Gaming Weekend Day 1: The Battle of Hoffen 1870

Last weekend I was privileged to take part in, and share the hosting duties for, a 4 player gaming extravaganza that more than lived up to expectations. I was offering massed 6mm on day 1 and Simon provided a large 28mm skirmish game on the 2nd day. Our guests Iain and Andy came from opposite ends of the country to do battle, socialise and exchange banter. We even squeezed in an excellent night out between games.

On Saturday morning everyone picked up a baton and took command of a corps in a Franco-Prussian War battle between 50,000 French and 60,000 Germans. I (as General Douay of VII Corps) assisted Iain (Marshal MacMahon, I Corps) in attempting to hold the important (but slightly fictitious) town of Hoffen, near the border on day 2 of the German invasion. Fighting alongside each other, but with neither in overall command, Simon took the role of Prussian General Kirchbach of V Korps
and Andy was General Von der Tann with the Bavarian I Korps.

The French had a division from each corps already on the table. They had arrived the day before and camped, digging in a little, overnight. The Prussians and Bavarians were marching onto the field from the north, unsure of each other’s position or that of the enemy. Everyone had a number of arrival points for their marching columns and reinforcements. These were pre-determined by the players for new arrivals before each turn and led to some interesting dispositions and confrontations.

The table before the battle:

 

 



Unfortunately my usual camera was away from home, so these pictures were taken on my phone. Hopefully they at least convey the gist of how things looked.

In typical wargamer style, not everyone had read the briefing or the introduction to the rules (To the Last Gaiter Button by Realtime Wargames). I set the scene to the uninitiated, and provided lots of coffee to help.. Nevertheless, before too long hordes of horse, foot and guns were trampling over the previously tranquil Alsace countryside and some serious fighting erupted across several miles of front.

I threw my French forward to stop Andy’s Bavarian horde from enveloping Hoffen from the east, and managed to put a dent in his advance, tying up his forward troops and drawing in reserves. Iain and Simon competed to build up the stronger force to the west of the town, using newly arriving formations wherever they could to keep the initiative.

Early moves:

 

The battle in full flow:

 

The escalating fight to the west of Hoffen, between the French and Prussians:

 

My beleaguered French in the village of Seigen which they used as a bastion against the Bavarians (I borrowed these beautifully scratchbuilt buildings, and some of the trees, from a very generous friend):

French cavalry launch a desperate charge, which took the fight out of the Bavarians in the same turn that the Prussians to the west reached a similar state of exhaustion:

It was a close thing though, and a few more turns might have allowed the Germans to capture the town. It wasn’t to be, however, and in the end they had to fall back to await assistance from the rest of 3rd Army before trying again.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the game and got to grips with the rules (which are very different to the norm) pretty quickly. The Germans never really got their artillery superiority into play fully, which was probably down to my hasty pre-game rules briefing which seems to have led to the commanders deploying their guns a little early! Oh well, it was only day 2 of the war and they’d have to learn as they went back in the day too!

The Chassepot did its bit, the Mitrailleuses were unpredictable and quickly targeted, and the Zouaves seemed to fight ferociously when cornered. With the cavalry being used as expendable shock troops (as they sometimes were in the war) the game provided a decent flavour of the period, and especially the command and control challenges experienced by the generals.

For another perspective, a very good write up and lots more pictures visit Andy’s site: Belisarius.org

It was a great day, and we topped it off with a night out in Newark, enjoying beer, curry and some strong spirits to finish. The full English breakfast in the hotel was very welcome in the morning, and got us going ready to tackle whatever Simon had in store for us on the Sunday – part 2 to follow..

The Vanguard – A Sharp Practice AAR

Before everything got tidied away it would have been rude not to have had a final Sharp Practice bash, so I did.

I decided to try more of a stand up fight so this time the scenario was straightforward – the Medetians were launching a campaign into Fleurian territory and their vanguard needed to clear the way by exiting at least 2 groups and a big man off the Fleurian table edge within 12 turns. The Fleurians needed to stop them of course. It was a deliberate attempt to get a few more figures on the table and see how the rules dealt with it.

The defending Fleurians were partly in place (occupying a roadside farm in the middle of the table) but mostly advancing from their own baseline. They had a force under the newly painted Major Mauzac, made up of:

32 light infantry in 3 groups
20 line infantry in 2 groups
1 light gun and 5 crew
12 militia cavalry in 2 groups
3 additional Big Men

The Medetians were under the fit-again Major Nebbiolo, assisted by a command group of 4 other Big Men. Between them they commanded:

10 bersaglieri riflemen in 1 group
50 line infantry in 5 groups
24 grenadiers in 2 groups
1 light gun and 5 crew
10 hussars in 1 group

I’ve decided to go with fixed group sizes depending on troop quality; elite, average and poor. Infantry are in groups of 12, 10 and 8 respectively and cavalry are in groups of 10, 8 and 6. Some of the Medetian infantry were on group bases to assist with the early moves in particular, and I was trying out some new markers I’d made up for various things (such as for groups who’ve lost their Bottle and to keep track of some of the random events).

With a game limit of only 12 turns, and a card-driven turn sequence that ends on the turning of a certain card, the Medetians had to attack from the start to have a chance of beating the clock. They were in pre-determined groupings that would be allocated at random once the blinds were successfully spotted by the enemy. With more troops involved I managed to use formations for the first time, each side forming a line during the battle to ease command and control and increase firepower.

 

 

The fighting built up slowly but became pretty intense once the Medetian infantry advanced into the open. The Fleurian elite voltigeurs were particularly unfortunate, being targeted by the bersaglieri rifles and eventually being run down by the hussars. Equally, the Medetian grenadiers were badly shot up in front of the farm, and the right flank was very slow in coming forward to support them (held up by poor luck with the cards and the fire from the Fleurian light gun). These right flank troops seemed to suffer from a general lack of discipline on the day, with a man passing out drunk and careless musketry causing the adjacent barn to catch fire and burn down!

 

 

 

 

Despite the grenadiers’ woes a Medetian success looked likely, however, with numbers beginning to tell on the left. However, a few unexpected reverses and a surprisingly tough stand by the Fleurian militia cavalry put everything in doubt. Two groups of infantry were therefore ordered to form up in line and marched forward to try to break through. Things then descended into a series of violent melees that saw victory within the Medetians’ reach.

 

 

 

At the start of the 12th turn Major Nebbiolo (sporting a sprained ankle) had to try to get into line of sight to order the hussars to join the rifles in moving off the Fleurian table edge. He had to use all the available Grasp the Nettle cards and roll a big enough move to do it – he rolled an 11 and even with the penalties for his injury he made it and ordered the 2 groups to move, winning the battle and forcing a Fleurian retreat. A close run thing, but very entertaining to play.

The final turn, with Nebbiolo (between the flag and drummer) finding the hussars frustratingly out of sight behind the trees:

Once again there were casualties among the leaders, although still nothing terminal. Notably Ensign Lambrusco again did well but this time succumbed to a bad wound and was carried off the field by his men. I’m sure he’ll be back when I play again. For now, though, I’d better get back to the painting table!

The Attack on the Griffon Inn – a Sharp Practice solo game

With the table still set up I thought I’d have another game of Sharp Practice, like you do. So, the Fleurians decided to take revenge for the recent Medetian reconnaissance raid that had caused so much bother.

A little to the south of the bridge scene from the last game sits the village of Chiesa, with the Griffon Inn (a favourite haunt of off-duty Medetian officers and a regular stop-over for wealthy merchants) nearby. Burning the inn down, capturing idle officers and possibly making off with a bit of loot would be a good way to pay the enemy back – and in the detested, but tough, Major de Grenache, the Fleurians had just the man for the job.

The Griffon:

De Grenache gathered a raiding party from his regiment, made up of 20 line infantry, with a further 20 chasseurs and 12 elite voltigeurs drawn from the light companies. He was assisted by a junior officer and a veteran sergeant. The force approached the inn at dawn, entering the table on blinds and moving swiftly forward.

The unsuspecting Medetians were scattered and asleep, with only a single sentry (who turned out to be sleeping on the job..) posted. Major Nebbiolo was in the Griffon after a bawdy night, with some riflemen down in the taproom and a group of line infantry camped in the trees behind the yard. In the village were young Ensign Lambrusco and Sergeant Gerduzzo, who between them commanded a further group of infantry, one of elite grenadiers, and a light gun with its crew.

The sleeping sentry (his card failed to come up for the first 3 turns) was surprised (to say the least) when the Fleurians sprang out of the early morning mist and made straight for him! He legged it and called out his alert but was captured before he get get over the wall and rejoin his comrades. The net was closing in and the Medetians were still stumbling from their beds and blankets.

 

 

First to react, the grenadiers looked decently smart when they piled out of their village billets and took up a defensive position:

Table overview at this point, the Medetians haven’t exactly established a defensive line yet:

Things soon descended into typical chaos and violence as the fighting began. The grenadiers held the flank and their fire forced the voltigeurs to seek cover in the trees. In proper grenadier fashion Sergeant Gerduzzo led them in the first of several bayonet charges and routed the enemy skirmishers, before following on to offer support to the beleaguered Major and his rifles at the inn.

The rifles had done well initially, spilling from the front door and shooting down a number of the enemy attackers, Major de Grenache among them. He slumped to the ground where his men, grateful to be freed from his vile oppression, happily left him and followed the second in command over the wall and into melee with Major Nebbiolo and the riflemen.

 

 

The Medetian Major was struck down too and his remaining men were pursued into the building where, despite a death-or-glory charge back down the stairs after they’d taken refuge above, the last 3 men dropped their weapons and surrendered to the victorious Fleurians. The new Medetian leader, Captain Verona (also wounded in the fighting) derring-do’d his way out of the upstairs window and hurt himself again as he came down in a merchant’s wagon out the back..

A little dazed, he took charge of the men who’d been camping behind the inn and tried to regain control of the situation. Unfortunately for him, Captain Corbieres had stepped into de Grenache’s shoes, as it were, and led his men on a successful ransack of the Griffon, before setting fire to the spirit store and evacuating again via the front door.

The fighting continued with both sides blazing away and the artillery piece taking pot-shots when any Fleurians wandered (or were chased) into view. There was plenty of hand-to-hand as the Fleurians sought to get away, their mission complete. Both Captain Corbieres and his adversary Ensign Lambrusco (valiantly leading a charge in his first action) received light wounds in these clashes. Eventually the remaining Fleurians who hadn’t already routed made a fighting withdrawal and the exhausted, and equally bloodied, Medetians let them go.

The inn burnt to the ground while the Medetians tended to their wounded (including Major Nebbiolo), and dragged the bleeding and abandoned Major de Grenache into captivity. With both his senior officers wounded, 18 year old Ensign Lambrusco found himself temporarily in charge of the mess but, like any sensible Medetian young gentleman fresh from the academy, he started to make order out of chaos and soon forgot the pain of his bandaged arm. Welcome to the war!

Good fun and plenty going on every turn, the Sharp Practice rules make solo play a pleasure and all the prep has certainly been worthwhile.

Return Journey – Sharp Practice Solo Game, Part 2

Following the steady build-up of troops on the table, after a few turns things started to kick off. I’d rolled randomly for which Fleurian groups were on which blind, and sure enough the cavalry suddenly appeared, making for the middle of the table to cut off the enemy. The Medetians looked warily to their right but were ordered to march on.

 

The riflemen in the farmyard took a shot as the hussars swept past and managed to empty a saddle, but the rest rode on:

The rifles had problems of their own, however, and an enemy infantry group almost reached them with a charge from the woods. Halting just on the other side of the fence the Fleurians taunted the riflemen, challenging them to a rumble:

Remembering their mission, the rifles said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and made a hasty departure:

At that point the Hussars hit the lead infantry group, winning the close fight and wounding Captain Gattinara. Although pushed back, the Medetians refused to run and were saved by their comrades in the other infantry group, (and the rifles) who charged the cavalry in turn and saw them off with heavy casualties. That was the last we saw of the horsemen in this game.

 

At the bridge, the artillery held back the Fleurian Chasseurs and managed to wound Captain Corbieres. A long firefight ensued between the Fleurians trying to close the bridge escape route, and the defending Medetians, who were increasingly aided by their arriving comrades under Captain Gattinara.

 

 

The rifles continued their excellent work, acting as rearguard and stopping the pursuit in its tracks:

Several of the final turns were cruel to the Fleurians, with the Cappuccino Card (replacing the Tiffin Card – we are in southern Europe after all) ending them before their Big Men could act. With the Medetians able to pour in enough effective firepower to build up Shock on their pursuers, they eventually managed drive them back from the bridge, and prevent a final counter-attack.

Wounded but victorious, Captain Gattinara was the last to cross the bridge. He turned to salute the similarly injured Captain Corbieres and marched his men off into the woods. The Medetians had suffered only light casualties and had succeeded in their mission, bringing back valuable intelligence from behind enemy lines. The Fleurians had lost many more men, and these units would be in no state to fight again for some time.

The game was great fun, with the cards providing suspense and drama (Captain Gattinara fleeing in fear and dragging his men away with him just as they were nearly at the bridge for the first time, being a particular classic!). The characters have begun to take on a bit of personality already and I look forward to returning to this small part of the Medetian Wars soon. Next post will contain a few summary comments and observations about how I got on with the rules, etc.

Return Journey – Solo Sharp Practice

With the cards and figures done, and the terrain still on the table, there was no excuse but to try a first solo game of Sharp Practice at the weekend. I devised a relatively simple scenario based on a Medetian reconnaissance force making its way back to its own lines after its mission, and a force of Fleurians attempting to cut them off before they could do so.

The Medetians (2 groups of infantry and 1 of rifles) were led by Captain Gattinara, assisted by a Sergeant. Waiting for them back at the bridge they were making for was Lieutenant Apricale with a further group of infantry and a light gun, with orders not to cross the river but to provide covering fire for the recce force.

The Fleurians were under Captain Corbieres of the Chasseurs who was accompanied by a scratch force made up of 2 groups of light infantry, 2 of line infantry, and 1 of hussars. He was assisted by a Lieutenant and a Sergeant.

The Medetians would start in the top left corner of the table, as seen in the (unfortunately slightly blurred) pic below, the Fleurians on blinds in the bottom left along the river bank, and the bridge defence force was tucked into the trees on the Medetian side of the river, with a sentry on lookout duty in the watermill’s attic.

Lt Apricale’s force covering the river crossing:

 

First on the scene – the Medetian riflemen approach the rear of the farm and dash through to take up a position to cover the flank of the rest of the column (first enemy blinds in the distance making for the mill and the bridge beyond):

 

First to deploy off their blind are the Fleurian line troops, their paint still fresh(!):

The Medetian sentry has done his bit and races back to warn Lt Apricale that the enemy are coming down the road towards him, with the recce group nowhere in sight. Alone, and chased by enemy Chasseurs, the sentry managed a fear-inspired roll of double 6 for his movement! He slows down and tries to look nonchalant as he makes his report:

A long way off still, the main recce group starts hot-footing it towards the river, Captain Gattinara urging them on:

Fleurian Chasseurs are already at the mill though..

The rifles take the first shot of the day, earning their pay by putting a good amount of shock on the nearest enemy as they try to sneak close through the trees:

Back at the bridge, Apricale sees the enemy for himself and calls out to ready his men, ordering the gun crew to traverse left a little:

 

Things are about to hot up!

Part 2 to follow, mainly to keep the number of pictures to a manageable number per post.

The Raid on St Evian – The Action

On came the raiding force, by boat from the south west and with wagons from the east. The militia sentry at the bridge stumbled sleepily from his guard hut, gave a cry of alarm and was promptly cut down as the Medetians raced over the bridge.

The landing by boat to the west of the town went reasonably smoothly, with only a couple of landlubbers falling into the water. From there, the Medetians went to work raiding the town for liquid loot and dealing decisively with the piecemeal town defences.

There was some tough fighting in places, especially once the Fleurian garrison officers got embroiled, but Captain Corleone’s men were generally able to retain the initiative. Simon kept his eye on the victory conditions and made sure he always held some men out of the fighting to secure the barrels of Marc as they were discovered, and load them on the wagons (and eventually the boats too).

Some of the main highlights, events and fun bits:

  • The look on Simon’s face when the previously unseen militia cannon muzzle rumbled up over the fort’s parapet to aim at his wagon train on the bridge (one Ox and one unfortunate soldier were all it hit during the game but the morale effect was far greater!).
  • The early morning huntsman who happened to be in the woods when the Medetians came ashore, and who promptly shot one of them dead before leading the others a merry dance through the woods.
  • The fort garrison’s ‘Keystone Cops’ impression as they attempted to embark in their boat and row swiftly to the town to aid in its defence. Officers fell in the water at both the start and end points of the journey which took about 6 turns in all (repeated movement rolls of 1″ made it the slowest crossing in the recorded history of St Evian).

 

  • Determined (but generally ineffective) defenders behind almost every door in town, seeking to protect their own share of the collectively produced booze.
  • The hapless Medetian soldier who kicked in the church doors only to take a musket ball to the chest as the enraged monks put up a spirited defence. Unfortunately for them the next man through the door was Lieutenant Zanetti who carved his way through them, and the priest, in just 2 turns of expert swordsmanship.
  • The Medetian company marksman who single-handedly held off a late garrison sortie which threatened to cut the road and re-capture the wagons. In a game where shooting isn’t usually all that effective he managed to kill 3 enemies with 3 shots and survive a round of combat with a superior opponent. Both of us were pleased to see him make a heroic exit with the last wagon, to be able to return to fight another day.
  • The final desperate melee involving key leaders from both sides, as Captain Corleone led a rear-guard action back down the main street towards the boats. The presence of the Medetian standard bearer probably saved the day when he granted a single die re-roll to the Captain. It came up a 6 and allowed him to win a fight that had looked likely to spell his doom.

When the dust and smoke had cleared, the Medetians had managed to make off with 28 points worth of the Marc de St Evian. With 25 points required for a win, Simon had succeed in his mission – and still had half his men left. A good result! It had been close though, one smashed wagon wheel would have been enough, but the dozy militia gunners missed too many shots at the departing wagons to stop one of them.

 

The game was a lot of fun, and as before the rules (GW’s Legends of the High Seas/Lord of the Rings) provided lots of cinematic moments and enough flavour to enjoy this swashbuckling period. Thanks go to Simon for his excellent company and the positive spirit with which he threw himself into the game.

The Raid on St Evian – Derring Do in the era of the Three Musketeers

Simon came over for a game this weekend, and we decided to return to the 17th century skirmish setting we first played about a year ago (the picture above on the blog banner is from that game). Once again the Medetians and the Fleurians went at it hammer and tongs in a very entertaining and eventful clash that saw Simon successfully complete his mission, although it was a close run thing at the end.

Rather than a blow by blow account, I just intend to draw together some pictures and a description of some of the highlights, but I will first set the scene on what the game was about..

From the Medetian player briefing that Simon received:

The Setting
While the
main war is being waged to the south, you, Captain Corleone of the Medetian
army, have been sent north with your company to cause havoc on the Fleurian
side of the border. One of your agents (spies) has reported that the town of St
Evian, known for its delicious and expensive brandy (Marc de St Evian), is
readying a valuable shipment for sending south to the capital. Capturing this
lucrative export commodity before the Royal flotilla arrives to collect it is
just the sort of thing you were sent to do, considering the loss of revenue and
prestige it will inflict on King Francis. You might even make a bit of profit
on the side yourself..
St Evian lies
to the north west of your present camp and you are advised that the small fishing
village of Bardot, two miles upstream to the south, has boats that can be
appropriated for your mission (to add surprise and to aid your withdrawal if
necessary). Also, ensuring that you have eyes on the river and cannot therefore
be surprised from upstream is crucial. St Evian itself is relatively remote and
served by a single road. The lightly wooded Petit Dern allows for a stealthy
approach away from the road and is open enough for your wagons to pass through.
 
Area Map

 

Objective

 

Capture at
least 25 barrels worth of Marc de St Evian, by having them in your control or
carried off the table at the end of the game. Large casks count as 4 barrels
worth, medium as 2 and small as 1.

Simon selected his force for the mission, comprising a decent total of 32 figures, and received some sketchy reconnaissance information about the geography of St Evian and the make-up of its defences. He divided his men between the road and river approaches and was then introduced to the table (which was, as always, a pleasant, tranquil scene before the carnage started):

 

As you can see, it was an opportunity to use the water base boards, river banks and jetties, etc. The table size was 6’x4′. I’d prepared a scattered and disparate Fleurian defence, made up of a small garrison of regulars in the fort, a militia company that had to assemble on the alarm being raised, various locals and travelling gentlemen who were determined to see off the vile invader (and defend their valuable booze), and lastly some clergy with a zero tolerance approach to people trying to nick their share of the liquor. I ran things as a ‘game master’ to provide Simon with a few surprises and to continue the narrative from the briefing.

All the action in the next post..

Refighting the War of the Spanish Succession

This week I’ve been playing through a full session of the boardgame ‘No Peace Without Spain!’ by Compass Games – the War of the Spanish Succession in its entirety. This is a game I’ve had for a little while and been keen to play, but have lacked the time to really give it a go. It’s designed as a 2-player game but like many, solo play is possible and still a lot of fun.

I’m not going to do a full review, as there are already a number of these online, but my overall opinion is that it’s an excellent game that does a very good job of capturing the high level strategy of the war. I gives players the challenge of choosing how to use the limited resources available and makes the campaigns, battles and even the sieges exciting and fun to play through.

Overview pic (click to enlarge as always):

It’s also nicely presented, with good quality components (although it’s a shame the map isn’t hard-backed) and goes into just the right amount of detail for the types of operations you undertake at this strategic level. There are historically appropriate events that occur (such as Savoy changing sides, French financial collapse, etc), often causing disruption to your plans for the year. The rules are rated as moderately complex, and once I’d played a few turns they were fairly easy to remember (although I’m sure I didn’t get everything right initially!). Mechanisms were certainly nice and straight forward, giving believable results every time.

It’s a war that’s always been of interest to me, and this game provides the opportunity to appreciate how it was fought, and why things happened (or didn’t). Very enjoyable too.

Below – The cockpit of war (in 1711) with Marlborough sitting on a fortified line one move away from Paris, and the French sitting opposite him behind their own line (there’s an excellent rule for the better generals to attempt to by-pass defensive lines, and come to grips with the enemy behind). Antwerp is surrounded, with most of the Spanish Netherlands overrun by the Alliance.

Over several sessions I got to grips with the rules and played through until an Alliance major victory result was secured in 1712. The English had withdrawn from the war at the end of the previous year, taking the Duke and his redcoats with them, but it hadn’t been enough to allow the Bourbons to recover from their earlier losses. There had been a few ‘Famous Victories’ (well, once Marlborough stopped losing the early battles!), lots of sieges and some bold manoeuvres by land and sea. Spain and Italy were still largely held by the Bourbons, but the Alliance had done better where it mattered in northern and central Europe.

It’s certainly a game I look forward to playing again in the future.

A Weekend in Framlingham

This weekend saw a get together of a group of wargamers from up and down the length of England (unfortunately our Scottish contingent couldn’t make it). We congregated on Friday evening in the Suffolk town of Framlingham, where our local host Tim had made the arrangement for us to have an excellent couple of days of gaming, socialising and recovering from hangovers.

It was a fair old way to go, especially for those coming from the North East, but everyone agreed it was more than worth it. Great company and top-notch games throughout, and lots of laughter and banter to go with it.

We used the very nice function room at The Crown, a lovely hotel/inn where some of us were staying, which gave us plenty of room and facilities to spread out in. Despite this pic, the lighting was a bit dim when the sun wasn’t shining (ie. most of Saturday) so I didn’t get many decent photos on my phone.

Several people had offered to put on games (there were several rounds of voting(!) over a year ago), providing the figures, rules and scenery for others to play. These included Peeler’s Leipzig DBN taster (for Simon, who seemed to enjoy it immensely), Essex Boy and GaryP’s 20mm Marlburian game (which Andy and I joined), and the main event – Tim’s awesome ACW collection in a full-on 2 day clash which started on Saturday and which we all joined on Sunday.

The WSS game was great fun, and it was a pleasure to play with Iain and Gary’s superb collections. The rules used were Rank and File from Crusader, and they gave a quick realistic game with simple, easy to learn, mechanisms. We played at least 12 full turns which says a lot for how easy the rules are to pick up. Everyone agreed that it looked and fought out as they imagined a Malburian battle would, and we had some very exciting moments as both sides had triumphs and reverses.

As allied commander I had the dubious benefit of Iain’s dice rolling assistance (he was also the scenario designer and umpire) but fortunately the English, Dutch and Danes fought tenaciously among the hedgerows and successfully held the right and centre against the French infantry. It didn’t go so well on the left, however, where the cavalry fought it out in the open fields. Here the enemy gradually got the better of the allied squadrons, helped by an infantry brigade which came up and held the farm in the middle of the melee. Their volleys emptied a good few saddles and by the end (which was deemed to be dusk) our flank had collapsed.

We all surveyed the battlefield and agreed it to be a strategic success for the French, as the allies would eventually have to retreat down the only road they remained in control of, but a tactical draw, as 2/3 of the table remained in allied hands as night fell. A really enjoyable game all-round, with friendly and generous opponents in Andy and Gary, and lots of thanks to Iain for the effort he put into planning and running the game.

Then it was off to the bar for a well-earned beverage or two and the usual debate about basing, followed by an excellent curry in a nearby restaurant and more beers in Tim’s local.

On Sunday we all re-assembled (some more slowly than others..) for the now-expanded ACW game. Tim, Phil, Dave and Tim W had fought the opening moves of this encounter battle (Coinville I think) on day 1 and developed the battlelines that the rest of us joined for day 2. I was on the Union side (which I think I’ve been on every time I’ve played this period, but which is fine by me) and I was involved in trying to defend the centre and right against an outflanking Reb attack, while waiting for our reserve division to arrive.

There was lots of artillery fire initially, and then the infantry got to grips and casualties mounted. The whole time JEB Stuart was dashing round our right flank and things were a bit nervous as we waited for the outcome of the Union CinC’s rolls to see where the reserve would appear. Naturally Iain’s dice ensured it would be at the other end of the table, and that sounded the death knell for the North! Unfortunately I had to leave before the final turns were played, but it was a delight to see these armies on the table again and to be involved in such a great looking game.

Some of my division, all gorgeous figures from Tim Hall’s collection:

All in all, everything went even better than expected and we’re looking forward to the next opportunity to get together again for another one. Big thanks go to Tim for all the planning/arranging, and to everyone for their excellent company!

A Couple of Punic Battles – part 2

The first game ended in a Roman minor victory, with them scoring 15 victory points (14 being required for a win) against the Carthaginians, with the latter scoring 10 in return.

With the terrain and figures already to hand it would have been rude not to play another game so I made a few minor changes to the table (ie. clearing a bit more central space) and re-deployed. This time I upped the armies by half again for a 150 point game involving a total of just over 500 figures. The Romans had now recruited a force of Spanish and the Carthaginians had bought in more Gauls and Numidians.

On the assumption that the Carthaginians were coming back for more, and the Romans were happy to oblige (and confident from the first battle), I decided that both sides were ‘up for it’ and there was no defender as such. I didn’t take many pictures this time, but did capture the deployment and some of the early moves.

 

 

The lines getting closer:

First clashes:

This time the Romans were faced by a first line of seething Gauls who charged in hard as they always do. The elephants were in the Carthaginian second line, as were the best of their infantry. It worked; despite the Romans using their unique ‘Legion’ rule which allowed them to swap tired units in combat with fresh reserves, and cutting up most of the Gauls, the attrition was too heavy and their right and right-centre crumbled. Both sides were forced to commit generals to the melee, and several were lost.

What’s Latin for ‘not this lot again!’?

 

 

 

When the dust cleared the Carthaginians had got their revenge. Both Roman flanks were crushed and although they still had a reasonably viable second line still able to fight, the enemy had achieved a decent victory: 23-15 (first to score 21 being the winner in this bigger battle). I think the Romans would have been able to fall back on their camp, and march away during the night or the following day – the enemy were too hard hit themselves to prevent it.

It was very enjoyable to return to this period, collection and rules. I hope not to leave it so long next time.

A quick note on figures;

The Romans are made up of Essex and Old Glory infantry, Essex cavalry and a right old mix for skirmishers, including some 10th Legion and (now defunct) Strategia e Tattica.

The Carthaginians are even more of a mix – most are Corvus Belli, but there are some Lancashire, Essex and Old Glory in there too.

They all go together well as far as I’m concerned, which makes picking what to buy a matter of preference rather than being restricted by size, etc.