Sunday, 20 May 2018

10mm War of Spanish Succession - Saragossa 1710

At the May Tring Club Games Day, we staged a big 10mm battle based on the Battle off Saragossa, fought on 20th August 1710. The game was fought using Black Powder, with Last Hussar's Blenheim Palace amendments.

Historically the Allies had advanced out of Catalonia, defeating the Bourbons at the battle of Almenara. They then pursued the retreating Bourbons with the intent of finishing them off, catching up with then at Saragossa. The Allied army had 30 infantry units and 20 cavalry against the Bourbon's with 24 infantry and 30 cavalry. We had a great time playing this and the battle resulted in an overwhelming draw for the Bourbon army.

Both cavalry flanks got stuck in long before there was any infantry action. Interestingly on the right of the Bourbon army all the brigades on both sides ended up in a Broken state, but on the Bourbon left only one brigade (an Allied one) broke in the closing stages of the battle. I think this reflected the different tactics being used. On the left, both commanders maintained their lines. The front brigades clashed, then the commanders pulled them back to join any retiring units behind the safety of the second line where they could rally. In the meantime the second lines clashed and repeated the process. Both sides would pause their attack to reform their lines. On the right, the British commander threw his second line out to try and outflank the Bourbon cavalry, which forced the Bourbon commander to do the same to counter the move. So the two second lines contacted each other piecemeal and the cavalry melee degenerated into a messy scrap. As neither side had the security of a rear line to reform behind, units were thrown back in to battle with less opportunity to rally properly. It became a far more of a battle of attrition than the other wing.

In the centre the Catalan/Austrian infantry failed to advance, whilst the British/Dutch contingents raced across the battlefield. The Catalan dice was so bad that the British commander insisted on the infantry Reserve being committed to guard his flank! The Bourbons advanced far enough to anchor their flank on the woods and were otherwise content to await the allied attack. The British took pretty horrendous casualties, despite their platoon firing they were out-shot by the Bourbon infantry and the Dutch units that tried to support their attack were also badly shot up. The Spanish/Austrians finally got going but were really just an audience to the Reserve's attack in the Bourbon lines, which was thrown back and the brigade Broken.

At this point we took stock. On the Allied side 5 of their 9 brigades were Broken, against 4 of the Bourbon 10. However we realised we had forgotten the rule that artillery do not count towards calculating a Broken brigade, so one of my Bourbon infantry brigades was also Broken (but that also meant that the British brigade would have been gone at least two turns earlier!). So we called it a draw, to the advantage of the Bourbons.  Historically the Marquis de Bay would have been delighted with that result and considered it a victory!

Here are  some pictures of the battle.

 Initial deployments, from the Allied side....
.....and the Bourbon side.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Yorkists 2, Lancastrians 0

At the last Tring Club Games Day I organised a 4-player Wars of the Roses game, using Sword and Spear. Each player controlled a 400 point army, so Lancastrians, Mark and Ian R, faced of against the Yorkists, Ian H and myself. At one point we were considering making a club rule that everyone should be known as Ian, because we had 5 Ians on the membership list and it would make it easier for new members to remember names.

Ian R faced off against me on the Western side of the battlefield and Mark squared up to Ian H on the East. The Lancastrian forces were slightly balanced in favour of their heavy infantry, so would have the advantage in melee. I'd gone for a more shooty option with the Yorkists, which gave us more manoeuvrebility and an advantage if we could keep them at a distance.

I won the scouting phase and had the advantage of deploying my units last. Ian H and Mark when for a fairly traditional approach and squared off against each other. Ian R massed his heavy infantry on his left flank (towards the centre of the table) with a pike block on the end of the line, bridging the gap between his command and Marks. Given how slowly heavy infantry move and how difficult it would be to manoeuvre the pike block, I deployed with a refused flank of my billmen facing his heavies, hoping to out-shoot his longbowmen and get around the heavy infantry's flank before they could close with mine. Just for good measure I stuck my dismounted men-at-arms in the middle of my bowmen with the idea that they would make short work of any bowmen they got into contact with. Unfortunately t'other Ian didn't realise what I was doing and, probably worried by what seemed to be a gap in our lines, moved troops across to fill it - but more of that later.

 The Eastern side of the battlefield.
 And the Western side.
 A view from the Lancastrian side of the table.

In the opening move my idea of using longbows to take the enemy out at a distance was demonstrated, but not in the way I had intended. With first shot of the game (and some outstanding bad dice on my part) Ian wiped out one of my militia longbow units with a single volley!

The rest of the first turn passed unexceptionally. None got outstanding activation dice, so everyone edged a few units forward and did the odd bit of shooting. Ian advanced his crossbow and a militia longbow unit into the wood in the centre of our positions, so I threw my Irish kerns in after them but all they achieved was take a hit themselves. I moved my handgunners in to the wood to support them, unfortunately I forgot that the handgunners cannot move and fire, so they just stopped in front of the crossbowmen, frantically trying to relight their matches. Sadly Ian got to activate his men before me in the next turn and blew them away! Over on the Eastern flank the two sides carried on battering away at each other. In the meantime the pike block started it's slow advance across the table.

Irish in the wood, where did those Flemish handgunners go?
The pikemen crawl across the table (notice the border horse in the corner of the picture, they ain't on the same side!).
Things get nasty on the Eastern side of the battlefield.

By now Mark had got most of his heavy infantry into contact, but they were not having the desired effect. It was looking pretty even on the Eastern flank, both sides had lost a couple of units, but Mark had several militia units close to breaking due to the shooting casualties they had taken as they crossed the gap between the armies.

Back on my side of the game, my longbow superiority was starting to tell when I had an amazing stroke of luck. Ian was using his general to frantically rally units I'd shot up before they broke, when I routed the unit he was attached to. Ian rolled a 6, HE'S A DEAD UN!
Morale checks for the dead general, plus an army test for reaching 1/3 casualties were mostly successful, at least for the units that were already engaged.
It would be a huge headache to try and control his force with the reduced command radius his captain had. Most of his army would be out of command, he could either try to shore up his scattered bowmen, or else concentrate on his heavies, getting them into contact whilst he still could. He chose the latter, starting to move units across to face mine and edging his pike closer to the end of Ian H's line.
Lancastrians batter at the Yorkist line.
A view from the Lancastrian East flank.

By now my guys were on a roll and Ian R's troops dropping like flies, I just needed one more unit destroyed to reach is army break point. He charged his pike into a unit of Ian H's archers, who gave them a bloody nose, then Ian charged them in the flank with his border horse. Even light cavalry charging with lances has a punch and the dice gods were obviously favouring York this day, because in no time the pike had taken 5 hits and were just one away from breaking (and routing Ian's command). At this point Mark took the opportunity to open his mouth and boldly stick his foot in it. He turn towards his fellow commander and said, "I think you have lost this battle for me!". Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...!
A minute or so later, one of Mark's bill units routed, taking him over 1/3 losses and requiring a morale check for all his units. His dice rolling was average, about half his units passed and half failed. Unfortunately, all those that passed were at full strength and all those who failed were the ones that had already been shot up, so 3 or 4 further units routed in sympathy with the unfortunate billmen. In a single combat Mark had gone from just under 1/3 losses to over 50% and his command broke!
How we laughed.....

Checking the rules, it seemed that, in a multi player game, we should combine the two commands for calculating the army's break point, so as Ian R hadn't quite reached the 50% loss point, we could fight on. However in the next turn the pike routed and wiped out Ian's border horse, taking their combined losses well over 50%. An outstanding Yorkist victory!
Most of us were fairly new to Sword and Spear and we were all happy with how the game played out. We realised that we had got a couple of minor things wrong, but for the most part we had stuck to the rules. I think we will be playing these rules more often and I need to dig out my 10mm Late Romas and Sassanids to give them an outing.

Just to rub it in, the Lancastrian losses (the pike block hadn't been added to the pile yet at this point!).
And the Yorkist losses!

There were two other games going on at the Games Day.

 A Warhammer 40K battle.
And a large 4-player Congo game.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Western Gunfight 3

Mark and Colin joined me in a Wild West gunfight game at the last club night. Using my home brewed rules we got two games in and had a lot of laughs.

The first game was a straight forward "Who's the Boss Around Here?" game. Three gangs fighting to the last man standing. Mark got into character with his Mexican banditos, his boss left his men to do the fighting while he crept around the back of the town and his henchman dodged down the middle of the street from civilian to civilian, using the startled passers by as human shields! Despite this Colin won the first game.

The second game was a treasure hunt. We were all former members of the same gang who had been double crossed by our old gang leader. He had made off with the loot and hidden it about the town before getting himself killed falling over the whorehouse balcony whilst drunk. We needed to search the buildings and find the loot. If a character tried to enter a building through the back door there was a 50/50 chance it was locked. Entering a building by the front door was OK, but if you can in by the back there was a chance that an angry householder would take a pop at you, the chance increasing if you had broken in. One on my minions was the first into a building, when he broke into the back of the hotel. In so doing he woke up the barmaid, who rushed downstairs in her underwear and blew his head off with her trusty winchester! In the end three of the first four kills went to angry townsfolk! But I managed to grab the bulk of the loot and escape, chased by my former gang mates.

 The east side of town.
 And the west side.

 The banditos close in on my gang.
 Colin's gang adopt a cautious approach.
 When searching the saloon, one of the Mexicans takes a break. 
 My encounter with the barmaid!

Other games on that night:

 A Napoleonic naval battle.
 That British ship looks ganged up upon!
Opps, where did me masts go?

 A Dragon Rampant bash.
 A 40K game.
And a 4 player Congo game.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Games Day 10th March

We played a Franco-Prussian War battle using the Fire and Furia Francese amendments for Fire and Fury (produced by the Wyre Forest Wargamers).

It pitted 3 Prussian Corps against the equivalent of two French ones. The battlefield is shown here, with the initial French units deployed. 

The Prussian objectives were to maintain control of the bridges across the river and seize the road junction at the French table edge. The French had a choice either to Attack, in which case the objectives were the bridges, or to Defend, where the objective was to hold the road exit. If the chose the latter then and units from the off-table reserve that was destroyed, would count against their victory point total. After a brief debate, the French commanders decided to defend.

The Germans decided to ignore the defended hill in the middle of the table and instead threw all their strength up the flanks in a pincer attack. On the right the attack followed the course of the road, whilst on the left the commander made a feint up the road whilst the bulk of his units advanced behind the wood.

On the right it was a hard fought struggle, with one French regiment heroically holding back an entire Prussian division for a time. A French counter attack broke the first line of Prussians and temporarily held them back, but numbers (and massed artillery) began to tell. The first reserve division was brought up to plug the gaps on the French left flank.

On the other side of the battle the Prussian feint suffered heavy casualties but succeeded in holding the French defenders in place whilst the flanking divisions slowly advanced. Reluctantly, the final French  reserve (a division of the Imperial Guard) was brought on and rushed out onto the extreme right flank to block the Prussian flanking attack.

The Guard fought well, destroying the leading German regiments, over-running their artillery and sending the rest reeling back with a bloody nose. But despite this success, it meant that they were effectively taken out of the more important action around the objective road junction. 

With their front division in tatters, the French reserve fought a fighting retreat to the junction, losing two regiments in the process, but just clinging on until nightfall. It was a French victory, by the skin of their teeth, another hour of playing time would have almost certainly seen an overwhelming Prussian victory. 

                          The Prussian Right Flank advance, that's a lot of artillery on that road. (Unfortunately I printed most of the Prussian unit cards upside down!)
                                               Getting their feet wet in the process

Over-running a unit of chasseurs
The heroic French regiment holds off yet another attack
                                                            The left flanking attack begins
                                                           With more wet feet

                                The French guard advance to stem the Prussian flank attack

         On the Right flank the massed Prussian units finally destroy a valiant French defender
                                 The final French rearguard prepare to hold back the German masses

The other game was an impressive 6mm refight of Borodino using Black Powder.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Africa with The Men Who Would Be Kings

I played my second round TMWWBK league game at the club on Friday, using the Herero Tribesmen against Alan's "Explorers" (or"Slavers", depending on your perspective).

We were playing Scenario B, in which I, as the attacker, had to destroy Alan's village (there were 5 huts on the table). The game lasted 12 turns and I got 3 victory points for each hut I destroyed, Alan got 2 points for each hut left standing and 2 points for each of my units he destroyed or routed. This was quite a problem for me as in order to destroy a hut I needed to inflict 10 hits in close combat, unfortunately all my units were irregular infantry who only hit on a 6! Also on reflection, as we were using the skirmish level rules (half size units) I should have reduced the strength of the huts accordingly for this scenario.

Alan placed his mercenary askari in the central hut and a unit of tribesmen in jungle on their flank. His explorers and a second unit of tribesmen would come on as reinforcements. To begin with it want well for me, my troops rapidly advanced and started to attack 2 unoccupied huts, detaching a unit of riflemen to block the tribesmen. I kept my troops in cover, so that the askari's shooting was mostly ineffective. Both Alan's tribesmen units rushed forward but his explorers were very tardy (good for me because they were sharpshooters!)

The Herero force advance

Led by the mounted infantry

Askari lurk in the hut

On the flank his tribesmen were taking casualties from my riflemen, so they charged them. Fortunately my unit had got behind a thorn fence (counted as an obstacle) which gave then cover. Even so, fierce tribesmen hitting on a 4+ against irregular infantry hitting on a 6 should have been a one-way fight. But I rolled 3 sixes! I lost two me but the tribesmen fell back so I could blast them the next turn at close range. After another cycle with the same results (!) I gunned down the last surviving tribesman.
The depleted tribesmen advance on the flank (the red counter means they are pinned)

In the centre the askari kept firing (and missing) whilst the other tribal unit moved up in support. The explores had started moving, but still could not get a shot at anyone. In the meantine I kept bashing away at the huts, inflicting a total on 9 hits on both, 1 more hit each and they were destroyed.

Tribal unit advances through the village.

The tribesmen charged into one of my rifle units, this unit was not fierce, which was just as well as they killed 5 out of 6 men in a single round of combat. As the survivor fell back all I could do was ignore the huts and have every unit pour fire into the tribesmen at close range.That was the end of another unit!

The explorers finally start shooting.

By this time Alan's explorers had got into close range of one of my units and decimated it. As a unit got down to 1 or 2 men I tried to keep it out or range or behind cover, trying not to give victory points away. But in the final turns of the game, just as I destroyed the 2 huts, the explorers managed to wipe out one of my units. So it was a 8:6 win to the defenders.

As unusal with TMWWBK we had time for a couple more games before home time, 1 won the second game and Alan won the third.

There were  3 other games on that evening (sorry no pictures this time), a Chain of Command game set in NW Europe, a Rapid Fire game (also in NW Europe) and a Future War Commander game pitting 6mm Eldar against daleks!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Back to the Balkans with The Men Who Would Be Kings

Martin and I had an evening of The Men Who Would Be Kings games at the last club meeting. I really like the Osprey rules sets, I'm sure there are duff ones out there, but all the ones I have played give a enjoyable and fun game. I'd offered Martin to set the games in 19th century Africa or the Balkans in 1912 and he went for the Balkans. We used the skirmish scale (half size units)  which makes for a quick game. We played three scenarios and could have fitted a fourth in, but instead spent the time looking at the other games on that night and annoying chatting to the players.

Marin took the Turks and I had the Greeks. The first scenario was a simple, three objectives along the centre line of the table. To take an objective a unit had to be the only one in contact and spent a turn at Stand To. The game ended when the third objective was taken, in the interim the opponent could swipe an objective back. It was a quick game, due to my slowness and the speed of Marin's Turks. (I kept rolling 1s and 2s for the extra move when I moved At The Double, he rolled 5s and 6s). The ned result was a 2:1 win to the Turks.

The second scenario was A Sigh of Relief. The objective ended up in the middle of a wood and I put my elite Evzone unit out to guard it. Despite losing their leader to the first shot of the game, they held off all comers for some time, routing one unit and sending another reeling back with a bloody nose. Eventually, once they were down to half strength, they failed and rally test and retreated off the objective, but by this time the rest of my force was in the fight. We called it a halt when the Turks were down to one pinned unit and the Greeks still had all four units in play (a lucky roll had rallied the Evzones at the last minute).

Game three was Run For The Hills! with the Turks trying to escape. Martin started well, keeping his units on the move, then only engaging the Greeks with two units whilst the rest made a break for it. It almost worked, I destroyed the rearguard and he got a unit and a half off the table. With his last unit almost on the table edge his luck failed and ther refused to move for two turns. this allowed me to catch them in a crossfire and wipe them out. A 6:4 win for the Greeks!

                                                  Greek Evzones hold the objective

                             Turkish Militia advance, backed up (at a distance) by irregular infantry

                                       Turkish Regulars shelter from the Evzone firestorm

                                                      Greek Irregulars take cover

                                            Greek Regular infantry on the attack

Only two other games this time, a 4-player Warhammer 40K game.

And a 28mm Wars of the Roses bash, using the Crusade rules