Friday, 15 February 2019

Algeria 1837 using Bloody Big Battles test game #1

My Algeria 1830s-40s project is nearing completion so we gave the armies a run out to see if the rules, unit ratings and terrain worked.  The scenario covered a French expedition to subdue the Arab and Kabyle tribes of the Tell Atlas.
Kabyle mountaineers
The Terrain
Looking north from the ountains
A Kabyle settlement

The table was setup with a French outpost at the northern end of a plain. There are a couple of Arab encampments on the plain. The southern end is mountainous where the Kabyle have several settlements.

The French force

Allied Arab cavalry lead the columns out of the Fort 

Bases Type Skimishers Morale Trait Weapon
Command 2 Ldr
2 Foreign Regt Btn 5 Inf 1S Trn Devastating volley SM
2 Bat' d'Af 5 Inf 1S Vet Devastating volley, Aggressive SM
2 Line Infantry 6 Inf Trn Devastating volley SM
1 Zouave Btn 5 Inf 5S Vet Woodsman, Aggressive SM
1 Turco Btn 4 Inf 4S Vet Woodsman, Aggressive SM
1 Chasseurs d'Afrique 4 Cav Trn Ragged volley, Aggressive SM
1 Spahis 4 Cav Trn Ragged volley SM
1 Allied Arab Cavalry 6 Cav Raw Ragged volley SM
1 Mountain Arty Regt 3 Art SA

The Algerian force
Arab cavalry threaten the rear of the french force

Bases Type Skimishers Morale Trait Weapon
Command 2 Ldr
2 Kaid's Guard 5 Cav Vet Ragged volley SM
9 Arab Cavalry 6 Cav Trn Ragged volley SM
5 Arab Infantry 4 Inf 4S Trn Ragged volley SM
7 Kabyles 4 Inf 4S Raw Woodsman, Aggressive SM

The Woodsman trait is Can evade as cavalry vs non Woodsman unit and Ignore difficult terrain

At this period the French Foreign Legion was a collection of battalions lumped together by nationality, eg Polish, Italian, Swiss etc, and wasn't as good a fighting force as it would later become.

The best troops in the French African army were the Zouaves and the Bat' d'Af, the Battalions of Light Infantry of Africa, made up of men with prison records who still had to do their military service or soldiers with serious disciplinary problems.

The Algerian forces were more than a match for the French inflicting several defeats on the invaders. The Arabs generally fought from horseback and were often as well armed as the French. The Kabyle, given the terrain, usually fought on foot and were excellent at skirmishing.


The French start in Fort Louis, The Kabyle and the Arab infantry start with 2 units at each settlement. From turn 2 a D6 worth of Arab cavalry units arrive on the eastern and western edges. they can move but cannot charge on their inital turn.

The Game

The French objective was to capture the 5 encampments, 2 on the plain and 3 in the mountains. The Algerians had to stop them.

 Kabyle encampment in the foothills
 Arab encampment on the plain
 The French expedition leaves Fort Louis - I have no idea why the are marching backwards
The French are almost in reach of the encampments on the plains but with cavalry to their flanks and rear inevitably form a "square"
The Kabyle leave their mountain camps to engage the French
 Rodge made these terrain pieces for his 28mm North West Frontier
They are excellent ground  for 10mm mountaineers
 On the western flank the French form line against Arab attacks
However Arab cavalry start working around their flank
Kabyle skirmishers force the French to halt. 
The French western flank hold against Arab charges and Kabyle musketry
 On the eastern flank the allied Arab cavalry get pushed back into the square after attacking the encampment 
 In turn the Arabs launch an attack against the Foreign Regiment  
 The Arab Kaid watches as his troops engage the Foreign Regiment  again
 The repeated assaults force the Foreign Regiment to retreat leaving a huge gap in the flank 
 The allied Arab cavalry charges to the rescue whilst the Zouaves form a square
 Arab cavalry oblige the Zouaves by charging them
 After 2 rounds of drawn combat, each side loses a base, the broken square repels the cavalry 
The western flank at the end - both sides at a stand-off
The eastern flank at the end - the Arabs have the upper hand

A victory to the Arab and Kabyle forces as the French failed to get a single encampment. The French eastern flank looked very dodgy  although they probably had enough firepower to hang on.

We will give this another run out with the mountains along the long edge to se if the French can even get a foot in the foothills

The French were outnumbered 2:1 in bases but do have the advantage of Devastating Volley (Shift Right) ,Target is Cavalry (Shift Right) and Skirmishers (Shift Right) so when they DO roll decent dice it is quite effective.

I made a couple of changes to the standard Bloody Big Battles rules. 
  • For the Woodsman trait see above. 
  • Smooth bore musket range was increased from 3" to 6" inches 
  • A unit in square is treated as being in a town for melee 

Otherwise the rules worked well, as always, with cavalry being very dangerous with their 18" move and 2 changes of direction..

Thanks to Mark, Rodge & Shaun for playing. Rodge's mountains are cracking terrain pieces.

The Arab cavalry are mainly Littlewars Miniatures from Lancashire Games with some Pendraken and Old Glory.

Everything else is Pendraken Miniatures

The tents and the fort are by dreamholme Scenics

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Te-li-Ssu 1904 RJW using Blood Big Battles

The battle of Te-li-Ssu was fought on 14–15 June 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War. This scenario was originally written for the Age of Valor ruleset and I've converted it, very roughly, for Bloody Big Battles.
Japanese 3rd Division assaults the Russian left flank

The main changes from the original scenario are
  • reduced size of table from 8x5 feet to 6x4 feet
  • reducing the number of infantry and cavalry bases by about 50%
  • reducing the Japanese artillery by 75%
  • reduce the number of turns from 15 to 12
The reasons being the available table, stands of troops and time.

Looking west across the battlefield

The streams are fordable by infantry and cavalry and the hills are steep. The ground level is difficult going for movement as it is cut down kaoliang.

Japanese Forces

Bases Type Traits Morale Weapon
3d Div 1 Ldr
6th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
35th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
18th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
24th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
Div Art 2 Art Trn BLA
4th Div 1 Ldr
8th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
37th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
9th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
38th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
Div Art 2 Art Trn BLA
5th Div 1 Ldr
11th Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
41st Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
21st Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
42nd Regt 4 Inf S,A Trn RR
Div Art 2 Art Trn BLA
1st Cavalry
Regular 4 Cav Raw RR
Divisional 4 Cav Raw RR
Army Art 3 Art Trn BLA

Russian Forces

Bases Type Traits Morale Weapon
1st Div
1st ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
2d ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
3d ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
4th ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
Div Art 2 Art Trnd BLA
9th Div
33d ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
34th ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
35th ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
36th ESRR 5 Inf Raw RR
div Art 2 Art Trnd BLA
35th Div
Tobolsk 5 Inf Trnd RR
Marshansk 5 Inf Trnd RR
Zaraisk 5 Inf Trnd RR
Div Art 2 Art Trnd BLA
Cossacks #1 3 Cav S Raw RR
Cossacks #2 3 Cav S Raw RR
Samsonov #1 3 Cav S Trnd RR
Samsonov #2 3 Cav S Trnd RR
Art 1 Art Trnd BLA

The Japanese plan of attack was for the 4th & 5th Divisions to roll up the Russian right flank whilst 3rd Division demonstrates against the Russian left flank.

(A word on the Smiley faces - Yellow is Disrupted, Green is Low on ammo and Red is Spent)

The "Unlucky" 4th Division advances towards the entrenched Russian Cavalry
 The initial assault is halted with both sides taking casualties
The Japanese 5th Division assaults the junction of the Russian cavalry and the 9th ESRD
5th Division storms the trenches ...
..reforms on the hill... 
... and stands it's ground whilst attacked from front and rear
 Meanwhile the Russians quickly form a new defensive line on their flank from the remaining cavalry, part of the 35th Division and 2 batteries.
 As Japanese 5th Division is hammered by the Russian line, the 4th Division reforms and joins the attack
4th Division takes over the attack from 5th Division,which presses on for Telissu, but fails to capture the the Russian guns
 A new Russian defensive line halts 4th Division's attack 
 5th Division's advance on Telissu is halted by another Russian gun line covering the approach to Telissu and it disintegrates.
The Russian right flank at the end of the game - a standoff
Meanwhile on the Russian left flank, the Japanese 3rd Division is busily demonstrating away
 Until it gets fed up with demonstrating and decides to have a go
 As it advances against the 1st ESR Division it is supported by it's artillery 
 The entire left flank of the Russian line collapses under the onslaught
and on the penultimate turn it storms Telissu

So a victory for the Japanese at the last possible moment and from an unexpected direction. 

Admittedly most of the Russian force had disappeared as it was Raw and it was only the 35th Division plus artillery that was hanging on. The entire Japanese 5th Division was out of action but the 4th had recovered it's strength due to high-rolls on the Movement table.

A very good scenario which I hope did justice to the original. The original scenario is available on ScribD but they wanted me to enter my card details so I could download it. Fortunately I found an old copy in my backups

As usual I do have one complaint. This is a common wargaming one - the table-edge of the world. I've noticed it especially in the RJW battles where the Sedan-fixated Japanese generals are always attempting to outflank the Russians. I will have to have a think about how to handle this.

Thanks to Dave, Mike, Rodge and Shaun for playing 

The figures were all from Pendraken's 10mm ranges

Thursday, 27 December 2018

The Deserter, Mexico 1864 - a 15mm solo game using Bloody Big Battles

My Christmas solo game this year is set during the French Intervention in Mexico and concerns the arrest of a deserter from the French Foreign Legion who has "gone native".
José Curbelo

The deserter is a Spaniard called José Curbelo who has fought for the Legion in Algeria, the Crimea where he lost an eye at Sevastopol, Italy and, until recently, Mexico.

Rumour has it that he currently resides in a tiny hamlet called Boanas that lies in a seldom used pass from the coastal plains up to the Mexican plateau.

The French column on route to Boanas, auxiliaries at the head followed by Captain Rocher and the mounted Zouaves

The French forces

The French authorities have dispatched 2 platoons of mounted Zouaves and a handful of auxiliaries under the command of Captain Ferrero Rocher to Boanas to capture Curbelo.

Captain Ferrero Rocher
1st squad, Mounted Zouave company 3 Bases Skirmish,Aggressive Veteran MLR
2nd squad, Mounted Zouave company 3 Bases Skirmish,Aggressive Veteran MLR
Auxiliaries 3 Bases Aggressive Trained MLR

Rocher can act as a normal commander or attach himself to a unit as an extra base

The French are controlled by the player

Curbelo takes Sunday morning drill. 
In the background a nun leaves the village with her two donkeys after making another arms delivery.

The Mexican Forces

These are the locals from Boanas organised by Curbelo into a militia. When a French unit searches a building there is a chance that between 0 and 4 units will appear in the building. This is determined by using a pack of cards and dealing out 4 cards for each search. On a 2 to 9 of Clubs a militia squad appears in the building, on the Ace of Clubs then Curbelo and a militia squad appear in the building. Every other card is ignored.

José Curbelo
Upto 10 squads of Militia 3 Bases Fragile Raw MLR

Curbelo can act as a normal commander or attach himself to a unit as an extra base

The Mexican squads use a D6 to see whether  they assault (6), stay put and shoot (2-5) or retire to the next building (1)

The Game

The French deployed Captain Rocher with 1st squad Zouaves and the Auxiliaries at the east end of the village with 2nd squad sneaking through to the west end under cover of night.

 The Auxiliaries search the first building and find nothing
1st Squad encounters a Militia squad and gets a base killed!
The Auxiliaries move up to give them fire support
1st Squad storms the building
The Auxiliaries move down the street 
 They encounter another Militia squad 
 And a to and fro encounter for control on the building ensues... 
... that sees the building ...
... change hands several times
In the meantime 1st Squad have cleared another building and advance on the church 
 The Church holds another Militia squad who repulse Captain Rocher and 1st Squad
At the west end of the village 2nd Squad advance to support the attack on the church. 
However 3 Militia squads are waiting for them!
All 3 Militia squads assault 2nd Squad who halt one with fire but ...
 ... get a good kicking from the others,lose a base, and fall back on their horse line
 The victorious Militia follow up 
2nd Squad advances again and half the Militia retire Spent
They rolled Double 1 on the Disrupted table and being Fragile dropped them to 1
2nd squad advance back into the buildings with only spent Militia in front of them 
The Militia unit in the church fall back to the last remaining building where José Curbelo and 2 Militia squads are determined to make their stand 
Curbelo takes a last look around Boanas
Although the French are outnumbered they feel confident of storming the building and taking Curbelo prisoner
 However 2 Militia squads take it into their heads to assault the Auxiliaries
 The Auxiliaries fall back before the onslaught
Seizing the opportunity Captain Rocher assaults Curbelo's squad who flee taking Curbelo with them
 Forgetting his objective Captain Rocher charges to support the Auxiliaries destroying first one squad
 and then the other squad leaving the village in his hands
 But giving José Curbelo and a few followers time to flee down the pass 
"Mount up" - a frustrated Captain Rocher  head out on the trail of José Curbelo

I'm not sure if I saw that ending coming but there is the distinct possibility of a sequel.

In a previous test game the Captain and a single squad ended up surrounded and making a last stand

It is quite a random game. With 7 buildings and a 4 card deal per building there is a chance that no one at all is in the village or as in the case of 2nd squad they run into 3 or 4 times their own number in one building.

I thought that Bloody Big Battles handled this instance very nicely with 2nd Squad retiring, some of the Mexicans madly charging after them, exploitation, and then deciding it was a bad idea, failed Movement rolls, when 2nd squad came back for more.

The Mexican squads use a D6 to see whether  they assault (6), stay put and shoot (2-5) or retire to the next building (1) which gives some surprising results such as 2 of Curbelo's squads deciding not to do a last stand and charging out instead.

An excellent solo Christmas game if I say myself - my opponent was a pleasure to play with

99% of the figures are Freikorps with a smattering of Peter Pig figures
The buildings are by Musket Miniatures

Finally thanks to Shaun for finishing off my Mounted, and dismounted, Zouave company that have been sitting half-painted o my work bench for nearly 2 years.