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The Action at Maddening: Denouement, or General De Latte's Déflation. . .

 

At the start of Turn Seven General Phillipe de Latte seized his one remaining chance to save the day and declared a charge.  He intended to drive off the enemy jagers and Bosniaken with his remaining Batthyanyi Dragoons.  "Biscotti?" he shouted to his aide, "Sound the trumpets to signal Captain Gulyás that his opportunity is nigh!"


Von Stollen's squadron of Bosniaken immediately counter-charged as his jaegers covered them with whithering skirmish fire into the approaching dragoons.  A brief period of close combat followed, in which few casualties were suffered, before the respective cavalry each retreated in disorder two full charge moves to the rear where they required two subsequent turns for remaining officers and NCOs to steady their respective lancers and troopers and restore order.


At the start of Turn Eight, General Phillipe de Latte held a desperate consultation with his sidekick Major di Biscotti and staff.  With an expression that looked as though he had just caught a whiff of something foul in the street, the Frenchman realized that he faced an increasingly difficult situation.


On his left flank, von Stollen's line stood between de Latte's own ill-managed forces and Hasenpfeffer Farm.  While at the center of the field, the younger commander's battery fired canister into de Latte's approaching grenadier battalion.  And on his left flank, at the village of Maddening itself, Stollenian jaegers moved in and took a few prisoners from among the wounded Batthyanyi Dragoons who had fallen from their injured mounts.


With Hasenpfeffer Farm now firmly in the control of his Schaumburg-Lippe-Bueckeburg Infantry, Paul von Stollen's front line began its advance on the young general's second objective of the day. . .  the village of Maddening.


Now desperately in need of his emotional rescue, General Phillipe de Latte observed the enemy advance with a feeling much like a fallen cheese soufflé.  Through his spyglass, he could see the Stollenian line emerge from the smoke largely unopposed.


"Fools!" exclaimed de Latte to the officers surrounding him.  "Young von Stollen is wiping the field with us!  I should have listened to Mother and gone into partnership with Monsieur Saint Laurent when I had the chance."

 

By the start of Turn Nine, Paul von Stollen's line stretched uninterrupted from just south of Hassenpfeffer Farm to just north of Maddening.  General de Latte, by contrast, had never managed to organize his supporting second line or get his company of Croats to his right flank where he had intended that they occupy the woods before Bretzel Farm to menace the Stollenian left flank.  At this point, Major di Biscotti offered a small paper sack of hard Perugina candies in bright foils to his superior.  De Latte took one, unwrapped it carefully, and cursed "Merde!" before popping the citron-flavored sweet into his mouth.


Still, General de Latte had one last trick up his sleeve.  His remaining cannon and crew at last emerged from the village of Maddening.  The brass gun was immediately unlimbered, loaded, and fired at close range into the remaining Stollenian jaegers.  Clearly, the gun's Saxon crew could not hit the side of a barn however, and there were no casualties, following several successful saving throws by the smug von Stollen. 


The Stollenian jaegers immedately picked off most of the Saxon artillery crew, effectively destroying the half-battery as a fighting unit.  De Latte's other gun and crew from the Palatinate had previously been destroyed, while still attached to its limber and team of horses, sometime before the combined battery trundled into Maddening.  De Latte was left without a key part of his advance guard.


"Damnation!" he exclaimed.  "Hell is indeed other [younger, smarter] generals!" as a regular member of his mother's salon once observed.  With a scowl, de Latte dashed off several couriers with orders to retreat across his front as General von Stollen's forces just to the north of Maddening hitched horses to, and towed away the captured Palatine and Saxon guns.  Major di Biscotti, for his part, remained upbeat.  "They do not deserve you, m'Lord!  It is. . .  How do you say?  Like casting pearls before swine."  De Latte turned slowly toward his inexplicably sanguine subordinate and silenced him with a scornful gaze.


The action at Maddening came to an end by just after five o'clock that afternoon.  Herr General Paul von Stollen had prevailed yet again and was congratulated by his staff as the shamefaced Zichenauers withdrew from the field.


No encounter between the two commanders would be complete, however, without a bit more Gallic glowering from General Phillipe de Latte.  Through the clearing powder smoke, the Frenchman could be seen brandishing his fist as he shouted "You may have won this time, von Stollen, but we'll be back!"  He turned his horse, smacked its hindquarters with his riding crop, and galloped off in search of a cafe with Sunday hours.


Upon the occasion of General Phillipe de Latte's eventual return to the palace in the Zichenauer capital of Schmitten some days later, the fiery and capricious Princess Antonia III is rumored to have stated unequivocally,  "For you, there is no sugar tonight!

Indeed, as Howard Whitehouse and Dan Foley might put it in A Gentleman's War, or Glossy Coats and Tin Bayonets (2018), "Oh, bad luck old chap!"  

*****


The Action at Maddening concluded after approximately three hours with a 10-minute comfort break at the halfway point.   It will come as no surprise by now that the affair did not go well for my 30mm tabletop alter ego, the vanquished and deflated de Latte.  He never even managed to deploy his troops in a way that they might have an appreciable effect on the enemy, much less occupy and hold two of the three settlements on the table by the completion of 10 turns.  These were, you will recall, our victory conditions laid out before the game commenced. 

Herr General Paul von Stollen, on the other hand, easily took control of these key points in only eight turns.  It became pretty clear, in fact, how things would play out at about the halfway point of our game, and Turn Nine was largely ceremonial.  Contrary to the tactical aptitude of yours truly, my son's performance during our tabletop battle most definitely was a textbook example of "getting there the fastest with the mostest."

About all that can be said for de Latte is that his attempt at troop deployment recalled the title of our emerging rules.  The resulting mess was indeed A Tangled Mass.

Without doubt, the Young Master yet again demonstrated an unmistakable fingerspitzengefühl when it comes to commanding brightly painted, glossy toy soldiers in action.  And best of all, our game had the right effect.  It was all he could talk about at the dinner table that evening.  Indeed, the two of us had so much fun that Paul and I have planned a rematch later in August after we return from our coming family holiday "up north" as they say here in Michigan.

Stay tuned!

-- Stokes and Young Master Paul




 

Comments

El Grego said…
Congratulations to the Young Master on a well-fought battle. Somehow, I feel that de Latte will have more tricks up his sleeves next time!
Rob said…
I think your only way out of this disgraceful display is to pretend you let him win to lull him into a false sense security so you can spring a trap at the re-match. Although, if you don't win that I think you had better seek service elsewhere.
"Professional help" more likely.

-- Stokes
Peter Douglas said…
Well done to the young master. He’s definitely got the hang of handing his father’s backside to him in a hand basket.
tradgardmastare said…
A loud Huzzah for the victorious commander! Fret not , a rematch will give a chance for old scores to be settled, or will it not?

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