Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cossack & Lancer Skirmish Series

The provision of information is always critical in the development of a Campaign.

During the period of the 1813 Campaign the eyes of the Allied armies were the Cossacks, for the French it was the Hussar or Chasseur that probed, while the Lancer performed screening duties.

There is a critical set of information, both sides want to get at this information and preserve the secret of their own from the other side.

To 'game-out' this situation, the game master is proposing a 7 game skirmish series, where the winner of four of the games will get to have the enemy information and preserve their own secret.

The location of the battle series is not revealed until after the series is played out ...

Game1 : Lancers win  - L1 :: C0
Game 2: Cossacks win   -  L1 :: C1
Game 3: Cossacks win - L1 :: C2
Game 4: Lancers win - L2 :: C2
Game 5: Lancers win - L3 :: C2
Game 6: Lancers win  - L4 :: C2

Lancers win the series 4 games to 2.


  1. David,

    This is intriguing. What you are proposing? Giving very schematic orders (ambush/envelope/obsereand retreat...) and then rolling dice for encounters that might come about ?


  2. The Campaign players have only minimal input here.

    Cavalry screens are 'assumed' in the campaign format, they are the eyes of the army and how the 'information' is gained ... in this case very small and very specific information is available for each side at the same time.

    I have always wanted to use a skirmish 'tournament' or 'series' to determine which side was successful in holding off the patrols and in gaining the information.

    So for this situation there will be a best 4 of 7 games of skirmishing. For my part I plan to use the Star Wars Miniatures Battles rules for the skirmish battle(s) that I do run. Others could use whatever rules that they have or think best (homebrew).

    The plan is to have the first 4 games done as quickly as possible (even simultaneously with different tables wherever) then have a final 3 (if needed) done in sequence with the winner of 4 games first gaining the 'prize' of the Campaign important information.

    As to forces, they are French Lancers vs Russian Cossacks; with the Lancers having better skill & faster/larger horses while the Cossacks get up to 20% more men with less skill and not as many lances (Cossacks did use them also).

    I think that the "Song of Drums and Shakos" is about skirmishing as is "Sharpe Practice" though they tend to concentrate on the rifleman experience in the rocky terrain of Spain and the Pyrenees mountains. While these games will be more like the clashes of 1809, 1812, 1813, 1814 between the Russians and French, which happened more on horseback than foot.

  3. Well, it is a very tempting idea. I have had a similar ambition, though I have played something similar out, only a rare (unique?) stand-alone skirmish scenario. Sharpe Practice does come straight to mind.

    So far as I recall my history, as the 1813 campaign wore one, a (huge) Allied superiority in numbrs of cavalry worked to severely limit French scouting and made them wear themselves out protecting supply and communication. The numbers of cossacks alone is somewhat stunning. It would be nice to work this into the campaign, it is the other side of the coin that sees the French with better movement and cpmbat flexibility.

  4. "Never" ... I have never played something similar out....


    Also, it is a great idea that someone other than the players do the skirmishes, or, if it is the players, that they have no idea which side they are playing.

  5. Well it looks like at least 2 of the games will be done by campaign players, and I am working on a team effort to come to my games table this coming weekend. 18/19 May.

    As it turns out the children have a pro-D day on Friday so my eldest and I will start off the series with at least one skirmish that day. We may see up to three other games happen Saturday, leading to a potentially exciting Sunday to decide the series.

  6. Ah, this gamemeister is getting trickier by the week... love it!

    "Capitán" would likely be a good set to use. I downloaded a copy when they were free, but it looks like they are selling them now...

    Rafa may wish to comment?

    1. James,

      I have had this little idea looking to go for a while, seeking to get more tables into the game action and increase participation as it were.

      I did not want to waste it on some trivial information and saw a situation come up in the current campaign that it fit well for.

      From the Campaign perspective this is important information ... and as always the recce arm must treat every patrol and defensive skirmish as the 'most important'.

      In the post game debrief (next year?) we'll have a chance to hash over the might-have-beens.

  7. I also own 'Capitan' but never played it, sorry. However it seems a good rulebook for a small cavalry encounter.
    For skirmish I use Song of Drums and Shakos. As Murdock said, SDS is more focused on infantry encounters of small squads. It was designed for infantry, so I am curious about its performance for cavalry.
    Another question is the number of men for each side. I think that Capitan and Sharpe Practice were designed for greater squads than SDS, but I am not sure

    1. Rafa,

      Could you be interested in running one of the Skirmish Battles?

      If you have the interest and the time to do it over the 18/19th that would be excellent.

  8. I can try it, but I need more information :-)
    1) Russian Cossacks vs. French Chevaux-Legers?
    2) French Chasseurs a Cheval or Hussars could be an option?
    2) How many men by side? SDS is for 10-12 men squads

    e-mail me directly to

  9. Another possibility is Batailles de l'ancien régime (Bill Protz's BAR rules), which can be used (and is used) for 18th century skirmishes:

    1. Jim, do you have the rules to game it out?

      This weekend?

  10. David,

    I have the BAR rules and Sharpe Practice, I have never tried the skirmish element of BAR. I could most likely do a skirmish game. DO you have an idea of numbers of units or figures, more or less?

    1. Situation is as follows:

      French get up to 50% better quality (leadership, morale, weapons etc - whatever the rules system has in it - again we are not stuck on what rules to be used); while Russians get up to 25% more numbers.

      So for Rafa's system I set out French with 3 x 10-man squads and the Russians with 3x 12-man squads, with the quality bonus going to the Lancers.

      Toss out 8-12 terrain elements on the table, little woods copses or low hills (to screen visibility) and have a creek or two (to get the horses into trouble with footing or otherwise) then have at!

      Awesome if you could game this on Saturday or early Sunday as my son and I will do the first game on Friday, sounds like two others in Europe are going for games (hopefully Saturday) that would have the first 4 games done by Sunday morning my time here Pacific Coast so we could do the final 'battles' or have the final results remain unknown until the emails (or skype calls) come in from around the world with results!

      Wild ride for sure.

    2. Correction for Rafa's game:

      Only 10 lancers vs 12 Cossacks (rather than 3 squads of each).

      Fast play for sure!

  11. Interesting... I'm thinking that use of Featherstone's blind movement/blind encounter rules using markers that may or may not be real units might be a good way to simulate the probing and scouting of unknown territory or patrols of both sides.

    1. I'm not familiar with those.

      In this case the whole action has been abstracted to 'up to' 7 games, with the winner of 4 or them first to get the goodies and protect their secrets ...

    2. I suspect that I wasn't too clear, this is something that appears fairly often and was used by C. Grant from time to time as well if I am not mistaken.

      The blind encounter rules are simply the use of cards or other "impostors" to hide where units really might be. If the defender has 5 units, there might be 10 impostors, which might be stationary or mobile following the scenario. The impostors represent possible sightings of the enemy even even real sightings of single scouts. The attacker has to approach each one to determine if it is real, and fight or flee is it is. It opens a way to have real surprises and ambushes. A card might be a deer, a patch of scarlet flowers, a patrol, or several companies hiding in ambush. One could do the same thing by writing unit names onto cards, mixing those with blank cards, and turning the cards as the attacker probes sectioned of a pre-gridded table.

      It would allow surprise to play out throughout the game, even if played solo.

    3. OK then David, send me a sketch of forces and of the kind of terrain and I'll play it out on the weekend. I'll try out the blind encounter stuff too.