Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Bloody Peninsula Stalemate

The French in possession of the ridge? What is going on?

Another game at the club, and this time I gave the French a go in another battle in the Iberian Peninsula. Amazingly, it was the debut of my Italian infantry which I painted late last year! I was able to take Bill up on his challenge from last game, which was postponed when I had to switch to partner him on the Allied side against the Westphalians. This time I faced his Anglo-Portuguese forces alongside Darren's bicorne era French. Bill was partnered by Quinny and his Anglo-Portuguese in a welcome return to his comfort zone!

In a topsy-turvy battle, the French ended up in control of the ridge, and Quinny even broke the cardinal rule of playing British infantry and charge a battalion while still in column! My battle was mainly against Bill and his Anglo-Portuguese division, which seemed to be based on Picton's 3rd Division, as it had some heavy hitters in it like the 88th Connaught Rangers, which in our rules are a named unit (meaning they are better than a run-of-the-mill line infantry battalion). Darren's pre-1808 uniformed infantry took on Quinny's Anglo-Portuguese forces in a tussle for control of the central ridge, with Quinny complaining about the multiple levels of the hill (more evidence of the upside-down nature of the game; who ever heard of a British commander complaining about the topography? (-: ).

My French command

French infantry

Polish cavalry

Italian infantry (including the 3 battalions getting their baptism of fire!)

Bill's Anglo-Portuguese

Darren sets up on my right, facing Quinny's Anglo-Portuguese.


Quinny's KGL Hussars.

The Anglo-Portuguese won the initiative and got to move off first. Bill had the worst of it as farmland lay in the way of his objectives; the occupation of the built up areas separating the two opposing sides. He fell short of two of the BUAs in his turn and I cheekily snuck one of my battalions into the BUA on my left under his nose! My horse gun battery set up on the hill to add support, while my Vistula Lancers lurked behind the hill in support of the battery. That battery proved crucial in securing that flank as, for once, nearly every shot found its mark.

Bill's Portuguese just falls short of the nearest BUA (maybe if they were standing up they would have moved quicker!)

My chaps snatch the closest BUA from under the Portugueses' noses!

The lancers throw out a vedette while the infantry march ahead in closed column, supporting the horse gun battery which has just unlimbered.

I planned on holding the left flank and try to suck Bill into disputing the village, but like all plans it didn't really survive contact with the enemy! I had a good combined arms threat in the centre with a small hussar regiment tucked in among the infantry. The allies didn't have any cavalry to counter the threat in this quarter, so their infantry was stuck in an anti-cavalry defensive posture. This allowed me to move my infantry and foot battery up to "soften up" the closest BUA before putting in a charge with my strongest infantry battalions. I judged that my charge approach would take me outside the 3" close range of the next BUA, but my judgement was faulty; It was well inside the 3" range and the flank fire from grenadier rated infantry stopped my charge in its tracks. The following morale test resulted in both battalions breaking. Curse you, imperial measurement!

The foot gun battery blasts away at the approaching British infantry column...

...while my French cavalry make them think twice about advancing any further!

One British regiment secures the BUA, while the other squares up in the face of the cavalry.

Darren's troops conform to the line of my leading troops, while Quinny's troops advance further down the ridge.

An aerial view of Bill's troops on the left of the table. Note the cavalry in the top right coming to the rescue of the troops in the centre.

After an earlier stoush with Bill's cavalry, my Polish lancers get hammered by the British artillery. Time to reverse to the shelter of the woods!
Applying pressure to the nearest BUA. The artillery softens up the target...

...before the charge goes in!
Flank fire from the adjacent BUA proves costly, though.

Failed morale check and the troops bolt!

Time to re-establish the line before the British can exploit the failure.

Old Nosey himself!

The scales turn with the appearance of British cavalry in the centre.

Out on the left flank, Bill charged a single battalion in column which I met with two of my own, much larger, columns. With the success of my counter-attack, the two columns were in danger of being outflanked by the rest of Bill's troops. In a move that could have been fatal for my battle, I moved the battalion from the only BUA the French occupied out into the open in line to support the right flank of the successful columns. I quickly found out how good Bill's British infantry was when he moved one up in line and engaged the line in a firefight. The overwhelming firepower forced the line back and exposed the flank of the columns even worse by allowing the enemy to occupy the vacant BUA! D'oh!

Bill learns the hard way not to charge a single, narrow fronted Anglo-Portuguese battalion against multiple, much wider French battalions!

Abandoning the BUA in the face of superior firepower; not a good idea in hindsight!

In a further blow to my chances of victory, Bill moved some of his cavalry from the flank to the centre in order to neutralise the cavalry threat which had pinned his infantry in place. The ensuing cavalry clash ended with my hussars fleeing the field, and the infantry already in retreat from their failed assault getting caught in the rear by the British cavalry's breakthrough move. Quel désastre!

Charge and counter-charge meet in the middle with unfortunate results for the French!

Not to worry! A dose of musketry in the flank will put things right.

I managed to restabilise the centre after dispatching the British cavalry with a blast of musketry, but now the left flank seemed to be under pressure. Bill's artillery was threatening to whittle away my lancers, opening my infantry to an onslaught. I pivoted the cavalry line to the shelter of the heavy woods, but Bill sent a column of infantry through the woods in order to outflank them. They made heavy weather through the woods and by the time they emerged on the other side, were ripe for attack!

Quinny looking unimpressed, while my gunners continue to pepper the near BUA.

The general attempts to rally one of the battalions which failed to charge home and then got collected in the British cavalry charge. They were beyond control, however, and continued bolting to the rear, to play no more part in the battle.

A lone Italian battalion out ahead of the rest as the British establish a line of their own.

After bringing the Italians back, my line solidifies on the ridge in preparation for the next move.

On the left flank, however, things look set to unravel. The horse gun battery, however, was giving sterling service, inflicting casualties with every shot!
Note Bill's infantry struggling through the woods at the top of the picture.

By the time they emerge, covered in scratches and leaves from the heavy woods, the Polish lancers are ready for them!


The British infantry turn and run, but the woods block any chance of taking the breakthrough, and leave the cavalry at the tender mercies of the artillery!

Darren was making steady progress on the right flank and managed to get in the flank of one of Quinny's lines. The broken terrain on the summit of the ridge was breaking up Quinny's lines and allowing Darren to exploit the flanks of units which advanced too far over the ridge.

Darren moves up on the ridge, following up a previous successful attack. The British line at the top of the picture is in trouble as Darren has a column in its flank.

Under the cover of a battalion in line...

...the other battalions surge into the flank and rear of the threatened British line!

The view of the battlefield from the left flank, as Darren moves his troops and Quinny looks on.

I tried another attack on the nearest BUA, but Bill had exchanged the battered Portuguese battalion holding it, with a fresh British battalion. This time, I tried screening the attackers from the firepower of the adjacent BUA, to no avail. Even with the magic 3:1 ratio, my dice weren't up to the challenge and the attack faltered again.

The second charge on the BUA is again repulsed. This time I moved a column up to cover the charge from flank fire from the adjacent building. It got mauled and was lucky to survive the resulting morale test!

Meanwhile, Quinny broke the cardinal rule of playing British and charged two of his battalions in column, While my two columns counter-charged to meet his charge, they couldn't match the ferocity of the British attack and ran! The infantry in the the second row formed line to face the British columns (more evidence of a world turned upside down!). After getting rid of a line protecting the British flank, Darren unleashed a volley on the flank of the nearest column, sending it running.

Sacrilege! Quinny charges two battalion in column, to be met by two of my own. Maybe I should have stood and fired? Anyway, the British were successful (or lucky?).

They ended up in between a rock and a hard place, though!

Darren's troops continue causing havoc in the flank of Quinny's line. This time it's the Portuguese's turn...

...and now the British.

One of the two columns which successfully charged mine is met with flank fire from Darren's line in the broken ground.

It fails the resulting morale check and runs!

With no knock-out blow landed by either side and time running out, the game was declared a draw. (However, if control of the ridge was the objective, then I reckon we could say that the French won!)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spanish Hold Fast!

¡Viva los valientes!
In a long delayed return to the club, I took part in a game at the last Croydon meeting with Bill and Baden against Jim and John R, where Bill, Baden and I played the Anglo-Iberian forces against John and Jim's Franco-Westphalian forces. The Spanish started on the board, occupying a central village, while both sides had an advanced guard starting on the edges of the board.

With Baden a late joiner, I took control of the Spanish, while he took over my Anglo-Portuguese element. Bill controlled his separate Anglo-Portuguese force.

While my Spaniards held all the built-up areas of the town, I still had a substantial reserve and a big force of John's guerrillas. I had several small units of cavalry which I planned to use as a nuisance force against enemy infantry. Which would have been a clever plan, had the enemy advance guard not been almost exclusively cavalry. Good news for my infantry, but not so good for my teeny-tiny cavalry units!

Baden's advanced guard

The Spaniards holding the town...

...and their reserve.


Allies move off first.

The enemy!

The cavalry moves up the reverse slope.

My spanish lancers suddenly find themselves in a bit of bother...

...which included close range artillery form the ridgeline!

The anchored line forms on the village's left flank with the Walloon Guards anchored by the square of light infantry.
Baden's light dragoons and horse battery move up to protect the Spanish flank.

On the other flank, Bill's Portuguese and British light infantry move up, supported by more light dragoons.

The guerrilleros fan out into double skirmish line in front of the town.

I thought that I was going to be in all sorts of bother until Baden's advance guard turned up, but with my best troops in an anchored line, they were relatively safe from the hordes of enemy cavalry. My cavalry weren't so lucky! As we won the initiative, I sent my Extremadura lancers to see what was over the rise to the front. They soon found out! They were soon sent packing as French hussars and a horse gun battery set themselves up right in front of them. After losing a figure to artillery fire and failing their morale test (run away!), John charged his hussars at the rest of my hapless cavalry (run away, again!) and cleaned them all up in the process of one charge and its follow-through! However, my gunners had fled to the safety of the adjacent square and my converged grenadier battalion was on had to fire into the flank of the now stranded hussars and encourage them to decamp to their lines. Baden had managed to square up his infantry in the danger zone, so didn't suffer any adverse effects of the rampaging hussars, so despite the loss of some puny cavalry, we came out of it relatively unscathed.

My lancers suffer a casualty from artillery fire and fail their morale test!

That's the signal for John's hussars to charge at my artillery, forcing the Spanish dragoons to counter-charge.

Even though my cavalry was in line and his were still deploying from column, his better quality coupled with better dice rolling resulted in the dragoons being smashed and breaking for the hills.

The gunners managed to shelter in the adjacent square during the cavalry scrap.

The victorious hussars carried on into the hapless heavy cavalry, who were caught flat-footed.

When I rolled this...

...and John rolled this, it could only result in one thing:

Fortunately, Baden's infantry were made of sterner stuff and squared up before the hussars made contact.

After bouncing off the infantry squares, the hussars were caught between a rock and a hard place; or the horse battery and the converged grenadier battalion!

The artillery missed, but the grenadiers' shot to the flank of the cavalry had the desired effect; the resulting morale test caused them to retreat behind their own lines.

The problem now was to survive the incessant artillery fire raining down from the ridgeline. The square of light infantry anchoring one end of the anchored line eventually lost 30% casualties, but survived the morale test. I replaced them with the grenadiers who began copping casualties almost immediately. A counter-battery duel seemed to be a good idea, as the Spanish guns were heavier and more numerous, but John brought up more guns until I was outgunned. Even the eventual addition of Baden's batteries couldn't outgun the enemy, once John brought up his 12 pounder battery with the arrival of his main body.

The artillery crew safely remanned the battery and continued firing on the enemy.

After the light infantry square was targeted by the enemy, it was time to remove them from the anchored line and replace them with the grenadiers in closed column.

The enemy infantry turned out to be mainly Westphalian, (though John also had what seemed to be an entire fleet's worth of Sailors of the Guard) and immediately showed that they are not made for Iberian conditions: Jim charged Bill's Portuguese cacadores who sheltered behind a stone wall and then decided the better of it after failing their pre-combat morale check. John advanced a brigade's worth of infantry at the village, while my guerrillas wasted a lot of powder trying to skirmish against them. He had peeled off one battalion and positioned it in line to screen the advance of the rest, so this was the unit the guerrillas potted away at. Surprisingly, they actually managed to add a disorder or two on the line. If I wasn't going to stand idly by and allow John a free swipe at the town, now was the time to do something about it. I now had rear and flank support in the shape of Baden's troops, so I decided to throw the Walloon Guards into the fray. They boldly marched up to the Westphalian line and launched a blistering firefight. Though I was outnumbered, my quality was a lot better. I knocked off a couple of his figures to the loss of only one, and survived the resulting morale test, while the Westphalians didn't. They retired from the field, leaving the approach of the other units to the village vulnerable to attack.
The enemy's main body rolled to enter the board!

Jim juggles the cavalry to make way for his infantry on their right

John's main body moves up the reverse slope.

Yikes! Cuirassiers!

Well, hello sailor!

The guerrillieros feel discretion is the better part of valour and retire behind the town.

Baden's main body arrives on the board and combines with the advanced guard: the Portuguese foot battery unlimbers next to the horse battery.

John's position on the ridge line also has cavalry backed artillery batteries.

Jim's cavalry audaciously charge their opponents, dismissing the infantry fire on their flank...

...to smash into the light dragoons, who were caught flat-footed!

The results were inconclusive, with both sides retiring, but Jim had forced Bill's artillery crew to abandon their guns.

Baden's cacadores in square were attracting artillery fire and suffering accordingly.

John's Westphalian infantry begin their approach, breasting the ridge...

...and fanning out into line.

The guerrillas, having plucked up their courage, advance on the enemy but only waste their powder.

Baden's British line infantry moves up in square on the Spanish flank...

...filling the gap between the Spanish and Anglo-Portuguese batteries.

More British line infantry moves up on the outer left flank.

John's Westphalian columns advance behind the cover of the battalion in line.

Their target obvious!

La Marins advance behind

The guerrillas desperately pop away at the advancing enemy, to no effect!

Out on the far flank, Bill's light dragoons get handled roughly by the Westphalian cuirassiers.

Jim's charge on Bill's cacadores, however, falls at the last hurdle (so to speak!) and halts at 2" with disorders!

John's infantry line moves to protect the approach of the rest of the brigade. The guerrillas finally land a punch and inflict a disorder on all the infantry to their front! Finally!

That's the signal for the Walloon Guard to march forward and engage the enemy in a firefight! Blammo!
The line of Walloon Guards was dangerously exposed to a cavalry counter attack, so I brought up the light infantry and grenadiers in closed column on either flank to re-establish the anchored line. John's artillery soon put the light infantry to flight, leaving the Walloons vulnerable to losses from the big 12 pounder battery. They lost their magic 30% and failed their morale check dismally, bolting to the rear. But I couldn't be too disheartened, as they'd done their job and messed up John's preparations to assault the village. By this time, Baden's Anglo-Portuguese had come up and were holding the line to the left of the village, and were even preparing a combined arms  move around the enemy artillery's flank.
The resulting casualties and morale check cause the Westphalians to retire, while the Walloons retain the field. Huzzah!
The line's supports move up on either flank in closed column to anchor it against possible cavalry attack.

Behind them, British and Portuguese columns of the rearguard supply rear support.

On the far left flank, Baden starts a flanking manoeuvre with infantry and heavy cavalry. 

The Portuguese and highlanders form up beside the Spanish held village.


The grenadiers crack after suffering more losses from artillery fire and failing their morale test, leaving the Walloons' flank exposed.

The Walloons soon follow after suffering too many casualties.

The remaining closed column of light infantry are attacked and soon follow the others!

However, the battered grenadiers recover to threaten the Wesphalians' flank.

The game ended with the Spanish still safely ensconced in the town with Anglo-Portuguese support on both flanks. The Westphalian infantry seemed to have spent themselves in attack, but there was still the Sailors of the Guard who were yet to be committed. As the Franco-Westphalians had failed to take the town, it was technically an Anglo-Iberian victory, but the battle still had a way to go before a clear result was possible. Time was the victor in the end!
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