Sunday, April 22, 2012

I've been Polish-ed up!

Back in the saddle again after nearly 6 weeks without a game! 

The long postponed game against John R. finally came to fruition last Friday night at the club. I was trembling with wargaming withdrawal DTs as I set up my Anglo-Iberian forces. While I had quantity over quality, with my heterogeneous infantry contingent, John had quality over quantity with a homogenous Polish force. I was planning to anchor my left on the buildings using my Spanish line battalions, as their suspect morale makes them an iffy prospect in open combat, while using the more reliable British line battalions to do the heavy lifting. I had the 92nd Gordon Highlanders and the 72nd GLHI plus the Portuguese brigade as a reserve, which I thought would be plenty to force the issue.

My original setup: Spaniards closest to the camera, Portuguese in the centre and British in the distance.
The lines didn't stay quite so neat!

"Niech żyje Polska!"

Hills Hiding Hussars!

"On do Lizbony!"

My serried ranks with ample reserves (or so I thought!).
Little did I know those were 12lbers ahead!

In actuality, my Spanish had the best of it and were about to roll up the Polish right flank, when my British line crumbled under the pressure of concentrated artillery fire and  infantry cavalry pressure, not to mention some ordinary dice rolls combined with some lucky rolls from John!

The pride of Spain!

My new guerrillero shouting threats at the Poles from a safe distance!
(He survived, but he didn't do anything either!)

What really spelled my doom was an unwise charge by my cavalry in the centre, followed by an opportunity charge by John's dragoons that we both forgot had to be rolled for first to see if the opportunity was taken. Fog of war! It may not have mattered as I pulled up my charging cavalry column after the target infantry battalion succeeded in forming square, which left my cavalry half-in, half out of an artillery battery, blocking it and adding disorders to the cavalry. John's resulting charge cleaned up the cavalry and both artillery batteries, which until that point were giving me good service in whittling down John's infantry lines immediately to their front.

My Spanish and British 9lbers did good service until I threw them away!

Caught flat-footed, the cavalry, guns and a battalion of Portuguese cop it in the neck!

Wrong way, lads!


Over on the British right flank, the riflemen of the 5/60th and the battalion light companies were peppering the Poles to their front, racking up disorders, supported by my other cavalry regiment and a battery of horse guns. 
Skirmish line advances...

...and starts their work...

...backed up by cavalry and artillery.

The first inkling I had that things were not going to go my way was when my lines came into range of John's 3 artillery batteries; I found out the hard way that one of them was a 12lber battery! Its first discharge knocked 3 figures of my line. Ouch! I withdrew them, causing a distinct bowing of the line, but next round they still suffered a casualty, causing an automatic morale test which they duly failed!

The line immediately in front of John's gun line.
"I wonder how big those guns are?"

"F@#$îng 12lbers?!"

"Steady lads!"

The line bends away from the guns

"Bugger this for a game of soldiers! We're off!"

It was then I decided that I had to do something offensive ("Your mother wears army boots!", I yelled), rather than stand on the offensive to get pummeled by his artillery. The disastrous cavalry charge could have been a winner, but I think I would have been better off getting in a position to attack his cavalry before starting on his infantry, rather than the other way around. As it was, his cavalry went battlemad and ended deep in my rear, unsupported. Even though I peppered him from the flank and rear with several Spanish units, their abysmal shooting and my pathetic dice rolls, coupled with John's infernally lucky dice rolling,  allowed him to survive. That didn't last for long, though, and the law of averages finally went my way when a 4th Spanish battalion joined the fun and fired in the dragoons'rear and they failed the resulting morale test. Huzzah!
John's dragoons left high and dry with infantry converging on their flanks.

They are fired upon, but manage to withdraw without suffering any consequences.

"Where'd they go?!

"There they are!"

Cacadores approach, fire, miss and the dragoons just give a  contemptuous Gallic shrug.

A Spanish battalion approaches and fires with the same result.

Finally, the Regimiento Irlandais approaches, fires, misses, but spook sthe horse enough to set them running for the rear! Hurrah!

On the other flank, John decided it was time to move before my skirmishers did too much damage and advanced while his guns played down my lines. I withdrew the 50th foot and another of my line regiments and replaced them with the highlanders and light infantry, seeing what was about to come.

I was banking on the massed firepower of my elite highlanders knocking enough figures off the attacking columns to affect their pre-melee morale check to an extent that would make the result of the charge doubtful. Although I did great damage to his attacking columns, John again pulled a die-roll out of his backside that allowed his Poles to ignore the damage and charge home. In the melee John rolled well again, while I didn't roll well enough, and his weight of numbers tore through the highlanders, leaving a gaping hole!

The Poles gear up for the charge

"Dać im chłopców bagnetowym!"

A dirty great hole where the Gordons used to be!

I felt the only way to restore the balance was to try a little offensive action myself, and sent the cavalry on that wing at the remaining infantry line which had suffered a lot from the skirmishers. John had kept his hussars behind the hill, with a vedette out keeping an eye on things. Once I declared the charge, he declared an opportunity charge. At this point we realised he needed to roll the dice to see if he actually took the charge (which he should have done the first time around!). In this case he failed to take the opportunity, which actually worked in his favour. I was actually hoping he'd be able to take it and we'd have a cavalry combat that I felt I had a chance of winning. Instead, I charged his infantry who successfully formed square and blasted me back to my starting point, after which John then launched his hussars. Now I had disorders as well as being blown, so I was never going to win and was duly smashed.

Cavalry face off 

My charge bounces off the Polish square...

...and are then ridden down by an avalanche of horse-flesh!

Hi-tech wargaming;
John uses a laser level to judge whether or not the infantry column gets cleaned up.
They survived by a whisker!

On the Spanish flank, it was too late to retrieve the situation, but not too late to try to and extract some pride  and gain a local success, I thought!

John sent in an infantry charge against the closed column of Spanish light infantry which formed the right hand side of an anchored line. They were duly crushed, but the victorious Poles were then left exposed in amongst a lot of angry Spaniards! The Regimieto Irlandais formed up on the flank of one of the Polish battalions and fired, while my Walloon Guards and Regimiento Toledo formed line on the flank of the other. The battalion fired on by the Irlandais cracked and fled, while I ran out of functions in that turn for the Walloons to fire, but it would have been nice!

The Polish columns crush the column anchoring the right of the line...
...and push on through the resulting gap...

...leaving them vulnerable to a flank fire. Off they run in the distance!

The Walloons and Toledos form up on the remaining column's flank

Unfortunately, the game had run its course and when the Buffs formed up on the flank of the Scots-crushing Poles, their artillery caught the Buffs in the flank and forced them to flee, spelling the end of the British division and the end of the game, so my Walloons didn't get the fun of a killer flank shot!

The Buffs trying to get in on the flank of the Scots crushing Poles, but in turn cop flank fire from the Polish artillery.

No nice neat lines anymore!

Bring out your dead!


  1. Terrific battle report, good detail and engaging. I might have missed it, but what rules were you using?

    1. Thanks FBM!

      We use a set of house rules called 'Cold Steel' that are loosely based on the earlier versions of Empire, but heavily altered over time to suit our needs. We are up to v.8 at the moment, which still needs a little tweaking before it's ready to be used in anger!

  2. A great "high tech" spanish report...I prefer spanish army but...polish troops always behave courageously!
    Very nice work!

  3. Great report and lovely pictures. Looks like a great game and fun was had by all

  4. What a game report and what a bruising outcome! Loved the use of hi tech gadgetry as well!

  5. An excellent report, of what looked like a top game. I loved the gadget too!

  6. Well done report. Good looking game as well.

  7. Great report and cool photos Rosbif.

  8. Looks like a lot of fun. And a term that's new to me..."pulled a die roll out of his backside." I'll need to use that one soon!

    1. It was completely like "...and here's one I prepared earlier!" :)

  9. Enjoyable report Ben with some great accompanying photos. You did well to fit in the game and the photos on a club night, but we all appreciate your effort. I especially liked seeing the 1/72nds mixing it with the Minifigs 25 mm—and probably improving the aesthetic. Particularly liked to see some Airfix Highlanders, a beaut set. (BTW, what does one do with excess highlanders when there are already sufficient to represent every kilted unit... Valencia infantry, Greek infantry?!)
    It seems that you may have suffered from being 'passive-agressive'. Next time you'll have to go in hard. Remember the old wargamers maxim(?): "you gotta break an egg to make an omelette!

    1. Thanks James.

      The highlanders are actually metal SHQ/Kennington, not Airfix. Check the link to MBM models for a list of others in the range. I have Portuguese as well by that manufacturer.

      The problem with playing British in our rules is that they are a bit brittle and I still haven't found the right combination of offensive/defensive play. I'm more comfortable playing French in their larger columns of attack.

  10. Apologies for the mis-identification; I was sure that I recognised that reloading fiure, but obviously not!

    Always better to play French :-)

  11. Very exciting! Always nice to see the Poles getting some work. It sounds like your dice were conspiring against you. The good news is that your dice rolls should be better next time (law of averages and so on...)!


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