Sunday, 24 February 2019

Reinforcements for Peter the Great's Army

When I started this GNW project, my intent was just to make a small company of soldiers, suitable for skirmish games using The Pikeman's Lament.  That was all, no great ambitions to build another great army.  Well, as the Bard saith, "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley".  And so, miniature megalomania has struck again and the army has mysteriously grown.

Our intent now is to try Black Powder for the GNW.  Units will be 12 infantry, 6 cavalry or one gun or general model.  As the units will be smaller than the intent of the rule writers, we're planning to cut all movement distances and ranges by half.

Here is the army in its current form (and note that I still have some more units on the painting table!).

That's 6 line infantry, 2 grenadier regiments, 4 dragoons and 4 guns with 12 crew, plus 4 officers/generals.

These are the new grenadiers.  I assembled them using a combination of bits from the Warlord Games plastics, including bits from the WSS artillerymen, cavalry and infantry frames, with heads from Ebor Miniatures (so that they have the same mitre style as my Repnin's Grenadiers that I recruited earlier).  The two grenadiers with muskets in the front left are metal figures from Ebor.  The idea here is to have grenadiers actually using grenades, not just line infantry with funny hats!

Although I based them in pairs and singles for ease of skirmish gaming, I've blue-tacked them to 40x40mm square bases to make it easier to move them in a BP game.  I really should paint the edges of those bases, though!

Here are Repnin's Grenadiers with the same base treatment.

I like the grenadiers to look ready to assault the enemy!  A GNW-specific rule we'll use for BP will allow grenadiers to ignore one level of cover, to encourage their use in taking out dug-in enemies.

As I used up my plastic artillerymen building grenadiers, that meant I was short of gunners.  These men have stepped up to fill in the ranks.  Ebor artillerymen.

Just for fun, some side-by-side comparisons of equivalent poses from Ebor and Warlord Games.

I've also recruited more dragoons.  These are from Warfare Miniatures (aka League of Augsberg).  I've painted them as Moscow Dragoons, because I had a fit of temporary insanity and decided that I wanted to paint white coats.  (Normally, I hate painting white uniforms...)

A contribution from my friend Doug, these are nominally the Semenovski Guards, although they have a fairly generic pair of flags.  One of the pleasures of painting this army is that there were many different coat colours used! 

 And finally, the commander in chief Tsar Peter Mikhailovitch with some brigade commanders.  The Tsar is from Reiver Miniatures, the white wig officers from Ebor and the skinny chap on the left is Wargames Factory/Warlord Games plastic.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

What a Tanker dashboards

At the last Trumpeter meeting at Bonsor, I tried out What A Tanker, the latest bit of fun from Too Fat Lardies, thanks Craig for hosting!  The game is great fun, fast playing with lots of decisions for the player to try.  When I got home, I logged on the interwebs and bought a copy of the PDF (and was fortunate to find that the Lardies were having a sale!).

One thing that Craig had commented on was a slight dissatisfaction with the dashboards.  Using tokens on the boards can be a bit risky as if the board is bumped, the pieces can slide around, leaving questions of where each marker was before the bump.  My idea (we'll playtest this upcoming Friday) was to cut out a couple of sheets of cork board and use push pins to keep things in place.

I suspect a new dashboard will be needed for each game as they will get repeatedly punctured over the course of a game, but they'd likely need to be replaced anyway if (for example) it becomes necessary to record damage. 

PS - I didn't mean to print out WAT twice! The PDF crashed the printer first time, so I only have one full copy, plus the first attempted print that only printed about half the pages!

Grenadiers WIP

For my Great Northern War Russian Army, I decided that I want grenadiers with grenades, in active poses, but, alas, I was not able to find any readily available.  So instead, I decided to make my own!  

Starting with the WGF plastic WSS Artillerymen as a base, and with lots of bits from other WGF WSS plastic sets generously shared by Doug and Kevin, plus a supply of pewter grenadier heads from Ebor, I have fabricated these:

Torsos don't match exactly.  I considered adding a bit of modelling putty to fill the gap, but I don't think I'll need that.  Once these are painted, the overlap won't be easy to see.

I used Ebor heads to match the Repnin Grenadiers I'd already painted:

Grenadier mitres come in a distracting variety of styles. I'm not judging which is best and I'm certainly not ready to research the exact style of mitre used in this army, but I do want to be consistent.  The mitre here supplied by Ebor matches the mitre shown in the Osprey Man-at-Arms book so it's good enough for me.

Ingermanlandski Regiment

I'm still here, despite having not posted anything in about 6 months!  Here is the latest unit to join Peter the Great's army, the Ingermanlandski Regiment.  My original plan was to paint the whole army with the traditional "green coat and red turnbacks" but then I started to find references to various different coat and turnback colours for different regiments in Peter's army.  The yellow coats really stood out, so I knew I had to do them!

Then, once they were painted, I found this reference:

"In 1708 Tsar Peter wrote that green was the preferred color for soldiers' coats, however the diversity of uniform colors was considerable in Russian army of the Great Northern War period. They varied from such traditional shades like green, blue, white and red to more unusual like yellow (was proposed for Menshikov's Ingermanland Infantry Regiment in 1706 but it wasn't carried out)."

Well, I'm not going to repaint them!  They're going to add a nice bit of brightness to my army, and a quick check of other GNW blogs shows me that I'm in good company with my yellow-coat Ingermanlandskis!

I converted a few of the musketeers into pikemen, by carving away the musket and replacing it with a metal pike (liberated from pewter pikemen, who will now need to find pikes for themselves!)

Since Kevin and I started our GNW project with the idea of using "The Pikeman's Lament", I've organised the infantry so that they can be in units of 12.  Command are individually based to facilitate two units of 12 each, or they can be combined to a unit of 23.

Yes, that's right, 23.  I managed to lose one of the little buggers.  Maybe he'll drag his AWOAL ass back into ranks, or maybe I'll conscript soldier from another unit, or maybe I'll just live with one unit being one man short.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Warfare Miniatures GNW Russians

I was very excited on Friday to open my mailbox and find that the packaged I'd ordered from Warfare Miniatures had arrived!  They are very beautiful figures.  Now, normally I'd wait until I'd slapped some paint on the miniatures before posting up a review, but Doug asked for photos so here they are.

I ordered a regiment pack, Russian Infantry Defending, and two packs of cavalry, one of cavalry command and one of regular troopers.  I wasn't thinking clearly when I made the order, and forgot that it contains 20 figures, not enough to split into two units of 12 to match our Pikeman's Lament forces.  Now I have to decide if I order another infantry pack or make up the numbers with figures from somewhere else (and if you know me, you know it's just a matter of time before I place another order to Barry Hilton....)

So, here are the infantry.  Nice clean casts, barely any cleaning required.  Only omission is that there are no pikes for the 5 pikemen and no flagpoles, so I'll be making up those with brass rod.  Hands are closed, so I will need to located a pin vise or dremel somewhere to drill them open.

Reverse view

Closed hand!  As seen on a pikeman, same effect for the officers.

Here are the dragoons.  The dragoon standard bearer is cast with an open hand, so I guess I can work on these first.

Quick and dirty comparison shot, showing L-R Wargames Factory/Warlord Games WSS plastic infantry, Warfare Miniatures, Ebor (dragoon) and Ebor (grenadier)

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Brigadier for Pikeman's Lament

No, not Lethbridge-Stewart.

In our most recent game of Pikeman's Lament, Kevin was frustrated that his three infantry units didn't advance across the field in a nice column.  The first would move, then the second would fail its move activation roll.  The result was that the first unit got multiple turns of defensive fire, while the follow-on units dawdled in the rear.  Doug had previously noted something similar in his playtesting of his Napoleonic variant of Lion Rampant, which he call 'Hussar Rampant".  Doug's solution is to allow each force an officer, whose only function is to coordinate movements by a group of cavalry units.

For Pikeman's Lament, I think we can try a hybrid between the PL officer rules with Doug's Hussar Rampant officer.  

Brigadier (Pikeman's Lament)
Each force is entitled to an officer.  The officer is to be individually mounted, either as a single model or as a small vignette (see Kevin's version of Carl XII on his blog here).

  • The officer is not part of a unit. 
  • Officers can move up to 12" in a turn.  Officers move at the end of the turn, without testing for activation, unless they moved as part of a group move.
  • The officer can order a group of units to move together.  All units performing the group move must be within 6" of the officer before the move order is given. 
    • Test for activation (Move) as normal.  If the units have different activation numbers use the highest (most difficult) target number.
    • Move is limited by the slowest movement rate of the units, including penalties for moving in difficult terrain.
  • Officers do not fight and do not shoot.
  • Officers cannot be targeted for shooting or charges.  If one of the officer's units is shot at while he is within 4", however, check for a 'lucky blow' to determine if he will be a casualty. 

Otherwise, officers are as in the Pikeman's Lament rulebook.  (i.e., officer gives +1 to activation tests, +1 to morale tests, and can have officer traits, honour, duels etc.)

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

GNW/WSS foot ideas for Pikeman's Lament

After our game of Pikeman's Lament on Friday, we discussed ways to better differentiate between raw, regular and veteran foot, as well as for grenadiers and mixed pike/shot units.  I've been thinking about these ideas for a few days, and this is what I've come up with so far.  Please feel free to leave your comments!

For this post, I'm only looking at regular foot units from established armies.  No highlanders, tribesmen, clubmen or the like, not even skirmishers or commanded shot (at least not yet).

The thing that really jumped out at us in our game was that all units of a type have the same chance to activate.  This didn't feel right, as raw troops should be hard to motivate to move around, while veteran troops should almost anticipate their orders.  In game terms, raw troops should have a higher activation roll than veterans.

My feeling is that raw troops should have target numbers around 7+, and veterans around 5+ for most activation rolls.  An exception is for shooting, where a slightly higher target number can reflect all sorts of things that could slow down reloading and firing muskets.  For shoot value, I'll stick with 7+ except for veterans who will get a 6+ to reflect their experience (always having an extra flint, clean barrels, spare powder and whatnot that less experienced troops won't).

Grenadiers should be capable of the same things as line infantry but should be hard core at attacking, much like clansmen or forlorn hope.

Attack value, defence value and shooting value will be adjusted as well.  I think shot in PL is intended only for defence, so have a very poor attack value, but by this time shot will be expected to carry out assaults on enemy positions (once they have been suitably softened by shot and artillery).

Morale values for the game currently vary from 3+ for highly motivated types (eg gallopers) to 5+ for least motivated (clubmen, artillery).  I'll stay within these limits as well.

Here are the trial values I am considering:

Line Infantry (raw)
A7+                                                        AV6
M7+                                                        DV5+
S7+                                                         SV6
Morale 5+                                             Move 6"
Stamina 2
Close order, first salvo

Line Infantry (regular)
A6+                                                         AV5+
M5+                                                        DV5+
S7+                                                         SV5+
Morale 4+                                             Move 6"
Stamina 2
Close order, first salvo

Line Infantry (veteran)
A6+                                                         AV5+
M5+                                                        DV4+
S6+                                                         SV5+
Morale 4+                                             Move 6"
Stamina 2
Close order, first salvo

A5+                                                         AV4+
M5+                                                        DV4+
S6+                                                         SV5+
Morale 3+                                             Move 6"
Stamina 2
Close order, first salvo, ferocious

Mixed pike and shot units should be better at close combat with reduced effectiveness at shooting.  Kevin's suggestion was that P&S units will only roll 8D6 for shooting (4D6 at half strength).  My proposal is that they roll 9D6 at full strength and 6D6 at half strength.

Pike and Shot
A5+                                                         AV4+
M5+                                                        DV4+
S7+                                                         SV5+
Morale 3+                                             Move 6"
Stamina 2
Close order, first salvo, 9D6/6D6 for shooting

As I mentioned, these are my preliminary ideas.  Some things to consider further:
Should raw shot get the close order and first salvo?
Should there be a veteran pike and shot?  Kevin probably thinks so, but the profile above is pretty hardcore already IMO.

I haven't suggested any points values yet.  I'd like to playtest these and see how they go.  

Boring statistics stuff follows:

I ran a few numbers to figure out the odds of getting particular results.  For starters, the easy numbers were odds to activate with different target numbers:

Target Number Probability (%)

From the above, a target number of 5+ will let the troops activate most of the time (>80%).  6+ activation will be successful almost 3/4 of the time, and 7+ will activate more often than not.  8+ (used by artillery, for example) will fail more often than it succeeds.  I am content to stay within this range for the activation rolls.

For morale tests, they seem very good until you realise that there will usually be penalties associated with them (-1 for each casualty!).  And a bad roll can still upset your plans, as I found out when my grenadiers rolled snake eyes on their first morale test and fled the table.  So I'm going to follow the lead from the rules and keep morale levels in the 3+ (for the most confident troops) to 5+ (for the unsteady ones, like clubmen).

 A trickier calculation is the number of successes one can expect on 12 dice (or 6 dice when half strength).  I can figure that out without much bother for up to three dice, but after that the math gets really complicated to figure exactly.  But using approximations, I figure that this table should be reasonably close:

Target number:           Successes with 12 dice:           Successes with 6 dice:
3+                                           around 8                                around 4
4+                                           around 6                                around 3
5+                                           around 4                                around 2
6                                             around 2                                around 1

Target number:           Successes with 8 dice:           Successes with 4 dice:
3+                                           around 5                                maybe 3
4+                                           around 4                                around 2
5+                                              2 or 3                                  1 or 2
6                                                1 or 2                                  1 if you're lucky

I could have done a bunch of math with regressions and things to get percentage chances of getting at least 1 success up to 12 successes for each roll (the odds of getting 12 sixes with 12 dice is about one in 2 billion), but for practical purposes the above should be good enough.  

So, if your opponent has stamina 2 (like most infantry) rolling 12 dice needing 4+, you'll likely take out 3 troops, but only 2 if he's stamina 3 and only 1 if he's stamina 4.  Raw infantry needing 6 to hit will probably only get two hits, which could only take out a single infantryman in the open, and would need to be lucky to take out a stamina 3 cavalryman or infantry in cover.  And once you are at half strength and rolling 6 dice, then your chance of hurting your opponent really drops off.

When we look at the reduced number of potential successes for shooting with 8 or 4 dice, then success rates really drop off.  Reducing number of dice for shooting really penalises the pike and shot unit.  I would argue at least that the half strength shooting should still roll 6 dice (on the theory that everyone who can will pick up a musket when the unit takes casualties, and when shooting is needed) and reduce full strength shooting dice to 9 rather than 8.

Note that these are preliminary ideas and I welcome all comments!