Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Year-ending Hanoverian Infantry

While I had plans for a game or two and some serious time at the painting table before year-end, life blew a fastball right passed me and left me swinging into a void and gasping for breath.  With family descending upon us for the holidays, Nancy and I both were stricken by COVID just as guests were arriving.  Since Nancy showed symptoms before I did, my isolation period spanned Christmas Day, itself.  That situation prompted a change of lodging arrangements, a move of dinner location and new cooks.  That also left me Home Alone.  Although not present for this year's festivities, my dear sister sent along her best wishes with the hashtag #IntrovertsDream.  She is very funny.  Today, she tells me that she has tested positive for COVID as well. #Karma. 

Anyway, games were cancelled and plans to reach 1,000 painted figures in 2023 dashed.  I will be close but not close enough.  Finally feeling well enough today to pound out a short blog post and maybe even put a slap of paint on a few figures before nap time.

Up for show today are the latest units to muster out from the painting table.  Sticking with a SYW/WAS theme, two, 23-figure Hanoverian infantry regiments march off.  Regiments are Hodenberg and Stolenberg with foot from Old Glory and mounted officers from Eureka Miniatures.
Stolenberg IR
Hodenberg IR
Adding to the holiday excitement, Nancy attempted to drive through the closed garage door last night with her SUV.  This morning was spent getting a service tech to come out and make a few "adjustments" to the door to get it into an operable state using a BIG hammer and power tools.  Details of this episode are better served cold another time...

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Season's Greetings

While time remains to paint a few more figures and play another game or two before closing out the books on 2023, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Unusual for the holiday season, it appears a White Christmas is not on the calendar for this year.  Mountain passes are getting all of the snow with a rain/snow mix and fog at lower elevations.  Still a slight chance for a light snowfall but I am not holding my breath in anticipation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Computational Combat Statistics

Well, if there ever was a post title that would cause readers' eyes to gloss over and tempt them to skip a post, today's post might fit the bill. Had I mentioned that this would be an exercise in mathematical simulation, I may have lost everyone.

What am I doing and why?

In the first game of Madonna dell'Olmo (see Madonna dell'Olmo), King Emmanuele III automatically holds the initiative on Turn 1.  With Spanish grenadiers defending the redoubt positioned in front of the cathedral, the prospect of storming the position looked daunting.  Given that taking this position is one of the criteria for eventual victory, the cathedral and redoubt represent a key piece of real estate.  With Spanish support nearby, attacking on Turn 1 may offer the best chance at securing the position before the Spanish grenadiers are reinforced.  What the Piedmontese must accomplish is to either destroy the grenadiers or throw them out of Madonna dell'Olmo on Turn 1.  While success may be short-lived, the loss of the Spanish grenadiers and occupation of the cathedral will set back Spanish plans on this wing for at least two turns.  This is valuable time the King could put to good use. 
Turn 1 starting positions.
In last week's game, the King opted to use his first turn initiative to activate other formations and stand pat with Corbeau's Far Left Wing in front of Madonna dell'Olmo.  Is this the only viable strategy?  Consider a few choices of action. 

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Use first fire volleys with Grenz and attack with the grenadiers.
  3. Attack with grenadiers and grenz.  Corbeau does not lead the charge.  
  4. Attack with grenadiers and grenz.  Corbeau leads the charge.   
Only one of the grenz regiments and Sardinian grenadiers can reach the redoubt on Turn 1.  Can one of these four scenario options lead to success using the rules in play?  Can players assess intuitively beforehand if any of these options provides a path to success?  Intuitively, it may seem that (4) may offer the best chance of success but will this be enough to dislodge grenadiers in the heavy cover of the redoubt?  Perhaps combining an assault with preparatory volleys is useful?  

Discrete Event Modeling
Now, if these events required only a single computation, getting an answer may be straightforward.  However, there are many events in play both sequentially and simultaneously.  To get a grip on possible solutions, conditional probabilities are involved.  To accomplish this task, discrete event simulations need to be built and executed.  Once built, these combat models will be executed 500,000 times per scenario to create a large sample size from which to draw inferences.

Let's looks at each one.
1. Do nothing.  No computations needed here.
2. Grenz volley followed by grenadier assault.  This scenario requires first a simulation of volley fire and defender morale tests followed by paired simultaneous close combat attacks and morale tests by both attacker and defender. 
The grenz' first fire bonus offsets the heavy cover penalty of the redoubt.  The results demonstrate that grenz first volley fails to score a hit and resulting enemy loss through morale failure about 42% of the time.
Assuming the grenz fail to make a mark against the defenders, then the subsequent assault yields the following result.  That is, the defender is only forced out about 30% of the time.
What if the grenz manage one hit?  Well, then the results change to,
with the chance of defender retreating jumping from 30% to 38%.  Still, prospects for success are not great.

Is this worth the risk especially given the risk to the attacker where "Attacker Retreat" and "Fight On!" results carry losses to the attacker?  A “Retreat” result signifies an actual retreat or unit destruction.  In either result, the unit vacates the hex.

3. Attack with grenadiers and grenz.  Corbeau does not lead the charge.
This scenario sees the Sardinian grenadiers assault the redoubt without any preparatory volley from the grenz but the grenz join in to support the assault.  Corbeau does not join in to lead the attack.  This scenario requires paired simultaneous close combat attacks and morale tests from both attacker and defender.   
These results show, that on average, the defenders will be ejected from the redoubt about 57% of the time.  Again, the attacker suffers losses through failed morale tests about 40% of the time.

4. Attack with grenadiers and grenz.  Corbeau leads the charge.
This scenario sees the Sardinian grenadiers assault the redoubt without any preparatory volley from the grenz.  The grenz join in to support the assault while Corbeau leads the attack.  Like scenario (3), paired simultaneous close combat attacks and morale tests from both attacker and defender are required.
With Corbeau leading a coordinated attack at the head of both grenadiers and grenz yields success in throwing the Spanish grenadiers out nearly 75% of the time.  For me, that is a risk worth taking.  Of course, the attackers will suffer casualties but the price for gaining the redoubt seems not too high. 

For this situation, a coordinated assault with an attached general provides the greatest payoff.  Of course, if Corbeau is lost or the Sardinian grenadiers are badly damaged, holding the position may be difficult unless reinforced quickly.  Still, aggressive action by the King on Turn 1 could set the direction for the entire battle.  

Without tackling the complicated and intertwined computations underlying the game engine, itself, it can be difficult to "guess" which approach is best.  Even with a correct guess, confirmation is valuable. 

What would I do?  Attack straight away with full force.  Your mileage may vary.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Madonna dell’Olmo

Thursday saw the first outing for my Spanish and Piedmontese figures.  When I refought Bassignana some time ago, French stood in for Spanish and Austrians stood in for Piedmontese.  For Madonna dell'Olmo (Md'O), the little figures get to play themselves. 

What I expected to be a five-player game, through attrition, settled in as a three-player game.  David (The Ragged Soldier) volunteered to command the Austro-Piedmontese army while Mark (Mud, Blood, and Steel) and Chris (Horse & Musket Gaming) would divide up the Franco-Spanish Army between them.

Background and victory conditions are discussed in an earlier post (Assessing Victory Conditions) so I will not repeat those thoughts here.  For a brief visual refresher, the battlefield is laid out as shown in the maps below.

Madonna dell'Olmo Battlefield.

Madonna dell'Olmo Commands.
The battle begins with the Piedmontese holding the initiative.  King Emmanuele is content to open the battle with artillery fire against the Spanish near Md'O and the French guns in the center.  To prevent any thoughts of the Gallispans turning the King's Right and driving his army into the Stura River, his right his heavily occupied by most of the cavalry and all of his heavy artillery pieces.   
Spanish near Md'O.
Piedmontese artillery in center open up
while the King's Left remains vigilant.
Softening the French gun line is their objective.
The Piedmontese Right waits
 entrenched behind the sunken road.
Surprised that his position at Md'O was not attacked vigorously straight away, de la Mina brings up his Spanish brigade to occupy the ground around the church.  Before those maneuvers can be completed, d'Aix attacks toward the church with the Swiss as a diversion for an anticipated attack against the church by Corbeau to his left. 

The attack by the Swiss must have been the signal Corbeau needed to launch his own attack.  He sends forward one of the Grenz regiments and the Royal Cavalry.  As the Piedmontese cavalry approaches the redoubt, musketry from the earthworks drives the horsemen off.  Not wasting a moment, the Spanish counterattack the Swiss who find themselves unsupported in the open.  Overwhelmed, the Swiss scatter.  They are done for the day.
Spanish move up to support grenadiers in Md'O.
The Swiss attack!
The Royal Cavalry attacks!
d'Aix's Swiss are dispatched in a devastating counterattack.
Seeing that Md'O is safely held, de Conti orders de Courrier's Spanish cavalry brigade forward to remove the artillery threat to his front.  As de Courrier moves up, he masks the French guns.  He must not waste any time of coming to grips with the enemy's artillery in the center.  The King is not unaware of this potential threat to his center.  Quickly orders are sent to get his Right Wing into motion to converge on the center.  
Md'O is firmly in Spanish hands.
Spanish cavalry trot into the center of the battlefield
 while the Piedmontese Right Wing can be seen
 on the move in the distance. 
Shocked by the sudden appearance of massed horsemen to their front, the Piedmontese fail to halt the charge although the Savoy Regiment moves up to support the guns.  The Gallispans are not attacking with cavalry alone.  The Spanish Irlanda Regiment moves up to give the enemy a blast of lead.  Another devastating volley is delivered!  

Spanish cavalry will not be denied the taste of victory.  The battery in front of Valentino is overrun as is the battery to its left.  The Savoy Regiment dissolves.  With the King's Left breached, de la Mina attacks out from Md'O.  The Piedmontese Left begins to waver.    
Cavalry Charge!
Massed cavalry on the attack.
Piedmontese First Line is breached near Valentino.
de la Mina's Spanish attack out of Md'O.
Situation Turn 3.
Having held the initiative through the first three turns, the Piedmontese were able to reform and stabilize their lines with each setback.  Turn 4 saw the tables flipped as the Gallispans won the initiative.  There were cheers from the Franco-Spanish players and a sound of despair from the Piedmontese King.

Using two activations, the Spanish strike with both de Courrier's cavalry and de la Mina's infantry.  First, elements of de Courrier's cavalry smash through the Piedmontese Second Line and reach the Third Line.  The King's Army is being cleaved in two.  Close on the hooves, Spanish infantry follow up driving deep into the Piedmontese lines.  Not only has the King's Army been sliced apart but Corbeau's Far Left Wing is annihilated.
Spanish drive deep into the enemy line.
With the Spanish having smashed
 the King's Left, they drive east.
The King's Right Wing arrives too late to save the army.
With three Piedmontese Brigades broken and the enemy on the march, the King must concede defeat and retire.  With the King's Field Army out of the way, perhaps, de Conti can return to the immediate business of resuming the siege of Cuneo?

The outcome of this battle saw a resounding victory for the Gallispans.  Chris and Mark hit David's Piedmontese early, hard, and often.  David really never steadied his troops after those initial attacks.  

Looking at the rosters and casualty counts, while Chris' cavalry in the center suffered mightily, Mark's Spanish barely suffered a scratch.  Mark was able to dish it out, hard, without taking much damage himself.  David and his Piedmontese were completely the opposite.  The Piedmontese were unable to go toe-to-toe with the Spanish.  When they did, the Spanish passed morale tests while the Piedmontese more often than not failed.

Had the King gotten his Right Wing moving toward the center earlier, could that have tipped the scales?  What if the Piedmontese launched a determined attack against Md'O on Turn 1 and kept that pressure up?  We will not know the answers for this game but the next game may see a different approach.    

Thanks a lot for a very enjoyable game, fellas!  Congratulations to Chris and Mark.  My condolences to David.

The scenario, I think, is better balanced than the outcome of this game may suggest.  Looking forward to a replay soon to find out.

Game Time: a little under four hours.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Guns Are Silent

Sardinian King Emmanuele III's command stand emerges from the painting desk just in time to see action in Thursday's Battle of Madonna dell'Olmo.  Figures are Eureka Miniatures. 

For now, the guns are silent as anticipation builds for the clash to follow.  What I expected to be a four or five player contest has been reduced to three, stalwart players.  Each player with take command of at least a dozen units.  While two players will split one of the armies (probably splitting the Franco-Spanish Army), the third player will have sole command of the opposition (Austro-Piedmontese Army) with about two dozen units.  Hopefully, the large number of units under command will not tax the players' command span as they refight this battle.  

Following are a few random shots from the table while the guns remain silent.

Battle will be fought on a hex grid.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Hanoverian Cavalry and Four More Games

After a momentary diversion into painting Biblicals, I am back at the painting desk working on more SYW Hanoverians.  This time, the Hanoverians receive new recruits in the form of two cavalry regiments.

Mustering out today are 2 x 12 figure units of Hanoverian horsemen from regiments Grothaus and Dachenhausen.  Figures are Eureka Miniatures.  Soon to join these troopers will be two more infantry regiments.  Following the Hanoverians, Piedmontese cavalry will be trotting out before year-end.  Hoping to field four Piedmontese cavalry units (48 figures) before the year draws to a close.

Scott's latest additions.
A pair of 28mm A&A Miniatures elephants.
Finishing off last week's gaming blitz saw four games of Commands & Colors Ancients on Saturday using Scott's beautiful 28mm collection.  Yes, that makes seven games for the week.  Battle on deck was a reprise of Ilipa that we fought a couple of weeks earlier.

Kevin looks confident in his plan.
In Game #1, I faced Kevin and the Romans.  Kevin got off to a quick start by driving both of my elephants back onto their supports causing chaos in the ranks everywhere.  A second turn of missile fire erased all hope of actually accomplishing anything positive with my nellies.  Just like that, both Carthaginian flanks were in tatters.  In the mid-game, Carthage advanced their heavy infantry into battle and hollowed out the Roman center to win 7-5. 

That was the only win for Carthage on the day.  Rome won the remaining three games 7-1 (ouch! Scott obliterated my Carthaginians in embarrassing style), 7-2 (Scott v Kevin), and 7-6 (Scott v Kevin).  Note that Scott won all of his games and finished the day 3-0. 
A parting short of Scott's newly minted elephants.
This week sees the first of the Madonna dell'Olmo battles on Thursday.  Looks like we will have reduced player numbers for the game.

Friday, December 8, 2023

The Gaming Week That Is

With the kitchen in tatters for a remodel, this week's gaming focused on the remote variety exclusively.  Thanks to a trio of generous hosts, three games were entered into the Log Book from the comfort of my office.  While three games in one week is quite a handful, it is all made much easier when another is hosting.  My gaming week is not over yet though.  Game #4 and the annual Christmas game and gift exchange takes place at Scott's on Saturday.  Looks like we will be revisiting Ilipa.

For the games played thus far, a brief recap follows with a link to each full battle report on the host's blog.  I may return later to pick up some of the details of the games but, for now, on we go.

Sunday - Battle of Cabra 1079
Matt hosted a return to the Reconquista using Basic Impetvs on a grid.  After seeing El Cid repulsed and flee early on in the battle, Christian heavy cavalry retaliated by striking deep into the enemy's left-center.  With the enemy battle line split, Christian heavy infantry slowly advanced into the center to engage the enemy's foot.  Missile fire weakened the enemy as an attack was prepared.  Before El Cid's army could wade into the enemy, Muslim cavalry cut a wide swath through the Christian Left.  Undaunted, the Christians struck in the center.  The enemy was sent reeling back upon its camp.  As pressure mounted, the enemy broke.  Victory to El Cid! 

Tuesday - Bloody Red Roses
On Tuesday, Graham offered to host another playtest of Blood Red Roses, a new set of WotR rules Phil picked up recently at the SoA convention.  While we made it through the first playing a couple of week's ago, the game mechanisms seemed more familiar this time.

Since I was the only remote participant, I took command of the Lancastrian Left Wing closest to the camera.  Graham commanded the Center and Right.  Having a preponderance of archers, my battle line was content to close within range of my immediate enemy and shower him with arrows.  My enemy was falling in chunks as missiles rained down.  While I engaged in a firefight, Graham took the fight to the enemy.  From a distance, it looked like Graham was not giving as good as he got.  As I was far from the camera, I watched as our Right Wing broke and ran away.  Luckily, the Lancastrian Center was making progress against the foe it faced.  While I was mowing down the enemy to my front, my adversary brought up reinforcements to bolster his line.  The situation looked dire but the enemy's reinforcements arrived too late!  His Right Wing broke before the reinforcements could be brought into play.  Victory to the Lancastrians!
Thursday - Battle of Willingby
Peter had his 25mm Hinchliffe ECW armies back out on the table for our Thursday/Friday game.  Peter prepared a battle briefing for my Royalist Army and rules for the game beforehand.  Having read my briefing and the amendments to his D3 OHW variant, I drew up my army through a series of random force generations.  Until we met on battle, I knew not what army I would face.

The battle began with our artillery exchanging shots.  Artillery focused on infantry targets rather than counter battery.  We each managed to destroy one foote regiment before the guns withdrew from battle.  After the gunners fled, the battle was taken up by the foote in the center.  The Royalist foote ran out of ammo early on and were compelled to take the fight to the enemy.  While the push of pike in the center continued, Royalist cavalry maneuvered two regiments onto an isolated Roundhead foote.  Fortune smiled upon the Royalists as one turn saw a succession of Royalist activations before the turn abruptly ended with no Roundhead response.  The next turn saw the Royalists return to action and the Parliamentarian Army crumbled.  Royalist victory!   

Great fun, all, and many thanks to my generous hosts.

If the snow does not fly on Saturday, expect Ancients action in a series of battles on Saturday.  If that comes to pass, that will be four gaming sessions for the week.  I may be over the 100 games in 2023 threshold.  I will know with certainty when the count is made.