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.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Developing the Portable Air Wargame - Amendments Summary

A couple of people have expressed some interest in a consolidated list of changes I have made to Bob Cordery's air rules in his Developing the Portable Wargame in order to make a fast, simple and intuitive air combat wargame (Bob Cordery's original rules are designed as an adjunct to his ground combat wargame).

There are plenty of examples on the blog already  and I will get around to posting some more in due course.

These are the changes:

1 - Aircraft have individual stat lines rather than generic ones, but roughly speaking the SPEED/MOVE characteristic has been halved so an "average" fighter has SPEED 6 & DAMAGE 4.

2 - Aircraft must move their entire SPEED each turn.  All moves are of 1 hex.  Every other move after the first may be a turn, when an aircraft changes facing by 60 degrees (i.e. one hex side) instead of moving.  Firing fixed forward guns cost 1 hex of movement.

2a (Experimental Rule) - I am currently experimenting with Green pilots having -1 SPEED.

3 - Bomber aircraft can only turn a hex-side after every 2 hexes moved.

4 - Turns are strictly alternate.  If one side has achieved a bounce, it chooses whether to move first or second.   If one side is escorting bombers, the other side chooses whether to move first or second.  Otherwise roll, high score chooses whether to go first or second.

5 - Aircraft may start the game with extra energy points.  These may be converted to extra speed as necessary, with a maximum of 3 points being expended as such per turn.  This represents aircraft starting at higher speed or at greater altitude than their enemies (typically 1000ft of altitude or 50mph of starting speed).

6 - Aircraft may fire fixed forward guns at any point in their turn after the first move.  Defensive guns fire when an aircraft is fired upon or when an enemy aircraft ends its move in range of a defensive gun.

7 - A single die is rolled to determine hits.  Fixed forward firing guns hit on:
4-6 in the 6 o'clock position, 5-6 in the 12, 4-5 & 7-8 o'clock positions, 6 in the 9-11 & 1-3 o'clock positions.  Defensive guns always need a  6.  Elite pilots add 1 to their die roll, green pilots subtract 1 (but 6 always hits).

Optional rule - USN pilots hit on 5-6 from 9-11 & 1-3 o'clock rather than 6.

8 - Aircraft are armed with light machineguns, heavy machineguns and/or cannons.  These have the following characteristics:

LMGs - Range: 3 hexes; Damage caused (d6) 1-3:0 points, 4-5 1 point, 6 1 points*
HMGs - Range: 4 hexes:  Damage caused (d6) 1-2:0 points, 3-5 1 point, 6 2 points*
Cannons - Range: 5 hexes: Damage caused (d-6) 1-2: 0 points, 3-4, 1 point, 5-6 2 points*

*-allows another roll for damage, and this sequence can go on indefinitely. 

I use differently coloured dice when aircraft have more than one weapon.

9 - Both individual aircraft and formations are subject to morale: when an aircraft is damaged to a third or more of its damage points, it must break off and head for the nearest (safe) map edge.  When a formation of aircraft has lost more than one third of its total damage points, all aircraft must break off.  

10 - Example Stat Lines:

A6M2 Zero: Speed-7, Damage-3, 1xCannon, 1xLMG
Ki43-IIa Oscar: Speed-7, Damage-3, 1xHMG
D3A2 Val: Speed-5, Damage-4, 1xLMG, 1xLMG rear gun
B5N2 Kate: Speed-5, Damage-4, 1xLMG rear gun
G4M1 Betty: Speed-5, Damage-6, 1xLMG front, left, right guns; 1xCannon rear gun
F2A3 Buffalo: Speed-6, Damage-5, 2xHMG
F4F3 Wildcat: Speed-7, Damage-5, 2xHMG
F4F4 Wildcat: Speed-6, Damage-5, 3xHMG
P39D Airacobra: Speed-7, Damage-6, 1xCannon, 3xHMG
P40E Warhawk: Speed-7, Damage-6, 3xHMG
TBD1 Devastator: Speed-4, Damage-5, 1xLMG, 1xLMG rear gun
SBD3 Dauntless: Speed-5, Damage-6, 1xHMG,1xLMG rear gun

It will be noted that these ratings suggest that even early on in the war in the Pacific, US aircraft were as good or better than their Japanese opponents, with the exception of the fairly wretched Devastator - unless I am badly misreading the performance data. This implies that the early Japanese advantages were heavily dependent on situational and environmental factors.  US pilots, especially army pilots, need to be penalized early on.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Battle of Caldiero 1805: A Horse, Foot & Guns Refight

The Battle of Caldiero

I converted a scenario for the 1805 Battle of Caldiero from Michael Hopper's scenario book Rise of Eagles 1805 into one suitable for Phil Barker's Horse, Foot and Guns.

Caldiero featured Marshal Massena's Army of Italy trying to dislodge Archduke Charles' Austrian Army from a position near Caldiero.

The Imperial French Army:
1 x Command Post*
2 x Elite Light Infantry
2 x Elite Bayonets (inc. 1 x Italian)
13 x Bayonets (inc. 1 x Italian)
2 x Dragoons
2 x Light Cavalry
1 x Cuirassiers
2 x Field Artillery
1 x Horse Artillery

The Imperial Austrian Army:
1 x Command Post*
16 x Muskets
9 x Elite Bayonets
4 x Light Cavalry
2 x Dragoons
3 x Field Artillery

*optionally either the Austrian and/or the French CPs can be made "Exceptional" depending upon one's views of the genius or otherwise of the Archduke Charles and Marshal Massena.

The French must try and take Caldiero, take the heights and inflict more casualties on the Austrians than they recieve.


Caldiero is the built-up area in the centre, the other built-up areas are amalgams of 2-3 smaller villages. 

This shot makes it easier to pick out the heights behind Caldiero (right) where the Austrians placed their defences.
The Austrians defend the high ground (top) and Caldiero itself (centre-right); Massena's men approach (bottom)

The view from behind Massena and his staff on the French centre-right; the hills and defences can be clearly seen

Another shot

View from behind the French right; Colloredo's Austrian grenadiers hold the open flank in front of them (centre-background)

Another wider shot
View from behind the French centre-left
 The Battle:

Massena begins the battle by advancing in the centre-right up the valley, whilst using skirmisher fire and artillery against the defenders of Caldiero
The French infantry struggles to make progress in the face of Austrian artillery fire
However casualties begin to mount amongst the garrison of Caldiero and Massena prepares to launch an infantry assault

The defenders stop the attack by musketry fire short of their objective (right)

Further infantry attacks begin against the main Austrian position
With reserves waiting to exploit any success as the assaults go in (top-left)
The French Right remains quiescent for the present

The French infantry is thrown back form the redoubts
With the Austrians engaged along the line, Massena starts a flanking movement (right)

Further infantry attacks, supported by artillery, increase the pressure on Caldiero itself (centre)
Massena orders another infantry assault against Caldiero (centre), whilst the French infantry re-organize again (left) to try and force the valley

So another assault is ordered forward

The French infantry is again thrown back from Caldiero

Massena brings another brigade into the attack, whilst the Light Infantry regiment moves to the flank to face advancing Austrian Grenadiers (centre-right)
The French infantry is again thrown back

And is being held in musketry duels before Caldiero

French infantry on the left make an attempt to force the gap between redoubts against the Austrian artillery

The French infantry casualties are really starting to mount in the centre (bottom-left), primarily from the emplaced Austrian artillery
The French  leading brigade has failed to get its way forward through the artillery fire and has now been attacked on the flank by Austrian infantry leaving the redoubts

The French have struggled to make real progress despite the mounting casualties

French infantry (centre) and artillery (left) support the attack

Whilst Massena gets his troops together on the Right ready for an advance against Colloredo's Grenadiers (centre)

The French infantry have broken one of the Austrian brigades (routing, centre) and the other has suffered heavily (centre-right)

However, the enfilading Austrian artillery fire pushes the French back down the slopes (centre) (just out of shot on the left, the French Horse artillery has been smashed by the emplaced Austrian artillery)

Massena orders his men forward again, trying to overwhelm the disordered defenders

Massena simultaneously orders an attack on his Right

Over on the slopes on the French centre-left, the Austrians have held on yet again and pushed the French infantry back

Whilst on the French right, both sides have suffered appalling casualties

Now effectively isolated, Massena renews his attacks upon Caldiero despite the attack having suffered heavy casualties

Further French attacks on the centre-left are stopped by musket and cannon

Massena throws in Severoli's Italian Divison (right) against Caldiero

This time there is no mistake and the Italians break the Austrian resistance and seize the town

The Austrian Left under some pressure but still holding on

A wider shot: the French have finally made some progress, taking Caldiero and putting pressure on the Austrian Left (right)
Massena reforms his troops on his Right ready for another attack
Despite being able to reinforce his centre with guns (centre) no longer needed to bombard Caldiero (right), the French infantry have suffered even more casualties trying to get forward (centre)
The advance of the French Right is successful, breaking further Austrian units and leaving the Austrian Left somewhat battered

However, the extreme left Austrian brigade (centre) is still holding, driving back the French infantry with its disciplined volleys

The French and Italians try to turn the left of the Austrian line of defences (centre)

But stout Austrian resistance pushes back the Imperial forces

A wider shot - since the fall of Caldiero, the French have made no progress and their losses are mounting
Austrian reinforcements (top) race to the threatened flank.  At this point Massena called off his attacks, knowing that the moment at which there was a possibility of victory has passed.
Game Notes: A good game and an interesting battle.  It always felt a little like hard work for the French and they just didn't get the breaks necessary to create a real opportunity for victory.  Caldiero was eventually taken in fine style by the Italians, but it held out for so long (c.three hours) that the French only had a little time to exploit their victory, by which time they had suffered quite a number of casualties in their pinning attacks.  Despite the French artillery creating some good opportunities, the Austrian infantry fought magnificently behind their earthworks and the French fusiliers could just not get in.  The most successful French attack was their attack on the right flank, with the combination of skimisher, infantryman and Dragoon initially proving very successful until the Austrians managed to defend the "hinge" of the position, then rush reinforcements to stabilize the line.
It has been a little while since I used these rules and I made a few errors in the early turns.  I did get back into the swing of it quite quickly however.  I really like these rules, they do give an excellent "distilled essence" game and they are very suitable for both solo play and the small-board wargamer: this is played over a 3'4"x2' board, well within any gamers space scope. The scenario, although designed for Shako II, was also very clear and comprehensive and converted into a very suitable HFG scenario.
Buildings by Total Battle Miniatures, figures by Baccus 6mm.