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


Thursday, 19 May 2022

WSS: Testing Action at Ober Eschenbach (1704)

[Since Blogger this evening appears to have become a competely new experience, I am pleased to have produced this post in a fraction of the time I expected, so I am about 36 hours ahead of my intended publishing date!]

 On Wednesday I was delighted to welcome Stryker - who hasn't been here for over two years - to join me in a playtesting game for my developing WSS rules. I (as the Elector of Bavaria) commanded a Franco-Bavarian force, defending a ridge position against a slightly larger Austro-British army under the command of Marshal Styrum (Stryker was very taken by the impressively red British contingent!).


Since we were testing the latest version of the rules, some of the action deliberately involved some rather risky choices - just to see what happened (at least we will claim so). Normally, my playtesting games can be heavy going - on occasions they have verged on embarrassment - but this week's game went well, a large part of the credit for which must be due to Stryker for his enthusiastic approach!

Since I am waiting for a suitable supply of figures for French and British general officers, the battle was run by Bavarian and Imperial commanders, but no matter.

We set a target of 9 Victory Pts for the win. In the event the French side got up to 8-2, but then it was pulled back by the Allies to 8-5 and eventually we stopped at this score, since time was running out before Stryker had to brave Mad Max and his pals on the return drive on the Edinburgh Bypass, and we felt the remaining time would be better spent reviewing how it had gone, and which bits of the rules needed tweaking. In any case, the Allies had done so well to establish a good hold on the ridge that the scenario should really have included objective bonuses - point noted...

A lot of good stuff on the rules front came out of our game. Once again, I am deeply impressed by the extent to which these development challenges are improved by the two-heads-are-better-than-one doctrine. Very productive.

Some form of game narrative should emerge from the pictures.

 
The Allied army, with the Brits on their left, start on the side of the table near the village of Ober Eschenbach

 
Still looking at the Allies, this time from the right (Austrian) flank. Note the famous church of St Michael the Plasterer - the village also included Shakespeare's birthplace, by the way, to give a suitably international vibe

 
Here we get a look at the opposition, with the Bavarians (most of them) at the near end; the French troops at the far end are partly dug in, to cover vulnerable parts of the ridge - their army is rather smaller

 
The Brits get themselves organised for an advance; here we see the Scottish Fusiliers (Rowe's Foot) and a glimpse of the artillery - still dressed in red in 1704. Below you see the Régiment de Poitou, two battalions strong, ready behind breastworks on the other side of the valley

 
A general view as the Allied advance gets moving...
 
 
...while (in the interests of rule-testing) the Bavarian horse attempts to bully their Austrian opposite numbers
 
 
In this game, combat (which includes musketry at ranges up to 80 paces and hand-to-hand stuff) can only take place between units in adjacent hexes, so there are now a number of views of the field as the French wait for the Allied attack to come across the valley. Keeping the line straight is a slow and ponderous procedure! In the meantime, the French artillery did what damage it could, but wasn't hugely effective
 

 
Note that a couple of the British units had to advance through some woods, which slowed everything down, but was handled well
 


 
When they eventually got across to the ridge, they gained a couple of footholds quite quickly - here are Ferguson's Foot, aka the Earl of Angus's Regt, aka the Cameronians, reaching the objective at the "Elector's Tree", with their attached battalion gun to the fore
 
 
Another British regiment joins them up there...
 
 
...and is quickly driven off again by the recovering boys of the Navarre regiment
 
 
The Poitou lads did very successfully drive off an [experimental] attack on their earthworks, but otherwise were not disturbed much
 
 
French horse

 
The Franco-Bavarian HQ, with the Elector possibly stretching his abilities a little, but having a grand day out

 
The ridge was gradually being overrun, as the Austrians joined in the attack


 
After 10 turns, we halted the game - the current score was 8-5 to the Elector, as you can see. In theory, the target was set at 9 points for a win, but in fact the straight losses tally did not reflect the success the Allies had achieved in taking the ridge, so the setting of victory targets becomes one of the areas of the rules which needs some attention!

  Again my thanks to Stryker for his company and encouragement - a most enjoyable and useful day all round. I'll have some thoughts on rule fixes and maybe post about them on another occasion. For tonight, let me say that the latest revisions to Blogger, whatever else they have done, have allowed me to complete this post in a single evening, which recently is unheard of, and is a big advance indeed. Credit where credit is due...



 

 

26 comments:

  1. Fine looking contest, Tony! You are quite right in that a lot of useful stuff can fall from a serious playtesting session or two. Sometimes, a lot of unproductive suggestions fall out too. Are these rules still loosely based upon Commands & Colors?

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    1. Hi Jon - C&C - not really - a few aspects, such as terrain rules and the attachment of commanders, are similar, but these things are pretty generic. I have included ideas borrowed from Polemos (which may be about to drop out again!), and Howard Whitehouse, and all sorts of bits and pieces going back as far as Charlie Wesencraft. There are even some ideas of my own! As I've said here before, I think the idea is that the recipe is my own, though some of the ingredients are imported! I have to say that the proportion of wild ideas which came out of the joint session was as nothing compared to the crazy stuff which can come out when I'm left to think on my own!

      As Ian and I were discussing on the day, the most valuable role in the court can be that of the guy whose job it is to tell the king he is talking rubbish. It is a high-risk position, of course.

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  2. I am very interested to see which bits of Whitehouse caught your eye. Some of my own works began with an inspiration from Howard’s use of CV.

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    1. Partly this is doctrinal - Howard's design approach focuses on keeping the game focus at an appropriate level for the size of game (e.g. the commanding general should not need to tell a unit to reload; whether or not a unit is still present and able to fight is more important than their exact formation; most important of all, an enjoyable game is more important than an accurate depiction of historical detail). To be more specific - allocating a single number to a unit (in my game, this is called "Status", which is a poor name, but will do until I think of something better), which is used for just about everything (CV?) - morale tests, combat, you name it, and is maintained as it suffers. This is not always welcomed by orthodox gamers, since it is a bit boardgame-like, but it is simple and it works. I am a big fan of HW - sensible, great ideas.

      On the subject of poor names and terminology in rules, the current draft of my WSS rules includes the concept of an incomplete activation - this is usually because the unit is too far from its commander to get a proper order - the effect is that it can defend itself, continue an ongoing fight, and make any sort of movement, but NOT towards the enemy. My current terminology for this is a "Holding Order" which is really pretty terrible, and was rightly pilloried by a recent critic - as a result of this, I am proposing to return to my original idea, which is that the incomplete order is termed a "Best of luck, boys"!

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    2. Yep. Your ”status” is Howard’s “CV” and I do the same!

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    3. Although I call if “CE” for Combat Effectiveness.

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  3. A visual treat with my morning coffee Tony. I trust the British Foot Guards fought well? Love that large church.

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    1. Morning Lee - Foot Guards were fine - they were one of the units that held the Allied advance up a little, sneaking through a wood and then forming into line in front of it. Thereafter they were part of a "second line", in support of the main attack. You can see them in the last 2 photos, in line, facing the L-shaped earthwork at a distance of 2 hexes (400 paces) - they were under fire from the French battery just to the right rear of the earthwork for 4 or 5 turns toward the end of the game, and escaped with not even a scratch. Obviously the Guards were remarkably tough - and, of course, the commander of that battery is now in serious trouble.

      The church is an HO plastic model railway kit - I think by Faller. It's nice, but a very big church by my standards! I am still looking for a decent 15mm scale Bavarian/Austrian style church, but most of the good ones are OOP now.

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  4. That is some beautiful WSS eye candy, love the Les Higgins figures.

    Willz.

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    1. Hi Willz - glad you enjoyed it - just a load of 50-year-old toys!

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  5. A very nice looking table and game and good to read of a positive impact from changes to Blogger, for a change!

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    1. Hi Keith - despite what I've said in the past, it seems Blogger has become my friend. Game was surprisingly enjoyable for a tester, and it turned up some valuable stuff for fixes. Thinking cap being located now...

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  6. Tony, a colourful game and yes with an enthusiastic opponent testing rules and challenging them becomes part of the fun. My main gaming colleague Steve is very much like that, we have gamed ( on and off) since we were 17 so generally have no problem in saying what we’re thinking. When I’m back from Partizan I will check my 3D files I’m sure I have a couple of Germanic churches in there. Could print one for you. Will send the pics

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    1. Bless you Graham - that would be very interesting indeed.

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  7. Fantastic looking game. The collection really is a work of art.

    The Higgins figures are so delicately detailed.

    Sounds like a fun day was had by both sides.

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  8. Thanks Matt. The WSS collection is probably improving over time - I started out with the 20mm section of Eric Knowles' early 18th Century armies, which got me off to a flying start, and I did a lot of work retouching and restoring these, but Eric had been part of the way through upgrading to (larger) Hinchliffe's, which I swerved - this migration applied to the British, a lot of the French and most of the artillery for all nations, so for these sections a lot of work has gone into researching the uniforms, sourcing fresh figures and painting pretty much from scratch. This also, of course, makes them more "my" armies, while still attempting to preserve what remained of Eric's collection in a form of which I hope he would have approved! I've had a huge amount of fun and satisfaction, particularly from building the French and British contingents - definitely the product of my own personal isolation during the Covid years!

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  9. It was a very enjoyable game and a visual treat too. The rules show a lot of promise and well worth the time you have put into developing them. I’m looking forward to the next one!

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    1. Thanks Ian. I have to say that was the reddest army I've ever seen in my life.

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  10. An interesting and attractive encounter with beautiful figures - and good to see some of my French flags in action again too! :-)

    Cheers,

    David.

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    1. Fine flags, David - laser printed, as discussed. Honoured and pleased to be able to use them.

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  11. Brilliant stuff, and you sound really encouraged by the rules test, so here's hoping to see more of the same. "Keeping the line straight is a slow and ponderous procedure!" Yes, sounds pretty WSS to me!

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    1. Hi Chris - I've been getting round to emailing you for an embarrassingly long time - must get on with it!

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  12. Aye, likewise, mate, don't worry about it.

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  13. It sounds and looks like you had a jolly good afternoon at the table…

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Hi Aly - yes - excellent fun. A lot of brilliant ideas debunked too, nbut that is as it should be!

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  14. A fabulous looking game. The French position looked like a really hard nut to crack though.

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