Last week - from Wednesday evening till Sunday lunchtime in my case - 8 wargamimg mates foregathered at the holiday home of one of the group on the tranquil shores of Lake Tarawera, just east of Rotorua in the central North Island.
Six of the group were there on Tuesday and had a game on Wednesday, whilst I and one other member of the team were still at work in Auckland. We departed the City of Sails around 1900 and were at the lake by around 2130. We spent a pleasant few hours eating kebabs, imbibing a few ales and watching 2 hours of Bluestone 42, a BBC comedy about a British Army counter IED team in modern day Afghanistan
Next morning, our resident chef provided a full English breakfast - fried eggs, bacon, tomato and mushrooms for us all and after the arrival of the member who has his own house a short distance away along the lake shore, we moved up to the garage to commence our first/second game of the trip, a Crimean War encounter.
The situation was that the British, French and Sardinian allies were advancing from the left of the table as shown below, whilst the Russians entered from the right table edge. The allies were told that victory points would be awarded for uncontested control of the village in the far distance, the bridge over the river adjacent to the village, and the church in the right centre of the picture, which in reality was on the far right flank of the Allied position.
One of the Allied Divisions were required to entre on the far side of a river that ran from the far end table edge, through the village and off the British table edge, creating an isolated corner of the table (although the river was fordable at any point) The Sardinians were also to enter in this corner and early activation of this force had negative implications for the Allies victory points.....
After a period of "discussion" amongst the Allies, it was decided the Sardinians would come on at once, so two divisions would be deployed against the village. The Guards Division was immediately to the right of the river and intended to wheel left to join in the assault to capture the village and bridge. The French "had a plan" and went off on their own to the extreme right flank, opposite the church, leaving seven battalions of the Light Division to occupy approximately half of the Allied front.
The Light Division (which I have painted over the last 8-10 weeks) deployed in line on the table edge, with the Light Cavalry Brigade covering their front
The Guards Division, comprising three Guard and three Highland battalions, were deployed to the left of the Light Division
The large French Division of Thirteen Battalions deploying on the extreme right of the Allied table edge
The Russians enter their table edge opposite the village, facing off against the Sardinians and two British Infantry Divisions
The Light BRIGADE immediately have a rush of blood to the head and veer off to the left in search of Russian cavalry to play with - leaving the Light DIVISION of seven battalions facing off against sixteen Russians - BRILLIANT!
The Sardinians on the Allied left advance towards the river
The Russian priest invokes divine assistance in repelling the apostate Catholic French
The Russians advance in the centre, with the British Light Division in the distance
The other Russian Division deploys on the Russian left, opposite the church and the French, who can be seen in the distance
A More general view of the Russian left, with French guns deployed to their front, the infantry coming up, and the Russian guns engaging the British Light Division in the top right.
On the Russian right, their cavalry confronts the Light Brigade across a stream adjacent to the village
Even further to the Russian right, Cossacks and guns demonstrate in front of the Sardinians and British, who can be seen fording the river in the top right of the picture
Another view of the Sardinians - this was probably two or three moves after the previous picture, as they dicked around all morning doing not very much at all!
Aview of the British Division crossing the river to assault the town - their commander kept asking our umpire how many battalions could occupy each building in the village - he seemed a bit nervous!
The Light Brigade throw two regiments across the stream to attack two regiments of Russian dragoons, an act of bravado, heroism or stupidity - it all depends on the result!
The same scene a short time later - note the absence of one British cavalry regiment and the presence of a Russian dragoon regiment on the "wrong" side of the stream....so it was an act of stupidity then! Fortunately, another British cavalry regiment is coming to the rescue, charging the Russians in the flank...
But what is this we see - despite all sorts of negatives for a flank attack, one stand of Russians have driven off the entire British regiment, who can be seen fleeing TOWARDS the main Russian infantry force!
The Light Division faces imminent annihilation from the advancing Russian horde
A move later and the Russians are even closer
Meanwhile on the Allied right flank, the French and Russians clash over the church, whilst the priest prays on
British cavalry hiding behind the Guards and Light Division - by the stage, the Light Brigade was scattered to the four winds
The Sardinians have finally reached the river and are having a nice little paddle in the sun
The Brits have crossed the river and entered the town - SURPRISE - there is no one there - they ae all in the centre about to destroy the Light Division
Half the Light Division has been wiped out and the remaining Brigade has been pushed back by the Russian steamroller
Arial view of the engagement on the Russian left/Allied right - the French are still struggling to deploy effectively
The Russian centre advances on the Light Division
The same situation from a slightly different angle
The result of the combat - two battalions were wiped out and three driven off
The one unscathed battalion of the Light Division as the victorious Russians stream past
The Sardinians have changed their plan - the water was too cold so now they are heading for the bridge instead
The Brits occupying an empty village
Russian cavalry demonstrating in front of half the Allied army
Russian batteries engaging the Guards and Light Brigade
The Russians around the church spread out their lines to engage the congested French advance
The last minutes of the Light Division
The French have captured and occupied the church and a small number are engaging the flank of the sixteen battalions who destroyed the Light Division - but too little, too late
A general view of the Russian advance in the centre, having smashed the Light Division, the Russians fan left and right to engage both the Guards Division and the French
The last stand of the Light Division - they are my figures so feature in a lot of the pictures!
The gap in the Russian line indicates the one success for the Light Division
But he end result had not been in doubt since the Light Brigade galloped off on the second move of the game and the Russian guns started pounding as their massed infantry advanced
The last survivor is hit in the rear by two Russian battalions - and then there were none!
On the Allied right, the French are still struggling to deploy to get their thirteen battalions into action
On the Allied left, the British and Sardinians are enjoying a nice picnic in the sun
The Sardinians FINALLY cross the river - they suffered a casualty when one of their men stubbed his toe on the bridge
The right centre units of the Russians engage the Guards Division
French battalions looking disorganized in the face of a solid Russian line
The Russians on their left advance on the reeling French
On the other flank, the Russians break in and defeat the Highland Brigade
The Sardinians enjoying the beautiful countryside
View down the table from the village end - the Allies succeeded in capturing the bridge and the town but the Russian strategy was superior - they ignored this area almost completely and combined their infantry into two huge forces of sixteen battalions each plus overwhelming artillery - the Light Division had NO artillery attached and at one point was under fire form six Russian batteries!
Well that's it for tonight - the game lasted from around 10am till 4pm, with a break for lunch, and was a great spectacle to look at, even if it was pretty obvious what was going to happen to my poor boys from quite early in the piece! The Allies did gain two of the three positions required for victory points, but as stated, the Russian plan to ignore the bridge and town and concentrate their troops into two huge battering rams to win the game by killing Allied units was superior and they definitely won this encounter. We repaired to the "mess" to lick our wounds, drown our sorrows, eat too much wonderful food and watch more war based DVD's late into the night - it certainly beats working for a living!