Thursday 26 June 2014

Another Tabletop Teaser: Reserve Demolition - Franco-Prussian War

Over 20 years ago when I had a proper job I worked in the same company as a chap called Clive. Neither of us knew the other was a war-game player or collector, but recently through the magic of the war-games blogosphere we 'bumped' into each other again. Anyway, to cut a long story short I invited Clive up for a game this week. As I'm currently in the mood to try out as many of the scenarios in Charles S Grant's Tabletop Teaser book I thought I'd set another one up. I'd originally planned to set it in the Crimea but at the last minute, due largely to having finally got enough French completed (but also because I couldn't find the box with the British in under my table), I decided to move it 16 years into the future and to a sunny Alsace during the early days of the Franco-Prussian War.

In this version of the classic scenario, the French were tasked with denying the bridge to the Prussians long enough to prepare it for demolition, withdraw across the river into Metzburg or Sedatz or some other fictitious (or not) fortress city where they could be bottled up and surrender ignominiously, and then blow the bridge.

The forces available were as follows.

French: CinC command 8 

On the south, i.e. wrong side of the river.....
Infantry brigade of 4 battalions, 1 gun and 1 mitrailleuse (command 8)
Infantry brigade of 5 battalions, 1 gun and 1 mitraileuse (command 9)
Reserve Cavalry division of 4 regiments (yes 4!) of cuirassiers and 1 horse battery (command 7)

On t'other side:
Infantry brigade of 4 battalions (including 2 of Guard) and a gun (command 8)
Light cavalry brigade of 1 regiment of Chasseurs d'Afrique, 2 of Chasseurs and a gun (command 7)
1 heavy gun (in the fortress)

The command levels were decided randomly so its a shame that the French cavalry ended up with poor commanders for both brigades, which was to prove decisive in the the game.

Prussians: CinC command 9 
Prussian infantry brigade of 6 battalions and 2 guns (Command 9)
Bavarian infantry brigade of 5 battalions and 2 guns (Command 7)
Prussian infantry brigade of 5 battalions and 2 guns (Command 8)
Prussian cavalry brigade of 1 regiment each of Hussars and Cuirassiers (command 8)
Bavarian cavalry brigade of 2 regiments of Cuirassiers and 1 horse gun (command 7)

The French had to hold the Prussians off long enough for their engineers to prepare the bridge for demolition. Once ready, they would have to wait for the order to set the fuses and blow the charges, at which point it'd be a race against time to get as many troops across the river before the bridge vanished in a cloud of dust and debris. The Prussian objective was to seize the bridge before the French could blow it or to prevent too many French from escaping by keeping them from making an organised withdrawal. All these points in time were dictated by the alarm on my phone and a few dice rolls. Tense stuff eh?

We threw for sides and Clive got the French. There were three roads onto the table that the Prussians could enter on. Two were on the short edge furthest from the bridge, the other was close to the top corner and much nearer to the bridge. Where and when (and which brigade) the Prussians would enter was to be decided for randomly.

 (Above, French dispositions on the south bank defending the bridge, while below, a close up of the Cuirassiers of the Reserve Cavalry division. Prussian entry points were off the top right hand/south east corner and from the north or south west, about six feet below the bottom of this picture)
The first couple of moves saw the Prussian cavalry and a brigade of infantry enter on the north western entry point while a brigade of Bavarian cuirassiers entered on the south western road. The French countered by moving their reserve cavalry division up past the village, which was put into a state of defence by a battalion of infantry. The remainder of the French deployed behind the village in case the Prussians made an entry from the south east, and on the ridge line and orchard west of the village.
 (Above, the French deploying to defend the village. Below, heavy artillery on one of the fortress's outer works covering the bridge)  
The Bavarian cuirassiers crossed the river by the bridge, formed up and charged the lead unit of French cuirassiers. The slightly smaller 'Irregular miniatures' figures struggled against the much more chunky 'Hero's of the Dark Age' models (no, seriously, the Bavarians lost the melee due to a very obvious lack of enthusiasm when it came to saving rolls and had to take a break test) and were thrown back, but the French were also shaken and chose to withdraw.
 (Above: Bavarian cuirassiers march onto the battlefield. Below: The French Cuirassiers thunder towards the Prussians and finally engage in a short sharp melee with the Bavarians)
Meanwhile the Prussians were steadily forming up and attempting to close with the French. The superior chassepots did severe damage to several battalions, breaking one and pinning another, but once the Prussian artillery got into play the damage was repaid with interest. A battalion of French Marine infantry were destroyed by a maelstrom of artillery fire and two battalions of zouaves were pinned or shaken on the ridge. Slowly the Prussians gained the upper hand and drove the exhausted Zouaves back to the shelter of the orchard and village.
 (Above, its those Gypsies again........ while below the Imperial Guard march across the bridge to lend support to the defence of the south bank)
Clive decided to commit the Guard to help support the troops across the river. They formed column and marched across, only for one battalion to blunder and head off to the east. More Prussians and Bavarians arrived on the western entry-points and when it became clear that none would be entering from the southern road, the Guard were quickly withdrawn back to the safety of the north bank.

 (Above, the French ready to try and and ultimately fail to throw the coming Prussian attack back. Below the Prussian cavalry manoeuvring into position after I remembered the small river was fordable!)

 (Above, the Prussian second wave attacks the French line, the first having been stopped in its tracks or repulsed. Below, the Bavarians deploy in preparation for their attack. Before anyone asks, the Bavarians shown are painted for the 1866 campaign in which they dispensed with the Raupenhelm and wore a soft peaked cap instead. My 'proper' FPW-uniformed Bavarians are not quite ready).
 At around this point I suddenly remembered that the stream in front of my Bavarian brigades was in fact easily crossable, so having got over my 'Burnside Antietam moment' I deployed as quickly as my unenthusiastic Bavarians would allow me. The opposing cuirassiers clashed again, and my second unit of Bavarian cuirassiers were forced back shaken. Thankfully the French were in no position to pursue so I was able to slowly deploy in the face of an increasing number of French infantry which had moved up from behind the village.
 (Above, the French light cavalry brigade that spent the entire battle with nowhere to go. Below, the Imperial Guard reformed after their brief road-trip across the bridge and back again).

 (Above, the French CinC ponders, head in hands, wondering what wine to have with 'le dejeauner', while below the Prussians succeed in their final assault to drive the French back, off the ridge and out of the orchard).
The Prussians finally got into position to assault the withdrawing French in the orchard which they managed, albeit not without losses. The French were ejected but fell back to the village. At about this time there was a massive explosion as the French engineers blew the bridge, trapping the remaining French on the wrong side of the river. Clive tried to launch his cuirassiers in a final series of charges to buy some time for his infantry to retire but sadly, and luckily for the cuirassiers, they failed to move largely due to their poor commander.
 (Above, as the long shadows cast by the setting sun bring the day to a close, Prussian wounded being taken to the rear by wheelbarrow, while below the retreating French reach the village to find the bridge already blown).

So honours were about even. We had each had a brigade broken. I had failed to prevent the demolition of the bridge but the majority of the French army were trapped on the south (i.e. wrong) side of the river. No doubt they would be able to extricate a few troops from the eastern edge of the table so a draw with both sides able to claim a moral victory. I enjoyed the game and I hope Clive did too and wasn't put off BP forever. A good day spent playing with my toys.

And so, to the fading and haunting sounds of violins and the clash and gentle tapping of tambourines, the battle ends......

More photos can be found on Clive's own blog 'Vintage Wargaming'; I think the title has more to do with the age of the figures rather than of the players! Clive, we can try the promised Crimean game next time assuming I can find the British!

Sunday 22 June 2014

Flames of War World War 1? London Bus found on the Moon! Shock! Horror! Vicar Expose!

I saw on TMP and at the back of my latest edition of Flames of War Illustrated, er, sorry Wargames Illustrated that we are to be blessed by the arrival of a new set of rules and presumably models covering the Great War. I am still recoiling in shock and horror at the thought of reading the Flames of War version of the First World War.  Legions of massed panzers tearing through the Allied lines, poor Tommy seriously outclassed by the genius Hun, no sign of the troops from across the British Empire, French, Russians, Belgians, Austrians or maybe a disproportionate and perhaps over-egged representation of the Americans (yes, their numbers made all the difference in the end, but there were other factors too).

Anyway, having nothing much else to do at 5 a.m. today I then delved deeper and on the Battlefront Miniatures website is a piece heralding the arrival of this new range, together with the now very familiar army lists (and yes Andy, I wholly agree with your article in MW this month). The blurb puts the players on opposite sides as "Blitz's Battlegroup vs Mitchell's Marauders" (OMG!), during the Battle of Villers Bretonneux, one of the very few tank v tank actions of the war. Lt. Blitz did command one of the A7Vs and Lieutenant Mitchell commanded the British MkIV tank platoon in the real battle so I guess thats  +1 for historical accuracy?

The German player can have a platoon of A7V tanks supported by an other of captured British MkIVs. To quote the blurb about the A7V:

"The panzer is a new and unstoppable weapon. Our A7V is more powerful, faster, and better armoured than Tommy’s tanks. These steel beasts will break the British frontline, opening the way to victory." 

 "The cutting edge of your attack is the imposing A7V panzer and Stoss (shock) platoons. This tank is superior to British tanks in practically every way. Mass them against a weak point in the enemy line and use its overwhelming firepower to tear open a gap in Tommy’s trenches."

Bollocks. OK, the German tanks did see very limited success on one or two occasions but they were not new (er, it was us Brits who invented and had considerable success with tanks), and were not unstoppable (see the full account of Battle of Villers Bretonneux)

They broke down or were unable to actually get into combat so much that they were not thought to be a very successful piece of kit, they were perhaps more powerful in terms of guns and machine guns stuffed into every corner of the lumbering beast (but its not what you have but what you do with it that matters), their road speed was marginally faster than that of a British Whippet tank and they were faster than the MkIV  but their cross country performance was very poor by comparison. The driver had a 10m blind spot to his front for heaven's sake! Better armoured? Certainly, and losses to direct enemy action were few compared to those that broke  down or got stuck, but they could still be knocked out. So hardly superior to British tanks in every way and indeed the Germans used about 50 captured British tanks with far more success. Only 20 or so A7Vs were actually constructed.

I'm sure someone can pick holes in my argument (not a challenge) but not I hope the underlying sentiment in response to the "oh no! its the centenary of the start of dubya dubya one so lets cash in on it somehow and give it our own particular ahistorical twist!!!!" Of course, there's nothing necessarily wrong with gaming the Great War per se (and I have) but please, not the FoW way. The models of the tanks do however look very nice and you wouldn't need very many of them, for the Germans anyway.  Armoured cars, FT17s and other nationalities and theatres of war on the way by any chance....? Time for coffee and more mid-altering drugs.......

Friday 20 June 2014

SEVEN YEARS WAR: Bridgehead Breakout Tabletop Teaser after action report.

As planned Paul came up today (or yesterday by the time I post this) for our monthly game. As outlined in my last post we were going to try No 21 from Charles S Grant's Tabletop Teaser book. The objectives and forces involved are detailed in the earlier post but essentially the Prussians had established a small bridgehead across an impassable river facing a slightly smaller Russian force tasked with preventing them from getting enough troops over the river to force the Russians to retire. There were only two bridges across the very wide river so the Prussian's had quite a job on their hands to ensure that they would be able to reinforce the brigade already across the river before the Russians descended upon them. That was the theory at least.

As noted last time, the command levels for all the generals were to be decided randomly. Randomly is not quite the correct term as the Prussian generals were historically much better than their Russian counterparts so they had a bit of an advantage when it came to chucking dice. As it transpired, the Prussian heavy cavalry brigade commander was a 9 and the remainder of the Prussian commanders, including the CinC, were 8's. Pretty good given that much of the Prussian army were classed as 'reliable' with some as 'superbly drilled' so getting them to move wouldn't be too difficult. The Russians by comparison  were rather pedestrian. I always have at least one 6 and one level 7 commanders in the Russian army, but in the game their line up was even worse than that! Two of their brigadiers ended up being classed as 'idiot commanders', rated 6, two others (including the CinC) were poor, rated 7, and the remaining two were rated 8. Paul got to play with the Prussians and I had the Russians. I wasn't phased too much by my poor commanders as I had a plan, based on what I thought the Prussians would do. Wrong!

At the start of the game the Prussian advance guard advanced slightly to make room for the expected reinforcements and Hussars of HR5 von Reusch swept out onto their left flank, facing the Russian Serbski Hussars and a band of Cossacks. Paul then managed to throw some annoyingly low command dice and in the blink of an eye both bridges were full of Prussian infantry, with the lead elements already deploying into line on the Russian side of the river.

I had planned to advance my entire line and try and crush the Prussians before they could establish themselves in sufficient strength  to cause me any grief. Sadly, my nitwit generals failed all their command throws, with the exception of the Hussars out on the right wing. They successfully charged the Prussian Hussars but, unsupported as the Cossacks had failed to move up with them, the melee was inconclusive and both sides had to withdraw, both somewhat battered.

(Above, the immobile Russian left wing. Below, Prussian queuing to cross the river)

(Above: Russian Serbski Hussar regiment. Below the Prussian HR No 5)

Meanwhile, the Prussians were advancing into my 'trap' in the centre (ha! not really); well they were advancing and after more troops had deployed over the river Paul moved them up into close range and let rip with a volley or two. The three lead Prussian battalions were IR13 Itzenplitz, IR 19 Markgraf Karl and the Guard Grenadiers of IR 6. I allow the Prussians the advantage of platoon fire so with the extra D6 for first fire they had 5D6 in their first volley. The Russians on the other hand were not so good at shooting but were very good at soaking up damage. I don't allow them first fire or platoon firing so they were at an immediate disadvantage, but being classed as 'Valiant' and/or 'Stubborn' they were able to stand up to the Prussians, for a while at least. One battalion of the 1st Grenadier regiment was shaken and forced to retire and a battalion of the Moskovski regiment was broken. They were replaced in the line by a combined Grenadier battalion and regiment of dismounted Dragoons.

(Above, the Russian heavy cavalry wait while below, the Prussian Cuirassiers and Dragoons cross the river)

The Prussians took some damage and were also hit quite hard by the Russian artillery. IR 19 was broken. After holding the Russians at bay for several moves, all the while soaking up a tremendous amount of fire, the gallant Grenadiers of IR6 finally broke. This meant that the remaining battalion from that brigade, IR13,  had to withdraw.

On the Russian left the brigade positioned there steadfastly refused to advance, thus loosing the opportunity to flank the main Prussian line. We reckoned that they were too scared of advancing into range of the Prussian artillery positioned over the river.
(Above, the Prussian right with the Grenadiers of IR6 just before they broke, while below HR7 Malachovski cross the river.)
While all this was going on, the rest of the Prussian infantry had crossed the river and deployed facing the Russian centre. The Grenadiers of III/15 covered the Prussian left while the remaining three battalions of that brigade advanced to fill the gap left by the spent advance guard brigade. The Prussian heavy cavalry was also across the river and deploying on the Prussian left. In a series of fierce charge and counter charges my Hussars were driven back and retreated off the table shaken. My cavalry brigadier ordered a 'follow me' command to the Lifeguard Cuirassiers and crunched into the Prussian von Ruesch Hussars who were predictably destroyed. One of the supporting regiments of Cuirassiers had to withdraw but so did my shaken Cuirassiers. My other cuirassier regiment (Prince Fedorovich) charged the front of IR18 Prinz von Preussen and after surviving the closing fire crashed home and thanks to some great dice throwing from me and some dreadful saves from Paul the infantry were scattered. My Cuirassiers followed up with a sweeping advance into the flank of the Guard Grenadiers of III/15 but although the Grenadiers were shaken, so were my Cuirassiers. The Grenadiers just shrugged off the attack, so I withdrew my shaken cavalry while I had the chance. Once recovered the heroic Grenadiers assaulted the village from where Russian Pandours had been taking annoying (i.e. from my perspective wholly ineffective!) potshots at anyone who came in range. No surprise but the Grenadiers drove the Pandours out easily.

Back in the centre, the Prussians were starting to suffer, especially at the hands of the Russian heavy artillery on the hill. The Frei Battalion von Mayr and then the orange-faced and underwear-clad fusiliers of IR49 Sers were  broken, forcing my favourite unit (nothing to do with their pink facings and small clothes) IR 40 von Kraytzen to withdraw. The Russian left-hand brigade finally moved forward and helped in the driving the Prussians back, despite offering a tempting target for the Prussian artillery who finally after waiting for the Russians to get in range, got to fire their cannon at the enemy! Paul tried to get his Hussars of HR7 Malachowski out of the bridgehead and onto the Russian flank but there wasn't enough space so they had to pull back. The Croats of von Kleist's Freikorps had been hiding in the wood for the entire battle and stayed there right to the end, trading a few shots with the Russian infantry line, but to no effect.

Meanwhile on the Russian right it was all going T**s Up! My dismounted Dragoons were totally outclassed  by the Prussian Guard of IR I/15 and destroyed and the surviving elements of the
brigade, the Apcheronski regiment, had to retire. The result was a massive gap. All I could do was try and plug it with what was left of my heavy cavalry. The Kargopolski Horse Grenadiers charged the Prussian line but this time the effects of the closing fire and subsequent melee was enough to break them. My already shaken Lifeguard Cuirassier regiment were destroyed by Prussian 12th von Kayau Cuirassiers who then followed up their victory by hitting the retiring Apcheronksi regiment in the flank. They too not surprisingly were ridden over and destroyed. With two out of three of its regiments destroyed my heavy cavalry brigade was deemed spent, the surviving regiment, the Prince Fedorovich Cuirassiers, having to retire. Meanwhile, the Cossacks had been driven from the field by the Prinz von Preusen Cuirassier regiment. As a result I had lost over half of my brigades so under the rules I had lost the game. I had lost the game by any interpretation anyway as the Prussians were in a perfect position to roll me up from the flank. My artillery battery was in danger of being overrun by Cuirassiers, I had no cavalry left, and although the Prussians on my left and in the centre had been driven off, those on my right were hardly touched and in a position to give me a good old-fashioned stomping! A hard won Prussian victory was agreed. Actually, had the Prussians lost their surviving Hussar regiment, and therefore their third brigade, before I lost the Cossacks in my third brigade then the tables would have been turned so it was actually a very close game indeed.


This teaser again provided a great challenge for both sides and a very enjoyable game it was too. Its interesting to think that even though the scenario was written maybe thirty-odd (or thereabouts!)  years ago, it has survived the test of time and makes for a cracking game using 21st C rules such as Black Powder. And if there's one thing to say about the rules, like 'em or hate 'em, this was a big game with lots of toys on the table, and we played in a very civilised way between about 10:45 and 15:30 including a lunch break and numerous cups of tea and illegal chocolate cookies, and got a result without feeling rushed in any way. And my back, so far at least, appears to have survived the experience!

Next week its back to the Crimea.

Now I just need the rest of the fortress!

I've just finished my resin 28mm Vauban-style ravelin courtesy of Magister Militum. Despite soaking it in the bath in warm soapy water for several hours and giving it  a good scrub the primer still didn't take until the above cleansing process had been repeated, this time with a liberal application of Cif (Jif to those of us of an older pre-EU generation!).

No worry really although I'm not sure I'm 100% happy with the end result. I have a couple of lengths of wall and a bastion to do so perhaps when they're all finished and on the table suitably populated with artillery and troops I will be happier.  Exactly what I will use it for remains to be seen as I don't have anything to represent the glacis and suchlike. Perhaps it'll be best used in the 19thC where the absence of a glacis and outer works can be put down to neglect and budget cuts! It actually looks better with more modern artillery anyway.

The trouble is that this piece has distracted me from finishing off basing my Franco-Prussian French (well, some of them at least) and some Bavarians I picked up off eBay, although I did get the remaining French artillery done. Some progress too on the limbers and some more command bases.

Monday 16 June 2014

SEVEN YEARS WAR: Another tabletop teaser. Bridgehead Breakout: The Prologue

Paul is coming up this week for our monthly game so I thought that following on from last week's very challenging Seven Years War game with John the Red we could try another of Charles Grant's tabletop teasers, this time number 21: Bridgehead Breakout. I've got so absorbed in my 19th C collections over recent months that I forgot how much I've neglected my favourite period and oldest collection. Perhaps getting them on the table a few times will motivate me to finish the few odds and ends I have left to do. The trouble is none of them are vital to a game as I have more than enough, as readers will be well aware. Anyway, here we go.

The terrain is more or less as described in the original scenario but I made changes to the orders of battle to make the most of what troops I had available and the niceties or is that unforgiving nature of Black Powder, which we shall be using, together with relevant additions from my 'house rules' and Last Argument of Kings (LAoK). There do seem to be quite a lot of troops but the regiments are big and the rules can be quite unforgiving so I'm not unduly worried about cluttering the battlefield.

The Russians (defending): objective to drive the Prussian back over the river.
Three brigades of infantry each of three battalions plus a light gun to represent regimental pieces. (one brigade is exclusively Grenadiers, one is all line infantry and the third is made up of two line battalions and one dismounted Dragoon regiment, the latter because I rather like them);
One brigade of heavy cavalry (two regiments of Cuirassiers and one of Horse Grenadiers);
One regiment of Hussars and half a regiment of Cossacks;
One unit of Pandour light infantry;
Three heavy guns including one howitzer.

The command levels of the CinC and the brigadiers will be decided randomly at the start of the game based on the guidance suggested in LAoK.

The Prussians (attacking): objective to expand the bridgehead to the hill line to the east.
In the bridgehead itself is one brigade of three infantry battalions (one Grenadier and two line).
One regiment of Hussars
One unit of light infantry.
Two light guns.

Across the river waiting to cross are two more brigades of infantry, one of four battalions (one Grenadier battalion, a Guard battalion and two line battalions) and the other of three battalions (two Fusilier battalions and a Friekorps battalion);
One heavy cavalry brigade of two Cuirassier and one Dragoon regiments;
One regiment of Hussars;
Two medium guns.

Prussian command ratings will also be decided randomly as above.

Unit sizes are my usual 36 for infantry, 12 for light infantry (small units), 24 for the Russian heavy cavalry, 30 for the Prussian Cuirassiers and 12 for the Cossacks (a small unit). My Prussian Hussars are 36 figures strong at full strength but I will field both with 24 figures.

The river is 12" wide and is impassable except over the bridges, which must be crossed in march column which would slow the Prussian crossing. The means that if a unit in column is on the west bank it will take 1 'move' to cross and another to deploy at the other end of the crossing if infantry. No interpenetration will be allowed on the bridge, otherwise normal rules apply.

Would the Russians attack before the numerically superior Prussians were all across the river, or would they wait for the Prussian attack and hope to hold it off until nightfall? The Russians are very tough and good in defence but can't match the firepower of the better Prussian battalions (i.e. all except the Fusiliers and Freikorps). Prussian Cuirassiers are superior to their poorly-mounted Russian counterparts. All I have to do now is set up the table and do the army rosta for each side before Thursday.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Seven Years War: River Crossing

John Mc came up last night for a game so I decided to set up a SYW game based on the popular Charles Grant scenario. The Prussians were tasked with crossing the river in sufficient strength to drive off the Russians, while the Russians' objective was simply to prevent the Prussians from gaining a decent foothold on the opposite river bank. Easy peasy! Not.

The Russians had one brigade on the table with two others due to arrive at some point during the evening from pre-designated entry points. The Prussians had three units already over the river. The rest would arrive on table and begin the task of getting across the river by using local boats etc. As we were using Black Powder I decided that it would take three 'turns' to cross; one to embark (from march column), one to cross the river and another to disembark and deploy.

Unit sizes were: Infantry btns 36, light infantry 12, Hussars 12, Prussian Cuirassiers 30, Russian Horse grenadiers/Cuirassiers 24. Nice and big and cumbersome!!! I used the troop characteristics as outlined in Last Argument of Kings, slightly tinkered with, as well as a couple of 'house rules', most of which we forgot to apply!

The forces were as follows:

Russians: CinC 8

Brigade: Command 9 (on table)
1 Grenadier btn
1 Line btn
1 unit of Pandours
1 Horse Grenadier rgt
1 Hussar rgt.
1 medium gun.

Brigade: Command 8
1 Grenadier btn
1 Line btn
1 unit Pandours
1 Hussar rgt
1 medium gun

Brigade: Command 7
2 Line btns
1 Cuirassier rgt
1 heavy howitzer

Prussians: CinC 8

Infantry brigade 1: Command 8 (2 btns plus Croats across the river)
1 Grenadier btn
2 Line btns.
1 Freikorps Light Infantry (Croats)
1 medium gun

Infantry brigade: Comand 8
1 Grenadier btn
2 Fusilier btns
1 medium gun

Cavalry brigade: Command 8
2 Cuirassier rgts

Infantry bde: Command 8
2 Line btns
1 Freikorps btn
1 medium gun

We diced for sides and John got the Russians and the first move. I had two battalions  and the freikorps Croat light infantry holding the village. Not wanting to sacrifice firepower and mobility I decided not to occupy the buildings. The Croats deployed into the cornfield. I failed to get my remaining unit from this brigade across the river but the second brigade and the Cuirassiers gradually arrived on the riverbank.

The Russians were slow to deploy and engage the troops defending the village but my attempts to get more troops across the river were foiled by poor dice scores. I did eventually get another infantry battalion and my cuirassier brigade across, but not before the first lot of Russian reinforcements had arrived.  There was now a nice ring of Russians surrounding the beleaguered Prussian troops.

 (Above and below, the Russians advance towards the Prussian bridgehead)

 (Above: The Russian CinC looks on from afar - OMG a telegraph pole in the distance!!!; as below, the Prussians await their turn to cross the river)

 (Above, the Russians STILL advancing, very slowly, towards the Prussian in the village and below, finally start to deploy)

 (Above, the first of the Russian reinforcements while below the Prussian battalion on their right delivering its utterly forgetful and hopelessly ineffective volley!) 
 Had I been the Russians I might have been more aggressive, but my aggression was to prove my undoing almost at once. My right flank infantry battalion boldly advanced to within range of the Russians and let go with their first volley, and only scored 1 hit which was promptly saved! Grrrr. Next turn the return fire from the undamaged Russians supported by a gun resulted in my unit becoming shaken and after taking the break test for excess casualties it simply ran away!  On my left the infantry there had advanced in the same manner as their now dead and fleeing compatriots and had halted the Russian advance in their tracks! The Russian infantry there were eventually broken thanks to a combination of close-range musketry and artillery fire from over the river.

In the centre the Prussian Croats were skirmishing with the Russian Croats (Pandours). The latter were not very enthusiastic, even less so than mine, and one unit broke. The Russian hussars spent the battle trying to find a safe place from which to harry my flanks or drive off the Croats but never quite managed to get into either. Wise hussars. I have a 'house rule' that doesn't allow Russian Hussars to charge heavier cavalry so their use on the battlefield was limited.

Another unit of Prussians was being ferried over the river but with one battalion destroyed and another disordered and exposed to lots of Russian artillery and musketry I needed to buy some time. I launched my Prussian, ok my Cuirassiers against the unbroken Russian line. The first regiment didn't reach as it ran out of steam due to a poor command score. The second thundered into the Russian Grenadier battalion that had seen off my infantry earlier in the battle. Closing fire hurt but didn't stop the Prussians  but in the melee the honours went to the Russians. I lost the melee and threw 3 on 2D6 and promptly broke. The supporting regiment held but was then shaken by enemy fire and had to withdraw. That saw the end of the Prussian Cuirassier brigade and my aggressive phase!
 (Above, the Prussian Cuirassiers forming up and below, their fateful charge!)

 (Above: The Prussians charge home but are swiftly and bloodily repulsed. Below: a panorama of the battlefield

 (Above, the last brigade of Russian reinforcements arrive while below, the Russian Horse Grenadiers crash into the Prussian IR Prinz von Preussen)

A few shots of the collection:

Finally, Russian Pandours making a well ordered retreat!

More Russians now appeared on the Prussian right but moved very slowly (thankfully). I had managed to get another unit over the river to support my left flank and another to fill the gap left by the Cuirassiers. In the final move the Russian Horse Grenadiers charged the Prussian left-hand infantry battalion which had already been softened up in their earlier fire-fight with the Russian infantry. The Horse Grenadiers survived the closing fire (!!!!), crunched into them and swept them away. In the sweeping advance phase the Russian horsemen smashed into the supporting unit, who were forced to retire.

At this point we called it a night. I had lost two brigades broken and my last brigade was struggling to get across the river so conceded defeat. John very graciously declared it a draw as he had failed o throw me back over the river but without reinforcements the Prussian tenure of the Russian side of the river was going to be a short one.

A good game with some very difficult tactical problems for both sides.

Paul's coming up next week so I'm looking forward to that immensely. Not sure what to play yet but plenty of time and choice.