Saturday, May 14, 2016

Winter 1807 Snappy Nappy Campaign: The GM speaks!

Game Master’s Thoughts and Perspective, by James

  Overall, I was quite pleased (if I do say so myself) with the way the game and the day turned out. It would appear to me that the GM only really (unintentionally) screwed up one player - Napoleon, perhaps making the French Victory Conditions more than just a trifle unachievable. Oh, well, cannot win them all (sorry Seth!).

In organizing the campaign, there were several things I wanted to accomplish:

1) Players should all have a good time, all have authentic reasonably historical military challenges, and that operations should reach some reasonable conclusion by the end of the day. Ideally, both sides would have an authentic (but not necessarily equal) chance for victory.

2) I wanted to try out several game mechanics such as the Deployment Zone concept with players self-navigating among tables without GM assistance, the use of 15mm troops on The Portal's small tables, tracking casualties via the casualty rings rather than the paper-and-pencil OB rosters, and self-regulated play with players largely able to conduct battle without a GM constantly present.

3) Allow each side to organize itself, develop plans, and consider contingencies the week before the game with a view to expanding the player experience to beyond just the one day.

You all can judge for yourselves how well this all worked.

Major organizational elements of the campaign required that (as far as I am concerned) I read at least two campaign histories in depth (Petre, 1906; Arnold, 2007), get and then develop a good map, develop historical OBs, obtain and organize the figures (I only own Prussians), develop table maps and recruit guys to dress tables, and lord knows what other myriad details were required. I undertook this all both because every now and then (say every two years or so) I really enjoy a massive project like this, and as I indicated above, there were some things I wanted to try.

Crisis in the Snows, by James Arnold (himself a wargamer). 
This, like his earlier Crisis on the Danube, is a great book. It is pricey but well worth it.! I still need to but the sequel on the Spring 1807 campaign, and for that matter, the second half of the 1809 campaign.  I lent my copy to James as a source for background material for the campaign - I agree with him as far as reading at least 2 in depth sources as part of the planning process for this kind of event. 

The Campaign Map

I needed a map which did several things: Showed an authentic road and maneuver network, showed where table boundaries, showed table inter-connections within the area of operations, and showed the terrain for each table. I located a game called the The Eagles Turn East, which covered exactly the campaigns in eastern Poland, scanning its game board and adapting it to an electronic form. For what it is worth, the campaign operations area was almost exactly the same size and shape of Connecticut (allowing you must rotate Connecticut by 90-degrees). This is roughly an area 175 miles north/south by 90 miles east/west, remembering this is all in the bitter cold and deep snow of eastern Poland in February 1807. I actually used probably a third of the roads and towns from the game board (that board being a 5' x 3' hex grid - massive detail !!).

The Operations Map Showing Road Net and Table Boundaries

This map gives you an idea how crafty James was in both using natural barriers as "off table" barriers, as well as the spaces in the map between tables. This definitely threw  most of us off, as in the past there have been distortions, but major towns on the player map always appeared on the table - not so here!

    For criteria as to how I wanted my final operations map to look, I had decided to shoot for a dozen table tops (that's what we had for the Waterloo game last year), and I wanted enough roads to create a maneuver network allowing at least two or three ways to reach any given destination. In addition, since the entire operations area could not be modeled on just a dozen tables, I decided the tables themselves would represent (as Russ intuited) "interesting" areas where battles might occur. Rivers would lie along and just off table edges, justifying why battles were fought at the given locale - you fight adjacent to, not in the middle of rivers.

    I deliberately located table boundaries around significant road junctures and then I artificially shmushed rivers around a bit to bound where I figured I wanted tables to appear on the Op map. That left some towns unreachable by players as they maneuvered across tables. To deal with this, I marked roads leading off tables as going to these "unreachable towns" with the net effect that it was possible to "walk through" any location on the road map, but you could not necessarily stop there. For example, a road leaving Table A might say that you were heading onto Table B, along the way getting to say the town of Depper. However, when you got to Table B, the Table B map would tell you Depper was exactly back the way you had just come. Probably a bit of cruel GM joke this, but I figured it a level playing field (both sides equally affected), and frankly, I did not want the player's maneuver map to show only the table top towns - such would make map reading less authentic. Side commanders had to assign routes of march and destinations based on their maps and players then had to figure out how to navigate the actual territory (a la the principle that the map is not the territory).

The net result was that few tables had rivers, a good thing because they were frozen anyway and tabletop rivers steal precious table space. Most significantly, if a GM runs a river through a table, guaranteed one side or the other on that table will rest a flank on the river with the table space on the far river side typically unused and wasted. Therefore, my logic that rivers were "just off board". To allow that rivers (and unplayable forest areas) create defiles leading to bottlenecks, I tried to make Deployment Zones proportional in size to the connected off-table terrain features. A small DZ connected to an off-table river crossing constrained the number of troops that could enter a table from the given direction just as debouching from a bridge or forest road defile would so constrain deployment into battle.

As a player, THIS is the map I would love to have had - all thirteen tables with their road connections!  Actually, there were even 2  MORE tables, "X" representing the Easternmost road network, and "Y", representing the Westernmost road net. 

I should note that there are two "holes" on the campaign map (large areas without a corresponding table top presence) - one being the area surrounded by Tables R, H, E, and K, and the other area being smaller, covering the map area between Tables E, J and D. These gaps existed because I wanted to foreshorten the Heilsburg table to better represent this actual historical battlefield, and there simply was otherwise too large a map area to cover without using another table or two. Note also that the ground scale on the N and S tables (French setup tables) covers about twice as much real world space as do the other tables, again, because it was the easiest way to address the needed table / map coverage and this area was unlikely to see combat. The net effect of these various distortions was that the French probably had a good 30 miles less to travel (relative to the historical French) when marching from Warsaw to Danzig or Koenigsburg.

Miniatures of all fifteen tables!  Next are larger versions of each, alphabetically...

for Troop Movement Between Multiple Tables:
DZs are “ transfer sites” between tables. - Tables have printed maps showing DZs & table interconnections (see diagram). - Example: On Table W, zone W4 connects to the town of Prassnitz via the P3 zone on Table P, zone W3 connects to zone S1 and the town of Plonsk on Table S, etc. - Another way to put it is that troops moving into the W4 DZ would transfer to Table P, entering at its P3 zone, thereby getting to Prassnitz. Units coming from the city of Plonsk via the S1 zone on Table S would enter Table W at the W3 zone, etc. 

1) WHEN UNITS WALK INTO A DZ: On next turn, they must transfer to other table OR reenter current table. Players get a free set up of the transferred units in other table’s DZ. 
    A) TURN SEQUENCE: Units join table’s current turn sequence, BUT only after opponent has had a full normal move phase. 
    B) EXIT! A Unit must exit a DZ as soon as it may move. It could transfer back to its original table. NO ping ponging between tables! 
    C) SAFETY: Units may not be attacked in nor attack from within a DZ. 
3) SPECIAL SITUATIONS: Get the GM if you have questions.

Scenario Specific Rules

    I opted to make all command radii 18" for simplicity and because 18" was a major leash in the supply rules (it being the max distance a supply wagon could feed a unit). I know the 18" Russian command radius tremendously favored the Russians (versus had they been saddled with the game's 9" Russian command radius). However, quite simply, as a GM, if I made the Russians use their 9-inch "historical" radius (Russ - do note the scare quotes :), how do I compensate them for game balance? Is their coordinated starting position compensation (see below)? Do I give them easier VP (victory points)? Do I give them more troops and if so, how many points more? Since I had no idea how to balance this out, I chose to make it a non-factor.

Snappy Nappy, by Russ Lockwood.
There is a lot more information on Snappy Nappy here, along with purchase information. 

    By the same token, for simplicity and frankly as a bit of GM personal preference, I allowed units out of command radius to roll their morale to get a normal move and get a formation and/or facing change with no move if they failed (the Rules as Written say 1/2 move on success, no move whatsoever on failure). As far as I know, this never entered play, but I suspect both sides left several cavalry units screening their rear areas to act as a slightly mobile "trip wire" should enemy make an appearance. I suspect the respective side commanders were more comfortable leaving these penny packet forces behind because of the easier out-of-command rule (and as a GM I like seeing attention to such rear-area security).

    For the same reason of promoting game balance, I gave both sides roughly equal sized troop point totals and roughly comparably sized forces among players. The one bias I did make was to give the Russians three guns for every two guns the French had, but Russian guns were Seasoned versus French being Veteran. This was because the French historically had a terrible time getting their guns all the way to the battlefield (horrible bogging problems), and the Russians tended to have way more guns in the actual battles. However, if you do the math the 3-to-2, Seasoned-to-Veteran ratios turn out to be pretty close to a fair fight. (Here's the details: 21 points of Russian guns to 16 points of French; French guns take 11 hits to kill the two stands, Russian guns take 10 hits to kill the three stands; the French get 25% more hits per gun. Not quite even, but not completely unmatched either.)

    Both sides had pretty close to the same number of troop quality bases (same number of Veteran, Elite, and Guards), excepting the 350-odd points of Russian Seasoned guns was balanced against 350-odd points of French Veteran stands (a net plus of maybe 150 points to the French in my estimation).

I chose to play without Snappy Nappy's formation orders system (p. 16 - Attack / Probe / Screen / Maneuver / Defend / WIthdraw / Rally). Quite simply, across a dozen tables and upwards of 20 guys, as a GM I find it virtually impossible to consistently and fairly enforce the orders on players. I did allow players to Rally to recover morale loss.

All roads were primary roads for simplicity. In addition, players could converse if on the same table and otherwise had to use written messages.


    My readings of the campaign histories (Arnold & Petre) indicated how uniquely severe was the issue of exposure and supply in this campaign, short as the campaign was. As such, I spent an undue effort trying to develop and boil down reasonable supply rules, bouncing ideas off Peter, Russ, Phil, and Mark H., all of whom I can absolutely credit with helping me get down to something that in fact might have been reasonable. Oh - I should also mention that Peter took it upon himself to create some FORTY-TWO supply wagons and some dozen depot markers in anticipation of my needs. Turned out all was for nought, as, come the day, I chickened out in order to get the game moving in a timely way. In retrospect, it probably would have been easy enough to play with the supply rules, but as I think Peter has said somewhere, it is not clear the supply rules really would have made much difference. Then again...., maybe we will get to see and try them out some other time.

(For a quick summary of the supply rules: Supply required each player to drop a "Line-of-Communication marker" where he entered a table and another one where he exited the table, making a string of markers across tables that showed where his LOC traced. An enemy interrupting this trace would be a bad thing, leading to a player who lost his LOC having to start making one-shot morale checks for his units.)

    I should note that supply and the risk to LOCs was one of the factors I' had hoped would influence overall strategy and maneuver between each side. Dropping the supply rules meant Napoleon did not quite have that arrow in his quiver with which to threaten a deep Russian advance (but then neither did Benningsen have such against Napoleon). C'est la vie!

Historical Set-up and Player Assignments

    The historical campaign situation demanded the French start "wrong footed" (this expression being Peter's) with two French corps out on a limb to the north, and the rest of the French army being far to the south in and around Warsaw and Thorn. Historically, Bernadotte (French I Corps) was covering the isolation of Danzig, while the historical Ney (French VI Corps) had chosen to advance his forces halfway across the map to as far as Schippenbeil (grid cell 2B on the road map).

    I knew these historical French assignments were going to be horribly challenging to the assigned French players, so I arranged for two very experienced players (Mark M. as Ney and Robert - last year's Napoleon - as Bernadotte). I also had standby players planned in case one of these two could not make it. Unfortunately, Rob and the French standby both had last minute issues keeping them away, which left Mike getting slotted into the meat grinder that Bernadotte's command suffered through.

    If truth be known, I had originally planned (heh, heh) for Russ and Dan to be Ney and Bernadotte. However, when player requests came back, pretty much a full slate of pre-registered players wanted to be French, which bumped Russ and Dan to the Russians (they willing to play either side).

    Since the historical Ney was actually rather out of touch with Imperial HQ regarding his whereabouts and his plans, I had decided that initial communications between between Ney and Napoleon would incur a 30-minute communication delay. This was just my best guess as to what was fair, what would allow the situation to appropriately develop, and whatnot. Bernadotte's messages would have the 15-to-20 minute delay I used for most of the day with all messages.

    The historical Benningsen wanted to perform some sort of aggressive move against Napoleon, but in fact knew little if anything of Ney's advanced position and little of Bernadotte's (Bernadotte was just arriving into position when the Russian onslaught hit him). As such, the historical Benningsen marched rather far afield across what is the top of the Operations map, striking westward (down on the map) into Ney's position around Heilsburg and then into Bernadotte, hitting both more by luck than design. I had no way to completely keep Benningsen (the player) in the dark (I had borrowed the Arnold book from him after all), but I of course told Peter little of the French deployments, and he was a gentleman in not informing his players what to possibly expect.

    Because I did not want to artificially constrain the Russians (I did not know how to reasonably do so), I allowed them to enter however they wanted from the top of the map (excepting the Johannisburg - Williamburg road which they knew was out). [GM note: bit of a map screw-up on may part - I failed to early catch that this road connected three DZs - a distinct no-no, which I patched by shutting the road down.] Because of the Russian flexibility in entering the playing area in a highly coordinated way across a wide area of the map, I did try to compensate the French. I made the Russian victory conditions require they fight far to the west to obtain their most lucrative victory points, thereby exposing the Russian LOC to potential thrusts by Napoleon. Of course, dropping supply rules meant lessening the seriousness of this threat.

Opening Moves

    Literally knowing absolutely nothing of the either the Russian or French pre-game plans, I still knew opening moves would almost certainly follow a particular pattern, with Ney and Bernadotte being badly surprised. As GM, I made every effort to insure this. The way these two players reacted would largely determine the early part of the game. As it happens, both chose to stand and fight, having no idea if, when, or if ever succor might arrive or what affect their stand might have on the game. In 20/20 hindsight, I do wish I had not emphasized so strongly to all French that they were not allowed to move off their starting table without Napoleon's explicit orders, as players have a tendency to believe the GM in these things (to be fair, I also qualified the restriction by saying, "No moving..unless facing overwhelming odds", where to my mind, 2:1 is starting to get pretty overwhelming).

[As an aside, I have to say that, myself, if the GM tells me I have to do something that I consider military idiocy, I will risk being thrown out of the game rather than follow his strictures. About once every year or two I actually retreat my forces off table when it is my judgment as a player that a scenario is unintentionally horribly unbalanced and retreating is the intelligent response. But, then, I must allow that's me.]

    In the game, Ney (Mark M.) started at Heilsburg (Table H, map grid 3C) rather than Neidenburg (Table N) as Napoleon expected, and Ney was the only French player allowed to move on the first turn (this being essentially what happened with the Historical Ney). Quite the surprise that in the first minutes of moving, French cavalry spotted masses of Russians coming from the extreme east and Russians so immediately spotted French! The one communication that went awry the whole game was from the French cavalry spotting these Russians (sorry Mark - but I'd predetermined it - that cavalry's warning was for YOU to prepare, and we're only talking 10 minutes here), so Ney's first report received by the Emperor came from when Russians started to enter Ney's Table H at Heilsberg.

    Shortly afterwards, Russians maneuvering north of Ney (this would be Russ as Osten-Sacken with the Russian 3rd Division) and Dan (as Golitsyn with the 2nd Russian Division) debouched almost simultaneously in front of Bernadotte on Table D (the Danzig table - are you getting the theme how tables got their letter IDs?). Bernadotte, so it seemed to the GM anyway, seemed not well apprised of the overall strategic situation, he was set up mid-table and not covering his LOC or possible retreat path. Again, to be fair, because the LOC was made a non-issue, We are responsible (note due use of the "royal We" here).

    Excepting for a message Bernadotte sent to Napoleon literally just minutes before the arrival of the Russians (something about the wonderful brothels his men were finding in the Danzig area), near as I know, there were no further communications from Bernadotte to Napoleon informing Nappy about Bernadotte's predicament. However, I may have this wrong, as Napoleon (Seth) once he heard of the Russian movements from Ney certainly started to move heaven, earth, and all the French to Danzig (including trying to order Ney there!). Ney of course was messaging madly away, but, dang, he was far from where the established Imperial Courier service routes.

The net result was that, unlike their historical counterparts who turned and bolted for their lives, our Ney and Bernadotte dug in and refused to budge, becoming anvils that the on-coming Russian masses pounded against.

Development of the Game

    The opening moves started I believe a tad bit before 11am, with the first two GM-controlled moves completed I believe around 11:15am. Ney's scouting cavalry spotted the Russians at about 11:20am, with the Russians seriously entering Ney's table shortly after 11:30. I would guess this was about the arrival time of the Russians on Bernadotte's table also. Napoleon received Ney's first missive at 11:55am, with French orders going out shortly thereafter.

    In the time lapse video, I notice all French disappearing from their starting table around 12:15 - 12:20 and quite literally everybody is off-camera by 12:30pm, indicating they are at least to the Allenstein or Jankovo tables (Tables A & J), and approaching the Danzig table. Truth to tell, French movements got really hazy for me as the GM at this point until so many of them had arrived at the Danzig table, starting to do so a tad before 13:00 and continuing into Danzig until around 14:00 (there's a 13:00 message from Soult saying he is deploying for entry to the Danzig table). Anyway, I make out that the fight on the Danzig table had been going for a good 90 minutes by the time serious French reinforcements were arriving, and it was to continue for over a further three hours before I called the action. It seemed to me, both from AARs and from my sense that the French were rather bottlenecked on the routes and DZs they used to get into Danzig. I certainly might have this wrong.

    From messages, there seemed to have been some peeking back and forth of Allies and French from the Elditten (Table E) and Mehlsack (Table M) tables, but no serious thrusts. 
L'Estocq (Mark T.) covered the Russian rear at Mehlsack and Danzig, but seemed to have largely kept himself in reserve, until around 15:00 when he left half his forces covering the Russian LOC at Mehlsack (I believe), using the other half of his force to make a half-hearted move for Jankovo (Table J, a vital victory point for the Allies). Finding the route unguarded, he slipped into Jankovo thereby "relieving the isolation of Graudenz" (a 1 VP credit).

By entering Jankovo, I make out that the Prussians, in addition to relieving Graudenz, had simultaneously cut the main French LOC (again, as I understand it and allowing we didn't play with LOCs, sigh). No gold, but certainly Glory. (Peter - actually, as the campaign rules were written, as long as the forces were "in combat", the supply rules didn't apply as far as having to take morale checks for being out of supply. Thus I personally doubt the supply rules would have made any real difference here)

    Meantime, Ney's remnants had escaped Heilsburg, heading west (downwards on the Op map) to try to link up with Napoleon at Marienburg (on the Danzig table). Instead, Ney encountered the Prussians at Jankovo just in time to prevent the Prussians from moving freely on towards and threatening Thorn, Warsaw, and the main French depots. However, Ney's presence recaptured the Glory by blocking the Prussian threat to the French depots behind him at Neidenburg and further south at Warsaw and Thorn. Had we played say another two hours, who knows what would have happened here, but at some point, all good things come to an end, and night falls. C'est le guerre.

    Whilst all the sturm und drang around Danzig occurred, up at Bishofsburg on Table U, Max (Davout, French III Corps) and Jim (Sedmoratzky, Russian 6th Division) were having a hammer-and-tongs knockdown, drag-out fight-to-the-death of their own. I witnessed most of this directly, helping GM much of it. I make out that about 12:30pm on Table U at Bischofsburg, Davout encountered Sedmoratzky. Sedmoratzky's mission was to be the easternmost blocking force protecting the main Russian army LOC back into Russia. For almost four hours the two of them went at each other, with Davout finally out of cavalry and his infantry in defensive squares. (Davout only had one unit, but Sedmoratzky had two cavalry units). Sedmoratzky ultimately got the better of the French, in no small part thanks to the 18" Russian command radius allowing him to swing his cav wide around and into Davout's. 
[As a sidebar GM comment here: I fear the Duke of Auerstadt failed to appreciate the quality of his elite infantry, as even when in column against enemy cavalry, his 3-base elite infantry could have been quite a match against cavalry. However, to be fair, it was not until the next day that I realized this myself. Then again, I was not there and do not really know what happened exactly or how things transpired. I just know the two of them had one heck of a knockdown drag-out fight lasting I'd guess at least two-dozen turns.]

A Note on Messages and Depth of Player Experience

    The Allied commanders were fast and furious in sending messages back and forth and trying to keep Benningsen informed. In contrast, the vast bulk of messages on the French side seemed principally from Napoleon, with relatively few originating from his Corps commanders. To be fair, Napoleon seemed to have traveled closely with his troops, which would have allowed him to command without messages and without needing reports from his commanders. However, in contrast, Davout was strictly a messaging affair with very little information traveling in either direction (one message per hour or so). On the Allied side between Bennigsen and Sedmoratzky, there was nearly three times the number of messages. The point being that in general, the Allies made a concerted effort to maintain communications. Truth to tell though, this came largely from the great efforts and experience of Peter, Russ, and Dan, and we might all profit in future play from the example. (Peter: there is a log of all the messages sent at the end of this post)

As another observation that Peter has made to me, the Allies were pretty good about marching along parallel roads and using different deployment zones from each other. The French, particularly in terms of getting to and onto the Danzig table seemed to have some bottlenecking going on. I give Peter credit (as, ahem does he himself), for having run three of these campaigns previously and seen the great import of using parallel routes to avoid players clogging a common path. That bataillon carré thing of Napoleon's did and does indeed work. (Peter: you took the words right out of my mouth about the "battalion carre". Oh, and that was Bennigsen patting himself on the back... sorta!)

The Might Have Beens

This is the Wild Speculation Section, with no necessary justification for being right, merely for being a bad historian and slinging historical mud at the respective commanders for all their supposed missed opportunities. I trust you all take it with an appropriate grain of salt. :)

The first might-have-been I saw was Osten (Russ) continuing to make his way down to Danzig when, having spotted Ney to his south, he might have cut in behind Ney, completely taking him in the rear while Ney was being bludgeoned by the massive assault to his front. Instead of a three-hour battle, it might have only been 90 minutes. Even Ney's magnificent morale dice could not have mastered charges into his rear. But, no, Osten-Sacken had to follow orders and continue to Danzig, there to annihilate Bernadotte. (Peter: Yes, he was following orders, and if you check the messages, you will see that at one point I suggested this course to him. By the time the delays in messages had taken it's toll, it was LONG past the point where this would have been possible even when I wrote it.) 

As for Ney, Bravest of the Brave, Zaniest of the Crazies, truly a magnificent fight. I make out he single-handedly held open the French army's main route into Danzig (as far as I understand the matter at the moment).

If I understand it properly, most of the French coming from Warsaw and Soldau (Tables W & S), heading towards Danzig, had to travel through either Allenstein (Table A) or Jankovo (Table J). (But not Murat from Thorn as I know he took the "Vistula scenic route" via Table Y to get to Danzig, though it appears to me he did transit through Jankovo himself?)

Had Ney withdrawn early, the Russians would likely have advanced to Table A at Allenstein, making a French advance through Table A or through Jankovo to Danzig highly unlikely. The big fight then likely occurring around Allenstein [a GM original expectation, if truth be known]. So, kudos to Ney for holding open the door for the French move on Danzig.

On the other hand, whilst Bernadotte would surely have been sacrificed had Ney fallen back, Ney would have met up with the main French army, then turning to take on the forces chasing him. I expect the French would have enjoyed a decided superiority in force on Table A (or possibly Table N), at least until Osten and Golitsyn could finish munching Bernadotte and arrive to help. A big fight on Table A might also have allowed forces to be sent to Davout's aid to turn the Russian eastern flank (or vice versa - Russian forces to aid Sedmoratzky to drive Davout back and then perhaps slipping into Neidenburg (Table N) behind the French fighting on Table A. Ah, so many possibilities.

Then there is Ney's retreat at the end, fortuitously blocking Allied easy movement against the French depots. Without Ney retreating when he did, the door to the French larder would have been all but open to the Prussians. T'is better to be lucky than good, so I've heard it said.

As for other might-have-beens, there are some interesting ones.

At 14:20, I surveyed the tables, marking the forces on a map (see photo - cannon indicate major battles, infantry stands indicate a screening force). There were major battles at:
- Table U (Bischofsburg) - Davout & Sedmoratzky,
- Table H (Heilsburg) - Ney's battle,
- Table D (Marienburg) - Bernadotte's battle,
Screening forces at:
- Table E (Elditten) - Allied screening forces
- Table J (Jankovo) - French screening Lt Cav
- Table N (Neidenburg) - French screening Lt Cav

James Overview map as of 14:20

The above configuration in fact precluded either side trivially walking across the other side's LOC without detection. However, any player's force could easily have brushed aside the above screening forces, allowing a direct threat to the enemy rear. This is strictly my general perception and without any detailed knowledge of the specific tactical or operational considerations.

About 15:00, I took Benningsen and Napoleon both aside, to pointedly indicate there likely were still maneuver opportunities across the tables. I just wanted to make sure both commanders did not let opportunity slip for lack of considering the map and the possibilities. Perhaps a bit intrusive as the GM, but I figured it a level playing field - both sides had equal opportunities (though I'll allow I did not know what), and I brought up the point with the two of them present together. As it happens, both demurred, feeling they were fully committed and happy with their current deployments. I raise this matter so players know that things did not happen by default but that both commanders were fully cognizant and in command of the situation. Kudos to them. :)  

(Peter: It was clear that unless relief was forthcoming for Golitsyn and Osten-Saacken, "bad things" were going to happen for the Russians at Danzig with them facing Lannes, Soult, Murat, and later Augereau and the Guard! Thus I sent Ostermann-Tolstoi on to the Danzig/Marienburg table via a new route, opening up a new front on that table and pretty much guaranteeing that many hours of fighting would be needed  for any real resolution - fine by me, as we had already accounted for Bernadotte and Ney (sort of).  Once I realized that the situation at Marienburg/Danzig was going to be an extended deadlock with Ostermann-Tolstoi added to the mix, I counter-marched the Guard to Uertelsberg/Bischofsburg ("Benny and the Jets!"), where it seemed likely that the appearance of even 4 units of Fresh, elite troops would probably suffice to end the stalemate there between Sedmoratsky and Davout, and thus possibly eliminating yet a third French Corps from play. Then Sedmoratsky and I might have had the chance to press on to Warsaw.  If I'd thought of this earlier, and headed that way initially from Heilsberg after Ney's defeat, instead of following Osterman-Tolstoi towards Danzig, I might have had sufficient time to make that plan come to fruition by the end of the game. Couldda, Wouldda, Shouldda!)

At 15:30, I again surveyed the tables to lay out a map illustrating the overall situation (see the other photo).

James Overview map as of 15:30

The situation is much the same as at 14:20, but the Heilsburg battle had ended and Allied forces had moved into Allenstein (Table A), with Ney's force doing it's blocking effort down at Jankovo against the Prussians. The Allied force at Allenstein (Brian - Tuchkov's 5th Div?) could have pushed on into Neidenburg (Table N) against the light French screen there (say, leaving a covering force at Allenstein to protect the Russian LOC back through Elditten and Mehlasck). Instead, this force turned west (downwards on the map) to chase Ney. Not an unreasonable decision as the Prussians (to me) looked like they were getting beat up by Ney's remnants until Brian arrived. Even then, Ney looked like he was full of fight, again out numbered some three-to-one. Ah, you got to love the crazy fool.

(Peter: actually, Brian had specific orders to pursue Ney, and if possible, come upon the Danzig table from behind via table J, i.e. via the J7/D3 Deployment zones. The appearance of the new "reserve"  French Corps from Warsaw under Rapp (Mike), and Ney's aggressive actions prevented that from happening. However, Lestocq did manage to sneak into Jankovo, relieving Graudenz and scoring another VP - good opportunism on his part! As for Ney, he truly deserved the "Bravest of the Brave" sobriquet that day!). 

Anyway, I am heading off to the Huzzah convention tomorrow in Portand, ME for the weekend. Hopefully, I will see (have seen?) some of you there and we can continue hashing the glories.

Thanks all for what I truly found has been a very enjoyable time and project. And again, particular thanks to Peter for his efforts and support.


(Peter:  Thank YOU, James! You did a super job, and put in a heck of a lot of hard work. It very much showed in the final product! Best of all, I didn't have to do it this year, and maybe Dan will do it next year! Hope you have a great time at Huzzah!  Perhaps I'll make it there some year if I don't go to Historicon. I am increasingly thinking of doing a Snappy Nappy Campaign in a Day there at some point  - maybe 2018?

Thanks also to Greg who did a great job "dressing" 3 tables, and Joe and Mark who each did one as well. That's a HUGE help, guys!)

The Winter 1807 Campaign Message Log

# From Location To Message Deliv Sent

1 Golitsyn Eylau Bennigsen Ney's cavalry appear at Eylau 1142 1122
2 Ney Konigsburg Napoleon My Chasseurs found Russian army. 6 heavy cav units, 20 inf units. Russians moving west toward E5 [and] M2 1155 1125
3 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon Lots & lots of Russians marching from Koenigsburg toward Eylau (B2) 1202 1132
4 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon Under attack by lots of Russian cavalry 1208 1138
5 Osten
Bennigsen Ney Division at Heilsberg - 5 inf, 3 cav, 1 art 1156 1136
6 Ney Rasenberg (B3) Napoleon Lots more Rus cav & inf leaving Rasenberg going west 1208 1138
7 Golitsyn Eylau (A1) Bennigsen Ney's scout have sighted our commands. Sackens scouts sighted Ney south of Eylau. L'estoc is in front of me. Do you want me to attack Ney's corps. 1202 1142
8 Osten
Bennigsen At Guttstadt, passing thru Elditten 1210 1150
9 Bernadotte Marienburg Napoleon The best looking women are here in Danzig!! 1214 1154
10 Napoleon Pultusk Bernadotte Ney reports Russian force approach/[UNREADABLE] from east. Defend Marienburg. 1220 1200
11 Napoleon Pultusk Ney March to Marineburg. Reinforce Bernadotte. [NOT CLEAR IF MESSAGE WAS SENT AS IT WAS CROSSED OUT] 1220 1200
12 Bennigsen Rasenberg (B3) Golitsyn Yes attack Ney & drive him back. 1221 1201
13 Osten
Bennigsen French I Corps Bernadotte at Marienburg (near Danzig). 3rd Div (me) & Prussians I Corp arrived, 4th Div (Golitsyn) behind Prus. 1222 1202
14 Napoleon Pultusk Murat March to Liebmuhl via Soldau, Jankovo. Detach one division to screen Warsay at Neidenburg. 1222 1202
15 Bennigsen W. of Rastenburg Golitsyn Yes attack Ney, drive him back/off & proceed on. 1223 1203
16 Napoleon Pultusk Lannes March to Elditten via Prassnitz - Allenstein - Deppen 1225 1205
17 Napoleon Pultusk Davout March to Elditten via Prassnitz - Hatenburg - Heilsburg 1225 1205
18 Golitsyn Outside Danzig Bennigsen L'estoq, sacken, & I have contacted Benadotte outside Danzig. 1228 1208
19 Osten
Tuchkov 3rd Div (Osten), I Prussian (L'Estoq) & 4th (Golitsyn) are at Marienburg (near Danzig) --> French = I Corp 1228 1208
20 Napoleon Pultusk Augereau March to Elditten via Plonsk - Soldau - Jankovo 1210 1205/1210
21 Bennigsen W. of Rastenburg Osten Have you made contact w/ Lestoq? If so he should march on Danzig ASAP 1231 1211
22 Bennigsen W. of Rastenburg Golitsyn Where is Lestoq? Have him report and L'estoq should press on to Danzig to raise [??] it 1231 1211
23 Bennigsen W. of Rastenburg Osten Attack Bernadotte and relieve the siege [sic] of Danzig 1237 1217
24 Osten
Bennigsen Engaging Bernadotte to try and relieve Danzig. Prussiand & 3rd Div deployed. 4th Div. Coming on. 1238 1218
25 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon Facting two Russian Corps. 6 cav units, 12 inf units, 6 guns. Will hold as long as I can. 1240 1220
26 Sedmoratzky Bischofsburg Bennigsen Battle sounds heard coming from Heilsburg. Should I reinforce our troops, privide back up, what? Sir? 1241 1221
27 Bennigsen Heilsburg Osten If you are not engaged and can march East to Heilsberg you can do so if feasible. 1250 1230
28 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon A third Russian Corps just showed up (see map on reverse) 1250 1230
29 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon Received your order from noon to march to help Bernadotte. Unable to do sor for nowas am facing 3 Russian Corps. 1255 1235
30 Davout Zandy Napoleon Russian 6th Division blocking road to Heilsberg. Advancing to engage. 1256 1236
31 Golitsyn Outside Danzig Bennigsen L'estoq, Sacken & I are triple teaming Bernadotte. 1257 1237
32 Murat
Napoleon Only my Lt Cav Div at Niedenburg. No enemy, do I stay put? 1304 1244
33 Bennigsen Heilsburg Osten If you can march East on Heilsberg to take Ney in rear, do so. Otherwise attack Bernadotte to relieve Danzig. 1305 1245
34 Bennigsen Heilsburg Golitsyn Attack Bernadotte & relieve Danzig 1305 1245
35 Lannes Allenstein - Jankovo Napoleon No contact yet. 1305 1245
36 Osten
Bennigsen Soult (IV Corp) entered Marienburg - Danzig table. 3rd Russian Cav presses (??) past M'burg.4th Div (Golitsyn) pressing towards Danzig. Both advancing. 1305 1245
37 Bennigsen Heilsburg Sedmoratzky We have 4:1 advatnage at Heilsberg. Hold your postion. 1308 1248
38 Osten
Bennigsen Fully engaged w/ Bernadotte and Soult is on my flank (came from Oserode/Liebmul). I Corp Prussians are marching to intercept Soult. 1313 1253
39 Soult Marienburg Napoleon I marched thrugh Jankovo (4D). I am deploying at Marienburg in support of Bernadotte, on the flank of Russian I Corps Lestoq. 1320 1300
40 Lannes Elditton/Gutstadt Napoleon Prussians coming up the road from Mehlsack [UNREADABLE] 1323 1303
41 Bennigsen Heilsburg Sedmoratzky Ney is gradually being defeated. What is your status? 1325 1305
42 Osten
Bennigsen French I Cav Corps comng on M'burg - Danzig table behind Soult. Prussian I Corp left. 1329 1309
43 Napoleon Jankovo Lannes March to Pr Holland 1332 1312
44 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon Have you not received my messages? Have been facing 3 Russian Corps since 11:38 - cannot disengage. 1339 1319
45 Bennigsen Heilsburg Osten OK, continue to attempt relief of Danzig & defeat French. 2 Russian corps assalting Ney near Heilsburg - stubborn defense. 1340 1320
46 L'Estocq Guttstadt Bennigsen 5th Corp in fight [??] [SCRATCHED OUT MATERIAL] Mehlsack at threat! I will fall back! 2 Russian corp fighting at Danzig! 1342 1322
47 Sedmoratzky Bischofsburg Bennigsen Sir - I'm holding 3rd Corps French and slowly being worn down - will fight to bitter end if [UNINTELLIGIBLE] 1342 1322
48 Bennigsen Heilsburg Sedmoratzky I hear gunfire from Bischofsburg. What is your status? 1350 1330
49 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon The Tsar and Guards are here now - still fighting. 1353 1333
50 Osten
Bennigsen IV Corp & I Cav Corp on table in M'burg. L'estocq [??] towards Danzig. Possible 3rd Corp coming too. 1356 1336
51 Lannes Guttstadt Napoleon Prussian Corp retreated w/o fight the way the came (Mehlsack/M3). PURSUE? 1357 1337
52 Bennigsen Heilsburg Golitsyn 2 Corps + Guard engaged w/ Ney - valiant defense (rolls high all the time! :)). Continue to defeat Bernadotte & relieve Danzig. 1359 1339
53 Golitsyn Danzig Bennigsen L'estoq left the field. Soult & Murat are arriving to help Benadotte, who is in a bad way. 1400 1340
54 Bennigsen Heilsburg Sedmoratzky Very good, carry on and hold your positon vs 3rd Corps. 1400 1340
55 Golitsyn Danzig Bennigsen Lannes is arriving, so Soult, Murat, and the rest of Bernadottte will be fighting Sacken and I. 1404 1344
56 Bennigsen Heilsburg L'Estocq OK to withdraw gradually. We are attempting to destroy Ney here. 1405 1345
57 Sedmoratzky Bischofsburg Bennigsen Sir, I'm currently heavily engaged in battle with Davout's 3rd Corps 1410 1350
58 Davout Bischofsburg Napoleon Have taken 1/2 of Biscofsburg. Fighting 7th Division. 1410 1350
59 Napoleon Marienburg Ney You may withdraw your corps. Surviving more important than position. Main army at Marienburg. 1411 1351
60 Bennigsen Heilsburg Osten Believe 3rd Corps engaged with 6th Div at Bischofsburg. We remain [??] slowly grinding down Ney. 1413 1353
61 Napoleon Marienburg Lannes March to Heilsberg to support Ney. 1414 1354
62 Osten
Bennigsen French V Corps arrived from Guttstadt. The collapse is beginning. 3 vs 3rd isn't going to hold. 1416 1356
63 Bennigsen Heilsburg Golitsyn Carry on w/ defeat of Bernadotte & relief of Danzig. 1418 1358
64 Napoleon Marienburg Davout Report? 1428 1408
65 Ney Heilsburg Napoleon Position critical - can only hold a few more turns - will hold on as long as I can. 1430 1410
66 Bennigsen Heilsburg Golitsyn We are completing destructon of Ney and then should be able to release some forces. 1431 1411
67 Osten
Bennigsen Osten capture marienburg, but collapsing under pressure of two French Corps. 4th Div. Overruning French I Corps Bernadotte 1447 1427
68 L'Estoq Elbing Bennigsen Me & 1 Hvy Cav, 2 Lt Cav, 2 Inf, 1 artillery proceeding to Jankovo. Rest stays in Elbing. 1449 1429
69 Bennigsen Heilsburg Golitsyn Ney is slowly crumbling but still holding here. 1450 1430
70 Golitsyn Danzig Bennigsen Bernadotte virutally destroyed (2 units left). Danzig relieved - for now. 3 new French Corps are advancing. 1450 1430
71 Osten
Bennigsen VII Corp French arriving from south, also heading to Danzig. Got IV Corp, V Corps, VII Corp & I Cav Corp on table heading towards Danzig, will take time, out… [??] 1454 1434
72 Napoleon Marienburg Ney Holding not necessary. Return to Bischanburg [??] or Elditten 1457 1437
73 Bennigsen Bischofsburg Tuchkov Hold your position & prevent French from going for Danzig [??]. I am assisting Sedmoratzky in defeating Davout, then will march to [UNINTELLIGBLE] 1505 1445
74 Davout Bischofsburg Napoleon Fully engaged. No breakthrough soon. 1510 1450
75 Bennigsen Heilsburg Sedmoratzky Ney is defeated, remnants coming toward you followed by Tuchkov's Russians. 1513 1453
76 Bennigsen Heilsburg Golitsyn Ney is defeated, remnants retreating to Biscofsburg [??]. We are marching on Elditten w/ 1 Corp [??] & Guard 1520 1500
77 Bennigsen Heilsburg Osten Ney defeated, marching on Elditten. 1522 1502
78 Bennigsen Heilsburg L'Estocq Ney defeated, withdrawing to Allenstein. We are marching on Elditten w/ 1 Corp & guard. 1523 1503
79 Ney S. of Heilsburg Napoleon Have held them for 3 1/2 hours. Have 2 cav, 1 inf left - am going to Marienburg. 1525 1505
80 Napoleon Marienburg Rapp March to Heilsberg via Plonsk - Neidenburg - Allenstein - Queelz. 1525 1505
81 Osten
Bennigsen Bernadotte corp overrun & marshal captured! V Corps advanced to M'burg. 3rd Div disintegrating. 1525 1505
82 Golitsyn Danzig Bennigsen Captured Bernadotte. His corps is gone. About to engage Soult, Lannes, & Murat. 1528 1508
83 Bennigsen Heilsburg Tuchkov Move on Amsteffen [??] - Jankovo - attack Danzig from rear in person [??] 1535 1515
84 Bennigsen Heilsburg-Elditten Osterman-Tolstoi Verbal order - move to Elditten then Preussidche Holland  1540 1520
85 Sedmoratzky Bischofsburg Bennigsen All necessary aid is in smashing the French squares, sir! 1550 1530
86 Bennigsen Elditten Sedmoratzky We are marching on Danzig. What is your status? 1550 1530
87 Bennigsen Elditten Tuchkov We are on flank of French near Preussische Holland. What is your status? 1555 1535
88 Sedmoratzky Bischofsburg Bennigsen Sir, cavalry turned Davout's right flank & are rampaging through his rear, casualties on both sides mounting. 1556 1536
89 Bennigsen Elditten/Danzig Sedmoratzky Very good, my general. Do you require any assistance? 1605 1545
90 Tuchkov Jankovo Bennigsen Am outside Jankovo. Have contacted one full [??] Fr. Div. Plus 2 cav & 1 inf [UNINTELLIGIBLE] from shattered Ney Fr. Corp. 1609 1549


  1. Looks like another successful Snappy Day. I chuckled at the cancellation of the supply rules. I seem to remember the barrels in our 1809 game?
    Someway for the orders to allow cavalry screening would be good.

    1. Ah yes, the barrels! It was actually a pretty good idea.

      The supply rules that James ultimately threshed out, after many revisions, really would have been pretty workable. At the same time, I don't think that forgoing them really lost anything, as discussed above.

  2. Peter, first and foremost, this is a brilliant piece of work! Worthy of a published hardcopy scenario booklet on its own. The multiple maps laid out in context to the campaign map provide a help and logical gaming aid. Individual maps are clear and concise. Very impressive effort.

    Second, Arnold's CinS is my favorite treatment of the 1807 campaign.

    You deserve a break after all of this work but please don't. I enjoy your work too much!

    1. James, of course, has to take the vast majority of the credit for this event, which was assuredly the best planned and oganized one to date, as well as being a lot of fun.

      Obviously, I agree re: Arnold's book.

      James is still recovering from the efforts of the past 6+ months. :-)

      For my part, just writing up this series of Blog posts has been a lots of work in and of itself. I have to get back to painting and finalizing the scenarios for my 4 Historicon games... in just 2 months. I hope to playtest the Klagenfurt scenario in June.

  3. Wow!

    Peter this post is a wargamers dream. So much wonderful detail, maps to play the entire campaign or just several battles and detailed descriptions of a campaign actually fought by wargamers. Your friend James so rightly deserves a fine and resounding pat on the back gif his efforts, as do you. As you know, like yourself and JF I am a massive fan of James Arnold's works as well.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Carlo.
      Yes, you could easily play a campaign on a subsection of the map, or change the set ups and victor conditions, or even the names of the locations. Or just play as it is with some what different set up and victory conditions.
      I really am going to have to spring for some more of James Arnold's excellent books.

  4. Magnificent effort, such a great resource to have for everyone else too, thanks!

    1. THanks, Mark! White James absolutely deserves the lion's share of the credit, like our previous Snappy Nappy "Campaign in a Day" events, it wouldn't have happened without the rest of the team, including Phil who provided the 15mm troops, the guys who helped with the "table dressing", The Portal an its staff, and, of course... the players!

  5. I was just thinking the same as Mark above. I can see myself coming back to this, especially as it is one of my favourite campaigns. Now if only I had some Russians in pre-1812 uniforms with those nice thick plumes.

    1. I love the 1807 era Russian Uniforms - much more colorful than the 1812 ones. Sadly, no one really made them when I started decades ago, so 1812 it is! Of course, we used 15's this time, where you can hardly tell the difference anyway!

      Yes, feel free to take this stuff and adapt it further for your own use whenever@!

  6. Superb effort by all. GM and scenario designers must take the first leading stage bow but all the players added their efforts to a successful group effort. Rabbit cheers for all... The tabletop to maps to zonal movement concepts excellent and well thought out.

    Maybe chase the local group to more campaign effort. The Group is painting 28mm 1806 Prussians at the moment, but alas, the Russian early years project is a future project collection for this WR. Too much still to be done.

    1. Although I really like (prefer) the early Prussian and Russian uniforms to the later ones, neither I nor any of our group has figures in them - we simply used the 1812 era figures without thinking about it for a moment.

      If you can pull off the "Lannes" style project with your group, that might spur interest in taking the Campaign concept further... or not! :-)

    2. Peter.... we need Russian and Prussian conscription practices... 25 years (or life) of wargame playing and service in the group... HaHaa. Still trying to enlist the group mob for Lannes styled campaign. Need more one on one face time. Your campaign scenario posts are helping swing the thought processes.

    3. As you well know, there are plenty of different ways to do this. A sort of "League" approach like the one you've proposed seems like a reasonable place to start!