Sunday, 4 January 2015

FoG-R start to the New Year

It's been over six months since we last played FoG-R and in looking for a subject for the New Year game there was a suggestion we should go back to it. Phil is painting a 15mm Huguenot army and he and Chris A are going to Usk to play in the tournament. Hence a need to try out Huguenot tactics and reacquaint ourselves with the rules.

Because with FoG-R, whatever else you may say, you sure get a lot of rules.

We had a good turnout for the game as well, with Will, Phil & two Chris', plus me.

Well, we all know the saying that a little learning is a dangerous thing and never was it more true of a game. I had a slightly disappointing time and I have no one else to blame but myself for thinking I understood how things worked and then finding out they didn't. Still, more of that later.

Our early arrivals were Chris K and Will. Chris joined me with the Huguenots, and Will took the Spanish. At this point we were awaiting Chris A & Phil, who actually understand the rules.

Chris K took one look at my authentic early Huguenot set up and declared it just wouldn't do, so we shifted the Gendarmes from the centre over to my wing, and supported them with some Reiters. The centre was now held by a large Landsknecht keil, supported by Huguenot shot on either side. The left wing was held by Reiters and "Arquebusiers on Nags". Let's call them dragoons for this game.

Will was happier with the authentic Spanish set up. He had two tercios in the centre, supported by artillery with gendarmes of varying quality on the wings supported by mounted shot or light foot  .

Chris A and Phil were soon with us, so off we went.

I had the right wing and immediately advanced with the intention of getting to grips with my Spanish opposite numbers. I had my chaps "en haye" (all in one line). What I didn't realise that under FoG-R "en haye" includes having some of your elements in a second rank to fill in later and reduce your vulnerability to shooting. I was advised to do this by Phil on my first turn, but I ignored him because it didn't look right. Big mistake.

Chris K went out wide with his horse to turn the Spanish flanks.

The Spaniards pushed slightly forward in the centre, and were happy for us to come at them. This is an observable tendency for anyone with tercios. Me, I'd move them into the middle of the table and dominate the board. Sorry this picture is a bit out of focus.

 The Spanish opened up with their artillery, as they had my gendarmes in their line of sight.

I occupied an orchard with my landsknecht. Yes there are some crossbow men bulking out the numbers.

Into the valley of death move my gendarmes. I'm about a turn behind here, as I forgot to take a double move in turn one. Chris A is opposing me, and reckons he's got me surrounded by shot, and his gendarmes strongly supported by a tercio. I'm not bothered at this point as I have enough room to hit his gendarmes and overwhelm them.

Chris still stands and waits. I divert my Reiters to shoot off those musketeers in the ploughed field (you can tell it's a ploughed field as someone is ploughing it). BTW The musketeers are light foot, but I've not got any Spanish based like that.

On the other flank Chris K has seized the village with his dragoons and is enfilading Will's gendarmes ("Celedas").

Chris A has turned his musketeers to get a final shot at my gendarmes (I've lost a base by this point). I've still got enough to hit his gendarmes all along the line and have an overlap however.

Will has moved his tercio up to seize the middle of the table. This draws Phil's keil forward to pin it in place,  whilst we work on the supporting troops.

This is when the wheels dropped off for me, and my "little learning" let me down. Apparently I couldn't slide or wheel or do anything with my gendarmes to line up with their opposite numbers, but had to charge the tercio as well. This is because you can't wheel if it means you end up contacting fewer opponents. I understand why the rule is there, but honestly, would gendarmes charge a steady tercio when they can mix it with their social equals? And doesn't an overlap fight anyway? Well, it does, but it doesn't count for these purposes. As I said, FoG-R has a lot of rules.

Not too serious initially as I won the impact phase. I'd have won it by more if I'd not had to fight the tercio.

Elsewhere things are going better as we rough up Will's horse.

Anyway, back to my gendarmes. I lost the melee phase in spades. Hits on the tercio were effectively wasted (it's so big) and I was outscored in the cavalry battle, with Chris hitting with most of his re-rolls, getting 7 hits to my four. The meant I got outscored by two hits and then rolled 1 for my death roll and also rolled stupidly low for my Cohesion test. Unit virtually annihilated and broken in one round of combat. Not happy.

On the other hand I did shoot up the light foot with my reiters.

The next shock was that apparently pursuing gendarmes can just stop and wheel and charge another unit in the flank. As young people would say "WTF???". I'd believe it if I was told we got this bit of the rules wrong, but books were consulted, and it seemed at the time that we didn't.

So I lost my reiters (not a surprise as they were charged in the flank by superior cavalry). Luckily, I'd still got a single unit of light foot standing out in the open.

On the other flank a failed CMT (Complex Manoeuvre Test) meant Chris' reiters were fighting in a narrower formation than they might have wanted.

So, yes, we'd lost my flank from a position of strength on deployment. Way to go me.

In the middle Phil was lining his troops up to take the isolated tercio apart.

Due to game time pressures Phil charged the tercio with the keil earlier than intended., but things generally went in his favour.

I started to get the rule systems sorted out, and was able to get quite a few elements shooting at the rear of the pursuing Spanish gendarmes, but alas couldn't hit them. Didn't follow why they had to pursue now, when they didn't earlier. Lucky really, or they'd have stomped all over my foot.

Those tercios are tough, as they fight all round and have no flanks or rears.

The fight over by the village was inconclusive, but Chris K was bringing up his dragoons to help out.

At this point we'd been playing for over four hours, so I called an end to it. Unclear which side was winning. Everyone declared themselves happy with the afternoon's entertainment, and much was learnt about how FoG-R works.

FoG-R isn't a bad representation of renaissance warfare, and gets a lot of things right. It's possibly a little too random in some areas, and there really are a lot of rules to make it work properly. You have to know the rules to get a realistic result rather than playing the history rather than the game. There was nothing wrong with what I was trying to do with the gendarmes, but my execution wasn't correct under the rules. And my dice rolling was poorer than my opponent.

Well, that's probably it on the game front for a while. Back to work on Monday in the City. We'll see how that pans out before I plan anything else.


  1. Excellent BatRep but if FOG-R is ANYTHING like FOG-Ancients, I would throw in the towel. We tried for a long time to come to grips with FOG and simply never could. The whole process (and there are many) always seemed too much like work.

    From your photos, I do enjoy seeing the tactical differences of Dutch vs Spanish deployments on the table. Very cool!

    To stop mid pursuit and target another victim? Your gendarmes must have good brakes!

    1. I tried FoG and didn't really like it or get on with it. The evidence of this post to the contrary I have quite a lot of time for FoG-R. It's a pretty good stab at getting pike and shot wargaming right.

      Under other circumstances I might well invest in it and take the time to learn it properly, but at the moment, I think not. Too much else on.

  2. FoG and FoG-R are easy games ... they get complicated when players try old fashioned wargamerly ways of avoiding doing the obvious and find they can't. The two points of grievance here ... thr gendarmes en haye road across the battlefield into the path of a tercio (at a smaller unit of enemy horse but also into the path of a tercio) ... the gendarmes had the opportunity of reducing the length of their line (so avoiding clattering into the tercio as well as their chosen target) but chose not to ... only to discover that a swerve around the tercio was not permitted as it would mean not all those eager noblemen determined to be en haye would then be able to fight someone (which presumably they would have wanted to do hence their desire to be en haye) ... I have no problem with this (if you don't want to charge them don't have your guys ride straight at them) ...

    As for the pursuing cavalry ... they passed a 'rally from pursuit' (complex move) test at the end of their first pursuit phase (so yes, they did have good brakes) ...

    It enabled them to charge the reiters as you had failed to predict how badly your charge would do and had left your supporting unit flank-on and in the path of pursuers should your gendarmes end up broken (more like 's**t happens' than 'WTF') ...

    OK ... the attack was clumsy and mistimed ... that wasn't the fault of the rules ... That the rules didn't allow cheesey swerves seems an advantage in most circumstances ... (and when you had mistimed the moves no-one actually obliged you to charge ...) ...

    As it happen you very nearly pulled it off with a lucky impact round ... but balanced your high rolls with unlucky rolls in the melee phase ... lost a lot of troops and broke more quickly than would usually be the case.

    Overall I thought the game went quite well and the rules did their job pretty much ...


    1. Well, I did say at the start of the blog that what happened was my fault, & I should have listened to my commander.

      I like the rule that says you have to charge what's in front of you where it stops you targeting, for example, the shot wings of a unit, avoiding those pesky pikes. I don't think that's what was happening here, and I refute the charge of cheesiness. I think it is quite reasonable to go for the horse and avoid the tercio. The tercio's role is to support the horse with fire, - which it did admirably.

      I apologise for one inaccuracy. I missed Chris rallying on the CMT. I thought it was just declared he could stop as he had lost contact with the fleeing gendarmes. That makes more sense.

    2. Hopefully not too boring to add, on the 'good brakes' that FoG has a joint phase (in which rallying takes place) but movement is in IGO/UGO turns. So if you rally in the joint phase at the end of your opponent's turn (which is mostly random ... when things happen, when you pass a 50/50 test) , the rallying seems very quick as you get to go again in your turn (which is now) ... if you happen to rally at the end of your own turn it seems to take longer (as you hang around throughout your opponent's new turn before you get to go again in your own) ... In part this is just the clunkiness we have all come to accept as preferable to the old argy-bargy we used to have with simultaneous movement (when they would likely have had to miss a turn physically to reorganise) ...

      Make sense?


    3. I understand the sequence better. It does seem to favour a unit "standing" or at least receiving the charge, but no doubt looking at the turn sequence fully will bring up some compensating factor.

  3. Apologies if accusing you of cheesiness - I don't think you were being cheesy ... I think you assumed that only the most bonkers of Gendarmes would charge a tercio when he had crossed the battlefield to fight a cavalry battle ...

    However, a tercio did walk into your path and you did not adjust to avoid it before declaring the charge.

    The spirit of FoG is simply to have a line drawn between picking and choosing your targets or just shouting tallyho! and clattering what is in front of you. For FoG it is mostly how big you are ... (so that, in a charge, everybody fights the enemy if they can) ... Mostly I think it is a good rule but it may be that it would work better with some period specific modifiers.

    Then again, I don't know the period as well as you do ...


    1. I know what I did wrong, - I wrote as much up top. My issue isn't with the rules, but my understanding of them. As I said "A little learning is a dangerous thing"

  4. Strewth! There has to be an easier way to run a wargame !
    I have FOGR but the turgid jargon puts me off- as it did with FOG ancients - at least I played that a bit. However when "game" ovecomes period I bow out.
    The game and more importantly the resulting dicussion here has done nothing to endear me to FOGR

    1. As I said above I didn't like FoG, but I like FoG-R. It does a very good job of simulating key bits of renaissance warfare, but you have to know what you are doing. The rules are well written to squeeze out all sorts of cheesiness and make units perform as they did historically. However, if you don't know the system you will come unstuck.

      Comparing them to other generic renaissance rule sets I prefer them to George Gush's WRG rules, Tercio and DBR. They're also better than Neil Thomas' renaissance rules which really let his overall body of work down badly.

  5. Ignore my contributions, then, Big Andy ... FoGR is simpler than FoG Ancients and has had a lot of the difficulties and 'game' taken out (in favour of period) . I tried to explain in clear (rules) terms where Treb was making it sound more baffling than it was (like failing to note that the cavalry rallied because they rallied by rolling more than 8 on 2 dice - not because they were somehow radio-controlled) ...

    Unfortunately it is often the case that discussing something which has been misrepresented does then lead to the whole issue seeming much more complex than it was.

    Sorry for that


    1. I admit to being baffled. But I also admit to it being my fault. In addition there is a strong random element and if it goes against you then it can be unforgiving. The good players can allow for that. I just don't fall into that category at the moment.

      I wpould like to play more FoG-R, in a more regular fashion, so I can really get to grips with them. I think the will give a rewarding experience. On the other hand, if they're the type of rules you don't like, then you won't like them. But I could say that about a lot of things.

    2. I found the effort of will needed to get your head around FOG too much I suppose if you played nothing else for 6 months- and possibly gave up sleeping...
      Now in theory with FOG-R I should be better off as I know 17th century warfare pretty well and am not entirely ignorant of the 16th century either. However I find that with many gamesey rule sets that period knowledge is actually detrimental- DBR being the worst in this respect.
      Currently I have FOG-R and Pike and shotte to try out. Fog-R is far more difficult to actually read. I find my 17th century drill manuls easier to grasp.

    3. Of the two you have on your to do list, I'd go with FoG-R over P&S. The latter from what I have observed allows a number of absurdities especially on how pike & shotte regiments work.

      FoG-R works hard to make historical things happen. If you know the period when you read the rules you should be able to see why certain things are done. the rule i complained about re-charging targets is perfectly valid as it stops you clipping the outside of an infantry unit just to kill the muskets.

      As I said, FoG-R has a lot of rules, and you probably would find it easiest to learn from an existing practitioner (as do a lot of rules). Once you get going it has a certain logic to it.

    4. Nice game Graham. I enjoyed trotting the Ritters out again, even if they do insist on caracoling at the first sound of a Hurdy Gurdy. I am reminded as ever that the army with the Simplest Uniform wins :O)

      I'm still of the opinion that Andy Callan's hair roller rules take a lot of beating.

      Regards, Chris

    5. I'm not sure that either side had the simpler uniforms. All the Huguenot finery is collected in the Landsknechts, whilst the Spanish bits and pieces are more widely spread.