Whereas I set a target of getting 70 figures finished for my Paraguayan War project for the end of 2017, I also planned to finish enough figures to have a small game. This is why the numbers of figures finished for some of the units in the last post seem kinda odd! I’d also started painting trial figures for some of the various units just to get the uniforms right, so that left me with some odd figures that were finished but not going to fit into any units at this early stage in the project.
Anyway, after working out what I should concentrate on to give me enough figures for a game, I ended up with the following:
Paraguayans – three seven-man infantry battalions, a four-man artillery battery with one gun and a mounted commander (26 figures).
Allies – three ten-man infantry battalions, a four-man artillery battery with one gun and a mounted commander (35 figures).
The Paraguayan War was in full swing 150 years ago, but since there were no major engagements in late December 1867 I decided to try a Paraguayan raid on an Allied supply column as the subject for a wargame. To that end, I gave the Allies a supply wagon escorted by two extra figures, and both forces also got limbers to move their field guns. I took pictures during the game, but the weather here in the UK has been a bit dull (no BBQs on the beach here for Christmas, since it’s winter) so they’re not the best of images!
I’d bought a Deep Cut Studios 3ft x 3ft printed mat to use for small games, so I got that out for this game, adding a rough track across the mat and some scatter terrain pieces. The game started with the Allied supply column rounding a bend in the track and being confronted by a Paraguayan road block (the latter consisting of a light field gun and crew, sheltered behind some gabions).
In the picture above, the Paraguayan gun position is out of shot above the picture. Inadequate Allied cavalry screening also meant that three Paraguayan infantry battalions had closed up on the right of the supply column without being detected (one is visible top right, the other two are off picture). On spotting the Paraguayan road block, the Uruguayan infantry battalion leading the Allied column rapidly deployed into line, with the following units all halting rather abruptly. The Paraguayan gunners found the range to their target with the first shell, which burst amidst the Uruguayans and caused a momentary panic but, surprisingly, no casualties.
On hearing the firing, two of the Paraguayan battalions to the right made a rush for the back of the supply column. The Brazilian battalion following the Uruguayans moved right to counter this threat, whilst the Brazilian foot artillery battery unlimbered their gun to bring it into action as well. The Argentine battalion bringing up the rear of the column changed facing and started to fire at the approaching Paraguayans.
At this point, the Allied commander decided (somewhat unfairly) that the Uruguayans needed to get themselves sorted out and tackle the roadblock, leaving the rest of his troops to their own devices! The Brazilian gun battery, in the meantime, had delayed too long in opening fire on the advancing Paraguayans, allowing the latter to charge the gun. The Argentines opened up a slow fire on the other Paraguayan battalion, but without much effect. Whilst the Brazilian infantry dithered near the track, the Paraguayan commander committed his remaining battalion to the assault on the rear of the column.
At this point, things started to get a lot worse for the Allies! Although the Uruguayans made steady progress in their advance on the roadblock, the remaining Allies started to buckle! The Argentine National Guardsmen accompanying the supply wagon managed to move it safely off the track, but it had hampered the movement of the other Allied units. The Paraguayans managed to kill all of the Brazilian gunners and, although taking heavy casualties, they charged and routed the Argentine battalion bringing up the tail of the column!
But the remaining Allies now pulled themselves together! After shooting some of the Paraguayan gunners, the Uruguayans took casualties from return artillery fire, but they managed to finally charge the roadblock, although the Paraguayans managed to limber up the gun and make good their escape! The Brazilian infantry managed to open fire on the remaining Paraguyan infantry and drive them off with heavy casualties.
So, heavy casualties for the Paraguayans, who failed to capture the Allied supplies, but quite a costly operation for the Allies for what should have been a routine supply run!
For the first time in many years, I played this as a solo game, mainly because it was all about testing out the rules (and I could have challenged my wife’s generalship skills, but I’d have got defeated regardless – I played one game of Space Hulk with her 25 years ago and got soundly thrashed! Don’t tell anyone)! My rules evolved over the years and were mainly used for WW1 and WW2, combats where troops found they had to fight in dispersed formations, so I wanted to see if I could use them for mid-19th century games. I’ve used them for Boxer Rebellion games and they’ve been OK, but they weren’t so good for my re-fight of Koniggratz. I think this is mainly because I need to get to grips with representing the capabilities of line and column formations, so it shouldn’t be insurmountable! I also reduce the rates of fire of units with muzzle-loaders, and in this game it allowed the Paraguayans to charge into contact (although it was supposed to be close terrain, so that’s maybe about right).
I used the simple, expedient, morale rule for the Paraguayans that they fail morale on an unmodified D10 score of 10. Paraguayan infantry were generally determined, took casualties and very, very rarely broke, so it worked quite well. It meant that even one or two survivors in a wargames unit could charge into contact and therefore tie down a larger enemy unit, so the Allies need to make sure they bring adequate firepower to bear to prevent that happening. I also need to improve my close combat rules – quite accurately, they virtually never get used in WW2 games, but they’ll get used for Paraguayan War games more often. The mechanics are OK, I just need to define the outcomes more clearly!
Overall, I enjoyed setting the game up and playing it with new figures and it only took an afternoon. It’s given me things to think about and keep me busy! I’m unlikely to get any more figures painted this year and this will probably be the last post of the year, so all the best to everyone for 2018!