Order of Battle and what to paint

I have a couple of sources for the order of battle at Ramillies.  One is Neil Litton’s Ramillies from Partizan Press (available in the States at On Military Matters).  For the French Litton uses the Pelet and Vault order of battle from 15 May 1706 supplemented with a couple of other named regiments, presumably derived from the Dutch army history.  I’d really like to be able to get my hands on the Dutch army history but haven’t found a reliable way to do that so far.

There is a good online order of battle for the French put into a very nice and readable table form here: http://www.spanishsuccession.nl/maps/ramillies_french_oob_infantry.html.

I’ve taken the version from Litten and created a spreadsheet that I use tracking the units that I’ve painted.  I have a spreadsheet for the Allies and for the French.  I’m fairly confident in the French one based on Pelet and Vault.  Where I have uncertainties, I just postpone the painting until later.  For French infantry I’ve started on the French infantry on the right end of the first line, skipping over the Cologne and Bavarian troops there.  So I’ve done Picardie, Clare, Royal Italien, and am working on Gondrin now.  I guess I’ll do Alsace next.  I did Sparre from the other end of the line as I thought I’d do a mixed brigade of French and Spanish but am holding off on Spanish troops for the time being.  I guess I’ll do Alsace next.

One of the cool things about having it in spreadsheet form is that each time I get a unit done I shade the box containing it green.  It’s nice to see those boxes turn green.  But at the same time, it’s a little rough to do something like Alsace as I know I have to paint 4 battalions before I shade the box green!

There are three basic prereqs to deciding what units actually to do: 1) do I know what the uniform looked like?  (this is mostly easy because of the Robert Hall books)  2) are there appropriate figures for it?  (the French are pretty well served by Front Rank although I haven’t quite decided what to do about Bavarians and Spanish)  3) can I get my hands on commercial flags (typically does GMB make them).

But right now, before I think about what’s next for the French, I need to finish that other battalion of Gondrin.

 

2nd of Gondrin and painter’s block

2nd Battalion of the Regiment Gondrin.

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These have been painted for some time.  This week I went through a spurt of completing bases on stuff and these were some of the bases that I completed.

But I get painter’s block sometimes.  I think I know why I have it for this unit.  It’s the gray coats with the gray cuffs.  That is really tedious to paint.  It’s three coats of paint but each of the coats need to be handled rather carefully.  First, so that the paint doesn’t get globbed up on the figure.  Getting the consistency right is key and for grays and whites a lot of care is needed.  Second, to get a good look for the overall color.  It’s too easy to have either too much base coat or too much white.  Finally, painting around the buttons.  I do this all the time and on dark coats it’s really easy but for white coats you need to run up close but not paint over the button or its outline.

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I’m well on my way with the first battalion and now seeing the second complete, I may have renewed motivation.  I love white with red and the red coat on the officer and red hose for everyone really sets this unit off.

Do you ever get painter’s block for a unit?  What causes it?  What helps you get through?

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As usual, figures by Front Rank, flags by GMB.

Regiment Royal Cravattes

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Royal Cravattes was deployed on the left of the center at Ramillies.  This finishes up the French horse that I have painted for now.  Royal Cravattes consists of 3 squadrons and that brings my total of French horse to 13 squadrons.  I have lead for another couple of squadrons and intend to paint up Rosen with that lead.  They were brigaded with Royal Cravattes at Ramillies.  Then I’ll start on the line cav of the second line – lots of white with red facings.  Tedious to paint probably but I bet it will look nice all lined up.

Here are a couple more shots.

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I’d hoped to finish my summary of Ga Pa but I haven’t quite finished that.  Hopefully in the next few days.  So I final shot of all three squadrons together.

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Figures by Front Rank, flags by GMB Designs.

Regiment Courcillon and Ga Pa (part 2)

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The eye candy for this posting is Regiment Courcillon – another French chevaux-leger regiment in the front on the right flank.  Figures are by Front Rank and flag by Flags of War.

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In part 2 of my write-up of Ga Pa, I hope to give some background on the heart of the game and its most appealing part, the command and control system.  I’m drawn to games that put some kind of restrictions on command and control.  I play games where you see everything and every unit can do whatever it wants every turn, but I really gravitate towards games where there is much more restriction on what you can do with units.  Ga Pa accomplishes this through three mechanisms – limited visibility, limited command actions, and uncontrolled moves.

As a bit of background each general has a leadership and initiative rating.  You get the generals randomly as part of the game setup sequence.  Leadership is on a scale of 1-5, 5 being better (really good actually) and 1 being pathetic.  Initiative is on the same scale.  I’ll explain how each of these are used as I go along.

First, there is visibility.  Visibility is determined by weather conditions and battle conditions.  On a normal day commanders can pretty much see across the battlefield at the start of the game, but as the action develops, the visibility deteriorates.  The battle goes through stages of light action, medium action, and heavy action based on the number of units that are engaging in fire combat.  Once you get to heavy action, visibility is greatly reduced.  At the beginning of each turn one determines which generals can command units based on this visibility.  The CnC is always considered in command, but his subordinates, in order to be in command, must either be able to see him, but put into command based on an action of the CnC, or take their own initiative to be in command.  To take their own initiative they must pass a die roll against their initiative rating.  So to begin a turn, you want to have all your commanders visible or expend actions to put the generals in command.

Second, there is a limited number of command actions for each commander.  Each commander gets 4 of them per turn (we mark these with a d4, and use a red d4 for each commander who begins the turn out of command).  The commander can do a number of things with them including move himself, take initiative or put a subordinate in command, or order a unit or a group to do things.  But, in order to succeed at giving orders, he has to pass a d6 roll against his leadership.  (You can see now how awful Louis de Bourgogne with a leadership of 2 and initiative of 1 is.)  It’s important to keep your troops together in groups (aligned, facing the same way, perhaps in 2 lines) is.  It only takes one command action to move a group or a unit, but as the groups start breaking down much more time is spent trying to get them together.

Third, as things break down you will find that the 4 actions you have are not enough to give orders to all the units in your command.  Units that have received no command might still act.  Each one rolls against an uncontrolled unit table to see how they behave.  In some cases they will take off on their own towards the enemy.  Sometimes this works out well, other times it will cause problems.  The behavior is dependent on the type of unit, its circumstances, and a random factor based on a roll against the units quality.  It works pretty nicely.

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Above, the Danish cavalry has already routed the regiment Toulouse and my opponent was unable to control them in his command phase, so they spontaneously charged Courcillon.  This was fine for him.  I had managed to control Courcillon and hold them.  If they had charged spontaneously, because they are French, they would have been disordered by their charge.

These three things (visibility impacted by the intensity of battle, limited control from the commanders, and uncontrolled movement) make for an interesting set of command constraints that makes the commanders spend their time keeping their army organized so it can be effective in battle.

Regiment Tarente and Ga Pa

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Tarente was a horse regiment in the French first line on the right at the Battle of Ramillies.  Have to start out with a little eye candy I suppose.  I just finished the basing so wanted to get a picture posted.  Figures by Front Rank and flags by Flags of War.

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We are spoiled for choice these days with rules to choose from for gaming the War of Spanish Succession.  One could press FoG-R into service if needbe, perhaps with a few changes.  It’s a really clean set of rules aimed at the tournament gaming crowd.  We play it quite a bit, but have never actually tried using it for WSS.  We tried the prepub version of Beneath the Lily Banners.  It was going great until we got into a melee and realized we didn’t have melee rules.  I’ve since purchased version 2 of the published rules and we may give them a try at some point.  We played Captain General a few times.  It has a great period feel and we enjoyed it quite a bit.  But we seem to have settled on Ga Pa.  Thomas Arnfelts in Sweden wrote Ga Pa for gaming the Great Northern War I believe (Ga Pa is a Swedish expression for attacking I believe).  It is now on version 2 and that’s what we’ve been using.  There are army lists available that cover the armies of the War of Spanish Succession.

We played the other night and I’ll use that game to describe Ga Pa.  The thing that is most appealing about Ga Pa is the command friction that the rules provide.  I’ll get to that in more detail in a future posting.

I only have recently completed enough figures to really give the rules a run through from the ground up and we’ve done it twice now.  You start out by choosing the size of game you want to play.  Ours are still on the really small end of the spectrum.  We went with 300 points per side and I had almost all of my figures on the table for both sides.  You then choose your army.  I have two, French and Dutch, but part of the Dutch is a Danish allied contingent.   The first decision to make is how many points to set aside for generals.  We both chose to use about 75 points.  You then dice for the actual generals you will use from the army list.  Each general is rated for command, leadership, and a number of points.  The Dutch have relatively better generals than the French, mostly average in capability, and you can probably get three for around 75 points.  If the three that you dice up exceed 75 points, you still get them, but you then give points to the other side for use in Stratagems.  On this night, the Dutch ended up spending about 78 but the French blew past their 75 because they rolled Vendome as one of the generals and he’s an expensive one.  So the French ended up owing the Dutch 8 points in the end.  The French generals randomly determined were Louis Joseph de Bourbon, duc de Vendome with a leadership of 4 and an initiative of 5, Francois de Neufville, duc de Villeroy with a leadership of 2 and an initiative of 2, and Louis, duc de Bourgogne, with a leadership of 2 and an initiative of 1.   Vendome would make an excellent overall commander.  But sadly, Louis de Bourgogne is a prince of the blood, so he gets to be CnC.  At this point you divide your army up into numbered commands.  I chose to give all my good infantry to Vendome with one cavalry unit to support and a couple of light guns, the bulk of the cavalry to Villeroy with a little infantry, and left Louis with a couple of guns, but as overall CnC.  Vendome is 1, Villeroy is 2, and Louis is 3.

My army consisted of:

Vendome

3 battalions Picardie (veteran infantry)

1 battalion Clare (Irish, veteran infantry)

1 regiment Royal Cravattes (line horse)

2 light guns

Villeroy

2 battalions Sparre (line infantry)

1 battalion Royal Italian (green infantry)

1 regiment Toulouse (line horse)

1 regiment Tarente (green horse)

1 regiment Courcillon (green horse)

Louis

2 medium guns

Next step is to determine who is the invader.  French are (naturally).  Then you determine the tactical situation.  The Dutch are slightly more aggressive tactically and it’s more likely that they will attack but in this case the French are attacking.  Also you make a roll to determine what type of action is being fought.  It can be any one of Siege Relief, Rearguard Action, River Crossing, Attack, Set Piece Battle, or Meeting Engagement.  Ours ended up being a meeting engagement so everything will be deployed on the table at the start of the battle.

The defender chooses the terrain that will be on the table from the list of terrain for the area of the battle within the constraints set out for the area.  In this case there would be 3-5 pieces with a mandatory village.  The terrain location and person to place the terrain piece is then diced for.  In our case, most of the terrain came down on the defender’s side of the table.  It included a village in the center, enclosed fields to the right of it, and behind it (from my perspective), an open field to the left of it and an orchard on the left side of the field on their side of the table.

For a meeting engagement the defender fully deploys his lowest numbered command, then the attacker his, then the defender, then the attacker, and so on.

All of this setup goes pretty quickly.  We didn’t have our armies defined before we started and that’s perhaps the most time consuming piece of it all.

So here are a couple of pictures of the lines at the beginning.  The cavalry closest to the camera is not visible, but they will play a big role in my next installment so you’ll get to see more of them soon enough.  Here is the Dutch line formed and ready to move forward to occupy the village and the field next to it.

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The Dutch set up a couple of battalions of infantry on their right end of the line, slightly behind the orchard, two medium batteries deployed to their left, their veteran foot next to them behind the open field, and another battalion of line behind the village ready to move in and occupy it.  On this side of the village there was another battalion of foot and two battalions of Danish foot ready to occupy the enclosed field.  A regiment of Dutch dragoons (Dopf) are supporting two regiments of Danish cuirassiers just off camera.

I set up Vendome on the left, Villeroy on the right, while Louis positioned his two batteries where they would most quickly become ineffective in the middle.  You can see most of it here:

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On turn 1, we’ll be off and running.

Great blogs

What makes for a great blog?  I guess that’s pretty hard to say, but there are a couple of things that stand out to me.  I don’t really aspire to have a great blog, but I’d like to have one that folks appreciate and get something out of.

One blog in particular has inspired me to do one of my own, and that’s Martin Kelly’s Befreiungskriege blog (http://befreiungskriege.worpress.com).  I found it many years ago when I was spending a lot of time on Napoleonics.  We are both big fans of Calpe Miniatures and were focusing on gaming the 1813 campaigns.  What makes his blog great?  A few things keep me going back – unique insights, useful information, great eye candy, regular updates.  Martin has unique insight through his knowledge of what is going on at Calpe.  He handles the Calpe website and has regular contact with Peter.  So periodically he will provide insights or rumors about what is happening at Calpe.  The site provides useful information.  Whether it’s painting techniques, photography techniques (I need help there), or reviews of figures or paints, there is useful and interesting info there.  There’s regular updates which is important.  One doesn’t need to post that often to keep me interested if the info is useful, but if a blog regularly goes for long periods without anything new, I just stop checking.  And Martin is a great painter so there is great eye candy to inspire one.  Another great blog like that closer to the period is the rampjaar blog (http:http://rampjaar.blogspot.com/).  It’s created by a guy in the Netherlands with a lot of unique information based on local research mostly in Dutch.  But he posts in Dutch and English so it’s very accessible.

I hope I can provide eye candy and regular post, and perhaps some interesting stuff about rules and gamings, we’ll see.  Befreiungskriege has a great layout too with lots of useful links to other interesting things.  I’ve started doing the same here today adding links for suppliers and interesting blogs.  I went through a bunch of different templates to find one I really liked here (and for free).  This one is ok.  I wish the comments appeared under the heading for the post, but I can’t seem to find that along with customizable menus on the side, so you’ll have to scroll to the end of posts to see folks comments.  I’m sorry about that.  I’ll keep checking templates and perhaps will find another one.

This theme features a header picture.  Perhaps they all allow that, but it’s kind of apparent here.  It started out with a river as default, but I decided to put in another of my units.  This is the 1st battalions of Picardie.   I pictured another one earlier I believe with a pic of the three battalions together.  They fought in and around the village of Ramillies at the battle.

Regiment Toulouse

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The regiment Toulouse was brigaded with Royal Etranger at Ramillies.  This is a nice looking regiment.  I love the combination of gray/white coats with red facings.  While that was the standard combination of color for French cav regiments at the time, the front line of cavalry at Ramillies has only one with this combination.  This regiment, like Royal Etranger, was slightly behind the French right.  The second line of French cavalry will have many regiments with this combination.  I suspect it will look very impressive.

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The regiment was composed of three squadrons, all depicted below.  Once again figures by Front Rank, but the flags are by Flags of War.

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