Saturday 31 December 2016

Another Russian victory and other stuff.

We had neighbours round for drinks and nibbles on Wednesday early evening. Peter was here with his wife and I confirmed with him that we'd have a game the following day (on Thursday) he walked down the hill for the game after lunch. I rearranged the terrain from last week's game and we had another go at my French v Russians during the campaign in Switzerland in 1799.

It was a similar scenario to the last game, with the Russians needing to force the French off the table and control the majority of the river crossings. As before there were more French than Russians. I am a little tired with the constant series of rolls and re-rolls that BPs characteristics give troops. Ok, I could do away with these features of the rules altogether but they do add a certain 'something' to the games and perhaps go some way to representing troops' performance more appropriately for any given scenario. Anyway, I decided to do away with as many extra rules as I could so out went the 'Stubborn' and 'Crack' rules. Instead troops normally with these attributes were given an extra point of stamina. This might seem too much but having successive and never ending re-rolls can be a little 'difficult' and more than a little frustrating for the opposition, whereas giving a unit an extra stamina point means that their potential demise is so much more finite.   So, as I allow all my Russians to be 'Stubborn' normally, their stamina was raised by one point from three to four in the case of line infantry and from four to five for grenadiers. Ouch! you may think but actually it worked really well as we didn't need to remember to do loads of re-rolls and several Russian battalions did creep towards and exceed their stamina levels necessitating a break test. Thankfully, nobody broke or was forced to retreat but it could have been so very different, so I'm quite happy to roll this idea out to future FRW battles.

Back to the battle,  Peter made a fundamental mistake and put his worst troops in a position of great importance, i.e. his centre, and then proceeded to order them advance towards the Russians. As a consequence I was able to steam-roller six battalions of Russian musketeers right over them, supported by my artillery and some Cossacks. He also didn't use his superior artillery to its greatest potential which was also helped by a couple of moves where Demi-brigades blundered across the guns' front, masking them, or retreating units similarly got in the way. Such are the fortunes of war......

The Russian right flank tied up Peter's best troops (converged grenadiers) as he pushed them into a village. There they were  held in place by a small brigade of grenadiers and jäger. The Russians then successfully stormed the village and moved on to try and turn the French flank.

The Russian left (another small brigade of grenadiers and jäger supported by two regiments of Austrian chevaux-legers) were able to hold up and suitably be a pain in the proverbial arse in the face of a superior mixed force of French infantry, artillery and cavalry. One regiment of Austrian cavalry got stuck on the bridge for about half of the game after driving off a force of French skirmishers, but the other managed to see off two weak units of French chasseurs a cheval, while the grenadiers and jager held then drove back the Legion Helvetique and a battalion of French infantry.

By this time several Russian battalions were shaken or approaching shaken but none had broken. The change to the stats certainly made it a little more tense for Russians as the odd failed saves had slowly mounted up, whereas under the previous system battered units might still have few or no casualties thanks to the re-roll. However, the French had collapsed in the centre and had lost six or seven battalions broken and others shaken and withdrawing. With half his army gone Peter had to concede defeat.

Just for once I had a plan, and just for once I was able to execute it successfully and clinically and win a game for a change. It wasn't a comfortable feeling as my guest's army was battered to pieces but as Hannibal Smith in the A Team used to say, "I like it when a plan comes together!"

I took advantage of Foundry's Christmas sale and bought some of their early Napoleonic Saxons. Now I don't actually want to do them as Saxons, but thought they might just about do for Hanoverians or Hessians for the Flanders campaign. That of course will necessitate buying and painting a shed load of Austrians! Gulp! I have some lovely Trent Austrians but fancy a couple of regiments of Elite miniatures figures as well.

Finally, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that 2017 brings you health, wealth and happiness, as well as all that you might wish for (unless it happens to be a new army or two that paints and bases themselves, because I want that!).

No photos this time as I had tidied up my camera and could locate it in time for the game. 

Wednesday 21 December 2016

The final game before Christmas and at last a Russian victory!!! Hurrah!

As mentioned in my post earlier this week, Paul came up today for a game. I'd decided to re-set the table and tinker with the orders of battle slightly and have another attempt with my French Revolutionary War French and Russians stomping around the Alps, and to use the terrain before I have to find somewhere to put it! The only changes to the Russian orbat was the merger of two small brigades into a larger and hopefully more robust one. The French were given their foot artillery battery. I also made the river easier to cross in certain points, it still taking a whole move to get from one bank to the other. The little 'hills' were also classed as rough ground as they were representing loose scree-covered slopes. Anyway, to battle.

Paul deployed the French with two brigades on the right, the cavalry in the centre with another brigade, and the last brigade on his left. The horse artillery were deployed en-masse in the centre while the foot battery was split between the two wings. I had a fiendish plan and deployed my Cossacks and Austrian cavalry to the left of the 'Devil's Bridge'. My main infantry brigade and lone artillery battery were deployed in the centre, my intention being to push the infantry across the river as quickly as possible supported by the guns. Both (small) brigades of converged grenadiers and jager were on my right, ready to swoop over the river, occupy the village and turn Paul's flank. A great plan. Essentially the same plan that had gone wonderfully t*ts up on the last two attempts!

 The Cossacks rush forward to secure the village area on the extreme left flank. Paul tried to quickly shift the troops on his right back to the centre but one brigade refused to move for several moves and became embroiled in a fire fight with the Cossacks.
 The Russians massed in the centre ready to assault across the river. Well they would if were not for some poor command rolls and frequent hits causing disorder!
 The Austrian cavalry brigade.
 A large gap in the French centre. Paul was rushing a brigade from the right to plug the gap.
 While French infantry rush from the flank to bolster the centre, the French combined grenadiers advance to cover the movement.
 On the French left infantry advance towards the village which had been quickly occupied by a battalion of Russian jager. Behind the eager were four battalions of Russian grenadiers.
 The grenadiers charged into the French ranks and broke them. The French supports were also swept away in the rout.
 In the centre the Russian jager were fighting a loosing battle against two battalions of French light infantry.  The French were eventually driven away by advancing Russian columns but not before the jager battalion was destroyed.
 I finally got the Austrian cavalry to move using a 'follow me' order. They then failed every subsequent order and remained on the bridge until the end of the game.
 In the centre the Russians had crossed the river in force, and although they were taking casualties from the french horse artillery battery managed to drive off both French grenadier battalions, thanks to an unusual and unfortunate run of dreadful dice score that plagued Paul for the entire game.
 French foot artillery doing their best to stem the Russian advance.
 Russian combined grenadiers advancing on the right. They were successful in driving off five french battalions facing them after quite a tough fight, although it must be said that one of the more resilient demi-brigades was classed as 'newly raised'. 
 In the centre the French horse artillery continued to pound the slowly advancing Russians, but without much success.
 The Russian centre.
 I had moved my Cossacks to screen the Austrian cavalry from French artillery fire while they made their way over the bridge, which I am sure they would appreciated for such a noble cause. I had to move my C-in C to quickly rally them having overlooked the fact that this would save the Cossacks from running away but would also take him away from the centre where he had been stiring his troops on with a couple of 'follow me' orders and furious bayonet charges.
 Cossack skirmishers
 The French commander of the right wing, urging his men on!
The Helvetic Legion making the move from the right to the centre between the ranks of their cavalry. They were too late sadly as the left had collapsed and the centre was on the verge of caving in.

At that point Paul said that he was going to retreat and concede defeat. The French had taken quite a battering, as had the Russians, but I am glad to say that, third time lucky, I was pleased with the Russian performance, especially as they were outnumbered 2:1 in artillery and 3:2 in foot. I might however have made them a little too tough and am going to revisit the stats for both sides and try and adjust them rather than having lots of little 'special' rules, e.g. I make the Russians 'Stubborn' but a re-roll every time they are shot at can be frustrating and perhaps a little too much. Instead I shall give them an extra stamina point.

Anyway, I hope Paul enjoyed the game even if he did get hammered. I did as its a while since I won a game, not that winning bothers me much.....honest. No more games now till after Christmas when I am hoping to set something up on 29 December.

Merry Christmas to you all and I hope 2017 brings us all a wonderful year of enjoying our fantastic hobby. 

Monday 19 December 2016


I have Paul coming up tomorrow for a game. We had planned to do a 15mm refight of Minden using Paul's extensive collection but that would have meant an early start to allow for setting up and a long day for both of us as nobody else from my circle of gaming friends was available.

So complicated are my friends' lives, most of whom are retired gentlemen of leisure (like what I am), that I've had to draw up a matrix to depict each person's preferred gaming days and those days that are committed to things like practical grand-parenting, study and even work! There's a group that can only do the beginning of the week, and another that prefer the end of the week, with the odd one who can do any day, in theory. Then there's also the very minor issue of personalities, i.e. the potential for clashes of said personalities and possibly an unsatisfying outcome (for me at least as the host!). Not a big deal at all really, but one to be aware of. It goes further as different playing styles can also be a bit of a headache. I'm quite an aggressive player on the table, unless I have cavalry in which case I'm an impossible ditherer. Some people might be called overly cautious, but it can be frustrating for the other players who are maybe (or not) more (or less) cerebral, and also for followers of the 'fix bayonets and charge' school of wargaming.

Now, the above is merely me observing as the attentive host. I love (in a man way) all my wargaming mates, some of whom I've battled against since my late teens which is very long time ago indeed, I really enjoy hosting a game nearly every week and it gives me great pleasure when those playing enjoy their day even if they were attempting a tough scenario and their army was hammered. I always feel deflated if there's even a hint that the day wasn't as enjoyable as I had planned or hoped for one or more of the players. I put a lot of effort into each game and get much pleasure from the preparation and the playing but as much from knowing that I've  done my best to ensure my mates have had a good day out.

I am of course very fortunate to have a bespoke war-games room and a bigger collection of figures and armies than I could ever have imagined owning in my youth. What would happen if I ever managed to demolish the lead mountain I do not know as I would run out of space! However, above all things, what makes me even MORE fortunate is to have such a wide circle of great like-minded friends who are willing and able to make the journey to my place on almost a weekly basis  so we can all have an enjoyable day talking and playing wargaming and pushing my little men around the table for a few hours. Long may it continue through 2017 and beyond.

Friday 16 December 2016

Suvarov's Alpine debacle: French Revolutionary War game 2

I managed a second game this week as Robbie came up on Thursday to play another French Revolutionary War battle set during Suvarov's campaign in Switzerland in 1799. The Russian army was exactly that which failed against Conrad earlier in the week but I made changes to the French by removing one battery of artillery and downgrading about a third of their infantry to 'newly raised', i.e. cannon fodder. I changed the terrain a little and added a couple more bridges over the river. We also fought from the long table edges rather than down the table's length as last time. The river was deemed to be crossable if a unit attempting to do so scored a 6 on 1D6.

 Robbie deployed the French to counter every possible entry point and direction of attack from the Russians. This meant he was spread quite thin in places. My troops would arrive randomly over the course of the first three turns, and in the wrong place as it turned out!
 The Polish Legion held the Devil's Bridge but were very quickly attacked by Russian grenadiers. The leading grenadier battalion was broken but the second swept forward and destroyed the Poles. This battalion of grenadiers then charged over the bridge, down the mountain track and charged the Helvetic Legion. The latter were shaken and pushed back in disarray.
 Robbie's conscripts occupying the centre of his line.
 The Helvetic Legion and a French light infantry battalion before the former were driven off by the over enthusiastic Russian grenadiers!
 French horse artillery in the centre held me up and did a little damage to my troops over the river, but not much, mainly causing them to become disordered.
 The Polish Legion just before they ran away.
 My grenadiers just after they'd carried out their wild charge and seen off the Helvetic Legion that can be seen in the background.
 On my left, a brigade of Russians attempted to come to grips with the French facing them. Both musketeer battalions were halted and shaken, but the Moscow Grenadiers were already locked in combat on the bridge fighting a battalion of French combined grenadiers. After about four rounds of combat and with both its supporting units in retreat my grenadiers broke. The entire left flank was now held by a lone unit of jager which would soon be forced to withdraw as well.
 The Austrian chevau-leger arrived and sped straight up the mountain road.....
 They crossed the Devil's Bridge and deployed on the French side of the river behind my beleaguered grenadiers who were under fire from artillery and muskets and eventually forced to withdraw back over the bridge.
 On the right my Cossacks had managed to cross the river. My jager were trading shots with Frenchies ensconced in the village. The grenadiers had been stationery for much of the game as I didn't fancy their chances if they crossed the bridge unsupported. Then, throwing caution to the wind I did just that. They charged into a column of French grenadiers but after a round of melee which they  surprisingly lost were forced to withdraw as a result of their subsequent break test. Robbie's French followed up the following turn and charged the supporting Russian grenadiers on the bridge but were held there for the rest of the game.

Robbie charged my Austrian cavalry which countercharged, thus enabling the French to hit them in the flank as well. Predictably the Austrians broke and the French followed up and smashed into the other stationary unit, which also fled.

At this point we agreed to call it a day. The French had been quite badly mauled in the centre but had held on. My left flank had been totally driven off the field and the right was held up on the bridge. Although my cossacks had managed to cross the river there was little they could have done to influence events. 

So another Russian defeat. Even though I made quite a few of the French newly raised (when actually they were by this time pretty much veteran troops) the Russians still didn't have the numbers to make an impact. I give all the Russians the 'stubborn' and 'tough fighters' rules, and don't give them 'first fire'. That makes then quite hard to kill, especially when in attack column when its anything but a 1 or a 2 to save, but whenever they 'lost' a round of melee it was down to a lack of supports (which is my fault I guess), and once the break test dice are thrown the result is in the lap of the Gods.

Anyway, it was a great game and looked pretty spectacular. I really do need to finish my last few battalions of Russian infantry to balance the sides up, and then we shall have another go.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Suvarov in the Alps: Game 1

Yesterday saw the first outing for my French and Russian 1799 armies. Conrad had returned an army corps-worth of 1866 Prussians that had been on loan so it seemed like a good opportunity for a game. We played down the length of the table, with my new 'Alpine Peaks' and 'Devil's Bridge' in the centre, crossing a largely impassable river. The Russian objective was to capture and cross the bridge, drive off the French and be in a position to exit the north table edge.

The Russians army was made up of a battalion of Jager (in two small units), four battalions of combined grenadiers, one battalion of fusiliers and four battalions of musketeers, supported by a battery of artillery and a bunch of Cossacks. There was also the remote chance of a brigade of Austrian cheveau-leger appearing as a flanking force. Facing them were (as it happens) too many French. On the wrong side of the river was a small ad-hoc brigade made up of a battalion of French legere, and a battalion each of the Polish and Helvetic Legions, the latter being a 'large' unit. Due to arrive from the North and East were two further demi-brigades of infantry (11 more battalions!), two batteries of artillery and a weak brigade of chasseurs a cheval.

The Russian commanders were generally above average, and Suvarov and Bagration were given a rating of 9. The infantry were also much harder than their enemies as I made them tough fighters and stubborn but they had no first fire. The French were broadly average with the exception of one demo-brigade which was rated veteran and had slightly better stats than their mates.

The Russian army 
 Cossacks!!!! Suvarov dismounted many of his Cossacks and gave their ponies to the artillery and supply train.
 Russian artillery. In reality these should have been ex-Piedmontese mountain guns but they are as yet incomplete still on painting table as I need some pack ponies to finish the battery.
 The Helvetic Legion 
 The commander of the French advance guard.
 The Devil's Bridge
 As the Russians entered the table the exposed French brigade to their front  deployed to hold them for as long as possible.
 The Russian advance guard, made up of elite grenadiers and jager engage the French but are momentarily held up.
 More Russians appear and march around the French flank.
 And yet more Russians.....
 The Russians were taking their time getting rid of the French delaying force, allowing Gazan's and Molitor's demi-brigades time to arrive.
 The Polish Legion had been driven off with ease but the Helvetic Legion held up the Russians for four rounds of melee before they were taken in the flank and destroyed along with the remainder of their demi-brigade.
 Gaza's infantry marching up the mountain pass towards the bridge.
 They deployed (if deployed is the right word) at their end of the bridge.
 They took fire from Russian musketeers posted on the opposite side of the river and while ineffective, it did disorder them.
 Russian grenadiers poised to assault over the bridge.
 ....and the Russian reserve marches on.
 The Russians climb their side of the mountain track and charge across the bridge, destroying the French defenders immediately. The supporting French passed their break test but were driven off and broken but another Russian bayonet charge.

 The French horse artillery arrives.  I must get the limbers finished but I was focussed on getting the wurst wagon done!
 French chasseurs a cheval arriving at the tail end of the column.
 The French and Russians battle for control of the alpine track leading off the bridge.
 The horse artillery wurst wagon and the battery commander.
 Russian reinforcements wending their way up the track towards the bridge.
 On the right flank the Russians had attempted to the only other crossing place on the river, a small ford, but were beaten to it by a larger force of French and first halted then driven back, with heavy losses on both sides. The Russian artillery prevented the French from exploiting the withdrawal.
 The Russian's final attempt to clear the bridge ground to a halt as losses mounted and battalions were forced to retreat.
 The Cossacks gave up the fight (not that they actually did much anyway) and started looting the village.

I enjoyed the game as did Conrad. We whistled through it and managed 16 turns between 11:00 and 3:30 which is pretty impressive. We both agreed that the Russians had been trounced and that they were in no position to continue their valiant attempt to cross the river. On reflection, I got the timings wrong for the arrival of the French reinforcements, and once they were all on the odds were stacked against the outnumbered Russians, so they really never had a chance, especially as they were delayed for so long by the French advance guard. The Russian flanking move never materialised so the Austrian chevau-leger brigade that was expected to appear on the French flank clearly got lost or were distracted by the von Trapp family and joined their singalong! Where the rules didn't quite work we just made it up as we went along. For example, troops in march column don't fight very well but how were they to fight their way over the bridge? We decided that although the figures might look like they were march column they were in fact in an attack column while they occupied the mountain features. That worked well enough. I also used three models to represent each battery, and each model had the usual 3/2/1 dice so there was the potential for some serious bloodshed. Thankfully this never happened and the artillery, while quite deadly, wasn't too powerful, in this game at least!

Tomorrow Robbie is coming up for a game so all I have to do is re-set the figures and so forth and print out some new Orbats. With a few less Frenchmen included which is a shame but I did get everything battle ready on the table yesterday, part from the Austrian cavalry who OUGHT to have arrived!