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!