Saturday, January 18, 2020

A New Hope

Hi all,

Finally managed to meet up with the local historical crowd, for an honest-to-goodness historical game.  I keep pinching myself to make sure it really happened ;)

The looping river is impassable, the offshoots just irritating.

Thanks to the generosity of the Beloved, who covered both the kids' rec and the pup for the day, I was able to get out for a Napoleonics game in the area, run by the redoubtable Armchair General.  A re-fight of Friedland, the game was the last in a campaign series the local gang have been playing through (beginning with Austerlitz!).  The AG not only provided a vast array of 15mm figures, but also arranged the terrain, and managed to both umpire / rules reference and play, which kept the game moving well.

Some of the AGs many forces at play.

The rules were Napoleon's Battles, an older ruleset.  My impression is that they date from an era when people were starting to try and write more abstract rules focused on command and control, but sell them to people accustomed to tables, charts, and granular die roll modifiers.  The net result was a pretty steep learning curve, and we only got to turn 4 (IIRC).  I suspect more familiarity with the rules would speed up play (I wasn't the only new guy, at least to the rules), but what we managed to get through was fun.

My command moving up in support of the cavalry.

I had a fairly small command, which made things a lot easier, running a couple units of infantry with attached guns - call it a division.  Friedland historically was a game where the Russians started out attacking the French, and ended up disastrously defending as French reinforcements poured onto the field.  In our game we did a little better, mostly punching through the initial French defence, but I suspect had we played the game out longer, they would have rallied, and at least stalled our attack.

The Russian right flank.  Out of picture were the dastardly French.

Terrain was a huge factor in the game.  A largely impassible river (with only a few bridges) cut the table more or less in two down the middle for a good chunk of its length, and a series of smaller tributaries broke up the rest of the table.  Our attack (as I was playing Russians, of course), had to cross several of these.  They were passable, but with the addition of other constraints on terrain and movement, meant that we were basically fighting through a succession of natural barriers on a narrow front.  It pretty quickly became clear how the Russians ran into trouble in the historical event.

The guard marching.

A bit of a thrill for me was actually getting my unit of painted Russian guard on the table (not a perfect fit with their basing, but the AG accommodated).  As it turns out, they ended up the game marching to the guns, but I figure it still counts.  Given I bought the damn things back in Toronto who knows how many years ago, any use in anger will do ;)

Close enough now to move into attack column

Trails of Russian reinforcements - had the game continued, they would have played a larger role.

I have to say, the game looked great on the table - really showed off what massed 15mm can do.  Me being me, I came home all a-twitter with thoughts of digging out the rest of my AB15s.  Dinner, and a period of reflection, have me easing back a bit, but I suspect they may see the light of day yet - as a painting project, if nothing else.

The main bridge at Friedland - became something of a logistical choke point.

I have to say, I had a great time.  The group was super-welcoming to a new guy, and very patient with my sundry rules questions.  I tentatively broached the prospect of organizing a 6mm game, and seemed to get some enthusiasm in response, so I suspect a bit of planning is in order.  I'll have to take a look at what I can pull together from my collection, and think about possible rules and scenarios.  There's likely to be some painting needed as well (at least for any kind of nominally historical match-up), so that bears looking into as well.  Definitely feeling up about the prospects of more historical gaming in future, however, and assuming they have me back, will be seeing this crew again.



  1. Well done, Markus! Great to see you getting a taste of historical gaming again. The table looks fab. NB is a rule set I played often many, many years ago. I still think it was one of the best packaged rule sets available. Everything need in the big green box. Ahead of its time as far as design, I think.

    1. Yeah, it was an interesting rule set. I quite liked the command mechanics, and the need to pay attention to the relative position of the elements of your command chain.

  2. I'm glad you got the chance to come roll some dice with us at last. Also good to see 4 new faces as well as 3 members of the "Middle Guard" amongst the 8 of us.

    I think I'm slowly getting a handle on NB but that may be the last time we see it. Jeff is going to look at options that might allow use to get through more than 1/2 a game in 8 hours.

    No pressure but I'm looking forward to seeing your 6's in action.

    1. Already started thinking through the options . . . ;) Probably be a little while before I can pull something together, but definitely a goal to work towards.

  3. Great news, always good to find new gaming buddies.


  4. Glad to see an historical game here, beautiful and interesting battle...

    1. The table did look great. Being able to see how the lines of reinforcement were feeding in gave it a tremendous visual impact.

  5. Brilliant news, great to have a new set of friends to game with.

  6. Great looking game and nice to find a club that chimes with your interests!
    Best Iain

  7. Impressive set-up! Reminds me of the 'refights' down at the club back in the 1990s using Paddy Griffith's Napoleonic War Games for Fun (or an adaptation thereof). Probably my fondest memory is of leading the Austian Army to a great and glorious victory at Aspern-Essling.

    The 15mm is not my favourite scale, but it has to be admitted the numbers you can get achieve the fine sense of 'mass' appropriate for Napoleonic action. A fine spectacle, as here.

    1. I tend to prefer 6mm for big battle, but have to admit, the 15s looked pretty good!

  8. But wait, where is all the 40k?
    I’m just kidding. Good job on getting in a game with some new folks at a new location. Your way is paved for many games in the future. 😀

    1. Fingers crossed. And fear not, as long as the Cub still wants to game with his old man, there'll be a place for 40k ;)