General de Brigade: Plancenoit, 1815

A couple of Sundays ago I had the absolute pleasure in having been invited round to Andy’s shed of war for a large 15mm Napoleonic game of General de Brigade. To say that I was looking forward to this game from the moment that I received the invite and the date was set for the game is an understatement. I had heard about the quality of the games that he had put on in the past so was chomping at the bit to be involved. I’m extremely glad to say that I was not disappointed in any way, it was a truly fantastic days wargaming.

As soon as I entered the shed that the game was being played in (I reckon these places should have a snappy name as ‘shed’ doesn’t quite cut it really, does it?) I was confronted with a truly great spectacle. Even if I didn’t know what battle was due to be fought I’d have known straight away from the terrain on the table, it could only be Plancenoit. Andy had done a marvellous job in constructing the bespoke terrain for the refight, really bringing to life all the maps of the area that I’ve studied in the past. The thousand or two figures already lined up ready would have given another clue if needed. Honestly I’m afraid my pics do not do the scene justice!

After a bacon roll and a cuppa, supplied by Mrs T. and very much appreciated, Andy got to the briefing and explained the ADC rules that we would be using to us – we were using standard GdB rules but with house rules concerning ADC’s to activate/change orders – and both sides got their heads together to plan the upcoming fight.

I was on the Prussian team with Del and Martin. We would be taking control of Bulow’s IV Corp tasked with taking the village of Plancenoit and we had 20 turns in which to do so. Del wore the C-in-c’s hat and would be responsible for the assault on the village with 15th and 16th Brigades under command. Martin was to take the right flank responsible for defeating the French to our front with the 13th and 14th Brigades.  I was to take the Cavalry reserve, Corp Artillery and Tipplekirch’s Brigade of II Corps when it arrived, my orders being to support Martins assault on Lobau’s line whilst seeing off the French Reserve battery in the centre with our own Reserve artillery to hopefully open a gap in the centre of the French position to be exploited later. The dastardly French were controlled by Andy, Simon and Des who just had to hold on as best they could and prevent us from taking the village. They were in command of Lobau’s VI Corp with some Young and Old Guard types scheduled to turn up some time or other to make things harder for us.

So with plans made, tea and bacon consumed we got at it. The first thing that we noticed as the Prussians was that we would have problems making our numerical superiority work to our advantage as the terrain and troop density meant that we would have to attack in ‘waves’, passing one unit through another. This was certainly the case for Martin and myself as our units were activated to a schedule so we had to get moving with what we had on hand first and then follow up with the rest when it became available, which was actually quite a realistic problem to have and added to the flavour to the game I thought. Anyway Del started by moving forward to the village and started prepping the defenders for the assaults that were about to start and then continue for the rest of the day and Martin launched his lead Brigade towards the line of French on the right flank. I opened the bombardment of the French battery and started off well inflicting losses straight away whilst my huge Landwehr Cavalry Brigade advanced to support Martins lads by covering their open left flank.

The battle soon turned into a proper slogging match with both Martin’s and Del’s Brigades repeatedly coming to grips with the French defenders before narrowly being beaten back. In the fight for the village Del managed to take the church a good few times but was always pushed out immediately by fresh French units or a swift counter attack from a rallied battalion. Much the same was happening in the fight for the rest of the village, as soon as he managed to defeat one battalion another countered his disorganised men and bundled them back. With the cramped frontages available to deploy in he just couldn’t make his superior numbers tell against Simon’s defenders and when Andy’s Guard turned up it made it even harder. This to and fro action went on all day and showed just how hard the fight must have been in reality and followed the pattern in accounts of many village fights I have read from the period.

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Outside the village Martin soon came to grips with Des’ Division guarding the northern part of the line and here too a tough fight broke out. Des was taking advantage of the terrain and had his men behind hedges which was helping in his defence and Martin couldn’t quite get to grips with the French in a co-ordinated manner enough to break them. This was mainly down to the difference in quality of the units I think with some of the Prussian battalions failing to charge home a few times leaving those that did in the lurch somewhat. All was not lost though as the defending French had been steadily losing men and once Martin’s lead Brigade was hors de combat he committed his fresh one.

Meanwhile I had managed to destroy the French Reserve battery in the centre and had advanced my Landwehr cavalry forwards as ordered and pretty soon were confronted with a mass of French Cavalry that had appeared to the rear of Des’ infantry. I knew I didn’t have the qualitative edge but my idea was to tie them up so as to prevent them from attacking Martin’s lads and maybe wear them down before my Regular Brigades could be brought forwards to help finish them off. With the loss of the French Heavy artillery Simon was forced to re-deploy forces from the defence of Plancenoit to cover the approach the gap made and managed to seal it off before we could get any forces forward to take advantage, again thwarted by space issues – we just couldn’t move our units quick enough.

After a lovely lunch that battle carried on in much the same vein, Del and Martin bravely grinding forwards but just not breaking through whilst I had been involved in a cavalry scrap and had charged a couple of Des’ battalions with my Landwehr Cavalry (which nearly went my way even though they were in square!) before they broke and the fight was taken over by the Regular brigades. I did manage to get Tipplekirch’s Brigade on the table but the were stuck in a ‘traffic jam’ of units so it took ages to get them forward, some command and control problems didn’t help either! Pretty soon though it just started to feel like that we weren’t just going to do it and when it got to 6pm we called it a day with the French holding all along the line even though they had taken a battering, especially outside the village.

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The main problem we had, we thought, was that we just couldn’t get our units into the fight quick enough. With such a large density of force on such a constricted front all it took was a bit of friction and everything snarled up, not that I’m complaining about it a game without this sort of thing is just too easy I reckon and wargaming is supposed to be a problem making exercise as well as fun. The battle also showed just how difficult it must have been to take a village in this time, I’m sure Del was knackered by the end of play! There were also those close calls that luck just favoured the enemy and if they had gone the other way might just have led to a different result but c’est la guerre as those Frenchies might say.

Even though we didn’t come away with the win it was a truly great days wargaming and I can’t thank Andy enough for the invite, and big thanks too go to Mrs Thomlinson for the fantastic hospitality and for keeping us fed and watered all day. As I’ve mentioned before the terrain was absolutely superb and the figures we used from the collections of Martin, Andy and Del weren’t too shoddy either. But, as always, the thing that makes these days really great are the chaps that you share them with so many thanks go to Andy, Martin, Del, Simon and Des in playing the game like true gents. Hat doffed all round, and very much looking forward to the next one already!

PS Some more pics taken by Des can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/247145792126789?view=permalink&id=784110201763676

 

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Trip to Aspern and Essling

On Sunday whilst in Vienna I had arranged with the Mem that I could nip out in the morning to either visit the museums in Aspern and Essling OR the one in Deutsch Wagram. I went for the shorter journey just across the Danube from where we were staying and decided Aspern and Essling it was. These museums are only open on Sunday’s from 10-12 and from April-October, so as I would be there on the first day of the season I’d pop over the Danube on the U-bahn and have a look.

Sunday morning saw me up early and out at 8 as I wasn’t sure how long it would take for me to get there as I had to take a bus at the end of the tube journey. My plan was to go to Essling first, check out the museum which is in the Granary and then bus it back to Aspern next – I was also thinking that I might be able to squeeze Wagram in too if I had enough time or if the missus wanted to get out of the city for the afternoon (it was a glorious day and I thought this might be on the cards). The journey on the U1 line was nice and quick and upon leaving the station at Kagran jumped on the 26A Bus to Bad-Enzerdorf for Essling. Aspern and Essling are both now suburbs of Vienna so one had to try and imagine the terrain without the buildings but one thing that is noticeable is how flat it is – really, really flat. This explains the ferocity of the Artillery fire mentioned in accounts of the battle, there’s no elevations to shelter behind if you are in the open, it must have been brutal.

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Near the Granary, the whole area is like this…
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… it goes on for miles.

I arrived in Essling early and, thankfully, finding an open café plotted up until opening time at the museum. I have to admit I was quite excited heading round the corner towards the Granary as I have been reading ‘Thunder on the Danube’ again before I left so was eager to see this famous building ‘in the flesh’. I arrived about 9:55 and started taking some snaps of the truly impressive building, it is massive and you can completely see why it was so important to the battle it would have dominated the area at the time. I finished taking the photos and began to get an uneasy feeling as I noticed that the door to the building was still padlocked and it was now about 10 o’clock. By 20 past I had decided that whoever was supposed to be opening up wasn’t and so I headed off to Aspern in the hope that that was open and to ask why the Granary wasn’t!

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The short trip to Aspern on the (thankfully) very regular 26A over I was relieved to see a sign outside the museum stating that it was open. However, the much vaunted ‘Lion of Aspern’ statue was encased in a large wooden shed, so again disappointment. The 3 volunteers at the entrance to the large shed/outhouse type building that was the museum assured me that Essling was open and called the guy there who apparently had been there since 10, I was feeling quite miffed by this time as you can imagine!

It took me about 10 minutes to check out the displays in the museum which contained a large collection of musketballs, shrapnel from shell casings, canister, roundshot, assorted swords and hangers and the odd rusty musket barrel. There were a few articles of clothing and the walls were covered in prints of the battle and uniform plates but all in all it left me cold. There was no description of the battle that I could see, no maps and if you didn’t speak German no information from the volunteers. I realise that it is entirely volunteer run and so probably badly underfunded but you would expect that one of the most important battles of Austrian history that actually ended in a victory and is on the doorstep of the capital would warrant some sort of government assistance.

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Assured that Essling was indeed open and disappointed in what I had just seen I, yet again, jumped on the trusty 26A and headed back. The granary is huge once you get up close to it and the walls are bloody thick but, again, disappointment is the first thing that hits you upon entering. I was expecting the museum to take up at least half of the bottom floor but it was sadly not the case, probably about a third if that. The room is nearly filled by the diorama of the battle which is actually very impressive with tons of figures – 8,000 plus apparently – and some nicely modelled terrain. The tardy volunteer chap did explain some salient points of the battlefield but as the language barrier was up he didn’t attempt any more than that, which was understandable but I appreciated the effort. There were a couple of display cases and a map of the battle in the entrance part of the space but again, it was all slightly disappointing probably not helped by me having to stand around like a lemon outside earlier.

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I headed back to Vienna to meet the missus as she wanted to go to Schonbrunn and felt quite disappointed. I think I spent more time on the 26A than I did in the Museums and think it is a shame that they aren’t funded so that they can be improved, I can see why they don’t charge for entry due to their size which must affect what they can do and I appreciate the effort of the volunteers who run them. Oh well, next time we visit, Sunday will definitely be spent in Wagram, at least you can get an idea of the terrain more there.

 

 

 

Club Night 20/03/17: 6mm GdB, 1813. Wussians!

There were two firsts for me in this game put on by Ian on Monday. First game of 6mm Napoleonics and it would be the first time I’ve ever commanded Russians so I was really looking forward to it.

The scenario was nice and straight forward, the Russians had to advance and secure a village that commanded a gap in the line of hills that the French were in possession of. To do this I had under command an Infantry Division, a Grenadier Division and a Brigade of Light Cavalry, my Infantry Division had a battery of 12 guns and the Cavalry had a battery of 6 guns attached. The French were in about a Division in strength with no visible Cavalry.

My plan was quite simple. Des would take the advanced guard consisting of the Jager and Cavalry Brigades with the Horse Artillery and engage the French in the village and on the hills on the right. I would take the rest of the Infantry Division (2 Brigades of 4 btlns each) and take the hills to the left where the French forces looked weaker, I could then roll the position up from that side. Ian would take his Grenadiers (once they arrived) and support the Jager, they were also to be the reserve in case any problems arose or to deal the coup de grace once my attack had developed. The French were led by Andy and Martin and, as mentioned, seemed to have the bulk of their forces either in the village or on the hills to the right – both of their batteries were posted in these locations too. On the left flank it seemed as if they only had a couple of battalions and no artillery which augured well for my planned attack on this side of the field.

So we commenced and Des immediately sent the Hussars and Uhlans of his Cavalry Brigade off to the right to engage the French posted on the hills to pin them in place. The Horse battery went with the horse hoping to cause discomfort to any squares that were formed and, if possible, to enable the cavalry a chance to charge home. His Jager Brigade advanced gallantly towards the village, throwing out a screen of skirmishers as the went consisting of a company from each battalion. I started my advance on the left when I arrived on the field and then the French started some long range artillery fire against Des’ command which resulted in some casualties due, no doubt, to Andy’s famous blue ‘devils dice’ that always roll well (a 9, 10, and a couple of 11’s wasn’t it Des?).

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Apart from a message from Ian telling me that his Grenadiers were going to be delayed a while things seemed to be developing well, Des had forced the French infantry on the hill to either form square or retire and his Horse battery had commenced battering one square that guarded the flank of the battery there. The Jager had started trading shots with the garrison of the village and the French suffered a setback when Andy’s dice failed him (allegedly because Martin had used them) and came up with snake-eyes when rolling for the battery in the village which meant that they were now low on ammo. Over on my side of the field I was having to pass through the defile caused by the woods but my advance rolled on even though it was slowed down a tad. I also dispatched half of my guns to the Jager to help take on the French batteries.

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It was about this time when a large cloud of dust appeared behind the village which by its volume and could only mean one thing, French cavalry had arrived. Never mind, we would stick to the plan as it seemed to be going ok, indeed Des now launched his Hussars against the decimated French square hoping to break it and carry on onto the battery behind. Unfortunately this didn’t come off quite as planned, the French infantry did break and retreat but the Hussars bounced back to the Russian guns enabling the French guns to make their escape. The French cavalry then put in an appearance, moving to counter the Russian horse, with one of their Dragoon regiments starting a charge up the hill which the Uhlans countered with a charge of their own the result of which was that both units refused to contact each other! A cloud of dust could be seen moving rapidly across the rear of the French position to the left flank so it was obvious that the French had another brigade of cavalry. Things had started to look a bit more difficult for us, however, the Grenadiers had now arrived and were marching rapidly to the front to support the Jager.

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The French then seemingly became emboldened with both the failure of the Russian cavalry to charge home and the arrival of their own heavies. The battery that had retired on the hills returned to their position and began taking the Jager under fire again, the heavy cavalry brigade then started a series of advances and charges that didn’t give the Russian horse time to rally and effectively took them out of the action, pushing them further and further back. I had finally reached the hills to the left of the village and as my first Brigade advanced to engage the retiring French infantry my second Brigade started to march around the extreme flank of the enemy position.

It was now that the French infantry from the hills on the right and the village assaulted the Jager to their front, who had been suffering from artillery fire, before the grenadiers arrived to reinforce them. This attack was carried out with the usual French elan and it succeeded in pushing the Jager back. I then discovered that the French did indeed have another Cavalry brigade and had to stop the outflanking manoeuvre of my second brigade and put them into square. At the same time my lead battalion in my first brigade  was forced to retreat due to a devastating volley from two French battalions and I was having trouble making the other battalions charge home, (couldn’t manage to change the brigade orders to assault).

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So things had not turned out so well for us: the cavalry was in full retreat on the right pursued by French cavalry, the infantry attack on the left flank was stymied by the presence of the other French cavalry brigade and our inability to close with the bayonet on the weak French infantry. It all hinged on us breaking through in the centre. The French infantry attack here had caused the artillery to retreat and did manage to break a Jager battalion and force the remainder back. However, the Grenadiers were finally in position and they launched a counter attack on the lead French battalion, surely this would see us embark on a glorious counter attack that would sweep the enemy from the field. Alas, it was not to be and so wioth that final throw of the dice failing we decided that there was no use continuing with the attack, we would have to try again another day (we had run out of time too!).

All in all it was a great game. Things were in the balance for a while, I really did think we were going to win for most of the game and it is the small margins that decided the outcome: taking the French battery on the hills, being able to assault the infantry on the left, not having two brigades of heavy cavalry turn up, that sort of thing. As usual it was a pleasure playing with the gents and an absolute joy to be using Ian’s 6mm kit, very nice indeed and does suit Napoleonics so well. Thanks all round.

 

 

 

 

 

Marengo at Martins – GdB AAR

Right, now that is off my chest time to start catching up on some of the stuff I have to report on during my wee ‘sabbatical’.

Back in November I had the honour of visiting Martin’s house to take part in a large General de Brigade game. We would be refighting some of the action from the Battler of Marengo and I was looking forward to it very much as, as you know, I reckon you can’t beat a grand scale Napoleonic dust up. The game was played in Martin’s lovely shed o’war that was a fantastic venue to spend a days gaming, indeed I could have quite happily spent the time looking at his figures and checking out his great library – I’m glad I don’t have a garden as I would definitely be suffering from shed envy!

So, to the battle. I was on the Austrian side along with Ian and Martin and we faced the dastardly French led by Andy, Des and Paul. Unfortunately I can’t remember the details but it was a very tough fight for us Kaiserlicks having to force a crossing over a stream to our front that was short on crossing points and defended with skill by our opponents. Ian did manage to get across over on the left as the French forces here were not very strong although he was hampered by the size of our units that slowed the movement across the stream to a crawl as a hefty jam formed at the crossing site. Once across though a massive cavalry action ensued in the extreme open left flank which the French won resulting in a general withdrawal back towards the stream.

In the middle I was trying to cross the bridge into Marengo village itself (not sure if it was Marengo actually, hopefully one of the chaps could put me straight here?) which I only managed to do late in the day finally getting a few battalions of Grenadiers across which broke the defenders but then got absolutely smashed by a timely counter-attack from some fresh French units causing us to lose control of the bridge again.

Martin on the right flank was also having a terrible time getting across the stream, the French defenders had cleverly retired from the woods along the stream which although it surrendered the far bank to us it caused untold problems to our troops getting across as they took a while to get formed up again after crossing. Although we did make some headway for a while here we couldn’t make enough headway and the French line, although battered held on.

So in the end the French held on, and history was (sort of) repeated but most importantly we had a cracking days wargaming as usual played in the correct spirit among some proper gentlemen. To top it all off Martin was a fantastic host, we had a lovely Chicken Marengo for lunch, very apt and the icing on the cake as it were. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the next visit!

 

Anhalt Btln for GdB: WIP

The Warlords have a summer break in the month of August which means no game this Monday just gone (and for the next 3 weeks probably – boo!). However, I have vowed to get some proper painting done in the break, and after the big game the other week I had decided that I will get cracking on with some Napoleonics. I have always been drawn to the troops of the Rheinbund since I got interested in Napoleonics (down to my Dad’s Funken book – in French as well!) and so it was a no brainer to start with the ‘dwarf states’ and work my way up from there.

The plan is to work through the Rheinbund Regiments first adding the small units of cavalry and artillery from these states too – I want the units to be used for 1813/4 as well as the early part of the wars which gives scope for some interesting volunteer forces to be added also.

As no one does the figures for these units in 15/18mm (Perry’s do some gorgeous ones in 28mm though and I might get a few one day..) you have to get the nearest thing and make some compromises and so for the Anhalters I’m using AB Orange-Nassau figures. This gives the single breasted jacket and shako cords but also a plume and no epaulettes so I’m compromising by having the centre companies using a full plume and the flank companies sans epaulettes. They also have a British style canteen which I really didn’t want to take off as it’d ruin the back of the jacket so have kept it on (sorry button counters!) – the Anhalters did fight with British troops when they were with Walmoden’s Corp though so maybe they picked them up from them?!

After a bit of a false start last week, I wasn’t feeling great and got distracted with a bit of Europa Universalis 3, I have been slowly plugging away and have just about finished off the first 3 companies – they have just been given their wash and I’ll do some spot fixing if needed and the base them up once dried off tomorrow. I received the figures for the second part of the Battalion yesterday and they were primed straight away so I will get cracking on those now. So I thought I’d take a couple of snaps to share, I’m quietly pleased with how these have turned out. I’m in no way a Paul Alba or Gunner Dunbar but the difference between these and the Frankfurt Battalion I painted last year has shown me how much I’ve improved which is quite pleasing. In fact I wish I had tarted the Frankfurter’s up now before rebasing them but they might be good to keep as a yardstick from where I started….

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And the first two companies are based, will be adding flock etc when they are joined by the rest of the Battalion, which should be later in the week as work on them is well under way.

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Big GdB AAR: Liebertwolkwitz

Saturday saw another Big Game Saturday at the Warlords and once again Des came up trumps by putting on a game based on the action at Liebertwolkwitz. Historically this saw Murat in command of a wing of Napoleon’s forces engaged by the advance guard of the Army of Bohemia to the south of Leipzig with the French trying to secure the villages and important high ground in the vicinity and the Allies wanting to pin the Grande Armee in place.

As the combined collections of those involved did not have enough cavalry to re-enact the absolutely huge cavalry fight that happened we would be conducting a slightly different fight, albeit one with a LOT of cavalry – indeed the phrase ‘that is a lot of cavalry’ was said by just about everyone present at one time or another, including those that weren’t playing!

The figures were from Des’ and Andy’s collections with a contribution from Martin too and the rules were standard General de Brigade rules with new order activation and command activation rules for big battles.

The sides were picked and commands were assigned thus:

French

  • Paul – Reserve Cavalry Corps with at least 6 brigades.
  • Martin – Corp with 2 French Divisions of 2 Brigades each and 2 foot batteries. Martin also took command of all the Reserve artillery
  • Myself – Corp with an Italian Division of 2 Brigades and 3 batteries and the Wurttemberg Division with 2 batteries (Des kindly included these for me as they are a particular favourite of mine!).

Allied

  • Andy – Allied Cavalry, I think it was a couple of Corps with just about every type of cavalry known to man, from Cossacks to Kurassier!
  • Des – Russian Corp with 2 small Infantry Divisions and tons of guns!
  • Warren – Austrian Corp with 2 Infantry Divisions, a Cavalry Brigade and attached artillery

We got cracking with setting the table up, all 17 and a half by 6 feet of it, and getting our troops down then a quick cuppa whilst making our plans and then we were ready to get into action.

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The players, L-R: Paul, Des, Martin, Warren, Andy and myself.
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Looking along the table from the French left, Gross Posna in the foreground, Liebertwolkwitz is beyond the wood, the massive cavalry battle would take place at the far end. (Apologies for blurriness!)

 

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A clearer shot by Des from the other end of the table later in the action

I will only be able to give an accurate description of what was going on with my own force as once combat started I only knew what was going on to my immediate right and apart from the occasional walk up the other end to ask Paul how it was going I really didn’t have a clue what was going on over there! But first some more pre-battle photo’s:

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As soon as we got ready to start I thought that I might have made a big mistake on my deployment, I should have put the larger of my two Italian brigades on the extreme left and put the Wurttembergers in Liebertwolkwitz – I blame only having a few hours kip and being somewhat hungover – however things didn’t seem to be too bad in the end.

After kick-off the wings were where it was at with both Cavalry commanders doing what they should and immediately moving forwards to contact each other, the fight here would sway to and fro all day as brigade after brigade was committed. In the centre Martin had decided to sit tight and try and win the artillery duel with the Russians before committing his command. Des opposite him decided to do pretty much the same and for a while a mighty gun battle raged here until the French finally won the upper hand and started to advance.

Over on my flank Warren had obviously received orders to quickly take the villages as he started attacking from the off. My Wurttemberg artillery did some great shooting though and managed to impede his process on the extreme left as he seemed reticent to move into effective range until the next Brigade along had taken Gross Posna and thus spent some time deploying whilst soaking up casualties. The initial attack on Gross Posna was repulsed, before bundling out the Jager that were garrisoning it at the second attempt, however the attacks to the flank of the village did not meet with the same success as they came up against strong Italian resistance.

To the right of this action Warren’s other Division lumbered forwards with one brigade wasting no time in attacking Liebertwolkwitz and the other the woods between this village and Gross Posna. My plucky Italian lads defending this part of the line were more than up to the task though, ably assisted by artillery fire from Martin’s guns to my flank, and saw off the assault on the village in some style, the number of broken battalions causing a brigade moral test which saw the whole lot leg it from the field!

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The trouble with fighting Austrians is that there are just thousands of them and they keep on coming! Even though Warren’s assault had failed he was keeping up the pressure on the rest of the line and managed to start to push into the wood as the Italian Light Infantry posted there fell back before superior numbers (it was just here that one of Warren’s battalions did seem to spend the whole battle refusing to charge home on an Italian battalion and thus earning the sobriquet ‘the von Falterbergs’).

About this time Martin had ordered his Corp forwards as there was now a sizable gap in the Allied line both from the missing Austrian brigade and due to Des having to draw back his Russians after his guns ran out of ammunition. The lack of further threat to Liebertwolkwitz meant that I too could start to move some of my troops, so I ordered the reserve battalions of my Italian Division across towards the wood to counter attack the Austrians that were starting to get a foothold there. As for the cavalry action over on the right I can not say too much, although I believe the better mounts of the Allied troopers were making a difference and they were slightly winning the fight – they had definitely broken at least one of our brigades.

Over on thee left I had attacked into Gross Posna to retake the village. This worked initially but a swift counter attack from a fresh battalion caught the victorious Wurttembergers unformed and routed them out of the village which forced the whole brigade to fall back, luckily, although they were broken, not all of the battalions dispersed so I had a chance of salvaging something and re-forming them. Warren then managed to charge my remaining battery in the flank as it was now exposed which he duly overran. I had no other option but to concede ownership of the village and start to fall back with my remaining Wurttemberg brigade to form a new line to protect the flank although Warren’s troops in this sector had received quite a bloody nose in the process.

Unfortunately we had to end earlier than we expected so the battle stopped at this point which was a great shame as it had reached a very interesting point with the Austrian success on the left and the Allies gaining the upper hand in the cavalry fight. However, in between the two wings the French were in command I think, Martin was surging forwards and I was about to push the Austrians out of the woods with my relatively untouched Italian troops so things were balanced quite nicely.

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So another great days gaming done and I know I’ve said it before but it really is what the hobby is all about for me: thousands of beautiful Napoleonic miniatures fighting it out in the grand manner with a bunch of thoroughly lovely blokes playing the game in the right spirit, what more could you ask for!

Many thanks go to Des again for the game and  to all the chaps involved: thanks again for a great day.  A special doff of my chapeau goes to Warren with whom I had a right good ding-dong fight with all day – I salute you sir!

Here’s a link to Des’ photos of the day on his FB page – they will be in better focus than mine as he sensibly didn’t get newted the night before!!

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010077123583&pnref=story

 

 

 

Club Night 07/03/’16: Blucher – French vs Prussians

I was actually looking forwards to trying out these rules as I had obviously read so much about them on t’interweb. Matthew was the guy putting on the game which saw a French army of 2 Infantry Corps and a Cavalry Corp taking on a Prussian Army of 3 Corps. The terrain was loosely based on that of Ligny and Alex’s French chaps had to clear me away from the villages and break my army.

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My initial deployment and initial French moves. A Landwehr Regt is in the village on the French side of the stream.

The action moved along quite quickly as the first few moves were just our forces manoeuvring for position.

Matthew advanced one Corp straight towards the village in front of my line whilst moving the second infantry Corp across the stream to advance on the left hand village. Over on my right he advanced a few blinds to secure the hill. To counter this I just stayed put in the centre whilst the left hand Corp moved forwards to secure the village and I moved the right hand Corp’s 2 cavalry brigades and horse battery forwards to contest ownership of the hill – my plan here was to secure that flank and then advance the infantry from this Corp round the bend in the stream and into the French flank.

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Assault on the central village starts whilst 2nd French Corp moves on my left flank.

Matthew’s assault on the village in my centre was bravely continued for much of the game but the staunch Landwehr regiment garrisoning it held on for ages whilst being slowly whittled down – they repulsed two division sized assaults from the French and severely mauled the Division doing so whilst the French Corp battery expended all of its fire supporting the attack. The French also tried to force a crossing of the stream to either side of the village but even though my units took some damage from a long running musketry fight before the assault they saw the French off, again, whilst causing serious damage to the attackers.

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Prussians brace themselves for French assault.

On the left the French scored a slight success by winning the battle between the light cavalry brigades on the extreme flank but my chaps had the upper hand in the firefights and Matthew seemed reluctant to press home attacks here so I had successfully stymied his advance. Over on the right my Cavalry attack proved very successful, in a short fight I managed to drive off 2 brigades of dragoons and a horse battery securing that flank.

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Left flank secured and awaiting the French attack – the gunners here did some sterling work.
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My excellent Cavalry force from the right hand Corp moves up to secure the hill.

The game had reached just over the halfway point at this point when Matthew conceded the game – even though he had taken the village in the centre of my line he had taken a severe battering doing so and didn’t think he had enough infantry left to push on across the stream with only 2 fresh brigades in reserve. My left flank was well secured with my units there in relatively good health and I still had a completely uncommitted infantry force on the other flank and was about to unleash them whilst the cavalry force I had sent out ahead had taken the hill whilst driving off heavier opposition.

So my first game of Blucher was done and I must say I was quite underwhelmed by it – there was just something intangible that made me not quite dig the rules. Don’t get me wrong: they were a piece of the proverbial to pick up, there are a few good mechanics in there, they were fun to play and perfect for a club night (we finished well before finishing time) there was just something missing that made me go wow! I think maybe it was the aesthetics of the game that was bugging me, I am not saying owt against Matthew’s figures I just feel that if you are going to do the brigade/base type thing then I reckon you need to do it in 6mm so that the bases look like brigades – see here for a great example from the ‘Storm of Steel’ blog:

http://stormofsteelwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2016_03_01_archive.html

The lack of artillery is also something I have trouble with in these games – it has been the same when I have played Grande Armee and Napoleon’s Battles – don’t know why it just always bothers me! Would I play it again, yes would be the answer as it is always good to get some Napoleonic action in whatever the rules! Matthew has agreed to give my adaptation of Age of Eagles a go soon, and I’ll be happy to give his ones a whirl too so maybe we will find a set that we both like so that we can get more games in as I know Matthew is not completely convinced about Blucher too.