Friday, May 27, 2011

This week's update...a new page...

I did not get to the SESWC this week so I have added a general page about my Napoleonic wargaming.  This will be expanded over the coming weeks.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This weeks game....something out of period!

This weeks game at the SESWC was a 28mm play test of the Force On Force (FOF) modern warfare rules by Ambush Alley Games published by Osprey.

The game was out with the normal historical scope of my blog as it was a variant of the Vietnam War scenario ‘Of the Birds and the Bees’ from the rulebook. We used the same forces as per the scenario – 6 US fire teams defending a firebase being attacked by initially 5 NVA fire teams who receive reinforcements each turn. The scenario as set out in FOF is to be played on a 2ft by 2ft table – we expanded that to 4ft by 4ft with eventually disastrous results for the NVA. We needed a bigger table as we had 6 members playing the game plus another 3 helping (!) make sense of the rules.

US fire team surprised

The game opens with the NVA automatically having the initiative for the first 3 turns with their objective being to overrun the base and eliminate all the US troops. The NVA quickly knocked out one US fire team and also ransacked the unoccupied US HQ but were held in check by a long continuing firefight with 2 of the other US fire teams. On turn 4 the NVA still held the initiative but the US players where then able to employ the 155mm guns in the firebase firing beehive shells – i.e. canister -directly at the NVA troops. This proved devastating as they hit 5 of the NVA fire teams effectively eliminating 3 of them. The game ended at that point – so the US were not able to deploy their gunship helicopter due on turn 5.

US Firing line - M47 substituting for 155mm Howizter

The first move of the game took over an hour to play as we all tried to understand the rules in particular the key action – reaction mechanism of the rules but the subsequent 3 moves were played in approx 20 minutes each.   The game and the rules were enough of a success that I think we will be trying the rules again.

A fuller review of the rules will be published on Angus Konstam’s Edinburgh Wargames blog.

Notes on Beehive rounds Beehive is an anti-personnel round fired from an artillery gun. The round is packed with metal flechettes which are ejected from the shell during flight by a mechanical time fuze. It is so called because of the 'buzzing' sound the darts make when flying through the air. It is intended for use in direct fire against enemy troops.
The first round actually termed "beehive" was first fired in combat in 1966 and was thereafter used extensively in the Vietnam War, though the later development of the Killer Junior air burst technique provided an alternative to beehive in some situations. The primary beehive round for this purpose was the M546 anti-personnel tracer (APERS-T) shell which projected 8000 flechettes and was direct fired from a near horizontally levelled 105 mm howitzer. Beehive rounds were also created for 155mm Howitzers, recoilless anti-tank weapons including 90 mm, 106 mm, Ontoses and M48 tanks.
Beehive rounds were extensively used in the Vietnam War, for defence of firebase perimeters against massed enemy attacks, and because it could penetrate the thick canopy of the jungle and "pad" it out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Latest game and more additions....

Last week’s game that I played at the SESWC on Thursday evening was a 1/1200 naval game set about 1908. Our resident naval expert Angus Konstam devised the scenario. I commanded the Russian naval squadron and all was going well until both my battleships, the Tsesarevich and the Slava, blew up in a single turn due to suffering direct magazine hits from HMS Venerable. My most powerful ship the Slava was very unfortunate as it was the first hit that she had suffered.

Disaster strikes the Russian squadron
 A full report is on Angus’ website:

As I said before I have 2 main projects at the moment - continuing to add units to my AWI collection and building up my Russian and French forces for the 200th Anniversary of the battle of Borodino in 2012. Here are this months additions -

First is a new unit of militia that I have added to my Patriot forces for the AWI. I bought these 16 painted Front Rank figures on eBay and I have matt varnished them and rebased them to match my other units. The MDF bases are from Warbases and the Silflor tufts were supplied by Mutineer Miniatures.

Secondly here is the latest force to be added to my Russian Army. A Brigade of Mounted Jaegers consisting of 2 units of 16 Mounted Jaegers - representing the 1st Arsamas Regiment and the 4th Nezhinsk regiment. Yes I know that Mounted Jaegers were only added to the Russian Army in 1813 - but they look good.

The figures are by Foundry and were painted by the team at Reinforcements by Post. They were based by myself - the MDF bases are from Warbases and the Silflor tufts were supplied by Mutineer Miniatures.

1st Arsamas Regiment
4th Nezhinsk Regiment
New Foundry early Russian command

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Battle of El Burrito, 22nd July 1812......

This 28mm Peninsula War game was  played at the SESWC club night the day before our big refight of Polotsk.  The scenario was devised by John Glass. It was a hypothetical alternative action – The Battle of El Burrito, 22nd July 1812 - based on the Battle of Salamanca.  John’s very thorough briefing note is given at the end of this article.

John Perkin supplied the British forces with John Glass supplying their Spanish allies. I supplied the French forces. Dave Cooper took the French overall command with myself supporting him.

John Perkin's British painted by PioneerPainting
The game involved the French division of General Foy crossing a river and whilst partly across realising that they faced a superior Anglo-Spanish force on the far bank with a further British force coming up pursuing them. Total forces involved were 3 British infantry brigades, 2 Spanish infantry brigades, and 2 British cavalry brigades against the French with 3 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades.

French infantry in the bridgehead

The French side decided to push forward to break thru the British facing them whilst one of their brigades secured the flanking village of La Pocilga .

There were 2 highlights of the game. Firstly the complete failure of my newly based French Line Lancer brigade who acting as vanguard of the French attack were swept from the field by John Perkins’ British Dragoons. Secondly the defence of the village of La Pocilga by John Glass’ Spanish battalion that broke 3 of the 4 battalions of the French brigade who tried to storm the village.

Lancer brigade advancing to disaster

Another attack goes in on La Pocilga

Given these failures and the approaching British pursuit the French side called it a day and ordered their troops to disperse to avoid capture.

Lessons from the game:
Capturing built up areas in Black Powder can be very difficult so limit the number of areas assigned that status
Remember that in Black Powder infantry do support cavalry in HtoH actions
Spanish guerillas sniping at the French attack columns

The Player Briefing - The Battle of El Burrito, 22nd July 1812

Following the capture by the British and Portuguese of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellington marches his army into Spain. Marshal Marmont’s “Army of Portugal” lies across his path between Toros and Tordesillas, to the east of Salamanca. The armies are of much the same size. Marmont, under pressure from Joseph Napoleon, is set to attack Wellington.

On 15th July Marmont starts his offensive against Wellington’s right. Wellington, caught off guard, falls back on Salamanca. On 16th July Wellington intercepts a letter from Joseph to Marmont stating that he will be marching to join Marmont with 13,000 men. Cafferelli, another French general, with a force of cavalry and guns, is also due to join Marmont.

The two opposing armies march on Salamanca, crossing the River Tormes on 21st July. Wellington is resolved to avoid any action other than under the most advantageous of circumstances. Marmont is anxious not to engage in full battle, but is constrained to fight ‘some sort’ of engagement.

On 22nd July Marmont thinks he has the right opportunity. Dust clouds beyond the hills to the south of Salamanca suggest that Wellington is retreating. British troops can be seen in the hills opposite the French positions: Marmont assumes this is a rearguard.

Marmont sees his opportunity: he can engage a small force and achieve success, thereby satisfying the demands of his commander, King Joseph.

Although Wellington has sent his heavy baggage on the road to Ciudad Rodrigo, not a rear guard but his entire army still lies concealed in the hills before the French.

French troops advance and fighting commences around the chapel of Nostra Señora de la Peña. Assuming that two divisions is all he faces, Marmont resolves to engage these troops while his army marches off to the left and comes in behind the British, cutting them off from the rest of Wellington’s army, which he takes to be retreating in the distant dust clouds.

Marmont now compounds his mistake: he sends Foy with a reinforced infantry division, plus a cavalry division, back north to cross the Rio Algabete to outflank the British left, with further orders to assault Salamanca itself.

During the course of the day, Wellington moves his hidden divisions into positions facing south. By 2pm Wellington has spotted the nature of Marmont’s moves around his flanks. The French divisions are marching along the Allied front, dangerously strung out and exposing their flanks.

A messenger from Francisco Espoz y Mina, a Guerrilla leader based in the nearby pueblo of La Pocilga, arrives in Wellington’s camp and informs him of Foy’s movements. Wellington is quick to react and sends an under-strength Spanish and British infantry division and a cavalry division ‘pruned’ from his army to intercept him.

With half his troops over the Algabete, Foy receives a dispatch: the battle to the south is not going well, and there are British troops pursuing him: he soon realises he’s caught in a trap.

Late in the afternoon the two forces clash under the walls of the pueblos of La Pocilga and El Burrito …

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Carronade Falkirk show SESWC display - GCH......

The SESWC for its demonstartion game at Carronade put on my game of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse 1781.

Grenadiers stopped short of fence by militia firepower
 We used the Ob and troop ratings set out in my GCH page.

Link to Flickr photoset of the game

The British in this refight were actually less successful than in the games played at my house.  They still had not broken thru the American 1st line when we finished the display.  Good militia shooting, poor British shooting and great American morale throws were the main factor...
It was a good game - and a good looking demonstration.  My thanks to Colin Jack, Hugh Wilson, Dave Pearson and Dave O'Brien for providing scenery and backup material, moving the troops and to everyone that showed an interest and took so many photos.  I spent a lot of the day speaking to so many enthusiasts about the battle, game, scenery, rules and figures.
Carronade was a good show wth lots of displays and traders - well worth attending.  I stocked on Silflor tufts.  Our next show where we are putting on a display will be Partizan at the end of May..

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Big Napoleonic Game....1st Battle of Polotsk 1812

This weeks big game was held on Friday as a special Escape the Royal Wedding event. It was a 28mm refight of the 1st Battle of Polotsk 16-18 August, 1812 played using Black Powder Rules.

Organising the game
The game was fought at Hugh Wilson’s house on a 14ft by 5ft table that Hugh had built for the game. I provided the scenario and most of the figures. Donald Adamson provided a French Brigade, Ian Carter the Franco-Portuguese skirmisher detachments and Dave O’Brien loaned me his Jaegers to use as the Russian skirmisher detachments.  My thanks to Susanne for providing the Russian and French style lunch.

Their were 8 players and I umpired. Hugh Wilson, Ian Carter, Colin Jack and Kevan Gunn were the Russian players. Dave Cooper, Martin Gibson, Donald Adamson and Jimmy Conquer were the French players.
I have added a special Polotsk page which gives more complete information on the game setup, rules used, the player briefings and order of battles.

The forces were not deployed historically at the start of game. The French army deployed with 3 infantry brigades and a light cavalry brigade on the table with the heavy cavalry brigade and the 3 brigades of Bavarians in reserve of table. The Russians deployed with 5 infantry brigades and their light cavalry brigade on the table with the dragoon brigade and the grenadier brigade in reserve.
With the table effectively split into 2 sections by a stream running across it before the game started the 2 sides had to decide on which flank of their armies their reserves would be committed. The French command decided to commit all their reserves on their right flank whilst holding on their left-centre. The Russian command decided to commit the reserve dragoon brigade on their left and the grenadier brigade in the centre-right making that their main point of attack.
These decisions left the Russian left with 2 infantry brigades and the dragoon brigade facing a French force of 4 infantry brigades and the heavy cavalry brigade. The Russian centre-right with 4 infantry Brigades and a light cavalry brigade facing 2 infantry brigades supported by a light cavalry brigade. Both side committed their reserve heavy guns to their attack sectors.

Link to Flickr photoset of the game

How the game played
So both sides had decided to effectively attack on their right flanks.
On the French right the Bavarian reserves came onto the table fairly quickly and steadily advanced thru the woods on their right flank. The Russians facing them committed one infantry brigade to facing the Bavarians and their other to facing the French infantry and heavy cavalry. Though heavily outnumbered the Russian infantry seemed to be holding their own partly as the French took a long time to get their artillery into action.
The Russian dragoon brigade eventually arrived on the table and started making a bold advance - however this did not last long. The carabineer regiment of the French heavy cavalry brigade charged a Russian infantry unit which was already engaged with a French column. The Russian infantry broke and the carabineers made a sweeping advance into the dragoon brigades cossack sotna who could not counter charge and broke and in turn the 2 dragoon regiments which were supporting the Cossacks retired! The carabineers then rallied back virtually unscathed.

Carabiniers strike home...
As the Russian infantry were being worn down by the masses of the Franco-Bavarian infantry the cuirassier regiment of the French heavy cavalry brigade decided to emulate the carabineers. The cuirassiers charged one of the Russian dragoon regiments who counter charged but they were forced to retreat. the cuirassiers then made a sweeping advance into a Russian infantry unit who had to stand in line and were ridden down. At the end of the action the Russian left was down to 2 infantry battalions and 2 dragoon regiments, Remarkably they still had all their artillery.

Cuirassiers sweep on - no time to to react...

The Russian command made their effort on their centre-right. In their centre they were held up by some poor command rolls so that their advance was slow to get going. Eventually the 2 brigades they committed wore down the French brigade facing them and by the end of the game their attack columns were threatening the suburbs of Polotsk.
On their right the Russians with 2 infantry brigades and a light cavalry brigade faced a Swiss infantry brigade and a light cavalry brigade. The Swiss held their own for a long time but at the end they were being pressed back into Polotsk. The Russian cavalry on this flank proved as ineffective as their fellows on the left. In turn the hussar regiment and then the cossacks failed to break the skirmishing detachment from the Portuguese Legion. The Russian cavalry commander on 5 successive turns failed to rally any hits from the Hussar regiment. Truly appalling. I blame the Cossack vodka! The Russian heroes on this flank were an infantry regiment who facing a charge by chasseurs a cheval deployed into a disorganised square and for 6 turns always disorganised withstood the chasseurs and then a Swiss column before breaking.
It was agreed at the end of the game that the Franco-Bavarian success on their right flank more than negated the Russian success in the centre-right and the result was determined to be at least a French winning draw.

Hussars engaged with the plucky skirmishers