Friday, 27 November 2009

Last Nights Action

Don't get any wrong ideas from the title, this is just another post about the wargame we played last night which saw us reach turn twelve of the scheduled maximum of twenty four.  We had left the game prior to doing compulsory moves for the last turn (these are retreats, routs, that sort of thing) and then declared any charges for the new turn.  I'd got myself into a position where I had a sotnia of cossacks ready to charge a limbered gun battery which would have meant a compulsory evade for the gunners and any ensuing confusion caused by them pinning friendly troops.  The only fly in the ointment was a French light cavalry squadron which could intercept them.  However this was in turn cancelled out by my being able to charge the lights with a squadron of uhlans.  All I had to do was make the charge.  It was at this moment that Dom mentioned the chances of me throwing three one's on my morale dice and failing to charge, I confidently smiled and threw the dice.

The result as you can see above was a bit of a disappointment to say the least and brought howls of derision from a normally placid Dom.  The uhlans failed to charge, the cossacks were intercepted, though they aquitted themselves well in the ensuing melee, and the gunners remained unmolested.
    But this was just a snapshot in a battle that is becoming increasingly difficult for the French.

The French left despite it's reinforcement by a division of young guard and a cuirassier division is struggling to make any headway and has now discovered a grand battery of ten guns barring its way.  In the centre the Prussians have moved on to the offensive and are advancing to engage a weakened French centre, and on the Allied left the Prussians have also now routed the French from the woods and are advancing into the area vacated by them.

Above is a shot of a part of the French centre attempting to advance but having fallen into the trap of deploying guns in front of their own advancing infantry, thereby funneling the infantry between the guns and a closed wood.  The guns have done little damage to the enemy but have completely stifled this part of their attack. 

You know the old saying, "what goes around comes around"?  Dom's cuirassier hellbent on sweeping my Russian light cavalry away charge forward and crash into them.  In the ensuing melee Dom gets twenty four dice against my sixteen and decides to throw all of his first.  The result was five sixes which is nearly one in four and it looks grim for the Russians.  I throw four sixes with my first twelve dice and make the comment that one six from my last four dice would be a draw.  Dom however, once again makes the fatal announcement that two more sixes would be a win and with that seals the cuirassiers fate.  Six sixes from sixteen dice has got to be one of the luckiest throws I've ever had and to cap it all the cuirassier fail their morale and flee.  It wasn't a major development in the game but it's was one of those little occurences that I think all of us enjoy.

I'm off to Scarborough again this weekend so no updates for a short while but I'll be back armed with tales of Austerlitz, Wagram and Dresden, with photos to match in a little over a week.

Thursday, 26 November 2009


I've been trying for a while now to find some way of speeding up my painting and something I'm going to try out is the seemingly popular stick method.  My normal system is to stick individual figures on to plastic bottle tops and paint a couple of figures at a time.  I know it's terribly innefficient but I become very bored painting the same colour all of the time.  So I've decided to give this technique a try out on these Calpe musketeers.  The whole thing isn't helped by the fact that I've had to undercoat them all by hand due to the gale force winds with which we in the Southwest of England are so regularly afflicted making a joke of any attempt to spray them. 

24 Hours Later......,
Well that was a bloody waste of time.  I couldn't reach the inside figures properly and the whole thing is extremely cumbersome.  I can only imagine that I'm doing it wrong somehow.  Anyway the Prussians are now back on to bottle tops and I'm trying to work up the enthusiasm to go back and have another crack at them.  The good news is that I've finally found a yellow which doesn't either have the consistency of tar or turn into gravel as soon as I start using it (I'm painting Silesians).  It's Sulphuric Yellow made by "Formula P3" at least that's what the name on the label says.  It even goes on well on to a black undercoat which is pretty impressive.

Anyway enough of my prattle, time for some more photos of our latest game.  A distinctly lost looking Austrian attempts to fit in by encouraging his Prussian friends to conquer all, hmmm now where have I heard that before?

This one shows the Allied left and the woods which have been hotly contested.  There's a largish open area to the right of them which might have been a better avenue of approach, though this gap has now been plugged by the arrival of Prussian cavalry.

Prussian and French light cavalry mixing it up, this time the French come off second best.

Not a picture from this game but you may remember me mentioning the Austrophile element here in the garage.  Here we can see a rare glimpse in to the minds of those afflicted by this sad malady.  Eric and Neil conduct the "Naming Ceremony", in which each figure in a new unit is welcomed into the army and given a name.  Honestly , they should be on daytime TV.

Well the game will continue tonight, this time with a full house of players.  I'll try to get a post in before saturday as I'm off for my final visit of the year to Scarborough to celebrate Herberts' birthday with a week of Napoleonics.  Could life get any better?

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Catching up

Once again it's been a while since I last posted. This is partly due to me firstly having been away for a few days. Secondly to fact that we didn't have a game night last week, but mostly because I've been a wee bit lazy. So without further ado and self recrimination I'll hopefully put things right with a bit of a catch up post.

The good news is that we did get in a nights gaming on thursday and were able to continue with the second battle in Erics' mini-campaign. As is usual by now I'll let Eric tell the whole story, though things might be made more interesting if the French command can come up with a version of events as well.

Oddly enough this second battle has a remarkably similar deployment to its predecessor. The Russians shown here are holding the Allied right and on their left is a Prussian Corps. The terrain however is very different. The Prussians are currently fighting for a series of small woods on the extreme left whilst attempting to block the open ground in the centre. reinforcements for both sides are arriving on various roads and being fed into the maelstrom ( I've been wanting to use that word for ages ).

A battalion of Kleve-Berg infantry from Dom's "German" division supported here by Westfalian skirmishers. These chaps and their friends have the unenviable task of getting past a Russian six gun battery suported by a four gun horse battery. However they are supported by a Cuirassier division and there appear to be more troops arriving behind them. To their right rear is a battalion of Saxe-Coburg infantry.

Speaking of Cuirassier, here they are. These troops along with another French and a Westfalian Cuirassier regiment have recently arrived to give the French heavy cavalry arm a much needed boost. They were all painted by Neil Sheardown in an amazingly short time along with two new Russian Cuirassier regiments and a host of Prussian Landwehr. Neil is currently painting two more Russian Dragoon Regiments more Landwehr and some Russian infantry. Most of which will be ready in December.

A look at the Allied centre with Erics' Prussians lined out against Andy's advancing French columns. This should prove a tough nut to crack if the French insist on taking it frontally. The village in the centre of the position has excellent fields of fire and can easily be supported from the flanks and rear. In the background are some of the woods where both sides have become involved in a confused series of melees, though it does appear that the Prussians may be gaining the upper hand.

Finally here's a photo of a Prussian foot battery which I completed just too late for them to take part in this battle, once again these are Elite figures. I seem to have been painting nothing but artillery lately. Along with these Prussians I've recently completed a French foot battery and the last two guns and crew for the Russian six gun horse battery. To be honest I quite like painting artillerymen, there's plenty of variety in the poses and there are of course a lot less of them to paint in comparison to an infantry battalion. What I really don't like painting is the guns themselves. I'm not sure why but I just find them incredibly tedious to paint and have to break up the process into short periods.
Well, enough for now. Next thursday's game should see some major developments in the battle which should see an update the next day, and I'll try to post some more shots of this game prior to that.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Eric's Battle Report

I've just received Eric's version of events via the miracle that is e-mail and without further ado present them for your perusal:

1. Design and Setup

Designing a scenario for our first full two table experience presented a few challenges. The main problem is to try and avoid having most of the action happen across the gap between the tables. This usually means that straight side-to-side encounters are not an option. I played around with a few ideas in my head, but many of them ended in two separate battles happening with only a tenuous connection between them, which isn't what you normally want. I settled upon a set-up loosely (very loosely you pedants!) based on the second day of the battle of Kulm 1813, a battle which I seem to have some sort of obsession with as this isn't the first time I've used it for inspiration.
Battle across the table gap

As I had only minutes to think up forces and to make things different from the more structured campaign armies we have been using, we decided to go with random troop quality. Until a unit has to take a morale test they are assumed to be 1st class. When the first test is to be made a d10 is rolled and the result compared to a chart I quickly made up. As this was 1813 the average quality of all armies was a mix of 2nd and 1st class infantry, with very low rolls meaning militia and high meaning veteran or better. Each division on table was given a quality which provided a modifier to the die roll - veteran divisions gained +2 for example and a roll of 12 would give the unit Elite status.

The terrain was set-up so that there was a hilly and forested area on the French right becoming flatter further left with a scattering of villages and open woods. The French left was dominated by a large hill (the Altberg) which had steep sides so that artillery could only traverse it on the road. It did have a flat top where artillery could set up and troops on it could see over all the other hills. Exposed as it was the French would be taking a risk putting artillery there. The open terrain in the centre and left had the potential for both large scale cavalry and artillery duels. The area behind the French front lines was set-up similarly with close terrain to the right and open on the left, with a carefully sited village if the French chose to fall back on it.

The initial forces had two small, but veteran Russian divisions, with a supporting 12pdr battery and allied Austrian line division facing off against 3 French divisions, two of which were veteran and supported by a large heavy cavalry division and a corps 12pdr battery. At game start 2 Prussian divisions were set up behind the French right just emerging from the rough terrain. The Prussian commander was informed that if he blocked one of the roads off table behind the front lines he could prevent their reserves arriving. The Russian commander was told that his reserves depended on the whim of the Tsar, but that success would be rewarded more than failure. The emergence of the Prussians meant that both tables could be used from turn one as that action could take place on one table whilst the Russo-Austrian lines were involved on the other. I hoped this set-up would lead to minimal action across the gap between tables, a hope that was destined to be dashed.

2. The early battle

The French chose to set-up one of their batteries on the Altberg supported to the rear and left by a veteran division. This exposed unit was assaulted straight away by the Austrians and the battery forced to retreat. A large scale infantry battle ensued for the Altberg which left the French veterans streaming back in two waves. These routers were to play a pivotal part later on.

Meanwhile the Russian 12pdr battery dominated the open ground in the centre, whilst the French Corps 12pdrs were left impotent having been set up too far back, out of range of the Russians. The French left moved to the other side of a low ridge and attempted an assault, but the move had lost them cohesion and the attack was half-hearted and so doomed to fail. The Russian guns turned their attention to the central division who stood and took it for a while, their casualties leaving them with reduced morale.

The Prussians emerged from the woods to find themselves faced by the French heavy cavalry. Their hussars threw themselves gallantly into the fray but lost to superior quality and superior morale dice. Without any further cavalry support their infantry was left to try and advance in square to try and make room for their guns to set up. The heavies, without artillery support could do little against the squares and a stalemate ensued. The Cuirassiers did ride down a battalion of Fusiliers, but the cavalry started to take increasing casualties from skirmisher fire.

Once the Altberg had fallen the Tsar started to release the reserves. At the same time the French reinforcements started to arrive on the rear board and the battle moved into a new phase.

3. The battle of the gap.

The first reserves to arrive were the Austrian Grenadiers, who were given orders to punch straight down the middle and rout the central French division. The move left them intermingled with one of the Russian divisions and both divisions suffered from reduced cohesion. Rather than face this assault and an outflanking by the victorious Austrians on the Altberg, the French withdrew onto the rear table, covered by their Corps artillery finally in use.

To the French rear the poor quality Westphalian reserves were followed by veteran Wurtemburgers and elite Young Guard divisions. The two confederation divisions were sent against the Prussians, whilst the heavy cavalry was brought behind the lines to counter the Russian advance on the left, which was now supported by a small Kurassier division. As events unfolded the French heavies saw no further action, depriving the French of their strongest arm.

The Prussian commander, with many of his troops still stuck in the woods, decided to try and draw off the Westphalians with half a division. This tactic worked and though the Prussian battalions were defeated, the Westphalians had been drawn into an attack far away from the point of decision, when they might have been better deployed just screening the whole Prussian force, leaving the Wurtembergers to help in the centre. Instead the Wurtembergers ended up in a drawn combat against the other Prussians.

On the French left the Russian advance was held up by a Swiss militia square which refused to run, but the advance continued. Once the 12pdrs were back in action and the Kurassiers had moved up, there was little that the battered French could do without reinforcements that never arrived.

In the centre the French reorganisation was badly hampered by the retreating troops from the Altberg. These troops repeatedly rallied then routed the rallied and routed. This meant that the good order troops could not deploy properly and that the troops already battered by the Russian 12pdrs kept on having to take morale checks. By the time the mess was sorted out several other battalions had joined the rout and the Allied assault was upon them.

The only hope the French had left was the late arriving Young Guard, whose fire saw off the damaged Austrians advancing from the Altberg and who threatened to take advantage of the confusion between the grenadiers and the adjacent Russians. This confusion was heightened by the gap between tables where this force was trying to deploy. So much for my plans of avoiding this scenario!

The guard attack was hampered by Wurtembergers falling back, but that could not excuse two battalions routing on initial contact with the allies. With most of the French army now falling back the battle was declared an Allied victory. The French had an initial advantage but attacked piecemeal and used their artillery poorly, whilst the Russian 12pdrs were allowed to have a field day.

This battle was envisaged as part one of a trilogy. The result here means that come part three a French veteran division will be replaced by a poor one. Part two is about to start. Will the French get their revenge? I don't know, but this time I've decided to embrace the gap.

...and there it ends, or does it? The game lasted for four game nights and nineteen turns in all and allowed us to use heavy cavalry divisions for the first time. The Russians are shortly to be strengthened by two more cuirassier regiments and can expect more dragoons in the near future so perhaps Eric's next game will see the Allies on the offensive. In addition to Eric's battle report I also received lots of photo's. In fact far too many to publish on the blog, so I'm looking into putting them onto an online album such as photobucket though I've not had much success so far.