Sunday, February 7, 2016

Defense of the Bridgehead

In our mini campaign based on Charles Grant's "Raid on St. Michel" booklet the action has moved to the bridgehead held along the Vistula River and the village of Zahn.  To the north is Litharus and safety for the army retiring from Alten, but first they must cross.

Peaceful beginning.  The near road goes off to the SE towards Alten.
The bridgehead is held by a fresh battalion (60 figures), a combat depleted battalion (47 figures), a squadron of horse grenadiers (12 figures) and a light gun.  Each side wrote orders and then the Litharus forces deployed.  Horse grenadiers on the north bank, gun inside town, and infantry deployed.

Rules are Batailles de Ancien Regime by Bill Protz.  Each unit for this small game acted on a card, either moving or firing.  Each commander choosing a unit that had not yet activated.  The action starts at midday so the attackers have 12 turns before nightfall to secure at least their side of the river.
Turn one two squadrons of dragoons enter on SW side.

Initial Litharus deployment near Zahn.

On turn 3 the Latverian infantry arrive.  Two of 60 figures, one of 42.

Litharus gets a Joker early, allowing them to "trump" a movement
or firing card later.  They will need it.

Latverian cavalry scouts while the infantry prepares for a
coordinated attack.

And me?  I refereed and enjoyed an adult beverage.
Note "Der Choral von Leuthen" playing in the background.

The storm is about to fall on the defenders of Zahn.

Even the Joker taking a first fire cannot help as the noose tightens.

The first battalion gets below 50% casualties and routs over the river.

Defenders shelter in the buildings but it is only a matter of time.

Now all but the cavalry, who advanced only to be shot up are
running on turn 11.

So with one turn of daylight remaining the Litharusian forces were evicted from the south bank of the Vistula, rallying in the woods beyond.  The only flaw in the otherwise complete victory was sight of a lone Litharus rider, disappearing to the SE at full speed.  When the main body arrives in the next day or two there would be no real surprises.

We always talk about the dice and this one is no exception.  In general the Latverians enjoyed above average dice and the Litharusian below average.  Already at a significant disadvantage given the forces left in garrison there needed to be a swing the other way.

One final action awaits as the army, laden with wagons full of the Latverian army treasury arrive at some point and try to take their plunder home.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Duel on the Danube - Part II

Finally resuming play with all seven players.  As a recap, we have a Prussian corps, still organized along 1806 lines, an 1809 Austrian corps and a mass of Prussian and Austrian cavalry defending distant Vienna.  Another Austrian corps is coming up in support.  Facing them are two French and one Polish corps.  Due to a "misunderstanding" of the scenario, all three are on table from the start instead of having one coming on like the Austrians.

The Austrian right with the Danube somewhere in the distance.

The right-center where the Poles have been held up but the
French are about to ravage the Austrian line.

Left-center where the Prussians have mostly taken Breslau.

Prussian left where lots of troops are stacked up, waiting.
 The veteran French division facing the Prussians on the left had taken a beating and had to roll a tough ME Determination test.  As it happened they failed and with the Prussian cavalry preventing them from retreating took an extra four fatigue points AND were disordered for the coming hour.  In Empire this is a huge impact in close actions and musketry is halved.  Though also fatigued from hours of combat, the Prussians became even more anxious to get to grips.  Jena will be avenged! 
The "Red Hussars" have routed five disorganized French and one
Rheinbund battalion.  The "Deaths Head" hussars were also winners.

Yellow markers indicate disorder.  The Prussians consolidate
in the foreground and press on to the left.

In the center the French have eliminated or pushed back the
Austrian line, though that allowed some consolidation.
Hitting the fatigued and weakened Austrians the French spearhead of the "Terrible 57th" and 10th Legere skillfully opened a flank and then rolled it up.  (Well done, Andrew.)  While troubling, the Austrians thankfully had a second line ready to meet them and try to push back. 

About this time the Archduke Charles, busy leading an attack, wondered aloud where the other Austrian corps was.  "Awaiting orders, Sire" came the reply.  In typical Archduke fashion no orders had been issued to Count Bellegarde who still hung off table.  Next hour for sure.
The French cavalry reserve begins to come on but no other progress
is made on the French left, Austrian right.

The Prussians, despite mounting losses and fatigue continue to
press the disordered or flanked French.
Precious little remained of the French division that suffered the bad ME Determination result.  The lower grade Rheinbund division would need to test ME Morale should they rout.  Only the exceptionally hot dice (both sessions) of Bob's French here kept them in the game. 
Not wishing to report to Napoleon, the unfortunate divisional
commander takes matter into his own hands.
And so we ended.  In the first session we had played close to one real hour equal one game hour.  However in this session the vast number of units engaged across the entire front slowed play drastically.  Needless to say though, everyone's blood lust was satisfied.

As usual the "well I'd do this" and "you're gonna get munched" talk immediately began as it will among good friends.  My evaluation as the Prussian player is this:  The Austrian cavalry on the right had taken out a good many Polish units, about a 3:1 ratio, and while fatigued was still unbroken.  This meant the known arrival of Bellegarde would have time to deploy, and with no infantry support besides the fatigued and weakened conscript Poles the French cavalry reserve would make little impression.  Assuming no statistically freakish ME Determination roll by the center Austrians they would hold with the new corps and the redeployed Prussian division about to close.  The Prussians, with two small infantry divisions and three brigades of cavalry all fresh, were going to hit the flank of Oudinot's corps, probably in the next hour. 

So in short (too late) I feel this is a Austro-Prussian tactical victory where Napoleon will need to pull back, wait for the la Garde and renew the offensive later.  Kind of an Aspern-Essling result.  And since this is my blog, that's the truth!  <grin>

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Somewhere Near Dieppe

The "Miracle of Dunkirk" has happened.  The war appears lost to the French.  Pride and will-power still drive them.  A strong tank-infantry forces is deployed along the Channel to contest the German advance.  Will Rommel and the 7th Panzer get to give his famous "Am at coast" signal or not?

Rules were Blitzkrieg Command II (heavily modified).  Each side had more or less 6000 points, with the French divided into three equal battle groups and the Germans into two.  The Germans rightly had a command advantage and complete air superiority.  BKCII allowed you to customize your force within historic restrictions.  The French have several limiting rules that are consistent with what history has shown us.  Each group can have up to three activations to do things like move, fire, deploy, etc.  Only one per activation roll.  Now to the game!

Front right French position with some wire and hasty trenches.

In the near distance the English Channel.  Hold at all costs!

By random dice roll our third 2000 pt. battle group was along the coast.

Meanwhile, the Germans were arrayed in two battlegroups of 3000 points each, with a (deserved) wealth of air support and pre-planned artillery missions.

While it looks swift, the river is fordable.

Light and medium tanks swarm forward and get behind the hedge.

Seems quiet for now.  Time to smell the flowers?

As reported elsewhere a massive end run developed on the French right.  In the coastal group a command "blunder" forced the front line troops to retire away from their defensive positions, opening up an opportunity duly exploited by the Germans.  While most of our positions held, we were in danger of cutting cut off everywhere.  Sound familiar?

Some light tanks only armed with MGs go out to delay the infantry.

A rare success.  A Stuka is shot down and almost hits a Char tank.

Somewhere around mid-game reinforcements arrive on the back table.

While welcome reforcements came to the French right, the airfield was left uncovered.  The Germans recognized the futility in shooting it out with heavier French tanks (also with better saves) so kept moving.

Infantry and MGs, supported by MkII tanks advance.

Blunder!  Resulting in Germans crossing in rafts
easier than it might have been.

The reserve tanks lumber into position.

The dice had been kind to the French and hard on the Germans (in my sector at least) so far, but the tide began to clearly turn.  More and more command failures occurred with the French and more and more often the Germans got the maximum number of three move or shoot rolls.

One got through!  The Germans hit are auto-suppressed.

A screen of tanks engage us while engineers in halftracks race past.

We grimly contested things the field as best possible you could feel the battle slipping away.  I believe we eliminated many more stands and AFVs than we lost, but once cut off by the rampaging panzers it really didn't matter in the big picture.

We are winning this firefight, but where are the halftracks?

Oh... yeah... at the airfield.  Note the supply stocks being captured.

So having spent an enjoyable morning and afternoon together we called at 4:00pm.  While our armored force might be able to open the coastal road again or even recapture the airfield, all the foot traffic and guns would be mopped up.

It "felt" right.  Although we did better than expected (by me) the final result was expected.  I'm not a fan of activation system games where it is possible that you completely lose your turn, but the superior command capabilities of the Germans, deservedly so, were critical in their success.  Hence the right feel comment.

It was also an excellent group to game with.  For some this is their regular rules of choice.  For me it has been a couple of years since I last played.  Everyone kept it friendly and in perspective throughout.  Thanks to Bill Protz for hosting and executing the game.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Foreign Units in French* Service - 200th Post

The first two planned units of a four battalion brigade are complete.  I chose units serving France to both give me more options as a player and also to maximize potential use in our Imagi-nation games.  Hence the asterisk in the title.  Eventually they will be joined by two squadrons of cavalry (one is painted already) and a medium gun, or perhaps battalion guns.

First up is the Royal Ecossaise.  Figures are RSM including the obligatory piper.  The grenadiers I filed and pasted their three-cornered hats to appear to wear tams.  There is no clear view of what headgear the unit wore in their relatively long history, nor even certainty about the cut of  their coat.  Certainly an attractive unit with a beautiful flag.  We use BAR for our games so these are big battalions, in this case of 54 figures.


Next comes the Royal Bavarie.  A solid regimental history, figuring in many battles with another attractive uniform and flag.  Why else do the "Lace Wars" if not for the wide range of colorful uniforms?

Figures have been mustered but not yet painted for probably the Irish regiment Lally and another German unit, most likely la Marck.  Strangely enough, none of these fine units yet figure in our assorted wargame armies.  At least not in 28mm scale.

This is also my 200th post on my humble little blog so I guess that requires some sort of notation.  I've greatly enjoyed sharing the progress of my hobby and the fun times enjoyed with friends.  Hope you have too.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Duel on the Danube - Part I

Still stung by the outcome of the 1806 war with France, Friedrich Wilhelm III dispatches a corps to support the Archduke Charles in the 1809 campaign.  With Vienna in danger and the right flank temporarily secured by the Danube, the armies move into contact.  The Prussian army is still on their 1806 footing so flexibility and leadership will not be on the allied side.

Rules are Empire.  This was planned from the start as a two day battle with copious food, beverages and the ever-present American football in the background.  We started on New Years Day and expected to finish the next.  Best laid plans and all, but more on that later.  Click to big-up the pictures

The scene before the troops arrive on table looking
in the general direction of distant Vienna.

Prussian under Möllendorf and Austrians under the Archduke arrive.
Another corps is some time distant.

Cavalry loaded on the right, facing Poles.

Austrians gazing on Oudinot's corps.

Deployed and ready for action.  We naturally lose every roll for
first impulse.

The Austrians fielded two divisions of line troops and a small
elite element.

On the right the Austrian cavalry typically held a slight advantage
over the Polish uhlans.

The French facing the Prussian occupied a village and it environs,
determined to hold the flank.

The long view, with Vienna somewhere behind the camera.

The Polish cavalry valiantly charge but are consistently beaten.

In the middle the troop density limited the cavalry opportunities.

The Prussians fielded 36 battalions in three musketeer and an
advanced guard division.  And lots of cavalry.

Aggressively closing.  French dice are hot and little progress is
made at first.

Fierce fighting in and around the built up areas.  Just off camera
to the right the French have set up a crossfire killing ground.

After (game) hours of hard fighting the Prussians finally break
thruogh and rout several French battalions.

In the center, spearheaded by the 10e Legere and "Terrible" 57e
the French are making it hard on the Austrians.
 The French forces are all on table except for the cavalry reserve (sigh), while the other Austrian corps has not yet arrived.  Except for the Prussians we have to dig our heels in and hold.

While you can't see "Napoleon's" face, he seemed satisfied.

We stopped for the day, intending to finish at noon the next day after four or five game hours, one of which saw no contact.  The French division driven from town has a very tough determination test coming up, subtracting 60% (by my calculation) from their roll and a conscripted German division in line behind it.  It is expected that the French cavalry horde will come on, along with the missing Austrian corps.  Alas, one key player took to bed sick and we were not able to continue.  With TundraCon, the game day we host coming (see next posting) and other schedule conflicts we hope to finish on the 30th.  We could have used another player or two as we frequently had to sit and wait to either administer or accept beatings.  A big part of not wanting to start one player short on day two.

I'm playing with the Prussians.  The 1806 force has been building for some time and this is their second outing and I just have a few units still to paint.  Using battalion guns is new to us and so far I really like them!  Helps a bit with being a "regimental army" under Empire.