Thursday, 18 December 2014

London

At the weekend we had a city break in London.  We had not visited the capital in December before and it was well worth the long trip.   Military themed sights were not high on our list, but we did see this diorama depicting a V2 rocket launch in the Science Museum space gallery

At Somerset House we saw an exhibition by the photographer Bryan Adams, entitled "Wounded: the legacy of war".  Not an easy collection to view, but in my opinion all MP's should go and see the consequences for the armed forces of the deployment decisions voted on in the Commons.

On the river we saw the Dutch Naval ship HNLMS Luymes as she came under Tower Bridge


Sunday, 7 December 2014

RECON at Pudsey

The Pudsey show has been our last outing of the 'season' for a good number of years.  Usually the Lance & Longbow Society has a stand, but unfortunately, this year we left out application too late and the hall was fully booked.  Anyway, we set off across the Pennines looking for those Christmas bargains.  The show was well attended, but it seemed that the range of traders was not as broad.  Certainly, I was unable to buy the 30mm x 30mm bases I needed for the SYW cavalry.  The B & B was well patronised and had a good range of items on offer and I picked up a copy of Bowden's "Napoleon's Gande Armee" for a very reasonable price.

Will took some pictures of a Battlegroup Overlord game, but it was a game by the Furness Warlords which caught my eye.  It featured the Battle of Lake Erie from the War of 1812.  All the models (1/300 scale) are scratch built and a jolly good job has been made of them.




At the other end of the wargaming scale was this strategic level game of WWII


I think this was the Sabin game I saw at the Fiasco show a couple of years ago.

Overall a satisfactory day out, another book for the collection and a chance to catch up with fellow gamers; shame about those bases though.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Minden

With no game this week, I thought I would take a closer look at one of those battles which tends to capture the imagination, Minden.  One particular incident, the charge of the French cavalry against the British infantry was of interest. This is because, in the Konig Kreig rules, which Steve and I use, the French cavalry units only field 6 figures and so are vulnerable to failing morale tests when they start to take casualties. In addition, the rules make the British musketry fire more effective (a 50% chance of inflicting a casualty with each die rolled).  So,to see if the charge could work using these rules I carried out a paper exercise, running through the charge procedure 20 times.  All dice were d6.

I began by checking the morale of the participants. The French (rated 6) could not fail, the British rated 5,could fail on a 6.  On 4 occasions the British failed the test and retreated.  When the British stood, they fired a volley.  Six dice were rolled, requiring 4 - 6 to hit.  On average you would expect to inflict three casualties on the French cavalry with each volley.  In the event a total of 41 hits were obtained for 16 volleys, a rate of c2.5.  The casualties on their own would not stop the charge as you only check morale once per phase, but they could effect the melee value of the cavalry, as increments are gained for ranks and numbers of figures.



However, before the melee takes place the cavalry have to 'break the bayonets' and close on the infantry.  Again this is a 50% chance if the infantry are in line; so you would expect a melee in 8 of the remaining 16 charges.  In the event only 6 melees took place and of these 3 were won by the cavalry and 3 by the infantry.

In total, of the 20 charges only 7, ( 4 in which the infantry failed their morale check and 3 victorious  melees) could be counted as a success.  Bearing in mind that I discounted the effect of the supporting British artillery it would seem that the commander of the French cavalry would be well advised not to charge full strength British infantry units as the chances of success are not good.



I ran the exercise again using Brunswick infantry, they inflicted fewer musketry casualties, but the French cavalry only managed to 'break the bayonets' 7 times out of 17 attempts. However, they won 4 of the resulting melees, meaning that the overall result was the same as for the British infantry; 7 French successes out of 20 attempts.



For my third attempt I charged the infantry with a larger unit of Reichs Armee cuirassiers, (12 figures strong). They had  more luck with the dice; breaking the bayonets on 9 out of 17 attempts and they won all of the resulting melees. Even allowing for the vagaries of my dice rolling it seems to support the dictum about 'big battalions'.  The solution could be to combine two French cavalry units together to make them less vulnerable; but this would then have a negative impact on British cavalry units which are of 8 figures and are generally classed as medium rather than heavy.  In a melee therefore, the British (melee value 7) would face French cavalry with a melee value of 10, rather a large handicap.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Hexham again

Family commitments restricted wargaming to an evening session this week rather than a full day.  Steve decided to reprise the Hexham game we ran at Britcon in August, with slight adjustments to the balance of forces to see if it gave a more even game. Using the Impetus rules meant that even though we only had a maximum of three hours play we managed to run through the scenario twice.

In the first game the Yorkist right wing attack stalled when faced with the unerring accuracy of the  Lancastrian peasant archers.  However, this success was balanced out by the shortage of arrows for the remainder of the Lancastrian archers (who were of better quality of course).  We have a local 'house' rule which incorporates an extra dice roll into the missile fire to allow for the supply of arrows to run low and on this particular evening it had quite an effect. As the arrow storm slackened the Yorkist advance rolled forward and the decisive melee between the opposing units of nobles took place in the centre.  Even though they enjoyed the advantage of the higher ground Somerset's men were routed, and he was cut down in the crush.  With their commander killed the Lancastrian forces decided to quit the field.

The Lancastrian right advancing on the Yorkist archers
 The re-match also produced a slogging match between the two units of nobles,but not before the Yorkist right flank forces had their revenge on the peasants opposing them.  A flanking manoeuvre allowed the Yorkists to concentrate their fire on the peasants and in no time they were running from the field.  Further along the line the arrow supply problem again came into play.  A positive rash of '1's meant that over half the archer units had no arrows. This presented a problem of what to do with these units.  The rules prevented them from charging, even opposing archers and with no arrows they were rendered useless.

The two central battles prepare to meet
An attack by the billmen on the Yorkist left was stopped in its tracks by the one Lancastrian archer unit which still had a supply of arrows and the casualties they received made the billmen vulnerable to a counter attack.  In the centre Montague tried to seize the initiative and attacked Somerset's main body.  The melee was prolonged and could have gone either way, but in the end it was The Yorkists who ran and the Lancastrians could celebrate a victory.   

The rules give a good fun game with ample opportunity for lady luck to play a part.  It looks like a bit more play-testing will be required before we can decide if the arrow supply rule exerts too much influence.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Seven Years War returns

In the early days of this blog I posted several accounts of scenarios we had fought from the SYW.  These were devised by Alasdair and used his impressive collection of 25mm figures; these of course ceased when Alasdair moved away.  A good number of years ago I had been fortunate to receive a substantial number of unpainted 15mm SYW figures from the collection of the late David Barnes.  I had promised myself that I would get round to painting enough of them to put on a game, but the inherent 'butterfly effect' to which all wargamers seem susceptible meant that this particular project kept getting pushed down the 'to do' list. However, at long last, (with a bit of help from Steve's AWI collection), I was able to raise 8 brigades of infantry and  2 of cavalry  and devise a scenario from the campaigns involving the French and a mixed force of Anglo-Hanoverian/Prussian and Brunswick troops in the Rhineland.


Here is a general view of the terrain. The Allied forces (on the right) are defending their local supply base. General James Marlborough Blackadder has positioned his British troops on the hill covering the town.  In reserve is the brigade of Brunswick infantry and to the left of the Highlanders a brigade of Hessians (Steve arrived with these troops after the photo was taken).  On the far left were the British cavalry, comprising 3 regiments of dragoons.  In the wood on the far right was a unit of Brunswick jaeger.  The centre was supported by two batteries of artillery

The French, commanded by the  Marquis d'Ecoles, a descendant of the Comte de Salle Forde, the notable French commander of the wars of Louis XIV, comprised 15 battalions of infantry and four of cavalry, with the cavalry on the right.  He also had two batteries of artillery.  The Marquis' plan was to pin the Allied infantry with a frontal attack and then use his cavalry to defeat the Allied horse and then roll up the rest of their line.

The French infantry


The action opened with Steve making a general advance with the French infantry which was met by fire from the Allied artillery.  This had little effect at long range,particularly as the soft ground reduced the 'bounce through' effect of the ball shot, (ie I rolled a lot of 1's).  The jaeger 'ambush' on the Allied right failed totally; the first shots had no effect and all surprise was lost.  However, it did draw one French battalion into the woods and they spent the rest of the battle floundering around taking no part in the action.

Although struggling to find room to deploy, the French cavalry advanced and this challenge was met by the Allied cavalry which charged forward.  The resulting melees were victories for the French as the King's Dragoons and the 11th Dragoons were both driven back in confusion. For a time the 3rd Dragoon Guards restored the balance but they were attacked by Royal Pologne and the Mestre de Camp General and driven from the field.  All that saved the Allied left was that the French cavalry commander, who led the charge, as killed in the melee and it took some time for the Marquis to gallop over to reorganise the regiments.


In the centre, the two armies were now in musketry range and the French struggled to make headway against the British line, especially as it was bolstered by artillery.  The Alsace regiment found itself right in front of the guns and although suffering heavy losses from canister, they managed to drive off the gunners with volleys. Their victory was short lived as a volley from Loyals drove them from the field.

Blackadder was concerned at the advance of French troops into the wood on his right, fearing that it threatened his supply base.  He therefore ordered his reserve brigade to drive the enemy from the wood. The Brunswick troops attacked with elan, but it took some time to push their way through the trees and by the time they emerged on the far side, task accomplished, events had moved on in other parts of the field.

The Marquis had managed to get his guns forward to support his attack on the British line on the hill and Allied losses began to mount. To regain the initiative, Blackadder ordered his Highland brigade to attack. The first wave was driven off by musketry volleys, but the second crashed into the French line driving back their opponents and then carrying on to attack the second line.  These too retreated,and the Marquis hastily cobbled together a third line of battered units to resist the highlanders. However, the losses suffered in the melees now began to take effect.  Isolated and outnumbered the Highlanders found themselves swept by French musketry fire and destroyed as a fighting force.

The Hessians found themselves attacked frontally by infantry, but with cavalry menacing their flanks.  If they deployed to take on the infantry, they risked being cut down by the cavalry.  In square, they would be decimated by musketry volleys.  One battalion risked being in line and was destroyed by a charge from the Royal Allemand regiment.  Another was driven from the field by fire from the French artillery.

Blackadder found that his left and centre were destroyed.  He had no cavalry to counter the French advance and the one area of success, the Brunswick brigade's advance would not bring victory.  On the hill the remnants of his British battalions struggled to hold their position against a renewed French advance.  It was time to withdraw and lead the field to the French.

An interesting scenario that allowed Steve and I to reacquaint ourselves with the Konig Kreig rules after a break of a couple of years.  Hopefully I will paint up a few more units over the coming months and set up some more scenarios.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Result in the Sudan

At last Steve and I managed to meet to bring the Sudan game to a conclusion.  On the river, the Tamei, which was very low in the water, drifted away from the jetty and after an order from the bridge, the engines were put into full astern.  With the needles into the 'red zone' the steamer struggled into the main flow of the river.  Suddenly, the power dropped away but the steamer was now out of the arc of the Dervish artillery. Rather than continue to shell the Tamei, the Dervish gun now concentrated on the Egyptian troops advancing on Ad Dueim, quickly finding the range and inflicted heavy casualties.



The Dervish cavalry had at last reformed and began to move forward.  Ahead of them were the Egyptian mounted infantry, who had dismounted and formed line to support the attack on Ad Dueim.  Caught unprepared, the Egyptians' volley was ineffective and the Dervish cavalry crashed into them.  The line buckled and then gave away.  As the Egyptians ran back towards the lines behind them, the Dervish cavalry followed up and charged into the disorganised line. Fortunately for the Egyptians the supporting Dervish cavalry were fired on by the Imperial field guns.  The losses stopped them in their tracks and then the machine gun from the Tamei joined in to complete their destruction.



By the farm a fierce melee was under way. Dervish infantry had charged out of some broken ground and closed on the British line.  A close range volley did not stop the Dervishes, but discipline and bayonets did and when the Dervish commander was killed, the fight went out of the attackers and they fell back.  On the Imperial right the flanking column of mounted infantry continued their solid performance beating off yet more attacks in spite of the losses they were suffering.



Indeed, the Mahdi was beginning to think that perhaps this was not the day ordained for victory.  However, he moved to rally his troops and having inspired them to greater efforts, ordered them forward.  Once again the waves of Dervish infantry surged forward.  Perhaps lulled by their success, the British infantry volleys were not as punishing as expected and the Dervish charged home.  Three British units were now fighting for their lives and the initiative lay with their enemy.  Scarcely believing his eyes, the Imperial commander saw the British front line waver and then break.  Under the eyes of their leader, the Dervish infantry swept forward.  This was the high water mark of the Dervish advance.  Their cavalry was on the brink of breaking the Egyptian line opposite Ad Dueim and all that remained between the British and disaster were two units of Highlanders.  It was at this point that the Mahdi received news that the defences of Ad Dueim had been shattered by artillery fire, the Dervish artillery in the town had been destroyed and that a whole brigade of Egyptian troops were bearing down on the town.  He therefore ordered the supplies to be removed from the town and carried off into the desert.



The previously successful Dervish cavalry now found themselves unsupported. As they battled the Egyptians to their front they were attacked in flank by a Sudanese infantry unit.  With their commander wounded all order was lost and the battered remnants of the cavalry galloped back towards their lines.  Not wishing to suffer more losses, the Mahdi ordered his men to fall back; there would be other days and other battles before this war was won.  For his part, the Imperial commander was happy to be left in possession of the field.  His troops had suffered heavy losses and he had no cavalry to exploit his 'victory'.  The Tamei would need extensive repairs before it could be in service again and the bulk of the supplies had been carried away by the retiring Dervishes.



 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Another interruption

Real life intervened yet again this week, so Steve and I did not meet to finish the latest Sudan game.  With the next two weeks also "spoken for" it will be at least three weeks before my next update.  Many thanks for your comments and continuing interest in my ramblings.

 I leave you with another photo from the Sudan game.