Thursday, August 25, 2016

A wargame in England while on vacation

A few days ago I returned from a lovely vacation in England with my family visiting amusement parks, cities, children attractions, museums, battlefields and other historic sites which I'll post about at later date and of course having an absolute wonderful wargame with Ray from Don't throw a 1 blog fame and his gaming group called Postie's rejects headed of course by Postie himself.

The battlefield as seen from the French left flank with infantry facing off center and left and cavalry off in the distance on the right. Told you it was a huge battle!

Well I thought we were just going to have an afternoon scrap with a few guys until Ray and Postie guided me into the fabled wargaming shed where I was presented with a massive table packed with 15mm Napoleonic figures! A truly epic sized game with about 3 corps per side which to my understanding is the largest game they have ever put on. The only time I've ever played in games roughly that big were at conventions using 15mm ACW so I felt quite chuffed to say the least to be included in such an epic game. Thanks a lot guys!!

We decided to draw paper bits to decide which side we would play on and the results were as follows:

John - de Tolly
Ray - Tuchkov
Richard - Strogonov

Surj - Davout
Myself- Eugene
Ian - Montbrun

Postie- Umpire

Well actually I drew the cavalry, but since I was new to the system(Posties home brew) and do not have a lot of experience playing Naps especially cavalry, but do however in infantry tactics from other horse and musket periods Ian kindly switched with me giving me control of the infantry in the center and himself the cavalry on the flank.

The Scenario

The Battle of Vyazma 31st August 1812

As Ray described in his blog "Napoleon and his Grand Armee are advancing towards Moscow, chasing the Russians. In a change of history, de Tolly has decided to try and halt the French advance, he set up his army to delay the French by the small town Vyazma and waited for the French."

Personally I was very happy the scenario took place in the Russian campaign as that is my favorite of the Napoleonic theaters.

Surj, Ian and myself discussed our strategy after viewing the armies dispositions. Basically the Russians had a relatively strong defensive position commanding a low ridge line with regular infantry holding the center and Grenadiers holding their right flank and a mix of regular and elite cavalry on their left with more heavy then light from what I could tell.  Opposing them we had mostly regular infantry on our left and center and a mix of elite and regular cavalry on our right with more light then heavy. It quickly became obvious what our strategy was going to be. We decided to only engage the Grenadiers if we had to by simply doing a slow march towards them. Our cavalry was to stall the other cavalry for as long as possible while the center would advance as quickly as possible thus becoming our focus of attack as we had the numbers there and more equal footing in terms of troop quality. It turns out John, Ray and Richard guessed that we would do exactly that so dice rolls would be really telling on the outcome of the game.

John yawning as he faces yet another victim for his Russian cavalry. Apparently John has a bit of a reputation for rolling exceptionally well while in command of cavalry. Other then the heat I guess that was why Ian was sweating freely??
An impressive sight as the Russians Grenadiers can be seen formed up on the hills, but would only see some action since we avoided them as much as possible.

My French Italian infantry who I had difficulty keeping organized thanks to a failed command roll and disordering the lot. However, I did eventually get them in line and managed to press some form of an attack attack on John's infantry. I also had regular French infantry not shown facing off against Ray's Russians.To the right can be seen Ian's cavalry. 

John's Russian infantry opposite of the Italians with their cavalry chomping at their bits to get at Ian's French to their left.

Rays Russians enjoying the high ground and basking in the sun confidently holding the center. At this point the drums rolled and the French began their attack.

Ray magnanimous as ever expressed his feelings in a very sporting fashion on seeing my first divisional commander being blown from the saddle. In fairness I had been warned to keep my commanders more then 2inches from my units or they could become casualties. However feeling the odds were very much in my favor I took the risk and.....was of course shot dead on the very first opportunity!Arrrrrr!

Once again I could rely on Ray to keep a gentleman like composer and not rejoice when my second divisional commander was parted with his head from yet another hellishly accurate cannon shot! Those damn artillery pieces must be destroyed!!!!  

Wait......what the hell...... Ian has decided he cannot wait for any stalling tactics and charges his cavalry corps headlong at the Russian cavalry in what many were thinking was a suicide move given all the Russian heavies and John's notoriously fast dice behind them, but Ian instead becomes bloody LaSalle reborn outright winning half the combats, drawing a couple and only losing 1 fight!! Well, well doesn't this change things a bit! This now gives us more flexibility to turn a flank if the center gets stalled.  

John looks on in disbelief at what happened to his cavalry corps which is struggling to stay on the field and wisely forms some of his infantry in squares to prevent his flank from being rolled up by a rampaging French cavalry.

YOU DOUBTED ME! Ian gleefully takes a picture with his phone of the destruction he unleashed on John's cavalry.

Ray and Richard still confident they will win the day as they control the hills.

That is until Ray's Russian infantry decided they in fact forgot their powder in the baggage train resulting in all 4 infantry regiments protecting the hill failing their morale tests to stand vs the French infantry charges and fleeing off the hill disordering all the reserve units behind! This left the artillery to face some very angry French alone!! The French quite happily marched up onto the hill to occupy the vacancies left by the Russian infantry and with great enthusiasm started to give a little pay back to those officer sniping artillery. At this point Ray sat down with plenty of colorful verbiage! He-He.

Ohhhhh yes! Surj's reaction on seeing the Russians abandoning the hill.

After dispatching the irksome artillery The French rolled over the hill pressing the attack. Ray did manage to reform his lines a bit, but this left him no time to recover any disorder effects which I then pushed my French troops to take advantage of as quickly as possible. It was here that I then took a moment to get Ray's point of view of how things were going and his general opinion of things so far.

Richard happy in the knowledge his Grenadiers held up their end and would not be blamed for any failures.

Bored the Russian Grenadiers seeing the French were not that interested in a scrap uphill against elite troops decided to move off the hill and take the fight to the French. Perhaps if this was done earlier it might of helped a little, but by this point it was too late in the battle.

Cossacks intended for a flank attack should the French move against the Grenadiers never materialized so they spent the game playing go fish.

Things just seem to get worse for the Russians as the French now begin to widen their attack in the center in effect splitting the Russian army. Panic begins to set in and recriminations are starting to form. Shouts of "Vive L'Empereur" can be heard ringing across the battlefield.

Portions of the Russian Grenadiers and what's left of Ray's Russians try to mount a counter attack in the center and do cause some damage.

But the French reserve line plugs the gap pretty much ending any real chance the Russians have to turn things around at which point the Russians throw the towel in mumbling something about being given trick lead dice and us having magnets.

No guys the scenario doesn't mention anything about a forth Russian corps entering center field.

Yes sir that's right I'm now a proud honoury Posties reject!!

I stole this pic off Ray's blog as my after game group shot came out blurry. As you can see we are a bit worn as it was hot and we also played for 9 hours or so, but nonetheless happy! From left to right is Richard, Ray, Postie, myself, John and Surj. Ian had left a bit earlier as he was needed at home.
While I'd like to claim it was our utter brilliance which swept aside the Russians the truth is dice rolling did indeed play the key roll in deciding this game with Ian on fire and Ray rolling abysmal failing almost all his morale tests, however he was rolling pretty good with cannons as my officer corps can attest to. The rest of the group rolled more or less average with myself included barring the officer casualty tests which were pretty amusing for all even if my colleagues were getting concerned this might portend things to come, but fortunately this proved not to be the case in the end.

So the Russians did delay the French, but were unable to stop them from advancing on to Borodino. The game was a tactical victory for the French, but strategically is more uncertain as the French were delayed and not able to crush the entire Russian force leaving many to fight another day to include most of the infantry who rather then being cut down had instead fled and a relatively untouched Grenadier force, but the French did badly maul the cavalry and captured several artillery pieces so considerable damage was done. 

Plenty of banter, shouts, insults and celebrating your good fortune and your enemy's misfortune in other words a damn good time with gents who just want to have fun! I laughed so hard I thought my ribs would crack. No question if I get another chance to game with them again I'll jump on the chance!

Blogger is really ticking me off lately as my posts for the past few months are delayed for hours. This is beginning to really sap some of the blogging fun folks. Well off to catch up on the blog world and happy gaming everyone and don't forgot to check out Ray's blog for his version of events at Don't throw a 1.

One more thing all the figures are from Postie's collection and believe it or not but he also has drawers full with more!