Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fictitious Wars: mechanics


First, my apology that this is an entry without pics. Someone on TMP has found the original article that sparked all of this off and there have been questions about uniforms, rules and so on. So I will try to give (brief) answers to them.

The Story

As I explained in the previous entry, the current campaign is an extension of the one set in 1740. I took the key character from my opponent’s side, Prince Maurice of Nassau (nothing if not original) who had been Stadtholder of the Orange Republic. We originally took countries made from the Age Of Reason campaign map of around 5 or 6 EP, and Orange was made up of Holland, the Austrian Netherlands and Westphalia. I created a south-western German Kingdom based on Baden, Wurttemberg and Franconia, called the Kingdom of Franconia.

For the resumed campaign things were a little more sophisticated, but I postulated Maurice kicked back into his small Duchy with old Louis of Bamberg in exile with him and a few units that escaped 1740. Maurice, brooding revenge, would need allies. As I was now going to run it as a solo campaign I created some for him but tried to give them different characters and motives: there is the Duchy of Hessenstein, led by the young and naïve Prince Frederick, and the Duchy of Luneberg led by the crabby and bad tempered old Augustus II. I tried to reflect in their debates the nature of a coalition that was unified only to a degree.

But I also wanted to create a French-inspired Kingdom too, so up cropped the Kingdom of Alsatia, geographically Alsace-Lorraine with a capital at Nancy. So it gave Maurice another ally against Franconia and allowed me to split the campaign into two fronts.

Characters and Personalities

One of the fun things about the Fictitious Wars scenario has been to allow me to introduce characters and personalities that are based on people in my life. From the humblest colonels to Generals and Ambassadors (one chum is even Prince-Archbishop of Mainz) and base their character sheets on the individual’s personalities. Otherwise they are rolled randomly, some influence their battlefield skills, others their diplomacy or abilities to recruit (useful to draw in mercenaries). Some are just interesting little backstories: the Colonel that escorted the current Queen of Franconia from Naples to her new husband was Count Rudolfo Farinelli. Allowed to raise a Freicorps he was also said to be the lover of the Queen of Naples, which is why the King of Naples had him packed off to Franconia. Farinelli was killed at the battle of Hardheim and it allowed me to create a good story for the Neapolitan queen, distraught, raising money for Franconia.

Uniforms and Flags

All the uniforms are fictional, although often based on historical colours. The base colour for infantry coats, for example, is white for Franconia and Bamberg, pearl grey for Alsatia, dark blue for Luneberg and Hessenstein and dark green for Nassau. For flags they are also fictional but historically based: the national flag of Franconia is based on a Lubeck Burgerwehr colour in the Wise/Rossignoli book for example.

But for more dynamic or odder units there are different uniforms: the Franconian Freicorps of Prince Aleksandr Kliuchevski is uniformed in claret faced black, the Hessenstein Hussars are in a canary yellow. Dragoons and hussars in general are fairly pretty, contrasted with the more numerous and staid line infantry.

I was also constrained by figures. We had started with the 1/72 Revell SYW figures bolstered by some from other manufacturers and AWI ranges. These constrained uniform styles somewhat. Nevertheless the ability to create many different styles and colours is still there.


I originally used English Computer Wargames rules for the 1750 campaign and fought 3 battles with them. I found them ideal for a solo campaign and battle because you could order units or Generals to do something and they *might* do it. Then again they might not, or do something totally different. Generals would hang around for a while. Sometimes over a week, waiting to move on campaign depending on ability. This meant you could, as a solo player, draw up a plan for either side and then watch the computer screw it up and create an entirely unforeseen set of circumstances.

The same thing happened in battles. If you read the account of Strassburg, for example, Jeune’s attack was totally unexpected but as a solo player you simply accepted that it fitted and played accordingly. Equally De Brun’s flank march was timed for 9.00 according to the route of march, but he was late. If he had been on time the battle would surely have gone differently.

There were also unexpected surprises: Franconia lost its most talented GfwM due to an outbreak of blackwater fever before the campaign was a fortnight old, but the biggest one was the death of Devligne at Strassburg. This was, again, computer generated and Devligne had been central to ‘the story so far’. It was tempting just to pretend it had not happened, but instead I soldiered on and it has changed the basic character of the war, with Alsatia in the hands of men far less committed to the conflict, that country’s participation looks less aggressive and more half-hearted.

Now, with a new PC and some two years of real time passed I can no longer use the ECW set. Instead I am using The Great Captains, but this does not have the sense of independence that the ECW set had. But I have tried to come up with paper matrices to make up for this.

Next Battles

I will draw maps and write up the two succeeding engagements, Hammbruck and Hardheim, that were both fairly small. But now it looks like the climactic battle of the campaign is upon us, certainly on Franconia’s northern front. That battle will be fought in a month or two, as I have a few more units to paint for it, and we shall see how it goes.


1 comment:

Bluebear Jeff said...


Interesting stuff. I've incorporated a number of "fog of war" elements in the rules I've been working on for our local "Wars for Arcadian Glory" campaigns.

The results have often been quite interesting . . . and much more entertaining than those "predictable" rule sets.

I've posted several of the rule mechanisms on my "Saxe-Bearstein" blog (address below my signature). But these discussions are somewhere in the early months of my archives.

I particularly liked the account of the Battle of Strassburg. Is there a technical reason why you cannot keep using the rules used in this battle? I very much like the "unexpected" results.

-- Jeff