A soft back facsimile edition of the classic book that cautioned us accordingly ‘Let no man set out lightly upon the war-gamers’s path, for it is fraught with perils’
There can be few wargamers of ‘a certain vintage’ that have not read or owned a copy of Charge! Or How To Play Wargames by Brig. P. Young and Lt.Col. J.P. Lawford. Originally published in 1967 I first came across this book in the early 1970s in the local library and I seem to recall having it out on more or less continual loan until I moved to London in 1977! My own personal copy came much later but I can safely say that this book was and indeed remains, one of the most influential titles in my wargames library.
It would be tedious of me to regale readers of the perennial appeal of this book - I am pretty sure there would be little for me to add to what is the almost universal high regard and esteem in which it is held - so I am not going to attempt to. Suffice it to say the good Brigadier and Lieutenant Colonel would probably be harrumphing disapprovingly at what I am planning to undertake. In my defence I would say that the plan is very much a ‘doffing of one’s cap’ in respect of their magnificent work.
The map and opening positions for the famous Battle of Sittangbad.
My plan is a simple one. I am going to refight the Battle of Sittangbad using the block armies and my 8 x 8 chessboard for the playing area. The rules will be derived from the Portable Napoleonic Wargame Divisional level set and all being well I am hoping to tackle this over the coming weekend.
I have fought this action a number of times in the past including a memorable version using early WW1 28mm French and German figures which was enormous fun. I have never fought this using blocks or a grid so in that sense it will be a first although again, I can picture in my mind’s eye the good Brigadier and Lieutenant Colonel harrumphing mightily at this apparent heresy - “You will not, we suppose, be so lost to all feeling, as to represent your units and formations by counters, blocks of wood or cards.” Hmm, that ship has sailed methinks….
Opening thoughts on making it so
The first order of business will be to translate the battlefield into an 8 x 8 grid and then think about the required terrain. I will also need some way of identifying the individual units and of course to draw up a roster for recording hits etc. Given that the original rules made use of units formed of companies and squadrons it is actually quite straightforward converting these into blocks based formations.
For example, an infantry regiment from the battle itself consisted of four companies - two centre, one grenadier and one light. In my block based world that very handily converts into a regiment of four individual blocks which coincidentally is a typical strength point total for a unit of foot. Similarly, cavalry had three squadrons and artillery two guns. As you can see then, the usual 4, 3 and 2 strength point system works rather nicely.
I am thinking about using a d6 per subunit for combat purposes - mainly because for me one of the great things about the original rules was using volley fire - a full strength 48 figure line infantry regiment would roll 1d6 per 8 figures so rolling 6d6 for a full regimental volley (especially at close range) was so satisfying - as long as you rolled high enough that is!
The order of battle for the opposing sides looked something like this:
The Imperial Army
Lanciers de Saxe (light cavalry regiment)
Kornberg’s Cuirassiers (heavy cavalry regiment)
Kleist Frei Corps (light infantry battalion)
Isembourg Regiment (line infantry regiment)
Coy Waldeck Regiment (one company, line infantry)
Pandour Regiment (line infantry regiment)
B. Battery Field Artillery
3rd Engineer Battalion (two companies)
The Electoral Army
1st Uhlan Regiment (light cavalry regiment)
Dragoons of Montmort (heavy cavalry regiment)
Gendarmerie Regiment (heavy cavalry regiment)
The Garde Jaeger (light infantry battalion)
Erbprinz Regiment (line infantry regiment)
Steinzeit Regiment (line infantry regiment)
Electoral Footguards (line infantry regiment)
The Gentlemen Pensioners Regiment (line infantry regiment)
Three batteries of Field Artillery
Some of the units are shown on the map above in their starting positions - the challenge is going to be accommodating them all and the terrain.
Thoughts on the rules
As mentioned I want to experiment with combat at a sub unit level. In practise this would rolling a d6 per block rather than the whole unit. At the moment I am keen to use a roster system for recording hits and perhaps having exhaustion levels per unit and with an overall army level score. I need to think about this further though so if anyone has any ideas let me know!
The Reason Why
This particular battle is a perennial favourite of mine, not only due to the wonderful spectacle it provided (even if the pictures were in black and white) but also the tremendous account of the action that followed. I also hugely enjoyed the whole imagi-nation set up of the thing. Regular readers of the blog will no doubt recall my long abandoned Spencer Smith ACW set up which was organised as per the units in the book. I have often thought about tackling an imagi-nation set up based around the third quarter of the 18th century (along with many others!) using Spencer Smiths but to be honest it is not something I will be attempting anytime soon. Who knows? Perhaps it would make a great retirement project.
This is a little distraction from the ACW naval set up to be sure but it is a welcome one. The ACW rules are very close to having what I hope will be the final draft ready and of course, the remaining ships are STILL on the modelling table….