Monday, March 24, 2008


...the campaign is going reasonably well at present, both players enthusiasm, the key ingredient of any campaign, remains high.

Things I've learned so far.

- It is better to be certain then right as a Umpire. The players will fix on any sense of hesitation and start tying themselves in knots trying to work out what it means.

- Players will spend the first part of any free kriegspiel trying to feel out the system. Once they grasp the fact that the system is entirely Umpire driven and opaque, they stop trying to work the system and start issuing orders, which serves them much better.

- The quiz mechanic works but is time consuming for the Umpire. The players gain great satisfaction from it, because success is earned, rather than the result of a die roll. It's good, but should be used sparingly.

- Ration information, it is far easier to think of reasons why a player didn't get information than it is to explain away information that you've given him, that he shouldn't have.

- Players are much more cautious in campaign play than they are in regular play. Firstly there is the need to preserve troops to fight another day and secondly, players are loath to lose a named character.

How the campaign has progressed so far:

The French have concentrating their forces at the northern mouth of the pass in preparation for a decisive engagement. General Du Gourmand has concentrated his cavalry under a good commander, Col. Dornan and sent them south to harry and delay the advancing British. While Du Gourmand has made attempts to liaise with the local Indians, he hasn't achieved much in that respect as his envoy soon become embroiled in a battle.

General Lord Ponsonby has made his way straight up the pass, gingerly feeling his way forward with a mixture of light cavalry and infantry scouts. He ran into Du Gourmand first defensive line towards the end of the first day and made a precipitate assault upon it, in which he suffered badly.

General Du Gourmand's orders to Col. Du Anhalt were initially to retire before the British arrived, however, by the time Du Anhalt actually received these orders, it was too late. The severe drubbing handed out to the British has turned the French player's head. Instead of withdrawing in accordance with his original plan, he has decided to stand and fight.

This is not as crazy a proposition as it sounds, Du Gourmand is not aware the British scouted his positions the night after their defeat and located the second ford across the Noswego. His prisoner interrogations did not come to very much, so he doesn't really know the size of the British force facing him, though it doesn't take Napoleon to realise that the enemy's main force is, most likely, behind his advance guard.

Ponsonby has managed to concentrate his force in front of the Noswego, secure overwelming numbers and bring up his guns under cover of darkness and put them in good positions covering the bridge across the Noswego.

His stated plan is to pin the force in the village of Noswego with his guns and then force the fords, encircling the town and cutting off the French line of retreat.

The French plan is essentially a repeat of last time, wait for the British to cross the river and then shoot them. Du Gourmand has placed cavalry to cover the fords, but I don't think it'll be enough. I could understand this course of action, if he tried to reinforce the Noswego garrison (though only the troops are Askazi are within reach). He also hasn't attempted to scout the British force, contenting himself with looking for enemy scouts on his side of the river.

I think the British will be able to force the Noswego, at present, it's just a matter of how much Du Gourmand makes them pay.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Battle reports.

Rangers of Fitzpatrick's Company skirmishing with the French, prior to their charging the bridge across the Noswego.

The British
From Col. Frazer
To my Lord Ponsonby

Reached Noswego bridge to discover French engineers attempting to destroy same. Engaged and disrupted said activity. In the process, discovered heavy French musket and Gun presence at other side of bridge, with negligible casualties to the Rangers. In face of overwhelming firepower, falling night and heavy rainfall, no further attempts were made to take bridge. Supporting guns did not arrive in time to make advances on enemy position before nightfall. Now holding our side of bridge. French cavalry unit on this side of the Noswego engaged and defeated: stragglers fled back across the river on previously unknown ford. Now scouting for other such areas.


The French

General Du Gourmand

At approximately 1600hours on the 3rd of March English troops made an attempt on the bridge Noswego a successful defence was mounted by our troops in the area.

We at present hold the Northern side of the bridge and the British have moved a large body of troops to the southern bank of the river.

This is clearly a large scale British attach demonstrated by large numbers of foot and horse and British guns have been sighted in the area.

It is my intention to harass a British crossing of the river which will most likely be tomorrow using the cavalry which arrived late yesterday evening to cover a withdraw towards Ashkazi.

Unfortunately we have determined that the bridge cannot be blown.

Also I must report an excellent cavalry charge by a squadron of the Les Chasseurs a Cheval du Bretagne under the command Capt. Mela which successfully routed a larger force of British Heavy cavalry the captain should be commended for his service to France.

Yours truly,

Col. Du Anhalt

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Orders given on the 3rd of March 1757

Orders from General Du Gourmand at his camp at St. Elizabeth 3rd of March 1757

(with responses).

To Col. Simone Dornan

We are to making preparations at once for the defence of Montmerency Pass you will be placed in charge of all his majesties horse as French forces in the area are currently ill organised you new command will be outlined below.

Les Gendarmes du la Chevalier du Nouvelle Aubern

Les Chassuers a Cheval du la Chevalier Dornan

Les Chasseurs a Cheval du Bretagne

As commander of our cavalry you will be the eyes and ears of the army you are to scout and harass the enemy keeping us at head quarters updated on English troop movements be careful with your scouting as your forces are needed for a successful defence of the pass. Also if you make contact with any of our local allies remind them that France rewards loyalty and their orders are to raid the English supply lines

Bon Chance mon ami

General Du Gourmand

To General Du Gourmand (arriving at 1900 3rd March 1757)

From Col. Simone Dornan

Having set out at first light to take command of our vedettes at the mouth of the pass, we marched south. I met a courier bringing news that those vedettes have made contact with the English and are falling back, placing them at disadvantage where they may. I send him with this message. I have spoken with an emissary from Chief Winnitou, but little came of it, as pressing on to bring the fight to the enemy was of more import. The English have arrived in force, I shall endeavour to hold them at the Noswego."

To General Du Gourmand (arriving at 2100 3rd March 1757)

From Col. Florian Du Anhalt

The English skirmishers approached my position at 1600 today. I cannot withdraw with honour at present, also the recent rains make the moving of guns difficult. I have prepared a holding action at the fords over the Noswego.

We shall hold them as best we can, if not reinforced, I shall fall back at night fall, sending the guns first, and then make a forced march north. I shall leave skirmishers to harass the English as they attempt to the ford the river.

My force is a small one and I shall endeavour to do my best with it, should we succeed the credit shall be ours, if we fail, it shall be remembered that we struggled against great odds.

To General Du Gourmand (arriving at 1500 3rd March 1757)

From Col. Eoin McSiskington


Our engineers do not think that can significant damage can be done to the pass with the means available. Those troops given me shall be deployed as you wish, I shall also with your permission, begin the erection of earth works at the northern mouth of the pass. It is also my painful duty to report that Col. Jean-Baptiste de Gribeauval has expressed grave displeasure at being placed under my command and high words have been exchanged.

To General Du Gourmand (arriving at 1400 3rd March 1757)

From Col. Jean-Baptiste de Gribeauval


I have been placed in the unsoldierly and insupportable position of having been placed under the command of an inferior. This is both unacceptable and a grave insult to the honour both of myself and the Regiment Cambis. That we should be so put upon by bushel of ignorant foreigners led by a Hibernian mercenary is shocking. Barring an information directly from you in the next few hours, I shall place myself in command of the force covering the northern mouth of the pass.

To Col. Florian du Anhalt

We are currently on the defensive around Montmerency pass you will be placed in command of our primary defence you force will consist of the following Le Reine Regiment Bearn Regiment Auvergne Regiment and the Batterie du Courcelle in total 3 regiments of foot and 1 battery of guns.

Some scouting of the heights should be conducted to find a way to withdraw should the pass be blown as the sappers under Col. Eoin McSiskington will be investigating if this is possible he will be in charge of the remaining forces defending the pass.

You should base you defence around the town of St Elizabeth and preparations for the defense should include digging of trenches for guns and infantry all local men of the town should be formed into a militia force and supply with excess muskets if possible.

Yours truly

General Du Gourmand

To Col. Eoin McSiskington

As you are aware we have been pushed back by English forces in this area our orders are to defend the Montmerency pass the following forces are to be placed under your command.

Cambis Regiment

Les Volontaires Etrange

Batterie du Chartrand

Compagnie de Mineurs Bricot

The Compagnie de Mineurs Bricot are to make preparations to see if the pass can be blown as soon as this is known you are to inform me if it is possible to blow the pass preparations are to be made to do so.

The rest of your force is to cover the northern area of the pass and support Col. Florian du Anhalt defence of it around St Elizabeth your troops are to use the local terrain for any advantage. If none is found to be suitable prepare trenches.

Yours truly,

General Du Gourmand

From General Lord Ponsonby, New Loudon

To General James Wolfe

General Wolfe,

Following our misadventure at the mouth of Mont Moucy Pass, my men are quite eager to beat the French from Montemerency! The blood of these fine English is quite a-boil with hatred for the toad-ish Gormand.

Seeing as Capt. FitzPatrick has a familiarity with the terrain we shall be taking, I am appointing Capt. Morgan and his rangers to lead the Advance Guard towards the Noswego. He shall be accompanied in this advance guard by the 2/1st Foot (Royal Scots), with all Advance units under the command of Col. Fraser and his brother, Nialls.

The orders of the Advance Guard are to scout rapidly ahead of the main army. I would prefer that these men will remain unseen by the enemy, but in the case of light enemy action, for example skirmishers or Indians, they are to engage. Should heavy resistance be encountered, they are to fall back with all haste.

The Flank Guard will be composed of our light cavalry: those of Kingston's Light Horse and Shaw's Light Horse. Their role is mainly to be that of scouts. Should the enemy approach from the flanks, I wish these units to gather what information they can and report back to the main body as quickly as possible. If necessary, they will also provide the function of a "flying" guard, advancing or retreating rapidly to provide reinforcement for the Advance or Rear Guard.

The Rear Guard will be comprised of our remaining light foot, the 1/60th Foot (Royal Americans), under the command of Col. Cox and the Provisional Light Infantry Battalion under the command of Capt. Luther. As with the flank guard, these men are to avoid confrontation where possible, and instead gather information to send forward to the Main Body and Flank Guard.

The Main Body shall, therefore, be the following:


1/15th Foot (Amherst's)


1/17th Foot (Forbe's)


1/22nd Foot (Whitmore's)


1/28th Foot (Bragg's)


1/35th Foot (Otway's)


Col. John Henry Bastide's Coy

Heavy Horse

Charleton's Heavy Dragoons


Templeton's Battery


Turner's Battery

Supply Train

Supply Train

The orders of the Main Body are to advance towards the Noswega with utmost speed, and make safe the saddle beyond it. Hopefully, this will provide us with a large enough area, with watering hole, so that we can make camp for as few days as possible while Capt. FitzPatrick and his Rangers scout the area towards St. Elisabeth. The narrow approach to the town makes me nervous of French ambush, so as much care to know the intricacies of the territory will be taken as possible, while keeping a mind towards the need for haste.

While it is well known that the Indian savages are more than happy to side with either French or English, I personally put no trust in their information. It is not my intention to make any use of the brutes in the area. My men are under strict orders not to persecute the Indians in any way, but should they prove a barrier, then that barrier will be removed with all prejudice.

My main goal for this early leg of the action is to provide my men with a base in the Montemerency Pass from which we can operate: I believe the saddle area where the brutes occasionally make villages will the most suitable area. In order to reach this area, however, the Noswega will have to be crossed. I do not believe that the French will have left this area unguarded. As such, on the approach to the French bridge the Advance Guard will remain only a few short hours march ahead of the Main Body, so that the Guns may quickly be brought to bear in the case of enemy fortification.

In the case that the French have already destroyed the bridge, then the Engineers will have to build me a replacement. In preparation for this, I have made orders that the necessary amounts of hard timber (and any other items the Engineers might need) are to be bought in large quantities in New Loudon and brought with us in the supply train. I don't want the Engineers to have to gather resources from the area around them: I will not dally while my men are made to act as lumberjacks.

I remain,

General Lord Ponsonby, Mrs.


Colonel Fraser is somewhat put out by the phrase in your orders "I am appointing Capt. Morgan and his rangers to lead the Advance Guard towards the Noswego." Captain Morgan is both his inferior in rank and a Colonial officer and Fraser has taken this as the gravest insult. Given that you cannot place a lower ranked officer over another, he has taken command of the Advance Guard and, chivying the Rangers ahead of him, has set out at a goodly pace. The Rangers do not seem to be taking this well.

General Lord Ponsonby's Response

As for Fraser, at the soonest possible opportunity I will have him brought to my tent for a severe dressing down. While I did say that Morgan and his men were to "lead the Advance Guard towards the Noswego", I also stated quite clearly that "all Advance units" are "under the command of Col. Fraser". The use of the word "lead" was only to indicate the physical positioning of the troops. Given that Fraser is both "Bold (may interpret orders loosely)" and "Arrogant and stiff-necked", Ponsonby will assume that his reaction was one of pique, and will recommend that in the future he should fully read his brief before acting in a manner that upsets the men.

He will also remind Fraser that he is being given a great opportunity here, and that his petulant behaviour may endanger future opportunities.

It has begun to rain, not heavily, but sufficent to impede the action of musketry. The rain is also softening the ground, making it difficult to move guns off the road.

Communications to General Ponsonby on the 3rd of March 1757.

1230 from Col. Frazer.

Skirmishing with French Chasseurs some three miles ahead of the main body. We have beaten them in, killing some, but no prisoners have been taken. They are falling back.

1400 from Col. Frazer

Have sighted Noswego. The French are present with guns, with Foot to the number of perhaps three regiments and some Horse. The civil population are fleeing. The bridge seems intact, but there appear to be engineers attempting to break it. We are not in sufficent force to prevent them. I most earnestly intreat that the army move up at best speed.

General Ponsonby's response

To Frazer:

Hold where you are. We are approaching at utmost speed. If threatened
by superior numbers, do not attempt to hold out. Withdraw, and let
them give chase.


Ponsonbys orders:

Flank Guard: advance and join Col. Fraser with the greatest speed, but
only to act as reinforcement in the case of enemy attack.

Main Body: Everyone on the road ahead of the guns is to get the hell
out of the way. The Guns and two units of Heavy Foot are to move as
fast as they can towards the Noswego. I want those boys within range
of the bridge as quickly as possible: since the French are destroying
the bridge, I'm presuming they won't have their troops on our side. As
such, I want the Guns to start dropping shells on them from this side
of the river as soon as possible.

The rest of the army is to make best haste to the bridge, and try to
remain as close behind the Guns as possible.

Rear Guard: advance to the Main Body and take over duties of Flank Guard

Monday, March 17, 2008

French Players Briefing

General Du Gourmand immediately after learning his strategic situation. Careful observers will notice that his hair has turned white.

From the pen of General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran in quarters at Louisbourg 1th of March 1757

To General Du Gourmand at his camp at St. Elizabeth.

General Du Gourmand,

Louisbourg is in great peril and I need not (nor could I, if I wished) conceal from you, a hardened campaigner, the extremity of our situation. The English have driven us back beyond the Allegheny mountains and are at present gathering their strength to push through the passes and on to Louisbourg. Our forces are few and their strength is considerable, therefore it is imperative that we have early warning of which passes they are attempting to traverse, that we may concentrate our forces against them.

You are instructed to take under your command those forces now present in the Montmerency Pass. You are to provide early warning of English movements, strengths and intentions, sending word by messenger as soon as they are sighted and providing a daily report of any contact that you have with them to me at Louisbourg.

In the event of an English attempt on the Montemerency pass, you are at all costs to hold the town of St. Elizabeth which commands the northern exit of the pass and harass, mystify and delay their advance by all those means at your disposal.

I remain,

General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran

You must:-

  1. Write orders for each of these bodies and any detachments. They should include.

  • instructions for each body.

  • Action to be taken on spotting the enemy.

Any body that you are with personally may of course act as you wish, but any body of troops not under your direct command will act in accordance with their orders and the character of their brigadier, until orders arrive to do otherwise.

2) Write any other orders regarding scouting, logistics, spies, bribing local Indians, burning buildings, building bridges, etc.

NOTE: I will not call you back for clarification regarding your written orders, if I feel the order is unclear or ambiguous and I will act in accordance with the Brigadiers character and what I believe he would be in the circumstances.

The Theatre of War

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lord Ponsonby's Briefing.

Lord Ponsonby, Commander of His Majesty's Forces in these parts;
also the very Olympian ideal of Manhood.

I thought it might be interesting to chart the course of our little campaign. With that in mind, I'll be putting the game materials, orders, etc up here as well as my own thoughts on how things are going.

For starters the British (the attacker) player's briefing.

From the pen of General James Wolfe in quarters at Rourke’s Landing 7th of March 1757

To General Lord Ponsonby at his camp at New Loudon

My Lord Ponsonby,

As you are aware our forces have moved sume distance into the country held by the French, but their energies are now spent and we shall have to spend some time in bringing up provender, horses, powder & shot, etc. In our advance we shall have to pass over the Allegheny mountains, no contemptable obstactle. There are several passes through the mountains that may be practicable. Columns are being detached to investigate those passes and see if they may suited to the transit of men and stores.

You are to take those forces under your command and to make best speed for the town of St. Elizabeth directly to the north of New Loudon at the end of Montemerency Pass no later than the 17th of this month. This pass had not been mapped by any of our officers, so we have but little idea of the country between, through we are advised that the French under General Le Gormand hold it in some strength.

Therefore you are to bring your forces as far up the pass as you may do, observing as you may. It is most important that you send back reports of the route daily and press on as far as possibility defeating those French forces that are present to the best of your capacity. If practicable, you are to take and hold the town of St. Elizabeth, which marks the end of the pass, that it may be used as a base for our advance into French territory.

If St. Elizabeth cannot be taken you are to make detailed sketches of its defences, an appraisal of the French forces present and what forces would be required to take it.

I remain,

General James Wolfe, Officer commanding his Majesty’s forces in the colonies.

Appreciation of the Montemerency Pass by Captain of Rangers, Michael Fitzpatrick.

The Montemerency Pass is a friendly passage through the Allegheny mountains, though exceeding narrow in places. The forest on either side being very thick and impassable to formed troops, though it is hospitable to Indians and Rangers.

It is cut by the Noswego river halfway along its body. The river, being fordable in summer, is viable to swell after sudden showers and care should betaken to pass over it by the grand stone bridge built across it by the French some years past. Some 10 miles beyond the village of Noswego, the saddle of the pass is to be found, where in summer months some Indians, friendly to the French, make their abode in rude huts and similar dwellings. Between the Noswego and the saddle, there is a fine water hole, at which travelers are often found. The pass beyond the saddle becomes more narrow, opening out only at the end, where the town of St. Elizabeth sits on a rise overlooking the exit.

Travellers voyaging through the pass should be aware that the Indian therein are for the most part in the pay of the French and are treacherous beyond the common run.

Player information.

You must:-

1) Break your army up into:

Advance Guard – Should be predominantly Horse or Light Infantry.

Flank Guard – Should be predominantly Horse or Light Infantry.

Main Body

Read Guard – Should be predominantly Horse or Light Infantry.

2) Write orders for each of these bodies and any detachments. They should include.

- instructions for each body.

- Action to be taken on spotting the enemy.

Any body that you are with personally may of course act as you wish, but any body of troops not under your direct command will act in accordance with their orders and the character of their brigadier, until orders arrive to do otherwise.

3) Write any other orders regarding scouting, logistics, spies, bribing local Indians, burning buildings, building bridges, etc.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Or as we say in France, "Le Weekend".

General Du Gourmand, at the Battle of Noswego March 14th 1757, signalling to his milliner that the forces of the King have achieved decisive hat superiority over the English, but may require additional lace before the day is out.

On the whole it was a rather productive weekend, all told.

Friday night was spent running up the documentation for the French & Indian campaign I've been working. I had hoped to use "Expeditionary Force" from Programmer Scenarios for Solo Wargamers by Charles Grant, but found that given the fact that I had turned into an amphibious assault mainly through my own incompetence, more work would be needed to do it right. So sadly, I had to shelve my plans for the "Expeditionary Force" and went ahead with "Reconaissance in Force" as it seemed to fit the setting better.

"Reconaissance in Force" is an attack-defence scenario, the French have been beaten back and are holding a line along a chain of mountains, through which there are several passes. The British commander has to advance down one of the passes and hold it in order to facilitate the advance of the main army. He has forces that used correctly might be able to fight their way through, but will certainly be able to gather plenty of information regarding the French capabilities and intentions.

The French should hold the pass, ideally, or at least hold the British player up for as long as possible, while gathering as much information about them as possible.

I spend Friday writing up briefing documents and putting together orders of battle for Lord Ponsonby and General Du Gourmand. The campaign system is going to be a mixture of Free Kriegspiel and a common sense, though I will be trying a new resolution mechanic. Typically in Free KS, the Umpire takes the situation into account, determines likely outcomes in order of probably, alloting to each a percentage chance and then rolls a nugget (a d10, but why play Old School, if you're not going to talk Old School?) to see what happens.

I write a lot of Pub Quiz's, all of which feature a number of rounds of ten questions each. At the end of the Quiz, a team has a set of marks out of ten. Which (though skewed towards to the higher end of the 1-10 spectrum) is not unlike the roll of a nugget. One of the things that irks me about wargamers is that we often blame the dice when we fail and there's a certain truth to that, real Generals don't roll dice, they work hard at command and take trouble with infinite trifles.

Therefore, I'm going to give my players the chance to earn success. There won't be many nugget rolls in this game, no more than four or five, so rather than rolling the dice I'm going to offer the players the chance to answer ten questions. I'll set the margins of success (which will higher naturally), but they'll have a chance to succeed by their own exertions.

General Du Gourmand is already hatching a plan to bribe local tribes to attack the advancing British column and has sent a negotiator and gifts to Chief Winnitou to gain his support. Guess I'll have to write ten questions on Woodlands Indians then.

Saturday was a good wargaming day. I'd done Young Master Siskington a favour in October which he said would be repaid with painting services (the Halberdiers demand seemly infinite supply of Frenchmen), so we set to it with a will on Saturday afternoon. We got the coats, hats, shoes and faces and hands done and some other bits and pieces on 80 odd Frenchmen, Siskington said he'd do another evening next week and we'd finish them off. He was good company as always and we managed to rectify that yawning gap in his education, not having seen "The Man who would be King".

Fantastic movie.

A jaunt over to Kingstown brought me to Beezer's (my darling future wife) door and we had dinner. She'd made a cracking chicken and ham pie (Empires have fallen for less) and we spent a very happy evening watching Shakespeare in Love and planning a honeymoon. It's still looking like Bath and London, though we're exploring our options. We had hoped to do Stratford, London and Hay-on-Wye, but it was not to be.

Sunday was spent on paperwork, the inevitable upshot of having passed the first round for the Gardai. Roll on round two! Church was fine, though the sermon wasn't up to much and the rest of the evening was spent very pleasantly lazing in front of the fire reading "Wild Sports of the West", a book that deserves to be sipped rather than gulped.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Leprecon 2008: Bloody April

A horrified German pilot watches as his Gotha IV begins to burn.

An RE8 sends an Albatross down in flames, staged for the propaganda men. Sadly not an event that occurred too often during the actual game.

The few, the proud, the GMs.
Wing Commander Kinch DSO, DFC (bar), left. Captain McCarthy DSO, right.

"Jerry is here, here and here."
Wing Commander Kinch DSO, DFC (bar) sketches a plan of the Hun defences.

Leprecon 2008 was a success. You can see plenty more pictures of what a success it was here.

Mr. McCarthy ran "Jump or Burn" over the weekend. The planes painted up well, though I can't say I was particularly taken with the game. I've been trying to like Piquet for quite a while now, but it doesn't grab me for an aerial combat game.

I suppose it's because I play games to imagine myself in the role of the actor, be he a general, a fighter pilot or what have you, and "Jump or Burn" didn't engage me in that way. I've played "Von Richtoefen's War" and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't seem to understand the card mechanic of the game or make it work for me. As a result it was a particularly bad weekend for the RFC.

That said, my end of the game, painting the planes and ensuring they worked on McCarthy's spiffy looking flying bases, worked and while I was not the only person not to take to "Jump or Burn" several people had a very good time playing it.

Horses for courses, I suppose.