Thursday, February 11, 2016

Diplomacy Game 2016: Spring 1901 Results

Some interesting opening moves.   Russia moves south and Germany moves west, indicating some degree of trust between the two.   Likewise, Austria and Italy appear to have an understanding allowing them to pursue other goals, particularly carving up the Balkans.  France may have to look over her shoulder at that English army.

I am hoping that the Daily Dissembler can locate Sir Erasmus Blatt for more in depth analysis.  

Results for Spring, 1901 (Movement)

General Notices:

No retreating units; retreat phase skipped.Order resolution
completed on 11-Feb-2016 at 05:26:31 EST

Order Results:

Austria:  A bud -ser ;  F tri -adr; A vie - bud

England:  F edi - nwg; A lvp - wal; F lon - eng

France: F bre -mao; A mar - spa; A par -pic

Germany: A ber -kie; F kie - hol;  A mun Holds

Italy: F nap -ion; A rom - nap; A ven - tus

Russia: A mos -sev;  F sev - rum;  F stp/sc - gt; bot; A war -ukr

Turkey: F ank -bla; A con -bul; A smy - con



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First Thoughts On Playing "Scharnhorst: Campaigning With Blucher" Solo

 I have been a big fan of Sam Mustafa’s Blucher since it came out last year.   I know there are more complex Napoleonics rules out there, but for where I am right now they work for me.
One part of Blucher I haven’t yet explored is the Scharhorst campaign system.   Here’s what I’ve managed to figure out so far.  

If they are not playing an historical campaign, players draw up armies using the Blucher points system and then choose one of the maps provided on Sam’s Honour website, such as this one of a fictive bit of Southern Germany (the other maps as I recall them are Northern Germany, Poland/Russia, Italy, and the Penninsula).  Players then secretly determine how many of their cavalry units they will allocate to scouting, giving them an intelligence score.  The player with the higher score gets to choose the map edge they will enter on.

After dividing their purchased armies into groups called Columns, players then take turns pay movement points to maneuvre their columns on the map, seeking Victory Points for capturing villages, towns and cities.   Some of these can be captured during any of the five days of the campaign, and others are controlled when a battle is decided on the tabletop.

Scharnhorst is not so much a game as a battle generator for the tabletop. Under certain conditions, a player can declare a battle when he has a column in contact with an opposing column. The area of the battle is a 2 X 3 block of six squares. If columns have the movement to reach one of those squares, they are part of the battle. If they have the movement to reach a square adjacent to the battle, they may enter as reinforcements.

 So for example, in this instance, Blue Column B has declared the battle and the area runs from Blue Col A to red Col 4 and the three squares below them, of which Blue Col B is in the middle.  Red Col 2 and Blue Col C may possibly enter as reinforcements, but the other two blue columns can’t reach the battle in time.

The only problem with all this is that Scharnhorst it isn’t great for solo play, since I know exactly which units are allotted to which columns.  Playing solo,  am pretty much guaranteed a big, relatively even battle, since I can move as many units as possible into the melee using my omniscient vantage point.

 I crave the idea of grand operational level Napoleonic actions, with corps blundering into the enemy, or probing to discover him, then couriers riding frantically to reach supporting corps, orders hastily drawn up, and troops set in motion for the great collision of arms.  How can I capture that by myself?

It occurred to me that I could start by writing orders for one side, let’s say for Blue.  These orders would specify the entrance square, the route of march, and the objectives for each Column.  The orders might also specify the posture of a column, ranging from act cautiously to act boldly and seek an engagement.

I would them write a set of programmed orders for Red.  Perhaps I write three sets of orders:  1) Mass 3 of 4 columns on left side of map and advance towards opposite left edge.  2) Mass 3 of 4 columns on right side of map and advance towards opposite right edge.   3) Divide force evenly into 4 columns, no more than three squares apart, and advance on the centre. Then I mightroll to see which of these three orders Red adopts.  

As columns came into contact with one another, I could use the Scouting the Enemy rule on p. 144 of the Blucher rulebook to determine if one side or another learns how many units are in an enemy column.  Perhaps a scouting table could specify various levels of knowledge to be determined by die roll with various modifiers, depending on the number of cavalry units present in each column, type of terrain, etc.  Once in contact with an enemy column that is successfully scouted, I could send couriers to neighbouring friendly columns, dicing randomly for their speed, safe arrival, and accuracy of their information.   A further roll might determine if the commander of the supporting column is willing to abandon his initial orders to march in support and thus arrive at the battle.  

It’s late and I am getting tired, but I think I have something to think about and experiment with.
If you have any experience on playing Scharnhorst solo in a satisfying way, please say something about it in the comments.

Maybe another approach would be to recruit some players, run the Scarnhorst game double blind using this blog, and once the battle is figured out, move it to the tabletop?  Hmmmm.

Blessings to your die rolls!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

One Seat Is Now Free


One of the players in the Play By Blog Diplomacy game featured here of late has had to withdraw due to a sad circumstance.

If there is any good news here, it is that the game has not yet begun.

The open country is Turkey.   The first turn moves (S 1901) are not yet in and we will give you extra time to get your diplomatic overtures going.

Six other talented players are ready to go and looking forward to a great game.   Would you like to be player 7, the Sultan of the Ottomans?  Turkey is an interesting position to play in classic Diplomacy.

If you’re interested, please email me at mad padre (at) gmail (dot) com.    First come, first served.


Friday, February 5, 2016

6mm French Chasseurs and Some New Real Estate

My Napoleonic French light cavalry get some reinforcements this week with two stands of French Chasseurs a Cheval off the painting desk.  The figures are by Baccus.

Not that you can tell, but the red collars and cuffs identify most of these guys as being from the 1st Regiment, with a few of the 2nd mixed in.   The bases are laser cut MDF from Six Squared Studios and the flocking material is from Baccus.   When I started basing the collection I bought in 2014, I was trying to get as many based as possible, and so the flocking was pretty basic.  Now I feel I can spend a bit more time making the bases look good.

Ready to screen the army from the probing eyes of Kaiserlich hussars.


Another project finished this week is this stand to represent a small town.  The two buildings are from Timecast and together they form the town of Alte Schlompburg.  

The roads are my own creation, cardboard coloured with pastel crayons.  I think I need to lighten them up more to better match the road painted on the town base. I also think I need many many more road sections.


After a night carousing in Alte Schlompburg, the chasseurs prepare to ride away, leaving much broken crockery and a few broken hearts.

Many thanks for looking, and blessings to your brushes!


These figures bring my 2016 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 29; Mounted Figures: 1

6mm:  Mounted figures:  15;  Buildings:  2

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Gaming Roundup - Lions and Eagles

I haven’t had a chance to blog this yet, but last Thursday at the games club I finally got a chance to try Lion Rampant.   After Bruce and Charles had finished their first game, between two Dark Ages forces, Charles graciously gave me the chance to play a re-set with his Islemen army. 

I was impressed at how quick and decisive the game is   Combats between units are short, sharp and decisive, and units which are beaten in combat have a tendency to disintegrate shortly thereafter.   At the same time, the unit activiations are unpredictable and can be pleasantly frustrating.  My wild and crazy foot were perfectly positioned to charge a weakened unit, but sat at the bottom of the hill and soaked up arrows for several turns.  Ugh.   

Fortunately I held back my two strong units of armoured foot, along with my hotheaded leader, until the endgame and wiped the table with them.  Here Bruce’s archers stand nervously around, waiting for a buzz saw of bearded psychos in armour and axes to descend on them.   

I quite like LR and look forward to trying its fantasy cousin, Dragon Rampant.

On Sunday I made the hour long drive south to Toronto to play one of Glenn Pearce’s epic 6mm Napoleonic games.   The last time I was there in the summer we did Ligny, and since then Glenn and his chosen men have been slowly studying the Waterloo Campaign.  This time it was the latter half of Plancenoit.  When the scenario starts, the French hold the town and Lobau’s corps is extended  in line, hoping to slow down the Prussians.  I was assigned the Prussian right under Bulow and had all sorts of advantages including a cavalry brigade (Beier) that was free to right around the left flank of the French.  You can see them on the top right, getting ready to charge into the back of Bony’s brigade while Loebell’s infantry brigade pins Bony from the front.   At the left centre, my other good brigade of infantry, under Lettow, marches forward for a firefight with Thevenet’s brigade.

I was very fortunate on my left.  Before this photo was taken, Lettow’s brigade staggered Thevenet’s with very lucky musketry, and then charged home, Lettow leading from the front.  I won the melee, dissolving Thevenet’s brigade, but losing Lettow for a turn to a slight wound.  That meant his brigade milled about in confusion, and blocked the follow on brigades from exploiting the hole in the line.

On the right, Beier’s brigade of cavalry charges Bony’s brigade.   In these rules, are assumed to take the most advantageous formation.  So, Bony’s brigade have the advantage in fighting the cavalry and see of Beier, destroying one of his three units of Uhlans.  I was a little frustrated that the French infantry was not considered to be in square and thus suffer the fire of Loebell’s troops.  However, I was delighted to learn that they were considered to be turned about, so Loebell was able to charge them in the rear and shatter them   


Chris, as the French player, now had nothing to stop Bulow except for some Young Guard skirmishers, whom he gamely pushed forward.   But that was pretty much the game.  With Lettow’s brigade back under command and reformed, and reinforcements coming up behind, I was in good shape to crack the French line wide open.



On my left there was lots of stuff going on in Plancenoit, but I didn’t have time to really follow it.   



Glenn’s rules will be published by Baccus under the title of Ruse de Guerre, and will be marketed as American Revolution to War of 1812.  Glenn and his chums think they work well enough for Napoleonic battles.   For my part I would probably use Blucher for a battle this size,  but I can see the use of a group sticking to one set of rules to give them a common gaming language.   It was certainly grand to play in a large battle at a small scale, and to get a sense of the strategic problems Napoleon faced in trying to halt the Prussians at Plancenot.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Daily Dissembler Spring 1901

We have a new game of Diplomacy under way and that means, a new issue of The Daily Dissembler!  MP+

The Daily Dissembler, Special European Gazette Issue, April 1, 1901

 We make sense of a complicated, far-off world so you, dear reader, can enjoy the Gilded Age.



Washington, DC:

Readers seeking to plan their summer excursions to the Continent are perturbed by rumours of war that are emanating from all the great capitals.  Unconfirmed reports say that several ministries of war have called in extra staff to begin drafting mobilization and call up orders. Our correspondents in London, Berlin and St. Petersburg all report heightened activity in the foreign ministries and among the diplomatic missions.  Indeed, our Man on the Spot, Ernest Harrington, has sent us an exclusive cable on the situation, which we print in its entirety below.  

This week both the Cunard and White Star lines both issued statements saying that they anticipated no inconvenience to their passengers, and that all sailings for the next two months will continue as scheduled.   In a statement released last Sunday, the Secretary of State, Mr. Adelphius Vinsack, called upon all European heads of state to refrain from incendiary statements that can only stoke further tensions.  “I am disturbed that responsible monarchs are making statements calling for “ramshackle empires” to be plundered and seized.  Europe is not a particularly succulent fowl to be carved up.  Which reminds me, I am happy to preside over peace talks, provided that they are to be held at some salubrious venue.  Biarritz is very nice in the spring.”

Is this the future of the “ramshackle empires”of Europe?  This journal hopes not!


The Kaiser in Kiel


His Imperial Majesty today attended the laying down ceremony of a new battleship, reported to be faster and stronger than any currently employed in the world.  This new ship is to be named Kaiserin Friedrich in honour of his recently deceased mother (and through her of his grandmother Queen Victoria).


“In so naming this great vessel we acknowledge the bringing together of two strands: for modern Germany is already acknowledged to be the heir of Frederich Der Grosse’s military supremacy; now we stake out that naval supremacy formerly claimed by Britannia.  There are representatives of many navies here:  I say to them ‘Report back to your Admiralties that you have seen something new here today.  You have seen the might of the Imperial German Navy reforged!’”

Wither Europe?

By Our Special Correspondent, Mr Ernest Harrington




There is a strange game played by Foreign Correspondents.  To better inform their readers, they try to guess where the next European Confabulation will spring up.  Given the fragile state of the continent, there are many candidates for this hotspot.  Reporters from rival papers have placed themselves in Athens, Trieste or Warsaw.  I am here in Brussels.  Miss Amelia Roosevelt is, I believe, in Llandrindod Wells.


Belgium is a gloomy place.  The streets are subdued.  The lights burn late in the Foreign Ministry as instructions are drafted to this tiny nation’s ambassadors.  Above all, the message is ‘Find a Protector!’   I am told that the diplomatic outlook has not been so grim since 1814.  England, France and Germany all hover in the wings.  Which will invade?  Which will hold back, claiming the other’s aggression as a casus belli?  The truth is that none of these Powers can be trusted to prevent an invasion.  


Who, then, can the Belgians rely on?  There are wild rumours of Turks being seen patrolling the Ardenne Forest or Volga Rivermen plying the canals.  A more sensible alliance would be with Italy or Austria – each in a position to deter France or Germany.  Yet with no-one to threaten England’s borders, invasion seems certain.


Whatever happens, Your Man is On the Spot.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Italy

Communique for the Period of Spring 1901

The current tensions racking Europe are forcing all the major powers to examine where their interests lie, Italy included.

The Balkan region is currently destablising all neighbouring kingdoms. If there is to be a carve up of this region between the major powers, Italy must be included. Her vital interests in the region must be protected against aggressive acquisitiveness of other powers.

Some nations are also not helping the current period of instability by communicating with the representatives of the Kingdom of Italy in a manner which could only be charitably described as high-handed. While we are a nation only recently united, we have a long and glorious history to reflect on and our honour will not stand further insult!

Italy extends the open hand of friendship to all Europe, but be warned; The open hand can easily turn into a mailed fist!

June's Military Manual on European Affairs - 1901 Edition
Your indispensable guide to military gossip and intrigue.

This year has seen a phenomenal developments in the European Defence sector - here are some of the most important advances :-
Russia has announced an increase in it's defence spending and plans to create 5 new regiments of FEMALE line infantry - these brand new troops will also be undertaking special training in complex drill procedures that allow them all to fit inside one another. Also on the horizon Russia has announced new maneuvres planned for the Summer involving occupying the Black Sea, Galicia, Prussia and Sweden.

Turkey has agreed a new deal with its uniform suppliers that will see the size of its shoes increase by 3ft in length and also get even more pointy. This 'modernisation' is said to be very popular with the troops who think it will greatly help them when marching. They also have maneuvres planned for the Black Sea, which could lead to problems with the Russians, and also for Bulgaria and Armenia.
Italy's Armaments Minister gave a press conference recently showcasing the latest technology within their forces - they have now managed to train their cavalry to walk-trot-canter and gallop forwards, as well as the Italian tradition of backwards. The Regia Marina also announced an expedition to North Africa alongside the army's planned trip to Tyrol and the South of France.
Austria-Hungary's Defence Minister has revealed exciting new developments for their defence plan. He said "We have decided to stop waiting for our opponents to get to Vienna before we defeat them - this revolutionary idea will hopefully mean that we can actually have an agricultural and industrial economy without them being periodically destroyed by invading nations". He also told of military exercises in Tyrolia and Serbia alongside the creation of a regiment of 'Gondola' borne infantry - their use as yet unspecified. 

Germany has announced a change of its ration policy with regard to its military. This marks a change from the longstanding idea of 'live of the land' and now its troops will be able to feast on 3 Wurst, and a pint of Sauerkraut a day. This is said to be hugely popular with the rank and file. In similar news, they also announced a 500% increase in the military's use of toilet paper. Alongside these changes, summer drills were announced for Tyrolia, the Low Countries and Denmark. 
France has had a difficult year for its military following the crippling attack on its main white flag factory. Since then it has bounced back and has recently announced a huge increase in recruitment, with many volunteers being apparently drawn by the promise of good meals. The Defence Procurement minister has also announced a new 10,000 Franc contract with a small food supplier for frogs legs and snails. The French top brass has also announced a summer excursion to Iberia and to North Italy and the Low Countries, although analysts say that this may be beyond the resources of the still recovering French Military.

England has broken with its longstanding tradition of preferring to pick on Colonial nations this year and has thrown itself into European affairs. The Chief of the Imperial General Staff announced great expansions in the Catering Corps allowing for roast beef to be served every lunch and that tea ration to go up from 1 to 5 gallons of tea a day. Coupled with this, the Navy announced planned trips to Iberia, Norway and the Coast of France.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Paint Table Saturday

Two resin 6mm buildings by Timecast, suitable for anywhere in Northern Europe.  They will be grouped together on this base to signify a small town.   I suspect that at some point they will be requisitioned for billets by La Grande Armee.


Blessings to your brushes!



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