Paper Wars in Action

Last week I was able to roll out some of the 2D armies for some games. I’d put together forces for the Boyne, Culloden and Gettysburg and got a chance to play a couple of games with my father.

Culloden didn’t get onto the table, though as it was the one I was least interested in I wasn’t too concerned. For the Battle of the Boyne I used the Pike and Shotte rules with my own custom scenario for the battle. For Gettysburg I used the excellent Bloody Big Battles ruleset with a scenario from the BBB Yahoo group.

The magnetic tape the paper counters and labels were attached to worked well, giving the playing pieces some weight and other than perhaps cutting some of my flexible ferrous paper into movement trays to keep them all together on hills, I’m pretty happy with them. I’ll definitely be using the tape for future projects, provided I can find a way to cut it a bit more regularly square. I suspect patience and care is the answer but life’s too short for taking your time!

I’d initially scaled the games for dining table play but the discovery of a table tennis table at the place we were staying was too good an opportunity to pass up. With a little tweaking I was able to stretch them to suit the larger space.

I’ll be sharing all the resources I used here at the bottom of this post so stick around if you’re interested in any of it for yourself.

The Battle of the Boyne

The Battle of the Boyne is quite the appropriate one to play given the proximity to the 12th July, the traditional “celebration” of the battle in my home country, complete with bonfires, bowler hats, orange sashes, marching bands, protests, riots and flags on every lamppost (I counted no less than sixty on my short walk to work). If you don’t know of what I speak, Wikipedia is a good place to start!

Controversial as the “celebrations” may be all these centuries later, it is still an important turning point in the history of the British isles and as a battle offers a lot of fun opportunity to game.

Queen Mary and her consort, Prince William of Orange, had recently been welcomed by Parliament as the new Queen and King of England when the last King of England, James II, having the audacity to declare himself a Roman Catholic, was promptly deposed. It’s said when William turned up on England’s shores for some light invading, King James decided to do nothing about it due to having a bit if a nose bleed, which was enough to make even the most loyal of royalists rethink their position. Supporters flocked to William and Mary in droves and James, in a petulant temper, chucked the the king’s seal* into the river and fled the city. This gave Parliament the convenient excuse of claiming James had abdicated. Huzzah to the Glorious Revolution! All nice and neat. Now William…er well his wife Mary (James’ little sister) could be Queen and after some legal wrangling and red faces in the House, William and Mary were declared joint monarchs.

James ran off to Ireland to drum up support with the help of the French and started making trouble in his neighbourhood. He got in one little fight and then got scared and ran off to be the king of … nothing. That fight was the battle of the Boyne, part of a wider campaign by William to bring the unruly Irish (who seemed to think they should be allowed to practice religion however they wished, the horror!) under full control. In truth the battle was less significant at the time than the battle of Aughrim a year later, which ended the Williamite War in Ireland, but as James and William were both present at the Boyne it tends to get all the press.

Interestingly, it was the anniversary of Aughrim that was originally celebrated on the 12th, with the Boyne taking over in importance a century later and stealing the date (it was fought on the 1st by the Julian calendar). Also, if seen in the wider context of European politics it is interesting to note that the Pope at the time was in fact an ally of William in the League of Augsburg arrayed against the French, a bit of an odd quirk of history given the sectarian nature of the war and remembrance of it.

The battle was preceded by a feint by William, sending a small contingent of cavalry far down the river to ford while bringing his main force towards Oldbridge where the river was more easily forded.

James mistook the feint for the main attack and sent around two thirds of his force to intercept. They pulled up opposite sides of an impassible marsh and stared at each other until word reached them that William had crossed already at which point James promptly ran away.

 

* The kind used to stamp things, not the noisy sea mammal, who would be unperturbed by a dip in the river. 


I decided to focus the battle at the Oldbridge crossing, here are some shots of the setup:

Oldbridge Town, the main objective of the game to hold/take. The fields in the distance cover the whole area enclosed by the hedge (as I said, expecting a smaller table!)

I’ve set up two crossing points, one a ford, the other an island with slightly different rules for each. There’s marshy ground on the other side of the island.

The sheep in their enclosures. No sheep were harmed in the making of this battle.

I took on the role of James’ understaffed defenders while my dad decided to lead King Billy’s forces across the river.
William started his advance by sweeping the cavalry round towards the island, and moving his elite infantry up to the ford. He opened combat with a somewhat ineffective artillery barrage. The defending forces deployed the dragoons along the hedges and moved the cavalry over towards the ford to try and support the Oldbridge defence. The infantry fired a few potshots across the river to no real effect.
William’s cavalry moved across the island with great elan, only to end up mired in swampy ground and milling about in skirmishing disorder for most of the battle, while the Irish dragoons picked them off one by one. The infantry began their inexorable advance across the river ford under the fire of the defenders.
The Dutch guard advanced up to the walls and hedges of Oldbridge before being thrown back by the king’s foot guard. The Irish cavalry tore along the river towards the encroaching enemy but stalled in confusion under the harsh battering from William’s artillery barrages, eventually becoming broken and scattered.
William’s infantry kept advancing under heavy fire and getting thrown back by the elite King’s Foot Guard at the walls. Confident in the defense ability of the guard, two units of infantry hopped into the open to enfilade the enemy and managed to break a couple of units before getting bogged down in combat. A shaken unit of Williams infantry (mistakenly) advanced on the guard and despite drawing combat, the support of the units coming up behind was enough to cause the foot guard to take a break test, inexplicably breaking completely without having taken a single casualty. Luck of the Irish…

The Williamite forces surged forward seizing the town and taking the victory. James turned up at the end to see what was going on, far too late to do anything worthwhile.


Some shots from the game, Dutch in Orange, Irish in Green. Obviously!

William’s forces advancing towards Oldbridge

Some milling cavalry

The advancing cavalry, looking frisky, unaware of the artillery barrage about to cause them some consternation


All in all the scenario played out well. I think I managed to organise the forces well and the terrain added a lot of flavour to the game and helped balance the overwhelming numbers of William. I did get a few rules wrong, only one of which really altered the overall play, but was a good close game regardless.

I might make a few tweaks to the scenario if I play again, but all in all, I was pretty happy. This was my first time playing P&S but found them to flow as well as the HC games I’ve played. It would have been good had I time to play them solo first to iron out a few rough edges as was teaching my dad as I went. His summary was it was good but a bit too complicated to remember all those rules!

Gettysburg

Next up was the Battle of Gettysburg using BBB. This as a cracking game played over two days and was a close one in the end.

I’ll not go into the history as I did with the Boyne as my ACW knowledge isn’t so deep (an area I’m working to improve) but this is another attacker Vs defender scenario with the fresh faced Union troops attempting to hold their ground against General Lee’s Confederate veterans.


Dad took the dirty rebs, I took the upstanding army of the Union.

Here’s some pictures of the layout, ran out of brown tape (having used it at the Boyne) so grey and brown indicate roads, black is railway (and later rifle pits) and blue the streams. Sorry about the poor lighting, though as you can see by the light it’s been a glorious day outside. 

The rebels swept in from the north but fell like wheat to the scything gunfire of the Union forces. All day they pushed forwards but couldn’t make ground on Gettysburg. They did better on the western flank, after a bit if a stalemate over ttje railway line, they broke it and proceeded to push the Union back from the railway, forcing them to retreat up Seminary hill and pushing forward to threaten the west of Gettysburg.

Night fell with nothing more gained and the forces pulled back to recover their troops and give space for reinforcements to.make their way to the field. Day two opened with a smattering of ineffective gunfire from the Union on the west, but a devastating barrage on the east against the rebel artillery position caused some damage.

The rebels pushed forwards with great gusto, advancing on Gettysburg from the north and west but the concentration of fire from the Union lines held them at bay. A Union assault up Benner’s hill was repelled by the rebel artillery but a further Union barrage swept the hill wreaking havoc amongst the rebel artillery corps.

Some shots of where things are halfway through “day 2”:


Gettysburg


The west


The east

Fighting intensified in the second half of day 2. Pender lead the assault from the west of Gettysburg while McLaws and Anderson pushed from the North and Rodes advancing cautious from the North East. Early and Heth sat back and licked their wounds. The invincible Hood charged the rifle pits of Barlow against withering fire from across the hill, pushing them back to the river then obliterating them in a follow up assault.

The assault on Gettysburg was a success and in the closing hours of day 2, despite the valiant defence from the Iron Brigade they were shaken out if Gettysburg and the victorious rebels swarmed into the town for a well earned night’s rest. The forces consolidated their positions over night and brought in their last reinforcements. The cavalry was still engaged in battle on the east field so didn’t make an appearance.

Day three opened with the Union moving swiftly up to defend their western flanks and trying to take the round tops and devils den against Pickett and Hood moving up the West. The northern lines sent a smattering of fire into Gettysburg without much impact. The rebels launched their assault on cemetery hill, throwing everything they had at the position and quickly overwhelming the defending Union troops. Good and Pickett, overcautious of the Union artillery after the damage they’d done in the previous day’s hung back, attempting to silence the artillery position before assaulting up the steep slopes of the round tops. They succeeded in silencing them but we’re unable to take advantage of this before the fresh Union reinforcements made their way to the hills and the den. The Union made a failed attempt to retake the cemetery and as the day drew to a close the rebels in the North threw their forces against Culps hill in one last desperate charge but was thrown back by the combined firepower of the Union. 

The battle ended in a draw. The rebels had fought hard to take Gettysburg and cemetery hill, but were completely spent by the efforts. Both sides drew back to leave the fight to another time.

All in all a close run thing. Had the rebels taken Gettysburg earlier in the game they could probably have swept to victory. As it was, the solid defence put up by the Union troops broke the Confederacy troops down and managed to hold in to a draw.

Assault on Gettysburg

Assault on Cemetery Hill


Pickett’s not charge

Resources

Below are links to download the labels, scenarios and templates I used for these games.

Battle of the Boyne

Boyne OOB inspired by: https://onelover-ray.blogspot.com/2013/06/battle-of-boyne-oob-broadside-2013.html

Labels for Gettysburg

Scenario for Gettysburg – requires sign up to the Yahoo Group

Markers and Objectives

Paper Army Unit Pack – including both borderless and bordered (depending on the printer)

Terrain

Paper Wars

After my recent experiment in 2D wargaming I’ve been busy expanding the project further. I’ve now created digital copies of the troop types than can easily be recoloured and printed.

To solve the issue with the card being too thin to be practical I decided to use magnetic tape I found on eBay. The tape is a couple of mm thick so provides a good weight to the counter and being 25mm is easy to cut to shape. It’s adhesive backed as well so can add the printed and cut paper straight onto it. I also picked up a half width one to use with status indicators.

I like the magnetic tape a lot and may use it as bases for my 2mm armies when I settle on what I do for them. The Crimean being the current front runner, though if I find I like using these counters enough I may just start on 2mm 3D terrain to be multi functional instead.

The benefit of using magnetic material over thick card or MDF is I can affix them all the ferrous sheets for ease of viewing and access, rather than having to rummage around in a bag for the rights bits. It also allows me to make flexible movement trays if I need them.

I’ve also been making unit labels as counters in their own right so that they can be used in the unit and padded out with the generic troop counters. This will be useful for games where there can be a lot of different unit types and stats, or for people new to wargaming as an easy reference.

As you may have guessed from above, Gettysburg is one of the battles on the roadmap. As I’ve a family gathering for a week in June and a father and brother who could be cajoled into a game or three, these counters will provide a good ability to put on some games without being tied down to my meagre miniatures collection, which would be difficult to transport regardless.

My dad tends to be most interested in 17th-19th century conflicts, so it was no major surprises when I asked if there were any battles he’d be interested in recreating. He said the Boyne, Culloden and Gettysburg.

I’ve decided to use the excellent looking Gettysburg scenario from BBB as it seems like it will give a great sense of the conflict. I may need to make some modifications depending on how much space is available for play at where we’re staying, I doubt we’ll get a 6×4 unless we play on the floor so may have to adapt or compress things.

For Culloden, Black Powder seems a good fit, and I found a good order of battle on Junior General that I’ve used to make up the units. Keeping it fairly simple with only a few special rules to add character to the units.

The Battle of the Boyne is an interesting one. I’ve decided to focus on the actual crossing at Oldbridge and Drybridge as that was the significant action of the battle and provides a fun scenario of a weaker force defending the crossing against a large and well equipped enemy. I’m going to use Pike and Shot rules for it and have put together some special modifications to give the scenario a bit more flavour. I’ve based the OOB on this superb project.

I’ve sourced, made or modified some top down printable terrain as well so I can at least add a little more visual appeal than my quick and scrappy sketch approach last time.

There’ll be more to follow as work through the projects and assuming the battles go ahead, some battle reports to follow. I have most of the scenario design and digital work done, so now I’ve a lot of printing, cutting and sticking to do!

I may need to find some way to protect the printed counters from sticky fingers. Brush on varnish tends to smudge, and spray on isn’t much better…

Oh well!

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

Remember the Alma…

As promised, I’ve rolled out the new 2D armies to try out the Bloody Big Battles ruleset. This let me put together a game to play the rules out despite the fact I don’t have a proper miniatures army.

The scenario I picked was the Battle of The Alma from the Crimean War. The French, Turkish and British forces are attempting to overrun a defended Russian position to open the road to Sevastapol.

The terrain is very much rough and ready, much like the armies themselves!

The Turkish position arrayed for the defence:

And the allied forces entering the field:

Turn one begins with the allies advancing on the two bridges to try and sweep aside the Russians.

The Russians move in to block the way:

Turn two the British push across the river but take a heavy beating from the Russian guns in the process:

The Russians are pushed back by the French but the Russians are still preventing them from crossing the river.

On turn three the Russian assaults continue to hold the French at the river while the British seem to be stalled exchanging fire with the Russians across a stream.

The British occupy a small village and repel an assault by the cavalry.

Turn four and the pressure is on, there are only six turns to take the roads and the allies are far behind where they need to be.

The French slog across the river slowly while the British seem to do little. It seems like they have forgotten they can cross streams without a bridge!

Turn five and the French continue their grinding slog towards the objective while the British slowly, cautiously try to outflank the much weaker opposing forces rather than getting their feet wet and storming them across the stream.

The surge of Russians against the French throw them back from their hard won ground.

Turn six, the final turn and the British finally realise that they can just hop over the piddly stream and give the Ruskies their cold steel. Too little, too late.

The French flail around in disarray. The fight is over, night draws in and the allies retreat in disgrace. There is much to celebrate in the Russian camp that night.

За здоровье!


The purpose of this game was threefold. First to try out the cardboard counter armies, second to try out BBB and third to give one of my potential periods for a next project a go.

On the cardboard armies, they fared well enough. My two main issues came from the lack of weight and lack of identification. The identification issue can easily be solved with a bit of prep work to create labels but the weight issues may need some more work. The issue being that the light card tends to bunch up and overlap making it difficult to move about. This could be solved with MDF counters as someone suggested, or by using some sort of sabot system. I’m pondering the use of some old painting sticks to make labelled sabots for the counters to solve both these issues. Regardless, they worked well to get a feel for the conflict and I didn’t mind the abstracted nature of it so I’m sure they’ll come out to play again in future. Best of all, the entire project fits into a small zip up food bag!

As suggested in comments of the previous post and a related thread on the Pendraken forum, there are some great paper armies out there as well as a load of excellent looking paper terrain on http://www.juniorgeneral.org so I’ll be definitely checking that out. Thanks to everyone who commented, the feedback and suggestions are always welcome!

Regarding the Bloody Big Battles ruleset, I really enjoyed them. They’re intuitive and fun to play and keep the action moving at a good pace. I played the entire game with just two dice, rolling against a table for movement and combat rather than the buckets o’ dice or single resolution approach that I’ve encountered previously. I probably did many things wrong (like forgetting that you can cross streams until turn six!) and I’m looking forward to reading the rules in depth now I’ve a sense of the core concepts. I always find the best way to get to grips with a rule set is to get it on the table and fail fast. You learn more from where you go wrong than obsessing over knowing it all before you start. It’s all in the name of fun so no harm in fudging things here and there using common sense where you’re uncertain! I’ll do a proper rule review in a future post once I’ve had another go with them. I’d enjoy playing this scenario again and trying different approaches to see how they fare. There’s plenty of other scenarios to choose from too!

Finally, the next project. I reckon that BBB will be a lot of fun to play in 2mm where you can represent the scale of the conflicts involved. The Crimean War is a potential option. As are the Prussian wars (Austro- and Franco-). At 2mm you can easily proxy armies without it looking out of place so it wouldn’t be too difficult to field multiple conflicts with the same sets of figures. There’s plenty of other rule sets out there too covering these periods that they will adapt well. Some more research to be done!