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

Saturday 9 December 2023

Beta-Test Solo WSS Campaign System - 1st action

 I've had to rationalise my hobby time lately because of some Real-World stuff, so I've taken the opportunity to do some work on my solo campaign system, to be used with my Corporal John rules. The great advantage of doing this on an informal basis is that I can fix it on the spot if it needs it. That's right, I can inflate the tyres while I'm travelling along.

Yesterday the campaign threw up an encounter game - fairly small. I must give the Jolly Broom Man a grateful shout for his help in doing sanity checking and quality testing on walk-throughs (walksthrough?) - thank you sir, and God bless you.

This first fight was the Action at La Bienveillance. An interesting mix of army types; the Franco/Bavarian force (under Feldmarschal Graf von Arco) fielded a predominantly cavalry force, the Allies (under Generalmajor Wissenstein) had a more traditional mixture of arms, but were secretly very scared that the hordes of French cavalry would sweep them away!

Austrians in nice straight lines await the arrival of the enemy

A win required the accumulation of 8 Victory Pts; there were no positional objectives giving bonus VPs.

Some form of narrative should emerge from my photos; a quick spoiler is that the Allies were surprised to win by 8-6, but it could genuinely have gone either way. As is customary with Corporal John, and all other members of the Commands & Colors family, units absorbed early losses without much effect, but as attrition and morale failures built up the excitement grew and units were eliminated more rapidly, resulting in not a few surprises.

View near the commencement from the Allied right flank. Wissenstein has command of his own Infantry division at this end, while Vielgluck has a mixed command of infantry (some Hessian) and cuirassiers on the Allied left
From behind the French left, we can see that the Allied infantry made a rush to take the woods to their front. On the French side, Arco commands a mixture of Bavarian cavalry and infantry at this end, while General Chatrier has all the French line cavalry for the entire campaign army at the far end
Here's Chatrier himself, leading some of King Louis' finest into action on the French right
On the other side of the hill, the Austrian cuirassiers await the onslaught, more nervous than they look
Austrian infantry stayed safely in the woods near the village of La Bienveillance; this was the cat & mouse period at the start, when casualties were few. The elite Bavarian grenadiers suffered badly from being exposed to Austrian artillery fire
Chatrier's attack goes in; he had a big superiority in cavalry on this flank, but the fighting went on all afternoon. Inevitably, the Austrian horse were eventually worn down, but the French suffered too, and this sector of the fighting probably tied up more French troops then might have been expected

On the other flank, Wissenstein is under attack in his wood

Time for Wissenstein to emerge from the woods
1st Bn of IR Thürheim seized one end of the village
Around this time, the French cavalry overran one of the Austrian batteries, though they lost a lot of men in the process
Wissenstein's boys are out of the wood, and advancing bravely...

The field is pretty empty on on the French right now
...back on the other flank, Wissenstein's infantry are withstanding the efforts of the Bavarian cavalry, and causing them much loss...
...though there was a major reverse when the 2 battalions of the Bavarian Leibregiment took back the village in devastating style. In particular, the 2nd bn of IR Thurheim retreated a total of 600 paces in one move, and were so upset by the experience that they just kept going
Back on the French right, Chatrier with one of the remaining French cavalry units stood and glowered at the last of the Austrian cuirassiers, neither unit having the energy to put paid to the other and potentially win the game 
Wissenstein's infantry - notably a couple of battalions from IR Lothringen and one from IR Scharfenstein, finally eliminated another of the Bavarian cuirassier regiments, the VP score became 8-6 and the Allies had won
And these were the cards that helped to do it!

I now have started the bookkeeping exercise of working out what proportion of each unit's losses will rejoin the ranks after the battle, to carry forward into the next steps of the campaign. I have a couple of notes about things in the rules that might need a tweak or two, but pretty good so far. I will probably be a couple of weeks before I resume my efforts, but I can pick up and put down this little campaign as time allows, so it's a useful little project.


  1. We all need "useful little projects" to keep us in the game. Your battle narrative is informative and photos clear. Does this game use facing? While most photos show units facing a hex vertex, some face the flat.

    1. Hi Jon - no, no facing. If the units appear to show that there is one, it's simply that I like them to be looking in a sensible direction, especially if I'm taking photos! My rules are a heavily-edited evolution from "Tricorne", which is yet another cousin of C&C. I'll send you latest version - bad news is you have to print and cut out the card decks, and the dice are not the same as C&C, and I know you are not short of things to do!

    2. I would enjoy seeing what you have done with Tricorne. As you know, Commands & Colors is a favorite of mine especially Ancients. Played four games of Ilipa today using 28mm figures. Have not played Tricorne all that much though.

  2. A good looking game - your rules seem to be working well.

    1. Hi Rob - thanks - yes - they are working well now. I'm still taking occasional notes about possible changes for next update, but not much now. Campaign add-on is still at a very early stage.

  3. Beautiful looking game Tony. A mini campaign is a clever way to test and develop your main rules, since it can throw up circumstances that you might not think of for a series of one-off games—as well as being fun in it's own right!
    Regards, James

    1. Hi James - yes, a campaign makes a good framework to play in, and - as you say - you get an interesting variety of games. If I only set up the table every month or two, the temptation is to go for a blockbuster set-piece, which is fine, and these rules are tweaked to handle that, but because the big battles were almost always in a big clear space (the local battle pitch?), the predictable formations of the day can make these games a bit "samey". A smaller encounter, with units fighting for woods and villages and all that, is a good refresher.

  4. Replies
    1. Pretty good Ray - a couple of things to think about, but coming along!

  5. I don't know how I missed this post when it was first published. Better late than never I guess. A typical, elegant and charming Foyian(?) set-up.

    1. Thank you, young sir. I guess my games have become a bit recognisable over the years! It is not so much a house brand as (1) using what I have, and (2) this must be the way I like to set up my wargames! There are still people over 3 continents (plus UK, which, of course, is an island) taking the p*ss out of my aversion to scenic flock, but I'm quite happy.

  6. Tony, I'm coming a bit late to this as I've just surfaced from a rather gruelling 900 mile round trip to the deep south (half of which with the oil light blinking at me!). The game looks great and your rules seem to be pretty much there now? I do like a good campaign, have I missed something or is there a map you could share? Also, glad to see that Wellington's tree is involved!

    1. Hi Ian - when this is working a little more smoothly, I'll send you some notes (nothing heavy, man) - it's a solo campaign system, and since it's difficult to surprise yourself playing solo with a map and all that, the system is pretty abstract - no map, no proper narrative. You can add your own narrative after the event, and graft it back onto a map if you wish, but basically it is just an abstract boardgame which generates battles. You do have two detailed OOBs, however, and management of losses between actions is an important element - points are awarded for battle wins, and highest points total gives campaign result (in theory - haven't got that far yet!). I just read through that, and it makes no sense at all...