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Saturday, 9 November 2013

Getting Back Into It

I took some leave over the UK schools' half term week (26th October - 3rd November), and so had nine days off at home. Just for once the stars aligned and I managed to get 3 games in. 3 games in nine days? Crikey.

The first was a much delayed exploration of Barry Hilton's 'Safe Passage' scenario, which is described in the post previous to this. This I played solo on the first Saturday. What was surprising was that, although this was a game with modest forces on each side, I started setting up at 0830 in the morning, and didn't finish packing away until around 1600 in the afternoon. 

No wonder I don't game very regularly at the moment. If you want to have a game on a decent sized table and/or using decent sized forces, you need a good deal of space and time, not just physically but mentally as well. One needs to be in the mood for several hours of serious hobby activity. And somehow all those 'simple, fast play' rules that are out nowadays somehow don't seem to save that much time; and that includes my own SYW set.

Anyhow, Thursday evening saw me setting up another 18th century bash to play with my old buddies Paul and Steve. The scenario here had an interesting history. It was brought to my attention via a post on Der Alte Fritz Journal, in which an article in an old Courier magazine (March-April 1983) was remembered that included some SYW scenarios. To cut a long story short, I was able to download a copy of the magazine via the excellent Wargame Vault website at a ridiculously minimal cost. If this is the sort of thing that interests you, I strongly advise that you do the same as I did (you need Courier Magazine, vol.4 no.5). If this issue is anything to go by, modern wargames magazines have something to learn from this publication, which I found a very enjoyable read.

The scenario I went for envisaged a Prussian force detached on a foraging expedition, which finds itself isolated and under attack from a much larger Austrian force. The Prussians are saved (or not, depending on how things go) by a friendly rescue force. As envisaged in Courier, this is quite a big battle, but I reduced both table size (to 6' x 5') and forces to get something more manageable for an evening game. 

The Prussian detached force has advanced through a local town, then positioned itself on high ground beyond, with its front covered by a river and marsh. The detached force was made up as follows:

Infantry Brigade
3 line infantry battalions
1 grenadier battalion
1 freikorps battalion
1 artillery battery

Cavalry Brigade
1 hussar regiment
1 dragoon regiment

The photo below shows the Prussians deployed at the start of the game.

OK, town taken: let the foraging begin.

The position looked sound enough, but unfortunately the Prussians were about to be assaulted in flank by an Austrian force that outnumbered them more than 2 to 1:

Infantry brigade
4 line infantry battalions
2 artillery batteries

Infantry Brigade
2 grenadier battalions
2 line infantry battalions
2 artillery batteries

Infantry Brigade
1 line infantry battalion
2 grenz light infantry battalions

Cavalry brigade
2 cuirassier regiments

Cavalry Brigade
1 dragoon regiment
1 hussar regiment

Suddenly the Austrians were all over the Prussian's right flank. No wonder the magazine calls this scenario 'Surprise of a Detached Force'.


Some lucky double moves on the Austrian left mean the town is wide open to capture.

Not surprisingly the Prussians were driven off the high ground and the town was taken by Austrian light troops. On move 3, the Prussian reinforcements arrived and evened things up a bit:

Infantry Brigade
4 line infantry battalions
2 artillery batteries

Infantry Brigade
2 grenadier battalions
1 artillery battery

Cavalry Brigade
2 cuirassier regiment
1 dragoon regiment

This turned out to be a very nicely balanced scenario producing an excellent game. When we called it a day after 6 moves the Prussians had lost 7 units from their breakpoint of 10 (including 2 points lost for losing the town), whilst the Austrians had lost just 2 from their breakpoint of 9. We judged it an Austrian victory, though in truth there was still a lot of life in the game. Once again time to play had been at a premium.

The Austrian infantry have neatly sealed off the northern sector, leaving their cavalry room to operate behind them against the Prussian reinforcements. The Prussian cavalry at the top of the picture have been isolated, but the Austrians also have problems. Their right flank brigade has to march right across the table to fend off the encroaching Prussian infantry advancing from the left of the photo.

Does every wargamer have a favourite unit in his collection? Whatever the case, mine is the Prussian IR6 Garde Grenadier, seen in the photo below advancing steadily against the foe.

What a fine body of men!

So that was two games. Finally, Saturday morning saw me at Craig's place, getting ready to take part in my first game of Chain of Command. Craig had a fancy idea of describing the game live on his blog, but this ended up not happening. Yes, you guessed it, pressure of time. This miniatures wargaming lark is very demanding of time, space and motivation. 

Anyway, the game itself was most entertaining, and as usual with Craig the terrain was excellent, as can be seen here (you may have to scroll down to the 2nd November game). As for Chain of Command, I had watched the introductory videos put up on You Tube by the Too Fat Lardies, but still found it a steep learning curve. Those Lardies are certainly very clever boys, but I found myself on a few occasions thinking that maybe they were a bit too clever for my simple tastes. However, one game is not enough to come to any sort of conclusion. I can only say I hope to be able to have another try at these interesting rules. Thanks to Craig for putting the game on.

So there we are. An unusual feast of wargaming for me, and I found I still had some motivation left over to do a bit of painting. I don't know what's come over me!

More soon.

6 comments:

tradgardmastare said...

Great looking game - I am pleased you had such a good time.

Phil said...

Nice looking game, your Prussian grenadiers are really impressive!

Steve J. said...

"No wonder I don't game very regularly at the moment. If you want to have a game on a decent sized table and/or using decent sized forces, you need a good deal of space and time, not just physically but mentally as well. One needs to be in the mood for several hours of serious hobby activity. And somehow all those 'simple, fast play' rules that are out nowadays somehow don't seem to save that much time."

I completely concur on this Keith. Earlier this year I 'timed' a game from initial ideas through to packing things away and writing up an AAR. Basically the actual game was about 1/4 of the time involved in the whole process. If we had the luxury of a dedicated games room, this would ratio would improve. None the less wargaming is a time consuming hobby.

As for the games, I thoroughly enjoyed both yours and craig's games, despite 'my' Prussians being well and trule mauled by the Austrians. Looking forward to another game at some point soon.

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

Nice looking game and it sounds like a good week off. May you have many more.

Wargaming does seem to require a higher percentage of one's energy than it did in past decades. I don't know what's come over it! Certainly adds to the attraction of DBA in between.

Agreed on the Courier, it has long been my favorite wargame magazine.

DeanM said...

Wow - that's a lot of cool games in a short period - for me anyway. Best, Dean

Prufrock said...

Lucky you! Looks like some good gaming.