Thursday, 31 January 2019

Sharp Practice Battle of the Grand Turk Islands

Gary has been running another splendid campaign based on the Caribbean this time around the 7YW period. I represent the British with other players taking the French, Spanish, Dutch and Buccaneers.

Until now all the action had been at sea and, as I'm not that keen on naval games, other players have been commanding my fleet with a fair bit of success!

My main aim in the campaign was to capture the Grand Turk Islands to reduce piracy in the area (it was held by the Buccaneers). I sent a powerful fleet to take the Islands but, when it got there, discovered the Spanish had already landed and driven the pirates out!

A naval battle followed in which the British fleet had much the better of an action with the Spanish fleet, capturing some, destroying others and driving the rest away.

Following the naval battle the British decided to land a strong force on the Island and take it from the Spanish. I was unsure what force the Spanish had on the Island so I committed five groups of Marines, one of Regulars, one of Light Infantry and a group of Frontier Militia which was a substantial force, The Spanish were commanded by Cley.

The landing was largely unopposed with the Spanish apparently attending a religious service in the Church!

The British landing went very well with the entire force moving off the beach while the Spanish were still engrossed in the interminable Catholic sermon in the church:

The British Light Infantry moved into the walled enclosure. Still no Spanish troops appeared:

Finally some Spanish Line moved out of the church and formed up. Spanish skirmishers moved into the building to the right of the church:

More Spanish followed, a large mob of aggressive sailors dashing down the road:

The British Light Infantry pour fire into the Spanish Line inflicting heavy losses before the Spanish even manage to fire a shot:

Two groups of Marines open up on the advancing Spanish Sailors. Numerous hits only result in five shock for the Sailors. It will at least slow them down:

Despite the shock the Spanish Sailors manage to attack the British Light Infantry:

Disastrously for the British they are wiped out (apart from the officer) but they inflict a few casualties in the combat:

The Frontier Militia and the second formation of Marines are now firing into the Spanish Line which is struggling to respond:

The Spanish Line formation is broken and they fall back towards the church:

The Marines on the right drive back the Spanish Sailors. The British Regulars are now in a position to open fire as well:

The Spanish Line are now very badly off as are the Sailors:

The British left advances to follow up the retreating Spanish:

The advance continues. Two groups of Spanish Grenadiers sneak out of the rear of the church which they have steadfastly defended (or refused to leave) since the start of the battle!:

The British continue to advance and have driven the Spanish Skirmishers from the building they were occupying. The remaining Spanish apart from the Grenadiers are now fleeing for their lives:

The Spanish are pushed beyond the church:

The Spanish Grenadiers advance but it it too little too late:

The British now control the town and the battle is over:

With no fleet the Spanish have nowhere to retreat to and are dispersed. The British losses were relatively low, six Light Infantry, three Marines and a Frontier Militiaman.

I definitely had the best of the early moves with all of my force arriving quickly and activating frequently. Cley was very unlucky with his most powerful unit, the Grenadiers, who didn't activate at all until the battle was pretty much over. Perhaps they had been at the communion wine?

I also made good use of 'Sharp Practice' something I learned from the competition I played in last year which showed me how effective regular troops with the Sharp Practice ability could be.

Now the Fleet will probably have to return to Jamaica as rumour has it that Montego Bay has fallen to a pirate rabble, the insolent dogs need teaching a lesson!

Monday, 28 January 2019

ADLG Later Macedonian v Republican Roman

Tonight's game was another ADLG game against Stan's Republican Romans. I'd previously used Carthaginians, Samnites and Spanish among other armies against Stan so this time I decided to use Later Macedonian. I went for a fairly simple army composition with one command of Pikemen, one of Thracians and half the cavalry and one command of Galatians and the remaining cavalry.

The Macedonians deployed traditionally with the Thracian command on the left, Pikemen in the middle and the Galatians on the right. The Romans on the other hand went in for a somewhat surprising column of Legionaries and Italian Allied Infantry on each flank connected by some cavalry:

The Macedonians advance while the Roman cavalry moves up to face the Phalanx:

The Macedonians manage to trap both Roman light horse and kill them. The Roman heavy cavalry fall back:

The two Roman columns shake out into line while the Phalanx pushes on:

On the Macedonian right the Galatians charge home while the rest of the command holds back:

The Macedonian left is also engaged. In the centre the Phalanx is cutting down all opposition:

The Thracians cut through the Romans facing them. Two units of Romans are looking isolated to the rear of the Roman line:

One of the Galatians has been destroyed. The huge gap in the Roman centre is very apparent now:

On the right the Macedonian cavalry fall back, The remaining Galatian holds on despite being hit in the flank and frontally:

The Galatians fight on and even manage to rally:

The Phalanx  and the Thracians mop up the last Romans in the centre and left:

Remarkably the Galatians on the right fight on, even managing to disrupt the Romans in front of them. The Romans are fetching up a third Legionary unit to try to finish them off:

The Romans have taken heavy losses now and, while the Macedonian right flank has been thrown back and the Thracians have lost two units, the battle is definitely favouring the Macedonians now:

Two of the Phalanx units have broken through to the Roman camp. The camp puts up a brave defence but eventually falls breaking the Roman army:
This was an interesting idea from Stan to deploy as he did. If I remember rightly the Romans did indeed deploy like that in some battles though perhaps with an allied infantry centre rather than cavalry. The problem with it was that it left all the troops who were poor against the Phalanx facing them. In theory the Romans could break through the Macedonian flanks but, being heavy infantry, this takes a long time especially when the Macedonian cavalry (and the valiant Galatians) could hold them up.

I was expecting the Romans to form a solid line and oppose the Phalanx with the Legions which is a bit of a lottery for both sides so the deployment certainly surprised me. I think Stan got drawn in to leaving too many troops in the centre, if he had withdrawn his cavalry quickly the Phalanx might have ended up with nothing to fight and they are very unwieldy so it is hard to redeploy them. Next time I'll have to think of another suitable army to use......

Sunday, 27 January 2019

British for Sharp Practice

Partly as an extra option if I decide to play more Sharp Practice competitions and partly with the vague idea of collecting some Americans in the future to do the War of 1812 I bought a small British Peninsular force mainly from Perry Miniatures with a few extras from the ever dependable Front Rank.

So far I have enough figures to do five Line infantry groups, two Rifle groups, a single group of Light Dragoons and a Royal Horse Artillery 6pdr gun.

The first to be completed was a group of Riflemen:

I bought metal figures for these as I didn't like the four plastic ones that came with the plastic infantry. Nice figures with a lot of character.

Next up an officer and a serjeant for the Rifles:

Not being a particular fan of the 'Sharpe' books or TV series they are emphatically not Sharpe and Harper!

I decided to paint the Line infantry as the 3rd Foot (Royal East Kent Regiment), 'The Buffs'. The first group are mainly Perry metal figures with a Front Rank sergeant:

The second group are all from the Perry plastic box set with a Front Rank officer:

The final group is the RHA 6pdr gun and crew:
Again mostly Perry with two Front Rank figures to makeup the numbers.

The force is making progress and hopefully will get finished in the next few months.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Blucher Spanish v French

Another of the things I really like about Blucher is that all the armies have an individual character but are all playable with none being much superior to others.

Unlike in many rulesets the Spanish are actually quite effective in Blucher if you play to their strengths and use the 'Scharnhorst' system. They are unique in having a number of ways of affecting Scharnhorst such as having guerrillas ambush enemy columns weakening them and delaying the start of the battle, Taking these options costs points which could be spent on troops but generally they are well worth it.

Sean kindly agreed to play the Spanish with a suitably composed early French army cunningly using 10mm cannon models to depict attached artillery. After the jockeying for position on the map almost all columns appeared on the battlefield (apart from one Spanish column consisting of a single unit which captured an objective rather than march to the battlefield) and the Spanish had sufficient objectives to win the game if their army was not broken:

The Spanish ambush was quite effective taking 12 Elan off one column and, given that they only had to survive the day to win, they took the option to delay the start of the battle. The terrain was also favourable to the Spanish with a long ridge line for them to defend and one French Corps hemmed in by rivers. The Spanish deployed with almost all of their forces defending the ridge line and two brigades of Militia thrown forward to defend the bridges over the river and slow up the French advance:

The French began by advancing upon the somewhat isolated Militia:

The Militia on the left started to withdraw while those on the right had to stand as they couldn't outrun the French cavalry. They were already significantly delaying the French:

The forward Spanish Corps fell back to the ridge line:

The brave Spanish Militia are swept aside and the French advance continues:

The French start to develop their attack lead by the cavalry:

The Spanish horse artillery has been destroyed by French cavalry and the Spanish foot artillery has retreated behind it's infantry support. The French infantry are coming up fast on the Spanish left and begin skirmishing with the Spanish line:

A brigade of Spanish heavy cavalry charges home on some unprepared French infantry and almost destroys them in a single combat:

On the French left more infantry begin to push through the forest. Spanish cavalry drive back the French cavalry in the centre:

The two lines continue to exchange fire, one French brigade has been broken and some Spanish brigades have retired and been replaced by fresh troops:

The valiant action of the Militia in delaying the French at the start of the battle and the spoiling attacks by the Spanish cavalry have eaten up a lot of time and nightfall is approaching. The French attempt to close with the Spanish to force them off the ridge:

Two French brigades have pushed back their Spanish opponents while the Spanish have held off two French brigades. The Spanish have enough reserves to plug the gaps while the French have no fresh units to commit:

 On the Spanish right again the French have made some progress but nowhere near enough:

With the French attack repulsed and night falling the Spanish hold on for a victory!

Pretty much everything went right for the Spanish in this battle. They won the Scharnhorst objective battle and had a strong position to defend with the terrain very much in their favour.

While the Spanish line looks very impressive in fact once they come into combat they weaken quickly having low Elan and no skirmish ability. This is compensated for however by their ability to replace damaged units and the Spanish cavalry which is numerous and reasonably effective.

I think Sean's French might have fared better attacking the Spanish left in depth rather than attacking all along the line, moving through the woods on the Spanish right delayed their attack so they didn't really get into action until it was too late.

The Spanish are a difficult army to play against if they get to defend (which they almost always do), in attack I don't think they'd be so effective. 200 points is also probably the optimum for them, they can select all of the cavalry (I'm not sure having so many is very historic), all of the artillery and the most useful guerrilla options while still having a decent infantry force as well. At 300 points they'd get a minimum of two more Grenadier brigades, nine Regular Infantry brigades and a Militia brigade extra which would be a truly vast force! I don't think I'll ever paint that many more though.....