Saturday, 23 July 2016

Leutzen 1813

Today we had a gathering of wargaming friends and collectively put on a 15mm Napoleonic battle using Commit the Garde rules. Brent hosted the event in his top notch living room. Zak brought some troops and his excellent terrain. We all brought food and snacks for a potluck lunch on a nice summer day. Ross bore gifts in the form of loans from his library. I made off the a beautifully illustrated book on warfare 1618-1648, to further inspire me to expand my ECW collection, I also borrowed 2 books on the American Civil War.

Brent and Ross commanded the Russian/ Prussian Alliance and Zak and Jonathan commanded the French. I did my best to referee and played a few cavalry units for the Allies.This battle was a meeting engagement with the bulk of both armies waiting to come on as reinforcements. The French deployed first but were in possession of all for victory condition hexes. The Allies moved first and were able to bring on reinforcements quickly to force the French to give ground. The French struggled to bring in reinforcements as Ney was in command waiting for Napoleon to show up. Allies had a few troubles with Czar Alexander taking command and stalling the flow of reinforcements. You can see from the pictures that the game kept the players engaged and 5 hours of play flew by. The Allies managed to capture three of the four victory hexes and drove the French across the stream. The French were reinforcing a counterattack on their right when the game ended. Commit the Garde ends on a random army morale roll. Casualties and the loss of three victory locations caused Napoleon to call off the attack and cut his losses. 

My newly painted and refurbished Prussians saw there first battle and acquitted themselves well. My new lancers routed 2 infantry brigades late in the game.

Next game planned is for next weekend to play SS Amerika. This is a hex and counter game for the imaginary invasion of North America by Germany and Japan in WW2.

Ross also volunteered to put on a game with the group using his excellent homebrew rules and figure collection! We talked about the new expansions for Command and Colors: Napoleonics which include rules for epic sized battles. That made it my wish list for a future game

All in all an excellent day spent in fine company.

Four towns in the middle of the map are the victory objectives

Allied Commanders plotting

French Commanders

Potluck Lunch Spread!

Overhead shot from the loft

The game gets intense

End game

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Commit the Garde Rules Review

Commit the Garde are rules for grand tactical Napoleonic wargaming written by Gavin Tovrea. I found them on Wargame Vault at The are only available by pdf as far as I know and sell for the princely sum of $10.  The rules are 26 pages and you get a scenario builder and army lists that run another 20 pages. There are 2 scenarios included for Valmy and Corunna. There is a growing catalog of scenarios being published by Mr. Tovrea, also available on Wargame Vault at about $3 a piece.

Quatre Bras

Rules summary


The game is scaled for large battles. The scenarios are designed to fit on 6'x4' tables using 4" hexes. Each hex = 500 yards. The units are brigade level with each unit being represented by a number of stands. I use 4 infantry on a 20mmx25mm base and 2 cavalry on a 25mmx25mm base. Units are 3 to 6 bases in size. As the game is played on hexes, it allows any basing system to be used. Generals are Corp or Wing Commanders depending on the size of the scenario. The writer recommends only one general per player in the game. Turn length is random but averages 30 minutes per side. The game is played with 6 sided dice.

The excellent Corunna scenario I have played 4 times


Each unit has a morale rating of 3 to 7. This number is used to test morale and also to determine combat ability in assaults. Units can also have characteristics assigned to them such as Light, Elite or Militia that alter their abilities. The large scale of the game means you must be adjacent to an enemy to fire at them. There are some carefully thought out rules for skirmishing that work very well, even at this scale. 

High Ground scenario

The game is played IGO-UGO with a interrupts for  cavalry interception and forming emergency square. Each unit in the side is activated individually by rolling an activation die. This will yield 1,2 or 3 actions depending on how well you roll. Actions include move, assault, support, fire and rally. These actions can be performed in any order. A unit must complete all it's actions before the next unit is activated. A unit can fire multiple times but fire effectiveness declines due to smoke. This creates lots of choice and flexibility for each unit and makes it a challenge to coordinate an army's action because you will not know how your next unit will perform. Movement and range is determined in hexes so there is no measuring or guessing distances.

Waterloo on 200th Anniversary

These rules treat command in a very unique way. There are two levels of command. The army HQ has no effect on combat or army motivation. It's two purposes are to stay alive and to commit reserve troops to the battle. Many of the scenarios have the majority of troops not placed on the table. The army HQ rolls at the start of the turn to commit reserves based on their command rating. Command ratings are between 2 and 6. If the roll is equal to or less than the Army HQ's command rating a reserve unit placed and the commander can roll again at an accumulative -1. If a roll is missed, a unit still arrives but is disordered and there can be no more rolls until next turn. Reserve rolls are modified by distance from the Army HQ. There is also an option to bring in reserves on a flank. 

Homebrew Scenario

The second level of command are Leaders. These are your front line commanders and they have the ability to motivate troops and to act and fight harder. Leaders have a command rating of 1 to 5. A leader can give an extra action to an adjacent unit for each point of command rating. Thus, a unit benefiting from a leader will get an extra action during their turn. An attached leader can help a unit rally and fight as well. Leaders are vulnerable and these rules have a high level of leader casualties. There are no rules for command radius or unit cohesion so units are free to roam the table as they are able. 

The game ends on a random die roll modified by casualties accumulated, leaders lost and objectives hexes lost.


I have played these rules on at least 15 occasions. One of the great things about Commit the Garde is it is a game that can be played to a true conclusion in a single gaming session (4 or 5 hours). The mechanics are simple enough that new players can get into the action quickly. The game does not demand a lot of space to play historically large battles. It works very well for multiplayer games. It provides fog of war on several levels. Tactically, units get a variable number of actions every turn so that the players must evolve their plans as the turn goes along. Important decisions are made in which units to activate first. Strategically, the reserve system creates fog of war as the general is not sure where the enemy is for sure. The reserve deployment rules allow for placing reinforcements in unexpected places. The use of hexes makes movement and combat quick and simple. The list of modifiers is not overwhelming and they can be adjusted to players tastes if needed.

On the down side, I feel that something is lost playing on a hex map. I like to strive for the "model railroad" look in my games. Forcing terrain to conform to hexagons detracts from this. For a grand tactical game, there does not seem to be enough representation of command structure. Units can go where they like with no reflection of maintaining a chain of command/ communication. The original game had some things in it that did not feel right for the period but there has been a revision to the rules to address some of these concerns. It should be said that I have never tried a ruleset (and I have played many) that did not have elements that did not feel right, to my vision of a Napoleonic battle. The unique reserve system can be a two edged sword. I played a game of Aspern Essling and lost Archduke Charles early in the game with half the Austrian army still off board. The lesson learned was security for the Army HQ is a priority.

My attempt at the Model Railroad look

I should note that the author is active on the Yahoo group that supports these rules and he or other players have been prompt in answering rules questions when they are posted.

Overall, I think Commit the Garde is a top ranking set of rules. I have been able to play many intense and enjoyable games with them. They are full of clever and elegant game mechanics and most of all, I can play a battle to conclusion in an afternoon.


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Blucher Arrives

I completed my Prussians from Essex. I also found a pack of Prussian Uhlans from Minifig in my lead pile and painted them up just for good measure. I modeled the Uhlans after some of the lancers in the original army. I undercoat in white and did not give the figures a wash so the colors are brighter than the originals.

Blucher Army Command stand

Original models on the left

12 new troopers from Minifig

22 new command stands

One original infantry added to 3 new command figures. Color matching was hit and miss but will look fine from 3 feet away. It was a fun project and a nice departure from my usual mass recruitment painting slog. I made no effort to match flags to historical unit types but rather picked ones I liked or matched the uniforms.


Monday, 11 July 2016

Assault on Rogan

 I was very happy to knock the dust off my WW2 collection yesterday and play a game with them. As noted in a previous post, the scenario was Assault on Rogan in which the German army was attempting to bypass and encircle a Soviet force. The town of Rogan and it's vital crossroad was needed to carry on with the encirclement. The town was held by 2 rifle companies and 1 smg company supported by mortars and a few precious 45mm anti tank guns. In reserve was a platoon of T34 tanks.

AT gun line on the hill

The Germans were attacking with the elite SS troops. They had 2 recce platoon of PZIIs, 2 platoons of PzIIIs, 1 platoon of PzIVGs and 3 platoons of Panzer Grenadiers in trucks.

The Germans had to capture the objective in Rogan behind the Soviet trench line by turn 6. We used Flames of War rules with 15mm figures by BattleFront and Old Glory. Phil and Martin commanded the Germans while Zak, Brent and myself commanded the Russians.

3rd SS PzGrenadiers arrive by truck and occupy the woods in front of the Soviet trench line

PzIIs run out of luck on the German Right

The Germans advanced fairly aggressively and attempted to turn the flank of the weakly defended Soviet right. Recognizing that the only anti tank assets were a line of AT guns on the hill, much fire was placed on the hill where they sat. By turn 3 the Soviets had lost 4 of their 6 AT guns and the lead platoon holding the trench was badly reduced. Luckily, the Soviet reinforcements of 7 T34s arrived at the first opportunity (nice roll Zak!)

Turn 2 German Advance

Turn 4 the Germans mad the big push to capture the Soviet trench line and assaulted with most of their tanks and the remnants of 3rd infantry platoon. The tanks pushed through along the roads through the trench lines. The Soviets were forced to fall back and try to rally the remaining forces of Red Company but did manage to force on attacking tank platoon to fall back and captured a bailed out tank. 


The German's had broken through in strength on the Soviet right, But wait! The last AT gun on the hill passed its morale and opened up on the side armor of the victorious PzIIIs. 3 hits and the two lead tanks went up in smoke, blocking the road for following tanks. The T34s bailed out another PzIII, effectively stalling the breakthrough.

No animals were hurt in the making of this game

At this point we determined that the German's had no chance of getting through the remaining sea of infantry t capture the objective. We played another round to practice the assault rules (3 of the 5 players had never played FoW before).

A solid Soviet victory using the victory conditions provided. If we had a straight up fight, the result would have been closing due to the German's not being obliged to run into the Soviet guns.

The three new players liked the speed with which the game played but felt it is missing opportunity fire rules. There was some discussion about getting Bolt Action rules and playing using 15mm figures and terrain.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Time for a Fresh Project

I have been enjoying the gaming side of the hobby of late, the siren call of collecting and painting has been tugging at my brain and got me pondering new projects. Some periods of interest include Dark Ages, ECW, Crusades and Late Medieval/ War of the Roses. I could also do some smaller projects by expanding my existing collections. Some ideas for this are bulking up my German WW2 armor collection including lots of half tracks and adding 60-100 Greek Hoplites to allow more options to fight First Punic War battles or add to my Macedonian/Successor armies.

I have the nucleus of a Dark Age army I have always wanted to expand on. 26 Norman Knights and 8 crossbowmen I traded for back in the day. The Normans fought in many theatres including the Crusades, Sicily, Spain (El Cid),France and Britain. If I fleshed them out, I could get a Saracen army army to oppose them for Crusade battles or El Cid type battles. I have always wanted an Arab/Turkish army.

For me, collecting and painting is often inspired by rules. I usually build armies to fit an army list for my favorite . Our group has been playing Sword & Spear and Command & Colors Ancients. Basing for these games would also work for Impetus.

ECW is strong contender. I have 400 models of 28mm Royalists from Old Glory. They are nice figures and sport some of my best painting. I got them as part of a group project but the group has since disbanded. Now I need another army for the Royalists to fight against. Ideally, I can find a rule set that will allow me to building a second army using some of the figures from the first army. There is a new set out called Baroque from the makers of Impetus. Pike and Shotte units will need 18 figures and Cavalry units will need 9 figures. I could make two armies with my current collection plus 50 Cavalry and 30 Shotte figures. Not too big a commitment for painting. I would need to rebase my current collection which would be a big job as well.

Commanded Shot




Another period to consider is late Medieval and War of the Roses. I love the look of barded knights with livery and flags, close ordered archers in livery and spearmen in support. This would be a start from scratch project and would require a lot of figures. I could build them for Sword and Spear and this would reduce the figure count. Fireforge and Perry make very nice figures in plastic and I suspect I would break with tradition of metal and go with these fine models. 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

WAB's demise

I used to play Warhammer Ancients Battles. I loved these rules. They were very flexible for different scenarios, large or small. They had excellent flavor for each army and interesting army lists to tinker with. They also supported and encouraged me to build very large armies. Here are some shots of WAB battles with the old group.

LARGE Battles


Good for multiplayer games

Flank Attack

However, I started playing with a new group and wanted to encourage playing the Ancient period. The learning curve was a little too steep and I was a little too competitive with this set. When introducing a new period to new players and potential friends, it is best not to crush them on the battle field. Instead, I chose new rules so we were learning them together and this leveled the playing field. I started with Command & Colors Ancients. This game provided challenging games in a short time period. The rules were simple enough that a new player could find success in their first games and also accommodated multiplayer games. I took my singly based figures and remounted them on 2x4" bits of foamcore to be able to play.

Rebasing in progress on foamcore

A new player joined the group and with him came a new rule set called Sword & Spear. He started a collection of Republican Romans in 20mm. I had some 20mm Gauls left over from a previous experiment with Warmaster Ancients, so I agreed to expand them to provide and opponent for him.

20mm expansion in progress

This set used the same basing as C&C:A but hexes were traded for a tape measure and armies and scenarios were home made rather than proscribed. I have played 5 or 6 games with this set and found them to be enjoyable. They are a step up in complexity and give a realistic feel to what I imagine an ancients battle should look like. Not as good as WAB but at least I am getting to play!

C&C in 28mm

I found Sword and Spear rules on Wargames Vault for $10 CAD. The army lists are extensive and free. They combine the game mechanics from other rule systems. For example, dice are used to determine unit activation in a similar method used in Bolt Action. Each unit has 2 stats Discipline and Combat and may have unit special equipment or abilities like pikes or steadfast. This is similar to Ganesha games core rules where Quality/Discipline determines whether a unit can be activated or not  Combat determines combat ability and special rules flavor the units. 

The combat system is somewhat unique and works well. The armies have a smaller figure count which will allow me to expand into other periods for less cost and painting effort. I like the effect of large bases. They make movement simpler and have a aesthetic appeal.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Game Preparations

I have been making preparations for a Flames of War game I am hosting next week. We are having a 4 player game using a scenario from the Flames of War website based on the 3rd battle of Kharkov. I am using my new game cloth. I added some spray paint to it to break up the look and darken the olive green color. The results were adequate I think

I cut some hills from my soft foam and added them underneath the cloth. I added some blue tack around the hills to help hold the cloth in place. I am supplying the Russians and Phil is bringing the Germans. The Russians infantry are holding the line against an expected armored attack.

Below is a shot of my home made trenchworks. Cardstock base, styrofoam trenches topped with DAS clay to make the sandbags. I made them many years ago for 1st Edition FoW. I am glad to dust them off and try them on the table. I am trying out having hills under the cloth and you can see the effect below. I think it gives a more believable look to the table.

These building I finished painting for the game. They are from a 1/72 kit. The lids are removable to allow troops to occupy them. The farm animals are made of rubber and came pre painted from the local toy store. They scale up pretty well with the 15mm stuff