Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Friday 31 December 2021

Neil Thomas Horse & Musket Scenario 4 - More Simplicity in Practice

This is the fourth scenario in Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book, again played with his Simplicity in Practice rules from Battlegames 023, slightly modified by me - see here for details of these modifications (and any comments or suggestions most gratefully received!)

The Forces:

Hanoverian Army:
6 units of Line Infantry
2 units of Dragoons
1 unit of Artillery
Franco-Jacobite Army:
6 units of Line Infantry
2 units of Horse
1 unit of Artillery
The 6 units per side of the original scenario have been increased by half to 9, to give a slightly richer game.  The Hanoverians start with 3 units on the hill, the objective of both sides in the game; the Franco-Jacobites arrive on turn 1, the remainder of the Hanoverians on turn 2 (subject to the leadership rules in my modifications in the latter case). 

The Set-Up:

The Battle:

The Franco-Jacobite Army marches forward, clearly intending to make a direct attack upon the hill.

The Jacobite Horse moves forward boldly to block the road and partially isolate the hill

A wider shot: one French regiment has been detached to cover the wood on the flank, whilst another remains in reserve (left)

The British main body has arrived: the British Dragoons threaten the wood, hoping to use their prowess in la petite guerre to clear it and turn the Franco-Jacobite right flank.

The Franco-Jacobite infantry attack en echelon with the left leading: this was to allow the artillery to play for as long as possible during the advance. 

The shooting of the Irishmen and Scotsmen on the French side is proving a tad more accurate than the shooting of the British side in the early exchanges.

A wider view

And yet wider

Foreshadowing Lasalle at Medina de Rio Seco? One of the regiments of Jacobite Horse detaches itself, wheels and charges the British infantry in the flank...

Who,lacking room to retreat, surrender en masse.

The British position is in immediate peril!

A wider shot

Immediately taking advantage of the confusion caused by the successful Jacobite Horse charge, an Irish regiment (left) charges and routs the Scottish regiment on the British right flank! (left-centre)

Only the British artillery remains in action on the hill (note that the Jacobite Horse has withdrawn before it suffered too much from the musketry of the British second line (top, top-right)

The British artillery was therefore pulled back off the hill before it was enveloped, and another British Foot regiment has taken its place; it is being enveloped by the advancing Franco-Jacobite infantry, however.

With no decent options available, the British regimental commander orders a charge against the Royal-Ecossais...

Meanwhile, despite coming under some pressure, the Normandie infantry regiment and the Jacobite Horse are holding their own against the British infantry attacking down the road

The somewhat rash British charge was not rewarded with success...the British infantry recoil down the slopes (centre)

The Franco-Jacobite infantry have consolidated their position on the hill and are now attacking the British second line; the Royal-Ecossais have charged down the hill and completed the rout of their former opponents

A wider shot showing the basic asymmetry of the positions of the two sides at this point: the Franco-Jacobite attack on the main objective has been executed successfully; the British counter-attack down the road has been desultory; the French regiment in the wood has succssfully fought the British Dragoons to a standstill.

Very effective fire, particularly from the French artillery, has broken one of the leading British battalions, leaving another gap in the threadbare British lines.

The Normandie Regiment finally breaks after its mounting losses have become unbearable

But there are still three units defending the centre of the Franco-Jacobite line.

Although the Jacobite Horse starts falling in large numbers from the British musketry

However, the British Right Flank has been destroyed and the remnants of it and the centre are thrown back en potence towards the road

An Irish regiment charges the British guns...

But is it driven off, with heavy losses

However, the other Irish regiment has been more successful in its charge - the British line has disintegrated and it is now sauve qui peut...

The position at the end of the battle

Game Notes:

Another fun encounter in a basic but interesting scenario.  In effect, the very poor initial British fire set the conditions for the remainder of the battle, since the Franco-Jacobites were able to launch a co-ordinated assault, with prepatory fire, before the British reinforcements could impact the battle.  The charge of the Jacobite Horse was a mistake on my part as the British commander: I had forgotten that the pivot rule allowed in the Simplicity in Practice rules allows that turn to the left-rear and a charge if the target is within range.  In the rules as written it would have been a 50:50 proposition still, although my modifications did give the Jacobite Horse a small advantage - but it came off and the British position on the hill was compromised from the off.  Apart from that, the only other thing of note was something that didn't really appear in the photo record: the long drawn-out skirmishing in the wood. Light infantry cannot charge in woods so the British Dragoons were forced to try and win by fire - which takes a long time due to the much reduced effectiveness of musketry.  
The figures as ever are by Baccus 6mm, again on a 2'x2' board.  These games are very cheap to put on - when I wrap up this series I may tot up how much it would cost to replicate the set-up.

Monday 27 December 2021

A Third Simple Neil Thomas' Horse & Musket Scenario

So, the third scenario from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book, played through with a slightly modified version of his Horse-and-Musket rules, Simplicity in Practice.

The force generator in One Hour Wargames, used with a 1.5 multiplication factor to bring the forces to 9 units rather than 6, resulted in the following armies:

The Franco-Jacobite Armies:
6 units of Infantry
2 units of Horse
1 unit of Dragoons

The Hanoverian Armies:
5 units of Infantry
2 units of Artillery
2 units of Horse

The scenario requires that each force seize a bridgehead over the river by capturing both bridges and getting units to the other side.

The Set-Up:
The Franco-Jacobite forces will approach from the bottom, the Hanoverians from the top.  This is a meeting engagement, so both forces move onto the board during turn one.

The Battle:

The Hanoverians (left) have sent out their Horse regiments to quickly seize one of the bridges (centre-bottom), with a brigade and artillery battery tasked to attack each bridge; the Franco-Jacobites have done the same but in reverse, sending their mounted units to take the top-centre bridge.

A closer shot of the British Horse moving up to the bridge.

The Franco-Jacobite Horse and Dragoons have taken some casualties on the approach from the Hanoverian artillery (off-picture to the right)

A wider shot of the same.

The artillery is able to concentrate on the Franco-Jacobite horse.

The Hanoverian Horse across the bridge is met by a combination of Franco-Jacobite Horse and Foot.

The British Horse charges the French Dragoons (centre); note that the other British Horse has withdrawn having taken some casualties from musketry fire.

The British Horse makes short work of the disordered French Dragoons, who are broken, despite the efforts of the French general.

The dragoons are killed, captured or routed; and the French general, wounded, has surrendered also.

The Scottish Jacobite infantry try to restore the situation with their musketry fire.

The Franco-Jacobites, in some disarray, try to get their attack going again: with the disparity in artillery, they simply must attack to have any chance of winning.

Another shot: note that the British infantry are occupying the wood (top) and that the Franco-Jacobite infantry brigade has already taken some casualties as it approached the bridge.

However, some clever manouevring has enabled the Franco-Jacobites on the left to isolate and attack one of the leading British Horse regiments...

Which is defeated and surrenders!  The situation is at least somewhat restored on this flank.

The musketry exchange around the second bridge: the British infantry have advanced forward to attempt to concentrate more fire on the French infantry opposing them, but the French seem to have had the better of the initial exchanges; the British artillery (top-right), which was so effective earlier in the battle, seem to be having trouble hitting anything during this phase of the battle.

The British troops on their left make another attempt to force the passage of the bridge; the Jacobite Royal Scots withdraw (bottom-right) but the remainder of the forces hold firm

The Jacobite Horse (left) has successfully charged the British Horse, which has scampered back over the bridge (top-left) in disorder

Meanwhile, French casualties mount around the other bridge: the Normandie Regiment has, after a heroic resistance, succumbed to severe losses

The French brigade is starting to look a little threadbare

A wider shot; both sides have found the action very hot around the bridges - but the withdrawal of both sides simply hands the advantage to the Hanoverians, whose superior artillery can play freely on the unfortunate Franco-Jacobite forces.

The Franco-Jacobite Left advances again, but runs into a wall of British musketry and artillery fire

A wider shot: casualties mount on both sides, athough some particularly effective musketry from the French on the Right has broken one of the British battalions in the woods (top-right)

Note however that the Franco-Jacobite infantry casualties are now mounting unsustainably quickly all across the front.

The Royal Scots are in a parlous state and cannot take much more (right)...

The Franco-Jacobite Right is little better off...

At this point, the surviving Franco-Jacobite commanders decided that their soldiers had done what honour demanded, but withdrawal was now vital if their army was not to be eliminated pointlessly by the Hanoverian artillery.

Game Notes:

Another exciting game: the formula of Simplicity in Practice plus scenarios from One Hour Wargames continues to be a successful one.  No real points on this one, except that experience is proving the truth of Napoleon's maxim that it is with artillery that one makes war: the first three battles have all gone to the force with the greater number of guns.  This is perhaps not surprising in a Neil Thomas attrition-focused game but perhaps indicates that the force generation tables may need some modification.  One thing that might be worth pointing out is that because unit efficiency does not decline with unit losses until the breakpoint is reached, it encourages units to tactically withdraw in many circumstances since neither the unit nor the player 'wants' that breakpoint to be reached.  One can certainly argue that such retreats should be involuntary rather than through player choice (the only enforced retreats are for units defeated in melee that still have strength points remaining) but it is still an effective mechanism, one that other, more complicated games don't replicate as well: such is the strength of Thomas' rule writing techniques.

There was a wider point of interest about the ending of the game.  If I had been playing the Franco-Jacobites in a head-to-head game, I would certainly have conceded the game at the point I did: the chances of success from that position were so low that it wouldn't be fun for either player to continue; in the context of a campaign, I would have done the same without a second thought: the Franco-Jacobite force was faced with a nearly impossible task but had inflicted more-or-less proportional losses on their opponents to that point, so withdrawal would be in almost all circumstances the correct thing to do; but in a one-off solo game should I have ended the game at the point I did, rather than continue to try and win a very improbable but not impossible victory?  I think I made the right choice, but not so sure that I haven't mulled it over a few times.

The materiel of the game is as in previous games: Baccus 6mm WSS figures on a 2'x2' board.