Saturday, November 2, 2013

Battle of 'Not Bautzen': The resolution

The final part of the fictional battle between a late returning Napoleon, and the Bourbon royalist army (semi historically based on the battle of Bautzen). Previous entries are the setup, the left flank, the engagement of the pinning forces.

All along the battle lines the Bonapartists have crossed the river and engaged the Royal army. The royal left flank has sputtered out to no further action, but on the right flank (to the north) Napoleon is expected any turn now, and the reserves have already started moving forward to attempt to contain the Bonapartist surge across the river.

Left is Napoleons force, the Right the Royalists. North is at top were Napoleon should be showing up anytime now.....

Looking down the board the opposite direction. The Bonapartists have a fairly easy go on the Royalist right (bottom of the pick). There's not a lot of strength left in the units facing them.

Unfortunately, the Royalist reserve is now moving forward to reinforce this flank.
Brunswichs hussars are at 1 strength. As is the infantry beside them. The second infantry unit by the stream has been a victim of it's own success. They destroyed a unit and now face cavalry to their front. They will go into square, but they will easily be flanked and destroyed.

The Royalist artillery in the gabions is attempting to reduce the enemy artillery to 1 pip. At this point it will be largely toothless against most enemies.......most effective at cleaning up almost depleted units.
Back in the centre of the table the Cuirassier of Napoleon go in to make some headway. A full strength horse battery on the left has been giving them grief for some time, and the lead royalist cavalry has already been damaged a bit (at 2 vs a 4 for the veteran attackers).
Here I've learned that artillery at lose a battle end up going poof. I had decent chances of bouncing the cuirassier (grapeshot bonus!), but failed miserably. Actually, it's more accurate to say that Doug rolled very well. Eek. Now there is a lot more space for advancement in the centre. In the background you can see the Attackers reserve trying to move by the village and starting to set up a 2 vs 1 attack on it.

At this point there was some talk about whether anything should happen should enemy contact a leader marker. I suggested that perhaps like warmaster, a leader would retreat to a specific unit nearby.

Doug thought perhaps this would nullify the command radius for a turn to represent the wild flight from the enemy. Orders are still possible outside of command distance.....just cost double.

On the left flank things are still relatively quiet. The last infantry unit is pulling back across the stream under desultory cannon fire.

The cuirrasier between the buildings/villages are stuck as they need to cover this approach, and are now out of command range (on the cav corp in the middle). The pips of the cav corp have been miserable for a few turns, and are needed to face the big push from Napoleon's crack cavalry troops.

Napoleon's reserve is composed of mostly green militia (2 strength) and 2 units of naval marines (4 strength). Doug has decided this village must be cleared.....which is always a tough proposition.

In most games I've seen the villages often get attacked for no good reason. It's in my way is not super true at this scale. In this particular case it was certainly worth a go. 2 vs 1 can quickly make a unit disappear.....but if the defenders roll well it can be bloody for the attacker.

Back on the right flank we can see the Royalist reserve is rapidly approaching the conflict. Very large commands gain pip bonuses and this was useful for marching into position.

The horse battery on the downhill slope has been well positioned all game (and mostly only useful for a breakthrough of flank attack on this side).

Also of note is the black cube on the infantry facing the hussars in the top right quadrant. This is the token that shows the unit gone to square. Those poor bastards are actually in cannon arc (just), and won't be flanked by infantry and destroyed.....they'll be grapeshotted.

A blurry, but rarely seen perspective. This is the far right royalist flank. The Brunswick command has occupied a village, and set up to slow Napoleon's flank attack. A horse battery sits in the gabion. They spent their hussars early in the battle to contest the river crossing, but it was a good use of their pips which otherwise would have gone to waste.

The reserve command can be seen marching between the two gabions, and pivoting towards the stream. Some veteran units have held back to create a second line of defence, should Napoleon present strongly and roll up the flank of the reserve now engaging the troops across the stream. The fear was that now their flank was presented they'd be cat food, or that Napoleon would show up East (below) the village and march right through Brunswick without pausing.
A brief pause from our sponsor Doug. These are his kickass eye candy figures. Perry plastics largely.

The village assault goes in. Unfortunately the defenders roll max on their die. The defenders in a multi-element assault keep their result, while attackers each roll. This gives a better chance for defenders to go poof (as 50% of the rolls are 0), but also gives the opportunity for variable numbers of the attackers to win or lose. It's not a binary result.

The veteran naval marine attackers bounce off the tenacious village defense.

Top and side, the cavalry corp have ground themselves down quite heavily. While the royalists might edge out Napoleon's horse in numbers, they are of worse quality, and have less strength at this point.

The gap that has opened is allowing infantry to pour forward in the centre. Could it be the breakthrough that is much needed?

Alas no. A huge command of infantry is surging forward over the hill in the fore ground. 6 infantry units, plus the foot battery that has caused so much grief to the bridge crossing are entering action.

The Royalist second reserve is at least committed and should easily stabilize the line. No reserves are left however, which is when Napoleon historically made this biggest Victories. Where is he?

Right flank we see the first wave of the Royal reserve fighting recently crossed infantry. It's a straight up 2 vs 2 battle.

It doesn't go well, and I learn again (to my detriment) that on a 2 vs 2 battle, as soon as it turns to a 2vs1 there will be a flank.

Good thing there are another 2 waves from the reserve left.
Brunswicks line, bolstered by the veterans in the Reserve.

A thin blue/black line to hold back the guard.....when they show. Geez. What did you actually end up rolling for arrival time Doug?

Answer: 10 on 2d6. 5 hours into the battle (plus a few initial turns) Napoleon arrives on the flank.
He immediately eyes the situation and sees it will not be the great victory he needs to defeat the Royalist army.

Given that I had my own bridge and stream battle to fight (I needed to face against commuter traffic to get home.....and I ended up faced a bit of a blood bath myself in construction terms) and the relatively strong position of the Royalist position we called the game.

I'm really enjoying this rule set. It's fun to see it change over time to improve the flow and experiment with adding flavour without costing too much time. All 3 big battles I've played in (and it seems like they are all big with this system) are fought to an obvious conclusion.

Each of the games I've played I've been a defender, which I recognize is a huge advantage. I'm glad to see extra pips getting generated, which I think will go a long way to helping even the attacker/defender mismatch to something more reasonable, and also it will speed the game. As long as periodically (when you roll low) there are hard choices to make about what to order.

With respect to this particular game I have to give Doug huge props. He gave me all the advantages. I was the defender, I had equal forces, I had battery emplacements and a stream to defend. I also knew that a flank force would show up (and which side!). I think the largest single advantage was setting up second and seeing how he deployed. A blinded deployment (either with a drawing or a curtain set up) would have made my job MUCH more challenging.

Doug fought the good fight, and he had terrible luck with his flankers arriving. It might be better to tighten the range of arrival to 2d4 or something.

To follow are some pics of the final battle field.

Above: Looking to the North. Royalists on the Right. The left/lower flank is denuded of troops. The villages are strongly held.

Above and Below: The center shows the remnants of the cavalry readying themselves for final charges. Royalists are definitely disadvantaged here with hussars (power of 3 vs cuirrasier power of 6). The Royalists reserve is arriving to the left and behind the hussars. Napoleon's artillery is in position to unleash on the Royalists (it was largely under utilized during the game......but using artillery on the offensive is very challenging).

Above and Below: The Right flank last line of defense. The Bonapartists are likely to clear out the 'loose change' ahead of this anchored line, but the guard flanking force still faces a lot of infantry and a few cannons. Tough sledding ahead.

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