Category Archives: Napoleonic

Field of Battle 2 Napoleonic (27/05/12 – Nick) Pt 2

The French won the next leader roll off by 5 so I got to turn another 5 cards. First card up and an even command roll allowed my heavy cavalry brigade to charge the Portuguese battalion who had not formed square. Though these were raw troops, they had rolled well in the pre-game sequence and had a decent combat rating, so they had a fair chance of driving the dragoons off by fire alone – unfortunately they failed and were ridden down by the dragoons leading the charge. However I was unable to draw any cards to follow up my success, and the British first card drawn was artillery reload so they blasted the already wounded dragoons to kingdom come at short range.

Cazadores about to die

Nick used his next melee card to charge one of my columns with his Cazadores, but poor rolling on his part and really lucky rolls on mine saw the Cazadores disintegrate in melee. We then went through a few phases of close leadership rolls resulting on turning only 1 or 2 cards each at a time, mostly resulting in firefights and artillery exchanges. In a move straight out of Sharpe, the 95th Rifles rushed to take up position on the flank (but not quite behind the flank) of the Hussars and gave them a volley – the volley took 2 UI off the Hussars who already had 2 UI against them, wiping them out and completing the destruction of the Light Cavalry brigade. This provoked a discussion on why you would ever deploy the Rifles in skirmish order as with a 15″ range (compared to the 6″ of smoothbores) they are really effective in the role of line infantry.

Then, with 5 cards left in my deck I managed to win a leadership roll by 6, so I would get to turn my cards and the turn would end before Nick got to turn his. There were some lull cards in there which Nick managed to seize the initiative on, but I did manage to draw a move card and on an even roll charged the cuirassiers into the Portuguese battalion which had filled the gap in the line left when the previous battalion had perished.  Unfortunately for me this battalion succeeded where all the others had failed – it drove off the cream of the French cavalry through firepower, and the cavalry fell back to re-group. Also on this move card I rolled high for most other command groups – this allowed me to redeploy one of my infantry brigades to the left flank ready to crush the British troops there. I also managed to rally my cuirassiers and take the 2 UI off of them  on a leadership card.

So, at the start of turn 2 things were looking good for the French, and though the British cavalry were set to arrive, I was ahead on army morale points and the British were only 2 away from being spent. Then things started to go badly wrong (for me anyway). After previously competing well for the leadership roll (with a D10 verses a D12+1), I lost the first roll of turn 2 badly and Nick got to draw 8 cards. Tactical advantage and infantry firepower cards got the turn off to a slow start, but next up was a melee card. The remaining unit of Highlanders in column (very un-British – wot?) attacked the French line which had formed to defend the left flank while the rest of the army re-deployed. A volley from each regiment saw off the Highlanders, but more importantly took the British army morale negative and gave me 2 morale points and they had 5 cards left to draw – the French started silently praying for an army morale card to be turned!

The French left flank after the Highlanders flee

But it was not to be – things went downhill with the arrival of the British cavalry to the rear of the cuirassiers on a move card.

Light Dragoons arrive behind the French

Then to add insult to injury, straight away the British turned a melee card, which in the new edition of the rules allow a half move to contact before melee – CHARGE!

It’s not looking good for the cuirassiers!

Predictably this was the end of the French heavy cavalry brigade but more importantly it cost me precious army morale points. Further desultory firing took the French back to 1 morale and with 1 card left to draw and no sign yet of a blasted army morale card, the British pulled artillery firepower. Things went from bad to worse as with a good die roll an artillery battery just scraped a UI hit, leaving the French at 0 Army morale and 8 cards to draw.

You can see where this is going, but it was going to be the death of a 100o cuts first. My first card was a leadership card, and while rolling for leader casualties, the brigadier leading the assault to crush the British right flank fell to a stray bullet, sending his entire brigade out of command so that attack was going nowhere fast! Predictably, the 2nd card was an army morale and I fluffed the roll – game over :( sad On reflection, this seemed fair enough, as the French counter-attack was leaderless and the marauding British Light Dragoon would be sending the French right flank into square until they could be dealt with through firepower – any sane French general would probably have called it a day at this point.

Form square!!

That was some battle – first the British were at 0 morale, then the French. It turned out that the British cavalry not arriving on time was a blessing in disguise – as they weren’t on the board they couldn’t be attacked, and when they did turn up, the French cavalry were a spent force (attacking them from the rear also helped!). In my rush to turn the British flank before the British cavalry arrived, I left the French cavalry out on a limb somewhat, and they suffered badly from British musket and artillery fire (those bloody Rifles especially!)

For the next game we need some markers to put on leaders for when their brigade had been in combat and they have to roll for casualties on a leader card – I’m sure we forgot to do this at times because of the lack of markers. We also need some indication of whether first fire has been used or not – this became hard to remember as brigades closed and got mixed up due to fall backs.

So, we had finished the game and obtained a decisive result in 3.5 hours with nearly 40 units on the table – this is a big plus for us, as we very rarely get to finish anything due to time constraints. That fact in itself means we’ll definitely be playing the rules again. Figures are a mixture of Perry, Victrix and Elite 28mm mostly painted professionally or picked up on EBay (with some units, all generals and all artillery painted up by myself).

Field of Battle 2 Napoleonic (27/05/12 – Nick) Pt 1

A figure game by gad – and against an opponent to boot – spiffing! I have tried the 1st Edition of Field of Battle for ACW actions, but this is my first game with 2nd edition and also my first game using Napoleonic figures. The action is set somewhere in Spain and, with 37 units on the table, is larger than anything I’ve attempted with Field of Battle. The new edition of the rules has a detailed pre-battle procedure to generate a scenario and inject some uncertainty into the proceedings, so instead of just turning up and fighting, units are delayed or don’t turn up at all; can redeploy if they choose to or when forced to by their opponents; or even set up in forward or enemy zones if they win the reconnaissance event by a big enough margin.

Action early in the game

Though both leaders are skilled, the French general is rolled as LD10 while the British general is rolled as LD12+1. Both leaders managed to roll a “skilled” deck. The French army has 19 units while the British have 18.

French fate

  • 2  Strength  – March to the Guns (up 1) & Strategic Defence (down 1)
  • Tactical Adjustment – Unprepared (up 1)
  • Deployment – Captured Orders (down 1)

British fate

  •  Tactical Adjustment – Outposts (down 1)
  • 2  Deployment – Inactive (down 1) & Seize (up 1)
  • Reconnaissance – manoeuvre (up 1)

Random allocations of what advantages are used in each of the 4 categories give the following dice to roll.

Tactical adjustment French D12 British D8 – result is 9-2 giving a difference of 7 to the French.

The French can reposition all units from 3 command groups in their deployment zone, change facing and formation, but they may not move to another deployment zone.

Strength French D10 British D12+1 –result is 8-4 giving a difference of 4 to the French.

One British unit does not arrive until the 4th move card – random roll to determine who is the Light Cavalry Brigade, leaving the British with no cavalry on the board at the start of the game!

Deployment French D6 British D8 – result is 1-6 giving a difference of 5 to the British.

The French must deploy 2 Command groups down out of sequence at any time when asked to by the British.

Reconnaissance French D6 British D8 result is 6-6 so equal giving no advantage to either side.

Nick rolled and got the British forces, and he then deployed the whole army on the right hand side of the board, refusing their flank – obviously waiting for the cavalry to ride to the rescue. I as the French deployed my 3 infantry brigades line abreast in the centre (mostly in attack column), with my light cavalry brigade facing Nicks’ forces on one flank, and my heavy cavalry brigade facing thin air on the other flank. I assumed the thin air would be where the British cavalry would arrive, so the challenge would be to outflank his line and defeat it before the cavalry arrived on the 4th move card. Army morale was rolled as an appalling 14 for the British and a more respectable 19 for the French.

I got off to a perfect start – I won the leadership roll with a difference of 8 cards, so I would get to turn 8 cards before the British got to turn one over. First up was artillery reload, so I softened up the lines a bit, than a move card came up. All the infantry brigades leapt forward but only rolled enough for 1 move, however the heavy cavalry brigade rolled 2 moves and ended up facing the exposed flank of a Portuguese battalion in march column.

The French Heavy cavalry move to the flank

I rolled for my light cavalry brigade and they got 3 moves on an even die – this would allow them to both contact the Highlanders to their front and then engage them in immediate melee before they could form square – they only had to survive fire from the Highlanders and the artillery battery on the way in.

Hussars charge Highlanders

Luckily the battery missed completely, but the Highlander’s first volley drove off one of the Hussar regiments. The second regiment charged home however, caused 2 UI losses and rode the Highlanders down. I then drew another move card, but through inept rolling I couldn’t get the heavy cavalry into the British flank, nor get my infantry brigades too far forward. There followed a succession of pretty useless French card draws and it was then the British card draw.

An early move card with an even command roll allowed the Portuguese on the flank to reform facing the heavy cavalry, but to my surprise they didn’t form square. Another unit of Portuguese infantry formed attack column in front of my Hussars, then charged them on a melee card – I was shocked, but luckily rolled high, caused 2 UI and the regiment ceased to exist. Things were going well for the French, especially given our army morale advantage.

The British flank is shored up

Part 2 of the battle report and some thoughts soon – to be continued…

Republic to Empire – 14/05/2011 (Solo)

A French Division - scary

A try-out of yet another Napoleonic set – the holy grail of rules still eludes me, but I really want to like this set – I’ve tried them once before and thought they had potential. I decided to try something different from a stand-up fight for a change, so the British rearguard are holding a village which controls the bridge over a river – the French must take the village and control the bridge. A French cavalry brigade has found a ford somewhere downriver and will appear on the British side of the river at some point. This situation allows me to try out 2 aspects of the rules I haven’t tried before – fighting in built-up areas (FIBUA in the rules) and cavalry. I’m a bit worried by the 42″ (!) charge reach of light cavalry in these rules, but as they have to be on attack orders to charge, this may not be as bad as it appears at first glance.

The river, bridge & village

The French division consists of 2 brigades of 4 battalions of 36 men each and a cavalry brigade of 2 Hussar regiments of 12 men each – all brigadiers are average (seasoned in the rules), while the CinC is Skilful (+1 MP). The divisional 6pdrs are stuck down the road somewhere. The British rearguard is a brigade of infantry – a regiment of 30 Highlanders, a garrison for the village of 24 British Line (it is a type 2B complex under the rules, so this is the most figures if can hold as a garrison) and finally a unit of Portuguese line.

The British garrison

They are supported by a cavalry brigade consisting of 2 regiments of 12 Light Dragoons led by a sluggish brigadier and also by a battery of Royal Horse Artillery. Both the British C-in-C and Infrantry Brigadier are average. The 95th cover the ford, supported by the cavalry brigade, as we wouldn’t want them damn Frenchies playing dirty and crossing at the ford! 

The ford

The first French brigade start on the table with Move orders, and roll 1 average dice to see how many manoeuvre points (MPs) they can use for brigade and single unit actions. They  roll a 2 (doh!) and add +1 for the C-in-C’s skilful attribute, so 3. They pay 2 MP to maintain Move orders as a “seasoned” brigade, which leaves 1 MP. The Legere battalion really wants to deploy into half-batallion skirmish formation, but this takes 3 MP from march column, so they have to march past the riflemen at the ford and expose their flank. The brigade advances 16″ in march formation and that’s all it can do. The British are in position already, so don’t do anything with their MP. The artillery are at extreme range so conserve their ammunition (they only get 4 shots before having to retire to re-fit), but the rifles fire on the flank of the Legere, causing 2 casualties. 

The French arrive

 The 2nd French brigade arrives, giving them an extra dice to roll for MP – a 5 and a 4 gives 9, +1 for the C-in-C is 10 – that’s better! 2 MP for each brigade to maintain orders leaves 6. The brigade moves until a battalion is within 9″ of the village – at this point it must stop, as BUAs exert a zone of control which can’t be entered unless to assault the BUA. The French spend 3 MP to put the battalion closest to the village into attack column with their colonel at the front (a FORM single unit action) and also spend 3 MP to deploy half a battalion of Legere into skirmish formation to shield the flank of the brigade from the fire of the Rifles across the ford (I found out later I can’t deploy the Leger as skirmishers because the brigade is on Move orders – I should have formed line facing the Rifles to achieve the same result) .

In the British turn, they fire artillery at the newly-formed attack column, starting off with 3 dice per gun, but getting plusses for enfiliade and being veteran to bring it up to 17 dice – only the fact that the column was a new target brought the dice down to 9 which only caused 3 hits. After the riflemen fired at the newly deployed Legere, the column had to take a resolve test for being hit by artillery, but passed. 

The Colonel leads the assault

On turn 3 the French again won the initiative and rolled up 10 MP. It took 2 to keep the 2nd brigade on Move orders leaving 8. After 50% of the 2nd brigade moved slowly to fulfill their brigade order, 3 MP were then used to change the 1st brigade order to Attack to allow an assault on the village. The exploitation mechanic then allowed the brigade to activate again, so 2 MP to maintain Attack orders +1 MP as it was a first exploitation used 3 more MPs for a total of 8 used. One more MP allowed the attack column to be ordered to charge the garrison in the village.

The assault goes in

The column passed its resolve check to charge, and the defenders passed to stand. For their stand-and-fire check they rolled a 5, meaning it was going to be a point-blank volley. The column moved to 3″ where it received the volley from all 6 garrison bases (I think that’s right), which caused 5 casualties bringing total casualties to over 25%. Because it is an assault, there are different modifiers for resolve, and the colonel gave a +1 to cancel out the -1 for the casualties, so the resolve test was passed. Now for the close combat phase of the assault. It turned out that the French had 9 dice (7 combat groups of 4 men plus 2 for the colonel leading the assault) against the British 9 (6 combat groups of 4 men plus 3 for defending a class B building). The odds were with the British as a result of a difference of 0, 1 or 2 hits difference would result in a draw, with another round being fought immediately and the French being disordered as they hadn’t breached the defences, so halving their dice. However, the French didn’t see it that way, and rolled 7 hits of 4,5 or 6 out of their 9 dice against the British average roll of 4 hits. With a differential of 3, the French win the assault and breach the outer wall and lose 4 figures to the British 7 – the gallant colonel survives (didn’t roll a 6 on a leadership check) and the British pass their resolve check. On reading the rules, I think this means that the British can’t reinforce the building without a resolve check as they have lost the combat, so the remaining  17 figures might have to fend for themselves.

With 9 MP rolled, the British move the Highlanders and Portuguese to cover the bridge in case the garrison falls next turn, or attempt to reinforce if it doesn’t. The British artillery cause some casualties, as do the rifles, but the units pass their resolve – with nothing to gain, the garrison in the village choose to take a breather (they can do this, and if they were to fight and lose that would be 2 consequtive victories for the French and the village would fall). Continue reading

General de Brigade – 12/03/2011 (Solo)

A large scale tryout for the new edition of these rules – a French Infantry Division with a Cavalry Brigade in support against 2 British Infantry brigades with artillery support.

French Division

The scenario, for what it is worth, is that the British are retreating past the walled town when they are surprised by the French. They turn to fight, but the French attacks are not co-ordinated, with the General-de-Division feeding in a brigade at a time and ordering his cavalry to hold until ordered (he dislikes the peacock commanding the cavalry brigade). All of which gives me an excuse to try out different aspects of the rules in turn. The terrain is flat, with the British left flank resting on an impassable wood and the left resting on a walled town, which is out-of-bounds to both sides, though no-one seems to have told the 95th!

Rifles in the town

The 1st French brigade by the town comes on in attack columns covered by skirmishers. They have 1 Veteran battalion and 1 Line battalion in the lead, with two 2nd Line battalion bringing up the rear – they are of lesser quality then the 2nd brigade of 2 Veteran, 1 Line and 1 2nd Line battalions. The French artillery are ordered to engage the enemy to their front, so will be softening up the British for the 2nd brigade’s assault when their general decides it is time. The 1st brigade will be going in against 2 veteran British battalions (the Buffs and the Cameron Highlanders) with no artillery support. The British on the other hand have a RHA battery to support their left flank.

British Artillery

The French advance brings their skirmishers into contact with the Rifles and some light companies. The French skirmishers’ eye is in, and they cause 2 casualties (2 sixes on 4 dice) for none in return. The French artillery shot bounces over the Gordon Highlanders, but the RHA causes 3 casualties on the massed columns of the French 1st brigade, 2 on the Veteran battalion, and 1 on the battalion behind due to bounce through. Their skirmishers declare a charge on their British counterparts, who evade behind their main line. The columns continue their advance, taking a few casualties, with the rightmost column angling across so as to hit the same Cameron Highlanders regiment as the column beside them.  As this exposes their flank to the the Buffs battalion supporting the highlanders, the other French Brigadier decides now is the time to send in his brigade. He rolls to change his orders, needing a 6 on 2 dice and rolls – a 6…just! The second French brigade lumbers forward, forcing the RHA to switch targets away from the flank of the 1st French brigade.

Gordon Highlanders

Next turn the Brigadier of the 1st French brigade declares a charge for the 2 leading columns (as an average commander, he can only declare 2 charges per turn). To charge home, each column has to take a morale test after any defending fire is taken into account, and if they falter, they can get entangled with other charging columns. In this case, the column which exposed its flank suffered 6 casualties to fire from both British battalions, while the other column suffered 3. This put the veteran column at minus 7 off a 2D6 roll – they were lucky they only rolled a retreat result. The other column only being rated Line rolled a “halt” result, so although still formed it is standing still in front of a British line – not a good place to be if they can change their hold orders to charge next turn. If the halted column had have been able to charge, they would still have to roll a formation test to stop becoming entangled in the retreating column.

I had to stop at this point as I ran out of time – it wasn’t that the rules played slowly or anything, I simply didn’t have the time as I had to set up the table for another game the next day, and the 6 Nations Rugby on TV interupted the proceedings! I certainly enjoyed what I played and will give the rules another go, but they would be better played against an opponent than solo.

Portuguese 9th

I might need a bigger table if I am going to use these sorts of rules (he said laughingly – more like a new house) – 6′ x 4′ needs to be 8′ x 5′. My eyes are too old to paint 15mm (I sold all my 15mm a couple of years back), so 28mm is the scale for me now. I’ve resisted using Field of Battle (which I love for ACW) as it uses 4 base units and I like my 5 and 6 base battalions, but 4 gun French artillery batteries can take up to 10″ frontage, which is a lot of table. LaSalle also has a 4 base unit, but with the option for large units, and the new Die Fighting rules also don’t seem to concerned with unit sizes. We shall see….