Sunday, 31 December 2017

Action at Ginseck Creek: an AWI scenario

For our last wargame session of 2017 Steve and I were back to the AWI with a scenario Steve devised based loosely on Brandywine.  The main intention was to try out his amendments to the firing procedure in Patriots and Loyalists.  He wanted to introduce some variation into the effect of volley fire between the troop types.  Therefore, instead of 6 bases of infantry firing at a certain range with a value of 4 producing 2.4  hits every time, different types of units, (continentals, militia, British regulars etc) had one dice per stand with different % chances of scoring a hit.

We had the usual 3 brigades of infantry each, but no cavalry.  A general view of the table can be seen below.

The rebels are on the left and their task is to hold the line of the Ginseck Creek.  The 'British' , which included a Hessian brigade, deploy with one brigade on each road.  Each side had 1 good brigade  commander, one average and one poor.  A roll of the dice decreed that I would command the rebels and further rolls deployed my good commander on my left (the far end of the table in the picture), average in the centre and poor on the right.  By chance Steve's dice came up with the same result, so each flank had a good commander (better chance of having more actions) against a poor one. Generally, I deployed my Continental infantry to cover the roads, except on my right where each continental unit was   supported by a militia unit (this was to prove useful as the battle progressed).  On the central hill were two units of militia with a third in support and a gun.

The rebel centre
As the battle began I deployed my riflemen forward to harass the British as they advanced, the artillery, which was generally low on ammunition would only begin firing when the enemy was in effective range.  In no time at all all three units of riflemen had been forced to fall back to rally by their opponents.  This exposed the rebel line units to skirmisher fire and although the line held, losses began to mount.  It was in the centre that the worst of the damage was done, not only was the leading unit of Continental infantry weakened, but on the hill one of the militia units was forced back by  volleys from the 55th Foot.  Their supporting unit was also compelled to retreat by the fire of the combined light companies and this exposed the artillery crew.  The 55th turned their attention on the hapless gunners who saw their colleagues decimated by the British volleys.  To the horror of their commander the crews abandoned their guns and routed off the hill.

The Hessians advance

The British centre
Affairs on my left were slightly brighter.  A slightly ponderous advance by the Hessians had been stalled at the ford and the fire from my militia stationed in the woods had caused one unit of Hessian musketeers to fall back.  Determined to clear this irritation, Steve advanced his grenadiers.  Their advance was hindered by the creek, but my militia refused to take initiative and a rather weak volley was shrugged off by the grenadiers.  Once across the creek they dressed their ranks and then returned the complement.  The volley shredded the ranks of the militia and they took to their heels, forcing the brigade commander to gallop over to rally them.

The Hessian grenadiers advance
My right flank was as they say "in a state of flux".  Ineffective volleys failed to prevent the British units crossing the creek, but once across the accuracy of the fire seemed to improve.  Supporting fire from the artillery helped to push back two or three attacks and the militia played their part too, although they kept the brigade commander busy rallying them.

Another push across the creek by the British left
The course of the battle would be decided in the centre. Following the success of the 55th, the British grenadiers crossed the river, aiming to drive back the rebel Continental infantry who had been already weakened by the skirmishers.  In this they were disappointed, as the rebels proceeded to rake the advancing British line with volleys, which first stalled and then repelled the attack, forcing the grenadiers back across the creek where they attempted to rally.  This left the 55th isolated.  They had followed up their success in driving off the gunners by marching onto the hill, daring anyone to try and push them back.  I manoeuvred a unit of Continental infantry to advance, but to buy time, I attacked with two rather battered militia units.  This attack was dismissed with ease by the 55th who seeing a third militia unit moving forward, decided to charge and try and break through my lines.  Somewhat against the odds, my militia unit managed to absorb the attack and then drive it back with heavy loss.

The 55th attack

and are repulsed !!
Unfortunately, inertia now seemed to grip my centre.  The follow up was too slow, allowing the 55th to rally, so that when an attack was made by the militia, it was defeated with ease, a volley stopped the charge before contact.  It was left to the Continental infantry to retrieve the situation, firing two telling volleys in quick succession which forced the 55th to retreat, finished as a fighting force.

The militia try and push back the Hessian grenadiers
Back on my left, the advantage had now swung in favour of the Hessians.  Two units of militia had tried to check the advance of the grenadiers by volley fire, but had failed.  Both had been forced to fall back to rally.  The leading Continental unit had seen that their tormentors in chief, the Hessian Jaeger had strayed within charge range and attacked them.  To their surprise. not only did the jaeger stand and fire as the rebels approached, but crossed bayonets with them and drove them back!  Behind the jaeger were the reformed musketeer regiment who now fired volleys at the second Continental infantry unit.  This was attempting to cover the road and their rallying comrades.  However, a succession of volleys from the Hessian musketeers forced this unit to retreat, meaning my entire left wing was falling back.

The Hessian jaeger defeat the Continental infantry
In the centre things were also looking grim.  Although I had manged to regain the hill, the British grenadiers had now reformed and returned to the fray.  Their first volley destroyed a unit of Continental infantry (admittedly already severely weakened), and now the central road was open.  My remaining Continental infantry unit counter-marched to block the road, but they only had one weakened militia unit to support them.  I decided that the rebel commander would probably have now cut his losses and tried to save what he could from the wreckage.  Fortunately his right wing was still intact; having just defeated yet another British attack and still held their original position. 

The closing position
Many thanks to Steve for yet another enjoyable game.  May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous 2018, and that you enjoy your gaming!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Place of Many Paths; a Sudan scenario

Once again we returned to the Sudan last week and Steve had organised it so that there was a chance I would command the Dervishes for a change.  I duly rolled the dice and yes, I would be playing the part of Emir Khat, the Dervish leader, on this occasion.  My task was to prevent an Imperial force reaching the local supply centre (Amoh Kash), where a stockpile of arms and food had been assembled prior to a raid on the nearest river settlement.  The best place to take on the Imperial forces was an area of broken ground known locally as "The place of many paths".  An overview of the table set up can be seen below

The Imperial forces can be seen on the lower edge of the photograph, the British on the right (of course) and the Egyptians (or as the Dervish called them, the Turks) on the left.  I had four 'brigades' of infantry and two of cavalry, represented by 6 playing cards.  I also had 9 other cards as 'dummies'.  Before Steve started moving I placed the cards around the table disguising my deployment. I settled on placing 1 'brigade' of infantry at the oasis and another at the kidney shaped hill just in front of the Egyptians.  The remaining infantry and one of the cavalry brigades were behind the rocky ridge on the Imperial left.  My final cavalry unit was on my left behind the central area of broken ground along the table edge.

Below can be seen the first British move, led by the lancers, whilst the Egyptians in the background are yet to move.

The lancers discovered the force of Dervishes I had placed at the oasis and quickly back on their infantry who were preparing to meet the onrushing enemy with disciplined volleys.  Undaunted, the Dervishes charged forward into a veritable storm of lead.  In the face of heavy losses the charge slowed, stopped and then reeled back in a shambles.  Although a setback, the attack had succeeded in stopping the British advance, thus securing the flank of my main attack which was to fall on the  Egyptian brigade.

The British line stands firm
The Egyptian cavalry had also advanced quickly to try and locate Dervish troops.  As they rounded the hill to their left they came under fire from their flank. With their commander falling in the first ragged volley they struggled to maintain order.  This was not helped by a succession of shells from the Dervish artillery landing among the milling horsemen.  As the rifle fire intensified more men fell and all order was lost.  In no time the pitifully few survivors streamed to the rear, they would play no further part in the battle.
A surprise for the Egyptian infantry
As the Egyptian infantry neared the hill, they detected movement among the rocks.  They deployed into line just in time as two units of Dervish infantry rushed from concealment and charged towards them.  The ragged volley they managed before the native line closed was ineffective and soon a ruthless melee was in progress.  Although caught at a disadvantage the Egyptians were managing to hold their ground, until the Dervish cavalry intervened.

The Dervish cavalry break cover
They emerged from behind the rocks on the Egyptians' left flank.  The leading unit making straight for the melee, the two supporting units swinging to their right to then move towards the Imperial centre.  Under the impact of the enemy horsemen the Egyptian left flank unit was overwhelmed.  A stubborn core attempted to hold the line  but were cut down to a man.  The next unit distracted by the carnage to their left were cut down by their opponents; the whole Imperial left was now in danger.

The Egyptian line cracks
To increase the pressure further my final 'brigade' of infantry now broke cover on the Imperial left and followed the cavalry towards the Imperial centre.

Yet more Dervish infantry
On the Imperial right the British were feeling quite confident.  They had defeated the first Dervish charge with ease and a second one had also proved unsuccessful.  There was some annoying sniping from the Dervish riflemen, but everything seemed under control.  A unit of Highlanders supported by the Blue Jackets had moved left to bolster up the Egyptian line and and Dervish 'push' in the centre had been effectively snuffed out.  However, it was on the far right that danger threatened.  A unit of Dervish infantry broke cover and charged the lancers who were trying to manoeuvre  around some broken ground.  As they faced this new threat the lancers were then hit by a unit of camelry which seemed to appear from nowhere.  A second unit of camelry moved round the left flank of their comrades threatening to envelop the British line.   The Imperials deployed their artillery to meet this threat, driving back the second unit of camelry.  For the lancers there was to be no salvation.  Outnumbered and outflanked they were eventually wiped out as a fighting force, leaving the infantry to cope as best they could.

The lancers break
On the left the Egyptians began to think that they glimpsed a light at the end of the tunnel of Dervish attacks.  The machine gun, supporting the infantry managed to break up one attack and then a second withered away in the face of the rattling, spitting infernal machine.  Their comrades in the artillery also managed to halt one cavalry attack, but not a second which cut down the gunners and then galloped on towards the machine gun.  This had to turn to meet the new threat, depriving the infantry of support just as a third attack closed in.  To the right of the Egyptians the Blue Jackets had fought off attacks, but were growing weaker.  Orders were dispatched for the Highlanders to come to their aid, but they were under attack themselves.  At this crucial moment another Dervish attack charged home.  The Egyptians were cut down where they stood, the machine gun crew suffered the same fate as the Dervish cavalry swarmed round the Egyptian flank.  Fighting to the last the Blue Jackets upheld the honour of the senior service but they faced impossible odds.  Only the Highlanders survived.  They had the advantage of plenty of open ground to their front, allowing several volleys to be fired before the Dervishes reached their lines.  When they did, the Dervish were too weakened to break the line and the battered survivors limped back to their lines.

Success for the Egyptians
The Blue Jackets hold firm (for the moment)

The Highlanders defeat the final attack in the centre
By now the writing was on the wall for the Imperials.  All the Egyptian troops had been lost, two units were in melee, with five fresh units closing in.  The general situation can be seen in the photographs below.

Steve agreed on a Dervish victory, not as conclusive as that suffered by Hicks, but it would take some stout soldiering for the remaining British troops to fight their way back to the Nile.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Braddock Down 1643, An ECW scenario for Pike and Shotte

The game this week is more of a 'what if' rather than an true representation.  Historically, the battle of Braddock Down was a rather one-sided affair, with the Parliamentarians under Ruthen breaking as the Royalist line advanced and fired a volley.  Some details can be found on the Battlefields Trust website .  There is also a scenario on the Too much Lead blog

An overview of the terrain from behind the Royalists
In our game the  Royalists have more infantry,(5 regiments to 4),  but their regiments are 1:1 ratio of muskets to pike; whereas the Parliamentarians are 2:1 ratio of muskets to pike.  In addition, the quality of the Parliamentary infantry is unknown at the beginning of the game.  The first time a six is rolled against a unit in the shooting phase they take a command test; pass and they are 'trained'; fail and they are 'raw'. In the end, 3 of the 4 units were raw, which was fairly accurate historically.  The Parliamentarians have the greater number of cavalry, with all 4 of their units being standard size whereas two of the 4 Royalist cavalry units were small.  However, two of their units need to pass a second command test to carry out a charge order.  (Historically, some units were reluctant to charge). 

The Parliamentarian forces
 A roll of the dice allocated the Parliamentary command to Steve, whilst I took the Royalists.  My plan was simple, attack and at first things seemed to be going well, with my infantry making swift progress towards the enclosures.

I had thought Steve would stand on the defensive, but in true 'no plan survives first contact with the enemy' fashion, Steve also advanced and volleys were exchanged across the hedgerows.

The Parliamentarian commanded shot
The Parliamentarian commanded shot did their best but the weight of shot began to tell and then one of the Royalist regiments charged across the field and drove them back at point of pike.  However, their success was short-lived as volleys from the supporting regiments drove the Royalists back to reform.

On the flanks the cavalry now entered the fight.  I expected the Royalists to prevail, but was sorely disappointed.  First my right wing cavalry were driven back and then the left flank was held to a draw.

The Royalist's right wing flees
The inconclusive fight on the left
I sent the Royalist infantry forward once again and they managed to drive off one infantry regiment, but only after a protracted fight.  By this time my right wing cavalry had been driven from the field and I had to try and hold them back with one of my left wing regiments.  However, this left one Parliamentary cavalry regiment free to attack elsewhere and they charged my militia.  They defied the odds to drive off the first attack, but it was only a temporary respite.  In no time the cavalry charged again and this time there was no miracle; the militia routed.

The rout of the militia
However, they were not finished; again defying the odds, they rolled double six to rally.  There was to be no escape, another charge from the relentless Parliamentary cavalry drove them from the field.

The end of the militia
All the Parliamentary cavalry now combined to drive the few remaining Royalist horse from the field.  This they accomplished and the outlook for my infantry looked grim.  They had established a superiority over their opponents but now had no escape route.

The Royalists drive back the Parliamentary infantry
 At this point I conceded, in the enclosures I was safe from the cavalry, but how would I manage to escape?

An interesting scenario with an intriguing interplay between firepower and pike and trained v raw.

Monday, 4 December 2017

RECON 2017

As I mentioned in my last post, this weekend saw our last wargaming outing of 2017, the RECON show at Pudsey.  Once again it was a well organised affair with a good range of traders on hand ready to sell all the stuff that wargamers need (or think they need).  Perhaps the number of games wasn't as broad as in previous years, but the organisers can only use those  that are on offer.  Our Chester game went quite well.  We ran it twice and had some enthusiastic 'public' participants who all enjoyed the experience (by chance  in each game they were on the victorious  side, which won't have hurt).  I managed to get a few photos and Will has some more here

Battle of Cambrai
 Commemorating the 100th anniversary of that bloody battle.


Leicester Phat Cats 'Blood and Plunder' game

as above
I thought this was the best game at the show; lovely terrain and figures and the club member running it was in costume too!
Detail from the Goodwood game
Undoubtedly the largest game, the Goodwood game seemed to veer too much towards the 'wall to wall tanks'   syndrome.  I admit that, historically, it was a very congested battlefield with a high density of AFVs, but perhaps a different type of scenario would have appealed more.
Chester - the Royalist centre advances
A very enjoyable outing, well worth the trip over the Pennines.  Many thanks to Andy, Bob, Steve and Will for helping with the game and Dave and Lynne for 'logistic' support.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Preparations for RECON and some more recruits

Next Saturday will see Steve and I at the RECON Show at Pudsey. We will be putting on the Chester game we prepared for the Britcon show in August ( post ) for the Lance & Longbow Society.  If you are attending the show please drop by and have a chat.  As you can imagine after a lapse of over 3 months we needed to reacquaint ourselves with the scenario and rules, so this week we had a run through.

The rebel leader, Holland prepares to defend the ridge
The commander of the Royal forces, Mortimer prepares to charge
The rebel knights prevail and Mortimer flees from the field
Surprisingly, the loss of their leader did not adversely affect the remaining Royalist forces.  They stuck to their task and finally overcame the rebels.  A rerun after lunch also resulted in a Royalist victory, though by an equally narrow margin.  We will have to see how the game goes on Saturday.

Back in May I posted a picture of my first unit of Soldatski for my 17th century Muscovite army (other unit in this post).  Well, after 6 months !! the second is finally finished.

The unit consists of 12 pikemen and 20 musketeers.  (It should be 12:18 for the 3:2 ratio, but 32 figures is easier to arrange).  In the interests of economy (always popular with Management), I painted an extra 4 musketeers so that I had the option of fielding a unit of Streltsy for scenarios set earlier in the 17th century.  A unit of 24 means that they can be deployed in 3 or 4 ranks, or even 2 if behind defences.

Work has also been progressing with the ECW figures from Dave.  Fortunately these do not need painting, just re-basing, so these infantry have come on quickly.

Two units of commanded shot


Dismounted dragoons
Many thanks for the positive comments about my previous post.  All the figures are Steve's as are the walls and buildings for the monastery.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Italian diversion

Steve decided to try out the Pike and Shotte rules with his Italian Wars collection this week.  He set up a simple scenario which had a Franco-Swiss force trying to capture a monastery overlooking a strategic road.  An Imperialist force was deployed to drive them off.  Both sides deployed with infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings.

An overview of the table, Imperialists on the right, Franco-Swiss on the left.  For the latter, the two centre columns  are infantry.  Nearest the camera are the Swiss, beyond the small wood are the French.  On the Imperialist side the infantry nearest the camera are Landsknecht, arquebusier and halberdiers garrison the monastery, with more pikemen beyond.

The dice decreed that I should command the Imperialists and I decided that the best option was to remain on the defensive and disorder Steve's units by arquebus  fire.  For his part, Steve opted to hold, (or if possible drive off) my cavalry and smash his way into the monastery with his Swiss pikemen after the defenders had been 'softened up' by his crossbowmen.

From the very start it seemed Lady Luck had taken against Steve.  On both flanks his cavalry advanced slowly allowing my mounted arquebusier to reach a flanking position where they could fire on his units before they were charged by my men at arms and gendarmes.  In the centre, although they had a range advantage his French crossbowmen took heavy casualties from my arquebusiers and had to retreat, disordering their supports.  Like the cavalry his Swiss pikemen were slow to advance and so their \french comrades took the full brunt of the defenders' fire.

French right wing

The Swiss

French left wing cavalry
The Landsknechts

The Imperialist gendarmes

The monastery
With his cavalry struggling to maintain their position and the French infantry in disarray, it was even more important that the Swiss perform well.       Unfortunately as they advanced their arquebusiers were decimated by the fire from the Imperialists.  When that unfortunate unit routed, it uncovered the leading block of pikemen plodding in their wake, who took similar punishment.  Before they reached the Imperialist line they too routed.  Both units were eventually rallied, but the steam had gone out of the attack.
The French crossbowmen rout

The Swiss advance

'Heavy metal' clash on the Imperialist right
Buoyed by the success of their cavalry the Imperialist pikes on the right of the monastery moved forward.  One block charged a crossbow unit which resisted their initial charge but had eventually to give way.  The second block attacked the French pikes and a prolonged melee ensued.

The end for the French right wing cavalry

Massed pikes

The view from the monastery
On both flanks the French cavalry was in real trouble.  On the left, two units had routed, the remainder were shaken and opposed by relatively fresh enemy.  Across the field, the right wing was surrounded and destroyed.  Only in the centre was there a glimmer of hope.  The second block of Swiss pikes attended by a unit of halberdiers had continued to advance.  They had cut their way through a unit of arquebusiers and now faced the landsknechts.  I was trying to get a second unit of landsknechts to advance and threaten the Swiss flank, but failed a succession of command rolls.

The halberdiers attacked the landsknechts but made little impression on the large block, eventually falling back.  By then the remaining Swiss were now threatened by the cavalry from the Imperialist left and units of arquebusiers in addition to the landsknechts.  Due to the collapse of the French left wing cavalry the French infantry were also casting anxious glances to their flank.

With little prospect of success, Steve conceded the day and began to pull his forces back.

In our post battle review we decided that the stradiots and mounted arquebusiers may have been too powerful and should be classed as skirmishers.  This would limit their opportunities for charging enemy units and rely more on harassing fire.