Monday, March 10, 2014

Meet me in the Middle

Sunday two of us met for an Empire Napoleonics game.  The Austrian I Korps under Graf von Belegarde as it appeared at Wagram vs. III Corps under Suchet, magically transported from Spain.  So not "Napoleon's X Legion" as commanded by Davout. 

Twenty-two big Austrian battalions, with 62 guns (18 heavy) and four cavalry regiments matched up against ten Northern Italian battalions (veteran and conscript rated), 17 veteran French battalions, and six battalions of the Vistula Legion.  Fifty-two Class I and II guns with six cavalry regiments rounded out the force.  All the French battalions were nine or ten figure units.

French left, Italians in the foreground

French right with medium and light cav brigades

Austrian left flank

Austrian center looking across the battlefield

At the start both sides were under attack orders.  The French could simply go, given Suchet's fine command rating.  As was typical, he chose to manage the battle and not lead from the front.  Bellegarde's forces were sufficiently lacking in confidence that he had to roll for his maneuver elements and the lead cavalry brigade balked at advancing.  This was the first of many bad dice rolls for my esteemed opponent.

French lights engage the non-moving Austrians

Austrians prolonged to keep guns unlimbered, French advanced

The Austrians won the first tactical initiative and thankfully for me only rolled one battery with three rounds of bombardment fire.  With the guns firmly forward, getting at the infantry was problematic at first.  In the first tactical phase it was clearly demonstrated that the Austrian dice were going to be rolling low as casualties were taken by the French on very low rolls.  Given the presence of the French/Italian medium-heavy brigade, some battalions squared up which passed the initiative.

Over to the French and Severoli began to try to turn the Austrian right.  On another of those low dice rolls, the Archduke Charles Legion battalion routed away.  This allowed the Italians to maneuver forward and threaten to roll up the line when they next got the initiative.

Italians at the end of grand tactical movement

In the center the French battalions threw themselves forward.  They were fortunate not to lose any battalions in the process, but only managed to push back an Austrian battalion from a firefight.  A cavalry scrum on the far right saw the Austrians thrown back in disorder, but no break-through.

Lights clash inconclusively

That was destined to happen in the right-center.  The horse battery assign to Boussard's division moved, unlimbered and fired into the flank of the lead Austria battery.  For the third time today a battalion failed essentially its first morale test and the army paid for it.  Free of artillery, the 24eme Dragoons charged the gap.  One battalion thought to form square but failed.  Another decided to rely on firepower.  In both cases it spelled disaster as the dragoons swept in and routed them.  They then pressed on, hitting another batch of routers in the process and carried up to the second Austrian division.  There they routed another battery and battalion in the process.

In the distance the victorious dragoons with cuirassiers supporting

Coming to a halt at the end of their breakthrough move they were deep in the Austrian position.  More cavalry moved up to support the dragoons, which were blown but victorious.

We then learned that the low dice plaguing the Austrian army were not just limited to shooting and morale.  But also initiative rolls.  So with no owned impulses left and the French in position to exploit all over the board, the game was called.  One owned impulse apiece.  Cruel dice indeed.  Perhaps next time the roles and rolls will be reversed.  Regrettably we didn't have time to reset the table and switch sides.


  1. Full credit to you and the group for another excellent game and what has to be the fastest written (and only) Empire AARs that I've found. Talk about a lone voice in the wilderness! Who, in the words of the late Mike Gilbert, "donned the hated sheet of the Austrians"?

    1. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mike, but enjoyed his column and cartoons in the old "Empires, Eagles and Lions." An inspiration to us whitecoats everywhere. (Though I foolishly sold off my Austrians years ago.)

  2. On a different subject thought you might like this:-

  3. That would be me Gregory. :) It was a hard day to be wearing the white. It's a good think Michael is such an enjoyable opponent. As a consolation I got to see the video of the 2005 Austerlitz reenactment. That was cool.

  4. That's got to be one of the fastest Empire games I've heard of. Never mind, Dan.
    What's the game going to be this weekend?
    All the best