Monday, February 22, 2016

Going Home

We come to the end of our mini-campaign involving our Imagi-Nations Litharus and Latveria.  The previous four scenarios were drawn from the Charles Grant's publication, "Raid on St. Michel."

I've collected all six of these books and have really enjoyed reading them and now playing through one.  This one lends itself to introducing the idea of a mini-campaign to the group in that there isn't the need for a lot of strategic decisions by the players.  Other books in the series require more input and paperwork, as I hope to share with you over time.

Today with have the much battered Litharusian army retreating to their homeland after a bloody though successful raid on Alten that gathered three wagon loads of treasury.  Due to a brave rider who won the dice-off in the last game General Prochniak knew the bridge and town had fallen.  What he did not know, but could assume, was that a Latverian force was following from Alten.  Before we started, players were reminded:

We played on a 6 x 9' main table, with a 2 x 9' foot back table.  The Litharusian army had to deploy what they could on the back table and create a map showing formation and position for the rest.  The Latverians put two battalion and the dragoons in the open to force the enemy to deploy, while one held the village of Zahn.  Somewhere on the north side of the Vistula lurked the remnants of the force evicted from Zahn the previous game.
Latverians deployed forward to hold the invaders back, but why?

Some of the rallied troops from the previous game look across
the Vistula River.

Some Litharusians go forward while others begin to flank the defenders.

The Latverians, after getting in a good first volley, step back.

The odds appeared long here.  The Litharusian force held an 8:3 advantage in infantry battalions and a 7:2 edge in squadrons.  But now we saw why the defenders were risking much to keep the enemy as far back as possible.
The first of eight squadrons of cavalry appear.  Cavalry to the rescue?!

Four regiments of Latverian cavalry have been shadowing the retiring Litharus army and now sought to strike and at least retake the plunder taken from Alten.  Regrettably the infantry fit for combat were far to the rear and could not intervene.  It was up to the cavalry.
Litharus grenadiers deploy as Pandours are expended to cover.

On the back table both sides deploy and look to strike first.

Caught up in the action I missed the next few photo ops.  The dragoons pictured above charged from back table to main catching a strong grenadier battalion in the flank.  Not surprisingly the grenadiers routed, disordering friendly cuirassiers behind.  A dice throw indicated a required pursuit which took them into the stationary and disordered horse. 

We were then reminded why we use dice as the pursuers rolled the worst possible result and defying odds were themselves in turn routed.  A promising start to the cavalry action was turning sour.
Latverian cavalry sweeps north, looking for more flanks as the
town garrison issues and forms.  Taking fire from the lurkers over
the river.

Another Litharus battalion routs from gun fire and disorders more
friendly cavalry.  An opportunity or just a pause in the advance?

The routing infantry rally behind friendlies at the table edge.

Hussars screen cuirassiers in the foreground.  Dragoons rout
on the right.
Seeing the mass of disordered Litharus cavalry the Vistula Lancers lower lances and break into a gallop.  Even though their opponents are heavier, they will (statistically) make easy work of their disordered and stationary opponents.
And after rolling for extra movement.... come up 2" short.

The other three regiments and their light guns try to find a spot
to charge.

Here Dan as the Latverian commander decided to make the campaign spirited decision to preserve his force and retire.  Since it was the last game of this campaign there was no need to play out the probably very bloody conclusion.  The lancers were flanked at close range by a healthy infantry unit and would be shredded.  With the turn to reorder given by the grace of the dice, the Litharus forces would be able to make their numbers tell could force the river and bridge.  The remnant brigade was even moving to help from the north side of the Vistula.  Yes, time to let the enemy leave your country and retain a fighting force.

So the army, much diminished and with the wagons of loot and wounded made it across the Vistula and returned to native soil.  The papers will relate a tale of punishing the Latverians who "fired first" back on the first day of the invasion... um, maneuvers, and the bean-counters will be pleased that the expedition paid for itself and may fund the next.  Latveria has a rallying cry and may be filled with a terrible resolve.  The campaign has certainly fired the painting production levels.


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>