Thursday, 4 January 2018

A spat over Gross Lardsdorf

28mm Napoleonic using Sharp Practice II. Time to give the rules a spin. Just an engagement encounter to get the basics sorted. The loose narrative: a French force led by Major Volte-Face is scouting the land around "Gross Lardsdorf", somewhere in Upper Austria. Colonel Schiettekatte has been rudely plucked from a Viennese whirl and tasked with chasing the invaders back to Paris.


German Fusiliers x3 (24)
Leader Level III (Colonel Schiettekatte) #1
Leader Level I (Sergeant Fahrt) #4
Hungarian Grenadiers x2 (16)
Leader Level II – (Captain Hamsarni) #2
Leader Level I – (Corporal Pikkle)   #5
Jaeger Skirmishers x1 (6)
Leader Level II (Lieutenant Schweitensauer) #3



Line Fusiliers x3 (24)
Leader Level III [Major Volte-Face]
Leader Level I [Sergeant L’Excraimont]
Light Infantry Chasseur in Line x2 (16)
Leader Level II [Captain Cliché)
Voltigeur Skirmishers x2 (12)
Leader Level II [Captain Blasé]
Leader Level I [Sergeant Flatulento]

The battlefield featured some walls and fences, just to see their impact, and a fair amount of open ground in the middle. A ruined house and church, and a few new trees were added for flavour and there was an impenetrable forest on one board edge.

Turn 1
Deployment was speedy. Remarkably, every leader's chip came out of the bag except for Captain Cliche (French leader 2) before Tiffin. The good Austrian Colonel's eyes nearly popped out of his head as he found himself holding 4 flags - a bonus move for all his deployed troops! Smattering his soldiers with a liberal dusting of biscuit crumbs, Colonel Schiettekatte stole a march and bellowed for his army to advance up to the centre of the board. Captain Hamsarni, commanding the Hungarian Grenadiers ("anchoring" the Austrian left flank in the pictures above) noted with alarm that his bravely moustachiod and be-hatted troops were left in the open and facing a cannon loaded with canister. Exhausted after the forced march and his blood-sugar levels at a low ebb, Schiettekatte stood at the fence for the next couple of turns and did nothing (his chip failed to emerge).

Lesson 1: don't advance in a long line with your best troops out in the open with no real target ahead of them except a freshly loaded cannon.

Lesson 1a: the cannon should have deployed touching the deployment point, not 6" away. This might have made a difference to the game, but hey, it made for a good narrative.

Turn 2
Captain Blase moved his 12 skirmishers up to the fence beside the ruined house to pepper the Austrian Fusiliers and screen Volte-Face's 24 Fusiliers. Captain Cliche's unit arrived (late as usual, with a sausage sneakily stolen from a peasant's larder) and skirted the house to come around on the Austrian right flank. Fumes wafted from Flatulento's cannon as it roared in anger, surprisingly missing the right group of Grenadiers but killing one and causing 6 points of shock (rallied down to 5 in the picture below) on the left hand group which was already close to withdrawing. Would Hamsarni's Grenadiers cut the mustard? In a blind panic, they returned fire at the cannon (in retrospect a waste of time) but it was all smoke and noise. This was followed by a bit of sniping from Schweitensauer's jaegers who remained glued to the fence for the rest of the game. Tiffin.

Lesson 2: don't rush to deploy - with the Austrians in place and up the board, the initiative swayed to the French.

Lesson 3: think twice about shooting at cannons - it takes a heck of a lot of shock and kills to reduce their efficiency.

Lesson 4: don't forget the light infantry's free move. The jaegers should have tried to flank the French - a devastating first fire in the flank of the skirmishers or fusiliers may have been better than picking off a few French skirmishers at this stage.

Turn 3

Says it all. End of the Chapter and a lull in the battle. Everyone reloads but it's too early in the game for much else to happen at Tiffin. Schiettekatte lost focus, distracted by a tasty sachertorte he discovered in Korporal Fahrt's knapsack. Volte-Face, meanwhile, suddenly realised that he could have commanded Blase's Skirmishers to get out of the way of his Fusiliers. Instead, we ended up with the all-too-familiar Parisian traffic jam. He jumped up and down on his sword and hat in frustration. Zut alors!

Lesson 5: the commanding officer can use activations to order other units and leaders around him. Must make a note of that somewhere ...

Turn 4

Hamsarni, tired of standing in an open field and being shot at by everyone, grabbed two flags and shouted "Sharp Practice" in perfect Hungarian. The Grenadiers duly levelled their muskets at the main French force in and around the ruined farmhouse. They can present and fire, so they did more damage than was expected, particularly to the skirmishers. Volte-Face's chit appeared next. In hindsight, Schiettekatte should have interrupted but that's life. And the Grenadiers took a pounding. Hamsarni was hit. He made a lucky swift recovery but the Austrian force morale took a blow and the Grenadiers were again close to snapping. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Hamsarni was having none of this nonsense (this may have happened next turn - ed). He nabbed the remaining two flags and the familiar Hungarian battlecry of "Sharp Practice" rang out again. The pressure was piling up on the French centre, with Fusiliers dropping despite being in hard cover and Skirmish screen close to popping. 


Lesson 6: remember that the first kill on skirmishers is ignored in hard cover (I assume that this is genuine hard cover, rather than their ability to turn soft cover into hard cover). Very handy. Side note: it seems walls are soft/light cover and I can see why for this particular game system).

More volleys were exchanged in the centre but they did not come to much. The turn ended with a sneaky move from Captain Cliche who grabbed two (not the one in the photo below) French flags and with a cheesy yell of "Vive L'Empereur" declared a Pas de Charge which moved his Chasseurs in Line up around the ruined house and into the firing line. He squeezed in beside the fence to have a good natter with Volte-Face before the next turn.

Turn 5
Two French flags and Tiffin. Cliche's unit fired (1st Fire) causing a good amount of shock on the Austrian Fusiliers. Schiettekatte was saved from a wound by a particularly stodgy spinach dumpling. Then, the move of the match. Blase's skirmishers were activated and crabbed their way across to the left with an unfeasible roll. They blocked the cannon, but the fresh Fusiliers were able to move forward into the firefight in the centre. Of course, Flatulento's chip (the cannon) came out next, so the Italian was forced to swear loudly, hurl his sword to the ground and stamp on his crew's hats in frustration. Having blown off, Flatulento set about reducing some shock and then spent the rest of the game weeping softly as his chip did not come up again.

Lesson 7: Technically, this was three flags in a row over two turns. Should that be a roll on the event chart? It seems so. But with the luck firmly with the French, I imagine it would have just reinforced their dominance!

Turn 6
All hell breaks loose. In the centre, the French Fusiliers poured a volley into the Austrian Fusiliers who finally withdrew, with Korporal Fahrt desperately trying to pump them up for another round. Meanwhile, the Voltiguers were caught in the open by an aimed volley from the remaining Hungarian Grenadiers. This decimated one group and they were forced to hop over a handy wall in disarray.

Cliche's Chasseurs in Line deliver another galling volley into the Austrian Fusiliers, causing another withdrawal. Farht is heard to comment that the Austrian dice rolls stank and he'd be right. Schiettekatte was doggedly looking the other way but his own group was close to withdrawing. A bonus activation sees more fire directed at the Austrians who withdraw again and are close to breaking.

Schiettekatte was openly praying for a Christmas miracle, but Cliche had other ideas. Once again grabbing 2 flags, he used the Pas de Charge to steamroller Schweitensauer's jaegers who were annihilated (meeting a charge without bayonets, unloaded and outnumbered = bad things happen). Cliche adopted an heroic pose over the badly wounded body of Schweitensauer, which was rubbing salt into the wounds, and really rather uncalled for.

Lesson 8: light infantry skirmishers can and should evade a charge. But fisticuffs was fun ...

At this point, Schiettekatte caught wind of Fahrt's suggestion that it was time for supper back in Vienna and with uncharacteristic speed made for the table edge. With the Austrian commander out to tea, the Fusiliers in tatters and the jaegers obliterated, the game was called at that point. The French morale stood at 7, the Austrians down at 1. A resounding victory to the French!


Schiettekatte (between mouthfuls of sauerkraut): I was magnificent, but I need new dice and a different person pulling chips out of the bag. End of report. Oh, I suppose the jaegers might have worked better on the right flank, supporting the brave Grenadiers and forcing the French to make more choices. But did I expect them to hunker under a fence all game? No. Schweitensauer will pay for that. And Hamsarni's Grenadiers really should not have walked into an open space and stood there, blazing away and twirling their moustaches. I would move them more and fire less if I had this over again. No need to rush up the middle, either. I blame that Fahrt. Now, where's the nearest cafe?

Volte-Face: (preening himself) this affair was as easy as eating breakfast. Ha, good one. Must put that in dispatches. The skirmish screen worked really well, harassing the Austrian centre and protecting the Fusiliers. They pinned old Schiettekatte in place, allowing Cliche to live up to his name by arriving late and pas de charging his way around the board, before delivering an awesome volley and charge. The cannon proved a useful distraction and mauled the Grenadiers. Definitely one to try again.

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