Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Second Zweifelder: A Game of Muskets and Shakos

Following on from the meeting engagement played out with "Charge!", I decided to use my "Muskets & Shakos" campaign and battle rules to see what would happen next.

Der Kleine Fritz is old but spry. Still he may be a bit past it and Buffonaparte made the next move.

The Wutende Zwergkoenighreich army completed assembling and was not forced to defend the crossroads from a determined assault.

"Muskets & Shakos" presumes the player is fighting part of a larger battle. The player(s) division is set up on a three to four foot frontage. Lager games may be played by assigning a player to each chunk of front, say three players a side on an 8 to 9 foot long table.

The game also has rules covering the generation and actions of enemy forces so it is possible to play the game solitaire, as in this report, co-op with each player commanding a division of the same army against the game system, or in a more traditional head to head format.

In this case my division consisted of:

Baron von Einsamenbert Rep 4, General Officer Commanding
Divisional assets:
A battery of 6 field guns and 2 howitzers (2 guns and 8 gunners)
The converged grenadiers of the line battlaions equating to 16 O.R.s, an Officer, and a Sergeant

First Brigade; Markgraf Kniebissen Rep 4
1st Battalion Rote Bart Jaegers
1st Battalion  IR # 11 von Unten
2nd Battalion IR # 11 von Unten

Second Brigade; Markgraf Boldfieber Rep 3
2nd Battalion Rote Bart Jaegers
1st Battalion IR # 18 Prinz von Wutende Zwergkonigreich
2nd Battalion IR # 18, Prinz von Wutende Zwergkonigreich

Hussar Brigade, General Rote Bart
Hussars von Rote Bart
Hussars von Blooka

The line and jaeger battalions each numbered 18 O. R.'s an Officer and a Sergeant. All are Rep 4 or average.

The Hussars total six squadrons of three with two additional officers as well as their brigadier.

The Hussars and Grenadiers are Rep 5 or veteran.

The gunners are Rep 4 or average.

In a game of "Musket and Shakos" the defender deploys two lines of troops on the table at start, One two thirds of the way or so towards the enemy, and the second one third or so.

Additional troops can be held off table in reserve. These reserves can be called forward at any time by the G. o. C. subject to a roll against Rep which may see them respond with alacrity or some delay.

The initial set up

I deployed the two jaeger battalions in the first line. One behind a wood with skirmishers pushed forward and the other split between the two fields.

My second line consisted of my four line infantry battalions in column ready to move as needed and my battery of guns. The guns were sited behind the wood, ready to enfilade any attempt on the fields while hopefully being shielded from overmuch counter battery fire.

I held the hussars and grenadiers back in reserve.

After the player deploys, the attacker deploys three possible forces on the table edge. These are resolved immediately and translated into figures on the tabletop.

The enemy first line consisted of three infantry battalions and two batteries (12 guns and 4 howitzers).

After deploying a dice is thrown to see how long a cannonade will proceed the attack. 

In this case it was four. The enemy opened up concentrating his guns on the two fields. My battery fired by section, half of the guns concentrating on an enemy battery while the other two sections fired on one of the infantry battalion.

The enemy line

My troops had the benefit of cover from the field but still suffered some casualties. As the fire intensified some men just drifted away...

Jaegers skulking in the rear

For my part, one enemy infantry battalion was badly mauled and one enemy battery was briefly silenced. 

In "Muskets & Shakos" firing takes a toll on guns and gunners. Sometimes its better to keep a section or even battery off line to be sure of their services when needed.

Both sides lost a few guns to fatigue and supply problems.

Then the firing stopped, the drums sounded, and the attack commenced.

Skirmishers precede the enemy advance
Through out the game, each side has a chance of occasionally receiving reinforcements. The non-player side also deploys additional possible forces as his first line advances. After this second line of possible forces, the  non-player may call for his reserve.

Guns, guns, guns...

As the enemy first line advanced I could make out other units behind the first. Another section of guns were brought up, which neatly replaced those already out of action.

More infantry appeared. One of regular line but...

As the one of the leading battalions falter, the Garde appear

two battalions of the Garde also advanced. Buffonaparte must really want this crossroad.

There is also one possible  force that I do know have eyes on. Who knows what it will be but the odds are turning against me.

As the enemy approached the wood many of my skirmishers thought of better places to be and melted away.

I was slow to reinforce them and have now taken positon in the heart of wood. Come and get my boys!

I have am deploying two line battalions to support the weakened jaegers in the field.

Just a few turns into it and one enemy battalion has about had it, my jaegars are fading fast, the field is littered with stragglers and did I mention the Garde?

More as it happens.

As always thanks for stopping by!


  1. Good to see the boys in the field. How do you find it playing up against Charge!

    1. Well I will expand on some mechanical differences but I'd hate to compare my meagre work to a classic :)

      Units are smaller in M&S: 20 foot vs. 48 in Charge! and 3 figure squadrons vs. 9 in Charge!.

      In combat units in M&S tend to slowly shrink towards inefficiency as much from straggling as from combat. Just moving units around will attrit lower quality units quite a bit, so managing deployment and passage of lines is key.

      Charge! has massive casualties from fire and melee and units are soon reduced to ineffective status.

      In M&S you roll a handful of dice, looking for hits while firing, and melee with a single opposed roll of a few dice in melee. Charge! is virtually opposite with one dice per 8 figures firing and a similar treatment of infantry melee while horse melee vs. horse or infantry requires single roll-off's between opposing pairs of figures. M&S plays faster here but Charge! can be quite nail biting.

      In Charge! skirmishing is limited to light troops. In M&S any unit can deploy up to half its strength as skirmishers. The caveat is that these count the same as looses from the parent unit so there is some risk involved. Once sent out skirmishing you have no guarantee they will return when called. Here experienced troops are much better off than poorly trained troops who will just tend to go to ground id not kept in ranks by their officers.

      Charge! is simpler overall, but M&S has rules for linking games in campaigns, tracking losses and experience, and generating enemy forces.

      M&S isn't very complex at all compared to modern games, perhaps close to "Black Powder" in that respect but its hard to beat the simplicity of Old School Rules.

      I like them both and play them interchangeably. I do prefer Charge! to Charle's Grant's "The Wargame" though both are cracking games by their own rights.

      Hope that helps some.

  2. Nice, very nice as 'The enemy line' picture!

    1. Thank you. The best of a somewhat mediocre batch I fear. Still I think they get the point across. I like battle line pictures like that in wargame reports. They can give a more characterful view of what is happening than the more standard "head on" views.