Thursday 29 October 2015

Fisticuffs at Finchley Common - an Honours of War '45 Rebellion AAR

Following on from the victory at Carlisle, it seems that the Jacobites had stopped their infighting at Derby, listened to the 'Bonnie Wee Laddie' and had started their advance on London. Good King George had prepared for this eventuality and whilst the Duke of Cumberland was assembling his forces elsewhere, moved out of London to Finchley Common and arrayed his troops ready to meet the young upstart.

Hanoverian Forces
George II C-in-C - Dependable
Guards Brigade with attached artillery - Superior and Dependable 
Tower Hamlets London Trained Bands - Inferior and Dithering
Brigade of Dragoons - Standard and Dependable

Jacobite Forces
Charles Stuart the Young Pretender C-in-C - Dithering
Highlander Brigade - Standard and Dependable
Highlander Brigade - Standard and Dependable
Lowlanders Brigade - Inferior and Dithering
French Brigade - Standard and Dependable
Baggots Hussars - Inferior and Dependable
Scenario Details
For King George II, he simply had to stop the Jacobites from reaching London and not get killed in the process. For the Jacobites, get to London and remove that Hanoverian usurper.

The Hanoverian troops could deploy any where they saw fit, up to roughly the half-way point of the table.  The Jacobites deployed along the opposing table edge.

The Hanoverians deployed their Guards across the London road, with the cavalry Brigade on the hill. King George II was kept back in reserve with the Trained Bands until he saw how the Jacobites would deploy and move towards London.

Turn 1
In true Jacobite style, the Lowlanders rolled a Poor and promptly started crabbing across the table. Apparently this was planned (yeah right it was) by Dave to allow his French Brigade to advance past them. As the Highlanders moved forward the Trained Bands moved onto the battlefield and deployed towards the Hanoverian right flank, with King George II in tow.

The Hanoverian Trained Bands march out as the Jacobites and their Allies advance forward in true Linear style.

Turn 2
It was the Highlanders turn to roll Poor commands and then crab about the table. The poor Guards Brigade were getting somewhat dizzy at the unusual tactics once again being shown by the Jacobites. As the Lowlanders caught up with the French of the Jacobite left flank, the Hanoverian cavalry brigade moved off the hill to make way for the Trained Bands, who chose to make a cautious advance.

The Guards brigade refuse their right flank as the Highlanders dance about rather than advancing forward.
'Moses parts the Red Sea', or that's what it felt like as the Jacobite flanks parted company.
The Trained Bands ready to move onto the hill to meet the Lowlanders and the French.
The Guards wait patiently as their artillery causes hits on the Highlanders and Jacobite cavalry.

Turn 3
A turn in which both sides had some Poor command rolls. The Highlander right flank refused to advance, leaving their compatriots to move into the centre, with Baggots Hussars whizzing down the right flank to the edge of the woods. As the Lowlanders became entangled with the French, due to the latters poor command roll, the Trained Bands moved onto the hill. The Hanoverian Dragoons moved off towards their left flank to meet the threat from the Jacobite cavalry. 

The battle lines of the Jacobites start to become somewhat fragmented.

Turn 4
The Jacobite Highlanders finally get their act together and advance towards the Guards brigade astride the London road. The Lowlanders and French start to become disentangled, but this allows the Trained Bands to deploy nicely across the hill as they do so. As Baggots Hussars probe around the wood, the Dragoons move towards them as quickly as they can.

The battle starts to take shape, as the Hanoverian flanks are slightly refused due to the Jacobite threat.
A firefight develops, with the Guards causing 3 hits on the highlanders but take 1 in return.
The Highlanders close in but are at risk from the Guards attached artillery.

Turn 5
Battle is well and truly joined as the Highlanders charge in, but suffer from closing fire and the Hanoverian artillery. In the melee, a Highlander units is destroyed but manages to force a Guards unit back to reform itself. The Highlander commander was killed, with his replacement a Ditherer rather than Dependable. Not what they really wanted. Elsewhere the French advance with Baggots Hussars evading the Hanoverian Dragoons charge.

The battle breaks up in the centre but the flanks are still under threat.
Two Hanoverian units are forced back as a result of Jacobite and French firing, resulting in them having to reform before being able to rejoin the fray.
The Highlanders have been taking a beating from the Guards brigade, with their centre and right flank severely disrupted.

Turn 6
The Trained Bands roll a Feeble command, resulting in them having to retire in the face of the enemy due to so many of their units already hainvg hits on them. The French and Lowlanders advance to take advantage of this tactical retreat. As the Dragoons retreat to support the centre and right flank, Baggots Hussars charge them in the flank. In a prolonged melee, Baggots Hussars come off worse and are destroyed. In the rally phase, one of the Trained Bands retreats off the table as they are unable to fall back far enough to reform.

The Highlanders in the centre fall back to try to reform at a safe distance. The Hanoverian right flank is under severe pressure and tries to stabilise itself as best it can.
Baggots Hussars charge in but come off worse, despite attacking the Dragoons in the flank.

Turn 7
The Highlanders charge in to try and put pressure on the Guards brigade, but come off very much the worse, with them retreating more or less en masse in an attempt to reform at a safe distance once again. The Trained Bands come under severe pressure as the French managed to flank them. An isolated Trained Band unit is caught in the flank but French fire, resulting in it being destroyed. As King George was close by, a stray musket ball hits him, killing him stone dead!!!

The (Hanoverian) King is dead, long live the (Stuart) King!
The moment that the campaign swung decisively in favour of the Jacobites. Despite the Highlanders having been driven off, the loss of the King and the Trained Bands hands victory to 'Bonnie Prince Charlie', who can hardly believe his luck.

Post Game Thoughts 
Well another cracking game of Honours of War and one that ended is such a dramatic and memorable fashion! It has certainly opened up a whole new set of possibilities for our narrative driven campaign, but more of that later. So as always a few post game musings;
  • This game really showed up the difference between Superior and Inferior troops. The Highlanders really struggled to make any impact on the Guards brigade, whilst the Trained Bands had a tough time against the French. 
  • Light Cavalry are very useful for slowing down attacking troops due to their ability to evade close combat.
  • The Dragoons suffered from being unable to get to grips with Baggots Hussars. My aim was to try and destroy them and then get around the Highlanders flank to threaten them if they were reforming etc. A lack of width and the evade ability of the Hussars prevented this from happening.
  • Inferior troops really suffer when they have to start reforming or when the Brigade has to retreat due to a Feeble command roll. Your whole flank can suddenly buckle as it did in this game. 
The Campaign Moving Forward
As the game finished quite late, Dave and I only had a brief moment to discuss future possibilites, but broadly some of the options might be:
  •  The North and parts of Wales rises up in support of the Jacobites, now that they see that they have killed the Hanoverian King.
  • Scotland might move over to supporting the Jacobites en masse.
  • The French seeing a suprising success for their Allies, commit more troops to support the new King, resulting in the War of the British succession'.
  • The Duke of Cumberland still has a sizeable and experienced army massing in the East of England and with him being the Hanoverian heir, is unlikely to give up his claim lightly. Civil war is a distinct possibility given the natural distrust of a Catholic King in large parts of Britain.
  • The American Colonies, fearful of a Catholic Monarch, send over troops to support the Duke of Cumberland.
So as you can see, plenty of options that can be explored. I'm sure we can come up with a few more but the above will give plenty of opportunities for the campaign to develop in lots of interesting ways.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Honours of War Website & Forum

In advance of the imminent release of 'Honours of War', the author Keith Flint, has set up a website and forum to support the rules. Naturally it is in its early stages, but there are already some scenarios available as well as some thoughts from Keith on how and why he developed these rules. 

Not long now until the rules are released, just in time for my birthday. I can't wait!

Friday 16 October 2015

The '45 Rebellion - Calamity at Carlisle

Following on from yet another Jacobite victory last week, the action has now moved on to Carlisle. The Jacobites having divided their forces, have sent one force towards Newcastle and the other towards Carlisle, in an attempt to confuse the Hanoverians. Our game is based upon the latter force, with some details below.

Hanoverian Force
Lt Col James Durand of the 1st Foot guards has been put in charge of the defence of Carlisle. A pretty thankless task given the poor quality troops at his disposal and lack of any meaningful defences around Carlisle. His only hope is that he can hold out long enough for some reinforcements from General Wade coming to his aid before he is overwhelmed by the Jacobite troops. At his disposal are:

1 x Carlisle Militia deployed as pickets on the outskirts of the town (Inferior)
2 x Invalids Infantry (Inferior)
1 x Light Artillery (Inferior)

General Wade is hoping to arrive with:

2 x Infantry (Standard)
1 x Artillery (Inferior)
1 x Light Dragoons (Inferior)

Jacobite Force
No idea other than their are thousands of them!

11th October 1745 - somewhere outside of Carlisle
The Town Militia have deployed along some hedges with a view towards the old Roman road that crosses one of the many small rivers that criss cross the local area. They know that they will be reinforced by the Invalid Infantry, so are fairly confident of their position. Through the early morning mist they can hear the Jacobites approaching and steel themselves in readiness for the battle...

Turn 1
The Jacobite advance guard of Lowlanders arrived and advanced down the road as quickly as they could. The Town Milita simply held their position.

The Jacobites would advance from the left table edge, whilst the Invalids would arrive from the bottom righ thand corner, representing the road from Carlisle. General Wade and his troops would arrive from the top right hand corner.
For once the Lowlanders move with some determination onto the battlefield.
The Town Milita await their foe behind the hedgerow.

Turn 2
After their advance in the first Turn, the Lowlanders reverted to type with a Poor command roll, leaving them to move off the road. The French promptly followed suit! Only the Highlanders played ball, rushing onto the table and advancing towards the river. Fortunately for the Town Militia the Invalids could be seen advancing from Carlisle, with flags flying and drums beating.

The Highlanders pour onto the table as the Invalids arrive in the nick of time.
Lt Col Durand at the head of his troops. What a magnificent sight!

Turn 3
The Jacobites appeared to be intent upon confusing the Hanoverians as once again, a Poor command roll left the Lowlanders just moving sideways as they were unable to advance towards the enemy. The Highlanders ignored their crab like cousins, rushing forward to try and get to grips with the enemy. Seeing an opportunity, the Town Milita turned and moved to bring their muskets to bear on the Highlanders left flank. As the invalids deployed across the road to meet the Highlander rush, the French made an Admirable command roll and quickly crossed the river. With no sign of General Wade, the Hanoverian right flank was in danger of being flanked early on in the engagement.

Battle is joined very quickly due to the Highlanders keeness to get to grips with the enemy.
Lt Col Durand forms his Invalids up as the Town Militia pour fire into the Highlanders flank, causing 3 hits.

Turn 4
The Lowlanders actually advanced forwards for once, obviously having been inspired by their kilted cousins. The Highlanders charged into combat as the Invalids tried to from a good defensive line. As the Town Militia turned to face the French in their rear, they were charged by some Highlanders, which put them in a somewhat precarious positon. The Hanoverians really needed General Wade to appear, but there was still no sign of him and his troops.

The masses of Jacobites trrops can clearly be seen as the Hanoverians face assaults to their front and flank.
The Invalids look towards a large number of Jacobite reinforcements as battle is joined to their right.
The Highlanders charge into the Town Militia...
...who somehow survive the engagement and destroy the Highlanders in the process!
The Jacobite commander is looking pensive as things are finely balanced.

Turn 5
Yet again the Lowlanders make a Poor command roll, and once more move crab like around the table, possibly mesmerising the Hanoverians who cannot make head nor tail of this strategy. As General Wade finally arrives, the Jacobites charge in, only for a unit to be destroyed by closing fire and following artillery fire. The Brigade commander succumbs to his wounds, being replaced by a Dithering commander. Although an undoubted blow to the Jacobites, the Hanoverians lose the Town Militia and a unit of the invalids. Things are now definitely hanging in the balance for both sides.

The engagement takes on an almost Napoleonic feel as troops are spread all over the table.
Both sides have taken losses in the centre.
General Wade's arrival could tip the balance in favour of the Hanoverians.

Turn 6
Unbelievably the Lowlanders roll yet another Poor command and crab about the table. This appears to be their default manouevre as this is not the first battle that they have done this. As General Wade continues his advance, the Highlanders and French push forward to try and inflict as much damage as they can before Wade arrives.

The Lowlanders left high and dry as the rest of the Jacobites force takes the battle to the Hanoverians. Wade is still too far away to be an immediate threat to the Jacobites.
The Invalids lose their artillery unit as the French and Highlanders close in for the kill.

Turn 7
In a turn up for the books, the Lowlanders advance! Sadly General Wade rolls a Poor command and this hands the initiative to the Jacobites, who seize the opportunity and start to move towards Carlisle.

The Highlanders start to make for Carlisle as the Invalids are charged in the flank and General Wade is too far away to help. Things are not looking good for the Hanoverians.
Carlisle here we come!

Turn 8
Exhausted by their advance, the Lowlanders once again roll a Poor command and crab about. Words fail me to be honest. Despite General Wade's advance, he cannot prevent the Highlanders exiting the table.

The Jacobites appear to be close to victory.

Turn 9
As General Wade rolls a Poor command once again, the Lowlanders advance once all danger appears to have passed.

Short of a miracle, the Jacobites appear to have gained Carlisle.

Turn 10
In a last ditch attempt, the Hanoverian Dragoons move towards  the French in a valiant attempt to stop the Jacobites.

General Wade forms his troops up, ready to try and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Turn 11
The last throw of the die fails for the Hanoverians. The Jacobites win the fire initiative and the Lowlanders (yes they actually did something) destroy a unit of regulars as well as sending the Dragoons reeling in disarray. Carlisle is theirs for the taking.

As both sides close for the final time...
...the Jacobites come off better, leading to a decisive win for them.

Post Game Thoughts 
Well that was an absolutely cracking game! One of the best games I've had in quite some time. It was certainly full of action, looked great and could have gone either way. So as always a few thoughts:
  • These rules really are the Poodles Privates. We have yet to find anything broken with them, despite trying out various types of scenarios, troops, situations etc. You'd be foolish not to buy them IMHO. 
  • The Jacobite Lowlanders once again made it hard for the Hanoverians to  gain the upper hand. If they had advanced as planned, they may come under enough fire to make it hard for the Jacobites to gain victory due to their Inferior status. Their crabbing about was certainly amusing and caused much comment throughout the game.
  • If General Wade had been able to arrive a bit earlier and had not rolled a couple of Poor commands, the game might have been even more exciting than it was. 
  • I was nice to be able to have a game with a bit more scenery on it. Not only does it look nicer, but it also adds another dimension to the movement of both sides.
  • It shows that you can have a great game on a small table with relatively few units. We both felt that this game had plenty of action and manouevre, yet was played out on a 4'x4' table and in under 2 hours. What's not to like?
So far the games have followed the historical campaign which is nice. Next up is Derby, which should be played out in a couple of weeks. We also thought that this could make for a nice 'what if?' type campaign, with the French providing more support and the Prussians coming to the aid of the Hanoverians. Maybe this is something for another day...

Sunday 11 October 2015

The '45 Rebellion - Prestonpans Take 2 part II

After the previous weeks encounter, we decided to carry on with the game, but from the point  where the Hanoverian troops started their planned withdrawl. Notes were once again sketchy so annoted pics will have to suffice I'm afraid.

With the Scottish left flank reforming, the Hanoverians saw their main threat from the Scottish right. With the Dragoons reformed but far away, the planned withdrawl was going to be tricky...
Immediately the Hanoverian centre came under pressure as the Scottish Lowlanders reappeared in the centre and the Scottish right flank moved smartly to threaten the line of retreat. Fortunately the Dragoons came galloping to the rescue to try and reinforce the Hanoverian left flank.
All too quickly things went the way of the Scots, as they were able to bring pressure to bear from three sides. Some swift fire and close combat saw the Sottish cavalry retreat through the village of Dun Roamin. But would it be enough to stop the Scots?
The Scots won the die roll for the firing initiative and poured massed volleys into the Hanoverian centre unit. With some superb die rolling (two 5's and a 3) they succumbed to the hail of lead that came their way. Once again the hands of God appeared...
... and with a very English sign at the end of it!
The Scots quickly moved in for the kill...
... with the Hanoverians leaving their guns behind as they attempted to retreat in the face of the enemy.
Unsuprisingly the Scots were able to force the Hanoverians back.
The Hanovrians in full retreat, leaving the Scots in complete control of the battlefield.
The Hanoverian Dragoons choosing to 'live to fight another day'.

Post Game Thoughts
Despite a completely one sided game, it was never-the-less enjoyable. So a few points to note:
  • The Hanoverians were unable to win the movement Initiative, leading to them rapidly becoming trapped by the advancing Scottish Flank Brigades. This forced them to stand and fight, something that I was desperately trying to avoid.
  • The Scots winning the Fire Initiative roll and then rolling some superb die rolls turned the game in their favour in one roll of the die as it were. With the central unit of the Hanoverian Brigade gone, all chance on holding the Scots went out of the window.
  • The Hanoverians having to abandon their guns has handed the Scots a nice little bonus in terms of the campaign.
  • Inferior artillery units really are very ineffective, but fit in much better with the historical performance of these units at this point of the campaign.
So next game we decided that the Hanoverians have abandoned Scotland and are retreating towards Newcastle. The Scots have split their forces and are raiding towards Carlisle, with the Hanoverians sending troops to protect the town and surrounding countryside. Details to be decided but there should be more scenery on the table to represent the more fertile areas being attacked.