Monday, June 13, 2011

Prepping for Ligny, 1815!

So as I mentioned in a previous post Nigel Marsh the creator of the Napoleonic Rules system "Carnage & Glory II" has invited me to participate in the 20th anniversary game of the "Battle of Ligny, 1815" on June 18th in Norwalk, CT (See announcement).  I for one can't think of a better Father's Day present and so my significant other has graciously allowed me to partake in the festivities.  It wasn't a hard sell for her to say "YES" after attending the "Mumford & Son's" concert for her birthday present!  I'd like to say it was all part of my "Master Plan", which I suppose it was a bit, except it probably is more due to timing than anything else really.  If there's one thing I've learned in "Love and War" it's that you have to know when to "Pick & Choose your battles"!

The picture from Nigel's Yahoo Group! See link

Below is a copy of Nigel's invitation explaining all the details;

The ECONO Lodge has recently been refurbished!

Nigel has already posted some pictures of the battlefield;
St.Amand/St.Amand Long Prez

Ferme La Haye


St.Amand Aerial

Le Hameau/Wagnelee

Wagnelee Prussian Perspective

St.Amand/La Haye French perspective
St.Amand French Perspective

St.Amand French Perspective w/ some troops forming up!

St.Amand/La Haye Prussian Perspective

I'm seriously looking forward to this event as I'll be unable to attend HISTORICON this year!  This will be the first game that I've ever played Prussian forces in in over 30 yrs of wargaming. "Wish me Luck"

The game's main interface screen

Here is where "Carnage & Glory II rules can be purchased;

This is a very nice write up of the gaming system;

I have some comments on the rules for those who are unfamiliar with them.

I have recently been using "Carnage and Glory" computer moderated rules to resolve battles. I've tried many computer rules over the years and never found a set that was satisfying to play. However these are quite the opposite. Very fast and easy to use, yet they provide a very good game in which the computer keeps track of many things that could not be done in normal rules without slowing the game down. As a result the players can concentrate on the tactics and how the battle is run.

There is also a quite considerable 'fog of war' element that makes the game rather interesting. You may know you are hitting the other side and possibly hurting, but you cant be really sure how much you are hurting, nor can you be sure what effect it is having on the morale of the other side. Because of the multiple variables all sorts of things can happen. In one battle I had some really crappy units defending my Prussian left flank. They came under heavy attack by some rather good Swedish troops. One Prussian unit required the general to be attached to rally them. The result was that they held on and held on, repulsed three assaults on them, suffered enormous casualties and eventually retired in good order. (Because the computer remembers... their heroic action resulted in their morale grade has been improved for future games)
But the down side was that while the general was holding them in place he lost control of his other units and these fled! It also remembers troops that did badly, so one of my better Swedish units had dropped down a grade.

In campaign games the status of a unit can carry over from one battle to the next, so they can gain (or decline) in combat status and the number of troops remaining kept track of. Yet if wished you can add replacements. All up the rules work very well and I am very pleased with the games that result.

Rick and I are doing a game tonight that is part of 'The little war' (kleinerKrieg) in Germany during the seven years war. Russian units are raiding a Prussian town for forage and are being engaged by a Prussian force that was on its way to forage in the same town. Lots of cossacks and dubious light troops and volunteer 'friekorps' on both sides will make it interesting as the computer variations will handle all these varied troops easily, keep track of them, and through variations, produce some surprises as units react better or worse than expected.

Things taken into account are how tired the troops get doing various things, the effect of the weather on them, their morale, ammunition status, local leadership, over all leadership, cover, formation, casualties, capture of flags, engineering and so on. I've never seen a set of normal rules that could take into account so many variables without being painfully slow to use, whereas Carnage and Glory really rattles along.

Each unit you enter has a unique number that identifies them to the program. Although only one number is provided I found it easier to print out duplicates. That enabled me to put a number on the front and the back of the unit command base. That way it can almost certainly be seen easily and makes it quick to enter its id number into the computer during a game. The names of units are still applied in the listings, but the id number is vital in playing the game. So it retains the personal touch of unit names, but the number provides a convenient reference for the computer program.

It takes some time and patience to enter all one's units into the program in the first place, but you only have to do that once. If you paint up a new unit, you enter that on the end of the list so that the numbers of the others don't change. Even when entering the data it produces really individualized units through multiple choices of factors, or if preferred you can go for a randomrating. It is possible to have a unit that are excellent shots, yet terrible in hand to hand fighting. Conversely you can have one that loves the bayonet, but cant hit the side of a barn with musketry! Skirmishing or close order is handled well too.

Formation changes the unit is capable of making are part of the program, but you can find a crappy unit getting disordered while trying to do something and having to sort itself out.....or a really elite unit performing the same formation, change vary snappily and in less time than expected. Then again depending on the unit the command may decide not to do what you want and do something different.

Example:- in one battle I told a unit of crack Prussian grenadiers to go into square when charged by cavalry. Considering the short distance the cavalry had to charge the unit command elected not to do what I had said. Instead it remained in line and proceeded to blow the charging cavalry out of their saddles! But a less disciplined
unit did obey and got caught out of formation and in disorder when some cavalry
charged them.

When you open the program there are already many armies listed and entered up. This enables one to just rename them to suit ones own army if wished and get straight into a game. That certainly speeds up the entering of ones armies but after a while I found I enjoyed entering my armies myself and individualizing the units. Its kind of fun to do. I even used the Duffy book on the Prussian army of the seven years war, where the units are given the ratings Frederick the Great himself applied, based on how they had done in his various campaigns.

The generals also have considerable variation in their ability and one can model them on real life personalities. With generals I did much the same thing across various books, so the British general Lord George Sackville who was brave, but noted for his dithering at the battle of Minden is a good leader in actual combat but slow and unreliable when making wider decisions.

Von Seydlitz is a wonderful combat leader and very inspirational when rallying the cavalry, but not so good when making strategic decisions. Von Hacke is a great leader of units in a strategic sense, but when rallying broken troops or leading them in close combat has the inspirational effect of a squashed slug. So it goes on and its fun to have each officer so closely personalized, or if wished you can simply choose to randomize their ability. Many come already listed in the game depending on the era you choose.