We arrived at Lake Tarawera on the Tuesday afternoon. The first task was to clear space in the garage and set up the table. Then, as the first game organiser was setting up his terrain, the open fire was lit, dinner was put in the oven and the first bottle of wine was opened. Before dinner a briefing was given to each player for the first game, then we settled into an evening of good food, good wine and DVDs. Play was scheduled to commence at 0900.
The first game was a Napoleonic battle with a Russo-Prussian force attacking a Franco-Bavarian force. The game was played across the table, which measured 4.8 metres by 2 metres. Looking from the Russo-Prussian side, the left hand portion of the table, extending roughly one metre in from the left hand edge, was separated from the rest of the table by a river crossed by two bridges. Moving right, on the opposite side of the table, about half way between the river and the right hand edge of the table stood a large town, which was the significant objective in the game. To the right of the town and extending to the right hand table edge was a line of woods.
The Prussians (two brigades and a battery) deployed to the left the river while the Russians (two brigades, two batteries and a cavalry brigade) deployed on the right. The French (two brigades, one cavalry brigade and a battery) and Bavarians (two brigades, one cavalry brigade and two batteries) were to the left and right of the town, respectively. I commanded the Prussians.
The Prussians preparing to cross the river
The action developed quickly. The Prussians were quick to establish a bridgehead, but it would take them quite some time to get all their forces across the river and deployed.
In the meantime the Russians formed for the attack and rapidly approached the town that the Bavarians were beginning to occupy.
Desperate to hold the Russians back until their main forces could form up. A regiment of French lancers lunged at their Russian counterparts. The Russian troopers reacted and counter charged, but lost the melee and tumbled back past others in the brigade, shaking them on the process. When the lancers struck a second Russian cavalry unit on the breakthrough, two thirds of the Russian cavalry was in rout. The Russians then charged the pursuing French lancers and put them to flight, but a single French cavalry unit had forced the Russians to commit all of their cavalry and given them time to form their infantry lines.
In the meantime the Prussians had crossed the bridges and formed for battle. They were formed in two parts, with one brigade in front of each of the bridges. The brigade in front of the upper bridge deployed unopposed on its objective, the road that ran off the table at that point. The other brigade found itself in an awkward position deploying in two small woods and in the small gap between them. At that very moment five battalions of Polish infantry arrived and charged the Prussians. The Poles drove through a Prussian battery and put two battalions to flight. A breakthrough drove off another Prussian battalion, before the Prussians were able to consolidate and drive the Poles off, although one Polish battalion managed to sustain itself in one of the woods for quite some time.
On the Russian front the left of the line continued to engage the French, but were getting the worst of it, while the Russians on the right were slowly driving the Bavarians from the woods to the right of the town.
As night fell the Russians held onto the woods on the right, but could not push any further, while the Franco-Bavarians held the town. What decided the action was that Prussians were consolidated on their objective – the road that dominated the Franco-Austrian line of communications.
The Prussians secure the position on the Franco-Bavarian line of communications
With the battle ended we retired to the house to light the fire, prepare the food and pour the wine, while the next game was set up. Again before dinner, and before the effects of wine had a detrimental effect, the briefing for the Thursday game was given.