Sunday, 15 February 2015

Meanwhile, in Acre... or a whiff of Valentine's Day

Ah, Napoleonics! My ultimate favourite gaming period! At the Hamilton Road Gaming Group, we got together on Saturday to play a Napoleonic game using Shako II rules by Arty Conliffe. I enjoy these games and I'm a little torn between Shako and Black Powder for the period. However using Black Powder exclusively would require rebasing. Well, that alone makes the decision!!

Our game was a little different. Martin has Marshal Lefebvre's corps based for Shako... since that's Martin's family name as well. My wife, Beth, can field Eugene's Italians with some Rheinbund auxiliaries. Andy is working on a batch of French. Me? Well, I can pick from Austrians (my favourite), Swedes, and British. I have American who can double as either Belgians or Portuguese in a pinch. I'm working on French, Prussians, and Russians, but none of those can stand alone yet.
And I have Ottoman Turks... lots of 'em... which met the French/Italians on the table Saturday.

Beth, Martin, and Brian ran the Franco-Italian army while the Grand Vizir Andy, Bear Pasha, and myself fielded the Turks. Andy and I decided early on that our strategy would be simple and un-subtle: We'd charge everything, hell-bent-for-leather - a proper Ottoman strategy, I felt. We fielded 4 massive divisions (as per the Ottoman indosyncratic rule in Shako II) while the Franco-Italian Imperials had about 8+ divisions. In Shako II, each "division" rolls for initiative and then moves and accoding to it's initiative number.
The game was fun. The table was pretty flat and had no forests and just a few hills with two village areas. Since this was supposed to be Syria or somewhere there-abouts, this seemed right.

A brigade of my wife's Italians (NOT Neapolitans - perish the thought!)
She's done the bulk of the painting of these guys herself. I count myself lucky.
This is how SHE wanted to spend Valentine's day!

Turkish cavalry - Djellis, provincial Sipihis, and Mamluks (the four units closest to the camera)
Minifigs, Essex, and Old Glory, mixed together in some units.
The ground cloth was actually a sandy tan although it doesn't show up that way in the photos

The centre of the Franco-Italian expeditionary force with Italian cavalry (Gendarmes, dragoons, Gendarmes d'elite and cacciatori a cavallo/light horse) plus Italian and French infantry.

My division's infantry and cavalry.
Greek Martalos skirmishers followed by Nizam-i-Cedit regulars (with bayonets no less!)
Provincial Sipihis with Yoruks and Djellis beyond. 
Vizir Andy and I ran our cavalry forward, all fast and furious. Bear Pasha demonstrated toward the small settlement which was held by Brian and a brigade of dismounted dragoons. Artillery on both sides first jockeyed for position then pounded the other side. Andy had two heavy gun and I had two medium foot guns, so we formed a grand battery of sorts atop the hill that lay between our divisions. I also had a "reserve" on the far left flank made up of Mamluks, Djellis, and provincial Sipihis. I didn't use these guys as a reserve but galloped toward Beth's one Italian brigade which promptly formed squares. Stupidly, I charged them anyway with the Mamluks and lost two regiments with a third thrown back. It seemed the Ottoman thing to do.

Italian Gardes d'Honour

Here they come! A rather energetic photo of the charge of the Sipihis.

Mamluks and Djellis

Prince Eugene watches the ebb and flow of the battle. With so much cavalry, it was fast moving.
The skirmishers in front of him evaded the cavalry charge of some scumy Yoruks who came apart quickly before Italian regulars.

A different angle of the same situation.
My cavalry splashed against Beth's and Martin's infantry and either vaporized or fell back for the most part. It was different for Andy. His Shillitar horse guards - armoured lancers with guard morale - charged two French cuirassier regiments and threw them back. Andy also had some better quality "Sipihis of the Porte", so his cavalry made a great hole in the Allied line between Martin and Brian. Some of Bear's cavalry performed equally well, throwing back the Polish Lancers of the Guard. There's a medal or a unit citation in there for someone!

As the Melee continues, the Italian Gardes d'Honour turn the flank of some sipihis to turn them into cottage cheese.

Meanwhile my "Reserve" column of Djellis and provincial sipihis has turned the corner and hit a horse battery in the flank. More cottage cheese ensued.
A view of Vizir Andy cavalry after they had sent the cuirassiers packing. On the left, Shillitars in the lead, two regiments of Mamluks, and another Shillitar outfit. Their facing Westphalian Hussars who's breeches need changing.
On the right, Yoruks, Sipihis of the Porte, and Djillis facing the Poles and some French Hussars.
The red chips signify that the cavalry is "blown" and needs to be recalled to reorganize.
Fighting "blown" is a disadvantage.

Brian's dismounted dragoons hold the village while Vizir Andy's and Bear Pasha's cavalry swirl around them.
The house are Flames of War buildings from Martin's collection.
The red/white/black stick is musketry measuring stick. Shako II is delightfully "old school" in some ways.

Behind Greek skrimishers, the Nizam-i-Cedit and some provincial Sekhans shake out into line. We had to call the game because of a time crunch before they got into action.
Sekhans were infantry of the private armies of the local governors or Pashas. Some were as good as European regular troops, some were sadistic bandits, some were worthless. They were quite often better than the Janissaries.
When the time bell rang (as it were; we don't really have a time bell. Beth had to get home since she is the stage manager of a local theatre production. The weather was iffy and "white-outs" were possible, so we had to watch our time.), Kevin who was watching and was an "uninterested" party gave the game to the Franco-Italians. My "reserve" division was broken but Andy and Bear had slapped around Martin's cavalry and had driven deep into the Franco-Italian line. Another turn or two, the Ottoman infantry would've come into play. The Turks outnumbered the Franco-Italians, but the opposite was true when it came to quality. Most of the Turk infantry and about half of the cavalry was second rate at best. Had we had time for another turn or two, things might have been different. But Kevin rightly declared it a marginal victory for Napoleon and company, from the way things stood at the time of cerfew.

It felt SO good to put Napoleonics on the table again. I didn't expect the Ottomans to win but they can make the enemy sweat and they're colourful as all get out. I think I can put together more British for a Penninsular campaign game or maybe a 100 Days game. I'd like to get the Austrians out of their boxes as well. This is still my favourite gaming period. As usual, we had some "I-don't-remember-the-rules-because-we-play-them-so-rarely" problems but nothing we couldn't iron out. 
Trouble is... I want to play Napoleonics again! And soon!

Where my charge met the Italian troops in column and where the Gardes d'Honour flanked and destroyed some of my cavalry.

The right hand colum of my "reserve" after facing the horse gun but before they foolishly threw themselves at Italian dragoons and Gendarmes d'elite. Mostly Djellis and provincial Sipihis.

Beth's Italian infantry - both line and light - advancing. She chose them because they're colourful and of as good a quality as almost any other country. They're as good as the French in the main. The Italian Guard is rated "elite" rather than "guard" but that's not shabby. Their cavalry is few in number but as good as most of the French horse. Italian infantry and artillery is as good as the French line.

See those cavalry on the hill in the centre of the photo? That's all that's left of my right hand reserve column.
Actually they're all destroyed; what you see there are Italian dragoons and Gendarmes d'elite. Quality will tell.
Beth's infantry brigade remains in square while my regulars and provincials move into lines.
The Turkish "grand battery" is on the hill in the middle ground.

Martin, Brian, Kevin, Bear, and Andy look the field over as Kevin makes his opinion/judgement on the thing.

The cavalry battle got more and more confusing... and more and more fun!

The last of my Mamluks keep a wary eye on the Italian squares. My attack orders lean on the division commander's stand off to the right.

When ever the Italian troops are fielded, Beth adds Dr. Lurray's Flying Ambulance. She's really likes the model and the person it's based on. Since she was once a petty officer in the US Navy hospital corps, it seems appropriate. So she has the Baron, the ambulance, and a stretcher team. We call such colourful stuff "table clutter" since it has no bearing on the game itself, but looks good.

The plan for next week is a "Swap Meet" and some board games. Beth and I will bring things like Carcassone, Ticket to Ride, and Cheating Moth. I also heard Guillotine mentioned. We'll see what games come in and what goodies come to be swapped.


  1. It states in the Black Powder rulebook that basing isn't a problem as long as its consistent for both sides.

    1. Sorry, Kevin; I wasn't clear. I'd want to use larger units for Black Powder. I think 9 to 12 would be too small. I suppose I could simply strap a few regiments together and make larger units, like 18 or 24, although Austrian regiments would be more like 36 more or less. I guess it could work.

  2. Cool looking game John, I like playing with the Turks a s well, you may not always win but it makes for a real fun game. We used to play them a lot for the 7YW, sometimes they really kicked butt, the Grand Viselreal Bodyguard were leathel, IF you could get them in unmolested, Armored, Lance and Guard class = Dead Austrians!

    1. Thanks, Ray. I must agree that using the Turks makes for a wild'n'wooly and fun game. Andy used the Suvaleri guard just like you recommended with the Grand Vizer's bodyguard. Any unit that can beat French Cuirassier at their own game are worth having!

  3. Looks like a good time, John! I love the huge, swirling mass of Napoleonic battles. Like you, I am struggling with what rules set to use. I have Shako II but have not yet played it - lately I have been using Black Powder for everything. Please post more! Meanwhile, I'll read Shako II again! :)

    1. Glad you liked it, Steven. I like Shako II because of the scope and wide view it gives. I think I like Black Powder because it has a look to it - large units giving you the feeling of depth and power. I won't give up Shako, but I may play BP using multiple units strapped together. if I have my way, we'll be playing more Napoleonics!

    2. Shako "the First" has a great old school rules feeling to it so I'm anxious to try out Shako II. I am looking forward to seeing more Napoleonics on your blog!