Friday 1 May 2020

Camerone - 157th anniversary solo re-fight using BBB

It's a club tradition that we refight Camerone near the anniversary using the excellent scenario from Tim Tilson's Colonial Campaigns book Maximilian in Mexico. The book used The Sword and the Flame rules but I use Bloody Big Battles instead.
Sous-lieutenant Maudet and his squad of Legionaries defend the south-west corner

Due to the lockdown I decided to refight it solo as it lends itself to solo play due to the Victory Points. To this end I was in charge of the Republicans as they have all the decisions to make.
The compound looking south-east, scratch built by Rodge

The French Force

Captain Danjou
Sous-lieutenants Maudet and Vilain
4 units each of 4 bases of Legionaries - MLR, Elite (never go spent), Aggressive
Incidentally this means that the French figure:man ratio is virtually 1:1
French defenders at game start. 2 base Irregular Cavalry unit on the upper floor of the Hacienda

The Republican Force

3 Commanders
Irregular Cavalry: 4 bases - MLR , Raw, Ragged Volley, Fragile, dismounted
Irregular Infantry: 4 bases - MLR , Raw, Ragged Volley
Regular Infantry: 4 bases - MLR , Trained
Republican Regular Infantry at start of 2nd Assault Phase

The Republicans attack in 3 Assault Phase. Each Phase is either 4, 6, 8 or 10 units of regular or irregular infantry or cavalry chosen by the Republican players. Each regular unit is worth 2 Victory Points (VP) to the French and each irregular unit  is 1 VP. The Republicans get 2 VPs for killing a French base. There are also VP awarded  to each side for other activities but I'm sure Tim would appreciate it if you bought his book to find those out.
The compund looking south-west 

An Assault Phase ends when the Republicans roll equal to or less than the number of units that are Spent.

For Phase 1 the Republicans selected 4 units of Irregular Cavalry giving the French 4 victory points. There is also a 2 base Irregular Cavalry unit, dismounted of course, on the upper floor of the Hacienda.
Dismounted Republican cavalry assault the compound at the south-western and both north entrances. Even through most of the Legion are low on ammo (green smiley faces) they cause 1 Republican  to go Spent (red smiley faces). This leads to the Republicans having to roll for Assault Phase end and not get a 1 on a D4 which they do.

Victory points for Phase 1 are 4 to the Legion  and 2 to the Republicans for killing a base

For Phase 2 the Republicans selected 10 units of Regular Infantry giving the French 20 victory points. I thought that maybe the 10 units would overwhelm the French as the Regulars are Trained and therefore have to lose 2 bases to become Spent.
3 Units of Republican Regular Infantry form up against the south-west breach
6 Units of Republican Regular Infantry form up against the northern breaches

Squads from left to right -  Sous-lieutenant Maudet, Sous-lieutenant Vilain and Captain Danjou.
 The 4th Squad holds the Hacienda against a Republican Regular Infantry approaching from the east
 This Phase was a really meat grinder as the Republicans assaulted time and again 
 The French held firm until slowly they ran low on ammunition
  The south-western breach holds 
Captain Danjou's Squad retires and the Captain is killed.  
 The 4th Squad charges out of the Hacienda to clear the courtyard
Maudet's Squad is pushed back from the south-western breach
Maudet's Squad counter-attacks and retakes the south-western breach
End of Phase 2 with Sous-lieutenant Maudet and 5 bases of Legionnaires left alive. With 4 Spent units it was only a matter of time before I rolled 4 on a D10. I was tempted to pay an extra Victory Point to continue the Phase for an extra turn but I could not guarantee killing everyone. 

Victory points for Phase 2 are 20 to the Legion  and 24 to the Republicans for killing 12 bases giving the French 24 and the Republicans 26.

For the final Phase 3 the Republicans selected 4 units of Regular Infantry giving the French 8 victory points. This was cutting it a bit fine as the Republicans could only get a maximum of 38, 2 for each officer and 2 for each base.

 3 Republican Regular Infantry units against the  north wall
One Republican Regular Infantry unit against the  south-west wall
Sous-lieutenant Maudet and 3 bases of Legionnaires in the stables fend off the first attack killing a Republican base
The 2 bases of Legionnaires in the Hacienda are overrun whist Sous-lieutenant Maudet and 3 bases of Legionnaires in the stables are whittled down to 1 base.

So Phase 3 victory Points are 8 for the French and 12 for the Republicans giving a total of 32 VP for the French and 38 VP for the Republicans. This meant a Marginal Victory for the Republicans. So well done my team!

Camerone works well as a solo game with this scenario as all of the decisions are made by the Republican player whilst the French forces "merely" have to defend the compound.

In my humble opinion Bloody Big Battles works well at this scale with minor tweaks. 
These were
  • units can not combine fire power
  • commanders only count when attached to a unit 
  • in assault when a unit is required to retire and can not then it loses an additional 1 base and fights a new Assault

I can't recommend Tim Tilson's Colonial Campaigns book Maximilian in Mexico highly enough

99% of the figures are QRF / Freikorps 15mm with 1% being Peter Pig or Minifigs

The Hacienda was lovingly handcrafted by Rodge

Sunday 19 April 2020

Five Kilometres from Leipzig - solo rules for black powder skirmish actions

Five Kilometers From Leipzig (FKFL) is a set of solo miniatures rules for black powder skirmish actions roughly covering the period  1700 to 1870. It is written by Ivan Sorensen of Nordic Weasel Games and available as a pdf from Wargame Vault.
You have a squad of 6 men that skirmish against  military forces, guerrillas, outlaws or native warbands. The starting Stats are Speed 4", Shoot +0, Toughness 3 but this can  increase through campaigning. 

When a figure is active they may take a Movement Action and a Combat Action.
Movement Actions can be Move or Reload. Combat Actions can be Dash, Reload, Brawl, Bandage or Shoot. 

The opposition depends  on which campaign you are fighting. For example if you were fighting the Peninsular War (1807–1814)  as the French then you could be facing either a military force and/or guerrillas. For the French and Indian Wars then you could be facing either a military force,  guerrillas or native warbands. Finally as the French for the Franco-Prussian War then you would face just a military force.

Enemy type, number and deployment are all table generated as is the Mission

The Enemy can basically either shoot, reload or move towards near opponent in that order. In all cases they should keep to cover.

Each Mission earns several Victory Points per turn. At the end of each game turn roll 2D6. If the roll is equal or below the number of Victory Points earned so far, the Enemy withdraws and you win the mission.

You might notice that I use multi-based troops for the 1st game - just imagine each base is 1 figure. I also use 15mm figures because I don't have any 25mm figures

For the first game set during the Peninsular War I commanded a French squad. 
My opponents were 7 British infantry (Speed 4", Shoot +0, Toughness 3)
The mission was to capture and hold the centre of the table for 2 VPs per turn
The British deployed in 2 ranks. 
Both sides are armed with Smoothbore Muskets
The French advance
 The British advance
 The French advance
 The British open fire 
 The French reach the centre so can start collecting 2 VPs per turn
All of the British open fire 
 Everyone is firing!

  A firefight ensues killing 2 British and 3 French
This forces the British to take a morale check
Although I was down  to 3 men the British had 3 men Scared so they could not advance. The VP stood at 4 and I rolled a Double 1 so victory to me   

All the figures are by Campaign Game Miniatures.

For the second game I commanded an Abenaki warband during the French and Indian Wars.
Their opponents were 4 veteran settlers (Guerrillas) (Speed 5", Shoot +1, Toughness 4). 
The mission was Drive Off where 2 VPs are earnt every time an Enemy Flees or is Knocked Out.
As the enemy were outnumbered I set them up in a cabin. Both sides are armed with Smoothbore Muskets
 Basically the Abenaki snook up on the settlers
Both sides open fire
After 1 round of firing 1 settler was dead, 1 has fled as a result of that and another was Stunned
 After another round of firing the  same settler was Stunned
 One Abenaki goes for the outflank
Before he can get to the cabin one Abenaki gets shot, one settler gets shot and the other one flees as a result of the death. Game over

All of the figures are by Peter Pig

This isn't a bad set of rules. Very simple but they get the toys on the table. The Decision Tree could possibly do with expanding to include Close Combat but it works well enough. I certainly enjoyed both games and not just because I won both of them! 

This is Rangers of Shadow Deep without the fantasy. In fact I imagine it is possible to play RoSD scenarios with these rules.

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