Showing posts with label mexican adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mexican adventure. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 March 2015

One-Hour Wargames - Scenario 6 - Flank Attack (1)

For the next game in my attempt to play all of the scenarios in 'One-Hour Wargames' in order I stayed in Latin America, but switched to a different conflict. The Reform War was a civil war fought in Mexico between 1857 and 1861 between the traditionalist Conservatives and the republican Liberals. The Liberals won, but various European powers, led by France, demanded repayment of debts incurred by the previous Conservative government (incurred in fighting the Liberals in fact). Mexico's inability or unwillingness to pay them led to the French intervention - the so-called Mexican Adventure - of 1861-67.

I don't know a lot about the Reform War, but really the troops that fought in it are much the same as those that fought in the Mexican Adventure, so I could use my figures for that conflict. My 6mm figures, naturally. It's just a matter of leaving out the French, Austrians, Belgians, Sudanese and Imperial Mexican troops in the funky uniforms Emperor Maximilian designed for them.

In terms of rules I went for Liberated Hordes because it was handy and because I rather fancy adapting them for the Mexican Adventure at some stage.

I rolled the armies using the tables in the book, with the only proviso being that a second artillery unit would be infantry instead. I'm pretty sure that neither side would have been exceptionally well-endowed with artillery.

The Conservative force got three infantry, one artillery and two skirmishers, which in this setting would be irregular guerrillas. This is one of those conflicts where the boundaries between bandits, organised guerilla bands and regular troops can be a little fuzzy though.

The Liberals got four infantry, one artillery and some cavalry. I went for cavalry in uniforms - the irregular cavalry you've seen in other games would have been just as relevant.

There is a lot to be said for making most, if not all, of the troops militia. However given the vulnerability of such troops I thought that it would make the scenario too hit or miss, so I left everything as normal.

The scenario itself is loosely based on the Battle of Salamanca. So loosely, it has to be said, that I read a couple of accounts of it before I could see where Neil Thomas was coming from. One army is marching along a road towards a small force of the enemy. Their objective is to get half off their force off the table via that road. Their opponents have the small blocking force in front of the column and the remainder of their troops on the flank of the enemy. They have to attack quickly before the blocking force is overwhelmed.

When I first looked at the scenario I thought that it was based on Beda Fomm. One day I'l play it with some WWII stuff and see how it pans out.

So, the situation has a Liberal army marching to the relief of a town when they find their way blocked by a small force of Conservatives. As they prepare to give battle a dust-cloud on their right shows a considerable Conservative force attacking their flank. Battle is joined ...

The Conservatives sensibly kept their irregulars behind the cover of the hill

The flanked column actually gets to start in this scenario, putting the blocking force under immediate pressure. The Liberals attacked with their cavalry whilst some of their infantry came up in support.

Unfortunately this left the rest of their column undeployed. The Conservatives used their first moved to advance into a firing position.

Musketry claimed units on both sides and in both cases because the units couldn't retreat. In the Conservative case one unit of the blocking force recoiled off the table and in the Liberal's case the unit at what was now the head of the columns couldn't recoil because it would otherwise push the rest of the column off the other side of the table.

The Liberals attacked with their cavalry again, driving off the Conservative artillery and clearing the road. Now all they had to do was get three units off the table via the road.

The Conservatives pushed forward to pin the column more closely, even committing the guerrillas to close combat. This stopped the Liberals from rushing down the road to victory.

The Liberals had a tricky choice. Two of their units had a clear run at getting off the table. But this left them with job of pushing one of the three units in the now pinned column through a superior enemy force with no support. The compromised; the lead infantry unit marched off the table, whilst the cavalry turned back to try and clear a path for the rest of the troops.

The irregulars forced another Liberal unit to retreat off the table ...

... whilst at the other end of the road Liberal infantry totted up their first victory point. Unfortunately the cavalry sent to support the rest of the troops had proved reluctant to close with the enemy.

The Conservatives kept up the pressure, and cut down the Liberal artillery before it could deploy in support of the infantry.

The Liberals were now down to two units - the cavalry top-left and the infantry bottom-right - and had to get both of them off the table to win. This was not going to be easy.

The Conservatives moved to block a direct run down the road, then took the Liberal infantry under a steady fire. It ran.

This left the Liberals with just their cavalry and no way to win

The battle took just five turns of the fifteen allotted to it.

Despite the short length it was fun to play. But it did highlight the issue of how scenarios make certain assumptions about the rules used to play them. This game was heavily influenced by the fact that units were forced to retreat off the table edge, especially in such a tight playing-area, and also by units being pinned by enemy units - the use of threat-zones that limited movement. Neither of these issues would happen if I'd used the rules in 'One-Hour Wargames', which do not have retreating units or any restriction on movement in proximity to the enemy. In addition the Liberals, who are required to be fairly active, rolled badly for PIPs, which left some of the army vulnerable at key moments. Again, this wouldn't have happened under the 'One-Hour Wargames' rules. The lesson is that you either have to adapt the scenarios for the rules, or choose rules more suited to the scenario. For example, in this one I'd use a slightly bigger playing area, so that the armies aren't deployed right on the edge. Since exiting from the edge would now be harder to do, I'd have a vulnerable camp behind the blocking force and give the outflanked force a win if they can take it. So they still have to push along the road in force and with speed, but the number of units they do it with is less important.

I might try this one again with the OHW rules (or my variant of them) and see how it differs.

Follow the rest of the scenario refights HERE

Monday, 9 March 2015

With Maximilian In Mexico

The complete title of this book is 'With Maximilian In Mexico: From The Notebook of a Mexican Officer' by Maximilian Freiherr von Alvensleben. I was looking through my shelves for something to read on the train to and from Sydney the other day, and this book caught my eye. I hadn't read it for years, so took it along.

It's not a long book; I polished it off during the four hours or so I spent on the train. But it's an entertaining account of one man's adventures in Mexico during what appears to be 1865-67. The author was an officer in the US army during the ACW and after the war went south to throw in his lot with the Imperial Mexican army as part of the Austrian Legion. The tale is full of incident - one proper pitched battle and a number of smaller actions and skirmishes. It also features daring escapes and even has a recurring villain, although this latter feature leads one to the view that some of what the author describes might be, well, made up. Bits of it read far too much like a novel; I found the style reminiscent of Burroughs' John Carter books in places, or Flashman without the cowardice and womanising. My opinion is that the broad sweep of events is true, but that they have been embellished to make the tale more interesting. How many times, for
instance, can one man happen to be in hiding at just the right place to hear enemies discuss their plans or engage in expository dialogue? Not as many as Maximilian Freiherr von Alvensleben manages, that's for sure.

In terms of actual detail there's not much of direct use for the gamer here, but the book is useful for colour and embellishment, and maybe a couple of scenario ideas.

The book itself was a pleasure to read and handle; it's an 1867 original edition. Cheap and nasty, to be sure - there's a massive variation in the size of the pages, suggesting it was put together with whatever the publisher had to hand -  but in very good nick for a book that's nearly 150 years old.

Friday, 20 February 2015

One-Hour Wargames - The Scenarios Project

In this post I will try to track, and provide links to, the reports of each of the 30 scenarios in Neil Thomas's 'One-Hour Wargames'. For each one I will note the period and the rules used.

I started this exercise in February 2015. Obviously if when you are reading this a scenario doesn't have a link then I haven't played it yet; you'll have to come back another day and see how far I've got. And, since I was challenged to do the whole thing within a year, if it's now February 2016 and there are still entries without links, then I've failed in that particular aspect of the playthrough.

1 - Pitched Battle (1) - South American Wars of Liberation - One-Hour Wargames Horse & Musket rules.

2 - Pitched Battle (2) - South American Wars of Liberation - One-Hour Wargames Horse & Musket rules, with modifications.

3 - Control The River - South American Wars of Liberation - 'Liberated Hordes' HOTT variant (adjusted for six element armies).

4 - Take The High Ground - South American Wars of Liberation - 'Liberated Hordes' HOTT variant with twelve elements per side.

5 - Bridgehead - World War One - One-Hour Wargames Machine Age rules, with modifications.

6 - Flank Attack (1) - Reform War - 'Liberated Hordes' HOTT variant (adjusted for six element armies).

7 - Flank Attack (2) - JSDF and allies vs Xilians - 'Giant Monster Rampage'

8 - Melee - ACW - One-Hour Wargames ACW rules, with modifications

9 - Double Delaying Action - Great Northern War - One Hour Wargames Horse & Musket rules with heavy modifications.

10 - Late Arrivals - Great Northern War - One Hour Wargames Horse & Musket rules with heavy modifications.

11 - Surprise Attack - ACW - One Hour Wargames ACW rules with modifications.

12 - An Unfortunate Oversight - Great Northern War - One Hour Wargames Horse & Musket rules with heavy modifications.

13 - Escape - ACW - One Hour Wargames ACW rules with modifications.

14 - Static Defence - English Civil War - One Hour Wargames Pike and Shot rules, with heavy modifications.

15 - Fortified Defence - Great Northern War - One Hour Wargames Horse & Musket Rules with heavy modifications.

16 - Advance Guard - English Civil War - One Hour Wargames Pike and Shot rules  with very heavy modifications.

17 - Encounter - English Civil War - One Hour Wargames Pike and Shot rules with loads of changes.

18 - Counter Attack - World War II - Neil Thomas WWII rules, modified.

19 - Blow From The Rear - Epic 40K Orks vs Imperial Guard - Rules inspired by One Hour Wargames for WH40K games.

20 - Fighting Retreat - English Civil War - One Hour Wargames Pike and Shot rules, with heavy modifications.

21 - Twin Objectives - South American Wars of Liberation - Simplicity in Practice

22 - Ambush

23 - Defence In Depth

24 - Bottleneck

25 - Infiltration

26 - Triple Line

27 - Disordered Defence

28 - Botched Relief

29 - Shambolic Command

30 - Last Stand

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Return Of The Sudanese

Just over a year ago I played a game set during the French intervention in Mexico in the 1860s, in which a flying column of Austrian and Sudanese troops attempted to clear Republican guerrillas from part of the railway line from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. You can read about it HERE.

I was reminded of this game the other day when looking at one of the later scenarios in One-Hour Wargames. Defence in Depth has a small, partially irregular, force holding off a larger, more organised opponent in relatively dense terrain.  The larger force has to drive across the board and exit troops off a road in one corner. It struck me that I could easily use the OHW Horse and Musket rules, with my own variations, for the Mexican Adventure, and it would be worth playing it as the the railway scenario to see how it worked out.

Here is the initial setup. On the left is the railway line. In the original scenario this is a road, but I just kept the rules the same. South of the river is a defensive position - a town in the original scenario, but for this I just made it a series of barricades and breastworks; it still provided cover for any unit in it.

The Republicans ended up with two units of guerrillas, one of infantry and some cavalry. The infantry manned the defences, whilst the guerrillas lurked in the woods. The cavalry was held back as a reserve.

Their opponents were a mixed bag. Along the railway line came some Sudanese troops, Austrians and some local Mexican regulars.

Mexican cavalry moved towards the ford on the other flank, supported by a mixed group of Sudanese and Mexican light infantry.

Firing immediately broke out at the barricades, with the Sudanese and allied Mexicans bearing the brunt of it, whilst the Austrians lurked in reserve. Unable to enter the woods they couldn't work around the flank.

The cavalry crossed the river, and headed towards the railway, harried by ineffective fire from the guerrillas in the woods.

However the Republican cavalry charged in to stop them. The OHW Horse and Musket rules limit cavalry vs cavalry fights by having them take half casualties. I wasn't sure about that, and it's dropped in the next set of rules for the Rifle and Sabre era, so I compromised. I had cavalry fight cavalry at 1D6, rather than 1D6+2. Blown cavalry would fight at 1D6-2.

The cavalry melee swung back and forth, but the second attacking unit slipped past, making a run for the railway and the exit point. To win the attackers have to exit at least half of their force off the southern edge via the railway, so getting something off quickly seemed to be a good plan, especially as the cavalry were limited in which enemy units they could engage, most of them being in woods and the barricades.

An overview of the action a few turns in. The firefight continues at the barricades, whilst the cavalry fight it out on the other side of the board. The Sudanese light infantry worked their way past the guerrillas in the woods, firing as they went. For this game I carried on testing my changes to the skirmisher rules, allowing them to shoot if they moved, but only at half range.

The Republican cavalry routed the opposing lancers.

Meanwhile the other attacking cavalry reached the railway, through a hail of ineffective fire from the woods and the barricades.

The Republican regulars in the barricades finally buckled under the attack from the Sudanese and their allies, and routed, leaving the railway clear.

The infantry formed up into column and marched to cross the bridge.

Meanwhile their cavalry exited the board, still under fire. One unit off, two to go.

With a strong infantry force moving down the railway, the Republicans moved to block their advance as best they could. There was no way that the barricades could be reoccupied before the attackers reached them, so a secondary position was established on the railway line by the woods. The guerrillas from the central woods moved across in support. In the midst of all this the Sudanese light infantry also tried to reach the railway ...

... only to be ridden down by the Republican cavalry.

The guerrillas established themselves as the Sudanese crossed the river.

The Sudanese were in a tricky position. They needed to push forward as fast as they could, but that left their flanks exposed to the Republican cavalry. The other infantry couldn't easily move up in support until the Sudanese cleared the bridgehead.

The Sudanese opted to engage the cavalry with fire, hoping to drive it off quickly so that they could continue their advance. The cavalry now had the option of pulling out, which would make it harder for them to return to the fight in time to influence it, or continue to threaten whilst taking casualties. They opted for the latter, melting away as their casualties became too great. But they had delayed the advance for a couple of turns.

The Sudanese pushed down the railway to where the guerrillas were waiting.

The guerrillas in the woods were well--served with cover, but those on the railway were easily outgunned by the regulars facing them, and soon their casualties became too much to bear.

This was the last turn though. The attackers had just enough movement to exit the Sudanese infantry, but not the Austrians following them.

At the end of the game two of the three required attacking units had exited the board. The Republicans had won, with the delay caused by the threat of their cavalry probably being the key.

This was a much more satisfying game than the one I played last year, with much the same feel but running far more smoothly. The fact that the last couple of turns could have seen either side win it was great; it was a very close game indeed.

The skirmisher change worked quite well, allowing them to harass enemy troops quite effectively, and mount a mobile defence. I will probably add in the changes to cavalry vs cavalry combat into my Liberation games. No cavalry went blown during the course of the game, so I couldn't check how that affected things. One adjustment I have made to the blown rule, though, is that it's only made if the cavalry have to fall back. So if they destroy their opponent they carry on fighting at full effect. This gives more incentive for them to be used to decisive attacks, as well as creating a kind of follow-up/pursuit effect.

For those that are interested, the figures, barricades and trees are all from Irregular Miniatures, whilst the railway is from Junior General.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Troop Quality Update

In a post yesterday I proposed an alternative way of representing troop quality in 'Battle Cry' style games. Today I played a few quick games using my Mexican Adventure armies; I tried the encounter game and the San Lorenzo scenarios, playing each a couple of times.

The Encounter scenario gave me a game with plenty of militia units. The changes gave them a little more resilience, but a bad set of rolls could cause them to collapse quickly. This was more how I want them to behave, rather than just being very brittle.

I varied the San Lorenzo scenario to include an elite infantry unit - the French Foreign Legion. Here they are advancing on the village, with their general in direct command.

The militia behaved as in previous games, but I was pleased that militia cavalry seemed to have a little more staying power. The elite infantry got a thorough testing, though. Pinned in front of the village by Mexican musketry, they resisted several rolls of '6' (crossed swords) which would otherwise have destroyed them, and survived a turn or so longer than they should have done.

Here they are being terribly elite:

Three hits on them already, and only one required to remove them. And the Republicans kept rolling sixes.

Anyway, from those few games I would conclude that the changes don't seem to have radically broken the game and certainly vary the performance of units. I'll keep trying them out.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Battle Of San Lorenzo

The Battle of San Lorenzo was fought in Mexico on May 8th 1863. A Mexican column, marching to the relief of the besieged city of Puebla, was attacked by the French whilst encamped in the village of San Lorenzo.

I played this game this afternoon, basing it around the scenario given in Tim Tilson's 'Colonial Campaigns: Maximillian In Mexico' and, once again, using my 'Battle Cry' variant.

The rules were as described in previous posts, with one addition. If attacking at a range of one square, an infantry unit can, and a cavalry unit must, declare a charge. If their opponent retreats or is destroyed, then the unit may move to occupy the vacated square. However if there is still an opposing infantry or artillery unit in the square, it rolls one combat dice back against the attacking unit.

(For ACW games I would make cavalry charges optional, and allow cavalry the one dice retaliation as well, to reflect their greater use of guns.)

The forces were as follows:

French (Four activation dice)

Five Infantry units
One Cavalry unit
One Militia Cavalry unit
One Artillery unit

Republicans (Three activation dice)

Two Infantry units
Four Militia Infantry units
One Militia Cavalry unit
One Artillery unit
Two Wagons

Victory was five flags.

Here's the set-up. The terrain was minimal - a square of four buildings, a churchyard, which provided cover but which didn't block line of sight, and a church (another building).

The Republicans set up in and around the buildings. The French deployed on their own baseline.

There were two special rules. Firstly the Republican wagons were special units. They could occupy the same square as a friendly unit, but had to be activated in order to move (they moved one square and could not fight). Wagons could be activated as if they were artillery They could not be shot at or engaged in close combat, but control of them passed to whoever last occupied the square they were in. The Republicans scored one flag for each wagon they could exit off their baseline. The French scored one flag for each wagon they controlled.

In addition, the Republicans are assumed to be surprised at the start of this battle. They only get one activation dice each turn, until they roll a six on one of their dice. This allows them to use two dice on their next turn; if one of those scores a six then they get their full three dice on subsequent turns. Note that this may seem harsh, but a roll of five on that one dice translates to an extra dice and a reroll, increasing the chance of scoring that vital six, so the odds aren't too bad.

I didn't photograph every move of the game, preferring to play instead. The French pushed forward quickly, whilst the Republicans slowly reacted, starting to move the vital wagons out of reach. Here are the French pushing forward in the centre. They also rapidly moved their cavalry around the flanks to try and cut off the wagons.

The French woke up the Republicans with a volley of musketry.

As the French infantry pressed home their attack, their cavalry tried to outflank the Mexican position.

The Republicans organised a solid fighting line as their wagons retreated to safety. They got both wagons off the board, but had lost a couple of units by this stage, putting the score at 2-all.

The French pushed into the village.

They also took the church, but the Republican artillery destroyed a French unit. Elsewhere they had routed the allied Mexican cavalry as well, so had four flags. However the French had destroyed four Republican units, so the game was still drawn.

The French had the next turn. Their cavalry charged a Republican infantry unit, destroyed it and gave the French a narrow victory.

The final position, the Republicans hadn't inflicted as many casualties (although a few French units were looking sick), but getting the wagons off the board had helped a lot, even though it had cost them chances to fire their artillery.

The Republican commander rallies his surviving troops.

This was a fun game, and a lot close than I thought it would be. The Republicans are in a good position, but their activation rolls are never enough for them to defend everywhere The French  can generally keep up the pressure, and with a run of fives can really make a vigorous attack.

The charge rules seemed to work OK, allowing units to take buildings if they could win combats, and putting them in peril if they didn't. It also made cavalry more vulnerable, unless they were attacking a weak foe.

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