Sunday 3 November 2019

Giving General d'Armée another try - French Revolutionary Wars

John the Red and I played a number of GdA games last year which, once we’d mastered the rules, were very enjoyable, even if as I recall I lost all of them. Another game with them seemed appropriate so on Friday John, Paul S, Conrad and Richard “the bringer of cake” were round for a wholly fictitious battle between the Revolutionary French and a Prussian/Bavarian force set somewhere along the Rhine in 1793. Purposely the armies were not balanced. The French had slightly more infantry (but of very mixed quality) and their cavalry was decidedly inferior in quality. The French artillery was however much better than the Prussians. The Prussians were hindered by having a brigade of Bavarians attached, classed as recruits. I asked each side to throw for the quality of their commander in chief and both ended up with “Campaigners”. As the French had one less brigade than the Prussians they had one less potential ADC to play with each turn.

Conrad and John were Prussians while Paul and Richard played the French. It took a while for us to get into the swing of things regarding the rules but after a turn or two of frustration, for example at not being able to find some bit or other in the main rules and the fact that the QRS is anything but Q in terms of layout it soon came back. The objective, apart from trying the rules out again, was for the armies to gain control of the town and the bridges (including the partially completed pontoon bridge).

Battle lines drawn, French on the right.
The Prussian right was thinly held by a brigade of infantry and a battery of light field guns.

The Prussians won the initiative in turn one and, using the benefits of plenty of ADCs and a ‘forwards’ order immediately raced forward with  a brigade of infantry to reach the town ahead of the French.
Two battalions of the Prussian Guard on the outskirts of the town
Conrad pushed his light cavalry forward  but stopped well short of the enemy, waiting for their attached horse artillery to catch up and deploy.
Paul had pushed his cavalry up towards the coaching inn on his right flank. Suddenly Prussian reserves, in the form of a brigade of heavy cavalry, arrived on the table facing them. 
Paul got his veteran brigade moving and advanced to the right of the town.
Back over on the right the Prussians had advanced as far as they wanted to and deployed their artillery.
In the centre the French were pushing forward. The Prussians attacked but were forced to retire. In return several unsupported French attacks by infantry columns were repulsed. The French were however winning the skirmisher duel and had artillery superiority in this sector.
A battery of French 12pdrs deployed next to the town and began a ferocious bombardment but the garrison, a battalion of Prussian Guards, held firm.
In the centre the French are  very slowly pushing the Prussians back.

The Bavarian Brigade. Conrad failed to get them to move was for six turns of the trot they were hesitant! SIX turns!
The Bavarians were happy to stay on their hill and watch the battle. Nothing was going to get them to advance. In fact, in all the time these figures have been on the table they’ve done precisely nothing!
In the centre the Prussian skirmishers have been driven off by advancing French columns.

The pressure on the outnumbered and outgunned Prussians around the town is intense.
Over on the Prussian right, little had been happening other than some long range artillery fire and a few exchanges between French skirmishers and Prussian jäger. This was all to change as a Richard ordered his light cavalry to charge the Prussians who were deployed in line on the hilltop. Sadly, the Prussians were able to form square in time and the French Chasseurs a Cheval we’re forced to retire.
Prussian jäger facing the French left.
In the centre the Prussians are being forced back by overwhelming numbers of French.
On the French right it was a different story. The Prussian and French cavalry had charged  each other, and in a series of messy hand to hand combats the French came off decidedly worse. One of their regiments was dispersed causing the brigade to falter. Despite a brief counter attack the remainder of the brigade was driven off by the battered but large Prussian Cuirassier regiments. This flank had been decisively won by the Prussians.
The massive cavalry combat on the flank in full swing.

The town was garrisoned by a battalion of Prussian Guard, who were proving difficult to dislodge. 

The thinly held Prussian centre.

The massed fighting around the town.

Chaos around the town as the French attempt to drive the Prussians back.
A haggard and exhausted umpire (me, in black) looks on at the end of the game. 
So there we have it. I declared the game a Prussian victory as they held the town and had destroyed the French heavy cavalry. Whether they would be able to capitalise on their success and drive the French from the field is one of those great unknowns of wargaming. I suspect that as they’d not brought on their last reserve brigade a more complete victory would have been the likely outcome. But who knows?

It was a knackering game but post action feedback was positive and the players I’ve spoken to are keen to give the rules another go. I still like them and while I am a great fan of Black Powder for big games I sometimes get a little bored by the latter set. For me it was great to get my lovely 1792 cum 1806 Prussians on the table again. Most of the infantry were actually correctly dressed in their silly hats for 1793, and for the Guards and the other two battalions in their brigade it was their first taste of battle. Thanks to everyone for playing the game, struggling with the rules, and putting up with my grumpiness. Special thanks to Richard for the cakes and for my new and incredibly striking ‘banner’ for the Stockton game, courtesy of the lads at his place of work.

I now need to get back to finishing everything off for the game at Battleground Stockton on 30 November. Hopefully also get another game in before then as well, perhaps in a fortnight or so.


  1. Another grand set to in the Burrow! I will stick to BP myself, can't manage over complicated rules and have no inclination or time to waste learning them.

    1. GdA probably no more complicated than BP. Just different. Sometimes we get bored with BP hence the odd experiment. BP will always remain my comfy pair of fluffy slippers set of rules.

  2. Great report. Maybe the Bavarians would be as 'steady' in defence?

  3. Another splendid looking and sounding game Colin...

    All the Best Aly

  4. As always a great looking game, seems the Bavarians as destined to remain in reserve ?

    1. Cheers Matt. Maybe when I finish the rest of the Bavarians (battery of guns, another unit of infantry and some light cavalry) they will e braver.

  5. That's a very pretty game - colourful minis & tabletop. The pastel painted town houses really appealed & I couldn't help but admire the Prussians & the big battery.
    Stick with the GdA rules, they're made for these bigger games.
    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks Jeremy. We shall try them again soon. These Prussians are one of favourite armies in my collection.

  6. Hi. It did take a little while to get back into the swing of GdA but we were there by the end. The perils of re reading rules late at night! I do like GdA for the period flavour and inparticular the command (ADC)and skirmisher rules. Still not sure on the Charging rules! In this game most of the infantry attacks by both sides were unsupported and therefore quite reasonably failed to close. For the sake of the photos and the likelyhood of Prussian victory, we failed to bring on the rather colourful reserve of massed Grenadiers and heavy guns. Partly due to a misplaced confidence that eventually the Bavarians would advance and shore up the centre. A Paris. John Der Rot

    1. Agreed. GdA work well once the turn sequence is mastered. The French were too passive and the Prussians were, er, just Prussians. Excellent coup de main at the start occupying the town.