IronMarshal (TMP Member) 22 Jul 2015 2:43 p.m. PST
I enjoy wargaming several periods, Napoleonics (My first love), ACW, Dark Ages, ancients, and to a lesser extent WWII and Modern including Vietnam. I had always wondered about skirmish in Napoleonics. It seemed that at the tactical level it was about formations and such, so how could Napoleonic Skirmish be any fun? Then came “Sharp Practice” and to a lesser degree, “Songs of Drums and Shakos.” They produce enjoyable games if the scenario is good.
At Historicon 2015, I was introduced to Robin Empey’s wonderful “Green Jackets and Voltigeurs,” in the form of a scenario based on the Bernard Cornwell character Richard Sharpe, called “Sharpe’s Escape.” The game was one of the most enjoyable wargames I have ever played.
The objective of the game was to escort a female partisan guerilla leader to meet with the Duke of Wellington. The catch was the French were waiting to intercept and capture the lady guerilla leader. A second objective for the Spanish/British side was to rout a unit of French.
The really interesting and fun thing was that Robin allowed us to try to do anything. Was he shocked at what was brought up! Before I get into the recap of the scenario, let me say a few things about the rules. “Green Jackets and Voltigeurs” is clever, easy to learn and play and seems to cover all contingencies and believe me we tried to stress them. The game is card driven, you go when your leader’s card is drawn. Each figure has action points which allow walking running, shooting , reloading, dropping prone, swimming, opening doors, getting up, aiming, trotting, running and as we found out changing clothes, but we’ll cover that in the scenario. Different weapon systems had different abilities of course and different loading times as well. I think the gaming system is excellent. Each figure’s personal action points are randomly rolled (d6) at the start of the turn. The leader of each group also rolls his/her action points. The leader may assign his/her action points to the entire group if he/she chooses to. Between the cards and random action points there is a good amount of friction involved. As I do not own a copy of the rules (YET!), I’ll stop there in the rules description overview.
The game was played with two other guys and me playing the British /Spanish side. I had Sharpe and 3 other guys and Harper and 3 other guys. The other forces on our side were split into two groups of 4 Spanish soldiers and one group of 4 Spanish soldiers plus a carriage containing the female guerilla leader and 4 Spanish Guerilla’s. Two Spanish officers for two of the groups were mounted. The French side had I think 4 players who split 6-8 dragoons (started mounted) and a batch of infantry with a mounted officer at least equal to our amounts.
The beautiful terrain board was covered in very light, but a little slippery snow. There were several buildings including a massive walled in structure forming a small village with a road running through it. The village was bordered by a river that cut the battlefield in two. There was a stone bridge across the river and two houses on the French side of the river. There were also several rough rocky outcrops on both sides and a high grass area on the French side.
As for the game itself, the three of us on the British/Spanish side, met briefly and came up with a deceptive strategy of getting the coach into the large walled building walls and having the female leader “change clothes with one of the Spanish rank and file soldiers in the building. We approached the gamemaster, Robin, about this, and he told us it would take two (I think) actions to do this. We also asked him about finding a ford. He explained the hazards of doing this, but explained the procedures and said to remember that we had partisans who are familiar with the terrain. I realized at that point that our Guerrilla partisans would have a greater probability of finding a ford wherever they happened to approach the river than any other soldiers would.
Meanwhile, the wily French came up with what they thought would be a very deceptive ploy. The approached the bridge with a flag of truce looking to “parlay.” I gave them the answer that stunned them and GM Robin when I had rifleman Harris shot the guy with the white flag. Cries of “That is a war crime!” and “I can’t believe you shot a guy under a flag of truce!” rang out. The funny thing is that Robin is friendly with Jason Salkey, the actor who played Harris in the Sharpe movies, and Jason was in attendance at Historicon giving lectures, signing and selling pictures and the like. Jason was too tired to join us at Robin’s invitation, but I thought he would have gotten a kick out of my usage of his character. We later (at the games end) found out that the flag of truce was a ploy to get the leadership out in the open to be ambushed, so I guess I wasn’t the only one who didn’t value a flag of truce!
The Dragoons dismounted and ran into a building. We proceeded to shoot at the exposed horse holders, killing and wounding a couple of horses and a horse holder, other horses scattered. Later a couple of our Spaniards crossed the bridge and set the building on fire. The Dragoons in the building attempted to put it out. It took several turns. While this was going on we snuck the female leader dressed as a common soldier and a leader on horseback across a “ford” that she (in reality being a partisan) “found’ to the far right of the bridge. A third soldier got caught up in the stream and drowned a few turns later. I had Harper’s squad keeping the bulk of the French infantry pinned down on that side. Harper ended up taking a serious wound ( I think it was two light wounds, which become a serious wound).
On the other side of the bridge, where the Dragoons were stuck in the burning building, we moved the coach with the faux female to find a ford, which of course our partisans did. Sharpe’s squad and the rest of Spanish were providing covering fire from a rock formation into a rock formation where some French infantry and a dragoon or two managed to get. A couple of Dragoons managed to get remounted and ran down the coach, wounding the horses and causing the coach to roll.
While that was happening, in the building to the right, the female leader changed clothes with the Officer and escaped up the far right on horseback. The French thought something was amiss and began a pursuit. The mounted French officer finally got close enough that the female shot his horse with a pistol. He was unable to identify the escaping rider and she escaped. It was important that no identification happened as it forced the French to continue to fight for the coach, giving us the opportunity to rout a French unit, which we did thanks to the Sharpe sharpshooters and the withering Spanish fire. It was a real hoot!
Robin should have won an award for this game as I have a hard time believing any other game was as fun.
herzogbrian (TMP Supporting Member) 23 Jul 2015 11:49 a.m. PST
Robin has a fun set of rules, and with Sharpe, you can throw in as little or as much roll play as you want.
It is a skirmish level rule set with each player getting a hero and 5 figures. It has a comfortable player limit of around 8 players and tend to slow a little if you push it up more than 2 (but what skirmish rules don’t?)
Bring some GOOD beer and stay away from the apple orchard, and it is always a good time.