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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Friday, 31 December 2010

History nearly repeats itself

Corunna, 1809

Last night I enjoyed the last game of 2010 and a very good one it was. Having furiously painted hundreds of 6mm Baccus figures over the last couple of months we were all set to play the Corunna scenario from the Polemos Napoleonic Companion using Polemos General De Division rules. Carl took the part of Sir John Moore and I was Soult. James and I then split the French divisions between us with myself taking the right and James the left. The deployment was a curving line of British with Fraser (all trained) on the far right, then Baird and Hope (both veteran divisions) completing the line, with Paget (trained) somewhat in reserve and in position to plug the gap between Baird and Fraser. The French right was taken by Lorges and Delaborde, with Merle in the middle. James' command was Mermet beside Merle and Lahoussaye and Franceschi completing the cavalry left flank. All the French were rated as trained.

Looking from the British right / French left. I didn't have time to paint the general figures, so I just painted the bases red and blue and wrote the name and drew the NATO troop type symbol on them. Worked just fine!
The first few turns saw Delaborde and Lorges occupy the village Piedralonga to their front. Merle was to advance to Elvina (the big town in the middle) and Mermet to San Cristobal (nearest in the picture above). Our plan was to move the left cavalry divisions up to pin Fraser in place and move Merle up to keep Baird occupied while Mermet hooked around San Cristobal and into Baird's flank, or Paget if he moved up.

Merle and Mermet move off

Merle approaches Baird while Mermet moves through San Cristobal. The cavalry start to move up to occupy Fraser's attention.

The situation in the centre develops.
So far the French artillery was harrassing the British lines causing the occasional shaken result, but Carl always had his generals and C-in-C on hand to rally them. It was around this point that history nearly repeated itself when Moore was struck while the battalion he was with was under artillery fire. However, the dice gods favoured the British in this battle and Moore only suffered a flesh wound rather than a mortal one. So now the stage was set for the action to start. Mermet's approach towards the joint between Baird and Paget was causing Carl some concern, so he moved Paget up to plug the gap, as I had hoped he would do. I fancied the chances of Merle against Paget's trained troops more than Baird's veterans! So far Carl had been winning the initiative every turn because he could afford to bid almost all his tempo points as he was largely static, but he got a bit comfortable with always going first and his face was an absolute picture when I outbid him for the first time to grab the initiative and gave James the tempo point to get Mermet into Paget before he could respond. Alas, we had made our first mistake a couple of turns earlier, though. Merle deployed his division into mixed order and blocked off one of Mermet's brigades and we decided to just leave it there as reserve while the other two attacked Paget.

Mistake! One of Mermet's brigades is left behind!
And crisis point was acheived! Mermet's two brigades cried 'Vive l'empereur!" and charged! One of Paget's battalions was shaken and fell back into the rear brigade shaking them, but crucially the right hand brigade received a devastating volley and the head of the column disintegrated and the whole brigade fell back in disarray. Unfortunately for us, James rolled badly for the morale and the French troops decided that they weren't really that up for this fight! A wee bit like the real battle! :) However, this did leave the victorious French brigade to attack the flank of the battalion that had sent their counterparts reeling and another initiative win let us do just that! The brigade charged in and this time the British broke and fled. Crucially, though, the stalwart British brigades passed every morale check required and the division survived to regroup.

Mermet attacks and breaks Paget's formation up, but one French brigade is repelled and subsequently retires.

Mermet's victorious brigade follows up, breaks a battalion but Paget retires in good order and reforms. Further up Merle has advanced towards Baird.
As displayed above, while all this was going on, Merle advanced towards Baird, Lorges was menacing Hope and the two cavalry divisions on the left were making sure Fraser was going nowhere! At this point it was all in the balance. Paget was battered and driven back, but not broken. Mermet had lost a brigade but had one in a very advantagous position. We decided that Paget was not the best target so Mermet wheeled his brigade to attack Baird's flank and try to coordinate with Merle.


Mermet wheels into Baird's flank and Merle lets off a volley to try and shake the British with some success.
 But, as I said, the dice gods favoured the British that night! Mermet's brigade charged in but were halted by a murderous volley from the British and had to fall back, one battalion fleeing. This left them vulnerable to a countercharge by Paget which broke the whole brigade (again James failed every morale roll) and Mermet decided his division could do no more and retired from the field.

Paget sees off Mermet!
Baird took this moment to call his veteran division into action and charge home against Mermet. The French musketry was nowhere near as effective, but the division survived the attack but not without plenty of shaken levels and falling back. I managed to clear some shaken levels with Soult and Merle moving up personally and then counterattacked with the flanking brigades in column. The British volleys were telling though and the French had to fall back again. We had already established that the French weren't up to the fight and I duly failed a morale check and one brigade was spent. Time was running out at this point and the British were looking very strong still having only had one battalion broken for four French brigades! So we called it a day and a resounding British victory.

I think that the scenario as a whole is a pretty difficult one for the French to win as half the Brirish army is rated as veteran which makes them a very tough nut to crack without overwhelming numerical superiority which the French don't really have. I already mentioned our first mistake, which was leaving one brigade back which could have been decisive had it been in the attack, but I think we made another which was to not use the left flank cavalry a bit better. I think that one division would have been sufficient to prevent Fraser getting too involved and perhaps we could have comitted Lahoussaye into a combined attack against Paget with Mermet. I think that would have resulted in total destruction of Paget's division, but then...hindsight is 20/20!! As it stands, it was a fun enjoyable battle that could have gone either way at one point, but it generally went with history and the stout British thwarted what I think was a reasonable plan, just executed by an unenthusiastic French corps. Now...if only Napoleon hadn't buggered off back to Paris!!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

A year of blogging

I know, it's been ages, but I've not really had much to blog about! November was a very quiet month for gaming with the snow and everything and I have pretty much only been painting 6mm Napoleonic figures for a big game just before New Year (we're going to use the Polemos rules to play the Corunna scenario from the companion volume). I toyed with the idea of doing a step-by-step to illustrate just how easy it is to get a nice result but I just didn't get the time. Too many bases to get through in a reasonably short time (well, for someone with 2 young children, anyway!). However, I'm nearly there and that means I can start looking at what projects are looming in 2011.

First off, my brother is getting me some Gladiators for xmas and I can't wait to get my hands on them and start painting 28mm figures again! The 6mm stuff is nice and fast and the mass effect is lovely, but the actual painting of individual figures is nowhere near as rewarding as 28mm. Plus I have a copy of Morituri Te Salutant that I have read and am itching to try out. I'm a big fan of games like MTS that are quick to play, yet tactical, and only need a few figures and minimal terrain as it allows you to add variety to the games available quickly and cheaply. I think that's certainly a major factor in why I like CY6! Once you have the mat and stands, all you need are a handful of planes for whatever period you want.

Secondly, the zombies are coming to get you!! :) Having recently watched the Walking Dead I was inspired to get All Things Zombie and a bunch of Rebel Minis 15mm zombies, so I'm just waiting for them to arrive from the US. Not only do I think that this game will be a lot of fun, but it's perfect for solo play and it will be very suitable for the Friday games with James and Carl, as we can play coop, rather than versus. With only 3 players a coop game will be ideal.

Thirdly, the club usually puts on a Hordes of the Things tournament early each year, so I took some time to plan my army for that and acquire the figures, so I'll need to paint them soon. I won't say what they are yet...you'll have to wait and see!

Lastly, there are a couple of anniversaries coming up that hold some interest for me. First is Crete in May, which we have already seen some figures for, but not much else! Second is Albuera which is a Napoleonic battle that always fascinated me. It's one of the few major battles that Wellington didn't command at and it also is one of the few that the Spanish gave a credible performance at. Also, it was the first appearance of the Vistula Lancers in a major battle (or so I believe), soon to be the Lancers of the Imperial Guard, and I always had a wee thing for their uniforms! :)

So, in short, next year looks to be a colourful one and I do hope to get some photos of the Corunna game and maybe some shots of the armies before the New Year. So until then...!
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