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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Rolica Revisited

 Rolica Revisited!

With the CDC indicating that vaccinations against COVID are highly effective, we thought it time to have a gathering of fully vaccinated gamers for the first time since the Pandemic started.  Interestingly one of the participants let me know my last Muskets and Marshals game held in early 2020, was his last game before the pandemic struck, so very fitting that we should reintroduce social gaming with  a Napoleonic Muskets and Marshals reprise.

For this latest test of Rolica I tweaked a few of the rules for the larger battalions yet again, and all worked out very well.  I reduced the fire power of skirmishers a bit, and moderated the effect of disorganization in melee. Neither tweak had any effect on the length of the game or the fun and  speed of a combat or firefight resolution.  Many, many thanks to Striker over at the Hinton Hunt Vintage Wargame Figures blog for his work on these fantastic and fun rules.  I love the old school feel of the simultaneous movement, which really helps speed the game along.

The Likely suspects: James, Stephen, Eddie, Mike and David - a great crew to open up the garage to and have some fun.

A quick review of the historical situation, a very brief review of the rules, and we were off the the races.

Jockeying for position under the glow of the Miller Lite Billiards fixture.

British canon fire opens the ball.

The 71st moves forward - they would play a crucial role in the actions ahead.

Wellington briefs his staff for his first at bat in the Peninsula.  The French on the hill in the background ready to repel the invaders.

Four companies of the 39th take up position at the top of the hill over-looking steep cliffs.  Two of the battalion's six companies have been sent to garrison a small village where one of Wellington's flanking columns have been seen approaching.

To the right of the cliffs two British battalions Come into assault position.  The Gordon Highlanders will assault up a steep slope while the 50th follow the creek bed into the valley to hopefully come up behind the 39th.

On the left the Black Watch attempt to form line while the 24th makes a run for the village.  Unbeknownst to the Brits, The two companies of the 39th garrisoned in the village have sallied forth and burst through the trees right as the Black Watch is forming into line, throwing them into confusion.  In thew distance the 42nd can hear the drums of another French battalion striking the Pas de Charge.

But wait, what is this, just as the 42nd are thrown into confusion, the Legion Hanovrienne (playing a Swiss battalion), reverse muskets and surrender to the British.  They have had enough of the mistreatment by their French overlords!

While this creates a hole in the center of the French line, the British are not well placed to take advantage, as they have to spend a while assessing the situation and finally spin off several companies from the 58th battalion to escort the Legion Hanovrienne to the rear.

On the left there is more bad news for the 42nd Black Watch Highlanders.  Their illustrious Colonel Macara is knocked from the saddle by well aimed musket ball from the ever present French Voltigeurs.  The loss of their Colonel, the surprise and fierceness of the French attack, and the impending arrival of another French battalion, is just too much and the Highlanders rout away in panic.

The sacrifice of the highlanders was not in vain however.  Having drawn the French forward, they would find themselves completely cut off from the rest of their army.

Meanwhile in the center, the 71st, spurred on by the impetuous Lieutenant-Colonel Cadogan, charge up a ravine in march column hoping to get up the steep hill and behind the bulk of the French forces.  Both the defection of the Swiss (Legion Hanovrienne), and the impetuous charge up the gorge, were historical events.  In this case the roll of a 1 on a die at the beginning of each turn triggered the start of 1 of 3 special events.  The last was yet to come...

Back on the right, despite the steepness of the hill, the Gordons have charged home, disordering the remaining four companies of the 39th.

Unknown to the Gordons, two squadrons of Chasseurs have just charged some British riflemen who unwisely burst into view on the top of the hill in good ground for the Chasseurs.  Some were able to flee to the woods, but about half of the riflemen were ridden down by the merciless Chasseurs.

The Gordons, flush with victory pursue the routing 39th unaware of their danger, and are hit in the flank by the Chasseurs, who ride them down and rout them.  At the same time the 71st Highlanders are charged by the 1st battalion of the 39th.  The 71st were almost able to form line, but the French assault was well time and once again sent another British battalion packing.  Just out of the frame on the bottom right, the 50th were gaining the top of the hill behind the French lines unopposed!

The battle hangs in the balance, but what is this - 2 battalions of Portuguese suddenly appear and begin their inexorable march to the rear of the French formations.  Another "1" at the beginning of the 8th turn has triggered the third special event!

To make matters worse for the French, with the Legere out of position and the Legion Hanovrienne gone, the British light dragoons bolt up the road past modest skirmisher fire which is ineffective due to the pine scrub which gives the horsemen some small protection, but most of all they just got lucky!

The light Dragoons will gain the top of the hill, just as the last of the French guns guarding the road are silenced due to some counter-battery fire that finally found its mark.  Almost simultaneously the 24th British line battalion also gained the top of the hill, putting a strong force of infantry and cavalry in place behind the French blocking the road, with more troops coming up fast on both flanks!  The British paid dearly for their victory, with three battalions chased from the field, but in the end the French were left unable to withdraw and reinforce the army at Vimiero.  So while the French made a good showing, loosing only 1 battalion, based on the positions at the end of turn 10, very few if any would have been able to avoid being made prisoner.

Suddenly the closeness of the battle is explained, as old Nosey apparently left the field of battle to go have a chat with the village laundresses!   Clearly that happy event was suppressed in the history books of the time...

What a fun day it was!  A special thanks to my friends who sacrificed being outside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to spend time around a games table.  Fortunately we were able to leave the garage doors open, so it almost felt like being outside.  A special thanks to David R for taking some absolutely wonderful photographs, and to Eddie and his son James who drove eighty miles each way to join us!  Thanks to Mike for providing good beer and a thorough reading of the rules and to Stephen, whose humor when half of his force defected kept a smile on all our faces.  Can't wait for the next time!

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Works in Progress - Bavarians, Colonels and Old Guard Grenadiers

 With the completion of the Dutch Grenadiers, I have started in on a few new units which are in various stages of completion.  Even more importantly, given expanded access to the vaccine, I have an actual game planned for next week with actual real live people.  I'm not sure I remember how to be sociable, so I may have to practice with my pups before the weekend!

Les Higgins French Old Guard Grenadiers are on deck for prepping and priming.  A few bayonets need repair, but most figures are in excellent condition.  I will be mixing in a few SHQ command types, which mix pretty well with Les Higgins.  There is also a Franznap Colonel and a copy of the Hinton Hunt FN 367 figure of General Cambronne, who may serve instead as General  de Brigade Michel, along with a Les Higgins Major.  Collecting this many out of production figures is no easy feat, so I would be remiss to not thank Wellington Man for finding the majority of these on ebay for me, and Rob G who contributed a some excellent extras that looked virtually brand new as well as General Cambronne.

Here we have some Der Kriegspieler Bavarian Chevau-leger.  A lot of work has gone into these to better approximate the uniform of the Bavarian Chevau-leger.   The command figures are Hinton Hunt and of much higher quality and sculpting accuracy.

While I am working on painting the Bavarians and prepping the French, a battalion of French Marines of the Guard are soaking in the Dettol to remove the old paint.  Thanks to Bill W who generously provided the Marines!

Finally we have just a few odds and ends in process.  Colonel Ralph Dundas Tindall at the far right will take over command of the Dutch Grenadiers.  Next to him is a wonderful Franznap figure of a French Vivandierre nursing her baby.  Finally there is a conversion of a Portuguese Colonel.  I need to spruce up two more of Dick Tennant's Portuguese battalions to complete the British 1st Infantry Division, so I will probably get those done before starting the paintwork on the Les Higgins Old Guard Grenadiers.