Mythical Realms wargame rules wargaming

Fauxterre 1816: Part 6 Running the Rule over Kloster Arens

The Neil Thomas ruleset 19th Century European Wargaming (NT19e) has quickly become a favorite of mine, stoking an interest in an era that frankly I have never read about since I was taught, as a kid, about some mad British Cavalry charging Russian guns in a place called Crimea. And not knowing that the French and Prussians rehearsed world war 1 44 years early, in 1870, as well. I did learn about the American Civil War – but that was on a different continent, so doesn’t count.

Neil Thomas restricts his interest to the evolution of European Wars over a 60 year period.

Day 1: I used Neil Thomas NT19e to run a mini game between the advance guards

My original european wargaming interests ended at Waterloo in 1815, with Napoleon and then restarted in 1939 with world war 2.

Neil Thomas provides a comprehensive ruleset for battles between 1815 and 1877. Indeed he covers campaigns in a way not really addressed in any of his previous publications. He persists with his “keep it simple but interesting” style: Too simple and you get bored. And I originally considered my first contact with his Ancient and Medieval Wargames tended to the boring – compared to the more complicated rules still holding sway 15 years or so back then. How wrong that has proved to be. I now regularly use all his rulebooks.

For my first Zarland wars I have taken Neil Thomas NT19e and used the following

  • The forces generators for the mini and standard game
  • the command optional rules

To that I have added

  • My Zarland Campaign narrative – to provide the background and scenario details
  • Forces on the march so my forces invariably have advance guards or flying columns
  • Dispersal – you need to concentrate from the march because there is always something drawing troops away: So you don’t always get what you want, where you want it. Thats an imaginary life!

Zarland Backdrop

The collision of the three forces were part of the politics of the campaign with Davaria allied to Vin Alba and wanting to support Prince Otto, in reality also wanting a slice of Greater Zarland itself.

Vin Alba has other borders to attend to, so its own effort is only partial.

I used a simple random % to deal with such diverse interests and the use of respective forces drawn from each countries establishments. I normally set up an “establishment” – the theoretical force a country has in place or could raise with notice. Against this the actual field force is a product of circumstance, conflicted resources and leadership (both political and administrative).

So that gets you three slightly different forces and not all “top troops”.


The idea of forces on the march allowed me to apply the simple rule of an NT19e mini game for the advance guards contacting, followed by an NT19e main game for the main bodies clashing.

Day 2: At Kloster Arens – the main forces and their generals

I diced for broad decisions which led to the Davarians under General Modistin having no advance guard, marching to join and support an already present VinAlban army. Also neither Zarland nor VinAlban advance guards had control of the field. So it was a proper blundering encounter.

Units were mixed with blinds to create a shuffled card deck which was dealt randomly into marching columns. These were moved until contact was made. I also kept the card deployments in place to help create some fog of war. This complimented my “umpire” role in what was a “zero player” wargame.

The advance guards fought a simple engagement with only a few units heavily involved which is always the more likely in my games. It was simply a logical move to retreat the VinAlbans northwards at the end of the first day. By chance this fed the second day action with a false assumption, by the Zarlanders, that the VinAlbans were in force to the north of the battlefield. All this helps develop the battle narrative without hijacking it.

A lot of troops marched onto the field. In the event the weather brought matters to an early close.

On day 2 the main battlelines met on the same field. This time the NT19e command rule restricting the number of units in action per move did have some effect, while the use of written rules at least one move ahead, meant I had no temptation to make changes of order to achieve a sudden opportunity.

Finally the weather rule (from Charles Wesencraft’s Practical Wargames) provided detail and in fact influenced the game ending early. I then simply determined a number of options for day three and randomly selected one. This turned out to be the “VinAlbans break off action”. I then came up with the appropriate story line that this was caused by “orders from higher up” and ensuring some dissatisfaction on the part of the Davarians.

Mythical Realms Scenery wargaming

Fauxterre 1816: Part 5 The Terrain of Kloster Arens

The Field of Battle

The actual battlefield terrain was an accident. I wanted a river crossing at a road junction scenario. Zarland aim to control the junction, just inside their border, to prevent the VinAlbans and Davarian forces uniting.

A flat landscape was planned and then I remembered my collapsible tables had height adjustable legs. Coupled with my desire to experiment with cloth battlefields, one thing led to another.

I used three collapsible picnic tables which come with some handy height adjustment

I had seen a number of blog battle reports showing rolling countryside. I played around with some wooden blocks and old towelling. Finally I tried using a spare quilt!

I was surprised how the quilt gave just enough shape although my “25mm metals” squashed it a bit too much at times

Yes thats a rolled up wargames felt mat pressed into service as well. The wood pieces are discarded TV unit shelves (you never know when you might need trapezoidal wood shelving!).

The result was as you see it and I immediately set about planning the action.

Kloster Arens is suffering some slight settlement – I hope that door opens inwards. The road zigzag was a result of laying out the road and it seeming natural that the road would not go straight up the valley side.

Mythical Realms wargame rules wargaming

Fauxterre 1816 Part 3 – Rules for the Kloster Arens Encounter

In part 1 of this series of posts I covered the background to the “Twins War” which broke out in Greater Zarland.

In part 2 I gave a narrative account of an encounter between two advance guards of the respective Royal Zarland Army (the defender) and the VinAlban Army (the aggressor).

In this, part 3 I will detail the rules I am using.

Fauxterre is my mythical realm for what I call the Vienna Treaty Wars. The period between the demise of Napoleon and the Russians wresting control from the Ottoman Turks of the Black Sea is about 60 years and offers up a fascinating choice of technology, engagements and of course uniforms.

Fauxterre 1816 is very much Napoleonic in outlook to begin with. By Fauxterre 1878 the components for World War 1 are already in place – especially technology.

My primary ruleset is from Neil Thomas – Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe 1815-1878 (NT19e). How convenient!

published by Pen and Sword of Barnsley, Yorkshire, England available as an e book and the occasional ebay offering.

I now have many Neil Thomas titles in my wargames library. And this one first arrived as an “e publication”. I was so impressed I tracked down a rarely for sale hard copy version from the USA. I use both. I am a “printed” book collector anyway.

For my Fauxterre campaign I have also used some other rulesets to meet my needs.

They are

  • Charlie Wesencrafts Practical Wargaming
  • A solo wargames association article on campaign unit advancement
  • One Hour Wargames and Wargaming an Introduction by Neil Thomas
  • Table Top Battles – Grid Wargaming by Mike Smith
  • A Gentlemans War (e pub) by Howard Whitehouse
  • Piquet Field of Battle 2nd Edition by Brent Oman

In fact I am keeping the rulesets apart for battles and actions.

Why multiple rulesets?

As a soloist you can please yourself. I actually want the rules for different situations.

  • Table Top Battles on a grid are good for big encounters – one base equals say a battalion
  • One Hour wargames does what it says on the tin! quick turnround
  • A Gentlemans War lends itself to looking at skirmishes in more detail
  • NT19e simply gives you a complete package and coupled with One Hour Wargames, lots of flexibility
  • Piquet – simply because I like the randomness of the rules for a change! and lastly
  • Practical Wargaming by Charlie Wesencraft is another complete package and with some fine mechanisms it gives you a quick and interesting game (in a way Donald Featherstone offerings were not – with Donald Featherstone, I am always spoilt for his fantastic range of choices instead!).
  • Wargaming, an Introduction gives me some perspective on Neil Thomas thinking. It includes rules for Napoleonic and ACW wars which sort of bookend his NT19e ruleset.

Where to start?

I think for campaigns the attrition of forces is as good as any. And together with attrition is their reinforcement, gaining of experience and honours.

I came across these ideas in Donald Featherstones books first.

discovered in a library – it was my second wargames book after Charge!

The ideas have remained popular. Indeed RPG games starting with D&D quite simply were all about gaining experience and levelling up: The difference – it was so personal.

this now retired 1970’s level 3 thief would know all about levelling up in D&D

In 2012 Sam Mustapha published his Maurice ruleset and in there you find a very basic three level unit quality rule aimed at Maurice being a simple multi battle campaign.

  • Elite
  • Trained
  • Conscript

Neil Thomas uses a 3 level scale in his book Wargaming, an Introduction.

In the Napoleonic rules he uses Elite, Average and Levy with ranges 3-6/4-6 and 5-6 respectively. He then slides these to 4-6/5-6 and 6 on D6 dice rolls when he moves to the ACW era. You can see he downgrades “elite” and “average” while levy are also downgraded and become “militia”.

Perhaps in all this is the genesis of a finer grading he uses in Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe which I have abbreviated to NT19e. Either way Neil sees unit quality as an important ingredient for this post Napoleonic era which also includes the ACW period albeit in Europe. Morale on a D6 rating are

  • Fanatic (2-6)
  • Elite (3-6)
  • Average (4-6)
  • Levy (5-6)
  • Rabble (6)

I used these in the Kloster Arens encounter.

For future battles though I will probably adopt the following approach.

I found it in an old copy of Lone Warrior, TLMorgan wrote “oh what a surprise!” His fragility factors attracted me because they also seem to lean towards the 19th century armies willingness to easily run away and then come back and have another go. In fact Donald Featherstone uses that very idea in chapter 12 of Battles with Model Soldiers to reflect his view of ACW armies.

Overflowing with ideas but not a package – a great book for the DIY rules player

And again in Neil Thomas’s Wargaming an Introduction, he contrasts Napoleonic rules with ACW era where in the latter you have rallying of quick breaks in the fighting ability of units.

TLMorgan provided the following example in Lone Warrior

  • Green 0-5
  • Seasoned 6-13
  • Veteran 14-16
  • Elite 17-20

The idea is each unit gathers small amounts of experience or attrition and moves on the 0 to 20 scale.

Note TLMorgan describes experience levels whereas Neil Thomas mixes it a bit with measures (average) and types (militia).

TLMorgan provides the means to reflect smaller steps of progress in a campaign compared to say Maurice where each step is the result of a major battle – a case of sequenced battles equating to a campaign. In my case I wanted a campaign where big battles were not guaranteed. In that situation you need a different approach to rewarding experience. Actually much more of a nod to incremental levelling up you get in the original D&D game.

Next TLMorgan also used a similar technique I came across in Charlie Wesencrafts Practical Wargaming. This is where a unit can have its incremental grading for the campaign but on the day of battle can have a different one! This is excellent for narrative creation – prevents the best always being at their best and delivers that campaign grist soloists need.

Again from the original D&D – a super swordsman adventurer having a hangover from too much beer the night before and not being able to wield his sword the next morning…….

another retired 1970’s D&D hero – ral partha Elf – my painting and photography does not do justice to this sculpture.

Prior to each battle TLMorgan threw a 1D6 for each unit with a 1 meaning the unit was demoted one of their grades for that battle only. Similarly a 6 gained the unit a temporary promotion. Your narrative takes care of the reason.

Another Charlie Wesencraft idea I like is the weather board – ok Donald Featherstone gives you plenty on weather effects as do so many others. I have simply found the Practical Wargaming version enduring and simple in its impact.

You have a scale of 2 to 12, with 6 weather effects and each battle turn you move up or down on a dice throw (range -1,0 or +1) having thrown a 2d6 to get you a starting point.

Kloster Arens Encounter

I used my narrative map to generate some relationships to flesh out the core story about succession. It is here in an earlier Fauxterre post:

These relationships have driven the conflicts and belligerants including who might be supporting whom.

Having created the conflicted situation I simply used the NT19e minigame scenario generator for the advance guard forces and the main scenario generator for the main bodies.

To get some unit qualities I simply threw a single d12 for each unit against the following table

  • Fanatic on a 1
  • Elite on a 2 or 3
  • Average on 4 to 8
  • Levy on 9 to 11
  • Rabble on a 12

Zarland Royal Army Advance Guard (Commander is General Sumpf)

  • 4th Benkendorf Infantry Regiment – Average
  • 12th Maulhadt Infantry Regiment – Levy
  • 13th Nurtberg Infantry Regiment – Levy
  • 6th Dirkheim Artillery – Average
  • 5th Gellenstein Cavalry – Average

No skimishers in this NT19e selection

VinAlban Army Advance Guard (Commander is General Stute)

  • 11th Fusiliers – Levy
  • 12th Fusiliers – Rabble
  • 13th Fusiliers – Levy
  • 1st Artillery – Average
  • 2nd Artillery – Levy

no cavalry or skirmishers in this NT19e selection of pretty poor troops.

Both commands could control up to 6 units using NT19e optional leadership rules.

So you can see that immediately NT19e gives you asymmetrical or rather different but balanced forces. The use of a unit grading/quality then further alters the result.

Finally I have seen the reference to “zero player” wargaming. This is where the soloist takes neither side but in effect is the third person umpire you get in normal two player games that do have an umpire.

I suppose I play “zero player games”.

To help this dimension I add another layer of deviation or loss of control.

Written Orders

Long out of popularity with two player gamers, written orders are a convenient way to control a game for the soloist. First memorising one sides plans is hard enough, memorising two sides is near impossible and you live in the moment reacting to everything that has just gone before: objectivity and impartiality go out the window.

Written orders gives you a delayed reaction and contributes to the fog of war.

I write two moves ahead which further removes my immediate control. I think it still retains a degree of accuracy when units fail to always react to situations immediately. Very unrealistic situations are simply handled, with dicing for a series of revised actions to modify that one issue.

And if one general is particularly poor they may have to write three ahead – personally intervening more often, if they can, to get things changed more quickly. In contrast a very superior general may be allowed to write only one move order ahead reflecting their greater awareness to situations and independence of their officers.

Neil Thomas is not a great lover of explicit command rules believing in the wargamers ability to mess up, being enough friction in itself! Yet I think in his heart he is writing mainly for two player face to face games and his unaltered rules work really well there.

In summary I use a set of rules with their options and then add in the scene setter + unit quality (if missing) + written orders + weather.

Mythical Realms Vienna Treaty Wars wargaming

Fauxterre: 1816 Part 2 – The Twins War

18th March 1816 somewhere in western Zarland.

General Stute of the VinAlban Army was in command of a weak advance guard pushed out to ensure no surprises as the VinAlbans marched south into Zarland.

General Stute cuts a fine if lonely figure on the Arensburg – not to be confused with Kloster Arens located eastwards across the valley of the river Hase.
A rather accurate map (for once) supplied by the Vin Alban Company of Military Surveyors

General Stute’s force descends along the road into the valley of the river Hase. Patrols on either side are already alert to possible enemy activity.

The early morning mist makes it difficult to see the forces involved

They cross the river bridge below Kloster Arens, a rather imposing set of buildings set on the edge of the valley.

General Sumpf of the Royal Zarland Army had been rashly sent (in his opinion) to secure the Arensburg which controls a key road junction west of the river Hase.

in foreground golden cards are Zarlanders, green in the valley are VinAlbans.

General Sumpf had let his force stretch out on the road as his officers had pushed on hard. The men had risen well before daybreak and only now were the mists lifting on what would surely be a clear sunny yet cold day.

The River Hase is crossed by a stout bridge – good for artillery, the river is fordable while a wooden bridge (local name old sawmill bridge) permits foot soldiers and cavalry a dry crossing further south.

The Kloster Arens masked the river valley General Sumpf needed to cross to reach the Arensburg.

Suddenly his troops leave the road in a hurried but directed manner. The General is soon informed – the enemy are in the valley. His leading troops have secured the ridge and Kloster Arens.

As they turn the road corner at Kloster Arens, the 13th Nurtberg Infantry collide with the VinAlban column ascending the valley side. The VinAlban 1st Artillery battery was in the lead and promptly deployed.

The VinAlbans are surprised by the appearance of the enemy troops on the ridge and around Kloster Arens yet continue to march up the valley side. They react by dispersing, trying to form a battle line in and around Kloster Arens.

General Stutes VinAlban force is in a vulnerable position – he already regrets not securing the ridge before crossing the valley: No cavalry and no skirmishers in an advance guard, what was General Geflugel thinking?

He reflects on the exchange a few days earlier with that pompous staff officer Major Heinz Grimble: “What do you mean they are all second battalions – more like depot battalions – get out of my sight Grimble!”

Right now he could do with the 1st Battalions he thought he was getting.

A sharp action commences and it is the VinAlban 1st artillery who claim the first success deploying swiftly at the head of the VinAlban column as it climbed out of the valley. The Zarlanders are too close, fail to react and suffer a great volley of canister – yet they are close enough to rush the gun and capture it driving off the VinAlban artillerymen.

The 13th Nurtberg Zarland Infantry take serious damage from the 1st VinAlban artillery

Overreaching themselves the victorious 13th Nurtberg Zarland Infantry are confusingly attacked by the 13th VinAlban Fusiliers and sent in chaos back over the ridge and beyond the Kloster Arens into South Wood. The VinAlbans almost have the ridge.

In turn the 13th VinAlban Fusiliers attack the Zarlanders with instant success

Then the 13th VinAlban Fusiliers in their turn met a withering fire from the Zarland 6th Dirkheim Artillery.

Now the 13th VinAlban Fusiliers are on the receiving end. The 6th Dirkheim Artillery shatter the advancing VinAlban column.

It was now 10.00 am and the Vin Albans (12th VinAlban Fusiliers) were also on the ridge to the north of Kloster Arens. Here they were soon thrown back by the Zarland 5th Gellenstein Cavalry and 12th Maulhadt Infantry Regiment.

The VinAlbans seek to control Kloster Arens with the 12th Fusiliers advancing round the marshland while the 11th Fusiliers take Kloster Arens itself. The 12th Maulhadt Zarland IR and the 5th Gellenstein Zarland Cavalry repel the 12th Fusiliers.

By 11.00 am the tenuous VinAlban hold on the ridge around Kloster Arens was proving stronger than General Sumpf liked. His 5th Gellenstein Cavalry had initially driven off the 12th VinAlban Fusiliers but these inspired troops decided to return to the fray.

Leaving the 12th VinAlban fusiliers to the care of the 12th Maulhadt Zarland IR the 5th Gellenstein Cavalry head off to secure the right flank of the Zarland ridge line

Today it is the 12th VinAlban Fusiliers who are up for the fight. They drive off the 12th Maulhadt IR who seem to have been preoccupied by the departure of the 5th Gellenstein Cavalry.

The Maulhadt 12th IR were promptly driven off by the VinAlban 12th Fusiliers

The 5th Gellenstein Cavalry now had no option but to return to the marshlands and again attempt to clear the enemy from that part of the ridge.

No reinforcements appear along the road from Vin Alba. Across the distant ridge the Zarlanders fought to keep their line. The Zarland 5th Gellenstein Cavalry are engaging the redoubtable 12th VinAlban Fusiliers

By now it was early afternoon and the Zarlander forces recovering from being strung out on the road were beginning to press home their local advantage and dislodge the VinAlbans from Kloster Arens. The 6th Dirkheim Artillery blast away at the Kloster Arens walled gardens much to the dismay of its owners hiding within.

The VinAlbans still just held on and the 12th VinAlban Fusiliers now saw off the 5th Gellenstein Lancers – much to General Sumpf’s disgust.

Woe for the 5th Gellenstein Cavalry as the 12th VinAlban Fusiliers send them packing.

General Stute had already dispatched couriers to his main body. And around 1600 the 11th Vin Alban Fusiliers quit the Kloster Arens as the 4th Zarland Infantry Regiment, the Benkendorf, broke in to the surrounding walled gardens.

The 11th VinAlban Fusiliers and the 2nd VinAlban Artillery are driven from the Kloster Arens

As General Stute withdrew his artillery and infantry, General Sumpf was content to secure Kloster Arens. The Arensburg could wait until tomorrow.

The heroic 12th VinAlban Fusiliers cover the retreat of the VinAlban advanced guard north along the ridge

Firing died away as the Zarlanders posted their pickets and found the best bivouacs before their main body arrived!

All quiet as the Zarlanders post their pickets and patrols

The narrative is drawn from the game – played solo/zero. In the next part I will detail the rules used.

Mythical Realms wargaming

Fauxterre 1816 Part 1

It is 1816 and Zarland is mourning the death of its King. The Kingdom should have crowned Otto king. Prince Otto had caused much angst for his father King Gustav. Always rebellious, Otto had discovered a worrying interest in the liberal ideas spreading across the continent. So much so that Otto had turned up in a failed insurrection concerning the small duchy of Nevaria.

Otto was banished from court for a time which only made things worse. The Kings chief advisors manoeuvred the King to declare Otto’s twin sister Maria as his successor and despite his fears, Gustav pursued this decision.

So on Gustav’s death Prince Otto did attempt to gain the crown but he had little support and fled the kingdom. Queen Maria in fact was named Crown Princess Maria with King Gustav’s brother Duke Constantius acting as Regent until matters settled down: As if appointing a Regent was likely to settle matters?

Prince Otto arrived at the court of King Karel of Vin Alba. Now King Karel had allowed a greater degree of liberal activity in his kingdom much to the advantage of the economy as it turned out. Avoiding disruption the kingdom had embraced industry and grown wealthier in recent times.

King Karel thought his guest might be useful as he considered Zarland and its now fragile position. Indeed the Crown Princess Maria was the focus of two other states – Nuringia and Genachia. Both believed that Maria had been promised in marriage to their respective Crown Princes.

The Zarland Regent Duke Constantius was well aware of dangers that Gustav had created by choosing Maria to succeed him. It just seemed that Otto could not be trusted at all.

Zarland’s own history also played against it. Having aggressively built the kingdom from a smaller Duchy, its neighbours all considered various parts were in fact “on loan” and their return was now inevitable.

It was this heady mixture that saw Duke Constantius focus his attention first on Nuringia and Genachia. He and his advisors were therefore surprised when King Karel declared he would support Prince Otto in another attempt to take the throne. King Karel had carefully persuaded the King of Davaria to join him in this venture.

While the King of Davaria promised troops to King Karel he also decided to set about recovering some of the borderlands lost to Zarland in previous years.

So in quick succession the Regent Constantius had to deal with an apparent invasion by Davaria and now its seems the VinAlbans supporting Otto. A scratch force was despatched to the Davarian border under the command of General Guarnieri. At the same time an embassy was sent to the King of Davaria apparently seeking a political solution to his dispute.

The Zarlanders attempt to hold the river line against the Davarians. I posted about grid wargaming in June ….

The more serious attack required a strong response – there could be no discussion with King Karel until he had tasted defeat. The Zarlanders had an excellent martial history and well maintained forces despite their cost. It was well known that VinAlba had neglected its forces over time.

18th March 1816 somewhere in western Zarland.

General Stute of the VinAlban Army was in command of a weak advance guard. As he arrived at a key road junction just below what the local’s called “the Arensburg” scouts returned reporting enemy troops across the valley……..

The view of Kloster Arens and the river Hase as the VinAlbans passed the Arensburg
Mythical Realms Vienna Treaty Wars wargaming

Fauxterre 1816 Part 4 – The Battle of Kloster Arens

19th March 1816 somewhere in western Zarland.

After the clash of advance guards it was now the turn of the Zarland and VinAlban main bodies to seek to control the River Hase.

The River Hase passes the Kloster Arens on its eastern bank ridge while on the west bank is the Arensburg and its no less imposing Rittergut.

The Royal Zarland Army was commanded by General Kratzen an above average General whose chief of staff General Klettern was in fact an outstanding Officer.

As dawn breaks the Zarland pickets see movement on the west bank of the River Hase
General Sumpf has elected to hold what he has – Kloster Arens and keeps his few forces east of the River Hase

The VinAlban army was commanded by General Geflugel (an average general) who had been delayed along the route of the march. General Modistin commanded the Davarian force sent to support Prince Otto’s latest attempt on his fathers crown. Modistin was a poor general and very much concerned with his own importance. General Geflugel had sent his Chief of Staff General Nelke (an above average commander) to meet Modistin and try to contain the unreliable General until he could arrive.

Both Zarland and VinAlban forces descend into the river valley
The Davarians are on the right flank, south of Kloster Arens and in force

The VinAlban and Zarland commanders had broken up their main bodies so as to push on to support their advance guards.

General Klettern had arrived with

  • 7th Cavalry
  • 5th Artillery

He sent these north west beyond Kloster Arens as it appeared the enemy were massing to cross the river Hase. General Sumpf had also mentioned the defeated VinAlbans had retreated north the previous evening – no doubt back onto their main body?

General Nelke had likewise brought some troops to reinforce the advance guard of General Stute. He had

  • 10th Infantry battalion
  • 2nd and 3rd Artillery
  • 4th Cavalry
  • 11th Skirmishers

General Nelke dispatched General Stute north with part of this force as reports had been received of enemy movements from that direction.

He then pushed a force across the river Hase in readiness for the arrival of General Geflugel and the main body. Its orders were to secure the flat ground north of Kloster Arens.

The force comprised

  • 4th Cavalry
  • 12th Infantry
  • 10th Infantry
  • 3rd Artillery

He then rode to meet General Modistin who had already arrived from the south west with a substantial force of Davarian troops.

both sides are bold with their artillery!

Earlier at 0400 am General Sumpf again sent patrols north to check on the VinAlbans whose advance guard had withdrawn in that direction the previous day. The 19th of March had dawned very cloudy but still dry. General Kratzen would soon arrive with the main Royal Zarland army.

The forces gather their courage
It is the Davarians who are across the river first as the VinAlban 4th cavalry also begin their crossing

General Klettern had in fact arrived earlier to take over from General Sumpf who took some rest in the Kloster Arens. General Klettern had been surprised to see not just VinAlbans across the Hase river valley but Davarians. He had immediately sent a courier to General Kratzen to hasten forward.

Vin Albans cross north of Kloster Arens as the first attack is made directly by the Davarians on Kloster Arens itself. Ouch!
Today the artillery are seemingly ineffective
General Nelke watches as the assault on Kloster Arens develops
Vin Alban skirmishers and infantry take artillery hits as the Davarians attack across the old sawmill bridge to the south

On the west side of the valley General Modistin had arrived at the Rittergut, meeting General Nelke and immediately demanded to know where General Geflugel was.

General Modistin was noted as a poor General yet he had sent his forces straight into attack showing an unexpected degree of boldness. General Nelke viewed the developing frontal attack with dismay.

The combined VinAlban and Davarian forces had descended the valley and made for the Kloster Arens and its ridge.

Finally both sides begin to see the attrition build from firing exchanges
The Davarians are seemingly undeterred by the steepness of the Hase river valley sides

General Klettern spreads his weaker forces across the ridge to contain the advancing VinAlbans and Davarians, feeding in the main body troops as they arrive on the Kloster Arens road. General Kratzen is now at the Kloster Arens and discovers a General Sumpf slightly the worse for sampling some excellent Kloster wine. Even so General Kratzen is pleased with Sumpf’s work the previous day.

As the afternoon beckons the grey day turns darker under heavy rain clouds. The Zarland forces have crossed the river Hase north of the Kloster bridge while the 3rd artillery deployed at the bridge and luckily for them. Opposite the 2nd Zarland Artillery, an elite unit, are under orders not to fire on the bridge which must be taken intact!

Today the elite artillery are off colour anyway as they fail to get the range on the advancing VinAlban 10th Infantry.

The fordable river is no barrier to the advancing troops. But it is the persistent light rain that is now affecting events.

The 14th Davarian Infantry are driven back across the old sawmill bridge

As the 14th Davarian Infantry seek the ridge line to the south of Kloster Arens they meet the 14th Zarland Cavalry and are driven back across the river Hase – with few casualties but suitably shaken.

Meanwhile north of Kloster Arens the VinAlbans turn the Zarland flank. Is this the moment the position becomes untenable?

Attrition is working through all the units in the battle. In the far distance the VinAlbans outnumber the Zarland right wing

At 1800 hrs the heavens open and a mighty deluge of rain slows movement and impacts firing. Although the Vinalbans are now making progress General Geflugel decides to withdraw across the river Hase as the weather shows every sign of getting even worse.

Photo by JACK REDGATE on

And so the battle ends with the Zarland Royal Army still holding Kloster Arens.

That evening General Geflugel held a review with his senior commanders including a frustrated General Modistin, the Davarian General. Everyone was informed that there would be no resumption of the attack as new orders from VinAlba required a withdrawl from Zarland.

An incredulous General Modistin stormed out of the tent into the torrential rain. He mounted his soaking wet horse and rode away cursing VinAlba and her useless Generals. At least he could say he had shed Davarian blood for Prince Otto in the so called battle of Kloster Arens.

……………as darkness gathers at the Rittergut, under leaden skies, the thoroughly soaked General Modistin grabs the last spotlight by staring hard to the east at Kloster Arens………………..

Mythical Realms wargaming

Fauxterre: Campaigning without Maps

Surely Campaigning without maps is an oxymoron? and when it comes to wargaming, maps are central to what defines wargame campaigns as opposed to say, endless rounds of competition encounter battles.

Well thats true. I have spent most of my wargaming life pursuing the mantra that the greater the detailed map the more satisfying the campaign.

Or so I thought.

I guess there have been numerous nudges away from that point of view when I think about it.

The thing is that I have applied the same abstraction that works for the field of battle to campaign maps. Out go measured marches and in comes the dreaded “outcome”. I suppose the test for some might be “does the end justify the means?” or why waste time getting a result that does not improve your hobby enjoyment.

Except “process” is what a lot of wargaming is and that means the process is the enjoyment in itself.

Moving pieces across a map at steady rates, checking the weather, accounting for ground conditions and working out where the enemy is are themselves a process to get to that almighty battle outcome – ok 6 units a side armed with One Hour Wargames – because you must go shopping or rearrange the cushions on the settee this afternoon for an evening watching the football/that latest box set/a comedy (delete /insert as appropriate).

It is not all about “outcomes ” because you could complete the abstraction and just toss a coin to find out who won that 5 year campaign you cannot seem to finish.

abstraction or the level of abstraction is often best considered in art – East Coast port image to be found in Hull Ferens Art Gallery.

It is about putting your effort into those parts of the process you most want to enjoy and sacrificing others through abstration to get you to those parts that matter.

And it is not that I don’t have any maps. I just use them in certain areas. I just don’t measure movement of forces “to scale” across them.

To my mind wargame rules came to the fore in the decades when scale paper maps became something to be purchased and valued – and used. People were taught eastings and northings and also how to fold a map. Remember some Generals fought their battles on the creases of the map in the pouring rain……..

Today you just flick the “app” tap a few virtual buttons and a high resolution image appears – is that my neighbours 3rd or 4th car – don’t remember it being that red – just how old is that image anyway…….sat navs beware……

For my Twins War in Fauxterre I have a narrative map.

High Res image of a low res campaign map!

Fauxterre is explained here: .
D J Shin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

And I do have a means of moving forces in Fauxterre – it is an abstraction.

So here is the abstraction for my Twins War in Fauxterre.

looks familiar…………..

I guess at a certain point – by the late 1990’s? the DBA wargame rules offered the most popular version of this diagram.

well used and enjoyed
the last page

By version 3.0 campaigns had been quietly dropped from the title along with the diagram.

Except NO! – the diagram had been replaced by a set of words in the giant hardback tome that is now DBA post 2014: Maybe a case of more becoming less?

ok so you get colour and royal purple(maybe mauve?) but the simple diagram has been discarded in favour of words

I suspect this diagram had in the meantime launched tens of thousands of wargames campaigns – ok maybe thats a bit excessive!

Well that’s it for now, I will explore the mechanisms that allow me to abstract the mapping activity in a way that balances my available time, the process, the outcome and most of all the enjoyment of solo wargame campaigns.

I will finish with some words from Donald Featherstone which are surprising given they are to be found in his book War Game Campaigns.

quite a statement in a book devoted to campaigning wargames! the one about the real meat of the hobby NOT austrian armies rolling over……………

That is the challenge – making table top battles part of a narrative or simply having continuity requires effort. Effort which is not available for gaming the battles or painting the troops. Take your pick or choose your abstraction.

Mythical Realms wargaming

Mythical Realms

What happens when you meet your doppelganger?

Actually it is best not to.

In my case – creating a Mythical Realm is not normally a problem because I tend to invent some totally separate location that just happens to have the same oxygen, societies, nature, science and warfare of the period I want to plunder.

And then occasionally real history just cries out to be used. Italy is a regular case in point for me. Most recently I was on a Normans in the South (NitS) splurge before crashing into Faux Napoleonics by Renaissance Troll.

One thing has led to another and one minute I was on the Wars of the Italian Unification (WotIU) – kepis, garibaldi and kettels, next I am thinking how to do Napoleonics without Napoleon, Wellington or Blucher etc.

Well I have solved the problem – it is a Vardoger Planet – ok maybe it is a sort of doppelganger.

The story is this.

Once upon a time there was a planet – called Earth and in front of it so to speak was another planet called Earth which experienced everything just that bit earlier. And so the worlds trundled along except that one day there was a small ripple and it was a very small ripple.

No one noticed because no one knew. Well I guess someone knew because I would not be telling you this.

We live on the first planet, or lead planet. The “Vardoger” one. Now our following planet is just slightly different.

Welcome to “Fauxterre” where things are just slightly different.
D J Shin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons