Saturday, 22 April 2017

By Fire and Sword in Somewhere near new Pommerania shortly after 1660

Every time the same, I think I have grasped the rules rudimentarily, just to be beaten by Bart even while he's handicapped by a big flue. My movement orders are clumsy, the fire power of the Swedish crown forces vanish into thick smoke, just like all my efforts in the end, only to be swept up nicely by the all towering Polish Hussars at the end of the debacle, as battle wouldn't do it justice.
Thankfully Bart has lend me the rules in English, so at least for the next time I have the opportunity to be prepared.

We played a river crossing scenario out of the book, I had the weaker Swedish forces awkwardly defending the fort and the bridge ... attacked with my Reiters the Hussars, phhfff, what a foolish thing of me to do, then I tried to retreat behind the bridge and shoot, puffs of smoke, really, but then some flanking Polish light cavalry appeared behind my lines, then again, I tried to re-group my forces but it felt more like a Radio-Operating the clay version of the Colossus of Rhodes ... next thing I know my forces were scattered in the winds - game over.

Figures and game by Bart, terrain by SESWC.

The scenario out of the book

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Guns of August - the Hötzendorf test

As I‘m hoping to play "the Guns of August" as a Grand campaign miniature game this year (high hopes, I know), I need to do a lot of test games with folks! This time it was Bart, who likes pick up Gen. v. Hötzendorf's role (Bart gets the Austro-Hungarians) in the greater game, huzzah! Again it was the western front, as still a lot of minis are missing - predominantly the Russians and all of the smaller eastern European states. So I gave him the Germans and myself defended Belgium and Paris with the allied troops.

Bart then decided to change the Schlieffen plan and dig right through the middle. The Belgians decided to defend Antwerpen instead of Liege as it hold more points as an objective city. The German advance was rather slow and stopped prematurely at the Maas. But then the French had to follow their Plan 17 doctrine and "had" to attack in the 1st month - with the expectable high casualty rate and the loss of Nancy, ouch!

Then suddenly in October Bart concentrated the German siege guns and his best troops around Verdun and attacked in one go (no attrition attack, one straight hit!) and blasted the complete garrison away - Verdun was in the hands of the enemy! 

Mon dieu! As this is unthinkable, I immediately started a counter offensive, but due to lack of guns, which I lost previously in the plan 17 attacks, I failed disastrously and ripped a gigantic hole right in the middle of the French front. Even the later arriving Tommies and their counter attack south of Antwerpen couldn‘t fix the issue.

We stopped here, as Bart surely wouldn't get the much needed second objective city until December, but in fairness, in a grand campaign, Bart would have secured a fortified western front including Verdun AND the possibility for an early breakthrough! So, if not a tactical, at least a (bigger) strategical victory that would have left the Allies struggle for the next coming year a least! Well done, Bart!

Also a thing to remember, never ever attack a fortress on a hill without artillery support!!! Ever.

The situation at the start

The Germans are invading. Liege offers no resistance at all, the Belgian army defends Antwerpen.

Heavy fighting sees Verdun fall as early as in October!

Front line at the end November 1914

The Gap in the French line

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mars-La-Tour, 16 August 1870

A couple of die-hard Franco-Prussophilians opted for a weekend game using amended Fire&Fury rules and a swath of 10mm figures to recreate one of the famous encounter along the road to Verdun in the middle of August 1870 that decided the campaign for Napoleon III.

Angus had organised the game, and presided as an umpire over the French played by Jack, Bart, Gerry, Bill, Michael (MDF) and Neil, while the Prussian were represented by Jim, Campbell, Donald, Peter and myself. The figures involved were gracefully painted and owned by myself, Angus, Sandy who could sadly not make it, Gerry, and Jack.

Now the scenario set up is a cracker for the French as they are already late and are stricken with various command issues, while the Prussians have their Krupp guns and their better commanders and a special v. Bredow Death ride attack (one Cavalry squadron can hide in terrain and "leap" out of it and basically gets a free successful attack. Its a tough nut to crack for the French, but on their side, they outnumber the Germans by 1:5!

From the start it all went after plan - Jim was in command of the 5th cavalry division and did out-perform the French counter parts on many occasions. Vionville, Mars-La-Tour and Flavigny were in Prussian hands almost at midday with less fighting than expected. The holding on to it turned out to be the more difficult thing!

The French rose slowly from their camps and tents and marched in the shadow of the hills on an old Roman road with their Imperial Guards to Vionville, a strategically clever move as Vionville was the only village between the French and a draw - meanwhile the fighting got more and more intense!!

It was then when Campbell, after a continuously maneouvre failure, left 2 regiments in march column before said main objective, when the Imperial Guard attacked! For telling seconds the smiles of the Prussians command lost their countenance  -  something had to be done, "Koste es, was es wolle"!
Sure the ride took out one of the last guns the French had, but it didn't turned the tide in Vionville.
Even the a last blast of the Krupp battery on top of the hills overlooking the road to Verdun, or a last all-out attack at Rezonville, didn't changed the fact that the French had ripped the victory right out of the Prussian claws at the very last minute - a thriller!

For more details about the dashing Prussian cavalry see:

For more fabulous images see:

The 5th Cavalry Division v. Rheinbaben appears at the hill before Vionville 
Most of the French Army of the Rhine is still unaware in their camps along the road to Verdun
Still at their petit dejeuner on a hill around Rezonville 
Rheinbaben unleashes the Cuirassiers
the French cavalry still in their tents, mostly taken by surprise!
The French Heavy cavalry comes to attack
Meanwhile Rheinbaben himself moves swiftly to bring his corps into position! 
Mars-La-Tour overrun by swarming Prussians 
The III corps takes Vionville
More Prussians pouring past the Bois the Vionville
The French suffer badly from inertia, while the Prussians have time to build up their lines between the key objective villages 
Flavigny in the hand of the 8th, the Leib-Greandiers of Brandenburg in parade uniform
The French are coming over the hill 
And turning Rezonville into a bristling fortress of chassepots
Fights start around Rezonville and Vionville along the road
Slowly the Imperial guard moves behind the roman road in mysterious ways ...
Vionville firmly occupied by Prussians
The morale of the French Generals seems dented, the Prussians achieve to occupy all their objectives at 12 noon ...
While a regiment got around the Bois the Vionville and got into position ...
On Rezonville the French gallantly withstand all German attacks!
Lapasetts heavily beaten corps, but still fighting!
Would the battle end now the prussians would be declared the winner, but its still not evening!
The Krupp batteries south of Vionville are in position!
Even Flavigny turns into a castle!
But then the French poor over the hills south of the Roman road!! 
The last joker  - the Death Ride attack!
This time we choose the Black Brunswickers with the Skull caps for the Deathride attack!
... but behind the hills along the Roman road the Imperial Guard is moving in!!! 
and clash right into the flank of two Prussian regiments in March column - ouch!
While Rezonville is still fighting! - still standing!
the combat around Vionville gets more and more fiercer
The Guard in front of the Brunswickers loading their chassepots!!!
Now the only hope for the Prussians is the Krupp battery on the hill 
... but, as we all know... the Guard dies, but never surrenders!
A last all out attack on Rezonville! Including some Prussian Grenadiers in parade out fit.
Half of Rezonville is finally in Prussian hands, but to no avail ...