Sunday, 23 February 2020

Goya’s theory – part 2

Thanks to everyone who chipped in with suggestions on my last post, there were many interesting opinions and rule ideas given. One of the ideas I liked was that of making the attacking column deploy into line if the defenders looked too hard. To simulate this, I made the following rule adjustments –

1. If a column declares a charge on a line and the line passes its morale test with good morale the column must halt and deploy into line instead of completing a charge.
2. Remove the +1 morale bonus for charging units
3. A British volley is defined as 6 or more figures firing at close range (not 12 as previously, to allow disordered units to still have a morale effect on chargers).

The French come on in the same old style, except that somehow they seem to have shot Picton!
The Swiss make a charge on the Brunswickers who become disordered following their morale check. However, after receiving a half-effect volley and canister fire the Swiss are stopped in their tracks.
On the other flank, the Black Watch have survived their 'unit charged' morale check forcing the 9th legere to deploy into line.
Next move and its the turn of the Poles and 45th ligne to charge.
Both are disordered and stopped by the enemy musketry. The French will have to settle for a fire-fight.

It made for a very interesting little game and I liked the subtlety of changing formation while the next column moved up to have a crack at the line. It was quite satisfying to see the French attack stall and then fail, however I do wonder if this has tipped things too far in favour of the defence. When I get more time, I will try a game with tweaked morale factors only.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Goya's theory

Goya noted some time ago that in my rules Muskets & Marshals columns will invariably succeed in an attack against line. Being an admirer of Wellington (he has every army in 20mm vintage except French) he found this a bit hard to swallow and even went as far as to send me a clever spreadsheet that would calculate the odds. I can’t remember the outcome exactly, but I think it was that columns would triumph 9 times out of 10.

I do agree that in a straight-out column against line scenario this is probably correct but in full blown battle where other factors interfere my hope is that the odds are better. I’m heartened to recall that in the Vintage Waterloo game 7 units of Imperial Guard failed to dislodge the British from the ridge. Ok, so the British had a plus for being on a hill and another for being behind a hedge (never did understand where that hedge came from) and had suffered very few casualties from the French artillery but that’s my point – other factors come into play that stop the outcome being totally predictable.

So, to prove or disprove Goya’s Theory I set up the table to play a small column vs. line scenario. An Allied brigade in line held a ridge facing a French division in column trying to force them off. This is how it played out -

Uxbridge has a brigade of British infantry in line on a ridge with the Black Watch on the right and Brunswickers on the left. The British have one battery of field artillery. Across the valley Eugene has four columns of French infantry supported by two gun batteries.
By the time the French get within charging distance they have taken quite a few casualties but their morale is holding well. The British haven't taken a single casualty yet.
Drat, that Goya is right! The Swiss have successfully charged and routed the Brunswickers whilst on the opposite flank the 9th legere have broken the Black Watch. In the centre the Poles have been disordered by some rather devastating canister fire while the 45th ligne remain in good order. 

I played the game through 5 times with a total of 10 French column attacks taking place. The columns succeeded in breaking the lines 7 times, a slightly better result for line than the theory suggested but still showing that Goya is basically correct.

I plan to expand the test scenario to include other factors like more artillery, cavalry threatening the flanks of the columns, skirmishers etc. to see if the odds can be evened up. I’m a bit loath at this stage to tinker around with morale and melee factors as this could have unforeseen effects on the balance of the game elsewhere.

Monday, 17 February 2020

French Infantry – update

Well, the cabin appears to have survived last night’s storm although a tiny trickle of water did manage to penetrate through a knot hole – hardly surprising given the strength of the wind. The French infantry on my painting desk must have been glad to have their greatcoats.

Not a whole lot of progress with just 6 figures finished but I do have the other 18 all prepared and undercoated. Now I just need to knuckle down and get the painting properly underway.

The delay is partly due to the distraction of playing a solo 6mm ACW wargame over the last couple of weeks. For those of you interested in such things I’ve resurrected my old ACW blog rather than post it here. There is a link in the side bar or just click here.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

French Infantry – test figure

After playing the last game I realised that the French Line Infantry were a bit short of recruits as they are quite badly outnumbered by the allies. This is due to the rapid expansion of the Prussian army last year plus additions to the Russians. To even things up I have just started work on the 24th Line Regiment which will be made up of marching figures from the 1807-12 range.

The rank and file will be formed from the figure shown which is FN/16 Voltigeur 1807/12 in plumed shakos (marching). So where are the plumes I hear you ask? Well unfortunately the original owner of these figures had decided to cut them down and also to remove their epaulets. Reconstructing them would be time consuming and fiddly so they will have to stay demoted to the line infantry.

The figures had dark brown coats when I acquired them, but I decided to go with grey on the re-paint. There will also be a company of marching grenadiers (without greatcoats) and the usual command figures to complete this unit.