Monday, August 21, 2017

ImagiNations - The Cast

Images are always a nice way to give flavor to a story. While not absolutely necessary, they are helpful in setting the scene.

Therefore, may I introduce the following members of the cast, the movers and the shakers, the powers that be:

Her Ladyship Diana, Duchess of Khornwallistein. Never was a rose such a beauty.

Count Mykal, friend and ally of the Duchess. Unrequited love is a hobby of his.

Markgraff Byren, coveter of the Duchess, especially her lands. Eyes wide set and one being of glass.
 
 
Prince Krigor, rejected suitor of the Duchess. His youngest son is ten years the elder of the Duchess.

Prince Bishop Ivan Bratovich, dim-witted, but good hearted peacemaker. Everyone speaks well of him, but none invite him to dinner.

The several burghers, indecisive and greedy. Some would say these are their best qualities.

Earl Helmut von Sinestre, his best portrait. Loathsome is his "middle name." 

And thusly the stage is set, the play only a moment away from beginning. The rogues and knaves gather in the shadows, pulling strings from behind a curtain. Can stalwart friends save the Duchess or will they succumb to their enemies. Who else lurks in the corners?



Sunday, August 20, 2017

More ImagiNation

Below are my current thoughts/rules/imaginings for going forward with the campaign mentioned in my previous post.




Major Power - Head of State
Grand Duchy of Khornwallistein - Duchess Diana Elizabeth-Smythe
     Light Purple coats
     Guards reddish or dark purple
          Rally to the Colors national advantage
          Cavaliers national advantage

County of Tzeeberg - Count Mykal Penwithian
     Light Blue coats
     Guards orange
          Lethal Volleys national advantage

Nurglundian Marches - Markgraff Byren Buerdein
     Pastel Green coats
     Guards light green or dark green
          Steady Lads national advantage
          Clerics national advantage

Princedom of Slaavia - Prince Krigor Nilzynski
     Pastel yellow coats
     Guards pink
          En Masse national advantage

Minor Power - Head of State
Bishopric of  d'Antonville Prince-Bishop Ivan Bratovich
     White coats
     Maisdon due Roi national advantage

Free City of Passant - Council of Burghers
     Gray coats
     Steady Lads national advantage

Earldom of Mysterae - Earl Helmut von Sinestre
     Black coats
     Professional Train national advantage

Uniforms info, which applies to all:
Cuffs and turnbacks vary by unit, but palette should remain pastel or light shades
All straps and belts in white.
All bags in brown leather.
Cartridge boxes and scabbards in black.
All tricornes in black with white or yellow lace
Bearskins or miters in gold, silver, brass
All socks and lace in white or gray (except yellow for white coats).
Boots/shoes black
Trousers and waistcoats buff, brown, gray, white, or coat color.


Campaign


Currency: Epic Points (EPs) are the currency used within Maurice to purchase armies and national advantages. This campaign relies on this currency as a balancing agent. Epic point awards and costs from Maurice will not be posted online, to protect copyright, but added costs and awards for this campaign will be clearly posted.

Major nations begin with two or one randomly determined national advantages; minors begin with one or zero. Nations may purchase additional national advantages by spending 2x, 3x, 4x, etc., the listed EP cost for each advantage purchased in succession. Such purchases may only be made at the end of peace talks of a war they are involved in.


Each war in the campaign campaign has a cost to the loser at the end. The winning side takes control of one bordering hex from the losing side or wins EPs and loser may lose EPs. Winner chooses, but the hex must border one already owned by the winner and cannot select a hex further from the closest friendly border hex, if there is a hex closer. Hexes taken from the winning side in a previous war must be selected first.

Armies

Major's forces are 200 points (excluding national advantages)
Minor's forces are 100 points (excluding national advantages)

Such forces are divided into detachments. A field force is comprised of one or two detachments, of which only one can be an army.
Army = 100 points
Division = 30 points
Brigade = 10 points
The number of detachments a nation can field at once is equal to the number of notables present in their military.
(The detachments idea is borrowed from Ottoathome on The Miniatures Page - an excellent idea).

The points limit represents the maximum strength a nation can logistically support in the field during the campaign. Any remaining points values of troops are considered as "in training" at the capital city and do not take part in the battles.

Units lost in battle are removed from a nation's roster and may be rebuilt according to the rules in Maurice. This may cause some major nations and minor nations to have rosters below 200 points and 100 points, respectively.

Wars


Major nations and minor nations may elect to go to war each spring. If a nation is already at war, the conflict may be expanded.

War stance
A nation may be at war, in limited war, or neutral.

Nations at war stand to gain or lose territory at the post-war peace talks. They may conduct offensive operations outside their borders, with an army sized detachment.

A nation in limited war cannot gain or lose land, although its forces may have participated in battles alongside major nation allies. The may conduct offensive operations outside their border, but are limited to division detachments only.

Neutral nations protect their own borders from incursions by combatants, but do not fight outside their borders. Neutrals may change their stance, depending upon the actions of the combatants.

Minor nations - Alignment

Evil will not ally with a major nation which has a good ally. Will switch allegiance to the major nation which pays it the most EPs, even during a war.
Neutral will ally with anyone. Will not switch sides during a war, but will switch sides after a war, to the major which pays it the most EPs.
Good will not ally with a major nation which has an evil ally. Will not switch sides ever, unless its ally declares a war of conquest, where it will become politically neutral.

Recruiting minors - at start of war, major powers bid EPs for each minor they are interested in as an ally. Highest bidder gains the ally, but all EPs bid are lost to the minor as bribes and gifts.

Minor nations expand their capabilities by expending EPs gained in this manner, through the purchase of national advantages and/or new units.

Minor nations may never deploy an army detachment outside their own borders.

Types of Wars

When a nation goes to war, whether or as aggressor or defender, they chose the type of war to pursue, which dictates its war aims.

War of Conquest - objective is to take territory. Winner(s) may take up to three hexes of territory from losing side.
War of Aggression - objective is to earn EPs. Winner(s) may take no lands.
War of Alliance - objective is to meet requirements of ally. Winner may take one hex from losing side, as ally during War of Conquest
War of Liberation - objective is to liberate conquered lands. Winner may take up to two hexes from losing side that were previously owned by warring nation.
War of Salvation - objective is to defend nation from attack. Winner may not take any territory, but may fight outside borders as needs dictate.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

ImagiNations and Imaginations





That saying about plans and contact with the enemy comes to mind when I look back over the past two years of this poorly neglected blog.

Between a work, health issues, and another graduate program, all too often as as I think about writing a post...I just don't get very far. Which is really unfortunate, as I enjoy the blogosphere. I do need to pitch in and do my bit, for King and Country...or for just the Country.

At any rate, I have been gaming fairly often. Generally, we play boardgames weekly and then once a month I get my miniature gaming in with my club. 

Of late, we have been playing Eclipse, which I should have purchased when it was first released, instead of waiting several years and missing out. The game is fun, and normally serves up to 6 players, but the Rise of the Ancients expansions allows up to 9 players. There are many ways to earn victory points in this nine turn game, but beware of "friends" suddenly deciding that YOU are their route to victory. (#@%!)

The above image is taken from someone else's game, but I wanted to give a glimpse of the game. Eclipse is available through Amazon, but it's US distributor/publisher is Asmodee, who does not sell games except through retailers. While that is cool, it also means we have to have retailers who actually bother to stock the game.

Moving on...

Years ago, I purchased Sam Mustafa's Maurice rules for horse and musket miniature gaming. By design, the rules support players who are into ImagiNations gaming. If you have not heard of this particular sin, check it out. Now, I get all of Sam's games. While they are not for every gamer, they certainly have inspired me. His new game, Rommel, is set to release within the next month or so.

However, I have been churning Maurice over in my head and, combined with some Old Glory 15s that I received in a trade, I am now putting together my own ImagiNations armies and campaign. It may be that I play this all on my own, perhaps recruiting a friend to step in and command an opposing army every now and then.

I have decided to play off of my Games Workshop experience, as I really did enjoy Warhammer Fantasy Battles, when it was a mass battles game...in the 80s and 90s. I still have a Chaos Army of Khorne from 3rd edition, in a figure case on top of a bookshelf.

I am currently working on a map, using Worldographer, aka Hexographer 2, which is a quick and easy solution to making a map for my needs. I do prefer Campaign Cartographer, but a good map takes a while to produce and I want to get at this more quickly. I will likely go and spend the time down the road, should I enjoy my ImagiNations world.

What I have decided to do is go more "alternate Earth" instead of placing my countries within a quasi-historical 18th century Earth. I can make far larger counties, without needing lengthy explanations as to why Prussia remained a tiny backwater or that Bavaria was broken into multiple counties and earldoms. Instead, I am using the technology and military organizations of the early 18th century and transplanting them into a world of my own creation...well, I did have help from Worldographer.

Thus far, I have established four major powers and three minors:
Majors
Grand Duchy of Khornwallistein - Red border
County of Tzeeburg - light blue border, just below Khornwallistein
Nurglundian Marches - green border to the west of K.
Princedom of Slaavia - yellow border below Tzeeburg

Minors
Bishopric of d'Antonville - white border
Free City of Passant - gray border
Earldom of Mysterae - black border

I've decided to not do the silly people and place names that many other Imaginators have gone for. While they can be slightly humorous, I am looking for wargames, not laughter. As you can tell from the map, I am just starting and have a ways to go still. I need to do some terrain edits, but also give labels, and figure out the political boundaries. These hexes are roughly 18 miles across, which zoom in to hexes of approximately 3 miles across, which further zoom in to hexes about 1/2 mile across. I may not go into such detailed levels, but I am leaving open the possibility.

If there's a historical counterpart for these, it would probably be Hesse, Dutch/Palatinate, northern France, Russia, for the majors and Paris, Liege, and Berlin for the minors. The minors are good, neutral, and evil, in their diplomatic and political maneuvers, matching the colors of their borders and also uniforms.

As Maurice has a campaign system, in addition to an army building system, including national advantages, I am incorporating much of Maurice's campaign ideas into my own. I have chosen 1740 (my world's years are eerily equal to ours in almost every context), as my starting point. The intent is to proceed, year by year, determining whether or not there is a war and if so, between whom.

When a country loses a war, they lose a hex of territory also. This will provide for some story elements and rationale for future conflicts. I have already added four other powers to my map, but I have not named them. I am still trying to figure out how to add my own political boundaries in the map program. It can do it automatically, but I've yet to be able to do it manually. I can draw borders, but cannot get the color fill to appear within said borders.

Since the 15mm figures I got in trade are a miss-mash of Austrians (Hungarians), Prussians, and French, I am just going to mix and match uniforms and troop types as I have need. The French musketeers, without turnbacks, will represent the regular infantry for the major powers. The Hungarian infantry will be used for one or two of the minor powers. I've not checked out the cavalry or artillery yet, as they are in my storage unit.

I will need to order a few more packs of the French Musketeer miniatures, but as I can get 4 infantry battalions from each pack, it won't be too costly.

My paint scheme is essentially a general rule: What was historically done, shall not be done. So, none of my armies can be readily confused for Prussians, Russians, British, etc. They will be rather different from the norm, at least for historicals.

I've ordered some 25mm Minden miniatures to do larger test versions of my planned uniforms for each of the named powers. I figure the larger size will better represent in person and via the internet.

More later. I promise...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kickstarter?... Yes, I did!


Until now, I have avoided Kickstarter and backing anything...anything, at all. However, I came across the current project from Academy Games and I must say, I like it. I like it so much I backed it and then some.

Being a fairly income-poor teacher, I have to budget my expenses, but I do allow myself some funds for once and future gaming. In this case, the game below, has such potential to be a great success.
I already own, and play, their 1775 and Mare Nostrum, both good games. Yet, 878 Vikings has so much more that can be done with it. Such as run a Saga Dark Age campaign, a DBA 3.0 campaign, the boardgame that it is designed to be, a setting for a Swordpoint campaign. You see where I am going with this?

I mean, just look at this map.

It's freaking cool!

There is a downside, though. I have to wait six months before I can play it.

I will still avoid Kickstarters, but this one was just too good to pass up. I wonder how many others get inspired from Kickstarter projects?

Friday, March 17, 2017

8mm Napoleonic Game.... miniatures, terrain, and board!





As I was searching through my usual round of blogs, I saw this mentioned on one of them.

I quickly went over to the Perry Miniatures website and ordered two. I just checked this morning, and the price has gone up since my order.

I believe they have a massive success on their hands already. YOU might want to order one (or two!) for yourself before they are gone.


Still around....



About the first week of February, I came down with a sinus infection. Six week later, I still have the sinus infection and it has been dragging be down a bit. I also copped influenza for a week, and I am now on my second week of bedrest....which is NOT what I want to be doing as my students really do need me there.

I have been able to get some reading done, but not as much as I would like. Between spells of nausea and dizziness, the words get all fuzzy.

I did purchase three books by Christopher Duffy, two on fortifications and one on the experience of warfare in the age of reason. I've been able to read a bit of the latter during my several doctor visits.





I look forward to reading the other two, although I have glanced through both. I bought them as I am looking at handcrafting a 2mm-ish Vauban fortress that will fit on a 100mm hex. The ones I bought from Irregular Miniatures are too large by 3cm. :(

Additionally, I (may have mentioned this before), but I enjoy reading Bob Cordery's wargamingmiscellany.blogspot.com/ as he has a lot of different themes in his posts and the additional links on his site.

About a month ago, I purchased his The Portable Wargame. I found it far more interesting that I had initially considered it to be and it has inspired me to create my own portable wargame to take with me on trips.
I bought some 10mm WW2 Germans and Soviets from Pendraken, and I will show those off, once they arrive. I am looking for 3/8" foam that I can cut into 2.25" squares for hills, and I also ordered some trees that will be about the right size. I already own several vinyl chess mats, and I will simply use one of those for the battlefield.

I have a LOT more to catch up on, but I cannot take much more of the computer screen....sadly. I may be up to posting again tomorrow or so.




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Yep, still here...barely.

What is that saying about plans and contact with the enemy?

Yeah, well, I have wanted to get back to posting regularly here, but life has had its seriously unfunny occurrences which have taken the wind out of my sails a bit.

I won't go into details, but I have had to endure, and will continue to do so for a while, a serious personal tragedy which has had more of an effect on me that I would like to admit.

On the other hand, I have been gaming with my closest friends on a near weekly basis, but have avoided the club games for about six months. I plan on going back to the club event this weekend and check up with my mates there.

I did attend Kubla-Con last May, and intend to go again. I ran several demonstration games of Blucher, but I am not sure what I might do this year.

I was just accepted into the Master of Arts in Military History program at Norwich University in Vermont. It is a distance learning program of 18-24 months, but I expect to take the 24 month track as I want to do a thesis for it. Before I enlisted in the USMC, I had given real consideration to attending Norwich as an undergrad, but I simply could not afford to do so.

Now, I still cannot afford the program, but I cannot afford to not do the program, not without giving up other career dreams and goals. I should be starting once my financial aid clears, either this March or perhaps in June. I look forward to the readings and getting the work completed.

My camera is kaput, todt, gone the way of the dodo bird. I need to get myself a new one for online imagery.

I have been purchasing miniatures, miniature rules, and boardgames throughout the last two years. I will be doing some commentaries and limited reviews in the near future as well as show what I am currently working towards.

As my painting area is severely limited, as is my time, I have been paying a friend to paint my miniatures. He needs the cash and I need painted miniatures. This is not my preferred way of doing things, but it is what I can do at this time. Maybe I can get back to painting my own stuff in a couple of years.

Until the next time...and may that be sooner than 10 months from now.

Justin

Friday, March 18, 2016

Juror Number Twelve


It was the first shot that killed him. The two other bullets that entered his body were survivable, but that first one pierced his aorta. The screaming friends holding his body, vainly attempting to awaken the victim from shock induced unconsciousness likely had no idea that their friend and companion had no hope for survival. The video recorded it all, the encounter, the drawn pistol, and the three shots, the first from less than two feet away. That no one else was hurt by the large caliber bullets after they exited the body of the victim is nothing short of a providential miracle. That restaurant and bar was crowded and the victim was standing nearly in the middle of a group of dancers and bar patrons.

It took nearly four and a half years for justice to be gained for the victim and his family and associates, four and a half years for the shooter to be legally determined a murderer.

It was my job to help reach a verdict...

For the past several weeks, I have been spending much of my time in a courthouse. The building is old, well old for this area, build some fifty years ago, replacing one built in 1875. Confining, overbearing, and heavy with the accumulated weight of both justice and injustice, it is not a pleasant place to hang out. The three public elevators take seemingly forever to gather and deliver their occupants to one of the ten floors, two basement and eight above ground.

In the basement there is a small eatery. Not a particularly grand place and neither too expensive or too cheap, the best selection, in my view, is the french dip sandwich. Soda is sold by the can and bottled water and juices are available. However, heavy burdens of the structure above, the atmosphere is dense and troubled. Jurors and court staff do not mingle. There is the occasional outgoing bailiff, nice enough to chat when in the queue, but most people entering sit alone or with one or two who are well known to them. The jurors make the best of the situation and carry on with small talk.

The case was simple, the basic facts undisputed by either side. The defendant killed a man. The video camera captured the entire scene from its perch on the ceiling. Both the defense counsel and the prosecutor agreed to these facts. Where they disagreed was as to whether or not the killing was justifiable self defense or was it murder.

For approximately twelve days the jurors got to know each other, while sitting in the deliberation room, awaiting to be called in to hear testimony and see the evidence. Four women and eight men, thrown together through a not exactly random chain of events, were strangers to one another, with one exception. I happened to have a recollection of one of the jurors as he had attended the same graduate program as I did for a time. I did not readily remember his name and he did not recognize me as I had recently shaved off my beard and mustache. Apart from our common university experience, we did not really know each other.

Sitting across someone for six hours a day over the course of twelve or so days does grant a measure of acquaintance, if not intimacy. We did not sit in silence, when in our little cubby, but there were several who texted or talked with family, friends, and work, while the rest of us chatted about movies, the O.J. Simpson trial and television mini-series, food, and books.

I am normally an introvert, extremely so, but when placed in situations out of the norm for me, I put on a facade of an outgoing individual. After years of practice, it is easy to do, but by far my preference is to sit alone and observe.  Here, my facade backed me into a corner, but I did not know it until the end.

Upon the first showing of the video evidence, an individual in the audience, presumably a close family member of the victim, screamed loudly and sobbed when we all saw the defendant pull out his .45 caliber handgun and point it at the chest of the victim. The video also had sound and the sharp and heavy sounds of each round being fired hit the jury with enough force that several of us shifted in our seats.

The victim was obviously drunk. We saw him staggering around. We saw him encroach upon the personal space of the defendant, nearly twenty minutes before the first shot was fired. We saw him gesture, pointing at himself and the defendant repeatedly, but with the blaring dance music, we could not understand the words. It would not have mattered, they were speaking a language foreign to all of us.

That the defendant did not pull the gun at this time showed a measure of control however, that control was temporary. Twenty minutes later, the victim made the last decision of his life, the one that ended up costing him his life. He decided to approach the defendant one last time, in what appeared to be a playful manner. Two thin fingers, flicking down at the eyes of the man standing across from him. Words were exchanged, the playful drunk's hands come up, palms up, to his sides, as though he were asking, "why you mad, bro?"

Less than a second later, he was on the ground in a near fetal position, his life's precious liquid pumping out of him rapidly.

The defendant claimed self defense, that the victim had threatened him, but the two further shots when the victim was down and obviously not coming back up, were beyond the scope of defending oneself. They were the evidence of unnecessary force, but in tragically different ways.

After the two sides rested their cases, we jurors walked solemnly and somberly back to the deliberation room. We know had the responsibility of determining one man's fate, to be the instrument of justice, to be the judges of evidence.

At such times, juries must elect foremen or forepersons, if you prefer, who will essentially lead the group of equals in discussion, insuring everyone has the opportunity to be heard, to give some measure of order to what can be a chaotic process.

In this case, my facade was too successful and although I did not seek it, my peers decided that I should be the foreman. The issue was put to a vote and mine was the final hand raised, accepting the will of the others.

We deliberated for over six hours, over two successive days. I will not go into great detail as I have too much respect for the individuals inside that room. I will say that we first discussed the issue of self defense and rejected it. We then discussed each of the legal requirements for murder in the first degree and agreed to all but one, deliberate.  If the act under consideration was rash or impulsive, it could not then be deliberate. For six hours, we discussed, argued, and considered this point. That is six hours within that room.

As we were not given the case, for deliberation, until the afternoon, we only had a few hours to review the evidence and talk amongst ourselves before calling it a day. At this point, the majority was for for murder one, the rest for murder two. We agreed to sleep on it, to ponder it in our minds, and then to come back the next day to take up the discussion once again.

I did not sleep that night. The responsibility of being a juror means examining the evidence, judging for ourselves, but not making any firm decision outside the room designed for that purpose. As I tossed and turned, the thought kept returning to my mind, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. MUST prove. MUST PROVE.

One would think the video recorded it all.

One would think that.

Yet it did not.

We cannot see the thoughts inside a person's head, at least not yet. As much as I had wanted to decide one way, in that room, I wanted, and we all agreed, that justice required us to not rush to a verdict. To give the process its appropriate time and consideration. It was obvious, before we went home, who impassioned some of us were towards a particular outcome, but several of us could not reach that same point. At least, not without being true to ourselves.

As we entered the room for the second day of deliberation, we had a brief discussion and again voted in secret, the result was the same as before. Now, we were more polarized in our discussion, with each side hardening themselves to their decision, which was not where we needed to end up.

I ended up making the final argument, repeating what had been going through my head all night long. As much as I wanted to, and unhappy with the situation as I was, I felt and still feel, the prosecution failed to prove the act was deliberate. There were various factors that played on my thoughts, including intoxication and provocation, and these same thoughts bothered several of the others, who felt similarly as I did.

All of us felt the injustice of the killing, the sheer wrongness of what had occurred, but those alone do not define cold-blooded murder.

As we continued to talk, another changed his vote to match my own. He agreed with my argument and added more of his own. This further snowballed into another adding further to my argument and switching his vote.

Justice is a double-edged sword, it must cut evenly both for and against both parties; Justice is blind.

In the end, we all of us agreed that the prosecution left us hanging. We agreed that we wanted more, but there was no evidence of more. We only had what had been placed before us and we did not like it. In the end, we followed the admonition of the Court to deliberate the evidence, to follow the law.

In the end, we agreed that the act of killing was impulsive and rash...and in no way justified. We agreed to murder two.



This was my first murder trial as a juror. I hope to never have to endure such a trial again.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Blücher - Linked games for my club


I have been a fan of Sam Mustafa's games for over a decade.While they may not suit everyone's tastes (they should!), I happen to like the simplicity, but also way he incorporates certain mechanics in each of his games, which provides me exactly what I am looking for.

Last year, his newest take on Napoleonic rules were released, Blücher which is obviously the picture image above. I pre-ordered these rules and the card set that was released simultaneously. Now, the cards are not necessary, but they have sure proven handy as you will see below.

This is not a review of the rules, so if you're aiming to skip reading on that account, never fear, this is a report of a series of linked games I put on for my club. Yes, it is a long read, but bear with me, please.

As an aside, I played the game with several of my mates, who are also members in the club, during weeknight gaming at our local FLGS. My primary opponent, who I shall name, "Brent", (ahem...as the usual names I call him are not family friendly), played several games in a row with me, all of which I lost...badly. Wholly unrelated to his euphoria over figuratively crushing me,  he stated, "Blücher does for Napoleonics what DBA did for ancients." In a way, I think he is right on target, as do several members of the club who later went out and bought their own copies of the rules (I ended up getting Brent a copy for a birthday present).

Blücher does change that way my club played Napoleonics in the past. Gone are the days of marching across the table, and taking 6 hours of real time to do it, without ever firing a shot (my FIRST game with the club, back in 1984).  Instead, we can play some rather large games, to a finish, in about 4 hours, with anywhere from 6 to 10 people playing.

[note: the rules do not have a set convention for how to handle large multi-player games, there are suggestions, but I had make some additional accommodations for these big games.]

This past summer, I put on an abbreviated 1809 campaign, over 2 of our monthly meetings. The first scenario was Aspern-Essling, and the second was, of course, Wagram. Those events are summarized below.

For the first scenario, I planned on a 1 to 2 "day" battle, where if things went well enough for the defending French, they would continue the fight over a second day, to see if they could outdo the historical result. On the other hand, I made it very possible for the game to end after a single day, depending upon the success of the attacking Austrians.

Aspern-Essling

 photo 20151010_123324_zpsowzx1mbz.jpg

Above, you see Aspern, in the foreground, and Essling is a bit further away. I got the ground scale as close as I could manage, but used a template for the actual towns. Each card, later base of miniatures, represents about a half brigade in strength. In Blücher, cards normally function at brigade strength, but I wanted each player to have more units and it fit well with the 12' long table at the ground scale I had worked out.

The cards you see are the backs of the unit cards I bought for the game. You see the French colors because those units are as yet unknown to the Austrians.  This was especially important as the French were rather lacking in the way of infantry, and those units between the two towns were actually cavalry (the Austrian players thought they were infantry).

The "road" connecting the towns was an embankment, which provided a defensive bonus against fire, were the unit in contact. Once an enemy was also in contact opposite a friendly unit, neither side received the bonus.

 photo 20151010_142414_zpsg7rwwbnw.jpg

Admittedly, this is not a great image, but as I was using a phone to take the shots, I did get some that were fuzzy.

I set up the table, complete with zones of deployment for each of the Austrian columns, and some of the attacking units were placed on the table at start. I designated each pair of turns (one Austrian, and one French) as approximately one hour of time. I then wrote entry times on the tape I used to designate the deployment zones.

Although it appears the Austrians have not moved very much, they actually crossed about 3.5 to 4 feet of table, at this point, but this is more due to their command and control issues, and player choices, than a movement limitation imposed by the rules. The Austrian commanders wanted to have all of their attacks at the same time, so it took a while to get their columns coordinated.

One of the things I really enjoy about Blücher is the fact that a player does not know how many units he will be able to move in a given turn. His opponent has a good idea, as he rolls the command dice (Motivation Dice), but the way activations work one typically ends up unable to do everything one wished.

I simulated the damaged to the bridges over the Danube by rolling 2d6 each turn, each pip equaling 1 point of damage. I rated the bridges at 30 "health" each, but they could be repaired, 1d6 (to be allocated between the bridges by the French commander...."Brent"), but if Napoleon were to remain behind at Lobau, then 2d6 of repairs would be conducted as everyone was under Nappy's eye. However, the Guard could not be released unless Napoleon's person crossed over to the battlefield. So, there were some significant decisions that had to be made during the course of the game, especially since if both bridges were to drop, then the French had to retreat and try to get back to Lobau.

The ways things turned out was, pretty much historical. The French defenders in Aspern, led by Massena, held out for quite a long time, but Massena ended up getting killed, and the Austrians were able to get into to the town and hunker down. They were unable to push through due to terrain and more French infantry just outside. Also, they had real problems with getting their troops into such a confined area.


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 The initial attacks on Aspern.

 On the right flank, the defenders of Essling held out for a relatively short time, once the attackers got stuck in. Unfortunately, it took a LONG time for the Austrians to actually attack Essling itself. This was mainly due to command and control issues, coupled with the desire to have all Austrian columns in the area to attack simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the bridges were taking a pounding. The French engineers were able to keep a handle on things, until two disastrous turns in a row, where 12 points of damage were done to each bridge (if doubles were rolled, both bridges took damage, otherwise, first one was damaged, and when it went down, the second was to take the damage), the French engineers only recovered 2 points (total!) the first time, and 4 points the second, leaving each bridge at -5 or worse....thus they fell.

Once that happened, they French were hit with a -1 to combat dice, for each unit, due to ammunition shortages (no supplies crossing), and they had to pull back. By this time, Aspern had already fallen (just!), and Essling fell the next turn.

Due to the casualties the lead Austrian units had suffered, I ruled the game at an end, a Austrian tactical victory, but no pursuit allowed. Casualties were fairly close between armies, but the Austrian units were exhausted (each unit is rated for Elan, with each hit reducing this amount. Most units started with 5 or 6 and many of the Austrian units were at 2 or 3. At 1 Elan, a unit cannot attack).

I had the French player on the right flank roll a d6 for Lannes' surviving the battle, which he did...a lucky roll. I had St. Hilaire, who also survived, promoted to Field Marshal and he would take over Massena's commander in the next battle.

Interlude
With the aftermath of the game, I was rather happy with the result. Although we did have problems in that several players had to miss the game...leaving just a few to carry on, the fact that one of the Austrian players have never even seen the rules prior, we did fight to a conclusion.

Planning for the next game, I wanted to keep the ground scale, unit scale, and time scale, the same as the first game. I also wanted to switch the experiences for the players, as each player continued with the same commands, so that the Austrians would have a similar experience as the French in the first game and vice versa.


Wagram


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Another 12' long table, with the terrain set up for the 2nd day of the historical battle. The image above is the initial set up, complete with on table units. The French objective was to take both Baumersdorf (in the center right) and Markgrafnusiedl (just out of frame in right foreground). The town of Wagram, itself, is just visible at top right.

I placed the French deployment zones as close as I could manage to the historical situation. They were advancing on a narrow front and in depth.

The Austrian objective was to hold both towns. However, if Markgrafnusiedl were to fall to the French, the flank would be uncovered and they would have to test to see if they would be forced to fall back to the center, they could still recover, but it would depend on the result of the test. Also, I allowed Archduke Charles (in the person of Dave B.) to decide where he wanted his main effort to be, and he could then move there, adding an additional motivation dice to that area. (Essentially, I split the table into 3 individual games, allowing each section to proceed at its own pace.....friction!).


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 A few turns into the action, and the French left flank is getting mauled. The Austrian player (his second game of Blücher) was rolling hot and the French commander on that flank has about as bad a day of die rolling as I have ever seen). The French on the left never made it to the center of the table.


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Another badly taken photo.

About a half dozen turns into the game or so, and the French left is being pushed back to their initial positions, after suffering significant losses, with no real losses to the Austrians here. The French center is peeling off both cavalry and infantry to support the left, but also to protect the flank of the mass aimed at Baumersdorf.


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The French right, facing Austrian left. As you can see, there are no French miniatures here. We just did not have enough figures based amongst the club members. We have plenty of figures, for all combatants, but many are still packed away in garages, storage sheds, etc., and one player, who was going to bring his troops, had a family situation crop up and was unable to make it. You can see the utility of these unit cards, in a pinch you're still covered!


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The French right, about 6 turns later. Yes, there are no Austrian defenders in the town.

The French right took a long time to get itself sorted, but it quickly made up for the lost time by breaking the defending unit in a single round of close combat. It was unbelievable, but it happened in a toss of the dice for each player.

I made the Austrian wing commander roll for the crucial test....and he blew it yet again. The Austrians on the left flank had to flee towards the table edge, giving the French right an open road to the center and last objective. With the French reserve now on the table, and the French center able to hold its left flank (the actual French left was almost at the table edge), the center had the "go-ahead."



One turn later, I made Archduke Charles test to see if his center would stick, now that his left flank was gone, but his luck, too, ran out, and the remaining Austrians retreated in the face of the French center's advance. The above image shows Charles' position as the French close in on their final objective.

You can see there are plenty of Austrian troops, but with the left gone, and Charles' secondary objective being to keep his army intact, as much as possible, the game was called.

A major French victory, but a minor (moral) victory for the Austrians.

The casualties in this game were much less equal, primarily due to the meat-grinder that the French left fell into. The French left flank almost collapsed on its own, but St. Hilaire was able to retire most of his mangled troops (a good idea!) before they were broken. It was very close, 2 stands in fact, that had he suffered them as broken or even had he retired them, that flank would have been shattered, leaving the French to pass a crucial test to press on.

This battle could have gone either way, but I think the critical error was made by Archduke Charles when he got the bit in his teeth and focused nearly all his efforts on his right flank, which did admirably. However, this meant he had little for his left, and more vulnerable flank.

One "trick" I pulled was that Archduke John was "expected" to arrive on the table. The French players did not figure this to be a ruse until well over a dozen turns into the game. They did have to watch for this and I looked on with glee as they finally figured it out. I also made the Saxon corps a bit brittle, which forced the French to protect them from too much harm.

The game very nearly went exactly according to history, including the devastating casualties on the French left and the Austrians retreating once their left was a goner.

Overall, I am pleased with the results...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Temporary Construction Issues

I was working with my blog this morning and jacked it up slightly. I wanted to improve the overall look, but some things got moved which should not have moved. As I am at work, but before I start my first class, I am unable to tinker with it enough to apply a good kick. I hope to make things more presentable once I return home. Until then, please forgive the mess....