EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Let Us Cross Over The Rivers

Our impression of the feel of a game is often as important as the reality of how it played. When I look at the actual mechanisms there are only two main differences from previous versions of my game: movement by both sides followed by shooting by both sides and finally charge resolution rather than alternate turns with one side moving and shooting and resolving charges then the other, and the substitution of temporary groups for fixed units. In some ways these changes made very little difference to how the game played or to the outcome but the change in play sequence in particular made a world of difference to the feel. It is not a particularly new or innovative play sequence rather it is pretty much drawn from Featherstone and from Lawford and Young  but that is perhaps the point. Its comfortable like an old pair of slippers and feels right for Old School glossy wargame figures yet the game maintained the convenience of the grid and a small number of figures.

Since the game is no longer a variant of the Square Brigadier I have decided to settle on the name The Tin Army.
General Grey arrives and is briefed by the commander of the Oberhilse advance guard.
The scenario has a small detachment of Faraway troops defending a river crossing on a quiet sector of the front. In this case there is a nice straight canal crossed by 1 bridge and a larger river crossed by 2. Oberhilse must capture a route across both bodies of water to win. Faraway must hold all of the bridges to win. The forces appear in dribs and drabs in what was supposed to be random order but dice being what they are, they all appeared in order! 

Rather annoyingly, the scenario breaks from the usual format of "units" and occasionally 1/2 units to speak of companies, troops, squadrons and units without specifying what each was intended to represent. So for example there are 2 companies in the front village and the rest of the unit in the rear village. Ok so is that 2 and 2? 2 and 1 ? 2 and 8?  No hint of proportion. If my own organization was fixed it would have been easier but eventually, taking into consideration what was available, I settled on the following. 

Faraway or Red Army: 8 infantry and 2 cavalry and a commander in the small town , 8 more infantry and 2 more cavalry in the bigger one. Reinforcements eventually included the General, 4 more cavalry with the cavalry commander, a commander  and 16 infantry, another commander with  8 infantry and an MG, and last but not least, a field gun. (in Red and Khaki) Total: General, 4 Commanders, 8 cavalry, 40 infantry, 1 MG, 1 gun 

Oberhilse or Blue Army: 8 infantry and 4 cavalry under a Commander followed eventually by an MG and further 8 cavalry for the advance guard, another 8 cavalry and commander, a field gun and 3 "battalions" each with a commander and 16 infantry. (in Blue and Field Grey) Total: General, 5 Commanders, 20 cavalry, 56 infantry, 1 MG, 1 gun.
  
The game lasted 16 turns and probably lasted 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I spent too long fiddling with rules, taking pictures and just plain looking at the figures and used up my block of "me" time so had to finish it 1 or 2 turns at a time over two days when I could grab a minute. 

I'm not going to attempt a blow by blow description of each of 16 turns but the pictures and captions will hopefully give a good impression of how things went. The red discs mark disordered or pinned units, the red caps mark carried over 1/2 hits while the white caps mark shaken units. Now that I feel very 'settled' I'll add more scenic markers to the to-do list along with more dismounted cavalry so units don't have to change uniforms when they dismount. 

Blue decided to run the gauntlet of fire and bypass the village with the Jaegers and cavalry of the Advanced Guard while the rapidly approaching infantry stormed the village. Red called everyone forward but some of the detached units were slow to fall in. 

A gratuitous close up of the arrival of The Frontier Horse. These volunteers are now largely recruited from Oerberg across the mountains, one of several grievances held by Her Majesty's government against that state. 

The aggressive General Brown has arrived to take command of Faraway's defences. He redirects 2 companies of infantry to retake the bridge captured by the enemy lancers. His own cavalry has left the defence of the village to the infantry and has formed a skirmish screen to prevent the village from being surrounded. Reinforcements rush to the front on both sides. 

This picture follows the teaser in the previous post. In the village, an assault by Blue's infantry has taken the Red house but the garrison of the White house is still hanging on after repulsing an assault. The Blue advance guard has taken heavy losses from shooting and a series of cavalry charges and is now spent. Red has recaptured the bridge and taken the commander and a handful of Jaegers prisoner.  As Red savours the moment, the Blue Dragoons suddenly appear, almost as if the GM had missed their arrival and just plopped them down on table where they might have been as if their approach had merely been unnoticed. 

The village has fallen and as more and more Blue infantry marches on backed by artillery, Red is forced to abandon his efforts to retake the village and fall back in hopes of a draw. The Lancers and Country Volunteers hold the Blue Dragoons, just. Both the Dragoons and Lancers will be shaken by losses next turn and forced to withdraw but Blue still has fresh reserves moving forward.
The slaughter was terrific as impetuous massed charges by Blue infantry faced fierce rifle, machine gun and artillery fire but while repulsed shaken, their attacks also shook the enemy. Red still controlled both bridges and the light ws failing (ie only 1 turn left) so I was going to call it a draw on Turn 15 but Blue had fresh infantry just within reach of the bridge and was willing to risk another turn of  shooting. This turn the gunners fired high and although the lead company of Windsor Blue's had to double forward with bayonets to reach the enemy, the shaken defenders were unable to hold them and the bridge fell. Another Oberhilse victory! 
The Old Queen is not amused!  


7 comments:

  1. Ross Mac,

    A rattling good battle report ... and your rules seem to have reached a stage where they don't need much further modification.

    I love the look you manage to achieve with your wargames. The figures look wonderful and the gridded terrain cloth is very effective.l

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is some tweaking to be done yet Bob! But I'm very happy with how they are shaping up, for this particular use at least. I see a War of 1812 variant following but that will be it.

      I like the look as well but lots of room yet for improvement now that I have figured out what I want.

      Delete
  2. Looks like an exciting and lively game, Ross. . . . which of course means that you have to fight another one . . . and then another and another and . . . well you get the idea.


    -- Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice report with beautiful pictures...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Splendid set up,great looking game and interesting rules I read on the train on the way home after work tonight.
    Alan

    ReplyDelete