Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Monday 31 December 2018

Review of 2018

It has been a busy year but I managed to get a reasonable amount of gaming in, all things considered.  It was more irregular than in previous years but that was mainly a function of when I could get time off work and partly due to receiving a couple of injuries. Anyway, I didn't get quite as much gaming in as I managed in 2017, but still managed to play a pretty reasonable number, about 70 I think.  So, comparing what actually happened to what I had planned to happen, how did I get on?

Looking Back: The Plans for 2018

1 - Caesar's Gallic War campaign.
It didn't happen, although I did play a test game just of the basic boardgame to get a feel for both the structure of the game itself and if I had enough troops to play it.

2 - Re-fight of the ECW campaign using the boardgame The King's War.
Successfully completed!  It was an enjoying and absorbing campaign which took up most of my gaming time this year.

3 - The Battlegames' Martinstaadt campaign.
After a long hiatus, I managed to get this re-started, fight another battle and move the campaign forward a few days.

4 - The Scottish Corridor campaign (converting to Nuts!).
Didn't happen.  Partly this was a lack of time, but partly also a problem with the game.  I just don't think Nuts! works as well for platoon fights as it does for squad/section-level combat.  However, the basic campaign mechanics presume a mixture of squad and platoon level fights.  I am sure this will be easy enough to sort out, but I just haven't had the time to spend on doing this yet.
5 - Design and fight an air warfare campaign.
Didn't happen, although I did do a reasonable amount of air warfare.  Because my set-up is nothing very interesting visually these kind of games are least likely to end up on the blog, but I played about two dozen or so games of Achtung! Spitfire & Lacquered Coffins combined, trying to decide which one I like better, or at least, which game I prefer for which type of scenario.

6 - Try out some new rules.
Didn't happen very much.  The only new rules I tried out were:
WRG's Infantry Action rules
Don Featherstone's Skirmish Wargaming rules (for WW2)
Polemos Ruse de Guerre (comments later)
Two sets of experimental WW2 infantry skirmish rules written by John D Salt.  I did write up one of them but that disappeared into the aether and I haven't got around to re-writing it.  As it was a while ago, I may need to play a couple more games to refresh my thoughts. 

7 - Continue to play through old magazine scenarios.
Happened a little bit but basically took a back seat to campaign games.

8 - Look at the Thirty Years War, as an adjunct/extension to my ECW/WotTK gaming.
Yes, I looked at it...I did get some useful recommendations for board games to use as campaign engines.

 9 - Give the War of 1812/FIW/AWI a go, using the Polemos Ruse de Guerre rules.
I did get this to the table a couple of times, which was a success although I could have used getting some more games in.  I really liked this ruleset, it seems the most streamlined and logical of all the Polemos rules.

10 - Get as many boardgames to the table as I can, in particular ones that have hardly had a run out.
I did manage to get a few boardgames played although not as many as I might have liked. There were specific problems about space and time which meant that boardgames were harder to do.  Also, I often turn to a PC game rather than a boardgame.

11 - Be completely and totally lead mountain & plastic pile free by December 20th next year.
It didn't quite happen, although this was more a function of delays in Baccus 6mm's production schedule - the Covenanter Horse did not come out until very late in the year so I didn't have enough time to finish painting them.  I managed to get a fair bit done although perhaps not as much as in previous years and there still remains a stubborn core of stuff to finish!  Maybe next year...

12 - Play lots of THW wargames as a way of playing more games with an emotional investment - normally I try and avoid this in my solitaire games, but THW games positively encourage it.
Didn't happen, partly for reasons of time, partly for the reasons in '4' above.

13 - Develop properly some of my extensive modifications to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, in case anyone else may be interested...
Did some messing around, nothing very structured.  Given that WFRP 4th Edition has just come out, I can't imagine that there will be much interest at present!

14 - I am also toying with the idea of branching out into another theatre - France 1940, Desert War and Eastern Front all suggest themselves.  The Spanish Civil War is also vaguely interesting me here.
This happened to an extent, I did get and paint up a few vehicles appropriate for France 1940.

15 - And I still have some ambitions to begin C19 colonial warfare...
Didn't happen!

So, all-in-all, I acheived a reasonable chunk of what I wanted to achieve this year, although, as ever, there were lots of things that I would have loved to get done but didn't have the time or energy to get around to.  However, doing a full refight of the English Civil War and my recent series of refights of the smaller actions of the 1805 campaign from the Rise of Eagles 1805 scenario book were great, absorbing fun and feel like good gaming achievements. That said, I think some of the problem here is in misperceiving what is actually achievable for me, in terms of games and projects and so on.  Dilution theory is still real, as is the semi-hard limit on how much manual gaming I am realistically going to be able to do. 

Shopping & Painting in 2018:

So far as I remember, I bought and painted:

The Foot for a 6mm Covenanter army (the Horse and Guns are  bought, they are on the painting tray at the moment)
Some extra 6mm ECW Horse and Foot
Some extra 6mm Roman Legionaries
Some 6mm Roman auxiliaries
Some extra 6mm Gallic foot warriors
A small contingent of 6mm Native Americans
Additional 6mm Napoleonic Austrian Infantry
Additional 6mm Napoleonic British Infantry
A number of extra Napoleonic units created from my bits box
A small force (of 40-50) 28mm Medieval Arabs
Some more 15mm WW2 vehicles and artillery, including a Matilda I, a Matilda II, an early StugIII, a couple of Panzer IIs, a Honey, a 25lb field gun, a 6lb and a 17lb anti-tank gun, some 75mm German anto-tank guns, a couple of their little infantry support guns, some Panzer IVs and Panthers, some more Shermans, a Churchill, a Cromwell, a couple of scout cars...probably some more bits and pieces I have missed...
Lots of 6mm buildings

I bought three of the Michael Hopper scenario books, one for 1805 and two for the 1809 campaign.

I also (re-)bought the WW2 air warfare boardgames Achtung! Spitfire and Whistling Death. 

I recently did a post which listed all the wargaming stuff I own.  It was an interesting exercise for me to see just exactly what I had in terms of projects, rulebooks, armies, boardgames and so on.   

General Plans for 2019:

I have four broad plans for this coming year.  The first is to continue my campaigning, starting by completing the Martinstaadt campaign and then moving on, probably to the refight of the Gallic War.  The second is to have a year playing a wider variety of rules and games, so it is back to the magazine scenarios and the rules-hoard across the spread of periods.  The third is to ensure that all the collections have sufficient figures, terrain and a ruleset I enjoy.  The fourth is to get rid of anything that doesn't fit - no orphan collections by the end of 2019 is the basic goal. Hopefully the logic of the second, third and fourth plans is obvious.

I have plenty of things on the go at the moment, including some demanding home, work and educational commitments, so it may be that the number of games will go down a bit.  Hopefully not by too much!

One thing I am not convinced about is having both 15mm and 28mm collections.  I may have been better off using 20mm.  The only thing about 20mm is the lack of fantasy stuff, but how much fantasy/SF do I actually get to the table, other than in self-contained boardgames? Plus, I have never totally conquered flaky paint syndrome on soft plastics! On the other hand, I am aware of the vast wisdom of being very reluctant to get rid of painted collections with supporting terrain, since the time and effort costs of painting make the actual money relatively unimportant.

The other big question mark is about air warfare games.  Models look better, but counters are more flexible.  Getting the complexity level right for the various levels of combat has proven...tricky, because a squadron leader is both a commander and fighter but getting rules to effectively reflect both are not easy, especially with the atmospheric requirement for WW2 air wargames to be (relatively) fast and furious.

Specific Plans for 2019:

So converting those broader plans into more specific stuff:

1.  Try out the following rules with my 6mm Ancients & Medieval armies: Hail Caesar, Practical Wargaming, Lost Battles.

2.  Start my proposed refight of Caesar's Gallic War.

3. Try out DBV and Lion Rampant with my 28mm stuff.

4.  Buy or make some additional terrain suitable for 28mm stuff.  Ideally this should be realtively 'timeless', since it will have to serve across a wide range of periods.

5.  Try out DBR and Practical Wargaming with my 6mm WotTK/ECW armies.  The only problem with this is that my current basing (a battalia of mixed pike and shot on a single base) isn't particularly suitable for these sets.  I am vaguely considering trying to write my own set to combine elements of DBR with Polemos: ECW for the first half of the C17.  On the other hand, the Twilight of Divine Right rules look very interesting and look as if they would be suitable for my current basing.  I don't imagine I will paint up entirely new armies for the Thirty Years War.  What I may do instead is just create lots of command stands and then use them with my existing ECW figures and add in extra stuff (more cuirassiers, Croats etc.) as I need them.

6.  Play the scenarios I haven't tried yet from Wargaming Pike & Shot.

7.  Buy a few 28mm ECW figures to try out Once Upon a Time in theWest Country.

8.  Finish my small 6mm War of 1812 US Army and then play some more games of Polemos Ruse de Guerre.

9.   Try out the following rules with my 6mm Napoleonic armies (with appropriate modifications to work with my basing scheme):Morale Napoleon, Shako, WRG 1685-1845, Shot Stone & Steel, Blucher, Lasalle, Grande Armee, the Grant rules, the Quarrie rules, Practical Wargaming, Black Powder, Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun.

10.  Try out the following rules with my 28mm Napoleonic forces: Sharpe Practice, Flintlock & Ramrod, Skirmish Wargaming.

11.  Finish my Battlegames' "Martinstaadt Land Grab" campaign.

12.  Try out the following rules with my 6mm WW2 armies: Spearhead, Tank Battles in Miniature, WRG 1925-50 2nd edition, Megablitz, Rommel and Combat Command.  This might involve a fair amount of prepatory work for some of the sets.

13.  Try out the following rules with my 15mm WW2 armies: Troops Weapons & Tactics, Bolt Action and Chain of Command.

14.  Play the scenarios from the Hit the Dirt! scenario book.

15.  Consider getting some 15mm and/or 6mm forces for Vietnam for Bodycount and Firefight and maybe The Sharp End.  I might get a copy of FNG, too.  This would also need me to make or buy some appropriate terrain.

16. Play more airwar scenarios and try and determine my favourite way(s) of recreating air war in miniature.

17.  Find a way to get my 1/4800 Napoleonic naval fleets into action.

18.  Fill in some gaps in my existing collections that I have previously identified, in preparation for some things I have in the back of my mind to do in 2020.  These include some more Napoleonic Russians (especially artillery), Austrians and Confederation of the Rhine troops; and some bits and pieces for my 6mm WW2 forces.

19.  My two eldest children are quite into the idea of RPGs at the moment, so I would like to run a few games for them.

Shopping for 2019

So what I am in the market for (and includes a couple of purchases rolled over from last year):

1 - 6mm TYW Cuirassiers and other Horse.

2 - 6mm TYW command stands and flags.

3 - 6mm Montrose / Highlanders (when Baccus 6mm release them).

4 - A copy of Et Sans Resultat.

5 - 6mm WW2 British & Germans: some bits and pieces for early and mid war. I don't mind proxying the infantry, but some more vehicles and some infantry anti-tank rifles may be in order.

6 - Consider some 6mm Colonial stuff.

7 - The Fall of Rome boardgame.

8 - Some other boardgames are vaguely under consideration.

9 - Some figures for ECW skirmish.  Could be 15mm, 20mm or 28mm.

10 - Some 28mm terrain, including some fairly generic farm buildings.

11 - A copy of Twilight of Divine Right.

12 - 6mm Napoleonics, to expand my Russians, Austrians, US & French Allies.

13 - Some additional 1/600 aircraft, or boardgames, or neither, depending upon how my games go.

For personal reasons, a lot of these purchases will have to wait for the latter part of the year, when I get back to the UK.

Many thanks to all who have read this blog this year, especially those who have offered advice and encouragement in the comments section, or on The Wargames Website or on The Miniatures Page - I hope there has at least been something of interest on this blog in return.   I have continued to enjoy the output of the wargaming podcasters too: Meeples & Miniatures, Battlegames, the Veteran Wargamer, Trouble at t'Mill, Wargaming Recon and The Grognard Files.  Being away, I didn't get to any shows except the Joy of Six (a trip to the UK fortuitously coincided!), which I enjoyed immensely. I have particularly found great inspiration on friendly and helpful The Wargaming Website and in the prolific wargaming blogging community.

And a Happy New Year to All!

Sunday 30 December 2018

The Battle of Stecken 1805 - A Polemos General de Division AAR

Battle of Stecken: The Battle of Stecken is the final scenario in Michael Hopper's Rise of Eagles 1805.  There isn't a really good account of the Battle of Stecken online that I could find, but there is a little bit about in John H Gill's A Soldier for Napoleon.  It was in effect a surprise Austrian counter-attack against a Bavarian position at Stecken a few days after Austerlitz.  Gill indicates that the Bavarian commander Wrede, had little choice but to withdraw after a sharp engagement.

The Forces:


C-in-C: Wrede (Capable)

Marsigli's Bde: 1 base of Trained SK2 Infantry, 4 bases of Trained SK1 Infantry, 1 base of Trained Light Cavalry
Minucci's Bde:  1 base of Trained SK2 Infantry, 4 bases of Trained SK1 Infantry, 1 base of Trained Light Cavalry, 1 base of Trained 8lb Foot Artillery
Seydewitz' Bde: 2 bases of Trained Dragoons, 1 base of Trained Light Cavalry, 1 base of  Trained 4lb Horse Artillery

Austro-Hungarian Empire:

C-in-C: Ferdinand (Plodding)

1st Division: Schwarzenberg (Capable)
1st Bde: 4 bases of Trained SK1 Infantry

2nd Bde: 4 bases of Trained SK1 Infantry

Cavalry Division: Hohenzollern (Capable)
1 base of Trained 3lb Horse Artillery
1st Bde: 2 bases of Trained Cuirassiers
2nd Bde: 1 base of Trained Dragoons, 1 base of Trained Lancers, 1 base of Trained Light Cavalry


The Bavarians start around and on the road to Stecken.  Marsigli's Bde is around the houses, Minucci's Bde is on the road.  The Austrian infantry is just emerging from the woods (top-right)

A closer look at Minucci's Brigade

And at Marsigli's.

Ferdinand accompanying Schwarzenberg and his division as they break cover to start the battle
The Battle:
Schwarzenberg forms up his troops for a steady, measured advance.  This is not caution so much as an appreciation that the distance between the woods and the Bavarian positions is a bit too great to achieve anything by rapid movement and surprise.

The Bavarian infantry's musketry proves more ferocious than that of the Kaiserlichs: the first Austrian battalion is in rout (centre-top)

Hohenzollern's Cavalry Division has arrived, but is faced by steady Bavarian infantry, supported by Light Horse.

The action begins more generally with a determined Bavarian counter-attack...

Although the Austrians have defeated the Bavarian push on the far right (right); the ther Austrian units have been pushed back in some disorder

The Bavarians renew their attack and Minucci's light infantry battalion (the 4th Light Infantry) has attacked in splendid style, creating a gap right in the middle of the Austrian line (centre); however, the Austrian infantry have shown great courage in holding out along the rest of the line, despite suffering heavy casualties

Although there is no stopping the attack of the 4th Light Infantry (top-centre), the rest of Schwarzenberg's Division presses forward, routing couple of Bavarian battalions and severely disordering a couple more..

A closer view

Schwarzenberg sees little but choice but to push on his attack (centre-right), driving the Bavarians back before him

Ferdinand (edge of woods) rallies the Austrians facing the invincible 4th Light Infantry, but elsewhere there is a stand off

Schwarzenberg pushes up the hill forcing back the Bavarian guns (left) but falling back in the face of withering Bavarian musketry

Another successful Bavarian attack, led by Wrede in person, (centre-left) routs another Austrian battalion.  Another Austrian battalion swings around ready to take it in the flank, but morale is wavering across the line..

...and everyone's morale collapses at the same time.  Minucci's troops and Schwarzenberg's troops collapse at the same time!

Bavarians running (bottom) and Austrians running (top-right)

A wider view.  The blue flags (centre-left) show where the remainder of the Bavarian troops are in retreat

Unfortunately for Ferdinand, his cavalry division can make no impression on the Bavarians and thus he calls of the action, his armys morale being weaker than the Bavarians (whose reinforcing cavalry brigade has now arrived)
Game Notes: An interesting scenario and a good game.  I played it three times and made more or less serious errors of set-up on each occasion which materially affected the result.  First time out, I forgot that the Bavarian sub-commanders were brigadiers and treated them instead as major-generals.  The extra order, combat and rallying capabilities led them to make short work of the French.  I can't remember what I did wrong in the second game, although it seemed to lead to the Bavarians collapsing almost instantly in that one.  In this one, although I don't think it made much difference, I forgot to give the Austrians the horse artillery unit which might have made them able to break the other Bavarian brigade - without it, they stood little chance against the steady Bavarian infantry.  There were no particular rules issues here although it did remind me of one thing that I don't think is very clear in the rules as written.  Support for attacks is calculated at the beginning of the attacking movement which is okay, although it does mean you have to remember a few bits of stuff.  This means that some supporting units 'go forward' with the attack (i.e. if you paid order points for them as the force they were in was directly attacking) and some won't (since they are giving support from their starting position because they weren't in the same force that 'attacked').  It works okay, but is a good example of the kind of thing where a new player could get confused.

This is the last game from this scenario book that I will be playing for the present time.  I am hoping to get the two biggest battles, Caldiero and Austerlitz, to the table in the relatively near future but I need to do a little bit of work on the terrain to make them work for a "big battles" rule set like Horse, Foot & Guns or Polemos Marechal de l'Empire (basically the terrain in the book doesn't cover sufficient depth).  The scenario book is great for the wargamer.  They are clearly written and have pretty much all the details required for your ruleset of choice, despite being firmly based on Shako II.  Within the confines of history, the scenarios are quite well-balanced too.  There is a very wide range of actions in terms of size of forces and size of battlefields too: truly there is something for everyone in it.  It is also a good way of following the events of the campaigns generally to get a feel for the history.

The Battle of Raussnitz 1805 - A Polemos General de Division AAR

Battle of Raussnitz: The latest in this series of refights of the battles of the 1805 campaign from the Rise of Eagles 1805 scenario book by Michael Hopper concerns the Battle of Raussnitz, a large cavalry clash taking place on 20th November 1805.  The real battle appears to have been a close-run thing, with the Russians capturing an Eagle but ultimately withdrawing from the battlefield.  I do not know of any good online summary of the battle.

For reasons which will become apparent, I played out this battle twice...

The Forces:

Imperial French:

C-in-C: Murat (Decisive)

2nd Dragoon Division: Walther (Capable)
2 bases of Trained Dragoons

V Corps' Cavalry Division: Fauconnet (Capable)
3 bases of Trained Light Cavalry

2nd Heavy Cavalry Division: D'Hautpoul (Decisive) arrive at the end of Turn 6
4 bases of Trained Cuirassiers

Imperial Guard Cavalry Division: Bessieres (Decisive) arrive at the end of Turn 12
2 bases of Trained/Elite Heavy Cavalry*
1 base of Trained/Elite Light Cavalry

*I think I was in a harsh mood here - I think Veteran/Elite would be fairer for December 1805.

Imperial Russia:

C-in-C: Tsar Alexander (Capable)

4th Cavalry Bde: 5 bases of Trained Light Cavalry

5th Cavalry Bde: 2 bases of Trained Cuirassiers, 3 bases of Trained Dragoons

Cossack Bde: 2 bases of Trained Irregular Cavalry

1st Cavalry Bde: 3 bases of Trained Lancers

2nd Cavalry Bde: 3 bases of Trained Light Cavalry, 3 bases of Trained Dragoons

The battlefield of Raussnitz.  The French force is at the bottom, the Russians at the top.  The villages of Kralovpol (bottom-left), Raussnitz (bottom-centre) and Rausojovec (bottom-right) mark the French position, the village of Tuczan (top-centre) divides that of the Russians.  A stream lies paralled along the French right and there is a range of hills above Kralovopol on the left.

Russian cavalry: Hussars (left and top-right), Dragoons (top-left) and Cuirassiers (right)

Russian Dragoons to the fore, with Uhlans behind them and Cossacks to the flank (right)

French Dragoons to the left

And French light cavalry to the right

View of Kralovopol and the high ground on the French left
The Battle:
Russian Dragoons successfully charge the French light cavalry, scouting the French Chasseurs a Cheval and Hussars...

Murat and Walther hope that their presence will equalize the 2:5 odds they are facing...

A closer look...

The French light cavalry division has been thoroughly beaten by the French Dragoons...

The last remaining regiment of French Chasseurs is fighting it out still, but is under very severe pressure...

The French Dragoons fare no better on the left!  Walther, Murat and the French troopers begin their mad dash for safety...

And the last French light cavalrymen join the rout too...

Game Notes: That was short and sweet!  The cavalry vs cavalry rules are quite ferocious in Polemos General de Division.  Although it can be indecisive, with both sides fighting then withdrawing (which does seem to have happened quite often in reality), when one side has a 'weight' advantage then they really do have a good chance of crushing their opponents under their horses' hooves.  Thus the obviously most effective strategy in this scenario is for Alexander to advance his Horse as quickly as possible and crush the French before their reinforcements arrive.  Given some favourable tempo rolls, he was able to achieve this quite easily, although it is obviously a very 'wargame-y' artifact: in reality Murat's troopers would have just withdrawn on their supports and fought the affair a mile back down the road. 
To be honest, I will admit my lack of certainty about all of this.  No matter how much I read on the subject, I cannot decide what level of advantage Cuirassiers should have over Dragoons over Light Cavalry (based purely on 'weight', not 'training'; although I don't have much idea of how much morale and expertise would or could compensated for this).

Anyway, given the shortness of this replay, I re-loaded the game and started again...but this time with the French reinforcements assumed to have arrived already.

The Battle of Raussnitz II:

The Set-Up:
As before but with D'Hautpoul's Cuirassiers also on the French Left

...and with Bessieres' Imperial Guardsmen added to the forces on the French Right

The new set-up in its entirety
The Battle:
With the increased forces, Murat fights this battle much more confidently.  En avant!

The Russians, not confident enough in their superiority to merely attack, organize themselves into a strong formation..

Murat also advances on his Right

A closer look.

Russian Dragoons and Uhlans await the French light cavalry troopers and Imperial Guardsmen

Masses of Russian cavalry face D'Hautpoul's outnumbered, but heavier, cuirassiers...

As the French right advances, the Russians organize themselves (centre-top)

Bessieres and Fauconnet manouvre as on a Versailles parade ground...

...and adopt their positions

The masses of cavalry meet on the French left!

A closer view.  Murat, Walther and D'Hautpoul all enter the fray with gusto...

As ever in massed cavalry melees, fortunes are mixed: one regiment of Cuirassiers is in rout (bottom) but another regiment has pierced the Russian line (top)

Murat, fighting with a regiment of cuirassiers (right) defeats another regiment of Russian cuirassiers (top-right)...depsite the disparity in numbers, the fact that only the French still have unbroken Cuirassiers will give them a great advantage...

Meanwhile, the clash on the opposite flank begins...

A closer look.  Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval are always distinctive in any scale!

The meles on the French left becomes more disorganized and dispersed...honours are still relatively even so far

On the right, similarly mixed fortunes: The Horse Grenadiers have seen off their opponents (top-left) but the Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval have suffered the fate of all pretty troops on a wargames table: seen off in short-order by some scruffy line dragoons! (bottom)

However, the Russian Right is in deep trouble...seeing some of their fellows defeated, one brigade of light cavalry joins them in rout!

After a few more minutes, the French triumph on the Left becomes total...

And is mirrored on the Right!  The French light cavalry was under severe pressure but held on, whilst the Russians could endure no more and rode hard for the rear!

The ennd of the battle: the French more or less maintain some semblance of order, whilst the surviving Russians are scattered and riding hard for the rear: only the Uhlans and Cossacks are still under control (top-right) and they will not be able to resist for long...
Game Notes: A bit harder work for the French than the first game one was for the Russians, but in the end, just as decisive a victory.  The rules...worked fine in every particular, really.  I have mentioned my slight suspicions about the calibration and the decisiveness of the cavalry combats but they are no more than that.  As for the scenario, perhaps a compromise would be best: either half the turns before the reinforcements arrive for the French, or allow D'Hautpoul to start on the table but not Bessieres.  The French are maybe a little too strong in the second scenario since they outnumber the Russians so much in what counts the most: heavy cavalry.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Leven, rules were the Polemos General de Division set.