"One must break a good many eggs to make a good omelet!" - Emperor Napoleon
The third of our six Hofkreigsrat 1809 battles planned for the 200th anniversay celebration at Historicon was Eggmuhl (or Eckmuhl, depending upon the language/reference). I'd done this battle strictly historically many years ago, and if played as it actually happens, true to history it's pretty much a French walkover, as the whitecoats of Rosenberg's IV Koprps are hopelessly outnumbered and outmaneuvered as well. Fine as an instructive history lesson, pretty lousy as a wargame that gives both sides a reasonable chance of success. I'd used some of Keith McNelly's 1809 scenarios for V&B as a take off point, but his hypothetical Eggmuhl scenario just didn't make any sense to me at all, so we needed to come up with something a bit more original for this one. In concept, that didn't prove that difficult; there was another Austrian Korps only a few kilometers away that could easily have aided Rosenberg in his combat with Davout and then later the bulk of Napoleon's army - that of FML Hohenzollern-Hechingen's III Korps. This then, would be the premise - that two Austrian Korps a few miles apart actually managed to support one another whilst Rosenberg attempts to extricate himself from the closing jaws of Napoleon's trap. In the event, it took three playtests of the scenario to get the details right - including one at the Host as part of the "open gaming" the Wednesday night before the official opening of the Convention!
The first set of photos is from the second playtest. Roger Downie (who has the entire Bavarian army in 28mm scale as part of his collection!) was the lead 'Rat for Eggmuhl. This action was fought in Joe Fish's infamous "Basement of Doom". Incidentally, of the many references we consulted in designing this scenario, we found James Arnold's Crisis on the Danube to be by far the most helpful.
"Vorwarts, mein Kinder!"
After this playtest we had a better idea how we wanted to make the scenario play, and what changes were needed to facilitate that. The playtest on the even of Historicon indicated that the revised scenario should work out as planned, so we were all set. The following pictures are from the game ran there on Friday morning.
The game ultimately ended with the Austrians having been roughly handled, but conducting an effective and controlled withdrawal in strength, and thus fulfilling their Victory conditions. At about the point illustrated by the above photos, we had a brief but most pleasant interruption as we were told that the game had won the PELA ("Pour Encourager Les Autres") award for the best Theme (1809) game of its time slot (Friday AM).
Only after the convention was over did we learn that our version of Eggmuhl had also been named as the best Theme game of the entire Historicon convention! The game looked great,, but we also had an exceptional group of players who played with expertise, gusto, camaraderie, and good humor, thus showcasing the best of our hobby, and I think that may have been what swayed the judges, considering the multitude of outstanding 1809 theme games run by a great many fantastic GM's at Historicon 2009. Still, thanks to HMGS from Roger, myself, and the rest of the Hofkreigsrat team!
Until next time,