Wednesday, 24 August 2022

A small affair in Saskatchewan

 Wanting to entertain the boys having traveled many hours, I took the time late night to set up another small game for the morning after breakfast before we set off for the local hobby store (opening late at noon) 

(for other games played during "Dougfest" see previous posts)

I picked a recent personal favourite in the Canadian Northwest Rebellion of 1885.  The scenario was simple. Each player had two units of infantry to approach and protect a wagon abandoned previously from opposite directions.  The enemy Metis had predetermined ambush points.  We played with the "Men Who Would Be Kings" rules.  

Fun little affair.  I played the Metis who were given ammuntion restrictions, the single threat to James's contingent fired their one shot and then departed! He was slightly delayed with one unit who had to deal with them....

the other Metis group had more shots and forced one of Seth's green/black-clad Rifle units to continually fail their morale and fall back.  But the wagon was saved and the newspapers back home rejoiced in the "great victory"

The Canadian Militia of 1885 and part of JamesC's command. In the background the second group is approaching the hill from which they took fire (the smoke cotton ball in the far distance indicates Metis fire)

SethT's Canadian Rifles in action. The 'log' marker indicates they are currently "Pinned". His other unit is assaulting the Metis position indicated by the 'smoke balls'.  
The figures are Perry plastic American Civil War Union types with new glengarry headdresses added by me with Green Stuff.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Chattanooga - Napoleonic style

 Having the guys commit to a full weekend, I set up a secondary game should we need in addition to the larger affair earlier (see post: the big game  ).  I set up a 'bathtub' version of the American Civil War version of Chattanooga.  

In this scenario, the Union would have the advantage of not only the numbers historically but with the rules, multiple commands giving much better tactical maneuver.  The Confederate commander would, regardless of the position of his General, have most of his spread out troops out of command radius and thus less likely to be allowed tactical positioning.  He would be always be forced to only command those troops most needing and leaving the others to the tender mercies of the opposition. 

The scenario roughly follows that of the historical battle.  The Confederates had the Missionary Ridge position in the centre with slightly forward positions of Lookout Mountain on the left and Tunnel Hill on the right held by, in our game by the Brunswickers and Highlanders respectively. While the Dutch-Belgians held the centre ridge. To represent the unexpected rapid collapse of the Confederates on the ridge, I had their combat rating undetermined until contact so even their commander would not know how much they could be relied upon. 

The Union were in three commands: Hooker with his Westphalians would attack Lookout Mountain; Sherman and his Napoleonic Minor States contingent would attack the Highlanders representing the steady troops of Cleburne.  In the middle under the fortifications of Chattanooga was Thomas and the artillery.  In the actual battle a portion of the troops would make a demonstration on the lower slopes of ridge, get shot at and as a un-commanded response charge up the hill and rout the Confederates! I had Thomas' troops ability to do the same (but in future games restrict him even further as this push made all Confederate resistance futile)

We ended up playing two games of this. One Friday night and the other Saturday.  Both followed the historical narrative.  The boys seemed to have quite a bit of fun with these smaller 'fast' games.

part of "Hooker's" Westphalians 

Westhphalians vs Bruswickers defending Lookout Mountain (my command...and my favourite Napoleonic the somber black. Converted plastics)

a mid-battle overview with Thomas's troops in the centre having left their entrenchments and attacking the Ridge (right of photo), and 'Sherman's' troops slowly marching to assault the British Highlanders on Tunnel Hill (upper right).  Lookout Mountain is off-camera lower left.

You can view DavidB's blog at  David's narrative  for more on this scenario

Blenhiem - Napoleonic style

 Hosted after the two year hiatus, my big summer game of Napoleonics.  I use the opportunity to do a scenario outside the era, and have in the past conducted Gettysburg and Antietam among others. This year using the War of Spanish Succession battle of Blenheim fought in 1705.  A 'nice' linear battle with large commands enough for the five commands expected. The boys came from four different cities, indeed states, and would travel over 1200 kms to play. My thanks.

So on the Allied side was JamesC coming up from Oregon who was Eugene (using my Prussians), PeterM  from Burnaby, who had Cutts' contingent facing Blenheim using my Saxons, and in the middle using Russians, I was a (poor) Marlborough.  On the French side was SethT from Seattle as Tallard commanding, well, French; and DavidB from Vancouver Island as the Elector using my Italians and every green-clad cavalry unit.

I will add comments to the photos as expose' to the game. 

A couple of early comments.  As it was a battle from the Age of Marlborough, it contained much more horse than the usual Napoleonic affair.  It brought an interest dynamic to the tactics which everyone enjoyed.  Once could use combined arms much more effectively.  The horse elements force the infantry into square, the artillery effectively pounds the squares, the infantry now roll over the weakened and out of formation enemy infantry. Attacking becomes more problematic and takes more thought and time. I did neither and so my grand attack, the attack which won Marlborough his fame and naming of a military era, did not occur.  However, everyone else fought well.  

looking from the south (the usual view of the Blenhiem maps) show Oberglau upper left and Blenhiem lower right. The French on the left, Allies on the right across the Nebel River.

part of my contingent starting to cross the waterway

My Saxons under PeterM's careful command.  The wagon is that from my Dutch-Belgian contingent and represents his LOC if forced to retreat.  The Saxons represent Cutts' mainly British formation of the actual battle going up against the village of Blenheim.

For the Napoleonic Russian fan.  The sticks are our measuring devices.

View showing the early deployments. Each infantry stand represents ~2000 infantry, ~1000 horse. We still manage to put the large battle onto a 8 by 6 foot table with room for maneuver. 

Seth's dispositions very much replicated the actual deployment by Tallard in 1705.  To have some semblance like that of the real battle, the French Victory Conditions were to maintain the villages. Thus they committed a large potion of their infantry to that task as did the French in the historical battle. 

A Marlborough, I ain't...... (The Perry representation of the Napoleonic commander Kutusov actually giving an order!) I used my Russians for my command.

I leave you with a delightful AAR written by JamesC who had to suffer through a two-hour border wait but used the time to compose this wonderful narrative:

"The initial Prussian deployment was based on the feeling that the Franco-Italians would deploy as close as possible. (ed. note: I used a blind to keep the opposition deployments secret for the first time) The four Prussian infantry bases were tasked with crossing the muddy Nebel to capture Oberglau. The cavalry, all 8(!) bases, would swing to the right to hit their flank and also have some Light Horse run deep into the enemy’s rear to capture their LOC. In-between them would sit the paltry Prussian artillery consisting of one foot and one horse artillery bases. 

That plan was undone when the screen was removed and Zeithen saw across the stream, in front of the town, was a mass of Italian Heavy Horse. The foot artillery immediately opened up on the enemy horse, causing a hit but also breaking their guns in the process, cutting the units effectiveness in half. The infantry (wisely?) decided that crossing the Nebel and being disordered within charge distance of some angry Italians on large horses would be ungl├╝cklich (Ed. unlucky) and held their place. The cavalry started their glorious advance, supported by the Horse Artillery. 

The cavalry continued their advance over the next two turns while the foot artillery  tried their best to make an impact on the pasta-loving horde. They reduced a base of HC to one pip and promptly decided they had done enough and packed it up for the day. The infantry crossed the stream and immediately found out that was, indeed, a bad idea as the lead left element was charged and pushed back across the river. The other lead element decided to block an HA from going into the Prussian center by moving in and (illegally as it turned out) going into square. The Italians sent a cheeky infantry base in and charged the Horse Artillery making them scramble to the rear. 

On the right, the cavalry continued their pursuit of glory, sending some Italian light horse running and making short work of the cheeky infantry base. 

Things settled into a bit of a stalemate as the Prussian cavalry was stymied by a screen of infantry in square. The infantry was content not to challenge the Italian HA in front of the town. The Horse Artillery moved up to start blasting the squares and soften them up for a glorious charge. A base of light cavalry was sent around Lutzingen for the Italian LOC.

By turn 10, the Heavies had had enough sitting around and two units hit one square and sent it packing. The same artillery softening followed by a cavalry charge was then done in subsequent turns to the remaining infantry base in square between the two towns. 

Some smartly dressed Neopolitans swung around Oberglau to try and hit the Prussian squares. However, they did not count on the infantry across the Nebel doing the very un-Prussian like move of a disorganized charge into their flank. Even though it was an even fight, the sight of a horde of muddy, wet Germanic manhood was enough to make the Neopolitans long for the sight of Vesuvius again and they left the field. 

Everything was going Prussia’s way. That was when a unit of Heavies pursued and destroyed some Italian Lights, but exposed themselves to artillery fire and were destroyed. The ensuing morale check on Turn 15 resulted in a Prussian withdrawal to think things over. This ended up being decisive as it meant the Prussian Light Horse was unable to reach the Italian LOC before night fell and hostilities ceased. 

While, yes, the Italians did technically hold both towns, they were surrounded by vengeful Prussian horse and a largely intact infantry. Of course, the Prussian morale victory was in a tactical defeat for the Allied Prussian-Russo-Saxon side. As the sun set, all Zeithen  could do was throw up his hands and let out an exasperated “Wir haben es versucht.”  (Ed. We tried!)"

Again I would like to thank the efforts of everyone to attend.


Monday, 1 August 2022

"Fine Day's" Battle of the Broken Wagon

 Fine Day, the Cree Warrior Leader stared upon the Canadian soldiers with much confusion as they slowly walked in unison, a slow walk, their legs moving as a centipede. “Why do this?”  he asked Small Bear. But his companion shook his head.  “Starlings?”, Small Bear offered as the red-coated soldiers did walk as those birds flew,  seemingly as one following unknown commands. But perhaps it is so we are confused as we are and will not attack? If that is their plan, it is working well thought Fine Day. Do we?, the warrior contemplated. 

Stepford's contingent in full dress, practicing their formation drill on the open prairie.

Across the meadow and for several hours now the rest of the convoy had moved north leaving a small contingent of the York and Simcoe Regiment to stand guard over the broken wagon, empty of its cargo, and guarding the artillery piece left here so it’s limber horses could provide the extra power to move the other overloaded wagons 

Sgt. Simmons, commanding the gun crew, was resting looking up at the circling birds when his loader made the comment , “The gun just moved!” Getting up from his supine position, the sergeant witness the gun slowly but methodically gaining speed, muzzle first, toward a small gully. “Get up you buggers!”,  he shouted to no one in particular. 

Simmons, Dobkins and crew working to upright the cannon and get it into action.

Two companies of the York and Simcoe Battalion were equally lounging in the midday sun, lifted their heads to see the artillery crew run after their cannon.  Interestingly none got up to help as they remembered the afore mentioned artillery Sergeant suggest to the column’s commander that they could provide the horsepower to move the gun along. “We are not bleeping mules!” was the general consensus and the matter was dropped. Let the artilleryman now become their own mules to drag the damn gun from the bush. Heads returned to the reclining positions as their ears still could hear the sounds of frustrated artillerymen and the shouts of particularly ambitious colour sergeant who was parading his charges in full uniform up and down the grasslands.

This would continue for several minutes when a lone person walking with a limp, came into camp asking for the commander. “ I am one of Bolton‘s Scouts. I encountered a group of Cree moving this way.  They shot my horse and I landed with a slight slight sprain. Got here as quick as God allowed but I must warn that you may be attacked”

Then the shots rang out from the clump of trees to the north-west…..

My simple terrain try of birch trees.  the Cree are hidden somewhere amongst. [spoiler alert: I have no Cree.  But in my defence, historically, the Canadian soldiers would not see any either!] 

So begins the solo scenario set up during the Canadian Northwest Rebellion using the ever unpredictable rules “The Men Who Would Be Kings”. The game begins with the cannon overturned in some scrub, an exposed Canadian militia unit in close order in the middle of a featureless prairie, two other companies unprepared for battle, and a number of natives firing away.

I had rolled for the Scout to give advance warning and my extremely low rolls for his movement speed suggests he was on foot only and hobbling at best. 

Smith consults with the wounded Bolton Scout and his contingent faces the tree-line.

For entertainment I rolled for the traits of each of the Canadian Leaders per the rules. The artillery has Simmons “a weakling” so no melee bonus [well, that makes sense for an artilleryman].   The marching unit under Stepford has a weak leadership of 7+ but with the trait as a “Musketry Buff” if activation orders for fire or volley he increases to 5+. [and this on the unit already in close formation, the volley fire bonus could be advantageous. Unfortunately it could not be used during the game] 

The forward unit has a steady officer under Smith with the leader ship of 6+ and the rear unit under Gallant has [surprisingly I rolled box cars] hero status activation at 4+ 

The Cree shooting immediately gave Stepford’s marchers almost 50% casualties but they would not break and retired to the road as Smith’s Company poured steady but ineffective long range fire against the tree-line. To the south, Gallant’s company led by the “hero”, steadily moved to the flank of the Cree position and, yes, the artillery crew continued to upright the cannon and prolong it into a firing position 

At this point the Cree fire ceased.  The Canadians pondered whether the Cree had abandoned the attack or not [actually the Canadians were all out of affect of a long range fire, so I ceased to roll for firing!]

The artillery finally moved into position but… “Dobkins, you bloody idiot! Go back and get the ammunition!” …the artillery it fails it’s firing activation.

Dobkin at left. Does he finally have the correct ammunition? ( or more to the point, can I roll enough to activate the artillery firing?!)

Meanwhile Gallant leads his company to flank the tree line when the tree-line explodes with gunfire, frightening in the militiamen and pinning them despite their fine leader.

The Canadian militiamen ready to charge into the woods. Smith's in the foreground, Gallant's depleted group in the distance.  The smoke-balls are an indication of the Cree fire expenditure. Historically they were quite low on ammunition so I roll for the amount they have to fire, and lose d6 pip per activation attempt.  Thus often they are forced to retire due to lack of ammo. 

“Dobkins! Bring the correct ammunition, damn you!”  I read the rules with the artillery ignoring cover.  Well, this should cause some Cree casualties.   Wrong. I rolled no hits on 4+!   But a turn later, finally the gun got into action regularly hitting the southern Cree unit and repeatedly pinning them.  This allowed Gallant’s militiamen to approach closer without oncoming fire.   Smith finally giving up on his long distance fire, double-timed it towards the tree line. He was rewarded by no further casualties.  My Cree fire was rolling poor. The Canadian militiamen were surviving the weakening Cree fire; and for the most part the Cree were not willing to engage in hand to hand combat so with only a few rounds of ammunition left, they got on their horses and retired from the “Battle of Broken Wagon” 


Game Notes:

-I needed a back-story to why one of my units is in march order but not the others; so the “centipede” narrative. This unit may only have convoy duties henceforth.

-no warning explanation in the story is for my very low movement rolls

-I only remove 1 figure regardless of hits, but account for the total hits for the important Pinning Tests. This serves to make the overall miniature removal a little more realistic but the rule’s pinning numbers remain intact.

-historically, the Canadian militiamen were enthusiastic but had very little training.

-the miniatures are with a metal artillery crew having new headdress modelled, and the infantry converted Perry plastic ACW Union types.  Not perfect but with a wargamer’s squint….. 

-I added the Perry Home Service helmets because I was given them, they did indeed wear them (!), and I did not thus need to model more glengarries!