Yesterday I had the pleasure of catching up with Graham Hilditch again and after discussing my progress on the Sugar Islands book and his plans for a display we played a short game in what I hope will become come a series of linked battles over the next few months.
Graham has a wonderful collection of figures for many period but his pride and joy are without much doubt his 40mm SYW unit's. I've not really played with 40mm but the detail and variation in the figures together with the realistic proportions gives them something much more than just extra height as I think you will see from the pictures below.
Graham had set up a few units of Prussians and Austrians from his collection and with only a few hours to play I had taken two copies of Jim Purkey's Minden Miniatures SYW rules with both Graham and I played at the Wild Geese get together in June this year. They're well worth checking out if you like a quick game with plenty of ebb and flow.
Graham commanded the Austrians, 2 regiments of foot with a battalion gun, a regiment of Croats and a regiment of Dragoons, supplemented by a single light field piece. I took the advancing Prussians, leading a converged grenadier battalion, infantry regiment with a battalion gun and a fusilier regiment . As we both hope this will be the first in a series of games I have added a little narrative which will give us a theme to fit the games into.
The Austrian troops formed a bridgehead at the small village of Holtzende, just across the river Mosset. Placed on the west side of the road were the Dragoons of Rgt Althann and IR4 Deutchsmeister with the gun in support. Across the village IR3 Carl Lothringen had deployed, tramping the kitchen gardens of the villagers. Beyond them, in the light woods and fields south of the village a battalion of Likaner Croats lay in wait.
Advancing toward them was a small Prussian force hoping to seize the river crossing and unaware that the Austrians had already got there first. It was not until the 2nd Hussars trotted across some open ground that they noticed the Austrians were in possession of Holzende. The grenadiers of battalion 26/13 blundered round the corner of the road and immediately took fire from Croats on either flank and shot from the battalion gun of Carl Lothringen. They hastily deployed off the road and into line but not before a further volley hit them. This was too much for the surprised Grenadiers, who could see little of the Croats and only the long white line of IR3 deployed and awaiting them, wreathed in smoke from its gun. They turned and scattered back down the road, straight into the horse of Prince Moritz who tore a strip from their commander and sent them to the rear to reform. The advancing fusiliers of Rgt Von Rohr gave them a few catcalls and whistles as they marched past, ready to deploy into the Croat haunted orchards on the Prussian right.
The Prussian Hussars had heard the gunfire and knew the battle had opened. Ahead of them they could see the Dragoons of Althann formed up and decided that they would be the ones to take the battle to their foe, drew sabres and charged. The caught the surprised Dragoons at the halt, but the charge was in haste and poorly formed, the bigger men and horses of the Dragoons gained the upper hand. Although casualties were even the Dragoons remained steady but the Hussars were shaken and forced back in disorder.
Back in their fields the Prussians had managed to deploy IR14 Von Lehwalt and it began to advance while the Fusiliers of Von Rohr began their advance through the woods on the right. Between them the two regiments drove back the Croats and restored some order to the Prussians.
On the left however the Austrian Dragoons were not done with the Hussars. Both sides had reformed and when the Dragoon sounded the charge the Hussars galloped toward them. The two sides clashed and again it was the Dragoons who got the upper hand and again the Hussars were sent back. Desperately their commander tried to rally his men but it was not to be and the left the field in some disorder. The Dragoons had moved too far forward however, the Hussars defeat had unmasked the Prussian gun which no fired into the Austrians. Exposed and without support they turned and retired somewhat precipitously toward their own lines.
The crisis point of the battle had now been reached, the Austrians had brought up their second infantry regiment and their cannon and were awaiting the Prussians who were now moving through the wheat fields on the left, having finally cleared the Croats from their path. Von Lehwalt emerged from the crops and opened fire with its battalion gun and fired a volley into Deutschmeister. The Austrians replied causing the Prussians to waver but hold. On the right Von Rohr fired to clear the remaining Likaner Croats, but failed to do so and they remained in place, screening the men of Carl Lothringen from theFusiliers advance.
The next turn would decide the engagement....
But you'll have to wait because that's all we had time for!
Thanks for the game Graham, look forward to continuing it. Hope you liked the place names!
On Tuesday last I took the opportunity to test out the Beneath the Lily Banners 3rd edition at Oldmeldrum.
The new version of the rules come in a sumptuous book, lavishly illustrated and photographed which is stuffed full of eye candy of the usual League of Augsburg high standard. Some changes have been made to a few things, probably the most noticeable being that troop types use different dice depending on class -D6, 8's or 10's.
It's been a while since my last game of these rules and my regular opponent was unable to attend so the game was cut back to a very basic cross table encounter. The table was cluttered up a bit with some fields and a mix of troop types fielded to make sure we tried out the full rules. We used my Bavarians and French, since Andy's Danes were absent. Alistair took the French - 4 foot, 2 horse and 1 battalion gun against my 3 foot and 3 Cuirassier.
We walked through the game at a decent enough pace for essential newbies. The downloaded crib pages (6 pages....more than a playsheet!) helped us and after a few turns we kind of got the hang of the dice rolls required. Both of us rolled up plodding generals which didn't help us move into action!
I like the movement in these rules. Troops cannot skip across the field. Marching and manoeuvre is methodical and slow as it should be and both sides found the walls and hedges a distruption, very much as they would have been on a real battlefield.
Attempting to slow up my men, Alistair's French horse galloped across the fields and clearing a wall, charged down on my one of my regiments. However they failed to make contact and took a ragged volley which felled one trooper. They were disrupted but passed their morale and tried to get clear the following turn but took another volley and this time were forced to retire.
On the other flank my Bavarian Cuirassier tried to cut up Alistair's isolated right wing, two regiments charged his battalion gun. The first failing to make the required morale test and the second charging forward but taking enough casualties to force a morale test and a poor throw made that unit retire too.
So we'd managed to test command, movement, charging, morale and firing, with only a couple of causes to actually delve into the book and try to understand the rules. This took a little while and a little discussion before we agreed an interpretation that felt right. Given we'd started too far apart, had been blethering and been slower than usual it was now time to pack up. Overall we both felt it was a decent test and will be giving them another outing next week.
Last week I tried out another scenario for the Sugar Islands book. This time one of the last confrontations on Guadeloupe where the British were held up by the French who had dug in behind the line of one of several rivers which cut the road near Petite Bourg.
The French had mmanaged to prepare trenches and had dug in two small guns which caused the British some discomfort until they found a way to outflank the position.
My scenario had 4 units of British, 16 figures each including the 42nd foot, facing 5 French - 2 Marines, 2 militia and 1 large unit of armed slaves, plus two light guns. The French position was on a slight hill behind a river which was crossed by a bridge. The road forked just in front of the bridge and led off to the right hand table edge where the river was crossed again by a ford.
Once again I used Jim Purkey's Fife and Drum AWI rules. They are simple, straightforward and work well for this size of game, played over a couple of hours and using a few units a side. The French marines and militia were regulars and well militia, armed slaves moved as militia but fired and fought as Indians. The British were all regulars except the 42nd who fought as Grenadiers, reflecting their shock role.
The game took place at Oldmeldrum on a small 3x4 layout. The British, controlled by me marched up the table and the highlanders and another unit quickly took the road to the ford. The other two units formed up before the bridge and gave the French, commanded by Alastair, something to shoot at. Even at long range with the guns shots began to whittle down the redcoats, but their morale was good and they shrugged off the odd casualty.
The other two units were heading for the ford, screened by thickets of jungle and scrub. Alistair detached two units of militia to head them off and it became a race. One feature of Jim's rules is that the winner of the initiative roll gets to either move or fire first. First fire means incurring morale tests which may leave your opponent shaken or even routed, so once battle is joined it becomes important to decide carefully who does what. The highlanders crossed the ford and deployed into line, unobstructed by the militia who were still rushing down the road. Thus they were ready to engage them the following turn and with several volleys broke them and sent them back down the road.
At the bridge the other two British units, hearing the firing from their left, formed column and began to cross. French cannon fire began to become more telling and once across they were within canister range. One unit broke and ran back over the bridge, leaving the 38th to stand alone.
By now however the highlanders had arrived on the flank of the French position. Both units of militia had either routed or been shot to pieces and were no longer effective. Alastair was forced to deploy the armed slaves to shore up his position and deploy a unit of marines across the flank of the highlanders and their accompanying line unit. He also decided to try to save one of his guns and hitched it up to a limber to withdraw it.
Back at the bridge the British fixed bayonets and charged into the French defences. The remaining marines were quickly overrun. The highlanders drew claymores and charged into the armed slaves, but as they did so the remaining French marines got off a volley which surprised the accompanying line unit. It failed a morale test (double 0's!) and routed to the rear, leaving the 42nd on their own. However the slaves didn't stand a chance and they tooo turned and fled.
The British suffered 20-25% casualties in their lead units however the two units which failed their morale tests had recovered and were still fresh. The French on the other hand had only one intact marine unit and had suffered heavy casualties amongst the milita and slaves and had lost a gun. With their position taken the battle was over - a fairly historical result!
So here are my piccies from the Wild Geese weekender. Our third, successfully organised by Colin Ashton, this year. It was great to catch up with everyone and there were a few new folk to meet. Our table even won the after dinner quiz on the first night 😂
My first game was an excellent Zulu War game using TMWWBK run by Gary Philips. The Zulu's were generated by "Mr Babbage" whilst Gavin Winspear moved them about and alternated between great dice throws and disastrous ones. First time I've played liked that and it was fun. We manage to achieve our objective although my blithering idiot officer got all but two of his cavalry killed....he must have been up for a medal!
The British Firing Line with the cavalry in the distance.
The Zulu's try to jump the rear of the British position...and succeed.
Afternoon saw me play Colin Ashton's "Versailles the Game" which involved galloping up the table supposedly to fight the Dutch but in reality to capture as many women and to try and prevent the other French commanders (Steve Pearse and Tim Whitworth) from doing likewise. Lovely figures (and a few cheeky ones!) and terrain once more from Colin.
Those pesky Dutch
The Maison du Roi
Captured by the Gunners
Colin's town buildings
My last game was my favourite this year. William Harley took along his 18thC Spencer Smith imagination figs, (painted as French and Prussians) and we had a great game across the table using Jim Purkey's 7YW rules. First time I have played them and I'd say they were perfect for a big battle like this.
The French Positions
Cuirassier vs Hussars
Lots of ebb and flowing the left especially between Tim Whitworth and Jim's cavalry and even a chivalric gesture when Doug Thompson's unit got left behind by Jim's retreating centre and was given the opportunity to surrender by Michael Perry. Having given a one word answer, we were forced to bring up the howitzers to make him reconsider!
Willz runs the game while Perry and Purkey face off. Tim's cavalry puts in another attack.
The Spencer Smith's gave the game an old school feel. They are painted in an almost abstract style that really makes them stand out. Will handmade the terrain pieces for his game and I intend to get some instruction or bits from him!
Another great weekend. This highlight of my Wargames year, I am so glad that we will be doing it again next year. Thanks to Colin for this one, looking forward to next June already !