Monday, 20 November 2017

Pictorial Orders of Battle.

Hmmm, first problem - does any one know how I can rotate the above image?

Second problem - does any one know how I can generate labels and attach them to the image above?

Let me explain what I am trying to do.  The above is a bath tubbed version of 5th Light Panzer Division 1941 which basically means that one fighting battalion represents a brigade or regiment and that the supporting battalions are reduced to company sized units with no HQ.  This allows one player to comfortably play a divisional sized unit with all the attachments without being swamped by a host of elements.  In an operational game, a player will have a better sense of combined arms and the CinC will be ordering divisions and corp attachments rather then battalion sized reinforcements.  I think this will allow quicker games, quicker set ups, and a better understanding of the units under a players command without intensive schooling in WW2 organisations.

So, what I am trying to create is a pictorial representation of a division.  I think it's easier to understand the different units if you can see them before the game.  The element in the bottom left is the divisional CinC.  Behind him on the right is the recon battalion.  The next unit to its left is the panzer regiment and then to its left is the motorcycle infantry battalion.  These are the three fighting battalions that have HQs.  The divisional HQ can be attached to any of these units giving them a +1 for orders - he will require an order to move from one unit and reattach to another.  The final group on the far left are the attachments.

Hope that outlines my intentions.  Mark and I are planning to attempt a bath tubbed operational game on Saturday 2nd December - if anyone else is free please join in (unless Andy and his friend from the last operational game confirm they want to have a go in which case I will be putting on a proper original version as a friendly introduction).  I want to try out some of the streamlining ideas for an encounter battle and any help anyone can offer with the top two questions would be gratefully received!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


Saturday November 4th dawned and we assembled at Broughton for our next "push of the envelope" operational game.  Not enough of us were available to do the desert encounter battle, so instead we made the most of the opportunity to have a go at transporting an earlier period to the operational format.  The Renaissance seemed the easiest period to attempt, and if successful, we would have a new mini-campaign system for our other pre-20th century periods.  I have to say, I think it played very well!

The original proviso was that the Duke of Ferrara, a close ally of the Pope (as played in our epic Renaissance campaign of nearly two years ago) is besieged by his aggressive neighbour, Venice.  Keen to aid his ally, the Pope has despatched an army of relief to save the city of Ferrara, and if possible, defeat the army of Venice - see previous post for the rules.

Jon, who had played the Pope in the previous campaign, assumed command of the Papal forces assisted by Russ, and likewise, Mark took charge of the Venetians with the help of Frank.

The initial plans for both sides were very well thought out, and I think for a first foray into a new period, very bold.  I do think familiarity with the tables has sped up decision making and generalship.

The Papal plan was to march quickly to the aid of Ferrara along 1D and 2D and assemble outside the walls of the city on 3B.  This would allow the army to operate with supplies from the city or attack the Venetian siege lines on 3A by marching through the city.  The Duke of Ferrara had a strong garrison that was largely poised along the walls of 3A to either pin the besieging Venetian force or sally out in support of the main Papal force.

The Duke of Ferrara, aware that a Papal army of relief is approaching , lines the ramparts of his city in readiness for a sortie against the Venetian siege lines.

The Venetians were aware of the strong garrison and had deployed a powerful force of artillery and infantry within the siege works.  However, the bulk of their army was deployed on 2B, well placed to assist the besiegers on 3A, defend against a Papal attack that would have to deploy piece meal through the difficult ground on 2C, or counter any Papal thrust along 1A and 2A.  Mark boldly detached his C in C with all his light cavalry to act as a trigger on 1B as he felt the most likely Papal attack would be along the "A" tables.  As an insurance he placed a small garrison in the fort on 1C and another detachment dug in at the bridge on 2B.  A dummy base was placed on 2C.

The Papal army was strong in Condottieri and Retainers and Russ commanded the Swiss Pike (which was of no surprise at all to Mark and Frank!).  Anticipating this, the Venetians had hired Landsknechts - 6 units! - which they hoped would lure the Swiss onto superior numbers or into poor tactical situations.

The Papal plan rolled out over the first few turns whilst the Venetians looked on and tried to gauge the main thrust of the attack.  Pleased that he had got his army unmolested to 3B, Jon quickly despatched Russ and his Swiss through Ferrara with attack orders against the Venetian baggage - no dithering there as an unbelievable swathe of sixes enabled easy passage and plenty of movement!

Swiss Pike arrive on 3A with orders to attack the Venetian baggage.

Meanwhile Mark moved his C in C from 1B to 1D to look as threatening as possible in conjunction with his dummy board on 2C as he still believed the most likely avenue of attack would be via 2C.  Unfortunately, he was insistent on referring to this board as "my C in C" and Jon, sensing an opportunity to cause chaos in the Venetian command and control despatched his heavy cavalry to engage this, as yet, undisclosed movement board.

Mark's light cavalry on the right turn tail and run as the Papal host romps onto 1C.

Mark only just managed to extricate his command from this powerful attack, literally keeping one move ahead of the Papal men at arms.  The garrison on 1C, shooting from the fort's ramparts vainly attempted to slow Jon's cavalry down but the speed of Mark's light horse saved him from annihilation.

Meanwhile, the Swiss with the close support of the Duke's garrison is attacking the Venetian siege lines.  Raked by Venetian light guns they ignore their casualties and storm into the defences.  The Venetian front line buckles and a battery of artillery routes but Mark has a second line which counter attacks and pushes the Swiss back.

Aware that the main Papal attack is on 3A, Mark has made it back to his main force on 2B and orders Frank with the majority of the Landsknechts to move to 3A.  I think that this is one of the pivotal decisions of the game; intending to keep his options open, Frank is ordered to the hill on 3A rather than attack the Swiss.  Does this allow a considered attack against the flank of the emerging Papal army or does it incur further delay whilst the Venetian C in C is busy elsewhere? - we will see.

Jon's uncommitted C in C languishes outside the walls of Ferrara on 3B as a rut of 1's and 2's prevents him changing his orders.

At the same time, Mark has ordered his dummy board on 2C to take 2D, cut off the aggressive Papal cavalry and look threatening against the Papal C in C on 3B.  With the success of the Venetian infantry against the Swiss Pike it looks like the battle has swung back to Mark and Frank.

Russ' Swiss are held and even pushed back across the siege lines.  Frank's force of Landsknechts with supports has arrived at the hill on 3A.

However, the Swiss setback is temporary, and Russ reorganised his veteran units to renew the assault, with one pike block punching through a crossbow unit and into the Venetian baggage.  Frank's Landsknechts arrive on 3A but with orders to hold the hill they are unable to intervene against the vulnerable Swiss flanks.  The Duke detaches mounted crossbow to harry this new threat and delay the Germans from intervening.

Frank's troops hover on the flanks but the Swiss are already looting the baggage  and the remaining Venetian foot are struggling to contain the onslaught.

Whist the battle develops on 3A, Jon (after 5 turns of failing to change his own orders) has managed to move his C in C through 2C, opening up supply lines and communication with his cavalry on 1B, and has emerged from the close terrain to hit Mark's C in C in the flank on 2B.  Mark struggles to extricate his command whilst sending the necessary orders to Frank to attack the Swiss.

Another shot of Frank's troops moving to the attack as the Duke of Ferrara and one Swiss  Pike  block  turn to face this new threat.

The Venetian light cavalry is no match for the armoured Papal horse and casualties begin to mount threatening to force the C in C's command on hold.  The Venetian foot on 3A have reached 50% casualties and have already dropped the aggression level of the Venetian army.  To emphasise the Swiss ascendancy, the Venetian sub-commander has met an heroic death attempting to stem the surge of pike.  Frank's Landsknecht's struggle to effectively intervene against the Swiss and the Papal heavy cavalry have succeeded in accepting new orders to take 1A and then charge down 2A into the exposed Venetian baggage as the bridge guard on 2A has been withdrawn to help in the entrenchments.

The small but effective Papal command base (on the right) arrives on 2B

The next turn, it's two heavy cavalry units smash into the Venetian light horse.  The movement board is a powerful force of Venetian foot and cavalry but Mark's C in C is too busy to send it orders.

The Papal cavalry has now crossed the river on 2A and is poised to take the undefended baggage on 3A.

After 21 turns the battle came to a close with a 11 to 7 victory for the Pope and Venetian army morale faltering.  It must be admitted that Russ and Jon rolled a lot of 6's which meant movement and orders were swift.  There was one notable exception when Jon struggled to order his C in C to attack 2B and the heavy cavalry were in danger of romping after Mark's C in C and onto the prepared positions of the main Venetian force.  However, on the whole the Papal orders were simple and direct and I think the Swiss and the Duke Ferrara required only one order change each for the whole battle.

Venetian dispositions were good and the initial plan sound.  Detaching the C in C was a calculated risk, especially towards the end of the game when bolder orders were required for the Landsknechts.  However, the initiative was always going to be with the Pope until the Venetians were sure of the main line of attack.  I wonder whether both sides took too much of a risk dividing their forces, although I would say Jon and Russ won through bolder and more decisive orders.

As an operational game it worked very well.  The sense that a battle could be fought at any number of points kept both sides careful with reserves and over commitment of forces - it did feel like a mini campaign.  All the tables were moved over and there were actions fought on three of them.  The size of the armies at equal points felt correct and the game was in the balance right until the end.  No one played badly and as Umpire I had a great game watching two teams manoeuvre their armies and "duke" it out - well done everyone!

Thursday Night

If no-one minds, I'm going to put on a winter WW2 scenario (Spearhead) using the winter rules so you can get a bit more conversant with the nuances!

OOB etc.I'll bring on the night.  It will be 1942 German vs Russians.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Rule Amendments for Renaissance Operational Games.

Related image

Some rules amendments for Saturday's operational game.

Line of supply for both armies is from their baggage train or the city on 3A and 3B.

The besieger has x8 bases of supply permanently positioned as one of the objective points on 3A.

The relieving army has x4 bases of supply in wagons that must be attached to one of the commands.

The City also counts as a line of supply by whoever occupies it.

Loss of baggage or being out of supply results in a unit suffering a shift left for firing, melee and a -1 for morale.

Any command out of supply will drop down a level of aggression for orders e.g. attack becomes engage.  This is cumulative.  So, for each command in the army that is less than 50% strength then this drops the aggression level of the army by one level.  As does the loss of the CinC.  Thus Attack is the highest level of aggression, then Engage, then hold then Retire.  Any individual command on less than 50% can only be on Hold as the highest level of aggression.

It takes one unit, one turn to destroy a baggage unit and then it is shaken.

Movement is allowed between 3A and 3B by whoever occupies the city.

Movement is double across uncontested tables.

Hidden movement boards are used for commands that have not been spotted.

Table 3A has on objective point for the besiegers baggage, the open ground outside the city walls and the city walls.  The besieger may have any units that begin on table 3A behind earth works.  The besieged army initially holds the city walls.

Table 3B has an objective point for the outer fortifications, the bridge and the inner city walls.  All these points are initially held by the besieged army.

The rivers on Tables 2A and 2B both have bridges across them.

The relieving army can decide to deploy as many units as it likes within the city walls, the remaining troops will enter on any of Tables 1A,B,C or D.  The besieging army holds all the remaining points on the other tables and deploys accordingly once the amount of units in the garrison has been decided.

The armies will be Venice as besieging army and the Italian League as army of relief and garrison.  They will be their full army lists plus one extra D6 commander and x8 points of additional reinforcements. Reinforcements can be placed in any command.  Both armies get x1 dummy movement board.

Reinforcements can be picked from the German States, the Italian States or the Swiss Mercenaries.  Swiss Pike will not fight other Swiss Pike.  Swiss Pike will ignore all orders and attack Landsknechts if visible within 16".

Hopefully I've covered everything!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

WW2 winter 1942 Eastern Front (and piano shifting)

Do you know the piano's on my foot?  You hum it, son, I'll play it.

We had another Monday bash at WW2 winter warfare on Monday as the Russians in early 1942 attempt to oust the Germans from their winter quarters in Kholm.  But before we could begin I had to drive back over to Moreton to help Mark and Ian manhandle a piano into the back of Mark's van (hence the PG Tips Chimps reference!).  This included much grunting and straining and a bit where the piano did land on my foot!  But we got it in in the end.

As a consequence we were late starting and the inevitable gabbing during the day meant that we didn't get a conclusion but we all enjoyed the day and it led to a few additional tweaks to our rule amendments.

The Scenario
A couple of German battalions are deeply entrenched in their winter quarters in Feb 1942.  With no armoured support and no aerial cover, they have fortified much of their position to fend off another attack by Russian forces.  No air supply this time but they have sufficient supplies to last another battle.

The Germans are entrenched in the town, on the hill to the north of the town and in a redoubt (a fortified position including wrecked vehicles to provide extra cover.  The Russians will attack from both north and south but where will the main strength of the Russian attack fall?

The Forces
The Festung Kholm forces comprise two strong infantry battalions (composite infantry and composite mountain infantry with MG's and mortars, an infantry gun and Pak38 in the town and some 105's and a 150 artillery support 'off table).  Germans are mainly dug in giving them +2 when shot against and a whopping +3 in the redoubt (basically impossible to shoot!).

The Russians have the 75th Naval Brigade and the 943rd Rifle Regiment with a couple of Quad AA's on trucks, some infantry guns, ATG's and heavy mortars.  The infantry battalions are relatively small (6-7 units of infantry with MG's and mortars) but they do have tank support (a mix of British abnd Soviet tanks) and air support from a Tupolev SB2 with three bombing missions.

The battlefield.  The Germans can only deploy on the middle board.  Arrows show Russian attack routes.

Turn 1

Ian (as the German commander) laid out his troops to try and counter an attack from both sides.  The Pak 38 faced south (which proved a good choice).  One of his FOO's was on the hill to the north but the other was parked in town meaning he could spot virtually nothing and he was in charge of the 105's. 

Weather started as OK and the initial Russian moves reflected this - all moved full whack towards their objectives.  From the north came the 257th Ski Bttn. And from the south came pretty much all the artillery. and the 75th Naval Brigade's battalions.

Food for thought was whether the Germans could have pre-planned an artilley barrage on the road.  If they had done so it would have been devastating as all the Russian artillery was bunched up.  The sole German attack was from a mortar stuck out in the snow (with MG support) which missed.  In turn the Tupolev bombed a town sector to little effect.

Germans dug in.  The Redoubt (circled).  A tough objective!  You can also see the Pak 38 dug in on the road pointing south.
Turn 2
An adverse weather front comes in.  The Russians choose not to risk their bomber and instead deploy their artillery by the side of the road (as trucks can only run on the road).  The ski troops also move to the edge of the woods approaching the town from the north.  The Germans stay hunkered down and again only the mortar in the snow gets involved - suppressing an infantry gun. 

Russian artillery deploys as the 1/75th reach the wood edge. The Quad AA sits back so as to not to be spotted.

Turn 3
As the weather takes a turn for the better, the Russians move up and both 1/75 and 2/75 to the edge of the woods and the 257th Ski appear from the woods to attack.  The German mortar again suppresses the infantry gun.  The FOO in town cannot see anything to call the 105's in on but the FOO on the hill sees the ski troops and tries to call in the 150mm - and fails.  The mortar to the north of town is not registered either and the infantry gun also fails to be called in so its left to the MG42 on the hill to open up and suppress a ski platoon.  As per the rules of Spearhead, Mark rolls for the quality of the troops and gets Green for the ski troops. Which is bad.

Ski troops of the 257th rush their objective with no indirect fire to stop them.  Only the MG on the hill makes an impression.

Turn 4

The weather closes in again and the 75th troops seem unwilling to leave the cover of the trees (variable movement can affect the Russians as well!).  They end up just clear of the trees.  On the other hand, not believing their luck at not being bombarded by artillery, the 257th ski as fast as they can to engage the Germans dug in on the hill.  The FOO on the hill realises that his radio is malfunctioning and the 150mm remains silent.  The mortar does register however and suppresses another ski unit.  The accompanying infantry and MG fire causes suppression markers to bloom in the snow around the ski troops.

To the south, the MG supporting the mortar in the snow suppresses a unit of 1/75 as they emerge from the trees.  Encouraged by this the infantry in the nearest town sector to the Russians opens up with infantry fire - and miss.  Ian starts blaming the cursed blue dice that appears to not have a 5 or 6 on it and Mark suggests borrowing Frank's 'begging bowl' (a wooden beastie he rolls his dice into to stop them spraying across the table. 

It turns out that 1/75 are also Green and Mark fails to unsuppress any units.  Which is very bad.

1. 1/75 attack (and are shot at) from the nearest town sector while 2. the 2/75 have the trickier redoubt to take on

Turn 5
As the weather appears to have settled the Russians bring in the Tupolev.  As the Germans have no AA it has a clear bombing run nut rather than attacking the troops on the hill (who are dug in in the open) Mark chose to bomb the troops in the nearest sector to 1/75 (dug in in the town).  He therefore needed 6's on the dice and basically failed to hit anything. 

The 257th decide discretion is the better part of valour and do a break-off before they are shot to pieces.  They run back into the woods to hide and stay there for the rest of the battle. 

To the south, 1/75 stop in the open to fire into the town sector as 2/75 move up to shoot into the reboubt (which proves pretty worthless given the defensive qualities of the redoubt).

The mortar fails to kill the 1/75 suppressed platoon and as if to celebrate this, the massed Russian artillery kills the supporting German MG!  In turn, the German infantry suppress another 1/75 platoon but the reboubt's infantry miss when they open up on 2/75.  They turn out to be Green as well!  Mark was not happy.  His only consolation is that the infantry manage to suppress a german platoon in the town.

1. The German MG in the snow is killed, leaving the mortar vulnerable and alone.  2. the 2/75 get within shooting range of the redoubt.

Turn 6
A whopping snow shower prevents any aircraft sorties and also affects movement and spotting.  Which proves beneficial to the Russians.  2/75 get closer to the redoubt and 1/75 get the Quad AA up to add its firepower to the attack on the town sector - safe in the knowledge that - for now - the FOO and the Pak38 can't see it!

The German mortar crew care not if they are left alone in the snow and kill a platoon of 1/75.  Its the only effective firing this turn as either poor dice by the Germans (that bloody blue dice!) or the effect of cover on Russian fire means no-one gets hit.  This probably saves the leftmost platoon of 2/75 who otherwise would get shot from around 4 town sectors!  The snow saves their asses.

 1. 1/75 get closer to try a direct assault on the town sector to their front while 2.  2/75 take advantage of the sudden snowfall to assault the redoubt!  Brave lads.
Turn 7
The weather improves and this allows the FOO for the 105's to call them in and they kill a platoon of Russians.  In return, the Russian artillery is poor.  2/75 close assault the redoubt and are undeterred by desultory German infantry fire (Ian blames the blue dice again and tries to palm it off onto Mark who's having none of it and clasps his trusty red dice close to his heart).  It proves a good move as the green Russians prise the German defenders out and take the redoubt for themselves!

Meanwhile another 1/75 platoon is suppressed by fire.  The German mortar is close assaulted and....survives!  The 1/75 lose another platoon as a result and are close to a morale roll as a result. 

The redoubt is taken!

Turn 8
The bad weather comes in again and again spotting and movement on the ground is affected.  The Tupolev is kept grounded.  Another Russian platoon is saved from certain death by the weather as he can no longer be spotted by the majority of German units in the town.  And again the Quad AA (who had scarpered as the weather cleared last turn) tries his luck again and moves up under the cover of snowfall. 

The Russian tanks make their appearance (led by a Matilda with its hefty frontal armour) but slowly as the Matilda only moves 6".  The Germans find out how badly snow can affect movement as one platoon tried to move from one side of the river to the other and found themselves in the open on the bridge;  Luckily for them no Russians were close enough to take action.  The mortar (having survived the close assault) suppressed another 1/75 platoon while the Russian artillery suppressed a unit of infantry in the town. 

Mark and Ian started fighting over who was not going to use the blue dice (despite it rolling three 6's in succession for shooting at Russians in the redoubt) when Ian tried some cheeky German firing. 

Amazingly the mortar survived another close assault by 1/75 (some Iron Cross winners here come the dawn). 

German platoon stuck in the open - luckily for them no Russians can see them!

Turn 9
The topsy turvy weather improves again and the tanks have to move up to shield the Quad AA (which proves its a beast at direct fire at infantry) has to move back or be Pak38'd.  1/75 are one platoon away from a morale check and they fall back into the woods.  2/75 decide to stay put (the attack on the redoubt cost them too much to give up) but it means units are stuck in the open and 2/75 is not far off a morale check either.  Mark brings on 943rd Rifles to have a go instead (planning a joint assault with the tanks).  The Russian 122mm howitzer is finally called in and immediately suppresses the Pak38.  In response the blue dice dictates that the German 105's are not called in.  Much muttering and gnashing of teeth in Berlin. 

The redoubt is peppered with shots but the Russians inside survive.

1. The Russians in the redoubt are subjected to sustained infantry fire from the town while 2.  the rest of 2/75 hide in the snow as the tanks arrive.
Turn 10
The weather turns bad again!  The 943rd move up with the tanks to have a go at the town sector.  Because of the snow the tanks move in undetected.  Russian artillery fire is again ineffective. 

We're faced with the sight of neither Russian or German infantry at the nearest town sector wanting to fire in case they get spotted through the snowfall! 

Ian cursed the blue dice for the 100th time as it rolled off a 5 (hit) onto a 4 (miss). 

1. Combined arms attack on the town sector while 2. the 943rd infantry shield the troops of 2/75 to prevent a morale check.  Meanwhile 3. troops of 1/75 stay hidden in the woods.

Turn 11
The weather clears but the Russians decide to save the Tupolev (which may have been a mistake as the Germans now had a lot of no-longer dug in troops in some of the town sectors.  The 943rd attacked the town sector which had seen off the 1/75 in the company of the Matilda and a T60.  previous firing had left a suppressed German platoon in the town which despite this handicap saw off one of the attacking platoons.  The tanks and infantry killed off the other two German units and left one suppressed German platoon facing two tanks and two infantry platoons.  1 dice against 4 - and the Germans won! The remaining platoon and the tanks retired all the way back up the road. 

 No more cursing of the blue dice and it appears Steiner was leading the defence.  They clearly followed the example of the mortar just to the side of them that had also seen off impossible odds. 

The heroic defenders of the outlying town sector.  The mortar which had seen off all comers (circled) and in the back of the town sector, Steiner's suppressed infantry platoon which would see off 2 tanks and 3 infantry platoons
Turn 12
The weather was still not good.  The Germans pulled Steiner back into the next town sector to create a second line of defence.  The 943rd started moving forward again after licking their wounds but the clock ran out on us. 

The Russians held the redoubt and could walk into the first town sector unopposed.  The German composite infantry (holding the redoubt and south town sectors) had lost a few units but the mountain infantry were unscathed.  The Russians still had another battalion of infantry to move up and the tanks and artillery were fine but had two battalions of infantry not far off morale checks and the ski troops were unlikely to do anything. 

We'll call it an honourable draw.

A great test of the winter rules and its clear to see they have a big effect on a battle.  German shooting was less effective but they are still formidable.  The Russians have some advantages but are still hampered to a great degree (such as calling in and order changes). 

We then got onto a discussion about amendments for a winter operational battle (Russians attacking) and the options available to both sides.  This included the need to be in supply (i.e. trace a line of supply back to a base line OR be supplied by air.  Being out of supply means units fighting at a disadvantage (-1 on shooting).  So non-Russian troops get a -1 in winter and an additional -1 for being out of supply making them very vulnerable.   It might encourage commanders to save up supplies to ensure greater effectiveness in shooting for longer.

So the emphasis may change to cutting opponents' line of supply, using bombers as supply carriers (such as the He-111 during the Stalingrad battle) and also using fighters to target supply aircraft over bombers and other fighters (and so reducing the fighting effectiveness of the ground forces).

We thought that  1 aircraft being able to carry 4 units of supply - enough for 1 battalion to shoot for 4 turns) - was about right.

Off-table artillery is considered to be always 'in-supply' but can only fire indirect and may not reach tables further back.  On table artillery may be kept on the back tables to keep them in supply and so not take supply from other battalions.  C in C's may face tough decisions as to where to allocate scarce supplies! 

In addition we could see the tactical challenges facing both sides.  Weather can play a massive part - grounding aircraft when attacks or supplies are desperately needed and planes on the ground providing tempting targets for surprise attacks, planned bombardments etc.

Given the state of Russian 'roads' at the time, its suggested that only a few tables would have a defined road on it - making the defence of roads vital for supply purposes and also for mobility.  As we've seen, variable movement can be a pain should you want to get somewhere quick or combine an attack.  Frozen rivers become less of a barrier than a free flowing one.  Plans and tactics have to be meticulous and the Germans may be tempted to take Allied troops like Hungarians or Romanians to provide garrisons while the German troops roam around doing the fighting (but with a spectre of supply always at the back of the mind).

For the Russian operational game we also need to develop more lakes and frozen swamps to provide different tactical challenges.

The Ardennes battle would be very different - many more roads but the Americans at a materiel disadvantage.  Crossroads will be vital points both for supply and movement.  Airdrops for both sides become crucial. 

Amazing how just a change of scenery from summer to winter can completely change a period.  WW2 is fun again!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Retire Orders in PoW Renaissance.

Image result for mounted crossbowmen

As we are going to delve into the Italian Wars for our next operational outing on the 4th November I need to write up a fuller version of the "Retire" orders for the Renaissance PoW rules.

At present retire orders are simply, "All units except skirmishers must retire at a minimum of speed 2" towards or away from their ordered destination. (The Italics is my replacement for the movement arrow.)

As it stands,  at least half the units in a command must obey the order.  So if half your command is non-skirmish and the other half is skirmish then that's an easy option of retiring with all your non-skirmishers and fending off the enemy with your skirmishers?

Or can it be interpreted that if you retire with half your non-skirmishers you are complying with your orders as the half of the non-skirmishing units AND ALL the skirmishing units (which are fully complying with the retire orders!) fend off the enemy?

Or half of all your units regardless of whether they are non-skirmishing or skirmishing must retire - in which case the skirmisher option is being ignored?

Personally I prefer the second option as this gives light formations a great deal of flexibility.  In an operational game it also makes this formation well placed to hold and react to enemy advances on the first tables.  Detached units can have conditional orders to retire against the nearest enemy unit, allowing them to skirmish and slow down attacking forces but have the option of using their superior evades to fall back against overwhelming numbers.

We never use retire orders in a standard battle as there is seldom the room to make it relevant.  The operational game will make the "affairs of the lights" or the "petit guerre" far more relevant.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Renaissance Battle - Burgundy v France

Over the weekend Mark and I managed to dust down the Renaissance PoW rules and get out the French and Burgundian armies.  Prior to Charles the Bolds defeat and death by the Swiss, Burgundy's principle foe was France with whom it sought to dominate the lowlands, Alsace, Lorraine and Burgundy.  Luckily for France, Burgundy's utter defeat and collapse at the hands of the Swiss left a power vacuum on its borders which it filled with the help of the Holy Roman Empire. 

Historically, the Burgundians should be a match for the French.  Whenever, the English campaigned on the continent they always needed Burgundian men at arms to match the French.  The Burgundians also led Europe in the development of artillery and in the establishment of a combined arms standing army.  

The French emerged victorious from the Hundred Years War through the establishment of heavy artillery that took every English stronghold except Calais.  It was also used effectively on the battlefield mowing down assaults by previously irresistible dismounted men at arms.  The French heavy cavalry remained  the finest in Western Europe and was composed with the cream of French society.  However, the infantry was weak and was some years behind the developments led by Burgundy.

We both struggle to determine each other's real deployment.  My French are on the left and Mark is on the right.

The generally open battlefield benefitted us both but where do we put our main effort?  Mark has put 25 points on each of the hills nearest the viewer.  He was relying on a firm push ahead of his baggage to secure victory.  I had opted for a defensive 25 points on the central steep hill and a further 25 points on the far town.  We had 13 turns to secure a victory but both of us were wary of committing an attack until we knew the others intentions.  We wasted the first six turns trying to spot each other!

My artillery offers only desultory support as my infantry move against the all arms force in the distance.  Off to my far left and beyond the woods my skirmishing bow lure Mark's troops towards me.  However, they are soon wiped out by the first rolled "20" of the day.

At last I felt I had enough information to force the issue.  My main infantry command was anchored on the left flank guarding the town and utilising the difficult ground.  I had attached a Gens d'armes and a retainer unit to this flank to give it some punch.  My two other cavalry commands were behind the steep hill under my CinC and on top of the right flank hill.  Mark had a weak combined arms force opposite the town and I decided to push against it and see whether this would prompt a response.

My CinC (cavalry in the bottom right) charges forward in support of my left flank which is already in combat around the village.  My Gens d'armes have already pushed the Burgundian men at arms back towards the table edge.

Mark still stuck to his wait and see plan.  He moved a little further forward to better engage my left flank and as a result was further away from any support that could be got from his slow central infantry command and his far away left flank cavalry.  My CinC slowly (it took 2 turns!) changed his orders and charged off in support of my infantry in the hope of smashing Mark's right flank and uncovering his centre.  However, they were not needed.  My left flank efficiently overwhelmed their opposite numbers and my CinC was able to change his orders from a position that uncovered the flank of the Burgundian infantry.

The Burgundian artillery has already routed and a unit of Gens d'armes and retainers is munching through  a lone unit of archers.  Mark's CinC is attached to the archers in a vain attempt to shore up this flank.  For fun I have charged the pike block with a spare unit of Gens d'armes - ouch!

We had reached the final two turns of the game by this point.  Mark had skirmished ahead of my right flank in the hope of forcing my elite Gens d'armes off their high ground.  However, this suited me as his remaining army were pinned watching my right flank as my CinC smashed into archers and artillery in the centre uncovering the Burgundian baggage.

Just to see how good the Burgundian pike was I charged into a block of three - I was minced!

The Burgundians are a good army but difficult to wield.  The generals are all D6 which is OK and it has all troop types but not an overwhelming superiority in one particular type.  Mark allowed himself to be picked off in detail without challenging me in the one troop type in which he did have a decided superiority - his pike!  Until I saw an opportunity I was not willing to risk my army against this all round force.

As a result of this game we think this period would be ideal for our first operational game outside of the twentieth century.  Once we have fully developed the ideas we will discuss further.