Thursday, 25 April 2019

Game 74 : Rivoli 1797

This was the battle of Rivoli. It is set in Northern Italy where an Austrian Army is attempting to push aside a French blocking force and then relieve Mantua. If the French keep the field, then Mantua will fall. The terrain is based on a set of wooded hills that the French defend. The French right flank is bordered by a River that is unfordable. Again, I'll let the reader look up the map. The French army is slightly higher quality than the Austrians, but the Austrians have the numbers. One significant rule amendment we used was that "Attack Columns" do not yet exist in anyone's tactical doctrine. Firefighting is the game of the day and then charges to exploit weakened units. Light infantry are also at a premium for both sides, slightly more with the French.


The Austrians attacked across their front, a large force on their left flank. The French facing this force was composed entirely of cavalry as there was not enough infantry to stretch the whole contested front. The French infantry would try to use the terrain to negate the Austrian numbers.


This was the Centre which was dominated by a wooded hill. Both sides contested this as control of it by the Austrians would undo the overall French position. The French managed to hold this all day and at the last attempted a counter attack through this area.


Moving to the French left flank where the Light infantry from both sides were contesting a series of woods. Another "game" rule was that all skirmishers were Class III, the lowest available, in recognition that the art of skirmish warfare had not yet been perfected by either side.


The French far left where a village is being held by a single battalion with 2 more in support. They are outnumbered by about 3:1. The rule of no Attack Columns has a significant affect as trying to force results with firepower and limited charging opportunities "slows" the combat.


The Austrians have secured the village. They are finding it hard to manoeuvre further forward as French lines deliver volley fire to their flanking battalions, forcing them back.


The battle in the centre was quite bloody, but volley fire was the order of the day as battalions, needing space, found it difficult to charge enemy without becoming unformed through defensive and support fire.


This is the Austrian left where there is a major cavalry engagement. Both sides have infantry on the flanks of the combat, pouring in defensive support fire. The results were many empty saddles, both sides becoming unformed and the cavalry fighting each other to the halt.


Towards the end of the battle where the French attempt to counter attack through the centre. It was at this point that we called the game, a gentlemanly draw!


Play Test 1


French Formations
Losses %
Austrian Formations
Losses%
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Emperor Napoleon



D’Alvincy



Joubert
-
-
42
Lusignan
-
-
8
1st Brigade
14
-
-
Infantry Brigade
12
-
-
2nd Brigade
41
-
-




Cavalry Brigade
-
0
-
Reuss
-
-
0




Infantry Brigade
6
-
-
Massena
-
-
0
Cavalry Brigade
-
0
-
1st Brigade
10
-
-




2nd Brigade
11
-
-
Vukassovich
-
-
25




Infantry Brigade
24
-
-
Rey
-
-
0
Cavalry Brigade
-
13
-
1st Brigade
8
-
-




2nd Brigade
0
-
-
Koblos
-
-
0
Cavalry Brigade
-
9
-
Infantry Brigade
0
-
-








Leclerc
-
-
100
Ocskay
-
-
4
1st Cavalry Brigade
-
13
-
Infantry Brigade
0
-
-
2nd Cavalry Brigade
-
21
-
Cavalry Brigade
-
13
-












Liptay
-
-
0




Infantry Brigade
8
-
-

I've listed the casualties as usual. Formations ranged from 2 to 4 for infantry and cavalry. There was little artillery on either side.


Initially, I was going to umpire the battle but the 2 others forced me to play. Then it was me running around as French fighting off a Scotsman and an Austrian, quite an eclectic mix!! Next game will be some other gamers fighting the same battle. With fewer players, the smaller battles are playing well. After that is a new biggy with a further development of the rules included.
Until then...……...


Monday, 25 March 2019

Game 73 : Wagram - Large scale!

This game was the Battle of Wagram 1809. It was played at a local hotel in Scarborough where an enormous game is played once a year, over a week. This battle we managed to play twice, a French victory and then turned the game around, more like players switching sides. The idea here is not to go over the actual battle in detail but to use the pics to demonstrate what can be done with 10mm and to also demonstrate how "realistic" it looks with the large formations.


The above pic shows French Reserves deployed at the start of the game. To make the look impressive, all troops are deployed on table. It also saves a lot of time and fuss trying to find troops on trays if hidden movement is used.


This is an even longer shot of the rear table with French Reserves. Table length is 33.5 feet.


The initial Austrian assault on Anderklaa which is on the Austrian right flank. The village will fall to the Austrian Grenadiers, but the whole area will never get cleared of French. As the battle develops the French will attempt to retake the village.


This shows Oudinot's initial advance against Baumersdorf in the centre of the Austrian deployment. After protracted fighting, the area would come under French dominion. But having got the village is one thing, crossing the stream successfully is another question; and battle!


The Austrian Avant Garde, on the Austrian left, launched a surprise attack against the French in the form of Davout and his crack Corps. It would take a long time for the French to stabilise the position and then beat of the Austrian attack.


A close up of the Austrian Hussars in the Avant Garde pushing forward.


An aerial view of the attack on Baumersdorf seen from the Austrian side at the bottom.


This is the Austrian Grenadier assault on Anderklaa. Just a few men committed to the assault!!
The above is a taster of the battle. My intention is to fully describe the battle in another Companion book, hopefully later this year. As always, anyone is welcome to attend the games as are also welcome to try a game at the Situation room. 
If you like beer, curry, large armies, meaningless discussion and a lot of wargames, all encompassed in a convivial setting with good hospitality, then why not pop in and have a look.

The next game will be early Napoleonics, the Battle of Rivoli.


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Game 72 : Talavera

This was the battle of Talavera. It was the annual "birthday" week which is played in early December. This year it was my birthday again (we take turns) and it happened to be my 60th! That means I've been wargaming 56 years!! Up to the age of 11 I thought I was the only person buying Airfix soldiers. I can even remember the poses from a multitude of ranges. I remember my first purchase were Brit Paratroopers and they were giants compared against other soldiers, like the German Infantry with the PzBsch ATG.
At 11, I met Brendan at Grammar school and he had some board games. The first was Dover Patrol, then he got Tri-Tactics followed by the Aviation game which name eludes my memory. Lastly was the Infantry style game, currently called Strategico but that was not the original name. At the same age, we went to the local Wargames club in Hartlepool, then the rest is now history!!


My wife, Anne, has a good sense of humour. She needs it looking after me and all the players who come to the Situation room and those that attend the week's Supa-game in a local hotel in Scarborough. The really amazing part for all you gamers, it was Anne's idea that I do this project. And no, you can't have her, she is all mine!!!!

The battle was Talavera with a lot more British troops. There were some "rule tweaks" to reflect the fighting in the Peninsular and also two major rule extensions. The tweaks were a morale modifier for British troops in column as opposed to line and one for the French when they were in line as opposed to column. Simple, but it encourages players to adopt the appropriate formations for maximum affect.

The first major rule extension was allowing skirmish companies, from parent battalions, to be deployed using the same mechanics as Light battalions. In addition, the British had "specialist" Light companies, the 95th & 60th Rifles being examples, where they were deployed as companies attached to the nearest close order British battalion. The effect of this was immediate. French troops tended to remain in columns as they now had an effective skirmish screen in their own right and British troops, when using their specialist light companies, could match French skirmisher numbers. When you followed the battle afterwards, it was "spooky" to see how the tactics exactly reflected those used historically. For me, any rules that see players actually adopt the tactics used historically, with no other coaching, goes a long way telling me that the rules are working well.

The second rule extension was to drop the organisation down to Brigade level. I'll go through the Brigade rules at another time, but they are relatively simple.

Now to the game. And wargamers!! So this would be Talavera with a twist! The Allies deployed historically, as it is a sensible plan. The French, well, the old plan went out of the window. The French decided to have a weak centre held mainly by Dragoons and to attack both flanks, the left through all the vineyards in front of Talavera, on the basis that the main assaults would be against Spanish and the hope was they would crumble.


This is the main attack on the French left. It intends to drive directly on Talavera, with the Tagus on its left flank. The hope is that the Spanish will break and unhinge the whole of the Allied line and as a result the British will have to retire without effectively being in the battle.


 The French Dragoons are massed in the Centre, the link between the two French wings. A consequence of this was the nullification, as an infantry threat, of the French Dragoons and a French acceptance that they were, in effect, fighting two separate infantry battles.


This is looking at the Allied redoubt, on the left flank of the extensive vineyards in front of Talavera. You can see the walls of Talavera right at the rear left on this pic. The redoubt was occupied by two Spanish 12pdr batteries. The redoubt is supported by a Spanish infantry division which is flanked on both sides by Spanish cavalry.


This is the French right flank where the main assault is being angled at the junction of the Spanish on the extreme Allied left flank and the main British line. The Spanish on the extreme left suffered throughout the battle from poor command and control as Cuesta, with a rating of Abysmal, was on the Allied right with the main Spanish force.


Back to the French Centre left. The French have cleared the Spanish from the forward vineyards and are now approaching the main Spanish defences that includes some quickly made earth/timber defences and the walled enclosure of a church. The Spanish would be eventually pushed back from this position, but then the British had arrived!


Spanish cavalry launches an attack to the left of the redoubt. The aim is to threaten the French infantry on their flank as they negotiate the vineyards and to draw the French Dragoons into a battle of attrition under the 12pdr guns from the redoubt.


The main British line is quiet. The British would detach brigades to both flanks to aid the Spanish.


The French are pushing hard with their left flank attack. Even the Polish Light Horse have been ordered to attack along the road towards Talavera.


An impasse now exists on the French left. A British brigade (had to use Nassauer figures for now) have arrived and duly formed into an extensive firing line. The French advance is now checked. The Spanish on the far right of their line have held just behind the church. The French assault peter out on this flank.


The Spanish cavalry assault the French Dragoons under the support fire of their 12pdrs. The Spanish held the ground after this fight but the French refused to break. It would result tin both sides retiring to reform their ranks.


In the meantime, the French had moved up infantry to assault the redoubt. Despite a courageous defence, the Spanish were driven from the redoubt. The French victory was short lived as behind the redoubt, British firing lines started to wreak havoc on the rallying French. This was the French high point in this sector where they then retired to the front of the redoubt to seek shelter. This would end the combat in this sector.


On the French right, the story was more or less the same. The Spanish were driven back after some sustained fighting, but the arrival of British reinforcements would bolster the position and hamper any further French advance. We then called the game. It was a very hard game for the Spanish as the French concentrated all their main efforts in defeating them. It was the timely arrival of British infantry reinforcements, and their associated firepower, that held the French at bay. A great game!


Play Test 1


French Formations
Losses %
British Formations
Losses%
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
I Corps Victor
-
-
0
Wellington
-
-
0
Ruffin
-
-
0
Sherbrooke



Ruffin 1st Bde
21
-
-
H Campbell Bde
17
-
-
Ruffin 2nd Bde
16
-
-
Cameron Bde
0
-
-
Ruffin 3rd Bde
3
-
-
Langwoth Bde
1
-
-




Low Bde
3
-
-
Lapisse
-
-
0




Lapisse 1st Bde
17
-
-
Hill



Lapisse 2nd Bde
11
-
-
Tilson Bde
13
-
-
Lapisse 3rd Bde
7
-
-
R Stewart Bde
58
-
-
Lapisse 4th Bde
4
-
-








Mackenzie



Vilatte
-
-
0
Mackenzie Bde
6
-
-
Vilatte 1st Bde
8
-
-
Donkin Bde
0
-
-
Vilatte 2nd Bde
14
-
-




Vilatte 3rd Bde
0
-
-
Campbell



Vilatte 4th Bde
0
-
-
A Campbell Bde
8
-
-




Kemmis Bde
0
-
-
I Corps Cavalry Bde
-
24
-








Payne



IV Corps Sebastiani



Fane Bde
-
0
-
Sebastiani
-
-
13
Cotton Bde
-
0
-
Sebastiani 1st Bde
3
-
-
Anson Bde
-
3
-
Sebastiani 2nd Bde
21
-
-




Sebastiani 3rd Bde
6
-
-
Spanish Formations



Sebastiani 4th Bde
3
-
-
Cuesta







Zayas
11
-
0
Leval
-
-
2
Ballasteros
1
-
0
Leval 1st Bde
13
-
-
Iglesias
26
-
0
Leval 2nd Bde
4
-
-
Portago
6
-
4
Leval 3rd Bde
10
-
-
Manglano
4
-
0




Bassecourt
3
-
0
IV Corps Cavalry Bde
-
3
0
Henestrosa
-
16
4




Alburquerque
-
6
0
Armee d’Espagne







Latour : 1st Division
-
-
0




Latour 1st Bde
-
0
-




Latour 2nd Bde
-
0
-












Milhaud : 2nd Division
-
-
0




Milhaud 1st Bde
-
0
-




Milhaud 2nd Bde
-
16
-












Garde d’Espagne : Desolles
-
-
0




Garde Cav Bde
-
14
-




Garde 1st Bde
1
-
-




Garde 2nd Bde
7
-
-




Garde 3rd Bde
6
-
-













The Spanish losses reflect those formations that fought in place and those that were forced back through morale failures. French infantry losses were slowly mounting, reflecting the increased resistance as they came across British troops. Stewart suffered heavy losses as his Brigade fought off a major French assault single handedly but managed to hold their position until pulled out of the line. 


Rogue's gallery for the game. We had to take the picture indoors, a bit cold in December outside!
The next report will be a brief account of the game we hold in the hotel every January. The 2019 game was Wagram. Huge armies as usual, a huge table and 20 generals. Watch this space!