Wednesday 17 October 2018

French Revolutionary Wars game using Honours of War

Paul came for a game yesterday afternoon and we’d decided to try Honours of War for a FRW game, with a few appropriate amendments that I will highlight at the end of this post. The scenario had a defending force of Russians holding both sides of an impassable river that cut the table in two, with the only crossing point on their baseline. There was a demolished pontoon bridge close the French base line which the French needed to repair and make use of to transfer their forces between the north and south sides of the river. (They had half their troops on each bank approaching the Russian position so until it was repaired their army would be fighting as two independent forces). Apart from the usual ‘destroy the enemy’ objective, the Russians had to prevent the French from repairing the bridge and hold their crossing point, while the French had to prevent the destruction of the pontoon bridg, capture the Russian-held crossing point and give the forces of the Reactionary despot Czar Paul and the slaves of tyranny a good seeing too!

The outnumbered Russians (me) split their forces evenly between both banks, with their best troops (four grenadier battalions) holding the centre and awaited the French attack.

The right wing of the Russian army, eight battalions of infantry, a large battery of cannon and three regiments of cavalry. With a pair of 'dithering' commanders!

The French appear in the centre.

Despite having orders to advance the Russian right wing failed to do so!!!
Instead they just lined up and looked splendid!

As did these dragoons.

On the other wing the sole regiment of Russian dragoons were about to face a load of trouble as the next French brigade appeared and started taking pot shots at them with their horse artillery.

The French centre. Six battalions of infantry, two batteries of 12pdrs and swarms of skirmishers.
Those 12pdrs! Thankfully they were to be underemployed for most of the battle.
Seen from the French right, Russian infantry have occupied the village and a regiment of dragoons has just exposed itself to fire from the horse artillery battery.
My dragoons taking a pounding from the enemy artillery. They were force to retreat, which for me was good.
The French pressing home their attack in the centre, with their skirmishers trading shots with Russian jager. My artillery just out of shot to the right was also causing a fair bit of damage to the advancing French infantry.
Still in the centre, one of the Russian hussar regiments almost caught a battalion of French out but they were able to form square in time.
My other hussar regiment was about to be overwhelmed by a mass of French horsemen.  As it turned out they actually  did quite well before breaking as my artillery then managed to further weaken the damaged chasseurs a cheval with a few lucky (er..well-directed) shots. 
The French cavalry brigade was an awesome threat and one I had nothing to counter it with. The only option was to push hard with a counter attack in the centre and hope to break through before the enemy cavalry could swing round the wood and hit me in the rear.
Over on the Russian right a regiment of cuirassiers boldly charged the advancing French,  but although they failed to form square their closing fire and that of their supporting units was enough to halt my charge. Job done though as the French never moved an inch closer in the remainder of the battle.
A view of the Russian right advancing towards the village and the fight for the centre in the background.
Remarkably, the combination of a foolish charge bu my hussars and the concentrated fire of my jager and a battery of  twelve 12pdrs  ( large unit in the game for shooting etc) had broken one battalion of French, battered a couple of others and dispersed their skirmish screen. Time to advance methinks.
Back on the right we were doing just that. All eight battalions of Russians were piling it on, forcing the French back and destroying several battalions by a bit of handy bayonet work. The threat posed by my cavalry and the effect of my artillery paralysed the French on this flank.

Peekaboo! My remaining hussar regiment wishing it were somewhere else no doubt.
The Russian left decided to attempt to drive off the French facing them. A brave move but ultimately a futile one, other than it pinned the enemy in position.

Russian grenadiers begin their attack in the centre.
While Russian hussars try and stem the advance by the French cavalry.
The Russians continue to pile ton he pressure on the right wing.
Paul had by now completed repairing the bridge and was trying to transfer his reserve brigade across the river where it might to some good. There was no room for it to manoeuvre on his left and it risked being swept away by the hard-pressed brigade locked in combat with the Russians.
My hussars were forced to retreat but not broken, and the chasseur a cheval regiment they'd been fighting, already weakened, had been broken. The troubles that I now only had a battalion of jager protecting my advancing grenadiers.

Thankfully, divine intervention stepped in after some heavy praying and swinging of incense as it was time to pack up. Pheww! The French left was in the process of collapsing, the French centre had collapsed but the presence of their cavalry and reserve artillery would stop me exploiting my success, and my left was in complete disarray following their failed assault. It seemed fair to agree to a draw, albeit somewhat in my favour in terms of enemy units destroyed. 

Well, that worked rather well. A few more tweaks may be needed to try and get the difference of linear old-school armies fighting against more fluid French, but it had been a good idea and a great experiment.

Notes about the rule amendments:
1. Infantry charged by cavalry had to throw 1d6 to see if they formed square, requiring 3+;
2. Squares were treated as BUAs when shooting, and columns received a minus one when shooting;
3. Squares and columns attracted a plus 1 modifier to artillery shooting at them, and columns moved at the march column rate;
4. Each French brigade had a skirmish screen deployed as a distinct unit. If charged they would try to evade. If they failed they were removed from play permanently. If they were forced to retreat having suffered 4 hits they would disperse permanently, likewise when they became ‘done for’;
5. Russians were classed as inferior for shooting and superior for melee. I had thought about making them superior for being shot at to reflect their renowned stoicism under fire but forgot. Russian batteries were classed as large units;
6. I fiddled with the rules covering formation changes etc to try and reflect the more rigid Russian approach. However, an earlier French army would be beset by all sorts of problems if they tried to move out of column, but thats for another day;
7. I think we busked a few things as they cropped up but nothing major except for a new element in the command and control phase where brigades were given orders that could only be changed by sending an ADC.

I have a game on Saturday so watch this space for the report.


  1. Interesting idea to use HoW for FRW. I think that it could work quite well with the mods that you're working on. From what I've read, by this time the French infantry were quite professional and used a lot of linear tactics, albeit with lots of skirmishers.

  2. Nice looking game Colin - great figures and scenery as always and an interesting scenario!

  3. Absolutely brilliant looking game Colin.

  4. A lovely looking game and a great idea to use HoW for your Revolutionary armies:)

  5. An epic looking game there Sir.

    Interesting rule tinkering, I think Dave and I are sticking with Black Powder, we have trouble remembering them as it is :~)

  6. Splendid stuff Colin...
    A very enjoyable account and great eye candy...

    All the best. Aly

  7. great game Colin, splendid looking units a plenty.

  8. Well up to the expected standard!

  9. Beautiful game, Colin, with superb game photos. Too bad HoW did not work out. Even in large games, I find HoW plays quite quickly despite the alternative activations.

    1. Thanks Jonathon. I’d use them every time for the SYW, big game or no, providing everyone had a working knowledge of them.