Friday, 22 July 2016

15:30–19:00: Battle of Friedland, 14th June 1807—the kill

We left this game at 15:30, the conclusion of part three, with the Russians having continued their attacks against the French army, recently reinforced by Ney's VI Corps. This had reached its "high tide" with the desperate charge of the guard hussars against the Franco-Saxon grand battery perched atop the high ground on the western edge of the battlefield.

Part IV, act 1, scene i: the hussars' attack fell short in cloud of canister. Thus ended the "Cooke manoeuvre".

Elsewhere on the battlefield, the Russian attacks continued.

In the north, what remained of Kogine's cuirassiers, reinforced by Gallitzin's division, caused some havoc amongst Dombrowski's Poles.

Below, the broad view of same, from French and then Russian side of the table.

In the south, Kologribov's cavalry and what remained of Markov's division, Bagration's advance guard divisions and the guard infantry made life difficult for Ney's men. The latter, coming straight into the fray, had not been able to achieve 'proper' deployment.

Overview of the southern end of the table.

Serious help for the French was on it's way as Victor's I Corps (three infantry divisions, a dragoon division and artillery arrived on the field)...
, closely followed by the guard infantry...
and guard cavalry.
The marked cards dealt to the Russians by Bennigsen's historical decisions were being played.

That was not going to stop our Russian players from fighting it out to the end!

 More cavalry attacks in the north.

This time with mixed results.

In the southern end of the battlefield, the French noose tightened, ever so slowly, but not without some 'hiccoughs' due to local Russian successes.

Reinforced by Lebrun's dragoon division of Victor's corps, the Franco-Poles in the north counter-attacked.

Victor's infantry and the guard marched on to support the left (north) and right (south) flanks—separated by the Millstream.

Hulin's guard infantry began clearing away the last of the Russians, beginning with the weakened, isolated Pavlov grenadiers.

The "big heels" beat back one of Kologribov's dragoons, rallying back to let the "cherished children" into the action.

Back in the north...
Having handled the cavalry so well on the first day of our game (with a bit of luck, for sure), Stephen proceeded to sacrifice yet another dragoon division (aided by some not-so-good luck)!

In the end, it was of no matter as Lapisse's and Vilatte's divisions (Victor) drove into the left of the Russian's northern flank, to separate them from the bridges at Friedland.

The grognards had Markov's infantry in their sights.

... but the guard chasseurs à cheval suffered a set-back at the hands (hooves?) of Kologribov's dragoons and Raevsky's hussars.

In the north, the Russian formations (Gallitzin, Platov, Kogine, Lvov, Essen III, Engelhard) were still going concerns, albeit at 2/3 strength or less (most 1/2). However, they would soon have only one route across the Alle, the ford located approximately beyond that piece of paper in the photo, due to the approach of Victor's infantry (at right of photo).

The guard cavalry and infantry combined to ensure that all of the Russian forces in the south were dispersed. Only the Russian guard infantry, which was in retreat, remained unbroken at game's end.

The Russians' left n'existe plus. Their right held on bravely, but it was only a matter of time, so we called the game to a close prior to the 19:00 turn.

What would be the magnitude of the French victory?

I had designed the scenario around victory points. Each side received points for each division of the enemy that was broken, in retreat or demoralised at the end of the game.

The only terrain feature for which points were awarded was the Sortlack wood.

We tallied up the victory points.

The French had lost four infantry divisions and four cavalry divisions ('broken'). A further cavalry division was in retreat and two infantry divisions were demoralised. That gave a total of 191 victory points to the Russians.

The Russians had lost five infantry divisions and three cavalry divisions ('broken'). Only one division, the guard infantry, was in retreat. Others that had been in retreat or demoralised had rallied before game's end. That gave a total of 164 victory points to the French.

Having been contested for the entire battle, the Sortlack wood had finally fallen into French hands with the destruction of the Russian left wing. That was worth 100 victory points.

The difference was 73 victory points, so a marginal French victory.

The Russians had lost 149 points of MR for 'broken' divisions. This was just below the army break point of 159. The French army break point was 209, so, at 168 points of MR for 'broken' divisions they were a way off, but getting close!

In our scenario, Bennigsen achieved his aim, and more.

Not only was Lannes' corps 'broken', but Mortier's and Ney's mauled as was much of the French cavalry. Bennigsen would still lose most of his army. Only two narrow pathways across the Alle were available for retreat and the French net was closing rapidly, likely to cut off that through Friedland. Yet it was not the glorious victory of history with the French army having received much rougher handling in 2016 than it did in 1807.

I was pleased with the way that it had played out. We had four engrossing sessions and all of the players involved were able to attend all of them, which was fabulous. The Russians would always 'lose' in time, but they were right in the game up to the last turn or two and limited the French to only a marginal victory.

In the historical battle, the Russian attack in the morning was blunted by Lannes, with help from Mortier's newly arrived troops. There was then a hiatus with the exchange of artillery fire and some skirmishing, during which time the rest of the available French troops arrived (such a thing is nigh on impossible to achieve in a wargame, unless one mandates it). Bennigsen planned to recross the Alle under the cover of darkness and continue his march north. Napoleon had other ideas and launched an all out attack, beginning at 17:00. The rest, as they say, is history!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Chariots to the Fore

The Battle of the Crimissus, 339 or 340 BC was fought during the First Sicilian War (Greco-Punic War) in which Carthage and Syracuse fought for control of Sicily. At Crimissus, Timoleon's smaller army of Syracusian Greeks triumphed over the larger Carthaginian army of Hasdrubal and Hamilcar.

Mark and I got together chez-il, aka ANF Annexe A, for a small game based on this battle, using the Impetus rules. Not being enamoured with the recent changes, we stuck with the original version for this game.

One of the main reasons for this game was to use Mark's new Carthaginian Chariots,  conversions from the Airfix Romans set. Super aren't they?

The Carthaginian army crosses the Crimissus River, heavy chariots in the lead.

Atop their hill, shrouded in fog (left out of the game for clarity), the Syracusians see the enemy host in the valley below where the morning fog has already cleared.

Timoleon sends his horsemen to the attack, to stall the Carthaginians and gain time for his infantry to deploy.

It does not go particularly well, though.

The chariots are gaining valuable time for the Carthaginian foot to cross the river.
Sacred Band in the fore, followed by citizens, then Libyans and Numidians. The Sacred Band are Ral Patha (left) and Zvezda (right). Allies mainly Hat figures; some Minifigs at the back ahead of the Numidians.

Overview of the battlefield. Greeks (Syracusians) at right, Carthaginians to the left.

The hoplite phalanx is deployed.

The second reason for this game was for Mark to field his recently completed hoplites. A mix of Zvezda, Atlantic and Caesar figures. Zvezda javelinmen and slingers in front. Lovely.

Chariots to the fore? More like chariots on fire, as they sequentially break all of the Greek and Italian cavalry,

...then drive towards the hoplite phalanx!

Is there no stopping these d@mned chariots? Hoplites pushed back. The line disrupted!

Now, one can never blame the dice entirely, but I am getting a little sick of seeing this sort of thing when I have 7–10 dice to throw! I have preached before about the '1' tactic. Should listen to myself...

Hoplites regain their composure and counter-attack.

The last unit of heavy chariots is finally broken. They did their job though, in fine style.

Long spears locked together in a push of 'pike'!
Another Syracusian victory. The worm is turning—there are some 5s and 6s on these dice after all. Is it all too late though? Which army will break first?

The Greeks attack everywhere, victories are achieved, but did too few of them result in the breaking of Carthaginian units required to break the Carthaginian army?

 A final attack by the last available unit of hoplites and... another draw.

Result: a losing draw—both armies exceeded their demoralisation level (17 points) and so both were broken, Syracusians 19 points, Carthaginians 21 points!

Yet another close-fought and enjoyable game using Impetus. Don't those Atlantic hoplites come up a treat?

We are planning to do some more small games in the next couple of weeks prior to the fourth part of our game of the Battle of Friedland (scheduled for 9th July).

Next week: a semi-historical game pitting King Juba I's Numidians against Caesarian Romans.