Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Battle of Aroldo Valley; 10mm Napoleonic

The Battle of Aroldo Valley has commenced!

This will be my second Napoleonic playtest, and the scenario and forces are explained HERE!

The game has begun! Here is the story of the first few turns. A few changes from my usual reports... first, I am going to do centered pictures and captions below them. Second, I am taking fewer shots overall. Hope everything is still followable!

Let's get to it!

The attacking British army is to the right, the defending French to the left.
The British advance has been hesitant. Thanks to a mis-communication in the British 3rd Division, the near flank has been slow advancing, as a few brigades slowed and stopped as their Colonel's checked and rechecked their orders.

Initially a cavalry brigade from the British 2nd Division, under the ambitious but foolhardy Colonel Hakeswill, moved forward quickly from the center, hoping to destroy the French battery deployed in a somewhat isolated position on the near flank. However, Marshal Ney of the 2nd French Division managed to get his cavalry in between the guns and the British, who were bombarded by shell and roundshot and slowed. Then Hakeswill, a sub-par commander to begin with, panicked and ordered his men to fall back as the French cavalry, under the excellent Colonel Laroux, guarded their guns closely. The British brigade took casualties as they retreated from the rocky slopes of the hill and back to the fields, artillery shells falling all about them as they galloped.

Game note: It was very neat how the cavalry face-off worked out... the French cavalry brigade commander was a +1 officer operating near his Division commander... the British cavalry brigade commander was a -1 officer operating a bit further from his Divison commander. The British cavalry got further and further from their divisional command, and just as they came under threat they lost their tenuous line of command and their inferior officer, who was of a Cautious personality to begin with, fell back, his brigade losing a touch of morale as he went! Represented the dangers of operating far from your command structure and of officers personalities like a dream!

In the French center, the infantry from the 2nd Division have held up along a rock wall around a field. It provides excellent shelter from the light artillery across the field and a nice morale bonus to the elite Grenadiers and Voltigeurs sheltering behind it! This would form a tough flank for the French force, who had no intentions of leaving their cavalry and artillery on the near flank for much longer...

Game note: Elite troops behind hard cover, and they despite being hit by the British light artillery across the field, they had no chance of failing a Steady! test. I am curious to see how much having such a defensible piece of terrain helps the outnumbered French in this spot, as they will generally try to hold the British attack here.

Far across the field, the British 2nd Division, which forms the center of the British line, advanced slowly. The Prince of Orange, in a fit of military passion, personally took command of a brigade and promptly advanced beyond the shelter of the middle ridgeline, coming under fire from the massed artillery in the French center (see below.) The artillery fire proved accurate and the roundshot crashed into one of the Allied battalions, causing a stir in the lines and, amazingly, a few men began to slow down as they passed their own dead and began to reconsider their dedication to the fight... Meanwhile their light guns deployed and began to pound the stone walls behind which the French sheltered, hoping to soften this position before they were asked to attack it, but taking casualties as well from the multiple French batterys.

Game note: Artillery generally does not cause many casualties; however, it DOES force brigades under fire to start making Steady! tests... and in this case the Allied troops already had a battalion or two become Unsteady. They would need to pull back behind the ridge and see if The Prince of Orange can steady the men before they start the long walk across the center to attack the stone walls.

In the center, the Guard of the 2nd Division held near the rock-wall, while the remaining French artillery had opened fire on the British Second division across the field from them. Just skimming their shots over the hill the nearest artillery emplacement hit the British artillery and infantry in the center, while the light battery at the far road position opened fire on the British artillery unlimbering on the hill (top.) They were amazingly accurate, and after a few volleys from the light artillery and a few from the heavy French guns, the British guns slowed their fire, their crew being slaughtered!

Game note: Amazing! For counter-battery fire, a battery gets one roll per turn, needing a 5 or 6 (or a 6 if it is a light gun) to knock out an enemy gun. Knock out half an enemy battery and they have a 50/50 chance of not firing in a turn. Knock them all out, and no more enemy battery. It is a lot quicker to kill them with lights or cavalry! However, in this particular game the French counter-battery fire was NASTY, forcing the British to amend their idea of standing back and pounding the French.

Meanwhile on the far flank the British 1st Division, under the Duke of Wellington himself, put out their skirmishers and advanced on the road and the Aroldo chateau. The 1sts artillery (see the first photo of this blog entry) was pounded by the French artillery.

The first British rifles began to fire out of the woods at the Guard skirmish screen, which could not hold the Greenjackets back. Meanwhile the Duke's division of infantry massed and began to near the edge of the woods...

Game note: While the Old Guard skirmishers were forced back by the rifles, thereby forcing the Guard battalions themselves to start taking Steady! tests, this was not a real issue, as the Guards are elite and behind cover, therefore ensuring that despite the rifles picking at them they are generally unconcerned... they have seen a lot worse! The British will not be able to use their lights to soften up the French for the attack!

So! On the near flank the British attack has finally launched, but after being a bit battered by artillery. The French cavalry on the near flank, under excellent command, will cover the retreating artillery. In the center the British columns have already taken fire and their artillery has been battered... can they make it across the field to hit a rock-solid French flank of elite men sheltered behind some sturdy stone walls? And on the far flank a massive British attack, screened from the French artillery by the chateau and the woods, rolls forward, skirmishers forcing the French voltigeurs back and beginning to snipe at Guard officers... how exciting!

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