The Napoleonic Wars, Field of Battle, 28mm
This week’s game was a continuation of our dabbling in Piquet – Field of Battle. So, it was very much a learning curve game, with Mally and I commanding the French on one side, while Sean and newcomer Graham played the Russians. It was loosely based on the Russian attack at Chashniki, on the northern flank of the Grand Armee during the Russian campaign. On one side you had Marshal Victor’s II Corps, while the Russians fielded an advanced guard under General Wittgenstein. Our game was meant to be part of that larger battle. We played it out on a fairly open 6×4 foot table, sprinkled with a few hills and small copses, and a wee village. The Russians were on the attack in this game, with Graham and Mally facing each other off on one side (the French left), while Sean and I matched off on the French right. Each side had roughly similar forces – eight battalions of infantry of various kinds, two regiments of light cavalry and a couple of gun batteries. When deploying, both sides opted to put their cavalry on one flank, facing each other. So, almost inevitably, that was where the battle would begin. Wargamers can’t resist cavalry charges…In our one the Russians opened with a Move card, with three move segments, and so raced across the table, taking Mally a bit by surprise. The first clash though, proved indecisive, as both sides had a unit forced back – the French hussars and the Russian ulhans. As the Russian infantry plodded forward and the French guns opened fire the two cavalry commanders paused to redress their ranks, recover from disorder, and then charge in again. The red markers in the picture above are our makeshift “Disorder” markers.The Russian advance was slow, and got even slower when a lucky hit from a Baden gun battery caused a Russian jaeger battalion to rout. Sean was actually doing this all in the French style, using his Russian Jaegers are skirmishers to screen the main advance. So, he halted again, to plug the gap on his left flank, to deploy his own guns, and to try to rally the fleeing jaegers.By then, the cavalry battle had begun again. The two hussar regiments clashed again, with the French at a slight disadvantage as they were still disordered. Surprisingly they drove off the Russian Marioupol hussars. If they hadn’t, then the Russian horsemen could have hit the flank of Mally’s infantry line, or the French lancers, and caused carnage. Hurrah for the “Duellist” Colonel Ferraud and his 7th Hussars! That bought Mally the time he needed to refuse his flank, and move his lancers out of danger.The action now switched to the centre, as the Russian advance came within musket range of the French. Both sides had their line infantry in column, and their lights in skirmish line. In the opening clash the 25th Legere drove back their Russian counterparts from the 11th Jaegers, then began shooting into the advancing Russian columns. That though, wouldn’t last.Sure enough, my skirmish line was driven in as the Russian steamroller plodded forward. That meant my best French unit had now retired to the back of my line. Still, at least that cleared the way for the attack columns of both sides to get stuck in. Six battalion-sized Russian columns were poised to charge home! I was a little surprised then, being a Field of Battle newbie, that my French columns had a reasonable degree of firepower. So, they shot into the Russians as they advanced to contact, and disordered their two leading battalions. That though, was just the warm-up. It wasn’t enough to stop the clash, but it did give me a little edge in the melee, and so the two leading battalions were thrown back.There were plenty more of them though, as Sean had done a great job of concentrating six battalions at the key point. I only had three in the same patch of the battlefield. So, he came in again, and this time even managed to add supporting units to his main assault. The attackers though, were shot up as they came in, partly by the French guns, and this time the attacking battalions routed. By now, the Russian “Army Morale” was down to Zero. Both sides started at around 6-18, and you lose one morale point every time you lose a Unit Integrity (UI) point. Typically, a battalion has 4 UIs. So the army morale tracks casualties. While in Field of Battle reaching Zero doesn’t end the game. Instead you have to wait until an Army Morale card is pulled, and then roll to see what happens. So, we played for a little longer, to see how things would pan out. In the end the Russians never pulled out an Army Morale card, but both sides suffered a few more casualties from musket and artillery fire. It was clear though, that the Russian assault had been comprehensively repulsed, and so the game was declared a French win. To underline the point, on the last segment Mally’s 2nd lancers charged their disordered Russian counterparts – the Polish Ulhan regiment – and broke them completely. So, that just goes to show that fancy uniforms, lots of red braid and sharp pointy sticks don’t necessarily help you win battles!