My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blogging from Email

Well, I finally searched the Blogger help section and found what I have been wanting to do for awhile: how to create blog entries from email.

While I am on certain networks - okay, you got me, at work - I cannot access the blogger.com website, which is where you post and edit blogs. (Ironically, I can access the blogspot.com website, which is where you read the blogs. You would think they would not want you reading, more than writing. Go figure.) But, I can access Yahoo mail without a problem. So, now that I can create entries by email, I can post ideas more frequently. (I'll still post battle reports from home, when I can get my spotty connection.)

I hope to get a game of DB-AWI in today, so I have to find the camera so I can do another battle report. I have a lot more AWI troops mounted up, in various stages of completion.

For my bases I typically super-glue the figures to a steel base, add white glue and fine, black volcanic gravel, cover that with artist's matte medium (it partially fills in the cracks between the gravel), paint it brown, dry-brush it two different light shades (yellows, tans, and grays), then put several colors of flock and grass on in patches. I used to not like the patchy look, but I finally tried it and it has grown on me.

My 6mm Napoleonics were done by painting the base a grass green color, flocking completely with a base color, then flocking patches with two or three other colors. Although it looks nice, I like the patchy ground look, described above, better.

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Concept for AWI Formation Order

I know this concept may not be popular, as it requires more figures, but I thought I would pass it out there and see who responds. Given that DBA-type armies are small, I thought it might play...

The more I read, the better the vision of DB-AWI gets in my mind (i.e. I am changing the concept as I figure out how they really fought), and now that I am reading With Bayonet and With Zeal Only I can see that a unit really did not stick in one order (close, loose, open, extended, etc.) from beginning to end in a battle. I really suspected as such, but I thought that it might work keeping a unit in the same order and simplify the game.

However, I am reading of more instances where these changes occurred fairly often - often enough to model - and decided to try and include it in the game. The basic idea is to replace one stand for another. If the unit is in close order, use the stand with four figures; if in loose, use the three figure stand. Granted, this creates two concerns:

1. I need seven figures for a unit! Okay, so maybe this is the Rich Man's Variant of DB-AWI.

2. Where did the other figure go? I don't worry about that; neither should you. The figure count on the stand is an abstraction and a visual marker of the order, nothing more.

Another way to represent this is to take two loose order stands and put one behind the other, representing a doubling of the line density, but this also represents a column. Which is it? In the end, I felt that swapping figures out was better.

Now, how to accomplish it? Same as DBA dismounting: it costs an extra pip to extend or contract, but you can still move afterwards.

Another advantage of this mechanism is that it allows you to differentiate close and loose in Bad Going: don't allow close to go in. So, what you would see is a unit in close order go loose, move through the woods, and then form up on the other side. If you read detailed accounts of Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk's Hill, and such, you will read descriptions of that very sequence every so often. Not just for the British and Hessians, but for the Continentals too. (I have not read about militia doing it, however.)

Tell me what you think.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

DB-AWI: Some Suggestions from Jim

Jim sent me some suggestions for DB-AWI and I thought I would share them, along with my answers, on the blog. These comments concern the latest version of DB-AWI (version 0.6), which is almost ready for update on Google Documents (see my link).

To start, Jim added in pretty much all of the content from the WADBAG guide. I was reluctant to incorporate their text as I hear the WADBAG text irritates PB and I thought the WADBAG people would be irritated in turn. I guess I need to find out who to contact first.

* Four Letter Codes - Jim commented that I should change all of my troop designations from three to four characters. As the fourth character was always "O" (for "Order") I feel it is superfluous, and therefore just takes up too much space in the tables.

* Passing through elements - Jim commented that the Interpenetraing Friendly Troops table is too complicated:

"With the small unit sizes you keep mentioning and I have read about, I think that any LO or OO element can pass through any LO or OO element, in any direction for any reason. The units were very small and in two ranks or maybe three at most. CO were CO for a reason, so no CO element can pass through or be passed through by any element in any direction for any reason."

Sounds like a good idea. I agree that Close-Order cannot pass through anything, but in DBA Psiloi can pass through a Hoplite wall, so shouldn't open-order also?

* Recoiling through elements - Jim comments:

"With the small unit sizes you keep mentioning and I have read about, I think that any LO or OO element can pass through any LO or OO element, in any direction for any reason. The units were very small and in two ranks or maybe three at most. CO were CO for a reason, so no CO element can pass through or be passed through by any element in any direction for any reason."

Recoiling or fleeing through an element is different from passing through, hence a separate table. If you look at the original DBA rules, you will see that Psiloi pass through anything, but Psiloi do NOT recoil through other Psiloi, they push them back. If you think about it, it is not a matter of can they go through, but whether or not the recoiling Psiloi pass through them or push them back. I think it is the latter. OO not being passed through reflect their lack of morale at standing when a unit breaks in front of it.

* Pursuit - Jim's comments:

"I don’t understand this pursuit rule. I think it should be ANY CAVALRY and ONLY CAVALRY must pursue."

In DBA both Knights and Warband pursue recoiling or fleeing elements. In DB-AWI, it is Open-Order Light Cavalry and Shock troops (heavy infantry in close order). Read the commentary of the day and you see that British infantry frequently got out of hand as they charged into close combat and tried to give the Americans "cold steel" (Camden, Guilford Courthouse). The light cavalry also seemed to lose control more when they were spread out, as opposed to formed.

I may change the units to British regulars and elites in close order, Hessian elites in close order, and the British Legion cavalry, but haven't really gotten that far. There was definitely an incident at Videau's Bridge (see my scenario) in which the Patriot Light Cavalry lost control and pursued to their detriment.

* Push Through - Jim's comment was that I forgot to write the actual rule! It appears that I stopped at that section one night and picked up somewhere else the next. The idea is that the light cavalry moves through and ends in rear edge contact with the rear edge of the enemy element it drew in combat with. The problem is writing the rule such that you cover:

** When a element is in contact with the enemy element being pushed through.

** When an element is behind, but not in contact with the enemy element being pushed through, and there is not enough space for the light cavalry element.

The simplest thing might be to cancel the push through and force the cavalry to retreat. What do you think?

Any comments on this, or the rules, would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another DB-AWI Game

I played a modified version of the scenario I listed several entries ago entitled Videau's Bridge, SC: 3 Jan 1782. I say modified, because I am still painting the troops for the scenario and used proxies for some of the units. For others I simply replaced units of one type for another. (Mostly I did not have enough mounted infantry for the Patriots.)

The goal of this game was to:

1. Test out the changes to the Shooting ranges (100 paces for muskets, 200 paces for German Rifles, and 300 paces for American Rifles). I will not be keeping those rules! It radically changes play because units can enter into close combat without taking fire.

2. Removing all of the disorder rules. (See more below on why.) I think I will discard them unless I can think up a better mechanism that does not affect game play in the wrong way.

3. Getting rid of the concept of a Commander non-element. Just decided to make them super, open-order, light cavalry with a bigger base.

4. Tested out the mounted infantry rules. It is still a work in progress.

5. Determine if an all-militia force can stand up to a regular force. (It can.)

The scenario may need more work, but I think it went poorly against the British because the river turned out to be the worst type (#6), they came at the Patriots piecemeal, and could not extricate themselves when things turned against them. I'll have to play it more to ensure it wasn't a fluke.

Sorry, no pictures, because of the large number of proxies with unfinished bases. But, I am merrily re-writing the rules to post on Google Documents.

Removing Disorder

It just goes to show you that some rule mechanisms seem like a good idea on paper, but can have completely unintended effects. The Disorder rules was one of those ideas.

The effect that I was going for was a sort of attritional effect with shooting. By that I mean that shooting would wear down you opponent until they got to the breaking point and then you would go in with the bayonet.

What I was searching for was a gradual degradation from shooting with close combat being decisive. I thought I had achieved that by using lower factors for close combat (it is easier to double your opponent if you use lower factors than higher ones) and creating a disordering effect from fire.

Disorder was a side effect of a recoil or a flee result, requiring your opponent to spend a pip to remove the disorder (the element still got to move and fire, etc. for that pip). Until you did so, that unit remained in disorder and could not move or fire. Not being able to fire (or return fire) means that your opponent has no consequence to firing at you. However, in close combat, they would fight back. The result of that meant that firing was more decisive than close combat, not less.

At first, the games looked exactly like I envisioned: as more units got disordered, more pips were spent recovering from the chaos until you got to the point where the enemy commander consistently gets less pips than they have disordered units. Then you go into close combat. Given the -1 for being disordered, it usually allowed the attacker to defeat or double the disordered defender.

But, it did not always happen. In fact, the disordered element could win. That is when it hit me that disorder made shooting more effective than close combat as the attacker could not be hurt. Granted, the shooter had less chance of doubling their target, but there was no consequence.

In hindsight, making the disordered element unable to hurt the attacker in either fire or close combat would equalize the value. I could get rid of the disorder -1 combat modifier too, as I can see that it makes it a bit of overkill. But, I still hope to get to a game without markers, like DBA.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tightening the Focus of DB-AWI?

One of the things that I have been doing with the rules is playing scenarios that represent smaller actions, for example, Cowpens, Hobkirk's Hill, etc. As I read more and devise scenarios I find my interest goes more towards the Southern Campaign. Naturally, this leads toward lowering the scale of the game more than when gaming the the Philadelphia, New York, Saratoga, or New Jersey campaigns.

Thus, I think more about tightening the focus of DB-AWI to the War in the Carolinas (of which the series Nothing but Blood and Slaughter is an excellent reference) and scaling down to actions with less than 1,000 men per side. Although there is much less hard information on those skirmishes (especially in the area of maps), it has a more "adventure gaming" aspect without getting down into the skirmish gaming weeds.

What does that mean for DB-AWI? Probably a real name for the rules, for one! :) (I have had several sets of rules for the AWI that have borne the name One More Volley.) Also, a change from one element equals one regiment. Definitely an increase in troop types. Other than that, I am not yet sure.

DB-AWI Scenario

Here is the first scenario I am developing for DB-AWI. It is a skirmish from the book Nothing but Blood and Slaughter, The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas, Volume Four: 1782 by Patrick O'Kelley (an excellent series of books, by the way).

Videau's Bridge, SC: 3 Jan 1782

400 (Patriot) SC Militia and a detachment of Maham's Light Dragoons versus 360 British Light Infantry and Grenadiers, NY Volunteers, SC Royalists, Volunteers of Ireland, and Independent Troop of Black Dragoons.

As the British were holed up in Charlestown, SC they started running low on supplies. Major General Alexander Leslie had reports that Marion's partisans were vulnerable and ordered Major William Brereton on a cattle raid and foraging expedition into St. Thomas's Parish.

While the British rested their troops at Brabant Plantation (also known as Smith's Plantation), they posted troops at Videau's Bridge to guard the approaches. The Patriots circled around and came at the bridge from the north. This skirmish took place north of the bridge and consisted of the Patriot advance guard being chased back by the Loyalists until they hit the main Patriot line, who in turn chased the Loyalists back to the main British lines, who in turn stopped the Patriot pursuit, who in turn fled. [whew]

Historically, the British won this, but the casualties were light on both sides.

In DB-AWI terms, the forces are as follows:

Patriots: Commander (Colonel Richardson), one Militia Cavalry element (Maham's Light Dragoons), one Militia Mounted Infantry elements, two Militia Mounted Partisan elements, two Militia Mounted Ranger elements, two Militia Rifle elements, and six Militia Infantry elements. Not counting the Commander element, this comes to 14 elements for a total of 7 points.

British: Commander (Major Brereton), one British Grenadier element, one British Light Infantry element, one Provincial Mounted Infantry element (New York Volunteers), three Provincial Line elements (South Carolina Royalists, three Provincial Line elements (Volunteers of Ireland), two Loyalist Militia Line elements, and one Loyalist Militia Cavalry element (Independent Troop of Black Dragoons). Not counting the Commander element, this comes to 12 elements for a total of 11.5 AP.

Militia Cavalry elements are LOC (by the current definition of the DB-AWI rules).

Mounted Infantry (Loose Order Mounted Infantry or LMI) are elements based like LOC, but dismount to LOI. The combat factors for LOM will be worse than LOC and like LOC, cannot fire. I am still thinking about whether to force a dismount on an outcome move. (Send me an email or comment on the blog if you have any ideas on the subject.)

Mounted Light Infantry (Open Order Mounted Light Infantry or OML) are elements based like OOC, but dismount to OOL. The combat factors for LMI will be worse than OOC.

Mounted Partisans (Open Order Mounted Partisans or OMP) are the same as OML, but they can fire while mounted. Like Rifles, the fire only on their own turn or if returning fire.

Mounted Rangers (Open Order Mounted Rifles or OMR) are elements based like OOC, but dismount to ARI. The combat factors for OMR will be worse than OOC, but they can fire while mounted. Like Artillery, they fire only on their own turn and if they have not moved, or if returning fire.

I've completed the gameboard; it will be one of my standard 20" by 30" foamcore boards colored with markers and with hills, woods, buildings, and crops glued on to give a slight 3D effect. Although it is non-standard, I will play this scenario lengthwise (i.e. a 20" wide playing area) to try and get more vertical maneuvering, which is what happened at this skirmish. Next blog will contain pictures of the board.

Due to the large numbers of militia on both sides, I will either have to proxy the figures or wait until I can get everything painted (not many) and mounted (a lot). If I proxy the battle, it will be to test the scenario; I probably will not take photos. I am curious as to how the quantity versus quality aspect plays out. Although I don't expect the Patriots to win, I expect they should be able to hold their own.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

DBA Game: Early Libyans (I/7b) versus Early Bedouin (I/6c)

One of the two DBA games I played in the last two weeks, this was not written up. (Jesse wrote up our game of Mongols versus Medieval Germans and posted it on Fanaticus and the SVHG forum.)

Although not a historical match-up, the armies are the same year and area (North African Biblicals between 999 BC and 660 BC). The Libyans are proxies from Ira's collection.

To minimize on pictures we snapped one at the end of every turn (not bound), so you see the effects of both sides movement, combat, and outcome moves. Don't blink, as it goes so fast you might miss something!

Libyans (my command) are the light blue arrows; Bedouins (Ira's command) are the green arrows.

Turn 1

What is hard to discern from the photograph is the exact nature of the terrain. At the top left is a steep hill running along board edge. In the center is a large patch of rough terrain that does not block LOS. This area would become key as the game went on. In the lower right is another steep hill.

The Libyans are defending and the Bedouins attacking. The Bedouins have placed their commander on the other side of their hill, limiting his command effectiveness (Ira is a little rusty at DBA). The Libyans setup their bows on their steep hill. You'll notice that we both forgot to place camps. (I guess we both are making mistakes now.)

I can't speak to Ira's plan, but I just finished playing a game with Jesse in which I used the terrain to isolate a portion of Jesse's command, thus killing it off, before moving to the next objective. My goal was to use the rough terrain to perform the same function. If the camels could be drawn forward, I might be able to slice them off with the Psiloi and Bows. As there were four elements there, that could win me the game.

The first turn sees the Bedouins, with few pips available and stuck on a steep hill, sending three columns down the length of the steep hill. If I have any hope of making a dent against that force, I need to get them off of that hill. I send my right wing tentatively forward, while the bows stay in place. The problem is: I rolled six pips and I hate not using them. The problem I can see with my plan is that if Ira moves his General behind the hill, his Camels will require too many pips to move, so he will never move forward (especially against bows). Even though I have tried this before, unsuccessfully in DBA 1.2, I throw the Psiloi into the rough terrain, deep into his territory, burning five pips to get into position.

Turn 2

(Sorry for the shift in angle for the picture. Ira had to deal with the baby and came back and snapped it from a different view.)

The Bedouins send another column to deal with the pesky Psiloi that appeared on their flank. They are starved for pips, so there is not much they can do. Meanwhile the Libyans prepare some defenses in the rough while sending one out to threaten the flank. (Gutsy, some may say "stupid" move to make, given that the element is in the open and has camels to its rear, but Ira has realized the problem with having the General guarding the extreme left flank. I am gambling on the Bedouins not having enough pips to do everything they want.)

Turn 3

(Again, a shift in the angle. Ira has to deal with the baby, so I grab the camera. All remaining shots are from the angle of the Libyan rear.)

The Bedouin camels start to move out from the flank, threatening the third Psiloi. Meanwhile the original two Psiloi are unceremoniously destroyed.

Libyans 0-2.

Turn 4

The Bedouins tried finishing off the last Libyan Psiloi, but it kept running. Their General finally commits and decides to try an munch the Psiloi on the Libyan right flank.

Meanwhile, the Libyan warbands bounded forward and flanked a Bedouin Ax/Ps pair and destroyed them.

Libyans 2-2.

Turn 5

The Bedouins end up with few pips and end up burning them on the camels to finally pin the last Libyan Psiloi.

The Libyans spend their time recovering their positions. The warbands pull back and join the battle line, while the right flank Psiloi fan out. It now appears that the Bedouins are committing to the attack; I just need to pull them off of the steep hill so they don't have the advantage.

Libyans 2-3.

Turn 6

The Bedouins start pushing the Libyan psiloi, while they in turn pull back, hoping to draw them farther off of the hill.

Turn 7

The Bedouins continue to pursue the Libyan psiloi, finally coming off of the steep hill. The Libyans quickly swoop in, hitting another Ax/Ps pair in front and flank with a warband and the General in the chariot. The Bedouins recoil and the battle is over.

Libyans 4-3.

Analysis
Ira made an interesting comment in that my move with the three psiloi elements put him on the defensive from turn 2 onwards. Myself, I felt that in hindsight I had made a big mistake with the move.

1. I had committed too many elements to the move. Losing two elements on turn 3 and the third element on turn 5 meant I was on the defensive.

2. The effect of the move was that it kept the Bedouins back towards their baseline, in the heavy terrain, when I wanted them out of it and into the open. So the move was counter-productive.

3. The Libyan army is too slow to come up and rescue elements holding out like that. The warbands do allow a double-move that can surprise others, however.

Although I won, the psiloi move was not a "gutsy" move as much as a stupid one. Moving the psiloi out into the open, even if it was to flank the Ax/Ps pair (which would have resulted in the the Aux destruction), it assured that I lost that critical third element realtively easily. Had my opponent not made a mistake with his General being out of LOS with his camels, I would probably lost very quickly.

Been Painting a Lot

I have been side-tracked awhile with painting and basing. I based some more Patriot AWI and finally have a proper General element for both the British and Patriots. I'll try and post some pictures soon.

Also on the painting table is my DBA Philistine army. I have almost everything painted (one more LCh that is unpainted and 2 Ax that are half-way there), but only the General's chariot is based. I am looking forward to using these against Ira's Early Bedouins or Early Libyans. Jesse is talking about getting an Early Hebrew army together and I still have a New Kingdom Egyptian army to be painted.

The Early Egyptian army also looks interesting, with 1/2 blades and 1/2 bows. As the bows can recoil through the blades, you have an interesting combination or shooting and hard fighting foot. With no cavalry or chariots, however, it is a slow, plodding army that would probably not do well out of its period.

I have some more 15mm AWI from Thailand: more Continental Light Dragoons (the ones in the brown jackets with green facings) and some Queens Rangers infantry (to go with my Queens Rangers cavalry). I was planning on sending a batch of troops to DJD, but I missed the shipping deadline (they were having a sale through the end of January). I may ask them to extend the deadline. I have bags of unpainted AWI and I need them to flesh out some of my other units (which they painted) and I want some new units painted. I really need Patriot and Loyalist militia; I have more than enough Continental, British, and Hessian regulars. Anyone have any suggestions on good 15mm AWI militia figures? I am thinking mostly hunting shirts and round hats. I like Musket Miniatures, but I haven't bought those figures from them yet. Same with FreiKorps. I like their FPW figures, but haven't tried the AWI to see if they are as paintable as the FPW.

My big problem right now is too many impulse buys on eBay! I have some 15mm FPW figures on bid and I really wish I hadn't big them. I already have a lot of unpainted 6mm FPW figures. If I hadn't bid, however, I probably would be bidding higher on a Mongol DBA army I have my eye on. I played a recent game with the Mongols against the Medieval Germans and was really impressed with a Light Horse army.

As Jesse has Medieval Germans and Mark is painting Later Polish, I was looking at something really unique: Hussites. I saw an Essex army of them for sale at The Game Matrix and it was $60 unpainted (it has five war wagons, after all) and after a thread on Fanaticus about how to use them, it seems like it might be an interesting, if challenging, army.

Finally, I bought the Chichimec army from Khurasan Miniatures and although they should be a quick army to paint (they are all nude, save for the ... sheaths), I haven't found the inspiration yet on patterns and colors to paint their bodies (they used war paint on them). I figure something like a unit of black and whites, a unit of blues, one of reds, etc. Granted, they should not be "uniform", but if each little tribe (element) used a different set of colors, it would look interesting.

Well, that's all for now. I'll try to post some pictures and get another game of DB-AWI in. My gaming group has bailed on me for the last few weeks, so it has been a little bit of a dry spell here (hence all of the painting).

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").