Saturday, 29 August 2015

One Hour Wargames 12: An Unfortunate Oversight

The point of this scenario, taken from Neil Thomas' book One Hour Wargames, is that the defending commander has been tasked with holding the bridge (here's one (or rather two) I made earlier) but is unaware that there is also a ford in the vicinity which may allow him to be outflanked.
Nice bit of planking.
The scenario states that possession of the hill by the end would determine the victor.  This map shows our set-up, with the bridge on the left and the ford on the right.
OHW 12: An Unfortunate Oversight
This game pitched Napoleonic French against a ragbag of Coalition forces, comprising mainly Prussians with some British thrown in for no adequately explained reason. This was the initial setup, with two regiments of French foot trying to cross the bridge, with another two foot regiments plus dragoons and cuirassiers attempting to sneak round and flank the Allies via the ford.
French poised to cross the river at two points
You will notice that the battlefield is actually the reverse side of an old Subutteo pitch with the lines showing though, clearly indicating that this would be a game of two halves.
French infantry plus Mameluke general cross the bridge
As was required by the scenario, the game started with both wings of the French army trying to get across the river as fast as possible.  My scheme was to keep the Allies occupied on the left whilst my cavalry rushed across the ford on the right and grabbed the hill.  At least that was the plan.
French cavalry cross the ford (very old Hinchliffe figures)
However, with surprising alacrity the Allies pushed most of their forces towards the hill leaving a containment force on the French left.  The fight was on.
Prussians block French advance on the left
On the right the French cavalry raced towards the hill but the Prussians got there first.  Meanwhile the French infantry on the right followed up slowly.
View from French right - cavalry nearly at the hill.
Forcing some of the Prussian infantry into square, the cuirassiers were repulsed by close range fire as they crested the hill.  The looming presence of some Prussian dragoons didn't help.
Cuirassiers thankful they have backplates as well
Meanwhile on the French left a prolonged firefight developed with the French proving to have the advantage (eventually).
Prussian infantry running away (for a bit anyway)
However, this was of no help on the right, where the retreating cuirassiers were charged in the rear by the Prussian dragoons and routed.
Prussian dragoons crash into repulsed Cuirassiers
Unhelpfully, the other squadron of Prussian dragoons charged the French dragoons and they too wavered and fled.  The French infantry having just made it across the ford had no option but to form square and await their fate.
Dragoons rout, infantry in square, what else could go wrong?
Meanwhile on the left the Prussians were finding their resolve again, and although chased by a regiment of light infantry, the Prussians reformed, supported by troops from the centre.
For the French left, the tide is about to turn.
With the French right wing either routing or pinned in square the French left was not strong enough to take the hill, or indeed move out of the village, and started to waver and then crumble.  And there it ended after eight moves.
Endgame
Overall, this was quite disappointing performance by the French.  The 'unfortunate oversight' proved to be nothing of the sort as the Allies could quickly move to block the French advance on the right, whilst containing the smaller force on the left.  Perhaps next time I shouldn't split the French forces but then there would be even less to detain the enemy from rushing over to the ford to stop the advance.
It's hip to be square.
It may have worked if the crossing points were further apart or the Allies moved slower, or were inhibited in some way (such as by dice-enforced incompetence) but that was not how it turned out.

In case you were wondering, the figures consisted of Airfix and Esci 20mm plastics (it's not often you see Airfix plastic Highland light infantry on the table), and for historical reasons (and because the plastics aren't finished yet) the French cavalry and generals were represented by some (very) old "25mm" Hinchliffe figures, painted sometime last century.

The rules were WRG 1685-1845, which are still simple and elegant.  I don't know why people complain about the move sequence because we've never had trouble with it.  The only thing I noticed however, was the command and control aspect of it, as I'd forgotten how older rule-sets such as these often allow units to shoot off all over the place, without the requirement to maintain battle lines and higher level cohesion.  Nevertheless, they are still a serviceable set of rules which we will continue to use until we find something better.
Handmade buildings
Finally, the terrain was all scratch built, including the buildings.  You can't tell but the cottage on the right started off as a box that a Hornby goods wagon came in (it's not in there now) and the stones on the chimney were all lovingly hand carved by Geoff from a piece of plywood.