This week I got myself utterly hammered, my worst defeat ever, totally inept generalship and some crappy dice rolling compared to Robbie's unusually good luck with his.
Yes, this week we tried out the new Impetus Baroque rules for my French-Dutch War collection. I have never played Impetus before so it was Robbie v me, with John umpiring. I organised the sides the previous evening, which were just a little too imbalanced as it turns out. The French (Robbie) had 5 regiments of horse in 2 brigades, and 14 battalions of foot (in 3 brigades), 2 light guns and a heavy gun. The Dutch (me) had 6 regiments of horse in 2 brigades, 10 battalions of foot in 2 brigades, 2 light guns and 2 heavy guns. When we threw for our generals' ability, mine were almost all poor, while Robbie's were generally average or better.
Deployment is very important in Impetus as I was to find out. We threw for deployment brigade by brigade and in what was to be the start of a bad day of dice rolling, all of mine had to be placed before Robbie put any of his on the table. I played safe and deployed with a brigade of horse on each flank and the infantry in the centre while the French put all their horse facing my right and refused their right flank, cramming all their foot into the centre.
The turn sequence is quite different to anything I've played before but I got the hang of it about half way through the game, by which time I was beyond saving. My cavalry on the left made very slow progress advancing towards the enemy and my left hand infantry brigade got bottled up between the town and an orchard, as manoeuvrability is not as flexible as in other rules such as Pike and Shot. My other infantry brigade tried to advance up the hill towards the French but took heavy losses in the process. My right flank horse clashed with Robbies's. Although I held my own and even drove one regiment back my victorious unit was hit in the flank and destroyed. Both my other regiments suffered badly in melee and were broken, leaving my flank wide open. Robbie tried to roll up my flank while pushing forward with the foot in his centre. My troops were simply overwhelmed. On my left the infantry were making no progress whatsoever and a last minute charge by my horse ground to a halt after destroying a battery if artillery and following up into a French battalion behind a hedge.
So there you have it. I have never been so comprehensively beaten, ever. My deployment was critical and I bungled it badly. Bad dice throws and bring outnumbered didn't help either of course. However, I have certainly got the hang of the rules and I think I have grasped how they work, and I guess that the best way to learn a new set of rules is to be given a masterclass in victory like I was. I look forward to another go with them soon, but not too soon as revenge is a dish best served cold.
Well, I have to say that I've had a really enjoyable if extremely tiring and probably (?) expensive day at Salute. I'm sure there will be loads of fellow bloggers posting their views of the event over the next day or so, or even already depending upon when I actually post this piece.
When we arrived at about 9:30 it was for me quite a long walk from the entrance of the Excel to the queuing hall. I had my walker, a wheeled Zimmer frame contraption with a seat and handy shopping bag, but it was still a struggle. That's OK as I'm used to it. What was excellent was that I'd been in communication with the organisers to check on facilities for disabled visitors, so when my wife and I arrived we were whisked off to a waiting area right at the head of the queue of what looked like a few thousand wargamers snaking several deep backwards and forwards across the hall. That meant that when the traps were raised so to speak I was about 14th or so into the event, although I was quickly overtaken in the final 10 metres! Brilliant. Once inside, my wife left me to it and took my iPad off to Costa for a quiet sit down so I was left to my own devices for a couple of hours while she did some on-line shopping.
By 10:30 I had collected all my pre-ordered stuff so was able to point myself towards some of my mates for a catch up chat. It was then time to check out the games. I have to say that even though a significant majority were sci-fi/steam punk/zombie/fantasy games (often very pretty and different, but not my thing, which is not to say that they are any less important to those gamers to whom that genre is their thing) that with a few notable exceptions I was mightily disappointed at the standard of games on show. So many were just so small, the 'boutique' type of game, many were dull, with what appeared to be little or no effort put into them. For example, I'd been looking forward to seeing the 15mm refight of Konigratz 1866 (150th anniversary this year) but the game was just unimpressive, wholly unimpressive actually for a battle that involved several hundred thousand men, with less than mediocre terrain. Likewise, the 28mm refight of the Battle of Kunserdorf looked promising when I first saw it at about 10:30, but when I saw it at 3.00pm hardly anything had moved! Actually, my version of Kunersdorf was just as good (better even) although the figures were very nicely painted, but it was let down badly by lack of action, lack of info, average terrain and lack of people playing and available to chat. Any of the games that me and the guys put on at our homes or at shows in the NE past and present were better than most of what was on offer (In my opinion).
The only games to really stood out, for me at least, were Bill Gaskins gorgeous, nay, stunning 28mm Seven Years War game, Ian Smith and friends' equally stunning 40mm Spanish Peninsular War Napoleonic and the 20mm Winter War pitting Russians against Finns. The siege of Bristol was also pretty good, as was a big Vietnam game. I might have missed some to be fair. Apparently Bill Gaskin's game failed to win the Best Game Award, which is a travesty IMHO, but then again, had it been filled with Steampunk Prussian cuirassiers and a Robot Frederick the Great it may have had a better chance!
Overall verdict. Excellent (groan) with room for improvement where the games are concerned. And very big and well organised. As for my swag I had a nice box of Eureka 28mm SYW Saxons, CS Grant's Refighting History vol2 and his revamped Marburian book, an excellent and very large book from the Pike and Shot society covering Hesse and other minor German states in the late 17th century, a few mdf bases off Warbases, and a few odds and ends. A respectable haul indeed.
The queue at 09:30
Bill Gaskin's SYW
This and the next 3 pics are of Ian Smith and friends' 40mm Napoleonic Peninsular War game. Stunning!
Above and below, Kunsersdorf in 28mm. Disappointing.
40mm British Napoleonic Light Dragoons
Russo-Finish War 1939....lovely
Above/below, the siege of Bristol
Somewhere in Vietnam
The best thing for me about the day was meeting up with so many good friends and acquaintances from the war-games community, and the fact that I survived it and only ran three people over with my walker! I will return one day for sure.
And the kangaroo? Well, "can you tell what it is yet?" I had a pre-order to collect from Eureka. If you greeted them with the words "G'day" you were given a free 28mm kangaroo (I chose the one standing with the Joey peeking from its mothers pouch). I was sure I'd put it in my swag bag but can I find it? No. I had a really good vignette worked out as well. I've looked in me billy can and down me didgeree-do but I guess its hopped off to hide in some Billabong somewhere to suck down a few buckets of prawns and tubes of Fosters. Oh well. And a BIG BIG thank you to Katherine as well.
POSTSCRIPT: My boomerang never came back but Skippy did, hiding in the official Salute giveaway bag! I am well pleased.......
Looking forward very much to Saturday. I've planned out where to visit on my map of games and suppliers. I have some stuff (not much honest dear! Just Eureka SYW, Studios minis Sikh Wars Bengal Light Cavalry, books at Caliver) that's pre ordered to collect and although I deny it, my wife is adamant I'll bring more home than is on the list......like I need any more? Yes I do! Speaking of SWMBO Katherine is with me this weekend to help me get through it all physically. We were supposed to,be meeting her brother and wife for dinner on Saturday evening but I suspect I shall be knackered.
The hotel we're at is grossly over priced based on my long experience when working of the pleasures of living in hotels week in, week out.
Anyway, I am seriously pumped up for tomorrow and looking forward to meeting some of my mates as I wheel myself around the show running punters over (lol).
This week's game was on Saturday in order that Stockton John the Red could join us as since he's got a new job and he can no longer do weekday games. Robbie and John R came up as well and we had another highly enjoyable yet very tense game, with more than the usual levels of friendly teasing and 'banter'.
It was as the title of this post suggests another battle with my new French and Dutch armies from this incredibly colourful period. We threw dice to see who was paired with who and which armies we would take. The two Johns joined forces in command of the Dutch and their Spanish and Imperial allies, leaving Robbie and I with the French.
The scenario was simple enough. The French were covering a canal just off table and a nearby siege where the main army was trying to capture a Dutch-held fortress. They had to prevent the Dutch from leaving the table on the road in the centre of the French baseline and also hold 3 or more of the villages in order that they could be fortified to protect the canal, a vital lifeline to the troops involved in the siege. Destroying the Dutch field army would also be a good idea!
The Dutch had to destroy the French army, exit the table unopposed on the road in order to cut the supply lines and capture and hold the majority of the villages.
The armies were the same as last week except that the Spanish brigade were reinforced up to their full strength of five battalions, a battalion of the Dutch-Scots brigade was added as were a large regiment of Dutch horse and a large regiment of Imperial Cuirassiers. The French were merely reinforced by a single large Scottish (in English service) regiment of foot. (Charles II was allied with the French against the Dutch in this war, well until he concluded a separate peace treaty with the United Provinces which really pissed the French off! I'm not sure whether its at all accurate to have Scots regiments facing each other in both armies, but I like the idea.
We let the Dutch deploy on the table while Robbie and I retired to the living room with a sketch map to decided our deployment. I really should have been more careful when I drew the map as I made a bit of a mistake leading to some confusion and congestion when we put our troops on the table and found that the gap we thought existed on our left wasn't as wide as on the map, leaving our troops crushed up together, and the small gap in the centre was actually a very wide one, held thinly by one Swiss and two French battalions. Oh well, sack the cartographer! On to battle, and as usual I will let the pictures and a short commentary tell the sorry tale of the French defeat.
John the Red and Robbie survey their troops at the start of the battle.
My command, all the French horse and a brigade of four battalions squashed into what was supposed to be a much wider area!
Juan del Rosso commanded these fine Spanish troops.
A Scots regiment flanked by Swiss advance to the hedgerows.
The Dutch centre.
The Cuirassiers du Roi on our left wing
My infantry on the left flank
One of John's regiments quickly occupied one of the villages in the centre.
Robbie had sent the Gardes Francais over to support the right flank, lightly held by just two companies of dragoons, as Juan del Rosso had sent several of his battalions up the hill to take the village and wood. His dismounted dragoons were able to disperse the French dragoons and he occupied the village. He certainly sent too many troops onto the hill as this stripped the centre of a large body of men. He did see an opportunity and with a 'follow me' order hit the Gardes Francais in the flank with some Dutch horse. Unfortunately the cavalry became disordered during their charge while interpenetrating with some Spanish infantry so their charge was unsuccessful and they failed to break the stout Frenchmen.
The Dutch horse were bounced back in front of their infantry.
A hazy shot of our nemesis on the day, the Dutch Guard.
The Gardes Francais locked in battle with the Spaniards in the village. The French were forced to retreat and didn't make any further attempts on the town.
With nowhere to go on the left flank I moved all the horse into the centre.
Marshall Turenne in the centre as the opposing lines get closer.
The Gardes Francais in the thick of it again in the process of defeating a Spanish battalion that had attempted to charge them. The Spanish were crushed in the melee and forced to retreat in disorder.
This Dutch battalion blundered to the rear in move 1 and then spent almost the entire game lurking in this walled off enclosure as it repeatedly failed its command rolls.
It was a close thing with the Gardes Francais also in the running, but the 'man of the match' award goes to the Dutch Horse Guards. Passing a 'follow me' order they passed safely through their own infantry and hit the flank of a French infantry unit, forcing them to withdraw. They then followed up their charge and hit the same infantry again, this time breaking them. This put them right on the flank of my cavalry. Unable to charge and as I didn't want to risk failing a command roll I turned to face using the initiative phase with two squadrons of Cuirassiers du Roi. The third squadron of horse failed its command roll. Robbie turned one of his infantry to shoot the Dutch in the rear at close range and my horse pistoled them from the front. Result? Just a single unsaved hit and no disorder. The Dutch charged my horse. I lost the melee (just) so took a break test and threw a 3! Break! My supporting unit then had to test and they threw a 4 so they broke as well! The Dutch followed up their victory by hitting my remaining horse unit in the flank, breaking them at once. In two moves the Dutch had destroyed four French units!
The Dutch Horseguards then threw a blunder and had to move to their rear, putting them right behind my infantry on the left wing! Oh Bugger!!
A large regiment of Dutch horse in reserve.
Dutch troops assaulting the central French-held village, with rather a large gap in our centre.
The Dutch Guard engaged in a prolonged fire fight with Robbie's Scots and Swiss beyond the village.
Gaps are starting to appear in Robbie's line holding the centre/right.
Back over on my flank I had cleared the village of Dutchmen but those bloody Dutch Horseguards charged my immobile infantry; I'd yet again failed to get them to move or about face! The result was predictable shall we say. "Run away a lot"
Moving swiftly on, back on our right the Dutch horse supporting the Spanish charged the French frontally. That wasn't a good idea. Facing formed infantry with pikes doesn't work and they were repulsed shaken. Its a shame they weren't broken as it might have caused their supports to test as well.
Robbie tried to sweep the Dutch Guard away with a charge by his Swiss and Scots. The Scots were broken and routed, and the Swiss were forced to recoil.
At this point we threw in the towel as we'd lost half of our brigades broken or shaken. The Dutch had also ejected us from the village in the centre and repulsed our counter attacks. It was an ignominious yet rewarding and exciting game, so defeat wasn't too bitter a pill to swallow.
My new Imperial cuirassiers didn't see any action at all. Above and below are two shots of them lurking menacingly in support.
Also new to the table was this 'large' regiment of Scots in French service. They were subjected to a great deal of musketry and cannon fire throughout the game and were broken when attempting to drive off the Dutch Guard.
My new regiment from the Dutch Scots Brigade didn't even get to fire their muskets on their first outing.
The last newly finished large unit of Dutch horse also failed to see any action, although at the end of the game they were poised to crush some poor French regiment had we gone on another move.
Verdict. Yet another highly enjoyable day, a great game, good company, and a well earned victory for the Dutch. My ineptitude commanding the French horse continued so next time I really don't want to command ANY horse at all!!!!!
No game this coming week as its my birthday and as a present to myself I'm dragging my dearly beloved down to Salute for the weekend. I've not been since the 1980's at the Kensington(?) venue when we put a Mexican-American War game on, the Battle of Chapeltupec, in 15mm. Thats a long time ago although I no longer have the armies I know they are in the good care of my friend Conrad. After Salute, once I've recovered, we shall be trying out the new Impetus Baroque rules, although I'm quite happy with suitably adjusted Pike and Shotte for this period.