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.