Saturday, September 26, 2015

19th Century What Ifs: US vs. France and Mexico 1866 Part III: US OOB

At the start of the war the US has available 5 corps. 2 in the Army of Texas, and 3 in the Army of the Gulf. The two Corps of the Army of Texas (4th and 25th) should be rated Veteran. Of the three corps of the Army of the Gulf, the 16th should be rated veteran, while the 13th and 19th should be rated Average.

US Army of Texas

Friday, September 25, 2015

19th Century What Ifs: US vs. France and Mexico 1866 Part II: Operational Plans

19th Century What if :The Franco-American War 1866-1868
Aka “The Second Mexican War”, “La Guerre per la Follie Napoleon”
Part II

In the previous post I laid out a potential story of how a war between France and the US could come about in the 1864-1866 period. I also postulated some potential forces.  I will now lay out the potential operational plans of Marshall Bazaine and General Sheridan, the commanders on the ground.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

19th Century What Ifs: US vs. France and Mexico 1866

19th Century What if :The Franco-American War 1866-1868
Aka “The Second Mexican War”, “La Guerre per la Follie Napoleon”
by Konstantinos Travlos
Up in TMP a lively conversation has erupted over the possibilities of a war between Napoleon III and the United States of America around the time of the US Civil War. Various alternative scenarios have been offered , some more or less plausible in my view. All are legitimate, but here I would like to present my own scenario and defend its plausibility.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Finishing the 10mm leadpile

Well I finished painting all the superfluous miniatures from my Altar of Freedom Project. They are all Pendraken 10mm, and here is what I did with them (many projects WIP)

First off six bases of French Imperial Guard Voltiquer Division (in post 1860 grab)

ACW Kepi Zoauves painted as Pontifical Zouaves/ Volunteers of West for Wars of Italian Unification or Republican phase Franco-Prussian War

 Extra Generals for AoF, and extra bases for four Union regiments, so that I can use them for BBB and Neil Thomas 19th Century Rules

Two extra infantry units for AOF, one of them of African Americans (the front one)

The first test Confederate unit for AOF.

Brasilian Units for the War of the Triple Alliance. ACW Fez Zoauves as Bahia Zoauves, and ACW Union Infantry as Brazilian Regulars in early war summer grab. 

So a good start of several small projects.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Perfidious Albion: Battle of the Yellow Sea 1904

Not much gaming this month. I have been focused on a) terrain building and b) painting off my 10mm lead pile before putting my new orders in for Pendraken.

Doruk Efendi and me did get together at my place to play a game of Perfidious Albion. We played, once more, the Battle of the Yellow Sea in 1904 from the Russo-Japanese War. I commanded the Russians and he the Japanese.

I hammered away at the Mikasa, but once more despite being crippled it survived (a "lucky" model of a "lucky" ship).

In return the Japanese crippled the Sevastopol and Tsesarevich killing admiral Vitigief (he died in the previous iteration of this battle) and Vice Admiral Ukhtomsky.  They also sank by magazine hits the Poltava and Retvisan. The only Russian succees beyond crippling the Mikasa, was a magazine hit that exploded the AC Kasuga.

A bad defeat, and a bit of a tiring game. I really feel Perfidious Albion is really a game that can handle up to 3-4 ships per side. Beyond that it can grind.

Here are pictures of the action

Russians towards you, Japanese away

Monday, September 7, 2015

Getting there

Coming back from work, I saw in the garbage a rather big slab of what I would term false-wood, like the one they use to cover the top of table. I took and it broke/cut it to a roughly 64x48 parallelogram. I then laid out the terrain I have to day on it trying to recreate 2nd Pleven. Its getting there. I still need more woods, and more fields for the vines, need to flock the level 1 and level 2 stuff I have not flocked, and to cut out pieces for the level 3 terrain. But it is getting there to being serviceable.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Altar of Freedom: First Thoughts , and more BBB Terrain

Since I had laid out my Gaine's Mill setup, I decided to sit down and run the Altar of Freedom scenario so I can get hang of the rules.

The game ended with a Minor Tactical Defeat for the Union, close to the historical outcome. The Union lost two brigades, one being Cooke's cavalry (which as in history made a desperate charge to plug a hole). The Confederates lost one.

All in all from a first view I can say this is a fun set of rules for grand tactical battles, but I cannot say I have gotten their measure yet. Unlike BBB, BP and NT 19th Century Warfare Rules, this is not a game that gives you it full in solo. The bidding process and Turn Clock truly makes the game very tense, and there were moments were I said to myself "if I did not know what the other side was bidding, I would be toast". It nicely creates a feeling of Fog of War. The General traits really make each commander unique, and require careful management of personalities, an element I consider important to simulate in grand tactical games.

Game wise Brigades are really hard to kill here. Thus massive victories will be rare. Especially units situated in good ground are really hard to dislodge. Artillery is a killer if you can get in canister range.

A good comparison with BBB points out the following. BBB has a more sophisticated terrain system. AoF a more sophisticated CnC system. Both produce good amounts of friction, but I think AoF is a bit more tense. BBB has a more sophisticated combat resolution system, while AoF a more simpler one. To be frank part of this is due to the fact that BBB covers many more wars and tactical styles then AoF. I cannot be sure 100% but I think AoF produces the faster game.

I have a feeling that a mix between AoF and BBB would be the best representation of 19th century grand tactical warfare.

The field around 8 o'clock. Porter will order the steady withdrawal of his forces in the cover of the night.

The disposition of forces at the end and axis of Confederate attacks (Boatsawain Swamp as in history became a major obstacle for the Confed).

The breakthrough point!

Boatswain Swamp full of 9 Confederate Brigades

AP Hill's division was check by Syke's throughout the battle.

I also worked more on terrain for BBB and other battles. I flocked a bit the cardboard's and built a system for designating steep slopes. I dare say it starts looking serviceable. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Revisiting Gaines Mill

As a way to rekindle my drive for this project, I laid out the terrain and units, using my Russians as proxies for the Confederates. The thing looks good. Cannot wait to get back to collecting and painting armies.

The filed laid out, seen from the Union lines

The units that come as reinforcements (by mistake I put one Union division in that comes are reinforcements)

A view along the green hell that is Boatswain's Swmap

The Union lines seen from Longstreet's division. The difficulties the terrain would give to an attacker seem evident.

The Union line with the the Divisions of AP and DH Hill coming towards them.

A wall of flesh and steel.

Looking from the bottom of the swamp towards Morrell's entrenched division.

From Morell's division to across the swamp.

Another view of the board with the initial forces deployed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BBB Modular Terrain

The biggest challenge with playing BBB is the terrain, which can be demanding. I have been grappling with how to create a modular terrain system that would permit me to run most of the actions of the game, without needing to create unique tables for each battlefield.

The most challenging element is elevation. Chris Pringle uses up to three elevation levels and most of the scenarios see anything from 20-90% of the table covered in hills, ridges etc.

Now Chris has some suggestions on how to tackle hills and you can read them at his blog, here.

My own method is based on roughly rectangular pieces of cardboard cut to different sizes and glued with green, brown, and deep brown paper. The goal is to have a inventory of pieces that can be used to build different battlefields. They do not look nice, but they are cheap to make. Also you can easily make them look nicer by gluing sand, foilage etc on them (this will happen little by little). For steep slopes I think I will use the tactic I use for rifle pits and entrenchments and create little sticks with rocks etc, which can denote a steep slope.

I still need tons of green (lvl 1), brown (lvl 2) and dark brown (lvl 3) peices, but here they are used to represent Solferino and Beaugency.

Again, no work of art, but its a start. Foilage, steep hill indicators and sand will make them look cooler.