Sunday, 26 February 2017

Putting Down Mutiny, 1813

Happy well-belated New Year! First post of 2017.

Today was a long awaited return to gaming, and indeed to Napoleonics, using Black Powder rules and scenarios from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames.  It was a chance for me to use my newly-based French brigade- 144 figures.
These weren't painted by me, of course; this are the ones that were  a club purchase some years ago now from Mabuhay painting service in the Philippines.

They won't win any prizes, but they do the job; very acceptable wargames-quality painting that looks good en masse.  After Achilles went back to Greece- taking all his beautifully painted Perry Miniatures French with him- we needed Frenchmen.  Getting them through Mabuhay allowed us to get painted figures on the table fast so that we could get back down to some seriously fun gaming. These are quite the battle-hardened veterans now.

When I first received them, I touched them up a bit (brighter colours on the pom-poms), I gave them some GMB flags, and then put them on some Litko bases and textured the bases with sand.  A lot of work on my part (and extra expense in terms of the bases and the flags), which earned me the privilege of having them on pretty much a permanent loan.  We have gamed with them in this state for some years now, but it always bugged me that I had never gotten around to actually painting and flocking the bases.

On Saturday I finally bit the bullet, sat down and did the whole bunch in one fell swoop, after first carrying out some minor repairs and retouching battle damage where I thought it was worth it.   Normally I don't mind doing basing, but I've never done a whole brigade's worth in one sitting; not the most exciting of tasks.

Still, l think it was worth it; they look so much better now, as they match the gaming mats and the rest of my own army.

Now for the scenario, and some pictures from the game. 

It's late 1813, and treacherous- and ungrateful- Confederation of the Rhine troops (devious Italians/untrustworthy Bavarians/some disaffected and unpatriotic Poles) have risen in opportunistic revolt against the benevolent and righteous rule of the revered Emperor Napoleon. 

Like the rats they are, they have imprisoned the French garrison in the town of Anhauser-Busch in an attempt to defect, with all their arms and equipment, to the approaching- and increasingly successful- Allied armies. Of course, the justifiably outraged French have sworn vengeance, and are trying to stop them.

It may surprise you to learn that I commanded the French.

We haven't gotten together for a good game of BP for a while, so we were rusty. My table isn't huge, so in the interests of space and playability we thought it best to keep it small- the OHWG scenarios are ideal for this. Each side provided a maximum of six units: 3-2-1; three infantry, two cavalry, one gun battery; or 4-1-1; four infantry, one cavalry, one battery; or 5-0-1; five infantry, no cavalry, one battery. Maximum one skirmish unit. 

Gaming in the (less than) Grand Manner, but no less entertaining for it. 

Given the table size, we played using 3/4 movement rates, and command values of eight. Worked well last time, when we managed to get two games in during the day.

The French were the defenders in the triple line defense scenario #26 from OHWG, a scenario based on the Battle of Bladensburg in 1814 (War of 1812). The attacking player has to cross a river and advance down the length of the table to seize a hill on the other side. Easier than it sounds; the defenders are outnumbered, and although they have some advantage in defending in depth, they are crap troops.

My friend Matt and I had played this one last year, but using Anglo-Saxons and Vikings; then the Vikings cleaned the Anglo-Saxon clock. A very challenging scenario for the defender- in fact, almost impossible for the defenders to win given even a moderately aggressive attacker.

My French had no cavalry, as I went with just infantry and a battery of artillery. But my infantry were all barrel-scrapings; ill-equipped Marie-Louise teenage conscripts, fifth-battalion dregs, impressed National Guard, provisional route battalions and other such raw Eurotrash. Whatever could be swept up throughout the rear areas by the French commander in a desperate effort to prevent the breakout of the Confederation troops. 

They couldn't be activated until the enemy came within 12", and were subject to the untested rule: their stamina wouldn't be revealed until they took their first casualty, at which point they have to roll a D6 to see how steadfast they were (or weren't).

The Italian/ Bavarian turncoats were all regular, with three units of infantry, one 8pdr battery, a regiment of Polish Lancers, and rifle-armed Jägers.

As we were using Black Powder rules rather than the ones in OHWG, this time I gave the French a bit more mobility than in the scenario as written, to account for the effect of long-ranged artillery and rifle fire (otherwise the attacker could just stand out of muskets range and blast each battalion in turn to oblivion with their Jägers and artillery). 

But despite this, this time round the (rebellious) Confederation troops couldn't even establish themselves across the river; in fact we drove them back over the bridge, which by the end of the battle was choked with their dead and wounded. We suffered one unit pushed back after having being charged by the lancers, but despite being frighteningly over it's breakpoint, it survived. Basically we got off with just a few scrapes and bruises. 

One of my units never even had to move from its initial position, being very (un)engaged throughout the whole battle. They just stood leaning on their muskets and watching all the fun from the top of the hill that was supposed to be the attackers' objective.

Giovanni and Sada have never been the most aggressive of players, bless their hearts, and between them managed to throw away a unit of Polish lancers early in the game. To be fair, they could have benefited from a bit better luck with their command rolls. But it worked both ways.

Piccies, in no particular order. Just some eye-candy.
HaT Bavarians
Initial setup- before we added the roads!
The French commander, threatening the lads with some personal GBH if they don't come through...
With roads!
Victrix Italians;  Lt. Topol on the right wishes he was a rich man...
A dreaded disorder flag.  This was to be a constant companion to this particular French battalion throughout the game.
Polish Vistula Lancers.  Prince August figures, cast and painted by Giovanni.  And very nice they turned out, too- I love that simple, but crisply painted, toy soldier style.
"Form Square!!!"
These two battalions went toe-to-toe for some three turns; the Bavarians blinked first, but both regiments hemorrhaged profusely.
All the Confederation units have been forced back over the river; "Vive la France!!!"

Great fun- and a rare French victory! It was good having another Black Powder game, and we are thinking of putting on a big game sometime during the summer, schedules permitting.
Now, back to work on my cuirassiers.