The Napoleonic Wars, Shadow of the Eagles, 28mm
The idea of this little game came from a “tabletop teaser” published in an old copy of Battlegames magazine. Unusually the author wasn’t Charles S. grant, but his son Charlie. In this one, the 6×4 foot table was dominated by two small Russian hamlets and a farm. The aim of the game was to seize two out of three of them, and so deny them to the enemy. The idea was, a big battle was coming and these could be used as forward posts – a bit like Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte at Waterloo. In this game, both players had similar forces – an Advance Guard of two light infantry or grenadier battalions, a light cavalry regiment and a horse artillery battery. Following on behind were three more groups – a pair of three-battalion infantry brigades, and a two regiment cavalry brigade. One of the infantry brigades had an artillery battery attached. That was it, but to keep things interesting we rolled an average die when each brigade appeared – the roll being the number of turns until the next brigade appeared. Being 1812 this game involved the Russians, played by Nick and I, while our opponents were Gyles with his Saxons, bolstered by a few French units, and Sean. We began with Gyles and Nick’s Advanced Guards coming on. Both sides headed for Raisagrond, the central hamlet, with the small Saxon light infantry battalion sniping at the Russian horse artillery, and the Saxon grenadiers and French 7th Hussars holding off the Marioupol Hussars. Then Nick charged his hussars into the French ones, and pushed them back.It wasn’t long – two turns – before both sides brought on their next brigade – a Saxon cavalry one, and Russian infantry. This time both headed for Baluga Farm, on the Russian right flank. Although Nick’s jaegers went into square my infantry eschewed such tactical niceties and advanced in column, hemming in the Russians so they couldn’t deploy properly. The Saxons pulled back, as a brigade of Saxon infantry came on behind them. So, both sides gained a foothold in the farm, as the cavalry went looking for easier prey. Meanwhile the infantry settled down for a lengthy firefight, and the fight for the farm would run on for the rest of the game. Over in the centre Nick was getting brave, with his Marioupol hussars charging the Saxon grenadiers while a battalion of Russian jaegers charged through the hamlet to hit the Saxon light infantry in the flank. they turned to face the threat though, and the jaegers were repulsed. They pulled back to the north of Raisagrod, while the battered Saxons occupied the southern bit of the hamlet. That was when Sean launched his Saxon cavalry. Nick wasn’t expecting it, but the Russian jaegers managed to half-form an emergency square just as the Saxon cheveauxlegers swept into them. It was a tough fight but the cavalry were forced to retire. The Saxons also had the Zastrow cuirassier regiment, but Sean kept them in check, as otherwise they’d block his French horse artillery.This game was certainly ebbing and flowing nicely. The Saxon grenadiers hadn’t managed to form square in time, and were chopped up by the Marioupol Hussars. Nick’s jubilation was short-lived though, as the French 7th Hussars, having reformed and rallied for the last few turns, decided to return to the fight. They charged the Russian hussars in the flank, and swept them from the field. The French hussars had been “weakened” though, and so returned to the table edge to lick their wounds for the rest of the game. Over in the Russian left, the Saxon-French third brigade of reinforcements appeared, one Saxon and two French infantry battalions, which headed or the remaining hamlet of Stolli. The Russians had also brought their last infantry brigade on, and it was already in the buildings. So, the French would probably have a fight on their hands. That of course, was when the Russian cavalry appeared.Sean countered by moving his Saxon cheveaulegers to the hill to the north of Raisagrod, as the French hussars were too battered to make another charge. The Saxon cuirassiers lurked behind the farm, waiting to pounce if we advanced in their direction. this was quite a swirling game, but with the Russian cavalry in play I had high hopes of inflicting pain on the Saxons before night fell. It was getting dark though, which meant the game would end soon. That’s when wargamers do rash things – and so true to form we did! The French and supporting Saxon battalion advanced on the Russian line in front of Stolli (above). Gyles also charged his French hussars in again, to support the advance. This time though they got badly shot up, and fell back. the French advance stalled too, as Gyles had spotted the Russian cavalry appearing. That effectively turned the game into a stalemate on that side of the table. In the centre, the Russian guns had pounded the northern part of Raisagrod, and the Saxon light infantry battalion there eventually broke and ran. That put the hamlet firmly in Russian hands. In Baluga farm (above) both sides blazed away at point=-blank range, but the fight didn’t decide anything – neither could evict the enemy from their half of the farm. So, as night fell the game ended with the Russians holding the two hamlets and half of the farm. That made it a clear Russian victory. It was a fast-paced game though, and could have gone either way. The rules worked well – as usual – and Nick, who’d never played them before, quickly got into the swing. The “man of the match” award should probably go to the 7th Hussars (below), but the Russian gunners really deserve a mention too.