Friday, 28 September 2012

The Most Terrible of all My Battles: Wargaming Borodino 2012 (10)

Borodino 200 what a weekend!

Regular readers of this blog may have been wondering what happened in the bicentennial Borodino game that we held on 7th–9th September. Having been occupied with the preparation for the game for much of the two weeks beforehand, I have since been catching up on work. I am slowly making a bit of time for wargaming stuff again now, so here are a few photos from our game to whet your appetites.
Borodino village, the calm before the storm
N's command post on Shevardino (sadly this was one of the many 'units' that I did not quite finish in time for the game)
Initial positions, from the south-west and (below) south and north-east

Below, initial French-Allied attacks. Delzons crosses the Kolocha to assault the Grand Redoubt, Poniatowski's Poles work through the woods south of Utitisa and Compans and Dessaix's divisions of Davout's I Corps head towards the flêches (seen from the Russian viewpoint).

Still plenty of Russians—defense in depth (above and below)

Broussier's division captures Borodino (above and below)

Initial attacks on Grand Redoubt (above and below)

Ornano awaits approach of Platov's cossakcs
Napoleon from the flêches
Kaminiski's cavalry having broken Karpov II's cossack 'division'
Poniatowski's attack on Utitsa (above and below)

Compans' division gets drawn into the woods around Utitsa
Dessaix's attack on the flêches
Ney's division advances to the attack
Platov and Uvarov's 'raid' makes progress—aided by Eugène's seven 1s in a row!

Ney's Württembergers broken by Sievers' cavalry
Gap left by Ney's decimated corps
Chaos caused by retreat of Compans' division
Massed French-Allied heavy cavalry
Capture of Uitisa mound
Russian re-capture of Borodino
Grand Redoubt holds strong
Final wash-up
French held the flêches, Russians held Grand Redoubt and Borodino, Utitisa in doubt (Russians had the village, Poles the mound)

French lost 11 'divisions', Russian lost 1!!!!

French 50 points, Russians 279, so a Russian tactical victory.

It truly was, "the most terrible of all my battles"!

Kutuzov toasts the Russian victory

Thanks to Stephen, Rod and Peter who came up from Perth to help/join us in fulfilling a wargaming dream. We really enjoyed ourselves (except for the result, ha ha!). Despite the bad outcome for 'my' side, I still had a sense of 'loss' on the Monday at the completion and passing of something that we had been planning for so long.

As with all the best of wargaming, we all have a greater appreciation of Borodino now that we have "been there". The immensity of the struggle, the problems of command and control, the waste of good men, the amazing feats of arms on both sides, the importance of Platov and Uvarov's 'raid' and what an achievement it was for the French-Allies to have won the battle; pyrrhic victory though it was.

We are already planning our alternative versions of Borodino!
1. Run the game as a "re-enactment".
2. Play again with different players as Napoleon and Kutusov.
3. Play a version with Davout's plan.
4. Play a version without restrictions on Guard and Russian reserve artillery.

I am working on a couple of more detailed posts that will incorporate more of the 449 photos that Stephen and I took over the weekend, so keep an eye out!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Steve. We now have our sights set on Leipzig for October next year! With other games in between, of course.

  2. Congratulations on pulling it off, James! Pity it couldn't have gone your way, but playing these big games is a reward in itself.

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures, too.

    1. Absolutely agree Ben. Fortunately for me, give my record, it is not about winning!!

      It was a great thing to be part of, from planning to execution. To me it really did bring out one of those great aspects of wargaming; learning more about the history. Often that is from reading and researching, but in this case it was from "being there" c/- a reasonable recreation of the battle.

  3. Hi James, a HUGE game! love the photos especially the ground level ones... And the Emperor sitting down, and The Kutuzov character, the Poles moving through the trees..

    You should def play again but keep it the same and win this time! ;>

    A huge effort by all those involved well done and we want more yes.
    Many thanks for posting James. Inspiring stuff indeed!

    1. Thanks for those kind comments and for your encouragement.

      I reckon that you are right about doing it again as it is. Perhaps I could lead the French-Allies to victory next time! ;-) It will be a relatively easy one to do again, now that we have everything that we need.

  4. Very impressive, it certainly looks like you put a lot of effort into this game. Some great pictures too!

    1. Thanks Stryker. It was a long time in the planning. We were pleased with the look and happy with our collective achievement. Hopefully you'll like the next lot of pictures too!

  5. This is a stunning looking game James. You can't beat the sight of heaps of Napoleonic fig's on the table.

    1. Absolutely agree with you there! In my slightly biased opinion there is Napoleonic wargaming and the other stuff that you do in between (ha, ha!) :-)

      I was impressed with the Borodino game that you staged in Christchurch. Amazing effort to bring all those people together and run such a big game. Any readers who have not seen the game may like to begin at Rodger's blog (

  6. Fantastic photos! A huge and wonderful table, thanks!

    1. Merci beaucoup Phil. Malheureusement, je n'avais pas le talent pour effets special comme vous!

    2. Merci pour la réponse en français!
      No special effect, you're right, but your photos are perfect! Thanks again


    Your efforts were crowned with the success of a fabulous day of action and a new set of memories.


    1. Thanks Murdock.

      We look forward to exchanging 'experiences' of Maloyaroslavets with you. Peter and the HAHGS group have set the standard there with their great game of the battle at Historicon in July ( I have used Peter's scenario as the basis for our own.

  8. Any chance of getting the scenario details? It looks great!

    1. I have not forgotten Chris. Editing the scenario for 'general consumption' is another thing that has been delayed. I will post it with our google docs and send it to you as soon as it is ready.

  9. Prince Eugene is licking his wounds after a disgraceful performance. But as a participant I have to say it was the most amazing experience. Definitely the most memorable, absorbling and intense battle I've ever commanded in. One just had no time to analyse what was happening on the other side of the battle, even though of course it was in plain view. The disaster crept up on us, each individual step seemed the right one but the overall result was, well, what it was. I ended up with huge admiration for Napoleon and his marshalls' achievement on the day.

    1. Ah Julian, the buck must stop with the C-in-C. Although, if there is a willing scapegoat...!!! We'll be talking about this for ages won't we? Another challenging 'big' battle as Eylau was. Now we have Leipzig to plan. Perhaps it will be Eugène's "revenge" this weekend at Maloyaroslavets...?!

  10. Some great pictures, and it sounds like plenty of drama as well. After doing Borodino a few months ago, I''d definitely be willing to play it a few more times in the future!

  11. Thanks Peter. The French did much better in your version didn't they?

    Amazingly, there were four games of Borodino in Aust./NZ on and around the bicentennial. I have posted links to them on the Wargaming Waterloo 2015 blog (, along with another two from England and France that I have just found out about.