Sunday, August 18, 2019

Vauban's Wars - Another Playtest from my English Team!

Tony and Phil have once again gone into the breach to playtest Vauban's Wars.

Their playtests are "blind", in that I'm not there to explain what I meant in the rules and they have to rely on exactly I wrote on the rules. This is always valuable feedback and can be a real eye-opener for a rules author!

This time (this is their 3rd playtest) Phil is going to be the besieger and Tony the Garrison Governor general!

They picked forces that would be different than what I have ever done and this shows I need to tighten up what can generically be purchased before the game begins. This is not the entire forces, but gives you an idea that these guys like Grenadiers!

Phil's Besieging British Army (60 purchase points) - 42 Siege Morale Points
5 Grenadier Battalions
5 Infantry Battalions
unknown sappers and artillery

Tony's French Garrison (30 purchase points) - 33 Siege Morale Points
8 Grenadier battalions
3 Sappers
2 Fortress guns per bastion (free)

After seeing this, I'm restricting both grenadier and light infantry purchase based on the number of regular infantry units that are purchased.

Other Scenario Info
They started the game in Winter (first three turns, then it becomes Spring).
They didn't allow mining as I'm still sorting out those rules.
Defenses are well maintained (determined by die roll)

Looking at Tony's defensive preparations. There are two ravelins this time! Their fortress is straining the system too as he has two crown\hornworks side by side in this game. This normally would be just one bastion in each location or a single hornworks out in front of the main fortress.

Turn 1 (Winter)

This turn was rough in the terms of weather and unique events. First the weather check resulted in disease which claimed several hundred besiegers and garrison infantry.

Next the Unique Event was "Disease!", so they got a double whammy of various ailments like dysentery, botulism, etc. (Lovely day at the office!). Weather Events are interesting in that they can end a turn immediately, last for a short period of time, or for the rest of the current turn. I'm really enjoying how weather impacts the game, as it should in a siege.

Phil lost 12 SMP, Tony lost 11 SMP due to fighting and disease on the first turn alone!

Phil's British are digging in the cold hard ground.

Turn 2 (Winter)

More progress in the trenches as Phil's British army moves closer to their goal. Here is the 2nd parallel and parts of the 3rd parallel. Digging was halted for the turn due to Frozen Ground weather result.

I believe those dice with "1" on them are indicating damage to the guns. Cotton balls indicate the unit has fired and needs to reload.

Turn 3 (Winter)

The digging continues and Tony keeps sending his Grenadiers out on Trench Raids against Phil's batteries. Phil had some poor die rolls so that batteries keep getting pushed back or destroyed.

The Weather Check results in a late winter Snow Storm which reduces visibility to 4 inches!

Turn 4 (first turn of Spring)

Weather improves and more fighting and digging happen. Phil's sappers are not close to the glacias with expectations of building the 4th parallel.

Tony's French sappers were placing "enormous" charges in his ravelins and main gate just in case the Brits attempt to assault via those sections!

Turn 5

Phil decided to break the siege at this point due to time (big work day), and the fact that most of his artillery was damaged or destroyed by Tony's trench raids.

The Siege Morale Chips were still plentiful with Phil having 21 and Tony 19.

No walls had been breached yet and he was unable to silence any of Tony's fortress guns. I told Phil about the ricochet fire rule, which would help him clear out the guns easier if he used that rule. He will try that next time.

Here is an example of ricochet fire invented by Vauban. The fire comes at bastions\ravelins at perpendicular angles to the facing of the bastion. Hence these shots would come down the flank of the guns hitting crew and dismounting guns from their carriages. The red arrows are the ricochet fire from well-placed batteries that clear the bastions where the breach\assault (orange arrow) is to take place. 

These types of quotes warm my heart. :-)

"Thanks again for letting us get involved... we’re having a blast with this!" - Phil

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Currrent Activity

Hi folks,

Just wanted to post an update on what is going on in the War Room here in Charlotte.

We are always getting board games in and this month has not bee an exception:
Scythe, Tuscany, Command & Colors Medieval, and Black Orchestra.

Vauban's Wars
Blind playtesting is continuing across the Atlantic with Tony and Phil. This is been very helpful as I'm not there to explain the rules and they need to play based on the written text. Good feed back on their first siege has added some changes and clarity. After their playtest finishes this week I will update the rules and send off to my two editors: Tim and Peter. Tim will also playtest the rules as written at that point. I'm on version 15 of the rules and hope to have these published by the end of this year (2019).

Couple photo's of Tony and Phil's siege game set during the Seven Years War with the British besieging the French.

Song of Fire and Ice Battle

We fought a battle using Mac's glorious collection of Game of Thrones miniatures from CMON. I love the figures, but not a huge fan of the rules. The Lannister's won this one and here are some photos of the engagement.

On the Reading Table
I'm currently working through the following titles:
  • Duke of Alba by Kaman
  • Touched with Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific by Eric M. Bergerud
  • Vauban and the French Military Under Louis XIV
    An Illustrated History of Fortifications and Strategie
  • The Fortress in the Age of Vauban and Frederick the Great, 1680-1789 (Siege Warfare, Vol 2) by Christopher Duffy

Next SYW\WAS Battle to Fight?

Thinking about running the Hohenfriedburg (June 4, 1745) from the War of the Austrian Success, because it has both Austrians and Saxons (I want to get them onto the table ASAP) versus Prussians.

However, I'm unsure as to try to fight the entire battle as one scenario or break it in two: the Saxon part which happened hours before the Austrian part. It would be difficult to play this historically as one scenario due to when the Austrian right wing got into the battle about 3 hours after the initial fighting began on the Saxon wing. That would mean the Austria commander would be sitting around waiting for the Prussians to get to him.

I like the way Charles Grant breaks out the battle into two different scenarios with the outcome of the first battle impacting the location of Prussian forces in the second part of the battle.

I think I will go with the first part of the battle as outlined by GRANT in REFIGHTING HISTORY Vol 3.

BTW, the site usually has great maps, but I found the one for this battle extremely incorrect regarding troop locations.

Next Convention to Attend?

Since I have dropped Historicon from the convention list I'm trying to get out to more local conventions to support those. I'm thinking about attending Call to Arms in Williamsburg, VA in October. Just need to figure out what games to run if I do attend. Any other conventions that I should attend?


Friday, June 21, 2019

2nd Siege of Olmutz Playtest

We started a new siege with some slight scenario and rule changes and this time we played for two weeks in order to get to the Prussian ASSAULT!

Jan and Mike were the Austrian Garrison, while Brian and Phil were the Prussians. We ran this one to a Siege based conclusion over two nights of gaming. About six total hours of game time and 3 weeks siege.

Cigar Box terrain cloth.
15mm Old Glory and Halmark figures
Unknown manufacturer of the fortress (I've had it for nearly 20 years)
PaperTerrain houses and church.

Siege Timeline

Turn 0 - Night of May 27th\28th (Spring)

Prussians finish the first parallel.

Turn 1 - May 28th - May 31st (Spring)

  • The Prussians push their saps forward to establish a second parallel (2 back to back Sapper and Mining cards).

  • Austrian Trench raid by Grenadiers wipes out a Prussian sapper company and their laborers. (note that we didn't lose a single sapper in the entire game last week!)
  • Prussian sappers start making gun emplacements and move their siege guns forward to begin bombardment of the fortress walls.

  • Prussian spy is able to gather information about the strength of the fortress walls (successful spy attempt). They find out the walls are fairly old (medieval town walls) and only have 50 hits.
  • Austrian artillery fire versus Prussian infantry in the saps is devastating with several units force to retire due to the accurate fire.

Turn 2 - June 1st - June 4th (Spring)

  • Both Garrison and Besieger lose a powder this turn. (both lost against the Powder Expenditure Die)
  • Garrison destroys a siege gun via artillery fire. This was demoralizing to the Prussians.
  • Wall takes 14 more damage and more on the way.

  • Prussians forced to enlist laborers from the infantry regiments as their sappers are getting killed or routed by Austrian Trench Raids.
  • Prussian spy is captured by the garrison (Prussians have one more spy in their stable)
  • Prussians start to use one of their mortars to shell the town of Olmutz in order to reduce the garrison's morale. They don't manage to inflict much in the way of damage yet.

Turn 3 - June 5th - 9th (Spring)

  • Garrison is counter-sapping to flank the Prussian 2nd parallel. We don't know if this will make a difference or not.
  • Garrison is using civilian laborers to attempt to repair the wall that is getting pounded by the Prussian siege guns. One civilian crew is routed from the wall, while another stands despite hundreds of cannon balls landing around them. They make little in the way of repairs though and the wall keeps crumbling.
  • Prussians inflict a practical breach on the wall of Olmutz (this happens when a wall has less than 10 hits left. May switch this to zero as the trigger point as it is easier to remember and keep track of.)
  • Austrian trench raid by Grenzers against a Prussian mortar is bloodily repulsed by the local Prussian security companies. The Grenzers retreat with a UI loss!
  • The practical breach has agitated the population and we had our first Coup de Main, but the Austrians were able to round up several rebellion leaders before things got out of hand. Nobody is sure if those rabble-rousers survived the siege.

Turn 4 - June 10th - 12th (Spring)

  • Prussians create their third parallel while directing breaching fire against the bastion next the wall that was breached. 

  • Austrian Trench Raid with Grenadiers sends Prussian sappers fleeing to the rear.
  • Austrian rally their civilian sappers in the town and hope to get them back to work on the repairs on the bastion.

  • Garrison (Austrian) spy that was slipping through the Prussian camp in order to ascertain the amount of Powder the Prussian have left is captured!
  • There is a fierce artillery duel with nearly all Austrian pieces now in action! One by one, Prussian guns are silenced.

Turn 5 - June 13th - 17th (Summer)

  • The artillery keeps up their frantic fire, as the Austrians chose an extra "Artillery Reload" card as their optional card for their Siege Deck. The Prussians chose "Sapping and Mining".
  • Prussian Siege guns are driven back due to the intense fire.

Turn 6 - June 18th - 20th (Summer)

  • The Prussian mortars, who have been shelling the city most of the game, finally hit something better than a privy, and set fire to the town. (Garrison loses a Siege Morale Point).

  • Austrian guns have now silenced all four Prussian Siege guns (which are now reassembling in the Rally Point at zero UI!)

  • The Prussian Siege Morale Points have hit zero and they must abandon the siege. With no morale chips and all four siege guns batteries in tatters, this was a sound decision. 

As Jan wrote:
"Yes, unlike their very poor trench raiding prowess, the Austrian artillery turned out to be surprisingly, and some would say luckily, effective, hammering away with counterbattery fire until the Prussians called it all off and decamped! And not a moment too soon, with the third parallel in place and more to come, it was getting very confining within the wall of Olmutz! It was another great game of siege warfare, with a lot of nail-biting action and suspense on both sides of the table, and I'm looking forward to playing it again soon!"

Next session will include more minor tweaks and a solid playtesting of mining. Can't wait for that! Also the rules are overseas being playtested to see how they hold up under fire when I'm not their to answer questions.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Siege of Olmütz 1758 - A Vauban's Wars playtest x 2

Hi folks,

I ran two playtests of my Vauban's Wars rules after re-writing them a couple years ago to use Field of Battle game mechanics rather than traditional Piquet mechanics. I did that to make the Siege games run faster and more streamlined. I like what I see so far.

I chose a historical siege this time with the 1758 siege of Olmütz:

This siege has everything that you want in a game: weather issues, flooding, good supplies for the garrison, lots of trench raids, spies, magazine explosions, etc.

The first game was tough on the Prussians as I had the first parallel too far out just like the real siege and they were stuck having to move forward to be able to start doing any harm to the fortress. Also the Wasserfort (Water Fort) was a literal thorn in their side during the advancement.

We had lots of laughs around terrible spies, trench raids, and bumbling sappers.

There are some photos below with text in them describing the situation. This was turned out to be a great playtest as I'm doing some minor tweaks then we will go at it again next week.

Fortress is from an very old company of unknown name. The pieces are foam cast and very light weight. I usually find a piece or two at a miniatures convention flee market. I have all the pieces I really need for this style of fort and I'm working on my Vauban fortress from

Austrians made effective use of Trench Raids to send Prussian sappers back to their Rally Point, which made it more difficult to make progress in the siege for the Prussians.

Once the Prussians got to the third parallel, they were finally able to make some progress in breaching the walls of the fortress.

View from the Austrian Town Hall of Olmütz. We had to stop due to time, but we were able to finish 3.5 weeks of the siege by this point in time.

This next week, we will start the Prussians about six inches closer (inside artillery range, which
means they can start hitting the walls immediately if they like).

The Besiegers deck is going to have one more Sapper card, and one less Move card.
I’m going to take out one Siege Drags On from both sides (i.e. – one less extra card added to the deck).

Likely the Austrians will have an Average leader this time D10 vs D10.
I’m hoping this allows us to get to the 3rd parallel quicker and allow the Prussians to soften up the wall a bit without having to move to another parallel first. That historical scenario was brutal for the Prussians.

2nd Siege Game