Napoleonic — Battle Five at the Gun Bar — Another Last for a While!

I noted back on 30 June 2014 that I was having the last battle at the Gun Bar for a while as I was taking up a new job and moving from Singapore. Well, as is the way of things in IT and Banking, that move was delayed a week, then another week, then another week and we are still sitting here.

So, it was off to the Gun Bar again, this time with plastic soldiers painted ready for Anthony to base (see previous posts here). To make the trek worthwhile, another Napoleonic game was organised with Général de Corps Anthony facing off against Major General Thomo the Lost again. This was also a special battle as again it was likely to be the last time I was going to be in the position to battle with Anthony, face to face, beer to beer, for some time to come as I up sticks and hopefully high-tail it out of Singapore.

The battlefield was laid out as I arrived, with the battle being taken from Stuart Asquith’s Programmed Wargame Scenarios. The scenario was the British were withdrawing in the Peninsula to the defence lines at Torres Vedras and a rearguard had been left to delay the French by holding a village and a bridge. Again, for depth, it was decided to play along the battlefield rather than across it.

Now, I have mentioned the dice feng shui before so this time I suggested I take the poorly rolling blue dice and Anthony used the high rolling red ones. We again diced to see who would be French and who would be British. Again, I ended up as the British commander.

The British had two battalions of green Portuguese Line and a Battalion of veteran Caçadores. Accompanying the Portuguese were two battalions of British line troops (one understrength) and a battalion of Highlanders (who also were veteran).  There was the 5th battalion of the 60th foot, armed with rifles and already having taken casualties earlier in the retreat. In support was a regiment of Light Cavalry, a foot battery of artillery and a horse battery.

The French started the battle with two regiments of light cavalry already in the table with the rest of the French force arriving one unit at a time, one bound at a time.

I based my tactics around holding the village on the British right with the poor quality Portuguese. Meanwhile the British would hold the more open ground as well as defend the bridge. The Horse battery was deployed forward with the 5/60th to slow the French advance a little and the foot battery was deployed on the hill to the rear. The Caçadores were forward on the British right flank.

The Highlanders were held as a reserve in the centre of the line, able to turn either way as the situation required.

The French advanced and the British fired. The blue dice were indeed rolling low, at one stage I rolled 9 dice and scored nothing higher than a three. However the British tactics were sound and the French élan was such that they came forward rather piecemeal.

The Caçadores went into square on the right, holding up and preventing the French cavalry from attacking the British right. In the meantime the horse battery and the 5/60th fell backwards firing all the while. After 10 bounds, with the scenario due to end, the British still held both the village and the bridge. Victory in yet another of my last games at the Gun Bar. To be fair, 10 bounds was not really enough time for the French and I suggested for the depth of table we were using that a variable finish between 12 and 16 bounds would be more interesting and give the French a better chance.

The photos below are from Anthony’s phone as for some reason as yet unknown, my phone was talking really odd photos and they were not at all clear,

Interestingly, throughout the entire game I won the initiative roll only once, Anthony won that nine times. I inevitably rolled down, he rolled up. I think there is definitely dice feng shui here and the next time we play, the blue dice will be reserved for marker duty, replaced by the green set perhaps.

Dice feng shui exists – at least with those blue dice! After the game finished, I rolled the nine dice again and had seven numbers four or greater! Go figure. The only dice that rolled well was the 8-sided dice being used for morale checks. I should also note that Anthony’s rolls were generally positive – split about 50:50 around 1,2,3 and 4,5,6 on using the red dice so, dice feng shiui exists!

Advertisements

Napoleonic — Battle Four at the Gun Bar — Last for a While

The last time Général de Corps Anthony faced Major General Thomo the Lost was the 5th of May.  Nearly eight weeks later we faced each other across the field of battle one more time. This was a special battle as it was the last time I was going to be in the position to battle with Anthony, face to face, beer to beer, for some time to come as I up sticks and high-tail it out of Dodge … er … sorry … Singapore.

The battlefield was laid out as I arrived and it was decided to play along the battlefield rather than across it. Because of the wicked dice feng shui plaguing Anthony in the past, we decided to dice to see who took the French, with the winner to take them. Once again, I ended up as the British commander.

Forces were equal so we set about deploying. At about this moment, a very nice beer was offered by the commander of the French so toasts were drunk and we retired to the balcony for the Singapore version of a sausage sizzle and that marvel of Australian gastronomic delight – the sausage sanger! The sangers were despatched, as was the beer, so we returned to the table.

I had based my tactics around holding the village in the centre of the table with my forces able to run back into the forest should the going get a little tough. My artillery was massed on my left. The rifles were in the best position to take the town and they were ably supported by the Portuguese.

My right flank was protected by three battalions of English and Highland troops. Battle commenced, dice were rolled, the French were rolled, au revoir, c’est tout ce qu’elle a écrit.

Whilst I lost a light cavalry regiment carelessly, and a few troops from other battalions, the French lost heavily. Again, the dice smiled upon me and laughed at Anthony. I must remember to take my pilgrimage to the shrine of St Magnus (the patron saint of dice rollers – read the Orkneyinga Saga for verification)!

In any case, thanks Anthony for the hospitality, beer, sausages, the games and most importantly, for being a mate!

And then, what better way to complete the battle than …

Bang on!
Bang on!

Bang On!

Napoleonic — Battle Three at the Gun Bar

Back in December 2013 we fought Napoleonic — Battle Two at the Gun Bar. About six weeks ago we started Battle Three. However, a period of high stress as well as hunting for a new job meant that whilst we started Battle Three, I had not had a chance to return to the Gun Bar to finish off the French.

Today I returned to the Gun Bar and finished off the French!

The British cavalry “got tore in” to the French horse and guns on the right, quite effectively, destroying the gun and forcing a retreat from the French. Further time was spent as the British and the French rested their horses before engaging further.

Meanwhile, in the centre, the French columns came forward. They managed to survive a light cavalry charge on them, pretty much destroying the light cavalry but then for some reason the French advance slowed and this allowed the British lines to engage in what they do best, shooting!

“Make Ready! Present! Fire!”

They shot! Devastating volleys delivered on the hapless French.

Game Three at the Gun Bar was over, the gallant French again victims of outrageous fortune (a number of dice rolls came up 1 at the time the French needed 4+).

Adieu!

And thanks Anthony for the brunch. Lovely!

Napoleonic — Battle Two at the Gun Bar

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?


Footnotes

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!

Napoleonic — Battle One at the Gun Bar

It was time – we’d had a couple of games of French-Indian Wars and a couple of games of Rapid Fire, now it was time to turn to something new. We decided to play with Anthony’s new Napoleonic French and his old but still being based British. We’d decided to do a mid-week as my weekends are a bit full just at the moment. Last night I trekked up to Anthony’s Gun Bar at The Dairy Farm. I felt a bit like the postman as I did, trekking bravely and gamely through rain and hail and sleet and snow to get to the game 1.

There are some pictures below. I was the British and decided to demonstrate with the light division in front of the rather extensive convent to the front of my right flank. My artillery was placed in two batteries on a hill where they could command the battlefield. For once the British had the advantage in cavalry and they provided my left flank – facing as they did the outnumbered French cavalry. My remaining divisions, one British and the other Portuguese held the centre. The plan was to let the French run  onto the bayonets of Allies. As a plan, it worked.

The only problem was that some of the bayonets were bent. The French Old Guard managed to slice through the Portuguese battalions facing them. The British Light Horse were severely handled by the French Dragoons although in a bright spot on the British left the Household Cavalry managed to catch a French Light Horse regiment and saw them from the field. Sunset was approaching and the French were taking casualties from the British muskets and although the French Guard was slicing its way through the British line there was a battalion of Highlanders who had managed to work their way around to the flank of the French battalions and were set to cause some strife. We agreed at this point that a draw seemed most seemly!

The game was played under the Rank and File rules. There were a number of odd things that turned up that I will discuss in a separate post but overall, a quick and satisfying game. Fish and Chips, Beer, and a Wargame – could there be a better way to spend a rainy Tuesday evening?


1. OK, so it is Singapore and we were missing the sleet and snow … and hail for that matter but it was raining and that made the traffic and the 300 metre walk at the end of the trip somewhat more challenging!

French-Indian War – Battle Two at the Gun Bar

It started back on August 3rd, 2013, with the Battle of St Roll No Ones. That was the battle that I rolled so many ones and coupled with the following battle, had us wondering about dice Feng Shui as when we played the third game, Anthony was on the other side of the table. By now, two wins in Rank and File and from what was the poor Feng Shui side of the table now has me wondering if the Feng Shui is period specific.

2013-09-14 15.50.36We met for an engagement at Dresden’s Ford.

The French (that’d be moi) had stolen a march on the British and advanced to the village on the ford. Indeed, the skill of the French engineers and the efforts of the troops ensured the road across the ford and the cross roads were suitably protected with earthworks. The was designed to ensure the the British left a holding force in from of the earthworks and attacked, most likely, on their right flank

The French were ready for an attack on either flank but had le Blue regiment stationed there waiting for the British to come. They came.

The view of the battle from the British side can be seen in General Gage it is with some trepidation … 

2013-09-14 18.36.26 I fear the British powder was wet as they barely caused a French casualty all day. They advance, the French shot, the British routed. Overall it was a simple battle. Those foolhardy enough to advance on the earthworks were repulsed with heavy casualties.

Those attempting to work the flanks were repulsed with heavy casualties as well. The French Cause was aided somewhat by the British inability to roll a 6 (or a 5 or a 4 come to think of it when those were needed).

The photo above is from the Montgolfier brothers recent invention and show the final position of most of the forces.

Lessons and Comments

When attacking hard cover, I think the attackers probably need around 2.5 to 1 odds.

We need to have a look at the interaction between cavalry and squares – namely, how many elements in the square can fire on the cavalry and when it comes time to melee, how many cavalry elements and how many infantry elements get to fight?

Lastly, an about face. 1/4 move to about face and 3/4 move or  … ?

Battle of Malplaquet

Battle_of_Malplaquet,_1709Just when I was settling into decisions for next years projects it occurred to me that today, 11 September 2013 is the 304th anniversary of the Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Malplaquet fought between England, Austria, Prussia and the Low Countries on one side and France and Bavaria on the other. It was a battle that was famous for the commanders, John Churchill of the English (the Duke of Marlborough) and Prince Eugene of Savoy on the one side and Claude de Villars and Louis Boufflers on the other. Overall there were 86,000 in the armies of the Grand Alliance with 100 guns and and 75,000 and 80 guns on Bourbon side.

The Army of the Grand Alliance found itself at Malplaquet near the modern Belgian/French border. In the morning of 11 September 1709 at 9.00am the Austrians attacked with the support of Prussian and Danish troops. These were commanded by Count Albrecht Konrad Finck von Finckenstein. They pushed back the French left wing into the forest behind them. On the French right wing the Dutch under the command of the Prince of Orange, John William Friso, attacked to distract the French and prevent them from coming to Villars’ aid.

Later a decisive final attack was made on the weakened French centre by British infantry under the command of the Earl of Orkney. This attack occupied the the French redans. Allied cavalry was then able to advance through this line and engage the French cavalry behind. By this stage, de Villars was off the field having been wounded earlier so Boufflers was in command. Boufflers was leading the Maison du Roi and six times drive the Allied cavalry back before finally deciding the battle was lost and surrendering the field.

The victory for the Grand Alliance had come at some cost however with 21,000 casualties from within the alliance compared to 11,000 casualties on the French and Bavarian side.

Now I am torn again between the War of Spanish Succession and the Great Northern War. Of course, I could just do this as Imagi-nations. Oh yes, and I am still planning something with the Thirty Years War.

Rank and File – Hacking for the Great Northern War and War of Spanish Succession

Victory after the Battle of Narva
Victory after the Battle of Narva

Well, that’s a long title!

Truth is, after one game of Rank and File, I felt really comfortable with them as a rules system for the Seven Years War (7YW). After a week of pondering them, I find I am feeling really comfortable with them as a rules system for the American Civil War. I can also see me using them for the Great Pacific War (if I can ever find those bloody figures). I’m not sure about them for the Napoleonic Wars yet.

However, if did odcurr to me that if they work well enough for the Seven Years War, they should work well enough for the earlier ways – namely the War of Spanish Succession (WSS – Marlburian Wars to the English) and the Great Northern War (GNW – Stora nordiska kriget to the Swedes; Северная война to the Russians). During this period there were a couple of innovations in Europe and a little anachronism in Northern Europe.

Duke of Marlborough signing Despatch from Blenheim, Bavaria in 1704
Duke of Marlborough signing Despatch from Blenheim, Bavaria in 1704

Artillery was more effective as I understand later in the 18th century but apart from the pikes and the possibility of the odd plug bayonet what really separated the warfare of 1700 to 1721 from that of 1740 onwards?

Now I am researching some more and looking at modifying Rank and File to suit one of my sorely underplayed and modelled favourite periods of history.

French-Indian War – Battle One at the Gun Bar

The French Battery and and battalion
The French Battery and and battalion

For a change from the Rapid Fire, Anthony suggested I read Rank and File on the bus up to the Gun Bar ((with one small change of letters this could become the Gin Bar)). I’m not sure that it was because he was bored with Rapid Fire but rather than he had received some new toys in the post and wanted to play with them.

The first part of the day was trying a burger from the barbecue as the search for the perfect burger continues (see the next post).

We then retired to the table where some terrain was laid out and Anthony’s French-Indian War figures were ready for battle.

Rules of Engagement were simple. Two roughly equal forces face off against each other across a valley. Let loose the dogs etc etc.

I deployed my cavalry and a battalion of infantry to product my right flank, positioned the battery with another battalion to protect it on the hill and split the remaining four battalions. Two were to hold my left flank and the remaining two to act as a strike-force up the centre. The centre was to be the main strike force as I could rapidly reinforce with another two battalions and support with the artillery.

The main strike force ready to advance and the right flank covered by the dragoons and another battalion
The main strike force ready to advance and the right flank covered by the dragoons and another battalion

It was a plan.

This was out first battle using Rank and File rules

The battle commenced. My left flank advanced and formed line waiting for an expected onslaught from the British. It came and my two battalions performed admirably, not only holding the flank but forcing the British back.

Meanwhile my artillery played on the British battalions and caused them some consternation.

On my right, my dragoons advanced on the river in company with a battalion of infantry to attempt to prevent the British crossing at that point.

My dragoons however ended up being roughly handled by the British and left the field.

Towards the end of the battle before things went pear-shaped on my right. Soon after this both the French and British right flanks crumbled. We called time at this point as both armies would have withdrawn from the field to lick their wounds. We really enjoyed the Rank and File rules and by the end of the battle we were playing bound after bound quite comfortably.

The advance up the road was initially successfully but ultimately failed
The advance up the road was initially successfully but ultimately failed