Sunday, 9 October 2011

Engagement at Villa Daxa

This was a fictitious engagement set during the Peninsular war in the summer of 1813. We used blackpowder rules with a couple of amendments. The premise was that the two sides had been sparing in the local but things had settled down and the troops had been spread out a among the local villages. The French had learned that a Brigade of British troops were quartered in the small hamlet of villa Daxa in a slightly exposed position. A French division under the command of General Villatte was ordered to take the village.
Myself and Bart commanded the French while Dax gave his British and outing. The British started with a Brigade in the village and promise of support. The French arrived down the two roads approaching the town  I had Pacthod's brigade-27th legere and the 64th linge. Beaumont's light cavalry Brigade - 2nd Hussars and the 5th Chasseurs. Barts had Puthoc's Brigade - 94th and 95th linge, arriving on the road behind the river. Delebele's Brigade - 5th and 16th Dragoons, was in reserve.

The plan was simple, I would launch a few pinning attacks on the village while Bart flanked the village for the main assault. The first turn saw the some rapid advances but a lot of nothing as troops refused to move. Bart's first problem was a small farm defended by a Militia battalion. Some poor command dice reduce the attack to a crawl as he tried to get into position. The lead Battalions mangaed to get themselves disordered by some lively musketry from the farm.

Meanwhile I had raced up two guns to firing positions by the village. Myself and Dax have had previous with village fights, I had given him a bit of a bloody nose at a Vittoria re-fight last year. Now the positions were reversed and he was looking to do the same to me.

Assaulting a village under Blackpowder is a real challenge, you need to combine artillery with massed infantry assaults and keep a reserve. Having played Blackpowder a few times it would seem to me to be a game of reserves. The influence of fresh troops can be decisive as it is very easy for troops to become quite worn with out doing very much.

Back to the action, the French light cavalry brigade pushed forward to engage some light Dragoons lurking behind a wood. In the ensuing melee the 2nd Hussars were driven back and nearly off the board by the light dragoons. This side of the table then settled down with a string of failed command rolls for both sides.

My guns battering of the village was taking its toll even though Dax had cycled his battalions they had both taken a pasting. I prepared for an assault.

Things were not going so well for Bart on the other flank, his lead infantry kept getting pinned down by the militia battalion. In response he swept two battalions round in a wide move round the rear. As he prepared to swing in on the rear of the farm, a thin red crescent of Hairy Highlanders formed around them. The British reserves had arrived and on some amazing command dice. In the ensuing two rounds of fire both battalions were wiped out. This threat to the flank change our priorities some what and a new plan of a delaying action by Bart while I launched a full blooded directed assault on the front of the village. I love it when plans fall apart.

Things went from bad to worse, a quick assault on the village was what was required but could I get those command rolls, no is the short answer. 2 turns of milling about in front of the village was about all my command was capable of. The Gunners were performing heroics on the flank as they kept up the fire while under an intense fusillade from the village and a supporting battalion.

Bart had managed to stabilise his flank, in quick succession he captured the farm and then dished out some pain to the Hairy Highlanders. The capture of the farm gave new impetus to the French attacks or lack of and finally the dice said we could advance. In a couple of rounds of fighting the 27th Legere drove the British out of the front of the village. The game was poised on a knifes edge and unfortunately we had to call it a day.

The game was declared a draw. The British would probably need more infantry to retake what they had lost but with a bit of re-jigging of the line they should be able to put in place enough reserves to hold the remainder of the village, assuming the French did not get lucky with a quick assault. For the French only a rapid assault would have a chance in the short term otherwise they too would need more infantry and guns to launch a deliberate assault. So ADCs were despatched to the rear and the weary commanders retired to the local taverna to discuss the days events.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Sept Vents, Operation Bluecoat 1944

 Operation Bluecoat was another British attempt to break the deadlock along the Normandy front. The Americas had launch operation Cobra to the south east and the British were pushing up to put more pressure on the German line. Our game is based on the assault on the village of Sept Vents at the start of Bluecoat.
Von Dax and myself were doing our best with the 'orrible hun, while the doughty British were commanded by Major 'Jimbo' Loutitt and Corporal 'Old Soak' Hodge. The Germans deployed hidden with a large lump of nazi fiendishness, carefully placing their mines and machine guns.

So to the tale, after a long round of tea drinking, discussing the weather and the finer points of middle and leg, our British commanders got the troops rolling. Major Loutitt, obsessed with maintaining the proper formation of an echeloned attack, could be heard over the radio waves telling anyone who would listen. Corporal Hodge did not looked too interested busy as he was checking the beer in his knapsack.
The lead scouts, on the left of the British advance spotted some fresh faced Nazis in the next field. After arranging his troops into some kind of thin brown line, a mass of fire pored forth pinning half of the Nazis. The remainder opened up and then legged it back to the next field, deserting their pinned comrades. Major Loutitt leapt over the hedge followed by the rest of the company, 'Take that sausage eater!' drifted back over the hedge rows. The 8 or so Hitler youth were massacred in the bottom of their scrapes as the major leapt about shouting obscenities, empting his Webley.

Back to his old theme, the Major halted his company in the ex-Nazi positions to get his echelon back into shape. He had however fallen into a feindish Nazi trap, the blighters had pre registered their artillery on their hastely vacated positions. Resting his boot on the blond locks of the master race, Major Loutitt looked rather shocked with the whine of the approaching shells. Von Dax could be observed rubbing his hands with glee as the whole British company was bracketed, the Majors use of obscenities reach new levels.

As the Major's company was grovelling in the dirt trying to escape the fiendish Nazi trap, Corporal Hodges lot pushed forward. The more professional approach was paying off as a bit of spotting followed by fire and movement gained ground. True to form, more fiendishness was in store and a hidden MG put a staccatoed end to proceddings. The Corporal watched in horror as the devilish Hun pinned his mates in an open field. Fortunately a British tank boy was on hand and soon put paid to the MG's fun and the advance pushed up to the hedge by the sunken road.

After a brief pause behind the hedge Corporal Hodge and his men vaulted over the hedge and straight into a minefield. It would seem however that the German mines were faulty, probably manufactured in some French factory, and the British troops raced through with no casualties. A burst of Spandau fire and the sound of breaking glass brought disaster to Corporal Hodge, his precious beer was gone. Fighting mad, he stormed the Nazis position, which turned out to contain a full platoon, in a bloody encounter the corporal bayoneted every Nazi he could get his hands on. The remainder broke and ran leaving the British holding the position. VC all round was the cry, at which point the battle drew to a close.

While the Germans were not beaten the momentum was most definitely with the British. It was a good fun game with Corporal Hodges charge at the end being the highlight.

Bridge at Villa Fatta

The premiss for this scenario was that a small force of British had secured a bridgehead over a secondary river crossing. The French were racing to contain the bridgehead and then to eliminate it while british reinforcements rushed to secure and expand the crossing. The French were commanded by myself and Bart, while Angus had the British. We were using General de Brigade 3 which was a bit of a change.

The British force consisted of 5x32 man battalions of infantry 1 regiment of cavalry and a battery of guns. The French had 6x24 man battalions of Infantry 1 regiment of cavalry and a battery of guns. The British placed 2 battalions of Infantry over the river with some skirmishers with the rest arriving as reinforcements. The French arrived with 3 battalions and the guns directly ahead of the bridgehead and 3 battalions and the cavalry on the flank.

The game got under way with the French making a general advance towards the British positions. Due to an inordinate amount of whining from the British side about it being an unfair that the French got all their troops on the table, the British were allowed to receive their reinforcements immediately. This was followed by the artillery being fortuitously at the front of the column. Only bad dice on Angus's part stop this game turning into a farce.

The fortuitous artillery wheeled off the road and went straight up the hill behind the town there was a bit of whining that they would not reach the position in time and this was all a monstrous plot until it was pointed out they could move twice as fast at that distance from the enemy. The British cavalry trotting behind the artillery had poured over the bridge and were now moving round onto the flank.

The French began their assault on the bridgehead from the front after shaking out into line. The flanking attack was now flanked in turn by the British artillery on the hill, some bad rolls from the guns saved the French from too much pain but the attack was already beginning to fragment.

With British reinforcements pouring over the bridge
the French were going to have to do something very quickly. As they began to develop the attack on the orchard at the side of the bridge to try and flank the British line. The initial fighting in the orchard was quick as my skirmishers chased off the opposite numbers. The back of the orchard however was filling up with British infantry.
The British cavalry debouched form the orchard and as they formed up the french flank battalion formed square. They executed a sharp charge but were driven off. The French Cavalry swept round the square and charge home but were soundly thrashed and driven backwards.

At this point a veil was drawn over proceedings as time had run out.

I did not like some of the changes made to General de Brigade 3, while keeping the bean counting element with calculating each 10% casualties, the firing has been toned down. This makes units incredibly difficult to break down, with the rules being generally quite slow we are never going to get to a resolution on a club night. Artillery has also has become rather ineffective batteries seem to hand out one casualty a turn on average. The melee still has some strange casualty resolution with it calculated by number of figures, infantry squares will always take casualties from cavalry.

On a separate note - I like to play games that are not straight up points fights and this requires some form of scenario and some umpiring decisions. My personal feeling is that a scenario should flow like a story, with judgements being made to speed up or slow down the arrival of reinforcements. While some players will put up with their lot and try to make a fist of the situation, others will whine and moan that it is all so unfair.

Whine over.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Battle of Mga

Mga is an urban locality in Kirovsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia. the Germans had captured it the day before but had been driven out by a strong counter attack. As day broke on the 30th August 1941, Mga was the last rail line out of  Leningrad and so our game begins.

The Germans were commanded by myself and Hugh with the Russians commanded by Colin and Bart. The Russians had some barbed wire on the outskirts of Mga but little else in the way of defences. The Germans were offered the choice of the two roads leading to Mga from the west and the south. The Motorcycle battalion with an attached armoured car, commanded by Hugh, approached from the southern road while the main force of 2 infantry battalions with 2 armoured companies approached from the west.

Hugh's troops encountered the first signs of resistance as they moved up to the small farm complex. Getting into the Blitzkrieg swing of things, Hugh swept past the farm and on to the rail line ignoring all resistance on route As the motorcyclists bumped over the train line, Russians began popping like mushrooms on a damp morning. It was beginning to look like von Hugh's death ride. The Regimental commander, peering agog through his field glasses, could be heard muttering "dummkopf" under his breath.

The main force pushed on towards Mga trough some harassing mortar fire. Conscious of the wood on the northern flank a small screening force was detached. Von Hugh's death ride had revealed a Russian infantry battalion in the fields directly to the front. As the uints moved up to engage the northern screening force located another infantry battalion in the wood and the fields behind. In the next few turns artillery strikes backed up by tank and infantry fire eliminated the defenders in the fields with no losses.

The defenders in the woods meanwhile were busy chucking Molotov cocktails at the pz38t parked outside. Possibly having drunk all the "Molotov"  they were quite unsuccessful.

 Our umpire had been busy rolling dice whenever he remembered and eventually the result rolled on in the form of a rather impressive armoured train.

The German forces began to focus their fire onto the town and the train. The front of the train engaged the German tanks it failed to hit anything but the return fire was much more accurate and knocked out the front turret. Realising that the train was covering an a/t gun on the road, it rolled forward out of the town.

As the German tanks charged the train to get into close range for maximum effect  the Russians sprang another surprise as 2 companies of light tanks raced on from the south in the ensuing fire fight the train and 4 Russian tanks were knocked out for the loss of one tank and a few damaged.

Time had caught up with us and the game drew to a close. The writing was on the wall for the Russians and it would only be a matter of time before the Germans cut the last rail line to Moscow.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Napoleonic French

For Sale

The are on ebay here

Battalion of French Infantry

Friday, 26 August 2011

Vyazma 1812, Blackpowder

Having failed in his attempt to secure an escape route to the south after the debacle of Moscow, Napoleon was faced with heading back down the route from which he came. As the French forces headed west along the route from Moscow to Smolensk, the rearguard, consisting of Davout's 1st corps took up successive covering positions.

The Russian commander Miloradovich realised that an opportunity existed to cut off Davout's corps. As the cossacks demonstrated in front of the main position 2 cavalry crops slipped round the southern flank and cut across the French line of retreat.

Our game starts at this point, however the Russians in our scenario had managed to throw up a redoubt, install a couple of heavy guns and get 1 infantry brigade into position across the line of retreat and 2 cavalry brigades.

The Army list can be found here:

The French plan was to pin the left flank while assaulting the redoubt with the bulk of the force on the right. Speed was key before the Russian flanking forces could put the squeeze on. The initial moves saw a rather lacklustre French advance, Dave Marks and Ian Gale got some bad ice. The French poured on from turn 2, the Infantry made a rapid advance on the left, while the heavy cavalry swept round the right flank to face the Russian heavy cavalry brigade.

A sharp charge by the Russian Cuirassier smashed the dragoon regiment and left the Cuirassier shaken before retiring. The French were in a bad way with heavy cavalry to the front and a table edge filling up with cossacks. In the ensuing 5 turns the French Cuirassier were subject to repeated charges first from cossacks and then Cuirassiers, with some lucky dice throwing and a fortuitous misreading of the rules they fought them all off. Finally they retired back behind the supporting cavalry on the last turn of the game.

The main French assault was not quite taking shape as expected. The right hand column had stalled in front of the redoubt while the left was forging ahead and preparing to assault the Russian line. In a desperate attempt to get the assault on the redoubt moving, the support brigade was leapfrogged through.

Dave's battalions on the left began assaulting the Russian lines. In two rather disastrous turns, 3 battalions were wiped out and the forth was just about surrounded. The supporting brigade was hurried forward but with Russian infantry appearing on the flank things were not looking good.

The assault on the redoubt began to take shape as the lead brigade formed up and pushed on into charge range. Some rather unlucky command dice left the brigade just short and a round of fire left it broken. Any hope of escape was now gone and victory was conceded to the Russians.

It was a fast and enjoyable game with blackpowder. While the rules do not provide all the nuances for the grizzled Napoleonic commander they do give you a result in the tight time constraints of a game night.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pics Of some old figures

An officer of Napoleons Guard Chasseurs a cheval

This serious looking chap is the only figure I painted up for my Pisa army for the condottieri period of Italian History. It is something I have always meant to do but there always seems to be something else pushing to the front of the painting queue.

A couple of planes from Dom's Decals.