Wednesday, 11 October 2017

General De Brigade: Battle of Craonne 1814

Hard to believe it's almost 3 years since we've had a game of General De Brigade, so we planned a two day game, with multiple Brigades of French unders Marshals Ney and Victor versus a predominantly Russian Force under Voronzow. Brett did a great job of setting up the board and the Brigades, and tweaking the rules slightly to give the game a semblance of random surprise. 

The historical overview

and a bit more, with random reserve and support. Essentially, Nansouty's cavalry brigade could be led by their local guides through the mountain and outflank the Russians 1st line and their supporting cavalry. Brett tweaked this to put the Russian Cavalry on Hold until the first French Cavalry came on.

We actually played on 10 by 6 for epicness...

The Russian forces essentially had to hold against the French onslaught, and had a good mix. Sadly, Voronzow rolled up as a Poor Commander in Chief, although Kniper and Laptiev were both excellent.

Ney rolled in as an Excellent commander in chief, and no other Generals were poor.

The French infantry and artillery forces of Ney (Right on the plateau) and Victor (in the valley). Nansouty's Cavalry aren't actually on the board, the will outflank out of the hills on the left.

The Russian 1st line to the fore, with the excellent Kniper holding the village (Built up Area just above the coffee), a 6 gun battery central with 3 Line infantry regiments on hold, and a 2nd line and conscript 2 unit brigade, which was ordered to support the village. The second line had another 6 gun battery, and 3 solid line regiments, as well as a two units reserve force, which was ordered to advance onto the plateau and hold the plateau behind the village. The 2 cavalry regiments are on hold ready to support the centre and counter any French shenanigans.

Overview of the battlefield. Vincent rolled to command the French, assuming the rolls of Nansouty (loves his cavalry) and Victor. Brett took Ney while due to attrition, Von Steve and Krosbyev couldn't make it and I landed the whole Russian command. (apologies if I err later, but Ive already corrected my typing of "Soviet" 3 times instead of Russian)

A close up of the Russian forces 1st line of defence

The second line of Russians

The French objective is to force the Russians out of the village and off the ridgeline/plateau, and take the farm too. Essentially force the Russians from the field.

The French advance on turn 1, with a heavy force of skirmishers at the van... (I elected not to deploy to many skirmishers as I needed ranks to resist the columns charging forward that was bound to occur)

The French on the valley floor also advance with skirmishers and an artillery battery on the plateau

The Russians are in good order awaiting the French, occupying the farm. The two central regiments at the rear of the battery will move up to support the village.

The cavalry graze awaiting a French target of opportunity

The French advance, no longer a Grande Armee in 1814, but still potent in numbers

Battle commences, with skirmishers firing into the village...

The Russians take cover and do not return fire, as the lead French columns get set to assault next turn

The Russian artillery make little impact on the skirmishing French vanguard

The valley plain is quiet, a far cry from what it will look like in a few hours...

The French strike, two columns charging the village. However, having held fire the Russians open up and inflict casualties, causing one column to falter...

While the charge at the village distracts the Russians, the local guides provide Nansouty's cavalry with the perfect path onto the plain, with elite heavy dragoons threatening the Russian second line. A second regiment of light hussars assist to fend off the Russian cavalry.

Simply put, that's what I call being totally outflanked!!!

Kniper leads the village defence with two line regiments, while a veteran jager unit fends off the French skirmishers

Even at canister range, the skirmishing French are taking little damage and shielding their columns behind

The single assaulting column off French are soundly beaten back.

However, Ney is determined to push forward and has the manpower to press on

The Soviet cavalry turn to face Nansouty's cavalry, further reinforced with elite lancers. While one line regiment forms square, the second fails twice to reform and flees from the Empress dragoons

Voronzow addresses his staff, wondering what's for lunch as the French cavalry runs riot in his rear

Light line French cavalry clash against the Russian Cossacks 

Having fled from the French cavalry, the guns are caught cold as Nansouty leads the charge. The Russian cannon are dispersed and flee the field

Rudinger's 2nd line brigade have advanced onto the plateau behind the village. Good job or they would have been over run by French cavalry by now.

The French skirmishers are taking casualties from canister, and between the battery and village, two Russian columns have swung round to face off the French behind their skirmishing screen. The Russian units are 2nd line and conscript, but there are 3 fresh line units behind the guns in support
Vicotrs guns do little damage at long range, as the Pavlovar Hussa  Russian cavalry reposition to fend off the French horse

Ney on the plateau line up two columns to assault the village and Victor lines to up to assault from the valley floor. A third column on the plateau  assault the jager veterans to the left of the village

The first cavalry clash results in a decisive French victory, forcing the Cossacks to rout but the Hussars are blown and retire to the board edge to regroup.

The French column to the left of the village are forced to stop their assault due to the tenacious defensive volley from the Jager veterans

The Russians have stopped the assault, and are in a good position for turn 5 to assault if only they can win the initiative for the first time.

The guns disperse under a ferocious cavalry assault, but the French blow themselves out and return to their edge to regroup

The village is the key to the plateau, and 4 French columns are poised to strike.

Allez, the French continue to win the initiative and charge the village. Having halted the French unit to the left of the village with volley fire, the Jagers assault them to threaten the French assault columns flanks

Knipers two columns in the village unleash a fearsome volley, rolling a double six. All 4 French columns have to roll an effect, resulting in 3 of the columns faltering. More importantly, both Ney and Victor, and Curial and Boyer had attached themselves to columns to press home the troops. So, risk to general rolls were required. Both the Commander in Chiefs, Ney and Victor were merely wounded and retired to the rear to be patched up. Curial panicked, and fled the field in ignominy, only to be court martialled and shot in front of the troops the following day, while Boyer died a valiant death leading the troops. It simply couldn't have gone any worse for the French, as a sole column hits home form four. And last time out, they faired very badly!

Curial (under Brett's command) gets what he deserves, and even Vincent enjoyed that...

The Palvovar Hussars clash with the French lancers, coming off second best but not too badly.

Having left the guns to their fate, the Petrosk regiment flees further but Laptiev is excellent and keeps order. The other Petrosk regt stays in square, and the Lithuania regt stay put in the farm

Both initial French cavalry regiments reform and look for fresh victims
The village is a real hot spot

Rudinger's lads enjoy the view, awaiting the coming storm

Deja Vu... A lone French column, its command structure taken out, forlornly charges home

An overview of the field, from the French and the Russian 1st defence line

The Jager veterans slam into the stalled French column

The battle rages...

MON DIEU!!! The single French column succeeds beyond all hope, driving twice as many Russians out of the village and into a retreat. Furthermore, the veterans fail to hurt the French column, and also retreat...

Seeing so many generals getting hit obviously instilled a bitter enmity and rage, as the column drives into the village

Kaptiev rallys his forces at the farm

The Elite French lancers rout the Russian Hussars, in a thoroughly awful turn of melee for the Russians

Had to take another picture, just to make sure it really happened!

It cannot be!!! Having just caused the death of two French Generals, and wounding two Marshalls of France, Knipers brigade that was retreating and still in relatively good shape rolled 3 unit moral checks, resulting in two dispersals and forcing a brigade moral check which they failed... My left flank was in tatters! And French cavalry roamed the plains... 


Fortunately, Austrian reinforcements arrived to try and stiffen the Russian left

The reserve cavalry unit had sped up the valley, and burst through to assault the guns, as a column charged the faltering conscripts below the village to the left of the battery

However, a supporting infantry square managed to shoot the horse from their general, and though he remounted, the charge faltered.

Unable to receive the charge from the Provisional Young Guard, the Tomsk regt routs. The Young Guard faltered as they tried to change their charge into the battery. Victor (Vincent) wasn't happy, but still, he was having fun with his cavalry elsewhere...

Faltering charges in front of the guns... Nice!!!

However, with his refreshed horses repositioned, Mansouty (Vincent) deployed his cavalry to threaten the battery and infantry in the first Russian defence line...

The Tomsk regt disperse, as the village is firmly secured by the French

While the Lancers charge the supporting square, the light Hussars charge the flank of the battery and thoroughly rout and disperse the 1st line battery

The Oufa regt get hit hard, but in square the Lancers cant break them

The Russian Hussars cant manouvre in the valley as the Russian troops redeploy on the plateau, so valiabtly head to face off the Empress Dragoons. One Pavlosk regt forms square near the Oufa square, while the second tries to force the village and is rebutted

The village is held by the French, and Rudingers brigade hold the plateau awaiting the Austrian reinforcements. The remnants of Poulters brigade retreats to behind the farm.

Russian cavalry and a third battery arrive,  but are cautious given the cavalry toing and froing ahead

As the Russians finally win initiative, the Russian Hussars charge the French Dragoons, but fluff their roll to press home, and falters in front of them, allowing the French charge into melee...

As the 2nd Chrivan regt falters due to fire from the village above, the skirmishers thread their way through the wrecked guns

From the heights, two French batteries pummel the Russian squares with line infantry support. The Russian 1st defence line valiantly hold, as they are surrounded

Having lost command temporarily due to his wounds, the French carry on assaulting the Russians, leaving the village and again the skirmishes begin. The remnants of the first French columns stay put in the village

As French cavalry roam free, the French infantry in line assault a weakened  Russian square

Despite their column faltering, they valiant Russians halt the charging French column...

The Russians have been forced back on the plateau, and are in trouble on the plains but they are adjusting the second line. However, more French are streaming up the valley

So much happening elsewhere, we come to another cavalry melee. The Russians haven't won one yet, and this is going to hurt

Both squares open up on the charging line of French conscripts (yes, conscripts)... but they still press home!

The French light cavalry (Lancers and Hussars) are reformed and ready to go again (for the third time...)

The conscripted French have their generals horse taken from under him but it doesn't stop the routing the depleted Oufa regt

Additionally, the Russian Hussars are routed on the field by the French cavalry

The Neva conscripts under Rudinger try to assault the French line coming out the village, but its a disaster and they rout from the firepower, as the Oufa regt retreat, leaving the two CHrivan regts totally surrounded.

The first French columns arrive to hit the Austrians, as the 2nd Neva and Rudinger form square

The Young guard try and assault the Chirvan regt again, which they do.

The 1st Chirvan take fire from the artillery on the heights and line infantry. As more French columns form up ready to assault.

Mansouty's Dragoons reform where they are, dominating the plain, as the light cavalry ride up in support

French artillery dominate the field from height, decimating the sole Russian square in their 1st defence line.

The French numbers are brought to the fore...

To the left of the abandoned gun, the Chirvan regt loses melee and is forced to retreat. But with, French forces to their rear, they surrended...

Nansouty's Empress Dragoons ride down the fleeing  Neva regiment, but fail to reach the Neva square on the hill. 

The Oufa regt find space behind the farm, but they are seriously depleted and routing. The Russian Hussars have already fled the field, as Nansouty goes hunting...

Pummelled from the heights by artillery, and muskets to their flanks, the last Chirvan square falters when charged by French column.

The French are all over the second line, even if the Chrivan square is still in the first line.

The Austrians are in good fettle, but have had one regiment form square as they doubt the Conscripts of the Neva regt will hold against Nansouty

The French Guard are marching up the valley, as Victors men confidently march past the Chirvan square

The French dragoons have 3 squares to their front, but they are poor quality. Voroznow and his staff have retreated back behind the farm...

While occupying the farm with good quality troops, and having cavalry and square screen the artillery looks good, the valley is littered with Russian dead.

And with heavy French Guard and and 8 gun guard battery coming up the valley, while those guns on the height can hit the conscript squares on the plateau, the Russians simply cannot hold...

The last element of the first defence line rout but have nowhere to run as they are totally surrounded

As the Austrians are engaged on the plateau, the Russians fall back off the field. 

Well that was simply an awesome game!!! Many thanks to my opponents Brett, for his hospitality and wonderful figures, and Vincent for his galloping enthusiasm... They took the loss of their generals well, and didn't laugh to much when my forces dissipated.

Historically, the French cavalry swept away the Russian cavalry and charged the guns but got badly beaten up. The French won the day through numbers but the Russians retreated in good order.

Alas, I couldn't as despite some great dice, they turned savagely and I lost my best brigade on my left flank. The French cavalry didn't lose a melee, and took out two cavalry units, 2 6 gun batteries, 2 infantry units and also routed 2 without engaging... As well as just looking impressive. While the Chirvans held magnificently in the first defence line, they were simply swamped. The French reserves didn't come into play, but had they, the Russians would have been pummelled from the heights by mass cannons. With their cavalry running amok, the Russians would have not lasted long. The Austrians were added to assist the flank but never came into play much. If they hadn't shown up, the French would have swept the conscript Neva regts off the plateau and been lunching at the farm in short order.

Already looking forward to our next game, a segment of Waterloo, "D'Erlons attack"...


  1. Hi Brian,
    great to see you still playing GdB and the collections expanding/ Everything is looking very pretty, right up my street.
    This might just get me writing again...
    Best wishes,

  2. Thanks Jeremy,

    Hope to get another one in this year, or early next...