Sunday, 28 June 2020

The attack on Monte Lucedelsole : as it happened

We last saw the fight for Monte Lucedelsole  just beginning, with Colonel Badger's force appearing by road from the South, and running into fire from von Kleist's  German outposts in the  woods. Now we'll see how it turned out..

Badgerforce to the attack!

The game was played using Bob Cordery's  Early and Mid 20th Century Rules from 'The Developed Portable Wargame', and had the distinction of being the first figure-based WW2 wargame I had played in at least 40 years, and the first outing in that time for many of the ( vintage Airfix and Matchbox ) infantry figures involved! 
It lasted a total of 14 turns, so I will not try my readers' patience with a detailed turn-by-turn  account, just sketch the broader themes and what seemed the important events.

One quite important 'broader theme'  was that the British Commander ( me ) had not really made a thoughtful plan, and was rather improvising as he went along - which had very mixed results ( I'm almost tempted to give him a first name -  'Boris' might seem appropriate? ).   Initially he pushed his two Sherman tank units up the middle, on or close to the road, and brought on M3 half-tracks carrying infantry.  M3 'A' followed Sherman 'A' up the road, and M3 'B' headed to the right and de-bussed its infantry in front of East Wood while his MG unit ( joined by Badger himself ) hunkered down in the walled enclosure, aiming to 'shoot in' the infantry attack.  He sent his Valentine tank unit  forward on the extreme left, and brought on his field artillery ( 25-pdr and quad ) in the centre.

Von Kleist ( also  me ) had an easier job in some ways - shoot at the British when opportunities arose! On turn 2, the German field gun and their Panzer IV both opened up on the Shermans, and forced both to retreat - a taste of things to come.
Turn 3 saw the start of a good run of shooting from the Pz IV and German Infantry 1 in East Wood : taking  1 SP each from Sherman 'B' and British No.2 Infantry in front of East Wood. First blood! Those two German units would distinguish themselves further, it turned out.

Something of a 'firefight' situation continued  in the centre and at East Wood, with the Pz IV doing a splendid job of shooting up Shermans ( two SPs taken from Sherman 'B' by turn 4 )  and German No.1 Infantry unit scoring telling hits on British Infantry No.2 from East Wood ( also 2 SPs ), while the British MG unit threw some pretty poor dice in its attempts to suppress the defenders. The British Field Gun did manage to help, taking 1 SP off the German infantry.  By the end of Turn 5,  losses amounted to : British 4 SPs,  Germans 1 SP.

Turn 5 : Shermans rather 'at bay', British infantry shot up ( 2p piece inidcates 'pinned' )

On the left at West Wood, Badger decided to reinforce by sending M3 'B' forward again, carrying Infantry Unit No.3, giving him two motorised infantry and his Valentine tank against the German No.1 MG unit. But the Machine Gunners were not just sitting there, and successfully 'strafed' M3 'A' and its mounted Infantry unit No.1, forcing a retreat AND taking 1 SP - which under the rules  meant 1 SP from BOTH the M3 and the Infantry - ouch! Machine guns ( and other foot units ) can damage armoured motor transport from a range of 2 hexes, and the MG units 3 dice when firing can make them very effective!  The Valentine extracted some revenge, managing to take 1 SP from the MG, and importantly 'pin' it, reducing its effectiveness.
Losses at end of Turn 7:  British 6 SP, Germans 3 SP.

The following turn, British No.2 infantry unit got into East Wood and carried out a  'close assault' on the Germans there - who the British MG had finally managed to hit and 'pin' - this made the defenders  more vulnerable, and they took a further 1 SP loss before managing to retire on Turn 10, leaving the British in possession of East Wood. At the same time, Badgerforce also took West Wood, having dismounted Infantry unit No.3 adjacent to the 'pinned' German MG and finished them off with a close assault from the rear. Turn 9 was good for the British, as they took 3 SPs from von Kleist's troops ( including the Pz IV, hit by Sherman 'B' ) ,  thus levelling  the score at 6 SPs each.  Badger was also able to bring on his mortar unit and 6-pdr A/T gun in the centre - with the MG and 25-pdr, quite a 'fire base' being developed around the walled enlosure.

German MG 'pinned' and overrun from behind - West Wood taken!

However, German shooting continued good, and the Pz IV destroyed Sherman 'B' unit on Turn 10, and then in combination with the Pak 40 A/T gun took 2 SPs from Sherman 'A' the following turn! Despite having been forced out of East Wood, German Infantry No.1 was not downhearted, and successfully shot up British Infantry No.2 again. After that spectacular sequence of shooting, losses at end of Turn 11 were British  11 SP,  Germans 6 SP.   On turn 12, the Pz IV scored another success  when it destroyed Sherman unit 'A' - so two-thirds of British armour gone, not good at all!

Still all to play for, however, and things were going better on the British left, with the Valentine crushing the German wire and progressing beyond West Wood - now the German fortification by the road and its occupants ( von Kleist's Infantry No.2 ) were the next target, with the aim of 'rolling up' the main position from the West. Turn 13 saw a co-ordinated attack by British Infantry No.s 1 and 3 and the Valentine unit on the unfortunate German Infantry No.2 unit, which had to accept 1 SP loss rather than retreat and give up the fortification - surely they would not survive very long like that. The score at end of Turn 13 : British losses 13 SP ( exhaustion point at 17 ) , Germans 8 SP ( exhaustion at 11 ). Both sides under pressure..

Turn 13: Valentine left hook, both woods taken, but Shermans gone

And then Turn 14 - a bit of a firestorm.. both sides' field guns had been banging away with modest effect, but this turn both scored damaging hits, the 25-pdr removing 1 SP from the German A/T gun (which threatened the Valentine's progress)   and the German 105mm hitting the British MG unit, which had advanced into East Wood. The British attack on German Infantry No.2 by the road continued, with all 3 units close assaulting the 'pinned' Germans - but their dice were very poor, scoring no hits at all!  

Surely they can't hold out?

'They can't hold out for long' , thought Badger, meanwhile bringing on M3 'B' again, ferrying  the final Infantry Unit ( No.4 ) towards his right flank, and keeping up mortar fire on the German positions around the farm, making the German MG Unit No.2 retreat from its dug-in position.     

Badger reckoned without the  Germans' shooting, however.  With rather a traffic jam in the centre, he had put his half-track  M3 'B' unit within range of the German Mortar, which von Kleist himself was overseeing, and it promptly hit and took 1 SP from BOTH the M3 and its passengers in Infantry unit No.4 ;  meanwhile the much-battered German Infantry unit No.1 was not giving up its resistance in front of East Wood, and scored a hit on the British MG unit in the wood - which, having just taken a hit from German artillery, was destroyed.
That was decisive - with a stonking British 4 SPs lost ( to 1 German )  in Turn 14, the total losses were now :  British 17 SP,  Germans 9 SP.  Badgerforce had reached its Exhaustion Point - their attack must come to a halt!  And so must the game,  von Kleist being content to watch Colonel Badger's men retire, rather than risk further loss himself in some sort of pursuit.   Heroes of the German hour were their lone Pz IV tank, which scored 5 SPs of hits in its duel with  the two British Sherman units, losing only 1 SP itself, and their Infantry Unit No.1 which survived being Machine-gunned and close assaulted, was forced out of its position in East Wood, but did not give up,  kept shooting, and delivered the final coup de grace to the British MG unit, which spelt the end of the whole affair.  

With my Colonel Badger hat on, I think I need to go back to tactical training school!  Just pushing the Shermans up the middle did very little good except to get them shot up, and I should have directed more effort at taking both woods first, then using them as jump-off points for attacks on the hilltop position - the centre was just an open killing ground which I blundered into. Having said that, wearing the von Kleist hat, perhaps I should have put all my Infantry and MGs 'up front' in the two woods to give the British a harder time attacking them, keeping the hilltop as a firebase for the artillery, A/T gun and mortars. 
Final situation : if only that M3 had stayed back..

Conclusions:  the main one was that I had a lot of fun! I was very happy with Bob's rules, which might well be described as  'deceptively simple'.  Within a few moves I had memorised the Shooting and Close Combat dice modifiers, and could almost instantly work out the 'to hit' score for each unit. Movement rates and ranges are also very simple, especially counting in 'Grid Areas' ( hexes, in this case). 
I found the rules subtle, as well as simple.  I liked the 'pinning' concept which felt true to modern combat, and makes combined assaults work in the right way - one unit can try to 'shoot in' another's attack, hoping to 'pin' the defender and allow a close assault to go in with better effect. See the example of German Infantry unit No.2, which could not retreat for fear of losing its cover, but then had to take an SP loss and suffer pinning, allowing its attackers to storm in. You can 'unpin' a unit , but it takes a whole activation, and can't be done if adjacent to the enemy.   

Machine gun units with their 3 dice for shooting can be particularly deadly against 'soft' targets - but cannot kill tanks, to which they are vulnerable in close assault, having only 1 dice then.  Armoured Transport protects its passengers against infantry fire, but only at ranges over 2 grid areas, and woe betide them if hit and suffering SP losses, as these affect both transport and passenger units. The British lost 4 SPs this way when their M3s were shot up by German MGs and mortars - significant casualties. One thing I would think about adding to the rules would be some concept of 'spotting' - as it stands, units in woods for example can presumably be fired on with no requirement to 'spot' them first, even if they have not revealed their position by opening fire. Bob does have rules on 'line-of-sight' when firing, and he has rules for the use of smoke - which was another thing Colonel Badger needs to go back and revise !

So there we have it: my first WW2 game since the 1970s - which were closer in time to WW2 than we are now to the 1970s. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope to do more, as the descendents of my Seven Years War commanders continue the family feud up and down Italy. I hope you've enjoyed reading my account, and if considering 'The Portable Wargame' , I hope it's been useful!  
Keep well, everyone, until  next time.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

The Attack on Monte Lucedelsole : opening shots

Having put together some basic WW2 forces to contest some mostly imaginary parts of sunny Italy, 1943-44, I thought I'd give 'Badgerforce' and 'KampfGruppe Von Kleist' their first encounter.  A simple attack/defence scenario, with Colonel Badger of the West Suffolks tasked with taking the small hilltop farm at Monte Lucedelsole, dug in around which are a detachment of Oberst von Kleist's force.

Here is the battlefield, looking North, with von Kleist's little force ready and waiting:

Von Kleist awaits..

The picturesque ancient farm of Monte Lucedelsole sits on its modest hill overlooking  the road to the nearby administrative hub of Cittagrande. What armies may have tramped this dusty highway since it was built, for the long-passed Roman Legions?  Now the British are known to be heading this way. Von Kleist is ready to slow their progress with the following small force - denominated in Strength Points (SPs) for Bob Cordery's rules from 'The Developed Portable Wargame' for the Early and Mid-20th Century:

    Commander: Oberst Von Kleist.  6 SP
    Two Infantry units @ 4 SP each = 8 SP
    Two Machine-Gun units @ 2 SP each = 4 SP
    One Mortar unit @ 2 SP
    One Field Gun ( 105mm ) unit    @ 2 SP
    One Medium Anti-Tank Gun  ( 75mm PAK 40 )  unit @ 2 SP
    One Medium Tank ( Pzkpfw IV ) unit @ 3 SP
    Three grid areas Fieldworks @ 1 SP each = 3 SP
    Three grid areas Barbed Wire @ 1 SP each = 3 SP
A total of 9 units with 33 SPs, with Exhuastion Point at a loss of 11 SPs. All units rated Average.

Von Kleist places a 'first line' of outposts in the woods South of the farm, with No.1  MG unit in West Wood and No.1  Infantry unit in East Wood. Behind West Wood and close to the road, Infantry Unit No.2 is dug into fortifications, and on the hill are stationed ( left to right )  the A/T gun, Mortar unit, MG unit No. 2 and the Field Gun unit, with the mortar and MG behind fortifications and Von Kleist himself directing the mortar team. Finally the Pzkpfw IV lurks at the foot of the hill,  behind East Wood. Two barbed-wire entanglements were placed in front of the hill to slow down any direct assault, and the third to obstruct the passage around the far side of West Wood. 

Rumbling up the Via Lucedelsole come the British of Badgerforce, unnder orders to secure the little hilltop farm and ensure safe passage of the road.  They are equipped as follows:

    Commander : Colonel Badger,  6 SP
    Four Infantry units @ 4 SP each = 16 SP
    One Machine Gun unit @ 2 SP
    One Mortar unit @ 2 SP
    Two Armoured Motorised Transport ( M3 Half-track ) units @ 3SP each = 6 SP
    One Field Gun ( 25-Pdr ) unit  @ 2 SP ,
    and one Motorised Transport ( Quad Tractor ) @ 2 SP
    One Light Anti-Tank Gun (6-Pdr) unit @2 SP,
    and one Armoured Motorised Transport (Bren Carrier) unit @ 3 SP
    Three Medium Tank ( two Sherman M3 , one Valentine ) units @ 3 SP each = 9 SP.

    A total of  16 units with 50 SPs, Exhaustion Point at a loss of 17 SPs. All units rated Average.

Badger doesn't know for sure that there will be opposition at the farm, but is taking no chances, leading his column with his Sherman tanks, followed by the M3 half-tracks carrying two of his infantry units.

To give a little variation in the command sequence I used a variation on Bob's card-driven solo play option from 'The Portable Wargame' : each turn the British would draw a card from a pack containing only cards of value 7, 8 or 9  ( half their number of units, plus and minus one ), allowing them to activate 7, 8 or 9 units; and the Germans would draw from their pack containing only cards of value 4, 5 and 6, allowing them to activate that number of units. Moving a transport unit with infantry unit on board, or towing a gun, would count as two activations.
Initiative - i.e who went first each turn - would be decided by a simple opposed  dice roll. On turn one, the British would automatically go first, to enter the table. 

Without further ado, on Turn One (Badger having drawn an 8 card) 'Badgerforce' leading elements arrived from the South via the road: Sherman 'A' and M3 'A' (Carrying infantry unit No.1 ) straight up the road, and Sherman 'B' and M3 'B' ( carrying Infantry unit no.2 ) moving East  from the road, towards East Wood. MG unit No.1, accompanied by Badger himself, arrived on foot and occupied the walled enclosure ( which you may notice has slightly changed shape, sorry! ) , to support any move on East Wood. In the absence of 'spotting' rules, I decided the British would not fire at any units in cover on Turn One - and no other units were in range.

Enter 'BadgerForce'

Von Kleist in his turn drew a 4 card, and moved his tank forward, just behind East Wood, from where Infantry unit No.1 opened the firing, aiming at the British MG - and missed. He took no other action - his MG unit in West Wood could not do any damage to the looming Sherman or M3 at the current range. And so, let battle commence..

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Further Frederician ( and Maurician ) Reading

'War is a science replete with shadows in whose obscurity one cannot move with an assured step...
 All sciences have principles and rules. War has none.'

Time and Space have been limited recently, always time and space.  However, browsing my shelves yesterday, I found these two books, which I had forgotten all about.  Given current interests, they are must-reads!  Both are slim volumes, too, so they  will also be quick reads.  

Frederick's Instructions from 1747/48  were actually a top-secret manual for his commanders, only 50 copies printed and issued to trusted officers  who were ordered, on oath, not to take it with them in the field. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for posterity, one General Czettertiz was captured by the Austrians in 1760 with his copy of the book, which was promptly published throughout Europe!

Maurice de Saxe's Reveries seem to be a more fanciful affair, 'composed over 13 nights: I was sick; thus it very probably shows the effects of the fever I had.. Done in the month of December, 1732' . He describes his ideal military organisations, compared with  the reality of the time - hence the suggestion of  bodies such as 'Legions' and 'Centuries'  inspired by Roman organisations.  However,  'This work was not born from a desire to establish a new method of the art of war; I composed it to amuse and instruct myself'.   I have made a start on reading him: only 120 pages, but it positively fizzes with ideas and memorable phrases. Recruitment, pay, food, clothing, marching, all are  covered, before battle is joined.  I was interested to see that  he was very sceptical of the effects of massed volleys of musketry, much preferring the charge with cold steel. 'I have never seen..a single discharge do enough violence to keep the troops from continuing forward and avenging themselves with bayonet and shot at close quarters'. 

Both books are from Dover Publications of Mineola, New York, and both appear to have been very reasonably priced when I bought them from Foyles, albeit probably 10 years ago. I'm enjoying the Reveries already, and look forward to the no doubt more sober, but no less interesting Instructions. Both will, I trust, provide great background knowledge for my further adventures in The Portable Seven Years' War.

Meanwhile next time, I think we'd better see how the D-Day dodgers are getting on..  Keep well, everyone.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Where Next with the Seven Years War ? Rules and Regulations part 2

"I didn't have time to write a short letter; so I wrote a long one instead" - Mark Twain *.

Last time I looked at some older sets of rules that might be fun to use for Seven Years War gaming;  this time I will be thinking  about some more recent rules. This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive review/survey   - it's simply a look at the various rules I have picked up in the past few years - and not actually played, I should make clear.  Writing this post has been an exercise in looking at  the rules, and thinking about how they seem to work, which has been useful for me, at least! I hope others may find some interest and benefit, too.

 'Gentlemen and Philosophers' indeed..

First  'Maurice', ( published 2012 )  from  Sam A. Mustafa. Sub-titled 'War in the Age of Gentlemen and Philosophers 1690-1790', a sentiment  I rather like.  The name of course , comes from Maurice de Saxe ( 'An original. A thinking man's general' ). It's a nicely illustated softback book of 112 pages, with lots of good clear diagrams and photos of figures - painted much better than I will ever manage, of course!
The main feature of the game is that command is  card-driven.  Oops , I am rather wary of this sort of thing; I really like the 'Commands and Colours' games, but get very frustrated when I end up with a hand full of cards that only allow me to order units on the left wing, when the enemy is overrunning my right. However, 'Maurice' looks a bit more subtle than that.  Cards are used to activate  a 'force',  which is a  group of one or more units close to each other and looks  analagous to, say,  a Brigade or perhaps a 'wing'.  The force can be ordered to 'Charge', 'March', 'Bombard' or 'Rally', and there can be a 'Volley' phase for musketry before the action is played. Interestingly 'Volley'  seems to allow all eligible units on the table ( on either side )   to fire  muskets;   won't that mean an awful lot of firing when forces get close to each other?  Things may get quite bloody!

'Maurice'  action cards look nice

Crucially the Action Cards have a 'span' value which determines the maximum distance  that the activated  force can be from the commander - so you have  to play cards with span values adding up to that distance.  That means that  moving your commander to the right place is going to be important:  I quite like this concept, it gives you agency but makes you think about where you allocate your command effort, which feels 'right'.  The cards also give some bonus effects, as you can see, and some can be played as one-off 'events'. One drawback for me, perhaps, is that I am likely to be playing solo, and there are opportunities to play cards as 'interrupts' to the other player's turn -  which doesn't really work for solo players, so an important piece of the game-play may be difficult for me.

Some basics as follows:   Troops are on 'bases' -  'Units' have 4 bases for Infantry and Cavalry, one base for Artillery.  For 25/28mm figures,   6 Infantry or 2 Cavalry  on a 50mm square base is suggested, so 24 foot or  8 horse to a unit - but  the number of figures on a base is not important, and the base size can vary as long as it's consistent for both sides.  So  I can't see any need to re-base lots of troops.  A Unit 'can represent a single battalion, or two, or a  brigade of several battalions',  so you can vary the unit scale according to your scenario. Distances are measured in Base Widths ( BW ) - infantry  in line moves 4BW.  Fire is 'volley' ( muskets and artillery canister fire ) at up to 4BW range,   or 'Bombardment' ( artillery at long range ) from 4BW to 24BW - what could be simpler?

The combat mechanisms also look  simple: for example, an infantry unit in line firing at a similar unit in the open would roll one 'D6' die per base, needing a basic 4 ,5 or 6 to hit (modifiers for cover, enfilade etc),  then 'roll to disrupt' another D6 for each hit, needing 4, 5 or 6 to score a disruption point on 'Trained' troops.  So our 4-base unit volley might expect to score 2 hits, and inflict 1  disruption point, on average.   The target unit can survive one disruption per base ( i.e.  4 disruptions for infantry ) but will break if any more disruptions are inflicted.

For the army as a whole, there's a  morale system not a million miles from Bob Cordery's 'Exhaustion Point' - the army starts with a morale score of one per unit  and may lose 1, 2 or 3 points per broken unit. When the Army Morale reaches zero, it's all over;  so I guess you'd expect the army to break if it lost about half its units - not so very far from Bob's  'Exhaustion Point' at one-third of total Strength Points.

There are basic and optional advanced rules,  3 historical scenarios ( Kolin, Brandywine and Fontenoy), and an abstract 'campaign' system which just looks like a round-robin series of games.  The back cover suggests 2-3 hours for a game, 10-16 units per side and table size 6 x 4 feet to 8 x 5 feet, which I have not got, - that's getting a bit 'Charles Grant'!

'Maurice' example pages - combat examples

Overall this looks interesting: I was a bit discouraged at first by the card-driven system, but it might be rather effective, forcing the player to think about where to expend command effort, and where Maurice needs to place himself to inspire the troops most effectively. If you have a lot of low-value cards, I guess it means Maurice and/or his aides  are having a bit of an off day - too much pre-battle carousing?  It feels like a sort of 'Volley and Bayonet with clever command system' - quite appealing. I am strongly  tempted to try these out.

HOWEVER right now I would have some problems - at the moment I have a 3 x 3 feet table size,   and not enough figures for 24-man units. Can I 'shrink' this system?  How about smaller base sizes?  If 1 BW = 25mm  and one infantry base is 2 figures, then line infantry have 8 figures  per unit and  move (and fire)  100mm - about the same as I have been using with 'The Portable 7YW'.  It might work..  One final point to be aware of is cost - it looks like in the UK now it would be about £40 for the rulebook and cards - admittedly these are nicely enough produced, but that's not cheap. I note that you can buy a cheaper 'e-document' version from Sam Mustafa's website. 

Next,  'Honours of War' by Keith Flint,  from Osprey publishing. I like Keith's blog, so I was interested to see his rules, and happy to buy them and give him a bit of money - and in contrast to Maurice, the cost of these is £11.99 for a standard 'Osprey-size' book.

This is a more conventional wargame, I suppose - not a card-driven game.  Keith specifies ground, time and figure scales -  1mm to 1 pace,  1 move is 10 minutes ( which allows for plenty of 'dressing lines, awaiting clear orders'  etc),  and a 600 man battalion is represented by 20 figures.   That battalion is made up of 5 bases, each of 4 figures at 25/28mm scale, with the base 40mm square.  A Cavalry regiment has 4 bases  each of 2 figures on a 50mm square - so in both cases the frontage is 200mm.  

Keith is happy to say that base an unit sizes can be different if that suits you - his 'rule of thumb' advice being that an infantry battalion in line should have about the same frontage as a cavalry regiment in line, and that frontage should also equal the maximum firing range of 'musket-only' infantry - and from that, I take it that other distances could be modified if necessary. I am so glad that rule writers recognise what a pain it can be to re-base figures!

The units are considered to be organised into Brigades, of 2 to 8 units , each with a commander figure, and must remain close to each other and to the commander,  or suffer penalties to their performance.  A few units may be deemed  'independent' of the brigade organisation. The brigades are important in the game -  during a game turn, the  players take  turns to move , fire or melee with a single brigade ( or an independent unit ).  Before moving a brigade, a die roll (modified by their commander's capabilities - rather charmingly 'dithering', 'dependable' or 'dashing' )  decides their 'command performance' and may result in extra movement, no movement or even retreats!  As with 'Maurice', moving your commander-in-chief  to the optimum position is important   - in this case because he  can direct and improve the performance of a nearby brigade. 

Movement and combat again looks  pretty straightforward. An infantry battalion in line moves 20cm; cavalry in line 30cm.   In our example of an infantry battalion in line firing at a similar unit, musket range is 20cm ( extended to 30cm if battalion guns are in use ) , short range being  up to 10cm.   Each firing unit rolls just one average die, with modifiers applied, and a 'hit table' gives the results.  Our typical battalion, assuming no modifiers , at short range on a roll of 3 would score 2 hits,  and at long range just 1 hit.  Hits are cumulative on a unit - on reaching 3 hits they incur a -1 modifier for firing and melee,  on 4 hits they must retreat at least one move, and on 5 hits they are 'Done For'  ( I do like Keith's terminology ) and will rout.  From the look of that, I'd guess that with decent dice rolls it will  take 2 or 3 good volleys to damage an enemy unit or force it to retreat, so I think combat may be quite fast and furious!   However there is some  hope for battered units, as there is a 'Rally' phase where units can 'rally off' hits, as long as they are at least 30cm from the enemy.

Victory is decided by 'Army Breaking Points' - a pattern seems to be emerging - essentally a number based on the number of units divided by 2, and 1 point is lost for every normal unit 'Done For'.   The army is broken when the number of points lost reaches the breaking point; so again a loss of about half the units means the game is lost.

'HoW' Example page: that's Botta Regiment on the left,
which I need to get on with painting..

Following the basic rules, there is  quite a large section on 'National Differences'  covering all the major powers ( Prussia, Austria, Britain, Russia, France )  and several minor ones ( Saxony, Sweden, the Reichsarmee ) and including advice on 'imagi-nations'.  There is a suggested 'points system' if you really must have a 'balanced' game, and a section on using smaller figure scales.  Move and fire distances etc in the body of the rules assume 25/28mm figures, but this section advises on other scales right down to 6mm, with suggested base sizes and distance reductions - and useful tables of them all.

Finally four scenarios, of which three are fictional and the last is for Lobositz , which has about 20 units per side ( using 'bathtubbing' such that one unit on the table reperesents about three actual units )  - so quite a large enterprise.   The introductory scenario 'The Combat of St. Ulrich'  uses 5 units vs. 4 , each side having a single infantry brigade with attached gun battery, and one independent cavalry regiment. I reckon I could probably do that, with my current forces.

I like the look of these rules, and I like their value for money too - they  are 'old school' in that respect at least! Everything is covered by a standard 64-page Osprey softback with the production quality you would expect from them,  using illustrations from other  Osprey titles on the period and nice photos of figures ( from Crusader Miniartures and James Roach, aka Olicanalad), with a decent amount  of background information on troop types and the quite extensive 'national differences' section , though of course the latter is optional.   The rules seem sensible and relatively simple - Keith admitted on his blog that Stuart Asquith said these rules 'made his brain hurt'  , but of course Stuart liked very simple rules , so I don't think we should take that as a criticism!  

Finally I note that Keith,  ( perhaps stung by Stuart's comments ?! )  has produced a free set of more basic rules for the period, called 'Post of Honour' which you can download from his blog.  I will be taking a look at those too, I think.

Just for fun, I tried temporarily basing an infantry battalion and a cavalry regiment for 'Honours of War'. Here are some Jagers in regular line formation, and von Kleist's Uhlans.  I think they look like 'proper' units. 

'Honours of War' : example units

Well, that all went on a bit long, sorry about that but I hope it's been worthwhile.  Poor Henry Hyde, I was going to look at his 'Shot, Steel and Stone' rules too..  another time, perhaps.

Meanwhile I hope you're all keeping well.

* With apologies,  I thought this would be a short snappy  effort, but once I got going.. so much for the 'teach yourself Hemingway style'  lessons, then..