How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

How Men of Quality Resolve Differences
Pudel and Peper attacks - an ugly but inevitable part of any 17th C. British Civil War, "Oh! The Shame of it All!"

Monday, April 18, 2016

NT OHW Scenario #11 Surprise Attack - replay

So I played this several times. Each time I found it very difficult for the defender [Union in this case] to do anything but lose valiantly.  The consistent approach for the attacker - as long as they've a skirmisher unit - is to double envelope the defender by pushing hard into the woods gaining a flanking position, while a couple of Units push hard on the right to do the same.

Attemps by the Union to stand result in them getting wiped out fairly quickly as the firepower of the entire force is quickly brought to bear on Turn 2. Deploying them into skirmish order halves Hits, and then I consistently used the "Reform" rule from my posted NT OHW ACW rules to pull back in 2" increments. Altho this prevents shooting, the defending Units are able to withdraw to the crossroads and be reinforced on Turn 3, making it a 6-4 contest. This helps a lot, but still usually results in a defender loss as their final reinforcements arrive late, Turn 9.

The only way to preserve these forces and contest the road is for one of the defending Union Units to sidle into the woods, preventing their being outflanked, and quartering Hits [1/2 for skirmish formation, 1/2 for being in the woods].  In this case, aggressive movement by the cavalry into the woods resulted in them reaching the North end pretty fast, but it was hard to exploit this as I had pushed one of the original Union Units into the woods also. Eventually, there were two infantry and a gun unit defending the crossroads against four infantry and a gun. The cavalry were destroyed on Turn 10 by the reinforcements, having pushed too far and getting pinned in place by the union unit in the woods, the confederates lost a couple units and it ended in a draw.  This is the best I've done with Scenario 11 so far for the defender.  I welcome any other feedback, but I think the reinforcements should arrive more on turn 6 or so.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Neil Thomas OHW: Horse & Musket AAR, #11 Surprise Attack

So of course after publishing the rules, and updating the post, it is time to play the RAW that I have written.  Getting the unit interactions "feel" right was the trickiest part. Having played it several times, I took the best battle and present it to you here now.

Featured here are my Litko bases that are 3"x1.5" and giving me sabots and ideas for the 6mm figures I'm preparing to trade for with my good buddy Steve over at Sound Officer's Call!.  I've been pursuing scale issues with my adaptation and take on NT's Horse'n Musket rules, so not ready to commit to any particular basing system.  The figs were painted by Steve I believe, but he's moved on to 15mm for everything - good for him!

The scenario in #11 is that the attacking Blue force is moving quickly to capture a crossroads that is lightly guarded by two Red units.  Two more units enter on T3, and the final two on T9.  Having played this previously, I can assure you that the wait time from 3 to 9 is a nail-biter for team Red!  In this case, the Rebels are attacking and are, ironically, "Blue"!  Generally, it just feels right to me to give the tactical attack to them.  I did roll for forces and stuck with them altho I felt it might be tough for the Union who have four infantry and two Guns.  On the other hand, the Rebs have four infantry also and one battery of Guns and a Cavalry unit.  In these rules, Cavalry are basically faster moving skirmish units, it being assume that they are always ready to get back to their horses and scamper off or just redeploy elsewhere.

Below, Turn 1.  Rebs moving ahead trying to envelope the skirmish line of Yanks, who are positioned on the road between an impassible bog and some woods.  Advancing hard up the right are two infantry units.  On the left the cav, with two infantry and a gun up the middle to break the skirmish line.  In the back can be seen the gun and infantry coming in T3, and to the back left the gun and infantry coming in T9. The red dice is the Rebs and the blue the Yanks.

Below T2.  Pushing hard forward, working the flanks and trying to get to the crossroads.

Turn 3. The aggressive action of the cavalry force the Union skirmish line to pull back a bit.  Help is on the way. I chose one gun b/c it can help immediately, altho I've a long range out to 16" with the infantry, also. The cavalry whiff their shot, and the left infantry is not rolling well. The other Yank unit is taking some solid hits as the guns are helping.

Turn 4. Rebs drive on the right flank. Yanks occupy the crossroads and victory! Delaying force continues to hold out due to poor rolls by the cavalry and gun. Also, the right Yank chose to Rally instead of Fire, and rolled a '5' getting 2.5 rounded up = 3 Hits off! Note that the right Reb infantry by the Gun is at Point Blank Range 4" while the other is at Effective Range which is 8". Long Range is 16" if you've a minnie rifle.

Turn 5. Pressure increases on the front, and the odds are evening out. Rebs deploy and prepare to engage the Yanks at the crossroads as the Guns move up to support.

Turn 6. The front begins to collapse. One Yank unit gone, the other taking a lot of hits. Not that the Rebs haven't gotten beat up, but the rule saying you can't pick on a single unit if there's a continuous line in the fire arc is making things a lot more realistic than sniping away at a unit with multiple shooting friendlies until it is dead. 
The grind with the skirmish line is historical for me, but I also want to experiment with a rule that allows infantry to charge under certain circumstances.  No doubt there were charges that broke the enemy, but this is handled in OHW rules by firing upon the unit until it breaks, then occupying the position. Certainly there's an argument to that effect, but there's ZERO incentive to get close to drive away the enemy and I don't like that, either.

Turn 7. The cavalry roll a natural '5' resulting in many hits, and the last Yank unit holding up the Rebs is destroyed. The right unit advances into the gap with the guns also moving. Up at the crossroads, Long Range shots are resulting in substantial casualties.

Turn 8. Rebel general advance continues. Action really heats up at the crossroads. 

Turn 9. Union reinforcements arrive but too late to save the force at the crossroads. Altho they gave telling blows, they were unable to knock out one of the Reb infantry. It doesn't look good - all six confederate units are alive, and there's a rally option in the game!

Turn 10. Yank gunners work furiously to hold off the Rebel horde and at least take out a unit before they go down. Reb gun works its way up the right flank as field of fire is obstructed. Cavalry adjust their position in the woods to threaten the Union gun that's just entered and is raking the infantry unit next to it, putting 14 Hits in. Clearly, I advanced that Unit too far!

Turn 11. Concentrated fire wipes out the Yank gun at the crossroads. It's now clear, but the Rebs have lost an infantry unit finally. But will it make a difference?

Turn 12. Another Reb Unit disintegrates under a hail of cannister. The Union can say they fought with honor at this point. If the top Rebel can be destroyed, there may be a chance to contest the crossroads and get a draw. Nine hits is just enough to make it possible...

Turn 13. The gun and infantry push the Reb at the crossroads to the brink. Union gun not looking so good thanks to the cavalry figuring out how to shoot again and some counter-battery fire. Reb infantry below is rallying off some Hits.

Turn 14. Reb infantry at 13 Hits!  But Union Gun destroyed. Union will destroy it 5/6 of the possibilities of the D5, anything but a '2'...

Turn 15. AARGH!  Never say "anything but a x" it always happens! Cavalry and bottom reb infantry advance out to push the draw to their favor. Crossroads clearly secured!

This played very well. It's a tough scenario for the defender if there's any shooting involved since the entire Blue force enters together and can concentrate firepower at about 2-1 even while enveloping the flank[s]. Most importantly, the rules worked and made sense all the time.  Have made a few type changes and such, and clarified a few things, but they are looking solid. I'll have to amend the post with the rules.

I think the game played nicely as focused on firepower over rebel melee ability. I do think that charges and melee should be a part of a civil war set, but need to figure out what the limit is on it. Certainly a picket line shouldn't be holding off a brigade that is under attack orders. "Driving in" a skirmish line is something I'll have to think about.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Project Focus & Hobby Approach, p.3

Note empty box...  :(

Well, the final report is that I sold off a lot of items resulting in quite a bit of decision making and effort, but plenty of rewards. Some thoughts:

eBay - the system is smoother now than it used to be. I found it quicker and easier to use, to make quick auctions and perform feedback, etc. The message system is still cumbersome, but I bought a cheap postal scale and started printing postage off eBay resulting in savings of 10-45% depending! That was nice. I got a lot of great prices for many items, and solid and reasonable prices for almost everything else.

Separate Hobby Bank Account was finally created. I ended up using Freedom and that is now my link for Amazon and Paypal, keeping my main finances off the net and unlinked. It also helps me monitor hobby purchases and spending as I know that entire account and money stream is hobby junk. I recommend this to anyone serious about being responsible for their hobby spending and time!

Cash flow was excellent, with over $1,000 being transferred from gaming into my main account. After all fees were paid I netted about $1500, of which 1K went to bills, $250 to some gaming stuff and books and $250 is now in the account. However, I'm pursuing trade for a latest interest, ACW 6mm. Nice thing is it is local so we've no postage bills, and I got to see his stuff before even deciding I wanted it.

Mongoose Publishing's "Starship Troopers" were all sold. While it was hard to sell off some of the items, I consoled myself with the possibility of switching to 15s using the lovely line from Khurasan LINK with more realism and better space optimizing.

Games Workshop "The Lord of the Rings - Strategy Battle Game" took a bunch of hits, with lots of "big army" stuff getting sold off. I haven't reconciled and am still struggling with what scale to pursue fantasy in - historical 25-28 or Heroic 28 [e.g. Warhammer Fantasy]. I decided I prefer LOTR as a skirmish game more than anything else, and that I'd use historicals mainly to game big battles since I've plenty of them. I kept enough for a Gondor style force and lots of Moria Goblins - like 100+.  Can you ever have enough Moria Goblins??

Mantic "Kings of War" figures also took hits. I had a large undead army mint in boxes, and it all was sold. Love the figures, but have to draw the line at yet another army! With GW Empire, Chaos and Goblins laying around, something had to give. Besides, they'd be easy to replace someday.

While there are still some issue to resolve, periods and projects to sell off or get working on, I limited my exposure in two areas and sold off an entire project in which I had a lot invested.  I'm calling that a pretty big win!  I'm also getting encouragement and encouraging some of my gamer pals to get responsible with what is at the end of the day just a hobby.

Neil Thomas "One-Hour Wargames" Horse & Musket Rules

Well, one of my gaming buddies got me helping him with a period that I do like, the horse'n musket era.  He has AWI, 7YW, AWI, Napoleonics, and ACW,  In a very responsible coarse of action, he decided to rid himself of several projects and also limit himself to two scales, 15mm and 10mm, ditching 25 and 6mm. This eventually got me thinking about 6mm again, and the great posts over at Cambronne's Reply [now beling blogged at Campaign Chronicles, incidentally, here: LINK]. 

I borrowed his unwanted ACW stuff and also used my old Napoleon's Battles counters, and began tinkering with some generic Horse and Musket era rules.  It's pretty hard to fit everything from 1700 - 1865 in one set, but I think I got War of Austrian Succession to Napoleonics squashed in here, perhaps including the War with Mexico and such. As always, NT was my inspiration and it took several playtests and re-writes for the rules to make sense, but I believe they're good enough to cover things in a Complete Brigadier sort of general way.  

The optional and advanced rules will need a lot of work, as they'd cover period specific distinctions.  But for now, I think these play well while answering many of the unwritten mechanics NT left out.  They also restrict at least the worst of player excesses, and hopefully make sense to more people than me!  I'll post some batreps with them soon. Until then, enjoy and feel free to contact me for a hard copy or with comments.

Grey Areas.  Any situation not explicitly covered in the rules, or a measurement that is “too close to call”, should be defined in “either/or” terms and resolved with a friendly roll off in the winner’s favor.
Pre-measuring.  Distances between Units may be measured at any time.
Scale. 6” is 100 yards / meters. A turn represents about 5 minutes of action and inaction.
Dice. May be either standard six-sided, D6, or D5 [six sides of 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5] so are referred to as Dx.

Units.  There are four types of Units in the H&M rules, representing the most common types.
1.    Infantry: About 400 close order Foot with muskets/bayonets who rely on firepower to stop or drive away the enemy. Bayonets are to defend against cavalry or threaten the enemy when closing.
2.    Skirmishers: About 200 light Foot operating in a dispersed formation allowing rapid movement even through rough terrain. Their smaller size and open formation makes their musketry less effective.
3.    Cavalry: About 200 Close-order horse who rely entirely upon hand to hand combat and rapid movement to affect the battle. Flank charges can be devastating and are a potent threat. 
4.    Artillery: A 6-gun field battery with longer Range but less firepower than an infantry battalion. They may have trained crews with horses to move them but are still not very mobile.

Figures & Basing.  6”x 3” depth [4”x2” for Cavalry and Guns], any sensible figure size/number per base.  Units with multiple bases fight with all front edges and corners aligned. 

Front, Left, Right & Rear Sides.  Measure these off the Unit corners, 45° arcs off the front, rear, left / right Side.  A Unit’s Front center point determines if it is in an enemy Unit’s Front, left/right or Rear Side. Left / right Sides may not be targeted for Shot / Charge if Protected by mutual 1” Front corner distance to a friendly Unit.

Line of Sight.  LoS is measured from a Firing or Charging Unit's front center point to the center of a side of the Target Unit Base: Front, Left, Right or Rear.  It is blocked by anything intervening and apparently taller than the height of the figures, e.g. hills, woods, towns, and Units [cavalry are higher than any other Unit type].
      I.        A gap 4” wide is needed to trace LoS through.
    II.        Half of a Targeted Unit’s side must be visible and in shooter/charger Front Arc.
   III.        Units may see 4” into and out of woods, town, and hills [plateau effect] but not through two sides. 
  IV.        Units lining the edge of terrain do not have their LoS blocked by it.
    V.        Guns on a Hill may trace LoS over intervening Units closer to the guns than the Target Unit.
Units must have LoS to Fire or charge enemy Units at the time of the shot or charge.

Play Sequence.  A full turn has each player taking four phases:
Attacker  [player A]: 1) Actions: Fire or Move, 2) Melee, 3) Routs and Rallies
Defender [player D]: 1) Actions: Fire or Move, 2) Melee, 3) Routs and Rallies

1.1. Fire
Units may Fire at Target Units to which they have LoS, but may not move [mark with cotton balls].
A.    Priority. Units fire at the closest, most directly forward Unit in their Front Arc. If two Units are in LoS at the same Range, and have mutually Protected Sides, both must be targeted.
B.    Range. Guns have an 8” Point Blank and 36” Effective Range.  Infantry and Skirmishers have a 4” Point Blank and 8” Effective Range.
Roll Dx, this is the number of Hits against the Target Unit, modified in the following sequence:
                      i.        Adding. Add 2 if Firing at a Foot Unit’s Flank or Rear, or if it is Cavalry.
                     ii.        Subtracting. Skirmishers and Artillery subtract 2 from the amount rolled, then,
                    iii.        Double. All Units double the amount rolled at Point Blank Range, then,
                   iv.        Halve. Hits against Skirmishers are halved at every Range, then,
                    v.        Terrain.  Units within Woods, Brush or Marsh or Towns, or behind Walls, halve Hits.
                   vi.        Stacked Modifiers. The maximum benefit any Unit may receive is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2].
The final dice total is the number of Hits the Target receives, rounding fractions UP. If Firing at two Units, divide Hits equally, an odd Hit placed upon the closest Unit.  If a Unit has 15+ Hits it is removed.

1.2) MOVE
Players sequentially move their Units, with no corner exceeding the total distance allowed.  If a Unit Moves, it may not Fire [mark with dust cloud].  If any movement except straight ahead is made, the Bonus is lost.
      i.        Class 1. Infantry & Guns        move 1Dx, +2” Bonus
     ii.        Class 2. Skirmishers               move 1Dx, +4” Bonus
    iii.        Class 3. Cavalry                     move 1Dx, +6”            Bonus
Moves that begin and remain over 12” away from all enemy Units may move double the total allowed.

Maneuvering.  All maneuvers count as movement.
      i.        Wheel. Units turn on either front corner by pinning that corner in place and moving the opposite corner forward, just like a hinged door.  Foot may wheel once, all others twice.
     ii.        Reform. Make 2” move in any direction, including 2” move into / out of column.
    iii.        Fall Back. Move directly back Dx facing the new direction. Cavalry may face original direction instead.
   iv.        Column. Place Unit bases one after the other or mark a single Base Unit. Columns permit Road movement, passing narrow gaps, and unlimited wheels, so the move Bonus is not lost.

Terrain.  There are two terrain types, Linear and Area.  Linear are 6-12” long x 1-3” wide.  Area are 6-12” per side or diameter.  Building or tree models are only decorative – move as needed to position Units.
              i.        Hills. Area.  Defensive Bonus when uphill.
            ii.        Woods, Rocky Brush.  Area. Skirmishers may enter.  Defensive Bonus if entirely inside.
           iii.        Town. 6x6” Area. Skirmishers and Infantry may enter. One Unit receives a defensive Bonus if it Reforms entirely within it. It then also has a 360 LoS from the center of any side.
           iv.        Lake, Marsh / Rivers.  Impassible Area / Linear respectively. Units may cross at a bridge or ford.
            v.        Walls, Gullies, Riverbank. Linear. Defensive Bonus if behind and in full edge contact.
           vi.        Roads. Linear, any length. Units in column and following a road cancel terrain restrictions but lose Shot or Melee Bonuses and may not Charge.

Interpenetration. Skirmishers may move through but not stop upon any Unit and vice-versa.

Enemy Units have a 4” threat zone in their Front Arc. Enemy Units may not move in it except to Charge, Fall Back, or target a new Unit with Point Blank Fire.

Charging.  Only Cavalry may move into Contact with an enemy Unit.
      i.        Target Units must be in LoS, and the LoS distance equal or less than the move amount with Bonus.
     ii.        Contact is made by moving the shortest LoS distance from the Charging Unit’s Front side to the center of any uncontacted side.  It immediately stops moving upon contact, even if just a corner contact.  
    iii.        Contact may be only one Cavalry Unit per Side; front, rear and left/right.
There is no additional free movement to achieve fully aligned edge-to-edge contact [the “closing the door” of DBA and other rules].   Gaps are filled with fighting men! Melee is resolved during the Melee phase.

2) MELEE Units only inflict Hits when they Charge. 
Roll 1Dx +2, this is the number of Hits modified in sequence as follows:
      i.        Terrain.  Units uphill or defending woods / river bank / gully / wall halve Hits.
     ii.        Type. Cavalry Targets halve Hits, Gun Targets double Hits.
    iii.        Side.  Double Hits by Cavalry attacking on the left/ right or rear Side of a Target.
   iv.        Stacked Modifiers. The max benefit any Unit may receive is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2].
The final total is the Hits the Target Unit receives, round fractions UP.  Remove any Unit with 15+ Hits. If the Target was removed, the Cavalry Unit[s] remain in place. If not, the Cavalry Unit[s] Fall Back Dx.

3) ROUTS AND RALLIES.  Any Unit that neither Moves nor Fires may rally as long as it is not within Point Blank Range and Fire Arc of an enemy Unit. Simply roll a Dx and remove half that many Hits [round up]. If presently eligible to receive a Terrain Bonus from enemy Fire, remove another Hit.  A Unit with more than 5 Hits may not rally to below 5 Hits.

The below are ones that I've actually used and playtested, and will likely appear in AARs.

For each army of six Units, allow one advantage per disadvantage taken, one or two each per force upon agreement.
Stubborn = removed at 18+ Casualties. Reluctant = removed at 12+ Casualties.
Elite = all dice rolled receive +1. Militia = all dice rolled receive -1.

Any Firing roll of a natural ‘5’ [‘6’ with d6] results in the Unit having used the last of their ammunition with that devastating shot or series of fast volleys.  It may not fire until it performs a Rally, during which it is assumed to also replenish its ammunition.

AMERICAN CIVIL WAR modifications
All Infantry Units in close order act as Infantry.
2.     *All Infantry Units may use the Reform maneuver to switch to column or skirmish. Shift Bases into the formation [one base behind the other for columns, a ½” gap between them for skirmish] or mark a single base accordingly. If Militia, use the Poor Drill rule, and if experienced use the Elite rule.
      *If armed with a Minnie rifle, they’ve a Long Range out to 16” at which Hits are halved.
4.    * Guns have a 48” effective Range.
5.    * Cavalry are Skirmishers with the cavalry move rate, best portrayed as foot with horse-holders behind.

6.   *  Infantry may shoot in column at -2. This would be in addition to other penalties such as being in Skirmish, and just represents the narrow frontage.
*    * infantry may change into Skirmish formation and fight as skirmishers in all respects.
EDIT: great AWI suggestion from Steve at "Sound Officer's Call":

Charging Infantry. Some periods and theaters had little to no cavalry, or their battlefield use was very limited. Instead, Infantry charges were routinely performed, e.g. British in AWI would fire a volley and then "have at the Damned Rebels" with the bayonet. 

To reflect this, allow some AWI regiments to charge like cavalry - but at the infantry move rate. The frequency of their appearance should be identical to that of Cavalry in the army composition chart if you are rolling up you armies. The limit can be easily explained in that some regiments are given the task of assaulting while others are given the task of engaging the enemy with fire.