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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hangout at the Redoubt

Last Sunday Rob from the Sharp End of the Brush blog dropped in via Google Hangout for a game. The scenario was Forlorn Hope 2 from Wargames for All Ages, the troops were 40mm Prince August and the rules were Charge! by Lawford and Young.The situation is that a surprise attack is being launched against 2 redoubts that guard the end of a fortified position. The scenario is so similar to an article written by Charles Grant for Stuart Asquith's Practical Wargaming magazine on  a similar at Yorktown that I can't help but imagine that it was inspired by that event.

The forlorn hopes charge as supports move up. On the right the 1/2 company of grenadiers are cut down by musket fire. A few struggle to the top to fight hand to hand but none made it back out. At the left redoubt however, the rest of the grenadiers stormed in before the garrison was fully awake and captured redoubt and gun, driving out the company of the Queen's Foreign Regiment. 
As usual the scenario required tweaking to fit the rules and table.  The scenario has rules for  the forlorn hopes to approach the redoubts without being spotted as well as defined delays for the defender's reactions.

My table is slightly smaller than the map suggests but instead of shrinking to fit, I tried to keep the distances between front line, redoubts and main position constant and trimmed the edges. The rules allow the defender to roll once per turn per redoubt to check if sentries have spotted the advancing forlorn hopes. Since Charles usually uses The Wargame which has shorter moves than Charge! (7" in column iir vs 15" in charge) I allowed the defender to roll twice per turn instead.

Rob chose to defend, a good decision given the poor video quality he was experiencing, partly due to bandwidth issues but mostly to the poor lighting which my tablet camera doesn't handle well. Hopefully this will be the year I get that resolved.


Light Infantry swarm the redoubt as more Irish move up but the now understrength garrison spikes the gun and  retreats just as the Crown Prince Carabineers emerge from the main position.
Its sometimes tricky translating scenario units into game units since the book is a bit vague. In this case the redoubts hold 1/2 a unit and the forlorn hopes are each a 1/4 unit. 4 figures and an officer wouldn't make much of a storming party in Charge! but my table isn't big enough to use a 4 company, 80 figure Charge! reginent for each scenario unit so I normally use 2 company battalions. This gave the defender 1 company and 1 gun in the redoubts, another gun in the main line and Rob's choice of 4 companies or squadrons from a force of 8. I used 1/2 of my new Irish grenadier company for each of the forlorn hopes supported by a company of light infantry, 4 guns and 3 companies of line infantry.

The National Regiment advances in column on the captured redoubt while the remnants of the garrison retreat quickly, dragging a lone prisoner with them. Beyond them the Carabineers have no problem driving in the light infantry who had fired wildly as they charged.  A  battered company of Irish have entered the redoubt just ahead of the counter attack while a fresh company prepares to stem the cavalry attack. 
Unseen, the rebel's green coated Staarborde Battery  has dragged its guns forward to sweep the rear of the redoubt with cannister while the gun in the fort has just knocked out one of the guns of the red coated Port Battery who hve been firing from the edge of the wood off to the Rebel's left rear.

The scenario looked pretty straight forward and I figured it might take us an hour to play not counting idle chat and planning for Huzzah. To my surprise we ended up playing 9 turns over at least 2 hours of playing time and it ended up being a challenging game with a cliffhanger ending. At least part of the excitement was down to the rules which use simultaneous moves to written turn orders allowing me to make several small blunders, no dice required and Rob to surprise me at least once. The combat system is also capable of the occasional wild swing of multiple dice away from average with possibly catastrophic results if it comes at just the wrong  (or right) time.

 A final word. The SD card in my camera fried last week and since the tablet was occupied with the video conference, I had grabbed an old smartphone for pictures. It really doesn't like dim lighting hence the blurry pictures. The tablet isn't much better and with bandwith issues thrown in, here is what the game looked like at Rob's end. Talk about fog of war!


Through a storm of musketry and cannister the National Regiment stormed forward wiping out the Irish garrison. To their right the Carabineers crashed into the redcoated line, and were held. A quick count confirmed suspicion that the  Irish were understrength and all companies had to withdraw. It looked like defeat but looking at the pile of Pandour casualties from the National Regiment I decided to check their morale. Understrength! Just! They would also have to withdraw allowing the now rallied light infantry to slip in the back.

With both redoubts in Rebel hands it was a victory if a squeeker of a  Pyrrhic one. Hopefully the main Rebel army is just off table, moving up in support.

16 comments:

  1. Ah, just the thing needed with my first mug of coffee this morning! Looks like a fun game with lovely figures. Were I to start all over again, I'd seriously consider using the 40mm Prinz August troops since I've had a visual love affair with them since first becoming aware of their existence way back in 1982. Good stuff here, Ross.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. Thanks Stokes. I used to daydream over the pictures in a PA booklet for nearly 20 years before I bought my first mould.

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  2. Excellent battle ! , I come back to 'Charge' time after time - one of my top 3 sets of rules,Tony

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    1. Yes they are surprisingly solid after all these years. I think they fool people because so much of the effect is due to the unstated effect of how the written rules interact rather than due to explicit rules.

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  3. I need to work on being less predictable. Which move surprised you? :)

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    1. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had forgotten that you might rushing out of the main position and especially did not stop to think that if you might choose cavalry, which move so fast in Charge! and that my light infantry might be about to be run over. Neither did I expect you to switch to counter battery fire and silence 1 of my guns with your 1st shot! In retrospect that was actually better than having the occupiers of the 2nd redoubt shot up.

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  4. Visually a superb battle- after viewing the numbers of troops involved and the action around the Redoubts it gives me great hopes that my 40mm Mars Scenarios will fit onto the games table...Excellent effort ROSS. Regards. KEV.

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    1. I have no doubt that you will be able to fit various sizes of game onto your table.

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  5. Great looking game and Charge continues to give good service...

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  6. After reading this report and looking at your photos, I am starting to think of the new PA SYW molds. I might just have to buy them. I prefer marching figures, which the new molds are. Your large units looks more the part than my 4 man infantry units.

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    1. They both have their uses. Small units of 15 or 20mm figures certainly take up less room.

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    2. They both have their uses. Small units of 15 or 20mm figures certainly take up less room.

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  7. What a clash of arms, and an inspiration. Top stuff, Ross!

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  8. The Queen's Foreign Regiment? How very dare they!

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