Saturday, November 26, 2011

Battle of Sawmill

Time I think to let you know how the Battle of Sawmill Village turned out... this was a scenario from Charles Grant's "Scenarios for Wargamers" (scenario #41 titled "Chance Encounter")

In essence two roughly equal sized forces approached a village in the centre of the table from opposite diagonal edges - the mission was take and secure the village in order to win.

The following shows my interpretation of the map in the book:


Sawmill Village in the centre - a barn just to the right (that's south) of the village and the church wood west of the village. The entry points for each side are the corner nearest (bottom left), and the opposite diagonal corner...

In rules terms all slopes (including the flat surfaces on top) "were gentle slopes"; all woods (that's the trees on the extended bases, rather than the individual ones) were "open"; fields had no terrain impact/effects...

We diced for sides and I got the French, we then diced for entry point and I got the corner nearest the church...

Orders of Battle:

As mentioned above the two forces were roughly equal - I allowed 14 units each, plus one medium artillery piece - the 14 units could be anything from all the units painted to date, but no more artillery.

As the French, I would say that I was already at a disadvantage - the British and Dutch infantry get firing bonuses (simulating platoon firing), the British cavalry get melee bonuses (simulating their effectiveness as shock cavalry) - but knowing DG as I do, I decided to go for a force that included all the cavalry I had, as my plan was to get to the village first, occupy it, and then screen off either approach - I was guessing DG would go for a force heavy in infantry, and cavalry are real infantry killers (providing they close in the melee!)....

My force therefore comprised the following:


Seven squadrons of cavalry - two of them heavy (cuirassiers) - and seven of infantry... my entry order of march was as per the bottom..

DG, as I guessed, went for a  force strong in infantry:


Each side was only allowed to enter in column of march up to two units wide - it would therefore take two or three moves to get all units on the table..  units could deploy on their second move...

Only question was whether my plan would work!

The Battle:

Started off much as I'd planned...  French entered with all their horse...

A bucolic scene somewhere near the Rhine in 1704 - a merchant and herdsman heading for markets to the south of Sawmill Village spot the approaching troops and speed up...

I pushed forward as fast as I could, when the artillery arrived I sent it straight up the hill for maximum visibility and range....

First brigade (cavalry) deployed east, second brigade moves toward the village..my C-in-C oversees activities...


..meanwhile DG is bringing his troops on as fast as they can - he is slightly perturbed at this stage by the amount of French and Bavarian horse flesh on display..


He pushes his cavalry north - sweeping round the large hill between him and the village - at this stage my plan was looking good - three of my cavalry squadrons were holding all four of his squadrons..  meanwhile the second brigade was taking up position either side of the village while the foot advanced rapidly to occupy the village (which for this game is represented as a built up area the size of the tile the houses are standing on)

Merchants wagons continue speeding southwards!
...and it was at this point that my plan started to fall apart...

...spotting that DG was having a lot of problem manoeuvring in the limited space on top of the hill I decided to have a go at causing him some discombobulation by charging with a couple of squadrons of cavalry... in the first of the evenings devastating volleys his infantry just ripped me apart like a hot knife through butter...  (DG had these 'devil dice' with him on the night - seemingly incapable of throwing anything but 5's and 6's!) in short order both squadrons were basically rendered irrelevant - and that was my cavalry advantage gone....

On top of the hill one squadron has routed (red pin) - the second squadron has taken it's place and received more of the same (shaken - yellow pin)
I had assumed this was such a good plan that I had also bought up the cuirassiers for a little more of the same - on the plus side I had occupied the village...

Cuirassiers stand ready at the bottom of the hill
The Cuirassiers charge....  and get the same treatment as the other cavalry (yellow pin - shaken again!) - I even had my infantry ready to take the top of the hill once the cavalry had done their job....   no such luck - with two further devastating volleys the cuirassiers were also sent packing...

There comes a time when you realise that the evening is not going to go your way - this was it!
DG was now free to bring his cavalry round the hill and take mine on - he now had the advantage in numbers - four fresh squadrons versus three plus a half strength one...

Massive cavalry melee which the French held their own in whilst knowing the writing was already on the wall
...and then he bough down those masses of infantry - gulp...

Grand assault - 1
..different shot of the same assault..


...and this was DG's own picture he was so proud! Awe inspiring shot though...



...and that was it - the French recognised that even though they held the village at the moment - they could not prevail - and the British would eventually have to take it....

DG's plan was to hold back the infantry while he finished off the French cavalry - he could then swing his cavalry round and just roll up the French line - leaving the village until last if required...  couldn't argue with his plan....   or those devil dice.... so I conceded.

Post Match Analysis:

  • It was one of those nights where the dice just couldn't do any wrong for DG - hugely demoralising for yours truly - it's a game but you like to think that you may get some even breaks and I got few to none.... 

  • I think it's important not to over-react when deciding changes to a scenario based on a whupping as comprehensive as this... undoubtedly DG had some lucky dice throws (and I've had games like it in the past), but, ignoring the chance element, I would still recommend that the French get some kind of benefit, or bonus, to balance out the undoubted benefits the British/Dutch get in firing and melee. For the next time we play this scenario (and we will, as it is deceptively simple) either give the French another couple of units, or for that game only cancel out the British/Dutch bonuses...

  • I thought long and hard after the game about where my tactics had gone wrong and came to the conclusion it was with the commitment of the cuirassiers to the fight on the hill... up until that point in time, the use of two squadrons of cavalry to cause an untold amount of discombobulation was a good gamble - I failed in the face of those dice throws, but reinforcing the failure by throwing in the cuirassiers was not a good gamble...  I should have pulled back and conserved my strength. DG played the long game and won a convincing victory....

  •  Refreshments on the evening were down to DG who bought some beer from a local craft brewery... all I can say is that i9t was a very definite highlight of the evening - and I've had two or tree other beers to sample through the week as well - thanks very much DG!




Until the next time!

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the write up because it sounds like a great game.
    Never reinforce failure - a maxim we gamers ignoretoo often!
    As for the advantaqe of the platoon system - I'm not convinced that it is an advantage. French infantry were in more ranks so on a shorter frontage. It thus follows that there should be an equal proportion of shots falling onto target as the platoon system higher rate of fire. I think if there is any advantage perhaps it should be more of a morale effect then physical, the fact that balls are hitting all the time rather than just when the salvo is fired.

    All the same thnaks for that and one I'm keen to try.

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  2. Great read Steve. Not easy when the dice are going the wrong way, I know too! Very nice photos and troops too.

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  3. Excellent write-up, very enjoyable too!! You could play this scenario another ten times and come up with many different results, unfortunately sometimes the dice gods just go against you, on them days it best to have stayed at home and helped the mrs with the washing!!

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  4. Lovely looking game, Steve. You are obviously a gentleman to admit defeat so readily, I think I'd have tried to force an attack on the village hoping that defences would prevail. And thanks for recommending a new beer to me!

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  5. Impressive game. Everything is great, the figures, the terrain and report.

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  6. That's a proper looking wargame that is! Never heard of Jacobi beer...must check it out!

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  7. Cheers guys - the positive comments are much appreciated...

    Grimsby - you make good points & my reading would indicate that platoon firing became less of a benefit as the war progressed - my games are set right at the start of the war though so I think the positive modifier is probably deserved...

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  8. So enjoyable and eye-candy!
    Thanks for sharing.

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  9. A hard fought engagement. Cry God for Harry, England and St George!

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