Monday, March 30, 2015

AAR: The Katzbach with Snappy Nappy

We ran the Katzbach scenario (August 26, 1813) at HAVOC on Saturday, March 28th. Despite the snow that started that morning and lasted all day and night (mostly melting as temps were just above freezing), turnout for the convention seemed good and we had the full slate of 8 players.

Set up: Christian (Blue shirt) commands St. Priest's 8th Russian Corps and Tschaplitz's 3rd Russian Cavalry Corps. Richard (white shirt) has Yorck's powerful 1st Prussian Corps... although their roster is padded with a large portion of Landwehr!

Another view of the Western part of the battlefield Paul (red shirt) is commanding Lauriston'sV Corps on the front line South of the Katzbach river, while Steve has Gerard's Corps behind that. 

Langeron's powerful Russian Left wing is some distance off to the East of Lauriston. 

Jean (?) makes the first moves with Langeron's wing. 

French opening moves by Steve (?) (Gerard/grey shirt), Greg (Sebastiani's Cavalry Corps/dark blue shirt with HAHGS logo), and Kevin (Souham/brown jacket).

Both sides have some decisions to make at the start of the game; The Allies decide to bring most of Yorck's Prussians South across the Katzbach (which is still fordable in the Eastern portions) to support Langeron's attack. 

The Prussian Foot Artillery, though is sent to support St Priest... and also to try to establish a position enfilading Lauriston's defensive line. Keep your eye on the Russian Line unit with the light yellow flag, the Bieloserk regiment, as the battle unfolds. Tscaplitz's Cavalry, who were lacking maneuver room,  attempted some charges upon Souham's intact defensive line after the rain stopped - they were blown to smithereens by the defensive fire of the French infantry and artillery. 

On he French side, Mc Donald has decided to dispatch Sebastianni's entire Cavalry Corps North across the river in a gigantic left hook. The rainy weather (although it cleared for several hours, before progressing to a Deluge for 2 hours) makes cavalry a bigger threat than usual in this scenario. 

Lauriston's Corps takes a while to reach engagement distance - in Snappy Nappy, musket range is only 1", and extreme range for all but 12 pounders is only 9", so advancing in Line is generally unnecessarily slow until you're 12" or less from the enemy.

Middle stages of the battle - the lone Russian unit in no man's land just North of the Katzbach is our friends, the Bieloserk Infantry Regiment. It is there because it just defeated an attack by two French Line units, one each in column and one in Line. The Russians had been shot up by artillery fire (as had one of the French attackers), but still routed both of its attackers. In Snappy Nappy, if a unit routs an enemy unit in Melee, it regains a Morale level, so they went from "Nervous" to "Firm" as a result!

Late arrival (and veteran of 2 previous Snappy nappy games) James (blue shirt) commands Sacken's 3rd Corps the Rusian reinforcements. James demonstrates why my own 6'4" frame is useful at times when playing miniature wargames! At the end of each tuirn, the GM rolls a D10; if the score is les than or equal to that of the turn just ended, Sacken arrives. So, what happens... at the end of turn 1, I rolled a 1!  Bingo! Sacken arrives on Turn 2!  James makes good use of road columns on the Primary road to get his troops up as quickly as possible. 

North of the Katzbach, the Prussian Artillery has deployed, and makes its presence known by destroying some of the opposing French guns. There's the Bieloserk Regiment again, facing a horde of French infantry - these are Provisional regiments, though - i.e., conscripts.

Yorck's Cavalry has forded the Katzbach and is turning West to threaten Lauriston. In the process, they have caused a bit of a traffic jam with Sacken's arriving reinforcements! Seeing the mass of French cavalry approaching St Priest, Yorcks' infantry has re-crossed the Katzback and is heading West now...

Overview of the main battle lines;Sebastianni's cavalry is readying their "left hook". Hello, what's that we see over the roof top - the yellow flag of the Bieloserk boys! They have charged a French Provisional Light unit... and are about to Rout them , too - Morale level rises to "Bold"!

Paul (Lauriston) works out some combats. He showed considerable talent at passing Morale Checks -0 a very, very useful ability in Snappy Nappy!

The enormous weight of Allied forces against him has begun to tell, and Lauristron's artillery are pulling back to the defensive kine established by Gerard's supporting Corps. Meanwhile, the rain has returned, making  fire of all kinds less effective.

This view shows the second melee of the Bieloserk boys...

and this one shows the results of it's third Melee! St Priest, looking on attached to a Jager regiment, recommends to the Czar that they be promoted to a Grenadier Regiment in his post battle report!

Sebastiani's cavalry announces its arrival by charging some "placeholder" Cossacks; outnumbered 2:1, and with the rains now pouring down in sheets ("deluge"), the result is in little doubt, and the horsemen of the steppes are quickly dispersed. 

The beneficiaries of a shift in Initiative, St Priest has drawn his sword and lead the Bielserk bois in a charge into some exposed French derrieres! Meanwhile, the (newly painted) Pomeranian Landwehr cavalry (white guidon with black "iron cross") "sees the Elephant" in the best possible light - charging into the flank of some French infantry themselves. 

Their target fails its attempt at forming Hasty Square, and with a +6 for cavalry hitting infantry in Line and another plus 9 for hitting a flank, even the Landwehr cavalry has little trouble in trampling the infantry under foot, the deluge penalty just adding further insult to the injury!

Sebastianni's left hook lands hard during the second hour of Deluge conditions. The artillery's fire being notably degraded, his 2 Hussar and one Chevau-Leger Lancier units each charge a Russian battery - and sweep them away!  Behind them, most of the arriving Prussian infantry has wisely formed Square!

The next turn (turn 9) would have seen the deluge decrease to mere Rain once again, but all Terrain would then increase one level in difficulty, the Katzbach becoming everywhere impassable, open ground becoming difficult terrain, etc, thus slowing movement by 1/3. We had now reached the 6PM ending time. 8 turns in about 3.5 hours, not bad. the troop density was probably a bit too high (the very early arrival of Sacken aggravating that somewhat). a 6 foot wide table would have been better, but I might cut the number of units by about 1/3 if I ran it again. 

Total troops:

French:  31 Infantry units (186 figures), 10 Cavalry (40 figures), 16 Artillery units (why I'm not crazy about 1813 battles - too damn much artillery!), 6 command, 283 total.

Allies: 38 Infantry (228 figures), 13 cavalry (52 figures), 27 Artillery (97 figures), 8 Command, 379 total.

Combined total 662 figures.

Thanks to all the players, and especially Greg for helping me set up and take down the game, and James for assisting with take down and discussion of refinements for our big Snappy Nappy Waterloo "Campaign in a Day", to be played at the Portal in Manchester, CT, Sunday April 26th, 10 AM - 5 PM.


  1. Massive game, Peter, and much activity condensed into 3.5 hours of play time.
    Great to see your newly raised LDW cav get the taste of trampling French underfoot.

    I wonder if our historical counterparts experienced traffic jams as frequently as we seem to see in our gaming recreations? Perhaps actual commanders had a better grasp of space/time continuums and logistics?

    Very enjoyable BatRep!

    1. The unit density was probably a bit too high for the table size - would have been OK with a 6 foot wide table, I think.

      Traffic jams on the table happen with high unit density, and of course the exaggeration of depth that is unavoidable when using miniatures. They also happen when players get in each other's way.

      On the strategic level, traffic jams were not uncommon, usually due to misinterpretation of orders, delayed step off times, faulty maps and the like. The SN Campaign in a Day is definitely an invitation to same - they happened in real life on Day 1 with the French crossing at Charleroi, and quite a few happened in 1813 as well.

    2. I have many stories of orders being misinterpreted in my games as well. Not much need for Fog of War or added friction when multiple players are participating. I tell ya, the best laid plans...

    3. Oh, that's one of the fun things about the Snappy Nappy Campaign in a Day coming up - very easy to misunderstand orders, misread maps, etc - all the stuff that happens in real life! Last time one guy moved East when he thought he was going West, then reversed course, but instead of going straight, took a huge detour South through the Mountains to get to his destination - moved over 18 feet in the course of the game. In his defense, I (intentionally) made it pretty easy to make that kind of mistake. We will make it a BIT easier on players this time by having the road exits say "To Charleroi" or whatever, as well as labeling the villages etc on each table map (last time you had to physically move to the village or whatever, and then look at the label on the bottom of the building in order to be sure of where you were!

  2. Looks like everyone was engaged! Great photos.

    1. Thanks, Joe. Look forward to your participation in the Waterloo Campaign event in 4 weeks!

  3. Terrific stuff. It's always glorious to see on of your units develop an immortal reputation like the Bieloserk Berserker Boys. Bravo to them.
    Thanks for this terrifically engaging bat rep.

    1. Thank you, Michael! The Bieloserk are an old, old Minifigs outfit. Can't recall them performing in any remarkable way in their previous 30+ years on the tabletop, but they sure did themselves proud at The Katzbach!

  4. Some type of artillery degradation rule? Maybe lose a morale step after every shot? Kinda like Blucher? I have not cracked open my copy of SN in this is a guess "fix" for too much artillery maybe.

    1. You talking about a counter to the large number of artillery in 1812 and beyond? I think that (and the decline in quality of troops on average, especially after 1812) is just reality. As scenario designer, you can always just arbitrarily increase the artillery ratio somewhat iof you so choose. I don't think the rules need a fix for it at all.

  5. Entertaining report Gonsalvo. I'm going to try and buy a copy of Snappy Nappy.

  6. Thanks, David. SN is available from On Military Matters.

  7. This is definitely what it is all about Peter.

    Lovely photos and I am especially pleased that the newly-formed Pomeranians performed so well.

    1. Thanks, Lawrence. Yes, we spend so much of our time in our hobby on planning, painting, reading, and all the other components, that it is usually the actual games that occupy the least time. And yet, that IS what it is all about!

  8. Excellent Peter, looks like a belter of a game!