I was cleaning up my images folders and found these pics from yet another Waterloo refight. This one was held at 2015 Napcon in Levin, New Zealand. I don’t remember too much about this refight – except that the side I was on got spanked for the most part. I played the British garrisoning Hougemont and surrounds. It was the first time that I got to use my British in a game although they had done duty in the big Waterloo refight held a few months earlier in June for the 200th Anniversary. I was not able to attend that weekend as I was unwell.
This game was run with Black Powder rules, and loads of shitty British command rolls. I think on one turn the British side made about three command rolls. We were mostly on the back foot the entire game as our commands failed to receive orders and we had to keep reacting to the aggressive French who seemed to roll more ‘3 Moves’ than I thought was statistically possible.
But as usual at the end of the day it did not matter. A good time was had by all and it was fabulous seeing the loads of figures on the table.
There are also a few pics from a 15mm game being played same day. Check out the British Rocket Troop in action and that fabulous Hougemont Chateau model that was scratch built and covered in printed stonework. Very cool.
Over the Easter Holiday some of my old buddies came up for a weekend of drinking, eating, talking and some gaming. We always have the intention of getting a few games in but the inevitable gas-bagging over ‘times past’ eats up most of the weekend.
We got one game in though. An Anglo-Zulu War battle pitting ten Zulu regiments against a fairly strong British force (although they only started with some of their strength on the board).
Zulu Forces: Nine regiments plus one of skirmishers (two Zulu units were ‘hidden’)
British Forces: Boers, one company of British Infantry, an artillery battery and a Tiny Unit of cooks and bottlewashers held the Mission. From T2 the British could bring on two reserve brigades (one of one company each of British infantry and Natal Native Contingent and a Small unit of Lancers and the second consisting of two companies of British infantry, a unit of Volunteer Cavalry and a Gatling Gun).
The Zulus really had to win quickly, before all that firepower could be brought to bear. The four ‘generals’ had never played this period before and I took the role of umpire.
Rules were Black Powder (Zulu Supplement). Table 12’x6′ so plenty of room to run about on.
The British in the Mission Station deploy pickets on the hill, they quickly see large formations of Zulu entering the field of battle.
Initially this was all the British had on the board, but they were in a strong defensive position. One company of Infantry, a 7pdr and some non-combatants (A Tiny unit of British Infantry).
All hands to the defence – even The “Cooks and Bottlewashers Platoon” were assigned a building to defend.
Royal Artillery 7pdr ready for action.
Zulu Right Horn enters from beyond the mealie fields.
First British reserves arrive right on time. The other Brigade failed an order roll and remained off board.
The Boer sharpshooters opened fire on the advancing Zulu…
Casualties are caused, but saves meant that there were not enough to worry the lead regiments.
The Zulu Commander inched his way forward one move at a time (those command rolls were a bugger all day). He responded to the Boer with some of his fairly useless musketry.
Firing at skirmishers, one dice for shooting…how effective will it be?
The British Lancers show up. Better late than never.
Zulu skirmishers, including some from the uApache Regiment advance through the mealie fields to engage the Mission, leaving their support regiments far behind (those command rolls again)
On the British right all the reserves arrive and immediately advance to take the fight to the enemy. Except for the Volunteer Cavalry who fail their command roll and stay put.
Back at the Mission the British commander repositions his artillery.
…and pull sthe Boers back to the cattle kraal to rally in decent cover.
The British Artillery opens fire – what turns out to be the start of some fine shooting.
All along the defensive line the British keep up fire to make sure the Zulu don’t close.
Finally the Zulu commander of the Left Horn gets his men moving forward. They crest the hill into the teeth of British fire.
And leave their flank a tempting target for those British Lancers.
Meanwhile the Volunteer Cavalry blunder a command roll and retreat to their own table edge.
The Zulu left horn looks in trouble – taking fire from the front and cavalry almost on it’s flank.
USuthu! A hidden unit of Zulu springs to their feet – the induna blunders his command roll, then gets a random “Charge” result – Just what he wanted! Sometimes the dice-gods are benevolent deities.
The Zulu take the Lancers in the flank.
The Lancers are wiped out and the Zulu crash into the flank of the Natal Native Contingent. Those fickle dice-gods decided to intervene. That Zulu regiment (a Royal unit with Stamina 4) missed every roll, the NNC made every one they needed to.
The British player pulled his brigade back to form a new firing line. The second British brigade and the Gatling gun opened fire. This was not turning out how the Zulu players had wanted.
One round of shooting and eight unsaved casualties on a Stamina 4 unit. They still rolled a double six (the god were back in play) and stayed on the field – shaken and somewhat stirred.
The Zulu pulled back to lick their wounds.
Back at the Mission the Zulu attack finally crossed the river and charged home.
“How many melee dice do my artillery get? One? I hope this shooting works”
Artillery Closing Fire is devastating and the Zulu regiment breaks and is dispersed.
Shaken – one more Zulu push will probably overrun them.
Defending British take casualties and are hard pressed.
Finally getting orders they understand, the Natal Volunteer Cavalry rushed to help shore up the defence of the Mission. They take up a firing position along the river bank.
This allows the British to reposition their artillery again back to defend the centre.
The Zulu Chest attacks and is held.
The Zulu Left Horn had been pulled back behind the hill and commanders had been frantically rallying off casualties and getting ready to re-enter the fray.
But is was too late. The British pulled everything back to a strong, shoulder to shoulder defence around the Mission.
The game ended with the Zulus realising that they would, in all likelihood, not be able to breach the British defence. They retreated off leaving the field in the possession of the British.
Lessons: If I had been the Zulu Commanders I would have put my hidden units in the mealie fields as close as possible to the Mission. They tried to be clever and use their units to ambush the British – which while it killed their Lancers, was largely ineffective. To be fair they had some bad luck with command rolls (and I made all commanders a 9 so that everyone would likely make their rolls) but they did dither. Their one chance at victory was to get stuck in before the British could bring their reserves into play. Getting into musketry duels was only ever going to have one outcome. Still, it was a good game played in good spirits. And afterwards it was back to the kitchen to have Hot Cross Buns and cold roast meats left over from dinner the night before.
Following on from the dual disasters of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift the British advance into Zululand turned into full scale retreat. This action takes place a few days after the mission station at Rorke’s Drift was overrun on the 22/23rd January, 1979.
Chelmsford was forced to retreat into Natal and this battle was a rearguard action against Zulu regiments who were following up the retreating British and local white civilians.
Rules: Black Powder (Zulu Supplement)
British: 3 Companies 2/24th, a half company of 2/24th, One Battery, RA, 1 x Company Natal Native Contingent, Tiny detachment of Boer farmers and Tiny detachment of Boers guarding their wagon train.
Zulu: 6 Regiments divided into three brigades of 2, one small unit of skirmishers.
One company of British troops defending Van Lunteran’s farmstead with a company of Natal native Contingent in support. The small half company on look out on the kopje overlooking the battlefield. Boer civilians on the road with their wagons.
two companies of British infantry and the Artillery were off board. They could come on with a successful command roll one unit at a time from Turn three (so one on turn 3, one turn four etc).
The Zulu could come on the board one brigade at a time from turn one on a successful command roll.
The battle was very frustrating for both sides at times. Reserves for both sides refused to come on and dice rolls were definitely on the poor side for both sides.
That was the game. Fun and totally enjoyable. Lessons learned. If you can get good dice rolls on shooting the British can generally keep the Zulu at bay. The Special Rule that allows them to do two rounds of closing fire is particularly deadly – if the shooting gods are with you of course.
For the Zulu you need to keep your supports close and get stuck in. The Zulu tried a bit of shooting but it was hopeless.
I seriously think Garnett Woolsley will be taking over command of the Campaign sooner rather than later.
An after action report of a small Napoleonic game using Black Powder rules. A French advance guard bumps into a small Spanish holding force, backed by a few battalions of British who are marching to support them.
Three battalions of regular infantry, three militia battalions, three partisan bands and two batteries.
Two light infantry battalions, a battalion of rifles (split into two Tiny units and one Small) and a regiment of Light Dragoons.
Three brigades of infantry, one battery, two cavalry regiments.
The Spanish started in possession of the hacienda and the village of San Felipe. They had a strong position on the left behind the stone walls that lined the road. One guerrilla band occupied the hacienda and armed priests started at the church. The final guerrilla band was hidden from the French. Two British rifle companies started on the board – one with the hidden guerrilla unit and one in the hamlet north of the crossroads.
By the second turn the French had shaken out of march formation and ordered their cavalry to move forward. The French commander was hoping to route the Spanish regulars with a well directed cavalry charge but failed his command roll (twice). The hidden guerrilla unit and the two rifle companies opened fire on the advancing French and caused a few casualties. The Swiss regiment was directed to the north to clear the hill of the annoying guerrillas.
The French advance was very slow. A lot of failed command rolls meant little forward movement. With the cavalry refusing to move, and getting disordered by Spanish artillery fire, the attack on San Felipe was left to the infantry. Meanwhile the British reinforcements arrived to bolster the defences.
By the end of turn six the French had pushed the Spanish from San Felipe village but failed to take the hacienda. Their attack on the Spanish regulars was halted, even though they did manage to destroy one Spanish artillery battery. A Spanish counter attack to retake the village failed. The British Light dragoons charged and broke two French columns.
The game ended with the French falling back. The French contemplated an attack on the Spanish militia with the largely untouched veteran Swiss brigade which would probably have succeeded but given that the other two brigades had suffered serious reversals, discretion was seen as the better part of valour. The French cavalry was totally ineffective. Constantly being disordered by artillery and small arms fire from guerrillas in the hacienda and a string of failed command rolls meant it was unable to support the infantry when required. When they had finally overcome their disorder and were ready to move, the British infantry had replaced the Spanish in the front line and that was pretty much all she wrote. A clear victory to the Spanish and British.
Some thoughts on the mechanics of the game. To be honest I thought that the Spanish infantry would take casualties and flee (Albion Triumphant has the regular infantry rated Wavering/Unreliable. The militia infantry was marginally better with just the Wavering special rule). However, despite taking casualties they made all their morale checks and only lost one battalion in the fighting around the village.
I was not sure about the skirmishing rules. Either I missed something or just didn’t understand them. With veteran Swiss advancing I wanted the guerrillas and rifles opposing them to fall back fighting. If a command is given to “fall back one move and fire”, is that all the skirmish bases firing? I ruled that retreating half could fire. Not sure if that was correct but it seemed to work.