Friday, 26 February 2010

Points Mean Prizes

It almost seems like heresy, but there are various mechanisms that can be introduced into the framework of the Charge! rules according to the taste of the wargamer. Long ago the group I played with fought Napoleonic battles with 15mm figures. These were, of course, tawdry affairs between massed ranks of popinjays garbed in peculiarly shaped headgear and not a decent tricorn in sight. But they are worth recalling because we used a variant of the Charge! melee rules (I have no idea where this variant first arose) that is of some interest. Such a system might be used for the Seven Years War as easily as for Napoleonics, and so I thought I might present it here.

Melee is resolved using individual combats as per the original Charge! rules. This is a point of importance to me, as the procedure generates some excitement (as well as occasional bad language and unkind remarks). But Charge! uses a single dice throw for each side, with multipliers according to the number and type of figures. With the variant rules, each side uses a 'score' which is calculated as the sum of the melee values of the figures involved plus the value of a dice roll.

The melee values we used in our Napoleonic battles were:

Heavy Cavalry = 3
Light Cavalry = 2
Infantry = 1

So if two light cavalry troopers are fighting one heavy cavalryman we'd be comparing (2+2+Dice) vs (3+Dice). A casualty would be removed if a difference of two or more in scores result (as the ordinary Charge! rules dictate), although an additional saving throw of 6 on a single dice roll is allowed for cuirassiers.

It should be noted here that infantry are decidedly weaker in melee than before; no less than three of them are needed for an equal combat against a single heavy cavalryman. I believe this to be a considerable advantage over the original rules where infantry, if they have significantly narrower bases, can rather too easily mob cavalry. As John Preece has noted: allowing only one infantryman to fight any given cavalry trooper can be a useful amendment to the original Charge! rules.

Dragoons Versus Cuirassiers

So much for detail. Now it so happens that Smith, with a full cavalry regiment of thirty all ranks, has been manoeuvring to charge a regiment of Jones's dragoons. I suspect it will come as no surprise to most readers if I disclose that the latter regiment, for a variety of reasons, numbers only twenty.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

A Fight To Forget

Jim Wannop, having bundled his good lady wife out of the car somewhere in the vicinity of Wolverhampton, was in the area 'visiting family': which meant he spent the day fighting a battle with me. Two infantry battalions, a regiment of cavalry and one cannon per side with Charge! elementary rules in play. Unfortunately we were very pushed for time and so I failed to take any photos to record the fight.

That is probably for the best: my performance was not something to dwell on. Napoleon is supposed to have once said "I have fought sixty battles and I have learned nothing which I did not know at the beginning". In my case, on the evidence of the day's proceedings, it appears that I may have forgotten most of what little I ever knew.

Hohenzollern Cuirassiers - Looking On With Dismay At Their General's Ineptitude

Although I failed to recognise it at the outset, the battle was going to hinge on whether I could advance sufficiently rapidly from the confined space in which I had to deploy. Had I placed my cavalry in the front line I might have been able to do so. But instead they spent the larger part of the battle trapped to the rear of my infantry who were frankly going nowhere. Jim had noted the fault in my arrangements and, alert to the opportunity, pressed forwards to box me in very effectively.

The only bright spot was in the closing stages of the battle. My Hohenzollern Kurassiere made a brilliant charge losing but one trooper to a ragged volley, and then sabring a fair number of infantry without any further loss to themselves. Sadly, by this stage my infantry were melting away and my army was at half strength: the agreed decision point.

Perhaps I need to take a lesson from Napoleon's book.  After any setback he'd write a distorted acoount of the battle for Le Moniteur, confident that a sycophantic editor would publish it without any questions.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Officers And Gentlemen

The rank and file of the Hohenzollern Cuirassiers are almost at full muster. The near completion of this stage has raised the issue of how the regiment is to be officered. I decided (for reasons of vanity if nothing else) that I wanted the entire regiment to be made from my own figures. I am therefore taking one of my trooper castings and promoting him, by craftknife and milliput, into an officer: this will serve as a master for an officer's mould. Converting a figure is easy compared to creating one entirely from scratch, and so at the same time I am converting another casting into a dragoon figure to be used for my second Imperial cavalry regiment.

Hohenzollern Cuirassier Officer

Looking at this photo now I can see the poor fellow is frightfully flat chested:  I shall have to adjust him to more heroic proportions. 

Just to add to the list of projects (and to make more efficient use of the milliput I mix up at each stage) I am creating an improved horse figure. This uses a casting of my first horse as a starting point. I have moved two of the legs very slightly for ease of casting as well as refining the horse's anatomy very slightly.

Horse Begets Horse

The final photo shows the current state of my attempt to sculpt a new infantryman. It took a while to decide how to get this moving. I really needed some kind of physical reference point on the dolly: I didn't make any progress until I hit upon the idea of using the frontal edges of the coat for this purpose. So I rolled out two thin cylinders of milliput and pressed these onto the dolly so they ran along the approximate position I though the coat's front edges should be on. Once these were on I used two shorter cylinders to form the inner edges of the coat tails, and after that I could fill in between cylinders to complete the form of the tails.

Mr Blobby

Monday, 1 February 2010

Rubbish In, Ruins Out

I am forever looking for ways to make use of excess milliput left over from conversions, filling in, or my attempts at sculpting.  In the past I was using this for making trees, but I long since gotten enough of those.

The photo shows the final destination of the last year's unwanted milliput. This ruin is intended to take the place of the temporary fieldwork thrown up alongside the mole on the river Weser in Sittangbad. It was made out of MDF offcuts left over from making terrain baseboards. Having made the structure out of MDF, I applied the waste milliput (whenever I had some) on top and cut the stonework in it using my bamboo sculpting tool. This isn't a style of terrain making I particularly like (the effect is rather too like icing on a cake rather than believable construction) but it did salve the conscience on otherwise throwing away perfectly usable material.
Soubise and Lentulus discuss prospects for the forthcoming campaigning season

Aside from that, its clear from the photo that the green on the tile edges is far too bright and doesn't merge at all with the green on my other terrain boards.  So I'll have to go over it again and try to tone it down.