Thursday, 24 May 2012

Battle for the Centre

A new game with broadly the same forces as our previous one but this time on the other table using different terrain.  As we haven't yet been able to get the campaign under way we continued on Thursday with the smallish battle which we had started last week.  This time the French have made a bold decision to place the majority of their strength on the left flank in an attempt to crush the Allied right whilst holding on to their centre and their own right flank.

The French right, having taken the strategically vital village Neils' Russians push forward against a weak French division.

The strategy seems to be working on the left for the French, and the Prussians holding the Allied right flank appear to be cracking under the strain of overwhelming artillery firepower supported by infantry and what appears to be all of the French cavalry.  However time will tell if they have left their right and centre too weak to withstand the Allied attacks which are bearing down on them.

The French centre held by a division of Young Guard has already seen off one attack by Nicks' Russians but now has to weather the storm from an assaulting Prussian Division.

In the centre Andy's Young Guard were initially assaulted by a division of Nick's Russians.  The fight went to the full three rounds of combat but Nick was unable to dislodge the youngsters and his troops withdrew to reform.  Meanwhile however the wily Nick had pushed a smaller division of Prussians into the orchard outside of the village and this force is now in position to put in a second assault against the battered defenders.  In this scenario the Young Guard are rated as militia for firing and manoeuvre but as veteran for morale and melee and they'll need every advantage they can get if they're to hold off the concerted Allied assaults.

The attack on the Allied left is going well for the French, despite losing both cavalry melees so far they have ample infantry and artillery to make life extremely difficult for the Prussian troops holding the Allied right.

On the left the French have taken and maintained the initiative and are beginning to attack in force against the Prussian infantry to their front.  The Prussians faced a stark choice between annihilation from the fire of three batteries, or assault against equal numbers of Wurtemburgers.  They chose to assault but the firepower of the defenders aided by cannister was too much and they were unable to close.

A division of Prussian Landwehr take shelter behind a shallow rise.  As yet uncommitted, they should come in useful in the fight for the centre.

As things stand it's too close to call on how this game will pan out, and the fight in the centre will probably prove to be the crucial result for both sides.  The arrival of a Swiss division behind the French left appears to mark the last of the reinforcements for either side and these are currently heading to their right to shore up the central position.  Whether or not their comrades can hold out long enough for their arrival remains to be seen.

Another view of the centre, Prussian infantry in the orchard prepare to assault while in the background Russian infantry prepare to throw their weight into the melee.

Hopefully next week with the return of the wandering Geordie we'll have some news regarding the campaign and of course I'll be reporting on how the current game developed. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Russian Flankers

While awaiting the first map moves in the new campaign we've been filling the time with a small encounter battle which I briefly mentioned in the last blog update.  As yet there's little to report on the campaign front so instead here's a few pics and a somewhat one-sided view of this latest scrap.  The Russian and Prussian Allied force of six Russian infantry divisions, two Prussian divisions and a division of Russian cavalry were tasked with ejecting a combined Franco-German force form a defensive line linking two villages and with its right flank resting on a small river.

Wurtemburg infantry regroup after fighting off an asssault by Russian infantry.  In the background a Prussian formation lines up to make a second attempt for the Allies.

The French and German troops had at their disposal a division each of Westphalians and Wurtemburgers, a combined Hessen-Darmstadt and Cleve Berg division, a French infantry division and a division of young guard.  Finally added to this was a light cavalry division of three regiments. 
The Allies made the decision to attack in strength on their right while holding the centre with a small force supported by artillery.  On their left more Russian infantry made the link to the Prussians who had to cross the river before they could get into the action.

Having lost the left hand village and with their flank under combined artillery and infantry attack the French left begins to crumble.

The French deployment saw the Westphalians and Hessen Darmstadt troops holding the left with the young guard in the centre and the Wurtemburgers holding the village on the right.  The last French division was off table but was scheduled to arrive around turn six on the far right of the French position and on the wrong side of the river. 
    As it turned out both sides attacked on their respective right flanks.  The French for some reason neglected to fully cover their left and a strong Russian force was able to manouvre past their main defensive position and turn the flank.  This then allowed another Russian column to assault the main French defensive position which by now had become the corner of an "L" shaped position.  With no cavalry and little artillery support the the French left quickly buckled.

The French right, eight battalions of seasoned infantry advance to engage a Landwehr division which after the initial firefight simply turned and fled.

On the French right things went a little better,  with the Prussian a division already halfway through the process of transferring from one side of the river to the other the Landwehr which were waiting their turn to cross were dismayed to see the arrival of fresh French troops.  There would be no time for them to cross to safety and accordingly they shook out into line of battle to await the arrival of the French.  Sadly there were to be no heroic stands by the part timers and they were summarily swept from the field having hardly fired a shot.

Young guard infantry holding the centre of the French position.  These were eventually pushed forward to try and relieve the pressure on the French left but it was too little too late.

On the face of things with the successes of both right flanks it would appear to have been a drawn fight but in reality it was a comprehensive victory for the Allies.  The defeat of the Landwehr whilst admirable was effectively a sideshow taking place as it did on the far bank of the river and away from the main fighting.  Whereas by turning the French left the Allies had inflicted heavy casualties and were in a good position to pursue the broken German troops all the way to the banks of the river where few of them would have been able to escape over the solitary bridge.  The young guard would have been isolated and also forced to surrender or face destruction.

Wurtemburg foot artillery.  These are Firing Line miniatures and until the introduction of the new range from Front rank I believe they were the only ones available.

So an interesting game which finished early enough for us to clear the figures away and then start yet another one.  This one with almost the same forces but with some casualties having been removed and the introduction of a few reinforcements.  Hopefully by the next post we may have had some action on the campaign front but with Eric being away for the next fortnight topping up his Geordie accent we will have to rely on his deputies to carry out his movements.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The New Campaigning Season Arrives

Anyone who has visited this blog on more than a handful of occasions will probably be aware that here in the garage we're great fans of campaigns.  From a personal viewpoint I enjoy one off battles and refighting historical encounters but I greatly prefer games where there is more at stake than just winning or losing and the decision of whether or not to sacrifice troops to one or another end has a knock on effect outside of the game itself.  Our most recent campaign which was devised and run by Neil was set around 1806 and pitted Napoleons veterans against three seperate Allied armies.  The result was a very enjoyable series of encounters between the French and both the Russians and Prussians.  The Austrians sadly never made it to the ball and spent most of their time attempting to chase down the Bavarian army.  The whole thing ended with the French in possession of Berlin where they were faced by a large Russian force assisted by the remnants of the Prussian army.

A scene from our latest game.  Westphalians and Hessen-Darmstadt troops forming the left wing of the French position.

Our next attempt at a campaign is going to be on a much less grand scale, featuring relatively small armies carying out limited offensives and incursions into their neighbours territory.  The two nations of Saxphalia and Hanenberg are the main protagonists with their armies respectively based on French and Prussian forces.  One of the main differences in this campaign to our other efforts is the problem of logistics.  Armies will not be simply allowed to go wandering off into enemy territory without the proper back up and should they try to they will find life becomes very difficult. 

A French six pounder battery covering the centre engages in counter battery fire with its Russian counterpart.

Armies will have to stockpile resources in forward depots in order for their troops to operate on enemy territory and as the lines of supply lengthen the depots themselves will have to be moved up to avoid loss through wastage.  This should ideally generate encounters between small forces with limited objectives such as the capture of a group of two or three strategically important towns. 

The French right wing is bolstered by the arrival of a fresh infantry division.  In the distance a division of Landwehr deploys to cover the flank of a line division.

Another change to the way we normally run campaigns is that the Army commander is not all powerful, but instead is employed by the government and charged with the defence of the nation.  Because of this a series of bad results or even one sufficiently poor showing will be enough to see the commander fired (possibly from a cannon) and replaced with a new man.  In the meantime the government will probably be sueing for peace and having to cede territory.  Normally in our campaigns the commanders have carte blanche to act as they wish and this can sometimes lead to ill advised or rash decisions being made when things aren't going well.  This "one last throw of the dice" mentality doesn't really reflect the way nations operate and a honourable peace is far more appealing than utter defeat.

Wurtemburg infantry holding a strongpoint in the French centre keep a wary eye on the Russian infantry opposing them.

In order to get the campaign under way we started a small game on thursday which is only designed to last for a couple of weeks while allowing individuals to leave the game periodically in order to carry out campaign moves.  It is a straight encounter battle between a French and Allied force made up of about fifty percent German troops against a similar size force of Russians and Prussians.  Terrain is at a minimum as is artilliery and cavalry, the idea being to allow the two infantry arms to engage each other relatively quickly and thereby achieve a quick result. 

Another one of Justins beautifully painted command stands.  This time a Prussian Divisional commander (Front Rank I think).  Justin has the pleasing habit of turning up with one or two of these little gems every now and again.

Finally I popped up to the WHC again last weekend for a refight of Waterloo but as I don't want to get the reputation of being a front for the place I'll leave it until things are a bit quiet before I post some pictures and a battle report.