Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sharpe's Practice Game

Each summer I take up a project that usually goes into my wargaming class's curriculum the following summer.  This year I am putting together a collection to be able to do Sharpe's Practice for Napoleonics.  I have a large collection to do the French and Indian War that has proven to be a lot of fun.

I purchased three lots of figures from Blue Moon.  Company strength is 12 figures, 13 if there are two officers instead of just one.  I will have cavalry.  Each side will have a squadron made of of two troops with each troop being made up of 10 figures.  Both forces will also have a three gun battery of artillery including limbers and ammunition wagons.

The French infantry is made up of three battalions, two line and one light.  Each battalion has five companies, two of which are grenadiers and skirmishers.  The British have two battalions, the 1/28th and 1/42nd, made up the same as the French.  And then there are 15 figures for the 95th Rifles.

I tried out the figures in a small action pitting three companies of British, including the 95th, against a full French battalion of five companies.  Col. Fosdick of the 28th Foot has been given the task of defending a village against the advance guard of a French column.  I have run through several turns and the French appear to have a slight edge.  Col. Artois of the 63rd Ligne has successfully led two of his companies against the 95th Rifles.  He caught them with their Baker rifles unloaded and drove them back.  The Rifles lost their beloved sergeant in the hand to hand fighting for the garden wall.

Two Companies of the 63rd Ligne charge the garden wall.

Sharpe's men have been driven back, losing six men and suffering 7 fatigue points.
On the other flank, "B" company of the 28th has been able to hold off the 63rd's grenadier company.  The cover of the wall has given them a significant advantage in the firefight.  But while the grenadiers have been distracting "B" company, company "C" of the 63rd has worked its way to the British flank, threatening the entire position.
The grenadiers are taking losses trying to tie down "B" company

"C" company can be seen in the background attempting to get to the British flank
A detachment of "A" company is sent to bolster "C" company's position.

The detachment is surprised by the swift advance of the 63rd's "C" company.
I really enjoy this set of rules.  It reminds me of the battles my cousin and I would have in our backyard which always took on the feel of a movie plot.  Sharpe's Practice has that idea clearly in mind.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

French and Indian War Part Three

We wrapped up the battle we had begun on Monday.  This time, to make the game more enjoyable for everyone, we removed the Tiffen cards and placed several companies of reinforcements for both sides on the table.  Once the kids arrived we jumped right into it.

The action in the fort was filled with hand-to-hand combat.  British regulars and highlanders were able to scale the formidable walls, but they met with fierce resistance once inside.  The highlanders' grenadier company lost 50% of its strength in the bitter fighting.  Despite staggering casualties, at game's end it seemed that the British had the edge.
The fort at the beginning of the game
The fight within the fort

Highlanders joining the attack

Vicious battle to secure the gate
On the other end of the table, the British received five companies of the 45th Foot.  The French and Indians added several bands of militia and Indians.  This certainly favored the British players.  We were able to get through several turns over the course of the morning, but the redcoats made little headway in their attempt to capture the blockhouse and village.  They seemed to be more intent on slugging it out with the French than going around them to achieve their objectives.  Despite severe losses, the French clearly held both of their objectives.
The French are able to hold back the 45th and supporting militia units at the road, but at a heavy price.

The deciding factor in the game came down to who could eliminate more of their opponent's forces.  The British held a very slight edge in this department and that was the difference in the game.  The King's soldiers eked out a victory by the slimmest of margins.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

French and Indian War Part 2

Our action continued with a major change in procedure.  The battle was really two battles in one.  Using the same deck took a long time.  The players were very patient, but they are kids after all.  So we divided the deck between the two ends of the table and started that way.  It sped things up quite a bit.  After all the maneuvering yesterday, most of the units were in a position to fire, and that they did!

In the wooded portion, Roger's Rangers began with a definite edge.  They poured fatigue points on the inferior units facing them.  But the tide began to turn when two companies of French marines entered the fray.  These units were made up of 14 figures and were rated as elite.  This allowed them to throw a lot of dice and the damage to the British units was indicative of this.  By day's end, the Rangers were pretty much spent, but the Marine companies were in a fragile state as well.  A unit of militia actually made it into the confines of the Indian village, but were quickly driven out by a vicious counterattack.

In the woods to the north of the village a lone band of Indians was holding off three companies of Virginia militia.  They used the cover of the woods well and drove off a charge by a Virginia company.  But they ultimately succumbed to too many fatigue points and had to retire towards the village.  Both sides  were exhausted.

On the fort end of the table, the French just couldn't get their reinforcements to get into the battle.  The one unit that did accomplished a great deal, but being unsupported, it was shattered by combined volleys and had to withdraw.  Inside the fort, there were too few defenders to man the entire wall.  The 42nd Highlanders took some stiff casualties and lost a big man, but by the end of the day's fighting they had managed to establish a strong foothold within the walls.  The English definitely held the advantage on this end of the table.

We will fight out this scenario for one more day making another change to enhance play.  This time we will not use a Tiffen card.  This means that all units will get to move every turn.  We will also add reinforcements each turn so there will be fresh troops to fight with.  We'll see how that works.

Monday, July 20, 2015

French and Indian War with Sharpe's Practice Rules

Today we began a large skirmish game based on the French and Indian War.  It is giving me a chance to use my new Blue Moon fort.

I have 13 players and 3 assistants.  Not a lot happened today as it takes time with these rules to get into position.  But by day's end, things were beginning to pop.  At the more wooded end of the table, three companies of Roger's Rangers and two war parties of Indians emerged from the woods to attack an important block house that protects a bridge.  One French Indian party suffered heavily.  Balancing this out, a party siding with the British piled up 10 fatigue points and will have to retire on the next turn.

On the fort end of the table, the 28th Foot has maneuvered slowly but surely up the main road and has two or three companies deploying to attack.  The 42nd Highlanders are also approaching on the 28th's left.  A volley from the fort walls made one of the Scots a casualty.  The French commander has opened the gate to the fort and dispatched a company to try to slow the 28th's advance.  It also appears to be his intention to use his cannon outside the walls in hopes of evening the odds.

Early movement of the 28th Foot
Rangers and Indians making their way towards the block house through the woods.
French Marines entering the game

The first major firefight

The 28th continues to move towards the fort.

The grenadier company of the 28th gets to just outside musket range of the fort's gate.

Friday, July 17, 2015

SYW Mini Campaign Final Report

The last two days saw the campaign take several interesting twists and turns.  Day four began with turn 13 in our campaign.

Turn 13- Only the Prussians received reinforcements this turn, Treshkow's grenadier brigade entering on the Prussian left.  This only added to the traffic jam already in place there.  On the other end of the table, General Andlau was forced to take a "risk to general" test.  He rolled a three which meant his horse was startled and carried him into the enemy's lines and captivity.  His brigade was forced to take a morale check which it failed.  The Austrian left was in great peril as a result.  In the center, Zeiten's hussars storm the hill and drive back Ortzen's exhausted troopers.
Turn 14- The Austrian right is bolstered by the arrival of Sincere's brigade.  Counterbalancing this, Zeiten's victorious cavalry follow continue their gallant charge right into the tail of Wurben's column, destroying a battalion.  In addition, Lameth's cavalry charge on Waldus's line is beaten back by a volley roll of double six.  After a vicious fire fight in the woods, Bevern's Prussian brigade has reached a breaking point and is routed from the table.
Lameth's cavalry faltered by a staggering volley
Pressure builds on the Austrian right
Turn 15- Neither side receives reinforcement.  Zeiten's light cavalry continue to ravage Wurben's column.
On this turn it is General Von Luckner's fate to roll a three on the "risk to general" table and be captured by the enemy.
Prussian infantry and cavalry trying to get into the fight
Turn 16-  Both sides receive reinforcements as the battle heads into its climax.  Zeiten's hussars capture an Austrian battery while both Hulsen's and Von Zastrow's infantry brigades lumber towards the town.
Puebla's depleted brigade stubbornly holding on to a stone wall
At the end day four, based on possession of objective points, the score was tied.  The Austrians, despite numerous setbacks, were still in reach of a victory.  Day five would decide the final outcome.
Prussian/Hanoverian totals over four day.
Franco/Austrian totals
Turn 17- Both sides received reinforcements of cavalry on the Prussian right flank.  Most of the turn was devoted to regrouping and organizing for the final push for victory.
Prussians driving hard

Schonacht's veteran cavalry brigade enters the fray
Turn 18- Only the Austrians receive reinforcements, Bethany's infantry brigade, and they head directly to the imperiled center.  The rolls don't go the Prussians' way, and both Hulsen and Von Bishenhausen are forced to retire.  This vacates some key possession points and the Prussian victory is in definite danger.  Adding to the anxiety, two Austrian cavalry charges succeed in securing a bridge worth 50 points on the Austrian right.
Bethanyi's infantry advancing towards the center

Hanoverians attacking in the center
Turn 19- The game is definitely winding down now.  On the Prussian right, Waldus changes his orders to assault a farm and field in a desperate bid to secure some critically important points. Several other charges take place, but none will have an effect on the outcome.
Austrian cavalry capture both ends of the vital bridge
Turn 20- All eyes are focused on a single line of Waldus's battered infantry as it attempts to capture a farm and field on the extreme right flank.  Despite having lost 25% of its number, the stalwart line passes its morale check to charge and in it goes.  The garrison of the farm is not so fortunate, rolling a 3 for their moral, which forces them to retreat.  The farm is captured along with the field.

As the players and I adjourned to discuss the week, my assistants took a final tally of points.  Amazingly, the total stood at 400 points for the Austrians and 400 points for the Prussians.  The Prussians had somehow snatched a draw out of the jaws of victory.  Regardless of the outcome, every player had a terrific time and was able to cite a highlight that they would carry with him or her for a long time to come.  It was a great week and great fun, just as our hobby was meant to be.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SYW Campaign Day Three

We began the day on turn ten.  To this point the Franco/Austrians had been enjoying a great deal of success.  Their cavalry won every engagement it was involved in and their infantry had pinned the Prussian deep in their own territory.  In fact, they had been so successful that they were directing Ortzen's cavalry and arriving reinforcements to help out on the beleaguered left flank.

Things began to unravel, however, when Zeiten's Prussian hussars entered the game at took Ortzen's horsemen completely by surprise.  On turn eleven, they came storming across the bridge and smashed a regiment of Austrian dragoons.  On the pursuit test, they rolled low and continued on into a line of Von Daun's grenadiers.  The Austrian center was in trouble.
Zeiten's hussars strike swiftly
Zeiten's hussars continue their charge into a line of grenadiers which would be destroyed the next turn.

Things also we becoming dire on the Austrian right.  Hadik's cavalry brigade, though successful early on, had suffered tremendous losses and would fail their brigade morale check at the end of the turn.  D'Air's infantry charged Bevern's battery.  In determining the outcome the battery rolled double sixes.  It was not enough to win, but if forced a test to see if D'Air would become a casualty.  The roll was low and our first general officer of the game was killed.  And all the while, three fresh brigades of Prussians, including veteran cavalry and grenadiers, were pouring onto the table on this flank.
Hadik's cavalry meeting their end

Battered Bavarians gain ground, but lose their commander in the process

Hoards of Prussian reinforcements enter the field
Turn twelve was the last of the day.  As a lull came over the field, both Von Daun's and Puebla's Austrian brigades failed brigade morale checks and were forced to withdraw.  Adding insult to injury, they didn't roll high enough to bring on any much needed reinforcements this turn.  Andlau was bringing pressure on the village on the left flank, but Waldus's Prussians were on the attack and close to cutting him off.  Only Lameth's French cavalry will be able to intervene.  There is no Prussian horse on this end of the table to check them.
Andlau's men attempting to take a portion of the village.
The day ended having just started turn 13.  Two more days of gaming to go.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SYW Mini Campaign Day Two

We began the day wrapping up turn five with a cavalry melee between Prussians and Austrians.  For the fourth time, the Austrians bested their counterparts.  With that, we were on to turn six.

The remnants of the Hanoverian cavalry in the center boldly charged across the bridge to attack Ortzen's brigade.  Once again, numbers told in favor of the Austrian horse and the Hanoverians were forced back across the bridge.  Wrecklessly, a regiment of Austrian dragoons pursued them.  On the Prussian right, Puebla and Andlau's Austrians advanced on Von Kaitz's brigade.  Musketry plus cannister from a heavy battery inflicted terrible casualties on the white-clad infantry men.  In the center, the turn saw both sides continue to blast away at each other with cannon and disciplined volleys.
Von Kanitz greets the Austrian advance with a heavy dose of cannister

Bevern's Prussians slugging it out with D'Air's Bavarians

A second bold charge by Hanoverian horsemen
On turn seven, a brigade of French entered the allied center as reinforcements.  None were to arrive for the Prussians.  On the Austrian right, Hadik's cavalry was charged by a plucky group of Hessian hussars.  The outnumbered hussars met with a swift defeat, losing 75% of their number.  In the center, the Austrian engineers were able to complete their pontoon bridge.  Unfortunately, it was built right across from a well sited Prussian battery.  The weary engineers muttered to themselves as they overheard their commanders talking about relocating the as yet unused span.

The pursuing Austrian dragoons were peppered with musketry and scores of saddles were emptied.  Despite this, they closed with the Hanoverian horsemen and succeeded in driving them from the field.  The Prussians are the first to lose a brigade.

Von Kanitz administered more punishment on the Austrians before him.  The inexperienced commanders were realizing their mistake of not deploying their artillery to aid in the attack. 
The Austrian pontoon bridge.

Rash Austrian dragoons being fired upon by a host of infantry

Von Kanitz enjoying firing at the hapless Austrian infantry
Turn eight- This turn saw the completion of the Prussian pontoon bridge.  But all the units waiting for it could not change orders from hold to assault.  Such are the fortunes of war.

Despite their heavy losses, Andlau charges a battalion at an elite battalion of Prussians.  The men in miter caps roll snake eyes on their morale check, but still pass due to their elite status and defeat the enemy.  The resulting retreat unforms the supporting battalions it has to pass through.  The Austrian left is in serious trouble.  However, General Bevern's men are repulsed by D'Air's Bavarians, which appears to balance things out.  Also on this turn, both sides receive reinforcements; Von Luckner's militia and Waldner's French brigade.
Andlau's disorganized men

The Prussian pontoon bridge.

Monday, July 13, 2015

SYW Campaign Day One

Today we began a week of fighting out a fictional SYW campaign pitting Austrians and French against Prussians and Hanoverians.  Both sides have seven players, each commanding a brigade.  There are four fields, eight built up areas and two bridges on each side.  These are the objectives of the campaign.  Points are also awarded for destroying enemy brigades.  The rule set we are using is Die Kriegskunst, a variation of the General de Brigaade rules.

After briefing the players we got right to the action.  We were able to get through four and a third turns.

The Franco/Austrian center with several objective points in view.

An overview of the table.  Prussians to the left, Austrians to the right.

The Prussian left flank
Turn One- The Austrians set out aggressively to attack into Prussian territory.  In the center, a brigade of Austrian cavalry was able to move swiftly to attack a vital bridge in the Prussian center.

Turn Two- Our first action of the game came quickly as a Hanoverian cavalry brigade attempted to defend the contested bridge.  The result was a severe punishing of the Hanoverian horse as they were outnumbered.  One regiment was eliminated from play and the other two were driven back across the bridge as a result of a brigade morale test.
The first action of the game, a cavalry charge!
Turn Three- The victorious Austrian cavalry try to regroup after their success while a brigade of grenadiers comes up to offer support.  Two other Austrian infantry brigades advance on the left to attack a town worth 100 points.  But a brigade of Prussians arrive at the town first and organize a defense.

On the Austrian right, another cavalry fight is looming as Hakik's Austrian cavalry maneuvers to attack Von Spaen's elite Prussians.

Turn Four-  Reinforcements are rolled for each turn and if they arrive, a second die is tossed to see where they enter.  On turn four a Hessian brigade arrives on the Prussian left flank.  Though they are very poor quality, there are a lot of them and they have both infantry and cavalry.

Hadik's cavalry are successful driving back a Prussian cuirassier regiment, mostly due to  superior numbers.  Other units moved into position to enter the action on turn 5.
Austrian cavalry successful a second time.

Turn Five- The day was drawing to a close, but in the waning minutes we were able to get through the movement phase of the turn.  No reinforcements entered for either side.  Von Spaen and Hadik were locked in a tremendous clash on the Austrian right.  In the center, the remnants of the Hanoverian cavalry brigade crossed the bridge to attack a strategic hill in the center of the table which is being defended by Ortzen's Austrian horse.  Two Austrian brigades, those of Puebla and Andlau, are preparing to attack the town on the Prussian right center.  As action begins tomorrow there will be a lot at stake.

Hessian deploying at day's end.

Prussian battalion secures a strategic farm

Hanoverian cavalry attacking a strategic hill, hoping for better results this time.
While the Austrians had enjoyed significant success, the Prussians actually held the advantage in points as they had taken the time to split off units to garrison various built up areas and fields.  The Austrians bypassed many of the objectives on their side of the table, leaving them for reinforcing brigades to secure so they could be more aggressive overall.  Their strategy appears to be working.