Thursday, 31 May 2018

Battle of Eylau 2018

Rather than snow …. or lots of baking powder all over the table….we decided to do this January 1807 battle in the summer.

Start of the game.  Eylau is represented by the yellow church in the middle
Showing James' fine work.  He did these French AND a Russian command!
Murat's huge heavy horse command.  Murat is the single horseman in the centre.  DaveB's nicely painted Imperial Guard is in the background.
Looking upon the Russian Right/French Left flanks
Showing Davout (commanded by myself) coming onto the battlefield near the village of Serpallen only to be stopped by a good defence by Ostermann (MarkS) and reinforcements coming in.  
Showing late in the battle with the Russians advancing with infantry and artillery.

I debated whether to add sandstorms (rather than snowstorms) add/or downgrade the Russian command and combat abilities, but in the end did not add any variations.  Probably should have.

One result is the Russians actually saw how few French were in front of them and immediately advanced.  By not lowering their maneuver pips and thus they moved at uncharacteristic speed for the Russians of this era.  Using group moves  (the now banned after game casual debate over lunch and beers), they managed to move troops to the beleaguered left flank to which Davout (myself) was attacking.  My attack along with all the other French commanders were stymied by the good Russian commanders.

Lestocq (and yes that is the spelling; and no, I have no idea how to pronounce;  we went with "la-stock") the lone Prussian finally entered at the historical time and immediately started marching toward the French.  However it was clear even at that point that the French were done and the Corps Morale rolls were starting to affect the outcome in any event (as they should)

It was a bad day for the French and our first a-historical result using the rules.  Should have gone with the original plan.  Must revisit this battle with such changes and see if the result will be different and, as interestingly, a historical one.
Nevertheless the game was a good one and as the players are now well familiar with the rules, the game chugged along at a good pace.  We had 95 elements on the table, with 9 players and concluded the affair in one time slot.

Thanks to all the players and to those who contributed the time and effort in painting and basing your figures for the game.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Dressing Quintuplets...

Is it usual for parents of twins, and heaven forbid quintuplets, to dress their children exactly the same or is it more difficult but better to make each an individual?  I was faced with that problem when I decided the current set of building I have for the 28mm Napoleonics collection, needed to be a bit different for the upcoming battle of Eylau we are presenting at the "Enfilade" convention in Olympia, WA this weekend.
Eylau was in Prussia and I wanted a bit less the central Europe look than my current collection of buildings, so digging around in my paper buildings scraps, I found an intact building (well, OK the same side of one single building....) which I thought had a more, Prussian-ish feel.  [ don't tell anyone that it is from the Hougomont the Belgium complex of Waterloo fame ]  Lots of dark brick anyway.

I need four buildings to represent each of the important towns around the battlefield and made a fifth just in case.  it would have been easy just to make all the same with plain fields around each, but it might look a bit 'regular' on the tabletop, so I tried to make each a bit different to lessen the sameness.
Proof will be in the pudding as the old expression goes, and so we shall see the images of the upcoming game to see if they stand out or indeed have we made individuals of all the quintuplets.....

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Napoleon's Naval Artillery Regiments

After his disastrous Russian Campaign, Napoleon looked for new sources of manpower for his new armies in Germany in 1813, including the marine artillery contingents bottled up in the various harbours by the Royal Navy.  These proved to be, by most commentaries, to be exceptional fighters and were a large part of his forces during that year's fighting.
Napoleon's Naval Artillery Regiments of the 1813 campaigns.  They would mostly fight in their dark blue greatcoats as the weather was exceptionally poor with almost constant heavy rains marking most of the summer and autumn battles.

Wearing dark blue greatcoats and trousers and black covered shakos with red fringed epaulettes they were often misidentified as Imperial Guardsmen.  Their unique carrot-shaped short red plume I modelled with a bit of epoxy putty (green stuff) on the top of the existing round pompon of spare hussar shako heads

The figures are Victrix guardsmen obtained from a gaming buddy who had glued them up but decided not to paint.  I was able to remove the original heads and replaced them with spare hussar heads. He did a good job in the posing for a convincing firing line.

Monday, 7 May 2018

"but you are suppose to hold here!"

Yeah, probably 2nd Manassas but “The Battle of the Unfinished Railroad Cut” has a more folksy sound;  was an interesting game of DennisC’s 20mm ACW during the monthly Friday ClubNight in which I and KevinA as Confederates were tasked with defending the unfinished railway line from overwhelming Union forces from Colin and Nate’s disparate assaults, using the 2nd Edition Fire and Fury Brigade rules (which new charts really has it resembling the regimental version!) in this fictional what-if scenario.
The Confederates were well-outnumbered in this battle and indeed even had green units (gasp!) 
The grey strip is Dennis's representation of the unfinished railway cutting which I was suppose to defend.  I did, but not in the way poor Dennis would wish the battle to be conducted :)
Dang many bluecoats.  Fun to see the numerous figures I had painted being used on the table.

Dennis near had a apoplectic fit as I promptly advanced my meagre two units toward the four units facing me a hill away and followed that by moving my other two into the woods ahead.  “You are suppose to defend the line!” exclaimed Dennis at seeing my advances. And then he really shook his head when I then ‘vanished’ my crack cavalry unit.  “Where is it?!” asked Dennis. “It’s moving hidden from the enemy”, respond I.  “Well, I better not see it behind my troops!” added Colin (my Union opponent).  “No it will not ”, I answered, “but will be unseen as you still have four blank blocks  ( indicating more possible Union units unknown as of yet ). More than fair I am thinking”

Indeed my charging Rebs were short a couple of inches from the blocks but as the rules indicate visibility into the woods, Dennis as GM, laid them out.  Colin protested but I suggested “they could smell you d*nmed Yankees a mile away” in my best Southern accent.  Dennis placed yet more Union on the table.  Outnumbered 3 to 1 but not defending his beloved railway defensive positions,  Dennis suggested “this was not suppose to happen!”.
We know the Yankees were there as we could smell 'em......

But I was happy in the tactics.  Especially as my other two units had, again, advanced ( “You are suppose to defend!”) and started to attack Nate’s Union open right flank of their attack up hill against KevinA’s few Confederates holding our right part of the line.  The two Union player’s forces had separated, leaving a big gap in the middle for me to exploit so I came to aid Kevin with this flank attack from the middle.
The units of my attack in the center directed by Stonewall himself.  Lots of bonus command points for that!

All was going well but even early in the game, when the artillery was firing at very long ranges,      casualties seemed very severe.  But now as artillery was in effective ranges due to our advances, the artillery fire became absolutely devastating. Unfortunately Dennis had severely overestimated the amount of artillery which was historically deployed and so had perhaps 4X the number of models on the table which amounted to massive grand batteries of firepower.  Even low rolls were causing disorder and mayhem.  High rolls blew away whole units, including my previously hidden cavalry which I had moved around the hill to advance upon the guns which were unsupported and partially destroyed or silenced and alone in the Union empty middle.  But un-like the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade which, one might remember still did reach the guns, my elite boys were completely destroyed by a single volley by an average die roll by the guns. Sigh.  
a view of Kevin's defence's on our right flank.  Lots and lots of artillery in this fictional what-if battle made for huge casualties

Kevin was still holding his hill but weakening against the large numbers assaulting him.  My attack from the centre had a nice effect as the green (poor) Union unit at the end of their line routed (Nate had rolled an unfortunate 1 on the d10 dice employed by FnF - which ruleset use of the single d10 makes wide swings in one’s fortunes)
This rout would allow that attack would be effective but as often happens with wargames, real time will effect the battle and it was called.  Both sides claimed victory.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Battle of Renaix (fictional)

Both Ney and the corps commander Gerard were well aware they were heavily outnumbered but were under orders to delay as much s possible the Allied advance.  Gerard was at first prepared to defend the the small ridge north of the town of Renaix but seeing the Allied numbers especially in horse to his lone attached dragoon element (8 to 1) he abandoned that plan to then occupy the woods to the west of the town and the town itself to the east to anchor his defense and place his large artillery batteries between those terrain features to cover his centre.

Lord Hill, commanding the numerous Allied force made basically the same conclusion in observing the woods and town to be the main points of the French defence.  As an assault of the centre would be deadly and overall he wanted to husband his troops for the further campaign, Hill placed the woods clearing to Stedman and his Dutch-Belgians.  On the other flank, he sent Cole along with Kruse’s Nassauers to assault the town again hoping to push the French out of the feature and into the open fields beyond. With that, his British light horse would follow up the retreat to break the French.

As the Allied centre did not want to face the French artillery in the centre, The action was to be on each end of the battlefield.  The Hanoverian brigade demonstrated the French firepower by coming within the French cannon range from its deployment to attack the town and paying the price, disintegrated forcing a command morale roll by Cole temporarily stopping his advance.  He shifted the Nassau brigade out of range and had them follow his elite 27th Enniskillen Foot to the town.

In the usual vicious town fighting the Nassauers were heavily engaged and the 27th also hurt. In several hours the Allies were retreating from the town

On the other end of the battle, Stedman had entered the woods and was slowly working his Dutch-Belgians around the western end, but the Chasseurs collapsed against the experienced French Lights and his division fell back.
Now Hill was forced to change his dispositions, moving Colville to replace Stedman while Colville’s artillery useless against firing into the woods, moved to the front.  Hill also ordered the Duke of Brunswick to move his ‘corps’ to help Cole to secure the town while he moved to help Colville and his command. Like Wellington, he needed to be everywhere.

Perhaps seeing the redcoats cresting the hill or feeling safety from the French, the Dutch-Belgians regain their composure (my roll of a 6 had them fully recovered from that unfortunate corps morale roll previously!)

Cole’s assault on Renaix failed and around noon, many journals of the battle would recall the strange silence over the battlefield.  No guns fired, no masses of troops moved.

Hill, seeing Cole’s lost effort against the town and Stedman’s weak division holding the flanks, the French still happily in position, pondered if fresh attacks would merely squander his force.
On the other side, Gerald, on the left and behind the woods wondered why the silence while Ney on the right pursued his debate whether to hold the town or retreat intact.

Both sides in their debates asked if a further clash would serve their campaign victory further when a lone Enniskillen officer shouted, “That’s enough going back, lads!” and the regiment abruptly turned around to once again face the enemy. ( I rolled the miracle 6 on the dice once again!)
Hill upon seeing that all was not lost, again ordered adjustments in his tactics for further attacks.
He move the horse artillery to start a bombardment of the town and caused the remaining French formation to abandon the town as fires were ignited.

On the right, western flank, Stedman started successfully to envelope the French far flank, as Colville’s impressive column moved to the woods. While his corps morale held, Gerard knew his time was limited. he had not the troops to cover his right as the town that was his anchor will soon be taken and his overall positions would be overrun. Surprisingly Ney suggested the withdrawal.  So after five hours of fighting, Gerard called for the retreat and all his units started to move to his LOC ( the optional rule offers a “retreat order” which does not count PiPs command points but does not allow artillery fire or strong fighting. The opponents must still roll for command but for any light horse)  But with this, the Allies had a big advantage in light horse, but seemingly caught off-guard by the precipitous French withdrawal, the previously idle Allied light horse stationed in the centre of the Allied line for this purpose, could not quite catch the French as they exited the table…. merely the mathematics of distance and the measuring stick.

However the pursuit continued with a few batteries of Royal Horse Artillery adding effect to any squares forming to ward off the British hussars but this practice ended when the French dragoons stopped to lend assistance.  Nevertheless the French retreat did not stop until they returned to Leuze late in the day.

While the Allies had a huge 23 to 7 element advantage, most divisions including the D-B horse and Colville’s divisions were not in the action and overall casualties were light.  However while Gerard accomplished his starting goals, the Allies would claim victory in this, the third of the 2nd Day battles of the 100.5 Day campaign.