Work on the 'Soldiers of Napoleon' rules continues, mostly testing and tweaking. Game 4 of our ‘Thunder on Danube - 1809’ campaign was a larger affair, involving 4 brigades aside, which must include the 2 brigades of our own divisions, then 2 extra brigades chosen to support them. One of these brigades must also be in reserve. For my force, along with Kraweitz’ Advanced Guard brigade and Achterburg’s Infantry brigade of von Klopp’s division, I added von Grujik’s cavalry brigade and, in reserve, a brigade of Cuirassier heavy cavalry. So, time for the mounted men to finally see some action.
The French had, without realizing, almost matched my force choice with a light cavalry brigade and a ‘medium’ dragoon brigade in reserve. We both chose our tactical order for the day, the French would be making a steady advance, I went for all out attack. I had defended in the last two games and so it was time to try and take it to the French, especially given all the horsemen I had to field.
My plan was to attack all along the line, try to the give the French too much to cope with, problems to resolve left, right and centre and, wherever was weakest, target with the heavy cavalry. As it turned out, given the card plays, it hard to attack and maintain any momentum with 3 brigades at once, I was also giving myself too much to do.
I deployed with the flanks forward, Kraweitz on the left, Grujik’s cavalry on the right. These would begin the attack, with Actherburg following straight up the centre. It was this part of the attack that suffered most and stalled, because the demand of the cards was too great on the wings, so I couldn’t spare many to get going, and under accurate (as ever, they just can’t miss), French artillery, causing them to use cards to Rally rather than march. Achterburg’s brigade never got stuck in.
The cavalry on my right initially did well, the French light cavalry came forwards to counter them, but a few good charges and the help of a ‘Fierce Cavalry Charge’ special event saw my horsemen get the upper hand and drive the French back, even overrunning his deployed 4 pdr gun horse battery in the process. The French would rally though and, later return, for round 2. My infantry attack on the left moved up and its artillery support did good damage as I was on the way in, but, heavy fire against my Grenz regiment saw them break… again! French artillery also broke a battalion in the centre. They roll 5+ about 75% of the time!
The French had a narrow early lead in Victory Points, but I also held a ‘battlefield objective’ card, these are objectives on the cards you can hold on to, and claim if you can achieve them, with hefty VPs for each (they include things like, get guns to high ground, break through enemy lines, etc.). Mine was a ‘Grand Assault’, requiring me to charge with 5 different units in 1 turn. I saw a chance to do it… 2 cavalry units on the right would be able to charge, 2 infantry battalions on the left, so 1 more unit needed. The only option as my reserve Hussars, they streamed forwards at the gallop, and drew canister and musket fire, taking heavy losses, it would cost me the regiment and maybe 5 VPs for them, but, if they charged, broke a French unit, and the other veteran French battalion also broke (it was already heavily damaged by cannon fire) then I could win up to 16 VPs myself (The French Break Point was 30, so that would be a huge hit to them). Worth the risk and sacrifice, so I used all the Action cards and command re-rolls I had and threw the kitchen sink at it.
And… it failed…
My Hussars gamely charged in and won, but didn’t break the French by 1 point! Ah, one 3+ roll (I used my re-rolls here to). The Hussars themselves broke in return. Worse yet, my infantry battalion’s charge failed to reach the French, needing to cover 8 paces, they move 6+D6 paces. I rolled a 1… no! Last command re-roll had to be used… and I rolled another 1. NO! Their failed charge meant I hadn’t completed the Grand Assault objective either (only 4 units had successfully charged the enemy this turn). Disaster, and a game turning event. The French had survived my reckless dash, and the damage sustained was costly to me.
The rest if the battle was really just the French artillery and skirmishers pushing me ever closer to breaking. His light cavalry came back and saw off my chevau-leger on the right. I pulled back and rallied. When the Cuirassier regiments arrived the battle was already up… all they could do was cover my retreat from his Dragoons as they streamed onto the table. The expected big cavalry clash didn’t happen. I shot my bolt too early.
A solid French win. Drat! I risked it all and lost! Damn my rubbish dice. The French commander though I’d lost my marbles in such a reckless dash, but they didn’t know I had the objective card and only in the post-game discussion did the penny drop as the damage that could have been inflicted on him.
In the campaign, news arrived that the French had also won another victory, gaining him more campaign VPs… and when it came to seeing if there would be a next battle, the Austrians sued for peace. It was over… Napoleon had won in 1809 after just 4 battles (there is no set number of games in the campaign, it goes on until one side is forced to sue for peace).
We are now moving on, to restart a 2nd campaign, but this time with new army lists for the campaign of 1813. We shall fight again, von Klopp will still be in command of my division, as will General Renard for the French, back from Russia no doubt. Let’s hope for better luck 4 years later.
Shot of the action, a defeat, but great fun... and that's all that matters.
|Von Grujik's cavalry will attack on the right, whilst Achterburg's infantry form the solid centre, in columns to attack, if he can get going.
|Kraweitz' advanced guard brigade, on the left of my all out attack. His Hussars in reserve would play a critical role.
|French columns on his right, the Brigade de Loup, hordes of them. A very strong infantry brigade now, reinforced with a fresh depot battalion - a campaign event.
|French light cavalry in march column prepare to gallop forwards to face down my cavalry. Beyond, French infantry march up into the large woods.
|The Austrain Chevau-Leger press on, getting the upper hand in the cavalry skirmish here.
|My left flank move up, into the fire of many French Voltiguers. The Grenz broke under artillery fire.
|On my far right, my light cavalry duel with his Chasseurs and overrun a French horse battery.
|Baron Radetsky's finest Hussars plunge into the French line through canister shot and musket balls, they are lost, but their sacrifice could well have swung the battle. Alas, it did not prove so.