Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Mira Señor, Gabacho. Miles de ellos!

Another 'simple scenario' solo game. I set this up for two reasons. The first was to continue my efforts to get my version of 'classic Piquet for large battles' to work for Napoleonic actions. The second was to get most of my French onto the table so that I could blood my new units. 

The scenario is basically a hold against superior numbers game - hence the post title which, I believe (google), translates as "Look Sir, Frogs, Thousands of 'em!". The raw numbers are 3:2 in infantry, 6:4 in cavalry, and 7:6 in guns.

To balance the numbers, I have given the British a very strong defensive position centred on two steep boulder strewn hills. I also allowed the British to dice again for any 'red bead' units they rolled up. I'll get onto what all the beads mean before the battle report proper so you can follow what's going on in the photographs more easily.

Because it is a solo game, to mix it up, I will stagger the time that each side can start moving: Neither side will be able to act on cards, other than those for firepower and melee, until it has turned a Brilliant Leader card - the British have two, the French have one - which counts only as 'Activation'. Will the British get into position before the French get their attacks underway, or will the French steal a march on them? Again, this in theory gives the British a slight edge but, this is Piquet, we will see.

To win, the British must hold for six turns. Obviously, if the  French turn their Brilliant Leader card late in turn one this might be reduced nearer to five turns. 

The Battlefield.
This photo is captioned with the names I'm going to use to navigate through the battle report. It shows almost of the set up except for the cavalry on the southern wings - which I couldn't get into shot.

This photo shows the French cavalry  of 6th division (1500 strong) on the southern flank with the infantry of 5th division (5000), to their left, about to make their way into the streets and buildings of Los Muerte. From here, 5th Division will seek to assault up the southern slopes of Windmill Hill. 

Because the British are badly outnumbered, I'm taking the decision to hold all of the French cavalry in reserve - to await events.

Just to the northwest of of Los Muerte stand the infantry of 4th division (7000) and 2nd divisions (4000), with 4th division, including two units of 'reserve grenadiers', leading. 

The artillery of both divisions (front right) is massed, on their right, to support the main attack on Windmill Hill. 

On a small knoll (centre left) the French C-in-C oversees the final preparations for the main assault.
Immediately to the north of 2nd and 4th divisions is another numerically strong division, the 1st (7000). This stands in reserve ready to support either the thrust on Windmill Hill or Muscle Hill. 

1st division will advance, but will not attack either hill immediately - they will by advance to a striking position in the valley and await further orders.

Behind them, are the Chasseurs of the Corps Cavalry under the direct control of the C-in-C.
Finally on the northern flank, facing Muscle hill are the infantry of 3rd division (5000) and the cavalry of 7th division (1000). The artillery of 3rd division is hidden from view - it is on the road (centre right) in front of the building.

3rd division will lead the assault on Muscle Hill in mixed order. The cavalry will act in support if required.

Holding the southern flank of the British line are the cavalry of 4th division (1500). Their orders are not to get into trouble.
In the foreground the Guards and KGL of 2nd division (4000) are marching quickly towards Los Muerte in order to secure the southern approaches to Windmill Hill.

Above them, on its summit, the infantry of 5th division (5000) stand ready to repel any assault up its treacherous slopes.
To the north, on Muscle Hill, the infantry of 1st division (4000), including two units of Highlanders, are set in depth to defend it in strength. Below them, a detachment of 4th division cavalry (500) lie in the dead ground ready to support their left flank.

On the road, heading south, are the infantry of 3rd division (5000). Their orders are to occupy the valley, using The Farm as a strongpoint, and forcefully prevent incursion by the French.
Lastly, in the valley between the hills, just west of The Farm, stands an independent HA battery under the command of Major Dethley-White. At present, living up to his name, his is the sole unit defending the valley.

So you might better understand the upcoming photographs, here is a list of the beads and markers you will see.

Each unit has two or three beads. On the left pin, there are two beads, one on top of the other. 

The top bead (in this game white for French, black for British) is easy enough, it's a number bead and notes the divisional command group. 

The coloured bead below is the basic quality bead. This affects the two main unit factors, combat and morale. All units start with the same factors, their base dice for combat is D8 and their base dice for morale is D6. The bead colour adjusts this. A red bead takes the dice values down a level (one dice smaller) to D6 and D4 respectively, a green bead applies no change, a blue bead takes the dice up one level to D10 and D8, and a purple bead takes the dice up two levels to D12 and D10. 

These dice are adjusted for tactical situation during the game in the usual kind of way - for cover, full strength, etc. - but the bead gives you base start point of the unit. As said, all units start at D8 for combat so the beads denote unit type (weight of cavalry, for example) and unit effectiveness (militia, or battle weary) combined.

Some units have a second coloured bead (on the right). This denotes 'Elite' status. There are three kinds of elite status. A white bead denotes guard status and takes the unit up a extra dice for morale, up a dice for melee, and allows it to use the Elite Firepower card. A pink bead denotes a 'fierce' unit and takes it unit up a dice for morale and for melee only. A yellow bead denotes elite light troops and takes a unit up a dice for morale and allows it to use both the Elite Firepower card and the Native Mobility card. Black beads denote the troops are steadfast and up a dice for morale only. In the picture above there are elite legere and fierce grenadiers. Note, dice in Piquet never go above D12; after that it's D12+1, etc. to a maximum roll score of 12. Dice never go below D4, you always have a chance.

Commanders have the same set up, but the dice only affects the command rating, based on a D8, of the division (which I take to be the aggregate of all the senior officers from colonel to division commander, rather than just the divisional commander himself). In the shot above, the command stand for 2nd division has a blue bead (D10, a well commanded division). At present, there are no second coloured beads for officers.

Next to the officer is a tray containing two D6: this is the morale point total for the division. This is an experiment I've already tried and liked (hence me bothering to make dice trays). The one above shows that of 2nd division, which rolled particularly well. The points were, for the true blood Piquers out there, worked out as follows. Divisions get 1 morale point per unit (banked), plus 1D6 per unit, plus 1 D6 per elite unit - the dice are rolled and the number of 5s and 6s are added to the morale point total, simple as that. When it reaches zero (spending them for being broken, shaken, eliminated, rallies and morale challenges) the division is subject to divisional morale checks on Major Morale cards.

I came up with the coloured bead thing after playing Commands and Colors for the first time. It's simply amazing how well the brain responds to colour coding. Honestly, the above might sound complicated, but after a turn or two, you simply don't forget - ever. Indeed, you should be careful how you colour code, because once done it's very hard to change it. What's more, everything is immediately visible, you don't forget unit type factors, and you don't get them wrong: roster sheets are a thing of the past here.

Lastly, there are in game markers. The pompom is a 'has fired marker'; the tuft means a unit is disordered; the broken wheel means the unit is shaken; stone markers (1 - 4 stones, here 2) are for marking unit integrity losses / casualties; the barrel is a general 'do not forget / where I'm up to / counting beans' marker (most often used to track what has used a card over two separate initiative phases).

So, that's part one. Everything is set for the off. Part 2, The Battle, coming soon.


Brent said...

Beautiful James! Looking forward to following your game.

A.P. said...

Nice write up. I like the bead concept! Pictures of your set up and figures are great.

pancerni said...

Should be rollicking good fun! PK is always a great game.

Steve J. said...

That is certainly a beautifully set up game and table:)

Chris Hahn said...

Sir James (well, you should be knighted for your work in the hobby),
Once again, you set the standard for how a table should look, and how one should write a post.
The figures are, of course, magnificent. The table, as per usual, is stunning. Together, this Napoleonic action is a visual feast. Very much looking forward to the narrative of the action.

IronDuke596 said...

I echo Chris' comments above. Your posts are breathtaking and have given me inspiration to partially break out of my War of 1812 scene and start building eastern Spain armies of Suchet and Murray circa 1813. Well done!

Ratmaul said...

I always like how you put up and organize your scenarios. Now looking forward to see how it develops :)
And, you sold me the idea of color coding, I have to try it in my games. I wonder where I could find numbered bids...


Thanks, guys, for your kind words.


For beads go to ebay. The coloured beads are 6 x 8 mm pony beads and generally cost less than £2 per 100 inc postage. I found it best to buy 100 of each colour separately. The number beads are 6mm number beads, though if I were buying them again I would buy the 4 x 7 mm flat round number beads now available. I advise buying two mixed number packs for sufficient of each number (generally sold as random mix), all white because they are easier to read than the black ones. Again they cost about £2 for one hundred.

Balagan said...

Lovely looking table.

The bead system is very cool. Do they slide onto pins or something?

But my favourite thing is the scenario name: "Mira Señor, Gabacho. Miles de ellos!"

David said...

Wonderful looking game! Look forward to how it plays out...




Yep, For this collection I ID my units in two ways using the central two bases. On the left there is a name bar giving the battalion name, number, etc. E.g. 9th Foot (East Norfolk). on the right there are two pins, actually 1" panel pins.

To ease the process, when I make the bases up (I cut most of my own MDF bases), I cut a 6mm wide 'bar / plank' that fits along the back edge. This holds the pins very firmly (the bar makes it 4mm thick not 2mm) and keeps the 'name plate' clear and free of the basing mix so you have a nice clear, level, neatly cut surface to glue the name plate to.

Initially, I printed the name plates on thin white card. I didn't like it, it was too stark, so I re-did them using brown card (about the same shade as brown paper). Even if you don't like the beads, I'd recommend using brown card for name plates rather than white - they look groovy, baby.