Friday, 29 April 2011

A Matter of Space

You could tell by the looks on the faces of the French commanders' that it was all over bar the shouting by turn fifteen on day two of our latest battle.  The French counter attack which the Allies had been steeling themselves for failed to materialise and their efforts to resecure their embattled right flank were doomed to failure.  The final straw was the loss of the vital central village which was the linchpin of the French defensive line, this fell on turn thirteen and the resulting routs caused havoc amongst the fresh troops lining up to assault the Austrian lines.

Prussian infantry capture and hold the woods which form the French right.

The main problem that the French encountered seemed to be a lack of space in which to deploy what troops they had, and they were always vulnerable to the effects of retreating or routing troops disordering their fresh units.  Added to this was the fact that many of their existing troops were in such a poor state that any rout passing by them would be likely to encourage them to follow suit.  This is eventually exactly what happened and by the time the domino effect of routs had taken it's toll even units at full strength and in square were beginning to retreat. 

Utter confusion in the French centre.  The white discs show the position of routing troops amongst the mass of reinforcements.  We find that this causes less damage than putting the routing troops on top.

Nick had decided to go for an assault against the Austrian with his last throw of the dice and the eight battalions of the reserve infantry dutifully lined out in to their attack columns behind what was left of the Westphalian and Berg infantry.  However they were unable to get moving before the mass of refugees from the French centre ran headlong into them.  On the other side of the table this gave the Russians extra time to arrive and take up supporting positions behind the Austrians and their heavy cavalry was able to throw back the French cuirassier threatening the Austrian right.

The Young Guard advance to retake the woods but were unable to withstand the volley fire from lined out Prussian veterans and the pounding from two foot batteries.

Even with hindsight it's difficult to imagine how the French could have achieved a successful result in this battle as soon as it moved into a second day.  They were always constrained by the ever shrinking area available and found it difficult to move troops to the places they were most needed.  The one force they could have possibly deployed earlier was the Young Guard which sat at the rear of their line for most of the game and when it was used it was forced to cross broken terrain in order to reach its target.  This left the attack disjointed and the total lack of artillery support meant that they were attacking fresh units at full strength.

Russian cuirassier and horse artillery advancing to support the Allied right.

All said though we had two enjoyable games from this scenario which of course is the point of it all. I thought it might be useful to give an outline of the orbats for both sides so here they are:

1 x 36 jaeger
11 x 48 line
4 x 36 line
2 x 48 grenz
1 x 36 grenz
6 x 36 grenadier

2 x 24 Lt cav
1 x 24 cuirassier

2 x 6lb foot bty
1 x 12lb foot bty

Some of the Austrians which made up the Allied right flank for most of the game.

16 x 32 line
11 x 32 landwehr

3 x 24 lt cav
3 x 24 hvy cav

3 x 6lb foot bty
1 x 12lb foot bty
1 x 6lb hse bty

The Prussians reorganise having captured the vital strongpoint in the French line.

12 x 32 line

2 x 32 dragoon
1 x 32 cuirassier

1 x 6lb foot bty
1 x 6lb hse bty

French cuirassier attempt to unlock the Austrian right.

44 x 36 line
8 x 32 young guard

4 x 24 lt cav
2 x 24 lancer
1 x 32 dragoons
2 x 32 cuirassier

3 x 8lb foot bty
1 x 12lb foot bty
2 x 6lb hse bty

French dragoons who were unable to get in to combat due to limited manouevring space.

That's it for this game, next week we'll clear away what figures still need to be put away and prepare for the next conflict.  I think I'm getting battle fatigue.  Neil will hopefully be giving us an in depth brief on the new campaign the first part of which appears to be army selection and map moves.  This could take some time so it looks like another generated scenario will be starting, more of which in the next post.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Decision Time

Our current game appears to have reached the point of decision for the French in particular.  Nick the French commander needs to decide where he is going to use his reinforcements to achieve the best result and time is running out.  He has an as yet unrevealed force marching on table, which I strongly suspect to be an infantry division and he also has his reserve young guard formation, eight battalions strong.  The choices are a little limited, firstly he can decide to reinforce his defensive line and hold out until nightfall.  Secondly he can choose an area for a counter attack and go for it hoping that the rest of his line can hold off the remaining Allies.

French and Polish troops move into position for a possible assault on the Austrian lines.

On the Allied side the good news is that the Russians have finally appeared and are moving into position behind the embattled Austrian lines.  True enough they have taken their sweet time, but their chances of ever being involved  improved drastically when Eric decided to take on the responsibility for rolling the dice for their arrival following my own pitiful attempts.  The two infantry divisions and a division of heavy cavalry should hopefully be enough for the Allies to either stem the French tide or even put in another assault.

The thin white line, Erics' Austrians await the possible onslaught.  The boards are used to mark units which haven't yet been spotted by the enemy.

On the Allied left the Prussian artillery has seen off its opposite numbers on the French side leaving the French right bereft of guns.  This should hopefully (I say hopefully because it's my command) allow the Prussians to get forward once they've concentrated on softening up the opposing infantry for a few turns.  There was an inclonclusive melee in the area around the village which forms the main strong point of the French line.  Three battalions of French and four of Prussians fought each other to a stalemate and both were forced to pull back to reorganise. 

Much of what is left of the French cavalry facing the Prussians, a squadron of lancers line up a tempting target.  Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.

Wednesday night was unique in 2011 as it was the first time that all eight of us were present at once.  As well as catching up with all the normal nonsense, we were able to set a date for our first visit to the new Wargames Holiday Centre.  We decided on the weekend 15-17 July and will be fighting the battle of Marengo so that'll be something to look forward to.

The Prussians forming the Allied left reform after a severe tussle with the French defenders.

Once again Justin turned up with some more of his lovely command figures and though he was somewhat dismissive about them I think they're very nice indeed.  He's currently working on something which he constantly refers to as project X which hopefully is wargames related, though knowing Justin it could just as easily be a time machine.  There are even dark hints of Projects X2 and X3.  Who knows where it will end?

Austrian staff officers, hussars and grenadiers.  The figures are by Elite miniatures I think

I can't imagine us finishing the battle next week but we should have a better idea of which way it's going to go so watch this space for further updates.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Business As Usual

We kicked off the second day of Dom's scenario on wednesday evening with the French forces hemmed in to an almost semi-circular defensive position facing the Prussians on their right and the Austrians on their left.

The French reserve, Middle and Young Guard battalions await the call to action.

On the Allied left things continued much as before with the Prussians trying to force the French right further and further back.  Many of the Prussian units saw no action on the first day and are therefore fresh and at 100% strength.  Once again the Prussians are attempting to make a hole with their artillery before sending in the infantry to exploit the situation.  At the same time they are engaging the flanks of the French right and are in a good position to capture the wood which forms the French extreme right.

Prussian Infantry and divisional cavalry wait patiently for the guns to soften up the French right.

On their left however the French appear to be thinking about making a breakout and have massed a large amount of infantry with heavy cavalry support opposite the Austrians.  In response to this move Eric has set his Austrian hordes up in a defensive position though he appears to have the facility to switch to the offensive should the opportunity materialise.

Part of Erics' defenses, six pounder artillery supported by infantry.

Reserves are once again a talking point Dom arrived armed with a pack of cards and each side had to select one to discover when they can start rolling for reinforcements.  Quite how the rolling works is still a mystery as I selected a sufficiently high enough card to discount any chance of them arriving for some time yet.  Who knows?  By the time the Russians finally arrive it could be over one way or the other.

Yet another of Justins' lovely command bases which he brought along this week, this is one of the excellent Calpe Prussian sets.

Next week it looks as if we'll have a full house for the first time in ages, which means eight of us in all.  I just hope the biscuits can take the strain. 

Friday, 8 April 2011

End of Round One

Our latest game came to a temporary close last night, no great surprise as there were only two turns until nightfall.  This has proved to be just a lull in the action however as we've already set up the table for day two.  Dom being one of the French players grudgingly admitted that the Allies have the upper hand after the first day and the new set up has the French forces bottled in to a position which curves back on the right where they face the Prussians.

Prussian infantry get to grips with the French right wing.

The casualties from the first day are carried over to day two which should be interesting.  Units which start the game with casualties can be very brittle and it's going to take a little bit of thought about where to put the remaining untouched units.  As yet there is little talk of reinforcements though the Allies are aware that a Russian corps is marching towards the battle.  Quite when it will arrive though will be subject to the strange system of reinforcement rolls which Dom has devised.

An idea of how heavy the fighting became for the central position.  The French managed to hold on until dark and the village in the centre now forms the main strongpoint of their position.

In order to give us a bit more room the terrrain boards have all been moved across by three feet and new terrain has been added behind the French position.  This should give us more room to manoeuvre though it does mean that initially we'll be fighting across the gap in the tables.  However we all seem to be getting used to that now so it shouldn't be too much of a headache.

Action on the French left.  A limited counter-attack carried out by the Poles in order to secure the terrain for the following day.

So the terrain is done for day two and we've got the troop tiles laid out ready for turn one next week.  With a bit of luck Neil will be along for the first time in ages which means the photos ought to improve and he might also have some news about the new campaign. 
     In addition to bringing posh biscuits Justin also brought along three very nice new command figures which he's painted.  I think they're the best stuff he's done yet and apparently he's got lots more in the pipeline.

French Carabinnier senior officer, Front Rank figures.

Prussian officer, I think this one is by Calpe.

No picture of the third figure I'm afraid, I couldn't get a shot of it that looked right so we'll have to wait for Neils mini Hubble to do it justice.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Meat Grinder

This battle is starting to resemble some of the later clashes during the Napoleonic wars, when tactical finesse was abandoned for the battering ram approach.  With only two more turns until nightfall both sides are feeding in more troops in order to do the maximum amount of damage to the enemy before darkness calls a halt to proceedings.

Prussians of V Corps advancing into the area swept clear of enemy by their superior weight of artillery.

Nearly all of the troops from both sides are now fighting on the rear table and the French are slowly being forced back by the Allies on their right flank and in the centre.  However Dom's troops  holding the French left have inflicted reverses on Erics' hard pressed Austrians, the fighting here seems to have been particularly fierce.

Austrian Jaeger and Grenz form square in the face of freshly arriving Cuirassiers.

The French have received some reinforcements during the game but these have had limited effect due to the space available to deploy them.  On the other hand the Russian reinforcements for the Allieswhich have a whole tables worth of space to arrive on have failed to materialise.  It's worth pointing out that this is a two day game so doubtless the Russians will eventually get their chance and will be a useful fresh formation to spearhead the Allies next assault. 

Wurtemburgers from the reserve corps are thrown in to shore up the French left.

At the moment we don't know how Dom is going to reflect the casualties from this days fighting into the second day.  I asked him on Wednesday night but he remained tight lipped, which means he doesn't know either.  Either way it should be interesting to see what effect the losses have on the various formations, for instance having fought practically non stop throughout the game on the French right, Nick's light cavalry division is now practically non existent.  The same goes for the Prussian heavies that they were fighting against who have also lost heavily.

Chaos in the French centre as pinned guns and infantry in square are about to be charged by the Prussians.

I think it's been four weeks now that we've been playing this game but it will certainly be over next week and then it'll be on to Dom's megolamania part two.  I wouldn't be too surprised to see all of the dead formations reconstituted as new ones just so that he can get more stuff on the tables.  However hopefully we'll have Neil back in a couple of weeks time and we'll be able to start the new campaign that he's planning.

Part of the French reinforcements, a heavy cavalry division, pour onto the table but are in no position to have much effect.  In the middle distance is the fight for the centre.

 Another good thing about Neil returning is that he'll be bringing his camera and we won't have to put up with my digital Pentax, which in all honesty isn't really sufficient for this type of photography.