It was a dark and stormy night … well OK, it was dark, all nights are generally dark in this neck of the woods, and it was raining, some of the time. Well, raining really for just the most inconvenient time.
I finished a late afternoon coffee meeting down-town then jumped into a number 700 bus (I almost missed the bus as I was sitting in the bus-stop reading Jack Campbell’s The Lost Stars – Perilous Shield, on my phone. The driver nicely waited for me making the last minute dash for the bus door with a smile on his face. I boarded and settled in to the one hour bus trip.
The view out the window obstructed by condensation, so it wasn’t raining. It started raining. I checked, it wasn’t raining at the Diary Farm so no problem (I did not have an umbrella with me). As we approached the bus-stop before Diary Farm Road the rain started again. I alighted and waited in the bus shelter the required 20 minutes for the rain shower to pass. It passed. I started walking. At exactly the half way point between the bus shelter and Anthony’s place, the rain started again. I got soaked. The start of this battle report then was written by the shirtless British commander in the wet trousers 1!
It was time again. The last game we had was back on 5 November 2013. My back hack from Dr Bloodaxe 2 as well as a business trip and some other family issues had conspired to keep the protagonists apart until last night. The British had been reinforced since the last battle with another battalion of Highlanders. The British were also handicapped with a wet general. We started.
As the British commander and having less cavalry than the French, I was out-scouted and deployed first. I had a plan. Anchor flanks on the river and the farm and let the French wash over me, destroying them as they came. To that end I deployed the Light Division around the river to keep the French honest there, the Portuguese Division on the Left where they could anchor on the farm, the British and Highland Divisions were in the centre with the Light and Heavy Cavalry Brigades held in reserve. Two British batteries were also deployed in the line.
There were a lot of French. They were in front of the British.
As with the last battle, the British plan was to let the French run onto the British bayonets and then riposte! I did not expect the French to also run onto the batteries but had hoped that the positioning of the two batteries would cause the French to funnel their attack through the centre where a wood would nicely break their formations up.
The French ran into one of the batteries! It was not pretty.
On the British right, the commander of the Light Division seems to have been out on the town with the lads the night before and deployed them where their only option of evading way from the French who got to close was to swim away. This was countered however by the rashness of the French Light Cavalry commander sending his forces into a Balaclava like charge at some British guns, supported by Portuguese battalions.
In the centre, the Old Guard advanced against some stiff volleys from the British Line, eventually closing with the line and forcing them back. The Highlanders were handled roughly by the French Grand(ish) Battery however managed to weather than storm and were ready to commence the push onto the left flank of the French centre, the Portuguese being ready to do the same on the French right.
The French commander, seeing that his infantry had somehow managed to get themselves caught en masse in the centre decided at this point to commence withdrawing his forces from their current positions whilst he still had an advantage over the British right and whilst the Portuguese had a long march to close with the French right.
This game was also played under the Rank and File rules. As with the last, there were a number of odd things that turned up that I will really get around to discussing in a separate post but overall, a quick game. I think we are thinking of trying FoG Napoleonics next in our question for a set of Wargame Rules that does, as Anthony described it, have “war” and “game” in the same font size or a font size that has “war” a lilttle larger than “game”. Rank and File seems to put the emphasis on the “game” part of “wargame”. Pizza, Beer, and a Wargame – could there be a better way to spend a rainy Thursday evening?
The British Deploy
The French Deploy
The view from the French lines
The view from the British Lines
The French Light Horse charge the guns – the guns and infantry are about to fire and “hemimate” the French (if decimate is take one in ten, hemimate is take one in two)
What’s left of the French Light Horse charge
The Light Division advances … perhaps rather stupidly
The French breakthrough on the British Right, ready to be met by the British Heavy Cavalry
The French start their withdrawal – it is all over bar the singing of “God save the King!”
1. Perhaps the most interesting comments were when I sent a selfie to the lady ‘erself at the start of the game after she asked if I had got to the game OK and was I having fun? The selfie was all I replied with and her immediate reply to that was “Where r u?” 🙂
Then there was Anthony taking photographs and saying “I need to be careful not to get a topless Thomo in shot”. My comment back was “don’t worry about that, if anyone asks, just tell them we were playing strip wargames!”
2. “The back hack from doctor Bloodaxe” has a degree of assonance that I did not notice when I first wrote it however it has a definite musical quality to it … unlike Dr Bloodaxe’s skills with a sharp object and my back!