Saturday, May 17, 2014

Somewhere in the Peninsula - or, Fly, the Die Whisperer!

This Friday just passed saw me again at the Mitcham venue with my old sparring partners, John R. and Pete E., but our fourth participant had to drop out at late notice. Luckily I had enough French troops in the toolbox for someone to to join in on the side of darkness. All it took was the lure of a shiny Marshal's baton for someone to sell their soul to the Devil!

And who was the unfortunate who rose to the bait? Our very own Fly, past club secretary, orgainser of the Pirates in September event and all round stalwart of the club! He admitted to not playing Napoleonics for over a year, but still has the reputation as a cunning tactician and a complete terror of the tabletops, so I was prepared for hard game. Though I enjoy playing with the regulars, you sort of get to know their style of play and react accordingly (usually ending in defeat for me!). Playing Fly was a blank page; I had no experience playing him and my only knowledge of his playing style was what others had told me. I was hoping for a good game and to not buckle too early!

I have a habit when playing British, of allowing the French palyer to dictate and remaining passively on the defensive, partly because I never have enough infantry reserves to risk anything too dramatic. Usually, I leave offensive activity to my cavalry and get them blitzed early on. This time I fielded my new British and Portuguese infantry and restricted my cavalry to one regiment of light dragoons and did away with any horse guns, opting for a single foot battery of 9lber guns. The infantry-heavy order of battle, coupled with some more aggressive tactics (and not least a heavy dose of luck at the crucial moment!) saw me through to the end of the game in a fairly commanding position. Though as Pete said, if we were both forced to take a divisional moral test we'd probably both end up running from the field!

As to the Die Whisperer tag, I hear you say? Well, Fly not once..., not twice..., but four times somehow bent the laws of probability to cause the dice to roll the number that he called!  I'd really love to know what sacrifice he made to the dice-gods! Three times he requested me to roll high when I needed to roll low, somehow causing the die to land on the number he called. Luckily, he only remebered to use his arcane powers once in his own favour! However, the one time that it really would have gone in his favour in a game-winning move, he neglected to deploy his new-found dark powers and I survived when by all reasonable probabilites I should have been swept from the board. So what goes around, comes around, I think you could say!

For King George and Glory! Huzzah!

The 1st Provisional Regiment on debut

So too, the 2/18th Portuguese Line

The allies win the initiative and start off. Note the large reserve!

The lackeys of the Corsican Ogre! Boo-hiss!

In another 1/72nd fest, I was hoping for all my figures to do well!

The British cavalry wait in echelon for the French intetions, while the general cheers them on!

My plan was to hold a line between the hill and the woods and await developments, feeding the reserves towards the pressure points.

It looked obvious that the pressure point would be on my left!

Fly was gearing up for a classic combined arms attack with the bulk of his infantry and all his artillery and cavalry directed to my left. 

On my right, however, he still had a brigade and the divisional general to keep me on my toes.

On they came!

His artillery landed a couple of long-range hits on my cavalry which hurt them early in the piece. However, the general is still happily shouting encouragement!

The 50th Foot went around to the far left flank to face the oncoming French infantry and to offer some sort of resistance if the cavalry were bested in the coming fight.

The divisional general is attached to my best infantry, the 92nd Gordon Highlanders. who tried wheeling to get into the flank of the approaching French. However I didn't want to wheel too far as it would expose their flank to artillery fire, so in the end it wasn't far enough to impede the French cavalry's attack, which was the intention.

Meanwhile on the right flank, my infantry deployed into line to meet the enemy advance.

Rather than wait for the inevitable charge, I marched 2 lines up the French and gave them a dose of lead medicine!

Having lost 2 figures to artillery fire, my cavalry are down 25% and looking a bit shaky in the face of the enemy dragoons. I was still hopeful that they'd be able to a least slow them down. I wasn't overly confident, however, so I formed the 71st GHLI into square just in case

The one positive was that he didn't have any supporting artillery fire for his cavalry.

Cavalry clash! Have at you, sir!

Not so confident when I rolled this...

...and Fly rolled this!

60% casualties and RUN AWAY!

The victorious dragoons then went battle mad, charged straight ahead and ran into the 71st's square, got a bloodied nose and found themselves back where they started!

My cavalry general waves as he's led off into captivity: Toodle-pip, Cheery-bye!  

Fly charges his 3 regular battalions at my line on the right flank. I took 2 figures with my fire and then... a reversal of fortune, I rolled the 6 and Fly rolled the 1 in the pre-melee morale test, meaning he fled before contact!

In a similar outcome, I stopped his elite light infantry with a well timed volley.

Next turn, however, I tried firefighting his regular battalions with my single line. I managed to cause another 2 casualties, but in the post-fight morale check Fly rolled a 1, meaning he took his medicine calmly...

While I rolled a 10, meaning my fellows couldn't stand the heat and retired! I think this was the first of Fly's spooky predictions of the die roll!

A retire isn't the end of the world, though and I was a in a position to re-enter the fray. 

Meanwhile on the left, Fly was making his intentions clear! While his artillery nibbled at my highlanders' line, his cavalry kept the 71st in square and his infantry geared up for the charge! My guns on the right of the highlanders' line were making a mess of his leading battalion, which he'd positioned as a sacrificial lamb to ensure the rest of the formation remained unaffected.

The massing French forces

My thin red line awaits their fate...

...while my reserves await to deliver the counter-stroke!

I gamely advanced the square forward to protect the caçadores deployed in line to threaten the cavalry...

...which just put them in the path of the infantry charge, when it came! Both Scottish regiments gamely stood and fired...

...but both the 71st...

...and 92nd were pushed back with losses. Even though, the 92nd managed to halt the French in their tracks.

It wasn't quite the victory Fly was hoping for as he hadn't pushed me back far enough or broken through into my rear (oo-er, matron!)

On the right flank, the conflict settled into a line vs. line affair.

In the aftermath of Fly's abortive charge, my gun battery threatened his left, having already broken one of his battalions in the charge.

I moved some my reserves up to consolidate the line, while on the extreme left, the 50th foot moved into the flank o the cavalry outside their charge arc.

The 3 regiments on the right faced off against Fly's 5 weakened battalions, protecting the flank of the main action on the left.

While, in theory, it was a ballsy move to get in the flank of the cavalry, it also allowed the French horse guns to have a nice, juicy extremely close flank target and an automatic 3 casualties!

In the resulting morale test, Fly used his occult powers to make me roll the suggested dreaded 10! The 50th foot dissolved, never to be seen again, the cloud of dust indicating their panicked race to the rear! 

Fly's cavalry were then free to charge the caçadores' line. From such a short distance, the infantry had a 20% chance of forming square; basically Buckley's chance! He should have flattened me, bursting into the British rear with the cavalry, then launching the infantry while I was reeling. I think Fly didn't think it worth trying his dice prestidigitaion, and let it slide. Unfortunately for him, I calmly used my own powers of suggestion to roll a 1!

The Portuguese calmly formed square and saw off the dragoons...

...who failed their morale test miserably and broke to the rear! I dodged a bullet there!
It was now infantry vs. infantry.

One of the depleted light infantry battalions moved up on the flank of the artillery and fired on the gunners, causing them to retreat from their guns. Their stirling service was crucial in the earlier crisis, but now their moment had passed.

One good turn deserves another: the caçadores charged the French horse gun battery! Fly took his time on deciding his response, concluding that to stand and fire was his least worst option.
The caçadores survived the close range canister and got stuck in, routing the gunners and careering into the flank of the nearest infatnry column.
The caçadores' momentum brought them up short of the next column in the line, but poised neatly on their flank, ready to pour in devasting flank fire if the French dared to move!

In a bold move of misplaced optimism, I sent the 2/18th Portuguese forward in support of their light brethren...
...only to give Fly a close target for 3 of the remaining columns to charge! The 1 battlion pinned by the caçadores sensbly didn't join in.
Not such a great introduction to combat, sorry, lads!

On the right, I was whittling down his lines with the famed firepower of massed Brown Bess volleys, forcing the enemy to retreat or retire.

Fly tried a last ditch charge on the caçadores, only succeeding in triggering flank fire on the pinned column, which then broke and fled!

We left it there with both sides much reduced in a bloody affair, but with my forces having more fuel left in the tank and also having units in Fly's flank.

My dead pile!

...and Fly's.


  1. Johnny, that is a very readable and enjoyable BatRep! Tough luck with the die rolls and your devilishly hexing and vexing opponent.

  2. Great AAR! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wonderful, just wonderful I got a real feel for the game and really enjoyed it. Bravo Johnny

  4. Great battle report and pictures! Thanks for sharing!



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