Piotr Stolarski's blog

Age of Bonaparte: Battle of Leipzig (1813) with Cards

Last night saw the first trial club game of my Napoleonic card wargame, Age of Bonaparte, which I designed and wrote during the first 2020 lockdown. The scenario was the first day of the Battle of Leipzig (1813).

Using cards I had produced on MS Word and a grid with '2d' terrain was my answer to the 'portable wargame' concept, as well as being easier and cheaper to make than painted miniatures. Cards also allow the concealment of troops, adding more drama to the game.

Despite some holes in the rules (what are flank lines, again?), we managed to play several turns on a 10x6 foot grided mat from Deep Cut Studios, with minimal teething problems, and generally had an enjoyable evening's play.

In future I may tweak the rules, and have already produced alternative sample cards for World War Two and the Samurai period. The cards have been designed to eschew data and numerical values to allow any set of rules to be used with them, as well as a grid or no grid.

On the night, the French managed to hold Leipzig, but the Allies inflicted 16 more casualties, so they narrowly won the game.

Thanks to all for coming, and we hope to see James and Theo again sometime soon.

Back of Beyond: First Impressions of Setting the East Ablaze II

Last night saw the Bolsheviks (led by Rob, Richard and Phil) and Poles (led by Brian, Patrick and myself) clash over possession of a railway town on the outskirts of Warsaw, c. 1920.

Rob had gone to the trouble of setting up the table and producing action and chance cards for this first Back of Beyond game, using the Setting the East Ablaze rules (v. 2.0).

The rules, which we played for the first time, were a mixed bag, however. We agreed that the movement and firing aspects were sound and straightforward. Melee and morale were less user-friendly though, with the rules being unclear on the number of morale tests and additional factors needed for each close combat.

Another issue was the use of action cards: drawn sequentially from the deck. The rules stipulate one card per unit. Rob and I agreed to apply this to brigades instead, to speed things up. But with 6 Polish and 7 Bolshevik brigades in play (each of 2-4 units) – to exclude separate supporting weapons (each with its own card) – we only managed 3-4 turns from 8.30-11.30pm, so the game barely got going (each side lost about 15 figures).

While the period, figures, and terrain were generally inspiring and we all want to have another go, we may need to modify the rules in future. Specifically, the action cards may need to be reduced further, perhaps to one card per player’s command. Some decluttering of the melee and morale rules is also suggested, to avoid melees being unresolved for long periods due to the caprices of waiting for relevant action cards...

Overall, this was a keenly-anticipated game with somewhat underwhelming results due to teething problems with the rules. The use of action cards made each turn protracted (as opposed to unpredictable) with some players waiting a long time to make moves/combats. Patrick suggested trying Triumph of the Will rules by TooFatLardies, instead, which seem more straightforward.

Even so, I think there is great potential in the period as well as the figures we have managed to paint up. Once we settle on the rules we can definitely put on a fascinating campaign as well.


Bayonets Polished: BoB Army Ready

I have now finished my Polish interwar army for Back of Beyond.

This consists of 10 infantry units, 6 MGs, 3 mortars, 3 field guns, 4 cavalry units, 3 tanks, an armoured car, and an aircraft. While perhaps not technically necessary, I will be adding seven mounted officers (including a converted Napoleonic Blucher figure for Marshal Pilsudski) to lead brigades before our first game in June.

B of B: Polish Army (3)

Some pictures of my Polish tanks (3 x FT-17s), Garford-Putilov armoured car, and Albatros DIII plane of the Kosciuszko Squadron, for Back of Beyond. These have been quick and easy to paint, using spray paints, then dry-brushed, with vehicle names or aircraft detailing by hand.

On to Moscow!

Here are some pictures of my cavalry units for Back of Beyond; part two of how my Polish army is progressing.

The lancers with blue-over-white pennants are the 4th Uhlans, a Polish army unit based in Lithuania, which had Napoleonic antecedents; these are Great War Miniatures' British WW1 lancers with Polish paint-job. The figures are a bit bigger than the Irregular Miniatures' castings I used for the remaining units, but it's not too noticeable.


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