Monday 17 October 2022

Soldiers of Napoleon, demo-game, @ Other Partizan

For a full day of gaming (and some shopping) at the Other Partizan in Newark, this game was set in 1813, south of Leipzig (roughly) at 1,200 points. Both the Austrians and French had 5 brigades, 3 deployed and 2 off table in reserve, so a full-sized game, played on a 6x6 tabletop.

We randomly generated the terrain and drew/rolled a special circumstance, which saw the French pre-deployed on the tabletop, waiting the Austrian attack and already eyeing the hill on their right (my left) as a place to get some guns on.

The Austrian plan of attack was, after their last defeat defending, to launch an all-out assault on that high ground, using a forward deployed grenadier brigade of 3 strong battalions, screened by the advanced guard of Grenz and Feldjaegers, they would skirmish their way forwards and take the initial French return fire, for the grenadiers to follow-up, and charge through their extended lines to smash the French off that hill top at bayonet point.

Supporting that attack would be the cavalry brigades. First the heavies, the cuirassiers would, on arriving from reserve, launch their attack in support of the grenadiers into the French centre. Meanwhile, the light cavalry would launch a second attack on the far right, over the stream (navigating that would slow them down), this would hopefully draw his cavalry to them and leave the cuirassiers freer to rout the French. So, ‘send in the heavies’ was basically it… the other line infantry brigade was just on hold the line in the centre/right.

The French plan originally was to hold the line, and await the arrival of their powerful reserves, their own heavy cavalry and a strong Imperial Guard infantry brigade, which would counter-attack once the Austrians had been drawn on and weakened. But, the early gain of the ‘guns on high ground’ objective card resulted a reappraisal, and a fateful decision to move up for the high ground and try complete that objective.

How did it go?

Initially, well for the French, their  artillery fire did damage, especially to the feldjaegers and they towed a gun battery onto the hill, deployed it and claimed the objective VPs. Nothing the Austrians could do about it but press on. The skirmishing, aided by jaegers rifles, was going the Austrian way (for once) and the attack on the hill moved up well, except for the damage to the feldjaeger battalion, resulting in heavy losses then they rallied. With some good luck, the cuirassiers arrived at the end of Turn 2. By then, French chasseurs-a-cheval had sped across the field from their left to try and aid the defence of the hill, hoping to force the Austrians into square and stall them, or lining up an inviting looking flank charge into a grenadier battalion. A ‘stalled’ special event stopped this move and left the dithering chasseurs waiting orders, as the enemy cuirassiers, with an ‘at the gallop’ event rushed up, then deployed out into attack columns. The French light cavalry was suddenly in trouble… the cuirassiers, taking a consecutive order, sabres out and sounded the charge… and the hooves thundered.

In the infantry fight, the grenadiers had also moved ‘at the quick’ and then also charged, their columns bursting through the light infantry screen and into the French lines, it was indeed a grand assault as all hell broke loose. Cannons fired grapeshot, but the French infantry were defeated and forced back, a battery overrun whilst their cavalry as pummelled by the cuirassier’s charge. The swirling battle around the hill went to the Austrians and as Turn 2 ended they had gained over 20 VPs (won 4 melees, routed a French battery and both chasseur-a-cheval regiments, completed a grand assault, plus French rallying) in return, French close range fire had broken one grenadier battalion who stream away down the hill.

On to Turn 3, and both sides gained an extra brigade from reserve , my light cavalry rode on on the far right. The French cuirassiers arrived behind their centre.

As fire continued to be exchanged around the hill, both sides had to pull back and rally, including the cuirassiers. On the right, the light cavalry hussars and uhlans galloped past the waiting infantry marching columns and splashed through the stream (the supporting horse battery went over the bridge). They were faced by just a single hussar regiment holding the open french left. They needed help. It was not forthcoming though, the French cuirassiers were still held back (I expected them to come flying up). The hussars would have to hold alone, as best they could for now.

When the opposing hussar regiments clashed, the Austrians got the better of it and the French withdrew again to rally. The uhlans refused to charge as ordered (and I was out of command point re-rolls). It seemed the French left would be broken. Until, Turn 4 saw the final French reinforcements arrive, the Imperial Guard marched on and, drums beating, at the quick, deployed into lines. Using a consecutive order their volleys then sent my light cavalry reeling back, and routed the poor uhlans (bad day for them). The light cavalry had to withdraw again and rally as they could. The Guard had saved the flank and my remaining light cavalry would be a poor match for them.

Could the French hold on and turn the tide?

Well, in Turn 5, no… the Austrian pressure around the left hill was renewed. The last grenadiers, battle-worn now, charged on again and won the following melees, driving the French infantry (some mere reservists) off, and the cuirassiers, now back in good order, launched themselves at the newly deployed Imperial Guard infantry line that had formed up and given them a stiff volley. The guard infantry were defeated, fell back and then rallied with heavy losses to stay on the table, but the damage was enough. The French had exceeded their Break Point and would retreat from the field. The Austrians had won, small revenge for last time’s hammering… with still 9 VPs required, so a solid win.

Brilliant day, good game, nice to win one for the Habsburgers… thanks to all that game to watch, ask questions and cheer us on. We had a blast…

Here are a few pics of the action. 

Austrians deploy, light infantry screening the grenadier columns

The French opposite them, ready to quick march for the hill between the two lines.

The French centre, a weak infantry brigade.

Austrian line infantry, on the right, await orders to advance and cross the stream ahead, along with their battery and supply wagon.

French guns in the centre, a continual harassment.

Austrian guns in the centre - a rude surprise when this cottage was destroyed by French sabotage - sappers little present.

The Austrian heavy cavalry arrive a gallop on as full tilt.

Austrian grenadiers begin their assault on the hill.

Chasseurs-a-cheval rush across from the other flank, as jaegers keep up skirmish fire on the French infantry.

But, after being stalled, the Austrian cuirassiers catch them and rout them. 

Onward the grenadiers! Drive them off!

The light cavalry arrive and stream past the still waiting infantry lines.

All that can stop them... French hussars.

Form line and prepare to charge!

Having seen of the hussars, a line of Imperial Guard infantry deploy with well-drilled calm and unleash heavy volleys. Run-away!

Last of the action, the cuirassiers charge home to drive off another guard battalion, with sabres...