Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Regret to Inform...

Rejection Email from BGG
Your User Submission Declined.

Such harsh words!

I am a frequent visitor to BoardGameGeek to satisfy all types of boardgaming queries.  With few entries for the DTP game, Montcalm & Wolfe for which I am journaling a campaign game, I figured an account of a gaming session would be of interest to the community.  Wrong!

As seen from the terse reply, the reasons for rejection were due to three factors.  Those factors were:
  • 40% Poor Structure
  • 20% Irrelevant
  • 40% Spam
I wonder what data analytics' algorithm settled on those criteria and percentages for rejection?  How could a game replay of the game, itself, be Irrelevant?  Does any entry containing a link qualify as Spam?  As for Poor Structure, well, I guess debating a topic as subjective as structure is pointless.  Sigh...

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Montcalm & Wolfe - Battle for Fort William-Henry

French Maneuvers SEP 1755
After the defeat of the French at Fort Oswego, the campaign continues with the French September 1755 turn.  See Peter's account of the battle for Fort Oswego at: Battle of Fort Oswego.

The success of Shirley's attack on Fort Oswego holds strategic as well as tactical implications.  With the British holding Fort Oswego, the door has been slammed shut on any direct marches down the Mohawk Valley.  For the French, Fort Oswego was an ideal jumping off point for forays into the interior.  Without that base, the French have a difficult task.  Even attacks upon Fort Oswego, itself, are perilous with a defended fort.  An attack will now take at minimum two months to execute and attrition will likely be high.  That loss puts even more pressure on a successful campaign along Lake Champlain, Lake George, and the Hudson.

After marching out from Fort Oswego unmolested, having been defeated by Shirley and his Cayuga allies, Contrecoeur ponders his next move.  With winter approaching and needing to make haste, the French CinC rolls on the Command Table.  Fortune smiles on the French this day drawing five activations.

Contrecoeur and his regiment of irregulars return to Fort Niagara in anticipation of winter. The regiment of regulars in the mountains near Fort Cumberland do likewise and return to Fort Duquesne. Approaching winter does not dampen the raiding Tuscarora's spirits.  They make a raid upon the settlement of Carisle.  Finally, Rigaud and two regiments of regulars march on Fort William-Henry hoping to make one last attack before winter arrives.  The capture of William-Henry would provide the French with an important forward base at the beginning of the next campaigning season. 
Rigaud marches on Fort William-Henry
With Fort Willian-Henry only recently completed, a number of defenses are untried and still require attention.  Perhaps now is the perfect time to attack before the defensive works have been made true?  

While Rigaud had the command capacity to take along the two militia stationed in Fort Carillon, the slow moving militia were not up to the fast pace of the regular infantry.  Knowing this, Rigaud left the militia behind.  Stationed in the Fort William-Henry outpost along with Johnson are two militia and a regiment of rangers.

Battle of Fort William-Henry
Situation: Fort William-Henry sits at the southern end of Lake George.  Besides the large clearing where the fort is situated, the Hudson River protects the eastern approaches while mountains abut to the west.  Space exists to deploy for battle on all but the northern face of the fort.  The French approach from the north on their march along Lake George.  After Contrecoeur's loss of Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario, the capture of Fort William-Henry would do much to erase the sting of that loss.

British: Johnson, (A0D1), 2 x 3-5 Militia and 1 x 3-8 Ranger regiment.
French: Rigaud (A0D1), 2 x 5-6 Regular regiments. 

Suggested Force Multiplier: 3 (as in Fort Oswego battle) or 4.

Recall, the CE of Regulars > Irregulars > Militia/Rangers/Warbands.  That is the French Regulars are two grades of CE superior to their opponents.

Over to you, Peter, for scenario setup and combat resolution.  If you have questions, let me know. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Levy Spearmen for Samurai Battles

Still a few more figures remain in The Lead Pile for the 15mm Feudal Japan project.  With this stand of nineteen figures mustering out from the painting desk, only a few odds and ends linger in inventory.  Not sure if enough figures remain to put together one more stand.  Maybe enough for one more teppo stand but I must confirm.  Figures are Peter Pig.
The primary objective of the recent parade of newly minted Japanese across the painting desk was to finish off a project.  Yeah, like that ever happens!  The secondary goal was to get the collection back into gaming rotation with some experimental rules using a grid-based method.  Still awaiting that to bubble to the top of my hobby queue too. 
Anyway, the backlog of completed units awaiting their turn at the photo booth are stacking up like cord wood in anticipation of winter's arrival.  As for winter, it has definitely settled back into the Pacific Northwest with more rounds of snow-laden winter storms.  The white stuff is piling up outside as I hammer out this entry. 

If you are following the Montcalm & Wolfe Campaign, expect results on the Battle of Fort Oswego from Peter soon.  Pop over to Peter's blog (Battle of Fort Oswego Setup) to see the battle set up.  It looks great!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Montcalm & Wolfe Campaign - MAY1755-SEP1755

The Campaign begins!

As summarized in the earlier post outlining the project (see: Solo Campaign Relay), the French & Indian War campaign is underway.

May 1755
In Montcalm & Wolfe (MW), the British always maintain the first player role in each turn.  With the start of the conflict in May 1755, the British roll on the Command Table receiving only one command.  With that one command, the British force at Albany is activated.  Having both Shirley and Johnson present at Albany, two forces are selected to strike out on the frontier.  Shirley, with two regiments of Regulars, moves by bateaux up the Mohawk River to garrison Fort Stanwix.  Johnson, leading rangers and three regiments of militia, marches to Fort Edwards.  
May 1755
The French, choosing to roll on the Command Table, receive three activations.  With these three commands, one militia is ferried from Montreal to the fort at Isle aux Noix, one regiment of Regulars is ferried from Quebec to Trois Rivieres, and Contrecoeur (with 1 Regular, 1 Irregular) takes the ungarrisoned British Fort Oswego after a brief skirmish.  The capture of Fort Oswego shifts the Political Track one place in favor of the French.

Note that road networks are minimal and cost for movement on land even along roads is high.  Waterways become the natural and least costly method of moving troops on the frontier.  This constriction tends to channel campaigns along the major waterways.  When troops are out in the wilderness, they are truly out in the wilderness.  Attrition rates are high when not in a settlement or fort.  With all forces in supply, no attrition or need to forage.

June 1755
Rolling on the Command Table, the British roll a result giving one activation to the French.  One risk of rolling on the Command Table is that the opponent may receive an activation disrupting your own design cycle.  To counter this, a player may always choose to take ONE guaranteed Command Point rather than risking a roll on the variable Command Table.  

The French use this one activation to move one Regular regiment by bateaux from Isle aux Noix to the future site of Fort Carillon.  Carillon does not become active until September 1755.

Back to the British activation.  Not wanting to risk another interruption, the British choose the automatic one activation.  Braddock and his force march from Baltimore to Alexandria.  The Oneida ally with the British and make an attack on the ungarrisoned Fort Presque Isle.  The raid is driven off.  
June 1755
The French receive two activations and use those to bring troops out to the frontier.  One Regular moves from Trois Rivieres to Isle aux Nois.  One militia is sent to Trois Rivieres from Quebec.  The Tuscarora ally with the French and immediately make a successful raid upon Wilkes-Barre.  Political Track shifts one more place towards the French.  No attritional losses for either.

July 1755
Needing to be in more than one place at once, the British roll on the Command Table and hope for the best.  They are rewarded with four activations.  Not wanting the roaming Tuscarora to raid a major city, one militia is sent from Albany to New York.  To prevent the French at Carillon from stealing a march and disrupting construction at Fort William-Henry, the rangers are sent to secure the site.  Braddock splits his force at Alexandria.  Braddock, one militia, and one Regular move to Fort Cumberland while the second regiment of Regulars moves into a blocking position along the Baltimore-Fort Duquesne Road.  The Oneida make another unsuccessful attack upon Fort Presque Isle.   
July 1755
The French reinforce Fort Isle aux Noix and send the Regulars stationed at Fort Duquesne out into the mountains along the road to Baltimore.  The raiding Tuscarora move on to Eaton but are unsuccessful in their raid.  No attrition as the Oneida unit is the only one needing to forage.  It does so successfully.  A note on forage rules.  All units not on a supply source must roll on the Forage Table.  However, if all units in a stack fail their forage rolls, one unit will survive unless the stack is all militia or natives.  The result of this exception is that a lone Regular unit not on a supply center is exempt from attrition unless in winter.

August 1755
With the threat of Tuscarora raids continuing and the need to accomplish more than a single task, the British roll on the Command Table.  Two activations are received.  With these two activations, the militia stationed in New York marches to Philadelphia and a militia in Albany marches to New York.  The Cayuga come over to the British and head to Fort Stanwix.  
August 1755
The French are content to take a single, automatic activation.  A Regular regiment from Isle aux Noix moves down Lake Champlain and comes ashore between the building sites of Fort Carillon and Fort William-Henry.  No attrition as the natives manage to successfully forage.  Both sides seem to be jockeying for position in the expectation of the completion of the two forts in September.  If the enemy occupies the friendly building site, no fort is built.  Risk of conflict over these two sites increases as completion nears. 

September 1755
Needing to take more than one action, the British roll on the Command Table.  The result is that the French get to interrupt the British turn with one action.  Not again!  This action the French use to move Rigaud and two militia to Fort Carillon.
September 1755
With a French build up on Lake Champlain, Johnson marches two militia to Fort William-Henry to join the rangers.  At Fort Stanwix and the headwaters of the Mohawk, Shirley marches out with two regiments of Regulars and the Cayuga.  Their destination?  Fort Oswego and Contrecoeurs' force.  The first action of the war will be fought along the banks of Lake Ontario. 

Battle of Fort Oswego
Situation: Fort Oswego sits on the shore of Lake Ontario not too distant from the shore.  To the south and west of the fort is enough open to deploy for battle.  The British approach the fort from the south with woods to their back.  Shirley wants to throw the French out of Oswego and regain control of the fort.  With recapturing the fort, Shirley hopes to regain a lost Political Point.  Without recapturing the fort, his party will likely suffer from attrition in the upcoming winter months.

British: Shirley (A0D1), 2 x 5-6 Regular regiment and 1 x 3-8 Cayuga warband.
French: Contrecoeur (A2D2), 1 x 5-6 Regular regiment and 1 x 4-7 Irregular regiment

Keeping OHW in mind, perhaps leaders' ratings of '"A#" and "D#" represent the ability to influence the troops under their command and denotes a hit modifier.  For example, Shirley cannot increase hits to an opponent unit when one British unit attacks but may remove one hit from a friendly unit when defending.   

For a combat unit, the first number represents Combat Effectiveness (CE) and the second number represents Movement Allowance (MA).

In this case, the CE of Regulars > Irregulars > Warband.

Over to you, Peter, for scenario setup and combat resolution.  To make the force size enjoyable, perhaps multiply total units by four.  That way, the British would be fielding twelve combat units (8 Regular, 4 Native) to the French's eight (4 Regular, 4 Irregular). 

Of course, scenario interpretations are only suggestions.  Peter, you may modify as you wish.  

NB:  See Peter's battle play out at: Battle of Fort Oswego.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Solo Campaign Relay for the French & Indian War

Montcalm & Wolfe VASSAL Module
Solo Campaign Relay?  Yes, Relay not Replay.  What is that?  Sounds like something akin to the Winter Olympics' event Luge Team Relay.  Let me explain.

Peter, at Grid Based Wargaming - But Not Always, has been running a series of interesting campaigns punctuated by his table top battles.  The latest rendition of campaigning was set during the French & Indian War.  After several battles resolved on the tabletop, Peter ended the campaign early.  Upon reflection, Peter sensed that while the campaign added a background narrative, the campaign did not provide enough historical context or interest for the resulting battles.

Having fought through a few battles in my own FIW campaign several years ago, I offered an alternative arrangement.  That arrangement consisted of me conducting the operational aspects of a FIW campaign while Peter fights out the battles on his gaming table.  Since Peter cranks through games and BatReps faster than I, this seemed a good solution in providing Peter the campaign context for his miniatures' battles while providing enjoyment to me as well.
Thus the notion of a Solo Campaign Relay was born.  To govern the operational activities, the 1997 DTP effort, Montcalm & Wolfe by Rob Markham will be utilized.  An excellent VASSAL module is available and in many ways provides a much more handsome tool than the original game. Oh, the module is free as well!  When two forces meet in the same hex on the campaign map, I translate the force dispositions and terrain to an OB and scenario. Situational details are then handed off to Peter.  Exchange One of the relay.  Peter then fights a solo battle on his own terms.  When the battle is resolved, Peter publishes his Battle Report.  Hand-off Two of the relay.  Peter’s battle results are translated back to the boardgame and the campaign continues.

The campaign begins in May 1755 with monthly game turns with the exception of condensed winter turns. All units begin deployed in set positions with the exception of three French regular regiments. These variable reinforcements are placed, one each, in Fort Duquesne, Fort Niagara, and Isle aux Noix. With these deployments, Fort Duquesne can be defended from a possible stab north from Braddock, the upper reaches of Lake Champlain can be protected, and allows a possible strike against the British garrison at Fort Oswego at the start of the campaign.

Montcalm & Wolfe is a game focused on command, attrition, maneuver, and short campaigning seasons punctuated by few, large battles.  Only the larger engagements will be transferred to the game table for resolution with miniatures.  Hopefully, this exercise will generate a few interesting encounters for Peter to play out on his table.

Sound like fun?  I think so!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Battle of Mollwitz BatRep - A Near Run Thing

Elements of Romer's Cavalry
Having gamed Mollwitz twice before, the plight of The White Menace appears set firmly in the annals history. Given two Austrian defeats at the hands of Frederick the Great (actually his Lt Gen since the king fled the field in both battles), still interest in a third attempt at the battle remained.  This time, Scott would command the Austrians while Kevin would take the role of young King Frederick.

To refresh memories of the scenario and the prior two battles, follow the links below:

Battle of Mollwitz Scenario
Battle of Mollwitz Game #1
Battle of Mollwitz Game #2

The battle begins as the other two; battle lines drawn up in the snow with the Prussians about a mile from the village of Mollwitz.  Romer's cavalry wing is stacked on the left with the Austrian Right Wing superior to its opponent.  Both cavalry wings move out through the snow after a brief delay.
Initial Deployment
As Romer's cavalry wing advances from the Austrian left, he is surprised to see his Prussian counterpart moving out to engage as well.  At two-to-one against in numbers and with poorer quality troops, Schulenberg is making a brash move. 
Cavalry on Austrian left move to engage
Romer's Cavalry Wing
In the initial crash of man and horse, one unit from each scatters while a second unit from each retreats.  Now with four to one against, what is Schulenberg's next move?
Heavy casualties in initial cavalry clash
As cavalry push each other around on the Austrian left, the infantry lines in the center of the battlefield step off.  Both combatants have intent on closing the range.  In Game #2, the Austrian strategy of advancing on the Prussian center may have slowed the Prussian advance upon Mollwitz but the cost was high.  The entire Austrian first line was made hors de combat.  Will history repeat itself?
Infantry lines begin to close the distance
The infantry lines in the center close to within musketry range as Romer's cavalry begins to turn the Prussian right.  Volleys erupt along the lines.
Center closes to musketry range
Having finished off Schulenberg's cavalry wing on the Prussian right, Romer sets his eye on the now exposed right flank of the Prussian Army.  The race is on for the Prussians to destroy the Austrian center before its own line is compromised by Romer.  The inferior quality of the Austrian musketeers is no match to the superior firepower of the Prussians.  Two Austrian regiments disappear in the smoke of the battlefield. 
Casualties mount on the Austrian First Line
The Prussian right flank having been turned, Romer's cavalry chews up Prussian infantry caught in flank by the slightly more mobile Austrian cavalry.  The heavy snow on the ground prevents Romer from acting more quickly to destroy the Prussian right.  As Romer continues to maneuver into an advantageous position, the Austrian First Line of infantry is destroyed. 
Destruction of the Austrian First Line
While the Prussian line begins to bend as Romer turns the flank, the advance upon Mollwitz continues.  The Prussian objective seems to be the destruction of the Austrian infantry at the expense of its own safety.  The race is on!  Which army will break first?
Prussian right is turned!
Outmaneuvered in the snow, Romer's cavalry continues its trampling of the Prussian right.  Another Prussian musketeer regiment is caught in flank and destroyed.  Oh, the humanity!
Caught in flank and destroyed.
While Romer's cavalry romps through the Prussian right, the Austrian cavalry on the Austrian left finds itself in a standoff.  Having destroyed the Prussian cavalry opposing it early in the battle, Austrian horse now finds itself taking musketry along the banks of the stream.  The Prussian left is a tough nut to crack.
Austrian cavalry in the Prussian backfield
Having stabilized the Prussian left, how to deal with Romer on the right?  Not an easy question to answer.  While three Prussian infantry regiments continue on their approach on Mollwitz, infantry regiments in the second line peel off to face the threat from the flank.  
Prussian center consolidating
With Romer's cavalry in strength on the right flank of the Prussian Army, a mobile square may provide an answer.  It will take time but the Prussians can advance in this formation while protecting its very vulnerable right.  To break the Prussians, the Austrian horse must take some chances or be shot from the saddle.
Prussian center forming square?
"Circle the wagons, boys"
Both armies are on the verge of breaking.  One more loss to either will signal defeat.  Given that situation, Romer makes one last effort to break the Prussians.  Going in, the Austrian horse suffer just enough casualties to tip the balance towards the Prussians in the following melee.  One more Austrian cavalry is destroyed and the Austrian army morale collapses.  The Prussians are victorious, but just!
The last charge of the day
Prussians facing Mollwitz
Inaction on the Prussian left
The End!
Well! That was an exciting encounter!  Each player only needed to eliminate one more enemy unit to claim victory.  In the end, Prussian musketry proved decisive and the Austrian horse was thwarted in its final charge.  

The result of Game #3 demonstrates that the Austrian Army may just have a chance at defeating the Prussians at Mollwitz.  What if the Austrian right could have been more active and applied significant pressure against the Prussian left?  A successful double envelopment may have paid dividends in stopping the Prussian advance.  In the post-game analysis, Scott hinged his defeat upon Romer's early failed activation.  If Romer could have been in position one or two turns earlier, that might have made the difference in the final outcome.

Either way, it was a fun contest to watch and well-fought by both sides.  Congratulations to Kevin for the win and to Scott for a valiant effort.

Well done, Gentlemen!

Friday, February 16, 2018

SYW Prussian Cuirassier Regiment #10 Gendarmes

With Jake fielding SYW Russians at a feverish pace in anticipation of a planned Zorndorf battle in August (see Jake's Zorndorf project), two squadrons of Prussian Cuirassiers were pushed through my painting queue in response.
While I have yet to formulate an OB for the Prussians I will be fielding on the day of battle, Jake is a step ahead and has OBs for both Russians and Prussians available.  Without confirming, the size of the collection leaves little doubt that all Prussian units necessary for Zorndorf already have been mustered out and ready for service.
Today's addition to the 18mm SYW project is a dozen 18mm Eureka Prussian Cuirassiers called up as two squadrons of the 10th Gendarmes regiment.  A second dozen heavy cavalry await in the painting queue but many a unit wait in line before its planned appearance at the workbench.
With a steady parade of completed units marching across the blog in February, perhaps it is time to interject something different?  While no game has seen action on the table recently, the exploits of the Third Battle of Mollwitz wait to be told as well as travelogues from a January foray into the Mexican Yucatan.  Work remains on exploring Switzerland too including a visit to Chateau de Grandson on the banks of Lake Neuchatel.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Pair of Guns for the Italian Wars

These two guns and crew fall into the category of "I don't really need them but might as well paint them."  Having languished in The Lead Pile with a coat of black primer for three or more years, I could take the taunting no longer.  Finally, the guns and crew saw some attention at the painting desk. 
Guns and Italian crew are from Old Glory's Italian Wars line.  Since most of the other artillery stands in the collection are crewed by Landsknechts, I will be able to field Italians when needed.  Now, the figures can only taunt me from their storage box.
The collection, now quite large, still awaits its baptism of fire on the gaming table.  Will 2018 witness this first outing?  I hope so!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Front Rank British 5th Line

Some of my favorite 28mm Napoleonic figures pushed through the painting queue recently.  My favorite figures are the redesigned Front Rank British Reinforcement Sets.  To my eye, the sculpting and anatomy on these figures cannot be topped.  Splendid figures.
This battalion of nineteen figures including one skirmisher musters out as the 5th Line.  Why the 5th?  Well, I had a Victrix flag transfer laying in wait.
With the French and her allies outnumbering the British and Portuguese contingents by a small margin, it was high time to bolster the British by adding one more line battalion.  Honestly, the British could field several more battalions before parity with the French begins to approach.  The project could use some more Portuguese too but the British reinforcement sets are so fine, it will be tough resisting a purchase of more of these infantry.
While the 5th represents the last of British in The Lead Pile, a pile of French still loiter unpainted.  Several battalions worth of French, Baden, and Wurttemburg are waiting their turn at the brush.  It may be awhile before another battalion from this project is seen at the painting desk but is was certainly enjoyable to paint these fine figures.

Does this suggest the Peninsular War project is getting closer to the gaming table?  Maybe.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

CGM's French Hussars in 18mm

Figures from Campaign Game Miniatures seem to have captured my attention again.  Digging around in The Lead Pile, I came across three packs with a dozen French hussars in total.  With a renewed emphasis on painting 15/18mm figures, why not add these into the painting queue?  That is what I did.  After completing two recent groups of early French in bicorne, a regiment of the 4th Hussars trots off the painting desk.
While I have sung the praises of CGM's infantry before, these French hussars in particular and the cavalry in general are even better.  Horses are robust and well-sculpted and troopers wearing the slung pelisse are splendid.  Great figures, perhaps only bested by AB. 
What is next up for CGM on the painting desk?  With several packs of Austrian dragoons in sight, those will get added into the painting queue next.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Renwal's Nieuport 17 in 1/72

Another old kit finds its way to the workbench.  Since the Germans hold the edge in aircraft in the collect, another Allied aircaft slipped into the production line.
The 1966 Renwal Nieuport 17 kit comes with "aero-skin" appliques to be applied as decals over the entire model rather than painting the aircraft.  Being unfamiliar with using this "aero-skin" technique I opted for building the kit in a traditional fashion.  Since a second Renwal Nieuport 17 lurks in inventory, I will attempt applying "aero-skin" on the second model.
This Renwal N17 is a good kit and easy to assemble.  Painted in a scheme found on the internet, this will make a fine addition to Allied airpower.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

More CGM French for the 1799 Project

Work continues on the 1799 project as one of my 2018 goals is to field a FRW game later in the year.  While enough figures are present to field combatants for a smaller game, such as seen in the Montebello 1800 games, larger battles require more troops.  To do that, French infantry and Austrian infantry are moving into the painting queue. 
Off the painting desk are two more, 13 figure battalions of early French infantry.  The figures are from Campaign Game Miniatures with the exception of the AB Miniatures' mounted officers.  Unlike the two battalions fielded recently, the grenadiers in these two battalions are wearing bicorne.
I really like the look of CGM French in bicorne.  While not as crisply cast as AB, these are fine figures in their own right and fit in well with the more expensive AB.  I wish CGM offered early Austrian in casquet.  That would be cool!