Thursday, 30 August 2012

Post battle blues!

Yesterday was a funny old day. Having played through, photographed and written up my first C&C scenario I was left feeling somewhat deflated. Nothing I could put my finger on exactly, but as I sat reflecting on things in the company of the 'three terrors' who gathered about me as though deeply interested in my musings, a few things came to mind that I thought I would like to write about here.

Firstly, there is no doubt that having finally achieved what I regard as a good all round set up, with figures painted to a satisfying standard and a pleasing terrain board it has left me with a kind 'what next' syndrome. True, I'm painting more 6mm figures of the English Civil war period and I'm very happy with the results so far. having painted over 1,000 Napoleonics in 6mm I don't really feel the need to paint more at this time as there are more than enough for a really good sized game already. That leads me onto something else, the matter of just how much I actually enjoy playing wargames as opposed to painting soldiers. This is giving me cause for concern once again!

I cannot claim to be a student of Napoleonic Warfare, I have read very little beyond uniform guides and a few books on the Waterloo campaign. I actually understand little about period tactics. There was a time in my wargaming Life when I used to play American Civil War battles and I empathised so much with those miniature soldiers to the point where every move caused much excitement and anticipation. I had read so much about every aspect of that period, read endless personal accounts,  diaries, regimental histories and detailed stage by stage campaign records. To be honest I'm just not getting that same feeling with Napoleonics at the moment.

No doubt from the gaming perspective things would improve greatly given an actual live opponent. But I'm not really a 'clubby' sort of person personally, having in the past been lucky enough to have just a couple of good friends who shared my hobby. Konrad Kinch has been experimenting with 'Facetime' battles over on his excellent blog, and it is just possible that something like this may be a way forward, although I confess that seeing my own ugly mug staring back at me has not been a pleasant experience so far. I have tested the technology with my daughter, and it works well, even though she was just sat upstairs in her room at the time! Won't make me a better General of course, but could be good fun.

I must and will crack on though, moves are afoot to improve the somewhat bare appearance of my battlefield, Tony at ERM has despatched my initial order for 95mm mdf hexes to match my grid, and these will be used to remake the wood/forest hexes as well as some field hexes and other terrain items. It has occurred to me that I could indeed eventually cover the entire board in fully textured wooden hexes, a prospect which does rather excite me. For those hex players who don't know, Tony can cut hex sizes to order, mine fell between 2 standard sizes, and the quality is excellent.

So there you go, I feel better for sharing that and shall now get on with a bit more painting. As its been a while since I have posted any pics of our menagerie here are the 'Three Terrors' - Kenco, Kitty and Gibbo - all now much larger but still as mad as they were a few months ago, the Old Lady 'Bump' who is now 13 years old and Marcie the Golden Retriever who hates being left out of anything and has become rather disgruntled at the number of times a day cats require to be fed compared to a dog.
Portrait of a heavy rock loving Dysthymic wargamer posing like a hardman! I do smile sometimes too, honestly. But you get my point about Facetime - it could frighten the children.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Rolica - The C&CN wargame.

This is a report of my first C&CN official scenario. I was planning to use Foys rather good 'Blind Hand' method of controlling the French, but a few run through tries proved a bit limiting for this specific scenario where the majority of the French forces were concentrated in just the centre sector. So I played it with both hands open. The British plan to pin the French in the centre whilst attempting to attack on both flanks. The troops on the British Right are Portuguese.

The battle begins with a strong attack against the French right, which they immediately counter with   a charge by Chasseur a Cheval and Legere, the Chasseurs forcing a British Battalion to form square. The Legere successfully force back the British battalion it engages ( 1 hit and 1flag thrown). The combat between the Chasseurs and the square is inconclusive.

On the extreme left a British battalion is marching to take control of the hill which is a British Victory point (above). The next moves sees more French infantry take up position on the ridge, engaging the British square downhill of them and still pinned by the Chasseurs. The combat is decisive, the square is routed and first blood goes to the French. On the British right Portuguese troops have begun to move forward.

Picture above shows the position on the French right after routing the British square. One British Light Infantry battalion fights on although outnumbered and reduced by 2 blocks.

British turn - An advance is ordered in the centre to engage the French with musketry and artillery fire, the cacadores emerge from the woods and open a peppering fire upon the French battalions. The British are not yet within range of the French centre and are attempting to deploy the foot artillery forward. As the British attack against the French right has broken down the French now turn their attention upon the now unsupported battalion upon the hill to the rear, the Chasseurs smartly changing face and again charging forcing them to form square. An inconclusive combat follows, with the Chasseurs being unable to even throw a single dice against the square as they are attacking uphill.

As the Portuguese on the British again edge forward the French centre opens up on the British centre, who are now within range. All along the ridge musketry fire pours into the advancing battalions and a battery of artillery opens upon a British battery that has just positioned itself ready to fire. The French fire is deadly effective, the British artillery being forced to limber up and retire with casualties. The cacadores also fall back into the woods behind them. A battalion of Light Infantry on the British left are forced to make a double retreat move and with heavy losses. Things are beginning to look tough for the British. The French already have 2 victory points.

The  action now focuses upon the French left, where Portuguese infantry and cavalry are beginning to press home their attack,the Dragoons making a somewhat rash uphill charge in order to force a French battalion into square. (In C&CN this causes loss of a command card and also pins the square in position so that infantry and artillery can be brought up in support). Again, cavalry attacking a square uphill results in no combat dice to throw in response to the fire of the square (1 dice only). The cacadores again emerge from the woods having sorted themselves out, and again open fire upon the French to their front. Two more Portuguese battalions are close by now in support of the Dragoons. But yet again the French counter by attacking the brave Dragoons who are downhill of them, they are first forced to retreat and then routed by heavy French fire. Now 3 Victory points to the French. British command cards are not great, nothing to order a major assault on the centre in order to push the French back off the ridge. Wellesley is frustrated, his left flank attack has crumbled and his brave Portuguese on the right are meeting heavy and determined resistance, French light cavalry forcing a battalion into square with the general attached taking cover in its centre!

Again Wellesley pushes forward the Portuguese on an 'attack right' card, this time with better coordination. The cacadores continue to cause casualties among the French as the second line battalion attacks in support of the square which is pinned by Chasseur a Cheval. Outnumbered, the cavalry elect to retire and reform by falling back 2 hexes onto the hill which is one of the British objectives. The Portuguese press forward to turn the flank. A French battalion is routed, only the Chasseurs upon the hill can stop the hard fighting Portuguese from achieving their objective it seems.

And then suddenly the game swings back in favour of the French! All of the fighting is concentrated on the French left where realising how precarious the situation was becoming two French battalions are ordered to 'move and battle' under a probe card. The battalion that was under fire from the cacadores retires 1hex and engages the leading Portuguese battalion downhill routing them, at the same time the redcoated Swiss move to the left and open fire upon the cacadores who have been heavily engaged from early on, routing them too. This gives the French the 5 Victory points required for a win! The end was abrupt and unexpected. The British centre had achieved very little in the way of corodinated attack, but the command hand was poor and hampered by having 2 cards placed on the square tracker. They could not get close enough to use the 'bayonet charge' card they were saving for an assault of the ridge, and where they did advance they were repeatedly driven back by heavy French fire.

I will post this game report now and offer some C&CN related notes about the game to follow. Suffice to say for now I will play this game again some time, as I believe the French CAN be beaten given better cards and a more co ordinated attack.

Final picture shows the end of the game. Some British units have not even been able to move, and where they did advance beyond the line of woods they were forced back, the French making plenty of flag rolls as well as casualty rolls. The French reinforced the ridge and refused to be drawn from it unless in a position to attack downhill into melee. The ability in C&CN to march units to a flank or the rear and still battle that move proved decisive in the final stages.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Commands & Colors scenario #1. Rolica - The set up.

This is the first of the 'official' Commands & Colors Peninsular scenarios that I will play. It's a small game and represents the first French position on 17th August 1808. I have added the scenario set up details below as it is all available on the ccnapoleonics website.   Having spent a day making more hills and trees I have been able to duplicate the set up map exactly at last. Pictures show the table and troops deployed. I have marked the two British Victory objectives with French flags! The battle will be played within the next couple of days in a single session and a full AAR will follow. As it will be played solo I intend to command the British attack and use 'Foy's' clever 'Blind hand' idea for the French. See HERE for the explanation.

The bottom image shows my flashy new double sized C&CN reference sheets on the wall in my games room. I can play almost 95% off those sheets now, only requiring to check the rule book now and then when in doubt. The larger A3 size makes it easy to see at a glance. Thanks once again to Foy for the graphics work, I spent a long time trying enlarge the pdf and he came to my rescue!

ROLIÇA (French First Position) - 17 August 1808

Historical Background
After landing unopposed at Mondego Bay, Sir Arthur Wellesley led a Portuguese/British army of some 15,000 men south towards Lisbon. Opposing him was General Henri Delaborde, with a force consisting only of some 5000 infantry, 500 cavalry and 5 field pieces. Delaborde resolved to fight a delaying action against Wellesley’s advance while awaiting reinforcements from Generals Junot and Loison.
Delaborde chose his first defensive position in the hills just northwest of the village of Rolica. Wellesley advanced in three columns against the French, ordering the Portuguese troops under Colonel Trant on the right and Fergusson’s column on the left to turn the enemy’s flanks, while the artillery and infantry in his center were to engage the enemy in the front and hold them in position.
The British attack was underway by seven o’clock in the morning on the 17th. Although the French were hotly engaged all morning, Delaborde’s outnumbered force still held onto the hill position. However, by early afternoon, the wary Delaborde could see that his position was being outflanked and quickly moved his forces back to a second defensive position to the south.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?

Set-Up Order



Battle Notes

British Army
• Commander: Wellesley
• 6 Command Cards
• Move First

Line InfantryLight InfantryHeavy CavalryFoot ArtilleryHorse ArtilleryLeaderLine InfantryLight InfantryLight CavalryLeader
French Army
• Commander: Delaborde
• 5 Command Cards

Line InfantryLight InfantryLight CavalryFoot ArtilleryLeader

Victory = 5 Banners

Special Rules
The two hill hexes on the French baseline are Victory Banner objective hexes for the British player. If a British unit occupies an objective hex at the start of the British player’s turn, the British player gains a Victory Banner. As long as the unit remains on the objective hex it will count as a British Victory Banner (the French position has been outflanked). If it moves off or is eliminated, it no longer counts. The entire river is fordable.