Franco-Prussian War with Piquet Field of Battle (2nd edition)

April 1, 2018

It’s been a busy year with work and the rest of life. Fortunately I was saved from another day of work by our local game guru, Ian (of Warflag fame). He invited my son and I to participate in a hypothetical Franco-Prussian War game using Piquet Field of Battle (2nd edition). Ian has scaled up the rules to make each unit a brigade and the ground scale is 1″ = 100 yards. Ian also opted to mount brigades on one stand (ala Volley and Bayonet), which I think has sped up the game at no cost to play-ability.

Overall the game involved a large French corps against a Prussian corps with allied German divisions. I was the overall French commander, but spent most of my time on the extreme right of my side’s force. In the original plan I wanted to keep our forces tight rather than spread out along the entire table, which is what wargamers always do. What happened is that my subordinates spread out like wargamers do. While a close game, the French suffered from poorer leadership (both commanders and a poorer quality deck of cards). In the end we lost, but we did better than most French forces in the Franco-Prussian War. The Piquet Field of Battle rules really do accommodate larger games. In this one we had five players per side with Ian acting as referee. Game time was about four hours, by which time the French had run out of army morale points.

It was clearly a grey-beards sort of game. I’m in my mid-50s and I was the third youngest player. At age 17, my son was by far the youngest. However, the players were exceptionally good overall. As many of these guys had been playing miniature wargames for over 30 years, they knew how to learn new rules, had a good grasp of tactics, and were gentlemanly wargamers.

Here are some photos from the game. All of the figures were provided by Ian and we played in his garage, which was nice as it was a rare sunny Oregon day. Ian also provided the photos.


Games Played (catching-up) Lion Rampant

January 7, 2018

The last couple of months have been busy ones. I managed to get the flu for two weeks and then recover only to get the flu again for another three weeks. Then there was the normally busy end of semester and final exam week that is part of my job as a college professor. I did managed to get in a few games in November and December.

In November, Ian (Mr. Warflag) ran a second Franco-Prussian War game using Field Field of Battle (2nd edition). This time he made large bases so that the brigades were on a single base much like Volley and Bayonet bases. I think this worked much better for a large game as it allowed the players to more quickly move their units. Again, the Piquet Field of Battle system worked for larger battles. Each unit was a brigade rather than a battle. Ian made the revised scales, which seemed to capture the larger scale well. I think I took pictures of the game, but I can’t seem to find them!

In December, my son and I played a game of Song of Blades and Heroes. It was my second game and my son’s first game with these rules. We played an ancient Roman and German game. I had six Romans versus my son’s ten Germans. Each side was roughly 400 points. I thought the game worked well and captured the back and forth nature of hand to hand combat. The game took about two hours, which was short to me, I played a lot of 12 hour long wargames back in the 1980s and 1990s, but my son felt the game went on a bit too long. We will try a zombie game using the similar Fear and Faith rules later his January. Again, no pictures as we just wanted to play the game.

Also in November, I played in Ian’s Lion Rampant game. The game was set in a mythical King Arthur era. Arthur and his Christian allies had to help some monks escape from the advancing Saxons. There were about 9-10 units per side with three players per side. The game was fun, but we could have clearly read the rules more before the game. In the end, Arthur failed, the Saxons were able to fight their way to the monks and kill a few of them, with the rest retreating to their monastery. It was a fun game, and the rules seem very well thought out. Ian and some of the other players took a few pictures and they are below:

Figures were provided by Ian and Jeff. The game was played on Ian’s excellent terrain. Photos by Ian and Jim. My son (the young guy in the hoodie) was able to join us and enjoyed the game.


Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes (Romans vs. Germans)

November 6, 2017

I was looking for a set of skirmish rules to use for smaller sized skirmish games between Romans and Ancient Germans. After reading through a lot of reviews on the Internet, I opted to buy and try Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes. Being a bit optimistic about these rules, I also purchased the horror version (Fear and Faith) to use for zombie games and the French and Indian War version (Song of Drums and Tomahawks) as they just looked interesting.

I have only had the opportunity to play the Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes set of rules. Overall, I really liked them. The two key things I liked are the activation system, which makes activating every figure a real decision point in the game, and the traits as they allow you to individualize each figure beyond their basic quality and combat ratings. In activating each figure (or group if activated by a figure with the leader trait), you can roll 1, 2 or 3 dice.Each that is equal to or higher than the figures quality rating allows that figure to carry out 1 action (a few actions take 2 activation points). The problem is that if you fail a roll, the other player/side can use that action as sort of an opportunity action (they do have to roll to active a figure), which might allow them to fire at your figure, melee one, or move. If a figure fails two activation rolls, then the other side can either take those two actions as an opportunity action or end the other players turn. A very simple system, but it works very well. Likewise the traits allow you to characterize your figures in a large variety of ways, so they are not just one-dimensional figures with one or two traits. Also there is a point system so you can have fairly equal forces on both sides if you want that.

I played part of one game, then realized I had screwed some parts of the rules up. I reread those parts of the rules and tried again. I found these rules provided a very good skirmish game for ancient era combat. I tried to have fairly equal points (around 400 if I remember correctly). That worked out to 7 Romans vs. 11 Germans. I found these two forces to be fairly equal in ability. The combat system, which is often inconclusive as well as the morale rules made sure that the game was not just a one round annihilation of one side like in some other skirmish rules. I can’t remember how many turns I played, but it seemed like there were plenty before the game was clearly over and the last German ran off. All in all, Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes is the sort of rules I was looking for. It worked well, was easy to learn, and was interesting to play. Now that my son’s high school band program is largely finished for the semester, I hope we can find the time to give them a try so that we have a real 2 player game.

Here are some photos from my game:

The Germans arrive!

The Romans advance to meet them:

The first casualty (due to a German archer):

The general melee commences:

Things go bad for the Germans:

The last German runs for home:

All in all a success in terms of finding rules to use for this period and with the size of battle I was looking for.


Organization Chart for 5th Light Division for Bill

November 6, 2017

I’m not sure if the signal unit is 3/1139th or something else.

American Revolution with Johnny Reb 3

October 8, 2017

Last weekend I was feeling a bit nostalgic, so I tried out a game of my Johnny Reb 3 variant for the American Revolution. I played a small game with the British having a brigade of British regulars and a very full strength British Legion, and the Americans had Davidson’s North Carolina Militia Brigade (from the 1781 campaign) plus Williams Light Brigade (Maryland/Delaware Light Battalion and a Virginia Rifle unit) and the 3rd Dragoons commanded by Lee. It was a spur of the moment game and I used used post-its to label the units rather than printed, cut and taped fancier labels.

The first issue was how to place orders as normally Johnny Reb 3 is a two or more player game, and this was a solo game. I decided that in the place orders phase, each side would roll 2d6 and add their overall commander’s rating. The winner got to decide if they placed the orders for one of their brigades or if the other side had to place their orders for one of their brigades. With two British and three American brigades this worked fine.

In the end, the game was a British defeat, and they had to fight a rearguard action to get their forces off of the table. I think the game went pretty well. I play a lot of original Piquet, and that means waiting for the card you want to show up to act, so it was enjoyable to just be able to give the units the order you wanted for them each turn. The one thing I would change is the bonus move for infantry in the open. Right now it is 3d6, which means charges can go a pretty long distance. I think the game would play better if that was 2d6. Other than that, it was an enjoyable game. I felt a bit nostalgic playing it as I started playing Johnny Reb with the first edition way back in 1983 or so (when it came out). All of those pipe cleaners being used to mark units took me back to playing JR1 with my friend Bill in the back of his game store. While I enjoyed the game, I wonder if I liked it for the game it was or for the nostalgic feeling it gave me.

I don’t remember the full details of the game, but here are some pictures from it:

The British Set-Up

The American Right Wing Set-Up (Howard’s Brigade and the 3rd Dragoons)

American Right left Wing Set Up (Davidson’s North Carolina Militia Brigade)

General Morgan Prepares For Battle

One of the British Brigades Advances in Open Order:

The British Legion Also Advances:

The Americans Await the British:

American Riflemen Deployed in Skirmish Order in Front of the Maryland/Delaware Battalion in Open Order:

General Davidson (of the North Carolina Militia) Gives an Order:

American Militia Await the British (these are 18mm Blue Moon figures):

American Militia Skirmishers in the Woods (with a Hold order):

The British Brigade’s Assault Fails, but Morgan is Wounded and Out of the Game for Two Turns:

Lots of Routing British Units!

The Remaining British Legion Dragoons Fight a Rear-Guard Action:

Rallied British Infantry Charge Again:

With Howard’s American Brigade Driven Back, Davidson’s Militia Renews the Attack for the Americans:

Once Again, the British Fight a Rear-Guard (the last one):

With Only a “Shaken” Mounted Militia Unit as a Reserve, the Americans Watch the British Depart:

The “Dead Pile” (lots of units end up destroyed in Johnny Reb 3!):

All in all, it was a fun game. It reminded me of how complex Johnny Reb was compared to some more recent sets of rules, but it came back to me pretty quickly. Charges are not as complex as they were in Johnny Reb 1/2 (a part of the game that a friend of mine always referred to as two arguments and a fist fight to resolve). Johnny Reb 3 is clearly a set of rules for the serious gamer, and not very well suited to the casual social gamer who just wants to “roll some dice”. I still like it and may try it out again. My American Revolution figures are based in a way that allows me to use them for either Johnny Reb 3 or Piquet/Cartouche, both of which are sets of rules that I enjoy.

Here are the charts that I used: JR3 AWI CRT JG 7.0