Saturday, 25 June 2022

Holiday Gaming 4 - Wild Geese 2022

Well it was a long long time coming but 3 years after our last meet we finally managed to get together for our much delayed Wild Geese gaming weekend last Friday to Sunday in Kenilworth.

The Wild Geese began as a group of wargamers who were inspired by John Ray's excellent "A Military Gentleman of the 18th Century". Each year we play a selection of games with great figures in great company. 

This year we had a Mollwitz refight withWill Harley and his Spencer Smiths. Hugomont run by Tony Dillon. Gary Philip ran a SYW refight with his Minden and Crann Tara figures, Steve Metheringham put on a other SYW game, Prague, using his 40mm semi flat Prince August figs and Martin Gane ran a Wellington In India game with Redoubt figures.

Tony's Hougoumont

Gary's SYW

Willz Mollwitz

Martin's Wellington In India

Steve's 40mm Prince August 

Taking part we had a fine bunch of gamers for whom the game important and who know their stuff inside and out, but who also like a real good blether and a social over a drink or three.

So the scene was set for a great weekends Wargaming and catching up with each other. 

I played in Willz game where the Austrians smashed their cavalry into the Prussians in a swirling melee  which ebbed back and forth, capturing Frederick the great, but being driven in on the opposite flank resulting in a win on the field for the Prussians but a mess for both sides strategically. 

Willz Spencer Smiths (Mollwitz with Imaginations)

On Saturday afternoon it was time to take the British and sepoys into action against the Mahratta in India. The British were greatly outnumbered and the rockets flew into them, over them and around them and for a while we were at a loss as to how to take on the the huge army before us....then we thought...ah sod it...Chaaaarge....and for a moment, shattering the Mahratta  centre and putting them to flight...just as our flanks collapsed and we were ourselves overrun. A truly epic game.

Martin's game.

There followed a very very late night or an early morning discussing politicians, common cars, Yo, Beowulf and the vowel change, striking egyptologists and tv presenters with a certain speech impediment, youthful efforts at American football and whisky collections....

Sunday, please don't roll those dice so loudly....and it was time to play the Austrians again - with Gary and his Mindens. Now there wasn't much to do but hang on as long as possible as the Prussians just slowly inexorably moved forward and ground the Austrians into the dust. I wasn't at my most energetic for sure, but god I had some bad dice so no lucky breaks and that was what was needed to survive, so a historical result was very much achieved. It was a challenge to try and change that, which made the game, but it wasn't going to be be our day!

Gary's Austrians 

And with that it was time to tidy up distribute the prizes give Steve a round of applause for organising the whole thing and promise to see each other again next year. 

Paul  - Best General presented by Willz

Tim - Luckiest General, my opponent in two games!

Aly collecting his perennial award - unluckiest general

Gary wins best game with  prize presented by Chris Greig

Dave wins most Gentlemanly Wargamer

And you know what.....this time, I think we will. I'm looking forward to it already. 

And talking of looking ahead -

Last weekend concluded my time off and I'm settling into my new job. It promises to be busy, but in a much more rewarding way than my last one. I can feel the benefits of it already. As it's now midway through the year I will be having a good think about what I want to do with my hobby for the rest of it and I'm going to have a lot more creative headspace.

What is certain is that the 18th and 19th centuries will remain my key periods. I have done a lot of work on my next book, which will cover the late 16th century, a very local theme compared with distant tropical campaigns this time. The Glen Campaign will continue and a different, fictional 19thC campaign will form another project. The next 6 months will be interesting!

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Holiday Gaming - Part 3

 The Glen Campaign 2

To Forres yesterday for another game from our "it's not quite the valley as you know it" Rebels & Patriots 40mm Skirmish campaign. 

As we left it Confederate Captain Dashing moved from Kintore to Machar and attacked Union General O'Neil with his small mixed force. We had rolled the Bullets and Beans scenario which meant that I, as O'Neil was in camp when Dashing appeared with 4 units of infantry, (inc one vets and one with obsolete weapons) and a gun. My 3 infantry units and a gun (ie the units which O'Neil had available - 1 vet, 1 reg and 1 green unit) were in camp and only one unit could occupy each of the 4 sections meaning Dashing had the advantage, despite the cover offered by the camp. 

Things got off to a dodgy start when my Irish vets became disordered and withdrew from their section but the following turn the regulars delivered a stiff volley and the gun sent canister into the advancing confederates. This coupled with Grahams units getting tangled and masking his gun gave me a breather and I was able to drive the confederates back while I rallied my men. 

The battle was not to go all my own way however - with his line of fire now cleared Graham was able to whittle down the crew of my gun and force it back. I threw my green volunteers forward to occupy the now empty sector and they were able to hold on while the Irish and the regulars blazed away. The order began to turn and along the Irish and the gun were worn my other two units had no hits. Graham had taken some hefty volleys and lost the first of his infantry units, followed by a second a few turns later. Turn 7 rolled round and the confederates were on the edge of the camp. 

Another turn (8) of  union fire kept them out and caused a second unit to break, but all of my units were now disordered though only with light casualties. Graham had lost a second unit from disruption and we rolled the die for the end of the game...and it was all over. My men had managed to just keep the confederates out of the camp and had suffered  lighter casualties. The confederates had suffered from accurate musketry and couldn't quite get into the camp. 

We totted up loses and wrote orders for the next turn. This time Stuart led his detachment down to Kintore while O'Neil advanced from Machar. This move trapped Dashing in his camp - the boot was on the other foot. But the confederate camp was an all together more solid affair  and Stuart, reinforced by O'Neils artillery would have his work cut out.

Dashing cut off in Kintore by Stuart and O'Neil

Overall this is turning out to be a neat little campaign. The rules in Rebels and Patriots are able to handle this extra dimension driving the game and the campaign setting and mechanisms are able to fit with the rules. I can see this map being used again for campaigns a bit closer to home, perhaps the retreating Jacobites and their Hanoverian foes, the Earl of Mar and the Lord of the Isles and Bruce and the Comyns, all of whom stomped over the same ground. 

Tomorrow I leave for Kenilworth for the much delayed Wild Geese 2020 nope, 2021 er make that 2022 weekend. That promises to be a great weekend and finale to my hols. 3 years since our last weekender this is going to be special.

Friday, 10 June 2022

Holiday Gaming part 2 - The Glen Campaign

 For my second holiday game I was up at Graham H's where we kicked off our 40mm ACW campaign using the simple rules and map which I knocked up a short while back. 

This was not a detailed reflection of military strategy and tactics...just an mechanism to get some games played in a sort of framework, and it looks like it's done its job!

We drew up our armies, 10 units of infantry, (including a mix of green, regular and veteran types, aggressive confederates and a sharpshooter unit for the union) and 2 squadrons of cavalry and 3 guns each. We also rolled up 3 officers - A major and two captains, each with their own traits. 

Starting off at our depots we wrote orders for our commands and then revealed them. The first move didn't see any action but soon my Union Captain Chambers bumped into Confederate forces under Captain Flash in some woodland near Harlaw. 

As defender, my role was to get my forces off the table ....the table diagonally opposite where I  was positioned and with a mixed bunch of 1 green, 1 regular, a small unit of sharpshooters, cavalry and a gun my job wasn't going to be easy. Graham had two regulars, a veteran unit and a gun in the woods to my left. 

I needed to get off the road and into the woods in my right and get up the table as quickly as possible so I used my sharpshooters and cavalry as a screen to hold off a unit of regulars which I could see coming off the road to block my path. I got my green troops moving and screened my flank with my gun and regulars, opening up with the former at Graham's vets who were moving through the clearings to attack. 

The cavalry dismounted (normally cav can't use the fire order, but this seemed appropriate for civil war period cav), but their carbines didn't have the range to engage, so they moved up. This brought them into range of the confederate regulars who gave them a heavy volley and sent them scuttling back onto their horses. The sharpshooters did more good though and a firefight opened with the rebels, my men picking off troops without much of a reply. 

On the road my gun was now under fire from Graham's own artillery, but they had held up the veterans and allowed my green troops to get deep into my side of the table and up towards their objective. My regulars now turned and fired on the confederate regulars who were closing in and this allowed my gun to limber up and get away - just in time. Id lost most of the crew. The game was now becoming a race to see if I could get my men off the corner zone or if Graham could place his men across the line of advance and block it. 

First off were the cavalry, at 50% they'd lost too much to take part in any further fighting. My green troops  were next, as the door began to swing shut. I got my regulars across and my badly damaged gun and my still fresh sharpshooters just a move or two away, but now Graham had men in place. His own casualties were mounting though and the end of the game was looming. I fumbled my activation for the skirmishers so they didn't get off but Graham had taken too many hits as his gunfire was not causing any casualties. With that the dice was thrown and the game ended. 

I narrowly squeaked a "victory" of sorts....I managed to get enough troops off the table to gain some honour, but Grahams high casualties and lack of hits on my men meant Captain Flash wouldn't be getting the honour of a mention in despatches to Richmond. My men made it back to the main body under General Stuart at Harlaw and I'm sure Captain Chambers would have had some explaining to do.

We worked out our casualties and wrote orders for the next move. Holding the central position General Stuart decided to hold with Captain Chambers at Harlaw. Captain O'Neil was at Kemnay and had settled down for the night with his small force in camp when the pickets sounded alarm.....

To be continued....

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Holiday gaming - part 1 - Against Spain - Outside Manila

I'm off on holiday at the moment, having a sneaky break between my old job and new one. After a lovely long weekend away up Donside, then down to Edinburgh and Glasgow I was at my local Club to continue playing out the scenarios from my Against Spain book.

Now we have reached Manila on the Philippines. The British have landed through the surf onto a beach near the city and established a depot there while they build their siege line. The expedition suffered from a lack of regular troops and equipment - and this meant the beach depot was not particularly well defended nor was Manila cut off - allowing Spanish forces and supplies to come and go. A sally was inevitable, and when it came it was a force or regulars, militia and tribesmen who attacked. 

The depot was near a Spanish church which in our game housed a detachment of the 79th foot. This was only a short distance from the forest, and it was from this location that trouble arrived. Bill, commanding the Spanish sent his regulars and militia round the church, and his Filipino tribesmen against its stone walls, thinking they wouldn't be good for much but they're tie up the defenders. Dave settled down for a siege. His thoughts were that he could hold out until the Grenadiers and another detachment of the 79th arrived from the lines nearer the city.

It was going to be quite a different battle for both sides....

First of all the tribesmen crashed into the church and in a fierce melee (good dice from Bill and a poor morale check from Dave), drove the defenders back from the vestibule (it's a big model!) into the nave where fighting took place amongst the stores and stacked pews. Bill sent his second tribal unit into the church and they swept the 79th back once more forcing them out of the building. Dave (with Robert on the dice), wasnt having a great start. The only consolation as was the city militia were proving very sluggish and it seemed hadn't been paying much attention to musketry drills...they only managed to amble round the church and line up, getting them to fire at the beach depot was proving impossible.  Regiment del Rey, on the other flank were better, firing a volley into the defenders amongst the boxes, barrels and tents.

Another round of melee broke the remaining men of the 79th and they fled for the city. The marauding tribesmen were now free to attack the camp, which they set about with some glee and the British there were pushed back from the breastworks of baggage and equipment. There seemed to be something wrong with the morale dice and it wasn't getting any better. 

The militia were still dithering about, unable, or unwilling to get a shot off, but at last some help arrived from the siege lines and the Grenadiers showed up. A firefight started between them and the Spanish regulars. But back at the beach, the British were now in deep trouble having been pushed back yet again they were practically on the surf line. However order now began to break down and some of the Bill's tribesmen now got stuck in the depot, unable to activate below half strength and probably thoroughly looting the place. The militia still didn't fancy much action, but did at least move round to watch. 

The Grenadiers and Rgt del Rey were blazing away but the Spanish were getting the upper hand but the arrival of the remainder of the 79th brought hope for Dave.....fleetingly....

The men on the beach faced another attack by the Filipino's and were overwhelmed. The dice had been cruel....three 3's for morale tests in a row and poor shooting and melee rolls had done for the Brits. 

Historically the British were able to drive off the Spanish, but with some loss and the fighting quality of the tribesmen was noted. This game showed just how finely balanced the attack on Manila was and had the Spanish been slightly more organised and active in their defence they would have driven the attackers off. As disorganised and poorly resourced as the British were, it was their single mindedness which saw them through. We will deal the the attack on the city itself in the next game in a few weeks time. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Against Spain - Defend the Battery

 As we have reduced numbers at the club it was a two aside game from my Against Spain book tonight. 

Following on from the Advance on Guanabacoa scenario a few weeks ago we played the next scenario from the book, the Spanish attack on one of the British batteries firing on Manila and El Moro.

The Spanish rowed men across from Havana and the moved up from the coast, attacking from behind the British position. Appearing from the cover of the trees the Spanish caught the British napping and the three units defending the battery had their work cut out as the Spanish commander Dave, chose to send two units round each side of the battery and his remaining unit of marines and sailors to demonstrate against the centre of the British position. 

In response I brought the scratch unit of gunners and assistants up to the breastworks at the rear of the camp along with the 60th, while the Grenadiers tried to get out of the camp to take on the Moreno and Pardo militias. However using Rebels and Patriots grenadiers are shock troops and have a reduced range for shooting, to encourage them to close. This time however Dave managed two decent first volleys which caused a fair amount of casualties to the Grenadiers, so they were pulled back pdq!

I managed to keep the marines and sailors back and a low morale throw disordered and then broke them, but the Blanco's and the Havana garrison were edging closer. Only the cover provided by the breastworks was saving the British from losing men, but the Spanish were getting into short range - my shooting wasn't great and even the militia would start to whittle the Brits down once they were closer.

I brought the grenadiers out to the right of the camp to try and shoot away the Spanish regulars and for once my shooting resulted in a decent volley from both the Grenadiers and the 60th. This halted both the Pardo militia and the Garrison men. It was the last act of the grenadiers though as they were wiped out in the firefight. This left just two British units. 

By now the Havana blanco's had got into the camp, but a sharp volley ended their incursion and they were wiped out, this left Dave with three units, but the Pardo's were pretty shot up and the Garrison regiment had lost a quarter of their men. They took further casualties trying to close from the 60th and failed their subsequent morale test. Now at less than 50% they were disordered and retired and at that the Spanish had lost more than 50% of their men and the game was over.

It had been a close thing. The British were getting decent morale rolls but poor shooting. The Spanish, bring mostly militia (green), suffered from poor activations the two good volleys I managed to get in coincided with poor morale thrown from the Spanish and that saved the day for the Brits, who were close to losing their second unit and the game.

Historically the British were able to drive the Spanish off, both sides suffering high casualties, so this game was a historical result. A second sally from Havana with more regular troops as well as militia was repulsed more easily and then the British received reinforcements and fresh supplies of powder and shot and the fate of El Moro and Havana were sealed.

All of the figures (other than the pickets, the Caribbean camp follower and the casualties) , were from Crann Tara Miniatures, (now available from Caliver Books) , and include the Moreno militia which were designed specifically with this campaign in mind.

If you'd like a copy of Against Spain, please use the contact box on the right to drop me a line.