a Hit for each one.
  • If it retreats into impassible terrain it is eliminated.
  • If it ends its move on any Unit, move it to the closest open space in which it fits.
           Winning Assaulters may either move one BW straight ahead or Turn up to 180.
4.i. Skirmish Fire. All Units have the ability to Skirmish Fire. It has a 360° Arc, 2BW Range, and gets one unmodified d6 for a 4+. It must use the Priority Target rule, below. Marching Units may not Skirmish Fire.
4.ii. Fire is permitted for Guns with Bombardment Orders and all other Units unless they Marched.
  a. Fire Arc is 45° Arc off the Front corners.
  b. Priority Targets are those within the Front Arc and must be chosen over Targets in any other Side’s Arc. Units may freely choose between Targets that are at the same Range, however.
  c. Infantry Fire is 1BW Range with 3d6.
  d. Artillery Fire is 2 BW Range - 3D6, 4 BW Range - 2d6, 8 BW Range - 1d6.
  e. Fire dice modifiers. The firing Unit may get more or less dice on the shot:
  • Cover. Firing at Units in cover is -1d6 penalty
  • Flank or Rear. Firing at these Sides gives bonus 1d6
  • Order. An order dice may be used as a bonus 1d6.
  f. Hits are inflicted by rolling the final modified number of d6 for the following Target Numbers:
  • Artillery 3+
  • Infantry 4+
  • Lights 5+
  g. Withdraw! Units that take 3+ Hits from one Fire Action immediately retreat 1BW, as in Assaults.
Hills are considered to be relatively gentle slopes, so provide an advantage defending from Assaults but not from shooting, especially when considering the plunging arcs of the incoming missiles.
Units that took Hits equal to their Strength Points are removed from the table at this point. Remove unused Orders. Attach any Generals that were removed last turn to a Unit [they’ve lost a Turn].
Units receive Hits through combat in the game without reduction in firing ability until they have lost all their Hits and are removed. This reflects a model of fighting whereby casualties are actually relatively low as a percent of personnel, but morale and fatigue are acquired until the Unit routs.
Resupply Guns. Guns no longer need an order to Bombard. Instead, roll a d6 and on a ‘1’ they need to choose this Order before they can Fire again.
Defend! Units may spend an Order to Fire in opposing  Actions Phase of this Turn, at the end of any Unit’s Action.
Forts/Works. These are Towns in which Guns may also end a Move.
Limbers. Place these or a dust cloud next to Guns that have Moved to show they cannot Fire.
Horse Gun Batteries may Maneuver and Fire.
Limited Skirmishers. The Unit may only Skirmish Fire at 1BW Range.
Light Rifles. The Unit may re-roll a miss with its Skirmish Dice.
Militia. The Brigade may only Turn by Maneuvering.
Impetuous. The Unit Always advances a BW if it wins an Assault instead of Turning.
Medium Battery. These Guns hit on a 4+ instead of a 3+.
Low Supplies. The Unit Fires with a Target Number one worse.
Resolute Steady. The Unit receives a Bonus 1d6 during Assault Resolution when Assaulted.
Stubborn. The Unit receives a +1 to the Rally d6 even if not in Cover or having a General attached.
Division General. The Division General acts as a Bonus General, guaranteeing a simultaneous advance of three units.
Cuirassiers. Unit gets a bonus d6 against other Cavalry Units.
Guard. The Unit gets a +1 to Rally. This may be in addition to the +1 for Cover or the General attached.
Excellent Staff. General can save one Order on an orders roll of 5, two on a 6. They may be used any Orders Phase.
Sluggish. This Unit may only Turn on a Move at the end of the Move, not at the beginning.
Veterans. This Unit may be assigned a second Order but must use both this Turn as usual.