Thursday, June 17, 2010

Almost the Berezina, Part Une

JM Seman, Jim Naughton and I played a game of DBN very loosely based on the crossing of the Berezina River. The OOB's were taken from Nafziger's Napoleon's Invasion Of Russia' just because I think it would be a great situation to wargame. I didn't have time to try to work out balance or VC; I just tried to put together forces of a similar point value. JM, not fully indoctrinated into the DBx life (yet), eschewed the typical 'felt' terrain and set up a very nice playing area using a map from Nafziger's book. JM, pictured here, took the French, while Jim and I divvied up the Russkies.

Looking from the Russian left. JM split his meager cavalry forces on each flank, while the bulk of the Russian cavalry set up on the Russian right where there was more maneuver room. Note the Guard artillery battery on the far side of the river. A seemingly good idea, but the battle soon took the forces out of range.
From behind the Russian lines. Before you comment, yes, we used some proxies for the troops! You may notice Polish Horse artillery standing in for Russian in this pic.

Ouviller's Polish Brigade and Kleingel's Saxons.

The Russians attempt to take the fight to the French. Control of the heights in the center would be crucial. If the Russians could unlimber their artillery atop the hill, the bridges would be in jeopardy! (If we had bridges and situational VC.)

Almost the Berezina, Part Dueauxeaux

The Russian Hussars get lucky and the Hessian Chevaulegers are no more. The Russian infantry column is almost out of the woods. (Those woods are stinking with cossacks!)

Charge!!!!! The Russian Cuirassiers charge into Damas' Brigade of Berg infantry and some lowly Baden Hussars. However, even with the limited charge distance, the Berg infantry rolls well and forms square, ready to repulse the charge. In the foreground, swarms of cossacks wait to overwhelm the survivors.

The charge is repulsed with losses. The Russians have recoiled and taken at least one hit each. The Berg infantry has done their job.

So, here's a look at the final positions. Unfortunately time ran out (the store closed) before either side could claim satisfaction. In the foreground, Hochberger's Baden regiments, along with the Baden Jager battalion square off against the Russian Hussars. The Russians on this end were plagued with low CAP rolls and a stingy, greedy CinC who wouldn't give us any and left us to die. (Historically, the Russian commanders did not get along. Jim's CinC'c CAP die rolls were not great either.) In the middle, the Saxons continue their advance and the fight rages over the heights on the far end.

It's potentially a great situation for a well balanced scenario. Each side had about 7000 infantry with the Russians having a 4-1 advantage in cavalry and a 2-1 advantage in artillery, but most of the French forces were elite. With Jim's expertise in Napoleonic OOB's and combat mechanics and JM's acumen in balancing a situation, I think we may be able to put together something publishable. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DBR: Scots Covenanters vs. Low Country Spanish Part I

Jim Naughton and I sat down to play a 5oo point DBR game pitting my Scots Covenanters versus his Low Country Spanish. I won the terrain and put out a few hills on my side and a woods. Then Jim placed an even higher hill right in the center of the table and blocking the lines of sight from the other hills, so I was forced to set up on the tall center hill which meant I was already half way across the table. Not knowing what he had, and he getting to set up second, I was unsure how to proceed. What I finally decided was to put my small artillery command in the center flanked by the two halves of my main pike and shotte line. In this way, I could protect them and extend my line even further to the ends of the table. My attack wing would sweep up the end of his line and if he sent a counter attack that direction I had an ambush of some Highlander warbands in the woods. It was a great plan except that it was an illegal set-up. I could not place one command within the confines of another to start. I could have put the artillery on the hill and the main line behind it, then marched half to each side, but I was feeling bad for delaying the start
so I just moved the artillery to the flank and decided it would be a quick game as I essentially sacrificed one command out of three. (I was too tired to think straight, not that that excuses me much anyway. I had put together the army at about 2:30am when I couldn't sleep and did a piss poor job of it. I knew it but was too tired to care much.) The first pic is of Jim's army deployed for battle.

A shot of the bristling pike and shot line of the Scots! The figs are Museum Miniatures and I got most of them during their $.20 sale last summer. I should have bought more!
My attack wing, or so I thought. My second line of lancers and dragoons and half the shot will have to be redeployed to save my left flank.

As described, my artillery hangs in the open as the Spanish head for them like sprinters at some Renaissance Olympics.

DBR: Scots Covenanters vs. Low Country Spanish Part II

Great Gadzooks! Highlanders with guns! For an army with 47 different words for 'drinking till you puke', is this really a good idea?

The cavalry to the rescue! Scots lancers and dragoons March Move to prevent a total rout of the Scots left. The Forlorn Hope can be seen dirtying their knickers as the Spanish column advances. At least their general has decided to fall on hos sword with them and moves out in the hopes his dead body will slow down Spanish horses.

Highlander pike flanked on both sides by lowlander shot.

Poor buggers. The shot assigned to help protect the artillery become unwittingly (unwillingly?) a Forlorn Hope and try to act as a speed bump for the Spanish cavalry. They did manage to hold on long enough, but made the ultimate sacrifice!

The Spanish line was broken somewhat by Scottish shot as they approached the hill. Eventually though, they would cause a headache on the extreme left of the Scots line as they had to repeatedly peel off shot to deal with the enemy. It could have compromised the entire Scottish position but luckily they held on long enough for the reinforcements to arrive.

DBR: Scots Covenanters vs. Low Country Spanish Part III

The main Spanish battle line approach the Scots. A better shot of my set-up fuck up. The few shot and the command general of the artillery have peeled off the artillery park to act as a speed bump while the reinforcing lancers and dragoons get into position.
The second line of shot have also formed column to march to the idiot general's aid.

The highlander warbands emerge from their ambush in the woods. Woefully out of position, they try to haul ass and also support the crumbling left flank.

On the Scottish right, the pistols form up double rank for the support it provides even though it may not help them against the Spanish lancers. The Spanish light horse are breaking up and fleeing due to withering and relentless Scot shot.

The Scottish lancers and dragoons deploy in line to repel the inevitable cavalry charge after the artillery park gets overrun.

A look through the Scottish pike at the approaching Spanish.

DBR: Scots Covenanters vs. Low Country Spanish Part IV

Another overview of the battle. On the Scottish right, the cavalry battle rages as my Pistols got really lucky against Jim's lancers and now need just one more element to break his command. I learned long ago, that it is OK to be lucky! The artillery park is miraculously still holding on. On the left of the hill you can see where an entire file of 4 pikes have had to retreat to avoid dying of the peeled off shot have to recoil into their flank. It further complicates where my reinforcing shot can get to. A classic example of starting to peel away the flanks of a pike and shot line and further proof of the shitty starting positions of my artillery. (But we knew that.) As it turned out, the situation stabilized and it didn't really end up hurting me too much.

The Scottish left as the battle reaches it's climactic moments. The Spanish cavalry has now formed for the charge as the Scottish artillery is finally gone. A terrible waste of points they were, because I squandered them, yet, this was by far the best luck I have ever had with artillery as they punched several holes in the Spanish lines.

The Scots Pistols on their right engage the Spanish general of that command by running through the lines and getting an element in his rear (how the Spanish like it), and another in the front (how the Scots like it). If they can kill him, the Spanish command will break and the game will be even. The fight on the hill rages and PIPS are spent to realign the shot and further disrupt the Spanish line. On the far left, 1 PIP is spent to back up the last Scottish lancer so he doesn't die when the shot inevitably recoils. Really high PIP scores helped me be mobile almost the entire game.

The final positions. The Scots are still firmly entrenched on the center hill and the Scottish attempt to whack the Spanish general on the right has failed, dooming the Blue Bonnets to a narrow defeat. Had they been able to finish off the Spanish general it would have been a draw. I feel the left was going to be OK, especially with the Shot and Highlander Warbands coming to the rescue, and the hill was going to be a tough nut to crack. From this point on it was going to be a fight of attrition.
All in all, I really liked the army and how it worked. Next time, I won't organize it at 2:30am when I can't sleep and spread out the cavalry and artillery as it should be. I am looking forward to trying it again.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fure & Fury: Rodes' Attack 1:30pm July 1, 1863 Part 1

Today, the incomparable John Brock came to my place for a game of Fire & Fury ACW game. We chose a scenario based on Rodes' Attack towards Gettysburg on July 1st, the first day of the battle. The attack was launched around 1:30pm after a lull in the fighting that had started that morning when Heth and Pender first met Federal troops to the northwest of the town. Rodes' division of Ewell's Corps was ordered to push the Federals back and take the high ground south of town. In this scenario, the Confederates are trying to take the first part of their objective by clearing out Will's Woods on McPherson's Ridge. The Union forces are trying to maintain some sort of battle line north of town. Each side could earn a possible 5VP's for control of the woods in addition to the normal VP's for causing brigades to become 'Worn' or 'Spent'.

Rodes' view from behing Willoughby Run looking toward Will's Woods in the distance.

Meredith's brigade atop McPherson's Ridge.

Overall Federal commander Doubleday. Do you think it days like this that made him think about baseball?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fure & Fury: Rodes' Attack 1:30pm July 1, 1863 Part 2

The view from Gettysburg down the unfinished railroad cut. McPehrson's Ridge and Will's Woods in center right. The northern mosr spur of Seminary Ridge is center left with the RR cut separating them. What's that noise? Is Jenny Wade 'baking bread' again?

A view looking towards the northeast and the Federal positions. Along the southern portion of McPherson's Ridge are Meredith and Stones'
brigades. They would play little part in today's battle as thier orders kept them focusing on the east and the rest of the Confederate army.
Another look at Meredith and Stone.

1:30pm. A view from behind Rodes' position on Oak Hill. The attack is launched!

1:30pm. Doles and O'Neal move toward Amsberg's brigade west of the Mummasberg Road. If they can drive the Federals in front of them off they can enfilade the bluecoats in the woods.

Fure & Fury: Rodes' Attack 1:30pm July 1, 1863 Part 3

2:00 pm. Doles' and O'Neal's brigades crash into the remnants of Amsberg's Federal brigade and 2 batteries (Digler's and Wheeler's). Federal fire as they approached was desultory at best, even with miscalculated cannister, they failed to eliminate even one stand while they themselves were Disordered.

The aftermath as Amsberg had fled the field. However, apparently due to being giddy at the ease of their success, both brigades were mishandled and refused to move from the spot. This allowed the Federals to turn their remaining three batteries on O'Neal and, along with the newly repositioned Paul's brigade, began to pour fire into their position. They were eventually reduced to 3 stands and retreated out of range, Spent and out of the game for all intents and purposes. (One of the Federal Batteries, Cooper's, was made from volunteers from nearby New Castle and Shenango Pennsylvania. In a remarkably similar circumstance, on July 1st, Cooper's battery also was originally deployed facing east and was forced to turn and bring fire to bear on Rodes' attack from the north.)

2:30pm. Iverson and Daniel launch an assault on Will's Woods. Daniel's brigade is Low Ammo and are better off giving them the pointy end. The Federals, Baxter and Cutler are both Exceptional leaders and they are advantaged with good defensive terrain in the form of stone walls.

Daniel's Brigade swarms over the wall and into the sparse woods on McPherson's Ridge in an effort to drive the blue bellies back into town.

Daniel's did indeed push back Cutler and carried the position but Iverson is repulsed! They have retreated through Ramseur and will hopefully provide support when the next attack is launched!

Fure & Fury: Rodes' Attack 1:30pm July 1, 1863 Part 4

3:00 pm, the second assault on Will's Woods begins. Led by Ramseur's, Daniel's and Davis' brigades, the Federals are hard pressed under the crush of Confederate numbers. Daniel's brigade is Disordered and Low Ammo and Davis' is worn but so are Cutler and Baxter for the boys in blue.

Over the wall and at 'em. After a Tardy start, Davis' brigade joins the fray.

The sheer crush of numbers and the added insult of a second 'Breakthrough' charge clears the woods of Fedreal troops. Off they skedaddle to the higher ground south of Gettysburg.

Ramseur's and Iverson's Brigades sweep past the former Federal positions.

The view from Gettysburg as Cutler's brigade as fled the field and Baxter's is Spent, Disordered and Low Ammo. Rebels pour out of the woods. At this point we decided there was not much use in continuing. The Federals still had 3 brigades that were Fresh but VP's were too much in the Rebs' favor. Even had they managed to contest the woods again it was a done deal.
It was a fun scenario even if it seemed to favor the CSA. We had a good time and discussed combining this scenario with the one for Barlow's (Blocher's) Knoll. It would extend the map by 2 feet to the Northeast of Gettysburg and may make for an entertaining afternoon. Thanks John for a great afternoon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yesterday I was invited to participate in Paul Olszanski's massive Leipzig game (Day 1). The system was Age of Eagles, an Napoleonic adaptation of Fire & Fury in which the players control a certain number of brigades and have to roll every turn for every brigade to see how they handle. It is a simple way to simulate command and control difficulties on the battlefield; you may see what the enemy is doing but be unable to react in time to it or at all.
The game was played on a table that was about 20x10 feet and at the apex, we had 17 players. Despite the size, Paul kept the game going at a decent pace. The players who were there were there to play as well and not waste time, so after some initial delays, we got down to business. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so these few pics are from my phone. In the above picture, my Austrians are preparing to support the Russian cavalry in the assault on the strategic hill to the south of Leipzig. I have unlimbered a few guns on the hill and my lead brigade is a turn away from taking the hill. That cavalry charge you can see almost got Old Boney himself. Luckily the French brigade missed totally routing by the narrowest of margins. (1 pip on the die or else the charge would have carried into the Emperor!) To the right, the Russian Grand Battery decimated two entire units of cavalry that charged them and their infantry is moving to take the other small hill in the right center of the picture. You can see the hole in the French line, but that is the Old Guard in reserve! In the backround you can see the French columns moving into town to support Poniatowski and the Poles on the other side of Leipzig. It was at this point I had to leave. They were planning on another 8 hours or so (and it was already 5pm!). I doubt even then they would get near a conclusion.

A view from the south. Two French corps march toward Leipzig while another hold off the Prussians in the upper right corner. Right behind the French on the roads are two more Russian corps in pursuit! (Not yet on table) The Austrians in the top center facing the Poles weren't historically placed but even on a table this size, Paul had to make some concessions.

This a view of my Austrians from their starting positions moving to cross the bridge to their right and link up with the Russians to assault the hill where Napoleon himself was commanding the battle. Besides, we didn't like the thought of assaulting the fortress to our direct front and realized there weren't enough troops in there to sally forth and cause us much problems. What *was* a problem were the Polish Cavalry that was on the same road to our left. I had two small but elite brigades of Lichtenstein Cavalry and two skirmishing light brigades and several horse artillery units, but the Poles were massed! I doubt I could have held. Fortunately (for me), the went the other direction and tried to turn the Austrian flank on the very north of the board instead of mine.

This a view from my perspective south of the town of Leipzig. The Emperor is sitting on the center hill with Murat and some of his staff. The Allies have just begun to move toward the French positions.

A view from the other side of the board trying to encompass the whole thing. Hopefully everyone will get to see better pics as there was a photographer from Wargames Illustrated who came from England to take photographs. When he landed his rent-a-car broke down and then the tow truck sent to get him broke down! That is why we were so delayed in getting started. Eventually Paul just had us start and when the guy arrived we stopped for a bit so he could take a bunch of pics, then he kept snapping as we played. It was a massively good time as befit the game. My thanks to Paul and everyone for a rip-roaring good time.