Sunday, April 13, 2014

Song of Drums and Shakos - First Game

Last week I finally got around to finishing reading Song of Drums and Shakos and finished painting up some Highalnders and French Chasseurs and Voltigeur and Carabiniers… so, on Saturday, when the lad and I had some free time in the afternoon (now that his Theatre School classes have wrapped up!) we have a go at the game.

United Kingdom of the Netherlands, Spring 1815


As the forces of France and the Anglo-Allied Coalition maneuver ever closer to the ultimate conclusion of their campaign at Waterloo, two opposing squads are simultaneously tasked with scouting a ford across a creek on the flank of their respective armies’ line of march.


Ostensibly the object of the game was to “hold the ford” and if I’d given it much thought I’d have assigned victory points for being the first to it and maybe some for keeping the enemy on the other side and away from the ford… but ultimately, as with more SoBH derived games, it comes down to who routes (or wipes out!) the other force….


The British (well… Scottish!)

1x Highland NCO - Q3+, C3, Sword, Musket, NCO, 76 points

6x Highlanders – Q3+, C3, Musket, Steadfast, @50 points

1x Sapper – Q4+, C2, Axe, Musket, Engineer, Strong, 39 points

Total 415 points!?

The French

1x Chasseur Officer – Q3+, C2, Sword, Pistol, Light, Élan, Leader, 82 points

6x Chasseurs – Q4+, C2, Musket, Light, Élan, @42 points

1x Sappeur – Q4+, C2, Axe, Blunderbuss, Engineer, Strong, 30 points

Total 364 points

I must have added something up wrong when I came up with these forces…?


Finnegan decided he wanted to play the French, so I ended up with the Highlanders.

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

My Bonnie Highlanders cautiously approach the ford.

Finnegan and his Chasseurs full of Élan and horseflesh.

The two parties and their relative starting positions as they approach the ford.

Did I say “cautiously”? I meant “BOLDLY approach the ford!” In one move the whole squad was in position, in cover overlooking the ford. Huzzah!

That luck would not hold long…

Finnegan had less luck ordering his Chasseurs (full of Élan and frogs’ legs) forward. The Officer boldly lead from the front – but his men weren’t so keen to follow when they spied the bold swaggering Highland Lads across the water.

On my next turn I got a couple of the Jocks across the river and took a few long-ranged aimed shots – which caused a couple of the Chasseurs to duck – but didn’t succeed in causing any casualties or even a general route.

These Chasseurs are made of sterner stuff that I expected…

I guess bullets whizzing by their ears while standing in the open had a bit more motivating power than the orders of their officer. The Chasseurs rushed forward to the cover of the wood near the ford and began returning fire – wounding one of my Jocks!?

A lucky shot.

Actually he probably wasn’t wounded… the shot probably went through his canteen and he spent the rest of the engagement trying to stopper it up before all his whisky poured out….

Um… I know it LOOKS like blood... but... it was Red Whisky... or something... 

Then my luck went in the tank (where it normally resides)… When next they had the initiative young Pte William McDonald charged out from behind his tree towards the ford bellowing out a fearsome Highland war cry – but as his foot turned on a slick rock the cry changed in pitch somewhat and for the briefest moment sounded more like the cry of a wee girl being chased around the garden by her brother with a dead snake – before pitching headlong into the water. When Pte. McDonald sprang back up out of the muck he was covered head to toe in vicious black muck and his sodden kilt hung about his knees. Peels of laughter issued from the wood and that was all the Highlanders would do THAT turn!

(I rolled one action and Turn Over..)

Lucky for me, I wasn’t the only one with no luck at all… Finnegan also rolled a turn over on his first activation of the next turn.

I guess the French even had a bit of a laugh at Pte. McDonald’s Expense….

On my next turn I got a few more of the lads across the ford and took a few shots at the Frenchies in the woods…

One of them fell to the ground and cried for his mama!

After the next volley from the French a few of the Jocks sprang up and charged the French position!

In the confused melee amidst the Jocks took down another Frenchman.

Aaaaand then the French got lucky and took down one of the Jocks… and knocked over two others…

Aaaaaand then the dishonourable frenchies stabbed the fallen jocks – taking them out as well…

Things were not going well for the Scots…

A second wave of Scotsmen charged into the French position taking down a pair of Frenchmen – evening the score. Whoever lost the next figure would be making a morale test….

…and that would be the Highlanders…. Of course with their steadfastness the two remaining Highlanders in the melee stayed…

The Pioneer (who wasn’t REALLY a Highlander) made a run for the table edge – not that he’d don anything since the second turn…

That left two highlanders fighting four Frenchmen… We probably could have carried on and I might have pulled off a win, but we had other stuff to do so we called it a day… All we were really after was to try out the system and see if it worked. I think it worked pretty good.

I’d like to try it with cavalry.

Of course I’d have to BUY some cavalry to do that…

Actually I DO have a few British Cavalrymen. I have two batches that were earmarked for a big battle units, but one of the units I don’t have enough figures for and it seems the company I bought them from (Renegade Miniatures) is not currently in business so I don’t know when (or IF) I will ever be able to pick up more to finish off that unit, so perhaps I could use a few of them for skirmishing. They have HUGE horses though…

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Hopefully I’ll get around to finishing the report for the end of our Song of Blades and Heroes Campaign.

Painting up the last few British Riflemen I have – some individually based for skirmishing, some that will go one multi-figure bases for big battle games… 


  1. This is completely bonkers - Tim painting (and playing) Napoleonics without any of us stuffed shirts in attendance? I'm completely amazed. It truly is the End Times. :)

    Seriously, great looking game Tim! Never tried these rules (usually use Lardies' Sharp Practice) but they look like rollicking good fun.

    Look forward to seeing your cavalry.

    1. Thanks Curt!

      SDS is super simple (like, almost DBA simple), and fast-playing - games are done in less than an hour - often in MUCH less than an hour. Simple and fast-playing are important to a blockhead with a short attention span like me...

      I have to admit I've been eyeing the MORE Drums and Shakos expansion as well as the "Big Battles" version of the rules...

  2. The old man beat by his son...the shame!!

    It looks like a really fun game. I've always found Napoleonic skirmishing a little intriguing, but never have gotten into it seriously.
    I enjoyed reading the report and seeing the lovely figures in action.