Sunday, March 4, 2012

Drums and Shakos Large Battle (First Battle)

Yesterday I had my first battle of Drums and Shakos Large Battle (DSLB).  Matt and I usually pick up a new set of rules and get a couple of play tests completed which would allow us to introduce others to something different.  These are the rules written by Sergio Laliscia who also wrote Song of Drums and Shakos (SDS) Skirmish.  

I wasn't able to read the rules before our battle due so my travel schedule to the brunt of running the battle fell on Matt.  But like Sergio's rules, they are fast to learn but I have to say that if you haven't tried this set you will want to give it a try.  It steers away from our traditional rule sets a bit and I really think you will like the feel of the system.  

Of course Matt and I did a few things wrong but after playing our first battle and then going home to review the rules we are anxious to throw down our next battle next week.  In addition, I was also able to join Lamont and Bernie at the CSGA Saturday night meeting.  Yup, I got to play in two games in the same day at two locations and I can say that I have learned a lot!

French moving to defend the hill.
Matt had setup a battle with forces pretty much equal without all of the special rules in order for us to get the mechanics down.  Here  you can see the French with a Brigade around the hill with the Reserves coming up in a long column from the rear.  We had another Brigade on the French Right.

This is a 15mm battle and we may have had too much space but it worked to our advantage allowing us to get the Group Move mechanism figured out before we started getting into Approach and Combat.

Reserve Column
The Prussians were on the attack and started in the Village on their left.  The reserves contained the Prussian Grenadiers but we did have a mix of Conscript or 2nd rate infantry which have an interesting activation method.  

Prussian moving through the Village

As we do in SDS we use the measurement sticks for Very Short, Short, Medium and Long ranges.

Matt moving his Prussians forward

Both the French and Prussians had conscripts so in order to activate them you roll an Average Die with the activation dice.  The average die provides the Quality at that particular time of rolling.  So it can change on you during the battle.  Pretty clever mechanism.

Bavarian 2nd rate troops

During the battle your units will start to receive DIS or disorder hits.  When any unit hits 4 it is eliminated.  But as you accumulate them it effects your approach and combat.

Below you will see a Cavalry unit attempting to attack.  First they move into short range and will run through the Approach sequence.  It is possible that the attack can be checked or they could be counter charged depending on the approach rolls.  Once you successfully make an approach then you move into contact and then go through the combat procedure.  At first it seems little strange but once you get the hang of it you will find it pretty easy.

Moving into Approach range

Combat is much the same as Approach and the results are many.  Both getting disorder, defender getting a couple of disorders, retreat, breakthrough, etc.  Everything you would expect in a good set of Napoleonic rules.

Combat with both taking Disorder

Besides the Approach and Combat just activating is pretty cool.  So its your sides turn.  You will have a chance to move and fight all of your brigades.  Here is the catch.  Like in SDS if you roll any failures your opponent will have a chance to move a battalion as a reaction.  For example, I roll for my first brigade commander.  I roll three dice and I have one fail.  That means my opponent can move one unit using that one failed die.  If I failed with two die its gets worse.  Then my opponent can use two dice for any unit he wants to react with.  Plus I get one action and then I have to move to the next brigade because of the double failure.  A triple failure is of course much worse.

More maneuvering

There are many "chrome" features in DSLB that we did not use.  Like, units being Strong, Light, Elan, Determined, etc., sound familiar SDS players?  You will find a few familiar mechanisms from SDS but it is really a different Brigade feel.  Oh, and units are provided Skirmish levels.  When in approach you compare your SK rating, either 1, 2 or 3 against your opponents and if greater or worse it will give you or your opponent a extra advantage which I will not explain here.

So again this was not meant to get into a complete rules discussion or to be used as guide.  Matt and I found we did a few things wrong and will play test this again until we get it right.  So thanks to Matt for throwing it down. As we say, "you can't figure it out until you throw it down and play it."  So far we think its a fine set of rules and look forward to more upcoming battles.

Nice looking Nappy Battle
Thanks Matt for throwing it down!

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