Sunday, 17 January 2016

I've never been Frederick.

Originally, this past Saturday at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group was to see our first try of Warlord Games' Hail Caesar rules for ancient battles using a Roman civil war scenario. Sad to say, Ralph was called away at almost the last minute and since he was bringing about half of the figures, we had to scramble to find other things to do. Kevin and Martin played Naval Thunder using ships of WWI vintage. They were trying some sort of game with a movable map that "scrolled" to actually bring some islands further onto the board. This allowed their table to be much larger than it originally/officially was. I wish I could tell you more about it but I was busy myself.

Andy and I put together an quick-and-dirty Seven Years War battle using Black Powder. Andy captained the French (4 infantry brigades of 4 regiment and a gun each and one heavy cavalry brigade) while Bear and I ran a division of Prussians (three infantry brigades of 4 regiments and a gun each and a kurassier/dragoon brigade with two hussar units, one attached to an infantry brigade and one to the cavalry brigade.)

Bear's brigade advancing in column with the Death Heads Hussars on the far left.

Andy's cavalry and infantry beyond the un-named village. Maybe it should be Unbennatedorf.

A late-in-the-game photo of the entire table.

The French advance with their left flank anchored on a woods.

The view of the French line looking toward Unbenanntedorf.
Bear and I moved first and looking back, I realised my mistake (more on that later) and we covered as much of the field as we could. My cavalry were stuck behind the forest and Bear's hussars were covering the other flank. I also had to contend with a low wall lining the road which ran across my advance. This slowed me up a bit. Andy came on in fine linear style and it was impressive. Each of us failed our command rolls a few times - an aggravating and rather important part of the rules. We also insisted on something particular: Black Powder demands that precise orders be given to units, i.e. "von Goofus' brigade will march forward to plug the gap between the woods and von Schnell's brigade." If your command roll is successful, that's exactly what you do, BUT you go up to the gap and no further than that. If you fail, you don't move... unless your units have some special ability (like "superbly drilled") or are in column/limbered. Such formations can perform one action (move, change formation, unlimber) despite the command roll failure. A blunder is a serious failure (should you roll double sixes/"boxcars") because you are required to do something like move to your left/right or fall back or advance 3 moves. That could really mess up your plans.

Nobody blundered yesterday. Both side advance toward the other and began to exchange fire, both musketry and artillery. One of Bear's battalions had enough and fell back. Later one of Andy's battalions was shattered by Prussian musketry and routed. I attempted a charge with one of my kurassier regiments and they suffered the same fate from closing fire. Bear's Totenkopf hussars bravely took on a French heavy horse regiment and they cut at each other for two turns until the lighter horsemen had had enough and routed. I made a wild attempt to reinforce the far left by detatching my two dragoon regiments and moving them behind the Prussian lines hell for leather. They responded well to my commanding general's order, but were too far away to influence anything at the end. Andy's cavalry brigade was attempting to turn the Prussian left but some good hits by our artillery disordered them and they couldn't get traction by the time curfew was called.

Andy's line... and Andy's arm.

My luckless cavalry brigade - 2 kurassier regiments including the Garde du Corps, 2 dragoon regiments, and the Red Hussars.
I know they were disbanded after being captured in the real world, but I like the colour of their uniforms,

My left hand brigade - 3 grenadier battalions and one fusilier battalion.

Bear deploys two of his regiments. The guns stand ready.

One of my Prussian musketeer regiments having difficulty moving over the low wall.

Andy measured to insure maximum damage. Actually I did pretty well with my morale saving throws this game.
Fusiliers standing bravely. The triangular die on the far right signifies casualties on the unit, in this case 2
... so far.
Just about every time I play, I learn something. (Well, not always.) This time, I caught on to:
  • If you're going to use linear tactics, keep your lines together.
  • Continue to use the column to get somewhere since it is allowed to move even if your general's command fails. Prussian infantry is "superbly drilled" and may do an action if their command fails, but they have to be given an order and their command HAS TO fail.
  • If I'm going to face an enemy that covers the board from end to end, use Frederick's "oblique order." Had I done so in this game and refused the right, I might have had equal numbers or better in the firefights on the Prussian left.
  • In Black Powder, be sure to give exacting orders. You can't give fluffy orders or muddy commands. Have your opponent monitor you and you should monitor them. If you stick to the command rule, your game will be more tense and engaging. It takes careful wording to some extent, but it makes for a "nail-biter" of a game.
  • If you can shoot, shoot! A unit fired on is disordered whenever a "6" is rolled and disordered units cannot receive orders and fight at a reduced lever. It's worth it.
Next week? Andy and I had so much fun, we decided to do it again - Prussians vs. Russians! If Ralph can make it, we'll go with Hail Caesar, but if he's still unable to play (he's a truly busy man), the old adversaries face off in East Prussia.

My commander, who is usually Old Fritz, but here is a lesser officer emulating the King's style.

My two dragoon regiments making their end run.

Fritz's kinder go forward.

The big guns unlimber.

A view from the French lines. Bear resets a unit while I take a text from my daughter.

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