Saturday, 27 November 2010

Yet again the Allies tasted the bitter fruit of defeat at the hands of the plucky French on Wednesday night.  Having reached turn twenty two and with the opening session of the first Ashes test match fast approaching we called it a night on our current game.  It had been once again an interesting tussle with a fair amount of ebb and flow but as I alluded to in the last blog entry it became increasingly difficult for the Allies as time wore on. 

Dom's Hungarian Grenadiers who finally wrested control of the woods from Neils' Westphalians only to find that the battle had left them behind.

Rather than outline the orbats in full I'll just give the total numbers involved for each side:

French (starting forces)

25 x Bns Infantry
2 x Regt Hvy Cavalry
4 x Regt Lt Cavalry
12 x Guns in 4 Bty's

Three infantry and one cavalry division.

Reserves (used)

2 x Regt Hvy Cavalry
1 x Regt Lt Cavalry
3 x Guns in 1 Bty

Reserves (not used)

14 x Bns Infantry
1 x Regt Lancer
6 Guns in 2 Bty's

Two infantry Divisions.

French Heavy cavalry with Wurtemburg light cavalry attached switch from the left flank to the centre leaving their horse battery to cover against any further Allied advance.

Allies(starting forces)

28 x Bns Infantry
4 x Regt Lt Cavalry
1 x Regt Uhlan
21 Guns in 6 Bty's

Four infantry and one cavalry division.


3 x Regt Cuirassier
3 x Guns in 1 Bty

Reserves(not used)

16  x Bns Infantry
7 Guns in 2 Bty's

Two infantry divisions.

Andy's Hungarians enjoy fleeting success against Erics line forcing him into retreat, but routs on their flank sapped their enthusiasm for further action and they were unable to exploit their gains.

As can be seen, though the Infantry and cavalry arms were relatively balanced there was a huge disparity in the amount of artillery available to each side.  This was further compounded by the fact that a third of the Allies guns were twelve pounders and that two of their batteries had Elite crews whereas the French had six and eight pound batteries with line crews.  The question I suppose is why didn't the Allies make more use of this advantage to achieve a win?  I think the problem was twofold, firstly the ground which the Allies were attacking over especially on their right made it difficult to concentate fire from guns and often they were masked by their own infantry.  Secondly the Allies failed to spot the one place where they would have the opportunity to employ a grand battery which was their extreme left.  Instead they employed a succession of localised attacks against equivalent forces and their artillery was often left unused.

The remnants of Justins' Russian line division gamely attempt to exert some pressure on the Swiss to support the attack of the Russian Elite division, but get toasted for their troubles.

So another game over and we'll be starting afresh next Thursday.  At the moment there is nothing specific planned though I've been mulling over the idea of a small scale battle using just the one table.  The idea is to introduce a bit more manouevre and a modified command and control structure into a game to see what happens. 
  Finally the answers to the questions I posed in the last entry, yes, no and not bloody likely.

Monday, 22 November 2010

We continued last weeks game on Wednesday, there being just the eight of us this time as Steve had to work.  Once again the Allies attempted to push forwards and were in each case repulsed.  Dom attacking across some pretty awful ground was unable to make any real headway against Neils' confederation troops and ended the evening with a large part of his infantry in retreat.  To be fair he did throw some consistently poor morale dice for his troops but even if they had held on for another turn or two the outcome was never really in question. 

A combination of tough terrain stalwart defending by Neil and fickle dice Gods leave Doms' Austrians with nowhere to go but backwards.

Things were no better for the Allies on the other table, Justins' Russian line division having lost the support of its foot battery attempted to slog onwards against French guard and elite troops with the almost inevitable consequence that nearly the whole division ended the evening in rout.

"Routed Ground" markers litter the area where Justins' Russians had been just moments before.  In the background three elite, (yes elite, and each one with a staff officer) regiments of Russian cuirassier make their entrance.

For this game Eric has introduced a reinforcement system based on escalation.  Basically on a given turn the Allied commander was asked if he wished to escalate the battle by deploying one of a number of optional reserve formations.  If he decided to deploy reserves then the French were allowed to do the same from the reserves which they had available.  In this case the Allied commander decided to bring on his cuirassier division and fortunately for the French their choice was also a cavalry division consisting of two regiments of dragoons and two light cavalry regiments.  The next choice of whether to deploy reserves fell to the French four or five turns later.  However being happy with the state of the battle and extremely wary of Erics' blatantly Francophobe orbat they decided not to utilise their reserves thereby denying any fresh troops to the Allies.

The Russian Elite division, two guard and four elite battalions.  Possibly the Allies last remaining hope for victory.

With the game stalemated on the Allied right and their centre in tatters it appears that the one real chance of a victory in this game will come from their left where the Russian elites are currently advancing to take on the weakened French guard division who are still holding on to their original defensive line.  If they can break through then they may be able to roll up the extended French line giving Doms' remaining Austrians the opportunity to break through against Neil.

Front Rank Austrian hussars,  I know the colour combination isn't everyones' cup of tea but I think they're lovely, and I get to choose the photos.

So will the Russians break through?  Can Neil hold on?  Will Eric ever discover how the kettle works?  Answers to all of these questions and more in the next installment after Wednesdays game.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Matter of Balance.

We had a full house for last thursdays game which meant nine of us in the garage.  Understandably it was a little crowded but we were able to get a new game started and play the first nine turns.  This is another game designed by Eric and is loosely based on the aftermath of our previous game.  The French orbat is very similar to the previous one though some losses have been factored in, for instance the Elite division has lost two of its elite young guard battalions.

Russian Hussars manouevering past a new piece of marsh terrain, one of a couple which Justin kindly brought along on the night.

The Allied orbat on the other hand has undergone some radical changes.  Following the loss of their entire Prussian Corps the poor things are having to make do with a fresh Russian corps including a Russian elite division and yet another elite twelve pounder battery.  In addition to this they have just deployed three regiments of cuirassier plus a horse battery and this is only the stuff that the French can see.  The likelihood of more Russians and even a division of Prussians arriving is high.

Doms' Austrians in a bit of a log jam attempting to head towards their supply lines.

The scenario is one of pursuing French forces moving parrallel to their Austrian counterparts in order to keep them cut off from supply.  This movement is stopped by the appearance of the Russian forces who have immediately attacked the head of the French column.  Their initial attack has so far been unsuccesful but it would appear that numbers must eventually tell.

A division of Russian infantry advancing to test their mettle against French Elite and Guard troops
  in a defensive position.

The initial turns have in general gone the way of the French including an early cavalry melee in which a couple of light cavalry squadrons gave some Russian uhlans a bit of a pasting for no loss to themselves.  In addition the first Russian attack on the French held village at the centre of the table has been repulsed though not without some loss to the defenders.  The arrival of the Russian Cuirassier will doubtless make things very difficult for French to carry out any counter attacks as what little cavalry they have is on the other table facing off another Allied cavalry division.

The view from behind the French lines during the first Russian assault.

We continue the game tonight with all but Steve present and it should prove an interesting if tough task for the French players.  There is still the option for more reserves to be deployed and the decision whether or not to do so may be key to the final outcome.
    As a final point all of the above photos were taken by Andy using a tripod and a long shutter speed (I think that's the right term).  personally I think they're really nice and hopefully we can look forward to loads more of Andy's pics in the future.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A Game of Two Halves and Some Interesting News

We called it a day on our one off game at somewhere around turn twenty three.  As the title says it had been a game of two distinct battles taking place one on each table.  On the Northern table a Prussian Corps commanded by Andy supported by Nicks Austrians were up against the best of the French forces, a strong Guard division and a good line division commanded at different times by Neil, Steve and Eric.  The tables were deemed as being seperated by a long wooded area which took time to transit and had the effect of unforming most troops who passed through it.  First deployments on the Northern table had the French 6th Div defending a central village against the Prussians with The Austrians arriving from the West. 

Part of Andy's Prussian corps in its start position, at this stage things were looking decidedly grim for the French.

Unfortunately for the Prussians they soon discovered themselves to be flanked by the arrival of the French guard supported by another line corps on their left.  With such a linear position Andy found his command being rolled up from the left as the Guard relentlesly drove all before it.  This left the assault of the French held town to Nicks' Austrians a struggle which continued for the remainder of the game with neither side gaining a clear advantage.

The Guard (2 x 36 Guard and 6 x 32 Elites) arrive to ruin Andys' day.

On the Southern table the French position also looked difficult.  The two French divisions moving up to support the village (7th and 8th Divs) over one third of which was made up of militia found themselves to be outflanked by an Austrian line corps and an Elite Grenadier division.  This led to some hasty redeployment for the French.  The original village garrison, 6th Div, was recalled through the woods to assist its parent corps whilst the newly arriving 5th Div from I Corps was rushed in to fill the gap.

7th Division form line to their left from the line of march to counter the unexpected arrival of a strong Austrian force.

Fortunately for the French defenders on the Southern table the terrain had the effect of breaking up the Austrian advance with the result that their attacks went in peicemeal and suffered heavy casualties before being able to close with the French defenders.  This slow advance also allowed fresh troops to arrive in time to shore up any gaps which appeared in the French line.  Eventually enough troops were able to arive to make the Austrian assault impractical and this part of the battle became a stalemate with the Allies main strike force, the Grenadiers, unable to make their presence felt.

Young Guard assaulting the Prussian left flank, with the loss of this village there were no more defensive positions available to the Prussians and they were rolled up.

The battle was eventually won and lost on the Northern table.  The French Guard with their greater movement and combat power were able to cut through the Prussian defenders resulting in the loss of almost the entire Prussian corps.  This is the first time we have used Guard quality troops in our games and it was an interesting example of how useful they can be in the right place at the right time.  Though there were only two battalions they did have a marked effect as could be expected though as much as anything it was the psychological effect of being up against them that made much of the difference.

The Southern table showing the difficult terrain (centre and right) which broke up Doms' attacks. 

So all in all a useful and enjoyable game which allowed us to test out some minor rule amendments, most of which I outlined in the previous post.  I particularly like the idea of allowing riflemen some offensive firing capability and the dropping of the -4 for cannister against single rank cavalry made people think twice about using frontal, single squadron charges against guns.  We made a change to one of the amendments during the game by allowing troops to move tactically (12" for infantry 18" for cavalry) regardless of their proximity to the enemy as long as the whole of the turn was spent in column of march formation.  This seemed to work well and does away with the idea of "doubling" troops every fourth turn.  Admittedly as yet we haven't come up with a solution for skirmishers but we're getting together again for another one off battle on thursday night so we'll probably work something out by then.

Elite Miniatures Westphalians painted by Neil Sheardown for no other reason than I think they're gorgeous.

Finally the title of this entry states that there's some good news and indeed there is.  The Wargames Holiday Centre whose sad demise I was bemoaning a few posts ago has been given a new lease of life.  It appears that the whole lot is to be relocated to Basingstoke (about an hour outside London) and will be reopening its doors early in next year.  To be honest I had heard a few whispers about this but it was very much "pie in the sky" at the time.  The man taking up this particular Marshalls' Baton is Mark Freeth whom some of you may already know, I'll be speaking to him in the next few days and will try to get some more details such as prices and an itinerary which I'll then post on the blog.