Sunday, 18 December 2011

It was a slow, quiet evening at the garage on Thursday.  Our ad-hoc game had pretty much run its course and we were all aware that we needed to have everything put away before starting the next campaign battle which as I previously mentioned pits the Austrian juggernaut against a handful of Bavarians.
    Still we have had a chance to test out some of the rule amendments which we came up with and everyone seems happy with the new skirmisher rules.  I particularly like the idea of stopping overhead firing by artillery though we haven't really had too much chance to see how that might affect one of the larger games.  However it certainly makes people consider their artillery deployment regarding lanes of fire instead of the usual mad rush to the nearest hilltop.
A Brigade of Hesse-Darmstadt troops take position in and around a village.
As a matter of fact we were so efficient in clearing the figures away once we'd agreed there was little left to play on that I completely forgot to take any photographs of the proceedings.  So I've been out in the garage setting up a few "action" shots and browsing my photo library for something to lighten up the obligatory waffle. 
Another posed shot, this time French infantry advance in support of an eight pound foot battery.  All figures from Elite miniatures, the infantry were all painted by Neil Sheardown who sadly no longer paints.

I've been having all sorts of problems with Blogspot lately.  The primary one being that I appear unable to leave comments on other peoples' blogs.  I know it works because I've been successful in the past but now I regularly go through the rigmarole of making my comment and copying down the squiggly word only to find that I'm back at my own blog and being asked to sign in once again.  This is particularly frustrating because from my own experience I know how important comments are to those who produce blogs.  They are I suppose a form of validation from like minded individuals and let's be honest there's a fair degree of pleasure in reading the nice things people have to say about your toys.  I will of course persist in trying to make comments but I do have a low tolerance threshold when it comes to repeatedly entering the same comment only to have it disappear in to the ether.

Poles posing for the camera this time.  These beauties were all painted by Justin Davey and are once again all from Elite.

While I'm on the subject of comments, Doc mentioned that he hadn't heard of Firing Line miniatures so I did a bit of checking and it appears they were bought by Bicorne Miniatures in 2001.  At the time they were the only producers of Wurtemburgers that I was aware of though now Front Rank have stepped up to the plate with a release of Wurtemburg infantry.  I believe Front Rank will be adding artillery and cavalry in the New Year.

Russian Grenadiers advancing with a little support from their Prussian friends.

That's about all for now it only remains for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year.  There may be a brief hiatus over the holiday period but normal service will resume with hopefully some news of the latest battle in the campaign.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

Thursday night was a continuation of Erics' scenario which pitted a Russian force against French and allied defenders.  Early moves saw the introduction of a fresh heavy cavalry brigade for the Russians followed by more infantry on the French side.  This has left the Russians with twenty battalions in three divisions against twenty five French battalions in four divisions though the Russians have the advantage in heavy cavalry. 

Elite miniatures Russian dragoons and uhlans arrive to bolster the centre and drive a wedge between the two French infantry commands.

It was about this time that I realised that we'd actually achieved one the original aims that I'd had when I first decided to convert the garage into a gaming room.  This was the ability to fight large games using troops from just one of the allied nations that opposed the French rather than having to amalgamate divisions and corps from various nations.  We can now put on games using just Russians and to a lesser extent the Prussians, though the Austrians are as yet not available in large enough numbers especially the cavalry arm.
    My original plan had been for about sixty French and Allied battalions plus a division each of old and young guard along with enough cavalry and artillery to support them.  These would be opposed by approximately forty battalions each of the three allied nations again with supporting arms.  The French army was accumulated more quickly than I had imagined possible largely due to their availability on ebay and through the efforts of various people who wanted to paint them and we went past the original requirement some time ago though we still have no old guard.  The Allies on the other hand have taken longer with the Russians being the only faction which at the moment is strong enough to challenge the French on equal terms.  This said it's an encouraging development and the next step will be to try and bolster Prussian numbers.

More cavalry action and all that remains of two squadrons of French lancers after mixing it with the Mariopol Hussars.

Back to Thursday night and we were graced with the presence of both Dom and Neil for the first time in ages, Dom has been unavailable due to his having to study and Neil has been away growing a beard.  Both were pitted against each other on the night with Dom attempting unsuccessfully to stem the tide of Neils' Russian cavalry.  It was an education for both of them as neither had played using the rule amendments which we're currently trying and though these have a minimal effect on cavalry there were some useful discussions regarding other changes. 
    It was then that I had my second epiphany of the evening, as we discussed the rules regarding skirmishers Dom made a suggestion proposing the introduction of elite skirmishers and I realised then that we all have subtly different conceptions and prejudices regarding how our rules should reflect the period.  Not much of an epiphany you might think but when you're trying to introduce rule amendments it lead me to consider whether the committee approach which we're currently using is necessarily the best option.  Perhaps we would be better served by having a sort of "informed dictatorship" whereby one person decides which amendments to use or not and everyone else abides by them.  That is in effect largely the way published rule sets operate though in time they normally succumb to tweaking.  Of course this always presupposes the availability of someone willing and able to play the part of the informed dictator and it's not something I'd like to do so for the time being at least I think we'll be sticking with the open forum, giving everyone the chance to put their ideas into the pot regardless of how odd they may seem to the rest of us.

Wurtemburg infantry from Firing Line Miniatures advance to support Nicks' infantry.

Back to Thursday nights game once more and it appears that the French right has now stabilised with the arrival of another infantry division and in fact it now significantly outnumbers Marks Russians.  On the left the Poles who have taken heavy casualties have been bolstered by a Swiss division and are in the process of negating the attack of the two Russian divisions assigned to the area.  So it's in the centre that the Allies have been able to make the largest inroads with their cavalry able to sweep aside the small French light cavalry contingent and they now have the options of sweeping around to threaten the flank of either French command.

More Wurtemburgers, infantry and artillery this time attempting to block up the hole in the French centre.
I'm not sure how many turns we'll continue for, considering that this game is designed as a rule test scenario it's probably already done its job.  That isn't to say there isn't more testing that needs to be done as small problems tend to arise every now and again with the tweaks we've already put in place.  So we'll most likely play two or three more moves and then tidy everything away in readiness for the next campaign battle.  This will see the  mighty Austrian war machine finally deigning to take an active part in the campaign by pitting itself  against the almost insignificant forces of Bavaria.

Mark Votier's four gun redoubt made of resin and manned by an Austrian foot battery which has just been returned to its former glory after Eric mistakenly "varnished" them with grey spray paint.

And Finally.....  I thought it would be nice to show a couple of shots of a redoubt made by our newest regular member, Mark.  This four gun redoubt is for London wargamer Nick Farrel and I believe Mark is making others of various sizes for Nick including a huge six gun position.  Once that order is complete Mark is going to make a few for the garage as well.  Mark is trying to set himself up as a commercial model maker and so I'm doing my bit by unashamedly promoting his work.

A front view of the redoubt this time manned by Russian Artillery.  My own ones will be greener to fit in with the terrain here and the ditch in the front will probably have a few chevaux de frise inside.

That's all for now, I'm off to see if I've got the correct spelling for "chevaux de frise".

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The run in to Christmas

It looks as if we're heading into another period of minimal activity in the garage as the Christmas holidays draw closer so the likelihood is of more one off games to allow us to thoroughly test any proposed rule amendments.  On Thursday evening with only four of us being able to make it we decided to wrap up the previous weeks' game and Eric, who has a knack for these things quickly devised an attack and defence scenario to further test our theories. 

A couple of squadrons of Elite Miniatures lancers part of a French contingent which has been making life difficult for the Russian infantry.

The scenario set a Russian force, initially of two infantry divisions, against a defending French and Allied force also of two divisions.  The French had the advantage of holding a defensive line between two villages while the Russians were able to deploy anywhere along their side of the table.  Things went quite well for the Russians on the right where a veteran division of six battalions and a three gun battery were able to force the French defenders from the woods to their front.  The arrival of a further division allowed them to maintain the momentum of the attack and with the advantage of numbers and the French left is now looking a little shaky. 

The Russian attack on the left has run into problems after trying to assault a dug in enemy.

On the Russian left however, things didn't go so well.  The nine battalions supported by a six gun battery found it difficult to dislodge an enemy which was almost equal to it in strength and were forced back to regroup.  This allowed a hole to appear in the centre of the Russian position which the French lancers gleefully exploited by running down a couple of battalions.  This wasn't helped by the Russian commanders' inability to throw the correct dice for the arrival of reserves and the light cavalry division of two Hussar and one Uhlan regiments didn't make an appearance until the last turn of the evening. 

French line infantry garrisoning one of the villages on the Russian left.  The village has been very kindly loaned to me by Mark Freeth who runs Wargames Holiday Centre.

So the game remains quite balanced and though I suspect there may be more troops yet to arrive on the French side much will rely on how effectively the Russians can use their cavalry to isolate the two French divisions by pushing through the centre.  We'll have to wait until next week when there should be one or two more players available to command the reserves.

    Finally I'd just like to say thanks to those kind folks who took the trouble to place a comment on last weeks post.  In answer to Doc's question, using ITGM the Russians in the village can fire at the supporting French battalion as long as the skirmishers are within four inches of it.  Casualties are shared with one in three coming off of the skirmishers.  When the French charge (if they do) the skirmishers are automatically moved to the rear of the battalion and take no part in any subsequent melee.

A recent new arrival to the garage is this regiment of thirty six Austrian uhlans.  Elite miniatures once again.  Unfortunately Dom appears to have fixed their lances with flour and water as most of them have fallen off.  Still they're very pretty and make a most welcome addition to the Austrian cavalry arm.


Friday, 25 November 2011

The Seldom Seen Kid

I can't quite believe it's August since I last posted on the blog.  I know I said we were in for a quiet period but three months is pushing it.  To be honest it hasn't been particularly quiet in the garage either, as despite the campaign being delayed due to Neil being unavailable for a variety of reasons, we've still managed to get a few games played.  I think we've actually only missed the one week when I was up at the Wargames Holiday Centre for a Peninsular campaign.  So why the prolonged absence?  Well first and foremost sheer laziness on my part, on numerous occasions I've sat down at the PC to start a new blog entry but somehow never actually got anything done.  It's true that I did feel that the blog was getting a little repetitive with similar battle reports and and photo's being posted each week but I've had a few enquiries regarding it's absence and so here goes.

Prussian Landwehr painted by Neil Sheardown make their entry.

We've spent a few games lately testing out tweaks to the rules we use which are "In The Grand Manner" or ITGM.  These rules have been around now for thirty years or more and were designed to allow large scale battles using lots of figures.  Not everyones idea of wargaming heaven but they work very well for the sort of games that we like to put on.  If you're not familiar with the rules then much of the following will make only a little sense, on the other hand if you are an ITGM player some of it may seem like heresy.

Another shot of the Landwehr.  The figures are all from Calpe Miinatures and are in my opinion the best there are by a country mile.  I just wish that Calpe would expand their Saxon range.

    Ok so what are the changes that we're play testing?  Firstly we've decided to stop allowing artillery (including the howitzers) to fire over the heads of friendly troops.  It almost never happened and when it did there were specific circumstances which made it possible.  The benefit of this is that players have to think much more about where they deploy their guns.  The old tactic of sticking a battery on a convenient hilltop now only works if you have a clear lane of fire to the target. 
    Next, we're enforcing the 2" rule for target classification.  Basically if troops are within 2" of each other then they become a bigger target for artillery and are therefore easier to hit.  This rule has always been around but I for one have never seen it used, it was paid lip service by simply leaving a smaller gap to indicate that units were separated.  We haven't yet really seen enough of this to be able to make a judgement but it certainly does make for a better looking game without the huge phalanxes of troops clumping forwards.

Austrian Jaeger advance warily towards an enemy occupied village.

Towns and villages haven't escaped our scrutiny and we've decided to try out something from the original edition of the rules by only allowing up to fifty percent of village occupants to fire out of any one side.  Again this is still in the early stages and my suspicion is that Russians in particular with their lower firing ability will prove to be relatively easy to "shoot out" of a village by a battalion in line.  This could lead to players defending villages from behind which would cause problems of its own.  However time will tell and it might stop villages from becoming the black holes that can often develop into, sucking in more and more men until the battle is won and lost on a single massive melee.

A Russian held village which can effectively fire only 14 men attempting to out shoot a 36 man battalion supported by 12 skirmishers.

Probably the biggest change we're trying out involves skirmishers, which under the current rules have become a fourth arm, equally as important as the cavalry, artillery and line infantry.  They are able to act almost completely independently and are often seen racing from one place to another in order to engage the juiciest targets.  What we're proposing is that skirmishers were open order troops whose task was to screen their supporting infantry, counteract the enemies skirmishers and harass their line.  With this in mind we've restricted skirmishers to operating to the front of their supporting infantry.  They must also be in visual contact with their supports who in turn must be formed troops.  They are no longer exempt from morale tests in hard cover and even when manning a skirmish building must have supporting troops within 12".

French Heavy cavalry to the rescue supported by line lancers and a horse battery.

    As I've said all of these tweaks are being play tested and we'll continue to do so for some time before anything is accepted as an amendment.  If you are a member of the ITGM yahoo group I'd be happy to give more details and even attempt some justification online.
    That's all for now hopefully it won't be another three months before I post again, oh and the title for the post comes from a favourite album of mine by Elbow, it seemed apt.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Yet more from the Battle of the River Spree

After last weeks post youcould be forgiven for assuming that the allies would by now have rolled up the French on the southern bank of the Spree and settled themselves down to await the onslaught from the northern bank. 

The cascade of Russian routers floods backwards causing havoc for their supporting cavalry and forcing the Guard to form square to avoid being pinned.

At the commencement of the evenings play things were looking quite rosy for the Allies.  With a third crossing point under their control and the phased withdrawal of the covering force on the northern bank under way their plan to capture and hold the line of the Spree seemed to be working.  However despite their numerical advantage on the southern bank they took the opportunity to feed yet more troops across into the area between the opposing frontlines.  Steve the French commander, having had the opportunity to redress his lines and push his last remaining fresh troops to the fore responded by attacking them whilst they were at their most vulnerable and before they had arrived in large enough numbers to become unstoppable.

The view from the French side, a mix of Prussian and Russian troops attempt to cross by the bridge whilst in the background the remainder of the rearguard attempt to hold off the advancing French reinforcements.

The result was a minor disaster for the Allies.  Troops routing from the melee caused morale checks on the units in their vicinity, some of which had already taken casualties and panic ensued in the Russian ranks.  If you've ever used ITGM rules you'll be aware of just how easily a couple of routs in the wrong place can spread like a disease amongst the surrounding units with even fresh units sometimes breaking.  This was precisely what happened and the whole Allied attack on the south bank ground to a halt.

Steve's last bastion against the Russian hordes which turned the tide of the game even if only for the time being.

Of course it's hardly all over for the Allies, they still have plenty of fresh units to throw into the attack once the routers have cleared and they should still have the upper hand.  What Steve's attack has achieved however is that it has bought precious time for the remainder of the French army to close with the allied covering force by clogging up one of the main crossing points.  In addition the Prussians which make up the right wing of the covering force should by now have been close to being able to cross the river at the final bridge which the Russian attack was designed to capture.  As it is they are in great danger of being caught between the advancing French and the river.

The position on the north bank, having come under heavy pressure routing and retreating Russian troops attempt to find a crossing point to safety.

We have now reached turn sixteen with the game still balanced in favour of the Allies.  With eight turns left they still have enough time to reorganise and once again assault the weakening French line.  This time the job will be given to the Russian Guard infantry who will be much more difficult to repulse.  On the plus side for the French they have the opportunity to destroy the remaining troops of the covering force before they can seek the comparitive safety of the south bank.

A panoramic shot of the battle from the Northern bank of the Spree, more and more French reinforcements push on to the table in an attempt to catch the defenders.

As usual we meet again on thursday, possibly to conclude the battle though it's even possible that this could become a three day fight with the final day seeing the Allies having reversed the original positions and defending the southern bank of the Spree against the French on the northern bank.  Stay tuned for the next report.

And finally.... some Prussian Uhlans, just because they look nice.

Monday, 8 August 2011

The Battle of the river Spree, End of Day One and Day Two

Following on, albeit a little late, from my last post the Allies despite a last gasp attack by the remainder of Justins' division were able to secure a viable bridgehead over the Spree before night fell and the various commands were reorganised prior to the next days fighting.

Having crossed the western bridges, Nicks' Russians reorganise and push on to try and wipe out the remainder of Steve's command.

Steve withdrew the division which had suffered so much at the hands of the Allied guns and formed his new line to the East.  However things looked dire for his position as once again the Allies were able to use their superior artillery numbers to fire directly into his flank across the river whilst simultaneously pushing fresh units into a frontal attack.  There was little coming in the way of help from the remainder of the French army which arrived sporadically on the far side of the back table as day two wore on only to be faced with Prussian and Russian heavy cavalry. 

The French eventually begin to arrive across the rear table but are delayed by large numbers of Allied cavalry.

This deployment led to a major confrontation between the two cavalry arms when French Cuirassier and Dragoons charged into three regiments of Prussian heavy cavalry which made up the Allied right.  The fight lasted for three rounds of combat but in the final round the Prussians were heavily outnumbered by fresh French cavalry and were bloodily defeated.  On the Allied left the Russian Guard Cavalry were opposed primarily by infantry and gave ground slowly though not without some loss.

The Prussian survivors of the cavalry melee finally break and flee.

Things were not going so well however for the French on the other side of the Spree.  Nicks' juggernaut continued to drive back Steve's battered battalions supported by heavy cavalry and uhlans and with the added impetus of the Russian Guard infantry. 

Russian Guard Infantry supported by a smattering of Prussian Battalions head eastwards in support of the Russian attack.

This was the situation at close of play on Thursday evening.  With Steve trying to maintain his lines against ever increasing pressure, whilst the French relief columns battle their way through the delaying forces of the Allies.  It appears that the Allied tactic is one of crossing the Spree once the last of the French have been cleared from the Southern bank and then holding the river line themselves in order to stop the remainder of the French army.  Whether they can do this in time is dependent on whether Napoleons force can reach the river line quickly enough to stop them crossing, though at the moment this looks unlikely.

The remnants of Steve's Corps prepare themselves for another Allied onlaught.

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Battle of the river Spree, Day One.

We're all back safe and sound from our weekend at the WHC where we had an excellent time playing Marengo.  Sadly I don't have access to the photos which Neil took of the game at the moment so I can't do a proper blog update on it until I have them.  However when one door closes another opens and so I'm now able to report on our campaign game taking place to the South of Berlin on the river Spree.

Probably the most difficult of all of the crossing points were the ones entrusted to Eric.  Covered by infantry and artillery they have so far proven impassable.

The battle kicked off with the Prussians probing forward over four of the five crossing points in order to find a weak spot.  This met with little success and their initial forays were easily dealt with.  However it was just a matter of time before the Prussian artillery was able to get into position to cover the crossing points and make life difficult for the French.

Prussian heavies make an attempt to find space on the far bank but are stopped by volley fire from French troops occupying the village.

It became clear relatively quickly that an all out assault across all of the bridges wasn't going to work and so the Prussian Artillery was called into position.  Two twelve pounder batteries began to take a heavy toll of the defenders on the French left forcing them away from the western bridge.  This allowed Dom to push some infantry over the river but once again they took heavy casualties and were forced to retreat.

The first Russians arrive and with them yet another twelve pounder battery to torment the French left.

 The Allies had apparently decided to throw everything into breaking the French left flank in order to gain a bridgehead and consequently another twelve pounder battery was unlimbered, this time a six gun Russian foot battery which immediately started to pound away at the hapless French infantry which was forced to find cover wherever it could.  Eventually the pressure began to tell and the Allied infantry was able to gain a toehold on the Southern bank, led by a lone Prussian battalion the Russians began to pour over the bridge.

Another courageous but ultimately unsuccesful attack by the Prussians in the early stages, led by light cavalry a couple of battalions sprint across the bridge to be met by a hail of fire.

However the French were now covered from some of the Allied guns by the advancing Russian troops and took the opportunity to push forward against the attackers who responded by charging at them.  The resulting melee was fought out for three rounds and though the Russians lost all of them they held their nerve and though they were forced back they were undefeated.  However almost as a sideshow this allowed a single French veteran battalion to charge into the flank of another Russian battalion which had earlier been pinned by a retreating unit which promptly turned and ran.  Undaunted the veterans charged on into the flank of the rallying combatants and this was to prove too much for them.  Having fought one tough melee they were in no mood for another and they in turn retreated from the attack.

The French counter-attack forcing back the Russian infantry and gaining some breathing space.

The whole Allied bridgehead was now in danger but instead of attacking the lone Prussian battalion which was the only formed unit on the French bank of the river the French believing their job done withdrew behind the cover of the hill.  This allowed the Russians to recover and the minor crisis for the Allies was past.  As it stands now on turn twenty with only four turns to go until nightfall the allies maintain a small but established hold on the Southern bank of the river and are poised to push more troops across in the last few turns.  Nightfall will probably bring a redressing of the lines and if the Allies will be able to move more troops over during the night.  Of course they will have to bear in mind that the arrival of the rest of the French army in their rear is imminent and will need to consider how many troops they can afford to push over the Spree without leaving the remainder of the army hopelessly outnumbered.

Calpe Prussian Landwehr painted and based by Julian Waites.

Finally here is the latest arrival at the garage, a battalion of Calpe Landwehr which was painted by Julian Waites.  Julians' output isn't great in terms of volume as he doesn't get much time to paint but the quality is outstanding and the figures are always worth the wait.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

River Terrain

It looks set to be a lean period for the next week or so here on the blog.  There was little to report last week as we had decided to give our usual weekly get together a miss so rather than just babble on I decided against making a post.  This week once again there's not much to say as we spent much of Wednesday evening sorting out some of the terrain for our forthcoming campaign battle on the river Spree.  Steve's Auerstadt game continued in the background but it was a half hearted affair and we decided to finish it early with no result so that we could begin the campaign battle next week.

The river Spree from the Northern bank which is where the French will be defending.

We'll be starting the game on Thursday evening and I would normally then create a post at the weekend.  However on Friday morning we're all off to the Wargames Holiday Centre for the weekend to refight the battle of Marengo but more of that later.  The campaign game has Soults' IV corps defending the line of the river Spree in order to stop the Allies from retaking Berlin.  They are opposed by two Prussian divisions under Von Arnim and I think Von Ruchel (I'm one of the French players so I'm unsure about the Allied formations).  Both of these divisions took part in the battle at Leipzig and have suffered losses in numbers and morale also one of them lost an entire brigade at the crossing of the Elbe. 

The Spree from the Southern bank, the Allies should have their work cut out to make a succesful crossing.

This leaves both infantry arms roughly equal with the French probably having the edge in the class of their troops.  Fortunately for the Prussians however a Russian army of about twenty thousand is hot their heels and might be able to make the difference once it gets into position.  We've been told that the Tsar is accompanying this force and so it's almost certain that the Russian Imperial Guard will also be in attenadance.  What further complicates the scenario is that Napoleon with the rest of the French army is closing on the Allies from the South and can be expected to make an appearance before the game ends.  This puts the Allies under tremendous pressure.  They will need to decide whether to try to force the crossing and take the inevitably high level of casualties or to try and deny the crossing to the French and turn to face the Emperor.  Either way they have a difficult task ahead of them.


Three battalions of Russian grenadiers which have recently hit the shelves at the garage.  All are from Front Rank,the centre and right hand ones were painted by Neil Sheardown.  the ones on the left by myself.

Finally back to the weekend away, as I stated previously we're playing Marengo which is not a game I've played before and from what little I know of the actual battle it should be an interesting challenge for the game designer. Weekends were always a bit of a headache before the centre moved to a more easily accessible location due to the amount of time spent travelling between Plymouth and Scarborough but now we can make the journey in three hours. This still means however that there'll be no blog update until we return, and that will primarily be about the weekends' game.  I'll try to get lots of pictures and do a full battle report but I tend to get a bit involved in the games at the centre and forget all about it.  That said there should be plenty of us taking photos and Mark Freeth who runs the Centre will as always have an after battle report on the website so if I do get carried away with the game I can always just put a link to his site on the blog.

Sunday, 26 June 2011


We're now into the full glory of our English summer which so far has consisted of an assortment of rain, mist, high winds and cloudy skies, variously mixed together to produce a pretty dismal though consistent backdrop to daily life.  However as I write, my better half is sunning herself in the garden, and there's a real prospect that tomorrow might be "pleasant " too.  Which is about as far ahead as I trust the ability of our so called weather forecasters to divine from whichever piece of seaweed or chicken entrails they are currently using.  So why am I wittering on about the weather on a wargaming blog?  I suppose it's because that regardless of the meteorological situation, we're at the period when availability of our regular gamers takes a bit of a hit and we find ourselves filling time.  So once again this week due to unavailability we were unable to continue with the campaign which as you may remember will next consist of the Prusso - Russo attempt to cross the River Spree while Marshall Davouts IV corps takes pot shots at them from the other side. 

Our initial attempt at river sections sporting some of the bridges which the brave Allies will be using.

Though we do have several river boards, there are nothing like enough to cover the fifteen feet of table that Neil wanted to use on the battlefield, so we looked for other solutions.  What we've come up with is simply roofing felt cut into irregular strips and painted blue with a little white on the edges for effect.  Actually they're not too bad and once we've used them for the battle we have plans to improve them by adding banks and the odd patch of reeds.  The good thing is that they only took about thirty minutes to produce including the cutting out and initial painting.  The sections are designed to be not less than five inches wide at any point meaning that any musket fire across them must be at least at effective range and all of the ends are of course the same width to enable them to be placed together.
    It does seem however that the campaign will have to wait a little while longer as with so many of us unavailable due to holidays, exams etc. there won't be enough of us around for a couple of weeks to make continuing with it feasible.  Added to this is the fact that in mid July most of us are off to the Wargames Holiday Centre for the weekend to play Marengo which is one of the new games I've never played before. 

The Prussian right wing lacking artillery support recoils from sustained French fire.

Of course give a group of gamers a little time coupled with a supply of terrain and figures and it won't be long before they've got a game started.  So almost inevitably someone, in this case Steve, came up with a scenario which he'd been mulling over for a while.  It's based on Davouts epic fight against the Prussians at Auerstadt and consists of a prepared defensive line for the French being assaulted by more and more Prussian infantry divisions.  Artillery is limited at the moment which seems to be favouring the French but more enemy troops seem to be arriving each turn.

The French left wing having fought off one half hearted assault awaits the next one.

At the moment the French appear to have the upper hand which is understandable as they have the better class troops and the Prussians have to attack across difficult terrain but as their numbers increase it will be come more difficult for the French to hold them at bay.

One of the small number of batteries so far deployed, firing on distant Prussian cavalry.

We'll be continuing in two weeks as there's no game next week due to shortage of numbers, and we should have it decided by then.  Which means we'll have a week to begin the campaign game on the Spree before we head off to play Marengo.  So all in all a pretty disjointed period here at the garage but eventually normal service will be resumed and the campaign should start to hot up with the arrival of the first Russian troops.

French veteran light infantry beat off an assault  by two columns causing disruption in the Prussian centre. 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Fall of Berlin

No battle to report on this week as we spent the whole of wednesday evening carrying out campaign map moves. We did however eventually generate one definite battle and the likelihood of another.

The general area of action, Berlin and upper Saxony.

Following their defeat at Leipzig the Allies retired to the east, splitting their force, with the Saxons and Von Arnims corps heading towards Dresden and the divisions of Brunswick and von Ruchel heading northeast towards Torgau.  The French after spending the morning reorganising followed up behind the northeastern column and were able to catch and destroy the Prussian division acting as rearguard covering the crossing of the Elbe river.  In the meantime Soults' IV Corps having already crossed the Elbe moved through Dessau and continued to advance on Berlin via  Weisenburg and Trebbin. 
    In an attempt to cut off Soult the Prussians abandoned Torgau to its garrison and moved north to Dennewitz, but they were too late and Berlin fell to Soult without a shot being fired.  The Royal family had long since fled along with their government to an as yet unknown refuge in the east but the fall of Berlin was a hammer blow to Prussian morale.  Torgau fell after a short but spirited fight to Marmonts II Corps while Davouts' III Corps continued to follow the Prussians who now headed east from Dennewitz to Leuben.

Two of the many command figures painted by Justin, new ones appear almost every week.  These are Austrian divisional commanders, Elite Miniatures on the right and I think Front Rank on the left. Addendum: both are Elite miniatures.

At this stage the French received information that a Russian column of around 25,000 men was advancing westward with what looked like the intention of joining up with the Prussian army.  Therefore Napoleon decided to try and knock out the Prussians before the Russians could arrive and began to move on Leuben expecting the Prussians to cross the river Spree.  Surprisingly they decided to follow the southern bank of the Spree, shadowed about a days march behind by the Russians who it was discovered were accompanied by the Tsar himself.  They then continued their march and against all expectations decided to launch an opposed river crossing against Soults IV Corps ensconced in Berlin.

More of Justins divisional commanders, this time French infantry and carabinnier both by Front Rank.

Not to be outdone by their Prussian allies the Russians despite having knowledge that the remainder of the French army was hot on their heels followed along behind and have joined in the attack on Soult.  So the situation as it stands at dawn is that Soults IV Corps is defending the river Spree against Brunswick and Von Ruchel with the Russians beginning to appear behind them.  Napoleon with Marmont and Davout are following closely behind the Russians and should start to appear on the table before last light.

More of Justins Front Rank French, I particularly like the basing on the infantry General and his mud splashed cloak.

So it appears we have a must win situation for the Allies with their river crossing or they face the prospect of being caught by a superior force with their backs to a river, the other bank of which is held by the enemy.  In practical terms this means that we have to produce some river terrain before we can fight the battle and as we have very few river boards for the table it's come down to strips of roofing felt painted and laid on to the existing terrain boards.  Not ideal but with a bit of work they could be made to look presentable.

Carabinnier trumpeteer and Cuirassier commander, again both Front Rank.

I thought it would be a good idea to showcase some of Justin Daveys' command figures which he brings along to the garage with amazing regularity, something in the order of two each week.  We use a system whereby divisional commanders and staff officers are represented by a single figure, Corps commanders by two figures and Army commanders by three or more.  So the command base in the  picture above would be used  for a cavalry Corps.  Justin has produced the vast majority of these figures and is, I believe currently painting a group of Russian commanders.

Front Rank French Divisonal commanders.

Attendance at the garage is likely to be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks as we head into what is laughingly known as summer in this part of the world so it's unlikely that there'll be a battle report next week either.  However I'll try to keep posting photos and talking rubbish at least once a week so as always, stay tuned.