Sunday, October 27, 2013

Battle of 'Not Bautzen'. The set up (part 1)

Doug and Seth continue to develop their fast play convention rule set for Napoleonics. I was invited to help Doug play out a game to see how some changes were working, and to offer up my 2 cents. I rather like these games, it's very easy to grok how the system works, and the player gets to focus on big picture planning. For  bit more of a rule preamble (and the battle of Montereau), see HERE.

We played a fairly large game with 6 commands on each side. Normally that would involve 4 - 6 players on each side (you can dole out the reserve to players who have smashed their forces earlier in the game), but we did it with the 2 of us. Given that we were chatting quite a bit as well, I think it's safe to say we took 50-100% longer than a new group to the table would take.....and we were finishing turns less than 30 minutes per. A turn in the game is set around 30 minutes as well.

Friends can't infringe within the template, or block firing
Notably the changes to the rules this time were:
1/. No road effects (this didn't work as they liked last time)
2/. Artillery: Artillery was far too effective last time, and sniping down narrow alleys (that would be me). At the suggestion of another player, the artillery went to a template. The template requires that friendly units don't crowd the artillery unit too much, and that friendly units can't be in a given field of fire earlier than the enemy (a straight forward, left or right). I thought these rules actually worked out quite well to nerf the artillery a bit, and make proper siting for your batteries a more thought out procedure.
3/. Artillery corp commanders get extra pips. Given that it's way more difficult to move artillery, a command with just artillery will not be able to move anything effectively. They are given extra pips to allow for being able to move all their elements if they roll a 6 on their command die (this puts them in line with what other commands can do).

Edits during the game:
1/. Attacker gains extra pips. I had suggested to Doug that attackers should get some bonus pips to allow them to move all their forces forward more reliably. Call it an operational offensive tempo or something. But it certainly seemed a problem for attackers in the past, and makes for a slower game if they can't minimally shuffle everything forward in a straight line half of the time.

Starting with turn 3 Doug upped his commanders bu 2 pips a turn, (and that was the minimum bonus even if they lost lots of units), and this seemed to dramatically pick up the tempo of the game. Doug suggested that the defender should be granted the same bonus, with the thought that it's more simple, allows the defender to counter attack as desired, and the defender is unlikely to use/benefit from the extra pips much. I think it's a very sensible idea.

Enough talk! To the battle!

Bonapartists on the left, Royals on the Right.
A what if battled modeled on Bautzen. Napoleon has returned from Elba a year later, the french army splits with royalist units as well as bonapartists. Blucher and Brunswick march to the assistance of the Bourbon monarchy as Napoleon establishes his resurgent kingdom. A better writeup for the background is seen on Dougs blog here.

The Bonapartists are attacking across an easily fordable stream/rover. The intend is to pin the allies while the guard swings in from the North (Royalist right) to hit them in the flank. The Royalists have a few redoubts they can choose to occupy. The Royalist player (me!) was given a blank slate to set up in while seeing the Bonapartist forces (in hindsight a too powerful bonus. I suppose my scouts had access to satellite imagery).

Brunswick Holding the Right flank. One reserve behind the hill
I chose to hold my 2 largest forces in reserve, as the bonus pips large commands receive would help them get into position quickly when I needed it. The 3 small smallest commands were set up to hold likely locations (Brunswick on the right flank holding 2 villages and a gabion), a small force on the Centre right holding a gabion and hill, and the far left held 2 villages. The cavalry forces set up across from each other setting the stage for epic cavalry on cavalry action across a bridge (except I had cannon support on my side).

 The left flank is seen to the right. Both buildings (towns) have been occupied. The foot artillery is well placed to cover the stream, while just out of range of the enemy cannon on the opposite side.

 The cavalry command has it's horse gunners covering the bridge (off the page to the left), and 4 units facing the bridge (cuirassier x2 and then hussars).  2 units of cuirassier are on the hill facing the left flank, in case the Bonapartists are able to carry that flank. It costs 1 pip to move forward, but 2 pips to move and it behooves one to place your units in the direction you expect to move. It makes sense that rotating a huge body of troops would take time and effort.

To the top right you can see the second reserve, ready to reinforce the centre should it collapse.

 The centre right shows the gabion occupied by foot artillery, flanked by 2 sets of infantry. I fully expected this command to be destroyed quickly. The reserves are just to the left, and their horse cannon has been placed to help cover the gabion. It is also facing the expected direction the Napoleon flanking force will arrive from.

Get your guns in place early people.

 The first reserve, positioned to advance against arriving guard. They also are reasonably well placed to reinforce the two small commands holding the right flank (I say reasonably becuase they would need to pivot to hold the gabion and the hill).

Stolen from Dougs blog

Nice panoramic shot of the start above. We see the cav vs cav fight set to go. The Bonapartists face a tough go here. Nearly equal numbers, on the attack, and with a (minor barrier) stream in the way.

 Their primary consolation (as historically in many cases) was a flanking force that should arrive.....any time now.
As the defender I was warned that a force was expected from the North.....but neither of us had any good idea when that would occur (i.e. random dice roll).

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