Thursday, 13 September 2012

Battle of Vitoria, 21st June 1813

This was a Blackpowder game played about this time last year. It was a massive AB1 event up at Lundin Links in Fife. The scenario was devised by Bill Gilchrist and played over two tables. The larger one represented the main Allied attack against main French position. The smaller table was the allied attack on the French right flank some way to the west of the main battle, centred on the village of Gamara Mayor.
The main French commander was Jim Loutitt while the Allies were commanded by Angus Konstam, although his Wellington impression left a lot to be desired.

I was plonked on the smaller table with Derek Hodge, Dax Robertson and Chris Henry. Myself and Derek commanded the French. Dax commanded the British while Chris had Spanish/Portuguese. The brief for the French was to prevent the allies securing any of the bridges.These two pictures go side by side and show the main action as far as I was concerned . The picture on the right is Gamara Mayor and one of the all important bridges. On the right shows the road leading to the second bridge with Dax's highlanders advancing menacingly forwards.

The French deployed in the villages, 1 infantry brigade in each. 1 Dragoon brigade was placed behind the gap between the villages while light cavalry and light troops held the right flank.

The British began with a general advance across the board and soon began to take a few casualties from artillery. The 95th rifles surged forward and soon began to lap round the village on the left threatening some French guns on the edge of Gamara Mayor. In an attamt to delay this I sent my Dragoon Brigade up to chase them away. This turned into a bit of a fiasco as the 95th legged it and the supporting infantry formed square backed by two batteries of artillery. My prize Dragoons took a pounding and had to pull back without achieving much.

With the threat of the cavalry removed the Highland brigade enveloped the village and prepared to assault. I pulled on of my reserve battalions from behind the village out and placed them to the highlanders flank. I sent the other on into the village in anticipation of the assault.
 I didn't have to wait long, to the skirl of the pipes the highlanders came tearing in. Things however do not always go as planned, villages in Blackpowder are incredibly difficult to take unless you prepare properly, the highland assault came to bloody end. The reformed French Dragoons came crashing in again and sent the British reeling backwards breaking a couple of battalions. At the end of it the British were in a real mess and were desperately trying to reform their line and scrabbling about for reinforcements.

 The British now settled down to a more methodical approach after a bit of a chat about the tactics of taking a village. Leaving the bloody debacle of the other village the British and Spanish now concentrated their attentions on Gamara Mayor. Positioning their artillery to play a prominent role in the assault, the Allied Infantry steadily enveloped the village making sure not to expose themselves to Dragoons lurking round the corner. 

In a string of turns they were steadily rustling the French out of the village. Weight of numbers was now beginning to tell as the French reserves were running dry and there was no infantry left to launch a counter attack to retake that part of the village. Our main commander Marshal Loutitt had committed the French reserve on turn two on the main table, so the cupboard was empty there. Fortunately for the French night was coming and the Allies had not managed to cross the river and cut of the main French army. We had it seemed scraped a tactical victory.

Things in the main game were not going well for the French, despite the protestations of the main commander who seemed to view the looming crushing defeat as some kind of tactical draw. The entire French right flank was fleeing backwards while the Allies were pressing elsewhere.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Thoughts on Standards and Spontoons

Over the years I have had many an embarrassed moment, taking figures out of the box to find that officers and ensigns have lost their equipment. A bit of super glue later and it is all fixed, however happens again and again till I am faced with a hand that has more super glue residue than anything else along with the removed paint work. I also didn't like the fact that I had to store my command stands in separate boxes or on their sides as the flags were too tall.

So I hit on a cunning plan, why not sabot the flags! This involves fitting a piece of brass tube into the ensigns hand and then sliding the flag pole in and out. I could then have nice big flags for the table and fit my troops into the same box for the trip home.

 So what you need is some small brass tubing, you can get this from most model shops. Take one of your flag poles with you to get a rough size, I say rough because the flag poles I had from Bicorne Miniatures didn't fit any straight off. With foundry figures such as this fine chap the hand hold was always much bigger than the flag pole it turned out to be perfect for the tubing though.

Now the tricky bit snip said tube to the right length and then grip in a set of pliers. get a pin drill the same size as your flag pole and drill you your tubing, I found that it only took a fraction off but it was enough.

Once done you can glue onto position. I found that when you cut the tube it would pinch together and left you wondering how you are going to get your drill in. Careful pinching with the pliers will open it up just enough to get the drill head in then the drill will do the rest.

I was very please with my handy work but it took someone else to point out an additional benefit. Your SYW Klackstien musketeers can become AWI Hessians with a simple addition of an different flag. You can also do your own flags for Imagi-nation and if your beastly opponent captures your flag you can sadly hand it over!

I tried this technique with my spontoons but it was distinctly less successful. In a mad ebay buy, I got myself some extremely small magnets they do some tiny sizes. I figureed if I put one on the spontoon and one in the figures hand then voilĂ , one mobile connection and no breakages. And that ladies and gentlemen is how it turned out

Battle of Hoaky Creek

This was a American War of Independence game where the scenario was card driven, using Blackpowder rules. Card driven I hear you say! Well one of our new members a German lad by the name of Martin had come up with a universal idea to generate scenarios using a card system to give a quick but influenced game. It proved very interesting the cards become a game in themselves as we experimented with a few ideas.

We played out three card games,
The first had a dug in American brigade on clear terrain with a small stream with a surprise attack. Both sides had various levels of ammunition depletion and each had some extra troops.

The second was an incredibly woody, hilly table with terrible weather.

The third was an open table with fog and ammunition depletion for the Americans along with a spy in the ranks and the British had extra troops.

I foolishly plumbed for the first one as it sounded quite interesting. As we rolled up the table the stream ended up in front of the American lines while they had their dug in brigade on the other side of the stream on the left flank. My reading of the scenario was that the British general had sniffed an opportunity to attack and destroy this isolated American brigade, the Americans had however got wind of the British intentions and had raced another brigade up to counter attack the British.

Well the game did not start too well for the British, I need to get across the table and seal off the bridge to prevent the American reinforcements from deploying too quickly giving me time to roll up the isolated brigade. This to me seemed quite obvious but not too the lads on the ground who decided to wait around for a turn to see what happened. As it happened things were not so good in the American camp as the troops racing to the rescue decided to have a go slow and barely crossed the bridge on the first turn. 

Considering the situation demanded speed and panache both commanders were found wanting, well their dice at least. The next turn saw the British cautiously advancing it was looking more like a trap every minute the lead highlanders came under fire from the dug in brigade losing their crack status immediately along with a casualty, I think I rolled my eyes at this point!

Well it didn't get much better for the British the next few turns saw the attacked reduced to a shambles as the Americans couldn't miss and the British couldn't save. I hadn't even started attacking and my brigade was in a shambles as I tried to sort it out and regain a shred of wargaming honour the relief force got a couple of rapid moves and managed to shake themselves out into line. My artillery was having a hit or miss day but all in all was the stand out unit managing to put some rebels to flight. But it was all too little too late, the British were hopelessly compromised and when the Indians are getting involved you know it is time to run.
This was a fun game and the card certainly made for an interesting scenario. Better dice would have helped but don't all losing wargamers say that!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Encounter at Mierdalona, 17th May 1811

This was a fictional engagement dreamt up form the cerebral depths of John Glass's mind. The premise was that after the battle Albuera on the 16th May the French troops under Marshall Soult were retiring to the south. The British has mounted an uncharacteristic aggressive pursuit of the French forces. Our game has an Allied command consisting of Spanish, Portuguese and British troops catching the French rearguard in an extremely disadvantageous position. The French are defending a two long hills running across the table, at their disposal was 2 brigades infantry with a light cavalry brigade. The allies had 5 brigades of infantry and 3 brigades of cavalry. The ace in the allied deck was a flanking force consisting of the Portuguese with 1 brigade of infantry and 1 of cavalry. The objective of the french was to exit the table at the village of Mierdalona with 75% of their force intact. The allies had to destroy 50% of the French force.
 As the first turn kicked off the French desperately trying to reorganise to face the Portuguese to their right rear this was the flank commanded by Brian Phillips it was looking like a sticky wicket. I had the other infantry brigade and the light cavalry. While the infantry held the cavalry blundered but fortunately went to their right, it could have been a lot worse.
 The allies rolled on with what seemed an endless supply of troops, what had looked like a holding action was altering to a headlong flight and this was turn one. I have to say myself and Brian were starting to get a wee bit concerned.
 More frantic French manoeuvring and cursing of the dice filled their turn as lady luck was definitely missing. The allies poured forward some good rolls sped things along the Spanish in particular shutting down the range. John was getting some assistance from a young boarder by the name of Ewan, he seemed to have come supplied with well trained dice. His Spanish Irish were beginning to threaten the French left flank.
 Some tough decisions were being made in the French camp regarding which battalions were being sacrificed. The Portuguese had managed to cut across a third of the French rear but instead of pushing the advantage they began to attack the rear of the French flank assuring its destruction but leaving enough of a gap to slip the rest of the command out.
Back on the other side John had charged in with his two leading battalions in the ensuing melee one of them broke but the other managed to keep fighting. Ewan's Irish had slipped round the flank of the exposed French battalion and sent them reeling down the hill, the French retreat was starting to look like a real mess

Some scrambling and a wee bit of good fortune for the French managed to resurrect some form of French defence. This should only have been a restbite but some poor Spanish command dice, (young Ewan had left) allowed the French a breather.
While all this had been going on the allied cavalry had swept forward, a few sacrificial squares were detached with the hope of distracting some of them.

The cavalry crashed into the rear of Brian's battalions, they had failed to turn through some really bad dice. The first one evaporated in a whirl of horse flesh, the rest of the regiment looked doomed. We had however run out of time as usual Blackpowder let us play a fast and enjoyable game which even newbies can pick up within a few turns. The game had been a real command problem for the French and we should have started running sooner.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Rangers on the run

Derek Hodge had mentioned the week before about doing a small game of Muskets and Tomahawks so this being the week after, here is the report. Derek had arranged a small scenario involving a returning party of British rangers, light infantry and Indians heading home after burning out a few defenceless homesteaders. The French had an ambush party consisting of companie de Marine, militia and some Indians, deployed in front of a critical ford that the British had to cross. The sub-plots involved my French Indians leader who hated the rangers officer and wanted to scalp him. The British had to search a building to recover an item.

The French deployed their regular infantry unit in a field to the left of the road. These were the only unit on the table all the rest were represented by counters. The French deployed 4 counters to the left of the road around. The British deployed 4 counters to each each side of the road. The French had 3 more counters but these started off-table.

The British started pushing forward looking to flush out the French ambush. With a string of good cards they made good ground and started circling round the French left flank. At this point 3 French counters appeared behind the British left flank. It was all starting to look rather interesting.

The French flanking force now revealed one of its counters as a group of Indians these then advanced and spotted 3 of the 4 counters on the British left. If you are spotted by your opponent the designated leader is placed on the counter and the other figures are placed at your opponents discretion within 6". I started laughing at this point as I gleefully placed poor old Donald's figures all over the place. Formation ruined and fingers crossed for the next card I sat down. Well I stayed seated for a while as a couple of good cards allowed Donald to sort out the mess and get a round of fire in.

Donald did not hang around trading shots but headed off to engage and flank the Companie de Marine in the field. My Indians followed up but good cards for Donald and poor ones for me meant he stayed ahead giving the poor Companie de Marine a right shoeing. The British seemed more interested in the buildings the in fighting and my Indians were stuck in the woods.

The game at this point drew to a close nither side had achived there primary purpose but the British had managed to recover what ever it was they were looking for.

A good game the rules have a great feel to them one of the first blackpowder skirmish rulesets I have enjoyed.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Clash at Almendralejo, 1811

This was the first time in a while that I have had a game with Angus Konstam. It was a bring all your toys to the table type of game and unusually I had the most toys. The game had a ridge running down the middle of the table which the Anglo-Portuguese were holding in some strength. No really objectives other than have a go.

The British had 3 brigades of infantry and a cavalry brigade plus 3 batteries of guns. The french had 2 large brigades of infantry and 2 cavalry brigades plus 1 large battery and a small battery of horse artillery. Myself and Bart played the French while Angus the British.

The French plan was to launch a fierce assault on the allied left in order to try and get the British commander to commit troops from his reserve to shore it up. This would be followed by the second French infantry brigade assaulting the remaining defenders of the hill supported by the light cavalry on the right and the Dragoon brigade in the middle which if the flank assault had gone well would be able to come in on the flank of the troops defending the hill.

The game started well for the French as the assault troops swept up through the light woods to the front pushing the skirmish screen in front of it. Bart playing his role on the refused left flank engaged in an artillery duel and held his ground. The French assault force debouched from the wood and formed a 3 battalion firing line with 3 battalions in reserve. In the exchange of fire while hits were registered hardly any casualties were caused with some good saving dice being thrown. The next turn saw the French swinging their reserve battalions down and round the flank covered by the advancing firing line things were not looking to hot for the Portuguese.

To counter the French assault the Portuguese wheeled the gun battery around to face the threat it promptly shredded a poor French battalion with canister unable to take it the battalion fled the field. This however presented a glorious target of opportunity to the Dragoon brigade commander. It was all going to come down to 2 movement dice and the dice said yes. Having just finished painting the 3rd regiment the author was just slightly excited. The Dragoons smashed into the flank of the battery the result was inevitable and after sabreing all the gunners the dragoons retreated recoiled back to some comparative safety.

The infantry of the French right had managed to turn the Portuguese flank and were pressing their advantage home. 1 Portuguese battalion was destroyed and 2 more were not in good shape some lucky dice were keeping them on the table. The British commander now decided to commit his reserves to the try and shore up his exposed flank. Sadly that was as far as we got we did not get through the turns at the usual rate and poor old Bart had not moved a figure in anger. 1 or 2 more turns would have seen the main assault going in aganst the allied centre, while the french had a great position it was far from over and the allied centre still had quite a bit of combat power.

It was an enjoyable game and it is nice to get all the toys out especially the dragoons.


Kolin but with a Russian twist. Kolin was fought in the summer of 1757 as part of Frederick the Great's attempts to subdue Austria, Since Angus had neglected to collect any Austrians we had to substitute some Russians in.

The field was laid out in a rough representation of the battlefield no expense spare here. The set-up was slightly unorthodox with heavy cavalry being substituted in for Hussars.

The Prussian plan was pretty much follow what Frederick did assault the end of Kechnor ridge past Kechnor and through the oak wood. It didn't work for Frederick but only just.

The Game started with the Prussian infantry refusing one brigade and assaulting with two up the ridge. The focal point of this attack was a large Russian battery located at the end of the ridge beside the oak wood.

The Russian started to blaze away at the advancing infantry the russian cannon balls started to take effect and the casualties began to mount along with the disorders. As the lead 2 battalions began to stall things were not looking too rosy. The Grenadier brigade advancing on their flank through Kechnor village and the oak wood were making better progress.

Popping out of the oak wood the grenadiers launched a charge against the gun battery. They managed to sweep through that and a supporting battalion things were starting to look a bit better.

The assault began to gain some real momentum as the recovering brigade swung round to support the grenadiers assault. This was all getting to look to much like how the real battle went and the hurrying reinforcements from the Russian right flank really added to the feel. 

As the Russians desperately tried to shore up their centre the Prussains were trying to press home their advantage. Unfortunately as with most big games time was against us reaching a conclusion. The Russian position was grave but reserves were at hand. The Prussians had the advantage but had no reserves at hand to seal their success.