Friday was the half way point of our week of gaming and was this day was a Napoleonic game involving French, Poles, Bavarians and a mixed German States contingent, against Russians, Prussians and Austrians. I commanded my Prussians, leading seven line battalions, two jager, a two field batteries, a regiment of uhlans with a horse battery attached.
I held the centre while the Russians were on my right and the Austrians on my left. A further Austrian force was held off table still further to the left. The main French force, that was facing the Austrians was, the Germans faced me while the Bavarians opposed the Russians.
A large hill rose in the centre of the table and it was clear from the outset that the occupation of this would dominate the field. We managed to get the jump on the French and I managed to get my horse battery and the cavalry on the hill quickly which provided a sound footing for the next few turns and allowed the Russians to mount a huge battery there.
The French however, drove hard at the Austrians and caught them on the back foot. Two leading Austrian battalions were driven back through their guns and the French broke through onto the batteries, scattering the gunners to the wind. The Austrians recovered and threw back the first French attack back, only to be hammered by the French second line and driven from the field.
The Austrians cling desperately to hold their line
Five battalions of Austrian infantry then arrived and were assigned to the commander of the driven Austrian force, but in time these too were driven off. The Austrian commander in this quarter has gained the dubious honour of losing two armies in a day – a feat that equalled a previous record.
Fortunately for us, just before these Austrians collapsed, the second Austrian player brought his force on, squarely on the French flank that prevented the French from pressing against me – although their objective was the occupation of the road to the left of me and not my force.
The Russians meanwhile took possession of the right of the large hill while their cavalry, a horse battery and four battalions of grenadiers threatened any forces that attempted to cross the stream that ran across their flank. The Russian main objective was a bridge on the stream over which the Bavarians were pouring. Their batteries pounded the Bavarian infantry as they formed beside the bridge, then the Russian infantry columns came forward en-masse driving the Bavarians before them. But they were tough troops these Bavarians and despite being driven back, they rallied time and time again, but finally they were broken, although the Russians were pretty much a spent force.
In the centre the German contingent attempted to press forward but first was checked on the hill crest by the Prussians. The Prussians then counter attacked and drove off most of the Germans, but at a huge cost and soon they too were a spent force, although the jagers were still untouched.
...and then there are some general shots of the game...
This day’s game was the War of Spanish Succession and the largest of the games during the week with more than 50 infantry battalions and 30 cavalry regiments on the table. The game was loosely based on Oudenarde. Both armies were to march on the table to via two roads on each side, although the armies of the Grand Alliance had the ability to use third road that would lead to the Franco-Bavarian right flank. We planned our battle the night before and provided instructions as to the order of march and arrival points.
I commanded the Franco-Austrians and we decided push the Franco-Spanish infantry brigades to the right, where they could contest the enemy’s crossing of a stream, while the cavalry would occupy the centre, the Bavarians the left and the brigade of dragoons the extreme left. Unfortunately the cavalry commander failed to notice that the stream did not follow the course shown on the map, so the plan to dominate the crossing of the stream was somewhat flawed, because it was much further away than I had anticipated.
However, we did steal the march on the Grand Alliance and the Franco-Spanish infantry a total of 12 battalions, formed a solid and very impressive line on the left. The French cavalry quickly took a position on the left of the infantry and its appearance there caused much consternation amongst the Grand Alliance cavalry, which found itself badly positioned, and then tried to extract itself. When the Bavarian cavalry arrived and moved to take position next to the French, they fell on the rear of the retiring Grand Alliance cavalry driving them off, but an attempt by the Bavarian cuirassiers to drive on against the disrupted English infantry ended badly for the cavalry, although two English battalions were so badly affected by the action they eventually quit the field. The battle on this front stagnated as both sides attempted to reorganise.
On the opposite flank the French right hand brigade crossed the stream when the enemy showed no inclination to push forward, but when the Danish infantry appeared behind their flank the French were in trouble. The Danish cavalry attacked the Franco-Bavarian batteries in the centre of the line, three of which had managed to turn the guns about. The first attack was repulsed, but the second attack drove the gunners away from three batteries. Fortunately for the Franco-Bavarians, the French cavalry brigade was available and it fell on the flank of the Danes and routed them.
The Danish cavalry attack the Franco-Austrian guns
The rear battalions of the French second infantry brigade turned to face the Danish infantry and opened fire. In an appalling example of bad luck the Danish player roll eight “1s” and the lead battalion was devastated by the French fire and fell back through another battalion, disrupting it, leading to it being routed the next turn.
Suddenly things began to fall apart for the Grand Alliance. A number of their battalions gave up the fight and quite the field and while they still had a significant force on the table, the Franco-Bavarian infantry had hardly been touched. The battle ended with a resounding Franco-Bavarian victory.
While dinner cooked “Zulu Dawn” played on the television. A dinner of fillet of beef with fresh beans and kumara, apple crumble and ice cream, several bottles of red wine and some Calavdos.
Two members had to leave early on the Sunday so we were back to six players for the half day game which was an ironclads game, Austrian vs Italian from 1866, using the Jackson Gamer’s rules, with a few minor changes.
Each player had three ships. In all but one case they had a wooden ship and two ironclads. In the case of one of the Italian players he had three ironclads, but one was a turret ship mounting only two guns.
The setup was very simple: both sides were wanting passage through a narrow channel with an island in the centre. Early in the piece, hardly before any fire had been exchanged, one of the Austrian ships rammed one of the Italians and sent it to the bottom. Then the Austrian ship was rammed by the Italian sister ship and sank the Austrian, but in the process the Italian ship lost her stack, the fires went out and she stalled for six moves.
Next the Austrians rammed and sank an Italian wooden ship. The Italians were having issues getting out of the bay since one of their ships had run aground, blocking a part of the entrance. But once they did begin to work their way clear, their larger number of rifled guns began to tell and they soon sank and other Austrian ironclad and rammed another, although the rammed vessel did not sink.
Here the game ended, two ships each were lost but the Italians definitely had the upper hand.
With the end of this game we collapsed the table, put everything back into the garage and had a final lunch before heading back to Auckland. Our week of gaming, so eagerly anticipated for a year, was over so quickly.