Monday, 28 November 2016

Napoleonics Are Still My Favourite People

Without a doubt, the "Napoleonic Period" is my favourite gaming era. The colour, the tactics, the different systems... all appeal to me. I mean, just look at my face... if you can bear it. So at the Hamilton Road Gaming Group this past Saturday, I set up a Napoleonic scenario, using a Franco-Italian Army fighting the Austrian Empire. We used Arty Conliffe's Shako II rules.

I really like my Austrians.
Beth really likes her Italians.
Martin really likes his French.
Bear, Derek, and Matt really like playing the game.
Andy was present for the beginning but went home early, feeling unwell.
(Photos courtesy of Martin, Beth, and myself.)

Here's a look at the board at the beginning of the game: 

Looking "north" -  the small enclosure counted as an orchard.

Looking "south" - the stream was only fordable at the marked fords.
The sides at the kick-off. That's a foul, reeking swamp at the far right. I should've found a Shreck figure to put there.
The Franco-Italians (Martin as C-in-C, Beth, and Matt) were to capture the road in the middle of the table as a way of moving off the board toward the cities beyond. The Austrians (Bear, Derek, and myself) were tasked with throwing the Allied side back to the river line.

Martin and Matt had two infantry "divisions/brigades" each and Beth commanded four small brigades of cavalry. Derek and I had two infantry divisions each, one of his being all grenadiers, while Bear commanded two divisions of cavalry, one heavy and one light. The Franco-Italians decided to brigade all their artillery into one grand battery for which they received an extra general officer as artillery commander. (Each infantry brigade had a "foot battery" and the commanding general had a heavy foot battery to place at his discretion. The cavalry divisions each had a lighter horse battery.)

The Franco-Italians moved forward quickly. I had written orders for Bear's cavalry and Derek's reserve grenadiers to hold for turn #1 and move on turn #2. Beth's cavalry immediately went forward toward one of my infantry divisions, the one to the right of the forest in the photo above. What happened was not pleasant for me.

Beth's cavalry revving their engines.

Bear's cavalry and my left-hand Division - the infantry are all in Battalionmasse formation.

Matt's divisions and Martin's nearer to the camera.

Derek's tough Austrian and Hungarian grenadiers.

The cavalry is coming. I'm in column at this time.

The cavalry come closer and the Austrians are now in Battalionmasse.
Battalionmasse isn't as good as square, but it can shoot (which columns cannot in Shako)
and it can move - slowly. The three units up front attempted to form square in the face of the cavalry.
Only the far right battalion was able to. The other three were caught in Battalionmasse
and my garbage-y dice rolling did the rest.
Beth gleefully annihilated the entire division except for the skirmishing j├Ąger who ran away.
While Beth was chopping up my infantry into schnitzel, Martin and Derek were duking it out along the road in the centre of the field. Matt and Derek were also fighting hard. To Derek's credit, his grenadiers were out-numbered 2-to-1, but were holding their own against those odds. Bear maneuvered his light cavalry division to attack the grand battery, which evaded but was eventually caught by the hussars and slaughtered. (Way to go! Hoch Bear!) His heavies were taking shots from Beth horse artillery and were pushed back a bit although they recovered. (In Shako II, cuirassiers - or in may case, kurassiers - have the same morale as Guard troops. The morale rating is also a reflection of the fighting quality of a unit in this game.) As they recovered, they began to turn to face the threat of Beth's winded cavalry.

Here, Martin's lead division begins to encounter Derek's right-hand infantry division in the stretch of road
that came through a wooded area. French voltigeurs face off against Austrian Grenzers screening the advancing infantry.

Close-up and personal.

Matt's Italians advance toward the grenadiers.

Martin's divisions come up fast.
The black thing in the photo is an artillery stick. Shako II is a bit "old school" in using such sticks
to determine out-of-range, long range, effective range, and cannister range.
I like it.
The first rank of Bear's cavalry - light dragoon and uhlans - were thrown back and the artillery fell back.

But not far enough as two regiments of hussars showed.
Meanwhile, Beth's blood-soaked cavalry turned the corner around the forest and met my second infantry division. They promptly destroyed the lead battalion, while the next three battalions were able to form square. (Hoch-und-Deutschmeister was salvaged!) Most of Beth's cavalry turned to face Bear's heavies, but some remained hovering around my squares, just enough to tie my hands.

Italian dragoons and gendarmes (they're militarized police, for crying out loud!) threaten my squares.

("... with one hand tied behind me back!")

HuD, 1st battalion
AB figures - very nice.

Bear's dragoons and kurassiers exchange sabre cuts with Beth's dragoons and Chasseurs a cheval.

Derek is slowly being pushed back into the woods. He barely had room to deploy his battalions.
Curfew was coming and things were winding down. Beth send a unit of dragoons to secure the road behind Derek, fulfilling the victory conditions for the Franco-Italians. We called the game and let it stand as a fairly decisive victory for the French and Italians. The Austro-Hungarian grenadiers proved their metal again and Bear made a mess of the Allied grand battery.

Italian Dragoons "on commando" -  going to take the road.

Beth's alter-ego as an Italian commander
Lessons learned:
  • You can't leave a grand battery without some sort of support.
  • The Austrian general needs to be more specific in his order to the other generals. My orders were far too non-specific.
  • Try to form square earlier. Hasty square leaves a lot to be desired. Hence, the loss of an entire division to Beth's cavalry.
  • Form up early deployments more clearly and more closely for mutual support.
  • Be more aware of what units are in the brigade. A few combinations were not proper.
  • Watch out if your wife commands cavalry. Never forget how blood-thirsty the woman is.
Everyone said they enjoyed the game, so it was a success. I lost badly and was mauled, but I so enjoy gaming this period. (<Sigh.> Some day I'll win one.)

Martin's version of the Emperor with his huge entourage. French-Allied armies are allowed 4 aides-de-camp
for the change of orders. Austrians are allowed... two.
(It took a photo of the Austrian high command, but it's too blurred to share.)

Derek and Matt early in the game.

As I place some figures, Bear, Derek, and Matt think over strategy... or maybe lunch.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to the guys in the club for indulging John and I. Since I have lots of Italians (that I also painted), some French and John's TONS of Austrians, we often play at home as well as at the club.
    Win or lose - it's always a good time!