Tuesday, 30 June 2009

More Leipzig Pictures

There's no game night this week as we're driving up to Scarborough to refight Bautzen. So as Neil kindly sent me a load of photos from our current game I thought it would be a good idea to share some with you.
This first one is taken from the Allied viewpoint looking at the French right and centre. In the top left corner the Warriors of Holy Russia can bee seen advancing to test their mettle against the French 12th Division. Fortunately for the French their position is masked from the Russian's six gun battery by a hill, which has meant the Russian infantry have had to assault without fire support.
Here's a shot of the same area from the French side, the advancing Russian infantry can be seen in the distance. Meanwhile on the Left flank of the French, the allies attempt to support the Russians with heavy cavalry, comes up against a twelve pounder battery with its flanks covered by infantry in square.

Another shot from the Allied side of the table, this time showing the French left. The French have been able to take control of the furthest village and the orchard on its eastern edge and this position has been the focus of some heavy fighting with Eric' Prussians attempting to dislodge Andys' defenders. There still quite a bit of fighting to be done in this area.

The French centre held by Dom's Swiss about to be assaulted by Prussian infantry. Neil is using his cavalry to pin the French position to give his infantry time to move up. In the background Russian cuirassier switched from the left are also closing in for the kill.

And finally, a shot from the French right across most of the battlefield, I think this must be around turn seven or eight as there are two seperate assaults going in on the French left and centre.

That's it for this lot, the blog next entry will be a report on our visit to the WHC with lots more lovely photos.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Campaign Leipzig

Wednesday night saw the first 9 turns of our mini campaign game which is being fought just East of Leipzig. Dom's French hold the southern half of the table with Neil's mix of Prussians and Russians attacking from the North and East. I've put the initial deployments on to the map French in Blue, Prusso-Russians in grey. The units are as follows:

12th Div
11 Bns (36 figs)
8lb Foot Bty
Regt Lt cav (24 figs)
12 skirmishers

13th Div
10 Bns (36 figs)
8lb Foot Bty
Regt Lt Cav (24 figs)
12 Skirmishers

14th Div
10 Bns (36 figs)
6lb Foot Bty
Regt Lancers (24 figs
12 Skirmishers

2nd Cav Div
2 Regts Hvy Cav (32 figs)
6lb Horse Bty

Resrve Artillery
12lb Foot Bty

Div (Kleist) P2
11 Bns (32 figs)
12lb Foot Bty
2 Sqn Lt Cav (6 figs)
12 Skirmishers

Div (Pirch) P1
10 Bns (32 figs)
8lb How Bty
2 Sqn Lt Cav (6 figs
12 Skirmishers

Div (Tolstov) P3
10 Bns (32 figs)
6lb Foot Bty
4 Sotnias Cossacks (5 figs)
18 Skirmishers

Hvy Cav Div
2 Regts Hvy Cav (24 figs)
1 Regt Cuirassier (32 figs)

As with the Plauen game I'm going to leave the write up to the two comanders as it seems to have been so well received. I can say that the action has been quite heavy particularly around the two villages to the front of the French position and there's been a decent sized duff up on the French right flank. All will be revealed in time.

There's no game night next week as we're all off to the Wargames Holiday Centre for the weekend to refight Bautzen. We will of course come back with a full report and plenty of photos from that game.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Battle Chronicler

I was idling away an hour or two the other day trawling through various wargames blogs when I came across Battle Chronicler. It's basically a map making utility designed specifically for wargamers. The annoying thing is that try though I might I can't now find the specific blog where I came across it as I'd like to give due credit to the author. Anyway as you can see from the picture it's quite a clever bit of kit and I was able to come up with the terrain for our next battle in about 40 mins. You have my word that if I can do it then anyone can, I still can't understand why electricity doesn't dribble out of plug sockets and form pools on the carpet.

The picture of course doesn't show half of what BC is capable of, for instance you can define unit sizes, not just numbers but by base size and number of bases. You can define the size of the battlefield in feet or centimetres and all of the dimensions are relative to each other. If you're computer literate and artistic you can design your own terrain components and best of all you can update the battle as it occurs simply by dragging the units to new positions.

It is at the moment still quite new so there will be the odd glitch and the selection of terrain components has some growing to do but it's free to download from the link below and certainly in my opinion worth a go.

The battle in question is the next in our mini campaign. The Prusso-Russians of Neil Braddon have decided to impose themselves upon the Dom's French Corps just East of Leipzig. Dom had choice of terrain and opted for the southern half of the table, Neil is attacking from the North and East. Both sides have a full corps made up from their allotted 4000 points and the battle will get under way tomorrow night. I've had a lot of favourable feedback from the commanders reports so hopefully we'll be able to do that again.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Plauen: French Commanders Report

And now for the French view, full of angst and self recrimination and stuff.
Despite an obvious numerical advantage and knowing roughly where the Austrian reinforcements would arrive planning the attack proved trickier than expected. Not knowing how far in the Austrians would start I decided to ignore the village on my right and concentrate on the centre village and then look to strike with 2 divisions to the left village which would be defended by the Austrians.
By concentrating on a narrow frontage I hoped to bring vast numbers to bear on hopefully a weak Austrian front. The big difference in planning this battle to most of those I have previously fought is the “campaign factor”. In a single game there is no real reward for caution and everything tends to just get thrown against the enemy. Had this been a stand alone encounter my plan would undoubtedly have been different, however as it is a campaign game throwing away troops in a foolish attack would not be a wise idea, I would need these men again.
A balance therefore had to be made between going all out for that decisive victory and the cost of many lives and caution, where I might not get the required result but might live to fight again. In hindsight I clearly missed an opportunity in this battle to really hit the Austrians. I have been over cautious in my approach, I should have exploited the right flanks of the Austrians which would have been undefended and forced something to happen. Instead my fear of the Austrian cavalry has completely stalled the attack. While destroying the Austrian lines in combat would have been easy the Cuirassier behind them would have made short work of my battalions after the combat. With no cavalry support in the centre this would have been foolhardy.
Now on Turn 9 I face the reinforcements from Austria and I am probably more on the back foot than before, I do not believe the Austrians are going to really hurt the French but anything other than a mighty French victory will always seem to be a victory for the Austrians. In short – I was to cautious in deployment, afraid to lose too many men instead of seizing the initiative I handed it to Eric, a steep learning curve indeed!
At the end of the 1st week I was bemoaning my poor / over cautious deployment. The centre was going nowhere and getting shot and my reinforcements were ambling up my right flank, things were not happening and I was putting on a rather good demonstration of snatching defeat from the gaping jaws of a possible victory.
With all that in mind it was time for some more positive thinking, what to do now to get things going in the right direction? Well to start with, as I was not going anywhere down the middle why stay there and get shot? So back with those boys and shoot the Austrians with some artillery from afar. This worked out quite well, as one of the Elite 12lb guns of Eric’s Austrians fell by the wayside – hurrah.
While the centre was pulling back in good order I sent my guard division from the centre to the right flank to support my “militia” division against the incoming horde of Austrians. The Austrians sneaked right up my flank causing some concern, but fortunately I had previously sent my cavalry division to protect the flank.
This is where all the fun started, The Austrian Hussars charged forward and were met by my light cavalry and the dragoons. Steel clashed and down went a lot of French cavalry, it was bad, very bad, but then the fickle finger of fate turned, the French stayed their ground and were joined by their comrades to sweep the Hussars away – victory to the French. With this flank secured and the Guard coming to help clear out the Austrian avant guard things were looking brighter.
So to the Militia Division! I stated previously my desire not to fight over the village on the Austrian left, and based on the quality that was now pouring along the road it was probably a good idea. The militia boys had taken a bit of a battering from the Prussian guns but were holding their ground. The Austrians were coming and battle was unavoidable. In order to try and gain an advantage I tried to “reverse” the militia division while Andy turned the centre division to support the left of the attack. But wily Eric had none of it, seeing that I was trying to open up the area so that I had 2 divisions to fight with he raced forward with his veterans – not slowing to reload their weapons they closed in rapidly. Clearly reversing the Militia was not going to help now so as they faced off ready to go in we held our breath. Then the bloody Prussians came in and effectively took two battalions out of the coming melee by forcing one to retreat into the other.
So the charges were declared and too my relief – if not my surprise my 1st 3 battalions all made it – to be met by two massive veteran 48s :(
All eyes were now focussed on the melee and carnage that was to ensue. The first round was a very bloody draw, and was probably more than I could have hoped for, so in went the reinforcements, 3 more battalions for me and 2 more massive 48s for Eric. It must be said that half my troops in the melee were militia class and were fighting at ¾ effect so the Austrians had a slim advantage and the French lost the 2nd round of melee. Fate decreed once again the French would stand and a final round began, it was close once more but the Austrians edged it and finally the French fled. The cost has been dear to the Austrians and another division is about to pounce so all is not over yet!!
Week 3
Into the 3rd week we went with just 7 turns to go, things were still in the balance, but the tide was about to turn in the favour of the Austrians. My left flank division advanced again to consolidate their position and my right flank was secured by the impetuous young guard and my cavalry division. But this could not help my centre. Despite showing his adeptness with the artillery under his command Lieutenant Andy wielded his infantry with less adroitness and while preparing to counter attack a joint Austrian and Prussian advance on the French centre was caught out by the cunning Prussian heavy cavalry pincer movement. The Prussian cavalry cut a swathe through the French battalions at the front of their line and a massacre ensued. The French were routed and the Austrians pursed. Meanwhile the young guard had made inroads to the Austrian left flank but could advance no further without a secure centre. Regretfully the guard withdrew and under heavy fire received further casualties, but not enough to deter their return in the future.
As darkness descended across the battlefield the French withdrew, not entirely in good order but by no means demoralised. Lessons have hopefully been learned by the French command on the strengths and weaknesses of both French and Austrians alike. Come the end of the battle casualties on both sides were pretty even, but I would be foolhardy to believe the battle had been a draw. The Austrians carried the field at the end of the battle, I could lay the blame on luck, but that would be unfair on Eric and would be untrue. The dice balanced out (as they usually do) and it was Eric’s ability to seize the advantage after I had handed him the initiative. My undoing then was to have too cautious a deployment, this was compounded by not actually following through on my initial plan – again due to caution – I had the initiative, I had the men, I had the numbers. I did not have the victory that was there to be had!!
As you can see, Nick is an adherent of Maoist self criticism. Both sides need to regroup now. Watch this space for further clashes.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Plauen: Austrian Commanders Report

Here's the first of the commanders battle reports from Plauen written by Eric the Austrian commander. he's the smug looking bloke on the left.
During the campaign moves I identified a point where I could put half my army across the French line of march, whilst the other half would be on his flank. Due to a campaign rule misunderstanding the two halves of the army were not as mutually supporting as I had planned. This meant that the entire French army managed to attack half my army, with the flanking force turning up well into the battle. Fortunately the force that was attacked contained the two divisions created for holding actions supported by my heavy cavalry division. The other half of the army was my infantry assault division and the light division which I had expected to use for flanking actions anyway.

As defender I had the choice of table edge to set up on. Neither choice was perfect. If I chose one side I would be able to occupy the dominant central village, but the rest of the terrain was poor for defence. In addition the rear French divisions would come on more quickly. I chose the other side which had villages that I could use to anchor both flanks, but it meant surrendering the central village, heavily limiting counter-attack opportunities.

As I was expecting reinforcements on my left I expected the heaviest assault to fall on my right, so that's where I stationed my best troops, anchored by a village on their extreme right and supported by the Kurassier regiment from my heavy cavalry division.

On my left I asked my allied Prussian division to take the village to their front and then hold until the reinforcements arrived. Between the two, able to support either way, was the rest of the heavy cavalry division - two regiments of Prussian heavies.

As expected the battle started with the forward French divisions moving towards my right, although they had not decided to outflank it. They occupied the central village with skirmishers who initially restricted the movements of my heavy cavalry, so I left them where they were as a threat or for use as a coup-de-grace. The French were tentative in their approach on my right, presumably scared of the Kurassier regiment. My divisional commander Justin managed to keep them from launching an all out assault whilst causing increasing casualties, until they retired due to events elsewhere on the battlefield. Half the French army tied down for most of the battle, without having to fight a major action. A definite positive result on this flank.

On my left the Prussians took their designated village unopposed and engaged in desultory artillery fire until the third French division started to advance on it. It was at this point that the French cavalry division finally appeared at the back of their lines. At the same point my infantry assault division appeared behind the Prussian's left flank and the French halted their assault.

I had delayed the entry of the light division so that they could enter further up the left flank. Leading with their two hussar regiments, they ran straight into the French cavalry. A large cavalry action promptly ensued, with the French having the advantage due to their large dragoon squadrons. Winning the first round of combat by stupendous dice rolling (nine 6's on eighteen dice!), I was disappointed that the French passed their morale (had they failed it probably would have been disastrous for their whole army), as their reinforcements for the second round were more dragoons. My dice couldn't save me a second time and my hussars fled.
Leaving the rest of the light division to distract the French cavalry and the guard division that had marched to support it, attention turned to the infantry assault coming in from the left and aiming for the French in front of the Prussians. The French had more battalions available but they had already been significantly weakened by the Prussians. The combat was evenly matched and casualties were high, but eventually the French routed and played no further part in the battle.

With the French reserves fixed on my light division their centre division was exposed to attack by the Prussians and the assault division. At this point I had secured at least a draw but I scented victory and ordered a general assault on the French centre. This was when I realised my mistake. To ensure my assault division passed its morale checks I had moved the army commander over to them. This meant that any orders to the heavy cavalry and the right flank took three turns to get to their commanders. The battered French left was given time to interpose itself in front of my right flank and stop it interfering in the centre.

The French skirmishers in the central village were now much depleted so my heavy cavalry could now advance without heavy casualties. They caught the enemy in the flank as they attempted to face off against the infantry assault and the French started to crumble. A charge by the infantry finished the process and their centre collapsed.
With my cavalry now dominant against a shattered enemy, the only thing that saved the French from annihilation was the onset of darkness. The French guard had caused considerable casualties to my left flank, but it still held and they had exhausted themselves in the process. A significant victory, especially given the initial odds. The only regret I have is that the campaign rules mean that despite my victory and cavalry superiority, the French will recover as quickly as I do.
Of course that all depends on the scale of French losses not only in numbers but in quality. Next up will be the French commanders view of the battle.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Campaign Map

I had a request from Ian to get a picture of our campaign map on to the blog, and in fact I'd already promised to do just that in an earlier post. So here it is, I'm not sure which game it's from but it covers the sort of area we need perfectly. The start points for the Allies were Dresden, Torgau and Wittenberg and for the French, Chemnitz, Leipzig and Koethen. The full map is actually slightly larger than this but we've decided to go for this area in the initial campaign.
As I've stressed before this is purely a first attempt to allow us to try a few things out so that we can develop a more finished article. All movement is on roads and a maximum of two infantry divisions may end a turn in the same hex. Controlling towns and cities provides resupply points which allow players to purchase replacement troops.
At the moment movement is done on a you go I go basis but I think we'll be moving to a system whereby players submit their turns prior to any movement. The main idea initially is to keep down the amount of paperwork for both the players and the umpires but I think inevitably the whole thing will eventually become more complicated. This is fine as long as everyone plays their part but we've learned from past experience that it only takes one player being tardy to screw it up.
So far we've had one battle, Plauen, which was an Austrian victory. It actually took place at a wooded crossroads about 5 hexes west south west of Plauen but I followed the convention of naming it after the nearest town. When I work out how to do it I'll put some coloured arrows on the map to make it easier but for the time being you'll have to put up with my dodgy sense of direction.

Friday, 12 June 2009

After the Battle

The battle of Plauen came to an end last night after 24 turns and was hard fought all the way to the finish. I've already received one of the commanders battle reports and will post an abridged version in the next blog entry. But I thought I'd take the opportunity to provide an umpires eye view of how it went. In every way as a wargame it was extremely successful, the battle ebbed and flowed throughout and casualties on both sides were remarkably similar. Strategically it was a victory for the Austrians who despite being caught by superior numbers managed to defend well until their reinforcements were able to arrive and turn the tide in their favour.
It could have been very different and the French commander, Nick, must be rueing a golden opportunity missed. Nick opted for an immediate frontal assault on a two division frontage rather than use his superior artillery to pound the centre whilst outflanking through the woods on the left which provided plenty of cover. His choice of tactics might have worked against small thirty two man units but against Austrian forty eight man units and elite twelve pounders the attack quickly faltered due to high casualties.
To compound the problem the French also failed to secure the village on the right of their position which would have dominated the ground which any reinforcing Austrians had to cross. This allowed Erics Austrians an unopposed route to scene of the action and led to the French being forced to give ground on their right flank. In the end most of the heaviest fighting took part on the French right flank against newly arriving Austrian divisions with the original objective of punching through the centre being side lined.
After the initial French assault had been repulsed the centre and left was reduced to sporadic small scale clashes which were never going to affect the course of the battle. The French could reasonably be accused of being transfixed like a mouse in front of a snake by the appearance of a single regiment of Austrian cuirassier.
Still, it was a steep learning curve for both commanders due to the added pressure of knowing that casualties from this battle would not miraculously reappear in time for the next game. Each commander will now have to decide which units to spend the small number of reinforcement points allocated on. Does he blow it all on a few expensive elites or bulk out his formations with second class line?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

More Plauen

The battle of Plauen continued into turn 15 of the projected 24 turns last night with still no clear advantage to either side. I don't want to go into too much detail as the two commanders are both going to write up their own view of how it went once it's all over. So what I'll do is just publish a few snapshots of the action in isolated sections of the battle. The first one shows a couple of Eric's forty eight man Austrian battalions lined out to counter the threat of a French thrust through the centre. They are in turn supported by a regiment of cuirassier, which in "Grand Manner" rules and I suspect many others are utterly lethal against infantry. In the distance can be seen one of Nick's divisions (commanded by Dom) shaking out onto the line of departure prior to their assault.
Next is a picture of a largish cavalry combat which took place on the Austrian left. Eric's two light regiments clashed with a mixed force of French lights and Dragoons. With eighteen dice in the first round of combat against Nick's twenty five it didn't look good for the allies. Incredibly Eric threw nine sixes out of the eighteen, with Nick killing only four with his twenty five. But then as they often do, the dice Gods abandoned Erics cause and after passing morale Nick was able to win the second round of combat and force Erics lads to turn and flee. To be fair, Nick had set his troops up well with supporting cavalry and a cavalry commander to tip the balance on his morale check so justice was done.
The last shot from the battle for now shows the general situation on the French centre-left around turn 11. The Austrian infantry have given ground in the face of the French assault but this has allowed them to use the firepower of the village garrison in addition to the twelve pounder battery to cause substantial casualties on the attack columns. I'm not sure who the sinister looking bloke in the background is, he turns up most weeks but none of us have worked up the courage to ask him what he wants.
Finally I just thought I'd stick in a picture of this lovely little horse battery. It's not involved in the battle but I've finally got around to basing it up so here it is. To be honest I'm not 100% sure about it's identity. It was picked up at a bring and buy already painted. I think it's a Polish legion horse battery from the Italian army which would explain the czapkas and the guns painted in Austrian colours. However I could be wrong, if anyone has any ideas please feel free to enlighten me.