Can't believe it's over a week since Joy of Six and I've had little time or inclination to post anything, I hate hot weather!
Our experience this year was far more relaxed, we knew exactly where we were going, unloaded the van in two minutes whilst chatting with Igor and his face fuzz. Once inside we quickly set up the board, had a chat with Pete from Baccus and Mike from Leven Miniatures, yes it was that relaxed. Set up of the units was very straightforward and we actually started the first turn before the official opening time. The Boy was the attacking French whilst Lee defended. Me I was just eye candy ;-)
The view from behind the French line, I was really glad of having the ammo wagon bases, without them we would have had rather a large area of empty table. The game started with two Divisions on the table with a third due to come on once the first two divisions had made their attack.
Quite a few onlookers recognised the battle, some from the previous years display and others due to the excellent Hougoumont model from Leven Miniatures. Indeed one of these sets was bought on the back of seeing our game which is always a nice touch.
The Allied view, most of Lee's troops are in reserve and can't be moved forward until certain stages in the battle due to events off set as it were. The Boy in turn can only activate a single Division at a time to keep within the historical nature of the battle. What Lee has that was quite an advantage was a lot of skirmisher bases that only have a attack strength of one but to be removed from play need to take two casualties. A single casualty is exchanged for a retreat instead.
The Boy had four skirmish bases in his first division, these were heavily outnumbered by Lee but were having the better of the firefight. Lee found he was drawn into a pitched battle with these four bases rather than trying to screen them and use the rest of his skirmishers to attack the formed battalions.
This allowed The Boy to get his first attack into Hougoumont almost at full strength. However that was to change once they assaulted the walls. The -2 for attacking a built up area is always tough to get by but with the skirmisher rule the typical result was that the attack unit lost a strength point whilst the defender is forced to retreat to be replaced by another unit before the French could take advantage of the forced retreat of the first opponent.
Normally we allow the winning unit to follow up on a retreat but to make Hougoumont a tougher nut to crack we did not allow the follow up. This really helped the defender, though it was still possible for the attacker to take advantage of the gap if they got to activate the formation again before the defender got to move.
The attacking units strength quickly dropped from four to two resulting in their inability to remain on the attack against the chateau. The Boy had enough about him to switch these half spent units to attack the skirmishers outside the defences which helped keep the still full strength battalions in good enough order to launch further attacks.
At this point Lee also switched his tactics and started to try and get at the fresh battalions and where he could not, to pick on the low strength battalions rather than the skirmishers. Casualties started to rise for both sides as Lee was now taking two casualties on some of the skirmishers surrounding Hougoumont whilst The Boy was forced to retreat his strength one battalions though a couple of these suffered a further strength loss and were removed.
The Boy did clear the gardens and then was brought under fire from a Guard Battalion. These were unlucky with their rolls (Lee suffered some really bad dice at times) and then The Boy getting a couple of back to back turns shot this battalion to ribbons. Guard ribbon's though still have teeth and quickly put the French battalion to flight.
Even with the gardens taken the French could not force the walls and both battalions in the gardens are forced to fall back. The second assault had failed.
The Boy got his artillery deployed and removed a allied skirmisher from the game but was quickly forced to retreat by other skirmishers who in turn savaged more of the French weakened battalions.
The yellow dice show units that are forced to retreat, these normally continue to retreat until they are off board but for this game we retreated them to the other side of the woods.
The first division was now spent, one point for every battalion with a yellow die and two points for any removed. Once equal to the number of battalions at the start the formation can not advance, once above and they have to retreat from the field. We have found that this rule rewards removing mauled units from the front line and rewards the use of reserves.
The Boy starts his second Division forward whilst Lee repositions his skirmishers to handle the new threat. The first division was light infantry and had the skirmishers, two useful advantages. These had neither and now would face a tougher approach.
Rather than struggle through the woods The Boy advanced to the opposite flank and tried his luck their. A mix of skirmish fire and artillery caused a number of casualties on his way in but overall he was lucky not to have suffered more.
The third Division deployed on the opposite side of Hougoumont but more for show as at this point they are unable to attack. In our original playtesting with a second board their advance to this point cost them quite a few casualties from guns across the valley.
The British Guard Battalion has moved to defend the front of the gardens but finally the French get into the chateau, though at great cost to their strength.
Now allied reserves are fully released. The Boy has little left from the second division and would not be able to hold out long without further reinforcement from the third division. By this point is was about 3.30 pm and rather than continue we sat and chilled chatting with other gamers.
I am happy to declare the game was a success, I was able to chat a lot with onlookers whilst Lee and The Boy either continued to make moves or also talk with interested parties. As such you could see the battle unfolding whilst being able to explain the ideas behind the rules and the mechanics. Five gamers supplied me their email address for a set of the rules to be sent. If anyone wants them just use the blogger contact button on the right and I can send you them.
The show had more games, possibly more traders and definitely a higher attendance than last year to continue the year on year increase the show has maintained since it's original incantation. I would say it dropped off a bit late in the afternoon, but still remained quite busy.
Not many 6mm Sceptics seem to have been in attendance (they got in free and if converted got show discounts). The show remains then almost wholly 6mm supported. The bring and buy seemed not to have done well, possibly as a fair number (me included) brought anything but 6mm to sell. Other than that the traders seemed to be busy all day.
I know Leven had a good day and Baccus had a lot of spaces on their stand. I also saw a good number of punters crowding the Commission Miniatures stand which is good as they really do a great alternative to metal.
The show then was an even greater success than last year and has cemented the venue as the one to use. This year has seen the use of more side rooms so adding to the shows footprint.
My only regret was not getting to see the show in all it's glory. When I left the game I felt a little guilty so most times it was just a nip. Next year I am hoping to go just as a visitor though Lee is pushing for a big ACW game. He has the figures all sorted, the buildings to paint, the battle, terrain and rules to sort so possibly, possibly I can get my year off. However, plans and possibles for games for the following three years are well underway.