Sunday, April 26, 2020

Neil Thomas "Napoleonic Wargaming" Rules for Seven Years War?

One of the distinct trends I've noticed after lurking on the Neil Thomas Rules page on facebook is a question posed more than a few times about using the NT Napoleonic rules for battles set during the Seven Years War (SYW).  Heresy, you ask?  Not really.  

Mr Thomas has already answered your questions, and the good news is that they're in the Army Lists section of the Napoleonic Wargaming book.  With a few minor adjustments to the rules (recommended by Neil himself in the Napoleonic Wargaming book), you can slug it out 18th Century style until your heart is content.

Go from this....
To This! 
(I made this photo from the cover of the NT Napoleonic Wargaming book.  This is not a real title.  No challenge to Mr Thomas intended.  Used without permission, etc etc etc.
I've posted a few times on the page usually to no comment but one of the tick-off boxes on my blog goals this year was to post the conversions and instructions on how to run 18th Century battles using the Napoleonic rules from the book.  First of all, let's properly cite our sources so we don't get in trouble:

Looking in the Chapter entitled "Napoleonic Wargames Armies" p 105, you will find Army lists for almost every major theater of the Napoleonic wars, including early Republican wars (ca 1792).  One of the key characteristics of armies in those battles were that they were organized along the lines of the "ancien regimes" and fighting linear battles similar to the Prussians and Austrians of 40 years earlier.  In fact one of the key detriments to Prussia, Saxony, and Austria in the early Napoleonic wars was their tendency to cling to linear doctrine.  

So imagine my surprise when I happened across page 111 in the "Napoelonic Wargaming" book!  

There are rules for fighting an "Old Regime Army" from 1792-1806, along with special rules to use to make this army, be it Austrian, Prussian, Saxon, etc, a model of a smaller, linear force from a half century previous.  Reading over the suggestions and special rules, it makes fighting an SYW totally plausible.  

Those rules follow, and if you dont have Napoleonic Wargaming (you should buy it if you don't), you can use the Napoleonic rules from "Wargaming: An Introduction" by Mr Thomas and you'll get more or less the same effect.

  • The special rule "linear tactics" is especially important - which doesn't allow a unit to use an assault column.  Therefore the only formations allowed are line and columns.  I don't allow squares, either.
  • Armies are limited to 1 artillery battery, and all artillery hits on a 5-6 now.
  • There is also a cool rule in there called "Small is beautiful" where armies may only be composed of 6 units, and given the highly disciplined and trained manner of 18th century troops, you do not have to take a morale test when the first stand is lost.
There is guidance for army composition and it has a decidedly SYW flavor to it, allowing up to 7 infantry units, 1 single elite grenadier unit, 1 artillery unit, and a fixed number of heavy and light cavalry units.  the light cavalry have carbines which is great and period appropriate.

I also plan to add some flavorful rules for Prussian drill, Austrian stubbornness, and commanders.  I also intend to keep light units fighting as light battalions.

My plan is to test the rules out in a SYW battle on my table, possible using a scenario from the One Hour Wargames book, but forces picked from the Ancien Regime Army in Napoleonic Wargaming.  Stay tuned!

Monday, April 20, 2020


 Yesterday afternoon I finally got my new 10mm Seven Years War troopers into the fight and played one of my favorite "grand tactical" rules "Eagles Cheaper Than Brain Cells" or more commonly called "Eagles" by folks who play it.  "Folks who play it" literally being Alex and I...  You can do a quick search on my blog for the rules as I have a tag (at the bottom) that should bring up the other games we've played.  All of them were nail biters and all of them were chock full of grand tactical decision making, resource management, and see saw combats.

Prussian Battle-line
Originally meant to be a Napoleonic game set at the level of Volley and Bayonet, Grande Armee, or Blucher, Eagles was an idea for a grand tactical "spin" on Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames.  Alex and I played a bunch of Napoleonic games of Eagles and you can check them out and play them by going here. or download them here.  They work perfectly well with the One Hour Wargames scenarios.

Austrian Battleline!
Given the largely abstract level of Eagles, it wasn't hard to come up with a Seven Years War version of the rules with very minor changes which I'll discuss in the batrep.

The scenario is simple.  The Prussians must seize the town in front of them and hold it.  The Austrians must negotiate their forces around a number of forest terrain features and capture the town from the Prussians.

Town to the front.  The blue dice are orders distributed after rolling 1D6 for orders for Prussians.  
 One of the neat things about Eagles is you distribute your orders BEFORE you roll initiative, and so you may not get to execute the orders the way you think you will.  There is also a cool mechanism where if you do NOT have the initiative but have an order, you may be able to use that order to react to a charge (defend or countercharge cavalry).
Prussians move out to seize the town.  Dragoon unit moves out to the right to engage the Austrian dragoons!

draw your sabers!
I experimented with an order where if a commander is touching as are multiple stands, they could all advance or move with a single order.  It worked ok.  More on that later.

Prussians approaching the town.

The Austrians are constricted by the woods to get to the town!  
 One of the SYW mods Alex came up with was "plodding" units can only turn after their move.  This severely restricted teh Austrians but it felt very realistic.  It makes deployment extremely important.
Austrian Cavalry going out to meet the Prussians
The battle unfolds!  The Prussians seize the town and the Austrian and Prussian cavalry clash on the right!

Prussian vrs Austrian dragoon.  Both units have 3 hits going into this combat.  The Austrians (yellow dice) score 2 hits, the Prussians 4.

Austrian dragoons evaporate!
Add caption
The artillery's only time to shine, they would go "out of ammo" on their first bombardment needing a resupply order, only to be overrun by Austrian infantry.  The shame!

The second Prussian dragoon unit assaults the Austrian dragoons behind them but the Austrians counter charge (a "defend" order but for cavalry)

Situation on turn 5.  The Austrian cuirassier are preparing to charge the blown Prussian dragoons
On the left, the Austrians mass against the town.  Since I'm not using oblique movement now the Austrians will have a tough time maneuvering to get at the town!
 Enforcing the "plodding" trait on the Austrians, they have a very hard time positioning themselves to assault.  The Prussians did not suffer from plodding, and could turn at the beginning of their move.  I also did not allow interpenetration which was another huge restriction on the infantry forces.  In the napoleonic game, interpenetration is completely allowed providing the moving unit has enough movement to clear the non moving unit.

damn those troops look good!

Prussians defending the town

2 Prussian regiments fire against an Austrian Regiment maneuvering to their front.  100% effect all hits

Austrian regiment melts away

Austrian cuirassier wipe out the remaining Prussian dragoon unit

Note the Austrian Regiment who clawed their way into the line.  Is it enough?  The remaining Austrian unit on the left is also wiped out from fire, bringing the game to a close.
This was a fun and quick game and only makes me want to paint up more of these single-based SYW unit.  In addition to Eagles, I'd very much like to try Black Powder and Honours of War with these units.  Stay tuned!  Perhaps I can convince Alex to work on a "Battalion level" version of Eagles where a unit is a battalion!  Imagine the possibilities! 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Neil Thomas WWII Eastern Front Battle: Wargaming an Introduction

After posting some modifications to Neil Thomas' WWII rules from his "Wargaming: An Introduction" book a few weeks ago, I thought I'd put some troops on the table and try the mods out with a bigger force.  I also wanted to see if I could "dress up" a table for 6mm and make it look nice.  Hopefully I achieved that!

3 Objectives here - the town, the gardens (hopefully that is obvious) and the cocked field north of the town.
I used the force builder from the army lists in the book with the German list coming from 1944 and the Soviet list coming from the 1943 list.  I played the "frontal assault" scenario, which pits 12 attacking units against 6 defending units.  I forgot to dig in 1D3 defending Germans, so the Germans really had a tough time...

Soviet Attackers

3 Tank Rider Rifle Squads
4 T-34/76 AFV
4 Infantry Squads Dismounted
1 HMG Section
2 x Barrages

German Defenders

2 Panzer IV
3 Rifle Squads w/ MG42s (4 attack dice vrs 3 attack dice)
1 HMG Section
1 AT Gun
2 x Barrages*

*I didn't count either of the barrages as units in this case and I counted the German AT gun and HMG section as 1 combined unit.  Also, German squads have Panzerfausts - super deadly for tanks.
Soviet armor platoon on the right w/tank riders.  Soviet infantry platoon on the left with HMG and a tank in support.

The Soviets start 30cm into the table at start, and the Germans may start up to 60cm into the table.  In true solo wargaming fashion, I came up with the Soviet plan and the German plan looking at a map of the terrain.  The Soviets decided on a broad advance, using the open valley between the woods for their armor and tank riders.  The goal is to assault and capture the gardens.  Their infantry will slog through the woods and take the bordered fields.  This will give them more cover on their way in.  Pretty obvious plan.  If you're the defender though, it's not so easy to plan against.
Panzer IV in the gardens with an infantry squad.  I opted to take all "regulars" instead of the second rate infantry.  Damned HJ and Volksturm!!!

Peering through his fieldglasses, Hauptman Wetzel sees the telltale black puffs of diesel exhaust and the green blobs of T-34s.  "We had better win this one.  If the Russians don't kill us, the SS might."
The Germans have a crucial decision to make since they don't have alot of forces with which to defend.  Defend up front, or conserve strength for a counterattack.

 I decide to defend up front using their good fields of fire on the left and using firepower and constricted terrain on the right.  They opt to cover the road with the AT gun and an infantry squad.  On the left in the gardens, they'll place the Panzer IVs covering the open fields of fire, along with an infantry squad.

In the town there is the tripod mounted MG42 section and a reserve infantry squad to reinforce and/or counter attack. 

The Soviets split into their assault columns and step off, using the speed of the T-34 to close quickly.  The Soviets use all 24cm of their movement to cross the field and there is no one to call in the waiting 122mm guns from division.

crudely based 6mm tank riding infantry and tanks from a long time ago.  I had planned on rebasing these guys this year!
German AT gun and infantry squad holding the cocked field.  There is a platoon of Soviet infantry and heavy weapons bearing down on them.

Speaking of which...

The German tankers are all experienced and know exactly when to open fire against the Russians.  They've seen it all before.  Peering through their gunsights, they can make out patterns of rust and dust on the glacis of the T-34s.  It's time!  "Achtung, all ghost elements, open fire!"  Wetzel calls for artillery on the lead tank and it lands with devastating accuracy all around the lead T-34, scattering bodies of tank riders all over the place.  The Panzers shoot and one hits the middle T-34, knocking it out.  The Soviet return fire is nasty.  The Germans have given their position away.  "Hauptman, shall we displace?"  "Nein.  Keep shooting.  Don't displace until you've killed those tanks."  Wetzel got greedy.  It was a critical decision...Uncharacteristic of the Soviets, the T-34 platoon stops, turrets seeking out their German enemies...

Panzer 212 on the left is knocked out.  The Soviets cannot call in artillery yet but begin shooting up the garden.  The fire is coming dreadfully close to Panzer 213.  Still, Hauptman Wetzel has them remain in position.

German nerves run out.  Panzer 213 fires and misses its target, unbelievably rolling a 1.  The infantry attempt to inflict as much punishment on the tank riding Soviets as they can.  The Soviets reach the road in front of the gardens.  The Germans can hear them barking orders in Russian even above the staccatto chatter of the DPs and MG42s.  The men prime grenades and ready their entrenching tools, fixing bayonets as well...

The Soviets surge forward, dropping the tank riders as they go.  A fresh squad moves into contact with the Germans who bolt after unleashing a handful of grenades.

Soviets walking into the gardens between 2 x burning panzer IVs.

The Germans beat a hasty retreat out of the garden, and with a -2 on their morale, roll below 1.  They'll be stuck for a turn in the open!
After capturing 1 objective, the Soviets now must also make a decision.  Do they go for a quick victory and secure the village now?  Or do they stick to the plan and take the cocked field as planned?  What would you do?  What do you think the Soviets would do?

Stick to the plan.  The Russians boil out of the woods on the German's right.  The German Pak 40 AT gun opens fire at the T-34 and completely misses every shot, rolling 1 after 1 while the infantry open fire at the squad supporting the AT gun.  Their HMG never even gets into position the entire battle.

Soviet platoon fans out into the fields on the German right.  They open fire as best they can, punishing the lead Russian squad.
 Soviets open fire with the T-34 and numerous infantry squads on the defending German squad in the hopes of softening them up for a ground assault.  The German defense is melting away as the AT gun is knocked out, its prime mover also takes an HE round from a T-34 on the left flank!

Soviets massing to assault.

5 out of 7 casualties on this squad.  It's only a matter of time now.
 Meanwhile on the German left, the stricken squad in the cabbage field regains some of its courage and opens fire on the Soviets bunched up in the garden.  the lead Squad takes a punishing volley and fails its morale and the angry Soviets open fire with 2 other squads.  one of their T-34s gets a little too close to the cabbage field and is knocked out by a panzerschrek.

T-34 burning from a panzerschrek hit.
 The Soviet commissar is furious and orders the platoon forward to assault the cabbage field.  The Soviet squad fans out.  They take more hits from the MG42 position in the village but keep coming.

 Hauptman W knows his time is up.  The only way to keep this battle going and buy time for reinforcements is to re-capture the cocked field.  Instead of breaking contact, he sends the reserve squad forward.  they immediately come under fire by units in the garden.  Knowing what is up, the Soviets are not going to let an errant squad of landsers steal this victory from them.  Their unit has penetrated the furthest into fascist occupied Europe so far!  Nothing will stand in the way of the liberation!

A T-34 crawls into the cocked field to seize it and end the game.  "not so fast, Ivan!"  the reinforcing German reserve squad kills it with a panzerfaust hit! 
The Germans have bought themselves another turn or 2!

Soviets counterattacking from the garden.  Cut them down!
 The Soviets decide to end this game once and for all.  they sweep into the cocked field and overrun the German squad there.  They also knock out the MG42 position in the village which will end the game.
Russians already in the village

The Germans surrender in the field.  Note there is almost an entire Soviet platoon gunning for the cocked field.  In the end, taking out the MG42 in the beige house in the village was what won them the game.
Post Match Thoughts

The modifications worked well and I think sped the game up quite a bit.  Infantry units have fixed shooting, regardless of casualties which moves the game along nicely and is less fiddly.

Talking about the rules themselves and play style, the German plan definitely did not work out as anticipated.  In these rules, tank guns are decidedly lethal among similar classes of tanks (medium tanks) and timing is everything.  These rules really reward aggressive and proper use of combined arms and infantry.  Getting tanks too close to infantry is asking for tanks to be knocked out.  Softening up an infantry position before assaulting it is also critical, as it should be.

I ran into some weirdness with tank riders but I think I figured out how to play with them and target them while they're riding on the tanks.

I think the home grown "special" rules worked well with giving the Germans 4 fire dice instead of 3.  I think having a command stand or FO stand would be nice as well.  There should be command and control rules for the russians a la Crossfire where LOS is necessary to a leader stand to act for centralized armies and I might play with that a bit.

I thought I would enjoy this game in 6mm alot more and my final opinion is, it's much better in 15mm.  I can't explain why that is, but the troops come to life so much more with 15mm stands or bigger on the table for these rules.  I will save the 6mm stuff for Flames of War.

There are some things the rules don't address and i will need to come up with fixes for:

what happens to transported infantry in APCs/halftracks when the APC is knocked out?  What happens to tank riders when the tank is knocked out?  What about trucks?

How many hits does an HMG stand take?  (personally I like Alex's home rule here and will co locate HMGs with an infantry squad as that is much more doctrinally sound)

Am I doing close combat correctly?  That could be a blog post in itself.  also - what happens to an attacking infantry squad that assaults an AFV, rolls all its dice, and doesnt roll a "6".  Does it fall back? 

The answers to these and more hopefully coming soon.

I have to admit, it was fun to have a "proper" wargame for the first time in awhile.  I'm trying to continue this Neil Thomas trend and will have another surprise for you all hopefully soon with a fav, home-modified set of rules I haven't played in awhile.  No idea when I'll be able to post this, but stay tuned and stay healthy!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

April Painting and Terrain WIP

I got home at a "normal" time this evening so I thought I'd post a quick update on what I've been working on in the gaming bunker in between work!  Bear in mind, this work is being done in 15 minute increments in the evening when I can steal a minute.

2 more Austrian Regiments (60 figures) completed for the SYW 10mm project.  The Austrians almost have as many units as their Prussian adversaries now!  Working up Austrian Artillery, another Austrian Cuirassier unit, and some Prussian Grenadiers

8 x Austrian Cuirassiers from RISK pieces!  Not bad!

Prussian and Austrian Generals (4) to lead my 10mm forces!  There are many more coming.

Next up are preparations for a massive GERMANTOWN 1777 game coming up, after all of this covid craziness, of course.  My final AWI units are in the painting queue and I'm finally getting to them after all these years.  First up are the British Guards.  These guys are Old Glory 15mm and they are so much fun to paint!  
I basecoated the white parts grey and am painting over the grey.  It's tedious but i'm hoping will be worth the extra effort.

The whole unit.  I have a total of 2 more British units to complete, and I'll be all done with the British Army for the AWI!  
 One thing that struck me is that you can't have a war in the Americas without lots and lots of fences, stone, and rail.  I embarked on an ambitious project to build more fences for the fields around Germantown in 1777.  Here are some of them awaiting highlighting and flock

fence sections.  I tried mixing a formula for vallejo green grey and it turned out way more green than I liked, even with only 1 drop of the green.  It's fine - I'm not going back now!
I painted up about 10 more sections of a resin stone wall I bought from "game models" about 4 years ago and based and flocked them.  They look good but I am too lazy to fish them out of their containers!  And more for the Germantown project - I have some buildings from JR.

technically a US Civil War house, but I'm going to use it anyways for Germantown.
a small cabin

Anyone gotta go?

The small opportunities I have had to paint have been nice.  I'm hoping to put a good dent into the 10mm SYW project and 15mm AWI project so I can start work back on 10mm Napoleonics as the Good Lord knows there is a ton to get to.  I've also been playing around with table setup to make a nice looking table, at least for 6mm forces.  The following pic is what I came up with so far.  I think it looks nice!