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.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Neil Thomas Horse & Musket Scenario 16: A Polemos Ruse de Guerre game

As part of re-invigprating my gaming by trying to accept the current limitations rather than kick against them, I resumed the series of refights of the scenarios from Neil Thomas' book One Hour Wargames.  Unlike the first half of the series, this time I opted for using Glenn Pearce's Polemos Ruse de Guerre. I had been trying quite hard to get a time/space gap sufficient to do the latest of Glenn's scenarios, Medina de Rio Seco and Eylau, but just haven't managed it. But RdG can handle relatively small actions as well so I thought I would give it a go to see how I got on.


The Forces:

The Anglo-Hanoverian Army:
2 units of Cavalry
6 units of Infantry
1 unit of Artillery (6pdr Foot)

The Franco-Jacobite Army:
2 units of Cavalry
6 units of Infantry
1 unit of Light Infantry

All the units are Trained.  Each force is broken down into three brigades, one of cavalry and two of infantry.  For anyone acquainted with the Ruse de Guerre rules, all the brigadiers are rated as Competent and have 1 Tempo Point each.
The battle is an encounter battle, with both sides arriving during the player turns as they might.  Beacsue of the small table size, I forbad the use of RdG's (generous) road move bonus in this game, reaosning that it would be inappropriate with both sides close but unaware of each other's exact presence.

The Set-Up:

The village in the centre is the objective for each side: the Anglo-Hanoverians will approach from the north (top), the Franco-Jacobites from the south (bottom)

The Battle:
The Anglo-Hanoverian cavalry advances to take the village and threaten south, whilst the infantry marches up behind.

The Franco-Jacobites mirror the Anglo-Hanoverian moves

Another view

The Anglo-Hanoverian Foot occupy the village whilst the Anglo-Hanoverian cavalry reform to face their Jacobite counterparts

The French skirmishers trade fire with the Scots of Leven's regiment ensconsed in the village, but are worsted

The Jacobite Cavalry charges home!

Meanwhile, the Franco-Jacobite infantry try to develop the attack to the Right

Anothr view: note that the Anglo-Hanoverians have managed to get some artillery up in support of their Horse to the left of the town

The Jacobite cavalry is defeated, its regiments being variously repulsed and routed!

The Jacobite Irish skirmishers are in flight after suffering heavy casualties also; they did take a few of the Scots down too (note the casualties inside the town)

The victorious Anglo-Hanoverian cavalry charge the remnants of the Jacobite cavalry and rout them too!

Fitzjames' Regiment riding hard for the rear; meanwhile the Jacobite Irish Brigade is attempting to extend its line to firm up the left flank

The battle has not gone well gor the Franco-Jacobites thus far, with their left flank routed, their central assault repulsed and their right flank not yet in action; the only ray of sunshine is that the British Left has barely formed up yet

The Irish brigade seems to be getting the upper hand in the musketry exchange around the town

The Anglo-Hanoverian's in the centre refuse their Right, so Lord Orkney's regiment pivots to protect against flank attack

The Irish Brigade make the same move to protect their Left from the roving British cavalry (left) whilst the second French brigade (right) develops its attack

Fergusson's infantry engages the French left, but without result - and the artillery proves ineffective too.  The Irish Brigade detaches its right-hand regiment to give it some attacking impetus; meanwhile the second French brigade (right) deploys to protect its own flank.

Eventually the awkwardness of the Franco-Jacobite tells and it starts to suffer from the combination of musketry and artillery

It is getting the worst of the musketry fight on the flank too, despite its numerical advantage

The Scottish infantry retire to allow the British cavalry to charge home...

Whilst Lord Orkney's men make an impudent charge on foot against superior numbers too!

Some of the Jacobite Irish, disordered by heavy casualties, cannot withstand the cavalry charge, although one regiment heroically fights off its attackers(!)

Meanwhile, Orkney's Regiment has routed the Royal Ecossais!

The Jacobite Scots have had enough for one day...

But the flight of these two battalions discourages the others...

Who join them in a general sauve qui peut...

The position at the end of the battle

 Game Notes: 

Quite a triumph for the Anglo-Hanoverians here.  This was partly down to some good fortune in winning lots of the early tempo rules so they could seize the initiative but also some of the rules mechanics worked in their favour and they are quite distinctive features.
Ruse de Guerre is noticeably more generous in allowing most troops to 'do something' each turn than its ancestor set, Polemos Napoleonics is; and also more generous than the ultimate ancestor of this type of game (DBA).  As long as troops don't have a positively idle commander, then they will be able to do something each turn, whereas 'troops doing nothing at all' is quite rare.  If this game had been Polemos: Napoleonics, the tempo bids were such that the Anglo-Hanoverians would have been pretty much in position before the Franco-Jacobites were ready at all.  I think this makes for a better multi-player game, although it is less clear for head-to-head or solo gaming.  Realism-wise, then any system which makes delay is better I think!  However, what Polemos Ruse de Guerre has (as does Polemos Napoleonics) is a very powerful 'Redeployment' move.  For relatively few tempo points, it allows a 'force' (typically a brigade or regiment)  to make maby small moves with all its component parts.  In RdG, this even allows troops to move closer to the enemy (this was not allowed in Polemos Napoleonics).  Since close combat isn't adjudicated until the end of the turn, this allowed the British to move up some artillery in support of their cavalry after the Jacobites had charged but before the resolution of the attack.  This changed the odds from slight Jacobite advantage to a slightly larger British advantage.  This gave the British the advantage which they then successfully exploited; using the powerful redeploy move again to get their troops out of the way to allow the cavalry to charge the disordered Irish.  The Irish did rather better than par given the situation but it wasn't enough. The game was also noteworthy for something I have observed before: the use of d10, including opposed d10 rolls, makes for some quite 'swingy' combat results, especially compared to other Polemos titles (or DBA for that matter).
Anyway, no criticism intended, there is nothing wrong with any of the above, but it does give RdG a distinct tactical flavour of its own, perhaps more than a first reading after playing Polemos: Napoleonics might indicate.  And its simplicity leads to a quick, exciting and very uncomplicated game, without the "what happens here" bits hidden in some other simple sets.  
A really enjoyable game -  I loved getting these C18 figures back onto the table!
Figures by Baccus, buildings by Leven, board 2'x2'.


Saturday 24 December 2022

Christmas Present

My six-year old wanted a bit of armour support for his British paratroopers and German grenadiers, so his uncle got two Warlord kits for him and I put them together:

Not the best painted 28mm AFVs ever!  But just good enough that he should enjoy them, I hope; and unlike the average wargamer's vehicles, the bairn's will be in action pretty much every day...

Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics...

Gaming has been a bit of a struggle recently.  Not because I have started to dislike the hobby or anything but the actual practicalities of it have been hard to manage: space is becoming a real issue!  When I re-started figure gaming in 2007-8, there were lots of spare rooms in the house but as my family has grown and grown-up, all that spare capacity has been taken up.  At the moment the only very viable option for setting up a game is in my bedroom, which also has to serve as my storage area, my office and my gym, at least in winter.  It also has to work as my painting and modellling area. The room is becoming too full and messy, making it hard to work in or play in.  The more communal areas in the house are generally too busy and too full to be used instead. 
In the summer I can set-up in the garage but it is just too cold to be much fun in the winter, unless I spend some time and money converting that, which is possible but no quick fix.  More club/face-to-face gaming is a possibility, but that brings its own issues in terms of work and family commitments - one reason that I am mainly a solitaire player in the first place. This is especially true currently since I have recently started a new job that is very interesting and exciting, but it is also very demanding in terms of both time and mental effort.

Where I think this goes is that I may have to abandon any hope of getting anything but the smaller games played in the colder months of the year and I will have to 'save up' the bigger games for when the garage is workably comfortable, at least until it is converted into a more usable space.  I have mentioned this before in a couple of hobby updates over the last few months, but I will need a few neat boxes of figures and terrain, and perhaps a few boardgames, that can be easily stored near my workplace without them getting in the way or being distractedly messy. I think that the most promising collections for this treatment are:
C18 (WSS and Jacobites) for 'Tabletop Teaser' and 'One-Hour Wargames'-type scenarios
WW2 reinforced platoons for 'Pint-sized campaign' battles and similar 
8-12 unit armies for DBA & Neil Thomas' type games; at a push this could go up to the Polemos 20-base army size, although I need to see if two armies would fit into a single box...
Twilight of Divine Right forces for its scenario books
Portable Wargame armies for the relevant periods (WW2, Napoleonic...I could get the Pike & Shot one too)
28mm fantasy for 'Two-Hour Dungeon Crawl' (I think that the requirement for 28mm terrain makes 'Five Leagues...' a less good choice perhaps; this also applies to 28mm Napoleonics)
Two War of 1812 armies for Polemos Ruse de Guerre might align with the Portable Wargame armies...or it might be better to use the C18 stuff and proxy.
Some "maybes"
15mm WW2 and/or Cold War skirmish is marginal, more-or-less entirely because of the terrain requirements.  I need to check this out and work out what I think the minimum viable terrain is for this.
Air and naval stuff have low model and terrain requirements but tend to work better with a reasonably sized board or map.  Not sure how well they would work in this case.

Now, any regular readers of this blog might well remark that that is pretty much no change - and in a sensem they would be right: that is more or less what I have managed to get to the table this year (and perhaps most of last too),  at least to an extent.  But that hasn't reflected what I have spent my time thinking about and planning.  So all of this is trying to align the realities of my situation to how I imagine my hobby and organize my stuff and my space to enable that.  In any case, something has to give, because things are not working out for me at present.

Monday 19 December 2022

The Gembloux Gap Campaign Battle 03 - Blitzkrieg on Villeroux II

Since the Germans were (just!) held off in the previous battle, they have to have another go at the Blitz on Villeroux scenario, the third scenario (and now the fifth engagement) of the Too Fat Lardies' pint-sized campaign Taking the Gembloux Gap.

As usual, I am using "The Farquhar Variant", John D Salt's variation of the WRG 1950-85 modern rules re-imagined for the WW2 period.


The Forces:

The French:

1 Rifle command group
1 Rifle grenadier group
1 Rifle + LMG group
1 Rifle group
1 25mm ATG and limber
1 Renault R35
1 Panhard

The French platoon is really weak now after suffering heavy losses in the previous two engagements

The Germans

1 SMG command group
4 Rifle groups
2 GPMG groups

Plus the following additions:
1 SMG company command group
1 le.IG18
2 Stuka dive bombers
1 car
1 pioneer team
support from a 105mm howitzer battery

The Set-Up:

The same battlefield, although losses have forced the French to redeploy: the top wood has been abandoned, the remaining infantry section is in the bottom wood, the anti-tank gun is by the junction, the tank and the armoured car are behind the L-shaped building with the platoon command group in, and the rifle grenadiers are in the big building (top-left)

Another view

The single consolidated rifle section in L-formation in the woods, with the anti-tank gun guarding the junction

The AFVs are sheltering behind the L-shaped building

The Battle:

A German squad arrives: it has commandeered a car from somewhere and four Landsers are in it.  The remainder advance on foot.

This time the Germans are being more methodical: a battery of 105mm howitzers shells the village

Most of the French troops are suppressed, and the anti-tank guns horse team is wiped out

And then, in an early and heavy blow to the French, the rifle grenadiers are eliminated by some direct hits on the big building!

The bombardment lifts and the Germans instead bring up the smaller, but still useful, infantry gun

Then the Stukas arrive! (Okay they are 109s, but I amongst friends, no?)

Not that they spot much...which is fine, since they both miss by a mile anyway! Fortunately the Germans hadn't begun advancing much yet (the foot soldiers are sneaking through the wheatfield (top-right))

In a bold (foolhardy? rash?) move, the Germans adapt the failed tactics from the last battle and instead use the car to drive very quickly up to the building and jump out!

Another view.  The unfortunate gap left in the French arcs by the elimination of the rifle grenadier group allowed the Germans to get away with their bold move!

Most of the rest of the German platoon arrives (2 squads), led by the company commander in person and a pioneer team. 

Another view

The Renault R35 moves forward: the advanced German rifle group has hopped into the building, abandong the car; the tank therefore concentrates on pinning the Germans trying to advance by the road; however, the remainder of the first German squad has managed to get to the corner of the top wood (top)

Some devastating MG34 fire cuts down the anti-tank gun crew! Meanwhile, the French platoon command is coming under heavy fire from the rifle group in the building, plus the German infantry off to the right

The French platoon commander can stand no more, and he, followed by the rest of his platoon, beat a hasty retreat! However, just as the French rifle section is running across the road...

They are gunned down by the German MG34 and riflemen in the corner of the top wood!

Waiting for a gap in the firing, the surviving French riflemen try to escape...

But they are cut down too!

The position at the end of the battle: the German infantry is mainly by the hedge in the centre

Game Results:

The French lost 6 KIA and 12 WIA (all taken prisoner), plus the anti-tank gun and the horses.  The Germans lost no-one, only a couple of soldiers received minor wounds.

Game Notes:

The French managed to combine being unlucky and outnumbered and outgunned in a pretty terrible combination! The French casualties were distributed evenly between those from artillery fire and those cut down by machine gun fire: all very realistic and it is very possible that no one was incapacitated by rifle fire on either side...
Not much to say on this one, really.  If not using semi-realistic command and control, the French armour could have wreaked havoc on the Germans but since orders in this game have to be defined (they are supposed to be written, but since it is just me, I simply declare it) then those kind of omniscient-gamer moves just don't might have worked in this game, but on the other hand, they might well have been spotted and knocked out by the Stuka strike in short order, so who knows?  I am a bit unhappy that the Germans in this campaign don't carry anti-tank rifles though, just in case...
There should be another fight with this French platoon before it gets replaced for the final battle, but since it is literally just the lieutenant, a sergeant and a runner left, not sure how realistic that is?!? But they would have some attachments..thinking that one over.
Figures by Baccus 6mm and Adler, vehicles and guns by Heroics & Ros, aircraft by Plastic Soldier Company.