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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Rolica 1808 - The Assault!

 The long distance battle with Wellington Man in New Zealand continues unabated with a storm of emails, maps, and photos detailing the movement of the troops.  The French, secure in their strong defensive position, have had a rude awakening from the British canon and clouds of riflemen swarming over the approaches to the hills.  All along the line the French are feeling the pressure of the advancing British, with columns storming up the hills while riflemen and close order battalions in firing line continue to hurl death and destruction into the French ranks.

The British Far Left:

The brave French on the British far left hurl themselves out of the village and attempt to form column, daring the withering fire of the riflemen and into the looming destruction of a battery of 6 pounders being manhandled into position to hurl certain destruction upon them.  If not for the action of their defiant attack however, those very guns would have been pouring roundshot into the flank of the 6th Legere, barely visible in the background.

The 5/60th American rifles and a battery of Royal Horse Artillery punishing the 3 companies of the 39th French line's 2nd battalion who had been detached to hold the village at the edge of the battlefield, against the inevitable appearance of one of the British flanking columns approaching in the distance.

The morale marker and a full company and a half of toppled soldiers tell the story of their sacrifice.

The British Center Left

The 42nd, under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Macara, form column on the main road leading up the hillside.

To the left of the 42nd, and separated from them by a spur of the hillside, the 92nd prepares to advance up the hill in firing line led by Lieutenant Colonel John Cameron.  The advance is a tortuously slow process given the difficult terrain.

Waiting for the 42nd and 92nd Highland battalions on the spur of the hill, is the 1st battalion of the 6th Legere.  Casualties from artillery and the ever present riflemen are already being felt as the 6th has lost more than a quarter of their strength as they retreated further into the relative safety of the deep wooded slope.  More skirmisher from their second battalion are hurrying into position to protect their flank from those pesky British rifles!

The 42nd crosses the bridge, closing to within near charge distance of the 6th legere.  Only a thin line of French skirmishers stands in their way, but already the 42nd has begun taking casualties.

The pincers of the British attack on the 6th Legere close in!

The British Center

Yet another battery pounds the French forces as the 71st light infantry advances in the center.

Only two and a half companies of the French 39th Regiment's 2nd battalion hold this sector of the field, and the British canons have made their presence known, disordering the regiment as the 50th prepare to assault.  The Chef de Battalion is desperate to rally them before the assault, but the courage of his infantry hangs on a knife's edge (or the roll of a six sided die as the case may be).

To bolster their courage, two skirmishing units of the 6th Legere's 2nd battalion have left the cover of the woods to pour fire into the flanks of the approaching British firing lines.  Suddenly the hot blood of the French voltigeurs turns to ice as the sound of hoof beats reverberate in the distance.  Felt more than heard, there can be no doubt as to the approach of what they fear most - the dreaded light dragoons.  Sabers glinting coldly in the smoke filled air bring a promise of death.

The open center of the battlefield, a perfect hunting ground for the fast moving horses of the British 9th Light Dragoons.  

Sound the charge! - Doh! The thunderous sound of all the horses must have knocked off the camera of the way back machine again.    

In order to reach the skirmishers however, the dragoons will have to pass through an open field covered by french artillery on the hill above, whose accurate fire has already taken out two of the guns of a British battery in the center.

The British Right

The British pressure on the French line is relentless, nowhere more so than on the British right flank where the 24th and 58th regiments are attempting to dislodge the 1st battalion of the French 39th line regiment

The 24th storms up the hillside in an attack column.  The French are taken unawares by their rapid advance and unable to bring all of their muskets to bear on the British column, as the woods and the curve of their own line obscure the attacking column from sight.  The 24th endure trifling casualties, but now must face the point blank fire of the French as they close with them.  The French hold the higher ground, but the British are highly trained and full of confidence in their own native superiority.  For King and Country!  The Cry goes up and the 24th make the final push up the hill....

As the 24th assaults the left of the French Line, the 58th pours a galling fire into the woods, continuing to make the French pay for holding their line on the hillside, but is it enough?      

While it is looking grim for the French, historically speaking Rolica was designed as a delaying action to buy time for the French armies in the area to assemble.  From a game's perspective, this scenario was originally conceived as an eight turn game, with control of the road leading from the rear of the French the key victory condition, the game may need to be extended to give the British a fighting chance of taking the road in time.  On the other hand, the eight turn limit might force the British into more ill timed column assaults as actually happened.  In any event this brings an end to turn 5.  Tune in next time for the resounding clash of arms as the columns hit their targets, and the sabers of the cavalry are drawn.


  1. Still all to play for - a bit of time pressure is just what's needed, otherwise the British can safely assemble an overwhelming force before committing themselves... but you have to allow them enough moves to get to the objective plus a couple to fight for it.
    The skirmish and artillery (especially counter battery) fire sounds overly effective but that may just be your dramatic prose.
    Looking forward to the next thrilling instalment and the AAR of how the rule mods worked out.

    1. One of the more interesting discussions we have had is about the effect of skirmisher fire. While you are correct in that it may be overpowered, it provides an incentive for players "to get on with it" so to speak. WM and I have both agreed it is more about a balance of play for us, than trying to reproduce real life combat effects. As for the counter battery fire, I think a little luck came into play there. I don't expect you'll see that level of casualties from long distance artillery very often. Heck, the French don't even have a full battery, just 5 guns, so the die gods were definitely kind to me on that one!

  2. I'm enjoying every minute of this, David, not least because of the highly entertaining debate about game design, mechanics and philosophy we've been having. To cap it all, your terrain, soldiers and photography are simply superb. You really have created the most amazing and exciting spectacle - a vintage tour de force.

  3. I had a good source to draw inspiration from! Thanks for the kind words. Now if you will just stop picking on all of my soldiers. They look so much better standing up, but you keep knocking them down! I too have very much enjoyed our conversations and am looking forward to the next few game turn eagerly.

  4. This is splendid David...
    What a beautiful looking and sounding game
    I am looking forward to getting enough of my own toys finished so as to experience these thrills for myself

    All the best. Aly

    1. Thanks Aly,

      Given the number of stunning units I have seen you posting lately it should not take long! I will say that having the Tennant collection to bolster my efforts has been an amazing leg up. I truly don't know if I would have been able to manage it otherwise.

  5. An enthralling game David, great photos and commentary!

    1. Thanks Stryker. Despite the long distance nature of the game, your M&M rules have kept it moving right along in an engaging way.

  6. Fantastic looking game and report. Its good to see your collection in action.

    What battle are you planning to do next ?

    1. Thanks Mark. Vimiero will likely be next, though broken into two parts as the action was widely spread out and localized it appears. I do want to finish up the terrain and combat units for Rolica though. Not everything is 100% yet for this battle.

  7. Slight hijack of your topic but you were asking about Napoleonic cannon on another forum. I have some information that may help. Ask Wellington Man for Goya’s email and send me yours and we can discuss.