Friday, July 17, 2015

French Counterattack!!

This is the second battle we fought on our way to Leipzig. Following-up the Allied defeat trying to cross the Bober River, the French began their Counterattack toward a combined Russo- Prusso- Austrian Army that was deployed on the outskirts of a town. The Allies had not much in the way of natural defenses to use in their favor and the French had the reformed Grand Armée bearing down on them. This time, Bob, Rich and myself had to hold off from a combined attack by Chris, Casey and Dave.

Roused at dawn by an early attack, Marschall von Blücher put down the boot of beer and let the courtesans go to sleep. He formed the 3rd Regiment, 2nd East Prussians at the edge of town, blocking the direct route. He sent his beloved Leibhusaren on a scouting mission and kept the rest of his cavalry as a reserve.

The Hussars did not have to travel far to find the French vanguard. From their knoll, they began counting battalion after battalion of Marie Louises coming straight for them. Off to the French left - Cuirassiers!

We mustn't stay here for much longer, Herr Leutnant!

Fusiliers skirmish alongside a 6pdr, who makes ready to stop the Crapauds

Before we knew it, the French were within pretty close range. I was fearful that they would form line and pound my Fusiliers into dust, so I brought up a reserve Silesian battalion on the right flank as an anchor, with cavalry support not too far behind. Along the road another battalion was brought forward.

Hu hu hu! Look at my outrageous striped pants, mon ami!

The Leibhusaren being hussars charged the despised French cavalry who out numbered them about two to one. "It is better to die under a Prussian sky, than live as a slave to the Ogre" was heard muttered by their officer.

The Silesians, who apparently forgot their flag in the tavern, formed line. The French had come within a stone's throw, but faltered in the face of Prussian lead and steel. To their right, the Hussars managed to hold off the French. They forced the Cuirassiers to fall back onto the hill that they had originally reconnoitered. The Dragoons and another squadron of Hussars charged, forcing the French into squares, and more importantly, giving the Musketeers an excellent target to unload on.

In the background is the next wave of French

More Prussian reserves marched forward in hopes of breaking the first French wave, who, due to a few poor die rolls, stood in place, taking round after round of musket volleys.

Grenadiers! Vorwärts!

Barely visible in the upper left corner of the picture below are the Austrians and Prussian Uhlans, who played a pivotal role on the Allied left flank. As the French approached they split, with about half going toward me and the other half toward Rich and Bob. The Russians held their ground stubbornly, turning the French like a quality pack turns a Rugby scrum. This allowed Bob's Austrian infantry and my Uhlans to crash into Dave's flanks in melee. In Black Powder this is pretty much an auto- kill.

Blücher watched his children from the road

The Allies ended up holding the town and defeating the French, for now. After a few battalions crumbled on the right, and since the left was a bog of broken men, we called it. The Prussians, err I mean  Allies had won a grand victory!

I think we managed to recreate the feel of battle well in this attempt. We finally have enough miniatures that we can have waves of attacks, instead of just line up and shoot, or limited engagements. We remarked how these two games went the complete opposite way we thought they would go. We all thought the Allies would storm over the bridges in game 1 and get completely rolled over in game 2. But that's why you roll the dice, right?

Cross the Bober!

As a I previously mentioned, we are running a campaign of sorts revolving around Leipzig. The following Battle was the first, and found the Allies pushing from two flanks in the attempt to cross the Bober River at two points. Jason and I teamed up against Chris, Dave, visiting from Switzerland, and Casey.

These pictures were taken on my phone. My Fiancée has since purchased a very nice digital camera, which I have been using to take pictures of the battled (I am sure that is why she really bought it). So, please forgive the quality of some of the pictures.

The French had positions on both bridge heads and at a ford where the Prussians hoped to cross. To represent the "Marie Louises", Chris, Dave and Casey had to test to see how the battalion would react upon its first contact with the enemy. I forget the actual rule in Black Powder.

These gallant Frenchmen blocked the bridge with gabions 

I moved my brigade in via the road, directly at the enemy. The East Prussian Musketeers led the way followed by their grenadier battalion. I thought I would quickly break through and be in the town in time for lunch. But I discounted the bonus that infantry get in a "fortification", plus a column only has one attack. In retrospect, I should have used all of my cannons to blast a hole in the weak French line.

Meanwhile, Comrade Jason's Russians advanced toward a hamlet guarded by French Dragoons. They made quick work of the cavalry a' pied and he must have been thinking of making reservations with me at the local tavern.

The French facing Jason

My dragoons met yet more dragoons at the ford to the right of the bridge. The Leibhusaren were in support ready to ride down the spur and kill all who stood against the Prussian masses.

Marschall von Blücher watches as the French hold, and hold, and still hold; crushing each brigade that comes across the bridge, now slick with their brethren's blood. Men and horse flailing into the Bober like offal at a butcher's shop. Sorry, I was summoning my inner Bernard Cornwell.

Finally, after way too many turns stuck at the bridge, my cavalry broke though at the ford and made their way on a flank attack toward the bridge. Unfortunately for th Allies more French cavalry and about 10 reserve battalions of infantry (not pictured) were marching hell for leather down the road.

It was at this point that Jason and I conceded, vowing to give payback another day.

As I mentioned, our downfall was not using our artillery to our advantage. If I remember correctly, Jason finally did break the bridge defenders, but only after hammering them with cannon and howitzers, the latter of which I did not have any. We planned our next battle for two weeks from that day. A French Counterattack!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Black Powder German Campaign 1813

This past Saturday, we played a game of Black Powder at the LGS. We have been running  a campaign recently revolving around Leipzig. Our hopes are to do the Battle of Nations itself in the future. For this battle for an un-named village, my Prussians allied with Chris' Russians against Casey's and CJ's French. We played a modified version of the Penisular mission from the Black Powder rulebook.

We found enough terrain and tables to put together an 8x8. There was a dearth of tables due to a 40k tournament at the store. We made due. 

The French's view of the field, right side

French left

The Town that the Allis entered

Allied left, a swampy, semi- forested bog

The French line was at these two farms. They had to egress from the field across the pontoon bridge in the foreground, or the ford, which lies just past the hillock.

The French lined up, preparing to hold back the Allied advance. They had to withdraw a set amount of battalions to gain a victory.
My Prussians enter the village

Chris and I decided to overload the left flank with cavalry in hopes of cutting them off at the bridge- head. The infantry would push the center and right in hopes of holding-up the French in combats and giving the cavalry time.
Uhlans and Leibhusaren charge!!

Chris' Russians were fielded in small battalions to represent the years of fighting they had endured pushing the Emperor back.

Cavalry reserve of Dragoons and more Hussars

A Crapaud pillaging the pig sty. I hope that's all he's doing.

A small Russian garrison was in the manor in the left background. They blocked the bridge so that the French army had at least a speed bump and could not just waltz off the board.
 The bog held up the cavalry, preventing us from getting to our objective for about two turns.

"Advancing" in the opposite direction

The afore- mentioned speed bump

Finally the Leibhusaren and Uhlans were able to free their mounts from the bog and made contact with the Fench line, who of course formed square.

However, the dice being fickle, the Prussians were held up in the center for 2-3 turns. We played that Ney had a command of 9, all other commanders only 8. That extra one command value makes a huge difference. But me rolling 3 10s in a row didn't help either. The only center unit that kept up their advance was Chris' artillery. They did their job well.

This squadron charged with their officer's ferocious hound

French Dragoons counter- charged my Uhlans. Perhaps foolishly, since lancers get a bonus against them. The dragoons took a heavy hit and broke like the cowards they are!! This left two French lines facing 5-6 squadrons of Allied cavalry, including the bloot thirsty Cossacks.

Meanwhile, on the Allied right, the Russians were able to push through the village and make contact with the French, and took a pounding. Their artillery could not get their limbers moving and the infantry was stuck, uncovered for a few turns. In retrospect, we should have send a squadron or two of cavalry their way.

We used a few house rules this game. Most notably, muskets ranges were reduced to 12", thus the close ranges below. Artillery over 6 pdr were granted extended ranges. We have been toying around with adding more, but we hadn't played in so long that we kept it simple.

Marshal Ney, the bravest of the brave, rode over to a battalion, grabbed the colonel by his collar and screamed "Follow Me!!" in an effort to get some of these battalions moving across the bridge and off the table.

Finally, the Prussian center moved. The above French line was lying in wait, released a volley on my skirmishing fusiliers. But the Prussians would not be stopped. They could smell blood. They wanted a repeat of the Katzbach. If Marschall von Blücher could push the center, he might just have the French swimming back to Paris!

The Prussians broke right as well, in hopes of supporting their Russian brethren in the impending melee. Also, the Russian artillery got unbogged and was able to rake the French lines.

Ney has his backside exposed on the bridge. The Prussian and Russian cavalry had over taken the farmstead. The battle was at its crisis. If the French could get this battalion off, it would be a victory for them. We had to act now. I mentioned to Chris that we should fire a few cannon balls at Ney's bald head. He counter suggested that we charge instead; make a mad dash for the bridge and at least hold up that battalion and, hopefully, destroy it.
 Unfortunately, our time was up. CJ had to call the game in order to attend to family business. We decided that the French did not get enough units off and the next turn would most likely have ended with 3-4 more dead battalions. Possibly even Ney himself!
These last few shots are glamor shots of my recently painted Perry battalion. The First Musketeer Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, 1st Silesian.

All around it was a great game. Win, lose or draw Black Powder is fun. Plus it is an impressive sight to have 600-700 fully painted figures on one table. Especially when in the other room were hundreds, if not thousands of 40k figures, with a sad percentage not painted. 

We also decided we should play more, maybe once a month. So stay tuned for more reports. Plus I will put up pictures of the last two battles in our campaign. 'Til then...