Friday, September 30, 2011

Warlord Games - Pavlovsk Grenadiers

WG are moving fast with their Russian range!

Although we have seen the Pavlosk Grenadiers before, now we can actually order them. They are priced at GBP20.00 per box, but remember if you are outside the EU you won't get charged VAT so that means 20% off that price.

Pre-order Pavlovsk Grenadiers

The third of our plastic and metal Napoleonic Russian boxed sets are the Pavlovsk Grenadiers.

Rewarded for their bravery on the battlefield by the Emperor of Russia they were allowed to retain their distinctive mitre caps when other grenadier regiments were being issued shakos.

This boxed set is designed to allow you to field one battalion of this very famous Grenadier regiment; the variants in the box allow you to build both musketeers and grenadiers along with a command section to lead them into battle. We have also provided a selection of flags from a number of regiments so you can get them into the action right away.

As you can see there are two types of mitre cap – the tall grenadier version and the smaller one worn by the musketeers. As with our 1809-1815 Russian Line Infantry and 1812-1815 Russian Line Infantry sets these are simplicity itself to put together as they are 3-part models…

Each boxed set contains 4 metal and 28 plastic miniatures. Also includes standard poles and flag finials. Also included are 56 metal heads so you can build them as either grenadiers or musketeers. I’ll say that again – 56 heads! Pre-order your box set here today!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Perry British Ammunition Wagon

Just up on the Perry Miniatures Metal Workbench a 'coming soon' British 1814 Ammunition wagon.

Quite a nice addition, will be particularly useful in skirmish games I think. The team looks pretty much the same as that in the 'limber team standing' set.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Free playtest hex based horse & musket rules at Crusader

Another new ruleset, this time from Mark Sims of Crusader, available electronically and free, at least for now, just not sure whether after 'playtest' they will eventually become commercial, I assume so, but as the saying goes 'make hay while the sun shines'.

With a 6' x 4' representing about 4miles by 3miles this is a grand tactical game, your are the Army or Corps commander, uses 2" hexes, and obviously you will therefore need a hexmat!!

I've been toying with the idea of combining boardgame and wargame game mechanics for quite a while and have finally put all my notes togther into a (mostly) understandable format.

The playtest rules are available as a free PDF from the downloads page of the Crusader Publishing site here.

There are 20 pages of rules (plus some sample army lists) which includes a lot of examples and the fast play sheet could be squeezed into half a page of A4 (though I've added helpful notes) so they are easy to learn!

The rules are designed to use infantry battalions, cavalry regiments or artillery batteries but to have lots of these on the table. The scale of the game is pretty big with a 6 foot by 4 foot table representing something like 4 miles by 3 miles.

I still have stuff to do on the rules but the majority of the work is done and they are a 'playable' set for anyone that has an interest in hex based gaming.

Hope Mark doesn't mind but I think his first page introduction explains a lot of the thinking behind these rules:

Why bother with yet more rules? I have always enjoyed board wargaming as much as tabletop and combining aspects of the two seems to make perfect sense to me. These rules use a hex grid to regulate movement, firing and so on but they also use tabletop mechanics and figures. Both of these aspects have their advantages and disadvantages, a few obvious examples include the ease and accuracy of measuring movement, firing or facings with hexes but the problem with an inability to ‘stack’ units in a hex when using figures.

With the above in mind there are some abstractions that players are just going to have to live with (or find another set of rules to play, obviously). The game is designed for large battles where each individual battalion of infantry, regiment of cavalry or battery of artillery is being represented, The idea being that players represent higher level commanders and are not really interested in whether the 2nd battalion of the 27th Line has skirmishers deployed or
not. The local, lower level, commands are assumed to be doing the best thing at the right time, you can even say that the die rolls for firing, melee and so on reflect how well their command is doing.

What do the rules aim to achieve? Well, if you are anything like me you have fought your fair share of battles that start with both sides lined up within artillery range, each player has their troops to command and on the first turn one side or the other begins to attack. This isn’t because an all out attack is the plan but simply so that players get something to do and so that a game has a chance of being finished in a day or evening. As often as not there is little or no manoeuvre, no time for preparatory bombardment and the idea of keeping a reserve is laughable - after all, they’ll never have time to get into the fight if you do that so why bother?

The rules that you choose obviously affect this to one degree or another but I decided that I wanted a game where there were lots of units on the table and where both sides actually had time to develop plans and fight battles as they were actually fought. Turn 1 - charge! gets a bit dull after a while.

How did I try to do this? The obvious option is to make each ‘unit’ on the table represent a larger formation. Instead of your block of troops being a battalion make it a regiment or a brigade, this is what a lot of large scale rules do.
Unfortunately a battle with 25 units on the table where each is a battalion is not far removed from a battle with 25 units on the table where each unit is a brigade. Whatever you call them - you have 25 units. Once again the rules you choose determine to what degree this applies.

I wanted a game where I could command a Corps and have that Corps comprise all of the battalions, regiments and batteries that it did historically. The game then becomes about how you deploy and use that ‘mass’ of troops. You have the scope to detach troops, keep reserves, attack multiple objective and so on, and while you are doing this the other commanders (players) are doing the same thing.

Does it work? Yes, pretty well I think, so long as you accept the fact that the rules are streamlined (‘its all factored in’ conveniently glosses over a lot of things) to allow players to manage a large number of units in a playable time frame. If you want detail you wont find it here, if you want the spectacle of a mass battle and a realistic time frame for playing you’ll ignore the more obvious ‘factoring in’. Think like a Corps or Army commander and not like a Regiment or Battalion commander and you won’t go too far wrong.

If its a grand tactical set of rules where is the Command & Control? Basically, in a nutshell - its the players. I have yet to find two wargamers that fight or think the same way. Where one is ordered to ‘attack’ they’ll go all out with every unit as fast as they can while another will carefully creep forward covering every flank and terrain feature. I guarantee a multi player battle will have at least one player tearing their hair out in frustration - ‘That wasn’t the plan!’.

Finally, these rules are still in the playtest stage, the examples may not be complete, there are some sections that still need to be updated and there are no doubt a fair few typos and possibly some contradictions where one rule has been updated but another has not. I’m always open to suggestions about how to improve things but one thing I am not going to do is add anything. To my mind the trick to writing rules is to see what you can take out and still have
a realistic, playable game - anyone can add rules to cover situations or fill gaps where the basic rules don’t quite work. So, if you can streamline these rules let me know, if you just want to add cavalry feint charges, reverse slope bombardment or overhead fire from howitzers by all means do so for yourself but its not what these rules are about.

Nothing much else to say - try the rules, if you like them, great. If not then you can’t complain - they’re free.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tremble Ye Tyrants - Take II

I did a brief post on "Tremble Ye Tyrants" new ruleset a week or so back, mainly complaining about the lack of information. Since then the only additional information I have come across has been a concise review by vtsaogames on TMP with all due credit to vtsaogames I think it is worth repeating here, though you should note that this review is only based on a read through of the rules not an actual game.

I just got my copy of Chris Peers' new Napoleonic rules, "Tremble Ye Tyrants" in the mail. This is a first impression after having read the rules, no game played.

The rules are 38 pages with a glossy color cover. Inside the front cover are some photos of a very nicely painted 28mm infantry unit. The photos are nice and related to the rules. Inside the back cover are ads for other Chris Peers ‘Ruga Ruga' games. This is not the sort of coffee table book full of pictures that is standard these days but then the rules only cost 10 pounds.

The main reason the rules take 38 pages is because Peers explains his reasoning behind a lot of the rules decisions. I like that but without it the rules would be perhaps 20 pages.

The rules seem old school but with modern tastes accounted for. There are no saving throws. There is a points system and a basic scenario generator that produces either an offensive/defensive battle, an encounter battle with troops arriving on table during the game, or a set piece with possible off-table troops later on. There is no terrain generation system. That's up to the players. The game needs D6 for movement, melee and morale and D20 for shooting. You'll want 4 of each, and always prefer a high score. A peeve of mine is otherwise serviceable rules that reward a high roll one time and a low roll the next. It makes it seem even worse when you do the opposite. I'd also rather the game designer did the work so I don't have to remember which kind of roll is needed for what test. All high gets a good mark in my book.

Another peeve of mine that the rules cater to is two kinds of woods, open and dense. Many rules have good going and bad, period. It's nice to see a little more choice.

Units may be battalions, cavalry regiments and artillery batteries. But they also may be brigade and artillery battalions, without any changes to ranges or rules. There is no hard and fast time or ground scale. But musket range of 4 inches indicates 50 yards to the inch to me, more or less. At higher scales you can rationalize it as including skirmishers. Your mileage may vary. Suggested base widths are 60mm, but as long as both sides are based the same the rules should work. The rules say a good table size is 4X6 feet, larger if you can get it. Infantry and cavalry units have 4 bases each and artillery 1. I imagine that 15mm and smaller scales can be played on smaller tables by halving ranges and such.

Qualities can be assigned to infantry and cavalry. Some are dashing, some are steady and some are ferocious. There are others. Ferocious infantry can attack with cold steel any time. Other infantry must wait until their enemy has a few disorder markers on them. It's an easy way to portray the cold-steel penchant of the British infantry – who don't get a firing bonus in these rules! It's a breath of fresh air for those of us with reservations about Oman's column vs. line story. The rules treat all artillery the same, except well-led French artillery may fire while prolonging forward and British may fire shrapnel. I imagine it wouldn't be hard to finagle raw gun crews should you desire.

The turn sequence is Rally units, roll for off-table troops and move beaten, routed and pursuing troops. Player 1 moves a unit, player 2 moves a unit and so on until everything has moved. Resolve shooting. Resolve melee. Take morale tests. End turn.

Firing is one d20 per firing stand, the result most often a miss or a disorder marker on the target. Sometimes a stand is removed from the target. Artillery has a rather short effective range, but can fire 4 feet at long range. Long range fire is unlikely to produce anything other than the odd disorder marker unless the targets are enfiladed or bunched up. There is bounce through fire, which is also used against reverse slope targets. In many rules, troops on a reverse slope are impervious to artillery fire. Accounts of Waterloo indicate otherwise. Melee is one D6 per attacking unit. The result can vary from a bloody repulse to the defenders routing before contact.

There are some nice touches. I've seen many rules writers jump through hoops to solve the massed column phalanx steamroller – and even then fail sometimes. With some rules, you make an enormous massed column block which cuts through defensive lines at will. In Tremble, each unit makes its own attack. You might do better waiting until the next turn to see how the first unit did. If the turns play quickly, this will be valid. If the turns drag on then the tendency will be to put everything in as soon as possible so there can be a decision before it's time to go home.

It took several passes through the melee rules to decide that this is how multi-unit melees work. Since it's a very different concept it would help if the rules were more explicit about this. Most players expect two units on one to be a done deal. These rules presume that the attacks are not simultaneous. It is possible for a unit fighting two to rout one and be routed by the other – or to rout both.

Victory seems to be a kind of last man standing affair. But since units that accumulate too many disorder markers rout, perhaps the game ends sooner than that. If not, it's certainly easy to just hang a 50% breakpoint or other preferred mechanism on the game.

There are simple army lists. Any self-respecting Napoleonic gamer will of course disagree with some of it. I do. But my gripes are minor and easily fixed. I don't think the Tremble police will come get me if I rate post-1808 Prussian line infantry as dashing instead of steady.

Mr. Peers writes well and can spell. This is the first of his rules I've read. There seems to be a solid game in here. The proof will be in the playing.

PS – one beef – no separate QRS. There is one on the back of the rules, but you'll have to make photocopies of it. I hope they post one on the North Star site as a download so I don't have to back-fold the rules on the copier at work.

Nick also posted a response to the above review, which I think adds a little bit of worthwhile information.
Dear Sir

Thank you for taking time out to post this view of the rules. I'll get a download of the QRS on the website, that is a good idea.

Confession time, I haven't played TyT yet, don't have the armies. The figures on the cover of the book are the start of my French. But I regularly play the other sets, especially the African set, Death in the Dark Continent, and they are a bit of a hit at our regular club meet. I think it is because this series of rules are easy to follow and so you begin playing the game after one session without constant reference to the rulebook. And they are quick. Even mechanisms that seem over simple you appreciate they are so you get through the game in an evening, and actually come to the same result as a more complicated mechanism.

I've priced this latest set at £10.00 GBP in the hope people find that cheap enough to buy just to find out how they read and play.


PS On Military Matters and Brigade Games will have the book in the USA very soon, and Dave Thomas will have the book at UK shows, including Derby next weekend.

Let me also add that Nick at NorthStar has now added a QRS, available from the NorthStar site here. Though there are some formatting issues and I think the columns for movement are reversed (I think they are revising the QRS as we speak) the QRS gives you a good idea of how the game works.

What stands out to me is 4" musket range, movement distance based on D6 so average 3.5" for line, x2 for column, x3 for horse, so short firing range, longer unpredictable movement.

My $.02, very short ranges, very simple mechanisms, plenty of movement, plenty of variability, beer and pretzels type game should combine to work well on the confined (for 28mm) 6' x 4' tabletop and could be a lot of fun to play, don't start debating the historical accuracy of any part of these rules, your missing the point if you do, this is a ruleset to just have fun with, which is not a bad thing and can fit in even if you are a regular fan of some other more sophisticated set. I could see this being a set that generates a lot for 'house variant' rules which often adds to the overall satisfaction I think.

I will still stick by my view that I believe at this end of the market they should follow the 'lardies' example and offer a pdf version of the rules. You may say, as Nick does, GBP10.00 is cheap but I can pick up a copy of 'Grand Battery' for the same price off Amazon and that is 192 pages of a proper glossy hardcover book, which is another reason I feel that pdf would be a better route. They would be a no brainer then and they are IMHO missing a big opportunity if they don't.

There is nothing in particular that these rules have that sets them apart from several others, other than they are new and accessible, I think fun is the key word here, but seemingly in Napoleonics we are always on the lookout for 'new' so might be worth giving them a try and it does make a change from the 'heavy' rules we have seen a lot of in recent years... if they do them in pdf form.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Perry Update

News from the Perry's on the Austrian and Russian lines.

From Alan Perry's announcement in their new Newsletter:

Up on our site (on the Metal Workbench) are shots of the first Russian and Austrian metals which will be available prior to the plastic sets.

The ranges will be extensive and comprehensive (along the same lines as our ongoing British , French and Prussian ranges) covering all branches of the armies using the most recent research.

We will keep you updated on these as well as other ranges via this Newsletter and on the site.

Bye for now!
Alan Perry

and the pic's:

You can subscribe to the newsletter by registering on the Perry site here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Warlord Games - New: Napoleonic Russian Support Packs!

We've seen all these before as greens but they are now available in the WG store so you can rush out and buy them if you wish.

From their announcement:
Following our superb new plastic 1812-1815 Russian Line Infantry boxed set are these two new metal packs – command and casualties! This is just the start of a comprehensive Napoleonic Russian range on the way! Cast a weather eye over these fine sculpts…

First up is this great-looking command pack. Ideally suited to armies fighting after 1812 you could easily use these as early as 1809 by swapping the drummer’s kiwer shako for one of the earlier pattern shakos as you’ll find them in the 1809-1815 Russian line Infantry set – you’ll have plenty of spares after all!

As you’d expect from us here at Warlord there is stacks of variety and options to allow you to build this pack in many different configurations and giving your army a uniform yet individual feel. As you’ll notice from the photos above, all right arms and heads are separate with the pack containing several options of each.

As you can imagine we’ll be producing a similar set for the 1809 pattern regiments so keep your eyes on the newsletter for first sighting!

You can purchase this command pack now here in the webstore.

What would a wargame be without casualty figures? Not only a great addition to your rank and file to add atmosphere to your battalions they can also be used as casualty markers for your games of Black Powder!

You can pick up a pack or two of casualties right here!

As I probably said before some of these poses do look like they were recycled from the Prussian Landwehr but I do like the drummer.

Of particular note "start of a comprehensive Napoleonic Russian range" interesting if true, WG has always struck me as not being really serious about Napoleonics, so I am very interested to see what they mean by 'comprehensive', especially with the Perry juggernaut looming large on the horizon, but as before their Russians do paint up spectacularly well!

One thing I wish, is that Napoleonic manufacturers would 'talk' more to their customers! I hate to do the "Perry are perfect" dance but at least with Perry I believe I know where the range is headed, what I can expect and some of idea when I will get it. Admittedly much of this is due to the Perry track record speaking for itself but other manufacturers don't really have this track record and I think they are missing a great opportunity to get people on board.

If WG are seriously planning a 'comprehensive' range give us an idea of what that means, not saying we need greens now but tell us the scope for the range so we can plan out where WG may fit in to our collections over the next few years ahead, otherwise I am afraid they will be all Perry.

Can't resist another pic of their Infantry...

Flags of War - 28mm Napoleonic France 1815 Pattern

Flags of War continue to expand their Napoleonic range with 34 sets of French flags organised by Brigades specifically for 1815, each set contains two regimental flags, priced at GBP1.75 per set.

  For more info click here

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

French Hussars Uniforms - Part2

Sort of continuing on from the earlier post about Hussars facing colors here are some pictures of the 'real thing' from the Musée de l’Emperi.

The Musée de l’Emperi is located at the Château de l’Empéri overlooking the town of Salon-de-Provence, about 50 kms from Marseilles and is said to be one of the finest military museums in the world.

You need to allow for that fact that photo's can make colors look different dependent on lighting and also that over the last 200 years the color of fabrics may well have changed, not all consistently, some may have become lighter others darker.
So draw your own conclusions.

Trooper 6e Hussards

Trooper 7e Hussards

Officer 5e Hussards
Another shot of the Officer 5e Hussards

Dolman 6e Hussards

Sabretache 7e Hussards

Shako Rouleau

Sabretache 8e Hussards

Cuff/Sleave detail officers pelisse

Officers harness ornaments

Some more information and pictures from the museum can be found here and here and here

Now I did say be wary of the color.
Contrast the above pictures of the officer of the 5e Hussards with the following pictures of the exact same uniform recreated by a company specialising in this type of thing for collectors and renactors. Particularly notice how the Sky Blue of the Dolman can appear darker in some light and also that the original appears to have probably darkened over time.

Pelisse and Dolman of a Trooper 7e Hussards (same source):

Dolman and Pelisse of Sub Lieutenant of the 8e Hussards:
(shows Pelisse with red fur and white/grey fur as it varied throughout the period)

Uniform Chef d'escadron 7e Hussards:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Napoleonic Dice

That's what we all need!!

The other day I saw some dice that Gripping Beast have made for their Dark Age SAGA Rules.

They look stunning, though not exactly cheap at around $20 for 8 dice +pp but after all they are custom dice, still don't you think it would be great if we had something like that for Napoleonic's.

Imagine Lasalle with different dice for each nation.

A couple of years back I did see one of the dice companies do WWII dice and wondered if they would go further but sadly no!

However the other day I came across a Polish company (neat subtle polish link don't you think) called Q-Workshop that will make custom dice for you at reasonable prices.

If you take a look at their site you will see their work is simply stunning, they can replicate some amazing detail and surprisingly it is not some tiny one man operation, they must actually be making a living out of this (don't know how lol).

Anyway don't you think that's interesting and it would be very cool to turn up at your next club meeting with your own special Napoleonic dice wouldn't it?

So what do you think the design should be, the above company can do anything from a graphics replacing the 1 or 6 to complete 6 custom sides, whatever you can imagine they seem to be able to do, and not just D6 either.

A Custom Die 

Stock WW2 USA Set

Stock 'Call of  Cthulhu' set

The pricing of custom sets of course varies dependent on quantity. Their stock dice, which look very cool indeed, run at around $0.75 each, your own custom (full 6 side graphics) dice though are more, they give examples of $6 per dice for a quantity of 20 (the one above) to $1.50 for a 1000, though they would quote specifically for a particular project.

What do you think, ideas, colors, graphics, nations?

Feel free to let your creativity run wild!

This is the dice sinclair talks about in the comments below.
The site is here.

Heads Must Roll!

This post started out a couple of weeks ago as an idea that I thought would be great for Victrix, combine the Hanoverian, the British Lights and the Marines heads, add some Poles in Czpaka's and make them in single plastic set, cheapness of plastic etc. I thought and still do think this could be a winner for them!

Anyway I know ideas like this never go anywhere, so I doubt Victrix would be interested but after seeing the new Poles the other day it got me to thinking (again?) couldn't someone get a sculptor to maybe do a couple of Polish heads wearing Czapka's then have them cast at a reasonable price and then stick them on Perry plastic French bodies?

What do you think, would it be easy to find a sculptor willing to do just a head, and who would cast such a small volume?

What combinations do you think would be needed? I thought one with a plume and one with a plain pompom but maybe only one with plume is needed and you cut off the plume if you just want a pompom, plus a covered czapka.

I have seen some with a sunburst plate on the front (DoW?), others with a shield (Vistula?). Is this really noticeable at this scale? I have also seen the plume/pompom attached either directly to the front corner or half way down the left side, not sure about this.

The Poles wore the Kurtka a jacket which looks very similar to the Bardin uniform except the lapels don't quite go all the way down at the front, at this scale that can be fixed with a bit of paint and obviously when wearing greatcoats (think winter 1812) you couldn't see the difference anyway. So combine them with Perry's French Infantry and you can get Vistula Legion for the Peninsular War, or Duchy of Warsaw in Russia in 1812 and right up to the end 1814, but were they still wearing the Czapka or were they using the Shako?

There is a small article on Napoleon Series about the Czapka.

Much as 28mm Poles in Czapka's look wargaming 'sexy', there is the question of when and where they actually wore the Czapka. By the time the period I am interested in, currently 1813-1815, came around it appears they were all in Shako's not Czpaka's, though some say the 4th Regiment retained the Czapka until the very end, so maybe I could justify one unit. Not sure what the situation was in 1812 but I think it's the same and supposedly even the Vistula Legion in Spain were really in Shako's but who said historical accuracy was that important !!! :)

Probably explains why the Perry's were supposedly not interested in doing these heads.

What do you think? Doable? Worthwhile?

Feel free to pinch this idea if you want, but send me a couple of heads when your done :)

Oh and BTW those Poles, turns out they were for RTB it was a private commission but he will make some available commercially but warns they will be expensive.

Alternatively as I have mentioned before Offensive Miniatures already do pretty decent 28mm Polish Infantry and Lancers at a reasonable price, though on balance Hick's sculpts for RTB are slightly better I feel.