22 Aralık 2016 Perşembe

Napoleonic French-Russian 1807 Campaign

June 1807, East Prussia

After the victory at Austerlitz, Napoleon had directed his attention on Russia. The Battle of Eylau in February 1807 had resulted in a stalemate under hard winter conditions. In summer, Napoleon once again assembled his armies and marched to force the Russians out of Prussia. Russian armies under Count Benningsen were ordered to stop the invading French.

Last week we finished a campaign with two other friends playing and me doing the referee job. We used the Clausewitz’s War Napoleonic campaign setting, which was very simple yet detailed and fun. It took about a month. My friends choose to play as French and Russians so we went for a simple campaign; one that evolved around the Battle of Friedland. The French and Russians are roughly at equal strength and it was not hard to get the orders of battle. My friends would use Black Powder ruleset with 10mm miniatures for tabletop games and I decided to give them around 1/3 of real numbers. A unit would be designated as a regiment. They were given separate unit lists and commanders, from which they would form brigades and divisions, also attaching the generals.

Campaign Map

I used a simple, lightly photoshopped map from Google Maps, showing around Königsberg, Eylau and Friedland. (Now called Kaliningrad, Bagrationovsk and Pravdinsk.) The French would be deployed to the west while the Russians would start from north-east. Each player was given a set of victory points and location objectives. French were of course blessed with generals like Napoleon, Ney, Lannes and much more who generally had higher Staff Ratings than Russians. The best generals of the Russian side were Count Benningsen and Prince Bagration.

French Positions after Turn 1

Both players got to see only their units and surroundings. We decided on a time limit of 10 turns, after that we would look and see how it went and have a few more turns if needed. Before each turn, players sent me their orders for the separate formations on map. I then checked to see in secret if there were some organizational problem, then I moved the units on map and sent them the last result. If their units came within fighting distance, I asked them their reactions; attack, defend or withdraw.

Russian Positions after Turn 1

To sum up the armies, the French put a 4 brigade, large force under Napoleon. Ney followed him close with 2 brigades. They were going towards Königsberg. In south, Lannes had 3 brigades and on center, Victor had only 1 brigade. This was a tricy deployment for the French because if Russians caught Lannes or Victor outnumbered, it would take much time for Napoleon and Ney to come for help.

Russians formed bigger brigades with more units in them. Prince Bagration commanded 3 brigades and he went south. Benningsen and Gortchakov had 2 brigades each, initially Benningsen was holding the center while Gortchakov seemed to aim for Königsberg. At first, I thought that Lannes and Victor would indeed be caught by Bagration and Benningsen while Gortchakov would try to delay Napoleon.

First Game

Towards the end of turn 3, Napoleon came close to Gortchakov. Both sides were tired and I expected Gortchakov to fall back and wait for support while Napoleon would not force his men in dark. But no, no one withdrew and we had a game! I implemented some special rules for fighting in darkness and in this game, the French, far outnumbering the Russians, gained a victory. Gortchakov had lost some units but not all was lost.

Photos from the first game

After the Battle, Russian Map

After the first battle, Napoleon waited for Ney to arrive (he was near Königsberg) and Russians under Benningsen fortified their positions while Gortchakov retreated. Now, Russians knew where Napoleon and the most powerful French army were. Prince Bagration tried to move north to assist the other Russian armies fighting but he faced some difficult terrain and slowed down. Napoleon was quick to hit Benningsen, he now had Ney in reserve and attacked the entrenched Russians.

Before Second Game, French Map

French had the numerical advantage again but now their job woud be harder for they would attack fortified infantry. But once again, the great Staff Rating 10 of Napoleon, combined with Pas de Charge of French infantry proved their worth. They hit the Russians and after some charges, forced them back. Benningsen was also retreating and Bagration was at last coming close.

Photos from second game

End of Turn 6, Russian Map

On turn 6, it was the critical moment. Lannes was holding Eylau while Napoleon and Ney were following the retreating Russians. I think, the only chance left for Russians was now a combined attack with three armies, all concentrating on Napoleon. Yes, it would not be an easy battle but with a little luck, Russians could maybe teach a lesson to this French artilleryman who called himself Emperor!

Last Game, we called it Second Battle of Eylau, Russian Map

But no, the Russians did not go for that. Benningsen and Gortchakov decided to retreat more to the east and became separated from Bagration, sealing his fate. Napoleon decided not to follow them. Lannes had been ordered to hold ground the previous turn so in case a combined Russian attack hit Napoleon and Ney, he would not be able to help. But now, it was Bagration who was surrounded. Victor, with his very little force, stood in way to slow him down. But during the game, the reinforcements of Lannes and Napoleon had arrived later, giving the French a decisive victory.

Photos from third game, the fictional Second Battle of Eylau

End of the Campaign

The French armies met Russians nearly on the same place they fought on winter. Napoleon had forced smaller forces of Gortchakov and Benningsen to retreat and then he turned south. Here, Lannes and Victor delayed and fought the largest Russian army under Prince Bagration but with Napoleon encircling him, the Russians had no chance. East Prussia was now under French control. Tzar Alexander had to make peace with Napoleon and for some time, the Emperor turned his attention away from Russia.

I had immense fun doing the referee job. I hope all who read have also enjoyed it. Clausewitz’s War is a very good ruleset for such campaigns and I hope to do that again in future. Thanks for reading, take care!

17 Ağustos 2016 Çarşamba

Battle of Montenotte (and some FoW games)

Once again I got a chance to go on a little vacation and played some FoW and one Black Powder game. My friend, Ruhi, who wrote the scenario to the Black Powder game and played it with me, requested that I take pictures and produce a battle-report so here it goes first. At the end, you will find brief reports of my FoW games with few pictures.

Battle of Montenotte: Black Powder Game with 10mm Miniatures; French vs Austrians

For anyone insterested in info about historical battle, here’s the wikipedia link;

As a summary;
It is 1796 and France is still struggling to fight its enemies after the Revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte is given command of the Army of Italy and first combat is about to begin against the Austrians near the village of Cairo Montenotte. A French vanguard has captured a redoubt, defending a mountain pass but Austrians are on them. First day, the small French force defends the pass and the second day, Napoleon sends help, led by capable general Andre Massena. French under Massena attacked both from the pass and Altare direction, catching the Austrians by total surprise and driving them back, delivering a French victory.

On to the game then...

Ruhi commanded the Austrian side (his beatifully painted miniatures) and I went for French. (the ones fully painted with flocks are also Ruhi’s work, the rest are painted by a young friend, Mustafa, and all French models are from his collection) The game table represents the Mountain Pass where a little French force occupies. The road runs from the pass to the village of Montainette. Two Austrian brigades are on table, one near the pass and the other inside the village. French main army shall arrive from the reserve at 5th turn, half from the pass and half from the other side of the mountain. (Altare direction) Game will run for 10 turns at max, Austrian objective is to capture the pass or at least hold the village, French objective is to defend the pass for certain and also to capture the village.

We played with 10mm miniatures, halving all distances in Black Powder rulebook. We also applied the Column vs Line rules in Albion Triumphant books.

French Blocking Force: 2 Line Infantry, 1 Artillery Battery
French Reserves (from the Pass): 4 Line Infantry, 2 Small Light Infantry
French Reserves (from the Open): 4 Line Infantry, 1 Dragoon

Austrian 1st Brigade: 3 Line Infantry, 1 Light Infantry, 2 Hussars
Austrian 2nd Brigade: 2 Line Infantry, 1 Light Infantry, 1 Artillery Battery

I formed a defensive line at the pass with my small force and Ruhi marched his 1st Austrian Brigade on my brave Frenchmen. I was lucky that they could not reach my lines and I could shoot them for two turns, each time moving just a little back, keeping the French at musket range and at the same time away from a single movement distance. In my second shooting, I was able to disorder two units and effectively postponed the Austrian assault.

Seeing that, Ruhi threw one Hussar unit to one of my Lines. Cavalry did their job, my infantry formed square but took a bad beating, score was a draw and Hussars retreated to their starting location, leaving my line shaken. Meanwhile, Austrian light infantry formed skirmish and came very near to my other Line Infantry. Next turn, the Austrians were now clear of disorder and they assaulted my Lines.

Close combat continued for two turns, resulting in total defeat for my small French blocking force. Line infantry vanished and the artillery battery started to move towards the table edge. But the Austrian Lines were also shaken now, before they could form a proper defensive line, French army entered the table.

Forces from the Mountain pass engaged the Austrians right away. French Light Infantry started to shoot the Austrians from one side while four Line Infantry battalions (1 Line, 3 Assault Columns at rear) went for the other side.

From the other side of the pass, commanded by the perfect General Massena, the French moved at full rate and after two turns, placed themselves in flanks and rears of the Austrian 2nd Brigade. This brigade was very much affected by poor command rolls and stood without moving for a couple of turns.

In an effort to save the situation, Austrians rushed the Light Infantry and Hussars against the French. Hussars were stopped by a French square and Light Infantry exchanged fire with a Line battalion. But next turn, it all ended. The two French battalions which blocked the way to the village, now assaulted and destroyed the Hussars and Austrian gun battery. French dragoons, personally commanded by Massena also galloped to the rear of an infantry unit.

At the pass, two Austrian infantry units routed one after another. This was too much for the Habsburg forces, facing a total pincer movement, the whole army was routed as the Austrian general conceded defeat.

Ruhi is always a very good player and did his best to take the pass on time. He was also unlucky with command rolls when my reserves arrived so he could not set up any kind of defensive line. Also, the scenario gave Massena a deserving Staff Rating of 9, which combined with French "Pas de Charge" (basically Reliable Attack Column) made sure French flanking force did its job very well. A highly enjoyable game for me! Ruhi, thank you very much!

My other Flames of War games were as follows;

Mid War, Me: German Gepanzerte (list with Remer), Deniz: British Rifle
Deniz, seeing me command a mechanized force and believing I could do better on the offensive, decided to go for Night Attack. Then, I had to defend against his British rifle platoons. He made some good progress with initial assaults but by the time he had cleared the objective, my reserves arrived and Brits could not hold on to their gains. Victory for me...

Late War, Me: Red Army Strelkovy, Levent: SS Wiking Kampfgruppe
Levent had a very good defensive position so I was basically unable to break through. Most of my infantry were shot down on road, when some could launch their assaults they were already underpowered. Victory for Levent...

Mid War, Me: Africa Panzer (list with Rommel), Deniz: British Tank
It was a very enjoyable Fighting Withdrawal. I was on the defensive and Deniz did his best to take me out before I started to pull objectives. My plan was to pop-up my ambush of Panzer IV F2 tanks to counter one British tank platoon, delay the other tank platoon with my Panzer III Ns also hold the third objective with armored cars and infantry. While it took some time for my PIVs to deal with enemy tanks, this plan generally worked. Victory for me...

Late War, Me: Soviet Tankovy, Levent: Fallshirmjagers
This game was also very good, fighting against Fearless Veteran Germans are always tough! After a good round of shooting, my tanks could effectively destroy most of the anti-tank guns in the defensive line. German paras did their best to stop my horde of tanks but seeing the reserves delay, they could not protect every flank. This game set a stop to the long time tradition of Levent beating me! Victory for me...

Hope you enjoyed this post. Take care!

23 Temmuz 2016 Cumartesi

Vacation Games

Hello everyone,

Last week was a pretty busy week for my country with the failed coup and resulting state-of-emergency. Anyways, before that, I was on vacation for two weeks and had the chance to play many games, including four Flames of War, one Black Powder and one small-introductory Hail Ceasar. I had also arranged to play one or two Trial by Fire (WW1) game but that was interrupted by the failed coup...

You may read the summary game reports and see some pictures below,

And... next week, I will be launching my free online book: Trial by Fire - Rulebook. This will be a World War I land warfare ruleset designed by me for over a year now. We are collecting 10mm miniatures for this ruleset but the rules can be adjusted to any scale.

For more information about that: Trial by Fire Rules Blog

Flames of War Game 1
Late War, Soviet Red Army Hero Tankovy (Me) vs German Police Company
Mission: Hold the Line, Result: German Victory
My long-time German playing friend Levent this time went with an interesting list; a Reluctant Trained German police force. But their support were reliable with Panters and tank hunters. Basically, I infiltrated my T-34/85s to a good firing position and got ready to assault an objective with T-34/76s (who had Tank Escorts) and my Tank Rider infantry company. The assault went well but I was unable to kill the panters so they took out my tanks one by one. It was disaster for me that right after the assault, panters shooted and destroyed nearly all T-34/85s. Now it was time to get the job done by my infantry but they were repulsed by very lucky defensive fire from Germans. After that time, German  reinforcements started to pour in and there were simply not enough Soviet tanks to get a victory.

Flames of War Game 2
Late War, Soviet Udarny Strelkovy (Me) vs German SS (Fearless-Trained) Infantry
Mission: Counter-Attack, Result: German Victory
We are gaming with Levent again. this time he has lots of infantry with many anti-tank guns and just a few StuGs on reserve. I was the attacker, I again infiltrated and this time, he managed to roll a 6 and took the first turn so I had to endure enemy fire before moving. Anyways, I tried to move towards the far objective as fast as I can with one of the Strelkovy groups and stormed the enemy defenses with the other group. The attack to enemy sector went well at first and I was able to defeat the first enemy infantry platoon but next turn, my infantry took immense fire from enemy guns and artillery. My Scouts also helped the fight on that sector but my close combat rounds were now unlucky. The rush to far objective failed as German reserves arrived on time my troops got shot on the way. So that game also ended in defeat for me.

Flames of War Game 3
Late War, Soviet Red Army Strelkovy (Me) vs German SS (Fearless-Trained) Panzer Group
Mission: Cauldron, Result: Soviet Victory
I played this game with a friend whom I did not play for long, Afşın. I was the defender and he tried to capture objectives on my side with his randomly deployed platoons. Random deployment always make things uncomfortable for the attacker and this game was no exception. He could not launch a coordinated attack to my infantry lines and was delayed a lot. He finally had to send his valuable panters to assault my infantry (with sappers inside) and lost all of them. That's when we ended the game.

Flames of War Game 4
Mid War, Soviet Red Army Mixed Tank (Me) vs British Infantry Company
Mission: Dust Up, Result: Draw
I played with a good friend, Deniz and against his Tommy in an unhistorical game. I tried to do my best with my Strelkovy and KV heavy tanks covering my objectives while my T-34 and Razvedki groups assaulted the objective at his side. Well, the summary of the game was he rolled just "excellent" gun saves. Whenever I hit his anti-tank guns or artillery, he saved the hits, or when he rarely did not, I failed to roll for firepower. He then destroyed a lot of my tanks in return, it was getting late and we were both not capturing any objectives soon. We decided to leave it there with a draw.

Black Powder Game
Napoleonic British (Me) vs French
Result: French Victory
This one, I played with my young but brillant friend Mustafa. We have fairly good painted 10mm Napoleonic armies so try to play Black Powder whenever we have a chance. We just deployed our forces to both sides and went with a "field-battle" style game. Basically, there was my Highlanders at my left side, faced by his Line Brigade. My Line Brigade was at my center, facing his Old Guards. My Guards Brigade and Cavalry were at my right side, facing his Grenadiers and Cavalry. My plan was to hold his larger Line Brigade with my Highlanders, that plan at least worked. The other part of the plan would be to outnumber the rest of his force by my Line Infantry and Guards. Well, that went awful.. My Guards did little to contribute the fight to hold off the French cavalry, as the British cavalry in turn did not move at all for almost the whole game. That allowed the French to concentrate their Grenadiers and Guards against my Line Brigade, which was soon crushed. A decisive victoire pour La France et L'Empereur!

Hail Ceasar Game
Introduction Game
I have convinced one of my friends, a very good painter and modeler to play Hail Ceasar. He is collecting a Persian army and while he does that, we played a demo game with my 1/72 Carthageneans. We gave no speacial rules to units where both sides has 1 heavy infantry, 1 medium infantry, 1 small skirmishers and 1 cavalry (me) / 1 elephant (Fatih). It all ended very quick. He just smashed into my lines and routed my heavy infantry. Again, my cavalry did not perform a single move (what the f*ck!) and when he also sent his elephant against me, I had to concede defeat.

And that's it, vacation games with many losses :)

Anyways, all the games were very enjoyable, thank you all my friends! See you next time!

(Below pictures are from Black Powder game and FoW Game 1)

25 Nisan 2016 Pazartesi

Prussians vs Austrians - Black Powder Game

Last weekend was one of the "gaming weekends" for me and here is the battlereport of the Black Powder game I played, with one of the new members of our club.

My friend was interested in playing with Prussians so we decided to do a classic Prussian vs Austrian conflict during, most possibly the Seven Years War. We used another friend's 10mm Austrians for this game and proxied some of them for Prussians, units with Yellow flags are Austrians commanded by me, units with White flags are Prussians. As we did not have much time to organise our play, we went with turning one of the Black Powder Rulebook scenarios into a Prussian vs Austrian game. We choose "Battle of San Miguel" scenario as it was fairly straight-forward and both sides had moderate number of units.

This is normally a Carlist War (Spanish Civil War) scenario between Isabellinos and Carlists. Isabellino side has three infantry brigades and one cavalry brigade. Carlists have three brigades with some cavalry attached to each. Isabellinos are slightly more numerous. Both sides start the game on their table edge but there is a Carlist blocking detachment on the hill in front of advance rout of Prussian left wing. The objective of game is to capture the village on center.

We used Isabellinos list for Prussians with the only change being the army commander to have a Staff Rating of 9. (Representing Frederick the Great himself or one of his best generals.) Carlist list became Austrians. Prussian infantry units had the "First Fire" special rule to show their superior military discipline while Austrians did not have that rule. Distances were turned to "cm".

Deployment was made according to scenario map, only the river was absent.

Austrian infantry brigades

Austrian blocking detachment, facing the Prussian left wing

Prussian right wing, including two infantry and one cavalry brigade

First turn, Austrians on the road advance at march column while Austrian left wing moves as assault column.

After Prussian turn 2, Prussian infantry now in control of one house at village.

Austrian advance party prepares to make a desperate stand. Infantry unit faces an entire brigade and cavalry turn to threat the Prussian advance towards the town. Alerted by cavalry at their flank, one brigade of Prussian infantry rotate to face them and two units of Prussian light lancers move near them to make short work of Austrian lancers.

Firefigt begins! Austrians also occupy a building and two infantry units open fire on advancing Prussian columns.

Austrian lancers of the advance party and Prussian light lancers clash! Prussians turn out victorious.

Austrian blocking detachment militia infantry open fire on Prussian left wing.

Austrian fire gives no casualty but disorders both Prussian columns. Prussian advance is halted for some time.

Three infantry units from Prussian left wing assault the Austrian militia. But there is Spartan spirit in militia! They roll so good that nearly, they would win the fight. Still, they lose the battle but do not retreat and hold the Prussian left wing for one turn. This turns out very critical for the battle inside the village.

Prussian infantry now enter a second building before Austrian march columns occupy that.

Near the village, shooting duel of Prussians and Austrians continue. Meanwhile, Prussian line lancers assault the Austrian cavalry and rout them. Prussian cavalry now dangerously flank the Austrian infantry. 

Alerted by Prussians in control of two buildings and seeing that militia holds an entire Prussian infantry brigade, Austrians form assault column and launch themselves on the enemy in third building. First assault is made by two infantry units, is repulsed but gives some casualty to the Prussians inside the house. Prussian reserves at the back of village fail a very critical command dice and cannot go help their brethren. Then, second Austrian assault comes with three units. The combat result is draw, but Prussians inside are now shaken, take a morale test and are forced to leave the building to the enemy!

Prussian infantry on left wing at last overrun the militia but the are delayed long enough to give pressure on the combat at village.

Austrian infantry now in control of two of the houses. Prussians try to form assault column and attack the house but they again fail their command roll. Other Austrian infantry units turn to face the Prussian left wing who now destroyed the Austrian blocking detachment and advance in line formation towards the village.

To the Austrian left, things go badly for Habsburgs. Prussian cavalry turn and hit the enemy infantry, Austrians are forced to retreat but they do not rout. Soon, with Prussian fire, most of the units in that brigade are shaken and the brigade is broken. They slowly give ground but the unit in house hold its ground.

We ended the game on turn 6 as decided earlier and we were also running out of time. One Austrian infantry brigade was in retreat, the blocking detachment was destroyed so the whole Austrian army was now broken. But still, Austrians had two houses in their control, Prussians had just one so we decided that Austrians hold the village and are victorious. But it should be noted that Prussian army still held its ground, tired but certainly capable of continuing the struggle. So in the end, although this battle was a tactical victory for Austrians, it was strategically indecisive. (as was the case for many battles of the 18th century)

My friend commanding the Prussians did very well on right flank, using the cavalry advantage and forcing my Austrian infantry to retreat. He was delayed by dice-gods on left flank. In the middle, I think he should have pressed harder. An entire Prussian infantry brigade turned to face one unit of flanking Austrian cavalry. Still, he reached the third building faster than me but after he occupied it, he kept two units in reserve rather than trying to rush the village center. I threw what Austrian infantry I had to that building and at last, with help of luck, forced the Prussians out. All in all, it was a hard-fought battle for both sides.

Thanks to Burak Erturk who played this enjoyable game with me (it was also his second game of Black Powder) and to Ruhi Kucuk who let us play with his miniatures.

Hope you enjoyed it reading! Take care...