Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 24 January 2022

Sieges: More Preparation Work

 This is good fun, and a rather different way to spend an evening, but there is still a lot to do to prepare for my solo "practice" siege using Vauban's Wars (VW). After a couple of (short) evenings, I've worked my way through the official start-up checklist from the manual, decided on the forces involved (points-based purchase system), and set up the battlefield (approximately). I still have a lot of stuff to work on - jobs like photocopying and laminating the game turn markers, and making up damage indicators from gravel and PVA glue. Once I have these things in stock, the overheads of putting on a game should be much reduced. I've also laid out my stock of trenches and gun emplacements (mostly from Fat Frank) on a series of canteen trays - it's a bit like a weird tray-bake.

To be going on with, for this evening, here are some photos of the field, and the checklist, including the OOB.

The besieging troops are laid out along the First Parallel. Yes, it does look like a road, but it is a proper trench - since it is out of range of the fortress, and cannot be the objective of a Sortie or a Trench Raid, and since it is assumed to be complete, to get the game off to a flying start, the convention is that it just looks like a road, but if you screw your eyes up a bit it will look fine. There will be plenty of digging coming up, that's for sure. I'm working on a positioning convention for infantry on the walls or covered way - I may need to revisit this, but at present the rule will be that bases touching the parapet are on the firing step, and thus are exposed and may fire. If they are down below then they are in cover and may not fire. OK - I'm on it.

If it's possible, I'd like to add a small table extension behind the fortress section, to include part of the town, including a Rallying Point. I'd also like to add a little Artillery Park for the besiegers, outside the lines (if only to add a little scenic value to what is a very bleak terrain!).

 I've used my old Terrain Warehouse fortress with the supplied glacis pieces, which is pleasing, but does place restrictions on the design of the fort. I may (reluctantly?) opt to use trench pieces to lay out the glacis - most VW users seem to do this, and what it loses in visual brownie points it probably makes up for in flexibility.

I'll knock together another post when I've made sufficient further progress to justify it.

More soon - I think I've got an evening or two of this prep work before any shooting starts!


Trial VW siege - British attacking French in the Peninsula.


3-bastion fortress - no mining (ground too wet or something)


Initial set-up, as per VW manual   * = "hidden"





Besiegers (British)

Garrison (French)






Powder Supply

(D6 + 6)




Supply Dice




Food Supply


17* (Average)


"Popular Support" [low is good]


D8* (fairly hostile)






Strength of Fortress

Assumed "Poorly Maintained"

Walls 6*. Ravelins 5*, Bastions & Gates 7*. Earth Walls 2


Location o f Magazine & Sally Port

To be determined when layout is done

Keep hidden



No (too wet)




[36 points]

Genl & CinC               Free

3 Siege guns              Free

1 Spy                           Free

4 Sappers                    8pts

3 extra Siege Guns    12

2 Heavy Mortars        2

2 Lt Shrapnel Mtrs     1

2 Medium Guns           4

6 Infantry                      6

1 Grenadier                  2

1 extra Spy?                  1

Total exp                     36pts

[18 points]

Genl & CinC         Free

3 Fortress guns  Free

1 Spy                      Free

2 Sappers             4pts

2 Heavy guns       6

1 Light Gun           1

4 Infantry              4

1 Grenadier           2

1 extra Spy?           1

Total exp            18pts


Leadership Dice (LD)

D10 [Average]

D12 [Average]


Siege Morale Pts (SMP)

(decided not to use "Army Specials" for this game, to keep things simple)

23 units => 26SMP



13 units => 14SMP





  1. Now then Tony. That fort looks fabulous. I like the glacis and covered way pieces but can see what you mean about flexibility.

    Looking forward to further instalments.

    1. The troops in the fort are obviously posing for the photos - when the enemy gets within artillery range the infantry will not be standing on the walls, they will be skulking in the town (wherever that is - negotiating for use of a folding table at the moment) and leaving their artillery pals to get on with the dirty business. I must look out my jar of cotton-wool balls - VW requires units to be loaded to fire, and counts the reloads towards powder consumption.

      The main fort and glacis sections are OOP pieces from Terrain Warehouse, later taken over (but not manufactured) by Hurlbat games, and ownership has changed again recently. Present owner has been posting on the Vauban's Wars Facebook page with his thoughts on the economics of putting the range back into production - interesting, but doesn't look very likely at present. The 2-storey building and the gate were very kindly 3D printed for me by Graham Cummings - some tweaking of scale to fit in with the rest of the kit. I've now repainted all parts so that they match each other.

  2. The star fort looks superb on the table, looking forwards to seeing this one play out.

    1. Hi Norm - thanks for appreciation - the early turns will be very slow, as I'll have to get the book open for the correct page for each new card as it appears - all being well, things should get more familiar as I get into it.

  3. That fortress looks sensational Tony. I have suddenly remembered when you were working on 'fortress bits'—two years ago was it? They look the business all combined together.
    Regards, James

    1. Hi James - yes, about 2 years ago I got some extra fort parts 3D printed. If the impression is that I've been labouring in the dark hours to get this all ready then that's misleading - I've been distracted by other things, especially snoozing! Hope to get a little useful experience this week. Some concepts in the game are a bit artificial playing solo - e.g. I shall be using spies to try to find out stuff about the other side which I already know (since I am both sides), so I have to keep a clear idea of what I know as game-master/umpire and what the sides know about each other!

  4. A superb fortress. It is a common wargame problem to balance appearance with flexibility. Looking forward to the next instalment.

    1. Hi Jim - I bought in an extra stock of trench sections from Fat Frank, in a variety of shapes, to cope with the possibility of using them as glacis markers. I've gone ahead with a Vauban-style fort, but the reality of Peninsular War forts (apart from Almeida) was that they were medieval walls with earth fausse-braies constructed in front of them, so the trench sections will come into their own - I have a lot of medieval walls, so I should be OK.

      For the PW, I'm not entirely comfortable with VW's system of having specialist sappers build nice trenches, and infantry moving into them when they are ready - my understanding is that in the PW the infantry dug their own trenches (preferably at night!) with some supervision from the engineers. I'll play the game as published for the moment, but will think about this...

    2. My main area of interest is 7YW but I dabble in Napoleonics. I believe that even in the WSS and SYW the bulk of the digging of saps was done by the infantry with specialist supervision. I feel the VW system is intended to control the number of saps. But the proof of the pudding and all that so there are quite a few of us waiting to see what happens.

  5. This all looks very interesting Tony…
    The closest I’ve come to a siege game recently was an attack on a small fort…
    No trenches…just ladders.
    I am looking forward to see how this develops…

    All the best. Aly

    1. Hi Aly - I have been very interested in the kit sold as part of the "Hordes & Heroes" siege game (and other brands are available), and have bought a number of gates and towers for my (proposed) ECW sieges, but the games themselves are basically a tactical assault - a big skirmish with rather complicated scenery. I'm interested in the mechanics of trench warfare - rather more hands-on than simply a large number of purchase points for a completed trench! My rather worrying collection of trench pieces should now come into its own. I expect to learn a lot over the next week or so.

  6. Just another comment to say how nice that fort looks on the hex table Tony. Good to see all the bits coming together.

    1. Thanks Lee - I've converted the game to hexes - no changes, really. Some measurements still in inches - sapping progress, mining progress - not a problem - eventually they get into the next hex! Lucky I got a hexagonal fort, eh?

  7. The fort really does look pleasing Tony. Did you rebase existing figures for the defence or are these new? I see there are some HH defenders in there - good men to have in a tight spot!

    1. Thanks Ian. The special infantry on small brown bases (mostly supplied by your good self!) were spares - on the French side there are Garrison 20mm and (I think) 1 unit of HH. The gunners are mostly SHQ. On the British side there are quite a lot of early Lammings, and the gunners are SHQ and NapoleoN, plus the HHs from the other day! If these siege games seem promising I'll get some more "siege" units based up. I could do with a dozen a side altogether. If there is an Assault, the Besieging commander may call up extra infantry units (randomised number), which can just be normal wargame troops, minus mounted officers and flags.

      One thing about sieges which takes some getting used to is there is no cavalry, so you and I would still have something to do after the 3rd turn...

      This afternoon's diversion is to paint my dad's old drawing board (from technical college!) in the house baseboard green, so I can add a table extension to the back of the fort, to accommodate part of the town. It may all end in tears.

  8. Replies
    1. One does one's best. It's necessary for me to keep a clear head about this - I have an idea it should work nicely (so I think Bruce Quarrie was welcome to his opinion, but...) and VW now offers a working game which seems very promising. I've wanted to have a crack at sieges for a long while - my own ECW siege game progressed to a point, but there were some things which I never solved, and VW seems to have a good handle on these. My own game was mostly based on Chris Duffy's Sandhurst siege games, which were, of course, umpired by an instructor who outranked the participants - anything will work in such a context!

      Important thing here is for me to enjoy this for what it is and what is possible, and not be dazzled by the joys of the equipment, which is an easy place to get to!

  9. Like everyone else I am massively jealous of your gorgeous fortress. I did a quick Google and as suspected from your comment this delightful accessory is no longer available...

    1. Rob - current owner of the moulds is Ian Marsh - in September last year he was hoping to get the Vauban fort back in production - it's the same fort, also made by Gladiator at some point. Problems are that the moulds need replacing, and he also wishes to expand the range to include a gatehouse and maybe some ruins. This will not be quick, but he is hoping to have this all available through Fighting 15s at some point in the future. To put it in context, this stuff is 15mm scale (which is what I use for scenic elements in my 20mm wargames - but then I am a noted idiot...). What pleased me even more is that the vertical scale of the pieces is 15mm, so visually they are 1/100, yet by some fluke the horizontal (ground plan) scale fits nicely with my wargaming ground scale of about 1mm to 1 metre, so I assume that the guys who designed these must have been playing the same sort of games as I do. Before they shut down, I was in discussion with the old Terrain Warehouse boys to maybe provide them with sketches for extra buildings - came to nothing. When Hurlbat were trying to dispose of the Vauban moulds, I was in discussion with them too; the chat got as far as arranging for me to see the moulds and masters, so there was mention of meeting someone in a van at a place which suited both parties. When it became apparent that I did not live inside the M25 the line went dead - no-one had ever come across such a weird situation before, apparently.

      Anyway, I would have spent a frustrating time trying to get someone else to take on the manufacture (these were cast from resin foam, which is specialised stuff to work with, not to mention very old-fashioned), so I'm sure Ian will make a far better fist of this than I could have.

      Moral: there's something familiar in my wargaming life about getting involved in things which I don't understand and then having really stupid ideas. I'm better to keep my head down and paint soldiers someone else made.

  10. This all looks great and very interested to see how it goes. Sieges are a real challenge in wargaming, as they seem hard to turn into an enjoyable game for both sides - but as a solo, it may work better. They are certainly an important part of the history of warfare and there have been plenty of great examples to turn into a game. Starting in the Peninsula seems like a good idea, as there were of course several important sieges in that conflict!

    1. Doing it on my own is a practical way to get some experience, but there is absolutely zero synergy! Picking the Peninsula for a first attempt is sensible for me since I have masses of toys to use. I am talking to myself quite a lot here - if the game's developers were within earshot they would have very warm ears at times. The idea of a siege game is terrific - just at the moment (breakfast time, Day 2 of the actual fighting), getting back into the administrative ritual which is core Piquet feels more like a job of work than a pastime, but I hope it will pick up as the action develops. I have to say that, just at this moment, the game system's obsession with using multiple dice in unnecessarily complicated ways to solve fairly simple problems seems rather like a pain in the arse, and the chore of trying to keep all the game equipment (cards, dice, markers) tidy is quite a challenge - I shall doubtless have more to say about this in future posts!

      Righto - breakfast and some preliminary tidying up, and I shall bash on.

  11. This is lovely stuff - looking forward to seeing how the game develops.
    I know what you mean about the fortress looking a bit high-status for the typical Peninsula recycled mediaeval fortification, but it's a shame not to use it, including the glacis. Worth sacrificing a bit of flexibility when it looks this good.

    1. Thanks Chris - I decided that if I'm going to try out an unfamiliar ruleset I should play it as published to start with.

  12. I concur with all of the above, Foy. The fort is a star! I heartily approve of the Garrison garrison, also.
    All the best

    1. Thanks WM - I've now survived the fighting - I think so, anyway.

  13. At the risk of boring you, that is indeed a splendid fort! If not quite the thing for the Peninsular, it would be perfect for your 'WSS' troops - Marlborough undertook plenty of sieges, didn't he? Hope the game goes well!

    1. Sorry David - Blogger refused to allow me to respond to this comment. This evening it seems to have dozed off, so I sneaked in. Thanks for appreciative message - WSS is absolutely where the Vauban stuff should come into its own, but I'm short of some equipment (and engineers) for that period, so if I am to make a start it would have to be the PW. I was intending to make my next game a PW effort, with a re-hashed Medieval or Moorish fort - again, since this is my first attempt at a siege, I'm probably best advised to play a straight bat, and use a Vauban fort again, so I'm testing out the actual game rather than some bastardised version of my own. Plenty of time for bastardisation once I have more experience, Matron.