13 December 2009

Torrecastro a ramené

I thought I would have another go at the same scenario with the same ruleset to see how long it would take. The game took 3 hours over 2 sessions, with some referral to the Lasalle Forum. This is very good for solo wargaming. I also wanted to see if I could manage the French attack a little better. This time I planned on the same British defensive posture but a more cautious French attack with more reliance on artillery rather than immediate combat. Lets see how it goes.
turns 1-6
Both armies starting position can be seen here. Both armies advance toward each other, the 88th forms into march and advances through the 5th. The RFA unlimber. The British jockey their lines and the French form into march formation to speed their advance. The French artillery moves within canister range and unlimbers.
turn 7
The French veteran bde advances toward the British left and the 6e Dragoons start their move towards the 88th.
turn 8
RFA fire causing 1 DISR on the 6e Dragoons. The 88th forms line.
turn 9
The French cannon fire canister at the 88th causing 1 DISR. The French veteran bde forms into attack column as does the conscript bde. The 6e dragoons form into wave formation.
turns 10 & 11
The RFA fire causing further damage on the 6e dragoons. The 88th fire at the 25e causing DISR as does the 45th on the 1/66e ligne. Recovery tests fails.
The French fire back without success. The 25e légere charge the 88th, so do the 1/66e on the 45th. The 6e Dragoons wheel and charge the RFA. The 2/66e forms line. The conscript bde changes their formation as well. The French artillery prolong toward the right of the British line.
turns 12 & 13
Multiple contact along the British line. The RFA decides to fire rather than seek refuge, no hits. The 88th falls back as a reaction. The RFA are broken by the 6e dragoons who fall back with 1 DISR. The combat between the 45th and the 1/66e is inconclusive with the 1/66e falling back 2BW and taking 1 DISR.
The French press their attack with cannon fire, the 2/66e advance in line. The 1/66e charge the 45th again, as do the 25e légere on the 88th, "les grognards" are relentless. The 6e dragoons wheel and take the 88th in the flank. The 3/59e ligne advance towards the 5th. The 26e ligne form line.
turns 14 & 15
The 45th break the 1/66e. The 88th is unable to form square in reaction to the charge of the 6e dragoons. They first engage in combat with the 6e dragoons, then the 25e. The dragoons break and the 25e légere fall back with 1 DISR. The invincibility of the Devil's Own is again demonstrated.
The 2/66e, artillery and the 25e fire at the British with success. The 26e and the 3/59e miss. The French adjust their formations and positions as seen below. The 25e légere, French artillery and the 26e ligne all are in line taking aim at the 88th, who have 3 DISR. Will the 88th stand!
turns 16 & 17 (bonus)
The 88th fire at the 25e and they break. The 2/66e loses 1 more DISR.
The French in their first bonus turn fire their canister at the 88th and they finally break!! The 2/66e and the 3/59e cause DISR. The French artillery prolong towards the centre on the British line. French still have not reached their breakpoint, so no morale test.
turns 18 & 19 (bonus)
The 45th and the 5th cause damage to the forward French infantry. The British decide that it is best to attack the the French artillery, if the French keep on getting bonus turns the French advance will succeed. The 74th advance in line and the 94th make a flank move to cover the gap in the British centre. The British are at exactly 33% of their breakpoint, so no morale test.
The French are again successful in their bonus die. Their units fire and all cause DISR to the forward British units.
turn 20
Die toss fails, game over. The French fail to capture Torrecastro, so a British victory but with cost.
Much better game, maybe I should have increased the number of regular turns because of the size of the table as I think the French would have eventually won. I was much more comfortable with the rules this time. They are good!! Mais assez de Torrecastro.


11 December 2009

Lasalle AAR: Capture Torrecastro

This will be my first attempt to try out the new Lasalle ruleset. I am a solo wargamer, and only have been at it for about a year. This is my 4th game, the previous have been with card driven games (Field of Battle and Le Feu Sacre). I am sure many errors will be made, but I really like the look of this rule set so I am going to give it a go.
My basing scheme is generally compatible with Lasalle. Infantry battalions are usually 4-6 bases, 40x20mm in size. The British have an additional 40x40mm command stand (which is not counted as a stand for Lasalle) for each battalion, this was done to increase the width of the line formation for the British versus the French to make up for the difference between a 2 rank and the 3 rank line typical for each army (and I am not going to change it!!). My cavalry units are on 40x40mm bases and vary from 2-6 bases to unit. All very doable, I believe for Lasalle with a 40mm basewidth.

This is the simplest setup possible with 1 Core Unit aside. I got some pointers from the Lasalle Forum. The action is set in the peninsula in 1810 between the British and the French. The order of battle is as follows:
The terrain is set up as follows, it is 6x5ft and relatively simple. Some small forests to the north and south. A ridgeline to the north that should not come into play and the small fortified hill village of Torrecastro to the southwest. The forces start over 20 BW (basewidth) apart. The British start in line with the French infantry in attack column, aside from the French cavalry which are abreast. Both artillery units start the game limbered.
The Narrative
Maréchal Ney has got orders from Major Ducos to advance west toward the village of Torrecastro. He is to take his single division, comprised of foot, horse and cannon and defeat the British forces under Lt Gen Wellington and occupy Torrecastro. He has 2 génerals de brigade, Laviande and Lepoisson with him. Lepoisson is a vigorous leader and assumes command of the veteran infantry units and the artillery. Laviande is an average fellow and is in charge of the conscript infantry units and the 6e Dragoons. I suspect that Maréchal Ney may sent them forward to test the mettle of the British. Fortunately for the British, 2 companies of the 5/60th Royal American Rifles under Captain Frederickson have been just arrived back to Torrecastro to warn Wellington of the French attack. Wellington commands Bde Gen Peaspudding to take command of his 5 infantry battalions, while he takes independent command of the Royal Foot Artillery. Peaspudding, a clever tactician, arranges his infantry into two long thin red lines and assigns the 2 companies of the 5/60th to the 45th and the 74th Foot.

The British view
The French view
Bde Gen Peaspudding's left wing with 45th and 74th Foot and attached skirmishers from the 5/60th. The 94th is in support.
Playing aids and the proof I bought the book!!!
Let the French attack.

The Game
turn 1
French advance to engage the British. The 6e Dragoons change formation to abreast.
turn 2
The British left wing advances into a defensive position and the 88th form into attack column to advance, freeing up the extreme right wing for the RFA to advance.
turn 3
The French conscript battalions on the left advance, but have some problems with maneuvering into a favourable position due to their inexperience. The veterans on the right advance. French cannon move into range.
turn 4
The 88th prepare to interpenetrate the 5th. The RFA move into firing range.
turn 5
The French left and right continue their advance. The divisional battery unlimber (I corrected my setup error and added a cannon base to each artillery unit)
turn 6
The RFA unlimber. The 88th interpenetrates the 5th, who survive their DISC test.
turn 7
The French artillery fire at the 5th and the 74th line battalions without success. The 3/59e contacts the RFA. The 2/59e moves in support. The 6e Dragoons wheel and move in for support.
turn 8
The RFA decide to fire rather than seek refuge with the 5th. 5 hits 2 DISR on the 3/59e!! Further 1 DISR caused in combat and the 3/59e falls back and causes 1 DISR each to the 2/59e and to the 6e Dragoons. The 88th wheels and charges the 3/59e. The RFA prolong to face the the Laviande's conscript bde. The left wing of the the British maintains it's defensive position.
turn 9
The 1/26e falls back through the 2/59e who fail a DISC test and lose 1 DISR. Finally the French cause some damage when the they fire at the 88th and cause 1 DISR. The French artillery fire at the 74th causing 1 DISR and bounce through causes 1 DISR to the 94th Foot. The 6e Dragoons wheel countercharge and contact the 88th. In combat the 6e Dragoons break and are removed from the table.
Lapoisson's bde continues to advance on the French right. Laviande's bde advances, the 1/2 bat 59e ligne contact the 88th. The 3/59e ligne contacts the RFA. Laviande appears to be quite reckless with his conscripts. He keeps the 1/26e ligne in reserve.turn 10
The RFA fires at the 3/59e and they break. The 88th fires at and breaks the 2/59e. The French are now in range of the British line on the left, the British fire their muskets, 1 DISR on the 1/66e. The 88th now engages the 1/59e in combat. The French conscripts are no match for the Connaught Rangers, further DISR are lost and they fall back through the 1/26e. The 88th now form into line.
turn 11
Laviande's conscript bde is in big trouble. The 1/26 fire without success at the 88th. The French cannon continue to fire roundshot at the British infantry, they should have got closer so they could fire canister. The 1/2 bat 66e ligne fire, but their column of attack is not working against the British left flank. They form line. The 1/26e again fail to pass a DISC test and can not form line. In a desperate attempt to support Laviande, Ney orders Lapoisson to send in the 25e legere. The "Pride of France" wheel to the south to support the left arm of the French attack. Recovery throws are unsuccessful. The French pass their Morale test.
turn 12
The 88th, 74th and 45th fire at the French infantry and are successful in causing 1 DISR in each case. The RFA prolong towards the French centre. Recovery throws fail.
turn 13
The 1/26e fail to fall back. The French artillery can not fire as the 25e legere are in the way. The 1/2 bat 66e ligne fire back at the British left flank and cause 2DISR. Amazingly enough in combat the 1/26e defeat the 88th and they fall back. The 25e legere forms into march column to speed their advance south and unblock their cannon. Recovery attempts fail, the French again pass their morale test.
turn 14
The British fire at the French cause some DISR, and at the same time maintain the "thin red line" of defense. The 88th charge the 1/26e and the RFA prolong to face the the oncoming legere unit. The British are successful in recovering some DISR.
turn 15
The French fire their cannon and hit the 5th Foot. The 1/2 bat 66e ligne fire at the 74th and 45th with limited success. The 88th are finally successful and break the 1/26e. The 25e legere advance to the rear of the 88th.
turn 16
The 74th and 45th continue the musket duel with the 66e, with success. The 88th open up and fire at the 1/59e and they break. The 25e take some canister fire from the RFA. Laviande has lost his bde and retires from the field in ignominy.
turn 17 (bonus)
The musket battle continues on the French right with some success. The 25e legere are ready to contact te 88th in the rear once they are able to maneuver.
turn 18
Dice fail, game over. A clear British victory, the French are done.
I am a new wargamer and completely botched the French attack. I should have moved the French cannon much closer so I could have been using canister rather than roundshot in order to get the double dice. Probably I could have been more aggressive with the French Veteran attack and engaged in combat rather than in a musketry match. I shall learn over time, I suppose.

The rules themselves seemed quite good and I did not have any difficulty using them as a solo wargamer. By turn 6, I was starting to get the mechanics down and by turn 10, started to appreciate the differences and advantages of the different grades of units. By the end of the game, I was quickly going through each turn with little reference to the rules. I can say little about their degree of "Napoleonishness" as I am new to the wargaming. What is important to me was that they were easy to understand and apply. As you can see from above, the game is quite fast paced . The only comparison I can make is with Field of Battle which I have played 3 times now. Both games are easy to play, it was nice that I could plan ahead with a specific strategy in Lasalle, unlike FoB which can be unpredictable, but exciting.

I am off for the next several days, so I think I will run through the same scenario again quickly, just to get the rules down. I suspect that I will be able to do it solo in an afternoon.

05 December 2009

The 25e Légère: Foundry Figures

The 25e légère is the second light infantry regiment in the French Army of Portugal's 6th Corps, the first being the 6e. For this unit, I decided to go with Foundry figures. I had not painted Foundry figures as a unit for a couple of years, a regiment deal came up, so I bought some. The figures themselves are very nice, well detailed with only some flash. I like the march pose, and they go together as a unit nicely. I would have no reluctance to buy them again. Foundry figures are certainly a little shorter than Front Rank, Victrix and Perry, but are fine in the same army, I would definitely avoid putting them on the same base and probably the same unit.
This is a biggest unit in the Fuentes OB, numbering 1870 all ranks on the field those 3 days in May 1811. I added a couple of extra stands to my usual 12 for a French 3 battalion regiment, making 14 stands in total.
So that was all good, but I did run into some problems. Like I said, I bought a regiment deal, and they all came in one box, loosely packed unlike their usual blister. Easily 1/3 of the bayonets were broken off and at least half the long plumes were broken off the elites. The bayonets did not bother me too much, but the plumes were difficult to glue back on and although you can not see it in the photos there are some lumps of glue on top of the shakos.
Second problem was the priming stage, I completely screwed this up. I usually use an automotive white primer that goes on very thin, but at the same time covers well. This time without realizing it I use Rustoleum white primer, which went on thick, like great lumps of s...! I then made a really stupid mistake and tried to rinse it off with water, what I ended up with was these scrofulous looking blisters on one stick of figures. What a nightmare, but I soldiered on. I used my usually thin wash technique with a brighter blue than the ligne. And I think the figures as a group ended up looking ok.

Well that completes the 2nd division in the 6th corps, I will post some photos soon of the complete division. I am also finishing the 1st division with only 30 more figures left to go. Hard to believe, I have my first full corps almost done.

02 December 2009

La Haye Sainte

There was a short discussion about La Haye Sainte on TMP a couple of days ago, this reminded me that I bought the Airfix 1:72 scale farmhouse for La Haye Sainte several months ago. Initially when opening the box, I was not too impressed as it seemed quite small and flimsy. But after the discussion, I thought maybe I should take another look.

Most of us know it to be impossible to model buildings to scale in 28mm wargaming. The building would be gigantic and would easily take up most of our terrains. Clearly for 28mm wargaming, buildings have to have a small footprint and an exaggerated vertical scale. I use Field of Battle rules and the ground scale is 1" to 25 yds. In respect to these rules, a town section is 6x6" and 1 battalion of infantry is allowed in each town square. I generally try to adhere to this and knowing that during the Battle of Waterloo, La Haye Sainte was garrisoned by a single battalion of KGL infantry I was faced with a challenge. Scale in wargaming is all about fudging the numbers, so I felt it was not unreasonable to have a go. I set up the Airfix model and found that I could fit it with some adjustment on a 13x9" terrain piece. This was not too bad as the buildings on their own take up about 60% of the square footage. I can accept that.

The building was easy to assemble, I modified the wall to right of the building by shortening by about 3" it so it would fit the base. I primed it white and painted it with GW washes and a GW foundation paint for the roof. The plastic wall have a brick pattern imprinted on them, and as you can see from this photo the wall were actually stuccoed, so I took some dry wall compound and stuccoed the walls. The result is below. I believe it came out OK, although it would be nice if the vertical scale was exaggerated. Of note, Total Battle Miniatures is planning to come out with a range of buildings that indeed reduce the footprint but preserve the height.

Now all I need is a scenario to wargame this aspect of the Battle of Waterloo. Maybe I will base it on this excellent resource.


28 November 2009

Escape to Valdelacasa: Action Report for FoB

I received the Black Powder rulebook the other day, it is quite nice and has a nice peninsular scenario. It always puzzles me that battalion level rulesets (each side having no more than a corps with the basic maneuver element a battalion) appear to be the most popular, but at the same time there are few scenario books out there for this level of action. Especially lacking are scenarios for the peninsula.

The Perry brothers designed this scenario for the book. They say it has parallels in the
Battle of Corunna, which made it immediately attractive to me. They have played it out on a 12x6 foot table, mine is 12x5 so I think I will be ok.

I need a break from painting, so I think I will play a game, also need to use my terrain as well. I will use Field of Battle rules. The movement distance is much smaller in FoB than in the BP rules, but I suspect I will be ok.

The basic scenario involves a small British force being pursued by a larger French force. To win the game the British force has to get over the bridge to the village of Valdelacasa. The larger French force starts the game in the town of Valdeverja. A single French battalion is garrisoned just south of the bridge to Valdelacasa. If the British can get 60% their units over the bridge in a four moves then they will win the game.

For the fun of it, I changed the fictional town names to real places, so although the battle is fictional, the locale will be real. The places and river exist in the Salamanca province of Spain. I suspect some of you will recognise the village of Valdelacasa, as it is the place of the first battle in Sharpe's Eagle. I do not think I will have Lt. Colonel Sir Henry Simmerson to lead the British though, as they would never have a chance to win.
from google maps
I had most of the figures required for the scenario so had to make few substitutions. I use the random generator on the FoB Yahoo group site to assign combat and defense values to each unit.

Order of Battle
Here is the British Order of Battle, these units all served in the Peninsular wars, mostly in the Light and Third divisions. I will make Wellington CinC.
Here is the French OB, most of these units were in the French Army of Portugal; 6th corps, aside from the Guard Lancers, I need to paint more cavalry. I will make Marshall Ney the French CinC.
The Terrain
Fortunately, I had terrain pieces already made that would work for the scenario. I made Valdeverja a walled town with stones walls to the south. It is a large garrison town for the French Army of Portugal. All units can move freely within footprint of the town and out of the town without movement penalties. As you will note the town is in 2 levels with the French infantry brigades in the upper level. The Anglo-British army is coming from the east along a ridge. The ridge is accessible from the extreme north and along it's western edge at one point only. No movement penalties are associated with the 2 access points. There is a large walled farm north of the river, which can hold a maximum of 2 infantry battalions. The river is uncrossable, except at the bridge. The forests are all impregnable. They act to obscure the eastern ridge so they block artillery and small arms fire in both directions. I elaborate on terrain planning here.

Looking south from the town of Valdeverja. Note the northern access point to the ridge. The French can choose to attack the British from behind.
Five French brigades, 3 infantry, 1 cavalry and 1 artillery; all in column of march.
Marshall Ney.
General Wellesey.
Four British brigades, 3 infantry and 1 cavalry; all in column of march.
The village of Valdelacasa far to the south with the walled farm in the foreground.
The bridge over the river with the 26e ligne in defense.
The French position looking north to Valdeverja.
Close up of the 3rd British brigade.
Looking to the east at the British Army showing the access point.
Looking north.
The British have the first move in this scenario. Now all is left to do is to decide the tactics for each side and start the game.
FoB specific information
All terrain is class I, the forests, the river and the ridge line are all impassable, except at the grassed slopes of the ridge and the bridge which are class I terrain.
The walled farm is 2 town sections, thus can hold 2 battalions.
The town of Valdeverja is a terrain feature not a town in the sense of FoB.
There are no skirmish units.
The forests along the ridge line block line of sight.
The stone walls are hard cover (Class III) in the town and farm area.
The game ends in 4 moves, Army Morale Card failure, or when the British get 60% (12 units) over the bridge to Valelacasa.

Action Report
Turn 1
Die thrown:7IP, British up first per scenario.
British Cards: Lu,TA,Lu,AF,Lu,AF,IF; Well that is a pretty boring start.
French Cards: IF,Mo,L,TA,Mo,L,AM,Ma; Well some movement anyway.

Die thrown:4IP, French up.
French Cards: Me,IF,L,AF; no change
British Cards: IF,Mo,IF,L; The British start their advance.

Die thrown:9v9, Turn ends prematurely.

Positions at end of turn 1.
Turn 2
Took a little longer than I thought to complete Turn 2. Work has really got in the way of having fun, but one good thing about solo wargaming is that you can pick it up whenever it is convenient. I do shift work and have to work every second weekend, so it is hard to organise something with other gamers. Turn 2 was also held up because of debate that arose in my mind over the ability of an infantry unit to test to form opportunity square when being attacked by cavalry. I polled the FoB Yahoo group, after some discussion decide against it.

Well it was quite an exciting round, a lot can happen in a single turn in a game where the the moves are decided my card generation.

Should have been in square....
The first action involves the cavalry brigades of each side. The British Light Dragoons and the KGL Hussars engage the 26e ligne in the rear, they lose 2 UI points and fall back, the Light Dragoons go out of command and pursue. A number of separate cavalry actions ensue and the French get mauled, the 6e Dragoons, 3e Hussars, 15e Chasseurs as well as the HA get destroyed by the British cavalry, the RHA and forward elements of the 3rd Infantry Brigade. The Polish Guard Lancers are routed by the 74th. The only Anglo-Portuguese loss is the rout of the 9th Portuguese Line Infantry.The British Infantry Bdes are almost off the ridge. The artillery element of the Light Bde fires down on the 1e infantry Bde moving in column along the road, the 2/69e ligne loses 2 UI.

Things are looking good for the British; they have decimated the French cavalry Bde, the sole French unit protecting the bridge, the 26e ligne is being engaged by the KGL Hussars and can not even get into square. The other units of the cavalry bde have turned north to face the oncoming French Infantry and the forward British infantry bde is already at the farm. Looks like the game is over before it has even gone 2 turns.

Marshall Ney then makes a daring move. He commands his Artillery Bde to move within 300 yds of the British infantry columns and form into a Grand Battery. He has no infantry support, a very risky move. The French guns unleash a devastating volley at the flank of British 2nd infantry bde. They are destroyed with the only surviving battalion, the 1/5th Regiment of Foot in rout. On one card and some superb dice, he has destroyed 20% of the British forces.
The French infantry start to form into their dreaded attack columns. Finally, if that is not enough, the last card of the turn is a Leadership card and the French brigade commanders are able to rally a silenced artillery battery and the Polish Guard Lancers, who immediately about face and make ready to charge elements of the 3rd British infantry brigade!!!
I believe Marshall Ney is pleased with himself, but those cannon are quite exposed....
Positions at the end of turn 2. Both sides have lost 19 Army Morale points.
3rd Turn
The third turn started with the French starting to rally and move forward. Unfortunately this turn for the British was characterised by extremely poor leadership and poor dice throws; a lethal combination so it appears in FoB. The British consequently could just never cease the initiative.
The French Grand Battery of 32 cannon was lethal and their artillery commander was clever enough to place his howitzer behind the grand battery so there was a continuous lob of shrapnel on the columns of British has they came down the ridge.
Marshall Ney instructed his generals de brigade to form into the dreaded columns of attack. They engage the British 2nd and light brigades in their flanks causing considerable loss. The British just can not get a maneuver card or throw an even dice, they get stuck in march formation. The 2/52nd, 1/43rd and the 1/95th all get routed off the table, clearly their D10 commander was not Black Bob Crauford.
The French cavalry general despite losing 2/3 of his men was able to repeatedly rally his Polish Guard Lancers from rout. The 16th Light Dragoons are routed and the 4th Portuguese Dragoons are routed and destroyed. The British 3rd Brigade manages to make it to the bridge, 2/88th engages the 26e ligne with some success. The 74th and the 9th Portuguese follow closely, the 94th somehow or another get out of square and start to advance to the bridge. Even the 5th, the sole surviving battalion of the 2nd Brigade is rallied from rout and rapidly moves toward Valelacasa. The British and Portuguese foot artillery batteries limber up and start to move slowly forward.
The excellent leadership quality of the French infantry commanders reveals itself when a series of 3 Leadership cards are drawn and they are able to rally multiple UI points for their units, even the weak colonel (D10) of the 26e ligne is able to rally his troops from rout on a D4vsD8 throw!!
The turn nears it's end, the British have lost 7 of their 20 units, one more and the game is over. The Light Dragoons are in rout and only the 2/88th is over the bridge. The turn ends.
Should I end the game, the situation appears hopeless, the British have been at zero AMP for what seems like forever. Lets throw the dice, maybe they will finally gain the initiative and throw some good dice. D12vsD12. Game over. C'est la vie.
The final position.
I really liked this scenario. It was fun to play and it did seesaw back and forth. It really made me appreciate the Field of Battle ruleset as a solo wargamer, it was impossible to favour one side over the other. If I was going to change something, I would have not used the random generator for FoB to get the Leadership ratings. The British had quite bad Leadership die with 2xD12, 2xD10 and 1 D8. The French had 5 D12 out of 7, I think it made a difference. I will definitely play this scenario again.