Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Muskets & Shakos Cavalry Skirmish

Just played a game as part of my "98" campaign. Although this campaign is set in a fantasy world, you may find this post of interest as it deals with the mechanics of a cavalry clash.

In the campaign, Elf General Hochemont's division was under constant observation of a squadron or two of the 12th "Prince of Taffsea's Own" Light Dragoons (Hobgoblin) or 12LD for short, ever since making landfall at Bantam Bay.

Colonel Jone's 12th Light Dragoons (Hobgoblin)
 No doubt tired of always falling back before the foe, as the 12th neared the Orc defensive position at Naughty Rhyme, the observing squadrons, reinforced by the rest of the regiment turned to face Hochemont's advanced guard.

Colonel Ranacavallo leads the Legion Du Rospo Hippos
Being such a small fight, this  is a good opportunity to look at some of the ways  the Muskets system has evolved to handle a larger scale of battle. In Muskets & Mohawks for example, a regiment of cavalry would weight in at some 80-100 figures. Here, in Musket & Shakos, that same regiment is about 10 figures.

In this game, the 12th Light Dragoons field their full 10 figures deployed in two groups of 5 representing a forward line of two troops and a rear line of the same.

The Legion du Rospo Hippos, or LdR, had previously detached second squadron to accompany Toad Force on its scout and so was only able to muster 8 figures for this skirmish. I (as Ranacavallo) deployed my toads in one group of 5 followed by a reserve of 3.

All figures are Rep 4 in this game. While in a historical game of Muskets & Shakos, all light cavalry would have the same capabilities, as this is a fantasy game I've altered the movement rates. The 12th Light Dragoons on their rams have a move of 12", while the du Rospo hippos have a move a 9".

The game started as shown below. For our purposes just pretend the infantry and town in the background are further than they appear. If the skirmish really had taken place this close to the town, chances are it would have been uninterrupted by cannon fire and I really wanted this game to take place as a pure cavalry fight.

Starting positions
In this game I will be taking command of the Legion du Rospp Hippos and the game system will control the 12th Light Dragoons (Hobgoblin). I won the initiative roll and so go the first move.

Facing the faster rams of the 12th put me in a dangerous situation. There is an advantage to initiating a charge, as opposed to merely counter charging and the 12th's potential reach (24") was a lot farther than mine (18"). I decided to play cautiously and forge any fast move. When fast moving there is a chance you will lose a figure as straggler, and I was already outnumbered. Both lines advanced a normal (9") move. 

End First Toad Move
Now our forward squadrons ere only  about 16" apart. It was more than a ram's normal move but if Jones didn't attempt a fast move and charge me, there was a very good chance that I would fast move and charge him next turn.

Jones ordered the charge! Then he flubbed his fast move test. The forward squadrons moved forward 12" and lost one figure as a straggler.

Next the 12th LD's second line of squadrons normal moved so they would be close enough to counter attack the inevitable toad charge on turn two.

End of Turn One
 Turn two started with a charge by my forward squadrons. The charge procedure in Muskets & Shakos is similar to the melee procedure in the other Muskets games. This evolution saves times and gives fast results, and provides results more in line with the historical record as an added benefit.

Both sides rolled Rep x dice modified by the situation and as it happened the forward squadrons of the 12th LD routed from the field!

My toads had to test to avoid a messy pursuit what with the fresh squadrons of hobgoblins not far off. They succeeded and reigned in in good order about where the enemy line had started the turn.

I move my remaining squadron a normal move to cover the advance of the first two.

End of toad turn two. Rout of 3/12 LD and 4/12 LD
Col. Hatchet Jones was quick to seize his chance and led 1/ 12 LD and 2/12 LD straight at my victorious squadrons.

1/LdR and 3/LdR were forced to fall back with loss.

However the 12th LD squadrons fared ill on their pursuit tests and became spread out, losing formation. This is why it is always a good idea to keep some sabres in hand!

End of turn two. Leading LdR squadrons forced back with loss
 As it so happened I did have just one more squadron in hand and sent 4/LdR to counter attack.

The disorganized hobgoblins didn't rout but they were themselves forced back with loss.

Meanwhile attempts to rally first and second squadrons proved fruitless.

Turn three, toad move. 12th LD falls back with loss
 At this point Jones' only options were to attempt to rally his remaining troops or quit the field.

The Colonel made a valiant rally attempt but just could not restore his troops to order.

End of turn three. 12th LD unable to reform
With the onset of turn four, 4th/LdR followed up the retreating dragoons. To their immense credit the dragoons still refused to rout, giving up more ground and losing the odd hobgoblin and ram.

On the plus side Ranacavallo finally manged to rally and reform 1 and 2 LdR.

At this point the 12th Light Dragoons had been chased back to under the guns covering the town and I had Ranacavallo cease pursuit and rejoin the main body.

End of turn four and the game

So there it was. A sharp little action in which the Emperor's cavalry came out on top. Thought I was in for a kicking. Quite pleased with the result as you may well imagine.

Final losses were 7 out of 10 Light Dragoons and 1 out of 8 Legion du Rospo.

In post battle recovery the Light Dragoons recovered all but two figures while the toads got their sole loss returned.

As with most skirmishes the overall effect of this one is minor. I will now enter the main battle having achieved parity in light cavalry with Sir Morcambe N. Wise. In an assault on a fortified town I expect this success won't bear fruit until after the battle is resolved one way or the other!

It is worth pointing out that in this game the majority of losses come in the form of stragglers and deserters rather than physical casualties. As such the recovery rates are probably somewhat higher than most experienced war gamers are used to seeing.

Hope you enjoyed the game!


1 comment:

  1. THW's got some cool games in the hopper!