Tuesday, August 22, 2017


     Anyone who wants to add a little Frederician flavor to their next game of Battles from the Age of Reason, give these House Rules a spin, compliments of the My Daily Dragoon staff.


1) Attack column: Does not exist.

2) Square: A unit cannot enter square formation except as a Reaction move.

3) Reaction Moves: Units can react to the approach of enemy infantry in the same way as they can to enemy cavalry.

4) Target Size Fire Modifier: 1R per every 3 SPs above 6 in a hex.
0-6 = No Shift
7-9 = 1R
10-12 = 2R
13+ = 3R

5) During Fire Combat, units take a MC on both even and odd die rolls.

6) Close Combat: Only 4 Infantry SPs can attack/defend from a hex. 
Only 6 Cavalry SP s can attack/defend from a hex.
(All units in a stack share the same retreat/rout results.)

7) Infantry can stack and form line in 3 hexes, thus X-ST-X. (X = hex extended into. ST = 2 or more stacked units.) In this configuration, 5 SPs can fire/attack from a hex. (Otherwise, only 4 as normal -- or just make 5 the standard if that's easier.) Regardless of the size of the stacked units, spread the SPs as evenly as possible. (2 units of 700 each is spread 5-4-5.) A minimum of 4 SPs per hex. A stack must consist of at least 12 SP.
     When stacked, each unit is treated as a separate unit. When a Disorder Check is called for, each takes the check separately, etc.
     The unit on top of the stack is considered to occupy the left and middle hex. The unit on the bottom occupies the right and middle hex. If a middle hex is fired upon, randomly determine which unit takes a single hit. Split multiple hits evenly.

8) Army Morale: Keep track of casualties and morale on the brigade-by-brigade basis. Do not keep track of army morale or total casualties.
+5 to MC die rolls per 10% casualties. (For example, a brigade has 5 units of 6 SP each, for a total of 30 SP. When 15 SP have been checked off, all MCs for that brigade have a +25 ER modifier.)
+2 per Initiative level for a leader that is killed. (The death of a leader with a “4” Initiative incurs a +8 mod.)
Calculate morale at the beginning of each turn.

9) Command Control: An Out of Command Command Leader takes an Initiative check as normal to Activate. If it passes, its formation acts normally. If it fails, all units of this command (even units OOC) can make one action only – Change Facing (any number of hexsides), Change Formation, Move 1 hex (no facing change). Leader moves normally. Combat is unaffected. (So a unit could move 1 hex and engage in combat.)
     If a leader fails his initiative check by 1, roll a second die. If <= Initiative rating, the Leader's formation must Attack. All units move at top speed (use Rapid March, if possible) toward the nearest enemy and attempts to engage in Close Combat.
     If > Initiative Rating, the Leader's formation falls back. All units move away from nearest enemy. If facing the enemy, move backward. Otherwise, move normally (no Rapid March is required).

10) Automatic In Command: If all units of a command are in column formation, the command is automatically in command. Independent units in column/limbered can be included here.
     If >= ½ of the command's units are adjacent to an enemy unit, the command is automatically in command.

11) Light Infantry: Any fire combat number result obtained by Skirmishers, is not a step loss but a MC modifier. (Ex. A skirmisher unit scores a 3(!) against an enemy infantry. The enemy takes a MC with a +30 morale modifier and suffers no step loss. [I say (!) because it has actually happened. Yes, 300 men firing caused 300 casualties on a fresh unit...]) 

1) Frederick actually got the idea for the Attack Column by witnessing it on the battlefield when something similar formed by accident. Thereafter, he considered it a "state secret" and would occasionally order assaults by cold steel alone, no firing allowed. These assaults were uniformly unsuccessful, with whatever success they achieved being due to supporting artillery fire and not the moral effect of the infantry charge.

2) Square was rarely used on the battlefield during the SYW and only then as a result of a cavalry attack on the flank of an infantry unit. The front of an infantry unit could easily repulse a cavalry charge and when charged in the rear, the rear rank would simply about-face.

3) If a defending unit can change facing to face a charging cavalry unit, it can turn to face the ponderous advance of an infantry unit, too. It's like being run down by a steamroller.

4) If you want to form 1600-man stacks in 100-yard hexes, have at it!

5) Not enough morale-checkin going on out there!

6 & 7) This is where we get back to linear warfare and not Napoleonic warfare. You can make frontage rules regarding 4-rank lines, too, if you want. I'd just be happy with the proper frontage for your basic Prussian infantry battalion. Sometimes, you learn to set the BAR low. (Get it?)

8) The extreme right flank doesn't always know what the left is doing.

9) The BAR command rules as written are backwards. In reality, it is hard to get a leader moving, but once engaged, hard to stop. In BAR, formations are easy to move around, harder to engage. The "failing by 1" thing is just for fun.

10) A body in motion stays in motion. A body in combat stays in combat.

11) A truer depiction of skirmishers than BAR's little killing machines.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


     What an eventful, and slightly crazy, first hour. Though making progress, the French are taking grievous losses to artillery fire -- mainly, but not only, from the Bagration Fleches. Their 12-hex range "Positional" artillery, the 27-18-9 guys, are killers. The French have lost a number of artillery increments to "ricochet" without ever having had a chance to unlimber. When that artillery chit is drawn, you can't help but wince a little.
     Here's the overall situation:

     The action is taking place in 3 sectors: Borodino, III Corps and the Fleches. Let's have a look at Borodino first.



     By rule, Infantry deployed in Skirmish formation must Retreat Before Assault. This spells trouble in a congested area like Borodino. After one of these retreats, the assaulting unit must advance and can, if there is a unit in front of it, declare that it is assaulting again. This led to multiple retreats and advances. This French battalion advanced all the way through the town and across the river, driving skirmishers before it. It is about to get a snootful of canister, though. Inside the orange square is one of those brutal 27 FP arty units. That'll be a 27:6 shot, +2 columns right, or -- gulp! -- 6:1. "Say 'ello to my little friend!"
     Red lines show French advances, light blue is a repulse along the steep bank, and yellow are Russian retrograde movements. Er, I mean "advances to the rear."


     III Corps is just beginning to come to grips with the enemy. Skirmishers exchange fire. The artillery slogs through the rough terrain. Marshal Ney, now Activated, will be bringing the rest of the III next turn. 


The brown lines show where some units have taken shelter in a gully.

     Just as in the real battle, General Compans, leader of the 5th Division, goes down with a wound. But, hey, a little shrapnel in the head never hurt anybody. He'll be back in an hour. 
     But in the meantime, the 5th is nothing more than a Russian pinata. (A little cultural appropriation there, methinks). General Rapp, an ADC from Napoleon's staff, takes command (as he did historically). He's an excellent leader, so I think it's just about "go-time" for the 5th. (Davout, now also Activated, is bringing up the rest of the I Corps, too.)
     Earlier in the turn, the route through the woods to the flank of the Fleches was opened by a squadron of lancers. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here's how it went down.


     Having last turn retreated before assault, this Russian Jaeger finds his hind end hanging out in midair. Something like that is hard to miss, and these Lancer's eyes light up like full moons. (Get it?) "Le Charge!!" they cry. 
     The Rooskies could have done a number of things, but they attempt to form square, which fails. This is actually a good thing, because the battalion "disrupts" back into the brush. The Lancers strike, but in the rugged terrain they are repulsed. 

     The French are calling this a moral victory, however, if not a decisive one. The path to the Fleches Flank is now open. 

     It is now 7AM. The Russians should have a nice response coming in the next hour. 
     Until then, don't take any wooden rubels!

Monday, August 7, 2017


       The first couple turns of the full battle scenario of my new favorite game, La Bataille de la Moscowa, are in the books. Well, almost. I still have the 6:20 AM Fire and Assault Phases yet to play. The Assault Phase should only take a minute or two. The Fire Phase will consist of hot Russian cannonballs slicing through Frenchmen like ninepins. Maybe that's why I put it off until later. Gulp!
     Let's have a look at the early action.

Follow the bouncing balls.
     Speaking of ninepins, here's the bowling alley. The red lines are the trajectory of Russian cannon fire from the "Bagration Fleches." This is where I made my first mistake of the day. As the French player, I forgot to bring my artillery forward on the first turn (circled in blue). This leaves the 5th division at the mercy of the Russian guns. And effective they were, too. Several disruptions, 3 increments KIA and half-a-battery of limbered artillery all shot to hell.
     The idea here was to screen my advance with my light cavalry (the blue wavy line -- the screen on the French right has been dismantled). The problem is the cannonballs go right through them, causing all sorts of havoc to my infantry columns in the rear.
     On turn 2, I started to bring the guns up and spread out my infantry, putting all my battalions in line. This will help a little.
     I want to at least get in a few shots at the Russians before launching my assault. But standing still under that fire is going to be hard.
     The 61st Bde of the 5th engages the Russian jaegers in the brush. An assault will push them back. The idea here to get through the skirmish line and attack the earthworks from the flank.
     (The little blue arrow at the top of the picture shows a confab taking place between Napoleon and two of his marshals, Davout and Ney. Davout wants to hit the Fleches with his entire 1st Corps. I think Napoleon will go for that idea.)

     At the same time, Ney's 3rd Corps struggles through the rugged terrain toward the Great Redoubt. A steep bank of a dry streambed is defended by a screen of Jaegers. The Corps artillery has one path through the woods (shown in green) and then only a single path beyond the streambed. I'd like to set the guns up at the edge of the woods and blast away for a while, but it's pretty slow going through the brush.

The Marshals meet with Napoleon's vest in an open field. Getting the okay to unleash the I and III Corps. 
I pilfered some "General Order" counters from BAR.

     17 Bde/1st Div/I Corps crosses a swampy stream towards a steep bank guarded by Russian Jaegers. That's called "doing it the hard way." With Ney coming through the woods on the right, these guys look to make Raevesky's Redoubt not so great. 30 Bde crosses the bridge and launches an assault into the village.
     At the same time, IV Corps makes for the flank. The town is held only by some light infantry. The French catch them lounging ingloriously in the town's saunas. (Russian historians will cover this up for years afterward.)
    Russian VI Corps wants to push its Jaegers into the bend of the river at the top of the screen and into the village on its far bank. Cossacks approach from the top-left, off the screen.
     Also on the Russian side, Barclay and Bagration station themselves with various Corps leaders, awaiting their chance to "activate" for a counterattack as Kutusov can't be bothered. Other ADCs and Artillery leaders move to where they might do the most good. This is probably the most challenging part of the game, both mentally and physically. (It's hard to tell one leader from another -- this is the hunt-and-peck of wargaming. Slightly annoying, but awesome!)
     Until next time, don't take any wooden nickels!

Friday, August 4, 2017


     No more screwing around. This time, I mean business!
     La Bataille de la Moscowa on one table, Advanced Squad Leader on another. And even though I just bought Revolution Road and Redvers' Reverse, I have a feeling another newcomer will soon occupy the third: 1914, Twilight in the East.

On Table 1: La Bat. I'm still working through the Shevardino scenario. Huge amount of play value in this package.
     I like La Bat more every time I play it. The rules are what wargame rules should be. They don't force you into historic tactics. Rather, they encourage you to use them; i.e., you're a fool if you don't. Many games I've played lately simply dictate this or that. This happens. Period. Why? Shut up! It just does. By the way, you're banned.
     For example, in Washington's Crossing (not to just pick on this game, of course), Rall suffers surprise automatically when Washington makes his attack. Yawn! I think we can do better, fellas. I expect better.
     That's one of the reasons I've deployed the A-team this weekend. I want to play some games that I know deliver. These two are proven winners.

On Table 2: Advanced Squad Leader. "War of the Corporals," a scenario I downloaded from the net. The boards are from Beyond Valor and counters from the original Yanks
     Besides my beloved rulebook, all that was left of my original ASL collection were American counters from Yanks and British counters from West of Alamein. I repurchased the original BV ( before I even knew there was an updated one -- d'oh!) and downloaded a bunch of new and old scenarios from the internet. I just put in an order from MMP for mapboards 1-6, so I should be up and playing some of those old classics in no time.

What is left of my ASL stash. American and British armies in sandwich bags inside a shoe box. The light! It burns! It burns! The boys have been waiting thirty years for this moment.  
Here's a pic of a page from Chapter E that came with Yanks. It's all gliders, and paratroops, and air support and rubber boats and a bunch of other stuff I never used. Look at the page here: it's in totally mint condition. The little-used counters too. The bag they're stored in still has counter chaff inside. LOL! 
     I've only played a couple turns of "War of the Corporals" and the narrative is already strong and engaging. The first turn a German HMG and a 80mm Mortar broke down. The Yanks are rapidly advancing and Jerry's cussing up a schnitzelstorm trying get them fixed.
     The unknown this weekend is 1914, Twilight in the East. I will make no snap judgments. But it's giving me that "play-me" look. Brazen hussy!

Saturday, July 22, 2017


     One of the wonders of the age we live in is the brave new world of parcel tracking. I ordered a couple of items from NWS about 2 weeks ago only to wake up this morning to see that my package was "out for delivery." Ah, those three magical words! Ever since then, I've been busy preparing my game room for the new arrival. And here's the little bundle of joy now!

The 4 Rs in situ.
      I have a lot of gaming to do, but I couldn't resist these. In the case of Redvers' Reverse, the obscurity of the topic is what got me. The fact that it is a solitaire game is icing on any already awesome cake.
     As for Revolution Road, check out the video I linked to in a previous post. People this enthusiastic about their product just have to be supported. I'm happy to do it! The producers also invoked David Hackett Fisher's Paul Revere's Ride, one of my favorite books. I won't hold it against them that they also recommended Nathaniel Philbrick -- this time. Makes me wonder. That's a pretty big lapse of judgment there, boys.
     In the gaming world, I'm looking for new blood. And this is exactly what I got. This will be my first experience with Legion -- and, if RevRoad proves not so good, my last with Compass. My previous Compasses include End of Empire (3 out of 10); On to Paris (1 out of 10);and Fornovo (1 out of 10). I have bought -- but have yet to try -- Saipan, the Bloody Rock. But looking at the errata on ConsimWorld does not fill me with confidence.
     Anyway, this is meant to be a joyous occasion, so let's be positive, shall we? Oh, yes, let's!

     Revolutionary Road

     I mean Revolution Road, the Compass Games' "Shot-Heard-Round-the-World/Don't-Shoot-Till-You-See-The-Whites-Of-Their-Eyes" double header, and not the shitty Richard Yates novel, which he more or less rewrote verbatim some years later, calling it The Easter Parade. Sometimes a guy has only one idea....Oops, digression alert! 
     Anyway, Revolution Road is actually two-two two-games-in-one! Each has its own map and rulebook. It also has the most adorable dice bag and dice I've yet seen in a game. 

The dice in their little bag are just darling! The game with the lid off: cards, Bunker Hill rulebook, adorable dice, Compass catalog. Compass is known for their high production values. This game is no different.
      Compass makes a great first impression. I can't wait to play these games. What's more, they come with solitaire rules -- and solitaire AI for both sides (which they refer to as the British Bot and the American Bot.)

Two games in one. One countersheet, a shitload of player aid cards, and 2 rulebooks. Wow! Awesome first impression. (Fornovo made an awesome first impression, too. So did End of Empire. So did On to Paris! One must learn to temper one's enthusiasm.)

      Redvers' Reverse

     I'm assuming this game is about some guy named Redvers for whom things don't go quite so well. But I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. But I do know it is a game covering the Battle of Coleso, 1899, a  Boer War action. (This is the same year both of my grandsires were born. Neither is still with us, obviously. But it's curious how extended back in time we all are...Just a thought.) 
     Legion Wargames does not share the lavish Compass Games' production values. But it's close. Real close. Only the B&W rulebook sets them apart. What the game includes are a wonderful map and truly giant-sized counters, maybe 3/4" or more. (After having set up La Bataille de la Moscowa on my table, I can really really [that's 2xreallies] appreciate the big counters. My old eyes thank you, too.) The game appears to be solitaire only.  And that's good, since I am also solitaire only.
     What I love about what I've seen so far of Legion Wargames is the obscurity of the subject matter of their games. If I'd been paying closer attention, The Battle of Tanga, 1914 would have been in this box, too. If Redvers turns out good, we'll be shrinking the rip-rap off of Tanga next for sure. (I mean ripping the shrink-wrap. I got ahead of myself there. Shrink-wrap and rip-rap are different things entirely. Shrink-wrap is where you find awesome games lurking. Rip-rap is where you find awesome largemouth bass lurking. Why I remember one spot...Oops, digression alert!!!) 

If Legion performs well here, it will have earned a permanent place in my obscure-battle-loving heart!

      Total Immersion

     I like to immerse myself in the games I play. That means reading books. I've already read Paul Revere's Ride. (Early in the book, we learn that Mr. Revere wrote the word "marsh" as "mash." It's like having his voice tape recorded! I suspect his night ride to Concord would have gone quicker if he hadn't left his khakis in the pocket of  his khakis!) 
      For Redvers' Reverse, I picked up this (.99-cents for Kindle): 

A memoir of the Boer War. Mr. Reitz regrets going to war.
     For Revolution Road, I picked up this (.99 for Kindle -- don't let some 21st century charlatan sell you a "sensitively edited" version for $15.99):

A memoir of the Revolutionary War. Mr. Martin regrets going to war. See a pattern developing here?
        Keep an eye on My Daily Dragoon for play-throughs of both of these games.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


     Preparing for the big one: The full Battle of Borodino.

The complete OOB, ready for deployment, suh!
My cardboard minions, awaiting orders.
In all its glory. 75 miles to Moscow.
First stop: Borodino. Appears to be lightly defended.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


     There's a reason I'm generally leery of snap judgments. The problem is I wanted it too bad. Seems to be a recipe for disappointment. My head knew better. My heart said otherwise. (Lousy heart...)
     If my initial reaction to On to Paris! seemed too good to be true, that's because it was.
     Here's the problem in a nutshell: The French leaders are all vastly over-rated. Remember my last post when I wasn't doing too well against them. I thought it was due to my lack of experience with the game, that I just had to try harder. Maybe if I cut off their supply first... No, the French leaders are better at reacting than their opponents. Maybe if I concentrated on picking off isolated corps...No, only bad leaders would leave corps isolated, plus the reaction thing again. There's actually nothing you can do. With all those awesome leaders, the French should never lose a single battle, unless it's due to the French player's incompetence. Once he understands the rules of the game, he should never lose. He might even contemplate taking the offensive!

Heeeeeeere's Patrice! Patrice de MacMahon, Duke of Magenta. (Apparently made Duke prior to the invention of 16-color EGA graphics.) The game treats him as though he were Napoleon himself -- and I mean I, not III! History has not been so kind.
      In every battle, you count all leaders on both sides. Almost every Prussian leader is a 0, so that's easy. 7 of 9 starting French Corps leaders are +1 or +2. So a 3 Corps per side, the Prussians start off in a -3 hole. In addition to that, the French automatically get a +2 due to -- get this -- Prussian incompetence! You've gotta be kidding me! Look, combat rolls are only 2D6. If you're getting an automatic +5, you're almost always rolling at max. 
     What's the big Prussian benefit? Artillery. At first this seems like a big deal, since the Prussians routinely double or triple the French. But while this looks impressive on paper, in practice it only accounts for maybe a +1 difference, maybe a SP or two.  

+'s are good. These look more like Napoleon I's army, not Napoleon III's.
      I don't want to make a huge deal about it. I went back and looked at Hozier's Franco-Prussian War book to see what the story is about French leadership. I highlighted a few passages until I lost heart. At some point you just have to say "F-it, I'm moving on."
     According to my reading of Hozier, most battles were lost by French leadership before they ever started. In one passage, speaking of De Failly, a leader in MacMahon's army (in the game, MacMahon is depicted as a military genius of the first order), Hozier says: "Trusting to a vague idea that the enemy were on the defensive, he neglected this obvious precaution."
     But wait! There's more....

     "A girl thirteen years of age gave, for a thaler, much useful information [to the Prussians] concerning the division of General Douay." The Prussians managed to find a source of info. It cost them a buck. Probably could've been had for some candy, if they'd had any. The French command couldn't be bothered with such trifles as reconnaissance and various forms of info-gathering. This was MacMahon again. Not Ed, either.
     "Although the fight lasted so long, no supports were sent to the French general from Marshal MacMahon."
     "For the isolation of his division [at Wissembourg] MacMahon must be held in some degree accountable."
     "[By doing this thing just mentioned] it is not impossible that a check might have been inflicted on the Prussian commander. Nothing, however, of the kind was attempted."
     "De Failly...misinterpreting orders....remained immovable while the German army was being concentrated." De Failly again. At least he's rated 0 -- the same as all the Prussian leaders who did not remain immobile (but that's another story). Note also that he is in MacMahon's army and MacMahon has a 4 reaction rating (the best on the board) and +2 re-roll rating (also best, similar to Alexander the Great presumably).
     "MacMahon...knew that the prince was marching upon him...[but] had no idea of that army's strength and was even unaware of its exact whereabouts." A 4 Reaction rating! "He had no scouts or spies thrown out, no organization of outposts, none of the precautions usually adopted by a leader of armies to warn him of his enemy's vicinity." 4!
     "Fortunately for the Germans, the French were left by their generals with a most inadequate supply of artillery -- one of those unaccountable mistakes which marked French generalship as a MAIN CAUSE OF THE DISASTERS TO THE IMPERIAL ARMIES IN THE CAMPAIGN." (Emphasis added.)
     I could go on and on. We're far from finished with MacMahon, and haven't even started in on Frossard and Bazaine and the rest of these Gallic clowns. A true comedy of errors. As a hopeful fan of On to Paris!, it just becomes too depressing.
     In the end, I can only say this: F-it, I'm moving on!