Sunday, 9 October 2016

Returning to my roots and to the blog

I haven't blogged much recently. A number of things got in the way, only some of which were beyond my control. In any event, I'm taking the time to do this again.

Monday is a holiday in Canada -- Thanksgiving. It's earlier than US Thanksgiving and it based more on the time of the harvest rather than a specific historical event (which maybe a bit mythological anyway.) Yesterday, the crowd at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group gave in to my desire to play a game of Napoleonics. (It's my favourite period of wargaming.)  We used Artie Conliffe's Shako rules. Beth and I supplied most of the figures with Martin adding his ever growing number of units to the mix. (He hinted that he had been painting in the car on the way over. I'm glad he wasn't driving.) I set the scenario to be a variation on the 1811 Battle of Albuera in the Penninsular War. Beth, Martin, and Rich commanded the French and Allies while Ralph, Matt (replaced late in the day by Derek) and I ran the British and their allies. Beth as over-all commander and was in charge of a division of the Italian army and a division of combined cavalry. Rich had a division of French and Martin had a division of the French Imperial Guard as well as a division of German Allies, who were a little bit substandard. Matt commanded a division of British and a division of Portuguese troops. Ralph had a division of  British and one of Spaniards. I was over-all commander and commanded the cavalry reserve. Andy watched and did colour commentary and Brian did the same. Derek pinch-hit for Matt when he had to leave. Bear watched when his game broke up and added to the general fun. (Photos courtesy of Rich, Martin, and my own phone/camera.)

Albuera was a disaster for the British, who had a entire brigade ridden down by French/Polish cavalry, although the Spanish infantry showed surprising tenacity. In the end, the French withdrew but the British, Spanish, and Portuguese under Beresford were badly hurt. I based my map and my OBs on that battle.

General starting dispositions for both sides.

The British-Allied view from the ridge toward the town.

The right flank - I added the wooded area on both sides of the field.

Ralph, myself, and Matt look the table over while Andy busies himself with something or other.

Beth and Rich survey the field. Martin's taking the picture.
Shako uses a unique (to me anyway) system of initiative. Each division rolls a d6 and the highest number goes first. It's quite possible that the initiative for movement can flow back and forth from side to side. For instance, my cavalry reserve never rolled higher than a 2. Also all changes of order take effect once the courier figure reaches the division commander and aides de camp/couriers can be killed or delayed. One bit the dust on the French side. However, for the life of me, I cannot remember the sequence of initiative as it appeared on the table. In any event, the Germans held fast, simply moving up to the edge of the woods. Rich's French division was very aggressive, requiring me (as C-in-C) to send a change of orders from "defend" to "attack" to Matt. Ralph's British watched the Germans while his Spanish and Matt's Portuguese held the ridge. (The Portuguese were as good as the British, but the two cavalry regiments there were second-rate. The Spanish were all second-rate.) Beth's Italian infantry advanced over the fordable stream while the cavalry shook itself out for a later advance. Martin's Guard infantry stayed in the town; we learnt later that they were on a timed order, not to move until turn #3.

Ralph's elite Highlanders were holding the edge of the ridge, just to the right of the Spanish.
(The part of the Spanish infantry was played by War of 1812 American regiments in colours other than blue.)

Germans! Bavarians, men from Lippe, Reuss-Waldeck, and other fly-speck duchies of the Rheinbund/Confederation of the Rhine. 

Martin's Guard infantry barrels into the town.
The tree nearest to the camera is an ANCIENT Martian Metals model of an Ent.

The Italian Division taking a lunch break. Panini di pesce di tonno per tutti!

The combined cavalry stretches it's legs - French, Italian, Saxon, and Polish

The Spanish line on the ridge backed by the British cavalry division
- 2 light dragoon regiments and 3 heavy dragoon regiments.
Sorry about the focus problems.

The road to Lisbon via Badajoz is watched by a singular Portuguese battalion.
Matt's British and Rich's French got into hand-to-hand quickly and it was a bloody business. The Portuguese light dragoons (2nd rate remember) charged and lost one regiment, but stopped the progress of that portion of the French advance. Martin's Germans just sat there, doing exactly what they were ordered to do! Ralph's British watched them, while his Spanish sustained casualties from the French cannon and later the Italian infantry. When the cavalry advanced, some of the battalions formed square and suffered for it from cannon fire. The bulk of Beth's cavalry came up the hill and slaughtered a good bit of the Spanish infantry. My cavalry reserve rolled forward and lost a light dragoon regiment. The rest of the division halted the advance of Beth's cavalry, one regiment in line being hit by 2 cuirassier regiments and a lancer regiment, all in column. Amazingly, the British dragoons won, formation and dumb luck being the deciding factors.
Martin's Guard formations rolled out of the town and hit the Portuguese on the road, routing them. With more of Beth's cavalry coming up, it was time to pack it in.

The only "real Spanish" regiment on the table - Regiment Ultonia.

The Rheinbund division advances on it's mission to feint the British.

Rich and Matt mix it up. Both sides hung tough and neither would give up.
The red bingo chips indicate the unit is "staggered", a state that has negative effects on the unit's fighting ability.
White curtain rings indicate a casualty. In Shako, a unit can take as many casualties as it's Morale Rating.
(Guard - 6, elite - 5, regulars - 4, second-rate - 3, unreliable - 2)
Toward the end of the game, the Spanish division failed division morale and all units were reduced in Morale rating by 1,
so they all became "unreliable."

Italian Gendarmes d'elite attack a Spanish regiment.
Italian dragoons and French hussars move up behind.

Saxon cuirassiers take apart a Spanish artillery battery.

Moving so fast they're blurred, the British light dragoons move to block any breakthroughs.
The cavalry division's advance had to slide to the left because of the "rough terrain" in front of them, impassible to cavalry.
Horse batteries are moving through the town.

The British C-in-C with his couriers stand between the Portuguese and Spanish divisions.
That's my wife across the way.

A German view-point of the Bavarians and the Reuss-Waldeck battalion as they trudge through the woods.

A Sky-Cam view of the tussle between Matt's British and Rich's French.

Derek's now in command.
In the end, we decided that the British-Iberian allies lost the game. They could not stop the Imperial French and their partners from breaking through. For my part, it really felt good to play Napoleonics again. I'll have to schedule more games using Shako, but next time, I bring out the Austrians!

Although I wasn't blogging, I wasn't sleeping either. Saw this out of our back door on evening.

An early Reformation Day commemoration held in London, ON. Our bishop was included
and Pastor Mike gave him "rabbit ears."

The British Secret Weapon. Ralph said he's only to be used for 'small arms fire."

The T-Rex must have been orphaned. We found him on the floor of the room we play in.
During the week, it serves as a nursery school.
An Italian medium gun

Beth always includes Dr. Larrey's Ambulance when she takes the field.
In the US Navy, she served in the hospital corps as a medic.


  1. Wonderful stuff. I'm delighted to see you back at the gaming table. Happy thanksgiving!

  2. I know how you feel. The last six weeks have been taxing for me as well. Glad to see your table top exploits in print again!

    1. Thanks for the support! I get a +1 on morale for that!

  3. Excellent display, "painting in the car on the way over" brilliant!!!