Monday, May 21, 2018

A River to be Crossed

As preparations for the Odessinau Grand Ball was being finalized, bodies of men were in action.  The Vanerian advanced guard was tasked with finding fords over the Southern Bug River.  Meanwhile a small brigade of Latverians were on maneuvers with an Austrian brigade.  Mostly out of fear of Ottoman expansion the Austrians have been engaged in an uneasy alliance with Latveria.  So a brigade was sent to "cooperate" with the Latverians and observe how far their military skills had advanced.

Rules as always for our Imagi-Nation games is Batailles de l'Ancien Regimes (BAR) by Bill Protz.  Figure ratio is 1:10 so one of our regiments is typically 48-60 figures and battalions of 24-30.  Squadrons normally are represented by 12 figures in either two or three ranks.

Austrian brigade on the left, Latverians on the right.

The Vanerian horde with some Russian vassals.

Vanerian leadership and regimental pot.
The Vanerians had a slight manpower edge but needed to find fords.  They were not required to secure them if seriously opposed, but each 1' section would only hold a ford on a roll of "6" on a d6.

"Oh buggers, they're on our side of the river!"
Yes, the Vanerians were in fine form, sniffing out a ford on their first try.  Light troops were quickly thrown across in open order as the second (of two possible) fords was also found by them.

We fail to find a ford as they find the second.  Note the cards which
activated each brigade for movement and then shooting.
Forcing a river crossing against opposition is always a challenging task, as events were to prove.

Austrian lights fall back on their formed reserves as Latverian
cavalry routs a Vanerian battalion of lights.

The Russian vassals face off against the Austrians as the Vanerians
mass on their left.
In a stroke of misguided genius the young Latverian commander rashly moved forward to pin the Vanerians in a natural choke place.  Although he would be flanked and eventually forced to retire, the time accidentally bought was critical.

Austrian hussars charge home against Odessenau lights.  And
are promptly routed.  Couldn't roll a save all day.

The Russian vassals are in a tough way and the odds are pretty
even now, with the river against the Vanerians.

Near the end as the Vanerian commander remembers that the
army is coming up behind him and halts.

And so the skirmish ended.  The Vanerian mission was accomplished as the day progressed the far shore became dark with masses of armed men.  The Austrians notified with "ally" that they were leaving and advised he do likewise.  Having also accomplished his mission, if but for a time, the Latverians were content to also retire. 

The next action will likely be between large formed bodies of regulars.  Somewhere in Odessinau.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Royal Ball

It was the affair of the spring season in the Odessenau capital city of Chisinau.  Princess Ash had traveled from Odessa to host the gala to kick of "the new season."  All the great leaders of Odessenau and neighboring countries were present.  England born Admiral Adams was there, boasting of the new addition to the Odessenau navy that would give them a decisive advantage in the Black Sea.  Field Marshal Oleksander, senior officer in the army was present and looking distracted, as if he wished to be elsewhere.  Prince Clayton Alaniz aka. "The Terror of Vaneria" strutted about with an air of confidence that seemed out of place for the occasion.  Finally Baron Brandon Duron, royal ambassador glided effortlessly from guest to guest, spending equal time with all.

The Odessinau general, prince and king.
King Philippe Alaniz

Among the dignitaries was ambassador Nikolai Casimir of Latveria and General Leopold von Alten and his son, Rudolf.  The wags might have made something of the attendance by the two top generals in their respective armies had they not been distracted by attempting to fill their dance cards.

Even the Vanerian ambassador had been invited, in what they assumed to be an inside joke at his expense.

Vizier Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
The orchestra managed several minuets and waltzes to the delight of the assembled crowd

As the evening progressed the party was interrupted by the sudden arrival of a courier that went directly to Field Marshal Oleksander.  

He waved other officers and diplomats over to share the information.  Abruptly Baron Duron turned to Vizier Çavuşoğlu and shaking the message in the air demanded, "What is the meaning of this?!"  

At that the Vizier glided over as if floating, his feet obscured by his robes.  "By the Grace of Allah we have learned of your aggressive intentions against us and have taken peremptory action.  Even as we speak our forces are crossing into Odessinau at fords we found on the river and plan to punish you for your temerity."  Calmly he continued as Duron could only sputter, "The Sovereign of Two Continents and Khan of Khan of the Two Seas cannot tolerate such action.  This," digging into his robes as various hands went to sword hilts, "is our declaration of goals and demands.  Until such time as you agree I suppose we are at war.  Gentleman."  As he handed off the papers and bowed deeply.  "Princess Ash, my thanks for a most entertaining evening."  As a diplomat, protocol required that the Vizier and his escort be allowed to leave, the dance was left disrupted and all abuzz.  

The elder von Alten took command of the situation.  "Gentlemen, the accursed Ottomans and their vassals have taken the initiative from us.  Officers, make your farewells and report to your commands.  Diplomats, get to work."  With that the festivities ended and war officially began.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Central Europe 1813

Our group had a sudden influx of new (for us) Napoleonics thanks to some great buys at the Seven Years War Convention and so we set up Prussian von Bulow vs. Marechal Victor in 1813.  While some similarities with Dennewitz might be inferred, it was really just a game for the sake of playing.

Empire remains our rules of choice, 15mm armies and five players.  We expected a blood-bath and were not disappointed.

Looking down the table at the Prussian army, my command in the

The view of the French and Saxon forces.
Woods were open, but the fields and hedges would disorder chargers and slow passers.  The stream/river in the distance was impassable to wheeled items and units passing over would be disordered during their and the following impulse.  I thought some would try to push some troops over it and around the flank, but I was wrong.

Both sides are aggressive so most maneuver elements are engaged
right away.

The grand view of my boys, stretching into the distance.

From the other end, showing the ignored river.
Right away a pattern emerged for me; my cavalry won all the "melees" but couldn't put anyone away.  The French came on aggressively and routed a pair of my battalions and a battery, but then were exposed.  One of the more decisive cavalry charges of my time in WI followed.

The Prussian Guard Uhlans have an opening after my conscripts
throw the French back following a firefight.
Knowing what can happen the French selected seven battalions potentially in the path of the charge and rolled to form square with each.

Meanwhile my overall ineffectiveness continues.

Massed fire rips up the French center and the line passes through.
And what of the squaring attempts you ask?  Well, with 50 or 30% chances on all, the seven hapless French battalions all failed.  The result?

Seven routed battalions and a battery run off.

Back at the other end of the table as word of the charge sinks in.

One of our players had to leave at this point, but it didn't matter, the game was over.  Victor would be attempting to disengage and clear out.  Already outnumbered slightly, the charge left no doubt in his mind.  Sadly we played below our usual speed rate, but that was partly because most people were playing nationalities or time periods outside of our normal games.  I for example had only played with 1806 Prussians before.  So a good result for Herr von Bulow, but being French, I'm sure they will be back.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Fading Thunder - 1865

In March of 1865 the CSS Stonewall made a run for the South, scaring off two much larger Union warships covering her without a fight and disappeared into the Atlantic.  As it happened, a leak delayed her until she put into Havana to learn the war was over.  In our scenario she has run into Port Royal, SC destroying some wooden Union ships along the way with little damage.  She then replenishes and sorties with a blockade runner and the wooden warships available.  For their part the Union Navy has summoned armored ships and prepares to oppose her with the USS Onondaga, Passaic, Tecumseh (one of several ships resurrected for our game) and Varuna.  The Stonewall, seeking to escape for commerce raiding, Banshee (runner) and gunboats Selma, Gaines, Chattahoochee and Fort Morgan are prepared to fight it out.

The Confederate "fleet" flanked by supporting shore batteries.

The blockaders await.

The Stonewall (left) and Banshee (right) hang back at first.  Each
ship has a turn-arc rating based on size and speed.

A miss, but  demonstration of the range of the Stonewall's 300pdr.

Each side's plans become fairly apparent.  The cottonclads suffer.

A lucky hit on a gun shutter takes out a gun on the Passaic.

The Selma is ravaged by shot and shell.
Damage control does their jobs but others burn.

The Banshee tries to act inconspicuous and slip out.

The Stonewall has a turret which fires every turn.

Rams were common, damage was not.  Here the Selma glances off.

"Nothing to see, don't mind me, just passing through."

The Chattahoochee sank quickly though the others gamely fight on.
The Varuna was rammed twice, once by the Stonewall and sank.  The Onondaga and Passaic each lost a gun through a gun port being hit, and some damage had been taken, but all three could still fight.  The Banshee received one broadside that did no critical damage and escaped the short-ranged Union ships.  The Stonewall danced for a time beyond the range of most of the Union guns, but as her mission was to escape and since damage had been received, she headed for the open sea.  The Union monitors helpless to do more than watch.

As it happened, the Union plan was to concentrate on eliminating the Confederate gunboats first then concentrate on the Stonewall.  In that they were successful, only a badly damaged Fort Morgan returning, albeit heavily damaged.  However it made the Confederate plan fairly easy and escape possible.

Rules were Steam and Black Powder by Neil Stokes, ships are 1/600 and a mix of Thoroughbred, Bay Area Shipyards and homemade models.  A very playable and fun set of rules that is easy to pick up.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A New Campaign

As we prepare to start our next Imagi-Nation mini campaign we must take a moment to set the stage with our players.  Diplomacy makes for strange bedfellows and fleeting alliances.  Rules will be Batailles de l’Ancien Regimes and the Wulfenbuttel War by Charles S. Grant provides the framework, transferred to our locale.

Campaign Preliminaries

In the wake of the Litharus raid on the Latverian city of Alten and the failed attempt to annex Rondovia, Latveria found itself and King Alfred needing a “win.”  To that end an alliance was sought with neighboring Odessenau, setting aside for the moment their old territorial dispute.  (see map)  Odessinau, feeling threatened by a rumored alliance between Litharus and Vaneria, was only too willing to work together.  For now. 

Our world as re-imagined.

During the long winter diplomats like Latverian ambassador Casimir worked diligently to hammer out an accord, followed by generals and rulers developing a military strategy.  “I propose” said Field Marshal Oleksander of Odessinau, “that we marshal our forces in Odessenau, north of the Dnister River.”  He continued, “once merged, our combined army will be something the Vanerians cannot match.  We just need to work out details of overall command and the invasion plan.  Naturally, we would take the lead in all command decisions.”  Awaiting an explosive response he was pleased with the relative calm murmur that ensued.  “Our goal will be to strike through the disputed territory, drive to the mouth of the Dnieper River where it empties into the Black Sea and force an acquiesce to our demands.  Cutting their interior off from the Black Sea will be decisive and I doubt we will even need to besiege the fortress there.”  The Latverian representatives were neither surprised nor totally displeased by the proposal.  Their army would be far from its supports, but if successful they would receive in compensation the territory claimed by both Latveria and Odessinau.  “And if the Vanerians respond by crossing the Southern Bug (or Boh) River, driving on the Dneister River behind us to cut our lines of supply and communication?” queried General Rudolf von Alten of Latveria.  “The Vanerians are not the force they once were.  Intrigue and suspicions are the norm in their court and they will not risk leaving Savastapol open.  Besides, having this territory so close to our capital city Chisinau is simply unacceptable.  They will behave as we expect” he assured the room.  The mutual distrust between old enemies was present and heavy.  “Yes, always assume the enemy will do what you want them to” thought General von Alten to himself.  But King Alfred of Latveria had put them on this course with King Alaniz and so they would fight.  “A most excellent analysis and plan my dear general.  The Latverian Advanced Frontier Force will take their place beside you.  We will of course need time to move into position.  When, if, Spring ever truly comes, we will be ready to strike together.”

“Excellent!  Wine to toast our joint venture” called Oleksander.   A fine red wine from the coastal regions was brought forward, goblets filled and toasts drunk.  And one server, who had been intently but discretely listening, lingered near the maps laid out in full view.

A few weeks later....

"Is all in readiness Kohuddin?" "Yes Nazir Wafeer, the troops are assembled, rations and armaments issued, spirits are high" replied Brigadier Kohuddin, representative of the allied troops that would partake in the campaign.  "That is well my friend, for our ruler Jaan Abdul-Jaleel Yamn (long my he reign) directs us to strike.  As you know, my watchers and spies report that a rough alliance has been formed between our hereditary enemies Latveria and Odessenau.  Though we have made no recent aggression against their borders they seek to reclaim territory belonging to the Sovereign of Two Continents and Khan of Khans of Two Seas."  He paused to recover his breath: "Our armies shall make a pre-emptive strike against these usurpers and break them like ice in the spring."  

"Vizier Çavuşoğlu, as chief of our diplomats it falls to you to deliver the news to our erstwhile opponents.  We have something special in mind."  Wafeer allowed himself a small chuckle, "special indeed."  The moment passed he snapped, "Kohuddin, issue the appropriate march orders."

And so it begins...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Imagi-Nation Warm-up

On the eve of a new Imagi-Nation mini campaign we decided to play a small game of BAR (Batailles de l'Ancien Regimes) to refresh our knowledge of the rules.  For my part, my Prussians have seen lots of table action but very rarely with me.  So I provided one side while the Imagi-Nation forces of Prockistan and Rondovia joined forces.  They had three 60 figure battalions, three 48 figure battalions, a medium and a heavy gun, a cuirassier and dragoon squadron.  My Prussians had four 60 figure battalions and two 48 figure battalions, a heavy and a battalion gun, a cuirassier and a frei korps squadron.  All units were rated veteran.

Slopes were gentle, woods were light (formed cavalry prohibited) and the stream cost a d6 of movement.  Being a card driven game, each side could activate two infantry or the two cavalry elements on the turn of a card.  The CnC would decide who on his side.

Initial deployment.  Prussian battalion gun out of sight on the left.

The "enemy" looking at us from their left.

Both sides stepped off with us in echelon from the left.

BAR is a quick and decisive game with lots of action.

On our right the line was anchored by the woods.

No substitute for hot dice.  Artillery hits need a 5+ to save, no
problem for Todd today.

Things are getting thin on this end.  On the other
I am engaged in a melee that I should win.  But didn't.

Still got the hot dice Todd!  Musketry needs a 4+ to save.  Mind
you, these are atypical results for Todd.

As the enemy starts to withdraw our cavalry moves forward.
The Rondovian commander sent a message to his subordinate telling him to run away.  At the time it made sense.  A third of their infantry had routed, the heavy gun was eliminated, and the melee should end in a Prussian win.  But of course as the message arrived the gods of dice decreed that not only would my Prussians get pushed back, but that they would rout, leaving the Prussian left flank open.  However the moment passed and the Prockistani troops grudgingly withdrew.

So in the end a Prussian win, though at the time we quit casualties were pretty even.  Both sides had one fresh unit and the Prussian cavalry was ready to act, the Rondovian cuirassiers having taken a serious artillery hit earlier.

The foundation of our mini campaign will be C. S. Grant's booklet, "The Wolfenbuttel War."  Looking forward to starting it next month.