Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Another Flowerpot Men Duel

"En Garde, Bill!"
"Damn yer eyes, Ben!"
EDIT: I was playing around with the Blogger app on my tablet and didn't realise I published this post before I'd finished it! Apologies. (Though it's heartening I still got two comments in that time...)

Well, it's been a while!

Finally got a game under my belt AND remembered to bring the camera! It's been a torrid time for me in  past month or so. The flu season has been the worst for a long time, and I was off work for about a week in early August. Then I had to have an infected tooth removed...etc., etc.

This game was the first I'd been to at the new NWA Saturday venue at the Croydon RSL club, which, while a bit more snug than the previous venue, certainly has its bonuses: There's a bar! Nothing like having a cold one while contemplating military tactics.

Anyway, Bill and I decided on another Peninsular War scenario using the randomised entry of advanced guard, main body and rear guard formations. Bill started off holding the central village with his Portuguese, while my advanced came on the board at a randomised point. From then on we rolled to see when and where our next units came on, adding little randomised chaos to the game! Bill also devised another variable by adding ANOTHER roll, dubbed the "racist roll". In the event of his main body or rearguard successfully rolling to enter the board, Bill would then roll again to see if the British commanders would ignore the pleas of their Portuguese allies, dismissing them as "panicky foreigners". In the event, his British units remained faithful to their oldest allies, but it added a certain frisson of danger to the game!

Bill started off the game with two Portuguese line infantry battalions occupying the central villages, while two battalions of skirmished caçadores held the wooded ridgeline and vineyard across the stream. My advanced guard crossed the stream by the vineyard with one of my battalions in skirmish order to fend off the nearest caçadore battalion. Ineffective skirmish combat kept the Portuguese at bay while the rest of my force crossed the stream and formed up behind the villages. His artillery and some of his infantry redeployed to meet the threat, but with no cavalry, his infantry were effectively blocked from taking offensive action. However, I didn't really have enough infantry to take advantage of that fact, so it devolved into an artillery slug-fest with my guns whittling down his infantry square, while my skirmishers bickered away with his. My skirmishers eventually prevailed over the caçadores, forcing them back from the stream with losses.

That coincided with my main body making an appearance on the board behind the Portuguese position. Caught between hammer and anvil! Now to press on before the Anglo-Portuguese main body appeared. But, wait! Bill also rolled for his main body to appear on the table. Still, he had to make the "racist roll"...Curses! He passed it! Then he had to roll for his entry point on the table. Guess where he rolled for? Right behind my advanced guard. Now I was the one in between a rock and a hard place!

After putting my infantry in defensive formations to face the dangers from both directions, I moved the hussars from threatening the Portuguese artillery to face the British threat. I thought I was toast there for a while, but then Bill moved his light dragoons into my opportunity charge range. I declared the charge, managed to roll for it and launched the charge (Nothing worse than declaring you're going to take the opportunity, then flubbing the roll; Officers yell "CHARGE!" and the troopers say "Yeah...nah"). SO satisfying to have things go the right way for a change; the hussars barrelled into the advancing light dragoons and smacked them around a bit before pulling up just short of the infantry. Not such a nice place to end up, but the British were stuck where they were for the moment, pinned to the edge of the board with the cavalry behind the infantry licking their wounds from the rough handling they'd been given.

Just then the sun seemed to be out and smiling on my efforts as my rearguard appeared in the quadrant closest to be able to support my game-saving hussars! Infantry and another cavalry regiment (chasseurs this time) were arriving ready to fall on the British flank if they were ever able to advance away from the edge of the table.

Of course, that advantage didn't last long with Bill's rearguard appearing on the table (fortunately a fair distance away). Still, I needed to get my skates on if I wanted to keep the advantage. I elected to keep the horse gun battery facing the villages in order to keep the Portuguese in cover, while trying to get as much infantry to bear on the British brigade pinned to the edge of the board by the hussars. This was made easier by Bill keeping his caçadores in skirmish order, but I was sure he wouldn't be leaving them in that formation for much longer.

On the other side I was spreading my main body out along the stream. At first I contemplated storming the nearest BUA, but decided that I should first secure the flanks. After Bill's rearguard came on nearby, I decided that should be the primary  focus of my rearguard, despite the fact that my troops were beginning to be spread out to cover all contingencies. With his riflemen peppering my columns as they advanced, my forces were being disordered before they could get in a position to threaten Bill's exposed line. I had a moment wbere it looked like I could get around his flank, but by skillfully withdrawing the flank just out of reach each time I threatened, my chance quickly evaporated. Nowhere else along that sector did  I have enough of a concentration of forces to break his defences. After a little toying, where I managed to force back but not destroy an infantry square, Bill got his second cavalry unit into their rear of my pinning force and then freed the original unit I'd charged. After the hussars were dealt with, my inantry were caught between both cavalry units and were picked off one by one. With that front collapsing and stalemate on the other, we declared it an Anglo-Portuguese victory.

Although it wasn't a favourable outcome, it was still a very entertaining game. The fortunes of war fluctuated from one player to the other causing all sorts of consternation, and with lots of open flanks it was a real challenge to protect all contingencies. Bill's 'racist' dice roll was another innovation,  but unfortunately (for me!) didn't have an effect on the game.



Hussars and horse gun battery approach villages with infantry following behind.

Caçadores in the vineyard...

...and on the wooded hilltop.

The French forces cross the stream, to be met by the Portuguese artillery.

The Caçadores leave the vineyard to confront the last French légère battalion, which has unformed.

Skirmish combat ensues, while the rest of the French forces across the stream ready themselves for action.

The skirmish line

The French triple threat (a bit light on infantry, though. Light?...Infantry?...Geddit?! Ha!)

Bill protects his artillery with an infantry square on one flank and a line anchored between the 2 occupied BUAs.

My légère skirmishers win their combat, forcing the caçadores to retire with losses.

Blurry action shot of my main body entering the board!

Portuguese get that funny feeling that they're being watched...

Curses! The table are turned almost immediately!
Bill's main body appear behind my advanced guard's position.

Hussars about face towards the threat

One battalion faces the Portuguese while the other turns along with the horse gun battery.

On the other side of the table, my main body advances on the Portuguese position.

The hussars take the charge at the advancing British cavalry!

The light dragoons are repulsed! They also retreat through their own infantry, disordering them all.
Huzzah!

Behind that action, the rearguard rides to the rescue!

The hussars pull back with a parting shot from the British, while the rearguard appears at the top left.

Bill's rearguard appears off the flank of my main body on the other side of the table!

Bill's caçadores enter the walled field, threatening the French columns. My rearguard approaches the fight from the top. In the top right corner, though, British cavalry can be seen!

The French guns and infantry line facing the villages remain oblivious to the threat!

On the other side of the table, my main body spread out instead of concentrating against one target.

While my guns attempt to whittle the British infantry in preparation for my infantry columns to charge, the pesky rifles with their long-range fire rack up the disorders on my columns!

Disaster!
Back in the center, the British cavalry from the main body spring their trap on the horse guns

They then take the breakthrough into the infantry line who are unable to form square in time!

"Tally-ho! Yoiks and away!"

Things are looking crook in Tallarook!
Time to go on the offensive, methinks!

One battered battalion in square moves forward to block the threatening British cavalry, covering the neighbouring column's path as it charges the nearest British infantry square.

I was hoping to break into the square and then unleash the hussars behind...

Although successful...

...the square was only pushed back, not broken.

Meanwhile, between the villages, my lines were getting out flanked. With added firepower from the artillery now released from guarding against the French artillery, my infantry was in a losing position.

Even with rear support, their numbers were shrinking fast. 

Further down the stream, my infantry had crossed with the intention of outflanking the British line, but with constant rearward movement guarded by persistent galling skirmish fire they were relatively safe. They were extremely powerful light bobs who would have made mincemeat of my poor, battered regulars if push came to shove.

On the stream between these two actions was another 3 battalions which couldn't really do anything but block. Charging a BUA across the stream with support from the line would have been risky at best and suicidal at worst! I'd spent too long faffing at the edges when I should have concentrated on the BUA.

Bill's coup de grace: his light dragoons (all recovered now) charge the flank of the closed column after his caçadores had pushed back my weakened square.

After smashing the closed column, the light dragoons' momentum takes them into the square, which is too weak to resist...

...taking the dragoons into the flank of my valiant hussars!

The dragoons end up like a knife blade in the heart of tne French position.
Game over!



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Neapolitan Reinforcements



The next battalion off the workbench is the 1st battalion of the 7th Line Regiment of the Neapolitan Army. This was the famous black regiment recruited from Caribbean exiles from Saint-Domingue which was foisted onto Napoleon's brother Joseph when he was King of Naples. An anecdote I read somewhere claimed that this regiment went from being the worst in the French army to the best in the Neapolitan without any change in their abilities! I'm not sure how many, if any, of the black troops were left by the Battle of Tolentino in 1815, but I decided to paint them up that way to lend a little exoticness to the brigade. More info on the history of this regiment can be found here

Speaking of Tolentino, I realise now I've completely cocked up the OB; So far I've painted the 1st and 10th Line regiments and the 1st Light. Only the 7th and the 1st Light are from the same brigade! I should have painted the first two as the 4th and 8th Line, which have amaranth and pink facings, respectively. It looks like I'll either have to repaint the facings (groan!) or just keep adding to my Neapolitan collection!





I've also added some command stands to the collection using Franznap's brilliantly characterful figures. First off is a dismounted stand featuring a general and his AdC viewing the battlefield before them with an Italeri horse contentedly munching the grass in the background.



Second is the mounted general receiving some news from his AdC, who rides up, touching his hat in greeting.




I'm shortly going to paint up an army command stand featuring the Dandy King, Joachim Murat himself! Stay tuned!



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