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!"

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Franco-Prussian War: Grand opening preparations!

Battle of Columbus' Nuts?
Bataille de borny.PNG
[link] Plan?? Who said we had a plan!?

Colombey-Nouilly [just East of Metz] is an interesting battle. Unfortunately, it's not the right battle for an initial intro to the game for an unknown size group of players, but I like the terrain. There are a series of ridges or fingers running East to West that terminate in a series of valleys, and I think the terrain is complex enough to diminish some of the effects of fire and give plenty of maneuver room.

The above map of "battle of Borny" doesn't do the terrain justice, so I'll have to show another map, this one from Bruce Weigle's superbly researched "1870" rules:
In essence, the Prussians are attacking West down a series of spurs from the larger mountain chain to the East. These appear to be "fingers" descending from heights on the right. The above map is about 9' x 6' of table. 

The multitude of streams running down the valleys between the spurs indicate the terrain scale.  The grey patches of hashmarks are vineyards, woods are the usual shape. Overall, this is pretty dense terrain and this terrain scale is usually not properly presented on a gaming table, being overly simplified due to a lack of terrain items in the host's collection and the general trend to simplify.

Host has super-cool and very well thought out terrain system using pink insulation foam about 1/2" thick, more than enough for his entire 12'x6' table. He piles up the levels then tacks a felt cloth down at the contours. Works really well; the only issue is that the scale of the hills is about half what the game scale is, i.e. they are twice as large as they should be - or more. The height is fine, but the hills are very long and gentle compared to real hills, i.e. the terrain of the battlefield. Still, the net result after we set it up really looks great!

Only disappointment with these pics...the heights of the battlefield - ranging from 3-5 levels up - are lost in the texture and color of the felt covering. The actual setup looks pretty dramatic live, and the contours are pretty easy to see.

In the event, I reversed the table sides. The Prussians are attacking "East" [the Prussians attacked from EVERY direction historically, so no problem there!] so we'll say that this is a view from table SE

View from SW [Metz is just a few feet off the table to left]

From from NW

View from NE

View towards East [so Prussian viewpoint], North end of table.
Some of the contours are a bit more visible here - as well as the blue push pins that are holding the felt into them.

Prussian view to East, Center of table. The scenario will start with the town half occupied by both sides for immediate action.

Prussian view East, South end of table.

This is a great table system, well thought out and on a large scale. While it is out of my league, I'm certainly going to copy it on a smaller scale!

This does introduce a major challenge of gaming - getting the terrain at the correct scale for the game and the real terrain of the battlefield. Honestly, most gamers fail here, as it is itself a time-consuming endeavor to create and present good terrain for gaming.

For example, the ridges of terrain for this battle are about 1000m [10"] wide, and the countours are around 2-400m [2-4"]. Overall, our table's dramatic spurs and descending ridges are about double that width, and most of the contours more gentle, again about double the distance between them. I don't think it would be really difficult to replicate the terrain more accurately, it just requires a different scale, and I think the table as it stands has been designed more for 25mm figures.

Interestingly, I have a series of styrofoam terrain that is intended for 25mm games, and will probably work a bit better, if not perfectly. Ultimately, I will make some terrain pieces in the correct scales as they will work well in 15mm whether WWII or Franco-Prussian War. But that will be a project for later.

Suffice it to say that as good as it looks, there's probably half as much terrain as needed to reflect the real battlefield, and it is at the wrong scale. Still, this is good enough to get us started and intro the Wednesday Night Grognards to the game.

Next post - the battle!