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Rank & File Battle of Wethau 1814

This weekend we fought a 15mm Napoleonic battle using Rank & File, partly because we hadn’t had the Napoleonic figures out in an age and partly to test some of the new rules for 2nd Rank & File.

Using 15mm for Rank & File we still kept to all of the same ranges, distances and rules but has two of the 15mm figure bases representing a single R&F base except for artillery where we kept 1:1. As all of the rules use the number of bases to calculate firing, break points, melee and so on it was an easy conversion to make and the game played much the same as it would in 28mm.

The first photos show the battlefield and the units available to both sides, though these turn up at various points during the battle. As umpire I knew when and where they would come on but the players didn’t.

The battle itself starts at midday with the French crossing in two grouping at a river and a ford. The Austrian Avante-Garde division is seriously outnumbered and needs to hold on long enough for their reinforcements to arrive on the field. As more Austrians arrived the battle swung with the French actually pushed back to the stream before their Dragoon division arrived on table.

What followed was a messy cavalry action with both sides throwing in more and more troops until finally the French forced the stream again, the weight of their dragoons along with the supporting infantry and artillery being too much for the Austrian cavalry.

In the meantime some much needed Austrian line infantry arrived along with a Russian cavalry brigade. Unfortunately two regiments of these were Cossacks but surprisingly they managed to pass their Elan tests and actually make a charge! Even so their main contribution was to increase the Austrian army break point.

Both sides continued to fight each other to a bloody standstill until we called it a draw as darkness was falling.

I think I’d be quite happy using 15mm figures for Rank & File again in the future but my plan is still to paint up a brigade or so of French so we can do some more 28mm Napoleonic games next year.

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Battle of Carlisle – Jacobite Rank & File

Now that the world has started to re-open we have been playing a few more games and the latest is part of a Jacobite campaign that we are playing through using Rank & File with a lot of the rule changes that I am thinking of adding to the second edition. The main changes for the new version are no stand removal and a new command system.

The Battle of Carlisle is the third in the campaign, both of the others being Jacobite victories. The poor quality Government forces haven’t been able to cope with the Jacobite tactic of advancing as fast as possible and charging straight into their opponents. Simple but effective.

As the Jacobite army moves south so the Government have more regular troops available to stop then and the third battle sees the Jacobites outnumbered but, with no other real alternative, still on the attack. The Government forces deployed in a strong position, between two streams, with a village on their right and prepared earthworks to their front. As the morning mist clears the Jacobite army appear to be well concealed.

Overnight flank march, who would have guessed? As the Jacobite army turns up on the flank the Government forces scramble to face. Forcing the opposing army to try to redeploy meant a lot of command activation rolls to try to get units into position to face the real threat.

The first line of Government troops put up a good fight, being better quality than the previous losers helped but they were still overwhelmed by the first charge, they did cause a lot of damage to the Jacobite units though and all were at 50% strength or less when they had to take on the second line Government units.

The mid battle saw increasingly desperate charges by the Jacobites to try to break the Government army but with both sides close to their army break point the carnage continued. At noon more Jacobites were sighted, troops that had been under siege in Carlisle break out and though severely depleted march to join the fray.

Unfortunately even these new troops couldn’t tip the balance and the Government forces held their position, the cavalry finally starting to make an impression hitting weak Jacobite units. The writing was on the wall and the Jacobite commander reluctantly orders the army to withdraw.

Once again the battle showed the depth that is added by a campaign setting. The game itself was played out over two evenings and as I wasn’t in control of any troops I got to see both sides grimly looking at the battlefield and discussing whether they should order a retreat or not!

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1814 Campaign Battle of Sezanne

The first major battle of our 1814 Campaign took place just outside Sezanne, troops were arriving throughout the day but the battle itself didn’t start until late afternoon. With little time to gain a victory the cautious French pushed forward too slowly to crush the Allies in front of them and the commander decided that they ‘should wait for more troops to turn up’ and the battle petered out towards nightfall. The scene is set for a much larger battle the next day.

It is interesting to see the difference between a campaign battle and a one off scenario. Players are far less willing to throw troops forward and simply hope for the best!

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Fort Donelson Rank & File ACW Scenario

Our club puts on a game at the excellent WMMS show every year, in 2020 it was a Rank & File ACW battle ‘Fort Donelson’. We played this out twice, once as a test and then for real at the show. I designed the scenario to be a fairly even fight but I think with hindsight the victory conditions for the CSA are a little too hard. A closely fought battle even so.

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1814 Napoleon at Bay Campaign

I have recently started a Napoleonic campaign at the local club based on the Boardgame ‘Napoleon at Bay’ covering the 1814 campaign. Rather than use the detailed hex map I changed it to an area based campaign map.

The boardgame rules were ignored and instead the campaign uses a simple area movement system with various speeds for different troop types.

Army lists have been put together from various sources including the game itself and historical OB’s culled from the internet and books. I don’t pretend that they are perfect but its enough to say that the French have their work cut out for them!

Grey area names denote major towns while those with a thick border are fortress towns. Supply sources are indicated at the edges of the map, blue for French and red for Allied. A PDF download of the map is available on the March Attack game page.

The first major battles at Brienne and Chalons will have some battle reports for the blog when I sort through the photos. Because of the size of the armies I used a simplified version of March Attack, ‘Quick march Attack’ for these big battles.

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Wargamer Show 2019

I’ve always liked the Wargamer show in Birmingham, it was one of the very first shows that I attended as a trader back in the days when I used to sell Crusader Miniatures myself. The past few years saw a couple of changes in venue and I have to admit I didn’t like the latest one. The show is now split over a couple of floors, 2 main halls and some side rooms – I don’t really think this set up works well for traders or for visitors. Still, I’ll be there in 2020 too.

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Balance of Power Marlburian 28mm

The Balance of Power rules were designed to cover pretty much the whole of the ‘horse & musket’ period after the end of widespread use of pike blocks. Lots of the games played have been 15mm mid 1800’s so it was a nice change to be able to use some bigger figures for an earlier period battle.

One of the guys at our club has a spectacular (can’t think of any other way to describe it) Marlburian collection and some of it was out on the tables for our club demo game.