Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Huzzah, an Old School game

Saturday afternoon I played a Napoleonic game at the Huzzah convention in South Portland Maine. The figures were 25mm Hinton Hunt figures, French and Austrian. I ended up on the Austrian side as the C-in-C. There were three players per side.

The scale was 1 figure = 20 troops, with 24 figure French battalions vs. 36 figure Austrian units. The rules were 70s vintage "Pas de Charge" by George Nafziger. It had all the earmarks of American rules of that era. Simultaneous movement works if all concerned are gentlemen, which fortunately was the case here.The only names I recall are Joe, the game master, Chris, one of the French commanders and Ross who led the Austrian advance guard. My memory isn’t what it used to be.

There were no command and control rules. Instead French units all moved a bit faster than lesser breeds. This didn't affect us Habsburg minions since we were on the defense, tasked with preventing the French from exiting a road on our baseline in the 4 hour window. The Austrians had 3 "brigades", each of 2 battalions, 1 battery and 1 cavalry regiment. The French outnumbered us some. I didn't get a count of their units, perhaps 10 battalions or more, slightly more cavalry and as many guns as we had.

Fire was deadly. Small arms and canister fire were resolved by rolling 2D6, multiplying the modified total by the number of figures and dividing by 10 - or was it 100? 10% casualties or more forced a morale check using percentage dice, low numbers needed to pass. Charge procedure: 2D6 to see how well the involved units were up for the fight. Then a fire range check, followed by fire calculation. If the chargers weren't stopped or routed by a fire morale check, roll 2D6 to see the response of each to the continuing charge. Last, roll 2D6 for each side, multiply by figures, divide by 200 to get the number of losses inflicted. Both sides then roll 1D6 each and add losses inflicted to see the outcome of the fight. 

On the first turn our other to brigades marched onto the field. My reserve brigade lined up behind the advance guard, since there wasn’t enough room for all our units to deploy in line.

Two French cavalry units charged our right flank. I feared our infantry would not be able to deploy in time and sent my large reserve cavalry unit in that direction.

One of the French units sent our Uhlans off the table, but the other cavalry unit was decimated by lucky shots from our howitzer battery and then rolled 100 on the morale roll (which rewards low rolls). Our right having survived the immediate crisis, the reserve cavalry went towards the other flank.

Our hussars were routed, mainly due to a dreadful morale roll.

My reserve artillery battery deployed in our center ad was promptly masked by our deploying infantry. In time, the infantry closed up on the center and unmasked the battery. It fired canister into a Legere battalion and helped rout it. The French howitzer battery scored a hit on the crew. I rolled a 94 on the morale test and was surprised when my gunners only had to retreat for 3 turns. I thought they would rout. They still had one turn left to retreat when the game ended.

The reserve cavalry were the victims of lousy dice, worst being the 90+ rolled for their morale. They fled the field. The Advance Guard Grenzers buckled under attack by 3 French columns but nailed the enemy brigade commander before going under.

The artillery battery was attacked by the last standing French battalion on our left. The battery wheeled to face and blew the French unit away. All this while they had 50% losses from the enemy howitzers. No question as to what the most valuable unit in the Austrian army was.
The label below is wrong: this is the Austrian right flank.

It looked quite lovely with well over 200 infantry on each side. We played about 12 turns in under 4 hours. The climactic and complex 4 unit melee on the last turn was on the other flank so I went for a walk at the vendor tables around the room. By the time I returned it had been resolved. The Austrian right flank held and we had kept the French from exiting. Victory was due to the stalwart fighting qualities of our rank and file (the dice) and the brave stand of our advanced guard. I do think "Charge" would have given us a similar result faster. I had a slight headache from the multiplying and dividing. It had me secretly wishing we were playing BBB.

To atone for my end game promenade, I assisted Ross in helping Joe organize his figures to be put away. This is the first game convention I've been to since 1979 or so.