Sunday, 21 January 2018

A mini campaign and a battle with no name

Yesterday Tony and Goya braved the Perthshire snow to convene here at Hinton Hunt Towers for a game of Muskets & Marshals. The scenario was the result of a mini campaign played between them with myself acting as umpire. The campaign was set in a ficticious and nameless area of central Europe during 1813/14. The idea was to produce a game where each player had a say in what forces would be present and what terrain would be fought over.

This is the campaign map showing the location of forces just prior to the
battle. The divisons outlined in red are French and the remainder are the
Austro-Prussians. Each divison was slightly different in composition but
had 2-3 units and 1-2 batteries. The black box in the centre of the map is
the area selected by Goya for the battle. Most of the off-table forces were
 able to enter the game on turn 2 but some were restricted. Each square
 on the map represents one 2' x 2' terrain tile.

In the end it was Tony (Napoleon) who made the aggressive moves to bring about a battle and Goya (Blucher) who got to choose the battlefield. Because Tony had initiated the battle he was obliged to attack the Prussian held town while Goya’s outnumbered Austro-Prussian army awaited reinforcements. It resulted in what appeared to be a scenario stacked in the favour of the French who began the game with a 4:3 advantage in numbers over the allies. This is how it went.

The view from left-centre of the allied line at the start of play.
It was nice to be able to field my entire Prussian cavalry
contingient in this game. The French are massing in the distance
to attack the allied right.
Grouchy's 2nd division had the honour of opening the batting
for the French. They advanced rapidly towards the town
with skirmishers deployed.
This is Ney's 3rd division who found themselves placed
squarely across Blucher's right flank due to some nifty map
manoeuvring by Tony.
Grouchy's lads get stuck in and troops on both sides begin to
fall. Once again the skirmishing proved fun and fairly effective.

Austrian reinforcements entered on the extreme allied left at
the same time as Nansouty arrived with the French heavy
cavalry division. The result was the audible whir of many
tiny sabres (and the rumble of dice).
Two or three turns in and the battle is in full swing. French
chasseurs have just seen off Goya's hussars in the foreground
while the attack on the town develops in the middle distance.
The obligatory black & white shot to see the fighting in
full Charles Grant mode.
There is metal carnage now around the town with toy soldiers
falling over in rapid succession. Napoleon is calling forward
his Guard infantry although they could do with dressing those
The 4th Swiss and the converged Grenadier battalion storm
the Prussian gun line and sweep away the gunners.
The Swiss and the Grenadiers now attack the town but are
brutally repulsed.
Through the smoke and haze Ney brings up more columns but
these too are dashed and broken by the defending Prussian
fusiliers. With time up I delcared a somewhat surprising win
for the allies.
An unusual scenario that I would never have dreamt up off the cuff but it led to an interesting game. My thanks to Tony and Goya for indulging me.


Rob said...

Nice one! I liked the map movement idea to set up the battle with formations arriving late, although 2 moves doesn't seem long to wait - but then again how many moves did the battle last? I'd love to know more about how the map system works - I assume it's open play in that everyone can see the map, but do they write orders and can they see what each enemy formation consists of? I notice the French battalions were full strength with skirmishers to their front so I assume you deploy whole battalions of lights to do this?

Stryker said...

Hi Rob - From experience if you leave it more than a move or two then the reinforcements never get into action. Even a one turn delay is enough to introduce uncertainty. This game ran to 6 turns I think and the most I've ever managed with these rules in a single day is 12 turns.

I may do a post on the campaign system if there is interest. Both players were playing blind and relying on me to relay intelligence. Each turn I emailed the players with their own individual map that only showed the locations of their own forces and any scouted enemy troops.

I have whole battalions of skirmishers who can either fight in close order or deploy in skirmish formation. Line battalions don't deploy skirmishers, this may not be historical but seems to work quite well.

Wellington Man said...

Another superb spectacle, Ian, not least because of the inclusion of Goya's and Tony's splendid reinforcements. I was also very pleased to see that it is possible to defeat Prussian hussars.

Yes please to more details about the campaign system!

Best regards

Stryker said...

Matt - technically they were Brunswick hussars masquerading as Prussian. Also I don't know if they show up in the photos but the Russian Grenadiers were drafted in on the French side (quelle surprise!) because I temporarily lost track of the 45th ligne in my efficient storage system!

MSFoy said...

Trahaison! Excellent day's fun - thanks again for laying everything on.

My magnificent snatching of defeat from the jaws of the other thing seems to have been partly explained by Grouchy's laboured attempt on the village and by the astonishing collapse of the French cavalry on my right. Speak not to me of Guard Lancers...

I suppose I should admit that Old Bluecher did a fine job with his Austrian chums, but once again the humble Silesian Landwehr showed some of their more illustrious colleagues how it should be done. You will gather that l'Empereur is looking for someone to blame.

Great day - especially the Alpine scenery at Glen Stryker and Napoleon's favourite lemon drizzle cake.

MSFoy said...

...sorry - they weren't Landwehr, we're they?...

Stryker said...

Tony - no they weren't, if they'd been Landwehr you would have been defeated by turn 3!

Lee said...

A most enjoyable read Ian, and the pictures are of course excellent. I must say I like your village base, it works very well.

Mark Dudley said...

This reminds me of the chapter two corps vs one in Donald Featherstones book 'Wargaming Campaigns'.

Stryker said...

Lee - the village base does blend in well with the terrain tiles and worked well in the game as a designated BUA. Only problem is the MDF base has warped slightly even though the buildings are firmly glued down!

Stryker said...

Mark - I don't have that book but this encounter certainly did have an old school feel about it.

lewisgunner said...

Lovely retro game. I do wonder if towns are a bit of a hard nut to crack unless the attacker has lots of units to spare for them?

Stryker said...

Hi Roy - We tried out the latest version of the rules with my amended melee section which defines the BUA's a bit better. However towns are still hard to crack but I was thinking this could be tweaked by scenario. For instance if you wanted a see-saw battle like Plancenoit then the defenders could automatically be ejected if they lose one round of melee? If it's more a case of providing a strongpoint to break up an attack (like Hougoumont) then the normal rules apply.

Stuart C said...

I see you used quite a few skirmishers this time - how did that work out?
In our ECW games we've been treating the normal BUAs as softcover and reserving hard cover for fortifications etc. It makes them more attackable but may not capture very well the more fortified central European towns or farm complexes

Stryker said...

Hi Stuart - good idea having different types of BUA's, I'll have to think about that. The skirmishers have worked well and do add a bit more fun however they may not be a good option for larger games and I know Roy's not to keen on them!

the Archduke said...

good to see the Swiss coming on in the same old style.........

Stryker said...

And being seen off in the same old style!!!