Friday, 24 February 2017

Game 51 : Borodino, a new adventure begins

Hi All,
The was the battle of Borodino, truly in the Grandest Manner. The post is purely a flavour of the game, hopefully the start of many more in this way.
This was not at my Situation room but in a local hotel. 750 square feet of gaming table, 40,000+ figures, 22 players and a knackered me at the end of a whole weeks gaming!

The whole thing will be subject to a book in the "Companion Series" which compliment the "In the Grandest Manner" rules.

Here's the taster

The blank canvas. There were 3 tables, each 33' by 6' for the main sector and 2 tables, each 10' by 6 ' for the Utitsa section. About 750 square feet in all.

The Ged "patented transport system". Racks with clingfilm rapped round. Two friends transported all the figures and terrain in a precisely planned operation. A company neat York supplied the tables.

The playing surface is carpet, specially bought for the game the previous year. Each table is covered with a single piece of carpet which is then stapled to the table. The single piece of carpet helps give enormous strength to the tables.

The bespoke terrain features are added, along with copious amounts of sustaining ale!

The Great Redoubt with Russian reserves deployed deep.

A glimpse of the Redoubt and its proximity to Borodino.

We're off! Battle is joined along the whole table.

The start in my sector with a French Grand Battery deployed.
Next year, Dresden!!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Game 50 : Austerlitz Southern Front : The half century of games!

This game was the half century up. This is after about 6 years of gaming. Not bad! Now for the other half century!
This game was an old favourite, it can easily be played with fewer players. It was also the most tense Austerlitz we have ever fought, it went to the wire in at least three sectors.

The view from the Pratze village, looking South with the Pratzen in the immediate distance. The line of villages are off shot to the right along the Goldbach stream.

This is the diagonally opposite end of the battlefield at Tellnitz, looking north along the Goldbach. Sokolnitz is in the near distance in the centre top.

This is Sokolnitz and Sokolnitz castle viewed from the top of the Pratzen. An "ornamental garden" separates the village from the castle. Well, it did in this game!

The Pheasantry. Overgrown woody are surrounded by a wall. A big link in the defensive chain.

This is the height of the attack on Puntowitz on the far left of the French line. The village would hold out and would form the right hand hinge of the French counter-attack towards the Pratzen.

Kobelnitz under intense pressure. The front of the village would fall to the allies, but the rear areas would be held by the French. Casualties were high and it was a close call as French casualties mounted.

This is the Allied attack between the Pheasantry and Kobelnitz. The area was held by a French Dragoon division with artillery support and the Allies never quite had the space to organise an attack over the Goldbach.

The Pheasantry, a real humdinger! The Austrian Grenzers eventually wrestled control of the feature away from two Elite French light battalions, the Tirailleurs du Corse & Po. One of them actually died to a man, the other retired with over half casualties. The Grenzers had also paid dearly and further progress was impossible as the French shored up the gap with line infantry arriving just in time.

The Russian attacks around Sokolonitz village & castle were pressed home but repulsed. The arrival of Davout, with his veterans, again shored up this line quite effectively.

The castle proved to be an unmovable feature. Although it, itself, didn't cause huge casualties, the garrison were safe in its confines.

Tellnitz was a different situation. The French managed to hold the initial attacks but casualties seriously weakened the battalions and eventually the Russians drove the French from the village.  The Russians attempted to exploit this victory and were themselves assailed by the only reserves in this area, Davout's Dragoons who, with close artillery support, drove the Russians back to Tellnitz.

The French counter stroke begins in the distance, falling on the Russian exposed right flank. It was about to get messy! Kobelnitz was standing fast.

The Russians attempt to redeploy to face the new threat to their flank. French firepower would eventually cause the odd unit to retreat, causing the formation cohesion to be lost and individual battalions picked off.  The Russian would eventually retire from this trap.

The French counter stroke is now level with Puntowitz and driving onwards to the relief of Kobelnitz.

The left side of the French counter stroke is now ready to assail the Pratzen itself with the Guard cavalry deployed. They would engage their Russian counter parts and come out victorious.

Tellnitz being counter attacked. This was a superb game and the French nearly broke in four areas. They did at Tellnitz and had to organise a counter attack. The Pheasantry was lost, but the garrison from Kobelnitz was able to redeploy, just in time to cover the gap, as they themselves were relieved by the French counter stroke. But it was very very close.

It was cold in the first week of December. All experienced players and a good time was had over 10 days of wargaming. Next up is Borodino, with a difference. About 750 square feet of table, about double my existing table, and the full battle with 22 players. It will written up as a book, another in the Companion series where it will be the third. I will pick out some pics so you can see the actual event. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Game 49 : Austerlitz Northern Front revisited

Hi Guys,
This was a revisit to a game we have played before. Austerlitz, the northern sector, outside the fog and really a battle between each sides Cavalry reserves with two supporting infantry divisions.

Anyone who remembers this game will know of a large central hill, or really plateau, that controls the road to Olmutz which is the Allied lines of communication. The northern end of the battlefield has the village of Bosenitz and the southern end has the village of Blasowitz and the plateau is in between. It is a powerful defensive position where allied guns can dominate. The usual tactic is to try and take the flank villages, turn the flank of the enemy and then commit the cavalry reserve en masse. In fact, its the same tactic for both sides.
Except the Russians didn't do that! They occupied Blasowitz and positioned the other infantry division bang on the Olmutz road. This set the scene. The pic above shows the northern flank from the French side. Bosenitz has been bypassed and the French are trying to drive in the Russian right that is held by cavalry.

The same situation viewed from the Allied side. It would always give them a problem in that is really committed the Allies to a totally defensive posture. However, the French still had to turn this flank!

Next along the French line is part of the cavalry reserve advancing to protect the flank of the infantry above.

The southern edge saw the French advance with the heavies, two regiments were eventually forced to retire through horrendous overall casualties from the Allied artillery in the centre.

The French attack Blasowitz which is stoutly defended by the Russian Jaeger division. The fighting would eventually see the Russian Jaegers driven back and isolated in and around the village giving the French an opportunity to drive in the Allied left flank.

The Russians hold the centre in some strength. Mixed arms of infantry, artillery and cavalry in support. A tough nut!

The French are now making progress against the Allied left. This progress would increase in impetus, ultimately driving the Allies of the central Olmutz road. Allied cavalry is now having to turn and face and the infantry in the centre are about to be caught in a fight on two fronts.

Both sides now tried to confirm the outcome by launching heavy cavalry in the centre. Although the French managed to win the combats, the fighting at this point had no clear victor. Both sides would draw their breadth!

The highlight or the end, depending on your sides view. A clash of Austrian Cuirassiers against French Dragoons. It went the three rounds and the dice gods then intervened. A natural 9 for the French against a natural 1 for the Austrians. It was all over!! Carnage!!

Russian infantry retiring in order down the Olmutz road. The French have the day!!

A nice and sunny weekend for an Autumn game. Next stop is the 50th Game, Austerlitz the Southern front with some new twists!!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Game 48 : Bailen : the second go!

This is the same battle of Bailen, refought with the players switching sides. I won't go through all the planning detail but just give the highlights. The French elected to drive through the centre with the largest infantry formations, taking advantage of the semi-broken terrain that unformed cavalry. The wings would be cavalry heavy and be the flank guards. The Spanish plan was one of defence along the main line with the exception of the largest infantry division that would attack in the centre. They would exploit the same ground as the French were advancing over for the same reason; protection from cavalry. The Spanish also kept a division in reserve. 

The French left advancing. It comprised of 4 btns of infantry, 2 of them light infantry and supporting cavalry. The Spanish were holding the ridge line with a refused flank; taking advantage of the ridge protection. 

This is the Spanish left. The cavalry would engage the French cavalry to try and drive the flank protection away. The French infantry can be seen advancing in the centre.

The Spanish division advance against the French. There is likely to be battle in the semi broken ground with little or no cavalry interference.

The combat on the Spanish left with the cavalry is decisive. The French cut a swathe through the Spanish cavalry. The idea of driving back the French flank guard on this side has gone for the duration. The French centre would be able to advance with no worries on their right flank.

The Spanish advance in the centre stopped as soon as it started. One turn and a battalion took a few casualties and then decided to retreat. Being positioned as a lead battalion, it really stopped this advance in its tracks. The issue for the Spanish would be how to recover and not have this whole division rendered hors de combat.

On the French left, the advance against the ridge involves taking a key wood which is being contested by light infantry from both sides. Ownership of the wood gives control of the whole of the ridge by looking down its length. It is a natural anchor point.

The French left centre, supported by cavalry, now has the ridge line open to them. The Spanish infantry, lacking cavalry in this sector at this time, would not be able to hold and would soon yield the ridge.

The same position but seen from the French side.


The French right centre is now advancing to the ridge line as well. Despite spirited Spanish resistance, the French infantry were able to keep some Spanish infantry retreating and stop any co-ordinated Spanish counter in this sector.

Viewed from the French left, the whole Spanish line has retired from the ridge to attempt the formation of a fresh defensive position. French artillery, now deployed on the ridge, is able to give effective fire support. Spanish artillery has been driven away with some significant losses.

This was the last turn. The Spanish centre was in flight and running headlong into Bailen but had just successfully changed orders to retire which would probably allow it to defend the centre and rear of Bailen itself. We called it at this point. A French victory was declared. The games were great, not least in that everyone thought that the Spanish behaved as players perceived they should. Moments of brilliance mingled with unfathomable hesitation and disruption. This was achieved by the simple manipulation of morale classes, random General ability for each and every morale test and the use of the roster sheet top reflect the brittleness.

Well, here we are. Graham and myself were Spanish in the first game and French is this one. Bob & Herbert were here for both games on the opposite side. We all declared it a great success.
Next stop is Austerlitz, the northern sector. Some new ideas to try with national characteristics being applied to the order change system. So keep an eye out for that battle!!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Game 47 : Bailen 1808

This battle had a number of firsts. It was the first Peninsular battle that has been played. As the Brits are yet to arrive, I decided to try the classic battle where the Spanish achieved their only sole noted victory. As usual,
I'll leave the reader to investigate the books at to what precipitated the battle and why. In a nutshell, a French Provisional Corps has to break through the lines of a Spanish army to escape back onto their supply lines. They have 600 wagons in tow and so the objectives are clear. The French need to clear the heights and main road in front of Bailen, then clear Bailen and then be able to march off the battlefield via the main and only road.
The Spanish have a good defensive line of heights in front of the town. In essence, if the hill is taken and the Spanish are in disarray, then the French objective has really been met.
Terrain considerations also require some thought. Maps of the battle are inconsistent with regards to how much area was wooded and how deep were the woods. I decided to adopt a simple solution to reflect lightly wooded and broken ground areas. I used the fields to represent an area where visibility was limited but infantry were not affected in terms of order/disorder. The same are would count all mounted troops or limbered artillery as disordered. This simple approach breaks up the terrain in a way where infantry are free to move and cavalry have to pick their ground. I used woods to represent woods as we normally understand them.
The next biggest problem is how to reflect the historic behaviour of the Spanish, with regards to their morale, without making the outcomes too predictable. For both armies I adopted a variable morale system and utilised the casualty roster sheets to reflect tenacity and effectiveness as attrition is suffered.
Every troop type, for each army, had a table where the morale of the troops was variable. I'll use the French as an example.
Take French line infantry. The basis is that the line infantry were raw conscripts that had been trained on the march. Their elan was reasonable.
So, as a morale test is required and not before, a 1d6 roll is made.
On a 6, the unit is Seasoned, 4,5 1st class, 2,3 2nd class and on a 1, militia.
This is done for each unit. Unit types had different ratings and chances.
French Dragoons had 5,6 Seasoned, 2,3,4 1st class, 1, 2nd class.
The last factor are the roster sheets. Irrespective of morale class, the roster used was for 1st class. The reason for this is explained at the end of the Spanish notes.
Using the same approach, the Spanish Infantry had the following, 5,6 1st class, 3,4 2nd class, 1,2 militia. The roster sheet used, irrespective of morale class, was for militia.
The morale ratings are based on my research on the troops at the time. The roster used reflects my view that the Spanish were, on the whole, more brittle. The effect would be that is a one to one trade of volleys, French troops would likely stay longer.
The beauty of the system allows many variations to be used and allows the designer to paint whatever picture he wants. Now the pics! 

This Bailen itself. The escape road exits at the bottom and in the distance can be seen the main defence line that the Spanish hold and the French must break. The exit road heads east.

This is the ridge line starting at the northern most end of the Spanish line.
This is to the south of Bailen showing the church as it is pretty!
The French tactic was to have a very weak centre screened with cavalry and strong flanks to try and turn the Spanish on both wings. The Spanish had elected for a right hook at the northern end of the battlefield with their strongest infantry formation and where possible engage the French cavalry to try and prevent the French from using combined arms. The above shows the Spanish and French both advancing.

This is the same action taken from the French side. This battle would rage all weekend. The cavalry from both sides would hew chunks out of each other without any great result. The Spanish infantry, without organised Spanish cavalry support would get nowhere, advancing a foot and then having to break off as their advance was checked and then thrown back by the French. In turn, the French infantry could not easily advance as their own cavalry was continuously engaged by the Spanish cavalry.

The action at the southern end of the battlefield was the same, except it was a major French push from their right flank with their best infantry (there is a Swiss brigade in the army).
The attack was checked by a large amount of Spanish cavalry and some infantry. The resulting engagement was bloody. The Spanish infantry were eventually driven back but the French infantry suffered when a Spanish Lancer regiment got in amongst them and broke at least 3 btns.

The above shows the overall result at the southern end of the battlefield. Their is an impasse as both sides regroup to have a go again. The French can still attack, the Spanish are still holding the line. 

At the top of the picture is the typical action at the northern end. At the end of the weekend , it looked like the troops were virtually in the same position that they had started in, especially the Spanish. Overall, the French had advanced by about 2 feet, but the Spanish line was still intact.

This is from the centre where I managed to get things lined up perfectly on about 4 occasions only for some Spanish unit to not do what was wanted. It appeared very apt and Spanish, if somewhat exasperating!
The end of the battle saw the French slowly forcing the southern end of the ridge but the remainder still under Spanish control. The Spanish line was also intact and continuous. The French flanks were secure but the weak centre was coming under pressure, albeit very slowly. So a draw really. Another factor that makes this interesting is that the game has been played again, with the players now on the opposite sides. That report will be next!!