Sunday, 27 May 2018

Sunday Game - Napoleon in Egypt 1801

Today 6 of us met at Barry's to get Mark's new collection of Perry Napoleon in Egypt figures on the table for the very first time.

The game was a fictitious encounter between a British force comprising three brigades of infantry, a small cavalry force, and some unattached troops, and a French force from the 4th Division plus Murat's cavalry and a few unattached units.

The British were weaker in cavalry and artillery but had more infantry - 13 battalions plus two 2/3 sized units of dismounted dragoons to 12 French plus the dromedary corps (camel mounted infantry)

The initial set up of the table was as below:

The mission for both sides was the same - gain control of the oasis situated in the centre of the table.

Any movement over the hills was at reduced speed, which helped the British get to the village first, a situation that proved to be very advantageous.

Mark, Paul and I commanded the British forces whilst Chris, Rick and Barry were the French.

The map below shows how each side marched on and deployed. Our plan was to hold the village on our left flank whilst the cavalry and two infantry brigades advanced on our right flank. We intended to ignore the French cavalry that rushed ahead and occupied the oasis early in the game.

 The combat developed as per the third map - my force of light dragoons and marines occupied the village and held it resolutely against Chris's 6 battalions. My second brigade formed a line from the village to the oasis and were subjected to intense artillery fire by Ricks 3 gun battery for most of the game. Despite well above average saving throws on my behalf, Rick managed to account for two battalions with his constant rolling of 6 dice needing 3+ to hit! On another day, he would have got rid of all four battalions and a lot quicker than today - as I said, on multiple occasions, Rick scored 4 or 5 hits in one turn, only for me to save them all!

Paul and Mark meanwhile combined their forces and launch a frontal assault by four battalions in line against two demi brigades of three battalions each in ordre mixte, commanded by Barry. These attacks did not go well for the British and after a couple of rounds of combat, the Brits were in headlong retreat, pursued by the demi brigades. The rout/pursuit continued for a couple of rounds and saw at least two British battalions wiped out. Amazingly, the demi brigade then assaulted two British guns, a combat that should have been a forgone conclusion with the French rolling 10 dice to the British 2 - however, Paul rolled a hit, whereas Barry failed to get even one, so the three battalions recoiled and were forced to split out of their ordre mixte formation. This led, after a couple more rounds of action, to the destruction of all three French battalions.

In the village, my two units of dismounted light dragoons had occupied some buildings and were engaged in a constant exchange of musketry with Chris, who deployed three full battalions plus a light gun against them. Again, I had wonderful luck with saving throws, and eventually, with some help from my artillery on the flank, I completely broke and drove off these three battalions.

In the centre, the British cavalry was pretty much decimated by French artillery and never got a chance to do much fighting. The French cavalry, on the other hand, made several charges but were repulsed from each by the steady British lines.

Chris made an assault on my second brigade after half of it had been wiped out by Rick's artillery, but we had another miracle result in the combat when I rolled 5 dice to produce one hit, and Chris rolled 10 dice for no result. Again, his demi brigade of three battalions was pushed back, and my units in the village were able to engage one flank whilst the guns pounded the centre. 

It was at this point we called the game - a minor British win. Both sides had suffered enormous casualties - 60 or 70% I would guess, and we actually fought ourselves to a standstill. However, the French had no infantry left at all out of 12 battalions that started the day, whereas the British had about 5 , so we felt the British had won...JUST!

Many images below - some are not of the best quality but I left them in as they tell part of the story of the game. All the figures are Perry Miniatures collected and painted by Mark, whose blog you can see by searching "1866 and All That."

 The village of Al Flatula -- scratch built Arab buildings by the talented Mark. The palm trees are from Chine - 60 for $25!
 The British column advances, led by one squadron of Light Dragoons. The infantry are Wattevilles Regiment of Stuarts Brigade
 The 90th Foot in Tarleton helmets
 The 13th Foot in "Round" hats
 De Rolls Regiment
 Another shot of de Wattevilles Regiment
 My second "Brigade" comprising two units of dismounted Light Dragoons and two battalions of Marines
 Paul's cavalry brigade passing my marching column
 The French Dromedary Corps
 Three demi brigades of French infantry plus their artillery advance towards the oasis
 Stuart's Brigade nearing Al Flatula and moving from column into line
 Marks "small" brigade consisting of two battalions of foot guards
 Rick's French cavalry brigade reached the oasis first
 Chris's first demi brigade in line as they approach the village of Al Flatula
 Rick's three gun battery that did such damage to Stuart's Brigade
 General view on the British right/ French left flank - Paul and Marks battalions on the left of the image and Barry's demi brigades on the right. My line adjacent to the village is in the top centre
 The Light Dragoons occupying the village and confronting three battalions of French infantry plus a light gun
 The first big melee - Mark and Paul combined to send four battalions crashing into Barry's unwieldy demi brigades
 Another view of the stoush between Barry and the British
 The Marines arrive in the village to support the Light Dragoons
 The 42 Highlanders flank the remains of one of Barry's demi brigades
 The combat continues on the French left flank as Barry pushes back both Mark and Paul
 In the centre, I combined with Paul to engage with Rick's French cavalry - he charged us but was driven off
 The first demi brigade can be seen in the distance behind the gun, having been driven off by the indomitable light dragoons. Meanwhile, Chris launched his second demi brigade against the remnants of Stuart's brigade
 The centre of the field - shortly after this picture was taken, the last of the British cavalry decamped
 Chris's second demi brigade goes in against my two guns and one battalion of infantry
 The position on the British left near the end of the game - the demi brigade failed in its assault and has split into three separate battalions - the one in front of the guns and the one facing off against my Brits in the village were ultimately forced to quit the field a move or two later
 View of the centre of the field at the end of the game - British to the bottom and the right, French in the top left

Same thing from a different angle - of the 26 battalions of infantry engaged , you can basically see everything that was left standing at the end of the game in this picture - a very bloody affair but jolly good fun!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Last night - Tuesday - Julian and I refought the action at Redinha TWICE in one evening, using the Commands and Colors hex based rule system.

This is a brief overview of the real life scenario:

"The combat of Redinha of 12 March 1811 was the second rearguard action fought during Masséna’s retreat from the Lines of Torres Vedras in the spring of 1811. Having held off the British at Pombal on 11 MarchMarshal Ney and the French rearguard had retreated to Redinha. Here he took up an apparently vulnerable position, with Mermet’s division on a plateau south of the village, and Marchand’s division north of the village on the far side of the Ancos River, linked by a narrow bridge, but Wellington was aware that he was close to much larger French formations, and proceeded very carefully.

Only at two in the afternoon, when the Light Division, Pack’s Portuguese Division and Picton’s 3rd Division had been joined by the 4th Division, with the 1st and 6th Divisions close behind, did Wellington begin his attack. The 3rd Division attacked around the French left and the Light Division around their right. After twenty minutes Ney’s flanks were both threatened and he ordered Mermet to retreat back across the river. This order was given just in time, for the French suffered heavy casualties while crossing the bridge, but managed to escape in good order.

While the British were slowly crossing the stream, the two French divisions were able to form up in a new line two miles beyond the village. Once again Wellington attempted to turn both flanks, and once again Ney retreated once his flanks were in real danger, this time pulling back to the village of Condeixa.

Ney has been praised for his handling of the rearguard. For the loss of 229 men he had held Wellington up for an entire day, giving Masséna the time he needed to force his way across the Mondego River. Unfortunately for the French Masséna failed to take advantage of that chance. At the end of 12 March the French were still to the south of the river, and in danger of being trapped by Wellington. The only alternative route open to Masséna was to retreat east towards the Spanish border, and the only road available led east from Condeixa. With the British close to that village, on the morning of 13 March Masséna began the long costly retreat back into Spain which marked the complete failure of his great invasion of Portugal."

In the first game, I played the British, pursuing the French and being confronted by Ney's (Julian's) rear guard.

From my initial action cards, I had one called Bayonet Charge, which inexplicably led me to abandon my usual cautious approach, and launch an all out assault against the centre of Julian's line at the very outset of the game. This turned out to be a disaster and after a couple of moves, I was back to square one, having lost a third of my force - three Portuguese battalions and the Grenadier Guards (yes, I know!)

In the aftermath of this slaughter, Julian helpfully pointed out that the British fire much better than the French but that the French melee better than the British - so the obvious tactic for the British is to sit back and blow the shit out of les Froggies with their superior musketry!

So for the next few moves, I took Julian's advise and he was right, I had soon taken out three of his units and his centre was looking decidedly shaky. I then had some good cards that allowed me to redeploy my left wing to reinforce the centre and one of my light cavalry units charged through, wiping out a fourth French unit. The second cavalry unit did a similar job on another unit and all of a sudden, I was at 5 - 4 points, with the winner needing 6.

Unfortunately from this position, Julian's single large cavalry unit destroyed one of mine - 5 all, then had a card to charge an extra hex and still fight at the end of it, catching the second cavalry unit in the rear - game over, 6 - 5 to the French. I was not too upset considering after the first 4 moves it had been 4 - 0 to the French!

Some pics below - probably not the best as usual, due to average lighting in the venue! The figures are all Julian's - original Willie 30mm figures bought and painted 40+ years ago when the man himself was a mere teenaged youth

The Scenario page from Commands and Colors

 View behind the initial deployment of the British centre - black clad Brusnwickers deputizing for the Portuguese....

The British left flank - light dragoons, light infantry and horse artillery

 The French right flank in the woods opposite the British troops in the previous image
 The French centre, two battalions occupying a commanding height, with support behind and in the woods to their right
The British foot artillery were positioned in the centre to support the main attack

 The British light dragoons from Julian's collection of 30mm Willie figures
 View from the British right flank with the second light dragoon unit, two units of light infantry and a single Portuguese battalion.
A view down the length of the table from the British left in bottom right of the picture

 The heroic but stupid frontal assault on the strong French defensive position
 The results of the assault after one turn - the three four base Portuguese units have been reduced to 1 2 and 3 bases respectively, plus the British light infantry in the right have lost 2 if their initial 5 bases and been pushed back out of the woods!
 A card that looked good at the time - the Grenadier Guards were able to advance from the base line right up to a position on the heights, next to the defending French....
 ...but this was the result of the next round from the French - Julian's guns scored 4 hits on the guards, whilst the infantry wiped out what was left of the Portuguese - 4 - 0 in points at this stage!
 The British regroup in the centre and start doing what they should have done form the outset - using their large units and superior fire power to whittle down the defending French
 A view of the centre from the French side of the table
 The British light infantry move forward supported by the foot artillery
 Julian's "bag" of four colours from the four units he had destroyed
 The Brits have cleared the French defenders off the heights with blistering musket fire
 The redeployment to the centre - units from both the left and right flank converge to establish local supremacy
 One last roll of the dice - so to speak - as two unsullied French units emerge from the woods to engage the main British force
 Situation a couple of moves later - The British have occupied the hill in the centre and wiped out several French battalions. The two cavalry units can be seen engaging badly damaged French squares
 The British thought they had won...5 - 4 in points and the centre cleared of all French troops...but..
 ......there was still life in the Froggies, and.....
The final charge - the French cavalry defeated two separate British units in one move, to take the game 6 - 5

After a break of about 30 minutes to eat a very nice Japanese takeaway meal, we returned to the table, reset all the troops in the starting positions, and gave it another go from the other side. Having demonstrated exactly how NOT to do it, I was expecting Julian to give me a complete pasting, but that was not how it turned out.

There are less photos this time and the lighting is even stranger as we added a spot lamp at one end of the table...

 The view from the French left flank - the main defensive ridge is in the top centre
 The French right flank comprising a battalion of line infantry, the one cavalry unit and the horse artillery
 General view of the left centre of the French position, as the British advance
 The British force in the centre
 The British left flank advances to engage the line infantry in the woods
 A strange angle - must have seemed like a good idea at the time - of the action in the centre!
 The same view from a different angle - the French are holding their own and I think I was 3 - 1up in points at this stage
 View from the defensive position on the heights
 The British light infantry on their left have destroyed the line infantry in the woods but a "cavalry charge" card allowed me to move all cavalry OR horse artillery four hexes, so I was able to get them out of the way before the Brits could assault them!
 The end is nigh - the Brits have pushed the defending French off their main position in the centre...just like in the first game
 My cavalry attacked the light infantry but failed to make much of an impression and we called the game at this point as the French force was basically shot
Final view from behind the French horse artillery

What a good evening! I arrived at Julian's quite early - about 430 - and we probably started before 5pm. the first game was done and dusted by 7pm and we completed the second one by 9pm, and this included the meal break.

I was not too disappointed with the results - we agreed I had a moral victory in the first game - if we had not had a points system the British would almost certainly have gone on to win that game. 

The French did well in both games and even after the lessons of the first game, Julian had a hard job breaking through the French in game two and suffered very heavy casualties to achieve victory.