Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Siege of St. Lambert : The Grand Sortie

On Day 4 the saps crept closer while the artillery bombard included more sound than fury.

Dawn on Day 5 found the saps starting to climb the glacis but behind the covered way, the Germans and Picard's company were massed with fixed bayonets.

With a roar the Queen's men leapt out of the covered way and stormed the heads of the saps. The besieging artillery unleashed a hurried blast of grape while the sappers grabbed their muskets.

A short but sharp melee ensued. When the dust settled, the bodies of the attackers littered the covered way but both engineers had been cut down and the sapping parties driven back in disorder and the new section of saps destroyed. While the melee was in progress the besieging guns turned their attentions to the walls again and dismounted 2 more defending guns! With their final shots, the defenders managed to inflict 3/4 of a casualty! sighhhhh.


This was a trying turn, the rules are frustratingly vague about exactly how sorties  are conducted, points such as whether or not the siege batteries get to fire at the walls each tactical turn or not aren't addressed and while the rules are very similar to Charge!, the sketchy rules don't match  precisely. For example, in Charge!, leaving the covered way would be an obstructed or 1/2 move but there is no mention of such things by Duffy, nor is there any indication of how a melee lasts or how it is decided. Not big issues if running a game as GM and making off the cuff rulings, but with a group of us running the games  and with both players and GM's being used to using Charge! it made sense to me to stay consistent. I reset the sortie and played it again as straight Charge!.

So now we have a garrison with almost no guns facing besiegers with almost no engineers. Hmm.
You may also notice that the old saps have been torn up to provide new ones. I'm going to have to make more!

On to Day 6!


  1. Ross - excellent series of posts - entertaining and fascinating. I am particularly interested in this - before I started working on my own siege rules I did some experimenting with the Fire & Stone rules and my experience was similar to your own - viz the game was fine until you started tactical moves, then everything turned to cheese - there were far too many areas of vagueness. I came to the conclusion that it is necessary to have two related but distinct rule sets for siege and tactical moves.

    Your use of Charge! as the tactical bit is shrewd - I didn't use Charge! but did use something of similar vintage, and found that I had to cut down the rules quite a bit - there's a lot of stuff in a normal battle game which is not likely to happen in a siege, and carrying two full sets of rules in my head at one time is at least one more than I can manage.

    Looking forward to seeing how this works out. Your trench sections look a lot better than mine, by the way!

    Terrific stuff - gripping!


  2. Ross,

    Given how slow siege guns are to fire, I would suggest that NO grape be permitted against a sortie.

    Or at least make it a very very small chance . . . and remember that the sappers would likely be running and thus in the way so as to be hit first.

    Remember, those big guns are very slow to load (what was it? Only 27 shots in the first day?) . . . and unless you caught one just as it was going to be loaded with ball, there wouldn't be time to change loads and aim (let alone miss their sappers and hit the sortie).

    The job of the big guns isn't to deal with infantry or cavalry, but with fortifications.

    The tactical time scale is completely separate from the bombardment time scale. I would suggest that on a sortie, NO artillery fire be allowed. There just isn't time for it.

    -- Jeff

    PS, I am really enjoying these "small chunk" reports.

  3. Tony, The vague tactical bits in F&S are very Charge like which is not surprising since Duffy appears to have started at Sandhurst just before Young left, but since we normally use Charge! with these OS looking figures, it wasn't a stretch. I'm just trying to figure out what impact the differences have apart from any possible speeding up of play. The real kicker is that there will be 2 of us GM'ing so we need to be in synch.

    So we can expect to see Badajoz on the table sometime?

  4. Jeff, I'm inclined to agree with you.

    There is still the case of an assault which use the same tactical rules. The rules are intentionally simple and Duffy treats all artillery the same, perhaps a battery position is assumed to have some 9 and 12 pounders for point defense as well as the Big Boys?.

    I'm thinking about trying to talk my co-hosts into having guns and siege guns. Needs more thought though, the game needs to be fast and furious.


  5. A splendid demonstration of one of wargamings red headed step children. I've been reading your reports with a great deal of interest. Please Sir, may I have some more?

  6. I've got molds for three identifiable grades of artillery, plus two sizes of mortars. :-) So we can do it if we need to.

  7. This is fascinating! I've always been given to understand that siege warfare is, as Conrad Kinch observes, the problem child of wargaming. I've always been of the view, as you, and of course Chris. Duffy have been, that sieges ought to be do-able as part of a campaign.

    Probably, though, you would have to play around with the time scale; but then as a siege is in effect a campaign 'en petit' then your campaign timescale might well (as a 'first guess') suffice. Tactical aspects can revert to 'battle' time scale - sorties, escalades, relief attempts.

    At that, they seem to involve some gritty sort of fighting. That can't be bad (in wargaming terms) can it?

  8. AH! step child,I see. I think this may be only the 2nd siege I've actually gamed (not counting simple assaults, relief games etc). Won't be the last though the next one may be in India.

    I'm not usually big on leaving games up and picking at them but it seems somehow appropriate for a siege so I am adding them to my list of "good for solo" games.