A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

History as Farce - [look behind you!]

A few years ago, I spent a good while pondering the dreadful reviews of the 2002 French TV mini-series Napoleon, and decided that I should give it a miss. Eventually, a very cheap new copy turned up on eBay and - of course - I bought it. Since then I have managed to find lots of other things to do, so have avoided having to pluck up the courage to watch it. Last couple of days I thought it was probably time to give it a go, as the Christmas visitors have gone home and the New Year visitors have not yet arrived, so I have watched the first 2 instalments. My oh my.

The Ill-Tempered Clavier?

First thing I was dreading was the rumour I heard that the dialogue is badly overdubbed into English - you know the sort of thing - the young heroine's lips move rapidly and vehemently for 2 minutes, and the voice of an elderly American actress is heard to say "No way!". I had spent some little time trying to get a French-language version with English subtitles, but in fact it was a false rumour - the actors do speak English lines (so presumably there are different versions), though it is clear that on occasions they do not necessarily understand what they are saying. That's fine - you can get the hang of that. Oh yes - and my DVD, unless you do something about it, has Danish subtitles, which is probably why I got it cheap. OK - suppress the subtitles. Relax. Enjoy.

Christian Clavier - who certainly has commendable charisma - plays Napoleon as a pantomime character [oh yes he does!]. He is also, to put it bluntly, a very short, middle aged man with a comedic appearance - and no amount of his staring at the horizon changes that. The make-up applied to make him into Young Napoleon is a hoot, in fact all romantic scenes (and there are a great many) are a bit of a hoot, since his ladies are all, to a man(?), maybe a foot taller than he is. which makes staring into each other's eyes hazardous.

As far as the military stuff goes, we obviously have to cut them a fair amount of slack - a great deal of money was spent, and they really tried very hard, so it would not be reasonable to carp on about detail errors in uniforms or about the impossibility of doing a convincing full-scale reproduction of Austerlitz in a film (though, come to think of it, Bondarchuk did a good job of exactly that, but he had advantages of cheap manpower). It is attractive to watch - it is, after all, a fairy tale. There is a point where NB says "I have an army of 150,000 men with which I can conquer Europe!", and shortly (sorry - I mean quite soon) afterwards we see his army in action, and we manage to avoid thinking "so where are the other 149,875?".

I'm actually enjoying it a lot, though it has required a little adjustment to achieve this. It is soap opera, and not very high grade soap, at that. Empire-dale Farm, maybe? The Imperial family sitting in a semi-circle, taking turns to speak, is in the best traditions of high school drama groups the world over. The small Boy Scout camp which houses the army of invasion at Boulogne raises only a slight smirk once you have entered into the spirit of the thing. The history is a little odd, maybe - astonishing omissions and some surprising amounts of time given to what I would have dismissed as trivia, which just goes to show what a good thing it is for everybody that I don't work in television. It is pretty clear that the director (Yves Simoneau) has taken some major liberties with Max Gallo's novels (on which the films are based), and I leave it to someone who has read them to offer an opinion about the liberties that Mr Gallo had already taken with history-as-we-know-it. Not to worry - we have a gripping story, we have some colourful characters, we have a context which is close to my heart, and it is beautifully filmed. Pass the chocolates and get me another brandy and I am a happy bunny.

Nah - something jars.

It is very like the feeling I got watching the old Sherlock Holmes movies - I used to wonder why Dr Watson never told Holmes what a patronising, appallingly boring oaf he was - what a total lack of interpersonal skills he was cursed with, what a tragic shortage he had of compassion, or humility, or any other redeeming qualities - and hit him very hard with his umbrella. Or a large haddock would have done the trick. I would have stood and cheered - and no doubt would have been banned from the cinema.

Yes - it's the Alimentary Watson Effect. Napoleon utters his great plan for Austerlitz - "we will retreat a little, and when they follow us down the hill, we will charge back and kick the sheet out of them" (or something like that), and I swear the assembled General Staff all go "ooooooh!". Every line he speaks comes straight out of Napoleon's Quotations [the Concise Edition], and is delivered with the same, sneering, wide eyed expression of crazed over-confidence. I suspect that he will get his come-uppens in later instalments - history suggests that there may be a little of that. In the meantime, as well as the choccies and the armagnac, I intend to keep a large haddock handy.

Then I can relax and enjoy it fully.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Big Shiny Wargames Rules Books - and the occasional nugget

Every now and then I thin out my collection of wargames rules, and each time the process is roughly the same.

(1) I cannot find something that I know is in the bookcase somewhere - perhaps it's in the overflow area - well, maybe it's in the overflow area for the overflow area...

(2) What on earth is this? - I didn't know I had this rule set - when did I buy/download this? Let's have a cup of coffee and a browse for a minute.

(3) Hmmm - nicely put together, but I'm never going to use these. Put them in the OUT pile...

(4) Now - where was I?

In this way, I have had most of the Napoleonic rules you can think of at some time or other. The life-cycle is obscure - usually I can't remember buying them - they sneak in under the radar from somewhere, often via eBay, I guess - I have a preliminary read when they arrive, get bored or alienated part-way through and then forget all about them. I am constantly reminded, as I have discussed here before, how fashions change. There was a time when rules came in stapled booklets, sometimes with a few card pull-outs for templates and key tables, and the cover illustration would be done by someone who knew the uniforms but couldn't draw for toffee - the sort of artwork now found only on Odemars boxes.

However, at present there are a lot of big, very impressive hardback rules volumes on sale - I just did a quick scan of Amazon, and found all sorts - often retailing at around the £30 mark, usually around 200 pages, and copiously illustrated. The cost puts me off most of them anyway, but also many seem to be picture books about the whole subject of wargaming. They are attractive, and I quite enjoy looking at this sort of thing (though I probably wouldn't choose to own many), but often they appear to be written for newcomers to the hobby. Field of Glory looks nice (though anything published by someone called Slitherine somehow puts me on my guard - someone may think it's trendy and now, but it puts me in mind of a period many years ago when I used to have to try to take seriously commercial software companies with names like Shadowfax). I haven't read the Black Powder book (books?), but it looks (they look?) terrific. And then there's the Neil Thomas books, which seem to get a mixed press - all potentially of interest. Anything which promotes the hobby and attracts new people to it is to be welcomed, I suppose, but we have to be sure to remember why we are buying what we are buying.

So it came as a surprise to find I have no less than 3 big shiny books which I haven't read yet. Since they all finish up in the same end of the Tall Books shelf, their threeness was made even more obvious. In the kind of phoney war period just before Christmas, when the visitors haven't come yet but I have put away my paints in readiness, I got the Big Three down and had a look.

I have the Wargames Foundry Napoleon book by Matthew Fletcher - I have it because it was on a half-price offer and they were offering free shipping on paints if you bought a book. Ker-ching. The book is fun - it is exactly the sort of promotional view of Foundry's gnomish figures you would expect. The rules are wordy and quite Grand Manner-ish - laborious handling of skirmishers, for example - but they appear to boil down to a 2-page QRS - which you would have to photocopy if you wanted to make use of it. The rest is a hotch-potch of history, painting guides, pictures and more pictures - only some of which are relevant to the text. I enjoyed looking at the book, but will never refer to it again, will never attempt to read it right through, and am left thinking that it falls between two stools - it is too padded to be a useful presentation of a rule set, but the tables and so on make it far too fiddly a read for someone looking for a general introduction. Nice though...

Next to it is Lasalle, from Sam Mustafa's Honour series. Now I'm not going to say anything critical about Lasalle - it has a lot of enthusiastic followers, and looks like a good game, though I'm not crazy about the Command rules. I also have a faint concern that Mustafa - not noted for accepting the views of others - might arrange for a horse's head to be placed in my bed if I make any dissenting noises. I am actually a fan - I have played Grande Armée, and I liked Fast Play Grande Armée (which really only existed in unpublished, beta-test form), though eventually I was disillusioned when the Command rules did not provide the degree of Fast Play I was looking for. My main gripe against Prof Mustafa is that he seems to have given up on Bluecher - the grand tactical bit of the Honour series which was the one I was really waiting for - but his credentials are well established - his games are played by many experienced people, and I am sure they work well. I am disappointed that my (second hand) copy of Lasalle shows signs of splitting down the spine - this is not a cheap production - but it is all there, including a heavy duty pull-out QRS. Looks good, actually - I have decided I will have a serious go at Lasalle sometime soon.

The most surprising one of the three is the rule book for Napoleon at War, which is the new figures-&-rules-&-concept-&-packaging move from the man who brought us NapoleoN Miniatures. The figures are 18mm - I have only seen pictures - and I have no intention of buying any, but I bought the book for old time's sake. It is clearly related to the old NapoleoN rules - the hexes are gone, but the interesting rule whereby moving and manoeuvring is slower and more difficult when close to the enemy is still there, overall the game looks sensible and well thought out and the translation into English is a lot smoother. For me, it does have the advantage of being aimed at the sort of big battle I enjoy most. There is a little bit of the rules which I took a great liking to - it is maybe not that significant - it may not even be original (some of the NapoleoN systems were said to be borrowed from Flames of War, for example, which is a noble tradition), but I liked the simplicity.

It is in the very basic area of casualty calculation. Personally I cannot be bothered keeping written rosters, I don't care for casualty markers or miniature dice (though I have used them), and I don't want singly-based figures (too much hassle and too many broken bayonets) - I like my units to be either still in action or not - or at least to be disabled in big enough lumps to make the handling and the arithmetic easy and the level of attrition to be immediately visible. I like my casualties to come off in complete subunits or not at all. The NaW rules have infantry battalions which typically comprise 6 square bases each of 4 figures; the approach is buckets-of-dice - each base in the front row gets 2D6 when they fire (only 1D6 if they are moving, or being charged for less than a full move), and a 4 or better on each dice gets you a hit - there are further adjustments for cover and troop class and all that, but basically Peter Young would recognise this as a good standard approach. And then there is a Saving Throw - before you groan out loud, it is a Saving Throw such as I have not seen before, though you may have.

Each complete 4 hits removes a base, and any odd hits left over are the subject of a 1-dice Saving Throw (carried out by the owner of the target unit). If the dice comes up greater than the number of odd hits, then you forget them - if not, you lose another base. I like it - it is crude enough for me to be able to remember it, it gets the commander of the target unit involved in the firing process, and makes the "luck" element of the game lumpy enough to be entertaining. I do not use 4-man bases, but I do use 6-man bases, and it occurs to me that the same mechanism would work just as well for them. No doubt I'll forget I read this too, but - if only briefly - I did like it.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Little Potty?

In a spirit of seasonal bonhomie, I felt I would share with you this picture of an interesting novelty from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Yes, it is a chamber pot, and, yes, that is His Majesty the Emperor of the French depicted inside.

Yet again the English flair for combining practicality with good taste is in evidence. Antique collectors and scatophiles the world over, please take note.

Something which might be less obviously useful, but which I was asked for, is a readable summary of my proposed additions to Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (CCN) for a Grand Tactical variant (which I have called GTCCN for the moment). The idea is that this gives a couple of extra sheets which can be clipped to the original CCN Rule Booklet.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Napoleon at Christmas

I'm going to be busy for a while, so this blog will be quiet for a week or two. It's probably a bit early for a Christmas greeting, but here it is anyway.

I wish everyone, whatever your religion or political standpoint, a peaceful and comforting Christmas, and - to anyone who reads this blog - all the very best in the New Year, and thanks for your company.

This image is borrowed from those brilliant people at Worth1000, where you can see the very best in graphic design.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

SPAM - everyone's favourite

Today I have removed the MSFoy email address from my Blogger profile, simply because the amount of spam is getting to be a problem. This is a shame, because I probably get more contacts through email than via the Comments facility.

I've been getting increasing numbers of emails from what appear to be genuine companies, saying how much they admire my blog (well, of course) and would I kindly put a permanent free advert for their products on the blog. First one was from a model shop, which sort of makes some sense, but since then I've had all sorts of rubbish - clothes shops, the inevitable viagra suppliers, a fast food chain (in the USA), even a firm of ambulance-chasing lawyers. It is obvious from the dumb wording of the emails that these things are computer generated. I've had about a dozen of them in the last week, and that is more than enough.

I don't do advertising on the blog, and if I did it would be for friends, or for money (or both!). If someone uses a robot to email me requesting a link, I'm fairly confident that hitting any link of theirs will get you into some referencing or portal scam site.

Speaking of which, if anyone browsing their Blogger stats notices they have hits from a URL domar.ru, do not click on it to see who/what it is, and do not ever enter this URL into your browser. If you do, you get onto a website for a referencing scam (which appears to be based in Texas), and some creep will tell you that he makes $600,000 a month doing nothing at all, and if you contact him you can make this kind of money and be a creep too. If you click on "No Thanks" you get a message which says "But you are missing the chance of a fortune" or similar, and you may then have to switch off the computer to get away from that screen, and get SpyBot fired up as soon as possible to get rid of the smell.

If you have had domar.ru featuring in your Traffic Sources, it doesn't mean that some unspeakable life form has been looking at your blog and your fave links and the pictures of your kids etc - domar.ru has just hacked into Google's Blogger stats server, and produced spurious hit records exactly so that you will click on it to see who it is.

Back to the email situation - if for any reason anyone does wish to contact MSFoy without publishing a formal Comment, just send a Comment which includes a note that you don't want it published, and include your email address if you want me to get back to you. I'm sorry this is necessary, and it will mean that only people with valid Google accounts can make contact, but on the other hand it probably means that I won't hear from the profane Chuck or the life-threatening foxhole95 again.

In many ways, the world isn't really ready for civilisation yet, I'm afraid.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Solo Campaign - Commands & Colors Grand Tactical Variant

This post is going to look at what, if anything, I need to do to GMT's Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (CCN) rules to allow them to handle bigger battles. If you are not a CCN user, or could not care less, some of the reasoning might still be of interest. If you would like to see the rules of CCN, you can download them from here.

Last year I put a lot of effort into developing my in-house grand tactical Napoleonic rules, which - through lack of inspiration - kept their joke working title of MEP (short for moins est plus). I did a lot head-scratching and testing, and eventually carried out a refight of Salamanca (Los Arapiles), which in hindsight may have been a tad over-ambitious. The reason this all becomes relevant again is because I will need some means of managing very large battles for my coming solo Peninsular campaign. I have banged on about some of this in previous posts, and thus I will try not to say all the same things again, but I must explain up front that by Grand Tactical I mean that the units on the tabletop are brigade-sized.

My MEP version of Salamanca threw up a number of issues to do with command and activation, and especially with the endless chore of managing skirmishers and artillery, which really became a problem. So much for streamlining the game and abstracting unnecessary levels of detail! Around the same time, I became acquainted with CCN, and since then I have become a devoted user, relishing what I have previously described as an order-of-magnitude improvement in playability over my previous rules - the CCN mechanisms and systems are developed from other similar games, are tested and proved to a commercial boardgame standard, and they hang together and actually work. I mean quickly and logically. The feel of CCN, as I have also said before, is like the old, fun battles I fought when I was first involved in wargaming, the chief difference being that the game doesn't have all the old holes and patches that used to stop the flow and cause arguments.

CCN obviously is not going to be everyone's cup of tea - although I use miniatures with the rules almost exclusively it is, after all, a hex-grid boardgame, which is a major turn-off for many. Also it does not allow you to enjoy deploying your column into line, or handling skirmishers, so if that is your favourite part of Napoleonic warfare you should look elsewhere. For me, it works well. The card-based activation system is simple but challenging (and avoids the exhaustion which comes from marching entire armies pointlessly around the table), the special battle dice are easy to use, and the games run quickly enough to come to a successful conclusion, which is a colossal plus in my book. A regular feature of my wargames over the years has been the feeling of disappointment when I couldn't raise the enthusiasm (or the opponent) to finish off the previous evening's unfinished epic. 

In the Introduction to the rule booklet for CCN is the following claim:

The scale of the game fluctuates, which allows players to effectively portray epic Napoleonic battles, as well as smaller historical actions. In some scenarios, an infantry unit may represent an entire division, while in others a unit may represent a single regiment or battalion. The Napoleonic tactics you will need to execute to gain victory conform remarkably well to the advantages and limitations inherent to the various Napoleonic national armies of the day and the battlefield terrain features on which they fought.

OK - if we gloss over the promotional overtones, the scalability bit is very interesting. A quick read of the example scenario booklet which comes with the game makes it obvious that the scale of the Waterloo scenario is obviously rather larger than Rolica. If this nice, crisp game is really scalable in this way, then this is a most attractive idea. Here was the starting point for my previous consideration of what adjustments would be necessary for a grand tactical [my definition] variant of CCN, which, to save typing, I shall have the conceit to call GTCCN for the time being. Adjustments? - hmmm - if it works in its basic form, the best approach is to leave it alone if possible, not easy for a life-long tinkerer/improver/wrecker.

So I set myself a First Objective, which was "only change the game if it is really necessary to do so in order to avoid scaling distortions".

This is all about putting another tick on my list of things to do for the campaign, since a set of rules for big battles, compatible with CCN, is required. I shall move on to run a test battle using this trial version of GTCCN – it will probably be after the holiday period now. This trial was going to be another shot at Salamanca, but I may try something else. My definition of what constitutes a big battle is up for grabs – currently I am thinking of a battle where the number of CCN units (including Leaders) on either side would exceed 30, but I may change may mind when I see how it looks.   

I must point out at this stage that one of GMT's future expansions to CCN will be a larger, Grande Battle [sic] version, similar to the Epic version of Commands & Colors: Ancients or the Overlord version of Memoir 44 from the same originators. These games are primarily intended as multi-player games on a double-width board, and are thus designed as wide versions of the same-game-with-more-units, rather than the same-game-with-bigger-units which I am looking for. Thus, though I am sure CCN Grande Battle will be a terrific game, my ideas for GTCCN are heading in a different direction, to meet my need for a big battle manager in my own campaigns.

What I'll do here is set out the areas I have considered - I hope this becomes structured enough to follow! - and list the rule amendments I have developed. Bear in mind that I am trying hard to make amendments only where the scale change makes it necessary.

Ground Scale

If we are going to have more men in a hex, it stands to reason that there is an implied change to the ground scale. CCN does not state scale assumptions, which is sensible since each scenario is designed to fit a specific battle onto the board, so I’ll base this exercise on CCN rather than going back to metres/paces and starting the game design from scratch. In CCN, a combat unit (for example, an infantry battalion, normally of 4 "blocks" strength) will occupy a hex. It is possible to add a Leader to the same hex, but otherwise one unit to one hex is the rule. For reasons which are not very scientific, I sort of visualise a 4-block battalion is some parody of Column of Grand Divisions, 2 wide by 2 deep. It would be very convenient if in GTCCN a battalion were represented by a single block (let's see you deploy that into line!), which is half as wide on the board, which effectively doubles the ground scale - in other words, whatever the size of a hex is in CCN, it is something like twice that in GTCCN, and the terrain features depicted in the hexes become twice as big.

Time Scale

Righto - what does that do to the movement rates? In CCN, infantry may move 1 hex - there are some exceptions for light infantry, but 1 hex is the norm. Easiest approach is to leave that alone and assume that the turns last twice as long - so the implied time scale (whatever it was) is doubled, and infantry still move 1 hex - all movement rates are unchanged, though they are twice as far on the ground. That was easy.

Sanity Check - Artillery Units   

A faint klaxon sounds when you consider artillery. A battery in CCN is 3 blocks strong, and occupies a hex, and CCN also has the concept of a “reduced” battery, i.e. one that has only a single block remaining. Using the same approach as for the infantry, we can scale things down by making the standard 6-8 gun battery a single block, so that the “reduced” battery unit becomes the standard arrangement for anything less than a massed grand battery. Insisting on such a reduced battery occupying a hex on its own doesn't seem right, so I have adopted an approach for artillery whereby a battery may be deployed in two different ways:

(1) Up to 3 such batteries may be brigaded together as a single Grand Battery, which is a unit in its own right. A 3-block battery of this type is just like the normal CCN battery, apart from some trimming of the ranges (see later).

(2) Otherwise, batteries will normally be used in a divisional role, at 1-block strength, and will correspond to CCN’s “reduced” form. A big change here is that they may be attached to (or separated from) a brigade in the same way that Leaders are handled in CCN. This will require specific orders, and my original feeling was that they should only be allowed to join a brigade from the same division, but I've dropped that idea for the moment because the game may be tricky enough without that constraint. A brigade may have both a Leader and a battery attached, though no more than 1 of each. A Leader or Battery may be given orders along with a brigade if they are attached, but they are really distinct units, and count as Victory Banners in their own right if lost. Thus, for example, a brigade with attached battery which receives an Artillery hit on the battle dice will lose the battery, and a Victory Banner is awarded to the opposition, though the rest of the brigade is still in the field.

Missile Ranges

In CCN, there is Melee Combat (which is what you do to people in the next hex – and note carefully that includes short range fire as well as the use of bayonets and swords, so all canister fire is included in Melee) and Ranged Combat (which is firing at people further away). Ignoring tactical variations, CCN gives ranges thus:

Muskets             2 hexes
Rifles                  3 hexes
Horse Artillery   4 hexes
Foot Artillery      5 hexes

Since the ground scale has changed, we have to trim the ranges down. My approach is a touch crude – I simply reduce all the ranges by 1 hex. This means that foot artillery can now probably fire a bit further than in the original game, but they are so ineffective at extreme range that I am hoping it will not be a problem. If we adopt a range for muskets of 1 hex, then we can make this part of Melee Combat, and muskets will no longer carry out Ranged Combat. [I make a careful note at this point to check later that I haven’t devalued infantry by this assumption.] Thus my revised table for GTCCN becomes:

Muskets            none - included in Melee
Rifles                 2 hexes
Horse Artillery   3 hexes
Foot Artillery      4 hexes

Mixed Units

The units are now to be brigades, which includes Grand Batteries. To keep the game playable, I outlaw brigades of infantry mixed with cavalry. The “blocks” within a brigade will now represent the constituent battalions, cavalry regiments or attached batteries. Note that either type of artillery (foot or horse) may be attached to an infantry brigade, but only horse artillery may be attached to cavalry, and that horse and foot artillery must be kept separate when forming grand batteries.

Although the idea has been to avoid considering the detail of the scales, assume that an infantry block represents a battalion, a cavalry block is a regiment, an artillery block is a battery of 6-8 guns. It would be nice to have a one-to-one mapping of regimental blocks against a historical OOB, but, if working from historical numbers, allocate (about) one block per 600 men for infantry, per 300 men for cavalry, per battery (company) for artillery. If you can represent each unit which was present with a block then that is terrific, but the total for the brigade is the important thing. Thus a company of 50 men from the 5/60th Rifles attached to a brigade in the original OOB is insignificant on this game scale – you don’t get a Rifles block just for that.

Note also that Ranged Combat is now going to be carried out at block level. If a brigade contains one or more Rifle blocks, and/or an attached battery, these blocks will be able to fire individually if the brigade has orders – and remember that 1-block artillery batteries correspond to “reduced” batteries in the CCN rules.

As an example, the British Light Division in the Peninsular War might consist of

1st Brigade
            1/43rd Ft            (750 all ranks)
            2/95th Rifles       (400)
            1st Cacadores    (500)
2nd Brigade
            1/52nd Ft            (800)
            1/95th Rifles       (550)
            3rd Cacadores    (500)
plus a horse battery

In GTCCN, each brigade would be represented by single unit of 1 British LT + 1 Portuguese LT + 1 British RL (rifle light) = 3 blocks, which would move and melee (on average) as British Light Infantry, and would be entitled to 1 block of rifle-armed Ranged Combat. And, of course, the 1-block HA horse battery may be attached to either of these brigades, or may be left to operate on its own.

Though this may appear disrespectful, in my game the French Léger regiments are classed as LI (line infantry), not LT – I consider this appropriate for the Peninsular War.

A brigade will move at the rate of its slowest block type – thus mixed light and heavy cavalry may move only at heavy cavalry speed.

A brigade will carry out Melee Combat as if it were all of its predominant type – if more than one type is equally represented, the owner may choose. A brigade of 1 Grenadier battalion and 3 of Line will fight as Line. A brigade of 2 light cavalry blocks and 2 heavy may fight as heavy or light cavalry as the owner chooses (though its moves are limited to the slower, heavy cavalry rate).

Losses to a mixed brigade – if they are not obvious from the Battle Dice results (e.g. an artillery symbol) these will be from the predominant type; if more than one type is equally represented, the owner may choose.

If a cavalry or infantry brigade is eliminated which has a battery attached, the battery will be lost also.

Numbers of Battle Dice

For infantry and cavalry units, the rules are the same as for CCN, though only eligible blocks may use Ranged Combat.

For artillery, there are some changes to the rules - the bonus for Guard artillery is dropped, all ranges are reduced, and the numbers of battle dice are now thus:

Foot artillery (3-block Grand Battery) – 4 dice for Melee, and 3, 2, 1 dice at range 2, 3 or 4 hexes respectively
“Reduced” (1-block) Foot artillery – 3 dice for Melee, and 2, 1, 0 dice at 2, 3 or 4 hexes

Horse artillery (3-block Grand Battery) – 3 dice for Melee, and 2, 1 dice for range 2, 3 hexes. No fire at range 3 is permitted if the battery moved.
“Reduced” (1-block) Horse Artillery – 2 dice for Melee, and 1, 0 dice for range 2, 3 hexes.
The CCN rule whereby a “reduced” horse battery may not move and fire is dropped, since 1-block batteries are the norm in GTCCN.

Squares in GTCCN

Essentially, the rules for forming and fighting in square are the same as for CCN. If a brigade of infantry is ordered into square, it may mean that the whole brigade forms one big square or – more likely – an array of battalion squares. It doesn’t matter – the GMT-supplied marker indicates that the brigade is now in square. A special rule is now needed if the infantry has an attached artillery battery.

I assume that the gunners will take shelter inside the squares as necessary, so they do not influence the Melee Combat involving the square, with a single exception – if the attacking cavalry roll an artillery symbol on their single permitted Battle Dice, the artillery are lost.


In GTCCN there will be a higher proportion of these, since generals down to Divisional level will normally be represented – in addition a detached brigade with a specific role may also be allocated a Leader if the scenario requires this.

You may attach a Leader to any unit you like, as in CCN, but – unlike CCN – he allows them to ignore a Retreat result from combat only if he is in their chain of command. He will, in any event, still be at risk of being lost even though he is not able to influence their Retreats.

Command Cards

The only implications for the normal Command Card pack are that the “FIRE AND HOLD” cards (of which there are 2) will no longer offer any advantage for musket-armed infantry (though rifles and artillery will still benefit) and the extra bonus for Guard artillery on the “BOMBARD” cards (there are 2) is no longer applicable – all artillery is the same in GTCCN.

Victory Banners

Scenario requirements for victory for GTCCN will need rather inflated numbers of Victory Banners, to allow for the increased numbers of Leaders and the likely numbers of lost divisional batteries. Remember that if a brigade with attached Leader AND attached battery is completely eliminated, and the Leader is lost, that is THREE Victory Banners.

Initial recommendation will be to add 3 or 4 to what you would expect the normal CCN Victory Banner requirements to be.

I’ve done it again – I started out very pleased with the small amount of change I had introduced, but my usual windy explanation means that this looks like a whole pile of stuff. I had intended to summarise the rule changes at this point, but I think this has gone on long enough. If I feel brave in a day or two I may do this, though.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

La Flecha Negra - Apologium

Last month I did a post about the relaunch of the Falcata 20mm white-metal ranges. At present, part of the Napoleonic range is available, and I believe there are some Carlist figures also.

At the moment, these figures are available only from La Flecha Negra, a well known model and hobby shop in Madrid, and I am very grateful to Goyo at LFN for keeping me informed of progress over the last 5 or 6 months as the new figures became available. Goyo has a fair command of English, and I have wretchedly little facility with Spanish, so I have tried to be careful to ensure that I did not misrepresent anything, nor commit Goyo to meet any customer demands based on something I might have misunderstood. I would have been more comfortable if there had been some other announcement, or if LFN's own website had shown the new figures.

Rafa very kindly did some checking up for me, and he confirms that La Flecha Negra have stocks of the figures, and they are selling them now. If you are interested, do please contact them. I believe that the website will be updated in the New Year.

I wish to make it clear that I am aware that Goyo and his shop are well established and highly respected, and I have never had any doubts about his operation. The reason for my checking was simply that past dealings with Falcata (the manufacturer) have suggested that their delivery timescales are sometimes a bit optimistic. Anyway, I am sorry if I seemed to imply that I had concerns about the shop.

If any readers of this blog buy, or have bought, any of the new Falcatas, I would delighted if you could get in touch and write (or give a link to) a brief review - some pics would be good, too. I'll certainly be ordering some in due course, but I am more interested in the Spanish irregulars and the generals, which are to be released later.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Solo Campaign - The Allied Army

...and here's the other lot. Ian commented on the number of infantry units in the French army - I fear it doesn't quite add up in a sensible way. "Provisional" units do exist in The Cupboard and could be photographed, but a (smallish) number of unnamed garrison battalions in each army exist only on paper. On the other hand, because of the way I field light infantry, each line infantry brigade also has an additional skirmish "battalion" made up from its combined light companies. I do this for both armies, since I find it convenient to handle skirmishers at brigade level - in the British army, these skirmish units will also include the attached rifle companies of the 5/60th, but brigades which have specialist light infantry regiments (7th and Light Divisions and all Portuguese brigades) do not have the extra combined unit. By the way, I regard French light infantry units as being indistinguishable from the line, apart from their uniforms and plumage - complaints to the usual address, please.

Clear as mud?

Here we are, anyway.

Allied Army

Anglo-Portuguese (Viscount Wellington)                      approx 34500 inf, 3500 cavalry, 42 guns
                First Division (Graham)
                                1st Brigade (Henry Campbell)
                                                1/Coldstream FG & 1/3rd FG + Coy of 5/60th
2nd Brigade (Blantyre)
2/24th & 1/42nd & 2/58th & 1/79th & Coy of 5/60th
3rd Brigade (von Löw)
1st, 2nd & 5th Line Bns, KGL
Foot Battery (Gardiner)
Third Division (Picton)
1st Brigade (Col Wallace, vice Kempt)
1/45th & 74th & 1/88th & 3 Cos of 5/60th
2nd Brigade (Col John Campbell, vice Colville)
2/5th & 2/83rd & 94th
Portuguese Brigade (Palmeirim)
9th (2 Bns) & 21st (2) Portuguese & 11th Cacadores
Foot Battery (Douglas)
Sixth Division (Clinton)
1st Brigade (Hulse)
1/11th & 2/53rd & 1/61st & Coy 5/60th
2nd Brigade (Col Hinde, vice Burne)
2nd & 1/32nd & 1/36th
Portuguese Brigade (Madden)
8th (2) & 12th (2) Portuguese & 9th Cacadores
Foot Battery (Eligé)
Seventh Division (Hope)
1st Brigade (Col Colin Halkett)
1st & 2nd Light Bns, KGL & Brunswick-Oels Bn
2nd Brigade (Von Bernewitz)
51st & 68th & Chasseurs Britanniques
Portuguese Brigade – absent
Horse Battery (MacDonald)
Light Division (Karl von Alten)
1st Brigade (Col Barnard)
1/43rd & 1/95th & 3/95th & 1st Cacadores
2nd Brigade (Col Gibbs, vice Vandeleur)
1/52nd & 2/95th & 3rd Cacadores
Horse Battery (Ross)
Cavalry (Cotton)
Le Marchant’s Brigade
3rd Dragoons & 5th Dragoon Gds
George Anson’s Brigade
14th & 16th Light Dragoons
Viktor von Alten’s Brigade
11th Light Dragoons & 1st Hussars, KGL & Brunswick-Oels Hussars
Von Bock’s Brigade
1st & 2nd Dragoons, KGL
Portuguese Brigade (Otway)
1st & 11th Portuguese Dragoons
                                Horse Battery (Bull)
                Reserve Artillery & Engineers
                                Portuguese Howitzer Battery (Arriaga)
Siege train
                                Bn of Portuguese militia (attached)
Bridging Train
                                Engineers & sappers

Spanish 3rd Army (part) (Conde de Espaňa)    approx 6000 inf, 700 cavalry, 6 guns
Infantry Division
2nd Princesa & 1st Sevilla & 2nd Jaen
Tiradores de Castilla
Cazadores de Castilla
Foot Battery
Cavalry (Sanchez)
1st & 2nd Lanceros de Castilla
                Garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo
                                3 Bns + garrison artillery

In addition, each of the Juntas of Castilla, Vizcaya, Navarra and Aragon can raise unspecified numbers of volunteers and guerrillas, strictly for use in their own province. If they have to appear in the field, each of these little armies has a maximum strength of
4 Bns & 1 Foot battery
                                4 (small) Bns & 1 cavalry unit

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Solo Campaign - The French Army

I had some proper work to do this evening, but my computer is not co-operating. I am bored watching McAfee and Internet Explorer wrestling on the floor like a couple of elderly drunks, so here is the first part of the OOB for the solo campaign. My armies use a 33:1 figure scale, and garrison guns, since they can't be carted around, are not included in the army totals.

I haven't finalised the positions on the map yet, but at least I've got a definitive list now. The armies for the other lot will appear shortly (next time I'm bored?). There is a strong whiff of historical accuracy in this OOB, but it is only a whiff....


French Army

Army of Portugal (Marshal Marmont)                         approx 21000 inf, 2500 cavalry, 48 guns
                Division Foy
                                Brigade Chemineau
                                                6e Léger (3 Bns) & 69e Ligne (2)
                                Brigade Desgraviers
                                                39e Ligne (2) & 76e Ligne (2)
                                Horse battery
                Division Clauzel
                                Brigade Berlier
                                                25e Léger (3) & 27e Ligne (2)
                                Brigade Barbot
                                                50e Ligne (3) & 59e Ligne (2)
                                Foot battery
                Division Maucune
                                Brigade Arnauld
                                                15e Ligne (3) & 66e Ligne (2)
                                Brigade Montfort
                                                82e Ligne (2) & 86e Ligne (2)
                                Foot battery
                Heavy Cavalry (Cavrois)
                                Brigade Picquet
                                                6e Dragons (3 Sqn) & 11e Dragons (3)
                                Brigade Boyer
                                                15e Dragons (3) & 25e Dragons (3)
                                Horse battery
                Light Cavalry (Montbrun)
                                Brigade Curto
                                                3e Hussards (3) & 22e Chasseurs (3)
                                Brigade Vial
                                                13e Chasseurs (3) & 26e Chasseurs (3)
                Artillery Park (Tirlet)
                                2 Foot batteries
                                Siege train
                                Bridging Train
                                Engineers & sappers

Army of the Centre (part) (King Joseph & Marshal Jourdan) approx 21000 inf, 1000 cavalry, 20 guns
                Division Guye
                                Royal Guard (Merlin)
                                                Grenadiers (2) & Fusiliers (2) & Voltigeurs (1)
                                Brigade Casapalacios (Spanish Line troops)
                                                1e (Castilla) Léger (1) & 2e (Toledo) Ligne (2) & Royal-Etranger (1)
                                Spanish Guard horse battery
                Division Armagnac
                                Brigade Neuenstein
                                                2e Nassau (2) & Regt de Francfort (1) & 4e Baden (2)
                                Brigade Chassé
                                                4e Etranger (Prusse) (1) & 4e Hesse-Darmstadt (2) & 3e Berg (1)
                                Brigade Verbigier de St Paul (Italians)
                                                2e Léger (1) & 3e Ligne (2) & 5e Ligne (2)
                                Italian Foot battery
                Garrison of Badajoz (Phillippon)
                                5 Bns + various artillery
                                Brigade Trelliard
                                                4e Dragons (3) & 14e Chasseurs (3) & Lanciers de la Vistule (3)
Army of the North (part) (General Dorsenne)               approx 11500 inf, 1500 cavalry, 24 guns
                                Brigade Leberknoedel (Duchy of Stralsund-Ruegen)
                                                Grenadiers (1) & Fusiliers (2) & Jaegers (1)
                                Stralsund Foot battery
                                Various garrisons and flying columns:
                                                28e Léger (1)
                                                Garde de Paris (1)
                                                Chasseurs des Montagnes (1)
                                                Grenadiers Provisoirs (1)
                                                Dragons à pied Provisoirs (2)
                                                4e Vistule (1)
                                                4 Bns de marche
                                                Garrison artillery - various
                                Brigade Maupoint
                                                13e Cuirassiers (3) & 15e Chasseurs (3) & 5e Chevauxleger-lanciers (3)
                                Brigade Kleinwinkel (Stralsund-Ruegen)
                                                1e Chevauxlegers (3) & 2e Chevauxlegers (3)