The Napoleonic Wars, Black Powder, 28mm
This time we were celebrating the return of two intertwined old favourites. the first was Bill Gilchrist, lured back to the club after a period of illness, holidays and cat-sitting distractions. the second was Black Powder, Bill’s favourite rules set. In fact I’m sure the only way we could get him here was to let him run a BP game… He chose La Granja de la Abundancia, a scenario from the Albion triumphant booklet for Black Powder. The premise was that winter was coming in Spain, and both sides needed supplies to squirrel away. Abundance Farm was the place for them, and so two forces appeared, determined to capture the place. So, this was a classic “Capture the Flag” scenario. the farm (on the right of the picture above)was worth 6 points, and other hamlets in the area were worth either 1 or 3 points, depending on who held them. The two hills closest to the farm were worth 1 point each, while the hill overlooking the “T-junction” was worth three points. You also lost a point for every unit you lost by the end of the game. The highest scoring side were the winners. All fairly straightforward, and strangely symmetrical. The map below, by the way, is reproduced courtesy of Warlord Games. The two forces were pretty similar too, with two or three infantry brigades per side, and a cavalry brigade. the French had the advantage of a horse artillery battery and an extra unit of cavalry, while the Allies had a couple of extra skirmish units. I say allied, as only one unit of British was on the table – the 16th Light Dragoons, while the French side was all German, Polish or Italian, apart from the three cavalry regiments and their horse guns. The game was played out on an 8×6 foot table, with both sides appearing at their respective hamlets. Mark, Bart and I played the French, while the Allies were run by Peter, Alistair and Campbell. Bill umpired, although I suspect he secretly favoured his brand-new Portuguese brigade… So, before we started you had to work out your order of march before the game began, and unsurprisingly both sides led with their cavalry. Soon two cavalry columns were snaking their way south from their respective hamlets, on either side of the wood.Fortunately my French horsemen beat Campbell’s Allied ones to the draw, and reached the farm first. Although they couldn’t occupy it then at least we could deny it to the enemy, and use our horse guns to keep them at bay. Following close behind was Mark’s German brigade of four battalions (two Baden, one Nassauer and one Hessian), backed up by a battery of Baden guns. With them ensconced in the farm the objective was safely in French hands. Mark was even able to detach the battery, which alongside a regiment of my chasseurs-a-cheval deployed to the east of the wood, to prop up Bart’s left flank. Seeing they’d lost the race the Allied cavalry declined to charge. Instead it held its ground, and sent word to the infantry columns marching behind them. The two brigades of Portuguese – a total of six battalions and a gun battery – were immediately diverted to the central hill by the “T-junction”. Bart was facing them with four battalions – two of Poles, and two of Italians, backed by a Polish battery. The new Allied plan was to overwhelm Bart’s command, and seize the French-occupied hamlet. That would compensate for the loss of the farm, and give them the edge in points. So, the two sides squared off against each other. Peter decided to launch a veteran Portuguese battalion at the Polish guns, which had turned to enfilade another Portuguese column. The charge went home, and the guns were overrun. That though, left the Portuguese out on a limb. and the next turn they were hit in the flank by my chasseurs-a-cheval. they retired in disorder, and were only saved by some lucky dice rolling. The melee continued, allowing Peter to throw in another Portuguese battalion. It ended with the cavalry retiring, but in good order, and the Portuguese extracting themselves to lick their woundsBart though, wasn’t to be left out. He’d just had one of his Polish battalions driven from the field by the Portuguese brigade assaulting his right wing. So, to save the day he extended the line with his Italians, and sent his remaining Polish battalion in a charge towards the Portuguese lines. His excuse was that the Portuguese were still disordered. It almost worked too. He chopped up one Portuguese battalion, but in the end he was outnumbered and forced to retire. Incidentally, marks Baden battery had been firing throughout all of this, but it never hit a bloody thing all evening. In the end Bart was forced to fall back remaining troops So, that put us two points down, for two lost units, and one point up for Bart’s “kill”. We still had the edge in points, but only just. We landed up stripping one of the German battalions from the farm’s garrison to prop up Bart’s flank, and my unit of chasseurs-a-cheval had now reformed and were ready for business again. that was enough to slow the Allied advance up there. At that point Bill the umpire declared it was the last turn. Now, after seizing the farm my cavalry had done little or nothing, apart from that charge into the Portuguese flank. So, in the spirit of the wargaming “last turn syndrome” I unleashed my lancers at the KGL hussars on the hill in front of me. I did well, but not well enough. It turns out that in Black Powder that all British and KGL cavalry are “ferocious”, which lets them re-roll failed melee hits. This made them all-powerful, and my lancers were shaken and driven back. their morale held though, and thanks to the support of the German brigade the German hussars had to retire too. So much for my last turn cavalry change. Campbell tried the same thing too with his Light Dragoons, but failed to charge home. SO, the battle for “Abundance Farm” came to an end. Counting up the points it turned out we had 6 points for the farm, and 1 each for the hill and our hamlet, making 8 points. We had one more for the broken Portuguese unit, for a total of 9 points. The Allies only had 5 points for their objectives (3 points for “T-junction” hill and 1 each for their smaller hill and the hamlet. They scored two “kills” though, which brought them up to a total of 7 points. So, the game was duly declared a French victory, with 9 points to 7 in their favour. The whole game ran pretty smoothly. Bill has run this scenario three times now (and I played it once before, on the other side), but this was the closest-run game he’d staged. We could have done better if we’d supported Bart better, but our whole plan centred on taking the farm, and blocking the other flank. The Allied third infantry brigade of two Spanish battalions never really got into the fight – and neither did their two units of skirmishers, who occupied the wood. So, both sides could have done better. The main thing though, was that it was a fun game, and well-balanced. I can see us returning to “Abundance Farm” again some time.First though, those Baden gunners need some retraining…fancy uniforms clearly aren’t enough!