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


Saturday 29 July 2023

WSS: Teufelsee Revisited!

 Last night the Jolly Broom Man and I did a Zoom replay of a game I played earlier in the month in a face-to-face session with Ian here at Chateau Foy. The intention had been to do the remote version a couple of days before Ian's visit, but Real Life stepped in and we had to postpone.

I still had all the drawings and photos from the session with Ian, so I rebuilt the table and lined up the troops, and the JBM tuned in from France (which, for those who cannot remember, is in That Europe) at 7pm his time, 6pm for me. My beloved broadband supplier, Lothian Broadband (let us name names here), did their level best to screw us up, but apart from the odd freeze and one brief picture blackout we were fine. The sacrificial goat was worth the expense.

 
General view of last night's game, about 2 hours in, with the French attacking from this side

I commanded the French attackers, JBM had the Allied defenders. Here is the scenario note, along with the OOB.

 

Action at Teufelsee, late 1704

 

The Battle of Blenheim has been fought, the Elector of Bavaria has disappeared from the scene for a while, though some part of his army has escaped back towards France with the remains of Tallard’s French army. They are pursued by the combined might of the Allied army.

 

Our action comes as the Allied force nears the Rhine, close to Philippsburg (not far from modern Karlsruhe). The army has divided; part of it, under Prince Eugene, is destined to lay siege to the fortress of Landau, while the remainder, with the Duke of Marlborough commanding, will force-march into French territory (eventually to capture the town of Trier [Trèves], and then march down the Moselle valley to capture Trarbach).

 

This much is pretty historical, but in our game Eugène’s force is surprised by another French army, under Marshal Villeroi, which was stationed on the Rhine, and which has been augmented by the arrival of some of the survivors of Blenheim. 

 

The battlefield can be seen in the supplied photos; the French force is attacking from the side of the table with the sections of the river Treich and a lake known locally as Teufelsee – Devil’s Lake. The lake is impassable, the river may be forded.

 

The building near the centre of the table is the convent of St Ursula of Lorraine, which is classified as a built-up area.

 

We are playing Version 1.02 of my Corporal John rules. Each commander gets 6 Command Cards and an initial allocation of 3 Combat Cards. The Preliminary Bombardment rule is in play (artillery on both sides has been carefully positioned so that the 2-hex withdrawal is a possible option!).

 

There are temporary bonus VPs available thus:

 

* 1 for either side in possession of the convent

* 1 for the French if they get a unit on either of the two Allied hills (that’s 1 VP for each hill, not each hex)

 

9 VPs for victory. The French go first throughout.

 

The French army has 3 elite cavalry units – the Bavarian Leibgarde zu Pferd and the two bits of the Gendarmérie de France.

 

The Allied army has 1 elite infantry unit – the British Foot Guards.

 

The “Reserve” identified in the French OOB is simply the rear line of infantry in the centre. The Allies have 3 Austrian and 3 British battalion guns to attach to infantry units. Only British infantry are trained in platoon firing.

 

French Army (Marshal Duc de Villeroi)

 

Left (Generalmajor von Weichel)

Leibgarde (3 Sqns) (Bav)*

Arco Cuirassiers (3 Sqns) (Bav)

Weichel Cuirassiers (3 Sqns) (Bav)

Regt du Roi (3 Sqns)

Regt Grignan (3 Sqns)

La Vrillière Dragoons (3 Sqns)

 

Centre (Lt General Marquis de Clérambault)

Regt de Champagne (2 Bns)

Regt de Toulouse (1 Bn)

Regt de Béarn (2 Bns)

Regt de Navarre (2 Bns)

Regt du Dauphin (2 Bns)

 

Reserve (commanded by Villeroi himself)

Regt de Languedoc (1 Bn)

Regt de Nettancourt (1 Bn)

Regt de Poitou (2 Bns)

Regt de Saintonge (1 Bn)

2 field batteries

 

Right (Lt General Comte de Zurlauben)

Gendarmérie de France (6 Sqns)*

Regt de Tarnault (3 Sqns)

Regt de La Baume (3 Sqns)

Regt de Lavallière (3 Sqns)

Regt Mestre de Camp Général (3 Sqns)

Monasterol Dragoons (3 Sqns) (Bav)

 

Confederation Army (Prince Eugène of Savoy)

 

Left (Lt General Earl of Cadogan)

Lumley’s Horse (Queen’s Regt) (3 Sqns)

Cadogan’s Horse (Earl of Shrewsbury’s Regt) (3 Sqns)

Wyndham’s Horse (Queen Dowager’s Regt) (3 Sqns)

Wood’s Horse (Earl of Plymouth’s Regt) (3 Sqns)

Schomberg’s Horse (Duke of Leinster’s Regt) (3 Sqns)

Hay’s Dragoons (Scots Greys) (3 Sqns)

 

 Centre  - Austrian Infantry (commanded by Eugène)

IR Gschwind (2 Bns)

IR Thürheim (2 Bns)

IR Alt-Salm (1 Bn)

IR Palffy (1 Bn)

 

Centre  - British Infantry (Lt General Lord Cutts)  (each 1 battalion)

Regt of Foot Guards*

Chas Churchill’s Foot (The Buffs)

Ferguson’s Foot (Earl of Angus’s Regt)

Scrope Howe’s Foot (Wm Clifton’s Regt)

Rowe’s Foot (Scottish Fusiliers)

2 field batteries

 

Right (Maj General Graf von Fugger)

Cusani Cuirassiers (3 Sqns)

Alt-Hannover Cuirassiers (3 Sqns)

Jung-Darmstadt Cuirassiers (3 Sqns)

Gronsfeld Cuirassiers (3 Sqns)

Aufseß Dragoons (3 Sqns)

 

 * units marked thus are of elite status

 

 

 

 

 

The narrative of the action should be discernible from the photos; I am very pleased that my camera, which was suffering a fit of the sulks when Ian visited, appeared to be in better spirits last night.

 
This is the view, early on, from behind the Allies' right flank. You can see the French advancing in an orderly manner (if it is too cautious, blame the cards), but Eugène shocked me by starting his defence with an all-out cavalry charge on both flanks! Please note two of the Allied generals in the foreground, Graf von Fugger (next to the monument on the hill, in charge of the Austrian cavalry on the Allied right) and Lord Cutts (on the baseline, between two British infantry units), neither of whom survived the day [spoiler]

 
The Allied left flank cavalry were British - here you see them heading for glory (were they drunk?)

 
They also showed little respect for my finest cavalry - here the Gendarmérie de France are taking a battering from Schomberg's Horse

 
With things looking a bit rough on their right flank (the Regt de Champagne were eliminated very quickly), the French made sure of one available Bonus Victory Point by securing the convent in the centre (2nd Bn of Regt de Béarn - ker-ching!)

 
The grand charge of Cadogan's cavalry brigade goes in on the Allied left. This photo shows the blue order chips - normally photos are taken at the end of a turn, when everything has been tidied up, but at this stage I strongly suspected I might have nothing left to photograph in a few minutes, so got in an extra picture, just in case.

 
I also believed that I might well lose enough cavalry on the flanks to constitute a defeat before I ever got my main attack engaged in the centre! This photo shows the score at this point - Allies 5-3 in the lead; the gold VP marker is my temporary one for taking the convent grounds. This photo is also historic since it shows General Weichel sneaking forward with the Bavarian Leibgarde zu Pferd, now that the initial Austrian cavalry attack has moved off to the centre to annoy the French infantry.

 
The situation on the French right flank was pretty much a stalemate as the British cavalry ran out of steam. Here you can see, from behind the French lines, that the Austrian infantry in the distance are relatively undisturbed, so my intention now was to get that main attack going!

 
Then everything went crazy on the French left. In the space of about 2 turns, the Allies lost two regts of cuirassiers, one of dragoons, the British 1st Foot Guards, Rowe's Regt (Scots Fusiliers) and generals Fugger (captured) and Cutts (wounded). Also, the Leibgarde scored another Bonus VP for getting a foothold on the Allies' right ridge [ker-ching!]

 
...and, from the jaws of defeat, Marshal Villeroi was astonished to find that he had won, 9-6! As you can see from the picture below, the French still had a lot of fresh troops available, so it wasn't such a fluke as it seemed at the time.

 
The position on the French right was pretty even - you can see the other half of the Gendarmérie taking their turn for a battering (the unit fields 6 squadrons, which in my game means they are two units, brigaded together).
 
 
From their left flank, you can see that the Allied army is still looking strong in the centre, but the right flank at the far end has disappeared
 
 
Eugène (brown coat), with his staff, wondering how the blazes he lost that one...

The game went very well; even with me blethering on (as ever) and Lothian Broadband doing their best to freeze us out, we were finished by about 9:45pm, which is not bad going for a remote game starting at 6pm. No problems with the rules, apart from having to look up the details of how to play though some situations we hadn't met before [how do you attack a lone general? can cavalry opt to Retire and Rally on a Bonus Combat?...]

One thing I might usefully look at in the rules is the possibility of a better index. Otherwise no worries. My sincere thanks to JBM for his company, his fortitude and his enthusiasm. An enjoyable game (and a rather stunning victory!).

 
Since we were finished quite early, and there is limited scope for hanging around drinking after a Zoom game(!), I had everything put away by 6:30 this morning. There were a few boxes on their way to the attic, but I think these things are important. The Asides of Glory - they also serve who only dust the furniture.


 



 

 


Wednesday 26 July 2023

Hooptedoodle #444 - Breaking Point?

 It's all very worrying. I've been a bit upset reading the UK news recently - I may have got confused about one or two things, but it is very worrying.

 
A flood of people

For a start, there seems to be an uncontrolled flood of people trying to close their accounts at Coutts, the approved Niche Banker for Toffs, in the aftermath of a spat between that organisation and one of their less prominent customers, an individual who appears to me to be a rather pointless little con-man and attention seeker. Let us call him Customer F, for the purposes of this post. It could be that the press have been keen to find an alternative story to draw public attention away from the recent English by-elections, but it does seem to have got well out of proportion.

Normally, I have very little sympathy for bankers of any sort, but managers have now resigned, and HM Government have become involved. Public apologies are forthcoming. Goodness me. To be honest, I couldn't give a monkey's, but then I can't claim that I understand these things.

I was speaking to my friend Asif, who runs a small general store in a neighbouring village, and he was surprisingly forthright on the subject of being able to choose who he does business with. Obviously, says Asif, it would not be acceptable to refuse to serve someone because of their race, or religion, or gender, or any of that stuff, but he assures me that if the said Customer F were to enter his shop he would throw him out, whether or not he wished to buy anything. A matter of decency, says Asif. Self respect.

Asif also mentions that Customer F may owe a good number of public apologies himself, but no mention has been made of this. I confess I didn't follow all of his argument; if anything I am even more confused than I was before.

I hope they can all be friends again soon, and I don't have to read anything more about the matter.


 



Wednesday 19 July 2023

Hooptedoodle #443 - Gated Community

 Standard formula for one of my never-ending Hooptedoodles; I take a theme from my past life, and in some contrived manner I find a parallel (or more likely a faint resonance) in some unrelated aspect of the present.

 
Sign here

OK - guilty as charged. For better or worse, that's how my mind works.

This evening's tale starts with a Californian friend of mine from years ago, Leland. In a previous century, I used to visit California fairly frequently - it no longer matters why. Leland was good fun - he was loud, and jovial, and - as it happens - he was extremely wealthy.

He never married. He never worked. His father had been the head of a very successful legal firm, and had bequeathed to Leland and his sister a couple of blocks of apartments (in San Francisco) and a load of money. When I knew Leland, he would get up in the morning to nurse his latest hangover, would phone his stockbroker to sort out today's movement of assets, and then he would devote a couple of hours to his voluntary work on the committee of a children's charity. After that, his main objective was to find something to fill in his time.

He lived in Carmichael, which is a very upmarket suburb of Sacramento, and his barbecue parties were legendary. He used to invite his friends and neighbours, plus the odd celebrity (none of whom I had ever heard of), and he used to bring in a catering company and (usually) a jazz band, and there was fancy lighting and a professional cocktail bar and (once) strippers, and all sorts of unnecessary extravagance. All a bit much for me, I'm afraid, but I was duly impressed. If you are going to see how the other half lives, there is no particular point in settling for short measure.

I never saw Leland without a cigarette. It just didn't happen. He must have been in his early 60s when I knew him, and he freely admitted that he had chain-smoked since he was 17. Sadly, it caught up with him. Eventually he went into hospital for (very expensive) surgery, and then what was left of him moved away from Carmichael into a (very expensive) bungalow in a new gated community north of Sacramento. I visited him, just once, in his new home, and was deeply shocked at how my big, loud, extrovert friend had somehow become a rather small, frail, quiet, elderly man who spent his life terrified in case he ever got round to thinking what might happen next.

It was quick, which is probably merciful. He died before the end of the year I last saw him, which must have been 1998, now I think about it.

Exit Leland, as a player, from my story. I was troubled afterwards by the realities of his luxury home in its exclusive gated community - I wondered if I had unwittingly been present in a Stephen King story. To visit him at all I had to go through some rigmarole ritual to be granted a one-shot permit. I had to say who I was, provide my passport details, state why I wished to visit and provide some evidence that I had some place to live and means of viable support elsewhere. I understand that it might have been more difficult if I had been black, or of Hispanic ethnicity, but that is another matter. Without the permit, I had no chance at all of getting through security.

Leland himself told me some stories of life in such a community. Everything was looked after - the lawns were trimmed, the fences were painted, light bulbs were replaced, everything was maintained by a service company under the terms of a very detailed contract. All Leland's neighbours were elderly and wealthy. The old couple next door had a grandson in his 20s, who used to visit quite often. Whenever he was coming, word went round, and a list would be handed in; perhaps, since Henry was coming round anyway, he could maybe find a minute to help Mrs Bartholomew open that stiff window in the guestroom shower, and possibly he could help Mr and Mrs Groezinger to shift some heavy boxes into their garage, and maybe there was a chance he could have a quick look over old Charlie Hansen's Revenue form? And so on. In this strange, hopeless collection of old people who couldn't do very much for themselves, outsiders like Henry who still had some everyday skills, who could cope with those requirements of life which fell outside the service company's contract, had a whole new level of importance.

Fair enough. It was years ago, I didn't live there and didn't really understand it. Just another old story.

Recently, back here in the Third World nation of which I am a citizen, I was trying to find some potential hotel accommodation for later this year, and I phoned two promising places. By an extraordinary coincidence, on the same morning, each of them apologised for the fact that, though they would be able to serve us some breakfast, the restaurant and the bar were both closed now, since they could not get staff to work there. This comes within a few weeks of a conversation with a member of the family who own the farm where I live, who was lamenting that he had no idea how they were going to get enough seasonal workers to harvest the fruit and veg this year, and also a chat with the manageress at my mother's care home, who has very little hope that they can remain open beyond the end of this year, since they really cannot recruit qualified, competent carers. Without wishing to get near any sensitive political nerves, the common thread is that a few years ago 52% of the fine people who get to vote here were persuaded that we would all be better off if we converted our country into Leland's gated community, without all those problematic Poles and Slovaks and Romanians who used to come to work and pay taxes, and they have succeeded wonderfully.

Perhaps, if Henry were to come round next week, he could cook a few meals in a hotel for me in the Yorkshire Dales, and maybe serve me a beer, and then afterwards he might pick a few hundred tons of cabbages on a farm in East Lothian, and clean up my poor old mother. These things seem to have dropped off the end of the service company's contract.


Where is Stephen King when you need him, anyway?  I need to know how this story ends.

Monday 10 July 2023

WSS: Teufelsee - face-to-face Test Game

 This is, consciously, a shortish post - partly to demonstrate that I am still around!

Last week, I had planned a Zoom game with the JBM, plus an actual face-to-face game with Stryker. "Planned" is maybe not quite the right word; in the event there was something of a domestic emergency, which fortunately turned out to be more alarming than dangerous, but everything was up in the air for a while.

Happily, things calmed down quite a bit, and I was able to proceed with the face-to-face battle on Thursday. Stryker was his usual cheerful self, and mucked in nicely, for which I am grateful. The game was fine, though I confess I did manage to forget about the "Retire and Rally" rule for cavalry attacked in close combat. All told, however, I'm delighted, and am now thinking seriously about a 4-handed game later this summer.

Here are a few photos of the initial set-up:

 
View from behind the Franco-Bavarian left flank
 
 
...and from behind their right...
 
 
...and from behind the Allied left...
 
 
...and their right...
 
 
...and along the Allied line (above) and the French line (below).
 

On the Thursday, my camera was playing up a bit, and I only rescued a few pictures from the height of the battle:


 
You will observe a vigorous advance by the French; Ian and I had loads of cavalry to throw at each other, so we were quite happy, whatever else happened. Quite authentically, we demonstrated once again that artillery is mostly ineffective, and also that the revised rule for elite troops seems to work OK. [Previously there was a risk that they might be unstoppable, so we calmed them down a bit!]

All good. Many thanks to Stryker for making the trip, and braving the tourist traffic around Edinburgh. On a previous game report, Ian noted that these games look a bit like the pictures in the old Charles Grant books. This particular game, with the units deployed in line and the gridded terrain, to me has more than a whiff of Joe Morschauser about it. Old School of a sort?

Apart from other Real World issues here, we seem to have a situation at Chateau Foy (presumably temporary) where our broadband speed has dropped to a level which would not reliably support Zoom. Once that is straightened out, I shall rearrange the remote game with JBM. Apologies to Ian and Mark for the "yes we will, no we won't, yes we might" nature of the arrangements for last week.  

We live to fight on.


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

As mentioned in Comments, I had a shot at editing one of the spare photos to give a vintage monochrome look. It's quite nice, but not awfully convincing - perhaps it would be more like the 1960s if we had 60-watt bulbs over the table and everyone smoked. All suggestions welcome...


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