Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Minor Scrap

At last various Scots and their weapons were reunited, a wounded highlander with two broken ankles healed, and a replacement for one fatal casualty modified and painted. 

I was ready to play.  

The English objective was to seize the major road exit with a minor victory being awarded if they managed to take the minor road exit. (behind the Highlanders). There was an unmarked ford on the English left. They knew of it but had to find the exact location.

The old Rough Wooing rules still work, as does one of the later versions, but I no longer like their style, especially for solo or multiplayer games. After casting about for ideas, I stumbled on a reminder that for me, the latest version of the Gathering of Hosts rules work just fine for this period. At least they will once a handful of notes are properly written up! So, I went with that.

The Scots artillery and Highland archers took a heavy toll of the English Whitecoats but their archers and artillery served the Highlanders even worse!

The scenario was also improvised. Having drawn a random cloth from the cupboard, it turned out to be the river one and a river crossing as scenario suggested itself. Since my English outnumber the Scots when the French aren't around, I made them attack.

There wasn't much to the scenario. Smaller force on hill line, river with one bridge and one reported, but not yet identified, ford. (Once per turn, the light cavalry may roll one die needing a 5 or 6 to find the ford.

I'm afraid both commanders may have been a little preoccupied with non-battle concerns at times as there were some very poor tactical choices made early on by both sides.....(That's my excuse anyway.)

However, despite there being several occasions when one side or the other seemed doomed, the advantage swayed back and forth. 

The Redcoats were plagued by command indecision forcing the Earl of Belmont to ride over in person. 

The various Anglo-Scots wars have a special place in my heart and mind, probably due more to the Classics Illustrated #67, "Scottish Chiefs", (about William Wallace), backed up by reading too many Nigel Tranter novels in my teens, than to some internal conflict between my English and Scottish genes. 


As the day light faded, and the Whitecoats began to waver, the Earl sent in his cavalry to sweep away the Border Horse. To everyone's surprise, they threw back the the Demi-lancers.  Both armies paused and stepped back. Neither side was quite ready to flee but neither were willing to attack and both were too low on ammo to continue the contest.
(ie they had lost 1/3 of stands but not 1/2)

The English army was going to have to try again another day or find another route.

However, while the Anglo-Scottish wars saw some interesting and balanced battles between very different armies, with victory going sometimes to one side and sometimes to the other, the vast majority of the fighting involved sieges, often of small strongholds, and raids which are more of a  skirmish level. Neither of these are my "thing". 

So, the temptation that always arises to add more Scots is best soothed and a return to the continent scheduled. Anyway, the unpainted Landsknechts in my cupboard are getting a bit unruly!   

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Let the kettle to the trumpet speak

"The trumpet to the cannoneer without, 

  the cannons to the heavens"

In other words, let the game begin.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Scene is Set

Once the rest of the English army arrives, I fix a few more of the ravages of time, and design a scenario.......

.......battle will commence.

Friday, November 20, 2020

FOG of WAR: Red Mill Crossing Pt 2

 For some reason, when I resumed the battle, I could not take a sharp picture regardless of all my usual tricks, cleaning the lens, rearranging the lights, bracing the camera...... I finally put it down to drifting clouds of imaginary powder smoke and just got on with the game. It had only been 4 days since I laid the troops out and played the first 3 turns and 2 days since I'd played the second 3 turns, but it felt like 2 weeks. 

The Yanks had seized the mill but the Rebs were already counterattacking to take if back if they could.

So, when we left the game, the Union 1st Brigade had just stormed the mill and both sides were rushing reinforcements into line and revisiting battle plans. Initially I had rolled for arrival points then again against a short list of options, taking the first roll into consideration. The Rebs had rolled "Deploy and hold until time is ripe for a counter attack" The Yanks had rolled "Attack up the Centre".  The Yankees had 2 problems, their 3rd brigade (on their right) had been shot up pretty bad, while in the centre, the wood in the middle was making it slow to bring up the second Brigade into line, although it did provide a covered approach. The next few turns were quiet as Brigades were shifted and lines restored, then, before the Federal attack was ready, the Confederates launched a counter attack up the middle. supported by their cavalry on the far left. 

The struggle for control of the mill was prolonged.

There was a fierce battle in the centre before the Rebs finally retook the Mill but the right hand Yankee brigade, out in the open, and in some disarray, crumbled under the counterattack. The attack against the Rebel right flank was looking iffy but suddenly one of their Brigades pulled back (chance card) and the cavalry and 2nd brigade stormed forward and almost took the road. 

End of Game: This end of the battlefield was hard on Brigadiers and neither side could claim to control this road at the end of the day.
(The buglers are "order" marker that  indicate that a Brigade can move this turn.)

In the centre, an intense bombardment and a desperate Union counterattack almost retook the Mill. On his right, the Federal General decided to pull the battered 3rd Brigade back, into cover, to protect the vital road exit behind them. 

End of game: the mill was still being contested so neither side controlled the crossroad.

It was beginning to look like a draw. The road across the table was contested as far as the mill but beyond that neither side was close enough to threaten either road, well, not unless the Reb cavalry could  drive superior numbers of Yankee infantry out from behind stone walls and woods.  

Overview of the battlefield as the cavalry was ordered to cut the road "If practicable".
Brigadier Jacks rolled a 6 and ordered his brigade forward. 

The last turns of fighting were bitter and bloody across the board but the dice gods had decided to favour the Rebs. The charge of the Butternut horsemen was legendary, the attack on the stone wall was repulsed  as expected but the Yankees in the wood broke and ran. They ran and were pursued and sabered as they ran, until the cavalry pulled up across the vital road and rested, hooting at the stragglers.  They didn't control the whole road, but they held the exit and a clear road to it.  


Picture taken just before the Yankee infantry broke and fled.

It wasn't much more than a winning draw, but with heavier casualties and being cut off from one source of reinforcements with the threat of having the Rebels march off that road into the rear, the Federal commander had no choice but to withdraw. 

After much foofarah, thinking (ouch!) and experimenting,  I finally decided to just go back to an ACW variant on the Square Brigadier. I might post a bit about the rules in a few days, and why I made that choice, once I get them tidied. I might even play a quick game to confirm the choice, but I still have a 16thC Anglo Scots game to play and there are pikes and bills to mend, so, time will tell! 


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Battle of Red Mill Crossing Pt1

At last, a taste of winter, so I stole a few hours to finish the game, or a game, the multi-hex Brigade thing didn't survive past the three turns I played the other day so I quietly shuffled the ttoops back into 1 regiment per hex, adjusted the rules and carried on. 

After an indecisive clash, the cavalry pulled back to the flank and let the infantry take over.

The scenario was an impromptu meeting engagement. The dice decided that both sides were marching along over two converging roads which cross over around the big red building. Controlling a road across the board and off one enemy side while denying the enemy both roads on your side seemed like a reasonable objective. I then diced for a battle plan for each side, a simple matter of dicing for where each brigade would appear then listing three viable plans and dicing to choose one.

Gratuitous close up of the Southern army deploying.

I really liked some of the aspects of the 2 or 3 contiguous hex Brigades but by the time I had resolved the Yankee attack on the mill, I discovered that I hadn't thought things through well enough. For example, what happens when part of a Brigade is in close combat and wins and goes to occupy the ground when the other half is still trading fire because its not in close combat range or worse, simultaneously loses a melee against a different enemy?

Equally gratuitous view of the Northern artillery opening fire.

Well, it was suppertime so I left it there and thought about it over night. It would have been possible to come up with answers but I decided that it was too much work and anyway, I missed my regiments, some of which have a 40 year history. So, I separated the units back into their regiments, tweaked the rules, again, and again and resumed the fight with half the turns left to go.

After a sharp fight, the Union seized the Red Mill which dominated the crossroad.

Tomorrow I will post the remainder of the battle including the nail biting climax where victory turned on one last throw of the dice.