Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Battle Report: Gorodetschna, 1812

The last post set out the scenario and background for Gorodetschna (with some modifications as a result of this playtest), so we'll move right along to the action. The game was played at The Time Machine in Manchester, CT; thanks to Ken et al for the use of the facilities. Czar Barry and I had the Russians, while Thomas and Greg had the Austrians and Saxons (mostly) respectively. One of the reasons for choosing this scenario was that all of the 'Rats can contribute troops to the game at HAVOC in April. Thomas brought his beautiful Front Rank Austrians, but as he arrived just after we finished setting out the troops only his newest unit (of Austrian Hussars) made it on the table this time.

This first of several pictures by Barry (thanks to the Czarina are in order for the camera, I think!) shows a long distance overview of the Eastern half of the battlefield, with the Austrians of Trautenberg and Frimont in the near ground, and the Russians all concentrated opposite them, Markov's troops being the nearer, and Kamenski's behind. They appear well prepared to defend any frontal crossing of the very marshy banked and difficult river!

The Eastern half of the Table seen from the Southern (Russian) side. The near troops are Barry's, all Front rank and very nicely painted. For all but a few artillery units and Cossacks, it will be their first tabletop action, and you know what that usually means!  Note how they tower over my vintage Minifigs!

To the far West, is the bulk of Reynier's Saxon Corps. They have "stolen a March" on the Russians, and are largely concealed within the dense pine woods. Austrian cavalry prepare to cross over the bridge (causeway) and support them.

Close up of the Austrian Cavalry command of Zechmeister. This photo is particualrly interesting as it depicts thee different units of Austrian Hussars, by three different manufacturers! To the far right are Thomas' beautifully painted unit by Front rank, with the bright blue shakos. To their left are my vintage Minifigs from 2 different regiments, bright green shakos in front and grey behind. On the far left are my Essex Hussars in the scarlet shakos, painted in 2009. The Front rank figures are enormous, I'd guess well over 30mm, and dwarf the "true" 25mm Minifigs, with the Essex in between, perhaps 28mm. Finally, the officer, wearing the uniform of a Hungarian Cavalry general, is by Old Glory!

 Barry's close up of the Russian deployment, focusing understandably on his new Front Rank figures; note once again the contrast between my old Minifigs. His infantry are based on 2 x 2" stands, 4 per stand, while mine are on 1 x 1.5-1.75" stands, further highlighting the disparity. Still, it had no effect upon game play at all, and didn't look badly on the table!

My own picture of the Saxons deployment, ready to burst forth from the Woods. The Saxons inlude my own vintage Minifigs, and some new troops of Greg's, ? Old Glory, with my troops in the shako and his in the bicorn!

Last is Siegenthal's Austrian Division, deployed West of Frimont and East of Zechmeister's commands.

More close up shot of Frimont's command and part of Trautenberg. The Russian buildings are by Hovels.

Trautenberg's Division as deployed at the start of the game.

 Close up of the massed Russian deployment. "I'm supposed to pin down all of that?"  Yeah, right!

Hordes of Ruskis eagerly await any attempted crossing of the river by the Kaiserlicks!

Overview of the table at the start of the game. Russian scouts have just reported a possible out flanking move by the Saxons. Do ya think?  Allied objectives are the low ridge, and the Russian line of communications (road exit near Zavnice, the building in the upper right hand (South- East) corner of the table.

The game commences, and very early the Russians turn a Maneuver card. How convenient! Czar Barry turns a Dragoon Division and an Infantry brigade to the West in response to the rumors of suspicious goings-on auf der Sachen-Wald. Note that in Field of Battle, troops can only move when they get a MOVE card, and they can only change their facing on a MANEUVER card, or on a MOVE card where they roll an "even" number on the Leadership die roll by the Command Group leader.  Thus just because you can see a threat to your flank gives NO guarantee you can  respond to it!

 On a hot streak, the Russians turn a MOVE ONE COMMAND card; they chose the newly maneuvered Dragoon Division to act upon the card. Czar Barry rolls very high, and they are allowed THREE move segments - 36' in all. Forming a nice echelon, they ride hell-for-leather to head off the Saxons form the vital road exit! Gorgeous troops, eh?  Barry's Front rank Russians with GMB flags.

In Field of Battle, when the two C-in-C's roll for the initiative, the winner chooses whether to go first or second, but both sides will ultimately have the same number of impetus points (cards, essentially) to act upon. The sequence of the cards, and their usefulness at the time, my be radically different, however! On the Allied initiative, a MOVE card sees the Saxons emerge from among the trees. An unlimbered Austrian horse battery  has moved forwards, perhaps a trifle too boldly; limbered artillery is terribly vulnerable, and as there is no set turn sequence, leaving them unscreened is asking for trouble if the play of the cards goes against you. In addition, Russian reinforcements are known to be coming, due to arrive along the very road the guns are astride.

Meanwhile, North of the River, Thomas is playing his Austrian commands quite aggressively, as they start the difficult task of fording the marshy river in the face of massed Russian opposition. The first artillery shots of the battle are exchanged, and an Austrian Battery is routed due to loses.

The Russians seize the initiative again, and another MOVE card appears. Hullo, the Western end of the table looks quite different now with the arrival of Lambert's command of Russian reinforcements. And damned if the Russian Dragoon command didn't roll three segments and *even*, allowing a grand charge. Their first time in action finds them unable to resist the temptation, as one unit slams into the flank of the Saxon Dragoons and another charges a unit of Saxon foot in line formation. A unit of Russian Hussars has already charged and routed their Saxon counterparts, seen streaming to the rear in their sky blue uniforms.

The same scene seen from the opposite side of the table; the Saxon Infantry is about to seize the ridge.

Another picture of the grand charge of the Russian Dragoons! Note the D12 from the set of  "Jalapeno Dice" in the background. What dice can be hotter than Jalapeno dice, I ask?

Aftermath of the charge: not surprisingly the Saxon Dragoons are forced back (but not destroyed). The Saxon Foot, who only start with a D8 Combat Die (worst possible) desperately need a good volley to prevent the Dragoons from trampling them underfoot in the melee to follow. Hmm, UP 1 for First fire, UP 1 for Point Blank Range, and UP 1 for Target in deep formation - Now that D8 is up to a D12 +1!  Greg rolls for their fire, having selected the dreaded Jalapeno Dice for this game. Greg rolls a 10, plus 1 is eleven, while Barry's D6 Defense Die roll is... a two. Difference of nine, causing the Dragoons to lose 3 Unit Integrity. As that reduces them to zero UI, they Rout. Saxons win!  Note the use of "smoke" to indicate the Saxons have fired, and are "unloaded" (unable to fire) again until the smoke is removed when the Allies next turn an INFANTRY FIREPOWER card.  Note also the "Rock" and the "Ram" markers on the Saxon Dragoons in the background. The "rock" indicates the Dragoons have lost one UI, whilst the "Ram" indicates the unit is "Out of Command"; this is a bit like "shaken" might be in some other rules sets. Finally, note the "smoke" on the unit of Russian Musketeers with the yellow flag in the foreground; they have just fired at the limbered Horse battery, scoring heavy losses and removing it from play.

 Meanwhile, the initiative has returned once again to the Allies! Showing remarkable aggressiveness and sang-froid, Thomas throws the Austrian Divisions of Frimont and Trautenberg across the river and into the teeth of the hordes of waiting Russians. This can't end well for the white coats... can it?

Back on the Western end of the table, the Saxons use the MOVE card to form square with some of their infantry to protect the flank of the rest of the Division as it advances upon the key ridgeline, while the newly arrived supporting Austrian cavalry Division of Zechmeister sends a unit of chevaulegers charging into the unloaded Russian line infantry seeking to avenge their Horse Artillery's extermination.

 Overview of the Western end of the table, with Bianchi's Austrian Infantry Division now also across the bridge and into the woods.

Reynier's troops seize the Ridge, as the remaining unit of Russian dragoons can only watch impotently, being bereft of meaningful infantry support.

Another Austrian Move card results in storm of cavalry charges, a unit of Russian Jagers in skirmish order being caught unloaded. Not surprisingly, they were destroyed in the ensuing melee!

 Overview of the Saxon position and Western end of the battlefield at this juncture.

The Saxon infantry are now firmly established on the ridge, with little likelihood the Russians will be able to eject them. I love the Saxon standards, BTW; in this case all hand painted by me many years ago.

 Back to Eastern half of the battlefield. Thomas' troops have charged several times in a row, and have blown straight through the first Russian command with minimal losses. Amazing! Meanwhile, Russian Cavalry gallops to the West attempting to contest the dangerous Saxon advance. Well placed Austrian batteries have already routed the Uhlans with their timely fire. The Austrian Infantry command continues to the West, but is still too far away to accomplish anything.

  Close up of the seemingly unstoppable Austrian steamroller, powered by Thomas seemingly rolling nothing but 11's and 12's! Czar Barry could seldom roll more than 2 or 3 in response.

Even Siegthal's Division is across the stream now, and enjoying shooting up Russian cavalry from the flank. There will be much weeping in Moscow!

What is left of Lambert's troops (my command) - a rather naked looking horse battery, a unit of Hussars, and a single infantry unit... with hordes of Austrian infantry and cavalry descending upon them!

The Russian Infantry Command detailed to contain the Saxons hasn't made much progress; We (the Russians) had a huge run of impetus - 11 points, and made good use of it, but when the Austrians got their 11 impetus thereafter, they made even better use, and won the next roll for yet another 9 impetus points. Although Filed of Battle includes LULL cards that can interrupt a long run like this at the most inopportune times, the few that the Allies turned wound up doing nothing to further the Russian cause, and by the time the dust had settled, an absolutely astounding number of Russian units had been destroyed outright - something that is quite unusual in Field of Battle. In addition to allowing deadly Allied action, the long impetus run precluded the Russians turning any LEADERSHIP cards to rally their troops.  Although the Russians would doubtless have used their own upcoming impetus run to redress the situation , they had only two army morale points left versus more than thirty for the Allies. In Field of Battle, when an army reaches zero Army Morale Points, it is vulnerable to the ARMY MORALE CHECK card; flub that roll, and your army pretty much packs it in then! As I had promised to be home to take my wife out to dinner, we called the battle at this point. It was clearly a Major Allied Victory... and threatening to become even worse than that for the Russkis!

Although Barry and I had our clocks cleaned but good in this one, we had an absolute blast playing the game anyway. As you can see, it looked great as well. Total playing time was less than 4 hours. Vive FoB! Hopefully the game goes half as well at HAVOC in April!


  1. Massive amount of troops there Peter!

    My only concern when I play in games like this is the mass of troops in one sector causing a gigantic traffic jam.

    I'm very leary of playing in games like that. Was it really that crowded in the real battle?

  2. A couple of things as far as this particular scenario is concerned. First, the Russians are more densely packed than they would otherwise be, as Barry's FR Infantry are mounted on stands that are twice as deep as the others, and his Cavalry are on bigger stands as well. As you are aware, anytime we put miniatures on the table top, the depth of formations gets greatly exaggerated; indeed, the bulk of the area covered by our miniatures bases would be empty space in real life. Second, by its nature the scenario here does involve the potential for traffic problems due to the impassable swamp that basically only permits progress around it to the West on either side, which makes the Russians face some tough choices when responding to the Saxon flanking attack. Third, we deliberately set the scenario on a fairly small table (8 x 5 feet), because that's the table size for the HAVOC convention.

    In the actual playinmg of the game it really wasn't an issue. As you know, Field of Battle allows free interpenetration of your own troops at will. That really cuts down on fussy issues when moving!

  3. Great report and lovely figures all around. No modification to FOB for the size of the game?


  4. John,

    That's one of the great things about Field of Battle; it handles huge games (which this was not, just large, LOL) as easily as small ones. In fact, the more players the faster it plays. Eventually I'll post pics from Wagram, 2009. 14 players, nearly 3,000 figures, and done in 4 hours. Only special rule for that game was to change Army Morale Check to Corps Morale Check! There will be some Grand tactical ideas for FoB out, but I frankly find them unnecessary, at least so far. Borodino is on the schedule for 2012, Dresden for 2013, and Znaim for Historicon 2011.

  5. Great report Peter. It was definitely a bad day to be a Cossack. The scenario played great and was a blast. It was a truly “bloody battle”. Next time I’ll try to roll something higher than a 4.

  6. Hi Peter

    Entertaining report.

    The figure size difference in various manufacturers very evident :-)


  7. Barry: Well, I didn't roll mych better than you. Next time I'm NOT loaning out the Jalapeno dice! :-)

    Garry: Glad you enjoyed the report. The uniformity in size by manufacturer is impressive, isn't it? :-) I don't have any Front Rank in my armies as yet, although I do have 4 units of Young Gaurd by FR to paint for 1812/13, and have lead for a couple of units of Spanish, and army that will probably be all FR figures.