NICON Battle Report
Venue and organisation
NICON NZ in Hamilton on Queens Birthday weekend 4 and 5 June 2016. Held at Fraser Park High School in the gym. Thanks to the event organisers for their efforts.
Tournament entry was pretty low cost. I’d be prepared to pay more next year so we could get hand towels in the toilets though. However, hats off to the organisers for reviewing the state of the participants, wargamers not generally being a healthy bunch overall. I’m assuming that’s why we had St John’s ambulance in attendance on the Sunday to deal with potential heart issues in response to appalling dice throws.
The Napoleonic event was run by Philip Abela and had 10 participants. Thanks Philip.
The winner was Kit Goldsbury with his “King of the Hill” British, Brett’s revolting Tyroleans second and me third, due probably to Scott’s charity rather than any skill on my part as game three below reveals.
My army list – I’m guessing Philip may post all the others for interest
I decided to take something a little different and try flank marching. I’d had a crack with a Prussian cavalry division flank marching in a practice game. However, I found they got held up by Goldsbury’s veterans in a square. Perhaps some shooting infantry would be better. I’d also decided that there could be good value from some cavalry attachments. This choice was driven by the prevalence of light infantry, reflecting their slight points advantage, and an observation that many of our local battles end up with lines of infantry facing off against each other. It did mean a small army though.
Prussian Mixed Corps 1813-1814 – Initiative 5+ and ACV 24
Skilled Charismatic Prussian Corps Commander
First Division Prussian Infantry
Average Drilled Line Infantry with Rifle Skirmish and Medium Artillery
Average Drilled Line Infantry with Rifle Skirmish and Cavalry
Average Drilled Line Infantry with Rifle Skirmish and Cavalry
Second Division Russian Infantry
Competent Allied Commander
Large Average Drilled Line Infantry with Medium Artillery and Cavalry
Large Average Drilled Line Infantry with Medium Artillery
Average Drilled Heavy Artillery
Third Division Austrian Reserve Cavalry
Competent Allied Commander
Superior Drilled Shock Heavy Cavalry
Superior Drilled Shock Heavy Cavalry
Fourth Division Prussian Cavalry
Average Drilled Light Cavalry
Average Conscript Light Cavalry Lancers
Game one: Kit’s Goldsbury - Waterloo British
I’d decided to save on accommodation and take the 90 minute drive to Hamilton on the Saturday morning leaving at 6.30am. This turned out to be a poor idea. I don’t have a working heater in my car. This isn’t a problem on a short drive to work during the week with a few other warm bodies. It’s not worth spending $900 for a small part from Tokyo. However, it is a problem on a long drive at three degrees for 90 minutes. The Waikato also put on a wonderful fog show that didn’t clear for 100kms from Manukau to Hamilton. I arrived frozen and grumpy. The first round draw is done and I’m playing Kit who could have come round to my place the previous night, played the game near a warm fire and driven down in the late morning, harrumph!!!
Kit has two batteries, four units of good infantry, two units of large poor conscripts, impetuous light cavalry, veteran light cavalry, horse guards (shock), a large unit of Scots Greys (shock) with a gun and an officer, and of course his hill.
I outflanked the Prussian Infantry and advanced my Russians towards the side of his hill that was going to get my flank march. The light cavalry were to the right masking his guns and my shock cavalry behind the infantry.
One unit of my Austrian shock cavalry slid to the left to line up his impetuous lights. Not a good move as whilst they wavered them when charged they got wavered in return as he manoeuvred to get flank support and rear support with his other cavalry moving through his infantry. I hadn’t planned for that. They were then routed by his veteran lights. Meanwhile the Scots Greys who provided flank support were outcome moved back through his infantry by fire from my infantry.
The next turn his Scots Greys won the game. They:
• impetuously charged through two units of his infantry without disordering them
• my large unit of infantry with a gun stood firm and shot
• I get three only three hits, don’t kill his officer, and they ignore one hit as a large unit
• they charge home disordered and score five hits out of seven dice
• I did two hits out of seven dice with a general attached and they ignore one for no effect
• I retire wavered and Kit rolls a six to pursue
• the Scots Greys move forward four inches into my small unit of superior Austrian shock and we fight again in this turn, caught in first half of the pursuit move
• Kit then rolls six hits out six to rout them while I only get two hits of which he ignores one
• still only disordered Kit pursues again into the rear of the retreating Russian infantry who rout.
That was the game. Perhaps there were some other events but they paled into insignificance in comparison to that glorious charge.
I was feeling a bit aggrieved and spent some time roughly calculating the odds of this series of events. I think the probability of that combination of outcomes is around one in a thousand. I was now feeling unlucky!
A big win to Kit. Perhaps fair revenge for the odd occasion in our previous games when one rout on his hill had caused a succession of tests from which most of his army has run away.
Game two: Philip Abela’s - North German Federation Corpse
Philip had a lot of infantry. His ACV was 37 of which 28 points was varying levels of shaky Germans. It seemed like most of the male population of Germany in 1815 had been personally modelled by Philip. I was outnumbered by around 50 per cent.
I was ready to attack, flank march and roll up his army from the side. However, the dice roll for initiative had Philip attacking. Hmmmm … a lot of points wasted on an exceptional divisional general I’m thinking.
Given the size of Philips army I chose a river to close of a large portion of the board and put a building centrally to break up his advance. The river blocked off a third of the table on my left. I deployed on my hill with Prussians to the left centre, the Russians centrally and to the right and my cavalry behind.
Phillip faced my hill and left with a good quality Brunswick division; veteran lancers, large infantry with a gun and rifle skirmisher and two units of light infantry, all drilled. The remaining hordes advanced around the central town to my right with his large artillery battery heading down a road to the far right to come along my base line.
The Brunswickers advanced to the centre of the board. This looked fairly traditional until Philip sprung another surprise. Obviously he’d been reading about the Battle of Hastings and turned his troops around. Taking advantage of this I advanced a few Prussians and some Russians to the 18 inch line and shot them in the rear sending one of them on an outcome move to the rear. This broke up his line a bit on that side. Philip had been caught out a bit by the board being just less than four foot wide meaning 24 inches from his side was only 23 and half from my side and hence within medium range from my deployment area. Philip retired and reformed but slightly out of position. He was trying to draw me forward so his main blow could fall on my right unaided.
Philips advance got a bit out of kilter coming around the right of the town with one large unit in front. My guns failing to prolong fired at some conscripts occupying the town and seemed to do little damage till Philip kindly reminded me that heavy guns hit targets in towns on fives. A lucky roll disordered them. Then I lined up my artillery and a large unit of Russians to have nine dice on the large unit that had got in front of the rest of force to my side of the central town as his other units moved around my flank to the left. However, after three firing phases and 27 dice I couldn’t disorder them. I had my Austrian shock cavalry ready to pounce but the opportunity didn’t come. I was now feeling a bit frustrated after the poor fortune of the previous game.
Philip was manoeuvring several large units onto my right and had his large battery on my baseline line was shuffling forwards. A unit of Russians was withdrawing from this imposing force and my silly artillery was taking its time to prolong around to face the advancing hordes. In addition to the battery three large units, of admittedly low quality (average and poor conscripts), were eyeing up the right of my Goldsbury, I mean hill.
In front of the central hill Philip had started to reform his Brunswick line and moved the disordered large poor conscripts out of the town. Dice frustration finally overcame my caution and I advanced some Russians off the hill towards the left of the central town to blast a disordered Brunswick unit or perhaps it was the conscripts coming out of the town. The Prussians also advanced to focus fire on the broken up Brunswick line.
Close range shooting over two turns took out the conscripts and a unit of Brunswick light infantry and perhaps something else ran away. I also charged and routed some of his light cavalry on the left. He responded routing my previously winning Prussian cavalry unit and pursued into some infantry cutting them down too I think. However, the game was up for the Brunswickers.
On my right Philip couldn’t quite get my heavy battery to waver so he could line up his big units on the remaining unit of Russian infantry guarding the rear of the hill. The dice rolled just a little below what he could have expected. With the Brunswickers out of the way the Russian infantry turned around and damaged the impertinent large unit that had previously stood under many turns of withering fire relatively unscathed.
At this point Philip threw some infantry into my disordered guns cutting them down. I responded with the Austrian shock charging off the hill and cutting a few units down to end the game. Both their charges were fortunate to be supported in combined arms by the large unit of Russian infantry. Philip tried to shoot them off but was unsuccessful against a large unit and superior shock. This combination downhill gets a lot of dice, shock heavies against infantry in the open and uphill with nine and the infantry with ten.
This was the best game of the tournament for me without too many swings of the odds out of the ordinary. Philip’s army is very attractive and looks great on the table particularly given its size. He once again used innovative tactics against me and had a good plan. FoGN is such a good game because it’s very balanced. However, with two good plans and no massive swings of the dice it’ll be the little things that matter in terms of tactics and having some reserve to impact when the opportunity arises. I was fortunate that my opportunity arose first.
Game three: Scott’s - Ottoman Turks with British Allies 1801
Scott had some light infantry, light infantry skirmishers, cavalry skirmishers, some light infantry, a large unit of Turkish infantry with guns and skirmishers, and lots of lance armed cavalry, two batteries, ten bases of British veterans, a small hangover and enough of gaming after day one. In that light he threw his large units of lance armed heavy and light cavalry at a long line of gun armed infantry who shot him to bits and followed up to win the game. We did a few other charges for fun and I won.
Game three: Brett Preston Thomas – Revolting Tyroleans
Brett had 3 units of superior drilled light infantry, 3 units of poor irregular light infantry, 2 units of unreformed Austrians, a medium battery, veteran rifle armed Jaeger light infantry, 2 units of average conscript irregulars, and I’m sure a couple of more Austrian or Tyrolean infantry units with guns.
I was to be the attacker and chose a river to provide some flank protection as he had 4 more units than me and would undoubtedly choose some pretty difficult terrain. We had a large rough, 3 pretty big steep hills and a couple of gentle hills. I tried to place terrain, including moving his choices, so as to limit the amount in any quarter. This gave a few gaps but not many.
Brett had his defenders steep hill and another large one dominating the centre and extending well into my half. I had placed the river from the 24 inch line on his baseline on my right to about 14 inches, but not quite, out from my baseline exiting on my right. That was a mistake as I would have to advance to it and then cross to use that side of the board. Of the four rivers I placed this tournament was the first one not to be ankle deep and it required a CMT to cross. The section of the table created by the river was dominated by a large steep hill in its centre. On my left dominating the left segment of the table on Brett’s side was a large rough. The gentle hills ended up on my baseline and I had a small rough also messing up my deployment area.
My best strategy was to flank march on my left with the Prussian infantry. The Russians and a unit of light cavalry would clear the rough in his table half on the left and there would be some room for my Austrian shock cavalry to influence the game. I’d have to leave a unit of Prussian light cavalry near my LoC to protect it from then peasants who would surely take the hills.
However, given the location of Brett’s LoC next to the river on his baseline it would take the Prussians about 8 turns to get there at least and that’s assuming:
• a few double moves
• no opposition
• they arrive on turn 3, with a 70 per cent chance courtesy of the rather expensive exceptional divisional commander.
I chose instead to outflank to my right with the Prussians who should be shooting at the troops guarding the LoC by the firing phase of turn four if they succeeded in their arrival roll on turn two. They would march on 12 inches in turn three, with a double move – 75 per cent chance, and move up six to be within six in my turn 4.
This seemed like my best strategy. My Prussian division had good shooting at medium range and would nullify Brett’s with their cavalry attachments. The Russians would need to cross the river to support them. However, hindsight was to prove me wrong.
The execution of my strategy was hindered by initial deployment of my Austrian cavalry meaning I had to split my Russians around the rough terrain to get at the river. This delayed their advance.
The Russians did get across and were shooting in support of the Prussians. I had a lot of dice lined up and was expecting to drive some wavering Tyroleans away from the river’s edge so I could cross.
However, I never got quite enough hits despite having enough dice (around 18 over four units to his seven or so after reductions for cavalry) and this combined with Brett’s slightly better than average recovery rolls meant I never got across. Needing a CMT to charge over the river and another to charge home was never going to work whilst his line held its integrity, disordered or not. And indeed that’s what happened despite having probably six or seven rounds of shooting at him. Plus I didn’t have enough command points for the other divisions to get across the river to support the Prussians (remembering we were playing with rule adjustments that didn’t give a free move for an attached general).
I had perhaps one chance when my gun equipped Prussians on his table edge charged a disordered unit who then got two hits out of three shots. I tested to charge home and made it. However, I shouldn’t have charged home. I should have shot four dice at close range with two or three in support from a neighbouring unit at medium range. Brett then got four hits out of four in melee and routed them. That six hits out of seven sealed my only chance.
Meanwhile I had manoeuvred my Austrian cavalry across the river. Another mistake as they were therefore effectively neutralised by the obstacle and the requirement to CMT over in the charge or from adjacent if just moving.
Brett had taken a couple of units of superior drilled light infantry and sent them from his table edge to mine with a lot of double moves to threaten my LoC. These infantry rout a unit of light cavalry with some help from the irregulars who’d taken hill.
Time was up and Brett had a winning draw 14-11 courtesy of me having some fresh cavalry left.
Brett and I went for a break at half time and he thought I was going to crack his line. However, the dice rolled just under average for me and bit above for him. On averages I would have had it. However, a good plan is one that will work even if you’re rolling below average. The river meant that my only choice was shooting. I then compounded the error by moving my shock cavalry over to the wrong side. Hopefully that lesson in rivers will stick with me. They were a double edged sword for dividing up Africa between the imperial powers and similarly on the battlefield.
A good tournament and the small fast army did ok. But more caution with rivers and Scots Greys is in order. Perhaps I also shouldn’t have been using Dice of War British dice for an army of Prussians, Russians and Austrians!