Saturday, April 21, 2012

Costa Blanca, Iberia

Date: 21 April 1809/2012
Location: Costa Blanca, Iberia
Situation: Crawford and Devereaux Arrive
Future: Preparations for a 12 May, 2012 Napoleonic game.
Rules: BAR Napoleonics (experimental)
Black Bob Crawford's Narrative

"My rifles were ordered to the seaside village of Costa Blanca to scout and clear the town. The port was deemed essential for us. There was urgency in my orders because our commanding general believed French forces were upon their march here. Near noon the village came into view. We entered on the right and left."

12:15 p.m. 21 April 1809, Costa Blanca, Iberia

Robert Crawford's Riflemen enter Costa Blanca.

Black Bob observes his men advancing through the village holding back a reserve in case of trouble.

Whilst another green jacket section cautiously advanced on the left side of the village.

The advance cleared the village for the 9th Foot's arrival later in the day.

3:00 p.m. 21 April 1809, Costa Blanca, Iberia

The British flag was hoisted over the local government house. Lieutenant Colonel Devereaux is seen reviewing the regiment deployed in a half-battalion line. Major Hicks follows.

Both officers pass along the line scrutinizing the men. It's a new regiment with fresh uniforms still at full strength. There are ten companies of one-hundred men each plus additional officers eager for service and advancement in Iberia.

Devereaux and Hicks ride around to inspect the second line.

They like what they see but how well will the men fight? The Army of the French is upon it's march toward them. For the moment only Paget's Light Cavalry Brigade stands in their way gathering information about their whereabouts, numbers and intentions.

Closing Remarks 
1) Black Bob Crawford's green jackets are Elite Miniatures artfully painted by John Preece.

2) The 9th are Elite Miniatures excepting most of the company officers who are Front Rank or Dixon. The reason is so there is a variety of poses. In the case of the Dixons, extra height was glued below their bases to make them a little taller. The officer in the front rank of the last image is Elite; a wonderful pose but I did not want ten of them. Yours truly painted the 9th from the end of December 2011 through the 15th of April. Regimental flags are from GMB Designs whilst the one flying over the town is from Flag Dude.

3) Several red-roofed buildings are graciously on loan from the collection of Der Alte Fritz. Others are from Miniature Building Authority.

4) Paget's Light cavalry Brigade has appeared here previously. See:

5) Der Alte Fritz's (Jim P.) Britannic forces are also upon their march to Costa Blanca as well as his French forces with mine and Curt B's.

6) Return again in mid-May for our AAR. There will be two games. The morning session will be a 1:1 scouting and screening operation. Intelligence gathered will affect deployment and plans for the afternoon game. The latter will be a much larger affair at 1:10 fielding all forces we have.

6) We would be obliged to see you return in a few weeks and for your comments below, if you please.


Monday, April 2, 2012

2012 Pour l' Merite Award Goes To Der Alte Fritz

Jeff K. won the 2011 Seven Years' War Association Pour l' Merite Award for his outstanding naval presentation. The winner is given the duty to select the next winner. Here are Jeff's remarks and his choice for 2012.

To the Association:

First of all , allow me to express my thanks to all those who contributed time and effort to make this year's convention so excellent, especially director Randy Frye. This weekend is always one of the highlights of my year, and I am already looking forward to the 2013 convention with joyful anticipation.

It has been traditional for the gamemaster(s) who are chosen for the Mitchell Cup to have the honor (and responsibility) of selecting the winner for the succeeding year. There was apparently some confusion at this year's convention, and the presentation was never properly made. I have been informed by our esteemed convention director that I may render my decision in this forum.

Over the course of forty-plus years of playing, designing, and presenting games, I have given the art of gamemastering much consideration (probably much more than I should have, given that it is just a leisure pastime). It seems to me that there are several elements which must coincide and reinforce each other in order for the presentation of a miniature wargame to become a memorable aesthetic experience for the participants and the observers.

1. The Miniatures. Several aspects . . . the design and sculpting of the figures, the paint work, and the arrangement and decoration of the bases . . . must vividly depict the military forces of the given nation and era.

2.  The Terrain. The selection of the terrain elements should evoke the specific time and geographic locale, and be crafted into a convincing stage on which the game's narrative can be played out.

3. The Rules and Scenario. These must provide the opportunity for the players to make decisions and enjoy (or suffer) the consequences of those decisions. The mechanics should facilitate play without burdening the players, and the scenario should provide enough historical background to allow them to become engrossed in the situation being portrayed.

4. The Gamemaster. This is key. He must guide the events without dominating them, maintain the flow of the game, and allow his good humour and love of the game and the historical period to infect his players.

The selection of games this year was outstanding, even for a gathering like this where the bar is set very high, and all of them achieved success in these areas, to varying degrees; some of them brilliantly so. Who could fail to be impressed by the finely crafted scenarios of Dean West, the enthusiasm of Chris Engle's Matrix gamers, the spectacle of Bill Protz's big battalions, the exotic and colorful East Indian clashes of Jurgen Olk, or Mike Harris' stunning terrain?

Occasionally, an event "hits on all cylinders", so to speak, and achieves a level of artistry and memorability that makes them stand out even among such distinguished presentations. This year, for me, that event was the "Sons of Liberty" game run by Jim Purky.

Closing Remarks From Bill P.
Congratulations Jim! As a player in the game I certainly observed all Jeff mentions. Let me add my personal observation that all players had a good time and by this I especially mean enjoying the beautiful ensemble of miniatures, terrain and rules accentuated by happy smiles and a lot of companionable fun. I especially remember the good natured laughing and fun that occurred when Curt B., one of the American players, cheerfully decided to escape with barnyard animals and later return to reclaim a lost cannon. Jim, you naturally thought this was good fun. Everyone did. I still smile about it all.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Three Seven Years'War Association Games

On March 30-31, 2012, The Seven Years' War Association met for the 29th annual weekend of good gaming, camaraderie and  fun. Just under 100 members and guests attended the Friday and Saturday event at the Grand Magnusen Hotel in South Bend, Indiana.

The celebrated Professor Christopher Duffy gave a stimulating and very interesting talk illustrated with photographs about his research concerning cultural and military aspects about the 1745 Jacobite Rising. This was accentuated with ideas to use in recreating a generic Jacobite battle in Britain. See Part III for this.

Jürgen O. from Omaha, Nebraska hosted two highly appealing, colorful and entertaining SYW battles in India. The French won both. The first is described a little below solely form my perspective.

French Left Flank
I was posted here and also in the center at the top of the image. Did you know the position of honor was on the left in India?

French Extreme Left Flank
The two units above penetrated the lightly wooded area before them and swept in an arc to the right ending  at the other side of the verdure. This maneuver caused British forces to oppose them.

Inside French Left Flank
You can see the shirtless allies sweeping within the wooded area at the top left of the image. Across the middle of the image more potent units tried to conform with those in the woods. Notice the British reaction at the top right of the image. Things are looking good here.

The pajamaed mortar section fired every other turn never landing a bomb on target though a splinter knocked out an important enemy officer causing some distress.

 French Center
Near game end we suffered the loss of a native leader to an assassin, a momentary torrential downpour preventing discharge of weapons (a good thing at the time!) and British Highlanders coming forward to the attack. Steady they were too but notice horsemen beyond the palm trunks. They and some others are French allies wrecking and penetrating the British left flank and center. Though the French left was stalled, the British Army was in disarray and losing. At this moment of victory the French Commander in Chief (me) de Bussy on the rearing horse was felled by a Highlander firing his weapon. French tactical victory.

Jürgen designed a series of chance cards drawn once per turn. Some were good. Others were bad. A few others were blank. These and the highly brittle nature of native morale make this a fun, interesting  and unpredictable game experience. Add vivid colors, native troop types of the most interesting an unusual kind compared to those gaming in Europe or America, lovely terrain and you have a winner. Jürgen has developed a great game experience. I hope he offers to run another in 2013.

This was the stunning debut of Der Alte Fritz's Fife and Drum Miniatures with singularly striking terrain  crafted by the artistic H.G. Walls. The ground cover is from Terrain Guy in Texas.

British forces were ordered to converge upon a rebel supply depot near Philadelphia to snatch supplies away from The Continental Army as Winter nears.

One of the aspects of gaming I took away with me from my gaming years in Nebraska was trying to act in accordance with what my officers can see/hear and therefore know and not know. I'd like to do more of this in our tabletop games in Wisconsin. It has to do with commanding one's units nearly oblivious to what is going on outside of one's line of sight and hearing - the senses of my miniature officers that is.

 My command consisted two units; converged light companies in the distance followed by the guards marching toward the sound of battle. Naturally I as Bill knew exactly what was happening beyond the top right of the image. The Rebel Army was fighting a very good delaying action against British and Hessian units disposed in two brigades.

My force was late to the party arriving on Turn 4. The above shows my lads marching in stately order on about Turn 6. Jim's new miniatures uniformed with his special painting talents are stunning indeed.

 Beyond my line of sight but certainly within the helicopter view of the war gamer we see British units in the foreground and Hessian units in the distance pushing back American militia units. Fife and Drum does not have Hessians. These were borrowed from Jim's SYW collections. Anyway, let's take closer looks shall we?

 The British march inexorably forward. No way to stop 'em. 

Take a very close look at Fife and Drum's realistic anatomy.

Americans taking cover within a cornfield.

There would be two to three more turns to play out. Here you see my command too late to stop evacuation of American Conestoga wagons loaded with supplies.

 My brigade later pushed nearly to the fence line in the far distance without capturing the supplies. General Washington would be able to feed his Army in the inclement cold months ahead.

A lovely game with resplendent miniatures marching across highly realistic terrain with companionable gamers is the best this hobby can be. Well done everyone.


From Professor Duffy's talk and personal counseling before the game the following dynamics were adapted into Jacobite BAR, Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763.

1) There is no first person evidence for the "Cumberland Bayonet Drill". Supposedly this was where a soldier would not engage an opponent directly to his front. Instead, he assisted the man to his right by thrusting his musket with bayonet at his friend's opponent. We scraped the Cumberland Bayonet Drill.

2) BAR skill level adaptations were as follows:
Elite: Prince Charlie's Bodyguard, Irish and Royal Ecossais reserves.
Veteran: One-half of Jacobite infantry and most of the red coat foot.
Trained: One half of Jacobite infantry and one red coat regiment of foot.
Poor: British dragoons.

3) No Artillery. The reason given was the Jacobites rarely had any and its use might shape or place an undue emphasis on the game in a way it should not. An exception was for late in the Rising such as at Culloden. We threw 1D6. The result was early in the Rising on a throw of 1 or 2. Thus, no artillery was allowed for either side.

4) Other Jacobite Dynamics:
Very good first volley. We allowed a +5 and the British got a +3.
Good supply of ammunition for Jacobite elite reserve infantry
Clans would fire once and throw their muskets down.
Jacobites added 1D6 in inches to movement.
British subtracted -1D6 in inches from movement.
Lots of room was needed to fight with a broadsword. Thus the close infantry +1 melee bonus was removed for the Jacobites. However, to simulate their prowess and the fog of war with same, Jacobites threw 1D6 adding an unpredictable plus 1 through 6 result in melee.
The standard infantry movement rate for us before modifications is 16."

5) Deployment:
Terrain should be broken with trees, undulations, stone walls and cottages.
British deployed up to 24" onto the table and 36" from the sides.
Jacobites deployed afterwards on two of three table sides but not the British rear.
Jacobites moved first.
One trump card was given to Prince Charlie to delay a British movement or fire thereby allowing Jacobites to do so first.

6) Morale:
I am foggy about this. I perhaps should have had the British test morale to stand before a Jacobite charge. Hindsight tells me I should have done this some.

7) Cumberland may have suspected his 1st Foot Guards (Royal Scots) had Jacobite sympathies. Professor Duffy suggested a 50/50 change for a random British unit to change sides in the battle. I threw a die for the turn. It would be Turn 4. However, the 50/50 subsequent die throw did not allow this exciting event to occur.

British Right Flank - Beyond Jacobite Left Flank
The red coats are swinging inwards to the center to flank the Jacobite left. Jacobites are off image above right. Exquisite Highland croft from the collection of Der Alte Fritz made by HG Walls.

Jacobite Right Flank - British Left Flank
Jacobite clans surged from a wooded ridge along the bottom of the image into and pushing back the British first line. Some red coats held out in the other Highland croft structures with walled enclosure till the end.

 Jacobite Left Flank - British Right Flank
We move in for a closer look. Red coats on the left are also being pushed black with more trouble coming toward their rear. Other Jacobites surge into the next red coat line of infantry throwing everything into confusion.Jacobites were from the collection of Der Alte Fritz.

The high water mark of the Jacobite Tide reminiscent of Picket's Charge in 1863.
Closing Remarks
1. So much can be said. I hope others find time to post remarks and photos too.
2. There were many mostly SYW 18th C. games, a good number of vendors and a lot of happy attendees.
3. Prodigious thanks for Randy Frye who managed the weekend and to all game judges too.
4. Thank everyone for attending this almost family gathering.
5. remarks welcome below.