Game Report
"Wagon Train" scenario (re-visited)..

.or "mercy sakes good buddy, looks like we got us another convoy"

Having read my last write, up my regular wargame buddy Darrell dropped me an email to ask if we could re-fight the game in "normal" mode, ie. not solo J - so last night I set the table up again for a re-match.

Broadly speaking (and the Charles Grant "Teaser" can be found in full on the relevant page in my web site) as per my last game, a relieving force (French) has to make it's way the length of the war game table to a fortified position at the other end. They have a number of wagons containing desperately needed supplies, protected by a (relatively) small covering force.. the difference from the last game is that the two sides were proportionally bigger for this game (due to my efforts at the painting table..)

Their opponents (the English) are trying to stop them getting the supplies through - the rub being that although they are numerically superior, they do not arrive as a coordinated force, but piecemeal, and from a variety of directions..

The table was set out "approximately" as per the first game (there were a few slight differences, but nothing significant):

...and having thrown the dice, Darrell decided to play the French:

  • As per the last game the supply force entered at X in column - order of march decided by Darrell - and in this case this was cavalry, followed by infantry, then the wagons (2 x light first, then heavy, then remaining light) with the other cavalry bringing up the rear.
  • Only one of the infantry regiments in the Garrison force (Y) can leave the fort, but only when the convoy is visible (ie. within medium cannon, long range)
  • The English arrival was decided randomly using a single suit from a deck of cards - at the start of each move where the English are the 'moving player' they turn over a card, if the card is one of those specified (10/J/Q/K or A) they throw a D6 for the position on the table (where 1=A. 2=B., and so on) and the unit(s) arrive at that point. Thus, a unit may arrive from any of six directions and at any time period between 2 and 26 (thirteen cards with a French move between each English move).
  • Order of Battle:

    French Force

    Supply Column:
    2 big wagons
    4 small wagons
    1 Line Infantry Regiment
    2 Cavalry Regiment

    Fort Garrison:
    2 Line Infantry Regiment
    2 Guns (Medium)

    English Force (with representing playing card)

    Ace - 1 Infantry Regiment, 1 Gun (Light)
    King - 1 Cavalry Regiment
    Queen - 1 Cavalry Regiment
    Jack - 1 Infantry Regiment, 1 Gun (Light)
    10 - 1 Infantry Regiment

  • Special rules for wagons:
    • The wagons can only move on the roads (any other French unit may deploy off the road after it has been on the table for one move period).
    • The French may move all the wagons together on the same road or split them up using both roads.
    • Damage - each wagon is worth a number of strength points (4 SP for a light, 6 SP for a heavy)
    • Hits are inflicted in the usual manner. Once the wagon gets to half points it moves at half rate. Once it gets to 0 points it is stopped/destroyed.
    • If a wagon is immobilised or destroyed, no other vehicle may pass it. It then requires one full move period with assistance for the wagon to be man handled off the road to allow other wagons to pass.
    • Infantry or Cavalry can assist wagons to overcome damage - a unit doing this needs to be next to the wagon for one move and can 'donate' strength points from their roster to the wagon roster (which represents the loan of man/horsepower)..
    • Wagons suffer the usual morale tests (so can rout), but ignore the "retire" result instead they just stop where they are.

    Victory Conditions:

    Wagons have a nominal points value in terms of supplies carried

    • 4 points for heavy wagon (so a total of 8 points)
    • 2 points for light wagon (a total of 8 points)

    Game is drawn if the French get 8 points into the fort, and won if 12 or more arrived safely.

    So what happened?

    The French entered on move 1 and decided to take the entire convoy on the northern road, rather than split their forces via both. The decision may have been driven to a certain extent by the unexpected arrival of English cavalry in each of the first two English moves moves (at point E on the southern road) - most unexpected!


    Picture - French cavalry (Orleans) at the head of the convoy.. (Dixon Miniatures 15mm figures)
    French cavalry (Orleans) enter the table at the head of the convoy.. (Dixon Miniatures 15mm figures)

    All proceeded well for the first French moves, until by about move 5 or 6 all wagons and units were on the table. In the meanwhile the English cavalry headed for the gap at the eastern end of the central ridge so as to cut off the convoy and stop it advancing.


    Picture - English cavalry (Schomberg's in front, Lumley's behind) in column of march head for the gap at the eastern end of the ridge do as to cut off the convoy.. (Dixon Miniatures 15mm figures)
    English cavalry (Schomberg's in front, Lumley's behind) in column of march head for the gap at the eastern end of the ridge do as to cut off the convoy.. (Dixon Miniatures 15mm figures)

    Once there they deployed into line and advanced westward towards the enemy - truly a magnificent site as they formed and then wheeled 90' to advance...!


    Picture - English cavalry deploy into line, wheel, and advance! (Schomberg's in front, Lumley's behind) .. (Dixon Miniatures 15mm figures)
    English cavalry deploy into line, wheel, and advance! (Schomberg's in front, Lumley's behind) .. (figures as before)

    Elsewhere on the table, the English "Jack" force arrived (Ingoldsbys Foot and attached Light Artillery) at point F. These were immediately engaged by the French artillery in the fort with some considerable success (Ingoldsbys losing 2 SP in two moves!) and involving them in a number of morale tests which allowed them to eventually get out of range, but only after having lost a third of their strength ... (It was worth noting by the way that the French shooting was magnificent all night - even Darrell was moved to say "yee haa!" at one point, following a succession of 9's and 10's on 2D6!


    Picture - The French fort and garrison - the artillery to the right was the cause of the great discomfort felt by the English infantry. Navarre in the front (Minifigs), Bourbonnais behind (Dixon Miniatures) I believe the artillery is also Minifigs
    The French fort and garrison - the artillery to the right was the cause of the great discomfort felt by the English infantry. Navarre in the front (Minifigs) and Bourbonnais behind (Dixon Miniatures) - I believe the artillery is also Minifigs

    As the last of the French units arrived on the table at the rear of the convoy (Chartres cavalry), the penultimate English unit also arrived at point D; these were the 1st Foot Guards .

    The French immediately deployed their cavalry to counteract the English foot and stop them from attacking the back of the convoy, and this eventually turned out be it's own little "skirmish within a skirmish". For the majority of the game, these two units played a kind of 'Mexican standoff' with the cavalry deploying, but then retiring in the face of the English infantry while continuing to inflict casualties every time the English tried to close.. in the end the English infantry were first driven off, and then routed, and then were eventually destroyed, playing no further part in the game.

    On the other side of the table, the convoy had all but stopped as the French commander brought up his cavalry (Orleans), and then the infantry (Bearn) while the English likewise deployed their cavalry to attack. The English were helped considerably by the opportune arrival of their last unit (the second piece of artillery) at point B, which ended up being IDEALLY placed to start bombarding the convoy with impunity as all the other French forces were tied up with the English..


    Picture - English cavalry on the left (Lumley in the foreground) face up to the French attack - Bearn in the foreground with Orleans the other side of them. As before all figures are Dixon apart from Bearn who are Minifigs
    English cavalry on the left (Lumley on the left, Schomberg on the right as they face the French) face up to the French attack - Bearn in the foreground, Orleans the other side of them. As before all figures are Dixon apart from Bearn who are Minifigs

    There then ensued a mighty clash of arms (also known as a right royal ding-dong), as both sides tried to clear the road and meet their victory conditions - the French to drive the convoy through, and the English to clear the way so as to attack the convoy. The initial clash has mixed results but eventually Schombergs horse were to drive the French cavalry off, while the French infantry successfully held off Lumleys...


    Picture - English cavalry (Lumleys) held, while Schombergs on the left break through and wheel to attack the convoy
    English cavalry (Lumleys) held, while Schombergs on the left break through and wheel to attack the convoy (trust me - it was a difficult decision - name me one wargame commander with formed cavalry under his command, and a broken enemy before him, who would be able to easily turn away to attack wagons!)
    NB. The rules we use have three levels of morale - 'OK', 'Shaken' and 'Rout' - I use the coloured pins to show what state each unit is in and in this picture you can see lots of yellow pins around signifying shaken units, and the French cavalry are routing (red pin)

    While the English artillery continued to pound the convoy (with a significant lack of success it has to be said, but then it was light artillery!) the remaining French cavalry, having finished off the 1st Foot, deployed into column and moved rapidly northwards to counter the English cavalry who were about to attack the convoy. In the main area of engagement however, Lumleys withdrew north so as to make room for Ingoldsbys to deploy into line and attack.. the attack was doomed to failure - after the severe mauling from the artillery in the fort earlier in the game, they broke and ran without managing to make contact. This left just the other English artillery unit to oppose the French infantry, as Lumleys had also swung round the flank of the otherwise occupied Bearn..


    Picture - French cavalry, having finished off the 1st Foot deployed into column and moved rapidly northwards to counter the English cavalry who were about to attack the convoy.
    Picture - French cavalry, having finished off the 1st Foot, attempt to drive off the English cavalry who are attacking the convoy.

    The final stage of the game turned out to be distinctly different to the run of play - up until this point in time, the game had been characterised by outstanding French musketry but this was to change dramatically over the next few moves. First however, Schombergs having fell to a failed morale test fled the field, leaving only Lumleys to attack the convoy which they proceeded to do with ruthless efficiency (shades of Tarleton!). Sweeping round the end of the hill, they crashed into the side of first of the two heavy wagons - this they destroyed completely, before swinging around just in time to attack the arriving French cavalry. They were ably assisted in this by the English artillery, who for the first time managed to successfully damage the French cavalry causing them to pause just long enough for the English to turn and attack - still in column.. not historically accurate but needs must, and their charge drove off the French cavalry for what turned out to be the remainder of the game!

    At this point my opponent and I agreed the battle had come to it's conclusion, and it was agreed that the English had won a "total" victory...

    Thoughts/comments and post-match analysis :

    • Reminder: still need to buy and paint some limbers for the artillery! I'll be going to "Warfare" in Reading in 2 or 3 weeks time and these are on my shopping list...
    • The replacement morale rules (see last game) worked well - they've now been included for future games..
    • Just before the game I happened to be reading through the rules and happened to notice that there was an extra step in the move sequence for these rules (compared to the AWI ones) which is a 'change formation test' - this is not present in the rules on the free download site, but speaking to Will McNally (the author) by email last week he was kind enough to send me a version with the test in it.. In summary, rather than just assuming that units can change formation at will (as they would have done in later wars, due to improved levels of drill and command) for the SYW and earlier you test against the discipline level of the unit to see if they successfully manage to change formation. If the unit fails their test they become "disorganised" a morale state almost identical to "shaken" .. I really like this and will be including for the next game, although perhaps not in an identical format (slight tweak to the mechanism of which more anon)
    • In these rules firing units accrue plus and minus modifiers according to their strength and the number of bases firing - Darrell and I had a chat about this afterwards and thought that it had an element of double accounting about it.. our idea would be just to remove the 'strength' modifiers, and just add them to the 'number of bases firing' modifier. This would then also allow us to represent casualties affecting the overall effectiveness of the unit by removing bases as the SP's of the unit declined.. not sure about this, as some units would historically be bigger than others, but in game terms would still have the same number of bases.. needs some further thought this one.
    • There was too much artillery on the table for the size of game - the artillery pieces represent 6 actual guns which helps to explain their effectiveness on the evening... I need to ensure that in future the number of guns is kept smaller - I'm sure I remember reading something in Chandler on the optimal numbers of guns per hundreds/thousands of infantry and cavalry....
    • Other than that, I think we both enjoyed the game - it had been a foregone conclusion in my eyes, right up until the point where the run of play so dramatically changed - in fact I will be quite candid and admit that I had actually offered surrender when Ingoldsbys, and then Schombergs broke and ran - but Darrell persuaded me to play on - and to my great surprise I got the win. I bet he doesn't do that again....!
      J

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