Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Exercise & fitness update

Well September is over and I fell a bit short of my target. I clocked up 260 km (162 miles) on the bike and 32 km (20 miles) swimming. I was aiming for 300km bike and 35 km swimming. This is about 10% less than August. And about 45% down on Steve-the-Wargamer’s total, to say nothing of Jonathan’s.


Bike (km)

Swim (km)

August

287

35

September

260

286

32

In terms of excuses, the month got off to a bad start with 3 days laid up in bed, September is a day shorter, and I was still on holiday for the first few days of August. I swam/cycled on fewer days than in August, but the distances were longer on each occasion. In August I was typically doing 17km round trip by bike and a 1.6km swim. September's typical session was 20km by bike (I take the long way back) and 2km swimming. I've done the odd 3km swim too when I've been able to book a convenient 60 minute time slot (though on those occasions I've travelled by car).

I've not been religiously logging my times (especially cycling), but my swim speed has noticeably improved. I've knocked 5 minutes off my time for 2km. The cycling seems to be getting easier, and I'm pedalling up the slopes in higher gears on the way home. So that's pleasing progress.

This was before the latest tweak in my stroke technique. I'd just finished my swim one day last week and I stopped at the end of the pool to stretch a little before getting out. Next to me was one of the swim coaches who seems to have been a constant fixture at the pool over the 20-odd years I've been going. She turned to me and said, "I hope you don't mind but something's been really bothering me and that's your stroke. You put your hands in like [x] but if you did [y] and lift your elbow you'll get more 'catch' and it'll improve your stroke tremendously." I LOVE the fact she takes her craft so seriously that this was bugging her so much she had to speak out when she was off-duty. Since then I've tried to follow her advice (it certainly feels awkward) and it is definitely faster. At first I was getting breathless quite quickly. I guess this is because my arms are doing more work per stroke. I definitely noticed some aches where I hadn't ached before, but I'll persevere even though it’s not easy to create new habits.

Oh, and I've finished the weight loss phase of my fight the flab campaign. I reached my target weight (10km down in 3 months) in mid-September. I've been trying to maintain that level, but the calorie counting app I'm using has given me a baseline 'budget' 50% higher than my weight loss budget! This is far too much and I'm experimenting with different amounts to get it right. This is the really important stage as I've got to make this a permanent change in what I consume. I'm enjoying the fact that I'm not stretching the lycra on my Grimsby Town cycling jersey 😎.

UPATE: In the grand tradition of Stalinist 5-Year Plans, I have reviewed my productivity stats and upgraded them. OK I didn't hit or exceed the Plan, but I'm Gorbachevian. The books might still be cooked,  but not quite as unbelievably. 

In Leningrad the people say
Perestroika can be explained this way
The people who told us
That two and two is ten
Are now trying to tell us
That two and two is five

(From North Sea Bubble by Billy Bragg)

I downloaded a cycling app and plotted my regular route. The good news, for me, is I had underestimated the distance by more than 10% so my actual distance in September was 26 km higher than I posted before. I know that's less than 10% of the previous total, but I did a couple of different routes (which I haven't plotted properly yet). So I did almost as much in September as I did I August.

Comrades can be assured that the relevant person has been sent for re-education.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Oh for Fox sake!

What the country really doesn’t need is another, stupid,  posh blonde twerp leading another political party, ranting about how ‘they’ are taking over the country and changing ‘our’ way of life. If anyone is stealing our heritage it’s the super rich kleptocrats financing these gobshites.

https://amp.theguardian.com/politics/2020/sep/27/laurence-fox-launching-political-party-to-reclaim-british-values

It’s all designed of course to distract the hard of thinking amongst the ordinary ‘working class’ of the country from the real issue. Brexit is on the way, so blaming the EU is an idea with a rapidly shortening shelf life. So now it’ll be all the fault of people who think racism is a bad idea. Anything that distracts the eye.

The real irony about people like Fox (and Farage, and Johnson and all those failed BNP/NF folk before them) is that they are the real betrayers of the British people. Timing is everything here. Just when Labour are bouncing back under Starmer, someone funds Fox. 

Monday, 28 September 2020

More cases than Vantaa baggage reclaim.

Couldn’t resist posting this, which I received a short while ago from a fellow student of Finnish. Infamously, well infamous amongst a relatively small group of linguists and students of the language, Finnish has more cases than German and Latin combined. Something like 15. I say ‘something like’ because there is some disagreement about whether one of them is a real, and distinct case. I don’t know which one. I give up after 9 or 10.

So for what it’s worth, share my frustration.



Reasons to be cheerful

I was going to go with this post title even before I saw Tradgardmastare’s punning title. You’ll see why by the end of the post.

My walks (and related posts) have reduced in length and frequency since August. One, the days are getting shorter so there’s less daylight after work. Two, the frequency of late work calls has gone up, with a general increase in busy-ness. Three, exercise of a more vigorous nature has taken over (although this trend went back to early August).

The opportunity to take some time off work arose and after my bike and swim, and a few chores, my wife and I went for a walk in Richmond Park. Ladderstile gate to Pembroke Lodge and back to be precise.

Things are looking and sounding more Autumnal. We haven’t got really bright leaf colours yet, but the fern has started to die back and conkers are strewn over the ground. As for Autumnal sounds, well I heard my first proper stag bellow of the rutting season at the weekend, when I was peddling through Bushy Park. I then saw the big brute charge another male that was standing some way off. As with a lot of charges, it didn’t actually lead to actual contact as the defender (LMD*) opted to evade. Today we heard some serious bellowing in Richmond Park, so be careful out there.

* I believe that would be the correct WRG Ancients term for it: Light Medium Deer.

After a coffee at the Pembroke Lodge cafeteria we strolled by an area of the gardens known in the family as ‘the Squirrels’ from the times when we used to walk there with my eldest when he was very small. Sadly the area concerned is fenced off (look but don’t touch) now, so no more opportunities for small boys to chase squirrels and pigeons around the base if trees.

Here are a few pics taken along the way.







 




Bench at Poets' Corner. I hope you can make out the words engraved.

 


The whole ensemble. The words are carved in the benches to the right. The plaque in the background has some (to my mind) awful poetry. Though don't take my word for it as I don't know a foot from a metre.

Ah! But this is what we've come for.

 


Some explanation. I didn't try to listen today. Years ago, when the bench was first installed, I liked to take my head phones to plug in. 


As ever, the main reason to be cheerful was with me on the walk. Educating me on the Latin names for various plants, and being very calmly companionable.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Whereas these lads

 https://youtu.be/e-TgqpobVu0

A bit of context behind this video. The number 9 for Grimsby, Omar Bogle, was brought to the club essentially through a crowd-funded initiative. The previous year (2015) Grimsby just fell short at the final hurdle, losing in the play-off final on penalties to Bristol Rovers. Arguably Rovers should have played most of the game with 10 players after the goalkeeper committed a ‘last defender’ foul on a Grimsby player haring down on goal. 

Instead of moping in the Summer, supporters banded together and did what they could to give their team that extra bit of firepower, and raised £110,000 for the playing budget. The club's turnover that year was £1.9m. For once people power beat the deep pockets of business, in the shape of Forest Green Rovers’ owner who bankrolled losses of £3m a year on a turnover of £1m. Yes you read that right. Up until that third goal was scored in injury time, years of disappointment gave many the feeling that victory could be snatched away at any moment. When he slid down on his backside in the corner after scoring, the never to be forgotten Nathan Arnold* was expressing the same sense of relief and release that thousands watching felt.

A year later. After a ban on 'inflatables' following an 'assault' with a blow-up shark at Barnet (I kid you not), a guy with access to alcohol and the internet launched a crowd-funder for a Mariachi band instead. This was duly done and Trump wants to build the wall around Grimsby.

It may not have been the division’s most talented squad, but they were no slouches by any means, and nobody could fault their work ethic and team spirit. The salaries the players were on were probably good by the standards of most people in the town of Grimsby, but they were relatable incomes. These were honest, hardworking, skilled men in precarious livelihoods, with commensurate pay. That probably helped the sense of togetherness. It was not the most successful of periods in Grimsby Town Football Club's history, and they were not the best players ever to pull on the black & white shirts. But it was a time rich in shared experience. There were nearly as many downs as ups. But they were shared. And there were some splendid, boisterous but good-natured days out.**

Sadly most lower division football grounds are about as full as this now. As we all know, Covid-19 is particularly dangerous in open spaces, but has no power in pubs and restaurants (until 22:00) or schools

* not just because he scored the decisive goal, but because of the way he conducted himself as a man in the community. On his day he was no mean talent on the pitch either. If the supporters had got to decide who scored that goal, Nathan Arnold would have garnered a large percentage of the votes.

** Stand-out memories include a stag party in 'Scouse' wigs jumping on the pitch for a kick-about at Borehamwood at half-time (cue Keystone Cops chase); Wigs at Woking; 40 Belgians pushing each other up the steep hill from the pub to the stadium at Dover; Bin Boy at Southport; Inflatables at Barnet; 'Fish' at Wembley provoking 30,000 Bristolians to sing 'Good Night Irene' .

A more professionally written version of the same story






Damned right he’s not

 https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/boris-johnson-grimsby-town-shirt-4543116.amp


Thursday, 24 September 2020

A long long time ago...

....a small boy used to sing along with his big sisters to a hit record. The meaning of the words was a mystery but it didnt matter, it was a catchy song and the singer sang it with feeling. A few years later at a comprehensive school in Cleethorpes, the, by now, not quite so small boy had lessons with a trendy young English and Drama teacher. You know the type. One who sat on the corner of his desk and, thankfully, took his vocation seriously. One day Trendy Young English and Drama Teacher explained the references in the song to the class. For a while it was a revelation, and the class sang along with a little extra feeling. The trouble is, formerly small boys ('FSB') do not remember most of the references now. But over the years whenever it cropped up in the repetoire of singers with guitars in boozie bars like O'Neills in Kingson, or the Walkabout in Covent Garden (which is to say, all the time, just before 'Living Next Door to Alice') FSB would sing along with gusto, transported back to cosier days. Not all of the big sisters are around any more to join in, which make FSBs sad when they think about it. However, Tradgardmastare's latest post was all the excuse a FSB needs. Take it away Don...

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Decision Before Dawn

Sunday was a golden day for films on Freeview (free, I.e. non-subscription digital TV channels in the UK). One was Desert Rats (Richard Burton as a Pommie Officer seconded to an Australian infantry unit in Tobruk). Later was Ice Cold in Alex (and yes I did ‘share’ a cold lager with the intrepid gang at the final scene, but no it wasn’t Carlsberg as Lidl only had packs of 18 tins!).

But the most interesting of the three (maybe because of the novelty) was the third. Decision Before Dawn. It has been deemed one of the Best Pictures of 1951. Oscar nominated ahead of many more well-known films from that year. See here.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t1zBGGlcHjE

The trailer gives a clue as to what it was about.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9UVSxfINPWs

It has an authenticity that most later ‘war films’ don’t have. Filming was done on location amidst the rubble of post war a Germany (much as Theirs is the Glory has done in the ruins of Arnhem). The storyline is unusual to say the least, but is based on the semi-autobiographical novel of an OSS officer. Well worth watching and thought provoking.


I couldn’t find it in the site of the channel that aired it (Sony Movies Action) but I’m sure you can find it on one of the well-know video sharing platforms.

Here is the IMDb page for it.

https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0043459/


Monday, 21 September 2020

Lobositz - a historical perspective

When I was rooting around through my files in preparation for Saturday's game I came across these old photos from a previous refight of Lobositz that my lad and I did in 2011. The young pretender in the role of Old Fritz and yours truly as Maximilien Ulysses von Browne.*

I think this ended in a draw (which is a strategic win for the Austrians).

Bevern moves up to assault the Croats on the Lobosch whilst the Austrian grenadiers move up to support the Croats

Prussian cavalry move off the Homolkaberg. Unpaited buildings - tut tu!

Austrians line the Morellenbach. As well as unpainted buildings, the stream is chalked in.



Kleist's column attacks the Austrian elite cavalry and hussars in front of Lobositz. Card buildings in this one (as well as an unpainted church).

Prussian cuirassiers attack the Austrian centre. Front right are the Garde du Corps with homemade Roman style eagle standard - quite an achievement in 6mm scale if I say so myself.

View from behind the Austrian left-centre

Slightly further to the left looking up towards the Homolkaberg

Kleist's column after being repulsed.

Austrians massed behind the Morellenbach

Stand-off on the Lobosch after Lacy has repulsed Bevern.

* Maximilien von Browne is a fascinating figure. The son of one of the Wild Geese who ended up as a general for the Imperialists in the WSS, Max rose to become a Field Marshall under Maria-Theresa. Max's uncle was also a senior field officer in the Kaiserlich army and his cousin, Georg, was a general in the Russian army during the SYW. Despite his background, von Browne had a very good relationship with the Austrians' British allies in Italy during the War of the Austrian Succession. Max was probably the most talented commander of his generation (some would argue including Frederick himself).  Maria-Theresa's misfortune was that Von Browne died in the year following Lobositz. His career was covered in Christopher Duffy's first book, the Wild Goose and the Eagle, which I mentioned earlier this year. 

I think I read that German speakers pronounced his name von Brovna because the spelling wasn't 'Braun'.



Lobositz - the Third Refight

More specifically, the third refight using my bastardised version of Max Foy's Prinz Eugen rules. The 4th time Lobositz has been played in the Nundanket household. The first time can be seen here, all the way back in 2011.

Given the first two games took 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and the table was still set-up*, I thought I would 'go again'. In the first game, I ignored historical precedent (apart from the set-up) and played it 'freestyle'. The result was a victory for Frederick in a late swing. Next, I played it 'straight' from the point of view of the Austrians. They adopted their historical posture, but Old Fritz was allowed a fee hand. 'Completely unfair' the Austrophiles (and history lovers) cry. And this resulted in a clear cut victory for Prussia in terms of units eliminated, although the Whitecoats stilled held Lobositz town. A tactical victory but Browne achieved his operational aims. Fairly close to a historical result.

* thanks to the girls being back at school I could use one of their bedrooms to work in today.

Third time I played it with both sides following historical precedent. The game took about 2 1/2 hours early this evening. And the result? A close run thing with the Prussians pulling their irons out of the fire again. Stage one was the initial infantry assault on the Lobosch and the cavalry foray into the mist. The results in both cases were along historical lines. The Prussians had to feed more infantry on to the Lobosch and their cavalry were given a bloody nose. A cuirassier brigade ended up 1 hit short of being eliminated and a dragoon brigade was removed totally. So much for the famous Bayreuth Dragoons.

Stage two was the massed cavalry assault by the Prussians. Due to not being able to get sufficient order chips to move all the cavalry whilst fighting on the Lobosch and bombarding the Austrians, this second cavalry attack was a bit more piecemeal. But the results were pretty much along historical lines. The bluecoated infantry eventually gained the upper hand over  Lacy's Croats and regular infantry. And the cavalry swept the plain of enemy, but in the process took significant casualties. Even more so when, having cleared the plain of enemy, they tried to get at the Austrians across the Morellenbach. They raged up and down helplessly getting picked off by infantry and artillery, or floundered in the marshy stream. In the end all but one Prussian cavalry brigade was pulled back being close to elimination. The Austrians were able to pull back battered units to prevent them from being eliminated, and replace them with fresh troops.


End of the action on the Lobosch: Frederick's musketeers have holed up the remnants of Lacy's command by Welhotta. Lacy (the son of another of the Wild Geese) was felled in this refight. In reality he survived the war to become a Field Marshall and President of the Hofkriegsrat.



Four of the six Prussian cavalry brigades pulled back with serious losses - count the round markers. The Prussian brigades have a strength of 4, so 3 units were just one more hit away from being removed. One further brigade was lost. Meanwhile the sixth was performing Herculean deeds by the Morellenbach.


By this stage, the advantage was in Browne's favour. Something like 5VPs to 3. Old Fritz had moved his heavy guns down into the plain and these poured shot and shell into Sullowitz and its surrounds, causing further attrition on the Austrians. Then the Wonder of the Age occurred. The second Prussian dragoon brigade fought off first one attack on it, and then another. It proceeded to follow-up and sweep away all comers. It eventually forced its way over the Morellenbach, disordered but unscathed. They broke through the skin of fresher troops and finally found themselves amongst the worn remnants of the first line.  By the end they could be seen slashing their way through an infantry brigade taking the Prussians' 8th and 9th VPs. So 9-6 to Old Fritz. But with most of his cavalry licking their wounds, there would be no pursuit onto the Bohemian plains of the retreating Whitecoats.

The heroic dragoons on the 'Austrian' side of the Morellenbach having just delivered the coup de grâce to an Austrian infantry brigade, and taken a general too. They're surrounded by other tempting targets should the game have gone a further turn.


The table has been cleared now, so no more Lobositz. For now. Apart from the next post (the game from 2011). I've enjoyed these three solo games. The rules worked out well. Lobositz is a great battle to wargame. Plenty of challenges and two equally balanced, but different opponents. No wonder it's an Old School favourite. Indeed, I first came across it in the Charles Grant (senior) penned chapter in the War Game, as a lad in the 70s. It was on the to do list for a very long time. When I made the switch to 6mm SYW figures, my goal was to build up sufficient sized armies to 'do' Lobositz. The usual wargaming megalomania took over, and Torgau became the next target. What next? I'm running out of Frederician battles to game.


Sunday, 20 September 2020

Lobositz - Again!

This time with the Austrians adopting their historical stance of sitting tight. Unfortunately this ended up 7-2 to the Prussians - I conceded as the Austrians at this point as there was no real prospect of pulling it back. Unlike the previous game where the Austrians held the initiative in almost every turn, this time the Prussians held it most of the time.

There were a few interesting twists and turns. The combat on the Lobosch swung too and fro with two Prussian brigades getting a mauling before the Croats were chased away for good. The third Prussian brigade performed marvels, seeing off one brigade of regulars before eventually putting paid to the Croat threat.

In the centre the Prussians advanced 3 batteries to close to Lobositz again, but this time made sure they had more support at hand. They were able to pour fire into Lobositz and slowly whittle down the defenders.

Also in the centre, a brigade of Prussian cuirassiers charged a battery of Austrian guns but were surprisingly repulsed. This is one area where I have veered from the Prinz Eugen rules, which are geared towards a smaller scale action. In Prinz Eugen if a unit of horse make contact with a battery, the battery is finished. Because in my game a hex represents a much bigger area and units are brigade strength (roughly x4 the Foy size), in 'close combat' I assume the artillery get to fire at close range. So in this case the Prussian cuirassiers were repulsed with losses. A brigade of Austrian dragoons then charged the disordered Prussians but were beaten back. When the Prussians had suffered more hits, a units of Austrian hussars charged into them but were repulsed. Eventually I opted to have another go at the battery with the Cuirassiers but they were blasted away with their accompanying general.




The battered Prussian cuirassiers in the centre. Surely they will be finished off by the Austrian cavalry?


End positions. Prussians behind the pink line. Most of the Austrians have moved from behind the Morellenbach to bolster the centre. They still hold the town of Lobositz and could easily plug the gap between the two rivers whilst they retreat. But their horse and foot have taken a battering.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Lobositz 3 - the Wargame - or a bad day for Mrs Browne's Boy

Finally I got the game in this evening. Solo as usual. Using my highly bastardised version of Max Foy's Prinz Eugen WSS rules. As a reminder, the rules were bastardised in a number of ways.

(1) As there were a lot of light troops in this SYW battle, I added tweaks for them.

(2) I distinguish between different classes of cavalry (cuirassier, dragoons and hussars)

(3) I've made artillery slightly more powerful in terms of range

(4) Units represent brigades, not battalions/3 squadrons

(5) Only artillery can take part in ranged combat. All infantry and cavalry action is subsumed into 'close combat', which covers both shooting and the clash of cold steel.

The game, lasted a mere 2 hours and reached a conclusion in that time. I didn't play the Austrian side in properly historical fashion. I should have set the victory conditions better to encourage me to stay put instead of adopting a more aggressive stance. Still, the table is set-up and I could go again tomorrow. The end result was an 8-6 win for Frederick, but up until the last two turns Mrs Browne's Boy was leading 6-3. What can make the game swing so rapidly is when one or both sides have a lot of units with a couple of losses meaning that a well-planned assault can quickly rack up the victory points.

So here is the game told through photos.

The initial positions. Prussians have emerged from the mountains on the left. The River Elbe top right with Lobositz town just below it. The bulk of the Austrians are behind the Morellenbach stream at the bottom.

View from the Prussian side of the Morellenbach

Bevern's bluecoated infantry attempt to clear the Croats from the vineyards on the lower slopes of the Lobosch. They had two attempts without success before one unit of Croats exposed themselves in open ground (although they did chase off one battered Prussian unit first).

Von Browne feeds horse and foot across the Morellenbach to bolster the centre of his position. The round bases are loss markers. Most units (made up of two rectangular bases) have a strength of three, i.e. 3 losses and they are removed.


Action at the Lobosch. Prussian infantry nearest the camera. Most of the infantry here are disordered. Croats ensconced in the vineyards on the slopes. Prussian cavalry attacking Austrian infantry close to the river.

Same area a couple of turns later. On the right Frederick has pushed 3 companies of heavy guns closer towards Lobositz. He would later regret putting them in such an isolated position!

von Browne feeds infantry through Lobositz to avoid a long march through open country to attack the guns.


The turn that swung the battle. Prussian cavalry attack three depleted Austrian units. In the middle action Old Fritz has joined his cuirassiers in an attempt to inspire his lads. It paid off! As well as routing the dragoons opposite, they bowled over their general, gaining an extra VP. 4 VPs were secured in this one turn to go from 4-6 to 8-4.


Overview of the final positions. Prussians to the left of the squiggly pink line. von Browne's centre has been ripped apart and his right wing isolated.






Monday, 14 September 2020

Lobositz 2

Just a brief post having scoured my book collection* for orders of battle. In reviewing things I realised that I had made three errors! One of them glaring.

Taking the glaring error first, I'd simply cut and pasted the Austrian numbers and edited them as the Prussian numbers. Only I didn't do this properly and left in the 'Croats' (Grenzers)! The second error was an arithmetical failing - there should have been 7.5 brigades of Austrian infantry excluding the Grenzers. This gives the Austrians an infantry numerical advantage that is appropriate. The third was to get the numbers wrong for the Austrian elite cavalry - I effectively showed these as 1.5 brigades when it should be 0.5 on the basis that 12 companies equates to 6 squadrons or just 1 regiment.

However, this still leaves the rest of the cavalry to sort out. Using the numbers of squadrons present, the Austrians would have the numerical advantage on the table. Duffy, whilst roughly agreeing with Kronoskaf on the numbers of squadrons, gives a total of 10,500 Prussian troopers against the 7,600 Austrians. These numbers are intriguing. This would put the Prussians at close to establishment levels and the Austrians way below them, when for both it was the first campaign of the war and arguably the Prussians had been more exposed to wastage having traversed a hostile state to get to Lobositz. It might be that the Prussians were simply better prepared on mobilisation and closer to establishment to start with. One other possible explanation is that the 7,600 does not include the hussars and elite companies present. This would total c.15 squadrons' worth of troopers, possibly 1,500-2,000 more. Even with this, the Prussian cavalry would have been stronger by 1,000-1,500 blades, a significant percentage of the total present. 

One solution to this is to give the Prussians a starting status of 4* as opposed to the normal status of 3 for good regulars. Another is to round down the Austrian representation. Where the line cavalry are actually organised into 4 commands in the historical order of battle, I had shown this as a total of 5 brigades (4 cuirassiers and 1 dragoon). I could simply depict these as 4 brigades, giving a new total of 5.5 brigades, versus 6 Prussian. Maybe I should do both?

* In effect all Duffy since neither Szabo, nor Showalter give any details.

London Walking Blog

The doyen of wargaming philosophers, Epictetus, kindly dropped by to post a link to the lost byway, the blog of chap (bearded naturally*) who did the Hogsmill walk that I covered a couple of months back. I include the link here as I know some of you obviously don't get out much  😉 and enjoy my posts about walking.

http://thelostbyway.com/2019/11/london-loop-section-8-kingston-ewell.html

John Rogers, who's blog it is, has some more, and better, photos of points along the route. He has also posted a video, which I enjoyed as it gives you more of the atmosphere. John's blog covers several other London walks, including more on the London Loop of which the Hogsmill, forms the Kingston to Ewell part. 

More information on the London loop, and other walks around London, can be found on the TFL (Transport for London) website here:

https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/walking/loop-walk

Some interesting looking walks for the Autumn.


* it's nice to know I'm on trend, though I don't have the Bill Bailey haircut.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Lobositz I

Hopefully this will be a welcome return to wargaming. This post is about the plan to wargame Lobositz using an adapted version of Max Foy's Prinz Eugen rules for the War of the Spanish Succession. This comes after the successful trial of the rules using a scenario based on the Combat of Zinna (or First Battle of Torgau 1759). The reason for picking Lobositz is it's fresh in my mind having started reading the Henty book referred to in the previous post. I don't know when I'll get the figures on the table as work is getting busier and taking up more evenings and I'm still trying to keep up the exercise regime.

For several months I've been thinking about developing a hex-based version of my Bellona et Fortuna SYW rules, but that's one of my Summer 'to do' list that never got done. As the playtest of the Prinz Eugen rules went well I thought I may as well use them as the basis for a larger battle. After the last couple of outings of Bellona et Fortuna (here and here), I thought I'd attempt to speed up play by making the basic unit a brigade instead of 5 squadrons/2 battalions (i.e. a Prussian or Austrian regiment). Prinz Eugen units are basically battalions or smaller regiments of cavalry (3 squadrons) so by scaling up to 'brigades' I'll be roughly quadrupling the size of a unit. In terms of overall numbers engaged, Lobositz is four times the size of Zinna, so that works out rather neatly.

My hexes (13cm across the flats) contain two bases of horse or foot at 6cm each. Each base represents a regiment with a frontage of 300 yards each, so the hex works out at 650 yards across (i.e. the whole brigade frontage). I know there was not a standard size for brigades in either army, but I am working on the basis of 4 battalions or 10 squadrons, and rounding off the odd change where the historical order of battle doesn't quite fit. Having consulted the maps in both Kronoskaf and Duffy, I spent more time than I should have calculating the size of the battle map in terms of hexes. After much head-scratching, rubbings out, thinking of the first number I started with, and then starting all over again, I came up with 10 wide by 8 deep. This comes to 130 by 90cm approximately which fits neatly onto the dining table without extensions.

Given that hexes will represent a pretty large area (650 yards wide), only artillery will be able to engage in ranged combat. Shooting and any clash of cold steel will all be subsumed into a single bound of combat. I'll probably determine this as when one brigade enters the hex of an opposing unit. I might need to rethink the balance between cavalry and infantry in Melee Combat since infantry in Prinz Eugen might already have had a chance to have a pop at enemy cavalry before they come to melee. Perhaps.

Also, as the basic artillery unit will be a battery of 10 guns and not scaled up*, the relative hitting power against horse and foot needs to be reduced. For each hit inflicted on infantry or cavalry, the target will get a saving throw of 4,5,6 on a D6. Also the range will be 2 hexes (1300 yards) down from the 6 hexes in my Zinna playtest. I'm thinking of awarding an extra hex length for guns sited on hills, allowing for better visibility. I'll keep movement at 1 hex for foot and 2 for horse in line. I'll also keep the modifications I made for light troops. However, I will distinguish between cuirassiers and dragoons in combat against each other. I will allow 'brigade orders' for units in adjacent hexes, though in this case the formation will be larger than a brigade. And finally, I'll allow 'stacking' of brigades in a hex given the area that it is supposed to represent. This will take a bit of careful thought around interpenetration though, so more on that later.

* batteries of 20+ will be unwieldy

Now then. To orders of battle. Taking the size of brigades as described above and the orders of battle in Kronoskaf, I'll have the orders of battle as follows.

Austrian

Infantry: 7.5 brigades (incl. 1 elite**) NOTE CHANGE FROM 6.5

Cavalry: 6.5 brigades (0.5 elite cuirassier, 0.5 horse grenadier, 4 cuirassier, 1 dragoon, 1 hussar)

Grenzers: 2 brigades (each 2 battalions)

Heavy guns: 2 batteries

** I'll probably make this extra strong by giving it a starting status of 5, and round down the total brigades to 6

Prussian

Infantry: 6.5 brigades (0.5 elite***)

Cavalry: 6 brigades (4 cuirassier, 2 dragoon)

Croats: 2 brigades (each 2 battalions) NOTE THERE WERE NO CROATS FIGHTING FOR PRUSSIA

Hussars: 1 weak unit (possibly only 1 strength point)

Heavy guns: 5 batteries

*** this will be a weak brigade starting with only 2 strength points

I'll probably have a look again at the orders of battle in the Duffy books to see if it leads me to any different conclusions. The disparity in heavy guns looks odd.

The two sides will start with 4 subordinate generals, plus the commander-in-chief, both of whom will be deemed 'Good' and earn extra Order Chips.

Victory Points

Will be 1 per unit or general removed. The Prussians will win a major victory if they inflict 7 VPs on the Austrians. If they inflict fewer than this but hold Lobositz town and have cleared the Lobosch at the end of  X turns, they will have gained a tactical victory. Otherwise the Austrians win. The Austrian win becomes major if they remove 8 Prussian units.


I think that is everything, I have the orbats and the map worked out. I have the rule modifications more or less sorted out. I just need to find time to set it up and play. A bientôt mes amis!

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Book acquisitions

I had a little spree recently on the Oxfam online shop. The books arrived over the last few days and now join the pile of unread material.

Unfortunately they’ll have to wait a while as I started reading LOTR again in the meanwhile. Progress has been slow as I spent most of 3 days in bed* with the ‘lurgy’ (not Covid). Whilst a day laid up might sound like a great opportunity to read I could only manage a few pages at a time before I wanted to go back to sleep again.

Anyway here they are (joining one book from a previous order that I haven’t read since it arrived).

This is an excellent book and got me on my way with a he ECW 3 years ago. I’ve had it from the library a couple of times, so I feel less guilty about it sitting unread for a while.

A couple of old books with that really thick paper they used to use. The Rupert book is a 1934 edition - newish compared to the Henty book.

Dedication inside the Henty book. I first heard of this book a few years ago on another blog (which one escapes me). It’s one of FOUR novels published in 1898 by Henty!

A couple of volumes that are the nearest I’ve got to primary sources for the ECW. Both are from the Royalist dude, late is him the first Civil War.

* this has dealt as a blow to my exercise target for September. So my watchword is ‘make hay while the sun shines’. I.E. get out there when I can.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Prinz Eugen Playtest - the Combat of Zinna - Report

I played through the Combat of Zinna using Max Foy's Prinz Eugen hex-based rules for the War of the Spanish Succession. As Zinna was a SYW game I made a few tweaks to account for the slightly different troop types and capabilities.

(1) I treated skirmishers as normal infantry for firing but gave them a starting status of 2. Also I made it no harder to hit them with firing since I thought that this would make them too powerful. My rationale was that lots of lead flying around would make them more wary of popping up to reload and shoot. There's probably a better way to represent skirmishers, but it worked OK. 

(2) I gave non-Prussian light cavalry a starting status of 2 as opposed to the normal 3 (I'm sticking with the WRG that Prussian hussars were battle cavalry in the SYW). I would have given Prussian lights a minus if they came up against heavies in the first round of combat.

(3) I treated dragoons as heavy cavalry for the SYW. No bonus given for cuirassiers over dragoons, though this was a decision driven by the wish to make a game of it, rather than an effort to reflect historical quality.

(4) I gave heavy guns (12 pounders in this case) a longer range, increasing it from 4 to 6 hexes (1200 paces) representing the incremental improvements in gun technology and professionalism in the intervening 50 years.

(5) I allowed brigade orders to apply for firing as well as moving.

I didn't make any use of formation changing, stacking or spanning. This was mainly to keep it simpler for myself on a first play through.

The game lasted under two hours, and that included checking the main rules every now and again. Partly this was because the action was a small one. Partly it was because it was easy to remember the sequence and factors in tables. Including 3 generals, the Prussians had 15 units and the Imperialists 22 (including 3 generals). To even things up a bit I made the Prussian general Wunsch good (extra command chip) and the Imperialist St André poor (minus 1 command chip). This meant both sides got a basic stack of 6 command chips per turn. * VP target for the Prussians was 7 and the Imperialists target was 5 based on 1/3 of the total units. The rules were pretty clear, although I did discover I'd made a couple of mistakes later on (one more serious than the other, and that was due to my inattention). So kudos Monsieur Foy!

Do the rules give a reasonable representation of linear warfare? Yes. Can you pick them up and learn them quickly? Yes. They would probably play well for armies of up to say 30 units a side (including generals as units). This would mean a relatively small or medium sized action in terms of historic battles. For larger actions you could consider the units as regiments of infantry (large cavalry regiments) or even as whole brigades. In that case I would probably do away with ranged combat for infantry as the ground scale would be smaller, and subsume infantry firing into close combat with suitable tweaks.

The game itself was a close run thing in the sense that either side could have won it in what turned out to be the final turn. First blood went to the attacking Prussians who had some lucky shooting forcing the left wing Imperial cavalry to retreat and wiping out one infantry battalion.


Set-up. Prussians to the right, Imperialists to the left. I used Prussian musketeers for the mostly blue clad Imperial foot, and fusileers and grenadiers for the Prussians (since that is what their units were on this occasion). In the end I forgot to make any distinction in quality. Wunsch has a unit of hussars sneaking behind the village.

The Imperial left (top) has taken a battering and their right wing slowly reaches the stream and begins to cross. Square bases in front of the Imperialists are their battalion guns. Foot units are two bases of 24 figures, so almost 'Charge' sized units. Cavalry are 2 bases of 10. Instead of command chips I am using 'ADC' figures and casualty figures instead of hit markers.

Having gone into an early lead of 4 units to 1, the Prussians begin to suffer the withering fire of the Kaiserlicks, most of whom have battalion guns. You can see the ragged nature of some 'unformed' units and the casualty markers. Lots of Prussian units are on the verge of collapsing.


Top left, the Prussians have bent back the Imperialists left flank but the foot unit with 2 casualty markers fled from contact rather than let the Prussian hussars cut them up. This was a vital point in retrospect as the Austrians had lost 6 units (including one general). In the centre a unit of Imperial cavalry have penetrated the Prussian line, swept away a nit of skirmishers and are about to run amok. They choose to attack the third Prussian battalion whilst their infantry comrades shoot at the nearest two. The combined effect of this turn is that the Imperialists sweep to victory, err... 6-6 (see above *). The last unit to fall was accompanied by Wunsch himself (a 1 was rolled on 'risk to general') so 2 VPs in one combat.

The previously mentioned Imperial cavalry (circled) next to a gap where two Prussian infantry units had been. You can see the 3 other Prussian line infantry are teetering on the brink too (2 losses each - 3 means elimination). Other than that, all the Prussians have left are the hussars and two units of skirmishers (top left) and a battery (top right) and a battered dragoon unit (off camera). Maybe slightly more aggressive use of the hussars might have bagged the Prussians that extra VP needed.


So shades of Kolin here. The Prussians didn't have quite enough units to take the day, whilst possible victory was turned into defeat by the late attack by enemy cavalry riding down the exhausted bluecoats.