Thursday, May 28, 2009

Published Articles

A friend reminded me that the blog would be a good venue for posting some articles that I've had published in Wargames Illustrated in the past. The first of these is a two part article dealing with the Fenian Raids into Upper Canada in 1866.

“And we’ll go and capture Canada,
for we’ve nothing else to do”
The Fenian Raids of 1866

13th Battalion deploying to face the Fenians at Ridgeway. The figures are part of Ken Cliffe's 54mm collection. Ken is the proprietor of All the King's Men Toy Soldiers.

"So, there I was, comfortably ensconced in my Southern Ontario home (that would be in the Great White North, eh? or Canada, for the non-North American reader) with a large well-equipped gaming room and enough lead in my basement that it threatened to sink the house. Well-educated, well-read (at least, I thought so), and comfortable in knowing that, having been in the hobby for 30+ years, nothing could surprise me. Well, lo and behold, earlier this year, something did come along the pike and take the wind out of my sails. I had recently purchased a copy of Fighting for Canada – Seven Battles, 1758-1945 (edited by Donald Graves of War of 1812 literature and research fame) and had settled into a favourite chair, assuming I would be reading things about which I already had a solid knowledge base. To give some context, I grew up in a Canadian generation that experienced little Canadian history in school; in fact, we learned more about our neighbours to the south than our own national culture and heritage (at least, that’s the perception from more years later than I care to count). Far from wanting to examine the possible shortcomings of our education system (or possibly my own ignorance at the time), I merely want to point out the paucity of historical information I received (or absorbed) in school. Later, in my adult years I made the effort to learn more about the history (particularly the military history) of my own country. I delved into the French and Indian War, the Seven Years War (what else in Canadian history could capture the imagination like the battle of the Plains of Abraham, both commanders dying heroic school boy-inspired deaths?), the War of 1812 (which I made my personal specialty), the Boer War, World Wars One and Two, and even the late 19th century western rebellion with Louis Riel; I even found some interest in the Mackenzie rebellion of 1837 (not an easy thing to do). Of course, it was my dumb luck to grow up and still live in Southern Ontario within easy driving distance from most War of 1812 battlefields in and around the Niagara Peninsula (i.e. Chippewa, Lundy’s Lane, Forts George and Erie). Perhaps that was why it came as such a shock to me to discover an essay by Brian Reid entitled “‘Prepare for Cavalry!’ The Battle of Ridgeway, 2 June 1866.” Surely, I thought, this was a skirmish in South Africa during the Boer War or perhaps some dashing cavalry charge in the latter stages of World War One. Then I looked at the date again: 1866! Interest piqued, I turned the page and was confronted with a passage from a Fenian drinking song: “And we’ll go and capture Canada, for we’ve nothing else to do.” Capture Canada? Why hadn’t I heard of this before? Turns out the Fenian Brotherhood, based in the United States, decided to try its hand at invading Canada immediately after the Civil War (that would be the American Civil War). In fact, the Fenians and the military wing of the movement, the forerunners of the Irish Republican Army, were the last ever to invade Canada – this makes for a great dinner party trivia question!"

Fenians reinforced! Figures again from Ken's magnificent 54mm collection. Many (if not all) of these figures are conversions.

For the full text with maps, look here.

“I’ll sup tonight in Baltimore, or hell.”
The Battle of Godly Wood - September 12, 1814

Part of the Maryland Brigade awaiting the British attack at Godly Wood. 28mm Old Glory figures from my collection.

"When I first began gaming the War of 1812, I was taken by arguably the most popular battles of the war: Queenston Heights, Lundy’s Lane, Chrysler’s Farm, etc. It was easy to find information on these battles and recreate the armies for them. The one overriding characteristic that they all had in common, however, is that they all took place in the northern theatre of operations (i.e. in the Canadas). The other battles (although at the time I hardly thought of them as such) in the south were, I believed, part of a mere sideshow and hardly worth my attention. This was, in part, a product of my childhood education, during which only the “Canadian” battles were highlighted. Of course, close proximity to the battlefields certainly had some impact as well. It wasn’t until I began some serious reading about the campaigns on the eastern seaboard of the United States and the New Orleans campaign (not to mention the advance and repulse of the Peninsular veterans at Plattsburgh) that I realized what I had been missing. Here I found one of the more interesting battles of the war, Bladensburg, featuring political interference (actually on the battlefield), gross strategic delinquency, and, of course, British rockets - what Napoleonic gamer couldn’t be enamoured of the idea of firing off a few rockets? But beyond this battle, or even New Orleans, were a number of smaller engagements worthy of gaming. In particular, the British army clashed with Cousin Jonathan during the advance on Baltimore after the infamous burning of Washington; hence, my discovery of the Battle of Godly Wood (or more commonly, North Point). Here was an engagement of manageable size, pitting Peninsular veterans against American militia of varying quality and, as a bonus, featuring interesting uniforms. Most books on the subject give short shrift to any actions between the Battle of Bladensburg in August of 1814 and the attempt on Baltimore in September, except to mention the “rocket’s red glare” over Baltimore harbour. As an example, Robin Reilly’s otherwise brilliant work on the New Orleans campaign dismisses the action at Godly Wood in a single paragraph; not surprising for a battle that arguably had little ultimate bearing on the campaign."

For the full text with maps, look here.

Painting Update

Unfortunately, I won't be coming even close to my projected painting output for this month. The disappointment is tempered somewhat by the fact that I've been spending some of my painting time cleaning up various lingering little projects. Things like finishing basing, putting on flags etc always seems to take a back seat. Last night I finished the basing on a new Carlist Wars unit, this time Cristino foot artillery.

Cristino foot artillery (figures from the Perry Miniatures)

These figures are a joy to paint for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that I only needed to paint four of them. This is in contrast to a normal horse and musket unit of 8-16 figures. Because I only had four to paint (five, if you count the gun), I decided to take a bit more time and try some rudimentary layering, especially on the blue of the coats and trousers.

I was also able last night to put some flags on my new Napoleonic Spanish cavalry. Although I haven't finished the basing on these, they do qualify as finished items in the painting points game (cuz I makes da rules).

Villaviciosa dragoons, figures from Front Rank.

These two cavalry regiments will make up half of my Spanish army. I planned this force as an adjunct to my British Peninsular army. It will have, when finished, a brigade of infantry with four battalions and one foot artillery battery (pulled by oxen!) and a brigade of cavalry with four regiments. I've always wanted to build a Spanish force, mainly because of the very colourful uniforms that are more 18th century than 19th. There is also the added bonus of gaming with a no-lose army. Everyone acknowledges that the Spanish was one of the most abysmal armies in the Napoleonic Wars (challenging the Neapolitans for bottom place) and thus if I lose a game with a Spanish force it would be expected. If I win, however, I look brilliant! A no-lose situation!

Reina heavy cavalry, figures from Front Rank.

This last unit of Reina heavy cavalry is the one that has bogged down my painting schedule. As can be seen, there is nothing particularly complicated or difficult about this uniform and yet I estimate it took me twice as long to paint as the Villivicosa dragoons. With both units, I've decided (as I have with most of my Napoleonic collection) to use over-sized standards. Many years ago, I took my lead on this from the League of Augsburg. Flags are one of the most eye-catching items on any gaming table and making them up to 40% larger makes them up to 40% more attractive. Check out the League of Augsburg's very cool website here. Next up in the painting queue, two batteries of Austrian Napoleonic artillery along with Archduke Charles and some underlings.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Your Sign?

I have often considered the fact that I have a somewhat chaotic love-hate relationship with wargaming and wargamers. The negative aspects of the hobby sometimes achieve ascendancy in my world but for the most part I’ve learned to look upon my hobby as an opportunity to share and enjoy with like-minded people. I have learned, as I’m sure many others have done, to pick and choose those with whom I enjoy my hobby (although I acknowledge that not all gamers have the luxury of choice). In my hobby journey (sounds spiritual, doesn’t it?), I’ve encountered numerous types of gamer which my borderline OCD nature has categorized, more often than not with little success. It is my hope that I can shed some new light on, perhaps even some insight into, this most unusual of animals…the wargamer. The personalities of most gamers are fairly clearly defined and can be sorted into a few basic categories and types on the zodiac of life, we being uncomplicated creatures for the most part. However, as with most aspects of life, anomalies creep in and, of course, exceptions often rear their ugly heads (sounds like rule-writing). So, I present the zodiac of wargamers, as witnessed by me (and confirmed by others, just so as to disprove any ideas of my own insanity).

Analysis v. Intuition (thinking in or outside the box)

In my experience, there are two broad categories of gaming style into which most gamers fall: analytical and intuitive. The Analytical Gamer examines every situation on the tabletop and assesses the risk factor for every move (or, in business terms, performs a cost-benefit analysis). He tries to determine the possible outcomes of every possible option in a given situation and tries to arrive at the optimum alternative given the context of the decision. Numbers flow, charts are analyzed, angles are measured (and re-measured), often out loud. Discussion is held with fellow gamers, options weighed, and only when all the pros and cons have been compared is a decision made. Some Analytical Gamers are quick and can go through the process without obvious (or verbal) effort; others are less able, or inclined, to do so. The latter group’s peregrinations through the various charts and possibilities can often bog down a game and often lead to conflict with The Intuitive Gamer. The Analytical Gamer tends to argue in absolutes that are part of the box he has constructed to avoid chaos, making rule sets that attempt to take away from or limit control of the player, such as Piquet, the bane of The Analytical Gamer. He is most often seen in a tournament, an atmosphere in which careful analysis and deductive reasoning are most welcome and necessary. It is he who, I’m sorry to say, is most often the one who eschews the need for visual or aesthetic effect. The movement of the troops, the strategy, the numbers, are paramount and the aesthetic quality of the game takes second place.

The Intuitive Gamer, on the other hand, appreciates the look of the game to an equal or greater degree than the game’s sub-structure. He sees things less rigidly. In fact, while appreciating the visual aspects of the game, The Intuitive Gamer more often feels a tabletop situation than sees it. When it looks as though it’s time to send in the heavy cavalry he does so, without spending too much time on the numbers involved. This isn’t to say that The Intuitive Gamer doesn’t care about the details and consulting the charts. He merely places importance on the look or feel of an action rather than its science. While neither type is particularly disruptive among others of his kind, mixing of the two can easily produce tension and anxiety in an otherwise friendly situation. I advise trying to avoid placing The Intuitive Gamer directly across the table from The Analytical Gamer, regardless of whether they are friends or not. Most productive in this type of situation is The Hybrid Gamer; he who possesses both analytical and intuitive traits. The Hybrid Gamer is frequently the game-master or, at the very least, the resident peace-maker. He appreciates the intuitive feel of a gaming situation but acknowledges the necessity and importance of charts and numbers. This is generally where I place myself, but maybe more because I ascribe to the adage that “he who can, does; he who can’t is the game-master.”

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

There are also a number of specific gaming personalities that I’ve run across and with whom we are all familiar that compliment or sometimes supercede the analytical and intuitive monikers. On review, most seem to be negative stereotypes and tend to be disruptive or contribute to tension and unhappiness. But, I should point out that by far the majority of gamers are quite personable, upbeat, and a pleasure to be with. As with any group, whether niche or mainstream, the unconstructive and negative minority have an impact far exceeding their numbers.

The Shuffler

The Shuffler is a personality we have all come across and perhaps even with whom we all share certain traits. It is he (or she, although I’ve yet to witness this trait in a woman gamer) who, during the movement phase, will shuffle a unit (or figure) back and forth from its starting point to various potential ending points. While the exploration of alternatives is not particularly irritating, it is the often callous disregard of the unit’s original starting point that places The Shuffler among my top most irritating gamers. Once the unit has been moved a few times, its precise point of origin has been lost; thus, each subsequent shuffle takes the unit farther from its allowable movement. Taken as a single act (and we’ve all done it, whether we’re willing to admit it or not), it is not particularly disruptive. A single unit or figure gaining (or losing, for that matter) an inch does not (or should not) a battle decide. However, when this takes place constantly or consistently in a game, the advantages are cumulative. I will admit that most often this is not a conscious desire to deceive or manipulate, rather an ignorance of the effect on the game. In other words, most times this is an innocent act and easily corrected by a simple reminder. Even those gamers who are consistent Shufflers but are merely ignorant of their actions (i.e. are not doing it for advantage) can be politely righted in their wayward actions. But, of course, there are always those who seek to take advantage of others and The Shuffler can be one who, though constantly reminded, must at some point be reprimanded by fellow gamers or the game-master. Do they think that others can’t see what they’re doing? This type of manipulation is, perhaps, the most obvious and could thus be even considered the most heinous because of this.

The Shaker

The Shaker is he who shakes his dice for inordinate amounts of time while other players are waiting to get on with the game. How often do you need to shake your dice back and forth? It doesn’t change the odds (or the chances) and only serves to slow down the game and irritate others, no matter how satisfying it is to feel “the bones” rattling across your palm. The Shaker is usually rather superstitious and can be seen to throw away dice (towards inanimate objects in anger or merely into a waste basket) because of their apparent uselessness or growling at others who touch their dice and screw up their mojo. Granted, I have my favourite dice and I joke about people touching them without permission (no, really, I’m just joking!) but assigning anthropomorphic qualities to them (and talking to them) is a little disturbing.

The Leech

In many gaming groups, formal or informal, there resides The Leech. It is he who provides nothing of substance to the group and takes from all and it is this gamer (and I use this term loosely in this case) who excites the most virulent responses in me. In most, if not all, gaming groups, gamers provide what they are able. Some are prodigious painters or terrain makers, some like to assume the mantel of game-master, some provide the historical research and insight. The skills and abilities of the group members are often clearly delineated and fairly well-specialized even if they haven’t been verbalized or formalized. There is usually an organizer, who makes the arrangements for the games (venue, game-master, genre, etc) and herds the gamers towards a common goal (whether long-term or short). He is also quite often the game-master in the group, although this is frequently shared among the group members. There are those who provide armies and terrain and those who have gaming space where games can be hosted. Some are rules writers and researchers. All but The Leech contribute in some manner, although others may not be conscious of their contributions. Granted, some gamers don’t have the resources to provide the practical physical resources mentioned above. Perhaps they’re students, or even on the dole, or don’t have the skills to paint, build or run games. If they aren’t Leeches, they contribute enthusiasm, help out whenever possible with setting up and running games, and the more enterprising of them borrow armies and run games and scenarios despite their lack of resources.

The Entertainer

Some gamers in a group, despite not providing any of the aforementioned, are simply The Entertainers. These guys, and gals, are the story-tellers, the comedians, the clowns, who lighten up tense situations and can provide historical insight or timely observations. These gamers are usually just happy to play games and are often the first ones to “buy a round” or bring goodies to the game. While not providing the same tangible gaming resources as others, The Entertainers are nonetheless a valuable part of any group. However, The Leech contributes none of these things. In fact, The Leech more often than not sucks the energy from a room, a game, a group. It is he who shows for every game but never runs a game himself. It is he who partakes of others’ efforts but never provides a painted figure, a gaming table, or even (more often than not) a friendly personality. Can you tell I don’t like this guy? Is it that obvious that The Leech is my least favourite gamer?

Contradictions…not possible!

At this point it may be interesting to point out a strange contradiction that exists in my gaming life. It’s always been my belief that when hosting a game in my home, it is my responsibility to provide refreshments and snacks to make the experience comfortable for all. Whether this is simply soft drinks and pretzels or a more elaborate spread of wine, beer, and those cute little sandwiches with no crusts, is based on the type of company expected. Granted, I must confess that there have been times when I’ve scrimped on the offerings because I wasn’t particularly enamoured of the expected visitors or, more often, because I was lazy. But then again, to avoid this, I could simply invite to my home only those to whom I would prefer serving wine and cheese (instead of no-name soda and stale potato chips). “Where’s the contradiction?” you may ask? When visiting another’s home for a game, I feel it is my responsibility to bring something along and that it is not the duty of my host to feed and water me. And yet, do I expect others to contribute when I host? Here is the crux of the dilemma for me. I feel it’s my responsibility to provide and that it’s not necessary for my guests to bring anything, yet in the dark recesses of my psyche (a scary place at any time) I feel somehow cheated or abused when my guests don’t contribute or, sin of all sins, even express gratitude (a simple thank-you would be nice). You can see how discussing The Leech ties in here…‘nuff said!

The Nit-picker

The Nit-picker is more often referred to as The Rules Lawyer and is frequently also The Blow-Hard. I don’t need to get into too much detail here except to say that The Nitpicker can be excessively annoying. He is usually devoid of any semblance of tact, so intent is he on proving his point or illuminating the apparently uneducated. When acting also as The Blow-Hard, any good sense or intelligent understanding he may possess is drowned out by his obnoxiousness. In fact, his particular point of illumination for the gathered masses usually devolves into inane blathering. The Nit-picker is also the guy who shows up at a game (often uninvited) and proceeds to denigrate the efforts of others. “Those cuffs on your Freudian grenadiers should be pointed, and blue, if you’re setting this game in 1734.” Granted, The Nit-picker more often than not means no harm and really doesn’t know how little tact he possesses. But is this really an excuse for his behaviour? Of course, there are always The Nit-pickers who are actually trying to assert some sort of moral or intellectual authority, however misplaced. These last are exceptionally annoying and deserve the proverbial “kick upside the ‘ead!”

The Tinkerer

Closely related to The Nit-picker is The Tinkerer. There are varying levels of degree of The Tinkerer but the simplest is he who incessantly tinkers with rules mechanisms in a seemingly endless quest for the perfect rule set. No modifier or mechanism is sacrosanct in his quest for the ideal; no rule not easily bent to his whim. Now when one is tinkering with one’s own rule set, this is perfectly acceptable (until taken to the nth degree of never-ending tinkering). Perhaps not surprising is The Tinkerer’s ability and desire to tinker with rules before he has even played with them or, horror of all horrors, before he has even read them. Disbelieve all you like; the latter guy actually exists! The advent of the internet has made this much more possible. The Tinkerer can now easily read reviews of a rule set and begin to base his conclusions solely on the (often generally-based, uninformed, or vague) opinions of others. It is also he who is seen to play a few turns with a rule set new to him and then pronounce judgment not only on the relative merits of its mechanisms and historical accuracy but also articulate how he would improve, modify and tinker. Possibly most interesting about this character is how he normally is studious in avoiding writing his own rules.

The Whiner

Common to most wargames tables is The Whiner; he who seems happy on the surface but will find any excuse to display his true gaming nature: dissatisfaction. The Whiner should never be given command of the Forlorn Hope assaulting the fortress, the Legionaries waiting for succour from the hordes of surrounding Germanic tribesmen, or the British paratroopers at Arnhem bridge hoping for the arrival of XXX Corps. These are merely uncomfortable situations waiting to happen. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of The Whiner is his desire to be put in these situations, despite their seemingly hopeless nature. Another type of Whiner is he who takes part in a game happily with no obvious sign of a desperate situation facing him as pointed out above until fortunes begin to turn and the situation becomes less controlled. At this point, the annoying whining begins, often a form of blame centered on the rules or the scenario (the gods forbid he should criticize his own conduct). As The Whiner’s fortunes begin to change for what he perceives as the worst, The Whiner can easily turn into The Bummer. This form of transition sees the The Whiner frequently become depressed and quiet, to the point of hearing something along the lines of, “What’s the point? If my panzer grenadiers are going to be slaughtered charging across this open field, I might as well not even bother!” The Bummer sees things in black and white and often fails to look outside the very cramped box he has created for himself. He doesn’t see that if he charges against several British Vickers MGs over open ground with no support, his forces should be slaughtered. Of course, other options might be available: skirting the field, “shoot & scoot,” artillery preparation, smoke, to name a few. The Bummer just doesn’t see them or refuses to acknowledge other possibilities. Perhaps most annoying to The Bummer’s fellow gamers is not the obvious depressing nature of his attitude but his subsequent actions. Desperation and perceived hopelessness all too often breeds silliness. “If I can’t win anyway, I might as well come out of the redoubt and charge my landwehr against his guard grenadiers. What difference does it make?” It may make a difference to the enjoyment of his opponent or to the fortunes of his compatriot gamers but he sees only himself and his own misfortunes. Strangely, The Bummer frequently sees his own devil-may-care attitude as amusing, an attitude that only feeds the fire of discontent among his peers.

The Helper

Fortunately, there are among us The Helpers, who offer their services, their knowledge, and their expertise for the betterment of the group (or even the hobby as a whole). These guys are ever happy to spend time showing you how to make realistic trees from toothpicks and dryer lint; they love to share painting tips and help you set up games at conventions; they’ll go out of their way to pick you up and drive to a game, then offer to buy dinner on the way home. The Helper asks little or nothing in return. Sometimes this is truly motivated by selflessness but can also be generated from insecurity. Nevertheless, most gamers can see themselves in The Helper role from time to time (if not always) and they are a critical component of any gaming group (formal or informal). Unfortunately, The Helper is often abused and taken advantage of (sometimes unintentionally but far too often with a purpose). The Helper can also be The Entertainer, although this is rare. The latter, despite his basic helping nature, is usually too busy devoting his energy to his craft for any other consideration. This is actually a good thing and makes The Entertainer all the more…errr…entertaining.

The Braggart

Let us not forget The Braggart (or The Show-off), who tends to also to be The Blowhard and/or The Nit-picker. The Braggart needs little explanation. We are all proud of our accomplishments in this hobby, no matter how small or large. I paint a new unit and I’m anxious to put it on the table and show it off to my gaming buddies. This is a normal, healthy desire, the approbation of one’s peers and desire for acknowledgement of one’s efforts, if demonstrated with genuine passion and joy. The Braggart loudly voices his accomplishment as a demonstration of his competitive ascendancy. He’s in competition with his peers and apparently feels the need to trumpet his accomplishments in that light.

All Talk-No Action

Have you ever heard or been involved in an exchange like this?

Gamer1: “I’m planning a big Napoleonic game for next weekend. How many French units do you have?”
Gamer2: (grandly) “Well, I have 36 line battalions, 6 legere, 14 cavalry regiments and 4 artillery batteries.”
Gamer1: (incredulous) “All painted?”
Gamer2: (unapologetically) “No. But I do have 4 battalions and 1 cavalry regiment done…well…painted but the bases aren’t finished.”
Gamer1: (with slight irritation) “So all those others you don’t have.”
Gamer2: (trying to save face) “Well, yeah…I’ve got ‘em all organized and ready to paint.”
Gamer1: (facetiously) “So those unpainted units will be a BIG help to me on the weekend.”

This guy (Gamer2) is but one example of The All Talk-No Action gamer. Another is the one who morphs in and out of The Braggart mode when describing the grand gaming project he is about to embark on. ‘This is wonderful,’ you think upon hearing how he plans to model the entire order of battle for Operation Market Garden in 6mm. He has enthusiasm, vision, and a plan. Sure it’s great the first few times you hear the guy discuss it; but after several years of it without any visible results (or even an effort to begin consummating the idea), it begins to wear on the nerves. We all like to daydream aloud with our friends about future projects and grand schemes for the greatest game on earth (how better to while away the time on those long car trips to conventions?). However, The All Talk-No Action Gamer goes several steps beyond.

The Magician

One of my favourite personalities in the hobby is The Magician, the flower-child of wargaming who seems completely comfortable in his role of game-master-entertainer extraordinaire, who is able to pull excitement and fun from his sleeve on command. The Magician is most often associated with Pulp Fiction or Fantasy gaming and has little regard for conventional rules and procedures, eschews tables and charts, and quizzically flips his eyebrows when queried about his motivation for managing or creating particular events on the tabletop. How could anyone take steam-powered Zeppelins seriously? It is he who ascribes to what I affectionately call the Howard Whitehouse Rule: “If a four-wheeled vehicle leaves the ground for whatever reason during the game, it will immediately burst into flames.” The key to understanding the Howard Whitehouse Rule is that there is no understanding, no practical or rational explanation. It just looks cool and, frankly, shouldn’t that always happen? When The Magician hosts a game, everyone is assured of having a good time, even though a complete understanding of the game and its mechanics is unattainable; in fact, it is usually unnecessary. It’s easy to see how The Competitor and The Rules Lawyer can bridle at the suggestion of participating in a game hosted by The Magician. Strangely, however, The Braggart and The Whiner both often enjoy such games; the former because he has an outlet for his outrageous braggadocio, the latter because he intuitively sees that there is no hopeless situation in The Magician’s game.

The Competitor (or how to confuse self-worth)

And we shouldn’t forget about The Competitor, often seen in the guise of The Blow-Hard or The Nit-picker but most easily categorized as The Analytical Gamer. The Competitor is most comfortable around, and most easily received and accommodated by, other Competitors. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Competitor is not his obvious traits (i.e. general lack of aesthetic appreciation, commitment to detail and procedure, etc.) but his ability to wrap up his own self-worth with his abilities and achievements on the tabletop in particular and in the hobby in general. Of course, this attribute is not confined to this specific gamer nor specifically to our hobby. We’ve all seen this happen. A gamer that often starts as The Braggart or The Blow-Hard, trumpeting his own virtues verbally or through his choice of body language, after seeing his on-table fortunes waning becomes The Whiner or The Bummer. You can read it in his eyes that he has lost some part of his manliness in the eyes of his peers because he has performed badly in the game, when in reality there is no such perception from his fellows around the table. This is one wargaming trait that, as common as it is, I just don’t understand. How can one equate one’s self-worth with one’s skill, or lack thereof, in a wargame? It’s a game for goodness sake! There’s no money involved (well, not usually). Your career doesn’t depend on the game’s outcome. If I lose the game, I’m not ruining my chance for a date (and if so, I’m definitely in the wrong place). If I made some sort of “real” connection between my on-table abilities and my place in the world, I’d have been moved to an institution long ago.

Judging by the weight I’ve assigned to the negative personalities in our hobby, you’d think I was much more inclined toward the hate part of the love-hate relationship. Or that I possess none of their negative qualities and am the only good wargamer. Not true! In fact, my hubris has not yet reached those heights (at least my wife doesn’t think so) and the majority of my observations have been collected during those few, but inevitably impressing, negative incidents in my gaming life. Issues with negative gamers are generally few and far between in my life but seem to occupy my thoughts far longer than the initiating incidents, a common theme in most people’s lives I think. I try to look at my interactions with the gamers I’ve described as opportunities to reflect on my own foibles and how they may be affecting those around me. More often than I care to admit, I find myself in more than one of the categories I’ve described, but hopefully not The Leech.

Battle of Bladensburg

The 5th Maryland Regiment standing resolute! These are Old Glory 28mm figures from that company's quite excellent War of 1812 range.

Recently, I was able to host a re-fight of the Battle of Bladensburg, 1814. (this was actually the fourth time I've hosted a re-fight of this battle). This battle saw a small British expeditionary force, commanded by Major-General Robert Ross, pitted against a rag-tag American army under Brigadier General William Winder. Ross' army had been operating in the Chesapeake aboard Royal Navy vessels for some time and the battle at Bladensburg was the end result of a landing-in-force that had as its objective Washington. For a good synopsis of the battle and campaign, look here.

Major-General Ross and aide directing the deployment of the British line. Once again 28mm Old Glory figures but this time from the Napoelonic range.

There are some interesting elements to this battle that make this battle never grow old in my eyes. An experienced British army must force a river crossing across a river that is bridged in only one place and presents few chances to ford. Although the British infantry clearly out-classed anything the Americans could put against it, Ross had a number of disadvantages. He was unfamiliar with the country and terrain, his army had no horses to drag about his few cannon, and he he had little or no scouting abilities because there were no cavalry present. He did have the dubious advantage, however, of having in his force a detachment of Royal Marines and sailors manning a battery of Congreve Rockets.

The Americans, on the other hand, also had a combination of advantages and disadvantages. First, their position was of some strength, attempting to deny the British a bridgehead across the Potomac. Unfortunately, the disadvantages were many. Winder was a less than stellar leader. He had spent the last weeks galloping about the countryside, ostensibly organizing his forces and reviewing the defences about Washington and Baltimore. In reality, he spent more time riding and passing his frenetic personal chaos on to his subordinates than in any actual preparation or organization. The proximity of the battlefield to Washington brought out the political illuminati, some of whom thought that they could contribute militarily (but more of that anon). Winder's army was composed primarily of militia units, untried in campaigning and battle, with a scattering of regular army detachments (which, in retrospect, were more abominable than their militia brethren). The one shining light in Winder's army was Commodore Barney's flotillamen. These veteran sailors had been forced to ground and burn their gun-boats a few days previously and were itching for some payback. These few hundred sailors and marines managed to drag three 18-pders and one 12-pder to the battlefield from the naval yard in Washington, all without the benefit of horsepower. Quite a feat in itself!

Plan of the campaign and battle of Bladensburg, from Benson J. Lossing's Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812.

After allowing the American commander to deploy his units on the west bank of the river, I then have the British commander deploy his army in march column on the road running along the east bank toward Baldensburg. At this point, players assume the game will begin as any other. This is when the wandering American politicians make their presence felt. The American CinC must now roll 1d6 for every unit in the army with the following results applied immediately before the game begins:

1 = move the unit 12" forward
2 = move the unit 12" backward
3, 4 = no effect
5 = move the unit 12" right
6 = move the unit 12" left

This causes some wonderfully hilarious reactions from players, ranging from amused consternation to outright indignation at the tinkering with their careful dispositions. I lifted this entertaining mechanic from The Canadian Wargames Group ruleset, Rocket's Red Glare (a quite excellent ruleset). The battle this time saw a very determined American defence of the riverline but once the British were able to establish their bridgehead, the superior quality of their troops began to tell. Nonetheless, the Americans continued to fight fiercely and were able to hold out longer than in any previous re-fight. The end result could be described as a marginal British victory.

Baltimore artillery trudging forward.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Armour Museums

I was trolling through some old data discs the other day and came upon a collection of (mostly) WWII armour photos from some trips and excursions I've made over the last few years. I was fortunate a few years ago to visit Moscow and during my visit, my guide agreed to take me to a couple of armour museums in the city. The more interesting of the two sites I visited was quite the adventure. My wife and mother-in-law decided that they wanted to go shopping in the city, so I had the guide drop me off at The Great Patriotic War Museum. I had heard that there was a large outdoor tank park located somewhere near the museum and, outfitted for a cold Moscow day (it was mid-February), I walked to the museum from the drop-off point only to find the museum closed. "No problem," I said to myself, "I can walk through the park and find the outdoor museum." So off I went into a large forest, trudging through three feet of snow. After losing my way several times, I finally came upon the fenced in tank park...only to find it locked and closed as well. I trudged around the exterior of the park for a few minutes, pining over my inability to get in to see up close the vehicles I could clearly see only meters away. Coming upon an unlocked gate, I gingerly pushed it open and stepped inside (this was Russia after all...ya' never know what might happen). From a nearby guard shack a couple of regular army, uniformed guards walked towards me, fully-armed. At this point I should point out that I don't speak a lick of Russian and they apparently didn't understand my frantic attempts in English to explain myself. Luckily, the universal languages of cigarettes and money saved the day. Sharing Canadian smokes and passing a $50.00 USD note surreptitiously seemed to gain me two new friends, and an impromptu guide. Over the next hour and a half, my new friend (with whom I could communicate only by hand signals) gave me the informal tour of the park.

The KV-2 has always been an impressive vehicle to me and seeing it up close did nothing to disabuse me of that notion!

To see all the photos of my adventure, look here.

I was also able to visit another museum the next day (the name of which has escaped me) but not in such an adventurous style. Nonetheless I was able to take my favourite photo of the visit below:

I've also been lucky to visit the US Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen, Maryland a couple of times. There are some really great armour examples here and I recommend anyone who has the opportunity to visit. Too see all the photos, look here.

Now this Jagdtiger is a monster!

Right in my own proverbial backyard is a little-known collection of armoured vehicles at Canadian Forces Base Borden, outside Barrie, Ontario (just north of Toronto). On the base is a small collection associated with the Major General F.F. Worthington Memorial Park. I've visited this collection several times and you can see a batch of photos here.

Pzkpfw V Panther

The park at CFB Borden is a very quiet, serene place. It's ideal for lingering over the displays and even climbing on the vehicles. I highly recommend a visit and I plan to do so myself sometime this summer to see if anything new has been added.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Theatre of War: Turn 2

Another update to our Napoleonic campaign. As can be seen from the strategic map, most of the action took place around Oberdorf. After losing the battle at the end of turn 1 near Oberdorf, the losing French battlegroup retreated back to Oberdorf, carefully transporting the wounded Emperor. The Allies advanced upon Oberdorf with the hope of taking the French Base of Operations at that place, despite the fact that the only available Allied battlegroup was only Strength Point 1 (of a possible 4). The resulting battle was a tense affair that started well for the Allies but rapidly degenerated into what could only be characterized as a disastrous rout.

the situation at the end of turn 2

Again, the French were able to bring some of the guard to the battle (which makes sense, since it is the army's Base of Operations and Napoleon was in the town recovering from his wounds). This time, however, it would be the French who fielded no artillery.

The Allies, on the other hand, were able to finally bring forward their lost guns and fielded a battery of British 6 pders and for added surprise, a Royal Horse Artillery rocket battery. This is one of those units that is really more flash than substance. Rarely in games have I seen a rocket battery make any significant contribution. The rockets are very cool nonetheless and I always look froward to having them in a scenario. I've run several versions of The Battle of Baldensburg from the War of 1812 where rockets are really in their element. Throwing these chaotic and unpredictable weapons at American militia never fails to produce a positive result. In the battle of Oberdrof, however, they were not facing unsteady farmers and shopkeepers in fancy uniforms.The opening moves of the Battle of Oberdorf again saw the Imperial Guard cavalry trying to make an end run and outflank the Allied army (is there no creativity in the French army?). The British cavalry attempted to counter this move but the abysmal nature of the Allied command structure prevented this from happening in anything but a lethargic manner. The Allied commander was not the best of the lot in an army of sub-par leaders. Not only was he naturally below average on any given day, on this day in particular he was rated as Abysmal (the lowest rating possible) and his card deck was also the worst. On the flip side, the French commander was rated as Superior with an excellent deck (both the highest possible ratings). It was the Allied commander's hope to come out of the encounter with a Marginal loss given the odds against him (that would be me, by the way...wishful thinking as it turned out).

first phase of the battle

While the guard cavalry was off on its merry jaunt, the bulk of the French army moved to secure the small town on the Allied left flank. The Allied commander had placed his weakest troops in the town, hoping the natural cover of the buildings would help to redress the imbalance in troop quality. At first, this was a successful move as the Wurttemburgers and the Old Guard infantry attempted multiple times to break into the town. Through canny re-positioning of units and the naturally strong position, the Austrian infantry in the town was able to hold out for quite a period.

second phase of the battle

Unfortunately, this stiff resistance eventually came to an end as the Austrian infantry was unceremoniously bundled out of the town. Coupled with the French guard cavalry's successful foray against the Allied right flank the fate of the Allied army was sealed. Having lost the town and with the guard cavalry bearing down quickly upon them, the troops holding the center of the Allied line soon found the position untenable and without further ado ran screaming from the field like little girls. So much for the hoped-for marginal defeat. Once all the calculations were finished, the Allies had lost 39 National Will Points (a substantial part of their whole) in this Crushing Defeat and received a "30% downgrade" modifier. To add insult to injury, the last die roll of the game saw the Allied battlegroup commander disappear in whiff of grapeshot. Probably for the best after his dismal performance!

third & final devastating phase of the battle

With any luck (and forethought), I may be able to post some pictures of the next game. That would, of course, require Vidal and I to bring a camera and put down our wine glasses long enough to frame the shots!

Theatre of War: Turn 1

It's time to get caught up with the Theatre of War campaign currently underway. The French began to move their forces into the operational area from the south and south-east. Napoleon placed his administrative and logistical resources in Oberdorf, declaring it his Base of Operations. Looking on the map you can see the blue and red arrows, showing French and Allied movements in Turn 1 respectively. The numbers beside each arrow (i.e. 1-2) indicate the turn number and the initiative. The large red numbers indicate Victory Points for important areas on the map. As the French moved north to Oberdorf, the Allies (me!) fell back but simultaneously moved forces south from Grasselfing to investigate the reported French movements near Oberdorf. It was here, just to the west of Oberdorf that the Allied movements ran into an enemy force under the command of Napoleon himself (French "A" on the map). Thus was the first battle of the campaign created.

The situation at the end of turn 1.

Napoelon brought along a respectable force, including some of the Imperial Guard (drat!). See the French OB below:The Allied Order of Battle was somewhat less spectacular:
The astute observer would notice that the Allies had no artillery present in this battle group. The artillery commander had been late in reacting to his orders to march south and thus was far behind the lines when the battle began. In fact, his lethargy would deprive the Allied commander of much-needed fire support for the entire battle. A map was generated as per the rules (link) and seemed to favour the Allies, in that it was well-clogged with terrain features that would theoretically inhibit the effectiveness of the French guard cavalry and artillery. The initial dispositions and first moves can be seen below:

first phase of the battle

As you can see, the Allied cavalry decided that it might be a good idea to test their mettle and move boldly against the French guard cavalry. In fact, one unit was actually able to catch the Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval fully in the flank. Unfortunately, it was like watching an apple thrown at a brick wall. The chasseurs calmly watched the pieces of the Austrian lancers fall limply to the ground and proceeded to trample the remains under their horses' hooves. Meanwhile the rest of the French army advanced to take on the remainder of the Allied army. The British infantry in the center moved to take the bridge and also advanced boldly against the Old Guard infantry. Here, the result was more favourable to the Allies as the steady lines of redcoats held Les Grognards in place.

second phase of the battle

La Garde Recule! Yes, it's true, the Old Guard infantry found it prudent to back off from the stubborn redcoats. It could be characterized by a precipitate withdrawal more than a rout (the guard never routs!). Unfortunately for the Allies, this unexpected success in the center was tempered by the complete collapse of the Allied left wing. Meanwhile, the guard cavalry was following up on its success against the Allied light cavalry.

third & final phase of the battle

In the final phase of the battle the Allied left wing was able to re-establish itself (albeit , further back) and the French advance in that sector ground to a halt. In the center, the guard cavalry was beginning to make its presence felt but it was too late. With the withdrawal of the guard infantry, the British infantry and cavalry in the center were able to counter the threat. At this point, the French were dangerously close to failing an Army Morale Check and to make matters worse, the Fates decided at that moment to serve the French army a serious blow. The Emperor suddenly reeled in his saddle and fell to the ground wounded by a stray musket ball. Surgeon Larrey rushed to his side and decided that His Majesty would need to be removed from the field immediately. The army, seeing (or sensing) the fall of their glorious leader decided that enough fighting had been done for one day and prudently surrendered the field.

In strategic terms, Napoleon was rendered hors de combat for three full turns (i.e. he will come back into action at the beginning of campaign turn 4). The battle group involved in the battle was assessed a "10% downgrade" modifier for all future battles. This means that whenever this battlegroup is engaged again and after all the units are graded, a random 10% of the units in the battlegroup are downgraded one level. The Allied battlegroup received the opposite "10% upgrade" for this Marginal Victory. The French also lost 17 National Will Points (when an army's National Will Point total is reduced to zero, the campaign is over).

Overall, a satisfying result for the Allies, given that they were faced with the best troops in the campaign. My thanks to Vidal, my campaign mate and my sympathies for the wound he received!

Royal Military College

I had the distinct privilege of attending the year-end parade at College Militaire Royale de St Jean, outside of Montreal, Quebec. For the non-Canadian viewers, CMR (or in the English version, RMC) is the Canadian equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst. While this is not strictly gaming-related, it is definitely military in nature. Why, you may ask, was I attending this parade? WARNING: proud father moment!!! Both of my sons, Michael and Daniel, are attending this prestigious institution and in three years will graduate as commissioned officers in the Canadian Armed Forces. This spring they've just finished their first of four years at CMR/RMC and continue their studies at the Kingston campus in September (which is much better for me since Kingston is four hours closer by car than St. Jean). I couldn't think of a more satisfying feeling than seeing my boys (well, they're men actually...gotta' remember that), following such a noble and fulfilling career path. Of course, my life-long interest and academic training in military history makes me that much prouder of their career choice.

Officer Cadets Michael & Daniel Hoyt

One of the highlights of the parade (aside from Daniel as 2iC of his squadron, hence his scarlet uniform), was the attendance on parade of the regimental band of the Royal 22nd Regiment, or Van Doos. An exceptional band and a pleasure to watch (I'll have pics posted as soon as I remember where I stored them).

The marching band of the Royal 22nd Regiment.

Another highlight was meeting Vice-Admiral Rouleau J.A.D., OMM, MSM, CD, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. The admiral was the reviewing officer on parade. After the parade, my son Michael, my daughter Diana and I were relaxing by the Richilieu River on campus, enjoying the day and chatting. We looked over and sitting 20 paces away was the admiral, alone and typing into his blackberry. He was obviously taking some time away from his official duties to relax for a moment. My daughter (10 years old, brave and forthright) sauntered over to talk to the admiral. Within moments, she had brought him over to chat with us. Almost simultaneously, my other son Daniel and some of his cronies (er....fellow cadets) showed up on scene. The admiral, a very personable and engaging man, was kind enough to stand and chat with us all for over ten minutes. I think this was a great example of how those who make it to the top of their profession can easily relate to and engage those who are only beginning.

Seeing my boys on parade on such a beautiful day in St. Jean was fantastic! A word of warning though: When they graduate in Kingston in 2012, don't bother trying to have a conversation with me. I'll be a blubbering idiot, proud and thankful.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Out of Obscurity...

Since I'm so busy at work today (grin), I thought I'd post some pics of a project that has long lain dormant for me but has been slowly percolating in the background. Maybe it's time to resurrect this very cool project. These are 54mm Sudan Wars figures, mainly from Armies in Plastic but with a smattering of other manufacturers and some customized items as well.

Royal Marines & British line infantry

The Armies in Plastic figures are quite nice but are limited in pose variation. I am not quite sold on working with plastics and I try in this scale to use metals, if available. Thus, my use of All the King's Men Toy Soldiers for my 54mm AWI project (of which more anon). Ken Cliffe, the proprietor (and good friend) urged me to try out this big scale a few years ago and I've been slowly crawling out of the mire of my 28mm collections into what Ken would surely characterize as the light and beauty of "toy" soldiers. I'm still working on my painting techniques for these bigger figures. My normal practices with 28mm figures often don't translate well onto the larger toys.

Indian Cavalry (conversions from Napoleonic French dragoons)

One of the more challenging, yet satisfying, aspects of working with plastics is the ability to convert. When I began this project several years ago, there were no Indian cavalry available in this scale. I had seen prints of this unit and thought it a cool addition to my British army. With Ken's help, I was able to find some suitable Napoleonic French dragoons to work with. I used heads from AiP's Indian infantry and with some creative use of tissue and putty, I was able to produce three passable figures. Of course, within months of the completion of these figures, AiP produced a boxed set of this very unit. Oh well, now I have limited edition unique figures for the Sudan campaigns.

Gatling Guns & British Naval Crew

These fantastic guns I found at Michigan Toy Soldiers for $5.00 USD each. Unfortunately, I needed sailors to man them and none were produced anywhere. This is where Ken stepped in again. Ken is a master converter and can see possibilities in the oddest figures. An American Civil War infantryman can easily become Napoleon in his fur coat in 1812, in Ken's eye at least!. These figures are superb conversions and if you're wondering whether this is a blatant commercial for Ken's products and services at All the King's Men Toy Soldiers....well, yes it is!

The dastardly Mahdists!

Painting Points

While tracking one's painting progress by assigning points to figures completed is nothing new, it was something that I've been contemplating for a while. I used to have a large white board hanging beside my painting desk with lists of units in the painting queue. I would cross out each as it was finished. This would give me a quick visual incentive for continuing work on different projects. Recently, I noticed a couple of threads on The Miniatures Page that referred to the point system. Thus was born my own tracking system.


28mm foot - 1 point
28mm horse/rider - 2 points
28mm artillery piece - 1 point
54mm foot - 1.5 points
54mm horse/rider - 3 points


15mm foot - 0.5 points
15mm vehicle - 3 points

These categories reflect only my own collections and ongoing projects but any other category is easily extrapolated. So for April 2009 (the first month I started to keep track), I managed 45 points. This included 8 x 28mm Napoleonic Spanish cavalry and 29 Carlist Wars foot figures. I think this is a fairly good start. For May, I originally predicted 59 points made up of a mixture of 28mm Napoleonics and 54mm AWI. Unfortunately, it looks as though that goal will have to be revised. Not through lack of time spent at my painting desk, I've been stuck on an 8 figure Napoleonic Spanish cavalry unit that was only finished two days ago. Not sure why because there's nothing particularly challenging about this unit and its uniforms. Oh well...maybe my estimate was too high to begin with. Updates to follow....

Visit to Grenadier Books

I was able this past weekend to visit Grenadier Books in Port Perry, Ontario. This was not my first visit to this great shop. In fact, I've spent many hundreds of dollars there in the past. I was able to pick a few goodies without having to re-mortgage the house.

The first is Napoleon's Shield and Guardian by Edward Ryan. I've only just jumped into this one but it looks to be quite good. I found an interesting review here.

What looks to be a good deal was The Reluctant King: Joseph Bonaparte, King of the Two Sicilies and Spain, by Michael Ross. I haven't cracked this one open yet but for $5.00 CAD I couldn't resist.
A visually exciting item I picked up is An Illustrated Encyclodedia of Uniforms from 1775-1783: The American Revolutionary War. At first (and second) scan, this book provides some great artwork and uniform descriptions for this conflict. This will help me greatly in picking units to paint for my budding 54mm AWI collection. But more of that anon!

Recently I have delved into a new project (I always try to keep my active projects to a minimum so as not to dilute my efforts but that never seems to work). This time my choice was motivated not by an interest in a particular period or gaming genre or by reading an interesting article or book but by a range of figures. This, I think, is a first for me. When I first saw the Perry Miniatures Carlist Wars range, I was hooked. I knew nothing about the conflict (and even now I'm really just a neophyte) beforehand but decided fairly quickly to "get into" this period/genre. I even hooked a friend into the project with me (the same apparently impressionable soul who agreed to the Theatre of War campaign play-test). Knowing little about the period, we ordered copies of The First Carlist War 1833-1840, A Military History and Uniform Guide, a new publication from the Perry brothers. The book was enough to confirm our choice to work on this rather esoteric period. From a general perspective, it could be described as Napoleonics with different uniforms. The weapons and tactics would be familiar to any Napoleonic gamer and the uniforms are just cool! I decided to work on the Cristinos (or Isabellinos...or the legitimate government forces, depending on your preference). With this army I get, besides the normal line troops, a substantial choice of guard units, some very nifty lancers and line cavalry in yellow uniforms (yes, yellow). Granted, my opponent gets infantry with some very sexy red bonnets (check the Perry site for some nice photos). I've managed in the last weeks to paint up a few units. The first is a Cristino line infantry unit. I've mounted the figures singly on round bases for use with Sharpe Practice from Too Fat Lardies. Our object is to have some small forces to play with these pseudo-skirmish rules. I decided to also add the unit movement base in case I decide to expand the collection and do larger battles (bases from Gale Force Nine). I also went the somewhat lazy route with the flag. I had several Napoleonic Spanish flags from GMB (avaialble from Triangle Miniatures) packed away. Since there were only very minor differences between the Napoleonic and Carlist Wars versions, I decided to mount the former until I can get a hold of some of the latter. GMB flags, I think, are some of the best on the market; the results are evident in the photos. The second unit finished are light infantry made up of the elite companies from regular line battalions. I had some issues with the dull-cote on this unit but I think the end result is still reasonable. Next up is an artillery battery. I'm really enjoying painting these figures. Partly this is because of the inherent beauty of the sculpts but also because I'm under no real pressure to produce. This is a side project compared to my others and such I'm doing it for the enjoyment factor. I'm also trying some new additions to my painting technique, specifically layering. Although I'm not up to the Foundry style of layering (far too time-consuming, I'm afraid), I have begun to try out a simple two-step layering technique. This will be more apparent when I upload some pics of the artillerists.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Theatre of War Campaign

Of late, I have begun the common (and ultimately futile) quest for the perfect set of horse and musket campaign rules. I've always liked the system from Piquet, Theatre of War, but it is designed as a two-player system. As such, it is one of the most entertaining systems I have encountered. It is not for the Piquet-uninitiated, however. A fairly solid grasp of Piquet concepts and mechanics is required (not to mention the main Piquet rule set) before one can even hope to get a grip on this system. I have long pondered how I could do two things with Theatre of War: 1) adapt it for multi-player gaming; and 2) adapt it for use with email correspondence. The first is not difficult to achieve but the second more so. The system is based (and relies completely) on card decks, as are all Piquet systems. This works well when gamers are face to face but is more difficult to manage when playing by email. To add another layer of potential complexity, I wanted to incorporate aspects of Field of Battle, another Piquet product. FoB shares much with classic Piquet but is a more streamlined version. For reviews of FoB, look here and here and here and....well, you get the gist of it.

Long story short, I began hammering out some versions of what I thought might work as hybrids of Field of Battle and Theatre of War. I even roped a good friend into testing one of these versions, playing the strategic moves via email and the tabletop battles in person. This is one thing I hope to document here.

First of all the rules: link

Next a map to use:
This map I lifted from an old Eckmuhl board-game from who-knows-where.

I wanted a quick play-test of the system, so the armies involved weren't of paramount importance. In the OBs listed here, you'll see a French army, led by the big guy himself, facing a combined Austrian and British force, commanded by Archduke Charles. I have no army sufficiently large to take on my French army so I needed to combine two of them. My first impulse was to combine my Prussians and Austrians but I have several new units in my British force that I wanted to see some action. Thus, the Austro-British army of 1809! Purists may now file out of the theatre slowly.

Next up, the opening moves!