Sunday, February 28, 2016

Daily Dissembler, Spring 1902 Extra Edition

This edition of the Daily Dissembler is dedicated to the memory of Robert Audin, who passed away recently at too young an age.  Robert was an avid war gamer, painter, and blogger.  He played Russia in the Diplomacy game I ran here in 2014, and I like to think he would have enjoyed the Dissembler's gentle silliness.   He was creative and clever, with many ideas and projects that sadly died with him.  Rest in peace, friend.  MP+

The Daily Dissembler, Special European Gazette Issue, June 15, 1902
 We make sense of a complicated world so you, dear reader, can enjoy the Gilded Age.

“A Turn-up for the Books!”  Our Expert Offers His Analysis

General Erasmus Blatt.

The editors are delighted that General Blatt, hero of the Empire’s campaign to subjugate the striking coal miners of Tiddleypool, has agreed to provide commentary on the unfolding events in Europe.  General Blatt’s column is syndicated by the Rioters News Agency.

A few surprising revelations have discovered themselves in the spring campaign season for 1902.  Though your correspondent was correct about some matters, he admits to have been somewhat mistaken about others.  Then there are one or two of my forecasts that have been proved right, but in unexpected ways.  

There is no four-way alliance against the Austria-Hungary Empire.  Not that this was really expected, but it seemed possible that the Asiatic Powers at least might be in cahoots, despite events around the Black Sea coasts.  That there could be a military alliance between Addul Hamid II and Franz Josef did cross my mind, but events gave no real indication that any such arrangement existed.  As it transpires, in the Great Game, a Statesman does well to play his cards close to his chest.

It is now clear that Turkey and Austria-Hungary are acting in concert.  Their combined forces have destroyed for good the Russian Black Sea Fleet – gone forever the Romanov dream of an untrammeled sea-going passage to the Mediterranean. Further, the purpose of Turkey’s raising the army in Smyrna has been revealed.  Pursuing the Russian Army counterattacking from Armenia and recapturing Sevastopol, it is now on the borders of that Tsarist province.  The three-pronged attack in the fall season  cannot fail to ensure that Sevastopol changes hands a third time.

I can perhaps excuse my assessment of a Hapsburg- Ottoman rapprochement as unlikely by the observation that Turkey seems so far to be garnering all the fruits.  Master of the entire Black Sea littoral by the end of 1902, the Ottoman Empire will have doubled its military resources (6 supply centres from 3), the Hapsburg having expanded by a third as much (4 from 3).

The attentive reader will understand by now why your columnist expected an army to be raised in Moscow in 1901.  An army there would have secured Russia’s southern flank, at a time when neither the northern, nor yet the centre, was under threat.  Russia’s stunning – and, I confess, beguiling – coup in Scandinavia will prove scant compensation, one imagines, as events have turned out.  At that, although I expected the Arctic Fleet to take Norway, it is probably as well for the Tsar that he chose the Baltic (in Sweden) for that honour.  That is, of course, providing Russia can rely on Germany leaving Sweden, lacking a garrison, inviolate.

That might not be so misplaced a trust.   Germany’s attention has been focused westward hitherto.  Its excursion into the Tyrol is explainable in terms of distracting Austria-Hungary, and hoping thereby to disarm the threat presented by a Austro-Turkish alliance.  It has not worked, and not helped much, withal, but this effort hasn’t harmed Germany very much – not in the short term anyhow.  In view of Russia’s plight, would Germany turn and take a bite out of the corpse of an ally that is dying?  Possibly – likely if the alternative were to cede the opportunity to England.  But that seems unlikely in the short term, as to do so would weaken Russia in the north and England is the more likely to gain.  Having said that, I have been proved wrong already so far! With nothing to fear from the West, Germany is free to decide ‘where to next’.  There, I refuse to speculate, so many are the possibilities.

For its part, the Austrian Foreign Minister seems to have persuaded King Victor-Emanuel to cast his eyes westward.  Greece has been left open – presumably for the Austrians to gather up in the autumn.  Did the Emperor apprehend an Italo-German descent upon Trieste?  That would explain his spring move to ensure the place had a garrison.  Otherwise, he might have moved the fleet thereto and the Albanian army into Greece during this past season.  A ‘bounce’ would have been as good as a repulse for the Austrian defence.  The opportunity to bring Greece under Hapsburg sway remains, however.  The Sultan is unlikely to oppose it – not so early in the game, when there is so much more to be gained from the partnership.  Italy obviously has no interest in Greece whatever.

That is understandable.  If the Italian is in any way in partnership with the Austrian and the Turk, it makes sense to forego Greece the more to concentrate on western conquests.  Marseilles has fallen, and France can not soon retrieve it.  The puzzle is the move into North Africa.  Why there?  It seems that the plan is to bring the Fleet into the Western Med, then to convoy the African Army into Spain with support from Marseilles.  There is not a great deal France can do about this if England continues the pressure from the Channel.  But as this army could equally well have embarked from Tunisia as North Africa, why ‘telegraph’ the punch?  To this writer it seems it would have been cagier to have kept the army in Tunisia.  More flexible, too, as were the sudden need arise in the autumn to bring that army quickly to the home country, it might have been accomplished at once, the army being convoyed across the Tyrrhenian Sea.  The King must really trust the Emperor!

Could France – can France – resist Italy’s planned tide of conquest into the Iberian Peninsula?  Possibly, if Germany stays (apparently) neutral, and England abandons its war with France.  That England might well patch up a peace with France, now, is not unlikely, given the loss of its Norwegian supply base, and French naval superiority in what we probably ought now to call ‘La Manche’.  France has been canny enough to send its newly raised fleet from Brest into the Channel, which leaves La Republique with resources sufficient, by the look, to retain possession of Spain and Portugal both – at least for the time being. 

Will England persist with its war against France, or try to retrieve its fortunes in Scandinavia?  No alternatives to these options suggest themselves, and neither of them seem especially promising of favourable outcomes.  The Spring battles in the Channel have left England’s naval resources somewhat dislocated.  Were the Channel Fleet now in London instead of the Army (which had gone to York, say) then England might well have reasserted its control of Norway.  Even that plan could not have been successfully concluded before mid-1903.  Can it be achieved at all?  One would have to hope that in the next eighteen months nothing would conspire to prevent it.  How likely is that?

Suppose England were instead to persist in its efforts to subjugate the Republic.  Something might be achieved with the former’s overall superiority at sea, but it would take at least half a year to bring it into concerted action, placing all three somewhere along the Irish Sea-Channel coast-North sea line. 

Whatever strategy is chosen,  the Ministry of the incoming PM, the Earl of Balfour, is placed in an unenviable and difficult position.  One imagines that the diplomatic channels between England and its nearest Continental neighbours, including Italy, will be carrying a deal of traffic in the second half of 1902!

It is true to say that the strategic situation of France is little better than England’s.  It is imperative that she hold Spain in the fall – even at the cost of giving up control of La Manche.  Even then, the loss of Marseille guarantees she can not expand her military. Italy can, and that spells the latter’s likely achieving mastery over the Mediterranean Sea west of the Ionian.  This is provided, of course, there remains no threat developing against Italy in the east.  No doubt Italy will be seeking dialogue with Austria and Turkey as well as with England… and Germany… At any rate, I should not be surprised if a spanking new Fleet sails out of Naples or Rome, come the Spring campaign in 1903.

Rioters Association 1 July 1902

Bonus Edition!  Turkey’s Leading Newspaper, Translated For Our Readers (courtesy of Mr. R. Pasha, the Turkish player)
(Click for a larger image)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Diplomacy Game: Spring 1902 (Turn 3) Results

I can vouch for the fact (because I pay the telegraph boys and lick the envelopes) that the cables and dispatches are flying between the European capitals after Turn 3 of our Diplomacy Game.  Here are the moves for S1902.

Note the first instance of international cooperation, as Austria’s Army in Serbia helps the Turks to take Rumania, destroying the Russian fleet there.  Germany plays it cautious this turn but plucks the low-hanging fruit of Denmark, while England’s situation worsens as, with Norway gone, she loses her only build thus far.    While France can feel confident in the north, the Italians marching into Marseilles must be an unpleasant shock.

Results for Spring, 1902 (Movement)

General Notices:

Order resolution completed on 26-Feb-2016 at 08:13:49 EST

Order Results:


 F adr Supports A alb -tri; A alb - tri;   A ser Supports A bul -rum;  A vie Holds


 F eng Supports F lon - nth  Support cut by Move from Brest. Dislodged from bre (2 against 1).

 F lon - nth;  F nwy - nwg;  A wal - lon


France: F bre - eng;  mao Supports F bre - eng;  A pic Holds; A por - spa


 F bel Holds;  A hol Holds; F kie -  den; A mun Supports A tyr; A tyr Holds


 F ion - tys;  A pie - mar;  A tun - naf;   A ven Holds


The Fleet in Rumania cannot retreat; unit destroyed.
A arm - sev; F rum Holds  Dislodged from bul (2 against 1). 

F stp/nc Supports F swe - nwy; F swe - nwy; A ukr Supports A arm - sev


Turkey: F ank Supports F sev - bla; A bul - rum;  A con - bul;  F sev - bla; A smy - arm


Here is the situation as of the Retreats Phase.   England’s fleet is driven out of the English Channel, and only has two retreats, the Irish Sea or Wales.   I await the English player’s decision.    Hard times at the Admiralty as the south coast now lie within range of French naval artillery.  


Expect the next turn this Sunday.   Subscribers to the Daily Dissembler may see an issue before then.   Your letters to the editor are encouraged.

Blessings to your intrigues!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Daily Dissembler, Spring 1902


The Daily Dissembler, Special European Gazette Issue, January 15, 1902

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




Our Man on the Spot – Ernest Harrington – Reports




Mr. Harrington and his staff.

 As predicted in my last despatch, Europe has erupted into conflict.  Belgium and the Balkans have proved to be the main theatres of war.  

  The suggestion of less experienced, dilettante correspondents that a British force massing in Wales was poised to leap across the Channel proved far-fetched – that was a mere sideshow, easily rebuffed by the French.  The British fleet in the English Channel did have an effect though.  It resulted in the recall of the French fleet and prompted the Germans to march into Belgium ‘to keep the peace’.  Some will assume that England has worked hand-in-glove with the Germans or other powers.  Some will assume that those foolish reporters who trumpeted news of a cross-Channel invasion were victims of a clever bluff aimed at distracting the world’s eye from the Scandinavian Question.

 No less puzzling is what is happening in Southern Europe.  Russia and Turkey have long fought over the Crimea, but on this occasion they seemed to have missed each other completely!  Will either or both drive on into each other’s territory, or will they re-coup?  And what of Austria and Italy?  Either could prove to be the deciding ally in an Russo-Turkish War, but at what price?  Of the two, Austria may seems the weakest, but she is in the better position to wrest concessions from a suitor.

 Whatever happens, be assured that Your Man on the Spot – Ernest Harrington – will report!





In a recent speech to the Weimar Women’s’ Guild His Imperial Majesty the Kaiser made the following declaration.


“It has long been the dearest wish of the German peoples – those within the current borders of our country, and our dear brothers and sisters living outside them – for a peaceful Europe.  We have a long martial history and we know, more than outsiders, what war brings to our doors.


“We will do all that will can to ensure peace!  Even now our trusted diplomats are working to forge lasting alliances.  But know this!  Woe betide those who take our hand in pretended friendship!  For those who betray us will feel the weight of our justified anger!


“As I speak, dear ladies, our troops – your husbands, your sons – have moved into Belgium to prevent that gallant country from being an arena for conflict between England and France.  But do not fear!  Those countries are our friends and We are sure that no such conflict will arise.  Our boys will be back before the autumn leaves fall!”







Our Artist’s Impression of the Battle of Brest


In a significant naval action in the English Channel, a British assault on the French port of Brest has been repulsed.  Following tensions raised by the movement of the British Expeditionary Force to Welsh ports, the British government declared war in all but name.   Ironclads of the Royal Navy exchanged broadsides with French coastal artillery, and succeeded in disembarking Marines and soldiers near the port of Brest.   Over the next week, however, France’s Army of Picardy and squadrons from the Middle Atlantic fought a sustained battle on land and sea before the British were forced to withdraw.  In the House of Commons, loud demands for the resignation of the government have paralyzed parliament, and the British media have criticized the government for a policy of “reckless adventurism”.


Meanwhile, Austrian and Italian spokesmen are being close-lipped about an incident in the Adriatic in November when the two countries’ navies clashed over several days off the Albanian coast.   While the engagement was considerable, it did not prevent the Reggia Marina from landing troops in North Africa.  Nevertheless, several light ships on both sides are said to be lost, and at least one capital ship is said to have returned to her home port of Naples with visible shell damage.     However, neither government has taken a hostile tone since the incident, and an unofficial source in the Austrian naval ministry blames an error in signalling.  “Our ships were ordered to fire a salute in honour of King Victor Emmanuel, and instead the order to Commence Firing was hoisted.  It was a terrible error, and we regret the loss of life.  The signalling ensign responsible has been tried arrested and sadly drowned in custody."




The Austrian Navy in happier days

Finally, naval experts are agog at the Turkish coup de main which seized the Russian Black Seas Fleet’s home port of Sevastapol.  Our in-house naval expert, Admiral Dred Knott, USN (Ret), told this paper that“We had no idea their ships were even seaworthy.  The Turks surprised us all just by getting up steam.  We really underrated them and it looks like the Rooskies did, too.”    According to one rumour, the bold stroke was made possible by an equally bold misinformation campaign by the Turks.   “The Fezzies seem to have spread the word that the Sultan’s harem was starting a European tour”, said Admiral Knott.  “Girls on boats.  Wouldn’t that be a sight, eh?  Heh heh heh.  Mmmmm  ...  hem hem.  But when the gangplank went down and a bunch of hairy bashi-bazouks poured off, that was quite a shock for ‘em.  Clever fellows, them Turks."




General Erasmus Blatt.

The editors are delighted that General Blatt, hero of the Empire’s campaign to subjugate the Midgets of M'bhutto, has agreed to provide commentary on the unfolding events in Europe.  General Blatt’s column is syndicated by the Rioters News Agency.


“The lamps have gone out, but the flames have been ignited!”

Commentary by General Sir Erasmus Blatt for Rioters Press.  January 1 1902.

The turmoil underlying the apparently serene opening to the European troubles as we entered the 20
th Century of Our Lord has broken out into a maelstrom so soon that even your correspondent is finding difficult to navigate.  

The Emperor’s plans have been sabotaged – whether or not with malice aforethought – by the Kaiser; Russia, after its apparently disastrous loss of Sevastopol might not be so poorly placed after all; France, without any loss to deplore, and a victory to its credit, might well be finding 1902 a more interesting year than is strictly desirable.  Turkey has made a solid beginning and pulled off a stunning coup de main as well, Austria-Hungary might feel some disappointment with its modest successes in 1901; Italy ends the year on a sound footing, and Germany?  Germany has confounded us all, with a brilliant seizure of the Low Countries in their entirety, but what is that Army doing in the Tyrol?

The Porte seems to be recovering some of the energy that fuelled the Ottomans’ former greatness.  To accompany a stolid slow absorption of Bulgaria, The Black Sea Fleet has seized Sevastopol, and left a Russian Army stranded in the mountains of Armenia. That guaranteed the Sultan two builds this winter: an Army recruited in Smyrna, and a reinforcement to the Black Sea Fleet.  Henceforth, the Russian Fleet will have its work cut out to maintain a presence in these waters.  Before turning to Russia’s position, this writer was a little surprised that an Army was raised in Smyrna, rather than a Fleet.  A Mediterranean Fleet (it seemed to me) would have offered the Porte a more flexible approach to the Balkans.  All the same, Turkey bids fair to become a major player in that part of the world.

Russia’s position is by no means as compromised as the loss of Sevastopol might suggest.  One begins indeed to wonder if there is a subtle and brilliant mind advising Russia affairs.  Matters have been so arranged in the south that Turkey cannot maintain its hold upon the Donbas and Crimea (i.e. “Sevastopol”).  Can Russia still hold Romania, then?  That remains to be seen.  If the Sultan and the Emperor are in cahoots, the Tsar will not long retain control in the south.  But it is clear that he will get Sevastopol back in the spring.  Turkey can not hold it.  Perhaps there was never any expectation that it could.

One observes the building of the Fleet at Murmansk (St Petersburg, North Coast) with considerable surprise, having expected an Army to be raised at Moscow.  To be sure, an Arctic Fleet makes sense, but unless he is planning to strike at once to seize Norway… Ah! There we have it.  There have been persistent rumours of a sage head upon young shoulders, a junior official in the Foreign Office, a certain Vladimir Putin, having the ear of the Tsar.  England is in no position to defend Norway in the spring, nor, in all likelihood, to recover it in the following autumn.  With such slender resources, Russia seems poised to strike England a mighty blow.

Now, with whom has Russia reached an accord?  If with Germany, a certain move by one of the Kaizer’s Armies begins to make sense.

In an earlier commentary, I remarked that what appeared to be differences of opinion between England and France were likely to redound the advantage of Germany.  So it has proved.  Distracted from carrying out its traditional plan of securing Belgium as well as the Iberian Peninsula, La Republique could manage but one build going into 1902.  Given its successful repulse there of the attempted invasion by a British Fleet, the raising of a second Fleet in Brest might not have been the wisest course.  An Army in Paris would have been the more flexible option – unless France has good reason to place the highest level of trust in Italy’s resistance to temptation.  There is some very low hanging fruit in Marseilles.  Italy has merely to stretch forth its hand, and Marseilles may be plucked.

England’s aggression against France has yielded the Island Nation few dividends.  Norway has fallen to her lot, as anticipated, but the fleet occupying that country is isolated, without hope of support until the second half of the year.  Russia is well placed to exploit that very circumstance.  Indeed, that the Tsar is planning the occupation of the whole of Scandinavia north of the Skaggerak is the sole explanation for his raising an Arctic Fleet.  Once in Norway, Russia’s Arctic and the Baltic Fleets will be mutual supporting, and not to be dislodged any time soon.

So much for the edges of the Pan-European strife.  Now for the Central Powers.  Germany has done very well for itself in conquering the whole of the Lowland  States.  Unoccupied as yet, Denmark will enter Germany’s growing hegemony during 1902.  But a large question mark raises itself over why a German Army entered the Tyrol.  Had it invaded Burgundy instead, then, together with Italy and possibly England, Germany might have been able to pick over France’s bones.  Closer investigation, however, suggests that Italy stood to gain most from such an alliance, and even England might have benefited more.  

But what lies behind the Tyrol invasion?  There was never much hope of seizing Vienna, nor yet Venice.  One feels that Germany has some, so far secret, deal with one of the Asiatic States: the Turk, or the Muscovite, most likely the latter.  The Army in Tyrol is intended as a distraction to the Hofkriegsrat Oesterreich, keeping Austria’s armed forces away from Russia’s borders.  

It is not altogether inconceivable that, if talks haven’t taken place already, the Eastern Powers might patch up their differences, end the Black Sea war, and divide between them the Balkans and the Austria-Hungary Empire.  Germany might be rewarded with Vienna. Italy, if it is part of this alliance might receive the long-coveted Trieste.  I don’t really think whatever agreement exists in the East extends quite so far west, but it is not impossible, nor even unlikely.  Be that as it may, it is clear  that more than one pair of hungry eyes are fixed upon the  Austria-Hungarian Empire.  

The Kingdom of Italy finds itself, without at all overextending its resources or straining towards the unachievable, in an immensely powerful and influential position.  Marseilles is there for the taking, and will be held through to the fall.  Furthermore, Italy has as much chance of seizing Greece as has Austria-Hungary, by, say convoying the Tunisia Army thereto.  But will Italy want to do that?  Italy might prefer, indeed, to support and Austrian Army there, leaving the Empire to form a bulwark against Turkish expansion, whilst Italy pursues a westward policy.  If England, and possibly Germany, can be induced to apply pressure from the north, there is no reason why Italy might not conquer the Iberian Peninsula and become Master of the Western Mediterranean.

The turbid surface of European affairs hides, I think, even more tangled webs of subterfuge lying beneath.  One suspects that behind England’s opening moves has been the Kaiser’s honeyed words and poisonous intent; that Germany and Russia have at least a covert ‘understanding’ if not a formal alliance of a aggression; that Turkey and Russia might possibly be playing a double game of deceit to mask their real policies.  It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Austria-Hungary has been marked out for dismemberment by the four surrounding powers.  Urgently needing friends are France and Austria-Hungary.  France won’t find one in Italy, and will have to look north. England is as parlously placed, and Austrian-Hungary will have to do some very fast talking with Italy and at least one other of the surrounding Powers.

1902 is shaping up to be a very interesting year

Sir Erasmus Blatt


Miss Amelia Roosevelt.

Reports from Paris indicate that our reporter, Miss Amelia Roosevelt, and her governess, Mme. LaBonq, have been arrested in Paris.   French gendarmes confirm that the duo were taken into custody when the morality squad conducted a raid at a well known nightclub in the Moulin Rouge entertainment district.   The authorities gave no reason for the arrest, but noted that the two women were dressed as showgirls and could not verify their identities when the club was raided by police.  One source in Paris expressed surprise to us, saying that “I was shocked that the French have a morality squad!.

Le Chic Chat, the nightclub where Miss Roosevelt was arrested.  The editors deny that publishing this image is in any way gratuitous.

The editors are sure that Miss Roosevelt’s reputation and integrity, as a representative of both this fine journal and of American femininity, are intact and above reproach.   Our Parisian lawyers, Messrs. Chirac, LeHacque, and LaWacque, expect to file a demand for her immediate release and the dismissal of all charges, since Miss Roosevelt was in Paris for the sole reason of pursuing her journalistic duties.

Dear Sir:
I think it is just marvellous that your staff includes Miss Amelia Roosevelt.   In this day and age, when women are coming into their own, it is high time.    All of my sorority at Radcliffe follow her exploits with the greatest admiration.  Why just the other day we were discussing her exploits last year, like, when she went in disguise to foil the White Slavers of Zanzibar and the foul Count Orloff - I mean, that guy was a disgusting creep!  So gross!   But, we think it a great shame that you use Miss Amelia to encourage the fairer sex to buy your paper, which, like, we totally do, but you have TOTALLY avoided the issue of our time, which is Votes for Women.   Come on, DD, do the right thing!  You know Miss Amelia would agree with us!
Sally Suffragette from Sewanee

Dear Sir:

I am quite livid at the shocking bias your paper shows to Germany.  It seems like every edition there is a favourable mention of that tinpot tyrant, the Kaiser, and his latest lurid pronouncement.   The Hun’s annexation of the Low Countries is a huge security threat.  If America does not support Britain, our most loyal and truest friends and cousins, then she will fall, and then what?  The Kaiser’s warships off Manhattan, goose steppers in Times Square, and mandatory Kraut lessons for our kids!  And where will your precious freedom of the press be then?  It’s time the DD stood for Britain and a sensible foreign policy and supported Donald Trumpett’s call to build a wall on the coast - an Atlantic Wall to keep out the Germans!
Britlover in Boston

Monday, February 22, 2016

Solo Scharnhorst 3 - The Battle of Karseck-Kaltenbach Begins

On Day 2 of the campaign, Marshall Kurvi-Tasch, the Austrian CinC, had identified, with a high degree of probability, the presence of Napoleon and his Guard in the town of Karlseck.  With Groll’s report of a French corps some distance to the West, the Marshall felt that he could concentrate his forces and crush Napoleon, outfoxing the fox at his own game.

To that end, he gave orders that the light infantry division detached from his own force and shown below as Col 5, would remain in front of Karsleck while he shifted his own Corps (1 infantry and 1 cavalry division) W following the road to B5 and then south to C5, to allow Groll (Col 2) to link up with him.   The Austrians won the initiative on Day 3 and Col 1 executed these orders.  It discovered Col C (Napoleon with the Guard and a cav division) at D5 while the Grenzers of Col 5 reported that another French Corps was moving into Karseck.   That was all the information K-T needed.  Stroking his luxuriant whiskers with satisfaction, the Marshall declared a Battle, since he occupied the centre position at C5.  The squares for the battle, meaning the landscape of the tabletop, would be C4-6 and D4-6. Austrian Cols 1,5 and French Cols C,D will be frozen if Napoleon accepts the battle (he has one chance during the 5 days of Scharnhorst to refuse a battle, at a cost of Victory Points).  The Emperor accepts the battle.

All Columns not frozen now have a chance to reach the battle.   The French turn is next, and Col A (Moisan’s Corps, an infantry division) marches E from D3 to D4.  It has to pay one if its 6 movement points to disengage from the Zone of Control of Col 2, but that leaves it more than enough MPs to arrive on the battlefield and take up position on Napoleon’s left wing.

Now it’s the Austrian’s turn to move unfrozen columns.  Groll (Col 2) and his substantial Corps (2 infantry and 1 cavalry division) know that there is French cavalry (Col B) in D2.  He then orders his Corps to move one square south to D2.  This has two results.  First, Groll will be able to arrive, at some point, on the battlefield as a reinforcement.  However, it poses a problem for Col B.  In Scharnhorst, Columns may not move diagonally.  Col B, which is the best of the French cavalry units, four brigades of heavy cavalry under Marshall Noel, is now cut off from the battlefield.  It doesn’t have the MPs to disengage from the ZOCs of Cols 4 and 2 and reach square E4 to arrive as a reinforcement.  It is out of the battle.

The best French move now is to leave ColB in place.  Col 4, the light cavalry division under Sachsen, does have the MPs to disengage from Col B’s ZOC and march C3 C4 to reach the battlefield, across from Moisan (Col A).  However, the Austrian Col 3 (an infantry division of 4 brigades under Von Lunenburg) will also miss the battle because it doesn’t have the MPs to reach C3 as a possible reinforcement.  Being south of the minor river at C1 really hurts C3.

Here is one satisfying aspect of the Scharnhorst system, in that one can draw up two armies using a points system and, if the points are equal, one can expect an equal contest,  However, with this battle, of the 400 points allotted to both sides, not all of those troops are guaranteed to make it on to the table, so one has a good chance of an asymmetrical result, if one likes that sort of thing.


The battle commences on the dawn of day 4.  Here is the deadly field of Karlseck-Kaltenbach.  This battle marks the first official use of my groundsheet, a mix of acrylic craft store paint and artist’s pastel crayons, treated afterwards with artist’s fixative.  The roads are all handmade, using balsa or cardboard coloured with pastels.   At the bottom left is Karsleck, and the village of Kaltenbach is in the centre.   This battlefield corresponds to the six squares of the Scharnhorst map of S Germany mentioned above, with some randomized hills thrown in.

I need more trees.  As you can see, I had to quickly make some river sections (more cardboard coloured by pastel) to provide the rivers required by the Scharnhorst map.    The hedge sections are resin, from Timecast.

 A view of the French side.  Players of Blucher will notice that I am using my batteries to form units, despite the advice of some wise readers, such as Kaptain Kobolod, to fold them into individual brigades.  However, if I did that, I wouldn’t really be able to use my artillery and limber models, would I?  

I forgot to note that Kaltenbach is worth 1 VP.   It was a bit laborious labelling these photos on my Mac.  I had to use Google Slides to caption the photos, and then export them to my laptop so I could upload them to Imageshack.  I need to research better photo-editing tools for the Mac.


View from the Austrian side.   Kurvi-Tasch has lots of cavalry, and he has three more divisions that at some point will show up on Napoleon’s left flank, so he’s in a pretty good spot.   He doesn’t know yet what the French have in the way of reinforcements, or that Napoleon can only count on one infantry division possibly coming to his aid.  The Emperor has a very real chance of his flank being rolled up from left to right.

We shall see what transpires.  It may be a bad day for the French, if the Austrians get lucky and Groll’s II Corps enters the table early on. Will the Emperor try to refuse his left flank, or will he seek to savage Kurvi-Tasch’s I Korps before it can be reinforced? 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Diplomacy Game: 1901 Builds Complete

Hello Diplomacy Fans!

At the end of two turns, with most of neutral SCs pocketed and the some players already nibbling on one another, here are the builds at the end of 1901.

France, Germany, England and Austria are launching warships as fast as they can.   The Royal Navy will need some the help of some agile diplomacy if it is going to fend off all the menaces it faces, while the Balkan situation is too complex to predict.


Results for Fall, 1901 (Adjustment)

General Notices:
Order resolution completed on 21-Feb-2016 at 09:09:48 EST

Order Results:


Austria: Builds A vie


England: Builds F lon



France: Builds F bre


Germany: Builds F kie

Germany: Builds A mun


Italy: Builds A ven


Russia: Builds F stp/nc


Turkey: Builds F ank

Turkey: Builds A smy

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Diplomacy Game 2016 - Fall 1901 Turn Results

All hell broke loose this turn.   Some daring moves were rewarded (viz the Turkish fleet in Sevastapol), the German annexation of the Low Countries, and a very strong Austrian push south.

At the same time, England’s descent on Brest has been frustrated, though La Republique may be worried about the Italian army threatening Marseille, even as Italia looks worriedly at the Germany army in Tyrolia.  

An interesting end to the first year.

Results for Fall, 1901 (Movement)

General Notices:

No retreating units; retreat phase skipped.Order resolution
completed on 17-Feb-2016 at 12:29:11 EST

Order Results:


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 1.


F adr - ion  Bounced with ion (1 against 1). ;  A bud -ser; A ser - alb


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 1.

England: F eng Convoys A wal - bre;   F nwg - nwy;  A wal - bre Bounced with pic (1 against 1).

Convoy path taken: wal - ;engc - ;bre. 


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 1.

France: F mao - bee Bounced with wal (1 against 1). 

France: A pic - bee Bounced with wal (1 against 1). 

France: A spa - por


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 2.

Germany: F hol - bel;  A kie - hol; A mun - tyr


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 1.

Italy: F ion Convoys A nap - tunI; A nap - tun Convoy path taken: nap- ion - tun.

Italy: A tus - pie


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 1.

Russia: F bot - swe; F rum Holds; A sev - arm;  A ukr Supports F rum


Supply centers were gained. Units that may be built: 2.

Turkey: F bla -  sev; A bul Holds; A con Supports A bul


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Solo Scharnhorst Day 2

The courier from General Kroll finds Kurvi-Tasch with relatively little trouble, and clatters into the courtyard of the courthouse where  the bewhiskered Marshall has made his headquarters. 

  “A French Corps southwest of Niederheim?  Szplug!  So where is the Corsican, eh?”  He strokes his luxuriant moustache.  He turns to his Chief of Staff.  “How much of the Korps is already on the march?"

“The Avant Gard and Grenzers marched out before dawn, Excellency.  Your orders are to be in Kallseck by noon.  It will take at least an hour to turn them around."

“Szplug! " exclaims the Marshall and drums his fingers on the table in thought.

What sort of man is K-T?  I roll a d6 and get a 3, so that suggests a fairly even of the road temperament, neither rash nor cautions.  I decide that K-T has four basic decisions: 

1) order Groll to attack and keep his own 1 Korps marching south
2) Order Groll to keep an eye on the French and keep 1 Korps marching south
3) Turn 1 Korps E and march to support Groll
4) Keep 1 Korps where it is and scout for the French, while ordering Groll to scout - more information is needed.
Given his temperament, I award each option a 25% chance of likelihood.  

Meanwhile, the French courier from General Moisan has also had little trouble finding Napoleon’s HQ.   Uncharacteristically, the French are still in bivouac, due to uncertainty in orders about the order of march (I roll a 15% on 1d100 to determine the French readiness.  Napoleon is still eating his breakfast and frowns as he wipes his lips with a starched napkin.  “Stopped in his tracks by a handful of Uhlans?  I expected more of Moisan. “  He stares at the map hastily placed before him.

 With his Guard in Karlseck, Belisle’s II Corps just to the south, and Lafreniere’s V Corps still struggling through the mountains at F5, he knows he is not as concentrated as he would like.   His options:

1) Remain in the Karlseck area as planned, and allow Lafreniere to move north to Hagenbesen and take his promised rest in that village after it’s arduous march.
2) Move the Guard W to Kaltenbach in D5 and bring Belisle up beside him in Karleseck, while allowing Lafreniere forest in Hangenbesen as promised.
3) March W with the Guard and Belisle, giving Lafreniere orders to come up to Karlseck and guard the road south.

Options 1 and 2 seem the most likely, so I award each a 40% chance of happening, but I give option 3 a 20% chance, just in case Napoleon has an attack of intuition.

Here’s what happens.  For K-T, I roll a 97%, meaning that he sits tight and scouts.  For Napoleon, I roll a 70%, meaning option 2. The only thing that might work in K-T’s favour is that one of his divisions, the Avant-Garde and Grenz, will move one square south and will make contact with the French at Karlseck.

Here’s the situation at midmorning of Day 2.   Col 5 is the division which Marshal K-T couldn’t stop, consisting of an Avant-Garde brigade, two veteran Grenz brigades.   They roll a 03 on a scout of Karlseck, and get a very clear picture of the French in Karlseck.  It is still taking a while for Napoleon to give his troops new directions, so Col C (the Guard) have not moved W to Kaltenbach yet.  Lafreniere’s Corps (Col E) has marched out of the mountains into E5 but since they took bad roads and had trouble with their supply columns, they are planning on spending the day in Hagenbesen to recover stragglers and forage.  Meanwhile, Moisan (Col A) has shifted E and Noel (Col B) has moved N to take Moisan’s place.

Moisan’s cavalry (Col B) roll very well at scouting, and identify Sachsen’s cavalry division in Col 4, whereas the Austrian horse are overpowered.  All they know is that whereas they had infantry to their front late yesterday, now they have French cavalry, hussars stiffened by dragoons, to their front.   Von Lunenburg’s Korps (Col 3) learns that there is no French presence to their front in D1, while Groll’s troops in Col 2 are not able to determine where exactly Moisan (Col A) is.  The French horse screening Moisan are earning their pay today.

By late noon, Kurvi-Tasch knows from some breathless Grenzers that Karlseck is held by elite French infantry, maybe even the Guard.  Where they are, Napoleon must be.  Meanwhile. Napoleon has shifted W to Kaltenbach and Belisle has marched into Karlseck.  Napoleon has learned that some Austrian light infantry are in front of Kaltenbach, but knows little more.   Couriers from Moisan won’t reach Napoleon till mid afternoon to report that the Austrians to the W are still in place.

Now K-T decides to act.  He orders the Grenz to remain in front of Karsleck and watch the French.  He orders his powerful Korps to march W to D5 and S to C5.  His troops are on the road by early afternoon, but it will take them the rest of the day to move into place.   Before he marches, he sends a courier to Groll with orders to shift his three Columns one square E, even if they have to march into the night.  

I suspect that there will be a battle tomorrow.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Solo Scharnhorst: Day 1

Following my musings a few days ago on I might play Scharnhorst, the Blucher battle generator, solo.      I decided to play an ahistorical campaign, so apologies to historical purists.  As with the Scharnhorst rules, it is a five day campaign, though it can end before then if a battle occurs.  

What follows is pure war-game wonkery.  You may think it a crazy amount of thinking and writing in order to dump some toy soldiers on a table, but it amused me.  So here goes.

I drew up two 400 point armies, Austrian and French.   Without going into the details, here are the OOBs;

Austrian Army

CinC:  Marshall Kurvi-Tasch

Col 1 I Korps , Kurvi-Tasch (1 infantry division, 1 cavalry division, 1 Avant Garde/Grenz division)

Col 2 II Korps Groll  (2 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division)

Col 3 III Korps  Grosbeeren (1 infantry division)

Col 4 IV Korps Sachsen (1 cavalry division)

French Army

CinC Napoleon

Col A Moisan II Corps (i infantry division)

Col B Noel Cav Res (1 cavalry division)

Col C Napoleon I Corps (Guard infantry div), IV Corps (cavalry division)

Col D LeGros III Corps (Infantry Division)

Col E Marsan V Corps (Infantry Division)


I started by plotting some basic orders for the French, who would advance from S to N along the two parallel roads, Cols A and B on the left and Cols C, D and E on the right.  The basic idea was that the two wings would be close enough to support each other using the E-W road on Row D, and would concentrate to destroy the Austrians.

I then wrote three sets of orders for the Austrians, with different entry points on the N, E and W sides of the map, and the basic idea of the Austrians moving N to S, with different areas of concentration on the south part of the map. I then rolled to see which of those three plans the Austrians would follow.

The plan I rolled had the following result.  As per the Scharnhorst rules, on the first day, columns only have 3 movement points, rising to 5 mps on the subsequent 4 days.

Austrian  4th column entered the map from the left hand edge, with orders to proceed C1, C2, D2, but did not have enough movement this turn to move south without a road from C2 to D2.  Col 3, following behind it on the road, ended its move on C1.

Meanwhile, Austrian Col 2 moved A3, B3, C3, while Austrian Col moved A6, B6, with orders to leave a brigade as a garrison in the village of Wunsberg.  Its orders for the following day are to press on south C6 D6 to the town of Karlseck and then turn west along the road running through Kaltenbeck towards Frischbach in the SW.  The Austrian objective is to mass and exit the map using the road on the W side of the S edge.

The French orders are for Col A (II Corps) and Col B (Cav Res) to march north F2, E2, D2.  Col C  (I Corps) marches north F6, E6, D6 to Karlseck for the first day, with Col D (V Corps) marching behind (F6, E6).  Col E (III Corps) is to march off road through the mountains F5, and then rest and forage in E5 the village of Hagenbesen.  It only has the movement to enter F5 this turn.  

As evening falls at the end of Day 1, Fr Col A (III Corps, General Moisan) has blundered into Austrian Col 4 (IV Cav Corps) under General Sachsen).  III Corps is all infantry but has the benefit of the three cav brigades allotted to recon before the game started.  I give a 10% chance percentage per cav brigade of gaining useful information but the French roll high and learn nothing.  All they know is that there is a screen of cavalry blocking them at C2.  The Austrians have three cavalry brigades allotted to recon, plus the two uncommitted light cav brigades of IV Corps, and they roll low enough to ascertain that French Col A is an infantry corps,   With the alert passed from Austrian IV Korps to the adjacent Austrian columns, I give them a chance of scouting the squares in front of them.  Col 3 has no idea what may be in D1, but Col 1 learns that there is no French presence to the E of Col A in D3.  So, as night falls, the senior Austrian commander, Groll, commanding II Korps in Col 2, knows that he faces a French infantry corps (Col A) which is unsupported on its right flank.

Groll sends a courier off to his superior, Marshall Kurvi-Tasch, who is with 1 Korps in Col 1.  The courier has to travel four road squares, B3, B4, B5, B6 to reach K-T at Col 1.  That’s four squares at night.   I decide that it will take the courrierand escort all night to travel and they will reach KT early morning.   In the meantime,General Groll has a decision to make, which I decide is as follows.

1) Attack the French Corps with his three Korps and try to crush it, even though he has no idea what supports might be behind the French Corps. (1-20% chance of doing this)

2) Push Cols 3 and 2 forward and try to envelope Col A.  This will be easy for Col 2 because it has the road south from Niederhelm and once across the river in D3, the Austrians block the road E, a likely source of reinforcements. (21-50% chance of doing this)

3) Keep his three Cols on line and block the French road north, while waiting for K-T to march W and bring the weight of I Korps to bear on the French.(51-100% chance of doing this)

What sort of man is Groll?  I roll 1d6 and get a 4, which suggests he is of normal temperament, neither rash nor timid.  

Meanwhile, at III Corps HQ, General Moisan has some hard choices to make.  All he knows is that he has Austrian horse to his front.  They could be scouts, nothing more.  Or they could be the first sign of the whole bloody Austrian army to his front.   Typical of our own cavalry to swan off and leave me blind, he thinks.  Moisan also knows that he has the Cavalry Reserve of General Noel  (Col B) behind him.   He knows that the Emperor and the rest of the army are some miles to his E, advancing N on the parallel road.  That is all.   He knows his infantry can block the road south should this be the main Austria advance, so he feels fairly secure for now.  More information would help.   The easiest thing would be to shift III Corps E along the road to D3 and ask Noel to bring up the Cav Res to take his place.  Noel’s heavy cavalry and horse artillery can see of the pesky Austrian light horse, if that is all they are, and he can keep his LOC open to the east.   Unfortunately, Moisan does not have the best relationship with Noel, and neither is superior to the other.   Moisan dashes off a dispatch informing the Emperor of his plan, and sends it off along the road to the east.  The courier has to travel four road squares E to Karlbeck, where he suspects the main army will be.   Once that dispatch is sent off, he decides to ride south with his staff to Noel’s HQ, to discuss the matter in person.  Before he gets in the saddle, he speaks to Col. Codina, his Chief of Staff.  “Prepare the Corps to march east at first light for D3.  I”ll be back before then.  Let us hope that blockhead Noel sees sense."

Arriving in Frischbach near midnight, he rousts Noel from his comfortable billet and explains the situation.  It’s a chilly conversation at first, but Noel warms to the chance at glory and agrees to the plan (I roll 1d6 and get a 5,  Even with a -1 mod for their bad relationship, that seems enough for the two commanders to be in accord).

So, what decision will General Groll make?  I roll a 51 on percentile dice.   That means Groll, like an unimaginative Austrian commander, will hold fast and wait for his boss to come up.   There will be no battle in the morning.

The situation now gets more complicated.   More to follow.


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.

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