Friday 16 September 2016

Roamin' in the Gloamin' - an HoW 'The '45' AAR

Well as planned Keith, Dave and I met up to have another game in our mini narrative driven campaign set during 'The '45'. After some thought I came up with the following scenario, based upon Scenario 25: Chance Encounter from 'Scenarios for All Ages' by Grant & Asquith:

Background Fluff
  • The Hanoverians, with their Lines of Communication somewhat stretched and exposed at the Cumberland Gap, are heading back towards the main force.
  • The Jacobites and French, although bloodied after the Cumberland Gap, are still a force to be reckoned with and have stolen a march on the Hanoverians and are determined to sever their LoC.
  • In the Clyde river valley, both sides are heading towards an important bridge that will allow the Hanoverians to haul their artillery across a small river.
  • However both sides are unaware of each other due to early morning mist. As this lifts, the game commences...
  • The objective is to be in control of both sides of the bridge or to have destroyed the enemies ability to fight..
Hanoverian OOB
1 x HQ (Dependable)
1 x Standard Infantry
1 x Militia (Inferior)
1 x Light Gun (Standard)
1 x Light Gun (Inferior)
1 x Light Infantry (Standard & Independent)

1 x HQ (Dithering)
1 x Standard Infantry
3 x Militia (Inferior)
1 x Light Gun (Standard)
1 x Dragoons (Standard & Independent)

Jacobites OOB
1 x HQ (Dependable)
4 x Highlanders

French & Lowland Scots OOB
1 x HQ (Dithering)
2 x Standard French Infantry
2 x Lowland Scots (Inferior)
1 x Light Gun (Inferior)
1 x Light Infantry (Standard & Independent)

Both sides randomly roll to see where their forces appear along their respective roads. All forces start the game in column of march.

Sadly I failed to make any notes of what transpired during the game, but hopefully the captioned pictures will suffice to give a feeling of how the game played out. 

Like ships passing in the night, both sides are blissfully unaware of each other, or for that matter, where the bridge is!
Keith and Dave in jocular mood and obviously confident that they will win prior to the start of the game.
The French and Lowland Division are in the NW corner, with the Highlanders in the NE one. The 'weaker' Hanoverian troops are in the SW corner with the nominally 'stronger' troops by the road leading to the bridge.
As the mist lifts both sides quickly deploy into line.
The Hanoverians form a thin red line whilst the French and Lowland Scots come on in supported 'attack columns'. Only the Light troops fail to advance, which will become a theme for most of the game.
The Highlanders face a potentially formidable gun line.
As both sides close, battle is joined as shots ring out all along the line.
The Hanoverian shooting causes 3 hits apiece on the French and Lowland Scot front line...
... whilst the Highlanders take less hits, but at least hits have been scored. The Hanoverian Light troops push forward to act as a Forlorn Hope to hopefully slow down the Highlanders.
The action really hots up all across the front lines.
The French and Lowland Scots casualties mount up, leaving them unable to effectively fight back against the Hanoverians. On the right flank a unit moves back to offer a refused flank as protection in case the Highlanders break through.
As the Highlanders cross the Clyde, they make short shrift of the Forlorn Hope, but as the crash into the next line of troops...
... Mutually Assured Destruction takes place.
The French and Lowland Scots cannot prosecute their attacks whilst the Highlanders attack fragments.
The Hanoverian line holds firm.
Mutually Assured Destruction Part 2 as the Highlanders break through in the centre...
... but become isolated and unable to shoot any more.
With the Highlanders a spent force, the French and Lowland Scots start to withdraw...
... persued by the Hanoverians.
With the Highlanders spent and isolated...
... one unit heads South towards the salubrious delights of Derby!

At this point we called it a day as the French and Jacobites were in no position to continue the fight.

Post Game Thoughts
Well as always it was an enjoyable game with Dave and Keith. Sadly it was a bit one sided but we learnt a lot from the game, which was useful as we were still playtesting the rules for the '45. Some points from the game can be found below:
  • For the Jacobites to have a reasonable chance, they need to outnumber the Hanoverian troops. The scenario called for equal forces, but frankly this didn't work in this game. How much they need to outnumber them is hard to say. 
  • The Highlanders really need to be supported by other line troops so that their shock value can be used to its best ability. In our game, once they had charged in, they wereeffectively a spent force as they could no longer fire.
  • I think that the Hanoverians had too many artillery units. This was a hangover from the first game. Even reducing one to Inferior didn't balance things out much. A whiff of grapeshot at close range is always going to hurt. I think early on all the Hanoverian artillery should be Inferior.
  • The Hanoverian Left Flank, by winning the first Fire initiative and getting some good die rolls in, were able to stop the French and Lowland Scots dead in their tracks and from which they were never able to fully recover. It could so easily have been the other way round.
  • Keith's die rolling to get his Light troops into support didn't help his cause. Four '1s' in a row had us all suprised and a few Anglo-Saxon expletives naturally ushered forth. When it did get into action in Turn 5, it managed to cause 2 hits with its first volley. Sadly too late to affect the outcome of the battle.
  • Ditto being unable to bring his sole artillery unit closer meant that it was quite ineffective for most of the game. 
  • Converting scenarios to this period is quite tricky, as we found out in this game. Most call for a mix of Line, Light Infantry, Light & Heavy Cavalry and Artillery. During 'The '45', there is a distinct lack of cavalry of all types which I think makes it harder to get a good scenario balance with the forces available. A regular Seven Years War or Napoleonic game in contrast readily fits in as all of the forces are there. Nevertheless, the scenarios are still useful starting point for a game and I will continue to reference them in the future.

We now have a break for a week or so due to work commitments, but next up might be a 'proper' SYW game, possibly British vs French...

Friday 9 September 2016

16 Miles to the Cumberland Gap - an Honours of War 'The '45' Game

As planned Dave and I were able to meet up for the next game of our narrative driven mini-campaign set during the '45. Given the outcome of last weeks game, I decided to base the next scenario on 'Reinforcements in Defence:15' from 'Scenarios for Wargames' by CS Grant. 

Scenario Details.
Having been defeated at Dunroamin, the Hanoverian force has retreated to the Cumberland Gap, a range of hills overlooking Dunroamin, to form a defensive position, where they await reinforcements. Heavily outnumbered by the Jacobites and their French Allies, their position is untenable unless reinforced. Fortunately news of the defeat has reached Lt Col James 'Lonnie' Donegan, who has set off in the night and by forced march hopes to cover the 16 miles to the Cumberland Gap before the Jacobites can take the position.

For the Jacobites and French, they spent the night enjoying neeps and tatties (well maybe not the French) in Dunroamin, when word reaches them that a relief force is on its way. With no time to lose, they hastily assemble, ready to march out and take control of the Cumberland Gap

The hills of the Cumberland Gap that are slightly closer to Dunroamin than to the Hanoverian relief column. He who controls the hills wins the game. Simples.

Hanoverian Cumberland Gap OOB (broadly the force that was routed at Dunroamin, minus 'casualties' from previous game)
1 x HQ
1 x Standard Infantry
1 x Militia (Inferior)
2 x Light Guns
1 x Light Infantry (Independent)

Hanoverian Relief Column OOB
1 x HQ
3 x Standard infantry
1 x Militia (Inferior)
1 x Light gun
1 x Light Infantry (Independent)
1 x Dragoons (Standard & Independent)

Jacobites & French Allies OOB
1 x HQ
2 x Standard French Infantry
2 x Lowland Scots Infantry (Inferior)
1 x Light Gun
1 x Light Infantry (Independent)

1 x HQ
4 x Highlanders (one unit can be upgraded to the point of honour)
1 x Cavalry (Small & Inferior)

Apart from the Hanoverian troops on the hills at the Cumberland Gap, all othe troops deploy on roads or in Dunroamin in column of march. Independent units can deploy anywhere along their table edge. Lt Col Donegan's Relief column automatically wins the first movement initiative. 

An overall view of the battlefield, with Dunroamin in the NW corner of the table.
The Hanoverian troops, spread thinly over the hills of the Cumberland Gap, await the Jacobites and french with nore than a touch of trepidation.

Turn 1
Things got off to a bad start for the Hanoverians as Lt Col Donegan, having rolled a 'Dithering' commander, failed to move onto the table. Not exactly that the start that the Hanoverians had hoped for. In contrast the Jacobites and French moved smartly onto the table.

The Jacobites and French quickly deploy into line, ready to advance forward.
With no sign of reinforcements, the Hanoverians nervously await the inevitable onslaught.

'Dithering' Donegan once again failed to show up, handing the advantage over to the Jacobites, who took their opportunity to advance on a broad front. A lone cannon shot rang out from the hanoverian lines, inflicting one hit on the Highlanders. At least it helped buoy up the spirits of the beleaguered troops.

Still no sign of Lt Col Donegan and his relief force.
Not quite a thin red line, but not too far off.
The cannon that helped with the Hanoverian morale.

Turn 3
Finally Lt Col Donegan arrives and not a moment too late! Maybe his arrival unnerved the French and Lowland Division, as they failed their command roll. On the Jacobite right flank, the Highlanders advanced and pushed forward their cavalry who tried to assault the Hanoverian left flank, only to be destroyed in the process.

The Hanoverian reinforcements finally arrive as the Highlanders manouevre ready to launch an assault on the hill.
The brave (or foolish) Jacobite cavlry are destroyed as they assault the Hanoverian left flank, who managed to turn to meet the threat.
The relief column advances rapidly towards the Cumberland Gap.

Turn 4
A disasterous Turn for the Jacobites and French as they both fail their command rolls! Lt Col Donegan quickly shakes his troops out into line to reinforce the threatened left flank. With the Highlanders hidden from view at the bottom of the hill, their is no shooting.

The Jacobite attack stall at an inopportune moment.
The relief force starts to deploy...
... with their objective the hill to their front.

Turn 5
Once again the Highlanders fail their command roll, but in typical fashion crab sideways to keep themselves warm. The Hanoverian troops on the hill turn to prevent themselves being flanked, but in the process leave a flank hanging in the air. The relief force also fails their command roll and jusr dresses ranks instead.

The attack fails to develop as expected.
The Highlanders simply cannot get up the hill...
... and neither can the Relief force.

Turn 6
Finally the Highlanders managed to advance, but crucially the French fail their command roll, just as they were preparing to assault the open Hanoverian flank. In an exchange of fire, the Hanoverian Militia are pushed back off the hill.

All of the action is over on the Hanoverian left flank.
The Hanoverians are pushed back off the hill.

Turn 7
The Highlanders manage to charge in (actually they failed but we wanted to test the Highland Charge and were running out ot time) and close with the Hanoverians. It feels that this will be the crucial part of the battle.

As the Highlanders charge across the hill, the French and Lowland division try to pin the Hanoverian centre and right flank.
The Hanoverians are pushed back by the ferocity of the Highland Charge.
Things get up close and personal.
Highlanders ready to charge in the next Turn.

Turn 8
The battle reaches its climax as both sides are engaged right across the battlefield.

The battle reaches its decisive phase.
A brutal fight sees...
... both sides destroyed.
On the right flank the Hanoverian Dragoons bravely charge in...
... destroying the Lowland Scots.
Both sides battlelines are somewhat disordered...
... with the Hanoverians in control of their right flank as the Lowland Scots are in no psition to continue with their attacks and the French are outnumbered...
... whilst the Highlanders are spent after their charges and are also in no position to prosecute further attacks.

Sadly at this point time ran out for us. Looking at the table, we both agreed that the Hanoverians were in a better position and, with the Highlanders unable to shoot again, we declared them to be the winners.
Post Game Thoughts
Well that was a cracking game full of great action and a close call right to the end. Exactly what you want in a game. So as always some post game thoughts:
  •  I think that once again playing with 10mm figures shows that you can have a great game on a relatively small table, yet still have the feel of a big battle. Just perfect for an evenings gaming.
  • Both sides suffered from failed command rolls at crucial points in the game. I think this affected the Jacobites and French much more, especially the Highlanders who simply could not get close enough to launch their infamous charge before the Hanoverian reinforcements arrived to shore up their weak position.
  • The Highland Charge is devastating, but is also vulnerable to shooting as it receives closing fire. In the game one unit was pushed back by said closing fire whilst another managed to assault, pushing the Hanoverian troops back. This is still a work in progress, but still requires some more playtesting.
  • The Hanoverian strong point is their advantage in artillery. This really helped in this game and certainly contributed in large part to the Hanoverian win. 
  • Another advantage, although somewhat smaller, is their better cavalry. It allows the Hanoverian player to help threaten flanks and isolated units, something that the Jacobite player struggles to do. 

For our next game we have the pleasure of my good friend Keith Flint, the author of Honours of War, coming over to take on the roll of the Highlander commander, to help playtest the rules. It should make for a good nights gaming. So all I now have to do is select as suitable scenario. Time to look through my books once again...