Thursday 28 February 2019

More Helion Gems.

Two new exceptional volumes from Helion this week. I’ve only just got them so I will do a bit of a review when I’ve read them both (tbh I’ve already devoured the Piedmont book but you will have to wait). All I will say is that for a wargamer’s perspective these books fill a massive gap in the information available on their subjects. Ok, 1680’s Piedmontese is perhaps a bit off piste for some but not for me as I’ve just finished my 1670s/80s 28mm Savoyard army. As for the Dutch, well as readers will know I have more than a passing interest in the Franco-Dutch War 1672-78 and lots of little men as well. Tremendous, and the promise of more to come in a similar vien is mouth-wateringly good.

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Random Event Cards

In the previous post I made reference to the use of random event cards, mainly for fun but also to add another dimension to the game. Their use is not my idea, but was prompted by a discussion with my friend Chris Gregg (his blog is )here following his mention of the use of cards in a recent game. So, without further ado, while on holiday the other week I knocked up a set of about 50-60 cards, each with some event which might fall on a player during a game.

The way I played it on Saturday was that each side drew three cards at the start of the game. They were then free to use any number at any point during their turn or that of the enemy, replacing any used cards from the deck. Here are some examples:


An enemy unit (infantry or artillery) is ordered not to fire at their nominated target by a ‘staff officer’ who claims they are their allies.

One unit currently shaken is immediately rallied as the regiment’s colours are proudly advanced to the fore……and then enraged as the ensigns are both shot! Advance one move.

Play on an enemy unit receiving ‘follow me’ orders. The unit refuses to follow the general, preferring instead to be recorded for posterity as the regiment that failed to follow their commander to his glorious death.

A battery is rendered immobile as its drivers and limber teams are decimated by enemy fire.

A unit gets to re-roll any command or break test as his presence is ‘encouraging’.

There are a whole range of others, for example enhancing fire discipline for a move, a general falling off his horse and unable to give orders, a forgotten unit, short-sighted colonels who can only order their men to fire at point blank range, and untested units that have to take a break test when they fire their first volley. Events all ripped from the pages of history, or my imagination. 

I produced some backs for the cards which I'm rather pleased with. Obviously not my artwork but I love the picture.

Some further examples showing how I've presented them. All that I then had to do was laminate and guillotine them ready for use.
Interestingly, despite the range of events that could be visited upon your opponent or indeed your own side, it was surprising, and a relief, that the odd benefit or mishap had no impact on the game, other than to add a little humour, an extra level of frustration and another opportunity for plotting and conniving during the game!

Sunday 24 February 2019

The Action at Raismes, 8 May 1793, the game.

As promised Saturday saw the guys play out my Raismes scenario. Conrad and new 'Burrower' Richard took the Coalition forces while John and Shaun were the French. Conrad played Saxe-Coberg-Gotha with the Austrians and British, leaving Richard to command the Prussians and Dutch. Shaun drew the short straw to play General Dampierre and John was Miaczinski.

As I said in a previous post information on this engagement is sketchy at best, so although the Coalition OOB was reasonably accurate based on what little info I’d been able to dig up, that of the French was based purely on ‘fudgework’, insofar that I had a good idea of the numerical strength of the army and the names of some of its commanders but little else. Anyway, regardless of how ‘accurate’ it all was it seemed about right and as a scenario I hoped would give both armies’ players some interesting problems to tackle. Bottom line is that it’s my game and I’m not claiming it’s anything other than the basis for what I hoped was a challenging game (which it was). I will include the OOB at the end of this post.

Both sides had reinforcements to bring on. The Coalition forces would be joined by the Duke of York and the brigade of English Footguards on turn 5, while the French had a large reserve which they could bring on anywhere and in any move. I think they left it rather late, but as usual here is a pictorial odyssey through the events of the game.

The French right was anchored on this battery of 12pdrs.

The battle commences with the French on the left moving first. That was the plan but Shaun began the day as he meant to continue by failing numerous command throws. The Coalition were fairly inactive to start with as well.

John pushed a cavalry regiment forward to threaten the Coalition skirmish screen, which he then charged.

After the charge the French cavalry retired to where they'd started while the Freikorps battalion which had been their target had successfully evaded to the tables edge.

The French start to push through the Forest of Raismes, regulars leading the way. This wood was to prove to be a bit of a psychological challenge to both armies, but especially the Prussians and Dutch facing it. Presumably it looked dark and dangerous.
Conrad pushed his Austrian 'horse artillery' into a hillock out in front of his line.
The Dutch were unable to be moved. Even the presence of the CinC wasn't enough!

The stationery Dutch were joined by the O'Donnell Freikorps who had been on the receiving end of some effective  French shooting from the forest.

The forest is full of French, none of whom want to leave the safety it provides.
John's chasseurs á cheval were a bit isolated. Conrad ordered his uhlans to drive them off, getting three moves which was enough to reach them. In the melee the French were pushed back a move, followed up by the Uhlans.

The Duke of York arrives on time. The Brigade of Guards accompanied by some converged battalion guns  and his personal escort of a squadron of light dragoons.
On the Coalition left the Prussians and French had been knocking bits off each other with their cannon.  After a few failed starts Richard pushed his cavalry forward.
The Prussian hussars drove their French counterparts off the battlefield. Sadly they were left unsupported and vulnerable as the cuirassiers had failed to follow them. The hussars did manage to sweep behind the village to threaten the French flank but were forced to withdraw.
At last the French remembered they had a reserve and brought it on. To be fair they had intended to leave it off table until it became clear where the hammer blow ought to be struck.

The Coalition right, already very strong they were reinforced by the English.
The extreme right of the Coalition line. Some long range artillery fire had been pretty ineffective although one Austrian cheveu-leger regiment took to its heels early on in the battle after attracting the attention of John's artillery.

The gallant Prussian cuirassier charged Shaun's dragoons.

The dragoons were driven back, closely followed by the Prussians.

The French reserves included two batteries of horse artillery, which were deployed in the centre opposite the  village.

French reserve cavalry lumber up.

The Prussians defeated the French dragoons and elected to pull back as their victory had left them in a very exposed position.

Two battalions of Hungarian infantry advance, followed by the English Footguards.

The Dutch finally begin to advance.
The Prussian cuirassiers bounced back into the game and charged the French battery. They were blow to pieces and forced to retreat.
French dragoons from the reserve clash with the Uhlans and are broken. The Carabiniers in support  take a break test and are forced to retreat.
The victorious uhlans carried on forwards in a sweeping advance and rode down a battery of French horse artillery before retiring to reform.
The Brigade of Guards advances. In the background can be seen a portable guillotine, the presence of which  saw a marked upturn in the French dice scores.
In one turn the Guards are hit hard by artillery on their right quarter, ahead of them and by musketry from the French regulars. The entire brigade is disordered but their iron discipline holds them together. Blah! Blah! The 1st Footguards also make heavy weather of disposing of a French volunteer battalion to their front (they can just be seen immediately to the front of the Guards) which refused to think it was defeated for two rounds of melee.
Not surprisingly of corse the Guards pulled themselves together, broke the valiant but foolhardy volunteer battalion  and began trading shots with the French regulars to their front.
John then threw in his Carabiniers, who pushed back the Austrian uhlans in the centre.
The gallant Dutch charge the French in the forest, pushing them back.
The 1st Footguards in the lead, battered but still in the fight.
Time is called and it is clear the French have failed in their objective to capture the town and drive a wedge between the  two halves of the Coalition army.
The end of an action packed game and a minor victory to the forces of the Coalition, so an historical outcome.  In history the Coalition army was much more aggressive as the English are said to have marched through the forest in line and in step, only to find themselves 60 yards from a French battery which caused heavy casualties with canister fire! Also in history Dampierre was mortally wounded when he was hit in the thigh by a cannonball, so undoubtedly escaped an appointment with Madame la Guilloutine. Not so after our refight. Shaun was immediately arrested by the Representatives en Mission and returned to Paris. One can only guess as to his fate, but he is believed to have shared a cell with Owen Farrell and Eddie Jones after their dismal performance against Wales in the Six Nations. John meanwhile feverishly worked hard to cover his back and ensure that anything that might incriminate him was lost in the retreat. (Of course, I have the photographs that tell the true story M. le Rouge).

I was knackered and I was only the tea boy and occasional umpire. The French (especially soon to be headless Shaun) suffered from a whole game of dreadful dice rolls, which meant that their right wing was frozen in place for much of the battle. My assessment of the game would be that the Coalition forces were too static and should have attacked while they had a numerical advantage early on in the game, while the French really ought to have brought their reserve on sooner (they did have complete control over when and where it came on after all). Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, and both sides did have perfectly sound plans which as usual went out of the window more or less from the start.

The introduction of my random event cards added a little humour and suspense(?) to the game, but none of the cards had any significant impact on the proceedings other than to frustrate a few plans. Archduke Charles fell off his horse, the Prussian commander was killed by a stray cannonball and a few units suffered or benefitted from short-sighted colonels, excellent fire discipline, forgotten orders  or boosts to their elan. Oh, and the Dutch wargame virgins didn't run away. I think I will devote a separate post to the cards. Meanwhile, here are the orders of battle:


General Auguste Marie Henri Picot, Marquis de Dampierre (9)

Right Wing: General Antoine Nicolas Collier, Comte de La Marlière (8) Break Point 5

6 btns (1Grenadier/1Regular/4Volunteer)

Hussars x 1

Dragoons x 1

Foot Artillery x 1 (heavy)

Horse Artillery x 1 (light)

Centre: Gen de Bde Miaczinski(7) BP4

5 btns (1G/2R/2V)

Chasseurs a Cheval x 1

Heavy Cavalry x 1

Foot Artillery x 1 (heavy)

Left Wing: Gen de Bde Champmorin(8) BP3

4 btns (2R/2V)

Foot Artillery x 1 (heavy)

Reserve: Gen de Bde Jean Nestor de Chancel (8) BP4

5 btns (2R/1R Chas/2V)

Heavy Cavalry x 1

Dragoons x 1

Horse Artillery x 2 (light)


FM Friedrich Josias Graf Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (8)

Right Wing
Division of FML Prinz von Wurtemburg (8) BP4
4 btns (4R)

Cheveau-Leger x 2

Foot artillery x 2(Heavy)


Division of the Archduke Charles (8)BP4

5 btns (1G/1R/1Grenz/2Freikorps)

Uhlans x 2

‘Horse’ artillery x 1(light)

Left Wing :

Prussian Division of GL von Knobellsdorf (8) BP6

4 btns musketeers

2 btns fusiliers

1 btn jager (small)

Cuirassiers x 2

Hussars x 1

Foot artillery x 2 (heavy/medium)

Horse artillery x 1 (medium)

Dutch Brigade: Gen Price Freidrich of Orange (7) BP3

5 btns (4R/1G)

Reserve : HRH the Duke of York (8) Arrives on the left T5 - BP 3

3 btns Footguards (3Gd)

Light dragoons x 1 (small)

Foot artillery x 1 (half battery of light cannon)

Below are the 'house rules' I've introduced for games in this period.


1. All infantry in line move at a maximum of 9”.

2. All ‘linear’ armies (i.e. everyone except the French Levee and Volunteers) are restricted to moving in line or column of march, unless assaulting a fortified position or built up area

3. French conscripts or volunteers may only move in march column, attack column, ‘masse’ or skirmish order.

4. Conscripts moving into a ‘swarm’ (skirmish order) must remain in this formation for the remainder of the game.

5. ‘Masse’ is a modified form of open order depicted by leaving a small gap of 1-2cm between each base. It moves at 12” and can evade as the battalion is not trying to maintain a formation.

a. It shoots and melees with a -1 modifier

b. Enemy artillery do not get the any bonus for targeting it.

c. A battalion will move involuntarily from close order column to column of mob (Masse) when:

i. It fails to contact in a charge. Include if it fails command test or does not get enough moves from the result. Automatic

ii. It is engaged in a fire-fight with the enemy for more than one turn of firing. Automatic

iii. It is stationary or advancing under fire from artillery for more than one turn. Pass command test.

6. All volunteer units must pass a command test if they wish to form square (or indeed NOT to form square!!!). If they fail they must take an immediate break test and if they stand are classed as a disordered square.

7. All units wishing and able to evade must pass a command test as per the rules. Volunteers/Levée that fail must take a break test.

8. The move sequence is amended to the following:

a. Move CinC, Initiative moves, shooting, Command throws and movement, Melee.

b. Units that shoot get a -1 to their commander’s ability when testing to move.

9. Austrian 'horse artillery' does not get any free limber/unlimber benefits to reflect their inferior mobility. They still get to move as horse artillery.

Saturday 23 February 2019

The Action at Raismes, set up

The armies are deployed. Coalition on the right and French on the left. NORTH is to the right. 

French forces stretch in line to the west. They must break the Coalition army.

The forces of the Coalition. Closest are the Prussians, then the Dutch with the Austrians furthest from the camera. The English are not yet on the battlefield. 
Well, soon be time for kick off so let's see how it goes.

Friday 22 February 2019

Another excuse for a FRW game. The clash at Raismes, 8 May 1793

The 'good' thing about 1793 is that there aren't that many battles that are 'wargameable' in my chosen areas of operations (Flanders and the Rhine) for the current series of games. This 'clash' north of  Valenciennes and west of the fortress of Condé was the precursor to the battle of Famars and later the capitulations of Valenciennes and Condé to the Coalition forces. Rather than regurgitate what happened in May 1793 I recommend you go here for a full account of the events leading up to the battle, its aftermath, and the battle itself.

Dampiere the French commander, already mistrusted by the 'Committee' as he was an aristocrat, was between a rock and a hard place, as if he didn't try and relieve the pressure on Condé by breaking the Allied cordon he would no doubt be recalled, tried for treason and executed in very short order. However, despite the French having a slight numerical advantage the Allies were regular troops, some of whom had seen a fair amount of action, while the Army of the North was made up of enthusiastic but brittle volunteers supported by a core of regulars. Furthermore, following the defeat at Neerwinden, the army had witnessed the defection of their commander, Doumouriez, together with Miranda and the Duc de Chartres, to the Austrians.  I have an order of battle for the Allied army but that of the French is largely fudged, as indeed is the terrain. The battle is  noteworthy for the fact that this is the first time that British troops were in action against the French in Flanders since joining the 1st Coalition.

Ignore the troop annotations on this map as they are for the later Battle of Famars a couple of weeks later. Condé (top right) is under siege and a long cordon of Allied troops stretches westwards as well as further east. The centre of the Allied position is the village of Vicoigne. The battle of Raismes takes place in the hilly and wooded area north of Valenciennes, the French objective being to drive a wedge through the Coalition's cordon at Vicoignes and northwards off the map at St Armand, thus splitting them in two. French attacks will come from the south, through Aubry, Anzin and north of Valenciennes across the river at St Sauve.

Hopefully the game won't turn into the slugfest that we experienced with Neerwinden. To lighten the mood I will be using my newly-created random event cards. More of those in a separate post.

Thursday 21 February 2019

War of the 1st Coalition Dutch Brigade

I finally got these based up today as I need for a game on the weekend. Ok, the figures are not actually Dutch as when they were done nobody produced FRW Dutch. They do now of course (Revolutionary Armies). The figures are some surplus Foumdry 1806 Saxons. They are not perfect but they will do. Likewise, the flags are too early and are a temporary measure until Stuart at Maverick Models puts the ones he's done for the War of the Austrian Succesion and the FRW up on his webstore. So, I wonder how they will perform on Saturday?

Wednesday 20 February 2019

French Revolutionary War Piedmontese in 28mm from Eureka

I saw notice of these figures’ imminent arrival onto the scene on Facebook the other day. Eureka plan to have them available for Salute. Pictured below are grenadiers and musketeers, with artillery and dragoons also in the pipeline. You can email Nic at Eureka for a list if you want to order any for collection at Salute.

In the interests of impartiality, I am told that 'Revolutionary Armies' will also have Piedmontese available relatively soon, so all of a sudden we will be spoilt for choice. One of the great things for magpies like me is that the two manufacturers' styles are very similar and that the figures are very compatible with each other. Now then, do I really want any Piedmontese......?

Sunday 17 February 2019

Fighting the French Revolution. The Great Vendee Rising of 1795 review.

As promised a couple of posts ago, here is a brief review of the above book.  I was quite excited when I saw it was due for release and ordered it straight away. I thought it would be either very good or that Iwould be left wanting for more information. Well am glad to report that in my opinion it is a very good book. Clearly well researched with loads of primary and secondary sources, the majority of which are French. After the introductory chapters which include sections on the region, it’s geography and it’s people there are sections on the Royalist  Vendée and Republican armies. These include information on organisation and, especially interesting for me as I need to think carefully how to incorporate Vendée troops into my battles and work up some stats for Black Powder, sections on tactics employed.

As for the rest of the book, it follows a chronological, day by day or week by week order of all the events, clashes and engagements that together almost toppled the Republican government, but were put down after much hard fighting with a ferocious level of unbridled savagery by the Republic. There are plenty of maps which will be handy for those of us who like me will no doubt be playing a Vendee game sometime soon, and a few pages of B&W photographs. I would have preferred more of the latter.

The book finishes with biographies of all the main players from both sides in the rebellion together with some orders of battle of the Republican and Royalist armies at various times during the campaign and a pretty extensive bibliography (see my earlier comment). This book compares
favourably with the 1975 Banners of the King by Michael Ross which first sparked my interest in these events 44 years ago!

9.5 out of 10 (the need imho for more photos being the only reason it didn’t get a perfect 10). When I get home from our jaunt I must now finish the 40-odd Vendée peasant types I still have in the painting pile.

Friday 15 February 2019

Totally random but handy find on Amazon

I saw these today and thought they were worth sharing if like me you end up occasionally (or more often) cleaning your brushes in your tea or coffee.

Now what I REALLY need are some “Paint trousers” and “Not paint trousers!”

Sunday 10 February 2019

Valmy the Wargame

Saturday morning and the Battle of Valmy began. Steve reprised his role as Dumouriez while Shaun was Kellerman. Conrad and Paul changed their white uniforms to blue to become the Prussian commanders. Paul was Brunswick and Conrad was Hohenlohe. Unlike in the real action the Prussians would not be retiring after a brief 'cannonade', and with the French firmly across their lines of communication would certainly be attacking. The French didn't really need to attack but elected to advance on their right to try and tempt the Prussians forward (not that they needed any tempting) while the centre would hold. Their extreme left was supposed to advance, but that didn't happen.

Without further ado, what follows are rather a lot of photos showing how the game developed. Hopefully the captions will give an indication of how it all played out.

Turn one and Steve pushed his horse artillery forward supported by two small cavalry regiments. Conrad's response in his turn was to charge the guns and the hussars in the foreground. The Prussian hussars survived closing fire from the artillery and rode the battery down. Shaken in the process the hussars withdrew. Conrad's dragoons were driven back by the French hussars but the victory would short lived as the Prussians turned their artillery on the hussars, breaking them.
Conrad's main infantry command advanced rapidly across the table, thanks to a blunder requiring them to make three moves!
A close up of GL von Schönfeld's division negotiating the sheep. The steaming dung heap represents a blundered command.

I must get some limbers or dual task my Prussian SYW ones next time. Prussian horse(less) artillery advances. Steve  tried to order a charge on them with his heavy cavalry regiment while they were limbered up but failed to throw low enough.
Kellerman's Armée de Centre on the hill south of Valmy.
Shaun's dice throwing started bad, got worse, and stayed dreadful for the entire game.  On the left his grenadiers out distanced his chasseurs while his cavalry advanced to try and tempt a cautious Paul forward.
Back on the right with Dumouriez Steve ordered Miranda's cavalry to belt forward and try to force the Prussians into square and halt their advance.
Dumouriez's remaining cavalry likewise charged and forced a battalion of fusiliers into square. The French cavalry was unlikely to make much impression on the Prussians other than to force them into square and thus slow down the advance.
Steve then ordered his regular battalions to charge the Prussians. All did not go to plan. Although they destroyed one battalion together with its support, both of the French regular battalions failed break tests and fled. Thankfully for the French the Prussians were unable to take advantage of this due to the presence of three (albeit small) regiments of French cavalry.
Paul's command included a brigade (Division!) of eight infantry battalions and two heavy batteries. The infantry made a slow start. Paul is seen here checking when he can expect his cavalry brigade held off table in reserve to make an appearance.
And here the are. Five large regiments of cuirassiers and dragoons. I think I was being  over generous in making these large units as it was going to make them pretty unstoppable. Or so we thought.
Another shot of the cavalry as they appear over the crest of the hill.

Back on the other flank Conrad's attack had been halted by the presence of cavalry and the advance of several battalions of very eager volunteers. The latter were class as untested and newly raised in the rules, i.e. they had randomly generated stamina and could react very well or very badly to their first taste of combat. Steve kept throwing 6's so several his volunteer battalions had a stamina of 4!
Shaun looking slightly awestruck as the Prussian horsemen head right for his part of the line.
The thinly held hilltop south of Valmy. At least most of the French regulars were posted here.
The Prussian cavalry again. Sorry, but I just love these regiments. Not all the figures are on the table as  the regiment are actually organised into five squadrons of six figures each. Still an impressive sight and you could almost feel the table vibrate in reaction to the hammering of horses' hooves! Maybe this was where Napoleon got his inspiration for massed cavalry at Eylau 15 years later?
CR No 12 about to charge.
Paul elected to charge Shaun's horse artillery. The battery could have evaded but chose to stand. They did well, causing 3 hits before they were overrun. Previous casualties from artillery fire on the Prussian cuirassiers meant that this regiment was close to becoming shaken.
Another cuirassier regiment poised to attack the French dragoons seen at the bottom of the picture. 
Paul then threw in his infantry.
The very confused melee atop Valmy Hill.

CR No 12 charged the French dragoons, forcing them back. In doing so they became shaken had had to retire to rally.
The lines are thinning out as the fighting takes its toll on both sides.

The Prussians were throwing troops into combat as if they had unlimited reserves. Several battalions were broken or shaken but the French too were taking heavy losses, especially among their regular battalions.

Meanwhile, Steve was pressing home his counter attack. One of Conrad's brigades was in full retreat and now it was time to deal with the other. That was then plan at any rate.
The southern end of the battlefield was positively serene by comparison to the rest as neither side wanted or was able to close with the other.
Paul's cuirassiers driving a large wedge into the centre of the French line.
The battlefield seen from the north.

Steve's reserves arrived in the nick of time, but their advance was foiled by an audacious charge by Paul's dragoons that forced the French horse artillery that HAD been limbered up to the left of the green-faced regulars to evade back off the table.
The Prussians then hit an already engaged French regular regiment in the flank, rolling them up.

The victorious cuirassiers charged the French artillery in the flank making a sweeping advance.  No surprise that they rode the gunners down.

The French centre was now in all sorts of s**t!  A further regular battalion, then another collapsed.
All was not up for the French as their right wing under Dumouriez (Steve) had blunted the Prussian attack. The French advance was helped by the fact that Conrad's last remaining cavalry had beaten and pursued a French regiment off the table at a critical point in time.
Supported by a lone regular battalion the volunteers surged forward.
The  target of the French surging.

Two Prussian battalions were pinned in square when the rest of their brigade became spent.
The battle in the centre continued without respite.
The Prussians still had two uncommitted regiments of cavalry. 
The French threw in one of their last remaining cavalry regiments, led by the 8th regiment. In the melee they managed to take the Prussians to 'shaken'. A quick count up showed that the cavalry brigade had run out of steam as the majority of units were also shaken. The French heaved a sigh of relief.
On the French left nothing was moving, as had been the case for the entire game. 
The Prussian reserve artillery. They took the edge off a few French units early in the game.

The Prussian right barely made it to the mid point of the table during the game.

The end of the battle. Three out of five Prussian brigades were shaken forcing the army to retire.
The long road home to Berlin.
Wow! What a dust up. I knew it was going to be a hell of a game before it started and I was not disappointed. The French had won a tactical and technical victory sorts but were so badly damaged that there was no way they'd be able to stop the Prussians withdrawing or marching round their flank to reconnect with their lines of communication. The Prussians had lots of shaken units as well as a few that broke and ran, but the French had the opposite, with a good dozen broken units, including six out of nine regular battalions and half their artillery.

I must commend the guys for playing the period and not the rules throughout, in several instances refusing to perform 'gamey' moves as that would have been downright ungentlemanly. I thought the game flowed well, and everyone prefers the change to the turn sequence as it livens things up and adds yet another thing to think about when pushing your toys around the table. Black Powder still works for me in this period but I'd still like to go back to General d'Armée sometime, or try something new.

Looking at the wreck of his army after the battle Brunswick may well have regretted his gut feeling earlier in the day that "We don't need to fight a battle here today".