Sunday, July 29, 2012

1st Polotsk, 1812 (Historicon part 2)

  Our Thursday evening game at Historicon was "Will the Bavarians get Creamed?": the 1st Battle of Poltosk, between Marshal Oudinot II Corps and future Marshal  St. Cyr VI (Bavarian) Corps, and Russian General-Lieutenant Count Wittgenstein's 1st Corps. Oudinot troops, who were advancing on the road to St. Petersburg, had become somewhat carelessly dispersed, divided by a river passable only at a single bridge at Polotsk. Wiuttgenstein resolved to try to give them a bloody nose without risking a decisive defeat that might leave the route to Russia's 2nd capitol unguarded. The rules used were Field of Battle, 2nd edition by Brent Oman, available from Piquet, Inc. The scenario we used can be found here.

Cast of Characters/Players (to my best recollection)

Zach as Legrand and Castex
Gabriel as Wrede and Courbineau
Michelle as Deroi and Doumerc

Hugh (Zach's Dad) as Koulnief and Berg
Tim as Sazonov and Jachwill
Jeff as Karkhofski and Prince Repnin

Overview of the battlefield, looking at the Spas convent from the North. Russians to the left of the picture, French and Bavarians to the right.

and the view from the South; Deroi's 2nd Bavarian Division is just out of the picture to the left, while Wrede's Division holds the Convent and surrounding terrain.

And here it is (I only have so many Bavarians, so Badeners and Wurttemburgers were pressed into service).

The Cossack and Hussars of the Russian Advanced Guard under Koulnieff.

Legrand's French Infantry Division.

View from the French rear; the Heavy cavalry Division cannot move on the first MOVE card. 

Hugh's Advanced Guard pressed son Zach's  French infantry Division from early on.

Russian Jagers firing in successive lines inflicted heavy losses on the opposing French Legere. 

View from the Russian left; I love the Russian standards! They packed a LOT of artillery in this scenario.

Heavy action on the Russian right flank. 

Deroi's Division is using its firepower to push back the Russian Cuirassiers stationed on their left flank.

View from behind the French/Bavarian center - note the large Bavarian/French battery on the upper right.

The pond made attacking the battery difficult, and the hill allowed overhead fire. However, the Russian assault  has cleared the walls of the convent.

Whilst leading his men, General Legrand is struck by a Russian cannon-ball; his with their command structure disrupted, the division falls into confusion just as the Russians close (Zach rolled a "1" on a D20!)

Russian Grenadiers press the assault on the Spas convent.

Not only are all of Legrand's troops now Out of Command, many have already taken heavy losses from Russian artillery and musketry. 

The Russian attack on the center starts to develop as well; note French routers at the bottom of the picture!

On the opposite flank, however, Deroi's "Bavarians" are prevailing!

The Russian pressure on the French center becomes very intense, as one of the French Chasseur regiments turns to the flank to counter some Cossacks who have infiltrated the woods on the flank.

The Russians now have sole possession of the Convent!

Cossacks on the Flank!!!

Mangled and routed French Infantry!!!

Le Maneuvre sur les Derrieres!

Redirected to the embattled center, Doumerc's Heavy Cavalry Division makes an imposing sight!

Deroi seems unstoppable on the opposite flank... but it is too little, too late. The French have reached Zero Army Morale Points, and decide to withdraw, while Wittgenstein also needs to disengage to preserve the only force guarding St. Petersburg. Still, the Count has every reason to be pleased with a very solid Russian victory; most likely the Frogs will hunker down and cease to be a real threat.

There was a nice posting to the Piquet Yahoo group from one of the players (Hugh) at this game and Borodino, and, with his permission, I'd like to share it with you:

"    A big thank you to Peter, Barry and Joe for putting on two excellent FOB 2 Napoleonic 18912 France vs Russia battles. I enjoyed thumping my 16 year old son, Zach, in the first game. I was on the Russian side and he was on the French side (his choice). He is a student of history, but not necessarily Napoleonic history. He knows that in our house Napoleon's military prowess is lionized by his dad (moi), not necessarily by his English mother, and having played the French side in FOB2 verses his younger brother and me as the 1809 Austrians, he naturally assumed that the French side would be practically be unstoppable. He really likes to win and sees no shame in winning when the odds are insurmountably in his favor (sound familiar parents of teens?). He also counts both of our die rolling prowesses. I am legendary in my club for awful luck with the dice, and he is notoriously a lucky die roller. Much like Napoleon, he did not count on the Russians being as tough as they were i n 1812. 

 Our first FOB2 game was Peter's Battle of Polotsk at 7:00PM on Thursday. I was running the right wing of the Russian Army. I had Cossacks and Hussars, line infantry, jagers and horse artillery as well as some foot artillery to use. My son was directly across from me and he had a combined arms unit as well. Father verses son! It doesn't get any better than that. We Russians were out to pin the French to the river crossing and hoped to isolate those on our side of the river and destroy them, so with that in mind, we advanced. Our artillery hammered the French, constantly driving down their unit integrity. As we advanced, we started taking hits as well. Both sides were taking terrible damage and both armies were slipping down towards 0 morale points. On the Russian right, my infantry pinned my son's infantry in place and at the right moment I slipped two Cossack units through the far right most woods and worked around to his flank. He did not place his infantry in square, and well, you know what happens when cavalry sabres and lances catch infantry in the flank/rear in the open and not in square! After that unit blew up I managed to wreck a few more and the French were passing morale points to us as they went below zero. Our center captured a village and the artillery kept pounding away. Our left stymied the French counter attack with cavalry charges and lots of gunnery, for a solid Russian win. Great fun in a very bloody battle, that both sides could enjoy!

     Our second game was Barry's Huge Borodino game at 7:00 on Friday night. My younger son, just turned 14, joined us. My older son wishing for revenge and lusting for that beautiful Russian artillery switched sides forcing me to the French side across from him, with him firmly entrenched in the Great Redoubt, and left me with Ney's understrength corps attacking the Great Redoubt. My younger son was also on the French side and had to assault the Fleches (Michelle was his direct opponent). This battle, like the real thing was a close run bloodbath, where in the end, it looked like the French would carry the day (around midnight), but it was no sure thing. The center of the Russian line had two breaches forming on both sides of the fleches, My younger son, Travis, was in the fleches, and I had a unit standing at the edge of the redoubt, right in front of the guns (which I had silenced with counter battery fire) and others on its flank. The right side of the French line (Gabe, I think) was pushing the Russians back. In the area between the fleches and the redoubt, the French cavalry and artillery had driven the Russians back to the edge of the board and stopped/slowed to a trickle badly needed Russian reinforcements. The French left flank was being held beautifully by the Army of Italy, gaining a town and repulsing Russian cavalry advances. The only real weak are on the French side was where my Zach had been exacting revenge on me with Russian artillery smashing my Wurttembergers and French line. Fortunately, they did not attack to exploit this weakness until some Russian cavalry on their right, vacated the assault on the army of Italy and began to move toward the beat up Wurttembergers. The army of Italy was adjusting troops to protect that area, I was adjust artillery to help with this, and we had the Vistula Legion about to enter this area on the next turn as reinforcements. 

    My die rolls in this game were at my usual substandard (read: hideous) level except for my artillery rolls, and Zach was having a field day pounding me. I was having success versus the player to Zach's left (the left half of the redoubt- Zach had the right).  <Peter's note - holding the Great Redoubt was a long time wargames friend of Joe and mine, Dave Sweet.>

    All in all, two very enjoyable games. Several years ago I played in the huge Wagram game put on by Peter, Barry, Joe and the Hofkriegsrats. I enjoyed it enough to eventually buy the rules and eventually play them with my boys (incorrectly, but mostly correct). These two games were even better than the others we played, and I must say I really like FOB2. Thanks again Peter, Barry and Joe."

    Well, thank you, Hugh for that great account, and to you, Zach, and Trevor for playing with skill and good humor! As GM's we can set things up, but in the end great players will make even a mediocre game an excellent one. I too think that FoB2 is an exceptionally fun set to play. Hope to see all three of you again at Historicon next year as well!


PS - for some more pics and comments, see Barry's blog at:
and for some outstanding pictures, Gabriel's blog at:


  1. Having too much fun Peter. WR is jealous out in So Cal.
    Cheers again for a fun read and seems a winning Historicon game. Liked the Father son discussion... hopefully my son Daniel will continue with his napoleonic gaming.

    1. Thanks, Michael. I hope Daniel will continue as well - if he has caught the history bug, then most likely he will.

    2. Wargamerabbit,

      If you're interested in any of the Piquet/FOB family of games, I run a regular war gaming group out of Santa Clarita. I think I might have met you before.

      We'd love to host some Nappies.

      Dave M

    3. Dave,

      I suspect Michael is pretty well set with his own rules (see his blog). OTOH, I can vouch for Dave and company as being a hoot to game with!

  2. A great looking game, some really nice pics as well!

  3. Thanks, Garry and Ray!

    There are some even better picture by Ganbriel on his own blog at:


  4. Hi
    Shadows of the past again. Polotsk was my first battle with Napoleon's Battles after I discovered that marvelous ruleset! In my cas, the Russians lose

    1. So far, the Russians had the better of it each time. There were more French troops in the area (another 2 Divisions), but they don't play a role in Day 1. I enjoyed sitting across the table form Bob Coggins (and alongside Jim Getz and his wife) at a Historicon dinner hosted by Bob Jones about 7-8 years ago; interesting conversations, to say the least!

  5. Enjoyable looking game as only massed Napoleonics can do! Thanks Gonsalvo.

    1. Not sure it's limited to Napoleonics (I'd say roughly 1750 - 1815 for core Horse and Musket era, but whatever), but thanks!

      Your own armies are coming along very nicely, David!