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


Friday 12 June 2020

Vimeiro (1808) - the Zoom Game

Today was the day for our "distanced" wargame, the set-up for which was described in yesterday's post. Sadly, Goya was forced to call off as a result of some urgent family commitments, so Stryker and I resolved to try the game as a twosome. Thus, in the space of about an hour, my role changed from being host/umpire/Schlachtmeister to being Lt. General the Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wellesley.

The 2/86eme Ligne regain their composure after rushing into the woods near Ventosa and destroying my Rifles - one of a number of very heavy early blows!
I am delighted to say that the two-handed game worked without any problems at all - which is largely due to the good humour of my opponent, who is one of Nature's true gentlemen - so that was a major bonus for the day. The battle was a lot of fun - a challenging scenario (we used the C&CN one, straight out of the book) and there was never any evidence of our getting bogged down in the rather fussy terrain. All good.

The good news stops abruptly when I have to admit that the Allies lost, which will make the Convention of Cintra rather more complicated, but I had a great time, my new BlueTooth headset worked perfectly and once again I was privileged to be present at the overturning of History as We Know It.

The C&CN scenario offers an entertaining game, but its standing as a historical simulation (not that it matters) is worthy of some consideration. The scenario starts at the point where Junot has already screwed up rather badly, sending too few troops to outflank Wellesley's left, and the publishers have tried to balance the game by adding some extra French troops, including a cavalry presence on their right which doesn't seem to have been there in reality. Never mind - we do not care, it is a good game anyway, but it would be a poor show if we did not take the opportunity to demonstrate our half-assed grasp of the history.

Junot did what I think I would have done in his place - he pretty much ignored the main objective of the hill and town of Vimeiro (for which bonus Victory Points were available), and concentrated his efforts on eliminating enough units on the Allied left (6 VP needed for the win) without assaulting the very strong position at Vimeiro. Thus most of our action took place around the farm and hamlet of Ventosa.

The early stages of the action were notable for some remarkable combat-dice rolling by the French (about which I can hardly complain, since I did all the dice rolling, moving of troops, allocating markers and cursing for both sides). An early rush to gain possession of Ventosa was won rather easily by the French, and the Allies lost two units very quickly. 2-nil. Hmmm. Then, not long after, my skillful manoeuvre to bring my Rifles battalion through the woods, to fire on the flank of Solignac's troops on the French right, ended in tears when a single battalion of ligne charged into the woods and wiped out the Rifles with one astonishing dice roll. 3-nil.

Thereafter things began to settle down a little, and the Allies began to claw their way back into the fight - I got to 3-1, then it was 4-2, and Solignac's force were working very hard to take battered units from the front line and replace them with fresh ones. Then it was 5-3, and the game ended almost on an anti-climax when a rare moment of counter-battery fire eliminated my field battery near Ventosa, and the French had won 6-3. This may sound like a tanking, but Junot had a few units who were reduced to a very poor state at the end, so I am not too downhearted.

The pictures should give an idea of the proceedings. [I must add, in passing, that adding photos to this post has been a real grunt, since I am offered something halfway between the new and old versions of Blogger, which really doesn't work at all well. It's clunky, man.]

View from behind the Allied left flank, right at the start of the action, as we fail to capture Ventosa, and my infantry start to take a hammering.

The French left flank, opposite Vimeiro - the newly-painted 70eme Ligne are in evidence, with General St Clair keeping an eye on them

Looking along the French line, from the left, you can see where the action all took place, over beyond the trees and the rocky hills.

The fight continues at Ventosa - the British infantry (now less a couple of battalions) have withdrawn to rally a little, and a continuous firefight is underway.

Meanwhile, on the ridge in front of Vimeiro, Fane's troops wait for the French to attack. They may still be waiting.

Again, a more extensive view of not much happening.


At Ventosa, it's all happening - Solignac has even brought up some cavalry (coincidentally, this is the same 15eme Chasseurs à Cheval that had a starring role at Coa the other week, and which have drawn attention to themselves numerous times over the last few years).

But, apart from pulling his infantry back behind the ridge at Vimeiro, Fane has had very little to do. He had a field battery which spent the afternoon taking long shots across the valley and missing.


Ventosa again.

Troops are coming through the woods from the centre of the field, and things are really not going brilliantly for the Allies at this point. Note that we've adopted white loss counters for the Zoom games, since they show up better on the cameras than red ones.

The French don't have much in the way of elite troops, but here they are - General Kellerman with a battalion of combined grenadiers, about to set off through the woods.

On the extreme Allied right, Rowland Hill brings forward his brigade, across the fordable River Maceiro.

Kellerman's grenadiers about to march into the woods - some more celebrities in this photo - the 1/26eme (Freitag battalion) are up front, the 2/26eme (Gonsalvo battalion) on the left.


At Ventosa, the Allies are running out of troops - the nearest I got to a moment of success in this game was just before this photo, when the French grenadiers were decimated by fire from two humble Portuguese battalions - General Kellerman survived, but has dropped back to join another regiment (in the wood).

Understated ending - this French battery eliminates my British battery, and that's the 6th Victory Point for the win.

General view at this time shows that Fane's people are still having a fairly untroubled time at Vimeiro.

And Junot brought up his left wing cavalry, just to have a look at the enemy.

Now, this is interesting - at the end, you can see that Junot's right flank includes some very battered units (four counters means they are eliminated) - three units with three losses in the picture, and a couple with two. This is evidence of the intelligence with which Stryker conducted his attack - one of the skills of Commands and Colors is bringing up fresh units to relieve battered ones, and there's clearly been plenty of that!

[Final gripe about New Blogger - it took 57 minutes (I timed it, since I had nothing else to do) to upload these 21 small photos into this post using New Blogger. I assume this is going to improve - if it doesn't, I don't propose to do very much more blogging!]

30 comments:

  1. G'Day Tony, I'm glad you had an interested game, it looks great. I hear what you're saying about blogger. I just loaded a picture heavy report on my blog (Delta Coy) and it took ages. I though it was my internet connection! Now I know. Cheers Greg

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    1. Hi Greg - yeah, the game was fine. The New Blogger (NB) experience was bizarre. I couldn't believe it could possibly be so slow (for a while, when I tried to add pictures, I was offered the Old Blogger window, which just became introverted forever and didn't reply - never offered me the chance to specify directories or anything). I had a look online, and found endless complaints and improvised advice on how to get round this, a lot of it very recent, and one suggestion was to switch back to the Old Blogger (OB - which you can still do) - I tried that, and that didn't work properly. Eventually, in NB, for some reason, I was suddenly offered a dialogue screen I hadn't seen before, and I was then allowed to specify pictures for uploading, which was a step forward. At first I did just one, which took far longer than I would have expected, but it worked. So then I uploaded 21 photos (all reduced a lot in size from original), which got me into the 57 minutes spent watching a picture of a cloud (just a minute - a bloody cloud...?) and a horizontal blue line which very slowly, and very unsteadily, travelled across the screen while something mystical happened - very wobbly, and with occasion jumps backward. It did eventually finish, and then it took another few minutes to actually insert the pics into the blog post, during which I started wondering whether I would be prepared to try again. Editing the pics and adding captions is probably more flexible than the OB one (if you live long enough to get that far), and uses a big, clunky, one-step-at-a-time User Interface which takes more time and more button clicking than I am used to. There are some other choices - in addition to the Upload option, there are also a couple of others, one being "Photos", for example, so maybe I just failed the Intuitive User Test.

      This is bound to improve, so I'm not going to throw any toys about, but there are a few things I don't like much - picture captions don't look as good as in OB, I think. However, once (if) it starts working, NB doesn't give up on about 20% of the image uploads, which had become the norm in OB. I guess it will be fine any day now, but I regret that I am an Old School computing man, and the idea of making a beta-test product generally available, in the hope that people will be queuing up to try it out and find the bugs for you, does not sit well with me at all. My life has a few challenges anyway - I'm not afraid of technology change, I hope, but it would suit me if it was introduced professionally, politely and in a user-considerate way.

      Whatever, just this morning I am not rushing to post anything with pictures in, and I am reluctant to spend any significant amount of time reading up on work-arounds.

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  2. The comments about the new version of blogger are not filling me with glee, unlike this excellent battle report. I have a couple of short posts to upload this week end so we shall see how it goes (or by the sound of it, doesn't go!)

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    1. The world is full of people moaning, and I hate to contribute to this, but I certainly was disappointed yesterday with the Blogger experience - I've got used to the ways and foibles of the UI, and the new version looks pretty immature to me, thus far.

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  3. Great report Sir. Glad to see you're gaming with Zoom too!

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    1. Hi Ray - yes, I am now Zoom Man. I clear buildings with a single leap, etc.

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  4. Great looking game. I was surprised to hear thst you rolled all the dice. We usually roll our own and just report the results (or point the remote camera at them if they are noteworthy )

    Sorry to hear about the issues with new degraded blogger, Took me an unconscionable time to learn how it worked but once I did it works fine. I have`t tried uploading a large bunch of pictures though.

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    1. Hi Ross. Yes - we could do that with the dice rolling, but the previous game we did I was the umpire and did all the handling and running-about, so since that worked OK we did it again. Our games are less face-to-face than yours, I guess - the remote player(s) sit and look at a switchable choice of two table views (or they may stand up, if they wish, I guess), and I just run about with the headphones on and do the game handling. I can lift down either of the cameras for close-ups, but in fact didn't need to do that yesterday.

      I was concerned that there was an imbalance of my opponent couldn't see well enough to make decisions, while I could see everything, but a little extra time and consideration looks after that. I think the choice of opponents is probably important - this feels like such an odd thing to say, and I haven't thought about such things for years, but an ultra-competitive player in this environment would be awkward - the normally accepted levels of trust and etiquette become an absolute foundation of the thing working at all. The umpire/host-plus-remote-players still seems like the easiest and most snag-free context, but I am very pleased to see that one-vs-one Zoom games work very nicely (which, of course, everyone else knew already).

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  5. Sounds like Stryker played a blinder assessing which was the best way to rack up the VPs and rotate his units.

    Not looking forward to the new Blogger if it’s that difficult. I’ve been holding off on the switch over, so I might just hold out a bit longer and see if they resolve whatever the glitch is.

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    1. Don't wish to put anyone off New Blogger, but I need to be a lot more confident in it working - I may, of course, be doing it wrong - there's a lengthy whinge about it in my reply to the first comment here.

      Stryker did indeed play a blinder. It's a funny scenario - I haven't looked at the official user breakdown of results on the CCN site, but I'm sure we could have played the game again and got a different result. It didn't look very promising for the French, on paper, but reinforcing their right by sneaking fresh units through the woods worked well.

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  6. Yesterday I suddenly realised (after only 8 years or so) that I could carry a supply of C&C combat dice in the pocket of my fleece jacket, which speeds things up, cuts down on shoe leather and helps keep the table tidy. If we'd played for long enough I might have also discovered that I could keep loss counters in my other pocket. If I'd had a third pocket (which I don't) I might have put the Order Chips in it, but in fact that might be a dodgy move, since it requires a conscious effort at the moment to ensure that used Chips go back in the Game Pool dish, rather than back in the players' own Ramekin pots (which, of course, mucks up the game).

    Pockets. Good. My devotion to keeping the table tidy has always included the ritual of putting things back in a nice tidy container/location off the end of the battlefield, which is quite enjoyable from am an OCD point of view but definitely can waste time (though, of course, I don't waste time looking for things I've lost).

    Pockets, though. That's revolutionary.

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  7. Great photos and write up Tony, that must have equated to a good work out, back and forth around the table while Ian sat and relaxed! You just need one of those carpenters belts now for the extra pocket capacity.I really must give Ramekin a go once my new printed mat arrives.

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    1. Thanks Lee - only downside of my fleece jacket (apart from the heat) is that it tends to drag things off the table if I leave it unzipped. Too many pockets would result in my not being able to find things, so this needs a fine balance.

      Can't remember if I sent you the notes on Ramekin - I'll email you.

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  8. Great stuff.
    I am worried now though. Obviously I didn't understand the technical jargon (words like Blog) but I really hope the problems with this interweb panjandrum aren't going to see you disappear from the screen. Is it that bad?

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    1. It certainly isn't good at the moment, though if we sacrifice a young pig it may get better. I don't expect to do any more posts with lots of pictures until it is much better, since it takes forever as it is.

      [This was a recorded message, however, since he was already gone.]

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  9. To make it proper old school you need a smoking jacket with pockets!

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    1. Excellent suggestion! I'll see if I can get someone to give me one as a present for the feast of St Sophronius of Vratsa. Чудесна идея!

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    2. I fancy one of those exotic embroidered skull-caps with a tassel on, to go with it - anything to conceal the current Albert Einstein lockdown coiffure.

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  10. Excellent battle account, Tony! Great to see battalions Freitag and Gonsalvo in the fight. Your table always is very photogenic. Having fought Vimeiro many times with several rulesets, I have NEVER seen a French victory. Of course, I have not tried it with CCN.

    As for your blogger issues, photos seems to load at about the same rate as before. The only difference I notice is that all photos must completely load before any photos are visible in the file load routine. Before, I could monitor each photo's upload status. No help for your situation...

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    1. Thank you, Jon - I feel my achievement of recording the first known Allied defeat should be commemorated with a beer or two! It was an unusual game yesterday, I had a couple of disasters right at the start, and it was a pretty even slugging match thereafter. Get your bad breaks in early, as my grandma used to say!

      New Blogger seems to be behaving rather better today, I set up a test post, which worked OK - yesterday's problem seemed to be that I kept getting switched back into Old Blogger while editing my draft, which is the point at which the picture upload would just hang. Hanging pictures isn't my thing, really.

      Today I can get it to work reasonably well - most successful approach has been to create a new draft post, save it, then exit, then open Blogger again, make absoltely sure I'm running the new version, and edit the draft. Problems seem to have been when I just went straight in from the New Post option on the main screen - not all the editing facilities seem to work going in that way.

      A little progress every day. I think my grandma may have said that as well - you don't think I'm turning into Grandma, do you?

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    2. My what big dice you have Grandma

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  11. A splendid looking and sounding game Tony...
    Yes get the tasseled cap...😁

    All the best. Aly

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  12. Splendid looking game and battle report - blue tooth head set - a real trend setter for future gaming face to face gaming could soon be a thing of the past!
    Interesting to see the game played straight from the C&C scenario rather than the actual battle but sometimes their ‘balanced’ scenarios are interesting what ifs to play through.
    Your comments re suitable opponents brought a wry smile to my face, my old regular opponent Lee always used to say that before we invited anyone round to join our games they had to pass his test. If they couldn’t take a joke, took winning too seriously and Played the rules too hard then they wouldn’t be invited. The right opponent even makes receiving a good drubbing a pleasurable experience 🤣

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    1. Hi Graham - yeah! - Bluetooth headset quite an advance for these games - no cables to cause damage, and I don't have to shout while playing, which is a popular step. I'll also be able to use it when listening to the footie on my tablet (as and when), so as not to disturb my wife, and for listening to jazz records when I'm working, for the same reason. In fact, if she's lucky I may use the headset for speaking to her, if occasion arises. Anything is possible.

      Obviously, I hope that we can go back to visiting each other's houses for wargames before long, but the videoconference option, if it works (and it does place some restrictions on the types of games), gives an invaluable alternative for people who live far away.

      A good drubbing - quite so - very pleasurable.

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  13. Hi Tony,

    Such a splendid looking game and all of the Les Higgins miniatures - oh my! I have only played CnCN once and enjoyed the game, but of course you have taken it to a spectacular level! I hope to do Vimiero with Ian's Muskets and Marshals rules as it is the logical next step after Rolica, but so far yet to go before that can happen!

    Best,

    David (Miniature Minions)

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    1. David - thank you! Delighted to hear from you - I get a lot of pleasure from your blog - splendid stuff!

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