Robert Wingrave's blog

Wild West – Dead Man’s Hand

I was recently given (by generous ex club member) some Foundry Wild West figures which were painted for me by a talented painter called Jim. It is a period that has not really grabbed me in the past but after seeing them painted and seeing a few articles on various Wild West games I was keen to get them on the table. This was further fueled by the buildings 4Ground make under their Dead Man’s Hand range. My collection started with a few buildings to see what they were like and I ended up buying most of their range.

I set up the game with 4 gangs The Lawmen (Noel), Desperadoes (Jonathan), Renegade Indians (Phil) and 7th Cavalry (Myself / Adam). The Desperadoes mission was to Rob the Bank, The Indians to rescue a captured squaw held in the Sheriff’s Jail. The Lawmen were to protect the bank and keep the squaw safe until the 7th Cavalry arrived to take her away for questioning. The Lawmen placed their figures first. The Desperadoes were put half in the Saloon and half in the Hotel. The Indians were to come on from the edge of the table with the Cavalry coming on much later from the table edge. The Desperadoes got stuck into the Lawmen very early, however their shooting was particular poor thanks to lady luck deserting Jonathan on his shooting rolls. The lawman on the other hand had some early success with one particular lucky long range shot felling a Desperado outright! The Desperadoes did however fare much better in coming to grips with the lawmen when they got stuck into hand to hand fighting.

The Dead Man Hand’s card system worked well which kept the Desperadoes in the game despite being up against some great shooting by the Lawmen. The card system really gives the game its edge and judicious use of the cards produced some great moments with various figures either stumbling or being incapacitated by being drunk at key moments. The Indians advanced slowly and with hindsight they should have come on much closer to the Jail in the light of the movement rates. The Desperadoes finally reached the bank and for once the Lawmen’s shooting dice failed and despite close range shotgun fire they had almost broken into the bank. They were being held off by one upstanding female citizen armed with a shotgun. By the time the 7th Cavalry arrived it was unfortunately time to pack up. The Lawmen were close to a big nerve test as they had lost 4 of their 9 strong gang including their leader. The rules worked well and with a few more games I think they could prove to be a big hit at the club. With hindsight for the first game I should have kept to 2 gangs to ensure the game speed was kept up until we learnt the rules a bit better.

Saxons Vs Normans

Noel brought along his fabulous 28mm Saxon and Norman figures and we used Hail Caesar rules to play this game. The scenario was that Saxon army needed to get off the far table edge. The Saxon army was being pursued by a Norman army to its rear and to get off the table edge they needed to break through a smaller Norman army guarding a ford. The Saxon army outnumbered the defending Norman army just under 3-1. At the start of the game the Saxons were aware of one ford but was not sure whether there was others.

The Saxon advanced on the flanks as quickly as they were permitted by the Hail Caesar rules whilst the centre advanced more cautiously. The Norman army repositioned itself defending the ford. Jonathan joined the game and took control of the Saxon flanks. The Saxon left flank with its cavalry arrived at the river but could not find any additional fords. The right flank took much longer largely down to my earlier poor command dice rolls and slower movement rates. As the main body approached the ford unknown to the Saxon players a large force of Norman cavalry arrived on the table to its rear…a few Anglo Saxon expletives were uttered by the Saxon players. The Saxon centre was forced to crash into the Normans at the ford as soon possible.

Fortunately for the Saxons the Norman cavalry under Patrick had some shocking command rolls, including a few amusing blunder orders – giving them some more time! The Saxon centre crashed into the Normans at the ford and at the same time the right flank found another ford. The Normans defending the ford benefitted from the terrain and their special status as tough troops held the Saxons. At long last the Norman cavalry finally got their act together and hit the rear of the Saxon army. The “wheels were coming off” for the Saxons. A fierce battle raged at the ford but the Saxons could make no head way at either ford. The Norman cavalry managed to out flank the Saxon army resulting in its complete destruction. With hindsight the Saxons should have moved quicker towards the ford but even when they did engage they were not strong enough (inferior dice rolling) to get across. A great game.

Napoleonic Wars – Prussian v’s French

Noel put on a game using Phil’s excellent 15mm figures testing out his home made Napoleonic rules which have a Shako feel, to iron out any issues prior to using them for our refight of Talavera on Sunday. One keys aspect is the Army morale, which starts at 100% and is divided by the number of units the army has to calculate what each unit is worth as a percentage. Each time the army loses a unit, the morale drops by the percentage that unit represents and its parent formation (division usually) has to undertake a morale test. If this test fails the player has to test his army morale.

The terrain was quite broken with a good smattering of woods. The Prussian forces had superior cavalry but not infantry. Alan and Noel played the French opposing them was Mike, Jonathan, Phil and Simon for the Prussians. Deployment was fairly conventional with infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings. The superior Prussian cavalry attached on both flanks whilst the Prussian infantry moved forward to engage the French who were defending a ridge line. Alan who has decided now that cavalry is not his thing or is cursed by lady luck when commanding them soon came a cropper on the French right wing. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. On the French left the Prussian Cuirassiers were repeating a similar feat and smashing through the French cavalry.

Meanwhile the French guns were causing mounting casualties on the advancing Prussians. However more defeats on both flanks to French cavalry cause divisional morale checks. To compound matters further unlucky dice rolls resulted in both French cavalry divisions failing their morale checks which resulted in two army morale checks. The morale was already down due to cavalry losses, provided that they did not throw any very high dice roll on the army morale they would be fine and could the French turn the tide on the Prussians. Lady luck decided that is was not a French day with the worst die they could possibly roll at 100% dropped their morale to the low teens. The Prussians needed to destroy two more French units to win the game….

Back to the Sudan 1885

We gave my Perry figures another run out at the club using Black Powder rule set. The British were given 2 Brigades of infantry each with 3 Battalions of foot with support by a 7pdr Screw gun, a Gardner and Gatling Machine gun. They were also given a brigade of Cavalry of 3 regiments including a regiment of Bengal Lancers. These were faced by 8 foot units of Beja warriors (2 rifle armed) and 2 Nile Arab units on foot. In support the Mahdists had 2 cavalry, 2 camelry units and 2 captured Krupp guns.

The British players Noel and Phil took a brigade of infantry each and split the cavalry. I am not sure whether much discussion was had over a battle plan but noel decided that speed was of essence and his cavalry charged down the British right flank and very quickly charged into trouble! Phil of the right flank decided a much more prudent advance was the order of the day even though that meant Noel’s brigade’s left flank was hanging in the air. Both British players decided that an advance in line was the formation to adopt – not brigade squares. Noel’s cavalry after a fierce engagement withdrew slight worse for wear. His infantry were marching as quickly as they could to help support the outnumbered cavalry.

The Cavalry charged again and were destroyed. The natives led by Simon and Jonathan surprised the advancing British infantry and smashed into the advancing British infantry brigade. Unable to deploy his supporting machine guns (due to poor order dice rolls) Noel’s British brigade ended up in a fierce melee all long his line. However Phil’s troops were still some way back and were unable to support. Lady luck deserted Noel in his dice rolls and combined with clever aggressive play by Simon and Jonathan resulted in Noel’s brigade of infantry being destroyed – even the Scottish infantry fell to the charge of the Ferocious Beja. I am sure there will be questions in the house… Phil’s brigade finally got into action seeing off a few native units and started to grind forward. However heavily outnumbered and still far from the objective and game time running out the day was won by the Mahdists. The British players were left pondering where it wrong…

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