Sunday, 17 August 2014

The big Summer Battle

The call out was made and Bob and James drove all the way from Oregon to play our Napoleonic rules!
I hosted my annual big Napoleonic game with a fictional battle between my Prussians and Seth's (also American by the way) Austrians/Bavarians.  Local boys Ian and Bob joined for the early morning start.

Once coffee was on, we got all the food and drink settled and all have arrived I present a very brief  outline that with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Prussia is back being irked that they did not get the whole of Saxony from the Congress of Vienna, and so they and the Austrians are at it again.

The leading Prussian brigades foot sore heard of a shoe factory at Wantizburg but thereby bumping into the lead elements of the Austrian Army.  Having designs on the territory, the Prussians did not want to destroy the town, as likewise did the Austrians and so each did not contest the town, for the benefit of the game play and this historical action.

I challenged the players to identify the tabletop.  I said it was well-known historic battle but not Napoleonic.  James got it straight away.  Gettysburg (what you Wantiz is not always what you Gettys..... yeah, silly but I got to call it something!)   Where forth we ended up calling it Gettysburg regardless of the troops and surprisingly, it turned out very close to the real thing!
The battle of "Gettysburg" looks to be about early "Day Two"

We had 7 smallish corps on the Austro-Bavarian side and 4 larger corps on the Prussian side. (some 55 elements in total for the Prussians alone)  Very similar in corps numbers to the historical action.
The Confederate masses of Johnson and Early's brigades... I mean Thielemann's Prussians commanded by James.
View from the NNW with Ewell's/Bulow's Corps under "American Bob" pushing back the Bavarians of Howard's Corps under local Bob's command (he later took Sickles' Corps also). 

It is still play-testing, so we tried out as new rules: the use of sub-commanders, we looked at the new artillery usage and quickly developed new corps morale [ Seth and I were exchanging emails the night before! ] and these were further refined during the game.  We did a lot of discussion during the 8 hours of play and even so, got a conclusion based on objectives if not corps morale breaks (as everyone kept rolling very well for these)

I had each corps come on the table in generally the same time and direction as historical; perhaps waiting or placing on the table as the situation dictated for the "storyline of Gettysburg" but it worked everyone seemed to think.
Seth's Austrians playing the part of Sickles Corps marching just in time to occupy the Round Top hills.  Old Glory figures on the left, Perry plastics on the right.
The battle was a close one and at the end, the Union Army (sorry, Austro-Bavarians) kept a hold on the flanking hills of Culp's and the Round Tops to eke out a victory.  The key combat was, and this so mimics history as to be almost scary,  a final desperate attack uphill by my two beaten up elements vs "Canadian Bob"'s isolated brigade.  The odds were even - I had numbers, he had the uphill position - and we were all at the minimum 1 MP. As our combat rule goes,  if I roll higher than he I win and take no hits and thus will take the absolute flanking hill of the A-B army.  If we tie, we both mutually destroy our combat effectiveness.But at least he is gone.    I roll a 2 but...he rolls a 3 (the best roll possible and only 16% chance of making!) and thus takes out both my units without loss to himself.  While this occurred not on Little Round Top but on the representation of Big Round Top, it was certainly the ultimate 20th Maine moment and assured the victory for the Union, aah, Austrians as it did in the real battle
Sorry for the fuzzy photo but I guess I was excited about the opportunity to take Big Round Top hill (at right) with my two brigades at the very left flank of the Austrian army and perhaps win the day for the Kaiser.  But as I describe in the text, Bob rolled high and he had a 20th Maine moment alas.  All game my corps move rolls were very poor and so I had many unsupported and disjointed attacks and Plum Creek along with Devil's Den - note the large rocks - disordered any moves I tried to make. Gneisenau was not impress by my performance this day
Had the Prussians had a heavy horse cuirassier division at this point we would have thrown it at Cemetery Ridge in a Pickett like gamble but alas I have not collected any as none were present in the 100 Days Campaign.  Hmm should I do them up regardless?? Oh lord, that Napoleonic black hole is gaining strength.....

Seth and I spent a bit more time after the other's departure going thru the action and the rules.
 We are getting there.

Thanks for James, the two Bobs, Ian and Seth for joining me in the big game and it proves that Napoleonics can look good, be a massive game but still play quick and fun and to conclusion.


  1. Great looking game! That would have been fun to attend.

  2. ahhh yes the siren song of endless Napoleonic possibilities ...

  3. Of course, if you had fielded the Prussian Kurrasiers.....

    1. ....I would have said, after yet another of my poor rolls of the dice,"But guys, I no longer have a division!"


  4. It does look like a big battle, Doug. like the look of 10/12 man infantry units, which must really help in executing maneuvers. Next time I play Naps. I may have to halve down my unit (current 24-man infantry and 12-man cav units). Best, Dean