Tuesday, May 30, 2017

General d'Armee

We had a quick change of plans for our game last Saturday. I had planned on running a Black Powder Napoleonic game based off the Battle of Barrosa in 1811. But one of our gamers received a pdf version of Dave Browns new General d'Armee rules, so we decided to give them a try instead.

French to the left, British to the right with the Barrosa Tower off in the distance.

I have very high hopes for this ruleset; while I do have fun playing Black Powder, the games are lacking in period flavour. Our BP games just end up being fun games with miniatures instead of a fun Napoleonic game.

There was going to be four of us playing, so I divided the forces into five brigades for the French and four brigades for the British. This as it turns out is what a single person per side could easily run. I also believe this is going to be the main "negative" feature for me of the rule set, more on that later though.

BG Dilkes Guard brigade advances up the Barrosa heights to engage Ruffin's infantry division.
As this was a first play through of the rules, and a hasty one at that, we made numerous errors. Most were "fixed" in game, though I did find several other mistakes made after I re-read the rules the next day. Not an issue for me as I never get upset about mistakes in any game, especially one in which we are learning the rules.

French infantry from Leval's division advances upon the British lines.
In the opening moves of the battle the French occupied Barrosa Hill with most of Ruffin's division, while Leval's division cautiously advanced on the British "grand" battery. Just so, as Wheatley's skirmish line broke from the woods and started firing on the flank of the French columns. This forced several of the battalions to turn and face the skirmishers, though the bulk of the division advanced upon the rest of the Wheatley's infantry as it deployed from the woods ... supposedly under the cover of Major Duncans artillery guns. That was the plan, its just that Duncan's artillery brigade was consistently hesitant and provided no support!

This allowed the 1/54th Ligne in column to rapidly charge Colonel Barnard’s flank battalion, overwhelming and routing them. They fled back to behind several companies of the Coldstream Guard that just exited the woods. With poor command rolls on both sides, the rest of the battle for these troops became stymied and mostly limited to sporadic musketry.

The French battalions from Ruffin's division moved down the hill at the small guard battalions moving up the hill. They met in the middle and proceeded to volley and charge back and forth with neither side gaining an advantage.

While this was taking place French Dragoons had swept around Barrosa Hill and were looking to the turn the British flank, just as Colonel Whittingham cavalry and spanish infantry finally showed up along the coast road. The British Hussars fared well and drove back the dragoons, though the spanish cavalry not so much.

Both sides were starting to have more and more brigades falter, so we called it a day ... after five hours of gaming! Ok at least half that time was spent looking up rules or waiting on customers :) Overall it seemed that we all had a good time and are already looking at running another game.

So what did I think of the rules? Did it meet my expectations?

I did like the rules, and for the most part they met my expectations for a Napoleonic rule set. Even after just one playthrough I am feeling like they will replace BP as our go to rule set for Napoleonics.

They are fiddly, which I like, but suspect many people won't like them because of the tables/charts or the all the little variations on outcomes.

My main problem with the rules and ironically one of the interesting features of it, is the ADC command system. It is fun rolling for availability and tasking out the ADC's, I think most people will want to participate in it and as we get more familiar with the rules and stages of games, we will get more nuanced with when and what Tasking's we use.

But we play with 28mm figures where each player generally only has a couple of brigades ... thats two ADC's, so just one or two per turn. I suspect that having four or five brigades for each person will give enough ADC's to fully utilize the system. We'll see how it goes as we play more games, perhaps will just have one person per side roll ADC's and them hand them out.

The only other part of the rules that annoyed me was the obvious British bias in the rules, those however are very easy to take out. As an example, the mains rules state "Counter-charges by Infantry are not permitted. Exception: if defending British Infantry...". I don't mind the rule it self, but that it seems that only British infantry figured out how to counter charge :) I will just change it to read Veteran and Elite infantry instead of British. And of course there is a 60th/95th special rule ... which I will change to elite light companies and so on ...

I really liked the charging/melee sequence, though it does take some getting used to and you will need to use the charts most of the time ... which I do believe many people will not like. But I missed the rolling to charge/stand sequence that BP does not have and suspect charging will be used less than in BP.

We of course will have to play more games to confirm, but it seems that volley fire is much more effective than charging to disperse enemy units. Unlike BP, where you almost always charge right away, in GdA I get the feeling it is best to move up and engage in several turns of volley fire before charging.

Overall I am quite pleased with the rules and am already figuring out how to track hits, ADC's and other markers for the game.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Unfinished Terrain (part 2)

I finished the two remaining terrain pieces today ... well I still have to decide if i should put more flock on the raised road, and then spray on a protective layer.

First up was the raised road, which was pretty easy, and mostly entailed a lot of dry brushing! This is what it looked like last week:

I then proceeded to put a colored layered of Mod Podge on it, that had some sand thrown in it for my base layer. Upon this layer I added more small rocks and dirt. I then used a darker brown to overpaint the road lines, followed by a heavy drybrush of a sand color over the two sections.

Once that dried, I started flocking both sections with my usual green mix, along with some clump foliage. This turned out to be too green, so used the same sandy color to drybrush over sections of the grass to lighten them up.

28mm M3 Halftrack that I use for my Russian forces.

The 28mm Tiger I barely fits on top of the road.

The Pz VI as it climbs over the elevated road section.
On one of the sections I added a culvert. I used some spare side walk pieces for the culvert and painted in some water.  I still need to give it a "wet" look and cover most of it up with foliage to call it done though. While the road sections could be used for 28mm miniatures, I think it is much better scaled for 15mm figures.
A couple of Hell Cat's overwatching both sides of the road.

The culvert is a little to blue right now, but once it is "wet" I'll add more foliage to it.

The last piece I had was the peasant building. I really did not do to much to it, just added some spackling to the walls, painted the inside and outside of the structure. Then I textured and flocked the base. The roof really needs to be redone and I should add windows and a door to it, but doubt I'll ever do that as is it is playable as is.

As you can see the roof does not fit.

My Saxon warrior leaving empty handed from the peasant hovel.

"Lets go ... not even worth burning down!"

That's all the unfinished terrain in the shop ... were going to be starting up a Frostgrave campaign at the store in a few weeks and perhaps I'll motivate myself to create up some new stone works for the campaign.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Unfinished Terrain

So I have been in a major painting slump for a couple of months now ... a lot of it has to do with the issue that I don't really have any interesting painting projects on the table. But there is also the issue of lighting in that after I moved my painting table the lighting is not very good anymore.

To help get out of the slump I thought I go about finishing off a several terrain pieces that a customer had left behind after he moved out of the state. Of the four pieces, I have already finished two last week and think I'll get the other two done this week.

First up was a Cave Entrance / Rock Formation. It was made up from a bunch of scrap material and I think he intended it to be used in Frostgrave games. What you don't see is what I spent the most time working on, which was cutting and tearing the straight flat sections and trying to eliminate the seam lines between the five layers of foam. It also help that I did not fully protect the piece, so when I spray primed it, the chemicals ate away at the foam giving it a very irregular look.

I did not like how the stone path turned out, I almost tore them off ... still thinking about it :)

What went on in this inner cave?
I tore out most of the top and expanded the left "inner cave" so as to better fit a figure. Basically the same with the center alcove. On the back of the 'cave' where the tunnel came out, I cut the grade down as much as I could, so that miniatures can be placed on the slope without tumbling down. I also kept several flat ledges so that a player may put a miniature or two on them.
Our hero has a height advantage against any foes attacking him.

The intrepid Hero passes through the very, very short dark tunnel :)

Half way point as he climbs to the top of the rock formation.

Next up was a piece for I believe SAGA. At first I think it was just going to be large flat stone piece, but then changed to an old "natural" house. I again did not fully protect the foam and got this very irregular stone work. I have just added some putty and stones to the top and base.
Must be winter all the grass is dead...

Hope the roof doesn't collapse.

I painted the door and added flocking to it. Used a basic green, but then though it was a to uniformed "cut", so added a blend of larger pieces of flock to all surface areas ... this made it a little too green, so then watered down some glue and went over it again with some dried static grass. The mess came out pretty good.

"None Shall Enter!!!"

So that leaves the Raised Road and Peasant House to do this week. The raised road (I think it was going to be a raised railway section at one point) is in 2 two feet sections, so just fits across one of our 4' x 6' tables. I am going to test out using Modge Podge to seal the terrain, I'll add black paint to it so won't need to spray primer it either.

This peasant house was done very quickly and needs more work on it than I really want to put into it. I will most likely just spackle the outside walls and ground; then a quick paint job on it. For the roof I'll glue it down better but not sure I can "fix" it to look like layers of straw at this point.

I'll post an update on both of the above pieces next week (part two).