Friday, January 18, 2013

Battle of Beckstein - the game

August 1794 and the French avant-garde under General Maladroit catches up with the Austrian rear-guard under Erzherzog Helmut (a distant cousin of the Hapsburgs).

The first thing that the French do is advance, moving their cavalry away from its initial position which was exposed to artillery fire.

On the left the 1/32 battlaion advances into the cornfield, looking for some shelter from artillery fire.

The 2/75 advances on the artillery in Beckstein, as artillery is automatically removed if assaulted under the rules. 

On the French right the main effort is made against the single regiment of IR 4 Hoch und Deutschmeister.

The French (and myself) find out that assaulting artillery head on is not recommended. Short range artillery is quite devastating.

IR 4 begins to be whittled down.

Forming into line in the cornfield the 1/32 prepares to advance on the Austrians.

The French right flank sweeps forward, but tries not to get into the arc of fire of the Austrian artillery.

IR 4 finds safety behind a hedge while the Brechainville regiment comes to the rescue. But how will it find room to deploy out of march column? Meanwhile the 2/75 assaults the Grenzers holding Beckstein.

The Austrians and French move into the assault on the left flank. The Austrian Dragoons wait in behind ready to pounce if possible.

The French win the combat and the Dragoons are hit by a powerful salvo of artillery, losing 4 hits and then failing a morale check to lose yet another element. 

the 2/7 Legere screen the Austrian artillery while further assaults on Beckstein are beaten back.

The Austrians manage to deploy into attack column. Not as effective as line, but better than march column!

The French Hussars manouevre to engage the dragoons - only to be pounded by short range Austrian  artillery fire.

Brechainville is whittled down while the 1/75 suffers the same fate in its attempts to take Beckstein from the valiant Grenzers - who are also suffering now.

The Austrian Dragoons charge in a succession of combats drive the french Hussars back.

IR 42 Erbach is victorious over the 1/32 and the flank belongs to Austria - apart from a two French guns aimed on the area.

IR 4 is fired on by the 1/18 while Brechainville charges the 1/7 Legere. The Leger evade and form an attack column which then deals to the Austrian regiment most roughly.

The 75th Line have one hit left - the Grenzers have two. Can another assault do it? Nope. The French are removed hors de combat.

It's a temporary respite for the gallant Grenz, though, as the 1/18 attack. The Grenzers are overwhelmed and the French take their objective.

As the battle ends the French have won conclusively - 6 victory points to 3. Erzherzog Helmut calls a general retreat, but Maladroit realises that his force is too exhausted to pursue. It has been a costly victory.

The rules used were an adaptation Neil Thomas' Napoleonic Wargaming rules and worked really well. The battle took two hours to reach a conclusion, and I feel gave a pretty good result. Some purists might not like the fact that a number of regiments hung in until the last man, but every single regiment passed its morale test when it lost its penultimate element. What I may do is add a negative 1 modifier to the morale test if the unit is down to one element, but as casualties reflect combat effectiveness, I'm not too concerned if single elements remain on table.
Artillery is very powerful. But then I did try frontal assaults. I am going to reduce its save from shooting to 4-6 rather than 3-6, to weaken it a little. This game may have been better with just one gun a side - maybe 1 gun per 4 battalions would be a good ratio to go by.

The next game in the campaign will depend on what I have managed to paint up in the meantime, but will definitely see the French move further into Frankenberg. I have forces for Prince-Archbishop Klaus' men to paint, and am looking at getting a battlepack of Lancashire Games' Vendeeans to use as Frankenberg Republicans. That could be some fun games to join the narrative.

A thoroughly enjoyable solo game (my first in quite a while)


Battle of Beckstein set-up

A French Revolutionary force is pursuing an Austrian group that has pulled back from the Frech frontier into the realm of Frankenberg. The first town upon crossing the frontier is Beckstein, which just happens to be situated in between a woods and a wooded hill. Perfect for a rear-guard action.
This is the set up for this solo game.

The battlefield as seen from above. Beckstein is in the centre with the wooded hills to the right and just out of shot on the left is another wood.
The Austrians are set up as if I was deploying to defend the town against a real opponent. Two guns with good fields of fire, two battalions in line, some lights in the town buildings and cavalry and infantry in reserve.
The Austrian defensive position.
The French were rolled for randomly. I divided the table into two feet spans either side of the road and then rolled a D4 for which area they turned up in. They ended up surprisingly evenly spread. I allowed myself one redeploy if I thought it was necessary, and as it turned out a French gun ended up deployed behind the crops on the French left, so that was promptly moved.
The French deployment
Other slightly worrying things were the French cavalry ended up square on to an Austrian battery, as did an infantry battalion, but the French automatically receive the first initiative due to being the attackers, so there is time to sort out those deployment issues.
'Ah, mon ami. this will be a lovely open area for us hussars, n'est-ce pas?'
'Err, Pierre, you might want to look in front of you.'
So all set to go tomorrow night. i don't hold out too much hope for the French - they probably need a couple more units to assault a defensive position successfully, but we'll see how they go.
'Ach, Wolfgang. there are not enough of them to give us much trouble at all!'
Finally a close up of the Austrian 1st Kaiser Dragoons. These, the artillery and the Austrian general were all completed this afternoon, as were the blue roofed buildings that the Grenzer are occupying. More on all of these later.

Kaiser Dragoons
Battle tomorrow and hopefully a battle report on Saturday.


Further frolicking in Frankenberg

1794 and the French Republic is on the offensive, penetrating into parts of Germany beyond the Rhine. One French force is pursuing an Austrian army as it backs its way into the principality of Frankenberg. Although the Prince Archbishop Klaus VI is loyal to the Emperor there are grumblings that may support the idea of revolution in his tiny fiefdom. Will the forces of order prevail over the Revolutionary chaos sweeping Western Europe? Will liberty, equality and fraternity come first in the land of the wurst? Further frolicking in Frankenberg fighting French fashions for ferment is about to commence!
'Allons, mes enfants!'

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ludwig VIII, Prince-Archbishop of Frankenberg

Well, here he is, the Prince Archbishop himself. He is made out of a dismounted Dutch officer, with a French Dragoon head filed down and green stuff modelled gown and fringe. The fringe actually looks more like a fur band around the hat, but never mind. Ludwig looks eager for action, advancing sword in hand, but he is actually suffering from the runs and is discarding his paraphernalia as he heads for the nearest bush!
On the same base is Luddie’s herald, Ernst, carrying the standard of the ecclesiastical Principality. It has a wurst representing the people crossed with a key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Black and Gold are the traditional colours of Frankenberg, whilst the pink cross was put there by Ludwig himself. The standard was handpainted – I don’t think I could do this on the computer!
Ernst wears the uniform of the Frankenberg Leibgarde - a pink coat with yellow cuffs, and a purple rosette on his tricorne. The next troops painted will be the Frankenberg militia.
More Marlburian troops have been completed, and are on display here:

Breaking the Khutzewald Line

Apologies, this game was played a fortnight ago, but as I have only recently regained my beloved broadband internet, it has not previously been possible to tell the tale.
On 1st June von Pritzwalk led his men out against the Khutzewald line. His scouts had reported that it was held rather thinly – in fact only three regiments of infantry and some Dragoons appeared to be there. His inital reaction was to suspect the French of a devious trick, but on 31st May he was informed that the Austrians had attacked in the east and he surmised that this was where Fois-Gras had disappeared to with the bulk of his army.
There were two villages on the line – Pfefferheim, where the Kartoffelwasser stream runs into the Klein-Rhein River, and Tapffheim, further down the Kartoffelwasser. From Tapffheim a series of earthworks ran to the dense Khutzewald forest. Pfefferheim was garrisoned by the Lyonnais regiment; the Kartoffelwasser was watched by the Listenois Dragoons; the Picardie regiment held Tapffheim; and the Champagne regiment manned the earthworks in the south.
Von Pritzwalk’s plan was to feint in the north towards Pfefferheim with the English brigade, while making his main move in the south. By taking Tapffheim he planned to turn the flank of the French and cut the most direct communications with France.
Tapffheim and the earthworks leading to the Khutzewald. Stairs’ Dragoons have just decimated the Champagne regiment. Apologies for the poor photography – it was the first shot of the day!
The first move was to make an overwhelming cavalry attack on the Champagne regiment. This proved to be a spectacular charge, riding over the barrier and cutting the regiment to shreds in a single turn. Victory for the Confederates was looking inevitable! All that was required was for the Dutch Brigade to take Tapffheim, and the victory would be won.
Pfefferheim and Maykit’s over-exuberance costs the Confederates dearly. The Lyonnais regment is building up an impressive record.
Meanwhile, in the north, the diversionary attack went in. Here General Maykit overstepped his brief. Rather than a mere demonstration, he seriously looked to surround and annihilate the garrison of Pfefferheim. In the confusion his two battalion column trying to organise itself to cross the bridge took an age to get ready. The Guards and the Hanoverians threw themselves across the stream and against the walls to no avail. By the end of the day the Hanoverians would be beyond reconstitution as a unit and recalled by the Elector in a fit of rage that his troops were used so brainlessly.
The assault on Tapffheim and the outnumbered and outgunned Picardie regiment fighting bravely. Von Pritzwalk himself is there to ensure that the assault succeeds. At the back is my Prins Georg Danish regiment, which will evetually be part of a four battalion strong Prusso-Danish Brigade.
But while Maykit went mad, Van Klogg calmly directed his Brigade into a two pronged assault. Led by the Welderen and Brandenbourg regiments, not to mention a gun expertly worked and deployed at point blank range, the men of the Grand Alliance surged against the village walls. Picardie fought valiantly, rendering Welderen hors de combat, but in the end numbers and firepower told and Tapffheim fell to the relentless attack.
In the centre the advance elements of Fois-Gras’ men had arrived, tired but ready to help their comrades. First into battle were the Villequier regiment, followed by the Gendarmerie. The Maritime Powers redeployed their cavalry to the centre to combat this growing menace, only to find themselves overpowered. Once again the gentlemen of France had the honour of routing their enemies, but it was all too little, too late. With Tapffheim well in hand and dusk arriving the French cavalry covered the withdrawal of the still defiant Lyonnais regiment from Pfefferheim.
Von Pritzwalk had a hardfought strategic victory, but it would take time to put his force back together and renew the offensive.
An enjoyable game and it was certainly a harder slog than either side had expected! One of the things that I have noticed with the Black Powder rules is the strength of units in built up areas. In a sense this is fair – I can think of a number of circumstances where villages proved especially costly to take - just look at the Battle of Blenheim and the combats at Blindheim and Oberglau. My advice is to mimic the tactics of Marlborough and devote pinning forces to these obstacles and win the battle in the open if at all possible. Of course, as there were no enemy in the open in this game, this was never going to be a workable tactic.
Thanks to John and Terry for helping me to play it out. The next moves in the Wurst War will appear soon hopefully.


Within two days, Fois-Gras had marched to the other side of the small Principality. Early in the morning on 30th May he attacked the Imperial forces that were bivouacked inside the town of Grenzschafen. Surprise was total, as the scouting Imperial Hussars had found a wine cellar and become quite drunk that night.
By 9am the Imperial troops were in complete rout, 2,000 were prisoner and 16 guns had been captured. The victory was total. Fois-Gras could be satisfied that there would be no more threat from the east, at least in the short term. But he had no time to rest on his laurels. He knew full well that it was only a matter of time before the Allies attacked his lines in the west. In the shadow of the plumes of smoke he gave the orders to rest up and be prepared to move out at dawn the next day.
Grenzschafen burns on the morning of 30th May, 1707.
French troops in the lines near the Khutzewald.

Bad news for the French

Fois-Gras looked at the messenger with the kind of concerned, yet disdainful look that only an aristocrat brought up on the finest truffles could give.
‘Merde!’ he cursed in a foppish, yet decisive way. The message itself, hurriedly scribbled on the back of what looked like a musical score-sheet, bore bad news. Reinforcements from the King of Bavaria had arrived only a day ago, but now a force of Imperial troops had appeared at Grenzschafen. Fois-Gras’ plan to move over to the offensive against Pritzwalk and his forces had been completely foiled.
Looking at the map rolled out on the camp table in front of him, held down by two half empty and two fully empty glasses of brandy, a deep thought creased his forehead. If he could establish a line between the Klein-Rhein and the Khutzewald that could be defended lightly, he would force march his best troops east and deal with the Imperials in a surprise attack. Should the maritime powers be bold enough to attack, a second line was to be constructed by the peasants of Frankenberg outside Dolfstein. The holding force would retire upon these lines.
Taking another gulp of Brandy, and patting his faithful dog, Malodorant, Fois-Gras signalled to his aides-de-camp.
‘Get ze Garde, ze Gendarmerie, ze La Marck Regiment and ze Villequier regiment readee. We marsh in sree ow-ers.’ Oh, and ze Bavieres aussi. Tout de suite!’ (translation for those ungentlemanly enough amongst you to be ignorant of the universal tongue of Europe: ‘Hurry it up, we’re going in three hours.’)
Monsieur le Marquis de Fois-Gras outside Dolfstein, with his dog Malodorant and assorted aides-de-camp.