Sunday, 20 July 2014

Peninsular War: Drums and Shakos Battle Report

My son Charlie and I managed to get a game in last week. We played Songs of Drums and Shakos, a game from Ganesha Games. Based on the same mechanics as Songs of Blades and Heroes and Fist Full of Kung Fu. As you might have guessed Drums and Shakos is set in the Napoleonic wars and introduces rules for muskets, rifles, cannons etc. It has two advantages (as far as I am concerned) over Sharp Practice: you only need 10-20 figures a side, which makes it much easier to get a game together, and it is a really simple mechanic, which makes it great for Charlie to learn. In fact Charlie said that this, and Blades and Heroes, are his favourite games, even better that Lord of the Rings!

The game was based on a shore party from the HMS Endurance, attempting to find a well or spring where they can replenish their ships depleted water reserve (following an unfortunate accident involving a rat and a cabin boy). Lieutenant Ragley was in charge of the party, which consisted of 13 sailors.

Lt Ragley (Q4+ C2, Leader, Pistol, Sword)
Able Seaman Stumpy (Q4, C2, Sword)
4 Big Lads (Q4, C2, Strong, Sword, Pistol)
4 Salty Seamen (Q4, C2, Muskets and Swords)
4 Jack Tars (Q4, C2, Muskets)

Unfortunately for Lt Ragley and the crew of the HMS Endurance, the area of coast line they had landed on, was being paroled by Jean Bonnet, a lieutenant in a French imperial line infantry regiment. He was accompanied by 9 grenadiers and 2 fusiliers.

Lt Bonnet, (Q4 C2, Leader, Pistol, Sword)
Grenadier (Q4, C2, Strong, Muskets)
Fusiliers (Q4, C2 Muskets)

Lt bonnet lead his grenadiers to the orange grove, where they formed up a firing line, ready to repel the sailors. The grenadiers were all big, strong soldiers, and didn't think much of the sea rats they were to fight- they hardly compared to a red-jacket!

The Battle began with the crack of musketry as the grenadiers and the jack tars exchanged ineffectual fire at long range. The big lads, armed for boarding actions and close quarters battle took advantage of the French reloading to sprint forwards, vaulting over a rickety fence and closing to within range of their pistols. 

 The Salty Seamen moved up, fired a volley with their muskets, before drawing their cutlass's and charging in. The Grenadiers shot one of then as they advanced- killing him, and knocked down one of the Big Lads, but nothing was going to stop the cutlass armed sailors closing to melee.

The two fusiliers moved up one flank to snipe at the RN officer, but their fire wasn't terribly accurate, and all they succeeded in doing was driving him into cover. 

The encounter ended with a sprawling melee. The French grenadiers found the cutlass armed sailors to be quite a lot tougher in melee that they had expected, and gradually their numbers were whittled down until the sailors started to get the upper hand. Lt Bonnet was frantically running between his troops, barking out orders, when a lucky long range shot from one of the Jack Tars caught him under his knee and sent him down in the dust. His men, seeing him fall, broke and fled the battlefield, and the French officer was captured, and taken to the HMS Endurance, for the expert ministration of Mr Cutter, the ships surgeon. 

It was quite a coup for Lieutenant Ragley (RN). He lost only one sailor, but captured a French officer.  Who knows what intelligence the navy will be able to learn from the prisoner. As for Bonnet, well it is likely the Frenchman will spend the rest of the war as a prisoner-of-war, or else be ransomed back to the French in exchange for some British prisoners. 

As for the game, both Charlie and I thought that Songs of Drums and Shakos was a great system, full of fast pace action, and very easy to learn. The sizes of the forces involved were ideal for my mini table and for my collection. Personally I get bored if I have to paint 20-30 minis of the same type, but these sizes of engagements are ideal. 


The Good Soldier Svjek said...

Excellent little game , I have a copy of these rules but never have got around to playing them yet .

Rob Bresnen said...

I really recommend them if you want a quick game- you could easily play 2-3 games in an evening.

Unknown said...

Very nice little skirmish dude.

Smillie said...

looks like a great game, the rules sound good as well i'm more interested in small nap games like yours so I dont have to paint 300 miniatures!

Rob Bresnen said...

To true. I have no stomach for that sort of thing any more. there are just too many games and too many periods to want to collect and paint!

you can download drums and Shakos from the ganesha games website for $8 as a PDF. that's about £5...not bad for a rules set!

pulpcitizen said...

Looks like the Bresnen boys enjoyed their game. :)

Simon Quinton said...

Nice game report mate. Table and figures are looking great!

Do you find it always ends in a melee?

I've tried SoBH and missile fire seems quite ineffective for some reason

Rob Bresnen said...

Missile is a bit more effective than SOBH, especially at short range, but my dice rolling was poor. I should have waited for Charlie's sailors to close, then blasted them and charged in, but I fired too early and he was able to close and chop me up with his cutlasses.

NW Crew said...

Great report!
I've made some SDS reports aswell, a great game!

Mike C said...

Just bought myself a copy of those rules on your recommendation. I will give them a go.