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.

Tuesday 3 May 2022

Polemos General de Division: Quilmes 1806

I recently bought the two latest Michael Hopper Napoleonic scenario books (long-time readers will remember I have used some of his other books extensively, primarily covering the Italian and Danube theatres of war in 1805 and 1809).  The latest two feature the British struggles around the world against the Imperial French and their allies, although there are also many scenarios featuring Spanish, Portuguese and Sicilian armies contesting French invading armies.


 For my first game I chose a small scenario from one of Britain's fairly woeful South American campaigns, in which they tried to defeat Spain in their colonial possessions.  This particular battle features a small British force facing a larger but very motley Spanish force trying to resist the British advance from the Rio de la Plata (the River Plate).  I used the Polemos General de Division rules.

 The Forces:

The British Army:
C-in-C: General Beresford (Capable)
Force Commander: Pack (Capable)
1st Brigade: 3 bases Trained Infantry SK1
2nd Brigade: 1 base Trained Infantry SK1 (Marines)
3rd Brigade: 1 base Raw Infantry SK2 (Sailors & Militia)
This unusual nominal brigade structure is necessary to make the British not at risk of collapse by getting a single 'Shaken' result. It is actually still just possible, but a lot less likely.

The Spanish Army:
C-in-C: General Sobremonte (Plodding)
Force Commander: Arce (Plodding)
1st Brigade: 2 bases Raw Dragoons
2nd Brigade: 1 base Raw Infantry SK0, 1 base Trained Horse Artillery 6lb
3rd Brigade: 3 bases Raw Irregular Cavalry (Guachos)
4th Brigade: 3 bases Raw Irregular Cavalry (Guachos)

The British win if they occupy the town that the Spanish are holding or defeat the Spanish Army.

 The Set-Up:

Beresford's small army is based around Quilmes (top) by the River Plate, whilst Sobremonte's troops guard the pass through the town of Recreation (bottom).

The majority of the Spanish force are 'Guacho' irregular light horse; an infantry battalion and a battery of horse artillery provide some stability.

A couple of regiments of regular cavalry are positioned on the right.

A closer view of Beresford's & Pack's troops; the majority are from the 71st, supplemented by some Marines, some sailors and some militiamen from St.Helena.

The Battle:

As the British marines push forward, the Guachos ride forward to meet them

A closer look at those advancing Guachos.

Although the Marines open fire perhaps a tad too soon, their fire is accurate enough to fell many of the Spanish riders

Advancing slowly forward, the Marines threaten the shaken Gauchos...

The dispirited Gauchos turn tail and flee!

However, not to be discouraged, the other group of Gauchos also charge in..

With mixed results! Some of the Gauchos are killed and others flee from the ferocity of the 71st Foot's fire, but the sailors and militiamen run for Quilmes!

The Gauchos have split the British line along the main track!

Beresford launched a charge directly at the Spanish infantry and guns at the head of his infantry (centre-bottom) but was beaten back with heavy losses (centre)!  He is now in serious danger of being encircled and destroyed...

However, Pack's infantry quickly attack and disorder the Gaucho in the centre

Whilst the Marines push the other Gaucho back up the slopes

The Marines' relentless advance cannot be stopped by the irregular horsemen

Realizing that his army's morale must collapse soon, Sobremonte orders Arce to attack the British flanking battalion with the regular cavalry

Arce gets his troopers to charge...

But the steady discipline and fire of the British infantry wins out

The routed Cavalry regiment rides for the hills...

Cumulative losses and disorder take their toll, and the Spanish Army reaches a state of sauve qui peut...

The position at the end of the battle, as the Spanish forces disperse

Game Notes: 

A little scenario to start me off and get me going with this book.  And a slightly unusual situation in terms of the types of forces involved, good to get those Spanish irregular cavalry onto the battlefield for a change!  The Spanish actually did rather better in this refight than they managed in real life and for a brief moment I thought they were going to pull it off - the smart infantry counter-attack against the just victorious second group of Guachos probably saved the day, otherwise it is hard to see how Beresford could have escaped...Polemos is quite an 'infantry-friendly' set, the Spanish may have had a better chance with a different ruleset.  But all good fun, the scenario worked really well.

Only three points of note from the rules: firstly, the army structure doesn't work amazingly well with low force levels, although that didn't end up mattering too much in this game.  Basically, when the sailors routed, the British immediately could have had a 1-in-6 chance of losing the battle, or a 1-in-9 chance, or no chance at all, depending upon how exactly things are organized.  On the other hand, it can be quite fun and does produce some historical possiblities impossible to recreate under other rules.  Secondly, I have never been a fan of allowing cavalry charge directly 'through' infantry and artillery, even though the rules do allow it, as written.  Lastly, the re-deployment order is quite powerful in these rules, it is usually preferable to wheeling or retreating and so on.  But none of these points is new, I think I have mentioned them all before.

So an unusual little scenario with a very low troop count for a quick game - recommended.  Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Total Battle Miniatures.

Sunday 1 May 2022

Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader: Rynn's World Farm

 One contender for the most-played war-game scenario of all time must be the sample scenario contained in the first edition of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader.  It features a group of Orks trying to defeat a smaller group of Space Marines and pick up some valuable loot along the way.  The rule-book contained some counters which one could photocopy to get a game set up immediately on buying the game and this was indeed the way I first played it.


On a whim last year, I bought some of the Vanguard 6mm miniatures Science Fiction range models and very nice they are too.  At this size they can be painted to be 'close enough' to the original scenario cast, so since that scenario isn't very figures-heavy, I painted up a few to give it a go and remind myself of how the original Warhammer 40,000 plays.

 The Forces: 

Crimson Fist Legion Space Marines:
1 x Captain Pedro Cantor (minor hero), equipped with two Bolt pistols, a power glove and a refractor field.
3 x Squads of 1 Marine Sergeant and 4 Marines, all armed with Bolt guns.  One of the squads has a missile launcher with plasma bombs.  Each squad has detached a marine to act as a sentry.
All the marines wear power armour.

The Orks:
Thrugg (Ork minor hero), armed with a Bolt pistol and a Plasma pistol and a Chain sword.
4 x Squads of 5 Orks, each including a squad leader.  One of the squad leaders, Hruk, is a Champion.  All are armed with Bolt guns and Hruk has a Bolt pistol too.
All the orks wear flak vests.

The Set-Up:

The Orks have occupied the reverse slope of a lightly wooded hill and taken over a ruined watchtower.

The whole battlefield the Marines occupy the farm, with a couple of sentries around the walls and one at the edge of the woods.  The Orks are on the hill.

Another view of the Orks.  Thugg is at the base of the tower, observing.

A closer look around the farmstead: one sentry is in the enclosure (centre), one is in the doorway of the outbuilding and the last is at the near edge of the woods.

The Battle:

I started the game with a strategy roll for the Orks, given that the Marines were all hidden.  In essence I gave even chances of right-flanking (through the woods), left-flanking (to enfilade the farmstead) or a mixture of both (to split the defence).  I also rolled randomly for commitment between 2 and 3 squads forward, and the remainder back.  Thugg's plan ended up being to send one squad around each flank, with two left on the hill to exploit (n.b. there was a lot wrong with this but it is a long time since I have played this game, and I have never done it with 6mm before, so please bear with me!)

An Ork squad breaks left to begin its flanking move

Another squad breaks right, hugging the base of the hill: Thugg, Hruk and the others observe

The right-hand squad deploys

The left-hand squad is still moving in single file, it has a little further to go

Alerted by the sentry in the enclosure, his squad moves stealthily by the wall to support, remaining out of sight,

Whilst another squad moves in the dead ground behind the woods and the farmhouse to reinforce the woods

The overall view at this point

The Ork squad reaches the edge of the woods

Whilst the other Ork flanking squad moves in line towards the edge of the farmstead; the marines are in position, however.

The Orks gingerly move into the woods: and very properly since the Marines are about to give them a very warm welcome...

FIRE!! Four bolters and a missile launcher let rip...

And in seconds, four Orks are down, dead or incapacitated...

The marines on the left also let rip with their bolters...

Two more orks go down and the remaining three Orks in this squad run!

Thrugg (top) rushes with reinforcements to try and rally the routing orks (left)

Meanwhile, the very brave Ork who was the sole surviving fighter from the other squad, advances by himself, hitting one of the Marines with his bolter, but the Marine's power armour keeps him safe...

Thrugg failed to rally the routing Orks, but he is about to charge through the woods with the reserves

But the Marines have moved forward and fired, and two more orks become casualties...Thrugg's iron will keeps them in the fight though!

However, a good long-range shot from the missile launcher causes a couple of casualties in the follow-up Ork squad, and they run!

The survivors run for the hills!

Thrugg is not a hero for naught however, he charges into the Marines, eliminating one with his plasma pistol at point-blank range...

Captain Cantor rushes into the woods with the final squad of Marines, to restore the situation if Thrugg should break through!

Another Marine goes down, felled by Thrugg's chain sword!!

However, as another of Thrugg's companions goes down, overwhelmed by superior numbers...

Thrugg decides finally that the treasure will have to wait for another day and bugs out!

The position at the end of the battle - a large number of dead, dying and wounded orks litters the field...

 Game Notes:

The Orks lost 11 and the Marines only 2, so a fairly decisive win for the Crimson Fists. It was not the most intricate game I have ever played, but good fun nonetheless!  It was amazing how quickly the rules game back to me although it must be nearly a decade since I have even read them.  I think that is because although they are not particularly elegant in design, they are pretty intuitive.  That in turn helps to speed up play in most situations.  The number of dice rolls involved do make the iterative probabilities a bit hard to calculate, which is why they are very much a set that can be learned for optimal play, rather than relying on improved tactics per se (if you follow me).  
All that said, this scenario played very differently from the times I have played it before.  I used a scale of 1" in the rules = 1cm for 6mm, which gave quite a nice visual I thought (lots of 40k games look a bit too close in for a shooty game, IMHO) but the ranges of the weapons are quite short.  This meant that the hill was too far away for the Orks to give meaningful support or cover fire from, which tends not to be the case on most tables using 28mm figures.  Given that, it was obvious in retrospect that Thrugg should commit three squads and send them right flanking as the clearly optimal choice.  The remaining squad is really just there to stop the marines using too much hidden movement.  and also acting as the reserve.  The marines had a decent amount of luck too and that was too much for the Orks.  Thrugg was pretty nasty in close combat though!
I don't seem to remember anyone using the 'Hiding' rules too much when I played this as a bairn but they do seem fair enough.  It really rewards having covered approaches, which I am a big fan of!

The Vanguard figures were nice and definitively close enough to produce the right effect, without being mere GW copies.  I was happy to do it this once, but I wouldn't normally use individual 6mm figures though - it really is a bit of a clart.

Anyway, a nice bit of nostalgia for me, but done in a new, cheap and cheerful way.