Sunday, December 25, 2016

Auerstadt,1806 using Carnage and Glory 2

The Battle of Auerstadt

Gathering in beautiful Roanoke, Virginia for the last big game of the year, this past weekend turned out to be one of our most impressive and bloodiest fights to date. Doug Kline of Battlefield Terrain Concepts provided the terrain, figures, and German beer. Doug has been researching this landmark battle for over a year, while simultaneously gathering the entire orders of battle for both sides. He fielded approximately 75,000 troops at a 33:1 scale on some of the most magnificent terrain that we have ever had the pleasure of playing on. That's approximately 2,275 of finely painted figures folks ! As always, we used the Carnage and Glory 2 computer-moderated rules. The experience was tremendous; what a way to end the year.

The gang......ready to do battle !

The Scenario

After the victory against the Austrians and Russians in 1805,  the Emperor Napoleon and France were faced with a new coalition, with Prussia as the major belligerent. So setting its sights on the destruction of the Prussian army, the Grande Armee under Napoleon moved in a lightning strike against their totally unprepared enemy, who had advanced into Saxony. After a skirmish on October 9th at Schleiz, the day after saw Marshal Lannes' corps destroying a Prussian division under Prince Louis Ferdinand at Saalfield. The stage was set for the major battle against the main Prussian army that Napoleon was looking for.

On October 14th, 1806, the Emperor Napoleon led the bulk of the Grande Armee against what he assumed was the main Prussian army at Jena. It turned out to be only a contingent of the Prussians and they were duly crushed. Meanwhile, north of Jena in the vicinity of Auerstadt, Marshal Davout's lone corps tangled with the primary Prussian force under the Duke of Brunswick and von Schmettau. The Prussian King William was also present for the fight. Although outnumbered almost 2 to 1, Davout's  III Corps decisively defeated the Prussians in one of the most famous of all Napoleonic battles.

In the historical battle. Napoleon intended for Marshal Bernadotte to march with Davout, but either through miscommunication or outright insubordination, Bernadotte ended up marching between the battles and failing to take part in either Jena or Auerstadt.

The battlefield of Auerstadt was located in hilly terrain west of the Saale river. The central position was dominated by the village of Hassenhausen. The road to the town of Auerstadt continued on through the villages of Tauchwitz and Poppel.

Map of the battle

In the early morning of October 14th, Gudin's division was on the move in the fog at 4 am towards Hassenhausen. French chasseurs scouting ahead came into contact with Prussian cavalry at the village of Poppel around 7 am. The French cavalry fell back to Hassenhausen and Gudin deployed into squares. As the fog lifted , Gudin saw that his division faced up to ten squadrons of Prussian cavalry under Blucher on his flank. At this point, our tabletop battle began, as Gudin faced the rest of the advancing Prussian army.

Historically, Friant's infantry division of III Corps arrived to support Gudin's right flank, advancing in square formations to push Blucher's cavalry. The rest of the corps cavalry arrived and later in the day, Morand's division arrived on Gudin's left. The French not only held their ground against superior odds, but commenced to go on the attack. As Davout launched his assault, the Prussians melted. The battle was a disaster for the Prussians, as they lost approximately 15,000 troops while Davout lost approximately 6,850. The Prussians also lost the venerable Duke of Brunswick, as well as several other key officers.

Our scenario began with Gudin's French division deployed around Hassenhausen. Blucher's Prussian cavalry was deployed facing Gudin's right flank and von Schmettau's division was deployed and advancing from the vicinity of Poppel and Tauchwitz.

Various victory points were also designated for terrain features, which would help to determine the final victory resolution. The game was slated for 20 turns (we ended at 16 turns).

The Game

The game opened with General de Division Gudin's infantry division deployed around the village of Hassenhausen in the center of the table. Opposing the right flank of the French was a large force of cavalry under Blucher, located in front of Spielberg. Most of Gudin's battalions were formed in square formation on his right, while his left were held by 2 battalions of the 85th Ligne. In the distance, Prussian infantry and cavalry were advancing from the direction of Auerstadt in force.

Blucher's cavalry threaten Gudin's right as Prussian infantry and cavalry advance in the center

Gudin's left flank seemed very vulnerable

The first several turns saw Blucher's cavalry attempting to engage the French infantry squares (with little success - although 2 squadrons of the Bunting Kurassier did destroy a small French battery of two 4 pounders), with the Queen's Dragoons attempting to flow around the right flank of the French. This forced the French to activate his own light cavalry, the 1st Chasseurs a Cheval, to counter this move. The French cavalry threw the Prussians back. Prussian artillery began to punish the tightly packed French in squares while von Schmettau's division continued its advance onto the French center. On the French left, von Wartensleben's division rapidly advanced in maneuver columns towards the 85th Ligne. The cavalry advanced so rapidly that the 2 French battalions on the left flank had to double back in open order to a more secure position (one battalion of the 85th moving into the village of Hassenhausen, the other battalion attempting to take advantage of a sunken road for cover).

Gudin's division in the center

 von Schmettau's division on the move !

On Turn 3, General de Division Friant's force arrived on Gudin's right and immediately formed the 33rd Ligne to advance in squares, which pushed Blucher's cavalry away from the French right flank. In the center, French skirmishers put very disruptive fire on a Prussian battery that moved a bit too close for comfort. French light cavalry under General de Brigade Viallanes arrived with Friant's force but were diverted to the left flank to counter the rapidly advancing Prussian cavalry.

Nice shot of von Schmettau's infantry advancing

The 85th Ligne falls back in open order on the left flank

Gudin and von Schmettau are fully engaged in the center around Hassenhausen

French Chasseurs drive back Prussian Dragoons as the infantry in squares continue to take a pounding. Notice the regimental square formed by two battalions of the 25th and 21st Ligne

At this point in the battle, the Prussians engage and pound Gudin's division around Hassenhausen, while Prussian cavalry and artillery continue to build up on the French left. Cavalry then engage each other on the French left with neither side overcoming the other. With more Prussians arriving all over the field, the fatigue that is setting in on the French is starting to become a real concern.

Prussians and French infantry fight over Hassenhausen. This savage fight would continue throughout the entire game, with the French barely hanging onto the village

The fight over Hassenhausen was just starting, but would continue until the end of the battle. Although stretched to their limits and considerably bloodied, the French infantry would continue to hold out in this important victory objective. The next several turns would see more and more chaos on the French left, with Morand's division arriving on Turn 7 to bolster the fatigued French cavalry. More and more Prussian troops continued to arrive on the left flank and in front of Hassenhausen. On the French right and center, the Prince of Orange's division was advancing admirably. The beleaguered French infantry of Gudin's division were being stretched across the table; this fresh Prussian infantry was not a welcome sight (although the troops looked handsome marching in maneuver columns).

Chaos erupts on the French left !

Magnificent troops of the Prince of Orange's division march against the fatigued French

At this point, the battle turned into a slow grind, with the Prussians steadily wearing down their French opponents. With a Prussian battery wreaking havoc on Friant's infantry on the right flank, the French attempted to charge and eliminate it. Failing in the face of ferocious canister fire, the 2/33rd Ligne was then charged by Prussian cavalry and decimated. The battery had to withdraw due to fatigue, but the French had to reorganize their defense on this flank with one less battalion. In the center, the 2/1st Chasseurs charged Prussian infantry and overran it, but ended up isolating itself in front of multiple Prussian cavalry units. One after another, the French Chasseurs charged and countercharged Prussian cavalry and ended up winning 3 melees before finally succumbing to fatigue. Another lucky charge by the 1/21st Ligne overran 2 Prussian infantry battalions and an unlucky artillery battery that deployed at the last minute. But the grind continued and the Prussians were gaining ground inch by inch. As a matter of satisfaction for Marshal Davout, the 2/1st Chasseurs would end up winning honors by the end of the game.

Also, by this point, the Prussians had occupied two terrain points for Victory conditions, Hill 266 on the French left flank and Spielberg on the right. The French were holding their own on all fronts, but the possibility of an offensive move was looking more and more dim. The Prussians were winning this battle.

The 2/21st Ligne charging !

The Prussians continuing to advance on the French right -- the Lieb Karabiniers look especially striking

The Prince of Orange continues to advance on the French center and right flank

With the withdrawal of the exhausted 2/1st Chasseurs, Prussian cavalry advance against a French 12 pounder battery, with nasty results -- the battery held its ground......for now

At this point, Prussian infantry and French infantry were fully engaged in the center and both flanks. On the right, the Prussians succeeded in stepping up and blowing holes in the French ranks, with the French infantry obliging as well. Although the French were holding due to an overall morale superiority, the Prussian infantry was incredibly damaging (with fresh Prussians advancing in support). The French confidence was beginning to waver....

Prussian and French infantry trade murderous fire in the center and on the French right flank

Across the entire field, the action was total chaos. Both sides charged, countercharged, and traded vicious fire. This was some of the bloodiest fighting that we have ever simulated on the tabletop. By turn 16, we had gamed for over 18 hours over 2 days. At this point, with even more Prussian reinforcements arriving, the French were close to their breaking point. We called the game at that point, due to the impossibility of the French to mount a proper counterattack and recapture the important terrain features for victory point purposes.

More chaos in the center

....and more chaos on the French left

Panoramic view of the table at the end of battle

The game was one of the finest gaming experiences that we have ever had. Although Davout's III Corps was an incredible war machine with very high ratings, the continuous advance of a seemingly unstoppable flow of Prussians rendered it exhausted by the end of the game. Although 4 more turns remained in the formal game, it was obvious what the end result would be. When adding in the Victory points for the captured terrain features, the game ended as a Major Prussian victory, although the French admirably fought tooth and nail. Both sides played incredibly well, and it was a fitting end to an awesome weekend. Another outstanding battle using Carnage and Glory 2 was in the books !

Final casualties were 8964 men of all arms for the French, while the Prussians suffered 9537 men of all arms. This was 29% of the total French force but only 20% of the Prussians. The Prussians also controlled a majority of the available victory points for the terrain objectives.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

World War 2 Soviet

Starting off with the Eastern Front for my initial Chain Of Command forces, here is my Soviet rifle platoon in 28mm. I recently picked up a nice T-34 tank at Historicon to supplement the infantry.

The force consists of 3 rifle squads with attached LMG teams and squad leaders. A platoon leader and sniper are added in addition to the T-34. Total infantry figures in the platoon: 36.

World War 2 Wehrmacht

Being relatively new to World War Two, I opted for 28mm figures based for Chain Of Command, a skirmish level game published by Too Fat Lardies.

Below is an entire Wehrmacht rifle platoon:  3 Rifle squads with attached LMG teams and squad leaders. The force includes a panzerschreck unit, a platoon commander, and multiple extra figures in different poses. Total figures: 49.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Napoleonic Brunswick Troops

Duchy of Brunswick

The Duchy of Brunswick was ruled by Charles William Ferdinand until his death on the battlefield of Auerstadt in 1806. After the Jena campaign of 1806, Brunswick was absorbed into the newly formed Kingdom of Westphalia and, essentially, ceased to exist. Charles' son, Frederick William, assumed the title of ruler and offered his small division of troops as an ally of Austria in the 1809 campaign. Incensed with a strong hatred of Napoleon and the French, Frederick William was determined to fight Napoleon at any cost. After the Austrian capitulation following the Battle of  Znaim, Frederick William marched north to meet British ships in order to evacuate Germany. After a small battle at Olper on August 1st, 1809, in which the Brunswick troops effectively fought a much larger force of Westphalian conscripts to a draw, Frederick William successfully marched to meet the British after the Westphalians withdrew.

Until 1815, the Brunswick troops came to be known as "the black Brunswickers" and honorably fought with Wellington's troops in the Peninsular campaign in Spain.

During the 1815 campaign, Frederick William commanded a full division of Brunswick troops at Quatre Bras, but sadly met his end on that fateful field. The "black Brunswickers" continued to fight at Waterloo and proved to be a reliable ally to the British on that day.

All of my Napoleonic figures can be used for both General de Brigade and Carnage and Glory 2. I enjoy both systems for different reasons so I have deviated from the very specific basing that General de Brigade calls for, and opted for a generic style of basing.

Brunswick Artillery

Brunswick Hussars and Uhlans

Brunswick Jagers

Brunswick 1st Brigade of Infantry

Brunswick 2nd Brigade of Infantry

Brunswick commanders

Friday, November 18, 2016

Search For The Holy Grail - The Best Napoleonic Rules, Part 6

Search For The Holy Grail - The Best Napoleonic Rules, Part 6

Shako 2

I am probably jumping into the lion's den with this one. Shako 2 (as well as the original version) is one of the most popular Napoleonic rules sets in the world. I have dabbled in the past with these rules, but never grew interested enough in them to pursue them on a deeper level. I have had several requests for a review of Shako 2, so I decided to finally spend a couple of weeks learning the rules and playtesting them thoroughly. Although I am not an expert with these rules, I did dive pretty deep and feel confident that I now have at least a basic understanding.

I found that there are many admirable, if not brilliant, concepts contained in the rulebook. I also found that there were also some characteristics of the rules that were a bit too abstract for me and detracted from my own gameplay experience. Now I know that Shako 2 has hundreds, if not thousands, of devoted players who claim that it truly provides the finest Napoleonic gaming experience available.  It is definitely a solid set of rules and it works for many, many gamers.  I also found that it works best as a grand-tactical Napoleonic game rather than a smaller, tactical game. 

I'd like to first describe the rules and its mechanisms. At the end of the review, I will summarize the specific things I liked and did not like about Shako 2.

Shako 2 can be used for large or small games on the tabletop


According to the rulebook, there is no specific figure scale. Each battalion of infantry, regiment of cavalry, or battery consists of an approximate "average-sized" Napoleonic unit. For example, a battalion of infantry on the tabletop is considered to have a numerical strength of between 400-800 troops. Larger units, such as Austrian line infantry units containing 1,000 or more soldiers, are covered (they can absorb an extra "hit"). Interestingly, smaller units are not included; the inference is to combine smaller units into an average-sized battalion. The time scale is considered to be 20-30 minutes per turn. As for ground scale, although I scoured the rules, I could not find any reference to number of yards per inch.

Base sizes are not critically important, although several methods of basing units are portrayed.

One of the first things that I look for in a set of rules is the section on game scales. I found it a bit frustrating (and interesting at the same time) to see such abstraction in this area. Of course, this could be my own obsessive-compulsive fondness for details and shouldn't be taken too awful seriously.

Units are then organized into "divisions," which can be 4-12 units strong. It's interesting that these "divisions" can range from brigades, actual divisions, or even small corps. Again, for a detail-minded fanatic like myself, I prefer a logical regiment-brigade-division-corps command structure. The "divisions" in Shako 2 allow gamers to generically create commands for convenience of play. The "army commander" can be either a division commander, corps commander, or true army commander, depending on the scope of the game.

Unit Ratings

Unit ratings are grouped into morale classes with each class containing an MR/DisMR rating. The MR (morale rating) is used when conducting melee, rallies from "stagger" or "fall-back" situations, and when conducting special maneuvers such as hasty formation changes. The DisMR (disordered morale rating) is used when conducting melee at a disadvantage (such as being attacked on the flank). The infantry morale classes range from "guard" to "unreliable." Cavalry morale classes are based on heavy, line, or light cavalry types, but also include "second rate" and "unreliable." Artillery is classified as heavy, foot, or horse guns.

The MR ratings also reflect the number of casualties that a unit may absorb before being dispersed and picked up from the table. For example, a regular line infantry battalion with a 4 MR can take 4 hits either due to fire or melee before disappearing off of the table. Large units may take an extra "hit," although its morale rating remains the same for other calculations. All artillery batteries can only absorb 3 hits total and are then removed from the table.

When rallying or conducting special maneuvers (ex. hasty square), a six-sided die is rolled. If the die roll is equal to or less than the unit's MR, than the rally maneuver attempt is deemed successful. Charge distance modifiers are added to this roll.

It is important to note that a unit's initial MR does not change even when taking "hits."  For example, a light cavalry unit with an initial MR of 4/1 that has taken 2 "hits" still has a morale rating of 4 for purposes of rallying, melee, or special maneuvers.

Specific game concepts

Tactically, action with the enemy revolves around a unit's frontal zone, which is a 6" zone that extends from the unit's flank lines outward. If two opposing units are in one of the other's frontal zone, than the units are considered to be "in contact." This is important not only for "divisional" orders, but also formation changes as well.  This concept is similar to the pinning zone in DBA and other similar games.

The concept of "stagger" is also important. This is intended to demonstrate a temporary state of disruption and can be caused by skirmish fire, or musketry/artillery fire.  Typically, a unit that is "staggered" gains a negative modifier to almost anything that it does. During the rally phase, if a unit is outside of an enemy's frontal zone, than a "stagger" can be rallied off.

Turn Sequence

This is pretty straight-forward.

1. Artillery Fire or Evade
2. Initiative / Movement phase
    a. Conduct support charges for allowed units
3. Musketry phase
    a. Skirmish fire first
    b. Volley fire
4. Melee
    a. After melee resolution, conduct breakthroughs, recalls, and countercharges
5. Command phase
     a. Change orders and send ADC's
     b. Rally and reform units
     c. Rally divisions
     d. Check division morale
     e. Check scenario victory conditions

Walking through the turn sequence, I didn't have any issues with it. It was a simple and logical process to conduct a game turn.

Artillery Fire or Evade

Artillery fire is conducted via 3 range bands: Cannister, Effective, and Long. It does allow a gamer, by using the pullback method, to fire ball shot even at close ranges in order to maximize bouncethrough fire onto tightly packed divisions. Counter batter is also represented on the artillery fire table.

I found it interesting that artillery batteries could also "evade" from the front line instead of firing. When I began conducting melees I quickly found out why: artillery batteries are pretty fragile when charged by formed infantry or cavalry (a last ditch canister volley is included though, to be fair).  Therefore, knowing when to evade with artillery batteries is definitely an important part of tactical decision-making in Shako 2.

Initiative / Movement

Instead of a card-driven method of moving "divisions" or a strict "UGO-IGO" process, Shako 2 uses a six-sided die roll for each division to identify what formations move first. All divisions that rolled a "6" move simultaneously, after that divisions that rolled a "5" move,  and so on.  So, opposing players may be moving divisions on opposite sides of the table at the same time. If directly opposing divisions roll the same initiative number, the division on attack orders moves first.

Movement is very straight-forward, with each type of unit moving a maximum distance per turn. No surprises here. There is no charge movement bonus. Charging units are simply moved into contact with an enemy unit. There are terrain effects upon movment and wheeling a unit costs double (skirmishers excepted--they move much more freely).

At the end of regular movement, units that moved 1/2 or less of its movement allowance are able to conduct "support charges," which basically allow a player to exploit situations or to counter enemy maneuvers during the regular movement phase.


Skirmishers are fired first. I found that skirmish stands in Shako 2 seem to perform in a historically accurate way. They are not overly powerful, but they are irritating to the enemy and have to be dealt with. Besides the ingrained skirmishers that form a chain for each "division," entire infantry battalions may break down into 2 skirmish stands instead of remaining formed.

Musketry occurs next and affects all enemy units in its frontal zone (only if there are gaps; a formed unit does block pass-through fire if a unit is directly behind it). There is no oblique fire.....just straight ahead. Musketry tends to be very bloody and decisive in Shako 2. A typical infantry battalion that can only absorb 4 "hits" will only last for so long when trading volleys with an enemy unit.


Melee is also very straight forward.  Basically, one compares the MR's (or disordered MR if it applies) of opposing units, add or subtract any tactical modifiers, and then throw one six-sided die. The difference in points determines the number of "hits" and the winner/loser. The loser then falls back "staggered" a particular distance. Typically, if an infantry unit out of square loses to cavalry, it is considered dispersed. Ditto for an artillery unit that loses any melee.

Cavalry breakthrough charges, recalls for cavalry, and countercharges are all covered within the rules. It's nice that, although cavalry has the potential for powerful results, its endurance is covered within the mechanisms of Shako 2.

Command Phase

The command phase is the section of the turn that brings it all together. Order changes, unit rallies, and divisional morale checks are conducted.

Order changes are conducted through the movement of ADC's from the Army commander. To replicate command and staff efficiency, army commanders of each nationality may differ on the number of ADC's available each turn. A die roll to see if the ADC was killed or only moved halfway is conducted during this turn. Certain nationalities with only one ADC (1805 Russians and Austrians are but 2 examples) can find the activation of reserves or changing of other orders frustrating. Conversely, the French typically have up to 4 ADC's per turn available and can afford to send multiple ADC's to a division to ensure delivery of orders. This system is one of the most effective, yet incredibly simple, command and control gaming mechanisms that I have seen. Ingenious.

As far as unit rallies go, this process can prove devastatingly decisive. If a unit previously lost a melee and fell back, it must be rallied. If it fails just one rally attempt, it is considered dispersed and picked up from the table. This phase is incredibly important and can make or break the game. I'm used to units in more tactical games continue falling back until actually off the table before dispersing. In Shako 2, the author does not play around; a unit either reforms or it is gone.

Divisional morale checks based on dispersed units also occur, which is a strong point of the rules. Too many rules do not contain higher formation morale checks. I was very happy to see that it is contained in Shako 2.

Personal Likes and Dislikes

As with any rules system, I found many areas of Shako 2 that I felt were very solid. And with most rules systems, there are a few things that I had a hard time wrapping my head around. Here are my personal observations:

I particularly admired the following:

1. The divisional orders/changing orders system is simple, yet highly effective. Divisions on Defend basically hold in a designated area tied to a geographic feature. Divisions on Attack must advance until at least one formed unit comes into "contact" with the enemy (within a unit's frontal zone). Divisions on Reserve are held motionless until activated. As for changing a division's orders, the use of ADC's as a measure of staff efficiency or national tactical philosophy (Linear vs Napoleonic in some systems) is excellent.

2. The modifiers for melee and firing make sense. I never found myself shaking my head trying to figure out what the author was thinking.

3. I feel that the support modifiers replicate the tactical differences between Linear and Napoleonic philosophies nicely. In order to receive positive modifiers for flank or rear support during melee, it literally forces a player to fight with his army as it historically fought.

4. I liked the fact that an attack path has to be planned in advance and drawn onto a map of the table. This allows for an oblique approach or a feint in a specific direction, yet has to be pre-planned by the division commander.

5. Using the artillery "pull-back" method accurately creates a historically accurate "beaten zone."

6. The rules for "hasty squares" and "hasty lines" within an enemy unit's frontal zone seem absolutely "right" to me.

7. The critical concept of Divisional morale is included.

I struggled with the following concepts:

1. There does not seem to be any emphasis on a particular ground scale. Musketry and artillery ranges seemed accurate at first sight, but did not seem to match up with unit movement. I felt that units moved too little during what was supposed to be a 20-30 minute turn. Add in the factor of "no particular figure scale," and it all felt a bit too vague and abstract for my taste.

2. Initiative seemed gamey. Although I liked the fact of rolling a six sided die for random movement for divisions, there was no concept of "momentum" on the gaming table that systems like Carnage and Glory 2 excel in. Also, divisions that rolled "6's" were not always at an advantage by moving first.

3. Artillery seemed too fragile when charged, especially when compared to musketry. Units charging a battery did not receive defensive fire; the battery used their MR in melee to replicate a last-ditch canister fire. When a unit charged infantry, they not only had to endure a defensive volley, but were halted before contact if this defensive volley caused a "stagger." 

4. There were no "passage-of-line" rules for interpenetration.

5. Melee seemed too luck-based for my personal taste. Although the melee modifiers made sense, the addition of just one six-sided die could cause extreme results. But, in fairness, this "luck factor" is what pulls many gamers into the fold.

In summary, I found Shako 2 to be a well-researched rules system that works well on the tabletop, especially for grand-tactical scenarios. Although there is an admirable  amount of detail within certain aspects of the game, the ambiguity of figure scale, ground scale, and unit size seemed much too generic and fuzzy to me.

I rated Shako 2 in the area of playability a 6.5 out of 10. For historical accuracy, I also rated Shako 2 a 6.5 out of 10. My total rating is therefore 6.5 out of 10, a very solid set of rules that continues to be very popular worldwide.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Battle of Olper, August 1st, 1809

The Battle of Olper, August 1st, 1809

Brunswick infantry

In the mood for a small pick-up game of Carnage and Glory 2, I was flipping through one of my scenario books from the General de Brigade system and found an interesting action which called for less than 10,000 actual troops on the table. Luckily, I just recently started to collect a Westphalian army.  This was a perfect small scenario to set up in the garage.

Black Brunswickers ready for the advance !

Westphalian conscripts form lines against advancing Brunswick columns

The Scenario

This action featured a mixed division of Westphalian infantry and cavalry against a smaller Brunswick force that was attempting to break out from the large town of Braunschweigen. It was a classic battle between a larger, yet inexperienced, force against a much smaller, but veteran in quality, formation. Total Westphalian troops numbered slightly over 5,000 while the smaller Brunswick force numbered about 2,800.

Due to the defeat of the Prussians at Jena and Auerstadt, the Duchy of Brunswick was declared null and void by the Emperor Napoleon, who ceded its territory to the new Kingdom of Westphalia. Frederick William, the son of Duke Charles William Ferdinand (mortally wounded during the Jena campaign) resisted Napoleon's decree and organized a small force of 2,000 troops and then promptly offered their service to the Austrians in the great war of 1809. Following Austria's defeat at Wagram and ultimate surrender, the new Duke of Brunswick attempted to march through northern Germany in order to sail his troops to England and continue the struggle against Napoleon. Having captured the towns of Halberstadt and Braunschweigen, a Westphalian division marched to block Frederick William's advance to the coast and the waiting British fleet. To make matters worse, Dutch troops from the direction of Halberstadt were also marching to catch the Brunswick force in a pincer move. Frederick William decided to attack the Westphalians in the direction of the village of Olper and force his way to the coast.

The Brunswick force deployed on the outskirts of Braunschweigen, with the cavalry supporting the left flank. Opposite this position, the Westphalians under General Reubell deployed on the heights overlooking the town of Olper, with the Berg infantry protecting the village. The Westphalian cuirassiers protected the Westphalian right flank next to a large section of wooded terrain.

The Historical Battle

Although the Black Brunswickers initially occupied Olper, they then abandoned it to the Westphalians. The Brunswick troops then aggressively attacked the white-coated Westphalians on the heights. The Westphalian conscripts held firm and the spirited (but small in number) Brunswick troops had to withdraw. The battle was technically a tactical draw, but Reubell's Westphalians strangely abandoned the field during the night. Casualties were very light with only 100-200 casualties on each side. The following morning saw the Brunswick force march to meet the British ships and embark for England. Although General Reubell halfheartedly pursued the Brunswick troops, he was unable to keep the Brunswickers from escaping. Napoleon sacked Reubell for his failure but the General safely escaped to America.

As a postscript, the Black Brunswickers accompanied Wellington's troops in the Peninsular campaign in Spain for years afterward and were also heavily engaged during the Waterloo campaign.

The Game

I wanted to use Carnage and Glory 2 in order to demonstrate the system's ability to handle smaller actions as well as larger battles. The terrain, courtesy of Doug Kline's Battlefield Terrain Concepts, was set up on a 6' x 5' table. Although I had more than enough Brunswick troops to put on the table, I had to use French carabiniers in place of the Westphalian cuirassiers (I'm sure true grognards will notice this from the pictures, so I wanted to be honest about that up front).

Having deployed all of the troops, I noticed that the Westphalian troops in the vicinity of Olper had nice defensive terrain, so I endeavored to avoid this sector and focus on the Westphalian troops in the open.

Initial deployment on the table. Brunwick troops are on the bottom and the Westphalians are deployed in the vicinity of Olper

As the Brunswick force advanced to engage the Westphalians, the Westphalian cuirassiers moved up quickly to anchor Reubell's right flank. The Brunswick hussars then engaged the cuirassiers in a multi-unit charge. 

Westphalian cuirassiers versus Brunswick Hussars

In direct contradiction of my plan, I found the town of Olper was a magnet for a couple of my Brunswick battalions. I found myself totally sucked in to this position and heavy casualties began to mount in the firefights in this sector.

Olper proved to be an irresistible objective and heavy casualties were suffered here

Meanwhile, although the Brunswick Hussars were victorious against the opposing cuirassiers (conscript cuirassiers mind you) the fatigue was already starting to set in among the cavalry. A battery of Brunswick horse guns unlimbered in front of the white coats and were beginning to pummel the Westphalian conscripts. A couple of Westphalian units on the right flank formed square in order to keep the victorious Brunswick cavalry at bay, and suffered even more casualties from the Brunswick guns for their trouble. Meanwhile, a small unit of Brunswick uhlans was searching for a target in the center. 

Artillery on both sides open up

As the cavalry were attempting to creep around the Westphalian right, the main fight continued to erupt around the town of Olper, with the Brunswick troops actually getting the worse of it due to the Berg infantry's superior defensive position. In the center, the Westphalian conscripts began to waver due to the rising casualties from the Brunswick guns, but were replaced by the second line of infantry in order to continue the fight. On the Westphalian right, fatigue really set in among the cavalry and the Brunswick hussars found themselves restricted in their pursuit of the defeated Westphalian cuirassiers (who at this time were beginning to rally and rejoin the fight).

By turn 6, the infantry around the village of Olper were beginning to waver (on both sides). Most units in this sector received "halt in disorder" markers. In the center, the Westphalian numerical advantage was beginning to make a difference, as the supporting second line of infantry began to take its place in the front line, while the Brunswick horse battery was beginning to fatigue noticeably.

Units around the village of Olper begin to waver

The Westphalian infantry, although restricted in movement, began to boldly advance in the center and right flank to put fire onto the Brunswick cavalry. The uhlans and hussars accordingly maneuvered out of musketry range. The use of Westphalian infantry in squares on the flank effectively blocked any Brunswick cavalry thrust in this sector.

The Westphalian conscripts hold their ground and even advance boldly in the center

On turn 8, the move of the game occurred. The Brunswick horse battery, considerably fatigued, in the center failed to notice a Westphalian infantry battalion that had slowly maneuvered onto its flank. When the Westphalians charged, the battery was caught in place. In the ensuing melee, the battery was completely lost and the conscript infantry victorious !  With the right flank secure, the center actually advancing, and the Brunswickers fleeing in front of Olper, the battle was essentially over.

Westphalian infantry charge into and capture the lone Brunswick artillery battery

The Westphalians held their ground against a veteran and highly motivated enemy. The Brunswick troops would retreat back into Braunschweigen in order to regroup for another attack. Total casualties were about 250 Westphalians and 540 Brunswickers (including the only Brunswick artillery battery).

This was yet another example of Carnage and Glory 2's flexibility and "elegance" for any size battle. The battle for Olper provided a break from the typical "French vs Allies" scenario and provided a highly entertaining game as well. German versus German........interesting.

Here is the complete order of battle:

Division Reubell - Attack
  [ 101] Generalmajor Reubell - Active C+ [800 paces]
    Brigade Scharnner - Attack
    [ 102] Generalmajor Scharnner - Active C+ [400 paces]
 [ 101] 1/1st Westphalian Line            0/ 587      C- [sk-]    
 [ 102] 2/1st Westphalian Line            0/ 580      D+ [sk-]    
 [ 103] 3/1st Westphalian Line            0/ 606      D+ [sk-]    
 [ 104] 1/6th Westphalian Line            0/ 497      C- [sk-]    
 [ 105] 2/6th Westphalian Line            0/ 481      D+ [sk-]    
 [ 106] 3/6th Westphalian Line            0/ 500      D+ [sk-]    
    Brigade Wickenberg - Attack
    [ 103] Oberst Wickenberg - Active C+ [400 paces]
 [ 109] 1/3rd Berg Line                   0/ 594      C- [sk-]    
 [ 110] 2/3rd Berg Line                   0/ 627      C- [sk-]    
 [ 111] 1/1st Westphalian Foot Battery    0/ 200 [ 8] C-          
    Regiment Schwimmer - Attack
    [ 104] Oberst Schwimmer - Active C+ [200 paces]
 [ 107] 1/1st Westphalian Cuirassiers     0/ 178      C-          
 [ 108] 2/1st Westphalian Cuirassiers     0/ 186      C-          
       0/  4472 Bayonets
       0/   364 Sabres
       0/   200 Artillerists
       0/     8 Cannon
       0/  5036 Total of all arms
              4 Colors present

Division Wilhelm, The Duke of Brunswick - Attack
  [ 501] Generalleutnant Wilhelm, The Duke of Brunswick - Active B [875 paces]
    Brigade Burnmeist - Attack
    [ 502] Generalmajor Burnmeist - Active B- [400 paces]
 [ 501] 1st Brunswick Inf.                0/ 640      C  [sk-]    
 [ 502] 2nd Brunswick Inf.                0/ 669      C  [sk-]    
 [ 503] 3rd Brunswick Inf.                0/ 666      C  [sk-]    
 [ 504] 1st Brunswick Jagers              0/ 247      C+ [sk+]    
    Brigade Runkel - Attack
    [ 503] Generalmajor Runkel - Active B- [400 paces]
 [ 505] 1/1st Brunswick Hussars           0/ 187      C  [sk+]    
 [ 506] 2/1st Brunswick Hussars           0/ 183      C  [sk+]    
 [ 507] 1/1st Brunswick Uhlans            0/ 120      C  [sk+]    
 [ 508] 1/1st Brunswick Horse Battery     0/ 150 [ 6] C           
       0/  2222 Bayonets
       0/   490 Sabres
       0/   150 Artillerists
       0/     6 Cannon
       0/  2862 Total of all arms
              4 Colors present

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Search For The Holy Grail - The Best Napoleonic Rules, Part 5

A new rules system was recently released and, after reading some preliminary reviews, I quickly purchased a copy from Caliver Books. The beautifully-produced Over The Hills by Adrian McWalter and Quinton Dalton arrived shortly at my doorstep and I was immediately impressed.

I was itching to get the rules onto the table-top.

Over The Hills

First off, my initial impression was that the book is very professionally-produced and very nicely illustrated and photographed. After reading through the rules several times, I came away with the feeling that the authors wrote a solid set of rules that have been "inspired" by concepts contained in the many Napoleonic rules that preceded them. Now, that is not a bad thing in my opinion. Being a self-proclaimed rules junkie, I have slaved over my own house rules for about 20 years and have not been successful incorporating my own ideas with excellent gaming concepts from other rules systems. I think that the authors have succeeded in producing a very effective set of rules that play very smoothly.


The book begins with a multi-page background to the Napoleonic Wars (geared to the novice gamer in the period) and quickly moves to a discussion of the primary concepts of the rules. Troop types, unit ratings, basing, scale, command and control, and unit formations are all discussed in great detail. The turn sequence and basic rules are discussed, giving the gamer an excellent introduction into the flow and basic mechanisms of the system. At this point, one has all of the information to play out a game. The basic rules, in my opinion, would fit very nicely in a convention setting.....easy to learn, flows smoothly, plays quickly with a nice amount of period flavor. But, for the jaded gamer like myself who yearns for more grit and detail, the book adds the optional rules section after the basic rules.  This is where the basic concepts are fleshed out and adds an admirable amount of historical realism. The book concludes with several appendices, including a discussion of scale, the War of 1812, and historical deployments. The QRF, located at the very rear of the book, consists of 2 pages.

Basic Concepts

The question of scale is probably the first thing that I look at in a rules system. In Over The Hills, the number of figures per base is not important. The dimensions of a base are most important when it comes to ground scale and there are detailed recommendations contained within. The rules are intended for 25-28mm figures, but any size figures may be used and recommendations are included about ground scale when using smaller figures. An interesting concept of the rules is that any figure scale can be used, including 1:20, 1:30, 1:60, etc. The size of the base is most important; the number of figures on each base are really up to the individual gamer. For example, my 15mm figures are based at 1:30, therefore using the movement and fire distances contained in the rules, the ground scale ends up at approximately 35 yards to the inch. The time scale is not immediately evident, but in the author's appendix concerning scale, it is intended to be about 10 minutes per turn.

Tabletop units are portrayed as infantry battalions, cavalry regiments, and artillery batteries. Unit ratings are based on Elan (inspiration) and Grade (training). These ratings are combined with the actual number of combatants to yield a Fatigue score. The Fatigue score is the basic rating for each unit throughout the game. Although, I'm not personally a fan of unit ratings boiled down to 1 overall number, it does work and the game definitely revolves around the concept of the Fatigue score. It reminds me of the unit strength points rating in Sam Mustafa's rules or even that of March Attack (although MA also has a training rating that is used for discipline/morale tests). This Fatigue score is intended to be an all-encompassing rating that takes into account actual fatigue, casualties, and psychological wear and tear. The unit Fatigue score is affected by musketry/artillery casualties, melee, and movement through rough/broken terrain. Once a unit's Fatigue score reaches zero, the unit is removed from the table (although there are optional rules for units with low Fatigue scores -- routing and wavering units). What is interesting is that commanders can attempt to rally each turn to "add back" Fatigue points, which is useful in pushing a unit through woods or moving further than the basic movement allowance.

Command and Control

In the basic game, the command span for a brigade-sized formation is all-important. If a unit is outside this command span, movement or charges are unauthorized and Fatigue points may not be rallied. Commanders, depending on their rating, can attempt to rally Fatigue points for a certain number of units. In the optional rules, there is a section that discusses brigade and division orders and actions. The concept is actually very simple and effective.

The Turn Sequence

Side A and B are decided upon at the outset of a game. This is a concept that I'm not too keen on, as momentum may shift throughout the game; I am a proponent of an initiative roll at the start of each turn based on the current situation. A house rule can easily remedy this for those inclined. Once the order of movement is decided upon, the turn sequence is as follows:

1. Side A moves
2. Side A attempts to rally fatigue points
3. Side B conducts defensive fire
4. Side A conducts melee
5. Side B fires all remaining units
Steps 6-10   reverse sides and repeat steps 1-5

As one can see, the turn sequence allows for the non-phasing side to watch for defensive fire opportunities so it is not a strict UGO-IGO turn sequence.


Movement, for 25-28mm figures, is based on increments of 6 inches (for the 15mm figures that I own, simply modify down to centimeters). Depending on the type of formation or troop type (cavalry moves faster, for example), the number of increments that a unit may move varies. One concept that I truly like is the ability to move/push a unit an increment further, but accepting a Fatigue point penalty. Keeping in mind that commanders may attempt to rally Fatigue points (depending on unit's proximity to the enemy), this adds a nice tactical option.

Formation changes, depending again on the specific change, cost an amount of movement increments to perform.

Fire and Combat

Fire is based on Short range or Long range and utilizes the unit's current Fatigue rating and then rolled on the appropriate table. Using the basic rules, depending on the roll, a range of 0-3 Fatigue point casualties are inflicted. There is an optional rule that allows British infantry in 2-rank line to inflict up to 4 casualties.

Another concept that I really like is how skirmishers are handled. Each unit has a skirmisher score and when trading fire, the scores are compared. The difference between skirmish scores determine positive or negative modifiers on the fire chart. Typically, a unit with a higher skirmish score will have positive modifiers when firing at long range, while a unit with a lower score will suffer negatively at short range. Simple, yet's also a very subtle way of simulating skirmish effects without getting too low "into the weeds."  Some gamers prefer a separate skirmish phase, but I really like this concept that is ingrained into the overall fire phase. Fans of Lasalle or Napoleon At War will recognize this system.

Artillery fire is similar with canister and bouncethrough (optional rule) fully integrated in the mechanics.

Melee is conducted similarly and may last up to 3 rounds. Casualties are rolled on the Fire chart (with separate close combat modifiers) and then compared between opposing units. If a unit does not retreat or break before 3 rounds of combat, it is considered a draw and both units are retreated after the 3rd round.  Again, simple yet effective.

Cavalry combat, emergency squares, unit reactions when charged, evading, and more concepts are all contained and explained within the basic rules.

Optional Rules

Although the basic rules do give a good game, the details and flavor of Napoleonic tactics are fully explored in the optional rules. Incorporating some, all, or none of the optional rules is totally up to each player.

Without going into excruciating detail on all of the optional rules present, some examples include brigade and division orders, ammunition, the use of howitzers, more detailed skirmish rules, national characteristics and special rules, and even weather effects.

I found the optional rules very interesting and enjoyable to read through.


I put together a couple of tabletop games and put the rules through its paces. I found Over The Hills to be effective, very smooth-flowing, and easy to understand. I did utilize most of the optional rules (because I'm a detail-addict) in my games and they added a nice bit of flavor to the proceedings. I'm still not a fan of the all-encompassing Fatigue score concept of each unit's effectiveness, but I understand the concept and what the authors were attempting to accomplish. With that said, the games worked well and were enjoyable.

I think that these rules are especially useful for the introduction of new Napoleonic gamers to the period. These rules are very straight-forward, fun, and will not scare away any "newbies." With that said, the optional rules do add a very nice amount of grit, even for those grognards out there like me.

Thoroughly enjoyable and well-produced, my rating for Over The Hills is an 8 for playability and a 7 for historical realism, for a very solid overall score of 7.5.

Ironically, this is the same overall score as Black Powder (I had to look back at my previous review after I wrote this). I think the 2 rules systems give a similar playing experience, although both systems approach Napoleonic gaming in a different way.