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!

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