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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Volley and Bayonet: The Battle of Oberbratwurst: The Opening Moves

The fictional Battle of Oberbratwurst, fought during the War of Spanish Succession, will be fought using the rules Volley and Bayonet. Volley and Bayonet is a "grand-tactical" level game and allows players to assume the roles of Army and other higher level commanders. Figures are mounted on one stand and rosters are utilizing that have the unit's strength points.

Infantry units for the 18th century represent Infantry Regiments; Infantry units in the 19th century represent Brigades and are on bigger stands. For both centuries, Cavalry are Brigades.

Unlike other rules where players have to worry about the formations of their individual units, in these rules it is assumed that the Brigadiers and Colonels know their business and will deploy their units accordingly. In this game players need to worry about deploying and maneuvering their armies!

As mentioned, a roster sheet (posted in an earlier blog) is used to keep track of the status of units. Each "strength" point of infantry or cavalry represents approximately 500 men. Each strength point of artillery represents 6 guns. Most units for the War of Spanish Succession have 2 strength points each. Units lose points through long range fire and close combat (which represents close range musketry and melee combined).

Morale, command and division cohesion are all elements of the game but not overly complicated. In fact, the basic rules are just 18 pages long! Now, on to battle!

The lovely city of Oberbratwurst at the peak of the tourist season.

Imperial cavalry on the Allied Left Flank commanded by the Austrian Lieutenant General von Natzmer.

The Danish contingent of the Imperial Infantry Corps under the command of the Prince of Anhalt-Dessau.

The Danish Foot Guards (Yes I painted them because they had yellow coats!)

Major General the Prince of Holstein-Beck's Infantry Command consisting of Dutch, Scottish and English troops.

Lieutenant General Lord John Cutts leads his wing of Allied infantry.

Allied Cavalry commanded by General of Horse the Erbprinz of Hesse-Kessel move to the extreme left flank of the Allied line.

The Elite French Gendarmes take the position of honor as part of the Comte de Zurlauben's forces.

 The Garde Francaise are held in Army reserve.

The Bavarian Leibregiment in the middle of the Franco-Bavarian deployment. The Marquis de Maffei commands the Bavarian infantry.

 More of the Bavarians under the Marquis de Maffei.

 Two foreign regiments in the French Army: Dillon's Irish Regiment and the Swiss Regiment Reynold. Both are part of the infantry command of the Marquis de Blainville.

Massed French and Bavarian Cavalry under the Count d'Arco support a French infantry line.

Turn 1: Franco-Bavarians. We diced to see who would go first and the Franco-Bavarian Army won the toss. I immediately saddled my horse and pointed at the enemy line. "Advance!" I said. I decided to move and take control of the center of the battlefield, hoping to throw my opponent off by my aggressive move. I had a regiment of dismounted dragoons move into Oberbratwurst and ease the concerns of the inhabitants of the lovely Bavarian city.

Situation Map After the Franco - Bavarian Advance

The might of the French and Bavarian Armies

The French and Bavarians quickly seize control of the center of the battlefield while the French cavalry on the right flank move around the outskirts of Oberbratwurst in an attempt to deploy into line of battle.

Dismounted French Dragoons occupy Oberbratwurst. The yellow marker behind them signifies that the dragoons are disorganized. In other words, they lost their "battle formation" as they moved through the streets and will need some time to reorganize.

Turn 1: The Grand Alliance. So did my advance through off the Allies? Nope. In a surprise move (at least it was a surprise to me!), it seemed like every horseman in the Allied army was bearing down on the Franco-Bavarian left flank. Then I thought - wait a minute, I outnumber my opponent in cavalry about 2 to 1 (BWAH HAH HAH!).

The Austrian Cuirassier units boldly charge into the French cavalry. The line behind the French consists of Bavarian Cuirassiers and more French Cavalry.

French and Austrian Infantry prepare to blast away at each others lines. The Danish Corps and the Bavarians will also exchange fire as both sides have light losses.

And then it got ugly. The French cavalry forgot that they outnumbered their Austrian counterparts. The furious and unexpected charge of the Austrian Cuirassiers disordered and swept from the field the majority of the French Cavalry.

The French Cavalry Commander, the Count d'Arco, boldly stares down the Austrians as he wonders where his cavalry command went.

Next: The Franco - Bavarian Response.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Volley and Bayonet: The Battle of Oberbratwurst: The Commanders

If you are going to have an epic battle, you might as well have some epic Commanders along for the ride:

John Churchill, Duke of MarlboroughThe greatest general (in my opinion) England has ever produced. He never fought a battle he didn't win and never conducted a siege that was not successfully concluded. Marlborough's stand has a Dutch officer reporting to Marlborough while his trumpeter and an escort from the Royal Scottish Dragoons look on. Next to Marlborough is the Queen's Regiment.

Prince Francois Eugene of Savoy. One of the great commanders of the Age of Lace; ironically, refused a commission in the French Army by Louis XIV and thus entered Austrian Service. Forged a great partnership with Marlborough. Prince Eugene is escorted by a dragoon of the Prinz Eugene Dragoons and an officer of the Darmstadt Kuirassiers.

Maximilian Emanuel II von Wittelsbach, Elector of Bavaria. Max Emanuel II fought successfully against the Turks on many occasions and defeated the Imperials (Austrians) at Sieghardin on March 11th, 1703. Max is giving orders to a senior regimental officer while one of his staff officers looks on. A dragoon from the Dragoon Regiment Santani provides protection.

Camille d'Hostun, Comte de Tallard and Duc d'Hostun, Marshal of France. A highly successful commander, he received his Marshal's baton when he led 8,000 men against 20,000 Imperials at Speyerbach and captured the city fortress of Landau. Marshal Tallard is accompanied by a staff officer and French dragoons.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Volley and Bayonet: The Battle of Oberbratwurst

The opposing armies are starting to move toward each other somewhere in Bavaria near the city of Oberbratwurst. Yep, it's 1704 and the War of Spanish Succession is in full swing. The Grand Alliance has finished deploying while the Bavarians and French are still formulating their battle plan. The Anglo-Dutch forces will be commanded by myself, while the Imperial Army, consisting of the Austrians, Hesse and Denmark will be commanded by Honorable Son #4.

Here is the order of battle for the French and Bavarians using Volley and Bayonet:

Field Marshall Tallard (Army Commander)

Reserve Ex=2

Garde Francaise M7 [ ] [ ] [ ]

Marquis de Clerambault (Wing Commander) Ex=12

Regt Royal Italien M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Picardie M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Greder (German) M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Rochembeau M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Soissonais M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Grancey M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt La Raimbuiere M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt St. Germain M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Lorraine M5 [ ] [ ]

Dismounted Dragoons M4 [ ] [ ]

Fr Field #1 M5 [ ] [ ]

Fr Heavy #1 M5 [ ] [ ]

Comte de Zurlauben (Cavalry Commander) Ex=4

Gendarmes M7 [ ] [ ] [ ]

Regt de Roi M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Commissaire-General M5 [ ] [ ]

Duc d’ Humeries (Cavalry Commander) Ex=3

Regt Villeroy M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Orleans M5 [ ] [ ]

Dragoon Regt Boufflers M5 [ ] [ ]

Elector Max II Emanuel of Bavaria (Army Commander) Monarch

Reserve Column Ex=2

Regt Piedmont M5 [ ] [ ]

Converged Grenadier Regt M5 [ ] [ ]

Marquis de Blainville Ex=7

Dillon's Irish Regiment M6 [ ] [ ]

Regt Reynold (Swiss) M6 [ ] [ ]

Regt Normandie M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Sillery M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Bearn M5 [ ] [ ]

Fr Field #2 M5 [ ] [ ]

Fr Field #3 M5 [ ] [ ]

Count d’Arco (Cavalry Wing Commander) Ex=7

Regt Fiennes M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt FitzJames (Irish) M5 [ ] [ ] f

Regt Colonel-General M5 [ ] [ ] f

Regt Heudincourt M5 [ ] [ ] f

Dragoon Regt Dauphin M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Wolframsdorff Kuirassiers M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Arco Kuirassiers M5 [ ] [ ]
Marquis de Maffei (Bavarian Wing Commander) Ex=8

LeibRegiment M6 [ ] [ ]

Regt Lutzenberg M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Kurprinz M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Spilberg M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Tattenback M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Bettendorf M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Maffey M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Haxthausen M5 [ ] [ ]

And now, the Grand Alliance . . .
John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough (Army Commander)
Army Artillery, Colonel Blood

English Field #1 M5 [ ] [ ]

Dutch Field #1 M5 [ ] [ ]

General Charles Churchill (General of Foot)
LTG Lord John Cutts (Wing Commander) Ex=11

1st Foot Guards M7 [ ] [ ] *pf

Scots Regiment of Fusiliers M6 [ ] [ ] pf

North and Grey's Regiment M6 [ ] [ ] pf

Queen's Regiment M6 [ ] [ ] pf

Gardes Te Voet (Blue Guard) M7 [ ] [ ] *pf

Regt Welderen M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Brandenburg M5 [ ] [ ]

Colyer's Scottish Regiment M6 [ ] [ ] pf

Murray's Scottish Regiment M6 [ ] [ ] pf

MG the Prince of Holstein-Beck Ex=5

Regt Beinheim M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Van Bulow M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Van Waes M5 [ ] [ ]

Tatton's Regiment M5 [ ] [ ]

Portmore's Scottish Regiment M5 [ ] [ ]

Erbprinz of Hesse-Kessel (General of Horse) Ex=6

Cadogan's Horse M5 [ ] [ ] eds

Lumley's Horse M5 [ ] [ ] eds

Sachsen-Heilburg Horse M5 [ ] [ ]

d'Obdam Horse M5 [ ] [ ]

Royal Scottish Dragoons (Scots Greys) M6 [ ] [ ] d

Royal Regiment of Dragoons M5 [ ] [ ] ns/d

Prince Eugene of Savoy, Imperial Army (Army Commander)

Aus Field #1 M5 [ ] [ ]

Danish Light M5 [ ] [ ]

Imperial Infantry Corps, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (Wing Commander) Ex=9

Prince Carl Regt (Danish) M5 [ ] [ ]

Prince George Regt (Danish) M5 [ ] [ ]

Livgarde Til Fods (Danish) M5 [ ] [ ]

Prince George Regt #2 (Danish) M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Konigsegg M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Alt-Salm M5 [ ] [ ]

Regt Wallis M5 [ ] [ ]

Prince Maximillan Grenadiers M5 [ ] [ ]

Converged Grenadiers M5 [ ] [ ]

Imperial Cavalry Corps, LTG v. Natzmer Ex=5

Lobkowitz Kuirassiers M5 [ ] [ ]

Alt-Hanover Kuirassiers M5 [ ] [ ]

Darmstadt Kuirassiers M5 [ ] [ ]

Bayreuth Dragoons M5 [ ] [ ]

Prinz Eugene Dragoons M5 [ ] [ ]

Next up: The commanders.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Starship Troopers: The Annual Read


 Starship Troopers (novel).jpg

"I always get the shakes before a jump . . ." thus starts one of the greatest military science fiction novels of all time, Starship Troopers (Paid Link)by Robert Heinlein. Even today, the book has stood the test of time, and was a big influence on my decision to be an Infantry officer.

When I attended the Command and General Staff College, I was pleasantly surprised to see the novel on the required reading list. Today, the novel is still on the reading list for the US Army, Navy and United States Marine Corps.

The overall theme of the book is that social responsibility requires individual ownership. Social responsibility is an act of self acceptance of that responsibility along with the concomitant commitment to the debts that are incurred. 

Juan Rico begins the novel with no thought of his personal responsibility or of any particular group's responsibility to self or others. This theme is obliquely addressed in the novel's opening: "We had all inspected our combat equipment (look, it's your own neck -- see?), the acting platoon sergeant had gone over us carefully after he mustered us, and now Jelly went over us again, his eyes missing nothing." "Now I was going to have a hole in my section and no way to fill it. That's not good; it means a man can run into something sticky, call for help and have nobody to help him." "I've heard tell that there used to be military outfits whose chaplains did not fight alongside the others, but I've never been able to see how that could work. I mean, how can a chaplain bless anything he's not willing to do himself? In any case, in the Mobile Infantry, everybody drops and everybody fights -- chaplain and cook and the Old Man's writer."

 The theme is repeated through flashbacks to High School and Officer Candidate School in a required class called History and Moral Philosophy. In this view, everything from the right to vote to the punishments for various crimes are depicted as part of a larger effort to recognize society's needs and improve society, as distinct from self-interest. The service Heinlein envisioned was an all-volunteer service, long before the US military had changed to an all-volunteer model. Other than the rights to vote and hold public office, there is no other restriction between service veterans and civilians.


In the course of both the "current" plot and flashbacks Rico learns to take responsibility for ever increasing groups: himself, his comrades, and eventually all of mankind (a shared responsibility), and accept that as the reason for remaining in the service. Further, Rico is seen to develop from a relatively powerless citizen, to a very dangerous fighter: "There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men. We're trying to teach you to be dangerous -- to the enemy. Dangerous even without a knife. Deadly as long as you still have one hand or one foot and are still alive."

I just finished my annual reading of the book . . . something I do annually!

Now for the Warning!!!
This is a poster for the movie directed by Paul Verhoeven who admitted he never finished reading the book.  Please don't watch it . . . you'll thank me later.  Not only does the movie miss most of the points of the book and, as a retired infantry officer (Regulars By God!), it's embarrassing to watch. 
Please don't get me started on how they portray Lieutenant Rasczak, the epitome of the servant leader in the novel that leads the Roughnecks.

One of the worst scenes in the book is when the platoon is defending an outpost and the bugs are coming. I can see the nuclear rockets strapped to the backs of the (so called) Mobile Infantry! So what do they do? Break out the SMALL ARMS (sigh). How about the scene when the platoon surround a bug in a circle, and then they all fire at the bug! In a circle? They would have hit each other. (Note: That's a safety violation) And please

Do not watch the movie!

The book sums it up nicely: "For the everlasting glory of the Infantry . . ."

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Battle of Lament Hill: Conclusion and Observations


A quick recap of what has happened in our first battle of Rebels and Patriots (Paid Link): Bloody fighting, lots of casualties, units routing, and the French controlled the objective for 3 turns.

Turn 7.

Even though the French commander and 50% of the French army (points) have fled the field of the battle, the French see an opportunity against the the now much diminished British Force. Even though their is little chance the French can occupy the objective again, the British have been unable to occupy the objective with the 42nd Highlanders disordered and the Rangers on the other side of the battlefield. The French intend to keep the 42nd disordered.

The Sharpshooters of the Canadian Militia take out a grenadier of the 42nd but they pass morale.

Caught in a crossfire, the French 2nd Marine Company takes out three more figures but once again pass their morale check. Now the British turn.

The 42nd Highlanders successfully rally allowing them to remove all disorder markers and occupy (they are within 3 inches of the objective marker) the objective.

The depleted, and permanently disorder Ranger force makes it to the cover of the tree line.

The British have now occupied the objective for 1 Turn versus 3 Turns for the French.

Turn 8.

The Sharpshooters take aim . . .

. . . and three more exposed Highlanders are felled!

They pass their morale check; but, now that they are at 50% strength they receive a permanent disorder marker. They still control the objective.

The 2nd Marine Company on the left flank fires!

Another Highlander falls - but they pass morale.

Time to activate - double "1's"! Nooooooooo! Fortunately for the Highlanders they roll and get "Friendly Fire." Since there are no friendly units in range or visible, the Highlanders do not have to fire on their own.

The Rangers fire from the tree line and two Marines fall.

The 2nd Marines are now permanently disordered and during their move take cover near the hedges of the farm. 

"You want us to shoot again? Sorry, the hockey game is starting."

And then the sun went down and the battle ended . . . 

In the scenario, after the completion of turn 8 a die is rolled at the beginning of each turn and then adding the number of turns that have been played. If the total equals 14 or more, the scenario ends. A hush fell over the darkened battlefield.

A seemingly inconclusive, bloody skirmish - just like many actual battles and fights of The French and Indian War. So which officer got the most Honor?

Lieutenant Charles Deschamps de Boishebert et de Raffetot:

1. +3 Honor for controlling the Objective Marker for the most turns.
2. +1 Honor causing at least 33% casualties to the enemy (in points).

Total: 4

Lieutenant Coll McDougall:

1. +1 Honor causing at least 33% casualties to the enemy (in points).

Total: 1

A French victory. Narratively both sides took heavy casualties and the British kinda, sorta held the field; but they are too disordered and exhausted to consolidate their gains - plus the French are still out their taking pot shots!

Observations from our first game of Rebels and Patriots (Paid Link):

1. Love the feel of the large skirmish game.

2. Activations. As a retired soldier I know stuff happens! That flat terrain has an unexpected steep ditch you did not see; Pierre stumbles and twists his ankle; what did you want to do again? As expected, the more disciplined the unit (and the positioning of the officer) adds to a successful roll.

3. Firing. The firing mechanism I believe is right; 2 hits are required normally to remove a figure which replicates muskets quite nicely. 

4. Light Infantry, Skirmishers, and Natives. These units are hard to hit in Firing as you would expect. The units count open terrain as cover requiring 3 hits to remove a figure; if in cover they need 4 hits, etc. As both sides were made up of these units, with only one exception, the firing usually only took out one or two figures at a time. It will be interesting as we acquire some line infantry to see how the Firing goes.

Take advantage of your special rules. That goes for me too!

4. Fighting. This was the big casualty producer until late in the game when the 42nd Highlanders were the only target. Bloody! Tomahawks, rifle butts and bayonets. True Hollywood fashion. 
As a side note, when the Rangers attacked the Huron Tribe, the Hurons forgot that they could counterattack - oh well.

5. Small Units (especially Skirmishers). At first glance they seem a bargain in points due to their lower cost and having the same amount of Firing/Fighting dice as a normal sized unit; but, they are so brittle. Once these smaller units started taking casualties, they were easily permanently disordered and/or routed. As a reminder, when disordered or permanently disordered they only fight with 1/2 of their dice. Skirmishers have a low discipline (except when upgraded) which is a challenge for activations and rallying. So you takes your chances and roll the dice!

Not looking good.

6. Disorder the enemy! If you can keep as many of the enemy units disordered as possible, his fighting is weakened and he has to make decisions on whether to rally (meaning that's all he can do) or take the risk to stay disordered which is never a good idea and you are asking for a rout.

7. Shock Infantry in Close Order. Wow. When the 42nd hit the 1st Marine Company in an attack, it was a slaughter and caused the French to rout with their leader. Shock Infantry normally has a Fighting factor of 5+, plus the Highlanders were Aggressive making it a 4+, plus they were attacking making it a 3+, and finally, it was their first Firing/Fighting of the game giving them a +2. Line Infantry also has the first Firing/Fighting rule. Muskets are clean and not fouled with repeated firing using black powder and for Fighting, it represents men who are not tired, have their gander up and our ready to stick it to the enemy! 

All in all the battle was exciting, fast, and a nail biter: The French almost pulled Defeat from the jaws of victory and British forgot that Close Order Infantry could pass through Light Infantry which might have tip the scales of the battle. Maybe.

"Next time my brave lads!"

So what will happen next? Both sides need to lick their wounds, reorganize and plan for their next encounter.

Until next time . . .