Thursday, 30 December 2010

Fuentes de Oñoro Refight

The Christmas holidays have provided the opportunity to do the delayed refight of the battle of Fuentes de Oñoro.

The French began with attacks against Fuentes in order to hold the British centre while trying to sweep around the British right trying to catch the isolated 7th Division. Wellington was quick to realise the danger and ceasing the initiative he order the Light Division out in support.

The British had filled the gap in their lines before the French could get to grips but the ferocity of the French cavalry attack swept away the Portuguese Brigade of the 7th Division. If it was not for Sontag's Brigade valiantly resisting combined attacks by French infantry and cavalry the British line would have been turned.

Having failed to turn the British right and the attacks on Fuentes eating up the 2nd Corps, the French decided to try their final option and crossed the stream north of Fuentes in an attempt to take the high ground. The attack met with initial success forcing the British 6th and 5th Divisions to withdraw, but they regrouped and counter attacked before the advantage could be exploited.

Despite having inflicted severe damage along the British line the French exhausted and Wellington threw forward the Guards in order to see off the remaining French and forcing Massena to flee to prevent capture.

True to history the French fail to break the British line and relieve the fort of Almeida.

This is the third time I have refought Fuentes de Oñoro using Grande Armèe and each time the British have won. In this refight the French attempts to turn the British line south of Fuentes failed to force the British back to form the L-shape it did in 1811.

Grande Armèe's command system is excellent at representing the difficulty a General has in co-ordinating an attack across their lines. Giving Bessières a command rating of 5 means that as Massena you have to spend a lot of your time getting the attack on your left moving, limiting the chance of a simultaneous attack on the right. 

Monday, 13 December 2010

Carthage carry on

This week my Carthaginian's fought a Mid-Republican Roman army giving an insight into how Impetus will fair in recreating the Second Punic Wars.

The Carthaginians were on the attack and were able to pick ground placing a wooded area to dominate the centre. This forced the Romans to split their Legions, three to face the Carthaginian left and one Legion plus the cavalry to face the Carthaginian right.

The Carthaginians loaded all their cavalry on the right, positioned their infantry in the centre with their elephants protecting their left. The plan was to move the Spanish light infantry into the woods and prevent the two halves of the Romans army joining while the cavalry support by the Gauls took on the isolated Legion and Roman cavalry before arriving on the flank of the larger part of the Roman army.

As the Carthaginians began to implement their plan the three Roman Legions advanced as quickly as they could but soon became disordered, while the isolated Legion and cavalry tried to position themselves to prevent the Numidian cavalry turning their flank.

Progress was slow for both sides but eventually the Spanish infantry came out of the woods onto the flank of the Roman cavalry pelting them with javelins and throwing them into disorder just as the Gauls came charging into their front. At the same time the Numidian cavalry had got round the flank of the Legion and were starting to inflict serious damage. It was only a matter of time before the command was finished.
On their left the Carthaginians were forced to retreat as the three Legions slowly progressed towards them. The elephants were thrown forwards to try to slow the Roman advance but were taken down by a swarm of Velites. But the delay was sufficient to see the Romans on the right break.


The battle had now turned clockwise 90 degrees splitting the three remaining Legions across the wood. On the left the Romans tried desperately to get to grips with the Carthaginian heavy infantry but they were able to maintain sufficient distance while the Legion on the other side of the woods was surrounded by Numidian cavalry and overran by the Gauls. Putting the remaining Romans to flight.

Another Carthaginian victory.

This is the fourth time I have used the Carthaginians, and while I have yet to lose with them I am finding a trying army to use. Don't get be wrong, I love fielding them, but the battle plan to relies on waiting for the Numidian cavalry to turn the enemy flank which because they are light cavalry relying in javelins can take some effort.

Having all the cavalry on one flank has also caused some issues as the opposite flank is often left slightly exposed. I am considering adding another unit of Numidian Cavalry to balance it out but I'm not sure where to find the points.

Having a high value General is an unusual in comparison to the armies I normally face and I could save points here. However, I have found the ability to win the initiative with my infantry invaluable in being able avoid or engage the enemy at the time of my choosing.

Unfortunately the Romans did not try to change lines during the battle so i have gained no further insight into the workings of these rules. This was mainly due to the Romans deploying in either single or double line in order to remove this limitation. This is an issue for me as we know the standard historic formation from the sources and I remain convinced that the rules will need to be adapted.

Next week I take on an Imperial Roman army as part of the clubs campaign. It will be interesting to see how they try to adapt following the pervious annihilation.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Norman Painting Challenge

The planned refight of Fuentes de Oñoro has been delayed due to the recent weather and will hopefully be rearranged for the near future. On the plus side, this has given me time to think about doing a 28mm army for Impetus. Numbers permitting the Vapnartak tournament will go ahead on the 6th February and I need to get an army together by then.

It took me a while to decide on the force but I was finally swayed by Conquest Games new line of plastic Norman knights.

Collecting a Norman army has the advantaged that it is a new period for me and therefore changing scale to 28mm will not conflict with my existing armies in my preferred 15mm scale. The new plastic range for the knights will save me a bit of money at a time of year when I am supposed to be spending it on other people (tis the season after all). And, they should be relatively quick to paint as the majority of them wear mail.

The army needs to be 300pts and will consist of 5 units of knights, one being the Duke, 2 units of Pueri, 4 units of spearmen, 2 units each of crossbowmen and archers. All in all in 2 months I need to paint 109 figures, 29 being cavalry, that's nearly two a day. Here's hoping for a quiet Christmas.

All the cavalry will be Conquest's plastic range. I am not a big fan of multi part plastic kits as I am not much of a modeller and don't like spending time assembling figures. That been said, I started on the first box of knights two nights ago and they we by far the easiest set of plastics I have assembled in recent years.

For the infantry I went with Crusader Miniatures over Gripping Beast based primarily on price as the quality between the two seems on par. They are ordered and I hope they arrive before I finish painting the knights.

Another advantage of the army is its potential to roll over another force, I hope. The last tournament I played in I used an Early Imperial Roman army and though a great army it relies on the Legions to cut their way through the enemy which takes time and casualties. This meant that although victorious in two out of three battles I did not pick up that many points towards winning the tournament.

The large amount of heavy cavalry in the Norman army should provide a greater punch and potentially roll over the top of the opponents. It is a change from recent tactics with Carthaginians where heavy reliance is based on the Numidian light cavalry so may take some getting used to.

Anyway, this diversionary project will hopefully only slow and not stop progress on the main projects.