Friday, May 28, 2010

Great Game last night

At the weekly ODMS meeting, the chief of staff for Gaming with Chuck played a great game of Shako II last night with Wayne, vs. Kai and John Callahan.

The rules went a whole lot slower than in other recent games, but it was fun nevertheless.

The forces were:

Wayne & Chuck - three Allied Divisions (Prussians and Russians)
Kai & John - three French and Italian divisions

A meeting engagement in an open field (somewhat boring, but a good way to learn the basic rules).

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On the Bookshelf at the Moment

I realize that it has been out for a while, but I recently bought the newish (June/2009) Osprey hardback on Armies of the Napoleonic Wars. This is a fantastic volume, with information about all of the major players, and many of the minor players in the Napoleonic wars. It rivals some of my other old stand-bys for Napoleonic uniform information (I really enjoy the Otto von Pivka volume, and my Knotel and Ball).

Ordered, but not yet arrived, is a copy of the Digby Smith Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars. This one looks pretty good (I have flipped through copies at the library and bookstores). The depth of unit-by-unit details don't appear to be there, but I may have missed something. The color illos are nice, however.

Finally, off the Napoleonic bandwagon, I have also been enjoying the recently arrived copy of Vanished Armies, and also a recent Hoyle-like volume on card games by David Parlett.

Been trying to keep up with all of this...but my normal reading for school and research trumps the fun stuff. For Christmas a few months ago I received the two DK volumes Battle and Warrior from Anita and Heidi. They are the most phenomenal stuff, but I'll post on them later.


Balkanian Jitters

Excitement grows at "Gaming with Chuck" in anticipation of the Wargames Factory figures for War of the Spanish Succession being released. Of course, that is not what the staff of GwC are planning on using them for. Actually, a small war (The War of the Pumpkin-King Succession) between two Balkanian states is planned for these figures, although the uniforms of Poppenheim and Bombastia (curiously) mimic the uniforms of the Swedish and Russians during the Great Northern War.

A great set of photos from a wargame of that OTHER conflict (GNW) is located at this Ilkley Lads associated website. Very nice 28mm figures, some in game shots, and some in (apparently) posed shots. All very nice. I like the paint jobs on the figures, and the basing is interesting.

A much later matchup between the Swedes and the Russians was in 1808-1809. There is a terrific website that details much about that war (with a lot of good resources). The pictures of the lovely Poppenheim and Bombastia female troopers in this posting come from that website (where they were Erroneously identified as Swedish and Russian troopers).

It came to me this morning in a flash. If I am planning on doing 24 figure battalions for the Balkanian conflict, then I can certainly do 36 figure battalions. That would amount to something like 24 Musketeers (including officers, etc), on four stands. Plus a stand of 6 Pikemen (actually the officers, etc, could be on this stand), and a stand of 6 Grenadiers (that could be peeled off for converging). All on stands 60mm wide by 40mm deep. Ooh. Shiny.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Prepare for Basing

A batch of 1813 Prussians (enough, in fact, to do the Shako II 1813-1814 Prussian Standard Army referenced here) are assembled for Basing by the staff of Gaming with Chuck.

Bases to be used will be from Gale Force Nine. See the white chinese food container.

This is in preparation for the Shako II game being hosted at the Hangar (ODMS) in June. The game will be held on June 19, at 10:00am, and the scenario is called "Crossing the Hoffhandel". It is based on a mixed alliance on both sides (Prussian/British vs. Italian/French).

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Standard Army Sizes

I suspect that this is something that arose, over the years, first amongst figure resellers (who tried to come up with "standard" boxed armies based on published army lists), and then among rules writers to provide standard armies for systems that did not have points values (I am thinking of Tactica, etc).

Recently, I started organizing my 15mm Napoleonics for Shako II. 99% of the games played in ODMS using Shako are scenario driven (some referee picks a scenario and sets the forces and terms of deployment and victory conditions, ignoring the standard army lists and tournament rules etc). This is the way I usually like to play wargames. However, I am using the army lists as a helpful rubric (like that?) for deciding how "large" my forces should be. You know, so I don't try to build the whole invasion Leipzig campaign, man for man, in miniature.

My observation is this - those are pretty large armies. For instance, the Prussians (1813-1814 variety) have an army that looks like this:

10x Battalions of Line Infantry
10x Battalions of Landwehr Infantry
5x Battalions of Jaegers/Fusiliers
2x Battalions of Grenadiers/Guards
1x Regiment of Cuirrasier
2x Regiments of Dragoons
1x Regiment of Landwehr Cavalry or Lancers
1x Large Gun Battery
1x Medium Gun Battery
2x demi-Battalions of Skirmishers

That is with 12 figure battalions, and 6 figure regiments. The size of units is flexible, and a battalion could be (reasonably) as few as 6 or as many as 24. Most that I know of are doing between 12 and 16.

Anyway - does that seem kind of large? Almost all of the standard armies in that ruleset are approx 30 units (more or less - the Prussians are more, the British are less, etc), plus artillery and skirmishers.

I know that rulesets like DBA do it smaller, and that Tactica armies could range quite large. But this seems big for a "standard" army.

Please comment below ?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rules for AWI wargames

The rules used by ODMS during our recent Community Day presentation of American War of Independence (AWI) wargaming were written by the staff of Gaming with Chuck, based heavily on the Napoleonic Warfare rules, presented in Neil Thomas' book, Wargaming: An Introduction.

The rules use the same basic unit sizes (4 stands for infantry and cavalry, 1 stand for artillery), but represent some of the differences for AWI (different unit types, and two very basic army lists, for instance).

They are presented (at the right) here on Gaming with Chuck for your enjoyment. Please, if you like these, continue on to buy the real thing from Neil Thomas - all of his wargaming books so far are spot-on!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Principality of Bombastia

In the tradition of a long line of articles about Balkania, Gaming with Chuck now presents information about the early 18th century army of the Principality of Bombastia.

Bombastia is a petty state, found within the Simian province of Furstenberg. It is populated mainly by Ethnic Urbs, who are almost all uniformly gourd farmers. While the economy of the region was never a glowing powerhouse, during the early and middle part of the 17th century, the Urbs of Bombastia fared pretty well. Then the pumpkins stopped coming quite as early, nor blooming quite as big. By the end of the century, almost half of all the Urb farms in the region were doing very bad. Because of this, manpower willing to serve in the army of Prince Peter of Bombastia grew and grew. Finally when the Crisis of the Pumpkin-King Throne of 1696 precipitated the War of the Pumpkin-King Succession against the Duchy of Poppenheim, the army of Prince Peter was quite sizable and ready for the conflict.

The progression of the war saw the Bombastik infantry progress from regiments featuring central companies of pikemen, surrounded by musketeers, to all-musketeer units. While Grenadier companies were converged together to form grenadier "regiments", there were also some standing regiments of Grenadiers in the army. In fact, this is in sharp contrast to the strictures of the Edict of Boomplatz. The Prince often explains away his violation of the Edict by claiming that the armies of the Principality are not proper armies of greater Furstenberg, but the droits of nobility, due to him as a peer of the margravate. Curiously, the Prince's foe, the Duke of Poppenheim, does not even bother to explain away why he has Grenadier companies within his armies - also strictly against the codes found within the Edict.

The cavalry of Bombastia consists of dragoons and armored cavalry, but also of units of Cossacks from two main Urbik tribal areas within Simia. The Dukon Cossacks and the Arzov Cossacks both have feudal agreements with Bombastia, and the Prince's family.

The artillery of Bombastia differs from Poppenheim chiefly in the employ of small 3-pounder regimental guns, attached to an infantry regiment, nicknamed "pot guns". The nickname comes from the fact that the original Pot Guns were crafted, during the heyday reign of Ivan Badinov during the 30 years war. During that time, the last of the Patchouli people were rounded up in Eastern Simia, and forced to give up all of their metal and metal objects. This was first intended to disarm the Patchouli people, but it had the unfortunate effect of rendering them Pot-less. The captured Patchouli Pots were subsequently melted down and poured as small cannon for the Badinov's army. These pot guns were passed down from regimental commander to commander, until today they are still part of the regiments (which have a history going back at least fifty years to the 30 years war, and some much farther back).

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grand Duchy of Poppenheim

In the grand tradition of Emperor vs. Elector, Gaming with Chuck presents the Grand Duchy of Poppenheim, a petty state of the Furstenberger province of Simia - located smack dab in the middle of Balkania.

The ruler of Poppenheim during the War of the Pumpkin-King Succession was Grand Duke Charles. He comes from a long line of gourd farmers in the Poppen line. His ambitions were to expand pumpkin patronage to not only the middle class, but also to the growing ranks of gourd-artists among his citizenry. During the Pumpkin-King crisis of 1696, he came into dispute (over the throne of the Pumpkin-King) with Prince Peter of Bombastia, which quickly resulted in armed conflict.

The three branches of the Poppenheim army were the Infantry, the Cavalry and the Artillery (not uncommon for European armies of the time, such as that of Sweden). In the field, such an army was often divided up into three "battles", corresponding to a central division, and two wing divisions. Within these, cavalry was not infrequently mixed with infantry, and it is a mistake to consider these divisions as the separate and flexible organizations found later in Napoleonic era armies.

The infantry of Poppenheim was organized into Regiments, which consisted of a number of companies of Musketeers, as well as a company of Grenadiers. The Grenadiers from a number of regiments would sometimes be converged together into a "converged regiment". Each of the Royal Duchy regiments were named for the town from which they were mustered. A number of nobles, supportive of the Duke, also raised independent regiments that were known by the name of their patron Nobleman.

The cavalry are also organized into Regiments, with a number of different types. Armored cavalry as well as dragoons are popular (the dragoons still fighting dismounted as often as mounted). Light, irregular cavalry were sometimes hired from the Carfathian mountains to the west, being usually tribal Bosniaks.

The artillery of the Poppenheim army is a strange creation. The individual guns are owned by skilled "artisan" artillery crewmen, and serve the Duke and his army at their own will (and for money). Because of this, artillery is somewhat unreliable, especially strategically. While a gun and crew may show up on a battle, in support of the army, there is no guarantee that it will follow the army on the march to the next engagement.

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Enlightened Imaginations - Early 18th Century Balkania

A few friends of mine and I share in some Imagi-Nation wargaming activities concerning an imaginary region of the world known as Balkania. In the words of Eric the Wise (one of the original crafters of the concept of Balkania),
Welcome to Balkania! It is a fictitious land of petty princes and minor monarchs, located East of Venice, South of Vienna, West of Istanbul, and North of the Nile.

A good bit of the emphasis has been on late 19th century (roughly from about 1850-1915) period. Look for games, coming up at the Guns of August. Some of my own writings on the topic can be seen here. Notably, I have developed the imagi-nation of the Margravate of Furstenberg, and their centuries old foe, the Earldom of Rumpwhistle (later, after the revolution, the Confederated Cantons of Rumpwhistle). This has been accompanied with histories and military unit information, as well as some wargaming plans. The island of San Balkano was devised to serve as the backdrop for fictional Spanish-American War gaming. More coming about these fictional nations. Other states, created by my co-conspirators, include Trans-Turkylvania, the Kingdom of the Three Sicilies, The Empire of Vulgaria, Kingdome of Payepal, and others.

However, inspired by a desire to do some 18th century wargaming (Age of Enlightenment), as well as all of the inspiring 18th century Imagi-Nation work done on the internet (the activity is not limited to, but is broadly connected to the website Emperor vs. Elector), the editorial staff of Gaming with Chuck has decided to venture into the early 18th Century of Balkania.

Taking the nation of Furstenberg as my starting point, I wanted to come up with a couple of minor states that could serve for Marlborough-era wargaming, using fairly generic armies. This then morphed into developing some Great Northern War armies, but using them to represent my fictional principalities. This is leading to the conflict known alternately as the "Great Northern Furstenberg War", or the "War of the Pumpkin-King Succession".The gently rolling farmland and pasture country of the Simian plains of northern Furstenberg (later to become the agricultural province of Simia) was home to two petty principalities. Those were the Grand Duchy of Poppenheim, and the Principality of Bombastia. These self-styled petty kingdoms were really based around the medieval castles of some local barons, and their dependent villages and market-towns. However, one thing led to another, and in 1696, when the annual Pumpkin Faire was held at the Church of St. Gourdfellow, the judges of the annual Pumpkin-King contest were all found poisoned. The clergyman present, Father Squashnot of the Holy See of Balkania (later the kingdom of Payepal) declared the office of Pumpkin-King to be unclaimed, and the throne vacant. The two competing nobles, Duke Charles of Poppenheim and Prince Peter of Bombastia each claimed the throne, and the gauntlets were thrown. It could only end in war.

The blue uniforms of Poppenheim bear a passing resemblance to the uniforms of the Swedish Army in the Great Northern War.It has been mentioned that the green uniforms of Bombastia can sometimes be compared favorably to the uniforms of the Russian Army from the same conflict. It is not the place of the editorial staff of "Gaming with Chuck" to decide.Anyway, watch for further posting on this project, and also to watch painting progress. The staff will probably wait for the release of the new WSS (War of the Spanish Succession) figures from Wargames Factory before starting this project, but who knows?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spanish American War AAR - May 6

A recent ODMS game that I presented on May 6 was a pretty good success. There were six players, three to a side, commanding a Division of Spanish (4 brigades) vs. a Division of US (4 brigades).The Spanish held a hill - La Colina Verde - which is central in the hills south of Puerto Gris (the capital of San Balkano). The US force, approaching from the South, come up all south east of the Azzuro river, which cuts through the hills. The Spanish force was located in the hills, and the central hill had a walled town on it, which was defended by a brigade of Spanish.The Spanish troops had been on the island for years, fighting against Insurrectos, so were quite experienced in jungle fighting, and using the cover of the island to their best advantage. Because of this, they gained an advantage when firing from under cover in the jungle.The rules used were a simplified version of "A Splendid Little War" - a version of my age of rifles wargaming rules also used for RJW and other gaming.The US approached, as expected, heavily in the center and a little bit on the eastern flank. There, on the East, they got held up by battalions of Spanish Foreign Legion in the jungle for a few turns, before moving past them. On the west, they moved up along the Azzuro river, and met a few units of Spanish Naval Infantry that tied up that brigade.In the center, the two brigades assaulting the hill were peppered by Spanish artillery (German guns, of course), but eventually made it to the hills and fought over the defenses. The Spanish, once fighting inside the towns, were bested by the US troops.

A good game.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

War is Declared! - Spanish American War

Over at the ODMS website, here, and here there are articles about an upcoming Spanish American War game.

This game features the rules I wrote (borrowing heavily from influences such as the Brom Standard rules, as well as the Jackson Gamers RCW rules) for both RJW and RCW, but modified for the Spanish American War.

I borrowed the Brom mechanism of activating brigades (each about 3-6 units) by card flip. Each side also has a "bonus" card in the deck, which allows for a bonus move by one brigade.

The main changes to the rules include changes to reflect the Spanish smokeless gunpowder - while they are under cover in jungle/forest, they can fire out but can not be fired at. Also, I disassociated the morale level of a unit from it's size. It is now possible to have different sized units, and big units with low morale, and small units with high morale. I'll report back after some playtesting how this goes, and it may make its way into the RCW rules.



Monday, May 3, 2010

Monopoly Cards for Fun

Okay, okay. Like most of the rest of the gaming hobby world, I too think that Monopoly is a stinker, and gives boardgaming a bad name.

However, over at dribbleglass, there is a website - Monopoly Cards We'd Like To See

Check it out. You won't regret it. The humor is a bit, er, tarnished - but still funny.