Friday, 17 October 2014

Find the Letters - a Song of Drums and Shakos Battle Report

The morning mist began to clear as the small British patrol advanced toward the tumbledown Spanish farm buildings.
"Right men, our contact has hidden the letters somewhere near that farm. Sergeant Bartholomew, take Lawrence, Morris and Shemp and search the nearest building. The rest of you stick with me. And keep your eyes peeled for Frenchies"

And so to our first ever game of Song of Drums and Shakos. Using the scenario I posted yesterday, our small (400 point) patrols would clash whilst searching for some incriminating letters.
I split the British into three groups, with Sergeant Bartholomew and the three veteran troopers sent out on my right to search the farm building, whilst the Captain, drummer and two riflemen were centre left, and a further four riflemen held the centre.
Captain l'Aurel meanwhile deployed in a much more constricted formation in the centre of the board, with fusiliers next to him and Marceau the drummer boy and the conscripts to his right with Sergeant Ardie.

The peaceful Spanish farm (gems to show possible letter stash)

Bartholomew commands the Veterans.
The British centre
Sergeant Ardie and the green recruits
Privates Lawrence, Morris and Shemp make ready

The first few moves saw cautious advances from both sides. I soon realised the error I'd made by having Bartholomew and the veterans too far from Captain Wiseman and unable to be issued with group orders, which meant my advance on the right became fragmented.
Captain l'Aurel however had wisely remained in command of his troops, although a few of the newer recruits dawdled at the rear.

Prepare to give fire!

"Aux armes citoyens!"
Captain l'Aurel bravely urges the men on (from the rear).

Eventually we made our way into musket range. The Voltiguers began to unleash volleys and two redcoats met grizzly ends! Return fire from the fractured British was less effective, but the proud French captain was forced to take cover from one close shot

Mon Dieu!
Steady, lads

Bartholomew and the veterans had made their way to the corner of the farm building, but digging in the dirt revealed only turnips, not French letters.
A spectacular shot from Private Widdle, brought brave Sergeant Ardie crashing to the ground and a wave of panic spread through the French recruits, but the cries of Captain l'Aurel and the drumming of Marceau ensured none fled the field.

"Damnation, no bonus rum for us tonight lads"

Private Miller frantically rifled through some broken earth at the edge of the woodland, but again could not unearth the letters, meaning they were concealed in the outbuilding close to the French lines. Another shot put Captain l'Aurel to the ground and, realising his peril, he called to his men to rally around.

"Right boys, let's finish this with cold steel"

The veteran British, realising their foe were likely to escape with the correspondence gathered themselves for a bayonet charge.
Meanwhile Captain l'Aurel ordered Marceau to snatch up the letters and make off. 
Uttering the immortal words, "as long as I don't get two ones, and that'll never happen" he cast the dice.

Seizing on the French confusion, Bartholomew led the men forward into a hail of shot.

Meanwhile the greenhorns held steady

Flee, Marceau, flee for your life!

Finally the young French drummer snatched up the letters and, once he had kissed his commanding officer on both cheeks, fled the field.
A final frantic charge from Bartholomew, Lawrence and Morris, saw captain l'Aurel, hold them off and wound Lawrence slightly, before the French force vanished into the morning mists.

We had lots of fun playing this.All the feedback from here and TMP about the benefits of group moves and fire and the importance of scenarios meant we had a good tense game. The command mechanic works really well and the fact that everyone is relatively low at combat bonuses but the weapons add modifiers to firepower give the game a very different flavour to SBH.
My opponent made better use of the group move and firing roles than I did and my attempts to use independent troops fell a bit flat - arguably pretty historical. Next time I'll take more care to keep my en close enough to the Captain to benefit.
We finished the evening hatching plans for the further adventures of rival Captains l'Aurel and Wiseman (and looking at models of Spanish guerrillas on the Perry website).

"Such poetry in motion" murmured Captain l'Aurel to himself as he watched the drummer boy disappear toward friendly lines. 
Suddenly fearsome yelling tore tore his attention back to the battlefield, three redcoats were bearing down on him. Drawing his weapon forth he parried the first two blows and sank his blade into the leg of one of the privates. Spinning away from the fight he shook his fist toward the distant figure of the British commander.
"Au revoir, Captain Ouiseman. Until ze next time our, ow you say, paths cross!" and with that he fled toward safety.


  1. Great report! I'm a big fan of the SBH engine, but have never tried the naps version… but your scenario would work well for our pirate games.

    1. To be fair the scenario is pretty much a straight lift from the SBH rules, so I can't take any real credit.
      However yes, sounds ideal for pirates trying to locate the hidden stash on a desert island!

  2. That looks great, and sounds loads of fun. I might have to paint my French!

  3. Very nice report. I enjoyed it a lot. great figures too.