Sunday, 9 October 2011

Engagement at Villa Daxa

This was a fictitious engagement set during the Peninsular war in the summer of 1813. We used blackpowder rules with a couple of amendments. The premise was that the two sides had been sparing in the local but things had settled down and the troops had been spread out a among the local villages. The French had learned that a Brigade of British troops were quartered in the small hamlet of villa Daxa in a slightly exposed position. A French division under the command of General Villatte was ordered to take the village.
Myself and Bart commanded the French while Dax gave his British and outing. The British started with a Brigade in the village and promise of support. The French arrived down the two roads approaching the town  I had Pacthod's brigade-27th legere and the 64th linge. Beaumont's light cavalry Brigade - 2nd Hussars and the 5th Chasseurs. Barts had Puthoc's Brigade - 94th and 95th linge, arriving on the road behind the river. Delebele's Brigade - 5th and 16th Dragoons, was in reserve.

The plan was simple, I would launch a few pinning attacks on the village while Bart flanked the village for the main assault. The first turn saw the some rapid advances but a lot of nothing as troops refused to move. Bart's first problem was a small farm defended by a Militia battalion. Some poor command dice reduce the attack to a crawl as he tried to get into position. The lead Battalions mangaed to get themselves disordered by some lively musketry from the farm.

Meanwhile I had raced up two guns to firing positions by the village. Myself and Dax have had previous with village fights, I had given him a bit of a bloody nose at a Vittoria re-fight last year. Now the positions were reversed and he was looking to do the same to me.

Assaulting a village under Blackpowder is a real challenge, you need to combine artillery with massed infantry assaults and keep a reserve. Having played Blackpowder a few times it would seem to me to be a game of reserves. The influence of fresh troops can be decisive as it is very easy for troops to become quite worn with out doing very much.

Back to the action, the French light cavalry brigade pushed forward to engage some light Dragoons lurking behind a wood. In the ensuing melee the 2nd Hussars were driven back and nearly off the board by the light dragoons. This side of the table then settled down with a string of failed command rolls for both sides.

My guns battering of the village was taking its toll even though Dax had cycled his battalions they had both taken a pasting. I prepared for an assault.

Things were not going so well for Bart on the other flank, his lead infantry kept getting pinned down by the militia battalion. In response he swept two battalions round in a wide move round the rear. As he prepared to swing in on the rear of the farm, a thin red crescent of Hairy Highlanders formed around them. The British reserves had arrived and on some amazing command dice. In the ensuing two rounds of fire both battalions were wiped out. This threat to the flank change our priorities some what and a new plan of a delaying action by Bart while I launched a full blooded directed assault on the front of the village. I love it when plans fall apart.

Things went from bad to worse, a quick assault on the village was what was required but could I get those command rolls, no is the short answer. 2 turns of milling about in front of the village was about all my command was capable of. The Gunners were performing heroics on the flank as they kept up the fire while under an intense fusillade from the village and a supporting battalion.

Bart had managed to stabilise his flank, in quick succession he captured the farm and then dished out some pain to the Hairy Highlanders. The capture of the farm gave new impetus to the French attacks or lack of and finally the dice said we could advance. In a couple of rounds of fighting the 27th Legere drove the British out of the front of the village. The game was poised on a knifes edge and unfortunately we had to call it a day.

The game was declared a draw. The British would probably need more infantry to retake what they had lost but with a bit of re-jigging of the line they should be able to put in place enough reserves to hold the remainder of the village, assuming the French did not get lucky with a quick assault. For the French only a rapid assault would have a chance in the short term otherwise they too would need more infantry and guns to launch a deliberate assault. So ADCs were despatched to the rear and the weary commanders retired to the local taverna to discuss the days events.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Sept Vents, Operation Bluecoat 1944

 Operation Bluecoat was another British attempt to break the deadlock along the Normandy front. The Americas had launch operation Cobra to the south east and the British were pushing up to put more pressure on the German line. Our game is based on the assault on the village of Sept Vents at the start of Bluecoat.
Von Dax and myself were doing our best with the 'orrible hun, while the doughty British were commanded by Major 'Jimbo' Loutitt and Corporal 'Old Soak' Hodge. The Germans deployed hidden with a large lump of nazi fiendishness, carefully placing their mines and machine guns.

So to the tale, after a long round of tea drinking, discussing the weather and the finer points of middle and leg, our British commanders got the troops rolling. Major Loutitt, obsessed with maintaining the proper formation of an echeloned attack, could be heard over the radio waves telling anyone who would listen. Corporal Hodge did not looked too interested busy as he was checking the beer in his knapsack.
The lead scouts, on the left of the British advance spotted some fresh faced Nazis in the next field. After arranging his troops into some kind of thin brown line, a mass of fire pored forth pinning half of the Nazis. The remainder opened up and then legged it back to the next field, deserting their pinned comrades. Major Loutitt leapt over the hedge followed by the rest of the company, 'Take that sausage eater!' drifted back over the hedge rows. The 8 or so Hitler youth were massacred in the bottom of their scrapes as the major leapt about shouting obscenities, empting his Webley.

Back to his old theme, the Major halted his company in the ex-Nazi positions to get his echelon back into shape. He had however fallen into a feindish Nazi trap, the blighters had pre registered their artillery on their hastely vacated positions. Resting his boot on the blond locks of the master race, Major Loutitt looked rather shocked with the whine of the approaching shells. Von Dax could be observed rubbing his hands with glee as the whole British company was bracketed, the Majors use of obscenities reach new levels.

As the Major's company was grovelling in the dirt trying to escape the fiendish Nazi trap, Corporal Hodges lot pushed forward. The more professional approach was paying off as a bit of spotting followed by fire and movement gained ground. True to form, more fiendishness was in store and a hidden MG put a staccatoed end to proceddings. The Corporal watched in horror as the devilish Hun pinned his mates in an open field. Fortunately a British tank boy was on hand and soon put paid to the MG's fun and the advance pushed up to the hedge by the sunken road.

After a brief pause behind the hedge Corporal Hodge and his men vaulted over the hedge and straight into a minefield. It would seem however that the German mines were faulty, probably manufactured in some French factory, and the British troops raced through with no casualties. A burst of Spandau fire and the sound of breaking glass brought disaster to Corporal Hodge, his precious beer was gone. Fighting mad, he stormed the Nazis position, which turned out to contain a full platoon, in a bloody encounter the corporal bayoneted every Nazi he could get his hands on. The remainder broke and ran leaving the British holding the position. VC all round was the cry, at which point the battle drew to a close.

While the Germans were not beaten the momentum was most definitely with the British. It was a good fun game with Corporal Hodges charge at the end being the highlight.

Bridge at Villa Fatta

The premiss for this scenario was that a small force of British had secured a bridgehead over a secondary river crossing. The French were racing to contain the bridgehead and then to eliminate it while british reinforcements rushed to secure and expand the crossing. The French were commanded by myself and Bart, while Angus had the British. We were using General de Brigade 3 which was a bit of a change.

The British force consisted of 5x32 man battalions of infantry 1 regiment of cavalry and a battery of guns. The French had 6x24 man battalions of Infantry 1 regiment of cavalry and a battery of guns. The British placed 2 battalions of Infantry over the river with some skirmishers with the rest arriving as reinforcements. The French arrived with 3 battalions and the guns directly ahead of the bridgehead and 3 battalions and the cavalry on the flank.

The game got under way with the French making a general advance towards the British positions. Due to an inordinate amount of whining from the British side about it being an unfair that the French got all their troops on the table, the British were allowed to receive their reinforcements immediately. This was followed by the artillery being fortuitously at the front of the column. Only bad dice on Angus's part stop this game turning into a farce.

The fortuitous artillery wheeled off the road and went straight up the hill behind the town there was a bit of whining that they would not reach the position in time and this was all a monstrous plot until it was pointed out they could move twice as fast at that distance from the enemy. The British cavalry trotting behind the artillery had poured over the bridge and were now moving round onto the flank.

The French began their assault on the bridgehead from the front after shaking out into line. The flanking attack was now flanked in turn by the British artillery on the hill, some bad rolls from the guns saved the French from too much pain but the attack was already beginning to fragment.

With British reinforcements pouring over the bridge
the French were going to have to do something very quickly. As they began to develop the attack on the orchard at the side of the bridge to try and flank the British line. The initial fighting in the orchard was quick as my skirmishers chased off the opposite numbers. The back of the orchard however was filling up with British infantry.
The British cavalry debouched form the orchard and as they formed up the french flank battalion formed square. They executed a sharp charge but were driven off. The French Cavalry swept round the square and charge home but were soundly thrashed and driven backwards.

At this point a veil was drawn over proceedings as time had run out.

I did not like some of the changes made to General de Brigade 3, while keeping the bean counting element with calculating each 10% casualties, the firing has been toned down. This makes units incredibly difficult to break down, with the rules being generally quite slow we are never going to get to a resolution on a club night. Artillery has also has become rather ineffective batteries seem to hand out one casualty a turn on average. The melee still has some strange casualty resolution with it calculated by number of figures, infantry squares will always take casualties from cavalry.

On a separate note - I like to play games that are not straight up points fights and this requires some form of scenario and some umpiring decisions. My personal feeling is that a scenario should flow like a story, with judgements being made to speed up or slow down the arrival of reinforcements. While some players will put up with their lot and try to make a fist of the situation, others will whine and moan that it is all so unfair.

Whine over.