Monday 28 June 2021

Sharp Practice: ¡Otro Cruce de Carreteras!

With Andy off getting high on varnish fumes as he desperately tried getting the last elements of his Spanish ready for the weekend's En Avant II event at BIG, I met up with new opponent Scott and his British force to get another Sharp Practice game in. Without Andy's inimitable guiding hand it was going to be interesting to see how we fared! :D

Rather than confuse the issue we decided to play a straight forward game to seize an important road junction (they appear to have a number of these important junctions in Spain!)

The first troop to enter the field of battle were the Volteggiatori of the 1° Reggimento Fanteria Leggera under the command of Tenente Baresi, still smarting from being called 'bei raggazi' ('pretty boys') by the line skirmishers in the last battle. 

Across the table a group of skirmishers from the 33rd Foot's Light Company under the command of Lieutenant Boslington-Smythe moved forward supported by a group of Lights in line commanded by Sergeant Coddington.

Tenente Conti and his Granatieri then marched smartly onto the table...

Before the Fucilieri under Capitano Rossi deployed on the table and stormed forward following a movement event breaking both their own and the Granatieri formation!!! What a mucchio di cacca! 

Whilst my Italians were doing an amazing comedy impression of the Neapolitan army, Sergeant Strongburn and a detachment of the South Gloucestershire Light Dragoons entered the table along with Captain Crosby with two groups off 33rd Line whilst Lieutenant Gillcuddy unlimbered a Light Cannon!

Spotting the cavalry, Primo Corporale Zoff and his line Volteggiatori, who had just arrived, ran like hell for the cover of the crop field on the Italian right!

Whilst on the Italian left flank Tenente Baresi and his Volteggiatori engaged in a fierce battle for control of a copse with Sergeant Coddington and his Light Company troops. Englishmen and Italians fell but the 'bei raggazi' prevailed and the 33rd were pushed back...

In the centre the Dragoons rushed forward to the road facing the Granatieri who had reformed (as had the Fucilieri now in an unenviable position stuck behind a barn which if they turned to the left would present their flank to the artillery and Lieutenant Boslington-Smythe's skirmishers in the church!)

With typical cavalry abandon Sergeant Strongburn charged the South Gloucestershire Light Dragoons at the Granatieri of Tenente Conti...

Whilst five brave grenadiers fell under the swords of the dragoons and the brave Tenente was knocked out, the Granatieri wiped out the British cavalry! Eroico!

The fighting in the copse continued as Sergeant Coddington ordered his Lights back in...

Struggling to resist the Volteggiatori of Tenente Baresi, the British force commander Lieutenant-Colonel Wraxall-Wessex joined the Light troops to bolster them but with just one surviving light infantryman he was forced back out of the trees...

Having cleared the Light infantry out of the wood, I did give Scott some unwittingly dodgy tactical advice at this point. I suggested he detach Lieutenant-Colonel Wraxall-Wessex from the sole Light Infantryman and attach them to a neighbouring to reinforce their attack on the Volteggiatori.

Unfortunately I wasn't aware the sole Light Infantryman was carrying two Shock and with Scott following my dodgy advice detached Wraxall-Wessex and the Light Infantryman broke, reducing the British Force Morale to a worrying level! Ops!! (as they say in Milan)

However Scott gained some revenge as another round shot from Lieutenant Gillcuddy's cannon ploughed into the Granatieri breaking one unit.

The Italian Force Morale took a sharp drop...

Primo Corporale Zoff and his Volteggiatori traded shots with the 33rd Line of Captain Crosby...

Whose presented volleys slammed into the Italian skirmishers piling Shock on...

Forcing one group back and the other to break...

Two 'Bad Thing Happened' rolls could have seen the Italian Force Morale drop to zero securing Scott and the British a hard fought victory...  Fortunately the gods of dice were on my side and I only lost one point not two! Uff!

With both forces on one point of Force Morale left it was definitely tempo stridulo di culo! (squeaky bum time)

After spending the entire battle stuck behind a barn Capitano Rossi and his Fucilieri had managed to extricate themselves, and whilst the artillery killed a couple of men and the unit took a little Shock, they had snapped into line facing towards the redcoats of Captain Crosby...

Starting what had to our final chapter as BIG was about to close it all boiled down to whether Crosby's or Rossi's token would be pulled first. Would Crosby be able to fire a final volley into the Volteggiatori  and break them? Or would the Fucilieri be able to unleash a volley on the British line and hopefully pile casualties and Shock on them making Scott take a Force Morale Test?!

Scott rummaged in the dice bag and pulled out - blue leader 1, Capitano Rossi!

Sparare! he yelled and 32 muskets fired their first volley into the British!

I actually didn't have enough dice on the table for the volley so Scott had to throw several of his dice for me.... Out of 32 shots, 23 hit the British line (ignore the scores these dice are just the hits split between the two groups). Scott's face paled...

Scott rolled to the hit effects. 

One group took some Shock and casualties, but stood firm. 

The other took Shock and casualties too but ending up with more Shock than men left they fell back one inch.

This was a 'Bad Things Happen'- group obliged to withdraw. On a D6 roll of 1 to 3 there would be no effect, on a 4 to 6 the British would loose one point of Force Morale - and the game...

Scott rolled his D6... 

And scored 4! One point of Force Morale lost the British went down to zero and jubilation swept through the Italian ranks, they had won their first battle!!! Viva Italia!!!

Another very close game that could have gone either way at the death. As this was our first game without stabilisers (that is Andy on hand to help) we did well and had an enjoyable battle. I do feel rather guilty in offering Scott advice that unintentionally caused a unit to break and reduce his Force Morale (he will never let me forget this I'm sure), but all I can say is anyone who has read these battle reports should know to take my tactical advice - and do the exact opposite!

And I'm sure he will have the opportunity to exact his revenge again sometime soon...

Saturday 26 June 2021

Peninsular War: Artiglieria a Piedi

With my Kingdom of Italy force off to the En Avant II, Sharp Practice event today, I just managed to finish a Artiglieria a Piedi (Foot Artillery) cannon and crew in time even though I've only once fired a cannon in a game and that was over a year ago (been on the receiving end a few times though!). 

I used the Victrix French Napoleonic Artillery 1804 to 1812 set, the uniforms being basically identical apart from colour, though the Italians wore a visor-less shakos which with plastic figures was not a problem to create using a sharp knife! I'm not 100% sure I have got the uniform green correct, the site I used has them in this more olive shade though others show a less brown infused colour, but I'm not going to overly worry about it. The cannons, unlike the French green ones had their carriages painted grey.

The Italian army had both 8-pounder and 12-pounder foot artillery battles so, as the Victrix set allows you to have either 8pdr or 12 pdr guns for the Gribeauval system, I decided to paint up both barrel options (and after some prevarication pondering magnets, pins, blu-tac,  in the end I have just balanced the barrels on the carriages which seems to work well enough). With the officer taking a leader slot in Sharp Practice I needed an extra crewman so converted a Perry body using some spare Victrix arms for the fifth crewman.

Hopefully I will remember the rules correctly and get the chance to fire at least one round at someone over the next couple of days gaming!

Friday 25 June 2021

Sharp Practice: ¡El Cruce de Carreteras!

Another battle for the brave forces of the Kingdom of Italy on the dusty fields of Spain, heroically trying to enlighten the natives to the benefits of being ruled by the noble Rey José I! Rather than pick a scenario out of the Sharp Practice book we decided to fight a battle over the control of a vital road junction.

The brave Fucilieri under the command of the noble Capitano Rossi entered the field of play first, marching boldly down the road towards the all important junction. Avanti valorosi soldati d'Italia! 

Meanwhile Teniente Fuego and his brown-coated Fusileros emerged from skulking in the woods!  

Captain Rossi's bold lads were well up for a fight this day, a random movement event seeing Rossi cry out "Di' agli uomini di cantare, sergente" (“Tell the men to sing, Sergeant”) with the Fucilieri advancing another 2D6 towards the enemy!  

More activity in the woods saw the appearance of Capitán Manzanas and his blue-coated Fusileros. 

Fresh from Milan Tenente Baresi and his Volteggiatori of the 1° Reggimento Fanteria Leggera (1st Light Infantry Regiment) arrived on the field of battle, looking rather resplendent. They opened fire on the Fusileros of Teniente Fuego, killing three and inflicting some Shock on them. Eccellente!

Despite the casualties, emboldened by his previous successes against the Italian Grenadiers, Teniente Fuego ordered his Fusileros out of the woods and to snap into line to confront the rapidly advancing Italian Fucilieri.

Speaking of the Granatieri, Tenente Conti and his smartly dressed men then arrived. 

More Spanish began to emerge from where they had been hiding in the woods. Teniente Estiércol and his Cazadores deployed along the forest edge and opened fire on the Italian Fucilieri...

Three brave lads from Savoy fell to the Cazadore musket fire and the attack column took a little Shock.

This only stirred the blood of the brave Fucilieri and Capitano Rossi ordered the attack column to Al Doppio! (Pas de Charge!) and bayonets gleaming in the Spanish sun, the Italians smashed into the Fusileros of Teniente Fuego! 

A vicious flurry of bayonets (and dice rolling) saw five Italians fall and six Spaniards!

This melee saw one group of the Spanish formation forced back as its Shock exceeded the number of men left in the group, dragging its supporting unit back with it.

The other group having killed the equal amount of the attackers in the group facing it had to fight another round of fisticuffs. More men fell to the stabbing bayonets, including Teniente Fuego who was knocked out!

The surviving Fusilero broke, dragging the unconscious Teniente Fuego to safety.

This round of fighting saw many rolls on the 'Bad Things Happen' table for Andy and his Force Morale plummeted from nine down to three! Ahia!

I have to confess there was a certain amount of smugness on my side of the table at this point. After three attempts I had at last managed to get an attack column into contact with the enemy and it had badly damaged them. Surely Andy could not recover from this position? Surely the Italians would secure their first victory?!

With typical Spanish sneakiness "Hijo de la Víbora" (the son of the notorious guerrilla killed in the previous battle) deployed with his men from a Moveable Deployment Point, Andy opting to launch an Ambuscade with them. Normally this would allow them to inflict double shock on an enemy they engage. 

However, as the Guerrillas were behind the Fucilieri this meant than any Shock would be quadrupled!!! Oddio!!

Whilst their fire was not that effective it did cause one group of Fucilieri to break...

Despite that the brave Italians shrugged off the impact of two 'Bad Things Happening' and their Force Morale only fell one point...

Tenente Baresi's Volteggiatori opened fire on the Guerrillas but to no effect.

However Primo Corporale Zoff and his line Volteggiatori deployed...

And showed the 'bei raggazi' how it was done, firing at the Guerrillas...

Killing two and wounding "Hijo de la Víbora". Unfortunately for the Italians this had no effect on the Spanish Force Morale as the regulars cared little for the smelly peasant boy with his gun.

Capitán Manzanas ordered his Fusileros into line and they fired an uncontrolled volley into the Italian column.

This volley saw three Fucilieri fall dead and another group to fall back.

This time the rolls on the 'Bad Things Happen' table went against the Italians and their Force Morale dropped to a rather worrying five.

Could Andy and the Spanish snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat?!

Deciding he needed divine intervention Andy used his Holy Man to 'move in mysterious ways' and aid the two groups of un-led brown-coated Fusilero. His presence (and a good D6 roll) saw him remove the Shock from the wavering Fusilero! 

They then opened fire inflicting more Shock on another group of Italian Fucilieri who were forced back, along with another group who themselves took more Shock...

From the Cazadores skulking in the tree-line!

More 'Bad Things Happen' rolls saw the Italian Force Morale drop to just one! Mamma mia!

The situation was now precariously balanced, My hope was that I could activate the last group of Fucilieri and charge into the Fusilero brown-coats putting them to the bayonet and maybe killing that pesky Holy Man. Andy was hoping to get a final decisive volley of fire in from either of his Fusilero formations.

So of course the Tiffin chit came out! 

The chits went back in the bag, which leader chit would appear first in this new chapter? Unbelievably it was the Tiffin chit again!!!

When the Tiffin chit is the first one in a Chapter lots of interesting things happen such as unloaded units automatically reload, but unfortunately broken units with double of more shock are removed from the table along with any attached Leader!

For Andy this mean that the now conscious Teniente Fuego and his Fusilero ran off the table which meant two 'Bad Things Happened" (Leader Routs and Group Wiped Out).  With his Force Morale down to just three potentially two bad rolls could see it reduce to zero. However the dice gods were with Andy, he rolled low and only lost two Force Morale points taking him down to one.

Unfortunately for me, the same rolls applied to the wounded Sergente Bergomi and his Fucilieri companion. With Group Wiped Out automatically resulting in the loss on a minimum of one point of Force Morale it was all over for the Italians!

Che mucchio di merda! (as I think Capitano Rossi said afterwards). I'm still somewhat amazed at the dramatic turn in the fortunes of the Italian force there. Yes, the attack column was unsupported. The drawing of the chits (and random movement event) saw them storm up the table whilst the Grenadiers loitered at the rear along with the Skirmishers for the most part. However having smashed the Spanish Force Morale in one go, the Fucilieri were still in a position to administer the Colpo de Grazzi but failed to do so. I think I was a bit too reliant on the bayonet here and maybe once the Spanish brown-coats were reeling I should have snapped my Fucilieri into line and poured a volley or two of musket fire into them, rather than try to close with them again. Curses! Maybe next time...