Wednesday, September 19, 2018

1815 Action using General d'Armee

Last week, the gentlemen from the Old Dominion Military Society convened in Newport News, Virginia to play out an ahistorical clash between Comte d'Erlon's powerful I corps versus a hastily assembled group of allied troops under William, Prince of Orange.

The rules used were General d'Armee and they shined in this corps vs corps battle. We had previously played several smaller games with the rules, but the rule mechanics and concepts proved to be outstanding in a larger battle like this one.

The French I Corps advanced from the left towards the allied troops defending the area around the town of Gosselies. 

In our scenario, the French had advanced through Charlerois several hours earlier with minimum effort, but the allies had reformed more efficiently than they did historically. Prince William was able to gather a large force of Dutch, Belgians, Brunswickers, and troops from Nassau to defend the area of Gosselies, which lies  between Charlerois and Quatre Bras. Historically, Reille's corps led the march to Brussels, but in our game, the honor went to I Corps.  The objectives were simple; the French had to thrash the allied troops and continue their advance before the end of 16 turns, while the allies had to remain on the field of battle and deny the French their victory condition. 

d'Erlon's infantry divisions advanced all across the line, while the cavalry division under Jacquinot moved forward in a flanking maneuver on the French left. The allies' defense was centered on the town, with most of the artillery and the Dutch/Belgian troops deployed in and around the town. The Nassau infantry held the allied left flank, while the Brunswickers stood firm on the right. 

From the first turn, the French suffered artillery casualties and command/control problems. Their advance through the woods slowed to a crawl. Meanwhile, the Brunswick jagers proved to be troublesome, causing casualties on the French hussars and horse guns while firing from wooded terrain. On the French right, d'Erlon's infantry managed to push the Nassauers back initially in a nicely supported attack, but the allies bent but did not break.  The French attack on the town went nowhere and the guns wreaked havoc on the approaching columns. The Dutch militia stood firm in the town as the French retreated and faltered.

The French commanders were aggressive and bold in their attacks, but suffered from poor die rolls and rough terrain to advance through. The allies planned a masterful defense and proved to be a very tough nut to crack ! 

A lucky die roll saw Grant's 4th British cavalry brigade arrive on the field and advance to engage the French cavalry on the allied right. After a couple of charges and counter-charges, the French cavalry advance was stopped and the British cavalry were victors for the time being. 

After 8 turns, the decision was made to award the allies with a victory. The French center had routed and remained faltered, while both flank attacks were stopped in their tracks.  All players agreed that the rules provided an excellent game; the flow was very smooth.  Both sides played with passion and competence, but this day belonged to the allies. With a group of 10 players, we averaged 30 minutes real time for each turn. I, as GM, was very pleased with this. I can't wait to put on another game of General d'Armee !

Here's more pictures of the terrain and the game in progress. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

1809 Italy using Carnage and Glory 2

We recently convened in Roanoke, Virginia to play out a Napoleonic rear-guard action set in Italy during the 1809 campaign.

The superb Carnage and Glory 2 computer-moderated rules were used and the fight did not disappoint. The hospitality, food, great beer and schnapps were appreciated by all !

The scenario was set during the 1809 campaign in Italy. The Archduke John had pushed the Franco-Italian forces under Eugene back during the month of April, 1809.  Stretching his supply lines a bit too far, John retired to reorganize.  In our scenario, an Austrian rearguard is holding up a French pursuit on April 30th, 1809. The action starts at 2:00 pm and concludes at nightfall, which is approximately 7 pm (the computer controlled when simulated nightfall occurred). 

After about 10 hours of gameplay, the French under Eugene seemed to have the Austrians on the run, especially on the Austrian right flank. With a couple of turns to go, disaster struck as the Austrian cavalry broke through in perfect position to scoop up several Italian units on the Franco-Italian right flank. This action threw the Italians back and the Austrians retreated in good order as darkness fell. This action turned a French minor victory into a minor Austrian victory !  The fight was a close one until the end, with both sides demonstrating competence and bravery.  Kudos to Doug Kline's Austrians at the end !

Here are some pictures of the fight and of Doug Kline's (of Battlefield Terrain Concepts) magnificent terrain. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

General d'Armee in Newport News, Virginia

Over the past two months, we have played 2 games of General D'Armee that were well-attended by members of the Old Dominion Military Society (ODMS). Both games were meant to be demonstration games in order to teach the rules to new players of the system.

The first game was an 1813 scenario pitting Bertrand's Franco-Italian Corps against a Russian Corps commanded by St. Priest just prior to the epic battle of Leipzig.  The fight was set in the late afternoon hours a couple of days prior to Leipzig and St. Priest's objective was to delay Bertrand in joining the rest of Napoleon's Grande Armee (and also to punch the French in the nose, making them pay for the ground) before withdrawing at nightfall.  The French victory conditions were centered on taking the Saxon town of Vockerode (approximately 50 miles north of Leipzig). The Russians, who unknown to the French were planning on retreating at nightfall, were focused on maximizing French casualties and delaying Bertrand's force.

There was a large group of gamers who wanted to see General D'Armee in action. Throughout the game, the players easily picked up the general mechanics and agreed that the flow was very smooth and seemed historically accurate.

The Russians, even with a few command and control issues, held out in the village and succeeded in "faltering" 2 French brigades. Although Bertrand's veteran French troops prepared for a proper assault on Vockerode, unlucky dice rolls doomed the initial French assault to be repulsed by the stubborn Russian troops. The game was called and the Russians declared a major victory....and then retreated into the night.

Here are some pics of the game:

The Russian center and left flank

Bertrand's Italian troops faced Russian jagers in the woods

Jagers sharpshooting

French troops face Russian guns in the center

The action intensifies

The Italians looked good, but could they win the day?

French assault the village of Vockerode !

Cossacks guard the Russian left flank but wavered in their orders

The initial French assault on the village was repulsed by the Russians

Another game was hosted a month later and featured the Battle of Maida 1806. Interest again was high and the scenario was played twice, with the French winning the first game, and the British coming out on top in the second fight. Here is a link to the scenario of Maida (originally written for Carnage and Glory, but revamped for General d'Armee): 

Again, the players very quickly picked up the mechanics and began to dive into the nuances of the system more in this game. Here are the pics of this game: 

British players ponder their strategy

An ODMS member eyes the battle !

British troops holding their position

A charge by French light cavalry didn't make a dent in the tough British infantry

Both games were a blast to host and it was great to see so much interest in the rules. General d'Armee is my rules set of choice (along with Carnage and Glory for large group games) and I am excited to continue building interest in the rules and putting on more games in the future.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Player's Guide To General D'Armee

This player's guide is specifically meant for the upcoming scenario being played out on June 21st, 2018 by the Old Dominion Military Society.

Image result for general d'armee rules

A Player’s Guide to General d’Armee

General d’Armee plays like a flexible and scaled up version of General de Brigade, with some of the best concepts of Black Powder added in.  The focus on command and control is simple, fun, and calls for careful decision-making and frequent head-scratching.  

Scale:  GdA has a flexible figure scale (like Black Powder), but I base the figures at approximately 33:1.  The ground scale is approximately 35 yds per inch and the time per turn is approximately 15 minutes.

Units:  Units in GdA are infantry battalions, brigade skirmish screens, cavalry regiments (or multiple squadrons), and artillery batteries. Leaders represent Corps commanders, division commanders, and down to brigade commanders. No Leaders are represented below the brigade. Units are classified as Large, Standard, or Small (again, similar to Black Powder).

Unit and Leader Ratings:  Unit ratings are Elite, Veteran, Line, and Recruit. Special rules encompass the “Grenadier” subrating for Line troops, the “Reservist” subrating for Line troops, and “Enthusiastic” subrating for Recruits. These special rules will be discussed later.

Leaders are also rated , with the important concept that the higher the rating, the more ADC’s will be available to the leader.


Command and Control:  The ADC (aide de camp) is an abstract way to simulate command and control. Look at the ADC as an activation point. ADC’s can be used to task individual brigades with special missions (ie Artillery Assault Fire, Redeploy, or activate Reserves) or can be sent to a brigade in order to gain a re-roll of a brigade activation. ADC functions are listed in full on the QRS.

     Brigade activation:  Brigades must be activated in order to move, fight, or fire. Brigades can be in the following states:
  • Steady (fully activated)
  • Hesitant (can not move forward in any way, and can only fire straight ahead)
  • Faltering (This is caused if a brigade has a unit routed or 2+ units retreating. Faltering brigades are not rolled for activation normally; they have a separate chart to roll on and they can possibly rally, become hesitant, or retire/rout). An ADC must be attached to every Faltering brigade; this simulates a breakdown in command and control.

After ADC’s are rolled for to see how many are available ( a 3-6 on a 1D6 means that the ADC is available), the division commander attaches these ADC’s to his brigades simulating the division commander’s command focus. Corps commanders are tasked with coming up with the overall plan of attack and add ADC’s to a specific division commander to use as necessary. After ADC’s are attached to brigades, each brigade must roll for activation. A result of 1-2 on a 1D6 means that the brigade is Hesitant, with 3-6 becoming Steady. An ADC attached for a Brigade Attachment means that the brigade gains a reroll of its activation die.

Example:  A division officer with 3 brigades has 3 ADC’s available and uses 2 to attach to a brigade for Artillery Assault (grants extra casualty dice to battery fire). The remaining ADC is used as a Brigade Attachment to an advancing brigade to keep them moving into the fight.

1st Brigade passes its activation roll with a 5 on 1d6 and automatically becomes Steady and adds the Artillery Assault tasking for this turn. The 2nd Brigade rolls a 1 on 1D6 and becomes Hesitant, but with the ADC attached, gets a re-roll and promptly rolls a 6, becoming Steady. The third brigade has no ADC’s attached, but rolls a 4 on its activation and is also Steady.


Initiative:  GdA is an IGO/UGO game with the side winning initiative moving (and more importantly Firing) first. Firing is not simultaneous… casualties and morale results inflicted by the side winning the initiative are counted when the second side fires.

Each side rolls 2d6.  Each side subtracts 1 for each Faltering brigade. The winner is the side with the initiative.  Special Rule:  French may use ADC’s to add +1 or +2 to the initiative roll.


Charges: Charges are written down simultaneously, and then declared first by the side with the initiative, and then by the side moving second. Reactions to charges are also declared.

Charging units are moved to within 5 cm of its target and the target conducts all defensive fire (if able). Any casualties or morale results are immediately inflicted on the charger.

Although cavalry brigades may conduct multiple charges, infantry brigades may only charge one unit per turn, UNLESS the infantry brigade is on an Infantry Assault Order (which costs 2 ADC’s and does not have to be renewed each turn, only when the objective is gained). Infantry on an Infantry Assault Order may conduct multiple charges AND use other units within 5 cm as Supports.  These Supports move with the charging unit and grant a re-roll of one of the Charge die rolls. A charging unit can have up to 3 Support units (1 to each flank and 1 to the rear).

Example:  A unit in a brigade with an Infantry Assault Order conducts a charge on an opposing infantry battalion.  One other unit in its brigade is within 5 cm to its rear, so it is declared a support and moves with the charging battalion. In the subsequent Charge roll (2D6 rolled by each side), the die rolls are 1 and 5.  The charging player does not like the 1 result and decides to use the Supporting unit to reroll this die:  the new result is a 4 and gives the charging player a total of 9.

Both sides roll 2D6 and the charge is typically resolved with one side or the other giving away or halting.  There is a smaller chance of Melee happening, which is resolved at the end of the turn.


Movement:  At this point in the turn, the side with the initiative will conduct regular movement and/or formation changes (formation changes are conducted differently depending on the unit’s morale rating). After the side with the initiative moves, the second side will then move and/or conduct formation changes.


Firing:  Standard firing is conducted typically by rolling 2D6 and consulting the fire charts for infantry and artillery. The side with the initiative fires first and any casualties/morale results are applied immediately.

The firing charts have a series of modifiers based on the situation, rating, formation, casualties, etc. Typical of most rules. In some situations, Casualty Dice (1D6) are added to the roll. Casualty Dice work similar to Black Powder in that 1-3 misses and 4-6 causes a hit.

Skirmishers (and BUA garrisons) only use Casualty Dice and the number of dice is determined by the size of the Skirmish screen.

Example:  A French Skirmish screen made up of 3 bases fires with 3 Casualty Dice at an opposing battery. The rolls on 3D6 are   2, 6, and 4. Skirmishers hit on 5-6 (instead of the normal 4-6) and cause 1 hit on the battery.

Fire Arcs:  Fire Arcs for infantry and artillery are 45 degrees from each base edge. If a brigade is hesitant, the fire arc is reduced to straight ahead only.


Melees:   The last part of the game turn is to resolve any melees that occurred during charges earlier in the turn.  Melees are conducted differently than the Charge roll. Each side will add up Casualty Dice depending on the situation or type of unit.  After these dice are rolled, the number of hits on both sides are calculated and the winner is determined due to that result.


Morale:  Morale effects can happen any time during the turn and can cause a unit to Rout, Retreat,or become Unformed. Unformed units must take a full move to Reform. Routing units cause the brigade to Falter (on the next command phase), and 2+ Retreating units can also cause a brigade to Falter. Also, skirmish screens are considered separate units and are not expendable…..a skirmish screen that routs or disperses will cause a brigade to Falter.


Discipline Tests: This test has to be made in the following circumstances:
  • As a Firing Result or a Double 6 from Skirmish Fire
  • Infantry in Line or forming square when charged by cavalry.
  • Charged in the rear
  • Evading a charge.
  • Cavalry Opportunity Charge.
  • Moving in square if enemy cavalry are within 15 cm.


Special Unit Ratings:

Line infantry can be further classified as either Grenadier or Reservist. Recruits, such as many 1813 French conscripts, can also be classified as Enthusiastic.

Grenadier:  These units are classified as Veterans when taking Discipline Tests.

Reservist: Units below 4 casualties are considered Fresh.  When a Reservist Line unit reaches 4+ casualties, it is then classified as Recruit for the remainder of the battle.

Enthusiastic Recruits: When taking a Discipline Test while Fresh (less than 4 total casualties), a 1D6 is rolled. A result of 1-3 means that the unit is classified as  Recruit. A result of 4-6 means that the unit is classified as Veteran. These results only apply to each individual roll.