Saturday, 10 March 2018

Wurst Case Scenario

As promised, pictures of our last game, this one was fought on February 25th. 
"Hans!  Ich muss dringend mal pinkeln"   
 Prussians by Old Glory.  Painted by James Kelly, now in Chiba.  
He used to paint for Old Glory magazine back in the day; these are now in Giovanni's collection.
A vengeful force of Prussians, along with their sausage-scoffing, beer-swilling acolytes, the Bavarians, had entered into an unholy alliance with some Italians and Poles.  In a short and brutal engagement they effectively wiped the floor with the hapless French- although it must be said that les bleus went down fighting. 

The Allies were assisted in no small measure by the Dice Gods, who on this occasion clearly decided that they hated Gallic Guts with a real passion.

This was another one of our usual brigade-sized games using a scenario from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames, this one a very entertaining and challenging "not-Leuthen" scenario based on an original by Charles Grant (it can be found on p.78: Scenario #7 Flank Attack (2) in Neil's book).

Most importantly, we may have successfully initiated a new gamer, Erik, into the mysteries and joys of Napoleonic wargaming. 

Erik had been toying for a while with the idea of trying out some horse & musket gaming (he hails from Maryland, and in the past had been taken around many an ACW battlefield).  Unfortunately, fate was to show no mercy to new recruits, and would deal him a cruel hand when it came to die throws.

Giovanni commanded the Germans, Erik had the French. Erik had never played Napoleonics before, and Giovanni was rusty after months and months of playing mainly Bolt Action.  

I was the one with, by far, the most experience with the rules. So I thought it best to sit this one out, and instead I would act as chief rule-looker-upper and scenario umpire.  
Le Champ de Mars; note the Martian.
The sleepy town of Not-Leuthen.  It was untouched by the horrors of war for the duration of the game.
The Germano-Italian-Polska Alliance assembles.
Doomed French await their dreadful fate.

My ill-used 7e Chasseurs à cheval were- yet again- to have their lives uselessly sacrificed by a callous high command.

The Ducal Lancers of Prince August Vztmrk of Cyrntzkvystk, direct descendant of the legendary prince who, in 1423, banished the vowel from the Polish Language.
The scenario has a defending force of six units ensconced on hill.  These are facing a small force of two enemy battalions (although as the Prussians were fielding one average-sized and one small battalion, and the French battalions were deemed large, we added a small contingent of Bavarian Schutzen). 

Suddenly appearing on the French left is a flanking force of four Allied units, taking the defenders unaware- Merde!! 

The defenders have to quickly re-orient their lines to face the new threat, while at the same time holding off the small force to the front.

It's a challenge for the defending force, but it can be done.  Provided, of course, you don't position your artillery uselessly on the right flank for the first few turns. And, of course, it does help if your troops can actually hit the broadside of a barn- while inside the barn.

As I mentioned, Erik had the most appalling run of luck on the dice, while Giovanni's Germans were pulling rabbits out of their lucky shakos, allowing him to get away with suicidal maneuvers and unnecessary risks that should really have been punished by a quick trip to the battlefield abattoir.  Just proving that there is no justice in this world.

Despite being umpire, I confess to secretly wanting to have seen my beloved French succeed.  But I needed to remain fair and utterly neutral, so was kibitzing with both sides.

On numerous occasions I found myself having to talk both commanders out of making some obvious Bad Move.  I did this with commendable impartiality (I think), although there were many occasions involving mental face palms, eye-rolling, and barely-restrained sucking of teeth.
"Mais non! C'est incroyable!  Mes pauvres soldats!"
French line seen from the front.  Note how uselessly placed the guns are.
The flanking force.  The similarly poorly-positioned Bavarian hussars never saw action, nor had a shot fired against them.  
View of the start positions from the French right.  They needed to quickly see off the Prussians to the front, and then turn to face the Italo-Polish-Bavarian menace to their left.
The French should have won this one.  
They didn't...
Disorder markers start appearing, as welcome as acne after a chocolate cake binge
The French finally did see off one of the Prussian battalions.  But it's a case of too little, too late, and at too high a cost.
"Stop making all that damned bloody noise!"

No mercy...
The cavalry spent most of the game charging each other to little effect.  
Late in the game the Poles managed to destroy a French square that was already well beyond its break point.

A rather heavily-mauled French brigade finally manages to form a perpendicular line to face the flank attack.
Time to roll up the French flank
"Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!"  Scratch one French line unit.  
When playing games this small, you can ill-afford any losses.
Bavarian infantry take the high ground; the Allied objective was to be in control of the hill by the end of 15 turns.
End game for French fortunes.  Their artillery about to be routed, one remaining infantry unit pushed back off the hill with its back to the river.  
Time to throw in the towel- Sauve qui peut!

All in all, a fun game and a very good scenario, one we'd all like to try again, with some small tweaks in deployment, set-up conditions, ranges, and with perhaps more uncertainty as to when the flanking force appears.

We were originally planning on trying out some of the rules in the new Warlord Games' Black Powder supplement, Clash of Eagles. But other than reduced ranges and move distances to fit our table, to keep things simple we decided to just play the game as per the basic rule book. No point in complicating things.

As it was, we could probably have gotten in another game in the time available to us, given that this one was over in a measly seven turns. But the game took longer than what I have been used to; as mentioned Erik was new to the game, and Giovanni hadn't played in a while.

In addition, Giovanni- bless 'im- tends to approach every move, of every unit, in every turn like some golfer lining up that final critical putt on the 18th hole in the PGA. I'm not sure whether to introduce a stopwatch for turns, or just rely on a subtle hint followed, if necessary, by a quick gentle kick up the butt. Both solutions have their appeal.

Mind you, to be fair we did take a long break for a rather excellent pizza and some beers. An army marches on its stomach.

Erik is a great guy to game with- as he was when he graciously snotted my IJA with his Afrika Korps during our Bolt Action tournament last October- and will fit in well with the old crew. Despite the outcome, Erik took a great interest in the rules and period.

It seems he enjoyed Black Powder a lot, despite Lady Luck throwing him to the wolves whenever he had to make a critical roll. In his words, Black Powder hit a sweet spot of simple, easy to remember mechanics, along with providing a clear and quick outcome.

To ensure that he was pushed over the edge, at the end of the day I gave him a present of some gateway drugs, in the form of a box of plastic Warlord Landwehr, to help get him started. Pimp those Prussians.

The next post will feature the latest additions to my Napoleonic collection- once I get them based. It's been a while! 

(And apologies for having to upload this a second time- Blogger was being temperamental and corrupted the previous post when I tried to edit it.)

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Battles for Bridgeheads

Finally found the energy for a new post, this time getting around to putting up pictures of some of our previous games.  
My veteran 7e Chasseurs à cheval were not needed on the day- let those haughty Guard Lancers earn their pay for once!

First up are some shots from a very enjoyable day of Napoleonic gaming back in December, There were two games, actually- the first was our usual Black Powder bash; and having enough time left for a second game, we decided to make it a true skirmish; our first outing with Ganesha Games' Songs of Drums and Shakos
Tools of the trade.
Thinking about it, I'm surprised I haven't posted this earlier, as the French were actually victorious! Twice!  Doesn't happen often in our games.

The BP game was admittedly a nail-biter; Matt and I played the bridgehead scenario (#5 from One Hour Wargames), and it proved both a challenge and lots of fun, with the British bridgehead eliminated as their forces were steadily pushed back over the river in twelve bloody turns.
Forces of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, and Justice.
Forces of Hooliganism, Warm Beer, and high-fat Chip Butties.
We decided that this should count as bad going in the rules.
French advance into the fray.
The game featured a rare appearance of Matt's solitary Neapolitan unit, resplendent in white with pink facings, fighting on the side of the French. 
British cross the river.  For some reason Matt held back one line regiment as a reserve on his side of the river.  Mistake.
I had taken the courageous decision to rely on my French Guard Dutch (Red) Lancers for my cavalry.  These scarlet-hued and overpaid poltroons had so far let the side down miserably in virtually every game where they found themselves actually having to commit to combat. 

This would be their one last opportunity to redeem themselves; I had hinted darkly that if they failed me yet again, there would be some Prince August moulds under the Christmas tree this year, and let's just say I wouldn't be finding myself short of casting metal... 

But for once my lancers performed, if not brilliantly, at least competently; the punitive threat of immersion into the hot metal crucible has been averted- for the time being. 
Une pression impitoyable
French take the fight to the English point d'appui.
The Neapolitans also put in a creditable performance, as they often do in our games.  On this day they made several determined charges against the formed-up 60th Rifles.  After a number of inclusive rounds of intense hand-of-hand combat, the two adversaries fought themselves to mutual destruction, both having managed to fail their break test at the same time.  

But exchanging an exhausted unit of line infantry for one of the enemy's crack rifle regiments was a good trade-off in my books.
Broken Neopolitans.  Matt's grin soon faded as the Rifles failed their own break test.  Snap!
Actually, he's safer with the miniatures than are some gamers I've known. And he doesn't get greasy paws from dipping into a bag of potato chips.

We had time for a second quick game, so we decided to make it a skirmish using Songs of Drums & Shakos.  A British RN landing party's attempt to take the same bridge from a small detachment of voltigeurs- six figures a side.  

My first time non-solo with the rules, and I hadn't the time to get up to speed with them much before the game, so to some extent we were winging it.  

However, it didn't take either of us long to get comfortable with the basic mechanics.  I'm sure we made lots of mistakes, and omitted some parts of the rules.  In the interests of time, we were just concentrating on the essentials of movement, firing, and hand-to-hand combat.  
Alarme! Gaston and Pierre manage to wound a marine, as they bravely try to hold off the attack.
Lt. Alphonse de Martinet rushes the rest of his piquets to the bridge. Would he be in time?
Gaston and Pierre seek cover behind the parapet of the bridge.
After initial British success, and despite the wounding of their gallant lieutenant, the French were able to retake the bridge and slay the impertinent- and, as it turned out, fatally impetuous- Mr. Midshipman Stringplucker.
A fierce mêlée on the bridge sees the Jack Tars repulsed and their impetuous middy slain. Vive la France! 
SDS was great- a real hoot; easy to grasp mechanisms made for a fast-paced game, with not a dull moment. We will definitely be trying them out again.

We had another Napoleonics game on February 25th, and I'll add those pics to this blog later this week.  

Other hobby activities have been mostly building models.  Along with working on the 15mm Desert War British armour, I've been building an M36 Jackson & M4 Sherman Jumbo for my WW2 Yanks.  

I've room at the painting table for plastic kits or painting, not both.  But this weekend I tidied away the modelling equipment and will be taking up the paintbrushes again.  I have had a long period of time where the painting mojo had gone completely AWOL, but recently I've been feeling it returning again, so hopefully there will be a few new Napoleonics gracing the table for our next game.

I also need to work on some more terrain; I'm getting tired of fighting over the same farmhouses every game!