Monday, 26 January 2015

One-Hour Wargames 8: Melee

It's been a while but finally I have a wargame to report.  I got a copy of Neil Thomas's "One-Hour Wargames" (published by Pen & Sword) last year and and we had talked about trying out the rules and scenarios it contains.
15mm Hinchcliffe French Curassiers
Basically, the book is meant to be the antidote to (allegedly) 'billiard-table game' rules like Black Powder.  It therefore a) contains very simple rules tailored for each historical period, b) assumes you will play on a table 3' by 3' and c) that you will generally field six units each.  To facilitate this it includes 30 scenarios and associated maps that are meant to be suitable for any period.
One-Hour Wargames Scenario 8: Melee
The one we went with was Scenario 8: Melee, which features a hill, some woods and a road (see my sketchmap).  And as we were trying to do this in an hour, we even dispensed with any fancy frippery, like a basecloth, so it was quickly laid out on the bare kitchen table as you can see.  That's the road marked out with bluetack: Geoff has made a lot of scenery over the years but doesn't seem to have gotten around to roads yet.
Cue rendition of Walton's "March Past of the Kitchen Utensils"
For this scenario the game objective is control of the hill.  Red force (in this case, the French) starts with two units on the hill facing south and reinforcements come on in groups of two thereafter at preordained intervals.  Blue force (in this case, the Austrians) has to capture the hill but can only bring its units on three at a time, again at move numbers defined by the scenario rules.
Austrians deploy
The French (me) started with a "brigade" of line (3 bases) with artillery and light infantry on the hill.  Sensing the importance of the woods in front of the hill the light infantry were moved from their position on the right, across the front of the line brigade, whilst the Austrians advanced dragoons to threaten the objective, as well as pushing grenze up to contest the woods.  Other Austrian troops continued quickly up the main road intent on outflanking the initial French position.
View from behind French lines
Meanwhile (and probably too quickly) the first French reinforcements started to arrive (curassiers and more line, in bicorns), which were already making the Austrian attack look untenable.
French reinforcements arriving already
Still, the Austrians pressed on, the dragoons attacking the hill but being thrown back.  The grenze trying to get through the woods faired no better.
Austrian dragoons get a bloody nose
In quick succession the rest of the Austrians entered the field (all via the road) and the last of the French also came on, this time comprising the Old Guard and some hussars.  Meanwhile the Austrians were still persisting with their weak attack on the hill, as well as advancing curassiers and infantry up the road to try to outflank it and cut off the reinforcements.
View from French lines.  All troops on the table.
However, things did not go well for the Austrians (do they ever?).  The dragoons were pushed back down the hill by fire from the artillery and line infantry and then the curassiers thundered down on them as they stood in a disorganised state.
Austrian dragoons about to cop it.  Old Guard now on the hill as well.
Meanwhile on the French left the advancing Austrians were checked by a sharp and frankly suicidal attack by hussars on the Austrian curassiers.  It did the trick and contained them, whilst the Old Guard was able to invest the hill.
French hussars disordered in front of Austrian curassiers
And at that point after about ten moves, and two and a half hours of play, we had to end it, although it was clear that the Austrians were never going to budge the French.
Austrian dragoons really about to cop it.  Again.
Overall we found the scenario very simple and easy to set up.  Perhaps next time the arrival of French reinforcements should be determined by die throw, because they came on too quickly and too predictably for the Austrians to be able to even be able to develop the attack.

I should also add that we didn't actually use the rules in the One-Hour Games book, which we'd looked at and thought were a bit too simple even for us.  In fact we play-tested David Manley's Fast Play Napoleonic Rules (descibed as "DBA-esque via Fire & Fury"), which did the job but which we'd probably tweak if we were going to use them again.
15mm Roundway hussars
Footnote: troops used were Geoff's and a mixture of very old Hinchcliffe, Roundway, Naismith and Warrior miniatures, which all looked fairly compatible to me.


Ray Rousell said...

Cool looking game.

Kaptain Kobold said...

The OHW scenarios are pretty good, but the timings can be affected by the rules you use - they are obviously geared o the rules in the book. I've played Melee with my own rules, and it gives a close game; the reinforcement schedule is about right.

Phil said...

Nice looking game, with beautiful minis!