Monday, 10 May 2021

Sunday Game

Sunday’s regular game was a large Napoleonic game. It was set in 1813 with an Austro-Prussian force facing off against  Franco-Bavarian force in the broad open fields southeast of Leipzig. The French have been ordered to push through and the Allied troops ordered not only to stop them but to push them back on Leipzig.

The forces involved were two Austrian infantry divisions, each of twelve battalions, a Prussian infantry division of twelve battalions, an artillery reserve and a Prussian cavalry division, three Austrian  cavalry brigades and a Russian cuirassier brigade. Opposing them were two French infantry divisions, one of twelve and one of seventeen battalions, a Bavarian infantry division of ten battalions, two French cuirassier divisions (six regiments), a dragoon division, a light cavalry division (eight regiments  between the two last divisions) and an artillery reserve. Both sides had a mix of unit sizes, the French having the larger number of small units, and a proportion of raw troops.

There wasn’t much subtlety to the set up with both sides setting up simultaneously on opposite sides of the table and it was always going to be a slogging match. The Franco-Austrians deployed with a French infantry division on the right, flanked on the right by a cuirassier division and on the left by the dragoon division. To the left of the dragoons was the larger French infantry division, then the second cuirassier  division, the light cavalry division, while the Bavarians closed out the line.

On the opposite side the Prussians stood opposite the Bavarians while the centre and left of the Allied line was held by the Austrians.

Battle commenced around 10:30AM an ended around 3:30PM and raged all along the line before we French were compelled to turn back towards Leipzig. Here are a few scenes from the battle (I didn’t take  huge number of shots if the game, but I did note that our Austrian opponent who presents the Bydand blog was taking quite a few and doubtless will present a view from his side of the table). So in a rather random order here is my completely unbiased view of the affair.

The Austrian left wing, just before their battalion in the top centre was routed.

The French infantry in the centre, supported by the dragoons...curiously this division was not destined  to be heavily engaged in this battle.

The French right preparing to receive the onslaught.

The Austrian Cuirassiers advancing. This was their first time on the table...sadly their time on the table wasn’t destined to be a lengthy one as all three regiments met their destruction on this field. 

The Bavarians on the left of the line.

Another fine view of the Bavarians, those most honorable of French allies, facing the Prussian horde.

The Austrians squares...three regiments of cuirassiers are out of shot to the left.

The French 2nd Cuirassier Division with the light cavalry beyond them, waiting for the opportunity to attack...sadly they would wait all day for an opportunity that never came.

The initial deployment of the French Dragoons

A view of the Austrian extreme left 

The French Dragoons start their advance

The French cuirassiers and carabiners still waiting for an opportunity to attack.

The Austrian cuirassiers preparing to attack
  
The Austrian left centre preparing to advance while the dragoons and cuirassiers fight it out top right

The Prussians prepare to advance

The end of the dragoons...trapped in a forward position after routing two Austrian battalions and then mercilessly slaughtered in a maelstrom of converging musketry.

I do realise that I haven’t posted much of late. This shouldn’t be taken as a slackening off my hobby efforts, although global supply chain issues have delayed some deliveries. To the contrary I have been very busy preparing terrain and armies for a game later in the year. In fact this project has seen 173 foot and 17 mounted figures painted and 43 pieces of terrain built to date with more than double that number of figures (and a dozen or so terrain pieces) to be completed. Because the era and the armies of the game will remain undeclared until the evening before play, I have not presented anything to do with that project on these pages in case the various members of the group put two and two together and come up with the right answer. Be assured that in the fullness of time all will be revealed.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

ANZAC Day

Today is ANZAC Day in New Zealand (and Australia for that matter), our Remembrance Day. In recognition of the day today’s regular Sunday wargame took place in Palestine where a small force of  British and New Zealand troops were assigned to assist T.E Lawrence (of Arabia) and his band to destroy a section of the German-Turkish railway. 

Defending the line was a Turkish force, supported  by a howitzer and two MMGs. A reinforcing German contingent was expected by rail.

Now I need to say up front that none of these figures and models are mine.

The train bringing the German reinforcements “chugged” onto the table. 

The British, supported by  a howitzer, an armoured car and a couple of MMGs arrived at the far end of the table

The New Zealand Mounted Rifles, supported by several light vehicles carrying LMGs, arrived shortly after. 

Meanwhile Lawrence’s Arab contingent, with a truck loaded with explosives, made for the railway.



The Turks were quick to deploy



They were soon engaged by the New Zealanders...

...whose light vehicles opened fire with their machine guns



As the first shots were exchanged the Germans disembarked at the Ali Baba railway station


Meanwhile Lawrence directed his explosives expert to prepare the charges

The Kiwi machine gunners blazed away from their vehicles...

...and “Johnny Turk” said “stuff this for a game of soldiers” and retreated back through the advancing Germans.

The arrival of the Germans had an immediate effect, immobilsing one of the New Zealand vehicles and destroyed this Model T Ford on its first outing on the table!

Then with a mighty “KERTHWHUMP” Lawrence’s man blew the tracks...

...and Lawrence, with pistol in hand, surveyed the damage.


Then together the Kiwis and Lawrence’s lads pressed the Germans (while Johnny Turk sought shelter behind the railway embankment). The New Zealanders were helped on no small part by the appallingly bad dice rolls of the German MMGs

For the briefest moment the British tried to steal the glory, but the Kiwis stepped forward an drove off  the last of the Germans

Larry then rode forward and thanked the  “Colonials” for their assistance...

...as a Kiwi vehicle trundled past him on its way to take out the last Axis resistance.

Here it all came to an end and was all a good bit of fun.







Friday, 9 April 2021

Finally The Civil War Armies are Re-based!

I painted the last infantry unit of my ACW expansion way back in early July last year. Since I hadn’t decided on the basing method at the time they were fixed to temporary card bases. I based some on their proper bases a little while ago, but the thought of finishing the remaining ten regiments was off putting to say the least.

With nothing significant planned over the Easter break I decided to finish the project. And finish it I did. I was pleased with the result and thought why not a parade, but then I though why not go one step further and get them on a table...why not play a game. 

I decided to play something from the very late war, in April 1865. So the background story is that when Lee abandoned Richmond on 2 April the various units of the Army of Northern Virginia headed west by a number of roads towards Amelia Courthouse where they would be resupplied before moving south to link up with the only other Confederate army of any strength left in the field, Johnston’s army in the Carolinas. The Union army, spearheaded by Sheridan’s cavalry, pursued. My game is a fictional scenario, in which a weakened Confederate division has taken a wrong turn and finds itself too far to the south. When the commander realises his mistake and turns back to he encounters a Union cavalry brigade in the grounds of Morgan’s Farm.

Now the Union cavalry commander is confused by the appearance of the Confederates. Although contact with the retreating enemy is yet to be established, all indications are that they are heading the west, not south, so the appearance of Confederate troops from this direction rings alarm bells. Has that wily old Gray Fox Robert E Lee tricked the Union command and this is an attempt to strike the flank of the dispersed Union army? The brigadier prepares for a hasty defence and put an urgent call out for reinforcements.

The opposing forces are:

Confederate

Infantry Division

   First Brigade - 3 regiments (2 standard, 1 small)

   Second Brigade - 4 regiments (2 tiny, 1 small)

   Third Brigade - 2 regiments (both standard)

   Fourth Brigade - 4 regiments (2 small, 2 standard)

   1 battery

Union 

Cavalry Brigade  - 3 regiments (1 tiny, 2 small)

Infantry Division

   1st Brigade - 5 regiments (1 tiny, 2 small, 2 standard)

   2nd Brigade - 4 regiments (2 small, 2 standard)

   3rd Brigade - 4 regiments (2 small, 2 standard)

Since this is a solo game I added a few programmed elements. First is that the Union reinforcements must dice to come on from the third turn onwards. On that third turn they roll 1xD6 and a score of 4+ will indicate that something will arrive. That score to arrive will change on turn four where a 3+ is required and subsequent turns a 2+. Once it is determined that something will arrive a second D6 is rolled - a 1 or 2 will mean the arriving unit is the 1st Brigade, a 3 or 4 the 2nd Brigade and a 5 or 6 the 3rd Brigade. Then a third D6 is rolled an a score of 5+ means that the whole brigade arrives at once while any other score means that only half the brigade will arrive that turn and must continue to dice to arrive. The Union cavalry are armed with repeating carbines that allows each unit one additional dice when firing.

The Confederate have some limitations too. The Third Brigade consists of two regiments made up of several consolidated regiments that have largely lost their esprit de corps and are treated as raw troops. The whole force is short of ammunition and must roll 1xD6 for ammunition exhaustion every time they fire, a 4+ indicating that they are low and for every turn thereafter that will roll half the number of dice that they normally roll.

So to the game. Note that in the description of the action that follows Confederate Brigades are referred to by their name in full (e.g. First Brigade) and Union brigades are referred to in the abbreviated form (e.g 1st Brigade).

The  table is 1200m x 1800mm and the Confederates will enter on the road at the bottom left and exit top beyond the hill and the farm. The Union troops will enter from the right on road at the far end of the table.


In the initial deployment two Confederate brigades have marched up the road to the junction when they spot the Yankee cavalry deployed around the farm.


On turn one the Confederates rush to deploy. The Second Brigade forms line across the fence to their left, while the First Brigade moves to deploy across the road to face  the cavalry. The remaining brigades follow to form a second line.


At the end of turn two the Confederate infantry is largely deployed. The Second Brigade, on the left, has begun its advance. The Union cavalry are nervously waiting to see if any reinforcements are going to arrive!



No Union reinforcements arrived on turn three and in the face of an overwhelming Confederate advance one dismounted cavalry unit made for the woods on the high ground while the others prepared for the onslaught at the farm. Not a shot had yet been fired.


As turn four starts Union reinforcements arrive...Horray! It is the whole of the 1st Brigade and they are coming on at the double.


But the Confederate advance continues and the leading brigades advance into firing range. On the right the First Brigade engages the  cavalry in the farm. One regiment fires, score two hits, not saved. The other regiment scores two hits, both saved. On the left the Second Brigade fires on the cavalry in the wood. All three regiments only manage to score one hit between them and that is saved. Two of the Confederate regiments now have ammunition problems.


The Confederates win the initiative on turn five and get first fire. The First Brigade opens fire,  one regiment scores one hit which is saved and it too has ammunition problems. The second regiment fires, scores four hits but must re-roll because of low ammunition, but scores four again. The cavalry saves two. The cavalry general is within 100mm of the target and must test or leader casualties and he survives.

The Second Brigade opens on the cavalry in the wood. Again they score a solitary hit, which is saved.


On the Union side half of the 3rd Brigade arrives, right behind the first. The cavalry finally get to fire causing only minor damage to the Confederate First Brigade but three hits on one of the Second Brigade’s tiny regiments, disrupting that regiment.


On turn six the Confederates look to drive off the Union cavalry in the farm and move to the attack. In the closing fire they score only one hit on on target, which is saved and suffer two unsaved hits in reply. In the resulting combat the Confederates hold the fight to a draw, so that it will continue next turn. The second regiment of the brigade scores a single unsaved hits and takes two in reply, but in the combat the Confederates are badly defeated and routs, bursting through the unit behind them.


The Second Brigade continues its abysmal firing effort scoring only a single casualty on the cavalry in the woods. Meanwhile no more Union reinforcements arrive, but the 1st and 3rd Brigades form along the road to block the Confederate exit point. In the continuing close combat the cavalry hold their fence line and drive the Confederates off, but the Confederate unit has suffered so severely is dispersed.


The Confederates retain the initiative, but the First Brigade is in poor shape and disengages. The artillery battery opens on the cavalry in the farm, but fails to do any damage. The Second Brigade score four hits on the cavalry in the wood who save three...those troopers are living a charmed life. Meanwhile the Confederate Fourth Brigade moves to engage the Union 1st Brigade, but only causes a single casualty from their fire. The remainder of the Union 3rd Brigade arrives. Things are looking grim for the Confederates now.

The Union 1st Brigade pours fire into the leading regiment of the Confederate Fourth Brigade, causing four casualties and disrupting the unit. The cavalry in the woods opens a devastating volley scoring four casualties, while a regiment from the Union 1st Brigade opens on the right flank unit of the Confederate Second Brigade, causing four more casualties. All three regiments of that brigade are now disrupted and the brigade is in danger of dispersing.


On turn eight the Confederates retain the initiative and in the Second Brigade the brigadier and divisional commanders rush to rally the troops, but they have had enough and rolling a “1” all three regiments quit the field. The remnants of the First Brigade have rallied and begin to shift left to join the rest of the division.

A regiment of the Fourth Brigade charges the cavalry in the wood, where they take three casualties going forward yet succeed in pressing home their charge, but they are repulsed. Another unit from the same brigade pushes through the disrupted unit in front of them to close with a regiment from the Union 1st  Brigade. In the closing fire the Confederates take three casualties and inflict three, disrupting the Union regiment as a result. In the fight the Confederates drive the yankees back, but fail to break them.


This was probably the last chance for the Confederates. If they had won that fight they could have cleared, the road, but now in the Union turn the Union troops take to the attack.  Half of 2nd Brigade has arrived. A regiment from the Union 1st Brigade swings onto the flank of two of Confederate Fourth Brigade regiments with devastating results as the two Rebel regiments rout. The cavalry in the woods cause heavy losses in the regiment in front of them and now 75% of Fourth Brigade is destroyed or in poor shape and the brigade is in danger of collapse.


In turn nine when the Confederates test for activation, Fourth Brigade disengages. There are now only three untouched Confederate regiments on the table facing nine good condition Union regiments. With his only line of retreat blocked the Confederate commander sought terms.

Surely the heroes of the day were the three regiments of Union cavalry who held their positions well and were  never seriously pressed.