Saturday 24 September 2011


John and Rob came up last week to play another SYW game using Black Powder and the Last Arguement of Kings supplement. I thought I'd experiment slightly with size and set up a scenario that used quite large armies. The scenario had the Russians being attacked from the rear after the Prussians had carried out a flanking/encircling march. The forces engaged involved 11 batallions of Russian infantry in 3 brigades, 5 guns, and 2 brigades of cavalry, in total 1 regt each of horse grenadiers, hussars, cossacks and 2 regts of cuirassiers. One infantry brigade and the cuirassiers/horse grenadiers were off table and would enter at some random point during the game. The attacking Prussians had 7 btns of infantry in 2 brigades, a small unit of jager, 1 rgt each of hussars, friekorps lancers, and dragoons and a brigade of 3 cuirassier regts. The cuirassiers would also enter the game later in the game, hopefully.

Rob took the Russians and John and I shared the Prussians. We got off to a mixed start as John's brigade made slow progress whilst mine was able to enter the table, deploy and then advance into point blank range of the Russians. As I had the Guard and grenadiers in my brigade, I took a (big) chance in the hope that I would survive their first fire, (we were using the LAOK ammendment that doesn't allow you to fire if the unit makes more than one move in a turn) and sacrificed my jager to ensure that I wasn't enfiladed, but my dragoons failed to charge the Russian hussars who in turn charged them actually beat them. I passed my break test but the dragoons still had to retire shaken and disordered. My hussars did better and eventually managed to break the Russian hussars.

On the right John was making slow progress still in getting to grips with the Russians, who had advanced their line to try and envelope the Prussian advance. John's regiments were taking casualties and not giving much back in return apart from driving off the cossacks. Rob's line was holding at all points and my grenadiers were in danger of being taken in the flank by Russian artillery and a dismounted dragoon regiment until one of his battalions blundered and charged my line. Closing fire and the ensuing melee saw them off but the saving grace from my point of view was that while this was going on the flanking artillery and dragoons couldn't fire on me.....phew! To cut a long story short, despite some crap dice throwing on my part and some very stubborn/valiant Russian infantry who took considerable damage, the brigade on Rob's right (i.e. facing me) eventually broke. However, it was very close and right up to the start of my move 5 thought that my forces were going to falter as I was taking a great deal of damage, was disordered and still in danger of being flanked.

On the Russian left, the cuirassiers and horse grenadiers made a timely appearence, and as there was no sign of their Prussian counterparts, John's attack was in some danger of stalling due to disorder, casualties and sight of three regiments of nasty Russian cavalry thundering towards them. Thankfully the latter never happened as Rob was throwing some dreadful command dice and couldn't get moving. His commanders were all pretty average (7) with only one being an 8. Move 6 saw the Prussian cuirassiers and Rob's last Russian infantry brigade enter the table. The cuirassiers failed their first command role so didn't actually appear until the following move, and then only one regiment made it! Rob then launched his horse grenadiers in a 54" charge (death ride more like!) across the front of John's brigade in order to try and engage and drive off the battered remains of my cavalry. They took flanking fire from infantry and artillery fire from the front and the rear and were disordered and therefore pinned out in the open for all to shoot at. Meanwhile John's infantry had continued to pressurise the Russians to their front breaking one unit. When the dismounted dragoons also broke this meant that three Russian brigades out of five had broken so end of game.

Verdict? I think it went quite well. The troop characteristics meant that the Prussians were quite manoeuverable and could survive some tricky situations, but still died as quickly as the next man. They are certainly not supermen or a super army, but the characteristics reflect what they achieved in the real SYW, even when they lost, as they did about half the time! Similarly the Russians were very hard to break due to their toughness, but suffered from some poor commanders, and as I didn't give them the platoon fire rule it meant they were outclassed in firefights (in theory only most of the time). Last time this combination made for a very close game. This time it was still close right up to the end and I was convinced it was all over for the Prussian by turn 5, but the dice just didn't fall right for Rob. We played 8 moves and were finished in just over 2 hours which is just what I need in a thursday (or any) evening game, i.e. a large game fought to a conclusion.

Friday 12 August 2011


After a long break due to holidays, domestic unheavals, the builders and a new puppy I finally managed to get a game organised. I decided to try out the Last Arguement of Kings Black Powder supplement using my 28mm SYW Prussian and Russian forces. I started building the Prussian army in response to Rob's desire to start an 'old school' army a few years ago, and somehow a 'few' battalions turned into 12 36-man units of infantry, assorted Jager and Freikorps foot, 3 x 30-man regiments of Cuirassier (and another of 18), 1 x 24 man dragoon regiment and 1 of 12, and 2 Hussars regiments (1 of 36, the other 24 figures). Oh, and some Bosniak Lancers and Freikorps cavalry. The figures are almost all RSM, with some Minden and a very few Foundry. Then, I was at some show or other and Dave Thomas was selling off packs of Foundry Seven Years War Russians at 5 quid a go. All of a sudden I had the start of my Russians, filled out thanks to the odd Foundry sale to the point where I have 14 36-man battalions of infantry, dismounted dragoons, some Pandours, 2 regiments of cuirassiers and a regiment each of horse grenadiers and hussars(24 each) plus a small (12) unit of dragoons. Lots of guns too :o)

So, getting back to this report, John came up last night and we tried out the rules. The Russians were holding a river crossing and a town to its rear which they were in the process of looting. (Even though it looks like a Russian town!). They were deployed in three lines. Lighter troops over the Prussian side of the river with a second line just outside the town bolstered by a battery of heavy guns dug in behind earthworks. To the rear of the town was the reserve infantry brigade of elite grenadiers, a heavy gun battery and a cavalry brigade of cuirassiers and horse grenadiers. The Russian commanders were pretty poor - only the second line brigadier was an 8, and the C-in-C was a 7 (the other two were 6's) but I made the infantrry pretty tough. we used the characteristics and suggested rule ammendments in LAOK that were appropriate.

The Prussians had a brigade of guard/grenadiers who I gave all the modifiers suggested in LAOK and another brigade of normal line infantry. They were supported by a panzer, cuirassier brigade with a couple of guns and some hussars added in for the hell of it. The Prussians had to march onto the table, and the game was played lengthways down my 6' x 10' setup.

John took the Prussians and began his advance. Immediately his guards blundered and headed off at an angle exposing their flank to the Russians. Sadly only Cossacks were anywhere near and they refused to budge, of course. With the all the Prussians on the table I charged my Serbski Hussars at the Prussian von Reusch Hussars, who countercharged and defeated the Russians thanks to some rubbish dice throws (what else?). They pursued, hit them again and broke them. Not a good start! Meanwhile the rest of the Prussians were advancing methodically towards the Pandours holding the river crossing and sniping at the cossacks who still refused to move. One Pandour unit broke so the remnants of the advance brigade were forced to retire (much to the relief of the cossacks!).

On the Prussian right there began an almighty cavalry battle that lasted the whole game with much too'ing and fro'ing, and the advantage swinging from one side to the other. In the end, although the Prussian Hussars fled the field, one of the Russian cuirassier regiments was also destroyed and the other shaken.

Prussian infantry was now pouring across the river. One regiment bravely/foolishly elected to charge the guns. They almost made it but were shot away and recoiled before breaking the follwing move after taking more artillery fire. A firefight (of sorts) erupted along the whole line, and Prussians just about had the better of it despite some poor shooting from John. I had made the Russian infantry stubborn and valiant which meant that whilst they were crap at firing in comparison to their opponents they were difficult to budge. Did them no good in the end though! I did manage to halt the Prussian Garde for a couple of moves but in the end the Prussian cuirassiers began to roll up my left flank. My reserve grenadier brigade was very slow off the mark as I kept faling my command rolls but we did get moving in the last move. Too late though!

Both sides had taken quite a battering. I thing if either side had lost another unit it would have tipped the balance as my first infantry brigade and John's line brigade were taking severe losses. Under BP if your brigade looses half its units it has to withdraw. If half your brigades go, so does your entire army. It was that close for both of us. Superior Prussian firepower and drill was nicely balanced by the toughness of the Russian infantry. When we stopped the game it was clear that we had fought each other to a bloody draw, which seems about right given the historical outcome of most Russian vs Prussian SYW battles.

Verdict - the ammendments worked well as did the 'national characteristics'. Even the best Prussians die as quickly as the rest of toy soldier humanity so John had to be careful not to squander his good units. We particularly liked the rule ammendment that you can't fire if you move more than once as it kept us both in check and added to the period 'feel.' Most importantly, we fought a pretty large game to conclusion in an evening, it was FUN, and it was tense throughout and uncertain as to who might win right to the end. It was also great to get my SYW armies on the table after such a long break, as was the excuse to put my new windmill on!

Sunday 19 June 2011


After several years of um'ing and ar'ing I have finally put my Warhammer Kislev army up for sale on ebay. It took ages to put together by trawling ebay. Don't know if it'll go but its free listing weekend so nothing lost. Might even put my Empire stuff up for sale next time but we shall see. Not really into GW stuff these days and with what they cost I doubt I shall be smitten again this side of winning the euromillions lottery!

Tuesday 14 June 2011


Well, if there was one word I could use to describe this evening's refight of Camden it'd be 'quick'. That said, it was actually a very fast moving and tense game. Not a walkover for the British by any means but a hard won victory, thanks to some extreme dice throwing! Rob played the British while John took the two Maryland Continental brigades and I had the Militia. The battle kicked off with the British right advancing quickly to within 12" of the Virginia militia on the Rebel left. However, on their left, the Loyalist brigade under Lord Rawdon failed their command role and stood still. The NC Volunteers on the extreme British left actually withdrew a move (why Rob?). The reserve infantry under Tarleton also stayed put although the British Legion cavalry did advance. In the exchange of fire the Rebels took some heavy losses and two wavering regiments failed their break test and routed, leaving a couple of large holes in the line. The Rebel first move saw the militia on the left advance to within short range of the Light infantry battalion and the 23rd Foot. (It seemed like a good idea at the time). Both British units became disordered and this was the furthest the British regular brigade would get until the very close of the battle as they were held up, disordered and ocassionally shaken by some very good shooting and some unfortunate saving rolls. Meanwhile the Continentals under John had moved forward, partly to save the militia in the cnetre from taking a pounding (they were also wavering and would have to take a break test after taking 1 casualty), and the Virginia State Horse tried to plug the gap in the line left by a routing militia unit.

This move was just in time as the Rob sent the British Legion into the gap, the Virigia Horse countercharged and by some miricle actually won the melee and sent the Legion packing! I even managed to get Armand's Legion cavalry to move, and they slipped past the extreme right of the British line in an attempt to cause some mischief in the rear. Of course, with a command value of 6 and being wavering and unreliable to boot that just wasn't going to happen!

The game continued for another couple of moves, with the British left advancing at last against the Marylanders, while the reserve under Tarleton finally got moving and the two small'ish battalions of the 71st foot move close in to the Rebel centre. Both took heavy casualties and became disordered, and I think the one in the centre did become shaken after taking close range fire from the front and being enfiladed on the left flank. I can't really remember as at this point my militia units were taking losses and having to take break tests, which they survived - for a liilte while.

The battle came to an end when the British Legion infantry charged the (shaken) Delaware battalion and routed them in the melee. Both supporting Continental units also failed their break test. At the same time I failed to save my militia and two more units ran away. This mean that the centre and right of the Rebel line was now in full withdrawal, leaving the remnants of the Virginia militia and a small Continental brigade to try and hold the line. This they clearly would never be able to do so a little over an hour and a half after battle commenced the Rebels conceded defeat.

The British had won, but it was much closer than the final outcome might suggest. The regulars on the British right became bogged down and it was all Rob could do to keep them in the fight as they spent much of the game in a state of disorder due to some lucky throws from yours truly! On the British left, the Loyalists did well to overcome the Continental brigade, and when that happended it was all over! The general concensus was that the game was enjoyable, tense and that the rules yet again worked quite well. What did work was the classification of the really bad militia who proved quite capable of blunting the British advance as long as they didn't get shot at. They did get shot at of course, with predictable results. Likewise, the three rebular British battalions took quite a hammering but managed to remain intact (albeit immobile after turn 1) throughout the whole game.


Well, with a bit of luck and a fair wind we shall be refighting the battle of Camden this evening. Rob and John are making the trek up the Dale to thrash this out using Black Powder. I've been messing around (in a very systematic way) with the troop characteristics to get the right 'feel' for the period and indeed individual battles, and to ensure that (a) the British regulars are tough enough tohave a chance of doing what they achieved in real life, and (b), the Rebel militia are as bad as they often were . With the latter its quite easy as you can make them wavering and/or unreliable and even reduce their melee dice. That, coupled with a numpty brigadier or two should do the trick. The British regulars are another matter entirely. Even giving them stuff like first fire, crack and stubborn hasn't been quite enough in previous games. I want to reflect their 'presence' on the battlefield in another way, so this evening they will be classed as large units with terrifying charge against militia. That way, they still die or get disordered as quickly as anyone else but they can take and give a little more punishment on the battlefield. I will rate their commanders higher than the rebels too - Cornwallis may even be a 10 (although not the same scale as applied to Bo Derrick!!!). I've set the terrain out (rather flat and plain but hey!) and deployed the troops in their historical dispositions so ready to go. Kick off is at 18:45 so just time to make something for dinner and find an excuse for a chilled glass of Chablis ;o)

I shall provide an AAR later.

Wednesday 18 May 2011


Having finally finished my British Legion infantry I decided to refight Cowpens. John came up this evening and we had a very enjoyable couple of hours. John was the British and I took command of the Rebels/Patriots (delete as applicable). We used Black Powder and it was quite easy to customise the armies using the special characterisitics contained in the rules. The Patriot militia was rated a wavering and/or unreliable but the Continentals were obviously much better. The British regulars (not the 7th though) got first fire, crack, steady and ferocious charge. The 7th were made up recruits apparently so were not quite as sharpe as their chums in the Light Btn or the 71st. John's biggest problem was likely to be the fact that he had only a single commander (Tarleton), and while he had a command rating of 9 he was also classed as 'independent' which meant he could blunder on an 11 or 12. The terrain was a bit sparse for my liking so I busied it up with the odd fence and field to break it up, although the only features that had any effect on movement and visibility were the main wooded areas.

The armies were deployed as per the real battle and the British had the first move. They pushed quickly right up to the Patriot skirmish line while the 17th Light Dragoons swept down the right hand side of table having got 3 moves from their die roll. In a brief exchange of fire my skirmishers were driven back and one unit was destroyed. The Patriot second line was stuck as they had a crap brigadier but even the third line wouldn't budge as I threw some rubbish dice. My cavalry did manage to move up a little bit which was to prove very handy later.

John moved the separate troop of Legion cavalry to join the rest of his mounted troops and pushed all his cavalry down the right. The push is coming here I thought! Meanwhile the 7th and 71st Foot (Feet?) moved around the woods to the left. The Light Btn and the Legion infantry passed through the trees although the latter were stuck there for a couple of moves due to poor command rolls and gun remained where it was for the entire game. It was now John found that having just the one commander was a bit of a bitch (although this probably reflected the real battle correctly) as he was getting very overextended and bogged down. Even so, I was getting a bit anxious as unit for unit the Brits were much better than mine.

What followed was a very exciting few turns. My second unit of riflemen eventually ran away, but a stalwart militia unit held off the 7th Foot for long enough for me to get the Continentals up and into the firing line. The remaining unit from the second line managed to retire back to the tree line and held off the Light battalion. (The militia in the first and second lines were pants on paper but I threw some excellent saving throws and enough sixes to disorder the British). The 7th were put under heavy fire and became repeatedly disordered and shaken. Because Tarleton was on the other flank not much could be done to rally them. Luckily for John the 71st were able to pass through them and give them some respite.

On the other flank my Virginia militia held off the British cavalry for a while, and even drove them off when charged - twice! Very lucky! What then followed was a see-saw fight of charge, counter charge and general mayhem as my militia held off the British Legion cavalry and my Continental dragoons eventually destroyed the 17th Lt Dragoons and the large Legion cavalry unit! The Virginia militia turned and enfiladed the Light Btn which sensibly failed a morale test and withdrew to the safety of the remains of the British force.

Time overtook us, but it was agreed that we had an American victory. It was quite a close battle for all that though. The British had not made any headway against the Patriot lines, were in danger of becoming overextended and out of command, were outnumbered, and had lost 2 units of cavalry. Two more units lost and the British would have broken. Overall a great game and proof once again that Black Powder work very well for this period.