Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Be There or Besieged

The Germanic hordes (Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Hessians and one Highland battalion) have encircled the fortress of Essenratten and are constructing trenches and parallels, while their massive mortars pitch destruction at the defender's walls.

In the game the decision was made that the relieving force of Austrians and Russians have achieved a measure of strategic surprise.  The German army would start with two of six infantry brigades in the trenches and four resting in their tents.  The limited cavalry force (the rest were out doing a bad job of scouting) could be placed anywhere on their side of the river.  The level of surprise was determined by the roll of the German commander, Dan.  The Allies would get a free move on table and then the besiegers might start to mobilize.  On a d6 roll, 1-2 = one turn delay, 3-4 = two turns, and a 5-6 = 3 turns.  Dan of course rolled a "six."  Then another roll determined how long, once they emerged from camp, it would take them to go from a disordered mob to a coherent fighting force.  Dan this time rolled a "one" which meant that they could form the turn after emerging.  So in the end it sort of averaged out.  With a more experienced crew I would have had each brigade make its own roll, but for simplicity we did it at the army level.

On the Allied side of things, outside of the one stone bridge, they would have to approach the river to determine whether there was a practical crossing.  Again, a d6 roll for each 6" with 1-2 = fordable at no cost, 3-4 = fordable but disordered, and 5-6 = the banks are washed out, etc. so no crossing possible.  The dice were not kind to the Allies as only on the flanks were good crossings to be found.  This provided the Germans with the time to turn their army around and get it organized.

As the Russians and Austrians swept forward and began to vigorously compete for crossing points (another way of saying getting in each others way), the Hanoverian cavalry turned about and prepared to sacrifice themselves if need be to buy time.

After expending themselves in charges against the superior numbers of Allied cavalry, the Hanoverian cavalry could take satisfaction in the destruction of a fine Austrian Hussar regiment and one Russian battalion.  But they are severely mauled and only a light regiment remained intact.

On the Allied left the Brunswickers began to advance on the Austrians, despite a galling fire on the flank from Croats.  This happy position quickly became untentantable though when the Hanoverians found a fortuitously placed ford and crossed.

On the Allied right the heavy cavalry and infantry were sweeping away the German and Highland forces despite fierce resistance, while the Austrians on the left must withdraw or be flanked.  It appeared as though the battlefield was beginning to pivot on the center.

Troops rushed to shore up the German left while supply wagons replenished the hot firing cannons.  On the Allied right, German left there was little left to oppose them.  The way was open to Essenratten, but the Germanic army had not been defeated.

In the end the battle ended in a draw, in that the Allies had to drive the besiegers from the field to win.  As long as the besiegers kept some troops in the trenches, a sortie from the fortress would not occur.  They were just too weak to try against any opposition.  Given this we rolled off and the Allied commander lost his nerve (and the dice throw) and after throwing some supplies into the fortress withdrew in the face of superior numbers.  Or at least that is what his report will show.  And the digging went on...

Rules were Final Argument of Kings by Dean West, playtest version of 2nd edition, seven players of which one was totally new to miniatures, and played between 1:00 and 5:00pm last Sunday counting pick up.

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