Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Raid on St. Michel - Game 4 - "Counter Attack at the Bridgehead"..

While DG was down for the Salute weekend he and I took the opportunity to play the next game in the "Raid on St Michel" linked series of games..

This one is called "Counter Attack at the Bridgehead" and is one of the smaller games in the series without a doubt... All things going to plan the French (as attackers) will have the most troops with 3 battalions of foot, a squadron of horse, and a battery of guns. The defenders (in our case the British) have whoever was left as a rear guard at the end of game 1 [which you can read about by clicking here] which in DG's case was a half strength squadron of horse, and a battalion of foot...

You may remember that one of the concerns I had at the end of the game was the lack of guidance on what kind of threat you should prepare yourself for, and so it proved.. DG found himself trying to hold the river bridge with vastly outnumbered forces and no artillery, and in the end it was the artillery that won this game...

Before we launch into all that however, first the orders of battle for the two sides... click on the following and any other picture for a larger, more agreeable, view...

The French:

The British:

It was clear that this was a one sided scenario - the offer of some artillery to DG then was a way of balancing up the scenario a little - DG being the "complet'ist" he is, of course turned them down so as to play the campaign as designed. A true player...

Next the table... Two views of the table - the French entry point is bottom right - the British (as defenders) deploy anywhere within two feet of the town..

The river is impassible along it's whole length with the exception of the bridge... all hills were classed as "gentle", all woods "open". The majority of the table was therefore open ground (even area's covered by darker green, cornfield etc..)

The Game:

DG opted to place his foot in the middle of town, with his cavalry squadron split into four bases so as to act as a screen...

In the following he is pulling his cavalry back to the village in the face of my cavalry advance guard...

Here comes my main force - cavalry leading - you can see that DG's cavalry has now almost completed re-combining..

DG's plan was, perforce, simple - he moved his infantry over the bridge to where they couldn't be outflanked, and then guarded the bridge with his cavalry (see following)...

Hoping for a quick and bloodless win I of course attacked immediately with my cavalry and eventually managed to push his cavalry back over the bridge in rout...

In the following, the British cavalry have routed from the field - probably best as this gives them the chance of recovering - the French cavalry meanwhile mill in confusion as a result of a failed change of formation die roll (blue pin = disorganised), you'll note that the standard of drill in the French army is not good!

Having eventually managed to change formation, my follow up charge (only one base frontage wide because of the width of the bridge) was repulsed quickly and bloodily by the well timed volleys of the British infantry....

I pulled back, made room for my infantry, and sent the Bourbonnais across the bridge - with the same results!

At which point common sense prevailed and I waited for the artillery to turn up and deploy and then just blasted him out of the way before taking the bridge and the game...

Post Match Analysis:
  • A poor scenario if you haven't put a decent rear guard in place in the first scenario - the problem is that it's kind of difficult to know what travails you have to face in the rest of the campaign when you haven't had a chance to review the campaign book in detail (and the book advises the non-referee'ing player not to). As a result, your planning in the dark (very realistic I suspect, but you would have had some idea surely??) and the obvious thing to do in such a situation is to take as many troops with you to St Michel as possible!
  • Far better I think would have been to do for the British what this scenario did for the French - in this scenario the French are an "extra" they weren't part of the original defence force. You could call the British force "reinforcements" if you wanted to..
  • Battle honours in this game went to the French cavalry and British infantry - both of whom had significant success..

The Butchers Bill:
The coloured boxes indicate a casualty on the unit - the red or the green indicates whether there was then a successful saving throw or not...

Mixed fortunes for the British..

..and finally the French - a more balanced recovery..

All in all then, although pleasant to push some lead, not a particularly satisfying scenario and over quite quickly. Given I don't get to game with DG that often, some more lead was quickly pulled from the boxes and we had a quick encounter game on the same terrain. I have no pictures but this was one of those excellent games where the fortunes of war swing both ways and after a very enjoyable tussle we ended up with a bloody draw... not a wasted evening at all!!


  1. Steve,

    I don't believe that I have commented before about how attractive your terrain set-ups are.

    I really like the "look" of your table top terrain. Good show, sir.

    -- Jeff

  2. steve,

    Excellent write up as always.

    The invading force would have some knowledge of the enemy forces avaiable to stop the invasion and can thus plan their defenders accordingly. I agree that their should be some scope to give the defenders an idea of what to expect later down the line.

  3. This shows one of the ever present dangers of campaigns, even mini-ones.

    Of course in an ongoing campaign, the players would have a rough idea of what their opponent has to choose from if not what he was allowed to use. I would expect most players to think that they wouldn't be asked to pick a rear guard unless they were going to be used in a game and would expect enough of an attacker to make a good game of it so would leave a brigade and some artillery at least. But there is no telling what some gamers will read into a situation, and how often what they see and think is different from what you as GM expected. If I was to run thus straight up, I think a sympathetic peasant might warn the invader of all arms enemy brigade in position to possibly attack the bridge.

    Fighting the last scenario now with the stragglers of the big defeat finding their retreat cut off might be a pretty sorry evening's game but then again, it could provide scope for a heroic come back of the Dunkirk sort.