Modular meadow – Terrain, part IV

May I introduce the modular meadow. First of the system being well… meadow module. Does not look much, just a patch of terrain, but it is very, very, very flexible and relatively large patch – this would be about the mid size.

The idea of modular meadow is twofold.  First, it is very hard to keep long grass standing when terrain map is rolled number of times over. Second, I find it necessary to alter the base map layout at times with larger features that are not incorporated. For example elevation chance more vivid than I get from regular mat.

So, I created overlay module(s) which are thin, can have high grass, pond, or water features, stones, rocky surface, or pretty much any of the specialities that come to mind. Could be fields too, and will come to that probably at some point. Modules – because they are overlays, can of course contain roads, or cover existing roads, fields etc. Intention is to keep the generous enough not to create harsh edges (albeit this model has evil tendency to wrap at the edges still). Their scale is also intended to work for the 10mm scale Sharp Practice.

Further ado, Polish army elements marching past the meadow module:

dsbl-meadow - 1dsbl-meadow - 5dsbl-meadow - 3dsbl-meadow - 4dsbl-meadow - 8dsbl-meadow - 2dsbl-meadow - 7dsbl-meadow - 6

More of them to follow, in different sizes and shapes…

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Posted in 10mm, 7 years war, Drums and Shakos Large Battles, scenarios, Scenery, Sharp Practice II | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Line of Sight

Biggest issue with most games is the command and control, complete ignorance of weather and pointless skirmishers. I cannot say that I like command radius and that is the greatest grievance of DSLB. I do like the unpredictability of the troop activations, and the skirmish system which is abstract, but does represent them quite neatly. I have previously thought about the command structure, but ignored equally important factor: smoke, dust and haze. During black powder era battlefield has a tendency to become rather quickly very hazy affair. Tens of thousands of muskets discharged repeatedly in area encompassing few square kilometers does create very thick hindrance.

So, I thought of following. Battlefield would have a Visibility Condition Level (VCL), which would gradually chance for the worse during the conflict. Smoke, haze and dust all contribute to the overall battlefield VCL. Visibility Condition is set as percentage: Maximum would be 100% and minimum would be 10%. Excellent Condition, and without intervening obstacles, unit, or commander could see 60cm away (about 1km). Reduced to minimum, distance would be 6cm (about 100m).

Weather and Conditions

Base Visibility Condition can be reduced by weather, and reduction can be any amount desired. Rounding to closest 10% would make things easy of course. Weather such as torrential rain, mud fog etc. have other ill effects:

  • Mud reduces move rates by one (L to M, s to VS and so on). Unit can always move minimum move but to doing so and not having sufficient move capacity, unit receives disorder. Example: Unit in line (S move) moves uphill (reduction to VS) in mud (no reduction possible) = Disorder. Unit can only gain 1 disorder this way.
  • Rain reduces visibility and approach dice (drizzle 80% VCL, Torrential 60% VCL and reduce one die from approach, eg. line would have 3 dice instead of 4).
  • Bitter cold reduces Army break point by 1 or 2 depending on severity.

Smoke, haze and dust: During the battle, every discharge of massed infantry, gun batteries, or burning location will contribute to the total amount of hindrance in the battlefield. Each 5 approaches, or gun battery shots (or elements of Grand Battery) will reduce the Visibility Condition Level (VCL) by 10%. Two 10 sided dice could be used to keep track of the battlefield VCL. Example: After 20 approaches, and gun battery shots  VCL would be 60% and units could observe enemies no further than 36 cm away (3L).

Fire: Unit can set Buildup location on fire by spending an action and retreating back from the location with 1 additional disorder. Such location contributes to the VCL by 10% and cannot be entered, or occupied by any unit.

Wind: Fresh breeze can reduce the effect of smoke. In this case, every 10 approaches or gun shots contribute 10% to VCL.

Additionally, messages would have increased chance to become lost.

Effects of line of sight: Unit which cannot see another unit, cannot move to approach distance of the unit until seen but they can probe towards the enemy positions.

Order Keywords

  • Defend – this keyword would mean that units can be set to defend the named position. If position is already occupied at the time when sighted, units stop. Unit cannot approach enemy unless forced out of the position by someone else.
  • Probe –  Maximum of 50% of the brigade strength can move towards enemy positions, but can engage if enemy is seen and has more disorders or are numerically inferior.
  • Advance – Unit(s), up to whole brigade must take control of named position.
  • Reinforce – Unit(s), up to whole brigade must move to reinforce named position.
  • Withdraw – Unit(s), up to whole brigade must conduct withdrawal and not engage any enemy.
  • Regroup at X – units must attempt to regroup in named position.

Note that there are no orders that specify one to attack, or general attack. Subordinates will only accept orders that specify named positions because only covered ground counts. Orders cannot have conditional complexities. Attacking enemy is action that follows when position is contested.

Any thoughts?

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Project Hagelberg – Map

I am now committed and the lead  mountain shall be shrinking after a while.

Challenge with Hagelberg is the area where engagement took place. Assuming that I will stay with the thinking that 12cm equals 210 meters, my mat provides 1,75km x 2,6km stretch of land. There are three possible ways to orient the map around the battleground, but not sure which one to choose. Original situation looked as follows:

hagelberg 1813

Courtesy of Wikipedia

First possible orientation is not entirely satisfactory, albeit it does provide access to both Hagelber, and Klein-Glien, both of importance. Entry points for the Prussian and Russian forces are present, but is lacking on the left, where some of the Prussians were waiting. This is the least favorite.

new hagelberg 1

Second possibility is to take more of the forest, where the Prussian attack was mounted from. Problem is that Klein-Glien will be then almost an off-board objective (which could actually simplify things). Another matter is that the units arriving from Lubnitz would come from off board – which is not necessarily a bad thing either. I do sort of like the layout, since there would be room to maneuver. French could do a fighting withdrawal towards Klein-Glien.new hagelberg 2

Third option is the attempt to include everybody, but may become too crowded.new hagelberg 3

Unlisted option is of course to chance the scale by adding another 500m to the map, but that would not be quite right, would it. 🙂 In any case, the idea would be that for the Prussians to win, they would have to completely control both Hagelberg and Klein-Glien. Should French successfully fight their way to Klein-Glien, they would thwart the Prussian plans. In this the Cossacks would play crucial harassment role.

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Project Hagelberg

Before I move on to Hanau, I have to revisit Battle of Hagelberg, 27 Aug 1813. Not only because it is a small battle, but also because the situation is interesting. Last time there were insufficient forces, including but not limited to complete absence of the Cossacks, and map which was way too small.

This time I am opting to take battalions of 4 stands each, and cavalry of 4 stands, and cover the full battle. Since the painting hiatus have finally ended and I find myself enjoying the decorations of the Napoleonic era, I think a goal needs to be set.

For French, the required manpower would be:

  • 8 Battalions of regular infantry (done)
  • 1 Westphalian Line Battalion (done)
  • 1 Croatian Battalion
  • 2 Saxon Battalions
  • 2 Medium Foot Artillery Batteries (1 done)
  • 1 Hussar Regiment (done)
  • One Regiment of Combined Squadrons (done)

Prussians would have:

  • 1 Regular Line Battalion (done)
  • 4 Reserve Battalions
  • 12 Landwehr Battalions (5 done)
  • 2 Regiments of Landwehr Cavalry (1 done)
  • 2 Cossacs
  • 1 Medium Foot Artillery Battery (done)

This means that, again, reinforcements are needed. If I calculated correctly, I am in need of:

  • 4 Reserve Battalions
  • 7 Landwehr Battalions
  • 1 Landwehr Cavalry
  • 2 Cossacs
  • 3 French Battalions to be painted as Saxons and Croats
  • 1 Medium Artillery Battery
  • 1 Windmill
  • A farm
  • Town that would resemble Hagelburg itself

Considering how quick and easy Reserve Infantry and Landwehr are to paint, this should not take forever. I would probably get about 6 battalion worth  of reservists doubling the Prussians to around 22 battalions.  French and allies, such as Westphalians and Saxons would have a boost of 12 additional battalions.


That said, should the acquisition include potential for Hanau at later occasion, some additional forces would be needed for French, in fact a whole lot of Imperial Guard…

  • 2 Battalions of Imperial Guard light infantry
  • 2 Battalions of Imperial Guard fusiliers
  • 2 Battalions of Imperial Guard Grenadiers
  • 2 Regiments of Grenadier a Cheval
  • 2 Regiments of Cheval de la Garde

And to supplement Austrian cavalry:

  • 4 Regiments of Chevauleger

Considering that, total forces of French would be standing somewhere around 31 battalions (!) and about 12 regiments of horse once all completed. Quite sizable force for DSLB and probably would have to start looking for a another ruleset.

Now it would be a good time to share any experiences of March Attack, or other good rules?

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Scenario – Battle of Hanau

Battle of Hanau was rather small event, and therefore Part of it would be quite suitable for DSLB. Most distinct feature of the battle was that French were significantly outnumbered. Based on the map of the battle, the situation is rather on the interesting side since the Austro-Bavarian forces were practically trapped between river and French.

Battle of Hanau

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

I thought of cutting the playing area somewhat and concentrate only on the initial clashes that did not involve the troops south of the river Kinsig.

Hanau-dslb

If considering the forces who were fighting on the same side of the river, and first encountered, they would have been around 6000 men of Guard opposing the Bavarians under Lamotte. French forces would mean practically about 10 battalions max – considering the depletion of manpower.

CinC: Napoleon Q2 (Breakpoint >= 11)

  • 2nd Old Guard division Q3 (DIS > 10): Philibert Jean-Baptiste Curial
    • 2 Fussiliers Q3 C4 Elan
    • 2 Grenadiers Q3 C5 Elan
    • 2 Light Infantry Q4 C4 Light Elan
  • Guard Artillery Q3: Charles-François Dulauloy
    • Foot artillery: 3 Batteries of Medium Artillery Q4 C4
    • Horse artillery: 1 Battery Q3 C4

Cavalry was even more depleted and if we say that every regiment (basic unit in the DSLB for cavalry) has around 4 squadrons, we see that French could muster around 55 squadrons, and that would mean roughly 12, but probably 10 regiments considering that majority of the forces were already depleted.

Against these would be Austro-Bavarian Elements:

CinC: Werde Q4 (Breakpoint 5)

  • 3rd division Q4: Lamotte (Disorder DIS > 10)
    • Brigadier: Von der Stockh:
      • 3 Battalions Q4 C5 Strong
    • Brigadier: Deroy
      • 5 Battalions Q4 C5 Strong
    • Brigadier: Wagener
      • 1 Horse Battery Q3 C3
      • 1 Light Artillery Battery Q4 C3
  • Reserve
    • Brigadier: Bieregg
      • DSLB Terms: 3  Cheavau-legers Q4 C4
    • Brigadier: Ellbracht
      •  DSLB Terms: 3  Cheavau-legers Q4 C4
    • Brigadier: Dietz
      • DSLB Terms: 1  Cheavau-legers Q4 C4
  • Artillery Reserve:
    • Brigadier: Cologne
      • Horse Battery Q3 C3
      • 1 Light Artillery Battery Q4 C3
      • 1 Medium Artillery Battery Q4 C4

Victory conditions are a bit troublesome because of the Austro-Bavarian position, which is not tenable. Only conceivably condition would be fighting withdrawal over the swollen river behind the Austrian back.  In real history attempt to cross the Lamboi bridge to reinforce troubled centre failed and caused yet additional losses until Austrians indeed withdrew into Hanau, and later entirely.

So, No help coming across the Lamboi bridge then. Hence, if Austrians can withdraw and cause more losses than they take, they do win the day. If French can eliminate the entire Austrian force and/or pin them against the riverbank, and/or block the path (two battalions of infantry and two regiments of cavalry must exit before Austrians from the road leading to the Lamboi bridge (French left map edge)) of retreat towards Lamboi bridge, they win decisively.

If Austrians can stop the French entirely, and cause French to break, they win decisively.

Special Rules

  • If Austrians reach the broken state, they must keep retreating at least 1S towards the river regardless of orders. Failure to do so, and if French cavalry is within 1M, the battalion will rout backwards, causing disorder on their path (routing unit removed from play).
  • Use of Reserve increases breakpoint as normal. Only one element can be added per CinC activation.
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Acquisition – Terrain, part III

Now, it is time to tackle the issue of trees and forests. Finally. Just like a proper cylon, I think I have a plan now. Basic ingredients are: Sea Foam, clump foliage + various other scatters for canopies, and Sea Foam for individual, but delicate trees.

  • Step 1. Individual trees
  • Step 2. Individual trees surrounding the canopy mass
  • Step 3. Canopies
  • Step 4. Storage solution for the trees and canopies

Well, I did think for a long time how to make realistic trees, and on that topic, forests. Have tried few different ways, and none of them have been entirely satisfactory. I have known about Sea Foam for years, but always thought that it is a tad bit too brittle to be used in tabletop.

Enter rubber paint – and fixative. Not sure at this stage if it works, but I have to try.

Do not take it wrong, trees made this way are delicate indeed, but their looks far exceed the somewhat delicate characteristics. I do not yet know how to do canopies, but it occurred to me that it should be possible, and in fact, should make quite nice looking ones.

In any case, first trial trees are out. Here are the preliminaries in two scales, one for the 10mm 7 Years War tabletop Wilderness fights of Sharp Practice, whenever I get that one done. I think that they are about right scale, but could add some larger ones too. This would be about the maximum for 6mm scale I think.

Seafoam trees - 2Seafoam trees - 1Seafoam trees - 3

And then some 6mm eye candy…

Seafoam trees - 6Seafoam trees - 7Seafoam trees - 8Seafoam trees - 13Seafoam trees - 11Seafoam trees - 5Seafoam trees - 4Seafoam trees - 14Seafoam trees - 12Seafoam trees - 10Seafoam trees - 15Seafoam trees - 9

Now, much, much more is needed – and a storage solution for the whole as well…

Posted in 10mm, 7 years war, Drums and Shakos Large Battles, Painting, Scenery, Scratch built, Sharp Practice II | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

X-wing, The Hunt of the Decimator

There was another game of X-wing, and this time we tried to build squadrons with 200 points. On the other side, there was two A-wings armed with missiles, two B-wings and one Y-wing. Most were PS8, so we thought that we’d have the initiative (I wanted to take Hawk with Roarke to give some fire options but was walked over – second time actually now). Well, that was wrong – we didn’t. On the opposing side there was Inquisitor’s Tie, Decimator (with Palpatine, Isaard, Ruthlesness and whatnot), Tie Defender, Tie Bomber and Tie Interceptor.

Initially I took steps to make sure that the A-wings I controlled were doing their duty and planted some really good missile hits on the Decimator (4 and 3 hits, including some criticals). Of course, that was nothing really, considering the 17 health. I even managed to get two blinded pilot criticals in single turn later with A-wing regular shots. And those are about the worst the damage deck has. And what effect did that have? None, no effect – none whatsoever. Three ships were pouring fire on the thing – B-wing and two A-wings and could just not get it killed. Curiously, it was about twice the point cost shooting it constantly and continuously.


Now, for sake of consideration, Tantive, and in more or less same extend the Raider are vastly larger and better equipped ships than Decimator. How long does it take to kill one of those? One turn, if that. Critical damage decks are apparently reversed and the more severe one should be for the smaller craft and less severe to the big ones. Is there perhaps a scale problem here? Maybe? Anyone? 


Then, when Decimator was finally killed, it was about turn 10 or so, pretty much after it killed everyone else first. B-wing and two A-wings. Y-wing died, well because of the Inquisitors Tie, as did the second B-wing. Defender did not do much else but kept on bumping into asteroids but failed to kill itself.

 

I’ve heard that forget the Decimator and engage everyone else first etc. Except you still won’t be winning unless you kill the bloody Decimator – and I’ve tried few times with ships that had already taken some hits. Nope, not gonna work. Come together at same time? Yep, Ruthless makes a lot of automatic damage with expected survival time of 10+ rounds. Leave alive and Palpatine is going to pull around 10 critical hits out of his cape.


Here comes the competitive argument. You should not play over 100 points because it is not the tournament size. Yes. I know that more points mean that Decimator, and ships like it can be equipped to the optimum, and there is still enough for very good support. This is not so easy if limit is 100pts. Here lies the other huge problem. Tournament play. It just sucks fun out of everything due to design choices. When designer is really lazy and unimaginative, he or she will opt for Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament setting.


Of course one can say that yes, you did not have this, or that, or whatever to counter Decimator and suchlike but that is beyond the point. X-Wing has now reached a point where it is factually Rock-Paper-Scissors. Nothing more. Apparent hereditary traits from MTG?

Rock-Paper-Scissors is not fun. It is not interesting, nor engaging. Rock-Paper-Siccors that takes, well better part of 6 hours is, well… imagine that. X-wing stopped being fast game long ago. Now it is 4 hours of pointless optimization for every 1/2 hour of playtime. Not particularly good ratio there. On that token, it is not even particularly fast to play anymore. Constant referrals to rules, glutter and ever expanding errata is nowadays the thing.

What comes to Decimator (and others like it), where is fun in that? Go on straight line and just kill everyone within range 3. What’s the point? Really? I think there is some way to use the ships I have (with, or without cards to print out) to create sort of hit-avoiding-stall-stress-&-ionize-squadron which will be blatantly dull to play, but would be equal to the Decimator boredom… Something that cannot be hurt much, and that takes eons to kill.

Any suggestions? 😀

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