Thursday, 20 November 2014

Napoleon's Battles Game at the NWS

Last Wednesday, amongst a host of other games being played at the NWS, we had a game of Napoleon's Battles and Mark B has provided the following excellent photographs of the game.  He was playing the Prussians (von Thielemann) and Stephen N the French (Marshall Grouchy).

Background to the game and some commentary can be found in this post about the hypothetical Battle of Ottignies 18 June 1815, basically a small scenario around the idea of what if Grouchy had marched to the sound of the gun?

Excelman's 2nd Cavalry Corps has deployed on the left with the six brigades of Vandamme's II Corps arrayed so that their right rests on the village of Ottignies on the River Dyle (the river forms the eastern border of the battlefield and was not depicted).  One brigade is held in reserve.

Thielemann has deployed the III Corps with von Hobe's cavalry on his right, ready to react against the French.  Stulpnagel's three regiments are held in reserve while the six other regiments are ready to contest the low rise.

The French move first and move in force on to the rise, passing the crest and staring down at the Prussians.  Grouchy knows that holding this position will allow Gerard's IV Corps to slip round behind and march to the Emperor's great battle.  It is 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

The Prussians out number the French and with their extra artillery should get the better in any long range fire fight.  The French generals are very prominent and they know the future of France rests on their shoulders. 

Initial long range fire has been limited in its effect.  One of the Prussian batteries has been damaged and disordered.

The long range fighting continues and still few casualties are caused, however the French brigade on their extreme right is now disordered and worryingly for the Prussians one of their central regiments has also become disordered (which until it recovers means no shooting and a -3 penalty on any close combat - but will the French close?)

Four thirty and everything happens.  The French have launched four attacks, each lead by a general, only the disordered brigade is held back on their right.  On their left the French brigade which was in reserve has come up to cover the left flank.  In turn it has been charged by the Prussian cavalry who see an advantage while their foe is distracted attacking a battery.  In order to seal this advantage the remaining Prussian cavalry have launched themselves at the French cavalry that could have interdicted.  Frustrating the French, Excelmann had failed his command roll which meant his second small cavalry division wasn't able to participate.

Grouchy is watching the horror as the Uhlans plough into the unprotected French infantry of the Lefol's 8th Division, who are unable to form square due to their commitment to carrying the enemy battery to their front.

A carefully posed hand to give reference to the games 15mm scale.  Note also the supply of free roll markers, three for each side, carefully stacked with the commander's base.

The French were victorious on their right were the 2nd Brigade of Berthezene's 11th Division and the 2nd Brigade of Habert's 10th Division, lead by Vandamme himself, have either routed or forced the withdrawal of the Prussians.  Vandamme can be seen waving his hat in an encouraging way. 

Judicious use of a free roll turned a French success to a push back for the other brigade of the 10th Division and a free roll had also ensured success for the Prussian Uhlans who had subsequently successfully maintained control to then go on and run down the routed enemy of the French 8th Division and also take out the French II Corps 12pdr battery, even threatening Grouchy himself, who was forced to make a dash for safety.

Lefol's other brigade of his 8th Division had been more successful, but suffered significant casualties.  It is one off dispersing and is faced by two Prussian batteries.

It is now five o'clock.  Excelmann's cavalry has been active and the Prussian cavalry is all but wasted.
The lead brigade of the French llth Division is feeling a little isolated.  The French 8th Division has dispersed and Vandamme's subsequent attack met with disaster even after the frantic use of French free roll markers.  The wind had gone out of his hat. 

If Vandamme can't rally his troops his corps will be fatigued.  Around half of the Prussian brigades are fatigued, but their reserve is still serviceable, although its foray onto the slope is subject to accurate artillery fire from Excelmann's horse artillery (previously seen using the artillery fire template to pick out their target).

And there we left the game.

We had played three turns out of a possible eight.  Gerard would have got round, but of course, he would have needed to start his march in the early morning, not midday, in order to influence the Battle of Waterloo.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

WoG 5 November 2014 - Get your filthy hands off my Bosphorus

Photos and brief commentary by Mark B. My post can be found here:

 Evil Von Haughey sends a future British Ace into the drink.
 Traumatised by the destruction of his flight, the future Ace vows revenge.
 Death to the Hun!
 The Marge Simpson smoke looks fantastic!
 An enjoyable night!

More photos from Black Powder game of 29 October

Some additional photos from Mark B.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Chaeronea - The Battle under Field of Glory

The battle under Field of Glory  2.0 from the NWS Battle Day 8 November.

Order of Battle

2 * Troop commanders
3 * 8 Hoplites                                       HF          Protected               Av           Undrilled                Off Sp
2 * 6 Hoplites                                       HF          Protected               Av           Undrilled                Off Sp
1 * 8 Javelinmen                                 LF           Unprotected          Poor        Undrilled                Jav/LS
1 * 6 Bowmen                                      LF           Unprotected          Av           Undrilled                Bow

Minor States
1 * Field Commander
3 * 8 Hoplites                                       HF          Protected               Av           Drilled                    Off Sp
2 * 6 Hoplites                                       HF          Protected               Av           Drilled                    Off Sp
1 * 6 Cavalry                                       Cav        Armoued               Av           Undrilled                LS/Sw

1 * Field Commander
1 * Troop commander
5 * 8 Hoplites                                       HF          Protected               Av           Drilled                    Off Sp
1 * 6 Hoplites                                       HF          Armoured              Sup         Drilled                    Off Sp
1 * 8 Javelinmen                                 LF           Unprotected          Poor        Undrilled                Jav/LS
1 * 6 Bowmen                                      LF           Unprotected          Av           Undrilled                Bow

2 * Inspired Commanders
2 * Field Commanders
2 * Troop Commanders
1 * 6 Companions                               Cav        Armoured              Elite        Drilled                    Lance/Sw
1 * 6 Thessalians                                 Cav        Armoured              Sup         Drilled                    LS/Sw
1 * 4 Prodomoi                                    LH          Unprotected          Av           Drilled                    Lance/Sw
2* 6 Hypaspists                                   HF          Armoured              Sup         Drilled                    Off Sp
2 * 12 Pikemen                                    HF          Protected               Av           Drilled                    Pike
8 * 9 Pikemen                                      HF          Protected               Av           Drilled                    Pike
1 * 8 Agrianians                                   LF           Unprotected          Sup         Undrilled                Jav/LS
1 * 8 Javelinmen                                 LF           Unprotected          Av           Undrilled                Jav/LS
1 * 6 Cretan archers                            LF           Unpotected           Sup         Drilled                    Bow

The Macedonians were commander by Mark Haughey (Philip), Geoff Marshall (Alexander) and Gerry Emmons (Parmenion). The Athenians were under the control of Stephen Bush, and the rest of the Greeks run by Andrew Card. (As one Greek commander was unable to make it on the day)

The Greeks set up with Athenians on the left on some high ground, with their flank abutting a difficult hill and skirmishers occupying the hilly ground. The Minor States were central and the Thebans on the right, their flank resting  on some marshy ground near the river. More skirmishers occupied the marsh. The Greek Hoplites were deployed 2-3 deep, 120 elements with a frontage of 44 elements.

The Macedonians deployed with  the Hypaspists  2 deep on the right under the command of Philip, with Agrianians up in the hills. To the left of Philip stretched the Phalanx, mainly 3 deep so as to match as much as possible the length of the Greek line. On the Macedonia left were the companion Cavalry and Prodomoi and the  rest of the skirmishers.

Deployment - the opposing armies from behind the Macedonian lines.

Victory conditions were such that both sides needed a decisive victory - the Macedonians so that they could move on quickly with their imperialistic agenda, the Greeks as it might prove difficult to keep the coalition forces together in the field long term.  Each Greek contingent could be broken separately.  If the Macedonians broke the Greeks, but lost both Philip and Alexander, it would be considered a strategic defeat.

The Macedonians opened by advancing their light infantry on both flanks and wheeling their main battle line to face off against the Greeks. 

The Macedonian skirmishers advance.

The Athenian skirmishers withdrew in the face of the Agrianian advance, while the Greek cavalry redeployed from the centre towards the right flank in case support was needed.

The retirement of the Athenian skirmishers allowed the Agrianians to try and tempt the Athenian hoplites off their hill. The Athenian hoplites indeed charged once without orders but then held firm. The rest of the  Greek battle line moved up to join them and the Athenian skirmishers recovered their courage and forced the Agrianians to withdraw after suffering minor casualties.

On the Macedonian left their skirmishers charged into fight against their Theban counterparts, relying on their superior quality to prevail. However first the javelinmen and then the Cretan archers were broken - The Thebans were victorious! Alexander intervened to rally the broken javelinmen.  Meanwhile, the main Macedonian phalanx was slowly advancing. 

The Macedonian Javelinmen flee.

But the work of the Agrianians had been crucial, as while the Athenians were still on their hill, they were now towards the front edge of the slope and any further forward movement meant they would be on the plain. The Macedonian phalanx rolled forward - into charge range of the Greeks.

These now faced a slight dilemma, they could try and hold their current position with their left flank uphill or they could charge the Macedonians on the plain. Holding was risky, as about 14 units  needed to pass complex move tests  or the Greek line would be broken up.  They charged!

The lines clash.

The factors were fairly even upon impact along most of the line. However, two of the Macedonians phalanxes had contracted frontage and formed 4 deep, giving them an advantage. The Hypaspists superior armour and training would give them an edge over time, but the Greek units had rear ranks which could take the place of any initial casualties, meaning they would keep their fighting factors for longer, whereas any Macedonian casualties would immediately result in  a loss of  points of advantage.  They also had the longer battle line, which they could exploit in an extended battle after clearing away the Macedonian light cavalry.

The initial charge went badly for the Greeks - they disrupted two phalanxes, but had 4 units disrupted themselves and in the subsequent melee a couple became fragmented.  In the Macedonian turn  things became even worse.  The Hypaspists, with Philip fighting in the front rank,  were making quick work of the Athenians , and at the other end of the line the Pikemen broke through the Theban line in two places.  Even where the Greeks were winning the combats the Macedonians resolutely continued to fight on with only limited cohesion losses.  

The Theban line starts to break.

It was all downhill now for the Greeks - The Athenians started to break under pressure from the Hypaspists, and the Greek Minor states also began to crumble. The Thebans had not had time to exploit their advantage on the Macedonian left. 


Theban hoplites did manage to break one phalanx, but that was the limit of Greek success. In a short time the Athenian and Minor states contingents were both routed in the same turn, and the Greek army was defeated on its cumulative losses. A complete and decisive victory for the Macedonians.  Presumably the Sacred Band would have stayed around to die heroically. 

Theban success 


Conclusion. The battle was over very quickly once the main clash started, much quicker than I had expected. The combat dice rolls were even enough , but the cohesion tests were vastly different. The Greeks failed often, and often catastrophically, going down two levels a time. The Macedonians generally held when they lost the fights. The one pike phalanx which broke did so due to accumulated casualties rather than due to cohesion. The Greeks may have had an advantage in  a long grinding fight, but it never became that. Where the Macedonians did have an advantage they were able to quickly overcome their opposition.  

The Macedonian command team.

So, an interesting and fun day for the first Battle Day of the NWS. 

Text and pictures supplied by Andrew Card.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Battle of San Domingo

Pictures from the camera phone of one of British Admirals (Stephen N) and a bit of commentary from one of the French Admirals (Mark H aka Sun of York).

Stephen and Mark participated in the game arranged by the ANF to test out the Signal Close Action rules, using the Sails of Glory models.

For some more background check this post:

The five French ships at anchor outside the Port of Santo Domingo, 1806.  

The British approach in two divisions, line astern.

The French frigate reports the sighting of the British fleet.  Some 2mm buildings had originally been used to mark the town, but looked out of scale compared with the 1/1000th Sails of Glory models. 

The French Admiral quickly finishes his business, hitches up his breeches and heads for his long boat.

The British out number the French in quantity and quality.  They also have the wind.

The French are still trying to weigh anchor, hampered by the strong wind as the British come within range.

Only the centre French ship has managed to get underway.

The French flagship, Imperial, patiently waiting for its admiral.

Here he comes

Almost there.

The Imperial is a 120 gun ship and has significant fighting advantage over the British ships, but not when it comes to crew quality.

Hoist me aboard!

A fire starts of the Imperial.

It burns!

Maybe the Admiral is having second thoughts?

Fire is doused and one of the British ships catches fire instead.

The Imperial is surrounded.

At game's end, two French ships were definite captures, two were making a slow escape while the Imperial fought on.