Monday, 24 July 2017

C&C Napoleonics - Thoughts on adaptations.

Having played three games of C&C Napoleonics from the base game, I am about to move onto the Spanish Army expansion. However, I have been thinking how the board and blocks could be used for other rule sets, and still be playable on my small table.

The components can, in my opinion, be used for other Napoleonic rule sets. I could do away with the board and use a battle mat, but any hills or ridges would cause problems with the blocks sliding down the slopes or simply toppling over. I could of course lay them flat, but it is just not as pleasing to the eye, well not in my opinion.

I have been goofing around with the board and blocks and came up with these initial ideas for unit representation and firing, using the provided hex board.

Taking the 'Blucher' rule set, here we have a corps, consisting of three brigades of infantry with an attached battery of artillery. They have been in action and I have used micro-dice to track their elan.
The left most infantry brigade is still at full elan of six. The next brigade has lost one elan, and is down to five. The brigade on the right of the line has really suffered, and is down to just three elan. The die behind the foot artillery, denotes that it has fired once so far.
The board is uncluttered and by using the micro-dice, we can see the current state of each unit.

Let us jump up a step. The exact same corps, but now represented by two blocks, again the micro-dice record the current stats for each unit. The extra block does make the corp look a bit more substantial and in the 'March Attack' rules, two blocks would be sufficient. I probably should not have added an extra block for the artillery as one block signifies a full battery of six to eight guns.

The final step, once again the same corps, only now each block equates to one point of elan. We can quickly and easily see that the left most infantry battalion is still at full strength, next door is at five, and the right most (oops, missing a block) should have three blocks. As elan is lost, remove a block. The artillery has fired one of its six shots. The corps really does now look impressive and not a dice in sight.

Using hexes as opposed to inches or centimetres, has its advantages and disadvantages. The obvious advantages are no measuring needed, no arguments as to how far movement or firing is. A downside is it is less precise and you have to use a degree of common sense for line of sight and movement of troops.

In this example our corps is firing at an unfortunate Portuguese Line regiment. In 'Blucher' volley fire is just one base width, whilst skirmish fire is two base widths. With hexes we have another problem, when units get up close and personal into melee. So I have put down yellow discs to show the frontal hexes that are eligible for melee. If an enemy unit is in an adjacent hex then you are bayonet to bayonet, no shooting!
The left most French line has fired at skirmish range, follow the red arrow through the melee hex, the red dice with one pip is at volley range, and the red dice with two pips is at skirmish range. The same with the other two units of line infantry, following the arrows and the blue and yellow dice respectively.

The artillery is firing at an enemy line regiment at max range, for me on this board, five hexes seems sensible. Follow the yellow dice in ascending order to the target, the red disc under the die with two pips shows the range of canister. Of course the cannonball isn't negotiating a slalom course on its way to the target, that's where the common sense must be applied, as it also would, with any intervening terrain.

Well that's my thoughts, not perfect by any means, but I think I could get a good game using it.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

C&C Napoleonics - Rolica, 17th August 1808

Board set up for the battle. The French have a good defensive position on the hills close to the village of Rolica. French General Delaborde was outnumbered, but was to delay the enemy for as long as possible before falling back two miles to an even stronger position.

A few turns in and the British moved their two batteries of foot artillery in the centre forward and began counter-battery fire on the French guns on the hill. Between them they managed to destroy the French artillery very quickly and then turned their guns on the infantry, forcing one unit to retreat and virtually decimating a second. The British brigade commanded by General Fergusson on the left flank began to advance. The French hussars moved to block their path. The British flags on the two hills behind the French lines are British victory banner objectives.

The destroyed French artillery and most of a Light Infantry unit.

Before its demise, the French artillery did manage to inflict a loss in counter-battery fire. The British have one victory banner.

In the centre, the British stay put as their artillery pound the French positions.

On the left flank, the British Dragoons move up to face the French Hussars.

On the right flank, Colonel Trant (a British officer serving in the Army of Portugal) attached himself to a line unit.

The artillery barrage successfully removed all the French infantry from hills.

They did destroy the final block of the Light Infantry, so the British now lead 2 - 0 in victory banners.

Positions on the battlefield.

The British left flank continues its advance, the French Hussars charge and destroy the British Dragoons, taking a single casualty themselves and force a line unit into square. The charge causes no casualties, but the British muskets managed to score a kill with just a single die.

A victory banner for the French.

Half of the Hussar unit is off the board.

Positions on the battlefield.

British infantry cause a third casualty to the French hussars and also force them to retreat.

Just one block away from another British victory banner.

The unit in square should now be able to reform, and the card will be released.

The Portuguese begin their advance.

The French move units back onto the crest of the hill, and also begin to redeploy the hussars to the more vulnerable right flank.

The threadbare right flank of the French line.

More musketry sends the depleted hussar unit back to the baseline. The objective victory banner on the hill is looking very vulnerable now.

Battlefield at the end of the turn. The British continue to advance right along the lines. The French have to return to the crest line and run the gauntlet of the British cannon.

The British centre are beginning to reach musket range. The artillery removes one block and sends a unit of French infantry and their general, scurrying back down the reverse slope.

The French hussars complete their move from flank to flank.

Once more the British Foot Artillery can pick off units on the hill.

The French infantry lose a block from two units.

The casualties mount.

French musketry removes a block.

The British guns continue their brutal work, totally destroying one unit of infantry and and forcing another to retreat with just a single block remaining. The Horse Artillery on the left flank, also make their presence felt, destroying the single remaining block of the French hussars.

4 - 1 to the British now in victory banners, they need just one more to be victorious.

The fifth banner is just one step away from the advancing British infantry.

In desperation, the French hussars charge the British infantry, who promptly form square. The infantry suffer no losses but cause a hit, and a musketry from a second unit forces the hussars back.

On the other flank, the Portuguese hussars make a dash for the victory banner. However, when I read the conditions properly, the banner objectives have to be occupied by a British unit, so although wide open, it is out of reach of any eligible unit.

Once more the French climb wearily to the crest line, as British light infantry reach the foot of the hill.

Once again the hussars charge, but although not suffering or causing any losses they are forced to retreat. The British unit had not formed square and so escaped, this now will allow them to move on the next turn.

With the hussars pushed back, the British infantry unit occupies the victory banner hill, they only have to hold it until the beginning of their next turn for victory.

French muskets finally have a target, and they destroy two blocks of the Portuguese light infantry, sending the survivors scurrying back.

Still just the single victory banner, and not too many casualties for the Allies.

As the French hussars were unable to rally themselves for a charge on the British, the next turn began with the red coats still holding the hill, they claimed the fifth victory banner.

French losses.

A British victory by 5 - 1, quite convincing. The British had lots of centre and left flank cards during the game, but very few for the right. As the British commander I wanted my artillery to soften up the enemy on the hill before committing the infantry to cross the open ground and assault the hill. As I only had left flank cards, then it was this flank that did all the advancing. As the French commander, my only hope was for an unlikely frontal assault by the enemy, losing my only artillery unit within the first three turns was a disaster, and allowed the enemy to rake the crest line at leisure.

A very enjoyable first battle, the uncontested British artillery was brutal to the French on the hills, nullifying the strong position they held. It really was only a matter of time before the outnumbered French were defeated.

Next on the table will be Bussaco (Reynier's Assault) 27th September 1810.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

C&C Napoleonics - The journey begins.

Amazon received a bumper order from myself, and even though the boxes came from three different vendors, all arrived within a week of being ordered. I then had to wait for them to be delivered from my home address to here. That happened a couple of days ago.

The base game and all six currently available expansions

The contents of the base game, all with stickers now applied. Blue for French, red for British and brown for Portuguese. The base game has 13 scenarios for the Peninsular War and two scenarios for the Hundred Days Campaign. As you can see, the standard board fits my table with lots of room to spare. Exactly what I wanted.

Contents of the Russian Army expansion, with some French reinforcements at the rear.

The Austrian Army with yet more French. It is quite clear that the designer and GMT Games had the Epic release in mind. Plenty of Frenchies to fill the table.

The Prussian Army take up the rear two ranks, they are a steel grey colour, though that is difficult to tell in the photograph. More French in the front row.

Reinforcements in the Generals, Marshals & Tacticians expansion.

Once all the boxes had been opened and all the stickers applied, it was time to read through the rules that come with the base game. These are modified slightly with new game mechanics added as you progress through the expansions, but for now, I shall play with just the rules and cards from the base game.

The very first scenario in the book.

Terrain laid out on the table to match the scenario diagram. Does it look as impressive as a battle mat with trees, hills etc? No, of course not, but it certainly does the trick and I think quite pleasing on the eye. One thing I shall do though, is find some way of raising the hills slightly, just to make them stand out clearly. Samurai Battles came with some plastic hexes that were stackable, I may be able to use those.

Placing a single block initially, some units have three others four.

With just single blocks the board and terrain looks just fine. Close up of the defending French position.

British troops in the centre.

Now with all the blocks in place.

Portuguese units occupy the right flank of Wellesley's line. The French infantry and artillery on the ridge line will be a tough nut to crack, especially as the Allies will have to cross open ground to reach them.

All now ready to begin. Rule book and information cards on the left, British and French square cards and markers, plus the first hand of cards for each army.

As I am playing solo, I removed these two cards from the pack, great to surprise your opponent in a face to face game, but a little pointless  in a solo game.

The British have six cards in their hand, as opposed to just five for the French.

An optional extra, a mug of tea.

I now have a few chores to attend to, but this evening I plan to spend two or three hours getting a feel for the rules, how to best use each unit type as well as discovering the effects of the different terrain on movement, line of sight etc. I will report back.