Saturday, May 9, 2015

Napoleonic warm up...

At about the Winter Solstice, a whole bunch of Christchurch gamers (plus one from Dunedin) will be pooling their armies for a weekend commemorative refight of Waterloo.  The rule in use for this occasion - not my favorite by any means - will be the General de Brigade set, modified somewhat for Waterloo.

In order to become accustomed to the play, not having played G-de-B since about 2007, it was deemed meet that some of us get together for a small pick-up action.  Although I will be Napoleon for the actual event, on this occasion I took my British along.  Mark (Chasseur) and Paul (Painting Little Soldiers) took the French and French Allies respectively.

The forces, as I say, were quite small:

British (and Allies):
5 Battalions of British
1 Battalion of Brunswick line infantry
Half battalion of skirmishing riflemen
1 Regiment of British Dragoons
1 Regiment British Light Dragoons
1 Foot Battery Allied Artillery
4 Battalions Line
Half Battalion Light
2 Regiments Chevau-legeres
1 Foot Battery

French Allies:
2 Battalions Westphalian Line
1 Battalion Neapolitan Line
Half Battalion Westphalian Garde Jager
1 regiment Cuirassiers.

None of us worried overmuch about refined tactics or deployment: it was going to be a straightforward bullheaded push against the thin red line - or perhaps the thin red smear, judging by the weight of those formidable columns.
French infantry: 4 Battalion columns and
chasseurs in skirmish order.  Light cavalry for the link
with the distant French-Allies.

The British right flank.  Sixty-ninth (South Lincolnshire) Foot
hold the line between the woods, with the Brunswickers in reserve,
and the 33rd (1st West Riding) watching the flank.

British horse, heavy and light dragoons.

Ground level view of the serried columns about to
launch their assault.

'Old School Shot' of the Western two-thirds of the
table.  Monochrome still has a certain period charm...

General view of the British right flank.

The attack begins... they come...

The stoicism of the British soldier: stands, hitches his belt...
and waits...

Paul and Mark checking out the rules...
 Paul's troops are mixed manufactures, mostly metals...
Mark's troops are Perry plastics finished in Mark's distinctive style.

The gun battery and the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers
defending the enclosures.  In the woods the riflemen
ply their trade...

The columns grind forward.  I did consider holding the 69th's

The French Allies lacked one battalion and artillery support...

A lacuna, here.  Although canister fire from the cannon devastated
 and stopped the centre (Westphalian) column, the Neapolitans
closed and chased off the gunners. Meanwhile the clash of the heavy
 horse takes place on the west flank.

The gallant fight of the 69th.  Stopping two of the 3 battalion
columns, they were struck on their right by the third...

The Fusiliers firm stand has cost the Westphalians dear.  Meanwhile
the French reserve of light horse switch to the west flank, coming to
the aid of the cuirassiers.  General 'Daddy' Hill begins to fear
For his left flank...

The south Lincolns have reformed, but the 33rd
 is being driven back with heavy loss.Perhaps the Brunswickers ought
to intervene...?

The old, bold 3/14th (Buckinghamshire) Foot advance to face off
 the Neapolitans and to recapture the cannon.  The 51st Light
infantry prepare to come to the aid of the Fusiliers.

That mass of French cavalry is a concern.  The British horse
are outmatched.

The British right is still holding, though the 33rd is about to be driven from the field...
A fire fight develops between the 14th Foot and
Neapolitan infantry.

The Brunswickers face the enveloping French units.  Too late...
The final cavalry battle:  British dragoons against French cuirassiers.
Bested once already, the dragoons could not turn the tables
this time, neither.
The 14th get the better of the musketry duel with the
The British right flank enveloped
time to call it a day

Using dice for casualty counters instead of removing figures
will probably prevent losing figures on the big day.

At the close of the action, the British cavalry had been entirely swept from the field on the western flank, and the eastern flank the line had been enveloped.  The British called it a day, and began their retreat.

Interesting battle.  The British lost about 30 figures, plus all 4 guns, out of 192; the French something like 45 out of 236.  Considering how relatively light the casualties, the fighting had an air of ferocity I like to see in my war games.  But there are a couple of points that concern me about the use of this rule set for the big Waterloo fight.  For one, coordinating a lot of players in a game set that requires initiative rolls each turn, and then alternating through six or eight phases looks like a tall order.   The second is: if it took so much failed effort to roll over in effect two battalions, the outlook for the French is not looking so rosy...

Monday, April 20, 2015


Just over a week ago, I had a return match with Andy, following my close-fought victory of the weekend before.  This time it was a Napoleonic game, using Mark's figures and the rule set Lasalle, one of Sam Mustafa's earlier Napoleonic rule sets.  In what follows, I have let the pictures tell the story.  My apologies for the woeful photography here and there - they really don't do justice to Mark's superb figures.  My hands aren't as steady as once they were, so I'll have to start using some kind of support, that's clear.  Before continuing, you might want to check out Mark's blog, Chasseur, for his account of the action.  His pictures are by and large better than mine, too.

(Before continuing I must thank the seven who have begun following this blog since the New Year.  I will make a more formal acknowledgement next time).
The French line, looking west to east.
French Army:
On Table:
Infantry Brigade: 6 x 24-figure battalions (144 figures);
Foot Battery: 4 cannon;
Light Cavalry Brigade: 4 x 8-figure units (squadrons? regiments?) (32 figures);
Horse battery: 3 cannon

Arriving from off table by random die roll:
Cuirassier Brigade: 2 x 12-figure units (24 figures)
Horse Battery: 3 cannon

Austrian Army:
On Table:
Line Infantry Brigade: 4 x 36-figure, plus 2 x 24-figure battalions (192 figures);
Landwehr Infantry Brigade: 6 x 24-figure battalions (144 figures);
2 x Foot Batteries: each 4 cannon.

Arriving from off table by random roll:
Cuirssier Brigade: 2 x 12-figure units (24 figures);
Horse artillery: 3 cannon
Austrian Landwehr drawn up on the Austrian left flank.
As you will appreciate, the Austrians outnumbered the French by a considerable margin, and had a cannon extra as well.  But against that, the Landwehr proved to be very brittle troops, and the French regular light horse proved an annoyance as well.
Austrian regular infantry.
 I was relying on those big battalions for the decisive punch...

French light horse taking one look at the advancing
Austrian line, before making off...
More general view of the Austrian right flank.

Austrian artillery - and my first mistake.   Instead of deploying them
at once, I hoped to bring them closer to the French line before doing so.
That disrupted the right hand battery, which never really came into
truly effective action.

The Landwehr were supposed to carry out a pinning attack
 upon the French left in order to hold it in place.  That
plan proved a dismal failure.

Right from the start, French infantry peeled off
 from their right flank to deal with the threatened left.
Austrian artillery overseen by the Austrian commander,
Feldmarschall-Leutnant Kuekenhertz

Could the Landwehr close the range betimes
to pin down the French right?

Another view of the Landwehr in serried array.

Général de Division Andre Poulecoeur
hurrying his troops eastwards... 

Thinking hard... Can that Austrian juggernaut
be stopped?

Austrina cuirassiers arrive on table ... in the wrong place!  The French
heavies had arrived earlier and already making their presence felt
on the Austrian left.  That's where mine should have gone, too.

Two French cuirassier units hit the lone landwehr battalion.
Though the foot formed square betimes, it did them no good.
No good at all...

Boots, boots, boots, boots...

The French light horse making nuisances of themselves.
I really should have kept a better flank guard than I did....

The French right has been effectively stripped of its infantry...

The Austrians rolling into the attack.  The cuirassiers were meant
to give it extra weight, but they ended up with nothing to do.  Having
failed to support the landwehr, the next best thing would have been to
swing them around the far right flank.

Having crumpled up one battalion, the French heavy horse
charge into the two battalions beyond.  Neither was able to form square in time
(50-50 call for both: both failed).  The left-hand battalion collapsed at once, but the other
actually threw back their assailants!  Bravo!

The first wave of the assault goes in!

Forming square under the muzzles of the enemy artillery was not
going to end happily...

The assault by the leading two Austrian battalions raged for
a considerable while before the French line finally broke.
The attack by a third large Austrian unit immediately carried
the wood covering the French centre.

The Austrian high water mark on their right centre...

But having relaxed their guard on the right, the Austrians
have allowed two units of enemy light horse into their
right rear...

... Just as a big counterattack goes in against the woods
recently captured by the Austrians.

The pitiful remnants of the Austrian Landwehr: three units
ridden down by French heavy cavalry; two more crushed by artillery.
One battalion remains... isolated from its fellows...

A rather fuzzy photo to conclude.  One heavily battered Austrian
battalion has departed the scene, and that defending the wooded hill,
 attacked front and flank, is about to collapse in rout also...

With the collapse of two of the large Austrian battalions, together with the five long since departed landwehr units, the Austrian army morale broke, and the survivors withdrew from the battlefield. We had handed out a few licks of our own - two French battalions had also broken - but there was no disguising the action as other than a decisive French victory.  Congratulation General Poulecoeur Andy!