Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

1915 Christmas card to Australian troops from home.
Image courtesy Munro Collection via

It's been a busy year which kind of tailed off towards the end; real life has a habit of interfering with important things like wargaming and blogging!

Thanks for your continued support, and I hope to lift my game in 2016. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday time with loved ones and that the new year brings health and prosperity to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Playing Wargames is Like Riding a Bike: Once You Learn You How, You Never Forget!


Well, boys and girls, that's been a long wait between stories! Have you been waiting patiently?

After the enforced hiatus due to the relocation of La Maison de Rosbif, I made it for one last game at the club a couple of weeks ago (I gave the last meeting a miss as the temperature soared above the 40°C mark: I was amused by the steady trickle of emails as people faced reality and pulled out of games one by one!).

I partnered Paul in a game against Darren and Garry where both sides had to control the central cross-roads and the bridge. Each player was allowed one unit to start 24" from the long end of the table, so I chose one regiment of light dragoons in skirmish order, while Paul went for a big highland regiment. I suppose we should really have talked about plans before we started, but as Darren had had explained the details of the scenario only moments before we hadn't really thought about what we were going to do beyond me being the advance guard and Paul being the main body and taking overall command. If we'd thought about it a little more, I probably would have chosen infantry rather than skirmish light cavalry and suggested one of us take at least one of the building in the first move. As it was, we won the initiative and had the first move, so I reformed my cavalry and Paul moved up to forma line between the village and the bridge, but still on the near side of the bridge. This allowed Darren the easy task of marching his advanced infantry battalion forward and taking the furthest village BUA facing us!

Meanwhile, my advanced guard of a light infantry brigade marched up the road and deployed in the farmland in front of the village. Even without enemy interference, I was at a disadvantage due to the disorders occasioned by charging across ploughed fields. The horse gun battery moved up to support my cavalry on the left flank, while my remaining two infantry brigades and artillery marched up the road. Behind my command came Pauls, with more infantry and just about every gun in the British Expeditionary Force!

The problem soon became apparent that we didn't have the space to deploy properly and also hadn't used our different arms in nearly as clever a way as our opposition, as it was soon plain to see! Darren added a cavalry threat to his steady infantry advance and soon Paul was forced to square up to meet the threat. Of course, that just meant an easier infantry target, so his highlanders were duly broke by a massed infantry charge. That meant that we not only had to take the occupied BUA, but we now had to fight to regain the bridge crossing.

After a little to-ing and fro-ing between our cavalry, Garry managed to chase off my light dragoons, allowing his light infantry to start flanking our advance on the left. It also meant that my preparations for the attack on the village had no protection from Darren's other sneakily positioned cavalry. I tried to block his advance by putting out an infantry square in his path of attack, but it wasn't placed far enough to the front. When I finally launched my attack, his cavalry counter-charged, collecting my left hand column and smashing it before coming into contact with the square. My attack fizzled as a result, and the square was then polished off by Garry's infantry, with the added bonus of capturing my general. Oh, the shame!

From then on in it was just a matter of holding the line in the hope that Garry and Darren might come a-cropper and be open for the counter-attack, but with control of the village and the bridge, they really didn't need to attack. Poor old Paul was in such a tight area he couldn't deploy his troops into line and was ripe for the plucking. Garry got in amongst his columns and ni the mayhem connected with the flank of one of my lines, threatening to roll me up from the left. Darren attacked the guns from front on in the last action of the day, managing to weather the storm of canister to put paid to the defensive line. In another turn he could have broken through my thin red line. 

A couple of lessons learned (if not already known, but forgotten): 

  • if there's an objective, start with a plan; don't make it up as you go along,
  • use appropriate troop types to achieve that plan,
  • use combined arms to your best advantage.

An ignominious end to the year, I'm sure you'll agree! Roll on 2016.

The starting positions

Skirmished light dragoons; they can't hold any ground!

My light brigade on the edge of the table

Skirmishers advance...

...while the rest of the brigade follows behind the formed up light dragoons.

The French advance on the village. Note Paul's highlanders in the bottom left corner. Possibly better use for them in the BUA?

Cavalry growl at each other while my guns try some long range pot-shots.

My skirmish line had some success in slowing down the French main advance...

...but had no effect on the battalion which slipped into the near BUA. My light bobs mass in the fields, picking up disorders.

Allons y!
Darren's Republican hordes advance

My skirmish line falls back as the cavalry threat presents itself.

Paul's highlanders form square in the face of the French cavalry, while his infantry look on in readiness.

Meanwhile, on the other flank, Garry's infantry advances.

His skirmishers advance through the woods and hills, my cavalry in echelon waiting for any opportunity to strike the skirmishers.

Garry sends the Vistula Lancers in to remove the threat.

I'd suffered a couple of casualties from artillery fire, so he had the advantage

While this fight just ended in a retire, I wasn't so fortunate next time! Note the French skirmishers in the wood on my flank.

Paul's position looks dire.

Paul's square cops attention from French guns...

...before the infantry go in to cook his goose!

Another column moves up to support the troops in the BUA threatened by my light bobs...

...but concentrated rifle fire forces them to move off. Huzzah!

The Allied reserves make their appearance: the rest of my infantry, Paul's infantry and a sh*t load of guns!

Back in the centre, I had hoped to keep moving the square of highlanders forward to cover the cavalry threat, but I was running out of time.

Now or never! I had hoped that his cavalry might fail to take the opportunity charge, but it wasn't to be! The 71st highlanders were smashed before the cavalry came up against the 92nd highlanders' square
After clearing my cavalry threat, Garry fixed my little red wagon with an infantry charge on the highlanders' square...

....capturing my general in the process. For shame!

The situation from my right flank. I now had to worry about the artillery's flanks as Darren had crossed the bridge! Paul's infantry is massing int he middle distance.

Even though the river was unfordable, I didn't want him firing down my flanks!

Garry got in amongst Paul's guns before charging into his columns...
...and consequently into the flank of one of my lines. Run away!
By this stage the French had the game's objectives well and truly in their control.

The last hurrah ! Charging the guns!

Friday, November 27, 2015

I'm Back, Baby!

We're all moved in to our new digs, internet connected and ready to go! Now, where did I put all those soldiers....?

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Should Have Listened to the Lemur, or.....I'm the The King of Wishful Thinking!

I went to last Saturday's club meeting with Vince in tow to show him how it's done. After this lesson, I'm not sure if he'll thank me!

I'd accepted a challenge from Ian KH to meet his 1/72nd French on the field of battle with my Anglo-Portuguese forces. I'd gone for an infantry-heavy force with only one full strength light cavalry regiment and a smaller heavy cavalry reserve. It turned out Ian had gone with not only two full strength cavalry regiments, but also two small light cavalry units, which turned out to be a real fly in the ointment. Still, if I played my cards right, I could defend against his cavalry and fight an infantry battle to secure a draw, if not a victory. That was my plan, anyway.

Ian won the initiative roll and immediately took the ridge. Most unsporting of him; ridges are British property, I say! My skirmish line was countered by his small cavalry units, forcing them to the right of the building on the ridge summit, where they skirmished with their French counterparts. My skirmishers defeated their opposition and then peppered the nearest formations, adding disorders to their ranks.

I thought I'd be clever and counter Ian's iddy-biddy cavalry with my heavy dragoons in the centre. This had the desired effect and certainly slowed the centre of his line, which formed squares to counter the threat, but at a cost of keeping my only cavalry reserve committed early in the game. His light infantry brigade on my right flank steadily advanced and his main cavalry force on my left kept my lone full strength cavalry regiment mesmerised like a cobra confronted by a pair of mongooses (...mongeese?).

After I'd scared his central Dutch brigade into square I didn't have an artillery battery or infantry regiment close enough to exploit the opportunity. I then made a rash decision to break my defensive line and sent the 50th Foot forward to engage the squares. Unfortunately I didn't get the sequencing of this advance quite right and left the infantry exposed after I'd moved my cavalry first, thus preventing them from taking the opportunity charge in support of the infantry when Ian's cavalry inevitably took their own opportunity charge. Hence the lemur's wisdom at the top of the report! Still, that was no biggie, as the infantry were only forced to retreat and would later return to the fray.

What was a biggie, and what I hadn't even considered, was that Ian would split his cavalry force on my left and send his dragoons angling into the flank of my infantry line, rather than keep them all concentrated on my own cavalry. Why I didn't see this is beyond me; really it was the obvious thing to do and left me high and dry: if I formed square I'd be at the mercy of his artillery and infantry which had held their attention, and if I moved backwards into cover I'd chance causing an opportunity charge. In the end I chose another (and probably the worst) option; do nothing. 

Why I did that was because I intended to fire into the dragoons' flanks with the horse battery. In another flubbing of sequencing, I moved the cavalry before I turned the artillery in preparation to fire. Of course, Ian took the opportunity charge, and as I'd already moved my cavalry I couldn't counter-charge in support! D'OH!! Listen to the lemur (I think I'll have to put it on a t-shirt)! The lancers charged, wiped out my horse battery, and careered into my stationary light dragoons, ending in a draw (which I didn't deserve for such a bone-headed move). Having staked everything on the artillery flanking fire forcing the dragoons to retire, my infantry were now in deep doo-doo!

My heavy dragoons spanked Ian's chasseurs in an opportunity charge, but after that last hurrah it was all downhill. The dragoons charged my line of highlanders who tried to form square and failed due to the narrow distance in between them. They would have been better off standing and firing because they would have emptied at least one saddle which would have affected the pre-melee check. Anyhow, I am the King of Wishful Thinking (see below*). The highlanders were caught milling about after failing to form square and were sent packing. The French dragoons went slicing into my line dealing death to everything in their path. Ian's infantry then came down off the ridge to put the finishing touches to my discombobulation and, for good measure, launched an assault on my right.

Game over!

The Anglo-Portuguese under starters' orders

The Franco-Allies make the first move

French, Dutch and Swiss

The Swiss brigade...

....and the Dutch

The French cavalry make their move, with the lancers leading

I formed a defensive line with the Portuguese in reserve.

Light dragoons and horse guns protect the left flank

"Hold fast, boys!"

The thin red line supported by the donkey wallopers of the 4th Dragoons

The Dutch come on in echelon to support the French light infantry on my right.

Skirmish line advances

Cavalry standoff on my left flank. The guns couldn't hit a thing that day.

Ian throws out his own skirmish line.

My dragoons advance, throwing out a vedette, which causes a halt to Ian's advance in the centre.

The 50th Foot advance across the farmland to threaten the squared up Dutchmen.

Ian's chasseurs advance to threaten the dragoons' flank and my advancing infantry.

After putting the dragoons in echelon, I then stupidly advanced the infantry into Ian's opportunity charge range, not allowing my dragoons to support their advance.

The 50th retreat beyond the line, while the Portuguese cover them.

The 1st Provisional Regiment advance out into the farmland to take the 50th's place.

The 6th Dragoons awaiting developments

Back on the left, the 92nd suddenly realise how much danger they're in. If they go into square now....

....they've still got all that infantry ahead of them, not to mention the battery of guns to their front.

In the second Listen to the Lemur moment, I caused the charge on my guns after moving my cavalry.

Guns wiped out, cavalry charged while standing still....

...ends in a retire, which I had no right to expect!

In their last hurrah, my dragoons take an opportunity charge as Ian's chasseurs try to be cheeky.

Unfortunately, they went battlemad and came a cropper against the Dutch square on top of the ridge.

Now the wheels fall off! The highlanders are caught after failing to form square. Note to self; Shoot the buggers, next time!

Being the tough nuts they are, they retreat, rather than break, though they've taken casualties and  copped disorders.

The dragoons then crash into the artillery...

...and then into the Portuguese column!

A nice big gap for Ian to exploit!

His survivng small detachment of hussars then punish my blown dragoons with a flank charge.

The highlanders recover, but it's too late!

The Dutch give the coup-de-grace to the dragoons

The Swiss advance off the ridge...
...and crash into my disordered line, shrugging off the flank fire to put an end to resistance in the centre.

On the right flank, the French light infantry charge, punching through the Buffs, despite some heavy fire.

*Aaah, the early '90's; back in the day when mullets and bike shorts were cool!

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