Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Leipzig "tribute"

Inspired by those intrepid Kiwis of the Hutt (see here for a taste), Malcolm and I were inspired to have our own little tribute to the bicentennial of the Battle of Leipzig at UVic on the 13th of October.  Naturally enough, we were not prepared to refight the actual battle, as we had nowhere near the correct number of figures, but we managed a nice little rematch with my Russians taking on Malcolm's French.  It was my first game using Warlord Games' Black Powder rules.  My Russians had three infantry divisions, a reserve division, a cavalry division and a cossack/opolcheniye division.  Not much of a historical basis for any of it, but an opportunity to get all my toys on the table, and isn't that what it's really all about?

These were my commanders:

Russian Corps Commander:  General-Major Vladimir Ilych Ulianov
1 Infantry Division:  General-Lt Iosep Jugashvili
2 Infantry Division:  General-Lt Feliks Dzerzhinsky
3 Infantry Division:  General-Lt Aleksandr Karensky
Reserve Division:  General-Lt Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Cavalry Division:  General of Cavalry Vyacheslav Molotov
Cossack Division:  Hetman Nestor Makhno


Bruce stepped in to control the Russian centre and left flank (consisting of 2 and 3 infantry divisions and the cossacks), while I took the Russian right flank with the cavalry and the 1 infantry division.  Malcolm controlled the French with help from Joel's Ottomans (who I believe were left out of previous official histories of the battle).

Here is Malcolm's after action report (shamelessly lifted from the UVic Wargame club forum):
Highlights of the battle included a grand charge by the Russian cavalry divisionin the opening moments. The French infantry flipped into square and returned devastating volleys and Turkish infantry skirmishers were cut down but the attack hinged on an Uhlan charge into the teeth of the Turkish heavy artillery. The horse would manage to press home into the gunners despite horrible losses, but would fail to win the melee.
The Russian infantry division on the far right would be plagued by poor leadership and so would spend the day unable to advance and so takinh nasty losses from those Turkish guns all day long.
In the center the French tried to advance against the Russians but the lines of guns and a stream made it impossible. The two sides would settle into an artillery duel throughout the day. At one point one Russian division had every battalion and battery shaken, but their steady quality prevented a rout and three generals and a medical wagon rushed to rally the division.
Russian Opelcheny got thrown out of the woods by French infantry. They were not steady, but they did make the fight last longer than anyone had expected.
The advancing Jannissary infantry were making good progress to take advantage of failures on the Russian right but Russian cuirassier pulled off a difficult charge across the stream and into their flank, and the Russian General would be heard to remark, "Those Cuirassier are reliable."
When the Russian Guard infantry marched into the forest to do battle with French light infantry everyone got to see the terrifying qualities of elite veterans.
The Russians would win it when the Ottoman and two French infantry divisions were broken.


And here are the photos!

This is the battlefield at the start of the game, with Russians on the right and French on the left, with the Ottoman division at the upper left.



Here are the Russian cavalry just after making their glorious but impetuous charge against the French/Ottoman flank, when they found out that infantry automatically form square and so are immune to cavalry.
Here the Uhlans are about to allow the Ottoman heavy guns an opportunity to show the effectiveness of cannister at close range.

Meanwhile on the left the cossacks are about to discover that sweeping flanking manoeuvres cannot succeed if the enemy doesn't have a flank! (at least not unless one is willing to slip off the edge of the world...)

Dragoons and Horse Jaegers about to bounce off of the French squares!


The Russian centre at the start, with the Reserve Division of Grenadiers and Cuirassiers in the foreground, with the pharmacist's cart waiting behind the line infantry.  The cart proved to be crucial, helping the Russian centre to rally at the crisis point of the battle.
And for fairness' sake, a look at the French centre.  You can just barely see the cantinière in the upper left; she played a similar role to the Russian pharmacist in helping to rally shaky troops.

 Here is a shot of some of the action on the left flank.  Opolcheniye are holding on in the woods, but you can see that they've been abandoned by the cossacks.  The Opolcheniye were very resilient but were eventually wiped out.
 The Russian right at the end of the battle.  The guns continued to pound throughout the battle.  The infantry were paralysed for most of the fight, as their commander wasn't able to give an order for most of the game.
 Here the Pavolvsky Grenadiers are about to easily clear the French defenders from the woods - guard infantry are very potent!
 And finally the centre just as the French line is about to collapse.  It looks much like the start of the battle, but the units have been pounded to the limit of their endurance.
In all, I enjoyed Black Powder.  The game moves quickly, with occasion for humour (like when I left a unit confused by an order to advance without specifying where).

  • We probably had too much artillery - a simple fix might be to count pairs of guns as a single battery, which would allow a big footprint without letting the guns overpower too much.  
  • The potential to move 54" in a single turn is daunting (the table was only 48" wide), and is what ended up leading to the destruction of the Russian cavalry - they could reach the enemy, so they did!  Maybe consider cutting movement rates in half?
  • I have a few ideas for fiddling with the 'must form square' rule, but will probably need a game or two to see if they work.  
  • And while I love the look of the table bowing under the weight of all those figures, leaving a bit more room for manoeuvre might be fun (even better, use a bigger table!).