Sunday, December 29, 2013

AAR: If you go down to the woods today

A Song of Drums and Shakos battle report depicting an ambush in the forests of Saxony 1813



Introduction

Quite some time ago we played some more Song of Drums and Shakos (SDS) and now, finaly we hade time to do a write up. SDS is a Napoleonic skirmish game from Ganesha Games by Sergio Laliscia. An introduction to the game can be found in our first AAR, found here.
For this game we didn't use any specific scenario but rather played a standard game with ordinary victory conditions of trying to break the opposing force.

Our game featured a small Swedish patrol marching down a forest road somewhere in Saxony 1813 as a group of French soldiers lies in wait. This time we gave the Swedes a tough nut to crack as the French were skilled veterans of many campaigns (we used the stats of Young Guard for the French). The Swedes had to count on their larger numbers and the use of their cavalry to prevail. 
As usual we played the game with 28mm miniatures on a 120x120cm (48x48”) board using the measurements intended for 40mm miniatures.

The opposing forces

The Swedish Patrol
1 Senior NCO (aka Officer)
6 Line Infantrymen
1 Hussar NCO
2 Hussars 

The Swedish Patrol


The French in Ambush
1 Veteran Officer
1 Veteran NCO
5 Veteran Infantrymen


The French Veterans


The initial set up


The deployment




The game

It started with the Swedish patrol coming marching down the road, spotting French shakos amongs the trees. The Swedish Senior NCO called for his men to move forward as the French took up positions, one group entering a small grove. 


The Swedish patrol advance down the road.
As the Swedes advanced their Senior NCO failed to keep up, apparently to busy urging the others on. The smaller of the two French groups advanced within short range of their muskets firing at the Mörner's hussars galloping towards them. The first shots caused two of the hussar horses to bolt, losing some momentum. However, no serious wounds were inflicted. The third and last Frenchman on that side of the road, Soldat Petit, fired his rifle but his shot ricocheted of a tree and piered his own Officers hat across the road, momentarily distracting the rest of the French.



The French brace for the Swedish charge.

Getting close the Swedes launched their attack. All across the line however they failed to get stuck in properly as they lost their footing, got out of breath or any other excuse for a bad performance. The first to reach the French lines were the Hussar NCO who only just made contact but then didn't have it in him to land a single blow. In return the French veterans followed their drill from countless battles and one Frenchman lunged his bayonet into the side of the Hussar NCO's horse as the other impaled the hapless hussar with his bayonette, killing him. Over at the grove the French officer easily killed the first Swede to reach him as one of his soldiers fired from amongst the trees knocking an advancing Swedish soldier to the ground. 



The Swedish attack fails to make true impact.

The close combat got underway for real as the two remaining hussars got their horses under control and charged. The momentum was already lost however and only one of the Frenchmen were knocked to the ground, getting on his feet again only moments later. In the grove the Officer was attacked again, this time by two Swedes. As an seasoned swordsman he parried the attacks and killed a Swedish soldier in return. 

Mörners' hussars attack the French.

In a swirling melee of cavalry and infantry the hussars got the upper hand as one hussar knocked a Frenchman down and the other trampled him to death beneath the hooves of his horse. In the grove things where not going the Swedes way as they stumbled trying to attack the French Officer, giving the initiative to the French. The French immediately returned the favor however as Soldat Petit again failed to attack properly and only moved up to the hussars, causing his countryman to doubt his true allegiance.

With combat all across the line and more Swedes arriving the Swedes doubled their efforts and managed to strike the French officer to the ground. Before the Swedes could capitalize on the situation the French carabinier attacked killing a Swede giving the officer just enough time to get on his feet. Back on his feet the French officer continued his excellent swordsmanship cutting down yet another (his third!) bayonet wielding Swede. No doubt inspired by his leader yet another French soldier killed his Swedish adversary.


Swedes bite the dust. (Out of focus to save us the gory details, surely...)
With their numbers low the Swedes morale faltered. Two of the Swedish infantry broke away from the French and of of the Hussars surrendered, presenting his sabre to the French.

The Swedish Senior NCO realised all was lost and called for his men to retreat, leaving the field to the French.


"Rädde sig den som kan!" The Swedes flee from the victorious French.

The French had won!

Conclusion

A quite straight forward game but great fun none the less. The better quality and combat skill of the French really paid off. As the initial Swedish attack faultered in an uncordinated manner they failed to get their numbers to bear at the critical moment. Only some bad luck on the French side then kept the French from having a walk in the park victory (as oppostite to a real fight in the woods).