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Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Paper Drill

While hurriedly packing away my miniatures and hobby desk, I recognized an opportunity to test out the DBN wargame rules during our travels: foam core.  We had a scrap of foam core board left over from a craft project, so I created 40x20mm counters.  Being in a rush, I didn't have time to cut the pieces perfectly.  DBN uses different base depths, so the practices pieces won't capture differences in movement, such as recoils, that would take place using properly based miniatures.  Nonetheless, the counters have already let me try out the rules in our hotel room.
The Battlefield, complete with IPad-hosted rulebook
Referring to French and Russian army lists that would work for the 1812 timeframe, I labeled the counters with order of battle symbols and letters to differentiate unit types.  Later, I will label additional counters with units required to make up other armies. (I might resume DBA 3.0 playtesting using the reverse side of the counters.)
Foam Core Board Counters
Force Deployments

I played a solo game to learn the rules, pitting the
Russian deployment (Yellow square is Baggage Train)
Russian as attackers against the French.  For the Russian army, I fielded an army heavy on infantry and artillery.  I formed up the main attack force in a column, planning to advance beyond the woods that line the road before deploying.  Cossacks were positioned on the right flank, and I planned to advance a secondary infantry force on the left.

For the French, the army was a balanced combined arms force that included both light and heavy cavalry and a unit of horse artillery. 

French deployment
I placed half of the French in a defensive line, keeping the other half back as a reserve.  I tried to position artillery to support clear fields of fire.  A Legere unit in open order (LI element) anchored the force on a difficult hill.

Game Results

I played through six turns.  DBN has a few rules that ensure the game gets moving, to include compulsory advances by the attacker, the option to conduct successive tactical moves when you have enough command points, and extra command points for the attacker's first turn.  In any case, the Russians rolled a 6 in the first round, so I had plenty of options.  

Birds Eye View after deployment (The shopping bag marks the battlefield edge)
I learned an important lesson during the first two turns, realizing that I bungled the order of Russian units in the main column.  I would need to use multiple turns to get the infantry, in front of the column, out of the way of the artillery once the units cleared the woods.  Meanwhile, the infantry would be under fire from the French artillery.
Turn Four - Russian infantry trying to give the artillery some room
I advanced Horse Artillery forward to ensure a clear field of fire.  By the third turn, I was able to fire on the Russians with both the Horse and Heavy Foot artillery elements, resulting in several unit recoils.  The Russians have an unusual resilience to artillery fire (the "Stoic" characteristic), so the dice had to break in the French's favor even for a recoil result. Given the massive casualties endured at Borodino, for instance, the "Stoic" advantage adds a touch of realism to the game.

I played through six turns, ending with two Russian Cossack units flanking the French position.  The French Light Cavalry advanced to protect an artillery unit from the Cossacks; it was outfought and destroyed.  
Cossacks overwhelm French Light Infantry
Overall, the DBN rules were very easy to learn.  I did ask for feedback from Yahoo Group members on the firing mechanic (I was performing it correctly) and clarification on Light Infantry unit rules.  Once we arrive in Korea and settle in, my son and I will be playing some more foam core DBN.

I'm signing off for a few days.  We depart the USA tomorrow.

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