Showing posts with label liberation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label liberation. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Maipo Again

I played another refight of Maipo this afternoon. With next door deciding to pressure-wash their driveway and the house over the road trying to offset the noise with some 'tunes' I wouldn't say my concentration was at its best, but I gave it a good go.

Here's the armies set up. I went for an ahistorical deployment, sticking the Chilean infantry on the patriot right and the Argentinians on the left. The far left of the Patriot army was covered by the Horse Grenadiers. The Royalists were in a standard deployment; some infantry and artillery on the isolated hill, their cavalry covering their right flank and the elite infantry in the centre.

The Patriot plan of attack was to lead with the Horse Grenadiers, advance the Argentinians against the centre and hold back the more vulnerable Chileans, simply using them to cover against any advance by the Royalist left

It was a plan which relied on the Horse Grenadiers sweeping a; before them. The aim was to inflict all of the casualties required to win on the Royalist right by setting up flank attacks. But first the Royalist cavalry had to be eliminated.

The Royalist cavalry held, and some of their infantry swung around to aid them.

The Horse Grenadiers fought their way out of the sticky situation initially, eliminating some Royalist cavalry ...

... but losing some Horse Grenadiers to the flanking infantry.

The Argentinian infantry was now in position and engaging the Royalists with musketry. However without the decisive cavalry attack coming in from the flank the Royalists held firm.

San Martin ordered an advance by the bulk of the Chilean infantry. Their columns drove back the Royalist left.

However the attack on the Royalist right was still stalled, the centre was basically unopposed and now the Royalists on the extreme left were advancing on the exposed Chilean flank.

San Martin ordered a bayonet attack down the line. This broke some Royalists, but the rest rallied and held.

The Royalist left counterattacked, and the Chileans were shattered, falling back.

Meanwhile the Royalist right held firm. The Patriots actually only had to destroy two more elements to win the battle, but couldn't quite finish them off.

The Royalist line reformed, looking as strong as ever.

One last Patriot attack failed to break them, and the loss of another element of infantry took them over their breakpoint, giving the Royalists the victory.

The Patriot plan was a bold one, relying on the cavalry winning quickly, and that didn't happen. Holding back the Chileans isn't a bad idea, as they are vulnerable to unlucky combat rolls. This is something I need to think about with these rules; militia can be very fragile and possibly too fragile. But changing it won't be as simple as I'd hoped.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Maipo 200

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Maipo, which basically secured Chile's independence from Spain, so obviously I decided that I would have to refight it.

I have, in fact, games it a few times, most of which are covered on this blog. Here's some links to the relevant posts:

Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Liberated Hordes)
Refight (Rocket's Red Glare)

For those not in the know, here's a brief history.

For a start, everything I've read for the past few years has called it the Battle of Maipú. However I've called it Maipo for the past 20 years and I'm going to stick to that.

Anyway, in February 1817, José de San Martín led an army across the Andes, defeated the Spanish  and captured Santiago. This is the campaign that includes the battle of Chacabuco, which I've refought a few times before. Look it up. I'll wait.

San Martin set Bernardo O'Higgins up as the Supreme Director of Chile and, a year after Chacabuco, O'Higgins declared Chile independent. However, the Spanish viceroyalty sent an army to Santiago under General Osorio and the Patriot armies were defeated at the Battle of Cancha Rayada in March 1818. After their defeat, the Patriots regrouped, rebuilt their army in a matter of days, and eventually numbered about about 6,000 men, a mixture of Argentinians and Chilean patriots.

Meanwhile, Gen. Osorio realised that he had not defeated the Patriot army conclusively at Cancha Rayada, and moved against them. They met near south of Santiago, at Maipo.

Both armies formed up on ridges, facing each other across a valley. The Patriots outnumbered the Royalists, but their army was less experienced and was still recovering from the earlier defeat at Cancha Rayada. In addition the Royalist army contained a regiment of Spanish veterans from the Peninsular campaign.

After an ineffective artillery bombardment, San Martin advanced against the Royalists on both flanks,  and drove back their left. The Royalists counterattacked, mostly in the centre where their better troops were stationed, but the Patriots held and pushed them back. The solid Spanish units held off attack after attack but eventually gave ground, and Osorio fled the field. His successor managed to rally part of the army, but it was too late and the Patriots forced them to surrender, winning a decisive victory.

As I have done many times before, I used my Liberated Hordes HOTT variant for the refight, and my 6mm figures on 25mm frontage stands. This gives a teeny-tiny game with a massed battle look.

This is the terrain. The Royalists would set up to the right and the Patriots to the left. Some of the Royalists had to set up on the smaller hill in the foreground.

The Patriot army, a mix of regular and militia infantry with a solid striking force of elite cavalry.

The Royalist army; smaller, but with a core of elite infantry veterans.

And the deployment. Caesar took the Patriots, whilst I took the Royalists. Both armies had to set up entirely on their own ridge, except that the Royalists had to deploy three elements on the isolated hill. The Royalists deployed first.

Actually I think this is one of the first times I've tried this battle with a 'free' deployment, rather than replicating the historical setup.

The rather poor Royalist cavalry deployed on the right. In the distance you can see the Patriot cavalry deployed to advance and destroy them

Caesar simply used his artillery to cover his right. I advanced my isolated infantry towards it, hoping to turn the Patriot flank.

Caesar went for a classic attack; he formed his infantry up into columns and advanced as quickly as possible. The first exchanges of musketry saw losses on both sides. The low-quality Chilean infantry suffered particularly badly. However the Patriot artillery eliminated some of the infantry advancing against them.

Poor PIPs held the patriot cavalry back at this stage. The Royalists stayed on the safety of the hill.

Caesar used San Martin's general bonus to push as many of his troops forward as possible, and broke up the Royalist line some more.

The Patriot cavalry attacked. One element of Royalist horse ran away instantly, but the other put up more of a fight, pushing back its opponent.

At this point the Royalist PIPs dried up, and their left flank was only able to mount a half-hearted attack on the Patriot right.

With his army falling back, the coward Osorio decided to quit the field. Marvellous.

This left the Royalists even more starved for PIPs and only one element away from defeat. Caesar launched attacks on two vulnerable Royalist units: the remaining cavalry and one of the units of Spanish regulars. Both elements saw off their opponents. Now was the time for the Royalist army to pull together and inflict enough damage on the patriots to drive them off.

They rolled another '1' for PIPs, and for the second bound in a row none of the Royalist troops moved. Their cavalry couldn't hold out forever, and its loss broke the army giving the patriots a win.

This was a pretty straightforward game, but we both enjoyed it. Once again the shaky quality of the Patriots made their attack risky, but the quality of the elite Horse Grenadiers saw them through. The Royalists have good troops poorly commanded, and spent a lot of the game in a state of command paralysis. If the same paralysis happens to the Patriots then the Royalists can pull of a win, but that didn't happen in this game.

So, for our 200th anniversary refight a Patriot win, securing the liberation of Chile, was the right result.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

La Batalla de Chacabuco

Yesterday, whilst searching for information for a forthcoming game, I came across this five-minute news report (from Chile, I assume) about last year's 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chacabuco. It's in Spanish, so good luck with that, but has some nice shots of the scenery, some reenactors (mixed, it has to be said, with what appear to be modern soldiers) and some earnest-looking talking heads. I thought it was worth sharing though.

Oh, and there's some toy-soldiers as well.

La Batalla de Chacabuco

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

One Hour With The Scum Of The Earth

One of the nice things about 'Scum of the Earth' is that it's pitched at around the six unit mark, which seems to make it a perfect set of rules to use for the scenarios in One Hour Wargames. I decided to put that to the test this evening, and played the Control The River scenario using two South American Wars of Liberation forces.

I generated random forces, with a slight fiddle to the tables to limit artillery to one piece maximum. The Royalists got an artillery piece, along with four infantry and some skirmishers. The Patriots had four infantry and four cavalry. I decided I wanted to try out characters and traits as well. The Patriot Llanero cavalry was rated as Fierce, giving them a bonus in close combat, but to offset this, two of their infantry units were classed as Rabble. In addition I gave each side a musician, standard-bearer and sergeant to assign to three different units, allowed two random units on each side to be Steady, allowing them to resist fire better, and made one unit on each side Impetuous, which meant that they advanced towards the enemy if under ineffective fire.

I didn't keep detailed notes; keeping track of the game was work enough. The patriots put their cavalry and a particularly steady infantry unit on once flank, relying on their less useful infantry to take, or contest, the other ford as best they could. The Royalists put the gun and skirmishers on one flank, and massed their infantry on the other. I randomly scattered some additional rough ground around the board, as this style of game really needs more rough than the scenarios usually provide.

On the one flank there was a fierce firefight across the river (impassable except at the fords). The Royalists got the better of it, driving the Patriots back into the woods, and advancing to take the objective. The Patriots made a bold try at a counter-attack, but it never really came off.

On the other flank the cavalry swept over the river, and easily overwhelmed the Royalist gun. But both units came unstuck against a stolid infantry unit that saw both of them off, one by rout and the other by elimination. Cavalry is useful under these rules, but with only three actual figures per unit they are somewhat brittle if things go against them.

The lone Patriot infantry unit on that flank was left fighting alone, which it did with some skill, holding firm against both Royalist musketry and bayonets, and inflicting more hits than it took.

However eventually reinforcements arrived from the other flank, where the Patriots had finally scattered, and the brave soldiers of what you can see was The British Legion, were forced to withdraw.

So, another Royalist victory.

I tried a few rule changes which are under consideration: clarified movement, and a more logical effect for rough terrain, as well as a 6" rout move which kept units in play for a lot longer, and allowed both sides a chance to regroup and reorganise. I didn't feel there were any problems with any of the changes. Keeping track of the abilities wasn't too bad, but I'm not sure I'd want any more in play than I used. I never really got a feel for how artillery worked in the game; the Royalist gun fired one shot before its crew were put to the lance. 

The game played out in eleven turns, which seems to be par for the course in the OHW scenarios. They did seem to be a suitable set of rules for trying the scenarios with; I shall give them another go at some point.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Scum Of The Earth

Nordic Weasel have been around for a while, producing interesting-looking skirmish and small-unit games which I have read, read about and somehow never managed to play. However I read a review of his latest offering the other day - Scum of the Earth - and decided that it was time I stopped reading and started playing.

Scum of the Earth is available HERE in (at the time of writing) a beta test version. The plus side of this is that you pay what you want for it; nothing if you truly are the scum of the earth and lots if you are true Lady or Gentleman of Honour.

They are described as 'Black Powder' rules for people with 'dusty miniatures shelves'. That is, they are designed to cover 18th and 19th century actions, and also designed to make use of that handful of figures from that era that a hypothetical short attention-span wargamer has on his or her shelves. The scale is a bit nebulous; units consist of six infantry or three cavalry figures, but since the rules comment that, if you are using 6-10mm figures, a 'figure' can be a base of 3-5 models, we can assume that they represent more than six individuals. It's definately pitched as a skirmish-level game, though. Let's assume a unit is 30-50 infantry, or up to 25 cavalry tops, and leave it at that. The starter game suggests 3-5 units per side. There are optional rules for artillery, although it does point at that at this scale you wouldn't be using it.

Essentially this game is a ruthlessly simple game set at about the same level as Sharp Practice.

And it is ruthlessly simple. All rolls are on a single D6, with an Average die used for firing. Movement is a D6 in inches, plus or minus modifiers for formation and type. Firing and close combat are by unit, and consist of opposed rolls. Units lose figures, but mostly disappear through routing, with a loss of one or two figures making a rout more likely in close combat. Both forms of combat can be brutal. There are a couple of pages of optional rules at the end for characters to add to your units, rules for leaders and rules for different unit characteristics. These are what you would expect - the odd +/- modifier in particular circumstances, or the ability to ignore something.

Anyway, I bought a copy (paying more than $0), and set up a game. I used my 6mm South American Wars of Liberation troops, with no special abilities or leaders - three units of infantry and one of light cavalry per side. I used one Irregular Miniatures stand to represent one figure in the game.

Terrain was a series of rocky hills - I just rearranged my Chacabuco terrain from yesterday, with a farm in the centre. The two forces were foraging parties after supplies. Victory would go to whoever held the farm.

The Patriots quickly moved to occupy the farm. In fact the rules aren't clear how buildings work. I treated the farm as bad going which offered no cover unless the unit adopted skirmish formation, at which point they could spread out around the perimeter.

The Royalists formed up into columns to assault the farm. One came under fire and was shaken.

The other column got held up in the rocks.

Eventually the Royalists got their act together and attacked the farm, routing the defenders.

The two cavalry units had fought wide out on the flank, and the Royalists had eventually routed. The Patriot cavalry swung round to threaten the Royalists attacking the farm, forcing one into square. But a firefight around the farm saw the Patriot infantry driven off, so a charge by their cavalry was all that was left. The Royalists came out of square in order to shoot, and paid the price, despite the Patriot cavalry struggling through the rough terrain, but musketry from the farm drove off the horse and won the day for the Royalists.

The game was quick, brutal and surprisingly fun, given the simple mechanisms. Most of it was obvious in play, but I did have a few queries or reservations.

(i) I confess that I didn't find the bad going rules intuitive, with units sometimes not moving even if they only intend to enter terrain. However I shall persevere and see if it makes more sense in future games.

(ii) I liked the reaction rule, where the passive player gets to move a unit. However with only one minor exception, this can only be triggered by a unit failing to move in bad going.

(iii) I had units roll for movement to change formation, with a discarded dice meaning that they didn't manage it. I rather like the idea of *any* formation change rolling, with a 1 being a fail and, of course, triggering a reaction. This would mostly deal with my reaction move reservation in Point (ii).

(iv) I wasn't sure what the penalties for cavalry attacking into bad going where. I assumed that a unit attacking something in bad going had to roll as if it were entering/crossing it, so obviously a failure to move is a possibility. But cavalry don't seem to lose their +1 combat bonus, unless the target is formed up. But I shall play this unchanged for now and see how it goes.

(v) Finally, the routing rules seemed to be mostly redundant. There are rules for rallying units which rout, but since a unit routs 12" and the recommended board is only 24" square, most routs take a unit off the table and out of the game anyway. Perhaps a routing unit should stop at the table edge, or not travel so far. A routing unit that fails to rally is very vulnerable, and moves 6" if attacked, so a 6" rout would keep units in the fight whilst removing those that cocked up the rally. In addition I'd perhaps make the rally roll one point more difficult if the unit is also shaken, since shaken doesn't seem to have much of an effect otherwise.

I shall try some more games of this, and see how they go.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Chacabuco 200

OK, so it's not quite got the same cachet as Waterloo 200, but today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chacabuco, a key action in the fight for Chilean independence from Spain.

I've have played, and reported, this battle before a couple of times, which means that I already have a potted history ready to go.

The Battle of Chacabuco was fought on 12th February 1817 in Chile. Briefly, the patriot general San Martin marched an army across the Andes from Argentina with the aim of liberating Chile from Spanish rule, allying with an Army under the Chilean patriot Bernardo O'Higgins. A force of Royalist troops, under General Maroto were rushed to meet them, and blocked their advance at Chacabuco Valley.

San Martin attacked the small Royalist force, splitting his forces such that part of his army, under O'Higgins, would hold the Royalists to their front, whilst the other part, under General Soler, would march by narrow mountain paths around the Royalist left and attack them there. The plan worked up to a point. Initially O'Higgins just exchanged fire with the Royalist line, but then for reasons still not clear, he attacked. This could have been due to a certain impetuosity on his part, or it has been suggested that he saw the Royalists about to advance from their positions and was concerned that he would be trapped in the narrow valley through which he was advancing. Whatever the reason, his attack spurred San Martin to take direct control of the battle, ordering his elite Horse Grenadiers up in support. At that moment, Soler arrived on the Royalist left, and the combined attack collapsed the Royalist army. Part of it rallied at a farm in the Royalist rear. but it was soon forced to surrender.

The bulk of the Royalist forces fled Chile and O'Higgins was installed as Supreme Director. Whilst Chile's complete liberation wouldn't occur for another year or so, this was the beginning of the end for Royalist rule.

The battle is a small one. The Royalists had about 1200 men on the field, whilst the Patriots ended up with about 1500 in action, some of Soler's flank marchers not being engaged at all.

I had some vague plans last year to refight it using Black Powder, but I've never really progressed them To be honest, I can't rouse the enthusiasm when I know that my own 'Liberated Hordes' HOTT variant gives a perfectly acceptable game. So it's those rules I turned to today.

I used the following OOBs

Patriot - Five Regular Infantry and two Elite Cavalry in the main force with one Regular Infantry and one Elite Cavalry in the flanking force.

Royalists - Five Regular Infantry, one Regular Skirmisher, one regular Artillery and one Militia Cavalry.

This is based roughly on one base being equal to 200 infantry or 100-150 cavalry.

San Martin was rated as a Good commander, whilst Maroto was rated Poor.

I did make one change to the game. Both armies are quite small, so I felt that a full D6 of PIPs was a bit much, and wouldn't create sufficient command stress. So I used the following: A roll of 1 was 1 PIP, 2-3 was 2 PIPs, 4-5 was 3 PIPs and 6 was 4 PIPs. Maroto's Poor rating would still kick in on rolls of '6', but converting a second 4 PIP roll to 1 PIP. The change worked quite well, forcing both sides to make tricky choices at key moments.

I went for a mostly historical setup. This is the start of the battle from behind the Patriot lines as they enter the valley. The Royalists are formed up in the distance.

San Martin went for a bold plan - lead the elite Horse Grenadiers straight into the valley at full speed, and sweep away the Royalist left flank. If things got sticky, then the flank march would turn up and save the day. Maybe.

The Patriot infantry (under the ever wonderfully named Bernardo O'Higgins) plodded forward. Royalist skirmishers engaged them from the rocky slopes, but O'Higgins' men drove them off with a single volley.

On the day O'Higgins was ordered to just pin the Royalist forces, but ended up charging them when it started to seem that Soler's flank-march wasn't going to appear. In this setup he isn't really very impetuous. I'd be inclined to add in a future rule that requires San Martin to always have to expend 1 PIP on the infantry until at least one element has engaged in close combat.

But I digress. San Martin's horse sped down the valley.

With his own cavalry of dubious quality, and also outnumbered, Maroto wasn't going to opt for a straight fight. He redeployed the cavalry so that it was supported by the infantry on that flank, and swung his artillery around to cover the gap between the two areas of high ground.

The repositioning of the guns left San Martin unable to launch both groups of cavalry at the small hill, so in a swift change of plan he swept up the hill towards the Royalist guns. An unlucky combat here could have seen one of both cavalry lost, and there was also the danger of becoming pinned in combats which would then allow the Royalist troops on the hillock to come in from the rear.

The artillery was destroyed, but Maroto ordered his left flank into the rear of the Horse Grenadiers.

The elite Argentinian horse saw them off with ease.

With the Royalist flank exposed, San Martin personally led a charge against the main Royalist infantry line, an Maroto's command post itself.

The Royalists fought like tigers ...

... but were swept away

The Royalist army broke. The Patriot infantry had barely been engaged; the Horse Grenadiers won the battle on their own. Soler's flank-march never appeared.

I set the battle up again, and opted for the same plan; hurl the cavalry down the valley for the quick win. Maroto's artillery was positioned to cover this from the start, and this time the cavalry was moved to support it as well, on the hope that the up-slope advantage would assist them against the better quality Argentinians.

As San Martin prepared to charge, Royalist infantry moved to support the guns and cavalry. This was no longer a good place for a headlong charge.

On the other flank the Royalist skirmishers had a better time of it, driving back some of the Patriot infantry, and slowing their advance.

San Martin order the cavalry to fall back, which it did so, under fire.

Patriot musketry drove off the skirmishers.

Meanwhile Maroto formed up his infantry, and advanced against the Horse Grenadiers, hoping to drive back them onto the rough hill-slopes where they would be at a serious disadvantage.

O'Higgins brought up the infantry as rapidly as possible.

But Maroto's gambit didn't pay off; his infantry fell back, with the Patriot cavalry in pursuit.

The two infantry lines began to exchange fire.

Holes began to appear in the Royalist line, whilst their infantry continued to fall back before the Patriot horse.

A counter-attack saw one of the Horse Grenadier units routed.

But the Patriots were now pushing the Royalists hard.

And at that point, Soler's troops appeared.

At the same time, Maroto suffered a command paralysis, and was unable to exploit a chance to attack San Martin's last cavalry unit.

The Patriots didn't miss their chance, with coordinated attacks along the line destroying the Royalist left and centre, and winning them the battle.

The chaotic final position.

The second battle was a closer game, with a few moments where the Patriots could have come seriously unstuck. San Martin used his commander quality in the mid-game, allowing him to ensure his infantry advanced in support of one of his cavalry charges. Maroto's poor generalship kicked in just as the flank-march appeared, preventing him from mounting an effective response.

This is a difficult scenario for the Royalists to win, really, with their troops and commander being, on average, outclassed and, when the flank-march appears, outnumbered. If I did it again I would probably apply the PIP limit on the infantry described above, and maybe add in some kind of time-limit in order to force a bold Patriot attack and add a little uncertainty.
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