Tuesday, 30 December 2014

One Hour Great Northern War Army Lists

Most of the scenarios in One Hour Wargames use armies of six units each, with a few featuring four or three unit forces. The armies are generated using a D6 roll. Each set of rules features four unit types, and the tables take this into account; for any given period you will get a majority of one core type and a selection of the three other support types.

I have based my Great Northern War rolls on the ACW tables, as the troop classifications are the same - Infantry as the core, with Cavalry, Artillery and Veteran Infantry (Zouaves in the ACW lists) as the support. However I decided to tweak the rolls to take into account national characteristics. The tweaks are:

(i) The Russians would tend to have more Veteran Infantry than the Swedes, representing the Guard regiments. Indeed I will refer to the Veteran units as Guards. The Swedish infantry would be more homogeneous in quality.

(ii) The Swedes would have the possibility of a higher proportion of Cavalry than the Russians.

(iii) The Swedes also have the possibility of Cossacks

(iv) The Swedes have less Artillery.

To this end I created the following 'rules' when rolling for armies:

The first Veteran Infantry the Swedes roll is instead replaced by a Cavalry unit. If, however, the army already has at east one Cavalry, they get a unit of Cossacks instead.

The second Artillery unit the Swedes get is replaced by Infantry.

This gives the following lists:

Russians - 6 Units

1 - 3 x Infantry, 2 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
2 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 2 x Guards
3 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Guard, 1 x Cavalry
4 - 4 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
5 - 4 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Guard
6 - 4 x Infantry, 1 x Guard, 1 x Cavalry

Swedes - 6 Units

1 - 4 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
2 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Guard, 1 x Cavalry
3 - 3 x Infantry, 2 x Cavalry, 1 x Cossack
4 - 4 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
5 - 4 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
6 - 4 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry, 1 x Cossack

Russians - 4 Units

1 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
2 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Guard
3 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Guard, 1 x Cavalry
4 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery
5 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Guard
6 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry

Swedes - 4 Units

1 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
2 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
3 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry, 1 x Cossack
4 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery
5 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry
6 - 3 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry

Russians - 3 Units

1 - 1 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
2 - 1 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Guard
3 - 1 x Infantry, 1 x Guard, 1 x Cavalry
4 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery
5 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Guard
6 - 2 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry

Swedes - 3 Units

1 - 1 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
2 - 1 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Cavalry
3 - 1 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry, 1 x Cossack
4 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery
5 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry
6 - 2 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry

Unlike the original book lists, the Swedish lists will give duplicate armies under some rolls. In practice this doesn't seem to cause too many problems though. In addition I don't distinguish between dragoons and cavalry. At the scale and granularity of games I'm playing I don't think it really makes a difference.

I have played through probably more than a third of the scenarios in the book with these armies, and they generally give good, close games. The next step, I guess, is a campaign of linked scenarios.

Monday, 29 December 2014

The Great Northern War Squared

In previous posts I have mentioned that I have fought some of the One Hour Wargames scenarios using my Great Northern War figures on a square grid. The rules I used are derived from the ACW ones I posted yesterday - indeed the principles are exactly the same. But there are a few changes in them to allow for more aggressive (and effective) cavalry charges, Swedish infantry attacks and the less mobile artillery.

Here are the rules.

As ever, comments and criticism are more than welcome.

Family Games

Some friends of ours apparently have a family games afternoon every Sunday, and this week we got invited. This was because, unlike them, we own a Risk set. And Marco - you remember Marco? - really, really wanted to play Risk.

I don't know why we have a Risk set. It's years since we played it because, frankly, it's pretty tedious, but I think it's one of those essential that you have to have in your cupboard, like Monopoly and Cluedo. People kind of expect it.

Anyway, we hit a basic problem from the start in that Risk is designed for up to six players, and there were eight of us. So the older generation played as husband and wife teams, whilst the four offspring (all over eighteen, so no longer children) played individually.

I actually enjoyed the game more than I thought I would. Catherine and I were the first to be knocked out, though, as we gut stuck in Europe and just couldn't expand properly in any direction without getting picked off from another. Claudia and John suffered the same problem, lasting one turn longer than us by virtue of the fact that they picked us off to get our cards and give themselves some reinforcements. Marco went for the famous Dig Into Australia strategy, Maya took over North America and Eric went for Africa. South America switched between Eric and Maya for a while. Cei ended up in the China/Siberia bits of Asia, neither expanding nor contracting.

Marco likes to win, so the main game plan was to stop Marco winning. This worked. Eric shoved Maya out of the Americas and, after a epic series of reinforcement cards wiped out first Marco, then Maya, before running out of steam with Cei. Cei rallied and regained a lot of lost ground, but Eric came back to clinch the game. Pretty much how every Risk game goes really; one player spends an hour steamrollering a couple of others whilst the three players who have been knocked out watch.

Here's Eric's epic cavalry charge from Greenland into Canada.

After an aborted game of Newmarket, abandoned mainly because no-one but John seemed to like it, we played a few rounds of Tsuro, which is actually designed for up to eight players. Everyone seemed to enjoy this and, given that it's mostly luck, most people got a chance to win or, at least, survive until near the end. Tsuro is becoming a bit of a favourite for the quick and easy game option.

One thing that did come out of the afternoon was the proposal that we have a games evening on New Year's Eve instead of hauling off to sit on the harbour-side for three to four hours watching fireworks and then spend an hour getting out of the car-park afterwards.Catherine and I had a long tradition of playing games on New Years Eve, mostly due to the fact that having small children we didn't get to go to parties, so this will be a bit nostalgic. I'm not sure what we'll be playing though. Not Risk.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Chessboard ACW

Over the last couple of years I have been playing around with square-grid games, some of them using mechanisms lifted from games such as Battle Cry and Memoir '44. Up until now I'd not really written the rules up in any form; bits of them appeared in various blog posts, but mostly they just floated around inside my head. But since I spent a lot of yesterday using them to try out scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' I thought that it would be worth actually writing them down in a coherent, playable form, so people could see where I was coming from and, if they like, make use of them.

So here they are. No imaginative name, no frills. Games on a chessboard.

Square Grid ACW Rules

Any comments are more than welcome.

And, as a bonus, here's a game I prepared earlier. This is scenario 2 from 'One Hour Wargames' - Pitched Battle (2). The armies start on opposite sides of the board, all troops deployed. The winner is the side who controls the hill (I assumed the centre square) and the crossroads. The scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' are very sparing on terrain, and this works OK for some of them. But for this game I decided to break up the battlefield a little, randomly placing a field of crops in each side's half of the battlefield. Crops block line of sight and provide cover from shooting. In a strange twist of fate, both fields ended up next to the objectives.

The armies deployed, Union at the bottom of the picture and Confederates at the top. Both sides rolled four Infantry and a Cavalry, with the Confederates getting Artillery as their sixth unit and the Union a Veteran Infantry.

Early moves saw the Union cover the crossroads, using the field as cover.

The Confederates seized the hill.

The Confederates did well for activations early on, and advanced on the crossroads with infantry and cavalry. The Union did less well, and spent their effort fighting back, failing to start their own advance on the hill.

The Confederates pushed past the crossroads, and took the field.

Only to lose it to a counterattack.

On the far Union right one of their infantry units was routed by steady fire from skirmishing Confederate cavalry.

Finally getting some decent activations the Union start their advance on the hill, their veterans leading the way.

The Union troops defending the crossroads, however, were under a lot of pressure.

The Union advance on the hill was stalling under artillery fire, although the veterans reached the cover of the field, ready to make their attack.

The Confederates finally captured the crossroads as the last Union unit on that flank ran..

Another Union unit was lost, as artillery fire from the hill proved too much for it.

The Union veterans, however, took the main part of the hill, although their position was precarious; two Confederate units were in a position to fire on them, and they only had one hit left.

They survived the fire - due to the veteran status allowing them to ignore certain hits - but were forced to retreat.

Up until now the Union cavalry had done nothing but remain in reserve, but it now made a bold thrust towards the crossroads, and ended up charging its Confederate counterparts.

The Union had reoccupied the hill with the veterans, and it was now the final Confederate move. A good series of combats on their part could see the Union cleared from the hilltop, and it being recaptured. However they rolled a single activation; there would be no coordinated assault.

The Confederates made a single bold attack up the slope, but couldn't dislodge the Union infantry.

The end of the game. The Union failed to activate anything on their last turn, so a final lunge at the crossroads by the cavalry didn't happen - the cavalry could have moved to close assault the infantry on the crossroads and if they had scored a retreat occupied the space themselves, winning the game.

So the battle ended in a draw, despite the Union only having two units left to the Confederates' five.

The truth is that the scenarios would adapt better on a 9 x 9 board, as a bit of fudging is required to fit the terrain onto one 8 x 8 (I divide each side up into sections of 3/2/3 squares if that helps). Indeed it would be easier to tweak movement distances and ranges and run them on a 12 x 12 board; that makes each square the equivalent of 3". If someone tries that before I do, let me know how you get on. I think six units a side would get a bit lost on it if each one only occupies one square.

I have played quite a few scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' using my Great Northern War figures, also on a square grid. Here's how they looked - two 1" bases in a 2" square for each unit.

UPDATE - The rules I used for the Great Northern War games can be found HERE

My next job will be to write up the GNW variant. It works surprisingly well all things considered.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

One Hour On A Square Grid

I promised myself that I would try out some of the scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' using rules other than the ones in the book. The simplest option was to try the basic square-grid rules I play around with from time to time. These are designed for ACW games more than anything else, so I broke out the 6mm armies again.

I decided to play as close to the 'One Hour Wargames' setup as possible in terms of army sizes, and in fact the square-grid rules work OK at those unit densities - most scenarios have six units a side, with a few giving one side only three or four. In addition it was easy enough to use the 'One Hour Wargames' unit types, so I could use the random army generator table as well - this would give armies composed of Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Zouaves, which is the author's catch-all term for veteran/elite infantry. I'll call them Veterans.

The first scenario I rolled was 24 - Bottleneck. An attack must be made up a road against a numerically inferior defender. But the road passes between a wood impassable to the attacker and a swamp impassable to all units. The attacker must clear the road, but, in a neat twist, only defending units in the open count as blocking it. Thus the defenders can use the woods to make the attacker's job harder, but units hiding in the woods don't help them win directly.

The Confederates attacked, with two Veteran units, three Infantry and one Artillery. The Union defenders had three Infantry and an Artillery.

The Union defended the woods against an attack up the road, whilst the Confederates sent the Veteran units in a wide sweep around the swamp. This sweep was successful in clearing Union units beyond the wood, but the Union nearly stymied the Confederate plans when one of the units defending the woods emerged towards the end of the game to contest the road. Unfortunately it was forced to retreat, and the Confederates just clinched a win.

I then randomly determined another scenario and got 12 - An Unfortunate Oversight. In this one army is defending a town which covers a bridge over an otherwise uncrossable river. Uncrossable, that is, aside from the undiscovered ford out on their left - which the attackers have just found. Victory is about controlling the hill in the defender's rear.

The Confederates were defending with one Veteran infantry, four Infantry and an Artillery, whilst the attacking Union army was similar, but had an extra Veteran infantry unit.

The Veteran Union infantry attacked the town ...

Whilst the infantry was sent over the ford to seize the hill.

The Confederates moved units to counter the flank march.

The attack on the town wasn't pressed with much enthusiasm.

The battle continued on the Union right, with honours going mostly to the Confederates.

With time slipping away, and the attack over the ford stymied, the Union make a thrust at the town and take it.

However time was running out, and a rush at the hill to at least force a draw wasn't enough. As night fell the Confederates still held the high ground.

The rules I used were probably not much more complicated than those in 'One Hour Wargames', and at some stage I guess that I should write them out in full, instead of having them scattered across various blog posts and in my head.

Both games played out in an hour, although I set up the first game before I went to bed yesterday, and played through the opening moved whilst simultaneously cooking a full-English breakfast. I finished it after I ate. So in that respect they live up to their concept - 'One Hour Wargames'.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The One Hour Great Northern War

Before I got One Hour Wargames I did some fishing around on the 'net to see what other people thought of it and read about the games they played. In the AMW Yahoo Group I found variant rules in the Files section, which took the basic OHW rules and tweaked them for either different periods or to add more flavour for specific periods.

One of the sets is for the Great Northern War, so I printed it off and gave them a run today (in two half-hour sessions, broken up by a visit to the cinema to see the third part of The Hobbit. Don't bother. It's bollocks.)

The set seems to be based on the Pike and Shot set, with a few changes. Troop types are now Infantry, Dragoons, Cavalry and Artillery. Dragoons are really just slower, less powerful versions of Cavalry. All units may charge (indeed nothing restricts Artillery from doing it, but I house-ruled that straight away), but only Infantry and Artillery can shoot, running out of ammo on a '1'. Shooting now has two range bands, with long-range fire being less effective. Close combat is much the same as the Pike and Shot set. There are some national differences; Russian Infantry fire at one point better at long range, but Swedish Infantry get a one point bonus in close combat.

I added a couple of bits of my own, including some thoughts on how arcs of fire are blocked (which I'm still working on) and allowing units to retire directly to their rear as a move - the unit must move straight back for up to half of their movement distance. They may only turn at the end of the move, either 45 degrees, or a complete 180 degree about-face.

The rules have their own tables for generating armies. I generated a Swedish army of four Infantry, one Dragoon and one Artillery against a Russian army of four Infantry, one Dragoon and one Cavalry. I picked a scenario at random and got 16 - Advance Guard. This has a road crossing the table from one side to the other, with a town in the centre. The two armies are marching down the road until they meet in the town. Victory goes to the side which controls the town.

Both armies led with their mounted troops. The scenario states that they must march down the road until one army occupies the town, but mounted troops can't do that. So I assumed that their passing through the town was considered good enough.

The Russian Dragoons unit (represented by Cossacks) passed through the town and engaged the Swedish Dragoons. For this game I used three-base units, as I felt that they looked better on the 2' x 2' board. I used the same groundscale as the previous games with distances reduced by a third.

The Russians move into position, moving infantry into the town, and other units into support or reserve positions.

The Swedes also moved into position, covering against Russian flank moves, whilst preparing to assault the town once the cavalry melee before it was resolved.

The Swedish cavalry broke, leaving the Cossacks facing a strong Swedish infantry line.

With no retreat open to them, and doomed to otherwise stand in front of the Swedish infantry and be shot to pieces, the Cossacks charged.

And were dispersed.

The Swedes pour musketry into the town.

On the Swedish right their artillery came under attack after it ran out of ammunition. I added an extra rule here, allowing an artillery unit that neither moved nor fired on its turn to replenish its ammunition. I'd add the fact that it shouldn't be in close combat as well.

On the Swedish left they routed a Russian infantry unit ...

... but were charged by Russian cavalry ...

... who routed the Swedes.

Another Swedish unit broke from fire received from the town, but a reserve unit was in position to replace it.

The Russian cavalry kept up the attack.

The Swedes assaulted the town, whose defenders put up a bold defence.

More Russian infantry moved to garrison the town.

A good job, as the first unit flee back, dispersed by the Swedish assault

The Russian cavalry also fled.

The Swedes continued to press their attack, but they were now fighting a fresh enemy unit.

The Swedes ran. In the background some Russian infantry was, after far too long, finally finishing off the Swedish artillery.

Only one Swedish unit was left now, and into the town it went. The Russians held attack after attack, and the victorious artillery killers were on their way in support.

On Turn 13 the final Swedish unit broke, giving the Russians a victory.

I found this a far more satisfying game than the one yesterday, with the extra 'chrome' added to the rules making for a more playable game with no real additional complexity. They still have the issue that, when used with the scenarios, the games are really decided well before the scenario time-limit. This game went to 13 of the 15 turns, it's true, but by about turn 9 or 10 it was really obvious that, barring a major run of appalling Russian die rolls, the Swedes weren't gong to win. I can't see how the rate at which units were lost could be slowed down, so the time restriction was never really going to be an issue. I do like the idea of some kind of rallying mechanism, where unengaged units can roll to recover lost hits, which may keep them in the fight a little longer. But it would have to be very simple.

Anyway, I may try another random scenario tomorrow, using this variant set.
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