Monday, August 21, 2017

Action at the Schnellenbach Bridge

Drumpff gets his work detail going.

A quick recap on our story so far.

  • An allied British-German column has orders to blow the key bridge over the Schnellenbach.  A Hanoverian engineer and a group of  pontooniers have been beavering away but there is still work required to finish prepping the bridge.
  • Relations between the engineer Drumpff and the British CinC Campbell are very poor.  Drumpff's plan is to let part of the French column cross before blowing the bridge, but Campbell's having none of that.
  • Campbell's men have erected some barricades around the bridge.
  • The French have managed to get some light infantry across the river, but their main force will arrive on their own side of the river.
Terrain wise, we have the Schnellenbach running across the table and uncrossable on table except at the bridge.  There is a stone Inn, some walls and a few houses at the bridge, all on the eastern (allied) bank of the river.  The allied right flank is quite wooded on their side of the river.  There is a long low ridge on the western (french) board edge and a small hill on the allied left flank.  East of the river are a small farm and a patch of rough ground which lies along the river bank.

I gave each side two fixed deployment points following normal SP rules - both chose an exploring officer as supports hence the second DP.  The French could place one anywhere on their own board edge and the second along their left hand board edge on the far side of the river.   Only their two groups of light infantry plus an officer could use the second DP.  The Allies put one DP in the village by the bridge and the second halfway between the village and the woods on their right.

When you use the DP, no units appear on table until they get the right chit drawn enabling them to deploy.  Curt was originally against using the DPs and wanted just to deploy his units where he wanted to from the start.  I figured it fit the scenario well with the French possibly spread out from their approach marches and the allies needing time to form up.  Plus he's a bit of a control freak so I figured it does him good to get out of his hermetically sealed comfort zone from time to time.  As GM I quite liked the effect of using the DPs, and the fall of the chits seemed to favour the allies.

 Figures are mine as are the buildings and bridge.  All other terrain is Curt's.  Photos are also mine, and I managed to not get a single shot of the main French force.
An overhead view of the bridge.

Keith's Highlanders man their barricades.  Behind the line are Campbell, his drummer and the physic Dr. Schubert.  One group of infantry are Royal Scots masquerading as highlanders - Curt insisted on a fourth group of them but I only have three.

Fischer's chasseurs appear in the woods on the right flank and the wrong side of the river, from the Allied perspective.

A mad padre rouses the local women to take up arms over the deprivations of Drumpff.

Phillips tried a charge with one squadron of his Light Dragoons against the Chassuers.  They were repulsed quite handily.    Micro dice track shock and the round marker indicates the Allied DP on their right.  This was unfortunately the highlight of the day for the French.
A badly lit photo of the Allied line to the right of the bridge.  Highlanders, a Hessian gun crew and two groups of Jaegers.  Jaeger fire was very effective, especially against the French leaders.

A view from the French position.  Note the Inn keeper and staff taking shelter behind the Jaegers.

The French deploy a group of Voluntaries de L'Armee in the woods.  Note the strategic chip bowl in the background.  Having failed with the sword, Phillipson resorts to skirmishing with mounted carbine fire with much better results.  I don't what to think about the impact on British cavalry doctrine.

The denouement of the action.  Work complete, the work crew and Drumpff scurry over the barricades.  Drumpff is shot by Campbell but only wounded.  He therefore takes out his claymore to finish the job while everyone else turns their back so as to not see what happens.  

This leaves us with the main French force - five line infantry groups, a gun and a group of Hussards.  I have a grand total of no shots of their fate, an epic fail.  I suspect that this is due to their line infantry being made up of my old Rafm figures painted 15 years ago for Louisbourg and I wanted to focus on the newer troops painted last winter in the Painting Challenge.  I'll get some new French line infantry and work on these for the next challenge so that there are shiny toys on both sides.

And what became of the French assault on the bridge?

  • The formation of line troops came on pretty earlier and advanced on the Allies.   The gun crew and Hussards followed in good order, but then the play of the chits ran against the French.
  • I did Stacy a number of disservices rules wise, and should have caught a problem with his deployment of the line troops.  These came on three groups wide and two groups deep.  Historically they should have come on in a line, which would have also put more muskets in the firing line.
  • Good firing from the Jaegers and Hessian gun racked up shock on the groups and Stacy had a hard time removing it.  A large part of the problem came from accurate Jaeger fire who wounded two of the three leaders with the group, putting them out of action for a turn and then dropping his total command points from five to three.  
  • Stacy returned fire with both the line and the gun crew and got some results, but the skirmish formation and walls made it an unequal battle.  The French gun did manage to force their opposite number to retire - we may need to review the effectiveness of counter battery fire.
  • We realized afterwards that Stacy misread the impact of shock on movement, and he thought that the amount of shock on the formation prevented forward movement.  At worst he would have been down 2" off a d6 or 2d6 roll, which meant he could have moved forward.
  • I completely forgot to remind Stacy that he had a holyman who could remove up to a d6 shock once per game.  My bad!
By the time that Drumpff (finally) had the bridge set to blow, the French force morale had been whittled down considerably largely due to seeing several leaders get wounded.  He retired and with Drumpff out of the way, Campbell lit the fuse to blow the bridge.


  1. It was a fun game and a good campaign. Thanks for running it Peter. Design-wise it may have been interesting to have a series of 'story/ladder' engagements leading up to the main action - similar to the Lardy's CoC campaign books. As it was, the prize was the main bridge and that became the entire focus of the players. Nonetheless, the lead-in was still lots of fun and added flavour to the experience.

    I like the use of DPs in CoC, but I'm still not sold on them for Horse and Musket - it just feels odd to potentially have entire mass formations appear in the midst of the tabletop, but that's just me. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for playing Curt. I had much the same thought about a ladder campaign, which would require less paperwork and build some friction between sides along the way. I've been reading the CoC pint sized campaigns and like what I see.

    2. I forgot to comment on the DPs. I can see what you mean but think it worked well for this game, and for a lot of meeting engagement games. I don't think I'd use them for set piece attack defend games.

  2. Nice story telling, neautiful pictures, wonderful table...epic!

  3. Splendid action and it looked great to Peter - bravo Sir.

  4. Thanks very much Dave. There were several units painted last challenge and seeing action for the first time. Nothing near your latest AAR but it was good to get them on table.

  5. Rousing stuff! Enjoyed reading the lead in but the battle turned out to be a little rough on the French. We played a series of three games using the TFL blog entries from their Dawns and Departures campaign for scenarios.

    You mention that you are considering adding new French line infantry to your collection. If you don't mind me asking, what manufacturer do you have in mind for these figures?

    1. Thanks William. I think Curt hit the nail on the head and I'll go with a ladder format next time through.

      As for figures for the French, I'm considering Tara Crann, Dixon, Front Rank and Minden.