Sunday, 31 May 2015

A Liverpool Affray

In 2013, Steve and I put on a game for the Lance and Longbow Society at Phalanx based on the battle of Deepdale.  This year we are planning a game based on events in Liverpool in 1425.  A feud had developed between the Molyneux and Stanley families and both sides were gathering their forces. According to a contemporary account, the sheriff of Lancashire intervened before the two forces met, but for the purposes of the scenario, he has been delayed and 2000 men supporting Thomas Stanley have sallied out of Liverpool to meet 1,500 men supporting Sir Richard Molyneux.  The battle takes place on some open heath land between the town fields and Toxteth Park.  Molyneux's men, although outnumbered, are of a slightly better quality than those supporting Stanley, which should balance out the disparity.

We will be using our own version of the 'Lion Rampant' rules which featured in an earlier post.  After an initial run through the scenario further amendments have been made.  With over half the units being archers casualties, were rather heavy, the Molyneux force being almost wiped out before it came to blows.  Therefore, the 'out of arrows' dice was made a d4, rather than a d6.  This seemed to work well as in our second game, although Molyneux lost again, it was a much closer call for Stanley, with over half his force driven from the field.

Another amendment is to allow a shoot and move option for the archers.  This will allow them to shoot (at reduced effect) and then either fall back behind a supporting unit, or advance. As this is a more complex manoeuvre the command test is set higher than for simply moving or shooting.

Above is a sketch map by a local historian, Ramsay Muir, who published his 'A History of Liverpool' in 1907.  The battle is set in the area roughly where title scroll is placed.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Bemis Heights, 1777

It is sometime since we last had an action from the AWI and Steve set up this scenario from the ill-fated (from a British point of view), Saratoga campaign.  Following the failure at Freeman's Farm, Burgoyne waited and then, against the advice of his officers decided to attack Gates' army again, hoping to break through to Albany, where he expected to join up with Clinton's troops.

The British start the battle with three brigades of infantry, deployed around two redoubts which protect the British right flank.  They are to advance and carry out a "reconnaissance in force", push back any rebel forces they meet and clear the way for a general British advance. To their front and right flank are large areas of woodland, no enemy troops are visible.  With the rebel forces hidden I took the part of Burgoyne and decided that Fraser (on the right) would cover the flank of Von Reisdel's Hessians who were to advance towards the gap in the woodland.  On the left Able's brigade were to cover Von Reisdel's other flank.  I had guns in the redoubts and decided that it would be prudent to post one battalion in each, 'just in case'.

The British prepare to advance
The British advance began and soon Fraser's men were coming under fire from Morgan's brigade in the woods on the British right.  Determined to remove this threat, Fraser redeployed and then advanced a short distance and fired a volley.  This drove back the rebel riflemen, but before the British could enjoy their success, they were attacked in the flank by a fresh rebel brigade.  This had been waiting for just such an opportunity and greatly assisted by a good dice roll giving them 4 actions, they moved out of the woods, formed up and charged.  The battalion on the left of Fraser's line had no chance, caught at a disadvantage before it could change face to meet the attack, it took heavy casualties and fell back in disorder.  Fraser's second battalion did change face and then fired a volley at the rebels.  They were also fired at by Fraser's skirmishers and this caused their advance to falter.  A counter attack by Fraser's men then drove back the rebels.

Caught in flank!
Von Reisdel had been making good progress in the centre.  His jaegers had pushed forward and discovered a third brigade of rebel infantry facing the British left.  However, with Fraser under attack and this new threat discovered Von Reisdel halted his battalions and deployed them in line with his artillery supporting them.  Able's grenadier battalion moved up on Von Reisdel's left and fired volleys at the rebel infantry before them.  Their measured volleys, plus artillery fire from the redoubt on the left, caused the rebel fire to slacken.  The more immediate threat to Von Reisdel was the  rebel brigade which had attacked Fraser.  This now switched it's attention to him and was supported by a further brigade which had marched to the 'sound of the guns'.  For a time the fire of the battalion guns held the rebels back, but ammunition was running low.

Yet more rebels appear
Fraser had once again attacked Morgan and was driving his battalions back, but at some cost, both his battalions were nearing exhaustion.  On the opposite flank Able's grenadiers encouraged by the lack of fire from the woods advanced and then disappeared into the trees.  As they struggled forward they came under fire from rebel infantry and were then charged.  On their flank more rebels appeared and the grenadiers gave way, running back towards their own lines.

The Grenadiers break
Von Reisdel's men saw the grenadiers running back, but had troubles of their own.  Outnumbered three to one, they held the line as long as they could, but if they pushed one rebel unit back another took its place.  Then Von Reisdel's artillery fell silent, all ammunition spent. Ordering the gunners to pull back, he held the line as long as he could before carrying out an orderly retreat back under the guns of the redoubts.

The Hessians outnumbered
Burgoyne's attack had failed.  Two of his brigades were in a bad way and there was now no prospect of breaking through the rebel lines.  However, the rebel forces were in no fit state to counterattack, with three of their four brigades exhausted.  The result was close to that achieved historically and Steve had constructed a nicely balanced scenario, which had given both sides a chance of some sort of victory.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Computer rant and Triples May 2015

It has been a struggle posting battle reviews the last few months, our aging laptop cannot use the modern version of Internet Explorer and the version it can use is not compatible with the 'updated' version of Blogger.  (Don't you hate it when things are 'updated'?).  The recommended Google Chrome option slows things down so much that only divine providence has prevented the laptop sailing through the window.  Anyway, I eventually purchased a new laptop thinking that it would make things easier.  How naive can you get?  I now have to combat the vagaries of Windows 8, which a manual tells me means  " I have 15 years of catching up to do".  There is also the small matter of finding the updated (that word again!) drivers for the camera and printer.

Rant over, for the moment.

Steve and I headed across the Pennines yesterday towards Sheffield.  Quiet roads meant that we arrived early and had to join the queue of gamers awaiting the 10am opening time.  There seemed to be a good attendance and there was the usual good selection of traders offering a bewildering range of all the 'essential' wargaming paraphernalia.   The range and number of games on offer seemed slightly less than in previous years.  With the forthcoming 200th anniversary of Waterloo it was inevitable that this battle would feature prominently.  The Ilkley Old School went back in time in more senses than one with their sand table game based on Plancenoit

General view of the table

The Prussians attack

French defenders
L'Orde Mixte put on a game based on the struggle for Hougomont, using the General de Brigade rules.

TheMosborough Old Boys had a Sudan game, featuring some beautifully painted figures on well sculpted terrain.

Among the other game which caught my eye was the WWII game from the Barely Legal group which was based on the Scheldt offensive in 1944.

and the 40mm AWI game from the Penarth group

It was also good to see a good number of youngsters taking part in the pirates game.

Of course I came away with a 'few' more figures to add to the mountain waiting patiently to be painted, but nothing untoward.

Overall a good day out, with those putting on games welcoming a chance to chat about the hobby and pass on hints and tips that may well prove useful.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Villette, a Grand Alliance scenario for Pike and Shotte

It is over 6 months since the last outing of the Grand Alliance figures, and that was the Lines of Castenay for which we used the Ga Pa rules.  Following our recent trials of the Pike and Shotte rules, Steve and I decided to 'push the envelope' and try the Grand Alliance period.  The scenario was very similar to the Castenay game.  Villete is a small, but significant staging point in the supply chain for the fortress of Namur, which is the main French objective for the campaign season.  As a preliminary to the besieging of the fortress, the French are anxious to prevent any supplies reaching Namur, to that end they are attempting to capture Vilette.  One battery has already been placed on a ridge, ready to bombard the town and Colonel Alexander Beattie of the engineers, is moving forward a siege  mortar and materials to construct a further redoubt.  The French already have one brigade of infantry (5 battalions) plus a brigade of cavalry (2 regiments) in place and further troops, (a brigade of 4 battalions and a cavalry brigade of 2 regiments) are on their way, under the command of the Comte de Salle Forde.

Unbeknown to the French; the Allied garrison of 4 battalions and two light guns, reinforced by a three brigades (2 of infantry and 1 of cavalry), commanded by the Graf von Grommit, have chosen that very day to sally out and destroy the French works. The low ridge, which is no impediment to movement is flanked by a marshy area to its right and has two wooded area close to its left flank.  French reinforcements will arrive either behind the ridge, or between the woods on the left (decided by a die roll).  The Allied brigade of grenadiers arrives after the action starts (delay is decided by die roll).  If the French preserve the battery and drive off the Allied force they are victorious.  The destruction of the battery, would be an Allied success, even if they had to retreat afterwards.

The French heavy battery, with Beattie's engineer wagon train approaching in the background
Von Grommit deployed his infantry in two lines with the cavalry on the right, correctly assessing that the terrain opposite his left was impassable to troops.  Even though the grenadiers had not yet arrived he ordered a general advance, there was no time to lose.  The first shot from the French artillery ploughed a furrow through the ranks of the Austrian infantry, but it did not halt their progress.  As the range closed the French infantry began to fire volleys and that from the Bavarians halted regiment Blitzenkron in it's tracks, causing considerable delay before they could recover their formation.

Confident in their ability, the French cavalry surged forward to engage their more numerous opponents. The army lists give the French cavalry a slight advantage in this period and I had mentioned this to Steve, just before he rolled the dice to decide which force he would command.  In the event he took the part of Von Grommit, but those claims about the French being 'the best cavalry in Europe' came back to haunt me.  In the melee both my regiments were badly mauled, streaming back shaken and in disorder; it was only the disorder in the allied cavalry, preventing their 'sweeping advance', which saved me from total disaster.

Aubusson driven back by Erbach
Fortunately, at this point my reinforcements arrived and even better, the cavalry appeared on my left between the two woods, putting them on the flank of the allied horse.  Here was a golden opportunity to hit the enemy whilst they were disordered.  The commander of the Spanish cavalry ordered his men to deploy from column into line and then charge, somehow the trumpet call was misheard and nothing happened ( ie I rolled too high in the command test).  One saving grace was that Von Gromit's cavalry were also stationary, (Steve also failed the command test).

In the centre a fire fight was developing.  Aided by their light artillery, the Austrians were gaining the upper hand against the French.  Solre and Languedoc were coming under increasing pressure and Salle Forde moved forward his second brigade to support the line.  The Austrians fired one more volley and then charged, Solre opted to fix their bayonets (once fitted the plug bayonet prevented the unit from firing its muskets for the rest of the battle), Languedoc relied on a closing volley.  Languedoc's volley stopped their opponents in their tracks, disordering them and forcing them to fall back to reform.  Solre met the charge of the Metternich regiment and after a close melee forced the Austrians to fall back. This gave them no respite because the light artillery now began to fire at them from close range.  Disordered, they were pulled back by Salle Forde, who ordered a fresh unit forward to take their place.  The remaining Austrian infantry concentrated their fire on the French redoubt; many gunners fell in the torrent of lead directed at them and the remainder fled the field, with the French artillery silenced the Allied front line now advanced on the French infantry.

The Spanish horse defeat Fugger
Hoping to take the pressure off the units to their right the Bavarians, supported by Remazy wheeled to attack the flank of the Allied second line.  Von Grommit countered this move by ordering his grenadiers to move against them.

Meanwhile on the French left the mutual inactivity pact came to an end with the Allied cavalry regiment Fugger charging the Spanish horse. Counter-charging the Spanish prevailed in the melee, but following up fell foul of the allied light artillery which Von Grommit had redeployed to support his right.  The Veningen Gendarmes and Erbach, now recovered from their earlier melee charged Aubusson and Vaillac. but could not repeat their success.  This time the French prevailed and the Allied horse were driven from the field, leaving Von Grommit desperately trying to put together a defence line on his right.

Toulouse fight for the ridge
The Hessian regiments Erbprinz and Lowenstein now attacked the ridge, trying to push the French line back. On their left Wartensleben moved through the abandoned battery position threatening the flank of the French line.  Erbprinz was defeated by Toulouse regiment, but they followed up too far and were overwhelmed by the fire from the Austrian regiments Herberstein and Furstenberg.  Zurlaben was threatened by both Lowenstein and Wartensleben but Salle Forde ordered the reformed Solre to charge Wartensleben and this helped to stem the Allied advance.  On the French left the Bavarians had stopped the initial charge of the Allied grenadiers, but when the latter were reinforced the Bavarians had to give ground., reforming behind Remazy.  This regiment defeated their illustrious opponents, causing yet more problems for Von Grommit, who now faced a situation with both his flanks in perilous circumstances and his centre coming under pressure from the two reserve battalions which Salle Forde had committed.

Assessing that he had fulfilled his brief of silencing the enemy artillery and disrupting their siege preparations Von Grommit ordered what remained of his troops to fall back into Villete.