Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Prelude to Leipzig - an 1813 Scenario / AAR

My return to Napoleonic Gaming after a 16 year absence

A picture which sums up what I've missed
Let me take you on a journey.... (if your not that bothered about the day trip; the scenario and AAR are below). Its a trip many of you who will read this have been on, it must be a circular track because most of us seem to still be on the same train.

I was 12 or 13 having grown up with Airfix plastic figures and was looking for something else "more grown up", I was in my local library when I discovered the books of Grant et al and was avidly reading everything I could find about this new pastime "wargaming". One day in the process of taking a book called The Napoleonic Wargame out; the librarian, Shaun asked me if I was a gamer, we exchanged numbers and the rest is history. We had a great group of people Steven, Sean, Shaun, Simon, Pete, Karl, Konrad, Dave and Dave, we had some cracking games nearly always Napoleonics; initially in 1/72nd scale and then 15mm, culminating in a massive Leipzig game (1:33 fig scale). We drifted apart after a few years as people went to University and moved away but I still have many fond memories of those times, recently through the extensive reach of the internet I have got back in touch with some of the old gang, who knows we might meet up again. Bruce Quarries' rules were our weapon of choice which we had to heavily modify to make them more playable, but they were our rules.

This book has a lot to answer for !
I moved away too, coming to my adopted home of Yarkshire in the late 80's and joined the local club, although they were big on Napoleonics the rule set of choice was Gilders, I just never got to grips with them. The figure scale was wrong for a start 1:20 not 1:33 and I wasn't rebasing my stuff for anyone.

Italian Artillery
I found a set of computer moderated rules called "Hard Pounding" and for my little group of gamers they were perfect, we played quite a few games over the early 90's with these on the Atari ST. Then the rules migrated to the new fangled PC and never worked again. The writers of the program could never seem to get it right, whenever I spoke to them at shows they seemed to do two moves then stop whilst they tried to fix the code, a task which proved increasingly more difficult as they consumed more beer as the day progressed.

So that was it, my first love was over. My last game was about 16 years ago, a re fight of the Action on the Coa. Since that day my Napoleonics have sat in the display cabinets in my game room watching as new scales and period played out on the table in front of them. I haven't stop collecting and painting these figures, my collection has grown to in excess of 6,000 15mm figures. Over the years I have toyed with gaming with them again but always seemed to get sidetracked until last month when I decided enough was enough, dump the new fancy period and go back to my young love, but had she grown old and bitter over the years ?

French troops cautiously monitor the Russian hordes
I have looked at many sets of rules over the years, tried to write my own but never settled down on a set. Finally a few years ago I found General de Brigade and I thought at the time "hey, these could work" but they were the wrong scale, 1:20 again what is wrong with these rule writers ! So they went to the bottom of the pile. Then I started to play other periods notably AWI and SYW with the rules from the same stable of GdeB. I went back to GdeB, now familiar with most of the concepts. No way I was re basing 6,000 figures so I looked at converting the rules to 1:33. As the morale works on % casualties and the melee on loosing 1 in 4 etc I only needed to change the firing tables.

So there is the background to the game, anyone who wasn't on the nostalgia trip can come back in the room.

All my figures are based and then have a textured movement tray in which they are placed, this was essential with our old computer rules when quick identification was required for inputs etc, hence the unit labels, not everyones cup of tea but that's why they are there if you are wondering.

Scenario

The game is based on one I found on-line at Rafael Pardos "Wargaming with Napoleonic Miniatures" site HERE. The site has a great number of scenarios (all for the Lasalle game system) but there is plenty of detail to make the conversion to your set straight forward. The game on Rafael's site is designed as a solo scenario which I have changed to fit in with what I wanted. I choose the scenario as it had reasonably manageable forces which were fed into the game gradually, ideal when you've had a few years off the period.

After breaking a unit of French Line the Russian Uhlans are charged by French Chasseurs
The background of this fictitious game, which is set in October 1813 is as follows,

"Blucher Army of Silesia has crossed the Elbe and is advancing towards the Mulde River to join up with Bernadotte. Seeing an opportunity to catch the allies out Napoleon has moved northwards with several Corps. Their rapid advance caused the hasty retreat of Bluchers forces, in the confusion Osterman-Sackens' Russians have become isolated and are forced to march west passing along the front of the French 1V Corps, we join the action as they attempt to bypass the French."


The game is played on a 8 x 6 table, the above map is broken down into 2 ft squares to help with the laying of terrain. All the symbols should be obvious, the black rectangles are walled enclosures.

French OOB

C in C Betrand

Infantry Division (Morand)
1st Brigade (Belair) 4 btns of French Legere (all 24 figures, all Veteran)
2nd Brigade (Toussaint) 4 btns of French Line (all 24 figures all Line)
3rd Brigade (Hulot) 6 btns of French Line (all 24 figures, all Line)
1 x Foot Artillery Battery 8 pdrs (with Belair)
1 x Reserve Foot Battery 12 pdrs (with Hulot)

Cavalry Division (Roussel)
1st Light Cav Brigade (Dommanget) 1 x 16 Saxon Chevaux-leger, 2 x 16 Bavarian Chevaux-leger
2nd Light Cav Brigade (Lagrange) 1 x 16 Polish Uhlan, 2 x 16 French Chasseur a Cheval
1 x Horse Artillery Battery 6pdrs (with 1st Brigade)

To ease us into the first game all Cav is Line class and all officers are average. Some of the troops used are more to do with my collection than the historical orbats.

Provisional Croatian Regt (from my 1812 collection)
Russian OOB

C in C Osten-Sacken

10th Infantry Division (Lieven)
1st Brigade (Agatin) 4 units of Jagers (all 20 figs all classed as Line)
2nd Brigade (Sass) 6 units of Infantry (all 20 figs all classed 2nd Line)
1 x Light Positional Battery 6pdrs

27th Infantry Division (Neverovsky)
1st Brigade (Stawicki) 4 units of Jagers (all 20 figs all classed as Line)
2nd Brigade (Alexejev) 6 units of Jagers (all 20 figs all classed 2nd Line)
1 x Positional Battery 12pdrs

Cavalry Division (Vassilshikov)
1st Brigade (Rasachoff) 1 x 24 Uhlan and 2 x 16 Hussar (Line)
2nd Brigade (Uschakov) 2 x 16 Dragoon (Line)
3rd Brigade (Karpov) 2 x 12 Cossacks

The Grand Duchess Catherine Btn
Game Set Up

Both sides start with one brigade of Light Cavalry on table, for the French roll 1 d6, on a 1 or 2 entry point A, 3 or 4 entry point B, 5 entry point C and 6 roll again. For the Russians roll 1d6 on a 1,2 or 3 use the entry point D, 4, 5 or 6 use E.

On turn 1 randomly select one of the remaining units, French enter by Brigade, for the Russians once a Brigade is selected the remainder of the Division follows. Roll as above and determine the entry point.

The Brigade will enter the table in column on the road selected and must remain on the road for 1 turn. Guns are always at the rear of a Brigade column. Once the rear of the column has entered the table randomly select the next Brigade (unless you are Russian and the remainder of the Division is not on table).

I am a big fan of scenario randomness, so this game should never play the same way twice. The French have less troops but because they have smaller Brigades they should get on table quicker. The Russians in their larger Divisional columns should arrive slowly but in a big mass.


Objectives

The French are trying to block the exit of the Russian Troops from the table, the Russians are trying to exit stage left (leave the table on the left edge).

If more than 60 % of Russian Troops exit it is a Russian Victory.
Between 40 and 60% exit a draw
Less than 40 % exit a French Victory

I have not put a turn limit on the game as we have a permanent set up and I find you can normally agree a victor between the people I game with without having to resort to points etc.


How did we get on

Well it was certainly nice to be back in the Napoleonic chair again, we had a whole Sunday and an evening session set aside for this game, however we didn't need the whole of the Sunday for the first game.

Things started relatively calmly with our French Light Cavalry entering on point B whilst the Russian Cavalry came in on point E, they raced along the northern road to the town and set up camp, whilst the French harried and charged them on and off in a indecisive battle.

Saxon Light Cavalry
The first Russian Division came on at point D whilst the first French Brigade the Legere came on at point B. As the Russians slowly came on the table the Commander decided to march his Jager Battalions up the road adjacent to the river towards the northern Bridge. Fate determined that that was a mistake, just as the last of the 6 Russian Line Battlions entered the table, a French Line Brigade followed by the remaining French Cavalry came on at point C.

The Russian Line Collapses
As the Jagers marched north they left the southern bridge open and the Russian flank exposed. The French Legere were able to get over the bridge un opposed and smash into the Russians. The Green Coated Infantry was outnumbered and to refuse their right flank leaving a weak spot at the pivot. It was only a matter of time before that weak point broke. The hope was that more troops would arrive and quickly, with an Infantry Division and a Brigade of Dragoons sat on the side of the table there was a collective groan from the Russian Commanders as they drew the Cossack Brigade as their next reinforcements. When they got on the table the remaining Infantry Division was drawn but they marched onto the table into 1 routing and 2 retreating Russian Units rather than on the empty northern road so we called it as a French Victory at that point.


We all enjoyed our first foray in a while into Napoleonics so we reset and went again !

The rules seemed to work quite well, we were all familiar with the basics as I said above we are veterans of BGren and the 7 Years War version so there were no real surprises. The conversion of the tables seemed to work quite well, the Artillery seemed a bit light but that's something we can look at next time we play.


I think I will invest in the newer 2nd Edition of GdeB as looking at the on line play sheet for that version a lot of the things we questioned as we went along seem to have been solved in that version. So my old love wasn't that bad to me after all, with a busy schedule ahead it will slot nicely into our game rotation which seems to have us playing most things about twice a year.

Some game pics to finish off, Regards

Russian Lt Cavalry Advancing in Game 2
Russian Infantry in subtle mode, Game 2
French Infantry, waiting.
CHARGE !!!
Russian Infantry defending a village
Bavarian and Saxon Cavalry advance
Next up we will blow the dust off our AWI collection.