Saturday, 28 February 2015

One-Hour Wargames - Scenario 4 - Take The High Ground

The fourth scenario in One Hour Wargames is a simplified version of a Charles S Grant one; one in fact that I played a few weeks ago. One force has some troops defending a hill towards the centre of the table. The other army gets to attack with an overwhelming force, but the defenders have reinforcements on the way. Victory goes to whoever controls the hill at the end of the battle.

Once again I chose to use Liberated Hordes to play the scenario, but this time I used the full version. Instead of each side having six units/elements I used twelve on each side; it's easy enough to just double the initial deployment and reinforcements. In addition, whilst control of the hill after 15 turns was the victory condition, I implemented the normal HOTT conditions as well, so loss of half of its elements would cause an army to be defeated as well.

I classed all elements as Regular and both generals as Average.

A force of Chilean Patriots, with artillery support, were defending a strategic hill on the road to Santiago.

As dawn breaks, a large Royalist army marched into view. The infantry in the centre marched on the hill, whilst cavalry moved to outflank the Patriot position.

Hope for the Chileans arrived in the form of Argentinian reinforcements.

The Royalists attacked the hill. The Patriot general had ridden ahead to rally the defenders whilst the reinforcements moved into position.

 The Patriots engaged the Royalist right flank. The Royalists would take most of their losses here.

The Chileans fought bravely, but had lost half of their force already.

The Royalists charged, and the outnumbered defenders fell back.

The Royalist cavalry had been slow working around the flank; an initial attempt had been driven back by musketry and they were shy about trying again. However with the hill defenders now pretty well broken the cavalry tried again. By this time, though, the Patriot cavalry that had arrived with the reinforcements was riding across to engage them.

On the Royalist right the Patriot infantry was slowly turning their flank.

An overview of the battle. In the foreground the cavalry engaged each other, whilst on the hill the Chileans were being driven off. In the background the Patriot reinforcements consolidated their position.

As more Chileans routed, the Royalist infantry formed up to meet the threat of the Argentinian reinforcements. The Royalist general was on fire this bound; with six PIPs he pretty much rearranged his whole army in response to the enemy advance.

The final Chilean unit was routed, and the Patriot general was killed trying to rally it.

The cavalry continued to fight. The Royalist cavalry had infantry support, however, so had an edge despite having lost one of their elements earlier in the fight.

The two infantry lines formed up. With no general, though, the Patriots were sluggish in their actions.

Despite this, the Argentinians formed up and managed a slow advance, eliminating the last of the Royalist right flank units on the way.

The cavalry fight had become more dispersed, and some Royalist elements were in danger through blocked recoils. But the Patriots couldn't get the winning combat scores they needed to exploit the advantage.

A Patriot cavalry unit was surrounded and destroyed. This actually left both armies one element away from defeat.

The infantry firefight continued, and it was a Patriot unit which routed to give the Royalists the victory.

A view of the final position from behind the Patriot line. Both sides played 11 of the 15 bounds available to them.

The victorious Royalist general. pretty much stood at the point where his counterpart fell.

One rule change I did try in this game was to disallow the 'free' shooting HOTT elements have, which allows easy ganging up on enemy elements (plus support shooting ganging up in return). Instead elements with an enemy directly in front of them had to shoot at one of them. This allowed a certain amount of ganging up, especially if one side had a firing line longer than the other, but actually simplified combat resolution which otherwise gets quite complicated. This has the effect of making firefights somewhat less decisive than getting stuck in with the bayonet, where overlaps can be used to give combat advantage, which very much fits in with battle accounts of the period.

I quite like this scenario, although I think it's slightly weighted towards the attacker, as they can generally take the hill with minimal casualties from its small force of defenders before the reinforcements have chance to get into position. The reinforcements are then stuck attacking the hill whilst outnumbered. However this game was close, and could have been a Patriot victory had their moves in the latter part of the game not been restricted by the loss of their general.

Follow the rest of the scenario refights HERE

Friday, 27 February 2015

Basing Ideas For Blucher

This is a fairly targeted post. Our club's Yahoo Group has been busy today discussing how one might base troops for Blucher, so I said I'd throw together some rough ideas using my 6mm South American figures and the Blucher cards. And here they are. You'll see that the cards are still sealed. Our club was one of the playtest groups, so three of us got a set of the 100 Days campaign cards. The other two have opened theirs. I haven't seen the need yet.

Here's an infantry base. The figures are Irregular Miniatures, and whilst they are mounted on 25mm x 10mm bases they actually have a frontage of 21mm and a depth of just over 5mm. So you could easily fit four ranks into the columns, and still leave a gap at the front for the skirmisher screen and a gap at the back for some mounted officers.

I don't have any bases to do infantry in line, but it would be relatively straightforward to do a double rank across the base and possibly a second line as well. I don't really know much about infantry formations of the period, so I don't know how the troops ought to be arranged.

A cavalry base. Again, the actual Irregular cavalry bases are smaller than the ones I have them mounted on, so more could be squeezed on, or the ones in this picture put closer together to show blocks of units.

Finally, some artillery. You could squeeze four guns on the base, but the spacing looks nice here.

You'll note that I haven't left room for the unit characteristics and the Elan track. To be honest that's just best tracked on a roster. All the base needs is an ID and some idea of where the centre-point of the front is. We're wargamers; we're all used to tracking other information in our heads or off-table.

I have no plans to rush off and actually paint and base any figures for Blucher, but I hope this post shows how units might look using 6mm figures in manageable numbers.

Salta and Vilcapugio

Tonight Ralph very kindly consented to go small, and play a couple of games of Liberated Hordes with me. I picked a couple of battles I'd played before, and therefore had OOBs for: Salta and Vilcapugio, both of which took place in 1813 during General Belgrano's campaign in Alto Peru.

In case you're new to this blog, Liberated Hordes is a variant of HOTT for fighting the South American Wars of Liberation. It uses the core mechanisms of the game, but has its own troop types and a few special rules of its own. It's not just HOTT with lots of Shooters ...

We set up Salta first. Ralph took Belgrano's Patriots, whilst I took Tristan's Royalists. The Patriots have numbers and quality in this battle.

Belgrano sees to his dispositions. In Liberated Hordes an general can move from element to element; he isn't permanently attached to just one. We used small stones to mark their actual position, with these little bases just being table garnish.

The lines closed and the Patriot musketry began to tell.

The Royalist line broke up.

Tristan capitulates. The Royalists lost six elements for a Patriot loss of zero.

Vilcapugio was fought eight months (or twenty minutes and a cup of tea) later. The Patriot army was still commanded by General Belgrano, but the Royalists were led by the competent General Pezuela.

I'm not sure what happened with this photo. Someone obviously shot down the drone taking it.

As the Royalist army emerged from a defile between two rocky hills, the Patriot cavalry charged them in the flank ...

... whilst using infantry to pin them from the front.

The Royalist cavalry head, and infantry on the slopes of the hill supported them in driving off the Patriots.

In the meantime Royalist reinforcements arrived in the form of more cavalry.

Belgrano personally led the surviving patriot cavalry in order to stabilise their left flank. Some infantry moved up in support.

The cavalry routed and Belgrano was captured, leaving the Patriots leaderless. The Royalist cavalry now swung onto their flank.

The militia on the Patriot left ran, whilst a push by Royalist infantry on the Patriot left routed the troops there. The Patriots fled.

Once again the Good General bonus failed me - a Good General can, once per game, roll two dice for PIPs and select the best one. I used it just as my reinforcements arrived and Ralph's line was breaking up; a golden opportunity for my army to move in a swift, coordinated manner and sweep him from the field. I rolled a 1 and a 3.

The two games took us about two hours to play. Thanks to Ralph for slumming it with teeny-tiny quantities of teeny-tiny figures.

Meanwhile Dave tutored Bryan and John in big-battle DBA 3.0, with Pastiche Chinese fighting Mongols.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Portable Campaign For Alto Peru

In my previous post I showed the setup I used to take a portable wargames camping with me. Using that setup I tried a mini-campaign using my South American Wars of Liberation armies, and a variant of my Liberated HOTT rules. The scenarios for the campaign would be taken from Neil Thomas's 'One-Hour Wargames'.

I decided to start of the campaign with a straight head-to-head fight - the Pitched Battle. I then selected six other scenarios, and decided to dice for which one was used in each subsequent battle. The winner of the previous scenario would choose which side they wanted to be after it was chosen, but before the armies were determined.

Each army would be rolled using the Horse and Musket tables. However I decided to set my campaign during Belgrano's expedition to Alto Peru, so I modified the tables as follows. Firstly a second Skirmisher unit must be taken as Cavalry instead. Secondly a second Artillery unit could be replaced by another Infantry unit. Skirmishers weren't often used as detached troops, and artillery was sometimes in short supply and never really a significant part of any army. Once the armies were rolled both sides had to designate two units as Militia.

As I said, I used my HOTT variant, Liberated Hordes, an updated version of which I will be posting to my Free Stuff page very soon. However the small playing area and army size, plus the unorthodox basing of the troops mean that I had to make a few changes, some of which I've mentioned before. These are:
  • Armies roll 1D3 for PIPs.
  • There is no general. All elements are always considered to be in command.
  • An element which starts a recoil or flee, but which cannot complete it is not destroyed. It just stops at the thing blocking it. However an element that is blocked from starting a recoil or flee from the very beginning is destroyed.
  • All of my troops are based on 1" square bases for ease of movement. They recoil their full base depth, except Infantry, which only recoils half a base depth.
  • Both armies start the battle with two rally tokens. If available, one, and only one, of these must be spent to improve the combat total of an element by +1 if it loses a combat and if not doing so will cause the element to be lost. If spending the token does not prevent the destruction (their score is really bad) then it is not spent. Basically you get two goes to save destroyed units in borderline cases; this prevents sudden, unlucky, kills early in the game.

On to the first battle. The Royalists fielded four infantry (one of which was militia), one artillery and some cavalry (the latter also being militia). The Patriots opposing them had three infantry (one of which was militia), one artillery and a skirmisher (also militia).

Both armies advanced. The Royalists refused their flanks, on the one side to prevent a move by the Patriot skirmishers and on the other to cover their flank from the Patriot cavalry as well as still providing support for their own outclassed cavalry.

The initial exchanges of musketry saw the Royalist flanks driven back. This encouraged a Patriot charge.

A hole opened in the Royalist line.

However the Royalists rallied, their cavalry routing their Patriot opposite numbers and some infantry driving off the skirmishers.

The Royalists consolidated their line, and attacked.

The Patriots were driven back, and their position was further compromised by the Royalist cavalry swinging in on their flank.

Their army began to disintegrate under pressure from the Royalist attack ...

... until their final infantry unit was ridden down and destroyed.

The Royalists had won.

I ran the campaign using an adjusted version of my Proclamations system. I gave both sides two political tokens, with no uncontrolled tokens being present. The winning side could attempt a proclamation from the second battle onwards, with their Political Capital being equal to their own Political Tokens, minus those of the opposition, plus the number of battles the army had won. Once again the number of unsuccessful proclamations made was also subtracted from this score. So, after this battle no proclamations were possible, but the Royalists did make one of the Patriot political tokens uncontrolled.

An additional victory boon was the ability to upgrade your army. This upgrade could be one of:

  • Reduce the number of required militia units by one
  • Upgrade one regular unit to elite. For the Royalists this must be an infantry unit (Peninsular veterans) whereas for the Patriots it must be a cavalry unit (Horse Grenadiers).
  • Have an extra rally token at the start of the battle.
The Royalists took the easy option, and opted to only have one militia unit present at the next battle.

The second battle saw a rejuvenated Patriot army advancing to bring the Royalists to battle. However the Royalists rushed to intercept them at a key river crossing. As they arrived the lead elements of the Patriot advance-guard had crossed the river. The battle would centre on control of that side of the crossing.

The Royalist army would appear in three separate groups at random points around te table. In fact the first two groups appeared at the same point, allowing them to easily co-ordinate their efforts, despite having to push through some woods and scrub.

The Patriot response was slow, which meant that they were forced to fight near the crossing, making harder to feed more troops into the battle.

Eventually the Patriots formed a line of sorts, but Royalists then appeared on their flank.

A fierce fight ensued. The Patriots turned to meet the flank threat, hoping the reinforcements from across the river could hold the main Royalist force.

However the Royalists soon controlled their side of the river crossing, leaving the Patriots with a unit of militia infantry and some artillery to contest it with. In the distance, though, their cavalry were driving off the Royalist cavalry and skirmishers.

The two sides arranged their lines.

A firefight broke out across the river, but the Patriot cavalry was now returning to the fight/

The Royalists turned to meet the threat, but it was distraction enough to allow the Patriot infantry to ford the river and contest the crossing.

Initially they drove back the Royalists ...

... but they rallied, and broke the unreliable militia.

The Patriot cavalry tried to break through the Royalist position, but as night fell the Royalists were firmly in control of that side of the crossing. The main Patriot army would have to seek another route.

Another Royalist victory saw them take the uncontrolled political token, giving them three to the Patriot's one. With two victories under their belt, this was a good time to make a proclamation, and they needed a 4 or less to pass. They did, giving them the campaign. With the province now declared for the crown, the Patriot army returned to the Rio Del Plata to regroup and attempt an invasion another day.

Although only two battles the campaign was fun. Both battles were close-fought affairs with the first looking like a Patriot victory early on, and the second shaping up for a draw which would have kept the Patriots in the fight for at least one more engagement.

The rules held up well, with troop quality adding just a little bit of extra risk, but the rally tokens proving useful to prevent the early collapse of an army, thus allowing the battle to develop sensibly. The two battle took just over 90 minutes to play.

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