Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep them wagons rolling. Game 1.

I would love to be in a position to present 5 detailed battle reports but alas I took few pictures, no notes  and wasn't on the ball enough to grab the order pads, therefore as memory's lamp is already dimming, only the most vague and disjointed accounts are possible. The only saving grace is that some interesting tactical and gaming lessons remain reasonably clear and hopefully may be of some interest. (More pictures of the games may be seen at Rob's blog and Norman's blog.)  BTW, if any of the players are willing and able to add a comment explaining their plan or relating their experience of the game, please do so) 

The Situation.  Notionally, this year's games comprised a reprisal for last year's Raid on St. Michel.  The Northern Alliance led by Rosmark, has invaded Schoeffen-Buschhagen seeking compensation for damage done. To enforce their demands, they are planning to lay siege to the fortress of Adelheim.  Some of the Pragmatic Allies who had composed the raiding force last year came to the defence of Adelheim,  one joined the Northern Alliance, and the rest stayed home.  (in reality based on what troops were required for the games rather than on any political machinations)

GAME 1. Stocking the Fort. The 1st game was a variation on the Wagon Train scenario from CS Grant's Scenarios for Wargamers played as a straight up Charge! game with 3 infantry or 2 cavalry or light infantry companies/squadrons per scenario unit .  The goal for the Pragmatic force was to get 4 or more wagon loads of supplies into the fortress. The goal of the Northern Alliance was to capture at least 4 wagons.  Their force was the largest but they were scattered and marching on at randomly selected times and places.  As it turns out, they came on in a remarkably compact fashion with only 1 gun arriving from the North.    1 cavalry regiment failed to show but alas it was due to GM confusion rather than the dice.  (Sorry lads!)

The only picture I snapped, Not exactly an ideal shot. There is at least 1 more on Rob's blog.

Four notable things stand out in my memory. 

Light Infantry vs Cavalry. The first was a charge by 2 squadrons of Dragoons upon the Pandours, a light infantry battalion. The authors's commented that a unit of light infantry must shoot well to survive a cavalry charge, and the Pandours had heeded their advice. Winning the toss, they fired at short range and scored incredibly well, despite the 1/2 casualties for cavalry. In the melee, they did quite well in the 2:1 combats and at the end of the 1st round, the melee was drawn with the cavalry being only a few figures above being below strength. I think I would have pulled back, content to have done damage to the light infantry and  tying them up for two turns but the cavalry commander was made of sterner stuff and demanded a 2nd round of melee. Being heavily outnumbered, these combats were all even up. If the dice in the 2nd round hadn't favoured the cavalry, they would have been wiped out but as it was, the final result was a drawn melee with the cavalry being 1 figure above under strength.     

Grudge Match.  The 2nd was a clash between old enemies the Allied Hussars and Rosmark's Yellow Hussars. Last year the Yellow Hussars won every encounter hands down, filling the prisoner cages with Wachovian Hussars. This year, in a straight up fight,  the Wachovians and their Schoeffen-Buschhagen allies routed the Yellow Hussars in 1 turn of melee taking several prisoners and driving them under strength. OH the humanity! At least I now have a reason to paint up a new light cavalry regiment, I'm thinking Uhlans.  Anyone want to buy 20 slightly used Hussars?  I suppose I could just melt down every 1oth man........

Infantry Tactics. The 3rd was an example of simple rules working effectively. It just doesn't pay in Charge! to be in a hurry when the enemy is nearby unless you are pressing an assault.  On several occasions, Northern Alliance infantry, in their rush to get at the enemy, moved forward full speed, in penny packets, either in line, or deploying from column as they went, when the enemy were advancing in good order at a measured pace (i.e. 6") towards them from outside musket range. The result? The Pragmatic infantry were able to unleash their initial volleys without reply. On the other side, the infantry had not only been unable to fire, they had also been unable to close to the point where they could charge next turn without defensive fire.  Luckily for the Northern Alliance, numbers told as wave after wave was fed in  but either an orderly advance in line in 18thC fashion, a massed assault by overwhelming numbers or a rush in column from beyond musket range to within in 3"  would likely have served their purpose  with fewer casualties and more effect.

Command & Control. The last was  an example of how command and control rules aren't really needed in a multi-player setting.  The Carabiniers were tasked with protecting the left flank of the Northern infantry. After some bumping and shuffling, they eventually cleared the way and took up positions just inside cannister range from the forts guns, facing down any attempt to sally from the fort onto the flank of the infantry.  Despite some increasingly less subtle hints that the rules allowed them to fall back the necessary inch to reduce their losses, they stalwartly maintained their position.  Even the approach of the undefended convoy, moving past their flank and towards their front was insufficient to elicit a squadron to run them over. Finally the rallied remnants of the  Schoeffen-Buschhagen Dragoons hit them in the flank just as more cavalry finally sallied from the fort, hitting them as they rallied. 

In the end, the Voluntaires de St. Lambert, under the command of the same player,  pushed through a gap in the lines, nabbed the last 3 wagons and beat off a rescue attempt by the Pragmatic Hussars.  A draw despite the best efforts of both sides.
I think this is long enough for 1 entry so tomorrow I will start on the siege games.




  1. Some interesting observations, particularly on multiple player games. I recall a convention some years ago when I was running Jim Wallman's "En Avant" - which is diceless. A passerby asked if it wasn't just like chess l, whereupon one of the players said " We are the random element".

  2. Now that you mention it, I can think of some games where I have been my own random element.