Friday, June 10, 2016

If at First You Don't Succeed...Redefine Success!

"¡Vamos, muchachos!"
As the campaign is on a short hiatus, last Saturday I took on Darren's French with my British and Spanish armies in a scenario I've had fun with previously (I should put the details in the Scenarios page, shouldn't I?). The gist of the story is that the Spanish occupy a strategic village, on this occasion on a road junction near a river crossing. The Spanish have called for assistance and a British force is on their way. The French start with an advanced guard (a third of the total force) on the board and after the first turn, each side rolls to see when their reinforcements arrive with greater odds, the longer it takes.

Playing with a Spanish army is fun because as you expect so little from them, when they do succeed it's always extremely gratifying (that is me redefining success, BTW...). The standout units were the Spanish artillery, the Walloon Guards (naturally!) and the Farnesio cavalry regiment in their debut, but more on that in a moment.

The village was occupied by Spanish line infantry, all rated as Landwehr (one step above the worst rating of Militia!), while I placed the Walloon Guards, Converged Grenadiers and another line regiment along with the artillery and Farnesio regiment on the right flank. In between the village and the river I placed the Sagunto Dragoons. I took a risk weighing down the right flank and leaving the left relatively weak, because I thought that the British reinforcements could regain any lost built up areas (BUAs), while the stronger right flank could prevent the village being surrounded and keep the French at least partially occupied.

The Spanish awaiting the onslaught

Regimiento Farnesio on debut! Will they earn fame and glory?

The Sagunto Dragoons in reserve.

Here come the enemy!


Negotiating the woods with the Grenadiers deployed.

While Darren prepared his attack on the village, he attempted to clear the defenses on my right flank. An infantry charge at my artillery offered the chance to see what the Farnesio Regiment was made of! They managed the opportunity charge, but in the pre-melee suddenly decided that it wasn't such a good idea, anyway! They retreated ignominiously, allowing the French infantry to charge into the guns. As the cavalry had charged and retreated through the artillery, they had no clear shot at the attacking infantry. The gunners stood to their guns and defended them in the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, rather than fleeing to safety. Defending the guns is not usually the smartest thing to do in this situation, but I've read that along with Russian gunners, the Spanish were most likely to stand in defense of their guns come what may. So that's what I did. We both passed our pre-melee test (even with the cavalry retreating, mind you) and then went into melee where I rolled really well and Darren rolled badly. Upshot was we both retired with disorders, but the Spanish had successfully beaten off their attackers and saved all their guns! Huzzah!

The Spanish move forward, guns deployed.

The Walloon Guards in line span the gap between village and artillery, with plenty of reserves behind.

Farnesio deploys in line.

Sagunto Dragoons get a bit eager and suffer losses from artillery in background.

The French infantry advances and knock off another dragoon, while the cavalry fires back ineffectually.

French infantry charge the Spanish guns and the Farnesios counter-charge!

But then they decide that discretion is the better part of valour and bug out before contact!

The gunners are made of sterner stuff, though, and meet the infantry in combat!

The honours are shared, both retiring with disorders. The gunners live to fight another day, despite the lily-livered cavalry!

While the Farnesios reformed in the rear after their pusillanimous display, the Walloons and the grenadiers formed up in line and the guns re-positioned themselves to the right flank of the line, ready to enfilade any further attack from that quarter. The big 9lb guns whittled away the closest French infantry as punishment for attempting to silence them earlier!

Redeployed and ready for action!

Take that, ustedes perros franceses!
I was hoping that the Sagunto Dragoons would keep the left flank secure for a while, but they folded like a deck chair after a couple of turns, breaking to the rear, never to be seen again. From then on I was hoping that the British reinforcements would arrive before it was too late!

The Sagunto Dragoons decide to go in a blaze of glory...

...but disappear in a puff of smoke! Poof!

The grenadiers form up between the guns and the Walloons. The French back off and form a defensive posture, while the reinforcements approach.

Darren's artillery softened up the closest BUA in preparation for an infantry charge. 2 battalions faced the BUA from the front, while a 3rd battalion approached the flank facing the river. This unit had seen off the Sagunto Dragoons easily with some artillery help, but now seemed ripe for a flank attack. I moved the battalion in the rear BUA out into line to threaten its flank, but all I succeeded in doing was provide a clear path for the inevitable charge from the first two French battalions so that rather than having to fight for 2 BUAs they just had to clear the first before occupying the second! The battalion I had removed from the BUA was now nearly surrounded on all sides, but miraculously remained in place after several shots into its flank. Mind you, they couldn't affect the outcome as they couldn't shoot their way out of a wet paper bag.

By now Darren's main body was making an appearance on the board, which definitely changed the complexion of the game.

"Marche en avant!"

Time to make them pay before they get too close

The Spanish in the the rear BUA form up in line to threaten the flank of the nearest French  column.

"Frenchmen, sah! Fahsands of 'em!"

Darren's guns play on the nearest BUA, causing casualties, while the infantry await the order to attack.

The French go into action: While one BUA gets a working over in the form of a firefight....

...the other receives a charge from two French battalions! The infantry run to the rear accompanied by the general.

The 2 left hand BUAs have fallen to the French and the Spanish line is left high and dry in a sea of blue!

They stand their ground, however, stoically taking flank fire from left and right.
Pity they couldn't hit the side of a barn, though!

With half the village in enemy hands, the British advanced guard appeared. As then advanced guard mainly consisted of cavalry, I sent them into the flank of the French facing the Spanish guns and defensive line. While one light dragoon regiment charged the French horse guns to the front, the surrounding infantry battalions formed square where the gunners sought refuge. This was the perfect time for the Walloons to go on the offensive, as the nearest French infantry had been threatening the adjacent BUA. The Wallons saw off the French to their front, while the light dragoons rashly took the breakthrough, rather pull up half way after the object of their charge absconded. Being British cavalry, I suppose it was entirely appropriate for them to continue on into the French formation unsupported, but they struck no more enemy formations and were blown and disordered deep in French territory with no support! The French heavy cavalry obviously had a nice flank charge presented to them on a platter, and the Walloons were now exposed to the breakthrough. When the inevitable charge came, the light dragoons fled (only a retreat, thankfully) and the Walloons were caught in the open, having failed an attempt to form square, and were smashed! Unfortunately the best Spanish unit was the victim of their uncaring allies and could not be recalled!

But, wait! Here come the British!

The Walloons seize their chance, charging the line to their front...

...and sending them packing! "¡Hurra!"Now for the square in front!

(Shaky hand-held cinema verite)
The light dragoons had charged the guns, forcing the gunners into the nearest square, while the Walloons accounted for the closest square.

Darren's light infantry forge around the flank of the village towards the British flank.

"Marchons, mon frères!"

Meanwhile, Darren sends the rest of his reinforcements to deal with the threat from the British cavalry and light infantry.

The beleaguered Spanish line cops more casualties, but takes the punishment in their stride!

The British light infantry fan out into line after the horse guns fire on the approaching French. Behind the French infantry, the heavy cavalry position themselves to fall on the flank of the impetuous British cavalry in the distance.

The inevitable happens: the light dragoons are charged in the flank! The Walloons look on in horror!

Even Guardsmen can't stand against a cavalry charge!

All was not lost, however, as the French cavalry's charge was brought to a halt on the edge of town where a combination of fire from the village and the grenadiers firing into their flank caused the French cavalry to retreat, blown with casualties and disorders.

The French cavalry brought to a halt against the BUA cop flank fire from the grenadier column...

...sending them heading for the hills!

Run away!
While my remaining cavalry regiment and the light infantry tackled the French on the right flank, I finally rolled for my British main body to appear on the board, and chose to march them straight at the village in order to evict the French from the BUAs taken from the Spanish. Meanwhile a brigade of French light infantry were making a flank march around the village on the other side of the village, preparing to put the kibosh on my attack on the village.

Meanwhile, the other light dragoon regiment charges the advancing anchored line...

...but find that they can't push home after failing their pre-melee! How un-British!

Here comes the British infantry!

The British infantry become aware of the threat to their flank.

"You men! There's damned Frenchies approaching! Stand to!"

Back in front of the village, Darren had re-manned his horse artillery battery and was bringing up a solid block of infantry columns in support. The time was right for an attack on the battery before the infantry support could reach it. I put the grenadiers in line to block the French infantry, suffering casualties as I did, then charged the lone Spanish line infantry battalion not in the BUA. They had a lovely flank approach, so the guns couldn't touch them, but a combination of rubbish troops, a terrible pre-melee roll and crossing broken ground meant they bottled it and stopped 2" from their target with added disorders!

The re-manned French horse gun battery is charged by a Spanish infantry column...

...who flub their attack!

Now came the stand-out moment of the game, IMHO: by this stage the Farnesios had got their act together and reordered themselves and were in a position to re-join the fight. I'd positioned them so that if the infantry charge failed, I'd have a second shot at the artillery battery. I didn't hold out much hope after their previous attempt at combat, but this time was different! Despite the incoming fire from the battery (which missed, thankfully!) and their rubbish morale, they charged home. In the ensuing melee they ran down the gunners, putting them all to the sword. To top it off, when it came time to see if they were still in control, I rolled 0 on the d10 which meant they had gone battle-mad and were out of control! That meant they had no choice but to take the breakthrough, which led them into the infantry line behind the guns. The French infantry desperately tried to form square, but failed, meaning they couldn't fire on their attackers before the melee. It all ended in tears for the French with the line being smashed and following the gunners in breaking to the rear. ¡Hurra!

Time for Regimiento Farnesio to make up for their previous failure! 

Battlemad! RAAAARRRGH!!!!

"Cop that, Johnny Crapaud!"
However, the triumph was short lived as flank fire from an approaching artillery battery caught the cavalry in the next turn, sending them routing off the board.

Next turn, the French artillery punishes the Farnesios for their audacity with a withering flank shot.

Their honour redeemed, the Farnesios advance to the rear double-quick:

The grenadiers suffer the full brunt of a regimental charge!

The pressure was too great and they are forced to retreat.

Luckily for the line battalion, the French success couldn't be exploited. They live to fight another day!

Back at the village, the British artillery can't hit a barn door, let alone the enemy.
It's time to act before it's too late!

Back at the village, the 92nd Gordon Highlanders had fanned out into line to face the light infantry threat, while the line regiments formed up to charge the nearest French-occupied BUA. I put another regiment in line in the attempt at masking the charging units from the attentions of the French infantry deployed in support. All that did was dilute the attackers' strength and didn't mask the attack, anyway. When the attack went in, I didn't roll high enough and suffered too many casualties to be able to force my way into the BUA. The charge stalled before contact! My one chance at regaining the village blown!

The 50th Foot form line, instead of joining the upcoming charge

The charge goes in, but stalls due to poor execution and lack of numbers. D'Oh!

There was a post-script on the right flank, though: The French infantry facing my light infantry and cavalry managed to dispose of the horse gun battery, but after the Spanish artillery knocked a few figures off the closed column which anchored the infantry line, they failed their morale test and retreated, leaving the rest of the line open to a cavalry charge. The cavalry disposed of the line and the light infantry did the same with the remaining closed column, destroying the brigade on that flank.

The anchored line charges the light infantry and pushes them back!

Next, the guns are targeted.
Attempting to limber and flee, the battery was caught and couldn't put up any resistance!

The Spanish guns force one of the supporting columns of the anchored line to retreat.

The light infantry then initiate a firefight on the remaining units.

When that failed to shift the enemy, the cavalry  made sure!

"Come back and take your punishment, Frenchies!"

The artillery which saw off the Farnesios then provided the incentive for the light dragoons to retreat over the other side of the hill!

The French fire on the 3rd BUA.

After cumulative casualties of 50%, the Irlanda regiment breaks, giving the French possession of the 3rd BUA.

The right flank now fairly denuded, only the guns and a couple of infantry units remain of the Spanish division. The British hold the line but can't retake the village!

Darren had since captured a 3rd BUA from the Spanish and had a lot more infantry up in support. My British assault had stalled and the majority of my Spanish troops were in bad morale, which would have caused a Divisional Morale test, so I conceded the field to Darren after a hard fought, but very enjoyable game.

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