Wednesday, 9 July 2014

1813: A fictitious post-armistice game—The Finale

John, aka General Dokturov, of the Serpentine War Game Club has posted the report of the second half of the marvellous game that we began when I visited them in late May-June.

His report, providing a slightly different (allied) perspective, picks up the action around the time of the successful allied assault on the French garrison in the central village.

The game continued over several of their regular Tuesday evening sessions and saw numerous twists and turns before it reached its dramatic conclusion...

Link to John's report

Link back to original report on this blog

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Battle of Spoletium, 103 BC (fictional)

The year 104 BC ended with manoeuvring as the victorious army of Quintus Servilius Caepio (and that of his sub-general Gnaeus Mallius Maximus), together with the combined, previously defeated armies of Gaius Marius/Quintus Lutatius Catulus and Marcus Junius Silanus/Lucius Cassius Longinus sought to defend Rome from the rampaging Cimbri and Ambrones.

Caepio and Maximus’ glorious victory at Firmum had provided some respite from the seemingly endless defeats of the past two years, but the senate and people of Rome were still anxious at the proximity of the barbarians to the city and their rapacious pillaging of the northern Italian provinces. The senate therefore ordered the raising of another army of reinforcements, drawing in two more veteran legions from Hispania and recruiting three new legions from the displaced citizens of northern Italy. These troops were to be commanded by Marius’ bitter enemy Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus along with Lucius Appuleius Saturninus (Marius’ ally).

Thus reinforced, and in close proximity to one another, the Roman armies prepared to confront the barbarian tribes.

While Metellus’ and Saturninus’ newly formed army remained around Rome, training the new recruits and manning the defences of the city, the other Roman forces moved north to face the Cimbri and Ambrones.

Caepio/Maximus’ troops met the Cimbri in Perusia. Not wishing to engage equal numbers with his army, dominated by partially-trained legions, Caepio took position behind the Tiber. The Cimbri were not to be tempted to attack such a position—chalk up another four training points for Maximus’ legions (now up to 10 from a maximum possible 11)!

At the same time, the smallest of the Roman armies, that of Silanus and Longinus, contacted the Ambrones in Spoletium. They took up position on a large hill and awaited the barbarian’s attack…

The Ambrones sent forward their right-hand cavalry unit to engage Silanus’ Roman cavalry.

The Romans lost the resulting mêlée (a six to determine permanent losses is not a good roll!).

The Ambrones’ cavalry pursued, to finish the job, forcing the defeated Roman cavalry into their Italian allies behind.

Although disordered, the Italians charged into the Ambrones’ cavalry, breaking them in turn.

The table at the end of an eventful first turn.

Silanus sent his Legio II forward (a spade produces the lowest quality for a legion). They were met by a hale of accurate fire from the Ambrones' bowman.

The Roman velites moved through the wood to threaten the Ambrones' left flank.

The two ‘units’ of Legio II charged the Ambrones’ warbands, and both suffered devastating defeats.

It was all over before it had even began, as this loss broke Silanus’ command (on turn 3!!).

Marcus Junius Silanus fell on the battlefield#, or perhaps he did the honourable thing, as his command had effectively ceased to exist.
(#Actually, the above engraving shows the death of Roman general Lucius Aemilius Paullus at Cannae, but I'm sure readers will excuse the licence!)

Another major loss for Rome, and a huge blow after the optimism engendered by Firmum.

Monday, 30 June 2014

1813: A fictitious post-armistice game—addendum

It seems that I called the game at an end prematurely.

The gents at SWAGS considered that it was too good a game to leave with an indecisive result, so have continued it on their regular Tuesday night meetings.

Our man on the spot, General Docturov, takes up the story.
We continued on with it and my Russians were doing quite well... I should mention that I rolled some 19s and 20s at crucial moments^. This did not help the morale of the French general.
I get the feeling that the Russian heavies did well again too, Jeremy!

^The Serpentine Group's Empire and Fury rules call for two x D10 for the dice rolls. Suffice to say that a high roll is good in a mêlée...

The Russian troops poised to attack the French centre.

Hopefully one of the SWAGS fellas will post a report of the final part of the game on their blog. Rest assured that I'll post a link here if/when they do.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

1813: A fictitious post-armistice game

It has been quiet on the Napoleonics front since our bicentennial game of La Rothiere. Plans are afoot for more games from the 1814 campaign later in the year, but not until some key units have been painted.

Therefore, I was pleased that the end of May found me in Albany for a work trip, so I arranged with our friends from the SWAGS to stay on and have a wargaming weekend with them. Mitch planned the game, a fictitious battle in the autumn of 1813, with the French, two corps of primarily low-ish quality infantry and the potential for heavy cavalry support, defending a village and stream against a combined Russo-Prussian force. The Prussians were predominantly landwehr, while the Russians had some 'serious' quality including a brigade of grenadiers and heavy cavalry.

The French began the game deployed while the Russians and Prussians arrived piecemeal.  We set up on the Friday night, playing out the first five 'approach' turns. Saturday was the big one with turns 6–17 completed. We then finished off the game with two further turns on Sunday morning. As you can see from the photos below, it built nicely and provided a fabulous visual spectacle; as well as a most enjoyable contest and great fun and camaraderie with the SWAGS fellas.

Table set-up, the French, nearest camera, had two corps (which we nominated Bertrand's and Mortier's) of two infantry divisions, each with a small cavalry brigade.

One French division of Bertrand's corps was placed in and around the village, defending the only bridge crossing over the stream (which, along with the gué to the south-west, was the only crossing point for artillery).

A Russian light cavalry brigade lead the allied advance, reconnoitring the French positions. Figures expertly painted by John, regular Cossacks heavily disguised as those of the Imperial Guard.

As the allied infantry arrived, the Russians deployed their horse artillery to bombard the French in the village. This was soon joined by Prussian artillery and Russian foot guns. The French divisional and corps guns on the ridge replied on behalf of the defenders.

Russian jägers were sent forward to harass the right flank of the defenders, as still more Russian and Prussian troops arrived.

Close-up John's Russian hussars (Elisavetgrad regiment) and horse artillery. "Noice".

Overview of the table at the end of the approach moves on Friday night. All set for action on day two's play.

More of John's Russian cavalry, this time the Emperor's (left) and Empress' (right) cuirassiers.

(Saturday) Bombardment of the French in the village intensified, hoping to reduce the defensive capacity of the buildings and the resistance of the defenders.

von Zieten's Prussians advanced around the south-southwest to outflank the French position.

Below: overview from the French and allied lines.

Looking from the south-west-ish.

Above and below: at the other end of the battlefield, Docturov's Russian grenadiers and cavalry approach the French defenders on the western ridge line.

The next couple of turns were crucial as the allies attacked along the entire front.

Above and below, the final, intensive bombardment of the French position in the village.

Russian grenadiers continued their advance on the French left flank.

 More bombardment in the centre.

 While Mortier's and Zieten's cavalry stand-off in the south.

Above and below, view from the 'south' and 'north' respectively.

  The assault finally goes in against the village, lead by the grenadiers,

who make easy work of it.

 The Prussians in turn fire all available guns, setting the buildings on fire...
and easily drive the defenders back over the bridge.

The hand of god smites the French, placing fire markers on the buildings. 

In the 'north', the French 7th hussars attacked the lead battalion of Russian grenadiers, only to be driven back, with little loss, by a determined volley.

The 3rd hussars prepared for a flank charge and perhaps to halt the advance of the Russian grenadiers.

Thus, with the game very much in the balance, Saturday's play came to an end.

Having waited all night, the first move on Sunday morning was, of course, the charge of the 3rd hussars.
With numerous negative modifiers to both sides, the better Russian quality, and die roll, saw the hussars 'bounce'.

The fighting intensified... as darkness approached (in game time).

In the centre, the Russian jägers drove the French beyond the bridge.

On the French left, the Cossacks charged, but French conscripts formed square and they were repulsed.

Sensing the moment, the Empress' cuirassiers went for 'gold', overrunning Bertrand's corps guns...

and breaking through to drive off a unit of conscript infantry.

Then it was the turn of the Emperor's regiment, who were met bravely by the 7th hussars...

the latter pushed back, but unbroken.

The glorious charge by the Empress' cuirassiers had left them exposed,...

the infantry rallied, moved up on their flank and delivered a volley that sent them back to their lines.

Thus, as the veil of night fell, the French re-established their defensive line, ready to slip away during the night, their job done... just!

The Emperor's cuirassiers champed at the bit for more action,...

but the French 11th and 12th cuirassiers were fresh and ready to face them down.

Huge thanks to Mitch, John and Neil for the game, to John and Vanessa for letting me stay at their place and to Mitch and Gwen for their marvellous hospitality at the 'venue'. I do hope that we can host some or all of you in the not too distant. I also look forward to our (new) tradition of an ANF visit to Albany later in the year!