Friday, 11 October 2013

Game 19 : Austerlitz, the Southern Front

Having tested Aspern Essling to death, this game was to be new challenge in a variety of ways. This game would see 12 gamers, the maximum that I would want to do for the table size. This game would also see the "Command & Control" rules used for the first time. All rules were now in play.
Austerlitz is really too big a battle to do, even with 24' (8 metres) width if you want a decent troop density. I had already split the battle into 2 fronts when playing in 28mm, north and south and I picked the southern front for this game.
A problem with Austerlitz is that it does work better if neither side is really aware of the historical outcome, from deployment to events that occurred. To try and emulate this, I decided to be French and so fixed the French deployment to a largely historical one. For the allies, I found an amenable volunteer in Steve Miles to be the Commander in Chief and sent him a map, OB and a strategic background to the campaign so far and the present situation. I also gave a false date to hide the battle. I asked Steve to come up with a deployment and orders that were timed.
Amazingly enough, the allied plan virtually mirrored the historical plan with virtually all the allied columns in the historical positions.
Now it was to the game. Before showing lots of piccies, I will share some points that make these rules fundamentally different to existing rules and how this influences gaming.

The changes all really relate to 2 major changes, figure scale and the treatment of cavalry. Because units are larger in game turns, it takes a lot longer to degrade units. Simply put, 3 times longer. As a result, units that engage in melee early on tend to get a result that maintains the status quo because the units are still relatively fresh. Attacks have to be prepared and the enemy weakened or unformed. This is where artillery is also now different. A 12pdr battery blazing away at long range against an infantry unit will spend most of his time killing some men but unlikely to seriously damage any unit in the short term. Artillery is now most effective as a support weapon. You get the artillery into a position where it can attempt to support the attacks.

Cavalry now need space, and crucially, a proper reason to go charging all the over the place with no real purpose. Otherwise they will get degraded quite easily.

The order system has now completed the misery for the player who simply wants to go where he wants, when he wants. I grade Generals according to my interpretation of their historical ability or specific behaviour in a given battle.

Now, without further ado!

The allied plan was an extended left hook staring from the far left. The centre would advance when the 2 villages nearest were taken, Telnitz and Sokolnitz. The allies now new the game but things were in motion. The Russian right was to take the village to their front, seize the stream crossings and then hold. The village to their front was Puntowitz.

It was the French who were hampered initially by "command and control" as there was only 1 French General, St Hilaire, deployed thinly from Telnitz to Sokolnitz. This meant that the village of Telnitz fell fairly quickly and the defence in this area had to be undertaken from the far side of the Goldbach stream.

This was an immediate allied assault, led by Russian Grenadiers, on Sokolnitz. This would be the first of four major assaults, the French holding them all off (with some timely luck in places).

This is the allied advance between the Pheasantry (off camera to the right) and Puntowitz (off camera to the left) where the Austrian contingent was attempting to force the crossing of the Goldbach.

This is the allied highpoint on their right flank as they attack Puntowitz from 2 sides. The French would hold after the infantry combats because both sides were still relatively fresh.

This is a view that shows the assault on Sokolnitz in the foreground, allied columns advancing in the centre following their timed orders and the allies on their right, struggling to neutralise Puntowitz. I should have added earlier that the battle started with the area swathed in dense fog and formations were not allowed to even attempt to change orders (either side) until someone in the formation saw visible enemy troops. This worked well. The "fog" was controlled by a predetermined time when it would start lifting (known only to me) albeit the players were given indications based on how the fog had behaved on the previous few days.

This shows Russian troops, preceded by Jaegers, advancing on the Pheasantry. The feature was held by 2 Elite light infantry battalions, the Tirailleurs du Corses & du Po, who would hold onto this feature all day

A view of the whole battlefield, not long before the French hammer blow would fall on the allied right flank, roughly where Gordon (big oik at the end of the table) is standing.

The French, with Puntowitz stable, now start to attack with Vandamme, to the right of Puntowitz and up the Pratzen.

This shows the French attacking between Puntowitz and Pratzen village. The Russian guard can now be seen deployed, at the top of the picture, in an attempt to stop this flank attack.

This is a picky of the final major assault on Sokolnitz, from 2 sides. This assault was also checked. The battalion actually in the village, would end the day still in place (mainly because I couldn't get it out!).

This is the standard gallery picky of the players. We had quite a few newbies this time. From the left, is Neil, of Reinforcements by Post fame. It is not without his considerable help and understanding that this project has come on so far and relatively quickly.  Next from the left is Keith, picking his brains on building regs has been quite fruitful. Then we come to the guys on the right who all normally play together at home (gaming that is). Far right is Brian, just retired from teaching. Next is Iain, both famous and infamous from Boleyn's fame (ask no questions) who appears from his expression to be reminiscing about Boleyn's? Then comes Paul, usually seen propping up Iain at Boleyn's.

I included this one as it now includes Steve (in the loo apparently for the previous piccy) and also Iain who now seems to be back with us..?!?!?!

A last picky of the northern end showing the French assault up the Pratzen with the Russian Guard to the left being slowly but inexorably being pushed back and at the far end the remaining allied columns being checked.

All in all a good game, it had a very historic feel with the outcome mirroring the historical battle. This game will get some other outings and the game in December is now in planning, but what to do as it largely depends on the arrival of painted cavalry units. We will see no doubt!