O'er the Hills Early Peninsular War Scenario Book

O'er the Hills Early Peninsular War Scenario Book
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Friday, 21 September 2018

Rise & Fight Again - New Rules for fighting the American War of Independence


About a week ago both Steve and I received our copies of the new American War of Independence rules from Stand to Games, that follow in the wake of their initial offering 'Over the Hills' for wargaming the Napoleonic era.

If you are not familiar with the basic game engine of Fatigue Scores which I discuss in this post it might be worth following the link to our review of Over the Hills below.


The Rise & Fight Again rule book is a glossy covered ring bound production

Both sets are aimed at two very different horse and musket eras but incorporate the core rule system of unit fatigue as a common theme.

The rules are neatly laid out with a comprehensive index and liberally sprinkled with colour pictures and diagrams

I stress that point because both Steve and I came at 'Rise and Fight Again' (RAFA) as reasonably experienced players of Over the Hills (OTH) and a simple reading of the new rules certainly gave a flavour for the changes between the two sets but as always it takes playing to really understand that difference.

Our test game set up with the Americans in two lines of Continentals backing up Militia on the forward ridge

As when we started out with OTH, we set up a simple table arrangement, not really seeking to play our normal game but more to test the rules to destruction if necessary and see if they could hit the sweet spot of feeling like a typical AWI encounter.

The American militia strung out on the tree-lined ridge - would they hold?

So as you will see we set up a sort of Guilford Courthouse affair with a line of American militia tasked with holding a tree lined ridge and delivering a good 'biffing' to the approaching redcoats whilst a second line awaited behind of Continentals waiting to finish the job.

Plenty of Continentals behind, but they wouldn't see any fighting before the night was out

The British force consisted of a typical early war line brigade and an elite brigade with Guards, Grenadiers and Light Infantry.

Each side had a unit of light cavalry and some light artillery in support to hopefully try out the effect of as many unit types as possible.

The Redcoats prepare to advance

Before even moving a unit or rolling any dice a quick preparation read through highlighted some first major rethinks from our Napoleonic heads.

Firstly, the new command and control rules force some decision points right from the get go because the command radius of most brigade commanders will usually only allow two, possibly three, if you include artillery, units to line up and be in command.

This poses a question if your brigadier has four battalions answering to him, namely whether to have them all up in line with two of them on the extreme flanks out of command or to fight with two up and two back effectively halving the frontage and fire effect they could deliver but stay in command.

The British close in as the Grenadiers charge the flank militia who pass their reaction and fight without bayonets

The command challenge forces a decision in that, out of command units failing a command test at the start of the move might fall back a move segment due to their confusion as to their role.

I decided to take the risk that my militia colonels knew their job was to stand and shoot at the damned 'lobsters' and only had my two centre battalions firmly under command.

The next question was organising our skirmish screens which the new rules differ from OTH in that each brigade can muster a skirmish 'unit' that represents picked men detailed for the job.

These units have a three base wide frontage and fight like any other unit except that they have a Fatigue Score (FS) of 4 or 5 for combat and shooting, depending on their quality and ability, for example my rifle skirmishers were on the higher end of that spectrum. However for taking morale and other reaction type tests they would use the FS of the nearest supporting unit from their brigade.

This rather emulates the light skirmish battalions we created in our Napoleonic games and I really like the skirmish battle and choices in when to call these chaps in, or not, as they also act as a very effective screen to protect your follow up formed battalions.

The other militia flank battalion (extreme right) is hard pressed by the 44th Foot, but in a combination with movement and terrain fatigue sees the British battalion accumulates five fatigue hits during the combat

We managed to play through about eight turns, which was slower than normal because we needed to read through the rules and check our understanding as we went along and so our battle concentrated on the British attack to clear the militia from the tree line.

My decision to put all my troops in the 'shop window' paid off in that both my out of command flank battalions did their job and stood long enough to deliver several useful volleys, with one passing a reaction test to enter combat with the British Grenadiers needing a one or two on a d10 and passing with a one.

That speech I gave them about 'the rights of man, all equal in the eyes of the law', finished with a rising shout of 'no taxation without representation' must have done the trick!

The British carried the ridge after I had removed one of my battalions of militia using the 'Bush Fighters' rule to disperse them but still had the opportunity to have them back in my rear lines later in the game.

Despite their courage in standing toe to toe with the redcoats, coping with another American special rule of 'No Bayonets' and simply being militia which meant that the British were very often hitting them with an FS of 10 to 14 often taking out three or four of my chaps, whilst they were coming back with a simple 4 hoping to knock one of them down.

The loss of the second battalion in combat broke the morale of the brigade leaving the British on their jump off point for their attack to commence on the Continental line beyond.

You can see this was a test game as we used the Napoleonic brigade cards, however this is the British line brigade five moves in having stated on FS 24 and would lose that next dice in the following rounds halving their staying power

However the British line brigade had taken a bit of a 'biffing' in its efforts to clear the Americans, through a combination of mainly skirmish rifle fire, militia close in first firing volleys and the odd casualty from the melees, not to mention fatigue from taking double moves to close and extra fatigue for entering the wood my chaps were sheltering in.

Likewise the British elites had taken noticeable casualties if much less so than their line comrades, leaving them dented for any plans on tackling anymore better quality Americans.

Apologies for a French brigade card but showing the American militia brigade only having lost two points in FS at turn five

With the 'wee hours' drawing in we decided to stop and review the play so that I might offer some thoughts to you.

First off, we really liked the game RAFA has to offer and the changes between it and OTH that we got to play make this feel a completely different set of rules other than the familiar comfort blanket of having Fatigue Scores to work with when assessing combat and morale.

Based on our simple test both Steve and I decided that if playing the British in a similar situation, it is folly to simply allow all your troops to take a battering from second line militia, when one brigade would have sufficed leaving the other fresh and ready to take it to the next American line allowing the other brigade to act in a supporting role safe in the knowledge that the American force is one brigade down against its total force morale.

The skirmish game adds another level of play which allows both to look to soften each other up before the formed units get to grips, but also forces a decision point as to when to call them in and avoid them causing fatigue hits by being passed through or having them to make an emergency evade through their supports when the enemy are close in or, as described in the rules, 'Tremulation of Arms'.

The British in RAFA can't simply rely on musketry and it is probably wise not to try and fight with them as in OTH as RAFA are designed to encourage British tactics of avoiding costly exchanges of fire by closing quickly with the bayonet and deciding the issue, which they are very ably set up to do.

However beware of Americans occupying broken terrain and defences as they benefit hugely from its cover and winkling them out costs the British in fatigue hits getting in their to deliver a bayonet attack, which again promotes a British commander to at least consider a more traditional 'General Howe' approach of pinning and manoeuvre to get American troops out of favourable terrain into stuff where they can be dealt with in a more cost effective manner.

The command and control ranges really make this game feel quite distinct from Napoleonics and offers command challenges that I really enjoyed because, as we found, out of command troops can surprise you and occasionally even in control ones if, as Steve did, you throw the occasional, or not so occasional one. However that's friction and the best commanders expect it and do things to try and mitigate its happening.

The other thought that struck me after just this first play through is that keeping troops close by but not necessarily in harms way is important if quality is to overcome quantity. An intact reserve ready to keep pouring on the pressure after the initial hits have been delivered is a battle winning tactic with these rules as there are no massive cavalry corps ready to sweep in and turn the tide of battle.

This is very much an infantryman's war and attritive on the armies involved, so, if possible, keeping part of your force fresh would be a useful tactic to consider.


Finally we talked about some minor modifications/additions we are planning, to better suit our thinking for our games:
  • The rules work on the premise of an average size battalion during the war looking like 360 infantrymen with a confident battalion of this size rating an FS of 7. A lot of British battalions throughout the war were notoriously below strength and struggled to maintain 250 men with a few exceptions such as the odd Highland regiment, thus we would set a typical 'vanilla' British line battalion at around that mark with a typical FS of around 6. Likewise we would downgrade US Continental infantry, before the von Steuban reforms at Valley Forge to that level as well. Ady and Quinton, the rules authors, have discussed this in the body of the text and we will look to model that in future orders of battle.
  • We will be working on some rule specific player aids to include some new Army/Brigade morale cards and our own QRS.
  • We also need to think about a 'first volley fired' way of recording, and I am inclined to use some sort of a marker.

Following this first test game we are now ready to take this game to club which will feature in next months line up of games at the Devon Wargames Group.

On a last note I am going to resort to shameless advertising by highlighting a Peninsular War scenario book I have written with the chaps at Stand To Games for Over the Hills and is currently running on Kickstarter.



If you have enjoyed reading about the scenarios Steve and I played reported in earlier posts this year then you might like to support the venture and sign up for a copy.

Kickstarter Launch - Oer the Hills


More information can be found here on JJ's  on the link above and on the Kickstarter site by following the link below.

Kickstarter - Oer the Hills Early Peninsula War Scenarios 1808-1809


Monday, 17 September 2018

Kickstarter Launch - O'er the Hills, Early Peninsular War Scenarios


Kickstarter - Oer the Hills Early Peninsula War Scenarios 1808-1809


I have a little announcement to make about a little project I have been working on with the chaps over at Stand to Games.

As of this evening the scenario book 'O'er the Hills', by me, covering the early Peninsular War period 1808 to 1809 has been launched on Kickstarter.


As many of you will know I have spent the last six years putting together various scenarios and games that covered the early British involvement in the Peninsular War up to and including the Battle of Talavera.


Those games have culminated in the book that is now on Kickstarter designed for using with 'Over the Hills' Napoleonic rules but very easily converted to other similar level systems should you prefer.

If you were following the series of play-tests run over the end of 2017 and start if this year you will have seen the development of this book and the testing done in the games we presented and both Steve and I had a great time working through the historical challenges presented in them.

If you are unfamiliar with those games you can follow the series in the link below where they are gathered together with our review of Over the Hills just after they were launched.

Over the Hills



If you would like to have a go at the challenge of doing better than Marshals Soult and Victor and driving the British Leopard from the Peninsula then you need to get over to the Kickstarter page in the link above.

Of course should you chose to support the Kickstarter and we pass the magic number you wont have to work from the 'Word' draft copies of orders of battle and scenario specific rules such as night fighting that we had to use, with all my scribbled notes, oh no, this is going to be a shiny colour tome from the chaps at Stand to Games with the scenarios and force specific army lists for the period to help you design your own. 

The description of the book is:

'The 101 page supplement includes twelve action packed scenarios that allow you the gamer to recreate some of the greatest battles of the early Peninsula War. Battles such as Roliça, Vimeiro, Oporto, Corunna and Talavera are all included. Each scenario comes complete with orders of battle, detailed map and deployment lay outs and scenario special rules. Also included within this supplement is the authors notes on the scenarios and helpful hints on how to game using the Over the Hills ruleset. The supplement also contains three detailed army lists for Anglo/Portuguese, Spanish and French forces.'


And if you need to gather any information on the units represented in the book you should find most of them covered here on JJ's to help you put them together with painting and modelling ideas as well.

Kickstarter - Oer the Hills Early Peninsula War Scenarios 1808-1809


So as of now we have thirty-three days to get this book up and running.

Cheers all
JJ

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Colours 2018 - Newbury & Reading Wargame Society


I suppose being a keen wargaming enthusiast must be similar to being any other hobby/leisure time activity enthusiast in that the passage of time is land-marked with events relating to that pursuit, and if you do a thing long enough the years become a back catalogue of great times spent in good company just enjoying that pursuit.

I know friends who are keen football fans (that's soccer for my American friends) and spend a fortune travelling across the UK and Europe following a particular team who might easily be able to relate to a veteran wargamer who does something similar travelling to shows on a regular annual basis and spending hard earned cash on toy soldiers and associated items, all be it that we may both consider the others activity rather pointless and silly.

But then the pointless and rather silly aspect of any activity one gets enjoyment from is surely what it's all about and I know people who would never get involved in wargaming who can appreciate the aesthetic delight in bringing a period of history to the table-top in an attractive and informative way just as a casual follower of football can delight in the skill of the 'beautiful game'.

So just as any keen football fan can probably reel off the great games they were present at in a particular year, so it is with wargame shows and I never tire of the anticipation whilst paying the entry fee and moving on into a show hall, not knowing what great times lie ahead in conversation, seeing other peoples games and just getting inspiration for ones own projects.


I have reported on the last few Colours shows here on JJ's and have been attending it, give or take the occasional missed show, for about the last thirty odd years, with memories of past shows going back to the Reading Hexagon in the eighties.

Colours 2013
Colours 2015
Colours 2016
Colours 2017

So it was with great anticipation that I, together with Steve M and Bob, fellow DWG members and regular show-goers, travelled up from Exeter to meet up with Mr Steve to share in another Colours show presented by the Newbury & Reading Wargames Society.

The venue for the show, Newbury Racecourse, is by common opinion among the chaps, one of the better venues on the show circuit that we generally attend with plenty of parking, easy access and a spacious multi-floor grandstand building for the games and traders, which as you can see was a 'hubble-bubble' of happy wargamers yesterday.


I had a list of things I was hoping to pick up on the day relating to ongoing projects at the moment and the next one on the list going forward, plus a plan to include my usual report on my day for the blog with pictures of games that grabbed my attention.

So in no particular order I present my very personal pick of games from Colours 2018.


Operation Goodwood in 20mm - Friends who like Rapid Fire.
WWII in Europe is a period I have long been interested in going back to being a child and hearing my Dad relating tales of his experiences.

Needless to say any game involving Guards Armoured Division during this period always grabs my attention and Goodwood is a regularly featured battle in that panoply of the division's history.



After WRG, I think Rapid Fire was the next set of WWII rules I got into and though perhaps a little dated when viewed alongside more modern sets of rules, are up there in the list of rules I have played and enjoyed through my time in the hobby.

The passion for the period is brought to life in this game with well painted and presented models en mass that captures the mayhem of burning tanks littering open French cornfields in the mid-summer of 1944.









Market Garden 6mm - South East London Wargamers
As mentioned Guards Armoured games always grab my attention and though 6mm is a scale that would not feature on my preferences, I have gamed in the scale a long, long, long time ago when the eyes could cope much better than today.

This stretch of road was immediately recognisable and followers of the blog will know I posted about our drive along 'Hell's Highway' from Joe's Bridge to Eindhoven in my post from last summer's holiday to Holland where we pictured the very spot Dad and his crew parked their Sherman OP tank in Eindhoven city centre.


The smaller scale does allow the size of a WWII battle to be captured better, all be it with a sacrifice in not having the visual appeal at a model to model level offered by larger scales.

That said the presentation held my attention with the level of detail the chaps had captured and the overall look of their game.



Twenty-five pounders lined out across the rear area fields under an over-flight of supporting Typhoons, perhaps the 55th Field Regiment ready to open fire?


Society of Ancients 28mm
The Society of Ancients are perhaps one of the bedrocks to ancient wargaming and I still have publications of theirs that are treasured sources when it comes to putting my own armies together.
Society of Ancients


This game had a couple of very nicely presented armies, one looking like middle Roman versus a barbarian force well entrenched behind stakes and broken terrain.




I gather on inspection that the shields on the chaps below are hand-painted and with heavy artillery on the table to their front just needed Russell Crowe to give a quick speech about ending up in Elysian Fields before unleashing hell.




The Race Across Idlib Province - Adrian Sepherd & Friends
Adrian Shepherd has had games featured in a few of my Colours Show reports, looking back, and his collection of Middle East WWI 28mm figures showcased against nicely modelled terrain boards always attracts plenty of folks with cameras.


This year's game as described above was no-less impressive and provided plenty of cameo shots as well as demonstrating that empty spaces on a table at this scale can still add great effect to the game.












Boudica's Revenge - Newbury & Reading Wargames Society
With my own focus very much on the Early Imperial Roman period I was immediately drawn to similarly themed games if only to see how others approached modelling this very interesting period.


I haven't heard of the rules being used for this particular game, 'Warlord Advance Guard 3500BC to 1100AD) which is an interesting time span to cover with one set of rules and reminds me somewhat of the old WRG days, ah happy times and so much simpler!






Napoleonics 15mm - Dave Brown & Loughton Strike Force
General d'Armee by Dave Brown is one of the new Napoleonic rule sets around at the moment and was being used in a very nice looking Waterloo campaign themed game with units that appeal to my eye for a Napoleonic game.


I have General d'Armee but would tend to use Carnage & Glory II or Over the Hills for a similarly scaled game.

That said, as a Napoleonic fan I'm always happy to see one of my favourite periods on a table no matter what the rule set.


Infantry and cavalry in multiple ranks just seem to look right to me for Napoleonics and 15/18mm is a great scale for striking the balance between good looking models married with the grand manner look of battle.



Battle of Soggy Bottom using 'For King and Parliament' 28mm - Simon Miller & Friends
Simon has taken a bit of a break from Ancients in recent times to concentrate on building up a fine collection of English Civil War units to compliment his rule set 'For King and Parliament', the ECW variant to his ancient rule set 'To the Strongest'.

The two long lines of gorgeous civil war units really seems to capture the look of battle for this period and I really enjoyed just working my way along each line taking in the look of both armies.



 






Retreat from Moscow, 40mm - Wessex Wargames Society
You don't see a lot of 40mm type games around on the circuit and so both the scale and theme seemed to me rather interesting with a very evocative table that conjured up memories of the scene in 'The Duelists' with both the main characters having to postpone their own particular feud to deal with the more pressing need in fending off a bunch of marauding cossacks amid the snowy chaos of the Russian retreat.





Raid on Zeebrugge 1918, 1;300th - Naval Wargames Society
Naval wargaming has always interested me pretty much across all eras and I feel naval games have to work that much harder to attract the eye than land games, given that much of the terrain is given over to flat open blue stuff.


Off course nice models always help and a bit of coastal scenery can add variety, but I think naval landings can always be a challenge to marry up the scale of naval and land units in the same game.

If you then add in an air raid or two as this Zebrugge game was doing then the challenges only increase.


I had never seen this particularly interesting early combined operations attack modelled before and was impressed with the display that seemed to capture the key elements quite well.


The organisers had prepared a very nice comprehensive guide to the action that explained the background to and outcome of the attack and explained how the players were required to work in cooperation attempting to ram the canal lock and sink their block ships in the mouth of the Bruge Canal.





Spectre Demonstration Game - A Few Brits and the Hobby
We play quite a few games of modern, low level special ops types of games in the Devon Wargames Group using various rule sets such as 7TV and Winter of 79 and so it was really interesting to this game that attracted me for the modelling as much as the theme.


I was familiar with 'A few Brits....' having listened to their podcasts, most recently chatting with Simon Elliot looking at his books on the Roman Army and his recent work looking at the campaign of Septimius Severus in Scotland.

A few Brits and the Hobby Podcast


If you are interested in the Spectre rules system and the figures that compliment them then you might want to listen to the chaps latest podcast taking about them

https://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/show/afewbritsandthehobby/id/7023189




Wars of the Roses (1st St Albans) - Penarth & District Wargames Society
A few of us are regulars at the Penarth show 'Crusade' that generally kicks off our show going year in January.

So it was nice to chat to a few members from the club hosting a participation 28mm Wars of the Roses game loosely based on 1st St Albans and using Lion Rampant.


The Wars of the Roses is a theme I intend to pursue once the ancient collection is built to a respectable level and having picked up some items in preparation for that project I was more than happy to see how the Penarth chaps had set about modelling their game.



First and Second St Albans in 28mm are both challenging battles for the wargamer to attempt given the need to model a suitably accommodating built up area and I have studied various other peoples ideas for doing that.

Of course me being me I will want to do my own version and so am working on what that might look like.


The Battle of Kyoto 1868, 28mm Sharp Practice - Abbott's Road Wargames
Feudal warfare in the far east and particularly Samurai warfare, is not really my thing but that said I really can appreciate a nice looking game with superb terrain organised around a sound historical theme and this particular game grabbed my attention.


Of course any game using the superb creations that are buildings by James at Oshiro Model Terrain are always going to grab the eye and I was sorry to have missed saying hello when I stopped by to take pictures of this excellent looking game based on the Boshin War.








As mentioned I was keen to pick up a few bits whilst at the show, so was able to add to my growing collection of figures for my upcoming Wars of the Roses project with a great Perry's plastic box offer of three boxes for £50 from Great Escape Games.


I also topped up with some important colours from the Coat d'Arms range and purchased some Black Tree Roman Western Archers in a mixed bag of twelve figures together with a bag of ten Celtic casualties from Mili-Art.


A big thanks to Trevor at Coritani and Magnetic Displays for sorting me out a roll of 20mm magnetic tape which I use on all my 28mm bases.

http://www.magneticdisplays.co.uk/

I have found over the years that magnetic bases can save a lot of heart break when transporting figures and is very useful for affixing the odd detachable label occasionally.


Finally I was very lucky to get a very nice birthday present a few weeks ago of some of the Sarissa range of their MDF English timber frame buildings, to which I added three more purchased at the show yesterday and I will very much enjoy putting these together a bit later.

https://www.sarissa-precision.com/English_Timber_Framed/cat1603369_2849940.aspx


Another great Colours, spent in the company of friends just talking wargames and stuff and meeting other very nice people involved in the hobby.

I came away with lots of ideas and inspiration and would thank the show organisers at the Newbury and Reading club for a very enjoyable day.