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"Sharke's Shovels"

A Flintloque Scenario by Simon Evans

sharkes-shovels

Sharke, Harpy and some Orc redcoats try to stop a group of Ferach Elves from purloining their picks and spades during the siege of Badjobz in this classic scenario from the Flintloque Archives.

~

"The air was filled with the rumble of cannon balls, and the Orcs stopped digging and looked at each other. Sharke looked over the parapet and saw the armed picquets running back for shelter. Every gun on Badjobz's eastern wall, from the high castle, past the San Fugazi, down to the Los Lobos bastion at the South-East corner, seemed to be firing at the Northern hundred yards of the parallel.

Captain Ripper stood beside him.

"What's happening?"

Sharke looked at Ripper.

"Do your Orcs have weapons?"

"No. Ordered to leave them behind."

"There must be a company here."

Ripper nodded, pointed to the right, "The Grenadier Company. They're armed. Why?"

Sharke pointed through the murk and rain to the dark shadows at the foot of the fortress. Coming from the fort that guarded the Kayleigh dam were lines of Elves, marching blue ranks that melded into the shadows and were difficult to see. Ripper shook his head.

"What is it?"

"The bloody Elves!"

They were coming in force, marching to attack and destroy the parallel, and suddenly they were visible because they drew their bayonets and the rows of steel glistened through the slanting rain.

The Elven gunners stopped firing. A bugle sounded, and on its note, the gleaming bayonets dropped into the attack position as the Elves cheered and charged.

The Company looked to Ripper and past him to Sharke. He hesitated for a second, saw Ripper's indecision, and waved his arm.

"Back!"

There was no point in trying to fight; not till the armed companies could come together and make a proper counter attack. The working parties scrambled out of the trench, ran back over the wet grass, then turned watch the enemy jump into the deserted workings. The Elves ignored them; they wanted to destroy as much of the parallel they could and, more important, take back to the city every pick and spade they could find, for each such trophy they had been promised a reward of one Silver Groat. The Elves hurled the tools to their comrades beyond the parapet while other working parties leaped from the trench and scampered to safety. Sharke doubted if anyone, Orc or Elf, had tried to fire a musket or lunge with a bayonet.

It was a farce.

The Orcs, mostly unarmed, watched as the enemy systematically stripped the parallel. Some of the Elves tried to push the parapet down, but the earth was too sodden and heavy. The Orcs, glad of a diversion from endless digging, jeered and hurled abuse. One or two Elves levelled their muskets, but Orcs were fifty yards away, doubtful musket range, and the rain was still pouring down.

Sergeant Harpy caught up with Sharke.

"Bloody chaos, Soir!" He grinned cheerfully.

Captain Ripper looked at Sharke.

"Shouldn't we do something?"

Sharke shrugged. "See if anyone's missing?"

There wasn't much else to be done until the armed guard companies could organise an attack on the busy Elves.

An Engineer officer ran towards the Elves. He was shouting at the working parties that were still scrambling for safety.

"Keep your spades! Keep your spades, damn you!"

It had taken dozens of ox carts to bring the precious tools here and now they were being casually abandoned to the Elves. Sharke recognised the Orc as Colonel Flayer, the Chief Engineer. A few Orcs turned back to pick up their spades and the leading Elf troops tugged the rags off their locks, aimed and shot. It was a miracle that any fired, but three were dry enough and Colonel Flayer tumbled backwards, clawing at his groin. There were cheers from the Elves in the parallel. The Grenadier Company came running past Sharke and Harpy, muskets at the trail, with Captain Leery at their head. He had his inevitable cigar in his jaws, sodden and unlit, and as he ran past Sharke, sword in his fist, he raised his eyebrows in ironic acknowledgement of the chaos. There was another company just ahead and Leery halted his troops next to them. The East Valonian Orc spat out a mouthful of chewed-up cigar and looked back at Sharke.

"Want to join in?"

(Apologies to Bernard Cornwell)

The Siege Lines at Badjobz

Badjobz is a formidable fortress city which the Orc army has already besieged twice unsuccessfully. The city has an ancient castle and rivers on two sides as well as updated artillery defences. These surround the city with eight bastions thirty feet high fronted by a deep ditch and with glacis, connected by a twenty-five foot counterscarp. Behind these lay the stone city wall, covered by ravelins which are incomplete but still give considerable protection. As well as all these works, Badjobz also has four outpost forts covering the main line of defence and providing points from which the garrison may counter attack.

Wheeling-Turn's engineers have determined that the best way to take such a well protected fortress without catastrophic casualties is to borrow an idea from the Dwarves. Their siege tactics involve digging towards an enemy fortress and setting up batteries to breach the walls. The work begins by digging a zig-zag communication trench towards the fortress and then branching left and right at intervals to form parallels which will in turn be used to construct batteries first for suppression and then for breaching. This requires careful surveying and enormous engineering effort. It's back breaking and monotonous work, made worse by the conditions and the lack of opportunity for a scrap. At the time of the Elf attack, the Orcs have dug their main communication trench and are well into the left hand parallel with the right hand parallel, which is much longer, proceeding more slowly. The plan is to capture the Lady Nina fort guarding the Kayleigh dam to provide a platform for breaching batteries and to deny an important defensive work to the garrison.

The Ferach Elves

The force sallying out of the Kayleigh fort is a reinforced composite battalion made up of Voltigeur and Grenadier companies from the line Battalions stationed in the fortress city. There are fifteen Companies involved in the assault, a total of around 1,000 Elves. They are attacking a section of the parallel approximately 450 yards long and sweeping along it to the left and right to cause maximum disruption to the Orc working parties. Obviously in game terms we can reproduce the entire attack, but given the width of frontage and nature of the action it can be easily brought down to Platoon or Section level. For the purposes of this scenario I will look at a Section level game; for Platoon level just increase the size of the playing area and double the number of figures, adding an HQ Section as well*.

Your unit is First Section, Voltigeur Company, 2e Battalion, 57e Regiment de Ligne, a Regular Line Regiment with numerous battle honours whose nickname (bestowed by Mordred himself) is Le Terrible. First Section is commanded by Sergeant Montage, a career professional who's been a soldier since long before the rise of gunpowder. Montage is Experienced and armed with a musket and bayonet. His Section consists of thirteen Voltigeurs (although by an odd Regimental tradition they are referred to as Fusiliers, like their Battalion Company comrades). Section 2 i/c is Corporal Detent, who is Average and armed with a musket and bayonet. Of the other twelve Elves in the Section, three are Average and nine Raw, and all are armed as Montage and Detent, although one of them has looted himself a sword as well. As part of the raiding force you have been tasked with assisting in the destruction of the Orc parallel and, more importantly, with taking as many picks and spaces as possible. Every tool removed will give a reward of a silver piece so the incentive to succeed is strong. Stealing picks and spaces may not be very heroic, but Montage has impressed on the Section it's importance and they are keen to succeed.

You can also give the Elves skills, traits and flaws using the rules found in Flintloque 3rd Edition.

The Orcs

Working parties digging the parallels are made up of detachments from all the Regiments involved in the siege.

In the stretch of trench targeted by Sergeant Montage's Section is a composite working party made up of Regular Line and Elite Orcs.

In command is Lieutenant Sharke of the Rifles, an Elite, who is accompanied as always by his Bog Orc Sergeant, Harpy, also Elite. They are both Experienced. Sharke is carrying his sword and Harpy a bayonet, but they are otherwise unarmed.

You can use the updated stats for Sharke and Harpy from Alternative Armies' supplement Sharke's Chosen here.

Their working party is made up of six Regular Line Orcs, two Average and four Raw, who are all unarmed. Alternatively you may use the Orc Rifles of Sharke's Section, as described in Flintloque but unarmed, to portray the working party (four Elite, two Average, two Raw).

Backing the working parties up are a Grenadier Company detailed as a guard detachment. It will take them 1D6 turns to get organised and launch a counter attack, consisting of a Section of nine Regular line Orcs. They are armed with muskets and bayonets, one is Experienced, three Average and six Raw.

As with the Elves, you can give the Orcs skills, traits and flaws using the rules found in Flintloque 3rd Edition.

Terrain, Conditions and Set-up

sharkes-shovels-map 

The weather during the siege of Badjobz is awful, alternating between fog, rain and a combination of the two, not to mention freezing cold most of the time. The movement modifier for rain, and the firing modifier for rain apply (Flintloque 3rd Edition rules for weather can be found in Grapeshotte). If a misfire occurs the weapon does not explode but means the powder is so wet the weapon cannot be fired again for the rest of the game. The terrain is fairly flat but uneven. The Orc parallel is deep enough to count as a high wall for the purposes of climbing in and out, and wide enough for six figures to stand abreast.

Because they are using picks and spades and there is timber for revetments in the trench the working party may fight using these items as improvised weapons (either large or small by mutual consent of players and umpire). They can either begin the game in the Irene to meet the Elves or flee from them and counter attack with the Grenadier Section: Roll a D6 to see whether they stand or run: 1-3 they stand, 4-6 they run.

Each Elf may carry up to four picks or spade but if they are carrying more than one, they may not attempt to use their musket without first dropping their burden. A full load of tools means the Elf carrying them is subject to the "Carrying Heavy Object" Hand-To-Hand Combat Modifier for the first turn of combat (after which it is assumed the Elf drops his burden). Attempting to climb out of the parallel with more than one tool adds half a turn to the time it takes, but throwing the pick or spade over the parapet and then climbing out costs no extra time.

*Note on High Elf Unit Organisation:

Throughout this article I have stuck to the unit designations referred to in Flintloque, but I offer the following for those of you who may wish to give your Elves a different organisation to the Orcs.

A High Elf Line Infantry Regiment consists of four Battalions. Each Battalion is made up of six companies: Grenadier and Voltigeur (Elite Companies, and four Fusilier Companies (Battalion Companies). In action organisation is flexible, tailored to suit different needs using the terms 'Division', 'Platoon' and 'Section' which refer to formations and not sub-units. A 'Division' is a tactical unit of two Companies, used when all six Companies of a Battalion operate together. When the Elite Companies are detached the Battalion operates by 'Platoon', each Company being referred to as a 'Platoon'. Half-Companies operating independently are known as "Sections'. Therefore it can be seen that what the Orcs would refer to as a Platoon (a half-Company), the Elves would call a Section, and where the Orcs call a detached Elite Company a company, the Elves would call it a Platoon. So the Elves do not in fact have an exact equivalent to the Orc Section, which is a half-Platoon, as the smallest Elf formation is a half-Company which is known as a section but is the size of an Orc Platoon. Similarly, an Elf Division is a two-Company grouping within a Battalion, but an Orcs Division is a collection of Regiments formed for tactical or administrative purposes. The Elven equivalent of an Orc Division is a Brigade. Confused? You will be.

~

Webmaster's Notes

The above scenario was originally published in the second issue of Wessex Games' Orcs in the Hills magazine in the Spring of 1996.

'Badajobz' became 'Badjobz' in Flintloque 3rd Edition and as such I have made slight amendments to the text. You can find out more about the battle in the Flintloque rulebook, War in Catalucia (5025).