Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dennewitz Photos!

I owe my friend Phil all the thanks in the world for tirelessly bringing his digital camera to all of our game nights. I forgot my camrea this past game night due to worrying about everything else I didn't want to forget for the game that I was hosting. These wonderful photos were all taken by Phil. Since I already have a fairly detailed after action report of the battle in my previous post, I'm going to just annotate these photos here. You can click on any photo to see it in full resolution of 1024 x 768.

This is a photo of the table before the game. The Prussian Advanced Guard division is waiting to be deployed, as are the initial French on-board forces. The French deployment zone is marked by the red cord on the tabletop. Not shown in my earlier post about the terrain are the flocked wooded areas and some new 15mm trees I scratch-built for the game unsing my laser and some Woodland Scenics foliage clusters.

French turn one. The on-board French (mostly the Italian division) forces have deployed along the Agger. Just arriving on the table are the first divisions of the Saxon corps.

Visible behind the ridge running eastward from Dennewitz are the forces of the Prussian Advanced Guard.

A couple of turns later, the armies are continuing to deploy and troops are starting to form up (becoming stationary in Volley & Bayonet terms). Clear battle lines are beginning to become visible. Prussian reinforcements are marching to the position of the Advanced Guard who have taken up a defensive position on the heights opposite of the Agger. Artillery fire between the Advanced Guard and the Italian division has begun but has yet to cause significant casualties on either side.

This is a close-up of the area around Dennewitz at about turn three or four. The brown pipe-cleaner markers denote troops that are stationary in Volley and Bayonet. For those unfamiliar with these rules, this is the highest state of order and represents a brigade that is formed and prepared to defend against attack through ranged or melee combat. Visible at the bottom-right of the screen are brigades of my new Saxon corps. At the very top of the screen, the Italians have sent a solitary brigade across the Agger to attempt to turn the Prussian left flank.

Late in the battle Ralph (Speedo) Gero checks to range in his artillery on the Prussian lines. Other Volley & Bayonet mailing list members visible are me (behind the soda bottle with AJ on my shirt) and Ed Mueller (left checkered shirt).

Visible at the bottom of the screen on the ends of both lines (marked with red markers) are the permanetly-disordered troops which were the result of the earlier Prussian cavalry charge on the French left flank. At the top of the screen you can see that the Prussian Advanced Guard has retreated to the reverse slope of their ridge after the French and Italian artillery had finally ranged in and started to inflict significant casaulties.

Soon after this photo was taken the game wound to a close with each army ready to fight another day of battle, but with us running out of time in the evening. Both sides did a great job of caring for their armies while deploying under fire. The first day of battle was fought to a draw.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dennewitz After Action Report

I ran the Dennewitz scenario for my wargaming club, The Northern Conspiracy, last Friday at our monthly game night. I've been preparing for the game since my original play test in my basement which I reported earlier in this blog. Since my last update I was able to finalize the terrain for the game by flocking the forest marker felts to match the table cloth from my previous post. I also took some time and put my laser engraver to use making some 'Barker Markers' for pre-measuring a massed stand's location as well as a ZOC and angle gauge. The angle gauge we affectionately called 'hockey sticks' for obvious reasons. They have a 45-degree angle to measure obliques and fire arc as well as a 1" wide base for frontal ZOC and 1/4" wide shaft for side ZOC measuring. These were made in 2/3 scale which is what we use for 15mm games. We call this the 'hinch' scale.

This scenario was run on the full map as provided in the Road to Glory scenario that starts on page 84 of the Volley and Bayonet rulebook. I use the order of arrival and the OBs from the scenario verbatim with one exception: I added the Swedish Mormer Hussars and horse battery which is reported to have been present at the battle (see the OB here:

The opening moves for the French were comprised of a cautious advance to and deployment behind the Agger from the bridge, eastward to Rohrbeck by the Italian division with the French Cavalry guarding the left flank towards Gohldorf. The following few turns were comprised of each army deploying their arriving troops in parallel lines approximately 1400 yards from each other. The allies on a line from Dennewitz, through Gohldorf and extending approximately straight beyond Gohldorf. The French lines formed up southeast of the allies. During the deployment, artillery dueling between the artillery accompanying the Italians and the artillery of the Prussian Advanced guard division proved to be ineffective on both sides.

During the final stages of a lengthy and cautious deployment on both sides, von Oppen's Prussian cavalry division charged the extreme left flank of the deploying French force routing a brigade of French cavalry, only later to be repulsed and mostly destroyed by massed artillery and infantry small arms fire. Also on the right French flank, the Italians sortied out of Rohrbeck to try to out-flank the Prussian advanced guard. Recently-arrived reinforcements were able to repulse the Italians, driving them back through Rohrbeck and across the Agger. In the center, an opportunistic charge by the Prissuan Brandenburg Dragoons routed a French infantry brigade, but the French were able to reform their ranks in their following turn.

As dark approached the Prussian advanced guard began withdrawing behind the ridge between Dennewitz and Rohrbeck to avoid receiving additional casualties from the French artillery that had finally ranged in and begun to inflict casualties, but it was obvious to both teams that significant improvements in their positions could not be made before nightfall. The game was called by mutual agreement of both teams a turn before dark. The final point difference of .5 victory points was essentially a draw. Neither team made any mistakes and both teams played very cautiously which allowed for this outcome. I think this is a very well balance scenario that John Holtz has designed, and the players in my game very much wanted the additional time to play an additional day of battle. I hope to run the scenario again on one of our game days to allow them exactly that opportunity. Both armies had areas of strength and areas of weakness in their deployments and it would have been interesting to see how the battle would have played out if the players had time to conduct another day of battle.

Unfortunately for me I forgot my camera at home. I hope to augment this post with some photos that were taken by my friend Phil, as soon as I can get them from him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Preparing for another Dennewitz

I've spent the majority of my hobby time the past couple of weeks preparing to host another Dennewitz game. This next one will be this upcoming Friday at my club's monthly game night. When possible I like to play test my scenarios at home before subjecting the club to them. This helps me work out any kinks in the scenario and get things balanced so the game is fun for both sides, even if this means tweaking the forces or arrival times a bit. The test run of this scenario (see my previous updates below) went well. The published scenario seemed well balanced and the decisions of the players in my first game dictated the outcome, which is my preference. Since I didn't have to work on the scenario, this gave me extra time to work on other aspects of the game, starting with the pictured dedicated terrain cloth. I expect that I will be running this game a few times so I took the time to flock a felt with all the roads in place for the battle. This makes a much nicer looking tabletop but still allows be to set up the game rapidly at location away from my home.

One of the things that we as wargamers have to deal with in our games is distortion of scale. Figure scale, ground scale, time scale are all balanced to try to give a good playable game while maintaining as much historic accuracy as possible. Most gamers try to match the scale of their buildings to the figure height scale, i.e. 15mm buildings with 15mm figures. In the past I have also done this. Recently my uncle Ralph has been using 6mm buildings to represent towns in his 15mm V&B games under the assumption that these more accurately match the ground scale and have the benefit of not making towns and villages occupy an unreasonably large amount of the tabletop. Considering that Dennewitz has eight (8) towns on it's small tabletop I found that this necessitated that I adopt Ralph's philosophy and build up eight town blocks using 6mm terrain. I chose to buy my buildings from Timecast Models from the UK. I chose them because they had a good selection of Eastern European models suitable for Napoleonic battles. The top photo here shows a close-up of one of my town blocks using Timecast's walls and buildings. The buildings are removable for when the town is occupied by a stand of troops. This allows the town to occupy a minimal footprint on the game table. The photo to the right shows a wider-angle view of a couple of the towns bracing the marshy-banked river that is a central feature of the battlefield. The 6mm bridge is also a Timecast model.

I was still missing a couple of stands of Dragoons mounted on linear stands, so I also painted them up. Per the recommendations of the members of the Volley & Bayonet Yahoo group I added a light wash (made by diluting my 25mm wash) to emphasize the details of the figures. I was a bit gun-shy about using the full strength wash in fear that it would muddy the figures too much, but in the end I think I swayed the other way a bit too much and could probably have diluted it less for a stronger effect. Still it's an improvement over the non-washed figures. It also shows up a bit more in person than in photographs under incandescent light.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Landwehr Cavalry for Dennewitz

After hosting Dennewitz at my house and enjoying the scenario, I decided that I should bring the game to my club's game night in February. In order to do so I thought it would be best to try to paint up the figures that I borrowed from my friend Ed to run the first game. The Prussians have a very interesting organization in this battle. Each infantry brigade (as the Prussians call it, functionally they're the same as other army's divisions) contains three regiments of infantry including some light infantry skirmishers, a battalion of artillery, and a small regiment of cavalry. These small regiments are based in Volley & Bayonet on linear cavalry stands - something that is fairly uncommon, so I needed to paint up figures specifically for this purpose. I also didn't have any massed Landwehr cavalry yet and the scenario requires a unit of that as well. While I had the figures on the table I also painted up a mounted Landwehr officer to represent General von Lindenau, commander of the Prussian advanced guard division. Since the advanced guard division is comprised almost entirely of Landwehr, I thought an officer in a Landwehr uniform was called for.

The figures are AB miniatures. I hadn't used AB before, but they make Prussian reserve infantry in uniforms that I like, so when ordering up some of the reserve infantry figures I added in the cavalry figures I needed. The castings from AB are crisp, similar to Essex, only they're larger, about half way between Essex and Old Glory for size. I'm still quite a bit rusty painting 15mm figures, so these were painted using the same quick painting techniques I used on my Saxons. They're solid 'wargaming quality' paint jobs though - good enough for my table top games.