Wargame Thoughts and Commentary
2014

And Now For a REALLY BIG Battle!

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Since the release of Die Fighting II and some very thought provoking exchanges with Gary Barr, I have begun to think through the process of scaling up DF2 for truly large, mega-games.

I mentioned in the designer notes to DFII, found on the DVD, the fact that DFII is very scalable-simply extend the table, each player/commander brings his "Division" of 12 or so units to the game and away you go. However, I've got a few additional thoughts on the matter for those that would like to attempt such a project.

First, gamers should be encouraged to build their twelve unit commands for both sides in a period, so, just as in reenactments, they can fill in on whatever side is needed. It wouldn't be much of a game without both sides being represented, and in competitive numbers.

Second, I see a natural way to build corps, and armies in this system. If a player/command is roughly a "divisional sized" force, then a game with 3-4 commands on a side at one table is really a corps sized action on the table, and, if there were three such tables, you would have, roughly speaking, an army sized action.

This would require a few adjustments. What we now designate as a CIC for 2-3 commands, should, in these larger actions, be a corps commander, and there could be another figure/role/person above these three corps commanders , who would then be an army commander.

In game terms the rules for a given table would remain unchanged. Each command stand would generate and send dice to his command, and the Corps command (ex-CIC) would be able to send command dice to any unit on his table, or his 4R card generated red resource dice to any of his sub commanders at that table. However, there would be an added Army Commander (CIC) figure, which could be placed at any table who could send his command dice to any unit he can reach with his command radius, and his Red Resource dice to any corps commander within his command reach , who could then add it to his generated dice and pass them on to his divisions commanders (the players) and their command troops.

Allied Command


Using the core rules for a table, where each command rolls twice at the beginning of the game for red dice and the Corps commander (Ex-CIC) once, and then all roll once on each 4R card there after, we would add a roll for the Army Commander where he would roll three times before the game, and freely pass those dice to any corps commander he chooses, and twice thereafter on a 4R card that occurs at the table where he is located. He is free, of course, to move to another table using standard movement rules as he sees fit. The three tables would be thought of as contiguous, and could be designated the Left, Center,and Right Flanks.

Victory conditions would be the same as the standard game at any table, but the degree of victory would be judged by the mix of wins over the three tables. If a table has a command out of dice at the end of the turn, that is , as before, a decisive victory. If two go empty at any time during a turn, it's a rout. A concede is a narrow loss. All of this is standard.

But the battle would be judged by the outcome at the three tables.

If, at any time two tables rout on one side-that it an Austerlitz style victory for the winners.

If two tables on one side lose decisively that is, of course, a decisive victory ala Gettysburg!

if two tables concede, Its a narrow victory-with the "Bragging rights" winner being judged by total units eliminated-so the victory could be a Pyrrhic one.

On any mix of results which are "equal", i.e. one side loses a table decisively, and so does the other, and the third table is a concede, it is a draw, with the same check for Phyrric victory measurement. The same would be true of one table routing, on each side, with the third being a concede.

Any battle where all turn out to be a concede, with both sides having at least one concede, is an absolute draw. In campaigns, the side that wins the Pyrrhic count or has the fewest concedes holds the field.

Any battle where there is a mix of Concedes, Decisive losses, and Routs on both sides, a simple point system with 1 point for a conceded victory, 2 points for a decisive victory, and 3 points for a rout is applied with the point winner being the victor of the battle. Tie points is a draw. a 1 point edge is a narrow victory, 2 points a decisive victory, and 3 points a Glorious and Wonderful Victory!

Example: Side A-Wins on Table 1 by a decisive victory, Side B- wins on table two by routing the opposition. Side B Concedes on table three. This would leave Side A with 3 points, but side B would have 3 points, hence a draw!

This could provide for a really fascinating convention gaming experience. Three such tables would easily handle six players (three on a side), plus two Corps commanders at each table, for a total of 24 players, plus two Army Commanders, one for each side, for a grand total of 26 players involved in one battle!

The command would be tiered, with the command dice and resource dice flowing through the command structure in a pretty good metaphor for command and control, as well as command focus and will!

This is all just my immediate thoughts, but it would be a lot of fun organizing this event. Terrain at each table could either be identical, ala duplicate bridge tourneys, or each could be set up to reflect a real historical battle by sections, or just randomly generated. It should be available to both sides prior to the battle. Ratings and rolls for command size ( you bring your full complement of 12 units, BUT you may only use 7-11 of them). would be done at the game. Since the game resolution will be unaffected at any table-the entire battle will be resolved in 4 hours or so-so one could simply switch sides, or armies and refight it!

This is just my immediate thoughts and needs some fleshing out and testing of premises, but I see no immediate reason it could not work. It places no greater demand on any player than the creation of his 12 unit command. Again, the players on one side could consult and create large vavalry commands or Grande Batteries, in any one command, as long as the total army percentages were reasonable. It could make large battle playable, and allow for team victories that would be great pub conversations, and undoubtedly lead to commemorative T-shirts, cups, and trophies.

Die Fighting II and its inherent scalability should handle this easily. I would appreciate any comments from the readers on this idea over at the Yahoo! Repique Rules forum. (Hit the button in this left hand column of this page).



Next?

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So what next for Repique Rules? Some things are pretty easy to predict, and others will be a mix of my customer’s requests and my whims.

Firstly, I will, of course, have the Die Marching campaign rules in mind. Die Marching actually preceded Die Fighting in the planning stage, but was then given a lower priority until Die Fighting was fully developed into Die Fighting II. There was an added delay as the new publishing method was worked through and a number of issues concerning doing a multi-media rule set were resolved. I am pretty satisfied with the current state of DFII, and am now planning to move on to the completion of Die Marching.

Die Marching will be closely integrated with the DFII system, including the use of the four colored dice, and will reflect a number of mechanics that will be very familiar to Die Fighting II players. It, too, will be done in multi-media format, and will be made available either singly or as part of a two-disk set with Die Fighting II. My target for shooting and editing is Summer 2015 with and early Fall 2015 release. The system will be more than just a battle generator, but will involve true strategic planning and movement. I hope to make an umpire strictly optional, and aim for a game that provides real reasons for battles and results that have both tactical and strategic consequences. It will minimize the usual "one big battle and the campaign is over" curse of many systems, and will allow for quick generation of scratch battles, and even imagi-nation applications. It will be multi period and centered on the Horse and Musket period.

However, this Spring I’m going to publish a couple of DFII add-ons. A professionally designed, high quality, set of phase cards. One set is a blue themed deck, and the other is a red themed deck. They will be of the highest quality and in a Tarot sized card format. I am also going to do deluxe officer decks for DFII for use with the card draw method of officer assignment. These will be like baseball cards, but with Stats, bios, personality quirks, and the Good day, Average, Day, Bad Day ratings mentioned in the Officer Rating PDF. The initial periods will be the WSS, SYW, Napoleonic, and ACW. I would also like to do FPW, AWI, and French Revolution over time. The initial sets will be out before Historicon 2015.

I am also working on a Spanish Civil War through 1942 WWII application of the DF system. Yes, tanks and planes!

I will be exploring a Die Flying (WWI) application. This at the request of Chris Caudill

I am considering a quasi-skirmish application aimed primarily at the AWI-especially 40mm figures.

But all of the latter items are "In The Future" and will only be concentrated on when the Card Decks and Die Marching are completed.

A Little Amuse-Bouche

DFII PHOTO


Whew! This project has been very challenging from beginning to end, and the last week was no exception. Packing up all those orders and getting them to the postoffice and mailed was a major task! (Note to self: NEVER let a mailing of Pre-publication orders coincide with the first week of holiday mailing!)

Just as every other step along the way, it got solved, and it feels good to have the rules, as different as they are, and as different as the publication method most certainly is, on the way to your perusal and reaction. I feel like the writer of a broadway musical must feel when the curtain goes up on opening night!

I, again, thank you all for taking a chance on this unique ruleset and its unusual packaging.

Speaking of the package, it is,as described in all my previous postings, a pretty extensive amount of materials for a mailing weight of 1.7 oz.! Truly an amazing amount of easily accessible info in a small package.

However, you know my penchant for adding something not mentioned. In the original edition of Die Fighting I included two cards that were never previously mentioned-Creative X factor, and the Concede! card. The former has been lightly used, but Concede became more important over the development of DFII. Well I’ve added four new cards to the Printable Phase Card PDF for DFII. What are they and why were they added?

Die Fighting II has an unusually large capacity for expansion of game players-essentially unlimited-except for figure, players and dice, but not the rules or game play. There is much more to be developed over time, I am sure, but I think people will be very pleased with its ability to do a large game. But as I was nearing the end of packaging the design, and well after all videotaping and editing was done, I did begin to reflect on an aspect of wargaming I had not given as much consideration to-Solo Gaming! It’s the antipodes of the large convention game experience, but an amazingly large number of wargamers game by themselves either from circumstance or choice.

Die Fighting II has all the attributes of many games that use cards for either activation or sequencing (two different things) in that the solo gamer can shuffle the opponent’s deck and not be too sure of what’s in that deck in DFII, or the exact sequence, giving him some challenges even when the other side is being played by the deck. But, it’s still through him, and some gamers will just not play the other side with as must gusto as their side, and may actually “Cheat” a little in trying to anticipate the deck’s content and probable next actions. (Not you, of course). So I thought these four cards up as a way to salt the pool of potential cards that will be used to choose the actual phase deck as explained in DFII. If they make the final phase deck for turn they add another level of challenges for the gamer, that should increase their enjoyment of the game. Three of the cards would be added to the “Dummy” player’s potential deck pool, but one (Lose Turn) would be placed in the solo players card pool.

However, It occurred to me after they were added to the sheets that these same cards could be added by very specific scenario demands, or historical justification, to standard multi-player game, but I would be very careful in their use in a regular game, and very specific on their justification and how many times they are used.

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They are: Match Phase, where whatever phase card the “enemy” (you) have showing from their last phase, the “dummy” side gets for its card. Exchange Phases, where both armies act on the other army’s card! Add Phase, where upon turning this card the Dummy player would have a card drawn at random and unseen from the pile of cards that were not selected for the phase deck and act on it in ADDITION to the next card in their deck!!, and, finally, Lose Phase, on turning this card the card play immediately moves on to the next enemy (Dummy) phase bypassing the solo gamer’s phase (this would be placed in the solo player’s potential card deck!).

I think this will make the solo version of DFII a pretty fun and appealing wargame!

We’ll talk more when the packet arrives!



Thanksgiving Needs a Saving Roll!

Thanksgiving


Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S.- a rather strange holiday where no gifts are given, religious aspects are peripheral, people routinely overeat, and political arguments are many as diverse family members assemble. There is the consumption of a turkey, a lot of alcohol, and a fascination with violent sport. I think it can be said that the bulk of the thanksgiving offered on that day is directed at being thankful it will soon be over!

That being said, I find myself very thankful for a number of good friends and fellow wargamers.

First of all, the core crew of gamers and playtesters. Terry Shockey, Chris Caudill, John Mumby, Ed Meyers and Greg Rold have been there for almost all games, and experiments with Zouave II and DFII. Absolutely essential to the development of these games. Great company to boot! Thank You, guys, you’re the best!

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Chris Caudill, John Mumby, Fred Avner, Adolfo Laurenti, Iain Black,
Terry Shockey, Ed Meyers, Greg Rold, Bob Jones

There are good guys that have traveled from afar to attend games, Getzcon, and this year’s video production of DFII. Fred Avner, Iain Black, Ray Levesque, Pat McGuire and Adolfo Laurenti have spent time and treasure to attend games and the August “Special” events. They have added a great deal of fun and insights to our games and the development of DFII. Thank You.

There are those that have yet to visit Chez Jones but have been long time supporters of my designs such as Peter Anderson, Tony Hawkins, Ian Johnston Gow, and Darren Webber. Many a suggestion came from this group, particularly from Tony Hawkins and the group in Norfolk. Thanks to you as well.

But I would also like to thank three friends that have each shared the trials and the tribulations of designing war-games, shared their creativity and insights freely, and provided good friendship and irreplaceable support over the years. Their intelligence and shared conversations has been, and is, the greatest enjoyment I receive in wargaming. They are:


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Jim Getz (L.) and Brent Oman (R.) at Getzcon

Jim Getz, I have known jim for over 40 years, and in that time he has been a sounding board for my many “strange” ideas, a voice of reason when wargaming’s penchant for silly pettiness would rear its ugly head, and wise counsel on many a rule set development. He’s the best measure of a good friend, and he’s even forgiven me for naming a convention after him! Thanks, Jim, for many decades of shared friendship and great memories.

Brent Oman, who I have known for 20 years, and was just a kid when we started to develop Piquet. His sharp mind and keen sense of simplicity and directness served Piquet well, and has led to his excellent Field of Battle designs. We were a productive pair “Back in the Day”, and he continues to be a source of many ideas and insights as we play reciprocal “Home and Away” games of FOB and DF at our respective houses. I look forward to our continuing friendship. Thank You, Brent.


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Sam Mustafa astounded at the size of a 28mm figure!

Finally, a much more recent friend, Sam Mustafa, has provided a constant example of productivity, great design, and a penchant for always trying something new, which I like to think is a shared trait between us. In a hobby that sometimes puts too much emphasis on the same old-same old, and the “Tried and True” I have always admired his willingness to strike out in new directions, and put his ideas into tangible, published, rules. (For a current look at his efforts, see: http://www.sammustafa.com/honour/2014/11/blucher-podcast-number-1/ )

Add these traits to the fact he is an actual practicing ( and employed) historian, and you can readily see why I always look forward to discussing design with him, and comparing notes on the pragmatic issues of publication. Thank You, Sam.

All of this is a testament to the fact that it is the human interaction and relationships that make this hobby so much fun, not solely the games and the soon forgotten losses and victories.

Die Fighting on its way to me!


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“ Dear Robert:

Great news! Your order has been completed and is ready to be delivered to you.

The following item(s) will be shipping on the next UPS truck out of our facility: “

It is hard to tell if it will arrive by Friday (because of Thanksgiving), but certainly no later than next Monday. The envelopes and customs forms have been completed, as has a two pager insert thank you and guidance note, putting the discs in and posting is all that remains to be done!

I have to say the production house has been first rate at every step. The next time you hear from me will be after I do several post-Thanksgiving four mile runs, and the rules have been posted to you and on their way!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of you for making DFII the most successful pre-pub launch of any rules I have done. Because of this, I must also ask that you all have some patience as it’s going to take a few trips to the Post Office to get these all mailed!

The first to go out, because of distance and customs, will be ALL foreign orders. Then, immediately following, all domestic orders will be filled at the same time. All orders received through Sunday, November 30th will be fulfilled, no later than Tuesday morning, as I have enlisted the entire Chez Jones Crew (Les Quebecois) in the mailing! You will get a confirming posting here and on Yahoo! when all packages have been posted.

I really look forward to your reactions and comments,

Bob

Die Fighting II 11/21/14 Update!

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UPDATED FRIDAY 11/21/14 11:00 PM


The sleeves have been printed, folded and glued. This will allow them to dry over the weekend. The discs must still be printed. I am hoping that will occur on Monday.

All that would then remain is the assembly of the discs and sleeves and shrink wrapping them.  This looks probable for late Monday or Tuesday with shipment to me on Tuesday.

It's hard to estimate the impact of the Thanksgiving mail holiday, but I'm hoping for a Friday delivery, allowing me the weekend to pack and label your orders and do a thorough quality check on the discs.  This would mean posting them on Monday, December 1st.  The sheer volume is going to be a real challenge.  This would insure all of you, no matter how remote, getting DFII prior to Christmas.

I will, as promised, keep you all informed.

Off To A Great Start!

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This last week has been a real flurry of activity here at Repique Rules. The pre-order for the Die Fighting II rules has been better than any ruleset that I have ever done. There is a very good chance that the entire production costs will be covered by the time I ship the first disk! I thank all of you for your purchase, and i am sure you’ll love the package when it arrives.

This week has been spent in creating the database for purchasers, with their postal and email addresses. Because of the strength of the response this has been a bit of time at the computer! I also began the filling out of customs forms for the international customers. The US has recently declared in a court case involving Netflix that DVD mailers should be treated identically to any form of publishing in terms of rates, etc. This has not extended fully to overseas as customs forms are required for documents on disk, but not in print!?? Oh, well… I’m now creating all labels and forms so the packets can go out immediately once they are received.

The disk replication is on schedule. The disk master has been “stamped” and the next step is replication. Then the disks have to be printed. Concurrently, the sleeve for the disk will be printed and given a UV gloss coat. The step that slow s things down is the folding and gluing of the sleeves which must dry for a day or so before the disks may be inserted and the whole thing shrink wrapped. I will keep you informed.

Once I receive them, I will slip them into pre-addressed bubblewrap envelopes, and insert a sheet of paper that is essentially the “Read Me First” document . Rather than placing it on the disk, which gets ignored, I decided a thank you sheet with a few words of guidance about the “Best Practices” when using the package was the better course. It really isn’t very complicated, but a few suggestions might be appreciated by many of you, given the whole approach is somewhat different and new. I expect to spending a bit of time at the local post office!

I had a screening for the cast of the master disk including the video, slide shows, and PDFs, last Saturday, and their reaction was quite enthusiastic. Though it might have been the champagne…

Thanks again for the wonderful response on the Die Fighting II Multimedia Rules, it is beyond any expectation!

A reminder: The Pre-publication pricing ends this Friday, the 21st, and the rules will then return to their full price of $26.00 a copy-still a huge bargain and a great purchase. If any of your friends wish to buy the rules give them a heads up about the end of Pre-publication pricing.

Bob Jones

Die Fighting II is Launched!

As you can see, many changes have been made to the website, and there will be more to come! I have upgraded the software, re-written most pages, changed the color scheme, and revised the content to bring it all up to date. I have also changed the name of the Blog to The Repique Blog from the Zouave Blog to lessen any confusion as to its content. Substantial changes have been made to the Repique Store, where Die Fighting II has joined the product list replacing Die Fighting.

I am offering, for a limited period, 15% off the standard price for those of you that wish to pre-order. Instead of $26 plus post the charge shall be $22 plus post. Remember the post has been reduced for many customers. The rules will be shipped as soon as the DVDs are received back from the production house. That is estimated to be the last week of November. I have opted for a longer turn-around for a considerable savings to me, and to my customers, on the pricing. They will be delivered as a four color printed disk and cardboard sleeve, shrink wrapped, by first class mail.

It would make a relatively inexpensive Christmas present for a fellow wargamer!

For those of you that ordered Die Fighting after December 1st of 2013, please drop me an email. If you’re in my database, I will lower the price by an additional $4.00 for each of you, to $18.00! This will offer will be concurrent with the pre-order pricing. On November 22, the Rules will return to $26.00 for everyone thereafter.

If any on you experience any difficulties with the website, please let me know, because such an extensive re-write usually has a few bumps before it settles in for the duration!

Thank you all for your interest in Die Fighting II. I feel very sure you will not be disappointed!

Bob Jones
Denver, Colorado, 2014

Die Fighting II is Publishing!

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The (changed ) artwork and the master disk have been sent to the replication house and will be shipping by the end of the month.  I will be substantially revamping the website
www.repiquerules.com this weekend, and posting the pre-publication discount rates to my customers.

Here are the final facts and a description of the package:

What is it?  It is a D5 DVD with an enhanced, hybrid, structure.  It will play in any DVD player in the US, and all DVD players in the UK from the last 10-15 years.  It will play in any standard computer DVD or optical drive. 

What's on it?  A one hour video that by slides, graphics, and on-camera "How-Tos" completely covers the basic rules of Die Fighting II.  The professionally produced video is completely menued and has a chapter for each topic for easy access to individual sections of the rules.  It may be played as a complete video, of course. Full color.  

This is not some loosey, goosey, recording of a game, but a point by point, focused, teaching video that covers the complete rules.  Each key point is illustrated by experienced DF players demonstrating on camera, reinforced by text, photos, and a narrative by the designer. This is viewable on either a DVD player and TV or a computer-either Mac or PC.

The disk has a menu and home page, just like movie DVDs that makes selection and finding of any information quite easy.  It will run on either a PC or Mac.  It comes as a fully printed disc with cardboard sleeve, and shrink wrapped.

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here is  Pdf Slideshow, and a QuickTime Version of the same, that supplies all the written rules for DFII.  This is done by individual "topic" slides, each with a photographic illustration.  Tis allows for careful review of the text of the rules, and either may be uploaded to an iPad, and most other tablets for tableside reference. Full color.

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here are eleven PDFs that may be viewed or printed from the PDF:
1.
Designer's Notes-this covers not just the rules, but some recommendations on using this new method of presenting rules.  It also includes a two page bibliography.
1.
Cards- a complete front and back for the twelve card phase deck for DFII for either home or professional printing at your local digital printer.
2.
An Order of Battle sheet to record the officers and units in a command. 
3.
A Rule Summary sheet summarizing the key points of movement, combat, and rally. It includes basic rating for units, weaponry ranges, and other rules that are constantly refered to.  The rules are cross referenced to both the video, and slide show for easy reference.  
4. A two pager on
rating officers both using a random die method and a historical selection and rating using a standard card deck.
5. A one sheeter on recommended
game set-up procedures.
6. A one sheeter with the basic
Engineering and Sapping rules.
7. There is a
Rule Template for the Linear period from 1699-1770 that covers the rules in play, rating guide, and command set-up for this period including the Marlburian and SYW.  It has several period specific rules overlayed on the basic rules.
8.
A Wars of Revolution Template covering the period from 1771-1801, as above, but covering the AWI and The French Revolution.
9.
The Napoleonic Wars Template covering the period 1801-1815 including Europe and the US.
10.
The Wars of Transition Template-covering the period from 1861-1871 including the ACW, Austro-Prussian war, Maximilian, and the FPW, both Imperial and Republican period.
11.
The Colonial Wars Template from 1840-1902 covers the Colonial wars from Sikhs to Spanish American.  A new weapons table to cover later developments of weaponry is introduced.

The templates range in length from 7 to 9 pages of text.  All of the above PDFs, except for the slide shows, totalling over 100 pages of text, are in black and white to minimize ink costs in printing.  Not all are necessary to print as simply viewing and reading them is sufficient.  The slide shows and PdFs are not viewable on a DVD player, but only on a computer.  The Pdfs may be printed.

Full color deluxe versions of the cards, Order of battle sheet, and Rule Summary sheets will be made available in the near future.  Additionally, Special Card decks for the card selection method of officers and command will be forthcoming.

Die Fighting II has been based on some of the basic design concepts from Die Fighting, but is very different, and improved by many developments and new ideas over the last five years.  The introduction of a new phasing method, different combat mechanisms including the new Black Dice, the complete integration of ll game mechanics to a degree not seen in many rules, a new method of red die generation, and the new methods of set-up and victory conditions, have made DFII a very new experience.

The really good news is this DVD which provides vastly more information in full color than any rulebook costing $35-$50 or more, is available by first class mail for $26.00 plus $3 post in the US and $5 to England, Canada, Europe, or Australia/ New Zealand!  In an era of escalating rulebook costs, this rule set, now benefitting from nearly five years of play and development is a REAL bargain!  Its low shipping costs make it much cheaper than most rule books.

It is a new format, but it is, in my opinion very much more effective than a simple rulebook, but requires no more knowledge than needed to play a movie DVD, or access a computer disc file on your computer!  It exists in both digital, and print forms to allow anyone, regardless of their techical proficiency to use the rules. The master disk has been tested on a variety of PCs,Macs, and DVD players with no problems.

I must also say, as one that has written many rule sets over the years,dozens of articles, and kept the Zouave Blog full of AARs, Articles, and information for over 4 years,  that Die Fighting II is the best set of rules I have ver done.  It is innovative, unique in its nmecanisms, and provides a game that is eay to learn, and a lot of fun to play.  It is, in my mind, the perfect blend between history, technology, and classic wargame fun and laughter.  Try it, you'll like it!

The website will be revamped this weekend, and Pre-sales will begin on Die Fighting II on Monday morning! Past customers in my database will be given a discount for pre-ordering with a special discount for those that purchased Die Fighting after December 1st of 2013. . Estimated mailing of the copies is the last week of November.  They will be posted along with review copies as soon as I receive them from the production house.




Current Status of Die Fighting II



Die Fighting Mock-up

Things are progressing well with Die Fighting II! As I have noted in previous notes the video edit is complete. The Die Fighting Keynote Slide show is completed with both a Pdf version and a QT Film Version, and possibly a download link to an on-line Keynote and Powerpoint version. All have been tested and are perfect!

As of this moment, the printable Pdf elements are all being edited. Already completed are a two-sided Rule Summary sheet that is keyed by running time and slide number to the video and slide show, the Order of Battle Roster Template, and the Linear Warfare and Wars of Revolution period rules and Free Dice tables (in full color). The template for the Phase Cards is completed. The Napoleonic, Wars of Transition, and Colonial templates are still being edited. Also to be completed are the Pdf on Engineering, and the Designer Notes (that shall be the last thing completed, I’m sure). The notes will include suggested best practices for playing DF and a complete bibliography. These will all be completed this week. Finally, there will be a “READ ME FIRST!” page will helpful hints about how to use the disk and its contents.

The disc authoring is to be completed at the end of next week and/or the beginning of the following week. I repeat, this will be a fully chaptered video, and menued for all included printable items. It is to be an “Enhanced” or hybrid DVD, and will play on any disk drive, and all but the most dated DVD players. Regional restrictions will not be an issue. This should take one day. I am personally laying out the sleeve art for the disc (see above) and the disc art , and hope that will be completed this week as well.

This has been a HUGE undertaking entailing rounding up gamers from across the country for a one day shoot in Denver, Editing over three hours of video into the final 59:30 finished product, creating a slide show that serves as the basic core of the rules, and a tremendous review mechanism, and then tying up all the loose ends of the print materials, and then learning the finer points of DVD creation and artwork creation for the album sleeve and disc. It’s been challenging and a lot of fun-and I’ve learned about a number of new software packages in the process!

I feel that, barring any unforeseen problems, I’m about two weeks from duplication and posting for pre-sales. I will await the return of the discs for some random quality testing, and then post the deal both here and on the Yahoo! Site. At the moment, it appears that my estimation of a lower price than my past publications, and cheaper postage (especially to Europe) are proving to be accurate.

I shall be sending review copies to Henry Hyde at Miniature Wargames, Guy Bowers at Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, and Nicolas Stratigos at Vae Victus. All copies will be available only directly through me at this time, as I am planning a rather unique Customer/Player Support technique, that will be announced when DFII is released and that part of this project will be complete.

Now back to the editing and artwork design!







Status of DF and DFII


Opening Graphic DFII.001

First, I can announce that Die Fighting is completely sold out, and only my archival copies remain.  

DFII is proceeding nicely.  I have got the slideshow down to a final draft which is out for review with a couple of trusted sources from outside the group-to test many things, including its clarity.

The video will be in final edit this coming weekend.  All that will remain is a possible additional taping of some closing remarks.

The text materials (Cards, Play aids, OOB Roster, Rule Summaries,the five period templates, and the alternative card deck officer selection article) are being finished and brushed up this week.

What remains is art design for the disk and mailing package, and the creation of the final menu-ed master disk and the publishing of several hundred copies of that disk.

When the master disk is sent for the burning of the initial copies, I post the pre-sale notice, and all final pricing and discounts.  I will accept pre-orders at that time.  

The very few people that have seen some of the materials are very excited and encouraging.  I'm very happy with the development and assembly of DFII as well.  As I said, I believe it to be in form and content the very best thing I have done.

Yahoo! Silliness

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This is to let you know that the link to the Yahoo! forum on this site has been changed to the “New” addresses that Yahoo! arbitrarily dumped on everyone last night. If you cannot reach the forum on the old bookmark, you can go there using the new link here for the Forum Page. Refresh your browser and make sure the button on the main page to the left reads “Forum Page” (the old one did no).

You will be redirected to the Yahoo! site with the correct address. Bookmark that and you are fine. I have no idea exactly what Yahoo! did with their latest “fix”, but it certainly was a bit of bother!

The Die Fighting II Video Shoot




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Well, the day finally arrived and The 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM shoot of the video was done! This was followed by a pizza, beer, and wine at a wrap party and discussions that lasted until after 10 PM!

It all went very well, I was very pleased at the excellent on-camera abilities of the DF2 team to explain the rules and show by example exactly how they work.

This has been a very interesting project as it really isn’t simply a video presentation of a game, but, rather a video instruction format, where a step by step explanation of Die Fighting II is done by slide, still photo, and video clips of show and tell. In addition to a video that will run about an hour and will have a menu with topic points for quick reference, the disk will contain a Keynote/Powerpoint slide presentation that presents the main rules in the same sequence as the video. There will be Pdf’s included on the DVD that summarize the rules, provide-ready to print cards, a 2 page rule summary and major tables sheet, an example of the OOB sheet/roster, Six period specific rule templates with any tables peculiar to that period, and a separate Free (Green) Dice Table-all printable. In addition, there will be a READ ME! sheet advising how to best use the DVD and ancillary materials and some advice on printing the materials, buying dice, and any other materials needed to play. Finally, there will be a designer’s notes sheet that will summarize the design philosophy, key changes from Die Fighting, and try to answer the why’s and wherefore of the rules.

This is a VERY different set of rules, and a VERY different way of publishing them. I will be posting more information both here and on theYahoo! site (which you can access from the home page screen of the Repique rules site by hitting the Yahoo site button) as the edit proceeds.


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I especially want to thank the “Guys in the Band” who put up with the grind of production and kept such high spirits and good attitudes throughout the nearly nine hours of shooting video, and even better spirits (of many kinds) after the work was done and conversations went on into the night. “They were ready for their close-ups!” After the Getzcon of last year, perhaps this is becoming the TED conference of Wargaming!

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The Usual Suspects:

LtoR.: Chris Caudill, John Mumby, Freddie Avner, Adolfo Laurenti, Iain Black, Terry Shockey, Ed Meyers, Greg Rold, and Bob Jones. After a long day of production and discussion!

The Battle of Curasso AAR and DFII

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On July 19th the usual suspects (minus Terry and John who ran off to Historicon) played a somewhat smaller Die Fighting! battle, primarily to test some final touches for DFII. We wanted to nail down the sequence details, test new officer ratios and its effect on the officer driven red resource dice generation, and test the final tweak to combat mechanics using black dice.

The battlefield was kept relatively simple with a single town, a few Class II hills and Class III forests, a few objective markers using a new method of die generation for the army that takes it, and the forces were reduced from the last game. OOBs for the two armies may be found at the Yahoo! Site in the Files section in folder labeled The Battle of Curasso.

There was a hill on the Allied Left-French Right.

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A small village (Curasso) in the center.
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A small hill on the French left, which they occupied in a refused flank formation, and wood on the Allied right flank that the Austrian-Prussian Allied forces deployed to the right of in a compact formation.

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But before recounting the Battle, a little background on the rules used and the thinking of the commanders prior to deployment.

The Rules and the Tactical Thoughts of the Commanders.

This game was essentially used to test again several key changes and new concepts for Die Fighting II.

1. A new card phase sequencing procedure that will eliminate “card counting” (“Ahhh!” His remaining card must be the Reload, Rally, and Restore Card!&rdquoWinking and also add some tension to play.

2. Further testing of the new Officer Leadership Dice method of generating resource dice. This had been tested in our previous engagements in June, but we wanted to confirm those findings. This also involved new officer command stand ratios and limitations.

3. Further Testing of the new Black Die combat resolution procedures used in our previous two games.

4. Testing of the game resolution procedures, with some tweaks in response to a few minor issues that were raised.

All four areas were closely looked at and the general consensus was that it really brought the game together, increased tension and interest in decision making, and provided generally simpler and more dramatic outcomes that everyone enjoyed.

The new card sequencing method is very simple and easy to implement. The new phase decks will be made up of 12 potential cards for each side. The cards the numbers of each are: Specialized Actions (1 card), Officer Actions (1 Card), Cavalry Action (2 Cards), Infantry Actions (2 Cards), Artillery Action (1 Card), Rally, Restore, Reload, and Retreat (1 Card), The Creative X Factor (1 Card), Concede (1 Card), and two new cards - Brilliant Command Moment (1 Card), and Command Focus (1 Card). That is a total of 12 possible cards.

All the cards retain their same definitions from Die Fighting, except for The Rally, Restore, Reload, and Retreat card, which is used similarly, except that Retreat is added. Any unit that has a black die or dice, and is unrallied, will roll the black dice attached to that unit and retreat that distance from the enemy and toward the board edge.

The new cards will be defined in Die Fighting II.

Using just the eight basic cards-removing Creative X factor, Concede, and the two new cards- the gamers each shuffle their decks, and remove two cards which are set aside unseen. The remaining six cards are the phase deck for each side. Note that both sides decks will likely be different, not just in sequence, but in deck make-up! Your army may have double moves for infantry or Cavalry, but nothing for Artillery, Officers, or even more difficult, no RRRR card! You will never know the exact capacity for actions for your side or the enemy’s-even down to the last card!

This is an excellent change for DF, but may require one option I’ll mention in the AAR.

The use of Officer Dice as the initial generation of Resource dice for each command was adapted somewhat from the last game. We allowed each Officer to roll his Command dice twice prior to play-EXCEPT for the CinC who got a single roll. These rolls allowed a command to place the total rolled in red dice in their command’s bucket. Prior to battle the CinC could distribute his dice to any or all of his sub commander’s buckets as he chose, or he could hold onto as many as he desired.
Thereafter, the commanders would roll on the RRRR card and replenish their Resource Dice by that total. The CinC would also roll, but could only distribute the dice on an RRRR card, and by using the the same procedure as distributing command dice-hoping to roll a higher number of pips that the inches that separated him from the command stand he wished to aid. It worked flawlessly.

The black dice procedures completely replaced those in the rule book. The core concept was that if you lost a combat roll by more than 6 pips (which you could “buy down&rdquoWinking then you were forced to retreat in disorder 6” PLUS the roll of whatever Black dice were attached to that unit. You were again open to retreat on the next RRRR card. This is a very neat rule change and will be standard in DFII.

The game resolution rules were the final development of changes that started many games ago. In essence, if any command suffers a loss to one of its units that it cannot pay from its stock because it is out of Red resource dice, then all units in that command are considered disordered, and may only use whatever Green Dice they are entitled to on the Free Dice Table, and any Yellow Command dice that are sent to roll against any further combat attacks of any sort. They may not advance upon or initiate any form of combat upon the enemy. They may only defend. They may retreat using any Green dice, Command Dice, and black dice for distance. This must be directly away from the enemy and toward a board edge.

If during the turn, an RRRR card appears, they may roll for resource dice, and all units that do not have a black die are considered ordered again, and may behave as usual without any penalty.

Needless to say, this has a tendency to snowball and disabuse any commander of continuing on for much longer, and, at the very least to place the Concede card in the next turn’s Phase deck!

ALL of the new mechanics worked like a charm, and a great time was had by all, even the losers.

The Battle:

The battle was a pretty straight up one with deployments as stated above. For this game we rolled for Commander capabilities and both sides had some disappointments-the Allies Austrian Command was a dismal “Inept” with only 1 command die! (eugene had been badly wounded in a recent previous battle and was feverish from his wounds.) The ratings of units were mixed, though again the Austrians were a sorry lot for the allies and the French Left wing had some distinct problems as well. See the folder “ Battle of Curasso” in the Files section of the Yahoo! site.

We used a command ratio of about 9:1 for both forces with each side having 3 commands of about 9-10 units each and 1 CinC, of course. DFII will use a significant higher ratio for all forces, with none lower than 6:1 and most hovering around 8-10 to one. A few (Russians at Narva, Prussians in 1806) may have as many as 12-14 units to a single command stand!

On the initial Resource dice roll the lowly Austrian commander rolled a 3, which even with the CinC augmenting their supply was only a dozen or so. Likewise, the French Left wing was woefully short of dice.

I played, along with Ed Meyers, on the Allied side, and after noting our command and unit rating weaknesses decided we should play defense with the possible exception of on he left where the Dutch with superior command and good troops-especially the cavalry-offered a chance at Objective dice on the hill and some offensive gains.

Set-up

We used our usual system of die rolls for deployment with the winner forcing the other side to deploy one command. We got the better of that by far and had a pretty good idea of their positioning prior to our deployments.

We noted the refused, flank on our left, which might indicate weakness. However, since the woefully weak Austrians were opposite them we had no real way to exploit that possibility.

Objective markers for 8 dice were at most road exits 4-5 dice were to be had for sections of the village and the crossroads. The hill on the Allied left/ French Right was a 6 die hill. If captured, the commander of the capturing forces was allowed to roll the number of dice stated and collect that many additional red resource dice. ( Friendly road exits and village sections closest to each force had value only for the opposing side.)

Both commanders shuffled the phase cards, as described above, and we began.

The initial moves

We had initially decided to play defense on the allied side, but two of our first three cards were cavalry move! We lost all discipline and launched a strong cavalry attack by the Dutch on the left, and I thought I would demonstrate with the Austrian Cavalry on the Right in an attempt to draw the French forces to attack in that sector.

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The latter move was very wrongheaded. The French opened up with artillery which caused the Austrian horse several red die losses in addition to those spent on moving. I decided to pull the Austrians back out of harm’s way. All in all, it was an unnecessary loss of red dice, that served no purpose, and I didn’t have too much of a margin out there anyway, with less than a dozen dice in the bucket.

In the center I sent British foot and Dragoons forward to invest the village, which was matched by the French sending their center command forward to do the same. He immediately seized the part of the village closest to his forces denying bonus dice to the Allies. Likewise the Allies took the Church and denied the French bonuses as well. The only section worth anything to both side swas the blue roofed section and the crossroads itself.

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On the Allied left the Dutch moved out to take the hill and attack the French left Flank. The French also advanced. It appeared that this might be the decisive front. The Dutch had the most resource dice of any command, but the French command was loaded with Maison Rouge troops such as the Gendarmes, Mousquetiers, The French and Swiss Guards and the redoubtable French Carabinier du Roi. They also were under the command of the superb Boufflers. Overkirk may not prove to be his match.

Stalemate on the Allied Right; The center starts to look dodgy, and a decisive outcome on the Left.

As the turn developed, and the Allies got a second cavalry move, the Dutch galloped forth to seize the high ground and to deal with the French Horse opposing them. The Athlone horse support by the 2nd Jyske Danish Horse rode up the hill. The commander of the Dutch was worried enough about getting to the objective first that he expended couple of command dice to accelerate his advance. This would prove costly in time.


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The Athlone Horse did take the objective (a 6 die roll-netted 19 Resource dice added to the Overkirk bucket) but as they cleared the crest of the hill supported by the Danes, the saw immediately ahead the Mousquetiers du Roi and The Carabiniers du Roi. The lines crashed together in a massive cavalry battle. The Carabiniers were surprised by the Dutch advance and were still deploying from column. The edge certainly appeared to be with the Allied Horse.

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However, Villars and the redoubtable Boufflers, were both nearby and through their staff and command into the fray as they saw the importance of this engagement. They had not spent any command dice prior to this massive cavalry melee. They now sent every one they had to the Mousquetiers and carabiniere-eight in all!

Overkirk threw in his command dice as well but could only muster three command dice. Marlborough was preoccupied in the center and too far from the action to lend any help. Overkirk’s horse did have the advantage in the attack dice thanks to catching the carabiniers in minor disarray, but when the crunch came the French out rolled them, Bouflers officers had whipped the carabiniers into reasonable order prior to the melee, and the fact the French horse was Elite and Guard, gave them just enough to through the Allied horse backward in retreat at a combined loss about equal to what they had gained for the objective.


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In the center, the French aggressively advanced and took the sections of the village nearest to them, while the British sent Lloyd’s dragoons to take the town Church section. The remaining section was going to be a scrap(and the only section that had value for either army as the others only gave dice to their opponents if taken). The Bavarians under Maximilian led by the Royal Italians, respondent in their brown and red jackets advanced on this objective, The English sent Orkney’s First Foot forward in a race for the village.The Allies also sent Hay’s Dragoon off to secure part of the wood to their right as a precaution.

On the Allied Right the demonstration by the Austrian cavalry had proven unwise (since they lost dice to artillery fire, and they had so few) they were immediately called back and resumed their initial position on the flank. At that point the French opposite them were content to observe and evidenced no aggressive intentions.

For Want of an RRRR card.

On the last card turn for the final phase of the initial turn it became apparent that the Allies were not going to get an RRRR card in that turn. No added Resource dice, and no restoration of command dice until the second turn!!! This was ascribed to certain command confusion on the Allies part, but it had the added problem that the Allied force had used all the command dice on the left, and a few in the center-and they needed them replaced quickly!

They had lost the cavalry battle on the left, but that force was still pretty well set with Resource Dice, but without command dice it was not wise to continue the attack. They opted to wait.

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In the center, the French got an infantry move and narrowly won the race to the village. From their protected position the English First foot could not maintain any long term firefight-and didn’t have enough Resource dice to risk a high loss attack. It’s only choice was to retreat out of musket range.

Maximilian got a five dice roll of 16 dice to add to his command bucket and was feeling pretty good about stepping up his attack in the center.

Farther to the right, Hay’s Dragoons made it to the woods, but the French left, given their army’s successes across the front lines, had suddenly become more active and sent Boufflers Dragoons forwards to contest the wood, and the French line on the hill, made up of Navarre, Picardie, and Tallard, stepped off in unison advancing on the Allied Right Center.

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The Austrians were so bereft of Resource Dice, Command Dice, and any meaningful role in the fight, they simply hunkered down in their positions.

The English sent troops forward to stop the French advance, but they, too, were running short of Resource dice. There was going to be one chance, and that was to halt the French attack in the right center at the woods, at least momentarily until the Resource and command dice could be restored. A Massive firelight broke out in the woods and to the left of the woods.

At first, the Allies had some success as Hay’s Dragoons drove off the French Dragoons, but after this initial victory, the weight of the French attack began to tell. They artfully fired off several volleys that the English troops, outnumbered as they were, were hard pressed to equal. The last few English command dice were used by Orkney, but on the second volley the Orkney’s command ran out of Resource dice as well.

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This threw his command into disorder, and left them unable to carry out any offensive moves against the French. They were now easy pickings for the advancing French. They had no choice but to fall back. Marlborough glanced along his lines. The Dutch, as best had a stand off, the center was disordered, out of dice, and had to fall back. The Austrians were so bereft of quality, command, and resource dice as to be worthless.

He began a fall back on the next infantry card, and even though the Allies did FINALLY get a RRRR card on the last card of the turn-shuffled in the Concede for the next turn, which fortunately came up first!

Conclusions

The battle, though smaller than some of our past engagements, still mustered nearly 30 combat units on a side, plus four officer stands ( CinC and 3 sub-commanders) per side. So 65 units of all sorts were in play. It was resolved in roughly three hours, with quite a bit of action.

The Allies should have stuck to their plan to play more defensively, but were suckered into excessive aggressiveness by the added Infantry and cavalry moves in the initial turn. Just because you can move, doesn’t mean you should! We had a force with 1/3 of its effectives under inept command and lacking Resource Dice when the battle began. We had a legitimate chance for victory with the Dutch attack, but tactically were outmaneuvered. Other than the Dragoons taking the Church, the English should have been stalwart on the defense. WE simply misplayed the “hand” we were dealt.

The French, on the other hand, played their army extremely well, aggressive on their right with great concentration of command, and exploiting the perceived weakness as it appeared in the center.

However,the absence of an RRRR card on the first turn was decidedly crippling and put our already weak forces in dire straits very quickly.

The Tested Rules

All of the new changes were very much liked, though there was concern about the severity of missing an RRRR card which has, in the basic deck, a 25% chance of occurring. On one hand some players expressed a certain appreciation of the “Piquet” nature of such an adversity, while others wondered if it might be softened somewhat. This is especially true if it were to happen more than once. The average DF game runs about 4-5 turns.

Two suggestions were offered that could be used:

1. A player could only miss the RRRR card once in a game, on every turn thereafter that card is held out and the phase cards are selected from the remaining 7 cards, with the RRRR card shuffled in. This guarantees its appearance in the following turns.

2. If you have not received the RRRR card by your last phase card of the turn, you can sacrifice the last card of whatever type and do RRRR for any ONE command (not the whole army).

Web are testing these, and they will be offered as alternatives in DFII.

Now it’s on to the taping of DFII on August 23rd. The crew has been assembled and the rules are pretty well structured out. Lights! Cameras! Action! is the motto.

Opening Graphic DFII.001

The Development of Wargames and DF II!


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My first rule set “La Guerre” circa 1972

I saw a recent thread on TMP about how often people want a new edition of the game. One of the largest groups of gamers stated, “Never.” They wanted the game to never change, require no future development, and to,” Just make it perfect from the beginning.”

I laughed a bit on reading that, as nothing could be farther from my own feelings on the subject. To be sure you wanted a good initial product, one that provided some fresh ideas, and with a little effort from the gamer produce a fun game, but then I thought back on my own experiences.

When I design games, I am looking for fresh ways to get at various historical issues on the table top that offer original and different approaches to history and game play. I want gamers to experience something new; something challenging; and something that is not just warmed over left-overs from past game designers and rules.

So many new sets of historical miniature rules are very, very derivative, and seem almost fossilized remnants of games from years ago. If that is what a designer wants to do, and if that’s what you as a gamer want-then, yes, you should expect a nearly perfect and unchanging set, because, in a sense, they have been written and rewritten many times before.

I must admit if I see a new set of rules and , upon glancing into them, I see a fixed turn sequence, roll a six hits, saving throws, fixed move distances, troop point values, and pages of army lists-I put them down and move on. Nothing new here! They may be perfectly good rules, and enjoyed by some gamers, they just aren’t going to provide me with anything novel or surprising. I can assume that, within their well-established patterns, they will play reasonably well, but will they lead to many new ideas? Doubtful.


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The many faces of Piquet. Over 20 variants, spin-offs, and descendants

All of the rules I have written in the last 20 years have had a rather different development from that. In the case of Piquet, I brought the rules out after about three years of play and testing. In their use of a variable card sequencing deck, sliding polyhedral dice (d8-D10-D-4 etc.) and the constant threat of unequal opportunity for each gamer they ere very different. So different I created a video to actually demonstrate a turn. (that didn’t prevent one player from using all the cards in one deck!!!) It raised some very strong objections to the design, and some equally strong proponents.

Moreover, it wasn’t even hot off the press before my group and many customer’s groups began to play with changing some of the rules. I encouraged this and even described the rules as a toolbox to be tinkered with and adapted to one’s own tastes and preferences.

Piquet begged to be tinkered with and embraced attempts to experiment with unusual cards, new initiative dice roll systems, and all sorts of modified ways to use the combat dice. It was this environment that lead to Piquet II a mere three years after the original publication. I sold Piquet to Brent Oman in 2000, but the experimentation and tinkering continued among a growing group of gamers, and eventually Brent’s original take in FOB and FOBII grew out of those experiments and further development. In a sense the lineage of Piquet and its development led to at least four permutations and constant growth over 20 years.

Rondel and Rules
Zouave I and II 2010 and 2011

Zouave was my first attempt after returning from a hiatus from gaming, and there too, I tried to create an original way to get at grand tactical level miniature wargaming. In that design I deliberately tried to create a large scale game for the period 1861-1871 that handled operational and divisional gaming without losing the tactical elements. It was developed over a two year period and released in 2010. But here again, the game was not a frozen formula that was forever trapped in its initial form. Within a year I had run across Rondels which quite elegantly replaced a system of coins used in Zouave to track order states. One use of the rondel resulted in such a better design that I immediately brought out Zouave II in mid- 2011. I simply could not let a superior system not become the standard for the game.

Now, I bought back all unsold Zouave from my distributors at some noticeable loss to me, and offered the previous Zouave purchasers a discount on the new edition. Those that had the initial edition still possessed a good ruleset that we had played for nearly three years prior to the Rondel change. This was an extreme case of rapid development to a second edition but I never regretted it.

DF Book
Die Fighting 2011

Die Fighting has taken an even better course. It was, as Piquet, a very different approach to the tactical miniature wargame. It incorporated variable sequencing with a number of variant sequences listed in the rules, It made almost every action on the tabletop; movement, combat, and command a variable that could not be predicted or be totally assured. It simplified the die types to a standard D6, but used them in very unique ways; the primary one being that certain dice, the red resource dice, were used up and when gone-you lost! This linked capability with combat losses and ultimately army morale with one single united device a red die! It even had a proposed scoring
system!

We played Die Fighting for over two years before its 2011publication, and now we have played an average of 9-12 games a year for the last three years. In that time, we, again, have experimented and tried several ideas and new approaches that over this period have changed the game and provided a lot of new, and better, game mechanisms.

This period has seen the introduction of an additional die, the Black Die, that allows an improved combat and battle loss effect on movement and rally. The creation of the multiple bucket concepts that allows DFII to be a great multi-player game with immense convention play possibilities. The marvelous additional dimensions given to officers and their profiles. Numerous small adjustments to the period rules and tables, and fleshing out of a few rules, and the elimination of a few that simply didn’t work as well as the new systems.

Black DiceMulti-bucketBoufflers, Berwick


Most of all the new sequencing system was the last element needed before I knew a new edition was needed. All the older systems could be used, but I have become very fond of our latest way to use time in the wargame. The time has come for a new edition!

However, I am not planning to do another print edition, nor am I planning some iPad e-book, which I looked into closely. This time I want something that gets Repiquerules into the digital age, avoids the limitations of printed edition both in size and utility, booklet storage demands, and shipping costs that increase on constant basis. I am actually going to return to my roots as a TV producer and crank out the first VIDEO historical miniature rule book. This product will be done in a very unique and different style. It will play on any DVD or computer device, and will allow a full color, full sound, professional “How-to” on how to play Die Fighting II.

Studio

Every rule will be shown step by step in a game example. All tables and a few summaries will be in full color for you to print and use.

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Think about all the war-games you ever played and how many of you learned to play them. You often did it by watching other gamers and being coached by them when you finally got into the game. Every possibility was pointed out to you. Every misstep was corrected by SHOWING YOU how it was done. Sure you occasionally had to review the rules, but, on the whole, you merely absorbed the game by watching and doing. It was not uncommon for only a couple of people to actually throughly read the rules, and then they taught everyone else the gaming system.

This is what DFII will do. I expect new players can be up and running within an hour of watching the video and consulting the tables. New ideas or questions can be answered by looking at an example, not trying to decipher cryptic phrases in a rule book. Remember the old party game of trying to tell a person how to unbutton and take off a raincoat? How much easier to show them how do it!

The director of the video is a professional that has produced several hundred hours of programming with a specialty in how-to instructional videos, The cameraman is an experienced free-lancer using the latest camera and lighting equipment. The editor has edited two award winning educational videos, and numerous instructional short pieces. I will be primary talent on camera, joined by a cast of long time war gamers who are familiar with the Die Fighting rules. I will write the script along with the director.

I’m still running the numbers on this project, but I think there will be some real economies for both the publisher (me) and the customers. Even better, the cost of shipping discs is considerably less than bigger and increasingly heavier print rulebooks.

DVD:CD


The package right now appears to be two disks; a DVD with the video rules, and a CD with the full color tables, summaries, cards and period rules. These can be printed by you. I will offer as deluxe add-ons top quality card versions of the QRS, Tables, and information materials and professionally done cards. Updates and new ideas will be put on the Yahoo! site as print updates, but annual Video Update Editions will be made available on DVDs as needed.

Shooting for the project is planned for late August with a September release. Anyone who purchased DF in the past six months will get a special steep discount on DFII, past website customers will get a pre-publication discount on DFII, and a special sale of my very few remaining copies of DF at a reduced price will be announced in the next week.

More information will follow as this exciting project proceeds. Please ask any questions at the Yahoo! Site. Suggestions are also welcome.

Officers-Salute the Rank!

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In writing my last blog entry on “The Battle of Mouzon,” and thinking on the way both the FOB game and the DF game were affected by the quality of the officers, I began to reflect on larger issues of game design where officer quality impacts our view of battles, and our wargame designs.

I’ve often felt that game designers and players seem to reflect in their choice of rules their attitudes on many things, including the role of officers. In many games, especially during the Horse and Musket period, the officers are a slight up modifier or a penalty for the units they command. Gamers are very willing to give great consideration to all sorts of minor differences of drill, exaggerated “national differences”, conjectured capabilities of various units, or very slight advances in technology, but officers? Not so much.

Part of this stems, I think from the very simple fact that most present day gamers have not served in the military, and of those who have, the great majority have been enlisted ranks, with the highest command level of sergeant. This accounts for the great popularity of skirmish and squad level games, and the limited role of officers in larger battle’s gameplay. It also explains a certain lack of understanding and appreciation of the officer and the intricacies of command both organizationally and in terms of leadership.

And yet, when we look at the history of battles, officers on all levels, but especially of divisional, corps, or commanding officer responsibility, and their capabilities, are usually the surest predictor of success or failure of a fighting force, not the vaunted fierceness of a few troops, or the dominance of a particular organizational or technological advantage.

Gaston Bodart wrote a book called “Losses of Life in Modern War” In which he analyzed the losses of French and Austrian officers in those two armies over a 300 year period, and found that the French lost more officers in the period 1805-1815 than the Austrian’s did from 1618-1913! He used this information to suggest that the success of French arms in the Napoleonic Wars may have had something to do with leading from the front!

I have slowly come to the conclusion that Officers are another class of units that are important, and often unique, to an army’s functioning and chances of victory. Most rules have very elaborate and defined roles for the infantry units, the cavalry units, artillery, and even the engineering and support units, but officers, are, at best, a plus or minus 1 or 2 and often denote units that can move or not if they are located nearby (in command, etc.).

In DF they are MUCH more than that. They are the source of very necessary command dice to be added to rolls for movement, combat, and even more for morale. They can often determine the successful reaching of an objective, success in combat, and the alacrity of a rally. They are, however, not unlimited in initial number, they can be used up in a turn, and the distance that they may be “transmitted” to a unit is very much determined by the quality of a commander.

There is much more to them than just the command dice, as flawed generals, or exceptional leaders are given distinctive differences in their battle behaviors, and additional ways they can affect units.

They are now “units” in the game, just as the combat arms are, but their offensive capabilities are expressed through the movement, performance, and morale of units-just as they were in actual battle.


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If anything, in the first iteration of DF there were too many officers allowed on the tables provided. As we gamed over the years, we discovered the profound affect they have on battle in the DF rules. This has led to increasingly lower numbers of officers allowed. Our typical games in the WSS now have a ratio of about 1 officer per 6 units-plus a CinC. This is for armies of about 25-30 combat units. Certainly, even a very good army should not be at a ratio of less than 4-1including the CinC. In DFII one of the significant changes will be these ratios, which will probably be 5-1 for “the Best”, to 6-1 for average, to 7 or 8-1 for poorer armies (The Russians at Narva, The French in 1870, the Prussian 1806 army, etc.) This effectively halves the officer units from the initial DF rules.

I have also added a new method of profiling the officers. Rather than just rolling them up-which is still quite viable-I now write profiles on each officer stand that are based on history as to their overall capability and any flaws or advantages they may have. Each such profile is associated with a certain card in a suit (Hearts for French, Diamonds for allies-though sometimes other suits are used for Spanish, Bavarian, or Prussian leaders). Prior to the game the players pull cards from a deck of cards-this establishes their command structure (officers) for that game. They can then assign them to the various commands. Each officer profile has a priority number-the highest must be CinC. This insures that Marlborough, or Villars would have precedence in our WSS battles, for instance.

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In any case, my officers-each mounted-sometimes with staff-on a single 2 1/2” circular stand are thought of as units to be used intelligently in planning the battle-just as we think of where certain units of cavalry and infantry are placed, and guns are sited; so we also consider which officers should be given certain tasks, given their personalities, and just where they should be located to best serve their command. Leading from the front is still rewarded.

There is the danger of an officer being lost. This is usually caused by a test which we now use; If any unit in an officers immediate command acquires a black die, he must roll a D6 for each such occurance- a 1 indicates immediate death, with newly rated or chosen officer appearing on the next RRR phase; A 2 roll indicates a wounding-he loses 1 command die for each wound suffered. If all his command dice are lost he is dead of his wounds.

In any case, these profiles allow the great historically-based personalities of a period to enter our games, and also makes each officer stand a thoughtfully used unit of battle, and not just an afterthought. It gives our officer corps a little more respect!

In the latest game we played, The “A Different Battle Along the Alva,” posted yesterday on this blog, we took the roles of the officers up even further! Instead of calculating the Red Dice for each army based on the assigned troop values prior to the game as a combined total of usually hundreds of dice, we, instead, rolled each commands and the CIC’s command dice prior to the first turn, and then again on each RRR card, thus generating their Resource Dice throughout the game based on officer dice rolls. This meant each player had far fewer dice at any given time, and the danger of overextending himself, or being too rash, and having his command’s dice bucket go empty was much more an issue.

The CIC also rolled at the same time as the sub-commanders, but his role was to apportion his dice to commanders as he saw a need. He had to do this on an RRR card. The method of distribution was made identical to the distribution of yellow command dice. He had to roll his command dice to transfer a designated bunch of dice. If he failed, the dice were lost, if he made the roll they were placed in the sub-commander’s bucket. This meant the CIC had to consider his position relative to other commanders, and a better commander had more latitude than a poor one.

If a sub-commander’s bucket went empty, his command’s units were considered disorder/out of command and thereby gave a one die advantage to any attacker. They also, obviously, had no Red dice to add to their rolls , but could add yellow and green dice as warranted. Any losses were as usual with possible black dice added to his problems. If, at any later point, red dice were acquired the units would lose their disorder without rally and be considered under command again. However, any black dice acquired and distance retreated remained.

Any commander with disordered/out of command troops could move them away from the enemy and toward his own shortest line of retreat from the field using green and yellow dice, and ADD any black dice to this roll. They COULD NOT move toward the enemy or initiate any form of combat, but only respond if attacked.

This system worked elegantly, I think, and all gamers seemed to like it. It cut set-up time to near zero, as no calculations of dice needed to be made, fewer dice are required overall, and game resolution was, if anything, shortened. It added great tension to the game, and made the “energy” to maneuver and fight contingent on command, not the units themselves. The units assumed a more proper role as the instruments of battle, not the motivator of it. It accented better command in a way few games presently do.

It is such a striking advance in game play that It has made me more committed than ever to do Die Fighting II soon. Very soon! There will be an announcement in a few days concerning this matter-that may prove VERY surprising!

A Different Battle along the Alva River



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We recently played a large battle along a fictional river line with nearly 40 units on a side and two players on each team. It was a standard deployed set-battle piece with all arms well represented set in the War of Spanish Succession Period using my ever-growing 28mm WSS figures.

It was, however, markedly different from any Die Fighting game we had played before, because many of the main rule premises had been dramatically changed in order to test several new ideas I had been thinking about.

I am, as many who know me well will attest, always trying out new ideas, and seldom letting any rule set I play, or develop, rest on its laurels and be declared finished and cast in stone! Frankly, I can’t understand why anyone would do so. The joy of gaming and game design for me is the new idea, a different twist, and pushing the envelope so as to discover whole new ways of illustrating battle on a table top.

Lately, my thoughts had become more centered on the role of officers in battles, particularly in the Horse and Musket period, and the crucial nature of their leadership, skills, and ability to inspire. I was also eager to explore some new methods of using the red resource dice in the game, and trying some radically different methods of sequencing.

I warned the game crew that this one was going to be different, and with much good humor they said, “Bring it on!”

The battle terrain was set out to provide a wide range of tests for the new ideas, and also to be fairly balanced. Here’s a view from the table end:

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There was a variety of terrain ranging from a class II river, Class II and class III woods, a vineyard (III across, I along vines)some chateaux, croplands, two small villages. There were no hills, this was the river valley. Another view from the far end:

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The commanders reviewed the scene and deployed their extensive armies:

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Chris Caudill and Greg Rold (Allies) Terry Shockey and Ray Levesque (French)

Now, some background on the rule changes.

There were three major changes, and most tactical movement and combat rules remained unchanged as did the various Rules of Six.

The first major change was the turn sequencing. Instead of any of the methods covered in the rule book the sequencing was changed as follows:

1. Both commanders would roll a single D6 for which phase of the turn they would be in. If they rolled a 1, it was Specialized action, If a 3, it would be cavalry action, and a 6 would be Reload, Rally, Restore. The two commanders would be on entirely different phases.

2. Each turn still had 6 phases, and if an army rolled the same phase as before they would repeat that phase. The only phase that could not be repeated was RRR, which would be treated as a action-less phase by the army if re-rolled. AT the end of 6 phases, the RRR card would be available if rolled.

3. If both armies rolled the same phase, nether took action, though it still counted as a phase of the turn.

The result was there was no way of predicting when or if you would get a certain phase. This added a lot of suspense to the turns, but also had a few drawback that I will discuss below.

The second change was how red resource dice were generated. In a standard game you simply add up the unit worth totals, adjust by plus or minuses, and that is how many red resource dice you possess. This may then be broken down into multiple buckets using those rules, but that is how you generate the initial red dice. Resource dice can also be acquired by enemy units eliminated by catastrophic loss or retreat from the field, and by taking certain objectives.

Because of my latest thoughts on the worth of officers to an armies capability, I made radical change to the system for this game. Now each separate sub commander and the CIC would each, individually, roll their officer dice (ranging from 2 to 5) and that sum would be their initial red resource dice in their bucket. On each following RRR card they would roll again and add that sum. This use of the officer dice did not count against their use as additional dice in tactical situations, which was played as per the standard rules. (i.e. the use of the dice for RRR generation did not remove them from play. Only if used to tactically augment a unit loses a command die in a turn.)

The sub-commanders were only rolling for the units under their command and kept a separate bucket for their command that could only be applied to their troops. The CIC could allocate any dice in his bucket, in any proportion, on any turn; However, it could only be done on a RRR card.

The method of the CIC distributing his dice would be identical to the existing method of distributing Yellow Command Dice. He would roll his command dice to determine whether the assigned dice made it to his sub-commander. He had to roll a number equal to, or larger, than the distance in inches between them. If his roll failed the resource dice were lost. This made sure that better commanders had, in effect, a larger, more effective, command range, and that the CIC should try to stay reasonably close to a crisis. This was to play a large role in the test game.

This also meant that each commander had far fewer dice initially than in previous games, and even with a pre-game roll, there was a pause as the two forces built up capacity for the attacks. (More on that below)

The third major change was what happened when a commander ran out of resource Dice for his units?

In our past games, the game simply ended when one side had a sub-command out of dice, and the other still had dice. Clean and quick. This often took several turns and a few hours as both sides started with many, many more dice-literally hundreds. This was not true for this new approach. Judging just what could be expended for movement, and in combat became much more difficult. In fact, given that the losses from combat, and/or the catastrophic or retreat loss of a unit could still be many dice and a commander could be quickly embarrassed.

So the meaning of an empty bucket was changed. If a commander was out of dice, and could not “Pay” for his combat losses to an enemy, all units in his command went disorganized (giving the enemy a die advantage) and they could not advance, or engage the enemy in combat). Any combat that was forced upon them was waged as normal, except they, of course, had no red dice to contribute. This would generally mean, along with their disorganized status, a minimum loss of three dice from the usual mix-and led to almost certain defeat by the unit. The acquisition of Black Dice from losses would then accelerate the process even more.

Now, they were allowed to retreat away from the enemy using green dice, any black dice,and officer dice alone. They were allowed if good fortune struck and an RRR card came up, or the CIC got them some dice on the RRR card, to immediately lose the disordered status and again advance on the enemy. However, any black dice acquired while devoid of Resource dice remained.

We found that the added tension and decision making issues were really excellent. I am testing again as this may be the new”standard” system. It also wrapped up the game in a satisfying and even more rapid fashion than the old system. It fit in with my new ideas about the effect of officers.

These were the major changes affecting play, though a minor change of selecting officers by card draw was used and expanded. Simply put, actual historical leaders were put on a grid with each card from a suit indicating one of the officer for an army. each leader was given a three number rating on his officer dice-such as 5-5-5 or 4-3-3, or 3-2-2 or 3-3-2. a single d6 was rolled with a 5-6 giving the high “Good Day” value, a 3-4 meaning and average, and a 1-2 meaning a “bad”day for that officer. Certain other traits could be added that fit his historical personality. See the materials in the files section of the Yahoo! site for particulars. This method is an alternative to the random roll method, and not meant as a replacement. Depending on scenario either one might be more desirable. I like the card draw because it allows the actual historical character of general’s to be brought to play.

THE GAME PLAY

Because there was little need for dice calculation prior to play the game got off to a quick beginning and deployment was done by die rolls with each loser of a die roll required to place one command on the table. The initial deployments were very typical with a double line on each side with the Allies hugging the bank of the Alva, and the French anchoring on the villages and chateaux in their half of the battlefield. The allies had drawn a good command made up of Marlborough, Cadogan, and Eugene of Savoy. The French had the Steady Boufflers a very average Elector of Bavaria, and the excellent James, Duke of Berwick. The allies got their commanders on a good day, but the French found their command on a typical day.

The pre-turn rolls for Resource Dice left everybody feeling a bit unready for action, and their buckets looked much sparser than they were used to. Caution reigned, and only some preliminary cavalry advances, including both sides sending dragoons off into the woods were attempted.

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The dragoons contest the central wood

As luck would have it the allied dragoons stumbled upon a French officer scouting the woods, the red-haired Jean de la Mumbie, and captured him almost in the opening moments. He was treated well and offered Dutch beer and mutton prepared by an English cook, but he claimed he was being tortured by the enemy!

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Jean de la Mumbie captured by Hay’s and Lloyd’s dragoons

After the initial gathering of forces the Allíes took the initiative and attacked on both flanks with the Dutch-English-Danish on their left, and the Austrians under Eugene on the right.

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The Dutch-English advance on the French Bavarian Right Flank

This gave the French some concern as the Bavarian force on their right was quite weak, and even with the Clare and Royal Italien regiments using the vineyard as cover, they weren’t too sure about the command.

On the French left their Spanish cavalry and infantry under Berwick was their strongest force, but it was opposite Eugene and his Austrian veterans. Berwick immediately advanced on the attack just South of the left Flank Village, across the bridge, and possibly across the shallow Alva on the far left.

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Navarre, The Spanish Guards, and the Old Yellows Advance

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The Spanish Horse leads the French North of the Bridge While Conde Chevau-leger cross the bridge. The Austrian Cavalry and Infantry await. Note The Piedmont Yellow Dragoons South of the bridge. They were to be crucial.

The next turn was the point of decision. The French were feeling pretty good about their left flank attack against the Austrians, but the command deficiencies started to show. They never could never seem to roll an Officer Action (#2) card and when they did the Allies would roll the same negating the phase from the turn.

Their initial placement of the CIC (Boufflers) was too far from Berwick to risk sending Resource Dice, and Berwick was paying often and frequently to fuel the attack, and in losses, particularly from the Piedmont Dragoons across the river. Austrian Extra Heavy Artillery was also having steady and constant small effect. But, Boufflers never seemed to realize his danger and even with the players shouting at him remained motionless in the Center of the French position as No 2s were rolled, and when they did it was countered by a duplicate allied roll!

Berwick realized his danger and tried to slow the attack but the Allies then began a counter-attack. It was devastating. The Dragon Piedmonte fired a round and then saddled up and advanced on the French Navarre regiment and the Spanish infantry. They were well supported by the Austrian Alt-Daun Regiment and the Dutch Guard. Berwick’s resource dice plummeted and suddenly his bucket was empty. There was no RRR card to bolster him, and Boufflers could not assist from his distant position. The Left buckled as fire and melee against dispirited troops sent them reeling backwards from the field.


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The collapse of the French Left. Louis’ Wine wagon is in peril!


The rout extended North of the Bridge as well, as Berwick’s command crumbled.

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Austrian Hussars see an enemy running!!!

And, of course, once things fall apart, it can easily snowball! The Allied Dragoons took the woods. The Allied Left was closing in on the poor Bavarian troops. One look at his dissolving left and Boufflers retired his army from the action to fight another day.

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Berwick Recules!

The battle lasted for about three hours with over 70 units on the table and two players per side. Greg Rold and Chris Caudill played expertly, as usual, and the French players, Terry Shockey and Ray Levesque, did the best they could given their unforeseeable command problems. The test was viewed enthusiastically by the players involved and, with adjustments, further games will be played with these concepts. Additional materials may be found in the files section of the Yahoo! site.

Conclusions

As it was a test game, there were many surpasses for everyone involved, and some changes of tactics were obviously to be considered. Some rules will be modified in the future tests.

1. The gamers will be allowed a double roll of their command dice prior to the first move to insure a suitable initial energy and get the units moving more quickly.

2. I felt the die rolling for phases slowed things up a bit, and certainly provided some anomalies such as the French lack of mobility with their officers. It did provide interest with double moves, and missing phases that were nice, I just think it might be done more efficiently. In the next game I’m using another approach.

There will be a double deck of six phase cards for each side ( the 6 phases twice with Concede and Creative removed) that will be shuffled and then cut in half by sight unseen discarding 6 cards. The six cards that are left are active for the turn. They are placed face down and used in order with a standard single initiative roll at the beginning of that turn determining who gets to choose to go first or second.

If that deck contains any duplicate cards, they may be used as per normal until all six cards in the deck are used in a turn. This could allow multiple of any card up to two, and it could mean certain phases are not present at all! If both sides pull the same phase they may both use it.

At any point the commanders may introduce a creative card (no duplicate) if called for by a scenario or a Concede card (no duplicate) if they wish to quit the field and cut their losses. Both cards may be acted upon if, and when, drawn.

3. I am honing the effect of running out of dice on a command, and may try a few tweaks next time, but feel like its very close. This system, when polished, should allow one command figure per player, with his command and a dice bucket. This would allow convention games of ANY size!

4. I am going to further develop the Officer Card Draw with historical personages. This may end up as a custom deck for each period that would be sold separately. Note: random officer creation will still be standard and the cards will not be required.

I wish to thank the Quebec crew of Chris Caudill, Greg Rold, Terry Shockey, and Ray Levesque ( John Mumby in absentia) for their patience and help in this game. I’m a lucky guy!

The Battle of Mouzon

This battle was a real change of pace for our group in many ways. First, it was our first battle outside of the WSS in many months, and marked a return to the Franco-Prussian War, which we had not played for quite awhile. It, also, used my FPW 10mm figures that had been on the shelf ever since the development of Zouave II. This made for a far different visual look and a nice contrast to my WSS 28mm figures. It also was the first battle we had fought using a scenario from a previously fought game played at Brent Oman’s house in 28mm using the FOB Rules. Many of the Player’s in the FOB game were present to play their same roles in the DF game which was held one week later.

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The preceding week’s game using FOB

I was interested in seeing how the two systems and the tactics of the player’s might differ under two different systems and the degree that the system’s altered or changed the outcome, if at all.

I set up the terrain to match, albeit on a table that was three feet longer, and one foot narrower. It looked like this:

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The first things I noticed is that this is far less terrain, and troops than I usually use in a DF game. There was going to be a lot of opportunity for the Krupps and Chassepots to wreak havoc with little cover, except fro the forest of Class II (small stands) and Class III woods on the far left looking from French Position. The Hills were Class I denoted by the faint line of Lichen, and Class II (the actual hill terrain pieces) The village was all class III.

I then translated the original FOB ratings to DF equivalents. Roughly speaking, any units that in FOB were rated 12 or 12+ were rated Crack in DF; 8 to 10 were average, and 4 or 6 were rated Poor. Any unit that entered the battle with an existing UI were given a proportional number of Black Dice (which could be rallied “off” the unit) Officers were rated as the troops-Except if they were poor in the FOB rating-I rolled a single D6 which, using the table found on Page 22 of DF, automatically gave them an additional “flaw”. The final rating OOBs for both armies may be found in the Mouzon folder on the Yahoo! site.

The signal difference between FOB and DF was that, in FOB, the officer ratings influence the national decks, and in that game, the Prussian’s surprising lack of skill in command, and the French Army’s unusual high abilities, gave the French army a noticeably better deck. This would account for the French being uncharacteristically aggressive in that game. In DF the command quality differential gave the French more command dice, and fewer “problem” generals than the Prussians who not only had fewer dice, but a few limitations of commanders that caused some inefficiencies. This had an equivalent effect as in the FOB encounter as the French were to prove aggressive, and the Prussians far less so.

In the FOB game the French were blessed with a few more morale chips, and in the DF game, as ratings transpired by type and the infamous + or - minus roll, the French started with more dice, which serve an equivalent purpose of ending the game. There were objective markers at the road exists on the hills and in the town, ranging from 4X to 8X potentials for adding dice. (IN DF the taking of an objective gives you a morale gain, and the ability to pay in part or whole for the losses incurred in the attack)

Both games allowed for hasty entrenchments, which were not used in the FOB game, but were, Briefly in the DF game.

The other distinction between the games is that an FOB deck is quite a bit larger, usually 27 cards more, DF uses a standard 6 per game. They work in a similar fashion, but the FOB deck allows an Army’s personality to be modeled using the frequency of certain card types, while the DF system uses the command dice, and period or scenario specific uses of the Specialized Action, Rally, Reload, Restore, and Creative action card to provide similar effects. Both are sequenced “narrative” war-games.

In this game, the The Specialized Action Card allows an additional reload to breech loading weapons, and RRR was to allow tests for Prussian troops to enter the field. Each Prussian unit had to roll before the game to see if it was still marching to the guns, rather than initially present. As luck would have it, the Prussians made the roll for every unit, and started with all hands on deck! NO further tests were necessary. (You may see the special rules for the game, including this rule, in the Yahoo! Mouzion Folder)

On April 19th, the commanders assembled at Chez Jones and the forces deployed.

The French immediately opted for hasty entrenchments to provide extra cover on the ridegline, and deployed opposite the village, just as in the previous game.


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While the Prussians went almost immediately into a rope-a-dope defense anchored on the village on their right and the table edge on the left. The center of their position was a massive grand battery of Krupps artillery.

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Evidently, The Prussians took one look at their command, and remembering the previous FOB battle where they deployed evenly in line across their front and were badly mauled by the French attackers, and did not form grand batteries, decided to simply let the French come to them and use their guns to mow them down.

This was to prove a very bad decision. On the first turn, the French watched quizzically while the Prussians went into their sitzkrieg. But the French Commander (Greg Rold) immediately decided that he would exploit their hesitancy by an immediate attack on the village. Hoping to use the woods and village as cover, while capturing some objective points (dice) and bleeding the Prussian force. He intuitively realized that by defending the Prussians were giving up advantages that the rules provided the Prussians in movement and combat fire and melee when using the Zug Formation. If the French maintained the initiative and attacked they would actually, given their superior command and the Chassepot have the advantage in combat!! He attacked the village with gusto!


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The French Attack on Mouzon!


He flanked the Village and sent several Prussian units back in disarray>

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The French were masterful in their attack, and the Prussian left was taking extensive losses. However the French center and right were not yet pressing the enemy, and Krupps long range fire was taking a toll on a few units in the center that were in range. Fortwo turns that had pummeled the center in the class I ridge, that was taking some losses though, thanks to the Hasty entrenchments holding their position. The French Commander was reluctant to move them out of cover, but concerned for the losses. He then ordered his sub-commander (John Mumby) to swing his right wing troops on the ridgeline around and down toward the Prussian left flank.

The French Moved out with a cheer!

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The French Right begins its attack!

This had the immediate effect on the Prussians of fearing envelopment, they moved their cavalry out to challenge the French, and began to dismantle the Grand Battery to resight it to protect the flank. They ceased their fire on the center, and lost several turns of fire as they attemptted to relocate.

The French Right continued its turning action with great alacrity advancing smartly on the Prussians. In desperation the Prussians sent forward the Cuirassiers to confront the French and buy time for the Krupps to come to bear.

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The French move on the Prussians-Note the Prussian Cuirassiers
and Dragoons moving on them (far center)


The Chassepots rang out and many a cavalry man was sent reeling backward, with most of the saddles empty. It was glorious, but most certainly a very ugly loss. At that same moment, the village fight was also turning very ugly for the Prussians. The French brought up an artillery battery that, bad as the French 4# were was having some effect on the reforming Krupps guns. exposed as limbered targets.

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French fighting house to house, note 4# at bottom

The French Right was moving with alacrity on the Prussians, who only had two badly hauled cavalry and a poor infantry unit to immediately oppose them.

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Their losses in the village had mounted, and having lost many dice to several attacks by the French on both flanks, and having started with fewer dice the Prussians announced that their left and center had run out of dice, and the reserve was also gone (much of it spent keeping the Village forces in play)

Conclusions:

The Prussians made two essential errors. They chose a defensive posture which robbed them of their Zug advantages, and they didn’t get good use out of their Krupps Grand Battery because it was too far toward the center and was not in position to quickly counter the French flank attack, and could not do too much against the village attack. The possibilities for the guns were clearly shown in their initial rounds against the French dug-in center forces, but events took them out of play as they attempted to meet the flank threat.

It must be said, however, that the outcome was not much different than the FOB game where the Prussians were attacked in the village and from the ridge, and never got their Krupps into effective action. The Prussians were soundly defeated in both battles, and ran out of chips and dice in a definitive conclusion.

The fact is, the unusually good French Officers, and the rather weak Prussian officers, both through the composition of the card decks in FOB, and in the initial Command Dice quantities in DF had significant effect on the outcomes.

Rules

The New Hasty Entrenchment Rules look to work very well.

We also tried just giving the losing dice in DF to the other team instead of the used bucket. It accelerated the conclusion, but the penalty on early losses when using the flip method of dice buckets may be too severe.

The Transition period rules seem to work very well.

All the rule adjustments and modifications may be found in the Mouzon folder on the Yahoo Site files section.

The Most Unrealistic Thing About Wargames-except DF, of course!


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Last Saturday we played a Franco-Prussian Wargame set in 1870, using my 10mm FPW armies (an AAR to be posted in the next few days). Near the end of the game we had the usual post-mortem “If only, and then, and but for that...” discussion. At the table was a player that seldom had played DF before who made a comment that only a fresh set of eyes allows. He said that he was surprised that no units had been removed, and all the original figures and troops were on the table, but they had by virtue of dice loss-lost the game. They were under pressure in several areas by the enemy, and had definitely taken the worst of it, throughout in die loss and-by the rules-they were forced to leave the field and admit defeat because one of their dice buckets was empty. He said he’d never seen a game like that before-no stacks of enemy troops on a small side table, no fractured and incomplete units on the table.

It was a great thought provoking moment for me. Most of the group had been playing DF for several years, and, even with the continued development and rule adjustments that come from continued play, had been so close to the game that they had never commented on this phenomenon.

I thought for a moment about other war-games, and sure enough, most games as they progress see numerous figures removed from the tabletop. They see the level of losses and visual removal that few generals in history, especially after the medieval period, ever saw. Not that it couldn’t happen (see Culloden), but it seldom did. In most cases, most units of an army retired off the battle field and even those units that had taken significant losses survived-with new recruits-to fight another day.

The curse of miniature war-games from day one has been the Custer’s Last Stand approach of fighting to the last unit or man on the table. In the early period, up to the 1970s, this was accepted as the nature of wargaming and 70-100% percent losses were common, with the only matter of discussion being who was left standing-who “won”?

I always thought it odd that gamers who paint figures with such care, and , when completed look so glorious, never regretted removing them from play and sight so sanguinely!

In the1970s and 80s, gamers and rule designers responded to this obvious absurdity by creating all sorts of morale rules, that prevented combat, limited combat, or, when all else failed, required retreat when certain conditions were created. There was also a resort to combat rules that led to staunchly attritional and grinding results. In short, games took hours, losses were limited and retreats required that, by rule, forced units off the table. These games were often painful grinding matches and often decided at the local pub after the game in spirited debate as to who “could have won” if the game only went on for five more hours!

In the 90s, new approaches were, thankfully, tried. These new rules deliberately defeated the carefully crafted equilibrium of movement opportunity, balanced forces of troops, and slow and easily answered attacks, with a wide variety of effects which decreased predictability and rewarded perceptive analysis of the battlefield. This effect was created with cards, less predictable combat results, greater mobility of units on the tabletop and “indirect” morale rules. By indirect, I mean that the effect of morale was taken out the player’s hands, and often tracked not by combat loss on an immediate basis, but by an accumulation of effects in a way that was not easily tracked by the opponent or open to player control. This was also an era that introduced the infamous roster with boxes to be checked off, as a substitute for troop removal. Not a bad idea, but checking off boxes is best left to Bingo players, and many gamers forgot, or hated being reminded to mark their losses. Suspicions of cheating were always about, as well.

In Piquet, I mixed the turn sequence unpredictability by using cards ( it always seems difficult to get some people to recognize the difference between unit activation and turn sequencing), introduced counter-rolls with clear “odds’ of success (a D8 vs a D4 will generally win), but no rigid odds or CRT result of success, and, most importantly, the tracking of morale on a hidden basis with chips.

Neither side knows the exact number of chips the enemy starts with, only their own, and neither side can absolutely guess when the morale will dictate an end to the game. One these things are taken from the player’s knowledge, their play becomes more measured, land more realistic than in many games.

It also lessens the need to remove troops or units from the table as the troops are what they should have always been a marker for their position and their type of troop. Real losses were tracked outside their removal, and other than an initial OOB, never required any accounting or checking off a roster.

My ultimate design goals for DF included, even making this less onerous than roster checking or tossing chips. Die Fighting include morale and the offensive capacity of an army in one device the Resource Dice. Fewer of them means you start to restrict your choices for action, too grandiose a plan burns them up too quickly, and when they are gone, the game is over. Finis!

The added key, is other than catastrophic loss, which is rare (as it as in history) and even rarer against better troops, the troops are on the table the entire time of play. Those glorious figures you have fussed over for hours in their creation are on the table to view until the decision is reached. Quite apart from the aesthetic advantage it also happens to reflect actual battles up until the moment of decision.

The added realization that last Saturday’s FPW game added was that the dice are a surrogate for the troops lost. No figures need be removed, but the dice take their place with the same effect. Eventually you run out, but the battlefield remains colorful and interesting, the units remain until the decision point, as only dice substitutes are removed! Units still retreat, morale rules still force retreats, and ultimately the dice surrogates also force closure when they are expended, just as chips or roster boxes did in other rules.

It also allows the designer and the player to escape the prison of concept and practice that the long ago games started with figure and stand loss of figures. Resources dice are actually a liberating concept, just as I believe card sequencing has been.

An AAR on the FPW game will follow tomorrow.


Sur La Table

I’ve had several wargame tables over the years. My first was a 4’ by 8’ sheet of 1/4” plywood that I could place over a table in my apartment, and hide under the bed, or against a wall in between games. My second was a standard folding 5’X9’ table tennis table that I could throw a green felt pool table replacement over. It resided in my first house’s finished basement, A traditional site all my later tables.


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My next table was the one I have now which is a 4’X8’ 1/2” plywood sheet, with a strip wood edging and a 4’ by 4’ extension both placed on three saw maple stained saw-horses and covered by a terrain guy 4 X 12’ length mat. My latest space is finished, well lit, and about 10’ 6” by 20’ in size, but only about 14-15’ could be used for a table. It has served me well and seen many a Piquet, Zouave II, and Die Fighting game, plus a few Maurice, and FOB games to boot!

However, as my WSS armies grow, and I hold a certain interest in doing naval games, I think I need a new, bigger, and better table!

I’ve come to several strongly held opinions about the design and dimensions of that table that I’d like to share with you, in the hopes that some of you might offer critique and commentary at the Yahoo! site.

Table Dimensions and Height:

Length (width?)

I would like the table to remain 12 foot in length, but with a fold down extension of about 3 feet in length to allow an expansion to 15 feet or so. I don’t believe a table can be too long, unless space issues force compromise. I like lots of troops on the board, but hate the table edge to table edge shoulder to should lines look of too many games on tables of 8 foot or less. In fact, there may be a formula of add 30-50% of the length of all your soldiers on one side lined up stand to stand to get the appropriate length of a table!

Depth

I intend to add 1 foot in width to the table-making it 5 feet “Deep.” The 4 foot width always had the advantage of making sure the troops could mix it up quickly, especially using average moves of 8-12”, but I have always felt that an extra foot would allow a bit more maneuver and finesse to deployments. In truth, length is always more critical, as it is the factor that allows flanking maneuvers, and creates weak points in a line that don’t occur in shorter and more compressed frontages. but I do think a bit of depth would be good. Conversely, going to a 6’ deep table, is a bit too far a reach, especially at the height levels I enjoy.


Height

Height

I like a high table. Perhaps this comes from many a year sitting at a bar, talking with friends with a good drink in hand. My present table is 37” high. This is a good height for either standing or sitting in my new Ikea “Franklin” folding backed bar chairs, or standard stools. A high table I think makes a better display-lessens the god-like peering down from above angles a bit, and is just more comfortable on the back and shoulders than a dining room height table. I would not be adverse to raising it to an honest meter (39&rdquoWinkingin height. In fact, I may do that.

The extra height will also allow for some storage options that I like (Though not what you’d suppose).

Construction


Table

My present table is, as a said, two sheets of 1/2” ply-one being 4’x8’ and the other 4’x4’. These are placed on three sawhorses-one at each end, and one at the junction point of the two boards. The longer piece has 2”x1/2” inch wood edging that adds to its rigidity. Because of its thickness and the edging there has never been any warping or bending. The space underneath the table is, other than the sawhorse legs, and a plastic case holding terrain, largely open.

One side of the table top is painted blue and one is sand colored.

My one complaint is that the table top boards are too damn heavy, and moving them is a pain. I don’t do it often but I think they are much too thick, weighty,and substantial for their use. I do want to retain the option of getting the table out of there easily and quickly when needed, but want it to be substantial and a safe support, not easily jostled. On the other hand I have no interest in using cabinets, heavy carpentry, and treat it as “furniture” It isn’t. It’s a functional gaming surface, nothing more. I do want it to be attractive when used-but relatively invisible. Like an empty stage-rather unremarkable until the actors and scenery are in place.

I’m looking at using model railroading techniques in trestle-like construction, as follows.

I intend to retain the three sawhorses one at each end approximately 8 Feet apart, approximately two feet from each of the the 15’ tables ends-one in the middle at 6 Feet, but run three 2X2’s between the sawhorses that will be fastened by removable nuts and bolts. Across the three trestles will be placed three 4’X5’ 1/4” plywood sheets. The long dimension will lie athwart the trestles. This will give a dimension of 5 X12 feet. (I might look for cheap alternative ways to provide support using attached fixed legs on each section.

The last segment will have a hinged drop shelf cut to a 5’ by 36” dimension. It will include some form of pop--down legs or support that allow the extension to safely be elevated and held-adding another 3’ to the table length. This would then be a table of 15 foot length, 5 foot depth, and 39” height. The South end will, as now, butt up against the far wall.

I will have to part with my much beloved 4X12 foot Terrain Guy rubber-terrain mat (Boy, I wish he were still in business!) I may paint and terrain the table top a nice varied medium to dark green rough textured surface that matches my troops stand mountings. Alternatively is finding a creator of mats that are similar to the Terrain Guy’s work. If I can find this, I will then paint the surface a sea-green for naval-and use the mat for land games, as is possible now. The table will not be reversible-but only the two surfaces- land and sea.

Storage

I will not be using the under the table space for any fixed shelving or cabinets. I want to keep it open and without obstruction-light and airy. I may roll a storage tray or two under the open end for terrain, etc. and rig my sound system by the wall end, as it is now, but no heavy cabinetry.

I very well may add extendable shelves on both sides for printed materials, QRS, etc, and some cup holders and, maybe, table edge file holders to keep clutter off the table.

Space

The book shelves will be moved to provide the maximum space for gamers on each side of the table. Probably the will be moved to the far end of the room. The room is 10’ 6” wide , so minus 5 feet will leave 5 and 1’2 feet divided by two or 2 and three quarters feet on a side. I intend to have three Ikea Franklin backed bar height chairs on each side with some extra stools for overflow attendees.

chair

Backed chairs are essential for comfort and support.

The floor is already carpeted.

The overhead lights are flourescents-that I may replace with CFLs or LEDs.

The room will be painted in restful earth tones. A separate table for food and drink will be placed at room end opposite the war game table. New art will be placed on the walls, though some “golden oldies” will remain.

This still leaves space for my work table-where I intend to spend many an hour improving my WSS forces.


work table

Time line

It appears that Getzcon II may be a real possibility. It will be held in mid to late August. So that would be the logical end date.

Suggestions, Gentlemen?


The Battle of Denain (Conclusion)


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The Battle of Denain was fought to conclusion at Chez Jones this last Saturday, March 15th, between 12:30 and 4:00 PM. By the end of the battle, Over 60 units of 28mm figures had been engaged in the two part engagement. (See the Battle go Denain -Advance Guard- of April 24th, 2014 for an account of the initial clash between the two advance guards that preceded the main engagement.)

Folders with complete sets of scouting reports and telescope views, OOBs, and other materials are located in the Files Section of the Yahoo! site under The Battle of Denain.

THE SET UP

This set up was very different from past games. After the clash of the Advance Guards in our last game, that battle gave a substantial gain of 80 dice to the French, and indicated that a number of Allied Units were eliminated in that battle. This put the allies at a starting deficit in numbers and total dice. The OOBs for both forces are found, as stated above, in the Denain Folder at the Yahoo! site. There are Folders for both the Allies and French that list the troops, their Type and Quality, their Dice contribution, elimination and black dice penalties.

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Repiquerules/info

I also tried to give a modest advantage in terrain to the Allies as it would be highly likely they would retreat until they found some modestly good defensive ground. The terrain set up gave them a couple of ridge lines on either flank, and some wooded ground that would break up and channel the French attack. A small shallow stream helped guard their Right Flank. The terrain gave the Allies at least some cover for their deployment, and some advantages in defense.

Overview looking South


I required the Allies to deploy first-and they could deploy the remnants of the Advance Guard and their entire first line. I then took photos of their position from table height using my iPhone camera that I sent to the French. The photos were deliberately “foggy” in an attempt to recreate the lack of resolution-even with telescope of a distant enemy line.


Hill on Right FlankLeft of Village
More Photos at Yahoo! Site



After perusing these photos, the French then deployed-just their advanced guard- and suitably vague photos were sent to the Allies of that end result.

The French had to declare prior to any further actions exactly what road entrance the First line deployment would be centered upon. I asked them for a written set of orders as to the nature of that deployment. They were placed on the table by me, and a confirming photo was sent to the French Command. This Deployment was not sent to the Allies, but they would see it on the day of the game. The French First line could not move on the first turn (they were going through their elaborate WSS deployment) , so the Allies would have an opportunity to react to this appearance.

For a complete description of this Scouting and Deployment procedure read the Battle Continuation rules in the Denain Scouting Reports Folder at the Yahoo! Site. That folder has many more examples of the telescope “views” that both sides had prior to the battle.

SPECIAL RULES

Many of the special rules from the earlier Advanced Guard action were also extended to this game. These special rules covering Black Dice, Battalion Guns, Howitzers, etc. are also found in the Denain Scouting reports Folder.

INITIAL DEPLOYMENTS AND MOVES

The Allies deployed with the former Advanced Guard on their right flank. Using the stream, woods, and the windmill hill as a compensation for their reduced numbers and losses from the previous engagement. The First line was deployed across the center facing the village of Denain that had been occupied by the French Advance Guard. This force was primarily Dutch and English and among the best troops they had available. They made sure no coup de main was possible up the center, but that left only a few units of English and Danish horse to cover their left flank, with no Infantry to stiffen their defense, and most of their guns were placed so as to limit their targets to very close ranges.

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The Left flank was just dangling in air, awaiting their Austrian Allies to secure that area.

The French had deployed so that their first line was entirely opposite this exposed flank. Their horse was on the road and they had their light guns limbered and ready to advance! It appears they had stolen a march on the Allies and were going to press the matter! This was compounded by the player in command of this force was Ray Levesque who was renowned for his eagerness to close with the enemy. And close he did!

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THE MAIN ATTACK

The French right flank surged forward with the Garde Francaises and Suisses infantry advancing in close step with the Dauphin Regiment availing themselves of mutual support (best roll rule for movement of the line) as they strode determinedly toward the Hill to their front. On the road the Gendarmes Ecossais and the Mousquetaires galloped forward into the unoccupied ground on the Allies Left Flank. Levesque’s movement rolls added to his reputation for the rapid attack!


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The French Line Advances!

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The Gendarmes turn the Flank.


The Allies immediate saw that their flank was in great danger of being collapsed. CIC-Shockey immediately wheeled the English First Foot Guard about and headed it to its left flank. The Danish horse was refused back to stop the French flanking maneuver. Cadogan’s horse took the hill to stop the French infantry attack. The first indications of the Austrian arrival bolstered the Allied spirits.

The French Gendarmes sped down the road and wheeled into formation to attack the Allied flank they were closely followed by the Mousquetaires, while the French Regiment Royal Italien and Soissonais entered the wood at the edge of the battlefield.

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Gendarmes attack The Danish Horse. Note the Foot Guard flank beckoning!



The Danish horse turned to face the Gendarmes. The English Foot Guard headed in that direction, but paused, and then the commander wheeled them to face the hill not the eminent threat from the French Horse. Now their flank was exposed to the Gendarmes, only masked by the Danish horse. Several in the ranks questioned this dependence on a single horse regiment of unknown capability.

The Allies did have a few good moments on that flank, as the arriving Austrians clumsily sorted themselves out-with the Austrian Hussars and Piedmont Dragoons racing down the road to protect the village, and the Austrian line moved unto the table. The Walloons on the Austrian left wheeled to face the threat from the woods and with a good volley sent the Royal Italien regiment scurrying away. The Soissonais also retired back out of the woods.

This led to a controversial moment as the Mousquetiers du Roi opted to retire behind the Gardes rather than support their fellow horsemen, the Gendarmes! As they retired back up the road there was many a Gallic curse hurled after them by the brave Gendarmerie! (There will be brawls in the Tavern in the next few days between these units!)

But the Gendarmes were not deterred! They slammed into the Danish Horse and literally blew them away! As they rode the 2nd Jyske under, they immediately saw the exposed flank of the English Guard. On they rode!

At this exact moment the French Guard units made the crest of the ridge and volleyed into Cadogan’s Horse. The horse was sent reeling in disorder back into the mass of troops below, including into the Falkenberg cuirassiers rushing to the aid of the English Guards and Danish horse. This was not looking good for the Allies.

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ELSEWHERE ON THE FIELD

In the center, the French had a formidable column of cavalry led by the Carabiniers du Roi, who had performed so spectaculary in the advance Guard action, but they dare not charge the Allied line thanks to the English gun battery firing down the road toward Denain. A flank shot from artillery would inflict grevious losses.

That gun battery was now occupied in delsutory firing at the village of Denain, but with little effect on the Listerois Dragoons or the Bouffrement Dragoons that held the village. The center seemed relatively free from action as the Allied forces, including the Orkney First Foot, made no effort to advance, and the French seemed content to hold the village.

On the Allied Right, at the Southern end of the battlefield, Hay’s Dragoons advanced to the edge of the Chateau grounds, but then saw a large force approaching. It was the French second line, made up of Bavarian and Spanish troops. They began crossing the stream and surging toward the forests beyond the Chateau. Hay’s retired upon the small support force behind him.

THE BATTLE COMES TO A HEAD ON THE ALLIED LEFT

The English error in turning to face the hill and presenting their flank to the Gendarmes now exacted a deadly price. The Gendarmes, fresh from their victory over the Danish Jyske horse, now hit the first foot guards in the Flank, and sent them reeling in full retreat (many dice were lost).

Then the French Maison Rouge Guard infantry on the with two excellent volleys pummeled Cadogan’s horse and sent them in disorder back into the milling mass of English Guard infantry. Even the Austrian Falkenberg Cuirrasisers, who were attempting to stabilize the flank were swept up in the general chaos. Trapped between the Gendarmes and the French and Swiss guards the flank totally collapsed. A second line of infantry and the Mousquetaires was close behind the Guard in support of the attack.


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The Austrians were having a lot of difficulty deploying in the restricted area around the Northern village, and could not offer much help to their allies to the South.

At this point the French attack in the far South was forcing the Allied Right Flank back to to the Road entrance, and some of the troops from the reserve were beginning a general assault on the Windmill hill held by Seymour’s Marines.

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Losses everywhere were heavy. Counterattack was out of the question and catastrophe threatened. The Allied commander placed the Concede Card in his deck.

THE ALLIES CONCEDE AND WITHDRAW

The game continued through three more card phases, with additional losses to the Allies as the Falkenberg Cuirassiers were also destroyed, and the Right flank woods were abandoned by the English dragoons. Finally the Concede card came up and the Allies retired, as best they could, from the field. They hoped to regroup as they retired back toward the Dutch fortresses.

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Gentlemanly Concession! (L.to R.) John Mumby, French Commander Greg Rold, Ray “ High Roller”Levesque, Ed Meyers, Allied Commander Terry Shockey, and Chris Caudill

It was a smashing victory for the French, flowing from their earlier success in the advance guard action. Marlborough was sorely missed and The Duke of Argyll was clearly not up to the task on this day.

CONCLUSIONS

1. The Allies should have chosen a more balanced and compact defensive formation. Expecting horse to hold an entire flank without adequate infantry support was not wise.

2. The French followed excellent tactical practice. They had a concentration of force, and a simple and direct battle plan. Turn the Allied left flank and roll up their line. It was to be done quickly before the Austrians could effect the action. The double edged attack of the French Guard Infantry and the Gendarmes was devastating (even more than expected thanks to some excellent movement and combat rolls by Ray Levesque).

3. Conservation of dice for the Allies was paramount. They started, thanks to the earlier action, with a deficit, and their horrendous losses of dice in the flank battle soon left then with an empty bucket that could not be helped by reserve dice-which were also depleted.

4. The game also brought up the necessity of very carefully siting the artillery. The Allied guns were often in a cramped and limited position with few lines of fire. There were no guns on the left flank that could be brought to bear with much effect. Since the French were in an all out attack mode-they seldom waited for their artillery and used almost none of it in forcing the battle decision.
Artillery in this period is not what it would become in the next century, but neither side used it to much effect during this game. The sole exception was the restraining effect the allied battery in the left center had on the Carabinier led French cavalry in the center by firing down the road toward Denain.

GAME PLAY OBSERVATIONS

1. The game played very well. The entire game lasted from 1:00 PM to resolution at 4:30 PM. Everyone was headed home for dinner by 5:00 PM.

2, The new special rules all worked as intended and many are sure to become “Standard.”

3. The mobility of horse, and the relative weakness of artillery were both underscored by the battle play. The most telling aspect was the comparison of the cavalry ability on the attack, but its crucial weakness on the defense against infantry. You are hard pressed to hold ground with horse.

4. The French used the linear advance rule, where the contiguous line gets the best roll for distance moved by any one unit-applied to the entire line. It worked very well, and looked impressive as their lines stepped off toward the enemy.

5. The Allies, apart from horrendous dice lost to combat on the left, were not as careful as they could have been in the dice use. Too many long distance shots for no effect by artillery. A lot of movement on the right flank by the Windmill hill and the adjacent woods that had no focused purpose.

6. The Two commands were well matched with a slight advantage to the French in terms of having a good day. Oddly enough, every wood rolled for became a Class III, not one Class II!

6. NEVER, I mean NEVER, deliberately turn an infantry flank to horse-even when there is one cavalry between you and the enemy. Pursuit will occur and a flank attack by cavalry is simply devastating!

All materials concerning the game and several additional photos may be found in the Yahoo Battle of Denain Folder.

Next Game: April 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

IMP, Occam's Razor, and PBN


Einstein

When we design historical war-games we are attempting to reflect some aspects of decision making and model physical actions that real commanders and troops demonstrated during battles. We read a wide variety of sources, often make notes about the events we read about, and we frequently find contradictory information, incomplete accounts, and degrees of variance in the stated outcome of events. The description of the decision of certain general can be highly subjective, and it is not uncommon to find huge gaps and omissions in the description of events. How do we weigh this information? How do we decide what or who to believe? What tools can we use to sort the wheat from the chaff, or the gold from the dross?

The two that I have found are Inherent Military Probability (IMP) and Occam’s Razor.

Inherent Military Probability was first proposed as a tool by Arthur Higgins Burne, an ex-officer in the Royal Artillery, and later, a military historian who authored several books on ancient , medieval, and early gunpowder warfare. (He co-wrote a book on the ECW with Peter Young). HIs original premise was that as you tried to decipher historical evidence and accounts you should apply a test of “What would a trained staff officer of the 20th century most likely have done?” If it wouldn’t make sense to him-it probably didn’t happen that way. If it does make sense then it had to be more strongly credited. This was later amended by some to say that it must make sense to a person in that era as some situations may not have a direct historical corollary to the modern mind.


Unknown

It remains mildly controversial, and has had some singular successes and failures as an approach, but I think it is an invaluable tool when used correctly. Correct use requires really thinking a account or report through and examining it logically. Ultimately the question is “Does this make sense?” as important as the provenance of the remark, its source, or the authority of the account. It requires judgement and knowledge.

An example of my first use of this in wargaming many years ago is a series of articles I wrote in the old Courier about the use of artillery. At that time in the 70s, many gamers used “Ricochet Sticks” to denote where a ball ricocheted “Over” a unit and had no effect, and where in was low enough to have effect. I thought about this a long time and turned to elementary physics and ballistics to prove that this didn’t make sense. A ball fired from a smoothbore gun at zero elevation will NEVER rise higher than the gun muzzle, and every ricochet will be below the height of a man. If fired at a higher angle their will be fewer ricochets (remember skipping a rock on a water surface?)if any, and they will all be lower than a man, or a man on horse back. In certain extreme cases of terrain, where the target is on the backslope of a hill, or the ball hits say the top of a stone wall, it may fly over a man, but almost certainly will bury in on its next impact. In effect, the IMP of a ricochet clearing a man height is very low and ricochet sticks are representing a nonexistent factor. There was a great kerfluffle by the advocates of this equipment until General B.P. Hughes book, “Firepower” came out about a year later stating the exact same finding. Ricochet sticks disappeared from the wargame table a victim of IMP and physics!

Another such finding in my articles was that during the era of Smoothbore Artillery, heavier weight guns had more effect on a single infantry or cavalry target than lighter guns when firing ball. This was easily dispatched as nonsense when logic and physics was again applied. The size difference in diameter between 4-6-8-and 12 pound field artillery balls was not very much-less than an inch in diameter for all but the 4 lb. and only an inch and a half for that!. That is, the area of effect was nearly identical! (remember they non-explosive rounds) So all artillery hard shot should have equivalent effect on a single target. Where they varied was MASS which made the heavier guns able to penetrate through many more units before the ball’s motion was arrested. They were, for the same reason more impactful on solid objects such as walls, fortifications, etc. They also had a much higher effectiveness with their canister, and a somewhat longer theoretical range, but that was seldom of great use. What they did not have was a higher effect with roundshot on a single unit to their front. IMP-QED!

The above examples are easy manifestations using physics and math, but using an IMP based on your general military reading as to the likeliness of certain behavior bolstered by a general view of people in real life and their reaction to stress and conflict is an invaluable tool for assessing information to be used in a design.

The other tool is Occam’s Razor. This premise was set forward by William of Occam in the 14th century as a means of judging the most logical explanation for a single event. In its simplest form it merely states that, when faced with several explanations or causes for an event, always look the simplest, least involved, and uncomplicated explanation-always. One way to phrase this is when you hear hoof-beats behind you always think of horses approaching, not zebras!

William-of-Ockham-Quotes-1


Now, this does not preclude complex answers, or scientific data, but simply says the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions is a good place to start. This is a conspiracy killer, an answer to Rube Goldberg explanations for events and long involved explanations of why Junior missed school yesterday. The use of Occam’s razor for a war gamer designing rules, or deciding the accuracy of unverifiable reports, is a very handy tool. Go for the clean and simple. Eschew obfuscation!

Finally, I’d like to comment on rule users themselves, and how they effect their own enjoyment of rules. I am open to argument on this at my Yahoo! site, but it strikes me that we have seen a lessening of experimentation and creative growth in rule users, more than in rule designers! I can’t remember a time when, when playing a set of rules I didn’t think of a better way to do something within that rule structure, or come up with a new extension of the rules, or redefine some aspect of their use. Usually I did this to better suit my idea of how things occurred in a period battle, or to make the rules more playable-FOR ME. This also led to my answering a lot of my own questions about certain points of rules that might be unclear- I seldom asked the designer, unless I was impossibly confused. If I liked the core principles of a set of rules, I was more than happy to be creative in order to make them even better for my use!

That appears to be less common among war gamers now. In effect they want their war-games to be the equivalent of oil paintings done by the number. They want to be told where to put a color. They want to be told the exact shade of that color. They want firm lines denoting exactly where the boundaries between colors are. They want to be told the exact and precise nature of the image being created. Tell me the color. Tell me the number. Show me the finished picture.


Mona Lisa

Even worse, they never even consider different shades and hues, or how to actually paint, but just want to be told what to do. They want all their answers supplied, and they want no responsibility to figure it out or experiment on their own.

What is needed for a great wargame is the gamer must be a creative painter, and throw away the numbered canvas. He must try to grasp the inherent principles of a design which are usually fairly easy to grasp after a reading or two, and a couple of times on the table, but then he should take it on himself to innovate, to try new ideas, and bend the rules to his liking. He should use a set of rules as a base for his own creativity and exploration of history. He should really try to become his own artist rather than always going to the Master for interpretation and certification.

Part of this may stem from the fantasy backgrounds of many current gamers, where there is no real world to use as a touchstone for their ideas, but only the limited universe found between the covers of a 128 page, full glossy, Codex. The gamers using these rules are looking to fit in to a group rather than to strike out creatively and as an individual. They are also constrained by the corporate game publisher’s restricting their ideas to “Official Rules” and “Official Figures.” That is fine for an adolescent, but an adult in a creative hobby should at least try to be creative and an individual and not just a passive recipient of some imaginary construct.

Historical gamers have no such excuse. They are the heirs, as I have stated before, of creative writers such as Stevenson, Wells, Pratt, and Featherstone, and their hobby begs for added entertaining narrative that may include a light hearted comment on the human condition. They are missing so much, if they don’t give up painting by the numbers, and learn to paint!


The Battle of Denain (Advance Guard)

Denain-Players

Advance Guard Players: French-Left-Greg Rold, John Mumby; Allied-Right Ed Meyers, Terry Shockey


This last weekend, we had the beginnings of what promises to be an interesting series of games fighting a single battle. In most war-games commented upon in the Wargame press, and, quite frankly, in all of our battles prior to this game, we divided the battle, and the players “horizontally” - Left Flank, Center, Right, with a possible fourth segment characterized as the Reserve closely behind one of the sections of the battle line. This weekend’s game changed that method for the “Battle of Denain,” and provided some real fun in the process.

It all started when I was reading the historical accounts of the Oudenarde campaign-especially the early parts with the first contacts of the two advanced guards. It was an encounter battle, much like Gettysburg, Jena-Auerstadt, and many other engagements. What it immediately brought to my mind is that the contact of the two armies was sequential, and they were divided “vertically”. First, the contact of the two opposing advanced guards, then the First Line closely followed by Second Line-and finally a small Reserve.

Now, admittedly, armies were far more rigid in this early WSS period than they became later, but it struck me that this process of meeting was a fairly common one, throughout history, and I should give it a try. I divided the armies into four parts Advanced Guard-First line-Second line- and Reserve.

Each army’s break out can be found on the Yahoo Site in the files section under “The Battle of Denain.”

Essentially, the Advanced Guards are made up of a concentration of horse and dragoons with a couple of light artillery, and infantry battalions to provide backbone. The First Line is the bulk of the army with most of the infantry, more guns, including heavy guns, and the best horse. The Second Line is smaller, mostly infantry, but only a smattering of horse and guns. The reserve is very small with a few infantry and the train.

I then set the game conditions.

Terrain:
The terrain favored nether side, but two class III hills in the neutral center dominated the field and were given objective markers. In fact, I gave them two objective markers, one worth 4x to the initial taker, but another worth 8X to the party that retook the hill, if possible. This guaranteed that the high ground would be a pretty good scrap. On the Eastern Flank, I placed an objective rich village, which had three Class III sections at 4X, and a crossroad at 6X. A nice haul and worth an attack-especially on a flank. It was surrounded on the South Side( Allied side) by small Class III wood. The Western Flank had extensive Class III woods that offered difficult going, but a couple of road exits on either baseline. If unopposed, a force might sweep around a flank-but quite a gamble with the obvious delay and disorder of transiting a wood. Tempting? All Road Exits were 10X with the “Y” crossroad on the Western French side a 6X. The rest of the field was open terrain.

Denain-Advance Guard


Set-Up
The procedure of set up was that the Allies had won the last wargame and were awarded the General’s Carriage. This allowed them force the French to deploy first or second (they naturally decided the French should deploy first); would add +1 to the first turn’s initiative roll, and could choose their first phase card in turn 2. It was deemed their commander reached the field rested and with a carriage full of maps and reports. Both Phase Decks were to be shuffled for a random draw throughout the game, except for that 2nd turn Allied exception.

Army Arrival
After the first turn the Creative Option Card was put into both decks. When drawn the army would throw 1 D6. A roll of 5 or 6 and the First line would arrive on the NEXT turn! After its arrival the second line would arrive on the NEXT turn after that, and, finally, the reserve would arrive on the NEXT turn after the second line’s arrival. If the roll was not made the Creative Option would be placed in the deck for the next shuffle and turn. However, the arrival roll would be increased by one on each turn-so, on the second turn the roll would be 4-5-6, on the third turn 3-4-5-6, and the fourth turn, 2-3-4-5-6 and automatic thereafter. Once the first line enters, the rest are automatic at 1one turn intervals.

Multi-Bucket with Reserve restrictions
The game was also a multi-bucket game so each force got 1/5 of the entire army’s die total (4 sections-plus the CIC’s reserve bucket divided into the army’s total dice) and the commander couldn’t access the reserve dice (1/5 of the total) until the reserve section had also arrived on the field and a RRR card was turned!

Each section of the army was assigned a player. So they game started with the advanced guard players as the only players active, but they received a LOT of advice from the other, not yet engaged, players. Since the allied Advanced Guard player was inexperienced, this was helpful.

Initial Deployments
The French forced to deploy first, quickly looked at the situation in front of them and devised a very simple, but direct and clear plan. They detailed off their dragoons on the left flank to take the village, and get the objective dice. Dragoons have the advantage of taking village structures, but may leave-infantry once in a village section is there for the battle. Opposite the two hills they placed their infantry force and both of their gun batteries. They wanted that ridge line! Between these two forces the placed a long line of their horse where it could protect the flank of the infantry and possible count on the support of the Dragoons. The ground in front of them was excellent for cavalry, both open and flat. Most importantly they completely deployed their force in battle order, except for their light guns, as they appreciated the clumsiness of that process once battle had begun. They gave up a little speed for surety of order.

The Allies were less decisive. They saw the French deployment and concentrated their entire force to attack the ridge line. They disregarded the value of the village. (They stated it was full of Belgians and the restaurants and bistros were not very good.) They deployed with the Dutch and Prussians on their right under an inexperienced commander, and the English contingent on their left. Their entire force was in road march order and not deployed for battle. They hoped to “Steal a March” on the French and then deploy on the hill. None of these decisions turned out well for them!

The command on either side was relatively good. The French had Villars on an average day (4 Command Dice) and the Allies had Cadogan on an average day (4 dice).

The Allies won the initiative on the first turn and moved off at a smart step-they did not deploy. The French did likewise with their dragoons making a beeline for the undefended village. Their infantry moved off toward the ridgeline while the cavalry in the open ground kept pace.

At this point it appeared that the French were going to snap up the village objectives without opposition, and their attack on the hill was well ordered-with artillery to place on the ridgeline when it was taken. Artillery on low hills is advantaged, and it would lessen any chance at Allied recapture.

French Dragoon Take VillageBouffler's Dragoons Take Village

French Dragoons take the village and invest the church grounds. The White tower is a dice tower (it really ruins the pix does it not-? I think I’ll outlaw them!)

The Allies soon realized that they needed to attack quickly as the French were very precise in their attacking formations and moving at a good rate. They also realize that not offering any resistance to the taking of the villages was a mistake. Even in column order, their first turn advance was not that much better than the deployed French. On the second turn, they selected the cavalry move card as their first card move card as their first card, and shuffled the rest.

This was the turn they knew they were in trouble. As they began to deploy the player’s had not properly arranged their troops and much confusion arose as they attempted to sort out a very clumsy deployment. Several units were barely moved as they were blocked by other regiments going through their evolutions! They then noted the fall of the village, and that the placement of the British gun was faulty in that it had no clear targets as they were masked by the ridge. Even worse, the French had actually gotten closer to the ridgeline in formed order than the Allies, delayed as they were by their jumbled deployment. There was some hope that they would be immediately reinforced by the First Line on the next turn. They needed to roll a 5 or 6. They rolled a 2!

The French in the second turn took firm possession of the village. That acquired a total of nearly two dozen dice! Morale was high! The French infantry and guns got to the base of the ridgeline in very good order, both guns were ready to ascend and take a dominant position. They, too, failed their roll for the entry of the first line.

French Attack on Ridge
Anspach riding to their doom in upper right. Note disarray in Allied deployment.


On the next turn the Allies were very worried that their initial deployment and the subsequent delays, had lost this initial engagement of the Battle of denain, almost from the start. They won the initiative. At this point desperation kicked in and the Dutch-Prussian wing launched a furious and chancy attack. The Ansbach Horse launched a charge against the French horse at a 3-1 disadvantage!

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Upper: Ansbach attack Carabiniers Lower: Nassau attack over ridge (note Ansbach in background)



The Nassau horse galloped up over the ridge and launched itself at the French line-first assaulting the Artillery battery between Clare and Talard regiments. The Prussian light gun moved forward and unlimbered on the allied right flank. Supporting them, the Van Welderen Dutch and Bothmer Dragoons came forward rapidly-not bothering to deploy even at this late moment. The British, somewhat shocked at the Dutch-Prussian audacity, advanced cautiously toward the Northern part of the ridge, trying to make sure the Allied line was not too disjointed. There was great hope that the First Line might make it to the field to rescue their situation on the next turn. They needed a 4-5-6. They rolled a 3!

The French mounted up the Listerois Dragoons and sent them at full gallop down the road to secure an objective marker and deny the Allies one line of retreat, and slow any appearance by the Allied First Line along that entry point.

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They closed on the hill-just as the Nassauers cleared the crest and slammed into the limbered artillery battery. The battery was hacked to pieces! First blood to the Allies! In their battle fury the Nassauers pursued on into the Clare Regiment without pause. The Clare Regiment was surprised at their appearance and audacity but, as veteran Irishmen, stood firm with a round of musketry and their battalion gun barking. They stopped the Nassauers cold! a general milling melee developed, but the Nassauers were blown and Clare was not going to run from these Dutchmen!

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In the meantime, the other French gun trundled onto the ridge.

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Then the most magnificent event in the history of the French cavalry began to unfold in the open ground South of the ridge. As related above, the Ansbach Horse had charged the concentration of French and Spanish Horse. At the front of the French formation were the storied Carabiniers du Roi, a proud and tough unit of cavalry. The resulting melee was quick and decisive with the Ansbach thrown back in retreat with a black die added. The carabiniers immediately pursued and crushed the Ansbachers with a catastrophic defeat-scattered individuals dashed from the field. Over 20 dice had been lost as well! BUT the carabiniers were not done! The swung out along with Conde Regiment and the Spanish Cecile-Nestien horse to envelop the Allied right. The turn ended with the French seeing if their First Line would arrive on the next turn. They rolled a 2, so the First line would not arrive the next turn for them as well.

Things were very desperate for the Allies, they needed to win the initiative on the third turn for many reasons; To realign the Prussian gun to face the oncoming Carabiniers, Conde, and Spanish horse, To deploy Van Welderen in order to secure that flank, and to move The Bothmer Dragoons onto the ridge to take out the French artillery. Lastly, the Nassauers were not going to break through and they needed to extract them from their exposed position. The British watched with concern, not clear as to whether they should support the failing allies or be ready to surrender the field. The initiative roll was made. They won! Now they just needed to get the artillery action card or either Cavalry or Infantry move, before the French cavalry could act. Their first card was Specialized action-not very useful!

The French, who had been tres heureux throughout this engagement-drew a cavalry move card. What followed was extraordinary. First the Carabinier du Roi hit the flank of the Prussian Light artillery battery and rode right over it with another catastrophic win.

IMG_0075Into Van WelderenIMG_0078
Left: Prussian gun overridden Center: Van Welderen destroyed Right: Bothmer. Too!


They then pursued into the flank of the undeployed Van Welderen regiment and took them out with another catastrophic win! They then, rallied and chose to pursue into the flank of the Bothmer Dragoons, who were also undeployed! They, too, were, destroyed. In a matter of minutes, a gun, an infantry unit and a unit of dragoons were eliminated and over 46 dice acquired! The Allied Flank was a shambles. The French had established a gun on the high ground and were ready to secure the entire ridge.

For one hesitant moment, the Allies paused as their Creative Option card allowed yet another chance for the First Line to appear-this time they needed a 3-4-5-6 and rolled a 1! The British officer in Seymour’s regiment was heard to say,” Well, at least there’s been no Englishmen lost,” as Cadogan ordered the advanced guard to retire off the battlefield and back toward the First Line. The English forces had not fired a shot in anger!!! Would this lead to bad blood with the Allies??

This was as decisive a victory as the French have had in any wargame we’ve played. It was their first victory in several battles. Spirits were high. The Carabiniers were cheered throughout the army, as were the stalwart Irish of Clare’s Regiment.

Conclusions:

1. The Allies learned, the hard way, that deployment is clumsy enough in this period that most units should be deployed as a battle starts. Certainly artillery and horse have some added flexibility, but any unit that is not deployed , and not ready to fight on the battlefield is not to be allowed without very, very good reasons.

2. Unsupported cavalry attacks by lone units is never going to be successful in the long run. Ansbach’s Ride to Infamy started the unraveling of the Allied Right. Nassau’s attack over the ridge, had the benefit of surprise and took out a light gun battery, but was not able to break Regiment Clare, and once their bolt was shot, they were done. The fact that the French Commander, Villars, was very well positioned to throw his command weight (Yellow Dice) to Clare and initially to the Carabiniers, while the Allied Commander, Cadogan, was not a factor in many actions by the Allies, added to the debacle.

3. The clumsiness of the Allied deployment was made worse by the inexperience of the Dutch-Prussian player, which was at the root of the faulty deployment, the decision to not contest the village, the lack of considered response to the French deployment which the Allies saw before their own, and to the inadequate spacing of units that caused delay in deployment.

4. The French made few mistakes, and exploited every error by the Allies. They earned this stunning victory.

Game Mechanics

1. Everything went well, though it is only the initial part of the battle of Denain. This is our first “vertical” battle and I LIKE IT! The entire action took less than 2 hours of play time. leaving plenty of time for chat afterwards.

2. The deployment to the flank and rule of 8 makes initial deployment far more tricky than in most games. It accurately reflects the restrictions of maneuver and deployment in this period.

3. The new rules for Battalion Guns, and other changes mentioned on the notes, played very well. They added interest, but did not distort play.

4. The next game will be the confrontation of the French Advanced Guard which gained a total of nearly 80 dice, and lost only one artillery unit, against the combined numbers of the Allied First Line, and the remnants of their advanced guard. They lost an artillery battery, two cavalry units, an infantry unit, and the Nassau Cavalry will have a Black die beginning the next action. Cadogan will be minus 1 die on his command dice. No effect on following First Line’s command. The advance guard, obviously, will contribute NO dice to the Allies and only the First Line Bucket will be in play.

The French First Line will enter on the next(2nd) turn on the Creative Option Card. The Allies Second Line will enter on the next (2nd) turn on the creative option card . Both are automatic. The French Second Line will enter on the 3rd turn on the Creative option card.. Both Armies will then roll for their reserve forces and train, on the Creative Option card of the third turn. Even they arrive-Odd they do not. They will continue to roll on the Creative option card of following turns until their reserves drive.

Terrain: The terrain will mildly favor the Allies, but they will deploy first.

Initiative and Phasing for the next battle: The French may stack their entire deck on the first turn. They may select the first 2 cards of the following turn. They will get a Plus 2 on the first turn initiative roll; a Plus 1 on the second turn initiative roll. Standard phasing and deck randomness thereafter.

This was a great experiment and played to the strength of the Die Fighting rules. Vertical battles are a great way to turn a battle into a mini-campaign. It also allows the “Big” battle, but without swamping the players with units and adds tension to the entire battle narrative. How will the Allies fare once the main body is present? Will it be like Ligny or Quatre Bras before Waterloo? Or the first day at Gettysburg? In both cases the “Loser” came back to win. We will be doing more of these vertical battles in the coming year!




Fantasy as Historical Salt and Pepper

Louis XIV's Wine Wagon


I have stated on this blog in the past my general disinterest in fantasy gaming. Part of the reason may be when I got into wargaming it didn’t exist. (Well, that certainly dates me!)

I got into miniature wargaming in the mid-sixties, after a few years of Avalon-Hill board wargames. At that time, all miniature wargaming was historical as fantasy didn’t truly arrive on the scene until the early 70’s as a reflection of the popularity of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Little did any of us grasp what a change that would make to the hobby. Now, some 44 years later, fantasy is by far the largest element in wargaming, far outnumbering historical gamers at almost every convention except Historicon, where it is now one of the largest “eras” of games played at the premier “Historical” wargame convention. I should be clear as to my definition of “Fantasy” as including pure fantasy, Sci-fi, and alternate universes such as victorian steam-punk, the AVBCW style games, as well as combinations such as Victorian Mars, etc.

My own interests are determinedly historical, as I have always seen the hobby as a doorway to historical inquiry, and an intellectual challenge to portray aspects of the real world as it existed in history. The history aspects of games and game design imposes a limiter and a discernible, researchable, information and data base to examine and attempt to reflect. Fantasy is less confining, and demands little in the way of research other than an internal consistency to the imagined world, and even then, is often nonsensical (30 foot walkers that are prime targets to even present day weaponry) or simply disconnected from physics and fact. Instead of demands for reading many, often conflicting or incomplete sources, and trying to find the best explanation and means of portraying the effect in a game, one simply reads a few very short codexes, and Voila! you are an expert!

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Excerpt from Fantasy Wargame Rule set



I’ve also come to the point where I think Historical rules may need MORE fantasy, not less! “What” You say? “How can that be?”

It’s been a growing feeling on my part that too many Historical miniature games have become too serious, far too pedantic, and, well, more like a dissertation, than a fun game. This is counter-posed by the dummyification of historicals by truly banal, and derivative rules, that are so simple that there is no challenge to the game except rolling the dice and working through to the tedious outcome. This is often a blatant attempt to appeal to the younger, fantasy gamer, that doesn’t want to read, but just play a game.

So we have a diminished middle in historical gaming. It’s either dissertations or History gaming for non-readers. Neither speaks well for historical wargaming’s future, which will depend on gaining some new converts from the young as the old gray hairs fade away. The too intricate will slowly descend into cult status with a few die-hards, and the dully simple will gradually turn Historicals into a bad reflection of Fantasy games. The latter is the more likely for many reasons, among them the lack of barriers to entry. It is also true that fantasy is generally speaking, simply representations of Medieval warfare ala Tolkien with magic added, representations of WWII with Space ships substituted for ships, and “Earthman’s Burden” representations of the joys of Colonialism with Martians and all forms of monsters substituted for natives and “alien” cultures of the East.

What fantasy games do have is (occasionally)humor, a firm “personality” narrative, and a dedication to “Fun” that has gotten too lost in our Historical rules. Historicals need to take these things back into our games, while not tailoring the rules for a sixth grade reading ability or lack of sophistication.


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There is an old story about Winston Churchill that admonished us to carefully and precisely use swear words in daily speech as too frequent use brands the user a lout, and lessens their effect, and not using them at all gives up the impact and punch that they can add to a communication. He advised that they were like the salt and pepper of language-too much ruins a dish, but too little makes it bland and uninteresting.

What historical war-games need now is a small dash of seasoning, to make the dish more appealing and enjoyable. The most easily integrated, and the elements that will most add both humor and fun are Personalities, Narrative, and the “What the F#*K!?” moment. Let me explain.

As I pointed out in my article, “What History? The Markerdom of Tin Armies” The original historical war-games of Stevenson, Wells, and the other “Earlies”, were based on a strong narrative. This was made up of officers and units who had a real personality-specific traits or qualities that made them subtly different from other officers and units. You got to “know” the officers and their foibles over the many games you played.

In Stevenson’s case it was as simple as one unit where the castings had spindly legs, and were very unstable. The means of adjudicating artillery and rifle fire in his Davos Attic games was either a metal projectile from spring-loaded cannon, or a thrown cufflink. The slightest hit and the whole regiment of “Spindlies” would collapse! They had a reputation for failure that rings throughout the tales of the Davos a\Attic campaign. Wells had a similar affection for a certain officer casting which he imbued with near god-like capabilities in his games-including being saved from wounds quite arbitrarily. These are simple, and not very sophisticated, differences, but putting strong personality traits into certain units and officers adds a lot to fun game-play, and supports an on-going narrative that contributes to much laughter, and good-natured ribbing over a number of games or even years.

Many historical rules have provided mathematical differences to officers and units, but too few have gone beyond some simple numerical advantage, or some pluses and minuses to actually inject personality into the gameplay. There should be some stated “soft” differences such as a bad temper, a feud between certain officers in the same army, an officer that is uncommonly loved that the troops would follow anywhere, the stupid son of an important political figure that too often does something stupid with his command. There should be units that have a reputation for excellence quite beyond their type or random chance, and, of course, the reverse corollary of the unit that is always near disaster. Many such ideas ,and the specific qualities of temperament of historical leaders, may be easily found by reading good histories in any period.

These traits can be assigned and overlaid on the basic game rules, or they can be acquired by chance events that happen on the table. In our last game a battery of British Light guns had a brilliant role in the victory by the allies. That has been noted on a database, and a plus will be added to their die roll on their next game’s rating. They may also acquire a “soft” addition to the unit’s reputation that may manifest itself in surprising ways. (Hint, Hint)

Having a narrative requires an ongoing history-all games with that unit or officer should have a thread that connects them and simple records should be kept,even if there is no formal campaign. Even more detailed narratives and traits can be created if there is a formal campaign.

One other thing, there are simply too few “What the F#*K???” moments in many historical war-games. The history of battles and wars is fraught with complete surprises, amazing escapes, and unlikely turns of events. To be sure, the randomness of die rolls can introduce some of this, but the results are often too little of this occurring, and what does occur is not too much of a surprise, or very different from the predictable norm other than in slight degree. This is where cards really shine as a means of introducing the unexpected. It can also be done by scenario, or a combination of the two. Sam Mustapha’s surprising appearance of bad terrain cards in Longstreet, Brent Oman’s Bazaine card appearing in an FPW game of FOB, or my use of the Creative Moment card in DF as a mechanism; all work to do similar things. They are a shock to the gamer, that he must deal with. They break the sheer mathematical march of certainty that only happens on a wargame table. They are wonderful fun in gameplay...for some. (I will admit that there are those that simply can’t deal with things that are not literal, predictable, and unexpected)

Also, there is nothing wrong with introducing plausible, but only quasi-historical, elements into the game. My Louis XIVths Wine Wagon as a permanent part of the French Armies Train is such a device. It adds color, and also holds out the delightful possibility of success being rewarded with a glass of good red wine from a special bottle in my cellar to some lucky players. They may cease to care if they win the game!

All of these things must not become the main course, but remain, as Churchill suggested about foul language, the seasoning, the touch of spice that adds great flavor to the game. But they will allow so much of the nature of real war and battles into the game! No battle existed without some of these personal and surprising events influencing in a major or minor way the outcome. So it is an irony that by introducing more “fantasy” into historical games we make them more realistic!

I know I’m doing it!








The Black Die (Current Status)

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The introduction of the Black Die has made for some very nice improvements and subtle considerations in Die Fighting. In a very real sense it was the final touch needed for the system to really blossom into a simple system that had a number of subtle and complex decision points. It allowed even better modeling of units and combat than the original system.

The Black Die ideas developed over a couple of years of play and over a dozen games. When first introduced, it was simply a negative effect on the performance of a very few units that had performed noticeably badly in a prior game. It was a badge of dishonor, so to speak. That use proved interesting and quite limiting to the unit involved. The usual result was that that unit was detailed off to a very safe, or inconsequential area of the battlefield and was, in effect, quarantined!

The effect of the die was nevertheless quite interesting to me. I experimented it in a different aspect with the Colonial Template that I published in the Files Section of the Yahoo! site. In that sub-set of rules I applied the Black Die to units, especially natives, with every hit, and its effect was solely against movement. This created a very realistic slowing of Zulu or Dervish charges, and found them behaving exactly as described in historical accounts where they slowed, came to a stop, and went to ground. This opened my eyes to a more general and effective use of the Black die in all periods. My last Black Die posting in November of 2013 covered this extended use of the Black dice, which we have used, and slowly developed further since.

I find it adds greater versimilitude to game play in many, if not all, periods. It makes retreats and rallies more central to game play. It actually allows greater decisiveness in combat than the original system with its sometimes rapid retreats. It adds little or no complexity to play, and is consistent with the general dice accretion and rolling system of Die Fighting.

Current Rues For Black Dice

1. On any combat where the defender rolls higher than the attacker in either melee or fire, there is no effect. It is a miss.

2. On any combat hit of 6 or less, a unit may “buy down” the loss by discarding red dice of the same number. The unit remains in good order, fully capable of movement, melee, or fire. The only loss is the red dice.

3. On any combat hit of 7 or more, the unit loses the identical number of red dice to the discard bucket. If the difference is 9, 9 dice are lost; if 15, fifteen dice are lost. If the immediate loss is greater than the initial dice worth of the unit (Example: Line regular units are worth 12) then the unit suffers a catastrophic loss and is removed from the table-obviously unralliable. If the number is less than the initial value, then a single black die is rolled to determine the retreat distance of the affected unit. That Black Die shall then remain with the unit until a successful rally removes it. That Black die is rolled on every action thereafter taken and is subtracted from the totals of the other dice rolled by that unit until it is removed by a rally. If unrallied and another hit of 7 or more occurs, the unit follows the same procedures, but adds an additional Black Die and uses their combined totals as the black dice effect. This continues for any subsequent hits to any number, though 3 black dice generally guarantee the unit is lost from the game.

It affects any fire, melee combat, forward movement, or rally attempt as follows:

a. Fire-simply deducted from the total of other dice.
b. Melee-simply deducted from the total of other dice.
c. Movement-simply deducted from the total of other dice when moving forward toward the enemy. Added to the total when voluntarily retreating from the enemy. It is the distance moved (no other dice added) on any combat-caused involuntary retreat. Any roll of combined Black Dice of 7 or more and the unit is then considered routed, and will involuntarily retreat to the rear. It cannot initiate any combat. It will continue doing this until rallied or it exits the field of battle.

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Total is 16 (Y-R-G) minus 4 (B)= 12


d. Rally- A rally can occur on any Reload, Rally, Restore Card or (New Rule) Officer Action card. The goal as in the regular rules is doubles of a certain number or higher in a roll made up of Red Dice, Yellow Command Dice, and any Green dice allowed. However, the Black die or dice eliminate any doubles of the number rolled on that black die or dice. Example: If a roll of doubles of 4 or higher was required for a rally, and the rallying unit threw a double 5, but a black die of 5 was rolled, then that rally was not counted! One added rally rule is that any triple rolled eliminates ALL black dice, and Black dice do not eliminate that roll!
e. If the total of Black Dice rolled by any unit exceeds the total on the red dice rolled, Command-yellow dice- are NOT counted in the totals for that unit’s attempted action.


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Yellow Die doesn’t count! Total is 13(Green and Red)-11(Black)= 2


That’s it-simple and sweet! Note the change in allowing Rallies under Officer actions as well as under the R-R-R card, and the wonderful effect of triples on a rallying unit. The Black Die exceeding the Red Die eliminating Command dice is also to be closely observed.

Other Ideas for Black Dice

I’m still open to units starting the game with a black die if they preformed badly enough that it was agreed they require further redemption! This should be rare.

For aesthetic reasons I’m planning on substituting casualty figures, painted in the uniform color of the affected unit and mounted on Oval terrained bases, rather than leaving a black die on the unit. DF leaves very few dice on the field of battle as red dice are discarded immediately, green dice are kept at the table edge and returned there after use, as are the yellow dice. I like that and didn’t want Black dice to be an exception.

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I’m also thinking of experimenting with all commanders acquiring black dice as well! Before sending any dice to a unit the black die would be subtracted from the distance roll. Black dice would be acquired by officers anytime a unit under their command loses a combat. They would be lost every time a unit wins a combat. An added thought is that anytime an affected unit throws a 1 on any roll of a black die, his immediate commander is considered either wounded( minus 1 yellow die for remainder of the game) or killed ( removed and replaced with a newly rated commander). The nature of the hit would be a simple die roll 1-2 is killed; 3-6 is wounded.

We’ll try it in the next game.

In Hospital

As may be evident from my postings here, I am particularly proud and protective of my figures, especially my growing WSS army. I have mentioned that my army does not travel, and that the games are played by a great group of guys that I have known for years, and with whom I share a strong interest in History and wargaming. They are great fun to be with, and very tolerant of my latest whims and ideas for rules and scenarios. They are also careful with my toys, which I appreciate!

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The Usual Suspects: L.to R.-Terry Shockey, Greg Rold, John Mumby, Ed Meyers, Chris Caudill


However, even with their great care occasionally accidents do happen. It is a fact of wargaming life that figures will be bent, snapped off their bases, flags will be dislodged, buildings scuffed, and even an occasional spillage of beer or coffee will happen. It is best if a person adopts an attitude from the very beginning that this will occur. I am so fatalistic in this regard, that I actually have a designated few hours later in the week after every wargame, where I take my troops to “hospital.”

This allows me to sort through my forces and note any wear and tear and immediately repair the damage leaving the troops ready for the next engagement in all their splendor. I find if I do this small amount of maintenance on a regular basis, the amount to be done is minimal at any one time and takes far less effort than a general overhaul required over several games.

As many of you know, I am not fond of repetitive tasks, especially painting umpteen copies of the same figure, same pose. Therefore, I concentrate on doing special units or mini-dioramas, such as the Siege Train, Louis XIVth’s Wine wagon, or The General’s Carriage, but am more than happy to send my infantry and cavalry units off to Fernando in Sri Lanka for his expert staff to paint. I have never been disappointed in their work. Usually I use the Collector’s standard for most units, but Guard units, Command figures, and a few others are done to a Showcase level. When spiffied up with flags from The Flag Dude or Maverick UK, and mounted and stands terrained by me, they look very good. (Check out the WSS gallery on the photo section of the Yahoo! site)

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I also use the hospital session to improve the figures, so that over time, my army not only is maintained but actually improved! With the Collector’s Standard this usually entails adding extra detail on the lace or buttons, adding fur textures to thing such as dragoon bonnets, and some additional shading to the horses of mounted units. The Showcase Quality seldom need much, but, even there, a touch of added lace or shading can make them sparkle all the more. I think of it as using the professional painted figures as a base and taking them up a level. I do this gradually over time and find it more creative, and very much as rewarding as starting from scratch.

It also allows me to do minor corrections of painting errors. The most common correction is tinting any white belting so that it is in a natural tan in the WSS, and correcting any errors in minor detail. Hair colors can be corrected to a more natural look if needed. This is seldom required as Fernando does an amazingly accurate and high quality job.

For those of you that are beginners and maybe a few others, I have a few recommendations for running this “hospital”.

Design your placement of units on their bases so as to minimize their exposure to damage. Keep them away from the edges, and make the bases thick enough for a good grip, nothing less than 3mm is, in my mind, sufficient. Keep gun barrels for men and artillery from hanging too far out over the edge of the stand. Deliberately choose poses that are most easily contained within the perimeter of the stand.

In the specific case of standards, they should be fixed at two points on the base and on the figure with super glue, and use a thinner, rather than a thicker wire for the pole. I have found that thinner wire than bends and “twangs” back into position, tend to survive a bit better than thicker more rigid wire. It also helps if the gamers observe the protocol of approaching the stand from behind and below, and not over! I have found that my adding of label bases to the rear of the command stand, has served as a crude, but usable, handle for that stand and flag damage has been minimized. (The label description is in an earlier blog entry-All details are found there.)

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There are also simple things you can do that add immeasurably to the diorama and aesthetic of the game. Among them is simple attention to detail. I find that by including items such as limbers, and wagons, the “look” of a game is immediately improved. I also have become very committed to adding easy detail such as harnessing, drapery, sacks, barrels, to the units. This takes very little extra time and I think takes appearances up by 50% or more.

Harnessing is easily constructed from .10 flat wire of varying widths. It’s very light, easily held by superglue, and takes paint without any problem (Paint it prior to fixing on a model, then touch up the bits where metal flakes off during installation). Be sure to form it with proper tension, taut or loose depending on the poses of the horses.)

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The drapes in my General’s Carriage were made of plain typing paper, cut to shape, painted with acrylics and glued in place; Simple but effective.

My Siege Train illustrates another technique, find unused and non-period specific castings and give them a new life by a new use. The Gun in my siege train is a GW Imperial gun, I re-fashioned the carriage, added Front Rank Wheels (which may be purchased separately) and then through careful painting, adding a Front Rank Limber and Oxen, plus some wire and balsa harnessing turned out pretty well. Both the Siege guns and the General’s Carriage made use of small, fine link chain for added detail to the gun and harnessing. Model railroad shops are pretty good sources for the balsa, wire, and chain details that are needed.

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You need a fairly well organized space in which to work, mine is a pine wood square surface on a cutting mat. A good strong light source, such as my magnifying light that can be repositioned over the work area is ideal.

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You cannot have too many different adhesives. Wood glues, super glues in different strengths (and debonder!), Plastic glues, Epoxy (5 minute) for heavy work that will take some stress, and the inevitable Elmer’s White glue. I also must recommend GOO (not Goop) for use as a strong, waterproof adhesive to mount figures to either metal or wood stands. A little goes a long way, it is easy to use, and allows figures to be cleanly removed from the stand with a good Exacto knife at a later date.

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For snapped off figures, or pinning broken arms, horse legs,etc, or for replace meant gun barrels, I have found fine .020 Carbon Fiber Rod to be invaluable. By drilling a hole in the two pieces and using the rod either as an added strengthener on a figure such as shown below, or a pure splint in a horses leg or tail, it can be glued with any number of adhesives and painted over. It is very tough, has enough flexibility that it is easy to use, and is practically invisible even when exposed. It weighs nothing and can be cut to length with a hobby knife or scissors. The center photo below shows its use as a “Brace” for a figures that had been broken off at the ankles. I also used it to create a whip on the general’s carriage.

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Tools are essential, and I have a number, but a few I particularly found the Chopper to be a handy tool for cutting balsa and basswood strips to exact measure, and with perfect angle cuts.

My other tools are pretty standard; Exacto 8 and 11 bladed knives, pin drill, files, small clamps both plastic and wooden clothes pins, but I might point out a few other nice tools. A metal forceps with clamping action is very nice for handling small detail and arranging and holding items such as flat wire for harnessing. Craft toothpicks are very handy for everything from paint to glue application. Lately, I have also gotten a box of clear, light plastic disposable gloves. These really make cleaning up your hands after spray painting or handling certain adhesives very quick and easy-you just throw away the gloves-no scrubbing! A steel ruler with a firm straight edge is also a handy, handy tool.

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I truly enjoy my “hospital” time, and encourage you all to spend a few minutes a week-repairing and improving your troops, the result will make you even more eager to show your troops on parade review!

The Last Battle (of 2013)-A Bridge Too Distant

We had our last game of 2013 on Friday the 27th of December at Chez Jones. It was a very different game as the scenario only required a small fraction of my WSS armies, and it wasn’t a stand up battle, but a running engagement involving cavalry, infantry, light guns, and an immense train!

The scenario was that the French train was proceeding to reinforce a siege at Douai which, if it arrived, would probably lead to the fall of the fortifications. The Allies, hearing of the report of the approaching train, dispatched a large mixed raiding force consisting of 5 infantry and 7 horse plus a light gun to intercept and either capture or destroy the train and its reinforcements. The French, aware that an attempt to attack the train was possible, followed standard practice for the era and established an escort for the train of 3 infantry and 5 cavalry with a light gun and a heavy howitzer. Additionally, the besieging forces at Douai dispatched two infantry to head back to reinforce the rain the train. The make up of both forces may be found at the Repiquerules Yahoo site in the A Bridge Too Distant folder.

In an attempt to intercept the train the allied forces were scattered over the countryside. When word came of the train’s location they approached the French forces from three different directions. The area of road that the train was traversing at this time was a hilly, wooded area with a stream running through the area that was running high from recent rains and was uncrossable, except by the designated bridges.

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The Allies could enter from at least two of the three entry points designated A, B or C. They could deploy in any groupings they desired, under the restrictions of the officer command rules. Each entry site had to roll higher than a certain number on a d6 before any units could enter. Point A merely needed to roll higher than 2; Point B higher than 3 and point C higher than 4. The French could deploy the so the leading edge of the Train was 24” into the table on the road. Other troops could deploy on either or both sides of the train, and two units could deploy immediately in front of the train.

The train guard of horse, foot, and guns, all moved as normal, but the train itself would move using suitable corrections for green dice, and could receive yellow dice from the train commander. The train only rolled once per move phase for the entire road group to move and all moved that distance on that turn.

To capture any element of the train, the attackers merely needed to touch it with one of their units.

Set-up conditions:

The French were allowed to deploy the train two feet down the road with two units of the escorting force ahead of the train by 12”. Other members of the escort could line up on either side of the road in any desired formation. The trailing forces would appear as the train moved. The order of march had to be stated for both the train and the escort prior to the game beginning.

Each unit of the train had a different multiplier value for points (dice) if captured with the siege guns being the highest (10X), and the small powder wagons the lowest (4X).

The Allies could designate which forces were attempting to enter at points A,B, or C.

The final pre-game procedure was the selection of officers. Rather than merely rating them, as per the standard rules, we experimented with a new method. Since all my officer stands are now designated and labeled as being a particular historical general of the period, I researched their general traits, skills, and personalities,and assigned them a certain number of Officer dice. Each officer had three numbers; one represented his command on a good day, one on an average day, and one when he was off his game, so to speak. A 1-2-3 officer would get three command dice on a very good day, usually two, and on a bad die decline to only one command die. Some officers could be verity consistent, say a 3-3-3, or, some, such as Marlborough consistently high with a 4-5-5.

Each gamer would draw three cards from a face down four card selection-10-J-Q-K and that would indicate which officer he had for his sub-command. Then he would roll a single d6; 1-2 a poor day, 3-4 and average day, and 5-6 a good day was indicated. Obviously the original selection of four officer cards would indicate that one of the officers would not be present at that battle. Both the allied and the French selection included some good, and not so good potential commanders. As it turned out this would make some difference.

The last new idea involved the placement of small wooden stars painted in one of several national colors. These stars placed on an officer stand would indicate which other nationalities the officer could command, other than the one indicated by his label. (A red labeled British officer could give orders (command dice) to any other British unit with a red label, but no one else, UNLESS he had an orange star for the Dutch, or a yellow star for the Austrians, etc. The same would apply to all officers for both sides. A French officer with Bavarian troops under his command at the battles commencement would have a sky blue star. The commander of the entire force would be indicated by a gold star, as he could command anyone in the army. This enforces some pre game thinking about force organization, and prevented ad hoc changes as circumstances changed on the battlefield.

The pre-game forces, ratings, the officer descriptions, and all other special rules may be found in the “Bridge Too Distant” Folder on the Yahoo! Repiquerules site. Please refer to them as you are reading this report.

The Game

The pre battle officer assignments did not go well for the French, as the British got William Cadogan as the leader of their force and he had excellent command skills, and rolled high so that he was having a good day. The other commanders, Overkirk and Cutts, both rolled high as well. The French, on the other hand, drew Tallard as their over all commander, and he rolled poorly. He would have a mere one die to give, and that only on the roll of a 4-5-6! The other two commanders were somewhat better, with Villeroi being average, and Compte deTesse having a good day.

The game started with the Allies deciding to use three forces with Dutch force under Overkirk and a light artillery entering at “C’. An infantry and Cavalry force under the force commander at “A”, and the strong dragoon force entering under Cutts at “B”.

The French had set up their order of march as follows:

1. The cavalry in column of route to the left of the road, between the low hill and the train. Villeroi leading.
2. The Infantry in Column of route to the right of the road. De Tesse Leading.
3. Both the Light Gun and the Howitzer led the train at the head of the column Tallard Leading train and guns.
4. The train ran from the most valuable near the head of the Column (Pontoon Train, Siege Guns, Wine Wagon) followed by Powder wagons and Supply Wagon.

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There were no objective markers in the game as the objective was not to gain ground but either get the train off the two exit roads, if French, opt stoop them, if British. It is a pretty straight forward scenario.

The Unfolding of Events

The French had a number of things transpire against them from the very beginning. First was the very poor quailty of their commander, which was compounded by giving him the train. He provided little help to anyone, including no ability to help the train increase its movement much. The French had also stacked their train and guns with the guns on the road ahead of the train, which meant if the Train movement card came up before the guns, the Train could not move on that turn. It did and the Train lost one whole move! (They would have been better served to have the guns off the road-to either side, but still in the lead.) Traffic management of trains is an uncharted country!
Lastly, the Allies opted for deployment in all three locations, and rolled their entry number on the first roll! This was particularly harsh when the Dutch appeared near the alternate bridge route!

The Allies entered in column and flung themselves to the task of intercepting the train.

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The main force was a good distance away, but a force of Dragoons at “B” (upper left of photo)was cutting thorough the Class III woods to occupy the village on the main route and so deny passage to the French.

Seeing this, the French galloped their dragoons forward to contest the woods, and moved the guns to secure the alternate route by opening fire on the Dutch on the far side of the swollen stream.

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But the Allies were simply too well commanded, and the Dragoons under Cutts got through the Class III woods with great alacrity and swept out around the French forces intended to drive them out of the woods and away from the village.


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At this point a French force sent from the distant siege at Douai, made up of the Picardie and Dauphin regiments appeared, rushing forward to drive the Dutch from the bridge area near the chateau. This gave the French some hope of opening the alternative route.

But then disaster struck in every area! The Allied Dragoons, led by Hays Dragoons, broke out of the woods and took the village, denying the route to the French without extensive fighting. The Dutch troops with an attached British battery, then dealt a further 1-2 punch, first firing on the French relief force, and halting it in its tracks with several losses, and then wheeling the light battery and knocking out the French light gun that was attempting to re-position itself into better range.

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At this point, the French had both routes blocked, they had lost a gun battery, and the Allies were not only getting the best of it, but the route of escape back up the road was threatened. Even Tallard perceived that a retreat was their only option. The game was ended with the further loss of a supply wagon and a powder wagon in addition to the gun. When the relief force returned to tell the tale, the siege was lifted and the Allied forces in Douai cheered lustily at the retreating French.

The engagement had lasted exactly 2 1/2 hours of playing time, and a good time was had by all. The game day was ended with a couple of bottles of Chandon champagne shared between the victors and the chastened French.

Conclusions:

1. The French deployment was faulty and the bad traffic management caused by the guns delaying the column cost them a full move, and a better chance at getting to the village and securing it.

2. The French needed a mixed force on both sides of the road, not pure cavalry or Infantry as they chose to do. The cavalry side had no reply to the British and Austrian foot. The Infantry side had small chance of getting to the alternate road bridge before the Dutch without the speed of cavalry.

3. The advantage that the Allies had in command showed clearly as the game wore on, they were simply the firstest with the mostest at every point. The French were particularly disadvantaged drawing Tallard and then rolling poorly, while the Allies got Cadogan and he was having a very good day! I do very much like the way the command issues are developing. The leaders make a good difference, but the engagement was lost by other decisions more than the command issue. This system actually makes commanders “units” of value, and reinforces the historical nature of period personalities. There is still much to develop, but it looks very promising.

4. The French needed better focus in their plan. They needed to race ahead with cavalry to secure the village and the bridge as a first priority. The needed to clear the road in front of the train so that it got every move without delay. It is just too slow to allow any loss of movement to be made up.

Game Considerations

1. The black die system worked like a charm. I will post the “Final” (?) rules this week.

2. As I said above, the officer characterization is here to stay. I look forward to developing it for other periods as well.

3. I might set the entry rolls for the Allies even higher. I think they were set to low, and along with the command issues, made the game too tough for the French. I think I would set the Two British at 5 or 6, and Overkirk’d Dutch at 6 only to enter. The scenario needs some honing and tweaking.

4. The British Battery, and the Dutch Commander (Overkirk-John Mumby) deserve full battle honors and promotion.

All that said, I think it was great fun in the playing. The next game is February 22, 2014 and the Allied Commander will have the services of the “General’s Carriage” in lieu of this victory. I just completed this kit which is a Blue Moon kit, but customized with draperies, a mounted trumpeter/herald, and, as usual, full harness! Note the whip on the Driver’s left. I’m very proud of this addition to my forces.



General's Carriage

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