Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Battle for the Shevardino Redoubt

This is a game I ran with the Hartford Area Historical Gaming Society (HAHGS) way back in February 2009. I was considering taking the troops (15mm) and terrain along on the trip to Historicon this year to run a a potential pick up game. However, given the latest development around Historicon 2011 it sounds as if space for pick up games will be significantly reduced this year.

The below game had originally intended to be run using Piquet’s Field of Battle rules, but at the time SHAKO II was the rage of the group so the game was run using Shako II rules. The figures were 15mm with all of the Russian’s being from my collection and French being provided by Greg H and Peter C as well as my myself. The game was ‘average’ sized with about 1,400 figures on a 6’x12’ table.

This was the first game I had organized in about 23 years and I confess to being disappointed in how it went. The game was set up to accommodate 8 players, we ended up getting 5 plus myself. Another 2 players would have really helped the flow of the game once the French Reserves came on the table.

Attendance aside, the game played out about the way I expected. Compan’s Division stormed the hill, the Russian defenders were tenacious.

The Cossacks and Poles skirmished as the Duchy of Warsaw forces steadily advanced toward the redoubt. In hind site I started the Poles too far away from the action using a fixed movement rule system. In any event by the end of the game the Poles had flanked the redoubt and were applying heavy pressure.

The Russian Cuirassier’s made a historically accurate grand charge into the French line (unfortunately they did it during the hours of daylight instead of in pitch dark like the historical charge) and were summarily shot to pieces.

Sievers Cavalry Corp did a magnificent job of delaying both Morand’s Division, and then engaging the follow on French Reserve Cavalry.

In the end, the result was inevitable although the French failed to take the Redoubt by the time we had to call the game. French casualties were considerably higher than the actual battle but Russian’s (historically) refused to abandon the untenable “pimple of a hill” as Digby Smith describes the action in his book Borodino.

All in all it was a fun game and one I’d really like to try again using Field of Battle.
Below are some photos of the action.

Initial Russian Deployment 

 Compan's Division moves out

Poniatowski's Duchy of Warsaw Cavalry and the Cossacks mix it up

 French advance on the Russian left

Russian Cuirassiers charge the French Infantry

 French close on the Redoubt

French continue to press while the Russians hold 
Note the white glue holding the two hill levels together.  I'd just finished the terrain the night before, and at some point on the drive to Hartford they separted - so I had to do emergency repairs before the battle began and apparently over did the glue

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gordetschna at HAVOC XXVII

On April 2nd a subset of the Hartford Area Historical Gaming Society (HAHGS) consisting of Peter A, Thomas K., Greg H., and myself made the trek up to the Worcester Mass for this years HAVOC gaming convention to run Peter’s Gordetschna Napoleonic scenario. The game was run using Piquet’s Field of Battle by Brent Oman.

This was my first trip to HAVOC, Thomas and Peter ran a game last year and Greg has been running games there several years. I was pleasantly surprised with the event. There were 6 or 8 dealers there and about 20 gaming tables set up. I picked up a copy of CHARGE! Great Cavalry Charges of the Napoleonic Wars by Digby Smith from one of the book dealers for considerably less than the best price.

The one down side about the HAVOC venue is that there is only 1 hour between games. This means the ending game has about 30 min. to take down and pack up and the starting game only has about 30 minutes to set up. We were fortunate in that we had play tested the scenario about two months ago so the terrain and deployment were fresh in out minds. Having 4 motivated pairs of hands doing the work greatly helped as well.

The scenario called for 7 players, we had six signed up which allowed Thomas to take command of his beautifully painted Austrian troops.

We had a couple of players who were having issues with the Piquet concept of not being in complete control. They were content to grumble, until they suffered their first set back and then promptly left about 45 minutes into the game. After that, the over all mood seemed to pick up and the remaining players seemed to enjoy the game. Their departure allowed Greg to take over one relatively intact command while I took over the other mauled, over extended command (which is typically how my commands end up – so I was right at home).

This battle played very differently than our play test, with the exception of Thomas continuing his insanely hot dice combined with his unstoppable Austrian juggernaut. This time around the Russian’s withdrew and essentially allowed the Austrian’s to cross the river unopposed. The Russian’s were hampered by the absence of any Artillery Reload cards until the deck was almost completely gone through, and by that point most of their guns were screened by friendly troops.

The Saxon flanking attack which was run by a young gentlemen named Daniel as I recall, had a significantly greater impact this time around. Aided by a couple of 3 move segment rolls, their Hussars stormed out of the woods, looped around the over extended Russian Dragoons, and struck 2 of the 3 Russian Dragoons Regiments as well as a Russian Horse battery in the rear. From there the same unit went on to smash the flank of a Russian Infantry unit before being forced to withdraw by Russian musketry. This left the Russian left flank hanging extremely exposed and unsupported. Had he been able to support the Cavalry with some Infantry he would have most likely rolled up the entire Russian left flank.

As we were setting up the table Greg had mentioned that the Saxon Commander as ‘just flocked last night’ – I wonder if that had anything to do with the Saxon performance?

On the Russian right flank the one bright spot was a charge by some Kalmuck Cossacks into an Austrian unloaded disordered Infantry unit with the Cossacks surprisingly winning. This bought valuable time for the Russian Infantry on that flank to rally and reform.

However, it proved to be to little to late. As the time allotted for the game expired we called it a minor victory for the Austrian’s. The Austrian’s had lost one more moral chip than the Russians, but the Austrian’s held their secondary objective of the ridge line on the Russian left flank, and the Austrian’s were pouring across the river and still had close to an entire Reserve Corps that hadn’t been deployed yet.

All in all I thought the game went well. The players (with the noted exceptions) seemed to have a good time.

Typically in a game if you pay attention to can you hear some rather interesting comments out of context. In addition to our Saxon General just being flocked the night before, there was one more worth reporting. During an Leadership check I overheard the following, “That’s good enough to get their sheep off, but they don’t get their rocks off”. One more reason to use farm animals to mark disordered status and rocks to represent stand losses.

Below are some photos of the action taken by Peter and myself.  Click on the photos to see a larger view.

Initial deployment on the Austrian Left Flank

 Thomas (seated) setting up his Austrian horde

Russian left flank at the start of the game

 Another view of the initial deployment

At the far end of the table you can see the Saxon flanking forces in the woods.  Greg lends advise to the Saxon Commander

 On the Austrian right flank, Saxon Hussars on the hill in the foreground and Austrian Infantry on the hill (the hill was the secondary objective of the Austro-Saxon forces). 

 Austrians cross the river and bridge in the center of the battle field.  The Russian artillery screened by their own Infantry most of the battle was unable to impact the crossing

 Another view of the secondary objective.  By now the Russian Dragoons are all that's keeping the Russian Infantry from being rolled up

 Another view of the secondary objective with even more Austrian Infantry in line ready to blast the Russian Dragoons to pieces, (the Russian's finally turned another move card and the Dragoons wisely pulled back to block the road off the table).

 On the right the Austrian-Saxon forces have the secondary objective well in control and are in position to roll up the Russian line.

 Near the end of the battle, the Russian left flank still relatively intact but significantly further back from the river.

 Austrian Hussars charge the unloaded Russian guns.  The rock indicates the Hussars have lost one stand

Austrians streaming across the river onto the Russian side.  The sheep next to the lead Austrian Infantry unit indicates the unit is out of command.