Thursday, April 23, 2009

Game Report - Napoleonic Tournament Campaign

My first game in the Napoleonic Tournament Campaign we are running at the Northern Conspiracy was against Andrew S. and his Russian horde. I am playing with a later French allied army composed of Polish and Italian troops. I have two quality line infantry divisions and one regular infantry division and a conscript line infantry division. I also have one light cavalry division and one heavy cavalry division. My corps and army commands have artillery support and the army commander has an independent cavalry brigade.
Our game was set up using an interesting book that I have with 100 tournament game maps in it. You roll two ten-sided die and refer to the book for the set up. It includes hills, rivers, roads, swamps, fields, basically everything you could think of for terrain.
Our terrain ended up being pretty simple. Two hills and a large forest on my left, a swamp in the left center of the table and one smaller hill on my right. The center and right center of the table were pretty flat and open. This picture shows the initial deployment of our armies on the table.

Andrew and I drew basically the same card with most of our forces leaving the battlefield on turn 1 and coming back on the table as returning detachments. My troops returned sooner and I began to move across the board towards Andrew's LOC. Andrew designed his army to be strong defensively and he immediately picked a strong position anchored on the swamp, which he knew I couldn't cross. With skirmishers and dedicated guns on every stand he had quite a strong position once he went stationary. This picture shows the battle evolving around turn 3.

I attempted to set my light cavalry division on a flank attack around my left, his right. The division actually got into a position where it could attack one of his two cavalry divisions. Here is the one moment of glory for the Polish forces on this day as two cavalry brigades and a horse gun take on the mounted Russian hordes!

Much to Andrew's credit he didn't throw any dice at me as he repeatedly missed the heroic 2nd Light Horse Brigade (shown here).

I think we counted something in excess of 25 die rolls which all missed. I managed to exhaust the cavalry division, however, he had reserves coming onto the board just as I broke through and he stabilized the situation. My own cavalry division became exhausted and retired to the hill on my left to wait out the rest of the battle.

Finally, I realized that I had to try and get around a flank - so I tried both at the same time! Here is my Italian division trying to get through the forest and into his right flank. They would not succeed!

Andrew deftly countered each of my maneuvers using his interior lines and continued to set a very strong defensive line every time I moved. Notice the defensive front already forming even before the Italians can get through the woods in the picture above. At turn 10 we decided to conclude the battle and count up victory points. Andrew won the game by one point.
Hats off to my valiant opponent. He learned from the last two games of V&B that we played. He protected his flanks and set up a strong defense to try and entice me in. I couldn't maneuver him out of position and I didn't want to get into a situation where my troops were out of position either.
Once we concluded the battle for the tournament we continued with a few moves and I decided to throw in a couple of attacks to see how I could do against his line. Given his stationary status, and the significant number of heavy gun stands that he has, my attacks were predictably non-starters. I lost several strength points and he was in a great position to conduct a counter attack at the end.
Lessons learned include the following:
1. Don't attack a stationary enemy who has dedicated guns and skirmishers. Too many defensive dice to take on. One must maneuver to a point of strength and put in an overwhelming attack.
2. Cavalry do not stand a chance against any kind of formed infantry if there are dedicated guns and skirmishers. Too many dice to fight as the cavalry cannot take any amount of punishment due to their low exhaustion levels.
3. Don't wait too long to put in your assault, especially if there is difficult terrain to cross to get into the attack.
I should have decided to attack from the very beginning and then gone for it. If I had infantry support for the cavalry flanking maneuver (or vice-versa) than my assault would have been much more successful. Hindsight, as always, is 20/20. Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I am enjoying the campaign.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hosted a Quatre Bras Game

I hosted a Volley & Bayonet game recreating the Battle of Quatre Bras 1815. As you may or may not know this was one of several small battles preceding the Battle of Waterloo. Armies were the Anglo-Allies under the Duke of Wellington against the Left Wing of the French Armee du Nord under Marshal Ney.

The scenario was very balanced and played very well for the four players involved. The French got off to a rocky start with a single stand of Dutch skirmishers defeating two massed stands of French in melee. This exhausted a French division when they routed off the board and were removed from play!

The French recovered sufficiently to resume the advance, however, by the time they got into a general assault the Allied line was too strong and the French never managed to get to threaten the crossroads.

The armies I have painted look great on the table and I am really glad that I have put together this scenario. I look forward to running the game again soon so we can see if a better first turn or two can make any difference for the French in the long run.

I think some photos were taken of the game so I will try to get copies to post here at the blog so you can see them.

First Campaign Games in the Book

The first several games of our Volley & Bayonet "Tournament Campaign" are in the book. So far we have had a good mix of results and the rest of the tournament should prove very interesting as different armies face off. In my first game against Andrew Simpson's Russian army we maneuvered all across the board but didn't do much fighting as each of us was reluctant to make the first charge. Our battle ended up as a tie.

One thing the tournament has done is generate lively debate about different facets of the rules. One of the major issues has been the impact of dedicated guns and reinforcing skirmishers on combat. All combat is significantly more deadly than it was in the past making the Napoleonic game just as bloody as the the later 19th century combat. Another major change is the different rules regarding infantry voluntarily moving into musket range of cavalry. Infantry now can move into range of a cavalry stand and blast away. If the cavalry survives the infantry still has an advantage in melee, even when it is not stationary. I will post more when I have a chance on the battle results.