Field of Glory Napoleonics, De Bellis Napoleonicis (v2.1) & Australian Wargames Research Group

25 March 2017

Looking forward to tonight’s game with my gaming buddy Simon. I enjoy his intelligent conversations regarding our mutual love of the Napoleonic period. Tonight it will be a 650 point game at my place using the Setting Up a Points Based Game component. It looks really interesting and has revived interest in generating scenarios for the upcoming HX event in October. I have an idea, or two, that could easily cater to this novel setup approach.

Playing Russians for tonight. Hopefully they stand a chance against Simon’s dastardly French, and even notorious shock heavy cavalry (cuirassiers). My list includes both Cossacks and Opolchenie (only one unit) which are, by reputation, of dubious battlefield us. The rest of my list are regulars of varying quality  but should stand fast against these garlic-chomping snail-sucking heretics! 🙂

Still finding issues with the rules, but it’s mostly minor and interpretation related so have no impact on my overall impression that this rewrite is what the FoGN scene has been waiting for a long time. Great job too by both Richard and Brett, the main two guys taking on this unenviable task with real gusto.

I really should read more too. Usual batrep to follow. Very keen to see how the 2 hour/650 pts format pans out. Really hoping it works great but who knows.

thMN2A3W5B


FoGN v2 (draft)

Reading through the new draft version, I am initially impressed that the layout now follows a more sensible progression that is straightforward and less “page flicking”. The original core set suffered from being the frustration disease giving the impression it was hobbled together at the eleventh hour.

Rather than pester the main discussion over on the Slitherine forum site, I figured to air my own questions here; at least, it won’t be festering around in my head. Need a clear head to play a living opponent sometimes. 🙂

  • Artillery. Only allowed to field a max of 1/2 units in the one division. Wording had me conflubbered as I thought it meant the entire list composition was 1 or 2 such units and only in one division. My bad. Didn’t read it properly.
  • Troops assaulting. Can only occur if no intervening friendlies in the way. Wording of this ruling left me confused. Again, it’s my bad for not reading properly.
  • Wheeling during an Assault. The wording of this had me taking several re-reads: “They may not wheel to place less of the target to their front or past the point at which the centre of the target’s nearest edge is directly ahead of the centre of their own unit”. WTF.
  • Responses to Assault. Again, phrasing needs rewording: “Unless the unit breaks as a result of this test, the desired response still takes place, however, if the test is failed, the unit will drop a cohesion level”. Not a biggie but it shows how awkward it can get to articulate anyfink.
  • Irregular Light Infantry. Again, pursuant to the above point, these guys panic easily and therefore can only respond coherently when they’re about to die. The ban on formation change only highlights the shock of suddenly being attacked.
  • Irregular Light Cavalry. Word out of place in a phrase? Shouldn’t it be “and” rather than “or” as the heading defines the subject.
  • Infantry defending a building. Can fire defensively at ALL enemy units but an occupying unit can’t. Huh?
  • Second Moves. Forgotten about this. Only happens whenever outside 6MU of any enemy unit.
  • General Movement Rules. Phrase has me confused a little: “…measuring each corner of the unit to be moved…” So, if measuring a corner yields an obstacle or contact, nothing happens?
  • Wording on the ruling about Brigade Group movement being over….yada yada yada.

Got this far before putting the booklet down. Can’t stay interested for long at times. Cheers.


23 March 2017

A gaming buddy sent through a text the other day asking if I was prepared to open up the upcoming FoGN tourney to other scales. My reply was basically “It’s a good idea but one that hasn’t worked out all that well in the past”. Which is true. I recall the first event where I had two scales running at the event (I know but I ever naïve and ever hopeful it might work). Well, came the night before and I had a fair number in one scale opt out leaving me with no choice but to remove that scale and go with the one remaining. It was very embarrassing for me because I had somehow thought others would follow through on their promise of interest and I’d be one of the lucky few to hold a tournament with two separate scales running simultaneously.

Anyway, that text revived that bad memory. I’m happy for there to be a real discussion for including a second scale. However I’ve remained unconvinced that it’s a viable option: unless you have forty or fifty happening, then perhaps. But a small event (with less than a dozen attendees) just can’t entertain a suggestion. And I’ve learned that one scale per event is the standard format; it worked well enough at the second HistorX event and I see why it shouldn’t be successful this time round.

I know 28mm is extremely popular both tabletop and tournament-scene. So too is 15/18mm. But when I floated the idea of a third HistorX event, I was dead set on it being 20mm, because it’s both the scale of personal choice and because I know many in my immediate gaming orbit field 20mm armies because they are cheap to assemble. As I told my gaming buddy, 20mm is just as attractive as the more popular 15mm and 28mm when painted up; you just have to squint harder, is all.

It’s a frustrating concern that putting it out there to the wider gaming community, and seeking a response from those interested in attending, that there has been a serious lack of interest or reply. This is my third such tournament and, by now, I’ve learned the hard lesson that you just have to set it up and ignore the silence.

It reminds me of that children’s tale of the mother hen who found some grains of wheat and ended up making bread from that wheat on her own. But all through the process from wheat grain to baked loaf, she kept asking for help and assistance, but none was forthcoming. That is, until the bread was made and she was ready to eat the loaf. Then did they come pouring out of the shadows and woodwork all demanding a piece.

I like FoGN. But my continued involvement in it over the years has always been as an interested participant that was not totally sold on the notion of a corps-level game that had global appeal. But that has gradually changed through the awareness that FoGN is indeed quite global; you only have to visit the Slitherine forums to see that FoGN has worldwide appeal and dedicated adherents.

Moreover, this growing awareness also has been influenced by the appreciation that this ruleset is perhaps the first time where I’ve being aware that this game addresses a higher-level command need. This idea of a Corps-level game has been a constant struggle for me when I first got involved primarily because my mindset had always been fixed at the lower-level, i.e., brigade/regimental/battalion mode of gaming.  Whenever I used to see a FoGN infantry stand of four bases, I did not see a demi-brigade/brigade that it was meant to represent but a battalion or a regiment.

Why that persisted no doubt has to do with not fully committing myself to learning the game properly. I admit I had my prejudices, my biases, my opinions also impeded acceptance of the game system on its own merits.

But it’s slowly changing. It’s not just the game itself that’s causing this change in attitude: the associations made through the game – the tournaments, the meeting of other gamers, the exchange of ideas and interpretations – contribute to the growing awareness. The game itself has taken a back seat to the overall impact felt through these interactions and contacts made when meeting others.

FoGN v2, for now, will have to do for the time being until something better comes along.


22 March 2017

Got a FoGN game this Saturday evening. 2 hour timed game. 650 points. I know my mate runs a very strong French list. Memories of getting hammered by his shock heavy cavalry still haunt me. That, and having to deal with his hordes of infantry and gargantuan gun line…

Hang on, I was dreaming. Actually, his cuirassiers were a constant thorn in our previous encounters, often threatening to roll my entire line as they pounced and smashed their way through my weak cavalry.

Not wanting to play French on French, I’ve decided to go Russian this time. After reading the basic requirements in Triumph of Nations, J have come up with an initial draft.

What I do remember from the current v2 draft is that all artillery must be sited within one division and not spread around. However, there are exceptions, as in Cavalry divisions may include at least one Horse artillery battery.

Having re-read some of the rules regarding composition, I will have to tweak my force again but at least the 650 point allocation has been reached.

Russian Infantry Corps 650 points FoGN v2 option 2

I call this list my drinking to good health list. 🙂


18 March 2017

Received the latest draft version of the updated FoGN for playtesting and contributing to the general FoGN community. This is version 2. Already impressed by the redesigned layout. I have passed on the version to one other from my local gaming group, who initially asked if I could obtain a copy. Luckily the guys redesigning the update were amenable to my request. It’s very likely the event in October will feature v2.


12 March 2017

A great day of gaming. Company was really fun today. First game was a continuation of the modified FoGN format we’re going to use for HistorX III in October. Angus brought along his wonderfully entertaining Swedish. I fielded a mixed force of French-Wurttemburg. Points was 650. Table was 6′ x 4′. Terrain was simple and perhaps redundant as it was a straight slugfest.

Deployment:

Swedes won the right to deploy first and therefore moved first.

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Turn One:

Swedes march forwards, wanting to contest the crossings, as do the Allied force. Who will get there first?

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The French-Wurttemburg force respond:

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Turn Two

The Swedes, who are all unreformed, are hampered by their slow movement rate. Still, they plough on regardless.

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The French cavalry are able to reach their crossing and “scare” away the enemy lights. But on the other flank, everything is happening very slowly being still a move of manoeuvre.

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Turn Three

On one flank the Swedes are preparing for a charge while on the other, it’s still a two-way jostling.

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The French throw a clove of garlic in the works however…

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Turn Four

The Swedes are unable to contain the enemy. Can they survive?

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The French cavalry have gained the crossing and are now running riot among the surprised Swedish infantry.

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Game Over….

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Summary

2 hours is doable with 650 points. We did take too long in setting up and then reacquainting ourselves within the first two moves of all the intricacies involved. But as the game wore on, and we settled down, we started shortening turn times so that the last three moves took just one hour.

But we didn’t really get to grips as we might have liked. That comes back to familiarity with the rules and game pressures.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and look forward to “getting better” at this game. Next report at Glynn’s place. Cheers.


Star Wars X Wing

Before someone claims this is not historical, let me say (once more) the blurb of the Star Wars movie franchise: “Long ago, in a galaxy far far away…”

Now that any disputes are settled, straight after the FoGN game, Glynn and myself had a quick game of X Wing. 100 points. I ran my Y wing list from a couple of previous games ago while Glynn ran a Disruptor-centred list.

Initially, I was antsy because I found I had forgotten a large part of the game mechanics and rules. But after a couple of turns, and I had my baby whinge, things settled down and we had an extremely funny and entertaining game.

Before the pics are posted, the outcome was Glynn destroyed 1 X Wing (Luke Skywalker) and 1 Y Wing (Horton Salm). Both are rated 8. What was left was my A Wing (Tycho Celchu) and a Gold Sqn pilot (rated 2).

The Ion Cannon provided a hilarious moment when my Gold sqn pilot battled the only Scum Y wing who also had an Ion cannon. So it was move, Ion cannon, drift, restore, move, Ion cannon, drift. It went like for a few turns until eventually my Gold sqn pilot prevailed. But it was a really hilarious moment for both Glynn and myself.

Picture Gallery

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Another extremely fun and challenging game. Initially, I was lost but then Glynn was patient enough to ease up a little before I got fully into the swing of things. Thereafter, it was as I adore about this game – fun, challenging, and never a dull moment. Cheers.


 

9 March 2017

Managed to put a basic colour scheme on the leaders and infantry. Now for the cavalry and artillery and attachments.


7 March 2017

Slowly getting there.


5 March 2017

Slow painting progress on this Wurttemburg list. Slightly amending my original intent by going with a combined Wurttemburg-French list. Not bothering dispensing with the FoGN list generator so I can run an entirely Wurttemburg corps. I don’t believe they had sufficient numbers anyway: they never fielded more than a division or two, if my memory serves me well, and they lost most of their manpower in the disastrous Russian misadventure as well.

So the French will be the reformed infantry units while the unreformed will be Wurttemburg. For the cavalry, one will be French (Hussars) while the other will be Wurttemburg Chevaux Léger. At least that’s the plan.

My 650-pt list:

Corps Commander (competent)

Division Commander (skilled)
Wurttemburg Light Infantry (reformed) – small, average drilled, w/offr
French Line Infantry (reformed) – small, average drilled w/cav
Wurttemburg Line Infantry (unreformed) – large average conscript w/arty
French Foot Artillery – large superior drilled

Division Commander (competent charismatic)
French Line Infantry (reformed) – small average drilled
Wurttemburg Line Infantry (unreformed) – large average conscript w/arty

Division Commander (competent)
French Hussars – small superior veteran w/offr
Wurttemburg Horse Jagers – small average veteran w/arty
Wurttemburg Horse Artillery – small average veteran w/skirmish

Have never played conscripts before so I will look forward to the new experience. I’ve tried to design a quick-hitting force that will probably get smashed by the Major Powers of the times but fare reasonably well against the minor nations. It’s fine though as I really like playing a bit off-centre with my Napoleonic armies anyway, preferring to avoid the main players, like France or the English. Cheers.


4 March 2017

So I’m putting together a Wurttemburg list for the game next weekend. Finding the unreformed and reformed element of the list generator annoyingly inaccurate: the Wurttemburgers were close allies of the French between 1805 and 1814 so would have been thoroughly exposed to the initiatives the French military were innovating at the time, unlike the Austro-Hungarians, and other similar nations, who persisted with being unreformed for a long while still.

Anyway, the list I’ve generated has one of the units as unreformed while another is reformed. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit but I can’t see how one part of these Germans fought like the French while the other part didn’t. While I’m wrestling with this problem, I’ve initially decided to make it a French-Wurttemburg force — to comply with the restrictions generated. It’s an amenable solution while also a suitable trial option; if they perform well, I will stick with it, otherwise will make further changes to at least make this list playable.

I still haven’t settled on a force I will be playing at the HistorX III event yet; these Wurttemburgers are one of several options I’m looking at.

Scoring list: I’ve decided to trial a more simplified scoring system for the upcoming FoGN event. I know they have a system already in place and one that seems to meet with approval from the vast majority. But I found that it doesn’t give an accurate result, especially in games that are played and acknowledged as being real “close affairs” for both players but which the score will say something else altogether. Example: played an opponent at an earlier FoGN event. The game was relatively close but the score showed a 25-0 result. Looking at that score, that’s a whipping, no?

I’ve had the complaint aired a few times from other members of the historical gaming circle who’ve played FoGN.

The FoGN rulesbook makes mention there are several ways to score a FoGN. Taking that comment as permission to explore other scoring options, I’m working on a more simplified and yet equitable results indicator. Trialling a draft version next weekend just to see how it fares. Cheers.

obelisk-and-20mm-figures

Elements of the French component of my Wurttemburg list being built. They are protecting the 3D-printed obelisk. Good models…. 🙂


12 February 2017

I forgot to mention that within our gaming group there is another Nap ruleset that’s establishing itself through one of our regulars. Grand Battles is fairly new and heavily being promoted locally. Devised by one of the people at Siege Works Studios, a Brisbane-based company, it seems to be another “new release” crowding an already crowded gaming market. Gamers are no doubt becoming more selective in what they want from games. And publishers of rules are doing their best to entice gamers to their system.

The guy who is heavily promoting the rules within our group has been asked to revise the Spanish section given it’s his area of expertise.


11 February 2017

Had a enjoyable day beside the seaside. Played over at Bryce’s home at Margate. My game with Angus of FoGN was memorable for a couple of highlights:

  • Lacking match practice, this game took quite a while to register for both of us. By the time it did, it was time to pack up and head wearily home. We do plan to make these games a regular occurrence though.
  • Because of the long day, it only confirmed my decision to run a 650 point list for the upcoming event. But we plan to make some modifications to those recommended lists in Triumph of Nations and Emperors and Eagles that we feel are inaccurate.
  • The scoring system needs to be more reflective of how close a match actually was. Ever read a historical account of a battle you’ve never heard of only to discover the outcome never tells the full story. We’ll sort something out over the time.

There were other games played today: Star Wars X Wing and Rapid Fire II. Cheers.


10 February 2017

In two minds with this ruleset (FoGN). In the past I have invested a lot of time into FoGN that has left me extremely frustrated by the time delay in publishing FoGN 2, the long-awaited upgrade. I even went as far as shedding myself of further involvement. However, once I had my gripe, I decided to give it just one more go although I really don’t see that involvement lasting all that long given my tendency to flit from project to project. Like a dandelion drifting on the warm air currents as a butterfly. 🙂

Tomorrow, however, I have a game of 800 points with a relatively new fan to FoGN. Having last played this in October 2015, I reckon I will struggle as much as my opponent because I have forgotten so much. So I expect I will spend a lot of time just figuring out how to play the game again which might lead to a frustratingly long day. Games of FoGN generally run into the three hour mark which is ludicrous when you consider you could have several games of X Wing in the same time. And there’s always a feeling of relief once a game of FoGN is over (so it looks that way to me at least); it can be likened to watching test cricket on tv without any beer or snacks. 🙂

Anyway, I’m running one of my favourite “minor” players from that period – my Bavarians.

1st-div

One of the weak points about running a Bavarian list is their cavalry and lack of any elites. They don’t have the shock value of the French Cuirassiers. Plus there just isn’t enough of them. I’ve therefore gone for the maximum four divisional type formations: 2 infantry, 1 cavalry and 1 mixed.

2nd-div

Large infantry units are handy for absorbing fire and then adding a bit of “oomph” in their engagements when they do finally make contact. The cavalry attachment is handy for shooting and assaults. The brigade commander in the mixed division allows for independent action outside of the divisional commander’s command radius.

The Bavarians historically were 2nd-class compared to the major players and some of the other lesser powers, such as Saxony whose cavalry was very good for a while. Of course, the French are the yardstick when it comes to comparing quality and performance; the Bavarians were useful allies but not entrusted with important missions. Mind you, they were long-time allies until 1813 when they finally and reluctantly joined the rest of Europe against Napoleon. By that time, too, they were a veteran force — still not first-class like their French, Russian or Prussian counterparts. And they somehow managed to survive the war without being punished too harshly for siding with the Corsican adventurer for a good number of years.

3rd-div

My opponent is running a Swedish-Finnish list which I’ve never heard of or encountered before. I do so love how some gamers are willing to embrace the lesser states of the period. After playing French or Russians so many times, it’s fairly safe to assume how my Bavarians will generally fare against these powerhouses of the period.

4th-div

I do have other lists either completed or in varying stages of completion. In no particular order, I have an 1809 Austro-Hungarian (originally for a proposed but never actioned Danube campaign), an 1805 Russian (Austerlitz period), and more than enough for two complete 1812 Russian corps lists (with one being all-Guards). On the workbench, I have started on an 1809  French (possibly Davout’s Corps), an 1810 British/Spanish/Portugese list (not yet fashioned on a personality yet) and an 1812 Neapolitan/Italian Corps.

All 20mm plastic.

It may be that the word Corps is misleading and should really be called Division. It’s fortunate that I do have enough minis to create these Corps based on their nationality alone if need be, but I am also happy to just form single divisions from favourite periods.

I haven’t delved too deeply into the mire that is the current FoGN core rule set while the two subsequent period volumes Triumph of Nations and Emperors and Eagles are simply recommended listing for individual nations at certain times.

The basic main gripe I have with the FoGN rulebook is that it feels like some patchwork of jumbled afterthoughts. You’re constantly flipping from one section to another and then another just for clarification on one issue! There is no coherent logical sequence that makes reading simple yet easy. There are elements throughout that can easily lead to varying individual interpretations. In plain, the design of the book leaves a lot to be desired.

FoGN 2 is supposed to fix this. And it’s meant to “fine-tune” some of the more technical elements within the rules themselves so that it results in a more enjoyable game.

I have said it often and that opinion still hasn’t changed that FoGN is one of the better corps-level games on the market. FoGN is also very well suited to tournament-level gaming. The only problem might be they need to somehow revamp the scoring to reflect the quality of the match.

In the last tournament I played, I came close to defeating my opponent (who eventually went on to win the event) but because the scoring doesn’t take into account “the closeness of the game”, I ended up losing 0-25 (a game is scored out of 25 – lots of tables and numbers). Yet, the loss wasn’t a tabling in normal sense of the term; I just ran out of time and manpower to achieve my goal by game’s end. Even he admitted it was a close game. Yet the score said it all: it might look like I was given a hiding yet it wasn’t. I never felt demoralised as I might normally feel when being table-smacked (as when I used to play Warhammer Fantasy).

It may have to do with the fact I connect more with Napoleonics than I do with Fantasy because I have a long familiarity with the former period than the latter universe. Anyway, if they fix up the scoring system to make it less severe than it currently is, that’ll be one less complaint to deal with.

If FoGN is to division/corps level gaming as AWRG is to brigade/division, then DBN (De Bellis Napoleonicis) is the next level up being corps/army level friendly. Whereas FoGN requires a lot of time, money, minis, involvement, DBN is your version of a beer-and-pretzel night but with that sense of satisfaction in knowing once again you’ve saved the known world from that tyrant Napoleonic. Or, if you’re a Francophile, you’ve advanced the glory of L’Empereur to the greater masses of ignoramuses and incompetents. FoGN can be quite intense and serious most times, but DBN is strictly fun yet engaging without leaving you feeling like you should be somewhere else right at that particular moment.

The main reason, so I’m speculating, for this is that with DBN you only require a few models. If you’re like me, I actually painted the bases of my “army list” in a distinctive colour, such as my British/Highlander army which have a light blue base; my Austro-Hungarian list is yellow (of course), my Russians are purple and my French bases are red (nice contrast to their predominantly French blue uniforms).

I do so like DBN but rarely get to play it these days. If a game becomes overly complicated in its gaming mechanism, or the rules are so overpowering as to make the experience a fairly trying one, then it’s not really a game. I keep thinking how all the great sports are so easy to learn. Chess is perhaps the best example of how a game should be. The moves are simple to learn. But what you do after that is up to you. Somehow, I just can’t seem to see that with FoGN, or most Nap games to be honest. Hence why I like DBN out of the three rules I play in the period. Maybe it’s because it’s akin to how abstract a level chess is but which something like FoGN is not.

I won’t say much on AWRG other than to say it’s offers better options for resolving issues raised that FoGN tends to ignore or fails to fix, such as pretty much everything! But AWRG is such a localised content that its wider appeal is limited. It seems a case of some local lads taking the initiative and making their own improvements to an already existing system that work without too much fuss or interference both internally and without.

With FoGN, because the market is much wider (i.e. global) that initiative seems hindered and delayed. Even the two lads currently headlining the improvements to FoGN 2 (Richard from Melbourne and Brett from Auckland) seem caught up in the machinations of the powers-that-be that control the fate of FoGN from a business perspective. The lengthy delays in getting the green light to actually make the long-anticipated improvements has only added to seeming frustration felt by many. But everything seems to finally moving along nicely, and we can only pray that FoGN 2 will finally see light of day some time soon in mid-2017.

AWRG is a game that initially excited me but little has come of it since the guy who tutored me is no longer a part of my immediate gaming circle. Interest waned quickly and I moved on to other systems.

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Author: b20f08

I enjoy solo wargaming and writing. The first caters to the boy that never grew up; the latter satisfies a deep desire to communicate. Cheers.

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