A big advantage over Christmas is the chance to get a few games in. Lee was again available so we planned to go a bit larger. Lee was told to field all he got whilst I used just about all my Baccus French. The only thing was that I had not realised just how much Lee actually had. If you think this is the start of a list of excuses well you may be on to something.
|French hold the town, British to the far right, Brunswick's to the left.|
I set up the terrain, this time I had the town on the right and held by some of my French. Lee was told to place two formations onto the table. One of the better British Infantry Divisions and the Brunswick with a single regiment of cavalry.This was to be a BIG Napoleonic battle but reinforcements were to be brought into play as the game went on. As per the previous game initiative was diced for through a turn until one side had activated all on table formations AND rolled for reinforcements. The player with units still unordered then activated all formations except the last one but then could try and activate with a 50% chance of success.
|Brunswick's have the full table to roam.|
If a player succeeds in gaining reinforcements these are randomly selected from the reserves and then the location they arrive is diced for which was to prove fun even when it was so in the wrong place.
|Time for heroics|
The last game reinforced that towns are very hard to take. Lee had a strong force to try and take the town and gained the first advantage as two out of three bombardments had reduced the defending infantries cohesion and I was failing to recover it. I should have replaced them straight away at the front but in the end I sent the formation commander to sort them out. He arrived just before the British who decided to fire rather than try cold steel. I got lucky and did not suffer further loss. In my turn I regained a level of cohesion and things looked a little better.
|Lee moves the first wave of cavalry|
Lee was the first to try for reinforcements getting a large cavalry formation. This was in the far corner. I then activated a reserve that came on facing them again far away from the main action. Come the following turn Lee got another cavalry formation though this time they were lights and again they came on behind the first formation. I failed my next attempt whilst Lee again got yet another cavalry formation further to the flank. This one was much smaller but I was starting to drown in British cavalry. This saw me getting my send reinforcement and yep it was cavalry and yes again it was behind my first formation. This helped a little but I was still heavily outnumbered. Lee fortunately was not making a great deal of progress on the attack on the town as several regiments fell back having been given a bloody nose.
|French Cavalry watch the British swarm|
These rules were written with the idea that use of reserves rewards the player. However not keeping reserves should lead to formations collapsing. You need to recover cohesion, blindly going forward tends to lead to going backwards just as fast. Why mention this? I was forced to ignore the requirement of husbanding your forces and spread my horse very thin in the face of such numbers.
|Games first rout and it's French!|
My at start Formation had three regiments of light cavalry. In an attempt to take some pressure off the town I charged these regiments into the flanking infantry. I managed to bring about some disorder but the first (and only) double six causing a Hussar to rout.
|Brunswick's get in on the action|
Lee did not move up the Brunswick's for quite a while but finally committed them once it became evident the flank battle was going to suck in anything in that area. He charged the Lancers and Lancers both failing to break into my foot but reducing the cohesion of one of my regiments before his units fell back behind the infantry.
|Neat lines of cavalry clash with each of us coming out victorious|
I had better quality cavalry in the first clash with my Cuirassiers sending one heavy cavalry regiment away in full retreat. On the flip side I lost Dragoons when attacked by two heavy regiments. I also lost a horse battery. Lee had reserves whilst I had shuffled about to get a couple ready for round two.
Then the best luck I had all game a reinforcement of cavalry just where Lee had advanced his smallest Division. These ere made up of mostly light cavalry, though one was Lancers and a Dragoon regiment. I placed a horse artillery battery in position, as his formation had already activated it would be a question of who got to move first. Would he see a whiff of grapeshot?
|Feeding reserves into the ongoing melee|
I was slowly winning the cavalry melee and reinforced a fresh regiment into the battle while the cuirassiers landed in hot water as they charged a fresh heavy cavalry regiment centre rear of the picture above. I really had no choice as they were already deep behind the British lines so hoped for killer dice to extract them from the mess they were in.
|Pursuing m way to trouble|
Well I did not get the result I needed, though I did cause a cohesion loss but now I was close to a forced to retire result and given no help was in site a very good chance I would skip the retire and move straight to rout. In the distance is the regiment they had forced to retire. This unit was failing to rally and continue to retreat. Not really a good swap but the best I had.
Not that it was all gong the way of the British as I had a couple of light regiments trapped and others on the run. Forget about nice lines meeting in the middle. The whole action on my left flank had turned into a cat fight. Two things were becoming very important. Winning initiative and having your reserves in the right position. After a fair amount of early success on initiative I suddenly went ice cold and Lee was able to get the charges forcing me to counter charge for a lower bonus. As for reserves Lee still had whole formations waiting it the wings. I need a miracle to rescue my cavalry now.
|Lancer V Gun's nice|
My flanking cavalry start to chop up the cavalry in front of them and I get as far as the hill in front of the main road and charge into the guns removing one more threat to my cavalry.
|The British Reserve|
Whilst I am busy cutting my way into the centre and rear of the committed British cavalry a further five regiments of light cavalry watch from near the small town. On the hill is the soon to be attacked guns and a regiment of horse still retreating from cohesion loss. Lee was to bring these forward hoping to make them the deciding factor in the fractured mas melee. I in return had nothing left to throw in.
|Back in the town British storm forward|
Not that the battle for the town calmed down. The first wave in the attack was for the most part thrown back. Lee managed to force one regiment to retire but the regiment to it's right was holding firm. I in turn charged a supporting British regiment outside the town forcing these to retire. Now I was in position to counter attack the British that had entered the town. It was at this point that Lee commented that he felt it was impossible to take. I countered that the way to take it would be more troops and keep throwing fresh troops into the fight. Also I felt the way Lee was attacking was not the way to win, though I had no answer to exactly what he had to do at this point to swing it his way.
|View along the attack line|
The strong guard regiments have been badly blooded and fall behind the advancing Hanoverian. Lee knows they don't have much punch. I in turn try and rally back lost cohesion and bring back the retreating line regiment in the town as I too send a fresh regiment to fight the blooded advancing British.
|Cavalry rallying back for round three|
I am trying to rally cohesion back but so many fail the tests, I still have time but the chance to fight with no cohesion hits is shrinking. Again fortune gives a helping hand as my reinforcing infantry finally turn up and enter close to the small town. Sure I really need them near the large town but now at least I can cause all sorts of trouble for the British. These troops are half way up the left side f the picture above. Lee charges a couple of light horse regiments into them but I formed square and came out of it fairly well. Lee on the other hand suffered little and achieved his aim of stopping forward movement into the flank of his cavalry.
I had also tried to form square against a second Brunswick charge but the regiment broke and routed from the table, ouch! suddenly my hold on the towns flank was looking mighty thin.
|Fresh French cavalry cover rallying friends whilst a lone melee continues|
Things are still looking shaky. I now can start to use infantry and cavalry together, I have a few more weak cavalry regiments with the infantry on my left flank. These need to drive into the British cavalry and then the Brunswick's before I can even get at the town. Meanwhile the best of the British have arrived and are heading for the town with nothing to stop them. Worse yet they still have a weaker infantry formation yet to arrive which could really cause me problems. I could feel a bit of a pause coming into the centre as I prepare to take the attack to the British and they try to reform and reposition against my infantry. Both of us have formations on the brink of being forced to quit the field but still being required to fight on.
Three regiments finally attack a lone French regiment. This was a disaster for me. If he had been forced to retreat I could have brought him back and by the time the next attack could come in he would be fairly fresh. Routers don't come back and count double for formation breaks. Now I sent in the Hussars into the flank of a British regiment. I need to force these back away from the town and get more of the town defenders onto this flank.
|Final positions at the end of day one|
I continued to expand the pocket on my left whilst Lee tries to force a formation break or two. Here we had to call it after a long days fighting. We have left it set up so that we can finish it off. I can't see how I can win now but I am keen to see how quickly everything comes undone, I think it will get very ugly quick.
Rules wise we have tightened a few more bits up and started to rethink a few other changed rules. What is apparent is that I need to speed up the collapse of formations. These are taking to long to crumble. Two options seem clear. Reduce all units cohesion level by one, this would bring about forced retreats and routs of units rather quickly but I think makes them too brittle and changes the balance between dice and tactics to far towards luck. The other option is to have sub formation breaks. This is a little more involved but should in fact make tracking formation rout easier. Rather than whole divisions going once so may regiments have broken, brigades break which when enough of these break then divisions and then corps if relevant. Kind of like a snowball rolling down a hill.
I need to do a total re-write and fill with explanations before turning them loose on outside playtest but that should not be that far away. I don't have any long term plans for the rules and assume they will be made freely available for anyone who wants them.