After the SAGA tournament, I left the Dark Ages behind and tried my hand at a some horse & musket action. I was one of six players to sign-up for 6mm Napoleonic Wargaming, hosted by Bill Hughes and Josh Transen. (There was a third gamemaster, but I didn't catch his name).
A Note About Scale:
6mm; also known as 1/285th, 1/300th, or micro-scale, is one of the smallest gauges played by gamers. (Yes, there's one even smaller: Pico-scale, or 3mm). Micro armor burst on to the gaming scene in 1967, and is still a popular venue for playing World War II, Modern and Science-Fiction tank battles. Since then, 6mm has branched out into every other historical era--like Napoleonics--along with heroic fantasy.
The benefits of 6mm are:
You can fight bigger battles in the same amount of space used for larger scales (10-25mm+).
Less detailing is required in painting. That is, often just a few colors are needed to make your figures presentable, especially when massed together, like this...
On the flip-side, one of the main issues with 6mm is:
That "less detailing" is often hard for those of us with aging eyes to see--let alone paint.
Now, on to the game:
The scenario was an Austrian vs. French fight, somewhere in central Europe. Both sides had an equal number of infantry battalions. As for the other arms: The French had three cavalry regiments, matched only by a single Austrian regiment; while the Austrian's had three artillery batteries (two foot and one horse) against a single French foot battery.
I ended up playing one of the Austrian commanders, leading the forces, one foot battery and three infantry battalions, on our left flank.
Here, two of the three French commanders making their plans and conducting their opening moves:
Within the first turn, the French cavalry began toying with our infantry on the right flank. The horsemen would simply parade around the field, always within striking distance, forcing some of our infantry into squares as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, in my neck of the woods on the left, the French deployed in columns and line and "came on in the same old style."
Back on the right, more of our infantry formed square when a French cavalry regiment crested the nearby hill. The right flank commander's gun battery went into action firing canister shot (note the triangular template).
As the French on our left drew nearer, my fellow commanders and I felt it was prudent to anchor our flank onto the Hougoumont-style chateau.
During this time, and throughout most of the game, our other two gun batteries became embroiled in an artillery duel with the solitary French battery--and more often than not, got out-shot by the French gunners.
Despite being outnumbered 3:1 in sabers and horseflesh, our cavalry went to work and charged a French infantry battalion, previously pounded by some of our guns.
While our horsemen were harrying one French unit, the other two battalions swung around and readied themselves for assault action.
Our cavalry finally managed to cut down the fleeing French battalion.
In the center, our horse battery limbered-up and bugged-out of the cannonade, while another infantry battalion formed into a precautionary square. By this time our center foot battery was down to two serviceable guns, out of six.
Once our horse battery galloped out of the way, one of the center battalions re-formed into column and advanced up the hill, while another battalion formed square.
As the French assault columns on the left advanced, our horse battery unlimbered across the river and unleashed several salvos of canister shot into the packed ranks of Frenchmen.
Meanwhile, the packed ranks of French cavalry trotted around our right flank.
Despite suffering 30% casualties from shot & shell, the French columns assaulted "Chateau Point d'Ancrage" (Chateau Anchor Point).
After a couple rounds of combat on both flanks, the situation still hung on a saber's edge.
Unfortunately, the game was halted at this point due to time.
Despite the dire threat to my chateau bastion, this was an enjoyable event to participate in. Bill, Josh and "the Gamemaster with No Name," were a congenial bunch to game with. The figures and terrain pieces were well-crafted, providing a mass-battle spectacle with minuscule space restrictions. The scenario was well-balanced and presented numerous challenges to both sides.
My only room-for-improvement comment would be directed at the rules used during the game. It's a home-brewed set called, The Conflict, which I believe was written by Bill.
And from what I could see, The Conflict weighed-in at 60+ pages. Which is actually rather good, compared to a lot of the published tomes out there. I liked the unit cards, seen here in a pile on the lower right portion of this picture:
These were handy playing aids encased in heavy laminate, that contained most of the information a player needed regarding a unit's combat effectiveness and movement orders. Speaking of which, since orders were easy to jot down, The Conflict utilized simultaneous movement, which I happen to favor over the usual IGO-UGO method.
However, none of us players knew the rules, so Bill was barraged with questions and even validity challenges. This slowed the game down at various times throughout the entire period.
Maybe one of the following suggestions might help improve a session's play tempo:
--Post the rules as a PDF prior to the event, so would-be players can do some homework before the game. Or--
--Write "The Conflict Lite" version for conventions. Players then, can read through the few pages as they sit down and admire the miniatures, while the gamemasters make their final preparations.
Hopefully these, or other constructive recommendations players may have, will help minimize the downtime needed to research rules questions and answer challenges.
Because of my work schedule, I was only able to participate in two games: Bill's 6mm Napoleonics, and Sven's SAGA Tournament.
Deciding what to play, among so many options with a limited amount of time, was nerve-wracking and difficult for me...
|(Image from: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)|
...but this year, I think I "...have chosen wisely."