Sunday, 18 August 2013

Birthdays and Shako

Saturday was my son's 19th Birthday and his buddies took him out for his first drink. He stayed at a friend's house safely and I'm waiting to hear how the evening went. It was also Martin's birthday. So of course we played Shako and had pie at lunch. Martin, francophone and francophile to the core, ran the French (including his freshly-painted dismounted dragoons.) Beth handled her Italians, and I ran the Rhinebund troops. Andy captained the Swedes, Rob the British, and Tyler the Austrians. I envisioned a sort of "Battle of Nations" scenario, but I didn't have enough Prussians and Russians painted to do the job, so the British joined in. The game might've been a touch too big for the table and we did have a curfew (Rob had to work, Andy had a soccer game to go to and Tyler had to pick up his son), but it went fine. 

Rob and Tyler - both looking rather poleaxed - prepare for play.

Tyler studiously studies the rules or the play sheet.

We found rules for the Congreve rocket on line and Rob wanted to try them. Well... let's just say they made a nice display but were rather ineffective.

French and Italian troops contest the town with the Tyler's Austrians - Whitecoats and Grenzers.
Each player rolls for his/her initiative at the beginning of each turn and I can't remember what order things started out with. The Coalition forces appeared to wish to hold and keep the ridge line just behind the town while contesting the town. The Imperial/Allies set up a "grand battery" and a separate cavalry division in the hope of breaking the line on the ridge somewhere between the British and Swedish forces. So we all advanced.
The order of action is unusual in Shako. Artillery fire precedes movement and small arms fire and melee follow movement. Troops take casualties from fire or melee, but can also be "staggered" or hesitant in their actions because of fire. A charging infantry unit might hesitate and not charge home. The number of hits each unit can take is a function of their morale class (Guard - 6, elites - 5, regulars or "normal" humans -4, second-rate units - 3, unreliable units -2... Cossacks, Spanish Cavalry, or Neapolitan infantry are examples of unreliable types.) It seemed that no one could roll a "6" except for initiative, so artillery fire, skirmish fire, and volley's were less than effective. (Might we say that the weather wasn't quite right? Too wet and humid? Yeah! That's the ticket!) I ended up exchanging skirmisher fire with Andy who wisely kept his Swedes on the backside of the ridge, out of my line of fire. I was supposed to hold the flank and demonstrate as it were. Rob also kept his Brits behind the crest of the hill, but his Rifles came out to play, skirmishing by the stream. Tyler sent his two cavalry regiments - Austrian dragoons and hussars - on a left-hook cavalry run while sending Hungarian battalions, Jägers, and Grenzers into the town. Beth and Martin hit the town in force with Italian line infantry and French dismounted dragoons. The town was to be a bloody and long-contested pile of stone.

Italian columns - so fast moving they're blurred - assault the town sectors.

An earlier  photo - the Italians enter the town.

A better view of the exploding town melee.
The much-heralded dismounted dragoons supported by French line troops in column.
Martin noted that most towns are black-holes that swallow troops in wargames and we all agreed that was true in just about every period of gaming and every scale. It was true here. The Austrians lost a Jäger battalion and the Italians lost a line battalion. A battalion of Hungarians battled back and forth for a while and finally were relieved by the Black Watch who roared into the town at curfew.
On the Imperial/Allied left I skirmished with Andy's Swedes and brought up two Westphalian line battalions who formed line and exchanged volleys with the Swedish infantry. The grand battery blocked the way for the cavalry but when they came loose, a regiment of French dragoons (mounted this time) hit a regiment of Swedish Hussars and promptly evaporated them. They went on in a breakthrough to hit a British foot battalion, who were caught forming square and the foot troops melted away as well.
After this, Andy left for his son's soccer game, Rob left with Tyler and his son who agreed to take Rob to work. Rob got together with his buddies for a drink after his shift... and the photo is below.
Now more combat photography - by Andy, Martin, Beth, and even myself.

A side view of the blood-soaked streets of the nameless town.

Swedish light cavalry (North Skanska Carabiniers), a foot battery and their skirmishers
(from the line and the green-coated Warmland field Jägers - rifle-armed!)

Hoch-und-Deutschmeiser holds the ridge!

Rob's British line clamours forward.
British line, foot gun, with the Rifles skirmishing in front.
Swedes in the forest, including the Warmland Field Jägers.
Rhinebund and Bavarian skirmishers and two Westphalians line battalions in column.
The Imperial/Allied cavalry is bottled up by the grand battery. I could say I did not receive full deployment information... and I will!

My view of the advancing Rhinebund and Westphalian troops. 3 battalions of Bavarians and one of a small Saxon stater were coming up in support to the right.

The Bavarians and Saxons begin their movement to the left. The cavalry comes up and the guns (with any luck) make the Coalition forces sweat.

Italians, French, and Hungarians continue to contest the town under the watchful eye of the Archduke Charles!

The British light dragoons prepare for their fateful charge. They chased off the Italian skirmish line and menaced the Italian and French high command causing them to run. We had to make up "house rules" to cover the high command being disrupted by such noisy house guests!

The Coalition view of the town - Hungarians, Tyroleans, Croatians, all mixing it up in the town.
Pooka slept in the window chair during the whole battle, offering invaluable advise to Andy.
Andy caught his apathy/nonchalance/indifference in this great photo.
Later, Rob hit the Roadhouse with his mates for his first legal drink on his 19th. His sister took this photo.
I still think this looks like a meeting of the local Mob.
Happy Birthday, Son!
Photo: Fort Erie... soon... very soon.


  1. It's always a good day when I get to roll dice, but it's a great day when I get to roll dice with you all.

    1. Also, sorry for some of the blurry pics. I'm still getting used to my camera and had it stuck on macro. (hit's forehead)

    2. No problem on my end! Always glad to have you!