Thursday, 10 June 2021

Sharp Practice: ¡Un Encuentro!

After their inaugural debacle in the Peninsular, my Italians returned to the plains of Spain (aka BIG) to take on Andy's treacherous Spanish rebelling against their king, the noble José I! As the Rescue Mission scenario had restricted the deployment options of the Italians last week, we decided to play a straight forward Encounter battle loosely based on that in Sharp Practice. It would also allow me to try out a new formation that I had discovered by actually reading the rulebook!

The game started with the infamous guerrilla "El Víbora" and his motley crew taking up a position in the woods near the Spanish deployment point.

A group of brave Volteggiatori Skirmishers under the command of  Primo Corporale Zoff carefully moved into the small village near the Italian deployment point checking for any unattended vino...

Meanwhile the main Spanish force arrives, three groups of Fusileros under the command of Capitán Manzanas, two groups of newly raised Fusilero conscripts (in the brown uniforms) under the command Teniente Fuego and two groups of Cazadores skirmishers under the command of Teniente Estiércol...

Enter the brave Italian Fucilieri under the command of Capitaino Rossi screened by a group of Volteggiatori led by Corporale Collovati. This time I decided I was going to try an Attack Column massing four groups of line infantry into one formation as a hammer to punch through the Spanish line!

Protecting their flank, Tenente Conti and two groups of Granatieri advance though the village to take up a position behind a screen of Volteggiatori.

Avanti miei soldati! Viva l'Imperatore! The Italians march resolutely towards the Spanish...

Spotting the enemy Cazadores moving towards an orchard on the right of the Italian battle line, the Granatieri advanced swifty to engage, the Volteggiatori screening their advance.

Teniente Fuego's Fusilero conscripts moved forward between the Cazadores and blue coated Fusilero regulars...

Whilst Capitán Manzanas and his Fusileros marched forward to the sound of the drums, receiving encouragement from a Holy Man!

On their left Teniente Estiércol spotted the enemy to his front and ordered his Cazadores to open fire on the advancing Italians.

Both sides open fire taking Shock!

Meanwhile the main Italian column came under fire from Manzanas' Fusileros and the Guerrillas. The effect was minimised as the hits were spread between the five groups although one brave Fucilieri fell dead and the Volteggiatori took more Shock than they should have due to some poor dice rolling!

Another volley of fire from the Spanish saw the Attack Column suffer more casualties and take some more shock. The Volteggiatori were now carrying too much Shock and fell back. Fortunately I had moved them out of the line of march of the column so they didn't end up falling back into the Fucilieri.

Resolute in the face of the enemy fire the Fucilieri continued their advance!

Having a spare flag token when Capitaino Rossi was activated I was able to order Al Doppio (Pas de Charge) and the Italian Fucilieri surged forward towards the Spanish Fusileros, the Shock they accumulated to this point being discarded as they charged bravely forward! 

One more push men...

Unfortunately Capitán Manzanas was activated next and his three groups Fusilero poured a volley into the brave Italians...

And another as Capitán Manzanas was activated again, killing more Fucilieri and piling Shock on the brave Italians...

On the right flank Primo Corporale Zoff and his Volteggiatori Skirmishers took refuge in the orchard and opened fire on the Cazadores.

As did Tenente Conti and his Granatieri...

Four Spaniards fell to the Italian musket fire and Shock was piled on them!

With my Fucilieri one good Al Doppio from smashing into the Spanish line, Andy managed to get another activation in for Capitán Manzanas (three in a row). Poor Capitaino Rossi could only see his men fall to the enemy fire and accumulate a load of Shock! Orendo!

This proved too much for the brave Fucilieri. Two groups were forced back and two broke (along with their Volteggiatori)... 

The Italian Force Morale collapsed!

Still the battle was not (quite) lost. Tenente Conti ordered his Granatieri to Al Doppio (Pas de Charge) into the Fusilero conscripts of Teniente Fuego. Sweep them from the battlefield and maybe the day could still be won. With a cry of Avanti! the Italians the Aggressive Granatieri charged into the Fusilero conscripts!

Surely there could only be one victor? But no the brave conscripts held their own with a drawn round of Fisticuffs, wounding Tenente Conti in the process! As it is a draw we fight again!

Disastro! Somehow the Fusilero conscripts defeat the Granatieri killing four and causing the supporting group to break! The battle was lost...

I did have to check we weren't playing in Libya in January 1941 so poorly had my Italians fought...  :-(

The gods of dice (well tokens) were with Andy tonight. To get my Attack Column so close to the Spanish line and then see the Andy's leader pull three activations in a row allowing them to smash the column with volley fire at close range without reply was somewhat galling (the British had clearly trained them to fire three rounds a minute). However there is nothing I can say about the Grenadiers (in polite company) who are now on latrine duty after being bested by some lowly Spanish conscripts.

All in all a great game that was going really well for a while before the ignominy of the general collapse. I'm going to have another crack at that Attack Column thing, maybe using a bigger Skirmish Screen.