Saturday, 27 May 2017

Game 51 & 52 : Friederichstadt, the approach to Dresden Sept 1813

It seems a long time since I last updated the blog with a battle. Things have still been frenetic at the Situation Room, even if the output has seemed lacking. The success of the Borodino game has "secured" the "juggernaut of a project" continuing with the same pace. The game for 2018 is planned to be Dresden in 1813. It has the importance of Austerlitz, in that had the other battles, the same day, gone Napoleon's way, then the 1813 campaign would have finished as a French victory.
So, the idea was to start play testing elements of the battle of Dresden. As it turns out, I already have all the key terrain features, the city walls, the lunettes and the Gross Garten, christened the "death star" in a previous incarnation!
The reader will have to do some "map looking up" before reading the short account. I decided to do the initial contacts in the area of Freiderichstadt, which is on the allied left flank as they approach Dresden from the south. The allied right of the battlefield was constrained by the Weisseritz stream and the left flank by the River Elbe.
As this was an encounter, with the allies having no real idea of what they were facing, it was a good time to test out how approaches might be done and see the difference between aggressive advance and careful methodical advance.
The French started with 3 second class line Btns on the battlefield and a Division of good light cavalry lead by Elite Vistula Legion Uhlans. French numbers would rise to 2 Infantry Divisions and 2 Light Cavalry Divisons, including the start numbers. The allies, all Austrian, would have double these numbers.

This is the Austrian advance on their left, Grenzers probing out in front. The French had no troops at all in this area, although a blank tile was deployed at the beginning of the game to invoke some fog of war and uncertainty as to which tiles had troops and which did not, the allied having no idea if they were all blanks or all had troops.

On the Allied right, a line infantry Division is advancing on a set of 3 villages, more or less et one behind the other. the centre of the battlefield has a wood, but there is a large open space after passing these features and the Dresden suburb of Friederichstadt. The French cavalry immediately move to engage the formed Austrian Btns. The real objective is for the a French to gain time to allow their reinforcements to arrive ands attempt to occupy the villages and form a solid defence in depth.

The Austrian columns have swept away the initial French defending Btn and continue to advance. It can already be seen that the Austrian cavalry is having problems in deploying in strength as space has already become an issue.

This pic is looking at the French forces, which are spread very thin! However, they are making best use of the space and this is helping mitigate to some extent against enemy numbers.

The Austrian advance, from the right in the pic, has cleared 2 of the 3 villages to their front. They continue to advance at pace, but the third and last village becomes a somewhat prickly thorn.

This shot is from the left rear of the third village which is the left flank of the French and the village on the left in the previous pic. It shows the whole battlefield. Nearly wall to wall Austrians advancing between the river and stream, infantry heavy on their right (foreground) and cavalry heavy on their left (background). French reserve infantry arrive in the nick of time to the rear of the third village and stabilise the entire French left flank.

A closer shot of the Austrian left flank. The cavalry have sorted themselves out and are now preparing to attack in successive formations.

The reserve French cavalry has also arrived and the initial French cavalry has had time to rest before the Austrian onslaught begins.

The cavalry of both sides clash. The winner would also win the day, as it would be clear that the other side would need to withdraw to ensure not being outflanked by a mass of cavalry.
Its a draw! Both sides manage to hold after committing their entire cavalry formations. We then called the battle, with honours even. The interesting part of the battle was to see how players cope with advancing into the unknown with large forces. The defender has it somewhat easier in that all initial moves are in reaction to the enemy. But cute tactics can gain time, the factor that the defender needs.

The seated men, myself & Graham, were French. Pete & Steve were the allies.
The next instalment will be another play test, this time Dresden fought on a grander scale from the Weisseritz to the Landgrabben, situated on the far side of the GrossGarten (deaths star). You'll see why next time.
As a final plug, the latest Companion book has been published and is available from Caliver. It is called,
Fighting the Russians, Before Russia 1805-1805.
It consists of the battles of Austerlitz, split into the northern & southern sectors, Eylau & Frieldand. I hope you buy it, it is worth the read and is full of maps, OBs and of course many pics from the actual games.

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!!