Saturday, 27 February 2021

Battle of Egra 300 AD: a Hail Caesar scenario

For the last few weeks Steve and I have been joined by another gamer, David, for our weekly skype/zoom game sessions.  David has hosted a couple of games and this is the most recent. 

The initial deployments; Sassanids nearest the camera

 A Roman army has invaded Sassanid territory and the local Satrap has raised a force to oppose them.  The Sassanids have positioned their infantry  behind a dried up river bed, to offset the Roman infantry's numerical and quality superiority.  On the more open terrain the best Sassanid troops the cataphracts and supporting light cavalry have a clear run at the Roman cavalry.  The Sassanid objective is to hold their position and prevent the Romans from advancing further east.  For the Romans, they need to break through this force and head for the Sassanid capital.

Having won the initiative, the Roman forces (or at least most of them), advanced rapidly and soon the opposing light cavalry were in missile range exchanging arrows and javelins.  As is the nature of light cavalry they proved rather 'skittish'  falling back after taking casualties and evading at top speed from charges.  Both generals were having difficulty persuading their heavy cavalry to actually move forward and the centre of action moved to the centre where one of the Roman heavy infantry units was closing up to the river bed.  

The Roman commander deployed his light troops to the flank to shoot on the Sassanid levy and unsettle them before the heavy infantry charged.  The light troops were driven off by a charge from the reserve unit of cataphracts, but the cavalry were unable to catch the infantry before they reined in.  Undeterred, the Roman heavy infantry charged across the dried up river bed and into the levy.  Against the odds, the levy held then counter-attacked and pushed the Romans back.  The Roman general decided to  bring forward his second unit of heavy infantry and charge the now weakened levy.  They passed through their reforming comrades and readied for the charge.  Unfortunately, the Roman general rolled a 'blunder' at this point and followed it up with a '1'.  This sent the fresh unit back through the other heavy infantry in disorder, stalling this section of the infantry attack.

The Sassanid right turn to face the threat from the Roman archers

On the Roman left, one unit of archers was skirmishing with the Sassanid javelin men covering the front of their spearmen, whilst the second unit embarked on a flank march through the woods, intending to fall on the flank of the levy on the Sassanid right.  Surprisingly, the javelins got the better of the archers, who had to fall back after becoming disordered.. On the flank, once the Roman archers had reached their position and shot at the levy, the levy turned and then returned the favour much more effectively; forcing those archers to fall back disordered as well.  On the right flank of the Roman line the skirmishers had moved forward again to try their luck against the weakened Sassanid levy.  Once again the reserve cataphracts charged to drive them off.  This time they caught the skirmishers and destroyed them.

The cataphracts catch the Roman skirmishers

Back on the Roman right, the heavy cavalry were lumbering forward, although the Roman units had moved out of supporting distance of each other.  At just the right moment the Sassanid cavalry general managed to exert his authority and get his cataphracts moving.  One charged the isolated Roman heavy cavalry unit, the other supported them in their charge.  In this devastating charge the Sassanid cataphracts broke the Roman unit and drove it from the field.  

The Sassanid cataphracts drive off the Roman cavalry

This was the decisive moment of the battle.  The Roman infantry line was now open on its right flank and the reserve Sassanid cataphract unit was well-placed to exploit this weakness.  The remaining Roman heavy cavalry unit was outnumbered and the rival light cavalry forces were fighting each other to a standstill.  With his infantry having made no headway against the Sassanid infantry the Roman general had little option but to pull back.

Many thanks to David for hosting the game.  It was enjoyable and though we both had our difficulties with getting units to do what we wanted it was a balanced scenario.  The rules had sufficient similarities to our version of Pike and Shotte so as to be fairly easy to use.  The main differences being the mechanism whereby one side moves and shoots whilst the opposition do nothing, and rolling a '6' whilst shooting imposes a test on the opposition.  All the troops were David's and he took the photos.


Sunday, 14 February 2021

Desert column

A return to the Sudan this week with the action surrounding a mounted column which is returning to the Nile after a fruitless search for the Mahdist leader Mullah Mak-En-Hah who is stirring up trouble for the Imperialists.  The Egyptian force had been brought up river on steamers and the infantry brigade deployed to hold the landing at Wadi Yahmeen while the Egyptian mounted column set off into the interior.  For over a week the column had been chasing one false lead after the other and now, running low on supplies and ready for a return to barracks they have turned back towards Wadi Yahmeen.  For the last two days they have been pursued by an enemy force, but this morning the menacing dust cloud has disappeared.  Before them lies the last short stretch of desert before the village and the steamers ready to take them back north.

Overview of the table.  The mounted column arrives at point A

The infantry and steamers at Wadi Yahmeen

The column commander was just about to order the advance when a mass of cavalry suddenly appeared, cresting a small rise to the south east.  There was just time to wheel the cavalry to face the threat and also dismount the mounted infantry before the enemy was on them.  The sheer impetus of the Dervish attack broke through the first Egyptian cavalry regiment, scattering the few survivors who turned and fled back into the desert.  Behind them, the second Egyptian cavalry regiment managed to hold the exultant warriors, but took heavy casualties doing so.  On their right, the mounted infantry had attempted to stop the enemy charge with a volley.  They failed and were soon fighting for their lives.  With casualties rising, the infantry line wavered, stepped back, stepped back again and then broke into knots of desperate men.  One by one these were eliminated and then the cavalry swept off into the desert, searching for those who had run away.

The devastating Dervish cavalry attack

When the second Egyptian cavalry regiment was assailed by a second unit of Dervish cavalry, the die was cast and they too were driven from the field.  The only remaining unit from the column was a unit of Bashi Bazouks who the commander had considered  unsuitable for combat against the desert warriors, but useful only for scouting.  This unit was only saved from destruction by the need for the Dervish cavalry to rally and reorder after their melees.

In Wadi Yahmeen the Egyptian infantry had been unwilling spectators to the unfolding disaster, now they were to experience the fury of the Dervish attack as masses of enemy infantry swept towards the village.  From the north came Beja warriors, from the south Ansar.  On the Nile, the steamers tried to move into position to offer supporting fire to the defenders.  The more southerly, the Balmoral did manage to disorder the leading wave of Ansar and give the defenders of Wadi Yahmeen time to move into position and try and deter the attackers with firepower.

The Ansar attack

As the Ansar attack developed, one body moved against the western face of the village, the other against the southern.  The unit defending the southern face of the village had swung to face westwards to meet the attack.  This allowed them to fire full volleys at the attackers but it also masked the Ansar from the fire from the Balmoral.  In the event, the volleys proved sufficient to stop the leading Ansar unit in its tracks.  Seeing the indecision in the enemy ranks, the commanding officer ordered his men to charge and they drove back the Ansar in disorder.

The southern attack stalls

The unit on the western face also managed to fire volleys against the incoming attackers, but in doing so they ran low on ammunition.  Even worse, they did not inflict sufficient casualties to drive off the attackers.  In the ensuing melee both sides took heavy casualties, but the Egyptians were saved by the fact that the leading unit of Ansar had outpaced their supports.  When the Ansar were routed the Egyptians were thus granted a short respite before the next attack came in.

To the north, the Beja attack had been hampered by poor command and the difficult terrain.  The riflemen had been disordered by the defenders' fire and hampered the spearmen behind them.  When the first attack was launched the Windsor was in position to fire into the flank of the attacking warriors.  The fire from the machine gun and the blue jackets inflicted casualties on the attackers and gave the defenders the edge in the ensuing melee.  After a tough struggle the Beja were driven off, but all too soon another wave of attackers swept forward.  This time the fire from the Windsor was much less effective; the machine gun jammed and the efforts of the blue jackets depleted their ammunition stocks without inflicting many casualties.  It was left to the Egyptian infantry to provide their own salvation and once again they were up to the task.  Although battered they stood their ground and it was the Beja who gave ground first having lost the melee.

The Beja driven off

The Windsor covers the northern edge of the village

 To the south, Mullah Mak-En-Hah had decided to make a personal intervention.  Galloping forward he led the second Ansar unit against the Egyptian infantry.  Ignoring the final volley from the Egyptians the Ansar crashed into the enemy line.  Men fell on all sides, the Mullah urged on his followers, the Egyptian officers ordered their men to stand firm.  In the end it was the Egyptians who prevailed.  The Mullah fell back with the Ansar anxious to get out of range of the Egyptian rifles.

The final struggle on the southern side of the village.
The attack against the western edge of the village had also been repulsed and the battered Ansar now fell back towards the desert.  Seeing them go the Beja also fell back.  For their part, the Egyptian infantry were content to let them go, they were conscious they had won a victory, but the cost had been high.  They had lost many friends in the mounted column, but at least the Bashi Bazouks had survived.  Taking advantage of the disarray in Dervish cavalry they had galloped for safety, led by the brigade commander.  As the last Dervish attackers ebbed away, the Bashis galloped into Wadi Yahmeen just ahead of a group of pursuing enemy horsemen.

During the night the remaining Egyptians embarked on the steamers, ready to sail north at first light.  One of the last to embark was the commander of the joint force, who had accompanied the mounted column.  He had had more than a few anxious moments as he made his way towards the village, avoiding Dervish patrols and almost being shot by the sentries guarding the perimeter.

A rare success for the Egyptian infantry forces, though not for the cavalry.  The Dervish, particularly the Beja were unlucky with their command rolls and attacked piecemeal rather than 'en masse' as they prefer.  One definite loser was the Mullah Mak-En-Hah.  His claim to be a new prophet was sadly dented by his failure as a leader (consistently failing command rolls) and his lack of success when leading an attack.  

Monday, 8 February 2021

A sort of Steinkirk (Steenkirque) scenario for Pike and Shotte

Something a little different for this game. Instead of the usual set up with two full Grand Alliance/WSS forces lined up ready to do battle, for our recent game I organised something which drew on the battle of Steinkirk  (1692).  At this battle the Allied army tried to carry out a surprise attack on the right flank of the French army, which, not expecting to be attacked in its strong position had positioned most of its forces further back.  The Allied advance guard had advanced close to the French encampments unobserved and when they advanced and deployed there were only a few units to oppose them.

The Initial set up

The Allied objective is to capture the village on the right of the table, the French have to prevent this.  More Allied battalions will arrive, but the commander of the advance guard does not know exactly when, or whether they will arrive on his right or left.  The French commander knows that the main body has been ordered to advance, but they will arrive piecemeal and again, he doesn't know when, or on which flank.  Fortunately for the French, the Allied commander has been ordered to await reinforcements before advancing.  (In the battle there was a 2 hour wait before the Allied advance).  I gave the Allied commander a chance of 'turning a blind eye' to his orders after 2 turns as he would be able to see his chances of success diminishing as more French approached.  In the actual battle the main Allied army never arrived.  Cavalry had been placed at the head of the column, as was normal practice.  But the terrain was totally unsuitable for them and they simply impeded the infantry.

Initially, the French had two battalions of line infantry, two of dismounted dragoons and a field gun;  the Allies 5 units of line infantry and a light gun.  After two turns of artillery fire, the Allied commander was lucky with his 'ignore orders' dice roll and was free to advance.  Fortunately for the French their commander's dice rolls had triggered the arrival of the first brigade of reinforcements, 4 battalions of line infantry.

The view from behind the French line as the Allies begin their advance

The Anglo-Danish brigade on the Allied left advanced into musketry range and were met by a volley from regiments Royal Italien and Montroux, the response from the two British battalions was disappointing; and this set the pattern for the rest of the battle on this flank.  On the Allied right, the Dutch/Danish brigade advanced against the dismounted dragoons.  Their volleys also proved ineffective, but the dragoon commander could see that in melee his men stood little chance and prudently fell back.  This move did disorganise the dragoons, but it created space for the newly arrived brigade to move into the line. The odds were now shifting in favour of the French, as they 6 line battalions against the five Allied ones.

The French infantry move to the left to face the Danes and Dutch

On the French right regiment Montroux continued to punish Erle's regiment with musketry volleys.  The final straw for the British regiment was when the French gun added its weight to the exchange and inflicted heavy casualties.  Unable to take any more, the regiment broke and ignoring the commander's order to stand, fell back off the battlefield.

The Allied commander was delighted to see the arrival of three battalions of Hessians on his right.  However, they brought the news that the main body was not going to appear, nor were any more troops.  When the Allied commander also saw the head of yet another column of French infantry appearing it became apparent that the best he could do was to form line of battle and then slowly fall back, preserving as much of his command as possible.

The Hessians arrive

The Dutch and Danish battalions were doing their best to slow the advance of the French infantry and buy time for the Hessian battalions to deploy.  However, they were paying a heavy price and when the French charged the Danes were bested in the melee and routed.  They were rallied by the brigade commander, but the Dutch were now isolated.  Just when they were needed the Hessians entered the fray.  Their volleys stopped the French advance, at least for the moment and gave time for the Danes to reform.  Unfortunately for the Dutch they now became the focus of fire from two French units and the resultant casualties forced them to retreat.  They too were rallied and now it was the French turn to suffer a setback as the two leading battalions of the brigade leading the attack were both routed by volleys.

The Languedoc and Bavaria regiments rout

Now the second brigade of French infantry made it's presence felt.  Moving forward on the left of the French line it began to engage the Hessians.  This move was supported by the dismounted dragoons who were trying to work their way round the flank of the Hessian right wing.  On the Allied left the Anglo-Danish brigade was coming off second best against Royal Italien and Montroux.  Both remaining battalions were on the verge of becoming shaken and could not be counted on as holding their ground much longer.  Therefore the commander of the advanced guard gave the order for a controlled retreat; alternately firing volleys and falling back toward the broken ground.  The day belonged to the French.

Always a difficult task, the Allied cause was not helped by some poor musketry which meant they made little headway against the original French force.  They were fortunate in getting a prompt release from their hold order and the arrival of the Hessians, but so were the French with their reinforcement rolls.  It did however provide a satisfactory evening's entertainment.



Thursday, 28 January 2021

Greenfield: an AWI scenario for Patriots and Loyalists

 This week's game saw a return to the other side of the Atlantic for an AWI game.  The Crown forces are pushing back the rebels, who decide to make a stand to prevent an outflanking manoeuvre.  Two rebel brigades hold a ridge position astride a vital road at Greenfield; it is the task of General Scarlet, commanding a joint force of British and German troops, to break through the opposition and advance to a position blocking the supply and communication route of the main rebel force.

The position facing General Scarlet

Uncertain as to the strength, or exact location of the forces facing him, General Scarlet elected to concentrate his effort on the enemy right.  Experience gained in earlier actions had given him a wariness about close, wooded terrain; it was usually the location of enemy riflemen and they had exacted a high toll on his officers.  The buildings provided obvious strongpoints and the ridge good fields of fire.  However, possession of one ridge would probably encourage the enemy to fall back.  He therefore ordered Brigadier Cornwall to advance with his British brigade over the small hill on the left and then onto the ridge, before swinging right towards the road junction.  

Cornwall decided to lead the attack with his light infantry, who, once across the small hill would move right and try and secure Emmanuel Chapel.  The advance towards the ridge would continue, led  by Fraser's Highlanders supported by the grenadiers.  The two line battalions (28th and 55th)  were to engage any enemy units holding the gap between the chapel and the central wood.  In the centre, Brigadier Danzig would attempt to take the central wood with his jaegers, supported by Von Donop's musketeer battalion.  On the right, the Hessian artillery, von Mirbach's musketeer battalion and the grenadier battalion were to engage the enemy in the vicinity of Greenfield.  They were to exert sufficient pressure to prevent any rebel troops moving to reinforce the flank being attacked by Cornwall's brigade.

Brigadier Bannister places on of his militia regiments in the chapel grounds

Brigadier Able surveys his troops at Greenfield

Cornwall began his advance, but the pace was dreadfully slow, the light infantry were anything but light on their feet.  Catcalls from Fraser's  and a rebuke from Scarlet barely increased the speed of advance and by the time the light infantry crested the hill the militia defending the chapel had had plenty of time to prepare a volley of welcome.  However, the volley was not effective and a reply from the light infantry picked off a few rebel officers perhaps lowered the resolve of the defenders.  Meanwhile, the 28th and 55th had moved into position and began to fire at the militia holding the road by the chapel.  Their volleys took their toll on the militia and feeling they had done enough, they fell back behind the supporting continental infantry.

Cornwall's men move over the hill

In the centre, the wood was, as expected, held by rebel riflemen.  These were engaged by the Hessian jaeger, who continued to advance and once in close range charged.  The riflemen were caught at a disadvantage, not only having no bayonets, but also opposed by two units, as von Donop had also charged, supporting the jaeger.  In a very one-sided melee the riflemen took heavy casualties and ran for their own lines.  Von Danzig had achieved stage one of his orders, but the terrain made exploitation of his success difficult.

The Hessians drive off the riflemen

On the right, von Mirbach and the artillery were exchanging volleys with the rebel line.  In addition the Hessians were coming under fire from riflemen in the woods on the extreme left of the rebel position.  Von Danzig saw that the grenadiers would need to move further to the right to have any field of fire, so he sent orders for them to move to the other side of the road and then attack the woods, driving off the riflemen. He could really have done with von Donop's musketeers to support von Mirbach, who were beginning to suffer from the fire from two rebel units and artillery placed by the road.  However, von Donop had followed the jaeger into the woods and become disordered in the process.  There was success, the grenadiers had advanced quickly, fired a volley and were preparing to charge when they saw that the enemy riflemen had not stood their ground; they were falling back in a hurry towards Greenfield.

Cornwall was still struggling to get some impetus into his attack.  Although the militia had been driven from the chapel grounds by the Light Infantry, his opponent, Brigadier Bannister was leading another unit up to support the militia who still held the building.  The light infantry fired at the new arrivals, causing a wavering in the ranks.  With the militia halted and the regimental officers plus Bannister trying to keep them in place, the light infantry had time to fire again.  Although the militia didn't break, there was a significant casualty; Bannister was felled by one of the shots and taken from the field mortally wounded.  To their credit, his brigade continued to stand their ground, although General Browne did, on reviewing the overall situation, order the militia to fall back to the ridge.

The Continental infantry by the chapel continued their musketry duel with the 28th and 55th, both sides taking casualties.  Weight of numbers eventually told  and the Continentals broke and had to be rallied far to the rear by General Browne.

The Continentals rout under pressure from the 28th and 55th 

The militia which had previously suffered from the musketry of the 28th and 55th were now exposed to it once again.  Although they were covered by the wall of the chapel enclosure their morale was brittle and two telling volleys proved too much.  They fled, only stopping several miles to the rear. 
The militia rout
Browne was growing anxious about his right wing.  He had only 3 units left and they had all taken casualties.

On the rebel left Brigadier Able was also worried.  The riflemen ejected from the woods by the Hessian grenadiers were reluctant to return to the fray and his other rifle unit, which had been bested by the Hessian jaeger was in a parlous state.  The militia holding the road between the central wood and Greenfield was starting to show signs of breaking and his artillery were almost out of ammunition.  His fears about the militia proved all too correct as a volley from the grenadiers routed them, leaving the gun unsupported. 
Another militia unit routs

Able was fairly confident the Continental infantry in the second line would hold their ground, but he needed more pressure to be brought to bear on the Hessian infantry, to prevent them advancing any closer to the vital crossroads.  He therefore ordered the militia holding Greenfield to advance to the fences at the edge of the settlement and fire on the von Mirbach musketeers.  This they did to good effect, supported by the Continental infantry and it proved too much for the Hessians who broke and had to be rallied at the rear by von Danzig.

Brigadier Able was not allowed to bask in the glow of this success for long.  The Hessian grenadiers and artillery turned on the militia and exacted a heavy toll with their fire.  It all proved too much and the militia routed, heading for the ridge in the rear of the rebel position.  Their was a pause while von Danzig led the reformed von Mirbach back to the fight.  They and the artillery then began to concentrate on the Continental infantry who were the last major obstacle to a Hessian advance to occupy Greenfield.  Von Danzig sent orders to the grenadiers to manoeuvre to bring their fire to bear as well, but in doing this they became entangled in the woods and it proved a lengthy process to reorder their lines.

The militia abandon Greenfield

On the Crown left, Cornwall was anticipating success, all it needed was for the Highlanders to see of the wavering militia facing them and the way would be open.  Fraser's advanced, supported by the grenadiers and fired a volley at the militia.  The rebels shrugged this off and fired a volley in reply.  Several officers were struck and the attack stalled.  As uncertainty began to rise in the ranks, a second volley, this time from the chapel, hit the Highlanders in the flank.  Uncertainty turned to panic and the Highlanders ran for the rear.

Fraser's rout

At this point we ran out of time.  The rebels were awarded a narrow victory as they had held the position and denied the Crown forces the opportunity to block the rebel lines of communication and supply.  However, this had been achieved at a high cost, with most of the remaining rebel units in a parlous state.  Not that the Crown forces were unscathed, they would take time to recover.  Once again the close terrain had made manoeuvre difficult and the various 'choke points' had enabled the rebels to gain a superiority in numbers.

A most enjoyable game, many thanks to Steve for hosting it.   

Friday, 22 January 2021

Plan for the year

Uncertain as the times are, it is always best to at least make an effort to have a bit of structure to what you would like to do for the next few months.  Up to easter the main project will be the Austrian fleet for the battle of Lissa (1866).  This is my part of a joint project with Steve, who will be painting up the Italian fleet.  The ships are produced by Spithead Models and come in four batches, the first at the end of last year and the remainder at monthly intervals this year, starting this month.  They are 1:1200 scale

Here are the first squadron of gunboats, four more are nearing completion

Hum, with her sisters Vellabich and Dalmat

Steve has assembled the Italians' frigate squadron, here are two of them

The next batch are Austrian Avisos and Italian ironclads, plenty to look forward to.  

In between the ship painting and rigging I hope to plod on with the Eastern Renaissance collections, Ottomans, Poles and Cossacks in particular, though at some stage I would like to fit in a couple of units of reiter for the Muscovites.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Border patrol: an eastern renaissance scenario for Pike and Shotte

 Just before Christmas Steve and I managed to fit in a skype game.  I drew up a scenario where a unit of Muscovite border dragoons had been carrying out a patrol, watching the Cossack lands for any signs of impending raids.  Unfortunately, they strayed too close to the Cossack settlement and failing to get away, ended up in an old border fort.  A messenger had managed to get away and he roused the local provincial Muscovite forces to come to the rescue.  The Muscovite force consisted of two units of light cavalry, two of feudal cavalry, two units of urban streltsy and two of servant Cossacks. 

The initial set up of the Cossack force

Cossack force keeping an eye the fort

The Cossack commander had been told by his scouts that the Muscovites were on the way and drew up his force to cover the fort.  He had two units of Moloisty, a unit of Cossack musketeers and a small composite unit which was to keep an eye on the fort and stop the border dragoons sallying out.  In addition he had four units of light cavalry.  On the right was a unit of cavalry, the centre was held by the infantry, the musketeers between the units of moloisty.  Two cavalry units were on the left with the final unit held in reserve.  The Muscovite commander received reports of the Cossack deployment and decided to place all his cavalry on the right.  His four units of infantry were to advance and pin the Cossack foot whilst his cavalry, having the advantage of the weightier feudal cavalry would disperse the Cossack cavalry and then sweep round and envelop the Cossack line.

The Muscovite infantry prepare to advance

The Border Dragoons line the walls of the fort

The action began with the Muscovite light cavalry moving quickly forward, although the feudal cavalry were a little more cautious.  As he saw the mass of Muscovite cavalry bearing down on his left flank, the Cossack commander quickly galloped over to the right and led the unit of cavalry there across the battlefield to support the left wing.  Action was quickly joined with the Cossacks gaining the upper hand.  One unit of Muscovite light cavalry routed, the other held on, mainly because a unit of feudal cavalry  joined them in the melee.  The successful Cossack cavalry pursued their defeated opponents straight into the second unit of feudal cavalry.  In the resulting melee both sides fought themselves to a standstill and had to fall back to reform and rally. 

The Muscovites rout

One of the moloisty units had drifted across to the left, it's commander thinking its presence would support the cavalry and provide some fire support.  However, this did mean the Cossack infantry in the centre and right were now outnumbered two to one; if the Muscovite commander could organise a coordinated advance the Cossack position would be perilous.  This was proving difficult as although the streltsy were advancing steadily, the servant cossacks were far more reluctant

Cavalry action on the Cossack left

Overview of the battlefield
On the Cossack left the former right wing cavalry were now committed to the fray.  Their intervention tilted the melee in the Cossack favour once more and eventually the Miuscovite light cavalry broke, routing to the rear and pulling the feudal cavalry with them.  There was no pursuit, the Cossacks had paid a heavy price for their victory and would take time to recover.
The Cossack reinforcements arrive on the left

Towards the centre, the Cossack light cavalry resumed the attack against the feudal cavalry they had tussled with earlier.  Although they caught the Muscovites whilst they were still rallying, the Cossacks were unable to push home their advantage and ended up suffering such heavy casualties they routed to the rear.

The infantry action had now begun.  As the streltsy came in range the Cossack musketeers fired a volley which inflicted heavy casualties on the advancing Muscovites.  Undaunted, the streltsy charged, only to receive more casualties as they closed and then suffer heavily in the melee.  Even the support of their fellow streltsy unit couldn't hold them in position and they fell back in disorder.  At this point, the reserve cavalry unit which the Cossack commander had brought forward to support the infantry, now charged the hapless streltsy.  Caught at a severe disadvantage, the streltsy were overwhelmed and routed from the field.

The Cossack cavalry rout the streltsy

Meanwhile the Cossack musketeers, buoyed by their success, decided to charge the second streltsy unit. Although the Cossacks survived the closing volley, the streltsy then employed their berdische axes to good effect, inflicting heavy casualties on their assailants.  It proved too much for the musketeers and they routed, eventually being rallied close to the fort by the Cossack commander.  The moloisty unit on the right had managed to disorder one of the servant Cossack units by musketry, but a volley from the streltsy had caused them to fall back disordered.

The Cossack musketeers rout.

Surveying the field the Muscovite commander was not convinced he would manage to reach the dragoons in the fort.  Although his infantry had achieved some success, his cavalry were spent.  He ordered the advance to cease and what remained of his force to fall back to reform.  For his part, the Cossack commander assessed that his force was on the brink of defeat. Although his cavalry had the upper hand, all the units needed time to reform.  His infantry was reduced in effectiveness and may not resist another attack.  He summoned  the dragoons to surrender, offering them safe passage to their lines in return for their firearms and horses.  His offer was accepted by the dragoon commander and after the surrender both sides withdrew under cover of darkness.

An enjoyable action which could have gone either way.  The Cossack cavalry did better than expected against the feudal cavalry, but the musketeers should really have relied on their musketry rather than attack the streltsy.  Both sides struggled to coordinate their infantry due to the number of raw, militia units. 

Saturday, 19 December 2020

The Kingdom is Ours rules test

 Both Steve and I have picked up copies of these rules recently and although we are quite happy with how our in house version of Pike and Shotte works, we thought we would have a look at them to see if there were any useful mechanisms we could perhaps use.

The rules are described as fast play so we expected a fairly straightforward structure with a minimum of table checking and the quick resolution of shooting and combat.   There is quite a bit of variability built into the rules; you roll 2d6 to establish the quality of each unit, (except guns which always begin as 'good') and the required score for a particular quality varies for early war (1642/3) and late war (1644/5).  As with Pike and Shotte the ability of the commander is also diced for; the more able he is, the more commands he can issue each turn.  For our game Steve set up a simple terrain and one tercio per side; a tercio has 3 infantry units, 2 of cavalry and a gun.

The view from behind the Parliamentary lines, the objective is to control the crossroads.  Each side has a number of dice of a particular colour.  They place a total of dice into a bag or pot equal to the number of units, plus the number of dice dependent on the quality of the commander.  In addition, an extra dice of a different colour is put in the bag/pot; when this is drawn the turn ends.  Dice are drawn in turn, the colour denoting which army can try and carry out an order.  It is possible to issue up to three orders to a single unit.

Well, things started fairly slowly, the distance a unit moves is dependent on the total on a number of d6, 2 for infantry, (3 if charging), or 4 for cavalry (5 if charging).  This does lead to difficulty trying to co-ordinate an attack.  In addition, units outside the command radius of the general will need to dice to see if they receive the order, with only one commander this can lead to some units failing to move at all, as happened to us.  Once the dice to end the turn is drawn, action ceases and then the 'random events' phase starts.  A d10 is thrown for every unit in turn, plus the general, if it comes up 9 or 0 then two d10 are thrown and the total checked against an events table.  With 6 units, plus the general and a 1 in 5 chance of getting a 9 or 0, on average at least 1 of your units is going to be affected.  As you would expect some events are positive, other less so.  Ammunition, status (ordered/disordered) and position can all change.

Shooting is a two or three three stage process, establish a possible hit, does it inflict a casualty, for mixed units is it pike or shot.  It takes 4 hits to remove a base and this inflicts a morale check.  Melee is similar, establish the number of dice to be rolled, then the number of potential hits, how many count and then, for mixed units, are they pike or shot.

In three hours play we managed almost 4 turns (one of which involved only 4 or 5 units moving) and although it was a first attempt and over skype, it was hardly 'fast play'.   We felt that the influence of the  random events phase was too strong.  One turn, both commanders had to move a full move backwards, which took most of the army out of command radius.  There are quite a lot of tables to check for various phases and the playsheet runs to 5 pages in the book.  The main drawback however was the need for a 'unit tracker' for each unit.

Overall, we were not favourably impressed with the rules on this first run through.  They had some interesting ideas, for example only finding out your ammunition level after your first volley.  However, the basic things like firing and melee are 'clunky' and we felt that Pike and Shotte fitted our 'style' better.  We will try The Kingdom is Ours again, just to be fair to them, but they face an uphill struggle.