Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The second act of the Battle of Aroldo Valley

I am back with the second act of my latest 10mm Napoleonic rules test; the Battle of Aroldo Valley!

When we last checked in, the French were defending against a larger British attacking force. On the near flank the British, slowed by incompetent commanders, was finally about to pounce on the French artillery and cavalry that was stationed on the flank, both of which were starting to flee back towards the French center. The French center was largely held by a brigade that was making great use of some stone walls, and the British had not yet attacked that spot yet. On the far flank the British were advancing to attack the French where they held a chateau. All across the field the French artillery seemed to be getting the best of the British, almost knocking one battery out of action!

So; on to the latest!

Here you see the near flank; the British cavalry from the 2nd Division, under the Prince of Orange, galloped in to try to destroy the French artillery that was pounding them, only to be intercepted by the French cavalry! However, if the British can just hold the French long enough another brigade of British cavalry can circle around behind them and pounce! Notice the 3rd Division commander, Sir Thomas Picton, in the woods at the foot of the hill, within shouting range of the Scots Greys... however, in getting this close he sacrificed being near his second brigade of infantry, who actually began to redeploy towards the rear of the field!

Meanwhile, on the far flank, three British brigades advanced through the orchards and fields around the Aroldo chateau. The Old Guard defending the chateau were well dug in behind walls, hedges, and in the sunken road. The British, advancing in column to keep their morale up, began to open fire as they advanced, but caused few casualties.

Game note: I am a bit uneasy with what to do about when a unit is so firmly entrenched. For example, the Old Guard (+1 for being elite) were behind cover (another +1) so they had no chance of failing their Steady! tests that the British rifles forced. Now, is that okay? Should an elite unit defending in cover realistically be unable to weaken just with some skirmishers? A "1 is an automatic failure" rule seems a bit much at the moment, as that ensures that 1 out of 6 morale tests will absolutely fail... I am not sure what to do here... any advice welcome!

However, as they advanced the French commander sent a brigade of cavalry out through the fields, and they began to loop back towards the edges of the advancing Allied lines as the troopers unsheathed their swords... could they manage to hit the British attack in the flank and sweep them off?

Meanwhile, back on the near flank, the first British cavalry brigade managed to keep the French in combat while the second brigade looped around and crashed into them! While the French managed to hold on momentarily, quickly one battalion broke and ran while the other was cut to pieces!

Meanwhile, back on the near flank, the British advanced, firing as they went, desperate to whittle down the Guard defenders before they charged. The Duke of Wellington decided that if the first two British infantry brigades could weaken the defenders, then the third brigade could break them! But as the first Allied battalion broke and ran, the Duke turned in his saddle; where was that third brigade, commanded by the ever-cautious Colonel Price?!

Apparently Colonel Price had, on his own, seen the French cavalry in the center and withdrew his brigade so far that they are not even visible in the above photo! Timing their charge with care, the French cavalry crashed into the Allied line... surely the Allies were doomed! One roll of the dice... and amazingly the Allies held the French cavalry off for the moment, as even with all the bonuses for hitting a line in the flank the French could not beat the British roll of a 6 with their roll of a 1! However, the chance of this happening in the next round was low, and the Duke realized that his attack was in serious, serious trouble...

Game note: Cavalry can choose to move in one of two ways; either advancing, where they move any distance up to 6 inches plus the LOWEST of two dice, or a charge, where they move the ENITRETY of 6 inches plus the HIGHEST of two dice. The trick is that charges are done in halves, so if you roll a 12 inch charge, you move six inches, and then the enemy has a chance to fire! This makes attacking tricky... you can go with an advance into combat, where you run a chance of not moving far enough but can also hit before the volley, or a charge, where you will likely move far enough but can also get shot if you aren't careful! All in all, it makes for an interesting dynamic.

So that is where we leave off! The French cavalry on the near flank has been caught and destroyed, but the large British attack still must break two full French infantry brigades, one ensconced behind stone walls and the other consisting of Old Guard. On the far flank the British attack is in trouble, as one brigade withdrew under the threat of cavalry and the others have been whittled down by French musketfire. Both sides have limbered up artillery and are moving it up to provide close range support... but what will happen in the Valley of Aroldo!? Will the British break before taking the chateau? Will the massive wave of red crush the French behind the walls, or will the blue coated infantry force the British back?! Check in again in the next day or two and Act 3 will be posted!

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!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The participants for my next 10mm Napoleonic game...

Howdy all! Well, I have gotten the participants and scenario down for the next 10mm Napoleonic battle!

This will be another French vs British affair. In this case two French divisions (on the right side of the photo to the left) have been sent to hold off a large attack from three British divisions (on the left side of the photo). Napoleon, knowing how important it is to hold the British back on this flank of the battlefield, has dedicated a number of elite formations to the cause, knowing that they will be outnumbered but hoping they will not be outfought!

The battlefield has some natural slopes in the center of it and a long road hedged in by fields and walls that runs across one side. There is a chateau on the near French flank that is currently held. The objectives? For the French, to hold off the British attack. For the British; smash through the French forces!

This one will seem a bit unbalanced; three British divisions versus only two French divisions. The French, however, will begin deployed anywhere on their half of the field that they wish, as they are defending ground and have already deployed. The French also have a rather powerful force, including three batteries of artillery and two brigades of Old Guard. The British have more men, but not necessarily great ones... they have three brigades of Allied troops among their divisions. Also, while the British are all on the table to start, that is just representative; the brigades will actually come on gradually, forcing the British generals to take some time to muster their force. Okay... so here are the participants!

British 1st Division, under Sir Arthur Wellesley
(near flank) The Duke of Wellington commands the largest British division. It consists of two brigades of British infantry and one brigade of Allied infantry. Also, it has a battery of 9lb guns to support it.
British 2nd Allied Division, under The Prince of Orange
(center) The Prince of Orange commands the 2nd Allied Division. It consists of two brigades of Allied troops (including one commanded by Colonel Sharpe, who was specifically requested to serve under the Prince) and one brigade of cavalry. These troops are not the finest but will suffice, although both of the Colonels not named Sharpe are inferior officers. The Prince also has a single battery of light artillery.
British 3rd Division, under General Thomas Picton
(far flank) Picton commands the 3rd British Division. It consists of two under-strength brigades of British infantry, which include two battalions of Highlanders. It also has a brigade of British cavalry.
French 1st Division, under Marshal Soult
(near flank) The French 1st Division is commanded by Marshal Soult. It consists of a brigade of Old Guard (who have occupied a chateau on the French flank), a brigade of line infantry that includes a battalion of converged grenadiers, and a brigade of cavalry. It is supported by a battery of light artillery that is posted on the main road, behind the cover of the hedge rows.
French 2nd Division, under Marshal Ney
(far flank) Marshal Ney commands the 2nd Division. It consists of two batteries of heavy 12lb guns, a brigade of Old Guard, an overstrength brigade of line infantry (that includes a converged battalion of grenadiers and a converged battalion of voltigeurs) and a brigade of cavalry.
So that is that! When I start the game I'll post some photos. And in the meantime if anyone wants to offer some strategies for either side, I'm all ears!:)

Marshal Soult urges the Old Guard to hold the chateau at all costs!

The end of one 10mm Nap game, and the start of another...

The 10mm Napoleonic game has ended!

To be truthful, after only one more turn it was clear who had had won... the French cavalry on the near flank was stymied and hurt, the French attack through the center woods was smashed and the Allied brigade had rallied... in the center the British still barely held the chateau, but they had turned back three-quarters of the Guard. And finally on the far flank the overwhelming French wave was hit, at the last second, by an entire brigade of British cavalry, and that, plus the artillery and British troops behind the stone wall and the thick flank of Allied troops ended it!

And with the end of one game, time to start another! I've taken some time to analyze and reworks bits of my
rules... skirmishers still needed work to properly interact with cavalry and artillery in the right way, but now work nicely. I streamlined a few processes, did a little work on light guns vs heavy guns, and generally tweaked the whole thing.

I am busy rebuilding the table, one with a few more natural rolls, and have a scenario in mind... here is the table in-progress... if you have any suggestions, or anything you want to see, please let me know!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Some Hi-Res Miniatures photos

Howdy all!

The father-in-law was in town today, and using his spiffy camera took some high-res shots of the toy soldiers. Enjoy, and don't forget to zoom in!

On note... if you want to see the photos so the whole photo fits in the screen, what works for me is click on the picture to get it large... then right click and select "view image." You will then get a version you can shrink to fit the screen!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just a photo I like...

Friday, May 15, 2009

10mm Napoleonic Game continued...

Well, the battle continues!

I must say, it is lovely having a space you can leave up as long as you wish! So, here is the next installment of the game! In the center, the Old Guard has launched its attack on the chateau. On the far flank the French infantry have attacked in a massive wave, as the British cavalry there has repeatedly fallen back because of its commanders nervousness... it is all up to the infantry to hold that flank!

If you recall... on the near flank the French cavalry, stymied by the British squares, holds back, waiting for a supporting brigade of infantry to crash though the forests to attack the British. If the French brigade can shake the British allies and then turn on the infantry squares, the French will take that flank! Finally the two sides see each other, the French crashing through the undergrowth, the British allies (and a single unit of Highlanders, sent from the chateau) formed outside the woods, and volleys of musket fire ripple up and down the lines as the French drums push the columns forward.

In the center, the Old Guard comes under fire as the push through the orchard. The French veterans fire one volley and then plunge in, determined to fight it out with the bayonet. Waiting for them are three British brigades, including a brigade of Highlanders... it should be a nasty fight!

Meanwhile, on the far flank, the French waves have pushed forward, trying to flank the smaller British force. The supporting British cavalry, commanded by a cautious officer and far from their divisional commander, have repeatedly fallen back... the commander insists it is a strategic redeployment, but his men cannot help but sniff cowardice... meanwhile the French, leaving one brigade at the front to exchange fire with the dug-in British lines, have largely swamped the side in large, deep columns... can the British hold them back?

Back on the near flank, the French brigade plunged out of the woods and into the Allied troops. Men on both sides fell as volleys of musketfire rolled through the woodline. Despite the French losing many men first one, then a second and a third Allied battalion broke under the pressure. One held, however, long enough for the British cavalry to plunge into the fight. Seeing the British cavalry charge the French cavalry tried twice more to break Colonel Sharpe's squares, but were turned away both times. With a brigade of Highlanders on one flank and the Scots Greys hitting the center, the French brigade finally began to crumble, and French infantry began to stream back through the woods...

In the center the battle around the chateau and the orchard continued... the French Guard pushed through the British musketfire and crushed one battalion of redcoats, sending them fleeing, while the Scottish infantry slowly began to be pushed back. The British infantry in the chateau came under attack from two battalions of Old Guard but were managing to hold on. Seeing how close the fight in the center was, the British brigade under Colonel Smith quickly sent a battalion of infantry to support the center. Swinging along the edge of the orchard the battalion crashed into the flank of the Guard columns and began to push them backwards, away from the chateau. Under this pressure two battalions of Guard broke, having taken casualties assaulting the chateau and being hit in the flank... however, two remained, and two battalions of Guard were still enough to capture the chateau!

Here is a shot of the fleeing French infantry from the woods, as well as two of the Old Guard battalions that broke...

Finally, on the far flank, just as the French seemed destined to crash into the British flank and collapse it under a wave of blue coated infantry, the British cavalry FINALLY advanced! Trumpets blaring and sabers flashing, the entire cavalry brigade crashed into the sea of French infantry before them, just before the French could form square! However, the French were so dense, the bayonets like a hedge, that they were able to keep the screaming cavalrymen from instantly collapsing them, so one brigade was tasked with slowing down the charging cavalry while the other two continued to press the Brunswick troops before them...

So! The French attack through the woods on the near flank was largely turned back, as the Allied troops regained their nerve and began to reform, the battered French cavalry still frustrated by the solid British squares. In the center the chateau is still hotly contested, but the British are quickly reinforcing their position. And on the far flank the battle still hangs in the balance, as both sides are exhausted and units are starting to rout... I'll bring the final installment for this battle as soon as possible!