Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Napoleonic Siege Wargame play test - sappers and engineers

The siege rules we were play testing required the use of engineer officers and teams of sappers and miners for - wait for it - sapping and mining operations. Driving forward the saps to move forward and enable the digging of the next parallel was specialist work, as was the digging of mines and counter mines as the siege drew towards its conclusions.

In our play test mining seemed too easy and too effective - the French destroyed one of the two main siege batteries, while the British blew up two major sections of glacis and covered way, and then made their breach through successfully mining and destroying a bastion, ravelin and section of wall. As at this point they were down to one 18 pdr siege gun, if the mine had failed they would have faced a long trickling bombardment or a risky and costly escalade.

By contrast the allied digging parties seeking to establish the third parallel (before the detonation of the final mine) suffered huge casualties, as the garrison's artillery remained in numbers and could use canister fire.

Suitable vintage figures are few and far between. We mustered a few pioneers - an early Hinchliffe British one, and two (I think) Minifigs 20mm French pioneers. Hinton Hunt provided engineers of the guard (firemen) and some of the strange David Clayton line engineers, which he produced by swapping the heads on guard Engineers with heads in shakos.

Therefore we relied on plastics - the Strelets engineers in siege armour and the LW French engineers set, which I had no recollection of owning and came across while locating the Strelets figures. A very useful find as it contains a high proportion of officers, and the rules require teams of one officer and three men.

Suitable British figures were harder to find. We ended up with HaT sailors and a few orion English pirates. A couple of S Range Spanish officers in greatcoats with telescopes, and an S range infantry officer, were pressed into service as engineers.

Later (current) Minifigs include a set of French engineers in siege armour and a British set of sappers and miners, but I am not aware of these being produced in the S Range.

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