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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Still Fiddling (Updated)

A few days ago I decided I had time for a quick game. Flipping open OHW, I found myself looking at Scenario 22: Ambush. Six Red units poised to attack 1 Blue unit in a town. 

Except Red isn't allowed to attack the town. Blue has 3 more units in the woods ready to attack. For 3 turns no Red unit may move or shoot and after that they are allowed to shoot at the town but can't assault it. OK, why not? I suspect one isn't supposed to ask why not but I hate games that don't look "right" so I postulated that perhaps the town was protected by a high wall and a wet ditch, not very War of 1812 ish. Perhaps Fort MacDuff? Sounded like work, then my eye fell on my New Orleans redoubt from Barzso and suddenly I "HAD" to haul out the pirates which in turn meant leaving the War of 1812 for Atlantica. By the time I was set up my hour was long gone so I took a picture and left it.

Hey Johnny Cope!
Over night I started wondering why Red couldn't react for three turns, not even in self defence. The  only thing I could think of was a dawn assault on a sleeping camp. When I scraped up an hour it took five minutes to fold some paper tents and I was ready to go. Some chance of waking and reacting seemed reasonable but I decided to play it straight up except with my rules. 15 minutes later Red was routed and the game was over. Not terribly satisfying but a large part of that was with the rules.

It had been bothering me  that despite some period rules,  formed 1812 or 1830's line battalions seem to be either as flexible  as skirmishing 1900 infantry deployed in companies or as very brittle. I experimented with various things and managed to stretch the game to 5 turns but in the end, the only thing that seems to work right is to just make them stronger so that they can ignore occasional hits when they are fresh. I'll test that this weekend but I'm also going to allow Red to attempt to wake guys up once the shooting starts.

The Blue Menace! Oberhilse troops over the mountains! 

I unexpectedly found an hour this evening to play. The increase in number of hits made all the difference. All I ended up doing for reaction was to allow units that were fired on or meleed to shoot before the 4th turn. It looked pretty close at times but Blue had some terrible dice and Red pulled 3 chance cards in their favour including a rally. At the end, Red had 4 units only 1 or 2 hits from breaking and had lost 3 Commanders but they had only lost 2 units out of 10 on Turn Nine when Blue broke after losing 4 units.  Blue's biggest error was probably committing the Brethren light infantry to close combat with massed battalions of regulars. I should also note that some of the combats got a bit confusing and I trotted out some extra rules for things like multi unit column assaults etc which aren't in the quick summary.

As for the scenario, although there were some tense moments during the combats, there was so little room to manouver and too few options to make it a really interesting game. For a dimilar situation I'd go back to the Grant Attack on a Camp scenario, always an engaging game if slightly longer and more complex.

4 comments:

  1. Tell you what, Ross - this thing reminds me of the "Battle for all seasons' chapter in 'Featherstone's complete wargaming' book. The thing is based upon the Battle of Auberoche, 21 October 1345. To quote: '...this little-known battle in which a small English force - outnumbered near six-to-one - defeated Count de l'Isle's French army by an attack said to be '...almost breathtaking in its audacity and dazzling in its brilliance...'

    What Don Featherstone did, after an account of this action was to relate very similar battles - one at the close of the Fuentes de Onoro battle in 1811 at a place called Arbaroz. Another combat that developed in a similar manner 'occurred' in Normandy, 7 or 8 June 1944, in a ruined castle at Au-Bar-Roche, near the River Dives.

    Are we looking at that obscure action of 1812 known to but few historians as the Battle of Aubrey Rock...? Just askin'... :-)

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    1. Yes I remember the chapter and oddly enough Thomas mentions it as an inspiration for this scenario. But no, although perhaps there should be an Auber Cove on the Kapelle Coast in Atlantica.

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  2. The delay situation is somewhat reminiscent of the ECW battles in Scotland, where large Highland forces had moved overnight and left difficult ground to outflank an attacker.

    On one occasion it worked perfectly and the attacking pike and shot was routed, as they had to maneuver to re-position against the attacking Highlanders in the fog.

    On another it did not work as the Highlanders were unable to locate the attackers flank having marched in the dark & woods in the wrong direction.

    The "stunned duck" syndrome of certain Union troops under Meade also comes to mind where divisional supports were not moved properly to counter Confederate flank moves.

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  3. I have no problem with troops being slow to react when surprised, especially reserves but having no chance of troops under close range musketry for 1/2 hour to respond either by shooting back or by running away seemed odd. Hence the addition of tents.If I hadn't wanted to test the book I'd have added dome form of reaction test and form up penalty.

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