Sunday, December 5, 2010

18th Century - New regiment joins the army

The Grand Duke's Own grenadier regiment has joined the field army at last.  With the Grand Duke as their patron they carry a third flag for the Orzepovski family.

This brings the strength of the Litharus Army to three battalions in the Observation Corps (one grenadier) and three in the line (one grenadier).  Also mustering is a Pandour battalion with one company already equipped and another line musketeer battalion just starting.  Add to that six six pound batteries, two eighteen pound siege guns, a Cuirassier and Dragoon regiment with a horde of Cossacks out there somewhere and you have a formidable force.

Figures are Foundry Russians in waistcoats (mostly) with a mix of bad weather covers and uncovered mitre caps.  I confess I do a lot of my shopping on eBay and so have to hodge-podge units together.  I have not yet mixed brands, but that day is not far off.

Flags are my "Imagi-nation" flags though I have Russian flags for most of the units that can be swapped in.  Even some extra standard bearers for more flexibility.

Monday, November 22, 2010

News - Bob Rondou injured

Last week Bob took a quick trip with a sudden stop down a flight of stairs.  Initially it was feared he had broken his back but as the swelling goes down we know that's not the case.  Still, he doesn't have full use his left arm and while his right hand has a strong grip the arm is a source of pain.  He's mobile though, so the worst case scenarios don't appear likely.

Per your custom, prayers or well wishes are welcomed.  He will have a long convalescence which is always difficult for someone used to being active.  Get well soon Bob.

Ancients - Might of Arms Game

During Brent's visit from the Twin Cities we put together a trial game of Might of Arms with Bob, Todd, Brent and myself.  Again, no pictures but we got the test game I wanted.  Irish/Celts took on mid/late Romans.  The game system is purported to resemble the venerable WRG Ancients rules and to a degree they do.  Troop types, weaponry, and mounting schemes according to function in the army were refreshingly present.  The combat system is completely different though.

Units are composed of either three or six stands.  Figures are never removed for hits which leads to some slightly annoying table clutter but I'm sure there is a clever way to replace the chits with something more aesthetic.  According to your function on the table your options are restricted.  Light cavalry typically doesn't go racing around the table acting like shock troops and lights of all kinds will attempt to melt away in the face of charges from close order troops.

We kind of messed up due to getting started way later than intended and just put troops out.  This left the outnumbered Romans attacking and things quickly went south for them.  Still, we got a decisive result quickly, even needing to look up rules and have them explained to us.  (Brent has played a few games of MoA.)

Overall I think it's worth playing again, finding the DB[fill-in-the-blank] family of rules distasteful and Fields of Glory to be frustratingly slow.  I've played a lot of ancients over the years and frankly wish for a revival of WRG 6.  That's not going to happen so onward we few, we happy few as we quest for a viable set of ancients rules.

18th Century - Battle of Korbach

The main engagement of the day featured an force of Gallians (French) attacking the Britannian army (British).  In most rule sets standing on the defensive would give you a significant advantage and the attackers forces would be augmented either by numbers or quality.  In our game using Batailles des Ancien Regimes, or BAR as it's more commonly known, the forces were within a point or two of each other with each side featuring guards, grenadiers, armored cavalry, etc.  However, in BAR except for the time spent getting cannoned in the approach, the card system for who moves and fires first negates that advantage.  One can argue the merits of the approach endlessly, but the reality is that a balanced game with chances for both sides can be easily created using the points system.

I found myself in the unusual position of commanding almost all the Gallian cavalry.  A huge mass of heavy, medium and light cavalry was put at my disposal on our right flank, opposed of course by equally determined opponents.  Todd and I squared off as the wing COs.  Isn't that how it always goes?  You travel to a game or convention with a buddy then end up playing against him.  Used to happen to me all the time when I was a tournament chess player.

The Britainnians were in Spiny Norman formation, that is to say a giant hedgehog.  Our Grassins looked to work around on the left while I was charged (no pun intended) with overwhelming the enemy cavalry and turning the enemy on the right.  Todd and I were engaged immediately in a see-saw battle.  Both of us were new to large amounts of cavalry so I don't know if I used better tactics or just got luckier.  But in the end I was able to drive off the enemy cavalry, capture two standards, and even rout a severely depleted Britainnian battalion charged in the flank. 

In the end we were triumphant all across the field and I was given the makings of my first monument, borrowing from the honored traditions of Grant and Young.

Despite the success enjoyed I think I'm just a ground-pounder at heart.  Till the next game.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

18th Century - Battle of Korbach - Prelude

The daring duo of Todd and myself, plus my good friend Brent who came in from the Twin Cities, traveling to chez Protz for a pair of BAR (Batailles des Ancien Regimes) games on October 30th.  I was asked to bring my cavalry for a pre-game game.  Little did I know how much cavalry I was going to see that day.  Regrettably I forgot my camera, so the spectacle is lost to us.

In the first action, from one of Grant's Tabletop Teasers, my force of three light cavalry units, one dragoon and one cuirassier regiment were charged with riding hard to secure a distant bridge.  The scenario called for two of our lights to be dispersed scouting with the main column halted.  Meanwhile, on the bad guy side, they were surprised by our appearance and had to roll many dice to determine their state of readiness.  It could have been pretty horrible for them.  But, Brent was up to the task and rolled phenomenally to basically negate the surprise factor.

Cavalry is a fussy weapon.  Powerful when used right, but often a one-shot wonder.  As our lines crashed together I saw a variety of tactical choices made by players, some of which worked, and others that didn't.  In the end it came down to the saving throws as the bad guy cuirassiers suffered unexpected losses at the hands of my dragoons.  Their force was pretty much in flight within the prescribed time limit.  We then shifted to the main event, a set-piece battle between Gallia and Britannia.  Described, hopefully with pictures, in the next posting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Conventions - Rock-Con 10-22-24, 2010 Part II

A continuation of our recent experiences in scenic Rockford, IL.  Click on the pictures for a larger view.

I had a little time after my third game and went to check and see how I'd done on the silent auction.  There were tons and tons of board games and fantasy/scifi supplements with a decent smattering of painted and unpainted figures.  Reported over 700 auction items.  I bid on a Vauban fortress in 15mm and several groups of 15mm painted Italians for North Africa.  Although checking it with two minutes to go to see that I was still on top I won nothing and sold little.  According to a friend, there were several instances of boorish behavior by bidders.  Probably the same SOBs who run bidding programs on eBay to snipe you in the last two seconds.  We also had a fellow take Peg's chair when we got up to look at the 1/2000 Trafalgar diorama:
Even though we were only about 12' away and I told the guy he was taking her chair!  He seemed very pleased with himself.  What a world we live in!  Thankfully the people I played with were all gentlemen.

The last game Saturday had slim pickings for me but fortunately Battlefield Hobbies were running another game so I got in it.  They had three guys working and even though they had to be ready to drop they still ran great games.  I was really impressed and that takes a lot these days.

The game was "Tankers Challenge" using the Battleground skirmish game system.  Fourteen players (8 Soviet and 6 German) gathered to fight Kursk.  Sort of.  The idea of TC is to run one tank till it's destroyed, then get a new one, and just try to kill enemy armor.  The one with the most kill points at the end "wins."  Everyone drew a random vehicle to start and I got a captured T-34.

Here I play hidey looking for flank shots with my less effective Soviet gun.  The guy next to me hardly ever left the table edge.  He just shot and got shot.  In the end he killed five Soviet tanks to "win" and lost eight German.  Mind you, out of the 11 total we lost.  The game had a lot of goofy fun stuff and the players were extremely supportive of each other, even the enemy.  We always applauded when someone killed an enemy tank or themselves.  We had a tank on each side blow itself up on special event cards when they rolled a jam on the their main gun firing attempt resulting in a catastrophic internal explosion.  I got one enemy T-34:

Pictured here burning after I maneuvered some; then I had two KV-1s start hunting me.  The "Hero of the Soviet Union" next to me took one out before himself being destroyed and the other Ruskie and I stalked each other for the rest of the game, each getting chances.  I finally immobilized him and moved away but missed on my final shot.  A goofy game but good fun.  Peg was meanwhile playing in a "B-Movie" game, also with three refs which was reportedly really great, goofy fun.

Sunday we slept in a little because Rock-Con, while officially a three day event, is really a Friday night and Saturday convention.  Very few games on Sunday and nothing that appealed to us.  So we shopped some, got a couple of Sunday bargains, painted a figure each at their free "paint and take" tables and came home.  

There was apparently some scandal in the vendors area regarding tables and pre-registered sellers.  Other than that it seemed to go very well with lots to do for most people, readily available food at reasonable prices, clean restrooms and a friendly staff.  This was just our second year but I expect to go back again next year.  Who knows, maybe I'll offer Sunday morning game?

Conventions - Rock-Con 10-22-24, 2010

So Peg and I got back this afternoon from one of the few gaming conventions we regularly attend.  In general I'd call a success though there wasn't as much to choose from IMHO if you are primarily a historical gamer.  No regrets about the time and money invested and we got home at a decent time.

Friday after work we raced south to try and make the first round of gaming.  We pre-registered and a hotel promotion we belong to meant we even got our room for half price.  Can't hardly beat that.  With 10 minutes to spare we made the first round and each got in the game of our first choice.  Peg tried out 4th Edition AD&D while I went to play the Battle of Cape Spartivento in 1940 with Brits vs. Italians.  The game system was "Naval Thunder" in 1/2400 run very capably by Jeff Henn.  The game plays remarkably fast and in my one other exposure to it last year was pretty realistic given the concessions for fast-play.

At the start six Italian heavy cruisers; Zara, Fiume, Glorizia, Trieste, Trento and Bolzano (the latter three under me) squared off against five new light cruisers; something, something, Southampton, Newcastle and Sheffield (guess which ones I was fighting?) and the battle-cruiser Renown.  We knew that two heavy Italian units were coming though.  I deferred to the other guy present who had arrived before me to be C-n-C.  So naturally, instead of taking advantage of our superior gunnery range and speed to keep them at distance while we lured them back onto the battleships, he ordered us to engage and close.  I thought at the time it might work because initially we would "cap their T" and get some free shots.  The dice said otherwise.

My three cruisers are closest in the view.  The ill-fated turn to close is in progress and the Brits just discovered they are still out of range.  On turn three the battleships Vittorio Veneto and Gulio Caesar came on table.  The late arriving Italian commander (show up late and get the best ships) decided to mask the Caesar with the Veneto and charge straight forward to close.  However on the first turn, with a 1 in 100 chance he scored a penetrating hit on the Renown.  The battle was violent and generally poorly played by the Italians.  HMS Ramilles joined the fray later as the British light cruisers began to take a toll on the Italian heavies.  We discovered in these rules that the British 6" gun is almost as good as the American and ALL the Brit ships had radar in 1940 and knew how to use it to perfection.  I'll look into this claim later.  The lead three Italian cruisers went on a death ride to point blank, of course losing all three and the player wandered away.  After the Trieste took a hit that induced a list I turned away 90 degrees with all my ships to open the range.  In the process it was too much for the Trieste which capsized.  One British cruiser went down slowly by the bow, midships and finally the stern.  Realizing that the battleships were going to kill them, smothering the Newcastle in one turn, the other two in my sector turned away making smoke.  Then I discovered the fatal flaw in the rules.  No spotter planes were allowed.  No visibility or shooting was allowed through smoke.  Yet without being able to spot the fall of shot except by radar, the British ships could not only fire at full effect, but with a +1 for radar!  Given that, how could we even compete?

The scene as the four surviving Italian ships form line.  I took my faster cruisers behind the battleships, looking for an opportunity to launch a torpedo attack since the British lights were retiring.  Unfortunately for me my dice decided to go absolutely frigid at this time and I never scored another damaging hit.  In the end the Caesar went down, the Bolzano was a wreck, the Ramilles had four floatation points left and the Sheffield was only a bit better off.  The Renown, unknown cruiser and Southampton were withdrawing.  The Veneto was still in great shape, maybe 20-25% damage.  Still, we were in no position to go after the convoy somewhere off table so the Italians lost some utterly irreplaceable ships and didn't get the convoy.
At a neighboring table there was a pirate civil war in process leading to the capture of the outer island fortress protecting a Spanish stronghold sheltering pirates.  Unable to get into the Russo-Japanese naval game, Peg and I both signed up for this. 

Saturday morning after little sleep we arrived, dropped off some things for the silent auction and went to play with the pirates.  This game can only be called fun eye candy.

The Old Town is in the foreground with del Morro in the back.  The place was held by a combination of French and Spanish regulars, pirates, and citizen militia.  Our pirate force had some Royal Marines and ships that Peg and I lucked into as well as a bunch of English buccaneers.  The year was 1703.

A bomb ship rammed the outer works and the subsequent explosion not only cleared a sector of the wall but also created a breach.  Small sailing ships and lots of rowed boats followed.

With lots of fortifications we had to rush them.  Some small craft were sunk or damaged during the approach, but most made it to shore.  In the picture the the bomb ship burns, Peg's marines are forming on the beach for volley fire, my marines are looking to clear the redoubt in the foreground, common pirates are attacking frontally (and getting ripped up) and just in the corner of the picture, a large French pirate ships has cut it's cables to start drifting out.

Here pirates supported by my marines assault the side of del Morro while other groups finished off the valiant French in Old Town.  A lucky shot from my sloops 18 pounder had taken out the large gun where the fire burns.  Volley fire by my men was taking out the pirates on the walls quickly.   At the time limit we had over-run Old Town, had two viable entries into del Morro and the pirates and local militia had broken.  The final bit of excitement was my sloop in a river channel dodging two fireships.  Fortunately for me they lit them too soon and the crew abandoned them to drift, so I got away clean.

A d6 game system, little in the way of morale and a card driven activation system.  Battlefield Hobbies put the game on and did a super job of keeping it flowing, reacting to crazy ideas by the players, and handling a lot of dice rolling.  This is part of an on-going convention campaign so our surviving leaders go in a data-base for next time with our contact info.

The next game for me was my misguided attempt to find out what the newish rules "Black Powder" are all about.  Now I know and won't make that mistake again.  The game was Mexican-American War based on the Battle of Rio Saludo.  Rob Oldenburg did a good job of running it and all five other players were fun and real gentlemen, the 25mm figures well done, so my issue is with the rules.

The attacking Americans automatically got the initiative.  Okay, that's reasonable.  Their staff ratings were higher.  Pretty consistent with my understanding of the armies.  We had nine infantry, four guns in two redoubts and six cavalry units against nine infantry, five guns and four small cavalry units.  We had a lot of unreliable militia types, they were pretty battle hardened.

Not wishing to dwell on it, when you dice against your staff rating you can get up to three moves and must state exactly what you will do on turn one, two and three.  Most of the day the Americans got three moves.  The Mexicans were allowed no reaction.  Then the Americans get to fire.  Say what?  Automatically?  We just sat there, let them march up to 1" range and open fire.  Then the survivors got to do the same back if you weren't disorganized (takes a "6" on a shooting dice against you to create), shaken (three casualties) and/or managed to make your staff roll.  Despite all that and the fact we couldn't get the Mexican cavalry to move for the first three turns, we were still in it when the Americans hit a rough stretch.  If a unit fails a morale test badly they are simply picked up and removed forever.  By about turn 8 or 9 we had wiped out a brigade of three battalions, had eliminated a battalion from each of the other two brigades, and had killed a cavalry unit.  In return we had lost two infantry units and two cavalry units (one expected, one a fluke).  As we are looking at our seven to four infantry advantage and four to three cavalry advantage, we were told our army morale had broken. 

My opponent, who was a real nice guy and I talked a lot during the game about the aims of goals of the system since he was really high on it.  He was pleased that it usually had games over in two hours with decisive results.  I countered that I will make time for my leisure pursuits and can't enjoy a game that defies realism.  While we played another turn after the morale break announcement our personal morale had broken as did our entire front when the Americans manhandled their guns 18" forward (triple move) and fired at full effect.  I shook hands all around, thanked them for the game and won't give that one another chance.

Peg played in a miniatures based fantasy game along D&D lines with more enjoyment than I experienced.

The rest of the Con in the next post.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

18th Century - Action imminent, send reinforcements!

Sunday the 17th the terrific trio gathered for another game of Final Argument of Kings.  Alas, I took no pictures but some info and comments follow.  The scenario was set somewhere in western Europe between the French and the Allied Coalition.  Our game had a series of hills on the defenders left that slowed movement or channeled it into lanes.  The center was open with a diagonal road cutting across the center.  It had another road running off perpendicular and exiting on the far right corner.  A shallow river meandered along the right side of the table, with a few small woods and a significant sections showing marshy ground.  Finally, a stone wall paralleled the first road with a series of smaller stone walls partially encircling fields.

Besides a stone bridge across the river, a pontoon bridge had been build by the defending Coalition and a supply depot was also in close proximity.  Holding all three would be a decisive victory for someone, two a marginal victory and only one each a draw.  Ownership meant that you physically occupied it and no enemy unit in good order was within charge distance.

The Coalition had six battalions of Hanoverians, four Brunswick and two Hessian.  Two good units of Hanoverian cavalry and three batteries finished out the defensive forces.  All but one of the battalions was of 16 figures.  The attacking French had four Swiss battalions, two German, and twelve French (two grenadier).  Battalions were roughly 50-50 of 12 or 16 figures each.  Four batteries (one heavy) and three cavalry regiments rounded out the attackers under St. Germain, aka. Bob Rondou. 

The plan of Baron Rondou called for the Swiss and the two German battalions with the cavalry to take a sweeping attack against the Allied left.  One French brigade would keep the Allies honest in the center, one would remain in reserve, and another go against the Allied right.  The passage of turns was carefully noted, though only I paid attention. 

Things developed quickly with columns moving on the left and right quickly as the Allies decided against a defense forward along the walls but stayed concentrated by the objectives.  The Allied cavalry thought it saw an opportunity and raced out to try and force a separation of the French wings and significantly delay their advance.  Things went wrong though and the cavalry rapidly found itself surrounded.  With little else to do they put spurs down and charged an infantry unit.  Vulnerable artillery and infantry with exposed flanks waited with bated breath.  The defensive volley was a total whiff and with great confidence they cavaliers crashed into the infantry.  When all was said and done the cavalry had a -4 modifier against the French 2d6 roll with the low dice throw winning.  Incredibly, they lost.  The first of a wretched day of dice rolling by Count Prochniak.  When the cavalry routed shortly thereafter, a string of three "3s" in a row left an otherwise undamaged line shaken.

Meanwhile the Swiss and their attendant cavalry maneuvered, softened with artillery and closed for the kill.  About this time, after two hours of table game play, I had Todd (Count Prochniak) roll a d6.  Hmmm, a "1."  Roll another I said.  "Hmmm, a "2."  The game went on. 

The center began to close with the Allies, who were briefly hamstrung by the series of shaken rolls.  On the Allied left the French and Hessians danced about for position, then began infiltrating slowly through the woods.  Two turns after the dice rolls I told everyone they saw a tall dust cloud, the kind created by cavalry, on the road coming from the far right.  Next turn a brigade of cavalry, heavies and lights, thundered onto the table having ridden to the sound of the guns.

Alas, all was for nought since the Allies could not recover from the horrific dice rolls and the Allied left and center collapsed.  Sometimes you can make good decisions but the dice still determine the outcome.  As always good sportsmanship was evident all around.  One of the great joys of FAoK is that we were able to play with a reasonably large number of figures each and still play the battle to a clear conclusion in a little over two hours.  Granted the dice are not usually so radical but quick play with good flavor of the period is a consistent result.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reenactments - Mississinewa 1812

Last weekend (Oct. 8-10) we made our annual pilgrimage to Marion, Indiana for the premier War of 1812 event south of the Canadian border.  (They really do it up grand in Canada.)  As usual I fell in with the 95th Rifles and enjoyed the five battles, evening festivities, good shopping and unseasonably high temps Friday through Sunday.  We had our best turnout for Rifles with 11 in the ranks on Saturday.

I am the middle rifleman in the front row on Sunday morning.  Temps ran from around 90 during the day to the 40s at night.

Artillery was in abundance on both sides.  The public is kept safely at bay by the fence you see at the bottom of the picture.  Larry Lozon provides an entertaining narration of each battle for the spectators.

The natives largely fought with the Crown Forces against the Americans.  A fearsome and very serious lot.

Some US regulars pictured here, led by my old friend James Lundgren.

And of course les belle femmes.  (Emily Rosewitz and my wife Peg.)

The hospitality and quality of the regimental mess of the 95th is well known and many people enjoyed our hospitality over the weekend.  So long as the rules of the mess are observed all are welcome.  A seven hour drive home left us both very tired but sans regrets over another great weekend spent with quality folks.  It seems that for some reason the British reenactors have more of a sense of "family" with each other than on the American side of things.  Everyone is always truly glad to see each other and sad when it comes time to strike camp.  I do not see this same sense of family in other time periods among British reenactors.  Cheers!

Yours truly.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

18th Century - Homemade Fleets

Well, not exactly a fleet, but enough 25-28mm water craft to enable some extra options.  Many of the craft currently available strike me as expensive and often rather "exotic" looking.  So I decided to test the waters (har-har) and attempt to make some boats.  Gathering gubbins already at hand (tip o' the tricorne to the Grant family) and making a few inexpensive purchases I prepared to construct a small galliot.  Sorry the pictures aren't sharper.  If you click on them they enlarge to look even fuzzier!

I took a base piece of plywood and attached a raised foredeck and after deck.  The sides were just some molding I purchased at the local Michael's outlet.  Glue plus patience and I was ready to continue.

It was simple enough to fashion the stern post and other aspects of the ship.  Craft plugs were glued to the corners for running lights and the extensions at the waterline were molded and sanded to match as much as possible.

The bow was sanded and then cardboard was shaped around the curve to create the lower section.  A single port for a bow-chaser was cut and a metal gun inserted.  I was pleased and surprised what a little paint will do towards making it look more professional.

I want my ships to be generic so all the names are Latin.  In theory I can use them for almost any nationality.

A lateen sail provides some propulsion in a removable mast.  I assume the horse grenadiers (destined for another army) look on in approval. 

I haven't worked out how to effectively model oars that won't take up an inordinate amount of space or be too breakable.  I may also add a bowsprit, but time will tell.  A rudder and tiller was also added after this picture.  It will hold fourteen castings on 1" bases or 21 on 3/4" which is my other system.  En garde!

Monday, September 6, 2010

18th Century - Unlikely Allies: Part Two

As the Russian forces pile onto the table in left-center, the battle reaches a critical point on the right.  The French have boldly attacked and the Prussians, with equal daring have charged home with the bayonet.  The melees swung to and fro until one Prussian unit broke.  Cavalry formed the Prussian riposte. 

The French and Prussians locked in deadly melee.  The card on the table indicates which side has the move option, as well as another card later for shooting.

Meanwhile the French methodically closed on the center.  Their ranks unusually quiet and grim.

The French are everywhere!  Even on the far right a converged grenadier element forces the detachment of some Prussian grenadiers to deny them our flank.  Numbers told and we lost this element and the bridge.

The von Kleist Horse Grenadiers move to support the right.  They ended up, after much maneuvering, crashing into a pursuing French unit and routing it.

The Cossack Hetman, Taras Shevchenko (center figure on the green stand) had come along on the expedition to determine the suitability of the ground and, um.... resources before bringing his forces into play.  Here he interrogates a Prussian train driver about the contents of his pouch.

The Russian cuirassiers move to the right side of center, judging that to be the more critical flank.  Little did we know that the usually victorious Prussian cavalry on the far left, engaged for three long melees with the Austrian and French heavies would fail to win.  While they did not rout, the mandatory disengagement required Russian infantry be held back to protect against cavalry incursions.  Infantry we planned to use to drive back the enemy.

The grenadier battalion found itself facing off against two enemy battalions and a gun so while disappointing, their rout was not totally unexpected.  What will the Grand Duke say when he learns?

Our six pounders come into action while artillery Colonel Krontsteen looks on.  The marker at the base of the artillery section denotes ammunition available.  Roundshot and cannister.

The Russian Cuirassiers, Dragoons and Horse Grenadiers prepare the master counter stroke against the French.  Alas, with the Prussians severely weakened everywhere we never had the opportunity to attack.  At the end of the game, both sides had exhausted their cavalry on the left and the infantry had been ground to a halt by the fresh Russians.  In the center our forces were hanging on, though many units were mere shadows of their starting strength.  And on the right we judged the French victorious, though they had nothing left to exploit their advantage.  The consensus of players was that the Russo-Prussian force would slowly withdraw with no pursuit from the exhausted French and Austrians. 

Another spectacularly fought battle, as always the supreme visual treat to see so many large-scale and magnificently painted figures together.  Thanks to all for their inspired and gentlemanly play.  Till next time, or as my Prussian allies might say, "Wir warten."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

18th Century - Unlikely allies

At last the forces of Litharus (Russia) were able to take the field, albeit with unexpected allies.  A rare, and in the opinion of most of the army, unwelcome alliance was formed with Germania (Prussia).  "Have not our soldiers fallen in battle against these machines?" raged the high command.  But ever loyal to their oaths they marched in all haste to succor the Prussians who were facing the Gallian allied (French-Austrian) army alone.  As you view the description, clicking on any picture will enlarge the image.

Here the army advances under their bold banners, resolved to do their duty.  A new unit and new Imagi-Nation standards since their last outing.

The heavy cavalry are riding hard to spearhead the relief column.

And relief is needed as you see but a small portion of the host arrayed against the Prussians.

Here you see the Prussian center.  The Russians are scheduled to arrive at an unknown time, somewhere to the right of your view.

Huge numbers of Austrian and French cavalry prepare to descend on the Prussian left.  The Prussian heavies move to intercept.

And they crash together for the first of many rounds of melee.

General Arkady Gregorovich Ouromov, with his ever-present priest gives direction to Brigadier General Anatol Gogol as the Russians hit the table.  But are they in time?

The scenario was based on the changing fortures of war in the latter stages of the Seven Years War.  Faced with enemies on all sides and almost certain defeat, Frederick the Great and Prussia were saved by the death of the Czarina Elizabeth and accension to the throne of her Prussian loving son, Peter III.  The Russian armies had clashed several times with Prussia and even had Cossacks briefly occupy Berlin.  Now they had to fight alongside their enemies of the previous campaign season.

Perhaps in the spirit of the occasion there was little communication between the new allies before the game.  Only the scenario designer and I knew when the Russians would arrive and no effort was made to coordinate our forces.  Tune in later this week for Part II.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

18th Century - Battle of Upper Potsdorf, Part Two

In the last installment the Prussians were winning on their right and the Austrians had the initiative on the Prussian left. Now the conclusion.

Things rapidly reach a critical point with the Brunswickers.  Von Zastrow routs!  Imhoff falls back shaken and disordered.  Only the grenadier battalion and von Behr stand firm.  The Austrians continue to press with French support, but some are beginning to face about.  Why?

On the Prussian right the Swiss are stretched to the breaking point and the line/Freikorps brigade is coming into action with fresh muskets.

Desperate to buy time, the French charge in the center!  Picardie lives up to it's long tradition by routing Jagers caught in the open and bouncing back a line musketeer battalion despite grievous casualties.

Von Behr now has to endure full flank fire and risk being charged next turn.  But they hold their morale, this turn at least.  The crisis point has been reached since the grenadiers have been able to disengage and reform along with von Imhoff thanks to the bold demonstrations of the last Prussian Dragoon regiment that had remained behind during the successful charge that seemed so long ago.

Yes, "demonstrating."  They threaten the flank of the entire Austrian line.  A battalion refuses it's flank and dares the Dragoons to come forward.

The remnants of the French center put on a bold face, daring charge after charge to throw the Prussian Fusilier brigade into confusion as they are caught advancing.  Only luck has kept the situation from getting worse as the French win almost every impact roll.

Now we see the cause for the Austrian facing about as the Prussian cavalry, victorious but scattered has finally reformed just as some of the routed French cavalry was making motions to return.

A last desperate charge by the Austrians is blunted by the bold Brunswickers.  Although a pair of Prussian batteries were routed or run off, the situation is no longer in crisis.

The French Dragoons are over-matched by the Prussian cavalry and run off in total rout.  Nothing can stop the other Prussian cavalry from swinging around behind the allied army.  Already the French are beginning to withdraw and the Swiss to seek new employers.  Only the stubborn Austrians refuse to retreat, though the chorus of blame on the French had begun in earnest.

Although the Prussians prevailed, it was a fiercely contested engagement.  Despite given up and early advantage to the Prussians by being caught unprepared for the swift advance of the improved Prussians, they rallied to put the issue into serious doubt for most of the game.  The allied reliance on charging, compared to the Prussian use of the musket sharply contrasted the different styles and national characteristics.  Even in defeat Bob and Todd report a thoroughly good time as did the host and reporter, me.