Friday, December 26, 2014

Sharp Practice - Blow up the Bridge

I found this scenario on the TooFatLardies Forum page:  The bridge crossing Tormes river

It references a web page by Maerk that can be seen here:  Maerk's Web Page

I liked this scenario so decided to try it myself changing it slightly to match the figures I had available. Instead of French, I used my 4th regiment of Polish in French Service which served in the Penninsula. I added another Group to each side and also allowed the French side to find a ford across the river by moving up to it and rolling a 6 on a D6. Here is my version of the scenario and composition of Forces.

The bridge crossing the Tormes river
t is the year 1812 when the whole of Europe is ravaged by the Napoleonic wars. In Spain the British-Spanish coalition under the command of Lord Wellington is advancing towards Madrid and the French armies are on the retreat.

Captain Sharpe and a group of British riflemen have been ordered to secure a bridge crossing the Tormes river. Within a few days part of Wellington's army shall advance and cross Tormes river using this bridge. Sharpe's group will be supported by a band of Spanish guerilleros under the lead of "El Capitán". Word of this plan has reached Major Ducos, a French intelligence officer. He orders a small group of sappers to destroy this bridge and thus block the British advance. The sappers will be protected by two groups of the Polish 4th line infantry lead by Lejtnant Borodenko and a Group of Dismounted Vitula Legion Lancers under Lejtnant Kaminski. As fate would have it, both parties arrive at the Tormes bridge almost at the same time...

Order of Battle

Big Man I        Lejtnant Borodenko                Status 3
Big Man II      Lejtnant Kaminski                  Status 2
Big Man III     Sierzant Fiutek (Sappeur)       Status 1
1. 10 Man Group    4th Polish  Inf       Line infantry   good
2. 10 Man Group    4th Polish  Inf       Line infantry   good
3. 10 Man Group    Vistula Leg.         Skirmishers      good

Grasp the Nettle 1
Grasp the Nettle 2

Brits and the Spaniards
Big Man I        Capt. Sharpe   Status 3
Big Man II      Sgt Harper       Status 2
Big Man III    El Capitán       Status 1

1. 10 Man Group         95th Rifle         light infantry     elite
2. 10 Man Group         89th Foot          Line infantry    regular
3. 9  Man Group         Guerilla           light infantry    poor

Grasp the Nettle 1
Grasp the Netlle 2

So on Sunday, December 21st, Kevin Walker and I met at BlueSky Hobbies in Bremerton and played out the Scenario, myself playing the Brits and Kevin the Franco/Polish. We used a mod to the rules proposed by Simon Walker here: Grasp the Nettle(GTN) Mods
I'll repost them here as they were crucial to the play of the game. 

Re: Grasp the nettle
Postby sjwalker51 » Sat Nov 22, 2014 5:46 pm

....... the house rule says that, as well as allowing a BM an extra Initiative when their personal card is drawn, a GTN card may now also be used to activate any BM of the same or higher Status who has not yet been activated by their personal card during the turn. However, the BM's Initiative is then limited to that of the GTN card regardless of his actual Status.

So a player might desperately want to activate his Status IV BM before the end of the turn and rather than risk Tiffin being drawn before his personal card, chooses to use a GTN2 card in his hand to 'seize the moment' at a time of his choosing, but is then limited to the 2 Initiatives allowed by the use of the card.

If his personal card is drawn later in the same turn it is ignored. We use markers to keep track of which BM and Groups have already been activated in the course of a turn. This rule keeps a level of friction in the command and control rules, makes it more likely that high Status BM can be activated than low Status ones but balances that by potentially limiting the number of Initiatives they can use.

As well as this, we also allow a player to discard any one GTN card in his hand in order to give any one Group or Formation activated by a BM an extra (third) action that turn, which can be used in any way they choose within the normal rules - so it could give the Group an extra 1D6 of movement if you need them to 'leg it', an extra fire action at a crucial moment etc. a Group may never use more than 1 GTN card in this way (may never make more than three actions in any one turn)

We also use 2 Tiffin cards, which has a very positive effect on the way the above rules work - it adds much more friction than you might expect. The first has no effect whatsoever except to warn that the turn could end at any moment thereafter. Players are forced to decide when and how to best use their GTN cards - do they hoard them to make the most of a single key BM's turn or do they use them to activate lesser BM before the turn ends? The dynamic and decision making really changes once the first Tiffin is drawn.

Unused GTN cards ARE returned to the deck when the 2nd Tiffin card is drawn and cannot be used to give a third action to Groups taking their turn during Tiffin.

 The game moved along quickly and I unfortunately forgot to take some pictures at some of the critical times. Anyway, here is how the game played.

 First turn, the Guerrillas come on at the left Flank through the rough terrain. I wanted to keep them in cover. The rifles with Sharpe head straight for the hill. Harper with the Light Infantry follows the road.

Kevin moves the Vistula Legion on his right flank to look for a ford. The other Poles guard the wagon  and protect the Sappeur, ( represented in our game by a Polish Artilleryman figure).
 The Brits continue their advance, the Guerrillas having been slowed down by the rough terrain.

 At about Turn 4, the dismounted Lancers have found a ford and crossed over to engage the Guerrillas in the woods after having received a volley from the rifles. One Group of Poles is trading shots with the Rifles while the other is deployed to protect the Bridge. The Sappeur has reached the Bridge and unloaded the gunpowder charges from the Wagon.

 Here we see Harpers Group continuing their advance, hoping to reach the Bridge before the Sappeur can light the fuse. The Vistula Legion Group has taken quite a bit of shock and are almost all across the river.

 The Vistula Legion are about to charge the Guerrillas while the Poles and rifles continue to trade volleys. The Sappeur continues to lay the charges on the bridge. With each action he can roll one D6, needing to reach a total of 12 points to complete the task. The Blue dice mark how many points he has achieved. We found 12 points to be too low and recommend maybe 20 points or higher is you are going to try this scenario

 Harper's men are almost to the Bridge, but have taken some casualties

 A view from the other side of the table. So far the Guerrillas have been holding their own against the dismounted Lancers, but in the subsequent melee, the Spanish are defeated by 3 and must retire 12 inches and have more shock than men, a bad situation.

 Having defeated the Spanish, the Vistula Legion now move left to engage the Rifles. The Sappeur has set the charges and moved off  the Bridge to light the fuse. The Fuse burns 2 inches a turn and the Sappeur used a 3 inch long fuse. Harper and three light infantry have reached the Bridge, but don't have any Actions left to remove the fuse from the charges. Whether they can do it or not, depends on who gets the initiative first.

Same turn as above, but showing the Spanish still retreating. With only one Initiative, El Capitán was never able to remove enough shock from the Guerrillas and they eventually retired off the table.

 The next turn, the Poles got the first Initiative and they fired at Harper's Group, wounding Harper and killing all but one Infantryman. Having more shock than men, the lone survivor of Harper's Group drags the wounded Harper off the Bridge. Sharpe, seeing Harper's repulse, decides to see if the Rifles can save the day and leads them in a rush to the Bridge. This is where I wish I took more pictures to show the intermediate stages of the end of the Game. As it played out, Sharpe reached the Bridge with a good movement roll, but the fuse had already burned its 3 inches and on the next Tiffin card it would blow. Sharpe needed a GTN card to come up, so his Group could get one extra action. Will he make it?

No! BOOM! Sharpe and his Riflemen are blown up. Wellington can use the Ford, but he needed the Bridge for his artillery. He'll just be a little late in catching up to the French.

Kevin and I had a great time playing this Scenario and it's simple enough that it is a good scenario for beginners. The GTN mods described above were essential to the game I highly recommend them. Much Thanks to  Maerk for proposing this scenario and Simon Walker for the Grasp the Nettle (GTN) mod.