Last night we picked up our dice and measuring sticks and continued the Smolensk game. The game has developed into two distinct parts. One part is the fighting on the southern bank of the Dnieper around the suburbs and walls of the old city and the other is on the northern bank where the French are having great difficultiy in deploying.
French infantry advance past the outlying suburbs towards the walls of Smolensk itself.
It's probably easier and quicker to deal with the northern sector first. Dom's Polish troops having been delayed by poor dice throws in their deployment have all but stopped advancing due to the large force of Russian cavalry to their front. Their own cavalry is unable to help as they have the same deployment area and are therefore blocked by the infantry. To make matters worse the strategically important village which covers the Dnieper crossing point in the area has been taken by the Russians. Without this village there will be no chance for the French to switch troops from the southern bank and achieve an envelopment of Smolensk. The only real action that has occured so far was a cavalry melee which saw a regiment Russian uhlans heavily defeat a regiment of French lancers.
Poles about to form square in the face of Cuirassier and uhlans
On the southern bank of the Dneiper the Russian left flank was secured by the defeat of Grouchys' dragoons last week and this has allowed the Russian infantry reinforcements to advance unhindered towards Smolensk. The French have now countered by deploying the Young Guard in support of Grouchy's remaining cavalry but the Russians should have ample cavalry to neutralise them.
Nick's enthusiasm to get to grips with the last dragoons costs him dearly as skirmishers and volley fire take a heavy toll of his cavalry.
Things have gone much better for the French on their left flank. Both of the corps advancing on Smolensk have taken the outlying suburbs which were their initail objectives and have defeated the Russian forces in front of them. The problem they now face is where to go from here. The walls of Smolensk are deemed too high to be assaulted and the only way in is through the gates. Any assaulting unit will be bound to take heavy casualties from the defenders and will be unsupported in any melee once they do get in. The trick seems to be to cross troops over the Dneiper and encircle Smolensk but as previously mentioned this will be very difficult as the ford is now commanded by a Russian held village.
Westphalian infantry take a breather after capturing their first objective.
The Russians haven't had it all their own way so far. Those defenders who were positioned outside the city walls have now nearly all been put to flight or as in the case of one brave guard battalion, cut down to a man. This has left the Russian commander with a difficult situation caused by the fleeing troops desperately trying to get into Smolensk. Coming in behind these routing troops will probably be the best and only real chance that the French will have of taking Smolensk at the point of the bayonet.
Russian infantry routing back into Smolensk. Perhaps a golden opportunity for the Gallic hordes.
So far the game is nicely balanced and I wouldn't want to call it either way. The French will have to be aggressive and inventive, and the Russians tenacious. So all in all a game tailored to suit their respective characteristics. We reconvene next wednesday and I for one am looking forward to it.