Friday, February 22, 2013

BAR SYW Game With 24-figure Units

Prussian brigade of Minden Miniatures advance towards the French flank.
(Note: double click all pix to enlarge)

Bill Protz and I have wanted to try a few wargames using his Batailles de l'Ancien Regime rules ("BAR") with smaller 24 and 30 figure battalions at a 20:1 ratio of men to figures so as to demonstrate that the BAR rules can be used for games that do not involve huge 60 figure battalions. I hauled my old RSM French army out of storage to provide the opponent for my Minden Miniatures Prussian army. Michael Matthews also brought along some old school  figures including Minifigs, Hinchcliffe and a few ancient Scruby figures. You can read Michael's detailed report of the action on the Prussian right and center by clicking on the link below:

Michael normally plays the Russians and he always gives my Prussians a hard pounding, so I was pleased to be fighting with him, rather than against him, in our French vs. Prussian battle. Michael commanded a brigade of about 7 battalions, a few cannon and regiments of dragoons and hussars. Our center, commanded by Kurt, had four Minden Prussian regiments, some jagers and a battery of 12 pounders. I commanded the left wing cavalry (4 x 20 cuirassiers and 1 x 20 hussars; 2 x 6-pd horse artillery cannon, and 4 x 30 battalions of infantry) and infantry brigade.

Neither side had a particular battle plan. We just sort of lined up the troops and both sides surged forward to fight it out. Well, sort of... 

I decided, in my most typical Prussian way, to attempt to march around the French right flank and create a kink in their line, which could then be exploited by our forces in the center, commanded by Kurt. One nice thing about playing with 20 to 30 figure battalions of infantry and 12 to 20 figure cavalry regiments is that you have a lot of open flank space on Bill's 20 foot long wargame table. It was really kind of cool!

Below, Chris Kenth and Bill Protz command the French army. Chris is quite the attack dog and you always know that you are in for a hard fight when he lines up across the table from you, as Kurt was about to find out.

No particular plan or scenario, it was just "set 'em up and move 'em out on the attack"! Lots of pretty Minden Prussians on the right hand center side of the picture facing off against a long grey line of RSM French.

Michael deploys his Prussians on the right flank and moves to control the high ground.

Kurt's Prussians in the center have blown away a lone battalion of Irish in French service. The dastardly French overlords apparently sent one battalion of Irish all by its lonesome to sop of the first fires of the Prussians.

You can read what happened in the center and right from the Prussian perspective by reading Michael's battle report (see the link above). Basically, the French center wiped out the Prussian center. The Prussian right was wiping out the French left and with them thus disposed, the Prussian right wing turned back on the center to deal with the hole in the line that had developed. I think that Michael plugged the hole quite well, and then some!

While all that was going on, Kurt Donzelli (the French commander on their right) and I spent most of the game in an exciting back and forth series of heavy cavalry melees. My RSM French cavalry regiments have only 12 figures (or 240 riders at 20:1), so we brigaded two such regiments together. Their Prussian counterparts had 20 figure cavalry regiments, so there was relative equality in the forces.

Prussian and French heavy cavalry mix it up on the left flank, supported by Prussian horse artillery (alas, masked by the melee so it could not fire). My plan was to try and turn the French right flank with all of my cuirassiers, followed up by my brigade of Prussian infantry.

The Prinz von Preussen Cuirassiers (KR5), 20 figures,  take on two 12-figure French regiments.

Saxons and more Irish arrive in the center as the French side slip to their right to stop the Prussian flank attack.

The French cavalry have been driven away and now the Prussian infantry  assemble in some dead ground and prepare to launch the coup de grace against the French right, supported horse artillery.

The game moved very fast in my opinion and the BAR rules work very well with the smaller forces. I rather like the way the rules work with these smaller units, as they didn't stay around as long due to battle attrition, but since you don't test morale until your unit falls below 50%, the forces are not brittle nor prone to running away quickly.

I would definitely use BAR again for these smaller armies. Small by our standards, but probably closer to "normal" sized for most wargamers. Give it try and see for yourself.


  1. Thanks for the report; pleased to hear it went so well.

    Feels a little strange looking at a BAR game with such "small" units but as you say they're normal for many of us and I know the rules work just as well.

  2. Very nice report, and fantastic looking troops!

  3. Wow! A fantastic looking game with superb figures (The Minden Prussians are drawing me to the period) and terrain on a 20ft table. I am guessing that is a terrain mat? It looks very realistic with the rolling hills and the backdrop finishes it all off.
    Would you mind sharing where you got the backdrop from please?

  4. Excellent stuff. Must see if my 18mm Eureka are better suited to 1:20 or 1:10.

    Do you find you can command more units at 1:20 than at 1:10?


  5. It's about the same. I find that most people can comfortably handle 4-6 units in either ratio. More experienced players can handle more.

  6. The backdrop was scratch built from thick poster board bought at an artist supply shop. I used two shades; greyish blue and grey. There is an area of stormy weather where the grey boards came in handy as the underlying color.

    Boards were placed on the lawn in the summer side by side and spray painted.

    When dry, the boards were affixed to the cement block wall by 3M adhesive strips cut from a roll of the stuff.

    Bonne chance,

  7. Thanks for the advice on the backdrop Bill, very effective.
    So a greyish blue and a grey background and you then sprayed over these to give the cloud effect. How many and what were the differnt paint colours you used please? Also did you use a template to get some of the effects or was it all freehand?
    Thanks for your time,