Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire Peninsular War, but with the odd foray into ancient, medieval and WW2 battles.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Miniature Wargames Scenario AAR: Battle of the River Piave 08 May 1809

Issue 383 of Miniature Wargames magazine features Steve Jones' amazing 6mm French and Austrians on the front cover and he has a scenario inside to get them on the table, based on the Battle of the River Piave fought between the French Army of Italy under Napoleon's stepson Eugene and an Austrian Army under the Austrian Emperor's brother, the Archduke John.  I too am the proud owner of French and Austrian Baccus 6mm Napoleonic armies - even if they are nowhere near as pretty as Steve's little gems! - and so after the success of my last game using one of Steve's scenarios (Teugn-Hausen) I decided to give this one a go too.

Taking the forces described by Steve, this ended up as the following order of battle for the Polemos Marechal d'Empire which I used for the refight:

The Austrian Army:

C-in-C Archduke John (Plodding)

Rearguard: Frimont (Plodding)
1 x Trained SK0, 1 x Raw SK2, 2 x Veteran Lt Cav, 1 x Horse Artillery

VIII Korps: A Gyulai (Plodding)
3 x Trained SK0, 1 x Raw SK2, 1 x Veteran Lt Cav, 1 x Foot Artillery

IX Korps: I Gyulai (Plodding)
3 x Trained SK0, 2 x Raw SK2, 1 x Veteran/Elite SK0, 1 x Veteran Dragoons, 1 x Foot Artillery, 1 x Horse Artillery

The Franco-Italian Army:

C-in-C Eugene (Plodding)

Advance Guard: 2 x Veteran SK2, 1 x Trained Light Cavalry

The Right Wing: McDonald (Capable)
1 x Veteran SK1, 5 x Trained SK1, 2 x Foot Artillery

The Centre: Grenier (Capable)
2 x Veteran SK1, 4 x Trained SK1, 1 x Foot Artillery

The Left Wing: D'Hilliers (Capable)
3 x Trained SK1

The Reserve: Serras (Capable)
3 x Trained SK1, 1 x Trained/Elite SK1, 1 x Trained/Elite Dragoons, 1 x Foot Artillery

Sahuc's Light Cavalry Division: 3 x Trained Light Cavalry

Grouchy's Dragoon Division: 3 x Veteran Dragoons

Deployment:

The game starts with the French advance guard having just crossed the river, opposed by the Austrian rear guard deployed along the line of the Piavesella stream.


And the battlefield in its entirety at the beginning of the game.
Eugene's First Triumph and Austrian Glory

Eugene leads his advance guard in person against the Austrian infantry and artillery holding the village and bridge of Campana led by the Archduke John in person.  Frimont has led one of the Austrian hussar units and destroyed the French advance guard light cavalry in short order!

Same position but wider shot: note the French reinforcements at the bottom and the Austrian reinforcement at the top left and centre.

Eugene, at the head of his Voltigeurs, clears the village and the Austrian artillery only just escapes being overrun!  More crucially however, the Archduke John is slightly wounded and this throws the entire Austrian command into confusion, as (unfounded) rumours of his death create paralysis amongst his subordinates!!  Sahuc's cavalry arrive in the nick of time to just manage to push Frimont's Hussars back.
Reinforcements Enter the Battle

Whilst the Austrian commanders are paralyzed, further French reinforcements pile onto the board tothe left and centre...

...and on the right, Grouchy's Dragoons have already crossed the Piave ahead of Grenier's corps.

A French Attack Fails

Serras' Corps on the left tried to take the river crossing at Barco (the crossing of the stream on the left), but the Grenzers defending it not only replused the French assualt, but counter-charged and routed the leading French regiment!  Serras has hurriedly brought up the infantry and cavalry of the Italian Guard to restore the situation.
 The Main Assault

Having prepared his units, Eugene advances over the stream, supported by two cavalry divisions.  IX Korps is finally ready to get moving (notice the pile of blue tempo (i.e. activity) points).

Frimont's rear guard is spent, as McDonald defeats the Austian Hussars.  The grenzers to the left pull back, leaving the Barco crossing uncovered.  McDonald's leading brigade can be seen to the left, just crossing the stream.

Eugene leads the advance guard again, and he again is victorious, defeating the opposing Austrian infantry: however, is horse is killed in the fighting and this gives the Austrians a brief respite.  Austrian cavalry supported by artillery has reached the stream in the centre of the picture and Grouchy declines to cross.  Note the approach of Grenier's infantry toward the Austrian flank at the top right.

The Destruction of IX Korps

Austrian infantry from VIII Korps rushes to stabilize the situation on the left.

The combined attack of Eugene's advanced guard and Grenier's brigades hitting the IX Korps flank rout it: the infantry escape off the top edge of the table, the cavalry and the horse artillery by the stream attempt to escape the French by rushing towards the top right (they fail and are taken prisoner by more of Grenier's infantry).  Surprisingly, the Austrian Army morale doesn't collapse.
 All is lost, except glory...

In a desperate attempt to retrieve the situation, A. Gyulai leads his cavalry personally into combat, charging Sahuc's division at odds of 3:1 against...but the superior skills of the Austrian cavalrymen defy these odds and break Sahuc's leading brigade (seen crossing the river in the centre of the shot) and severly shaking his other two brigades (red shaken marker adjacent).  Sahuc's Division's morale collapsed at this point and they moved towards the rear.  Gyulai's troopers are reforming just above the bridge at Campana.

And the last Austrian formation - VIII Korps - is routed, with its last two brigades hanging on in the top left corner.
 
A closer shot.  Fittingly, D'Hilliers Italian infantry deliver the coup de grace to finish of both the Austrian VIII Korps and the battle to conclude a very comprehensive Franco-Italian victory.
Game Comments:

Two factors - slightly better French infantry troop quality and much better subordinate commanders made all the difference in this game.  The early injury to the Archduke John was a key moment in the game:  the French reinforcements were able to steal 2 turns' (40 minutes) march on the Austrian VIII and IX Korps, who remained paralyzed on the Austrian baseline until Archduke John had recovered and then issued new orders.  The contrast couldn't have been greater with the French when Eugene was injured in the middle of the battle: the French Corps commanders could maintain enough activity to keep on going.  In game terms, 'plodding' commanders - in this case, all four Austrian generals - do not generate any 'tempo' (i.e. activity points) of their own, but the 'capable' French subordinate commanders all do.  It only takes a single point to maintain an advance, so each French Corps commander was able to sustain his main effort for the crucial 20 minutes when Eugene was hors d'combat.  The French pressure meant that the Austrians were never really able to get their artillery or cavalry in the battle too much: on the couple of occassions when the Austrians were able to get their better sabres in contact with the inferior French light cavalry, the results were devastating.

This battle also showed again how important aggression is in the Polemos MdE rules.  Attackers get a +1 bonus in most circumstances, which is equivalent to 'Veteran' or 'Elite' status by itself. They get another +1 if led by a general, so you can stack up +2 on an opposed d6 die roll just by attacking with a general accompanying (the defender cannot nullify this by having a general attached to the defending unit, but the phased combat system in MdE might allow the defender to use him when counterattacking).

In all, another thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing game, reflecting great credit on the scenario and the rules!
 

 

Friday, 29 May 2015

The Battle of Verneuil 1424: "A Second Agincourt" - or how not to try and beat 100YW English troops

I decided to have a go at a battle inspired by the Battle of Verneuil 1424, using the scenario in Miniature Wargames #3 but trying to take into account some of the information in this TMP thread.  Apparently there is a new book on the battle coming out soon, too.

I don't have any troops for the 100 Years War, so I used proxies from my Baccus 6mm Wars of the Roses armies instead.  I used the latest version of DBA as the rules for the game.

The English Army:

3 x Blades (dismounted men-at-arms, including the general)
7 x Longbowmen

The French Army:

4 x Knights (Franco-Italians, including the general)
4 x Blades (3 x Franco-Scottish dismounted men-at-arms, 1 x voulgiers)
2 x Fast Archers
1 x Solid Archers (Scots)
1 x Crossbowmen
2 x Spearmen (Pavisiers)
1 x Cavalry (Gross Varlets) 

To recreate the conditions of the actual battle, I made the following adjustments:

The French attackers to go first.
+1 to  any French attacks in the first turn.
French knights to set-up within charge range of the English.
French mounted troops with a clear path to the English camp must advance and attack it.

Deployment:

The initial set up (apologies for the photo): the English + "False" French at the top right in front of their camp, the French (and Italians and Scots) advancing from the bottom left.


View of the English army from behind the French (left) and Italian (right) knights.


View of the French army from behind the English position.  Note the separation of the French forces in comparison to the English, obviating the advantage of their superior numbers.
 The French Cavalry Charge:


Despite the advantages given in the scenario set-up, the English archers/men-at-arms still saw off the French knights in short order:  the French on the left merely reuplsed, the Italians on the right destroyed (one element in the attack, the second in the subsequent English counterattack).

Another view of the same.

The French General Assault


The French regroup, preparing a general assault using their dismounted knights as the spearhead of the attack.

...but meet total disaster and the French Army breaks.  To be fair to the French men-at-arms, they did manage to knock a couple of gaps into the English line, but as their flanking units crumpled under the combined English longbow/men-at-arms onslaught, it didn't do them much good in the end!
Game Comments
A quick game, flowed easily, over in about 40 minutes.  I managed to do even worse than the French did in real-life - the scenario advantages I gave them just weren't enough to crack the initially unprepared English line.  The longbow/blades combination in DBA is really tough to beat so I need to have a study of the rules to work out how best to do this.  Maybe a strong central wedge of dismounted men-at-arms plus other infantry, with archers flanking and slightly withdrawn with the cavalry in reserve?  As soon as I have some solid ideas, I'll give this one another go!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Quatre Bras Reloaded - A Polemos Marechal d'Empire AAR

Following yesterday's refight of Quatre Bras using Phil Barker's Horse, Foot and Guns, I decided to replay the action using Polemos Marechal d'Empire.  I'm more familiar with the latter set, Polemos having been the Napoleonic rules I've played the most over the last 7 years.  I'll describe the scenario and how the battle played out, then make a few comments about the two rulesets.

Quatre Bras - A Scenario for Marechal d'Empire*:



The Allied Army

C-in-C: Wellington (Decisive)

I Corps: Prince of Orange (Plodding) acts as C-in-C until Wellington’s arrival, then as a roaming leader without TPs.

2 NL Div: 3 x Tra SK1, 1 x Raw SK1, 1 x Ft Art
NL Cav Bde: 1 x Tra LC
5 Div: 3 x Tra SK1, 1 x Vet SK2, 1 x Raw SK1, 1 x Ft Art
Brunswick “Corps”: 1 x Tra SK2, 2 x Tra SK1, 1 x Tra LC, 1 x Tra SK1, 1 x Ft Art (arrive later)
3 Div: 1 x Tra SK2, 2 x Tra SK1, 1 x Ft Art
1 Div: 2 x Tra/El SK1, 1 x Ft Art
Br Cav Reserve: 1 x Tra LC

The French Army

C-in-C: Ney (Capable)

II Corps: Reille (Capable)
6 x Tra SK1, 2 x Tra LC, 1 x Ft Art
3 x Tra SK1, 1 x Ft Art (Jerome’s Div)

II Cav Corps: Kellermann (Capable)
1 x Tra Cuirassier, 1 x Tra Dragoons, 1 x Hs Art

Imperial Gd Cav:
1 x Vet/El LC
1 x Vet/El Lancers

Initial Set-Up: Reille’s Corps less Jerome’s Div; 2 NL Div
Turn 4 (1500): Wellington + 5 Br Inf Div arrive
Turn 5 (1520): NL Cav Bde arrives
Turn 7 (1600): Brunswick Corps arrives less detachment; Jerome’s Div arrives
Turn 8 (1620): Cavalry Corps arrives
Turn 10 (1700): 3 Br Inf Div arrives
Turn 13 (1800): 1 Br Inf Div arrives
Turn 16 (1900): Remaining Brunswickers and IG Cav arrive
Turn 19 (2000): British Cav arrives
Turn 22 (2100): Darkness falls

Deployment:


The battlefield: Quatre Bras is the crossroads at the top (North), Bois de Bossu to the left. 

The initial deployment, as seen from behind Reille's II Corps: two French infantry divisions (Foy's and Bachelu's) flanked by Pire's brigades (lancers to the left, chasseurs to the right).  Facing them are Dutch-Belgians around the farm and in the Bois de Bossu, artillery on the road and some militia in reserve.
   The Opening Stages


Reille brings up Bachelu's division to attack Gemincourt farm, whilst Pire's chasseurs start a flanking move to the right.  Bachelu's attack was severely delayed by a mixture of command problems and some unerringly accurate Duth-Belgian artillery fire flying down the causeway, forcing the French to recoil repeatedly!  An hour has passed with the French not achieving very much, and the first reinforcements (Picton's Division) can be seen in the distance behind Quatre Bras.


A panoramic of the initial French success: Bachelu's infantry have cleared the farm and forced the Dutch-Belgians back.  However, Picton's troops are rushing to reinforce them and to stabilize the Allied left flank from the threat of Pire's cavalry.  Jerome Bonaparte's Division has arrived (bottom), as has the main body of the Brunswickers (behind Quatre Bras).  The time is about 1600, two hours of the battle have passed (7 turns).

Same position, close-up shot of the situation around Gemincourt farm.

Half of Picton's Division has destroyed Pire's Chasseurs and is entering the edge of Piraumont.  Foy is rushing from the left to try and contest this.

Wellington's Attack:

Picton's infantry and artillery fight Bachelu's infantry and artillery for possession of Gemincourt: Reille adds his leader's presence to the contest.

Same position showing the wider context.

Whilst the farm is being contested, Brunswick's troops charge down the causeway and rout Pire's lancers.  Ney prepares to  move forward with Jerome's Division to restore the situation.

Both sides try to frantically reorganize.  Bachelu's troops have been repulsed and Picton's leading brigade is in sole possession of Gemincourt...for the present.  Reille has been severely injured and Ney has been forced to appoint Jerome Bonaparte as corps commander in his place.  Some of Picton's troops are regrouping around the stream.

Kellermann's cavalry push some British infantry back into the woods, but are then repusled themselves.  Foy still contests Piraumont with Allied infantry.

Ney advances against the Brunswickers and Dutch-Belgians on the left, whilst the remainder of the French troops reorganize.

Ney now focuses his attention on the centre and attacks the leading British troops - he is about to gain a spectacular success, routing the British infantry and forcing Welllington himself to scurry for the rear along with Merlen's Dutch-Belgian cavalry.

The Culmination

The Imperials make a last gasp attempt to gain the victory on their right flank: a determined attack forces the British infantry back onto the Namur Road.


Foy cannot sustain his attack, however.  Approaching Anglo-Hanoverian troops force Foy to protect his left wing, which gives the other Allied troops time to regroup and organize another assault on Piraumont, which is successful and routs one of Foy's brigades, splitting the Imperial line.

A further British assault on Gemincourt, ably assissted by the Nassauers, repulse Bachelu's Division, led by Marshal Ney in person and this time II Corps' morale collapses.  A charge of the Imperial Guard light cavalry fails to dislodge the Brunswickers from the road.  Ney concedes defeat, his still powerful cavalry able to dissuade the Allies from too close a pursuit and at least certain that the Allies do not have enough time to march to Ligny and interfere in his master's battle with Bucher.
Foy and Kellermann evade the flank attack.
 Game Comments:

Another very exciting game, although again the French had little chance of success after a stronger than expected initial resistance severely limited the French ability to inflict great damage early on.  This was compounded by some terrible dice rolls for the initiative (Polemos MdE uses a bidding/activation point command and control system), so it took over an hour of game time (3 turns) for the French to organize even their initial attack, and were unable to organize simultaneous flanking moves.  This was compounded by a terrible scenario choice by myself: in most Polemos MdE games, formations do not have any tempo points (i.e. activation points) assigned, and big formations (say 4 infantry bases and an artillery base) need a few turns to organize.  But this standing start meant that the French took an hour longer to attack than they did in real life, and when added to the need to re-organize after the Dutch artillery bombardment, it took the French until 1600 to clear Gemincourt - about an hour longer than it took in reality, by which time the leading Allied troops (some of Picton's brigades) were about ready to mount their own attack.  In this way, the French-dominated phase of the historical battle never really happened.  Some lucky/unlucky dice rolling spelt an early end for Pire's light cavalry too.  However, Polemos MdE rarely fails to give a good game, rewarding aggressive play, and this was no different.  It was unclear whether the Allies could actually defeat the French before nightfall - they managed it by 3 turns (an hour).

Comparison of HFG and Polemos MdE:

I think HFG scores in speed of play, more streamlined systems and more organized, tighter-written rules (especially in how bases interact with each other and the environment).  I think Polemos scores in being an easier read, its more nuanced activation point system allows slightly more command options - at the cost of more calculations and more use of counters. It feels that there is a little less luck involved in combats i.e. it is slightly easier to stack up enough advantages to make a positive outcome more likely.  HFG felt more chancy, in this regard.    It allows more nuanced grading of troops, although I am open to argument about whether this is more realistic or not.  Both rules need troops to be given "command attention" to do anything (i.e. no lasting orders) and I know many gamers hate this (there is a slight exception to this in HFG).  Both firmly - and successfully - focus on the big picture, with little option for tactical micro-managment; in my opinion, an unalloyed good thing.  I don't think either deal with infantry skirmishing entirely successfully, but on the other hand I don't know of any rules which deal with this better.

In case you were wondering about the game time in both games, HFG specifies that a turn last 10 minutes, Polemos MdE that a turn lasts 30-40 minutes.  Experimentation and calculation based on infantry move distances with the latter has led me to believe that each turn should be about 20 minutes.  There is little need for a "friction factor" in MdE, because the tempo points/order system provides this in spades already: your units will be sitting round whilst their commanders get organized!  The march move system in HFG makes it hard to work out a suitable time for a turn, because it appears to allow the possiblity of marching units moving very fast indeed, if the general tells them to.

If you have any queries about the two games, please just leave a comment and I will do my best to answer.

*Some of you may know that there is a Quatre Bras scenario for General de Division (the Polemos ruleset in which a base is a battalion rather than a brigade) rather than Marechal d'Empire in the Polemos rulebook.  I generally prefer to have fewer units on the table, for solitaire games in particular, so I went for less-is-more and used the higher-level set.  I still feel that this gives a better game as you have to occupy less command levels simultaneously.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Quatre Bras AAR

After a long hiatus - mainly from a very busy work and family schedule - I finally managed to get a game played yesterday.  I decided upon refighting Quatre Bras, inspired by the upcoming 200th anniversary and the recently released Osprey, a battle I have recreated before but haven't played for a few years.   The last time I played, I used Polemos General de Division and the Quatre Bras scenario within the rulebook.  This time I fancied trying something a little different and a little more broad brush, so I gave Phil Barker's draft version of Horse, Foot & Guns a go.  As ever, I used my collection of Baccus Napoleonic figures: the troops are accurate for the Dutch-Belgians, Brunswickers and the Hanoverian militia (with massive liberties taken with the standards), but many of the British and French troops are from my armies uniformed and carrying the flags appropriate for the Penisular War period - I beg the indulgence of the purist!

The Orders of Battle:

The Allied Army:



Brilliant Army CP - Wellington (30)
I Corps CP - Prince of Orange (15)
2 NL Div:
1 x Bayonets (Dutch) (4)
1 x Inferior Bayonets (Dutch Militia) (3)
2 x Bayonets (Nassau) (8)
1 x Smoothbore Artillery (Dutch) (8)
NL Cav Div:
1 x Light Cavalry (Dutch) (5)
1 Br Inf Div:
2 x Elite Bayonets (British Guards) (10)
0-1 x Smoothbore Artillery (British/KGL) (8)
3 Br Inf Div:
2 x Light Infantry (Hanoverian) (10)
1 x Bayonets (British) (4)
0-1 x Field Artillery (British/KGL) (8)
5 Br Inf Div:
3 x Bayonets (British) (12)
1 x Elite Marksmen (British Rifles) (3)
1 x Field Artillery (British/KGL/Hanoverian) (8)
6 Br Inf Div:
1 x Inferior Bayonets (Hanoverian Militia) (3)
Brunswick Corps & Nassau Contingent
2 x Light Infantry (Brunswick) (10)
1 x Bayonets (Brunswick) (4)
1 x Light Cavalry (Brunswick) (5)
1 x Field Artillery (Brunswick) (8)
1 x Bayonets (Nassau) (4)
Br Reserve Cavalry:
1 x Light Cavalry (British)

The Imperial French Army:

Wing CP - Ney
II Corps:
II Corps CP - Reille
9 x Bayonets (3 per Inf Div)
1 x Field Artillery
2 x Light Cavalry (Pire's Cav Div)
1 x Heavy Artillery 
II Cavalry Corps:
II Cavalry Corps CP - Kellermann
1 x Dragoons
1 x Cuirassiers
1 x Horse Artillery
2 x Elite Light Cavalry (IG Lt Cav Div)

Deployment/Arrival Timeline:

1400: French Attack Begins
(Allies: 2 NL Div; Imperials: II Corps less Jerome's Div)
1500: Wellington, 5 Br Inf Div & Hanoverian Militia arrives at QB; Ney arrives
1530: Merlen's Cav arrives
1600: Brunswick Corps arrives less two bns + arty; Jerome's Div arrives
1630: II Cav Corps arrives
1700: 3 Br Inf Div arrives
1800: 1 Br Inf Div arrives
1900: Remainder Brunswick Inf + Arty arrive; IG Gd Cav arrives
2000: Br Cav arrives

The Battlefield:

This will probably be quite familiar to many wargamers: Bois de Bossu on the left, Quatre Bras at the top-centre, Gemincourt and the stream in the middle-left next to the the Charleroi road, with the Namur road going from top-left to bottom-right. 
 The Deployment:

The view from behind Reille's advancing corps.  Dutch-Belgian troops hold the farm and the wood-line, with artillery and infantry in reserve towards Quatre Bras.

French Success:

Foy's infantry rout the Dutch-Belgian infantry near Gemincourt after a short, sharp engagement.  Unfortunately the Prince of Orange failed to rally them in the following turn!  Some of Pire's lancers can be seen just to the left, observing the Dutch-Belgian infantry in the woods.

The French advance a little further but some fine fighting by the Dutch-Belgian militiamen hold the French on the south side of the stream.  The Prince of Orange orders some of the infantry in the Bois de Bossu to advance and force away those French lancers.
 The French Flanking Move:

Marshal Ney tries to urge Bachelu's infantry and Pire's Chasseurs forward round the empty right flank.  Picton's division - preceded by the Duke of Wellington - can be seen entering Quatre Bras at the top of the picture.  The time is 1510 (turn 7): can the Allies shore up the flank in time?

Ney manages to get troops across the stream first!  Can the Allies use their artillery advantage here to restore the situation?

Yes they can!  The "man of the match" performance of this battle belonged to the Hanoverian militia brigade and their supporting artillery (in reality, this was Col Carl Best's 4th (Hanoverian) Infantry Bde, consisting of the Verden, Luneburgm Osterode and Munden Landwehr battalions, here supported by the 2nd Hanoverian Foot Artillery and No.2 Coy, 3 Bn RA (Rogers' Battery)
 The Central Clash:

A lot of action has occurred in the centre, but there is still stalemate at this point: the Dutch-Belgians in the woods did manage to drive off the French lancers, but were then forced to retire by French artillery fire.  Pire managed to rally the lancers, who then advanced to prevent any Allied advance to the west of the farm.  Exactly mirroring real events, the British infanttry and the French infantry are stuck in a fierce, bloody, see-saw fight in the high grass and fields.  The heroic Dutch-Belgian militiamen were defeated in the end, but their excellent performance basically prevent any Imperial advance until the arrival of Picton's troops. Ney's last throw - Jerome Bonaparte's Division - is advancing up the cause way.
 The Endgame:


Stalemate on the right: the French were never able to make a concerted advance, Ney judging that bold moves by Bachelu's troops (centre) would probably only lead to their destruction, with very little real chance of success.  Ney moved up Picquet's Dragoons to launch a combined assault with Bachelu's infantry, but by the time this was set-up, events elsewhere had left the move redundant...

The position at 1700 (turn 18):  Jerome's attack (far left) on Bossu has been driven off with heavy casualties by the Dutch-Belgians lining the wood.  However, Foy's last brigade in the centre has been routed and there is no more infantry to plug the gap. At this point, Ney decided to slowly retire and there was no further significant action.

Same position, slightly different angle.


 Game Comments:

An exciting game, although strong performances by inferior Allied infantry in the middle of the game really spoiled the Imperials' chances of victory and they did significantly less well in this recreation than in the real battle.  

The rules really do rattle along quite quickly.  For anyone unfamiliar with them, they are based heavily on the "DBx" engine of WRG rules, with the basic command and control mechanic being the roll of a D6 every turn to generate acticity points.  There are some qualifications to this, but that is it in a nutshell.  Combat is based on D6 opposed rules, modified by a list of factors then the results looked up in a table.  The factors quickly become second nature and I didn't actually have to look up the rules too often when I got into the swing of it.  Phil Barker's writing has been described as a "love-it or loath-it" legalistic style: on balance, it is easy enough to follow after a little while and the rules are tightly written, there were very few instances when I had to puzzle out how to play out a given situation. Initially I didn't feel that involved in the game - I'm not sure why, perhaps as a result of the writing style or more probably the length of time since I had a full game using these rules - but after a couple of turns, I got really into the game.  The game took just under two hours of playing time, which isn't bad at all, considering that I haven't played these rules properly for a long time.  Tactically they work a little differently from other rules, so I expect to be able to play better in future games now that I have worked out/remembered some of the subtleties.

The simple dice throw for activity points works really well as a solitaire mechanic: it easily creates the friction that helps to create that immersive solo experience.  It worked nearly as well as the similar but more involved system in the Polemos rules, but took significantly less time so perhaps on balance comes out ahead for solitaire play.  That Polemos' tempo bidding system is hard to beat for a face-to-face game, however.

The draft version of Horse, Foot and Guns had been on the WRG/Phil Barker website for ages as a free download but it seems to have been removed recently - perhaps publication isn't that far off  now?  I think that they are still available on the Yahoo Group.