The New Morschauserland-Fezian Border Dispute: Play-test 2 – The assault on Fort de Gre

Scenario

After they capture of Fort de Gre the commander of the Morschauserland Colonial Corps (MCC) mobilized as many troops as he could to assault and re-take the fort. He called this new military command the ‘Fezian Frontier Field Force’, and it comprised:

  • 1st MCC Infantry Unit
  • 1st MCC Native Infantry Unit
  • 2nd MCC Native Infantry Unit
  • 1st New Morschauserland Police Infantry Unit
  • 1st New Morschauserland Native Police Infantry Unit
  • 1st MCC Artillery Unit
  • 2nd MCC Artillery Unit
  • 1st MCC Machine Gun Unit

The Fezians had stationed a substantial garrison in the captured fort. It comprised:

  • 1st Fezian Zouaves of the Guard Infantry Unit
  • 1st Fezian Infantry Unit
  • 1st Fezian Militia Infantry Unit
  • 1st Fezian Artillery Unit
  • 1st Fezian Machine Gun Unit

These troops had no been idle since the capture of the fort. They had extended its defences with earthworks, and were prepared for an attack. It would not be long coming.

The defenders of Fort de Gre.

Note

Because the main rule mechanisms are already well tested, this battle report will concentrate on the main events of the battle and will not report in detail on dice throw and its results.

Turn 1

The Morschauserlanders carefully advanced in an extended line towards the fort, making sure that their Infantry Units kept out of rifle range. The Artillery Units of both sides exchanged fire, and the Morschauserlanders inflicted two casualties on the Fezian Artillery Unit.

The Fezian defences as seen from behind the initial Morschauserland Artillery positions.

Turn 2

The artillery duel continued, but neither side was able to inflict any casualties on the other. In the meantime the 1st MCC Machine Gun Unit opened fire on the 1st Fezian Militia Infantry Unit, and despite the fact that the Fezians were behind earthworks, they managed to kill a Militiaman for the loss of one of the machine gun crew. The three Morschauserland Units on the left flank engaged the 1st Fezian Infantry Unit and cause two casualties for no loss whilst the two Infantry Units on the right (2nd MCC Native Infantry Unit and 1st New Morschauserland Native Police Infantry Unit) successfully engaged in a firefight with 1st Fezian Machine Gun Unit, killing two of the machine gun crew in the process.

The Morschauserland ‘Fezian Frontier Field Force’ advanced towards Fort de Gre in an extended line, with the Artillery Units in the centre.

The left flank of the Morschauserland ‘Fezian Frontier Field Force’.

The 1st and 2nd Morschauserland Artillery Units engaged the Fezian defenders with little effect.

The 1st Fezian Zouaves of the Guard Infantry Unit occupied the centre of the Fort de Gre’s defences. To their left was the 1st Fezian machine Gun Unit and to their right was the 1st Fezian Artillery Unit.

Turn 3

The inexorable advance of the MCC continued, and despite valiant attempts by the defenders to deter them, they managed to reach the defences of Fort de Gre. The 1st Morschauserland Artillery Unit opened fire on the 1st Fezian Artillery Unit, thus making it possible for the Infantry Units on the left wing to close with the enemy.

The 1st New Morschauserland Police Infantry Unit fired at the Fezian defenders and charged home. In the ensuing Close Combat both sides lost two men, leaving the 1st New Morschauserland Police Infantry Unit as the victors. The 1st MCC Infantry Unit, who had already flanked the Fezian defences, but whose fire had been ineffective, can be seen tot he left of the picture.

On the right flank the 1st New Morschauserland Native Police Infantry Unit had also assaulted the Fezian defences, but had not yet been able to drive off the 1st Fezian Militia Infantry Unit that they faced. The 1st MCC Machine Gun Unit engaged its opposite number, the 1st Fezian Machine Gun Unit, but was unable to inflict any casualties on that Unit. It was left to the 2nd MCC Native Infantry Unit to assault the section of defences occupied by the 1st Fezian Machine Gun Unit, and in the ensuing Close Combat they overcome the last remaining member of the Fezian Unit at no cost to themselves.

The 1st MCC Machine Gun Unit fired at the 1st Fezian Machine Gun Unit, but caused no casualties. The 1st New Morschauserland Native Police Infantry Unit can be seen engaging the 1st Fezian Militia Infantry Unit in Close Combat.

The 2nd MCC Native Infantry Unit assaulted the defences occupied by the 1st Fezian Machine Gun Unit. Sheer weight of numbers told, and they were able to kill the last remaining defender without loss.

At this point all was lost for the Fezians. They had fought well, but despite their extensive defences the luck had not been with them on the day. The commander of the 1st Fezian Zouaves of the Guard Infantry Unit offered to stop the bloodshed by giving up the fort, and his troops were allowed to withdraw unmolested. Fort de Gre was back in Morschauserland hands again … but for how long?

The battlefield just before the Fezian surrender. Had the battle continued there was little likelihood that the Fezians could have prevailed in the end, and so they withdrew to fight another day.

Conclusions

This second play-test reinforced the fact that the rules work well as they currently stand. The next step will be to base some sword and spear-armed Native single figure bases so that I can test the minor changes to the rules that I have mentioned in recent blog entries.


The ‘Nostalgia’ Project

I have the good fortune to live less than 15 minutes drive from a very good second-hand bookshop – Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop – that (as the name implies) specialises in military and transport books. As I had to drive past the shop on my way to do some of my regular weekend chores, and stopped off for a quick look round … and I am very glad that I did!

In amongst the large collection of military books on the shelves I found a 1964 copy of DAS KLEINE PANZERBUCH by Dr F M von Senger und Etterlin. Amongst the vehicles featured in the Swedish section were:

  • The Strv 74 tank
  • The Pvkv 71 self-propelled gun
  • The Ikv 103 assault gun

These vehicles are the going to be the designs upon which the AFVs used by Opeland will be based (see my previous blog entry on 13th August 2009), so having both data and – more importantly – scale line drawings is going to be of great help when I finally get this project underway. In the meantime, here are some images of some of the line drawings I will be using:


Wild colonial terrain

Just as I was falling asleep last night I remembered seeing an idea demonstrated at the COW2005 (the Conference of Wargamers that was held in July 2005 at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire).

During an ‘Ideas Exchange’ session, Peter Crawshaw brought along a very low-cost method of making hedges using sawdust and white PVA glue.

The method used was to mix the sawdust in a disposable carton with the PVA glue until it achieved the consistency of a stiff paste. Lumps of the mixture were then taken out of the carton, rolled into rough sausage-shaped pieces to the right length and height, shaped so that the bottom edge was flat, and then placed on a flat surface to dry. The drying process could take several days, but once dry the whole thing was solid and could then be painted.

The example he brought along was painted up as a hedge, but after looking at the unpainted one I am struck by the fact that it could easily have been painted to represent a small hill or rocky outcrop.


Wild colonial terrain

Jim Wright sent me an email about creating terrain that gave lots of cover for colonial battles without costing the earth.

His suggestion is based on the sort of hills and mountains that are featured on Major General Tremorden Rederring’s Colonial Wargames Page. I know that these work as I have made and used my own versions from thin plywood and balsa wood (see below).

Jim’s idea is to make smaller versions to represent small hills or outcrops.

He sent me a sketch to illustrate his suggestion, and I must admit that on seeing it I immediately saw the potential of his idea.

I have all the necessary materials to hand to make a couple so that I can try them out. All I need is the time to make them!


Are Native troops really better in hand-to-hand combat?

Jim Wright has raised a very interesting point in his comments to my recent blog entry. The main thrust of what he asks is:

Why do colonial wargames rules always seem to make Native troops more effective in hand-to-hand combat?
He made this point in response to my latest Unit Data Table, and after thinking about what he had written I had to agree that he was right … most colonial wargames rules – including my own – do make Native troops more effective in hand-to-hand combat. But I could not give a good reason why they did.

My rather feeble excuse was that it this instance I did not have enough single figure bases of Native troops to have a large enough number on the tabletop … but after thinking about it I came to the conclusion that the reality of the situation was that I had just followed everyone else. So what can I do?

Firstly, I can make Native troops have the same Close Combat Power as their non-Native equivalents. This has the added effect of keeping the rule simple (players only have to retain one Close Combat Power for all Infantry Units, one for all Cavalry Units, and one for all Artillery Units).

Secondly, I can actually get round to re-basing some of my Native figures so that I have more of them to deploy on the tabletop.

Thirdly – and somewhat controversially – I could look at the possibility of using my multi-figure Native troop bases alongside my single figure bases. Native troops that are armed only with swords and spears would remain on multi-figure bases whilst those armed with muskets would be on single figure bases. The Units all contain four bases, but the sword and spear-armed Natives have three times as many figures per Unit. The following picture shows what I mean.

A possible solution it might be … but is it a good one? Comments please!


Modified Morschauser ‘19th Century’ Wargames Rules

I have been thinking about adding additional types of Unit to the current list of four to make the rules suitable for fighting colonial battles that involve native troops. These additional Units would be:

  • Native Infantry armed with muskets
  • Native Infantry armed with spears and swords
  • Native Cavalry
  • Native Artillery

The revised Unit Data Table would look like this:

The Native Infantry and Cavalry Units would move faster than their opponents, but would be inferior except when fighting in Close Combat. The Native Artillery would be slower and have less range than their opponents.


PBEM Kriegsspiel – The Waterloo Campaign

An extract from von Blücher’s diary for 12th June 1815:

I have news that the French are where we expected them to be, and we are moving forward to meet them. So far we have only skirmished with their Light Cavalry, but this suggests that they have something to hide.

I have issued my orders, and I trust my Generals to carry them out. I know that they will fight even unto death for the glory of Prussia and the King, as will our soldiers. They are all fine men, and will acquit themselves as such.

Forwards!


The New Morschauserland-Fezian Border Dispute: Play-test 1 – The relief mission to Fort de Gre

This short skirmish was fought to test the latest draft of my adaptation of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Modern’ Period Rules for the 19th century era, particularly the recent changes that have been made to the turn sequence.

Because the basic mechanisms have remained the same, this play-test will not be as detailed as previous ones that I have written about my adaptation of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Modern’ Period Rules.

Scenario

Like so many countries Morschauserland sought its ‘place in the sun’, and during the latter part of the 19th century it acquired a small colony in Africa which it named – somewhat unoriginally – New Morschauserland. This colony lay in an area that was claimed by Fezia (another of the colonial powers) and from the very earliest arrival of Morschauserland troops there were a series of minor border skirmishes. This is the story of one of those skirmishes.

Fort de Gre – a large native-style hut surrounded by a wall of sun-baked bricks – marked the edge of New Morschauserland. It was garrisoned by an Infantry Unit of locally-recruited troops who were relieved every couple of months by a supply column. This column usually included a locally-recruited MCC (Morschauserland Colonial Corps) Infantry Unit (which was the new garrison), an MCC Infantry Unit, an Artillery Unit of the MCC, and a Machine Gun Unit of the MCC.

The order of march adopted by the column was:

  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit
  • The MCC Artillery Unit
  • The MCC Infantry Unit
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit

The fort was regarded by the Fezians as both an affront to their country and a potential base for their control of the disputed border area. The local commander – Whali Pasha – decided that the fort had to be captured and the Morschauserlanders taught a lesson. He therefore sent a punitive force to capture the fort. The force included two Infantry Units of the Fezian Army (a regular Fezian Infantry Unit and an infantry Unit from the Fezian Zouaves of the Guard), an Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia, a Fezian Artillery Unit, and a Fezian Machine Gun Unit.

The order of advance adopted by the Fezian double-width column was:

  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia on the left and the regular Fezian Infantry Unit on the right
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit on the left and the Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard on the right
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit on the right

Unfortunately he chose to mount his assault on the fort on the same day that the Morschauserland relief column was due to reach Fort de Gre.

A map of the disputed area.

Turn 1

The playing cards were shuffled and dealt as follows:

Morschauserlanders

  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: Queen of Hearts (QH)
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: 5 of Hearts (5H)
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 4 of Hearts (4H)
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 4 of Spades (4S)
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5 of Clubs (5C)

Fezians

  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: Ace of Spades (1S)
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 5 of Diamonds (5D)
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: King of Spades (KS)
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 3 of Spades (3S)
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: Jack of Diamonds (JD)

The order in which Units were activated was, therefore:

  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: Ace of Spades (1S)
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 3 of Spades (3S)
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 4 of Hearts (4H)
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 4 of Spades (4S)
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: 5 of Hearts (5H)
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5 of Clubs (5C)
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 5 of Diamonds (5D)
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: Jack of Diamonds (JD)
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: Queen of Hearts (QH)
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: King of Spades (KS)

Other than the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit, all the Units were activated and moved towards their various objectives. As none of the Units were within range of each other, there was no combat.

Turn 2

The playing cards were shuffled and dealt as follows (N.B. from this point onwards the cards will be referred to by abbreviation e.g. 5 of Hearts = 5H):

Morschauserlanders

  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: 5D
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: KS
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 3S
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: JD
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5H

Fezians

  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 4H
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 4S
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5C
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 1S
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 2S

The order in which Units were activated was, therefore:

  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: 1S
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 2S
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 3S
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 4H
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 4S
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 5H
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5C
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit in Fort de Gre: 5D
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: JD
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column: KS

The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard moved forward until it was in range of the fort and opened fire. It hit 2 of the defenders, killing 1 of them.

The Fezian Zouaves of the Guard open fire on the fort’s defenders.

The Fezian Machine Gun Unit followed them forward and also fired at the fort’s defenders, hitting and killing 2 of them.

The Fezian Machine Gun Unit also inflicted casualties on the fort’s defenders.

The MCC Artillery Unit moved towards the fort, but was out of range. The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia advanced and opened fire on the fort, but caused no casualties.

The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia moved up and opened fire on the fort, but to no avail.

The regular Fezian Infantry Unit moved to the right flank of the Fezian Machine Gun Unit and its fire killed the fort’s last remaining defender.

The regular Fezian Infantry Unit’s fire killed the last remaining defender in the fort.

The remaining Units – the MCC Machine Gun Unit, the Fezian Artillery Unit, the MCC Infantry Unit, and the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit with the column – all advanced but did not engage any enemy Units.

The situation at the end of Turn 2. The Fezians were advancing on the now empty fort …

… and the Morschauserlanders were unable to stop their advance.

Turn 3

The playing cards were shuffled and dealt as follows:

Morschauserlanders

  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit: QH
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 7D
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 8S
  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 2C

Fezians

  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 2D
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 10D
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5S
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: KH
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 5H

The order in which Units were activated was, therefore:

  • The MCC Machine Gun Unit: 2C
  • The Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia: 2D
  • The Fezian Machine Gun Unit: 5H
  • The Fezian Artillery Unit: 5S
  • The MCC Artillery Unit: 7D
  • The MCC Infantry Unit: 8S
  • The regular Fezian Infantry Unit: 10D
  • The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit: QH
  • The Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard: KH

The MCC Machine Gun Unit, the Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia, the Fezian Machine Gun Unit, and the Fezian Artillery Unit all continued to advance towards the fort and the Morschauserland troops, but as none of the Morschauserland Units were in range, the Fezians did not open fire.

When the MCC Artillery Unit moved forward the regular Fezian Infantry Unit was in range of their gun, and they fired on the Fezian Unit and killed 1 of its soldiers.

The MCC Artillery Unit opens fire at long range … and hits its target!

It was then the turn of the MCC Infantry Unit to advance, and they were able to fire at the Infantry Unit of locally-recruited Fezian Militia, hitting them and killing 1 of the Militiamen.

The MCC Infantry Unit open fire on the locally-recruited Fezian Militia Infantry Unit.

The Fezians responded by moving the regular Fezian Infantry Unit forward. They engaged the MCC Infantry Unit, inflicting 3 casualties, of whom 2 were fatalities.

Although they have already suffered casualties, the Fezian Infantry Unit was able to inflict serious casualties on the MCC Infantry Unit.

The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit advanced and fired back at the regular Fezian Infantry Unit, but although they hit the Unit they inflicted no fatal casualties.

The locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit fired ineffectively at the regular Fezian Infantry Unit.

The final Unit to move was the Infantry Unit of Fezian Zouaves of the Guard, which was able to flank the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit, hitting them 3 times and killing 2 of its soldiers in the process.

The Fezian Zouaves of the Guard Infantry Unit fired into the flank of the locally-recruited MCC Infantry Unit … and killed two of its soldiers.

At this point the Morschauserlanders realised that they were in serious danger of being overwhelmed, and began to withdraw. The Fezians, who had captured their objective with only minimal casualties, allowed them to retreat unmolested. They then set about improving the fort’s defences ready for any possible counter-attack.

The situation at the end of the battle. The Fezians are poised to occupy the Fort de Gre and the Morschauserlanders prepare to withdraw.

Conclusions

The card-driven turn sequence worked as well as I had hoped, and produced a battle that felt far more fluid and unpredictable. Neither side was able to gain ascendancy early in the battle, and this was reflected in the to-and-fro nature of the combat. Further play-tests might be necessary, but at present they rules work very well in their current state.


Modified Morschauser ’19th Century’ Wargames Rules

After the recent play-tests of the latest draft of my adaptation of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Modern’ Period Rules for the 19th century era, it was apparent that several minor but significant changes needed to be made. These were:

  • The use of a card-driven turn sequence
  • The addition of an extra figure to Machine Gun and Artillery Units
  • The reduction of the strength of a Cavalry Unit from four to three figures

I have now made these changes, and the latest draft of the rules is below.

I hope to play-test this latest draft tomorrow if time and circumstances allow.


Nugget 232

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET (NUGGET 232) from the printers yesterday afternoon, and it has been put into envelopes and will be posted later this morning. With a bit of luck it should be with members early next week.

In the meantime I have uploaded the PDF versions of latest issue of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website so that all full and e-members can access it before the printed version is delivered.