Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wargaming Economics.

I am currently about to embark on an Imagi-Nation project, I wanted to do a period I had never visited before, so when Warlord Games announced the impending release of the 'Marlborough Starter Army' these sculpts are the former Wargames Factory figures, I took the plunge and pre-ordered two boxes.

I saw it as a reasonably cheap way to build up two armies. You can see for yourself just what comes in the box which is priced at £85 on the Warlord site, no doubt it will appear cheaper elsewhere soon.
Counting each figure, I counted rider and horse as one, plus the cannon as a single figure also, you get a total of 126 figures in the box.

That works out at 67 pence per figure, which for 28mm is very acceptable.

They are also producing box sets of single foot regiments, these are priced at £16 which equates to 66 pence a figure for infantry.

The cavalry come in at £20 giving £1.66 per mounted figure.

Finally, also £20 is the artillery, containing three guns, twelve crew and three mounted officers. This comes out at £1.11 per figure.

Of course, Warlord offer multi-buy deals, an infantry brigade of three standard boxes will set you back £45 instead of £48 if bought individually. The cost per figure being 62.5p. A cavalry brigade of two boxes is £36 instead of £40 giving £1.50 a figure. Finally, a battery of artillery consisting of two boxes comes in at £36 again instead of £40 if bought individually. At a cost of £1 a figure.

Using the above multi deals were possible I worked out that to recreate a starter box set would cost:
Infantry brigade deal £45 plus one single box £16 = £61 (96 infantry figures)
Cavalry box £20
Artillery box £20

A total of £101

So as to be expected, the starter box gives better value, being saving you £16, which of course you will probably end up spending on an extra box of infantry.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tabletop Battles, Campaigns and Imagi-nations.

Many who read my scribbles on this, and my own blog, will be aware of how much I like to have a back story for the action occurring on the tabletop. For me, it makes the game come alive, many of the figures, represent real historical characters and the battles are often my attempt to recreate what happened hundreds of years, or more, ago.

Taking researched Orders of Battle, and recreating the forces, is to me, as much an enjoyable part of the game, as actually fighting out the battle with the tiny troops.

An artillery piece selects a target during the English Civil War.

A supply column passes through a sleepy village.

However, if the battle is part of a campaign, then the enjoyment and tension is even greater. For whatever happens in this battle, may well have dire consequences to the defeated army. Can they continue to hold back the victors? Are there enough new recruits to fill the gaps in the ranks? Can this area of land be relinquished to the enemy, without to much harm being done? The questions and of course the answers, are many and varied.

Mustering of the Union Army of the Potomac.

Major battles, skirmishes, sieges and tactical withdrawals, will all be part of the campaign. Uneven forces will likely be facing off against one another. Reinforcements may be half a days march away. Will they arrive in time to affect the battle, to crush the enemy or save the day?

The arrival of friendly brigade on the enemy's flank, or the dismay of realising your force is now cut off and surrounded. Having to commit untried units in a battle that has to be won, the very survival of your nation, hangs in the balance.

A brigade v brigade action during the American Civil War.

I. for a long time, have wanted to fight 'Jackson in the Valley' a Civil War affair in the Shenandoah Valley. A hugely outnumbered Confederate force, trying to cause mischief, and force the Union to commit troops to either defeating Jackson, or at least driving him out of the valley. Troops that would otherwise have been committed to the Peninsular Campaign aimed at Richmond.

A campaign I intend to play out in the near future.

Small sized units for use in an English Civil War game on a very tiny table.

Then of course, you can create totally fictional nations, fighting to control, a yet to be mapped, continent. Those ECW troops above, could just as easily be part of the army of 'Duke Theodore of the Duchy of Balsanova.'

Any period of history, or for that matter, fantasy or the future, could just as easily be used to form your own Imagi-nations. Use an existing map, and simply rename the countries and cities at your leisure, even redraw borders!

Baron von Waldeck's men advance into the wastelands of Bultania, intent on destroying the Orcs of King Zolten.

These familiar blue and grey clad warriors, could just as easily be fighting in Ireland or New Zealand, or anywhere else on this, or any other globe you so choose.

Fighting wars costs money, the more land you control, the more taxes for your coffers. Soldiers need to be paid and fed, not to mention armed. All these factors can be built into a campaign game.

Regiments of Sligo and Limerick face off across a field in County Kerry?

I hope that has given you some food for thought.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Short Primer on 'Figure Scale'

           A set of rules often states a few different scales. For instance, there may be a stated time scale, and/or a ground scale, as well as a figure scale. Many sets of rules are vague on these various scales and simply leave it to the players themselves to determine these – if such ever becomes important in a battle. It does help players to convert orders of battle for use in scenarios, and also helps in better understanding just what is going on during a battle. Of course, not all players are interested in such details, being more concerned with the ‘game’.

              Let’s take a look at figure scale.

A set of rules like General de Brigade, or British Grenadier, states a figure scale of 1:20 – or, each model soldier represents about 20 actual men. This allows me to convert historical unit sizes over to the appropriate number of models on the tabletop. For example, if a unit was about 300 actual men, this would convert to 15 model soldiers.

How does this affect play during a game?

·         When playing with a set of rules like General de Brigade, the figure scale determines how I base my models. For instance, a single base of four infantry models represents 80 actual men, or about one - two historical companies. This is quite convenient as during the 18th-century companies were normally grouped into multi-company units called ‘grand divisions’ of two companies in strength. Such a larger formation would march about paying close attention to its position within the battalion formation it was part of.

·         When it comes to combat, whenever a unit fires its muskets at an enemy, the player counts up the number of ‘models’ firing, rolls his dice, applies some modifiers, and consults a results table based again on the number of models firing. This is different than rules such as Black Powder that ignore the detail of counting up the number of models altogether. Melee combat is handled similarly.

·         When a unit takes casualties, one effect is often the loss of models. For instance, a unit that is fired upon may end up taking two model casualties. This results in two models being removed from the targeted unit, thus reducing its effectiveness later in the battle.

       So, there you go. I hope that helps some in understanding what ‘figure scale’ is all about. Figure scale may indeed be a new concept to those just getting into the hobby of miniatures wargaming, but the idea is quite simple to understand. As many rules sets today skip past such detail, or handle it in a different way – as in Black Powder.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reposition, rethink, rescale & refight.

It is all part of the fun and learning process, but just sometimes, we, or at least I, try to squeeze a quart into a pint pot, with the inevitable result. Those of you with good eyes and memory, will notice in the photographs below, that I have slid the whole battlefield about five or six inches to the north west (top left corner).

The reasoning behind this, was to allow some of the Union III Corps, to actually get onto the table. It was whilst placing these brigades, mostly made up of six infantry regiments and a battery of artillery, that the alarm bells started to ring. You can see five of General Sickles, six brigades are now on the table in the south east corner.

As I stood and looked at my handiwork, I realised the units looked more like a football crowd, than a scene from a battle. Using a base to represent every regiment in each brigade, simply was not going to work, bearing in mind that as well as Sickles final brigade, the whole of Reynold's I Corp, which is half as large again, as III Corps, has still to arrive!

No this simply was not going to work on my small table. 8 x 4 or 8 x 6 feet, yes, but on a little over 4 x 3 feet, I was attempting too much.

I thus have a number of options.

(a) Reduce the number of regiments in each brigade by half (rounding up for odd numbers). This would still allow me to use the activation cards I created. However, this will still quickly fill up the available space, and continue to give the appearance of that football crowd.

(b) Reduce the number of regiments in each brigade to one third, so six becomes two etc. It will still allow the use of the brigade activation cards, as well as giving far more space on the table.

(c) Simply adopt the Blucher method, one base represents one brigade, forget the activation cards, and revert to the I go You go, momentum method.

My personal choice would be option (b), but as I have been posting this in the Tabletop Commanders Blog, and lots of you are reading it, I thought I would see what you guys and gals would prefer. Feel free to offer any other options you may think of too.

The battle will hopefully be fought over the weekend, and as I found my box of trees and split fencing, I can slightly remodel the battlefield.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Battle of Crow Hill - Part Two

For the first turn only I will show each brigade activation card, after that, I will just show the movement/firing etc, of each unit. I had some good feed back from Part One of this article, suggesting cards to allow a unit to possibly activate twice in one game turn. To achieve this I shall add two more cards, each giving the opportunity to activate one brigade, even if it has already activated this turn, for each side.

A slight problem, that quickly became apparent, was the small deployment area available to the Union. I am going to get out of this by placing the brigade marker on the table if it activates, and then as soon as room becomes available, they will automatically deploy, without a further activation. The reasoning behind this, is a full Corps would be tailed back a few miles along the road, all the troops, guns, limbers and supply wagons. They would not all instantly appear on the field, so the onus will be on the Union to push the Confederates back to make room!

First card is drawn.

3rd Brigade of 1st Division, deploys on and at each side of the road.

A view from behind the newly arrived troops.

Armistead's Brigade are not able to fire, and certainly do not wish to move off the hill, so no action.

1st Brigade of Second Division are halted on the road.

No room to deploy, so their marker is placed on the road to show that unit has activated.

The cavalry brigade with its attached horse artillery, move to possibly set up on the flank of the Union Brigade.

Now with orders filtering back down the Union line, the Brigade commanders order their men off the road and through the countryside to take up attack positions.

2nd Brigade of 2nd Division (I spotted and corrected the label error) are able to form up on the left flank of the Union line.

2nd Brigade of 1st Division are still stuck on the road but are activated and their unit marker placed in position on the road. At this point, brigades or different divisions, are becoming intermingled, this is of course due to the random nature of cards being drawn, but in a meeting engagement like this, you could imagine orders and counter-orders being given to brigades, and the utter confusion behind the forward troops.

The next activation, once again Union, allows 3rd brigade of 2nd Division to take its place, its identification marker teetering on the edge of the table.

End of turn card. The only two rebel brigades that were in a position to fire artillery, never activated.

Turn Two.

1st Brig, 2nd Div. advance.

Hampton's horse artillery deploy and fire on the right most Union regiment.

In the south, 2nd Brig, 2nd Div, begin to take casualties but continue their advance.

3rd Brig, 1st Div, engage with artillery fire and also move onto the attack, entering the wheat field. The remainder of the brigade advance in attack column on the left.

Kemper's Brigade open fire at skirmish range and also with their artillery.

A hit on the Union battery puts it temporarily out of action.

End of turn shots from various angles.

Soldier's eye view.

Turn Three.

3rd Brig, 1st Div, send off a volley.

One Confederate unit takes casualties.

In the south, 2nd Brig, 2nd Division also unleash a volley.

Kemper's Brigade taking hits.

End of turn positions.

Turn Four.

The firefight really begins to get brutal now, with most brigades activating this turn.

 Garnett's Brigade score hits on the Union troops trying to cross the wheat field.

The unfortunate flank regiment, once again takes hits from the horse artillery and also from a regiment of cavalry who charged, fired pistols and retired.

Casualties mount on both sides.

End of turn positions.

The scene below for the occupants of Crow Hill.

The Confederate commander is quietly confident at the moment, his men are holding the enemy, though he knows it is only a matter of time before more Union soldiers appear.

So the battle rages, still not all of Sickles III Corps, are even on the field yet, and from turn five on, the chance of Reynold's Corps. arriving from the east or south west, will increase with each turn.