Friday, October 25, 2019

Skirmish in the Vendee, 1793 with Rebels & Patriots

We played a skirmish scenario based on the 1793 Vendee rebellion against the French revolutionaries. The Whites were led by the Chevalier Sangre Bleu (in game terms both are 2nd Lt.). Bill and Rick decided to take the royalist Catholic peasants, defending in hedgerows and outnumbered 27 points to 20. They had not played Rebels & Patriots before. I thought the “native” troop type in the rules was better at representing the Vendee peasants (and possibly highlanders of the “45” rising) than the intended North American woodland Indians. I mentioned that natives, unable to use the fire action (who could skirmish instead, moving half and firing half), would not be able to match the Blue line in a stand up fire fight. This advice seems to have gotten lost in the general overload of information about the rules.
After taking this photo I added carpet sample "corn" to the "wheat" field. The script editor was not on the job. I preferred to lead the rebels but instead had 2nd Lt. Parvenu. His Blue command had 7 green line infantry units, a skirmish unit and a light artillery piece. The rebels had 6 green “native” units and a skirmisher. I deployed half of my force within 6” of my table edge, followed by the rebels deploying half of theirs at least 16” away from my table edge. Then I deployed the rest followed by them deploying all remaining units. Now we rolled for the character traits of our leaders. We should have done this first.

Parvenu was blessed (a strange trait for the man leading the atheist side) which made him harder to kill. Sangre Blue first rolled “cunning”, which allows him to field two dummy units. Since we were not ready to do this (not enough figures painted) we re-rolled and his new trait was “familiar face” which allows him to field a free unit of locals, green, timid line infantry who are poor shooters. This is a totally expendable unit with no effect on force morale. Since we should have rolled for traits before deploying, I said they could put this up front in place of another unit that went into the second line. It went into their right center and would prove useful. And away we went.

My right center moved very slowly through the cornfield, taking a number of turns before they finally all lined the first hedgerow. A fire fight broke out that slowly increased in numbers involved. Losses were low at first due to both sides being behind hard cover, but then losses increased, going against the rebels as 5 units on my right shot it out with two enemy units. In the center my skirmishers and artillery slowly hacked away at Sangre Blue and his unit. On my left things went south early on.
The few units who saw this passed their morale tests. Both sides had mostly green units and lots of trouble activating them. I slowly advanced in the center.

Not in the photos, my right flank unit crossed the hedgerow while all the others watched, failing their activation rolls. This unit then charged the rebels behind the hedgerow. They killed two and lost 5. Somehow they passed the resulting morale test.
Also off camera, the White skirmishers lost more than half their men and failed morale badly, routing on the next rally attempt. This caused a lot of morale tests, all passed. The White left flank was down to one unit that started taking hits. In time it fell back under orders but then stalled in the open field behind.

Sangre-Bleu didn’t gain any honor from this but didn’t disgrace himself either and more to the point, wasn’t hit. Parvenu gained 7 honor points. Another 13 will see him promoted to 1st Lt.

The game went a lot slower than I expected, due to the hard cover and the frequent failures of green units to activate. It was also slow because Bill and Rick were learning the rules for the first time. We played 13 turns in 3 hours and 20 minutes. Our other R&P games have gone one or 2 hours. That said, all liked the game, finding the hedgerow combat interesting. All said they would like to play it again, though I’d like to play the rebels next time. I do think the rebels did not make enough use of their superior mobility. I did like the way the native troop type worked for angry peasants armed with a mix of muskets and pole-arms. The next time we play this I think both sides will not be green and the cornfield will have been harvested to speed the game up.

The next game in two weeks will likely see either DBA or if attendance is light, a new board game of Gettysburg.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Parthian Cataphracts (Khurasan Miniatures)

I finally got off my rear and finished 4 elements of Parthian cataphracts to begin my DBA army. These are Khurasan figures, very nice. The only hitch: the lances bend when you look at them too hard. Hopefully they won't break too soon. Next I have to paint up some 24 horse archers. The DBA force (as I plan it) only requires 16 more but if we play Basic Impetus I could use some more. And some foot archers to finish up the force.

The heavily armored cataphracts give this light horse army a bit harder punch than usual. The Parthians did badly beat some Roman armies that made the mistake of invading across flat open country. The worst hiding was that given to Crassus at Carrhae in 53 BC. In time, the Parthians were dethroned and disposed of the by the Sassanian Persians. Perhaps someday I'll paint them up. Perhaps not. The figures are so nice they deserve a better painter and a better photographer. But here they are. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Rome vs. the barbarians, 4 games

Yesterday evening we played a number of DBA games set in the Western Roman Empire of the 5th Century. 3 of our members were unable to attend due to illness, either personal or in the family. Here’s hoping all are well by our next meeting.

Last time we played, Bill led the Western Romans to 4 wins over Huns (twice), Goths and Franks. I challenged his Romans with Attila’s Huns to start the day. Bill selected the terrain below. And off we went.

I then went up against Rick.

Next up was Carl.

Then we set up a modified Dig Battle DBA game.

My lesson from this is that using double-ranked light horse to gain the +1 bonus in combat is fraught with peril. First, should the enemy double you, the lead element cannot flee and is destroyed. A quieter problem is that while your double-ranked formation can move more easily, it is also easier to flank and eats up any extra units you may have. I know that Light Horse armies are seriously under-powered in DBA. I have Mongols (1/72 plastic), Huns (15mm) and am currently painting 15mm Parthians. Guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I do so miss having horse archers actually shoot, along with other missile armed troops. Also, some of the fussiness of DBA when contacting units gets tiresome. Perhaps at some later point we may try Basic Impetus. One issue with that rule set are the troop type initials translated from Italian translations, so heavy cavalry are CP, etc. Another issue which has bugged some in the past is that you can throw the kitchen sink at an enemy unit, scoring hits. If they roll a 1 on the cohesion test they shrug off the damage. That bothers some more than it does me. I’ll trade that for less fussiness.

In any case, our next session in two weeks will see my little Vendee rebels take the field against the green troops of the Revolution, amid my little-used hedgerows. Rebels & Patriots will be the rules for that one.