Thursday 19 February 2015

Skirmish on the L'Adour - 15mm Napoleonic Muskets and Tomahawks

General Situation
By 1814 an allied army of British, Portuguese and Spanish troops was operating in southwestern France. The French army under Marshal Soult had retired east from Bayonne towards Orthez. followed by an Anglo-Portuguese Army under Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington leaving Bayonne under siege. The siege was described as "leisurely to the point of apathy" with French and British soldiers fraternizing and exchanging goods and letters
View from the south east corner - Shaun is in the river
The Scenario
This scenario is set in a small hamlet somewhere along the south bank of the River Adour between Bayonne and Orthez.
View from the south west corner
The hamlet of 4 houses is set hard against the river, just off table to the north. There is a road running east-west through the hamlet with a road running off to the south. The area to the south of the hamlet rises up through wood hills to a ridge.
The French
A supply column escorted by an infantry battalion and an artillery piece has left Bayonne aiming to join up with Soult's army. The objective is to get the 2 supply wagons off the eastern edge of the table
6 Officers Veteran, Scout
3 Fusilier Companies Average, Musket, Firing Line (8 bases each)
1 Fusilier Company Green, Musket, Firing Line (8 bases)
1 Grenadier Company Veteran, Musket, Firing Line, Scout (8 bases)
1 Voltigeur Company Veteran, Musket, Firing Line, Scout (8 bases)
1 Gun
2 Wagons
The French can deploy 3 companies in the hamlet, the remainder of the force enter on the western road on turn 1. The order of march must be set out beforehand as arrival will be at the mercy of the Activation cards
The British
A large reconnaissance force of 4 Companies, Kings German Legion has been tasked with capturing the supply column and locating and escorting 2 British spies back to friendly lines.
3 KGL Officers Veteran, Scout
2 Light Companies KGL Veteran, Rifle, Scout (8 bases)
2 Line Companies KGL Average, Musket, Firing Line (8 bases)
The British can deploy anywhere along the southern edge of the table

The Game
The French deployed 3 companies  in the buildings at eastern end of the hamlet. The column was set out  with 2 wagons, the gun and the remaining 3 companies.
The British deployed all of their troops in the southeastern area of the ridge and moved rapidly to form a loose north-south line across the eastern edge of the table. The riflemen then proceeded to shoot the French troops in the hamlet.
At the other end of the table the column became a traffic jam as the wagons blocked everything else from coming onto the table. Eventually the jam was sorted out and the 3 extra companies started forming a line to advance against the British
The British realised that if the French advanced them then they would be overwhelmed so they moved a rifle company back up onto the ridge to enfilade any approaching French. They caused severe casualties to the French as a result of this.
Back at the eastern end of the hamlet the rifles played havoc with the French troops picking them off slowly but surely. The French mistakenly decided to return fire rather than charge out and engage the British in close combat.
Inevitably the riflemen wore down their opponents who belated decided to charge out forcing the KGL Line companies to retire with losses
The artillery piece did not get into action and was over run by a rifle company swarming through the buildings searching for the spies. With barely a full company left the French quit the field leaving both wagons, the gun and the 2 spies to the British.
The End
An interesting game between a shooty force and a stompy force with the later playing into the hands of the former by going for the fire-fight rather than closing with the bayonet. The rifles were lethal in this game even though they take twice as long to reload. The artillery was almost useless so I might have a tweak with the rules for them. Otherwise I'm very pleased with this variant of Muskets and Tomahawks.
The Toys
The buildings are from 4Ground's La Haye Sainte range and work fine as standalone buildings
The figures are by Campaign Game Miniatures
The Muskets and Tomahawks variant can be found here

Monday 9 February 2015

La Haye Sainte - Not Quite Muskets and Tomahawks

I wanted to do a game to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. When the lovely people at 4Ground asked me to put a game on at Salute 2015 I thought about La Haye Sainte (LHS) as they do an excellent model of it in 15mm.
The problem is that I don't game the Napoleonic Wars so I don't have any Napoleonic rules and I don't have any Napoleonic figures. Therefore I started looking round for both figures and rules.
I'd seen Jonathan Jones' blog and liked the look of Campaign Game Miniatures figures. The range has multiple poses for most troop types - for instance the French Fusiliers have Fusiliers Advancing Low Port, Fusiliers Advancing High Port, Fusiliers Skirmishing Pack 1 and Fusiliers Skirmishing Pack 2. Each pack has 8 figures in 4 poses giving a total of 16 different poses.

Not Quite Muskets and Tomahawks
I've been playing Muskets and Tomahawks (M&T) covering the French Indian Wars and the American War of Independence for a few years and put on participation games at various shows in the UK. FWI, AWI and Napoleonics = Horse & Musket so I started fiddling about with M&T to see if it would work.
Figure Ratio
M&T figure ratio is is 1 figure is 1 man. For LHS I had to represent 400 Germans and several thousand French so M&T wasn't going to work out straight out of the box. I wanted the basic unit to be a Company of roughly 80 men so I up'ed the scale so 1 figure became 5 men giving a company of 16 figures. 16 individually based figures was going to be a pain to move around. In M&T a regular unit has between 8 and 12 figures so I put 2 figures on a 20mm square base giving a company of 8 bases.
I reduced the weapons so Muskets dropped to 12" and Rifles dropped to 24" with long range being over half the range and point blank dropping to 2"
Action Points
Activation Cards give regulars 2 action points per card which wouldn't give much variety as every one would be regular. Therefore I added a morale class of Green, Average or Veteran and replaced the Regular 2 AP card with 1 card with Green 1AP, Average 1 AP and Veteran 2 AP and 1 card with Green 1AP, Average 2 AP and Veteran 2 AP. This gives Green 2 AP per turn, Average 3 AP and Veteran 4 AP. Veterans get +1 in the Reaction Test whilst Green troops suffer a -1 penalty
Formations & Movement
M&T has 2 formations, Skirmish (the default) and Firing Line. I added a third formation Column and made Firing Line the default formation. With 3 formations I had to change the movement from being a Troop Type value to being a Formation value. So Skirmish and Officers move 6", Column 5" and Line 4". Columns get a +1 modifier as a Target, add half of the bases in the second rank in Melee and get a +1 for Reaction tests. Skirmishers now get a -1 modifier in the open. All troops can adopt any formation but troops not trained to skirmish suffer a -1 in the Reaction Test - do not put green troops into Skirmish order
M&T has a very brutal melee system which I felt wouldn't work in this game. Therefore I replaced Melee with a Charge/Fight Action. In order to charge the enemy a unit must pass a Reaction test unless they are already in hand to hand combat. If they pass the Reaction test then they move into contact and carry out 1 attack. The defender does not attack back. If the defender wishes to attack then they must spend an action point on a Charge/Fight Action. Bases in contact are not limited to the Charge/Fight Action, they can do any action they wish - move, fire, reload etc
Officers, Traits,Events & Side Plots
Officers can not shoot, they can be shot at as though they were skirmishers and get a -1 modifier to the To Kill roll. Troops trained to skirmish get the Scout trait. Everyone gets the Firing line trait. Many of the Events and Side plots can be used straight from the list. An event was added to represent the Kings German Legion running short of ammunition for their rifles which gave them a -1 to shooting for the remainder of the game
The Forces
LHS was defended by 6 companies of 2nd Light Battalion, the Kings German Legion (KGL) armed with rifles, 2 companies of  1st Light Battalion KGL  armed with rifles and 1 company of 5th Line Battalion KGL armed with muskets. Several companies of the 95th Rifles were stationed in the Sandpit
I scaled this down to 2 companies of 2nd Light Battalion and 1 company of 5th Line Battalion with a chance of reinforcement by 2 half companies of  Line troops as random events. The light troops were Veteran Scouts with rifles. The Line troops were Average with Muskets
The 95th Rifles were represented by  2 half companies that fired 1D3 shots per British Regular card. They would pull back off the table if approached by French troops but would return when the threat receded.
For the French I had a Line Battalion of 6 companies - 1 Grenadier (Veterans), 1 Voltigeur (Veteran Scouts) and 4 Fusilier (3 Average and 1 Green). All were armed with muskets.
I will add a company of Sappeurs and a company of Légère and possibly an artillery piece to the French forces to make it a bit more difficult for the defenders
The Building
LHS could be entered at several points
- the western entrance to the barn because the doors had been used as firewood (doh!)
- the Garden walls and hedges
- the Main gate by spending 6 Action Points to break it down
- the Pigery and south-east wall - only if not defended by troops
The game starts with the 3 KGL companies deployed anywhere in the farm buildings or at the barricade on the road. The French start off-table.
The Game
As in the real battle most of the game action revolves around the Main Gate and the the western entrance to the barn with forays to the garden. As long as the KGL have ammunition they get a To Hit of 2 for French troops milling around these entrances - Base of 4 to hit plus Rifles +1 plus Point Blank +1 but once they start to lose officers and go low on ammunition things turn nasty as the French start to pour in and the numbers start to tell.
The Toys
The figures are all from Campaign Game Miniatures and were painted by Shaun
The buildings were very kindly donated by 4Ground
The cloth is by Gaveno Cavailia and is available on eBay
I am pleased with this variant of M&T. I really like being able to field companies of Voltigeurs and Grenadiers. I've had a few thoughts about getting a Russian Jaeger battalion or maybe some Prussians and a battalion of Young Guard to fight the Prussian advance on Waterloo.
For the variant I'm looking at including cavalry with their own Activation card to do actions between a French Dragoon regiment Russian Uhlans and Irregulars to allow for guerrillas in Spain

I put the game on at Plymouth and I will be doing it at WMMS, Salute and possibly Exeter.

The playsheet for this variant can be found here

More photos can be found on Photobucket