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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!

22 comments:

  1. A 'Rolicing' good time was had be all, by the looks of it!
    This is a very entertaining report, David, and the troops, needless to say, look absolutely gorgeous on your ingenious terrain.

    Best regards, WM

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    1. It was so funny to have all three of the special events happen, whereas in our game we never had a single one. Of course I was so excited to finally get the Portuguese on the table I forgot to photograph them!

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  2. Looks a fun game - with so many players they must've only been commanding a handful of units each. This only makes it more fun, old-school gaming should be like this, more of a social occasion than a competition. Your units look lovely, being 50% bigger than M&M probably helps but I shall not turn to the dark-side. I intend converting M&M to Hexon hexes and a 36-strong line will extend beyond 2 hexes (I want a column/square to occupy 1 hex and line 2).
    The picture of you bringing out the 'surprise' Portuguese units was a classic, shame there wasn't one of their French opponent's face taken at the same time.
    On the topic of photos I was momentarily disoriented by the 24th making a run for the village. The absence of backpacks (I wish all mine were w/o) and the figure facing the wrong way made me think they were going in the opposite direction.

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    1. The big battalions do look great, but if it had not been for Dick Tennant I don't think I would have had the fortitude for it! You are spot on about each player playing only a couple of battalions. I think it helps create a bond with the individual battalions. You can learn the Colonel's name (all are accurately represented) and have some investment in the units outcome.

      James was clever to do an end run with the 24th. That really cemented the victory for the British, but it also cost the 42nd. Had the 24th been in support the 42nd would not have gone disorganized right as the 39th charged!

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    2. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, a shame for the 42nd, but there you go. Unlike the Archduke (below), I don't subscribe to the view that the Highland units were any better than other line regiments in this period - just had the better PR that comes with being visually distinctive.

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    3. I suspect the Archduke had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. It did make me realize that since I incorporate variably sized units, I need to incorporate a mechanism to account for unit size in melee. I'll probably add +1 die/12 figures to the combat modifiers. Having 12 figures rout 36 was pretty spectacular!

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  3. Wonderful sight David after the terrible impact upon our lives of the past year. Great looking game of course and your figures are magnificent. Love the light over the table :)

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    1. That light was a gift from one of my wife's colleagues who left town. It's just cheap plastic, but I have grown to love it!

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  4. The figures and terrain look spectacular David - glad you're having fun with the rules too!

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    1. All of the gamers really seemed to enjoy the rules. They picked them up so quickly, that my job as umpire was just to sit back and enjoy the show!

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  5. Splendid David...

    It’s always a pleasure to see your collection out on the table.
    And having your friends round for a game... a treat indeed.

    All the best. Aly

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    1. It was a treat indeed. Having good friends over for a game is what it is all about, otherwise it's just sitting in a basement painting figures by yourself!

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  6. Marvellous to see these classic figure on such a splendid table for your first game in a while. Clearly a great time was had.
    I agree with Lee, the light adds a great touch. You should not have told us it's a cheapie plastic job; looks the genuine article!
    Regards, James

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    1. It may be plastic, but I think that adds to the vintage charm. If it were actual glass it would be an expensive antique. I'll take free over expensive any day! This same family gave us an enormous oak desk that I use in my study everyday. I understand why she gave it away though, it is heavy as bejeasus!

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  7. This is indeed the essence of civilised life. Brilliant spectacle, great commentary. But what’s that about highlanders routing? That never happens. Well, not when I’m facing them...

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    1. I know, right? Maybe they need a special Highland rating of A++. To make it worse the full battalion was routed by two companies of line infantry!

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  8. My recollection of US colleagues is that they would drive 80 miles for lunch!
    Nice battle. I have visited Rolica and, though the town is on an eminence the hilly terrain means that there are clear views in some directions, but that it is quite possible to move units around discretely and to suddenly appear close to the enemy, just as you have it
    Roy

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    1. Maybe not for lunch, but we are much more spread out here, so guilty as charged.

      I am envious of your ability to visit Portugal and Spain without traveling halfway around the world. I hope to get there one day and see the battlefields myself, but it is good to know that my approximation of the terrain meets muster. It's not an easy thing to do!

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  9. It's great that you have got together for a game and to see the collection in action. What is your next game going to be. A rerun of Rolica or something else.

    I know that a lunch at Sugars Ribs, in Chattonooga, must be over 250 miles round trip from Nashville.

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    1. Mark, Fortunately Sugars is on the way to Atlanta where my father-in-law lives. We will also travel through this summer to visit my son down in Florida. The great thing about Sugars is that even my vegetarian wife is very happy to eat there. The cornbread, pinto beans, and okra are awesome. We are not as brave as you to go for the whole Jalapenos though!

      Next up will likely be Vimiero, which I will probably do in two parts. Rob has also suggested Mesa de Ibor (17 Mar ‘09), which would allow me to field many of the German battalions including Nassau, Frankfort, and, Baden, all of which Dick modeled. I'm thinking Vimiero first though as I need a chance to catch up sprucing up the French battalions. I have almost finished the first of what is essentially three divisions in the British allied army, and would like to get a division of French finished before moving on the the French allied German and Dutch troops.

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  10. Excellent pictures, very inspiring. Could I ask, what base sizes do you use?

    Paul

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    1. Paul, my standard six figure base is 30x40mm. For the smaller three figure single ranked base I use a 15x40mm base. The two and one figure bases are just split off proportionately from the 15x40.

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