sábado, 2 de abril de 2016

Bavaria 1809 Campaign with Berthier software (I)

In another "twist" in my always eternal "to begin" Bavaria napoleonic campaign of 1809, I decided to try the software Berthier to manage campaigns. 


I had already tried before, but I think it was very difficult to manage the campaign for its size and number of units. On the basis of my latest map with Excel in the area, I have divided into a grid with squares of 12x12 km, which has given me a final grid of 25x18 cells (300x216 km) from Ulm to Pilsen and Nuremberg to Munich. Instead of a offset squares grid a regular squares grid:

Bavaria map with MS Excel


In my previous attempts with Berthier I had made smaller cells to define the roads and the Danube River and its tributaries. This time I chose to simplify the map making, and define the types of colores cells bades in areas as:

GREEN = Forests
GREEN LIGHT = Forests with rivers
Y = Cities
BROWN = Mountains
LIGHT YELLOW = Open land

The same area ready for Berthier system. Some symbols based on Malcom McCallum maps.

The map with MS Excel, with numbered cells and overlayed with some icon maps from Malcom McCallum maps, I already discussed in the blog. Translated to Berthier software (not finished):

And the final version from Berthier:


French OOB
The order of battle is large because between both sides counted more than 300,000 men, so summing up I only include the OOB French army. The French army consisted of five Army Corps:

- II Corps, in command of GdD Oudinot.
- III Corps, in command of MdE Davout, the most numerous.
- IV Corps, in command of MdE Masséna.
- VII Corps, in command of MdE Lefebvre, mostly Bavarians.
- VIII Corps, in command of GdD Vandamme.


- 1st Heavy Cavalry Division, in command of GdD Nansouty
- Rhinebund Division, in command of GdD Rouyer

totaling about 170.000 men.

The Austrian Army consisted of eight Army Corps:

- I Armeekorps, in command of GdK Graf Bellegarde
- II Armeekorps, in command of FZM Graf Kolowrat
- III Armeekorps, in command of FML Hohenzollern
- IV Armeekorps, in command of FML von Rosenberg
- V Armeekorps in command of FML Archduke Ludwig
- VI Armeekorps in command of FML von Hiller
- I Reserve Korps in command of GdK Liechtenstein
- II Reserve Korps in command of GdK FML Kienmayer

totaling about 150.000 men.

Transferred to the Berthier system we have only the five corps as individual units plus Napoleon HQ (only from 16 april) and two division units of Nansouty and Rouyer.

There are four types of units: infantry, cavalry, mixed (infantry and cavalry) and the HQ.
The initial positions are still not defined because depend on the calendar, the recognition distances based on the scale (more distance for cavalry and minus for infantry and mixed units), and the strenght of units divided by 1000.

To be continued in Part II

domingo, 28 de febrero de 2016

Unpainted Risk figures for wargaming. Final solution?

The initial intention to play with the rules of Pas de Manoeuvre! was to reproduce the units with Risk figures, since I saw a website with this option.

I started painting a few figures (some Austrian units and French chasseurs à cheval) and the final result was not bad, but the problem is that I have 3.000 figures! to paint, and I do not intend to spend the next 2 years painting figures at 1:144 (more or less) scale!.

Then in the BGG I found a member, Jim O'Neill, who had used the Risk figures to play the game Maurice, but painting the bases and figures only with two or three colors:

Jim O'Neill's good final scene.

Due to lack of time ... and attitude to paint all that amount of small figures, I saw that Mr. O'Neill option was the most likely, if I wanted my wargame proposal not to dilate in time. So I classified all the figures by their color:

 and started to basing the figures with with a sort of papier mache for kids craftwork:


There are basically 3 sizes for bases: 35x20 mm for infantry, cavalry,  wagons
and C-in-C, 20x20 mm for commanders and 25x25 mm for artillery. The
thickness of bases is about 3 mm.

I show you some examples with yellow, red and blue figures: bases with 8 standing figures are Guards or elite units, bases with 8 kneeling figures are line infantry units, while bases with 4 kneeling figures are light infantry or skirmishers

For cavalry, bases with three horses are light cavalry and units with four horses, heavy cavalry. I'm testing also with lancers, with three horses per bases. The artillery have 2 cannon figures per base representing a battery of 8-6 real cannons.


Commanders, wagons and some lancers.

The final part was varnishing the bases with varnish for children craftwork, because we didn't need a varnish of high quality for dozens and dozens of papier mache bases.


 I think the advantages of this method are more numerous than the disadvantages:

- Considering the bicolor blocks of kriegspiel are represented, it is the most similar method with figures.

- The figures are more easily distinguished at distance.

- We can mix various colors according to uniform figures (approximately, of course) on one army. (Ex: The green uniforms of the 95th Rifles with the British red uniforms of line units).

- Fast gluing and varnishing of bases. Without painting the figures, in a week and a half we have almost three armies equivalent to 50,000 troops each one (depending on the scale).

The biggest disadvantage is obviously that uniforms in many cases (helmets and shakos) do not correspond and uniforms are not painted in real detail, but as we refocused the game as a sort of kriegspiel wargame, in the end it wasn't  a bad result. Besides also the old cliche of spending more time painting figures than playing, and whenever I see people producing great battles, for many figures they have, always ends the situation painting and repainting more figures!

domingo, 21 de febrero de 2016

Tableboard for Pas de Manoeuvre wargames...one more step beyond!

As "One step beyond" lyrics from "Madness" pop group said, I decided to go a step further and transform my tableboard (http://pdeman.blogspot.com.es/search/label/Do-it-yourself) for my Pas de la manoeuvre! rules and turn it into a sort of "kriegspiel" table with wooden MDF squares of 10x10x0,12cm (4"x4"x0,05") of different heights, adding the terrain elevation factor.

To keep each square into position and avoid "dancing pieces" in motion by some random stroke I bought a bag of plastic crosspieces of 1mm wide attached to the board with Ceys glue.

Plastic crosspiece for ceramic floors and walls.

The final result: squares of 10cm (4") , and the previous version of 6cm (2,36") black squares.

To gain time (as Napoleon style) with the work of placement and marking of wooden blocks, I made a cardboard template, marking the center and half of each side, with a permanent blue pen.

To simulate the contours of the terrain, I bought MDF wooden boards of 0,03cm (0,01"), which kept giving different ways.

Cutting the pieces.

lunes, 18 de enero de 2016

Pas de manoeuvre! - Thoughts and Changes, more thoughts and changes.

Some thoughts on the subject...


The initial square grid scale equivalent of real size was 200 m. I am pondering the option to increase it to 400-500 m per square, which allows to cover, a scale, a larger playing terrain (Austerlitz, Borodino, etc. ) and simplifies the movement options, style Command & Colors (1, 2 or 3 squares depending on the unit). 
The time scale is 30' but I'm also thinking of changing it to 20' to better fit the movement by turn and number of impacts on units by dice roll, but it is an issue that dont't worries me as much as the distances of the squares.


The "Easy Napoleonic Rules", by Don Lowry, gives a generic number of Strenght Points (SP) by unit. You divide the total real strenght of the unit by the number on the grid, based on the type and quality of the unit. I have divided the numbers by 2 for my rules.


The question of the map grid is crucial because it defines the game itself. On the various possible systems I've finally decided to discard the hexagon and system areas. This might seem a contradiction by the many examples we have in wargaming with hexagonal grid, but not just convinced me applied to miniatures of the Napoleonic era.
There are two strong arguments in favor of the hexagon: one is the constant distance between their areas (which facilitates movement and range of weapons), and two, that seems to be better suited to the irregular terrain maps. The first argument is true, but the hexagon supports only 6 possible directions of movement when the square supports 8 directions. I'm talking only about directions, not distances. It is the eternal theme of displacement and shooting diagonally on square grids, but I'll talk about them another day. As for the terrain, I think it is a purely an aesthetic issue and there are many examples of games that also integrate very well the terrain with square or rectangula grids.
Besides the fighting linear system of the napoleonic epoch, I did not just see miniatures in hexagons. Yes it is true that there are many examples, but always in a North-South direction: I have not seen many examples when the attacker is on the left and right and also changes its own orientation with the hexagon tile. 
The final decision is if you choose squares or offset rectangles/squares. Finally I opted for the orthogonal squares, although I really like the offset squares and actually I'm trying to apply them for my operational module of Pas de Manoeuvre !.  
- If I do terrain modules, it is less laborious with orthogonal square than offset square tiles. Just an opinion.
- It is better integrated into my offset-square  system operational module.
The movement and ranges on the four cardinal axes are guaranteed.

Offset squares and orthogonal squares


This is what is creating more headaches by far for me by my uncertainty. I want a miniatures wargame system , but also that can be used with a physical board with counters or a Vassal version.

Change after change, finally I found the website from A League of Ordinary Gamers, 

with a version similar to Napoleon's Battles counters (7) from the BGG website, and I think that finally the search is over. I hope so! 


jueves, 3 de diciembre de 2015

Pas de Manoeuvre rules testing - The map

Finally I am finishing my wargame rules for two players "Pas de Manoeuvre!" (solo mode will have to wait).

In order to test it I have chosen the known platform for virtual boardgames Roll20,  designed primarily for Role Playing Games, but it's ok for my idea to develop a wargame in the distance at real time. I show you the final game board design with the Battle of Quatre Bras scenario and offset squares cells to regulate the movements and shooting. The basis for the map drawing was MSExcel from Microsoft, and the building images top-down from Battle Chronicler.

Napoleon's Triumph style map that I always liked.

The units I have taken from the excellent web of Junior General, Papalazaru's wonderful counters, to which I returned after trying other design ideas of counters. Being top-down view, I think the connection is guaranteed with wargame miniatures world that have always in mind for these rules.

miércoles, 14 de octubre de 2015

Penalizing units towards your objective?

In the long search for examples of rules to adapt to my own System, Pas de Manoeuvre!, I always try to consider computer games of the eighties and nineties that, despite its primary aspect, have in most cases a level of realism in the development of its rules that we not found in many games today.

One of the most original ideas I've found these years is the BATTLES OF NAPOLEON by Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) in 1989-91.

In rulebook, Point 5.0, it contemplated the use of intermediate objectives at division level and penalty units if these deviated from the target, more or less it penalizes the unit or units that are "away" from the target point.


"Because of the sheer size of battles in the Napoleonic age, high level commanders generally gave fairly vague instructions to their subordinates, who in turn gave more detailed instructions to their subordinates, and so on. In this game, however, you will be able to play the parts of both the high level commanders and their subordinates. You will give objectives to your Division leaders which will tell them generally where you want them. This is what the Objective Phase is all about, and represents the orders given by the Army commander to the Corps or Division commanders saying such things as, “Move your Division to that hill over there and wait for further instructions.”
A unit’s objective is in direction 3 on a standard movement compass*. If the unit was to move in directions 2, 3, or 4, there would be no movement penalties. However, if the unit moved in either direction 1 or direction 5, there would be a one movement point penalty for moving in that direction. If the unit was to move in direction 8 or 6, there would be a 2 point movement penalty. There is a 3 point movement penalty for moving in a direction opposite to that of your objective. Note that this penalty is per square entered. Units within 5 squares of their objective square my move in any direction without penalty.

In our case possible movement penalties are given by the cell color and orientation and they add to the cost of MP for each cell by type of terrain:

- Green cells: 0 MP (Movement Point)
- Orange cells: -1 MP
- Brown cells: -2 MP
- Red cell: -3 MP
- Grey cell: Unit location

The direction towards the objective/target, case A, 0 degrees, and case B, 45 degrees.

A "half-wheel" of positions of a blue unit oriented to target. In an hypothetical
movement towards the target, green cells don't have any penalties.

For example, if a infantry unit has a 8 MP any game turn, and plain cells have 1 MP of movement cost, what means 8 cells of total movement or distance in the turn, if it withdraws in a opposite direction without changing previously the target cell, only can move a total of 2 cells. 
Another example: if a heavy cavalry unit  has a 12 MP any game turn, and plain cells have 1 MP of movement cost, what means 12 cells of total movement or distance in the turn, if it turns 90º to the left without changing previously the target cell, only can move a total of 6 cells.

A template example:

Obviously, the computer automatically records the coordinates of each target and units, so that the calculation is immediate, but I think that could be adapted to the game with miniatures, especially with not very big battles. In any case, it's an idea that I intend to polish these days...

(*) movement compass by rulebook, but the designation of each coordinate can be varied according to the needs of each one.

domingo, 13 de septiembre de 2015

Tableboard for Pas de Manoeuvre wargames

With the remains of a box for a shower plate that someone left on the street near my home, I made a support for a dark green slate board, 120 cm x 70 cm (47,24 in x 27,56 in), to draw a square grid of 6x6 cm (2,36 in x 2,36 in). The previus design with MSExcel was for a square grid of 8x8 cm (3,14in x 3,14 in).

The wooden shower box plate.

A side view of the rudimentary box

The dark green slate is glued with wood glue to the surface of the box. Various books of some loss-house encyclopedia transform their cultural destination in constructive destination. 

Crosses of 2 cm (0,78 in).


The final size dimensions are 21 x 12 square grid, for a scale of 200 meters/square, a total of 4,2 km x 2,4 km, a relatively comfortable scale for a small Napoleonic battle.

At the end, painting the sides with green colour and varnished wood molding finishing the board. The next and final logical problem is the storage. I bought 4 small rubber wheels, to keep the board "on foot" and be able to move the surface from one place to another.

Big failure!. The weight of the molding table and the little surface base surface makes the joint totally unstable, so you have to add a little weight in the base so that the table does not tilt dangerously.