Saturday, 30 July 2016

5th December, 1757

The Battle of Leuthen is our next game, so Mark and I headed down to ANF HQ today to set up the table.

Having been fought in December, this is another snow-covered battlefield. I always like the look of these!

The Prussians set to spring Frederick's oblique march "surprise"

Closer views of the same:

Looking down the Austrian line. The Württembergers and Bavarians on the left of the line are set to take the brunt of the initial attack.

The vast majority of the figures (Prussians and Austrians) are Mark's, with Julian's Bavarians and Prussians (as stand-in Württembergers) making up the full compliment. A fabulous effort once again from Mark who got all of his lot painted in a couple of years!

This game, which is scheduled for next Saturday, 6th August, will be our sixth anniversary game (our inception date being 8th August) and will be our 81st game/battle in that time. Given that several of our larger games have been played over two–four sessions, we are averaging well over one game per month, which is most pleasing.

Will the Leuthen church be contested as sharply as it was in the real thing?
III Garde attack on Leuthen by Carl Röchling (Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Russia, if you are listening...

This should be the opening of all of your communications, written or verbal, for the rest of this week.

(It is gonna be a most amusing, if slightly bizarre, ride to that first Tuesday in November...)

Who knows, perhaps the modern Czar himself will drop by and leave a comment?!

In fact, with all of the page views being generated at present, that is a distinct possibility. Although he'll not be too impressed with the final outcome of our most recent offering, despite the better-than-history showing of the Russians in parts one, two and three!

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!