Bismarck’s Wars, Fire & Fury, 10mm
This week it was just Sean and I, and with another gale in the offing we scaled down the game, so I could make it home before the blast. The other reason we wanted to keep it small was that we were trying out a new edition of the rules for the very first time. Brigade Fire & Fury is the 2nd edition of the much-loved classic set. So, we kept it to a divisional-sized game, with Sean commanding the Austrians of 10 Corps, while I led the Prussians of I Corps. This was a fictitious battle, but one set close to a real one of June 1866 – the Battle of Trantenau (now Trutnov, in the Czech Republic). We played along the length of a 6×4 foot table, with the Aupa River running down its length. The Prussian 1st Division came on from the north (a short table edge), while the Austrian brigades of Col. Grivicic and Co. Mondel were deployed near the southern table edge, on the east bank of the river.Grivicic held the village of Raussnitz, near the river, while Mondel’s Brigade was further to the south-west, near the village of Alt-Rognitz. Purists will notice the terrain doesn’t fit exactly – as I set the table up from a sketchy mental image of what it should have looked like! Thanks to the river though, the table was effectively reduced to 3 feet from side to side. This of course made Raussnitz and the nearby hill a good defensive spot for the Austrians. Each Austrian and Prussian brigade was made up of two regiments of 12 stands, although the Austrians also had a 4 stand jaeger unit attached, and a gun battery. The Prussian division of two brigades had two gun batteries, while another one was attached from I Corps command, and a fourth hung out with the Prussian cavalry division, of two 4 stand regiments. the Austrians had a similar cavalry formation, plus a Corps gun and rocket battery. So, it was a pretty even-sided game. I suppose I relied too much on the reputation of my Prussians to cut their way through the Austrian lines. So, I advanced southwards, with 1st brigade aiming for Raussnitz, 2nd brigade for the hill further west, and my cavalry attempting to outflank the whole lot, by cutting through the woods to reach Alt-Rognitz. For his part Sean deployed Gravicic’s brigade, and started moving Mondel’s boys towards the hill. They actually came on quickly, and reached the hill long before I did. Worse, instead of deploying in line, Sean had Mondel’s two regiments formed into big field columns – or divisionmassenlinie as the Austrians liked to call them. This meant the Austrians planned to launch a counter-attack. Meanwhile, over by the village the 1st and 41st regiments approached the Austrians in supported line, with the 41st being pounded hard by the Austrian guns. They lost three stands and became disordered, and fell back to reform, but the 1st regiment nearer the river advanced steadily, and their fire dealt with the Austrian 16th jaeger battalion, who were defending the village. It wasn’t enough to crack the Austrian line though, so the 2nd brigade sent the 3rd regiment to plug the gap left by the disordered 1st regiment, and the Prussian line was neatly reformed again, with the 43rd further to the right. So far so good. then, for some reason, I decided to charge the Austrian guns. they were sticking out ahead of the Austrian line, and looked like an easy target. Well, they weren’t. The Prussian 3rd regiment charged forward in supported line, but was disordered coming in, and lost a stand. That and some good die rolling from Sean was enough to send the Prussians reeling back, and the Austrian gun remained untouched. This wasn’t going so well! Over on the Prussian right, Col. von Bredow’s cavalry division emerged from the woods, only to find their path blocked by General Solms’ Austrian cavalry. So, with that avenue blocked it was time to get my guns up to do the hard work. That though, was when Sean unleashed Mondel’s brigade, and his Austrian divisionmassenlinie . The Austrian 10th regiment charged the Prussian 43rd Regiment, whose defensive fire proved completely ineffective. In the melee that followed the Prussian regiment was forced to retreat, and lose a stand. the Austrian column occupied the ground, and so breached the already wavering Prussian line. that’s the situation up above – and the Austrians had another field column – the 24th regiment, still fresh and ready. It was at that point we ran out of time. I could claim I had the wherewithal to still win, but it wasn’t looking good for General von Grossman’s Prussian division! So, we called the game a well-deserved Austrian victory – Sean handled his troops with great aplomb – especially his divisionmassenlinie! As for the rules, we both felt that Brigade Fire & Fury (2017) was a much slicker and better product that the older Fire & Fury rules, which first came out 34 years ago. Of course, we weren’t just testing out the rules, but also Bismarck’s Fury, our unofficial adaption of them for the European wars of the mid 19th century. They’ll still need some tinkering, but on the whole they’re shaping up fairly nicely. Next time, for variety, we’ll try them out in a Franco-Prussian game.