The local wargames convention – Call to Arms – was held on the weekend of 6 – 7 August 2016. The son & heir and von Peter himself added that touch of celebrity to the proceedings on the Saturday by participating in a Sharp Practice 2 Napoleonic game. Ray provided the scenario and the French with Dan and Michael rounding out the five players involved.
von Peter himself and The son & heir were the first to arrive from our happy band of gamers. It was a cold wintry day outside and initially not much better inside the hall so an empty demonstration table situated under some heating and by the refreshments seemed like a gift from the wargaming gods. As there were no other obvious demonstration tables about it was rapidly claimed. We later learned that it was not our designated table but some other swine had ‘stolen’ our official table so we stayed put. Subsequently we were to discover that the wargaming gods have quite the sense of humour. The temperature about our table rose … and rose … … and rose. We started shedding layers of clothing – but not passed the point of decency The dear reader can be assured! It was not just the battle that was heating up through that day.
The setting was 1814 France, specifically the town and surrounds of St Pierre wherever that is. The action was the culmination of a chase that had been ongoing in one form or another since the godless French looted the holy relics of St. Basil from a church in Holy Russian during the atrocities of 1812. Fortunately for the pursuing Russians the religious relic carrying waggon containing ‘the precious’ has lost a wheel and unfortunately for the French the local blacksmith has fled at the first mention of the word ‘cossack’. This has unsurprisingly added greatly to the difficulties of repairing the religious relic carrying waggon. And wouldn’t you know it the Russians have now appeared. Merde! Can the French repair and extract the waggon before the Russians recover their religious and pricey artefacts?
What follows is a sporadic photo summary of the game. Sporadic because when von Peter himself wasn’t playing the game he was socialising. In between these two activities he would occasionally think to take some photographs. And to add to the challenge those photographs were taken without the aid of a tripod so apologies for their quality.
But first some background for The dear readers …
- the scenario called for more Russian light cavalry than was available. Fortunately Blücher was not adverse to lending some Prussian cavalry to his Russian allies. Anything to upset the French! Irrespective of how they looked all the Allied cavalry were played as Russian hussars. Those first rank Russian hussars with lances did not get to use them in the game.
- the religious relic carrying waggon had its own card in the deck. Each time it appeared the French rolled 2 six sided dice and accumulated the score. Once they surpassed a score of 37(?) the religious relic carrying waggon would be adjudged to be repaired. After that the waggon would move as an infantryman on the turn of it’s card.
- generally the Russians were men who had well learned their military trade through the wars whereas some of the French were recently called to the colours.
- for the uninitiated a ‘Group’ is the base unit of infantry and cavalry in Sharp Practice. They have no real formation. Multiple Groups can join together to make a ‘Formation’. No surprisingly Formations have a formation, e.g. a line, column, square etc. Formations fight much better but being in set formations they are more difficult to manoeuvre around the battlefield. The terminology may be a little confusing but it all seems to work just fine. 😃
- whether it be a Group or a Formation nothing works terribly well without the fearless and occasionally knowledgeable and professional Leaders. Leaders of various rankings and effectiveness are crucial to the game.
- the aim of the game is for the Russians to capture a hopefully repaired religious relic carrying wagon and retrieve it to their lines. The French are to repair and extract the wagon off their baseline and speed it on its way to Paris. Neither side were allowed to ‘damage’ the religious relic carrying wagon. The Russians in no way wish to damage the precious and priceless cargo and the French need an operational wagon if it’s contents are to avoid the Russians and reach Paris.
Above: an over view of most of the table early in the game from behind the Russian lines. Click the image to see a larger and clearer view which amy help to make sense of the following.
Starting in the bottom left corner we can see four of the six groups of Russian/Allied cavalry. Only the last of these are actual Russian hussars though the Leader to be seen here is also Russian. The lead Group out on their own are playing as a Group. The last three are clumped together in a Formation. Two other groups of actual Russian hussars were at the far end of the Russian line out of sight and they were destined to have quite a day. The Russian cavalry operated under Dan’s – or should that be Danski’s – command.
Moving left along the Russian battle line we have six Groups of Russian jagers under the Command of The son & heir. One Group is a little tardy and has yet to cross the bridge. An attached officer of the Garde Cossacks is chiding them along to join their comrades on the firing line. The rest of them have made it to the edge of the wood and have begun to take French in St Pierre under fire. The gunpowder smoke … errr … cotton wool shows that the far Formation of three groups have fired but not yet reloaded. The large rectangular stand behind the furthest jagers represents the Russians high commander who
laboured was under The son & heirs control.
Further along the Russian line can be seen the beginnings of the six groups of Russian musketeers suffering under the well camouflaged military talents of von Peter himself.
The overall infantry plan was for the jagers to pin the French while the musketeers went for the far end of St Pierre or even a hook around behind it depending on that religious relic carrying wagon.
For the French we have light infantry in the fields on this side of St Pierre. They appear to have cheated and have brought along a single 6pdr cannon! Outrageous and against all the rules of the small wars. But what does one expect?! 😃
To their rear and partially obscured by the trees are four Groups of French dragoons. They were positioned centrally behind St Pierre but are reacting to the presence of the Russian cavalry on the Russian left.
St Pierre itself is garrisoned by perhaps five(?) Groups of French infantry in the various buildings facing the Russian threat. Two Groups occupy the buildings and courtyard on the nearest corner of St Pierre. A further two groups can be see lining the wall opposite the Russian Jagers and another Group lurks in the building to their rear.
In the middle of St Pierre The dear reader may be able to make out a white blob. This is a die sitting atop the religious relic carrying wagon representing the amount of repairs the French have affected.
Finally two Groups of French infantry have advanced out of St Pierre and lined the wall guarding the far flank of the town.
The father and son combination of Ray and Michael ran the French. It’s not really their fault. von Peter himself is fully aware that somebodies had to do it!! 😃
Above: The same early stage of the game from behind the French lines. The religious relic carrying wagon with its extra load of the repair counting die is much more visible here. For their first two religious relic carrying wagon repair rolls the French somehow managed to a roll ten … and then another ten! And these both under the close scrutiny of von Peter himself!! Highly suspect. You never know what shenanigans the French have pulled. 😃
Above: Oh dear but we appear to be still at the same point early on in the game. A closer up view of the almost complete Russian eager firing line. Still missing are the single Group of jagers on the other side of the bridge with the Garde Cossack officer – see the first picture. The large rectangular base just behind the jagers at the near end of the line is the Russian CinC under the control of The son & heir.
At the far end of the line is Father Disputin acting as one of the Russian commanders. Good luck keeping the fire breathing Father out of the battle. He’s come a long way to reclaim the relics and if their recovery requires the forwarding of assorted French souls to their maker then so be it.
Above: At last the game report moves on. Danski has moved the two Groups of Russian hussars on the Russian right down the flank and engaged in several melees. Prior to this image with the cunning use of four Command Cards Dan gained an extra move for his hussars and eradicated a Group of French infantry by pouncing on their flank. Almost as importantly the hussars also potted the French Leader – number two in the French military hierarchy. Huzzah!
The French managed to form a new line of infantry just in front of the lead Group of hussars in the image. Undaunted Dan drove a Group of his hussars onward and defeated these too. The remains of the French infantry can be seen further down the road cowering behind the religious relic carrying wagon. The hussars scored another French Leader by downing the top ranked French leader this time! And yes that is the religious relic carrying wagon just ahead of the hussars. HUZZAH!!
Sadly for the Russian heroes there was French infantry in the red tile roofed building just ahead and to the left. The vengeful French fire was to see the one – or was it two? – remaining hussars rushing to the rear to errr … reform their ranks! Huzzah.
Above: And some time passed. Despite ongoing alarms the French completed the repairs to the religious relic carrying wagon and started to move it away from the Russians and towards Paris. Seeing an opportunity and goading the attached Garde Cossack Leader with tales of daring do The son & heir managed to grab the religious relic carrying wagon with fast moving group of jager and their attached glory seeking Garde Cossack. The image shows the situation a little after the religious relic carrying wagon has changed hands. The Russians have turned the wagon around and desperately want it to move out of St Pierre. There are a lot of converging French around.
Above: A zoomed out view of the previous image showing the audaciousness of the Russian coup de main … and a tape measure. D’oh!
Several other points of interest for the dedicated follower of miniature military simulation. Moving along the top of the image left to right …
- the two lance armed Russian hussars by the card deck aren’t really there. They are ex-hussars waiting to go back into their storage container as their day is done.
- von Peter himself has managed to get his Russian musketeers sort of across the field, merged them into what he hopes is a scary looking Formation of four Groups and is looking to unleash them on some hopefully weakened Frenchmen somewhere. This is the blob coming in at an angle against St Pierre. If The dear reader is wondering whatever happened to the other two Groups of Russian musketeers they can just be made out at the far left of the image between the red tiled roof and the edge of the image. They are looking to open a second front against St. Pierre or make an opportunistic end run around St Pierre as circumstances present themselves.
- a Formation of jagers has advanced out of the woods. This was occasioned by the French getting the wagon moving and a sense of “Holy Mother Russia!” descending on the Russian command. There was a palpable sense that the plan needed to kick up a gear. It was from this Formation that the brave Garde Cossack Leader and his jagers made their dash for the religious relic carrying wagon.
- between the afore mentioned jagers Formation and St Pierre there can be seen a build up of smoke – alright some cotton wool! It represents the smoke resulting from “Firing Random Event”. Firing through this smoke was adjudicated with an additional minus one to hit.
- to the right of the advancing jager Formation and behind the trees can be made out some rapidly removing themselves to the rear Russian jagers. They had been jumped by some Frenchmen on the outskirts of St Pierre who managed to sneak up and attack the jagers in the flank. To their credit the jagers have not abandoned the unconscious Father Disputin but are carrying him rapidly to the rear. One can but feel only pity for those jagers should Father Disputin rouse himself to consciousness.
Above: The scene about the religious relic carrying wagon shortly after the prior image. The religious relic carrying wagon has just been re-appropriated by the French. The Russian jagers are muttering mutterings that are best left untranslated but not so much because they have just lost the religious relic carrying wagon but because just out of shot to the right are some French dragoons aimed down the road at them.
Above: A zoomed out image of the prior scene. The blob of Russian musketeers has managed to clear the outskirts of St Pierre of Frenchmen in a most thorough and prejudiced manner. von Peter himself was dreaming of his undoubted promotion and military decoration at this point!
The French dragoons can just be made out in the top right corner.
Above: And so we have reached the end of game photos. It is at this stage that the martial vigour of French began to fail as they surveyed the scene around St Pierre. And Monsieur Ray had another pressing social engagement to attend. Sure! 😃
Although they once again possess the religious relic carrying wagon the French have yet to turn it around … and they know that this is a time intensive activity. von Peter’s large Formation of musketeers have lined up both the religious relic carrying wagon and the escorting skirmishing Frenchmen while his second smaller Formation of musketeers – bottom’ish right – is poised to attack the Frenchmen in the red tiled roofed building to keep them out of the main action. The surviving Russian jagers partially hidden by the trees to the left of the image are ready to support the musketeers. Danski’s Russian hussars survey the scene down the road at the right edge of the image.
Above: End of game 2. The Garde Cossack Leader and his hardy Russian jagers breathed a sigh of relief as their card turned before that of the French dragoons and have dived into the thatched and slate tiled buildings next to the red tile roofed building. They hope to cause the French a little pain from here and feel much safer with those French dragoons loitering on the road. And there’s still that tape measure to admire. Double d’oh!
Above: The end position of the cavalry ballet on the outskirts of St Pierre. The perplexing military conundrum here was that the stream though innocuous looking was actually a significant obstacle with steep slippery banks. To cross it would take a complete turn which in turn would leave any cavalry at a disadvantage should the enemy cavalry manage to attack them immediately they had crossed the stream. But to ignore the opposing cavalry and move elsewhere would be to invite that opposing cavalry to cross the stream unopposed. Lovely tape measure! 🚫
All in all a successful days gaming played in a stress free laid back manner. Many thanks to my fellow gamers … even the French ones! 😃 And we learned Sharp Practice 2 a little more which is a definite bonus. Several passers by had nice things to say about the game so a big thank you to them as well. It was great talking to you all.
Many thanks to Ray for sorting the scenario when the rest of us didn’t. It may have been based on someone else’s scenario in which case thank you to them as well.
Don’t forget to click on the images for a larger and clearer view.
Until we meet again …
von Peter himself