Friday, 24 June 2011

Through the streets

Song of Drums and Shako (cont)

The rules suggest that a game of SDS ought to last up to 45 minutes so I had hoped that in the five hours we normally have at the club would could get through 5 scenarios. However as the first game took us a couple of hours I decided to compress a couple of scenarios into one for the next game.

Having been pushed backs from the town walls the French fall back through the town. The standing orders in case of attack were to make for the church.

So in scenario two all the French have to do is get across the table. A table only three feet across. Of course success of the British assault has inspired the locals to retrieve their old guns, or recently captured muskets, from barns lofts or sheds and make trouble for the retreating French.

French squads enter the table and head for the comparative cover of the central park.

However the locals of San Antonio have a score to settle.

A number of partisans were set up in ambush using the simple mechanism of laying a couple of markers down one being a dummy and the other the actual figure. Activated at will by the Spanish player or when the French move close enough.

Xavi and Pepe await les bleus.

An interesting thing to note with most wargamers is that although the oblective is simply to get across the table as intact as possible the temptation to stand and fire is just too great. Despite the fact that the British are just a couple of moves behind!

A sharp firefight ensues around the central park. Luckily the gunfire brought a supporting squad to the aid of the beleaguered French. Very poor movement dice for the Rifles prevented the destruction of the retreating French and eventually most of them got across the board.

The final scenario of the day ( as that was all we had time for) was the assault on the churchyard.

The standing order for the French forces was too retreat and consolidate at the church if attacked.

One French squad was placed in the churchyard and all the (now) allies had to do was get in take the gold. Of course other French squads could appear down the side streets to join in the fight.

The church of San Antonio under assault by Spanish and British alike.

A bitter battle ensued despite snake eyes Bob (defending) living up to his name. Luckily he didn't have to move much. Again the greencoats seemed hesitant to get stuck in whilst the Spaniards suffered by their impetuosity (or lack of support).

Soon the French support began to arrive.

It wasn't long before the partisans' reckless charges led to too many casualties and they were forced to retreat. Whilst the original French defenders were also whittled down to nought the reinforcing squads proved too much for the attackers who had a foothold arund the gravestones but not in the church itself and the British were repulsed. Leaving the payroll chest intact but and with fewer to pay.

I think most of the players enjoyed the game and indeed further orders have been dispatched to Front Rank to bolster the ranks a little. It made a change from corps or divisional level battles. Fewer than sixty figures were used. The rules were simple but subtle and made for a fun game. With a little thought many scenarios can be devised to create mini campaigns. Brigadier Gerard and Sharpe may yet meet in a little Spanish village.

I've now bought the Arthur and Merlin rules so watch you're back Jim, Adrianus of Pant Glas may ride again.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Once More into the Breach.....

The battered walls of San Antonio.

Song of Drums and Shakos is designed to be played by two players on a 3 foot square table (for 28mm). I wasn't sure how many players were going to turn up - but more than two anyway. So I took along the old sand covered boards; all of which were three feet deep but with various widths so we could choose what size when we set up. The rules suggest that the three feet deep table is used as routing figures with a bad morale throw are likely to exit rearwards. We decided on a five foot wide board for the six players that turned up. Each player got a squad each of 5,6 or 7 figures.

All the Britsh players had to do was get more of their figures on the town side of the wall than the French had. However the frogs began with more figures so some had to be disposed of.

Deploying first the French had to defend three breaches in the wall so were rather stretched. Sensibly Major Gray concentrated his forces on one breach and advanced without hesitation. Despite the victory condition the French squad furthest from the assault ventured beyond the wall to try to catch the British in the flank.

One of the nice subtleties of the game is the activation where one needs to equal or beat the Quality of the soldier on a dice One chooses to throw 1,2 or 3 dice to determine the number of actions allowed the soldier. The sting is that 2 fails means the end of activations allowed to the squad. Throwing one dice means that a fail is impossible but means that a) this leads to slow progress 2) some actions, such as reloading, require two passes.

Fortunately for the Red (and Green) coats the assault was made against the squad of "snake eyes Bob". I believe that chance of throwing double one is less that 3%. For Bob this seemed to have changed to 50%. Despite losing a couple of privates to long range fire the Brits advanced without further loss due to the nervous slow loading French and with accurate rifle fire and a bayonet charge routed Bob's French squad and had made their way into San Antonio.
Private Boursin mans the defences

Assault on San Antonio

Song of Drums and Shakos

January 1812 - the British march back into Spain and find themselves having to besiege a number of fortified towns and villages on their way. They have the manpower and siege train to do this but Marmont is moving westwards to meet them.

Much to the chagrin of Major Bull, having spent a day digging in a number of his artillery pieces behind some nicely improvised redoubts, the Duke sent new orders for him to rejoin the main force immediately to meet Marmont a few miles away. Only a couple of score shells had been lobbed onto San Antonio destroying half a dozen houses and knocking a few holes in the already ramshackle outer wall.

The Duke had quickly seen that little threat lay within San Antonio and no strategic import. A couple of companies of foot have been left behind under the command of Major Gray (bart) to keep an eye on the few remaining froggies. “May as well just leave ‘em to rot,” the Duke had said. “But don’t let ‘em out.”

However a prisoner, caught trying to escape the town, insists that the regiments pay chest is sitting under the altar of the church in the centre of the village. He also maintains that a number of partisans are roaming the streets cutting the throats of any bluecoats they find and searching for aforementioned strongbox.

Not only having lost his last decent mount to a broken leg but also a large amount of sovereigns to poor luck in whist game French gold does seem quite attractive to Major Gray. Obviously he couldn’t mount a major assault with both companies but a small party could break in and pinch a franc or two whilst the frogs are hiding under their beds from the partisans … and of course Bull had made a few holes in the wall already.

Scenario one: Once more into the breach...

With a hand picked bunch of the stony broke and desperate, Major Gray must lead his troops past the motley French guard and into the town.

The British win if they have more men on the town side of the wall than the French

Bases on the forlorn hope scenario in the rules.

In the rules figures are lost when they are killed, wounded or run away. Over the course of the scenarios the idea was that dead soldiers are lost forever, wounded may recover fully or recover with less ability or may die of wounds. The cowards would return sheepishly.

(more to follow).

Monday, 13 June 2011

Song of Drums and Shakos

May (and early June) sped past in a whirr of work. I've managed no figure painting for six weeks but I have put together a little Spanish village to fight Song Of Drums and Shakos over. I had a look at the resin buildings on the market and very nice they were too; and pricey. I figured that a nice size village would set me back at least £200.

A quick browse over t'internet led me to the lovely Kapiti Fusiliers site where the clever Roly Hermans showed me how to knock together a foam board village. (I recall similar from the sadly defunct Major Rederring).

So a quick trip to ye olde arte shoppe and for less than a tenner I got a couple of A2 size foamboards. I chose the more expensive black version so I wouldn't have to undercoat. A further visit to the local model train shop got me some splendid pantile roofs. For about £20 I made myself a village in about three weeks, probably 20 hours work. Being a fat fingered Klutz they're not as good as a purchased article but cheap and quick (there seems to be a theme recurring through this blog) and not too bad on the table. I also play with very nice people who are always complimentary.

Song of Drums and Shako are produced by Ganesha Games who produced mostly fantasy or futuristic small scale rules but have released some historical skirmish rules on the same game engine. If fantasy/sci fi players are going to convert to historical gaming I think this could be the way. Most of their rules are skirmish type games where each player has fewer then ten figures each. Based on a simple but subtle activation system with basic combat and morale it seemed right up our street.

The rules suggested that a game should take about 45 minutes so a mini "campaign" seemed in order. Or rather a series of scenarios like those computer game thingies the youngsters play these days.

The rules have a few scenario ideas so I started with these and added a bit of a twist. tbc