Friday 30 August 2013

Une position magnifique? Non.

Nigel set up a 28mm Franco-Prussian War battle at the Club this week, again using Black Powder. The French were deployed on the table with a brigade in advanced positions holding woods on either flank with a third brigade holding a village in the centre. Two batteries of guns and mitrailleuse supported the centre while a brigade of cavalry lurked behind a wood in the centre.

(Below: various views of the French 'Position Magnifique')
The Prussian were supposed to march onto the table, throwing randomly for each brigade to see which road each would enter on. Over the half of them ended up entering the road facing the French right while the other two were due to enter one  in the centre and the other against the French left. Well that was the plan. Paul used his C in C to try and get all his troops on table and managed a mere one move. This meant that as the other Prussians were too far away the Prussian turn was over as the C in C is the last commander to give orders. Paul still managed to cause some casualties on the French holding the wood and disordered a regiment in a cornfield.
(The Prussians arrive....eventually)

The French didn't need to do much in their turn except for throwing a regiment out onto a hill on the far right flank. Their command throws were quite bad anyway. They did manage to disorder and shake a Bavarian regiment with long range Mitrailleuse fire which was fun. At the end of the turn we threw for reinforcements and on a score of a 6 were destined to enter on the left flank in the following move.
(French cavalry reserve lurking out of sight)
Turn 2 and the Prussian right and centre failed their command rolls so were unable to enter the table. The Prussian left boldly charged the Frenchmen the hill and in the woods. The latter withdrew but the other regiment failed miserably with their closing fire and while disordering both units charging them, failed to cause enough damage to stop them. However, they survived the melee and subsequent break test. In the centre the cavalry moved pver to the roght flank and a Turco battalion blundered and stopped all movement. The reserves made a very slow entrance onto the table thanks to my usual poor dice throwing. The mitrailleuse missed and there wasn't much else for the French to shoot at. In the French melee turn their regiment lost the fight and broke.

Turn 3 saw the Baden brigade enter the tale in the Prussian centre and promptly do a right turn and march off to the right flank. On the right the final brigade made it onto the table and advanced towards the woods, occupied by Turcos and Chasseurs a Pied.
(Above: French infantry, artillery and mitrailleuse batteries in support, on the left flank)
 (Above: The Baden brigade make their entry. Below: French reinforcements slowly arrive on their left flank)

(The Prussians about to get stuck in and attack the Tirailleur Algeriens holding the French left)

Sadly, that was when I had to leave I remembered I'd left the iron on in my Metz apartment. In truth I  I had a very early start on Friday so hopefully someone can fill in the detail and report the outcome of the battle in the comments section of this entry. Figures are all Foundry from the collections of Nigel and Conrad.

Sunday 25 August 2013

More Thirty Years War

This week John came up for a game as usual but I also invited Conrad Cairns as he wanted to get the hang of Warlord's Pike and Shotte rules somewhere quieter than at the usual Thursday mayhem at the Durham club.
Rather than just fill the table, I pointed up a Swedish force and then matched it with the Imperial army. The Swedes had the following units brigaded as shown:
2 x cuirassiers
4 x Swedish Horse with 2 commanded shot attached
2 x Swedish Horse and 2 x Finnish horse with 2 commanded shot attached
2 x Saxon Regts. (In a bde of 4 shot, 2 pike and 2 lt guns)
2 x Swedish regiments in the Blue bde (2 x pike and 6 shot plus 2 lt guns)
1 x Swedish bde ( yellow rgt with 1 pike and 3shot, 1 commanded shot and 1 lt gun)

The imperial army fielded quite a few more troops, as follows, commanded by Tilly

Bde 1: 2 x cuirassiers and 3 x harquebusiers
Bde 2: 2 x cuirassiers and 3 x Harquesbusiers
Bde 3: 2 x cuirassiers and 2 x harquebusiers
Infantry: 6 regiments each of 1 x pike and 2 shot in three brigades
2 x units of Croat light cavalry
Battery of 2 heavy guns

There were 4 objectives for each side to fight for, with one of these being randomly chosen in secret as the primary objective. These were the farm, containing prisoners to be rescued, the church containing plate and treasure to be looted, the graveyard with a buried pay chest, and the shrine, containing some secret papers. Unbeknown to each other the Swedes' prime objective was the farm, the Imperialists the shrine.

Both armies deployed traditionally, with horse on the wings and the foot in the centre.  My right wing looked like it was going to struggle as I had 4 horse and 2 cuirassiers facing 4 cuirassiers, 5 harquebusiers and 1 unit of Croats. My rather brittle Saxons were also on the right/centre facing imperial dragoons, a brigade of foot and the imperial heavy guns. The excellent 'Swedish' foot were strung out thinly along the centre facing 4 regiments of imperial foot, with my last brigade of horse, which included the Finns, on the left facing cuirassiers, harquebusiers and Croats. My saving grace was the commanded shot attached to each of the brigades of horse. My dragoons were also on my left ready to try and occupy the farmhouse and secure our main objective as quickly as possible.

The Imperialist got to go first and made slow progress as they threw some poor command dice, especially John's centre brigade. Conrad's left wing did get to move and the dragoons made for the hedge line and the shrine.

(Above: cavalry clash on the Swedish right. Below: "The push is coming here")
So, continuing with the Imperial left, his horse swept forward but were unable to get any charges in. I. Used my commanded shot to pepper his leading u it's and drove one off, then charged. I can't remember the detail of the combat, but essentially, my horse were almost always bested in combat but not broken, by the Imperial cuirassiers, and in what turned out to be a furious series of charge, more often than not a failed one that didn't contact their target, and counter charge, the Swedes finally wore the Imperialists down even though my cuirassiers failed to make any forward move, ending in a blunder. Eventually, Conrad's first brigade of horse was put out of the fight as over half it's units were shaken.

(Plucky Saxons)
In the centre I moved the Yellow brigade up slowly, while the 'White' regiment occupied the graveyard. The 'Blue' regiment moved up level with them and entered into a firefight with the Imperialists to their front, disordering their pikes thus preventing them from charging. The 'Blue' regiment also enfiladed one of Conrad's Imperial pike blocks and with a combination of point blank artillery fire and musketry forced them back shaken. Conrad's other regiment charged the Saxons and almost beat them in the melee, but in the second round they failed their break test and ran. The shot belonging to this brigade had already taken some losses and one unit was broken. Other units of this brigade were also shaken so this brigade became ineffective and unable to take any further offensive action. My leading Saxon regiment was pretty beaten up though.

(From behind the Imperial battery and Swedish Yellow regt)
Meanwhile, John's regiments had occupied the church and were trading fire with my musketeers in the graveyard and with the 'Yellow' regiment. nobody was going to give any ground around the church or graveyard so John charged my line, hitting the Swedish Household Company (the commanded shot in the Yellow Brigade, with a pike block. Amazingly the musketeers won the first round of combat having failed to do much damage with closing fire. In the following round they broke the Imperial pikes and that was more or less where we left it in the centre.

(Imperial horse on the Swedish left and dragoons occupying the farm)

(Finns and commanded shot battle with Imperial cuirassiers)
On the Swedish left my dragoons had raced forward to occupy the farmhouse and were taking pot shots at John's imperial foot on one side and whatever horse strayed too close on the other, causing the odd casualty. Our opposing wings of horse closed and as usual my Swedish and Finnish horse were no match for the Imperial cuirassiers. Again, no units were broken, just forced to retreat. What saved the |Swedes on this flank were the commanded shot who kept knocking the odd casualty off the Imperial cuirassiers and harquebusiers, and more importantly, disordering them. Even when charged they held their own thanks to some very good dice rolling on my part. Eventually, after a hard slog and countless charges, counter charges and melees, the Imperial brigade became shaken. With half the Imperial army now shaken the army was broken. We decided to call it a day as all I had to do now was advance and the enemy would be forced to retire before me.
Everyone enjoyed the battle as it was quite a close game notwithstanding the final outcome. I'm not sure the points system is quite right, but its only intended as a guide anyway. What saved the Swedes was their firepower, especially the commanded shot. The imperialists could not stand face-to-face against a Swedish regiment as they would be outshot every time: 2 units of shot against 3 of shot and a light gun. The Imperial horse was superior on the day whenever it got into contact but all too often they failed to charge, didn't make it into contact, were disordered by the commanded shot or, unable to counter charge, were held up or occasionally pushed back. On reflection I should have had more open terrain, but I don't like bare battlefields. Next time.
"Ineffective unit of the day" was the Imperial battery which failed to score a single hit the entire battle.

Friday 23 August 2013

My 100th post. 1866 and all that: The re-match. The empire Strikes Back

Or was it just a replay of last week's debacle? Well, surprise surprise, as it turns out it was a totally different result.

[Austrian cavalry en route to the battle]
We fought this at the club on Thursday evening. The terrain was changed from last week so it was slightly less open and there were areas of dead ground. The Prussians had the same forces but the Austrians had been short changed last week in terms of corps reserve artillery so were given four
guns instead of last week's two.

I had a plan which the others (Nigel Conrad and John) were happy to go with. Essentially one brigade ( four btns of infsntry, one btn of mager and a gun) and the cavalry (one regt eachof hussars and cuirassiers) would operate on the left flank and gloriously sacrifice themselves holding down whatever Prussians were deployed on that flank or left of centre. Meanwhile the reserve artillery
would push forward and occupy the prominent hill in the right/centre of the table, the remaining three brigades of Austrians totalling 13 btns and 3 guns would form into storm columns and assault the Prussians with the bayonet, with a bit of softening up by the artillery massed battery.

[Conrad's private war]

Move one gave me a feeling of déjà vu as Conrad's brigade failed its command role. The Prussians had deployed a brigade of infantry right up to within a foot of the Austrian base line occupying a village and a wood, supported by uhlans and dragoons. A lone battery of two guns was deployed further back on the edge of a wood but had little to shoot at the entire game. Conrad's troops entered the game the following move and entered into a furious and bloody and very private fight with the Prussians. They stormed forward and took some heavy and effective fire from the Prussians in the wood. The Prussian cavalry charged and forced one btn into square. The uhlans charged next move and broke another disordered square, made a sweeping advance and smashed into the flank of another Austrian btn, who also broke, taking a gun with them in the process. A third Austrian btn was locked in melee with Prussians and the Austrian cavalry were exceptionally inept as they failed all their command roles and just sat there looking pretty. Conrad had done well in pinning down half the Prussian army by a series of glorious sacrificial charges into the face of needle guns, and hopeless  melees. Job done.

[Austrian objective and massed battery]
Over on our part of the battlefield Nigel made a slow entry onto the table, while John and I threw good command dice and were able to make three moves towards the Prussians holding the village. By the end of turn two the reserve artillery had deployed on the hill and in the next turn started pounding the Prussians to great effect. Nigel caught us up then as well, Just in time for John to charge the Prussian line. He survived the closing fire and hit a btn of jagers, breaking them in melee. (Same btn of jagers who ran away last week!). He then hit another btn of newly arrived reinforcements and drove them back as well. My brigade charged more of the reinforcements and again survived the closing fire, this time without significant losses. Meanwhile, the grand battery hammered a Prussian btn which became shaken. This resulted in the entire original brigade becoming  shaken and a spent force as half it's units were shaken or broken. Nigel's brigade charged in and drove off another btn and two guns, while my grand battery turned its attention to another unit and gave it a damned good thrashing!

At this point the Prussians had one spent brigade destroyed or retreating off the table, with another in the process of being driven back thanks to weight of numbers and the effects of the massed artillery fire. They conceded the game on that basis even though they technically held onto the two villages which were the objectives of the game.

I enjoyed the game as my plan actually worked. We weathered the needle guns largely due to weight of numbers and the save of 3+ for Austrians in attack column. Being able to re-roll one D from missed artillery fire also helped. I think we were all quite surprised that the Austrian actually won but if it was a foregone conclusion what would be the fun in that? And they did beat the Prussians at Trautenau and have some limited local success at Konigratz so not unrealistic.

 [Prussian collapse and despondent Prussian commanders before departing for the pub]

Next week Franco-Prussian War at the club. Thirty Years War at my house on Friday so watch this space. as this is my 100th post a big thanks to my followers and for all the positive comments received, both on and off line.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Another 17th C Swedish v Polish encounter

The guys came up on Sunday to play a Swedes v Poles game using Pike and Shotte. The scenario required the retreating Swedes to enter the battlefield across two bridges and capture the hills overlooking the river and crossing points, thus enabling the bulk of their army and its baggage train to continue their withdrawal into the relative safety of Livonia. We started the game with some units on table. The Swedes had a brigade of horse (including some commanded shot) and two units of dragoons on table, but when we threw to see where they had deployed, both had entered the table over the same bridge, leaving half of the battlefield potentially under the control of the Poles. The Poles were allowed a 'brigade' of Cossacks and Tartars, and a brigade of mercenary German infantry, supported by two heavy guns. The Poles threw well for the Cossacks' initial deployment and were able to send a screen of cavalry out all along the centreline of the table. The Germans were a bit slower but were at least on the table.

All reinforcements were to enter the game from randomly determined points, the Swedes across the bridges and Poles from any of the four roads entering the battlefield area. We then threw to see who was fighting who. John and I got the Swedes. Rob and Paul were very pleased to get the Poles as they were keen to play with the Polish Winged Hussars. As usual I will describe the action in each sector of the battlefield through to its conclusion, at least as well as I can remember it!
(Above: German mercenaries and artillery covered by Cossacks. Below: Swedish Blue brigade harried by Cossacks as they advance on the Polish centre)
Above: Swedish Yellow brigade crossing the bridge of boats. Below: German and Polish infantry)
(Above: Pancerni and Cossacks rooted to the spot thanks to some poor command rolls from Rob. Below: Swedish cuirassiers and commanded shot)
The Swedish left got off to a slow start, as in turn 2 when they should have arrived, the veteran Blue brigade failed its command roll so didn't  get onto the table until the following move, when they promptly blundered and took possession of the blunder dung heap for most of the rest of the game.  In the meantime the Poles were having trouble of their own as the Germans made slow progress and their planned reinforcement, a cavalry brigade of Hussars, Pancerni and Cossacks failed their command role and remained off table. Rob's Cossacks were taking pot shots at the Swedish deploying from the bridge and caused some damage but the Swedish Blue brigade eventually shook itself out into a line and began to move slowly forward, driving the Cossacks off and breaking/shaking enough squadrons to make the entire brigade shaken thanks to some excellent shooting by my commanded shot and Scots musketeers in the centre. The Polish cavalry eventually made it onto the table, with the Hussars heading for the centre while the Pancerni and Cossacks rode off to the Polish right flank where they stayed for the remainder of the battle, as by this time they were faced by two squadrons of Swedish cuirassiers, some commanded shot and elements of the 'Blue' brigade. The final Polish reinforcements (Haiduks, Krackow militia and a sledge gun) eventually arrived (more dud command throws) and were pushed along the road to plug the gap about to appear with the disappearance of the Germans.
(Above: Rob's Hussars riding for the centre of the line. Below: Swedes on the move)

(With the disappearance of the Germans the Polish Haiduk infantry and Krackow militia are now the front line!!!)
In the centre, the Poles' German mercenaries deployed in two blocks, with their heavy guns taking up a position on a prominent hill between them. Cossacks advanced and skirmished with the Swedish dragoons and and the 'Scots' brigade. They had some success by causing disorder on one unit of dragoons and elements of the Scots but the other dragoons managed to deploy into the woods in the centre of the table. The 'Blue' brigade was in the meantime moving towards the Polish line although they were taking heavy casualties from the artillery positioned in the centre. They were winning the fire fight with the German mercenary regiment. The German pikes charged one of the Swedish musket wings but were amazingly held off while the Swedish pike charged home and drove off some German shot. With what was going on in the further along the line this resulted in the German brigade being broken as their other regiment had been engaged in heavy fighting with the Scots brigade, loosing their commander in the process. Meanwhile the Swedish 'Yellow' brigade had entered the table and was moving in support of my hard-pressed Scots. Rob launched his Winged Hussars at my line and rode over a gun and smashed a unit of shot, but were then caught between the fire of three units of Swedish shot and disordered. we had some trouble causing any actual losses on the Hussars with their save of 3+ but this unit at least was out of the action as Rob kept failing his elite status role to remove the disorder at the start of his move. Another of Rob's Hussar squadrons charged the front of the Swedish Lifeguard company but although they survived the closing fire were unable to win the melee so bounced. Amazing dice throwing all round!
(Above: Swedish right, with the Scots brigade engaging Cossacks to their front, supported by dragoons. The Swedish horse are about to be ordered over to the far right flank due to the appearance of rather a lot of Polish cavalry)
(Above: Paul's Hussars, Pancerni and Cossacks arrive, but not very swiftly and clash with the Swedish and Finnish horse on the far right)
On the right, my brigade of horse dropped their commanded shot along the road and galloped round the windmill towards the Polish table edge and halted between the mill and a wood ready to engage any Poles entering the table on the road. They didn't have to wait long well they waited longer than they needed to as Paul threw some bad command dice and was slow in getting his cavalry onto the table). One of my squadrons of horse charged the lead Winged Hussar unit and fell short, only to be charged by their intended target in the next move. As expected, my horse were crushed by the infinitely superior Hussars and sent packing. What followed was a desperate delaying action by my cavalry and commanded shot until my other brigade of horse, which had just crossed the bridge, could come up in support. My first brigade of horse was slowly worn down by the Poles, to the point where only one squadron remained and it was shaken, a spent force. Thankfully, and much to the consternation of Paul, his command throws were dreadful all day, so it took him several moves to get within charge reach of my second brigade of horse, now positioned on one of the hills on the extreme right flank of the army.

(Swedish reserve horse waiting for the feared Polish charge that never came!)
Paul was desperate to get his Hussars to charge so we agreed to play another move. He had positioned his cavalry perfectly. He threw his command dice. DOUBLE SIX!!!!!! What a time to blunder as his charge would have been almost impossible to stop and should have won the game for the Poles. As it was, his entire wing of cavalry was unable to move. The Swedish horse breathed a collective sigh of relief.

At that point we called it a day. The Swedish right had just about held on, thanks to Paul's dreadful command roles. In the centre the German mercenaries were in retreat, the guns were in disorder and the cavalry in no position to face off the Yellow and Blue brigades. On the left, the Poles were unable to get the drop on the Swedish cuirassiers who were content to sit tight on top of their hill.

Verdict: An excellent game enjoyed by all and a Swedish victory, just. Once the Swedes had their infantry deployed the Poles found it hard to counter them, especially their firepower, although in the early stages their Hussars proved to be more than a match for even the best Swedish and Finnish horse. Thanks to Rob, John and Paul for coming up and sorry about the sharp pikes. Hope you didn't loose too much blood Rob! Sorry if some of the photos are a bit blurred but that was due to the ground shaking as thousands of Polish cavalry thundered onto the battlefield, and my poor photo skills).