Ga Pa Report (Part 2)

When we left off the Danes had charged 1/Picardie and routed them.  On their first opportunity however they rallied behind their supports as the rest of the French infantry pressed ahead!

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A couple of interesting things have transpired by this point:  firing has been heavy enough that the action is classified in Ga Pa terms as Heavy Action.  This means that visibility has been reduced to only 300 paces.  The chief impact of this is that generals who can’t see the commander-in-chief are out-of-command until they are brought into command.  Out-of-command generals can’t order their troops to do anything, and they will act as uncontrolled troops if they aren’t activated, doing what seems best to the local colonel.  (This action is determined randomly based on the units morale and circumstances using the uncontrolled actions table).  Secondly, at the beginning of each turn, you roll for random events.  Something usually comes up, but so far, and it continued for the rest of the game, nothing interesting happened!

Now, to bring a general into command, one can either move one of the commanders so that they are visible, try to put the subcommander into command through his own initiative, or the commander-in-chief can attempt to put the subcommander into command by order.  All of these things use an order execution, and each general only gets 4 of those per turn, so they are precious to use.  AND, neither command by initiative or command by order is certain.  For the French it’s pretty dicey because the subgenerals don’t have high initiative and our CnC doesn’t have much by way of leadership.

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Now as it turns out, at the start of the game, I had some extra points due to not spending them all on command so I used some points to purchase Aides-de-camp.  I used one of them to replace a lost general earlier, and now, I chose to use the other one to put the french general commanding the infantry into command, as he had lost visibility to the overall commander.  This was bad timing, as those Dutch guys coming into the field in the picture above shot and killed the commander of those dragoons.  From here on out the dragoons will act without a commanding general….

Things go well for the French infantry though as they begin to push back the Danes and dragoons in front of them.

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On the right flank, the French cavalry finally get moving.  Courcillon is decimated from shooting by the Dutch regiment Pallandt, but Royal Etranger and Toulouse start to move around the flank of the Dutch line.  The Dutch had some supporting infantry and guns extending the lines but as they advanced these lost sight of their commanding general and the local commander (using the uncontrolled move table) decided holding in place was the safest course, creating an opportunity for the French to exploit the gap.

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As things developed, on the left, the French infantry continued to push but the Danish cuirassier got into the fight and managed to defeat the 1st battalion of Sparre, leaving only the 2nd battalion of Sparre holding the end of the line.

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Looking down the length of the table you can see the Dutch infantry pushing the French dragoons out of the field next to the town while the French on the far end are pushing the Danish infantry and mounted slowly but steadily backwards.  In this case the French infantry is a little better than the foot in front of them (higher morale) and the Dutch infantry is a bit better than the dragoons in front of them (higher morale and better shooting and close combat abilities).

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But bad and unexpected things can happen.  In this case the French dragoons unleash a devastating volley and the Dutch infantry reels from the impact breaking and routing back through their supports.  At the same time the French cavalry advancing on the lone unit of Dutch infantry guarding the flanks routs it as well!

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You can see Royal Etranger looking at fleeing Dutch in front and the rest of the Dutch line beyond waiting to be rolled up.  But, alas, it’s not enough.  Toulouse who had been on their right  exposed itself to the advancing Dutch who had previously held back (remember, out of sight, holding their position) but then saw the French advancing through the smoke and moved forward to engage them.  They dispatched Toulouse which was half the French cavalry force down.  At this point all the cavalry begin to withdraw.  The Dutch on that side of the field had not quite lost half their force, so they were not forced to begin to withdraw.  In time they would be able to rally enough to finish off the dragoons in all likelihood and then take the town.  We conceded at this point that the French wouldn’t be able to hold and called it a wrap.

More painting to do, more units, more fun!

 

 

 

 

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Ga Pa game report (part 1)

We started a Ga Pa game last week.  I took the French (as always) and rolled up a cadre of wonderful commanders: Villeroy, Boufflers, d’Artagnan, and, of course, the prince to command it all, Louis, duc de Bourgogne.   The Dutch had Overkirk in overall command and 3 competent subs.  We had invaded but the Dutch attacked.  I ended up with a town in the middle with a hedge-lined field just to its right, an orchard on the far right flank and a plowed field on the far left.  I don’t have a good ability to take pictures during a game (unsteady hands) but we had to break after turn 5 so I have some pics taken with the tripod at that point in time.

My opponent has steady hands, and a nice phone.  Here is a picture of the French cav reeling:

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I placed all my cav on the right flank under Villeroy.  It consists of Toulouse (here in front) and Royal Etranger (each 3 squadrons strong and trained), together with Courcillon and Tarente (each 2 squadrons strong and green).  With only Dutch foot in front they chose not to go rushing ahead on turn 1.  But the one Dutch heavy battery opened up on Toulouse and did some serious damage including killing Villeroy who happened to be attached to Toulouse and found himself carelessly in the way of a 12lb shot.  On the rest of the field the two lines advanced but not much else happened.

On turn 2, with the cav uncommanded, it reeled back during its uncontrolled movement and every regiment became disordered!  Any French cav activity will just have to wait.

I used some dismounted dragoons to defend the field next to the town.  The idea being they would just slow up the Dutch while my attack with the infantry developed on the other side of town.  You can see them lining the hedge here:

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Now with the two veteran battalions of Orange Friesland bearing down on them, they probably aren’t going to cause much of a delay.  That battery found itself in front of Pallandt:

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It did some damage to Pallandt as they advanced but the shooting from the Dutch line made short work of the otherwise unsupported gunners.  (It would have been nice to have some cav up to slow down the Dutch foot a little at least.  Maybe later.)

On the other side of the field the two lines closed and began firing at each other, with no immediate dramatic effects, but causing a lot of smoke to develop.  Here’s a close-up of the Dutch dragoon regiment Dopf advancing (I have a source for flags for them, thanks LoA, but don’t have them yet):

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And here is the French infantry moving forward.  This is the main place where I intend to attack.  The force consists of the 3 battalions of Picardie, Veterans, one of the vieux regiments, supported by Royal Italien who are green, and 2 battalions of Sparre, a trained French regiment descending from Swedes who came over to the French in the previous war.  Here they all are:

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They are shooting and driving back the Dopf dragoons and beginning to engage some Danish foot just out of the shot.  By turn 5, smoke was thick, issuing commands was difficult, but Boufflers continued to push the French forward.

But merde!  The Dutch had the initiative and sent the Danish foot to close with 1/Picardie.  Both units are disordered and Picardie should have the best of it being veteran.  But what’s this?  Picardie breaks and see them here running back through the 2nd battalion!

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We hope to finish the game later this week.  Hopefully the French cavalry will be able to contribute.  I had forgotten that I took AdCs as my special advantage and it was a couple of turns before Villeroy was replaced.  Now with a regular general they should be able to move forward and get something done.  The French infantry should be fine.  Although it was a setback to lose the 1st battalion of Picardie, they may rally and the rest of the infantry should make short work of the Dutch.

Vendome and Ga Pa (part 3)

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This is a command stand with the Vendome figure from Front Rank.  The other command figure is from Front Rank also, a French general I think, but I’m not sure.  I imagine the generals can be used pretty interchangeably in armies either French or Allied.  I’m not sure there was distinctive general attire for the different nations.  If there were, I’d love to learn more about that.

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They are nice figures.  I’m not sure I like the orange horse.  I keep working on Duns trying to make them better.  It looks a little more orange in the picture than it does on the table, but it’s still a little too orange I think.

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I promised in a previous post some more about Ga Pa.  I’ve covered setup and command, the command being the key part of what makes Ga Pa a really excellent game.

All unit behaviors are governed by a table called the TQ table.  TQ stands for troop quality.  Troops are rated from highest (fanatic) to lowest (rabble).  Each army has lists (of course) that allow you to determine what your composition of troops should be.  The French army for example is made up mostly of horse considered Green and line infantry considered Trained.  There are of course better troops, the Vieux regiments are veterans, as are the Maison du Roi.  Elite troops are rare.

For just about anything you need to do with units in the game, whether it is making an uncontrolled move, firing, charging, or resolving close combat, you make a roll against the row on the table corresponding to the quality of the troops attempting the action.  The row being used can be increased (but not very often) or decreased (more likely).  So, for example, a typical French chevaux-leger unit, once disordered, will be testing as if rabble, rather than simply green.  To determine a result, 2d6 are rolled against the row and the result can either be decisive success, success, failure, or decisive failure.  This is cross referenced with whatever is being attempted on the relevant chart (charging, firing, or close combat for example) to determine the final outcome.  I keep threatening to make a poster of the TQ chart and hang it on the wall of my game room when we’re playing because you use it so often but haven’t done so yet.  I imagine that if we played more frequently, we’d have it memorized.  Typically by the end of a game you don’t really have to check that table because you’re pretty sure you know the result.

Fire combat is straightforward and very constrained.  You shoot straight ahead and if you’re target isn’t straight ahead of the middle of your unit, your fire against it is halved.  To roll you throw 2d6 against your TQ, and cross reference the result with the amount of firepower your unit has.  The results are variants of heavy casualties, casualties, or light casualties (and of course, when you really need to get a hit the inevitable, No Effect!).  The defender then rolls on the TQ and cross references the result against the receiving casualties table.  Units can disorder, fall back, or flee, and may suffer a step loss.  A step loss represents a permanent loss in capability for the unit, degrading its ability to fire and be effective in close combat.

The most direct way to get into close combat is to get close to the enemy then close in the closing phase.  Mounted can sometimes charge but most of the time and for everything else, one needs to close in the closing phase.  Close combat is resolved on the close combat table, typically defender checking first.  Close combat continues until one side breaks off.

These mechanisms are all simple and elegant, and taken together with the order system and uncontrolled movement result in games that are very believable for the period.

The next time we play I’ll take some pictures and notes along the way and describe how the game gets worked out using the rules.  Hopefully this will be soon, as after writing this, I’m kinda jonesing for a game.

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.