Friday 28 August 2020

Sharp Practice: Bloody Work on the Widow Creek Bridge

Having played through four of the scenarios in Sharp Practice (and the remaining two just being encounter battles) I suggested to Andy we see about converting the Widow Creek Bridge scenario from Rebels & Patriots to see how that worked. In that a small defensive force holds a bridge and finds itself under attack from a superior force, whilst reinforcements rush to their aid. 

Lieutenant Haddock took command of two groups of British Line Infantry guarding the bridge, periodically retiring to the nearby hostelry for an occasional sherry...

His repose is broken by the sight of rebels advancing towards his position... Gad!

Rebels who suddenly open fire on his position! Corporal Horowitz's Continental Light Skirmishers firing an ineffective volley at the British.

Fortunately for Haddock. Ensign Harrow with three groups of Light Infantry Skirmishers were patrolling north of the river and move to support.

However they come under fire from a small group of Militia Skirmishers under Corporal Rowsick hiding in a wood across the river. Harrow's men take some Shock, but spread it between the three groups largely negating its effect.

More British Line arrive under the command of Sergeant Wakefield, so Ensign Harrow deploys his Lights to engage the advancing Americans he can see across the river...

Bullets slam into the Patriots, one of Captain Whitfield's Continentals is killed and his group takes Shock. Once again Corporal Horowitz is wounded in the first round by enemy fire (keep your head down man!), fortunately this week he was a Level 2 leader so still able to issue one command a turn. #lessonlearned

American return fire inflicts some Shock on Harrow's Lights but spread between the three groups it has minimal impact on their combat ability.

The British Light's fire continues to rip into the flank of the advancing Continentals, who lose more men and are taking double Shock for being shot in the flank.

Clearly advancing down the road under the withering British fire was only going to see the Continental Line reduced to complete ineffectiveness so Captain Whitfield swung them into line facing the enemy and returned fire, whilst Lieutenant Kraslow with his Continental Lights in Line (Lee's Legion) moved across the field, covered by the wood.

Meanwhile Sergeant Wakefield ran his boys up towards the bridge to support Lieutenant Haddock. They took a couple of points of Shock in the process, but they arrived in a timely fashion.

Just as well as one of the groups of British Line was beginning to take Shock and casualties from American fire.

Lee's Legion engaging them from across the field of play... 

Meanwhile Corporal Watson's Militia had moved past the struggling Continentals and continued advancing towards the Widow Creek Bridge. At this point I realised my army deployment was a right mess and at the very least the Legion and Militia should have been in each others positions!

The brave, but rather foolish, Corporal Watson and his Militia bore down on the bridge under British fire and started to take casualties and Shock...

A 'firing incident' (arising out of three flag tokens being drawn in a row) saw the hostelry catch fire. Lieutenant Haddock is aghast... Think of the sherry! Still, ever the professional he rushes over to his other group of Line to reduce their Shock and improve their shooting at the Rebels.

The withering fire from the British piles the shock on the Militia and Sergeant Wakefield advances his men onto the bridge to support his officer.

With his front group badly shocked, Corporal Watson splits his formation into two separate groups in an attempt to bring some muskets to bear on the British, but Haddock gets his firing in first!

The British volley hammers into the Militia, both groups falling back and the American Force Morale takes a beating.

At this stage things were looking good for the British, they had stalled the American attack and the Rebels were resorting to desultory musket fire at them. 

In an attempt to regain some initiative Captain Whitfield ordered the Continentals to resume their advance to try and rescue the Militia, whilst Horowitz's Skirmishers started shooting at the British on the bridge.

After his success last week, Andy decided to go on the offensive again, two groups of British Line Infantry fixing bayonets and charging down a group of dis-spirited Militia!

The result was inevitable and the Militia unit was not only destroyed but Corporal Watson was captured by the British! The American Force Morale dropped even further...

However things were not all going the way of the British. Whilst they had been attacking the Militia, Captain Whitfield had managed to deploy the Continental Line and they fired a volley into the British who were still celebrating their defeat of the Militia.

This volley inflicted Shock on the British forcing them back and Lieutenant Haddock was hit by a musket ball knocking him over!

Captain Whitfield attempted to build on this change of fortune and ordered the Continentals in with the bayonet!

The British Line fell back and then found themselves under rifle fire from Horowitz's Skirmishers, taking more casualties and Shock. 

This was too much for one group of British Line who fell back to the bridge, leaving a prone Lieutenant Haddock and the remaining half group facing the Continental advance. The British Force Morale was now down to the same low level as the American's!

The British attempted to drag Haddock to safety away from the line of the American advance, but the Continentals charged in...

Killing one Englishman and forcing the remainder back.

Deciding to 'sod this for a game of soldiers' the British fled the field of battle, dragging the unfortunate Lieutenant Haddock with them...

Meanwhile Kraslow's Legion Light Infantry pushed forward towards the river to continue their firefight with Ensign Harrow's Skirmishers...

Meanwhile back at the bridge Captain Whitfield ordered the Continental Line in with the bayonet again...

Breaking the British group and recapturing the unfortunate Militia Corporal. The flight of the British Line saw their Army Force Morale reduce to zero - the Continental Line had pulled the bacon out of the fire and victory had gone to the Patriots!

That was another excellent close run game that could easily have gone either way (the American Force Morale was dangerously low at the end of the game and we both entered the final phase on just 3 each).

I think both of us made mistakes during the game, I should have used the Militia to protect the flank of the advancing army (as they have more muskets than the Legion), and the Legion are my best unit in melee combat so may have resisted the British Line better. Andy probably should have just tried to hold the bridge rather than run the Militia down, but I understand why he did given the impact their destruction had on my Force Morale. He was unfortunate the way the chips fell at this point as the luck all went with the Continentals allowing them to plug the gap and the incapacitation of Lieutenant Haddock added insult to injury at the most important part of the battle, hamstringing the British Line.

It was good to see that the scenarios from Rebels and Patriots can be ported across with little problem as their are some good ones in the book that I think will make for some exciting and enjoyable Sharp Practice games.

Thursday 27 August 2020

Milites Mundi: Heavy Metal Thunder...

Whilst Andy was handing my brave Patriots their first Sharp Practice defeat last week at BIG, we got talking with proprietor Jim about 6mm gaming, something I always have had a love for (my first proper wargames army being 6mm WW2 Americans). 

After some typical wargamer 'talking around the houses' Jim and I decided that Gripping Beast's new smaller scale rules Milites Mundi looked interesting and would be worth having a go with (if we don't like them there is always To The Strongest and others...). Having been listening to the first three audio books of Peter Harman's Parthian novels I said I fancied raising a Parthian army - and the idea of camel cataphracts was just so cool! :D

Unfortunately Baccus are having ongoing availability issues so a quick revision of ideas led to a change of scale to 10mm and Jim and I putting in orders to Gripping Beast (for Romans) and Newline Designs (for Parthians) respectively. I am hoping to mix and match my horse archers from a few manufacturers so small orders will be going off to the likes of Magister Militum and Pendraken over the next couple of days. Fingers crossed they will be compatible.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Sharp Practice: With Zeal and Bayonets at Watson's Farm

Over the last few week's Andy and I had noted a pattern in our Sharp Practice games in that the attacker found it hard to carry the day against the defender in the rulebook scenarios we'd played. This week we decided to play the Attack an Objective one from the rulebook, but restrict the defender to 66 points with the attacker having 80. As I had been defending of late, this week the Patriots went on the offensive!

The objective here was the farm building (also the British deployment point) with the main Patriot deployment in the orchard across the road, the Americans also having a mobile deployment point which started by a tree in the middle half of the board (eventually reaching the road junction).

Lieutenant Haddock deployed three groups of British Line in front of the objective, with Sergeant Wakefield helping keep the redcoats in line.

Captain Pollack led two groups of Continental Line onto the field of battle, supported by a group of Militia Skirmishers under the command of Corporal Rowsick.

Rowsick's boys adopted a 'shoot and scoot' tactic, inflicting some Shock on the British.

This led Andy to be more aggressive and Haddock ordered his Line infantry to advance across the road and engage the Americans.

Both the British and American Line opened fire with the Americans coming off worse, taking Shock, losing two men and Captain Pollack being wounded reducing his command ability for the rest of the game! :-(

Meanwhile Andy deployed two groups of Light Infantry Skirmishers under the command of Ensign Balham to protect his left flank.

Cunningly (or so I thought) I deployed a group of Continental Light Skirmishers, commanded by Corporal Horowitz and armed with rifles for the extended range, in a small copse to the British Skirmishers left.

Opening fire they knocked Ensign Balham to the ground and inflicted some Shock on the British Skirmishers...

Despite their leader being temporarily hors de combat the British Light returned fire...

Inflicting Shock on the American Light Skirmishers and wounding Corporal Horowitz! 

This was a dismal result for me as with Horowitz only being a Level 1 leader, it meant now he could not normally issue orders and I had to rely on spending any Flag tokens that might be drawn...

Sergeant Dorfman with two units of Militia then arrived on the scene and began shooting at the British Skirmishers with uncontrolled volleys...

Unfortunately being a Militia NCO the Continental Lights would not take orders from Sergeant Dorfman and with token draws leaving Horowitz's boys and their useful rifles not doing anything, I deployed Lieutenant Kraslow with his Lee's Legion Light Infantry in Line nearby so I could bring the Skirmishers under control. 

This wasn't part of the original plan!

Sergeant Banger and his Royal Artillery group then deployed their Light Artillery piece to face the threat on the British left flank.

Kraslow advanced Lee's Legion towards the British Skirmishers in an attempt to turn the British flank, taking some Shock in the process...

Snapping into Line the Legion opened fire on the British Skirmishers...

Knocking the unfortunate Ensign Balham to the ground once again and inflicting much Shock on his formation.

One group broke and fled across the field of battle... The Force Morale of both sides had being gradually falling during the battle but this incident saw the British Force Morale drop into the danger zone with Andy losing a Flag from subsequent turns.

Sergeant Banger opened fire at the American militia inflicting some Shock on them but no casualties.

Meanwhile back in the orchard further rounds of musketry against the British Line had seen Captain Pollack's Continental Line suffer more casualties and take a lot more Shock.

Pollack combined both groups into one and made an effort to reduce their Shock to try and make them a useful component of the Patriot army again.

I later realised I'd possibly missed a trick here as over the last few turns Corporal Rowsick's Skirmishers had been sniping at the British Line and Cannon when they could have made a dash in the dead ground between the British units towards the objective. I'm not sure they would have made it but it was an opportunity missed...

Moving the newly combined Continental Line group out of the direct line of fire of the British Line suddenly exposed the American Deployment point and Lieutenant Haddock detached one group under Sergeant Wakefield to try and seize it whilst he continued to hunt down the Americans in the orchard...

Captain Pollack decided to go for broke charging his weak group of Continental Line in at the British...

Whilst challenging Lieutenant Haddock to a duel! Three rounds of sword play, both leaders withdrew with honour, the British officer rather more bloodied than the American!

That did not stop the British line despatching the Continentals with some fine bayonet work causing the American Force Morale to plummet!

On the left flank the British Skirmishers were being forced back but still kept up fire on the advancing Lee's Legion and inflict odd points of Shock on them slowing them down.

Sergeant Banger's cannon, loaded with grapeshot, then plunged fire into the Patriot Light troops inflicting more Shock and a couple of casualties.

Spotting that the objective was within reach, Lieutenant Kraslow split his formation, ordering one group to rush the farm building and the other engage Banger's cannon. Unfortunately the Shock the Legion had taken restricted their move distance and both groups came up short...

Back in the orchard, Sergeant Wakefield captured the American Deployment Point leading to the Patriot Force Morale to drop to just 3, the same as the British!

Lieutenant Haddock then saw the opportunity for glory, charging in on Rowsick's Skirmishers (who Captain Pollack had now attached himself to). 

One round of fisticuffs later and the American Skirmishers were either dead or routed and Captain Pollack had been captured! Two rolls on the Bad Things Happen table arising from this saw the American Force Morale fell below zero, the British had won the day!

As Andy said, that was a close run thing, and it was... Right up to the final turn the battle could have gone either way and I was left rueing a couple of missed opportunities and having had to deploy Lee's Legion on the flank (the initial plan was for the Militia and Continental Skirmishers to take the British flank and the Legion to take out the British Line after the Continental Line has weakened them). 

Never mind, a hugely enjoyable game and vengeance is always possible on the tabletop the following week...