Sunday 10th Febuary 2019 - Piquet: Hill Line Defence
Ten to fifteen years or so ago Piquet was a set of rules that we played on pretty much a weekly basis for many years, at that time we were the European distributors for Piquet and there was an active Piquet gaming community where I lived at the time, in Ilkley. Piquet was written by Bob Jones and contains a lot of features that really appealed to me. The rules use a card activation deck which can be different for each force to model the armies characteristics as a pose to units characteristics. Each unit in the army is rated using a D20 roll to determine how 'ip for it' they are on the day of the battle. This means that you can have a unit of elite or guard troops that you would expect to perform better than line or militia troops, but on the day they are 'Battle Weary', maybe they were involved in a hard fought action the previous day, so the perform less well than expected.
The scenario choosen was a reinforcments in depth scenario from the old Wargames Research Group book of 52 scenarios, one for each week of the year. This is an excellent little book and it is a great shame that it is no longer in print. The defensive position is based on two hills that cross the table at a 45 degree angle. A road passes through a valley between them and continues to past a village to cross a river in the distance.
I was joined by Chris Kirby and Paolo Di Cittaspina who commanded the British and Doug Wright who joined me to command the French.
The French divided there main force between the two hills with a 'thin white line' of infantry, a supporting artillery battery on the far hill and a couple of regiments of horse in reserve. In Piquet hills can either be 'Type 2' gentle slopes or 'Type 3' steep slopes. I decided to classify these as steep 'Type 3' hills, which was a mistake as it made assaulting them far to difficult a proposition.
The British split their forces, Paolo commanding the left and Chris the right. As soon as the British Infantry advanced into long range round shot range, the French gunners opened up and found there mark. Unfortunately for Paolo one of those early shots struck his Brigade commander. In Piquet when the officer check card is revealed you need to check for command casualties by rolling over the number of successful shooting attacks since the last officer check card, in this case one, which is exactly what was uppermost on the D20 when it stopped rolling! Latter in the turn a regimental commander was promoted to Brigade commander, but when he was rolled up it appeared that he was 'Abysmal' so the Commanding General relived him of command and took over the Brigade himself.
On the British right, the infantry advance to assault the hill.
As we had classified the hill as 'Type 3' we needed to wait for the elusive 'Infantry / Cavalry move in difficult' card to appear to redeploy our reserve cavalry down into the valley.
After a fierce infantry fire fight, the British launch a cavalry charge against the French gun position. The French expected to stop them in there tracks with a devistating volley of cannister, who ever due to a blunder with the positioning of the caisson this did not happen and in an instant the horses were upon the gun lines cutting the French gunners down to a man.
An impressive sight. The French reinforcements advance in road column to the sound of the guns. However, due to a misjudgement on my part regarding the length of my wargames table (12') compared to the map in the book, they were never going to reach the battle in time.
After several hours of fierce fighting, the British had cleared the French from right hand hill (at significant cost), but the French still held the left hand hill. We decided that with this feature held, the main army could bypass the other hill so awarded the British a marginal victory.
It had been a long time since I last played Piquet. I really enjoyed it and re-learnt quite a few lessons about scenario design for Piquet which will hopefully feed into even better games in the coming months.
All of the buildings on the table were 3D printed from the French Farm set from Printable Scenery.