Saturday, November 21, 2015

Somewhere German-speaking: 56 years later

Empire has always been our Napoleonic rules of choice, love it or hate it, I don't care.  Today's scenario was set in 1813.  So gone is the army from the Camp of Boulogne.  In place of it is a mass of conscripts bolstered by veterans recalled to the colors or built around cadres from Spain.  Cavalry is down-graded and it faces a resurgent Prussia.  Eager to avenge past indignities.

The Prussian right.  The large stream is slow going and disorders
chargers except at fords.
The road to France is covered by a corps led by Marechal Marmont, Duc du Ragusa.  His 34 battalions. already depleted by the rigors of war, and cavalry full of regiments on remounts, faced off against Marshal Blucher.  "Alt Vorwarts" had 36 battalions to attack with, ranging from grenadiers to landwehr.  His cavalry was plentiful if not spectacular, but he had plenty of guns.

Prussian left.  My command.

Prussian center with a massed grand battery.

The river and skillful fire initially stopped the Prussian flanking movement by cavalry on their left.  The terrain and deployment meant that although in large numbers, cavalry did not play a significant role in the engagement.

Contact was made across the field and very few elements were unengaged from the start.  Due to leadership and decent dice the attacking Prussians held the tactical initiative for all four hours of the battle.  In the picture above an elite "brigade" of Prussians first massed in dead ground and then began to work on the French lines.

The Prussian grand battery was ineffective at first but rapidly began to shred the hapless French battalions facing it.  While the French guns were still Class I and the Prussian only Class III, the weight of numbers told quickly.

On the left center the Prussian grenadiers and guards (only rated grenadier) advanced methodically due to the disordering effects of the water.  But once beyond it were aggressive, even though uncomfortably pressed together.

French view of the Prussians breaking through.  The heavy guns on the hill have stalled some but the grenadiers are pushing the French conscripts and veterans back steadily.

The grand battery in action as cavalry and a reserve "brigade" await the orders to advance on the shot up French.

Another view of the somewhat stagnated Prussian right.  Their cavalry simply couldn't break through.

The Prussian left-center has broken through and is threatening even greater advances.  The reserves were committed the fourth hour of combat to run over the severely depleted French center and support the breakthrough element.  And so Marmont decided to yield the field.  Given that the Prussians had mostly been ordered to attack to specific territorial objectives, once broken off the French could easily open up a breathing gap.

So in the end our five players completed four hourly rounds of combat in four real hours.  We are a bit rusty on the rules but the game played quickly and with much laughter as we experienced the joys of poorly trained troops rather than the usual crack armies.  The Prussians had 432 infantry against only 306 French castings, but we felt the defensive nature of the battle and troops would make it a good fight.  In the end it was the mass of Prussian artillery that made a difference.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Somewhere German-Speaking

The latest in our Final Argument of Kings games featured Prussians vs. French.  My good camera has failed, so my phone had to suffice for pictures.

Six French cavalry regiments faced an equal number, if sometimes smaller sized group of superior Prussians.  Eighteen battalions (two Swiss and two grenadier) opposed sixteen Prussian, ranging from a monster grenadier battalion to Frei Korps troops.  The French had three medium and one heavy battery.  Not sure what the Prussians fielded for artillery.  Given the qualitative edge across the board for the Prussians, we thought it would give chances for both sides.

The Prussians split their cavalry equally between the two wings, while the French kept theirs concentrated on the left.  Newly painted Maison du Roi were in one brigade.  They wasted no time and charged with supports as soon as they were within range and threw back the out-numbered Prussian cavalry.

In the center the French advanced only far enough to contest some light woods and establish a line.  The Prussians advanced boldly and managed to catch the French heavy battery limbered, scattering it with artillery fire.  The other Prussian cavalry brigade advanced unopposed, only held up slightly by terrain features.

As the battle progressed the French cavalry ran off or destroyed their opposite numbers while retaining enough fresh troops to impact the center.  The infantry lines began to do a clock-wise turn as each left defeated their opponents.  The devastating volleys of the Prussian regulars was dealing out great harm but the French were holding on as the two grenadier battalions were committed.  The other Prussian cavalry, taking a wide swing to avoid entangling with friendlies, emerged too late to save the day.

With the resurgent French cavalry ready to fall upon their flanks and rear the Prussians began a steady withdrawal.  Given the shattered state of most of the infantry, the French could only follow, not pursue.

I don't recall how many turns were played but it was perfect for the time available and we were done in two hours, not counting set up and take down.  Thanks to Todd, Dan and Andrew for coming over for a friendly one-off game.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Diplomatic Relations

Count Lippe, head diplomat in the court of Grand-Duke Orzepovski of Litharus is pleased to announce a grand ball to welcome Baron Erik Juel of Denmark-Norway.  Representing King Frederick IV, the opening of formal diplomatic relations brings with it the opportunity to take goods to many fine ports and bring in finished goods.  The initial meeting was reportedly very cordial with talk of renewing the alliance that fought against Charles XII in the Great Northern War this century.

Given the uncertain state of relations with neighboring Latveria, the prospect of new opportunities for trade and allies is most welcome.  Several portraits were delivered along with the diplomatic retinue. 

King Frederick of Denmark-Norway
Queen Louise of Mecklenburg-Gustrow
One wonders if the inclusion of a portrait of Princess Charlotte is a hint of a marriage alliance?

Princess Charlotte

Reliable reports suggest the Danish field army would bring a solid force to any battlefield.

1st  Birka LN 
2nd Visby LN 
3rd Viborg LN 
1st Skara Lt 
1st Trondheim 
2nd Trondheim 
Art (5 guns) 
Dragoon Brigade 
Plus 3 ships of line and 2 attack sloops.

Monday, October 12, 2015


No, I don't mean Australians, but new miners added to my SYW forces.  There is little information on the few forces that had a standing force, as opposed to drafting men from the ranks of an infantry battalion, so I made them pretty generic.  With the up-surge in interest in these parts and campaign potential they could serve many masters.

London War Room figures produced now by RSM, I picked these up at this years Seven Years War Association Convention in South Bend on a whim.  Finally painting up the dribbles and drabs of this and that.  Click on the pictures to big up.  Camera has been a bit wonky lately, so not the best images.

As above but with the flash.  Better?

Mud-splattered and with dirty faces they are ready to repel a sortie with a brace of pistols, sabre and even the shovel.  If needed they would do a good job of supporting or supplementing the Memel Pioneers of Litharus.

Next up on the paint sticks: Prussian artillerists and two light guns, French dragoons and finishing the Royal Ecossais battalion.  Then... who knows?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Alten has Fallen!

Following the passage of the Vistula River at Zahn and the successful rear guard action a day later, eight players gathered to fight for the prize of the campaign: the town of Alten reportedly containing the Latverian army chest.  Casualties have been carried forward with (statistically) half the battle casualties returning to the ranks the following day.

Rules are Batailles des Ancien Regime by Bill Protz.  Figure ratio is 10:1 and units are battalions, half-battalions and squadrons.  In this game we drew movement cards followed by firing cards for each command.  In "BAR" you can adapt it as needed.  In the previous smaller games each card allowed the owning player to move or shoot just a single unit.  A joker allows you to "trump" a card and seize the initiative for movement or shooting.  As the out-numbered defenders, the Latverians were granted one joker at the start.

For this engagement the Litharusian liberators fielded two grenadier, six line and a light battalion, each nominally of 600 men.  Additionally they had eight squadrons and three light guns.  The Latverian defenders had one grenadier battalion, four line battalions, three light half-battalions and three militia half-battalions.  One of the latter being mustered thanks to the successful delaying action.  Eight squadrons, two medium and one heavy gun completed their OB.  The heavy gun was placed in works, and enough redoubts had been erected to cover one of the militia battalions. 

The militia had variable morale and training.  The first time it mattered a 1d6 would be rolled.  On a 1 they were highly motivated to defend their homes and would be treated as Veterans.  On a 2-3 they would be trained and on a 4-6 rated poor.  Considering the post-battle reception it may be that the populace did welcome the Litharusians as true liberators since all three ended up being very unenthusiastic.

Our 9x8' table.  Yes, the back section is in play and all Litharusians
had to start there.

Alten, with an unfordable river on the left and disordering woods
scattered about.

Initial deployment and one of the confident Latverian brigadiers.

The Army of Liberation advancing in march columns.

My own command, two grenadier and two line battalions.

Onto the main table!

Artillery on my left is intended to support, but  the "big battalions"
end up bigger than expected and a traffic jam ensues.

The view from Alten.  In the distance the Pandours advance in
open order.

View from the center looking to the left about the same time.

We quickly come to grips, driving away the jagers opposing us.
Terrain being more of an impediment.

Having been weakened by artillery fire, we close on the enemy.

Light cavalry in open order dances before the steady regulars.

The Latverian right.  These troops will soon be in motion.

The firing continues as some light cavalry scamper away.

Judging the time right, Duke Alten sends his right wing forward.

View from the Latverian center where troops are redeploying
and the heavy gun beats the odds by surviving.

Fighting becomes desperate as the Litharusian masses continue
to advance.  Troops rout and sometimes rally on both sides.

The path to town is almost open.  Grenadiers eagerly advance.

Cossacks already weakened from previous engagements are no
match for the fresh dragoons.

Forced into a battalion mass by the terrain, they still drive on Alten.
The lights cannot stop them.

Closing on the prey.  Black cards indicate a Latverian brigade
move or shoot, red is for Litharus.

Wave after wave of volleys roar as Duke Alten's battalion is forced
to reform behind the equally decimated fusiliers.

The Latverian right has driven back/off the Litharusian cavalry
but in the distance you can see the mass closing on the objective.
Recognizing the inevitable and wanting to spare Alten the storm, the Duke sounded the retreat and withdrew.  Given the severity of the fight the Litharusian commander was happy to see them go.  The butcher's bill was severe for both sides.  Gross losses for Litharus was 2190 men, over 25% of the starting numbers.  The Latverians suffered 1880 lost.  However, when the dice were thrown for recovering troops, the final tally in heavy wounded or killed was Litharus 910 and Latveria 950.  Perhaps significantly for the rest of the campaign, many of the Litharusian casualties were among the cavalry.

Three wagons were loaded with gold for... uh, "recompense" of the families of the fallen.  Among other things.  A field hospital was established and the heavily wounded Latverians put into the care of surgeons.  Poor things.  The militia that remained were disarmed and sent to their homes.

The army did not tarry.  The attack was begun later than preferred so some things of value may have been missed.  The safety of Litharus was just two days march away.  After a day of slow march with the laden wagons and numbers of heavily wounded General Prochniak called a halt.  The senior officers were enjoying some level of merriment together when a courier arrived and insisted on seeing General Prochniak.  A hush fell over the group as he read the message, turned and left the marquee letting the message fall to the ground.  General Gogol picked it up and read it.  "What does it say?" asked Captain Popov, his AdC.  "It says the bridgehead is under attack" came the terse reply.