Showing posts with label lace wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lace wars. Show all posts

Friday, 10 November 2017

Honours of War - Lobositz

We gave Osprey's 'Honours of War' a try last night, refighting the battle of Lobositz.

The attacking Prussians are on the left and their Austrian opponents are on the right.

A cavalry attack in the centre. This went as well as most of my other cavalry attacks; it looked impressive and ended in disaster.

On the Prussian left, Daniel attempted to clear Austrian light infantry from the olive groves.

Meanwhile our infantry advanced against Lobositz itself.

That also went as well as can be expected, with the attack stalling in the face of concentrated musketry and close-range artillery fire.

Everyone seemed to like the mechanisms of the game, with alternating command activations, a simple modified die roll for combat results and fairly flexible movement away from the enemy. Like any game it will take repeated plays to work out how to play it (as opposed to just understanding the rules themselves. Supporting friendly units is essential, and gives good combat modifiers, but units can retreat or rout a long way, and interpenetration damages units passed through, so managing your reserves and supports looks tricky. Gary moderated the game, but four of us, who hadn't read the rules before, were able to play the game through to a conclusion within the evening. And we had minimal rules queries at the end of it. That's a good sign, if nothing else.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Succession Wars - Part 2

The Wars of Illawarran Succession continued last night, with six of us playing another round of our ongoing Maurice campaign. I am ashamed to say that I can't remember what the actual alliances were. I think that Daniel, John and I (playing Russia, Prussia and Sweden respectively) were allied against Caesar, Peter and Gary (Britain, Austria and the Ottomans). I could be wrong.

Anyway, I ended up facing Peter's Austrians, one of the front-runners in the campaign, and a seasoned army with no national advantages and loads of troops. Here I am, outnumbered two to one in just about everything and somehow on the offensive. Very Swedish. Basically doomed.

 I didn't have any terrain to hide behind and neither did the Austrians have any reason to come ut and attack me, so in I went.

Hey! Since I'm outnumbered, why don't I attack the strongest part of the Austrian position - the town. My flawed reasoning was that I could take it quickly, then try and hold it for the rest of the game against a human-wave of experienced, and terribly cross, Austrians. I mean where's the flaw in a plan like that?

But we're Swedes, and always up for a fight. In we went. Out we came. In we went again. Out we came. and so on. Each time I had one fewer unit to worry about moving.

As I wobbled on the brink Peter's cavalry charged, and finished me off.

 So that was the first game over with a decisive Austrian win and a realisation on my part that I need to think about (i) better army design and (ii) developing some tactics.

Here's the final position. At one point we did almost break the Austrians in the town, so it wasn't all bad.

Gary's Ottomans took on John's Prussians. They massed on one flank of the strong Prussian position ...

... turned their flank, and defeated them in a brisk battle.

Caesar's British and Daniel's Russians fought on the final table.

British pluck won over Russian stoicism.

This was the first set of engagements of a new war, but the Anglo/Turkish/Austrian Alliance won it quickly and convincingly, so we all now get a period of peace to rebuild our shattered (in some cases) armies. War will resume in a few weeks. I think I'm fighting the British.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Return To Zorndorf

On Thursday evening we had another go at the battle of Zorndorf using Maurice, this time with a scenario designed by Daniel. We had three players on each side, with about 70pts per player, so it was a a fairly large game. Daniel, John and Ralph took the Russians, whilst Gary, Satvik and I took on the task of attacking them with the Prussians.

The terrain was broken up with lots of marsh and woods, which tended to channel the Prussian attack. The Russians were initially content to sit and wait.

We decided to make Gary's attack on our right the main one; he would move in and start to roll up their line, I would pin in the centre and Satvik would simply hold on our left.

As Gary's troops moved in, the Russians advanced in confusion. This gave Gary's attack the foothold it needed.

I moved up in the centre, as Gary tried to force his way through a gap in the terrain. Unfortunately the firing rolls weren't up to the task, and the Russians held.

In the centre the Russians responded to my advance. concentrating on the left of my force with their elite infantry and giving me the sound drubbing I deserved for advancing unsupported.

Satvik advanced on our left, on the hope we could distract at least some of the Russians from mauling us elsewhere.

On our right Gary swung his cavalry around the Russian left and the inevitable cavalry action occurred. Although outnumbered the Russians seemed to get the better of it; numbers are no good if you can't bring them to bear.

My infantry even got charged by cossacks. Awkward.

Fortunately my camera ran out of power at that point, so the steady disintegration of the Prussian army went unrecorded. With our victory condition of breaking the Russian army obviously impossible to achieve, we graciously conceded to our gallant opponents.

There was some discussion concerning the balance of the scenario and especially the national characteristics in lay. The Russians had Rally To The Colours which is incredibly useful if you're on the defensive and don't have to move around much. A few times we took Russian units to the brink of breaking, only to see them fully recover. The fact that the terrain broke up our attack made coming up with a decent plan difficult, but I'll confess that, with hindsight, our initial deployment and overall strategy - giving our highest quality command to a player who hadn't played before, and then encouraging them to sit tight whilst they learned the game - possibly wasn't the best thing to do.

Thanks to Daniel for putting together what was still an entertaining and spectacular game.

As ever, Ralph has a more detailed report on his BLOG.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Henry Avery and the Mughals

Henry Avery,  known as Long Ben to his crewmen and associates was the most notorious pirate of his time. Dubbed "The Arch Pirate" and "The King of Pirates" by contemporaries, he earned his fame by becoming one of the few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle. He was also responsible for what was probably the most profitable raid in pirate history.

Born in England, around 1659, her briefly served in the Navy then aboard a slave-ship, before becoming a privateer in the service of Spain. When the Spaniards failed to pay the crew's wages, they mutinied, elected Avery as their captain, renamed their ship the Fancy and took the the high seas as pirates.

By 1695 Avery was operating in the Indian Ocean. Now in nominal command of a flotilla of six vessels, he headed to the Arabian Sea, to intercept the treasure fleet of the Grand Mughal which was on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. This fleet consisted of some 25 ships, including the massive Ganj-i-sawai, which mounted between 60 and 80 guns and carried hundreds of soldiers. As Avery's ships approached the fleet scattered into the night. Avery pursued, some of his ships falling behind and taking no further part in the enterprise. Eventually he caught up with the Fateh Muhammed, which was captured fairly easily, before then taking on the Ganj-i-sawai. In a bold attack, supported by another ship, the Pearl, Avery took the Mughal vessel in a two-hour fight. An orgy of rape, torture and slaughter of the crew and several hundred passengers ensued, at the end of which Avery had secured treasure to the value of what would now be over 50 million pounds.

The Great Mughal was outraged, and the English government and East India Company put a huge price on Avery's head in what was possibly the first ever global manhunt. Avery evaded capture, however, and retired to an unknown location. His final fate, and that of his treasure, is unknown.

Avery's attack on the Mughal fleet seemed to be a great little action to play out with Galleys and Galleons and my new pirate ships. I decided to tweak history a little, and condense the attacks on the Fateh Muhammed and Ganj-i-sawai onto the same table. I reality they'd really be individual actions.

I settled on the following forces:


Avery in the Fancy - Q3 C3 - Galleon Rig, Dread Pirate, Swashbucklers, Derring Do, Razee - 68pts

Portsmouth Adventure - Q3 C2 - Galleon Rig, Swashbucklers - 36pts

Pearl - Q4 C2 - Galleon Rig, Swashbucklers - 29pts

Mughal Fleet

Ganj-i-sawai - Q4 C5 - Galleon Rig, Flagship, High Castles, Drilled Soldiers, Merchant, Reinforced Hull, Stern Chasers - 77pts

Fateh Muhammed - Q4 C4 - Galleon Rig, Merchant, Drilled Soldiers - 35pts

Baghlah Surat - Q4 C3 - Galleon Rig, Merchant - 23pts

It would seem, from what limited information I can glean, that the Mughal ships would have been large dhows (very large; the Ganj-i-sawai was around 1600 tons), and would probably have had lateen rigs. I went with galleon rigs for the points, but if you chose to reduce them to lateen-rigged you could add a fourth ship with the same stats as the Baghlah Surat.

The Mughals set up in a corner first, with their goal being to exit off the opposite corner. They would get 4 points if the Ganj-i-sawai escaped, 3 for the Fateh Muhammed and 2pts for the Baghlah Surat. Destroying or capturing Avery's ship was worth 2pts and the other two pirate ships were worth 1pt each.

Avery's ships set up in an adjacent corner. The Fancy and Portsmouth Adventure set  course to intercept the treasure ships towards the centre of the table, whilst the Pearl was to work around behind them and maybe pick off the weaker Baghlah Surat.

The pirates would score 4pts if they could capture the Ganj-i-sawai, or force it to run aground. They would get 3pts for the Fateh Muhammed and 2 points for the Baghlah Surat. If a Mughal ship left the table at any point other than their designated exist point, the  the pirates would score 2pts if it was the Ganj-i-sawai, and 1pt each for the others.

The Mughals kept their line early on but reduced sail in order to force the pirates to show their hand before the treasure ships were committed to passing between the two reefs towards the centre of the table. The pirates moved forward to cover the gap.

The Pearl also worked into a good position to the rear of the Mughal line.

The Mughal force broke up. The Baghlah Surat turned to pass north of the reef and avoid the two main pirate ships altogether. The other two ships turned to pass south of the reef, shaving it close in order to avoid the pirates cutting in from two sides.

The problem for the pirates was timing. Despite being merchant ships, the Mughal vessels were still fairly powerful, and could only be taken down either by extremely good luck, or by the combined efforts of at least two pirate vessels. This meant that any attacks - especially boarding attempts - would have to go in simultaneously. Avery had Derring Do, of course, which could reduce the odds in his favour in one round of combat only.

The Pearl opened fire. Gunnery was to be mostly ineffective in this game.

And now the luck of the game took hold. The pirates were moving in cautiously, in order to avoid being raked by the larger Mughal ships. However the wind shifted counter-clockwise, leaving the pirates having to now work upwind to their prizes. A series of failed activation rolls on both sides saw the pirates immobile with the Mughals unwilling to try their guns.

The Fateh Muhammed had now worked past the pirates altogether. Avery decided that it was now too risky to try and take it on and have the possibility of the larger, more valuable, Ganj-i-sawai escape. So he let it go.

Poor sailing by the Ganj-i-sawai's crew saw it in trouble between the reef and an island. In normal circumstances this wouldn't be a difficult position from which to extricate themselves, but with treasure-hungry pirates bearing down on them, there wasn't the time or space to do anything clever.

The pirates were still missing opportunities, though, as the Fancy and Portsmouth Adventure completely failed to organise a run at the floundering Ganj-i-sawai.

The Fateh Muhammed made good its escape.

Finally! The Portsmouth Adventure ran aboard the Ganj-i-sawai and grappled, hoping the the Fancy would come up in support.

It didn't, as Avery's crew blundered again.

However the Ganj-i-sawai also failed to exploit the brief advantage it had over the Portsmouth Adventure, failing to launch a boarding action of its own in response.

This time Avery didn't fail, and he grappled the mighty Mughal ship as well. His crew swept across the decks of the Ganj-i-sawai, sweeping all before them, and leaving it ripe for the taking.

All it would take was the crew of the Portsmouth Adventure to strike in support. They tried, but a dogged defence by the Mughal soldiers on board repulsed their attack, At this point the captain of the Ganj-i-sawai went for a bold move, and ordered a counter-attack. The crew of the Portsmouth Adventure were driven back with fearful casualties. Emboldened the Mughals drove back Avery's next attack as well.

The Baghlah Surat attempted to creep past the action. But to the stern of the Ganj-i-sawai, the Pearl was coming after it.

Disaster! The Ganj-i-sawai's crew cut the grapples between them and the Portsmouth Adventure, leaving the Fancy's crew fighting alone. Avery's men decided that they'd had enough, and threw down their arms.

No longer grappled, the Portsmouth Adventure turned away from the massive Mughal ship. The Mughal gunners opened fire, and reduced the pirate vessel to matchwood.

The Ganj-i-sawai was under way again. But casualties amongst its crew had been heavy, and much confusion reigned on board. An order was misunderstood ...

... and the ship was run aground on the island.

The Fancy and the grounded Ganj-i-sawai were now blocking the escape of the Baghlah Surat which had to turn across the wind to find a way past. The Pearl had been in hot pursuit, but with the fighting obviously over elsewhere its crew became confused as well, and they tried to pass to the west of the small island.

Coral ripped the bottom out of their ship, and it sank.

The Mughals won a fairly convincing victory here, picking up 6pts for escaping ships (I assumed that their final vessel got away in its own time), and 4pts for captured or destroyed pirate ships. 10 points in total. The pirates picked up 4pts for the beached Ganj-i-sawai.

With plenty of Q4 ships in play it was inevitable that there would be some awkward activation failures. In addition the fact that Avery's ships had to work upwind into the attack didn't help. The Portsmouth Adventure took a few shots as it worked in, and only some lucky defence rolls prevented it being damaged. With hindsight Avery should have kept his three ships together, using the smaller two to grapple and board the Fateh Muhammed, whilst the Fancy delayed the Ganj-i-sawai until one of the other two ships could support him. Sending the rather useless Pearl off on its own was a recipe for failure.

My favourite moments were Avery's initial sweeping clear of the Ganj-i-sawai's decks, which promised so much, and then the Ganj-i-sawai running aground after its successful escape.

I first came across this action as a scenario for Wooden Ships and Iron Men in an issue of the Avalon Hill General, but for that game it was a rather uninteresting single-ship action. These rules, with the random activation and potential for disaster on the All At Sea table made for a much more interesting version.
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