Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Sorauren (French Left) - the Game

 Today Stryker and I played the game which I set up on Tuesday - as mentioned, this is a scenario lifted straight from the Commands & Colors user site. It gave us, not surprisingly, a close game. I was Marshal Soult, and Stryker played the role of Wellington, and we used Zoom. 

The game features no cavalry at all, and not much artillery, and the French, who have a decent advantage in numbers, have to set about a defending Allied army on a couple of ridges - seem at all familiar? There is a central (8-hex) hill in the centre of the table - occupying more of this hill than the enemy gets 1 extra Victory Point for the Allies, but it's worth 2 to the French. We agreed that 8 VPs for the win would give the French, with their greater numbers, a fair chance to wear the Allies down.

My troops started well - my intention was to have Maucune's Divn make a demonstration attack against the ridge on the Allied left (which did not offer bonus VPs), and push home a decisive offensive against the main hill in the centre, which was occupied initially by Spanish troops.

We used my Ramekin version of C&CN, which does away with the Command Cards (which makes the game possible to play via Zoom), and used the "strategic movement" add-on, whereby any unit which does not come within musket range of the enemy (2 hexes) during a turn may add 1 hex to its move - just the thing to allow those reserves to nip up to the front...

The French (on our right here) get their attacks under way - the one at the far end was supposed to be a demonstration, to keep the Allied left pinned there. To help with identification on a Zoom screen, we've used some large coloured counters - yellow for light infantry, red for Spanish troops. As usual, we are using white loss counters, since they show up well on Zoom.

The 24th Foot are installed in the only village, which was also worth a potential bonus VP to the French. They had a very quiet day, apart from some chaps firing cannons just next door.

The French attack on the central hill didn't go smoothly at all - in fact the feint on the right looked far more promising at this stage, which encouraged Soult to change his mind about the priorities, though he would probably have done better to concentrate his orders on bringing up reserves for the main attack.

This is the intended demonstration on the French right - the British 58th Foot are taking heavy losses from the French fire. Maucune fancies his chance here - he led a charmed life - while those around him fell in heaps, he escaped unharmed, though his laundry bill may have been substantial.
The main attack is getting bogged down - Soult really needs Reille and Lamartinière to bring those fresh units up from behind the stream.
A general view at this stage, from the French right. In the foreground, the British 58th Foot have gone, and the 79th are suffering as well. Maucune is incoherent with excitement.
Still not much success in the centre for the French - at this point the Allies have 5 units on the main hill, the French none at all, though they are working on it.

Soult's main problem - behind the stream, he has 5 completely fresh battalions - more than enough to win the battle if he could just get them up to the front [they were still there, still fresh, at the end...]
The French finally have a foothold on the main hill!
Now there is a glimpse of what might be - for the first time in the day, the French achieved parity on the main hill - 3 units each, so the Allies lost the VP which they had held throughout for controlling it. 
In the distance, the Great Scoreboard of History tells us (blurredly) that the score is 6 each - 8 needed for the win. Soult and his staff plan to get some reserves up, and finish off a classic victory.
No need to get excited - the British 88th Foot now routed the 1/50eme Ligne, which event also restored the Allied control of the hill, so the bonus VP came back into play. The French had eliminated 6 Allied units, the Allies had eliminated 7 French, and also got the extra point for the hill. Allied victory - 8-6. Soult was disappointed, of course, and will start work on his report...

I really enjoyed the game very much. My thanks, as ever, to Stryker for his uplifting enthusiasm and good humour, and my compliments on his very skilled defence. Next time, d'Hubert...

[Footnote: this game was not without some tension, as you will appreciate - at the end of each turn, Stryker would kindly remind me to take photos. After one such photo-shoot, I noticed that I had left my camera on the battlefield, and just for a moment I was concerned that it might have got into the last batch of pictures - only for a moment, mind, and there was a war on at the time.] 


***** Late Edit *****

Soult duly submitted his report to the Minister of War, and claimed all manner of misfortunes, not the least being the insubordinate and clueless behaviour of Reille and Maucune. By the time it reached the Emperor, who was in Saxony, and who was beginning to appreciate that the Sixth Coalition had worked out how to defeat him, it definitely did not improve his mood. In fact he was so upset that he had to get his surgeons to give him a rub-down with tripe and vinegar (traditional Corsican remedy for apoplexy).

In truth, Soult could have won our Sorauren game - there were a few occasions when he could reasonably have expected to win. The last few photos do show that his reserves were advancing at the end, but it was too late by this stage. At the point where the numbers of units on the central hill became equal, he only needed to march one more unit onto the hill to win the day - one more turn would have done it - two at the most.

The fundamental issue for C&CN - including its Ramekin cousin - is that the number of available orders is small each turn - it is variable, but it is always small, so that the commanders are encouraged to focus on real priorities. The turns are short, but they come round quickly. Soult used precious orders to attack the Allied left - his supposed diversionary attack; the problem was that it was fairly successful, and he felt obliged to continue to push, though in fact he could have held the diversion back, out of musket range, and still kept the enemy left pinned. With those extra few orders each turn, he could have brought his reserve up more quickly. Yes - quite so.

Even at the stage when the VP score was 5-all, 6-5, whatever, Soult's superiority in the centre was proportionally greater than it had been at the start, and he could actually have stopped the first attack, replaced the worn units with fresh ones, and started again - he should still have won. He was tantalised by the fact that his first attack seemed to be on the edge of success - for a long time - and frittered his orders away in trying to maintain some imagined momentum. Idiot.



Hooptedoodle #392 - An Old Friend, Welcome Back

 We had some new turf laid a couple of weeks ago, and it's been very dry weather since then. Though I've put the sprinklers on a couple of times, the new turf is definitely looking a bit rough.

Since the gardener is due to visit today, and since I am nervous about receiving a telling-off for not looking after the turf, I had the sprinklers going full blast on Tuesday until late. At around 11pm I put on the outside lights and went out to shut off the water. I was walking down the path when I realised that a hedgehog was walking alongside me - not bothered at all. I watched him saunter off into the hedge - I was really glad to see him. He may, of course, have been a her.

Not my photo - someone else's hedgehog, in daylight

I knew they were around - I've seen their droppings on the lawn recently. We used to get lots of them - I'm talking of nearly twenty years ago - you could hear them snuffling about in the garden at night, and in the woods at the back of our house. The hedgehogs used to suffer a few casualties - they sometimes used to get caught in the traps the farm ghillie set for rats, and one or two managed to get trapped in the lobster pots which were stacked opposite our house - one of the more complicated forms of suicide. Then they were gone. I suppose there were some around - we never saw any sign  of them. And now, after an extended absence, they are back.

Well, at least one is back. The photo is not mine, of course, it was dark last night and I had nothing with me to take a photo, but I'll try to keep an eye open from now on.

I'm pleased with that - over the years we've lost our Greenfinches and a few other friends, but the hedgehogs are back. Well, well.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Wargame on Thursday - Sorauren

 On Thursday, Stryker and I will play a Zoom-based Napoleonic game. This one is a scenario snappily entitled "Sorauren (French Left)", which neither of us has played before, and is taken straight from the scenarios. It looks like a slugfest, and I noticed after it had been chosen that there is no cavalry on either side, so Stryker and I are going to be wondering how to spend the first 15 minutes of the game, if there are no cavalry units to throw away.

I spent this evening setting up the field, while listening to a football match which I shall not mention again. There is something quite liberating about using someone else's scenario; whatever happens, it will not be my fault. I think these things probably do matter. It is different from my usual scenarios, since the field is quite bare and there are far fewer units than I'm used to. I may learn something here.

Initial view from behind the Allied left flank

And from the Allied right

From behind the French left. There are bonus Victory Points for possession of the ridge just above the centre of the picture (with Spaniards on it). The French had better get cracking...

On the scenery front, I am delighted to announce that I've finally found Wellington's Tree (yes, it was in the wrong box), so it will be appearing, as is required by the terms and conditions of my franchise, and I was also delighted to find the missing top for one of my Iron Age Merit fir trees, this time in a box which has nothing to do with scenery at all. I have superglued the tree-top into place. 


 More on Thursday - rural broadband permitting, we have a 10:00 start.

Friday, 2 April 2021

WSS: And Still They Come...

 Really on a hot streak now. Having been pleased with the three British battalions I finished off last week, here comes a unit painted by Count F Goya, which puts everything back into perspective. These chaps are Archibald Rowe's Regt, or the [Royal] Scottish Fusiliers by any other name.

Again, figures are all Les Higgins/PMD 20mm (1/76), apart from the colonel, who is an Irregular chap (?) on a Higgins horse (that's how we do things around here).

Thanks again, Goya, the boys are raring to go.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Hooptedoodle #391 - LaptrinhX - an unfortunate oddity or a symptom of something?

 I'm not at all sensitive about privatising my blog, or making it somehow kind of exclusive. It's not that big a deal - if someone reads it and likes it then, good; if they don't like it then they can move on and do something else. If they protest in a comment, then I can please myself whether I publish the comment, and it's all just part of the blog world.

Like many others, I get a bit fed up with the constant lifting of bits of my labours into TMP, but since the combined attention span of TMP is minimal it doesn't matter much, and occasionally someone who comes across my blog through that channel does what I would think of as the normal thing to do, and makes human, friendly contact. [In fact, of late, the borrowed bits of this blog on TMP which appear under the "authorship" of Tango01 have also carried a house official legend identifying the original source - could it be that TMP's views on decency and intellectual property are somehow evolving? Who knows? Who cares, actually?]

Occasionally I find that chunks of my blog are on Pinterest - I am unmoved. On one occasion I was surprised to find that I could purchase a mug or a poster from some on-line pirate, bearing a photo which was actually mine, and was pinched from here. Again - so what?

And then there is LaptrinhX. 

If you visit their site,, you may find, if you search for your Blogger ID, that you are one of their featured contributors. I was very impressed to find that some 800-odd posts from Prometheus in Aspic - credited to MSFoy - have simply been stolen, intact. They are reformatted, though not changed otherwise; the comments are dropped, but there they are. This is, supposedly, a news and job-advertising online journal for software developers, and they feature paid adverts which, presumably, generate revenue per hit.

I'm not awfully upset about this, to be honest, my material is in the public domain, and I realise that the pinching is done by a robot somewhere, so I am neither flattered nor personally very offended, but - for better or worse - this blog is all me own werk, Miss, and if someone generates advertising revenue for themselves and their poxy website by using my original thought and images, without any pretence of a by-your-leave, then I find that less than amusing. Thus I felt it was only appropriate to name them in this blog post, and see if it, too, is lifted intact.

Naturally, I wish to offend no-one, but thought it would be appropriate if I were to mention here that, in my opinion, LaptrinhX, their owners, advertisers, bots and readership are all a bunch of sad little wankers; please publish this. I hope they enjoy reading about themselves here today. Consider it an experimental work-out for their editing software.

Monday, 29 March 2021

WSS: More British Foot Completed

 After a day's delay, occasioned by my deciding I really had to produce my own version of the flag for North & Grey's Regiment, the three new units are now ready for war. This is all Blenheim period...

On what looks rather like Joe Morschauser's breakfast table, here is the regiment of Baron North & Grey (surely one of the sillier titles?), also known as the Earl of Bath's Regt. I refuse to discuss these chaps in terms of regimental numbers which weren't thought of for another 50 years (although it seems everyone does...). The flags were quite a lot of work, but worth it.

This is the Duke of Marlborough's Regt (aka Edward Dering's)

And this is Scrope Howe's Regt (aka Sir Wm Clifton's). Scrope Howe not one of the great names, either, really

Since it seemed a pity to miss out on the opportunity, I fetched Ferguson's Regt out of the Really Useful Boxes, and lined up a group photo of what could be my first British brigade - if they only had a general...

It's OK - all in the pipeline. I'm waiting for cavalry figures and guns to arrive in the mail, and I have the next couple of battalions ready to go on the bottletops. Coming along nicely.

***** Late Edit *****

I've been using flags from Warflag and the War Office for my WSS armies, though I had to put in some original effort for my Imperial troops. For the French, my intention is to use Warflag, and I'll maybe dust off my blog note on texturing using Photoshop. There are also some lovely flags on the Not By Appointment blog, of course, (though they tend to be more towards the SYW) and I always keep an eye on Ray's smashing work on Don't Throw a 1 (though his are usually a bit earlier than the WSS).

Since I couldn't find flags for North & Grey's regiment with high enough resolution in a decent size, I had a go myself. If you're not offended by the stock clip-art "Sun in His Splendour", I thought they might be useful for anyone else who, like me, couldn't get hold of the appropriate Robert Hall sheet(!).

I might texture them, in fact, if I get into texturing the French ones, but for the moment I'm pleased enough with this - at 20mm scale, the textured flags sometimes look as though someone dropped them in the dirt!


Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Hooptedoodle #390 - March Morning Unlike Others


I'm delighted to see that the farming company have been busy smartening up the lane in from the Real World - new turf and daffodils on both verges, and they've fixed all the fences. This section is about 1/3 of a mile of road, and they've done both sides - just the thing to keep you busy on a Sunday afternoon.

Lovely Spring day here, so I am pleased to trot out one of my favourite Ted Hughes poems, which seemed apposite.


March Morning Unlike Others  [Ted Hughes - Season Songs (1975)]

Blue haze. Bees hanging in the air at the hive-mouth.
Crawling in prone stupor of sun
On the hive-lip. Snowdrops. Two buzzards,
Still-wings, each
Magnetized to the other,
Float orbits.
Cattle standing warm. Lit, happy stillness.
A raven, under the hill,
Coughing among bare oaks.
Aircraft, elated, splitting blue.
Leisure to stand. The knee-deep mud at the trough
Stiffening. Lambs freed to be foolish.

The earth invalid, dropsied, bruised, wheeled
Out into the sun,
After the frightful operation.
She lies back, wounds undressed to the sun,
To be healed,
Sheltered from the sneapy chill creeping North wind,
Leans back, eyes closed, exhausted, smiling
Into the sun. Perhaps dozing a little.
While we sit, and smile, and wait, and know
She is not going to die.