Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Eggmuhl: First game of General de Brigade

A brief report on my first battle of General de brigade, fought on a 7.5ft by 6ft.

This was played 08.02.12, and is written from memory, so might not be 100% correct. I took the role of French CinC, with one brigade at my disposal and the artillery, Brett (whose figures, table and tea we used) took control of the rest of the French. Vincent (who took the pictures) took charge of the whole Austrian force. It was our first game, so we took our time and explored the rules and our plans openly.

The game was a historical re enactment of part of the 1809 Battle of Eggmuhl, where the Austrians had invaded Bavaria, and the French went and gave them a bloody good kicking. The forces consisted of an excellent French commander v a poor Austrian one. The Austrian forces occupied 2 villages with a wooded hill overlooking a plain between them. The objectives were for the French to shift the Austrians from the villages and the wooded hill, the Austrians were to prevent this happening.
The Austrians had 5 active brigades, consisting of a single cavalry brigade with one unit, and 4 infantry brigades of at least 3 units of infantry, 2 with artillery (3 guns) attached. They were generally 2nd line, with a few line units, line artillery and veteran cavalry. They had 2 poor Brigade generals (who run each brigade), and 3 average

The French had 5 Brigades, consisting of an elite light infantry brigade of 2 elite light infantry units, a brigade of 4 infantry units (2 elite/2 line), another of 2 veteran/2 line and an artillery brigade of a 4 gun unit in a brigade of its own. Oh, and a reserve of one 2nd line brigade of one unit. The French had an excellent Brigade General and rest were average.

To begin with the Austrians were pretty set up in defence, and the French CinC (Moi) had to issue order to the French Brigades. (And can attempt to change them later if need be, which is not easy)

So I ordered Brett to use his large brigade to storm the Austrian left (our right), taking the village and up and flank them on the hill. The elite light infantry was to charge our centre right, in the face of 2 cannon batteries, to pin the Austrian Centre and support the right thrust. My brigade would attack the village on the Austrian right (our left) and occupy the only unit of cavalry. As we marched forwards, eagles blazing in the sunshine, Vincent thought it would be a good idea to hold fast with all his infantry, and send his cavalry out to harass me brigade.
The charge went in against my extreme right unit, I took it and although Vincent rolled well (11 on 2d6), I rolled better Double 6. As Vincent had put his general in the front rank, any double I rolled would put his general at risk...However, he was saved by a big pocket watch which turned the blow aside. The various modifiers meant that the cavalry charge had forced my infantry to retreat, but the cavalry were spent, and had to retire to their lines to regroup, so I had little to fear for a few turns. Onto the villages...

As the French brigades approached the villages, our artillery exchanged shots but we realised that long range counter battery was very ineffectual, so we quickly switched to the French targeting the retreating cavalry, the Austrians the nice big French columns...
As the French columns neared the village, Brett's tactical understanding of the rules showed as he had deployed in echelon, where as I preferred the massed column approach. As we charged the villages, the 2nd line Austrian defenders did little against Brett's elite units in their tactical formation, allowing him to charge home with his general in the fore and overwhelm the defenders in short order. However, on the French left the 2nd line Austrians troops savaged my columns, Vincent rolling a double six on his defensive fire (A double six means that a general within 9 inches has to roll on the "At risk table", even though my general had opted not to lead home the charge...) And I rolled a double one, meaning my brigade general had pooped his pants and done a runner, only to be caught and executed in front of his men the following morning for gross dereliction of duty.

I should think so too...This proved disastrous, as both my charging units failed to charge home, one faltering and standing still while the Austrians reloaded, the second actually retreating. To compound it, my brigade was disordered, unformed and had to take a Brigade morale test which they passed but I lost a unit. Our left flank had fallen back, and was ineffective as it was leaderless. The CinC dispatched a new officer, but it took time to get there as he was on the right flank supporting the main assault

And to make matters worse, Brett was reticent to send his elites down the throat of canister shot artillery, no doubt due to my tactical ineptness... Still, privilege of rank and all that, I said he couldn’t do any worse than me. And having taken the village with his big brigade, the Elite legere braved the canister volley and captured the guns, then followed up into the ridge line, forcing the Austrians back. The poor leadership of the Austrians showed over the next few turns, mainly because Vincent had to leave early and I took over the Austrians. (As Brett was doing well, and I had already fluffed my French units, I did what any good general would and legged it where the grass seemed greener)

The French left rallied and came back piecemeal, but couldn’t take the Austrian right. The Austrians had been severely routed on their left, and the centre was being hard pressed. The elite legere brigade had been beaten back by several volleys as they pressed on up the slope into repeated Austrian units, but had held the Austrian attention (and I couldn’t change my orders for the Austrian brigades as they were poorly led), so the French units from the village advanced relatively unscathed up upon the ridge, ignoring the shattered remnants of the broken brigade from the village as they skulked in some woods (To change their orders I'd need to roll a double six again ) and proceeded to roll at ease down the flanks of my poor infantry units. Brett’s front unit came thundering into my last remaining unharmed infantry column in the centre, with his excellent brigade general leading the way... and I rolled a double ...the result was that I captured his brigade general, but it didn’t stop my brigade from breaking...

We surveyed the seen, after an epic 10 hour struggle and pretty much agreed our inaugural battle had had a similar outcome as happened historically. Historically, the Austrian cavalry prevented the French from having a victory, as after the French had secured the villages, the Austrian Cavalry counter charging the French from the slopes, leaving the wooded high ground in Austrian hands. My pathetic attempts to oust the Austrians from the left village (from French lines) meant that couldn’t happened, but it was touch and go whether the Austrians could have held the wooded high ground much longer, as though they had 2 unscathed brigades left, one in the village and one on the Austrian right of the slopes, the French had momentum and a few undamaged quality units, where the Austrians couldn’t get the command rolls required to reface and get their numbers to bear. So we agreed a draw was the best we could probably achieve.

Anyways, excellent set of rules, simple game mechanics, no need for handfuls of dice, and the whole game hinges on command and control, formations, support and timing!!! Gonna need lots of practice to master the ideas of tactics, but at least I now have a far clearer idea of what I am doing

Thanks to Vincent and Brett for a great days gaming, and not laughing to much at my catastrophic command, they'll never believe some people regard me as being a little bit spawny when it comes to dice rolling..

1 comment:

  1. hi Brian, this is great stuff, keep it up! Saw you at Triple Helix I think at Fear Naught - we play our big games there, should sort out a bash one day.
    best wishes